Perhaps you have already heard the term Pan-theology? It will all pan out. I think this is a healthy mindset when we approach end times study. When people ask me what is my stance on when the Lord will return? I tell them we pray for pre, and prepare for post, that way all ends are covered!
From my own reading of scripture and various commentaries, I have come to the conclusion, like so many others, that there will be a final consummation in human [Biblical] history, where there will be a final seven year period, that is described as the tribulation. It would appear that the Bible divides this time period in half, also dealing with two three and a half year periods, the last one being the worst time of all.
This will be a time when God begins to pour out His wrath against mans unrighteousness and ungodliness. It will happen in degrees and increase in intensity.
The three most popular positions in the church are Pre- Tribulation, Mid- Tribulation, and Post-Tribulation, otherwise referred to as Pre-Trib, Mid-Trib, and Post-Trib. The Pre/ position believes that the Lord will secretly return as a Thief in the night, like a Jewish Bridegroom who comes for His Church, His Bride, to take them home to His Fathers house, before the seven year tribulation begins. This will be a secret coming, unlike the second coming where every eye shall see Him.
The second position believes that a rapture of the church will take place, just before the time when God pours out His wrath on the world with a greater intensity, during the final three and a half years of the tribulation. The defense for this position, is that God hasn’t appointed us to wrath but to obtain salvation.
The third position, post-trib, believes that Christ will return at the end of the seven years. These believers point out some of the potential flaws in the other two thoughts, reminding us that Christians do suffer, and go through tribulation, and aren’t immune from it. They also point out, that God can protect us from His wrath, without taking us from the Earth, just as He did with the children of Israel in Egypt.
Regardless of which position you may hold? These issues and differences of opinion, should not be reasons for division and strife.