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FOR TWENTY-EIGHT YEARS I WAS A FIERCE PROPONENT AND DEFENDER OF THE “PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE”, UNTIL MY EYES WERE OPENED. WAKE UP NOW, CHRISTIAN BELIEVER, BECAUSE MANY OF US HAVE BEEN FOLLOWING FAULTY THEOLOGY…!

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We as believers all want to be “snatched up” to heaven before things get too rough on planet earth. The reality, however, is that things have been “too rough” for many millions of believers around the world for centuries, including this present one. In seeking clarity of conviction upon my twenty-eighth year of Bible-believing Christianity, at the time of the ascent of ISIS in the Middle-East, I came to the realization that what I had been taught and convinced of was not really supported by deep, honest Bible study.

Here then is a first installment of what I’ve discovered for myself- an excerpt from my book published in paperback and electronic form (see details at the bottom of this post*).

CHAPTER 2: NOT APPOINTED TO WRATH?

Usually the first subject to come up in any discussion on the timing of the rapture is the wrath of God. The whole idea of there being a wrathful God is very much out of fashion in our “post-truth”, relativistic age; in our easy-living and supposedly “tolerant” Western culture. But no true Bible believer can doubt that there is coming, sooner or later, a time of wrath on sinful mankind, when our Creator will finally put the brakes on all rebellion and godlessness in the human realm, and in the spiritual realm also. Such wrath will fall on the world during a time the Bible calls “The day of the Lord”. And since the day of the Lord is normally equated with the entire tribulation among Christians and with the entirety of a seven year period of prophesied events, the obvious expectation to many people is that believers will not be around during that time to suffer any of that wrath. Since Christians are forgiven of their sins and are promised eternal life, they will surely not be the recipients of God’s wrath. But does the tribulation-a specific time of God’s intervention on the earth just before the visible return of Jesus Christ-automatically mean wrath for every mortal living at the time?

The most common defense of the pre-tribulation rapture position is taken from Paul’s phrase, “God has not appointed us to wrath” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). Adherents are most likely to quote this verse as what they believe to be an unarguable, clinching piece of Biblical evidence that believers will be taken away before the beginning of the tribulation: one which should silence any opposition. God, being a God of love, “has not appointed us to wrath”, and so he will obviously be taking us to heaven before the tribulation-the time of trouble and distress- begins.

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Evangelical end-times prophecy interpretation almost unanimously calls for a seven year period of upheaval and trouble world-wide. During this time the “man of sin” or “man of lawlessness”, also known as “Antichrist”, will persecute and generally rage against God and anyone “left behind” by the rapture, so  people assume that the entirety of this coming seven year period entails an outpouring of God’s wrath from beginning to end and in all corners of the world, starting from the very first minute. Therefore, they say, people who get “left behind” by the pre-tribulation rapture are either nominal believers, or folk who knew something about the gospel of Jesus but failed to respond to it in time for the rapture, or others who just didn’t hear the gospel before it was too late.

It’s true that Paul was discussing end-times events with the Thessalonians when he wrote that God has not appointed us to wrath, but let’s put this phrase from Paul’s letter into its proper context. The complete verse which contains this much-used phrase reads thus:

For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ “ (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

In this verse Paul was contrasting the wrath of God with salvation-not announcing a pre-tribulation rapture.

Before we consider the slightly wider context of the passage, let’s look at something Jesus himself said which is similar but very instructive:

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him” (John 3:36).

Jesus, using the same Greek word translated “wrath” as the one Paul used in his letter to the Thessalonians, was stating that salvation from sin is found in the Son of God, but anyone who rejects that salvation is already permanently under the wrath of God. The wrath Jesus was speaking of was eternal judgment and separation from God, not the onslaught of suffering in this life or of tribulation events.

Now let’s go back to Paul’s letter. In chapter 4 Paul begins to discuss the coming of the Lord. He wants the church to have hope in seeing their loved ones in the Lord again, and writes about how Jesus will “come down from heaven”. At that point the dead will be resurrected, then living believers will be changed and will meet Jesus and their risen loved ones in the clouds. Paul notes that those in the Thessalonian church are not in the same darkness as unbelievers, and that therefore the day of the Lord would not come upon them like a thief (verse 4). Then comes the much-misused verse:

For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 9).

Paul is  contrasting wrath with salvation from sin, just as Jesus was. That’s the primary focus.

In a similar way, Paul told the Ephesian church that when they were “dead in trespasses and sins” in their un-saved life, and when they were following “the prince of the power of the air”, they were “children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Ephesians 2:1-3 ESV). In contrast, he said, God “made us alive together with Christ” because of his mercy (verse 4).

There’s no discussion of end-times events here, and the wrath of God’s tribulation did not fall in the first century. The intended point is the contrast between being saved from our sin nature, and remaining an object of wrath. Again, the Greek word translated “wrath” in this Ephesians verse is the same as that used in Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians.

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Yes, Paul’s subject in Thessalonians concerns being ready for the day of the Lord”, but his way of being ready and of avoiding God’s wrath is salvation from sin through faith in Jesus Christ. If we put this much-used phrase into its proper context we see that Paul was contrasting wrath with salvation from sin-not announcing a pre-tribulation rapture. People can be prepared for the day of the Lord by obtaining salvation in Jesus. In this way, in this eternal sense, true believers are delivered from God’s wrath, and will never suffer it.

Bad events in the lives of true believers are never from the wrath of God, and never will be. They’re just evidence that we’re all human, and subject to the consequences of the Fall, of the actions of others and our own mistakes. In fact, believers are free of God’s wrath even if they lose their lives violently at the hands of men. That’s why Jesus said:

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul…” (Matthew 10:28).

Antichrist will persecute and kill “saints” during the tribulation, according to Revelation, but this will not be from the wrath of God-it will be the result of man’s wrath and of the devil. No-one but God has any power over the souls of his saints.

Consider the Thessalonian believers of the first century. They died, did they not? They’ve been dead for almost two thousand years, and they didn’t get raptured while alive. But in their deaths they did not, and will not, suffer the wrath of God, but had already found eternal salvation through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

PERSECUTION DOES NOT COME FROM THE WRATH OF GOD. SUFFERING, EVEN IN REVELATION, DOES NOT ALWAYS COME FROM THE WRATH OF GOD

God’s will is not, and never has been, to always deliver us from suffering in this world. In the opening chapter I mentioned the suffering inflicted on many Christians by ISIS in Middle Eastern countries. You can study the history of the Church and find countless examples of suffering inflicted on Christians, including death and torture. These people were not under the wrath of God, they were under the wrath of man, and no doubt sometimes the wrath of Satan. Even in our present day there are many believers around the world in prison and under threat from those who hate the gospel of Jesus. Jesus warned his disciples this would happen:

They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service (John16:2KJV).
God’s plan is to deliver us from the eternal consequence of sin. This consequence is eternal separation from him, which is far worse than temporary physical suffering, and Christians have been persecuted throughout history. Not only that, but Christians have also been among the victims of plague, war, famine, natural disasters, sickness and the outcome of the Fall, just as non-believers have, and will continue to be subject to these things until the resurrection and the rapture occur.

Whatever you think of those tribulation saints found in the book of Revelation, living through the time of tribulation, it’s important to see that even though they’re God’s people, they will be persecuted and martyred (Revelation 12:17; 20:4). However, persecution and martyrdom do not come from the wrath of God: far from it. In fact, those martyred during the tribulation will be considered to be blessed, not cursed:

Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on” (Revelation 13:12-13. See also 14:12 and 20:4).
It seems abhorrent to us in the West to consider that God would allow his people to suffer persecution, but unfortunately, that’s the history of the Church, the condition of many of our brothers and sisters around the world today, and the testimony of scripture.

*THIS POST IS AN EXCERPT FROM MY BOOK, “ALL LEFT BEHIND: THE CASE AGAINST THE PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE”, BY NICHOLAS FISHER, AVAILABLE ON AMAZON, PAPER-BACK AND E-BOOK. THE NEXT EXCERPT WILL CONTINUE FROM THIS POINT.

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A couple of weeks ago I discussed very briefly the three main theories humans use to attempt to explain our existence. A fourth, one which I dismissed from consideration, is that we aren’t really here at all-we only think we are. If we don’t exist, you’re not really reading this post, so there’s no point in imagining that you’re reading it, because it doesn’t exist anyway…

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I concluded, based on tangible evidence, that we do exist and that we’re here because God created us. We didn’t get here on this planet because aliens “seeded” us here, and we didn’t develop in some fantastical evolution from nothing. We were created, by a being far above our own abilities and perception. Today I’ll consider what that God must be like.

The farther astronomers look into space, the more they see. The closer researchers look into cells and living systems, the more mind-boggling features, processes and detail they discover. The longer we as individuals live, the more beauty we recognize. There seems to be no end to what we can discover and experience in this incredible world and universe-there’s only a limit and an end to the time we have to explore and enjoy it.

Since the universe is this way, and since things do not create themselves and do not arise and develop from disorder, we must conclude, if we’re honest with our reasoning and logic, that what we see, feel, hear, taste, smell and otherwise spiritually detect with our senses comes from what God has created. The fact that we have the ability to test, enjoy and benefit from the world around us is one evidence that God is gracious, generous, kind and loving to enable us to experience these things, and to interact with our environment and with each other. We would not even know that the universe outside our immediate surroundings existed if we didn’t have the eyes to see, the bodies to move, and the brains to comprehend what’s there.

For such a universe to exist, God must be a sovereign being. There could be no order and consistency if there were many gods vying for supremacy and having different ideas about how things should be. Just look at the mess of our political scene as a contrary example, or at the Greek Pantheon and its constant quarrels and childish actions and reactions. The real God is One, and is supreme.

The creator must be eternal and unlimited by time. He created time along with other things. Einstein concluded that time and space are inseparable, and that you can’t have matter without time and space also. Perhaps unwittingly, he was confirming the first verse of the Bible, which states that “In the beginning (time) God made the heavens (space) and the earth” (matter). The three had to come into existence simultaneously, and of course, secular scientists have had to incorporate the three together in their “big-bang” theory. But the Bible said it first-a long time ago. So to create time, space and matter, God must be outside of it all: apart from it and above it, and not subject to it.

God must be able to control  the universe and all it its constituent parts. That makes him omnipotent-all powerful, and omnipresent-everywhere. And so all the order we see in the universe-the precise order of the planets and their movements in our galaxy, all depending as they do on the order and consistency of the sun’s power, is evidence, as Isaac Newton concluded, that God is unfathomably intelligent, ordered and powerful, and is in fact The master mathematician and The master scientist.

The integrity of God’s design speaks of the integrity of his character. He is faithful, consistent and committed. Just as the universe hasn’t changed in its operations, laws and principles, so God must be unchanging.

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When we look around at our own world, we see beauty which constantly astounds and amazes us. This makes God not only the master of beauty, but beautiful in his nature. Beauty can only be created by beauty.

When we consider the terrible things that man inflicts on his own kind, we see the patience and mercy of God in action, because the all-powerful God, who created what we damage and destroy, endures it all- at least, for now.

As we know, large numbers of people deny the existence of God, or they twist and deny his character as expressed in creation. The apostle Paul wrote about the clear evidence for God all around us. He declared that there’s no excuse for denying His existence and His nature:

“For 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 His workmanship, so that men are without excuse” (Romans 1:19-20).

The real truth is that God is far above any words we have available to us, and any power of imagining we can conjure up. God is great. Glory to his Name.

There will be a part 2 to this post, coming soon…

When I was a kid and a teenager-many moons ago-it was not uncommon to hear people say that we needed some sort of supreme authority over the world; someone who would take control of those politicians who were messing everything up, and make the world a just place for all. This dream and hope has only grown over the decades, until now we have some very influential people openly using their positions to try to bring it about. As someone famous said not too long ago, if you don’t have borders you don’t have a nation…

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That, of course, is the goal of many now in positions of power: they don’t want nation states anymore. They want us all to be “world citizens”. For the most part, their goal up to now has been worked toward surreptitiously, by maintaining the outward appearance of nation states but by demolishing the sovereignty and independence of those states. Just look at the EU, already a pre-global governance power, with some in its sway only now waking up to what has been going on.

This dream of removing the “ancient boundary stones” and founding a supreme power over all assumes that the ultimate human authority will be a just and fair one: a very large and very optimistic assumption. But if it’s not just and fair, who would we go to to remedy the situation? Most of us already see our governments as being out of touch, out of reach and uncaring, and making a lot of wrong decisions. We think that because for the most part it’s true. And even when we do get a politician who cares about the people and who isn’t self-serving, he’s smothered by other politicians and media people who want to maintain the status quo and the direction dictated by their own agenda.

There’s one thorny little problem in the whole idea of achieving a just and fair society: human nature. From the very first spat and assertion of one man’s will over another, as imagined in my previous post, “WHERE FREEDOM IS”, human government has been attempting to consolidate power and influence: what good has it done us up to this point? When do we ever, ever ever ever ever, ever ever ever…(for any length of time) get a government which is fair and just? The answer is “never”. So what makes anyone think a world government is going to be any better?

We’re told by those who would benefit-so they think-from consolidation, that just and enlightened elites, with a little help and guidance from the media who are now really another branch of government, not elected and unaccountable, will choose leaders who will be just and wise and fair and beneficent, and so everything will work out. Plato had that idea-2500 years ago. He said that a just society should be controlled and led by an elite band of philosophers, all-wise and all-knowing decision makers, while the rest of us -essentially the working rabble-carry out their will and roll around in unending joy, satisfaction and ecstasy. Kant and Hegel also were convinced that humanity would eventually come up trumps. I intend no pun here, because our current president, bravely battling the movement towards world authority almost alone, is definitely not what they hoped for, hence the frenzy of hatred and falsehoods against him.

Has it happened yet? Have the elites come up trumps-ever? Do you really think it will happen? Some people of the John Lennon variety actually do. They think that humans are basically good, and that we only need to have the right conditions and the right leaders, and Utopia will be achieved. Good luck with that.

If we think government is out of touch and out of range and out of control now, what makes us think that a world body will be any less so? Surely, it will be more out of touch, more out of control, more monolithic, more elite and aloof? Not only so, but huge decisions will be made by those totally out of our reach which will not be in our interests.

Scripture envisions, predicts and prophesies just such a world authority in which the enemy of society (there always has to be an “enemy” to deflect criticism of government) will be the Christian, and the Jew. Such a view is already present within the United Nations, and within the movement pushing for an end to borders and national sovereignty.

Multitudes of people write off the promise and hope of eternal life, and meaning in this one, with one stroke of their closed minds. Why? Because they choose to write off the existence of an eternal and meaningful God…

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He isn’t peering through the clouds, he didn’t fix things up with their desired lover, he didn’t make all their lottery numbers come up at the right time as repeatedly requested, and the world is in a terrible mess. As if that weren’t enough to make them want to ignore the concept of God, it seems that all the people with power and influence are either agnostic or atheistic, and they must be right-right? Haven’t scientists demonstrated, for example, how some cells reproduce themselves, in which case, there’s no God making them? On one level I understand this thinking, apart from the fact that it really isn’t thinking-on any independent level.

It seems to me that we’re here-we exist. Descartes figured that one out many moons ago, and I’m sure he wasn’t the first. Amusingly, even the fact of our existence is questioned by some people determined to remove all meaning from the world.

We’re here. That seems pretty clear to most of us. But how did we get here? Did some alien race “seed” us here? Did we evolve, or did God create us? These are the most realistic options.

If we were seeded here on this planet by aliens, where did the aliens come from? Didn’t they also have to come from somewhere? Didn’t there have to be some point in time when life began and was not “seeded”? The alien race hypothesis is a total flunk, with no evidence whatsoever.

If we evolved, where’s the evidence? Ask yourself what evidence you have personally seen for evolution. What have you seen evolve from one thing into another? What physical, tangible evidence have you seen that one type of creature changed into another? Have you ever witnessed life arising from non-life? The half-baked “evidence” of bacteria developing a resistance to something proves nothing, because bacteria remains bacteria: all it’s doing is surviving and adapting, as it was designed to do.

Perhaps you like to rest in the knowledge that “all scientists” believe in evolution in the Neo-Darwinian style, and that they possess all the evidence you need that we came from the slime. No, it isn’t true that “all” scientists believe in Neo-Darwinian evolution, or even that they all believe in evolution at all in the sense of one creature gradually turning into another. But given that the majority do, does a majority prove Darwin’s tree of life, picturing life forms developing over time? Could it not be that that majority not only began their careers already wishing to sweep away the notion of God, and that they continued in that vein in order to pass exams, get degrees, get a job, gain tenure, and maintain their positions and incomes without being written off for insanity or heresy? Could it not be that they were willingly indoctrinated and brainwashed into an unproven hypothesis? Is a majority always right? Do we have to follow the herd? Do we have to go with the flow of godless thought like a bunch of obedient unquestioning sheep?

Failing the “evidence” test for evolution, the final and most logical option explaining our apparent existence is that there really is a God-a creator. Cells reproduce themselves because they were designed to do that. The universe is a beautiful, intricate, rich and orderly place because it was created by an even more beautiful, intricate, rich and orderly God. We are amazingly complicated and intelligent creatures because there is an even more complicated and intelligent being who made us: one who is immortal, eternal, and who had no beginning. Don’t sweep him away.

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