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Will the church go through the Great Tribulation?

Autor: Lic. Dawlin A. Ureña
(Masters Candidate and member of the
Scientific Research Society (CRS)

After having analyzed many events that the Bible teaches would take place before the church is taken up to heaven, it is necessary that we analyze an important event described in the Bible, which because of lack of space, we have not been able to develop in previous issues. However, in this volume of Before the End, we will study about whether or not the church will go through the period of suffering and persecution that the Bible describes as the Great Tribulation.

Will the church go through the Great Tribulation?

Through the years, a false perception has risen from within the church. I wouldn't say it's a false doctrine; perhaps it would be safe to say it's a misinterpretation. One of the interpretations defends the idea that the church will go through the period popularly known as the Great Tribulation. What the Bible teaches, however is the contrary. We will show you from a biblical perspective that such a notion is not expressly defined in the Bible. We will prove that in fact the born again Christians will be "caught up" in the clouds in what is popularly known as the Rapture.

If you are wondering what things will happen during this tribulation period, just listen to what Jesus Himself prophesied would take place: "…the stars will fall from the sky [Did you watch Deep Impact & Armageddon?], and the heavenly bodies will be shaken." Mathews 24:29. It is possible that an asteroid will fall on earth and will cause that "every island fled away and the mountains could not be found" (Revelation 16:20, Rev. 8:8 & Rev. 8:10). This will probably result in a Tsunami that will cause total devastation. An earthquake that will kill ¼ of the earth's population will take place (Ezekiel 38:19; Rev. 6:12). This will activate many volcanoes, and….

What does the Bible teach about the Rapture?

The Bible describes how the church will be "caught up" in the clouds and we will be given new bodies; incorruptible ones. These bodies are vividly described in 1 Corinthians 15:52, where it is specified that our bodies will be changed and that "the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable." These bodies will be as Jesus Christ's body was after His resurrection. And the Rapture will take place in a "twinkling of an eye" 1 Corinthians 15:52.

In this event, dead people that had followed Jesus, from the period of history that contains the years elapsed from His ascension until the moment when "the last trumpet sounds" will be raised; followed, seconds later, by the bodies of the Christians that are alive. (See 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

We know that the Rapture will take place before the tribulation because the tribulation will be a pouring of God's wrath on the earth with no match in history. (Please see Revelation 6:17). But at the same time, the ones who are saved, yes the ones who are born again, do not have to fear such wrath because we "wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead--Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath." 1 Timothy 1:10.

Does Paul mention the Rapture in any of his letters?

The Christians of Thessalonians (one of the first Christian churches) were angry and confused because within their congregation there were people dying and Jesus had not yet "appeared in the clouds" calling them. Remember that Jesus promised that He would "come soon". So it is understandable that they were desperate, anxious and discouraged because of Jesus' tardiness. So when Paul found out about this, he intents to bring them consolation, and in doing so, he gets to the point to confess or share with them a "secret" or a "mystery" which he was not supposed to reveal. This is the reason why Paul, like someone who shares an information with you which he is not supposed to, or that is supposed to keep in secret, tells them the following:

"Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed-- in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed." 1 Corinthians 15:51-52

Notice the measure of confidentially used to expresses this statement. It's like if saying, "Listen brothers and sisters, I am not supposed to tell you this, because it is a secret, but for you to regain confidence, this is what I want you to know."

Note: 14 years earlier, while Paul was preaching the gospel in the city of Lystra "They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead." That's when he was taken into the Third Heaven, and he heard "inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell." See Acts 14:19 and 2 Corinthians 12:4. It is evident that while though dead, Paul saw and heard things that were supposed to be kept in secret, but in the heat of the moment he was urged to tell them part of what he saw. In fact, he was telling them that the ones that had already died (eventually all of them), along with the ones alive in the moment of the Rapture, would be gathered, whenever the occurrence of Jesus' return.

What would be a possible scenario when this Rapture takes place?

In the moment the Rapture occurs, I imagine there will be big catastrophes around the world. Imagine that you are at the airport, picking up your son. While you are sitting and waiting, perhaps eating a sandwich, at a deli, suddenly the girl who was serving you vanishes in front of your very eyes. Leaving behind her clothes, shoes and earrings. The glass of juice she was offering you shatters on the floor. At the same time, you look through the window of the airport and the plane in which your son was arriving, crashes on the runway. Shocked at the crash, before your very eyes, you see on the highway beyond the runway, cars starting to pile up. You can hear the cries and the gasps of the others in the airport as they realize people have vanished. Children running in the airport have disappeared. You run outside to the plane and hear the sirens blaring. People are trying to get out of their cars. Many of the people are moaning, some are not moving and you fear they are dead. People are walking around dazed, asking everyone, "What happened? Where are my loved ones?" You can listen to the sirens of police rescue equipment all around the city, while thousands of people abandon their houses and stumble into each other while crying out to heaven "WHERE ARE OUR LOVED ONES?"

Your mind struggles trying to come up with a "logical explanation" to what just happened. It is not until some minutes later that you remember reading in a newsletter, 4-5 months earlier, in which the author was talking about an event like this, which was found in the Bible. You cry bitterly, because not only were you LEFT BEHIND, but because you also remember reading in the same newsletter that from that moment on, a period of "seven years would start", in which the earth would go through "days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now--and never to be equaled again." Mark 13:19.

Despite all these evidences found in the Bible, different teachers have different interpretations. Next, we will briefly analyze the THREE main currents of belief related to the Rapture of the church

1. NO RAPTURE

Despite the fact that the Rapture of the church is a fact accepted by many churches in the world, there are religions that do not preach nor believe that the Rapture will ever take place, and eagerly affirm that the world "might never end". (Please, refer to the article published by Catholic weekly, entitled "Scripture doesn't predict end of time" by Bishop Kenneth Untener in the last page of this issue.) Only by reading the heading of this article you can see how many have decided to substitute the teachings of Jesus himself for their personal opinions and interpretations.

Note on Purgatory: "state of existence or condition of the soul of a person who has died in a state of grace but who has not been purged, or purified, from all possible stain of unforgiven venial sins (pardonable less-serious offenses against God), forgiven mortal sins (serious offenses against God that destroy sanctifying grace), imperfections, or evil habits. Souls in such conditions must thus be purified before entering heaven" Copyright 1994-1998. Encyclopedia Britannica

It is dangerous when we substitute the teachings of the Bible for other ideas. Bible doctrines were clearly stated, taught but Jesus and are to be taken LITERALLY. In his second letter to the Corinthians, Paul said, "And we are not afraid, but are quite content to die, for THEN we will be at home with the Lord." -The Living Bible, Catholic Edition. 1981. Note how it reads that when we die we are going to be "at home with the Lord", not anywhere else!

It is clearly taught in both, the Old and New Testaments, that we will come back with Jesus to fight against the troops of the Antichrist at the time of Jesus' Glorious and Final Return. For you to be back from somewhere, you first need to be in that place… don't you? (See Joel 3:11; 1 Thess. 3:13; Jude 14)

Revelation 8:8 "The second angel sounded his trumpet, and something like a huge mountain, all ablaze, was thrown into the sea. A third of the sea turned into blood, [9] a third of the living creatures in the sea died, and a third of the ships were destroyed." What does this sound like to you, specially if you have seen Deep Impact and Armageddon, plus knowing that there are more than "500 asteroids that will cross the earth's orbit within the next few years"?* Please, notice that in the past God used this "fire and burning sulfur" falling form the heavens to bring punishment on sinful societies in: Gen. 19:24; 1 King 18:38 - 39; 1 Samuel 7:10. * The Discovery Channel. 1998

The position of NO RAPTURE must be rejected on the basis of Paul's teaching in 2 Timothy: "…evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived" Paul's description of things that will happen in the last days describe things becoming "bad to worse" not "better to better", like suggested by bishop Untener in his article.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:16 the Bible says, "For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. [17] After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. [18] Therefore encourage each other with these words." Thus, the view of NO RAPTURE must be rejected. I encourage you to look to the Word of God for the Truth!

2. posttribulation RAPTURE.
This position holds that the church will go through the seven-year tribulation period. That it will endure the judgement and the wrath of God and will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air to return immediately with Him to the earth.

A scripture used to justify this position is John 16:33: "In the world you will have tribulations."

In Scripture, the word tribulation is used in two different ways. First it is used to describe any severe trial that comes upon an individual in his walk with Christ. In this sense, the believer must expect tribulation. Second, the word is used to describe that seven-year period when the wrath of god is poured out on the earth upon men for their rejection of Jesus Christ and the Gospel.

The purpose of the tribulation is to punish those who have rejected the Word of God. Believers are given the promise: "There is therefore now no condemnation [judgement] to those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans 8:1) The church cannot experience the judgement of the Tribulation, because the blood of Christ at Calvary removed their judgement.

Do you think that after having abandoned the pleasures of the world, perhaps many friends and relatives as well, after having left behind everything to serve Jesus, He will let you go through this 7-year period of tribulation? Please understand that the Bible states that this period is nothing but designed to make believers of those who for years and years have been denying the deity of Jesus and his return to the earth? John the Revelator tells us: "For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" (Revelation 6:17). Those days have been specially designed to soften the hearts of the unbelievers, but even so they "did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood--idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts." (Revelation 9:20-21).

But when Jesus comes back during his Second and Final Coming, it won't be the Open Arms Loving Jesus. No! Men will be punished so harshly that… "The kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. They called to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!" Can you see yourself involved in that mess?

There will be an earthquake that will kill 1/3 of the population of the earth. Please see Rev. 6:12-14. There will be an asteroid falling in the middle of the ocean that will kill most of the fish of the oceans and half of the remaining men. Would you please confirm that in your own Bibles, in Revelation 6:13 and Rev. 8:8-9? Is it there…? SURPRISE!

3. Pretribulation Rapture

This position holds that the church will be raptured before the Tribulation begins. I strongly defended this position! Dr. John Hagee tells us: "The very nature of the tribulation precludes the church from going through any part of it. The tribulation is a time of wrath, judgement, indignation, darkness, destruction and death". Paul wrote: "There is therefore now no condemnation [judgement] to those who are in Christ Jesus." (Romans. 8:1)." The church has been cleansed by the blood of Jesus and needs no other purification, other than that obtained by the confession of sin and the blood of Jesus Christ, not a personal suffering.

Please refer to Before the End Vol. 5, for a closer view to this matter. There, we explain the roll of Israel in spotting the time of the Rapture of the church and what will happen to the Jews during - Jacob's Trouble - after we are gone.

I am amazed sometimes about how lost one can get when attending a school where the ones teaching believe they know more than the One who wrote the book. Where these "teachers" put aside the Textbook and start teaching their own thing. Would you believe that my wife mentioned the world Rapture to someone who has been attending a church all her life and she turned around and said: "The Rapture… What's that?" This Rapture event is not secret in the Word of God. In fact, there have been 3 Rapture occurrences registered in the Real TextBook - The Bible.

1st Rapture: "Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away." Genesis 5:24.

2nd Rapture: "As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind." 2KI 2:11

3rd Rapture: "After he, [Jesus] said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going…" Acts 1:9-10.

Please, compare these occurrences with the way John the Revelator saw us, the Church being raptured:

Revelation 11:11 "Then they [the "born again" - see John 3:3!) heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, 'Come up here', and they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on." (KJV)

And someone might say:

"I thought "everybody" was going to heaven? That's what my religious leaders say!"

Well, my beloved friend, I'd love to agree with your "religious leader", but that's not what THE WORD OF GOD tells us! Let me show you what I am talking about:

· In 1Corintians 6:9 it reads: "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."

· "Come on Dawlin, you are saying that God would leave a good guy like me abandoned down here? He wouldn't send me to hell, would He?": "I tell you … unless you repent, you too will all perish" and in case you did not catch that, Jesus repeats Himself and says: "I tell you…unless you repent, you too will all perish." Luke 13:3 and Luke 13:5.

· "But I thought God was all love!" Well, the thing is that you need to read and believe the WORD OF GOD - THE BIBLE, from Genesis to the maps, because in Luke 13: 24 we read: "For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God" and if you want to get a picture of God real angry, coming against those who have rejected His Son's Gospel over and over again, listen to this: "See, the Name of the LORD comes from afar with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke; his lips are full of wrath, and his tongue is a consuming fire." Isaiah 30:27

Important things to keep in mind:

 The Bible tells us that after the Rapture, a World Dictator raises. He will exalt himself above God and will demand that everyone "receive the mark of the beast and worship his image" Revelation 19:20. See Before the End Vols. 4 and 5)

 This "Anti Christ" will be a charismatic, influent, and popular man that will rise up from a country that belongs to the European Union. The Bible describes him as a man that: "Will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many." Daniel 8:25 - See also Before the End Vol. 7, 8 and 9.

 He will promise "Peace and safety," [but] destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape." 1 Timothy 5:3.

 Those left after the Rapture will have to be "beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. [Those that] had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands." Revelation 20:4

 The signature of a Peace Treaty between Israel and its enemies for exactly 7-year is considered as a benchmark for the proximity of this "Rapture" that many of us are expecting and know will occur. "This King [Antichrist] will make a seven-year treaty with the people, but after half that time [3 ½ years], he will break his pledge and stop the Jews from their sacrifices and their offerings…" [in the Temple of God]. Please, see Before the End Vols. 2, 3, 6, 9 and 10.

 This 7 years period will literally be the LAST 7 YEARS OF HUMANITY AS WE KNOW IT. After half of this 7 year period, the Antichrist will show his real face and will come against people that God considers "the apple of his eye" - the Jews. Deuteronomy 32:10.And that will do it! That's going to be all folks! All hell will break loose on earth. Things will be so desperate for those left after the Rapture that they will tell "… to the mountains and the rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! [Jesus!] For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" Revelation 6:15.

I am telling you! If I were you, I would not gamble my eternal life one more minute by not coming to Jesus, so that He can save me from "The wrath of God [that] is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness." Romans 1:18. See Before the End Volumes. 7, 8, 9, and 10.

*All brackets mine. Dawlin A. Urena
*All quotes excerpted from The Living Bible, Catholic Edition.

Important annotations:

Now let me quote what the "FIRST POPE - Peter" said in 2 Peter 3:3-7:

"They will say, "First, I want to remind you that in the last days there will come scoffers who will do every wrong they can think of, and laugh at the truth. This will be their line of argument: "So Jesus promised to come back, did he? Then where is he? He'll never come! Why, as far back as anyone can remember everything has remained exactly as it was since the first day of creation.* But they deliberately forget that long ago by God's word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the Day of Judgment and destruction of ungodly men."

*Excerpted from The Living Bible (Paraphrased). Catholic Edition. Tyndale House Publishers. Wheaton, Illinois. Second Printing. February. 1978. Imprimatur by: Leo A. Pursley, Bishop of Fort Wayne - South Bend. USA.

"Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. [29] Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. [30] I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. [31] Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away." "Mark 13:28-31

These are the only verses he wanted to quote:
"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. [33] Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. [34] It's like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch." Mark 13:32-34

Scriptures to keep in mind:

"For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths." 2 Tim. 4:3,4

And in Colossians 2:8, it says: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ".

In the love of Christ,
Lic. Dawlin Ureña

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