>>Many Christians have experienced persecution who were taught about a pre-trib rapture, if they didn't escape persecution, why should we?<<
This reasoning, used in refuting the doctrine of a pre-tribulational rapture, is one of the most common arguments used today, but is it at all biblical?
No. It is not.
Those using this argument are failing to rightly divide the Word of God. Those using this argument do not recognize, or refuse to acknowledge, that the Bible does differentiate between persecution and wrath.
Wrath and persecution are two entirely different things.
Jesus told his followers to expect persecution. He also told them to pray that they would escape "ALL these things" that would come upon ALL who dwell on the face of the WHOLE earth. Was Jesus contradicting himself when he said these things? Of course not. John the Baptist said basically the same thing, only in reverse, when he asked the hypocritical leaders of his day who told them to "flee from (escape from) the WRATH to come?"
Both Jesus and John were referring to the same time period. The "wrath to come" that John referred to and "all these things" that Jesus referred to, are direct references to the dreadful time period called The Great Tribulation. Jeremiah called it, the Time of Jacob's Trouble.
John was subsequently beheaded. He became a martyr. But his martyrdom was not due to the "wrath" that was "to come." That had not, and has not, come yet. Those who belong to Christ have a promise that we will be kept from that horrible time. And Jesus made certain to instruct us to pray to that effect (that we would be found worthy to escape it).
John experienced persecution and martyrdom because he took an unpopular stand for the Word of God. John's arrest and martyrdom were due to persecution--not wrath. The wrath he predicted had not come yet. Jesus spoke of the things that were "coming" after John had already been martyred, and he told his followers to pray they would be counted worthy to ESCAPE all the things that were COMING.
What is coming? WRATH is coming. But to date, since the days Christ walked the earth, that wrath has not come yet. How do we know that? Because the scriptures reveal that when it does come, 75-80% of the world population will be annihilated within the short time span of only 7 years. In all the history of the world, that has never happened yet.
The Bible tells us that the entire world is currently experiencing a time of favor, and has been ever since the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was given. The Time of Favor is that special time the prophet Joel foretold when men would be able to simply call upon the name of the Lord to be saved. This was an absolutely unheard of concept and an impossibility under the Law of Moses.
The time of favor [when men can simply call on the name of the Lord to be saved] will end before the Time of Jacob's Trouble--which is the Great Tribulation [when men must endure to the end to be saved]. And Jesus was specific about the fact that during the horrific time of the Great Tribulation, only those who endure to the end will be saved. Presently, during the accepted time (the time of favor) we CALL on the name of the Lord to be saved.
Calling on the name of the Lord to be saved, and enduring to the end to be saved, are not the same things.
Those who choose to follow Christ in the Great Tribulation will certainly be viciously persecuted, just as many are being persecuted today. However, the massive world death rate (75-80% of the world population before it is over) during the Time of Jacob's trouble will be attributed, not just to persecution, but to the WRATH of the Lamb as well. The Bible tells those of us who belong to Christ, that we are not appointed to wrath. But Jesus said the wrath, when it came, would come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth.
Therefore, if Christ does not come for his Bride before the wrath of God is unleashed during the Great Tribulation, the Bride of Christ will be forced to endure that wrath. The scriptures are clear that the Bride of Christ is not appointed to wrath, will be kept from that awful hour, and people are instructed to pray they will be found worthy to escape it!
Jesus differentiated between persecution and wrath, therefore, so should we.
The fact that followers of Christ have always been persecuted and killed, does not negate the fact that a time of testing and wrath is coming that Jesus said his followers would not be here to endure. He specifically commanded men and women to pray that they would be found worthy to escape...
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, Luke 21:35-36, Matthew 3:7, Revelation 3:10, Matthew 24:21-22, 2 Corinthians 6:2, Matthew 24:13, Acts 2:21, 1 Thessalonians 5:9