Let me make some concluding comments and clear up some remaining questions:
THE CHURCH — ASLEEP IN THE LIGHT
The church world today (the American church 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
I would re-emphasize…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 they don’t feel very comfortable with the doctrine of PreTrib and teach on the subject as infrequently as possible. BUT…they explain they are nevertheless more comfortable sitting on the fence on this issue rather than 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 were an accurate, biblical teaching…then, of course, these pastors would be absolutely correct: It wouldn’t matter WHAT you believe on the issues. You’re going to be raptured ‘pre-tribulationally’ either way. Your views, whether correct or incorrect, would be 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”.
It was for specific cause and by divine inspiration that Jesus went into detail in Matthew 25 about the specific spiritual preparation absolutely required for this time of darkness which precedes His return…and the dire consequences for all those who do NOT prepare for this hour.
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, which results in tragic consequences (Matthew 25:11-12).
THE DELINEATION OF EVENTS DESCRIBED BY JESUS
Just to summarize once again:
Jesus stated there would be 1) this event “the abomination of desolation” followed by 2) a time of “tribulation”…3) and accompanied by a great “falling away” from the faith of many (erstwhile) believers (hence, the title of my blog “The Great Apostasy”)…during which 4) a huge deception is perpetrated by the aforementioned “false prophets”…and then 5) is this time of trouble climactically interrupted with the arrival of the Lord Jesus and the beginning of the endless Kingdom of God!
Matthew 24:15 — “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet…they will then deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.”
Matthew 24:9-13 — “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 the crystal-clear sequence of events depicted in the above passages, 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 then there are 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.
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.
IS “PRE-TRIB” INCREASINGLY BECOMING A MOOT POINT?
I am finding it interestingly ironic in recent years, the many believers who are slowly beginning to see that their long-sought-after “PreTrib” rapture is slowly, steadily being reduced to a moot point:
Many Americans with even just a tinge of ‘deeper’ discernment resulting from exposure to ‘non-approved’ alternative media (think “Internet”) are beginning to see the real possibility that America may come crashing down…that the Dollar may explode at any moment…that the currency and thus the whole US economy could disintegrate – riots in the streets, looting at the grocery stores, dangerous mobs and armed gangs…and a resulting unleashing of hatred and persecution against Christians and other groups.
Interestingly, virtually all PreTrib authors, teachers and pastors have always nominally conceded that America “has no special exemption from extreme persecution”. But again, this possibility has only been referred to nominally. Never in such a way as to cause American Christians to engage in a heightened state of alert. Never in such a way to raise the levels of real concern and prompt Christian people to engage in serious spiritual (and even physical) preparation.
No, in my fifty years of listening to PreTrib rapture sermons, the “remote” possibility of severe persecution in America has always been referred to so casually and merely ‘in passing’, such that it elicits a yawn.
Tragically therefore, most American Christians are going to go into a state of shock and paralysis at the revealing and introduction of this satanic world leader and the resulting downfall of America (if it hasn’t already fallen, some time prior) and any other government that may still be in existence but will now obviously come under the iron rule of the Antichrist.
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)
JUST 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.
Notice below, there are seemingly two initial steps in the apostasy plot: Firstly, there are those who fold at almost the very moment of the revealing of the Antichrist. But then secondly, there are those who seem to require extra ‘persuasion’ provided by the “false prophets who will arise”.
Matthew 24:10-11: “At that time [step 1] many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. [step 2] Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many”.
This second phase (if we can call it that) of the apostasy deception plan goes into action when all of these pre-positioned “false prophets”…these satanic “Christian” leaders” (or at least ‘heavily duped’) about whom I am attempting to provide evidence…step in and begin soothingly convincing panic-stricken churchgoers to cooperate with the Antichrist regime, the new world order.
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 there is also a question of future actions: How will they respond and how will they act…if and when persecution and affliction arise?
“BUT SO-AND-SO HAS SUCH A LOVE FOR THE LORD!”
And so, 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 the phrasing “will grow cold” is pointing to a potential future event.
Notice above how they had an actual “love” for God but that 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. Haven’t we all seen such things happen? People who fall from the faith and disappear like dust in the wind?
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! THAT…is what the Bible is talking about when it says we are to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling”.
THE TRAGEDY DESCRIBED IN ROMANS, CHAPTER 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’?” And while I tend to believe (want to believe) most people who manifest such joy and love will find some way to cling to their faith despite their massive confusion and shock…there are nevertheless 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.
MODERN-DAY EVANGELICALS DON’T UNDERSTAND THE CONCEPT OF “APOSTASY”:
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 (these aforementioned false “Christian” leaders) 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 regime 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.
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. Take heed, o aspiring Christian!
WHOSE NAME IS WRITTEN DOWN IN THE BOOK OF LIFE?
Regardless of which names may or may not be already written down in the Book of Life, from our earth-bound perspective we are instructed from the Scriptures to view ourselves as being at risk of falling away. Falling into apostasy. Not that 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 persevere 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 action of “holding firmly” in itself does not save a person. But “holding firmly” is 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 split-personality 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.
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. 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.”
This appears to be a kind of ‘third phase’ of the Great Apostasy plot. First, there are those 1) whose faith collapses the very moment the Antichrist appears on the scene. Then there are those 2) who require some extra persuasion as the pre-positioned “false prophets” go into action with their deceptive sales pitches for the New World Order (“hey, this isn’t really the mark of the beast – come on, now!”)…and finally, for those ‘diehards’ who are holding out and refusing to cooperate, we see here 3) an apparent proposal from the false prophets…an offer of safe conduct to remote “desert places” and hidden “inner rooms”.
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 regime 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. It’s 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.
THE MANY PROBLEMS WITH PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE DOCTRINE
I am going to close out Part Three by delving briefly into what I consider to be some of the significant errors of PreTribulation doctrine:
For openers, I would reiterate the completely, totally and utterly illogical nonsense which PreTrib doctrine stumbles into….when it proposes we need to have a view of the Olivet Discourse which is in direct contradiction to what Peter, James, John and Andrew believed about the Olivet Discourse. Jesus told them in no uncertain terms the first specific event to look out for…was the Abomination of Desolation.
But John MacArthur, John Walvoord, Dwight Pentecost, David Jeremiah, Tim LaHaye (and a host of other PreTrib luminaries) would say that is wrong…that Peter, James and John believed wrongly…and in fact, that they were taught wrongly…and that they needed to have believed in a pre-“70th Week” rapture event as the first event they would encounter.
It is absolutely THE most incredible and astonishing faux pas…that PreTrib doctrine inadvertently (or otherwise) proposes Jesus was a false teacher…and a false teacher who therefore misguided the believers.
And even worse, that He therefore sent them off into the world teaching and passing along…false doctrine…and thus turning them also into false teachers.
(One can safely assume, these four disciples immediately proceeded, over the next days, weeks, months and decades…to tell any of the other believers of Jesus’ heads-up…that they should keep an eye out for the Abomination of Desolation throughout their lives.)
Therefore, to put it frankly, PreTrib doctrine is the most spectacularly absurd and literally anti-biblical doctrine one could possibly imagine.
AN AWKWARD POST-RESURRECTION CONVERSATION:
And so…when you think about it, shouldn’t there have been a rather awkward post-“Olivet Discourse” meeting with Jesus following the resurrection?
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 need to actually contradict Myself…in saying you’ll be raptured before all of that. You need to reject the Olivet Discourse and begin teaching PreTrib doctrine.’
How can anyone seriously propose that Jesus would present a teaching that He knew would need to be contradicted 125 hours later! What reasoning would PreTrib proponents offer as an explanation of any conceivable purpose Jesus would have for doing something like that in the first place?? There isn’t any good explanation for this and, as far as I know, PreTrib proponents haven’t even tried to explain this supposed ‘switcheroo’ in Jesus’ rapture timing position!
In fact, 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 contradictory view to Jesus’ teachings to us in the Olivet Discourse.” Such an explanation appears nowhere in Scripture, in any way, shape or form.
IN FACT, THERE IS NO TEXT ANYWHERE IN THE BIBLE WHICH PRESENTS THE “PRE-TRIB” DOCTRINE:
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.
You cannot go to any page in the Bible and say “let me now teach to you and present to you…PreTribulation rapture doctrine”.
So…not only do they have no basis (so I have tried to argue) for rejecting Jesus’ teaching to His followers about a post-“great tribulation” rapture…they don’t even have the slightest hint of a passage which teaches their proposed PreTrib doctrine! All due respect but…to me this is literally mind-boggling.
And when you consider how high the stakes are, as to whether PreTrib is correct or incorrect…and when you observe how universal is the ambivalence regarding this PreTrib doctrine amongst huge numbers of those in pastoral leadership…and how widespread is the confusion and inability to teach, explain or support PreTrib when you sit down and try to talk to an array of lay-people and Christian leaders…the fact of the matter is that the world of PreTrib is in a state of utter disarray
It is therefore very interestingly ironic how many PreTrib supporters (nominal or otherwise) 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’.
Wait a minute. Nothing could be further from the truth! One should consider the ball to be 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. I would assert that hasn’t been done, nor will it ever be done…because there IS no passage which teaches this doctrine.
A SAMPLING OF FAVORED PRE-TRIB ARGUMENTS:
Even though I believe the arguments and scriptural evidence for the applicability of the Olivet Discourse have entirely swept away any of PreTrib’s claims, nevertheless here is a brief run-down of some of the favored PreTrib arguments:
One of those arguments that has been made 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 impact Jewish people…and that therefore the Olivet Discourse only applies to Jewish people.
But the Bible is clear 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.
EKKLESIA — “THE CALLED OUT ONES”
But 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”!
This isn’t calling into question the “infallibility of Scripture”. By no means. But it is calling into question some of the translations of Scripture…from the original languages into the English language. And it also calls into question the motives and character of some of those who have been involved in Bible translation over the centuries.
And 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? Jesus applied the word “ekklesia” to believers way back in Matthew 16, long before the Day of Pentecost. And why wouldn’t He? He was simply noting the fact that His followers were those whom He has “called out”.
Why couldn’t Jesus claim to have called out His followers? Were the disciples somehow not called out…at the time Jesus referred to the “called out ones” in Matthew 16? How so? How and why could they not be described as having been “called out”…seeing as Jesus had literally already previously called them out?
One could argue that dispensationalists / PreTrib proponents have come along, taken the Greek word “ekklesia” and imposed a completely unrelated English word (“church”) upon this Greek word…and then have created a huge dispensationalist “doctrine of the church” which they then stack on top of this poor little word “ekklesia”!
The 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”.
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. By the time the day of Pentecost had arrived, the Christian era had long since begun.
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.
For that matter, there are a great many other Bible terms which refer to those who are part of the body of Christ…of which the term “ekklesia” is only one. Why have dispensationalists and PreTrib proponents conferred this exalted status only upon the word “ekklesia”? Clearly (or so I would argue), they have done this so as to build a case for their dispensationalist “doctrine of the church”…seizing upon this dubiously conjured English word “church”…a word which, ironically, does not really even exist in the Bible.
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”…with the text also rather clearly implying that some will elude 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 the PreTrib argument regarding this word “elect” has failed…what is left of their overall argument that the Olivet Discourse does not apply to present-day believers?
On what grounds and by what authority would modern-day PreTribbers approach the first generation of believers such as Peter, James and John (if they could somehow do so!) and wag an admonishing finger – “You shouldn’t believe the teachings of the Olivet Discourse — rather, you should believe in PreTrib doctrine!”
Again, what is left of their argument that the Olivet Discourse does not apply to believers…other than to simply impose their preconceived PreTrib doctrine upon the text?
Without wading hip deep into the doctrines of “Dispensationalism”, suffice it to say there is only ONE valid dispensation in existence – that being (and we could give it several different names) the “blood of the Lamb” dispensation. Or the “cross of Calvary” dispensation.
There is no “dispensation” that comes along during the end phases of the Christian era which could cause a so-called “dispensational conflict”. PreTribbers (i.e. Dispensationalists) try to claim that because there is a return of the Jewish people to the land of Palestine in the last days…that this somehow causes a ‘conflict’ between the Christian era and a revived Jewish era…and that therefore, all Christian people need to be removed from Earth via a “PreTrib rapture”.
But there is absolutely nothing valid about restored Jewish religious practices…since all those practices have once-for-all been invalidated by the blood of the Lamb. It matters not what temple practices, animal sacrifice practices, or any OTHER Jewish religious practices may or may not go on during the last days before Jesus’ “gathering of the elect”… because Jewish religious practices have absolutely nothing to present that would cause a conflict between two dispensations.
One dispensation is valid. The other is not. The Jewish religious dispensation ended at the cross. The “cross of calvary”/”blood of the Lamb” dispensation lasts for all of eternity.
“WHAT ABOUT THE DOCTRINE OF IMMINENCY?”
This is another challenge from PreTrib proponents. But there never was any such thing as “imminency”. From Day One…from the very outset…Jesus’ followers were told that, among other things, Peter would have to live to old age (and then suffer martyrdom)…therefore, there was NO imminency in existence during the entire first generation of the Christian era.
The Christian era would need to continue until at least Peter’s “old age”…at some unspecified time, nearing the end of the first generation of believers.
If the entire first generation of the church had no imminency, that’s the ‘end of the line’ for imminency. This doctrine is invalid.
Christian author Dave Hunt made the incredibly flawed argument at one point…that because many believers may not have been aware of Jesus’ prophecy regarding Peter, therefore “imminency” remained intact throughout Peter’s advancing years. Amazing illogic: Because there may be some who are not aware of the truth…this means the truth, in effect, does not exist??
Not to mention, all the stories of the disciples’ adventures with the Lord were obviously passed around like hot cakes, by word of mouth. The story of Jesus’ pronouncement regarding Peter was certainly widely known at the earliest stages.
Additionally—since PreTribbers (mistakenly, I would argue) equate the “day of the Lord” to the entirety of the seven year period (a claim which apparently is seen as vital to the support of the PreTrib argument)…there are many Scriptures which clearly place major events before the “day of the Lord”. Such things would, of course, eliminate the possibility of a “signless” rapture, which is the key feature of the Doctrine of Imminency.
Joel 2:31 is one of many examples of this problem: It prophecies of momentous cosmic disturbances BEFORE the Day of the Lord:
“The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.”
The only option left to PreTrib is to now try to belatedly argue that the rapture occurs not only before the 70th Week but also before these cosmic events. They would now need to arbitrarily place the rapture not only before the day of the Lord…but belatedly also place the rapture before these cosmic disturbances as well…so as to keep their ‘signless rapture’ concept intact.
By the way, if you look carefully at the Olivet Discourse passages, you will notice the believers are “gathered” (raptured) just moments after these Joel 2:31 cosmic disturbances appear. But these OT passages (such as Joel 2:31) make it clear it is only THEN that the wrath of God is poured out on the remaining wicked in the “day of the Lord”…after His followers have been removed.
So…the cosmic disturbances appear, the believers are quickly gathered…and only then is God’s “day of the Lord” wrath unleashed:
Matthew 24:29-30 — “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky…”
Luke 21:28 — “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, for then does your redemption draw near.”
There are so many other (in my view) major 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 this passage out of its context 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! In contradiction to the above scripture, we have been told by PreTrib proponents that the “first resurrection” occurs at the time of their alleged PreTrib rapture!
But Rev. 20:4-5 counters this directly — the “first resurrection” occurs only when the martyred souls are resurrected. 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 to go out into the darkness in order to meet the Master upon His 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 (so Matthew 25 indicates)…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: firstname.lastname@example.org