What does the Rapture have to do with the Cross?
There is much disagreement in the Church, as to whether there is a rapture of the Lord’s body, before the Great Tribulation, and if so, when is it? Pre-Trib, Mid-Trib or Post-Tribulation? This is a very important question, not only for the Church as a whole, but to each and every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. To answer this all important question on the doctrine of the Rapture, we must examine this in a manner that here-to-fore, to my knowledge, has never been discussed and that is, what does the rapture have to do with Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross?
Let us look to God’s infallible Word for the answer to the question. We must begin with the wrath of God and what exactly that means to the world, the church and finally to me and you as Disciples of the Lord.
To the world, God’s wrath is made a reality by His judgment on sin. For God is Holy and just. His wrath is not metered out in a fit of rage, nor is it vindictive. His wrath is an expression of His Holiness. When we contemplate what God’s wrath means to the unsaved, we need look no further than His Word. We see His wrath on display when He delivered the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage. In Exodus 15:7 we see Moses leading the children of Israel in song and praises to God for their deliverance. Thus in verse 7 of Chapter 15 of Exodus, they are reminded that God’s wrath (a burning anger) that was poured out upon a wicked people (the Egyptians) and the false God’s they worshipped. “And in the greatness of your Excellency You have overthrown them who rose up against You: You sent forth Your Wrath, which consumed them as stubble.”
Again in Ephesians 2:3 we see that God’s wrath is upon all who are lost and by their very nature are children of disobedience, for we are all tainted and broken by the fall of Adam. “Among whom (the children of disobedience) also we all had our conversation (manner of life) in times past in the lusts of our flesh (evil cravings), fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others (the spirit of Satan, which fills all unbelievers, thereby working disobedience). (emphasis mine)
(Romans 1:18) For the wrath (indignation, punishment, justifiable, abhorrence) of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness. (emphasis mine) We see here God is justified by His hatred of sin, thus it falls on everyone, because all were born with a disposition to be enemies of God, i.e. our sin nature.
“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience; among whom also we all had our conversation (how we lived out our daily lives), in time past in the lust of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.” Ephesians 2:1-3. (emphasis mine)
We know that all who are outside and apart from Jesus Christ are and will experience the wrath of God throughout eternity. By its very nature God’s wrath excludes mercy as it pertains to His dealings with unrepentant people or nations. In other words, it is every lasting and final. So much more could be said on this subject but suffice it to say, enough has been said.
Now, let us look at the Great Tribulation or the ‘Day of the Lord’. There are many who believe that the Church i.e. believers, that make up the Body of Christ, will go through the first 3 and ½ years of the Great Tribulation. This became known as the ‘Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church’. Once again, we must understand that this, “Day of the Lord”, is God’s wrath being poured out upon an unrepentant earth.
If the Seals and Trumpets found in the book of Revelation are not the wrath of God being poured out, then what are they? No, it is clear these Seals and Trumpets, in fact are the judgments of and from God. So, you ask, “What is your point”? Simply put, we are not appointed unto wrath, not by what we have done or not done, but rather we escape wrath, because of Who we belong too.
The reason we as believers i.e. the Body of Christ, do NOT go through any part of the Great Tribulation, is because we are “in Christ”. Meaning that God’s wrath has already been satisfied. The wrath that was to fall on us because of our sinful condition, instead fell upon Jesus Christ on the Cross.
The Apostle Paul tells us that upon faith in Jesus Christ and His finished work on our behalf, God now sees you and me as having been nailed to the cross. Paul said in writing to the church in Rome, “know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death.” Romans 6:3 And likewise we were buried in Him in the tomb i.e. the old nature, is reckoned as being dead by faith, and as Christ rose from the dead, we now live this life in the power of His resurrection and thus the newness of life.
Once again, the Tribulation is God’s wrath poured out upon an unrepentant world and apostate church that has rejected the Savior of mankind, Jesus Christ. Unrepentant mankind, who has chosen to create paradise and achieve immortality by their own efforts. Have thereby rejected the grace and mercy of God in exchange for His wrath. But for we who are in Christ the disciples of the Lord, He has already satisfied the wrath of God by offering up His body one time. Paul reminds us of this in Hebrews 10:10-12 “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. But the man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.” (Emphasis mine) Remember, Christ only suffered and gave His life once for the redemption of all who will believe.
Paul again reminds the believer in Ephesians “and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:6 (emphasis mine)
You and I make up the Body of Christ and His Body i.e. the Remnant Church are seated with and in Him. For those who teach the Church has to go through any or all of the tribulation are denying the efficacy of Jesus Christ once and for all sacrifice on the cross. Think about what is being taught and what many believe. It is tantamount to blasphemy. I know that the Believer can no more purify and sanctify him or herself, by going through the Great Tribulation any more than they could save themselves from being born in sin.
It all comes back to our identity in Jesus Christ.
For the Church to go into the Tribulation would be subjecting the Lord Himself to God’s wrath once again, through the fiery trials of the great and terrible day of the Lord we call the Tribulation. For we are His Body and are not subject to God’s wrath again, anymore than Jesus is required to die for us again.
Hopefully you can now see and begin to understand what grave consequences this teaching can have upon those who adhere to this false hope. No, the Lord’s body will never again experience the wrath of God, all because it has already fallen on Jesus Christ, for our behalf. Remember, we are not appointed to wrath, God’s wrath, “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 5:9 (emphasis mine)
This is why the Church found in Revelation 4:1, is not seen again until the Second Coming of the Lord. The Apostle John sees all the saints from both directions as it relates to Calvary. Those who looked forward to the Lamb of God and those who look back to the Cross, but all of them are there in heaven, because of their faith in Jesus Christ and His great sacrifice. Christ completed His work and we are the Bride that was prepared before the foundation of the world was laid.
In bringing this to its natural conclusion, we CANNOT suffer God’s wrath, because that would be what the law would call “Double Jeopardy”. Double Jeopardy meaning 1(procedural defense that forbids a defendant from being tried again on the same (or similar) charges in the same case following a legitimate acquittal or conviction.) Now to my brothers and sisters in the Lord, God’s wrath as it concerns the Body of Christ has been satisfied by Christ Himself, completed, perfect, and a finished work performed, on the cross of Calvary. When Jesus said, “It is finished”, He meant it! Amen!