wrath-of-God

Nothing has caused more debate, more confusion, more doctrines as it relates to the timing of the removal of the church in the last days than 1 Thessalonians 5:9 “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,”  Yet is this true? Is the church appointed to wrath? Or has certain men, clinging onto tradition purposely twisted the word to promote their own slanted view of scripture? Or more importantly, their view of the removal of the church which is called “The Rapture”?

It must be understood that scripture interprets scripture, not based on opinion, not based on traditional views of others who “believe” they had the truth above others, scripture is the final authority, and that scripture must not ever be contaminated by opinions of men, but by the word itself. So with that in mind, I would like to respond to those who persistently suggest that 1 Thessalonians 5:9 is a definitive argument for a pre-tribulation rapture.

Now, some would ask is this truly important? Do we really need to examine teachings which use scripture to base a particular claim on? The answer is YES! 1,000 times yes! The word tells us to ‘test all things’ as it pertains to doctrine, so when something presents itself as truth, we must look past the person presenting such truth and see what exactly does the word say. Does their truth line up with scripture? Or does it add to scripture?

As in the case of God’s wrath and that the church is not appointed to wrath, the argument used for suggesting the church could never go through great tribulation is based on Paul’s suggestion that the believer is never the focal point of his wrath in the final last days of judgment, where God pours out his anger upon the world because the world rejected the cross. The problem is, what is being applied to this particular doctrine has nothing to do with the coming tribulation nor God’s wrath. The most important thing when we read scripture is context-context-context.

Let’s look at Paul’s verse which has many being led to believe something which sounds nice, but isn’t. The Greek word for “Wrath” is (orge‘) or-gay’ which renders itself as anger-indignation. It has the meaning of 1. Human emotion and 2. The wrath of God as it pertains to those who fail to come to Christ: of the divine reaction towards evil. In order to understand Paul’s reference to “wrath” we need to allow scripture to interpret scripture, and we find this reference in John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” Here we have Jesus referring to the actual meaning of Paul’s reference to the word “wrath”, it has nothing to do with a period of time in the Great Tribulation as some proclaim, but instead, Jesus himself is speaking about the state of those who persistently reject God’s grace and favor, they are continually under the judgment (wrath) of God until they see the only answer to their sins – Christ thru the cross. The word “Wrath” mentioned in John 3:36 is the same Greek word (orge’) as it is in 1 Thessalonians 5:9. So if Jesus himself is not referring to the time period of coming tribulation, then why on earth are men using this wording to twist the scripture to fit it into their own doctrine of end time events? It’s because of pride – religious pride.

Since the dawn of time, those who lived for God under the Old Covenant saw persecution, and clearly those who lived in the time period of the early church as seen in the book of Acts saw persecution. The truth is, believers have always and will always come under intense persecution for that they believe. Tribulation (contrary to what some might teach) is for believers – even the Great Tribulation. When we understand what tribulation actually means (thlipsis) or pressure, then comparing that word to (orge’) wrath, then we realize two things, 1. Paul, nor Jesus is referring to God’s wrath being poured out upon the world or sinners in this context of the word or meaning (although that will indeed come after the Great Tribulation of the saints), and 2. Tribulation is actually rendered as pressure against the church – the saints of God. So we can say that the end time event known as the Great Tribulation is a time of pressure against the church, which would be scripturally correct.

So what do we come away with when we go back to 1 Thessalonians 5:9? We read something very different altogether as it now becomes more clear as to what Paul is speaking about, he’s referring to the judgment of God being upon sinners who do not come to repentance individually, not in a collective reference to some point in time where God’s wrath will be poured out as many who hold to a pre-wrath position would claim. In other words, Paul is not saying we who are in Christ are not appointed to God’s “wrath” because the anger of God is seen only to those who reject the atoning work of Christ and the cross. When we come to Christ, we are a new creation, a new being transformed by the Holy Spirit because of the finished work of the cross – that is what Paul is referring to. In other words, one cannot hold to the position that says people will be saved but still experience the “wrath” of God. It simply does not work. So what are we talking about then if we’re not speaking about God’s great wrath? We are speaking about the wrath of Satan and his kingdom being set against the church, the saints of God.

Is there a time where God will judge the world? Absolutely, however, we are not speaking about the events which will come upon the world at the end of all things, we are examining the usage of a scripture which says Christians are not appointed unto wrath (God’s final fury against the world, Satan and his armies and kingdoms) those are two distinct and separate events and can not be combined, nor can 1 Thessalonians 5:9 even be remotely used as a means to prove a pre-tribulation belief. Bottomline, it’s a misapplication of scripture.

So what about facing these things in the future? We again go to the word found in Revelation 7:2-3 “Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” Notice that? God SEALS his servants BEFORE the angels of God pours out their viles of justice upon the world. Who are God’s servants? Matthew 24:22, 24,31 clearly tells us who they are – the elect. Who is the “elect”? The church. “And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matthew 24:31) This is the rapture (removal) of the church, all those who have confessed and believed upon Christ who endured unto the end against the persecution (pressure) of the antichrist and Satan. Then shall the final judgment of God is poured out and the end of our world will come. Not an end of the world as it pertains to destruction, but the end of the age.

Conclusion:

When we finally examine the words of Paul, as well as Jesus, we clearly understand (without commentaries slanted toward a popular belief) we finally understand what “Not appointed unto wrath” is actually referring to – the judgment of God upon those who walk in disobedience. God has always protected his people during times where he judged the world. He protected Noah, he protected Lot, he protected the people of Israel in Goshen which was within Egypt. God has always been able to protect his people when he himself begins to move against the world. That is the love and grace and mercy he extends to those who call upon him even in times of great trials. This is the result of God’s measure of grace to those who have placed their complete faith in what Christ did for them on the cross. We need not be afraid, for as long as we hold to the nail scarred hands, we shall endure to the end and the same shall be saved.

Christopher

christopher152@gmail.com

Comments
  1. TK says:

    Amen! We are not appointed to the Wrath of God that is poured out on sinners… But, that doesn’t stop those who are not saved from being angry with us, and our Savior…

    http://lastdayrapture.blogspot.com/2011/09/not-appointed-to-gods-wrath.html

  2. […] APPOINTED TO WRATH? OR ARE TRADITIONS OF MEN CONFUSING THE FLOCK?: THE RAPTURE MESS. […]

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