Monday, December 26, 2005

Christ will come in our generation?

Many teachers in the pre-tribulation rapture camp, such as Hal Lindsey, have told us that we are definitely the generation that will see Christ return, and that this is a scriptural fact. They come to this conclusion because they believe Israel is referred to as the "fig tree" in certain passages, and because Matthew 24 says:

Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it [Christ’s coming] is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened (Matt. 24:32-34).

It is concluded by some that the fig tree in this passage is Israel. The phrase "As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out" is said to be referring to Israel becoming a nation. So, with this conclusion, it is understandable that they would think that we will see Christ return in our generation because Israel became a nation in 1948.

But a parallel passage says, "Look at the fig tree AND ALL THE TREES (Luke 21:29)." If the fig tree is Israel becoming a nation, then, according to pre-trib’s way of interpreting scripture, "all the trees" must be referring to all the other lost nations becoming nations once again too! Of course, they do not say this, but it must be the conclusion if they are to be consistent in their interpreting method.

Clearly, this the fig tree in this passage is not referring to the nation Israel. The PARABLE, as it is called in Luke 21:29, is simply telling us that the signs are indicators that His return is near—just as we know that summer is near when the leaves come out on the trees. And remember, there is absolutely no reason to conclude that every time a fig tree is mentioned that it has to be speaking of Israel.

I certainly would not be one to say that Christ will not return in our generation, because I think that He may, but this is just one more example of why we need to study the Bible for ourselves rather than listen to what men tell us.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The "Any Moment" Challenge

Dear pre-trib believer,

One of your main beliefs is that Christ could come at any moment, and that nothing needs to take place before He comes. Considering the fact that this is one of the main foundations of pre-tribulationalism, shouldn't there be at least one verse that teaches this? Can you find one that doesn't require a great amount of assumption?



PS Click here to see my first post on this blog to view a cheat sheet if you're having trouble.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Overcome By Grace

What I’ve learned in my prophecy studies is that the Second Coming of Jesus Christ has everything to do with grace. The moment Jesus said, "It is finished," dropped His head, and gave up His spirit, the price for every sin that every man, woman, and child has committed was paid on that terrifying, yet glorifying day.

Those who have been blessed to have God reveal this mystery of grace to us have experienced the sanctifying work of His Spirit in our lives. The moment we raised Christ up in our hearts and said, "I am no longer the god of my life — You are," we died with Him. We became dead to sin and alive to Christ, and our walk in grace began.

Jesus, and this grace that He has freely given and lovingly lavished upon us, is our focal point. Our desires, and even our good deeds, are not to be our primary focus. Jesus Christ was crucified, arose, and supplied us with grace in abundance. This is where our eyes are to look, no matter how good or bad our lives appear to be. Once we have our hearts set in Christ’s direction, then and only then can we correctly live and distribute the greatest commandment (love) by the power of God’s Spirit rather than by our own efforts.

As we struggle to grasp grace, we stumble and fall, crawl and groan, always seeking to climb back to the throne of grace we had seemingly seen so clearly before. Each time we make it back to our Master’s feet, we are even more thankful for what He accomplished on the cross because our understanding of our shortcomings, and His grace is broadened and clarified.

As life continues, and if it does so in accordance with His desires, our hearts become even more grateful for His sacrifice and grace as we work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Eph. 6:5).

Just as Jesus was raised on the third day, we were raised from spiritual death to spiritual life once we believed in Him. Paul tells us that because Christ was raised, we will also be physically raised before the end comes (1 Cor. 15:12–19).

The moment we are caught up in the air to be with our Lord at the Second Coming will be the first time we will fully know Jesus and His grace. Every step we have taken in this life to understand and know Him will dim in comparison to the grace we will be shown on that day. Jesus and His grace will be known more clearly than anything we have ever seen with our physical or spiritual eyes during our journeys on this earth.

Imagine the moment we come face to face with Christ. I believe our lives will flash through our hearts and minds like a split-second, speed-of-light slide show. Everything we have ever done will be remembered. The evil thoughts and actions we committed against our fellow man and against God, and our infinite unworthiness, will be made known in their spiritual entirety.

As quickly as this happens, however, we will be overcome by grace. Every evil thought and deed we just viewed will be covered by the blood of the Son and fall away from us, never to be experienced again. For the first time, we will know what it means to be pure. For the first time, we will feel what it’s like to be truly holy. For the first time, we will truly understand what the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit did for us on the day of the ultimate sacrifice.

We will feast with God at the great wedding banquet in celebration, for we will be Christ’s bride and He our groom. From this moment on, we will live with Him, and He with us, forever. We will drink the water of life and He will wipe away every tear and take away all mourning and every ounce of pain.

We will enter the Lord’s realm clothed in the righteousness of God and walk the streets of gold alongside the river of the water of life under God’s glory, for we will no longer need a lamp or the light of the sun because He will be our light. The sting of sin that brought the curse of death will be abolished, and we will praise Him for all eternity!

Who Will Be Left Behind And When, pp. 10-13

Monday, December 19, 2005

Pre-trib is supposed to comfort us?

I recently received an e-mail by a reader that says there is no comfort in believing that the rapture will take place after the persecution of the Antichrist, and that there is only comfort in a pre-trib rapture. This is a very common complaint that I receive on a fairly regular basis so I thought I would address it today.

Yes, in 1 Thessalonians 4:18 Paul says that we are to comfort (NASB) or encourage (NIV) one another with the words of Christ’s return and the fact that we will be with Him forever. But what does this really mean, and is there really no comfort in this belief for the believer if Christ is not to return until after the great persecution?

Let’s back up to the very beginning of Paul’s rapture teaching in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 to get a bigger picture of what he is saying. He states:

“Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.”

Paul gives us our answer as plain as day. Men that do not believe in Christ have no hope in life after death for their friends, their family, or for themselves. They have nothing to look forward to after they die because in their hearts and minds, when life ends, it’s all over. But it ain’t over for us!

“We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him…and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage (comfort, NASB) each other with these words (1 Thessalonians 4:14,17-18).

So yes, there is a great comfort in knowing that Christ will return, even if it is after the Abomination of Desolation. We will be together forever with Him! The “comfort” spoken of in this verse has nothing to do with the timing of the rapture. We are to be comforted and not worry because of the fact that our departed brothers and sisters in Christ are not lost into oblivion. Their bodies will rise, as will ours, to meet Christ. And we will share eternity together!

But in reality the “doctrine of comfort” that our pre-trib friends believe is really no argument at all. Let me ask you this:

If we are told that good news will take place, but that bad news will take place first, does the good news vanish and become bad news?

That’s what this pre-trib argument is telling us. If we apply the pre-trib comfort thought process evenly across the board, we can’t find comfort in going to heaven at all, because aside from the rapture I must die first in order to get to heaven. How is the thought of heaven a comfort if I know I must die, maybe even a horrible death, first? See the correlation and the contradiction?

If one cannot see comfort in Christ's return, no matter what may come first, one’s comfort rests on circumstances rather than on God and an eternal existence with Him. True spiritual comfort, along with faith, hope, love, peace, and joy have nothing to do with circumstances.

Friday, December 16, 2005

He could come at any moment?

During years of studying the Bible and this topic, I have searched web sites and books to find every Bible verse used by the teachers of the pre-tribulation rapture theory to prove that Christ will rapture His Church at any moment, without any needed events taking place first. If the pre-trib theory is as clear as the teachers would have us believe, the imminent, any moment rapture teaching should be clearly portrayed in the Bible. Below are all of the pre-trib foundational verses for the any moment rapture teaching. Consider them for yourself. Are they clear, or does it take assumptions to find in these passages what our teachers have told us?

All scripture quoted is from the NIV unless otherwise noted.

"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father (Matthew 24:36).

"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come (Matthew 24:42).

After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words (1 Thess. 4:17-18).

Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am (John 14:1-3).

"Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven" (Acts1:11).

Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed (1 Cor. 1:7).

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ…(Phil. 3:20).

…and to wait for his Son from heaven…(1 Thessalonians 1:10).

…while we wait for the blessed hope--the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ…(Titus 2:13).

…he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him (Hebrews 9:28).

Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life (Jude 21).

When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory…(Col. 3:4).

…to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in his own time…(1 Timothy 6:14-15).

Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed (1 Peter 1:13).

And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming (1 John 2:28).

Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure (1 John 3:2–3).

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed--in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed(1 Cor. 15:51–52).

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near (Philippians 4:5).

Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near. Don't grumble against each other, brothers, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door (James 5:7-9)!

I am coming soon (Rev. 3:11; 22:7, 12, 20)!

So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled (1 Thess. 5:6).

If anyone does not love the Lord--a curse be on him. Come, O Lord (1 Corinthians 16:22)!

I ask you—Do any of these passages say that Christ could come at any moment? Is it as clear as the pre-trib teachers tell us it is?