Consider the Restrainer
There is an ongoing debate about when the rapture of the church will take place. As most of us know, there are three lines of thought concerning the “when”. There is the pre-tribulation rapture, occurring before the tribulation. Others think it will happen at the mid-point of the tribulation. Still others think the church will be present for much of the tribulation, perhaps even making it to “the end” when Jesus returns and sets up His kingdom.
I have found those who believe in the mid-trib and post-trib lines of thought get very….passionate….when discussing it. Okay, plainly put, they get down-right heated and sometimes even vicious.
One of the most used “arguments” by the Pre-tribbers is that Jesus is not going to “beat up His bride” before coming to get her. I use this argument myself, for it is a logical one. The tribulation is what is referred to as “the great and terrible day of the Lord”. It is when God will unleash His wrath upon a vile and proud world. It is serves as a warning to those on the earth that they had better stop rejecting Him. It is also a final attempt to get the attention of the Jews and point them to Jesus, their Messiah. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, we are told in Romans Eight. It simply does not make sense that the bride of Christ will have to be subjected to the wrath of God. There are those who argue we pre-tribbers are mistaken. They argue that we all must expect to suffer for Christ. We must expect persecution. I say, Christians are being persecuted every day…right now…during these last hours before the tribulation. I also suspect there will be those “left behind”, who will realize their folly and come to Christ during the tribulation. For this, they will surely die at the hands of the antichrist for they will refuse to take his mark.
There is another argument which suggests the rapture will happen before the tribulation. Well, actually, I consider it plainly SAID, not just suggested. That is, the restrainer will be removed before the man of lawlessness is revealed. That man of lawlessness is the antichrist. The tribulation does not begin until this man steps into the light and deceives Israel by making a 7 year contract of peace with them. So the question to consider is: Who or What is the Restrainer?
And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8 NKJV
So who is He who now restrains?
Scholars agree the restrainer is the Holy Spirit. Dr. William Varner gives a wonderful explanation of this, as well as a rebuttal to claims the restrainer is “something/one else” in his article posted here. spiritandtruth.org also gives a similar, and thorough analysis of this question here.
So, let’s agree the restrainer that must be removed prior to the tribulation is the Holy Spirit. While He played a part previous to Acts 2, the day of Pentecost when He indwelt believers is the day He began restraining the spirit of lawlessness. You see, it was then that the clock for the end of time began ticking, so to speak. I agree with the above links that He will take up that “smaller” role (that which He played prior to the day of Pentecost) after He gives up His role as restrainer. Point is, He will no longer be present as the restrainer.
And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you……But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. John 14: 16-17, 26 NKJV
Look at verse 16 again…“that He may abide with you forever”.
Let’s continue by looking at Acts 2:37-38
37 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” 38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (NKJV)
Every born again believer receives the gift of the Holy Spirit. He indwells each of us.
Since He said in John 14 that He would be with us forever, is it not logical to conclude that when His presence leaves this earth prior to the tribulation, we will go too? Why would He indwell us prior to the tribulation, only to abandon us when times REALLY get hard and we need Him the most? Furthermore, we know that we fight off the evil one by using the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. If we are still here, we would still be using the Word of God, thus the evil one will STILL be fighting against us and thus, be somewhat restrained. satan cannot introduce his man to the world until said man can have “free reign”, if you will, to do his evil bidding.
Something to consider.
The Rapture-Pre-trib or Post-tribulation?
There are some very good “arguments” concerning both points of view. Will the “catching up” of the saints occur before God pours out His wrath on the earth, and the antichrist rules, or will it happen at the end, or even in the middle?
I personally think it will happen BEFORE the tribulation. Here is my main reason: born-again believers are the church, the church is described as the bride of Christ throughout the New Testament (Revelation 19, Matthew 25, Ephesians 5). Since Jesus is the bridegroom and His church the bride, why would He “beat up” His bride before bringing her to Himself?
10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. 1 Thessalonians 1
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness Romans 1
9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Thessalonians 5
The wrath of God that is to plague the world during the tribulation is described in Revelation as “the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth”. It is God’s final attempt to get mankind’s attention, if you will. It is NOT a time for the purification or testing of the body of Christ. It is not a time of preparation before meeting the Lord. If it were, then why did Jesus have to die? We are made righteous through His blood, and all who abide in Him are made pure through Him, not through persecution and suffering.
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. Romans 8:1
To the church in Philadelphia, Jesus promised
10 Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Revelation 3
This promise extends to all born-again believers. What does it mean to persevere? To abide in Him; to walk by the Spirit, not the flesh, to keep His Word and not deny His name, holding fast to Him.
I cannot see the Just, Righteous God subjecting His purchased (by Jesus’ blood) children to the trials of the great tribulation.
Could I be wrong. Sure. Could it be we are not raptured pre-trib and have some kind of Divine protection from the various plagues, such as the locusts and boils? I suppose so. We know that the antichrist will put to death those who do not worship him or take his mark. I see this referring to those who are commonly referred to as the tribulation saints-those people who accept the Truth during the tribulation.
Regardless, the important question remains: Are you Ready for whatever the future holds, both on earth and in eternity?