Dispensationalism - What is it???

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Dispensationalism - What is it???

Postby natman » Fri Aug 03, 2007 6:58 pm

I have been struggling for the last year and a half with a doctrine that is taught at the church we are currently attending.

That topic is "Dispensationalism".

I have been asking everyone I know if they can explain how someone might come to accept a dispensational view of theology and particularly eschatology.
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Postby arom » Fri Aug 03, 2007 9:59 pm

Just a few points to chew on.

Dispensationalism is a fancy way of saying God worked his will though out history.

He progressively revealed more about himself to man as mankind as a culture grew.

God's progressive revelation started with Adam in the Age of Innocence and is finished with Jesus Christ and the New Testament.

That does not mean God does not work actively in this Age of Grace, He can and He does.

The Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God.

We currently live in the Age of Grace, which is also the age of the church.

Now the end times...that is an entirely different topic. Let me put something together.
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Re: Dispensationalism - What is it???

Postby bn2bnude » Fri Aug 03, 2007 10:54 pm

natman wrote:I have been struggling for the last year and a half with a doctrine that is taught at the church we are currently attending.

That topic is "Dispensationalism".

I have been asking everyone I know if they can explain how someone might come to accept a dispensational view of theology and particularly eschatology.


I have pretty much discarded the dispensational concept, largely because I don't see a precedence for it in the scriptures without manipulation of scripture. I realize this is stepping on a few toes but I just can't buy into the concept.

From what I see, there are two major views of the way God has dealt with Man. One view is Covenantally, the other is dispensationally. While not too different in segmentation, I've personally come to the conclusion that a Covenanental view better describes the God and Kingdom of God I believe in.

There is an excellent comparison here: http://reformed-theology.org/html/c-vs-dis.htm

In my case, I grew up without thinking about it until High School/College. At the time I was introduced to a Dispensational viewpoint, it made a lot of sense, especially when looked at within the context of a pre-tribulation/pre-millennial viewpoint. My problem is that as I have moved from a pre-trib view, the dispensational theology makes less and less sense.

Another site I found that contrasts the views well is http://www.xenos.org/essays/covdisp.htm.

Granted, neither is an unbiased view I suspect.
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Dispensationalism

Postby arom » Fri Aug 03, 2007 11:15 pm

The key verse relating to the end times is 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17.

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of {the} archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord” (NASB).

I uploaded to papers online. They are:

at http://arom.office-on-the.net/

Enjoy reading. I will enjoy this discussion.

However - in everything remember the only thing that matters is the Jesus Christ! I teach that God has created many denominations in His church with many ideas and one thing that links them all. Their belief in Jesus Christ, God in the Flesh.

Well that and a belief there is ONE God (Deut. 6:4-5) - The Trinity. A number of "Christian" faiths teach there are more than one God.
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Re: Dispensationalism

Postby bn2bnude » Fri Aug 03, 2007 11:26 pm

arom wrote: ...
However - in everything remember the only thing that matters is the Jesus Christ! I teach that God has created many denominations in His church with many ideas and one thing that links them all. Their belief in Jesus Christ, God in the Flesh.

Well that and a belief there is ONE God (Deut. 6:4-5) - The Trinity. A number of "Christian" faiths teach there are more than one God.


Agreeed.

One other thing to add to my post above.

The thing that really spun me around the corner was two years ago during a "read the Bible in A Year" program. As I read through the Old Testament, I expected to see a lack of grace. Through out, however, I saw non-stop Grace. From the way King David was remembered (I Chron. mentions only his sin with Bathsheba) to Israel as a whole, taking them back time after time, even when they were not fully committed to him.

That in contrast to the dispensational view that I was taught (I don't know if this is the current dispensational viewpoint or not -- it seems like many other theologies, including the convenants, there are shifts in the current view).

God is a God of Grace and Love. He proves that throughout the Bible.
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Postby arom » Fri Aug 03, 2007 11:48 pm

bn2bnude, you are not stepping on any toes here. We are imperfect human beings. While I subscribe to my point of view, you are welcome to yours. God knows the answer, not us.

I disagree with your statement
I have pretty much discarded the dispensational concept, largely because I don't see a precedence for it in the scriptures without manipulation of scripture.

I would charge that Reformation/Covenant Theology does that by allegorizing Scripture to make the prophecies to the Nation of Israel apply to the church. Either the Bible says and means what it says or it does not.

However, the one point I can never accept from a covenant theologian is the doctrine of reprobation. God is not and never has been the author of evil.

In very simple terms, election is God’s selection of individuals for salvation before (or in conjunction with) creation based on nothing other than God’s grace. Reprobation, on the other hand, implies that as God selected some for salvation, He also has selected some people for eternal damnation. Again based on nothing that person does or will do in his life.

For God to “elect” certain people for redemption, while at the same time select others for reprobation, ignores the proposition that God is omniscient and knows all things. For God, the past, present and future all exist at the same time (cf. Rev. 1:8). Time is a result of the decay of matter, and since God created everything (Gen. 1:1; John 1:3; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:2), in a sense, God created of time. Thus as its creator God exists above or outside of time.

As the creator of time, God knows what man will do before he was even born (cf. Jer. 1:5)—not because man’s actions were foreordained in times past, but because for God the future is the same as the present and the past. God’s elect are selected based on their free will decision to put faith in Jesus Christ; just as those condemned to Hell are condemned based on their decision to reject Christ (cf. John 3:16-21).

The Southern Baptist Theologian Wayne Grudem (and Reformation Theologian) refers to a decision that God made in eternity past thus implying that God is understood in the framework of time.

God invented time with creation—God’s Decree; His perfect plan was complete with Creation.
This is not a works based salvation; nor is it easy believism. Just as in the Old Testament people were saved by putting their faith in God to save them, people in the New Testament Age of Grace are saved by putting their trust in Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, who came to save the world!

<My>

by the way - I am not sure what form of dispenstational theology you were originally introduced to, but God's unmerited Grace to man if found throughout Scripture. We are saved by our Faith and God's Grace. This has never changed from the Age of Innocence to the Age of Grace we live in now. And it will not change in the future.
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Postby bn2bnude » Sat Aug 04, 2007 9:02 am

arom wrote:I would charge that Reformation/Covenant Theology does that by allegorizing Scripture to make the prophecies to the Nation of Israel apply to the church. Either the Bible says and means what it says or it does not.

However, the one point I can never accept from a covenant theologian is the doctrine of reprobation. God is not and never has been the author of evil.


On the whole, this is one of the struggles I have with any sort of theological systems, no matter which one it is. Because we are human, we can not fully comprehend God but each of these systems tries to define God in a way that is understandable to the developer of the system as well as the culture around them.

This is not necessarily wrong but, to adhere to it when it contradicts what the Bible says is wrong.

I am not trying to be a reformational theologian or really any other camp. I am trying to do my best to understand God in light of the Bible itself.
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Postby natman » Sat Aug 04, 2007 10:23 am

I do not have a problem with Dispensationalism as it refers to breaking up past history into various segments based on God's dealings with man. I also do not have a problem with covenant theology doing the same. However, IMHO, neither do an adequate or thorough job and we get a better picture when we combine the two. Like bn2bnude, I see that God has acted gracefully toward man from the fall forward.

The problem I have with Dispensationalism is that I cannot for the life of me see the separation of Israel (God's chosen people) and the Church. As it relates to God, I see only two groupings of people; those that are saved though faith in God, either looking forward to their coming Messiah, the seed of Eve that would crush the head of the serpent, or looking back at the Messiah's (Jesus') work on the cross, (God's chosen people); and those that are condemned because they have refused the grace of God. I do not see three grouping of people, the above PLUS the Jews.

I see one final return of Christ at the end of time on the Day of the Lord in which all (everyone who has ever lived) will rise from the dead (the resurrection) and together with the all of those living at that time be judged, some to eternal damnation and some to eternal life, transformed, with incorruptible physical bodies (the combination of the resurrection and the transformation are often referred to as the "rapture") to live eternally on a restored, uncorrupted Earth and in the continual presence of our Lord, Jesus. I do not see Jesus descending part way down to collect only the "saints", then returning to Heaven for a 1000 years celebration while all Hell breaks out on earth.

I believe that the verses that are typically used by Dispensationalists to support are typically taken out of context. 1 Thes 4 is describing the final resurrection and transformation of the saints. It is stated with apocalyptic imagery borrowed from the Old Testament prophets ("descending form Heaven", "descending on clouds" etc are OT references for "coming in judgement") and alludes to an image the Thesalonians would have been familiar with; that of citizens rushing out to greet a returning king or army in order to accompany them back into the city.

The other major area I have trouble with is in Dispensational Christians ACTIVELY aiding in the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem and the re-institution of Temple sacrifice. Whether this ever happens or not is beside the point. The "Jews" may indeed someday reclaim the Temple mount, rebuild the Temple and reinstitute Temple sacrifice. However, Christians should in no way encourage nor be a part of doing something that denies the sufficiency of Christ's death on the cross as the final propitiation for all of man's sins (Heb 9). We are warned against such "turning away" or turning back to the Law and the sacrificial system in Gal 2, Gal 5, Heb 6, Heb 8 and Heb 10.

One final area I have problems with is the Dispensationals assertion that they always interpret scripture "literally". Although there are many areas of scripture that definitely should be taken literally, the Bible is written with many other literary styles including poetic, metaphoric, simile, historic, parabolic and, yes, allegoric. For example, Jesus was obviously speaking allegorically when He said "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days." (John 2:19) The Jews He was addressing thought He was speaking literally when they replied, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?" John goes on to say, "But the temple he had spoken of was his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. Then they believed the Scripture and the words that Jesus had spoken."

We can see obvious use of simile in areas such as Rev 1:13-16, when it describes Jesus with a double-edged sword coming out of His mouth. No one believes that Jesus will literally have a sword sticking out of His mouth; or when describing the beast as a "an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads." (Rev 12:3). This description obviously carries deeper meaning.

Jesus uses hyperbole and apocalyptic imagery to describe the distress immediately after the destruction of Jerusalem and it's Temple in Matt 24:29 when He says "Immediately after the distress of those days 'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken." Can you imagine the consequences of a star, literally a distant sun, colliding with the planet Earth?
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Postby natman » Sat Aug 04, 2007 10:35 am

arom wrote:However, the one point I can never accept from a covenant theologian is the doctrine of reprobation. God is not and never has been the author of evil.


This is a bit off topic since we are talking about "Dispensationalism" here, however, covenant theologians typically do NOT hold to the premise that God is the author of evil ("double predestination"). Although God selects some to eternal salvation, He does not select the rest to eternal damnation. They do that on their own by nature if their free will and their disposition toward sin. An excellent resource on this topic is the book, "Chosen by God", by Dr. R.C. Sproul.
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Postby Strandloper » Sun Aug 05, 2007 3:46 pm

Nathan wrote: “Christians should in no way encourage nor be a part of doing something that denies the sufficiency of Christ's death on the cross as the final propitiation for all of man's sins . . .”

Amen to that, Nathan.
And people tend to ignore the fact that Jesus’ entire message arose out of the apocalyptic tradition, one which is hardly reflected in the Bible (two books, one in the Old Testament, one in the New, and a passage in certain of the Gospels).
I certainly cannot conceive of Jesus literally “speaking” a double-edged sword. But it is an image widely used in heraldry to symbolise the power of His words.
And in closing, yes, I agree with you about hell on earth. The Second Coming will be the final Day of Judgment.
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Postby arom » Tue Aug 07, 2007 1:38 am

Three points :)

1. Natman said above:
One final area I have problems with is the Dispensationalists assertion that they always interpret scripture "literally". Although there are many areas of scripture that definitely should be taken literally.


This literal system is not so strictly literal as to demand a word-for-word understanding of the text (i.e. Christ describing himself as a door does not mean that Christ is a door (John 10.7, 9)). Instead the literal interpretation is defined as how a normal person would read the passage.

The task of interpreters is to define the focus of the text in question. That is to find out the meaning of a statement (command, question) for the author and for the first list or readers, and thereupon to transmit that meaning to modern readers. Only when interpreters approach Scripture as the literal and sole source of God’s instructions to man can they hope to understand the meaning as God intended.

The hermeneutics used by covenant theologians and dispensationalists is not that different. With out a doubt there are a number of different forms used in language and Scripture. For example, when God "breathed" life into Adam, He did not actually physically blow into Adam's nose. However, this verse is written in such a way to help the reader understand.

2. More from Natman:
The problem I have with Dispensationalism is that I cannot for the life of me see the separation of Israel (God's chosen people) and the Church. As it relates to God, I see only two groupings of people; those that are saved though faith in God, either looking forward to their coming Messiah, the seed of Eve that would crush the head of the serpent, or looking back at the Messiah's (Jesus') work on the cross, (God's chosen people); and those that are condemned because they have refused the grace of God. I do not see three grouping of people, the above PLUS the Jews.


In the sense of the saved and the unsaved there are only two groups of people. Your description of Salvation is also dead on the money with my understanding. We are saved by grace through faith and not that of ourselves. The difference is in the way Scripture is laid out with specific prophecies for the future of the Nation of Israel and specific prophecies for the Bride of Christ/The Church Universal. Jews that do not accept Jesus Christ are condemned to Hell, just as Gentiles that do not accept Christ. In addition, Jews that accept Christ are part of the church. I know this just makes things more confusing, let me try to clear it up with another post later this week.

Anyone who believes in Him is not judged, but anyone who does not believe is already judged, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God (john 3:18 Hcsb).


3. Also from Natman:
1 Thes 4 is describing the final resurrection and transformation of the saints.


Now that is a hard one - since there is very little Scripture to support the "Rapture" as described in 1 Tess. 4. I posted a paper on the subject at http://arom.office-on-the.net/ - since I wrote it a few years ago I will go over it this week and see what else I can post here. However, this doctrine should not be an issue between brothers - either the Church will be raptured before the great tribulation and dispensationalists are right, or it will not and dispensationalists are wrong. The core message remains the same - Jesus Christ is returning to judge the earth, and until He does it is our mission to teach the Gospel to as many people as we can.

I’ll try to post more as time goes on. I am off this week so my wife, kids and I are out exploring the state of North Carolina going on day trips. I really want to visit Whispering Pines Thursday or Friday, but my wife is just not ok with that right now…perhaps next year.

Free to serve Him :)
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Postby boondon » Tue Aug 07, 2007 9:54 am

I used to be quite "dispensational", so to speak a number of years ago. I suppose that it fit pretty well with believing the pre=trib rapture idea and all that. But over the years, considering all the controversies and thought that surrounds eschatology, I have come to the "conclusion" that while I might have a personal favorite scenario, none of us really knows the mind of God such we can say anything much definitive about what will happen in the future except for the fact that Jesus Christ will be returning in person. Apparently He will do it during a time of great turmoil to save mankind from total destruction. Also concerning how God deals with His people through the ages is mostly His business and all that I really know is that He reached down and saved me and that I need to tell others about while I still have time! I know there is plenty of interest and "fun" to be had in figuring all these issues, but the potential hassles Christians run into with all the disagreements do not seem to please God to me if they result in the "divisions" that Paul condemns in the book of Corinthians.
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Postby jochanaan » Tue Aug 07, 2007 11:18 am

Boondon, I'm with you. I am pleased at the civility of this discussion--I expected nothing less from the good people in our Village--however, there has already been too much disagreement and division among the Churches.

Having said that, I do find one danger in believing in a pre-tribulation Rapture without any more support from the Scriptures than it has. (The Rapture itself has too much support from Scripture, including Jesus' own words about "the one shall be taken and the other left", to be discounted. The problem is timing.) The danger is that, if we find ourselves in the Tribulation without any sign of a Rapture, many of us will lose our faith. That is why, like many of us, I place my faith in God, not in any system of interpretation.

I'd love to be Raptured away from the hardest times the world will ever know! :D But I fear it will not happen, so I'm bracing myself for anything that may come.
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Postby natman » Tue Aug 07, 2007 1:42 pm

Arom, thanks for your response.

arom wrote:Instead the literal interpretation is defined as how a normal person would read the passage.


Great care must be taken to define what "normal" is. Reading of scripture or any ancient document must take into account several factors in order to get a full understanding of the text. We cannot simply open the Bible to a particular verse and read it in light of today's understanding of words and physiology. We must also always consider...
Location - Where it was written and who was the intended audience?
Essence - What are the main points addressed?
Genre - Is it historical, poetic, metaphoric, allegoric, homily, simile or parabolic in form?
Author - Who wrote it?
Context - What are the surrounding points being presented?
Years - When was it written?

We must also remember that, because the Bible is the Word of God and God is immutable, the Bible is synergistic. It not only does not contradict itself, but it also illuminates itself.

For example: As Christian naturists, we are keenly aware that the phrase "... expose the nakeness of..." in Leviticus does not simply mean "to see someone naked". If that were the case, then all physicians and nurses would be condemned to the fires of Hell. We know through proper hermeneutics that "... expose the nakeness of..." refers to "having sexual relations with" someone (or something). We know this because it is in the context of verses dealing with sexual matters. We know that such OT moral laws continue today because they are not done away with in scripture, but are reiterated.

We must also be very careful not to read into a passage something that is not in the passage, surrounding scripture, nor alluded to to begin with.

This is one of the areas that I am having extreme difficulty with my Dispensationalist friends. Again, for example, I read through your sermon on the "Rapture", in support of a pre-tribulational rapture of the Church. Like all other Dispensationalists I have encountered, the first verses that you discuss is 1 Thes 4 as well as 1 Cor 15. Like various other writings of Paul (Rom 6, Rom 8, 2 Cor 4 & 5, Phil 3) and the author or Hebrews (Heb 6), these chapter is dealing with the promise of the physical resurrection and glorification of the saints, past, present and future at some singular moment in time beyond the time of it's writing. There is not even a mention of tribulation, past, present or future in these verses. Indeed, the NT is rife with warnings that it is all but guaranteed that those who choose to follow Christ will, in some way, experience tribulation, pain, suffering and even death, and that we are not to avoid it or moan about it, but rejoice in it.

Phil 1:29, "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him”

1 Jas 2-3, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience."

Rom 5:3-4, "...but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope."

1 Pet 4:12-14, "Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you."

Certainly the lives of the OT patriarchs and prophets as well as the lives of the apostles and disciples of Christ bear this out, even to this day. A few years ago I did a study that indicated that more "Christians" have died in the name of Christ in this century alone than in all prior centuries combined. The figure then was on the order of approximately 380,000 per year.


Further, to state that the Church will be resurrected at one point, then a literal 1000 years later, the rest of the world will be resurrected and judged seems to fly directly in the words of Jesus Himself, who said...

John 5:28-29, "Do not marvel at this; for the HOUR is coming in which ALL who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation."

I think it is John McArthur who says "When reading scripture, 'all' means 'all', that's all 'all' means."

Also, a word study on the use of the word "hour" in scritpure will indicate that it is used to describe a "moment" in time, not a 1000 year window of time. However, a word study on the word "thousand" also will reveal that it is seldom, if ever use literally. It is almost always used allegorically, as in, "God owns the cattle on a thousand hills", which does not mean that He does not own the cattle on the thousand-and-first hill, but that He own the cattle on ALL the hills. Generally the word "thousand" can be translated in to "alot", or, "a limited number, but more than can be easily counted".

In my understanding, the concept of a literal 1000 reign ("the millenium") comes from Rev 20, which talks about a "first resurrection", a "thousand year reign" , and then a "second and final resurrection". The commentaries that I have read on these two resurrections assert that the "first resurrection" occurs when someone accepts Jesus as their Lord and Savior, dies to themselves and are resurrected to the newness of life, which is celebrated and symbolized in baptism. This is "spirital resurrection".

John 3:5-8, "Jesus answered, 'Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.'”

Eph 2:1-7, "And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."


The "second resurrection" will occur at the final coming of Jesus to assume His position as Lord and King here on a restored Earth. This is the "physical resurrection" which Paul wrote so often about and in which all believers place their hope.

So, my interpretation of Rev 20 would be that people will first come to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior, and that this will happen for a limited, yet inderterminate amount of time, at which point Christ will return to resurrect all who have died, to transform those that are alive and in Him, and to judge everyone to eternal life or eternal condemnation. This, along with the transformation of the Heavens and the Earth, will occur "in a moment, the twinlking of an eye". In that same period, or "short time", Satan will be un-leashed from his chains, make one last attempt to gather his forces but will be thrown into the lake of fire with the rest.

Lastly, (though probably not finally), my Dispensational friends constanly refer, as you also did, to Matt 24 or Mark 13, correlating Jesus reference to "coming on clouds" as His final coming at the end of time. However, reading Matt 24 and Mark 13 in context, we can see that Jesus is speaking specifically to the near-future destruction of Jeusalem and it's Temple. He is speaking in apocalyptic judgement language that the Jewish leaders and all first-century Jew would have been familiar with. Again, a word study on the word "clouds" or the phrase "coming on clouds" from the OT will reveal that He is speaking of a soon-coming cataclysmic destruction as a result of the outpouring of the judgement of God. This is a "coming", but it is not a "physical coming". He does not give the day or the hour, but warns His followers to watch for the signs, which are wars and rumors of wars (the build up of Roman armies outside of Jerusalem) and the abomination of the Temple, which was the placement of the Roman standards, considered to be the presence of Ceasar himself, whom the Romans considered to be a god, inside the Temple. Jesus instructs his followers to leave when they see these things, which history bears out that most of the did, leaving approximately 1.4 million unbelievers and Jews beseiged inside Jerusalem, resulting in their death by starvation and pestulance from rotting corpses. This distress is what Jesus is referring to when He speaks of the "great tribulation"...

Matt 24:21 "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be."

... right in the middle of His discussion of the destruction of Jerusalem, not at the end of time.
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Postby natman » Tue Aug 07, 2007 2:34 pm

jochanaan wrote:Boondon, I'm with you. I am pleased at the civility of this discussion--I expected nothing less from the good people in our Village--however, there has already been too much disagreement and division among the Churches.


I agree with you 100%. However, the answer is not to simply accept every doctrine that comes down the pike, regardless of how long it has been in practice. Remember, Paul and John were both preaching against false doctrines that were entering the Church, and that was within the first thirty years of it's existence.

The Rapture itself has too much support from Scripture, including Jesus' own words about "the one shall be taken and the other left", to be discounted. The problem is timing.


The problem with that reference (Matt 24:40) is not timing. It is context. IMHO, the verse is typically understood opposite from it's meaning. The verse in right in the middle of Jesus' discourse about the siege and destruction of Jerusalem. Typical of the use of the word "taken" throughout the rest of scripture, I believe Jesus is referring to those that will be taken into captivity by the Roman army. Those that are "left behind" are the ones that listened to Jesus' warnings and fled the city when the "signs" were present. Consequently, this reference has nothing to do with the "rapture" at all.

Having said that, I do find one danger in believing in a pre-tribulation Rapture without any more support from the Scriptures than it has. ... The danger is that, if we find ourselves in the Tribulation without any sign of a Rapture, many of us will lose our faith.


I see no danger in this. In fact, I expect it, and, if tribulation come our way, we should rejoice in it.

But there is another, greater danger in believing a pre-tribulation rapture which focuses on Christian-supported re-gathering the Jews to Jerusalem, creating an exclusively Jewish state and encouraging the rebuilding of the Temple and the re-institution of Temple sacrifice. That danger in in denying the sufficiency of Christ's atonement on the cross for those Jews who would be encouraged by the prospect of a rebuilt Temple. They will certainly say to themselves, "Why should I accept Jesus as Messiah when we will soon have our Temple again?" The other danger has already reared it's ugly head. By supporting an exclusively Jewish state, Christians are inadvertently supporting ethnic cleansing of all non-Jews from Israel, even the slaughter of millions of Palestinian and Arab Christians.

That is why I take the interpretation of scripture so seriously. Mis-interpretation in this case can have grave consequences. Indeed, the lives and souls of millions of believers and non-believers lies in the balance. We had better get this right... dead right.

Consequently, I believe that our focus should be on preaching the Gospel to all nations, including the Jews, not shipping them back to the "promised land" to die by the millions without knowing Jesus as their Savior.

Beside, the "promised land" was not promised only to those that physically descended from Abraham. the nation of Israel. The ultimate "promised land", which is the entire restored Earth is promised to Abraham's Seed, which is Jesus Christ and to those that are found in Him. Paul, a "Jew of Jews" made this ABSOLUTELY clear...

Gal 3:15-18, 26-29"Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say "and to seeds," meaning many people, but "and to your seed," meaning one person, who is Christ. What I mean is this: The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.
...
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
SON-cerely,
Nathan Powers

Get exposed to the sun, and get exposed to the Son.
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