Could it be that the great apostasy that will come upon the world shortly before the second coming of Jesus Christ will be fueled by the popular myth of a "pre-tribulational rapture". Christians who have believed the lie of a "secret evacuation" from the earth before the terrible days of the "Great Tribulation" will doubt their faith in the face of persecution and martyrdom. Christians who live in the West in ease and prosperity have been sold a fable that there lives will be lived out free of the horrors of the "Great tribulation". Television evangelists and Pastor-authors propagate the lie of a "secret rapture". John Hagee, Charles Stanley, David Jeremiah, John MacArthur, Perry Stone, and on and on it goes.
Jesus praying to His Father said, "I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one". (John 17:15)
The historic teaching of the Church has always been that the second coming of Christ is a singular event at the time of the end, the day of the Lord, when the dead will be raised, and the judgment will take place (John 5:24-29; Matthew 25:31-46). The Church Fathers never mention a "secret rapture" that would take place prior to the second coming of Jesus Christ. It wasn't until 1830 that such a doctrine was contrived and later made popular via the Scofield Study Bible. Today this innovative false doctrine is mainstream among tens of millions of Evangelicals and Charismatics. And even culture at-large is steeped in this lie through the "Left Behind" books and movies.
The passage of scripture used so often as the basis of the "pre-trib rapture" is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17. This passage is clearly teaching about the second coming of Jesus and the resurrection of believers. Both those who have died (fallen asleep), and those "who are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord" will be "caught up" to meet the Lord in the air!!! This catching up is clearly the resurrection of the believers at the second coming of Jesus Christ. "The word translated as "caught up" is a form of the Greek verb harpazo. The Vulgate, the official Latin version of the Bible used by the Roman Catholic Church, translates the Greek verb in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 as rapiemur (from the Latin verb rapio, to sieze and carry off), hence the English word rapture." (T.L. Frazier, p.146, A Second Look at the Second Coming, Conciliar Press). It is true that we will be "caught up" at the second coming of Jesus Christ. This is the resurrection promised by Jesus Himself. The trump of God will sound, and the archangel will shout (Daniel 12:1-3), and the saints will meet the Lord in the air.
St John Chrysostom in his commentary on 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 asks, "If He (Christ) is about to descend, on what account shall we be caught up? For the sake of honor. For when a king drives into a city, those who are in honor go out to meet him; but the condemned await the judge within. And upon the coming of an affectionate father, his children indeed, and those who are worthy to be his children, are taken out in a chariot, that they may see and kiss him: but those of the domestics who have offended remain within". (John Chrysostom, Homilies on Thessalonians, Holily 8). After we meet Christ in the air, we escort Him "into the city" (to the earth) as He continues His descent. Jesus then judges humanity, and the saints remain forever with Christ in His eternal kingdom. The shout of the archangel alerts the saints that the King is coming, and the saints go out to meet their King in honor, then escort their King to the earth in clouds of great glory.
This same idea is communicated by Jesus himself in his teaching the parable of the "Ten Virgins" in Matthew 25:1-12. The Church is the bride of Christ, a chaste virgin (2 Corinthians 11:2), who, upon hearing the cry, "Behold, The Bridegroom Cometh", goes out to meet Him, and all of those "that were ready" went in with Him to the Marriage (Revelation 19).
In Matthew 24:40-42 Jesus teaches that at His coming "one will be taken, and the other left". The leap is made by Pre-trib Prophecy teachers (with some twisting of scripture mixed with false presuppositions) that this passage depicts a "catching up" before the second coming. But just a few verses before this in Matthew 24:29-31 Jesus proclaims that His coming will be "AFTER THE TRIBULATION of those days".
Other passages that are "used" to teach a pre-trib rapture are John 14:1-3; Revelation 4:1; 1 Corinthians 15:50-53; 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8; Revelation 3:10. The only way a Christian pastor can come to the conclusion that these passages teach a pre-tribulational rapture is if they are first steeped in dispensationalism and thus come to the text of Scripture with tainted glasses that cause them to see things that are not there.