(Charles P. Schmitt/D. Min., D. TH.) The apostle Paul tells the Thessalonians of the great reunion of all believers when together they meet Christ as He descends from heaven: “The dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which 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” (1 Thess. 4:16-17). This is our blessed hope—the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and the rapture of the church to meet Him!

Many evangelicals, for reasons that we will examine, believe that seven years before the glorious return of our Lord Jesus Christ, faithful Christians will be raptured, caught up to heaven. This understanding is known as the “pretribulation rapture.” A major concern about the pre-tribulation rapture is that, historically, it found its way into the evangelical mainstream only in the mid-1800s. Millions of godly believers for almost 1,800 years did not believe in a pretribulation rapture. Among these were the reformers of the 1500s and the revivalists of the 1600s-1700s. George Mueller, who lived in the mid-1800s, is reported to have stated, “If you can show me a trumpet after the last (1 Cor. 15:52) and a resurrection before the first (Rev. 20:4-5), then I can believe this new doctrine.” FULL REPORT