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  • Assumptions

    When we make assumptions regarding Biblical scripture, do we risk changing the meaning or message of the gospel?

    “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”
    Galations 1:8-9

    These words should be familiar to all Christians but is the meaning really understood? The gospel is what is stated in the Bible; nothing more and nothing less. It is our nature to be inquisitive and when the Bible seems unclear or incomplete, we search for answers. Sometimes this search leads to assumptions. Many books have been written based on assumptions and sometimes to the embarrassment of the authors. Assumptions regarding the Bible have consequences beyond embarrassment.

    We are not allowed to change the gospel, and we are not allowed to add or subtract anything from the Bible.

    “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” Deuteronomy 4:2

    “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and the things which are written in this book.” Revelation 22:18-19

    An assumption is conjecture, or supposition, or a theory. Unless an assumption is clearly identified for what it is, say a theory, making that assumption is adding to or detracting from the Bible – it is change. If this is done as a personal belief, it is your prerogative with personal consequence. If an assumption is published as if it were biblical truth, the author should understand the consequences. Authors should consider the three verses stated above. In other words, Christian authors and preachers have a responsibility to stay within the known confines of solid biblical principle. However, some find they can’t really make money or get attention by staying biblical; they need an angle, a slant, or something new – they need new ideas or principles in order to sell themselves or their books.

    Why? - mammon and prestige.

    Unfortunately many authors, (intentionally or not), change, append, or negate biblical principles. Once that decision is made to assume some extra-biblical pseudo-truth, rationalization sets in. The author defends his work as fact rather than admitting an error and making apologies to readers, (and to God).

    There is a clear distinction between making an assumption and drawing a conclusion based on biblical principle. I do not complain about sound biblical conclusions – I do complain about published conclusions based on assumptions as if they were biblical doctrine without solid evidence.

    Take, for example, the Rapture. We know the event will occur, but we don’t know when, and we don’t know how it will be manifested. It is a mystery. There is a belief among a great many Christians that places the Rapture’s timing before the Tribulation and its manifestation as a physical disappearance.

    Let us examine these two common beliefs.

    The Timing

    It has been stated[i] that there are four compelling reasons why the Rapture will take place before the seven year Tribulation.

    1. “The Lord Himself promised to deliver us.”
    2. “The church is to be delivered from the wrath to come.”
    3. “Christians are not appointed to wrath.”
    4. “The church is absent in Revelation 4 through 18.”

    Upon closer examination, only two reasons are given. The first three all say the same thing or essentially, ‘The Lord promises to deliver the church because Christians are not appointed to wrath’, (my wording).

    The Tribulation is a 7-year period that should hopefully take place before the generation that saw Israel reborn as a nation passes away from this earth. That generation is now getting old and so time may be short.

    The 7-year Tribulation has two 3.5 year parts; both contain trials and tribulation. Although the first 3.5 year period starts out smoothly with secular jubilance over a new charismatic world leader, tribulations will come. This period will see persecution of Christians by the charismatic leader, the Antichrist. The end of this first half is a very important differentiating point. The Antichrist performs the abomination of desolation. Jesus himself makes the differentiation:

    "So when you see standing in the holy place the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of through the prophet Daniel - let the reader understand . . . . For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened."Matthew 24:15-21 NIV

    The words of Jesus are clear – the wrath of God is about to begin. There is a clear definition and differentiation between the first and the second halves of the Tribulation. God's judgments and wrath are poured out only in the second half. This is a clear teaching from the book of Revelation. Also note that at least some of God's elect will remain in those days prior to the abomination of desolation. The Antichrist continues his wrath against those remaining Christians and Jews but, God's wrath starts in the second half – this is an important concept. Both halves contain trials and tribulations, but only the second half includes wrath and judgment imposed by God.

    Quite simply stated, God never promised to keep His people from the wrath of Antichrist or from His signs of the times and warnings in the form of tribulation. To the contrary, He states through His word that we will be tested and tried during this time. This testing and trying is by tribulation, (many of us respond to no other discipline). Additionally, many of us will be deceived. But, as with Noah and Lott, His people will be delivered from His wrath and judgment which takes place only during the second 3.5 year period.

    Considering this, the Rapture may or may not take place before the 7-year Tribulation begins. It will more likely occur near the halfway point when God's two Witnesses are withdrawn and God's wrath and judgment are about to begin.

    Let us examine this in more detail. Scripture appears to back up the mid-Tribulation view for timing.

    "Because you have kept My command to persevere [the first half], I also will keep you from the hour of trial [the second half] which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth". Revelation 3:10 [comments and emphasis mine]

    Examine this carefully. For the most part, what have today's Christians persevered, prosperity? Plain sense tells us we may be required to persevere the wrath of Antichrist during at least a portion of the Tribulation; but, as promised, not His wrath and not His judgment. We will be delivered from the hour of testing for all remaining people; those who do not heed the witnessing, the signs of the times, and the warnings.

    This concludes the discussion on the first argument stating "the church is not appointed to wrath".

    The second argument regarding reference to the Church sounds good but does not hold up to scrutiny. The fact that the Church is not mentioned in Revelation Chapters 4 through 18 is simply a fact without implications. The Bible is well written literature. Simply stated, the Church is not the subject of Chapters 4 through 18.

    Unfortunately there is no scripture stating “The Rapture will occur before the start of the 7-year Tribulation”. To the contrary; the Rapture, as well as the timing, is a mystery.

    I submit that people want to understand the mystery and some authors are willing to provide an answer that does not offend and gives assurance to their readers that they will not have to endure the Tribulation. These authors are making assumptions they know will be readily accepted by their readers. They don’t want readers to “shoot the messenger”, (perhaps “crucify the messenger” is a more appropriate term).

    The Manifestation

    If you ask anyone familiar with the Christian concept of the Rapture to describe the event, they will invariably recount the view stated in any number of books about the End Times. That is, people will vanish as they are raptured or snatched away to be with Jesus. This is the mystery[ii] spoken of in the New Testament that occurs contemporaneously with the Tribulation.

    First of all, the Bible never states people will literally vanish. To state this is to make an assumption. The term 'Rapture' is not even in the Bible – only the concept. This concept that believers will be removed prior to the Great Tribulation is clear, but the mechanism or manifestation of the rapture is not stated.

    The Bible states that those raptured are changed[iii] and are taken, but without making any assumptions, let us examine this further. "Then two men will be in the field. One is taken…"[iv] Taken? One cannot assume 'taken' refers to the physical body. Of what use is the physical body in heaven? It makes better sense to interpret 'taken' as referring to the spirit, the soul, the consciousness, and the identity of the believer. This is supported by the statement in 1 Corinthians 15:51, ". . . we will all be changed". Reaching down from heaven and retrieving your personal spirit, giving you an incorruptible body, and transporting you into the presence of your God is certainly a change, and it certainly constitutes being taken. What form our new body takes in heaven is unknown to us now, but we do know that it is different and that it is physically incorruptible. So, of what use is a corruptible body to God, and is that body required by God in order for Him to make us incorruptible?

    Simply stated; we, in our corruptible bodies, cannot be in the presence or realm of God.[v] So, I submit that there won't necessarily be a physical disappearance.

    If the Rapture were to occur before the 7-year Tribulation, it is more likely to be manifested as an apparent great plague rather than a miraculous Sign. If manifested as a mass disappearance, it would surely be taken as a Sign that God was about to intervene. The Rapture can not appear to be a Sign before the 7-year tribulation begins because Jesus himself stated that his resurrection would be the last Sign given[vi]. Many authors have tried in vain to explain how a physical disappearance of millions of Christians could happen without it appearing to be a miraculous sign to those left behind.

    What do I mean by appearing to be a great plague? If a believer's soul and his consciousness are raptured, what will one man in the field see when his friend’s spirit is taken? Perhaps what he will see is what appears to be a seizure followed in minutes, perhaps hours or days, by what appears to be death. In this scenario the raptured believer will not have experienced physical death, and the Christian sleep will not have occurred. The separation of consciousness and body would have already occurred; nothing is left but the corruptible shell, and it would soon cease to function without any awareness. If the dead in Christ[vii] rise first, and they don't require their bodies, then why should those alive in Christ need theirs? The believer has shed his corruptible shell and is standing in the presence of angels in awe at the sight of our savior. There may not be any open graves, and there may not be any vacated clothing as we read in the fictional or rationalized accounts.

    If however, the Rapture were to take place mid-tribulation, then it could be manifested as a miraculous Sign to the changed audience – Satan and his followers. Perhaps it would be manifested in a similar manner as the two witnesses; death to life and ascend to heaven in full view of the world. Note that these witnesses do not vanish and leave their clothes behind.

    It would be an assumption to compare the Rapture event to other ‘taken’ events in the Bible. The Rapture, if manifested before the Tribulation, would not have an intended earthly audience – it would not be a sign. Other biblical ‘taken’ events varied in purpose with regard to the intended message. It therefore cannot be assumed the Rapture will have the same manifestation.
    The Deception

    We are warned of a deception[viii]. Jesus stated that others would come in His name and that we should not follow them. I have always wondered how anyone could be deceived about the key players in the End Times after having witnessed what would amount to the most spectacular global miracle in all of history. How is it possible to explain away the disappearance of millions of people? If the Rapture occurred in this spectacular manner, who would not recognize it as the event described in the Bible?

    If some Christians move forward in the belief that they will be physically snatched away at the Rapture and before the Tribulation, and if it does not happen as they expect, then many may be deceived by a very popular and effective leader while they wait for an event that has already transpired.

    This well respected peacemaker, the Antichrist, at the peak of his popularity would not have to explain away an obvious miracle – only a plague. The Antichrist would probably even call the plague an "act of God". It is easy to look back with 20-20 hindsight at leaders like Adolph Hitler and say, "I would have recognized him for what he was", but in actuality, Hitler was very popular and well respected around the world in the early 1930's. Many Christians saw him as a 'godsend' for Europe. Even today, more and more people deny that Hitler's atrocities ever occurred. My point is that people are often deceived by charismatic leaders, and some Christians looking in the wrong direction may also be deceived. God prefers Christians to take the first path because the second path will not be easy.

    Again, it is an important consideration that two things may trigger the deception for many Christians

    First would be the lack of a pre-Tribulation Rapture. Remember, the Antichrist will be a peace maker and he will be very charismatic. He will fool many.

    Second would be a manifestation of the Rapture that was not expected. Because the Rapture would not be a pre-trib sign to this last generation, it would have to appear non-miraculous and secularly explainable.

    Can I be wrong about a mid-trib Rapture? Yes
    Can you be wrong about a pre-trib Rapture? Yes
    Can I be wrong when I say Christians may not disappear? Yes
    Can you be wrong when you state Christians will disappear? Yes

    Do not make assumptions!

    In Summary


    "When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense, but take every word at its primary, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context clearly indicate otherwise."[ix]

    The mid-Tribulation Rapture position makes more sense, but keep in mind that neither a pre-Tribulation position nor a mid-Tribulation position can be proven from scripture. This makes one wonder why there is a “pre-Tribulation doctrine”; and why contrary opinions are ridiculed and not allowed to debate; and why I am asked “how did you lose your faith in a pre-trib Rapture”.

    How does this pre-trib doctrine serve the Church other than to possibly deceive?

    The Rapture can take place at any time and it may not be manifested as expected. There is nothing in the prophetic sequence of events lacking for this whole thing to kick-off right now; only the Father, not even Jesus himself, knows the exact time. Be ready and be prepared because this appears to be in the season. The dangers are assumptions, dogma, and indifference. Many people are so convinced that they will not be here that, if the Tribulation Week starts and they have not seen their version of the Rapture, the door will be wide open to false teaching and deception.

    And so, when an author states the Rapture will take place before the 7-year Tribulation and will be manifested as a physical disappearance, who does that author serve?

    This author states emphatically, “The timing for the Rapture and its manifestation may or may not occur per popular belief.”

    James R Lawrence Sr.
    © 2011

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________

    [i] Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins, Are We Living in the End Times?, (Tyndale House, Wheaton, IL, 1999)

    [ii] 1 Thessalonians 4:17

    [iii] 1 Corinthians 15:51

    [iv] Matthew 24:40-41

    [v] Ezra 9:15, 1 Corinthians 15:50, and Romans 8:8

    [vi] Matthew 12:38, Matthew 16:4, Luke 11:29

    [vii] 1 Thessalonians 4:16

    [viii] Luke 21:8

    [ix] From http://www.pre-trib.org/

    • EarlyCall
      #16
      EarlyCall commented
      Editing a comment
      Re: Article: Assumptions

      Originally posted by Faithful One
      How did God do it when He delivered the Jews from the hand of the Egyptians??
      I suugest you read it carefully.
      All of Egypt suffered the wrath of God, yet several MILLION Jews living in the same location tasted NONE of it.




      Early Call...Your problem is caused by the same FALSE ASSUMPTION as that of the original poster, namely, (as 'Diggerdeeper' has already pointed out) you BOTH are confusing the meanings of the words "tribulation" and "wrath of God". You ASSUME they mean the same thing when in reality they are completely DIFFERENT words both in the greek and in their meaning used in Scripture. These two words are NOT the same, have completely diffferent meanings, and are NEVER used in Scripture to refer to the same thing.

      The greek word for wrath is never translated "tribulation" , and the word for "tribulation" is never translated as "wrath" .

      PLEASE do a word study. You should realize that Christains are destined to go through much tribulation, and the 'great tribulation' period is no different.
      Indeed , Apostle Paul even said "We through MUCH TRIBULATION must enter the kingdom of God".
      In fact, he uses the SAME GREEK WORD that is used in Mathew 24 when Jesus coined the phrase, "Great Tribulation".

      Please Early Call (and jrlaw) quit making the (false) ASSUMPTION that these two words are the same, you are simply creating for yourself and others greater confusion and mental dissonance in understanding the Scriptures of the end times.


      there is a simple answer.....
      You will see clearly the answer when you let go of the "wrath of God = Tribulation" assumption; there's no secret here....it simply requires correct understanding of the words used in Scripture. If you want me to go into the greek words used for each, I will be glad to ...in another post...

      In any event, "Diggindeeper' is correct; both you and the original poster are making very faulty assumptions that are leading you both to incorrect conclusions REQUIRING God to take Christians out of here by the MID-tribulation.

      Faithful
      Well, I am reasonably confident I have no need of your instruction, and I certainly make no assumptions as you have claimed. I am well read concerning Egypt and God's deliverance. I think you should read my post again and this time more carefully. That said, I am probably at fault for not explaining more clearly what I am after, but what you won't find is a claim I believe in the rapture, and yet you respond towards me as though I claim such. You are mistaken.

      Find in Revelation one of the one-third incidents of God's wrath. Then consider the impact and effect it will have on the entire world. What impact to the economies of the world? That is but one effect of such an incident. Are we spared today from negative influences on economies of our own nation while the wicked suffer from it? The ripple effect alone would be tremendous and how would anyone escape it? I mention but one impact, one effect and there would be many more. So please do not be so short-sighted as to respond speaking only of the economic impacts of such an incident of God. Mention it, discuss it and do so with another and perhaps yet a third for there are many.

      Do you understand better now why I ask the question I asked in my original post? You think you know it so well, but I would argue you do not. My statement here does not imply you are mistaken concerning the rapture, the tribulation or God's wrath, but rather that you stop short go no deeper. If the question can be asked, it may just be it is worth trying to answer. There is not always an answer and that is fine, but you don't know without asking first.

    • Faithful One
      #17
      Faithful One commented
      Editing a comment
      Re: Article: Assumptions

      Sorry 'early Call" if i mis-understood your post. But in large part I don't think I have.

      Your (over) concern about how a Christian must be affected by God's last days judgement is misplaced.Again your dilema is resolved by FIRST understanding that "tribulation" (as used in Scripture) is not caused by God, but rather by realizing that "tribulation" is the affliction & persecution that is brought against God's people by Satan and by the world sytem.

      Once that is settled then your particular concern about the economic impact becomes a moot point. The reason is because BEFORE God's judgement arrives Satan (Anti-Christ) will have ALREADY completely removed God's people from the economic system of the world. (Remember about the mark of the Beast in order to buy or sell, etc.?)

      IOWs, it is Satan that brings about the "tribulation" upon God's people, yes, not just economically, but also persecution and death. Jesus said it begins when Anti-Christ takes over in the temple with the abomination...(Matt. 24) ...and it gets so bad that unless the Lord intervenes 'NO FLESH would be saved".

      Great Tribulation is not caused by the wrath of God , it is caused by the wrath of Satan !Jesus has to step in the save the elect ...as Jesus said: "But FOR THE ELECT's SAKE those days shall be shortened".

      Thus it is an error to make the assumption that Christians must MISS the Great Tribulation. They are going to fully experience complete economic (and physical affliction) BEFORE God steps in with judgements....God's judgements come against the world system that is CAUSING the great affliction upon God's people.Again, you will never be able to perceive this fact if you ASSUME we are conveniently taken out of here before that time.

      Faithful.

    • EarlyCall
      #18
      EarlyCall commented
      Editing a comment
      Re: Article: Assumptions

      Originally posted by Faithful One
      Sorry 'early Call" if i mis-understood your post. But in large part I don't think I have.

      Your (over) concern about how a Christian must be affected by God's last days judgement is misplaced.Again your dilema is resolved by FIRST understanding that "tribulation" (as used in Scripture) is not caused by God, but rather by realizing that "tribulation" is the affliction & persecution that is brought against God's people by Satan and by the world sytem.

      Once that is settled then your particular concern about the economic impact becomes a moot point. The reason is because BEFORE God's judgement arrives Satan (Anti-Christ) will have ALREADY completely removed God's people from the economic system of the world. (Remember about the mark of the Beast in order to buy or sell, etc.?)

      IOWs, it is Satan that brings about the "tribulation" upon God's people, yes, not just economically, but also persecution and death. Jesus said it begins when Anti-Christ takes over in the temple with the abomination...(Matt. 24) ...and it gets so bad that unless the Lord intervenes 'NO FLESH would be saved".

      Great Tribulation is not caused by the wrath of God , it is caused by the wrath of Satan !Jesus has to step in the save the elect ...as Jesus said: "But FOR THE ELECT's SAKE those days shall be shortened".

      Thus it is an error to make the assumption that Christians must MISS the Great Tribulation. They are going to fully experience complete economic (and physical affliction) BEFORE God steps in with judgements....God's judgements come against the world system that is CAUSING the great affliction upon God's people.Again, you will never be able to perceive this fact if you ASSUME we are conveniently taken out of here before that time.

      Faithful.
      I do not know why you insist upon trying to clarify to me the difference between the tribulation and God's wrath. I have to wonder if you understand that God will pour out His wrath upon this earth during the tribulation. That you continue to explain to me the difference between the two, the wrath of God and the tribulation can only mean that you cannot understand that I quite well know the difference without you instructing me. Do you understand? The mark of the beast is not God's doing. The persecution of the saints is not God's doing. I get it and I got it long before you ever tried to differentiate between the two in your posts to me. I hope we are finally clear in this particular.

      Finally, that you somehow find my question to be of no value means we cannot have a discussion. Personally, I think you may not be able to go any deeper. Therefore, I will leave it go at this and drop out of discussion with you. No offense intended nor any taken, but I don't need your instruction on this matter, nor do I want it, nor do I wish to continue to try and get you to understand such that you can attempt to answer my question. Do you think me so stupid as to be unable to think through concerning my own question? That I can pose the question but go no further with it on my own? You would be wrong. I merely wished to put it out there for further thoughts and discussion from others. You instead wish only to minimize it, discard it, call it moot at best and preach to me. Why should I wish to engage in such with you? I do not have any desire to do so. And so I will not. I'll move on now.
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