Thursday, May 31, 2007

Believers Are Found Throughout the Entire Tribulation

Below are the following verses that describe believers during the tribulation.
Rev. 7:9-17. Verse 14, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb."

Rev. 12:9-17. The context is that Satan will persecute the believers. Verse 11 says, "And they overcame him because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death." Verse17 says that Satan will make war with those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

Rev. 13 speaks of the Antichrist making war with the saints. Nonbelievers will worship him, that is, everyone whose name has not been written in the book of life of the Lamb (v.8).

Rev. 14:9-13 states that those who take the mark and worships the beast (Antichrist) will drink of God's wrath. Verse 12, "Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus." Verse 13, "And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, 'Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!"

The description of believers found in the tribulation period shows that church is found throughout the tribulation, because they have the same salvation of present believers. The salvation of those who live during the tribulation period is the same as present day believers: they are blood bought (Rev.7:14; 12:11); they have faith in Jesus (Rev.14:12) and they said to "die in the Lord" (Rev. 14:13). Acts 20:28 is very clear concerning those who belong to the blood bought church, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”

The pretribulational view says that the word “Church” is not mentioned in Revelation 4:1-19:1; therefore the “Church” is gone. Douglas Moo says, “In 22:16, Jesus claims that He has sent His angel “to give you (plural!) this testimony for the churches.” It is difficult to see how the chapters on the Tribulation could be a “testimony for the churches” if they are not involved in it.”[1] He also makes a valid point that, “it simply appears improbable that the event described at greatest length in Revelation (the Tribulation) would have no direct relevance for those to whom the book is addressed.”[2] The word “Church” does not have to be mentioned to maintain a belief that the Church is still on earth. Believers make up the Church. Posttribulationists could dismiss this argument by stating that it is an argument from silence. With the same reasoning we could say that the word "Church" is not mentioned in all of the passages dealing with believers in heaven during the tribulation. The word "Church" is not mentioned in Mark, Luke, John, 2 Timothy, Titus, 2 Peter, 1 and 2 John, and Jude. Do we now conclude that these letters are not about or concerning the Church?[3] No. There are equivalent terms that are synonymous with the term church. Douglas Moo has said that the Apostle John never uses the word “church” as referring to the universal body, but uses it in describing local churches (Rev 1-3).[4]

The most common word that we use today for believers in Jesus Christ is the word “Christian.” In the New Testament the word Christian is only used three times.

• Acts 11:26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
• Acts 26:28 Agrippa {replied} to Paul, "In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian."
• 1 Pet 4:16 but if {anyone suffers} as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.

The word “saint(s)” is the word that is used most often in the New Testament just as we use the word “Christian” to describe a believer of today.

The following are the NT references for “saints:
harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem; Acts 9:13
also to the saints who lived at Lydda. Acts 9:32
and calling the saints and widows, he Acts 9:41
lock up many of the saints in prisons, Acts 26:10
of God in Rome, called as saints: Rom 1:7
because He intercedes for the saints Rom 8:27
to the needs of the saints, Rom 12:13
going to Jerusalem serving the saints. Rom 15:25
the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. Rom 15:26
may prove acceptable to the saints; Rom 15:31
Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, Rom 16:2
and all the saints who are with them. Rom 16:15
in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, 1 Cor 1:2
unrighteous and not before the saints? 1 Cor 6:1
that the saints will judge the world? 1 Cor 6:2
as in all the churches of the saints. 1 Cor 14:33
the collection for the saints, 1 Cor 16:1
themselves for ministry to the saints), 1 Cor 16:15
the saints who are throughout Achaia: 2 Cor 1:1
in the support of the saints, 2 Cor 8:4
you about this ministry to the saints; 2 Cor 9:1
supplying the needs of the saints, 2 Cor 9:12
All the saints greet you. 2 Cor 13:13
*God, To the saints who are at Ephesus Eph 1:1
you and your love for all the saints, Eph 1:15
glory of His inheritance in the saints, Eph 1:18
are fellow citizens with the saints, Eph 2:19
To me, the very least of all saints, Eph 3:8
be able to comprehend with all the saints Eph 3:18
the equipping of the saints for the work Eph 4:12
among you, as is proper among saints; Eph 5:3
and petition for all the saints, Eph 6:18
*To all the saints in Christ Jesus who Php 1:1
All the saints greet you, especially Php 4:22
*To the saints and faithful brethren in Col 1:2
love which you have for all the saints; Col 1:4
the inheritance of the saints in Light. Col 1:12
has now been manifested to His saints, Col 1:26
of our Lord Jesus with all His saints. 1 Th 3:13
*be glorified in His saints on that day, 2 Th 1:10
Lord Jesus and toward all the saints; Phm 1:5
hearts of the saints have been refreshed Phm 1:7
and in still ministering to the saints. Heb 6:10
all of your leaders and all the saints. Heb 13:24
once for all handed down to the saints. Jude 1:3
which are the prayers of the saints. Rv 5:8
add it to the prayers of all the saints Rv 8:3
with the prayers of the saints, Rv 8:4
and the saints and those who fear Rv 11:18
with the saints and to overcome them, Rv 13:7
and the faith of the saints. Rv 13:10
*Here is the perseverance of the saints Rv 14:12
who keep the commandments of God
and their faith in Jesus
they poured out the blood of saints and Rv 16:6
drunk with the blood of the saints, Rv 17:6
you saints and apostles and prophets, Rv 18:20
found the blood of prophets and of saints Rv 18:24
*is the righteous acts of the saints. Rv 19:8
of the saints and the beloved city, Rv 20:9[5]

There are times when Paul addressed local believers as the “church” (assembly) at a specific location as with his letters to the Corinthians and Thessalonians. Notice in 2 Cor. 1:1 that the “church of God” which is at Corinth is equated with “the saints who are throughout Achaia.”
1 Cor. 1:1-2 Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2 To the church [assembly] of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:
1 Cor. 14:33 for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches [assemblies] of the saints.
2 Cor. 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the church [assembly] of God which is at Corinth with all the saints who are throughout Achaia:
1 Thess. 1:1 Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, to the church [assembly] of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.

Now notice how Paul begins his letters to the believers at Ephesus and Philippi. He addresses them simply as saints at a specific location.
Eph. 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus.
Phil. 1:1 Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons. . .:

What reason is there to claim that “tribulation saints” are not a part of the “Church”? What is the definition for the Church? Do not saints make up the Church? Here are a few definitions for the nature of the Church:

The Greek word for church is ekklesia. This word is used 115 times in the New Testament, mostly in the Book of Acts and the writings of the apostle Paul and the general epistles. At least 92 times this word refers to a local congregation. The other references are to the church general, or all believers everywhere for all ages.

When the church general is implied, “church” refers to all who follow Christ, without respect to locality or time. The most general reference to the church occurs in
Ephesians 1:22; 3:10–21; 5:23–32. Since the church general refers to all believers of all ages, it will not be complete until after the judgment; and the assembly of all the redeemed in one place will become a reality only after the return of Christ (Heb. 12:23; Rev. 21–22).[6]
The real Church consists of all who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ as his disciples, and are one in love, in character, in hope, in Christ as the head of all, though as the body of Christ it consists of many parts.[7]

Once again, if you hold to the pretribulational view, do you believe that tribulational saints will suffer divine wrath? If you believe that the saints will suffer God’s wrath, then explain how a saved person can suffer divine wrath when Christ has suffered in that person’s stead (John 3:16, 36; Rom. 5:9-11)? How does a pretribulationists explain that the saints in the tribulation have faith in Jesus but they are not a part of the Church? All saints make up the Church universal.

[1] G. L. Archer Jr., Paul D. Feinburg, Douglas J. Moo and Richard R. Reiter, Three Views on the Rapture: Pre-, Mid-, or Post-Tribulation? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), 203.
[2] Ibid., 203.
[3] Gundry and other Postribulationalist point this out.
[4] Moo, 201.
[5]Thomas, Robert L., Th.D., General Editor, New American Standard Updated Edition Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, (Anaheim, CA: Foundation Publications, 1999, c1998), in The New American Standard Electronic Bible Library [CD-ROM] (La Habra, CA: Lockman Foundation, 1999).
[6]Youngblood, Ronald F., General Editor; F.F. Bruce and R.K. Harrison, Consulting Editors, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995) ), in The New American Standard Electronic Bible Library [CD-ROM] (La Habra, CA: Lockman Foundation, 1999).
[7]William Smith; revised and edited by F.N. and M.A. Peloubet, Smith’s Bible Dictionary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997).

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Should we feel guilty for having a Memorial Day?

Memorial Day is when we remember those who died in service to our country. Yet there has been debates for centuries over the issue of how Christians should view war.

There are churches in Iowa called "Church of the Brethren." In their documents they take a non-volence (no war) view.
Action of the 1991 Annual Conference: The report from the General Board study committee on PEACEMAKING" THE CALLING OF GOD'S PEOPLE IN HISTORY [ ] In this document they make bold statements like:
Finally, in 1935, the church declared that "All war is sin," a statement which was conveyed to President Roosevelt and Secretary of State Cordell Hull as war clouds gathered in Europe.
How can they state that all war is sin (when they are a "Christian group")?

From a biblical view we can't say that all war is sin. Check out the following:
  • Exodus 15:1 Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and said, "I will sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted; The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea.
    2 "The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; This is my God, and I will praise Him; My father's God, and I will extol Him.
    3 "The LORD is a warrior; The LORD is His name.
    4 "Pharaoh's chariots and his army He has cast into the sea; And the choicest of his officers are drowned in the Red Sea.

  • Exodus 17:8-9 Then Amalek came and fought against Israel at Rephidim. 9 So Moses said to Joshua, "Choose men for us and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.

  • Deuteronomy 1:29-30 29 "Then I said to you, 'Do not be shocked, nor fear them. 30 'The LORD your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf, just as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes . . .

  • Numbers 1:45 45 So all the numbered men of the sons of Israel by their fathers' households, from twenty years old and upward, whoever was able to go out to war in Israel,

  • Numbers 31:3 3 Moses spoke to the people, saying, "Arm men from among you for the war, that they may go against Midian to execute the LORD'S vengeance on Midian.

  • There were defensive wars in ancient Israel (2 Samuel 5:17-25; I Chronicles 18:1; 2 Samuel 21:15-22).
    2 Sam 5:17 When the Philistines heard that they had anointed David king over Israel, all the Philistines went up to seek out David; and when David heard of it, he went down to the stronghold.
    19 Then David inquired of the LORD, saying, "Shall I go up against the Philistines? Will You give them into my hand?" And the LORD said to David, "Go up, for I will certainly give the Philistines into your hand."
    25 Then David did so, just as the LORD had commanded him, and struck down the Philistines from Geba as far as Gezer.

    Questions to think about:

  • Was it right to stop Japan from killing our American citizens in Hawaii? Yes.

  • Was it a just cause to stop Hitler with military might? Yes.

  • North Korea invaded South Korea with military force on June 25, 1950.
    Was the Korean War (1950–1953) a just war? Yes.
    *A "just war" can be one’s love for their neighbor.

  • Pacifism could result in even more harm to the world because it would give wicked people free reign.

  • If Hitler and his war machine had not been challenged militarily, many more would have died under their oppressive rule.

Dennis Prager had a good article called, Blue America: The land of the easily offended, in which he said:

To cite but one of many examples, take the widely held liberal slogan "War is not the answer." It is pure irrationality. War has ended more evil than anything the left has ever thought of. In the last 60 years alone, it ended Nazism and the Holocaust; it saved half of Korea from genocide; it kept Israel from national extinction and a second Holocaust; it saved Finland from becoming a Stalinist totalitarian state; and according to most of the people who put "War is not the answer" stickers on their bumpers, it saved Bosnian Muslims from ethnic cleansing.

Read the article here:

  • Here are some other articles to check out:

THE CHRISTIAN AND WAR, William D. Barrick, Professor of Old Testament at The Master’s Seminary

The Paradox of War and Pacifism, by Mark T. Clark, Ph.D., past chair of the political science department at California State University, San Bernardino and former faculty member of the University of Southern California, served as a consultant to the U.S. government on National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He has also been a Visiting Scholar at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace. Clark served in the U.S. Marine Corps, 1973-1977.

If you are looking for a good book on ethics, check out John S. and Paul D. Feinberg's, Ethics for a Brave New World (Wheaton: Crossway, 1993). The chapter, "The Christian and War" is really good (pp. 345-382).

Even though Memorial Day is to honor those who died in military service to our country, I want to say thank you to the men and women of our church that have served in the military.

I am thankful to have men in our church that fought during WWII in the thick of the battle to stop Hitler's evil genocidal machine.

I am thankful to have a man in our church that lived in a foxhole in South Korea to help keep the aggressor of North Korea from taking over.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Weigh the Evidence

Living by the principle that I want all of my theological and ethical beliefs to be based on Scripture has challenged me to change some of my views. I came to a posttribulational view after preaching through 1 Thessalonians. At that time I was confronted with the question of why I had always believed in the pretribulational rapture view and one by one my previous view was changed by examining Scripture.

Always reforming to Scripture is not always an easy road to travel. However, if our conscience is captive to the Word of God we must look at the issues at hand and be convinced by the evidence of Scripture. I am aware that those that hold to the Pre-trib view say that they have weighed the evidence. The Assembly of God has a positional paper on the rapture which states, “The weight of Scripture supports a pre-Tribulation Rapture.” [ See the second to the last paragraph ]

The General Association of Regular Baptist also have the Pre-trib view as a part of their doctrinal statement. Here is their statement of faith on this issue:

XIX. Rapture and Subsequent EventsWe believe in the premillennial return of Christ, an event which can occur at any moment, and that at that moment the dead
in Christ shall be raised in glorified bodies, and the living in Christ shall be given glorified bodies without tasting death, and all shall be caught up to meet the Lord in the air before the seven years of the Tribulation. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 51-54; Philippians 3:20, 21; Revelation 3:10.

We believe that the Tribulation, which follows the Rapture of the Church, will be culminated by the revelation of Christ in power and great glory to sit upon the throne of David and to establish the millennial kingdom. Daniel 9:25-27; Matthew 24:29-31; Luke 1:30-33; Isaiah 9:6, 7; 11:1-9; Acts 2:29, 30; Revelation 20:1-4, 6. [ ]

Weigh the evidence from both views as you examine the Scriptures. I don’t think this issue is one to divide over. It is one of those biblical topics that good Christians can disagree upon respectfully. I have good friends that hold to the Pre-trib view and it is not an issue that affects our fellowship.

Yet, if I was a pastor in a church denomination that had a Pre-trib only stance in their doctrinal statement I would have to respectfully remove myself from pastoring that church. I can not sign on to something I don’t believe Scripture teaches.

The timing of the rapture is not an issue to divide over in our church. You can find persons on both sides. Thankfully our statement of faith does not make the timing of the rapture a doctrinal point to divide over. It is listed below:

X. Last Things

God, in His own time and in His own way, will bring the world to its appropriate end. According to His promise, Jesus Christ will return personally and visibly in glory to the earth; the dead will be raised; and Christ will judge all men in righteousness. The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment. The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.

Isaiah 2:4; 11:9; Matthew 16:27; 18:8-9; 19:28; 24:27,30,36,44; 25:31-46; 26:64; Mark 8:38; 9:43-48; Luke 12:40,48; 16:19-26; 17:22-37; 21:27-28; John 14:1-3; Acts 1:11; 17:31; Romans 14:10; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 15:24-28,35-58; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Philippians 3:20-21; Colossians 1:5; 3:4; 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18; 5:1ff.; 2 Thessalonians 1:7ff.; 2; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:1,8; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:27-28; James 5:8; 2 Peter 3:7ff.; 1 John 2:28; 3:2; Jude 14; Revelation 1:18; 3:11;

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Examination of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

1 Thess. 4:13-18: What does it tell us about the timing of the “rapture”?

13 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.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming (parousia) of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.
16 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.
17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together ( harpagēsometha from the verb harpazō) with them in the clouds to meet (apantēsis) the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

The context of this passage begins with Paul saying that “we,” meaning Paul, Silas and Timothy, did not want the Thessalonians to be uninformed over “those who are asleep” (v.13). The living believers seemed to have been worried about those who had already died, probably wondering if they were going to miss out at Christ’s coming. Leon Morris says that the question that occupies our attention is “What becomes of believers who die before the second coming?” and “Did this mean that they had lost their share in the events associated with that great day?”[1] Ernest Best in his commentary writes,

Some of the Thessalonian Christians have died and their friends and relations an are worried about their position when Christ returns: will their death place them at a disadvantage compared with those who are still alive? Paul’s primary purpose in writing is not to enunciate doctrine but to reassure them in respect of this; to do so he has however to tell them something more about the parousia: there is no need to worry for when Jesus comes he will have the dead with him (vv.13f); he confirms this with a saying of the Lord which includes a description of the parousia (vv. 15-17).[2]

Thomas R. Schreiner in his excellent book on Paul’s theology writes concerning 1 Thess. 4:13-18,

The inexperieced believers at Thessalonica were distressed because some of their believing loved ones had died before the coming of the Lord. Apparently there were persuaded that those who were deceased would suffer some disadvantage because they died before the second coming.[3]
Here is the key: Just because believers die before the second coming of Jesus, does not mean that they will miss out on that glorious event. Paul emphatically makes a point that they will rise first; then we who are alive will be caught up (raptured). As Morris points out, “It is their share in the events of that great day that is in view. It is best to understand the words to mean that Jesus will bring the faithful departed with him when he comes back. Their death does not mean that they will miss their share in the Parousia.”[4] This should have brought great comfort to the Thessalonians. Paul informed them so that they would not grieve as those who had no hope. Paul states that God will bring with Jesus “those who have fallen asleep in Jesus” (v.14). So far the text is just saying that deceased believers will come back with Jesus. Paul explains that we who are alive and remain until the coming (parousia) of the Lord, will not precede those who have already died (v.15). While trying to bring comfort (1 Thess. 4:18), Paul is telling them not to worry because those who have died will rise first (see the diagram at the end of this paper). When we die we are absent from the body and present with the Lord (2 Cor. 5:6-8; Phil. 1:21-ff).

There is nothing in this passage about a pretribulation rapture. When Paul said, “we who are alive and remain until the coming (parousia) of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep,” he uses the word parousia meaning “coming,” “arrival,” or “presence.”[5] There is no reason why they would not be thinking that this is the second coming in glory after the tribulation.

In the Gospel of Matthew, we find the disciples and Jesus using the same word for his second appearance. “When will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming (parousia) and of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:3). Jesus said: “As the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so will be the coming (parousia) of the Son of Man” (Matt. 24:27); “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming (parousia) of the Son of Man” (Matt 24:37); and after describing the life of the people before the flood who were unaware that anything would happen until the flood came and took them all away, Jesus adds, “That is how it will be at the coming (parousia) of the Son of Man” (Matt. 24:39). In the context of Thessalonians, how else would they have understood the parousia? The parousia is mentioned two other times in 1 Thessalonians. In 1 Thess. 2:19-20 Paul asked a rhetorical question: “For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming (parousia)? Then 1 Thess. 3:13 says “…that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming (parousia) of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.”

When Paul spoke of Jesus slaying the antichrist, saying the Lord will slay the lawless one with the breath of His mouth “and bring [him] to an end by the appearance of His coming (parousia)” (2 Thess. 2:8), he uses the Greek word parousivan (parousia). Everyone agrees that this passage is referring an event after the tribulation. There is no reason to split the second coming up into two different segments or to understand the 1 Thessalonian passage as teaching something happening before the tribulation. The burden of proof is on the pre-trib position to reveal just one scripture that place the parousia before the tribulation.[6]

1 Thess. 4:17 reads, “Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together ( harpagēsometha) with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.” The Greek word that Paul used was, harpagēsometha, from the verb harpazō. In the Latin translation of the Scriptures, where the words in English are “caught up together,” the Latin reads “rapio,” from which we get the English word rapture. The Greek verb harpazō is found at least thirteen times in the New Testament. It simple means “to grab or seize by force, with the purpose of removing and/or controlling - 'to seize, to snatch away, to take away.'”[7] Both Pretrib and Posttrib positions agree with the concept of literal rapture.

The “rapture” as described in 1 Thess. 4:17 is simply the catching up of believer’s to meet Christ in the air at his coming (parousia). 1 Thess. 4:13-18 fits quite well with a posttribulational understanding. Although this passage does not mention the tribulation, it is obvious that Paul says that the resurrection/rapture happens at the second coming (parousia) of Christ. Schreiner writes, “Since the Thessalonians were worried that their deceased loved ones would be at some disadvantage when Jesus returned, Paul emphasizes the order of events at Jesus’ coming (1 Thess 4:15-17). At Jesus’ coming dead believers will arise first, and then the living will be snatched up to join the Lord in the clouds. When Jesus returns, living saints will not precede those who have died.”[8] However, the pre-trib position will declare that the church is raptured seven years prior to the final earth shattering, end time consummation of the glorious return of the Lord Jesus Christ. There are text that clearly put the parousia after the tribulation and the burden of proof is for the pre-trib position to show one verse that places the parousia before the tribulation. If the pre-trib view is correct, we will see later that the early church missed the teaching of a pre-trib rapture from their familiarity with the words of Paul and Jesus.

One of the big hang ups that I had with the post-trib view, was the idea of a great U-turn in the sky. It just did not make sense. However, I had the presupposition that the “Church” was not going to be in the tribulation; therefore I did not even try to understand the post-Trib position. 1 Thess.4:17 says that we will be “caught up (raptured) together to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.” The Greek word for “meet” as F. F. Bruce has stated is used,

When a dignitary paid an official visit or parousia to a city in Hellenistic times, the action of the leading citizens in going out to meet him and escorting him on the final stage of his journey was called the apantesis; it is similarly used in Mt. 25:6; Acts 28:15. So the Lord is pictured as escorted to the earth by His people —those newly raised from death and those who have remained alive.[9]
The Greek word for “meet” (apantesis) is used this way twice in the New Testament. Luke used the word this way in Acts 28:14-16, “There we found some brethren, and were invited to stay with them for seven days; and thus we came to Rome. And the brethren, when they heard about us, came from there as far as the Market of Appius and Three Inns to meet (from the word apantesis) us; and when Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage. When we entered Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him.” The people went out to meet Paul only to return right back to Rome with him. It is true that this word does not always have this connotation with it. The 1 Thessalonian passage has all of the ingredients for apantesis to be used of believers meeting Jesus in the air only to return with him in his second coming glory. You have Jesus Christ returning on a white horse, which conquering kings would do. He is accompanied with his saints. Ladd comments that, “The ‘shout,’ ‘voice,’ and ‘trumpet’ have led some postribulationists to mock at a secret, pretribulational rapture by saying that this is the noisiest passage in the Bible.”[10] This all fits quite well with the words of Jesus in describing the posttribulational coming (Matt 24:29-31).

29 But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.31 And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
Since Jesus will return to Jerusalem to set up his millennial kingdom[11], one can picture millions of Christians world wide (“from the four winds”) needing to be gathered together with the Lord in the air in order to accompany him as he lands in Jerusalem (correlating 1 Thess. 4:16-17; Matt. 24:29-31; Acts 1:9-12; Rev. 1:8; 19:11-16 and Zech. 14:1-11).

This author does not see a secret rapture in this Thessalonian text. Paul is addressing the Thessalonian’s concern about the believers missing out at the glorious second coming (parousia) of the Lord. There is no need to be concerned, the dead in Christ will be returning with Christ and will get their resurrected bodies first and then those alive at that great event will meet Christ in the air. As Michael Martin states in his commentary, “Ultimately, those who have died and those living at the parousia will join the Lord as a single great company.”[12] Martin does mention that there are some forms of premillennialism that see the church through out a seven year tribulation and those who hold to the view that the rapture of the church will be separate from the parousia by seven years.[13] Now, this author is going to quote a large section from Martin that directly follows his statement about the different views of the rapture and second coming because it demonstrates that there are able scholars that are not in line with your typical pretrib view. Martin writes:

Although we cannot settle such far-reacing matters in this context, we must note that our present passage does ot seem to present the event depicted in vv. 16-17 as one preceding a separate from the parousia, the day of the Lord (cf. 5:4-9). First, in v. 15 Paul explicitly termed the event he was describing the “coming” (parousia) of the Lord and linked the same term with final judgment (2 Thess 2:8; cf. 1 Thess 2:19). Since Paul did not predict two parousias, then the one event must encompass both the gathering of the church and final judgment. Second, v. 17 does not require the removal of the church from the world. It is in fact open-ended, describing nothing beyond the gathering of the church other than the fact of continuing in the presence of the Lord. Finally, vv. 15-17 seem to be cast in language and images depicting the arrival of a grand dignitary. The heralds announce his coming. The crowds surge out of their city to meet him and celebrate his arrival. At this point such a dignitary would not take the crowd with him and leave. Rather, the crowd would escort him into the city. In other words, the most likely way to complete the scenario Paul painted is by assuming that after assembling his people Christ would not leave but would proceed with his parousia. What our passage depicts is not the removal of the church but the early stages of the day of the Lord.[14]

[1] Leon Morris, The First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament Series, Revised Edition (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991), 135.
[2] Ernest Best, A Commentary on the First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians (New York: Harper and Row, 1972), 180.
[3] Thomas R. Schreiner, Paul, Apostle of God’s Glory in Christ: a Pauline Theology (Downers Grove: Ill: InterVaristy, 2001), 459. Thomas Schreiner is professor of New Testament at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky.
[4] Morris, 140.
[5] Bauer, Walter, Gingrich, F. Wilbur, and Danker, Frederick W., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), 635.
[6] There will be a later study of the word “parousia”.
[7] J. P. Louw and E. A. Nida, Louw-Nida Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains; 2nd ed, from BibleWorks version 6.0 (Big Fork MT: Hermeneutika Bible Research Software) CD-ROM.
[8] Schreiner, Paul, 460.
[9] Bruce, “1 Thessalonians,” in New Bible Commentary, ed. Donald Guthrie, et al. Third Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1970), 1159
[10]George Eldon Ladd, The Blessed Hope (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956), 104.
[11] We will have to deal with this issue another time.
[12] Martin, 1 Thessalonians, 148.
[13] Ibid, 154.
[14] Ibid, 154-155. When this author, Kendall Adams, read commentaries like Martin’s, it fit like a glove to the text. Martin’s treatment of this passage laid a major blow to my pretrib understanding by solid Bible interpretation. I recommend that those who read this paper would study this text thoroughly and see if it is right. If it is not right, then please write a good response that deals with this text.

Monday, May 14, 2007

posttrib, pretrib, midtrib, pantrib?

The following series of post will be an examination of the timing of the rapture. It started out as an e-mail response to a friend that was inquiring about why I was convinced of a posttribulational rapture at Jesus’ second coming and I have continued to add to it.

It is my hope that this paper will be helpful in understanding the timing of the rapture and the Scriptural proof that the rapture is a posttribulational event—at the literal, visible, glorious coming of the Lord Jesus. I came to a posttribulational view after preaching through 1 Thessalonians. At that time I was confronted with the question of why I had always believed in the pretribulational rapture view. My goal in writing this response is to show the evidence for the posttributional view of the rapture so that friends and acquaintances will be better prepared for the possibility of having to live through the tribulation. Another reason for this paper is to foster more light and less heat when persons disagree with one another over the timing of the rapture.

What are the practical implications of holding to pretribulationalism (pre-trib) or postribulationalism (post-trib)? Is there any harm being done if there are those in a single church who believe differently about the timing of the rapture and have decided to disagree in a brotherly kind of way? If one believes that the Bible teaches that Christ will return at the end of the tribulation, and in reality it happens at the beginning of the tribulation, what harm has been done? Some might say that the harm being done is that they are teaching an untruth, but all sides could claim this.

On the other hand, what if the pre-trib view is wrong? What if the tribulation starts and we are all still here? Picture millions of believers who had been taught only one view all of their life only to find out that it was wrong. Would many of these people be spiritually prepared and alert, or would they be dismayed because they realize they are now living in the tribulation time? Hopefully if the pre-trib view is wrong, many believers will just acknowledge that they were wrong and continue to put their hope in the glorious appearing of Jesus who will give them relief and will deal out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel (2 Thess 1:7-8). Hopefully they will be excited about the fact that he will come to be glorified in his saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed ( 2 Thess. 1:10).

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

The Eyes Have It

"To suppose that the eye with all its inimitable contrivances for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree." (Darwin, C.R., "The Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection," 1872, Sixth Edition, Senate: London, 1994, pp.142-143. My emphasis)
"Well, what seems to me the weakest point in the book is the attempt to account for the formation of organs, the making of eyes, &c., by natural selection." [Gray A., letter to Darwin C.R., January 23rd, 1860] "...About the weak points I agree. The eye to this day gives me a cold shudder, but when I think of the fine known gradations, my reason tells me I ought to conquer the cold shudder." (Darwin C.R., Letter to Asa Gray, February, 1860, in Darwin, F., ed., "The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin," [1898], Basic Books: New York NY, Vol. II., 1959, reprint, pp.66-67)
"The hearing ear and the seeing eye, The LORD has made both of them" (Proverbs 20:12)

". . . He who formed the eye, does He not see?" (Psalm 94:9)

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