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Anti-PreTrib Rapture “Gotcha” Gimmicks

Cover

Excerpted from my book: Israel’s Tribulation is NOT for the Body of Christ – Dr. Mike Johnston

During negotiations with the Soviet Union, President Reagan coined the phrase “trust, but verify”. While that’s a wonderful safeguard strategy to employ in international relations, it is also an extremely important principle when studying the Bible – especially as it pertains to the subjects in this book.

In my opening pages, I shared with you how I began early on in my Christian life studying Scripture. This soon led me to the end times; including the tribulation, mark of the beast, the Antichrist, and a supposed satanic plot that surfaced early in the 19th century known as the PreTrib rapture. Make no mistake. My peers ground their teeth over this convinced all PreTrib rapture advocates were cohorts of the devil and on their way to eternal hell.

This became my motivation for scratching for information that could help me destroy this deception and all these deceivers. [1] It wasn’t long before I uncovered some of the gimmicks outlined in this chapter.

Please understand. Every one of the following ploys presupposes the church Body is on earth during Israel’s Tribulation even though indisputable Scriptural evidence has NEVER surfaced to place us here. The first two artifices discussed are the most often used. They are also twists of the same lie; that the PreTrib rapture didn’t exist until early in the 19th century.

Gotcha Gimmick:
“The Rapture was never taught until 1830”

Not true! Here’s the gist of the accusation: the PreTrib rapture didn’t exist until about 1830 [the next gimmick will elaborate a bit more]. It is by far the most abused allegation in the rapture antagonist anthology. Although the problems this presents are myriad, I’ll boil them down to two: First, it’s a lie with verifiable evidence from extant writings enclosed in the next pages. Second, even it were true, it censures prophecy in Daniel where God promises in the last days to reveal to us truth previously hidden.

“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased(Daniel 12:4).

“And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.  (35)  And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed … And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.  (10)  Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand(Daniel 11:33, 35; 12:9-10).

John Bray’s boasting

One of the most brazen uses of this originated with a Southern Baptist evangelist named John L. Bray who was so certain the PreTrib rapture was a hoax that he offered $500 to anyone with evidence that the PreTrib rapture teaching existed before 1830. While this was an undeniable showstopper in rapture arguments, I later uncovered a flaw in it my friends never disclosed:

It’s a bald-faced lie!

While continuing to research the rapture origin, Bray happened upon a writing obliterating his previous thinking: “… my own research indicated that it was Emmanuel Lacunza, a Jesuit Catholic priest, who [wrote the] book The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty, that first taught this theory.” [2]

Although Bray’s admission is admirable, he was after all an ardent PreTrib antagonist determined to undermine the PreTrib hope. Therefore, he re-dated his stunt and renewed his reward. “I offered $500 to anyone who would give a documented statement earlier than Lacunza’s time which taught a two-stage coming of Christ separated by a stated period of time.”

And he was wrong again.

It isn’t clear whether Bray was lamenting or lauding the new evidence in the following admission, “Now I have the Photostat copies of a book published in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1788 but written in 1742-1744 in England, which taught the preTribulation rapture before Lacunza.” [3]

As much as these facts disturb our rapture rivals – and make no mistake, IT DOES – it is now very well known that the PreTrib rapture was taught until the 4th century insurgence of Augustinian Amillennialism Postmillennialism heresy diffused and replaced it. (see Appendix [i] research of Doc Marquis).

Here are a few examples of  early church writings: 

Irenaeus – 130-202 AD

Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp. Polycarp learned his Christian faith from the apostle John, “…the disciple whom Jesus loved…” (John 21:7). As well as writing the gospel that bears his name and a number of early letters, John wrote the Book of Revelation. Irenaeus later became bishop of the church in Lyons, France and is famous for his five volume treatise, Against Heresies, which described and challenged all false teaching from the emerging cults of his day.

Irenaeus believed in the three and a half year reign of the Antichrist as ruler of the world before the Second Coming of Christ. He also believed in a literal millennial reign of Christ on earth following the Second Coming and in the resurrection of the just. Irenaeus also believed in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church. In Against Heresies 5:29 he wrote: “And therefore, when in the end the Church shall be suddenly caught up from this, it is said, ‘There shall be tribulation such as has not been since the beginning, neither shall be.’ For this is the last contest of the righteous, in which, when they overcome they are crowned with incorruption.”

Note Irenaeus’ use of the “caught up.” It is the exact same Rapture terminology used in 1 Thessalonians 4. The word used is 1 Thessalonians 4, is “harpazo”, meaning to be “caught up.” Irenaeus believed that the Rapture of the Church occurred prior to Israel’s Tribulation.

Ephraem the Syrian – 306-373 AD

As early as the 4th century a PreTrib rapture exponent nicknamed Pseudo-Ephraem wrote this: “All the saints and elect of God are gathered together before the tribulation, which is to come, and are taken to the Lord, in order that they may not see at any time the confusion which overwhelms the world because of our sins.” [4]

Actually, Ephraem the Syrian was not alone in interpreting Bible prophecy literally in his day.

He was living one generation from the era of Augustine (354-430), whenever there was a dramatic change. When Ephraem died in 373, Augustine was 19 years old. It was in the era of Augustine that allegoricalism widely replaced the previous method of interpretation. Prior to this, it was common among Bible believers to interpret prophecy literally. They believed that Christ would return literally (and imminently), bind Satan, and establish a literal millennial kingdom (see end time’s kingdom in Dan. 2:44; 7:13-14) on earth.

Attested by scholars, historians, and theologians

Scholar William Newell wrote, “The early Church for 300 years looked for the imminent return of our Lord to reign, and they were right” (Newell, Revelation).

Historian Phillip Schaaf said, “… the most striking point in the eschatology of the ante-Nicene age [prior to AD 325] is the prominent chiliasm, or millennarianism, that is the belief of a visible reign of Christ in glory on earth with the risen saints for a thousand years, before the general resurrection and judgment” (History of the Christian Church, 8 vols, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1960, 2:614).

Theologian Dr. Henry Thiessen agrees with Newell and Schaaf, “It is clear … that the Fathers held not only the pre-millennial view of Christ’s coming, but also regarded that coming as imminent. The Lord had taught them to expect His return at any moment, and so they looked for Him to come in their day. Not only so, but they also taught His personal return as being immediately, with the exception of the Alexandrian Fathers, who also rejected other fundamental doctrines … The early Church was keenly interested in the doctrine of the return of Christ. The Apostles had held out the possibility of His returning in their day, and the next generations kept alive the “blessed hope” as something that was imminent. Not until the third century was there any great exception to this rule; but from the time of Constantine onward this truth began to be rejected until it was finally entirely set aside” (Thiessen, Introductory Lectures in Systematic Theology, p. 477, 441).

Gotcha Gimmick:
The rapture is a satanic hoax conjured up

by Margaret MacDonald, pilfered by JN Darby,

and published by CI Scofield

While claiming their fight has a Biblical basis, the main evidence anti-PreTribbers proffer is far from sola scriptura. It has risen instead on the back of untruthful accusations disguised as “scholarship” from disgruntled men conflating God’s plan for Israel with His plan for the church that over time has proven to be part of an irrational but profitable scheme with motives that are suspect first surfacing about 40 years ago.

The anti-PreTrib conspiracy begins with a neurotic[5] rapture-loathing news reporter named Dave MacPherson who in the 1970s began taking and twisting into books the undocumented claims of Textus Receptus enemy Samuel Tregelles. At this writing, MacPherson [6] has parlayed his hatred for the rapture into a lucrative book franchise. Using the same material over and over but under separate titles like “The Incredible Cover-Up”, [7] “The Great Rapture Hoax”, “The Rapture Plot”, MacPherson alleges – without indisputable proof – that the PreTrib rapture is a pervasive fraud that didn’t exist until 1830 when Margaret MacDonald [8] – a demon possessed charismatic member of Edward Irving’s[9] Catholic Apostolic Church[10] – conjured it up in a vision. [11] Then, according to MacPherson’s mythos, dispensational scholar John Nelson Darby pilfered it [12] for CI Scofield to publish in his reference Bible as part of a sinister plot the two cooked up to deceive Christians for no apparent reason other than the indescribable joy both men received from misleading people.[13]

The problems MacPherson’s misrepresentations present are deep, wide, and insurmountable. If there was any evidence anywhere linking Darby [14] and Scofield to MacDonald or her charismatic trance and utterances, researchers would have discovered it; especially John Bray who searched every nook and cranny and ultimately penned this,

“[Darby] rejected those practices, and he already had his new view of the Lord coming FOR THE SAINTS (as contrasted to the later coming to the earth) which he had believed since 1827. It was the coupling of this “70th week of Daniel” prophecy and its futuristic interpretation, with the teaching of the “secret rapture,” that gave to us the completed “Pre-Tribulation Secret Rapture” teaching as it has now been taught for many years. . . . (and) makes it impossible for me to believe that Darby got his Pre-Tribulation Rapture teaching from Margaret MacDonald’s vision in 1830. He was already a believer in it since 1827, as he plainly said.”[15]

The fact is, no one – including Tregelles, MacPherson, nor any of their lackey loyalists – has ever provided a shred of credible proof linking Darby or Scofield directly to plagiarizing MacDonald or to any of these appalling activities. Researcher Frank Marotta adds this: “The importance MacPherson places on The Rapture Plot reveals his spiritual condition. … It is significant that MacPherson is the lone “historian” who has argued a connection between Macdonald and Darby. Considering that there have been numerous historical examinations of both the Irvingites and the Brethren, yet MacPherson stands alone in exposing the “plot,” is rather a testimony to polemical bias, not the facts. Those anti-pretribulationists who have adopted MacPherson’s revision have done so merely on the basis of his word, not as a result of original research.” [16]

Commenting on the entire farce, Dr. John Walvoord wrote, “The whole controversy as aroused by Dave MacPherson’s claims has so little supporting evidence … one wonders how he can write his book with a straight face.” Walvoord continues, “PreTribulationists should be indebted to Dave MacPherson for exposing the facts, namely, that there is no proof that MacDonald … originated the preTribulation rapture teaching.” [17]

The outcome of MacPherson’s ruse reminds me of the book of Esther. Haman was a pompous prevaricating political insider who over estimated his value to the king. He was also a rabid anti-Semite who in a fit of rage ordered gallows built to lynch his nemesis, Esther’s uncle Mordecai. Ironically, once the king discovered Haman’s lies, the nefarious accommodations he’d built for Mordecai served quite adequately to hang Haman and his household instead. Divine reciprocity at its best!

In my opinion, MacPherson did the same thing using his mendacity as the gallows to marginalize or destroy hope in the PreTrib rapture. Surely as a seasoned reporter, he must have expected the scrutiny from PreTrib scholars he received from Dr. Walvoord and others [18]. However, how could he foresee the backlash from fellow post trib journalists he thought would cover for him? After examining his spurious allegations, they did the unthinkable; they stood him up by unmasking his deception in full view of everyone paying attention. [19]

We should do no less.

Gotcha Gimmick:
“The word Rapture isn’t used in the Bible”

Although this partially true, it’s extremely thin. While “rapture” is NOT mentioned in the King James Bible, it is a transliteration of the Latin word rapturo from 1 Thessalonians 4:17 where Paul used the Greek harpadzo translated “caught up” in the KJV.

Now think about something. Does a subject have to be specifically mentioned in the KJV in order to be true? Find the word “trinity” or “grandpa”.

Gotcha Gimmick:
“The rapture teaches easy escapism”

Here’s a pejorative containing a splash of truth. The fact is, the Christian faith is itself an escape from future judgment, the punishment of Hell, and the Lake of Fire God created for the devil and his followers (Matt. 25:41). Now, let’s take this a step further.

Gotcha Gimmick:
“The words saints, elect, and disciples used in connection with Israel’s Tribulation include the church Body”

Wrong! Here’s a prime example of shoddy research linking arms with willful ignorance. In order to make their theories work, our adversaries exploit the conventional division between the Testaments,[20] which allows them to assign partisan definitions to three key words that in context deserve no such treatment: saints, elect, and disciple(s). Once again hoping trust and verify WON’T make its way into your thinking.

Saint(s)

Our adversaries cavalierly claim the church Body is on earth during Israel’s Tribulation because Daniel and Revelation both use the word saints. After studying the word, it is becomes clear that their misuse is a prime example of eisegesis advanced by those with a conclusion hunting for a gimmick to confirm it. Unfortunately, in the mind of those who don’t study, they found one!

Webster’s Dictionary 1828 defines saint as a generic term meaning “sacred, holy, or set apart”. On its own, it doesn’t designate either Israel or the church Body therefore context is crucial unless an agenda is being followed.

Hermeneutics are vital to interpretation. The first mention of saints in both Old and New Testaments are in connection with Israel.

OT: Deuteronomy 33:1-3  And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death.  (2)  And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them.  (3)  Yea, he loved the people; all his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; every one shall receive of thy words.

NY: Matthew 27:52-53  And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,  (53)  And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.

Saints in Daniel and Revelation

Anyone studying Daniel and Revelation in context knows that references to saints can’t include the mystery church Body. The church Body was a mystery Daniel knew nothing about. Moreover, his prophecies consistently identify his subject as Israel “thy people”. (Study “thy people” references: Daniel 9:15,16,19,24; 10:14; 11:14; 12:1).

Remember, Revelation fully explains what Daniel first exposed. As such, it is the “full color” expansion of Daniel’s prophecies to Israel. Therefore, using the hermeneutic comparative mention principle, we must interpret the terms, prophecies, and imagery in Revelation in light of Daniel’s definitions. For instance, the 10-horned Beast in Daniel 7 and Revelation 13 are the same. They both blaspheme God and make war with the saints (Rev. 13:5-6, Daniel 7:8, 20, 25; Rev. 13:2, Daniel 7:21). These saints in Daniel which are Jews (Daniel 7:18,21,22,25,27; 8:13) are the same saints in the companion book of Revelation (Revelation 5:8; 8:3,4; 11:18; 13:7,10; 14:12; 15:3; 16:6; 17:6; 18:24; 19:8; 20:9). Finally, the return – aka  Revelation of Christ, the Son of Man in Daniel 7 and Revelation 19 are describing the same event.

Now answer honestly this question: Why would Daniel’s prophecies which did not include the church Body suddenly include the church Body when they are fulfilled in Revelation?

Hint: They wouldn’t!

Daniel writes: “These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth [Daniel addressed the influence of the beast over earth]. But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever. Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet; And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows. I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them” (Daniel 7:17-21).

In Revelation John writes: “And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea [John addressed the sea of people on earth comprising the Beast], having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his horns ten crowns, and upon his heads the name of blasphemy” (Revelation 13:1).

“And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:7-8).

Elect

Our adversaries also claim the church Body is on earth during Israel’s Tribulation because the Lord Jesus used the term elect when explaining signs surrounding His return to set up Israel’s Kingdom in His Olivet Discourse to Israel. Once again, we have a clear misrepresentation of an important word in order to support a contrarian agenda.

Webster’s Dictionary 1828 defines elect in generic terms “to designate, choose or select as an object of mercy or favor.” Like saint, is not an automatic term for the church Body as our adversaries infer.

Elect in the Olivet Discourse to Israel

“And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect (Matthew 24:22-24).

Once again, hermeneutic principles help disprove their theory.

The first mention of elect in the Old Testament addresses Israel under the Old Covenant (Isa. 42:1; 44:9). The first mention in the New Testament is from the Olivet Discourse where the Lord Jesus is also addressing Israel under the Old Covenant: “Throughout the Olivet Discourse,” Dr. Chafer explains, “Christ refers to Israel as the elect. The most casual contemplation of this discourse (Mat. 24:1-25:46) will disclose the truth that only Israel is in view as the elect of God. Similarly, a revealing Scripture from Paul (Rom. 9:1-10:4) sets forth the truth respecting Israel’s election. Too often this portion of Scripture has been applied to believers today who comprise the Church. The salient facts in the case which make it impossible, however, are that in Israel’s election there is a national objective and that an individual Jew, though belonging to the elect nation, did not have any personal election assured him. God is thus sovereign in His dealings with Israel. He disregards the enmity and hatred of the nations as they resent the fact of Israel’s election. The election is made a public matter, indeed, for Jehovah selects, preserves, and defends this one people out of all the nations of the earth. They are His “chosen people” above all the nations and chosen specifically for His glory. In relation to Israel’s election, then, God acts in sovereign authority. All other nations must eventually take a subordinate place. During Israel’s kingdom on earth, accordingly, the nation or peoples that will not serve Israel shall perish (Isa_14:1-2; Isa_60:12). No true interpretation of the Old Testament is possible if the fact of Israel’s national, sacred, eternal election be rejected.” (Systematic Theology, 1948)

Now answer honestly another question: Why would the Lord Jesus speaking under the Old Covenant to Israel while quoting Daniel’s prophecies – which did not include the church Body –suddenly include the church Body in this Jewish setting where He outlined with signs His return to inaugurate the Kingdom?

Hint: It wouldn’t!

Disciple(s)

Our opponents tell us the Body of Christ is on earth during Israel’s tribulation because the Lord Jesus was referring to the church Body when He used the word disciple(s) in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:1, 3). However, they are wrong for many reasons including the following.

To begin with, they violate the Context Principle to advance their pretext. This is done by ignoring the nagging Jewish setting surrounding the Olivet Discourse that extinguishes their assumptions. In it Jesus answered questions presented by Peter, James, John, and Andrew (Mark 13:3) concerning His return to inaugurate the Kingdom (see end time’s kingdom in Dan. 2:44; 7:13-14) with carefully outlined signs preceding it. The message had nothing to do with the Body of Christ which was unknown at that time to the disciples who therefore had no frame of reference [21] for it whatsoever (Gal. 2:6-9; 2 Pet. 3:15-16).

By ignoring and downplaying the context – which is Jewish – our opponents have been free to pull from it a single word – disciple – to use as proof for their hypothesis that frankly falls flat under examination.

The word disciple is another generic term meaning “learner.”[22] Dr. Chafer confirms this, “(Disciple) is not equivalent to the terminology believer or Christian.” (Systematic Theology, 1948).

Using hermeneutics again, the first appearance of the word disciple also disproves their theory.

In both the Old and New Testaments describes Jews following God’s law (Isa. 8:16; Matt. 5:1). Disciple(s) is used used 274 times in our King James Bible and over 240 of those occurances appear in the Gospels to describe Jewish followers of Christ. Interestingly, the specific designation of “His disciples” and “the disciples” is used 210 times. The remainder of occurences appear in Acts where it describes early believers linked to the first church of Jerusalem. It is seldom if ever used in Acts in reference to what Paul later revealed as the mystery Body of Christ.

You may be surprised to learn that while connected in Acts to the Jewish church the term disciple is changed to Christian in Antioch (Acts 11:26) after the conversion and ongoing involvment of Paul, our apostle – who was charged with providing the aggregate body of mystery information. However, we find it very strange that if the term “disciple” is to be the definitive moniker of the Body of Christ solely from inferrences in the Olivet Discourse as our adversaries want us to believe, why didn’t Paul use the term “disciple” in any of his 13 letters of doctrine and duty when referring to the Body of Christ (Romans through Philemon).

Based on the facts as they are the terms saints, elect, and disciples referred to in Daniel, the Olivet Discourse, and Revelation are at best generic that while linked to Israel, do conclusively identify or implicate the church Body of Christ.

Gotcha Gimmick:
“The PreTrib rapture gives false hope
and those preaching it are reprobates”

Right division reveals this as another baseless accusation by association. To begin with, ignoring context highlights the other side who refuse to recognize that the false prophets were out of fellowship with God, were NOT preaching His Word, and were making excuses for Israel’s sin by softening and denying God’s judgment. And God rebuked them.

Second, this allegation treats Israel’s Tribulation like a kind of Romanist purgatory that requires the Body of Christ to prove herself thereby redeem herself. Hogwash!

Third, this false charge presupposes Israel’s Tribulation – which exists in the prophetic word for Israel (Deut. 4:30-31) – was somewhere consigned to the mystery Body of Christ. It never was.

Finally, may I say first off that all those spreading this specious accusation do so as a wholesale indictment upon the moral character of every preacher that teaches the PreTrib rapture hope.

Right division reveals that since Israel’s Tribulation is part of Israel’s prophecy program and the Body of Christ is from mystery not prophecy and therefore was never mentioned by a single prophet and cannot be seen anywhere on earth during Israel’s Tribulation, the only logical conclusion is that we are not here for a single moment of Israel’s Tribulation. Let me say this once again. There isn’t a verse anywhere in the King James Bible clearly and indisputably placing the Body of Christ on earth for a single moment of Daniel’s seventieth week (Dan. 9:24-27) without redefining the words “saints” and “elect”, which in Daniel, the Olivet Discourse and Revelation s are specifically linked to Israel in Israel’s Tribulation prophesied for her (Deut. 4:30-31).

Gotcha Gimmick:
“The Bible doesn’t teach imminency”

Honesty with Scripture proves this is utter nonsense! This argument is used in a myriad of ways by PreTrib antagonists in the advancement of their scheme. They begin with the notion that the early church didn’t teach imminence and yet their greeting proves otherwise: Maranatha (James 5:9; Rev. 3:11; 1 John 3:2-3).  Dr. Walvoord quotes the Didache (apostolic teachings) dated about 100-120 A.D., which contains the exhortation: “Watch for your life’s sake. Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ye ready, for ye know not the hour in which our Lord cometh.”

Paul didn’t believe in imminence since he was told he had to go to Rome to preach: Phil. 4:5. This is preposterous. Paul often taught believers to look for Christ and be ready for His any moment return. The fact is, while God ordered many things in Scripture, He also  adjusted His plans according to His will (“it repented the Lord”, etc). Paul was merely being obedient to the divine prerogative. Peter didn’t believe in imminence because he was told he would die: First Pet. 4:7. See comment above.

I’ve listed a few examples of an any moment expectation of the Lord Jesus’ return for His church:

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:3).

“And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed” (Rom. 13:11).

“So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1:7).

“For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come” (1 Cor. 11:26).

“Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed (52) In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51-52).

“For our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. (Phil. 4:5) Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand” (Phil. 3:20).

“And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10).

“Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:17).

“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ”.

Gotcha Gimmick:
“The Last Trumpet of First Corinthians 15:52
is the Seventh Trumpet of Revelation”

A random statement issued with contempt for context! Those who hold to a midTribulation rapture teach that the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11:15 and the last trumpet of First Corinthians 15:52 and First Thessalonians 4:16 are identical. Those who teach a preTribulation rapture identify them as separate events. What difference does it make, and how can we know the truth?

Why does it matter whether or not the trumpets are the same? God has given us His Word as the revelation of His plan of redemption, and that plan covers everything from creation to the new creation. Deuteronomy 29:29 says “the secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.” There are many things that God has chosen to reveal to us, and it is important for us to understand them so that we can obey Him. We don’t always understand why He does things, but we are called to trust Him for the parts we don’t understand, and to study to understand the rest. As we look at the texts about these trumpets, it becomes clear that they are part of a chronology that God has given us of events in the last days. Whether or not we are still living when those events come to pass, they involve us, so we ought to know what God has revealed to us.

The book of Revelation has sometimes been viewed as a book of mystery, yet the title itself implies something brought out of hiding. More specifically, it is “the revelation of Jesus Christ… to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass” (Revelation 1:1). God wants us to know what is going to happen, so we can be prepared, and to help us in calling others to repentance. Beginning in chapter 6, we are given a chronological record of things that will happen in the last days. There is a series of seven seals, then a series of seven trumpets, then a series of seven bowls of wrath. We read in Revelation 11:15, “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.’” In the context, this clearly seems to come around the middle of Israel’s Tribulation period.

First Corinthians 15

In First Corinthians 15, Paul is writing to believers concerning the transition from this life to eternal life. Our mortal bodies will be transformed into immortal, incorruptible bodies, prepared for the eternal kingdom of God. Verse 52 says, “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” Paul addresses the same subject to the Thessalonians, and specifically connects it with the (Rapture) of Christ. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (First Thessalonians 4:16-17).

There is no question that God has revealed these things to us, and that He intends for us to be encouraged and instructed by them. The question is whether they are the same. If they are the same, then the rapture of the church happens in the middle of the Tribulation period, and saints need to be prepared to endure those trials. If they are not the same, then we need to know when the last trump will sound, so that we can be prepared for it. In order to find out whether they are the same, we can compare the events they are associated with by looking at this chart once again.

Chart: Rapture and Revelation Trumpet Comparison

Events First Thessalonians 4

Mystery Program

Written: 54:AD

First Corinthians 15

Mystery Program Written: 59 AD

Revelation 11

Prophecy Program

Written: 90-95 AD

Trumpet sound

Dead saints raised

Living saints changed

Death overcome by victory

Jesus descends from Heaven

Kingdoms of the world taken over by Christ

Wrath of God on dead

Rewards given to saints

Intended result

v. 16

v. 16

v. 17

v. 14

 

v. 16

 

 

v. 52

v. 52

v. 52

v. 54

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

v. 57-58

v.15

 

 

 

 

Rev. 19:11 no trump

 

v.15

 

 

v. 18

v. 18

 

Chart adapted from gotquestions.com

 

In all three accounts, the trumpet is a commonality. However, there are evidential discrepancies between Paul’s trumpet accounts and John’s. Paul describes saints caught up and transforming while John does not. John describes the kingdom finalized while Paul does not. Accounting for this is the fact that these men were writing to separate groups of people expecting separate inheritances and comings of Christ. Paul apostle to the uncircumcision (Gal. 2:7-9 – Gentiles) outlined the Rapture of the Body off to our heavenly inheritance as part of the Mystery Program, while John, apostle to the circumcision (Gal. 2:7-9 – Jews) was explaining the Revelation of Christ to Israel to establish the Kingdom under the Prophecy Program.

First Thessalonians 4

This adapted and or copied from gotquestions.com: The argument connecting them has to depend on the meaning of the word “last” in First Corinthians 15:52. The Greek word eschatos can mean either last in point of time or last in point of sequence. This trumpet sounds before the wrath of God descends, yet Revelation 6:17 speaks of the wrath of the Lamb as having come, and the seventh trumpet doesn’t sound until Revelation 11:15. The trumpet of First Thessalonians is given in a moment, whereas Revelation 10:7 indicates that the seventh trumpet will be sounded for a number of days. Even though the seventh trumpet is the last one described in Revelation, Matthew 24:31 indicates there is yet another trumpet which will sound “after the Tribulation of those days,” when Christ returns to the earth, which parallels with Revelation 19.

If the “last trumpet” of First Thessalonians 4 is not the same as the seventh trumpet, then what was Paul referring to? Both First Thessalonians and First Corinthians were written long before John wrote Revelation, so Paul’s readers would have no knowledge of the seven trumpets of Revelation. Paul intended for them to understand what he was writing about, so we need to look elsewhere for clarification. Paul’s writing was distinctly in reference to the church, and the closing of the church age at the rapture. Throughout Scripture, trumpets were used as signals to gather people, to set armies on the move, and as part of the worship of God. The trumpet that summons the church is called “the trump of God,” while those in Revelation are angelic trumpets. Since it is a summoning trumpet, we can look to the Old Testament for further understanding. Numbers 10 gives instruction to Israel about the use of trumpets to calling an assembly of the people and to set them in motion. The first trumpet blast (v. 4) called the leaders together, while a continual blowing was an alarm for the people. A series of trumpet blasts was the signal for each group of tribes to begin their journeys, and the last blast indicated the movement of the last group in the camp. Similarly, First Corinthians 15:23 speaks of different orders, or ranks, in the resurrection: “Every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming.” Further, First Thessalonians 4:16-17 divides Christ’s own into two groups – the dead in Christ, and those who are alive and remain.

So if the trumpet is the call for saints to assemble and journey to heaven, what does that mean for us? Jesus said that no one knows when the Day of the Lord will begin (Matthew 24:36), and First Thessalonians describes it as coming as a thief in the night, without warning. In First  Corinthians 15:58, we are told to be “steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” Just like the Israelites in the wilderness, we do not know when the trumpet will sound, so we are to be always ready. While we may not know the day or hour, we have been given enough information to know it can happen at any moment. We are to be ready, putting on the armor of God, because we have been appointed to receive salvation through Jesus Christ (First Thessalonians 5:8-9). [23]

Gotcha Gimmick:
“The Rapture happens immediately
after the Tribulation in Matthew 24:29”

Understanding and studying the Bible using right division between prophecy for Israel and the mystery church Body solves this problem immediately. However, too many Bible teachers desperate to disprove the PreTrib rapture of the church invariably run to this Matthew 24:29 for their principal “gotcha” moment. However, if they were as zealous for context as they are for conflict they’d discover the entire passage is under a Jewish setting and based on Old Covenant prophecy for Israel’s Kingdom on earth. The Lord’s return He Himself pictured is the Revelation prophesied all through the Old Testament for Israel.[24] It has NOTHING TO DO WITH THE BODY OF CHRIST. The four disciples it was delivered to (Peter, James, John, Andrew – Mark 13:3) had no frame of reference for the Body of Christ, [25] and no connection to it when interpreting it or instructing others. They simply wanted to know when Jesus would return to set up the Jewish Kingdom (Mark 13; see Matt. 24; Luke 21; see end time’s kingdom in Dan. 2:44; 7:13-14) recently rejected.

[NOTE: Peter, James, and John were exclusive ministers of the Jews, aka the circumcision-Gal. 2:7-9]. In response the Lord provided several signs (Jews require signs- 1 Cor. 1:22) referencing twice Moses’ Tribulation[26] prophecy (Deut. 4:30) He revealed would precede the Kingdom,

“For then shall be great Tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be . . . Immediately after the Tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, (this describes the Revelation of Christ, not the Rapture. See Last Days Signs in the Sun, Moon, and Stars in Appendix [ii]) and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken” (Matthew 24:21, 29).

Gotcha Gimmick:
“Second Thessalonians 2 teaches
Antichrist must come Before Jesus”

Understanding right division is very important. Paul wrote: “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,  (2)  That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand”(2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 written about 54 AD).

First Thessalonians, written in 54 AD, was Paul’s earliest letter. As such, it contains foundational truth for the 13 books of church canon that he wrote (Romans – Philemon). To signal the importance of the return of the Lord, every chapter in the Thessalonian epistles contains a reference to either the rapture or the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Paul wrote Second Thessalonians to address an unsettling heresy in the church revolving around a letter with his name on it (2 Thess. 2:2) claiming the day of Christ – which includes Israel’s Tribulation – was underway and therefore the church would have to endure it. When comparing Scripture with itself, this seems a bit reminiscent of what was happening in Timothy’s ministry when Paul wrote: “Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already[27]; and overthrow the faith of some” (2 Timothy 2:18).

Paul dealt with the dilemma by encouraging them with his previous teachings (2:5) which obviously included a PreTrib rapture (1 Thess. 1:10; 4:13-18; 5:9). To do this he opened with an appeal based on the fact of the rapture itself. Plymouth Brethren author William Kelly said: “The comfort of the Lord’s coming is employed as a motive and means for counteracting the uneasiness created by the false presentation that the day (of the Lord) was there.”

To put it another way, what Paul is saying is this: “I appeal to you on the basis of the Rapture (I taught you) that you should not fear that you are in the Day of the Lord. The Rapture must take place first. You will be taken home to heaven at that time and will thus escape the horrors of the Day of the Lord.” (Believer’s Bible Commentary -Dr William MacDonald)

He then went on to prove how erroneous the letter was by listing events that would have occurred if they were in Israel’s Tribulation: the falling away (v4), the revelation of the man of sin aka the Antichrist (v4). Since these things had not occurred, Paul assures them the day of Christ – including the seven-year Tribulation – had not happened regardless of what the forged letter purported.

CONSIDER these scenarios carefully:

First, if Paul taught them they were going through Israel’s Tribulation – aka the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7) – why were they scared since this would mean the Lord Jesus would after all be returning within seven years?

Second, if Paul taught them they must endure Israel’s Tribulation, why didn’t he encourage them to stock pile food, weapons, and other necessities like our adversaries do since this would have been the perfect opportunity to teach them?

Third, if Paul taught anything but a PreTrib rapture, why didn’t he stress this in any of his 13 books?

The fact is, Paul clearly taught the Thessalonians – and the Body of Christ at large – there were two comings of Christ: the Rapture where the Lord comes for His church to deliver them from the time of Jacob’s (Israel’s) trouble aka day of the Lord (YHWH) which is to come (1 Thess. 1:10; 4:13-18; 5:9, 23), and the Revelation to Israel [taught by the prophets] where Christ returns with His saints after Israel’s Tribulation: (1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; see Matt. 24:29; Rev. 19:11-21).

Gotcha Gimmick:
“There isn’t a single verse in the Bible
teaching a PreTrib rapture”

Over the past forty years, I’ve discussed the rapture, the revelation, and Israel’s Tribulation with advocates of every angle imaginable. While all are convinced of their scriptural infallibility, one “gotcha” question continues to surface repeatedly:

“Can you give me a single verse proving the rapture is pre-Tribulational.”

Let me answer this with two observations.

First, this is a highly disingenuous argument. The fact is there are many subjects in the Bible that cannot be explained in a single verse and require a progressive revelation to understand them. Israel, the Davidic Kingdom, the Antichrist, Trinity, Heaven, Hell, and the rapture are among them.

Second, this is a deflective argument. The burden isn’t on us to prove we aren’t here during Jacob’s trouble – Tribulation. The onus is on those who insist we are here without a single verse of Scripture anywhere verifying their empty speculation.

Gotcha Gimmick:
“PreTrib Rapture teachers are in
cahoots with Satan to deceive the Church”

Nonsense! This baseless indictment is sadly typical of the attitude of those who hold a different opinion on Israel’s Tribulation and coming of Christ for the church. Not only is this an unwarranted and unkind assessment, the far reaching scope of it is a blanket indictment of some of history’s finest Bible teachers including Paul, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Hippolytus, JN Darby, CI Scofield, Charles Spurgeon, DL Moody, Lewis Chafer, HA Ironside, RA Torrey, Arno C. Gaebelein, J. Dwight Pentecost, J. Vernon McGee, Harold Willmington, Ed Hindson, Noah Hutchings, Zola Levitt, Renald Showers, Randell Price, David Hocking, John Walvoord, Mark Hitchcock, Tommy Ice, Chuck Missler, Lehman Strauss, Grant Jeffrey, Hal Lindsey, JR Church, Dave Hunt, Gary Stearman, Tim LaHaye, Jack Van Impe and on and on. And while this impressive list does not in itself prove the dispensational, PreTrib position, it certainly makes a strong statement in favor of it when compared with the host of virtual unknowns who support their position.

Gotcha Gimmick:
“The PreTrib Rapture isn’t fair to those in
Church History who suffered and or died for Christ”

Nonsense! The argument is framed like this. “It’s not fair that the modern church should escape Tribulation when throughout history many have suffered and died.” The fact is, fairness isn’t a Biblical doctrine. It’s part of end time’s political correctness the church has become sadly victimized by. If this scenario were true, God will have to resurrect every person in history who was not been vigorously and viciously persecuted or martyred to mete out to them their fair share. Friend, the “Greek” word for that is balderdash!

Gotcha Gimmick:
“The PreTrib Rapture is a Satanic Deception”

Nonsense! Recently, pre-wrath advocate Marvin Rosenthal wrote that the pre-trib rapture was of Satanic origin and unheard of before 1830. “To thwart the Lord’s warning to His children, in 1830,” proclaims Rosenthal, “Satan, the ‘father of lies,’ gave to a fifteen-year-old girl named Margaret McDonald a lengthy vision.”1 Rosenthal gives no documentation, he merely asserts that this is true. However, he is wrong. He is undoubtedly relying upon the questionable work of Dave MacPherson. If you would like more information on this false accusation, please request it from our ministry.

Gotcha Gimmick:
“The Rapture is not PreTrib, but PreWrath”

This is the newest – and perhaps the most disingenuous – argument in the anti-PreTrib series. Its claim is that the rapture occurs prior to God’s pouring out His wrath about 2/3 of the way through Israel’s Tribulation when in fact the wrath of the Lamb opens the Tribulation in Revelation 6. We have a lengthy PreWrath rapture refutation if you write and request a copy from our ministry.

Gotcha Gimmick:
“The Tribulation will purify the Church”

In my experience discussing Israel’s Tribulation with PreTrib rapture antagonists – and I’ve had my fill – one common argument they put forth that the church needs purifying and perfecting and Israel’s Tribulation horrors will do that. When I point out the universal bloodshed and horrors of this time where 2/3 of the world is killed, they often use illustrations like Noah in the ark to show how God will protect us from everything happening. Now here’s the paradox in the “God will protect us” argument. If Israel’s Tribulation makes us stronger, why would God then protect us from it?

The fact is, this is another version of Romanist purgatory. By claiming Israel’s Tribulation will purify the church suggests our salvation wasn’t complete at Calvary even though the Lord stated otherwise: “It is finished” (John 19:30)! This would mean righteousness and holiness come from human effort thereby making men co-redeemers with Jesus. Paul explained how righteousness is imputed to us by faith: “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference …  To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:22, 26). “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). He alone presents us holy in heaven, not we ourselves: “In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight” (Colossians 1:22).

Our conclusion once again is this: Israel’s Tribulation is NOT for the Body of Christ.

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Please understand my experience with these people is first hand. Their hatred for the PreTrib rapture is unrelenting even though ardent PreTrib rapture antagonists – and I’m including Mid Trib, PreWrath, and Post Trib – usually won’t admit to the depth of their loathing. A peek at their writings will convince you of their prowess in twisting facts, hiding and ignoring documentation, disparaging good men simply for disagreeing with them, and an overarching impugning of sound scholarship.

[2] John L. Bray, The Origin of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Teaching (Lakeland, FL: John L. Bray Ministry, 1982), 31.  Lacunza is a reference to the Jesuit Priest Manual de Lacunza (1731–1801), who wrote under the pseudonym of Juan Josafat Ben-Ezra, a converted Jew, The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty.

[3] Source: http://www.raptureready.com/rr-margaret-mcdonald.html

[4] Pseudo-Ephraem (c. 374-627). Source:

http://www.grantjeffrey.com/article/examining_an_ancient.htm

[5] If you‘ve read his materials you would know what I’m talking about. MacPherson actually blames proponents of the PreTrib rapture for all of his misfortunes, beginning with his expulsion from Bible college, a drunken binge in Mexico, a car accident, his mom’s death, his sister’s inability to have more children, the demonic possession of his dog, and all his father’s woes.

https://www.raptureready.com/who/Dave: MacPherson.html

[6] MacPherson’s allegations are outlandish to say the least. He incessantly pounds the drum that all who teach a PreTrib rapture are somehow culpable in the death of millions of Christians worldwide (especially the Chinese) that had been taught the rapture and suffered martyrdom! The fact is, Christians of every age- whether or not they have believed the PreTrib rapture- have suffered persecution, including today at the hands of islamic savages. While MacPherson deems it unfair that God would spare us what others were not spared begs the notion God will have to resurrect every person in history who was not vigorously and viciously persecuted or martyred. This is simply one of their most desperate- and may I add, deceptive- attempts at discrediting the PreTrib position. MacPherson and his minions should be ashamed of themselves.

[7] The outrageous nature of MacPherson’s prevarications have increased over time as books emerge under his name charging new cover ups that unbiased scholarship finds laughably ludicrous. Frank Marotta in http://www.according2prophecy.org/macphers.html writes: His latest book is The Rapture Plot. It claims to reveal “. . . the most astounding historical revisionism of the past century” (p. 138). The plot is that brethren scholar William Kelly used his periodical The Bible Treasury to conceal that J.N. Darby took the pretribulation rapture from the Irvingites. This was accomplished by alleged misrepresentations of Irvingite prophetic views in Kelly’s 1889-1890 articles on the Catholic Apostolic Church. In these same articles Kelly is alleged to have created a smoke screen by emphasizing Irvingite heterodoxy. Then in 1903 (13 years later), having discredited the Irvingites, Kelly was able to credit Mr. Darby with pretribulationism in his article, “The Rapture of the Saints, Who Suggested It, or rather on what Scripture?” This “plot” is considerably more dull than his Margaret Macdonald material and is equally lacking in any substance. That an orthodox Christian such as William Kelly should write articles exposing a contemporary heterodox sect should surprise us no more than a Christian periodical of today printing articles exposing Mormonism. Nor is it shocking that an ardent pretribulationist as Kelly would defend the history and doctrine of the rapture. We fail to see any plot at all.

[8] The rise in belief in the pre-tribulation rapture is often wrongly attributed to a 15-year-old Scottish-Irish girl named Margaret McDonald who was of the first to receive a (alleged) spiritual baptism under a Pentecostal awakening in Scotland. In 1830, she had a vision of the end times which describes a post-tribulation view of the rapture that was first published in 1840. It was published again in 1861, but two important passages demonstrating a post-tribulation view were removed to encourage confusion concerning the timing of the rapture. The two removed segments were, “This is the fiery trial which is to try us. – It will be for the purging and purifying of the real members of the body of Jesus” and “The trial of the Church is from Antichrist. It is by being filled with the Spirit that we shall be kept” [Hommel, Jason. “Margaret MacDonald’s Vision” – Jason Hommel’s Bible Prophecy Study on the Pre Tribulation Rapture. Grass Valley, California. Retrieved 23 January 2011. Quotes the account in The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets In the Catholic Apostolic Church (1861).]

[9] Edward Irving was a Scottish clergyman, generally regarded as the main figure behind the foundation of the Catholic Apostolic Church which believed in modern day apostles and sign gifts. In other words they were charismatics. [THE TRIBULATION OF CONTROVERSY: A REVIEW ARTICLE Timothy C. F. Stunt]

[10] Here’s a few problems. First, Miss MacDonald’s “prophecy” doesn’t contain any elements related to a pre-trib rapture [Read her prophecy and you’ll find she believed in several raptures and that the church would suffer under Antichrist]. Therefore, in order to get his theory in line with the narrative, he had to conflate the two accounts of Margaret’s vision. Second, no one has ever demonstrated from actual facts of history that Darby was influenced by MacDonald’s “prophecy” even if it had contained pre-trib elements – which it certainly did not. There is evidence that Darby heard about Miss MacDonald’s strange vision and labeled it demonic. Third, according to biographer historian Roy Huebner R. A. Huebner, “Precious Truths Revived and Defended Through J. N. Darby”, Vol. 1 (Morganville, N. J.: Present Truth Publishers, 1991), Darby clearly held to an early form of the PreTrib rapture by January 1827. This is a full three years before MacPherson’s claim of 1830. John Walvoord has said, “The whole controversy as aroused by Dave MacPherson’s claims has so little supporting evidence … one wonders how he can write his book with a straight face. Pretribulationists should be indebted to Dave MacPherson for exposing the facts, namely, that there is no proof that MacDonald … originated the pretribulation rapture teaching.” More information available at

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret: MacDonald: (visionary).

[11] “It is only with some difficulty that one can identify what MacPherson calls her ‘pretribulationist’ teaching in the transcript of 1840, and when in 1861 Norton quoted from her prophecy he omitted the passage which referred to ‘the fiery trial’ which ‘will be for the purging and purifying of the real members of the body of Jesus’—a passage which clearly assumes that Christians will go through the tribulation.” [THE TRIBULATION OF CONTROVERSY: A REVIEW ARTICLE Timothy C. F. Stunt]

[12] If Margaret MacDonald is the originator of the PreTrib rapture, why are there no records of her contesting Darby’s theft?

[13] This is another desperate and disingenuous deception from the other side. Roy Huebner documented from Darby’s writings beginning as early as 1827 that he was teaching a PreTrib rapture. Huebner provides clarification and evidence that Darby was not influenced by a fifteen-yea-old girl (Margaret Macdonald), Lacunza, Edward Irving, or the Irvingites. These are all said by the detractors of Darby and the pre-trib rapture to be bridges which led to Darby’s thought. Instead, he demonstrates that Darby’s understanding of the pre-trib rapture was the product of the development of his personal interactive thought with the text of Scripture as he, his friends, and dispensationalists have long contended. Darby’s pre-trib and dispensational thoughts, says Huebner, were developed from the following factors: 1) “he saw from Isaiah 32 that there was a different dispensation coming . . . that Israel and the Church were distinct.”13 2) “During his convalescence JND learned that he ought daily to expect his Lord’s return.”14 3) “In 1827 JND understood the fall of the church. . . ‘the ruin of the Church.'”15 4) Darby also was beginning to see a gap of time between the rapture and the second coming by 1827.16 5) Darby, himself, said in 1857 that he first started understanding things relating to the pre-trib Rapture “thirty years ago.” “With that fixed point of reference, Jan. 31, 1827,” declares Huebner, we can see that Darby “had already understood those truths upon which the pre-tribulation rapture hinges.” R. A. Huebner, Precious Truths Revived and Defended Through J. N. Darby, Vol. 1 (Morganville, N. J.: Present Truth Publishers, 1991; p24).

[14] Excuse my reiteration of some of this material, but it is vital that you recognize and refute the prejudicial arguments these people have invented. Brethren writer, Roy A. Huebner claims and documents his belief that J.N. Darby first began to believe in the pre-trib rapture and develop his dispensational thinking while convalescing from a riding accident during December 1826 and January 1827.12 If this is true, then all of the origin-of-the-rapture-conspiracy-theories fall to the ground in a heap of speculative rubble. Darby would have at least a three-year jump on any who would have supposedly influenced his thought, making it impossible for all the “influence” theories to have any credibility. Huebner provides clarification and evidence that Darby was not influenced by a fifteen-yea-old girl (Margaret Macdonald), Lacunza, Edward Irving, or the Irvingites. These are all said by the detractors of Darby and the pre-trib rapture to be bridges which led to Darby’s thought. Instead, he demonstrates that Darby’s understanding of the pre-trib rapture was the product of the development of his personal interactive thought with the text of Scripture as he, his friends, and dispensationalists have long contended. Darby’s pre-trib and dispensational thoughts, says Huebner, were developed from the following factors: 1) “he saw from Isaiah 32 that there was a different dispensation coming . . . that Israel and the Church were distinct.” 2) “During his convalescence JND learned that he ought daily to expect his Lord’s return.” 3) “In 1827 JND understood the fall of the church. . . ‘the ruin of the Church.'” 4) Darby also was beginning to see a gap of time between the rapture and the second coming by 1827. 5) Darby, himself, said in 1857 that he first started understanding things relating to the pre-trib Rapture “thirty years ago.” “With that fixed point of reference, Jan. 31, 1827,” declares Huebner, we can see that Darby “had already understood those truths upon which the pre-tribulation rapture hinges.” [Dr Thomas Ice-  https://www.raptureready.com/featured/ice/tt11.html%5D

[15] Bray, The Origin of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Teaching, pp. 24-25, 28.

[16] Quoted from: http://www.according2prophecy.org/macphers.html

[17] Walvoord, The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation, p. 47.

[18] Drs. Thomas Ice and Gerald Stanton among them.

[19] Post tribulation rapture author Ernest Sandeen wrote: “This seems to be a groundless and pernicious charge. Neither Irving nor any member of the Albury group advocated any doctrine resembling the secret rapture. . . . Since the clear intention of this charge is to discredit the doctrine by attributing its origin to fanaticism rather than Scripture, there seems little ground for giving it any credence. Others include Robert Reiter, Ian Rennie, William Bell, John Bray, and Timothy Weber to name a few. Source: http://www.pre-trib.org/articles/view/part-2-myths-of-origin-rapture

[20] They teach the Old Testament ended at Malachi and the New Testament begins with Matthew when in fact the New Testament didn’t officially begin until the death of the Testator, the Lord Jesus Christ (Heb. 9:16-17).

[21] The Body of Christ was unheard of for another 20 years. Forcing Christ’s Kingdom expositions for Israel on the church (ie the Sermon on the Mount) always leads to disastrous results and can be seen in cults such as Seventh Day Adventists.

[22] A learner; a scholar; one who receives or professes to receive instruction from another; as the disciples of Plato. (Webster’s Dictionary 1828)

[23] Source: http://www.gotquestions.org/last-trumpet.html

[24] Some include: Our God shall come, and shall not keep silence: a fire shall devour before him, and it shall be very tempestuous round about him. He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people. Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice (Psalms 50:3-5). When the LORD shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory (Psalms 102:16). For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain (Isaiah 26:21). And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. (Zechariah 14:4); etc.

[25] The Body of Christ was unheard of for another 20 years. Forcing Christ’s Kingdom expositions for Israel on the church (ie the Sermon on the Mount) always leads to disastrous results and can be seen in cults such as Seventh Day Adventists.

[26] The Tribulation is a ubiquitous term that has become a well-known doctrine. Prophecy is for Israel and the Tribulation exists purely as prophecy. It was well known by the prophets (Deut. 4:30) so it was never a part of the mystery. That being said, there isn’t a prophecy or verse for that matter anywhere in Scripture: (1) clearly consigning the mystery Body of Christ to the time of Jacob’s trouble,  or (2) revealing her as being on earth for a single hour during this time [unless two terms used for Israel, “elect” and “saints” are pulled from their context to prove something that simply is not provable in any other fashion].

[27] This would make no sense if the resurrection alluded to was for the Great White Throne judgment following the millennial reign of Christ (Rev. 20:11-15). It must be a reference to the rapture of the mystery Body of Christ they had been told they missed.

Appendix [i]
The PreTrib Rapture Teaching is NOT NEW

 

After author and apologist Doc Marquis had his fill of this feckless flimflam he wrote, “The blatant lie (knowingly or unknowingly) that the “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” of the Church is a new concept that can only be traced back to 1830 is simply that … a lie! I shall now present to you good people another literary list and, this one will prove, once and for all, that the “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” of the Church is “not” a new concept, but was a teaching that came directly from the Apostles themselves (dating back) “before” 1830” . . . to the 1st Century A.D.”

1) 1792 – Thomas Scott – he taught that the righteous will be carried to Heaven where they will be secure until the time of the judgment is over.

2) 1763 – James Macknight – he also taught that the righteous will be carried to heaven until the judgment is over with.

3) 1748 – John Gill (Commentary on the New Testament) – teaches of the imminent return of Christ, firstly in Rapture, and then He will return again to judge the earth (Armageddon).

4) 1744 – Morgan Edwards (founder of the Ivy League School, Brown University) wrote of his “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” beliefs.

5) 1738 – Phillip Doddrige (Commentary on the New Testament) teaches along the same lines of John Gill; a “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” perspective.

6) 1687 – Peter Jurieu – (“Approaching Deliverance of the Church”) Christ would return during the Rapture and take His saints to Heaven and later return at the Battle of Armageddon.

7) 1674 – 1748 – Isaac Watts (known as the Father of the English Hymn) wrote of his “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” belief. (As a side note, Isaac Watts was solely responsible for writing over 1,000 Christian hymns if I recall the numbers correctly. Study his life because it was truly a miraculous one by all definitions of the word).

8) 1674 – Thomas Collier – makes reference in the belief to the “Pre-Tribulation Rapture”.

9) 1532 – 1591 – Francisco Rivera wrote of his “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” of the Church beliefs

10) 431 – 1500 – Any mention of Pre-Tribulation (Millennial) Rapture of the Church perspectives are outlawed by the Catholic Church and deemed heretical and punishable by death!!!

11) 431 – The Council of Ephesus; the Catholic Church decrees and condemns Pre-Millennial views as heresy. Books and such are destroyed or altered.
The following all wrote of the “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” of the Church:

12) 354 – 430 – Augustine, Bishop of North Africa

13) 306 – 373 – Ephraem of Nisibus

14) ? – 204 – Victorinus, Bishop of Petau

15) 200 – 258 – Cyrian

16) 170 – 236 – Hippolytus of Rome

17) 150 – 272 – Apocalypse of Elijah (an Extra-Biblical book)

18) 120 – 202 – Ireaneus (“Against Heresies”)

19) 36 – 108 – Ignatius of Antioch, the Third Bishop and Patriarch of Antioch (who as a student of John the Apostle) – His “Letters of Extra-Biblical works are:

  1. Letter to the Ephesians
  2. Letter to the Magnesians
  3. Letter to the Trallians
  4. Letter to the Romans
  5. Letter to the Philadelphians
  6. Letter to the Smyrnaeans
  7. Letter to Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna

20). ?– 99 A.D. – Clement of Rome, “Letter to the Corinthians” also known as “I Clement” (an Extra-Biblical book).

 

 

Appendix [ii]
Chart of Signs in the Sun, Moon, and Stars

 

Reference Stars/Heaven Sun Moon Day of the Lord 2nd Coming

to

Jerusalem

Armageddon/Valley of Jehoshaphat/Judgment
Isaiah
13:9-11

(see Ezek 32:1-16)

The stars and the constellations shall not

give their light

The sun shall be darkened in his going forth The moon shall not cause her light to shine Day of the Lord cometh,

cruel both with wrath and fierce anger

Not

mentioned

He shall destroy sinners; I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity
Isaiah

24:21-23

Not mentioned The sun ashamed The moon shall be confounded And it shall come to pass

in that day;

after many days

Lord of hosts shall reign in

Mount Zion and in

Jerusalem

The Lord shall punish the host of the high ones and the kings of the earth, and they shall be gathered together in the pit
Joel
2:10, 30-3:2
(see Acts2:19

below)

I will show wonders in the

heavens

The sun shall be turned into darkness [ii] …and the moon into blood before the great and the terrible Day of

the Lord come; in those days, and in that time

Not

mentioned

I will also gather all nations, and bring them down into the valley of

Jehoshaphat. In mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance

Joel

3:12-16

The stars shall withdraw their shining The sun shall be darkened The moon shall be

darkened

The Day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision The Lord also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem: but the Lord will be the hope of his people, the children

of Israel

Let the heathen be wakened and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about. Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe.
Matthew 24:27-31; 25:31-34 The stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken The sun shall be darkened The moon shall not give her light Not mentioned Lightening cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; immediately after the tribulation of those days. The sign of the son of man in heaven; coming in the clouds with power and great glory Eagles are gathered at Armageddon/sign of the Son of man coming with power and great glory, tribes mourn, sends his angels w/great sound of trumpet, elect gathered . . . then shell he sit upon the throne of his glory and separate the sheep from the goats in his kingdom.
Acts 2:19-21

(see Joel 2:30 above)

I will show wonders in heaven above The sun shall be turned into darkness …and the moon into blood Before that great and notable Day of the Lord Implied in the context

(20-21)

Implied in the Day of the Lord
Rev. 6:12-13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth The sun became black as sackcloth of hair And the moon

became as blood

The great day (of his wrath) Implied since Judgment occurs

in Jerusalem

The throne and the wrath of the Lamb follows

(Rev. 6:16-17)

 

Summary: When studied in context, these passages collectively tell us that the sun moon and star activity accompanies the Lord’s return to Jerusalem to conduct His wrathful judgment prior to the Millennium. It is, therefore, Israel’s by prophecy.

 

“See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise,
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Published by

PMI Center for Biblical Studies
POB 177 – Battle Creek, MI 49016-0177
PmiMinistries.com

Prophecy and Mystery – Right Division of the Bible leads to Right Conclusions

Cover

Dr. Mike Johnston

The Bible presents God overseeing two overarching programs: one for heaven, the other for earth (Gen. 1:1). God’s program for heaven involves the mystery Body of Christ and our inheritance there in heaven with Christ (Eph. 1:3, 20; 2:6), “kept secret since the world began” (Rom. 16:25). His program for earth involves prophecy for Israel concerning the coming Davidic Covenant Kingdom (2 Sam. 7:16) aka the Millennial Reign of Christ prepared “from the foundation of the world” (Matt. 25:34). Israel’s earthly future has progressively unfolded to her “by the mouth of the prophets since the world began” (Luke 1:70) in “time past” (Eph. 2:11-12; see Luke 24:27, 44; Acts 14:16; Heb. 1:1) to be fulfilled in the “ages to come” (Eph. 2:7). The Kingdom will be inaugurated following the Revelation of the Lord Jesus to Israel (Zech. 14; Rev. 19:11-21) which occurs “immediately after the tribulation” (Deut. 4:30; Matt. 24:29) or Daniel s seventieth week (Dan. 9:24-27), a time when God will punish the world for sin while preparing Israel for the Kingdom (Jer. 30-31; Ezek. 20:37; 22:18-22; Hos. 5:15).

Now, here’s an indisputable corollary:

If the Body of Christ (church) is present on earth during Israel’s tribulation (Deut. 4:30; Isa. 24; Jer. 30-31; Joel; Zephaniah; Matt. 24; Rev. 6-19), the Holy Spirit went to great lengths to keep us from knowing it. To wit, while we can easily find Israel and the anti-Semitic Gentile nations on earth during the tribulation – aka “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1), the heavenly Body of Christ – which has been promised deliverance from this divine punishment (1 Thess. 1:10; 5:9; 2 Thess. 2:5-7; Rev. 3:10; see also Rev. 4:1) – is conspicuously absent (Rev. 6-19). In fact, there isn’t a verse anywhere in the Bible clearly and unequivocally placing the Body of Christ on earth for a single moment of Israel’s holocaust without redefining the words “saints” and “elect”, which in Daniel, the Olivet Discourse and Revelation specifically refer to Israel.

Understanding right division God placed in Scripture is a prerequisite to arriving at right conclusions. Underscoring this is an old axiom that states, “All Scripture is profitable for us, but all Scripture is not personally to us.” This seems to be at the heart of what the Apostle Paul had in mind when under Holy Spirit inspiration he wrote “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing [1] the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

The theme of this treatise is Israel’s Tribulation and the absence of the Body of Christ. It is best explained through right division. Unfortunately, right division isn’t the default hermeneutic setting even though most prophecy teachers present their work as a product of it. Their error – hewn from long held tradition – unfolds from the assumption that the Old Testament ended with Malachi and the New Testament begins with Matthew, which simply is NOT true.

The fact is, the New Testament didn’t “legally” begin until “the death of [Christ] the Testator” (Hebrews 9:16). This means everything Jesus taught through the gospel of John is under an Old Covenant setting and is specifically to Israel – NOT to the Body of Christ. [2] Now some scoff at this calling it inconsequential nonsense – and from the content of their writings, it obviously is. However, those of us who are concerned about exactness when studying God’s Word to rightly divide in order to properly teach God’s Word understand the inevitable consequences of misunderstanding the division between the Testaments is to customarily misapply Scripture for Israel to the Body of Christ, which incidentally, is a pervasive problem.

I agree with many Bible scholars that there is a more accurate way to rightly divide the Bible which I’ll discuss in the following sections.

Right Division Between 2 Programs:
Prophecy and Mystery

First is the Prophecy Program which concerns God’s plans for earth [3] featuring the elect nation Israel and her coming kingdom: “As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, [4] which have been since the world began” (Luke 1:70; see Acts 3:21). Peter is representative (Gal. 2:7-9).

Second is the Mystery Program for heaven featuring the provisional church Body of Christ and our inheritance there with the Lord, revealed by Jesus to Paul:[5] “…according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began” (Romans 16:25). Paul is representative (Gal. 2:7-9).

[1] Division is an important and inescapable element in the framework of Scripture. For instance, in Genesis one, God divided the light from the darkness, the waters from the waters, the firmament from the waters, and the day from the night.

[2] This is very inconvenient for those who base their “rapture” arguments on Jesus’ Olivet briefing in Matthew 24, which right division reveals is for Israel under an Old Covenant setting.

[3] It is God’s plan to rule earth for one thousand years from Jerusalem, Israel (study Zech 12-14; Rev. 19-20). Without question this is the devil’s main motive behind I’slam stealing Jerusalem.

[4] We find the phrase “that it might be fulfilled” appears 9 times in Matthew: Matthew 1:22; 2:15, 23; 4:14; 8:17; 12:17; 13:35; 21:4; 27:35.

[5] The Body of Christ is comprised of both saved Jews and Gentiles in which God sees no difference (1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:28).

Gimmick: “The Rapture was never taught until 1830” – Gotcha!

Dr. Mike Johnston

Claiming the PreTrib rapture wasn’t taught until 1830 is by far the most abused allegation in the rapture antagonist anthology. The problems this presents are myriad, I’ll boil them down to two: To begin with, it’s a lie; but even it were true, it assails prophecy in Daniel whereby God promises in the last days to reveal to us truth previously hidden. “But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased(Daniel 12:4).

“And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.  (35)  And some of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make them white, even to the time of the end: because it is yet for a time appointed … And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.  (10)  Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand(Daniel 11:33, 35; 12:9-10).

My own stubbornness and stupidity

After getting saved, I began learning about the end times, tribulation, and the Antichrist. I also learned about a supposed satanic plot known as the PreTrib rapture that allegedly surfaced in the early 19th Century. In preparation for battling this hoax, my mentors armed me with tested “gotcha gimmicks” designed to deter and destroy the opposition. One of the most compelling involved a Southern Baptist evangelist named John L. Bray who offered $500 to anyone with evidence that the PreTrib rapture teaching existed before 1830. While the shock value of this tactic was often the determining factor in rapture debates, it turned out to be a bald-faced lie my stubbornness kept me fighting against for many years.

As it turned out, Bray actually discovered a writing rebutting his previous thinking. He wrote, “… my own research indicated that it was Emmanuel Lacunza, a Jesuit Catholic priest, who [wrote the] book The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty, first taught this theory.” [1]

Although Bray’s honesty is admirable, he was after all an ardent PreTrib antagonist determined to undermine the PreTrib hope. Therefore, he re-dated his stunt and renewed the reward, “I offered $500 to anyone who would give a documented statement earlier than Lacunza’s time which taught a two-stage coming of Christ separated by a stated period of time.”

Nevertheless, he was wrong again.

It isn’t clear whether Bray was lamenting or lauding the new evidence in the following admission, “Now I have the Photostat copies of a book published in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1788 but written in 1742-1744 in England, which taught the preTribulation rapture before Lacunza.” [2]

Throughout history, there have been numerous gimmicks like Bray’s used against the PreTrib rapture. Unfortunately many have gone uncontested by rapture believers if they’d just done their homework. Thankfully, today we have the research data available to us from scholars sharing their findings on the internet verifying for us the fact that the PreTrib rapture was taught until the 4th century insurgence of Augustinian Amillennialism/Postmillennialism replaced it. 

Irenaeus – 130-202 AD

Irenaeus was a disciple of Polycarp. Polycarp learned his Christian faith from the apostle John, “…the disciple whom Jesus loved…” (John 21:7). As well as writing the gospel that bears his name and a number of early letters, John wrote the Book of Revelation. Irenaeus later became bishop of the church in Lyons, France and is famous for his five volume treatise, Against Heresies, which described and challenged all false teaching from the emerging cults of his day.

Irenaeus believed in the three and a half year reign of the Antichrist as ruler of the world before the Second Coming of Christ. He also believed in a literal millennial reign of Christ on earth following the Second Coming and in the resurrection of the just. Irenaeus also believed in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church. In  Against Heresies 5:29 he wrote: “And therefore, when in the end the Church shall be suddenly caught up from this, it is said, ‘There shall be tribulation such as has not been since the beginning, neither shall be.’ For this is the last contest of the righteous, in which, when they overcome they are crowned with incorruption.”

Note Irenaeus’ use of the “caught up.” It is the exact same Rapture terminology used in 1 Thessalonians 4. The word used is 1 Thessalonians 4, is “harpazo”, meaning to be “caught up.” Irenaeus believed that the Rapture of the Church occurred prior to Israel’s Tribulation. 

Ephraem the Syrian – 306-373 AD

As early as the 4th century a PreTrib rapture exponent nicknamed Pseudo-Ephraem wrote this: “All the saints and elect of God are gathered together before the tribulation, which is to come, and are taken to the Lord, in order that they may not see at any time the confusion which overwhelms the world because of our sins.” [3]

Actually, Ephraem the Syrian was not alone in interpreting Bible prophecy literally in his day.

He was living one generation from the era of Augustine (354-430), whenever there was a dramatic change. When Ephraem died in 373, Augustine was 19 years old. It was in the era of Augustine that allegoricalism widely replaced the previous method of interpretation. Prior to this, it was common among Bible believers to interpret prophecy literally. They believed that Christ would return literally (and imminently), bind Satan, and establish a literal millennial kingdom (see end time’s kingdom in Dan. 2:44; 7:13-14) on earth.

This is attested to by scholars and historians:

William Newell says: “The early Church for 300 years looked for the imminent return of our Lord to reign, and they were right” (Newell, Revelation).

Phillip Schaaf said, “… the most striking point in the eschatology of the ante-Nicene age [prior to

AD 325] is the prominent chiliasm, or millennarianism, that is the belief of a visible reign of Christ in glory on earth with the risen saints for a thousand years, before the general resurrection and judgment” (History of the Christian Church, 8 vols, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1960, 2:614).

Dr. Henry Thiessen says, “It is clear … that the Fathers held not only the pre-millennial view of Christ’s coming, but also regarded that coming as imminent. The Lord had taught them to expect His return at any moment, and so they looked for Him to come in their day. Not only so, but they also taught His personal return as being immediately, with the exception of the Alexandrian Fathers, who also rejected other fundamental doctrines” (Thiessen, Introductory Lectures in Systematic Theology, p. 477).

Dr. Thiessen further states: “The early Church was keenly interested in the doctrine of the return of Christ. The Apostles had held out the possibility of His returning in their day, and the next generations kept alive the “blessed hope” as something that was imminent. Not until the third century was there any great exception to this rule; but from the time of Constantine onward this truth began to be rejected until it was finally entirely set aside.”[4]

Although these and many more PreTrib writings exist, you’ll NEVER get ardent PreTrib rapture antagonists to admit it or be honest with their content since the crux of their hook or crook book campaign is based on allegations of a satanic conspiracy occurring in the early 19th century between a group of unlikely victims no one has ever linked together.  (see Appendix[i])

Paradoxically, while their battle boasts strict Biblical auspices it hasn’t been waged sola scriptura. It has risen instead on the back of untruthful accusations disguised as “scholarship” from disgruntled men conflating God’s plan for Israel with His plan for the church that over time has proven to be part of an irrational but profitable scheme with impure motives first surfacing about 40 years ago.

A Miscreant named MacPherson

The anti-PreTrib conspiracy begins with a neurotic[5] rapture-loathing news reporter named Dave MacPherson who in the 1970s began taking and twisting into books the undocumented claims of Textus Receptus enemy Samuel Tregelles. At this writing, MacPherson [6] has parlayed his hatred for the rapture into a lucrative book franchise. Using the same material over and over but under separate titles like “The Incredible Cover-Up”, [7] “The Great Rapture Hoax”, “The Rapture Plot”, MacPherson alleges – without indisputable proof – that the PreTrib rapture is a pervasive fraud that didn’t exist until 1830 when Margaret MacDonald [8] – a demon possessed charismatic member of Edward Irving’s[9] Catholic Apostolic Church[10] – conjured it up in a vision. [11] Then, according to MacPherson’s mythos, dispensational scholar John Nelson Darby pilfered it [12] for CI Scofield to publish in his reference Bible as part of a sinister plot the two cooked up to deceive Christians for no apparent reason other than the indescribable joy both men received from misleading people.[13]

The problems MacPherson’s misrepresentations present are deep, wide, and insurmountable. If there was any evidence anywhere linking Darby [14] and Scofield to MacDonald or her charismatic trance and utterances, researchers would have discovered it; especially John Bray who searched every nook and cranny and ultimately penned this,

“[Darby] rejected those practices, and he already had his new view of the Lord coming FOR THE SAINTS (as contrasted to the later coming to the earth) which he had believed since 1827. It was the coupling of this “70th week of Daniel” prophecy and its futuristic interpretation, with the teaching of the “secret rapture,” that gave to us the completed “Pre-Tribulation Secret Rapture” teaching as it has now been taught for many years. . . . (and) makes it impossible for me to believe that Darby got his Pre-Tribulation Rapture teaching from Margaret MacDonald’s vision in 1830. He was already a believer in it since 1827, as he plainly said.”[15]

The fact is, no one – including Tregelles, MacPherson, nor any of their lackey loyalists – has ever provided a shred of credible proof linking Darby or Scofield directly to plagiarizing MacDonald or to any of these appalling activities. Researcher Frank Marotta adds this: “The importance MacPherson places on The Rapture Plot reveals his spiritual condition. … It is significant that MacPherson is the lone “historian” who has argued a connection between Macdonald and Darby. Considering that there have been numerous historical examinations of both the Irvingites and the Brethren, yet MacPherson stands alone in exposing the “plot,” is rather a testimony to polemical bias, not the facts. Those anti-pretribulationists who have adopted MacPherson’s revision have done so merely on the basis of his word, not as a result of original research.” [16]

Commenting on the entire farce, Dr. John Walvoord wrote, “The whole controversy as aroused by Dave MacPherson’s claims has so little supporting evidence … one wonders how he can write his book with a straight face.” Walvoord continues, “PreTribulationists should be indebted to Dave MacPherson for exposing the facts, namely, that there is no proof that MacDonald … originated the preTribulation rapture teaching.” [17]

The outcome of MacPherson’s ruse reminds me of the book of Esther. Haman was a pompous prevaricating political insider who over estimated his value to the king. He was also a rabid anti-Semite who in a fit of rage ordered gallows built to lynch his nemesis, Esther’s uncle Mordecai. Ironically, once the king discovered Haman’s lies, the nefarious accommodations he’d built for Mordecai served quite adequately to hang Haman and his household instead. Divine reciprocity at its best!

In my opinion, MacPherson did the same thing using his mendacity as the gallows to marginalize or destroy hope in the PreTrib rapture. Surely as a seasoned reporter, he must have expected the scrutiny from PreTrib scholars he received from Dr. Walvoord and others [18]. However, how could he foresee the backlash from fellow post trib journalists he thought would cover for him? After examining his spurious allegations, they did the unthinkable; they stood him up by unmasking his deception in full view of everyone paying attention. [19]

We should do no less.

[1] John L. Bray, The Origin of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Teaching (Lakeland, FL: John L. Bray Ministry, 1982), 31.  Lacunza is a reference to the Jesuit Priest Manual de Lacunza (1731–1801), who wrote under the pseudonym of Juan Josafat Ben-Ezra, a converted Jew, The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty.

[2] Source: http://www.raptureready.com/rr-margaret-mcdonald.html

[3] Pseudo-Ephraem (c. 374-627). Source:

http://www.grantjeffrey.com/article/examining_an_ancient.htm

[4] Dr. Henry C. Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s Publishing, 1977, p.441

[5] If you‘ve read his materials you would know what I’m talking about. MacPherson actually blames proponents of the PreTrib rapture for all of his misfortunes, beginning with his expulsion from Bible college, a drunken binge in Mexico, a car accident, his mom’s death, his sister’s inability to have more children, the demonic possession of his dog, and all his father’s woes.

https://www.raptureready.com/who/Dave: MacPherson.html

[6] MacPherson’s allegations are outlandish to say the least. He incessantly pounds the drum that all who teach a PreTrib rapture are somehow culpable in the death of millions of Christians worldwide (especially the Chinese) that had been taught the rapture and suffered martyrdom! The fact is, Christians of every age- whether or not they have believed the PreTrib rapture- have suffered persecution, including today at the hands of islamic savages. While MacPherson deems it unfair that God would spare us what others were not spared begs the notion God will have to resurrect every person in history who was not vigorously and viciously persecuted or martyred. This is simply one of their most desperate- and may I add, deceptive- attempts at discrediting the PreTrib position. MacPherson and his minions should be ashamed of themselves.

[7] The outrageous nature of MacPherson’s prevarications have increased over time as books emerge under his name charging new cover ups that unbiased scholarship finds laughably ludicrous. Frank Marotta in http://www.according2prophecy.org/macphers.html writes: His latest book is The Rapture Plot. It claims to reveal “. . . the most astounding historical revisionism of the past century” (p. 138). The plot is that brethren scholar William Kelly used his periodical The Bible Treasury to conceal that J.N. Darby took the pretribulation rapture from the Irvingites. This was accomplished by alleged misrepresentations of Irvingite prophetic views in Kelly’s 1889-1890 articles on the Catholic Apostolic Church. In these same articles Kelly is alleged to have created a smoke screen by emphasizing Irvingite heterodoxy. Then in 1903 (13 years later), having discredited the Irvingites, Kelly was able to credit Mr. Darby with pretribulationism in his article, “The Rapture of the Saints, Who Suggested It, or rather on what Scripture?” This “plot” is considerably more dull than his Margaret Macdonald material and is equally lacking in any substance. That an orthodox Christian such as William Kelly should write articles exposing a contemporary heterodox sect should surprise us no more than a Christian periodical of today printing articles exposing Mormonism. Nor is it shocking that an ardent pretribulationist as Kelly would defend the history and doctrine of the rapture. We fail to see any plot at all.

[8] The rise in belief in the pre-tribulation rapture is often wrongly attributed to a 15-year-old Scottish-Irish girl named Margaret McDonald who was of the first to receive a (alleged) spiritual baptism under a Pentecostal awakening in Scotland. In 1830, she had a vision of the end times which describes a post-tribulation view of the rapture that was first published in 1840. It was published again in 1861, but two important passages demonstrating a post-tribulation view were removed to encourage confusion concerning the timing of the rapture. The two removed segments were, “This is the fiery trial which is to try us. – It will be for the purging and purifying of the real members of the body of Jesus” and “The trial of the Church is from Antichrist. It is by being filled with the Spirit that we shall be kept” [Hommel, Jason. “Margaret MacDonald’s Vision” – Jason Hommel’s Bible Prophecy Study on the Pre Tribulation Rapture. Grass Valley, California. Retrieved 23 January 2011. Quotes the account in The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets In the Catholic Apostolic Church (1861).]

[9] Edward Irving was a Scottish clergyman, generally regarded as the main figure behind the foundation of the Catholic Apostolic Church which believed in modern day apostles and sign gifts. In other words they were charismatics. [THE TRIBULATION OF CONTROVERSY: A REVIEW ARTICLE Timothy C. F. Stunt]

[10] Here’s a few problems. First, Miss MacDonald’s “prophecy” doesn’t contain any elements related to a pre-trib rapture [Read her prophecy and you’ll find she believed in several raptures and that the church would suffer under Antichrist]. Therefore, in order to get his theory in line with the narrative, he had to conflate the two accounts of Margaret’s vision. Second, no one has ever demonstrated from actual facts of history that Darby was influenced by MacDonald’s “prophecy” even if it had contained pre-trib elements – which it certainly did not. There is evidence that Darby heard about Miss MacDonald’s strange vision and labeled it demonic. Third, according to biographer historian Roy Huebner R. A. Huebner, “Precious Truths Revived and Defended Through J. N. Darby”, Vol. 1 (Morganville, N. J.: Present Truth Publishers, 1991), Darby clearly held to an early form of the PreTrib rapture by January 1827. This is a full three years before MacPherson’s claim of 1830. John Walvoord has said, “The whole controversy as aroused by Dave MacPherson’s claims has so little supporting evidence … one wonders how he can write his book with a straight face. Pretribulationists should be indebted to Dave MacPherson for exposing the facts, namely, that there is no proof that MacDonald … originated the pretribulation rapture teaching.” More information available at

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret: MacDonald: (visionary).

[11] “It is only with some difficulty that one can identify what MacPherson calls her ‘pretribulationist’ teaching in the transcript of 1840, and when in 1861 Norton quoted from her prophecy he omitted the passage which referred to ‘the fiery trial’ which ‘will be for the purging and purifying of the real members of the body of Jesus’—a passage which clearly assumes that Christians will go through the tribulation.” [THE TRIBULATION OF CONTROVERSY: A REVIEW ARTICLE Timothy C. F. Stunt]

[12] If Margaret MacDonald is the originator of the PreTrib rapture, why are there no records of her contesting Darby’s theft?

[13] This is another desperate and disingenuous deception from the other side. Roy Huebner documented from Darby’s writings beginning as early as 1827 that he was teaching a PreTrib rapture. Huebner provides clarification and evidence that Darby was not influenced by a fifteen-yea-old girl (Margaret Macdonald), Lacunza, Edward Irving, or the Irvingites. These are all said by the detractors of Darby and the pre-trib rapture to be bridges which led to Darby’s thought. Instead, he demonstrates that Darby’s understanding of the pre-trib rapture was the product of the development of his personal interactive thought with the text of Scripture as he, his friends, and dispensationalists have long contended. Darby’s pre-trib and dispensational thoughts, says Huebner, were developed from the following factors: 1) “he saw from Isaiah 32 that there was a different dispensation coming . . . that Israel and the Church were distinct.”13 2) “During his convalescence JND learned that he ought daily to expect his Lord’s return.”14 3) “In 1827 JND understood the fall of the church. . . ‘the ruin of the Church.'”15 4) Darby also was beginning to see a gap of time between the rapture and the second coming by 1827.16 5) Darby, himself, said in 1857 that he first started understanding things relating to the pre-trib Rapture “thirty years ago.” “With that fixed point of reference, Jan. 31, 1827,” declares Huebner, we can see that Darby “had already understood those truths upon which the pre-tribulation rapture hinges.” R. A. Huebner, Precious Truths Revived and Defended Through J. N. Darby, Vol. 1 (Morganville, N. J.: Present Truth Publishers, 1991; p24).

[14] Excuse my reiteration of some of this material, but it is vital that you recognize and refute the prejudicial arguments these people have invented. Brethren writer, Roy A. Huebner claims and documents his belief that J.N. Darby first began to believe in the pre-trib rapture and develop his dispensational thinking while convalescing from a riding accident during December 1826 and January 1827.12 If this is true, then all of the origin-of-the-rapture-conspiracy-theories fall to the ground in a heap of speculative rubble. Darby would have at least a three-year jump on any who would have supposedly influenced his thought, making it impossible for all the “influence” theories to have any credibility. Huebner provides clarification and evidence that Darby was not influenced by a fifteen-yea-old girl (Margaret Macdonald), Lacunza, Edward Irving, or the Irvingites. These are all said by the detractors of Darby and the pre-trib rapture to be bridges which led to Darby’s thought. Instead, he demonstrates that Darby’s understanding of the pre-trib rapture was the product of the development of his personal interactive thought with the text of Scripture as he, his friends, and dispensationalists have long contended. Darby’s pre-trib and dispensational thoughts, says Huebner, were developed from the following factors: 1) “he saw from Isaiah 32 that there was a different dispensation coming . . . that Israel and the Church were distinct.” 2) “During his convalescence JND learned that he ought daily to expect his Lord’s return.” 3) “In 1827 JND understood the fall of the church. . . ‘the ruin of the Church.'” 4) Darby also was beginning to see a gap of time between the rapture and the second coming by 1827. 5) Darby, himself, said in 1857 that he first started understanding things relating to the pre-trib Rapture “thirty years ago.” “With that fixed point of reference, Jan. 31, 1827,” declares Huebner, we can see that Darby “had already understood those truths upon which the pre-tribulation rapture hinges.” [Dr Thomas Ice-  https://www.raptureready.com/featured/ice/tt11.html%5D

[15] Bray, The Origin of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Teaching, pp. 24-25, 28.

[16] Quoted from: http://www.according2prophecy.org/macphers.html

[17] Walvoord, The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation, p. 47.

[18] Drs. Thomas Ice and Gerald Stanton among them.

[19] Post tribulation rapture author Ernest Sandeen wrote: “This seems to be a groundless and pernicious charge. Neither Irving nor any member of the Albury group advocated any doctrine resembling the secret rapture. . . . Since the clear intention of this charge is to discredit the doctrine by attributing its origin to fanaticism rather than Scripture, there seems little ground for giving it any credence. Others include Robert Reiter, Ian Rennie, William Bell, John Bray, and Timothy Weber to name a few. Source: http://www.pre-trib.org/articles/view/part-2-myths-of-origin-rapture

Appendix [i]
The PreTrib Rapture Teaching is NOT NEW

 

After author and apologist Doc Marquis had his fill of this feckless flimflam he wrote, “The blatant lie (knowingly or unknowingly) that the “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” of the Church is a new concept that can only be traced back to 1830 is simply that … a lie! I shall now present to you good people another literary list and, this one will prove, once and for all, that the “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” of the Church is “not” a new concept, but was a teaching that came directly from the Apostles themselves (dating back) “before” 1830” . . . to the 1st Century A.D.”

1) 1792 – Thomas Scott – he taught that the righteous will be carried to Heaven where they will be secure until the time of the judgment is over.

2) 1763 – James Macknight – he also taught that the righteous will be carried to heaven until the judgment is over with.

3) 1748 – John Gill (Commentary on the New Testament) – teaches of the imminent return of Christ, firstly in Rapture, and then He will return again to judge the earth (Armageddon).

4) 1744 – Morgan Edwards (founder of the Ivy League School, Brown University) wrote of his “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” beliefs.

5) 1738 – Phillip Doddrige (Commentary on the New Testament) teaches along the same lines of John Gill; a “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” perspective.

6) 1687 – Peter Jurieu – (“Approaching Deliverance of the Church”) Christ would return during the Rapture and take His saints to Heaven and later return at the Battle of Armageddon.

7) 1674 – 1748 – Isaac Watts (known as the Father of the English Hymn) wrote of his “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” belief. (As a side note, Isaac Watts was solely responsible for writing over 1,000 Christian hymns if I recall the numbers correctly. Study his life because it was truly a miraculous one by all definitions of the word).

8) 1674 – Thomas Collier – makes reference in the belief to the “Pre-Tribulation Rapture”.

9) 1532 – 1591 – Francisco Rivera wrote of his “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” of the Church beliefs

10) 431 – 1500 – Any mention of Pre-Tribulation (Millennial) Rapture of the Church perspectives are outlawed by the Catholic Church and deemed heretical and punishable by death!!!

11) 431 – The Council of Ephesus; the Catholic Church decrees and condemns Pre-Millennial views as heresy. Books and such are destroyed or altered.
The following all wrote of the “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” of the Church:

12) 354 – 430 – Augustine, Bishop of North Africa

13) 306 – 373 – Ephraem of Nisibus

14) ? – 204 – Victorinus, Bishop of Petau

15) 200 – 258 – Cyrian

16) 170 – 236 – Hippolytus of Rome

17) 150 – 272 – Apocalypse of Elijah (an Extra-Biblical book)

18) 120 – 202 – Ireaneus (“Against Heresies”)

19) 36 – 108 – Ignatius of Antioch, the Third Bishop and Patriarch of Antioch (who as a student of John the Apostle) – His “Letters of Extra-Biblical works are:

  1. Letter to the Ephesians
  2. Letter to the Magnesians
  3. Letter to the Trallians
  4. Letter to the Romans
  5. Letter to the Philadelphians
  6. Letter to the Smyrnaeans
  7. Letter to Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna

20). ?– 99 A.D. – Clement of Rome, “Letter to the Corinthians” also known as “I Clement” (an Extra-Biblical book).

 

 

Gotcha Gimmick: “There isn’t a single verse in the Bible teaching a PreTrib rapture”

Dr. Mike Johnston

This accusation is inconsequential. To begin with, this gimmick is flimsy because it ignores the fact that many subjects in the Bible require progressive revelation of a series of verses in order to explain the meaning such as Israel, the Tribulation, the Antichrist, the Davidic Kingdom, the Trinity, Heaven, Hell and many more including the rapture.

Progressive revelation notwithstanding, the burden of proof isn’t on us to prove we are raptured prior to Israel’s Tribulation – although dozens of Bible verses cited in this book collectively prove that we are. The onus is on those who insist we are here without a single verse of Scripture anywhere verifying this speculation.

Israel and Church Body Differences

Dr. Mike Johnston

Israel is a physical nation existing from prophecy awaiting an earthly Kingdom. The church is a spiritual body existing as a mystery awaiting a heavenly inheritance not known by the prophets or discussed in prophecy. The two have both existed since the world began (Acts 3:21; Rom. 16:25), but that’s where most of the similarity ends.

The distinctiveness, therefore, between the earthly nation Israel and the heavenly Body of Christ is an inescapable fact reflected in the prophetic Covenant still in effect with Israel. Dr. CI Scofield’s insight is well worth restating here: “(Israel’s) history alone is told in Old Testament narrative and prophecy [which incidentally continues through the crucifixion]; other nations are mentioned only as they touch the Jew [really consider this last statement because in it is the key unlocking this entire book]. It appears, also, that all the communications of Jehovah to Israel as a nation relate to the Earth. [1]

Notwithstanding, comingling God’s program for Israel with His program for the church Body is the “ploy du jour” among PreTrib antagonists often claiming they believe in a clear distinction while spinning unsupportable yarns inserting the church into “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7)  – aka Tribulation – where she can’t be seen and she doesn’t belong. Rightly dividing the word of truth between Israel and the Body of Christ helps clarify the reason the Body of Christ will not go through Israel’s Tribulation.

Scripture clearly teaches Israel and the Body of Christ are not the same. Every effort to diminish their distinction is a dubious distortion. It’s no secret that Satan hates God’s elect Israel for many reasons, not the least of which is the Lord Jesus Christ – God the Father’s Preeminent offspring – God the Son – from the tribe of Judah and royal seed of David who will one day rule the world from Jerusalem. In the wake of Lucifer’s contempt, he has inspired haughty [2] heretical Bible teachers to make unfounded claims –originating in the first centuries of church history – that the Body of Christ is the new Israel – aka Replacement Theology. It’s as if Satan opined after many unsuccessful attempts to annihilate Israel, “Ok, fine. If I can’t personally destroy these Jews, I’ll marginalize and malign them with a mass misinformation campaign led by a cabal of otherwise respected men teaching that the church has replaced them.”

To further help us understand why the Body of Christ will not go through Israel’s Tribulation – let’s get back to the premise underlying the truths in this entire treatise: Israel and the Body of Christ are not the same and neither is God’s plan for them.

I reiterate; the church is not the new Israel. [3] Her future is not on earth and she is not looking for – nor does she require – Israel’s judgment and punishment [4] (Deut. 30:7; 32:43; Isa. 2:19-21; Isa. 13; 24; 34;  Jer. 30-31; Dan. 7; 12:1; Joel 2; Zephaniah, see 1:15; Matt. 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21; Rev. 6-19) and purification God is going to mete out to Israel and the world during the “Tribulation” (Deut. 4:30; Matt. 24:21, 29). [5] In fact, her inheritance (Eph. 1:11) has nothing to do with the earth. She is the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27), spiritually seated in heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1-3). Her “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13) is Christ  and His imminent return in the air (1 Thess. 4:13-18) to deliver her from Israel’s Tribulation wrath [6] to come (1 Thess. 1:10; Rev. 3:10) by escorting her back to His heavenly home according to His immutable promise (John 14:2-3). [7] In short, the Body which appeared as a mystery (Rom. 16:25) will also disappear in a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51) when “the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Rom. 11:25).

Distinctives of the Pauline Body

I appreciate what Miles Stanford wrote regarding the Body of Christ as revealed in Pauline Dispensationalism:

We hold to the following indispensable tenets regarding the Church–the Body of Christ:

First and foremost, “Classic Pauline Dispensationalism is based upon the division of LIFE, not simply that of economies.  Once that total separation of the two seminal lives [First and Last Adam] is seen and maintained, the economies will never coalesce.”  The quintessence of the rightly divided Word is the doctrine of the two Adams!

“The Church (Body of Christ) was neither prophesied nor revealed in OT Scriptures.”  The Church is a heavenly entity.  The Church is not, as per covenant theory, the fulfillment of the promised blessings to Gentiles according to the Abrahamic Covenant”Abraham:Abrahamic Covenant”.  Further, the Church is not the recipient of blessing formerly promised to the nation of Israel nor of any “spiritual blessings” from Israel’s New Covenant.  God made no covenant with the heavenly Church.  The Body of Christ is unique.

“The Church was a complete mystery until revealed doctrinally by Paul.”  It is the Body of Christ and her uniqueness that is the central mystery, not the principles of grace or faith.  There is one Body of Christ, whose advent was on the Day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts Chapter 2.  The Church (Body of Christ) did not begin with the Apostle Paul, but rather his ministry was one of unfolding the truths associated with that one Body.

“Paul, in the Church Epistles, was the minister of Church truth.”  “Those who do not center in the truths which the ascended Lord communicated directly to this Apostle will not know who and where they are in Christ, nor what their part is in the purpose of God.  Neither will they know their heavenly privileges and responsibilities. Those who are ignorant of, and not centered in, the Pauline Gospel as set forth exclusively in Paul’s epistles, are constantly astray in their interpretation of the Gospel, to say nothing of Church truth.

“…for a dispensationalist it is best not to refer to the difference between the Old Testament (books) and New Testament (books), as such.  Much of the NT (Synoptic Gospels) is OT (related to Israel and her covenants): all is OT to Matthew 27, Mark 15, and Luke 23.  Church (Body) truth, the new, is totally different from Judaistic truth, the old; and it was not fully revealed until after the Cross, via Paul.”

“The thirteen epistles of Paul (Romans to Philemon) form a distinct body of truth; and this realm of truth is about us, the Church, the Body of Christ, as no other Scriptures are.  And Paul is the Father’s special messenger to us.  As has been truly said, ‘All of the Bible is for us, but it is not all about us.’”[8]

Before we advance in our study, may I insert here that all this is moot if you do not know Christ as your Saviour and Lord. If you do not, He is willing to come into your heart and life if you will ask Him. [9]

Conflating Israel and the Body of Christ

While conflating Scripture for Israel and the Body of Christ is heretical, it isn’t new especially as it relates to placing the church Body into Israel’s Tribulation where she can’t be seen and doesn’t belong.

This ruse originated almost two thousand years ago when a frightening letter arrived in Thessalonica  [10] signed by someone pretending to be the apostle Paul (2 Thess. 2:1-2). Although he had carefully and systematically expounded Israel’s day of the Lord[11] and the assurance of a PreTrib rapture to this church (1 Thess. 1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:13-18; 5:9; see 2 Thess. 2:5), this latest epistle implied Paul had apparently been deceived by divine revelation (Rom. 16:25; Gal. 1:11-12) and changed his mind. According to the letter, he evidently now believed Israel’s Tribulation beginning with the day of Christ was at hand and that all Christians were going to have to endure it.

When you discern the divine distinctions between Israel (prominent on earth), Gentiles, Church (subordinate) hinges on the prophets, you possess one of the keys for rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15). The prophets were clear as they spoke Kingdom related messages to Israel (Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21). These men never knew about the church Body, never spoke about us, and certainly never placed us into Israel’s Tribulation – which originated from prophecy and exists in the prophecy program for Israel – for a single moment. They knew this epoch has been reserved for currently unsaved Israel and anti-Semitic nations of the world.

In brief, while many PreTrib rapture combatants glibly request a single verse promising the Body of Christ an escape from Israel’s Tribulation – and I’ve provided many in this treatise – I in turn have asked for a single verse of Scripture clearly and indisputably placing the Body of Christ in Israel’s Tribulation without redefining the words “saints” and “elect” and “disciples” which in context identifies Israel.

None have because none can!

[1] This includes the future Tribulation judgment as Isaiah reveals: The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. (Isaiah 24:19-21)

[2] Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.

(Romans 11:18)

[3] Replacement theology is a rank heresy Jesus said originated in the synagogue of Satan (Rev. 2:9; 3:9).

[4] For it is the day of the LORD’S vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion (Isa. 34:8).  For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood: for the Lord GOD of hosts hath a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates (Jer. 46:10).

[5] Also called “Jacob’s (aka Israel’s) trouble” (Jer. 30:7), “the time of trouble” (Dan. 12:1), “the hour of temptation” (Rev. 3:10) as well as a few other names.

[6] This coming wrath is described fully in Rev. 6-19).

[7] We refer to this as the Rapture of the church.

[8] Copied from http://withchrist.org/pauldisp.htm

[9] That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation … For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.  (Romans 10:9-10, 13)

[10] Such was the case in Thessalonica where teachers pretending to be Paul sent letters claiming he’d changed his position and that the church was going through the tribulation (Second Thessalonians).

[11] The day of the Lord (Isa. 2:12; 13:6, 9; 34:8; Joel 1:15, 2:1; etc); a time of trouble (Dan. 12:1); and the tribulation (Deut. 4:30; Matt. 24:21-29). Bear in mind, the tribulation is part of the day of the Lord; a Jewish phrase used by at least nine Jewish prophets that centers on earth and concerns Israel, not the church (see Zech 12-14; Matthew 24; Revelation 6-19), where the focus is Jerusalem, and the abomination of desolation in the Temple (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:4).

Church Body of Christ NOT here during Israel’s Tribulation

Dr. Mike Johnston

Christ promised to keep believers from (ek) “the hour of temptation” not in it (Revelation 3:10). Anti-PreTrib rapture advocates, desperate to protect a speculative dogma have made another baleful blunder by insinuating the Lord’s promise here in Rev. 3:10 was simply to protect us during Jacob’s trouble not remove us from it. However, several problems surface in connection to this:

First, the Greek word translated “from” is ek. Used 917 times in NT, only once (Gal 3:8) is it translated through. Interestingly, this is the same word the Holy Spirit chose for Second Thessalonians where Paul discusses the Antichrist and the restraining force holding him at bay: “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out (ek) of the way” (2 Thessalonians 2:7). This seems to coincide- much to the dismay of Anti-PreTrib rapturists- with our being taken away in the mystery rapture.

Second, our adversaries claiming God’s protection during Israel’s holocaust aren’t reading a King James Bible. During Israel’s Tribulation – which is God’s wrath from beginning to end [1] 2/3 of those alive will die (Rev. 6:9-11; 7:9-10; Rev. 20:4).

Third, if Israel’s Tribulation were supposed to purify us, why would God protect us from it? Finally, since there is no reason to place us here in the midst of Israel’s Tribulation, and no Scripture to support it, why join forces with agenda driven men who in the name of “fairness” twist the Bible in a hundred different ways simply to place us in Israel’s Tribulation where we can’t be seen and we don’t belong?

[1] The tribulation from beginning to end is God’s wrath. The wrath of God through the Lamb (Rev. 6-11); the wrath of God through Satan (Rev. 12-13); the wrath of God through angels and the Lamb (Rev. 14-19).

Israel and Church Differences

February 17, 2017 Leave a comment

Excerpted from Israel’s Tribulation is NOT for the Body of Christ – Dr. Mike Johnston

Israel is a physical nation existing from prophecy awaiting an earthly Kingdom. The church is a spiritual body existing as a mystery awaiting a heavenly inheritance not known by the prophets or discussed in prophecy. The two have both existed since the world began (Acts 3:21; Rom. 16:25), but that’s where most of the similarity ends.

The distinctiveness, therefore, between the earthly nation Israel and the heavenly Body of Christ is an inescapable fact reflected in the prophetic Covenant still in effect with Israel. Dr. CI Scofield’s insight is well worth restating here: “(Israel’s) history alone is told in Old Testament narrative and prophecy [which incidentally continues through the crucifixion]; other nations are mentioned only as they touch the Jew [really consider this last statement because in it is the key unlocking this entire book]. It appears, also, that all the communications of Jehovah to Israel as a nation relate to the Earth. [1]

Notwithstanding, co-mingling God’s program for Israel with His program for the church Body is the “ploy du jour” among PreTrib antagonists often claiming they believe in a clear distinction while spinning unsupportable yarns inserting the church into “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7)  – aka Tribulation – where she can’t be seen and she doesn’t belong. Rightly dividing the word of truth between Israel and the Body of Christ helps clarify the reason the Body of Christ will not go through Israel’s Tribulation.

Scripture clearly teaches Israel and the Body of Christ are not the same. Every effort to diminish their distinction is a dubious distortion. It’s no secret that Satan hates God’s elect Israel for many reasons, not the least of which is the Lord Jesus Christ – God the Father’s Preeminent offspring – God the Son – from the tribe of Judah and royal seed of David who will one day rule the world from Jerusalem. In the wake of Lucifer’s contempt, he has inspired haughty [2] heretical Bible teachers to make unfounded claims –originating in the first centuries of church history – that the Body of Christ is the new Israel – aka Replacement Theology. It’s as if Satan opined after many unsuccessful attempts to annihilate Israel, “Ok, fine. If I can’t personally destroy these Jews, I’ll marginalize and malign them with a mass misinformation campaign led by a cabal of otherwise respected men teaching that the church has replaced them.”

To further help us understand why the Body of Christ will not go through Israel’s Tribulation – let’s get back to the premise underlying the truths in this entire treatise: Israel and the Body of Christ are not the same and neither is God’s plan for them.

I reiterate; the church is not the new Israel. [3] Her future is not on earth and she is not looking for – nor does she require – Israel’s judgment and punishment [4] (Deut. 30:7; 32:43; Isa. 2:19-21; Isa. 13; 24; 34;  Jer. 30-31; Dan. 7; 12:1; Joel 2; Zephaniah, see 1:15; Matt. 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21; Rev. 6-19) and purification God is going to mete out to Israel and the world during the “Tribulation” (Deut. 4:30; Matt. 24:21, 29). [5] In fact, her inheritance (Eph. 1:11) has nothing to do with the earth. She is the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:27), spiritually seated in heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1-3). Her “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13) is Christ  and His imminent return in the air (1 Thess. 4:13-18) to deliver her from Israel’s Tribulation wrath [6] to come (1 Thess. 1:10; Rev. 3:10) by escorting her back to His heavenly home according to His immutable promise (John 14:2-3). [7]

 

The Distinctives of the Pauline Body

I like what Miles Stanford wrote regarding the Body of Christ as revealed in Pauline Dispensationalism: We hold to the following indispensable tenets regarding the Church–the Body of Christ:

First and foremost, “Classic Pauline Dispensationalism is based upon the division of LIFE, not simply that of economies.  Once that total separation of the two seminal lives [First and Last Adam] is seen and maintained, the economies will never coalesce.”  The quintessence of the rightly divided Word is the doctrine of the two Adams!

“The Church (Body of Christ) was neither prophesied nor revealed in OT Scriptures.”  The Church is a heavenly entity.  The Church is not, as per covenant theory, the fulfillment of the promised blessings to Gentiles according to the Abrahamic Covenant.  Further, the Church is not the recipient of blessing formerly promised to the nation of Israel nor of any “spiritual blessings” from Israel’s New Covenant.  God made no covenant with the heavenly Church.  The Body of Christ is unique.

“The Church was a complete mystery until revealed doctrinally by Paul.”  It is the Body of Christ and her uniqueness that is the central mystery, not the principles of grace or faith.  There is one Body of Christ, whose advent was on the Day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts Chapter 2.  The Church (Body of Christ) did not begin with the Apostle Paul, but rather his ministry was one of unfolding the truths associated with that one Body.

“Paul, in the Church Epistles, was the minister of Church truth.”  “Those who do not center in the truths which the ascended Lord communicated directly to this Apostle will not know who and where they are in Christ, nor what their part is in the purpose of God.  Neither will they know their heavenly privileges and responsibilities. Those who are ignorant of, and not centered in, the Pauline Gospel as set forth exclusively in Paul’s epistles, are constantly astray in their interpretation of the Gospel, to say nothing of Church truth.

“…for a dispensationalist it is best not to refer to the difference between the Old Testament (books) and New Testament (books), as such.  Much of the NT (Synoptic Gospels) is OT (related to Israel and her covenants): all is OT to Matthew 27, Mark 15, and Luke 23.  Church (Body) truth, the new, is totally different from Judaistic truth, the old; and it was not fully revealed until after the Cross, via Paul.”

“The thirteen epistles of Paul (Romans to Philemon) form a distinct body of truth; and this realm of truth is about us, the Church, the Body of Christ, as no other Scriptures are.  And Paul is the Father’s special messenger to us.  As has been truly said, ‘All of the Bible is for us, but it is not all about us.’”[8]

Before we advance in our study, may I ask if you are sure you know Christ as your Saviour and Lord? If not, ask Him into your life today.

Conflating Israel with the Church to marginalize the distinction

While conflating Scripture for Israel and the Body of Christ is confusing, it isn’t new especially as it relates to placing the church Body into Israel’s Tribulation where she can’t be seen and doesn’t belong.

This ruse originated almost two thousand years ago when a frightening letter arrived in Thessalonica  [9] signed by someone pretending to be the apostle Paul (2 Thess. 2:1-2). Although he had carefully and systematically expounded Israel’s day of the Lord[10] and the assurance of a PreTrib rapture to this church (1 Thess. 1:10; 2:19; 3:13; 4:13-18; 5:9; see 2 Thess. 2:5), this latest epistle implied Paul had apparently been deceived by divine revelation (Rom. 16:25; Gal. 1:11-12) and changed his mind. According to the letter, he evidently now believed Israel’s Tribulation beginning with the day of Christ was at hand and that all Christians were going to have to endure it.

When you discern the divine distinctions between Israel (prominent on earth), Gentiles, Church (subordinate) hinges on the prophets, you possess one of the keys for rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15). The prophets were clear as they spoke Kingdom related messages to Israel (Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21). These men never knew about the church Body, never spoke about us, and certainly never placed us into Israel’s Tribulation – which originated from prophecy and exists in the prophecy program for Israel – for a single moment. They knew this epoch has been reserved for currently unsaved Israel and anti-Semitic nations of the world.

In brief, while many PreTrib rapture combatants glibly request a single verse promising the Body of Christ an escape from Israel’s Tribulation – and I’ve provided many in this treatise – I in turn have asked these men to produce a single Scripture clearly placing the Body of Christ in Israel’s Tribulation without redefining the words “saints” and “elect” and “disciples” which in context identifies Israel.

None have because none can!

[1] This includes the future Tribulation judgment as Isaiah reveals: The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall punish the host of the high ones that are on high, and the kings of the earth upon the earth. (Isaiah 24:19-21)

[2] Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. (Romans 11:18)

[3] Replacement theology is a rank heresy Jesus said originated in the synagogue of Satan (Rev. 2:9; 3:9).

[4] For it is the day of the LORD’S vengeance, and the year of recompences for the controversy of Zion (Isa. 34:8).  For this is the day of the Lord GOD of hosts, a day of vengeance, that he may avenge him of his adversaries: and the sword shall devour, and it shall be satiate and made drunk with their blood: for the Lord GOD of hosts hath a sacrifice in the north country by the river Euphrates (Jer. 46:10).

[5] Also called “Jacob’s (aka Israel’s) trouble” (Jer. 30:7), “the time of trouble” (Dan. 12:1), “the hour of temptation” (Rev. 3:10) as well as a few other names.

[6] This coming wrath is described fully in Rev. 6-19).

[7] We refer to this as the Rapture of the church.

[8] Copied from http://withchrist.org/pauldisp.htm

[9] Such was the case in Thessalonica where teachers pretending to be Paul sent letters claiming he’d changed his position and that the church was going through the tribulation (Second Thessalonians).

[10] The day of the Lord (Isa. 2:12; 13:6, 9; 34:8; Joel 1:15, 2:1; etc); a time of trouble (Dan. 12:1); and the tribulation (Deut. 4:30; Matt. 24:21-29). Bear in mind, the tribulation is part of the day of the Lord; a Jewish phrase used by at least nine Jewish prophets that centers on earth and concerns Israel, not the church (see Zech 12-14; Matthew 24; Revelation 6-19), where the focus is Jerusalem, and the abomination of desolation in the Temple (Dan. 9:27; Matt. 24:15; 2 Thess. 2:4).

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