THE RAPTURE SERIES 2: THE LORD HIMSELF SHALL DESCEND FROM HEAVEN

0 RAPTURE

It is of great importance that we completely understand what the Rapture is all about, therefore, we are using certain passages repeatedly or reanalyzing events which support this teaching from different perspectives. Remember the apostle Paul’s writings to the Philippians: “…To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe” (Philippians 3:1).

“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: “‘ (1st Thessalonians 4:16a). This verse deals with three important aspects:

1) THE LORD HIMSELF

Because of its immense significance, we highlight the point that the Lord “Himself” will come. It might be worth mentioning some occasions in the Bible that illustrate the significance of God Himself directly in contact with man.
• The Lord came down to see the Tower of Babel.
• Abraham spoke to God as a friend.
• Moses spoke with God face to face.
• Elijah saw the “Lord pass by.”
• Ezekiel saw the likeness of the glory of God.

Our Lord Jesus must come, Himself, to meet His Bride. He will not come to earth, but we will meet Him in the clouds of Heaven.

After the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, He will come back to Israel, and His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives. Israel will then experience national salvation and the nations of the world will be judged.

2) WITH THE VOICE OF THE ARCHANGEL

After having looked at the first event, “the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven,” we now turn our attention to the words “with a shout, with the voice of the archangel. ”
Whether the “shout” belongs to the Lord Himself or to the archangel is not clear in this verse. Luther translates the phrase as “with a field command.” Other translations confirm this although the word “shout” is somewhat underemphasized in the King James translation. In any event, the source of the “shout” is not the issue. In this study, we want to reveal the deeper meaning of the “voice of the archangel.” The next few points will clarify its identity, purpose, and result.

Who Is Michael The Archangel?

In the King James translation, Michael is the only being who carries the title “archangel.” His name means “Who is as God?” In the book of Daniel, he is called “Michael, one of the chief princes.” Incidentally, this indicates that he is not the only one but obviously one of others (Daniel 10:13). In Daniel 10:21, he is identified as “Michael your prince” which is proven in Daniel 12:1, “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people….” These verses make it unquestionably clear that Michael the archangel, the great prince, can be considered the guardian of God’s earthly people: Israel.

Only one time throughout the Bible do we find a name attached to the title of archangel. In Jude 9 we read, “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.”

Moses’ body was protected for a special purpose. Later he would appear on the Mount of Transfiguration, accompanied by Elijah, to talk with Jesus about His death, “And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem”‘(Luke 9:30-31).

3) WITH THE TRUMP OF GOD

In the King James version, the “last trump” is found in 1st Corinthians 15:51-52 where the apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, speaks about the events of the Rapture, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” This trump is referred to as the “trump of God.”

This trump of God is identified as “the last trump.” Keeping this in mind will help us to better understand the uniqueness of the last trump of God in comparison with all of the other trumpets mentioned in the Bible.

What Is A Trump?

A trump is an instrument manufactured from a variety of metals designed to amplify sound. During early history, the trump was an effective means of communication.
Today, our news media are the trumpets. Modern trumpeters can instantaneously proclaim messages around the world.

Unfortunately, the trumpeters in our day often send confusing messages. If we constantly heeded the news media, we would have to change our habits frequently. For example, we were once warned of the danger of eating butter and eggs; recent reports tell us that these foods are now good for our health.

Airbags installed in new cars were initially heralded as the ultimate safety precaution; now auto manufacturers give consumers the option of switching off the airbag device because of the danger that young children could be killed by the bag.

For every claim presented in the media, there are dozens of counter claims. The debate and confusion continues, particularly in regards to politics.

The first mention of a trumpet in the Bible was when the children of Israel gathered at Mt. Sinai and God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. This trumpet is significant because it does not relate to the other trumpets in the Bible.

Exodus 19 speaks of God’s people gathering to hear His command.

Apparently, the trumpet that the people heard was not a trump made by man, but it was the trump of God.

Heavenly Trumpets

In the last book of the Bible, the first three chapters of Revelation address seven churches in Asia Minor. These churches represent what we believe to be all churches throughout the dispensation of the Church age, even until today.
We believe this because after addressing each local church, John states, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 3:22). That means that the warnings, and/or praises uttered to each of the seven churches apply to all churches at all times.

Revelation Chapter 4 begins, “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter” (verse 1). In this context the trumpet is not an instrument of communication, but the trump itself speaks, “…a trumpet talking with me…”What did the trumpet say? “… Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.”

This “talking trumpet” differs from the other trumpets we’ve read about in the Old Testament because it was not built by man; it is in Heaven!

In the fourth and fifth chapters of Revelation, John was confronted with the indescribable attributes of God. The next two chapters show the judgments which will come upon the earth as each of the seven seals of the book are broken. As a result, devastating catastrophes will take place.

Seven Angels And Seven Trumpets

The opening of the seven seals initiates the appearance of seven angels, “And I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets” (Revelation 8:2). These seven angels blow their trumpets one at a time from first to last.
Revelation 8 and 9 illustrate the result of the first six trumpets being blown. These destructive judgments do not result in repentance, in fact, quite the opposite takes place, “Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts” (Revelation 9:21).

Still missing is the seventh angel with the seventh trumpet. Before this final destructive judgment comes upon the earth, “. ..another mighty angel came down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars offire” (Revelation 10:1).

You can almost sense the coming climax revealed in Revelation 10:7, “But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.”

The Resurrection Of The Two Witnesses

After being killed and dead for three and a half days, the Spirit of God will enter the dead bodies of the two witnesses and they will stand on their feet in view of the world’s news media. As a result, “…great fear fell upon them which saw them.” Then, we hear a great voice, “Come up hither!” (Revelation 11:12).

Undoubtedly, this is the same voice heard by John in chapter 4, where he testified, “…a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither….” The resurrection power is the same; it is the power that has defeated death and Hell.

The Seventh Trumpet

After all these events, we read in Revelation 11:15-17, “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.”

This verse reinforces the absolute power of the Lord and His ultimate visible victory over all opposition and clearly the seventh trumpet does not relate to the “last trump of God.”.

The Unique Last Trump

At this point, we must clarify some misunderstandings that are prevalent in the Church today. We are concerned with the event of the Rapture, so let us again read 1st Corinthians 15:51 -52 again, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

The conclusion that some have come to has been that the Rapture will take place “at the last trump.” Therefore, all we would have to do is look for the last trumpet in the book of Revelation to determine the time of the Rapture. However, the careful reader has already noticed that the trumpets mentioned in Revelation are not the same as the “last trump of God” we have already addressed.

Furthermore, we must reiterate that this “last trump of God” is not the trumpet described in Matthew 24:31, “And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” This is simply “a great sound of a trumpet, “not related to the trumpets in the Old Testament, or the trumpets we just read about in the book of Revelation. Neither is it identical to the last trump of God.

The trumpet mentioned in Matthew 24 serves to gather His elect from the four corners of the earth and relates to the prophecy of Isaiah. Over 700 years before the birth of Christ, Isaiah, inspired by the Holy Spirit wrote, “And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem” (Isaiah 27:13). This trumpet clearly signals the ingathering of the children of Israel to the Promised Land.

We must add that the fulfillment of the ingathering of the exiles is vehemently opposed by the spirit of the Antichrist. His policy states, in effect, “Under no circumstances must the prophetic Word be fulfilled!” Thus, the spirit of Satan, who guides the political leaders of the world in a united fashion, opposes the fulfillment of Bible prophecy!
God gave the Jews the Promised Land from the Euphrates River to the river of Egypt and has ordained Jerusalem as the capital city of the Jewish nation.

Not one nation on earth agrees with the Scripture. We see, once again, the absolute reliability of the prophetic Word, which so plainly states that all nations of the world will oppose Jerusalem!

Another reference to the ingathering of the exiles and the defense of Zion is found in Zechariah 9:14, “And the LORD shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and the Lord GOD shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south.”

In this case, we read that “the Lord God shall blow the trumpet.” According to our understanding of the Bible, this has never occurred before. In the end stages of the Great Tribulation, when it looks hopeless for Israel to continue her existence and the Jews have come to the end of their intellectual capacity and ingenuity, the Lord will supernaturally intervene, resulting in the conversion of the remnant of Israel!

(MAIN SOURCE: The Great Mystery of the Rapture – Arno Froese – 1999)

A BIBLICAL DISTINCTION BETWEEN ISRAEL AND THE CHURCH

0 ISRAEL VS CHURCH

All who take the Bible serious know that Israel is God’s chosen people on earth. We also know that Israel rejected the Messiah. As a result, God laid Israel aside and did not use her as His instrument of judgment, light, and salvation. Note “laid aside,” not “rejected,” or “replaced.” The Church, primarily from among the Gentiles, is God’s organ of salvation for almost 2,000 years now.

Based on the clear teaching of the Old Covenant, we know that God promised His people a New Covenant. The prophets explained the details of that covenant and it was established by the Lord Jesus Christ. However—and this is extremely important for us to understand—the New Covenant does not include physical, geographical, political, or material promises. Quite clearly, such promises were given to the people of Israel under the Old Covenant.

A Two-Fold Light Of The World?

God promised that Israel would give light to all the nations of the world. Since that has not been the case in the past, we can be sure that Israel will be restored to its original boundaries in order to fulfill this prophecy. Ultimately, the Jews will have to take a position of leadership here on earth. Deuteronomy 14:2 says, “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.”

This presents a problem: two groups of people are expected to be light to the world.

Thus, the question we must first answer is, “Is Israel a light to the Gentiles in our days?” Absolutely not. Spiritually speaking, Israel is in darkness. You can’t be a light to others if you are in darkness yourself. Actually, the apostle Paul, writing to the Romans, says, “As concerning the gospel, they (Jews) are enemies for your sakes…” But in no way does this fact annul God’s eternal promise that Israel will be a light to the Gentiles: “… It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6). Therefore, we have absolute assurance that Israel’s becoming a light to the world is yet to come.

Jesus said to the Church, “Ye are the light of the world.” For almost 2,000 years the Church has been the light-bearer, the torch of God. The Church has provided light to those in darkness. The Holy Spirit has convicted millions of souls of their sin and they have been added to the “kingdom of light.”

It is important to emphasize at this point that we are not a light to the world collectively, but individually. Neither Scripture nor church history tells of a whole nation being saved at one time. That has never happened nor will it ever happen in the world of the Gentiles. Having said this, we realize that there are two tasks involved in being a light to the world: the Church to the individual, and Israel to the nations.

We understand that the light of the world is the Lord Jesus Christ. His light, which radiates from believers, reaches the hearts of sinners. This same Jesus has also promised that the Church should be in His presence. Therefore, our task to be light-bearers in this world is only for a limited time. It began on the day of Pentecost and will continue until our departure, the day of our Rapture. The world at that time will indeed experience darkness. There will no longer be any hindering element to the deceptive works of Satan, the father of lies.

When will our task be completed? When the last from among the Gentiles is added to the Church. Then we will be raptured into the presence of the Lord.

When will Israel fulfill her calling to be the light of the world? When the spiritual restoration of Israel has taken place.

Israel Must Be Fully Restored

Historically, it has been impossible for Israel to come into existence as a nation since the Jews were scattered throughout the world. They could not go back to the land of Israel because they would not have been able to survive in a land considered to be a desert. Therefore, God made the necessary preparations that when the Jews did return to the land of Israel, not only would they be able to feed themselves but they would become a dominant factor in that part of the world.

In a similar way, the Lord Jesus assured His Church that He would make preparations for us, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3). In Israel’s case, the Lord God prepared the land for the people, “But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel; for they are at hand to come” (Ezekiel 36:8). It is quite fascinating to read in verse 4 of Ezekiel 36 the details describing the entire land of Israel, “Therefore, ye mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord GOD; Thus saith the Lord GOD to the mountains, and to the hills, to the rivers, and to the valleys, to the desolate wastes, and to the cities that are forsaken, which became a prey and derision to the residue of the heathen that are round about.” Remember, the land was desolate and forsaken, and actually did become a “derision to the residue of the heathen that are round about.” This, my friends, is a reality that can be proven unquestionably by recent history.

Since the rebirth of the political state of Israel in May 1948, this country has become a fulfillment of Bible prophecy, a miracle in the eyes of all those who have taken the time to honestly analyze the people and the land. Therefore, the fact that the Jews are coming back to Israel, are building a modern progressive nation, and have become a powerhouse in the Middle East clearly shows that the beginning of Israel signals the end for the Church.

Israel: A Rapture Sign

Our forefathers diligently sought for signs of the endtimes. Bible scholars in the 1600’s, 1700’s, and even the 1800’s searched faithfully for signs that would indicate that the Jews were going back to the land of their fathers. Charles Spurgeon, one of the great preachers of this century, knew the Bible well and studied the Old Testament in particular. In 1910, he made the following statements regarding Ezekiel 36 and 37:

“The meaning of our text, as opened up by the context, is most evidently, if words mean anything, first, that there shall be a political restoration of the Jews to their own land and to their own nationality; and then, secondly, there is in the text, and in the context, a most plain declaration, that there shall be a spiritual restoration, a conversion in fact, of the tribes of Israel.

They are to have a national prosperity which shall make them famous; nay, so glorious shall they be that Egypt, and Tyre, and Greece, and Rome, shall all forget their glory in the greater splendor of the throne of David. If there be meaning in words this must be the meaning of this chapter.

I wish never to learn the art of tearing God’s meaning out of His own words. If there be anything clear and plain, the literal sense and meaning of this passage must be evident that both the two and the ten tribes of Israel are to be restored to their own land, and that a king is to rule over them.”

May we learn likewise never to take the Word of God lightly nor interpret it so that it fits into our time. Instead, let the Word of God speak to our hearts so that we will understand the signs of the times.

In Matthew 24, the Lord repeats the word “shall” approximately 59 times. If we want to know the future, the Lord has already told us what “shall be.” Matthew 24:31 clearly describes a “rapture,” but not the Rapture of His Church, “And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” We will refer to this verse again in later chapters, but it is important to point out that in this verse the Lord shall not come “Himself;” rather, He “shall send his angels.”

Who Are The Elect In Matthew 24:31?

What are these angels supposed to do? They are to gather “his elect from the four winds.” Who, then, are His elect in Matthew 24:31? Of course, we all would agree that the elect comprise the Church. In fact, the word “elect” means “called out” or “to be chosen.”

In relation to Israel, James exclaimed in Acts 15:14, “… God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name.” Undoubtedly this is an election from among the Gentiles; however, we cannot deny that Israel was elected first.

We cannot overlook God’s statements regarding His chosen people, “For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth”‘(Deuteronomy 14:2). Doesn’t 1st Chronicles 16:13 tell us the same? “O ye seed of Israel his servant, ye children of Jacob, his chosen ones.” We support Israel’s special position with these additional verses: “For the Lord hath chosen Jacob unto himself, and Israel for his peculiar treasure” (Psalms 135:4).

“But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my fiend” (Isaiah 41:8).

“Yet now hear, 0 Jacob my servant; and Israel, whom I have chosen” (Isaiah 44:1).

Therefore, when we ask, “Who are the elect in in Matthew 24:31?”, we find the answer in Isaiah 45:4, “For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name; I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me.”

Until this very day, Israel stands in opposition to the Gospel. The apostle Paul writes, “As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes” (Romans 11:28). The Jews are currently still enemies of the Gospel.

The question that should automatically come to mind is, “How can these people, who are enemies of the Gospel, and who have rejected their Messiah shouting “His blood be upon us and our children,’be the elect?” The answer is the same and applies to all who have been saved through the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace!

We must never forget that Christ died for us while we were yet sinners. He commended His love toward us while we were lost, without hope and without God.

Will Israel be saved in a different way? No. Do they have to try to keep the Law and be good people in order to be saved? No. If such requirements applied, they would be earning their salvation and grace would be made invalid. As a result, there would be two standards of salvation—a concept contrary to what the Bible teaches, for Jesus plainly said, “No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” Therefore, the grace of the Lord Jesus will be poured upon His people Israel just as the prophet proclaimed, “. ..I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn ” (Zechariah 12:10).

The Jews Will Return

Again, we ask, “How can the Jews look upon Jesus whom they have pierced if they are still scattered among the four corners of the earth?” It is impossible to predict how the Jews will act in the future. But right now, considering the fact that modern Israel has existed since 1948, there are Jews residing in rich countries such as Europe and America with no intentions of returning to the land of Israel.

Yet, God clearly tells us through His prophets that ultimately every single Jew will return to the land of Israel. For example, Ezekiel 39:28 says, “Then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there.”

Reread the last part of that verse: “have left none of them any more there.” The message is that there will be no Jews among the Gentiles.

Thus the question, “How will the Jews get to Israel?” “He shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet and shall gather his elect from the four winds; from one end of heaven to the other” (Matthew 24:31).

The Fig Tree

Immediately following this statement, the Lord spoke regarding the fig tree: “Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh” (Matthew 24:32). We know that the fig tree symbolizes Israel under the Law. It is important to note that the Lord does not say “when the fig tree puts forth fruit,” but when it “puts forth leaves.” In understanding this, we realize that when man first sinned he used the leaves of the fig tree to cover his nakedness and hide his sin; Israel never actually had their sin taken away.

The Bible says that it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin. Through the Law and the sacrificial service, Israel’s sin was covered up, not removed.

Since 1948, the fig tree has become a reality, and indeed is sprouting forth leaves. This is vividly exemplified in their government, where the religious party has great authority. Israel’s national airline, El Al, had to stop flying on the Sabbath because of the law forbidding work on that day. They are bringing forth “leaves,” not “fruit.” Yet

Scripture explains that by the Law, no flesh will be justified. So how will Israel bring forth “fruit”? Through grace!

It is also significant that the Lord’s last miracle before the crucifixion was the cursing of the fig tree: “. ..seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it” (Mark 11:13-14). In verse 21 we read, “And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.” The fig tree died and for almost 2,000 years Israel was nowhere on the map. The fig tree will not bring forth fruit but the leaves will sprout again as we have read in Matthew 24:32, “… When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh.”

Israel’s Relationship To The Church

Sometimes we tend to oversimplify the Bible by saying the Old Testament is for the Jews and the New Testament is for Christians. It is true that the Jews still do not consider the New Testament as part of their Scripture. At the most, they refer to it as the “Christian” Bible.

The Church of Jesus Christ was founded in Jerusalem by Jews, for Jews, and consisted exclusively of Jews. The Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is a Jewish book written by Jews for Jews. Yet Scripture clearly tells us that during the time of the Gentiles, the Jew, in particular, would be blind to the reality of the Savior, the Messiah of Israel, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is substantiated in Romans 11:28, “As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sake.”

Throughout the centuries, the Jews have painfully experienced severe persecution under the auspices of “churchianity” They were killed by the Romans and suffered through the Spanish Inquisition. There is not one country on the face of the earth in which they have not experienced opposition, persecution and even death. The most horrendous genocide of all time took place in Germany under the reign of Adolf Hitler, a professing Catholic who frequently quoted Scripture and spiced his speeches with Bible-based slogans. From the Jewish perspective, even Adolf Hitler was a “Christian.”

From a historical perspective, the Jews have always diametrically opposed anything that is Christian. There seems to be an unbridgeable gap between the two. On the other end of the spectrum, the relationship to Israel and the Jews is different in Bible-believing Christianity.

In Romans 11, the apostle Paul reminds the Gentile church of her roots. In verse 13 Paul identifies the group that he is addressing, “I speak to you Gentiles.” He reveals that Israel still exists, and he compares Israel to an olive tree, “… if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee” (Romans 11:17-21). Paul clearly explains in verse 24 that Israel will be resurrected, “For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?” The Church has often overlooked God’s unconditional guarantee of Israel’s perpetual existence. At that time the Church as a whole was making the same mistake that the world makes today: “I only believe what I see.”

Israel’s Future

From God’s point of view, there is no question about Israel’s existence—despite the fact that they were not a nation for 2,000 years.

Listen to the words of the prophet Jeremiah, “Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The Lord of hosts is his name. If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever” (Jeremiah 31:35-36).

One cannot simply do away with Israel. It is God’s creation and what God creates is eternal! Therefore, let us not repeat the mistake of assuming that Israel has lost her position as God’s elect. She was not replaced by the Church; this type of “replacement theology” has been the mother of many heresies.

Of course, it is true that Israel rejected the Messiah, but God never rejected Israel. Instead, He temporarily put Israel aside in His plan of salvation which He ordained before the foundation of the world.

Time Limit Of The Church

In Romans 11, we find a time limit, or dispensation for the Church, “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Romans 11:25). The apostle Paul points out that this is a mystery of which we should not be ignorant, otherwise, we would deceive ourselves. The blindness is for the sake of the Gentiles “Until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”

Gospel To The Gentiles

For this reason, we continuously support the urgency of preaching the Gospel to all people everywhere so that the fullness of the Gentiles may come in soon. The Church is an intermission in God’s eternal plan of salvation with His people Israel. This was hidden from the beginning. The apostles didn’t even fully understand this great mystery. Ephesians 5:32 states, ” This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.” The early Church did not fully comprehend that God would first take out a people from among the Gentiles for His name.

Even after Jesus defeated the powers of darkness on Calvary’s cross, crying out “It is finished;” was buried; arose the third day; and walked among His disciples, they still didn’t understand: “When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). The disciples had one-track minds; they wanted Israel to be an independent kingdom with all of its former glories. They knew Scripture, and hoped for the immediate resurrection of the kingdom of Israel. The only thing they could understand were the “good ole’ days.” God, however, doesn’t look back to old glories, but tells us that He will make “all things new.”

The disciples were commanded to wait until the Holy Spirit came, “… I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high ” (Luke 24:49).

Then they were to be “witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” {Acts 1:8). This is a very clear instruction; the beginning is Jerusalem and the end is the outermost parts of the world. The Gospel has literally gone from Jerusalem to the very ends of the earth. For that reason we believe that the Church has little success when it tries to follow this command in the opposite direction, that is preaching the Gospel to Israel and expecting a mass conversion of Jews.

The Gentile Conflict In The Church

In the beginning, there was a controversy about the Gentiles belonging to the Church. In Acts 15, we read that “… Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them…” (verse 2). Why? Because these Jews did not fully grasp the Gospel of grace but tried to convert the Gentiles to Judaism first. They taught, “… Except ye (Gentiles) be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved” (verse 1).

To settle this conflict, an apostolic counsel was held in Jerusalem.

“And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they” (Acts 15:7-11).

It is significant that the apostle Peter spoke these words because he was the first to recognize that Jesus was the Son of God. Based on Peter’s confession, Jesus said, “. ..I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). We emphasize that the statement of our Lord has absolutely no relation to the man-made establishment of the Roman papal system, or to any national or international church entity.

Salvation always was and always will be “of the Jew,” as the Lord Jesus Himself stated. Nowhere in the Bible do we read of the Lord giving preference to a certain city or country outside of Israel.

Therefore, any group who claims to be the exclusive and privileged successors of the apostle Peter, or who asserts that they are the exclusive dispensers of salvation, can rightfully be labeled as an anti-Christian cult.

After Peter had spoken, “… all the multitudes kept silence.” Barnabas and Paul then gave affirmation regarding the Gentiles.

Prophecy Settles Conflict

James confirmed this testimony when he declared, “Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up ” (Acts 15:14-16). Here we see the authority of the apostle Peter, for he was the first to preach the Gospel to the Jews, to the half-Jew Samaritans, and to the Gentiles. He was also the first one through whom the Lord performed miracles—including raising the dead to life—to demonstrate the fulfillment of prophecy. James now endorses that which Simon (Peter) had stated is based on the prophetic Word.

Turning in our Bibles to the Old Testament book of Amos, the prophet writes, “That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the Lord that doeth this” (Amos 9:12). This verse prophetically refers to the inclusion of the Gentiles, “which are called by my name.”

Mystery Of The Church

God’s plan for both His people and the Gentiles was a mystery unknown to Israel, the apostles and the prophets; even the angels did not know. The testimony of Peter says the following, “Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1st Peter 1:10-13).

Gentile’s Hopelessness

Most of us who are saved by grace from among the Gentiles don’t fully comprehend the hopelessness of our situation before we became Christians. The apostle Paul explains to the Ephesians, “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; 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” (Ephesians 2:11-12). Think of it: “no hope” and “without God.” Could anything possibly be worse than that? Thank God that is not how it ends. “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13).

Indeed, “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32).

Gentile’s Hope

At this point, we must stress that the Gentiles, born again of the Spirit of God, are the ones who are addressed by the apostle Paul, for he says, “I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles” (Ephesians 3:1). He also reveals some wonderful news in verse 6, “That the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and of the same body and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel. ” To the Romans, this same apostle confirms the fulfillment of Bible prophecy for the Gentiles, “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: And that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust” (Romans 15:8-12).

Therefore, the Gentiles have a duty toward Israel, “It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things” (Romans 15:27). These few verses should validate the fact that although Israel and the Church remain two distinct entities, they are organically united because they both partake of the olive tree.

The Organic Unity Of Jews And Christians

Another verse is often misused and needs to be clarified: “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” (Galatians 3:28). The Church consists of both Jews and Gentiles; the two have become one. On a spiritual level there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile.

However, this does not abolish the physical identity of a Jew being a Jew and a Greek being a Greek, which is evident from the statement, “there is neither male nor female.” Every one of us can attest that the moment we were born again of the Spirit of God, we continued to be what we were: male or female. This further proves that spiritual unity in Christ Jesus is what is meant here and in no way does it indicate that a Jew is no longer a Jew.

(MAIN SOURCE: The Great Mystery of the Rapture – Arno Froese – 1999)

 

THE RAPTURE SERIES 1: THE REALITY OF THE RAPTURE

0 RAPTURE

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory” (1st Corinthians 15:51-54).

The above passage is a description of the Rapture. However, the word “rapture” is not found in the KJV English Bible. Subsequently, some have made claims that the Rapture is an invention of man and therefore, is not biblical. In this chapter, we will show that the Rapture is a reality clearly taught in the Bible and that we can expect this climactic event for the Church to take place at any time.

The fact that the word “rapture” does not appear in our Bible does not mean that it is not taught. For example, the word “trinity,” is not found in our Bible either, but the trinity is unmistakably evident in Scripture.

Our Transfiguration

In 1st Corinthians 15, Paul wrote about people who will not all “sleep;” in other words, they will not die. Those people will be changed and brought into the presence of God in the twinkling of an eye. This changing process, or translation of the believer, is necessary because the Bible says that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God.

Such an event has never taken place in the history of the Church. Verse 54 highlights this fact when it says, “… then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” Is this true for us today? The answer is obviously “No.” For the last 2,000 years members of the Church have died. Millions of saints have already gone through the valley of the shadow of death. The Bible says “it is appointed unto man once to die….” However, 1st Corinthians 15:54 clearly states that death will be swallowed up in victory. That, we have to admit, has not occurred yet, but will take place at the moment of the Rapture.

Furthermore, the Rapture is the fulfillment of Christ’s victory for His Church over death. Paul wrote to the Corinthian church regarding the Rapture in 1st Corinthians 15:54, “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” Only at that point—when we have taken on incorruption and immortality— has the prophetic Word been fulfilled, “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

Traditional Doctrine

In recent years, the doctrine of the Rapture, as set forth in the Bible, has caused many controversies within the Church. In no way should that discourage us from studying the subject and trying to answer the important question, “Will one be taken and the other left behind?” We must search for the answer in Scripture, yet not all come to the same conclusion. Each one of us is affected to a certain degree by teachers, preachers, colleges, radio and television programs, books, churches and denominations. Therefore, it is so important to permit the Holy Spirit to captivate our minds and hearts so we can understand the depth of the message in the words.

On another occasion, a lawyer asked Jesus, “Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25). Jesus responded by asking another question, “…What is written in the law? how readest thou?” (verse 26). Notice that Jesus not only asked what was written in the Law, but, “how readest thou?” It’s how we read the Scripture that brings us under the conviction of certain teachings.

1) What Is The Rapture?

The Rapture is the fulfillment of the Lord’s prayer in John 17:24, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” This verse clearly expresses the Lord’s desire to be united with His Church. We know from Scripture that when a believer dies, he is immediately in the presence of the Lord. The apostle Paul clearly testified, “Absent from the body, present with the Lord”‘(2nd Corinthians 5:8).

It is the Lord’s clear, expressed will that His own, whom He has bought with His precious blood, be in His presence so that they may finally behold His glory.

The Rapture is our transformation into the image of Him who was transformed before us: “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (1st John 3:2). Thus, we are able to confidently proclaim that the Rapture fulfills Bible prophecy.

We are the “sons of God” but we are not like Him. We have not been translated into His image; at this moment we are NOT “… as He is.” That is yet to come.

After the Rapture of the Church, Satan is cast upon the earth to have a field day with mankind because the light has been “taken out of the way.” Revelation 12:12 summarizes the contrast between these two groups, “Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.”

2) How Will The Rapture Take Place?

The Rapture will take place in “the twinkling of an eye.” In other words, it will happen instantaneously and unannounced. No advertising campaign, news coverage, or special announcements will precede the Rapture.

For that reason, it is of utmost importance that we learn to differentiate between our Rapture and the Rapture of the Jews. We will be raptured vertically, from earth to Heaven. The Jews will be “raptured” horizontally, from the four corners of the earth to Israel. Our meeting place is clearly described in 1st Thessalonians 4:17 as, “…in the air….” The destination of the Jewish “Rapture” will be the land of Israel. God has given them an unconditional promise that He will return them to their land, “…I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there ” (Ezekiel 39:28).

The Vertical Rapture

The Rapture of the Church is described in 1st Corinthians 15:51-53, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”

In 1st  Thessalonians 4:16-17 we read, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” In actuality, this is not a very detailed description for such an important event. This is why Paul writes that he is going to show us “…a mystery.”

The Horizontal “Rapture”

Matthew 24:31 describes the horizontal “Rapture” of the Jews. “And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” In this context, Jesus is speaking to His people, the Jews, not to the Church. In Matthew 24, we find a geographical reference that does not apply to the Church: “Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains” (verse 16). This can’t apply to the Church because the majority of Christians live outside of Israel, making it impossible for them to flee to the Judean mountains. Furthermore, verse 20 mentions the “Sabbath day,” which was given exclusively to the Jewish people, as confirmed in Exodus 31:17: “It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever…” When comparing the two, we find distinct contrasting characteristics which enable us to differentiate between the two.

At the Rapture of the Church, “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven.” However, Matthew 24:31 says, “…he shall send his angels.” When Jesus comes for the Church, He comes with the “voice of the archangel” and with “the trump of God.” When he comes for Israel, He comes with “a trumpet.” These vivid descriptions reveal the difference between the two: one exclusively for the Church and the other exclusively for the Jews. One will lead to the clouds in the heavens; the other will lead to Jerusalem.

Why is it necessary that the Jews go to Jerusalem? Scripture would not be fulfilled any other way. The Bible makes it clear that the Jews will look on Him whom they have pierced. The return of the Jews to the land of Israel is something we are witnessing today and is part of the process of Bible prophecy fulfillment. Its climax will come when the entire remnant is back in the land of their fathers. They will all be brought to the land of Israel; no one will be left behind.

A Trumpet Or The Trump Of God?

We noted that Israel will be gathered together with “a trump” and the Church with the “trump of God.” Let us investigate the specific differences between the two. First Corinthians 15:52 states that the Rapture of the Church will take place “at the last trump of God.” First Thessalonians 4:16 identifies this as the “trump of God.”

This trump must not be confused with any of the other trumps mentioned in Scripture, such as the trumps of angels, trumps of priests, trumps of war and trumps of peace, or the trumpets in the book of Revelation which announce terrible judgments upon the world. We are dealing here with the “last trump of God.” If we are awaiting the “last trump” of God, when did the “first trump” of God occur?

The First Trump Of God

Exodus 19:16 offers us evidence of the first trump of God, “And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that was in the camp trembled.” Notice the words, “voice” and “trumpet.” We can search the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation and will not find the presence of the Lord identified by the “voice of a trumpet” in any context other than the gathering of Israel to receive the Law, and the gathering of the Church to be united with the Law-giver.

To further establish the identity of the voice, the trumpet, and God, note the following, “And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice” (Exodus 19:19).

The purpose of this event was to gather His people to hear God’s Word. There is no evidence in Scripture that anyone else heard the sound of the first trump of God. We can assume that only those in the camp of Israel heard it. In fact, Hebrews 12:19 substantiates this claim, “And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more.”

In the same way, the last trump of God will go unnoticed by the world and will be heard only by those who have an inner spiritual ear: born again believers. The last trump of God will gather His heavenly people to receive the Word which became flesh!

3) Why Is The Rapture Necessary?

We will highlight five important points to answer this question:

a) The Rapture is necessary in order to permit sin to reach its culmination. The Church is the light of the world, thus, with the Church (light) gone, sin can fully develop its potential of evil.

God cannot send destructive judgment upon the world because the measure of sin has not yet been fulfilled. The fulfillment of sin reaching its climax is now hindered because the light of the world remains in the world. The Church is the obstacle; when that obstacle is removed, sin will reach its prophesied peak.

Some may object and say, “The world is in such a terrible mess; people are so sinful, corrupt, and immoral. God cannot possibly permit this to go on.” There is no doubt that evil has increased as prophesied in 2nd Timothy 3:13, “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” But in order to see the climax of evil, we must look at the Scripture describing the time when the Church is gone.

b) The Rapture of the Church is necessary in order to allow the Antichrist, who is the highest product of darkness, to be revealed. He cannot take his rightful place until the Church has been removed from this world. The prince of darkness cannot fully develop his diabolical plan while the “light of the world” is present. Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world.” So darkness can only operate when hidden from the light.

When speaking to the church in Thessalonica about the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth and our “gathering unto Him,” the apostle Paul clearly identifies the hindering element. What can hinder darkness? It is the Holy Spirit within the Church who is withholding the revelation of the Antichrist, “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way” (2nd Thessalonians 2:7).

The Holy Spirit convicts the world of sin, gives light in darkness, and dwells in the believer. Jesus testifies, “…I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever” (John 14:16).

Few Christians fully realize the incredible significance of being born again: We are the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit! The mystery of iniquity can never fully develop its work of darkness as long as there is but one spark of light present on earth.

Surely, no one can argue that the mystery of iniquity is already at work. It is very evident, especially in our day as we see the entire world turning away from the Living God and turning toward their own selves. From this point of view, we realize that it is an absolute necessity that we are taken out of the way first.

c) The Rapture is necessary because the Word of God must be fulfilled. When the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he revealed the mystery of the Rapture, “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory” (1st Corinthians 15:54). Although Jesus defeated the powers of Satan and of death on Calvary’s cross, His victory over death has not been transferred to His body, the Church. We, just like anyone else, must die.

For two millennia, the saints have died and been buried, without having been translated. They are waiting for the fullness of the body so that the whole Church can be raised in “the twinkling of an eye” and meet her Lord in the air. The prophecy, “… then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory,” can only be fulfilled when the body is united with the head, the Lord Jesus Himself.

d) The Rapture is necessary so that we can come back to judge the world. In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul wrote, “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” (1st Corinthians 6:2). At this point, it is impossible for us to judge the world because we are forbidden to judge, “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God” (1st Corinthians 4:5). Also, because we are still in our sinful flesh and blood, our judgment is deemed imperfect and would fail to implement the righteousness of God. Even a sinner saved by grace cannot judge righteously.

4) Who Will Be Raptured?

The Bible makes it unquestionably clear that only those belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ will be raptured. The apostle Paul did not mince words when he wrote to the Thessalonians, “Then we which are alive…” (1st Thessalonians 4:17). He clearly said, “we.”

In chapter 2 we will see the distinction between the world (those who are left behind) and us, (the Church of Jesus Christ) is explicitly stated in the following verses, “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (1st Thessalonians 5:3). Note that the words “they” and “them”are used. Take specific notice of how he addresses the Church with the words “ye”; “we”; and “us:” “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober” (1st Thessalonians 5:4-6).

The power of His resurrection will bring us into His presence. All who are born again of the Spirit of God will be raptured. Those who have their hearts set on and grounded in Jesus, and who are awaiting His return, will be raptured because they truly are born again.

5) When Will The Rapture Take Place?

We must strongly emphasize that all speculation regarding the timing of the Rapture are fundamentally wrong. They have been blatantly wrong in the past and will continue to be wrong in the future, for the Bible plainly states, “Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not” (Luke 12:40).

Date Setting

Much damage has been done by those who have attempted to pinpoint the date of the Lord’s return. All of these “datesetters” have been false prophets. Undoubtedly those “prophets” have done great harm to the proclamation of the prophetic Word.

The biggest problem with any prediction is that pinpointing a date takes away the element of surprise. Throughout the Bible, we read of the necessity of being ready at any time. Therefore, if someone predicts that the Lord will come in five days, that means that I don’t have to expect Him today or tomorrow because He is going to come on the fifth day. Such teaching violates the principles of the Holy Scripture and therefore must be rejected in totality.

Although valid arguments distinguish the Mid-Tribulation and the PreWrath Rapture, both violate Scripture by taking away the element of surprise.

Mid-Tribulation (and Pre-Wrath) Rapture?

The Tribulation is prompted by the absence of the Church. The Church is the light of the world and the deceptive work of Satan cannot reach its highest point with the Church present. The Mid-Tribulation theory violates Scripture in regard to the element of surprise. To believe in the Mid-Tribulation Rapture we must ignore the many Scriptures which support a PreTribulation Rapture, including Titus 2:13, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” Belief in a Mid-Trib Rapture prohibits our waiting for Jesus to come today. In actuality, we would be waiting for the beginning of the Tribulation and the appearance of the Antichrist. Such teaching is contrary to the Word of God. We will not find any admonition in the Bible suggesting that we should be looking for the coming Tribulation and the Antichrist!

Post-Tribulation Rapture?

Not only is this scenario contrary to Scripture, but it would be physically impossible because no one would be left to rapture.

Scripture passages such as Revelation 13:15 illustrate that the existence of believers would be an impossibility. The “other beast,” or the false prophet, “… had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.” When faced with an alternative, a born again believer will never deny his Lord by bowing down to the image of the beast and worshipping it.

In times of great need and severe persecution, the Lord gives the grace needed for His saints to lay down their lives for Him. There is ample evidence of this in Scripture, as well as countless examples of the martyrs throughout the history of Christianity which support this fact.

6) How Can We Be Ready For The Rapture?

In order to be ready for the Rapture, you must be born again. Without regeneration, you will remain in darkness, without hope, and lost for all eternity. Therefore, if you are not born again, you will be left behind.

First Corinthians 1:7 says, “So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In other words, this gift of waiting for Him must be a reality in your life.

Waiting For Jesus

“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). As previously stated, this verse supports our looking for the Rapture.

Hebrews 9:28 reinforces this by saying, “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.”

Not only are we to look, but we are also “… to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come” (1st Thessalonians 1:10). This verse supports the Pre-Tribulation Rapture; we are delivered from the wrath to come.

While we look and wait, we are also instructed to be patient. James urgently warns that we are to, “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh ” (James 5:7-8). This patience that we are to demonstrate while looking and waiting for Him gives us the additional strength and courage to persevere, ever increasing in His work as the days go by.

Increase In His Work

When the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians about the Rapture, he concluded with an important admonition, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1st Corinthians 15:58). In writing to the Thessalonians about the Rapture, Paul said, “Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work” (2nd Thessalonians 2:17). In 1st Thessalonians 4:18, he concludes the description of the Rapture with, “Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

It is my sincere prayer that the Lord will comfort you with the hope of His coming and as a result, you will increase in the work of the Lord in these endtimes. How much time we have left, no one knows; however, based on the developments in Israel and the world, we recognize that the end stages of the endtimes are at hand. Therefore, “… To-day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness” (Hebrews 3:7-8). Humble yourself before His countenance and ask Him to give you the grace needed to be ready for Him at any moment.

(MAIN SOURCE: The Great Mystery of the Rapture – Arno Froese – 1999)

A DISPENSATIONAL VIEW OF THE GOSPELS IN SMALL CHUNKS (13)

0 Dispensationalism

CHAPTER IV (CONTINUE)

The Early Galilean Ministry (CONTINUE)

6. A Full Day of Miracles at Capernaum
References: Matt. 8:14-17; Mk. 1:21-34; Lk. 4:31-41

It will be noted that we have skipped over the three chapters in Matthew on the Sermon on the Mount, which seems to have been given later after Jesus had ordained His Twelve Apostles.

In comparing these three accounts it will be seen that Mark and Luke are almost identical. Matthew omits completely the preaching in the synagogue and the casting out of the unclean demon, but he does give substantially the same stow as Mark and Luke on the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law, and of the miraculous events at the end of the day.
Regarding the synagogue at Capernaum it is interesting to note that the ruins of this synagogue may be seen today and the inscription on the middle wall forbidding Gentiles to cross over on pain of death has been unearthed. It was here that Jesus taught on that Sabbath day when a man with an unclean spirit cried out: “What have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee, who thou art: the Holy One of God.” Luke says the man had a spirit of an unclean demon. This is the only occurrence of this expression. Mark speaks of unclean spirits eleven times, Luke six times and Matthew twice. Neither Matthew nor Mark speak of unclean demons. Spirits are called evil and dumb, as well as unclean, and once one is spoken of as a spirit of infirmity.

There are 76 references to demons in the N.T., always rendered “devil” or “devils” in the Authorized Version. Demon possession was especially prevalent at the time of Christ and will be again at the end of the age. We know very little about the nature of demons, only that they are evil spirits which apparently seek embodiment in human beings. The Bible reveals some of the effects of demon possession, although some of these effects may be simply physical or psychosomatic diseases. Demons may cause Dumbness (Matt.9:32,33); Blindness (Matt. 12:22); Lunacy (Matt. 17:15); Super-human strength (Mk. 5:1-4); Sickness (Lk. 13:12,16); Divination (Acts 16:16); Immorality or uncleanness (Matt. 10:1); Nudity (Luke 8:27); Free-love (1 Tim. 4:3); Maniac behavior (Mk. 5:2-5).

Whereas demons almost always produce degrading behavior and are under the control of the Devil, Satan himself and his ministers transform themselves into angels of light and ministers of righteousness (2 Cor. 11:13-15), working lying signs and wonders, deceiving the very elect if that were possible (Matt. 24:24; Rev. 12:9; 13:14). In apostolic times a special gift of discerning of spirits was given which made it possible to recognize demon possession. Demons still exist and doubtless there are cases of demon possession, and Christ and His gospel are powerful enough to overcome any demon or Satanic powers.

The demons recognized Jesus as the Holy Son of God and they trembled in His presence, even if mankind did not. They knew they were under condemnation and someday would be judged. When Jesus commanded the unclean demon spirit to come out of the man, and it obeyed, convulsing him as it did, the people were amazed at the authority of Jesus and His fame spread throughout the region.

Leaving the synagogue, He entered the house of Simon and Andrew where He found Simon’s mother-in-law sick with a fever. He rebuked the fever and it left her and immediately she arose and ministered unto them.

The news had spread and, in the evening, a great multitude came bringing all of the diseased and demon possessed and He laid hands upon everyone and healed them all. This healing was vastly different from that of so-called faith healers today, where some claim to be healed and the majority go away disillusioned. It is Matthew again who links up this healing ministry with prophecy, for he says that Jesus healed them “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities and bare our sicknesses” (Isa. 53:4). This passage deserves very careful exposition, since there are many today who are claiming divine healing on the basis that Christ bore our sicknesses just the same as He bore our sins, and we have just as much right to claim healing of the body as we do salvation of the soul. We believe there are at least six answers to this.

• It is plainly stated that Christ fulfilled this prophecy in bearing sicknesses two years before He died on the Cross where He made atonement for sin. Therefore, the healing was not in the atonement.
• The verbs for bearing sin and bearing sickness are entirely different. The word for bearing sin is “anaphero,” and is used in such passages as I Pet. 2:24; Heb. 9:28; and Isa. 53:12 (Septuagint). The word for bearing sickness is “bastazo” and is used in such passages as Matt. 3:11, “whose shoes I am not worthy to bear;” Gal. 6:2, “bear ye one another’s burdens;” Rom. 15:1, “bear the infirmities (same word as sicknesses in Matt. 8:17) of the weak;” Isa. 53:4, “surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.” Thus Christ bore sins in an altogether different way from bearing sicknesses.
• If healing is in the Atonement as is claimed to the same extent as salvation, then one possesses salvation only to the extent he has perfect health. But since all saints in the past have died, most from disease, this would prove that all had lost their salvation, for they surely lost their health.
• The Apostle Paul gloried in his infirmities (the same word as used in Matt. 8:17). See 2 Cor. 11:30; 12:9,10. If having sickness is necessarily out of the will of God then Paul gloried in being out of the will of God, and it was God’s grace that taught him to do it.
• Healing in the Atonement denies such Scriptures as Rom. 8:23: “but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” Our final salvation includes a redeemed body, but not in this world, where Paul tells us we have a body of humiliation.
• Finally it should be noted that God has promised health to Israel, along with all other physical and material blessings. See Deut. 28:1-14. God revealed Himself to Israel as “Jehovah-Ropheca,” the Lord that healeth thee (Ex. 15:26). This is the reason we find that physical healing was the prominent part of Christ’s earthly ministry to Israel. Healing was one of the credentials of the Messiah, by which Israel could recognize Him when He came on the scene.

7. Jesus Prays and Goes On a Mission Throughout All Galilee
References: Matt. 4: 23-25; 8:1-4; Mk. 1:35-45; Lk. 4:42-44; 5:12-16

Mark alone tells us that Jesus arose long before daybreak and went out into a desert place to pray. It is very difficult for us to understand the prayer life of our Lord, how or why it was necessary for the very Son of God to pray to the Father. He was God Himself and why should God have to pray? But He was also Man, and as such He humbled Himself and submitted Himself to the will of the Father. There is much of the prayer life of our Lord in the Gospels. Here, before starting out on a preaching tour throughout Galilee, He communes with the Father and doubtless asks the Father’s blessing upon this undertaking.

The disciples arose later and went out looking for Him and when they found Him they told Him how the multitudes were waiting for Him. Many others who followed the disciples also begged Him to continue His ministry with them, but Jesus told them He must move on and preach in all of the other towns because He was sent for this purpose. And so we read that Jesus went throughout all Galilee teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the Kingdom, and healing all manner of disease and sickness.
One particular healing miracle is singled out in this section, that of a leper. Leprosy was considered an incurable disease and any healing of it to be a working of the power of God. The loathsomeness of this disease and its hopelessness is doubtless a picture of the nature of sin. Leprosy separated its victim from the remainder of society (Lev. 13:44-46), just as sin separates from fellowship with God.

Matthew also records the cleansing of this leper, but he places it right after Jesus comes down from delivering the sermon on the mount, (ch. 8:1-4). Luke states it was while He was in one of the cities the event took place. The leper kneeled before Jesus, worshipping Him (an expression of Christ’s Deity), and saying: “Lord if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.” Jesus stretched forth His hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be thou made clean.” Jesus had to come in contact with the leprosy of sin, a contact which would have made a clean person unclean; He had to take upon Himself man’s sin in order to cleanse man from his defilement. After cleansing the leper Jesus charged him to say nothing to any man about the healing but to go and show himself to the priest and offer the sacrifices Moses commanded for a testimony unto them (Lev. 14). Although the priesthood in Israel was corrupt and would finally condemn Jesus to death, He recognized that He was still under the divinely established dispensation of Law, and was always obedient to it and instructed His disciples to do whatsoever Mosaic leaders commanded (cf. Matt. 23:1-3).

In what way would this leper give a testimony to the priest? The priest was the one who had pronounced him to be a leper. The priest knew that only God could cure leprosy. This fact is clearly seen in the story of 2 Kings 5 when the king of Syria sent a message to the king of Israel saying his army general had leprosy and he was sending him to the king with gifts for the king to heal him of his leprosy. When the king read the letter, he rent his clothes and said, “Am I God, to kill and make alive, that this man doth send unto me to recover a man of leprosy?” Of course, there was in Israel at that time a prophet of God who performed the miracle on Naaman. Therefore the priest in our present case would have to admit that Jesus was God, or at least was doing the works of God. Thus, by going to the priest the man’s healing was authenticated. Had the man not gone to the priest for an official bill of health others might have said, “We don’t believe you ever had leprosy.” We think this is the reason Jesus told the man to say nothing to others but go straight to the priest. He was not saying, “I do not want you ever to tell anyone about your healing, ”but rather,” don’t tell others until you have gone to the priest.” The fact is, that after he had gone to the priest he told so many people about Jesus that Jesus could no longer openly enter into the city because of the crowds, but had to retire to a desert place and minister to those who came to Him.

Modern drugs have been found which will arrest the disease of leprosy, but these drugs have no ability to cure the patient of the effects of the disease. If fingers or toes or other parts of the body have been sloughed off, the drug cannot restore these members. The victim is still a pitiable creature. When Jesus healed the leper he was completely restored. It is stated in the case of Naaman, “and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean” (2 Kings 5: 14). The same principle works in God’s salvation. When He saves a person He does not merely patch up the old man with all of his deformities and scars: He creates a new man (cf. Col. 3:9,10).

8. Paralytic Let Down Through the Roof
References: Matt. 9:2-8; Mk. 2:1-12; Lk. 5:17-26

We learn from Matthew that Jesus entered a boat and crossed the lake of Galilee and came to “his own city.” Mark tells us that this city was Capernaum. This is where Jesus made His headquarters in Galilee. Matthew omits the part about removing the tiles from the flat-topped roof so they could lower the paralytic man in the presence of Jesus, but Mark and Luke both give this detail. Mark gives the further detail that the paralyzed man was carded by four other men. Luke tells us that on this occasion Pharisees and doctors of the law from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem had gathered to observe Jesus and that the Power of the Lord was with Jesus to perform healing.

If leprosy with its defilement speaks of sin, then palsy or paralysis represents powerlessness or inability of the sin nature toward God. Paul brings out this aspect of our nature in Rom. 5:6: “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.” The sinner must come to the place where he sees himself as morally and spiritually paralyzed, unable to move himself and therefore dependent one hundred percent on the grace of God for salvation. The leper and the paralytic both illustrate Israel’s spiritual condition, and their healings illustrate the regeneration which will take place when Christ returns as Israel’s Savior and King.

The four men represent the soul-winner: we cannot save souls; all we can do is to bring men to Christ. And these four personal workers manifested great industry, if they couldn’t get the man to Christ by the usual means of going through the door, they used a very unusual means of tearing a hole in the ceiling and lowering him through the hole. We need to use every means at our disposal to reach men for Christ.

The man in the story had two diseases. The Lord healed the most important one first. Seeing the man’s faith He said, “Thy sins are forgiven thee.” This immediately stirred up the Jewish religious leaders present, for they said, “Who is this that speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone?” Only God could cleanse the leper and restore his flesh like new, and only God can forgive sins, but Jesus did both, which proves that Jesus was God. Then Jesus asked, “Which is easier to say, Thy sins are forgiven thee, or to say, Arise and walk?” But to prove He had power to forgive sins He said to the paralyzed man, “Arise and take up thy couch, and go unto thy house.”

The spectators were amazed when the cripple got up, picked up his pad and started home glorifying God. All they could say was, “We have seen strange things today,” and others said, “We never saw it on this fashion.” Is it not strange, almost unbelievable, that the sinful hearts of these unconverted religionists could witness such evidences of the Deity of Christ, and still rebel in their minds and seek some means of putting Jesus to death? It is no wonder Paul says that the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God; neither indeed can be (Rom. 8:6-8).

9. The Call of Matthew
References: Matt. 9:9-13; Mk. 2:13-17; Lk. 5:27-32

Mark and Luke call Matthew, Levi, and Mark adds that he was the son of Alphens. He was a publican or tax collector for the Roman government and was naturally hated by the people. He was seated at the tax office or toll house when Jesus passed by and said, “Follow me.” Luke tells us that Levi made a great feast at his house for Jesus and invited a great many publicans and others to the feast. Then the Pharisees began complaining to the disciples, as they did in Lk. 15, that Jesus received sinners and ate with them. Jesus’ answer was two-fold: “People who are healthy have no need of a physician, but they that are sick. I came not to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Thus, those who refused to come to Jesus affirmed that they were healthy and righteous: they had no need of Jesus. But the other answer He gave was: “But go ye and learn what this meaneth, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.” The reference is to Hos. 6:6. The prophet was not saying that God never commanded the people to bring sacrifices; for He did, but that He desired mercy and the knowledge of God more than burnt-offerings. The Pharisees were punctilious in the religious observances but their hearts were far from God. They honored Him with their lips but denied Him by their works.

(Main Source: Understanding The Gospels – A Different Approach – Charles F. Baker)

NOTE: Dear friends, we wish to expand the ministry, Lord willing, and to distribute tracts to the Zulu people in the area in South Africa where we live.

We humbly ask for any donations, no matter how small. Should you feel led to donate, donations can be made to our PayPal account.

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“PAULINE CHRISTIANITY”

0 Paul

Pauline Christianity is a term applied by those who claim that Jesus taught one thing, and Paul taught something completely different. They believe that the Christianity of today has little to do with Jesus’ teachings; rather, it is the product of Paul’s corruption of those teachings.

In short, according to them, Paul was a charlatan, an evangelical huckster who succeeded in twisting Jesus’ message of love into something Jesus himself would never recognize. It was Paul, not Jesus, who originated the “Christianity” of today.

We on the other hand, believe that the New Testament is a unified whole: the Gospels present the life and work of Jesus the Messiah; the Epistles explain the meaning and scope of Jesus’ work and apply it to daily living. For example, Matthew 28 narrates the fact of Jesus’ resurrection, and 1 Corinthians 15 explains the significance of His resurrection. The same Holy Spirit who inspired the Gospels also inspired the Epistles to give us a fuller understanding of God’s plan of salvation.

Commonly, many of those who hold to the negative theory about Paul, also believe the following:
1) Jesus was not divine. He never claimed to be God, and he never intended to start a new religion.
2) The Bible is not an inspired book and is riddled with contradictions. None of the Bible, except possibly the book of James, was written by anyone who knew Jesus. There are fragments of Jesus’ teachings in the Gospels, but it is difficult to discern what he really said.
3) Paul was never a Pharisee and was not highly educated. His “conversion” was either a personal hallucinogenic experience or an outright fraud. His claims to be an apostle were attempts to further his own authority in the church.
4) Pauline theological “inventions” include a) the deity of Jesus; b) salvation by grace through faith; c) salvation through the blood of Jesus; d) the sinless nature of Jesus; e) the concept of original sin; and f) the Holy Spirit. None of these “new doctrines” were accepted by Jesus’ true followers.
5) The Gnostic Gospels are closer to the truth about Jesus than are the traditional four Gospels of the Bible.

The concept of “Pauline Christianity” represents an outright attack on the Bible as the Word of God. Adherents of the “Pauline Christianity” theory are truly misrepresenting Jesus’ teachings. They choose to believe His words on love but deny His teachings on judgment (such as Matthew 24). They insist on a human Jesus, denying His divinity, although Jesus plainly taught His equality with God in passages such as John 10:30. They want a “loving” Jesus without having to accept Him as Lord and Savior.

Interestingly, Paul’s credentials as an apostle were attacked, even in his own lifetime, by those who desired to lead the church into legalism and other errant ideologies. Paul defends himself from the spurious attacks of false teachers in 1 Corinthians 92 Corinthians 12; and Galatians 1.

Paul’s apostleship is attested to by the miracles he performed (Romans 15:19), the training he received (Galatians 1:15-20), and the testimony of the other apostles. Peter, far from being Paul’s enemy, wrote this about him: “Our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:15-16).

(The above are extracts from an article by GotQuestions.Org – https://www.gotquestions.org/Pauline-Christianity.html )

Don Stewart, from The Blue Letter Bible gives us some clarity about Paul:

What evidence do we have to call Paul’s writings Scripture?

WHO WAS PAUL?

We have no physical description of Saul of Tarsus given to us in Scripture. Early tradition says that he was a small man with a bald head. No matter what he looked liked, his writings have become part of the Word of God as found in the New Testament.

He was born Saul of Tarsus – a city which is in modern-day Turkey. Tarsus had been part of the Greek world for some time. Although the family of Saul were Jews, Saul himself was a Roman citizen.

While still a young man Saul travelled to Jerusalem to train as a Rabbi. In Jerusalem, he became acquainted with a group of people who believed Jesus of Nazareth to be the Messiah. Saul relentlessly persecuted these people while all the time thinking that he was serving God.

THE CONVERSION OF SAUL OF TARSUS

While heading for Damascus to further jail believers in Jesus, Saul had a blinding vision that knocked him to the ground. The voice that spoke to Saul identified Himself as Jesus of Nazareth – the one whom he had been persecuting. Thus, began one of the great turnarounds in history. The greatest antagonist of the Christian faith – Saul of Tarsus – became its greatest missionary – the Apostle Paul. During his lifetime he penned thirteen different works that have become part of the New Testament. It is impossible to overestimate the influence that Paul played in the spread of the Christian faith.

HE BELIEVED HIS MESSAGE TO BE DIVINE

The first thing that must be noticed is that Paul believed his message to be divine. He wrote:

“If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 14:37).

He wrote to the church at Thessalonica:

“And for this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received from us the word of God’s message, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

PAUL SPOKE OF “MY GOSPEL”

Paul spoke of “my gospel.” He said the preaching of Jesus Christ had been kept secret but now had been revealed.

“Now to him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith” (Romans 16:25,26).

However, believing to have a divine message does not make it so. What evidence do we have of this message having been sent from God?

PAUL RECEIVED DIRECT REVELATION FROM THE LORD

The Bible teaches that Paul received direct revelation from God. Paul wrote:

Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?” (1 Corinthians 9:1).

After an encounter with the ascended Jesus on the Damascus road, Paul had it explained by Ananias:

The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know his will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of his mouth. For you will be his witness to all men of what you have seen and heard “ (Acts 22:14,15).

DISOBEYING HIS WRITINGS BRINGS DISCIPLINE

Paul said that anyone who disobeyed his writings was to be disciplined by the local church. He wrote:

If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame” (2 Thessalonians 3:14).

To the Corinthians he wrote:

I already gave you a warning when I was with you the second time. I now repeat it while absent: On my return I will not spare those who sinned earlier or any of the others, since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak in dealing with you, but is powerful among you” (2 Corinthians 13:2-3).

Paul also wrote:

“If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored” (1 Corinthians 14:37,38).

HIS WRITINGS WERE CONSIDERED SCRIPTURE DURING HIS LIFETIME

The final point is that the New Testament recognized Paul’s writing as Scripture. Peter wrote:

Our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which some things are hard to understand, which those who are untaught and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the rest of the Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:15,16).

The writings of Paul complete the New Testament. He was the chosen instrument to explain the meaning of the two comings of Jesus Christ.

SUMMARY

Saul of Tarsus was a great enemy of the church. However, he was converted on the road to Damascus while in the midst of persecuting Christians. He became the Apostle Paul – the greatest missionary the church has ever seen.

Paul was given the task of explaining the ministry of Christ to the Gentile (non-Jewish) world.

We find that he received direct revelation from the Lord. Paul also believed his message to be divine. The Apostle Peter confirmed Paul’s words as Scripture. He was God’s chosen instrument to reveal much about the central truths of the Christian faith. Paul also explained the necessity of the two comings of Christ.

(Source: https://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/don_stewart/don_stewart_1242.cfm )

HOW TO HAVE A TRACT MINISTRY

0 gospel

WHAT IS A TRACT?

A tract is a short, simple presentation of the gospel message, printed in convenient pocket size, designed for easy distribution and use. There is probably no easier, more convenient way to share the Good News of Jesus Christ than through the use of gospel tracts. Many people have been led to Christ in this way. Consider these features of such a ministry:

1. There is no certain time or amount of time required – just whenever the opportunity arises.
2. Tracts can be left anywhere or shared with almost anyone.
3. There are tracts for every occasion, for every need, and for every type of person.
4. Tracts can be distributed by anyone, regardless of age, sex, race, or education.
5. Tracts provide an easy way to “break the ice” or “open the door” to witness.
6. Tracts eliminate the problem of forgetfulness or uncertainty of what to say.
7. The message, since it is printed, can be taken home, re-read and studied.
8. Tracts can be passed along, and can, therefore, be used over and over again.
9. Tracts can be mass distributed easily.
10. Tracts are inexpensive and can be handed out liberally.

KEYS TO SUCCESS IN TRACT EVANGELISM

1. Success in witnessing is simply sharing Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God. There is no substitute for prayer.
2. Always have a variety of tracts available and be prepared to use them.
3. Look for opportunities to use tracts. Take advantage of every situation.
4. As in all things, be pleasant and polite in representing the Lord Jesus Christ.
5. Do not become discouraged if you see few decisions at first. Remember: “So shall My Word be that goeth forth out of My mouth: it shall not return unto Me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11. “And let us not be weary in well doing; for in due season we shall reap if we faint not.” Galatians 6:9. “One soweth, and another reapeth.” John 4:37.
6. Distribute tracts plentifully and persistently. “He who soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly, and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” 2 Corinthians 9:6.
7. Be sure to answer mail and telephone responses. Follow-up is an essential part of evangelism. “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” Mark 16:15

HOW TO USE TRACTS

1. The preferred method is to personally hand a tract to a person and at the same time to witness with words like “May I share something with you?” or “Let me ask you just one question.” A few words of testimony may be helpful. Simply reading the tract to a person will often be the best approach.
Give tracts to friends and acquaintances everywhere; strangers in restaurants and grocery stores, bag boys and gas station attendants. Don’t forget the person on the bus or plane, the taxi driver, the parking lot attendant, and the mail carrier. Include also the bank teller and door-to-door salesman.
2. For one reason or another, it may not be possible to talk with a particular person. In such a case, just hand them a tract and ask them to read this special message at their own convenience.
3. Tracts can be handed out in shopping malls, parks, at sporting events and other places where people congregate.
4. Place tracts in all mail, including personal and business letters, bills, statements, bank deposits, greeting cards, and packages. Send them to persons known to be lost, those hospitalized and habitual church absentees. Also include people who have lost loved ones, newlyweds and new arrivals. Include God’s Word in every occasion.
REMEMBER OUR GOAL
Reach as many people as possible with the gospel, for “… repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His Name among all nations…” Luke 24:47. “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” Romans 10:17.
Many, many who would never attend church nor open the Bible, will, in fact, read a tract. They will thereby hear the Word of God, and many will be saved.

DID YOU KNOW THAT:

1. If one thousand people would each put out just fifty tracts per week, in one year over 2.6 million tracts would be distributed!
2. If one person would be saved for every one thousand tracts, 2600 souls would be won to Christ during that year!
3. Just minutes per day per person is required to hand out this many tracts!
“As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.” John 20:21.

SUGGESTIONS FOR CONDUCTING A CHURCH OR GROUP TRACT MINISTRY

1. Elect a Director of Tract Evangelism to supervise the program.
2. Encourage workers to make definite commitments to this ministry.
3. Conduct initial training for all workers in how to witness with tracts.
4. Conduct regular prayer sessions for the program.
5. Obtain a wide variety of tract samples from different sources. There is a host of tracts for every occasion and every kind of spiritual need. Select appropriate tracts from among these and maintain sufficient quantity.
6. Set aside funds on a continuing basis, if possible, to assist in the ongoing expense of printing tracts or buying them.
7. Stamp all tracts with address and telephone number for follow-up.
8. Develop a follow-up, discipleship program for new Christians.
9. Acquire an attractive tract rack and place it in a heavy traffic area. Keep it well stocked.
10. Have periodic meetings of all workers to share results and experiences. Keep records of decisions made “for Christ”.

“Then saith He unto His disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that He will send forth laborers into His harvest.” Matthew 9:37-38

(Written by Joe Segree)

NOTE: Dear friends, we wish to expand HEAVENLY REMNANT MINISTRIES, Lord willing, by distributing tracts to the Zulu people in the area in South Africa where we live. This will be our first step to bring the gospel to some of the poorest of the poor in our country.

We humbly ask for any donations, no matter how small, to enable us to start with this project. Should you feel led to donate, donations can be made to our PayPal account.

https://heavenlyremnantministries.blog/paypal-donations/?

DID MUHAMMAD EXIST?

0 Muhammad

The book, “Did Muhammad Exist?” by Robert Spencer is highly recommended, should you be interested in understanding Islam’s obscure origins. Islam is more of a patched ideology, rather than a religion.

Go to a high-street or online bookstore, and one can find numerous biographies written about Muhammad — the reputed founder of Islam — by the likes of Karen Armstrong and Tariq Ramadan. These works — generally apologetic in nature — wholly rely on the traditional Islamic accounts of the Prophet’s life, and if they ever delve into the question of the reliability of those sources, it is only in the hope of explaining away incidents in Muhammad’s life that might come across as unsavory to modern readers.

Such an approach, however, simply will not do for genuine historical research. One cannot adopt a pick-and-mix method to determining what aspects of Muhammad’s life actually occurred on moralistic grounds. It is in this respect that Robert Spencer’s latest book differs from the writings of Armstrong and Ramadan.

Without indulging in polemics or pushing a partisan political agenda, the author simply investigates the question of whether we can really trust the traditional Islamic accounts for the life of Muhammad and the supposed early days of Islam during the Arab conquests.

So, did Muhammad exist? As a prophet of the Arabs who taught a vaguely defined monotheism, he may have existed. But beyond that, his life story is lost in the mists of legend, like those of Robin Hood and Macbeth. As the prophet of Islam, who received (or even claimed to receive) the perfect copy of the perfect eternal book from the supreme God, Muhammad almost certainly did not exist. There are too many gaps, too many silences, too many aspects of the historical record that simply do not accord, and cannot be made to accord, with the traditional account of the Arabian prophet teaching his Qur’an, energizing his followers to such an extent that they went out and conquered a good part of the world.

A careful investigation makes at least one thing clear: The details of Muhammad’s life that have been handed down as canonical—that he unified Arabia by the force of arms, concluded alliances, married wives, legislated for his community, and did so much else—are a creation of political ferments dating from long after the time he is supposed to have lived. Similarly, the records strongly indicate that the Qur’an did not exist until long after it was supposed to have been delivered to the prophet of Islam.

In light of this evidence, there is compelling reason to conclude that Muhammad the messenger of Allah came into existence only after the Arab Empire was firmly entrenched and casting about for a political theology to anchor and unify it. Muhammad and the Qur’an cemented the power of the Umayyad caliphate and then that of the Abbasid caliphate. That is the most persuasive explanation for why they were created at all. And once legends about Muhammad began to be elaborated, his story took on a life of its own: One legend begat another, as people hungered to know what their prophet said and did regarding issues that vexed them. Once Muhammad was summoned, he could not be sent away. One pious legend fabricated for political purposes would lead to another, and then another, to fill in holes and address anomalies in the first; then those new stories would lead in turn to still newer ones, until finally the faithful Muslims were able to fill wheelbarrows with volumes of hadiths, as is the case today.

As long as the oddities, inconsistencies, and lacunae exist in the traditional Islamic narratives and the records of early Islam, there will arise people with the courage to seek answers to the questions we have considered here. Up to now, however, those brave scholars have been relatively few in number. This is both unusual and unfortunate. It is unusual in that the world’s other major religions have undergone thorough historical investigation; the “quest for the historical Jesus,” a parallel to inquiries into the historical Muhammad, has been a prominent field of scholarship for two centuries. It is unfortunate in that the lack of interest in examining Islam’s origins, among Muslim and non-Muslim scholars alike, robs everyone of access to the truth.

To be sure, many fervent believers in Islam resist such historical investigation. Even raising the question of whether Muhammad existed challenges the very premise of their belief system. No Muslim authorities have encouraged such scholarship, and those who have pursued this line of inquiry often labor under threat of death. But scholarly examinations of the origins of Christianity and Judaism have gone forward even as some Christians and Jews, including high religious authorities, condemned these historical inquiries as attempts to undermine their faith. Of course, other authorities have actually approved and even welcomed the inquiries. Islam, however, has remained largely exempt from such scrutiny.

For some fourteen hundred years, Islam has profoundly shaped the history and culture not only of the Near East but also of the entire world. At one point, the Islamic Empire stretched as far west as Spain and as far east as India, as far south as Sudan and as far north as the Caucasus. Over the centuries Islamic forces have repeatedly clashed with Western powers, whether it was in the initial wave of conquests that created the Islamic Empire, the clashes with the Crusaders of the Byzantine Empire over Christian holy lands, or the Ottoman Empire’s fierce efforts to control the Mediterranean in the sixteenth century. More recently, of course, the nature of the conflict has changed: No longer are traditional powers facing off on the battlefield; instead, Islamic jihadists are terrorizing unbelievers and seeking in various ways, including nonviolent subversion and the electoral process, to impose sharia law.

This long history of conflict demonstrates that there are pronounced differences between the Islamic tradition and the Judeo-Christian tradition of the West. And yet despite those differences, few have bothered to investigate how the Islamic tradition emerged and what those origins might tell us about the “clash of civilizations” that has been a defining feature of world history for well over a millennium.

Did Muhammad exist? The full truth of whether a prophet named Muhammad lived in seventh-century Arabia, and if he did, what sort of a man he was, may never be known. But it would be intellectually irresponsible not to ask the question or consider the implications of the provocative evidence that pioneering scholars have assembled.
Contrary to the common assumption, Islam and its supposed prophet did not emerge in the “full light of history.” Now, more than ever before, historical investigators have the opportunity—in fact, the responsibility—to usher Islam’s origins out of the shadows and into the light.

After the investigations of the book, “Did Muhammad Exist?” by Robert Spencer, here is what we know about the traditional account of Muhammad’s life and the early days of Islam:
• No record of Muhammad’s reported death in 632 appears until more than a century after that date.
• A Christian account apparently dating from the mid-630s speaks of an Arab prophet “armed with a sword” who seems to be still alive.
• The early accounts written by the people the Arabs conquered never mention Islam, Muhammad, or the Qur’an. They call the conquerors “Ishmaelites,” “Saracens,” “Muhajirun,” and “Hagarians,” but never “Muslims.”1
• The Arab conquerors, in their coins and inscriptions, don’t mention Islam or the Qur’an for the first six decades of their conquests. Mentions of “Muhammad” are nonspecific and on at least two occasions are accompanied by a cross. The word can be used not only as a proper name but also as an honorific.
• The Qur’an, even by the canonical Muslim account, was not distributed in its present form until the 650s. Contradicting that standard account is the fact that neither the Arabians nor the Christians and Jews in the region mention the Qur’an until the early eighth century.
• During the reign of the caliph Muawiya (661–680), the Arabs constructed at least one public building whose inscription was headed by a cross.
• We begin hearing about Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, and about Islam itself in the 690s, during the reign of the caliph Abd al-Malik. Coins and inscriptions reflecting Islamic beliefs begin to appear at this time also.
• Around the same time, Arabic became the predominant written language of the Arabian Empire, supplanting Syriac and Greek.
• Abd al-Malik claimed, in a passing remark in one hadith, to have collected the Qur’an, contradicting Islamic tradition that the collection was the work of the caliph Uthman forty years earlier.
• Multiple hadiths report that Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, governor of Iraq during the reign of Abd al-Malik, edited the Qur’an and distributed his new edition to the various Arab-controlled provinces—again, something Uthman is supposed to have done decades earlier.
• Even some Islamic traditions maintain that certain common Islamic practices, such as the recitation of the Qur’an during mosque prayers, date from orders of Hajjaj ibn Yusuf, not to the earliest period of Islamic history.
• In the middle of the eighth century, the Abbasid dynasty supplanted the Umayyad line of Abd al-Malik. The Abbasids charged the Umayyads with impiety on a large scale. In the Abbasid period, biographical material about Muhammad began to proliferate. The first complete biography of the prophet of Islam finally appeared during this era—at least 125 years after the traditional date of his death.
• The biographical material that emerged situates Muhammad in an area of Arabia that never was the center for trade and pilgrimage that the canonical Islamic account of Islam’s origins depends on it to be.

In short, the lack of confirming detail in the historical record, the late development of biographical material about the Islamic prophet, the atmosphere of political and religious factionalism in which that material developed, and much more suggest that the Muhammad of Islamic tradition did not exist, or if he did, he was substantially different from how that tradition portrays him.

(Source: “Did Muhammad Exist?” – Robert Spencer)