Part Three of a three-part series:
Let me now try to answer the questions that may be in your mind after seeing the startling evidence in my first two articles (Parts One and Two). Just what is the story behind these indications of hidden, pre-positioned wolves? What might their agenda be?
THE CHURCH — ASLEEP IN THE LIGHT
The church world today (the American church world in particular) is completely, totally, utterly and absolutely unprepared for a time of “great tribulation” in the last days…something which Jesus prophesied and forewarned of in the Olivet Discourse. Some believers are prepared and expecting these things. Most are not.
And when these times of trouble impact the conservative Christian community, particularly in ‘cozy-comfy’ prosperous America…there will ensue chaos and disintegration in the church world. This is a situation which the wolves will exploit…again, something that is specifically predicted by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse
Throughout this third article, I am going to argue, for example, that there is no such thing as a “pre-tribulation rapture” (among other erroneous teachings these days). And that this largely explains the role of the wolves who spring into action when panic spreads among those believers who are unprepared, at the emergence of the Antichrist and a missing rapture.
POINT OF FACT: ‘FENCE-SITTING’ IS A VIRTUAL ENDORSEMENT OF PRE-TRIB DOCTRINE
I have spoken with about 50 to 60 pastors over the past ten years, 99% of whom explain that while they don’t feel entirely comfortable with the doctrine of PreTrib and while they teach on the subject as infrequently as possible…they are nevertheless more comfortable sitting on the fence on this issue rather then decisively rejecting or accepting the doctrine once for all.
The horrifically flawed argument they make is…that it just isn’t terribly important what position they hold to. They view Bible prophecy as having somewhat lesser importance.
But here is the problem:
First of all, if PreTrib is an accurate, biblical teaching…then, of course, these pastors are absolutely correct: It doesn’t matter WHAT you believe on the issues. You’re going to be raptured ‘pre-tribulationally’ either way. Your views, whether correct or incorrect, are of very little consequence.
BUT…if PreTrib is incorrect…if PreTrib is unbiblical…then all these fence-sitting pastors are making the absolute worst and most tragic error of their lives…leaving all their flocks as sitting ducks for satanic deception…and leaving themselves as sitting ducks.
It is NOT enough to say: “Oh well, when the time comes…when the hour of crisis arrives, we’ll make the proper adjustments”.
Was Jesus wasting His breath when He went into detail in Matthew 25 about the spiritual preparation required for this time of darkness which precedes His return? He talks about the five virgins who prepare to go out into the darkness by filling their lamps with oil…and the five other virgins who do NOT fill their lamps with oil, resulting in dire consequences.
For the record, here are some highlights from the Olivet Discourse. We will be touching on these passages throughout the article:
Matthew 24:15 and 9-13 — “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet [verse 15]…they will then deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.
At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.
Matthew 24:29,31 — “…immediately after the tribulation of those days…He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, and from one end of the heavens to the other.”
Regardless of these clear and simple statements in the above passages in which the “elect” will be “gathered” only “after” the great tribulation, there are vast numbers of people who have been led to believe there is going to be a “pre-tribulation rapture”…which they believe will whisk them away “before all the bad stuff happens”.
And millions more who, under the influence of the false doctrine of “Dominionism” (without even being consciously aware of this influence) dismiss any and all Bible prophecy issues as “just not that important”. As I mentioned earlier – think Rick Warren, as a chief example.
JESUS’ OLIVET DISCOURSE APPLIED TO THE FIRST GENERATION OF THE CHRISTIAN ERA AND THEREFORE TO ALL GENERATIONS OF THE CHRISTIAN ERA!
Back to the PreTrib question: I had asked the question in Part One — if Peter, James and John (and others who were in attendance) had lived to these ‘end times’ events described by Jesus, would they have been gathered/raptured after the Great Tribulation as Jesus predicted?
Or…would they have been whisked away from earth before the “70th Week” seven year period…as claimed by PreTrib proponents?
Isn’t it absurdly counter-biblical to claim Peter, James, John and all other believers of those days would have experienced a “PreTribulation rapture”…in a direct contradiction to Jesus’ descriptions?
And so therefore, if the believers of the first generation of the Christian era were to expect a post-“great tribulation” translation (rapture)…all other generations of the Christian era should likewise expect such.
Jesus made it clear in Matthew 24:36 He personally did not know the “day or the hour” of His own return. Only the Father in heaven. He did not know whether He would return within the lifetimes of Peter, James and John…or whether He might return over 2000 years later!
Jesus was assuming there was a real possibility His direct listeners (Peter, James, John, etc.) could be the ones to survive to these last days which He was describing. PreTrib proponents cannot make the argument that this is ‘merely hypothetical’:
Jesus’ words applied to the first generation of the Christian era…and therefore obviously to all generations of the Christian era.
The Olivet Discourse applies specifically to any and all Jesus-followers. The very text makes it crystal clear Jesus was addressing His followers, His “disciples”:
Matthew 24:3 – “…the disciples came to Jesus asking Him, Tell us, when will these things happen…?”
Matthew 24:9 – “Then they will deliver you to tribulation…”.
For many years and decades, church-goers have been told the Olivet Discourse only applies to “Jewish people” regardless of the plain fact that the text itself states that Jesus was addressing “the disciples”, i.e. believers. Peter, James, John and the others were believers. According to the text, He wasn’t addressing specifically “Jews”. Rather, He was addressing specifically “disciples”, i.e. followers of Jesus.
We will delve more deeply into this aspect a bit further down.
But let the reader be forewarned — a satanic world regime is going to explode onto the scene with unprecedented force and globe-spanning ferocity…and many (most) folks are going to find themselves completely caught off guard and spiritually unprepared…with their “pre-trib rapture” having gone missing. They will then go into a state of complete panic and shock…and will thus be perfectly primed for the Devil’s long-planned Apostasy Deception.
This is exactly what Jesus describes in the Olivet Discourse passages (Matthew 24,25 / Mark 13 / Luke 21)…when He explains there will be such desperation and panic that (erstwhile) believers will be betraying their fellow believers and very own family members…virtually to death:
“But you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death…” (Luke 21:16)
HOW DO THESE PRE-POSITIONED WOLVES LURE SO MANY BELIEVERS INTO APOSTASY?
With the explosive emergence of a ferocious Antichrist who will have been unleashed upon the earth and will be demanding worship and a repudiation of Christian faith, Jesus minces no words in saying that “most” believers will fall into apostasy. Look at Matthew 24:9-13:
“Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you…At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many...and most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.”
The apostasy deception plan goes into action when all of these pre-positioned “false prophets” (these satanic “Christian” leaders”) step in and begin soothingly convincing panic-stricken church-goers to cooperate with the Antichrist regime, the new world order.
Notice the progression described by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse when he explains that firstly there will be panic and then in the midst of the panic…that secondly, the “false prophets” emerge and spring into action (Matthew 24:10-11):
“At that time 1) many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 2) Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many”.
FALSE PROPHETS OFFER FALSE COMFORT
It seems rather obvious…that what these false prophets do is…offer false comfort. And it says they will “mislead many”. In fact their very identity is misleading…as I have been trying to argue during this three part series:
They are “false” prophets…which is to say, they are viewed by the church world as true prophets…as true Christian leaders (which is why they are able to successfully mislead many)…when in fact they are false…they are satanic. Satanic agents of the Antichrist.
The objective of these wolves will be to convince millions to go along with the “mark of the beast” program which, I am virtually certain, they will argue is “most certainly NOT the mark of the beast!”. And thus will millions of erstwhile (former) believers have been lured to their eternal doom. Not that anyone “loses” their salvation…but that it will become manifest they were never genuine believers to begin with!
All serious Bible students need to consider carefully the Parable of the Sower with its warnings about those who at first receive the truth with joy but at some later time when “affliction or persecution arise”, they fall away.
THE GRAVE DANGERS OF “SALVATION PRESUMPTION-ISM”
In fact, let’s talk about “falling away” for a moment. How can someone fall away if they have already been previously “saved”? The short answer is that it is a question of whether they were “saved” to begin with! It is a question of genuine believers versus non-genuine believers.
According to the Book of James, if their “faith” is not producing a changed life, then their faith is not a saving faith. And since the statements in the Book of James have been directed to believers (or “believers” with quotation marks, as the case may be)…thus should ALL believers take careful heed not to come under this deception which the Book of James warns of (along with many other such warnings throughout Scripture).
And yet…in today’s “mainstream Evangelicalism” such care, concern and personal reflection is virtually non-existent. Instead, it has been replaced by a blaring presumption: “Hey buddy, I’m saved and nobody can tell me different.”
The biblical fact of the matter is that there are folks who have been DECEIVED into thinking they are true believers. They are convinced of their salvation but their actions are suggesting something else.
“BUT SO-AND-SO HAS SUCH A LOVE FOR THE LORD!”
And there is yet another category of believers who are at risk: Those who ARE, in fact, currently loving God and who ARE, in fact, currently walking on a narrow path…but who don’t understand there is such a thing as falling out of love and falling into apostasy at some point in the future:
“Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” Matthew 24:12 (from the Olivet Discourse).
Notice above how they had a love for God but the love disappeared…and how they are then contrasted with “the one” who “endures” and subsequently receives salvation.
This is where I have seen some folks become confused. They can’t fit it into their heads…that no matter how joyous someone may be and no matter how much praise someone may have for God…people can and do…turn on God. I’ve seen it happen. And I have come before God in fear and trembling, praying that He may “establish” me in my faith (Romans 16:25), that I may stand fast in whatever troubled times may come my way!
THE TRAGEDY OF ROMANS NINE
Almost in disbelief, I will look around me at some of the lovely people at my local church and think: “They are such joyous, loving believers. How could they ‘fall away’ at the occasion of the Abomination of Desolation’?” But there are many folks we would view from our finite and human perspective as ‘good and decent believers’…yet who will meet with the tragedy of apostasy and doom.
It takes me time and again to Romans 9:1-3…a passage over which I have often marveled and pondered: “I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen…”
The Olivet Discourse and the Parable of the Sower are clear in their warnings about how, when faced with tribulation and persecution, many erstwhile “believers” will fold.
I would submit to you that most conservative church-goers in the modern day do not understand the dangers of apostasy and thus they do not understand the dangers of the Great Apostasy Plot described in the Olivet Discourse.
They have no idea. They think “apostasy” is something that happens to other people. Something that happens to those ‘egghead’ professors at crazy far-left liberal seminaries that have long since gone off the reservation. But that’s not how it works. The Devil’s objective is to drag you towards an eternal demise. He’s not just trying to get you to “backslide”. His goal is to get you to split the gates of Hell wide open. Put simply: If he has to go, he wants you to go.
Watch how this works: The Antichrist emerges on the world scene. Then, Antichrist agents come forward, demanding a pledge of allegiance and acceptance of the “mark of the beast”. A conservative church-goer’s first reaction is to refuse…because the Bible’s warnings are clear — eternal doom awaits those who do such a thing (Rev. 14:9-11). But the Antichrist agents offer the options — either accept the mark or go to the deepest dungeons, or worse.
THE “MARK OF THE BEAST” CRISIS: “I’M SAVED, SO WHAT’S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN?”
And so, I believe what is going to happen is…people who have been tragically misled into having this presumption of salvation…will thus rationalize in those desperate decision hours following the Antichrist’s introduction to the world (via this ferocious “abomination of desolation”):
Hey look, these Evangelical ‘big shot’ leaders [the wolves] have told us this is not the “mark of the beast” that the government is imposing – I feel very queasy about that claim because this looks like a dead-ringer for the mark of the beast…and now I am being swayed and heavily pressured…but here’s the thing – what’s the worst that could happen? After all, I already know I’m ‘saved’ – God will forgive my momentary weakness.
Something like that.
And so we see the extremely grave dangers of (what we could refer to as) “salvation presumption-ism” and how it plays a central role in successfully luring millions of (erstwhile) believers to their eternal doom. Again, not that they “lose” their salvation but that it will be borne out they were never genuine believers to begin with.
All believers must ask themselves the question — that though they may have received with joy, the truth of the Gospel at some point in their life…will they, through God’s strength and by His grace, not abandon their faith in the moments of trial?
Keep in mind God’s promises here — that there is no trial, tribulation or testing that will come upon you but that God will also “provide a way of escape that you may be able to bear it” (1Cor.10:13). Particularly for many American Christians who have lived in the lap of luxury and have seen no serious persecution in their lifetimes…this may be the very first time they will truly know what it means to have “the peace that passes all understanding”. A peace, a serenity and a strength that defies all logic. (Philippians 4:7)
And another hopeful note here: I am inclined to believe that by virtue of being given an inside peek at these ‘last days’ deceptions, your chances -and mine- of sidestepping these things have now dramatically skyrocketed. Hopefully now, you will easily recognize these ploys and walk away. Sadly, only a very rare few of us in these last days are paying any heed to Jesus’ survivor manual, the Olivet Discourse.
Most believers today have been under a life-long propagandizing effect of the ‘salvation presumption” false doctrine…such that they cannot get it into their heads that, spiritually speaking they must never view their salvation status as a foregone conclusion.
Certainly, if you are a faithful follower, you should have a wonderful and strong sense of assurance and peace. But not to view your salvation as a presumption, nor as a foregone conclusion.
According to Jesus’ direct statements in the Olivet Discourse (difficult though this may be for some to assimilate into their thinking), someone may have the appearance and even the behavior of a believer at the present time…but it may later become evident that they were not a genuine believer!
Look at His words in Matthew 24:12-13 — “…most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved…”.
Read the above scripture very carefully: 1) There are those who are currently loving Jesus (i.e. believers)…but who will cease loving Jesus. They had faith but now that faith is gone. By the way, haven’t we ALL seen this happen in people’s lives? It is by no means an unknown phenomenon.
And then 2) notice further in this text, that this “love-grown-cold” group is now contrasted with those who “endure to the end”. It is clearly indicating that THOSE particular folks will be saved…and obviously the former group will not — those of whom it could be said that they formerly loved Jesus! Take heed, o aspiring Christian!
Modern-day Evangelicals, for the most part, cannot fit this into their head: You and I are to view ourselves as being at risk of falling away. Falling into apostasy. Notice I didn’t say we are all inclined to falling away. Some are more susceptible than others. Some, for example, are paying attention to the Olivet Discourse and some are not.
Some are applying “all diligence” in their personal holiness and separation from sin, in order to “confirm their calling”…per the instructions of 2 Peter 2:10…instead of the profound spiritual laziness that prevails in today’s conservative Christian church culture (particularly in America, I would suggest).
Yes, it may turn out in the end that your name was indeed written down in the Book of Life all along. But the fact of the matter is you don’t get to know that in advance with 100% certainty.
What you do know is that you need to “persevere” until the end…just as Jesus clearly stipulates in the aforementioned Matthew 24:13…and as is stipulated throughout the Bible. What you do know is that those who continue practicing sin “will not inherit the Kingdom” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10).
Hebrews 3:14 — “We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.”
Hebrews 10:36 — “You need to perservere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”
James 2:14 — “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?”
Notice, for example, the precision wording of the above Hebrews 3:14: There is a present tense status (“we have come to share in Christ”)…but which, from our earthly vantage point, will only be truly confirmed and truly proven in the future (“…if we hold firmly to the end”). Of course, from God’s vantage point, He will have known all along who are His own. He “foreknows” those who will turn out to have been His true followers (Romans 8:29).
In other words, holding firmly till the end will demonstrate and prove that our faith was genuine. The actions of “holding firmly” do not save a person. Holding firmly is merely a manifestation of genuine and saving faith.
As the Book of James clarifies (note the above James 2:14)…”deeds” are proof of a genuine and saving faith. And 2 Peter 1:10 indicates that we can “confirm” our salvation only by continued “diligence”: “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you…”. So again, assurance of salvation and confirmation of salvation…are only derived from continued “diligence” in holy living.
ANY BELIEVER IS POTENTIALLY IN DANGER OF BEING DECEIVED
Despite the dangerously absentminded notions of so many church-goers today…NO ONE, absolutely no one…is exempt from Jesus’ warnings and from the warnings all over the New Testament…which state that ALL believers are at risk (if they are not careful) of falling into a deception regarding their own salvation status.
“Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers…will inherit the kingdom of God.” 1Corinthians 6:9-10
There it is, a point-blank statement in the Bible directed to the believers of Corinth and (obviously) all believers…that an erstwhile ‘believer’ can become deceived about his salvation status.
I have been personally aware of veritable busloads of church-goers over the years…who have slipped into idolatrous behavior and fornication and such…but who develop some sort of weird schizophrenic mindset: Sin all week long, “worship” on Sunday. And I certainly do not exempt myself. Any time a believer commits sin, there has been a descent into spiritual madness of a sort.
And that kind of spiritual schizophrenia, such as Eve partook of in the garden…is always very dangerous. Thus does the Bible warn “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” In other words, a lot of church folks are in desperate need of shaking off their Jekyll-and-Hyde double-think lifestyles. A “sober spirit” and an awakened and active mind (“be alert”) do not allow for spiritual schizophrenia.
Again though – it is not that these apostates (those who fit the Apostle Paul’s descriptions in 1 Cor. 6) would “lose” their salvation but that they were never genuine believers to begin with. Yet tragically, there are huge numbers of church folk who run around, trumpeting:
I know absolutely that I am saved for all eternity and no one [not even the Bible?] can tell me different.
I prayed for salvation in Vacation Bible school when I was six years old…and that’s that.
Hey man, “once saved, always saved”. Get off my back!
And so on.
Thus, they are excluding the possibility of falling into apostasy and of falling into deception about their salvation status, in direct contradiction and dismissal of these numerous warnings in the Bible…starting with Jesus’ warning in the Parable of the Sower, and which He reiterates in the Olivet Discourse.
To be clear – yes, I do ultimately believe in “eternal security”. I do believe in “once saved, always saved”. But only God knows with 100% certainty who are His own. He has absolute knowledge. We, as finite humans, have something less than absolute knowledge. 1Corinthians 8:2 states: “If anyone simply presumes to know something, he does not yet know it as he should.”
Many of us might have (and deserve to have) a very high degree of certainty regarding our salvation…but it is always going to be something less than absolute, 100% certainty. God has built into our Christian experience an element that can never be removed during our earthly lifetime, which is that we are to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling”. You can’t get around that.
OTHER DECEPTION TACTICS OF THE WOLVES
Notice in the Olivet Discourse text…how the wolves are 1) going to utilize “great signs and wonders”…and then 2) how they try to lure their intended victims out to remote and hidden locations. Matthew 24:24-26:
“…false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you in advance. So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them.”
Regarding this attempt to lure them to remote and hidden locations, I can imagine the arguments of these “false prophets”/satanic agents:
Look, we need to get you to safety. The local populace is up in arms over your reluctance to sign on. You’re in danger of vigilante mobs. I have been told the government has some relocation camps at remote sites and at secret interior locations inside military bases…which have been made available for your safety. And by the way, this mark is not the “mark of the beast”–chuckle, chuckle. Come on people. Its a government mandate, meant for your own good. To facilitate commerce. To stimulate the economy. To increase security and enable the government to do its job. The Bible does say to “obey every ordinance” after all. You shouldn’t disobey the government.
Something like that.
And so…when they have lured these people to remote locations, they will then ‘lower the boom’: “Accept the mark of the beast and sign on to the new world regime…or else you will remain here imprisoned!”
Remember, all these “false prophet”/wolves will be highly recognizable and highly popular “Christian” leaders. Names everyone in the Christian community would recognize and respect. Such is clearly indicated in the Matthew/Mark/Luke texts — the “false prophets” are described as having access to the top platforms, such that they have the ear of the entire Christian community. In other words, these wolves are positioned at the very top levels of leadership.
And as I mentioned before…possibly, many of these leaders may not be out-and-out satanic. They may merely be heavily duped and fooled into helping corral the majority of the conservative church population into the new world order. Nevertheless, the Bible categorizes them as false prophets.
I imagine also that some of these leaders will be just as much under a kind of Stockholm Syndrome collapse/terror…as some of their victims. Sadly, I see huge numbers of ‘dupes’ already…operating at the present time in Christian leadership circles.
“PRE-TRIB” DOCTRINE SAYS THE OLIVET DISCOURSE DOESN’T APPLY TO MODERN-DAY BELIEVERS?
Let me make my position clear if I haven’t already: There is no such thing as a “pre-tribulation rapture”. It is not going to happen. A complete fabrication.
The ironic thing about “PreTrib” is that it has no passage in the Bible. Not a single passage in the Bible which teaches this doctrine. It has no flagship passage. It has no home passage. Nothing.
Not even aspects of PreTrib doctrine have any home passages. Unlike, for example, the Doctrine of the Trinity which can point to precise and plainly worded passages for each of the three persons of God, in which each passage declares the divinity of each of those three Persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). PreTrib has absolutely nothing of the kind.
By the way, PreTrib proponents are fond of pointing out this Doctrine of the Trinity…as an example of a doctrine that supposedly has no home passages. Oh, but it does! — Phil 1:2 / Col. 2:9 / Acts 5:3-9 as a few examples. By contrast, PreTrib doctrine has none. They can only point to passages which they claim imply PreTrib Rapture doctrine! It is astonishing that this doctrine has ever gotten any footing in the church world, considering the utter absence of biblical support.
It is therefore additionally ironic and interesting how many PreTrib supporters are under the impression (well meaning though they might be) that those who disagree with PreTrib must scramble to disprove PreTrib. Their starting point is ‘PreTrib is true — now try to disprove it’.
Nothing could be further from the truth! The ball is squarely in the court of PreTrib proponents…to prove the existence of their doctrine in the first place! The responsibility is on their shoulders. Open up the pages of Scripture and show us where PreTrib doctrine is taught. That hasn’t been done, nor will it ever be done…because there IS no passage which teaches this doctrine.
And as the above paragraph heading indicates…PreTrib proponents are heavily opposed to the Olivet Discourse being an applicable passage for today’s believers! This is obviously because the Olivet Discourse teaches a POST-“great tribulation” gathering of the elect (i.e. a “rapture” of believers)…in direct contradiction to PreTrib claims. But PreTrib’s arguments about the Olivet Discourse fail…one after the other:
REBUTTAL TO PRE-TRIB DOCTRINE
In the Olivet Discourse passages, the disciples came to Jesus, asking Him what to look out for in the end times. Jesus proceeded to tell Peter, James, John (et al) in point-blank fashion…that, should they live to those last days…they should expect to be on earth along with the Antichrist, following the “abomination of desolation”.
In other words, they are to expect to be on earth DURING (at least sizable portions of) the 70th Week of Daniel…this seven year period.
Jesus makes the statement “when YOU see the abomination…” and “they will deliver YOU to tribulation”. Therefore, this is clearly indicating that those very disciples whom He was addressing needed to literally have an expectation of possibly surviving to the time of “great tribulation”…and therefore a very real possibility of entering that time of great tribulation!
If those words applied to Peter, James, John and others who were in attendance…then when did they STOP applying? Answer: Jesus’ words NEVER stopped applying to Peter, James and John…and any claim to the contrary would be wildly anti-biblical, I would dare say.
There is no passage found anywhere in Scripture in which these disciples later on reported: “Oh by the way, we later came to have a countering view to Jesus’ teachings to us in the Olivet Discourse.”
And as I explained in part One, at the time of Jesus’ Olivet Discourse, they and even Jesus (by His own admission – Matthew 24:36) had no way of knowing there were at least 2000 years to go before the Lord’s return.
Therefore, Jesus was going on the assumption that either His direct audience of Jesus-followers would survive to experience these events…or that it might be Jesus-followers 2000 years later…or even longer! Jesus, by His own admission, simply did not know.
Therefore, isn’t it a matter of simple logic…that if Jesus’ words applied to Peter, James, John and all believers of the first generation of the Christian era, they apply to all other generations of the Christian era throughout these last 2000 years?
THE “$64,000 QUESTION” FOR PRETRIB DOCTRINE:
Jesus told Peter (and the others) there is to be a “gathering of the elect”/supernatural transporting/rapture only “after the tribulation of those days” (Matthew 24: 29).
So if Peter had lived to the time of this event…would he have been raptured in a POST-“great tribulation” transporting just as Jesus plainly taught?
OR…would he have been taken up in this PRE-70th Week (“pre-tribulation”) rapture, proposed by Tim LaHaye, Jack Van Impe, Hal Lindsey, John Walvoord, John MacArthur, David Jeremiah, and C.I. Scofield?
As I asked earlier — Who to believe? Jesus or Tim?
I have scoured the Internet. I have scoured Christian book stores. I have done so, for decades on end. I have seen absolutely no answer forthcoming. PreTrib HAS no good answer for this question. How could it?
Jesus plainly taught a post-“great tribulation” rapture to Peter (et al)…and then PreTribbers illogically and counter-biblically insist that Peter switched over to a PreTrib position a few days later. How, pray tell, does that work?
How, where and when was Peter taught a flat-out contradictory position to that which he had received directly from the Lord of Glory in a face-to-face teaching session??
SHOULDN’T THERE HAVE BEEN AN AWKWARD POST-“OLIVET DISCOURSE” MEETING WITH JESUS?
The Olivet Discourse took place two days before the cross. Three days later Jesus had risen…and then there was a 40-day interim period before His ascension, during which He met with His followers on a number of occasions.
If PreTrib were correct, then by all rights Jesus should have met with His followers during this time and issued the following ‘heads-up’:
‘Hey guys, I know it was only about a hundred hours ago or so that I had told you there would be a post-“great tribulation” rapture. Uh…now I’m saying you’ll be raptured before all of that.’
‘You need to reject the Olivet Discourse and begin teaching PreTrib doctrine.’
PRETRIB’S HOLE GETS DEEPER (SO I WOULD ARGUE)
PreTrib proponents claim, for example, that Jesus didn’t view the disciples who were in attendance…as disciples. Nor as Christian followers. They say He only viewed them as “Jews” and therefore does the Olivet Discourse only apply to “Jews”.
But that is a direct and point-blank contradiction to the text…which identifies this group as “disciples” — “the disciples came to Jesus, asking Him…” (Matthew 24:3). According to the text, Jesus was addressing “the disciples”…not “the Jews”! There is the old saying which applies here and was repeated in many of my Grand Rapids School of the Bible college classes — “a text removed from its context is a pretext”.
Another argument they try to make is…that because Jesus is describing the initial violence at the onset of the “great tribulation”, as being located in and around the Jerusalem area…that this means the troubles that follow the “abomination of desolation” only effect Jewish people…and that therefore the Olivet Discourse only applies to Jewish people.
How do these folks not know that the time of tribulation quickly spreads to all the world? Yes, the leading feature of the Great Tribulation (which begins at the middle point of this seven year period)…is the “desolation” of Jerusalem and the attendant holocaust of the Jewish people in the Jerusalem area. Thus, the Abomination of Desolation.
But Jerusalem is merely “ground zero” of the Great Tribulation. Any Bible student worth his salt is routinely aware the Antichrist very quickly spreads his ‘troubles’ and his persecutions all across the globe: Revelation 12:16-17:
“But the earth helped the woman [the righteous remnant of Israel], and the earth opened its mouth and drank up the river which the dragon poured out of his mouth. So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”
Even according to the descriptions from PreTrib doctrine, there supposedly has emerged (inexplicably, I might add) a huge and vast new worldwide population of Christians…a mere 3 1/2 years after this alleged “pre-trib” rapture. Obviously then…Jesus’ warnings and advisories would apply to these folks. When they would see and hear of the “abomination of desolation” they would know it was time to prepare themselves and attempt to get to safer locations.
THE USE OF THE WORD “CHURCH”
Then there is this matter of “the church”. PreTrib supporters claim the Discourse does not apply to those who are “the church”…because “the church” had not yet begun at the time of the Olivet Discourse. They further assert that Jesus did not yet even have “the church” in view because (so we are to understand) He was steadfastly holding out an offer of His kingdom to the Jews until He was rejected by them and sent to the cross. Until that moment, so it is claimed, Jesus was excluding the “church” from view.
But the assertion is incorrect. Jesus DID have”the church” in view all along. Earlier in Matthew, He stated: “This is Peter and upon this rock I will build my church“. Jesus made this statement several chapters earlier in Matthew (Matthew 16:18)…prior to the Olivet Discourse session.
EKKLESIA — “THE CALLED OUT ONES”
And when they claim the “church” had not yet begun…in point of fact, the “calling out” of Jesus-followers began the moment Jesus began to “call out” followers. Isn’t it quite simple? The literal translation for the word “church” (“ekklesia” in the Greek) is “the called out ones”. The moment the fishermen laid down their fishing nets and stood up to follow Jesus…is when “the called out ones” came into existence.
I am not sure which linguist in ‘olden times’ decided to apply the English word “church” to the Greek word for “the called out ones” but technically, the correct translation for the Greek word “the called out ones”…is “the called out ones”!
As you could probably guess from reading the first two parts of this series…I would say I have a very jaundiced view of the motives and the agenda of the “PreTribulation doctrine” originators/innovators in the late 1800’s (specifically C.I. Scofield and his shadowy group of backers). I suspect they took advantage of this word “church” in order to create these misconceptions.
The PreTrib argument that this designation did not apply until the Day of Pentecost…is based on what? It’s based on nothing, I would dare say. With all due respect, it’s an assertion pulled out of thin air.
Their claim that the Discourse does not apply to “the church” because “the church” had not yet begun…is a contradiction to the very meaning of the word “ekklesia”.
If anything, it was on the day in which the temple veil was torn from top to bottom and the price for sin was paid through the shed blood of Jesus…that one could say one era ended and another began! By the time the day of Pentecost had arrived, the Christian era had long since begun.
To be a “Christian” is to follow Christ. In point of fact, the following of Jesus Christ began the very first day people began to follow Jesus.
Certainly, the Day of Pentecost was a momentous occasion with the “pouring out” of the Holy Spirit. But again, no scriptural authority was ever given…nor has any scriptural basis ever been provided…which would indicate the term “ekklesia” could not be applied until that day. That is literally an arbitrary claim…so I would argue.
There are many other wonderful Bible terms which refer to Jesus-followers…of which the term “ekklesia” is only one.
THEIR ARGUMENTS ABOUT JESUS’ REFERENCE TO “THE ELECT”
Another of PreTrib’s arguments is that when Jesus describes this “gathering of the elect” rapture scenario…they then claim the term “elect” refers only to Jews and not to believers. But that makes no sense…even by PreTrib’s own definitions!
Even in their own descriptions of end times, they say there are non-Jewish believers who (inexplicably) emerge after an alleged “pre-tribulation rapture” and are now sprinkled all across the world in sizable numbers during this seven year period. So if there is this “gathering” in the end…are PreTrib supporters absurdly proposing only Jewish believers will be gathered into the arms of Jesus, and all non-Jewish believers would be left behind?
Virtually all PreTribbers with whom I have discussed this aspect will, at this point, concede ‘whoops, you’re right — the “elect” obviously must include all believers, Jew or Gentile, who emerge during this period’.
There are some PreTrib proponents who, realizing they have created a problem in claiming “only Jews” are raptured at the end of the “tribulation”…therefore make the assertion that every single non-Jewish believer on earth has been killed by this time and therefore do not participate in this “gathering”! Their claim is bereft of scriptural support. It is literally counter-biblical: Rev. 13:10 refers to the fact that many believers will spend their time during the “great tribulation” not dead but rather “in captivity”.
Additionally, in the context of all other references to “the elect” throughout the span of the New Testament writings…PreTrib’s claim therefore, that the “elect” in the Olivet Discourse does not refer to believers…is extremely dubious.
There are at least 10 or 12 other references to “the elect” throughout all of the New Testament…in which it is crystal clear these are references to believers. Peter, for example, was apparently still impressed with this term, some 30 years after the fact…as he employed it in the very first verse of the first chapter of First Peter — “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God’s elect, exiles who are scattered…”.
So then…if this reference to the gathering of the “elect” does not strengthen or support the claims of PreTrib…just where DOES PreTrib find support or evidence for its claim that the Olivet Discourse does not apply to believers? Answer: It HAS no support. It has no evidence. And it has no excuse for dismissing or contradicting the simple, straightforward teachings of the Olivet Discourse in which Jesus plainly indicates that “after the tribulation of those days…the angels will gather the elect from the four winds…”.
At the very moment we observe Jesus making these clear and simple statements to Peter, James, John, Andrew and the other disciples who were there…all PreTrib assertions should therefore be considered (as the expression goes) D.O.A. By all rights, the end of the debate.
There are so many other glaring errors and inconsistencies with PreTrib assertions…more than I am going to bring into this discussion. But just a couple more, quickly:
For example, PreTrib proponents routinely refer to a statement from the Discourse, “no one knows the day or the hour” as though this refers to their alleged PreTrib rapture. But Jesus’ comments are referring to the “gathering of the elect” event which happens deep inside the 70th Week (sometime during the second half of those seven years). In absolutely no way does it apply to any alleged event before the 70th Week. And yet this is universally believed throughout the PreTrib world. I would certainly argue that such a wrenching of Scripture is yet further indication of PreTrib’s pattern of tremendous mishandling of Scripture.
A second and final example of these kinds of glaring errors…is the matter of the “first resurrection”. In Revelation 20:4-5 it states: “I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus…They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years…This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who share in the first resurrection“.
Wait a minute! Rev. 20 says the “first resurrection” is the resurrection of those who have been martyred during the Great Tribulation. In contradiction, we have been told by PreTrib proponents that the “first resurrection” occurs at the time of their alleged PreTrib rapture! Rev. 20:4-5 counters this directly — There IS no “first resurrection” at the time of a PreTrib rapture…because there is no PreTrib rapture!
IN CONCLUSION: SPIRITUAL PREPARATION ADVISED AND DESCRIBED BY JESUS IN MATTHEW 25
Besides the extensive comments of Matthew 25 which we will now look at, Jesus also prescribes a powerful prayer for end times believers…a prayer which is only reported in the Gospel of Luke version of the Olivet Discourse:
“Pray that you may be accounted worthy to escape all that is about to happen” (Luke 21:36 )
In other words, there are SOME who will escape and survive all the way to the end…to the actual time of this “gathering of the elect” rapture event. After all, some of us need to survive…or else there would be no one left to “rapture”! Therefore, those rare few who give God’s Word enough honor and pay it enough heed…to even notice this prescribed prayer, and even more so, pray this prayer…may indeed increase the likelihood of having this prayer answered! “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” – James 5:16.
Matthew 25 talks about, among other things, the Parable of the Ten Virgins. Five of these virgins prepare for the Master’s return by filling their lamps with oil. And five of them do not prepare. The way this is described in the parable, the oil enables the virgins to light their lamp and guide their way as they must go out into the darkness to meet the Master.
It is my understanding the oil represents spiritual preparation and spiritual sustenance…while the ‘darkness’ represents the dark hours of the “great tribulation”. As believers, we enter the hours of darkness voluntarily…by taking a stand for Jesus and refusing to worship the beast (the Antichrist) and thus absorbing the world’s wrath.
Spiritual preparation, in my understanding, is to fill our minds with God’s truth and stay in close communication with God through prayer…and remaining aware and alert regarding the time of troubles that are to come…instead of burying ourselves in a state of denial and distraction. Let me carefully qualify — I am not advising God’s faithful to dwell on future troubles in an unhealthy manner. After all, Jesus once said that “each day has enough trouble of its own”.
But the picture which Jesus paints is of a time of trouble followed by…the very Kingdom of God. In other words, the darkest hours come just before the dawn. In the dark hours you are to be looking for that Kingdom. Your lamp is lit and you are looking for the appearance of the Master. It is a hope-filled experience:
“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, for then is your redemption drawing near.” Luke 21:27-28
May God bless you and keep you,
Matt TwoFour — email: email@example.com