As regular readers may know, I have been a decades-long supporter of a “Pre-Wrath Rapture” view of the end times and, therefore, a critic of the “Jesus can come at any moment” doctrine known as Pre-Tribulation Rapturism (PTR). Readers may detect that I no longer consider the imminent return of Christ position as benign, but as a departure from prophetic truth with the potential of disastrous consequences.
For students of Scripture eager for understanding and a fair presentation of what the Bible says, I heartily recommend “Lifesaver: Rescuing God’s People from the PTR Ship.” With twenty-five torpedoes aimed at the PTR’s bow, the book sinks any notion that this teaching is accurate or Biblical.
Regarding Christ’s return and the rapture, the plague of false alarms over the last 175 years is not connected to a denomination or group, but to a misguided proposition that Jesus can return at any moment promoted as orthodoxy. PTR teachers bear some responsibility for the crop of scoffers who scoff at the Lord’s return (cf. 2nd Peter 3:3).
“Any moment” prophets were trumpeting fake news long ago and are still doing so today. Check out these examples: This past month it was reported in a British paper that experts predicted the rapture and the end-of-the-world. Well, their Jesus’ return prediction came and went. Didn’t we already survive a rapture prophecy last April?
These false prophecies produce notoriety for the so-called prophets and confusion for those who believed them. All subscribe to an Imminent or Any-Moment Coming of Christ. The keystone of their PTR belief-system means a wait-and-see approach is necessary to see if the sensational prediction is true. It’s not until the morning after that the disappointed shake their heads.
In Matthew 24:25, Jesus warned readers ahead of time, yet PTR followers reject a serious study of his words. If they applied the rules for interpretation to this portion of Scripture, the PTR foundation would be left in ruins. Unless their teachers can convince the naïve that Jesus’ teaching on his coming and the sign of the end of the age was not for his disciples, their house of cards will collapse.
Take for example how PTR alters Jesus’ meaning for many in Matthew 24:
“Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name claiming ‘I am the Christ’ and deceive many.” (Matthew 24:4-5 NIV)
Classically, PTR teachers refer to the first many as the mentally ill who claim they are Jesus–and they cite some statistics that may or may not be manufactured. Are the deranged who manifest delusions of grandeur a threat to deceive Jesus’ disciples? I think not. Rather, was the Lord alerting us to the many wolves in sheep’s clothing who declare Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God; yet, in essence, call the Lord a liar when it comes to prophecy they do not like (Matthew 16:21-23). The unsuspecting followers who fall for the wolves’ lies will be many.
Remember PTR teachers claim no more signs are necessary before the rapture takes believers away, yet Jesus promised that many false prophets, false Christs and accompanying miracles are a sign (24:4-5, 11 and 23-24). False prophets will announce the imminent return of Jesus, then worship the beast when he arrives on cue. Friends, the PTR position is setting up millions for a bitter disappointment. They will learn too late it wasn’t Jesus they worshiped.
Read 2nd Thessalonians 2:1-12 and see if we are not warned of the deception. Study Jeremiah 5:12. Know what will become of the deceivers and the deceived.
“They have lied about the LORD; they said, ‘He will do nothing! No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine.’ The prophets are but wind and the word is not in them; so let what they say be done to them.” (5:12-13)