"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Friday, April 2, 2010

RAPTURE: The WHO and WHEN Of It All - PART 5

~~ By James Fire

In this fifth (and also a final sixth) article in this series, I will examine the book of Revelation and see if I can spot the church in any duration of time contained within Daniel's 70th week, and further take a look at passages in the New Testament that would seem to encourage the church to expect Christ's return (for His bride) at ANY MOMENT! And why, if the rapture is biblical, hasn't the church taught it for the majority of its existence?

I have provided in this article, a couple of links that I have found useful in understanding various aspects of the rapture of the church, one of these from Dave Hunt and Tom McMahon, the other from Chuck Missler.

There are some that make the allegation that the rapture of the church is a dangerously false doctrine that was concocted by Margaret MacDonald and John Darby in the late 1800's; that there were no teachings on this subject from any church fathers or teachers of the church in earlier centuries.
While this isn't relevant in itself, due primarily because the Bible is the basis of our authority for spiritual truth, and not the teachings of any church fathers, elders, teachers from any century, and its what the scriptures themselves have to say about any teachings, be they practical, devotional, correctional, with exhortation, or prophetic content, that is ultimately important and valid.

Even so, there is substantiation to believe that the rapture, as well as the pre-tribulational view was held by early church fathers, and devoted Christians. To elaborate on this, I present to you, the reader, this article by Chuck Missler:
Ephraim the Syrian Speaks of the Rapture
(read footnote #2 in this article regarding Ephraim of Nisibis (306-373 a.d.) )

These other articles found at www.khouse.org may also prove useful: Studies Helps on the Rapture
Its sometimes pointed out by a few mid- and post-tribulationists that the church had previously taught the rapture, but it was a teaching that faded over time, until later scholars deemed it unbiblical.

This 'fading' began after the third century and continued well into the Dark Ages; even through the time of the Reformation, and it wasn't until (so these who hold such mid- and post- views, say) Darby and MacDonald, that this 'dream' was taught as Truth.

We must bear in mind church history; over a period of time the Roman church began dominating the other cities that were centers of Christian teaching, such as Antioch, Ephesus, and others; note that I delete Alexandrius as a center for Christian teaching, even though its acknowledged by many Bible scholars. The reason I do this is plainly because these so-called Christians in Alexandrius were predominantly Gnostics, or under Gnostic influences and they didn't believe in the fundamentals of the Christian faith, but favored Greek philosophy such as Gnosticism, Docetism, and others instead (But that's another article! We covered much of Gnostic beliefs in other articles here on TTUF. To view these simply type "Gnostics" in the search engine).

Central to the Roman church (and particularly the formative stage of this center of dogmatism that later became the Roman Catholic church), at the behest of Constantine whose primary interest was in uniting his kingdom, was the notion that "Christ reigns in our hearts, and that the kingdom of God is within" (both true) and that "any reign of Christ on the Earth, usurping the evil leaders of the world of their position and power" was not literal, but allegorical (this however is not true).

Origen, one of the early church fathers (and a Gnostic himself by the way!), was the one who first suggested this idea of allegorizing the scriptures. Since at that time it was a law that everyone in the Empire was to be a Christian, many that sat in the pews were unconverted pagan leaders!

Certainly these would be offended by such teachings that Christ would one day come, and replace their rulership with His own, and reign in righteousness and truth, releasing the oppressed and trodding down the oppressors!
Thus was amillennialism born, that is, the belief that no actual millennial reign of Christ would be manifested in the last days, nor would it be preceded by a time of tribulation, which itself would not be commenced after a 'rapture' of believers in Christ. This became standard dogma later in the Roman Catholic church.

Another reason a 'rapture' doesn't fit into Roman Catholic theology is the idea of purgatory; it's their belief that the sufferings of Christ was not entirely sufficient for the believer, but that they must suffer for a time in purgatory before entering heaven.
If that were the case, then their entrance into heaven would be a singular, rather than a collective event; that is, each saint would arrive one at a time once their suffering was complete, rather than the church in its entirety being transported into heaven at the coming of the LORD.

Unfortunately this amillennial view held Europe and all lands dominated by the Roman Catholic church in its grip for centuries, and when the Reformation was at its apex, the focus then was "sola fide" that is, salvation by grace alone in faith alone, apart from works; as well as "sola scriptura" which means that the singular and exclusive authority for the church was the holy scriptures and not dogma, tradition, edicts from any church authority, be they pope, bishop, priest, etc.

What the Reformers didn't address, much to the tragedy of the church, was eschatology, that is the prophetic study of the last days. They more or less 'borrowed' the Roman Catholic views of amillennialism without revision, amendment, or valid correction of ANY KIND (They even propagated the view that the church was 'the new Israel' and this of course led to much persecution of the Jews at the hands of both Catholics and Protestants)!

Thus it's understandable why those who deny a pre-tribulational view would assume that any idea of a rapture, which occurs BEFORE Daniel's 70th week, was a concoction of 19th century aberrant theology.

Again, the ultimate authority of scripture is, and must be, the standard by which all doctrine is based; don't adhere to the words of your favorite Bible teacher, or your local pastor, or what you personally believe doctrinally. 
Every saint born of God is responsible to adhere to what the scriptures say, and understand the Truth by the Divine revelation which inspired the scriptures; and as long as pastors, teachers, etc. remain faithful to the Word, we owe them their due respect as leaders of the church.

Most of us know this verse any way, but I feel its important enough to post it here now:

ACTS 17:11
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Here I would like to insert a link to several video clips by Dave Hunt and Tom McMahon, and their views of the rapture. In light of what I just stated previously, we must examine the statements these brothers make in the light of scripture to determine if what they are saying is true.

While I have looked into these videos, and am quite familiar with Dave Hunt's position on the Bible, I confess that I don't agree entirely on all the views of The Berean Call, but for the most part, I believe what they teach is fundamentally correct, and I submit this particular one for your perusal:

Why hasn't the Rapture Happened Yet?

There is over an hour and a half worth of clips to view and please feel free to review them at your leisure.

UPDATE (as of 6-23-09): Here is a link that provides an excellent treatment of the Rapture, from Southwest Radio Ministry (see the link to this site on TTUF):

Premillennialism vs. Other Views

THE DOCTRINE OF IMMINENCE is something revealed in scripture through various inspired writers who spoke of the LORD's return for His church, the body of Christ at ANY MOMENT.

Here are some verses that speak on this issue, take particular note of those sections that are underscored:

MATTHEW 24:36-44
But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

Remember that the coming of the LORD will be on a day when we think not; as the days of Noah were. The people of that time didn't expect the calamity to strike, which was foretold them, but when it occurred, they were surprised. So shall the coming of the Son of man:
IF there were any precedent event that must take place before the rapture, then the time of the rapture wouldn't surprise us, and it would occur at a time when we "think so" not "think not".

The same with the following reference below in Mark: observe the statement, "you know not when the time is". For this same reason this couldn't be a reference to the Second Coming, for that won't occur until all the signs of the Revelation are complete, and the Beast reigns supreme on Earth, with his one world government; the myriad judgments declared by broken seals, blaring trumpets, and dreadful bowls will have already been accomplished prior to the Second Coming. How could at that point, any one think: 'The LORD won't be coming back any time soon. I think it's not for a long time yet'??

MARK 13:32-37
But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch.
Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch. (see also: LUKE 12:34-40)

"watch" here means "to keep awake, vigilant, as opposed to being lax and indifferent."

For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself (ROM 8:23)

Of course this reference is parallel with the verses found in 1 THESS 4, and 1 COR 15, as these both speak of our translation from this world, into heaven; the latter reference also speaks of the transformation of our corruptible flesh putting on immortality.

Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand.

For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.

For those who keep watch, and are ever vigilant in our expectation of our LORD, we will certainly know the times and the seasons (and those of us who are watching, can we not say, we are living in that very time and season?), thus we won't be "overtake[n]" (katalambano- to suddenly come upon and to seize, as in the Day of the LORD), but when that actual day occurs, we will not experience stunned delight?

1 TIMOTHY 6:13-15
I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;

There are six references to this word "appearing" in the N.T., and of these, five have the same Greek word, and among these, is this verse above. The other references are as follows:

2 TIM 1:10; 2 TIM 4:1,8; TITUS 2:13; the sixth reference uses a different Greek word, and this is found in 1 PET 1:7.

In the first five references the Greek word used is epiphaneia, and it means "a manifestation, a shining forth", and is related to all the various appearances of Christ, at His first Advent, and His Second, and also when He appears to His church at the rapture as mentioned here in 1 TIM 6:14.

In the 1 PET 1:7 reference the Greek word apokalupsis is used, and this is a "disclosure, revelation, manifestation" and its more comprehensive than epiphaneia and depicts the progressive and immediate unveiling of the otherwise unknown and unknowable God to His church.

TITUS 2:11-13
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

HEBREWS 9:27-28
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

HEBREWS 10:36-38
For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

JAMES 5:7-8
Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.

He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

There are those skeptics and cynics, humanists and atheists alike, that like to criticize and mock Jesus Christ and His Word for this scripture, for they say, He said He was coming 'quickly' and yet He's been away for 2,000 years! Did He lose track of time? Did He get a flat?

The Greek word used here is tachu, which means, "shortly, without delay, soon, or by surprise, suddenly, readily, quickly, swift". It refers more to the manner of one's coming rather than a time duration (He will be here as quick as a flash - of lightning; MATT 24:27). We know that the LORD is longsuffering and not willing that any should perish (2 PET 3:9), and so He waits for those last of the Gentiles, who in His wisdom, are all accounted for, and awaits the time when they will receive salvation, and then, He will come "suddenly" without warning.

Speaking of suddenly, we have come to the end of this fifth article; there will be one more installment, and then I will write an update, an addendum with some final thoughts and materials.


The RAPTURE: The WHO and WHEN of it ALL Part 6

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