Angels or Saints? Part 4

A continuation of Angels and Saints Part 3

James says:
It is becoming tough to dialogue with you, and here is why:

Every time I refute what you state, instead of dealing with the refutation, you simply ignore the refutation and restate your position. As long as you continue this strategy no one will want to give you the time of day.

I have to ask myself, is it fruitful to dialogue with someone who has repeatedly disregarded the Greek lexicon or who doesn’t care about which part of speech is attributed to a particular word?

Is it sound to dialogue with someone that has a disdain for logic (i.e. “All of the word play in the world”)? You use straw men all over the place and leave me to have to remind you what my actual argument is as opposed to what you think it is.

I have not equated “falling into temptation” with being “blameable” this is something that you have concocted to deflect from the main point: the bible clearly teaches that the moment we believe unto salvation we are considered blameless. Case closed. Why don’t you argue with the verses I provided earlier. Nope, why should you? Just disregard those verses the same way you have disregarded all of my responses, choosing to move the goal post.

Since this is hard for you to grasp allow me to emphasize it with caps: DESCRIBING SOMETHING AS HOLY IS DIFFERENT FROM DEFINING SOMETHING AS HOLY. ANGELS ARE NOT DEFINED AS HAGIOS, THEY ARE ONLY DESCRIBED AS SUCH. SAINTS ON THE OTHER HAND ARE DEFINED AS “HAGIOS.” You keep trying to mutilate a dead horse.

I pray that you can meditate on that nugget of truth.

Your disrespectful paraphrase: “God can do anything He wants” misses the entire point I was trying to convey (but it does begin to betray your lack of attention to detail). You have no rules of interpretation. You despise logic. You can’t discern between a necessary inference (WE ARE ALREADY BLAMELESS – Jude 1:1, 1 Corinthians 1:2) and an invalid inference (i.e. Paul believes that we could incur blame at some point). My advice for you is to invest the time in learning the rules for how to reason correctly. This is not an insult but simply good advice. It is irrational to engage someone in dialogue who dismisses logic as “word play”, to do such is to subscribe to the hermeneutic of relativism – that is to say, your rules of interpretation are no better than mine. This is the essence of futility.

I’m going to have to spurn your request to join your facebook eschatology group, for me, talking to more than one person at a time is a good recipe for confusion.

J&J says:
James,

First of all, if you’re not able to grasp the problem with your interpretation of 1 Thess 3:13, there’s no need to discuss it further.

Secondly, “‘HAGIOS’ IS NOT SYNONYMOUS WITH ‘CHURCH SAINTS'”.

Thirdly, Hunt’s interpretation of 2 Thess 2 has holes. The more I read verses 1-3, the more I realize that there is nothing in the text which guarantees that they had already been “shaken in mind”. That is always assumed. That is to say, Paul was equally likely to have been preemptively cautioning them not to be shaken by anyone suggesting a “rapture-first” chronology. Strengthening that point is the fact that Paul gave a few possible ways by which they could be deceived (in spirit, by word, or by letter), which makes it less likely that they had already been deceived by any given modality as of yet. Also, he didn’t say that they had included any fear of theirs in a letter to him…

[John also included 6-7 pages of boiler plate material that was not relevant to this discussion thus it is excluded for brevity sake]
James says:

If I had known that you would not seriously read any of the responses I wouldn’t have wasted my time trying to reason with you. It is easy to copy and paste boiler plate responses without addressing specific charges that have been raised. It is harder to admit that you believe in a view simply for the sake of believing. Anyone reading our dialogue will understand what I’m trying to say here. A mind is a terrible thing to waste. I never expected to encounter a modern day believer who claimed to comprehend eschatology and yet did not even understand the notion of justification nor sanctification. Heed the words of the Psalmist: Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin. Perhaps you are still blameable. Regarding myself, Paul asks, who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth! Who is he that condemneth?
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Angels or Saints? Part 3

A continuation of Angels or Saints Part 2
John says:
James,

There would be absolutely no reason for Paul to pray that we’re “preserved blameless” if there’s no chance that we could incur “blame” at some point. I think this is broaching another topic, but if anything, you’ve bolstered my point. The Lord listed a number of “conditions” in Revelation 2 and 3, stressing the importance of “overcoming” versus being spewed out of His mouth and blotted out of the Book of Life. He said to overcome just as He overcame. In Matthew 24:13, He tells us that he who endures until the end shall be saved. That speaks of enduring belief and repentance (which are not works, mind you, and refute the “altar call” mentality).

Frankly, you’re trying to have your cake and eat it too by suggesting that we are blameless now, but finding no dichotomy in Paul praying that we will be blameless at the coming of the Lord.

The argument that “only” isn’t mentioned in 2 Thess 1:6-10 is a non sequitur. Paul clearly has us here at that time (“rest with us”) and doesn’t give the slightest allusion of us being anywhere else but here until that time. You may as well argue that John 14:6 isn’t a statement of the exclusivity of Christ, because, after all, He didn’t say that He is “the only way, the only truth, and the only life”, but I’m sure you wouldn’t dare make that suggestion.

The truth is that there are several points which you are avoiding. It’s not just a “hagios” issue, but your exegesis of 1 Thess 3:13 is lacking.

I say this with respect for you, as your tone has been pleasant.

In Christ Alone,
John

James says:

John,
I’m afraid that you have committed a logical fallacy called asserting or affirming the consequent. The fallacy has the logical form:

If p then q. (Where p – the antecedent and q – the consequent are both propositions)
q.
Therefore, p.

In this logical fallacy, the antecedent (Paul believes that we could incur blame at some point) is presumed true by affirming the consequent (In 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Paul “prays” that we are preserved blameless).

Your argument follows:
(if p then q) If Paul believes that we could incur blame at some point, then Paul will pray for us to be preserved blameless.
(q – the consequent) In 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Paul “prays” that we are preserved blameless.
Therefore:
(p – the antecedent) Paul believes that we could incur blame at some point.

This argument is clearly fallacious; there are any number of reasons why Paul would pray that we would be preserved blameless. For example, perhaps he is simply echoing a proposition that is already established in scripture as is done in many other prayers that occur in the bible (i.e. Our Father who art in Heaven, etc.). Consequently, Paul’s utterance in 1 Thess 5:23 does not constitute proof that we can incur blame. Besides, there are at least two other reasons why your argument is without merit. Firstly, in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, Paul’s saying is less of a prayer and more of a declaration. In fact, the phrase ” I pray God” (in the KJV) is an interpreter’s addition that is italicized. Admittedly, the sentence even reads like something in a prayer but this does not preclude it from being a declaration as well since the proposition conveyed by the verse occurs in other scriptural passages that are decidedly not prayers (Jude 1:1, 1 Corinthians 1:2). Secondly, Jude affirms Paul’s utterance by asserting that we are already “sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ” in Jude 1:1. Once again, the bible clearly teaches that we are already positionally (in Christ) sanctified, even though we are still physically and spiritually undergoing the sanctification process (Philippians 1:6). The same concept of positional attribution occurs in Ephesians 2:6 where it is said that we are already risen and sitting with Christ in heavenly places.

Moving along to the next point, in logic, a non sequitur is a conclusion that does not follow from the prior premises. My premises were: (1) The word “only” does not occur in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 which talks about Christ coming with angels
(2) The same author, Paul, also talks about Christ coming with saints (and not angels) in 1 Thessalonians 3:13

My conclusion was:
Therefore, it follows by good and necessary consequence that Paul, in 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10 cannot mean that Christ comes with angels exclusively.

So how is this a non sequitur again?

Also, it may interest you to know that “rest with us” in 2 Thessalonians 1: 7 doesn’t mean that Paul “has us here at that time.” “Rest” in the aforementioned verse is a noun (please confer with a Greek lexicon for the part of speech belonging to the Greek term “anesis”), not a verb. Therefore, those who are doing the troubling (in verse 6) will receive tribulation, while those who are being troubled will be given rest (verse 7). Once again, Paul is not giving anyone a directive to stay put or anything of that sort. It appears that you have mistakenly based our location during the “2nd coming” on a noun (that was to you) pretending to be a verb.

Finally, I like how you tried to borrow the construction of a previous argument of mine to use against me. 🙂 The only problem with your quip about John 14:6 is that He DID say “the only way, the only truth and the only life”, not literally, but by propositional equivalence. The proposition in John 14:6 (No one comes to the Father except through me) is identical to the proposition of the literal sentence: “I am the only way, etc.” Therefore, since He did say He is “the only way, the only truth, and the only life”, your argument fails to convey anything meaningful.

As you can see, I have in painstaking detail, dealt with every issue you have raised when I could have easily glanced over them as being incorrect based on prior argumentation and without further explanation. Hopefully you will not accuse me again of avoiding anything in the future. I may not have dealt with something yet but that is quite different from avoiding it.

John says:

James,

It matters very little whether or not the words “I pray God” are inserted. The fact remains that Paul speaks of their spirits, souls, and bodies being “preserved blameless”. In the prior verses, he writes that they abstain from evil. Would this be necessary were they not capable of falling into temptation? Of course not. There is no getting around the Lord’s assertion that “he who endures until the end shall be saved”.

Redirecting back to the verse in question:

1 Thessalonians 3:12-13: “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you: 13 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.”

Now, James, if you don’t see “And the Lord make you to…” as a prayer, then you must be in some sort of denial. And what does Paul pray for? For our hearts to be established “unblameable”. When? “…at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.”

The argument you proposed (“God can do anything He wants”- paraphrasing) brought to mind a schoolyard response. Of course God can do anything He wants, but that’s hardly a solid argument here, as Paul was clear. If we’re a blameless bride in Heaven for seven years, there is no reason for Paul to be praying for our “sanctification” during the time leading up to the “parousia”. There is no question that our sanctification should be complete prior to “meeting the Lord in the air”.

Secondly, there is nothing structurally in those verses which would suggest that we accompany the Lord back from Heaven. He is addressing them in second person plural (“you”; “your hearts”) in his prayer for them, but doesn’t speak of the “saints” who accompany the Lord at the parousia in 1st person plural. So again, your explanation is reaching.

Furthermore, who did the Lord say He returns with?

Matthew 25:31- “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:”

Two points:

1)The Lord clearly describes the angels as “hagios” (“holy ones”).

2)He only describes coming back with the angels.

Do you seriously think the Lord would forget to mention His glorious, adorned bride coming back with Him from Heaven if we really do come back with Him from Heaven? So Paul didn’t say “only”, and the Lord didn’t say “only”. I think that just reduced the odds considerable that you have a legitimate argument.

In addition, what is the sequence if events?

Matthew 24:30-31: “And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

1)He descends out of Heaven first
2)All eyes see Him
3)He then sends His angels to gather the elect from one end of the sky (“ouranos”) to the other.

The Lord makes no mention of the church/body/bride/elect coming with Him from Heaven. No, He only speaks of the elect being gathered together (same “episynogogue” which Paul uses in 2 Thess 2:1, except different tense) after He descends out of Heaven. You think He forgot to mention us again there? “Elect”, by the way, refers to the church throughout the epistles (with the exception of one instance, where it refers to angels).

The fact of the matter, James, is that the Lord only described one gathering together of believers, and that being “after the tribulation of those days” (Matthew 24:29-31). Paul said that it wouldn’t be until after the son of perdition is revealed (2 Thess 2:1-3). He then goes on to describe just how he will be revealed in verse 4, which seems to be a description of the AoD which the Lord warned us we’d see (Matthew 24:15).

All of the word play in the world won’t change those facts, and yes, you’ve been avoiding those verses.

I’m more than happy to continue this discussion, but not here. I am already spread too thin. I started a FB rapture group awhile back, which keeps me very busy. For the last few days, I’ve been bouncing around between the group and Amazon. Feel free to join. With your pleasant tone, you would be a welcome addition, and a good representation of the pretrib view. As it is, probably 90% there are pretrib, but aren’t very capable of defending that position.

Continued @ Angels or Saints Part 4

Angels or Saints? Part 2

A continuation of Angels and Saints Part 1

John:
Thanks for the feedback. Regarding “hagios”, however, I think I gave a more than sufficient example of the noun form referring unequivocally to angels in 1 Thess 3:13.
James:
No, not really. Remember, the fact that you think the word translated as “saint” may really refer to angels is quite different from the fact that the Greek term “hagios” literally (and I would add contextually) means “saint”.
John:
Still, let’s cut to the chase. In 2 Thess 2, What was Paul warning us not to let anyone deceive us about? A different chronology of events than the one he gave us. And what was Paul’s chronology? That we won’t be gathered together unto the Lord until AFTER the “apostasia” (that word refers to “rebellion” in both Acts 21:21 as well as all six times it’s used in the Septuagint), and AFTER the “son of perdition” is revealed (2 Thess 2:1-3). And how is he revealed? Paul goes on to tell us in verse 4, which seems to be a description of the Abomination of Desolation (which the Lord told us we’d see- Matthew 24:15).Keep in mind that had Paul given us any OTHER chronology of events (like you’re suggesting), the Thessalonians would have been duped again by the very next charlatan that came around saying the DOTL had begun. But again, Paul gave them/us two markers to KNOW what to look for first. They/we should never be fooled again. Sadly, we have.
James:
Dave Hunt’s book had a section called “Post-Tribbers Would Not Be Troubled” which deals with your concerns about the Thessalonians and the DOTL. I thought he did a good job explaining what would essentially be my response to your point, so, I would simply point you to that part of the book. I have included part of it for you to digest:
Other than being caught by surprise, which they shouldn’t have been, why would the Thessalonian believers be upset to be told that the day of Christ had arrived? There was no reason to be “shaken in mind” if they believed in a post-tribulation Rapture. There was, however, sound reason for being shaken if they believed in a pre-trib Rapture. Clearly, then, the latter was their view. If the Thessalonians knew they had to go through the Great Tribulation in order to arrive at the Rapture, which they looked forward to with eager anticipation, then it would not have troubled them to know that the day of Christ had come. Their reaction rather would have been, “Praise God! The time has come for us to face Antichrist and prove our love and faithfulness to our Lord. If we are martyred, we have a special crown. If not, and we endure to the end, then we will be caught up to meet Christ on His descent to the Mount of Olives.” After all, the coming of the day of the Lord and the revelation of the Antichrist with the accompanying tribulation was certainly what they had anticipated if they believed in a post-trib Rapture. Not exactly a “blessed hope,” but surely nothing to be “shaken in mind” or “troubled” about. If, on the other hand, the Thessalonians were expecting Christ before the tribulation period and it had arrived without their leaving in the Rapture, they had something, indeed, to be “shaken in mind” about! Had they been rejected by Christ? Why hadn’t they been taken? And why was Paul still there and all of the other Christians? No one had been caught up to heaven…
Dave Hunt. When Will Jesus Come?: Compelling Evidence for the Soon Return of Christ (pp. 161-162).
John says:
After all, the Lord only described one gathering together of believers, and that being “after the tribulation of those days” (Matthew 24:29-31).
James says:
I disagree, your reference to Matthew 24:29-31 is actually about Israel. He does consolidate His “elect” from all over as mentioned in Matthew 24:31 and Mark 13:27. However, the word “elect” in the bible refers to both Israel and the Church (Isaiah 45:4, Isaiah 65:9, Matthew 24:31, 1 Peter 1:2, Colosians 3:12). However, Jeremiah 9:25-26 suggests that Israel (and not the Church) will be the elect entity that must endure the great tribulation. Therefore, since the Church is already in heaven attending the Wedding that occurs during the great tribulation (Revelation 19:7-8); and since God said that in that day (when Christ returns in wrath), no Jew would be left outside Israel: “I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them [among other nations] any more” (Ezekiel 39:28, cf. Isaiah 27:12; Amos 9:9); it seems reasonable to interpret Matthew 24:31 in light of God’s promise to gather Israel from all ends of the earth.
John says:
The “hagios” issue notwithstanding, I think I gave a Scripturally faithful description of the “day of the Lord”, and how the tribulation cannot be the “wrath” which we’re “not appointed to”. Have you considered these important points?
James says:
I have considered your points. Some I am clear on and others (like your 2 Thess 2 explanation) still elude me. In regards to your comments about our being appointed to endure the tribulation, I wrote a blog entitled (Four reasons why Isaiah 26:19-21 refers to the Rapture – https://christpluszero.wordpress.com/2011/04/14/four-reasons-why-isaiah-2619-21-refers-to-the-rapture/) where I explain why I believe that this passage affirms God’s intent that we escape the wrath that He has prepared specifically for those that have disregarded and disobeyed His loving truth. Have you considered this passage?

John says:

James, I would recommend that you examine 1 Thess 3:13 further:

1 Thessalonians 3:13- “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 (“hagios”).”

That verse would make no sense if we’re the “hagios” who come back with the Lord at His second coming. Otherwise, why would Paul need to pray for our hearts to be made “unblameable” at that time? Weren’t they made “unblameable” seven years prior (at a “pretrib rapture”)? No, the only way that verse makes any sense is if we’re here when the Lord comes back with His “holy ones” (see Matthew 25:31). Then it makes all the sense in the world for Paul to be praying for our hearts to be made “unblameable”…”at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.”

Do you see the point?

James says:

I do not see a problem with the idea that our hearts will be established unblameable in holiness before God at Christ’s coming with all his saints (and angels – c.f. 2Th 1:7). Why must this occur at the pretrib rapture? Yes, we get resurrected bodies at the rapture but why must that include the “establishing of our hearts as unblameable and holy?” God can do whatever He wants when he wants and this verse appears to suggest that our hearts will be established when we come back with Christ. No problem there. Unfortunately, the greek word “hagios” can never produce a noun interpretation of angel; such a deviation from the semantic range of a word would allow us to practically interpret the bible to say anything.

Angels or Saints? Part 1

John says:

Did the Lord describe coming back from Heaven with anyone OTHER than His angels at His second coming? No. Only His angels:

Matthew 25:31- “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:”

Again, nowhere did the Lord describe coming back with the church/body/bride/elect. That’s something which Hunt likes to sweep under the carpet. What an odd omission of Scripture that would be if we really do come back with Him. Many assert that 1 Thess 3:13 and Jude 14 are “evidence” that we do indeed come back with Him, because He is said to return with His “saints”. The problem with that interpretation is a failure to understand the Greek term “hagios”. It is not synonymous with “church saints”. On the contrary, it only refers to “church saints” a minority of the time it’s used in the NT. If [Dave] Hunt would only use a concordance, he’d realize that the Greek words for “holy angels” in Matthew 25:31 are “hagios aggelos”. So the Lord already TOLD us who the “hagios” are who he comes back with: His “hagios aggelos” (“holy angels”). No need for us to plug in “church saints” in 1 Thess 3:13 or Jude 14. What’s more, Paul tells us who comes back with the Lord at His second coming, in no uncertain terms:

2 Thessalonians 1:6-8: “Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; 7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:”

Where does Paul have us until the time of the Lord’s second coming (the word “revealed” is the Greek “apokalyptos”)? Right here. And who does Paul say that the Lord returns with? His angels.

James says:

There are many issues that I could take you to task on but for the sake of time I will concentrate on just one: the word “only” does not appear in Matthew 25:31 so can you explain how you know that God does not come additionally with all his saints? We are told that Christ comes with His saints in the the Old Testament as well (See Zechariah 14:5 – … and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee). Even if I were to stipulate that your unwarranted limitation of the semantic range for the Greek term “hagios” is allowed, you must account for the fact that the Hebrew word for saint in Zechariah 14:5, qâdôsh, is never interpreted as angel. So, if God does not come with his saints as you suggest in your critique then how do you explain away Zechariah 14:5?
John says:
First of all, I think one could argue that the two “saints” (qowdesh) in Daniel 8:13,14 are angels, as a prophetic timeline is being given. Regardless, even if it were referring to the elect, that verse doesn’t clarify whether we come with Him from Heaven, or the sky (which is where we “meet” Him).
James says:
If the only thing needed to argue that someone is an angel is the existence of a prophetic timeline, then based on that hermeneutic we should argue that the apostle John, the author of the book of Revelation, must have been an angel; but I do not think you would be content with that conclusion. Daniel uses the Hebrew word for angel in Daniel 3:28 and Daniel 6:22 so if his intent was for Daniel 8:13-14 to refer to an angel he certainly had no impediment to doing so. Nothing about Daniel 8:13-14 necessitates identification of these “holy ones” as angels.
John says:
Regardless, even if it were referring to the elect, that verse doesn’t clarify whether we come with Him from Heaven, or the sky (which is where we “meet” Him).
James says:
Nowhere in the bible is there a notion of Christ coming from the sky to go elsewhere so why do you look for this? Yes, we meet Him in the air when He comes for His elect but that is the extent to which a sky is involved.
John says:
Furthermore, “qaydesh” in it’s references to humans in the OT, referred to Jews. So if anything could be surmised, it’s that Jewish believers are coming with Him (i.e. “tribulation saints”) in your likely eschatologic vernacular.
James says:
How can you argue like this? There is nothing in Zechariah 14:5 that suggests that the saints must be Jewish is there? Have you actually looked at each of the 12 times that the Hebrew term qâdôsh is translated as saint in the Old Testament? I have, and there is only one passage that requires the saint to be Jewish, this passage is Psalm 106:16 where the saint in question is Aaron the brother of Moses.
John says:
As for Matthew 25:31 not containing “only”, there should be some other Scripture to substantiate your claim. The Lord never described us coming with Him from Heaven. Jude 6 and 1 Thess 3:13 aren’t going to help your case, knowing that the Lord used “hagios” in Matthew 25:31 to describe the angels.
James says:
On the contrary, it is you who must not muzzle the word of God. You cannot limit who God can come with, the grammar does not allow you to do such, that is my whole point about the word “only.” Also, I do not accept your hermeneutic in regards to the verses that clearly convey that saints are following Christ at His return (Jude 1:14, 1 Thessalonians 3:13 and Zechariah 14:5). The Greek word “hagios” when used as an adjective describes something that is holy such as a holy angel or the Holy Ghost or the Holy City. When it is used as a noun, it always means a saint. Therefore “hagios” NEVER is and NEVER can be interpreted “angel.” Of the 62 times that “hagios” is interpreted as a noun and not an adjective, 100% of the time it means saint – I’ve examined each verse and there are no exceptions! If you can provide me just one time where the word “hagios”, when used as a noun is translated as angel, then perhaps we could get somewhere; but otherwise, I’m afraid that you are without a defense on this matter. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 6:2-3, a clear distinction in the biblical usage of the terms “angel” and “saint” unfolds as we are told that it is the “saints” that will judge the “angels.” Also, the clear demarcation between “saint” and “angel” occurs in Revelation 8:3-4 among other verses.

Are you keeping your eyes on things above?

Therefore, if you have been raised together with Christ, seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, Who is your life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.
(Colossians 3:1-4)

What does it mean to set your mind on things above?

This means that we as Christians should always be thinking about Christ’s imminent return and it’s implications on not just ourselves but also our neighbors, family members and everyone that we have daily contact with.

What does the bible mean when it says “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ“?

It means that your life on earth is effectively over and that Christ has your new life with Him and is ready at any moment to reveal it to you when He comes.

Provide one example of how we can set our mind on things above?

By putting our lives daily activities into perspective, If you spend the majority of  your day worrying more about things below then how can you succeed in setting your mind on things above?

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’m going to prepare a place for you. And when I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, so that where I am, you may be also.
(John 14:1-3)

Why do you think that Christ is preparing a place for us?

So that we can stay where He is staying and also so that we can have a place to rest during the great tribulation.

When He comes again, name one thing that He will do?

He will receive us to Himself.

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God … and what we will be has not yet been revealed: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we will see Him as He is. And everyone that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as He is pure.
(1 John 3:1-3)

What is the hope discussed in 1 John 3:1-3?

This is the catching away of believers that was discussed in the previous verse.

Why do you think that this hope would serve as a purifying factor in the Christian’s life?

“Those who believe that they must take over the world and establish the millennial kingdom for Christ in His absence either reject the Rapture or relegate it to such a distant and unimportant position that it has no practical value in their lives.” (TheBereanCall.org) On the other hand, those that believe it is imminent and could happen any second would prepare themselves like the servant in the Matthew 24:45 parable.

For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also came through a man. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ will all be made alive. However, this will happen to each person in the proper order: first Christ, then those who belong to Christ when he comes. Then the end will come.
(1 Corinthians 15:21-24)

How does 1 Corinthians 15:21-24 change your perspective about death?

For the believer, it renders death meaningless and something to actually look forward to.

Behold, I show 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall 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 shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have 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 grave, where is your victory?
(1 Corinthians 15:51-55)

What does the bible mean by the word “sleep”?

What is the mystery? Is it the fact that we shall not all sleep or the fact that we shall all be changed; or is it both?

I don’t think that the mystery is the fact that we shall all be changed, after all, this is spoken of in the old testament in places like Isaiah 26:19-21

Now I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, so that you will not grieve as the others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so those also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the Lord’s coming, shall not go before those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain, will be snatched away at the same time together with them in the clouds for a meeting with the Lord in the air, and so shall we be together with the Lord forever. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
(1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Why do those with no hope grieve and should 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 cause us not to grieve?

Where are these individuals that meet God in the air going to?

…waiting for God’s Son whom He raised from the dead to come back from heaven. This Jesus is the one who rescues us from the coming wrath.
(1 Thessalonians 1:10)

What does Jesus do to rescue us from the coming wrath?

Your dead men shall live, together with My dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, you that are in dust: for your dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. Come, my people, enter thou into your rooms, and shut your doors behind you: hide yourselves for a little while, until the fury has passed by. For, behold, the LORD will come out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their sins: also, the earth will reveal the blood that has been shed on it, and shall no more cover her slain.
(Isaiah 26:19-21)

Who are these dead men and when shall they live?

God calls them “His people”

Where are these “rooms” that allow God’s people to hide from the coming indignation (fury)?

The ones that are in the mansions of John 14:1-3

Now there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that Day; and not to me only, but also to all those who love His appearing.
(2 Timothy 4:8)

Name some excuses that you think would prevent people from loving His appearing?

We just got married and I want to spend some time with my wife on our honeymoon; My 401K is doing great and I’m about to realize my dream of retiring in comfort; I just got accepted into a elite university so my life has just begun; I have a great job, a great house, and lots of money so I cruising through life.

Would you love His appearance if He came right now?

I have been a christian all of my life but five years ago, if you would have asked me this question my response would have been “no” or “not yet”. However, today, my response is a big YES, in fact, every night, I pray for Jesus to hasten His return. Not because I’m in any trouble that would be solved by Christ coming to snatch me up and away from my misery, actually, it’s quite the opposite. I have young kids that I want see grow, I have dreams and aspirations, there are things that I would like to do before I die; yet, despite all of this, I have finally understood what Christ has been communicating in the scripture about this world and where it is heading. The future of the world is grim. The end of the world’s story has already been written and it is not pretty. Things are getting worse everyday for follower’s of Christ. We are inundated with immorality and there is no way that we can remain pure in a society that is getting more evil in a hurry. America, that is supposed to be a Christian nation has no idea what Christianity is about anymore. Our churches are saturated with preachers that are afraid to teach the weightier matters of the bible for fear of losing congregation members. Unsound doctrine is rampant in the church. Even, most (probably 90%) of the Christians that I personally know are biblically illiterate and almost useless for encouragement, fellowship or spiritual growth (I speak this to their shame – 1 Corinthians 15:34). Our leaders are immoral and there is virtually no hope of turning this country around. So, yes, even though I am living in the most prosperous country on earth and I am in a comfortable situation with dreams of doing things that I have never done; I understand that the plans that Christ has in store are glorious and unbelievable. They are filled with the hope of a new body that is incorruptible, no more pain, no more hunger, no more sorrow, and most importantly, I will live under the rule of a righteous king, the Lord Jesus Himself.  No longer will I have to worry about work, or taxes, or my health, or any evil that may befall me. I will relinquish this cursed body for one that is just like the one Christ has Himself. I would love His appearing!

Two reasons why Isaiah 57:1-2 corroborates the Rapture

Isaiah 57:1-2
The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.  (2)  He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.

As a followup to the Isaiah 26 post as a proof-text for the rapture, it is interesting to see the same theme appears later on in Isaiah particularly in Isaiah 57:1-2. The following are two reasons why these verses as well provide ample reason to believe in the doctrine of the Rapture (also see Have we forgotten about the Rapture):

1. God’s will is that the righteous are spared from the judgment that He sends for the ungodly(1 Thessalonians 5:9).  Many times in scripture we have seen Him carry out this goal:

  • saving Lot’s family from the Sodom and Gomorrah Judgment (Genesis 19:16)
  • saving Noah and his family from the Flood (Genesis 7:1)
  • saving the first born of the Israelite from the plague sent to kill all firstborns (Exodus 12:23)

The Rapture is the ultimate realization of God’s goal to alleviate believers from the wrath (the Great Tribulation which culminates in the Great and terrible day of the Lord) to come because it will serve as the most pungent act of earthly judgment ever to happen. The bible describes this period as the worst to ever occur in all of human history (Matthew 24:21).

Dr. Henry Morris of the New Defender’s Study Bible adds the following:
57:1 taken away. The definitive event of being taken away from the evil to come will be the future rapture of the church, at which time both living and dead believers will be caught up to meet Christ just prior to the great tribulation. See I Thessalonians 4:15–5:10; II Thessalonians 2:1-4, with the associated footnotes. However, the principle may well be applied also in many cases when a believer’s life is taken at a relatively young age. This is at least a possibility that could be considered when no other apparent reason seems to exist.

2. Once again (see prior reference in the Isaiah 26 post) we encounter a verse that reminds us of Christ promise in John 14:2 of the many mansions that are prepared and awaiting us. The imagery of beds is certainly not out of place with the mansions (John 14:2) and chambers (Isaiah 26:20) of protection and rest spoken of in other parts of scripture.

Analyzing a silly media response from the Harold Camping debacle…

What can Christians learn from Harold Camping’s failed May 21, 2011 prediction?

By Gabe Lyons and Jonathan Merritt

“…Christians need to recognize that fear-based conversion tactics may work on young children, but they rarely resolve rational thinkers’ long-term concerns about faith. Those who went running for the rapture must now sit to wrestle with the serious questions that plagued them before. We must learn that it’s easy to rile people up with future headlines of destruction, but it’s better to inspire people with God’s will for our lives in the present…When Christians succumb to thinking that sees escape as the answer to the world’s brokenness, we know we’ve taken a wrong turn.” – Read More

If the writers of the above excerpts have a problem with a fear based message then they’re definitely going to have a problem with Christ’s fear-based admonition in Matthew 10:28 – And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. The problem with Camping’s false prophecy has nothing to do with it’s fear based message but rather his blatant disregard for Christ’s teaching in the Matthew 24:42 section of the Olivet Discourse when he states: Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. No one, I repeat, NO ONE knows when Christ will return (except obviously for God the Father);  Christ said this many times (Matthew 24:36, Matthew 24:44; Mark 13:33) so it’s hard to understand how Camping could have missed it and how the media could give Harold’s baseless utterances so much attention. One explanation I suspect is that the media will relish and exploit any excuse to defame the Christian religion. To underscore how uneducated the media is about Christianity, how come they failed to understand that if Harold Camping’s prediction was right then that would actually mean that God is a liar and that Christianity is false? Mere logic requires us to reach this conclusion since it’s Camping’s words versus God’s! The real headlines should have read: Harold Camping claims that God is a liar, the May 21st showdown will reveal the winner!