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Sunday, October 16, 2016

Protestants Running to Orthodoxy for Legal Cover

The Mystical and Traditional Schools 

Jean Tauler

Even prior to Jan Hus, the German Mystics were experiencing the presence of God through a personal relationship born out of repentance, and the denial of self. Not the self flagellation practiced by some monks, but the acknowledgment that man's existence is "for Him, and from Him, and to Him." Their connection with God was found, not in church sacraments, but in a direct relationship through the person of Jesus Christ. Unlike Ignatius, who wrote, "where the bishop is, there is the church;" they believed the church was "where ever two or three are gathered together in [His] name," even in a tiny house church (home fellowship)!

The Protection of the Church by the State

Stylized Russian and Byzantine Double Eagles

The Institutionalized Church


According to Orthodox Wiki: "The double-headed eagle is the most recognizable symbol of Orthodoxy today (other than the cross) and was the official state symbol of the late Byzantine Empire, symbolising the unity between the Byzantine Orthodox Church and State, which was governed by the principle of Symphonia or Synallelia, that is, a "symphony" between the civil and the ecclesiastical functions of Christian society." emphasis added <orthodoxwiki.org/Double-headed_eagle>

But ultimately, the State/Church is spiritually and fundamentally opposed to freedom of religion. "Russian President Vladimir Putin signed legislation this week that severely restricts freedom of religion by prohibiting any religious speech or evangelization outside of places of worship. “This new situation resembles the Soviet Union in 1929. ... “Practically speaking, we are back in the same situation." <www.breitbart.com/faith/2016/07/10/putin-signs-measure-revoking-religious-freedom>

The Anglican Solution to the Separation of Church and State


The Anglican Church began as a Protestant Movement. But in the early 1800's, primarily due to legal issues, the "Tractarians" began to revert to Catholicism - minus the worship of Mary.
At that time, the government of England was trying to control the liturgy of the church. The Oxford Movement argued that the church had autonomous authority, asserting that its authority was based on the principle of Apostolic Succession.  This succession, by way of the "root" of St. Peter, logically led to the Anglicans reuniting with the Roman Catholic Church - considering themselves to be a "branch" of the Mother Church.

It is sad that the Tractarians were reluctant to profess that their authority to govern the affairs of the church was spiritual in nature - proceeding from God's supernatural appointment of Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors. . . (Ephesians 4:11)  Instead, the Anglicans ran for the cover to the Roman system and embraced many of the Catholic practices. In fact, several of the leaders of the Oxford Movement, like John Newman, forsook the teachings of the Reformers altogether and became Catholic priests - even Bishops.

John Henry Newman by Sir John Everett Millais

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Teach the Word - Not the Gospel of the Fathers: Baptism

Water Baptism

Nicolas Poussin [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.  Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.  Matthew 28:18-20
These verses, known as the Great Commission, instructed the Disciples to baptize and teach their converts.  In obedience to this directive, a believer should submit to water baptism as soon as possible after placing faith in Christ.  The Bible contains hundreds of verses relating salvation to faith and belief, indicating that salvation is obtained by placing faith in Christ.  There are only a few verses that associate salvation with water baptism.  Water baptism is, however, the most widely held method of making a public profession of faith in Christ.  Furthermore, orthodox churches have traditionally associated baptism with the forgiveness of sins.
From the time of the second century until today churches have held differing beliefs about the timing and effects of water baptism.  Although “households” believed and were baptized, the baptism of infants was not documented in the Bible.   But church history indicates that some Christians were beginning to baptize their babies during the first few centuries.  On the other hand, during the third and fourth centuries many people practiced ‘death-bed’ baptism.  They believed that only pre-baptismal sins were removed at the time of water baptism.  Therefore, they put baptism off until the last moment so that they might enter heaven in their purest state.  The deathbed baptism theory was based on the assumption that baptism, rather than faith in Jesus’ sacrifice, was the agent which removes sin.
Most often the Bible indicates the order of our conversion experience as “repent and be baptized”.  The following section of scripture emphasizes the importance of oral confession prior to water baptism.  In this narrative, Philip had just explained how Jesus fulfilled the prophecies about the Christ found in Isaiah 53.
Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him.  Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?"  Then Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God."  So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.  Acts 8:36-38
It would appear from Philip's statement that this baptism depended upon the eunuch's belief that Jesus was indeed the Christ, the Son of God.  Water baptism was identified from the time of John the Baptist as an act which accompanies repentance.  When infants undergo ritual baptism they are incapable of contemplating repentance.  Most churches which practice infant baptism also acknowledge the need for a confirmation at the age of accountability.  This system presumes that the child will grow to understand the lost state of their soul and will embrace Jesus as their savior.  But the conviction of sins by the Holy Spirit cannot be induced by man - it is a sovereign act of God.
God has granted free will to every person and each soul will be judged for their own life.  A child’s free will is never possessed by its parents.  Parents cannot pass salvation down to their heirs.  That is why it is said, “God doesn’t have any grandchildren”.  Parents can dedicate their children to the Lord after the model of Hannah with Samuel.  But God only knows whether they will respond to the cross and be saved.
Many adult Christians have been blessed by making their own declaration of faith in Christ during a second baptism, although we have no direct biblical mandate that would require a person to be baptized into Christ more than once in their lifetime.  Nevertheless, we do find a clear account of salvation prior to water baptism in the salvation of Cornelius.  After responding to Peter’s preaching, Cornelius and the people gathered at his house were then baptized after the fact.
“Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?”  Acts 10:47 - [end excerpt from Foundations of the Faith]

My Personal Experience

I was baptized in water as an adult, thinking that I was joining the body of Christ. At the time of this first baptism, I had know idea who Jesus was, or that I was a sinner. One day, while I was driving on a road trip and listening to someone's personal testimony, I believed upon Jesus Christ for salvation. Immediately I was changed, filled with the Holy Spirit - and I knew that my sins were forgiven. About a year later I was baptized in water in obedience to Christ and as a public confession of my faith. NEITHER of these baptisms saved me nor accomplished any further forgiveness of my sins beyond the forgiveness had I received when I believed on the finished work of Jesus Christ.

 

The Theological Problem with Infant Baptism

 

Even Anglicans acknowledge that infant baptism is sign rather than an act of salvation, and yet they honor it as a tradition.

 

Articles of Religion (39 Articles)
As established by the Bishops, the Clergy, and the Laity of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America, in Convention, on the twelfth day of September, in the Year of our Lord, 1801.

XXVII. Of Baptism.
"Baptism is not only a sign of profession, and mark of difference, whereby Christian men are discerned from others that be not christened, but it is also a sign of Regeneration or New-Birth, whereby, as by an instrument, they that receive Baptism rightly are grafted into the Church; the promises of the forgiveness of sin, and of our adoption to be the sons of God by the Holy Ghost, are visibly signed and sealed, Faith is confirmed, and Grace increased by virtue of prayer unto God.

The Baptism of young Children is in any wise to be retained in the Church, as most agreeable with the institution of Christ."

The question remains, where did Christ "institute" the baptism of children in the Bible? Show us the verse!

 

Infant baptism remains the right of each parent. But the problem raised by the practice is, "How is one saved from their sins?" By personal faith, or by ritual? And shouldn't the same discernment of the body and blood by required at baptism as it is at the sacrament of Eucharist? And is there a danger that the infant, once baptized, might neglect the importance of personal faith?

Can the teachings leading to confirmation take the place of the convicting power of the Holy Spirit in revealing the wrath of God from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men? And mightn't this quandary be a contributing cause of the "nominal church?"

Return to Tradition

Most likely because of the "diversity" of doctrine in today's Protestant churches, some ministers are returning to the traditions of the Early Church Fathers, instead of remaining steadfast in the teachings of the Apostles. They are teaching as doctrines the commandments of men. But heretical church leaders abounded even before the New Testament was written. In fact, Jesus, Paul, Peter, John, James, and Jude had to address the errors within the church as they were writing their epistles.

Teach the Word - Not the Gospel of the Fathers

"As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power." Colossians 2:6-10







Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Sons of God and the Daughters of Men

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=905231792956399&set=rpd.100004087591395&type=3&theater


Like many other Christians, I used to skim past Genesis 6:4


"There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown."

But after reading the Book of Enoch and seeing the undeniable evidence of giants, giant-sized buildings, and advanced prediluvian technology, I was forced to reconsider the intermarriage of the angelic beings with humans.  Suddenly, I realized that Genesis 6:4  is one of the most FAITH BUILDING verses in the Bible.

Genesis 6:4 establishes, in the opening chapters of today's canon of Scripture, the PRECEPT of EXTRA-PHYSICAL FERTILIZATION.  Scientists and Bible scholars are beginning to realize the presence (and possible interaction with) hyper-dimensional beings.  This is precisely the interaction depicted in the account of the "sons of God."

Furthermore,  the acceptance of, and belief in, extra-physical fertilization is a prerequisite for faith in the VIRGIN BIRTH of Jesus Christ - THE Son of God.  But instead of being conceived by inferior angels, Jesus was the Son of the Most High, conceived by the Holy Spirit.

The sons of God are an ANTITYPE of Christ.  The Book of Jude, which quotes from the Book of Enoch, states; "And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day."

But Jesus left His domain in heaven in obedience to the WILL OF THE FATHER. "For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me." - John 17:8

Likewise, because He was sent by the Father, Jesus returned to His proper abode at the right hand of the Father in heaven.  "I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father." - John 16:28

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." - John 3:16,17

SHARE with anyone fascinated with giants, nephilim, pre-flood civilizations, inter-dimensional communication, etc.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

How Many Christians Believe in Pre-Trib?




The Pew Foundation reported in 2010 that there were roughly 2.2 billion Christians worldwide.  In 2016, Wikipedia calculates there are approximately 2.6 billion Christians - not counting the growing Chinese and Middle-Eastern churches, making 3 or 3 1/2 billion professing Christians a more realistic number.  There are roughly 650 million Christians who belong to Christian denominations teaching that the rapture will occur before the time of great tribulation.  These denominations are made up of primarily of cessational Baptists, charismatic Assemblies of God, and a number of smaller Jesus Movement churches.  Using the most conservative figure of 2 1/2 billion Christians worldwide, as many as 1/4 of today's Christians believe in a pre-tribulation rapture - or about 25%.

Does the Bible promise a Great Escape from the Great Tribulation? The majority of today's Christians; Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and Reformed, expect the rapture at Christ's Second Coming. And 99% of the Christians who have lived over the past 2,000 years have believed in a post-tribulation rapture. Discover what the Bible clearly states in the original language. Learn how the Restoration Movement of the 19th century influenced the theology of the British Isles. See the Thessalonian prophecies through the eyes of St. Paul to uncover the mystery behind his eschatology. Find the key to Paul's end-time timeline based on the last enemy of Christ found in the fifteenth chapter of 1st Corinthians. Examine the verses and arguments used by pre-tribulation proponents in this no-stone-left-un-turned exposé. Includes four charts, Greek language study, and 20 illustrations.

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Listen to Trunews book interview: https://youtu.be/2QNQXyPLiJI

Friday, May 20, 2016

1st Thessalonians Four contradictions the Pre-Trib theory.




One of the first rules of Bible interpretations is "The Obvious Meaning is the Obvious Meaning".  That's why someone reading the Bible on their own can easily see that adultery, homosexuality, and other sexual perversions are all sins.  People have to be taught to see something else.
Since my childhood - when I have read 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, I have always assumed that both Epistles were talking about the same Day of the Lord, and the same Gathering.  And almost all Christians (up until the nineteenth century) have thought the same thing.  That's the obvious meaning when people read the Bible on their own.
Paul was a strong believer in order and orderliness.  So his end-times verses contain a number of conditional, "This" can't happen until "that," statements.
·         In 1st Thessalonians Four, Paul says the Lord's Coming can't happen until the resurrection of dead.
·         In 2nd Thessalonians Two, the Lord's Coming can't happen until the appearing of the Man of Sin and the Apostasy.
Anyone studying end-times prophecy is familiar with these conditional statements.
Now let's look at another conditional statement in 1st Corinthians Fifteen.  Here, Paul starts off with the resurrection of Jesus.  But then he transitions to the time of the end - and begins to discuss the general resurrection of the dead.  This is also the section of Scripture where Paul says "we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed" - obviously referring to the rapture.
Paul's conditional statement here in 1st Corinthians is actually a quote from Psalms 110.  Speaking of Jesus, Paul says "He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet."  And then Paul adds, "The last enemy that will be destroyed is death."  Jesus had personally already overcome death.  Paul associates the death which is this last enemy - with the general resurrection of the dead.
Peter also made a conditional statement concerning Jesus' return in Act Three Verse 21, where he says that "Jesus must remain in heaven until the time of restoration of all things."


Now let's go back to Thessalonians.  Watch what happens.
In 1st Thessalonians Four, since Jesus must sit at the Father's right hand until His last enemy - death - is subdued, He can't descend from heaven until the dead are raised.  Christ's coming or descending cannot precede the resurrection of "those who have fallen asleep."
In 2nd Thessalonians Two, Paul mentions two more enemies and these are straight out of Daniel Chapter 12.  Because neither one of these are the last enemy, these two problems must be resolved even before the resurrection of the dead.  You could say that these are the next-to-the-last enemies." So "that Day" and the Gathering cannot happen until the Man of Sin is revealed and the Falling away come first.
Paul had evidentially already explained this order of Christ's enemies during a previous visit.  Probably much the same as he had written about it to the Corinthians.  Paul expected that just reminding them of the conversation would put an end to the rumors that "that Day" had already come.
But the real death blow to the Pre-tribulation rapture theory is right there in 1st Thessalonians Chapter Four.  Jesus must remain in heaven until the time of restoration of ALL things.  Jesus is either seated in heaven, or He's descending from heaven.  First Thessalonians Four says He's "descending from heaven."  Jesus' coming and descending from heaven is a technical indicator - signaling that all of Jesus' enemies have been made His footstool. Paul would never write about Jesus coming and descending from heaven unless he was referring to the actual Second Coming of Christ.  And Jesus must remain in heaven until the restoration of all things, not until the beginning of the tribulation.
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It's not necessary to measure how far Jesus' feet came to touching the ground before He is met be the saints.  The fact that, in 1st Thessalonians Four, Jesus no longer remains seated in heaven is all we need to know.  The dead are raised and the restoration of all things has come. Jesus' descending accompanied by great fanfare and the resurrection of the death all point to a rapture during the Second Coming of Christ.  This is the obvious meaning.

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Sunday, May 15, 2016

Why Most Christians Believe in a Post Tribulation Rapture - Interview



Listen and share with your friends and ministers. Trunews interview with Christian author C.W. Steinle and new book, "Why Most Christians Believe in a Post-Tribulation Rapture." Steinle reveals the statistical minority of pre-trib, and why the pre-trib theory opposes the obvious meaning of the Scriptures. Learn why St. Paul would never suggest that Jesus would leave the Father's right hand and descend before all of His enemies had been made His footstool. This interview should bring an official end to the pre-tribulation rapture theory.


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Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Imminent Second Coming Defeated by Pre-Tribbers' Own Assumptions

Zionism and the Pre-Trib Rapture

Excerpt from "Why Most Christians Believe in a Post-Tribulation Rapture"
[Although pre-tribulation proponents find fault with post-tribbers because they insist that the tribulation must occur before Christ's return, the Jewish presence (or control) of Jerusalem was also a logical prerequisite within the pre-tribulation rapture doctrine. 

These pre-trib doctrinal assumptions being:

1.      The end-time events contained in Revelation occur after the rapture, and,

2.      The end-time events described in Revelation occur within a seven-year time span, and,

3.      The Antichrist will enter the Temple 3 1/2 years after the rapture.

Ø      Therefore, the Jews must have either taken control of the Temple Mount or be so close to gaining control of Jerusalem that the rapture might commence at any moment.

According to this typical pre-tribulation interpretation of Revelation, the rapture was not imminent between the years 70 AD and 1800 AD.  The rapture could not have happened during that time because the Jews did not control the land of Israel.  Thus, a Temple could not have been built during that time.  Furthermore, the procurement of the Temple real estate, planning, and construction of the Temple, are still unlikely to be accomplished within a 3 1/2 year period - making an imminent rapture unrealistic until such time as the Temple project is nearly or actually under construction.

But finally, in the early 1800's, at the hope of the formation of a Jewish nation, some Christians began to expect an imminent return of the Lord prior to the time of  tribulation.  This may sound strange, but up until that point in time, the Church strongly rejected the idea that Jesus would return before the tribulation.  Consider the following quote from John Calvin's Commentary of the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians.

"On the other hand, those false prophets whom Paul expenses, while they ought to have kept men's minds in suspense, bid them feel assured of his speedy advent, that they might not be wearied out with the irksomeness of delay. "Let no man deceive you." That they may not groundlessly promise themselves the arrival in so short a time of the joyful day of redemption, he presents to them a melancholy prediction as to the future scattering of the Church. This discourse entirely corresponds with that which Christ held in the presence of his disciples, when they had asked him respecting the end of the world. For he exhorts them to prepare themselves for enduring hard conflicts, (Matt. 24:6) and after he has discoursed of the most grievous and previously unheard of calamities, by which the earth was to be reduced almost to a desert, he adds, that the "end is not yet", but that "these things are the beginnings of sorrows". In the same way, Paul declares that believers must exercise warfare for a long period, before gaining a triumph."

Few references occur in the writings of the Church Fathers to a pre-tribulation rapture.  In fact, the idea was always quickly dropped.  And a pre-tribulation rapture never became a source of debate among church leaders, never surfaced in any of the great councils, nor did it make its way into any creed or statement of faith - prior to the late 20th century.  The reason why these infrequent references to a pre-trib rapture were often quickly contradicted by the Fathers themselves is that the imminence of the tribulation was recognized as an essential element of the Second Coming. 

The birth pangs of the tribulation that the world is beginning to witness will quickly accelerate from occasional groanings into full-fledged contractions.  These trials should drive more and more people to research the Bible's end-time prophecies.  The last few decades have spawned increasing numbers of end-time prophecy websites, books, and movies.  Indeed, the internet has changed, forever, the common person’s access to knowledge.

In previous generations, people were trapped in a fairly small learning environment, and primarily within their own generation, unless they had access to an extensive library.  The situation is different today.  As people do their research on the internet, they are finding out what people believed 100 years ago, in just a few seconds.  They’re finding out what people believed 1,000 years ago.  And they are able to compare and digest this information in an attempt to make sense of it all.  In fact, the reader would be wise to research the information presented in this book as well.

"Any story sounds true until someone tells the other side and sets the record straight." - Proverbs 18:17 (TLB) ] - end excerpt.
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Monday, May 9, 2016

The Church of Philadelphia - Left Behind to Persevere

What About Rev. 3:10? (Church of Philadelphia)

Excerpt from "Why Most Christians Believe in a Post-Tribulation Rapture" by C.W. Steinle

[Revelation 3:7-13 is Jesus’ letter to the Church at Philadelphia.  The pre-trib teachers claim that God is promising, in these verses, to take the Church out of the world just before the Great Tribulation.  The verse of particular interest is Verse Ten.

“Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”-Revelation 3:10

The argument made by modern Futurists is that“kept from” actually means “taken out of.”  The underlying assumption made by pre-tribbers is that the Philadelphians, or a similar type of church, will be "taken out" of the world before the “hour of trial.”  The best way to test this theory is to examine the original Greek words; and then to ask the question, "Has St. John ever used these same Greek words meaning, "to take" and "to keep," in his other writings?"

Ares (should take).  This is the root word "to take" or "to lift."  (If reading the digital version click on the words to go directly to Strong’s for examples of usage).

Tereso (will keep).  This is the future tense of “to keep.” Tereso is the word John has used in the verse above.  In fact, he has used it twice in this one verse.  This word implies, the maintenance of, safety, or care.  The changes in prefixes and suffixes below only indicate tense and usage in the Greek.  Now look again at Revelation 3:10.

“Because you have kept (eteresa) My command to persevere, I also will keep (tereso) you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”
You see that John is using the same root word in both instances.  The epsilon prefix on the first mention of "kept" merely puts it in the past tense, indicating that the Philadelphia Church had already kept His command to persevere.  What kind of Bible scholar would interpret the same word to mean two different things when it is used within the same verse?  Should the verse be interpreted, “Because you have "taken out" My command?”  Of course not!  Keep means "keep," and it does not mean "taken out."

Understanding what the text says (and does not say) should be enough to put this argument to rest.  But now let’s look at how John has used these words, "kept" and "taken," in his gospel.  In the seventeenth chapter of John, we find Jesus’ prayer to the Father.  Here John used this word for safekeeping - profoundly contrasting the idea of being "lifted out of trouble" with the promise of being "kept safe through trials."
“I do not pray that You should take (ares) them out of the world, but that You should keep (terese) them from the evil one.”- John 17:15 (Emphasis added).  John could have used these same two words with their two different meanings in Revelation 3:10, IF, he had desired to contradict Jesus' prayer for His Church, stated here in John 17.  But John did not mean to contradict Jesus.

Apples-to-Apples

Now in the same way, Jesus speaks to the Church of Philadelphia.  He promises to keep (persevere) them in the midst of their trial, just as they had kept His command to persevere.  Jesus is merely reciprocating their obedience "to keep" His command to persevere, with the promise of keeping the Philadelphia Church  in return.  He is not submitting the dissimilar promise of "taking them out" of harm’s way.  This is a simple apples-to-apples reward for the Philadelphians' own perseverance.

And again, in John Chapter 17, “keeping” the Apostles from the evil one did not mean "taking them out" of the world, but keeping them from being overcome by the evil one - that they would be kept safe from the evil one - even though they would still remain in the world to accomplish Christ's purpose. (The purpose for which he was sending them into the world in the first place.)  Christ was sent into the world, and was not taken out of the world until He had accomplished his death and resurrection.  Why would God remove His Church from the world (into which it was likewise sent) until such time as it had also accomplished its purpose?  Didn't Jesus clearly state that His followers (servants) would not be treated better than their Master?

Does the Philadelphian Church Typify the Last Days?

If further proof of Revelation 3:10’s failure to support the pre-tribulation theory is needed, we only have to consider the order in which these “types” of churches appear in Revelation; and how they are expected to emerge over history (by those who choose to extrapolate the seven church-types into the future).  The Laodicean Church is the type expected to exist at the end of the age, not the Philadelphian type.  If the Philadelphians were intended to be the recipients of “take out,” they should at least be home when the doorbell rings.

Why didn’t Jesus give the Laodicean Church an opportunity to escape the hour of trial, if they were the type of church that would exist in the last days?  So, once again, trying to force Revelation 3:10 to point to a pre-tribulation rapture is a miserable failure on all accounts.] - end excerpt.
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Sunday, May 8, 2016

Guess Who's Coming with Jesus

"Who Is Returning from Heaven with Jesus?"

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 Excerpt from "Why Most Christians Believe in a Post-Tribulation Rapture"


The Pre-tribulation Rapture doctrine teaches that "the Church" must already be in heaven (by way of the pre-trib rapture) prior to the Second Coming, so that they can return to the earth with Jesus.  The Book of Jude is usually quoted because many English translations say that the Lord will come with His saints.

“Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints (hagiais myriasin), to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”” - Jude 14,15

The word translated above for “saints” is the Greek word, hagias, which can be translated either as “holy ones,” or "saints."  But "holy ones" can also refer to the holy angels.  So how can we know whether the Church, or an army of angels, will accompany Jesus to earth?

Matthew 25:31 gives us clarification about the holy ones who are coming with Jesus. Christ Himself stated that these "holy ones" are holy angels.

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels (hagiais oi aggelloi) with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.”

Verse 32 also places this Second Coming ahead of the same time of judgment described in Jude 15.
“All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.” - Matthew 25:32

So Matthew’s description of Christ’s return identifies these "holy ones" as the holy angels.  The holy angels will be returning with Jesus - not holy people.

But even if some people should be included with the army of angels that are coming with Jesus, these could be any of the millions of Christians who have died over the ages before Christ’s return; because, “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.”  

The Church has had nearly 2000 years to add souls to the spiritual realm.  Based on a 70 year generation, 97% of all the "saints" who have lived up until now are already residing in heaven with Jesus.    Therefore, there is no requirement that any of the people, who might possibly be coming with Jesus and the angels, should have ever experienced the rapture.  The rapture is simply not necessary to get more Christians into heaven in advance of His second coming.

Paul's Epistles to the Thessalonians contain the verses most often quoted as the basis for the theory of a pre-tribulation rapture.   Amazingly though, the Thessalonians letters not only place the 1st Thessalonians Four rapture at Christ's second coming; but 2nd Thessalonians prepares the Church for persecutions and tribulations, and goes on to state expressly that "mighty angels", rather than saints, will be accompanying Christ back to earth.

“We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels (angelon dynameos), in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.  These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed.” - 2nd Thessalonians 1:3-10 - end excerpt.
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Friday, April 29, 2016

Baptist Press reports Pre-Trib Rapture unraveling among American Christians

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End times, rapture & Antichrist focus of new study

by Bob Smietana, posted Tuesday, April 26, 2016 (2 days ago)

NASHVILLE (BP) -- Most Protestant pastors believe Jesus will return in the future. But few agree about the details of the apocalypse, a new study shows.

A third of America's Protestant pastors expect Christians to be raptured -- or taken up in the sky to meet Jesus -- as the end times begin. About half think a false messiah known as the Antichrist will appear sometime in the future. A surprising number think the Antichrist has already been here or isn't on his way at all.

Those are among the findings of a new telephone survey of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors and their views on end-times theology from Nashville-based LifeWay Research, sponsored by Charisma House Book Group.

End-times theology remains popular with churchgoers, says Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research. But it's not an easy topic to preach about.

"Most people want their pastor to preach about the Book of Revelation and the end of the world," he said. "But that's a complicated task. Pastors and the scholars they cite often disagree about how the end times will unfold."

No consensus about the rapture

Researchers found widely varying views about three aspects of end-times theology:

-- The timing of the rapture (see 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 and Matthew 24)

-- The nature of the Antichrist (found in 1 John and 2 John and other texts)

-- The millennial kingdom, when Jesus reigns for 1,000 years (Revelation 20:1-10)

Graphic by LifeWayResearch.com
About a third (36 percent) of Protestant senior pastors believe in the kind of pre-tribulation rapture familiar to pop culture. In that scenario, Christians disappear at the start of the apocalypse. Those left behind suffer great trouble or tribulation.

One in 4 pastors say the rapture is not literal. Nearly 1 in 5 thinks the rapture happens after the tribulation (18 percent). A few believe the rapture already happened (1 percent) or that it will occur during the tribulation (4 percent) or before the wrath of God is poured out on the earth (4 percent). Others don't agree with any of these views (8 percent) or aren't sure what will happen (4 percent).

Mainline Protestant pastors (36 percent) are more likely to say the rapture isn't literal. Pastors who hold this view include about half of Lutherans (60 percent), Methodists (48 percent) and Presbyterian/Reformed pastors (49 percent). Few Baptist (6 percent) or Pentecostal pastors (less than 1 percent) hold that view.

Evangelicals overall (43 percent) are more likely to believe in a pre-tribulation rapture.

Education and age also play a role in how pastors view the rapture. Pastors with a master's degree (33 percent) or a doctorate (29 percent) are more likely to say the rapture isn't literal than those with no degree (6 percent) or a bachelor's (16 percent).

Sixty percent of pastors with no college degree believe in a pre-tribulation rapture. By contrast, 26 percent of pastors with a master's hold that view.

Pastors under 45 are least likely to believe in a pre-tribulation rapture (28 percent), compared to their older cohorts. They're also most likely (23 percent) to believe in a post-tribulation rapture.

Most expect the Antichrist, disagree on timing

LifeWay Research also found diverse views about the Antichrist.

About half (49 percent) say the Antichrist is a figure who will arise in the future. Others say there is no individual Antichrist (12 percent); that, he is a personification of evil (14 percent) or an institution (7 percent). Six percent say the Antichrist has already been here.

Baptists (75 percent) and Pentecostals (83 percent) are most likely to see a future Antichrist. Lutherans (29 percent), Methodists (28 percent) and Presbyterian/Reformed pastors (31 percent) are more likely to see the Antichrist as a personification of evil.

Education also played a role in how pastors see the Antichrist. Two-thirds of those with no college degree (68 percent) or a bachelor's (63 percent) believe in a future Antichrist figure. Fewer than half of those with a master's (39 percent) or a doctorate (49 percent) hold that view.

Premillennialism is commonplace

Pastors also disagree about the details of the millennial kingdom. About half (48 percent) believe in premillennialism, the view that the 1,000-year reign of Christ happens in the future. A third (31 percent) believe in amillennialism, the view that there's no 1,000-year reign -- instead Jesus already rules the hearts and minds of Christians.

One in 10 (11 percent) believe in postmillennialism -- the idea that the world will gradually become more Christian until Jesus returns.

Most pastors were split by denomination:

-- Baptists (75 percent) and Pentecostals (84 percent) are most likely to choose premillennialism.

-- Lutherans (71 percent) were most likely to choose amillennialism, followed by Presbyterian/Reformed pastors (52 percent) and Methodists (37 percent).

-- Methodists (27 percent) were more likely than other denominations to choose postmillennialism.

Education also played a role. Premillennialism is popular with those with no college (71 percent) or a bachelor's degree (63 percent).

Amillennialism is favored by those with a master's degree (41 percent). Billy Hallowell, author of the upcoming book "The Armageddon Code: One Journalist's Quest for End-Times Answers," said the research quantifies the prevalence of different end-times theories.

"I'm hoping the data opens a discussion about preachers' eschatological beliefs, why they hold those ideas, and how congregants and faith leaders can better understand the biblical texts," he said.

McConnell said it's not a bad thing that pastors disagree on the details of the apocalypse. Most agree on the main teachings about the second coming. The rest of the details, he noted, don't affect the day-to-day life of most Christians.

"The big picture of Revelation is clear -- Jesus returns, people must be ready, evil is defeated," he said. "With the rest of the details, there is room for disagreement."

Methodology: The phone survey of Protestant pastors was conducted Jan. 8-22, 2016. These questions were sponsored by Charisma House Book Group. The calling list was a random sample stratified by church size drawn from a list of all Protestant churches. Each interview was conducted with the senior pastor, minister or priest of the church called. Responses were weighted by region to more accurately reflect the population. The completed sample is 1,000 surveys. The sample provides 95 percent confidence that the sampling error does not exceed plus or minus 3.1 percent. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups. The full survey report is available at LifeWayResearch.com.

LifeWay Research is a Nashville-based, evangelical research firm that specializes in surveys about faith in culture and matters that affect the church.