Those who believe that the Church will be spared from the end-time tribulation argue that
God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ
." (1Thess 5:9; see 1:10, "
Jesus ... rescues us from the coming wrath
"). But it seems clear that thesepassages do not refer to a satanically launched persecution against the Church, but to
God’srighteous punishment against the wicked
; it goes without saying that by definition, believerswill not pass through this.On the other hand, the sufferings and persecutions that we Christians must endure
because of ourwitness of Christ
are in fact tribulations. The Greek word
, translated "trouble","suffering" , "tribulation", etc., appears 45 times in the New Testament, and it usually refers to thehardships that believers must endure for Christ’s sake. Some examples follow: "
In this world youwill have trouble
]..." (John 16:33); "
We must go through many hardships to enter thekingdom of God
." (Acts 14:22); "
we also rejoice in our sufferings
" (Rom 5:3; see Rom 8:35-39;12:12); "
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ ... who conforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble...
" (2 Cor 1:4); "
we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring
." (2 Thess 1:4); "
Theseare they who have come out of the great tribulation
" (Rev 7:14). In Revelation, John identifieshimself with those persecuted Christians to whom he addresses the book, and styles himself astheir "
companion in the suffering
" (Rev 1:9).The Church must endure right to the very
end of the world
as Christ’s witness to all the nations(Matt 28:18-20). Our Lord did not ask His Father to have the Church raptured before the end, butprotected from the evil one (John 17:15). Real believers and unbelievers are to remain
upto that great Day of the Lord when their separation will take place: "
At that time I will tell theharvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned, then gather the wheat and bring it to my barn
." (Matt 13:30).To some confused believers who thought that Jesus’ return could happen "at any time", Paulwrote: "
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy ... saying that the dayof the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not comeuntil the rebellion
and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed todestruction
." (2 Thess 2:1-3). Therefore, the manifestation of the end-time Antichrist and theapostasy –
, i.e., defection from the Christian faith by many- are things that true believerswill see and suffer
our Lord’s coming in glory and their gathering together with Him.4.
Summary: Our blessed hope
A Rapture that will supposedly deliver the Church from end-time persecution
is never styled as"our blessed hope"
in the New Testament
Paul taught Titus that our blessed hope is the
(Tit 1:2), and admonished him to live according to this hope "
while we wait for the blessed hope –the glorious appearing of our great Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
" (Tit 2:13).The New Testament teaches that the Church will be the witness for Jesus Christ
until the daywhen her Lord returns
for the blessing of His people and the cursing of His foes. Before thatday, the Church will have to endure great tribulations, and particularly, right before the end of theage, the
led by Antichrist, the Man of Lawlessness. As during allher history, the true militant Church will fight "
the good fight
" until the Lord comes. No
sign will announce the imminent coming of Jesus Christ (Luke 17:26-36). It will be as a thief inthe night, since not even believers know on what day the Lord will come (Matt 24: 42-44; 25:13, 1Thess 5:1-3; 2 Pet 3:9-10). This is why we are repeatedly called
to be alert
: real Christians do notneed to be prompted by signs, since as good Christ’s soldiers they are always ready.Peter spoke of our Lord’s
not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come torepentance
" (2 Pet 3:9) . Here is the reason why Jesus is delaying His coming; and if this –everyone’s salvation- is the Lord´s sovereign wish, then it must also be important for us. But, how
Page 3 of 4The Rapture of the Church4/7/2009http://www.mountainretreatorg.net/eschatology/rapturechurch.html