Monday, April 20, 2009

How does our eschatology effect our practice?

There are many beliefs out there concerning eschatology, or the doctrine of the end time events; this article I will try to look at how these different beliefs effect our Churches, and personal practices.

I believe in the pre-millenial, pre-tribulational view of the end time events. I believe that we are presently living in what is termed the "Church age", or dispensation. I believe that we are in between the 69th and 70th week of the vision that Daniel saw concerning the end times. At the end of this age I believe that all those who have trusted Christ as their personal Saviour will be caught away to "meet him in the air", or be raptured. This will be the time when the dead in Christ will be raised in corruptible, and we shall be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air. Immediately after this takes place the tribulation will begin; and is a period of Gods wrath being poured out upon the Earth for 7 years. At this time there will be a great multitude come to know Christ due to the 144,000 redeemed out of each tribe of Israel, and the 2 witnesses that wield extraordinary power. As the wrath of God is being poured out on the Earth, there will be the marriage supper of the Lamb taking place in heaven. Once the days of this tribulation are fulfilled, the Lord himself will return bodily to the Earth, riding on a white horse with a sharp sword proceeding out of his mouth, and the armies (saints) of heaven following him. This is what is referred to as the battle of Armageddon, where the nations of the earth will be put down in defeat. The devil will at this time be bound up and cast into the bottomless pit for 1,000 years. Christ will at this time rule the world from Jerusalem for these 1,000 years with a rod of iron, and his saints will reign with him as he delegates them authority. After the 1,000 years are expired, I believe that Satan will be released from the bottomless pit, and go out to deceive the nations, but will soon be destroyed. Then will come the Resurrection of the unjust, and the Great White throne judgement of God, where the lost will be judged, condemned, and cast into the Lake of Fire for all eternity. The saved will then experience the New Heavens and New Earth, for all eternity with Christ. I know that there is a lot more to the end time events than this outline, but this is a basic overview of how I believe it will take place.

There are some who hold split-rapture, mid-tribulation, and post tribulation rapture views. There are also some who teach that there is no rapture at all. There are some who are post- millennial, and even a-millennial. I believe each of these views of eschatology have grave errors within them, and that the errors will make themselves manifest in some, or various ways in Churches, ministries, and personal lives. I cannot deal with all of the errors contained in the beliefs, but will try to see how they will effect our lives.

Those who hold to the split-rapture doctrine, will inevitably teach that there is a works salvation! Many will deny such a claim, but when you look at their teachings it is entwined within them so intricately so as not to be missed. If God were to punish one of his children with his wrath, it would make his word a lie, because we are not appointed to wrath. Furthermore they will say that those who are more faithful will be caught away first, and will not experience the tribulation, but those who are less faithful will have to be punished for their deeds; thus rendering the blood of Christ ineffective for the less faithful. When one is saved they receive the full atonement, and are seen as totally and completely righteous in the eyes of God, and placed on the same level as the most saintliest of all saints, in Christ. How can teachings such as this be said not to effect other doctrines, we can see so clearly how it effects soteriology (doctrine of salvation) and if we are off on that, the rest of what we believe makes no difference, because we are bound for hell!

The mid-tribulation view of the rapture is full of Biblicly irresolvable problems as well. Once again I will cite "we are not appointed unto wrath". Those who hold this point of view will certainly be effected by this doctrine as well. When one holds that we, as children of God will experience his wrath, if even for a period of time they are missing the very foundation of grace and redemption. They have no Biblical precedence for their doctrine either. When Noah was called into the ark; the flood came, he did not experience even a drop of the flood and judgement of God. Many more are the examples we could cite, but will forbear with that one. The mid- tribulation rapture leaves one with a certain fearful looking for of judgement, reserved for those false professors, who have known the truth and turned from it. Without any hope, a Church will inevitably not be as keen on reaching the lost as they should or could be, as we must have something better to offer than what the world, flesh and devil are already offering to them.

The view of the post-tribulational rapture carries with it the same foundational misunderstandings concerning the grace of God in redemption and salvation, as do the other views already discussed. This view also carries with it other absurdities concerning the visible return of the Lord for the millennium. This view, as best as I can tell does away with the time frame of the Judgement seat of Christ, and the Marriage supper of the Lamb, and puts them somewhere that I don't know where they can be found. The great absurdity though, is that this view teaches that Christ will come in the rapture on a cloud, and will immediately turn around on his white horse to the battle of Armageddon and the millennium. When one teaches these things, I have seen from personal experience that (all whom I have known to hold this view)they will become arrogant, and think that nobody else can have a clue about the Bible, due to their lack of agreement with them on this subject. This view will not only taint the doctrines of grace, but will also tend to add arrogancy to a life, ministry, and Church, which will never be conducive to spirituality.

Some out there hold to what is known of as a post-millennial view, or doctrine. This belief will present many problems for a person who holds all of the Bible to be literally true. This is a belief that Christ will return personally to the earth only after the 1,000 years of peace has taken place. Those who hold this view will typically not have a clear understanding of the true nature of mankind in his fallen state. The Bible teaches that the heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. In this sort of state of heart it will be utterly impossible for man to usher in any kind of peace to this world. We have seen numerous peace treaties throughout history, and have failed to see any of them bring lasting peace to even a region, nevertheless the entire world. To hold this view one must be lacking a foundational understanding of the nature of mankind, and this will inevitably make him less evangelistic, because he thinks all men are really pretty good. People with this doctrine will also be far less likely to hold the Bible as being literally true, and will think it to be more of an allegorical presentation of Gods will for mankind; to which I would strongly disagree.

There are also some who hold to an A Millennial doctrine; this is a teaching that says there will be no millennial reign of Christ. I do not know of very many who hold this view, and I could not say that they believe the Bible in whole or part. I would recommend any Bible believer to separate themselves from such a person and have no fellowship with them. To such a person who has given themselves over to such utter nonsense I would simply say "Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou be like unto him".

I believe upon clear examination of scripture in it's entirety; using proper study methods of comparing scripture to scripture, one will come out with the clear conclusion of the pre- tribulational rapture, and the pre-millennial return of Christ. These have been the standard of major theological intellects, and simple Christians who desire a sincere relationship with the Lord for many years. I believe both of them have scriptural precedence, and tie in with the overall plan of God. They both will help us personally with our responsibility towards God and our fellow man, and will also help the Churches to stay on track in these last days we are living in. Remember, Jesus is coming soon; so be diligent in all that you do.


Evangelist David Dunn said...

I say "Amen and Amen"! I totally agree with what Bro. Matt has stated. I encourage everyone who will to sit down and go thru the Bible and search out the Truth. It is, after all, written for us to learn from and to conduct our lives accordingly.
Thank's again Bro. Matt for bringing this particular subject up for us to dwell on.

Evangeliat David Dunn

Anonymous said...

(The following web quotes recently greeted me. Interesting. Karen)

Famous Rapture Watchers - Addendum

by Dave MacPherson

(The statements in my "Famous Rapture Watchers" web article appeared in my 1983 book "The Great Rapture Hoax" and quoted only past leaders. Here are the other leaders who were quoted in that original printing.)

Oswald J. Smith: "...I am absolutely convinced that there will be no rapture before the Tribulation, but that the Church will undoubtedly be called upon to face the Antichrist..." (Tribulation or Rapture - Which?, p. 2).

Paul B. Smith: "You are perfectly free to quote me as believing rather emphatically in the post-tribulation teaching of the Bible" (letter dated June 9, 1976).

S. I. McMillen: "...Christians will suffer in the Great Tribulation" (Discern These Times, p. 55).

Norman F. Douty: "...all of the evidence of history runs one way - in favor of Post-tribulationism" (Has Christ's Return Two Stages?, p. 113).

Leonard Ravenhill: "There is a cowardly Christianity which...still comforts its fainting heart with the hope that there will be a rapture - perhaps today - to catch us away from coming tribulation" (Sodom Had No Bible, p. 94).

William Hendriksen: "...the one and only second coming of Christ to judgment" (Israel in Prophecy, p. 29).

Loraine Boettner: "Hence we conclude that nowhere in Scripture does it teach a secret or pre-tribulation Rapture" (The Millennium, p. 168).

J. Sidlow Baxter: "...believers of the last days (there is only one small part of the total Church on earth at any given moment) will be on earth during the so-called 'Great Tribulation' " (Explore the Book, Vol. 6, p. 345).

Merrill C. Tenney: "There is no convincing reason why the seer's being 'in the Spirit' and being called into heaven [Revelation 4:1-2] typifies the rapture of the church..." (Interpreting Revelation, p. 141).

James R. Graham: "...there is not a line of the N.T. that declares a pre-tribulation rapture, so its advocates are compelled to read it into certain indeterminate texts..." (Watchman, What of the Night?, p. 79).

Ralph Earle: "The teaching of a pre-tribulation rapture seems first to have been emphasized widely about 100 years ago by John Darby of the Plymouth Brethren" (Behold, I Come, p. 74).

Clarence B. Bass: "...I most strongly believe dispensationalism to be a departure from the historic faith..." (Backgrounds to Dispensationalism, p. 155).

William C. Thomas: "The return of Jesus Christ, described by parousia, revelation, and epiphany, is one single, glorious, triumphant event for which we all wait with great eagerness!" (The Blessed Hope in the Thessalonian Epistles of Paul, p. 42).

Harold J. Ockenga: "No exegetical justification exists for the arbitrary separation of the 'coming of Christ' and the 'day of the Lord.' It is one 'day of the Lord Jesus Christ' " (Christian Life, February, 1955).

Duane Edward Spencer: "Paul makes it very clear that the Church will pass through the Great Tribulation" ("Rapture-Tribulation" cassette).

J. C. Maris: "Nowhere the Bible teaches that the Church of Jesus Christ is heading for world dominion. On the contrary - there will be no place for her, save in 'the wilderness,' where God will take care of her (Rev. 12:13-17)" (I.C.C.C. leaflet "The Danger of the Ecumenical Movement," p. 2).

F. F. Bruce: "To meet the Lord [I Thessalonians 4:17]...on the final stage of...[Christ's] the earth..." (New Bible Commentary: Revised, p. 1159).

G. Christian Weiss: "Some people say that this ['gospel of the kingdom' in Matthew 24:14] is not the gospel of grace but is a special aspect of the gospel to be preached some time in the future. But there is nothing in the context to indicate this" ("Back to the Bible" broadcast, February 9, 1976).

Pat Brooks: "Soon we, in the Body of Christ, will be confronted by millions of people disillusioned by such false teaching [Pre-Tribism]" (Hear, O Israel, p. 186).

Herman Hoeksema: "...the time of Antichrist, when days so terrible are still to arrive for the church..." (Behold, He Cometh!, p. 131).

Ray Summers: "Because they [Philadelphia] have been faithful, he promises his sustaining grace in the tribulation..." (Worthy Is the Lamb, p. 123).

George E. Ladd: "[Pretribulationism] may be guilty of the positive danger of leaving the Church unprepared for tribulation when Antichrist appears..." (The Blessed Hope, p. 164).

Peter Beyerhaus: "The Christian Church on earth [will face] the final, almost superhuman test of being confronted with the apocalyptical temptation by Antichrist" (Christianity Today, April 13, 1973).

Leon Morris: "The early Christians...looked for the Christ to come as Judge" (Apocalyptic, p. 84).

Dale Moody: "There is not a passage in the New Testament to support Scofield. The call to John to 'come up hither' has reference to mystical ecstasy, not to a pretribulation rapture" (Spirit of the Living God, p. 203).

John R. W. Stott: "He would not spare them from the suffering [Revelation 3:10]; but He would uphold them in it" (What Christ Thinks of the Church, p. 104).

G. R. Beasley-Murray: "...the woman, i.e., the Church...flees for refuge into the wilderness [Revelation 12:14]..." (The New Bible Commentary, p. 1184).

Bernard L. Ramm: " the Church moves to meet her Lord at the parousia world history is also moving to meet its Judge at the same parousia" (Leo Eddleman's Last Things, p. 41).

J. Barton Payne: "...the twentieth century has indeed witnessed a progressively rising revolt against pre-tribulationism" (The Imminent Appearing of Christ, p. 38).

Robert H. Gundry: "Divine wrath does not blanket the entire seventieth week...but concentrates at the close" (The Church and the Tribulation, p. 63).

C. S. Lovett: "Frankly I favor a post-trib rapture...I no longer teach Christians that they will NOT have to go through the tribulation" (PC, January, 1974).

Walter R. Martin: "Walter Martin finally said...'Yes, I'm a post-trib' " (Lovett's PC, December, 1976).

Jay Adams: "Today's trend is...from pre- to posttribulationism" (The Time Is at Hand, p. 2).

Jim McKeever: "Nowhere do the Scriptures say that the Rapture will precede the Tribulation" (Christians Will Go Through the Tribulation, p. 55).

Arthur Katz: "I think it fair to tell you that I do not subscribe to the happy and convenient theology which says that God's people are going to be raptured and lifted up when a time of tribulation and trial comes" (Reality, p. 8).

Billy Graham: "Perhaps the Holy Spirit is getting His Church ready for a trial and tribulation such as the world has never known" (Sam Shoemaker's Under New Management, p. 72).

W. J. Grier: "The Scofield Bible makes a rather desperate tries to get in the 'rapture' of the saints before the appearing of Antichrist" (The Momentous Event, p. 58).

Pat Robertson: "Jesus Christ is going to come back to earth again to deliver Israel and at the same time to rapture His Church; it's going to be one moment, but it's going to be a glorious time" ("700 Club" telecast, May 14, 1975).

Ben Kinchlow: "Any wrath [during the Tribulation] that comes upon us - any difficulty - will not be induced by God, but it'll be like the people are saying, 'The cause of our problems are those Christians in our midst; we need to get rid of them' " ("700 Club" telecast, August 28, 1979).

Daniel P. Fuller: "It is thus concluded that Dispensationalism fails to pass the test of an adequate system of Biblical Interpretation" (The Hermeneutics of Dispensationalism, p. 369).

Corrie ten Boom: "The Bible prophesies that the time will come when we cannot buy or sell, unless we bear the sign of the Antichrist..." (Tramp for the Lord, p. 187).

Matt Spencer said...

I like that none of these "Famous People " never had 1 scripture to quote for what they believe, or why they believe it. The reason behind this is there is no scripture or precedent layed in the Bible for what they believe. If we as Born Agian Belivers will face a single moment of the wrath of God; then God would actually be pouring out his wrath upon his own self. To deny this would be to deny the personal endwelling of the Holy Spirit by all who are saved. (Rom 8:9) Part of the work of the Spirit of God is to seal us until the Day of redemption. (Eph 4:30)There is a fundamental misunderstanding concerning the Grace of God in the redemptive work of a soul, for those who hold this doctrine. I would also always recommend that one steer well clear of the teachings of the Great Heretic Billy Graham, or Pat Robertson. With all that they are already clearly in error on I would not trust a word they say about any matter of Theological question. I notice that none of the people quoted were any of the people that are held as fundamentalist giants, as Spurgeon, Moody, Rice, Greene, Sightler or such like. It sounds to me more like these "Famous People" quoted were most likely reformed doctrine people, who would not say they held the Bible to be litterally true, and believe it in it's entirety.

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