Pop pretribbers are often heard invoking the virtuous platitude, “I’m not looking for the Antichrist, I’m looking for Jesus Christ.”
It is intended to convey that pretribs are “truly” watchful for Jesus’s return because they think they will not have to first encounter the Antichrist before the rapture.
This cutesy slogan sounds pious and virtuous, but it is not biblical reality.
I want to comment on this pretrib trope.
i. Ironically, it is pop-pretribbers who are obsessed with talking about the Antichrist. They are fixated on the things of the Antichrist and related prophetic events that they think they will not have to experience. They are tantalized by these things.
Sadly, those who exclaim the loudest, “I am looking for Jesus Christ!” will end up facing the Antichrist unprepared.
ii. This slogan is a false dichotomy.
Jesus taught explicitly that one of the ways you become prepared for Jesus’s return is to be aware that the Antichrist and his scheming and persecution will come before Jesus returns: “So when you see the abomination of desolation–spoken about by Daniel the prophet—standing in the holy place. . . ” (Matt 24:15).
Paul: “Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not arrive until the rebellion comes and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, and as a result he takes his seat in God’s temple, displaying himself as God” (2 Thess 2:3–4).
John records numerous instances in the Book of Revelation from Jesus warning the saints to become Overcomers of the beast’s system (e.g. Rev 14:9–12).
Thus the slogan pits one teaching of Jesus against another of his teachings, and pits his teaching against other teachings in the Bible such as Paul and John.
You become watchful of Jesus Christ by being watchful of the spiritual battle around us and how that will manifest itself out during the Antichrist’s great tribulation.
iii. Honestly, one of the main reasons why many pretribulationists reject prewrath is an emotional one: they do not want to think that they may have to face the Antichrist.
“But Alan, you cannot read their hearts!” I do not have to. I have had ex-pretribbers tell me over the years that this was the very reason why they believed pretrib and rejected prewrath.
Many pretribs want to be told that they will not have to face the Antichrist. It is fear based.
The slogan above is intended to deflect away from the biblical reality. It is not my will, but God’s will. I do not like the thought that I, or my wife, or son, may have to die for the Christian faith under the regime of the Antichrist. But it is God’s will that ultimately matters. He knows better than me, therefore I need to trust his will because it is all-wise, all-good, all-sovereign.
It may be God’s will that you confront the Antichrist or his minions. Would you not count it an honor to stand up in the day of your death and give glory to the true God of this universe being a witness in front of the Antichrist as he is blaspheming your God? Are you going to run away like a coward? Or are you going to stand up boldly to the Wicked One and confess Jesus Christ as Lord of the universe?
God may very well call you to be a Daniel and stand up to Nebuchadnezzar’s golden idol. Or to be a David and stand up to Goliath when he is mocking and blaspheming your God. Mr. pretribber, don’t dare say that God would never put you in those circumstances.
The vast majority of churches in America, including many ear-itching pretrib churches, are pleasing the will of their people by telling them what they want to hear, which is that they will never have to face the Antichrist.
Pretrib teachers reassure their flock with a host of rhetoric in order to avoid upsetting them with the prospects that they may have to face martyrdom from Antichrist.
It’s as if they think the Antichrist would be able to kill you more than you can be killed! They forget that Jesus said not to fear the one who can kill the body but fear the one who can kill both soul and body. Antichrist cannot kill your soul. I need to say this because sometimes I get the impression from pretrib teaching that the Antichrist has this power.
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Instead, fear the one who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matt 10:28).
Part of my watchfulness for Jesus’s return is to heed to my Lord’s instruction of the coming Antichrist.