Friday, June 27, 2014

Message to "Pan-Tribbers"

The rapture is the next event on God's prophecy schedule. It is an event unparalleled in all of history! We saw a picture of the rapture when God took Enoch alive, translated him instantly from earth to heaven. (Genesis 5:24, Hebrews 11:5). The rapture itself will be a joyous reunion of all the saints alive and dead, meeting our Lord in the air, to be with Him forevermore! It is the ultimate moment we all long for, look forward to. The glorious resurrection! The glorious meeting! When God gives a bride to His Son! At long last!

God has planned this prophetic moment, and the ones afterward, since before the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 1:4). The amazing thing, is that He has told us before the time! (Matthew 24:25, Amos 3:7, 1 Corinthians 15:51).

Prophecy matters very much to the Lord. Prophecy is a doctrine, it's Eschatology ("Last Things"). The longest speech Jesus made was the Olivet Discourse, about last things. Every book of the New Testament except Philemon has last things in it! Last things matter to the Lord.

As for the rapture specifically, it is our hope and joy. It is the sweetest promise. It is the doctrine with which we encourage each other! (1 Thessalonians 4:18).
that the righteous will rise first in the morning of the resurrection, and before the living saints are changed, and are with Christ; that they will both be taken up together to meet him; and that they shall all be with him, and that for ever, and never part more; than which nothing can yield more true and solid comfort" (Gill's Exposition)
Even more glorious, Jesus said we are not appointed to wrath and He will keep us from the our of trial that is to come upon the whole world! (Revelation 3:10).

Ans yet we have so many people mocking and scoffing at last things. (2 Peter 3:3; Jude 1:8). "Where is the promise of his coming?" they will mock. "How come He is taking so long?" they will scoff.

Satan has even put it to some people that there is no rapture at all. They claim it is a made-up event from the ravings of a demonically influenced Scottish girl named Margaret MacDonald and picked up by John Darby in the 1830s. Nonsense. But several times a week I receive emails apprising me of this "fact" and they deny the doctrine completely.

Others are influenced by satan's notion that there will be a partial rapture. That God has selected some to go and some less faithful to stay so as to be polished by the Tribulation and be ready to meet Him later.

Worse, many Christians have fallen for the notion of a 'post tribulation' rapture. These people believe in the rapture, just not that it will occur before the Tribulation. The confuse the trumpets and twist some scriptures and throw in some personal martyr complexes for good measure. They believe that Jesus will hurl wrath at His bride and then bring us home.

But if the rapture will be post-Tribulation, Paul never needed to write the Thessalonians a second time to reassure them they had not missed the rapture because what seemed like the Tribulation had begun. 2 Thessalonians 2 would have been a different letter. Paul would have said, 'yes it's started, but hold on, you can make it with the help of the Spirit.' But he didn't.

But there is an even worse tribulation position than the denial, the partial, the post. It is the "Pan-Tribulation" position.

It is the position for some reason that irks me the most. You hear it sometimes from Christians, who, when discussing the rapture and last things, and the rapture's timing, they say, "I'm a pan-tribulationist. Everything will work out in the end. HAR HAR HAR." They think this is funny. They think this is clever. They even think this is pious.

It isn't.

What they are in effect saying is, one-third of the bible doesn't matter to them. Studying these things so as to encourage each other doesn't matter to them. In casually dismissing these important doctrines, they are agreeing with satan to steal hope. They are being used by him to confuse the sheep. They are destroying an important witnessing tool for Christians. They are dampening urgency.

The Doctrine of Last Things and the Rapture Doctrine itself is not seen as an essential doctrine for salvation. It is seen as a "nonessential" for belief. But that doesn't mean it's not essential to know. It doesn't mean it's not essential to study. The rapture IS a very important doctrine.
The Rapture of church-age believers is a source of great encouragement and motivation to godly Christian service (1 Cor. 15:58). The Rapture is a very important doctrine. It helps to motivate the Lord’s people to stay awake spiritually and it helps to motivate the churches to stay busy in the work of preaching the gospel to lost souls before it is too late. (source)
Being a "pan tribber" was alien to Paul's mindset. He had a very short time in Thessalonika and the first things he taught were the last things.
The Rapture Is an Important Doctrine
First, the rapture is an important doctrine. Many give the impression that the rapture is some kind of secondary doctrine that need not be given too much attention. We are often told that we should focus on the "big ticket" theological items such as the Virgin Birth, the Vicarious Atonement, the Trinity, Salvation by Faith Alone, and the Deity of Christ. Only after these doctrines are mastered should we then consider or contemplate the doctrine of the rapture. Along these same lines, many contend that the rapture is certainly not something that a new believer should give too much time or attention to. ...Such thinking was foreign to the mindset of the Apostle Paul. Interestingly, the Thessalonians were new believers (1 Thess. 1:9). ... The point in all of this is that although the Thessalonians were new believers, Paul never hid the doctrine of the rapture from them. On the contrary, he openly disclosed this teaching to them along with many other doctrines.
In his letter to the Thessalonians, before more fully developing the doctrine of the rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul briefly mentioned this doctrine in 1 Thessalonians 1:10. Paul obviously believed that the rapture is a foundational doctrine because he mentioned it immediately after discussing other basic doctrines such as the Holy Spirit (1:5) and conversion (1:5, 9). He also mentions the rapture doctrine (4:13-18) just after and before discussing other basic Christian truths such as sanctification (4:3, 5:23) and the dimensions of man's nature (5:23). Evidently, in Paul's thinking, the rapture was just as important as these other truths and deserved the same level of treatment and understanding.

With so much of last things occupying up to a third of the bible, with each book of the NT except Philemon teaching us last things, with Jesus spending the most time of all telling the answer to the question what are the signs of the end, and with Paul delivering the rapture doctrine early and firmly to the new believers, WHO IS SOMEONE TO SAY "I'm a pan-tribber. It'll all work out in the end" !

Shame, O, for shame!
when you ask them about the last things and how the story ends, they don't have a clue. They say, "Well I don't know if I'm a-mill, post-mill, pre-mill, pan-mill, whatever mill. I don't...but I don't think it's really important." That's like saying, you know, that a book is written, the most important book that's ever been written in the history of the world, the only book that truly reflects God's purpose for humanity and you don't care how it ends? Of course you care how it ends. (source)



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Further reading:

Why Some Reject the Pre-Tribulation rapture

Sermon series: The Rapture and the Day of the Lord

What About Children in the Rapture?

The Rapture defined and why it will happen

13 comments:

  1. I believe one other reason why some people shy away from things eschatological and in fact or in effect cling to the old pan-trib cop-out is because they have grown weary of the vicious knock-down drag-out brawls they have had the misfortune of witnessing among believers from opposing doctrinal camps.

    And I am first in line to repent mightily of this. I've gone toe to toe with my share of hardened, bitter post-trib curmudgeons and have the scars to prove it.

    But the Holy Spirit finally got through to me:

    "Shut up and quit helping the enemy! (*spank*) You're playing Satan's game--can't you see that? It doesn't matter if your doctrine is right if your heart *isn't*! (*spank*) So who do you think you're edifying, anyway, Mr. Smarty Pants? (*spank*) Just who do you think you're going to give Me a chance to draw to the Savior with that type of tone and attitude? (*spank*...*spank*...)"

    I'm paraphrasing, but that was the gist of it. Then He had me write the following passage of Scripture on the board 50 times:

    "But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; and that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will." (2 Timothy 2:23-26)

    Never get into intense, impassioned arguments with the hardcore anti-pre-trib folks. Just don't. The only thing they are usually searching for is someone to beat up. Love them, pray for them, gently discuss it with them *if possible*. But when you go to the mats with them--and it's hard not to if you know the Word and let things go that far--everybody loses.

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  2. Greg's comment: "I believe one other reason why some people shy away from things eschatological and in fact or in effect cling to the old pan-trib cop-out is because they have grown weary of the vicious knock-down drag-out brawls they have had the misfortune of witnessing among believers from opposing doctrinal camps."

    Thank you Greg. I was searching for words, and you expressed what I wanted to say.

    That's precisely why I try to be very patient and gracious with believers who aren't pre-trib, including the pan-tribbers. I've also seen so many bloody battles between believers on eschatology (and other doctrinal issues), and like Greg, have unfortunately had my fair share of contributing to said battles, that I have stepped away from them, and have changed my approach. I spend far more time praying than talking, and when the Lord opens a peaceful door for me to talk, I try to follow 2 Tim 2:24-25. A gentle answer turns away wrath. No shame.

    -Carolyn

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  3. Carolyn, thank you! I agree. Greg said it so well, very eloquently. Thank you Greg for your wisdom.

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  4. Over the years, I too have been beat up and verbally assaulted to the point of being declared a heritic doomed to hell. I hold to a pre-wrath view meaning at the opening of the sixth seal.

    Pan trib is a defensive posture (and yes a cop out) meaning you aren't interested in debating it, because you have witnessed more harm than good come of it. I don't take the rapture topic lightly, but when given the opportunity I choose love and grace over heated debate.

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  5. "I hold to a pre-wrath view..."

    Hey, I did too! Whoa...serious flash back. And we love you, hopeful_watcher. We love you as our sibling in Christ, and that's what matters most. You're gettin' a major league group hug from all of us on That Day. Whenever it may be.

    By the way...amen to what you said about the "peaceful door," Carolyn. =:)

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  6. Hopeful_watcher...I didn't mean that to sound curt or condescending, but I'm afraid maybe it did. My apologies. Seriously, eschatological views notwithstanding, the point is that we all love and serve the same God, love and serve the same Jesus, have had our sins washed away by the same precious blood, and we will spend eternity in the same place--a place that is too wonderful for any of us to imagine (1 Corinthians 2:9).

    And that's something to look forward to, no matter when we believe His Word says it will occur.

    See you there.

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    Replies
    1. Hugs back to you. May God bless you and keep you.

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  7. Elizabeth, you're welcome!

    hopeful_watcher - sorry other believers "condemned" you because of your eschatological view. Scripture says ANYONE who is in Christ is a new creation, born again by the Holy Spirit. Like Greg said, we will all be spending eternity in the same place.

    Greg - I am thankful for the Lord's wisdom. Just like the "Son of Thunder" John who became the Apostle of Love, Christ had to sand (more than a few) rough edges off me.

    -Carolyn

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    1. Thank you Carolyn. Blessings to all who fellowship here in the name of Jesus Christ.

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  8. I cannot imagine how someone could have an active relationship with our Lord and NOT be curious about prophecy...if they are reading their bibles! Like you said, God put 28% worth of scripture in there for a reason. Its important. I am very curious, as to what that means for eternity. Its not a salvation issue, of course. But there must be some kind of reward or something attached. That goes for all topics of biblical understanding. Yes, its to our benefit in this life, but I wonder if there is some outcome on the otherside attached to how much we study and learn through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. So many christians very on nonessentials, but God only means one thing, so it matters to get it right, and I wonder what that will translate to? Anyone else wonder about this?
    Jennifer

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  9. Jesus told his disciples don't be deceived, many will come in my name, saying, I am Christ;the time draweth near: go not after them". Seems to me Jesus is telling us the more people are saying " the time is near", the more we should avoid them. The signs of prophecy are all around, but it is when they say, "peace and safety", that we need to take note.

    As for Paul's words to the Thessalonians, it bothers me that bible interpreters assume this church thought they missed the Rapture. I say assume, because based on their own presuppositions they believe that is what this persecuted church believed. However, if that was the case, why didn't Paul remind them of the Rapture? Why didn't he say, "Duh! Don't you remember I told you that you would be raptured out of here before any of this bad stuff happens?" But Paul didn't say that at all. He said the Day of Christ wouldn't be at hand until the great falling away--the apostasy-- came first, and the man of sin was revealed. That sounds to me like Paul was reminding them that they --or some generation of believers--would be around to see those events happen. In II Thess 1 he told the believers they would ONLY rest from tribulation when Jesus was REVEALED from heaven, and it would be the day He would also be glorified in his saints....

    Then there is the matter of tribulation in general. Jesus told us plainly, "in the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world". It is not unbiblical for believers to go through some time of tribulation. Tribulation is not the same as God's wrath, which is clearly not for the church. It seems that we American Christians somehow think we will not undergo the type of persecution that has plagued much of the rest of the world. It is feasible that apostasy is going to come if America falls to its enemies, and the rapture hasn't come yet to take us away. But if you look at history, what about the fall of China to the Communists? the fall of N Korea? the fall of Russia? and countless other nations where evil governments came to power and slaughtered millions of people including Christians? They were not spared from the bloodshed. And look what is currently taking place in the Middle East. Make no mistake, a rapture is coming at some juncture in history, but we should not assume it will necessarily rescue us before the fall of our nation which at this point, surely seems inevitable. I don't think American Christians are prepared for such an event if it should happen.

    Then we are fond of comparing ourselves to the Philadelphia church in Rev which was told it would escape "the hour that comes to try the whole world". However, we are no longer in a Philadelphian church age, but the age of Laodicea. This church was told by Jesus, who is revealed as the faithful and true witness, (what the Laodicean church clearly lacked in character),-- that they needed the gold tried in the fire. This church is not necessarily going to escape the hour that comes to try the whole world as the previous church age did. Didn't Jesus say he would spew the lukewarm out of his mouth? Harsh words for his own church! Yet, if salt has lost it's savor what is it good for?

    I think the words in Is 57:1 are very sobering, "The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come." We assume that the rapture is the means we will be taken away from the wrath to come, but what if it is death instead? Isaiah is clearly saying the righteous perish to escape the evil to come....Paul seemed to imply that only a few would be alive at the coming of the Lord at the Rapture. "We who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord...."

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    Replies
    1. The rapture is going to happen before the tribulation.

      No one is saying the rapture is going to happen before the fall of this nation. It might happen after. The fall of America has nothing to do with the tribulation or the rapture. One isn't linked to the other, is what I mean.

      We are not the church at Philadelphia but we are gong to escape the wrath as stated in that verse.

      The tribulation is a time of judgment on the world and is aimed at, focused on, and for His people Israel. Not the church. There are two different destinies between the church and Israel. Daniel 9:24.

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    2. Exactly the verses I had in mind - from Daniel 9. 70 weeks (weeks of years) are decreed for Israel. 69 of them are past, finished when Messiah was 'cut off'. The last week (a 7 year period) - the time of Jacob's trouble - has not yet happened. The church wasn't around during the 1st 69 weeks and won't be during the last week.

      -Carolyn

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