What is Spiritual Warfare?

Machew is a guest writer to ETM, and as such the views expressed in this article may not be the views of ETM and its staff.

It is incredibly important for the church as a whole to understand spiritual warfare.  Too often Christians delegate their struggles to their flesh not realizing that much of what you think and feel doesn’t originate from you at all.  We have a very real enemy that will stop at nothing to get you to convince yourself with his lies to undermine your walk with Jesus and to make destructive decisions in your life.  For this reason, I write this article.

Before I start with Spiritual Warfare, I need to lay down some Biblical Context:

We will start in Genesis:

Genesis 1:26-30 (NASB)(emphasis mine)

26Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.

27God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

28God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.

29Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you;

30and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so.

So what is the point I want to make in this passage? God gave Adam and Eve delegated authority to rule over the Earth. We all know how this story ends, the devil comes in the form of a serpent and Adam and Eve eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and they fall because of sin. The devil had no authority over the Earth before the fall. So how did he get his authority?

When Adam and Eve came into agreement with the devil’s assessment of reality, they sinned. And because there was no atonement for sin at the time, they were separated from God and their agreement with the devil essentially handed over their delegate authority over the Earth to the devil. (John 12:31, John 14:30, 2 Corinthians 4:4, Matthew 4:8-10)

Next I will give some basic groundwork to what spiritual warfare is.

2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (NASB)(emphasis mine)

3For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh,

4for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.

5We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,

So according 2 Corinthians spiritual battles happen in our mind and thought life. Why is this the case?

In Matthew 4:8-10 Jesus is tempted by the devil, as the devil offers Jesus all of the kingdoms of the world if he bows down to him and worships him. The devil still had the authority and rulership over the Earth from Adam and Eve. But after the resurrection of Jesus, He says to His disciples in Matthew 28:18 “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me

If Jesus now has “all authority” over the Earth, this means that the devil now has no authority. Jesus took back Adam and Eve’s authority from Satan. He was able to do this because their sin was now completely atoned for.

So the question you probably have now is: “How then is the devil able to do so much evil on the Earth?”

The question to ask is: How did the devil gain authority in the Garden of Eden?

He hasn’t changed his strategy at all. Look at 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 again. The battle is in our mind. The weapons formed against us are thoughts and speculations that exalt themselves above the knowledge of God. Why are these weapons used? Because the devil needs your agreement in what he wants to do before he has authority to do it. Jesus gave back authority over the Earth to humans. Before Jesus dies on the cross He states the following to His disciples:

Matthew 16:19 (NASB)

19I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

So the devil is able to steal, kill, and destroy when humans come into agreement with what he says (thoughts, emotions manifested from thoughts).

This is what 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 is talking about when it says the weapons of our warfare are not carnal. The fortresses that it is referring to are areas in our thought life that we are in agreement with the devil. The devil builds on your current agreements with him, to bring in more deception into your life. Essentially the agreement with the devil (fortress) is a place where he can hide in your life and have authority in that area of your life. This fortress is what the enemy hides behind to assault you with more lies, to try to gain more ground in your life.

So to review: The devil is only able to operate on the Earth through human agreement.

So what does this mean?

The devil is only able to operate in your life through your agreements with his lies, and the agreement of lies that the people in authority over you believe (ie: parents, teachers, government authorities).

This is why it is so important to constantly be studying and filling your heart and mind with the Word of God. The Word of God is what reveals deceptions you are believing, that allow the enemy into your life, and the lives of those under you.

Hebrews 4:12 (NASB)(emphasis mine)

12For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

For this to work though, you need to be born again and filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit’s help is a necessity in understanding the Bible and to know how it applies to everyday life.  Only through the Holy Spirit does the truth of the Bible penetrate your heart and actually change you (2 Corinthians 3:6, John 16:13, John 14:16-17, Romans 8:27, Isaiah 11:2, Ephesians 1:17).

The current situation we face is having a whole world of people where most people are not born again, and the devil is able to wreak havoc over the Earth because people are constantly in agreement with him. But God has given believers the keys to His kingdom. God’s Kingdom is superior to this kingdom(the Earth), and Jesus tells us to model our prayer like this:

Matthew 6:9-10 (NASB)(emphasis mine)
9″Pray, then, in this way:

‘Our Father who is in heaven,

Hallowed be Your name.

10’Your kingdom come

Your will be done,

On earth as it is in heaven.

So then we are to bring the dominion of God’s Kingdom to Earth (God’s government/way of doing things), whether it be through the salvation of others, loving the unlovable, giving all of your possessions, or worshiping Him through praise. In the words of Matthew 6, His “…Kingdom Come…Will be done…On Earth As it is in Heaven.” So if it is happening in heaven it should be happening here. If it is not happening in heaven it shouldn’t be happening here. When God’s kingdom is brought to Earth it enforces what Jesus did on the cross and destroys the work of the devil in our lives, and in the lives of others. Spiritual warfare cannot be won by human strength as 2 Corinthians 10 tells us, but as indicated, only by divinely powerful weapons. And we have no divinely powerful weapons by ourselves. But we do have God’s Word; whether it is from the Bible, something God has spoken to you recently, or something God told you before. God always backs up His Word with the resources of His superior Kingdom. But just reciting God’s word isn’t enough!

His Word Becoming Who We Are:

When we read the Bible, have relationship with Him through prayer (conversation), and meditate on what He has said or is saying, it opens our hearts to receive His Word and Truth. Truth that we only believe conceptually or intellectually will falter when tested. But Truth that has become a part of us deep down in our core, our very being, and heart can never be shaken. This is why we are not only supposed to hear and read the Word but receive it implanted into our hearts (James 1:21). And as James 1 describes the Word of God given to us will be tested but proven true to us by experience through perseverance in the testing trial. Once we have God’s Word truly implanted in us, because it has proven to be true under testing and trial, no argument, emotion, or lofty thing will ever be able to get us to doubt what God has said. And we are then able to stand firm, in boldness, and in confidence against the devil’s lies. When we are able to fully believe God’s Word deep in our very being, we are finally actually fully capable to “Submit…to God” which is when God uses His divinely powerful weapons, giving us what we need to “Resist the devil” causing him to “flee from you” (James 4:7) Until we truly believe what God has said and have the faith to believe it, it is impossible to submit to God(specifically submitting to what He has said to us). As Hebrews 11:6 says it is impossible to please God without faith.

God brings every believer through this process for our benefit, that His Word would literally become a part of us, so that we would become the walking Word of God. God’s plan is that we would literally become the image of the Living God. The devil has no weapon that works against this kind of believer.

Blessings,

Machew

Jesus Freed You From Sin!

Written by Guest Writer Matthew Guillot

So today I realized what an integral part fear plays in temptation. The enemy will tempt you but couple that temptation with the fear of falling into the temptation, and the fear of losing control. The enemy will do whatever he can to convince you that you are incapable of controlling yourself, and once you believe that lie, he has got you right where he wants you. The enemy can continue to bombard you with tempting thoughts and emotions, and because you are convinced you don’t have control over yourself, you are much more pliable to these temptations and to give up because you have lost hope of resisting the devil (fear of the devil, or his ability). Additional thoughts of how “powerful” the enemy is (sometimes intimidation) may also be the focus of his bombardment. This is to prop himself up in your mind to also lead to fear of the enemy, and hopelessness to resist. So ultimately the goal of the enemy is to get you to forget who you are and how much self-control you truly have, and to get you to a place of hopelessness and fear.

If you give into the temptation and sin, then the enemy can accuse you of the sin, making you feel guilty and ashamed. The enemy then starts working on convincing you that you need to keep your distance from God, because God is either upset with you or you haven’t repented enough and need to jump through hoops before God accepts your repentance. The enemy will suggest by thought, hoops from the bible that Jesus said is impossible to do without Him. And because you have convinced yourself to distance yourself from God, you are hopelessly left to your own ability to try to jump through these hoops. The enemy knows this will ultimately lead to you being discouraged more. Another tactic the enemy uses if he can’t get you to try to distance yourself from God, is getting you to focus on yourself. The enemy often uses the tactic of convincing you, that you need to always be introspective and on your guard all the time. If the enemy can get you to try to defend yourself by your own effort, then he knows that eventually (most of the time very soon), he will be able to tempt you again and take you down the all too familiar path to sin. Only Christians who are afraid of the enemy’s temptation or the enemy, find it necessary to always be on their guard. Our protection is our faith in God, not our own ability to guard ourself. (Ephesians 6:16)

If the enemy is able to convince us that we have no ability to control ourselves or resist temptation, or resist him, we fall into guilt, shame, hopelessness and fear; and go down the repetitive cycle of being tempted into sin. And because our own ability to resist doesn’t cut it, the enemy is able to eventually get many people into depression, and even feelings of rejection, loneliness, or neglect from God. The enemy’s goal is either to get us into deeper and deeper depression to commit suicide, or, if he can’t get us to kill ourselves, keep us in a place where we unwittingly choose to keep parts of our hearts from God because of our perceived uncleanliness from our sin (shame) and/or the fear of coming before God.

Romans 6:17-23(NASB)

“17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. 21 Therefore what benefit were you then deriving from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the outcome of those things is death. 22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Notice the contrast Paul uses and the past tense verbs used to describe our past condition in sin and present tense verbs for our current freedom from sin (exception “became” describing something Jesus already did to free us).

What we need to realize is that Jesus’ death on the cross paid for all of our sin once for all. He died on the cross with all of our sin in mind, and nailed all of it to the cross. The Bible says in 1 John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Notice that Jesus does the cleansing, not us. It also says Jesus is completely faithful and righteous to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness, not just some of it and and leave us to deal with the rest; ALL! The Bible also states in past tense that Jesus’ death on the cross freed us from slavery to sin.  However, God will not violate your free-will if you choose to put up a wall to keep yourself from God (even just parts of your heart from God), because of your perceived “unrighteousness”. The enemy knows this, and this is why he works hard at this strategy to convince you that you can’t approach God and that you shouldn’t, that you are now unrighteous before God. The enemy’s goal is always to get us to forget the cross, and to not focus on Jesus. The enemy knows that as soon as you let God into the picture, he is toast. This is why the Bible says to first “submit to God” then if you “resist the devil…He will flee.” (James 4:7) Not the other way around.

We are no longer slaves to sin. But Jesus never intended for us to live out this reality by our own ability. Jesus went to the Father to send us a Helper, the Holy Spirit!!! (John 14:26) The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit is the one who leads us into ALL truth (John 16:13), brings into remembrance everything that God has said and is saying (John 14:26), instruct us in the way we should go (John 16:13, Acts 16:6-10), and give us His (God’s) character and attributes (fruits of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-24). In other words He (God/Holy Spirit) empowers us to live a righteous lifestyle. Jesus said “I am the vine, you are the branches…apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:3-5) You have the ability inside of you to resist the devil every single time successfully and confidently. But it is not your own ability but the Holy Spirit inside you. What is happening when you are operating under the Holy Spirit’s ability (His fruit)? God is letting you operate in character and traits that are not your own, and with the outpouring of His Spirit inside of you they manifest as if they were your own attributes.

It is extremely beneficial over the long-term if we can learn how to operate with His fruit regularly, allowing Him to completely empower us. As we do this our thought patterns completely change because we come to the realization after multiple times that we actually can be free from sin. Once we are convinced of this, our true nature, free from sin can finally come out, without our minds being in conflict with the reality and truth of our freedom. The Bible tells us that Jesus already freed us, but this freedom won’t manifest in our lives until we truly are able to believe it. Unfortunately our carefully enemy-orchestrated experiences tend to tell us otherwise, and it is easy to be convinced that we aren’t really free. The enemy keeps us in his cycle of thought patterns, fear, hopelessness, guilt, and shame to try to ensure that we will never have the perception of ourselves that God has (the righteousness of Christ, perfect, spotless, and without blemish), so that we will never realize the freedom Jesus paid such a heavy price for. This is not to say that we will never sin, but that sin is no longer our compulsion and is supposed to be rare, abnormal, and awkward for us.

If you are saved and still feel like you have the compulsion to sin (sin nature), it is most likely because you are believing a lie about yourself, about your relation to God, or other people. Sin can seem like a viable coping mechanism to those with wounds and pain from past or present offenses. Believed lies from the enemy are always the root of what perpetuates wounds and pain, which is the cause of any Christian’s current desire to sin. Ask the Holy Spirit if you are believing a lie, and ask Him to replace this with the truth, depositing His truth deep in your heart.

Don’t let the enemy keep you in bondage and slavery to sin anymore. Jesus already paid for you to be free!

Much Love,

Machew

13 Reasons Why The Rapture will be Pre-Tribulation

I. The Blessed Hope
1. The first reason we believe the Rapture takes place before the Tribulation is because it’s called the Blessed Hope in Titus 2:13
“. . . looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”
2. Remember what Paul said in 1 Thess 4:18?
“Therefore comfort one another with these words”
3. If the Rapture doesn’t occur until the middle or end of the Tribulation, where’s the comfort in that?
4. Let’s say you had never heard of the Rapture before and I was teaching it for the very first time.
a. and let’s pretend that I was telling you all about the Last Days
b. and I told you about the horrors of the Tribulation
1) all the death and destruction that will take place
2) I did a review of all the terrible things we find in the Book of Revelation
3) plagues, pestilence, famine, drought, economic and social upheaval on a scale never seen in history
4) a third of the earth’s population is wiped out, then another fourth!
5) the rise of the antichrist and false prophet
6) and finally, the Battle of Armageddon, earth’s worst and bloodiest war
c. and then I say, but comfort one another, cause when it’s all over, we’ll be caught up to meet the Lord in the air
d. you’d think I was nuts! There’s no comfort in knowing you’ve got to pass through all of that to get to the Rapture!
e. the ONLY comfort you could gain was by hoping the Last Days were a long way off in the future and that the return of Jesus was nowhere near.
5. But that isn’t at all what the Bible tells us our attitude ought to be!
a. we ought to be hoping and looking for the Rapture..
b. the comfort of the blessed hope, the Rapture, comes from knowing it comes before the hour of trial that is coming upon the whole earth.
II. God’s Wrath
1. In Revelation 6:15-17 we learn that the Tribulation is a time of God’s wrath being poured out on the earth-dwellers.
“15And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
2. Yet 1 Thess 5:9-11 says
“9For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. 11Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”
3. We who’ve been born again are not appointed to God’s wrath and that is precisely what the Tribulation is ” the hour of God’s wrath, testing the hearts of the earth-dwellers.
4. God’s wrath against our sin was fully satisfied by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross.
a. when Jesus declared, “It is finished” he meant that the holy demands of God’s justice were completely satisfied
b. Jesus took our place on the Cross as the object of God’s wrath
c. therefore, it would be UNJUST for God to inflict His wrath on us!
5. We can’t be here for the Tribulation because it is the hour of God’s wrath and we’ve been saved from that very thing!
III. Lot
1. In Genesis 18, Lot and his family were delivered from the flaming judgment of God on wicked Sodom.
2. God didn’t protect them IN the judgment, He removed them FROM the very time and place of the judgment and took them up into the hills.
3. In 2 Peter 2:9, Peter speaks of Lot as an example and says
“. . . the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment”
4. What’s interesting is that the word translated “temptations” is the same word used for tribulation.
IV. Enoch
1. In Genesis 5 we read about Enoch.
2. His story is interesting because we read he never died, God simply took him one day!
3. This occurred prior to the Flood, which was God’s judgment on a rebellious world
4. Now, someone might counter and say, but what about Noah?
a. he was a righteous man too but he went through the Flood,
b. being protected by God in the ark
c. isn’t that a better picture of God protecting the Church during the Tribulation?
5. No ” Noah isn’t a picture of the Church ” He’s a picture of God’s sovereign protection of Israel during the Tribulation, a subject that gets much coverage in the Book of Revelation.
6. Noah pictures Israel, while Enoch represents the Church, which is raptured prior to judgment.
V. Daniel
1. Did you ever wonder where Daniel was when Shadrach, Mesheck and Abed-nego were in the fiery furnace in Daniel 3?
2. They were there for refusing to bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s image.
3. By the way, Nebuchadnezzar serves as a fitting picture and type of the antichrist who makes an image and demands the world to worship it.
4. Where was Daniel? Did he bow to the image? No way! So why wasn’t he with his three friends?
5. That’s the point! That he’s not even mentioned is a mystery ” foreshadowing the mystery of the Rapture of the Church.
6. Like Noah – Shadrach, Mesheck and Abed-nego represent Israel and how God will preserve them during the fiery trial of the Tribulation.
7. But Daniel’s absence pictures the Church’s absence from the very hour of the trial.
VI. We Are To Pray For Escape!
1. I’m a bit weary of those who mock the Pre-Tribulation position and say it’s escapist.
2. They say that countless believers have faced tribulation, persecution and martyrdom ” why should we hope to escape it?
3. The answer to that is simple ” the trouble previous generations of Christians have faced came from this corrupt and rebellious world system that hated them; it was satan’s wrath they endured.
4. Jesus told us to expect THAT kind of trouble.
5. But the trouble of the Tribulation comes from God’s hand ” it’s His wrath as we’ve already seen, and Jesus already paid that for us.
6. In Luke 21:34-36 Jesus said “
34“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.”
a. the “Day” He means here is the Day of the Lord, which begins with the Rapture!
“35For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.”
b. there’s that phrase ” “earth-dwellers” again
“36Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
7. Compare what Jesus says here in Luke 21:36 with what he tells the Philadelphians in Revelation
“Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”
8. The Pre-Trib rapture isn’t escapist ” it’s the very thing Jesus told us to look and pray we’d be ready for.
VII. The Jewish Wedding Ceremony
1. In John 14 Jesus spoke some incredibly comforting words –
1“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2In My Father’s house are many dwelling palces; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
2. Being Gentiles brought up in the 20th Century, we miss out on how the original disciples would have heard and understood this.
3. You see, Jesus is using the terminology of the Jewish wedding ceremony.
a. once a man and woman were betrothed, he would return to his father’s house and add on a new room.
b. once the room was nearing completion, he would send a friend to go tell the betrothed that the time for the wedding was almost there
c. she would get ready, but rarely knew the precise moment of his arrival; it was part of the suspense and romance of the event that she had to wait without knowing the precise hour of his arrival.
d. but finally the day would come and the groom would go forth to claim his bride
e. his friends would go with him and make noise, blowing trumpets and shouting to let everyone know the time for the wedding had finally come.
f. when he arrived, there was a huge feast ” the wedding supper, after which the man would take his wife into the new room he’d made, and they would stay sequestered there for 7 days!
g. after which they would emerge and he would present her to the community as his beloved, sharing with him from then on in the life of the village.
4. This is how the Rapture will occur.
a. we are now betrothed to Christ and He has gone to prepare our chamber
b. we do not know the day or hour of His return, but we do know the times and seasons because He’s sent His friends, the prophets to describe them
c. when the time is ripe, He will come, with the voice of the archangel, a mighty shout, and the trumpet of God,
d. then He will take us to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and we’ll be sequestered with Him in heaven for the 7 years of the Tribulation.
e. then when He comes again, emerging from Heaven in glory, we come with Him to rule and reign for a 1000 years.
VIII. The Outline of Revelation
1. A Pre-tribulation rapture follows the outline for the Book of Revelation given to us in 1:19
“Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.”
a. a 3-fold division of Revelation is given here
b. the things John had seen ” meaning the vision of Jesus in ch. 1
c. the things which are ” are found in chs. 2 & 3 in the message to the 7 churches
d. and the things which will take place after this ” are found in chs. 4-22
e. in fact, that very phrase “after this” opens chapter 4
“After these things [meaning chs. 2 & 3] I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”
2. What happened to John? After speaking to the churches, He was taken up to heaven ” and it’s from that vantage point that he saw a description of the terrors of the Tribulation!
3. It’s interesting that the word “church” is used 18 times in chs. 1-3, but then isn’t used even once until the very end of Revelation.
4. Chapters 6-19 which describe the Tribulation don’t ever use the word “church!”
a. why?!
b. because the church isn’t on earth ” it’s in heaven!
c. Chs. 4 & 5 describe the church in heaven, worshipping God
5. If the Mid-Tribulation Rapture position is correct, then chs. 4 & 5 would have to be placed after chapter 11, and if the post-Tribulation view is right, chs. 4 & 5 would have to placed after chapter 19.
6. Only the Pre-Tribulation rapture makes sense of the flow of the Book of Revelation and follows the outline Jesus gave John in Revelation 1:19
IX. A Conditional Tribulation
1. In the Letter to the Church at Thyatira in Revelation ch. 2, Jesus rebukes the church for allowing a gross polluter of the Church to remain among them.
2. In v. 22 Jesus says –
“22Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.”
3. If the Rapture occurred after the Tribulation, this wouldn’t make any sense.
4. This is one more proof that the Rapture occurs before the Tribulation and will sort out the genuine believers from those who are mere professors.
5. Genuine believers will repent, and so be delivered from great tribulation.
X. Unknown Time Of Christ’s Return
1. One of the most powerful proofs for the Pre-Trib rapture is that it’s the only one that can account for the repeated reference to the coming of the Lord being at a time not expected.
2. Daniel 9 spells out clearly that there will be 1260 days from the time the Antichrist enters the temple in Jerusalem and declares himself god, till the Return of Jesus Christ.
3. Yet Matthew 24:36 makes it clear that no one knows the day of Jesus’s Return.
4. The only way to reconcile this is to see the Rapture and the Second Coming as two different events ” separated by 7 years.
5. The Jews of Jesus’s day missed His first coming because they had misinterpreted the prophecies of His coming.
a. one set of prophecies foretold a suffering servant
b. while the other set foretold a conquering King
c. they’d come to see the suffering servant prophecies as symbolic but interpreted the conquering king ones as literal.
d. so they looked for the Messiah to come in Majesty and missed His coming in humility.
6. We need to learn this lesson, for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ has two phases, just like the OT prophecies of the Messiah’s coming.
a. before Jesus comes to earth in glory as the Conquering King,
b. He will come secretly in the clouds to receive His bride.
7. This coming, as Paul says in 1 Thess. 5, is like a thief in the night, not a King in the mid-day sun.
8. No one knows when Jesus comes in the Rapture, which is very different from His actual Second coming, which will be 1260 days after the Antichrist enters the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem.
XI. Tribulation Is Unnecessary For The Church
1. In Jer. 30:7, the Tribulation is called Jacob’s trouble.
2. It’s called this because it’s a unique time in which God awakens the Jews to embrace Jesus as their Messiah.
3. In Deut 4, Moses made this remarkable statement “
“29From there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, when you turn to the Lord your God and obey His voice 31(for the Lord your God is a merciful God), He will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them.”
4. All of God’s promises to Israel will be fulfilled and it’s during the Tribulation that He will move decisively to make Himself known to her.
5. But in order for God to make Israel the focus of His redemptive attention, He will need to switch that focus off the Church.
6. The only way to do that, and not violate His promise to never leave nor forsake us is to take the church out of the earth and transport her to heaven.
XII. Squares With 70 Weeks of Daniel
1. This is a rather complex and involved proof, but one of the most powerful.
2. Let me try to summarize it as quickly as possible.
3. In Daniel 9, God told the prophet that 490 years had been set aside for God to deal with the Jews and Jerusalem in a special way of focus.
4. The first 483 of those years were fulfilled right down to the very day!
5. That leaves one last period of 7 years.
6. If the first 483 years were literal, we have to accept the last 7 as literal as well.
7. Now, God said these 490 years were all set aside for God’s unique focus on Israel.
8. So just as with reason XI, in order for God to turn his attention to the nation of Israel, He must turn His focus away from the Church, and the only way He can do that is if the Church has been raptured and is with Him in heaven.
9. The church wasn’t here for the first 483 years of Daniel’s prophecy; it’s not going to be here for the last 7 either!
10. And by the way ” as Daniel foretells, that last 7 years begins when the Antichrist forges a special agreement with many nations that appears to have something to do with the City of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple
11. In light of all that’s taking place in the Middle East today, and how the nations of the world are lining up trying to figure out what to do to bring peace, this all becomes very interesting to students of the Bible.
XIII. The Rapture Is Imminent!
1. Finally, the apostles and the early Church all believed in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.
2. We know that because they believed Jesus could come at any moment ” but they knew they weren’t in the Tribulation!
3. We find the expectation of Jesus’ coming all over the letters of Peter, Paul, and John!
4. The writings of the earliest of the church fathers carry a very strong expectation of the Lord’s coming for the Church.
5. This simply isn’t what we would find if they believed and taught a mid or post-tribulation rapture.
6. They took Jesus’ words literally and seriously when He said, “Watch and be ready, for in such an hour as you think not, the Son of Man comes.” [Matthew 24:42 25:13]
Conclusion
A. It Matters What You Believe!
1. The timing of the Rapture is not an essential of the faith.
2. And good people do disagree!
3. But we ought not say that it doesn’t matter what a person believes about this issue ” it does matter!
4. You see, it’s inevitable that when one believes the Rapture takes place is going to effect the way they live.
5. If I believe the rapture is before the Tribulation then I am going to live as if it could be any moment ” so I’ll be watching and ready for Him.
6. In 1 John 3:2-3 John writes “
“2Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
7. If I hold to a mid or post-trib position, then quite frankly I’m probably not very hopeful of the Lord’s coming!
a. I’d prefer it was stuck way off in the future because I don’t want to have to endure the Tribulation
b. and if it is near, I won’t be looking for Jesus so much as I’ll be looking for the evidences that I’m in the Tribulation.
c. instead of looking for Christ, I’ll be looking for antichrist, knowing I have to see him before I’ll see Jesus.
8. Also, if I have to endure the Tribulation, instead of keeping a light touch with the world, I’m going to be highly motivated to dig in.
9. I’ll develop a survivalist mentality, and start building a shelter and storing food and figuring out how not to take the mark of the beast.
10. So it does matter when you believe the Rapture takes place because what we believe is the basis for how we live.
Taken from Pastor Lance Ralston’s notes from Calvary Chapel of Oxnard

I. The Blessed Hope
1. The first reason we believe the Rapture takes place before the Tribulation is because it’s called the Blessed Hope in Titus 2:13
“. . . looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”
2. Remember what Paul said in 1 Thess 4:18?
“Therefore comfort one another with these words”
3. If the Rapture doesn’t occur until the middle or end of the Tribulation, where’s the comfort in that?
4. Let’s say you had never heard of the Rapture before and I was teaching it for the very first time.
a. and let’s pretend that I was telling you all about the Last Days
b. and I told you about the horrors of the Tribulation
1) all the death and destruction that will take place
2) I did a review of all the terrible things we find in the Book of Revelation
3) plagues, pestilence, famine, drought, economic and social upheaval on a scale never seen in history
4) a third of the earth’s population is wiped out, then another fourth!
5) the rise of the antichrist and false prophet
6) and finally, the Battle of Armageddon, earth’s worst and bloodiest war
c. and then I say, but comfort one another, cause when it’s all over, we’ll be caught up to meet the Lord in the air
d. you’d think I was nuts! There’s no comfort in knowing you’ve got to pass through all of that to get to the Rapture!
e. the ONLY comfort you could gain was by hoping the Last Days were a long way off in the future and that the return of Jesus was nowhere near.
5. But that isn’t at all what the Bible tells us our attitude ought to be!
a. we ought to be hoping and looking for the Rapture..
b. the comfort of the blessed hope, the Rapture, comes from knowing it comes before the hour of trial that is coming upon the whole earth.
II. God’s Wrath
1. In Revelation 6:15-17 we learn that the Tribulation is a time of God’s wrath being poured out on the earth-dwellers.
“15And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

2. Yet 1 Thess 5:9-11 says
“9For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. 11Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”
3. We who’ve been born again are not appointed to God’s wrath and that is precisely what the Tribulation is ” the hour of God’s wrath, testing the hearts of the earth-dwellers.
4. God’s wrath against our sin was fully satisfied by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross.
a. when Jesus declared, “It is finished” he meant that the holy demands of God’s justice were completely satisfied
b. Jesus took our place on the Cross as the object of God’s wrath
c. therefore, it would be UNJUST for God to inflict His wrath on us!
5. We can’t be here for the Tribulation because it is the hour of God’s wrath and we’ve been saved from that very thing!
III. Lot
1. In Genesis 18, Lot and his family were delivered from the flaming judgment of God on wicked Sodom.
2. God didn’t protect them IN the judgment, He removed them FROM the very time and place of the judgment and took them up into the hills.
3. In 2 Peter 2:9, Peter speaks of Lot as an example and says
“. . . the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment”
4. What’s interesting is that the word translated “temptations” is the same word used for tribulation.
IV. Enoch
1. In Genesis 5 we read about Enoch.
2. His story is interesting because we read he never died, God simply took him one day!
3. This occurred prior to the Flood, which was God’s judgment on a rebellious world
4. Now, someone might counter and say, but what about Noah?
a. he was a righteous man too but he went through the Flood,
b. being protected by God in the ark
c. isn’t that a better picture of God protecting the Church during the Tribulation?
5. No ” Noah isn’t a picture of the Church ” He’s a picture of God’s sovereign protection of Israel during the Tribulation, a subject that gets much coverage in the Book of Revelation.
6. Noah pictures Israel, while Enoch represents the Church, which is raptured prior to judgment.
V. Daniel
1. Did you ever wonder where Daniel was when Shadrach, Mesheck and Abed-nego were in the fiery furnace in Daniel 3?
2. They were there for refusing to bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s image.
3. By the way, Nebuchadnezzar serves as a fitting picture and type of the antichrist who makes an image and demands the world to worship it.
4. Where was Daniel? Did he bow to the image? No way! So why wasn’t he with his three friends?
5. That’s the point! That he’s not even mentioned is a mystery ” foreshadowing the mystery of the Rapture of the Church.
6. Like Noah – Shadrach, Mesheck and Abed-nego represent Israel and how God will preserve them during the fiery trial of the Tribulation.
7. But Daniel’s absence pictures the Church’s absence from the very hour of the trial.
VI. We Are To Pray For Escape!
1. I’m a bit weary of those who mock the Pre-Tribulation position and say it’s escapist.
2. They say that countless believers have faced tribulation, persecution and martyrdom ” why should we hope to escape it?
3. The answer to that is simple ” the trouble previous generations of Christians have faced came from this corrupt and rebellious world system that hated them; it was satan’s wrath they endured.
4. Jesus told us to expect THAT kind of trouble.
5. But the trouble of the Tribulation comes from God’s hand ” it’s His wrath as we’ve already seen, and Jesus already paid that for us.
6. In Luke 21:34-36 Jesus said ”
34“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly.”
a. the “Day” He means here is the Day of the Lord, which begins with the Rapture!
“35For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.”
b. there’s that phrase ” “earth-dwellers” again
“36Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
7. Compare what Jesus says here in Luke 21:36 with what he tells the Philadelphians in Revelation
“Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”
8. The Pre-Trib rapture isn’t escapist ” it’s the very thing Jesus told us to look and pray we’d be ready for.
VII. The Jewish Wedding Ceremony
1. In John 14 Jesus spoke some incredibly comforting words –
1“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2In My Father’s house are many dwelling palces; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
2. Being Gentiles brought up in the 20th Century, we miss out on how the original disciples would have heard and understood this.
3. You see, Jesus is using the terminology of the Jewish wedding ceremony.
a. once a man and woman were betrothed, he would return to his father’s house and add on a new room.
b. once the room was nearing completion, he would send a friend to go tell the betrothed that the time for the wedding was almost there
c. she would get ready, but rarely knew the precise moment of his arrival; it was part of the suspense and romance of the event that she had to wait without knowing the precise hour of his arrival.
d. but finally the day would come and the groom would go forth to claim his bride
e. his friends would go with him and make noise, blowing trumpets and shouting to let everyone know the time for the wedding had finally come.
f. when he arrived, there was a huge feast ” the wedding supper, after which the man would take his wife into the new room he’d made, and they would stay sequestered there for 7 days!
g. after which they would emerge and he would present her to the community as his beloved, sharing with him from then on in the life of the village.
4. This is how the Rapture will occur.
a. we are now betrothed to Christ and He has gone to prepare our chamber
b. we do not know the day or hour of His return, but we do know the times and seasons because He’s sent His friends, the prophets to describe them
c. when the time is ripe, He will come, with the voice of the archangel, a mighty shout, and the trumpet of God,
d. then He will take us to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and we’ll be sequestered with Him in heaven for the 7 years of the Tribulation.
e. then when He comes again, emerging from Heaven in glory, we come with Him to rule and reign for a 1000 years.
VIII. The Outline of Revelation
1. A Pre-tribulation rapture follows the outline for the Book of Revelation given to us in 1:19
“Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.”
a. a 3-fold division of Revelation is given here
b. the things John had seen ” meaning the vision of Jesus in ch. 1
c. the things which are ” are found in chs. 2 & 3 in the message to the 7 churches
d. and the things which will take place after this ” are found in chs. 4-22
e. in fact, that very phrase “after this” opens chapter 4
“After these things [meaning chs. 2 & 3] I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”
2. What happened to John? After speaking to the churches, He was taken up to heaven ” and it’s from that vantage point that he saw a description of the terrors of the Tribulation!
3. It’s interesting that the word “church” is used 18 times in chs. 1-3, but then isn’t used even once until the very end of Revelation.
4. Chapters 6-19 which describe the Tribulation don’t ever use the word “church!”
a. why?!
b. because the church isn’t on earth ” it’s in heaven!
c. Chs. 4 & 5 describe the church in heaven, worshipping God
5. If the Mid-Tribulation Rapture position is correct, then chs. 4 & 5 would have to be placed after chapter 11, and if the post-Tribulation view is right, chs. 4 & 5 would have to placed after chapter 19.
6. Only the Pre-Tribulation rapture makes sense of the flow of the Book of Revelation and follows the outline Jesus gave John in Revelation 1:19
IX. A Conditional Tribulation
1. In the Letter to the Church at Thyatira in Revelation ch. 2, Jesus rebukes the church for allowing a gross polluter of the Church to remain among them.
2. In v. 22 Jesus says –
“22Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.”
3. If the Rapture occurred after the Tribulation, this wouldn’t make any sense.
4. This is one more proof that the Rapture occurs before the Tribulation and will sort out the genuine believers from those who are mere professors.
5. Genuine believers will repent, and so be delivered from great tribulation.
X. Unknown Time Of Christ’s Return
1. One of the most powerful proofs for the Pre-Trib rapture is that it’s the only one that can account for the repeated reference to the coming of the Lord being at a time not expected.
2. Daniel 9 spells out clearly that there will be 1260 days from the time the Antichrist enters the temple in Jerusalem and declares himself god, till the Return of Jesus Christ.
3. Yet Matthew 24:36 makes it clear that no one knows the day of Jesus’s Return.
4. The only way to reconcile this is to see the Rapture and the Second Coming as two different events ” separated by 7 years.
5. The Jews of Jesus’s day missed His first coming because they had misinterpreted the prophecies of His coming.
a. one set of prophecies foretold a suffering servant
b. while the other set foretold a conquering King
c. they’d come to see the suffering servant prophecies as symbolic but interpreted the conquering king ones as literal.
d. so they looked for the Messiah to come in Majesty and missed His coming in humility.
6. We need to learn this lesson, for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ has two phases, just like the OT prophecies of the Messiah’s coming.
a. before Jesus comes to earth in glory as the Conquering King,
b. He will come secretly in the clouds to receive His bride.
7. This coming, as Paul says in 1 Thess. 5, is like a thief in the night, not a King in the mid-day sun.
8. No one knows when Jesus comes in the Rapture, which is very different from His actual Second coming, which will be 1260 days after the Antichrist enters the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem.
XI. Tribulation Is Unnecessary For The Church
1. In Jer. 30:7, the Tribulation is called Jacob’s trouble.
2. It’s called this because it’s a unique time in which God awakens the Jews to embrace Jesus as their Messiah.
3. In Deut 4, Moses made this remarkable statement ”
“29From there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, when you turn to the Lord your God and obey His voice 31(for the Lord your God is a merciful God), He will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them.”
4. All of God’s promises to Israel will be fulfilled and it’s during the Tribulation that He will move decisively to make Himself known to her.
5. But in order for God to make Israel the focus of His redemptive attention, He will need to switch that focus off the Church.
6. The only way to do that, and not violate His promise to never leave nor forsake us is to take the church out of the earth and transport her to heaven.
XII. Squares With 70 Weeks of Daniel
1. This is a rather complex and involved proof, but one of the most powerful.
2. Let me try to summarize it as quickly as possible.
3. In Daniel 9, God told the prophet that 490 years had been set aside for God to deal with the Jews and Jerusalem in a special way of focus.
4. The first 483 of those years were fulfilled right down to the very day!
5. That leaves one last period of 7 years.
6. If the first 483 years were literal, we have to accept the last 7 as literal as well.
7. Now, God said these 490 years were all set aside for God’s unique focus on Israel.
8. So just as with reason XI, in order for God to turn his attention to the nation of Israel, He must turn His focus away from the Church, and the only way He can do that is if the Church has been raptured and is with Him in heaven.
9. The church wasn’t here for the first 483 years of Daniel’s prophecy; it’s not going to be here for the last 7 either!
10. And by the way ” as Daniel foretells, that last 7 years begins when the Antichrist forges a special agreement with many nations that appears to have something to do with the City of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple
11. In light of all that’s taking place in the Middle East today, and how the nations of the world are lining up trying to figure out what to do to bring peace, this all becomes very interesting to students of the Bible.
XIII. The Rapture Is Imminent!
1. Finally, the apostles and the early Church all believed in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.
2. We know that because they believed Jesus could come at any moment ” but they knew they weren’t in the Tribulation!
3. We find the expectation of Jesus’ coming all over the letters of Peter, Paul, and John!
4. The writings of the earliest of the church fathers carry a very strong expectation of the Lord’s coming for the Church.
5. This simply isn’t what we would find if they believed and taught a mid or post-tribulation rapture.
6. They took Jesus’ words literally and seriously when He said, “Watch and be ready, for in such an hour as you think not, the Son of Man comes.” [Matthew 24:42 25:13]
Conclusion
A. It Matters What You Believe!
1. The timing of the Rapture is not an essential of the faith.
2. And good people do disagree!
3. But we ought not say that it doesn’t matter what a person believes about this issue ” it does matter!
4. You see, it’s inevitable that when one believes the Rapture takes place is going to effect the way they live.
5. If I believe the rapture is before the Tribulation then I am going to live as if it could be any moment ” so I’ll be watching and ready for Him.
6. In 1 John 3:2-3 John writes ”
“2Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
7. If I hold to a mid or post-trib position, then quite frankly I’m probably not very hopeful of the Lord’s coming!
a. I’d prefer it was stuck way off in the future because I don’t want to have to endure the Tribulation
b. and if it is near, I won’t be looking for Jesus so much as I’ll be looking for the evidences that I’m in the Tribulation.
c. instead of looking for Christ, I’ll be looking for antichrist, knowing I have to see him before I’ll see Jesus.
8. Also, if I have to endure the Tribulation, instead of keeping a light touch with the world, I’m going to be highly motivated to dig in.
9. I’ll develop a survivalist mentality, and start building a shelter and storing food and figuring out how not to take the mark of the beast.
10. So it does matter when you believe the Rapture takes place because what we believe is the basis for how we live.

Taken from Pastor Lance Ralston’s notes from Calvary Chapel of Oxnard