I Thessalonians 4:l5-l7 -

              For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not  prevent (preceed) them who are asleep.

              For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first;

              Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

      There is a doctrine in the Pentecostal/evangelical religious circles (and others) that believes that we - believers - are going to be "raptured", that we have nothing to worry about, that when the "Great Tribulation" comes we - believers - will be gone. Due in part to this erroneous doctrine, Jim Bakker, head of the Pentecostal PTL, had an affair with a church secretary and wound up in prison. Jimmy Swaggart, the foremost of Pentecostal evangelists, was photographed with a whore outside a motel room. This doctrine degenerates into, "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we are raptured." What this doctrine means is that when GOD comes for a second time to this world, the church will disappear into the clouds before the seals and the plagues are opened, which means in part, thermonuclear war, or whatever weapons of destruction are available when it happens.

      Revelation is a fascinating book. It deals with the destruction of the human race. This is pretty negative, and probably most people shouldn't even read it. But to imagine the apostle John sitting on the Isle of Patmos, with his technology of chariots for mechanized transportation and etc., trying his best to describe nuclear holocaust, or whatever weapons of destruction are available when it happens, the mind is almost boggled about the language he had to use.

      Some of what the church says is true. We are in the transitional period into "the last days". This could be said to be from l980 to 2020 A.D. Post 2020 A.D., how long does this "last days" period last - forty years, four hundred years? Of course no one knows. What we do know is that iniquity abounds and the love of many is waxing cold. Marriages are breaking up at an historically unprecedented rate. People are becoming like the machines they work with - cold. Of course our Lord said, through John, that when it (the seals and the plagues) comes down, it will be because of humankind's worship of its vehicles, houses, labor saving devices, and its murders, the occult, its fornication (pre-marital sex), its thefts. This is out of Revelation 9:20-2l.

      The order of events is given to us in Matthew 24:2l-42. First, verse 2l:

              For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

This of course speaks of the seals and the plagues in Revelation. Then, in verses 29 through 3l:

              Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give its light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken.

              And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

              And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

So after the seals and the plagues spoken of in Revelation, the Son of man, i.e. the God of the Cross, will come to this world for the second time. And now, verses 37-4l:

              But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

      Now, this concept of "two in the field, one taken," "two women grinding at the mill, one taken and the other left," is used by Pentecostal/evangelical people to show that the "rapture" will occur. While it is true that the rapture will occur, it will occur after "the great tribulation", the seals and the plagues spoken of in Revelation. Notice that after the great tribulation, the seals and the plagues spoken of in Revelation, our Lord comes back to earth. Then, at that time, the "rapture" takes place - "two in the field, one taken". Some argue that "eating and drinking, marrying and given in marriage" couldn't take place during the seals and plagues. However, the "Antichrist" sets up so people can "buy and sell" during this period. The coming of the Son of man, after the seals and plagues is the flood, THE END.

      Pilgrim's Progress tells the story of a man who dreamed a dream:

              "This night as I was in my sleep, I dreamed, and behold the heavens grew exceeding black, also it thundered and lightened in a most fearful wise, that it put me into an agony. So I looked up in my dream, and saw the clouds rack (move) at an unusual rate, upon which I heard a great sound of a trumpet, and saw also a man sit upon a cloud, attended with the thousands of Heaven; they were all in flaming fire, also the heavens was on a burning flame. I heard then a voice, saying, 'Arise ye dead, and come to judgment,’ and with that the rocks rent, the graves opened, and the dead that were therein came forth; some of them were exceeding glad, and looked upward, and some sought to hide themselves under the mountains. Then I saw the man that sat upon the cloud open the book and bid the world draw near. Yet there was by reason of a fiery flame that issued out and came from before him a convenient distance betwixt him and them, as betwixt the judge and the prisoners at the bar. I heard it also proclaimed to them that attended on the man that sat on the cloud, 'Gather together the tares, the chaff, and stubble, and cast them into the burning lake,' and with that the bottomless pit opened, just whereabouts I stood, out of the mouth of which there came in an abundant manner smoke, and coals of fire, with hideous noises."

      If the "rapture" takes place before the seals and plagues, it should have taken place in l989.  Pentecostals/evangelicals have taught that the world began in 4000 B.C., that 2000 A.D. makes 6000 years, and that the "millennium" begins (the seventh thousand) at the year 2000. And because the monk in the 6th century A.D. was four years off on the birth of Christ (actually 4 B.C.), then this "millennium": would have begun l996. Then we have the seven year tribulation period, before the "millennium", which sets the time for the "rapture" at l989. Revelation 20:3-5 -

              And cast him (Satan) into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled; and after that he must be loosed a little season.

              And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them; and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and who had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

              But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. THIS IS THE FIRST RESURRECTION.

      THIS IS THE FIRST RESURRECTION. The first resurrection - the dead in Christ shall rise first. If the rapture were to occur before the seals and plagues Revelation 20:5 would say, "This is the second resurrection." But it doesn't. C.I. Scofield comments in his Scofield Bible:

              Two resurrections are yet future, which are inclusive of "all that are in the graves". These are distinguished as the "first resurrection", which is one "of life" and a second resurrection, which is one "of damnation", i.e. judgment. They are separated by a period of l000 years. The "first resurrection", that unto life, will occur at the second coming of Christ, the believers of the Church Age meeting Him in the air, and the martyrs of the tribulation period being raised at the close of the tribulation, when Christ returns to earth to inaugurate the millennium.

The first resurrection occurs after the advent of the "antichrist" ("who had not worshipped the beast"). "The 'first resurrection', that unto life, will occur at the second coming of Christ," "But the rest of the dead live not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection." Apparently this "first resurrection" occurs at the beginning of the "millennium".

      2 Thessalonians l:7-l0 -

              And to you who are troubled, rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ; Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power, When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.

When Our Lord returns, He will obliterate Mankind. Even toward the end of the seals and plagues period, China, possibly, is fielding an army of 200,000,000 men. It is obvious that in spite of thermonuclear holocaust, many will survive.

      I Thessalonians 3:l3 -

              To the end he may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.

      Revelation l3:7, l4:ll-l3, l8:24 -

              And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them; and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations...

              And the smoke of the torment ascendeth up forever and ever; and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

              Here is the patience of the saints; here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

              And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth. Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors, and their works do follow them...

              And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.

Saints are people who have let the spirit of the God of the universe into their hearts.

      Mark l3:24-27 -

              But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give its light, And the stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in the heavens shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds, with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven.

Who are the elect? I Peter l:2 -

              Elect according to the foreknowledge of God, the Father, through santification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied…

      Romans 8:33 -

              Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth...

      Titus l:l -

              I, Paul, a servant of God, and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God's elect, and the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness.

The elect are these people who are raptured after the tribulation.

      2 Thessalonians 2:l-4 -

              Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, not by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he, as God, sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

This scripture clarifies the issue. Paul says concerning the rapture ("our gathering together to Him"), that the day of Christ will not come until the "Antichrist" sits in the temple of God. "Gather together" is the exact same terminology used in Mark l3 and Matthew 24 to signify what is going to happen. In 2 Thessalonians 2:l it refers to the "brethren".

      Lest some think that God would not allow people who have let the spirit of the God of the universe into their hearts to suffer, let us look at Foxe's Book of Martyrs. This was written shortly after the barrage of early Protestants who were burned at the stake under the reign of Queen Mary in England. Her reign lasted only five years, l553-l558, yet many people died. John Foxe:

              But when he (John Hooper, l555, England), was black in the mouth, and his tongue swollen, that he could not speak, yet his lips went till they were shrunk to the gums: and he knocked his breast with his hands, until one of his arms fell off and then knocked still with the other, what time the fat, water, and blood, dropped out at his fingers' ends, until by renewing of the fire his strength was gone, and his hand did cleave fast, in knocking, to the iron upon his breast. So immediately, bowing forwards, he yielded up his spirit...

              By reason of the evil making of the fire unto Master Ridley (l555, England), because the wooden faggots (a bundle of sticks) were laid about the gorse, and over-high built, the fire burned first beneath, being kept down by the wood; which when Master Ridley felt, he desired them for Christ's sake to let the fire come unto him. Which when his brother-in-law heard, but not well understood, intending to rid him out of his pain, as one in such sorrow not well advised what he did, he heaped faggots upon him, so that he clean covered him, which make the fire more vehement beneath, that it burned clean all his nether (lower) parts, before it once touched the upper...

              And when the wood was kindled, and the fire began to burn near him (Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, l555, England), stretching out his arm, he put his right hand into the flame, which he held so steadfast and immovable [saving that once with the same hand he wiped his face], that all men might see his hand burned before his body was touched. His body did abide the burning with such steadfastness, that he seemed to move no more than the stake to which he was bound...

Certainly, if martyrdom can occur in the Dark Ages, it can occur in the Last Days. Again, John Foxe:

              Hereupon the proconsul said, "I have wild beasts; and I will expose you to them, unless you repent." "Call for them," replied Polycarp; "for repentance with us is a wicked thing, if it is to be a change from the better to the worse, but a good thing if it is to be a change from evil to good." "I will tame thee with fire," said the proconsul, "since you despise the wild beasts, unless you repent"...

              Yea, she rebuked her sweet babe for craving a draught of cold water: she charged him to thirst after the cup that the infants of Bethlehem once drank of, forgetting their mothers' milk and paps; she willed him remember little Isaac, who, beholding the sword wherewith and the altar whereon he should be sacrificed, willingly proffered his tender neck to the dint of his father's sword. Whilst this council was in giving, the butcherly tormentor plucked the skin from the crown of his head, hair and all. The mother cried, "Suffer, my child, anon thou shalt pass to Him that will adorn thy naked head with a crown of eternal glory." The mother counselleth, the child is counselled; the mother encourageth, the babe is encouraged, and receiveth the stripes with smiling countenance...

              The blessed Blandina, last of all, as a generous mother having exhorted her children, and sent them before her victorious to the king, reviewing the whole series of their sufferings, hastened to undergo the same herself, rejoicing and triumphing in her exit, as if invited to a marriage supper, not as one going to be exposed to wild beasts...

This was Rome. The church goes out the same way it came in. Revelation l2:ll, 20:4, 6:9-ll, l3:7, l5:2, l8:24 -

              And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death...

              And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them; and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and who had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years...

              And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held.

              And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

              And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled...

              And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them; and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations...

              And I saw, as it were, a sea of glass mingled with fire, and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having the harps of God…

              And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.

      In the book The Rapture A Question of Timing, by William Kimball, he makes some interesting comments on I Thessalonians 4:l6-l7 -

              A final note on the word "descend" employed in I Thessalonians 4:l6 is also helpful at this point. The word is consistently employed to characterize an uninterrupted descent. This is substantiated in those passages mentioning the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Christ at His baptism. It is also borne out in passages which refer to Christ's first advent. It is also employed numerous times in the New Testament in which its context clearly states or suggests an uninterrupted descent. When a change of direction in the descent is stated, a specific statement is included to qualify it. Pretribulationists claim that since the saints will be caught up to "meet" the Lord in the air that this heavenward ascent lends support to their defense of a two-stage coming. They naturally assume that our translation skyward is a clear indication of our heavenward destination immediately following our rendezvous in the air. However, opponents of the two-stage concept argue just the opposite. They maintain that Christ's descent to the earth will be uninterrupted at the rapture. They claim that the scriptures say nothing about a change of direction in the Lord's descent after the saints have joined Him in the air. Though pretribulationists like Walvoord maintain that, "I Thessalonians 4 says nothing about continuing the journey to the earth," it should be pointed out that this verse says nothing about a return trip to heaven either. On the basis of direct statements, neither postribulationists or pretribulationists can conclusively prove their position. However, the internal evidence associated with the distinctive usage of the word "meet" lends strong support to the argument against the two stage theory. Interpreting this "meeting" of the Lord in the air by both the resurrected, dead saints and the translated, living saints to mean that Christ will then book them on His return flight to heaven to wait seven years before coming back to earth again violates the precise meaning of the word "met". The word translated "meet" is derived from the Greek word apantesis. It is a unique word used in reference to the coming of a king or magistrate to visit a city. As Bruce noted: "When a dignitary paid an official visit or parousia to a city in Hellenistic times, the action of the leading citizens in going out to meet him and escorting him on the final stage of his journey was called the apantesis (F.F. Bruce New Bible commentary)."

      What is confusing is that Revelation 20:4-5 makes it clear that the FIRST RESURRECTION occurs after the seals and plagues period. However, in Luke 23:39-43 Jesus makes it clear to the thief (this is in 33 A.D.) that "Today shalt thou be with me in paradise." Further, there have been numerous, documented, near-death experiences where people claim to have been in paradise. Seemingly, when an individual dies, he or she is there. Apparently, at the second coming of Christ, the spirits of people come with Him, then the "dead in Christ" rise and their bodies are re-united with their spirits.

      Luke l7:28-29 -

              Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;

              But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven.

In the days of Lot "they bought, they sold". In the days of the "Antichrist" they buy, they sell, in spite of all the problems of thermonuclear war. J. Preston Eby, in The Origin of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture states:

              It wasn't until the early or mid l800s that there was any significant group of believers around the world that looked for a "rapture" of the Church prior to a seven-year tribulation period...It was a Jesuit priest named Ribera who, in the days of the Reformation, first taught that all the events in the book of Revelation were to take place literally during the three and a half year reign of the Antichrist away down at the end of the age. Later, Emmanuel Lacunza, also a Jesuit priest, built on Ribera's teachings, and spent much of his life writing a book titled The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty. Lacunza, however, wrote under the assumed name of "Rabbi Ben Ezra"... Lacunza taught the novel notion that Jesus returns not once, but twice, and at the "first stage" of His return He "raptures" His Church so they can escape the reign of the "future Antichrist". His book was first published in Spanish in the year l8l2 and soon found its way onto the shelves of the library of the Archbishop of Canterbury in London, England. Now enter the name of Edward Irving. Born in Scotland in l792, Irving became one of the most eloquent preachers of his time. In l828 his open-air meetings in Scotland drew crowds of l0,000 people. His Church in London seated one thousand people and was packed week after week with a congregation drawn from the most brilliant and influential circles of society. There were some among them who by prophetic declaration announced that the Lord was coming soon, and this idea became prominent in their prophetic utterances and teachings... About this same time there began the emergence of a new movement which came to be known as the "Plymouth Brethren". The Brethren movement had its beginning in Dublin in l825 when a small group of earnest men, dissatisfied with the spiritually lethargic condition that prevailed in the Protestant Church in Ireland, met for prayer and fellowship...A man by the name of John Darby was the leading spirit among the Plymouth Brethren from l830 onward. Darby was from a prosperous Irish family, was educated as a lawyer, took high honors at Dublin University, then turned aside, to his father's chagrin, to become a minster. Thus Irving and Darby were contemporaries, though associated with different spiritual movements. Another series of meetings were in progress at this time, a group of seeking Christians were meeting in the castle of Lady Powerscourt for the study of Bible prophecy. Many clergymen attended, and quite a few who were Irvingites. The Irvingites came to the meetings obsessed with the ideas of the "Secret Rapture" and the future Antichrist, imbibed from the Jesuit Lacunza's book. John Darby and the other Brethren leaders were invited to these meetings and became participators in them... The Secret Rapture teaching was introduced into the United States and Canada in the l860s and l870s, though there is some indication that it may have been taught as early as the l840s. Darby himself visited the United States six times. The "new" teaching was spreading. A Congregationalist preacher by the name of C.I. Scofield came under the influence of Darby and the Plymouth Brethren. Scofield became a strong promoter of the teaching that had been promulgated by Darby, whom he considered "the most profound Bible student of modern times". He incorporated this teaching into his Scofield Reference Bible...

The "rapture" was also taught by Morgan Edwards (l722-l795) and in isolated incidences going back to 300 A.D.

      Since these asinine things are coming down the road, what should people do - don't worry about it. People need to quit worrying and living in fear, because it sure isn't going to change anything. God is not a maniac with His finger on THE BUTTON. People should be happy, because the mess of the world system is coming to a close.