Question: Christ said, "No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up... |

Question: Christ said, "No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up...

TBC Staff

Question: Christ said, "No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day." In view of such scriptures, how can you believe in a Rapture and Resurrection at the beginning of the Great Tribulation? Doesn't Revelation:20:4-5 teach that the "first resurrection" takes place after the Battle of Armageddon?

Response: Beware of teaching that is built on one isolated verse. What do "first resurrection" and "last day" mean? The answer can only be found in the context of all Scripture. In John:5:28-29, Jesus spoke of two resurrections:

The hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the [1] resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the [2] resurrection of damnation.

Undoubtedly Revelation:20:4-5 refers to the resurrection of life. That the reference is not to the resurrection of all believers, however, but only those martyred by Antichrist during the Great Tribulation, is clearly stated: "them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark...."

Then what about Abraham, David, Peter, Paul, Spurgeon, Moody, and Christians who have died more recently, none of whom was slain by Antichrist? When are they resurrected? At the Rapture, as 1 Thessalonians:4:16-17 declares, "the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up meet the Lord in the air." No mention of that in Revelation 20, so it must have already occurred—another argument for a pretrib Rapture.

The only resurrection after Revelation:20:4-5 takes place 1,000 years later and must be what Christ called "the resurrection of damnation." Those who are raised then are still "dead in trespasses and in sins" (Eph:2:1; Col:2:13): "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened...and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books..." (Rv 20:12). This is the Great White Throne Judgment of the lost. As for Christians, they have already "appear[ed] before the judgment seat of Christ" (Rom:14:10; 2 Cor:5:10) right after the Rapture. In Revelation:19:7-9, we read of "the marriage supper of the Lamb" involving, of course, His bride, the church (Eph:5:23-32).

When and how did she get to heaven? Obviously, at the pretrib Rapture! She is clothed in fine linen, white and clean (v. 8). Next, Christ descends with "the armies which were in heaven...[also] clothed in fine linen, white and clean" (v. 14) to confront and destroy Antichrist at Armageddon. Surely the church comprises that army.

Enoch prophesied that Christ would return to this earth "with ten thousands [i.e., an innumerable company] of his saints, to execute judgment" upon Antichrist and his followers (Jude 14-15). Zechariah:14:4-5 states that when Christ comes to earth to rescue Israel and "His feet stand in that day upon the mount of Olives...all the saints" come with Him. Surely these are not disembodied spirits waiting to be resurrected! The saints who accompany Christ from heaven (Rv 19) to reign on earth must be in their glorified bodies--and they must have been taken to heaven previously in order to descend from there with Him at Armageddon.

That this resurrection in Revelation 20 involves only "the souls of them" who were martyred by Antichrist is a clear indication that all other saints have been previously resurrected. Then why wait until after Armageddon for these martyrs to be raised?

We are told why. Some of these same souls are seen earlier:

I saw under the altar the souls of them ...slain for the word of God...and it was said unto them, that they should rest...until their fellowservants also...that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. (Rv 6:9-11)

Since all Great Tribulation martyrs are resurrected together—and Antichrist kills believers to the very end—their resurrection must await the end of Armageddon. If the resurrection of believers who lived and died prior to the Tribulation took place seven years previously, why is the resurrection in Revelation 20 of those slain by Antichrist called "the first resurrection"? Clearly, it is in order to show that these martyrs are part of that company which has already been resurrected, the church. It specifically says that they "reign with him [Christ] a thousand years" (Rv 20:6) as do the saints of all ages.

What about Christ raising all believers "at the last day"? This "last day" is surely not the 24-hour period in which these martyrs are raised, for there are many more days that follow. The "last day" is a lengthy period of time called "the day of the Lord [God]" (Is 2:12; Jer:46:10; Ez 30:3; Jl 1:15, etc.) or "the day of Christ" (1 Cor:1:8; Phil:1:10; 2 Thes:2:2). It "comes like a thief in the night" when men are saying "peace and safety" (1 Thes:5:2-3) and do not expect Christ to return or God's judgment to fall but boast that "all things continue as they were from the beginning" (2 Pt 3:3-4,10).

Clearly this day cannot begin with the Millennium, for it involves God's wrath upon mankind prior thereto. Nor can it begin "as a thief" in the midst of the Tribulation, for by Revelation 6 the world is in ruins and men are crying out to the rocks to hide them from God's wrath. It can only start at the beginning of the Tribulation with the Rapture and resurrection. It must also last until the end of the Millennium and the destruction of the old universe, for Peter says, "the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away...the day of God, wherein the heavens...shall be dissolved...we...look for new heavens and a new earth" (2 Pt 3:10-13).