Rock of Offence Special Commentary
Exposing Another False Teaching That Attacks
A Major Fulfillment of Christ’s Salvation
Why We Talk About the Rapture
Eschatology is the study of Bible prophecy involving end-time events, which includes the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. It is estimated that 1 out of every 25 verses in the New Testament is directly related to Christ’s promised return. However, when looking at all the Holy Scriptures (both the Old and New Testament), NEARLY ONE THIRD INVOLVES BIBLE PROPHECY. Spiritual leaders that refuse to discuss these issues are avoiding a large and important part of the Bible. Many believe that what is commonly referred to as “the rapture” falls under this area of “Eschatology”. For that reason many consider it “optional or nonessential”. Yet, we will see that this belief couldn’t be further from the truth.
THE RAPTURE REPRESENTS THE COMPLETION OF THE CHRISTIAN BELIEVER’S SALVATION. It is a major part of the redemptive plan that Jesus sacrificed His life to establish at the cross. The Christian’s adversary, the devil, has made it his goal to distort, discredit or — if he can – destroy the supernatural truths that empower our salvation. This demonic program of disinformation has existed since the days of the first century Church — and it’s claimed many victims. Unfortunately, the people our enemy uses are those with noble ambitions and good intentions. They are totally unaware of the source of the hidden influence in their teachings. Remember that the religious leaders who claimed to love and serve God were Christ’s most vicious opponents and critics. A favorite target is the rapture of Christ’s Church at the end of the age. When you hear certain leaders (and their followers) say, “There is no rapture” or, “the rapture only happens at the physical Second Coming of Christ” or, “the Church must go through the tribulation” or, “the pretribulational rapture is a modern delusional myth” — you are hearing this popular propaganda campaign designed to discredit, not only a major Biblical truth, but also those who correctly teach it. Since the subject of the rapture is directly linked to Christ’s salvation and His return at the end of the age, we feel it is necessary to expose this popular and mainstream disinformation campaign that can send inexperienced and uninformed believers astray in their faith.
The source of Confusion About
For many years, the heated debate about when the rapture occurs (or whether it exists at all) is always presented as a simple matter of looking at the teachings of Scripture. Yet, the Bible, particularly the New Testament, warns that things are not that easy. Since the first century, the Church has been embroiled in a fierce behind-the-scenes conflict between two theological belief systems. Both use the Holy Scriptures to support their doctrine — but, only one is correct. The first century apostolic leadership warns that the doctrine of the opposition is false, even though it “appears” to be based on the fundamental teachings of the Bible. It was this counterfeit theology (or false type of “faith in Christ”) that nearly destroyed the Galatian Church. At Rock of Offence, we repeatedly warn readers (to the point of being redundant) about the religious deception found in this particular doctrine. Despite the warnings, this subject continues to be ignored by most modern Christian believers. Acts chapter 15 discusses these two systems of faith. One is the doctrine of the “believing Pharisees” (these were Pharisees that believed on Jesus Christ), and the other is the New Covenant Gospel of Christ preached by Saint Paul.
Why Paul Warned About
The Danger of Deception
Today, a vicious battle exists on the Protestant side of the church between these two “faith systems”. One is known as “Reformed Theology” and the other is “Dispensationalism” (Note: Roman Catholicism has its own brand of reformed theology under a different label). To make matters worse, these two different systems of faith exist in countless variants with different names and cross all denominational lines.
Special Note: Since reformed theology is a close relative of the doctrine of the “believing Pharisees” from Acts chapter 15, we also refer to it in our commentaries as “Pharisaical religion”. Other common names include; the Galatian error, Galatian religion, Calvinism, New Calvinism, Holiness theology, Replacement theology, the error of Legalism, Christian Fundamentalism and Historic Christianity.
Reformed theology commonly uses a misleading method of Bible interpretation called “allegorizing Scripture”, which alters and redefines the Bible’s original intention. Dispensationalism avoids this practice by using a literal interpretation. Contrary to some popular beliefs, God designed His Word as “dispensational”. (More information is included under “Closing Thoughts” toward the end of this commentary) When it comes to Bible prophecy, especially discussions about the rapture, reformed theology and dispensationalism arrive at vastly different conclusions. Yet, both claim to represent the teachings of God’s Word. The side that’s in error insists that their view “is the clear and correct interpretation of Scripture”. This sets the stage for dangerous levels of deception and irreconcilable disputes involving, not only Bible prophecy and the rapture, but also the “truth of the Gospel”. This is why we agree with both Jesus Christ and Saint Paul and repeatedly warn about the dangerous, yet common practice of distorting the context of the Bible and allegorizing Scripture. Why? It changes the truth into a counterfeit teaching that leads believers astray in their faith.
Depending on which position you hold, the question of “when the rapture happens in relation to the tribulation” is different, but continues to look “Biblical”. The common practice of “allegorizing the original intention of Scripture” (Some call this “Spiritualizing Scripture”) is why Saint Paul constantly warned the Church “not to let anyone deceive you”. Why? It’s easy to be deceived when the Bible is misinterpreted by church leadership — and the misinterpretation is presented to church congregations as God’s original intention.
The Error of Confusing the Roles
Of Israel and the Church
At this point we must ask the all important question: What kind of deception is Paul is warning about?
Certain prominent leaders in the church attempt to redefine this doctrinal war as a minor difference of opinion that should be set aside to avoid disunity. However, according to the New Testament writings of Jesus, Peter and Paul, it involves the age-old struggle between heresy and truth. Church leaders avoid discussing such things like the plague because it angers some in their congregation and can lower overall attendance at meetings. Yet, many Christians claim that they left institutional churches because the leadership insisted on conducting their ministry on the premise, “Let’s just all get along” (also referred to as being “seeker-sensitive”). The first century apostolic leadership did not have this unbiblical mentality. They put truth first and let the congregational membership numbers conform to their teaching priorities. However, today this is called “intolerance” because it isn’t “sensitive” to the beliefs of others. Since when does the “belief of others” take precedent over the truth of Scripture? It’s unfortunate that the word “heresy” is thrown around so carelessly among Christians today. However, like it or not, anything that redefines or distorts the principles that govern our salvation is a heresy that carries eternal consequences. This is why Paul constantly gives a sober warning about being deceived.
The hidden influence (or error) that operates behind nearly all expressions of reformed theology is the belief that God has permanently rejected the original nation of Israel in the Bible and replaced her with the New Testament Church. They insist that God permanently rejected Israel because they crucified their Messiah. This belief causes its supporters to wrongly conclude that the Church is now, “The New Israel”. FOR THIS REASON, IT TAKES THE FORBIDDEN LIBERTY OF REASSIGNING ORIGINAL ISRAEL’S OLD TESTAMENT SPIRITUAL PROGRAM TO THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH. This toxic, yet popular doctrine is a derivative of “the believing Pharisee’s” doctrine recorded in Acts Chapter 15, WHICH WAS REJECTED BY THE FIRST CENTURY APOSTOLIC LEADERSHIP. However, in order to preserve Christian unity, this theology now goes unchallenged and dominates most of the teaching in the world-wide Christian Church. It’s now infecting the modern church because no one will stand up, as Paul did, and confront it. It is a major understatement to only say that this theology changes God’s intended message in the Bible. Saint Paul said that it “perverts the gospel of Christ” and preaches a counterfeit Jesus. Paul then warns that the preachers of this message are accursed. We must repeat; this is the same theology that nearly destroyed the Galatian Church of the first century. It provoked Saint Paul to write his letter to the Galatians, where he condemned the teachers of this doctrine using offensive terms. To save time and to receive a more detailed explanation of this emotional subject, we wrote several commentaries available below.
Avoiding The Error of Replacement Theology
The Spiritual Revolution of Jesus Christ
Why Do These Things Affect Our
Understanding of the Rapture?
When prominent theologians take the forbidden liberty of redefining the Church as, “The New Israel”, it causes serious distortions in our understanding of end time prophecy. The rapture is a “blessed event” reserved for the entire believing Church, who trusted Christ for salvation. However, there is the unfinished business involving Israel’s sin of rejecting and crucifying their Messiah. God has not forgotten this act committed nearly 2000 years ago. For this reason, the “Tribulation Period” (7 years in length) is God’s appointed time to judge Israel and bring her back into relationship with Himself. THE PRIMARY PURPOSE OF THE TRIBULATION IS TO BRING ABOUT THE SALVATION OF UNBELIEVING ISRAEL AND TO JUDGE ALL THE NATIONS OF THE WORLD FOR REJECTING HIS PLAN OF SALVATION THROUGH CHRIST. Since it is intended as judgment for the rejection of God’s Son – the Tribulation Period holds no purpose for the Church that accepted and believed on Christ.
“I say then, hath God cast away his people (The Jews)? GOD FORBID. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. GOD HATH NOT CAST AWAY HIS PEOPLE WHICH HE FOREKNEW.” (Romans 11:1-2)
“For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. AND SO ALL ISRAEL WILL BE SAVED….” (Romans 11:25-26 NKJV — Emphasis Mine)
The Dirty Secret
It is estimated that more than 8 out of 10 churches embrace some expression of reformed theology and the aberrant belief that the Church is “The New Israel”. This is a bedrock doctrine in many areas of what’s commonly called, Christian Fundamentalism. Since a majority are fooled into believing that God has replaced the original Israel with the New Testament Church, THEY CONCLUDE THAT THE CHURCH (NOW CALLED “THE NEW ISRAEL”) HAS ALSO INHERITED THE ROLE OF THE ORIGINAL ISRAEL DURING THE TRIBULATION.
This is why nearly all theologians and preachers that hold to one of the countless variants of reformed theology insist on placing The Church (or the Body of Christ) somewhere in the tribulation period. Even worse, many teach that The Church will go all the way through this period of God’s judgment, where a large part of the earth’s population will be killed. For those who survive, the rapture occurs briefly before Christ’s Second Coming. This kind of thinking is both dangerous and false (not to mention frightening) – here’s why. The Bible teaches that the tribulation is designed to bring Israel back into God’s salvation. GOD USES THIS EVENT TO DEAL WITH UNBELIEVING PEOPLE. Yet, these spiritual leaders, blinded by their wrong theology, are convinced that The Church (all true believers in Christ) is now “THE NEW ISRAEL”. Their misguided beliefs also cause them to attack and discredit those who teach “an escape before the tribulation”, which God provides for the ones Jesus Christ made worthy through His redeeming blood.
CHRIST’S BLOOD PAID THE RANSOM PRICE FOR OUR RELEASE (OR ESCAPE).
This is why any teaching that claims the Church (all true Christian believers) must go through the judgments of the tribulation IS A COVERT ATTACK ON OUR BLOOD-BOUGHT REDEMPTION THAT CHRIST PAID TO “BUY US BACK”. We can now understand why Paul warned the Church, “Let no man deceive you by any means”. This is not some “optional or nonessential” teaching of eschatology. It is about the completed salvation of the Christian believer. We might now better understand the offensive warning Peter gave when he said:
“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, EVEN DENYING THE LORD WHO BOUGHT THEM, and bring on themselves swift destruction.” (2 Peter 2:1 — Emphasis Mine)
Saint Paul reinforces this idea by saying…
“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, AND HATH TRANSLATED US INTO THE KINGDOM OF HIS DEAR SON: IN WHOM WE HAVE REDEMPTION THROUGH HIS BLOOD, EVEN THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS…” (Note: Redemption means to ransom or “buy back” Colossians 1:12-14 — Emphasis Mine)
Reformed theologians are committing the sin of abusing the context of Scripture, which makes God say something THAT HE DID NOT SAY. This deceptive theology, which has survived since the first century, is the reason Paul warns the Church about this counterfeit teaching.
“Let no one deceive you by any means;
FOR THAT DAY WILL NOT COME
UNLESS THE FALLING AWAY
(2 Thessalonians 2:1)
Saint Paul sent two letters (epistles) to the Thessalonian Church to repeat what he previously taught about Christ’s return. Another reason for these epistles is to expose false teaching in a forged letter that someone wrote to terrorize the congregation. This forged letter, supposedly signed by Paul (but wasn’t), warned them that the “Day of the Lord” had already come. To the Thessalonians, this meant that they were about to go through the horrendous tribulation period. In Paul’s epistles, his goal was to expose the false perception created by this forged letter and to reassure the congregation that they would not experience this period of judgment. “The Day of the Lord” is another term that refers to the future time of extreme tribulation that Jesus warned would come upon ALL THOSE WHO DWELL ON THE FACE OF THE WHOLE EARTH (Mark 13:19 and Luke 21:25-36). When Paul was with the Thessalonian believers in person, HE TAUGHT THEM THAT TWO MAJOR EVENTS MUST OCCUR FIRST BEFORE THE “DAY OF THE LORD” COULD BEGIN. The first event is, “the falling away”, WHICH OCCURS BEFORE THE SECOND EVENT, “the revealing of the man of sin”, who is commonly called “the anti-christ” (Read 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).
Most critics claim that this “falling away”, is the act of leaving the Christian faith, or a rejection of the truth of Scripture. Yet, the theme of Paul’s epistles to the Thessalonian believers is about “how the Church is caught up (or gathered together) INTO THE CLOUDS TO MEET JESUS IN THE AIR” (Read 2 Thessalonians 2:1 and 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18), which is “a departure” involving physical movement or travel. Keep in mind that this theme provides a general context for understanding what Paul is teaching. Some of our English-translated Bibles, such as the King James and the New King James versions, use the phrase “falling away” instead of the word “departure”. The confusion this creates gives the critics an important loophole that they use to their full advantage.
Paul Provides An Important
Clarification of His Comments
In 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8, Paul repeats his description of these events using different wording. Good teachers commonly use this method of repetition to reinforce a principle or truth. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, Paul talks about departure (falling away) and the revealing of the “man of sin”. However, in verses 7 and 8, he repeats things in a different way to add emphasis and clarity. Instead of using the term, “falling away” as he did in verse 3, Paul uses the wording, “He who now restrains will do so UNTIL HE IS TAKEN OUT OF THE WAY — AND THEN THE LAWLESS ONE (THE MAN OF SIN) WILL BE REVEALED…”. If you “take someone out of the way” you are physically moving them from one place to another. Once again, in verses 7 and 8 Paul is talking about departure (someone taken out of the way) and the revealing of the “man of sin”. Both the teachings of Jesus Christ and Saint Paul support the physical movement or “departure/travel” aspect of the term “falling away”(covered later in this commentary). Insisting that the term “falling away” in this Scripture means “falling away from the Christian faith” is a distortion that cheats the Christian believer out of a tremendous blessing and changes the original intention of the Scripture.
Redefining terms is a common, yet confusing tactic practiced by critics on inexperienced Christians. However, certain Greek scholars point out that the way Paul used the term “falling away” in the original Greek text means “a departure” — as when a group leaves (departs) one location and travels to another. In this instance, it doesn’t mean leaving or “falling away” from the Christian faith as the critics claim.
If the reader wants an even better understanding of this phrase “falling away”, use the link below. This is a YouTube teaching video by Patrick Heron. Normally, we try to avoid the confusion that commonly occurs by sending visitors to another ministry website. Yet, the information Patrick provides in this situation is invaluable. Keep the following in mind: Including this link in our commentary should not be understood as complete agreement with all beliefs of the author, who also may not agree with everything we teach.
No Apostasy or Falling Away
By Patrick Heron (YouTube Video)
Patrick also gives an additional teaching that
answers the question about whether the Bible
teaches about the rapture–or not.
Rapture Vs. No Rapture
By Patrick Heron (YouTube Video)
Bible Teacher and author John Ankerberg hosts a
program that answers some important questions.
Encouraging Words Concerning the Rapture
Bible scholar Dr. Thomas Ice made the following observation about the Greek word “apostasia”, which is commonly translated into the English word “apostasy” (or falling away):
“The first seven English translations of apostasia all rendered the noun as either ” departure” or ” departing.” They are as follows: Wycliffe Bible (1384); Tyndale Bible (1526); Coverdale Bible (1535); Cranmer Bible (1539); Breeches Bible (1576); Beza Bible (1583); Geneva Bible (1608). This supports the notion that the word truly means ” departure.” In fact, Jerome’ s Latin translation known as the Vulgate from around the time of A.D. 400 renders apostasia with the word “discessio”, meaning ‘departure’.”
The literal Greek meaning of “a relocation or departure” causes us to ask some very important questions: Who is the group that departs, why are they departing, where are they departing from, and what is their destination?
Another question should also be asked: “Is the idea of “departure (as in travel)” in 2 Thessalonians 2:1 taught by anyone else in the New Testament? The answer is YES, and this important individual sheds a lot more light on why the true intention of this Scripture is “a departure or relocation”.
ANOTHER CONFIRMATION: The Amplified Bible contains a special note that more clearly communicates the intention of 2 Thessalonians 2:3, which says:
“A possible rendering of apostasia is departure
[of the church]“. IN ITS FULL MEANING,
THIS VERSE READS:
“Let no man deceive you by any means:
for that day [the day of the Lord]
shall not come, except there come a
departing [of the church] first, and that man
of sin [the Antichrist] be revealed,
the son of perdition…” (emphasis is mine)
(Amplified Bible End Quote)
We chose the title of this commentary based on the words Paul used when he condemned the false teaching of the forged letter sent to the Thessalonian Church….
“Let no one deceive you by any means”
When I read the Bible and come across the words, “Let no one deceive you” or “don’t be deceived” — my ears perk up. It’s usually because God is about to give a stern warning that must be heeded. Unfortunately, people with beliefs like those who wrote this fraudulent letter to the Thessalonian believers also exist in the modern Christian church. Paul emphasized his warning about “not being deceived” by adding the words, “BY ANY MEANS”. This is another way of saying that we should make an extraordinary effort to avoid being deceived by the critics in this matter. Why? It involves the final fulfillment of our salvation in Christ, which is a crucially important topic. I wish it wasn’t true, but many modern Christian leaders and their followers are deceiving the Church about one of the most incredible and important events in the Bible.
This commentary attempts to address a growing problem with a variety of popular teachings about Christ’s promised return. We understand that churches are struggling during these difficult times. It is also understood that some good pastors and ministers may feel that they have an inadequate knowledge to properly teach topics that involve Bible prophecy — and avoid the subject for that reason. Others seek to reject any discussion of the end-times because it may offend some of the more “intellectual” people in their congregation. It doesn’t seem to matter that one in every 25 verses (on average) in the New Testament addresses, either directly or indirectly, THE RETURN OF CHRIST AND OUR COMPLETED REDEMPTION. Unfortunately, the topic of what is called “the rapture” and its direct connection to Christ’s Second Coming is considered some kind of “extreme” view of the Bible that is only believed by “the religious fanatics and other extremists”.
For these reasons the subject is wrongly considered to be “non-essential” and is omitted from the teachings of the church because of the unnecessary controversy it creates. Some church leaders say, “Why risk in-fighting and division in the congregation over an extreme and non-essential topic? Yet, when you study what the Bible says about end-time events, it becomes clear that the enemy of the Christian (the devil who operates in darkness) is behind this disinformation campaign. Why is the enemy so interested in discrediting those who believe and teach about the departure of the Church and the return of Jesus Christ? Contrary to some popular, yet false church teaching, THE RAPTURE (OR THE DEPARTURE OF THE CHURCH) INVOLVES THE FULFILLMENT OF CHRIST’S SALVATION FOR THE BELIEVER LIVING IN THE CHURCH AGE. Our enemy’s top priority has always been to either destroy or to cast doubt on what Jesus accomplished for us through His sacrificial death at the cross. It represents another aspect of the devil’s relentless campaign to destroy Christ’s great salvation — an effort that originates from inside the world-wide Christian Church and has been going on for nearly 2000 years.
In the tradition of our Lord Jesus Christ and the apostolic leadership of the first century church, our comments carry an abrasive edge. This is necessary because of the stubborn opposition within the institutional Christian Church that continues to push this unbiblical agenda. When you understand that the climax of most everything taught in the Bible revolves around the Second Coming of Christ and “the rapture of the Church” that precedes it, standing firm against the critics is the right course of action. We must not allow them to succeed in redefining our salvation. The unintended consequences are unthinkable.
(Saint Peter speaking) “Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, KNOWING THIS FIRST: THAT SCOFFERS WILL COME IN THE LAST DAYS, WALKING ACCORDING TO THEIR OWN LUSTS, AND SAYING, “WHERE IS THE PROMISE OF HIS COMING? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:1-4 NKJV — Emphasis Mine)
“So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; AND UNTO THEM THAT LOOK FOR HIM SHALL HE APPEAR THE SECOND TIME WITHOUT SIN UNTO SALVATION.” (Hebrews 9:28 KJV)
Biblical Truth Continues To Be Under
Attack From Within The Church
Unfortunately, the institutional Christian Church continues to be plagued with false apostles — along with preachers and teachers who remove Scripture from its context; a practice which allows them to teach a misleading message from the Bible. During His earthly ministry, Christ constantly warned about this problem. Many are just good, well-intentioned people who wrongly interpret the Scriptures. Yet, they claim many victims down through church history. Ignoring and abusing the context of Scripture allows them to teach the Bible in a way that leads inexperienced believers into what Saint Paul calls, “a reprobate form of Christian faith”. As the apostle Paul warned his disciple Timothy, these spiritual leaders and their followers “have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof” (2 Timothy 3:1-8). Paul warned Timothy (and all believers living today) to TURN AWAY FROM SUCH PEOPLE. Yet, most leaders today tell their congregations that the problem is just “a difference of opinion”. As a result, it is subtly suggested that we are to ignore Paul’s words because they are too controversial or divisive.
What Paul refers to as “reprobate faith” (a counterfeit form of faith in Christ) is not just a direct attack on God’s gift of eternal life (Romans 6:23 and Ephesians 2:8-9), BUT IS ALSO AN ATTEMPT TO DISTORT AND DISCREDIT THE COMPLETION OF HIS GIFT OF SALVATION FULFILLED AT THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH (ALSO KNOWN AS “THE TRANSLATION”). Paul taught the churches under his care in the first century, to constantly “examine themselves” to guard against falling prey to this dangerous “counterfeit faith in Christ”. He gave this strict directive because of how easy it is to think that the counterfeit actually represents the truth.
“EXAMINE YOURSELVES AS TO WHETHER YOU ARE IN THE FAITH. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you are disqualified.” (2 Corinthians 13:5)
Why Is The Subject of the Rapture Under Such Attack?
We’ve all heard the accusations at one time or another.
- There is no such thing as the rapture
- The Bible doesn’t teach about the rapture
- Since the word rapture isn’t in the Bible, it must be false
- Rapture teaching is heresy
- The rapture is a myth believed by gullible Christians
- The pretribulational rapture is a modern deception
- The pretribulational rapture is a delusional false doctrine
- Only religious extremists believe in a pretribulational rapture
- If the rapture was true, more churches would teach about it
And, the list goes on and on…
Recently, I read where one popular Christian teacher and author commented on a radio talk show (we’re paraphrasing here) — that the pre-tribulational rapture teaching came from a government misinformation operation to corrupt the teachings of the church. What’s even worse is that many Christians actually believed the nonsense this man presented, mainly due to his popularity. As one pastor said many years ago, “bless their darling hearts and stupid heads.” Unfortunately, there are a lot of “stupid heads” in certain church groups.
Are the critics right? Or, are they advancing a hidden sinister agenda, masquerading as fundamental Bible teaching? It’s these kinds of practices that leads inexperienced believers astray in their faith. Over the years, I’ve been astounded at the lengths some religious false teachers will go. No wonder Paul constantly warned the early church to be careful not to allow these people to cheat you out of the blessings of Christ (Read Colossians 2:8, 2:18). This is just another way of saying, “LET NO MAN DECEIVE YOU BY ANY MEANS”. The forged letter sent to the Thessalonian believers (previously discussed) is only one example. God thought the incident was so important that He included it in the canon of Scripture AS A WARNING. What was He warning about? Everyone who teaches in the name of Christ is not necessarily from Christ or speaking for Christ. He is warning us about religious imposters, Christian counterfeits, wolves in sheep clothing, false apostles and false Christs THAT TEACH FROM THE BIBLE. Saint Paul called them “false brethren” (Read Galatians 2:4-5), which means that they appear outwardly as Bible-believing Christians and ministers. Paul spent considerable effort to refute the teaching in this forged letter, WRITTEN AND PRESENTED TO THE THESSALONIAN CONGREGATION IN THE NAME OF CHRIST. In other words, THE LETTER CLAIMED THAT GOD SAID SOMETHING THAT HE NEVER SAID — AND THEY FORGED PAUL’S SIGNATURE TO VALIDATE IT. Yet, a new generation that commit the same dishonest acts operate without opposition from within the institutional Christian Church. Except now, they can use impressive educational credentials and the power of the Internet to accomplish their purposes.
Would it surprise you to learn that our Lord Jesus Christ taught about the rapture, but used a different word to describe it? Stay with us for more information about this amazing and encouraging revelation about the completion of the believer’s salvation at the return of Christ.
A Dangerous Hidden Agenda
What many fail to realize is that the institutional Christian Church has been engaged in an internal spiritual war since the first century. Rather than a war fought with bullets and bombs, it’s a “doctrinal war” for the control of the mind of the individual Christian believer. In this case, “control” is exercised through a particular “system of theology” — and both sides in this war insist that they are teaching God’s original intention. You could call it, “the battle for your mind”. It’s difficult to identify the participants because there are so many different names and variants. On the surface, they all look like they’re based on the truth of Scripture. YET, ONLY ONE IS CORRECT. MAKING THE WRONG CHOICE IN THIS AREA COULD CARRY FRIGHTENING AND UNINTENDED SPIRITUAL CONSEQUENCES, WHICH IS WHY SAINT PAUL CONSTANTLY WARNED THE CHURCH ABOUT BEING DECEIVED.
One of the biggest mistakes made by church-going people is thinking that Christians are just one big family with “different opinions”. We are constantly told by the leaders of the “unity movement” and “seeker sensitive” preachers that we’re all God’s children with different opinions — and for that reason we should avoid any form of divisive or offensive speech. Yet, the Bible warns that this viewpoint, as good as it sounds, is seriously flawed. Biblical truth always divides between those who want it and those who don’t. Whether we like it or not, there is both a good and evil side in this internal war. Both look and sound godly. Each one has good intentions. IT IS A SPIRITUALLY LETHAL MISTAKE TO THINK BOTH SIDES ARE RIGHT AND THAT THE WAY GOD INTENDS FOR US TO OBTAIN SALVATION IS JUST A MATTER OF OPINION. It has everything to do with Biblical truth on which our salvation is based. It’s not about personal opinion. It’s a right and wrong, life and death issue.
Identifying the Opposition
There is one side that seeks to ignore the context of Scripture and mix everything together, which sends the faith of their followers dangerously astray. This group viciously attacks “the other side” that seeks to respect the context of Scripture and recognizes that God divides His Word into two major “covenant administrations” (or dispensations), where each one operates by different rules. Our Bible is divided into two parts that is meant to communicate these different administrations: The Old Testament and the New Testament (Note: “Testament” is another word for “Covenant”). Saint Paul refers to this proper Bible interpretation method as, “rightly (or correctly) dividing the Word of Truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). The group that follows Paul’s instructions acknowledges that Jesus Christ died on the cross to start “a New Covenant”, which changed all the previous rules of the “old system”. The book of Hebrews teaches that Christ’s New Covenant is “a new and living way” (Carefully Read Hebrews 10:19-23). The Bible uses the phrase “new and living way” because Christ’s sacrificial death established A NEW WAY THAT SALVATION IS OBTAINED. This NEW WAY didn’t exist before and was only made possible by the shedding of His blood. The NEW WAY OF CHRIST (OR THE NEW COVENANT) could only begin after the price was paid for our redemption at the cross. It makes the previous religious system obsolete and describes Christ’s new way as, “a better covenant established on better promises”.
“But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He (Jesus) is also MEDIATOR OF A BETTER COVENANT, WHICH WAS ESTABLISHED ON BETTER PROMISES. For if that FIRST COVENANT had been faultless, then no place would have been sought FOR A SECOND.” (Hebrews 8:6-7 NKJV)
“IN THAT HE (JESUS CHRIST) SAYS, “A NEW COVENANT,” HE HAS MADE THE FIRST OBSOLETE. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” (Hebrews 8:13 NKJV)
The New Covenant is also called “the new and living way of Christ” established on His blood (Read: Matt. 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20, 1 Cor. 11:25, 2 Cor. 3:6, Heb. 8:6-13, Heb. 9:15, Heb. 10:19-23, Heb. 12:24).
Here’s the problem: There are many church leaders (and their followers) that reject Christ’s NEW AND LIVING WAY because it violates their traditional religious beliefs that they don’t want changed. Saint Paul constantly ran into this resistance, especially when he preached THE NEW COVENANT OF CHRIST to Orthodox Jews (Read Acts 13:44-47). However, this same resistance to Christ’s Gospel also exists in today’s modern church under different names.
We see the beginning of this “battle for the mind” in the first century. In Acts chapter 15, the apostolic leadership of the church came together to decide which belief was correct. Some “Christ-believing” Pharisees argued that obtaining eternal life (Christ’s salvation) must include obedience to the laws and commandments of Judaism (also called The Law), which is found in the Old Testament section of our modern Bible. In other words, THEY WANTED TO MERGE THE REQUIREMENTS OF OLD COVENANT JEWISH LAW WITH THE NEW COVENANT GRACE OF JESUS CHRIST. It’s important to know that these Pharisees believed in Jesus and had good intentions. They were not out to deceive anyone and believed their teachings represented God’s original plan. They were not the same Pharisees that wanted to crucify Christ years earlier.
This is an example of how we can be convinced that our beliefs and teachings come from God — AND BE TOTALLY WRONG.
ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE BATTLEFIELD, the apostle Paul was called by God to preach Christ’s New Covenant Gospel, which taught that Jesus Christ paid the price for our salvation on the cross. This “paid-in-full” redemption allowed God to grant eternal life as an unmerited gift, or a spiritual benefit that didn’t require work or the keeping of the Law (Read Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 3:20, Romans 3:24-25, Romans 4:1-8, Titus 3:5-7, Galatians 5:4, Galatians 3:1-3, Galatians 3:10-12). After the sacrifice of Christ paid for our redemption, it no longer had to be earned through OBEDIENCE TO OLD COVENANT JEWISH LAW, WHICH WAS A RELIGIOUS SYSTEM THAT CHRIST’S SACRIFICE MADE OBSOLETE ACCORDING TO THE BOOK OF HEBREWS. We are over simplifying the conflict for the sake of brevity. Yet, these are the general battleground issues.
The “apostolic council” of Acts chapter 15 decided that Paul had the correct position. They wrote a letter to the church that established the Christian’s “faith in Christ” upon the unmerited characteristics of God’s Grace — and also warned about the wrong teaching of these Pharisees. Obviously, this enraged the Pharisees. By putting their decision in writing, the council also prevented the opposition from distorting their intentions after they adjourned. Thankfully, this apostolic letter is now recorded in the New Testament canon of Scripture, YET, IT IS REJECTED OR IGNORED BY MANY IN THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH THAT QUIETLY AGREE WITH THE PHARISEES AND TEACHES THEIR DOCTRINE AS FUNDAMENTAL BIBLE TRUTH.
The Spiritual War Inside The Church Begins
THE APOSTLIC LEADERSHIP’S ENDORSEMENT OF PAUL’S EVANGELISTIC MESSAGE IGNITED A MAJOR SPIRITUAL INTERNAL WAR THAT CONTINUES TODAY. This struggle travels under countless names and labels. It is between what some call, Pharisaical religion (counterfeit Christianity) and Christ’s New Covenant gospel (the new and living way of true Christianity).
Pharisaical religion mixes Judaism (the Mosaic Old Testament system of religion) and New Covenant Christianity together into one “unified theology”, which is then presented as the original intention of God’s Word. This unholy union creates a confusing doctrine that Paul refers to as a perverted gospel (Read Galatians 1:6-8). Some preachers call the ministers of this popular, yet false religion, “Judaizers”. It’s the same religious influence that Paul condemned in the Galatian Church because it brings the believer back under the dictates and judgments of Jewish law and perverts the unmerited characteristic of the Gospel of Christ. He wrote his “epistle (or letter) to the Galatians” to combat this false religion, which the entire congregation had embraced (Galatians 3:1-3). Paul condemned this doctrine as demonically influenced (Read 2 Corinthians 11:12-15 and Galatians 1:6-8), which is why believers should avoid it at all costs. In other words, Paul warned that it was a spiritually lethal heresy that carried a curse. Once again, these things do not represent some harmless “difference of opinion”. Unfortunately, Pharisaical religion is now taught by many sectors of the world-wide institutional Christian Church under the general banner of “Christian Fundamentalism” and the popular label of “Historical Christianity”. However, there are many other expressions that use different names and labels. It’s widely accepted because it’s marketed to church members as the true teachings of Scripture. However, it’s a dangerous counterfeit that masquerades as God’s Word through the deceptive and popular practice of ignoring and abusing the context of the Bible.
If the reader wants more information, click on the link below.
The Spiritual Revolution of Christ
(Important Note: More detailed information is provided under the section heading, “Closing Thoughts” at the end of this commentary.)
Jesus Christ Preaches His
“Great Escape” Sermon
The Prophets Micah, Amos and Isaiah looks
into the future and warns about a troubling
period of time. Could they be referring to
the same unique event that Jesus Christ
warns about many years later?
THE GODLY HAVE BEEN SWEPT FROM
THE LAND; NO ONE UPRIGHT MAN
REMAINS. All men lie in wait to shed
blood; each hunts his brother with
a net. Both hands are skilled in doing
evil; the ruler demands gifts, the judge
accepts bribes, the powerful dictate what
they desire–they all conspire together.
the best of them is like a brier, the most
upright worse than a thorn hedge. THE DAY
OF YOUR WATCHMEN HAS COME, THE DAY GOD
VISITS YOU. NOW IS THE TIME OF YOUR
CONFUSION. (Micah 7:2-4 — Emphasis Mine)
“Woe to you who long for the day of the LORD!
Why do you long for the day of the LORD?
THAT DAY WILL BE DARKNESS, NOT LIGHT. It
will be as though a man fled from a lion
only to meet a bear, as though he entered
his house and rested his hand on the wall
only to have a snake bite him. WILL NOT THE
DAY OF THE LORD BE DARKNESS, NOT
LIGHT–PITCH-DARK, WITHOUT A RAY OF
(Amos 5:18-20 — Emphasis Mine)
“YOUR DEAD SHALL LIVE; TOGETHER WITH MY
DEAD BODY THEY SHALL ARISE. Awake and sing,
you who dwell in dust; for your dew is
like the dew of herbs, and the earth shall
cast out the dead. COME, MY PEOPLE, ENTER
YOUR CHAMBERS, AND SHUT YOUR DOORS BEHIND
YOU; HIDE YOURSELF, AS IT WERE, FOR A
LITTLE MOMENT, UNTIL THE INDIGNATION IS
PAST. FOR BEHOLD, THE LORD COMES OUT OF
HIS PLACE TO PUNISH THE INHABITANTS OF
THE EARTH FOR THEIR INIQUITY; the earth
will also disclose her blood, And will no
more cover her slain.”
(Isaiah 26: 19-21 — Emphasis Mine)
An increasing number of so-called “Christian ministers and evangelists” attempt to discredit the rapture (or the “Translation of the Church”) as “a false, man-made doctrine”. They commonly flaunt their various credentials as evidence that their teaching is from God. Some arrogantly claim that the Bible does not teach about such a thing. Misleading comments like these make me wonder which Bible they’re reading. We make these offensive comments because the Holy Scriptures discuss these topics. Our Lord Jesus Christ taught about “AN ESCAPE” that God provides for His people from the horrible trials coming upon the earth. Jesus uses the phrase “in those days there will be tribulation” to describe this future period of time. Students of Bible prophecy call it, “The Tribulation Period”. Jesus clearly said that this time of tribulation HAS NEVER HAPPENDED BEFORE AND WON’T HAPPEN AGAIN. IT’S A ONE TIME EVENT THAT HASN’T HAPPENED YET.
Speaking about the last days, Jesus warned:
“For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be.” (Mark 13:19 NKJV)
“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, AND THAT DAY COME UPON YOU UNEXPECTEDLY. FOR IT WILL COME AS A SNARE ON ALL THOSE WHO DWELL ON THE FACE OF THE WHOLE EARTH. Watch therefore, and pray always THAT YOU MAY BE COUNTED WORTHY TO ESCAPE ALL THESE THINGS THAT WILL COME TO PASS, AND TO STAND BEFORE THE SON OF MAN.” (Luke 21:25-36 NKJV — Emphsis Mine)
(Special Note: In order to communicate in a clearer way we use the phrase “THE WORTHY ONES” to describe the people that Jesus said “should pray to be counted worthy to escape all these things”. It’s just saying the same thing in a slightly different way. It’s also important to remember that how a person becomes “worthy” radically changed after Jesus purchased our redemption at the cross (discussed later in this commentary). From His words, it’s obvious that Jesus isn’t just talking about one person, but about a special group of people that Saint Paul covers in more detail in his New Testament epistles to the Church.)
THE WORDS OF JESUS DISPROVES A POPULAR,
YET WRONG BIBLE PROPHECY TEACHING
Jesus referred to AN ESCAPE THAT GOD PROVIDES BEFORE THESE THINGS COME TO PASS (OR BEFORE “THE TRIBULATION OF THOSE DAYS”). It means that Jesus was teaching a “pre-tribulation” escape, OR AN ESCAPE THAT HAPPENS PRIOR TO THE DAYS OF TRIBULATION. Keep in mind that these are Christ’s words. TO PROVIDE AN ESCAPE AFTER A CALAMITY HAS OVERTAKEN YOU — IS NONSENSICAL AND OF NO BENEFIT. Also notice that Jesus said that this tribulation falls “ON ALL THOSE WHO DWELL ON THE EARTH”. Jesus used these exact words to say something important. AS AMAZING AS IT MIGHT SOUND, JESUS IS SUGGESTING THAT TO ESCAPE THIS COMING TRIBULATION, YOU WOULD HAVE TO SOMEHOW, LEAVE THE EARTH. He reinforces this idea by saying that the escape includes, “STANDING BEFORE THE SON OF MAN”, which means the destination (place of safety) is wherever Jesus is — and He’s not on earth during this time. What Christ is inferring in these Scriptures is inescapable (no pun intended). The word “escape” as used by Jesus Christ in these Scriptures IS NOT SOME KIND OF A PROTECTION PROVIDED FOR CHRISTIANS GOING THROUGH THE TRIBULATION ON EARTH, AS MANY CRITICS FALSELY TEACH. Instead, it suggests “the moving of a person or group from one place to another, to get them out of danger”. If you find yourself in a building that is on fire, the firemen don’t tell you to “stay where you are and we will protect you”. They usually yell at the top of their voice, to get out of (or escape) the building. Many Bible prophecy teachers insist that the Church (all believers who possess eternal life) must go through the tribulation first and the rapture OCCURS AFTERWARDS at the physical Second Coming of Christ. This is commonly known as “post-tribulationalism”. It contradicts what both Jesus and Saint Paul taught. The Bible reveals that the physical Second Coming of Christ (where every eye will see Him when He appears in the clouds) OCCURS AFTER THE TRIBULATION THAT JESUS WARNED ABOUT IN LUKE 21:25-36 and Mark 13:19).
(Jesus is speaking) “But in those days, AFTER THAT TRIBULATION, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. THEN THEY WILL SEE THE SON OF MAN COMING IN THE CLOUDS WITH GREAT POWER AND GLORY. (Mark 13:24-26 NKJV — Emphasis Mine)
However, the fact that Jesus taught that THE ESCAPE OCCURS BEFORE THE CALAMITY OF THE TRIBULATION HITS THE EARTH proves the “post-trib” belief is incorrect and misleading. Be forewarned: Many churches that teach Bible prophecy build their doctrine around “post-trib” theology.
The words of Christ also reveal another important truth. THE ESCAPE OF “THE WORTHY ONES” OCCURS SOME TIME BEFORE HIS SECOND COMING BECAUSE THE ESCAPE HAPPENS BEFORE “THE TRIBULATION OF THOSE DAYS”. THIS MEANS THAT THE ESCAPE IS AN ENTIRELY SEPARATE, YET “CONNECTED” EVENT. It demonstrates that Christ’s Second Coming involves TWO DIVINE OPERATIONS THAT ARE SEPARATED BY A SPECIFIC PERIOD OF TIME. First, the escape of “the worthy ones” happens just before earth’s final judgment (or tribulation) begins. At this time, Jesus does not physically return to earth, but meets “the escapees” IN THE AIR ABOVE THE EARTH AND TAKES THEM BACK TO HEAVEN FOR A PERIOD OF TIME (Scripture indicates this is an earthly period of 7 years). Secondly, Christ returns to end the tribulation on earth accompanied by “the worthy ones” (the redeemed believers) that previously escaped the earth’s tribulation and judgment. Pay particular attention to “the gathering” THAT JESUS SAID TAKES PLACE IN HEAVEN just before He returns at His Second Coming….
“And He shall send His angels with a great
sound of a trumpet, AND THEY SHALL
GATHER TOGETHER HIS ELECT from
the fourwinds, FROM ONE END OF HEAVEN
TO THE OTHER.” (Matthew 24:31 Emphasis Mine)
Looking thousands of years ahead to Christ’s
PHYSICAL RETURN TO EARTH, Enoch prophesied:
“Behold, the Lord comes WITH TEN THOUSANDS
OF HIS SAINTS…” (Jude 1:14 NKJV)
Saint Paul made the same observation about
Christ’s coming to earth when he said:
“To the end he may stablish your hearts
unblameable in holiness before
God, even our Father, AT THE COMING
OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST
WITH ALL HIS SAINTS.“
(1 Thessalonians 3:13 KJV — Emphasis Mine)
“Now, brethren, CONCERNING THE COMING
OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST AND
OUR GATHERING TOGETHER TO HIM,
we ask you, not to be soon shaken
in mind or troubled, either by
spirit or by word OR BY LETTER,
AS IF FROM US, as though the day
of Christ had come.”
(2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 NKJV — Emphasis Mine)
Where did the ones that the angels “gathered together” IN HEAVEN come from? Where did the saints that returned with Christ come from? What was this “gathering together unto Him” that Paul spoke of? They were “the worthy ones” (the redeemed believers) who previously participated in the escape Jesus warned about in Luke 21:25-36. These saints escaped the earth (or were “gathered from the earth” to be with Jesus) and stayed safely “with the Lord IN HEAVEN” — AND RETURNED WITH HIM TO EARTH AT THE SECOND COMING. (See the special note below)
(Jesus Christ speaking)”Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I WILL COME AGAIN AND RECEIVE YOU TO MYSELF; THAT WHERE I AM, THERE YOU MAY BE ALSO.” (John 14:1-3 NKJV — Emphasis Mine)
Additional Resources That Clear Up Some
Misconceptions About End-Time Events
As a supplement to our commentary, Jack Kelly of GraceThruFaith.com provides an excellent teaching on the 70th week of Daniel. This Old Testament prophecy given by the angel Gabriel to Daniel the prophet provides an important time-line that helps unlock our understanding of end-time events now coming to pass.
The 70 Weeks of Daniel–By Jack Kelly
A program that complements Jack Kelly’s commentary is provided by Gary Stearman and Prophecy in the News. This excellent teaching presentation is about the Day of the Lord, which is also called the Tribulation Period and the Time of Jacob’s Trouble. It should answer many questions concerning this soon-to-occur end-time event.
Prophecy In The News–The Day Of The Lord
A second program is also provided by Gary Stearman and Prophecy in the News. This presentation is about the often misunderstood subject of the First and the Last Trumpets. The apostle Paul said that the Last Trump will sound at the time of the rapture.
Prophecy In The News–The Two Trumpets
Dr. Andy Woods is the senior pastor of Sugar Land Bible Church and a full professor at the College of Biblical Studies in Houston and teaches Bible and theology. In this interview with Dr Todd Baker of Zola Levitt Ministries, Dr. Andy Woods explores the topic of Israel and the Kingdom of God. Understanding this truth is one of the keys that allow us to properly interpret end-time Bible prophecy.
Israel And The Kingdom–By Dr. Andy Woods
Presented By Zola Levitt Ministries
For those who want a more exhaustive study on why the rapture occurs before Daniel’s 70th week (or what is called the 7 year tribulation period), Dr. Richard Mayhue’s indepth teaching may meet your expectations. In an attempt to keep our commentaries simple and easy to understand, we try to avoid going into such detail. It is important for visitors to know that including Dr. Mayhue’s teaching on our website does not necessarily mean that we agree with all of his (or the sponsors and hosts of the presentation) beliefs. It also doesn’t mean that he (or the sponsors and hosts of the presentation) agrees with all of our teachings and beliefs. We make this information available because it provides a correct Scriptural defense that happens to compliment the subject of this commentary. There are countless bogus and false views about the rapture and how Christ’s great salvation is obtained and kept on the Internet, especially on YouTube. To the inexperenced believer they all appear to be based on Scripture — but it’s Scripture removed from the context where God originally placed it. For this reason, you should excercise great discernment when listening to Bible Prophecy topics on the YouTube website.
The Pre-Tribulation Rapture Of The Church
(Part 1) By Dr. Richard Mayhue
The Pre-Tribulation Rapture Of The Church
(Part 2) By Dr. Richard Mayhue
The Pre-Tribulation Rapture Of The Church
(Part 3) By Dr. Richard Mayhue
Note: Providing this information on our
website should not necessarily be interpreted
as total agreement with the theology,
eschatology or political views of the
various authors and teachers.
Important Note: In this special seminar teaching, Dr. Mayhue points out the problems in a theology held by a particular denominational group that viciously oppose the pre-tribulational position. He refers to them as “his covenantal brethren” or those that embrace something called “covenant theology”. He may also use other expressions using the word “covenant” to identify this group. All visitors should understand that various Bible teachers use these terms interchangeably to identify the doctrine of “Reformed Theology” (A name often used in the place of Reformed Theology is Covenant Theology). This dual terminology confuses many Christian people. On the Rock of Offence website we introduce our visitors to the Biblical institution of a “blood covenant”. Jesus said that his sacrifice at the cross began “a New Covenant in His blood”. All readers should understand that when we use the term blood covenant or “Christ’s New Covenant in His blood”, WE ARE NOT TEACHING THE DOCTRINE OF “COVENANT THEOLOGY (OR REFORMED THEOLOGY)”.
The New Covenant is also called “the new and living way of Christ” established on His blood (Read: Matt. 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20, 1 Cor. 11:25, 2 Cor. 3:6, Heb. 8:6-13, Heb. 9:15, Heb. 10:19-23, Heb. 12:24).
More information is provided below.
Our Position on Covenant/Reformed Theology
In addition to Dr. Mayhue’s teaching, we also provide two links to valuable studies that explains why the rapture of the Church…
(1) Is not “mid-trib” (occurring in the middle of the tribulation)
(2) Is not “pre-wrath” (or prior to pouring out of God’s wrath during the second half of the tribulation)
(3) Is not “post-trib” (occurring just before Second Coming of Christ at the end of the tribulation)
(4) Does not occur at the 7th trumpet of Revelation (a commonly held belief)
The Mystery of the Rapture
By Dr. David Reagan
The Last Trump
By Dr. Thomas Ice
Jesus Gives Us An Important Insight
Jesus tells us about His future return to the earth and an “escape” from the destruction and judgment He was warning His disciples about. This “escape” directly applies to the rapture, since the apostle Paul taught the same thing in his epistles and referred to it as “an escape or departure for the Church” BEFORE THE DESTRUCTION OF THE TRIBULATION BEGINS. Many Christians correctly elevate the words of our Lord above most everything else in Scripture. Some of our Bible translations properly highlight the words of Christ in red to emphasize their importance. Jesus is God’s Son and His words carry the full authority of Heaven. However, there is something the Bible emphatically warns about that can seriously impact our seemingly correct and flawless understanding in these matters. That “something” is failing to respect the contextual design of God’s Word. The Bible is divided into two primary covenants: The Old Covenant (recorded in the Old Testament) and Christ’s New Covenant (recorded in the New Testament). The New Testament Book of Hebrews calls them, the first covenant and the second covenant (Read Hebrews 8:7 and especially Hebrews 8:13 — also read Galatians 4:21-31). In 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul warns his disciple Timothy about this Old Covenant/New Covenant division. Due to its importance (and the fact that most Christians ignore Paul’s words) we repeat this important admonition throughout many of our commentaries.
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly (or correctly) dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 NKJV)
Timothy is warned THAT IN ORDER TO PROPERLY TEACH THE TRUTH OF GOD’S WORD, YOU MUST RESPECT THIS DIVISION. Why? Different rules and principles govern each of these radically different covenants. You can’t just arbitrarily and recklessly pull a Scripture from the Old Covenant and make it apply under Christ’s New Covenant (a violation of Biblical context) in order to validate your teaching (unless it’s clear that the Scripture you’re using uniquely applies under both). Yet, it’s estimated that a vast majority of Christian leaders (and those that follow them) do this very thing.
The apostle Paul called Christ’s New Covenant “The Mystery of Christ” — and God made Paul the exclusive administrator of its truths through what Bible scholars call, “The Pauline Revelation” (Read Ephesians 3;1-12, 2 Corinthians 12;1-4 and Galatians 1:11-12). Contrary to popular beliefs, Paul was the only apostle to receive this revelation about the mystery of the New Covenant, which was also the source of the Gospel of Christ that he preached. This mystery was not fully revealed for several years (some theologians think 7-10 years, but nobody knows exactly how long) after Christ’s crucifixion, resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Here’s what Jesus Christ had to say about the revealing of this truth:
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged. I HAVE YET MANY THINGS TO SAY UNTO YOU, BUT YE CANNOT BEAR THEM NOW. HOWBEIT WHEN HE, THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH, IS COME, HE WILL GUIDE YOU INTO ALL TRUTH: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. HE SHALL GLORIFY ME: FOR HE SHALL RECEIVE OF MINE, AND SHALL SHEW IT UNTO YOU.” (John 16:7-14)
Notice the timeframe included in Christ’s words. The truth He wanted his disciples to know wasn’t going to be fully revealed, except for some vague “types and shadows”, until after His death, resurrection, ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Why? Christ’s crucifixion (the spilling of His blood), resurrection, ascension and the coming of the Holy Spirit HAD TO HAPPEN FIRST BEFORE THE NEW COVENANT COULD BEGIN. UNTIL THEN, THE OLD COVENANT REMAINED IN AUTHORITY. The New Covenant that Jesus Christ came to initiate was “the many things” that He couldn’t tell His disciples while He was still alive during His ministry on earth. The phrase “many things” that Christ used also means “a lot of things”. Any way you look at it, Jesus alerts His audience to A FULL REVELATION, WHICH WAS HIDDEN IN A MYSTERY THAT HE SAID COULD NOT BE REVEALED BEFORE THE CROSS.
Jesus Christ had a good reason to withhold the revelation about His New Covenant. Years later, the apostle Paul gives us the reasons for our Lord’s action.
“However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. BUT WE SPEAK THE WISDOM OF GOD IN A MYSTERY, THE HIDDEN WISDOM WHICH GOD ORDAINED BEFORE THE AGES for our glory, WHICH NONE OF THE RULERS OF THIS AGE KNEW; FOR HAD THEY KNOWN, THEY WOULD NOT HAVE CRUCIFIED THE LORD OF GLORY.” (1 Corinthians 2:6-8 NKJV)
The “rulers of this age” that Paul speaks of here are “high order” demonic spirits, which were responsible for planning and orchestrating Christ’s crucifixion “behind the scene”. If Jesus and His disciples (during His earthly ministry) went around preaching the details of the yet future New Covenant, Paul said that these demonic spirits would have never crucified Christ. Why? The New Covenant in Christ’s blood (Luke 22:20 and 1 Corinthians 11:25) was God’s secret plan (Paul calls it “hidden wisdom”) to utterly destroy Satan’s dominion over the human race. Christ’s crucifixion was the centerpiece of God’s plan. The New Covenant couldn’t become reality without the crucifixion of our Lord. As a result of Christ’s “information blackout” Satan and his demonic world didn’t learn about their mistake until it was too late.
The vast majority of Christian believers think that Jesus revealed everything about our salvation in the gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) that records His earthly ministry. Yet, both Jesus and the apostle Paul say that this was not the case.
The majority of Christian leaders either ignores or is in denial about this important warning by both our Lord Jesus and Saint Paul. When you apply this failure to Bible prophecy topics, such as the rapture, serious Scriptural distortions emerge that lead believers astray in their faith. Once again, Jesus said that an escape would be provided for “the worthy ones”. This causes many church leaders and Bible teachers to wrongly conclude that this “escape” is only reserved for those who are “worthy” through possessing an abundance of good works, exceptional “Christian service” and a devoted faithfulness to God. Putting it another way, they teach that the believer’s qualifications for the “escape” is based on his or her obedience, religious performance and works. This also means that it’s impossible to know whether or not your level of performance meets God’s qualifications for the escape. Obviously, this causes us to keep feverishly working (out of fear) to avoid being left behind to suffer during the tribulation. This is a popular teaching that the first century church leadership condemned as spiritual bondage. Why? The qualifications to be counted “worthy” radically changed when Christ’s New Covenant began and “the mystery of Christ” was fully revealed after Jesus returned to the Father and after the Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost. Saint Paul was the vessel God chose to reveal this mystery, which had been kept secret until that time.
THE EPISTLES OF SAINT PAUL GIVES
US THE FULL REVELATION
The escape Jesus speaks about (or what is called the rapture) occurs in two phases. Saint Paul provides a complete outline of the entire event in his New Testament epistles. The first phase is a resurrection of those redeemed believers (the ones who received God’s salvation while alive on earth) who died and were buried in the grave. When they died, the Bible says their spirit went immediately to be with the Lord in heaven, but their physical body remained in the grave on earth. At “the great escape”, the spirits of these believers will return to be reunited with their body and they will be resurrected (raised up from the grave) in much the same way Jesus was resurrected — with a new incorruptible body. The New Testament teaches that these “resurrected believers” are the first to leave earth after receiving their changed, incorruptible body. The last to leave are the authentic believers in Christ “who are alive and remain”. After the resurrection of these “dead saints”, the living ones are changed (given an incorruptible body) and join them, with Jesus IN THE AIR. Both groups become one and will “forever be with the Lord”. This is the reason the rapture is many times referred to as “The resurrection of the saints”. It’s both a resurrection of the dead and a “catching away and translation” of the living. Both “phases” occur at the same event. In His popular “great escape sermon”, Jesus didn’t reveal the whole story because his salvation plan was still considered “a mystery” (or secret) before the cross (Carefully read Romans 16:25-27, 1 Corinthians 2:7-8 and 1 Corintians 15:50-55). This is why it’s imperative to read the epistles of Saint Paul, who reveals the entire salvation plan that went into operation following the cross. It was only then that the mystery of Christ (especially how our salvation is completed at the rapture) could be revealed to the world. God made Saint Paul the custodian of this “revelation of Christ’s Mystery”. (A brief tutorial of Saint Paul’s teaching is included further down in this commentary)
Readers will discover that some of the most popular “fear-invoking” teachings, such as post-trib doctrine, make no sense when you examine Scripture from a literal position. Having the words of the Lord Jesus Christ that prove the teaching is false, would normally be enough. Yet, it is wrong for many other reasons.
The links below provides more information
on this controversial topic.
Has The Rapture Become Your Worst Nightmare?
64 Reasons The Rapture Of The Church
Is Not The Second Coming Of Christ
Handling The Scriptures Dishonestly
Recently, I was reading a teaching on a Bible prophecy website. The preacher (or the author of the site) was ridiculing a reader who believed that God would provide “an escape” for Christians before the calamities of the coming Tribulation took place. This teacher replied, “IF YOU’RE REALLY THAT DECEIVED, THEN THERE IS LITTLE HOPE FOR YOU.” Keep in mind that this was a Christian website about Bible prophecy.
First of all, the reader was probably referring to the words of Jesus Christ, who said (we’re paraphrasing) ‘A WAY OF ESCAPE” FROM THE THINGS THAT WILL COME TO PASS (THE TRIBULATION HE WARNED ABOUT IN MARK 13:19) WILL BE PROVIDED FOR THE “WORTHY ONES’ (Mark 13:19 and Luke 21:25-36 previously quoted). Since Jesus is the one making the statement, this reader is on solid ground. Yet, THE TEACHER THAT CONFRONTED HIM CONTRADICTED WHAT JESUS SAID. Keep in mind that the Bible teaches that this time of tribulation and calamity is the result of God’s wrath and judgment that comes against all the nations of the world BECAUSE THEY REJECTED HIS SON. CHRIST’S NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH (ALSO KNOWN AS THE BODY OF CHRIST) HAS NOT COMMITTED THIS SIN. A few years later, Saint Paul instructs the Church about the same future tribulation that Jesus spoke of.
“But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. FOR WHEN THEY SAY, “PEACE AND SAFETY!” THEN SUDDEN DESTRUCTION COMES UPON THEM, AS LABOR PAINS UPON A PREGNANT WOMAN. AND THEY SHALL NOT ESCAPE. BUT YOU BRETHREN, ARE NOT IN DARKNESS, SO THAT THIS DAY SHOULD OVERTAKE YOU AS A THIEF. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. FOR GOD DID NOT APPOINT US TO WRATH, BUT TO OBTAIN SALVATION THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-10 NKJV — Emphasis Mine)
Following Christ’s crucifixion, Saint Paul speaks these words to the Thessalonian church. Paul said that “the day of the Lord” will come unexpectantly as SUDDEN DESTRUCTION AND AS A THIEF IN THE NIGHT. It’s important to realize that he is speaking of the same “time of tribulation” that Jesus was warning about in Mark 13:19. Jesus said, “For in those days there will be tribulation, SUCH AS HAS NOT BEEN SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE CREATION WHICH GOD CREATED UNTIL THIS TIME, NOR EVER SHALL BE”. From Christ’s words, we discover that this is a single and unique FUTURE period of time of God’s judgement and wrath. Both the book of Daniel and the book of Revelation indicate that it lasts for 7 years. This horrible time of calamity has never happened before and will never happen again. IT IS A ONE TIME EVENT. Paul calls it the SUDDEN DESTRUCTION OF THE DAY OF THE LORD. All of this information is pretty frightening. However, we are told about a new provision THAT COULD ONLY GO INTO OPERATION AFTER THE CROSS. Paul tells the Church (and the entire body of Christ): “FOR GOD DID NOT APPOINT US (SPEAKING OF ALL CHRISTIAN BELIEVERS) TO WRATH, BUT TO OBTAIN SALVATION THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST”. If the Church is not “appointed to the wrath of the upcoming tribulation”, how do we obtain salvation and be excused from God’s appointment with judgment and wrath? In order to miss this time of tribulation THAT JESUS SAID COMES UPON THE WHOLE WORLD, wouldn’t we have to, some how, leave the world? THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT PAUL TOLD THE CHURCH IN THE NEW TESTAMENT!
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: THEN WE WHICH ARE ALIVE AND REMAIN SHALL BE CAUGHT UP TOGETHER WITH THEM IN THE CLOUDS, TO MEET THE LORD IN THE AIR: AND SO SHALL WE EVER BE WITH THE LORD. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 NKJV — Emphasis Mine)
Saint Paul taught that, AT THE SAME TIME “WE OBTAIN SALVATION THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST” — WE WILL ALSO BE MISSING THE WORLD’S APPOINTMENT WITH GOD’S WRATH AND JUDGMENT. OUR ESCAPE FROM THE DESTRUCTION OF “THE TRIBULATION OF THOSE DAYS” IS PART OF OUR “OBTAINING SALVATION”. JESUS CALLS IT “OUR REDEMPTION”. WE ARE RELEASED FROM CERTAIN DESTRUCTION BECAUSE JESUS PAID A RANSOM PRICE, IN THE BLOOD OF HIS CROSS, FOR OUR DELIVERANCE. OUR ESCAPE TAKES PLACE WHEN WE ARE “CAUGHT UP” FROM THE EARTH TO MEET THE LORD JESUS CHRIST IN THE AIR. This is the reason many Bible teachers use the word “rapture” — because it literally means “to be caught up”.
Paul then goes on to give the details of how the salvation of the Church is obtained:
“Now this I say, brethren, THAT FLESH AND BLOOD CANNOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. BEHOLD, I TELL YOU A MYSTERY: We shall not all sleep, BUT WE SHALL ALL BE CHANGED–IN A MOMENT, IN THE TWINKLING OF AN EYE, AT THE LAST TRUMPET. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, AND WE SHALL BE CHANGED. FOR THIS CORRUPTIBLE MUST PUT ON INCORRUPTION, AND THIS MORTAL MUST PUT ON IMMORTALITY. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?'” (1 Corinthians 15:50-55 NKJV — Emphasis Mine)
Exploiting the Believer’s
Ignorance of the Bible
Some ministers, churches and denominations try to take advantage of our inexperience with the Scriptures. Here’s one example. Our Bible, such as the King James Version (and many others) exist as an English translation of the original Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic manuscripts. It was in these ancient documents that God preserved His Word — and our modern-day Bible is a translation of these writings. Those who say the Bible doesn’t teach about the rapture — or that the word “rapture” isn’t in the Bible — are being dishonest. God considers these kind of deceptive practices by some spiritual leaders, a serious sin. Why? It cheats the Christian believer out of encouragement or an important benefit. Our English-translated Bible doesn’t use the word “rapture”. However, it does use terminology that means the same thing as recorded in the ancient Biblical languages. For example, the phrase “caught up to meet Christ in the air” (as recorded in 1 Thessalonians 4: 16-18) — or Christ’s warning that describes “an escape” that God provides for believers before the soon-to-occur Tribulation (as recorded in the words of Christ from Mark 13:19 and Luke 21:25-36 previously quoted) carries the same meaning as our English word “rapture”. Also, Paul’s words that “all would be changed from mortal to immortal in the twinkling of an eye” (as recorded in 1 Corinthians 15:50-52) is a description of the “Translation of the Church”, which is another expression of the word “rapture”.
The word “rapture” comes from the Greek word “harpazo”, which has many meanings, yet very similar definitions. It is used in 13 verses in the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. Some of the ways Harpazo is used includes:
- To carry off
- To take by force
- To pluck up
- To snatch up
- To catch away
- To be caught up
- To physically move from one place to another
One popular evangelist was having dinner at a Greek resturant. He asked the owner to define the word Harpazo. The owner, whose native language was Greek replied, “That’s easy — it literally means to grab someone by the hair of the head and jerk them out of harm’s way.”
This is why anyone who says the Bible doesn’t teach about the rapture is lying to you.
The Cross of Christ Changed Everything
Following Christ’s crucifixion, the entire price for the salvation of all true believers in the Church was paid in full. After the cross, all believers are made worthy (righteous) only by the blood of Christ who is declared by Saint John to be, “The Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). It is this “totally paid for redemption” that allows Paul to proclaim that ALL (OR THE ENTIRE BELIEVING CHURCH) WILL BE CHANGED (OR TRANSLATED/RAPTURED) TO MEET THE LORD IN THE AIR. Before the cross, during the earthly ministry of Christ, a person’s worthiness was determined by their obedience to the commandments of Old Testament Law. During this time, our paid-in-full redemption (by Christ’s blood) was still in the future. This is why Jesus correctly warned his audience to “pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape”. Those who lived under Old Testament Law needed to take care that they were “worthy” through their obedience and “works of the Law”. After the cross, the blood of Christ paid the price to make all true believers “worthy” of His salvation as an unmerited and undeserved benefit (also known as Grace). This includes those with a high-level of Christian performance AND ALSO THOSE WHO ARE DEFICIENT IN THESE THINGS. This unconditional forgiveness and imputed worthiness (righteousness) freely given by God to all true believers is known as “THE NEW AND LIVING WAY OF CHRIST”. THIS “NEW AND LIVING WAY OF CHRIST” WASN’T AVAILABLE BEFORE THE CROSS.
“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS (THE NEW COVENANT), BY A NEW AND LIVING WAY WHICH HE (JESUS) CONSECRATED FOR US, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, FOR HE WHO PROMISED IS FAITHFUL.” (Hebrews 10:19-23 — Emphasis Mine)
If the reader wants more information, click on the link below.
Our Position In Christ
(Also Read Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 11:29, Romans 10:8-13, Romans 11:6, Romans 4:4-8, Romans 3:24-26, 1 John 1:7, Titus 3:5-7)
Wolves Disguised As God’s
Shepherds and Sheep
Jesus warned about the danger of “wolves in sheep clothing”, who ignore the context of Scripture and seek to redefine the liberating Gospel of Christ into a spiritually lethal form of theology. Saint Paul called this kind of “Christian teaching”, spiritual bondage. People forget that it was the religious leaders (The Scribes and Pharisees) and not the “laity” that persuaded Pontius Pilate to crucify Christ. Contrary to popular opinion, these kinds of apostate spiritual leaders still exist in large numbers and travel under different names and carry impressive seminary credentials. It is not some “fringe” movement, but a mainstream influence in the world-wide institutional Christian Church. This situation remains a threat to both experienced and inexperienced believers.
“THIS KNOW ALSO, THAT IN THE LAST DAYS PERILOUS TIMES SHALL COME. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, FALSE ACCUSERS, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; HAVING A FORM OF GODLINESS, BUT DENYING THE POWER THEREOF: FROM SUCH TURN AWAY. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, EVER LEARNING, AND NEVER ABLE TO COME TO THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, SO DOES THESE ALSO RESIST THE TRUTH: men of corrupt minds, REPROBATE CONCERNING THE FAITH.” (2 Timothy 3:1-8 NKJV — Emphasis Mine)
“But what I do, I will also continue to do, that I may cut off the opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are in the things of which they boast. For such are FALSE APOSTLES, deceitful workers, TRANSFORMING THEMSELVES INTO APOSTLES OF CHRIST. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. THEREFORE IT IS NO GREAT THING IF HIS MINISTERS ALSO TRANSFORM THEMSELVES INTO MINISTERS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, whose end will be according to their works.” (2 Corinthians 11:12-15 — Emphasis Mine)
To the church of Ephesus, Jesus said, “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. AND YOU HAVE TESTED THOSE WHO SAY THEY ARE APOSTLES AND ARE NOT, AND FOUND THEM TO BE LIARS . . .” (Revelations 2:2 NKJV — Emphasis Mine)
Jesus and John the Baptist called the false religious leaders of their day,
“Brood of vipers” (Matthew 3:7, Matthew 12:34, Matthew 23:33, Luke 3:7)
Other names were used such as “wolves in sheep’s clothing” and “whitewashed tombs”
(Matthew 7:15, Luke 10:3, Acts 20:29, Matthew 23:27)
The Church Obtains It’s Complete
Salvation At The Rapture
In this commentary we are not trying to create controversy about some obscure event called “the rapture” — just to be controversial. Contrary to some popular, yet wrong teaching, this topic is far from something obscure or unimportant. The rapture or what is also called “The Translation of the Church” IS THE COMPLETION OF CHRIST’S SALVATION FOR THE BELIEVER LIVING IN THE AGE OF GRACE. As we discovered previously in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10, Paul referred to it as “OBTAINING SALVATION THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST”. The meaning of the word “translation” is simply A CHANGE THAT TAKES PLACE FROM ONE SPHERE OF EXISTENCE TO ANOTHER. We can see something similar occur in nature when a caterpillar encases itself in a cocoon and emerges some time later as a beautiful butterfly. Paul used this terminology in 1 Corinthians 15:50-55 (previously quoted) when he told believers in the Church that, “WE SHALL ALL BE CHANGED”. The Holy Spirit through Saint Paul was telling us that WE SHALL ALL BE CHANGED (or translated) from our present mortal state (flesh and blood) to an incorruptible and immortal existence that can inherit God’s Kingdom. When Jesus died on the cross, his mortal body, which was subject to death, was placed in the grave. However, three days later God resurrected Him with a new incorruptible and immortal body THAT IS NO LONGER SUBJECT TO DEATH. JESUS CHRIST WAS THE FIRST TO EXPERIENCE THIS “TRANSLATION” (OR CHANGE) WHILE IN THE TOMB. THIS IS THE REASON JESUS IS REFERRED TO AS, “THE FIRSTBORN FROM THE DEAD”. Saint John reveals this truth when he said:
“Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, AND FROM JESUS CHRIST, THE FAITHFUL WITNESS, THE FIRSTBORN FROM THE DEAD, AND THE RULER OVER THE KINGS OF THE EARTH. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:5-6 NKJV — Emphasis Mine)
If God’s Word tells us that there is a “firstborn from the dead”, then there is also a second, third, (and so on)…born from the dead. If you’re a believer, your number is in there, somewhere. Otherwise, the term “firstborn” makes little sense. Living Christian believers, also referred to as “the body of Christ” in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 12:27 and Ephesians 4:12), will experience THE SAME KIND OF CHANGE THAT OCCURRED TO CHRIST AT HIS RESURRECTION. This happens at a future event commonly called “the rapture” (or what Jesus called “the escape”). Why? Christian believers represent Christ’s body on the earth and are destined to possess the same kind of body as their incorruptible and immortal Lord. Regardless of how incredible this all sounds, BELIEVERS IN CHRIST MUST BE CHANGED (OR TRANSLATED) to fulfill what the Bible promises. The translation (or rapture) will happen whether your church teaches it or not. Why? God’s reputation is at stake. Becoming like our Lord Jesus Christ, which includes receiving the same type of body He now possesses, IS GOD’S ULTIMATE PLAN AND WILL FOR US.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, HE ALSO PREDESTINED TO BE CONFORMED TO THE IMAGE OF HIS SON, THAT HE (JESUS CHRIST) MIGHT BE THE FIRSTBORN AMONG MANY BRETHREN. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, THESE HE ALSO GLORIFIED.” (Romans 8:28-30 NKJV — Emphasis Mine)
“But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, EVEN SO IN CHRIST ALL SHALL BE MADE ALIVE. BUT EACH ONE IN HIS OWN ORDER: CHRIST THE FIRSTFRUITS, AFTERWARD THOSE WHO ARE CHRIST’S AT HIS COMING. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.” (1 Corinthians 15:20-24 NKJV — Emphasis Mine)
The translation (or rapture) EXISTS AS A MAJOR FULFILLMENT OF NEW TESTAMENT SALVATION THAT JESUS PAID FOR, IN BLOOD, AT THE CROSS. THE WHOLE BODY OF CHRIST (THE ENTIRE BELIEVING CHURCH) WILL PARTICIPATE IN THE RAPTURE. Contrary to some popular false and out-of-context Bible teaching, this soon-to-occur “translation” is not something given to a “chosen few” as a reward for exceptional Christian service, faithfulness and holy living. While these attributes are all good things every believer should desire, the Bible teaches that they can never qualify us for the rapture. All believers are justified freely by Christ’s blood (Note: the word “justified” means that God treats them as if they had never sinned). Those with a high degree of Christian performance AND THOSE DEFICIENT IN THESE THINGS — (BOTH GROUPS AND EVERYONE IN BETWEEN) ARE COMPLETELY AND FREELY JUSTIFIED BY FAITH IN CHRIST’S REDEEMING BLOOD.
“…BEING JUSTIFIED FREELY BY HIS GRACE THROUGH THE REDEMPTION THAT IS IN CHRIST JESUS, whom God set forth as a propitiation BY HIS BLOOD, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:24-26 — Emphasis Mine)
It is this “free justification” and our “paid-in-full” redemption that qualifies ALL BELIEVERS IN CHRIST to participate in the rapture of the Church. Scripture refers to it as “the believer’s blessed hope” (Titus 2:11-14).
Any pastor, evangelist, minister or apostle, regardless of how well-intentioned, who claims that the Bible does not teach about the rapture (or omits the topic from their sermons and teachings) is guilty of distorting a central truth of Christ’s salvation. It can lead Christian believers and whole congregations astray in their faith. These kinds of misguided teachings or sermons, regardless of its source, are labeled as a “perversion of the gospel”. It carries a perverting influence because it attempts to redefine Christ’s salvation by removing or discrediting the offensive and divisive elements and treating them as non-essential. Saint Paul warned that this “perverted gospel” also carried a frightening curse (Carefully read Galatians 1:6-9). Paul uses the term “accursed”, which suggests that it brings Divine rejection. Paul constantly opposed the popular “Bible teachers” of his day who taught this kind of false “Christian theology”. It is the reason why we can never trust that all ministers who claim they are serving Christ (including those trained in seminary) are giving us the real truth of the Gospel. Thinking that all ministers are right because they seem sincere and loving or have good intentions is a fatal mistake that has claimed many victims down through the history of the church. Unfortunately, the perverted gospel that Paul warned about is now mainstream in the world-wide Christian Church.
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; AND AVOID THEM. FOR THEY THAT ARE SUCH SERVE NOT OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, but their own belly; AND BY GOOD WORDS AND FAIR SPEECHES DECEIVE THE HEARTS OF THE SIMPLE (SPIRITUALLY INEXPERIENCED).” (Romans 16:18 — Emphasis Mine)
We must briefly touch on some influences that drive some ministers to discredit or attempt to undermine the Church’s salvaton at the translation/rapture, or view it with contempt. Once again, this common attitude does not come from some kind of “fringe” agenda. It’s something very dominant and “mainstream” in the world-wide institutional Church.
We can’t properly study the subject of the rapture unless we understand the source of the massive confusion in the church. Unfortunately, this involves “looking beneath the surface” and going deeper than most people want to go. We must always base our faith on God’s Word (the rule-book for our faith), which makes it necessary to examine what Scripture has to say. However, in this situation, a topic like the rapture cannot be properly addressed in a couple paragraphs. There are numerous “theological systems” that dominate the Christian church AND OPERATE BY STEALTH. These systems of theology each interpret Scripture in a different way. They tend to act as a “filter” that various churches and their congregations use to make sense of the Bible. Here’s the problem: If this “theological filter” is faulty then your interpretation of Scripture will also be faulty. When dealing with the doctrine of Christ’s Salvation, this sets up a disastrous situation. This is why we must have at least a surface understanding of these “methods of interpretation” in order to answer certain questions. Three of the most dominant systems of theology are:
- Reformed Theology (and its variants of Calvinism and Replacement Theology)
From this list, I will not discuss Catholicism, in order to keep these comments as brief as possible and to limit our discussion to the Protestant side of the Christian Church.
Note: To keep from adding more confusion, the reader should understand that all comments here are generalized. Otherwise, our response would be the size of a 150 page book that few people would read. This particular topic has been the “flash-point” of a spiritual war that’s been raging for hundreds of years INSIDE THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH. However, regardless of the restrictions, we can still get an understanding of the problem.
How Reformed Theology Distorts
The Holy Scriptures
This popular and dominant theology generally views the entire Bible as having one uniform message. In other words, those who embrace Reformed theology passionately believe that the way God interacts with the human race in the Old Testament generally remains the same in the New Testament. This view is empowered by the belief (to a greater or lesser degree in some mainline churches) that Israel was rejected by God for their sin of crucifying Christ and was PERMANENTLY REPLACED with the New Testament Christian Church. As a result, many “reformed ministers and teachers” believe that the current nation of Israel is permanently and divinely cursed and should be destroyed for her sin. They are blinded by their theology that the restoration of the nation of Israel, which occurred in 1948 is a powerful fulfillment of Bible prophecy. As a result of their error, reformed ministers and their followers now believe the Christian Church is “The New Israel” and Christian believers are now the new “spiritual Jews”. (I do not hold this view because it violates the context of Scripture and distorts Christ’s Salvation)
Through this act of permanent rejection, reformed ministers (and their followers) sincerely believe that God transferred the entire Old Testament spiritual program of Israel to the Christian Church. This popular belief is known as “Replacement Theology” and operates in a majority of churches that embrace Reformed Theology. Once again, this influence dominates most mainline Protestant denominations (and also Roman Catholicism). However, the way God deals with our sin — and how the Holy Spirit operates RADICALLY CHANGED after the crucifixion of Christ and the day of Pentecost. THE LORD JESUS CHRIST WARNED HIS DISCIPLES ABOUT THESE MAJOR FUTURE CHANGES SHORTLY BEFORE HIS CRUCIFIXION — and the apostle Paul provides more insight into these changes in his epistles to the Church. Yet, Replacement/Reformed ministers continue to teach their congregations as if little change has taken place — and that the program of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament with Israel continues pretty much the same into the New Testament (after the cross), WHICH IS ONE REASON IT’S DESCRIBED AS HAVING ONLY ONE UNIFORM MESSAGE. If it’s “uniform” then its THE SAME THROUGHOUT.
Reformed theologians use an interpretation method called “allegorizing (or spiritualizing) Scripture” to make the Bible fit their traditions and doctrine. This is nothing more than misapplying Scripture by either ignoring or abusing its context. It has the disastrous effect of making the New Testament appear to be just a continuation of the Judaistic Old Testament religious system (with Jesus Christ added in). Even worse, it destroys the divinely crafted context of the Bible. This method of interpretation is responsible for many dangerous distortions of God’s true intentions toward the believer found in Scripture. It is also responsible for a majority of the attacks against the authentic Gospel of Christ, WHICH IS BASED ON THE NEW COVENANT GRACE (OR UNMERITED AND UNDESERVED FAVOR) OF GOD. Yet, reformed doctrine redefines the word “Grace”. This skillfully modified message continues to be presented as fundamental Bible truth, which can mislead entire congregations. Even though it is dominant in the world-wide institutional Christian church, we consider Replacement/Reformed Theology as a misleading religious system that can take believers astray in their faith. Why? It redefines important Bible doctrines of the Christian faith (through spiritualizing Scripture) that were meant to be understood by a “literal” interpretation of the Bible.
A vast majority of the verbal assaults against the Pre-tribulation rapture comes from Pharisaical religion, which operates inside the institutional Christian Church. Scripture reveals that God will use something that Jesus called, “the tribulation of those days” (also known as “Jacob’s Trouble”) to bring Israel back to Himself in the end-times. Pharisaical religion commits the error of merging Israel’s Old Testament program of Judaism with the Church’s New Testament program of Grace (or the unmerited favor of God). IT’S THE SAME FALSE THEOLOGY THAT SAINT PAUL CONDEMNED AND WHICH NEARLY DESTROYED THE GALATIAN CHURCH OF THE FIRST CENTURY. (Some theologians refer to it as “The Galatian Error” or “Galatian religion”) This is the reason these well-intentioned, yet misguided theologians (and their followers), who support this popular Galatian doctrine conclude that the Church must go through the tribulation. Why? Their theology deceives them into thinking that the Church is now “The New Israel”, which is a gross violation of Biblical context and, as Saint Paul put it, “perverts the salvation of Christ”. This is the reason that those who embrace Pharisaical religion (or what some call Galatian Religion and Reformed theology) considers the Pre-tribulation rapture teaching, where the Church (or worthy ones) escapes the coming judgment on the earth–to be a heresy. It is also why they viciously attack anyone who believes this way. Yet, few of them seem to notice that their accusations of heresy are directed at a truth taught by our Lord Jesus Christ. It gives new meaning to the warning of Saint Paul who said, “Let no man deceive you by any means”.
The Galatian Error is Renamed
and Reintroduced Into The
The Holy Scriptures teach that the Old Testament program of Israel and the New Testament program of the Church are two separate and different administrations (or dispensations) that must never be treated the same OR MERGED TOGETHER. Contrary to popular reformed teaching, GOD HAS NOT PERMANENTLY REJECTED ISRAEL, RESULTING IN THE REASSIGNMENT OF THEIR SPIRITUAL PROGRAM TO SOMEONE ELSE. When reformed theologians fail to “rightly divide” the Word of Truth (as Saint Paul taught in 2 Timothy 2:15), they take the two spiritual programs of the Bible (Israel and the Church) AND MERGE THEM TOGETHER INTO ONE PROGRAM. This is a gross violation of Biblical context and is nothing more than the reinvention of Galatian religion (Paul called it “a different gospel”), which was rejected by the apostolic leadership of the first century church.
The Bible condemns this kind of Bible interpretation as something that perverts God’s original intention and redefines our salvation through Christ. As a result, God assigns a curse on all who preach this kind of distorted doctrine (Carefully Read Galatians 1:6-8). In other words, IT’S A SPIRITUALLY ILLEGAL PRACTICE THAT CAUSES GOD TO TAKE SEVERE DISCIPLINARY ACTION AGAINST THE PREACHERS AND THEIR FOLLOWERS. Although many churches call this “merging of administrations”, fundamental Bible teaching doesn’t change the fact the God condemns the theology as false and misleading. Instead of keeping these programs separate (or as Saint Paul called it — rightly divided), as the rules of Scriptural context demands, it mixes Israel’s Old Testament program of the Law with the Church’s New Testament program of Grace (God’s unmerited and undeserved favor) and reinvents the Church as “The New Israel”. It creates a false, yet new spiritual program that the adherents claim is fundamental Bible teaching. Yet, it only appears to be Biblical because the context of Scripture is distorted (this is also referred to as “spiritualizing Scripture).
A vast majority of the Christian Church is guilty of engaging in this forbidden practice. As we repeatedly say in our commentaries; this is a mainstream theology in the institutional Christian Church. It’s not some kind of minor influence from a fringe sect. It’s disastrous because it carries many unintended spiritual consequences by corrupting our faith in Christ, while fooling the believer into thinking they are following the teachings of God’s Word. For these reasons, the leadership of the early church, especially Saint Paul, rightly considered this theology a serious error that leads us astray in our faith. He warned the early church to constantly be on guard against it. Yet, we are told by some church leaders in the popular unity movement that we’re all children of God and that it’s just “a difference of opinion”.
We recently discovered a commentary from C.I. Scofield, who produced the popular “Scofield Reference Bible” and sounds a sober warning to the institutional Christian Church. We are not necessarily students of Scofield. Yet, we find that his writings reinforce the subject of this commentary.
“In contrast to Reformed theology is Dispensationalism. Dispensationalism says that to find the believer’s rule of life you must go not to Mount Sinai, but to Mount Calvary. Mount Sinai is powerless to justify a person and Mount Sinai is also powerless to sanctify a person. The law is not the believer’s rule of life. Something else is. The Scofield Bible states this position very clearly: “The test of the gospel is grace. IF THE MESSAGE EXCLUDES GRACE, OR MINGLES LAW WITH GRACE AS THE MEANS OF JUSTIFICATION OR SANCTIFICATION, OR DENIES THE FACT OR GUILT OF SIN WHICH ALONE GIVES GRACE ITS OCCASION AND OPPORTUNITY, IT IS ‘ANOTHER’ GOSPEL, AND THE PREACHER OF IT IS UNDER THE ANATHEMA OF GOD.”
[From "Footnote #6" in the SCOFIELD REFERENCE BIBLE under Galatians 1:6--Emphasis Mine.]
“Most of us have been reared and now live under the influence of Galatianism. PROTESTANT THEOLOGY IS FOR THE MOST PART THOROUGHLY GALATIANIZED, in that neither the law or grace is given its distinct and separate place as in the counsels of God, BUT THEY ARE MINGLED TOGETHER IN ONE INCOHERENT SYSTEM. The law is no longer, as in the divine intent, a ministration of death (2 Cor. 3:7), of cursing (Gal. 3:10), or conviction (Rom. 3:19), because we are taught that we must try to keep it, and that by divine help we may. Nor does grace, on the other hand, bring us blessed deliverance from the dominion of sin, for we are kept under the law as a rule of life despite the plain declaration of Romans 6:14.” — C.I. SCOFIELD --
If the reader wants more information, click on the links below.
Avoiding the Error of Replacement Theology
The Spiritual Revolution of Christ
Contending For The Faith
The popular and accepted practice of merging these spiritual programs together is what convinces many Bible prophecy teachers to reject any idea that believers will escape “the tribulation of those days”. This rejection is contrary to what both Jesus and Saint Paul taught about the end times. When we learn the purpose for the Tribulation, we discover that it’s sent as severe judgment to bring Israel, who rejected and crucified their Messiah, back into relationship with God. Why is He bringing Israel back? Because of an “everlasting covenant” that He made with them in the book of Genesis, they were only temporarily set aside and were never permanently rejected. Following the cross, the apostle Paul addresses this common misconception when he says:
“I say then, hath God cast away his people (The Jews)? GOD FORBID. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. GOD HATH NOT CAST AWAY HIS PEOPLE WHICH HE FOREKNEW.” (Romans 11:1-2)
“For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. AND SO ALL ISRAEL WILL BE SAVED….” (Romans 11:25-26 NKJV — Emphasis Mine)
Distorting The Purpose
Of the Tribulation
The tribulation pertains only to Israel and the rest of the nations that rejected the salvation of God’s Son. THE CHURCH (ALL TRUE BELIEVERS IN CHRIST) DOESN’T NEED TO BE BROUGHT BACK TO GOD. Unlike Israel, the Church believed in Christ (the Jewish Messiah and our Lord) and received His Salvation. It is this characteristic of having “received Christ” that makes the Church what it is. THIS IS WHY JESUS PROMISED THAT THERE WAS AN ESCAPE THAT GOD PROVIDES FOR “THE WORTHY ONES”. They are the ones that did not reject Christ, but believed on Him. Following the cross, “the worthy ones” are all those who are freely justified by receiving God’s gift of eternal life. Jesus Christ as, “The Lamb of God that took away the sin of the world” – completely took away all the sin of the Church and made them “worthy to escape the judgments of the tribulation”.
Reformed theology, Calvinism and all its countless related variants considers the Church (to a greater or lesser degree) to be “the new Israel” and the believer to be “the new Jew”. FOR THIS REASON, THEY BELIEVE THAT THE NEW ISRAEL MUST GO THROUGH THE TRIBULATION BECAUSE BOTH GOD AND SCRIPTURE SUPPORTS THIS IDEA.
BUT, BY IGNORING THE CONTEXT OF THE BIBLE, THEY’RE TEACHING SOMETHING THAT GOD NEVER SAID.
WHY? THROUGH THE TENANTS OF REFORMED THEOLOGY, THEY HAVE BEEN DECEIVED INTO THINKING GOD HAS PERMANENTLY REJECTED THE ORIGINAL NATION OF ISRAEL AND THAT THE CHURCH HAS NOW TAKEN HER PLACE AND ASSUMED HER ROLE IN SCRIPTURE.
As a result, they make fun of those who believe and teach about the Church’s escape, WHICH IS THE FULFILLMENT OF HER SALVATION. They belittle and mock the rapture by calling it “the great snatch”. They say that Christians who think this way are seeking to “skip out on the will of God” in the tribulation by choosing to wrongly believe in “escapism”. They mock and call them “deceived religious nuts” and claim that the Bible teaches no such doctrine as the rapture. However, the only thing these “religious nuts” are guilty of — is believing what Jesus taught about “the tribulation of those days”. Also, think about this: What person in their right mind wouldn’t want to escape the horrors of the tribulation IF GOD MADE A WAY OF ESCAPE – LIKE JESUS SAID THAT HE DID. I always thought the real “religious nuts” were the ones who wanted to go through this horrific time period and considered it “God’s will” for their life”. Unfortunately, if they continue to teach this kind of error, they just might get their wish.
There’s something seriously wrong with so-called “Christian ministers” who malign and mock someone because they desire to believe something good that Jesus said. Maybe this is why Saint Paul taught that their theology was not only misguided but “demonically inspired” and warned that God has placed a curse on their ministry and those that follow them (Carefully Read Galatians 1:6-8). C.I. Scofield warned that they were “under the anathema of God”, which means denounced, banished or accursed. Folks, I don’t know about you, but this is terrifying — and a vast majority of the institutional Christian Church ignores the existence of this warning and lives in a type of dangerous “spiritual denial”. Because their reformed “theological filter” has a serious flaw, they remain blind to the liberating facts, even when these truths are being revealed by Jesus Christ Himself.
A Dispensational View of the Bible
We agree with both Jesus and Paul that the Bible is divided into two major “administrations” or spiritual programs THAT MUST NEVER BE MIXED TOGETHER. Another name for this view is “dispensationalism”, which is in direct opposition to the uniform message of Reformed Theology. The Old Testament represents Israel’s Old Covenant administration (or dispensation) — and the New Testament contains the Church’s New Covenant administration (or dispensation). For the sake of brevity, I will not discuss the details of dispensationalism in this commentary, except to say that it represents a “literal” interpretation of the Bible, which keeps the Divine context of the Holy Scriptures intact. The Bible is designed by God as “dispensational”. That alone makes it important.
Rather than the “uniform view of Bible history” found in Reformed Theology, Dispensationalists correctly believe that Biblical history is divided into different dispensations or administrations. In each dispensation, God sets out to accomplish something totally different. For example: The rules and principles that govern salvation under Old Testament Law are vastly different than the rules and principles that govern salvation under Christ’s New Covenant that didn’t begin until after the cross. Reformed theologians teach a “sameness” or uniformity of God’s program in the Bible for man throughout history, while Dispensationalists reveal the unique differences between each Divine administration. Reformed Theology spiritualizes Scripture to achieve agreement with the Biblical text. Dispensationalists use a “literal” interpretation of the Scripture, which makes it difficult to “theorize” their own interpretation to achieve Scriptural harmony. When Paul warned his disciple Timothy to “rightly (or correctly) divide the Word of Truth”, he was stating an important fact…that God’s Word is DIVIDED into two spiritual programs that must not be mixed together (2 Timothy 2:15). This is the essence of dispensationalism.
When churches, denominations and ministers attempt to discredit (or leave out) the translation/rapture of the Church in their teachings, it is almost always due to the influence of one of the countless variants of Reformed Theology. We must remember: When Scripture is removed from its context, it still appears, to the undiscerning Christian believer, to be Scripture that carries God’s authority. Few recognize that using a Scripture out of context either distorts or destroys God’s original intention. This is how many types of false theology, masquarading as God’s Word, continue to do great damage to the faith of God’s children.
If the reader is interested, here are some links
to commentaries with more information.
Has The Rapture Become Your Worst Nightmare?
A Warning About Violating
Avoiding The Error Of Replacement Theology
The Prime Directive of the
Authentic Gospel of Christ
We Also Recommend The Following Audio/Video Links
IMPORTANT NOTE: Our recommendation of these links should not
be understood as complete agreement with all beliefs of
the author, who also may not agree with everything we teach.