His Reward Is With Him
One of the most offensive doctrines taught by pre-tribulationists is the erroneous idea that those taken in the fictional pre-tribulation "rapture" will enjoy a great reward that will never be available to those that come to the Lord during the great tribulation. In this bizarre aspect of the cultic doctrine, the blind guides teach that "raptured" believers will be the only portion of "the church" to enter in to the wedding supper - a glorious event that is to be denied anyone that supposedly "misses" the "rapture."
The Rapturist Caste System
For instance, John F Walvoord, the former Chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary states that there is a definite "distinction" between those taken in the "rapture" and those that come to Christ during the tribulation. In this regard, Walvoord says anyone "missing" the "rapture" will not be considered as part of "the bride, the Lamb's wife" (Revelation 21:9) and could more properly be described as "attendants at the wedding…." (The Revelation Of Jesus Christ, J F Walvoord, Page 273).
Any woman that has ever been married in a fancy ceremony will tell you that in the resultant celebration (the wedding, the reception, etc), there's a quite a difference between being the bride and the busboy that cleans up the tables after the big party! Yet this is the logical conclusion to this bizarre system of spiritual bigotry.
In this weird way of looking at prophecy, the second-class citizen that only DIES for Christ during the tribulation is plainly penalized for not being "taken" in the so-called pre-tribulation rapture.
An analogy might be found in the sports world. In pro football, the college sports field ranks and drafts the best players. Being in the top ten in the "draft" guarantees a lucrative contract, celebrity status, product endorsements, and high media visibility. Conversely, an unranked player that just tries out for the team at the training camp might make an acceptable backup player for certain positions. The analogy would be complete if the team made the unranked players wear a sub-standard uniform in order to distinguish them from the 'top' players on the field.
This is the picture being pitched by the Rapture Cult. In this twisted rendition of prophecy, making the grade and getting "raptured" is everything - and getting "left behind" is the pits. Unfortunately, the fraud being perpetrated by these pretenders gets even worse.
It is common in Rapture Cult circles for evangelists to utilize vivid descriptions of the prophesied tribulation as a way to frighten people into accepting Christ - a theological variant of the old 'carrot and stick.' The idea is typical of the Madison Avenue approach to advertising. In the ad world, the sales formula requires the advertiser to first seek to visualize the problem, then sell the prospect the inexpensive solution. Thousands of hours of actors and actresses feigning great pain in their faces as a testimony to their horrible headache is the evidence of this type of marketing formula. Then suddenly, smiles are abundant because they took the 'brand X' remedy.
This tactic is advertising 101 and it's taught at University level. In the rapturist's adaptation of the manipulative system, the preacher waxes eloquent on the horrors of the tribulation, then contrasts those hideous conditions with the prospect of a sudden and imminent evacuation that is bloodless and instantaneous.
"You don't want to be left behind to face the terrors of the Antichrist!" the preachers bray. While we would never seek to minimize the tribulational judgments spoken of in Scripture, exaggerating the facts to manipulate a desired behaviour is hardly an acceptable practice.
In fact, it has been my experience that many believers resist the demonstrable Scriptural truth of the post-tribulational second coming of Christ because they have been programmed so effectively by their Cult teachers. This conditioning has made them believe that it is just unthinkable for them to be placed in such a horrifying setting. Thus, because the anguish of experiencing the tribulation has been so oversold by those seeking to use fear to coerce a Christian conversion in a pre-tribulational context, many believers simply can't conceive of themselves actually being in the tribulation.
A good example of this type of gross distortion of New Testament prophecy is found in the teachings of radio pastor Joseph Chambers. In a booming voice that is reminiscent of the legendary Elmer Gantry, this Southern charlatan is far off the Scriptural mark as he uses every trick in the book to con his hapless listeners into the rapture camp.
In a recent article entitled "Saved After the Rapture; But, Oh, the Cost!" Chambers rolls out the tried and true embellishments that have worked so well for the Cult for the last 40 years. He writes,
"I must warn you that being saved after the Rapture comes with incredible cost…the overcoming saints will die a horrible death of martyrdom....The greatest wailing and screaming of all human history will occur immediately after the Rapture….If you think that suicide murderers are vicious and that death on the top floors of the world trade center, where over 1,700 persons were reduced to bits of pieces or ashes, was horrible; the death of Tribulation saints will be many times worse."
Pastoral pretenders like Joseph Chambers don't just hit you with a stick as they dangle the rapture carrot, their overspreading of abominations is laid on so thick they depart from the fundamentals of the faith, as they construct their complex, multi-tiered caste system of heavenly citizenship. Pouring it on in the same contrived manipulative spirit that is common to the Cult, Chambers teaches that even if you get "saved" after the rapture, you'll then be a second-class citizen in the kingdom of heaven:
"...nobody that is saved after the Rapture can have the honor of being in the Bride of Christ." (Saved After the Rapture; But, Oh, the Cost, by Joseph Chambers)
Moving into an absolutely surreal arena of theological fantasy, this cultist is so sold on his rapture dogma that he relegates any Christian that gets saved after the rapture to a heavenly ghetto - teaching that believers that miss the rapture can still get to heaven, but they won't be allowed to permanently live in the New Jerusalem!
This is the theological equivalent of being an illegal alien in the Kingdom Of God. As many know, those that are oppressed in foreign lands that can't quite arrange to come to the grand land of America through proper channels frequently try to get here any way they can. So-called "undocumented" strangers in the land are always in fear of being caught and deported because they don't have the appropriate permits.
This is the political parallel to the cult system that has tried to posit that if you "miss" the "rapture," an extraordinary action (such as martyrdom) will be required in order to still make it to the kingdom of God. Such unscriptural drivel is just a part of the strange traditions that can evolve when using the manipulations of man to coerce conversions to Christianity.
Vivid descriptions of the terrifying tribulational events - pain, suffering, and turmoil for those that "miss" the "rapture" - followed by an inferior standing in the kingdom of God are commonplace in this contrived presentation of prophecy. Yet the 'carrot and the stick' always holds out the promise that it's not too late to make it to the "real" resurrection of God - the pre-tribulational rapture.
After painting such a dismal picture for anyone foolish enough to resist the "obvious" and remain on earth during the tribulational terror, Chambers then offers the carrot - just accept Christ, and you'll miss the wrath of God, and be taken in the rapture:
"We can escape that wrath and He instructs us how to escape. Both from the dead and the living, the Pre-Tribulation Rapture is the grand event for the espoused bride of our Lord Jesus Christ."
This convoluted theological progression masks a deep problem in the Rapture Cult. Because the Cult system utilizes "Christian" phrases and seemingly preaches the gospel of Christ, few recognize the tactic is pure witchcraft. The fact is, witchcraft has been qualitatively defined as manipulation for the purpose of domination by no less an authority than the late Anton LaVey, the high priest of the First Church Of Satan, writing in his Satanic Bible.
When so-called "Christians" use the manipulations of the mind (read witchcraft) to promote an unscriptural version of the Gospel, we can identify the spirit behind that "gospel" as Antichrist. It is self evident that we cannot serve two masters. To this end, the Apostle Paul wrote,
"Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils" (I Corinthians 10:21, II Timothy 3:5).
I believe it is this very behaviour that prompted the Holy Spirit to speak of those that seem to have a robust perspective on Christianity, when the fact is, they are actually resisting the true power of the Gospel. The true power of the Gospel is found in embracing the truth - the person of Jesus Christ.
Men like Joseph Chambers have embraced "another Jesus" who is not the truth - and thus they manifest whose child they actually are through the tactics they employ (see John 8:39, 41 for details). Paul tells us such men will arrive in "the last days [when] perilous times shall come" (II Timothy 3:1), and they may be described as "...having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof" (II Timothy 3:5). Paul's simple remedy for dealing with such apostates is clear. He bluntly writes "from such turn away" (II Timothy 3:5).
The "distinction" between those that are supposedly "raptured" and the so-called "tribulation saints" is also allegedly along Jewish and Gentile lines. Never mind "there is neither Greek nor Jew" (Galatians 3:28) in Christ Jesus, the central idea of the Cult is God's supposed plan to make the Jews convert to Christianity because they "missed" the rapture. This is the primary rationale for the Rapture Cult in the first place. Separating the "bride of Christ" from other Christians is only an extension of the corrupt system of separation that is Dispensationalism.
In this strange scenario, the central area of separation is between "Israel" and the "Church." Thus, the Cult tells us the promises made to Israel are not to be applied to the Christians. How singularly odd then, that the New Testament refers to the Christians as "the Israel of God" (Galatians 6:16). In fact, the very reward that God promises to Israel, is that which is seen in the Christian church in the very end.
His Reward Is With Him
The Bible tells us that when Jesus Christ comes back for His chosen, He will bring his reward with Him. The prophet Isaiah writes,
"O Zion, that bringest good tiding, get thee up into the high mountain! O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift I up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him." (Isaiah 40:10).
This verse, prophesying of the coming of the Lord, addresses the concept of "Zion" and "the cities of Judah" - to say nothing of Jerusalem. Twenty-two chapters later, the prophet again declares,
"Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world: Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord; and thou shalt be called Sought out, A city not forsaken." (Isaiah 62:11, 12)
The idea that Christ has a separate reward for "the bride of Christ" taken in the fictional "rapture" is inconsistent with these prophecies in Isaiah as the reward is specifically said to apply to "Jerusalem" as well as the "holy people" and "the redeemed of the Lord" - terms that uniquely fit Christians whether they were formerly Jewish or not.
In I Peter, we see the Christians are called a "holy" people (I Peter 2:5, 9). In Revelation, we see the Christians praising God because "he hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation" (Revelation 5:9). These are fulfillments of Isaiah's prophecy that God will bring salvation to a spiritual construct called "Zion" - and that "Zion" will also be called "A city not forsaken" (Isaiah:62, 12) .
The simple truth is the Rapture Cult has erred because of this artificially inserted separation between believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. The promises to Israel are not inherited by the "Church" - they are inherited by the portion of Israel that became born-again when they received their Saviour. Thus, "…they are not all Israel, which are of Israel" (Romans 9:6). Those that were Gentiles before they were saved have been "grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the Olive tree" (Romans 11:17). This is not a so-called "replacement theology" - it is one saved group of believers that is known as Israel.
At the end of the tribulation as seen in the book of Revelation, we have a crucial sequential passage that tells us Jesus Christ will give his "reward" to ALL those that have believed on Him at the seventh trumpet:
"And the seventh angel sounded [his trumpet]; and there were great voices in heaven, saying The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ...and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead [the resurrection], that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth." (Revelation 11:15, 18)
This is the great time of reckoning for the dead and all the believers ("small and great"). The seventh trumpet is the last of seven trumpets that are used in Revelation to describe the tribulational cycle. Paul writes that it is "at the last trump" when "the dead shall be raised" (I Corinthians 15:52). Revelation confirms that at the seventh trumpet (the "last" trumpet) we see "the time of the dead" when Jesus will "give reward" unto ALL the "saints" and ALL that "fear thy name" (Revelation 11:15, 18).
To put it another way, because the Scriptures repeatedly tell us "his reward is with him" when He returns, and those same Scriptures tell us he gives his reward to the believers at the end of the tribulation, how then can Jesus return before the tribulation?
Furthermore, since Isaiah tells Israel that they are to be called "a city not forsaken," the only city mentioned in the prophecy is Jerusalem. Since the New Jerusalem is seen as the bride of Christ, how can Israel not be associated with the bride of Christ? Yet the Rapture Cult says the "bride" is only comprised of Christians taken in the "rapture" - and not associated with Israel in any way.
The mention of the post-tribulational return of Christ with his "reward" is repeated at the very end of Revelation. At the description of "the holy city" the New Jerusalem that comes down from God out of heaven and is "prepared as a bride adorned for her husband" (Revelation 21:2), Jesus Christ says,
"Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be" (Revelation 22:12).
This is a crucial link as well, for we see this statement is made in conjunction with the arrival of the New Jerusalem - that which Isaiah linked to Israel - when God promised "the redeemed of the Lord" would be referred to as a "city" (Isaiah 62:12). Revelation tells us the New Jerusalem is identified with the bride of Christ - who is the key participant in the "marriage supper of the lamb" (Revelation 19:9). Obviously, the New Jerusalem arrives after the tribulation when,
"Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God" (Revelation 21:3).
This is the glorious future that is reserved for all believers in Jesus Christ. It is this magnificent reward, characterized as the wedding supper of the lamb, and our habitation in the New Jerusalem that the Liars from Laodicea have hijacked, and sought to reserve for themselves. Thus we should turn away from those that bring this false doctrine, and instead turn to the one that is the truth. He says,
"Behold I come quickly...and my reward is with me" (Revelation 22:12)
November 26, 2003 - James Lloyd
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