RAPTURE 17: WHEN? PAUL’S CLEAR STATEMENT!

Last time I discussed what Paul didn’t say about the rapture, which omission is a strong indicator of its timing. Here, in a mercifully shorter post, I’ll briefly include what Jesus didn’t say. Then I will point out one of the clear statements which Paul did make concerning the rapture’s timing. I once ignored such statements, as others do now…

WHAT JESUS DIDN’T SAY

In his Olivet Discourse Jesus spoke of the destruction of the temple, which was to occur a few decades later (Matthew 24:1-2). When his disciples then asked him about the end of the age, he summarized what was to come, from verse 4 and ending at verse 14. Then He gave them the clearest clue, or the most significant event to look for, as the trigger of last-days events. He called  it “the abomination of desolation”, first spoken of by Daniel (verse 15). The abomination of desolation will occur in association with the revealing presence of Antichrist on the temple mount in Jerusalem. According to Jesus, this will effectively be the sign that the turmoil of great tribulation is beginning. In verse 21 we read:

For then will be great distress, unequaled from beginning of the world until now-and never to be equaled again”.

When Antichrist goes to work on the temple mount, said Jesus, there will be “great distress”, unequaled through all history. This initial sign of tribulation given by Jesus aligns with what Paul wrote, saying that the first signs of “the day of the Lord” would be a “falling away” and the revealing of the man of sin. 

Neither Jesus or Paul said anything about a rapture or a gathering of believers happening before the “abomination” event. Why not? Paul did tell the Gentile church about the rapture in  his first letter to the Thessalonians, chapter 4, so why didn’t he tell them in his second letter that it would occur as a first sign, in order to put their fears to rest? Jesus spoke about the resurrection and the gathering of his elect at the end of the tribulation: why didn’t he say anything about a gathering which would precede tribulation events? Neither of them said anything along these lines:

When you see millions of believers vanish from the earth, know that the time is near”

Instead, Jesus said :

..but he who stands firm to the end will be saved” (verse 14).

MYSTERY UNVEILED

Pre-tribulation teachers answer the problem of why Paul and Jesus omitted talk of the rapture while discussing the Day of the Lord by saying that the rapture was a “mystery”. But Paul did speak about the rapture, in his first letter to the Thessalonians-the one before the second letter in which the signs of the day of the Lord are given. He also discussed the rapture in his first letter to the Corinthians, saying, “I tell you a mystery”. He didn’t say “I know a mystery but I’m not going to tell you what it is”. He didn’t say, “Behold, I hide a mystery from you”: the rapture was an open topic. Thessalonians and Corinthians (and so probably others also) were told about the mystery. And we too know it, because we’ve read these letters many times. Yet when giving the initial signs of the Day of the Lord, Jesus and Paul said nothing about the rapture!

Another pertinent fact is that Jesus was in fact speaking to his  closest disciples during the Olivet Discourse: people who would shortly become the first members of his spirit-filled, saved and sanctified Christian Church at Pentecost. To them-born again Christians-he gave the signs of tribulation and things to look out for during that tribulation.

A CLEAR STATEMENT: 1 THESSALONIANS 3

Paul’s wish and prayer was that the Thessalonians would be, “…blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones” (1 Thess. 3:13). This thought about being blameless is echoed by John in one of his letters:

And now, dear children, continue in him so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming (1 John 2: 28).

Paul hoped that the Thessalonians-predominantly Gentile believers- would be blameless and holy when Jesus comes “with all his holy ones”. When, according to Scripture, will Jesus come with all his holy ones? Is it in a pre-tribulation rapture, or at his visible appearing to the entire world? Paul answers the question himself:

God is just: he will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels” (2 Thess. 1:6-7).

Didn’t Paul want the Thessalonians to be “blameless and holy” at a secret coming of Jesus, years before Christ’s “blazing fire” appearance with all his holy ones? Why be in the presence of Jesus for seven years before you have to be “confident and unashamed before him at his coming”? And the “relief” which the Thessalonians would receive, says Paul, does not come before the Tribulation, but at the visible appearing of Jesus Christ to bring judgment and rewards.

Paul is telling the Thessalonians that he wants them to be blameless and unashamed when Jesus appears in his grand entrance for all the world to see-which is at the end of the tribulation. This statement-ignored by pre-tribulation believers-directly contradicts the concept of a pre-tribulation Rapture.

Thanks for reading. This post is an updated and edited excerpt from my book, “All Left Behind: The Case Against a Pre-Tribulation Rapture”, by Nicholas Fisher, available on Amazon.

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FROM LEFT TO RIGHT

Here’s one of those posts just crying out to be blocked and censored by social media giants! If you manage to read it, you’re probably quite lucky…

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How does a person go from being an a-moral, leftist communist in their thinking, to being a Trump-loving conservative? It’s easy, really…

ROOTS

I began my political understandings on the far left of the spectrum, in Britain. My dad, a wonderful Christian man, lived his early life in the days when unions were still struggling to win fair working conditions for working people, and his socialist views shaped mine. I was also influenced by my friends, still firmly entrenched in their way of thinking, and believing me now to be a brainwashed, “far-right” neo-nazi who isn’t worth knowing.

IRON LADY

In the eighties I witnessed Thatcher-“the iron lady”- come to power in the UK, and Reagan in the US. While I know now that they were both grossly misrepresented in most of our news media, as Trump is, Thatcher and her cabinet really were a band of cold, heartless, uncaring individuals. Even if their economy did pick the country out of a deep recession caused by socialist policies, they had no communication graces, and their snooty attitudes and some of their policies left a permanent scar on the British psyche. At that time and for years after I would rather be pulled around the streets by wild horses than vote Conservative.

THE MAKER’S INSTRUCTIONS

In the course of time, I became a Christian. My life was changed radically, because until then I was living with absolutely no thought of God but only how to get more stoned. I had no views on morality and no care for what might be right or wrong except for myself. I also moved to the US to live near relatives, and to be in a part of the world where there was space to breathe. It was there (here) that my Christian mind and heart developed, being shaped by Biblical Scripture and the few who were really preaching it. For a number of years I still saw myself as being completely “left” of any Republican ideals, including the claimed right to bear arms. I thought then that all guns should be illegal, and that no-one should be wealthy.

Cutting out the details and the process of my conversion, I find myself well and truly on the opposite end of the political spectrum in these times. Scripture and life have taught me a whole new way of seeing things. I now know that God made the world with a specific set of principles attached, and didn’t present them as being optional. For best results, follow the Maker’s instructions.

THE FAMILY

God designed the nuclear family (mum-dad-kids) as the basic building block of a safe, stable and functional society. Our society is crumbling partly because of its rejection of this fundamental fact. The “Left” of the political spectrum, in the vein of Carl Marx, wishes to see this unit destroyed or at least to be regarded as unhealthy and damaging. One of the instruments of destruction is the corruption of sexual expression, with the assertions that sex is love, and that any sexual preference is acceptable. This is encouraged through entertainment and fashion, and now politics also.

WORK

God instituted work and the enjoyment of its rewards. Whereas I once believed that those unwilling to work should be provided with all their needs and wants anyway, at the expense of the rich, I now realize that genuine hard work and enterprise should be rewarded with the wealth it creates. And it doesn’t only create wealth for the businessman (or woman) but for all he employs and for all who are paid by him for their services. Work builds our society and keeps us from wasting our time. It honors God who is a creator and a builder, and who has given us all the abilities we need in this world. It’s good for us all.

NATIONS, NOT WORLD GOVERNMENT

God divided the nations at Babel. He did not want to see a global or a “trans-national” community, which he knew would be united in opposition against him. In our world the Left wishes to have another go at building that tower to the heavens, and opposes the Christian gospel and faith in the Biblical God (any other god is just fine). It seeks global governance and power over every aspect of our lives, coercing us into believing and trusting in government, not God. The Left, along with its own father, wishes to take power from God, and to become god.

God set up borders between nations. He has no qualms about borders and territories, so long as we care for those who are genuinely in need. But God wishes us first to care for our own: 

If anyone does not take care of his own relatives, especially his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:8).

DEFENSE

Self-defense is not an ungodly concept. If we had no means of self-defense, we would be at the mercy of the ungodly, and of ungodly government, and may not be able to protect and take care of our own. We would actually be encouraging those who wish to take, kill and destroy. The police would simply show up to clean up the mess and perhaps blame the victims (does that sound familiar?)

DEATH

Life is of enormous value, and to take it-particularly to take it from those who are helpless and who just need a chance to come into the world like the rest of us did, is one of the most despicable practices on earth, yet is loved and defended by the Left. I could never vote Left again for that reason alone.

TAKING SIDES

The list does go on. The point is that once I came to know who God is, and to understand some of his principles, I came to realize that while God does not vote one way or the other, and while good and bad are found on both sides of the political divide, he is most likely to be found among those who honor his ways.

RAPTURE 16: WHAT PAUL DIDN’T SAY

Hi everyone. Today’s excerpt from my book on the rapture is taken from a chapter titled “WHAT PAUL AND JESUS DIDN’T SAY”, because what they didn’t say is as instructive as what they did say. But first, I wish to disassociate myself with certain religious ads which are being placed upon my blog. I’m not a part of any organization or cult. For the record, again, I am a born-again Christian, trusting only in the sacrifice and resurrection of the only Son of God for my salvation. 

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WHAT PAUL DIDN’T SAY: CLUES FROM 2 THESSALONIANS CHAPTER 2

Paul warned the Thessalonians not to be falsely led into the notion that the “day of the Lord” had already arrived. Evidently some such deception was going around at that time. Exactly when will the day of the Lord come, and what will it look like? According to Peter, the day of the Lord includes the destruction of this present earth (2 Peter 3:10-13), and according to Paul it will include sudden destruction falling on an ungodly world of people (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4). Peter’s sermon early in the book of Acts declares that the day of the Lord will occur after the sun is darkened and the moon turns to blood (Acts 2:20). So the “day of the Lord” seems to include the tribulation, or perhaps the wrath of God as discussed in a previous chapter, and following events.

Paul told the Thessalonians what must happen before the day of the Lord can begin. He said:

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition” (2 Thessalonians 2:3 KJV).

In a bout of circular reasoning which says, “We know the rapture comes before the tribulation, therefore Paul is speaking of the rapture here”, it’s claimed that Paul’s motivation was that the saints in Thessalonica were afraid they’d missed the pre-tribulation rapture, and had been “left behind”. But there’s no word about the rapture here. Please notice what Paul did not say. He didn’t say anything like this:

The day of the Lord cannot come before we’re all taken into heaven and gathered to him-therefore comfort one another with these words”.

This to me is very telling. It seems a serious omission, if Paul really knew and was preaching, as some claim, that there was a rapture coming before Antichrist is revealed and before any other tribulation events occur. The whole world can today read Paul’s discussions on the rapture, in 1 Thessalonians and in 1 Corinthians. It isn’t a secret, and Paul had already shared the “mystery” of the resurrection and the rapture in his first letter to the Thessalonians, in order to encourage the Church. The rapture therefore didn’t need to be hidden any more-if it ever was-and there’s no attempt in Paul’s letters to hide the rapture as though it’s some sort of secret. Yet in his instruction to a predominantly Gentile church-to a believing church which was fearful that the day of the Lord had begun; a church which Paul said was not in darkness but in the light of salvation (1 Thessalonians 5:4-6); in his warning about the first signs of the true beginning of the tribulation, he does not mention the rapture at all. The first sign of the Day of the Lord, said Paul, will be a falling away, and the second the appearance of the man of lawlessness. The rapture is missing from the list!

OUR BEING GATHERED TO HIM

The second chapter of 2 Thessalonians is, “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him” (verse 1). It’s very important to bear in mind that the content of this first verse is the reason for Paul’s following discussion. Significantly, and I don’t mean to be flippant, it’s connected with the second verse, and the phrase “the day of the Lord”. So in relation to the coming of Jesus and our gathering to him, Thessalonians were not to think that the day of the Lord had already come.

There’s no reason to consider “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” and “our being gathering to him” as two separate events. It’s important to see that the two are not spoken of independently in the following discussion. The “coming” of Jesus is mentioned again, and it’s undoubtedly his appearance in power and glory for all the world to see (verse 8) but “our gathering to him” is not mentioned again. Why is that, when it’s part of Paul’s subject in this chapter?

The possible answer is that if the two are actually one, and parts of the same set of events rather than being separated by seven years or more, there would be no need to mention them separately. As an everyday example of distinctions which are in fact inseparable, we might talk with our families about getting together for “the coming weekend and our trip to the mall”, or we might talk about “the coming birthday party and the cake-lighting ceremony”. The weekend and the trip to the mall are immediately and inseparably associated, as are the party and the cake-lighting ceremony.

In our subsequent discussion of the weekend we may not need to mention the mall again: the subject of the mall is already accepted as a part of the coming weekend. When the weekend comes we will go to the mall. We may not mention the lighting of the cake again, but just the birthday party. The cake lighting is already an acknowledged part of the birthday party. When we have the birthday party we will light the cake. Similarly, “our being gathering to him” in Paul’s first verse of this chapter may well just be an intrinsic part of “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”, so that when Jesus Christ comes we will be gathered to him, and there’s no need to mention the “gathering” again.

THE DAY OF THE LORD

In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul associated “the day of the Lord” not with a pre-tribulation rapture, but with judgment:

For you know very well that ‘the day of the Lord’ will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety’, destruction will come on them suddenly…” (1Thessalonians 5:2-3).

In his second letter Paul says about the day of the Lord:

Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed…” (verse 3).

Believers were not afraid that they’d missed a pre-tribulation rapture: that isn’t what Paul said. It seems instead that they were afraid that the day of the Lord had come, and perhaps that they had missed “the coming of the Lord”.

Since Paul had said at the beginning of the second chapter that his following discussion concerns “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him”, and if by this Paul meant a pre-tribulation rapture, the following discussion should be about the rapture, if that was what the believers thought they had missed, should it not? Instead, it’s about “the day of the Lord”-the time of prophesied events on the earth, and “the coming of the Lord”, which, Paul informs us, comes after two unmistakable signs. Put simply: first in the realm of significant events would come a “falling away” and the revealing of Antichrist, as signs of the coming of the day of the Lord.

So where is “our being gathered to him” in the remainder of the second chapter, if this phrase is referring to a pre-tribulation rapture? Has Paul forgotten his subject? It must be there somewhere. Wouldn’t a more honest, straightforward reading tell us that “the day of the Lord”, and “the coming of the Lord” is synonymous or closely contemporaneous with “our being gathered to him”? Is this perhaps why Paul placed “the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” in the same sentence as “our being gathered together to him”?

The only “coming of the Lord” which Paul writes about in this chapter is the one which sees the Antichrist brought to justice:

…whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:8 ESV).

There’s not a separate and distinct “coming of the Lord” in the passage to bring about our gathering to him.

The two signs Paul gives-or rather the fact that they haven’t yet occurred- are given to believers in the church as reassurance and evidence that the day of the Lord had not yet come. However, the rapture is not given- in any form. Paul did not say, “We would not be here if the day of the Lord had begun”. There’s no mention of the rapture not having taken place yet as reassurance. And perhaps more importantly, there’s no mention of the coming of the Lord before the day of the Lord! Surely, if Paul is aiming to inform the people and to stop them being deceived into thinking the rapture had happened already, he would say something about the rapture. He might say “Hey church, we apostles are still here-we haven’t been snatched up yet, so don’t sweat! Our snatching-up is still to come, and it will come before these events unfold!”

We saw that Paul’s topic in this chapter is “the coming of the Lord and our gathering to him” (verse 1), yet his following discourse is on the day of the Lord and things that must happen before it. Why didn’t he write about the rapture? Trying to squeeze the pre-tribulation rapture into this passage, when it is not here, is a way of avoiding facing up to the reality of what it is saying.

Again, Paul’s topic is the coming of the Lord and our being gathered to him. At what point in Paul’s discussion does he write of Christ’s coming? Is it before Antichrist is revealed? No, it’s after the point when we see Antichrist defeated:

And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the splendor of his coming” (verse 8).

The “coming” Paul speaks of is the event at which Antichrist is stopped and judged (verse 8). Paul does not speak of the “gathering” as a separate event, either here or earlier in the sequence of events.

Let’s look back at Paul’s first Thessalonians letter, and the passage widely seen as Paul’s informative talk on the rapture. In it he says:

…we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord…” (1 Thessalonians 4:15).

Paul is using the same phrase “the coming of the Lord” in his rapture talk as he uses in his “day of the Lord” talk to bring judgment in the second letter, again indicating that the two are one.

Thanks again for reading this long post. The next post will continue with what Jesus didn’t say.

*ALL LEFT BEHIND: THE CASE AGAINST THE PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE, by Nicholas Fisher, available on Amazon (see the link below).

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=all+left+behind+the+case+against+the+pre-tribulation+rapture&ref=nb_sb_noss

I’M NOT JOINING THE MOVEMENT

There’s a movement away from scriptural authority: I’m not going with it…

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There’s a movement which asks the question, “Did God really say…?” (Genesis 3:1). Famous and not so famous ministers, including, unfortunately, those in a church my own family attends, are claiming that the Old Testament doesn’t really say what we think it says, but that some of the New Testament does. It can’t be trusted they say-if they ever mention it at all.

Oh really? That’s interesting, because the New Testament itself is filled with the defense of scripture, including the defense of what we have in the Old Testament. The two are inextricably linked. Jesus himself said to Satan, who was attempting to derail the Son of God from Scripture:

“It is written…” (Matthew 4:4).

There’s a train of unbelief and of calling God a liar. Its engine has always been Satan, and its cars consist of atheists and agnostics, and those wishing to rid the world of godly standards of morality. But joining the procession are many in the church who think they know better than God, and that God is incapable of speaking his mind, of having convictions, and of preserving his words. I’m not on the train, I’m not going to get on the train, and I’m not the slightest bit interested in going to the final destination of that train. Count me out.

In coming weeks I’m going to develop this topic.

RAPTURE 15(b): SUPPER TIME

Greetings dear reader. Here’s a continuation of my post on the Bride of Christ in relation to the rapture…

There’s some disagreement as to the actual timing of the marriage supper mentioned in Revelation chapter 19. Is it immediately after the rapture, when the tribulation is about to commence; just before the middle of the tribulation when things will really begin to heat up on the earth, or is it towards the end, just before the physical return of Christ? Is it even after the return of Christ to the earth? 

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We’re introduced to the wedding supper by an angel in verse 9 of chapter 19. He speaks immediately after a great multitude in heaven declares that the “wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready” (verses 6-8). It seems to be a natural conclusion that this multitude in heaven, before Christ rides out of heaven on his white horse, praising God for the wedding and the wedding supper, must indeed be the raptured Church, meaning that the rapure occurred before or at least during the tribulation. But when we read the chapter a little more carefully we find some serious problems for this conviction, because the wedding supper is announced at some time after the destruction of the “great prostitute”, or false religion, is celebrated in verses 1 to 3. It’s the Antichrist and his ten henchmen “kings” who are the ones to destroy the prostitute:

They will bring her to ruin and leave her naked; they will eat her flesh and burn her with fire” (Revelation 17:16).

To think that the reference to the supper in chapter 19 is a random interjection; an “Oh by the way-don’t forget that the wedding will be before this” sort of reference to something which already happened years ago, and that it is not at all related to its position in the dialogue, is a hopeful assumption without reason.

Since Antichrist can only rule for the last three and a half years of the tribulation (13:5 with 17:12) and his destruction of the “great prostitute” is announced just before the wedding and the wedding supper are also announced, it would seem logical to deduce that the wedding supper of the Lamb is being announced after the mid point of the proposed seven year tribulation, because this is when Antichrist and the ten will gain power. There is therefore no certainty that the bride-if this is the bride in chapter 19- has been in heaven for the entirety of the assumed seven-year period.

There’s also no certainty that the bride is in heaven at all when the wedding and the wedding supper are being proclaimed. As the bride is merely mentioned in chapter 19 before Christ rides in glory to the earth, it’s assumed that she’s been in heaven for the entire tribulation, and that the supper is either occurring at this point or has already taken place. But is she actually, really there at all, even in chapter 19?

A great multitude shouts:

Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready” (19:7).

The multitude is speaking not of itself but is speaking in the third person: “his bride has made herself ready”. The KJV also uses the word “herself”, and doesn’t say “We have made ourselves ready”. In other words, the multitude seems to be shouting about other people, not about themselves or even those to whom they’re shouting. The bride is not located or pointed out in this chapter 19 scene. John does not say, “And behold, I saw the bride of the Lamb”. The wedding supper event is not described at all: it’s not in progress. If it’s already been held, it seems almost inconceivable that it hasn’t been at least mentioned or noticed by John. And how many grooms would have a wedding supper with his bride and then take her straight out onto the battlefield?

The angel tells John to write, “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb” (verse 9).

We’re reading about a celebration of the invitation to the wedding supper, not the wedding supper itself. Again, if John was living through these events in real-time, it seems he would surely have described or at least mentioned the supper, if it had already been held, particularly as Revelation is written “For the churches” (Revelation 22:16). If Jesus Christ was seeking to reassure and inform the Church of his grand plan, why is there no description of the marriage supper?

Indeed, had the supper happened during the events of the tribulation, and since John was supposedly “raptured” at its commencement, he should have been a vital part of it. He would surely say something like, “And behold, I saw the wedding supper of the Lamb, and feasted with my fellow disciples”. Instead, though the bride has “made herself ready” in chapter 19, she’s nowhere to be seen, and her groom is on the way out the door to slaughter his enemies and gather his elect!

ARE THE ELECT NOT INVITED?

Context is always vitally important in interpretation of scripture. The context here in chapter 19 and the next chapter is that the great whore has been destroyed, the wedding supper of the Lamb “has come”, and the Lamb himself, Jesus Christ, is about to turn roaring lion and burst forth onto the world in the most spectacular event of the ages. He’s going to defeat his enemies, then he’s going to send angels to gather his elect from the four winds.

This gathering of the elect is described in the Olivet Discourse as happening upon the glorious, visible return of Jesus. Is it possible that Jesus Christ would hold that wedding supper without inviting his elect- those who had been bravely and faithfully opposing the Antichrist and refusing his mark, upholding the testimony of Jesus, and gaining great victory over the beast, the false prophet and the world? Would Jesus Christ really hold that wedding supper without them? I personally very much doubt it. We’re told that those who are invited are blessed (19:9). Are the elect-those who have withstood Antichrist, not blessed? Could they not be at least a part of his Church? They are, after all “his” elect (Matthew 24:31). And remember that once the groom in the parable of the ten virgins had taken his bride, the door was shut and no-one else was allowed to the wedding: there was only one collection of the bride by the groom-not two.

Could it be that the “elect” are Christ’s bride? Could it be that the gathering of his elect which we read about in the Olivet Discourse is the point at which the resurrection takes place and believers still living are gathered, as Paul shared in his first letter to the Thessalonians?

The entire issue of the bride thickens in chapter 21 of Revelation: it isn’t quite so straightforward as we think it is before we dive into the subject. Paul spoke of the marriage between a man and a woman as representing the relationship between Christ and the Church (Ephesians chapter 5). He called the relationship a “mystery”, just as he called the rapture a mystery. We’ve seen how, in Revelation chapter 19 the “bride” has made herself ready for marriage, but when we get to chapter 21 we’re confronted with something of a challenge to our view of the bride, and also to the timing of that wedding.

It is after the new heavens and new earth appear at the start of chapter 21 that we find another mention of a bride. Here the bride is a city, or is it actually the Church metaphorically described as a city: the New Jerusalem? This is a difficult passage, because we evangelicals think of the New Jerusalem as a literal city which we will live in. But when an angel tells John that he will show him “the bride, the wife of the Lamb”, he shows him not a multitude of people, but a seemingly literal, physical city, with gates, walls, a river, trees, and all kinds of decorations. But how can the bride of Christ, the Church, made up of millions of believers, be seen as a literal city? Are both somehow synonymous, so that the Church along with the city are the bride? Or is there perhaps no literal city at all? It seems unlikely that there will be no cities in God’s creation for eternity: why could there not be a literal New Jerusalem? And if we look further into the chapter we see more reference to apparently literal, physical objects and actions. For example, “…its gates will never be shut” (verse 25). How can this be describing people?

It seems that this appearance of the New Jerusalem, which is described as being both “like” a bride (21:2) and as the bride herself (22:9) must be a thousand years after the glorious return of Jesus to the earth and after his thousand year reign (21:1-2). Each is seen by John to descend out of heaven at this time. Perhaps the bride has been based in heaven for the millennium but is transferred to the new earth after it. This is obviously a subject for debate, research and prayer: it is for now its own “mystery” which will only become clear when the time is right.

When does the bride make her first actual appearance, rather than being just spoken about? Is it in Revelation chapter 4, when John arrives in heaven to see the events of the tribulation? No. Is it in chapter 19, before the conquering, vengeful Christ rides out of heaven? No, it’s in chapter 21. It’s after Antichrist and the false prophet are thrown into the Lake of Fire (19:19-20); after those beheaded in the tribulation are raised (20:4); after the first resurrection (20:5) and after our introduction to the thousand year reign (20:6-10).

It’s true that the bride does indeed come out of heaven, but only just in time for the beginning of eternity after the millennium. In verse 2 of chapter 21 the city-the bride- appears, and she has been “prepared”:

I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband”.

Remember that the bride of chapter 19 was also “prepared”, but she made no appearance at that point:

…his bride has made herself ready” (19:7).

It’s only when the New Jerusalem appears, after the millennium, that we’re told God is now living with his people:

Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them” (21:3).

MIND BURP 14: THE ANTI-RENAISSANCE

Take time to thank our Creator for clothing. Most of us would present a terrifying, revolting sight to the world without it.

How is it that someone who writes poorly written blog posts, with elementary-grade grammar and reasoning, attacking the Church and her Lord and her inspiration, can gain thousands of followers? Does one pay to gain wider coverage on sites like WordPress and so more sympathizers, or is it just a sign of where the heart of the average reader is? And why is it that the ads planted on my posts are so yucky? Don’t people want to sell flowers and perfume and stuff that people actually want?

The mayor of London has compared Trump to anti-Semitic dictators of the 20th Century (note 1). Ironically, leaders of the mayor’s religion sided with anti-Semitic Hitler during WWII, and remain vehemently opposed to the existence of the Jewish state and anyone in support of it-such as Trump.

Those interested in quality literature will be aware that many classics have already been removed from public access, particularly in the world of education (ex. note 2). In their place has come shallow, politically-correct social justice mush which does nothing to enrich our culture or to educate. Are we living in the “Anti-Renaissance” period?

If we evolved, then it’s evolution which produced God, religion, religious wars, death and suffering: all those things seen by the atheist as the enemies of mankind. Chew on that one.

How do I know God exists? The answer is Beethoven’s Sonata 14.

Don’t like big business? In a socialist state, the government is the biggest business you could possibly have. Even if it allowed other companies to exist, it would exert dictatorial power over all. It would be far beyond your reach, and beyond competition and comparison. It would allow you no choice and no remedy. Do you really trust your local and national politicians that much? They would be the only people between you and The corporation.

ICONOCLASM: intentionally removing or dismantling religious icons, traditions or established beliefs apart from religion.

One day recently I was pondering why, in my youth, I rejected and gave the cold shoulder to the girls who were sweet and warm towards me, and why I instead chased the girls who gave me trouble and pain. Then I remembered a great Groucho Marx line, not a verbatim quote:

“I wouldn’t belong to any club which would have me for a member…”

NOTES

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/sadiq-khan-compares-donald-trump-16242145

RAPTURE 15(a): THE BRIDE

The “wedding supper of the Lamb”, announced in Revelation chapter 19, is believed to be a love-feast involving Jesus Christ and his bride, the raptured Church.  The rapture of the Church is commonly considered to be the calling of Christ’s bride. To this point, I agree. However, pre-tribulation rapture believers are convinced this love feast will occur in heaven while the tribulation is playing out on the earth. They say that an early rapture mirrors betrothal rites and ceremonies in ancient Jewish culture. Are these beliefs really supported in Scripture?

Welcome to the latest excerpt from my book* This subject, the Bride of Christ, as it relates to the rapture, is in two parts. The second part (b) will probably appear next week.

THE IMMINENT COMING

The concept of “imminence”, which I covered in an earlier post, is vital to the theory that Christ will call his bride into heaven before the tribulation. Proponents quote Jesus from the Olivet Discourse, when he said:

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36)

PT believers claim that this and other similar phrases are directly related to the ancient custom of the groom suddenly and unexpectedly showing up to claim his bride, and so support a pre-tribulation rapture. Instead, as I demonstrated when discussing imminence, the above quote and others like it were actually said for the benefit of the very people pre-tribulationists claim will be left behind to live through the tribulation.

TEN VIRGINS

One passage of scripture used to support the idea that ancient Jewish marriage rites prefigure a pre-tribulation rapture is found towards the end of the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 25:1-13). Here Jesus tells the well-known parable of ten virgins who were betrothed, and expecting the groom to come and take them in marriage. Five were ready for the groom when he came, but five were foolish and were not ready. The belief is that the “ready” virgins who went with the groom represent people who will be ready for the rapture before tribulation, and so are taken by Jesus Christ into heaven. The foolish five represent those not ready, and so are left behind.

Upon a reading of the whole passage, we can see that this parable doesn’t work for the pre-tribulation rapture model, because once the ready virgins were taken to the marriage feast, said Jesus, “…the door was shut” (verse 10). The door was not just shut for seven years, but shut permanently. The groom said to those left behind, now on the other side, “I do not know you” (verse 12). Here is a complete severance of those left behind by the groom: they were rejected forever.

In contrast, as demonstrated even in a certain series of successful books and movies based on a pre-tribulation rapture, Scripture says that there will be believers, or ”saints” on the earth during the tribulation, who will be resurrected if killed, or “gathered” by the angels when Christ returns to the earth:

Then the dragon was enraged at the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring–those who keep God’s commands and hold fast their testimony about Jesus (Revelation 12:17).

These saints clearly have not been rejected. Are these believers, who remain faithful to Jesus against the forces of evil, to be left out of the marriage supper? Are they not wedded to Christ? If not, how can they receive eternal life? Can they be saved and faithful followers of Jesus and yet not be a part of the bride of Christ?

This very final-sounding remark of the groom to the five virgins he leaves behind, “I do not know you” is reminiscent of the words of Jesus when he warned that those who don’t do his will are going to get a severe shock when they expect to enter the kingdom of heaven but can’t:

I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:22-23 ESV).

When the five virgins who were “ready” went with the groom to the wedding feast in Jesus’ parable, they were the last to go. Yet in the book of Revelation we find that the gospel is preached throughout the world even during the tribulation, and there will be many saints who “hold to the testimony of Jesus and obey his commandments”. The calling and gathering of believers in the day of the Lord will come when he sends out his angels to gather his elect, at the end of the tribulation. At the end of the virgins parable Jesus Christ again gives this warning:

Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” (Matthew 25:13).

If the five wise virgins going with the groom symbolize a pre-tribulation rapture, we Church-age and good rapture-candidate believers are presumably the “virgins” being told to be ready in this Olivet allegory. But the same warning to be ready was also given just after a description of Christ’s glorious return in power and glory, so that about that very day-the day of Christ’s physical appearing for all the world to see,  Jesus said:

But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son…” (Matthew 24:36).

The warning to be ready for the groom in the virgin parable matches the warning to be ready for the glorious, visible return of Christ.

Jesus continued from the above warning to be ready for his coming, reminding his disciples of the people who died in the Flood of Noah’s time (Matthew 24:37-39). He said:

Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming” (verse 42).

The Church is, indeed, the bride of Christ. But the teaching that Christ will take his bride home before the tribulation is unfounded. Even if we accept the claim that ancient Jewish marriage customs do foreshadow Christ’s coming for his Church, there’s still no Biblical basis to demand that this calling must be before the tribulation begins, unless we use circular reasoning. It’s the belief that tribulation events will be clearly seen from the start of a seven year period, which then claims that the groom will appear without warning. But as we’ve seen, Jesus even warned those around on the earth during the tribulation that he will come without warning.

REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY?

Remember that after five wise virgins were called by the groom to the marriage feast in Jesus’ parable, the door was shut and nobody else was allowed in to the wedding. Indeed, the groom, representing Christ, said to those outside, “I do not know you” (Matthew 25:12 ESV). If the Olivet Discourse is mainly for Jews, and the marriage rites are those for Jewish wedding ceremonies, why is it that, according to pre-tribulation thinking, the wedding supper is excluding the “elect” gathered by angels, and seen by pre-tibulation teachers as the Jewish remnant? Isn’t this some sort of replacement theology?

We aren’t left without other scripture to guide us on the subject of the wedding and wedding feast. Earlier in Matthew’s gospel we read a lengthy section in which Jesus addressed the chief priests and elders who hated him (Matthew 21:23). This discussion leads to the Parable of the Wedding Banquet (Matthew 22:1-14).The king, snubbed by those representing unbelieving Jews, proceeds to invites any who will come. Those who respond represent, of course, Gentiles. But there are also Jewish believers, which must include at the very least Christ’s original eleven, and all his followers of the first century including Paul: all who will “come”. There’s no separate arrangement for different groups of guests: there is one wedding for all.

Why is it that the “bride” of Christ in Revelation is generally considered to be the Gentile Church, but the Jewish remnant is not, when Jews were the first to be invited to the wedding? Why would we think that the Church would be present at Christ’s wedding but not the remnant, nor the “elect” who are gathered at the second coming of Christ?

As I wrote in chapter five of my book, pre-tribulation teachers have to say that most of the content of the Olivet Discourse is intended for a Jewish believing remnant who will be around during the tribulation while the Church is in heaven, because obviously those who would see the events of the tribulation which Jesus was describing could not have been taken in a pre-tribulation rapture. Yet it was during that same discourse and to those same believers that Jesus said the day and hour, while clearly coming, would be unknown:

Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door” (Matthew 24:33).

This “right at the door” phrase is evocative of the marriage custom, claimed by pre-tribulationists, of the groom coming to the door of the bride to take her with him, and it’s placed immediately before the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ to the whole world. The observers Jesus is addressing would have to first see “all these things” (verse 33). “These things” are the very things which pre-tribulationists tell us we in the Church cannot see.

Then Jesus said:

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36) and;

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Matthew 24:42).

*ALL LEFT BEHIND:THE CASE AGAINST THE PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE, by Nicholas Fisher, available on Amazon.

FAITH IN EVOLUTION

Billions of years ago the chloroplast evolved and enabled life on earth. Do you believe that? If you do, you have something called “faith”, because there is no evidence whatsoever that it evolved (note 1).

HAZE

Billions of years ago the first self-replicating living cell formed from non-life. Do you believe that? If you do, you have faith, because there is no evidence or record of it happening (note 2).

Billions of years ago, or thereabouts, the first enzymes-vital to life- were “invented” by happy chance. Do you believe that? If so, you have faith, because there is no record or evidence of it happening  (note 3).

Billions of years ago, our magnetosphere evolved, protecting life from the onslaught of the sun’s perpetual blast of plasma, or solar wind. At about the same time, give or take a billion or so years, the earth’s ionosphere evolved, protecting us from the sun’s life-destroying emission of UV and X-rays. Do you believe that? Your faith is truly amazing, because there’s no record of them evolving, or of why they would evolve (note 4).

The incredible “coincidences” of nature are endless. Stay tuned for some more in the future. Meanwhile, give a thought to the possibility (I really mean “fact”) that there is an intelligent creator.

NOTES (Previous posts where I have discussed these things, with references).

1: https://nickyfisher.com/2018/01/05/photosynthesis-fact-and-fiction/

2: https://nickyfisher.com/2016/07/22/the-must-haves-of-evolution/

3: https://nickyfisher.com/2019/06/22/the-managers-of-truth/

4: https://nickyfisher.com/2019/05/04/how-evolutionists-hide-meaning/

 

RAPTURE 14: THE ELECT

Who are the “elect” gathered by Jesus Christ and his angels, at the end of the tribulation?

August 2013 010

Here’s excerpt 14 from my book on the rapture. I’m sorry that this is a pretty long post again, so please scroll down the subtitles if you need to, to at least get the gist of it. I will, as promised, get around to the subject of the Bride of Christ very soon. Today’s post pertains to the Bride.

WHO ARE THE ELECT?

During his Olivet Discourse Jesus Christ said that in his future physical return for all the world to see, he will command angels to gather his “elect” from the “four winds”. This gathering of the elect, whoever they are, is generally recognized to be at the end of the Tribulation:

They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (Matthew 24: 30b-31).

THE PRE-TRIBULATION VIEW

So just who are the “elect” Jesus was speaking of? They’re being gathered at the end of the tribulation, so it’s a significant question, because if it’s the Church, then the rapture cannot be before the tribulation. Teachers who hold to the pre-tribulation rapture are adamant that the elect in this passage cannot be the Church, but instead are an elite band of Jews, chosen and anointed by God to evangelize the world during the Tribulation. Jesus was speaking to Jews at the time, they claim, and believers who were previously rapture-ready have already gone to heaven. So the “elect” Jesus referred to must be Jews, according to the prevailing view in the evangelical world.  But does this assertion stand up to close scrutiny?

My Zondervan ESV Study Bible here defines “elect” as “the people of God”, and my “Strongs” Concordance (see chapter 6 note 1 of my book) states that the Greek word translated “elect” most often means “chosen” or “chosen one”. It can also mean “election”; “choice”; “selection” or “chosen”. There is no other qualifying term used by Jesus.

Given these definitions alone, apart from a single individual being specifically chosen for something, the word used in the Olivet Discourse could possibly be referring to a specific group of believers such as a remnant of Jews, but it could also be speaking of believers in general, since all believers, whether Jew or Gentile, are “chosen”. So we aren’t any clearer on the matter than we were, except to say that the assertion that the “elect” spoken of in the Olivet Discourse is a Jewish remnant only, is an assumption at best. Perhaps we can gain some insight by looking at other uses of the word in the New Testament.

Paul certainly used the word “elect” to refer to a remnant of Jews, in Romans 11 verses 6 and 7. Does this confirm the pre-tribulation view? No, because there’s no indication in Romans chapter 11 that only Jews can be the “elect” or the benefactors of election: God can and does “choose” from all people groups and nations. Not only that, but the same Greek word translated “elect” is used to describe Gentile believers.

THE APOSTLE TO THE GENTILES

Paul wrote to Timothy:

I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory (2 Timothy 2:10).

Who was Paul referring to? Who was he calling the elect? If we read the context of the letter we see no direct reference to Jewish believers or a remnant of Jews. And who was Paul “enduring” for? Was it just for Jews? Paul himself gives us the answer in another letter:

For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles… “Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:1 and 8).

When Paul wrote to Timothy that he endured everything for the sake of the elect, he was in a Roman prison, and suffering, as he said himself, “for the sake of you Gentiles”. And we know, from the book of Acts, that Paul not only suffered as a result of how the Jews persecuted him, but how the unbelieving Gentiles treated him. In fact, when the Jews opposed Paul and became abusive:

He shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, ‘Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles’” (Acts 18:5-6).

In the book of Romans Paul was addressing Gentiles in the same passage which we noted above, when speaking about a remnant of Jews:

I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry (Romans 11:13).

Paul’s “enduring” message was echoed in his letter to the Colossians. This statement clarifies for us who he was enduring for:

Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24).

PAUL-SUFFERING FOR THE ELECT

Paul is speaking of suffering for the Church. So when Paul told Timothy that he endured everything for the sake of the elect, it seem pretty clear that he was speaking of the Church, and not simply a Jewish remnant. Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles. While he must have suffered for the sake of Jewish believers also, he stated plainly that he was suffering for the Church. It’s clear then that when he said he was “enduring” for the sake of the elect (2 Timothy 2:10) he saw the entire Church-Gentiles and Jews and not just a Jewish remnant, as the elect. The Church was and is the body of people who would become heirs of salvation through Jesus Christ, whether Jew or Gentile. They were and are the elect.

THE CHOSEN ARE THE ELECT

Further, the Greek word translated “elect” is at times translated “chosen” by some Bible versions. For example, in Romans chapter 8, the passage frequently used by Gentile Christians as encouragement that nothing can separate us from the love of God, the NIV tells us that Paul asks:

Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies” (Romans 8:33 NIV).

Most translations, such as the KJV, use the word “elect” in place of “chosen” in this verse. In this case, Paul’s encouragement which we regularly and rightly apply to ourselves, is directed to the elect. Therefore we Gentiles, along with Jewish believers; we members of Christ’s body, the Church, are the elect:

Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth” (KJV).

It would be a tough job indeed to convince a majority of Christian ministers and Bible teachers that Romans chapter 8 is only addressing a remnant of Jews and not Gentile saints. Therefore, Paul is calling the Church “God’s elect”.

To the Colossians, indisputably a predominantly Gentile church (1:27; 2:13) Paul wrote the following:

Put on, then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts…” (Colossians 3:12 ESV).

The Greek word Paul used here, translated “chosen” is the same as that translated “elect” in the Matthew 24 passage. It would be a mistake to miss the fact that the very same Greek word Jesus used to describe the angels gathering the elect from the four corners of the earth (Matthew 24:31) is used by Paul in the verse we looked at from Romans chapter 8. It’s also the same word used to describe the remnant in Romans 9:11 and 11:28, because the Jewish remnant is a part of that elect.

PETER AND THE ELECT

Peter’s first letter begins by addressing “God’s elect, strangers in the world, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia Cappadocia…” and so on. It would be easy to assume that Peter, a Jew, was addressing Jews in this letter, because Jews were scattered throughout the known world even then. But there are several clues to the contrary. For example, Peter wrote:

Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God (1 Peter 2:10 NIV).

The sacrifice of Jesus opened wide the door of inclusion of Gentiles into God’s kingdom. The people of God were scattered throughout the known world. Not only had these believers as Gentiles become people of God, but they had been “chosen”. Peter used the same Greek word to say this as the word Jesus used, translated “elect” in the Olivet Discourse:

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious… (1 Peter 2:4 ESV);

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession (1 Peter 2:9).

There is unity of application of this word. The elect includes not only a remnant of Jews, but all benefactors of God’s salvation, including Gentile Christians.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, the assertion that Jesus Christ in Matthew chapter 24 was speaking of Jews only when he referred to the gathering of the elect at the end of the Tribulation is unfounded. It’s an assumption built on other assumptions, including the conviction that the Church will be taken to heaven even before the Tribulation begins, and that the prophecies of Matthew chapter 24 are for Jews only. This is circular reasoning. Instead, Jesus can be just as confidently said to be speaking of the entirety of the elect: both Jewish and Gentile believers, the Church.

Certainly, many of the prophecies are direct warnings to Jews, particularly in relation to the destruction of the temple in 70 AD. But we must ask if the tribulation is going to affect Jews only. Is it not going to affect the entire world? Yes, it is, in which case, the verse about the angels gathering God’s elect from the four winds-literally from all over the world-can certainly apply to people other than Jews only.

People will come to salvation during the Tribulation (Revelation 14:6) and they will “hold to the testimony of Jesus”. The fullness of the Gentiles will not be completely grafted into the kingdom until Jesus appears to deliver Jerusalem (see part 13). So how can we arbitrarily put an end to the Church age before that?

Thanks for reading this long post. It’s an excerpt from my book “ALL LEFT BEHIND: THE CASE AGAINST THE PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE”, by Nicholas Fisher, available on Amazon. This post is actually an up-to-date edit. You’re getting a “second edition”, free, on this blog, and in time the entire book will be published here. Follow my blog to get notifications, or get the book to read the whole thing at once. 

TRUSTING IN MAN (OR WOMAN)

I can think of several people within my extended family who are trusting in man. By “man” I mean the philosophies of fallible human beings…

1200px-Auguste_Rodin_-_Grubleren_2005-02

One is well and truly brainwashed and controlled by a large international cult, so that she has avoided all contact with her family for years, including her own mother. She is, effectively, “gone”, though certainly not unreachable by God himself. The question is, since God has given us free will (right-I’m not a Calvinist) whether she will ever respond.

Another, a born-again Christian for decades, has been following one particular televangelist-a man with a very colored reputation and some very dubious theology for several years, to the point that she now considers him to be infallible, and pressures the rest of her family to do the same. She is, to put it in simple terms, obsessed with him, and has abandoned her local church and her Christian friends. Other family members are ardent followers of other famous televangelists, and refuse to question their wealth-gathering tactics or their banal, un-Biblical theology.

One man who I grew up with, representing perhaps several others in my family, is so convinced of the theory of evolution ex-nihilo that he will not listen to a single word about a loving God. He cannot point to any evidence for his beliefs but he’s immovable anyway.

As I look around at the world, I see literally millions led in their political and religious thought by celebrities, who are now among the high-priests of modern day philosophy, along with angry atheists and a host of other “ists”, whose one common profession is that the God of the Bible is the one which should be ridiculed or ignored completely.

More immediately, many of us have found ourselves on the receiving end of an unfaithful lover or spouse, having once believed them to be the “right” one.

As I wrote in a post titled “Ex-ing the Experts”* my own conviction is that we should question everyone and everything. Yes, we have a lot to learn from others, but no human is infallible, and many are without doubt biased, twisted, or just plain wrong. I’ve been on both sides of faith, and now, certain that the God of the Bible is the One true God and the only One who is true and faithful, I agree with His word and guidance, and His only:

This is what the LORD says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD (Jeremiah 17:5).

*EX-ING THE EXPERTS:

https://nickyfisher.com/2017/12/30/ex-ing-the-experts/

HOW TO BUILD A REAL AND LASTING YOU

Who’s read C.S.Lewis’ book, “The Great Divorce”? In this stimulating novel Lewis sees some people who make it to heaven as being brilliant, vibrant beings, shining as the sun. Others are portrayed as just feint wisps: dim, almost ghost-like forms-the difference being due to the way they had lived their lives on the earth…

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Please don’t mistake my message. I’m not speaking about a gospel of works here: salvation is by faith. However, rewards are conditional.

Socialist-minded readers will automatically recoil from the concept of “inequality” in celestial rewards, as in Lewis’ work. But like it or not, there is considerable Biblical basis for the idea that some will be greater than others in heaven. After all, Jesus said so himself. The parable of the talents is clear on this (Matthew chapter 25). And when it comes to how we act on God’s word or otherwise, Jesus said:

Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:19 NIV).

Perhaps the verse which inspired Lewis is this one:

…they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever (Daniel 12:3).

I’m convinced that Lewis was really onto something profound in his descriptions of post-human beings in heaven-something which we should, perhaps, consider much more than we do.

Have you ever looked at some people and seen them almost as shells only? They’re human, and they’re loved by God, but they have no depth of mind or character. They look only upon mundane, every-day things, like what they will eat for the next meal. There’s no depth of thought or concern for others, or for God, or for anything with any meaning or significance. In some ways they’re almost like animals.

How will God judge the simple and the shallow? Perhaps the first answer is “fairly”, because He’s the righteous judge. It’s not brains or knowledge which endears us to our Creator: He doesn’t look down on them like we do. It’s not material wealth or popularity, or great energy, or success, or imagination or wide experience of life, and it’s not our earthly achievements. What we drive and where we live doesn’t impress our God at all. And it’s not our humanity which God loves in us. After all, “The wicked are like chaff that the wind blows away” (Psalm 1:4). Those who displease God are of no lasting value.

The route to God’s heart, and to a “greater” you in eternal, lasting terms is through his word, as we read in the Matthew verse. If we consider it highly, and if we seek to live it out, we are then building our own eternal nature-what will remain when the ultimate trial comes, and what will live on for ever. Our faith in God is also of utmost concern to Him. Works born of true faith is what He’s looking for in us. This is what Jesus called “fruit”.

I’m not speaking here about human works. Only what is truly Godly can last through the fire of judgment, and human righteousness without our God is not acceptable to Him. It can’t be done without Jesus Christ. Neither do I subscribe to a common view in some areas of the Church that we can’t do anything-God does it all. That’s a cop-out and it’s not what Scripture says. It’s team-work, where we live in Christ, and we apply ourselves to what we know we must do, and He works in our efforts:

No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned (John 15:4-6).

It’s our Godly character-that which is living in Christ, which will live on. By growing in Him, what grows will be our real, lasting, eternal self: everything else about us will be gone.

 

 

 

RAPTURE 13: THE REAL END OF THE CHURCH AGE

Pre-tribulation teachers say that the Church’s purpose will be finished on the earth before Daniel’s “seventieth week”, also known as the Tribulation, begins, and that the focus of God’s plan will then once again be the remnant of Israel. Is this teaching clearly supported in the Bible?

File:Hortus Deliciarum, Das Gebäude der Kirche mit den Gläubigen.JPGHortus Deliciarum, Das Gebäude der Kirche mit den Gläubigen, by Herrad of Landsberg (1125-1195)

Last time I wrote a little about the Bride of Christ in relation to the rapture, and said that I will be getting into the subject of the Bride in more detail. But first I must cover other relevant detail concerning the Church of Jesus Christ.

WHEN WILL THE END OF THE CHURCH AGE BE?

The common understanding of the Church Age acknowledges that since the time of Jesus Christ, and specifically the Day of Pentecost until now, the world has been living in the “Church Age”. Pre-tribulation teachers insist that the Church Age will end before  the beginning of the tribulation, and that the consideration of any other possibility is almost heretical. The rapture will occur, and God will be finished with the Church on the earth. Jews will live through the trials of the “seven-year tribulation”, while the Church will be partying in heaven, enjoying the wedding supper of the Lamb. After this the Church, now the consummated Bride of Christ, will return to earth as a ferocious army to destroy the antichrist and his army. Is this all clearly stated in the Bible, or is it perhaps a hopeful patchwork of assumptions?

It certainly is true that Israel and the remnant of Jews will be the focal point of many activities in the tribulation, and that they are important to the fulfillment of much of Bible prophecy. There are numerous prophecies throughout the Bible indicating clearly that one objective of Antichrist will be the destruction of the state of Israel and its removal from Jerusalem, or its surrender of power over the city. Daniels “70 weeks” prophecy really does partly concern this. However, there’s no statement or obvious suggestion from Daniel’s prophecy or anywhere in the Old Testament that a multitude of Gentile believers will vanish from the world before the tribulation: the concept has to be read into such passages. New Testament scriptures used to show the same idea are very questionable. Neither Jesus Christ or Paul or Peter  mentioned anything about a seven year period of tribulation, or the disappearance of the Church before it.

THE FULLNESS OF THE GENTILES

As the scriptural hub of God’s plan during the tribulation will be Israel, does that automatically mean the predominantly Gentile Church has no place in the tribulation? Are Gentile believers really conspicuously missing en-mass from the last-days scene? Is it really all about Israel, or should we still consider Gentiles to be a concern of God at that time?

Paul wrote about the temporary setting aside of the people of Israel due to unbelief (Romans 9 to 11). This was begun during the first century. Jesus, overlooking Jerusalem, cried out:

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord’ ” (Luke 13:34-35).
Later, in his Olivet Discourse, Jesus predicted the destruction of the temple and the city, which occurred in 70 AD.

Paul likened Israel to the branches of an olive plant. Some of the branches -unbelieving Israel-had been “broken off” or rejected, so that “wild” branches, representing the Gentiles, could be “grafted in”. The grafting in of the wild Gentile branches has been in process for the last two thousand years. However, the rejection of Israel said Paul, was temporary:

Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of Gentiles has come in” (Romans 11:25).

At some point in the future, the people of Israel will no longer be hardened, and they will be restored, says Paul. This will happen “when the full number of Gentiles has come in”. This is a very significant clue normally overlooked or ignored.

Once again, pre-tribulation teachers use some circular reasoning here, by saying that since we “know” the rapture of the Church is before Daniel’s seventieth week, and since we “know” the Church is absent from the outworking of the prophesies of Revelation, we also “know” that the fullness of the Gentiles being come in; the process of grafting in Gentile branches to the root, will have been accomplished before the tribulation. This, they are sure, must be the end of the Church age, because the Church is said to be gone from Revelation, and only Israel and those late-comer “saints” are left behind. Is this all true?

First, please refer to my significant analysis of John’ s testimony in a previous post, in which I showed that the claim that the Church is absent from Revelation is not valid (posts “RAPTURE 8” and “RAPTURE 9”).  

Next, if we go back to the account of the multitude “who have come out of great tribulation”, which occurs after the sixth seal and before the final seven trumpet judgments (Revelation 7:9), we see an amazing fact. This multitude is: 

“…from every nation, tribe, people and language” (verse 9)!

They aren’t just a Jewish remnant. Also, we need to acknowledge that this great multitude, apparently from all ethnic and national groups and not just the Jewish race, having lived through at least some of the tribulation, has been saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ’s sacrificial death, just as we are saved now in our own time:

…they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (verse 14).

Since the fullness of the Gentiles being come in is contemporaneous with the end of the hardening of Israel, as stated by Paul in the verse above, a very pertinent question here would be, “When will the hardening of Israel end, according to Bible prophecy?” The answer to this question will more accurately mark the end of the “Church Age”, if indeed there is an end to it at all. The real answer is surprisingly accessible.

The prophesies of Zechariah give us a very clear picture of a last-days attack on the land of Israel and specifically Jerusalem, by the nations of the world. It’s when things look blackest for the Jews during the tribulation that their Messiah will, says God through Zechariah, make his appearance, and deliver the remnant. It’s at this time, and not before, that the people of Israel will receive an outpouring of the Spirit of God. They will realize just who their Deliverer is, and that they are guilty of his death on the cross:

On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem. And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child… (Zechariah 12: 9-10).

When Christ appears to destroy his enemies and the attackers of Israel, God himself will pour out his Spirit on the Jews, opening their eyes to the truth of the Son of God, who they “pierced” and have ignored as being a false prophet for two thousand years. His feet will touch down on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4). This event occurs at the end of the tribulation, at the time of the battle of Armageddon. The sequence of these events fits perfectly into New Testament accounts of the physical, visible return of Jesus Christ: He will come down from heaven, he will defeat his enemies, and his feet will touch down on the Mount of Olives.

Here is an unmistakable indicator as to the timing of the end of the hardening of Israel, and therefore to the real timing of the end of the Church age, if there is an end. Remember, Paul said:

Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of Gentiles has come in” (Romans 11:25).

The two go together.

As, then, the hardening of Israel ends at the visible return of Jesus Christ, which is at the end of the tribulation, how can we say that the full number of Gentiles being grafted in will end at least seven years before this event? How would those multitudes from all tribes and nations-predominantly Gentiles- come to saving faith, if the full number of Gentiles had already come in seven years earlier

Will there not still be Gentiles left on the earth during the tribulation? Of course there will. And will God not care any more about Gentiles in Daniel’s 70th week, or any part thereof? Of course he will: his son died for them. They will still have a chance to repent and become saints. How then can they not be a part of the Church? What else could they be a part of? Having willingly been persecuted for their faith and their testimony and for resisting the world, the flesh and the devil, are they now going to be excluded from union with Christ? Such a conclusion is unreasonable, unscriptural and hard-hearted, all for the sake of invoking an escape from trials which the rest of Christianity has not been provided through the last two thousand years.

We’ve already seen the gospel, called here the “eternal gospel”, being preached by an angel all over the world, and not just to Jews:

…he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth-to every nation, tribe, language and people” (Revelation 14:6-7).

The angel can’t be said to be preaching in some past time period, or only in the commonly prescribed “Church Age”, because it’s clear from the language and message of the immediate context that his ministry is during the tribulation, and he says himself:

Fear God and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment has come”.

The angel’s preaching is situated between the sealing of one hundred and forty-four thousand and a warning about the mark of the beast. It is not, therefore, before all tribulation events.

What would be the point in preaching the gospel to a world which God has already given up on? Those who may respond to the gospel at that time are contrasted with those who accept the “mark of the beast” (16:9).

Here is an unmistakable evidence to the effect that the full number of Gentiles has not yet come in at this late point of the tribulation, and will not be in until Jesus Christ appears to his Jewish remnant, causing their hearts to be softened. Jesus said to the Jews:

…you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”( Matthew 23:39).

Thanks for reading this long post. It’s an excerpt from my book “ALL LEFT BEHIND: THE CASE AGAINST THE PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE”, by Nicholas Fisher, available on Amazon. This post is actually an up-to-date edit. You’re getting a “second edition”, free, on this blog, and in time the entire book will be published here. Follow my blog to get notifications. Please find previous excerpts by typing in the search box. The most recent series is numbered, eg “Rapture 3”; “Rapture 4”, but you can probably enter a relevant search term such as  “The Wrath of God”.

HOW AMAZING IS GOD?

How amazing is God? Nobody this side of heaven knows for sure. But one thing we can know is that no created entity is more amazing than its creator…

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I halted the business of my day yesterday for just a few minutes-just long enough to look into the stunning blue sky, where brilliant cumulus clouds were suspended over the hillsides. Tall grasses and wild flowers of all colors swayed gently in the breeze. One or two birds, living life to the utmost of their ability, sang their vibrant, jubilant little song. And it struck me that what I was looking at, in all its overwhelming glory, just represented a fraction of its creator’s glory, beauty, power and imagination.

If you want to get a glimpse of how great God is, look at what he has made, and know that He is even greater.

DARK MANAGERS OF TRUTH

Evolutionists are selective about the terms they use. While telling us how incredible is the makeup and working of our world, they’re very careful to avoid the possibility of us thinking that there’s anything more to life than chance and matter. If you’re looking, you can see them at their work of hiding truth… 

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I’ve shared with you before a few of the insights I’ve gleaned from a radio documentary series, published by the BBC* Among its varied subject matter the Beeb’s science and evolution broadcasts are most illuminating, being not only  informative when it comes to real scientific facts, but also giving a surprisingly candid view of the attitudes and thinking processes of evolutionists. They unwittingly expose the incredible lack of evidence for core evolutionary theory.

In the latest program I enjoyed, I was first amazed by the diversity and importance of enzymes. Enzymes are molecules within all of life and the material world which allow vital chemical reactions to take place, and/or which speed them up to the point that life is possible on earth. Without these complex molecules, there could be no life. Therein is yet another of those many incredible conditions present in our world and our universe, which make life such an astounding miracle.

Secondly, I was amused when the host of the documentary made what turned out for him to be an embarrassing error. He made the mistake-that is, in the eyes of the learned panel of evolutionists-of suggesting that the entire make-up and abilities of enzymes sounded “intelligent”. This little slip cost poor Melvyn not a little face and diminishment in the eyes of his guests, who immediately dismissed his impertinent  outburst.

But the end of the podcast proved to be even more enlightening. Here, material not included in the original broadcast was tacked onto the end of the podcast I acquired, in which the panel believes that the show is over, and they can discuss more freely the subject matter and whether they want tea or coffee. In the extra time the host is, more politely, upbraided again for even mentioning the possibility of  intelligence in the discussion of enzymes, or of anything else.

One of the panel tells our host that the enzyme which makes possible the use of normally un-reactive carbon dioxide molecules to produce sugars and oxygen, was “invented once”. Who invented it, the listener might ask? It was invented, he said, by evolution. It was invented in bacteria, and then it was shared with other organisms. Of course, you can’t go to any museum to see a fossil or any record of this invention taking place, and you can’t get a video of natural processes inventing the enzyme, because it doesn’t happen now. It happened only “once” in the history of our world. But if the expert says that this invention was all down to evolution, it must be true, right? We have to have faith: faith that it happened, and faith that the evolutionist’s motives are totally sincere, his knowledge born of omniscience, and his conclusions faultless.

It may have happened hundreds of millions of years ago, before anyone was around to see it or to film it, and there may be absolutely no record of it happening, but we have to believe it, because the priests of the religion of our day-evolutionism-have pronounced it so. Natural processes did it, they say: not God.

How do they know that? The answer is that they don’t. They weren’t there, they have no record of it, and they can’t watch it happen naturally in the lab, because it doesn’t happen. But it “must” have happened, they tell us. Why? Because the only way to get rid of God is to invent another way for life to arise from nothing.

The expert went on to tell of another enzyme which takes nitrogen-an un-reactive element-out of the air and creates ammonia NH3, which fertilizes plants. As he said, its one of the most important chemicals in our world. Again, he said it was “invented once”, and only once, because the chemistry is “so difficult”. This invention was luckily passed on from bacteria into plants. Phew-lucky indeed!

The enzyme which causes water to release oxygen uses a process which, he said, “we still don’t understand”. This enzyme “was made once in the whole of earth’s history”. It got made “by chance, at the beginning”, he said.

Well, what a bit of luck eh? All those singular and indispensable inventions coming about on one planet! And to think that if any one of them had not occurred, we would not be here! Notice that the great god “Chance” created this enzyme, “at the beginning”. It sounds almost Biblical, except that it’s an insult to the real creator of all things.

Another evolutionist joined the conversation, eager to prevent Melvyn from using that nasty “intelligence” concept again:

“This is one thing that we’re always very ca.reful of when we’re talking in the public sphere, because this idea of intelligence is very seductive”. He said that he often talks about it with colleagues, but he said that they are “very careful not to use it in the public sense”. “We have to be very careful that we don’t go into intelligent design, because that’s nonsense”, he said.

Here is quite an admission, but “off mic”, so that we, the ignorant rabble who have no right to decide for ourselves how life came about, don’t get the wrong idea. He admitted that “When you think about them (enzymes) they are beautifully designed”, but he doesn’t want you or I to think that way, because then we might come to the conclusion that if there is beautiful design in all of nature… there must be a designer.

*IN OUR TIME: ENZYMES, hosted by Melvyn Bragg, BBC Radio 4.

 

RAPTURE 11: THE TWENTY-FOUR ELDERS

DO THE 24 ELDERS IN REVELATION CHAPTER FOUR DEPICT THE CHURCH HAVING BEEN RAPTURED BEFORE THE TRIBULATION? This is one of the questions I examine in chapter 7 of my book*

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(The Four and Twenty Elders Casting their Crowns before the Divine Throne, c. 1803–5. William Blake)

Chapter 7 of my book is entitled “Multitudes In Heaven”. It examines the major scenes we read throughout Revelation in which there are large numbers of people or angels gathered. Who are they, and what is their significance? I will just excerpt the most relevant sections of chapter 7 on this blog, the first excerpt being today’s post.

THE TWENTY-FOUR ELDERS

When John is called up into heaven after Jesus dictates to him seven letters to seven churches, he sees around the throne of God (among many amazing sights) twenty-four elders, all seated on thrones. Some pre-tribulation teachers believe that these elders represent the raptured Church, or the raptured Church plus important Old Testament figures. Because the elders are there in heaven with their white robes and crowns before any of the tribulation events are described, experts see this as evidence that there will be a pre-tribulation rapture, which John, they say, had just demonstrated for us by being called into heaven.

The elders sing of redemption (5:9-10) and the NIV translates certain words in their song to ‘they’ and ‘them’, suggesting the elders are referring to the redemption of others who are not present. Pre-tribulation teachers insist that these words ought to be translated ‘we’ and ‘us’, just as they are in the King James Version, meaning that the twenty-four are actually the people who’ve been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. In other words, the redemption the elders are singing of is their own, and that of the entire Church. This scene, say the experts, signifies that the Church will be in heaven before the tribulation, because it’s described before any of the tribulation events are described, and before any of the seals of the scroll are opened.

There can be no doubt that the elders do represent the Church, because angels are not redeemed, but humans are:

…for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” (5:9 KJV).

However, the observation that these elders are in heaven before the seals of the scroll are broken does not automatically prove a pre-tribulation rapture. To aid in a different way of interpreting this scene, we can ask if the seals, as they break, are setting in motion the real future events they foretell. Was John transported not only to heaven but forward in time, to witness real-time implementation of the judgments of the book? Or was he being given a prophecy; a fore-telling; a representation of the events yet to come? Was he seeing a picture; a vision of the future, rather than the real thing?

My first observation in answer to this is to recall that John had to see the entire sequence of Revelation events, or he would not be able to relate them to us. There would be no point in him being taken into heaven mid-way through the Revelation events, if it was his job to relay it all to us: he would only know half of the story, as would we. And without meaning to take this point to the absurd extreme, there would be no point in him being taken to heaven at the end of all the events for the same reason. He had to see the whole thing. The reason John was taken to heaven before any of the seals are seen to be broken is that he had to witness all the events Jesus wants us to know about.

Next, notice that when John arrives in heaven and surveys the scene, the elders are already there and settled in. They didn’t arrive at the same time as John in his ‘rapture’ (chapter 4 verses 4 and 9 to 11). Therefore, if the rapture takes all believers, living and resurrected, why did John arrive late for the party? Why are the twenty-four already sitting there like they belong, while he’s only just arrived and wondering what it’s all about? Why isn’t the entire raptured Church there, instead of just a small representation? Isn’t Jesus “the disciple whom Jesus loved”? Then why isn’t he one of the twenty-four elders? Why isn’t he sitting there on one of the thrones with a white robe and a crown on his head? Why doesn’t he say, “Oh, Hi Peter! Hi Thomas! Hello Paul-good to see you! Oh look-there’s me over there!

And why didn’t any one of the twenty-four say to John “Hey John-it’s great to see you-we’ve been waiting for you!”

The twenty-four elders are not only settled in, but they already know everything about what’s going on and proceed to tell John (5:5; 7:13-21). This seems strange since John was an original member of the Church, and one of Jesus’ twelve disciples. But on the scene he isn’t even invited to take his place with them. Surely, there should have been twenty-three elders and one empty chair for John?

The answers to all of these questions must be that these elders John sees are not the literal Church or literal Church founders or apostles, they only represent them. It isn’t literally Peter and all the others of Jesus’s inner circle sitting there. John has not traveled forward in time to see the actual, live, real-time events of the tribulation. Instead he’s watching something like an informative, inspirational documentary; a staged vision which represents the most significant aspects of the tribulation.

On top of that, The prophecies of Revelation are not all in chronological order from chapter 5 up to the end: they’re told and re-told. The story is told in some detail, then we’re taken back to see some different detail.  Some of the events and scenes and characters of the Revelation are not just of tribulation events, but they span the entire history of mankind. For example, consider the Harlot: Mystery Babylon. She’s been “riding the beast” of human history. She’s been an integral companion to the kingdoms of the world all the way along.

Some prophecies in Revelation speak of the past, and some of the future: they’re  not all events of a seven-year period. Therefore it’s not necessary to conclude that the representatives of the redeemed in heaven are, by their presence, foretelling a pre-tribulation rapture. The fact that the twenty-four only represent the Church, and that the entire Church does not seem to be present, must be significant. Why would only twenty-four Church members sing of their redemption, if the entire Church is there? Why do only twenty-four represent the Church in this scene, if all are there? Shouldn’t they all be described as being one body at this point, if the entire Church has been raptured?

Moreover, the fact that the Church is not mentioned by name in heaven is very significant evidence against the pre-tribulationist’s claim that the Church is not mentioned as being on earth in tribulation passages of Revelation. The Church is no more “mentioned” by name in heaven than it is on the earth. 

It seems most likely that this scene is speaking of the status of the Church in a history-wide sense, and of the future authority the Church will have when they reign with Christ.

*My book, “ALL LEFT BEHIND: THE CASE AGAINST THE PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE”, by NICK FISHER, is available in paperback and electronic form on Amazon.

THE RAPTURE: A SUMMARY SO FAR

At some time in the future a lot of Christians are going to wake up to a very serious reality: the preachers of the pre-tribulation rapture theory were horribly wrong…

Rays Of Light Coming Through The Clouds And Over The Mountains And ...

I’ve been excerpting my book on the rapture. But it may have been all too much for some of you, and if I’ve been far too long-winded, I apologize. This summary- a summary of  excerpts from my book published on this blog-assumes that the reader has some knowledge of the issues involved. The book gives a more complete picture* as do the excerpts.

WRATH

When Paul  wrote that we are “not appointed to wrath” in his first letter to the Thessalonians, he was not speaking of a pre-tribulation rapture, but contrasting salvation with the judgment of the wicked, who were and are “the children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:1-3).

Christians have been persecuted all through the centuries, including this one, but were not under God’s wrath.Get Free Stock Photos of Lightbulb with idea concept icon Online ...

The manifest wrath of God will not fall on day one of a seven year period. In Revelation the kings of the earth only acknowledge that the day of God’s wrath has come upon the opening of the sixth seal (Revelation 6:15-17).

If the four horsemen of the apocalypse are considered as an outpouring of God’s wrath at the beginning of a seven year period, this is in conflict with the view of Antichrist being a peacemaker, since the Four will take peace from the earth.

According to Paul, The Day of the Lord cannot begin until Antichrist is revealed, which will not be until three and a half years before the physical return of Christ, not seven (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4;  Revelation 13:5).

CLEAR STATEMENTS IN SCRIPTURE

The saints who are persecuted in Revelation are “blessed”. They are not cursed and are not said to have been “left behind” (Revelation 14:12-13).

Paul told the Thessalonians that they will receive reward and relief from persecution “when Christ is revealed in blazing fire”, not before (2 Thessalonians 1:6-10). This is a clear statement of the timing of the rapture, ignored by the “experts”.Get Free Stock Photos of Lightbulb with idea concept icon Online ...IS JESUS A THIEF?

Jesus’ coming like a thief relates to judgment, not rapture (Revelation 3:3).

It is “the Day of the Lord” which will come like a thief, not the rapture (1 Thessalonians 5:2; 2 Peter 3:10).

Jesus’ coming will be like a thief, but Jesus is not a thief. He will not “steal” his Church. He will bring judgment suddenly and without warning, just as a thief does.

THE HOLY SPIRIT

There is no statement in Scripture saying that the Holy Spirit will be taken to heaven with the Church: it’s an assumption. The Spirit does not have to be taken to heaven in order to allow Antichrist to be revealed.

Antichrist will not be revealed until three and a half years before the end of the tribulation. Therefore, the Holy Spirit will not be “taken out of the way” until that time. With pre-tribulation reasoning that the Church will go to heaven with the Holy Spirit, this fact moves the date of the rapture to the mid point of the proposed seven year period, not the beginning of it.

The gospel will be preached during the tribulation, and there will be “saints”, but t isn’t possible for people to be saved apart from the  Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:14).

Why would God leave tribulation saints behind to fend for themselves against persecution? How could they stand firm in the faith without the Ho(y Spirit?Get Free Stock Photos of Lightbulb with idea concept icon Online ...IMMINENCE

The doctrine of imminence cannot be applied to a pre-tribulation rapture, because Jesus declared that even those who see the tribulation events will not know the day or the hour of his coming (Matthew 24:28-36).

If the tribulation saints were to see or know that the rapture had occurred, they would know which day and hour it happened, and so be able to calculate (by pre-tribulation reckoning) exactly when Jesus would return. But he has said that they will not know. This is yet another strike against pre-tribulation theory.

SEVEN YEARS?

Jesus, speaking about the signs of his coming, did not mention a seven-year period, and did not mention a “peace treaty”. The first signs Paul and Jesus gave to look out for were a falling away from the faith and the “abomination of desolation”.

REVELATION AND THE CHURCH

The word “church” is not even used to describe anyone in heaven during tribulation events.  Therefore the claim of pre-tribulation teachers that the Church is not mentioned in tribulation chapters of Revelation is of no value.

The same chapters contain no mention of any gatherings of tribulation saints on earth, or of the Jewish remnant. This also discounts the use of the lack of the word “church” in the same chapters.

The entire Revelation-including the tribulation chapters-is given “for the churches” (Revelation 22:16). The prophecies are all to be known by the churches. Why do the churches need this information if they will not be present on the earth? Why do preachers talk so much about the end times if we will not be here?

Tribulation saints are referred to as “those who hold  to the testimony of Jesus” (Revelation 12:16; 17:6).  However, John, a first-century. born-again, Spirit-filled Christian being persecuted for his faith, described himself in exactly the same way, and the angel speaking to him described John and his contemporaries with exactly the same words (Revelation 1:9; 19:10). John commonly used the word “testimony” in his writings to first century believers. Tribulation saints will be no different to us. They may even be us.Get Free Stock Photos of Lightbulb with idea concept icon Online ...JOHN’S RAPTURE/ SAINTS

John’s calling into heaven in Revelation cannot rightly be seen as a type of the rapture, because he came back to earth as a mortal and died. John had to see all the events prophesied in order to report them, which is the reason why he went to heaven at the start of them.

Those martyred over all the centuries by the Harlot are described as “those who hold to the testimony of Jesus”. Therefore tribulation saints, described in the same terms, are no different to us. They may be us.

The word translated “saints” to describe believers in tribulation chapters is the same word translated “saints” throughout the New Testament.

SAINTS AND REMNANT

The tribulation saints “obey God’s commandments”, a fact which some have used to suggest that they are the Jewish remnant and not the Church. However, John wrote in his letters to first century born-again Christians that they were to obey God’s commandments (1 John 2:3).

The saints of Revelation cannot be simply the Jewish remnant, because both groups are seen to be separate and distinct (Revelation 12:14).

*Stay tuned for more excerpts. My book, “All Left Behind:The Case Against the Pre-Tribulation Rapture”, by Nick Fisher, is available in paperback and electronic form on Amazon:

 

 

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YOUR TRUTH, MY TRUTH

A good Christian friend of mine posted on Facebook some thoughts about the nature of truth, and immediately received a negative response. “Your truth is your truth, and mine is mine”, was the thrust of the response, a very common view. I’ve written a lot about the nature of truth, and it almost seems like a tired old topic now. But there’s an incurable conflict here, ever-present in our culture and our daily lives.

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The conflict, if we’re all honest with ourselves and each other, really boils down to the fact that some people want to follow the ways of God and some don’t. The ones who are keen to dismiss the whole concept that there is any absolute truth do so because they want truth to be fluid, bendable and changeable, in order to feel free to do what they think they should be able to do without feeling guilty, and in order to purge the Christian God from our world. They don’t want to think that there might be any supreme authority which might cramp their style or that of their favorite people. It’s like the man or the woman (sorry those in the middle) who tells his or her mate or lover that he thinks they should have an “open relationship”. This little warm-sounding euphemism is really an excuse not to be faithful and not to be committed. It’s not love, it’s selfishness.

Granted, we can argue or discuss what any absolute truth might entail, and where it might emanate from. But I can tell you one thing: without God at the center of our culture, government will inevitably become God. It will be the ultimate authority. It will dictate what is right and what is wrong; what you can and cannot do; where you can and cannot go; how long you should live; what your value is; what you can have and what you must part with, and so on. And anyone living with the thought that we can hold government accountable and shape it to our own will is living in a dream world-a false utopia which history proves over and over again cannot ever be.

Who would decide what this God has said in regard to truth? That’s a good rhetorical question. I don’t want any of the known religious organizations of the world telling me what God has said: I don’t trust any of them. The beauty of the Establishment clause in the US constitution is that it hands freedom of religious thought, and even freedom from it, to the people. Yes, the clause says that government must not establish a religion, but it also states that government cannot prevent the free exercise of religion-the part of the clause which is always ignored by secularists. Therein is balance and freedom.

God, from the start, from the beginning, has given us the dignity of free will, and the dignity to seek him by our own choice and not coercion, in contrast to the dictates of one or two world religions we could name. However, there are certain principle and laws at work in our universe which are undeniably fixed and unchangeable. If our planet did not follow the laws of space-time and gravity in its fixed orbit around the sun, there would be no life. And it seems obvious to me that the God who has established fixed laws to govern the universe and all of nature, would also have fixed ideas of truth, and of what’s right or wrong. I’m convinced that the Bible is our guide book for life. It contains our Creator’s expression of Truth for us to live by.

Most of the peoples of the world have a commonly-held set of ethics and beliefs to live by. It’s only in the West that absolute and universal truths are being rejected, a phenomenon which the Bible calls “lawlessness” and “sin”. The West cannot survive without those fixed principles, a fact known by some who are at work internally to bring the West down. To them, the West and its Judaeo-Christian roots and values must be destroyed. The West of D-Day was for the most part united with shared truths and beliefs and principles. By demolishing Truth, and inviting a flood of “truths”, we are not fostering unity, but division and decay.

BLOGGING FOR HEALTH

People have different motivations for writing a blog, but for me one of the best reasons is in its similarity to keeping a journal…

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In a journal, if we have the time for such a luxury, we record, we examine, we condense and clarify our thinking on life and on our view of our world. So in a blog. We have the opportunity not only to share our thoughts, but (and I hope I’m not exposing myself as being overly narcissistic or introspective here) we’re able to transport to the forefront of our minds and to organize many of those things lurking around in our sub-conscious.

There they are, sometimes like festering garbage to be thrown out; sometimes un-used tools or piles of unwashed clothes, languishing in the no-man’s land of our brain and soul, needing to be organized and focused or rejected, and needing to be put to use as functional and refined ideas and conclusions. Then we can move forward in our lives, and perhaps help others to do the same.

RAPTURE 10: THE SAINTS OF REVELATION

We read in Revelation chapters four to twenty-one about “saints” being persecuted by Antichrist, the harlot, the dragon, and unbelievers. The important question is: who are these saints? 

File:B Osma 117v.jpg(“La Femme et la Dragon” by Martinus, 1086)

“This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus” (Revelation 14:12).

Welcome to part 10 of my latest series on the rapture* In part 9 I showed plainly that John and his contemporaries were regarded as “Those who hold to the testimony of Jesus”, just as saints in the tribulation will be. I also discussed reasons why the word “church” is not found after chapter 3 of Revelation. You can find each part of the series in the search box, for example, Rapture 4, or by using key words such as “imminence”.

THOSE WHO OBEY GOD’S COMMANDMENTS.

Pre-tribulation doctrine implies or states that the tribulation saints found in Revelation are a Jewish remnant, partly because they “obey the commandments”. It’s Jews who have to worry about commandments, says this view, while we “Church-age” believers are saved by faith. Therefore, goes the logic, the saints of Revelation are not Church-age saints, and the Church is clearly not around at that time. However, while we are indeed saved by faith, other words penned by John pop that bubble of misinterpretation. Jesus, in John’s gospel account, told his disciples that if they really loved him they would keep his commandments (John 13:34; 14:15; 15:10). And when John wrote his epistles, he clearly saw the keeping of God’s commandments as paramount:

“We know we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, “I know him”, but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 John 2:3 NIV).

If we keep His commands we are demonstrating that we really have faith and really love Him.

Pre-tribulationists claim that the “saints who hold to the testimony of Jesus” aren’t Church-age believers, because we “know” the Church will be raptured before the tribulation. This, again, is circular reasoning. Instead, says PT reasoning, these saints must be some other form of saint, perhaps specially anointed Messianic Jews, or Gentile believers saved after the rapture. However, the same Greek word translated “saints” is used throughout the New Testament, and it doesn’t change after Revelation chapter 3. Saints are saints. Not only that, but the tribulation saints are “faithful to Jesus” (Revelation 14:12). How can they not be Christians? Alright, they aren’t called “Christians” by John, but then, John did not use the term “Christians” anywhere else in Revelation, including Christ’s letters to the churches (and neither did Jesus or the angel) or in his epistles, or in his gospel. Neither did he use the word “believers” anywhere, except once in his gospel.

The word “saints” is, however, used many times throughout the New Testament for Church-age believers, for example:

Paul…to all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi… (Philippians 1:1-2);

On the authority of the chief priests I put many of the saints(not the churches) ”… in prison, and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them” (Acts 26:10);

As Peter traveled about the country, he went to visit the saints in Lydda” (Acts 9:32). Notice Luke did not say that Peter “went to visit the church in Lydda”.

Antichrist will make war against “saints”, and not “churches”, because his design is not just to eradicate organized gatherings, but to wipe out believers completely:

He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them… This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints” (Revelation 13: 7a and 10b).

THE BLOOD OF THE SAINTS

Famous “last days” prophecy teachers speak and write about the “Mother of Prostitutes” of Revelation chapter 17 as though this “Harlot” had been killing saints over the two millennia since Jesus was on earth. Notice that she had been killing “saints” and not “churches”. The Harlot in the form of the corrupt church and false religion has persecuted saints down through history, say the experts. Alright, if this is true, and it is, then the “saints” killed by the Harlot over the centuries are regular Church-age believers, are they not? So what makes them any different from the “saints” mentioned in other places in Revelation, such as those who are called to patiently endure, in 14:12?

If we take the quote at the top of this post from Revelation chapter fourteen in its component parts, we can see that God’s people of all ages are no different to those being persecuted during the tribulation. There is no reason not to assume that we also are, or should be, those who patiently endure, who are saints, who obey God’s commandments, and who remain faithful to Jesus. The tribulation saints are not another breed of saints who are left behind by a rapture, but are the body of believers who happen to be alive at that time.

THE SAINTS ARE NOT THE JEWISH REMNANT OR ISRAEL

If we assume the normal evangelical view of end-times prophecy in an analysis of Revelation chapter 12, we find an interesting separation. When the dragon-Satan-is hurled to the earth from heaven, and knows that his time is short, we see that he immediately pursues “the woman” described at the beginning of the chapter. This woman is usually identified in evangelical circles as the nation of Israel, or the remnant, and I would agree with that interpretation. Verse 14 tells us that the woman is somehow transported to a place in the desert (this may just be figurative language) and miraculously protected. Then, once the dragon sees that his plan to destroy the woman is thwarted, we’re told that he turns on “the rest of her offspring-those who obey Gods commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (verse 17). So the question needs to be asked: since the woman-considered to be the Jewish remnant- is being protected in a specific location, who are these other believers who the dragon turns on?

Consider the “great multitude” from every nation, tribe, people and language standing in front of God’s throne (7:9). They’re normally believed to be people saved during the tribulation as the result if the witness of the 144,000, but one of the elders present in front of the throne gives us a different answer:

These are they who have come out of great tribulation…” (7:14).

…out of great tribulation…” Does this perhaps mean that they somehow avoided great tribulation and were raptured, or does it mean that they were right in the middle of it, being assaulted by the dragon and all his human minions? Could they not be “those who hold to the testimony of Jesus”, who the dragon turned on after failing to destroy the remnant of Israel? Could they be those mentioned in chapter 6, killed “because of the testimony they had maintained”, matching those who “held to the testimony of Jesus” and were attacked by the dragon? They are given white robes to wear-probably very much like the white robes worn by those around the throne in chapter 7. In any case, it seems that the remnant of Israel and “those who hold to the testimony of Jesus” are two distinct groups of people.

Also relevant to our study is that the scene in heaven, whether the martyrs under God’s throne in chapter 6, or the multitude in front of it in chapter 7, is actually after the fifth and sixth seals respectively. This is not a period of time before the tribulation: it’s immediately before the seventh seal, which entails very severe trumpet judgments (chapter 8). Even if those around the throne in chapter seven are rapturees and not martyrs, there’s no indication that the rapture happens before the first five or six “seal” tribulation events.

*Thanks for reading excerpt 10 of my book, “All Left Behind: The Case Against the Pre-Tribulation Rapture”. It’s available on Amazon in paperback or electronic form. However, the whole thing, re-edited (and easier to read) will eventually appear here, completely free. My older blog posts on the subject are not so complete. Part 11 will appear soon.

ORIGINS: OF MICE AND MEN

Isn’t it amazing what people believe? In fact, they’ll believe whatever they want to believe…

A high school science teacher recently told my son and the rest of her class that she believes in creation, but that there’s abundant proof we all evolved. This deft little move of logic (irony) denies both Biblical and Darwinian explanations for origins. She also told the class that we evolved from mice. Isn’t “science” awesome! And she is teaching the kids? They should be teaching her-they would do a far better job.File:Мышь 2.jpgMy older son’s science teacher first told his class, at the beginning of the year, that there is no God, but by the end of it was instructing the kids on how to meditate and become good Buddhists. Great science lessons guys!

Why was a science teacher presuming to rob a class of students of their faith, and to push another onto them, and what scientific evidence could he possibly produce that there is no God? Of course, he had no such evidence, but then, that’s the nature of education and the spirit of our age. That’s what your tax dollars are paying for.

David Attenborough, whose works for television I’ve greatly enjoyed over the years, really does let himself down in what he preaches, as he did when he declared that we humans evolved from lemurs. Such claims are no more logical or scientific than ancient Assyrian stories of fish-people from an “ocean under the ocean” coming to mingle with humans. There’s probably more evidence in favor of the fish people than there is that we were once mice or lemurs. Have you seen a series of fossils of mice or lemurs turning into humans? Neither have I.

Why do people choose to believe such fairy stories, and then try to force their beliefs onto the rest of us, and our kids-their captive audience? And no, I don’t feel bad for turning the words of unbelievers back onto them, because they are the ones on the attack in our age.

Paul wrote:

…what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse (from Romans chapter 1).

Our view of God and of reality is shaped by what we want to believe. This applies to the atheist just as much as it applies to the Bible-believing Christian. The evolutionist eagerly accepts the concept of evolution and then goes about trying to find evidence for his faith, and to win converts to his religion. He makes the choice that he doesn’t want to know if there is a God, and that he doesn’t want to seek Him. Similarly, people choose their religion, their politics, their philosophy and their code of ethics based on what their preference is; what turns them on; what fulfills their idea of a meaningful life, and perhaps more importantly, what will enable them and empower them to live the life they want to live.

Jesus put it this way:

“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil…whoever lives by the truth comes into the light” (John 3:16-21).

As is the will of God, it isn’t great intellect or knowledge which brings us to Him, it’s a willingness in our hearts to respond to his calling, and to know Him because we love Him and what He stands for. It’s a humble acknowledgment that what we see all around us did not form itself from nothing, and that we never were mice or lemurs at all.

 

RAPTURE 9: JOHN’S TESTIMONY CONTINUED

Are Christian believers really going to be raptured before the troubles of the tribulation begin? That was my conviction for twenty-eight years, until I was of the mind to check if what I had believed was actually true. Here is the ninth installment of my own findings on the subject*. If you missed the first eight, you can locate them easily in the search box. This current series is numbered as above, for example, “Rapture 3”.

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THE SAINTS WHO BORE TESTIMONY TO JESUS

If it’s true that the Church is nowhere to be found on earth in the prophesies of Revelation, just who are “those who hold to the testimony of Jesus”, being persecuted by Satan and Antichrist in those chapters (Revelation 12:12; 14:12; 20:4)? People killed by the Antichrist are identified by John as “those who bore testimony to Jesus” (Revelation 12:17). And it’s important to see that this phrase is not reserved in Revelation for those being persecuted during the tribulation. The same term is also applied to the people who are commonly identified by pre-tribulation experts of today, and others, as the saints of all of Church history who have been killed by the Harlot. They were

“…those who bore testimony to Jesus (17:6).

I’ll discuss this evidence a little more next time, under the subtitle “The Blood of the Saints”

The term is even applied to John and his companions-who were first century Church-age Christians-by the angel relaying the Revelation:

I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus(19:10).

Let that sink in. Let that sink in because it’s very important. John and his brothers in the first century were described in the same words as those who will be living through the tribulation, as are those who will be persecuted by the Beast.

John, a first century, Church-age believer, also applied the term to himself at the beginning of the book, and related it to the suffering of his own persecution:

I John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the testimony of Jesus(Revelation 1:9).

Here is clear evidence of an undeniable oneness between all believers of the real Church age-including the tribulation: between all who “hold to the testimony of Jesus”. There are no second-class believers consigned to be “left behind” for the tribulation.

Similarly, John spoke of the tribulation saints “who obey God’s commandments” (Revelation 12:17 and 14:12). It’s no good describing this as a reference to law-abiding Jews or Messianic Jews as some prophecy teachers want to (though it may relate to them also) because in John’s letters-to first century Church-age believers, he used the same Greek word when writing about the importance of obeying God’s commandments (1 John 2:3-4; 1 John 3:22-24; 1 John 5:2-3; 2 John 1:5-6). True Christians of John’s century were those who obeyed God’s commandments, just as the tribulation saints will obey God’s commandments. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

WHY ARE THERE NO CHURCHES IN REVELATION 4 ONWARD?

We’re told that the Church is nowhere mentioned in the prophecies of the tribulation, and so therefore it must be absent from the world at that time. Note again, however, that the words “Church” and “churches” are not mentioned in any heavenly scenes in Revelation either, until after the tribulation. If the Church is in heaven at this time, why is it not explicitly mentioned as the “Church”?

When you read chapters 1 to 3 of Revelation you find that the word “Church” is not used in a universal sense even in those letters addressed to first-century churches. The word “church” is only used to speak of individual churches, and for the gatherings receiving letters from Jesus. So the word “Church” in its universal sense is absent from all of Revelation including the first three chapters, not just from chapter 4 on. 

The word “church” in a local sense speaks of organized gatherings of believers. Strong’s concordance defines the word translated “church” thus:

…church, congregation, assembly, a group of people gathered”).

It’s possible, considering that the prophesies of the tribulation in Revelation speak of a time of persecution of Christians, that the word “church” is absent from chapters 4 to 21 because there will be no churches. There will be no open gatherings: they will be outlawed. There may be some secret gatherings, but they will be at the risk of discovery by the anti-Christian task forces and world citizens eager to fulfill the will of Antichrist. They may even be outlawed before the tribulation, considering the direction of the “free” world at this present time.

One evidence of this from scripture is that while there will be “saints who bare testimony to Jesus” during the tribulation and the reign of Antichrist, there’s no mention of any gatherings of those saints! This alone is a significant fact. Since there will be believers, is it not powerful evidence that there is no mention of their gatherings? Similarly, while we believe that there will be a remnant of Jews, there’s not even a mention in Revelation of synagogues, but only a reference to the Jerusalem temple. This shows that either there will be no open gatherings, or that they are simply not mentioned by John or those dictating to him. This, then, easily explains why “churches” are not mentioned during the prophecies! Whatever reason there is that gatherings of “saints” or Jews in the tribulation are non-existent in Revelation after chapter 3 is the same answer to the question of why churches are absent. Instead of churches, or open gatherings of saints, there will be individuals, struggling to survive in an increasingly hostile world where they cannot congregate because of persecution and opposition.

Moreover, it’s never mentioned by the prophecy “experts” of today that John did not use the words “Church” or “churches” at all in his first or second epistles, or in his gospel, even though they were written to Christians of his day. When he did write the word “churches” he was referring to an organized gathering.

This is the same definition of “church” used by Paul and others. For example, when referring to groups of believers Paul did not always use the word “churches”. On this occasion he did:

Paul… and all the brothers with me , to the churches in Galatia” (Galatians 1:1-2).

However, Paul used the term “saints”-the word used for those who hold to the testimony of Jesus in Revelation- for individual believers, and complimented it or contrasted it with the term “churches”. In this way he was making a distinction between gatherings of believers and individuals:

To the church in Corinth…together with all the saints throughout Achaia” (2 Corinthians 1:1).

There was a “church” in Corinth, but there were “saints” throughout all Achaia.

Paul used the term “saints” many times for individual believers, which substituted nicely for the word “church”, which he didn’t use at all in this example:

To the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:1).

He also used the word “believers” at times, in place of “church”:

“…let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Galatians 6:10).

*This post is an excerpt from my book “All Left Behind: The Case Against the Pre-Tribulation Rapture”, available from Amazon in paperback and electronic form. The entire book, edited and improved, will eventually be excerpted here on this blog.

DARWINITY

We all know that evolutionists, including those in the Church, trash the first eleven chapters of Genesis, or claim that “it doesn’t really mean what it says”, or that we need the direction of hyper-intellectuals; people who know more than the rest of us, to tell us what’s true and what isn’t…

In this case Hyperman-the elite believer who knows more than God does- has become “god” and the high priest of Truth, while the rest of us-the ignorant rabble-must bow and scrape to his eminence. You can count me out. But these Christo-evolutionists also have to deal with numerous other Bible passages, slashing and chopping away at the word of God and replacing it with their own. For example, in Exodus we find these words:
“Six days you will labor and do all your work, but the seventh is a Sabbath to the Lord your God…for in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day”(Exodus 20:8-11).
The Psalms carry the same message::
“By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth…let all the people of the world revere him, for he spoke and it came to be” (Psalm 33:6-9).
Jesus, who some of these purveyors of “facts” are hoping will “put in a good word with the man upstairs” for them, frequently quoted the books of Moses, which include Genesis and Exodus. On the road to Emmaus:
“…beginning with Moses and all the prophets he explained to them what was said in all the scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).
Jesus referred to the creation, in a way that echoes Genesis:
“Haven’t you read…that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female…?” (Matthew 19:4).
He also said:
“If you believed Moses you would have believed me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?” (John 5:45-47).
So when these self-appointed “experts” attempting to take over the Church begin to alter and diminish the message passed down to us via the blood of the martyrs, they are, for themselves and for those who pay attention to them, putting concepts such as sin, salvation and eternal life on a very slippery slope of non-relevance and misinterpretation.

It’s a huge mistake to put the teachings of man on a pedestal and then attempt to shape our interpretation of scripture to that. After all, most evolutionists don’t even believe that there is a God. If they are so “right”, perhaps we should all be atheists? No, in our search for the God of Scripture we have to be independent, and to actually believe that God is able to tell the truth and to say what he means.

FISH(The Darwin Fish, copyright © Nick Fisher)

DARWINITY
Why just snip at the Bible? Why not just write your own “holy book”, minus the miracles? How can you select what you decide is true and throw away the rest, as though it were any cheap old rag you’re preparing to publish? Why not just be up front about your beliefs, or lack of them, and start your own religion? You could call it “Darwinity”.
There are so many ways that truth is being thrown to the ground in our time, but none are more significant than the huge effort to convince people-particularly our children-that they evolved from rock, along with the slugs and the worms. But Jesus Christ said “At the beginning, God made them male and female”, just as the book of Genesis tells us.

RAPTURE 8: JOHN’S TESTIMONY

Welcome to this excerpt of my book on the rapture*. I want to reiterate that I am not a-millennial in my views, and I do not go along with any replacement theology. I was zealously pre-tribulational for twenty-eight years, until my eyes were opened to reality…

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The apostle John’s life was greatly blessed in many ways. And though he was, during his later life, exiled to a small island as a form of persecution, even there God blessed him enormously with the privilege of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, recorded in the last book of our Bible. As John is the one who was given the Revelation, and “the one who Jesus loved”; who wrote one of the four gospels and some incredible letters too, it seems obvious that we ought to be able to glean some clues as to the timing of the rapture from his writings. These notes are updated from previous blog posts on the subject.

IS THE CHURCH MISSING FROM REVELATION CHAPTER 4 ONWARD?

The first three chapters of Revelation contain letters to seven churches from the risen, glorified Jesus Christ. They’re initially addressed to seven individual first-century churches, but many pre-tribulation teachers and believers see these letters as also relating to later ages of the universal Church, so that one way or another they encompass the entire “Church Age”, which they say is from Pentecost to the rapture. In relation to the rapture, they insist that while the Church is spoken of in the seven letters, the words “Church” and its local version “church” are nowhere mentioned in the rest of Revelation, which covers the Tribulation. This is taken as evidence that the Church will no longer be on the earth during that time: it will be in heaven watching the events of the tribulation in safety from there. After all, why would Jesus Christ speak so openly to the churches in the first three chapters of the Revelation, and then have nothing to say about them or to them after the letters, if Church-age believers were to be in the middle of all the prophesied turmoil?

Our first remarkable observation in answer to this belief should be that the words “Church” and “churches” are not used to describe anyone in heaven during the tribulation events in Revelation either! Why do pre-trib teachers never point that out? So where is the Church? Where are the “churches”?

What’s never mentioned is that the prophesies of Revelation found in chapter 4 onward are all given to the churches-not just the first three chapters. We know this because we’re told so in the Revelation itself. After the prophesies are all given, we read:

I Jesus have sent my angel to give you this testimony FOR THE CHURCHES (Revelation 22:16).

THE ENTIRE BOOK OF REVELATION IS A TESTIMONY TO THE CHURCHES!

Jesus said that the entire book of Revelation-not just the first three chapters-is a “testimony” for the churches. A testimony is evidence; proof; a formal statement. We first hear of this “testimony” at the beginning of chapter 1, where we’re told that Jesus Christ’s revelation is concerning “what must soon take place”. Therefore the testimony includes not just the seven letters but all the following prophesies. The entire thing is, “…the testimony of Jesus Christ” (verse 2). The churches-supposedly representing the Church age only-are provided the same “testimony” as those who are martyred during the Tribulation in the rest of Revelation.

So one message is told throughout the book. There are not separate testimonies for the rapture candidates and the failures. The book is a unit, not divided in two or three parts, and is as relevant to the Church as it is to Jews or anyone converted during the Tribulation. The prophesies, says Christ himself, are for the Church, and not just for others who are “left behind”.

WAS JOHN’S TRIP TO HEAVEN A TYPE OF THE RAPTURE?

After Jesus’ letter to the church in Laodicea the book of Revelation takes a sharp turn towards a scene in heaven. John, receiving the Revelation, is called verbally up into heaven, and then taken there instantly (chapter 4:1-2).

The calling of John into heaven before any account of the prophesies is given is seen as a type of the rapture: it supposedly demonstrates what will happen to the whole Church when Jesus Christ changes us all “in the twinkling of an eye”. It’s also believed to show, since it’s a type of our own rapture, that we will be raptured before the tribulation, because John’s “rapture” occurred before any of the events of the tribulation recorded in Revelation were shown to him. The Church, according to pre-tribulation teachers, will similarly be called and taken into heaven before any tribulation events or the judgments take place.

There’s no statement that John’s trip into heaven represents the rapture of the Church-it’s just assumed that it is, because it appears to be so much like what Paul described as the rapture. However, logically speaking John had to be shown the events of the entire tribulation, otherwise he would not have been able to record them for us. If he didn’t arrive in heaven to see any of the vision until the seven bowls of wrath were being poured out, he would have missed some of the most important prophesies, and we would only have a part of the story. His vision had to begin at the beginning, and so John had to be taken up into heaven to see the beginning of the account of relevant future events. It may be just as simple as that: John’s trip to heaven at the start of tribulation prophecy makes simple logical sense, and doesn’t necessarily forecast a pre-tribulation rapture for the Church at all.

Thinking about John’s calling into heaven, I had to conclude that I would not personally want to see it as a type of the rapture, because John came back to earth as a mortal again! We don’t know that John even went to heaven physically. All we know is that when he was called into heaven he said:

At once I was in the Spirit” (verse 2).

Whether John was in heaven in the spirit or in the flesh, he returned to earth and to his mortal body. If he hadn’t, we wouldn’t have the book of Revelation. John came back to earth as a man and died. He isn’t in the world today. If his calling to heaven was a type of the rapture that the Church will experience, does that mean we will also return to earth as mortals, and die?

TESTIMONY, CHURCHES, SAINTS

The prophetic writings of John from Revelation chapter 4 on are considered to contain different terminology than the earlier chapters containing letters to the seven churches, supposedly showing that the people living in the Church age are different to those raptured before the tribulation. Is this a valid observation? I intend to show that John’s terminology is consistent throughout his writings, showing a unity of meaning. In other words, those he refers to as “saints” in Revelation are no different than those written about and alive at the time of the writing of his gospel and letters.

A careful reading of Revelation shows that there are common terms and phrases used in John’s works, both throughout Revelation, and in his other New Testament writings. For example, He used the phrase “the testimony of Jesus”, in Revelation seven times, referring to the testimony of those saints living during the tribulation, as well as using the word “testimony” separately several more times. The “saints” found in the apocalyptic chapters of Revelation are called:

…those who hold to the testimony of Jesus” (Revelation 12:17).

However, it’s important to recognize that the word “testimony” had also been a common theme in John’s gospel:

…one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true” (John 19:35).

This term is much more common in John’s gospel than in the other gospels. It’s also more common in his letters than in other New Testament letters, and more so than in Luke’s account of the early Church in Acts.

Interestingly, his word “testimony”, found in Revelation, is also found in two of his epistles to Church age disciples, as is the term, “God’s testimony”:

Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son…” (see 1 John 5:9-12, and 3 John 13).

Therefore, John used the same term to describe Christians living in his own time, and their message, as he did for those living through the Tribulation in Revelation.

Thanks for reading! This subject will continue no more than a week from now.

*My book, “ALL LEFT BEHIND: THE CASE AGAINST THE PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE” by Nick Fisher, is available in paperback and on e-book from Amazon. However, in time, the entire volume will be excerpted here in this blog, re-edited, and entirely free-I’m not looking to profit from what you need to know.

HOW EVOLUTIONISTS HIDE MEANING

Evolutionists sound so convincing, so confident, and so knowledgeable, don’t they? But if we listen hard with an open mind, we, the unwashed plebeians who they dictate truth to, can sometimes see the holes in their logic…

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In a post I wrote titled “The Must-Haves of Evolution”, I shared the speculation of three learned and credentialed evolutionists, who declared that photosynthesis began billions of years ago when single-celled bacteria were “captured” by large inorganic molecules, and then conscripted as energy-producing slaves.

However, asked by the fawning program host if they could give an idea of “when, within, say, seven hundred million years or so”,  said evolution from bacteria into the necessary chloroplast organelles happened, one of the experts answered:

“…there are no fossils of this kind of thing-to date-in rocks, but it must have happened…

In short, there is no evidence that chloroplasts evolved at all, but in their view, it “must have happened” for plants to evolve (1). Frankly, they’re saying “Believe what we’re telling you, even though we don’t have any evidence”.

Richard Dawkins in Ben Stein’s movie, “Expelled”, when asked how life formed, answered:

“Nobody knows how it started…we know the sort of event that must have happened for the origin of life”.

And half a minute later, Stein asked:

“Right. And how did that happen?”

Prof. Dawkins: “I’ve told you, we don’t know”

Stein: “So you have no idea how it started?”

Dawkins: “No, no, nor has anybody.”

So why are they telling us that it happened?

This week I was listening to a radio documentary about plasma, presented by the host and three scientists (2). My fascination reached its climax on the matter of the earth’s magnetic field and the ionosphere. These are both vital to life on earth because they protect us from the otherwise destructive onslaught of radiation from the sun. I was amazed when the host of the discussion, perhaps without thinking, asked one “why” these features are there. The scientist was silent for a time and seemingly stuck for an answer. In fact, she avoided the question completely.

Scientists either claim to be neutral on the subject of origins or they are blatantly biased for evolution, while still claiming rational neutrality. No doubt the panel had their knowledge of and theories on “how” the earth is protected from the sun, but are not prepared to answer the question of “why”.

Richard Dawkins had said that we have “no right” to ask why we are here: it’s a silly question (3). To those of us who are prepared to ask, and to think with open minds and hearts, the answer is blatantly obvious.

NOTES

1 “IN OUR TIME-PHOTOSYNTHESIS”, BBC, hosted by Melvyn Bragg.

2 “IN OUR TIME-PLASMA”, BBC, hosted by Melvyn Bragg.

3 https://nickyfisher.com/2015/05/30/why-are-we-here-a-silly-question/

RELATED ARTICLES:

https://www.icr.org/article/earths-young-magnetic-field-revisited

https://answersingenesis.org/astronomy/earth/the-earths-magnetic-field-and-the-age-of-the-earth/

 

RAPTURE 7: FAULTY IMMINENCE- CONTINUED

Last time I  discussed the hopeful but faulty application of Jesus’ words “You do not know the day or the hour” to the pre-tribulation rapture theory. This post, excerpt 7 of my book*  continues on from there…

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The “imminence” view assumes that the starting moment of the tribulation, including the very day and the time of day, could be universally known by all believers if they were not already raptured. It assumes that the tribulation will be exactly seven years long from that point, to the day and the hour. It expects that the mid-point event of Antichrist’s revealing will be exactly on the middle day and the middle hour of that period. It presumes that those occurrences will be so obvious to everyone on earth that the date and time of the visible return of Jesus could be marked on calendars and devices so that alarms would sound at the moment Jesus pierces the sky in power and glory. While I agree that God means exactly what he says in scripture, I suggest that all of the above assumptions are not correct.

The possibility doesn’t seem to have occurred to pre-tribulation believers that we may not know anything about the covenant of Daniel’s 70th week being “confirmed”, if indeed it is still future. It could be an agreement made behind closed doors: a secret pact or treaty; a private and probably sly resolution to achieve something big. News of it may not reach the ears of the public for a few days, or weeks, or months, with no mention of exactly when it occurred. When is this covenant mentioned in New Testament prophesies of end times? The answer is that it isn’t. Paul said that the first-not the second-unmistakable sign that the Day of the Lord is coming would be a “falling away” (2 Thess. 2:3) which surely can’t be fixed to a time or a day. The second would be the appearance of Antichrist in the Jerusalem temple. Paul didn’t  mention a “covenant” or “peace deal” as a sign of the Day of the Lord, but only that people will be talking peace and safety when destruction suddenly overcomes them (1 Thess. 5:3). Why didn’t Paul tell the Thessalonians “That day cannot come, until the Covenant, spoken of by Daniel, is signed”? He was speaking of  a general false sense of security in his first letter, not a specific event to look for.

So even if  Paul did have Daniel’s “covenant” in mind here, there is still no mention of the rapture being years before this sudden destruction, or for that matter, before destruction at all. It is “the Day of the Lord” which will come “like a thief in the night”, not the rapture (1 Thess 5:2).

Similarly, Jesus said that the first unmistakable sign of “great distress” would be Antichrist standing in the Holy Place of the temple. He didn’t mention any covenant or peace deal, which would certainly be a very useful and significant sign for anyone-even if it were for a Jewish remnant only.

Compounding these facts are the mysteriously different number of days given to Daniel to accommodate the fulfillment of last-days events (Daniel 12:11-12). The difference in these dates is something of a mystery even to the “experts”. Notice also that in this scripture in Daniel’s book, relating specifically to end times, there’s no actual mention of the appearance of the Messiah: it isn’t there. Exactly what happens at the end of each of those time periods isn’t clear, and exactly which of those days-if either of them- Jesus will launch from heaven in power and glory we do not know. It may not be on either of those days. It may be many days after or before the exact end of that seven year or forty-two month period. The day and the hour of Christ’s coming isn’t given away by Daniel, even to those who might see the covenant of Daniel’s prophecy being signed.

When Jesus said, “No one knows about that day or hour” in Matthew 24:36, which “day or hour” had He been speaking of? Which “day” did they not know of? In the previous verses He had been speaking solely of the events of the tribulation and of His physical appearing for the whole world to see (verses 15-35). He was referring to the “Day of the Lord”, the time of tribulation, of his coming, and of the restoration of all things, when he said we could not know. He was not speaking of a pre-tribulation rapture.

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Was Jesus in his Olivet Discourse really saying that it would be a Jewish remnant who would see the events of the tribulation, and not the Church? He was, in truth, talking to his original and closest disciples who, although certainly Jewish, became the first born-again members of Christ’s body-the Church-on the day of Pentecost. If the theory that the Olivet Discourse was for a Jewish remnant only were correct, why did Jesus keep speaking to his disciples as thought they would see the events he was foretelling, considering that they constituted the first Christian Church: saved, baptized and filled with the Spirit? Were his first-century disciples not eligible for the rapture? Jesus kept using the word “you”, not “they” when speaking to his first representatives and first members of his Church. They were, after all, co-founders of the Church after Jesus himself-not outsiders or Jews who would only find the Messiah upon his return. He told them what to look for as signs of the tribulation beginning and taking hold on the world. He told them to look out for deception and false Christs, and for the revealing of Antichrist on the temple mount. 

Perusing online “evidence” used to defend the doctrine of pre-tribulation theory through imminence, I found the offerings very weak in terms of scriptural evidence and logic. I also found that it’s common for verses to be used without reference to their context. One such offering was a single verse from Luke’s gospel, where Jesus said, echoing quotes from Matthew’s gospel:

You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Luke 12:40).

In this passage Jesus was speaking about a master-servant relationship. For the good servant, his master’s surprise return would be good news;

It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready” (verse 38).

Just as a house owner needs to be ready for a thief, Jesus was saying in verse 40 that we too must be ready. Reading a little further sheds some light on the full meaning of the verse about the Son of Man coming at an unexpected hour. Here Jesus switches his analysis to a servant whose master is away and who mistreats his own servants. So when the master returns, says Jesus:

The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers” (12:46).

Here the wicked servant is the one taken by surprise by the coming of his master. His master comes on a day and at an hour that he was not expecting. The surprise appearance of the master is not a rapture event, it’s a judgment event! The master came at an unexpected day and hour as a judge! This passage is not about the rapture at all, as one website I read is claiming-it’s about God’s interest in our faithfulness. It’s about how we live out our faith rather than living as we did before we professed faith.

Other verses commonly offered as evidence for the pre-tribulation rapture are those speaking of Jesus’ soon coming. For example, somehow James’ words, “the Lord’s coming is near” and “the Judge is standing at the door” (James 5:9) are seen as evidence for an imminent rapture. If we read the whole verse we see that James was really speaking of faithfulness and sincerity of faith. If “the Judge is standing at the door”, we need to take this as a warning to be true, so that we are not judged with the world, just as the wicked servant who did not expect his master will be. Such verses are not valid evidence for a pre-tribulation rapture.

Another verse used as evidence is Revelation 1:1, which tells us that the events of the Revelation “must soon take place”. I agree that these events will occur quickly and will not be expected when they begin, but John is speaking here of the entire prophecy: the entirety of the book of Revelation. Logically, this means that stars falling from heaven, and the mark of the beast, and the new heaven and new earth are also happenings which “must soon take place”. Therefore the rapture can’t be identified as being any “sooner” than anything else in Revelation, and the book’s first verse is not speaking specifically of rapture!

One Matthew chapter 24 verse used to support the imminence of a pre-tribulation raptur is this one:

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (verse 36).

Which day and hour was Jesus speaking of-was it the time of the rapture? No, he hadn’t even mentioned a rapture, and certainly not a pre-tribulation rapture. He’d been giving an overview of all the events to come, culminating in his visible, physical return in power and glory. This makes even more relevant Peter’s statement that “the day of the Lord will come like a thief” (2 Peter 3:10). Perhaps Jesus was answering the questions of his disciples from a minute or two before, when they wanted to know when the temple would be destroyed, and what would be the sign of his coming and of the end of the age (Matthew 24:3). Jesus answered that “no one knows…” Not even he knew, at that time. However, he gave them, and us, the signs of his coming, which, by definition, would in the future demonstrate that the time was near, once they began to happen.

Even then, people will still not know the exact day or hour. Even then they will not know until it actually happens. They will know they are in the general time, but they will not know the day or the hour. Therefore, Jesus’ talk of believers not knowing the day or hour has nothing to do with a pre-tribulation rapture: it’s about the events of the tribulation and Jesus’ visible, physical return in power and glory.

* My book entitled “ALL LEFT BEHIND: THE CASE AGAINST THE PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE”, is available in paperback and e-book at Amazon. However, the entire book will eventually be excerpted or summarized here. And lucky you-you’re getting an up-dated edit, which will all be one day published as a new version of the book. Thanks for reading.

RAPTURE 6: IMMINENCE

Welcome back to excerpts from my book “All Left Behind: The Case Against the Pre-Tribulation Rapture”. I was once a zealous defender of the pre-trib. rapture, but came to see things very differently when I eventually faced up to certain scriptures I had previously ignored, and analysed them more realistically. Here then is installment 6, which considers the doctrine of Imminence.

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Pre-tribulation believers say that Christ’s coming is ‘imminent’. In the context of the rapture those who use the term mean that Jesus could come back secretly at any moment, just for his Church, without any warning or notice; leaving everyone else including nominal believers behind. There’s nothing else which needs to happen “on God’s prophetic clock” before the rapture, they say. Seemingly in support of this view are the words of Jesus who said we cannot know the day or the hour of his coming (Matthew 24:36-42). He said he is coming “quickly (KJV)” or “soon” (NIV, Revelation 22:12).

According to the doctrine of Imminence, if we were to see any of the tribulation signs of his coming we would be able to know he’s coming and when he’s coming. But this cannot happen, since Jesus said he would come “like a thief in the night”. Therefore his secret coming must happen before the “seven year tribulation”. If we saw the “signing of the peace treaty” we would be able to calculate the day and the hour of his coming, but Jesus said we cannot know the day or the hour-therefore we will not see it. Instead the Church will be taken in a surprise rapture before the “peace treaty” is signed and before the tribulation begins. Don’t even question the doctrine of Imminence, they insist: that’s very nearly heresy. Imminence is presented on one web-page in defense of the pre-tribulation rapture as “the grand-daddy of proofs”.

Admittedly, it’s clear from Jesus’ own words that we cannot know the day or the hour of his coming, so it’s inarguable that his coming truly is “imminent”. However, the application of imminence to the concept of a pre-tribulation rapture does not stand up to close scrutiny. 

Pre-tribulation teachers will say, as they must, that most of the content of the Olivet Discourse is intended for a Jewish believing remnant who will be around during the tribulation while the Church is in heaven, and not for the Church. Yet it was during that discourse and to those same believers that Jesus said these commonly-quoted lines:

No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36) and;

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Matthew 24:42) and;

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour” (25:13).

There’s something wrong here. Why would Jesus say “you do not know the day or the hour” to the very people who the pre-tribulation believers say will be around during the tribulation, if that warning is intended to support a pre-tribulation rapture? Pre-tribbers tell us that these quotes mean the rapture is imminent and so before the tribulation, but in fact Jesus is saying these things for the benefit and instruction of the people who will be living on earth during the tribulation! Jesus wasn’t even talking to believers who might be gone before the tribulation when he said, “you do not know the day or the hour”. He was talking to his disciples about his visible, physical coming in power and glory!

If Jesus was talking to early rapture candidates in his Olivet Discourse, wouldn’t he have said something like, “Fear not, because I”ll take you away before such things happen”.

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There’s more. Here’s another quote from the same passage:

So when you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation…” (24:15).

Jesus was speaking of the abomination of desolation-which is at the mid-point of the expected seven years-to the very same people who he said couldn’t know the day or the hour of his coming, and he said that they would “see” it. If this was intended as a warning, not to the Church but to a Jewish remnant, wouldn’t they be able, upon seeing the “desolation”, to calculate the day and hour of his coming? Why then did he also tell them they could not know the day or the hour of his coming, if seeing the abomination would tell them the exact day and time? How can we take his admonition to “keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour” as an evidence of Imminence doctrine in the form of a pre-tribulation rapture? Jesus is speaking to people living through the tribulation!

By the reckoning of pre-tribulation teachers, the people Jesus was addressing in his Olivet Discourse-the Jewish remnant- should also be aware of the “peace-treaty” they say will be made, and of the rebuilding of the temple. So presumably under the logic of Imminence theory, they would then be able to calculate the day and hour of his coming! But Jesus told them they could not know the day or the hour. It’s faulty logic and just plain wrong to say that if believers were to see any tribulation events occur, they would be breaking the words of Jesus when he said we cannot know the day or the hour.

It’s important to note at this point that Jesus didn’t actually mention any “seven year peace treaty” in his “Olivet Discourse”. Why not? Did he forget? Did he not think it was important? Did the translators leave it out?

When Jesus said “No one knows about that day or hour…” (verse 36) he had, moments before in verses 28-31, been speaking about his physical, visible appearing in power and glory for all the world to see-not about a secret rapture. He was saying this at the time he gave the discourse in the first century, and even in our time now, nobody knows exactly when he’s coming. As we’ve seen, even during the future time of distress he described in Matthew chapter 24, it seems people will still not know “the day or the hour” of his coming. We can look, and we can expect and hope, and we can see certain events which suggest the time is near, but no-one, then or now, or in the future, can know the exact “day or the hour”.

Strangely, the same people who say that “nothing needs to happen before the rapture” will tell you that there are plenty of signs of the coming tribulation to be seen now, and they proceed to publish books and videos and TV shows about those very signs which they are clever enough to divine. They’re the “watchmen on the wall”, and so make a good living telling the rest of us what prophetic signs have been fulfilled, while also telling us that the coming of Jesus is imminent and nothing else needs to happen before the rapture. If it’s imminent to the point of us not having a clue about the time of his coming, and if “nothing else needs to happen before the rapture”, what’s all this talk of signs being fulfilled? Why does the “Imminence” principle have to be applied to a pre-tribulation rapture only?

Thanks for reading. This subject will be continued in a few days.

TRUMP, THE POLITICAL DIVIDE, AND SEX

European people mock and despise Donald Trump, and then wonder why their own leaders are so spineless. I’m speaking as a Brit., and from what I observe I’m presuming to speak of the people of other European countries as well…

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Here in the US, a large section of one political party-the Republican- is in large part weak and bending with what they perceive to be the winds of public opinion, while the other party now has an insatiable lust for total power at any cost and by almost any method possible.

In what should be the middle is the media, which has a very clear agenda and stands firmly behind the Democratic party and their now extremist policies, also at any cost and by any method possible.

Having spent half of my life in the UK and the other half in the US, I’ve been aligned with both sides of the political divide. I believed the lies about Reagan when he was president, partly because lies were the only “news” we received in the UK. He was “going to start a nuclear war” by standing up to the Soviet Union, they said: the very same charge made against Donald Trump even before he was elected.

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It was also because his conservative counterpart in Britain-Margaret Thatcher-was making conservatism look like the worst thing since dysentery, while Americans thought she was the best thing since roast beef. Those in Britain who were not well off financially saw her as an uncaring tyrant, particularly when she instituted the “poll tax”, greatly raising taxes for those in lower income brackets. She and her ministers were arrogant and aloof, telling those who were unemployed by Thatcher’s policies to “get on their bikes” and find a job. Leftists portrayed the Conservative party as the Nazi party, just as Trump has been labelled in the US, when the truth is that Hitler and his boys made up the German Socialist Workers’ Party. They weren’t conservatives at all, in name or in policy.

So Reagan was hated in Britain, as were the Bushes, even before the war with Iraq. Incidentally, liberals here in the US seem to be willingly ignorant of the fact that Brits and so probably other Europeans don’t have a much better opinion of Democratic presidents than Republican presidents. Only if Americans gave all their money away, became emaciated,  and the nation shrunk to the size of New Jersey by a devastating war would the majority of Brits have regard for Americans. Sorry to break that to you, my fellow Americans, but I’m in the same camp as you, being a naturalized citizen, and proud of it.

Why the hatred? Why was Reagan hated for being strong when weak leaders are similarly despised anyway? Why has Donald Trump been accused of everything his enemies could think up? The result of this perpetual attack on our own democracy and on leaders who actually want to lead and do what’s best for the West must have some sort of origin and reason behind it. The answer is so varied that speculation is inevitable. But a few things are for sure in my view.

One, the worldwide socialist movement has been true to Marx, who wanted to bring Christianity down, bring the traditional family down, and make the state God and the ultimate, all-pervasive power, not only in one country but all over the world. Socialist leaders want everyone to be equal, but with the government and the ruling elite distant and far more “equal” then everyone else. The weakening of the church is partially achieved by the promotion of other religions such as Islam, because “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.

Two, within that socialist framework is the move to global governance. Trump is, as was Reagan, the last thing globalists want. President Kennedy made clear that he didn’t want to go the way of world government, and look what happened to him.

Three, most of our news media is not “news” media at all: it’s opinion media. And it’s largely owned and governed by those on the Left of politics.

Four, there is in the heart of man the desire to rebel against God and godly government, particularly when it comes to sex. The Left is associated more with sexual “freedom”, and the Right is seen to be against it, particularly the “Christian Right”. This really doesn’t make sense since the God of the Bible made humans male and female, made them naked, and told them to be fruitful and multiply. So then it’s illicit sex which people want “freedom” in, and the pushers of illicit sex and abortion have succeeded in convincing a large number of people that conservatives think that all sex is wrong. Hogwash!

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Those wanting sex to be “free” and unhindered think they need to vote on the Left in order to be assured that the local church minister will not be peeping in their bedroom window to ensure that all is above board.

Five, many on both sides of the political spectrum-including conservatives and professing Christians, have let us down. But then, aren’t we all human? How are we going to find the perfect human leader? We aren’t.

And finally, being a Bible-believing Christian, I recognize that the hatred, the division, the lies, the deceit, the falsehoods, the lust for power over other people, while coming from the heart of man, all have one ultimate source: the enemy of our souls-Satan.

WHAT MAKES YOU SO SURE YOUR RELIGION IS THE RIGHT ONE?

Usually people ask this question not in an honest, inquiring way, but rhetorically, cynically, critically. Or perhaps in these more militant days they’ll just tell you straight that you can’t know anything for sure-except, of course, what they believe. They want you to be unsure of your faith, and preferably to abandon it altogether, so that you’re in the same spiritual condition as they are: lost and without hope, and more importantly, without any moral compass to control how they live and how they think.

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Pilate said, cynically, “What is truth?” He was on the wrong side of history.

If you stand for nothing you’ll fall for anything, like rocks turning into humans and men becoming women. If you’re too open-minded your brains will fall out. And remember, it’s those on the narrow path who are on the way to life, while the broad road, which our society wants us all to travel on, is the road to destruction.

It’s time not to shrink to the size of a mouse when someone challenges us with unbelief and lies from the pit of hell, but to stand firm and strong, in the power of the creator and sustainer of all things. There’s plenty of reason to know what we believe and to know what we know. If you want evidence and reason to support your faith you can find it in history and archaeology-if you avoid the revised versions and the atheistic, relativistic rhetoric. You can find evidence in true science, and in nature.

The Western world is sliding rapidly down a slippery slope, not just to irrelevance and confusion and division and social decay, with only a few brave souls working to stop the rot, but to attack from others who are very committed in their own mistaken beliefs, and who are determined to impose them on the rest of us as soon as they are able.

It’s time to stand firm. It’s time to “..be still and know (not ‘hope’) that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). It’s time to put on that spiritual armor, most particularly “the shield of faith” (Ephesians 6:16). And when someone asks you how you know your God is the real God, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). We spend hours a day entertaining ourselves: why not spend a half hour a day building up our faith?

We don’t have to be militant, or rude, or arrogant or smug: share your faith with gentleness. But we do need to remember all those examples from the past given to us, of people who have stood firm in the face of hatred and rejection of our God. The most important and relevant of those is Jesus himself, who could not and would not deny himself or his Father. He stood firm to the end, and because of his obedience, “God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name above all names” (Philippians 2:9).

(To my regular readers-I’ll be returning to the subject of the rapture soon. Thanks for your time).

DID OBAMACARE?

To all my friends and acquaintances back in the UK who were fooled into the notion that Mr Barak Hussein Obama was such a caring man by attempting to institute universal healthcare in the US, I say you have been very wrong over this issue, as well as many others.

I, as an ex-socialist in my political leanings, have come to see the hard facts of life from my time in the United States, and I can tell you without reservation that what Mr Obama did in terms of healthcare, was for me and my family and for many others, diabolical.

Before O-care we chose to have no insurance and just pay for treatment as needed. When it came along, being just a little above the poverty level because we worked very hard, we were at the level of income where we would have to pay the monthly fees, even though we keep ourselves healthy and would avoid seeing a doctor unless necessary.

Even if we took basic O-care and payed our dues, the “deductibles” for treatment (that is, the amount we would have to pay for any treatment before the insurance starts paying) would be so high that in effect we would have no coverage. The fees were too high for us to afford, so we decided to pay the fine for not having Obamacare instead, which, it turns out, is around $2000 per year. That’s about three weeks of very hard work for me.

Did Obama, or for that matter, any of the Democrats or even many of the Republicans care for real, hard-working people who were trying to make ends meet? No, because they have all the money they need to have all their family in full insurance. Trump is just about the only one who has worked to reverse the curse.

WHO JESUS IS

There are as many views about who Jesus was and is as there could possibly be about anyone, are there not? He was “just a man”; he was “a revolutionary”; he was “not a real person”; he was “deluded”.

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This post will very briefly outline my own very firm conviction, after decades of serious consideration of the Bible in comparison to other faiths; of history and archaeology, and of my lifetime experiences. If you want a more detailed analysis, with scripture references, see the links below to my older posts*. This is a summary.

You could study the divinity of Jesus Christ in the Scriptures for the rest of your life, because the more you delve the more you can find to demonstrate the fact that Jesus Christ was and is no mere man, no mere prophet, and no mere avatar, guru, or ascended master. He’s is far more than all those things.

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The Bible asserts that God is our savior. However, it also states that Jesus Christ is our savior. It tells us that God is “the first and the last”, but it also states that the Son of God is “the first and the last”. In scripture, God is said to be our creator, but so is the Son of God declared to be our creator.

In scripture, God is the eternal One, and Jesus Christ is the eternal One. God is the Judge, and the Son is the Judge. God “treads on the waves of the sea” and Jesus Christ walked on water.

In identifying God, the Old Testament says he is “the one they have pierced”, and in the New Testament, Jesus Christ is the one who was pierced for our sins. God calls himself the “I AM”, and in the New Testament, Jesus Christ called himself the “I AM”.

God is the one who will “come”, and Jesus is the one who will “come”, in “power and great glory”.

In the New Testament, God raised Jesus from the dead, and Christ raised  himself from the dead. God is the giver of eternal life, and Jesus Christ is the one who gives eternal life.

God is our shepherd; the “King of Israel”, and “the King of the whole earth”. The Son also fulfills all these roles. Here’s an example:

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God…He will reign on David’s throne and  over his kingdom…” (Isaiah 9:6).

In time every knee will  bow to our God, just as every knee will bow to the Son, says the Bible. The Church (universal) was bought with the blood of God, just as it was bought with the blood of Jesus.

Ask yourself what man can do miracles. I mean real miracles, and not the fakers who are running around claiming to be healers. With a word Jesus Christ healed lepers, made the blind see, and raised the dead. Is that the work of a man? Jesus said he “came from heaven”. He is, according to the testimony of those who knew him, and of the ancient prophet Isaiah, God-made-flesh. He is “God with us”. He is, says Scripture, The one and only, and not just “a” Son of God. He was executed because he claimed to be God, which in the eyes of the religious leaders was an unforgivable blasphemy.

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Jesus stated plainly that he was One with the Father. The apostles called him God and “my Lord and my God”, and he did not correct them. Jesus accepted worship from them, something no man should do. Satan offered him the kingdoms of the world. Jesus called himself “Lord of the Sabbath”. He said that he was greater than Jonah and greater than the temple of God. He said that he is “The way, The truth, and The life”, and he said that he is “the bread of life”. He said even before Abraham was born-thousands of years earlier, he was the “I AM”.

In Jesus’ ministry he made plain that he was in all places, ie omnipresent, and omniscient. He healed all sicknesses and diseases. He had total power over the elements. He had power over death.

CONCLUSION

If you claim to be spiritual in your view of life yet fail to consider the person of Jesus Christ, you are missing out on the Spirit of God, our creator. If you claim the Bible at all as your guide yet reject the divinity of Jesus Christ, you are missing the entire point of it all: that God came to live in human flesh and to save us from our sin. If you are intentionally rejecting his divinity, you are dismantling the Scriptures which you claim as your inspiration and authority. John said of such deniers:

“Such a man is the antichrist-he denies the Father and the Son. No one who denies the Son has the Father; whoever acknowledges the Son has the Father also” (1 John 2:22-23).

We need to do exactly what Thomas did when he saw the risen Christ who had just walked into a locked room, and gently addressed Thomas’ unbelief:

“Then he said to Thomas, ‘Stop doubting and believe.’

“Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God’” (John 20:26-28).

 

*FOR MORE DETAIL AND SCRIPTURE REFERENCES, FOLLOW THESE LINKS:

https://nickyfisher.com/2014/04/05/jesus-man-or-god-man/

https://nickyfisher.com/2014/04/12/jesus-man-or-god-man-part-2/

https://nickyfisher.com/2014/10/21/jesus-man-or-god-man-part-3/

 

WHY MY GOD IS THE ONLY TRUE GOD

There are many “gods” in the world-perhaps millions. Therefore, says a large segment of our population, no-one should dare claim that their God is the only true god. Is that good logic? Does it follow that just because there are millions of gods in the world, they either have to all be right or all be wrong? Cannot one of them actually be the “right” one? And is it true that if there is a “right” one, there’s no way of knowing which one it is? 

I have no wish to go with the flow of societal fashion, multicultural haze, political correctness or unbelief, and I claim without hesitation that my God is the only true God…

There can only be one supreme being, just as there can only be one president of a successful nation without confusion and strife. That one supreme being cannot have conflicting characteristics as if he/she/it were some cosmic schizophrenic. These practical principles narrow us down to a few claimants to the throne. The Biblical God is one of those few who will not share his throne. The Bible is strewn with statements to that effect:

“I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God” (Isaiah 44:6 NIV).

We are faced, then, with a choice: either we accept the claim or we reject it. While faith and the blessing of knowing God come from the Spirit of God, and not from our own effort to reason things out, it makes sense that truth is reasonable, and there are, in my view, many clear evidences to reason our way to a knowledge of who the Creator is.

CREATION IS CONSISTENT WITH THE GOD OF THE BIBLE

The work of men like Hubble and Einstein showed us that the universe is not eternal but had a beginning. Einstein demonstrated mathematically that space and time are inseparable, and that matter and energy are two sides of the same coin. The first verse of the Bible, written long before Einstein or Hubble, describes, in brief, a beginning to the universe which incorporates inseparably time, space and matter:

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”.

Earth

Biblical creation also explains the creation of man, and of the nature and intelligence of man. I’ve discussed creation and the lack of evidence for evolution before.

A DIVINE MESSAGE

It’s my conviction that the supreme being is perfectly capable and willing to create and preserve a message to his ultimate creation, mankind. The Bible claims to be a supernatural message from our creator to us. If that’s true, it should be meaningful, profound, relative and vital to the human condition. I believe the Bible fulfills all those characteristics. It isn’t the creation of a bunch of idiots, and any forger would have had nothing to gain from its writing. In fact, most commonly the human conveyors of the message of Scripture were persecuted. The depth and richness of Scripture is far beyond any other writing I have encountered. When this is seen along with its claims of divine origin, its clear that it deserves serious consideration.

The actual volume of manuscript evidence is enormous. Why does the manuscript evidence matter? There are many reasons, among which is the fact that the numerous different human authors of Bible books lived over a very long period of human history. They recorded their experiences and inspirations which, when put together, provide one narrative, one story, and one message-an amazing message of hope and love. That narrative has been preserved through all the many attempts over the centuries to destroy it.

Many think that the Bible was written centuries after the fact and is filled with mistakes, contradictions and fabrications. However, the documentary evidence for the New Testament alone far surpasses any other work of its time. We have over 5000 manuscripts, and many are dated within a few years of their authors’ lives. One example, the Rylands Papyri found in Egypt, contains a fragment of John’s gospel, and dates to A.D. 130. From this fragment we can conclude that John’s gospel was completed well before A.D. 130, because not only did the gospel have to be written, it had to be hand copied and make its way down from Greece to Egypt. Since the vast majority of scholars agree that John is the last gospel written, we can affirm its first century date along with the other three with greater assurance.

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More evidence comes from the Dead Sea Scrolls Cave 7. Jose Callahan discovered a fragment of the Gospel of Mark and dated it to have been written in A.D. 50. He also discovered fragments of Acts and other epistles and dated them to have been written slightly after A.D. 50.

For more information see:

https://bible.org/article/historical-reliability-gospels

There are numerous writings of the Church Fathers quoting sections of Scripture, and the entire New Testament could be constructed from those alone. Millions of man-hours have been spent cross-checking them. Here are a few examples:

Clement of Rome sent a letter to the Corinthian church in A.D. 95. in which he quoted from the Gospels and other portions of the N.T. Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, wrote a letter before his martyrdom in Rome in A.D. 115, quoting all the Gospels and other N.T. letters. Polycarp wrote to the Philippians in A.D. 120 and quoted from the Gospels and N.T. letters. Justin Martyr (A.D. 150) quotes John’s gospel chapter 3. Church fathers of the early second century were familiar with the apostle’s writings and quoted them as inspired Scripture.

The Dead Sea Scrolls prove the accuracy of the transmission of the Bible. In these scrolls discovered at Qumran in 1947, we have Old Testament manuscripts which date to 150 BC, about a thousand years earlier than Old Testament manuscripts previously known. They include a complete scroll of Isaiah. The significance is that when the two sets of manuscripts are compared, it’s clear that they are essentially the same, with very few changes. The 5 percent of variation consists chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling. This indicates the incredible accuracy of the Old Testament manuscripts’ transmission to us. God is able to preserve His message (1).

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Dr. Gary R Habermas, a New Testament historian, received his Ph D from Michigan State University and his DD from Emmanuel College, Oxford. In his book “The Historical Jesus”, Habermas discusses the creed quoted below as found in 1st Corinthians, and writes:

“That this confession is an early Christian, pre-Pauline creed is recognized by virtually all critical scholars across a wide theological spectrum” (3).

This is the gospel that Paul preached in the first century:

“Now brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.  After that he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time….Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also…” (1 Corinthians 15: 1 – 8).

THE GOSPEL MESSAGE

The gospel of Jesus Christ speaks of a God who loves his creation. In other religions of the world man must prove himself to God and meet some very high standards in order to be accepted. But the gospel of Jesus is all about God reaching out to mankind with willing acceptance and a fervent desire to overlook our failures. Christ paid for our sins: we cannot pay for our own sins. The philosophies of the world such as Buddhism do not attempt to even describe or explain creation or a creator.

ARCHAEOLOGY

The Bible is supported richly by archaeological evidence. Below are just a few of the many finds made in recent decades, followed by a link to information on some of the latest finds.

THE POOL OF SILOAM, where Jesus healed the blind man (John 9:1–11) and which critics had said never existed, was found in 2004 (4).

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THE TEL DAN INSCRIPTION. The existence of King David, from Samuel in the OT, was mocked by secular scholars until The Tel Dan inscription, or “House of David” inscription, was discovered in 1993 at the site of Tel Dan in northern Israel. Few modern Biblical archaeology discoveries have caused as much excitement as the Tel Dan inscription—writing on a ninth-century B.C. stone slab (or stela) that furnished the first historical evidence of King David from the Bible. The inscription makes reference to a military victory and corresponds to the biblical account in 2 Chronicles 22.

 

THE WESTERN WALL

THE PILATE INSCRIPTION

A stone tablet was found in the theater of Caesarea on the Mediterranean coast and bears an inscription mentioning the name of Pontius Pilate the procurator of Judea, and also the Tiberium, which was an edifice built in honor of the Emperor Tiberius by Pilate. There has been much written to discredit the biblical narrative in regard to the existence of Pilate; this tablet clearly says that it was from “Pontius Pilate, Prefect of Judea” and verifies that he was a person that lived during the time of Jesus, exactly as written in the biblical narrative.

http://www.bible-history.com/archaeology/news/

SCIENCE

Militant atheists and anti-Christian groups are on a mission to convince you and your children that science and faith do not mix. They omit to tell you that many of the great scientists of the past, such as Isaac Newton, were believers and attributed the wonders of creation and the orderliness of the universe to a Designer. Some scientists and scientifically trained people today are believers. Faith and true science do mix: faith and unbelief obviously do not. There are many scientists today who are convinced that the God of the Bible created all things. For example, see https://www.icr.org/homepage/

 

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HISTORY

Secular history sources tell us that the first notable civilization was in Mesopotamia, and then came Egypt, Greece and Rome. Biblical accounts agree. Not only so, but the secular time-frame for the rise of civilized society agrees with the Bible.

“Our knowledge of prehistory derives from surviving objects…” (which don’t have dates on). “History, by contrast, is based on documents” (a telling admission). “These various interconnections mean that history, civilization and writing all begin at the same time. That time is about 3100 BC.”

“In about 3200 BC the two earliest civilizations develop….” (9).

Stela_of_Iddi-Sin,_King_of_Simurrum__It_dates_back_to_the_Old-Babylonian_Perdiod__From_Qarachatan_Village,_Sulaymaniyah_Governorate,_Iraqi_Kurdistan__The

That’s interesting, because the Bible agrees, and in fact said it first. The timing perfectly fits Biblical accounts and genealogies.

The Bible has become a significant source book for secular archaeology, helping to identify such ancient figures as Sargon (Isaiah 20:1); Sennacherib (Isaiah 37:37); Horam of Gazer (Joshua 10:33); Hazar (Joshua 15:27); and the nation of the Hittites (Genesis 15:20). The biblical record, unlike other “scriptures,” is historically set, opening itself up for testing and verification.

The names of over 40 different kings of various countries mentioned in the Bible have all been found in contemporary documents and inscriptions outside of the Old Testament, and are always consistent with the times and places associated with them in the Bible. Nothing exists in ancient literature that has been even remotely as well-confirmed in accuracy as has the Bible (10).

The Biblical Flood story is corroborated by dozens of ancient flood legends from around the world, as is the record of unbiased geology (11).

I came upon one such account while reading a secular book called “The Chinese Heritage”, which notes that the Chinese recorded a huge flood which covered the land and the mountains. It also states that originally people in that land believed in one supreme God.

NON_BIBLICAL SOURCES

The New Testament is supportable with many ancient secular documents. For info see:

“The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel;

“The Historical Jesus” by Gary R. Habermas

Examples:

Tacitus, the most important Roman historian of the first century, mentioned Christ as the reingleader of a sect, and “who suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberias”;

Pliny the Younger tortured and killed Christians. He wrote in AD 111 that he killed them for “belonging to that degenerate sect”. He wrote that they chanted to Christ “as if to a god”.

DIVINE DESIGN

The scriptures contain an inexhaustible supply of encoded evidence to authenticate and confirm its divine design, in other words, evidence that Biblical Scripture is indeed “inspired by God” as it claims, and not by the rantings of ancient man attempting to control someone. One example is typology, which demonstrates that many authors over a long period of time were in fact advancing the same message. The deeper you look, the more encoded evidence you can find. For a fascinating glimpse into the many amazing codes found within the Bible, see Chuck Missler’s articles on the subject, based on his books (12).

https://www.blueletterbible.org/study/larkin/dt/28.cfm

PROPHECY

The Bible foretells future events, many of which have been fulfilled, and others which have yet to be fulfilled. For example, the Old Testament contains hundreds of predictions of the Messiah, some concerning his first coming as recorded in the New Testament, and some concerning his return. Luke’s gospel records an incident in which Jesus read part of the scroll of Isaiah, known to have been written long before the life of Jesus, for all to hear in the synagogue at Nazareth, then he said:

“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:16-21).

Christ’s birth was foretold, in Isaiah 9:6-7, and his death in Isaiah chapter 53.

In our time a fulfillment of New Testament and Old Testament prophesies about Israel and particularly Jerusalem appear to be in the process of fulfillment. Prophesies relating to contention over Jerusalem in days preceding the return of Christ are particularly amazing. The world is intent on dividing Jerusalem-something it would never want for any other nation’s capital: consider Berlin, for example. The division of Jerusalem is the spark of Armageddon. For me, this alone is enough to convince me that my faith is in the living God. For details please see my post:

https://nickyfisher.com/2014/09/17/why-would-a-christian-want-to-support-israel/

HUMAN NATURE

The Bible is right about human nature. You only have to look around at our world, and in the mirror, to see that.

CHANGED LIVES

Millions of lives have been radically changed for the better by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Notable examples from history include the apostle Paul, a persecutor of Christians until his own conversion, at which point he devoted the rest of his life to spreading the gospel, and John Newton, a slave trader until his conversion. He subsequently wrote the famous hymn “Amazing Grace” (13).

Closer to home, my own life was radically changed for the better when I became “born again”. No-one can take away from me the knowledge of my own changed life. I’m not saying that I suddenly became a wonderful person: I’m saying that the things which had me in bondage no longer have a hold on me, and that I found meaning and purpose in my life and in the universe.

NOTES

1: For more info read Josh McDowell’s books “Evidence that Demands a Verdict” (one of the top 40 biggest-sellers of the 20th Century) and his new “God Breathed”.

http://home.earthlink.net/~ronrhodes/Manuscript.html

http://www.icr.org/bible-manuscripts/

2: Lee Strobel “The Case For Christ” (Pub. By Zondervan, © 1998) p. 230.

3: Gary R Habermas “The Historical Jesus: Ancient Evidence for the Life of Christ” (College Press Publishing Company, Joplin, Missouri, © 1996 Gary Habermas) p 153.

4: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-sites-places/biblical-archaeology-sites/the-siloam-pool-where-jesus-healed-the-blind-man/http://www.bibleplaces.com/poolofsiloam.htm

5: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-artifacts/artifacts-and-the-bible/the-tel-dan-inscription-the-first-historical-evidence-of-the-king-david-bible-story/

6: For more info read  “The Popular Handbook of Archaeology and the Bible” by Geisler & Holden, and Logos Bible Software.

“The Stones Cry Out” by Dr. Randall Price

http://www.gotquestions.org/biblical-archaeology.html#ixzz3cPqQK5QD

7: https://answersingenesis.org/answers/books/taking-back-astronomy/the-universe-confirms-the-bible/

8: http://www.icr.org

http://www.answersingenesis.org

9: http://www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=ab25

10: http://www.icr.org/bible-history

11: https://answersingenesis.org/the-flood/flood-legends/flood-legends/

12: http://www.khouse.org/articles_cat/2015/technical/biblecodes/

13: http://www.anointedlinks.com/amazing_grace.html

WHAT GOD WANTS

Watching the news; observing people and the affairs of humanity; looking in the mirror and thinking of what I’ve done with my own life, I had to ask my God why He would care at all about the human race…

“What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:4).

Those of us who are Bible believers know that we’re not worthy of God’s love: He gives it because He wants to. He did, after all, send His son to die for us while we were in our fallen state. But why? What could he, an infinite, omnipotent, incredible, beautiful God possibly want that we have or that we are?

I have to say that the answer, humanly speaking, is beyond me. If I were God I would probably just give up on the world and start all over. But as I thought the matter over this morning, for the umpteenth time, what came to mind quite apart from some relevant scriptural statements, were the few souls I’ve known in my life who were genuinely wonderful people-people who were consistently different to everyone else in a good way.

I realized that these people all had certain things in common. They were humble, warm, selfless, kind, loving and thoughtful, and lived a life of service. While no human “deserves” God’s love, humans were designed and made in His image. And perhaps in those divine qualities which a few somehow manage to exhibit there’s a glimpse of that image of God, and a strong indicator of what God through his son Jesus Christ seeks to foster in us, and to fill his heaven with for all eternity.

Worship doesn’t just consist of singing or raising hands, it’s more to do with how we live our lives:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:1-2).

Yes, we’re saved by faith in the son of God, because of God’s mercy and grace. But it’s when we consciously live out our faith in truth and genuine love and praise, that we please our Creator, and become the kind of people He wants in his kingdom. How many of us are studying the will of our Father in our lives? Jesus said:

Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks (John 4:23 NIV).

RAPTURE 5: DID PAUL SAY THE CHURCH WILL BE TAKEN INTO HEAVEN WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT BEFORE THE TRIBULATION?

Will believers really be taken into heaven before any trouble comes upon the world? That was my conviction for twenty-eight years. I was wrong.

Welcome to the fifth excerpt from my recent book, “ALL LEFT BEHIND: THE CASE AGAINST THE PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE”.

August 2013 010

Some believe, based on the words of Paul, that there’s coming a day before the Tribulation when the Holy Spirit will be withdrawn from the earth into heaven. We’re told by Paul that Antichrist can only be revealed to the world and do his work on the earth when the one who holds him back has been “taken out of the way” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-8). The assumption drawn from this chapter is that Paul is telling us the Spirit of God is going to be withdrawn completely, into heaven from the earth, before the “seven year tribulation” begins. And since the Spirit indwells all true believers (Ephesians 1:13-14; Romans 8:9-11) the theory goes that all believers must be taken into heaven with the Spirit, because He wouldn’t leave the Church which He indwells.

When we read this passage in 2 Thessalonians we see that it doesn’t actually say that the Holy Spirit will be taken from the earth into heaven. Neither does it say that He will be taken out of the way seven years before Antichrist is revealed. Here is what it does say:

And now you know what is holding him (Antichrist) back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way”.

Antichrist could probably have appeared many times over during the history of man, if the Holy Spirit of God not been here to prevent him, or to “hold him back”. Hitler, for example, would have been a perfect candidate for the position of Antichrist. But Antichrist’s advent must occur at “the proper time” (verse 6). That is, when God says it’s time.

Some people think that it’s the influence of Christians in the world which is preventing Antichrist from being revealed. The Church, they say, is the restraining force holding back the Antichrist. Only when Christians get raptured and “taken out of the way” can that power of lawlessness come to fruition.

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I think there’s a degree of truth in the idea that Christians hold back the forces of evil. We are, after all, “the salt of the earth”. But it seems we need a rather grandiose attitude to assume that the mighty “We” are the ones holding back the the appearance of Antichrist. We failed to hold back Hitler, and WW2 saw the deaths of tens of millions of people, including six million Jews. We failed to hold back Stalin, Pol Pott and Mao, who between them murdered over a hundred million of their own people, including Christians. And there have been innumerable other tyrants and murderers in the history of mankind. We failed to hold back the Black Death which killed a third of the population of Europe, including Christians. Furthermore, and more specifically, there is no statement in Paul’s letter or anywhere else in Scripture declaring that Christians are holding back the power of Antichrist and Satan. It’s an assumption only.

Neither did Paul say that the Holy Spirit must be taken into heaven in order to let Antichrist loose. It seems to me more likely that when the Holy Spirit is “taken out of the way” (verse 7) God will simply be removing his restraining power from a (or the) man who would fulfill Satan’s will on earth, and from the “secret power of lawlessness”. He will stop restraining the flood of evil which He constantly holds back like a dam, even now. For that He does not need to leave the earth at all.

A relevant and instructive scripture passage which reveals an important principle of Scripture is found in Romans chapter 1. Paul writes here about a people who have so turned their back on God that He literally gives them over to their sin:

…since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done” (Romans 1:28).

We sometimes wonder why the wicked prosper, and why they get away with the things they get up to. Unfortunately for them, it may be because God has handed them over to their wickedness. In this case, what man regards as success may actually be God’s judgment. It’s the worst thing that could happen to anyone, because he or she no longer has the Holy Spirit of God drawing him and calling him, and he’s even less likely to find repentance and salvation in Jesus. At that point, Satan has successfully and totally blinded him to the truth, because in effect, he wants to be blind.

This is the intention of God for the tribulation. His purpose in the Tribulation is not to unite the godly with the wicked, but to cement the division between them, and to seal the wicked in their chosen fate:

They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness” (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).

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SEVEN YEARS-REALLY?

Second, according to several Bible passages, Antichrist will not be revealed to the world until the mid part of the Tribulation, at the time when he enters the temple and claims to be God (Matthew 24:15; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation 13:5-6). This, and not before, is the time when the restraining power of the Holy Spirit will be removed, mid -way through the assumed seven-year period-not before them! If believers really want to see the removal of the Holy Spirit as the event concurrent with and necessary for the rapture, they should perhaps consider themselves “mid-tribulation” believers.

Thirdly, we know the gospel will be preached during the Tribulation, and that there will be followers of Jesus, so we need to recognize that it’s not possible for the unbeliever to be regenerated without the work of the Holy Spirit:

…if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ he does not belong to Christ”… “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you” (Romans 8:9-11).

The fact is that you cannot come to Jesus-you are not saved from your sins or regenerated-without the Holy Spirit. You would not even begin to understand the things of Christ without the Holy Spirit:

The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:14).

How then can the saints during revelation become saints, hold to the testimony of Jesus Christ (Revelation 12:17) hold on to their faith through terrible persecution and a godless world and become fearless witnesses, without the Holy Spirit?

Moreover, this view of believers disappearing into heaven along with the Holy Spirit is a little selfish, isn’t it? Wouldn’t it be harsh, cold and un-loving for God to withdraw the only possible help from his Tribulation saints? The Spirit would be the only  comfort and strength available-assistance which they would surely need in order to deal with intense persecution and upheaval. According to the Pre-Tribulation theory, while the Tribulation saints are standing up to Antichrist and intense persecution the rest of us would be enjoying first class treatment and the luxury of heaven, in return for not having to stand up for the name of Jesus at all!

Finally, it’s undeniable that Paul told the believers in Thessalonica not to let anyone convince them that the day of the Lord had come, until Antichrist was revealed (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3). Jesus spoke of the same initial sign to his disciples (Matthew 24:15-21). He did not say anything like this: “Do not to worry about the Tribulation, because you will not be here when the Day of the Lord arrives”.

IF THERE’S A GOD, WHY IS THE UNIVERSE SO BIG?

Some people believe that the size of our universe disproves God. Whereas it was once thought that the solar system was the universe, we now know, they say, that even our entire solar system is as nothing against the backdrop of the cosmos…

File:NASA-HS201427a-HubbleUltraDeepField2014-20140603.jpg

All that space out there makes our tiny planet insignificant, say the skeptics, and therefore of no consequence. No intelligent God would make a planet so tiny in comparison to such a mindbogglingly huge universe.

For the life of me, I can’t see why this is seen as a good argument. The very same people would, were the universe only a little bigger than the earth, complain that there can’t be a God or the universe would be much bigger. That’s the way it is with those determined not to believe: they’re always looking for excuses not to believe.

The fact that the universe is so vast only demonstrates to us the immeasurable, infinite power of our creator. Why would an infinite God create a tiny universe? That wouldn’t make any sense. The size of what we see out there is an unmistakable sign to us that our creator is limitless. It’s there for his glory and pleasure. It’s there as a demonstration of his awesome nature and creativity. The “heaven of heavens cannot contain him” (1 Kings 8:27) and the New Testament tells us that he fills all things (Ephesians 4:10). There is no place in this universe where God is not. And since he created the universe-time, space and matter (Genesis 1:1) he must also be outside it and beyond it, and not subject to its laws.

Critics claim that the Bible is primitive in its understanding of the cosmos. It’s true that it isn’t a twenty-first century science manual, but it’s also true that no statement in the Bible contradicts true science. God’s intention was not to blind the reader with science but to help him understand that God is its author.

When we consider how unique is the earth in relation to anything we know of in our solar system and in our universe, we can’t honestly dismiss our planet as being “insignificant”. Its the most beautiful, incredible “speck” we know of. It’s far more significant than any other “speck” we know of. Life is only possible on it because of the many thousands of “fortuitous” conditions which meet perfectly here, and as far as we know, nowhere else.

Why is the earth so small in comparison to the rest of creation? Well, I don’t know about you, but as much as I’d like to see the world, I’ve only seen parts of it, because it’s just too big to get around, unless you happen to have the money and the leisure time available. God instructed mankind to “fill the earth”. He didn’t create it to be empty, but to be populated (Isaiah 45:18). We’re led to believe that the earth is overpopulated, but I once calculated that every person on the earth could fit in the tiny nation of Ireland, each with an area of something like a hundred square feet. Of course, they might not all get along, and they might get hungry, but the point is that the world is plenty big enough for its human population.

Earth is big enough for us-for now. The creator has a plan for it, and for everyone who is prepared to recognize him and choose him. You can find that plan towards the end of the book of Revelation. My own conviction and dream is that the universe will in the future be explored and colonized by that mass of humanity which has chosen to recognize and worship the creator. This dream fits the promise of eternal life, and it demolishes that stupid, condescending idea some people have that believers expect to be floating on a cloud and playing a harp for all eternity. God is big, and so are his plans for mankind.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3185261/Is-universe-FAKE-Physicists-claim-playthings-advanced-civilisation.html

TROUBLE

“Man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward”, observed Solomon. Sometimes, perhaps often, we all feel the same way about life…

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More recently, Bob Dylan wrote in his song “Trouble”

Trouble in the water, trouble in the air
Go all the way to the other side of the world, you’ll find trouble there.

I’ve written a lot on the subject of trouble and suffering in the past, but not enough on its ultimate source. The story of Job in the Bible is very sobering, but enlightening to anyone with open eyes and an open heart. Job suffered severely, and made the mistake of putting his suffering down to the conviction that God was picking on him:

“Will you never look away from me, or let me alone even for an instant?” (Job 7:19).

However, the testimony of the book of Job is that God was not “picking” on him-it was Satan. The devil was pouring out his hatred on Job. It’s true that God was allowing Satan to do that, and the question of “why” is examined in my posts on suffering*. The point here is that Job was blaming God, when it wasn’t God at all.

Moving into the New Testament, we find Paul, a man persecuted to death, and even now hated by many in and out of the Church, squarely blaming the one who Job didn’t even seem to be aware of:

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).

Paul counseled his followers to “Put on the full armor of God” in order to be able to combat the attacks of the evil ones (verse 11).

On a daily basis, our troubles come at us from the selfishness of other people, from the lies of bad and godless philosophy, from the consequences of the Fall, and from our own mistakes. When we drop our toast butter-side down on the floor it most likely isn’t because Satan himself arranged it. But ultimately our enemy is that enemy of God. Be aware of the fact, without being obsessed, and put on the armor, described in more detail in Paul’s letter.

* https://nickyfisher.com/2018/07/15/why-doesnt-god-stop-bad-things-from-happening/

EVIDENCE FOR GOD

Is there any evidence for the existence of God? It’s not “cool” or politically correct to ask such questions in our age, but I say “Ask”! And here I offer some (but not all) answers to the secret seeker…

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Consider first that there are three possibilities as to how we all got here. 1, We were created by a Creator; 2, We evolved; 3, We aren’t really here, we just think we are. Other evolution-related concepts such as “Pan-Spermia” (life evolved somewhere else in the universe and was then seeded on earth) are not really alternatives, since all life, wherever it came from originally, either evolved or was created .

I have no time for the third option: I’m here, and so are you. That leaves two possibilities. I’m convinced that if you’re in the evolution-from-nothing camp, you’re determined to be there, against all the available evidence to the contrary.

DESIGN

I see incredible design in all of nature. Out of the thousands of examples I could give, one of my favorites is a moth I saw late one night near where I live, under a bright light. It was on the ground with its wings fully open on the ground. It had a five-inch wingspan (12.5 cm), and on the back of each wing it had a large fake fearsome eye, so that you seem to be looking at a formidable, intimidating five-inch wide face. Presumably the moth has these “eyes” as self-defense to avoid being eaten. I asked myself how a moth would “evolve” those “eyes” for itself, even given millions of years. Why didn’t all its progenitors get eaten, and if they didn’t, why did it need the eyes?

When we look around at our world we see beauty everywhere, and things which fit and have meaning and purpose. We live, love and exist in a world of wonder, not a world of chaos. Science is not evidence against God, it’s evidence that God is The master scientist.

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INFORMATION

One strand of DNA, invisible to the naked eye, contained in each of the trillions of cells in our body, is packed with more information than a huge library of books. Where did that information come from? So called “simple” life forms are really incredibly complex: how did that first information arise out of nothing, or out of inanimate matter? Information has never been observed to come from nothing or from chaos, and so to believe it did is blind faith, not science. Researchers scan the skies for a radio message from space which, they are convinced, would confirm intelligent life out there, yet ignore the incredible message in plain view within life on earth, as seen in our DNA, in our brains, and in all of life.

 

O is for ORDER. The universe operates in a very orderly, lawful way, as does our own solar system and our own planet. The laws of nature hold all things together and allow us to exist and function. Sir Isaac Newton, whose laws of motion and gravity are still employable and were used to land man on the moon, attributed that orderliness to a Creator.

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ANTHROPIC PRINCIPLE

This principle, dismissed as mere “coincidence” by the evolutionist, demonstrates clearly that Earth is uniquely placed and equipped for life in our galaxy and in our solar system. It benefits from many hundreds-thousands-of extremely fortuitous conditions. As an example, if earth were tilted any more or less in relation to the sun, its temperature ranges would be too extreme to support life. If we didn’t have our moon, or if the moon were not at just the right distance from us and at just the right relative size with just the right orbital pattern, we would have no tides to keep the oceans alive and fresh, and there would be no life on earth. Earth’s magnetic field protects us from the harmful power of the sun’s radiation. Water is unique in many of its properties, enabling life to exist and continue.

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ORIGINS

Even famous evolutionists admit that they don’t know for sure how life evolved from non-life, and they’ve never seen it happen. Millions of people are convinced that life has been made, or almost made, in the laboratory: this is not the case. The Miller experiments made a few amino acids only. When the proverbial first living cell miraculously produced itself according to evolution theory, defying multitudes of natural obstacles, who did it mate with and what did it eat? I can much more easily believe in an intelligent creator than in a rock producing all the complexity we see.

There’s plenty of scientifically supportable reason to believe in the Biblical view of origins. Try http://www.icr.org for a start, or http://www.answersingenesis.org

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HUMAN HUNGER FOR GOD

Man has an inbuilt hunger for the spiritual, which explains the existence of many religions throughout history and in every culture. Religion is not always a product of superstition: perhaps superstition is born of  a natural longing for God, and the realization that there’s something much greater than us.

ATHEISM

The condition of atheistic societies to date has not been impressive or endearing. Atheistic philosophy has been the cause of far more evil in our world than any religion has. Hitler, in his book “Mein Kampf” expressed the need to “cleanse” the human race for the sake of “Mother Nature” and healthy human evolution. Also refer to the regimes of such men as Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. Once man sees no God to answer to, and no  fixed, objective standards of right and wrong, tyranny is the likely outcome, along with the degradation of the value of human life. We can see this at work in our world now. Please note I am not saying that every atheist is a “bad” person: they are usually no more evil than anyone else. Instead I’m demonstrating  that having a God-less society is not the answer to our problems.

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EMOTION

Most of our emotions would be superfluous and even detrimental if we were only here to contend with other life forms so as to emerge the winner (as we have, if we evolved). The God of the Bible made us in his image, and is himself a feeling, emotional being.

LOVE

Real love produces commitment, caring, empathy, loyalty, faithfulness and truthfulness. Where does love come from if not from a loving, faithful designer? How could chemical reaction and interaction alone-born of rock-produce love? When your significant other asks if you love her or him, do you reply that yes, you are currently experiencing some chemical and hormonal interactions, and as long as they occur you will stick around and refrain from killing and eating him or her? Love in today’s popular definition is a reductionist ploy with the aim of reducing our relationships to good vibes and temporary mutual use while the going is good. Godly love, as found in the Bible, is that which produces stable relationships, happy kids, and successful societies.

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JUSTICE

Our sense of justice is evidence that we were made by a just, moral God. If we “evolved” a sense of justice, why do we still have crime, war and murder, at every level of every society, no matter how many new laws and regulations are created? And why would or should we care anyway? The fact is that we recognize naturally in our hearts that there is such a thing as evil at large in our world, and that it needs to be controlled. This recognition was given to us by a God of justice.

AESTHETIC SENSE

We have an inbuilt appreciation for beauty and for all of creation, and not merely for our mate when we’re having sex, or for the food on our plate. We desire to be creative, to entertain, and to express ourselves, and we appreciate those who do so skillfully. We love art, music, literature, and all forms of recreation and creation. We imagine-often without any practical reason but the pleasure of it. We philosophize and think deeply (some of us do anyway).

SIN and EVIL

The Bible is right about human nature: just look around. You probably need look no further than the mirror, or your own family and friends.  Those who claim that people only abuse each other when they’re impoverished are often the same people who berate the ultra-rich for abusing the rest of us. If poverty were the cause of crime and terrorism, half of India and Africa would be in absolute turmoil. And if we evolved, why shouldn’t the rich abuse the rest of us, since life is all about the “survival of the fittest”?

EXPERIENCE

In the years I’ve been a Christian I’ve experienced God in many ways. This includes an acute awareness of His presence, a feeling of indescribable completeness at times, an inner peace and joy, and answered prayers. It’s important for me to remember those experiences and continuous states of mind, and not to let them be dismissed as mere superstition, hormonal balance or positive thinking. I’ve seen the difference made by the Spirit of God in people’s lives, in homes, and in areas of society where God has been allowed or invited in.

WHY ARE WE HERE?

I was listening to a song* by my favorite prog-rock band, “Yes”. The founding lead-vocalist and lyricist, Jon Anderson, is a super-talented man in my opinion, but in his attempt to address the reason for our existence, his view of life and eternity, which has been based on a New-Age style of thought, fell short of answering the question. Instead he sang that at some far-off future time (I’m paraphrasing) the reason for our existence will be made clear.

Ahem, Jon, excuse me, but the answer to our vital question, and the one which is all-too politically incorrect to ask these days, has already been made clear, and there’s no need to wait for another one. We weren’t made so that we could ultimately be gods or ascended masters, or so that we could find fulfillment for ourselves-although that certainly is an outcome of our willing submission-but to bring glory and pleasure to our creator:

“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being” (Revelation 4:11)”

When we accept our correct role in the grand scheme of things, and begin to live lives pleasing to our God, then and only then will we find fulfillment and meaning in our existence.

*The closing section of “Gates of Delirium”, on the album “Relayer”.

WHO MADE GOD?

To me, the idea that the universe created itself and ended up producing Beethoven’s Sonata NO.14 in C is the most ridiculous, preposterous idea that could be imagined. But a common question which believers in such ideas ask, in order to stump Christians, is “Who made God? Where did he come from?”

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When I was eight years old my fourteen year-old brother, who had a mechanic’s mind and not a scientist’s, asked me what I thought was at the end of the universe, and what was on the other side. If there was a brick wall, he said (jokingly) what would you see if you looked over it? We came up with some funny ideas, not knowing the current scientific understanding that there is no outside to the universe. There is no outside! Beyond the boundaries of our universe, there’s no space, no matter, and no time. There’s not even a McDonald’s restaurant!

The secular view until the 20th century was that our universe was eternal. The advent of the Big Bang theory brought a beginning, but it still sounded a little too much like creation, and with the knowledge that conditions had to be more than perfect in a multitude of ways to create life, multiverses have been invented. But not only is there no evidence of them, this isn’t even science, because a scientific fact is something which must be observable and which can be reproduced by experiment. This is philosophy; hypothesis; faith; hope; speculation. We can’t even see to the end of our own universe, let alone see outside of it, and we certainly can’t create a universe in the lab.

However, even if we imagine a multiverse scenario where a multitude of universes exist simultaneously, outside of those there’s nothing-not even space. So we might ask just how far this “nothing” goes on, and the strange answer is that it doesn’t go on, because nothing cannot go on. We can’t conceive this: surely even nothing is something, if only emptiness! And how far does that nothing go on-and what’s at the boundary of that? Does it go on endlessly? Considering an end to all material things; a boundary or a beginning, is a little like asking where God came from. We’re all up against….well…a brick wall.

If we imagine that there is an infinite number of universes, we should perhaps ask ourselves the question, “Where did the infinite number of universes come from?” If they were born from each other, where did the first one come from?  We’re now back to square one, wondering how that first universe came into being, and where it came from. Into what did it come to be, if there was nothing at all, not even emptiness? What exactly became our universe: nothing? Really? I can barely pick up one large rock, and that came from nothing? Surely, there must always have been something there, wherever “there” was.

We’re faced, then, with the fact that it’s no more logical to our minds to have a natural beginning to all things than it is to declare the following:

God is infinite, and never had a beginning! Nobody made God!

As limited as we are in our concept of infinity, we cannot escape it. Descartes, the famous French philosopher reasoned that we must have an innate; a built-in sense of infinity, because we do not experience it in our limited world.

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Humans have become very clever in many ways, but no matter how clever we become, there will always be some things we don’t know. If we did know everything, we would be God. Then, believing in evolution from nothing, we would have to declare that God came from nothing…! There’s the answer for you determined atheists out there!

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To the atheist, the universe created itself and expanded to its current size and shape. X billion years later, here we all are wondering where we came from (hence the multitude of religions, including evolutionism) composing symphonies, producing babies with billions of functional brain cells, and killing each other.

The first verse of the Bible states that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. In that one verse, written many centuries before Hubble and Einstein, we can see time, space and matter having a beginning. This God obviously had to be outside of space and time, and therefore infinite. This is the claim of Scripture: God had no beginning, and will have no end. It’s no more difficult to accept that than to accept that there was once nothing existing-or rather not existing-for ever.

The Bible also declares in many places that God “stretches out the heavens”. The Bible, which claims to be the word of God, was well ahead of the big-bang theory.

People have asked me, “Who made God?” or “Where did God come from?” in such a way as to expect me to drop my jaw in speechless consternation, and to proclaim in contrite submission that there must not be a God after all, we must have all evolved from nothing. However, the atheist is no nearer to understanding the origin of all things than I am to understanding the origin of an eternal God. Both atheist and theist alike are stuck with the twin questions of eternity and a first cause.

When I’m asked “Who made God?”, I first acknowledge that eternity is one thing I do not understand, and an eternal being is out of my league entirely. I don’t really understand where I came from, let alone an eternal God. He has not attempted to give an account of Himself to me, and He has no obligation to do so. If God tried to explain himself to me, I would not understand.

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Imagine attempting to explain to an ant how Einstein’s relativity works, or how an F-18 can fly at twice the speed of sound, or what inspired and enabled Beethoven to compose his Sonata No.14 in C. The ant, as far as we can tell, would probably not understand the answer, or even notice that we’re trying to tell him something, as he busily tugs on a twig or a grain of dirt. Our thoughts, words and activities are entirely beyond his little world. Similarly, there are things we humans just can’t comprehend, whether we like it or not. Eternity is one of those things. Perhaps that little ant would not be any more interested in what we’re trying to tell him, than we are interested in what God is already trying to tell us now…

Imagine also how the first century Jews felt when Jesus Christ said,

“Before Abraham was born, I AM…” (John’s gospel chapter 8).

 

(This post is a greatly edited version of the original, published February 4th 2011).

CREATION AND THE NARROW WAY

Have you been intimidated into thinking that if you were to confess to believing that God created, you would be the odd one out, and the object of universal scorn and derision?

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A Gallup poll conducted In May of 2012 found that in the United States forty-six percent of Americans hold the view that God created humans in their present form at some time within the last 10,000 years. About a third of Americans believe that humans evolved, but with God’s guidance; 15% say humans evolved, but that God had no part in the process. More broadly, some 78% of Americans today believe that God had a hand in the development of humans in some way, just slightly less than the percentage who felt this way 30 years ago http://www.gallup.com/poll/155003/Hold-Creationist-View-Human-Origins.aspx

I’M PROUD TO BE A WACKO

In the UK, my country of origin, it’s a commonly held view that too many Americans are “religious”, and that the US is the home of the Christian Fundamentalist wacko. It’s therefore not surprising to Brits that so many Americans are, in their view, “ignorant of the facts”, as represented in the Gallup poll. I’ll put it a different way: the United States as a whole has not abandoned its faith in the Biblical God while much of Europe has.

Despite all the determined efforts of evolutionists, atheists, the media and many in the education establishment to indoctrinate everyone into the ways of naturalism, many Americans have a lot more savvy and independence of thought when it comes to faith, and aren’t so easily swayed or brainwashed by those determined to get rid of the Christian God. On top of this, freedom-of-speech laws allow creationists and intelligent design ministries to thrive in the US, whereas in Western Europe there’s far more legal and political opposition to such ministries.

The common and caustic charge that creationists are ignorant and stupid is just a smoke screen-an obfuscation (my new favorite word) designed to hide the facts. While they’re fewer in number (because there’s resistance to their hiring and because they don’t get massive government funding and secular media backing as the priests of Darwin do) creationists are in many cases at least as well educated, credentialed and informed as evolutionists. It’s a matter of world-view, not one of who’s most intelligent.

Neither does a majority of scientists in a position of influence prove right: it only helps to dictate who will have the upper hand in public exposure and debate. Ultimately one with God is a majority. The earth belongs to God and not to his deniers, who are, after all, only tenants.

There’s a culture war going on: a spiritual battle for individual hearts and minds. It seems sometimes like the “nays” have it when it comes to God and creation, and that’s intimidating to many people. But those of us who’ve chosen to follow the clear evidence in nature, in scripture, and in empirical science (rather than philosophy without evidence posing as science) see it God’s way. We recognize that Jesus Christ said:

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few” (Matthew 7:13,14 ESV).