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.

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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.

AXING DARWINISM

Just as our ruling media and education establishments dictate what we should believe about politics, so they sway the masses on the subject of origins also.

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I was reading a book by Steven Meyer called “Darwin’s Doubt” (1). Meyer received a PhD from the university of Cambridge in the philosophy of science after working as an oil industry geophysicist. He’s a proponent of “Intelligent Design”, and such people aren’t out to validate Biblical creation. Indeed some of them are not Christians, but simply want to research and draw attention to the reasons for their conviction that nature has been designed, and didn’t just come about by random processes. While I’m a young-earth creationist myself, I find Meyer’s works fascinating and inspirational.
The one thing that’s struck me most while reading “Darwin’s Doubt” is that the majority of evolutionists (though not all) when confronted with, or upon discovering facts that put a wrench right in the middle of the cogs of neo-Darwinism, just start building other cogs. They have no intention of backing out of their faith in naturalism, no matter what obstacles they encounter. After all, they don’t want to lose their funding, their jobs, respect among their peers, and their hope in total annihilation without judgment. Meyer’s honesty and willingness to search for truth rather than to bury it, incurring a considerable amount of opposition and ostracism, impress me. If only more were man (or woman) enough to do the same.
Meyer’s book is a little difficult to follow in places: it’s semi-technical. But I’d like to relate one of his experiences here.
Meyer described research carried out in the early years of the new millennium by secular chemical engineer Douglas Axe, and Alan Fersht, a professor at the University of Cambridge. It revealed the rarity of proteins in genetic sequence space, and therefore the incredibly long odds against any mutation along with natural selection ever finding a functional protein to act on. These results along with other equally stunning research results, in the words of Meyer, demonstrate that no “Neo-Darwinian scenario for producing a new gene is at all plausible”.
Axe’s research was peer-reviewed and published in the “Journal of Molecular Biology” in 2004.

Later that same year Meyer published a peer-reviewed scientific article in a biology journal called “Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington”, published out of the Smithsonian Institution. The paper was about the Cambrian explosion and the problem (for neo-Darwinian evolution) of the origin of the biological information needed to explain it. Meyer cited Axe’s results, explaining why the rarity of functional proteins in sequence space posed a severe challenge to neo-Darwinism.
However, because Meyer also suggested intelligent design as an explanation to the origin of biological information, a “firestorm of controversy” followed. Museum scientists and evolutionary biologists from around the country were furious with the journal and its editor for allowing the article to be peer-reviewed and published. After a lengthy smear campaign the editor was demoted. One of the rumors designed to destroy him was that he had no degrees in biology. The truth is that he has two Ph.D’s, one in evolutionary biology and one in systems biology. And you were led to believe that Neo-Darwinian evolution was all conclusively proven and supported entirely by unbiased scientists, weren’t you!
Meyer related on radio how his book received one-star reviews (the lowest rating possible) on Amazon, by people who obviously hadn’t taken the trouble to read it, almost before it was published. However, he has since aroused considerable scientific interest. He’s also written a sequel which answers critics of Darwin’s Doubt.

Darwin’s Doubt discusses and names some scientists-including evolutionists-who are now questioning Neo-Darwinian evolution, and who are searching for other explanations for life. Isn’t it ironic that while some honest scientists and evolutionists are questioning Darwin, the Church is inviting him in!

NOTE 1
“DARWIN’S DOUBT: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design”, by Stephen C Meyer. Published by Harper One.