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

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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).

FRIGHTENINGLY URGENT …

begging-in-hell-second-chance

I need to make this as frighteningly urgent as possible …

You can be certain if you DO NOT know Christ personally as YOUR Lord and Saviour, you have an appointment to face Him as YOUR Judge at the Great White Throne judgment where you will be pronounced guilty and cast into the Lake of Fire!

Revelation 20:12-15 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. (13) And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. (14) And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. (15) And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

–Dr. Mike Johnston

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).

Tithes and Offerings in the Bible

February 27, 2017 Leave a comment

Dr. Mike Johnston

The English word tithe comes from the Hebrew “asar” and “ma’aser” and literally means (one) tenth. If you consider yourself a tither, you faithfully give God ten percent of all your gross income.

Now, as simple as it sounds, over the past 4 decades of Christian ministry I’ve found certain men arguing that tithing [1] is NOT applicable in this dispensation so we shouldn’t do it. Believe me when I tell you the spirit I’ve witnessed manifesting itself against tithing is both vigorous and vitriolic. Several years ago I was victimized by the wrath of a Jezebel spirited woman who didn’t tithe and became enraged at my teaching it. Under cover of darkness, she orchestrated a smear campaign involving phone calls and visits to successfully seduce half the members of our small soul winning church into not only believing her lies, but who willingly left with her. [2]

So where does this disagreement over tithing originate?

The main allegation against tithing is a half-truth masked in Biblical legitimacy. It argues that the tithe was included in the OT Mosaic Law, which disqualifies it under grace. While this sounds good to tightfisted brethren, it’s disingenuous at the core.

To begin with, our opponents don’t mention that tithing existed some 400 years BEFORE the Law. Nor do they acknowledge that both tithing and offerings existed under the Law so if you exclude one, you must exclude the other (Deut. 12:6; Mal. 3:8).

First Mention of Tithing

“And he gave him tithes of all” (Genesis 14:18-20). The First Mention Principle of hermeneutics, teaches us that the initial appearance of a subject in Scripture tells us how it stands connected in God’s mind throughout the remainder of the Bible. The first mention of tithing occurs when Abraham returned from battle enriched with goods captured from God’s enemies (Gen. 14:1-16) and was met by Melchizedek – a type of Christ.

“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all” (Genesis 14:18-20).

Keep in mind Abraham was a man of faith, which God imputed to him as righteousness (Gen. 15:6). He didn’t respond like so many do today by asking, “Do I HAVE to tithe?” He instinctively knew God blessed him and he couldn’t wait to give ten percent to God’s man to use for God’s ministry.

Make no mistake friend, Abraham’s faith set priorities for his finances and provided a great example for all of his family as witnessed by his grandson Jacob (aka Israel) who continued the practice of giving ten percent (Gen 28:22).

The Tithe is Holy and it belongs to the Lord

“And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S: it is holy unto the LORD” (Leviticus 27:30).

The Mosaic Law incorporated 613 commandments, judgments, and ordinances regulating every aspect of Israel’s existence. Tithes were paid on all income which included the produce of the land (Lev. 27:30), and all cattle in the fields (Lev. 27:32). Tithes paid the salaries of the Levitical priesthood (Num. 18:21; Num. 18:24; Neh. 10:37) who represented Israel before God.

Hear this inconvenient truth before you oppose tithing.

Moses taught that the tithe belonged to the Lord, and thus it was holy (Leviticus 27:30). If both of these are true – that the tithe is holy and belongs to the Lord – then by keeping that which is supposed to be set apart for Him because it belongs to Him – what does that make you?

It makes you a THIEF!

“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings” (Malachi 3:8).

May I remind you that the dispensation of grace does not provide us with an enticement to sin nor does it remove accountability from believers in Christ for our actions. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).

We are stewards of God’s gifts. Tithing provides faithful stewards a prescribed accountability and accommodation for returning to God a portion of His so great blessing. Therefore, since Abraham demonstrated 400 years before the Law that tithing is the revealed will of God regarding giving, the question is not, “should we tithe?” but rather are we going to obey the will of God as revealed in the Word of God regarding it? Under Moses God’s people were mandated by Law to tithe; under grace we are motivated by Love to tithe. Woe unto those in any dispensation promoting disobedience regarding the holiness and ownership of the tithe.

“Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:9-10).

In closing, God’s Word is forever settled in Heaven (Psalm 119:89). That means that when Abraham gave his tithes, Malachi’s warning to those who weren’t tithing already existed in the eternal chambers of God’s mind. Read it again carefully because tithing isn’t under scrutiny here friend, obedience is.

[1] Most of the enemies of tithing I’ve known- and there have been a few- are stoic, stubborn and stingy; they generally don’t give anything to the Lord’s work except headaches and a hard time which they are lavish in bestowing.

[2] I give this as a warning to you. Be careful around people. It is uncanny how slick Satan is when plotting subversive activities. Unbeknownst to me, a sinister team was assembled and phone calls along with personal visits were made to our members trying to convince them I was a crook for teaching tithing. NO ONE receiving calls or visits ever warned me!

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