Question: Would you explain the differences between amillennialism, postmillennialism and premillennialism?
Answer: Those terms can be confusing, but we can understand them if we remember that they pertain to the millennium. The word "millennium" refers to that one thousand year period mentioned in Revelation 20, that period of time when Satan is bound. It's that period of time during which the Lord Jesus Christ rules and reigns on earth. Those who hold to amillennialism don't believe in a literal millennium. That's why they are called "amillennialists."
The other two views, premillennialism and postmillennialism, both hold to an earthly millennium, but they differ on their understanding of the relationship of the return of Christ to the millennium. Those who are premillennial believe that Christ comes back before the millennium. His return is PRE-millennial. Those who are postmillennial believe that Christ comes back after the millennium.
Premillennialism - the view that Christ returns to earth before the millennium, is the view that is most natural to the book of Revelation. In Revelation 19 we find a presentation of the return of Christ: "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon Him was called Faithful and True. And the armies which were in heaven followed Him upon white horses." (vss. 11 and 14). If the postmillennialists were correct, chapter 20, the chapter that speaks of the millennium, should come before chapter 19 - but it doesn't. The millennium is established subsequent to the return of Christ.
There are also several other reasons why we accept premillennialism as the correct view. Premillennialism, in contrast with all of the other views, believes that God is not yet done with Israel. It is also the view that accepts the words of the prophetic Scripture in their most natural and literal sense. Premillennialism was the view of the early church.
Question: But what about the rapture? There are also different views regarding the scheduling of the rapture. What are they, and which view do you believe to be the correct view?
Answer: The different views give different answers to the question, "When does the rapture occur in relation to the tribulation?" Those who hold to a pretribulational rapture believe that the rapture occurs BEFORE the tribulation. Christ comes in the air to rapture the Church away from the earth before the tribulation. Pretribulationists believe that the Church will be removed from the earth and that Christians will not have to face the judgments of the tribulation.
Posttribulationism holds that the Church goes through the entire tribulation period and is on earth during that period of time when antichrist has been revealed. Midtribulationism believes that the Church is on earth during part of the tribulation period and is raptured in the middle of the tribulation. It seems to me that only pretribulationism is consistent with two important truths of Scripture, namely the promise of God to deliver His people from Divine wrath, and the any-moment coming of Jesus Christ. If you have the Church going through any part of the tribulation you've got the Church experiencing the wrath of God. And if you have the Church raptured during the tribulation or after it, then the Church is not looking for the return of Christ as the next item on the prophetic calendar.
These are important considerations that support pretribulationism over the other two views regarding the scheduling of the rapture in relation to the tribulation. Titus 2, verse 13 says: "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ." We are not to be looking for the tribulation, nor are we to be looking for the antichrist. We are to be looking for the Lord.
The imminent return of Christ was an important belief in the New Testament Church. Paul wrote that believers are to partake of the Lord's Supper "till He come" (1 Cor. 11:26).
The imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ to rapture the Church is a great incentive to faithfulness. The apostle Paul exhorted Timothy, "that thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, UNTIL THE APPEARING OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST" (1 Tim. 6:14).