Question: It’s a shame that if I accept a mid-tribulation (pre-wrath) position, I’m said to have accepted a heretical position and my fundamentalist Baptist brethren will separate from me....I think the pre-trib [supporters] have pulled scriptures out of context to stitch their position together....If the Rapture is a secret event that is imminent, why would God say to “watch”? We must be looking for more than the signs and seasons.
Response: Our position should never be based upon who is for or against a teaching. The Scriptures instruct us to “rightly [divide] the word of truth” (2 Tim:2:15). We know that each verse must be understood in its place and in harmony with the rest of Scripture. As we labor toward that end, we will become “fully persuaded in [our] own mind” (Rom:14:5).
Being fully persuaded—there is where we must stand. Consequently, whether or not your IFB brothers will separate from you is not by itself proof for the truth or error of what you believe. What do the Scriptures say? The believer in a pre-wrath or post-trib position will certainly not argue with the Lord on the way up: “Wait, wait, this isn’t how I understood the Scriptures!”
In truth, many of those abandoning the pre-trib position are also abandoning pre-millennialism entirely, choosing instead such positions as preterism, amillennialism, or post-millennialism. From there, the declension spreads to replacement theology and, in extreme cases, anti-Semitism.
Why would God tell us to “watch”? The Scriptures from the beginning to the end enjoin the Lord’s people to watchfulness. Jesus admonishes His followers: “If the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up” (Mat:24:43). Mark 13 parallels Matthew 24 and concludes with Jesus saying, “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch” (Mk 13:35-37). There is a purifying effect that is understood in the doctrine of the pre-trib Rapture. Christ could return at any time! “When he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure" (1 Jn:3:2-3). It’s safe to conclude that the Lord desires us to be watching, regardless of what our personal theology may be.
Finally, we need to stand in the light that God has given us in the Bible. That is why the Lord urges a frequent and diligent reading of and meditating upon Scripture. Part of the controversy generated by eschatology is due to the fact that certain things haven’t happened yet. Ultimately, what will happen will be the will of the Lord, regardless of our view or understanding. Further, the book of Revelation does contain both figurative and literal things. No wonder the Lord told us to “rightly divide” (or put each piece in its proper place) “the word of truth” (2 Tim:2:15).