One of the central tenets of the pretribulation rapture teaching is that the church is to be judiciously spared the catastrophic events that will occur on the earth during the tribulation.
It is taken for granted that within this concept of the church being spared the tribulation…the natural desire and preference of the church likewise is to be with Jesus Christ in heaven.
This is referred to in Titus 2:13 as the “blessed hope.”
Paul writes in Philippians 1:21-24…”For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labor, yet what I shall choose I know not. For I am in a strait between two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless, to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.”
Paul similarly writes in 2 Corinthians 5:8…”We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”
Yet I do not think that anyone would suggest that Paul is saying here that he would prefer to cut short his ministry and opt for an early retirement plan…before he had completed his calling.
While making his defense before King Agrippa in Caesarea, Paul says: “Having therefore, obtained help from God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great” (Acts 26:22).
The overriding desire of Paul’s heart was to “apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:12).
Paul tells Timothy: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7).
The natural inclination…to be spared the end-times tribulation…is countered by the equally powerful natural desire to test our individual spirits under fire…to see what we are truly made of under the power and anointing of the Holy Spirit…and to complete our individual callings before moving on into eternity.
Purpose is central…to fulfilling our Christian callings.
I believe that every Christian raptured early, according to the pretribulation scenario, would be watching the end-times action below on earth and saying to themselves that they would rather have liked more opportunity to labor in the final harvest of lost souls…and to further perfect their faith.
I believe they would have strongly mixed feelings about the joy of being raptured early into heaven, as opposed to being on the earth participating alongside the “left behind” tribulation saints, in the challenging end-times events taking place before their eyes…while gazing down from heaven.
I believe raptured Christians would look down upon earth, seeing neighbors, friends, and family members and say that they still could have made a contribution to the continued preaching of the gospel and the saving of souls.
I believe raptured Christians would be incensed and infuriated with righteous indignation at the deceptions and outright lies being spread by the Antichrist and the false prophets, and would give anything to be on earth again in the most aggressive opposition to these eternally damning lies, even at the cost of trading their being raptured pretribulation…to instead be martyred for their Christian service during the tribulation.
I believe that pretribulation raptured Christians would rather be numbered among the “called, and chosen, and faithful” of Revelation 17:14, to be in the frontlines of the battle rather than possibly forever being labeled as rear-echelon soldiers…raptured merely because they were Spirit-born.
I believe that the last-days Christian church would rather be trained for world-class quality spiritual warfare and go into battle to be honorably spent in committed service to Jesus Christ.
I believe we would all like to avoid the status of forever being considered untested and untried, amidst the innumerable company of overcoming saints and angels who have gone before us (Heb. 12:22-23).
I believe that every Christian would like to experience the thrill of being Holy Spirit empowered in the last days, with self-astonishing Christ-like character in action.
Christians today need to think critically about this notion that the rapture occurring before the start of the tribulation would bring a sense of fulfillment, finality, and closure to their journey of faith.
The white-robed multitudes coming out of the “great tribulation” of Revelation 7:14, those who maintained the word of their testimony of Revelation 12:11, and the saints of Revelation 14:12 who through patience keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus…all have the sense of being conquerors and overcomers.
The faithful men and women identified in these last-days prophetic scriptures have not the slightest hint of incompleteness or partial fulfillment of their heavenly calling…of being pulled out of the game too soon.