Monthly Archives: February 2014

Questions about the End Times: What Are the Strengths and Weaknesses of the Midtribulational View of the Rapture (Midtribulationism)?

 

Eschatologically speaking, it is important to remember that almost all Christians agree on three things: 1) there will be a future time of Tribulation such as the world has never seen, 2) the Ssecond Coming Jesus Christ, and 3) a translation from mortality to immortality for believers, commonly known as the Rapture (John 14:1–3; 1 Corinthians 15:51–52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17). The question is when does the Rapture occur in relation to the Tribulation and the Second Coming? The three main theories concerning the timing of the rapture are pretribulationism (the belief that the Rapture will occur before the Tribulation begins), midtribulationism (the belief that the Rapture will occur at the midpoint of the Tribulation), and posttribulationism (the belief that the Rapture will occur at the end of the Tribulation). This article deals specifically with the midtribulational view.

Midtribulationism teaches that the Rapture occurs at the midpoint of the Tribulation. At that time, the seventh trumpet sounds (Revelation 11:15), the church will meet Christ in the air, and then the bowl judgments are poured upon the earth (Revelation 15–16) in a time known as the Great Tribulation. In other words, the Rapture and Christ’s Second Coming (to set up His kingdom) are separated by a period of three-and-a-half years. According to this view, the church goes through the first half of the Tribulation but is spared the worst of the Tribulation which occurs in the last three-and-a-half years. Very close to midtribulationism is the belief in a “pre-wrath” rapture, i.e., a belief that the church is caught up to heaven before the “great day of … wrath” comes (Revelation 6:17).

In support of their view, midtribulationists point to the chronology given in 2 Thessalonians 2:1–3. The order of events is as follows: 1) apostasy, 2) the revelation of the Antichrist, and 3) the Day of Christ. The midtribulational view teaches that the Antichrist will not be decisively revealed until “the abomination which makes desolate” (Matthew 24:15), which occurs at the midpoint of the Tribulation (Daniel 9:27). Also, midtribulationists interpret “the Day of Christ” as the Rapture; therefore, the church will not be caught up to heaven until after the Antichrist is revealed.

Another foundational teaching of midtribulationism is that the trumpet of 1 Corinthians 15:52 is the same trumpet mentioned in Revelation 11:15. The trumpet of Revelation 11 is the final in a series of trumpets; therefore, it makes sense that it would be “the last trumpet” of 1 Corinthians 15. This logic fails, however, in view of the trumpets’ objectives. The trumpet that sounds at the Rapture is “the trumpet call of God” (1 Thessalonians 4:16), but the one in Revelation 11 is a harbinger of judgment. One trumpet is a call of grace to God’s elect; the other is a pronouncement of doom on the wicked. Further, the seventh trumpet in Revelation is not the “last” trumpet chronologically—Matthew 24:31 speaks of a later trumpet which sounds at the commencement of Christ’s kingdom.

First Thessalonians 5:9 says that the church has not been appointed “to suffer wrath but to receive salvation.” This would seem to indicate that believers will not experience the Tribulation. However, midtribulationism interprets “wrath” as only referring to the second half of the Tribulation—specifically, the bowl judgments. Limiting the word in such a way seems unwarranted, however. Surely the terrible judgments contained in the seals and trumpets—including famine, poisoned rivers, a darkened moon, bloodshed, earthquakes, and torment—could also be considered the wrath of God.

Midtribulationism places the Rapture in Revelation 11, prior to the start of “the great tribulation.” There are two problems with this placement in the chronology of Revelation. First, the only occurrence of the term “great tribulation” in the entire book of Revelation is in 7:14. Second, the only reference to a “great day of wrath” is in Revelation 6:17. Both of these references come too early for a midtribulational Rapture.

And a final weakness of the midtribulational view is shared by the other two theories: namely, the Bible does not give an explicit time line concerning future events. Scripture does not expressly teach one view over another, and that is why we have diversity of opinion concerning the end times and some variety on how the related prophecies should be harmonized.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Apologetics and Worldview: What Is the Definition of Evil?

 

A dictionary definition of evil is “morally reprehensible, sinful, wicked.” The definition of evil in the Bible falls into two categories: evil against one another (murder, theft, adultery) and evil against God (unbelief, idolatry, blasphemy). From the prohibition against eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:9), to the destruction of Babylon the Great, the embodiment of evil to come (Revelation 18:2), the Bible speaks of evil.

For many centuries Christians have struggled with both the existence and the nature of evil. Most people would acknowledge that evil is real and has always had devastating effects on our world. From the sexual abuse of children to the horrific terrorist attacks on 9/11, evil continues to rear its ugly head in our own time. Many people are left wondering what exactly is evil and why does it exist.

The existence of evil has been used as a weapon by opponents of theism-and Christian theism in particular-for some time. The so called “problem of evil” has been the subject of various arguments by atheists in an attempt to demonstrate that a God who is good simply cannot exist. By implying that God must be the creator of evil, God’s holy character has been called into question. There have been many arguments used to indict God as the cause of evil. Here is one of them:

1) God is the creator of everything that exists.
2) Evil exists.
3) Therefore, God is the creator of evil.

The logic of this syllogism is sound. The conclusion follows logically from the premises. But does this syllogism demonstrate that God is the creator of evil? The problem with this argument is its second premise, that evil is something. For evil is not a thing; it is a lack or privation of a good thing that God made. As Christian philosopher J.P. Moreland has noted, “Evil is a lack of goodness. It is goodness spoiled. You can have good without evil, but you cannot have evil without good.”

Goodness has existed as an attribute of God from all eternity. While God is perfectly holy and just, He is also perfectly good. Just as God has always existed, so too has goodness as it is a facet of God’s holy character. The same cannot be said for evil. Evil came into being with the rebellion of Satan and subsequently entered the physical universe with the fall of Adam. As Christian apologist Greg Koukl has said, “Human freedom was used in such a way as to diminish goodness in the world, and that diminution, that lack of goodness, that is what we call evil.” When God created Adam, He created him good, and He also created him free.

However, in creating Adam free, God indirectly created the possibility of evil, while not creating evil itself. When Adam chose to disobey God, he made this possibility a reality. The same scenario had previously played out when Satan fell by failing to serve and obey God. So it turns out that evil is not a direct creation of God; rather, evil is the result of persons (both angelic and human) exercising their freedom wrongly.

While evil is certainly real, it is important to recognize that evil does not have existence in and of itself. Rather, it only exists as a privation (or a parasite) on the good. It exists in the same way that a wound exists on an arm or as rust exists on a car. The rust cannot exist on its own any more than cold can exist without the existence of heat or darkness can exist without the existence of light.

Despite the horrible effects of evil on our world, the Christian believer can take comfort in the words of the Lord Jesus Christ recorded for us in the Gospel of John, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). More importantly, we look forward with great anticipation to our home in heaven where the ultimate evil, death, will finally be destroyed along with the “mourning, crying and pain” which it inevitably produces (Revelation 21:4).[1]


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

NoCo Radio: Genuine Assurance

What are the biblical grounds of assurance? Let me offer you 4 answers.

 

Answer #1: Looking to Christ

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This is what Spurgeon emphasized, that we are to look to Christ. Scripture is clear on this. Jesus Himself said, “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life . . .”(John 6:37). The apostle Paul made it very clear to the Philippian jailer:

Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”(Acts 16:30-31)

Romans 10:9 assures us that “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

All these verses affirm that if a person looks to the Lord Jesus Christ alone with the eyes of faith, then he has eternal life and is saved.

 Answer #2: Understanding that Regeneration Precedes Faith

God is the one who causes us to be born again, not our faith. That is why Peter wrote, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again . . .”(1 Peter 1:3).

Since we are dead, He must give life first before we can believe.

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The apostle John also wrote,

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God . . . (1 John5:1)

Notice in this verse that the one who believes that Jesus is the Christ is because he has already been born of God (for more on this, listen to the No Compromise Radio episode, “”Myth-Busters: Faith Precedes Regeneration“).”).

 Answer #3The Work of Each Member of the Trinity in Salvation

In his run-on sentence that begins his epistle to the church in Ephesus, the Apostle Paul is very clear about this point:

God the Father elects (Eph 1:3–5)

God the Son redeems (Eph 1:6–9)

God the Holy Spirit seals (Eph 1:13–14)

 Answer #4Fruit/Evidence/Change in Life

The Apostle John states clearly the purpose for which he wrote his first epistle:

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13)

Throughout his epistle he gives clear evidences of salvation:

 1) Obedience

And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (1 John 2:4–5)

 2) Love for the Brethren

Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him[a] there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (1 John 2:9–11)

By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:10)

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. (1 John 3:14–15)

 3) Righteous Living

If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. (1 John 2:29)

By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:10)

This does not mean the perfection of our life, but the direction of our life. After all, in the beginning  John wrote that true believers readily confess and acknowledge their sin, while those who do not prove that they are not saved.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1 John 1:8–10)

“The apostle is clearly not making sinless perfection a test of salvation. Nor is he making an issue about the frequency, duration, or magnitude of one’s sins. As we noted in chapter 8, all Christians sin, and true believers are capable even of prolonged and heinous sin. The issue John is raising here has to do with our attitude toward sin and righteousness, our heart’s response when we do sin, and the overall direction of our walk. The test is this: What is the object of your affections — sin or righteousness? If your chief love is sin, then you are “of the devil” (3:8, 10). If you love righteousness and practice righteousness, you are born of God (2:29). What is the direction of your affection? (John MacArthur, The Gospel According to the Apostles, [Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2000], 150.)

By Hariton Deligiannides, head of the elder board of Bethlehem Bible Church

Source

12 Signs That Russia Is Ready To Fight A War Over Crimea

Russia will never, ever give up Crimea without a fight. Anyone that thinks otherwise is just being delusional. The Russian Black Sea fleet’s main base at Sevastopol is far too strategically important. In addition, ethnic Russians make up approximately 60 percent of the population of Crimea, and most of the population is rabidly pro-Russian. In fact, many prominent Crimean politicians are already calling for reunification with Russia. So if you have been thinking that Russia is just going to fold up shop and go home now that pro-European protesters have violently seized power in Kiev, you can quit holding your breath. The truth is that Russia is more than willing to fight a war over Crimea. And considering the fact that vitally important pipelines that pump natural gas from Russia to the rest of Europe go right through Ukraine, it is not likely that Russia will just willingly hand the rest of Ukraine over to the U.S. and the EU either. If the U.S. and the EU push too hard in Ukraine, a major regional war may erupt which could ultimately lead to something much larger.

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Why Are Christians the World’s Most Persecuted Group?

The answers may surprise you…..

Christianity is a proselytizing faith that seeks to win over converts. No other major religion—including Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism—except Islam itself has this missionary aspect (these faiths tend to be coterminous with their respective ethnicities: Buddhists, Asians; Judaism, Jews; Hinduism, Hindus). Thus because Christianity is the only religion that is actively confronting Muslims with the truths of its own message, not only is it the primary religion to be accused of proselytizing but, by publicly uttering teachings that contradict Muhammad’s, Christians are accused of blaspheming as well.

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I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from him who was before you, but I will confirm him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever.

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

13 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. I will not take my steadfast love from him, as I took it from him who was before you, 14 but I will confirm him in my house and in my kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever.'” (1 Chronicles 17:13-14 ESV)

God is Sovereign. He is at no one’s beck and call. He is not subject to anyone. Men may indeed insist that God must follow their ideas of who He is and what He will or won’t do, but these things come from flawed Human reason. Men are arrogant creatures who have been trying to usurp God’s place on His throne since the fall in Genesis 3. Most people do not correctly understand God’s revelation of Himself that we find in the Sacred Scripture, therefore, their doctrines are…

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Questions about Eternity: If Reincarnation Is Not True, Why Do Some People Remember Their past Lives?

 

While the Bible never addresses reincarnation specifically, it is clear that the biblical model of life, death, and afterlife is incompatible with any form of reincarnation as posited in religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, and certain New Age or Neo-Pagan belief systems. In Hebrews 9:27–28, we are told that “just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” This passage alone appears to eliminate the possibility of reincarnation.

Along the same lines, in Luke 23:43 Jesus tells the thief on the cross that he will be with Christ in paradise that very day, which assumes that the man will not be reincarnated back into earthly life. Similarly, passages such as James 4:14, which discuss the temporal nature of human life are inconsistent with a reincarnationist idea of living earthly lives over and over for centuries, millennia, or all eternity. On top of all this, if human souls were reincarnated over and over, then how could some people in the Bible see the spirits of long dead people, like Moses being seen by the apostles in Matthew 17:3 during the transfiguration of Christ?

But what are we to do with those who claim they have memories of their past lives? The first and perhaps most important question we should ask is whether or not these “memories” are genuine. Human memory is notoriously unreliable (just ask any lawyer or detective), and people frequently misremember things, believing they remember things that never actually happened or not remembering things that did happen. In the case of those claiming to remember their past lives, one can easily imagine them misremembering images from TV shows or movies, mental fantasies from books they read years earlier, or mistaking dreams for genuine memories. How can we know with any certainty that their past-life memories are not one of these things? Is it really more logical to assume that their memories are genuinely from past lives rather than one of these other things? While some modern “past-life experts” claim to find evidence for reincarnation by connecting things like phobias and physical ailments in currently living people with traumatic events in past lives, the past-life “experts” are assuming the existence of a past-life (or past-lives) in explaining current health problems, not showing that those past lives actually happened.

The fact of the matter is that there is simply no solid, scientifically acceptable evidence that the memories of past lives claimed by some people are genuine, rather than misremembered events or simply make-believe. Ultimately, the question comes down to whether we will find Truth in the unreliable minds and memories of fallen and fallible human beings or from the timeless, holy Word of God. Christians can confidently assert that reincarnation is not a possibility for the human soul; when this life ends, our eternity in the afterlife begins.[1]


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.