1. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens (Mark 13:27).NOTE: This event is the rapture. The elect will be gathered from earth to heaven and it occurs post tribulation (or that distress depending on the translation referred to), according to Mark 13:24-27:
But in those days, following that distress, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.
The second passage is very well-known, but apparently little understood:
2. Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed (1 Cor. 15:51,52).NOTE: The rapture is when our bodies will be changed and will occur when the last trumpet is sounded. This event is a also called a 'mystery.'
3. Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. Don't let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction (2 Thess. 2:1-3).NOTE: This teaching is clearly about the rapture for it is described here as "our being gathered to him." The two major events cited by Paul, which must precede it, have not happened and cannot happen until sometime after the temple is rebuilt and the antichrist is then revealed. Hence, the antichrist will be revealed before the rapture and the saints will face him.
4a. The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said: "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever." And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: "We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were angry; and your wrath has come. The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great"and for destroying those who destroy the earth" (Rev. 11:15-18).NOTE: The seventh trumpet is the last trumpet. This is also when God's wrath begins and the saints are rewarded. Lk. 14:14 says the rewards will be given out at the resurrection of the righteous (or rapture).
Immediately before the seventh trumpet sounds, we read this about the seventh trumpet:
4b. But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished, just as he announced to his servants the prophets (Rev. 10:7).NOTE: The rapture event is a "mystery" in 1 Cor. 15:51,52 and here in Rev. 10:7 (at the last trumpet"the seventh one). This means all that is described during the first six trumpets will be experienced by the last generation of Christians.
5. I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years (Rev. 20:4-6).NOTE: The first resurrection (or rapture) will occur after Christians are beheaded for remaining faithful during the time of the antichrist, which includes not taking the mark of the beast. Compare to 2 Thess. 2:1-3. Just like the pieces of a puzzle that fit together and form a clear picture, when these Scriptures are compared it becomes crystal clear that the rapture will occur after the tribulation period and we face the antichrist.
Also related to Rev. 20:4-6 is this passage:
If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints. (Rev 13:10)
Again, this is more evidence that the saints will face the antichrist and this will be before the first resurrection (or rapture). Yes, there will be a rapture (a catching up), as the Bible teaches:
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever (1 Thess. 4:16,17).
But before that event the Book of Revelation teaches an all-out nuclear exchange with massive devastation and death. Again, such will occur before the rapture, unlike what the any-moment rapture people think and have been told. Certainly, Tim LaHaye's "Left Behind" series and many other such videos, books, etc. have done much harm regarding instilling false hopes in God's children regarding the rapture escape. The Bible teaches a post tribulation rapture. It is as it is.
One can only wonder how many will have their faith destroyed, if they survive the all-out nuclear exchange with billions dying. Will their faith in the Bible and Jesus be destroyed because they were taught they would be taken away before such happens? If so, then perhaps, their falling away will be part of the great apostasy mentioned in 2 Thess. 2:3.
Dear saint, in the past the children of God have been burned at the stake, ripped apart by wild animals for amusement, beaten to death, etc. Please don't think you won't go through similar rough times yourself because you are his child. Don't be deceived.
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Matt. 10:28).
They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death (Rev. 12:11).
A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: "If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God's fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name." This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. (Rev 14:9-12)
Remember also that the tribulation is not the wrath of God, as you might have been taught. Furthermore, the tribulation is not seven years in length!
Remember this: A wonderful paradise kingdom is awaiting the overcomer who remains faithful to God, even if he has the privilege to die for Jesus before getting there. Ponder Rev. 21:4 and 1 Cor. 2:9 for details. Also, there is NO once saved always saved. We have a two-tape series (code 119) available on this subject teaching a post tribulation rapture of the church which can be ordered from our catalog page if anyone is interested.