I’ve been a Christian for many years and over time I have never seen a more heated argument in the church then “When is Jesus coming?” This is a very important question because it affects how we live our lives today and what we are preparing for in the future. People have basically made three groups of thought in response to this question: Jesus comes before the tribulation (pre-tribulation), He comes in the middle of or during the tribulation (mid-tribulation) or He comes after the tribulation (post-tribulation).
As I said, it’s a very heated argument. Entire denominations have split due to theological differences regarding the Second Coming. More recently, a newer view has appeared called “pan-tribulation” which holds this view:
Whatever pans out, I’ll be ready.
The people who hold this view usually don’t study the end times. They don’t do this to be ignorant. They just don’t like to argue. They don’t see the timing of the Second Coming to be a theological issue worthy of a fight, unlike matters of deity, salvation or gifts of the Spirit. The problem is that few people who hold the pan-tribulation view understand what all is coming down the pipe.
When you say “whatever happens, I’ll be ready”, you are stating you are ready for the best case scenario and the worst case scenario.
Most people know what the best case scenario is regarding the Second Coming — Jesus comes before the world sinks into unadulteraded evil and takes all the Christians to heaven while He judges the rest of the world. This is the viewpoint (pre-tribulation) of most evangelical American churches and fiction books such as the Left Behind series. This is usually accompanied by the belief that Jesus can come at any moment, so be ready and make sure that you’re doing something He would approve of if He returned. This view has a very high emphasis on evangelism since “Jesus could come at any moment” we have to work while “it is yet day.” This view also assures believers that they will not go through any of the trouble, persecution or judgments that come at the end of the age during the tribulation.
Sadly, most people do not know the worst case scenario. I have read end time passages from Revelation, Isaiah, the Gospels, etc many times and there are several realizations that I have had.
- There is no word-for-word Biblical promise that secures protection of the saints against the seal and trumpet judgments.
This is especially important since these judgments are quite painful, like the fifth trumpet when giant flying scorpions are released to torment the earth. The Bible mentions that the bowl judgments (the final seven judgments) are reserved for those who took the mark of the beast, but there is no mention of partiality about the other judgments. It also seems that the first fourteen judgments happen prior to the mark of the beast.
- According to Jesus, it’s those that endure to the end that will be saved. (see Matthew 24:13)
In context, Jesus makes it very clear that it’s those who endure all the persecution and suffering that will be saved. If you give up, you lose and you lose eternally. He wants lovers who will love Him regardless, come what may.
- Persecution will be everywhere and it will be way worse than it is now.
Most Christians across the world outside of America and Europe experience persecution on an almost daily basis. But there is coming a day where all nations and cities will be hunting down believers. Acts of violence, murder and torture will be used on those who claim to love Jesus.
- A massive falling away is coming of those who claim to love Jesus.
The Bible says in multiple places that the love of many in the church will grow cold and many will walk away from Christ, most likely due to all the trouble and calamity happening all around them. It will be very lonely for believers. Friends will either betray them or die for Christ.
Now, there is hope and good things happening through the worst case scenario, but I’ll talk about that some other time. I hold a post-tribulation view which means I’ve had to reconcile in my mind that there is a possibility (key word) that I will be stung by flying scorpions (among other things), be persecuted to death and have my loved ones betray me — all while knowing that if I get offended with God and quit loving Him, I will go to hell. That is the worst case scenario.
It takes no preparation to be ready for the best case scenario, but it takes all the time we have to prepare for the worst.
Jesus is coming soon. If you really want to be ready for anything, then taking the post-tribulation view is the only viable thing to do. That’s what I have done. I am preparing my heart for the absolute worst. If I am wrong and Jesus comes back early and I don’t have to go through any of the big trouble, then I will be grateful and will have nothing to be worried about. Also, since I have prepared for the worst, my life will be ready and pure for Him and my rewards will be greater in the millennial kingdom because I prepared my heart and life to be steady in all aspects of my love for Him. If I am right though, and I do go through the big trouble that’s coming, then I will be prepared and by God’s grace, I will make it to the end faithfully loving God.
It’s time that pan-tribulation believers push preparing hearts for the end times so that Christians are not caught unprepared for what’s coming. It’s time for us all to realize that’s it’s not just a matter of opinion. Eternity is on the line.
A big test is coming. A test that will determine where you are for eternity…and someone tells you “Don’t worry, you won’t have to take it.” So you don’t study. What happens when you find out come test day that they were wrong and you have to take the test? There is no retake for this test. It’s either pass or fail. For eternity.
What if the post-tribulation view is wrong? Then you become more like Jesus and ready for any personal tribulation that comes your way. What if the pre-tribulation view is wrong? There’s a high chance you’ll be offended with God when the great tribulation comes. That’s not a chance any of us should take. It’s definitely not wisdom. My parents always taught me to study and prepare just in case I find myself in front of a test I didn’t know about. It was good counsel, not just for school, but for my spiritual life.
I encourage you to at least start reading end time books like Revelation, 1 & 2 Peter, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Daniel, 2 Timothy, Isaiah and Matthew. Ask the Lord to reveal truth to you regarding the end times and about what’s coming. Ask Him to prepare your heart, even if it’s just for you personal tribulations that are coming into your life soon.
Remember, Jesus is coming soon. People get ready.