Pre-Trib Belief No. 1: Jesus comes for His Church/Bride, to take up to Heaven, before the Tribulation (Luke 21:36; John 14:1-3; 1Thess 1:10, 4:14-17, 5:9; Rev 3:10).
Jesus said “But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man”(Luke 21:36) following His description of the tribulation in verses 25-35. He then says “when YOU see these things happening…” (v31), and it (the trib.) will come upon all who dwell on the face of the earth (v35).
Obviously the people he is talking to are going through the tribulation. He is encouraging them to not give in, not worship the Beast, and to pray that God would give them strength to stand. He is not promising to zap them out prior to the trib., or even during it.
John 14:1-3: “Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
No where does Jesus state in these verses in John, nor in the wider context, that this takes place prior to the tribulation. On the other hand, Matthew 24:29, 31 says But immediately after the tribulation of those days… He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
1 Thes 1:9-10: For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, 10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.
1 Thes 5:9: For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ
“The wrath to come” does not mean “the tribulation.” If it does, I would like to read where the bible states that. Over and over the bible declares that the wrath of God will be toward the disobedient (Col 3:6) and the unbelieving (Heb 3:10-12). People will experience the wrath of God when they are judged and condemned to Hell. Some case can be made that the armies invading Israel at Armageddon will experience God’s wrath. For a more complete discussion of that see http://midnightwatcher.wordpress.com/2011/03/26/lost-in-translation-not-appointed-unto-wrath-what-scripture-is-really-saying/
1 Thes 4:14-17: For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
Verse 17 says “we who are alive and remain”. Remain through what? The tribulation. In 2 Thessalonians, further instructions to the same church, Paul reports that the apostasy and the “man of lawlessness”, i.e., the antichrist, comes first (2 Thes 2:1-4). Furthermore, the dead are raised FIRST, before those who are alive. More detail on this can be found in 1 Cor 15:51-52: Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. Changed into what? Our resurrection bodies (v35-50). Why do we need bodies? Because we will be living on the earth, during the Millennium, when Christ reigns physically.
When we “meet the Lord in the air”, it is not to go to heaven, but to return to earth. The word “meet” in Greek is ἀπάντησις apantēsis, G529, derived from G528 ἀπαντάω, apantaō, “to go to meet”. It is a technical term that refers specifically to the practice of sending a delegation outside the city walls and gates to receive a dignitary who was coming. This was the practice when a king and his army were returning from war. All the people would pour forth from the city gates and welcome them with pomp and circumstance. The people would meet them outside and then usher them back into the city with shouts of joy and acclamation. So we are resurrected/changed, meet the Lord in the air, and then return to earth to rule and reign with Him. We don’t go off to Heaven for up to 7 years.
Rev 3:10: Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.
Boy, talk about taking a verse out of context. This is written to the church in Philadelphia, in about 95 AD. Nowhere does it say that the Philadelphians would be snatched away to Heaven, and indeed, they were not. Nowhere does it say that this verse applies to Christians in some later dispensation or date. If the messages of the seven churches could somehow be applied to consecutive periods down through “the church age” (a dispensational term), the Philadelphian church is not the last, the Laodicean church is. In every way that this verse can be analyzed, it does not tell us that by persevering we will then be secretly raptured away.