Friday, November 7, 2014

Rapture is biblical

Here is an article by Joel C Rosenberg about the biblical fact of the rapture and why it will be before the Tribulation. It is the best one-stop shop defense of the doctrine I've seen.

I was shocked/not shocked to see that the new Left Behind movie released recently has sparked lots of rapture haters, from Christians no less, who fervently denounce this as a biblical doctrine at all! I am surmising from Mr Rosenberg's title that this is one reason he wrote the essay in defense. It is a good, fast apologetics course in itself and I thought this piece was one of the best Joel has done in a long time.

The essay explores the following subjects
  • What exactly is “The Rapture”?
  • Is “The Rapture” a Biblical concept, or merely a fictional plot device?
  • What does the term mean?
  • What are the implications of “The Rapture”?
"Hollywood tackles the End Times with “Left Behind” film. But is “The Rapture” a Biblical concept, or a fictional plot device?"




24 comments :

  1. Respectfully, it is possible that the Lord can protect His own from whatever wrath he is to pour out on flesh.

    Exodus 12:12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord.

    13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.

    14 And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.

    15 Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.

    16 And in the first day there shall be an holy convocation, and in the seventh day there shall be an holy convocation to you; no manner of work shall be done in them, save that which every man must eat, that only may be done of you.

    17 And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this selfsame day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt: therefore shall ye observe this day in your generations by an ordinance for ever.

    18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at even, ye shall eat unleavened bread, until the one and twentieth day of the month at even.

    19 Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land.

    20 Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread.

    21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover.

    22 And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning.

    23 For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the Lord will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you.

    24 And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever.

    The more I have looked at the well placed and held arguments for this the more unlikely it is that I can determine anything for certain.
    I will say this that the visible "church" is become more leavened and uncovered by the minute.
    I will also say that I believe more today than ever that the Lord will take care of His people. You don't have to look at me very closely to see the imperfections. I refuse to wear "spiritual makeup".
    Some of this will be a mystery until it occurs.
    Taken out of the world brings up several ideas for me. Nonetheless, "they" can be taken out.
    But oh that one poor lost soul would hear and believe that the Lord Jesus died in his/her stead that they may lay hold of eternal life by what they read right here.

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    1. Jeff, You're right,the Lord can and will protect His own through the Tribulation- the sealed 144,000 evangelists. And them only. The Two WIitnesses are protected for 3.5 years, and then He allows them to die. The saved during the Tribulation will die as martyrs, most of them. The bride will have been removed prior, though He could protect the/us is it was in His plan. But it isn't, it's in His plan to remove us, because we are not appointed to wrath.(1 Thess 5:9, 2 Thess 2:13, Rev 3:10...)

      It's not a matter of His ability (can He) is is a matter what He has planned and His plans will come about.

      I'm sorry that the more you study the more you are uncertain about the rapture and its placement in the chronology of events, what it is for and why it will happen prior to the Tribulation. Pray for discernment on this matter. The Lord has revealed it and thus He wants us to know it. It isn't a mystery and it is not complicated, really :)

      As for the Exodus passages, It is not wise to extrapolate Old Testament passages onto New Testament promises. God is the same, but the passage you quoted was for a specific time for a specific purpose specifically for certain people. The Rapture is for another specific time for another specific purpose, specifically for certain people

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    2. I would even add that the Passover prefigures the Cross, and the difference between the smitten/not smitten is symbolic of the difference between the unsaved and the saved, who are "in the world but not of the world."

      So it wouldn't seem the most appropriate alternative to make it an analogy of the rapture. The Flood/Ark would be a better one, though strictly speaking it is still more closely tied to salvation, because Jesus says "I am the Door, if anyone enters by me he will be saved." So though we may try, I don't think there are any OT parallels that are *explicitly* connected to the Rapture, that aren't better applied to the Cross.

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    3. Elizabeth, by the way...

      I've attempted to persuade someone over text (an acquaintance from college), who happens to believe in a post-trib rapture. From a common-sense view, I would think it's the least logical view, because the idea of going up and coming back down again just seems ridiculous. But supposing someone doesn't "get" that ridiculousness, it gets harder to dissuade them.

      I've gone down quite a few avenues of Biblical arguments with him, but I would be very curious how you yourself would be minded to respond if someone claimed that "the wrath" in Thessalonians is not = "the wrath" in Revelation, but a reference to hell? The "it makes the most sense" approach I know well, but he doesn't budge for that, so I'm somewhat intrigued to know if you're aware of a further Biblically-based connection that solidifies the connection between the wrath talked about in Thess and the 'great day of God's wrath' in Rev.

      Thanks!

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    4. Hi H.A.

      First, and I know you know this, people who refuse to believe a truth or a doctrine will redefine it to their preconceived notion and refuse to believe anything else. They will defend it illogically. I've come up against this also. For example, there are some who insist that the wrath in Rev 6 seal judgements are different from the wrath of the second series of judgments in the Trumpets and the Bowls. They call the Rev 6 wrath 'Satan's wrath' and unhitch it from 1 Thessalonians. This is the pre-wrath view.

      Here are a few essays that might help in your situation. GotQuestions, definition of wrath
      http://www.gotquestions.org/wrath-of-God.html

      Pre-wrath view: (1 Thessalonians 5:9) http://www.gotquestions.org/pre-wrath-rapture.html

      And finally this excerpt from their essay, "The Timing of the Rapture":

      "A few verses later, in 1 Thessalonians 5:9, Paul says, “For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The book of Revelation, which deals primarily with the time period of the tribulation, is a prophetic message of how God will pour out His wrath upon the earth during the tribulation. It seems inconsistent for God to promise believers that they will not suffer wrath and then leave them on the earth to suffer through the wrath of the tribulation. The fact that God promises to deliver Christians from wrath shortly after promising to remove His people from the earth seems to link those two events together."

      "Another crucial passage on the timing of the rapture is Revelation 3:10, in which Christ promises to deliver believers from the “hour of trial” that is going to come upon the earth. This could mean two things. Either Christ will protect believers in the midst of the trials, or He will deliver believers out of the trials. Both are valid meanings of the Greek word translated “from.” However, it is important to recognize what believers are promised to be kept from. It is not just the trial, but the “hour” of trial. Christ is promising to keep believers from the very time period that contains the trials, namely the tribulation. The purpose of the tribulation, the purpose of the rapture, the meaning of 1 Thessalonians 5:9, and the interpretation of Revelation 3:10 all give clear support to the pre-tribulational position. If the Bible is interpreted literally and consistently, the pre-tribulational position is the most biblically-based interpretation."

      Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/rapture-tribulation.html#ixzz3IWzJnTGz

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    5. Elizabeth, God Bless...I keep trying to make many of the same points to people. The more I study the more I realize there are numerous, and I mean numerous reasons for the Pre-Trib!!! Keep Looking Up, Jimmy

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    6. That was great; exactly the sort of answer I needed to the question. Thanks!

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  2. "Respectfully, it is possible that the Lord can protect His own from whatever wrath he is to pour out on flesh."

    Hi Jeff...Of course He can. Certainly nobody who believes in the pre-trib Rapture believes otherwise. The point is He promised to remove the generation of believers alive at the time before the unleashing of His wrath during the Tribulation.

    Jeff, think about the Tribulation for a moment. What is its purpose?

    We could list several, but at the very least we have the following:

    1. Judge and punish a Christ-rejecting world.

    2. Purge Israel and bring the Jewish remnant (about one-third of Israel, according to Zechariah 13:7-9) back into their covenant relationship with God, and bring them to the point where they finally acknowledge and receive their true Messiah, Jesus Christ.

    That's what triggers the Second Coming, incidentally (Matt. 23:37-39; Hosea 5:15).

    Not only that, but in the first half of the Tribulation there will apparently be a global revival as 144,000 Jewish evangelists will be sealed and will preach the gospel the world over (Rev. 7:1-8), as well as the Two Witnesses who will preach the gospel in Jerusalem until they are killed and resurrected (Rev. 11:1-13).

    Now, one of my questions for those who argue for the Church going through the Tribulation (and I mean in general--I'm not picking on you personally) is as follows:

    Just where, exactly, do you see the Church fitting into all of this?

    Speaking of the Church, it seems to me that many who believe in a post-trib Rapture might do well to remind themselves of the intrinsic nature of that body of born-again believers.

    In John 20, we read that on the evening of Resurrection Sunday, Jesus "popped in" on His disciples, so to speak. You know the story...He breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit." But Thomas wasn't there, and when the others told him they had seen that Lord, Thomas stubbornly refused to believe them unless he saw the scars.

    Eight days later, that's exactly what Thomas saw--the tangible proof of God's power and presence he had faithlessly refused to believe. But recall what Jesus said to Thomas:

    "Blessed are those who have not seen, and yet have believed."

    In a single breathtaking sentence, Jesus encapsulates the quintessential nature of the Church.

    Q: What have we not seen?

    A: Tangible proof of God's power and presence.

    Q: Will people see tangible proof of God's power and presence during the Tribulation?

    A: Oh yeah, big time (Rev. 6:16-17).

    Q: Then how does it make biblical sense to have the Church on earth during the Tribulation?

    A: None that I can see.

    People who see the Church as being on earth during the Tribulation need to reconcile the above in some type of scripturally consistent way.

    I'm not trying to hammer on you or anything, Jeff, because I sure don't claim to have all the answers. I'm just pointing out a couple of the many reasons why I personally can't see any way around a pre-trib Rapture.

    You're right about Exodus, but it's like Elizabeth said. Not to get all dispensational on you or anything, but trying to force fit what God said or did to Israel in the Old Testament onto the Church frequently leads to problems and confusion, not to mention things that flat out contradict other clear teaching in Scripture.

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    1. Very good point, Greg, What would more suffering for the church accomplish anyway? Haven[t we suffered enough? I certainly have.

      Ask the suffering persecuted church in Africa, China and elsewhere if they wouldn´t a reprieve. If Jesus would keep the church protected during that time of horrendous tribulation then while at the same time allow us to be the target of such pain.

      Of course, even using such human reasoning shows the weakness in the post trib argument. It seems to me that people in that camp do not ascribe finality to the Lord pardoning all of our sins on the cross. It is as if they feel the need to be purified from some remaining unforgiven sin that was not payed for at the cross.

      It really is a matter of faith and hope and taking the words of the scriptures at face value which you have done very well with the example of Thomas.

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  3. This passage in Exodus illustrates the plan that the Almighty has in taking care of His people. It has however, come with some very clear direction for action of doing on the part of His people.
    In preparation
    Exodus 12:15
    Seven days shall ye eat unleavened bread; even the first day ye shall put away leaven out of your houses: for whosoever eateth leavened bread from the first day until the seventh day, that soul shall be cut off from Israel.
    Matthew 16:10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?

    11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees?

    12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

    The action is to not ingest the leaven, but what is the leaven of the Pharisees?
    It seems to me that it had an effect on them. And it was necessary to avoid it.

    The other action was to have the Blood of the Lamb on the doorposts. This is one that is definitely not dated for expiration.

    Verse 21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover.

    22 And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the bason, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the bason; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning.

    Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

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    1. "The other action was to have the Blood of the Lamb on the doorposts. This is one that is definitely not dated for expiration."

      Yes that IS expired. Good and gone. We don't kill lambs and paint our doorposts with the blood anymore. The Bride living in the Age of Grace (us) do not make sacrifices. Our relationship with the Lord is completely different than the relationship with God Exodus Israelites had.

      The Passover blood was two things, and I use past tense "was"--

      --a real event that really happened for literal purposes
      --a picture of the coming crucifixion.

      The Exodus blood on door event is exactly the kind of event we're attempting to lovingly explain is exactly the kind of event not to extrapolate into eschatology or any other allegorization...the Passover blood event has nothing to do with the coming rapture.

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  4. The "church", you say but what is that? The whole bunch who say that they are?
    And yet offend the Almighty with their profane traditions and images? Which are too endless to list?
    I have examined myself and these things and have to say that the Word of God calls me out of it. To say that I am practicing "liberty" when in fact I am doing just what Peter did here in Matthew 16. He had just been commended by Christ. It is widely accepted that His name is written in the Lambs book if life.

    Matthew 16:21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

    22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.

    23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

    HE said to Peter, get the behind me satan? THOU ART AN OFFENCE UNTO ME.

    Right here, this is the place were the rubber meets the road. While we have the authority to do great things for Christ does not mean that everything we can dream up and might get to gain approval of our peers is good service to Christ.

    And Jean Louis, the Lord does have good purpose in the suffering of his people.

    I have no idea what the Lord has in store for His people in these days other than this.
    He has a plan, many of his people are being dragged out and tortured and killed right now.
    Are those who are the "faithful, are they the ones who also preach false doctrine or have a "deal" worked out with government? Is that the "church" too? So how clean and worthy are we that we should not suffer?
    Christ is going to return, what will He find? He has given us everything we need until He does.
    Here is your food drop Christian:
    John1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

    2 The same was in the beginning with God.

    3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

    4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

    5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

    6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

    7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.

    8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

    9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

    10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.

    11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.

    12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:

    13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.


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    1. Jeff, the "church" is the global body of confessing believers. The church as we are told in Matthew 13:24-30 is full of tares sown by satan. Therefore we on earth do not know for sure ALL of who is in the body and who is not. It is enough to know that Jesus does.

      At His timing, He will rapture His believing church into heaven, glorifying the living and resurrecting & glorifying the dead, and bringing us home. This will occur prior to the Tribulation AKA Time of Jacob's Trouble.

      You mentioned how clean and worthy do we need to be not to suffer? There are several errors in your question. First, escaping the Tribulation does not mean Christians escape suffering. Many are suffering now. Many suffered before. Suffering is not the same as enduring God's wrath. We suffer now, the Tribulation is wrath. We are called to suffer (1 Peter 4:1). But we are not appointed to wrath. (1 Thess 5:9)

      As for "worthy"??? The entire point of redemption since the Fall is that none of us are worthy of a relationship with God. No, not one. It's despite our unworthiness, that God had been dealing with us in His different plans over time. Personal worthiness has nothing to do with who is in the Age of Conscience, who is in the Age of Law, who is in the Age of Grace, who is in the Tribulation and who is in the Millennial Kingdom.

      You're making it more complicated than it is for that very reason- you've mixed in a notion of personal worthiness into the doctrine of last days eschatology. You've been shown many verses and resources that the pre-Tribulation rapture is a fact and will happen. You're unworthy from the outset, just remember that. God is sovereign and He placed each of us in different ages for His reasons. You're here now and might go thru the rapture not because you're worthier than another person, but because it is God's will.

      Sometimes it's important to study, pray and then... have the faith of a child to believe a doctrine.

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  5. 1 Corinthians 5:7
    7 Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

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  6. "The 'church,' you say but what is that?"

    I think I've located the problem. When you can lay out an absolutely crystal clear, biblically accurate answer to that question (and I am stunned at how many cannot), most of your other questions will answer themselves.

    Sadly and in all honesty, however, I've seen little in your posts that suggests to me that you really *can* lay out an absolutely crystal clear, biblically accurate answer to the question "What is the Church?" On the contrary.

    You quote tons of Scripture, yet you seem possessed of a vague, displaced sense of unworthiness that is apparently motivating you to prepare to somehow "suffer for Christ" in some nebulous, ill-defined way, presumably to assuage those feelings of unworthiness.

    How noble. How heroic. How Rambo-esque.

    How self-glorifying.

    This is a tough one, because we *ARE* unworthy. We *ARE* told we will suffer for His name (which has absolutely nada to do with the Tribulation). We *DON'T* deserve to be saved by His grace. We *ALL* share those feelings of unworthiness--if we don't, there's something bad wrong!

    But rather than making us want to suffer for Him out of misplaced feelings of self-recrimination, it should make us want to live for Him. I'm so happy that He saved me--I'm so happy that His precious blood washed away my sins and that I've been made a new creature in Christ that it makes me want to honor Him as Lord in my heart, study and obey His Word, and tell others that He'll do the same for them.

    Are multitudes of Christians in many countries suffering horribly for His name as we speak? You bet. Will Christians in America have to take a bite of the same sandwich? If I were a betting man, I'd put a month's salary on it.

    But there's also something bad wrong when you lash out at other believers whom you perceive as not sharing those same feelings of self-recrimination, and act as if those who deign to believe in the pre-trib Rapture were a gaggle of carnal-minded wimps who have fallen for a fantasy pulled out of a box of Cracker Jacks.

    We get that a lot. And we get r-e-a-l-l-y tired of it.

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  7. Sorry to be a Jane-come-slightly-lately to this, but I have been pondering this post and the ensuing discussing for a few days now. I have nothing original to add, but I simply would like to comment on a few things.

    Elizabeth, you did a very good job of "rightly dividing the word", regarding Jeff's ascribing OT Scriptures NT meanings they do not have.

    Jean Louis: "It seems to me that people in that camp do not ascribe finality to the Lord pardoning all of our sins on the cross. It is as if they feel the need to be purified from some remaining unforgiven sin that was not payed for at the cross." YES! It's almost like a protestant version of purgatory.

    Greg: I agree, self-recrimination is actually a subtle form of self-glorification.

    As for the timing of the rapture, 70 sevens have been decreed for Daniel's people. Daniel was a Jewish man. 69 of those sevens have passed. Only one "week" remains, and it has been decreed for Daniel's people, as Greg explained above (11/8, 12:16pm, point 2), and also for dealing with unbelievers (Greg again, point 1). Theology 101 - the church is not Israel.

    -Carolyn

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    1. Carolyn, I appreciate, admire and almost envy your sobriety with words. I am blessed with explaining in 3 paragraphs what you can say with 8 words. :). It´s a gift that I don´t have yet! All my life growing up as a repressed, oppressed, depressed child in a very strict, authoritarian hyper-Catholic family, I was always told to shut up by the monks that raised me when I was asking deep pertinent questions about the Bible and Jesus. Finally, the Lord delivered me of my paralyzing fears when I was born again at 22. Who said that women have more words than men? Jean-Louis-come-more-than-lately.

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    2. Jean-Louis, nothing to appreciate, admire or envy, brother. If I feel "wordy", believe you me, I can talk for hours with the best of them! Sometimes the Lord gives me the ability to pare down my words into something more concise. :)

      God be praised that you were delivered from such a background, indeed glory to Him for saving us all, mighty things He has done, and holy is His name.

      Looking forward to meeting you all face to face in the future!

      -Carolyn

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    3. Hi Carolyn, I keep asking the Lord to teach me to speak like him.
      So He gave the gift of writing poetry when I met my wife, my inspiration a few years ago. This is about the only times I can resume a story in a few words. Yeah, won´t it be something when we meet all these brothers and sisters in the near future! You can find some of my poems here: http://thelightseed.blogspot.com Come and visit, my door is always opened for family, friends, and visitors.

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  8. Hi Carolyn -- You know, it's not like I'm trying to score some points and "win" the argument here or anything. I don't feel compelled to do that anymore. After all, Elizabeth said all that needed to be said, really.

    It's just that I've dealt with so many people like this before that I finally learned that false doctrines never exist in isolation. They're like bacteria--they grow in colonies.

    For example, as soon as I hear someone talk about God preserving "His own" through "tribulation," I know exactly where they are going, and I know exactly what I am dealing with--no matter how many Scriptures they quote.

    It's like when you see a cockroach scurrying across your kitchen floor--you don't think, you stomp.

    It really does break my heart to see people become isolated in little doctrinal bunkers like that for the simple reason that they are missing so much of what Jesus wants to do in their lives. There's so much of His grace and His goodness that they seem to be missing out on, because all they seem to care about is tearing down others' faith rather than building it up.

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    1. Greg, I understand exactly what you are saying. I just felt you made a very salient point. :) As you again have done here.

      -Carolyn

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  9. Hi Greg, them are fightn´words...cockroaches in colonies, that sounds terrifying... I feel for you... all these crackling sounds...Yikes... Funny, I hardly get any comments on my blog, I don´t know why. Maybe it´s because I am a story teller from North Africa and my way of repelling people who are bugging me is to take them on a tangent and make them lose the thread they are on that they have rehearsed so many times that they don´t know how to think for themselves., that is biblically. I visited your blog. It looks like it´s worth another visit. :) If you´d like, come and visit me at http://thelightseed.blogspot.com or http://lightnseed.blogspot.com which is my other recent "English Only Edition". Sorry, no pizza for me this side of heaven... Doctor´s order. But no ads either, Blessings to you.

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  10. Thank you, Jean-Louis. I really like your blog as well. Very nicely done. Lots of timely stuff on the New Age movement/religion, etc.

    Personally, I decided not to incorporate comment functionality into my website, mainly because I simply don't have time for that. I barely have time to write an article a month, let alone respond to comments, settle arguments, etc. I don't know how Elizabeth does it--it would make me nuts.

    By the way, I didn't actually mean to call anyone a "cockroach." I was referring to the errant doctrines that certain groups promulgate: replacement theology, salvation by works, anti-OSAS, the post-trib Rapture and other screwy ideas about end-time events, etc. I'm just saying that I know from experience that no false doctrine exists in a vacuum--they always bring their friends. By the time you finish dealing with one, you spot several others scurrying out of the cracks.

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  11. Greg I liked the cockroach analogy. It's even more vivid than leaven. Yeast bubbles in the dough and if you stamp out one bubble there's another one growing over there and then another and another. Same thought: introduce or allow a bad element to the church body and soon there will be too many to keep track of stamp out or stay away from. Infestation!

    I'm able to write a blog a day and moderate comments, lol, because I'm not married and I have no kids. :) I try to redeem the time.

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