Monday, September 29, 2014

Right Ahead part 3

   We've been examining the validity of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Theory which has permeated end-time thinking in the evangelical church for over 40 years. We've already seen that Christ tells us twice in Scripture (Matthew 24 & Mark 13) He will gather His elect (the Church) immediately after the Tribulation. Why people wanna believe the exact opposite of what Jesus plainly, clearly said is a topic for another day!
   We're looking now at one of Paul's prophecies about the Rapture, that used most often by Pre-tribbers to make their case, 1 Thessalonians 4: 15-17. The Apostle tells us twice just who is eligible for this wondrous event: "we which are alive and remain"! "Alive" is easy----it means our hearts are still beating. But what about "remain"? Oh, remain on earth, you say.
   Can I tell you that not all Christians living now will "remain" Christians? Some will leave voluntarily; others will be thrust out! "Why dooya say that, Matt?" Because 2 Thessalonians 2:3 warns, "Let no man deceive you by any means, for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first..." There is a coming Apostasy before the Day of the Lord! "Now the Spirit speaks expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils..." (1 Timothy 4:1) And again, "Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved." (Matthew 24:113) Those who endure shall be saved, those who remain will be caught up!
   Moreover, the Lord Himself will purge His Church of counterfeit Christians among the true believers! John the Baptist predicted Jesus "...will thoroughly purge His floor, and will gather His wheat into His garner, but the chaff He will burn with fire unquenchable." (Luke 3: 17) "The Son of Man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity:" (Matthew 13: 41). We shall study the Parable of the Tares in greater detail next time. The point I'm making here is, the Rapture doesn't happen until after the Falling Away....He's  not going to catch up all "Christians", but those who remain through all the temptations to leave. Not everyone in the church is a Cristian, ya know...jus'sayin'. Meantime, study Paul's other Rapture prophecy in 1 Corinthians 15.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Right Ahead part 2

  We're examining the question of the timing of the Rapture, an event most American Christians place just before the Tribulation. We saw last time that Jesus tells us twice in Scripture that it's actually after (Matthew 24: 29-31 & Mark 13: 24-27). And don't you think Pre-Trib preachers know that? They can read just like you & I can. And they've persuaded many of you to ignore what you can read right there on the page for yourself and instead listen to their reasonings.
   So now let's jump right into the passage most pre-Trib believers go to as their proof text (because they think nothing in it is post-Trib): I Thessalonians 4: 15-15
"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the arch-angel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first;
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we be ever with the Lord.
Because it reads, "meet them in the air", people  believe Christ hasn't descended completely to the surface of earth, but is orbitting up in the atmosphere somewhere...kinda like a first-and -a-half coming before the actual Second Coming. And the story goes that in the ensuing chaos, the stage is set for the AntiChrist to rise to power- so that the Rapture is basically the catalyst that launches the Tribulation. Pre-Tribbers further hold that we who were thus caught up spend the next 7 years having a big blowout party in heaven while our families, friends, and neighbors who got left behind suffer the plagues of divine judgement. Hmmm.
   Really what I'd like you to focus on is this phrase, "and remain". Remain through what? Remain after what? Remain despite what? Well. Read II Thessalonians and meet me back here next time. Something else to ponder: the Parable of the Tares.
   And this concept of Christ coming back secretly before He appears publicly? Pretty sure He warned us not to believe it. I'll have more to say later.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Right Ahead: Should You Believe the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Theory?

 I remember back in High School, my younger brother & sister coming home with tales they'd heard from a friend that the Rapture of the Church was going to happen on September 24th that year. I was just a baby Christian then, as were they, but I knew Jesus took the tiime to tell His disciples what to do during the Tribulation, so it didn't really make sense that He would air-lift them out before it ever started. Yet that is exactly what they were told, and exactly what many Christians still believe!
   There was a book out back in the day called, "88 Reasons the Rapture Will Be in '88". Well, even though it didn't happen in '88, '98, or '08, millions of believers still hold to the basic premises that led to this conclusion.  You'd think they'd step back and ask why this guy was wrong? To take a fresh look at the Scriptures and examine the underlying assumptions behind this book? Does not the Bible itself command us to "prove all things"?
   Now I don't dispute that Christ will gather all believers, living or "sleeping", when He returns. The question is when. The Pre-Tribulation Rapture Theory holds that Christ will come to earth secretly before the Second Coming, and beam up (for lack of a better term) His Church prior to God's judgement on sinners, and prior to the advent of the AntiChrist as world ruler. But is this what your Bible actually says?
   As I mentioned earlier, Christ gives us specific instructions how to survive the Tribulation (when you see this, do that; when you hear this, do that) in His Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24 & Mark 13). But He also says this, "immediately after the tribulation"  there will be signs in the sky, Christ will appear, "And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other" (Matthew 24:29-31 & Mark 13: 24-27).
   There it is kids, in Jesus' own words, "after the Tribulation", right there in black & white (or red & white).
  That should settle it, but I see you need more proof! Not a problem. I have plenty. Guys, don't just believe anything everyone tells ya. Search the Scriptures whether those things are so: just read what's actually  there on the page, in the book! Our doctrine must be based on what the Bible says, not on how we'd like things to be. Come back next time, we'll look at some more stuff!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Days of Elijah?

   Many churches play the anthem, "These are the Days of Elijah". But where are the Elijahs? Who will stand up now against the false prophets of Baal that have crept into the Church? Why do so many just go with the flow and allow compromise? When will we take a stand and say, "NO! This is not of God, and we will not have this in our church!"
   Jude exhorts us to "...earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude vv 3-4). This is not the time to remain silent! Men & women of God, arise!
   Second Kings 18 tells the story of Governor Obadiah who had hid 100 of God's prophets by 50 in a cave to protect them from Ahab & Jezebel. And maybe a lot of God's people, like these prophets, have been hiding out in "caves", merely dropping out of the churches that have compromised rather than confronting the leadership and congregation. I've been guilty of this myself. Maybe it's time to stand up and draw the line.
   Jesus said, "Truly Elijah must come first, and restore all things" (Mt 17:11). Malachi prophesied, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord" (Malachi 4:5) I don't pretend to know when that day shall be, but I know it's time for the Church of Jesus Christ in America to clean house! We have allowed too much ungodliness in the sanctuary and grieved the Holy Spirit!
   Listen to God's call on the prophet Jeremiah: "See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant." (Jeremiah 1:10) In case you didn't get it, that's one part construction, one part landscaping, and four parts demolition! Yeah, folks, I'm an iconoclast from way back, so I ain't the most popular guy around. What I'm saying is, it's time for some righteous indignation, and for speaking up against spiritual compromise in our churches.  Pastors, Elders, Deacons, Council members, take charge, do the right thing, draw the line!
   Elijah was a guy like us, James reminds us, but he had a zeal for the Kingdom of God that wouldn't let him shut up even when he felt like dyin'. Folks, let's listen to that still, small voice and get out there and make a difference!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Ears to Hear

  You know you can read a passage of Scripture 1,000 times and not get what God is saying? How many times have you read a verse of the Bible and said, "I never saw that!"? But how often we can read a passage over & over, yet see nothing but our own church's or denomination's view? How often God's word goes in one ear & out the other! Or the thing is so cryptic, so hard, all the commentaries & translations you own can't make heads or tails of it? We've all been there.
   BUT I DON'T WANNA BE THERE!!!! Isaiah wrote it, Christ and Paul quoted it: (Isaiah 6:9-10, Matthew 13: 14-15, Acts 28: 26-27)  "Go, tell this people, Hear ye indeed but understand not; and see ye indeed but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes..."
   Lord, I DO NOT want to be one of those people! Don't know about you, I'm tired of not hearing what God is saying; tired of thinking I know what His word means when I'm not even close! In these days we're living in, we need to know what the prophets have written, what God has spoken, what the Spirit has revealed! "He that has ears to hear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" God, if I don't have ears to hear, "clean the potatoes out" as my Dad used to say! Anoint my eyes with eyesalve that I may see!
   I think a lot of people are hypnotized; they go to church each week, hear the Word preached, but it has no effect; it bounces right off like seeds the sower dropped on the sidewalk! "Today, if you will hear His voice, harden not your hearts..." (Psalms 95 & Hebrews 4) How hard is my heart? How much bitterness & unforgiveness dwell there?
   Listen, I'm not content to jump on the bandwagon and just accept everyone else's eschatology! I know there are holes in their arguments! Remember when so many thought the Rapture was in 1988? I was sayin' "NO" And when they all thought the computers were gonna crap out in 2000? I said it wouldn't happen. There's a ton of stuff people are saying today, and some of it's good, a lot I agree with, but I don't want to miss God. If possible, even the Elect will be deceived. Count me out, no thanks!
   Jesus promised the Holy Ghost would lead us & guide us into all truth; that if we ask for wisdom , He'll give it liberally! He said the words of Revelation & Daniel were sealed unto the time of the end...LORD, I pray open those seals! Make us understand; we confess we don't get it with our natural minds! The Bible told us 1000's of years ago what would come to pass....yet we didn't get it! God, You're not the author of confusion....soften my heart, open my eyes, give me ears to hear....

There All Along

    As time goes by, I am amazed by how much of Bible prophecy is right on the money, and more so how it's been right in front of us for thousands of years, yet we just didn't get what God was saying. We could judge the Saducees & Pharisees who didn't get that Christ would come from Nazareth, but we've been just as blind to things He's telling our generation!
   One particularly disturbing passage of Scripture, the well-known axiom from Ecclesiastes, "there is nothing new under the sun", affronts our pride over our innovations and technology. Here is the passage in its entirety:
               "The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Is there anything whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us." Ecclesisastes 1: 9,10
   This goes against our natural minds and human pride, yet we see case after case of "advanced" technology showing up in "primitive" civilizations. (FYI: The Bible records metallurgy showing up in the 7th generation from Adam.) Skeptics scoff at the dimensions of Noah's Ark, saying a ship that large couldn't be built from wood; but really we don't know how advanced ship-building or other technologies were in Noah's day, since obviously, it was all washed away! If the Egyptians could build a really big pyramid, Noah could build a really big boat. It shouldn't surprise us to find "modern" technology in ancient cultures, since Solomon told us it was here before us.
    Another Scripture that was right there all along comes from Revelation 16: 13-14: "and I saw 3 unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth, and of the whole world..." OK: what are frogs like? They have no hair, green skin, long thin limbs & digits, big bulging eyes....and "aliens"? Same thing. Any of you not persuaded yet that aliens are demons, this verse spells it out nice & clear, ok? Seriously, what other race of beings are like frogs? Notice these "aliens" come out of the mouths of the beast, dragon, & false's stuff they made up and are speaking to us thru the media! So are world leaders in cahoots with demons/aliens? Duh. Cuz X Files says so? Because the Bible says so!
    What else has God been telling us all along that we're just figuring out now? And what haven't we figured out yet? I'll have more next time. Thanks for stopping by.