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Dave MacPherson’s FAKE NEWS about the history of the PreTrib rapture EXPOSED!

January 19, 2018 Leave a comment

INVENTOR OF FALSE PRE-TRIB RAPTURE HISTORY

Dave MacPherson is an individual who loves to hate pretribulationism. In fact, he has thought up new ways to express his distain for pretribulationism by fabricating a false history of the pre-trib rapture. For the last thirty-plus years, MacPherson has dedicated his life to full time rapture hating in an attempt to participate in anything that he believes will obstruct its spread.

A GREAT CONSPIRACY THEORY?

MacPherson believes that the key elements of the doctrine of the pretribulational rapture originated with a young Scottish girl named Margaret Macdonald in Spring of 1830. This is the thesis put forth in a number of books and publications for over thirty years by MacPherson, a newsman turned rapture researcher. MacPherson’s major book The Rapture Plot(Millennium III Publishers, 1994), is only one of the latest in a series of revisions of his original discourse The Unbelievable Pre-Trib Origin (Heart of America Bible Society, 1973). His books include the following: The Three Rs: Rapture, Revisionism, Robbery (P.O.S.T., 1998), The Great Rapture Hoax (New Puritan Library, 1983), Rapture?(New Puritan Library, 1987), The Incredible Cover-Up (Omega Publications, 1975), The Late Great Pre-Trib Rapture (Heart of America Bible Society, 1974).

Dave MacPherson is convinced that the popular Pre-Trib Rapture teaching of today was really instigated by a teenager in Scotland who lived in the early 1800’s. (Hoax, p. 7.) If Christians had known all along, bemoans MacPherson concerning the historical beginnings of the pretrib rapture, the state of Christianity could have been vastly different today. (Hoax, p. 180). He does not think that this research has been mere historical oversight, but rather a well-orchestrated “cover-up” which has been carefully managed by clever pretrib leaders each step of the way, even alleging that Dallas Seminary was grooming and commissioning Hal Lindsey for the purpose of popularizing the pretrib rapture for the Jesus Movement in the early 70’s. (Incredible Cover-Up, pp, 131-32). Jim McKeever, in the forward of the book, compares this pretrib cover-up to the Watergate cover-up. Before we get into the background of the pretrib rapture lets run a background check on MacPherson.

MACPHERSON’S BACKGROUND
MacPherson has dedicated his life to the cause of disrupting belief in the pretrib rapture, since, according to his interpretation, it has been the cause for great disruption in his own life. Back in 1953 I had a jolting encounter with the Rapture, is the opening sentence in MacPherson’s Rapture Hoax (p. 3). This is a reference to his expulsion from a Christian College in California (BIOLA) for propagating views that conflicted with pretribulationism. He suggests that this experience was so devastating that it accounts for a setback in his Christian life. Because of his discouragement, MacPherson and a friend went out and got drunk in Mexico and passed out. MacPherson says this was a brush with death because of the many dangers that could befall someone in such a condition in Mexico. Later, he was involved in a wreck with a car while riding his motorcycle and almost lost his left arm. But these were not the beginning of his nor his familys troubles because of the pretrib rapture.

Robert L. Sumner has noted that MacPherson has a bad habit of attributing all kinds of personal tragedies to the pre-trib teaching: his mother’s death, his sister’s inability to have more children, his own failure to follow through on his calling as an evangelist, and other matters. (Looking For The Blessed Horrible Holocaust! A book review of The Late Great Pre-Trib Rapture in The Biblical Evangelist (May, 1975), p. 8.) Sumner cites another illustration of how paranoid he has become concerns his conclusion that his lovable dog, Wolf apparently became demon possessed just about the time MacPherson was about to write his first anti-pretribulation book, savagely biting his writing hand several times. (Hope? Or Hoax? The Biblical Evangelist (Feb., 1984), p. 7.)

Trials and tribulation due to the pretrib rapture seems to run in the MacPherson family. Dave’s father, Norman, had planted a church in Long Beach, California and was doing quite well until a group of new people in the church caused a commotion over the timing of the rapture. Norman MacPherson was forced out of this prospering church because he had shifted from the pretrib to the posttrib view of the rapture. Norman S. MacPherson had authored posttrib books, Tell It Like It Will Be (privately printed, 1970), and Triumph Through Tribulation (by the author, 1944). He then started another, less successful church in Long Beach. Dave MacPherson displays a habit of blaming many of the personal tragedies in his life on the pretrib rapture teaching.

In 1983 MacPherson declared, Fifteen years ago I knew nothing about Pre-Trib beginnings. (Hoax, p. 47) He began his quest by writing to his father and received back an answer which indicated a lack of consensus among scholars, so I decided to do some research on my own. (Hoax, p. 47) MacPherson’s investigation gathered steam when he found a rare book in 1971 by Robert Norton, The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets; In the Catholic Apostolic Church(1861). The important part in Norton’s book, claimed MacPherson, is a personal revelation that Margaret Macdonald had in the spring of 1830. (Hoax, p. 47) MacPherson uses this finding to project the notion that the source of the pretrib rapture is of demonic origin through a 15-year-old Scottish lassie.

For MacPherson, his calling in life is a crusade to develop and sharpen his theory and to propagate it around the world. Operating as would any covert agent in hostile, enemy territory, MacPherson has made many trips onto the enemy turf of pretrib colleges and seminaries in order to dispense his material. His campaigns have led him to travel around the country with his message of the hidden story of the genesis of the pretrib rapture, which he believes if people knew, the doctrine would virtually become extinct. This mission has taken him to such places as Dallas Seminary, the great stronghold of the pretribs, where he speaks of distributing literature informing naive pretribers concerning their heritage. (I have retrieved two of his clandestine flyers from library books at the seminary.) As another typical example, he once blitzed a bus of students from Jerry Falwell’s college. John Walvoord has noted:

MacPherson made these charges against pretribulationism and then afterward went to great lengths to find historic verification. . . . Readers will be impressed that as a newsman MacPherson builds a strong case for his position, but will be less impressed when they begin to analyze what he has actually proved. (John F. Walvoord, The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation (Zondervan, 1979), pp. 42-43.)

MacPherson’s Claims

Irvingite Robert Norton included a handwritten account of Margaret Macdonald’s prophecy, which is said by MacPherson to be the fountainhead for J. N. Darby’s development into the pretrib rapture doctrine. MacPherson does not say that Macdonald’s utterance included a clear statement of the pretrib rapture, but that she separated the Rapture from the Second Coming before anyone else did. . (Hoax, p. 121) According to MacPherson, Darby pilfered this two-stage teaching from Macdonald, according to MacPherson, and then developed it systematically, skillfully passing it off as the fruit of his personal Bible study.

Macdonald’s so-called revelation that MacPherson cites to make his case revolves around two key phrases. Margaret dramatically separated the sign of the Son of man from the coming of the Son of man, (Hoax, p. 125) declares MacPherson based upon the phrase now look out for the sign of the Son of man. (Hoax, p. 128) MacPherson argues that she equated the sign with the Rapturea Rapture that would occur before the revealing of Antichrist. (Hoax, p. 129) He bases this on her statement, I saw it was just the Lord himself descending from Heaven with a shout, just the glorified man, even Jesus. (Hoax, p. 126)

MacPherson’s Errors

MacPherson makes at least three major errors in his attempt to argue that Margaret Macdonald originated the basis for the pretrib rapture. First, it is highly doubtful that the Macdonald “prophecy” contains the two-stage coming of Christ, as MacPherson advocates. Therefore, it would be impossible for this source to be the basis for a new idea if it did not contain those elements. MacPherson has misinterpreted Macdonald’s words by equating her use of “sign” with a rapture. Rather, she is saying that only those who are spiritual will see the secret sign of the Son of Man which will precede the single, posttrib second coming of Christ. In other words only those who have the light of the Holy Spirit within them will know when the second coming will take place because this spiritual enlightenment will enable them to have the spiritual perception to see the secret sign (not secret rapture). These are her own words:

. . . all must, as Stephen was, be filled with the Holy Ghost, that they might look up, and see the brightness of the Father’s glory. I saw the error to be, that men think that it will be something seen by the natural eye; but tis spiritual discernment that is needed, the eye of God in his people. . . . Only those who have the light of God within them will see the sign of his appearance. No need to follow them who say, see here, or see there, for his day shall be as the lightning to those in whom the living Christ is. Tis Christ in us that will lift us up–he is the light–tis only those that are alive in him that will be caught up to meet him in the air. I saw that we must be in the Spirit, that we might see spiritual things. John was in the Spirit, when he saw a throne set in Heaven. . . . it is not knowledge about God that it contains, but it is an entering into God . . . I felt that those who were filled with the Spirit could see spiritual things, and feel walking in the midst of them, those who had not the Spirit could see nothing. . . (Hoax, pp. 126-27)

Macdonald is clearly concerned with spiritual insights for the following reasons: 1) Stephen saw into heaven; he was not raptured or taken to heaven. 2) She clearly says that the sign will be seen only by the spiritually enlightened and that it would not be a natural or physical sign, but one perceived by spiritual discernment. 3) She is talking about the sign of his appearance, not an actual appearance. 4) Once a person has been so enlightened, they will have no need for direction from others, they will be guided directly by the living Christ. 5) The whole emphasis is upon seeing: John was in the Spirit, when he saw, those who were filled with the Spirit could see. Posttrib advocate D. H. Kromminga observes that Macdonald’s prophecies made it plain that the return of the Lord depended upon the proper spiritual preparation of His Church. (D. H. Kromminga, The Millennium in the Church: Studies in the History of Christian Chiliasm, (Eerdmans, 1945), p. 250.)

Anti-pretrib rapture advocate, John Bray, agrees that she was only teaching a single coming and not a two-staged event. The only thing new in her revelation itself seems to be that of just Spirit-filled Christian being caught up at the second coming of Christ following heavy trials and tribulation by the Antichrist, notes Bray. (John L. Bray, The Origin of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture Teaching (John L. Bray Ministry, n.d.), pp. 21-22) In other words Macdonald appears to be teaching a posttrib, partial rapture. Bray further explains:

It seems to me that Margaret MacDonald was saying that Christians WILL face the temptation of the false Christ (antichrist) and be in “an awfully dangerous situation”, and that only the Spirit IN US will enable us to be kept from being deceived; and that as the Spirit works, so will the antichrist; but the pouring out of the Spirit will “fit us to enter into the marriage supper of the Lamb”, and those filled with the Spirit would be taken while the others would be left. . . . Margaret MacDonald did teach a partial rapture, of course, but this did not necessarily mean that the teaching included a tribulation period FOLLOWING THAT for the other Christians. . . . It would not be right to take for granted that Margaret MacDonald believed in a tribulation period following the appearing of Christ unless she had definitely said so. Rather, it would be more logical to think that her view would have been the same as prevalent among the futurists at that time, that is, tribulation then the second coming. (Bray, Origin, pp. 20-21).

Another point MacPherson makes to support his opinion is that Margaret Macdonald was the first person to teach a coming of Christ that would precede the days of Antichrist. (Cover-Up, pp. 155-56.) This would mean, according to MacPherson, that Macdonald had to be teaching a two-stage coming. However, it is highly questionable, as noted above, that Macdonald was referring to the rapture as MacPherson insists. Also Macdonald was still a historicist; she believed the Church was already in the tribulation and had been for hundreds of years. Therefore, the Antichrist was to be soon revealed, but before the second coming. She said believers needed the spiritual sight, so that they would not be deceived. Otherwise, why would believers, including herself, need to be filled with the Spirit in order to escape the deception which will accompany the fiery trial which is to try us associated with the Antichrist’s arrival? Further, she certainly includes herself as one who needs this special ministry of the Holy Spirit as can be seen from this passage from her “revelation.”

. . . now shall the awful sight of a false Christ be seen on this earth, and nothing but the living Christ in us can detect this awful attempt of the enemy to deceive . . . The Spirit must and will be purged out on the church, that she may be purified and filled with God . . . There will be outward trial too, but ’tis principally temptation. It is brought on by the outpouring of the Spirit, and will just increase in proportion as the Spirit is poured out. The trial of the Church is from the Antichrist. It is by being filled with the Spirit that we shall be kept. I frequently said, Oh be filled with the Spirit–have the light of God in you, that you may detect satan–be full of eyes within–be clay in the hands of the potter–submit to be filled, filled with God. . . . This is what we are at present made to pray much for, that speedily we may all be made ready to meet our Lord in the air–and it will be. Jesus wants his bride. His desire is toward us. (Hoax, pp. 127-28)

Ryrie also notes a further misunderstanding of Macdonald’s “prophecy”: She saw the church (us) being purged by Antichrist. MacPherson reads this as meaning the church will be raptured before Antichrist, ignoring the “us” (pp. 154-55). In reality, she saw the church enduring Antichrist’s persecution of the Tribulation days. (Charles Ryrie, What You Should Know About the Rapture (Moody, 1981), p. 71.)

Further, there is no historical evidence that Macdonald, Edward Irving, or the Irvingites ever held to pretribulationism. So how could non-pretribulationists be the source of pretribulationism? Recently, one of the most extensive critical analysis ever produced on Irvingite doctrine declared that they were still historicist, while Darby and the Brethren had become futurist. Columba G. Flegg notes that the Brethren teaching on the rapture and the present invisible and spiritual nature of the church,

were in sharp contrast to Catholic Apostolic teaching, . . . There were thus very significant differences between the two eschatologies, and attempts to see any direct influence of one upon the other seem unlikely to succeedthey had a number of common roots, but are much more notable for their points of disagreement. Several writers [referring specifically to MacPherson] have attempted to trace Darbys secret rapture theory to a prophetic statement associated with Irving, but their arguments do not stand up to serious criticism. (Columba Graham Flegg, Gathered Under Apostles A Study of the Catholic Apostolic Church (Clarendon Press, 1992), p. 436.)

Second, in spite of MacPherson’s great amount of research and writing he has yet to produce any hard evidence that Darby was influenced by Macdonald’s utterance, regardless of what they meant. MacPherson only assumes the connection. If MacPherson’s suppositional approach were applied to the study of history, then we can make all kinds of connections between people and events. It would mean that you could prove that since Hubert Humphrey had a slick lawyer’s mind, was in Washington D.C. during the early 70’s, and was well-informed, he must have known about the Watergate break-in before it became public. Walvoord observes that,

Readers of MacPherson’s Incredible Cover-Up will undoubtedly be impressed by the many long quotations, most of which are only window dressing for what he is trying to prove. When it gets down to the point of proving that either MacDonald or Irving was pretribulationist, the evidence gets very muddy. The quotations MacPherson cites do not support his conclusion. (Walvoord, The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation, p. 44.)

Throughout MacPherson’s writings, he keeps dumping information about issues, developments, and beliefs from Great Briton during the early 1800’s apparently thinking that he is adding proof for his thesis, that the popular Pre-Trib Rapture teaching of today was really instigated by a teenager in Scotland who lived in the early 1800’s. (Hoax, p. 7.) Much of the information is helpful and interesting, but does not prove his thesis. If his research were represented as a river, it would be a mile wide (amount of information) but only an inch deep (actual proof). Even if Darby developed the pretrib rapture after Macdonald’s utterance, specific proof would be needed to make a link between Macdonald and Darby. Instead MacPherson only offers speculative guesses about how Darby used his training for the law profession to manipulate Christians by hiding the supposed true origins of the pretrib rapture. Perhaps MacPherson is using his investigative, journalism training and experience to publicly smear Darby. This leads to my final point.

Third, Brethren writer, Roy A. Huebner claims and documentshis 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. (R. A. Huebner, Precious Truths Revived and Defended Through J. N. Darby, Vol. 1 [Present Truth Publishers, 1991].) If this is true, and there is every reason to believe that it is, 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 Margaret Macdonald, Lacunza, Edward Irving, or any of the Irvingites. These are all said by the detractors of Darby and the pre-trib rapture to be bridges that led to Darbys thought. Instead, Huebner demonstrates that Darbys 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.

Darbys 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 (Precious Truths, p. 17). 2) During his convalescence JND learned that he ought daily to expect his Lords return. (Precious Truths, p. 19). 3) In 1827 JND understood the fall of the church. . . the ruin of the Church (Precious Truths, p. 18). 4) Darby also was beginning to see a gap of time between the rapture and the second coming by 1827 (Precious Truths, p. 23). 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 (Precious Truths, p. 24).

German author Max S. Weremchuk has produced a major new biography on Darby entitled John Nelson Darby: A Biography(Loizeaux Brothers, 1992). He agrees with Huebners conclusions concerning the matter. Having read MacPhersons book . . . says Weremchuk, I find it impossible to make a just comparison between what Miss MacDonald prophesied and what Darby taught. It appears that the wish was the father of the idea (Weremchuk, Darby, p. 242).

When reading Darbys earliest published essay on biblical prophecy (1829), it is clear that while it still has elements of historicism, it also reflects the fact that for Darby, the rapture was to be the churchs focus and hope. Even in this earliest of essays, Darby expounds upon the rapture as the churchs hope.

PRE-DARBY RAPTURES
In addition to the above points, there have been at least three pre-Darby rapture discoveries in the last decade. Evidence of pretribulationism surfaces during the early medieval period in a sermon some attribute to Ephraem the Syrian entitled Sermon on The Last Times, The Antichrist, and The End of the World. The sermon was written some time between the fourth and sixth century. The rapture statement reads as follows:

Why therefore do we not reject every care of earthly actions and prepare ourselves for the meeting of the Lord Christ, so that he may draw us from the confusion, which overwhelms all the world? . . . For all the saints and elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins.

This statement evidences a clear belief that all Christians will escape the tribulation through a gathering to the Lord. How else can this be understood other than as pretribulational? The later second coming of Christ to the earth with the saints is mentioned at the end of the sermon.

Francis Gumerlock, an anti-pretribulationist, claims that someone named Brother Dolcino taught a form of the pre-trib rapture in 1304. The reason that Gumerlock believes that Brother Dolcino and the Apostolic Brethren taught pretribulationism is found the following statement:

Again, [Dolcino believed and preached and taught] that within those three years Dolcino himself and his followers will preach the coming of the Antichrist. And that the Antichrist was coming into this world within the bounds of the said three and a half years; and after he had come, then he [Dolcino] and his followers would be transferred into Paradise, in which are Enoch and Elijah. And in this way they will be preserved unharmed from the persecution of Antichrist. And that then Enoch and Elijah themselves would descend on the earth for the purpose of preaching [against] Antichrist. Then they would be killed by him or by his servants, and thus Antichrist would reign for a long time. But when the Antichrist is dead, Dolcino himself, who then would be the holy pope, and his perserved followers, will descend on the earth, and will preach the right faith of Christ to all, and will convert those who will be living then to the true faith of Jesus Christ. (Gumerlocks translation of the Latin text in Francis Gumerlock, A Rapture Citation in the Fourteenth Century, Bibliotheca Sacra (July-Sept. 2002), pp. 354-55.)

Gumerlock clearly believes that this is a pretrib rapture statement as he concludes:

Two things are fairly certain from The History of Brother Dolcino. First, Dolcino and the Apostolic Brethren believed that the purpose of the rapture was related to the escape of the saints from the end-time tribulation and persecution of the Antichrist. Second, Dolcino and the Apostolic Brethren believed that there would be a significant gap of time between the rapture of the saints to paradise and their subsequent descent to earth. Because of this The History of Brother Dolcino stands as yet another literary witness for the existence of pretribulationism before the nineteenth century. As such, it challenges evangelicals to reevaluate their thinking about the history of the pretribulational rapture, especially those views that place the origin of the teaching or its initial recovery within the last two hundred years. For this fourteenth-century text demonstrates that there were some in the Middle Ages who held a theology of the rapture that includes basic elements in pretribulationalism. (A Rapture Citation, p. 362)

Frank Marotta believes that Thomas Collier in 1674 makes reference to a pretribulational rapture, but rejects the view, (Frank Marotta, Morgan Edwards: An Eighteenth Century Pretribulationist (Present Truth Publishers, 1995), pp. 10-12.) thus showing his awareness that such a view was being taught. One could not have objected to something that did not exist.

Perhaps the clearest reference to a pretrib rapture before Darby comes from Baptist Morgan Edwards (founder of Brown University) in 1742-44 who saw a distinct rapture three and a half years before the start of the millennium. During his student days at Bristol Baptist Seminary in England (1742-44), Morgan Edwards wrote an essay for eschatology class on his views of Bible prophecy. This essay was later published in Philadelphia (1788) under the following title: Two Academical Exercises on Subjects Bearing the following Titles; Millennium, Last-Novelties. The term in the title “Last-Novelties” refers to what we would call today the eternal state; “novelties” refers to the new conditions of the future new heavens and new earth, not that he had a novel view of the Bible. Upon reading the 56-page work, it is evident that Edwards published it with only minor changes from his student days. Thus, it represents a view that he had developed by the early 1740s. Thus, we can date Edwards pretribulationism as originating in the early 1740s. The pretribulationism of Morgan Edwards can be see in the following statement from his book:

II. The distance between the first and second resurrection will be somewhat more than a thousand years.

I say, somewhat more, because the dead saints will be raised, and the living changed at Christ’s “appearing in the air” (I Thes. iv. 17); and this will be about three years and a half before the millennium, as we shall see hereafter: but will he and they abide in the air all that time? No: they will ascend to paradise, or to some one of those many “mansions in the father’s house” (John xiv. 2), and so disappear during the foresaid period of time. The design of this retreat and disappearing will be to judge the risen and changed saints; for “now the time is come that judgment must begin,” and that will be “at the house of God” (I Pet. iv. 17) . . . (p. 7; emphasis added; the spelling of all Edwards quotes have been modernized)

What has Edwards said? Note the following:

He believes that at least 1,003.5 years will transpire between resurrections.

He associates the first resurrection with the rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, occurring at least 3.5 years before the start of the millennium (i.e., at least 3.5 years before the second coming of Christ at the start of the millennium).

He associates the meeting of believers with Christ in the air and returning to the Father’s house with John 14:2, as do modern pretribulationists.

He sees believers disappearing during the time of the tribulation, which he goes on to describe in the rest of the section from which the rapture statement is taken.

He, like modern pretribulationists, links the time in heaven, during the tribulation, with the “bema judgment of believers.

It is clear that Edwards believed in a two-staged return of Christ at least 85 years before Darby. Edwards pre-Darby statement is something that MacPherson cannot answer. I am not claiming that Darby was influenced by Morgan Edwards.

Conclusion

F.F. Bruce’s conclusion as to where Darby got the doctrine of the pretrib rapture appears to be correct. It was in the air in the 1820s and 1830s among eager students of unfulfilled prophecy, . . . direct dependence by Darby on Margaret Macdonald is unlikely. (F. F. Bruce, Review of The Unbelievable Pre-Trib Origin in The Evangelical Quarterly, (Jan-Mar, 1975), p. 58.) Dave MacPherson has failed to demonstrate that Macdonald’s prophecy contains latent rapture ideas, nor has he linked Darby to her influence with clear, historical evidence. This is why the doctrine of the pretribulational rapture did not begin with Margaret Macdonald. Perhaps Darby’s training at Dublin accounts for many of his views, especially his views of the nature of the church.

Walvoord concludes, any careful student of Darby soon discovers that he did not get his eschatological views from men, but rather from his doctrine of the church as the body of Christ, a concept no one claims was revealed supernaturally to Irving or Macdonald. Darby’s views undoubtedly were gradually formed, but they were theologically and biblically based rather than derived from Irving’s pre-Pentecostal group. (Walvoord, The Blessed Hope and the Tribulation, p. 47.)

Source: http://www.raptureready.com/dave-macpherson/

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Rapture and Revelation- William E. Blackstone

December 10, 2017 Leave a comment

from Jesus is Coming by W. E. B. [William E. Blackstone]

William Blackstone

[To rightly understand the second coming of Christ, it is of vital importance to recognize] the distinction between the Rapture and the Revelation.

Rapture means to be caught up, or away.

Revelation (apokalupsis) means Appearing or shining forth or manifestation (Rom. 8:19).

The Rapture occurs when the Church is caught up to meet Christ in the air (1 Thess. 4:14, 17), before the tribulation; and

The Revelation occurs when Christ comes, with His saints, to end the Tribulation, by the execution of righteous judgment upon the earth (2 Thess. 1:7-10; Jude 14).

At the Rapture, Christ comes into the air for His saints (John 14:3).

At the Revelation, He comes to the earth with them (1 Thess. 3:13; Zech. 14:5). He certainly must come for them before He can come with them. The assurance that God will bring them (Greek — lead them forth) with Jesus (1 Thess. 4:14) is evidence that He will first come for them, they being caught up to meet him in the air. Verse 17. The Greek word here rendered “to meet” signifies a going forth, in order to return with. The same word is used in Acts 28:15, where the brethren came out to meet Paul and had a season of thanksgiving with him at Appii Forum and the Three Taverns, when he was on his way to Rome. This exactly accords with our being caught up to meet Christ and afterward returning to the earth with Him.

Again, at the Rapture Christ comes as the Bridegroom (Matt. 25:10) to take unto Himself His bride, the Church (Eph. 5:25-32).

At the Revelation, He comes, with His bride, to rule the nations (Rev. 2:26-27; 5:10; 19:15).

At the Rapture He comes only to meet the saints in the air, 1 Thess. 4:17.

At the Revelation, He comes to the earth (Acts 1:11), and His feet stand upon the same Mount Olivet from which He ascended (Zech. 14:4-5).

At the Rapture the Church, like Enoch, is taken out of the world (Acts 15:13-17).

At the Revelation, the Millennial Kingdom is begun (Rom. 8:23).

In Luke 21:28, the Rapture is referred to at the beginning of the Tribulation. “When these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Redemption here meaning the first resurrection, same as in Rom. 8:23.)

In Luke 21:31, the Revelation is referred to, when “these things” (the Tribulation) have come to pass, and the kingdom of God draweth nigh.

The Rapture may occur any moment (Matt. 24:42).

The Revelation can not occur, until Antichrist be revealed, and all the times and seasons (which point to the day of the Lord) in Lev. 26, Daniel and Revelation be fulfilled.

The Revelation ushers in the day, the Day of the Lord (1 Thess. 5:2; Luke 17:30; 2 Thess. 1:7-10).

The failure to make this distinction has led to great confusion among commentators upon this subject.

For instance: In 2 Thess. chapter 2, the apostle, in the first verse, speaks of the Rapture, to-wit: the coming of the Lord and our gathering together unto Him, of which He had written so fully in the previous epistle, especially in the 4th chapter.

In the second verse he speaks of the Revelation, or Day of the Lord, which could not come, except there be a falling away first, and the “man of sin” and “that wicked,” or the Antichrist, be revealed.

And yet, most commentators have argued that the apostle, in both of these verses, referred to one and the same event, and thus they have made Scripture contradict itself.

But we see plainly, that Paul had no intention of contradicting Christ’s admonitions, unto all, to watch for His coming, as being imminent. Mark 13:35-37; Luke 12:35-40. He only made the distinction, as above stated, between the Rapture and the Revelation. The persecuted Thessalonians thought that they were in the Tribulation, and that the Day of the Lord had set in. But Paul corrects them, first by reminding them that the Lord had not come for them yet, as He had said that He would (1 Thess. 4:15-17), and then by adding certain other things which must occur before the Day of the Lord should come. He had told them that the Day of the Lord should come as a thief in the night (1 Thess. 5:2), but that they were not of the night, and therefore He exhorts them to watch and be sober (Luke 21:36).

Another evidence of the difference between the Rapture and Revelation consists in the fact that the Church is to escape the Tribulation, which precedes the Revelation (Matt. 24:29-30).

Enoch, a type of the Church, by his rapture, — that is by being caught away or translated (Heb. 11:5) — escaped the flood.

Christ says, in Luke 21:36, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”

And in keeping with this injunction He gave a blessed promise to the Church, in Rev. 3:10, viz.: “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly,” etc. A special hour, or time, of temptation — i.e., trial — is here mentioned, which shall come upon all the world (oikoumenee — the whole habitable — same word in Matt. 24:14 — all the world).

It is a time of trouble not limited to Judea, but as extensive as the inhabited earth. This accords with the great tribulation described in Mat. 24:21, a “tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world … nor ever shall be.”

Jesus promises to keep the Church from, or (ek) out of this tribulation, or hour of temptation, that is, the watchful and prayerful believers will escape it. Luke 21:36. Now, as it covers the whole earth, there is no way of escape from it, but to be taken out of the world, and this is accomplished by the Rapture. Acts 15:14, and 1 Thess. 4:17, which thus presents a glorious deliverance for the Church.

The elect (Matt. 24:22), a portion of Israel (Isa. 65:9, see also verses 15, 22 and Rom. 11:5-7), will be gathered back to Jerusalem (Isa. 1:26-27; Zech. 10:6-10), and pass through the fire, or great trial (Zech. 13:8-9; Psa. 57:1; Isa. 26:20-21). Like Enoch, the Church escapes from it.

Like Noah, Israel passes through it.

So the Church should humble herself to walk with God (Micah 6:8), as Enoch did (Gen. 5:24), having the testimony that she pleases God (Heb. 11:5), and watch for the Rapture at any moment.

The Jews, through their dates and seasons, may look for the Revelation, or day of the Lord, a day of thick darkness to them, in which there is no light at all (Amos 5:18-20). Yet, in it they will accept Christ (Zech. 12:9-10) and “at evening time it shall be light,” and “living waters shall go out from Jerusalem.” Zech. 14:6-8.

The Rapture, or being caught away, at the coming of the Bridegroom, is full of the sweetest comfort for the believer, and therefore Paul says, “Comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thess. 4:18.

But the Revelation of Christ with His Saints, to take vengeance on the ungodly, is full of solemnity and terror to them who obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ (Rev. 6:12-17; also 2 Thess. 1:7-10).


Copied for WholesomeWords.org from Jesus is Coming by W.E.B. 3rd. rev. New York: Fleming H. Revell, ©1908. Chapter 9.

Selections from Jesus is Coming

Source: https://www.wholesomewords.org/etexts/blkstone/coming4.html

Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth- Dr. CI Scofield

September 6, 2017 Leave a comment

“Scofield, Cyrus Ingerson (1843-1921), Bible student and author, born in Lenawee County, Michigan, reared in Wilson County, Tennessee, and privately educated. Fought in the Civil War from 1861-1865 under General Lee, his distinguished service earning him the Confederate Cross of Honor. Admitted to the Kansas bar in 1869, elected to the Kansas House of Representatives where he served for one year. President Grant appointed him United States Attorney for Kansas in 1873. Worked as a lawyer in Kansas and Missouri from 1869 to 1882. Converted at 36, he was ordained to the Congregational ministry in 1882, and served as pastor of the First Church, Dallas, Texas (1882-1895), and again (1902-1907); and of the Moody Church, Northfield, Massachusetts (1895-1902). Later years were spent lecturing on biblical subjects on both sides of the Atlantic. The work for which he is best remembered is his 1909 dispensational premillenial Scofield Reference Bible.” (From “The Wycliffe Biographical Dictionary of the Church,” page 362, Elgin S. Moyer, 1982, © Moody Press, Chicago, IL)

Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth by C. I. Scofield, first published in 1896, is a monumental work that explains the important divisions in scripture.

Click here to read C.I. Scofield’s “The Biggest Failure of the Church Age”


Table of Contents

Introduction

When Did the Church Body of Christ Begin?

September 6, 2017 Leave a comment

by Shawn Brasseaux

Was it Acts 2? Acts 9? Acts 13? Acts 18? Acts 28? Or later? In this Bible study, we hope to clear up the confusion surrounding this issue.

Nearly everyone in Christendom is convinced that Acts chapter 2 is “the birthday of the Church the Body of Christ” (here is a link to our study specially dedicated to refuting the “Acts 2” position, which is beyond the scope of this discussion). While there seems to be an anti-Acts-2 consensus within the so-called “grace movement,” there is often little clarity as to when the Church the Body of Christ did begin; that is, among grace believers, there is an overwhelming agreement that the Body of Christ did not begin in Acts chapter 2, but very few of these Christians can actually state with certainty when it did begin. Hence, the general term “mid-Acts dispensationalism” is applied, for some hold an “Acts 9” view, others believe in an “Acts 13” view, and still others an “Acts 18” view. There are even some who hold to “Acts 28” view, or something beyond Acts 28. It is very sad that many grace Christians seem to be guilty of being just as fragmented as the denominationalists they often deride. “When did the Church the Body of Christ begin?” is such a simple question with a simple answer, but it seems like very few are aware that God already settled the matter almost 2,000 years ago. Beloved, we grace believers must not allow denominationalism to divide us, lest we discredit ourselves and the message we so fervently claim to believe!

It is of utmost importance to our discussion to remember that the term “the Church the Body of Christ” is never found outside of Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. James, Peter, and John never mentioned it in their epistles. In fact, Jesus Christ in His earthly ministry (recorded in Matthew through John) never mentioned it (the overwhelming Scriptural testimony is that Matthew 16:18 is not the Body of Christ). In his epistles, the Apostle Paul made over 20 references to “the Church the Body of Christ” by name (Romans 7:4; 1 Corinthians 12:4,5; 1 Corinthians 10:17; 1 Corinthians 12:12,13,14,15,27; Ephesians 1:22,23; Ephesians 2:16; Ephesians 3:6; Ephesians 4:4,12,16; Ephesians 4:16; Ephesians 5:23,30; Colossians 1:18,24; Colossians 2:19; Colossians 3:15). Save Paul, no other Bible writer uses the term “the Church the Body of Christ.” Since only Paul uses that term, he seems to know more about it than anyone else in Scripture, so should we not allow Paul to tell us when it began? Rather than blindly agreeing with a grace preacher or a grace church’s doctrinal statement, we need to believe what the Holy Spirit through Paul taught and believed concerning the beginning of the Church the Body of Christ.

1. PAUL’S SALVATION IS OUR “PATTERN”

The Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 1:15-16: “[15] This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. [16] Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”

Notice the four very important words in the passage quoted above:

  1. “chief” — The word “chief” means “first, primary” (such as in Acts 14:12). For any “Greekophile,” the Greek word translated “chief” in 1 Timothy 1:16 is protos, meaning “beginning or foremost.” It does not mean “worst” as commonly thought.
  2. “first” — Means just what it says; it is the “earliest.”
  3. “pattern” — A “pattern” is “an example for others to follow.”
  4. “hereafter” — “Hereafter” is an adverb meaning, “from now on.”

These four terms are four different ways of saying the same thing—something new began with Paul. Paul was the “chief,” the “first,” the “pattern to them which should hereafter [that is, after Paul] believe on him [Jesus Christ] to life everlasting.” When Paul wrote, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief,” he was not saying that he was the worst of all sinners. In the context (look again at the four key terms highlighted above), what he meant was that he was the first of all sinners Jesus Christ saved. Yet, how could that be? What about the 12 apostles? Were they not sinners saved by God years prior to Paul? Yes, they were, but the manner by which Paul was saved, and the purpose to which Paul was saved, were different than those before him. Jesus Christ saved Paul and those after him with a special plan in mind.

The Scriptures could not be plainer that something new began with Paul’s salvation in Acts 9. Paul was the “first.” The first of what? The only sensible answer is the first member of the Church the Body of Christ (the only other group of believers God has in His Word is the redeemed nation Israel, and Israel is fallen at this point; the Church the Body of Christ had to be created in order to save Saul of Tarsus and make him Paul the Apostle). Paul was the first individual to be saved apart from Israel’s program. There had to have been a new program in Acts 9, otherwise Paul could not be saved unto eternal life (more on this later). The Holy Spirit said that Paul’s salvation is our “pattern.” Are we members of the nation Israel? No. Do we belong to Israel’s program? No. According to the Holy Spirit, and according to Paul himself, Paul was saved the same way we are—apart from Israel (1 Corinthians 15:8; Galatians 1:15) and apart from her program (1 Timothy 1:13-16 cf. Matthew 12:31-32; Romans 11:11-13; 1 Corinthians 1:17 cf. Matthew 28:19-20; Romans 6:14-15 cf. Matthew 5:17-19; et cetera).

2. PAUL COULD NOT BE SAVED IN ISRAEL’S PROGRAM

In Galatians 1:15-16, Paul writes, “[15] But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, [16] To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:…” In 1 Corinthians 15:8, Paul wrote, “And last of all he [the resurrected Jesus Christ] was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.” Paul was not a part of Israel or her program. God “killed” Israel, as one would take the life of a pregnant woman, and He delivered her unborn child, in this case, Saul of Tarsus (Paul). (Look at the “stillborn” birth Job longed for in Job 3:16, “Or as an hidden untimely birth I had not been….”).

The Lord Jesus said to the nation Israel in Matthew 12:31-32: “[31] Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. [32] And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”

Saul/Paul encouraged the murder of Stephen, and he was guilty of blaspheming against the Holy Ghost. After all, Jewish Saul was leading the world’s rebellion against Jesus Christ (see Acts 7:57-60; Acts 8:1-4; Acts 9:1-5; Acts 22:3-7; Acts 26:9-11; et cetera). Paul wrote that he was a “blasphemer” in 1 Timothy 1:13. Paul was saved, but he blasphemed against the Holy Spirit! So, how was Paul saved, and yet, how could it not break Jesus’ words in Matthew 12:31-32? Paul could not be saved in Israel’s program, for it would contradict Jesus’ words in Matthew 12:31-32; nevertheless, God opened our Dispensation of Grace, a program separate from Israel’s program, in Acts 9, and saved Saul/Paul. Saul/the Apostle Paul could only be saved if God interrupted Israel’s program with a new program, and if he was placed into a new group of believers. Paul was saved in our dispensation, not in Israel’s program; he was saved in the Church the Body of Christ, not in the nation Israel. Certainly, a new dispensation was in effect in Acts 9.

3. NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JEW AND GENTILE IN PAUL’S MINISTRY, WHETHER DURING ACTS OR POST-ACTS

When understanding the beginning of the Church the Body of Christ, we need to determine what the Church the Body of Christ is. From Paul’s epistles, we learn that it is a spiritual, invisible body of believers in Christ, whether Jew or Gentile, who have trusted exclusively in Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for their sins (Paul’s Gospel, the Gospel of Grace of 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Consider the following verses found in Paul’s epistles:

Romans 3:22: “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:” (Written during Acts.)

1 Corinthians 12:13: “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” (Written during Acts.)

Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Written during Acts.)

Galatians 6:15: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.” (Written during Acts.)

Ephesians 2:11-17: “[11] Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; [12] That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: [13] But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. [14] For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; [15] Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; [16] And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: [17] And came and preached peace to you which were afar off [Gentiles], and to them that were nigh [Jews].” (Written after Acts.)

Colossians 3:10-11: “[10] And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: [11] Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.” (Written after Acts.)

The distinction between Jew and Gentile (“Greek” delineated the prominent Gentile nationality of that day, as in the Graeco-Roman Empire) was abolished with Paul’s ministry: “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” (Romans 3:22). Paul was “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13)—Paul wrote Romans during the Acts period. Israel had fallen back in Acts chapter 7 and was now “diminishing” (see Romans 11:11-12), so any lost Jews were technically Gentiles. In Acts chapter 15, Paul agreed to minister to the “heathen” (Galatians 2:9)—this would be anyone who was not a member of Israel’s little flock, her believing remnant. A Jew who had not trusted Jesus as Messiah was still just as much a “heathen”—a child of the Devil, and an enemy of the God of the Bible—as a lost non-Jew (Gentile) (see John 8:44, Acts 13:10, and Ephesians 2:1-3).

Paul, as Saul of Tarsus, had been one of those Christ-rejecting Jews, a heathen just as sinful before God as a Gentile. Paul’s ministry and message were directed toward any Christ-rejecting lost people—Jews or Gentiles. This distinction of Jew and Gentile being done away could only be possible if Israel’s program were fallen; the distinction between Jew and Gentile is always indicative of “time past” (Ephesians 2:11-12). The Church the Body of Christ had to have begun at the very beginning of Paul’s ministry, otherwise those to whom he ministered could not be saved. Yea, Paul himself could not be saved if a new program (the Dispensation of Grace) and a new agency (the Church the Body of Christ) had not begun back in Acts chapter 9.

4. PAUL’S INCLUSION IN THE RAPTURE

Paul considered himself to be a member of the Church the Body of Christ because he mentioned himself in reference to the Rapture. The Rapture of the Church the Body of Christ does not involve Israel or her prophetic program; the Rapture actually prevents our mystery program from overlapping with Israel’s program. Had the Body of Christ began after Paul was saved in Acts chapter 9—such as in Acts chapter 13, Acts chapter 18, or Acts chapter 28 or beyond—it would make no sense for Paul to be including himself in the Rapture. Paul had a hope to be included with the members of the Church the Body of Christ at the Rapture. He says “we” not “you” throughout 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18—Paul included himself in the Rapture, which is exclusively Body-of-Christ doctrine (verses 15 and 17). In fact, remember what Paul wrote, “For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body…” (1 Corinthians 12:13)—Paul did not use the pronoun, “you,” indicating that he included himself in the Church the Body of Christ. Paul mentioned God blessing “us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3)—this is the Body of Christ doctrine, and when he wrote that God “blessed us with all spiritual blessings,” he included himself. “For we are members of his body” (Ephesians 5:30)—Paul included himself in the Body of Christ. To have the Body of Christ begin after Paul’s salvation is to ignore the many verses that indicate that Paul was a member of the Body of Christ.

5. THE DANGERS OF STARTING THE BODY OF CHRIST AFTER ACTS 9 (SUCH AS ACTS 13, ACTS 18, ACTS 28, OR BEYOND)

To begin the Church the Body of Christ at some time other than Acts chapter 9 is to ignore the foregoing verses and passages. Furthermore, a non-Acts-9 view of the Body of Christ will introduce increasing confusion into your Christian life and the lives of those around you. You lose Paul’s salvation as your pattern, you make your Christian life less clear, and you make the transitional period of Acts more confusing. Without going into too much detail, we will briefly comment about the “Acts 13,” “Acts 18,” and “Acts 28” positions:

ACTS 13.

This position is taken because Paul began his apostolic journeys at the beginning of this chapter. Furthermore, Acts 13:46 is used to justify this position: “Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” Some use this verse to contend that Paul will go unto Gentiles from this time on, so the Gentile body of Christ could not begin until Acts chapter 13. Still, we understand that Paul was considered a Gentile because he had rejected Jesus Christ and was a “heathen” (Israel had fallen in Acts 7, see Point #2, “Paul could not be saved in Israel’s program”). Moreover, the Body of Christ had already begun with Paul’s salvation in Acts 9 (see previous comments). Had the Body of Christ begun in Acts chapter 13, Paul could not have been saved unto eternal life. The clear teaching of Acts 13:46 is this—it was Paul’s announcement to unbelieving Israel in Asia (modern-day Turkey) that God had now changed His dealings with mankind, that Israel was now fallen and diminishing. Nothing more.

ACTS 18.

Acts 18:8 is used to teach that the Gentile Body of Christ began in Acts 18: “And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean; from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.” Yet, by this time, Paul had already gone to Gentiles—he spoke with the pagan Greeks in Athens in Acts chapter 17. In Acts 18:8, Paul was not saying that the Body of Christ was now beginning. He was simply announcing in a new region (Europe) to unbelieving Israel that his ministry was amongst Gentiles. He was speaking to a new Jewish audience to inform them that JEHOVAH God had now changed His dealings with mankind, that Israel was now fallen and diminishing. To begin the Church the Body of Christ in Acts chapter 18 is to divorce ourselves from Paul’s earliest epistles—Thessalonians and Galatians.

ACTS 28.

Acts 28:28 is used to support the Acts 28 position: “Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.” This does not say that God’s salvation will go to the Gentiles; by this time, we have seen that it has already gone to the Gentiles and is going to the Gentiles (recall our earlier comments). The Body of Christ had begun long before Paul announced those words in Acts 28:28—some 30 years earlier actually. Acts 28:28 was Paul speaking in Rome, the world’s capital at this time. “Acts 28” is a particularly dangerous position to take because it divorces you from Paul’s Acts epistles (Galatians, Thessalonians, Corinthians, and Romans) and makes you believe they are not to or about you—Paul never divides his epistles between one section of the Body of Christ in Acts and another section of the Body of Christ after Acts. The admonition in 2 Timothy 2:15 refers to all of the Bible, and does not teach “rightly dividing” Paul’s epistles.

Acts 13:46, Acts 18:8, and Acts 28:28 are not the beginning of the Body of Christ and, despite what some “grace” people may tell you, they are not indicative of such. These three verses should be considered one unit, for they comprise a three-fold announcement that the Apostle Paul made to unbelieving Israel in three separate regions. God was now going and had gone to the Gentiles, and Israel’s prophetic program was diminishing. By the time of Acts 28, that transition period was over. How clear, how simple!

CONCLUSION

We so-called “mid-Acts dispensationalists” agree that the Church the Body of Christ did not begin in Acts chapter 2 (as “traditional dispensationalism” teaches). Yet, there is often great confusion and doubt concerning when it did begin (hence the broad term “mid-Acts”). Some say it was Acts chapter 9, others Acts chapter 13, still others Acts chapter 18, and some even say Acts chapter 28 or later. Indeed, it sounds just as bad as denominationalism in Christendom! Mid-Acts dispensationalists often blame traditionalists (denominational people) for holding to the “traditions of men” to advance a particular church’s viewpoint regarding Scripture. Sadly, however, some so-called “mid-Acts dispensationalists” are just as guilty of this error. One glance at the “Acts 9/13/18/28” controversy demonstrates that religious tradition and preconceived notions often deceive, divide, and defeat us “mid-Acts dispensationalists” just as it does denominational Christendom.

Honestly, some years ago, when I first learned of the Acts 9/13/18/28 division within “grace circles,” I grew very discouraged. I had left my religious confusion in a denominational church behind, only to wind up with more confusion parading as “grace doctrine.” I wanted to know when the Church the Body of Christ began so that I could then determine what parts of the Bible on which to focus the most. It took me at least two or three years to finally learn the truth about the matter (during that time, many “grace people” were telling me different things, and they seemed to be just as confused as I was). When I finally studied the Scriptures on my own, I was thrilled to see how clear the Bible was regarding the issue. Acts chapter 9, the Apostle Paul’s salvation, was the beginning of the Church the Body of Christ; to say otherwise is to cause abounding confusion.

Dear friends, the fragmentation of grace believers regarding the beginning of the Body of Christ, often aids the Adversary’s cause in keeping God’s truth hidden. Having struggled with this issue myself, I can personally testify to that. Furthermore, this Acts 9/13/18/28 conflict affords our denominational critics another reason to undermine our stand on Paul’s special apostleship/ministry to us Gentiles and our stand in the Gospel the Lord Jesus Christ committed first to his trust. Thus, the question, “When did the Church the Body of Christ begin?,” is one of the most important questions the Bible student will face. He or she must answer it using Bible verses, not religious tradition (even if that church tradition parades under the guise of “grace doctrine!”).

If we are to be a pure church, we too must discard traditions, even if “grace” brethren believe and teach them! No question about it, the Apostle Paul was the first member of the Church the Body of Christ. It is not that difficult to understand unless we refuse to see it for sake of keeping our own traditions.

Source: https://ambassadorsfortherisenchristministries.org/2014/07/29/when-did-the-church-the-body-of-christ-begin/

Eternal Security Brief

September 2, 2017 Leave a comment

 

Dr. Mike Johnston

The following factors underwriting eternal security are expressive rather than exhaustive.

  1. We are saved as a result of the finished work of Jesus Christ at Calvary (John 17:4; 19:30; Heb. 4:3). If it depends on us in the least little bit, we become Co-Redeemers with Him.
  2. It is believing, not performing, that saves us: (Eph. 2:8-9).
  3. If our faith fails, His sustains us: (2 Tim. 2:13).
  4. Salvation by faith alone glorifies Christ who died for us and will one day present us to the world as trophies of His grace: (Eph. 5:25-27).
  5. It is Christ, not ourselves, who makes us acceptable before God: (Eph. 1:6).
  6. Redemption is a present possession of every born again believer in Christ: (Eph. 1:7).
  7. If the dos and don’ts of the Mosaic Law didn’t save anyone then, why would any set of dos and don’ts save anyone, or keep anyone saved now (Rom. 3:19-20; 10:3-4)?
  8. Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Rom. 10:13). If salvation can be lost, this verse is not true.
  9. We are born again (regenerated) from above: (John 3:3-5). There isn’t a verse anywhere in the Bible teaching this process can be reversed!
  10. We have been redeemed by His blood: (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14). Redemption means to be purchased, like from a slave market.
  11. It is Christ’s righteousness not our own, that provides us right standing before God: (Rom. 3:21-28; Phil. 3:9; Titus 3:5).
  12. We have been forgiven all sin: (Rom. 4:7; Eph. 1:7).
  13. We are now and forever, the children of God: (John 1:12).
  14. We are never to be condemned: (John 3:18; 5:24; Rom. 8:1) This includes future condemnation in Hell, dear friend.
  15. We can’t be lost by Christ: (John 6:39-40).
  16. If salvation can be lost, how strange that no theologian in the history of the church has ever been able to set forth the precise moment is will be taken from us.
  17. We are in Christ’s hand and in the Father’s hand never to be removed (John 10:28-29).
  18. Verses promising everlasting life to those placing faith in Christ must be extracted from Scripture is salvation can at any point, for any reason, be forfeited.
  19. We are reckoned by God to be sinless: (Rom. 4:7-8; 8:33; Col. 2:13).
  20. We are citizens of Heaven: (Eph 2:19; Phil. 3:20).
  21. We have entered into His rest: (Heb. 4:3).
  22. We have been made perfect forever by the offering of Christ: (Heb. 10:14).
  23. We can never ever be snatched out of Jesus’ hand: (John 10:28)
  24. We can never ever be snatched out of the Father’s hand: (John 10:29)
  25. We have been delivered from the wrath to come: (1 Thess. 1:10)
  26. We are dead: (Col. 3:1-3). Death permanently removes us from the earthly realm as Paul explains in this passage of Scripture.
  27. We have been justified (declared not guilty of all sin) by faith: (Rom. 3:28) If right living got us declared not guilty, Christ died for nothing – (Gal. 2:21).
  28. We furthermore, have had all charges dropped against us: (Rom. 4:7-8; 2 Cor. 5:19; Col. 2:13-14; Heb. 10:17-18).
  29. We are (spiritually and positionally) in Christ: (Ephesians 1:1,3,10,12,20; 2:6,10,13).
  30. We are being kept secure by God: (Phil. 1:6; Col. 3:3).
  31. We are sanctified (set apart permanently): (1 Cor. 6:11; Heb. 10:10).
  32. We are seated in Heaven with Christ now: (Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1-3). Nowhere in Scripture are we ever removed or unseated from this lofty position.
  33. We are sealed unto the day of redemption (Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30). The redemption spoken of here is the ultimate deliverance of all believers by the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:14).
  34. We are a brand new creation; a new person: (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15; Eph. 4:24).
  35. We have everlasting life as a present ongoing possession: (John 3:16, 36; 5:24; 6:47) Greek scholar AT Robertson’s Word Studies says that we have this here, and now, and for all eternity.
  36. We are as righteous as the Lord: (1 Cor. 1:30; Rom. 3:25; 2 Cor. 5:21) Righteousness comes purely from believing in God, not in doing a thing- (Rom. 3:22). It gives us the same standing with God as Christ has with Him, since His righteousness has been transferred to us through faith (Rom. 3:25).
  37. We are saved completely by grace apart from personal worth, merit, or ability (Rom. 1:15; 4:16; Eph. 2:8-9).
  38. We were chosen to be saved on the basis of God’s foreknowledge (Rom. 8:29-30) before God created the world (Eph. 1:4) If we could lose our salvation, then God is not omniscient in that He made a mistake choosing us.
  39. We are preserved in Christ: (Jude 1:1) The Greek word here, according to Strong is tay-reh’-o, and it means to guard from loss or injury, properly keep an eye on; in other words they live in complete protection. Scofield wrote: “Assurance is the believer’s full conviction that, through the work of Christ alone, received by faith, he is in possession of a salvation in which he will be eternally kept.”
  40. For every verse submitted by limited security advocates to “prove” salvation can be lost, a plethora exist to contradict it.

The Epistles of Paul

September 1, 2017 Leave a comment

The Epistles of the Apostle Paul have a very distinctive character. All Scripture, up to the Gospel accounts of the crucifixion, looks forward to the cross, and has primarily in view Israel, and the blessing of the earth through the Messianic kingdom. But “hid in God” (Ephesians 3:9) was an unrevealed fact–the interval of time between the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ and His return in glory; and an unrevealed purpose– the outcalling of the ecclesia, the church which is Christ’s body. In Mat. 16, our Lord announced that purpose, but wholly without explanation as to how, when, or of what materials, that church should be built, or what should be its position, relationships, privileges, or duties.

All this constitutes precisely the scope of the Epistles of Paul. They develop the doctrine of the church. In his letters to seven Gentile churches (in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse, and Thessalonica), the church, the “mystery which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God” (Ephesians 3:9), is fully revealed, and fully instructed as to her unique place in the counsels and purposes of God.

Through Paul alone we know that the church is not an organization, but an organism, the body of Christ; instinct with His life, and heavenly in calling, promise, and destiny. Through him alone we know the nature, purpose, and form of organization of local churches, and the right conduct of such gatherings. Through him alone do we know that “we shall not all sleep,” that “the dead in Christ shall rise first,” and that living saints shall be “changed” and caught up to meet the Lord in the air at His return.

But to Paul was also committed the unfolding of the doctrines of grace which were latent in the teachings of Jesus Christ. Paul originates nothing, but unfolds everything, concerning the nature and purpose of the law; the ground and means of the believer’s justification, sanctification, and glory; the meanings of the death of Christ, and the position, walk, expectation, and service of the Christian.

Paul converted by the personal ministry of the Lord in glory, is distinctively the witness to a glorified Christ, Head over all things to the church which is His body, as the Eleven were to Christ in the flesh, the Son of Abraham and David.

The chronological order of Paul’s Epistles is believed to be as follows: 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Romans, Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, 1 Timothy, Titus, 2 Timothy. Hebrews has a distinctive place, nor can the order of that book amongst the writings of Paul be definitely fixed.

The Two Silences

Two periods in the life of Paul after his conversion are passed over in a silence which is itself significant–the journey into Arabia, from which the Apostle returned in full possession of the Gospel explanation as set forth in Galatians and Romans; and the two silent years in prison in Caesarea, between his arrest in the temple at Jerusalem and his deportation to Rome.

It was inevitable that a trained intellect like that of Paul, a convinced believer in Mosasism, and, until his conversion on the Damascus road, an eager opposer of Christianity, must seek the underlying principles of the Gospel. Immediately after his conversion he preached Jesus as the Messiah; but the relation of the Gospel to the Law, and, in a lesser degree, of the great Jewish promises, needed clear adjustment if Christianity was to be a reasonable faith, and not a mere dogma. In Arabia Paul sought and found that adjustment through revelation by the Spirit. Out of it came the doctrinal explanation of salvation by grace through faith, wholly apart from the law, embodied in Galatians and Romans.

But the Gospel brings the believer into great relationships–to the Father, to other believers, to Christ, and to the future purposes of God. It is not only a salvation from sin and the consequences of sin, but into an amazing place in the Divine counsels. Furthermore, the new thing, the church in its various aspects and junctions, demanded clear revelation. And these are the chief themes of the Epistles written by Paul from Rome, and commonly called the Prison Epistles–Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians. It is contrary to the method of inspiration, as explained by Paul himself, to suppose that these crowning revelations were made apart from deep meditation, demanding quietness, and earnest seeking. It seems most congruous with the events of Paul’s life to suppose that these great revelations came during the silent years at Caesarea–often spoken of as wasted. (Old Scofield Reference Bible)

Chronology of Paul’s Letters

First Thessalonians 52 AD Philippians 62 AD
Second Thessalonians 52 AD Colossians 62 AD
First Corinthians 57 AD Philemon 63 AD
Second Corinthians 57 AD Titus 64-65 AD
Galatians 55-57 AD First Timothy 64-65 AD
Romans 57-58 AD Second Timothy 66-67 AD
Ephesians 62 AD *Hebrews 64-65 AD

The Rapture and Right Division

Dr. Mike Johnston

Rightly dividing the word of truth makes it clear that Israel’s Tribulation is NOT for the Body of Christ. Right division encompasses two programs (prophecy and mystery) that have existed “since the world began” – designed by God to cover three periods: time past, but now, and ages to come. [1] Conflating the prophecy and mystery programs generally leads to disorder, disputations (as seen in the emergence of denominations), and ultimately deception. [2]

Prophecy (Luke 1:70; Acts 3:21) [3] came through the prophets featuring events primarily surrounding Israel’s coming King and His kingdom on earth; while the mystery (Rom. 16:25) [4] was unknown to the prophets and given initially to Paul concerning the church Body of Christ promised an inheritance in heaven where we are now spiritually seated there with Christ. [5] Before Israel’s Tribulation leading to her kingdom can begin, the church Body that appeared as a mystery (Rom. 16:25) must first disappear in a mystery (1 Cor. 15:51).

Key to understanding eschatology is Israel, God’s preeminent earthly nation. God spoke her into existence through specially appointed and anointed messengers called prophets. These men collectively prophesied five unilateral covenants promising Israel perpetuity of lineage (Abrahamic Covenant), land (Land Covenant), Law (Mosaic Covenant), Lordship (Davidic covenant), and longevity (New Covenant). These messages were clarified over time through a means known as progressive revelation featuring the promise of a Messianic King who will inaugurate a universal kingdom that will flourish for a thousand years [6] of unprecedented peace (Micah 4:2-4; Isaiah 32:17-18), joy (Isaiah 61:7, 10), comfort (Isaiah 40:1-2), prosperity, and health (Amos 9:13-15; Joel 2:28-29). Its location is Jerusalem, city of David (2 Kings 14:20), the blessed Zion of God (Isa. 30:19).

About 2000 years ago, this Covenanted kingdom was offered by John the Baptist, Christ, and the twelve disciples who all preached the Gospel of the Kingdom and its requisite repentance (Matt. 3:2; 4:17, 23; 10:7; John 1:45; see Gal. 2:7-9). However, Israel’s rejection of the Kingdom summoned God’s judgment decreed in eternity past expressly to prepare and purify her, earth,[7] and collaterally the Gentile nations supporting Israel prior to the Kingdom in the latter days (Deut. 4:30; Jer. 23; 30-31; Dan. 10:14; etc). Scholars – using vernacular from Moses (Deut. 4:30), Christ (Matt. 24:21, 29), and John the Revelator (Rev. 7:14) – refer to this period of judgment on Israel and the inhabitants of earth as (the) Tribulation.

Beginning with Moses [8] the prophets progressively outlined and revealed Israel’s Tribulation (study Isaiah 24-26; Jer. 30-31; Ezekiel 34-48; Dan. 12; Revelation 6-20). They described it with names defining it, like the time of (Jacob’s) trouble (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:15); day of His wrath (Psa. 110:5; Isa. 13:9; Ezek. 7:19; Zeph. 1:15; Rev. 6:17; 11:18; 14:10);  and a number of other euphemisms all connected to the day of the Lord (Isa. 2:12; 13:6, 9; Joel 2:1; see Isa. 13:9, 13; Ezek. 7:19).

We see a foreshadowing of purpose for Israel’s Tribulation judgment in the Book of Judges, which tells the story of a loving God retrieving His rebellious nation. “And the anger of the LORD was hot against Israel; and he said, Because that this people hath transgressed my covenant which I commanded their fathers, and have not hearkened unto my voice; I also will not henceforth drive out any from before them of the nations which Joshua left when he died: That through them I may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the LORD to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not” (Judges 2:20-22-bold added). The Tribulation will result in her final repentance with full restoration when Christ the Jewish Messiah returns full view at the Revelation followed by the Kingdom.

Context vs. pretext

Biblical truth in context is conclusive. You can accept it or reject it, but the fact is, it doesn’t lie and it won’t change. To be fair with it, I listed most every major passage of Scripture dealing with the time of Jacob’s trouble – aka Jacob’s (Israel’s) Tribulation “trouble” (Jer. 30:7; Dan. 12:1; Zeph. 1:15). You can verify what I’m telling you by studying each of the passages in full context as they appeared throughout this treatise. If you are willing to conduct the comprehensive research as I personally have, you will discover a grave dilemma experienced by all of our opponents. The church Body can’t be located on earth during Israel’s Tribulation.

Consider this with your King James Bible open to Tribulation passages. Israel and the Gentile nations associated with her are indisputably identified on earth during this time. Since they are, wouldn’t it stand to reason the church Body would be just as easy to spot? Let’s take a closer look.

Open an Exhaustive Concordance for the King James Bible (ie Strong’s) and search carefully the 117 times in the KJV that the singular or plural of the word church appears. Do the same with all variations of Paul’s designation, Body of Christ.

Here’s what we find.

If the church Body is on earth during Israel’s Tribulation, it is impossible to clearly identify. Wouldn’t the Lord want us to be able to recognize our dilemma so we could prepare? It would have been a simple thing for the Holy Spirit to inspire the use of the word church or Body of Christ in any of the scores of Tribulation passages IF we were actually here, wouldn’t it?

So why didn’t He? The inconvenient fact is, there isn’t a single mention in a single verse within context of Israel’s Tribulation that specifically mentions us being here. NOT ONE!

Was this an oversight? A mistake? Translator’s error? A deliberate deception? No! We aren’t here!

Notwithstanding, here’s the desperate solution from our narrative hawking adversaries.

Interpretation or lying

Interpretation is one thing, but lying is quite another. Since our adversaries have no indisputable Scriptural evidence, the only way they can put us on earth in Israel’s Tribulation is by employing unorthodox interpretation methods I call “Houdini hermeneutics”.

Any good illusion includes a good distraction. Rapture antagonists do this by impugning the longevity of the PreTrib doctrine, causing us to invest our time and resources in a non-essential issue. Dave MacPherson – more on his artifices later – is one of the most skilled at this. Then, with our attention diverted, they are free to complete the trick. One ploy is to remove from context and redefine three words fundamental to their fraud, “saints”, “elect”, and “disciples”.

Now again, I urge you to open your King James Bible and your concordance to study the setting and the definitions of all three words. In context from Daniel, the Olivet Discourse, and Revelation, they all refer to Israel not to the Body of Christ as hotly pushed in anti-PreTrib claptrap.

So what’s wrong with giving one’s personal interpretation? Nothing if that’s what it is. My experience tells me this is something more.

Let’s suppose you witnessed a crime that a man you hated was charged with. Although you didn’t actually see his face, you could interpret that the defendant was the perpetrator because your friends said so, and the prosecutor wanted you to agree with them in a testimony against him.

So, in the final analysis, would you go along to get along by compromising your integrity to help convict a man you admittedly hated but had no indisputable evidence to condemn?

In all honesty, if you did, this wouldn’t merely be you offering your interpretation. This would be you bearing false witness.

It is definitely something to think about, is it not?

[1] Time past (Eph. 2:11-12; but now (Eph. 2:4); ages to come (Eph. 2:7).

[2] This is what the cults do, ie SDAs, JWs, Mormons, Romanists, etc.

[3] As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: (Luke 1:70).

[4] Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

(Romans 16:25)

[5] Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, (Ephesians 1:20). And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (Ephesians 2:6)

[6] John the Revelator revealed the Kingdom will last on Earth 1000 years (Rev. 20:2-7)

[7] Therefore I will shake the heavens, and the earth shall remove out of her place, in the wrath of the LORD of hosts, and in the day of his fierce anger. (Isaiah 13:13). But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation. (Jeremiah 10:10)

[8] When thou [Israel] art in tribulation and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days  (Deuteronomy 4:30- bracket comment added).

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