Skip to comments.The Rapture Part 1 (Dispensational Caucus)
Posted on 06/22/2012 12:53:32 AM PDT by GiovannaNicoletta
I remain astonished at the number of emails I receive from individuals who do not believe that the rapture is a biblical doctrine. Such people seem to have the idea that the whole rapture concept is manufactured by popular, sensationalistic prophecy teachers in their attempt to sell books and make money. Thus, they contend that this rapture doctrine has no biblical justification whatsoever. In order to demonstrate the rapture is truly a biblical doctrine, I am commencing a series of articles on the "Doctrine of the Rapture of the Church."
This series will have two major parts. First, we will focus on the "what?" question as we ask ourselves, "What is the rapture?" The two major passages we will use to answer this question will be 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-58. Second, we will focus on the "when?" question as we ask ourselves, "When is the rapture?" By "when?" we have no intention of assigning a date for the rapture. Such an effort would be fruitless since the Scripture fails to assign a specific date for this event. Rather, by "when?" we simply will try to answer the question "When will the rapture take place relative to the impending seven-year tribulation period?"
What Is the Rapture? In order to answer this question, ten truths about this important event will be discussed. The first four truths come directly from 1 Thess. 4:13-18. These verses say:
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
The Rapture Is an Important Doctrine
First, the rapture is an important doctrine. Many give the impression that the rapture is some kind of secondary doctrine that need not be given too much attention. We are often told that we should focus on the "big ticket" theological items such as the Virgin Birth, the Vicarious Atonement, the Trinity, Salvation by Faith Alone, and the Deity of Christ. Only after these doctrines are mastered should we then consider or contemplate the doctrine of the rapture. Along these same lines, many contend that the rapture is certainly not something that a new believer should give too much time or attention to.
Such thinking was foreign to the mindset of the Apostle Paul. Interestingly, the Thessalonians were new believers (1 Thess. 1:9). In fact, a very short period of time exists between Paul's planting of the Thessalonian church on his second missionary and his writing of the two epistles to them. There were no more than six months to a year between these two events. Thus, the Thessalonian epistles differ from Paul's letter to the Philippians where a little over ten years had elapsed between Paul's planting of the church at Philippi, on his second missionary journey, and when Paul finally wrote to that church during his first Roman imprisonment. The point in all of this is that although the Thessalonians were new believers, Paul never hid the doctrine of the rapture from them. On the contrary, he openly disclosed this teaching to them along with many other doctrines.
In his letter to the Thessalonians, before more fully developing the doctrine of the rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul briefly mentioned this doctrine in 1 Thessalonians 1:10. Paul obviously believed that the rapture is a foundational doctrine because he mentioned it immediately after discussing other basic doctrines such as the Holy Spirit (1:5) and conversion (1:5, 9). He also mentions the rapture doctrine (4:13-18) just after and before discussing other basic Christian truths such as sanctification (4:3, 5:23) and the dimensions of man's nature (5:23). Evidently, in Paul's thinking, the rapture was just as important as these other truths and deserved the same level of treatment and understanding.
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There is no tolerance for posters coming onto a caucus thread claiming that they were once baptized into that belief and therefore are still a member of it due to the belief saying they are - even though they are not active in that belief and notoriously dispute that belief on "open" Religion Forum threads. The same holds for those who claim they are members because of their ancestry even though they are not active in that belief and notoriously dispute it on "open" RF threads.
That behavior is finessing the guidelines, it is flame baiting. No dice.
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Just so I understand, because this is a Dispensational caucus, only pre-tribulationists can comment? Those that believe in a post-tribulation rapture should not comment?
If you want to check my bent, you might look at
for the doctrines I have been discipled in by that author. I expect some of my thoughts might not be in agreement with everyone elses. I'm open to extending my learning in The Lord, being finite in the Presence of the Infinite. Why else have a discussion?
But in 1 Corinthians 15:31, Paul says: I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily."
By this it can be seen that the first taken up in the rapture, those "dead in Christ," means those who have surrendered their lives to Christ, and thereby "died" to those former lives "of the world," in the same way Paul "dies daily" ... "in Christ Jesus our Lord."
After that, 1 Thess. 4:17 says 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 ever be with the Lord.
Ironically, to Paul, those who are "alive in the world" are not yet "dead to the world in Christ," but nevertheless will be taken up second.
Interesting how to spiritual eyes, the light of the world is darkness - while to worldly eyes, the light of Christ is darkness.
Jesus and Elijah ascended into heaven so why is it such a stretch to believe the rapture will happen?
Thank you for posting this. Often on FR there are those who will not accept that this is an doctrine the early church believed. Good documentation for its early teaching can be found here: http://www.essentialchristianity.com/pages.asp?pageid=21918
A doctrine, not an doctrine. Proofread after editing. Sheesh!
Your contentions dont make sense. If you claim that dead in Christ means those who are still physically alive but have surrendered themselves to Christ and then quote Paul saying we which are alive you have to believe that Paul was not one of those who were dead in Christ.
Enoch was taken also.
Please count me among those who do not believe your assessment of the scriptures is correct.
Those times have come and gone. The scriptures made Christians of that time aware of the signs so they would know when to get out of Dodge.
The scriptures do not support the notion of what is coming; the scriptures support the notion of what happened.
I trust this information will aid you in overcoming your astonishment.
Are you a dispensationalist?
Those who meet that criteria are welcome to join in the "general discussion" within the Dispensational caucus thread. We are not interested in arguments, denial of Scripture, false doctrines that cannot be validated by Scripture, and ridicule of those who believe that the Bible should be taken as God wrote it, not as each individual has adjusted to fit his or her false, un-Biblical doctrines.
If you can meet those requirements, you are welcome to join. Also, dispensationalists hold to a pre-Tribulation Rapture and are pre-millennial.
Anyone who truly knows Christ as Savior has their faith built on His death and resurrection, but we also have the "blessed hope", as He described the harpazo, or catching away, of His church. The doctrine of the Rapture is in the same book as the gospel, and was written by the same God. It is just as much factual as Jesus' death on the cross, and will happen just as sure as Jesus' death on the cross happened.
As for people getting hostile over disagreements, I really haven't seen that. I see Bible-believing Christians get passionate about defending the Scriptures, and therefore Jesus Christ, from unbelievers who attempt to deny Scriptures and, by doing so, deny Christ. It's about God's Holy Word, and whether or not it is absolute, inerrant truth.
Christians get "hostile" and are supposed to get "hostile" when their Savior is under attack from those who will deny Him by denying His Word. It's not about disagreement - it's about defending the One Who paid an incalculable price to rescue us from the consequences of our rebellion against Him and Who gave us the opportunity to be reconciled to Him and to be forgiven and to have the gift of eternal life.
It's not about simple "disagreement" at all.
Dispensationalism is premillennialism and usually includes the belief in a pre-tribulation rapture of Christians.
Thinking it's right to introduce myself to you-all with a brief biosketch, so as to avoid surprises:
o A dirty, rotten, heavy-drinking, parent-shaming, wife-neglecting, irreligious sinner saved by a very gracious God through my last hope of trusting in the Person, Work, Faith, and shed incorruptible Blood of His Son, Jesus Christ who had alrady borne my sins in His Body on that stake -- May 21, 1971 at the age of 34.
o Brought into fellowship and in-doctrination with a very faithful local assembly of brethren (Plymouth-type) well-versed in prophecy and expecting the Lord's return imminently.
o Several years of attendance with Biblical independent, fundamental, immersionist, pre-trib pre-millennial rapturist NT fellowships in various employment locations.
o Life Member of the Dean Burgon Society -- TR/MT texts inspired, AV a faithful translation
o Further discipling under Dr. Fred Wittman, author of "A Precise Translation" (NT companion to AV), since about 1992; himself of brethren roots.
o Have myself been a discipler for many years, always seeking to make another disciple.
o I'm tolerant of the Pierpont & Robinson Majority extform of the NT; but reject the WH-based Critical Text as Divine, together with its derived versions as unreliable (especially dynamic equivalence translated)
o I'm looking for the upper-taker at any moment, and trying to be ready for His use now.
Thanks for the summary -- that pretty much describes my stance on these issues. I have a real name, if you wish to know. My handle here is like a vanity license plate --- I'm a redeemed one = imardmd1
My life verse: "Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom He hath redeemed from the hand of the Enemy." Ps. 107:2
Rom 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:Gods creation is how we understand invisible (spiritual) things. Does that mean that creation is an allegory? It is certainly worth a look. If God intended his work to teach us about himself, we miss out on a bounty of blessings if we turn away.
"In case of the rapture, this vehicle will be unoccupied," smugly proclaimed the bumper sticker on the automobile waiting at the stoplight just ahead of me.
I'm sure the driver of the car was proudly, if not a little self-righteously, displaying her belief that, should Christ suddenly "rapture her away," she would instantly soar through the roof of the car, whisk away into the clouds (unless it happened to be a clear day) to heaven, leaving her still-running car there at the intersection to create a massive traffic jam.
Is this true? Is Christ coming to secretly "snatch up" His saints before the Great Tribulation of Bible prophecy?
What Difference Does it All Make?
Why should someone who believes in the "rapture" get ANGRY when shown, from the Bible, that the so-called "secret rapture" is a myth?
If Christ is going to redeem the saved; if Christ is coming to catch up His people, including the dead in Christ, and descend with them to the mount of Olives in the same day, then His true followers will be SAVED, will they not?
They will be born of God by a resurrection, or an instantaneous change, will they not? (1 Corinthians 15:50-52).
They will then come down from the clouds, perhaps anywhere from 10 to 40,000 feet above the earth, in this earth's atmosphere, and will be with Christ as He begins to rule this earth with a rod of iron.
What is so wrong with these wondrous promises of your Bible that "pretribulationists" and "secret rapturists" seem to violently object?
It is simply this: Somehow, they cannot bring themselves to believe the "saved" could suffer any harm! For some reason, an insidious false assumption has crept into the minds of millions of people, an assumption which says God would not think of allowing His saints to come to any physical harm! No, any such terrible event is reserved only for the wicked, so they think! What they do not realize is that such a false assumption makes them out to be better than Christ!
Did not Christ say, "If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also"? Did He not say, "In this world ye shall tribulation"? Did He not say, "The time will come when they that killeth you will think they do God a service"?
Another equation in this false assumption is that martyrdom is reserved for the spiritually weak!
Those who cling to the false notion of "church eras" point out how God will allegedly throw those in the so-called "Laodicean attitude" of lukewarmness into the Great Tribulation, while spiriting away into a desert wilderness the "good" people in the "Philadelphian era."
According to this scenario, those closest to God; those on fire with zeal; those with the most faith, the most works, the most spiritual character, will be PROTECTED from the Tribulation, miraculously "taken to a place of safety."
But those who are less faithful, not so close to God; those without zeal; those who are lukewarm, who have weak spiritual character, will be chosen as God's martyrs!
As they suffer, they will realize how terribly weak, and lukewarm they have been, as the theory goes, and, under torture and eventual death, they will repent!
But WHO did God choose as His martyrs?
Look at the list: Jesus Christ, Peter, James, Paul, Stephen, Antipas, dozens of others in the first century. Read the eleventh chapter of Hebrews, how God's greatest prophets were oftentimes martyred for their faith.
John saw a vision of the witness of two prophets, two human beings who will personally testify against the Beast and the False Prophet! Their Prophecy is to take place during the Tribulation!
"And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
"These are the two olive trees [mentioned in symbol in Zechariah 4:3], and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth.
"And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed.
"These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.
"And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit [the abyssa spiritual metaphor] shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
"And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
"And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
"And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts to one another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwell on the earth.
"And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet and great fear fell upon them which saw them.
"And they heard a great voice out from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither, And they ascended to heaven [this earth's atmosphere, where vapors form cloudsnot the "third heaven" of God's throne] in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
"And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted: and gave glory to the God of heaven" (Revelation 11:2-13).
These two men are in Jerusalem all during the Tribulation and the Day Of the Lord. Their three and one-half year's testimony coincides exactly with the "time of Jacob's trouble," of three and one-half years; with the "times of the Gentiles" of three and one-half years; with the "treading down of Jerusalem" of three and one-half years!
God gives them power far above that of Moses or Elijah. The plagues they call down upon sinning mankind, upon the Beast and False Prophet, are global in nature, not national, or local, as in the former cases.
These two prophets, the "two witnesses" of the future, are human beings, converted, Spirit-led SAINTS! They are Christ's servants, conducting the last-minute, FINAL phase of God's work on this earth of PERSONALLY witnessing to the Beast and False Prophet in the name of Christ!
What happens to them?
They are martyred!
When the Beast is finally able to "make war" against them, overcome them, and kill them, the Bible does not tell us specifically how they die. You can be sure it will not be pleasant! Yet, after lying dead in the street for three and one-half days, they are obviously resurrected, and will be given eternal life! Are these two great prophets "Laodicean"?
Are they "left behind" when the saints are "raptured," or the so-called "Philadelphia era" goes to a "place of safety"?
Do they suffer a horrible death because they are spiritually inferior?
No, God does not choose the spiritually WEAK, the lukewarm, to be His martyrs!
Instead, He chooses those who are so close to God that they literally count all things in this life "as dung" (Philippians 3:8) in comparison with the Kingdom of God, and eternal life!
"Rapturists," like "survivalists" and "escapists," have their minds on the preservation of this physical life!
Jesus Christ tells them that those who seek to save their lives in this world, who have their minds on physical things, are likely to lose out on salvation!
No, God is NOT going to "rapture" away His saints secretly. The lady with the bumper sticker will not suddenly disappear through her roof, after all!
Let us not trust in false hopes, but in Jesus Christ of Nazareth, and God the Father, Who loves us, and Who promises eternal life with Him in His Kingdom to all those who "endure unto the end," whether that means the end of our own physical lives or the end of the Tribulation and the Day of the Lord!
That’s very interesting. But how can you not be Protestant if not Catholic? And in what way are you not orthodox? Maybe I don’t understand the way you mean it. I looked at the website, and see no immediate problems, such as a denial of Christ’s divinity or of His work on the cross and Resurrection. I will continue reading.
I for one am not sure about a pretribulation rapture, and I find that much of what is predicted as future events were actually already fulfilled. For example, I hold that Daniel’s 70 Weeks were very much fulfilled with the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70ad.
Man, on the other hand, by the fact of his created, not divine status and his fallen condition, among myriad other reasons, is not only not qualified to take it upon himself to change the meaning of what God wrote by arbitrarily allegorizing and spiritualizing the Word of God, but nowhere has God authorized man to change the meaning of what He wrote by arbitrarily allegorizing and spiritualizing the Word of God.
God can use allegory in the Scripture for His own purposes. Fallen man, having a sin nature, a blindness of the things of God and, absent being born again, a position of enmity with God, is not on the level of God, does not have the omniscient and omnipresent knowledge of God, and is completely incompetent in understanding the Word of God, and is never told by God or given permission by God to arrogantly change the Word of God by allegorizing it.
Man is not God and does not have the qualifications nor the authority to change one word of Scripture.
Simple as that.
Christians suffer trials and tribulations during this present age because we live in a fallen, evil world of which Satan is god. There is a difference between Satan's wrath and God's wrath and God never promises to always protect Christians from the realities and consequences of living in such a world. The specific, seven year period known as the "Tribulation" is a time of God's, not Satan's and fallen men's, wrath, and Jesus Christ promises to take those who know Him as Savior out of the time of judgment that He will bring on this world for those who have chosen to reject Him.
For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. (1 Thessalonians 5:9,10)
This thread is for dispensationalists.
Regarding the post attempting to discount the rapture as a myth, the argument presented contains compounded errors in understanding the timelines provided in Scripture.
It is truly consistent that the 2nd Coming occurs after the Rapture, but this doesn’t necessitate the return of the saints occurs prior to the Tribulation.
Most likely the consistent timeline allows for the Church to be prepared for the Wedding Feast in Heaven concurrent with the Tribulation.
At the close of the Church Age, we simply observe in God’s Prophetic timeline that at some point in the future the indwelling of God the Holy Spirit in each member of the Body of Christ will change by His Will. His work in us at that time will have been completed.
We will continue to live in fellowship with Him as His Bride, but God the Holy Spirit’s indwelling will shift to the Jew during the Millennium, as opposed to the Gentile.
The reading also suggests a mistaken understanding of martyrdom, focusing upon suffering instead upon a perseverant witness of Christ.
"and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come" (1 Thess. 1:10).
"Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth." (Revelation 3:10)
Are those passages true or false?
Thank you. The "dispensational caucus" thread is, I think, the only one that is such a threat that the FR rules on caucuses consistently get violated when one is posted.
attempting to discount the rapture as a myth
I don't know why, but it never fails to astound me how easily and effortlessly human beings will just state without blinking an eyelash that God lies.
If I live to be three hundred years old I will never understand that.
By accepting the underlying methods of spinning out a false tale, as in this excerpt's misuse of the Holy Scripture, its thought process falls into the same line as that of the unregenerate Patristics, like Clement and Origen. They led a great many (not all) seekers away from the core common-sense interpretation which Christ and His Apostles modeled, into a methodology based on nonsensical explanations that produced a religion of their liking. The long excerpt you posted here rests on a laundry-list of assumptions not only logically unsupportable, but directly contradicted by other Scripture.
Allegorizing Scripture, when a literal sense and application is demanded by the context, immediately leads to conflict of opinion, argumentation and profitless waste of time and emotion. That seems to be why this caucus prefers that one sticks to the theology framework stipulated. In this case your excerpt is distracting, though readily disproved.
Here's a suggestion: If you wish to know how the theme of the literal snatching away of the souls of Christ's believer-disciples fits in a dispensational framework of God's progressive revelation, follow along and ask. You may not believe in the scheme, but take your Bible and prove it false on our own, if you can.
But let me also suggest that you start to learn a little bit about "hermeneutics"--how to interpret the Bible. A good source is:
This is a downloadable course outline in PDF form, from a reputable theological seminary named after an outstanding Bible interpreter. Going through this will immeasurably improve your responses in this discussion. (Hint: a section with highlights in the history of hermeneutics begins on page 23.)
With a grip on this, you probably won't want to be known as posting excerpts of the type and quality as you have here.
With sincere respect --
You haven't so far. Hopefully you'll be able to come up with something.
Oh and can you also give me the Scripture where God authorizes man to determined that He lied in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18?
All this Scripture that you will provide will be very helpful Thanks.
Very well said. Thank you imardmd1!
Well, yeah we are.
When Jesus promises in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 to take His church off the scene before He sends judgment, and no one can find any Scripture to contradict that, and then Jesus tells us this:
Let not your heart be troubled: believe in God, believe also in me. 2In my Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I come again, and will receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1-3)
where He is reiterating His promise to "come again", and get His bride and take us to where He is, then where is He?
Where is Jesus located right now?
Where does God say that Joseph is a type of Christ?
What I said is that, although raised as a "preacher's kid" in the Methodist denomination, I no longer subscribe to that type of ecclesiastic structure. "Catholic" means "universal," and is based on an interpretation that The Spirit baptizes believers into a mystical, invisible body of Christ, a universal, invisible Church.
This "solution" was a necessity adopted by Augustine to circumvent the fact that his visible church was an impure one; some of whose members were regenerated believer-disciples; some were unregenerate "believers;" and a third class of some who were baptized but too ignorant or non-compliant as yet to be called believers. Also, a dominion of obedience to government outside the local churches (a contra-NT concept) forced this subservience to this invisible Church.
I do not believe in this doctrine, so I am not a Catholic.
What I believe is essentially the Biblical view of Augustine's critics, the Donatists, to whom a true church was/is the assembly of immersed regenerated believer-disciples in a particular locale, maintaining their purity through strong preaching, and church discipling, and stabilized by personal discipling into spiritual maturity. That is certainly orthodox back to the Apostolic age; but it is not Greek or Russian or British or some other "Orthodox" (capital "O"), which are not orthodox at all.
So I am orthodox in belief, but not "Orthodox" in denomination.
Protestants are simply offshoots of Romanism reformed; and hence are illegitimate children who will be gathered back in the end-time ecumenism, after they admit their rebellion. That is now occurring.
I am no longer Protestant, since I was saved.
You will find that the persecuted churches and their preserved Scripture have always remained from the beginning, wherever a hermeneutic of literal grammatical interpretation of the original inscripturated languages has resurfaced. That would include Donatists, Paulicians, Montenses, Waldensians, Albigenses, "Plymouth" brethren, Independent Baptists, etc. which have witnessed in every age against corruption, innovation, Jewish rites, and clerical rule.
This is what I identify with.
I for one am not sure about a pretribulation rapture, and I find that much of what is predicted as future events were actually already fulfilled. For example, I hold that Daniels 70 Weeks were very much fulfilled with the destruction of the Jewish temple in 70ad.
Well, that will not survive the fact that The God caused the Jews to be dispersed, and His prophecy for their regathering in Eretz Israel, at the end of the times of the Gentiles, has only recently occurred.
The seven years of the Tribulation (3 1/2 years of the Great Tribulation) are the last 0f the 70 shabats (heptads). You need to go over Daniel 9:24-27 very carefully. Daniel's 70 shabats of years were not literally, actually fulfilled as you claim. It is thought that there has been a hiatus from the 69th week, until recently; for Tisha b'Av began "the times of the Gentiles" on Israel and Jerusalem, until now (Luke 21:20-24).
This generation is still here, and The Prophet said unto his Own, "This generation shall not pass away, til all be fulfilled." That is, "This generation" referred to is the one in whose time dominance of Jerusalem by the Gentiles will be over.
You will want to note that the prophetic dispensationalism is not a new thing, although a resurgence of a literal-historical-grammatical hermeneutic of Christ and His Apostle-disciplers is the mother of sects such as the Darbyites, Independent Baptists, and self-governed Bible Fellowships where Bible teaching rather than "social gospel" activism is the dominant feature.
Awesome post, imardmd1!
They led a great many (not all) seekers away from the core common-sense interpretation which Christ and His Apostles modeled, into a methodology based on nonsensical explanations that produced a religion of their liking.
It's often said that premillenialism is a recent phenomenon, but it only appears that way to those that haven't had the opportunity to study our early Christian history. Amillenialism and allegorical interpretation became dominant with the rise of a hierarchy and the development of the church-state model. It has only been after the separation of the church and state that we've seen a large number of Christians return to our roots ie., literal interpretation and premillenialism.
If we look at Christians who believe in a pre-trib, or mid-trib rapture and a physical millennial reign of Jesus Christ we see the fastest growing congregations that are also the most evangelical.
Neither am I, and so have I, forty years ago. I can back it up with the Bible, and already have. So has GiovannaNicoletta, so sufficiently, simple, and precise that I cannot improve on it.
You really should read up on the Doctrinal history of "The Rapture".
I do not find that this reference adds much to my previous understanding of the clarity of the Scriptures in this matter, but it is a useful summary.
However, you might want to take a look at a rather more lengthy treaty by my discipler, the scholar/missionary/author/broadcaster Dr. Fred Wittman, given here:
This will treat the rapture in a broader panorama of the progress of The God's plan, so that you have as much context that will be hard to wiggle out of. With it is a pictorial diagram of what happens before and after, as well as what happens to those who do not participate in that rapture event:
Here is a corollary table comparing the features of Christendom vs. the Kingdom of The God:
That ought to take up at least a part of one's afternoon. Cheers!
>> What I believe is essentially the Biblical view of Augustine's
>> critics, the Donatists, to whom a true church was/is the assembly
>> of immersed regenerated believer-disciples in a particular
>> locale, maintaining their purity through strong preaching, and
>> and stabilized by personal discipling into spiritual maturity.
This should have read "church discipline,"
mea culpa --
John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.I mention Joseph because he is a neat mix of history with prophecy. Do you see Christ? Joseph was beloved of his father, hated by his brothers. In a figure he was killed, then sold as a slave, taken to Egypt, falsely accused and raised to second in command by the king and all power in Egypt was given to him. Some things are still prophecy. Christ has not yet revealed himself to his brothers nor taken a gentile bride. All in his time.
Adam's death was because of sin and cannot in any way be equated or compared with Christ's death on the cross so he is not a "type" of Christ.
The problem arises when people come up with these notions that have nothing to do with what God has written and begin to believe that their own ideas are on an equal level with the Holy Spirit-inspired Bible.
Opinions are opinions and everyone has them, but as long as they cannot be validated by the Word of God, then they are not to be seriously considered as anything other than a product of someone's imagination.
Saints in the Book of Revelation
Some argue that the church is mentioned only in the first three chapters of Revelation, and after that, the "saints" are mentioned.
Those who wrest the Scriptures to imply a "secret rapture" argue that "saints" are not necessarily a PART OF GOD'S TRUE CHURCH!
Is this so? Are not these saints members of God's true church?
In Revelation, the fifth chapter, John sees the vision of the scrolls sealed with seven seals and "wept much" because no man was found worthy to open the scrolls or to read it.
Then, in vision, he sees the Lamb, which is Jesus Christ, and describes it this way:
This vision, wherein John sees the righteous qualifications of Jesus Christ as the Lamb "slain from the foundation of the world," also depicts the prayers and supplications of God's saints.
Here, the saints are described as those who were "redeemed to God" by the precious blood of Jesus Christ out of every country on the face of the earth!
They are those who are to be kings and priests with Christ, and to rule all nations of this earth with him, for one thousand years!
Anyone who tries to argue these people are not members of God's true church, Christ's spiritual body, is simply ignorant of God's Word, or a deliberate deceiver.
Jesus promised His own beloved disciples co-rulership with Him, and predicted they would "sit on the thrones of the twelve tribes of Israel" ruling with Him in the Kingdom of God.
It is obvious this reference to "saints" means the consecrated, converted, Spirit-led members of God's true church!
This is the second reference to "saints" in the book of Revelation, and once again is obviously spiritual metaphor, or a vision of heaven,
where the prayers of God's converted, Spirit-led people, are seen as ascending up before God
and bringing about the intervention of Almighty God in human affairs by sending the trumpet plagues upon sinning mankind!
By no stretch of the imagination can these "saints" in these two verses be anyone other than Spirit-led members of God's own true church!
The next place where "saints" are mentioned in the book of Revelation is in chapter 11,
just after the description of the famous two witnesses.
Could anyone, in the wildest stretch of his imagination, assert that these saints
Now, notice the "saints" mentioned in the thirteenth chapter:
Here, the Beast power together with the False Prophet, now having gained global supremacy, are given the power to "make war with the saints"!
Could such a shocking thing occur?
The "pretribulationists," or the "rapturists," assert that God is going to "snatch away" all of His true church BEFORE the horrifying consequences of the Tribulation, including martyrdom, could occur!
But what did Jesus Christ say?
He told His disciples:
Time and again, Jesus Christ predicted that His true saints, the members of His true church, would be hated, persecuted, perhaps some of them even tortured and murdered!
When He said,
Is martyrdom a symbol of shame?
Of course not!
God has chosen only the very strongest of His true servants down through the centuries as His martyrs!
The Bible speaks of the "martyrdom of saints."
These are not some group of individuals OTHER THAN God's true church,
but oftentimes the very leaders, apostles, prophets, leading ministers, of the body of Jesus Christ, which is His true church!
The greatest martyr of all was Jesus Christ Himself!
The apostle Paul was martyred.
Perhaps, as history implies, he was thrown to the wild beasts in the arena in Rome.
Tradition says Peter was crucified upside down.
The book of Acts tells us that James, the brother of John, and one of the two sons of Zebedee, was martyred.
We read in Acts the seventh chapter of the martyrdom of Stephen.
Many, many others were martyred for their convictions, their beliefs, for the very fact that they were God's "saints"!
Notice further what Jesus told His true disciples, who were to become the apostles, and a part of the very foundation of His true church:
What did Christ prophesy for His true church?
How did He characterize His true church in the time of the end, the time during the Great Tribulation, the heavenly signs, and the Day of the Lord, at the last few years and months before His return?
He told His disciples:
Only moments later, He said:
In His Olivet prophecy, Jesus said to His disciples:
Read that scripture carefully.
Here, Jesus obviously states that some of His true servants, His true church, the saints, will be chosen to be martyrs for the name of Jesus Christ and for the sake of His work and His coming Kingdom.
Others will not.
He also said "There shall not an hair of your head perish."
You will read of a literal application of this principle in Jesus' words to Peter and John after His resurrection.
He implied Peter would be martyred; implied John would live to old age, and die a natural death.
Two great apostles, each chosen for a different manner of witness, a different human destiny. See John 21:15-25.
If you continue reading through the twenty-first chapter of Luke, which is the Olivet prophecy, and Luke's parallel account of Matthew 24,
you will see Jesus describing "Jerusalem compassed with armies," and being "trodden down of the Gentiles, until the× of the Gentiles be fulfilled."
He then shows how the heavenly signs will occur (Luke 21:25)
and how humanity will then "see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory" (Luke 21:27).
His coming occurs after the Tribulation, after the heavenly signs, at the end of the seven last plagues which conclude the Day of the Lord.
It is then, and not one split second earlier, He catches up His saints to meet Him at His descent upon the Mount of Olives (1 Corinthians 15:22-24, 50-52).
Now, after expounding all of these earth-shaking events
Where are the saints after all these fantastic events?
Once again, we see not only that the saints comprise God's true church
What is the "patience of the saints"?
It is that they keep God's commandments, and have the faith of Jesus Christ!
Can anyone dare imply that people who are keeping God's commandments, and who have the very faith of Jesus Christ living within them, are somehow not members of God's true church?
The great fallen church who is the woman "drunken with the blood of the saints" is the Babylonian mystery religion,
with the false Christthe anti-Christ or the False Prophet of biblical prophecy at its head.
Obviously, these "saints" who have been martyred by this church are the true members of God's true church, and they are called "the martyrs of Jesus."
No mention here, or anywhere else, in the book of Revelation of any "saints" who are anything other than members of God's true church!
Revelation 18:4 shows a picture of the "blood of saints" and all of those who are slain upon the earth being discovered in the dank, filthy records of the great false church.
Revelation 19:8 merely describes that "fine linen" is the symbol of righteousness of the saints,
and Revelation 20:9 depicts the holy city, New Jerusalem, at the end of the Millennium, being surrounded by "Gog and Magog,"
and refers to the holy city as "the camp of the saints."
Here, we have seen every place in the entire book of Revelation where the word "saints" is used.
In each case, it is referring to God's true church converted people in whom is God's Holy Spirit.
By no stretch of the wildest, most fantastic imagination, can ANY of these scriptures be misconstrued to mean that these "saints" are anyone other than members of God's true church!
A pivotal argument advanced by the "pretribulationists," or those who believe in a secret rapture of the church before the Tribulation,
is that Bible references to any "saints" being on earth during the Tribulation are not referring to the church, but a different category of "saints" who are not part of the church!
They know God's Word plainly mentions saints many times after the beginning of the Tribulation.
Therefore, instead of simply abandoning their false doctrine of the "rapture," they try to TWIST God's Word, claiming the "saints" do not mean the church!
How utterly ridiculous.
And how dishonest with God's Word!
Can you be a "saint" and not be a part of God's true church?
The Greek word for "saint" is hagios, which means
"sacred, pure, morally blameless or religious, consecrated, holy."
Let's notice a few scriptures where the term "saints" is applied,
and see if it means righteous, converted, Godly people, people who are morally pure, sanctified, consecrated, but who are not part of God's true church.
Paul opens the book of Romans by writing to those who are "...called of Jesus Christ: to all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints" (Romans 1:7).
Are these people members of God's true Church?
Seven more times in this book, Paul refers to saints.
Dozens of times, throughout Paul's letters, he uses such expressions to connote the members of God's church.
Is anyone ever called a "saint" who is not a member of God's church?
Possibly, for, in Matthew 27:52, you read of the "bodies of the saints" who were resurrected at the time of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection.
These righteous people were morally blameless, living according to God's laws, but yet had not been baptized, or had hands laid on them for the receiving of God's Spirit.
So the question really becomes, "Are there those who are called saints' who are on the earth at the time of the Great Tribulation who are not members of God's church?
What Is The True State Of The Dead?
When a person dies, that person ceases to think, feel, see, hear, smell, or have any awareness whatsoever.
The person becomes completely inanimate; having no consciousness whatsoever!
Continually, the Bible speaks of the condition of the dead as being in a deep, profound, unconscious SLEEP!
Notice a couple of outstanding examples: "For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
Some scoff and sneer, and speak of the state of the dead as "soul sleeping!" This, to them, is a scornful statement!
They wish to cling to their false doctrine of the "immortality of the soul,"
and their false doctrine of going to heaven, or an ever-burning "hell fire."
But scorners shall be judged in the judgment, and any who sneer at the inspired word of God will have their reward in Gehenna.
These sacred words of God, in your own Bible, are not to be sneered at.
We are commanded to TREMBLE before the word of God, and to fear to try to alter it (Isaiah 66:1, 2).
Notice what God inspired Luke to write about the martyrdom of Stephen:
"Then [and not a moment BEFORE then!] we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds,
to meet the Lord in the air [in the "first" heaven; in this earth's atmosphere, where clouds form!]:
and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)
And where will the Lord BE? Why, ON THIS EARTH!
He is coming again; coming back to this earth to stand in that day on the Mount of Olives!
Read it in your own Bible!
Jesus continually spoke of a resurrection of the dead. He said,
He described those who were in their graves, dead, knowing nothing, at the time of the Second Coming of Christ.
These scriptures plainly refer to a future event.
Jesus spoke of a general resurrection from the dead, which He called a resurrection "of life."
He clearly spoke of the opposite of death. He spoke of life.
God's word says "The dead know not anything."
God's Word reveals that human beings live a physical, chemical existence.
We are mortal, temporary, transitory creatures; sustained by the material elements of this physical creation.
We are water-drinking, air-breathing, food-ingesting creatures whose life is dependent solely upon our bloodstream and the foods (as fuel) we take into our systems.
When we die, a total cessation of this physical, chemical existence occurs. Death is the absence of life.
The Bible describes those who go down into their graves as being just as dead as any animal is dead!
Yet, while the body is dead, and will decay, and turn to "dust" again, the SPIRIT IS PROFOUNDLY ASLEEP!
Paul, anticipating questions about how God can raise up someone who has been devoured by a shark, or cremated, said,
This revealing chapter plainly shows that, at death, your physical, temporal bodies, sustained in a chemical existence by the natural elements of this earth;
food, water, and air, completely cease to function, and that total unconsciousness and oblivion results!
Not only is there a complete cessation of life there is total loss of consciousness!
Then, within moments after death, the physical body begins to decay.
This beautiful fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians explains
Christ Will Reign ON THIS EARTH!
There are far too many scriptures picturing Christ's 1,000-year reign on this earth to reprint them all here
However, here are a few examples:
The resurrected saints exult that God "
hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth" (Revelation 5:10).
Christ promised RULERSHIP over physical cities, states, nationsover this earth! Notice!
Those who have surrendered their wills to God;
who have repented of sin, and who are striving, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to live a life of overcoming,
will be given complete power and authority over cities, counties, states, and whole nations!
Do you remember what Jesus said to His disciples just prior to His crucifixion?
Jesus Christ says that even those who live in this day can have an opportunity for co-rulership in His new government, which is to be set up on this earth after His Second Coming!
Jesus Christ is coming to inherit a literal throne! That throne is on this earth.
When Mary was told of the great miracle which would occur; that she had been chosen to become the mother of Jesus Christ,
God made a binding covenant with David, telling him
because David remained faithful to God's laws and precepts that there would never fail
seed from David's own family to sit upon His physical throne!
Believe it or not, that throne still exists on this earth!
Read the prophecy of Daniel's second chapter, where you see, after the description of the four great successive world-ruling Gentile kingdoms,
a "stone cut out without hands" which smites the image on its feet [the ten toes representing the ten kings of Revelation 17] and which then "becomes a great mountain and fills the whole earth."
Clearly, in this prophecy, the figurative stone represents the returning, conquering Christ!
The great image represents the successive stages of the Gentile world-ruling kingdoms, culminating in the BEAST depicted in Daniel 7, and Revelation 13 and 17.
The ten kings who fight Christ at His coming (Revelation 17) are represented by the ten toes of the great image, mixed with iron and miry clay.
The "great mountain" is symbolic of the Kingdom of God, which will rule over the entirety of the earth!
Now, notice a portion of the inspiring chapter of Isaiah 11.
Please read it all, slowly and carefully, in your own Bible:
John wrote of His vision of the earthly kingdom of Christ:
God is calling a cadre of individuals as the advance emissaries of His soon-coming Kingdom!
Notice how Christ said the Kingdom of God was "like leaven" in one sense:
Each converted Christian is an AGENT.
He or she is to become an active part of the WORK of God, announcing the wondrous, exciting, inspiring GOOD NEWS that we can be BORN OF GOD;
that we can LIVE FOREVER; that we can join Christ in His millennial reign!
Now, finally, WHERE?
REMEMBER, "heaven" is capable of three different meanings.
But the "third heaven" is the heaven of God's throne!
For 1,000 years, Christ will occupy DAVID'S throne, here on this earth!
Then, for a period of 100 years, Satan will be allowed to influence mankind again.
At the end of that period, those who follow Satan, and the incorrigible dead, as pictured by the rich man in the parable of Lazarus (Luke 16),
will come up in the THIRD resurrectionthe resurrection to DEATH BY GEHENNA FIRE!
When is a grave not a grave?
It is only a grave when it contains a body.
The word "hell" comes from an old Nordic word, Behelian, and Hel, which was a pagan notion of a god of the underworld.
As recently as the 1930's farmers in America spoke of placing their potatoes in "hell" for the winter.
My own uncle did so. He had a "potato cave" on his property, which he termed "hell."
When are "death and the grave," meaning the incorrigible wicked cast into the lake of fire?
Not until at the end of a period of more than 1,100 years!
This is the SAME event described by Peter in his second letter (2 Peter 3:10).
Notice that this destruction by Gehenna fire is called "the SECOND death!"
As already explained, the wages of sin is death -
Now, quickly review what you have learned.
HEAVEN ON EARTH
Notice the picture of the "new heavens and new earth" to be formed following the great, final resurrection;
Can your mind grasp it?
Heaven is where God is! It is the place of His throne!
Your Bible plainly says that GOD THE FATHER will bring HIS THRONE;
His heavenly city "the New Jerusalem" down to this earth after Christ has completed His work of salvation!
God is SO PERFECT; so omniscient; so holy; so righteous, that He will not tolerate being in the presence of sin!
So long as ONE SINGLE SINNER is still on earth, God the Father will not come here!
But when the final chapter of the plan of God has been written;
when the last rebellious, sneering, scoffing, cursing, God-defying sinner has been destroyed;
when Satan has been hurled to the blackest, distant, "outer darkness,"
God the Father will join Christ and His saints HERE, on this earth!
With Him will be the twenty-four elders; the cherubim and the seraphim!
With Him will be MILLIONS of powerful angels!
The earth will have no longer any need of weather, of soil, of water;
of the elements necessary to sustain animal and human life.
It will become the HEADQUARTERS OF ALMIGHTY GOD from which He will launch His NEXT project!
The real truth is that we, IF we qualify for His glorious kingdom, will then BE IN HEAVEN for heaven will be ON THIS EARTH!
Finally, God says we will be able to SEE GOD!
The real truth about what Job spoke is obscured slightly by the translators, although made plain in the margin.
Here is the true sense of what Job said,
At the conclusion of the Bible; as God closes His narrative He has given to us,
He caused John to see a vision of this earth as it shall be during and after the millennial reign of Christ.
Yes, those who receive Christ as personal Savior; those who repent, and are baptized, and receive God's Holy Spirit,
will eventually BE IN HEAVEN with God the Father and Christ Himself!
That is because HEAVEN WILL BE ON EARTH!
And then, when our heavenly Father makes His thunderous pronouncement, "BEHOLD, I MAKE ALL THINGS NEW," we will know we are at the beginning.
The Bible tells us that there will be multitudes who were not saved during the current church age who will be saved during the Tribulation. Revelation 7:4 talks about the 144,000 Jewish believers who will go throughout the world, preaching the gospel and bringing people to Christ. Revelation 6:9-11 talks about those who refuse to take the mark of the Beast, are beheaded, and are in Heaven:
When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" 11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed..
These are Tribulation saints, not church-age saints. They were left behind at the Rapture because they did not know Christ at that time, and they become saved during the Tribulation. The church, as we know from 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, is not present on earth during the Tribulation so the "saints" as they are spoken of in the book of Revelation and anywhere else in Scripture that speaks of the Tribulation period does not refer to those who know Christ presently.
So Jesus tells His bride, His church, that they are not appointed to wrath, and that He will take His bride out, not through the wrath and Tribulation that will come on the earth, and now we have Jesus telling His church that He will come and get us and take us to where He is.
Here is Jesus' direct quote of the promise to come and get His church:
If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 4And you know the way where I am going. (John 14:3)
So Jesus tells His bride, His church that He will come and get them and take them to where He is.
Where is Jesus located?
You are obviously very learned on these subjects, just from the words you are using. What would you suggest I do to better study end times prophecy? The closest I have for a study guide is Matthew Henry’s commentaries, and he was quite convinced that Daniel’s 70 weeks were resolved some time ago. But my total understanding of end times Biblical prophecy is pitiful.
Dr, Showers' credentials are: Philadelphia College of the Bible diploma; Wheaton, B. A.; Dallas Theol., Th. M. (church history); and Grace Theological, Th. D. (Theology). At the time of publication, was on staff of FOIGM.
This volume is available from Amazon at this link:
Amazon's price is $9.56 USD plus shipping; but on that page people are offering it for $4.95 up. That's pretty reasonable, and you'll get it very quickly.
But let me ask you: Are you not being personally discipled under a spiritually mature trained discipler, who himself was discipled into maturity--not through a Bible Institute--but as the Apostles were discipled, and who discipled their successors? If not, you might consider that a fruitful and challenging path forward, one that The God expects from His children. (Heb. 5:12-6:3)
Studying prophecy is a deep subject, and probably not one you want to tackle alone. The Holy Ghost will teach you from His Word, but an experienced and faithful teacher can put you on the right track, and help you be accountable for your progress. And your growth should be across the range of in-doctrination, not just on prophecy.
If you have further questions requiring a less public communication, that is available as a reply option.