Tag: Faith

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.

What-is-truth02

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).

Advertisements

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”.

180px-Luca_signorelli,_comunione_con_gli_apostoli,_cortona

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.

534px-Bloch-SermonOnTheMount

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.

Ary_Scheffer_-_The_Temptation_of_Christ_(1854)

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.

403px-Johannes_op_Patmos_Jeroen_Bosch

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).

10865319-close-up-of-old-holy-bible-book

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).

448px-Siloe3

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/

 

11043126-dramatic-background--dark-sky-bright-light

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.

457px-B_Escorial_108v

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).

220px-Reggio_calabria_museo_nazionale_mosaico_da_kaulon

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”.