In response to the recently released modern version of the movie “Left Behind,” some are saying that the translation of the church to heaven before the Great Tribulation will not happen, and that this doctrine has been around only since the 19th century.
It has been said that no one in the early church spoke about it and no one has ever been delivered from their time of tribulation but they had to go through it, so therefore the church has to go through the Great Tribulation.
Indeed, many in the Bible had to go through their time of trouble, but some were delivered from it. Two good examples are Lot and his family, who escaped Sodom and Gomorrah, as well as Joseph, Mary and Jesus, who escaped the wicked hand of Herod. Both families were spared from their personal tribulation times.
Contrary to some opinions, the doctrine of the translation of the church to heaven before the Great Tribulation was actually mentioned in the early centuries.
The writings called “The Shepherd of Hermas,” which were written around the first and second centuries and at one time were considered Scripture, mentions a vision of a beast. The writings say, “Go therefore and declare to the elect of the Lord His mighty works, and tell them that this beast is a type of the great tribulation, which is to come. If therefore ye prepare yourselves beforehand, and repent (and turn) unto the Lord with your whole heart, ye shall be able to escape it, if your heart be made pure and without blemish, and if for the remaining days of your life ye serve the Lord blamelessly. Cast your cares upon the Lord and He will set them straight.”
Also, Ephrem, a deacon and theologian of the fourth century wrote, “See to it that this sentence be not fulfilled among you of the prophet who declares: ‘Woe to those who desire to see the day of the Lord!'”
Ephrem then said, “For all the saints and elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins.”
Finally, Jesus, when speaking of the great days of Tribulation, said in Luke 21, “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. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch 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.”
Just to set our minds to thinking, “Let us all be ready when the Lord comes to take us from this earth.” To be sure, the timing of the translation of the church to heaven should not be argued over nor should it divide the body of Christ, but let us continue to believe that He’s coming soon and when we least expect it!”
Pastor David Siriano was an Assemblies of God minister for 45 years before retiring from the pulpit in 2008. He is an author and teaches eschatology at North Point Bible College in Haverhill, Massachusetts.
The above article, “The Early Church Didn’t Avoid Teaching the Rapture” is written by David Siriano. The article was excerpted from: www.christianitytoday.com web site. October 2014.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.
VIEW OUR ENTIRE SELECTION OF MINISTRY RESOURCES FOR ISSUE 24-7