Gregory Koukl is a Christian apologist, radio talk show host, and founder of Stand To Reason, a solid apologetics ministry that I recommend.
At 43:45 into his radio program on 4-2-12, a caller called into this show who apparently switched from being pretrib to posttrib (and supposedly Koukl is posttrib as well). The caller mentioned the point that pretribs reject the posttrib position namely because pretribs believe that Matthew 24 is for Jews, not the church (the caller is correct). There was silence on the other end for a moment, then Koukl said he has never heard of such an argument from pretribulationists. At this point, I was like, “what? you’re kidding me.” Anyone remotely familiar with the debate between pretrib and posttribs (and prewrath) understand that this is one of the most significant issues in the debate. So I was thinking that perhaps Koukl has just never actually studied the debate. Then the next thing he said only confirmed for me that eschatology is certainly something he has not studied, at least on the rapture issue. He said:
There’s no rapture.
He followed this up with saying that Paul only teaches a resurrection not a rapture. At this point, I wondered how he could get around 1 Thessalonians 4:17, which explicitly mentions the rapture: “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be suddenly caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thess 4:17). I kept on listening for him to mention this verse, and listened, and listened. Koukl repeatedly mentioned “1 Thessalonians 4″ but never this verse. After a couple more comments he finished with his caller and cut to commercial.
I want to make a few comments.
This is not the first time I have heard seasoned Christians assert, “There is no mention of a rapture in the Bible.” Honestly, I do not know how Koukl can miss it. But others who have made this assertion do so for the purpose of getting as far away from pretribulationism as possible, as if: the rapture = pretribulationism. In doing so they unfortunately throw out the baby (the rapture) with the bathwater (pretribulationism).
There are two biblical reasons the Bible teaches a rapture, an explicit and implicit reason. First the explicit, as I cited above:
“Then we who are alive, who are left, will be suddenly caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thess 4:17).
What part of “will be suddenly caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” does Mr. Koukl not understand? You do not have to know Greek to see what the English is clearly saying: We are caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Certainly this is not missing from Koukl’s Bible.
The implicit reason for the rapture is shown in three passages that teach when Christ returns he will then bring us to heaven before the Father’s presence. It logically follows we must be raptured from the earth before we are brought before the presence of the Father:
“Since we have the same spirit of faith according to what has been written, “I believed, and so I spoke,” we also believe, and so we also speak, (14) knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence.” –2 Cor 4:13-14
“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? (3) And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” –John 14:2-3
“Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?” (14) I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (15) “For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them.” –Rev 7:13-15
One final point, it sounded as if Koukl was saying if you believe in the resurrection you cannot believe in the rapture, or vice versa. What he fails to see is that Paul teaches the resurrection will happen first, then both groups, the alive in Christ and the dead in Christ will be caught up (raptured) together at the same time (1 Thess 4:15–17).