By Peter Garcia
Confusion and denial over the role and Deity of the Holy Spirit has been a pervasive heresy in Christendom since Modalism was first introduced in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, a new confusion has been recently reintroduced. Although this view is not over the Deity of God the Holy Spirit, but over the varying roles in which He has participated in since Genesis 1:2, and what He will do on into the future.
Marvin Rosenthal introduced a book entitled The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church which offered up an alternative view to the Pre, Mid, and Post Tribulation Rapture views that had been debated for millennia. Subsequently, Mr. Rosenthal’s work opened a flood gate of similar and divergent views as he was followed by Robert Van Kampen and many, many others who have carried this particular eschatological torch to our current day.
The Pre-Wrath view supports the idea that the remnant faithful are delivered in a Rapture event at the Seventh Seal Judgment. For Pre-Wrath, the Seal Judgments are ongoing once opened and allows for the Church to proceed three-quarters of the way into the seventh year, 70th Week of Daniel. Three-quarters of the way in takes them past the midpoint, but delivering them just prior to the Day of the Lord and the subsequent Wrath of God.
The Pre-Wrath view has brought certain issues to light and one in particular that is a ‘make or break’ passage for whether their view (or ours) is legitimately biblical or not. There simply isn’t any other way around it. That passage, is over the identity of this mysterious “Restrainer” and what that entails as the Apostle Paul mentions; (NKJV, emphasis mine)
7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.
8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.
9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, (1) with all power, signs, and lying wonders,
10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
11 (2) and for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie,
12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thess. 2:8-11)
The problem is that this verse (vs. 7) forces the narrative of the following verses (vs. 8-11), to mean only one thing…essentially, that X can’t happen until Y does…which means, the Antichrist (man of lawlessness) CANNOT be revealed, UNTIL the one who restrains the Antichrist, is taken out of the way. That is simply the normal reading of the text and the way it was intended to be understood.
So the dilemma that both the Pre-Tribulation and Pre-Wrath Rapture views face then is that if the Holy Spirit is the Restrainer, then Pre-Wrath (and Post Trib) cannot be true, because we see in the First Seal Judgment (Rev. 6:1-2) unleashing the Antichrist upon the earth…and that means the Holy Spirit must be removed/moved out of the way before this man can be revealed. And since Christians are ‘sealed by the Holy Spirit’ as a guarantee until the day of redemption, the Holy Spirit’s removal would also remove those individuals He indwells and seals.
If the Holy Spirit is not the Restrainer, then the Pre-Trib view cannot be true because the Holy Spirit in His current role would remain on the earth, along with all those He seals and indwells as mentioned in the previous scripture references.