The Time of Beginning Of Sorrows
Jesus spoke these words when He was making reference to the time of his second coming. He made use of terms like birth pangs and time of great trials, travail as a woman in childbirth etc. and spoke of a very troubled and traumatic time of history, through which mankind must travel. Jesus also stated that of the ones that will endure this time of great tribulation, only those who endure till the end will be saved.
He also predicted in it many would become offended resulting in absolutely betraying one another. All of this because he said their love of God would become luke warm as a result of what they deem to be injustice and God being oblivious to it.
Jesus called it a time of such great tribulation which could find no comparison in previous history or any other relative time of human duration. No violent upheaval throughout man’s time on earth past or future, no matter how bad or traumatic can be compared to this coming desolation. I know that what I say here will be considered by most to be very controversial and to some even heretical because it has been considered a pet doctrine of the church in the last couple of centuries that we as Christians will not have to suffer any persecution or hardship. In the western church many eschatological teachers believe and espouse the truth of a pretribulation rapture and as such teach that the believers will be snatched out before this time of the coming trouble. It amazes me that only those who spend their time in the western church largely endorse and believe this and the question has to be asked WHY?
Firstly before we look at the facts of this theory of pretribulation rapture and whether you accept it or not, realise it is still only a theory because as many as teach a pretribulationl rapture are challenged by an equal number, in fact far greater number of Christians worldwide, who do not espouse a pretribulation rapture. Once again I want to challenge your thinking and biblical exegesis and my whole hearted desire is to simply define and find the truth. I some years back personally espoused the rapture theory as it was taught to me, but as I began to research truth for myself a great deal of scripture seemed to contradict this theory. So much so, that I began to read and research everything I could find on the subject to formulate not what I simply wanted to believe and thought convenient and comfortable but what the Word of God was conveying to me as truth, be it palatable or not.
What I found totally changed my thinking and my understanding of these end time truths. This requires an interjection here on my part, so let me here add; I do not pretend, nor want to be seen as bigoted and thus convey the impression I know everything and possess all truth. My heart is to pursue and find truth. When you take time out to travel through the persecuted church, unlike the protected insular western church and meet the saints in their own poor and down trodden environment, you find some major conflicts.
Firstly you meet saints that under great duress yet fearlessly are preaching the gospel in spite of their difficult existence. Upon returning to the same people, a year later you find some of them are no longer alive or alternatively unable to be located. The reason for this is because they have been incarcerated or martyred for their faith. To these courageous saints whose righteousness perseverance and convictions are multiplied many times above those of our own, the thought of escaping trial and testing for them does not even warrant a consideration. Yet in contrast looking at the western church, I find their only defence in justifying a pretribulation rapture is the claim that God would never let the saints suffer. It does not seem to enter the western Christian’s mindsets that these persecuted saints are yielding up their lives every day for the faith.
Their wholehearted commitment to Christ and the great commission draws an automatic response which portrays an absolute unreserved devotion and dedication of spirit that reveals their willingness to lay down their lives totally for the cause of Christ. Their dedication highlights the contrast between western and third world Christian commitment and subsequently exposes the lack of sincerity and sacrifice we as civilised and affluent free nations exhibit. It shows very clearly our western culture of comfort and resistance to pain and hardship of any sort. It also discloses our soft gutless evasion of any degree of suffering.
We in the west, have absolutely no appreciation of what is taking place in the other world, other being that world which is lacking the affluence, the conceit, the comfort, the self centeredness that characterises our world. We have no idea how the other half or should I correct that actual assessment to more like nine tenths of how Christian representation in Asia workout their salvation in fear and trembling under dictatorships and regimental totalitarian juntas.
The last count I was given several years ago was the fact that at least one hundred and eighty thousand individual Christians worldwide were being martyred for their faith annually in non western nations and regimes. This figure by the way is confirmed by the website and statistics of Amnesty International.
Do you understand the sum of that figure at least fifteen thousand a month or roughly three and a half thousand a week? That is simply staggering and what do these saints think of a pretribulation pain free escape doctrine called the rapture? They wonder why it is that they are dying and suffering and we in the west convince ourselves that we will escape this hour. I have had to counsel many believers who are in these very scenarios and they want to know what it is that they have done wrong for God to direct his anger at them to punish them yet not direct it at the western church. To add to this insulting theory, I have heard many western preachers suggest that Gods judgement is on these nations because these persecuted saints will not rise up and believe the truth. I remember hearing a tape of Kenneth Copeland lambasting these persecuted saints who were suffering poverty and persecution. His false supposition of them concluded that they were living in unbelief under a negative report and needed to shake off their poverty mentality. What absolute rubbish!
Corrie Ten Boom, the Jewess who suffered under Hitler in Nazi German concentration torture, once made a statement before a large audience when confronting a question asked of her about persecution and Christian suffering. The question directed at her was how a God of love could allow Christians to suffer through a tribulation period without rapture, allowing them to suffer as she did. Her response was not only very revealing but also very convicting. She said ONLY AN AMERICAN AND WESTERNER WOULD ASK SUCH A QUESTION!
It is an extremely complex and lengthy discussion, when debating the issue of a pretribulation rapture. J.N. Darby, Clarence Larkin and C. I. Schofield were its main originators and propagators. As such, neither time nor space here would allow me the opportunity to challenge this doctrine which only became a consideration to the church within the last one hundred and fifty years. But there are some simple and yet profound facts concerning this debate which if people would allow themselves the liberty from biased indoctrination and flexibility from dogmatic preconceptions, would very clearly expose some of the anomalies of this prerapture doctrine. It scares me somewhat that most Christians and scholars are not even prepared to look at another version of truth no matter how much scriptural reference and research may have been done regarding it. It was only when I began to look outside the conventionally accepted box that I at least became open enough to look let alone question it, incredible.
Let me take a little liberty here and present before you here some glaring anomalies in relation to this subject. Please give me a little freedom to challenge your thinking. I will not cover them all and I will not get into an argument that becomes irrational as some do, but let me just mention and allude to a few of these contradictions here. My contention is this, that if ones would seek the truth, instead of defending a preconditioned idea, it may just lead them to the same conclusions as myself in my search for truth. However most will not even consider this option but right it off as heresy, refusing to consider that there may be an alternative doctrinal position that does have validity and to my way of thinking presents a stronger case.
A very close and honoured friend of mine to whom I would defer as having much greater biblical interpretive skill than I, holds this very position that I present to you and his knowledge is much greater than mine. I consider him to be one of the greatest teachers alive on the earth at this moment and he has written many books and articles on this as well as other eschatological subjects. His name is Dr Kevin Conner.
He has given me permission to quote and include any of his writings and research in this and any other article that I may write or submit. I say this not to name drop or gain leverage for my own credibility but to show that I am not alone or way out on a limb as to what I write and submit here in this particular article. Dr Conner has published a very in depth book on this very subject of the tribulation and the rapture of the church, and I will reprint with his permission some of his very heart searching material in the coming months. Material which can only bring you deeper revelation and appreciation for the Word of God the Bible if you should take the time to peruse his valuable work.