The following were on our church website so some may not have seen them here. I thought it might be good to review them now. I realize that by bringing out these "old" blogs I may offend some who hold opposing views. If so, I encourage you to read the next blog coming: A Better Way.
Pastor’s Blog Week of 11/23/09
End Times: Is Tribulation or Rapture, Ahead For The Church?
When the World Trade Towers were destroyed there were those who were quick to say that this event was the prophecy of the overthrow of Babylon fulfilled inferring that we are in the midst of the Great Tribulation. While this is easily refuted (more than seven years has gone by and Christ has not returned bodily to Earth), there continues to be much speculation about the relationship of prophesy and the days in which we live. A lot is being said in Christian circles about these being the end times with the inference that we are increasingly seeing prophecy fulfilled as we see increased violence, poor economic news and numerous natural disasters. Many in Evangelicals are still looking for the coming of Jesus Christ to rapture the Church to that great meeting in the air while others say that the events we now see will continue to progress, that the Anti-Christ will soon be revealed and that the Church needs to prepare for its role during the coming days of the Great Tribulation. The doctrines of the imminent return of Jesus Christ and the pre-tribulation rapture have lost their support even among respected Bible teachers who once held to their validity. The charge has been made that those who still hold to these doctrines have their heads in the sand falsely hoping that Christ will come to rescue them from the difficult days ahead. In many pulpits where the pre-tribulation was one strongly proclaimed, pastors are now saying “I don’t really know”. The time has come for us to stand strong in faith looking to Scripture and looking to that “Blessed Hope the Glorious Appearing of our Great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).
It is not surprising that the doctrine of the imminent return of Christ is being attacked alongside the doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture, because the doctrine of a post-tribulation rapture and the teaching of the imminent return of Christ cannot coexist. For imminent return to be true, nothing (including the Great Tribulation) can remain on the “prophetic clock” before the rapture. Critics say that the teaching of imminent return along with the teaching of the pre-tribulation rapture of the Church is something not known until the mid 1800’s therefore, they imply, it cannot be true. This argument, which is not a Biblical one, ignores the dominance of the Roman Catholic Church (and the Reformers who still accepted many of the Catholics Church’s teaching) which persecuted non-Catholic groups and suppressed their teachings from the 300’s onward. The truth of doctrine does not hinge on Church History but rather on Scripture, and from Scripture, we determine that the early believers did believe in the imminent return of Christ. This is evident from the epistles of Paul. In I Thessalonians 1:10 he commended the believers at Thessalonica for their resolve to wait for Jesus’ coming. In the remainder of the letter and again in II Thessalonians, Paul writes to comfort these believers who, because of the difficult trials they faced, had apparently thought that they had missed Christ’s coming and were in “the day of the Lord”, that time of great tribulation on the Earth. Paul never once told them they were wrong to expect the imminent return of our Savior, nor does he tell them to brace for the great tribulation, but he did tell them they were not “appointed to wrath” but to “deliverance” (I Thessalonians 5:9) for whether we be awake or sleep we will living together with Him (I Thessalonians 5:10). The doctrine of the imminent return is true and so consequently is the doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture.
The real importance in this issue is not the issue itself but how we are to live in the last days. Should we be bracing for the Great tribulation, storing up supplies so that we can be ready to share with unbelieving neighbors, winning them to Christ in a revival such as we’ve never seen before? Or should we be looking for Jesus’ soon return telling the Good News of the Gospel and warning of the days ahead? To expect the pre-tribulation rapture is not hiding our heads in the sand. We are not to do nothing, but rather are to live, watching and waiting, showing the evidence of Christ in all we do. This is what Paul told the Christians at Thessalonica (and us) for he followed the words of comfort with words of how we are to live. While the message of the pre-tribulation rapture is comforting as well as exciting, it is also very sobering. What about our friends and loved ones who will be left behind? We need to remember the imminent return of our Savior and redouble our efforts to reach those all around us who are lost and truly face the truly difficult days ahead.
Pastor’s Blog week of 11/30/09
The Greatest Revival Ever Seen
Just prior to the year 2000, the Christian community was inundated with reports of an upcoming economic collapse that would forever change things. We were warned that when January 1, 2000 arrived computers would fail, and that systems that depended on computers would shut down. Not only was the financial sector to be affected, but transportation, utilities, manufacturing facilities would be as well. Even one’s automobile would not operate properly because of technological failure. People were admonished to stockpile supplies to be ready for a disaster, which in fact, never occurred. While secular society did not seem too disturbed by these warnings, Christian leaders of all denominations were at the forefront of spreading the news. Some people gave up as much as their life savings to prepare for this event.
In the aftermath of such a non-event, we must consider why believers who look for Christ’s Coming would be so effected by these warnings. Where did these dire predictions originate? Who was behind their popularization? Why did they mostly affect the Christian community? While the origination of the predictions will probably never be clear, the whole affair was an embarrassment to the cause of Christ. Perhaps there was some obscure report in some scientific journal which was picked up by a news seeking media even though the bulk of the scientific community said the event would not happen, then, governmental officials got involved, contingency plans were made, and the public was told there was little to fear. Why then the hysteria in the Christian community? Did someone know something that secular society did not?
To answer the questions above, we need to understand who, in Christian circles were the ones who did the most to propagate this message of a coming collapse of society. Dave Hunt, in his book, Y2K A Reasoned Response To Mass Hysteria, gives us clues. Hunt points out that among the major proponents of this hysteria were those who believed that the Y2K disaster would be the impetus that would lead to the greatest spiritual revival ever seen. As Christians became prepared for this disaster, they would be able to share with their non-Christian neighbors, who would be led to Christ through this Christian generosity. While not all those who predicted this revival agreed, many felt that this event and the subsequent revival would bring about the return of Jesus Christ. Of course, Y2K proved to be a non-event hardly worth mentioning (and here I’ve spent nearly two paragraphs on it) except for the fact many of the same voices are being heard today as our world faces financial and political uncertainty .
As Post-Tribulation Rapture Theology grows in acceptance in Bible believing churches, so too is the idea that the present political and economic conditions will lead to the Great Tribulation. Consequently, it is taught, Christians need to prepare by stockpiling supplies so we will be able to share with our unsaved neighbors who will be saved in tremendous numbers because of our generosity (sound familiar?). The thought is expressed that those who believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture are being deluded into thinking that Christ will rescue them from the difficult days ahead and will be unprepared for the greatest revival this world has ever seen. The problem with this line of thinking is that it ignores what God has to tell us in His Word.
Jesus, in Matthew 24 had much to say about the coming Tribulation which will be a time as has never been and never again will be (Matt 24:21). In the description of these days, one can hardly see a believing Church sharing its goods and winning the unsaved world. Instead we see judgment and destruction where the inhabitants of that time are warned to flee. Verse 37 describes the coming time immediately proceeding the time of judgment as “the days of Noah”, a time of prosperity, not one of economic decline followed by complete destruction of those caught in it.
There is something else to note about Matthew 24:37. Jesus refers to this as the time Noah (and his family) was taken out before the destruction of the rest of the people of the earth. In the Gospel of Luke we have the illustration of Lot being taken out of Sodom before the destruction of that city. While those who believe in the Post-Tribulation rapture are quick to point out that believers are not guaranteed we will not go through tribulations, and that there are many examples in Scripture when believers went through hard times alongside the unbelievers (ex. Daniel during the Exile), Jesus, however, did not refer to any of these times when talking about the coming time of great Tribulation.. Instead, we see Jesus referring to a time of peace and prosperity ending with believers being removed being followed by judgment and total destruction.
Christ’s Church is called to look for His coming. We are not called to look for the time of His great wrath. In fact, we told we are not meant for this wrath but for deliverance for whether we be “…awake or asleep we should live together with Him” (I Thessalonians 5: 9&10). When Jesus is coming, we do not know. But the fact that He is coming is clear. Our call to win the lost has never been so urgent. The vast majority of those on the earth today face a Christ-less eternity with no guarantees for second chances for those who enter into The Great Tribulation. In fact, there will be a great delusion in that day, that they should believe a lie, and be condemned because they “…believed not the Truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (II Thessalonians 2:8-12). We need to be faithful –now! “…Now is the accepted time, behold now is the day of salvation” is God’s word to us in II Corinthians 6:2. Then again we are warned, “Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts…” (Hebrews 3:7&8).
Jesus can come at any time. We are not told to wait for the Great Tribulation first. The only thing that delays His Coming is that He is “…longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Peter 3:9). Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus, looking for His coming. Who knows what opportunities are ahead? Let’s pray that the Lord of the harvest will grant a great revival before He comes.