"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Grace under Siege 64: Observation

     This time it only took ten minutes. It used to take a couple of hours before I would feel in my spirit and body Satan's rage against something I posted. This morning within ten minutes of posting "Lions," I saw in my mind's eye a very angry man (whom I recognized) with his hands around my throat and I felt intense pressure cutting off my breath.
     Jerry prayed in the name of Jesus Christ for the demon energizing the man to loosen his grip. It got a bit better. By the authority of Jesus, we cancelled all demonic assignments against me, us, everyone in this battle and claimed Proverbs/26-2: an undeserved curse will not land on its intended victim. 
     The pressure went away.

Grace under Siege 63: Lions

     Christians can't choose their lions.
     I wish we could. If we could I'd choose an old, feeble, toothless one, a benign one.
     I'd choose one that had been used on the MGM movie set for years, one that everyone trusted. You just steer around him when you move across the set, absent-mindedly stroking his fur as you go past. Little kids make a point of visiting that set, tumbling over him with squeals of delight.
     I don't think I'd even mind the fierce ones, the ones that you meet in the arena, the ones that immediately lunge for you and gobble you up and you're home free. It would all be over so fast you wouldn't have much time to be terrified. Besides, I've heard that in the shock of being attacked--by a bear, a shark, maybe even a human--you don't feel any pain.
     But some of these lions look so righteous--a stiffness in the spine, a firmness around the mouth, a determination in the eye that could never be mistaken for compassion. Others look sincere and gently reproachful. Lions that genuinely don't know they are lions, who think we are the lions and they are the martyrs.
     It's these last that are the hardest to face. They seem genuinely sorrowful that they have to eat us--but they will eat us all the same. Grind up our bones and spit out the gristle. And they will tell themselves they are doing it for God.
     That's not why I mind facing them. I regret it because we have known them so long, many of them--respected them, trusted them, served with them, cared about them and their families, sharing a common faith. I regret their decision to give their loyalty to a Pied Piper leading them farther and farther astray, rather than to the unchanging Son of God and His word. I regret their inability or unwillingness to see this, the deception that holds them in bondage.
     They may not be martyrs but they are the captives, not us.

     P.S. If I could choose my lions, I'd choose Aslan.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Electronic generation

This morning, from my brother Ted. His son Vyron is ten. My other nephew, Andrew Haislip, is 20--but they're in the same generation.

Ted Reynolds      6:34 AM
to Ted, Tim, Naomi, Lisa/Scott Walk., Margot, allan, anthony, Mio

This morning I called into Vyron's bedroom, "Time to get up and go to school." A drowsy voice answered, "No! Access denied!"

Love to all,

Jessica Renshaw   6:42 AM 
to Ted, Tim, Naomi, Lisa/Scott Walk., Margot, allan, anthony, Mio

I'll have to share that with my other nephew Andrew, two weeks a father.  He calls the baby's pacifier his "mute button."


Grace under Siege 62: Tell. Stay. Stand.

      Tell. That was His command to us. After 21 years of our leadership instructing members of the flock whom they had wounded, "Don't tell," God told us to tell: Bring the deeds of darkness into the light for My judgment.
     At that point we only knew of a few "deeds of darkness." But as we obeyed, other people started contacting us: "That's what happened to us!" "That pastor refused to listen to me, either!" That elder yelled in my face, too!" "That's why we left!"
     Stay and stand. That's the other thing he commanded us to do. Not only is He still saying this every time we check in with Him but others who get discernment for us as they pray for us and for Grace Brethren Church confirm it over and over:
     "You can't be moved.You are to stand. Don't slide from that decision. You've got to do this on your knees. There is an all-out attack. It has been camouflaged. You are feeling the backlash."
     "You are in a fiery furnace--and all that will burn off are the shackles. You and Jerry are going to be able to walk out of the fire into freedom, without even the smell of smoke on you."
     "You two will stand through the test, through the fire. Others will come to you. You're going to come through this because your beliefs are strong. God has got you where He wants you. Both of you have had bold leadership, standing on the Rock. Those around you are beginning to turn. The tide is beginning to turn. You are a beacon in this church. There are those who respect you, who trust your judgment. They look to you for guidance. Some are saying "If they're standing, there must be something to it. What do those two people know that we don't." You'll show the body at church how to stand.
     "Something is wrong. There is a breach of contract somewhere. A covenant has been broken. They are not obedient to the Holy Spirit and there is a Satanic covenant.  Somebody has made a vow to the enemy. They got off track. I feel a spiritual disconnect. There has been a disconnect in the head of the church whether it's the head pastor or executive elders, a disconnect between the pastor and the elders. Something is not right. Something he's been into is not right. He needs to repent or he's going to fall. He's going to his knees on this.
     "Stand strong. They're picking on you because you're willing to stand for the truth. You're the head of the turnaround. God says, 'I'm going to put their feet on that Rock.' You will stay solid on the Rock. You will not be moved. God says, 'Those who've misrepresented you I will deal with at my time. I will give you wisdom and discernment. I will call people to surround you. This church will be restored. My written Word and the work I have done in this church will remain.'
     He's going to expose those who are playing games. Something's going to get tripped up, will pop up--a red flag so big they won't be able to get over it." 
     Stand. What does that look like? Stand when they won't let us speak, stand when they tell us not to pray without their permission, stand when they tell others we are liars, stand when the doctrine (or lack thereof, like the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20, which has become the Great Omission)* coming from God's pulpit defiles it, demeaning Him and incurring His wrath. Stand when they shun us, stand when they slander us, stand when the poisonous fog of deception soothes people with a distorted view of the truth, preventing them from believing God's opinion of this farce. 
     Stand when I am too intimidated by their power and fury to say a word.
     Whatever the results of the vote on the elders and the Statement of Faith on February 5th, we will keep staying, standing, and telling until God tells us to stop.

*Thank you for the way you put it, Jerry.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

100 Verse Challenge - Week 21

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape, so that you are able to bear it.
1 Corinthians 10:13

Join the Challenge.

Based on the book 100 Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart by Robert J. Morgan

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Grace under Siege 61: Restoration

December 5, 2011

"I see this man getting on his knees
                      like a little boy
"The LORD is going to humble him.

"It will loosen the chains that are around the church:

                                  major bondage.

"They have no idea 
               what they're dealing with.
"The enemy is right in front 
                                  of their faces.
                        They'll find out.
"God will allow it to be exposed.
"It will work out." 

December 13, 2011

"He stands at the front of the church, 
                                    his hand propped on the lectern.

"All of a sudden something hits him
          and I see him folding right there--
                 on his knees
                         knees buckling.
                                 Down on his knees.

     "I see him crying--
          tears coming from his eyes--
               in repentance and shame.

"I see an arm on his shoulder.
          The LORD has been grieving over this,
                                                                    over him.
"I see the LORD's hand on his shoulder
          because he is truly repentant.

"The LORD is gathering him up
          reassuring him
                                      he will be used."

"This church will be restored."

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Grace under Siege 60: Is God through with the Jews?

     One page of Dr. Pentecost's 70 pages on the millennium deals with "The Millennium and Israel's Covenents." Here we are on solid ground when we compare Scripture with what Lou believes because he states his views in a document we can consider a reliable and honest reflection of them.
     We know, both from this document and from his admissions to former GBC member Alan Holdich (confirmed by someone whom Alan shared with afterwards), that Lou believes God is through with the Jews. He has abandoned them, there will be no restoration of Israel and she no longer plays a part in His plans.  
     In his 2005 doctoral dissertation, "Spiritual Renewal and the Kingdom of God," from Gordon-Conwell Seminary, Lou asserts "Israel failed (to) bless the world." (pp. 34-5) He quotes theologian N.T. Wright as saying, "God's purpose would not, after all, be to vindicate Israel as a nation. . . Jesus announced increasingly clearly that God's judgment would fall . . .on Israel, that had failed to be the light of the world. . . ." He claimed "Jesus himself and his followers" were "now the true, reconstituted Israel." (p. 41). 
     (Note: This is called "replacement theology.")*
     That's what a theologian named N.T. Wright says. But what does the Bible say? Were God's covenants with Israel conditional? Has God rejected Israel because she failed to bless the world? Has He replaced Israel with the church?
     In Section 2: "The Biblical Covenants and Eschatology," J. Dwight Pentecost lists four covenants between God and mankind: the Abrahamic, Palestinian, Davidic and New covenants. Of these only one covenant was conditional and that single condition (Genesis 12:1) was "based upon Abraham's obedience in leaving his homeland and going to the land of promise." Each of these four covenants was expressly declared to be eternal and therefore unconditional: Genesis 17:7, 13, 19; I Chronicles 16:17; Psalm 105:10 (Abrahamic), Ezekiel 16:60 (Palestinian), 2 Samuel 7:13, 16, 19; I Chronicles 17:12, 22:10; Isaiah 55:3; Ezekiel 37:25 (Davidic), and Isaiah 61:8, Jeremiah 32:40, 50:5; Hebrews 13:20 (New). 
     As a friend reminds me, the covenants were promises, not demands. God did not command Abraham to "bless the world." God promised him that through him God would bless the world. Moreover, they are unconditional promise--"I will bless you"--and God doesn't break His promises. (In the following paragraph Pentecost uses "should" to mean "shall.")
     "The things promised by God [to Abraham] are the following: 1. That Abraham's name shall be great. 2. That a great nation should come from him. 3. He should be a blessing so great that in him shall all families of the earth be blessed. 4. To him personally ('to thee') and to his seed should be given Palestine forever to inherit. 5. The multitude of his seed should be as the dust of the earth. 6. That whoever blessed him should be blessed, and whoever cursed him should be cursed. 7. He should be the father of many nations. 8. Kings should proceed from him. 9. The covenant shall be perpetual, 'an everlasting covenant.' 10. The land of Canaan shall be 'an everlasting possession.' 11. God will be a God to him and to his seed. 12. His seed shall possess the gate of his enemies. 13. In his seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed."
     In the last days God will keep His covenants with the Jews. God has already restored the Jews to their own land (Jeremiah 23:5-8, 32:37-39; Ezekiel 36:28, 39:28). In Jeremiah 32:40 God says "I will never stop doing good to them." Hosea 3:5 says the Jews "will come trembling to the Lord and to His blessings in the last days." Zechariah 10:6 says God "will restore them as though I had not rejected them." Romans 11:26 says "All Israel will be saved."
     Dr. Pentecost writes, "This age (the millennium) will see the complete fulfillment of all the covenants that God made with Israel. . .
      --"the Abrahamic covenant concerning the land and the seed: Isaiah 10:21-22, 19:25, 43:1, 65:8-9; Jeremiah 30:22, 32:38; Ezekiel 34:24, 30-31; Micah 7:19-20;
Zechariah 13:9; Malachi 3:16-18. Israel's perpetuity, their possession of the land, and their inheritance of blessings are directly related to the fulfillment of this covenant. 
    --"the Davidic covenant concerning the king, the throne, and the royal house: Isaiah 11:1-2, 55:3, 11; Jeremiah 23:5-8, 33:20-26; Ezekiel 34:23-25, 37:23-24; Hosea 3:5; Micah 4:7-8. The fact that Israel has a kingdom, over which David's Son reigns as King, is based on this Davidic covenant.
    --"the Palestinic covenant concerning the possession of the land: Isaiah 11:11-12, 65:9; Ezekiel 16:60-63, 36:28-29, 39:28; Hosea 1:10-2:1; Micah 2:12; Zechariah 10:6. These references to the possession of the land promise fulfillment of the Palestinic covenant.
    --"the new covenant concerning a new heart, the forgiveness of sin, the filling of the Spirit through the converted nation: Jeremiah 31:31-34, 32:35-39; Ezekiel 11:18-20, 16:60-63, 37:26; Romans 11:26-29. All the blessings Israel receives are fulfillment of this covenant."
(Pentecost, Things to Come, Ch. 28, pp. 476-7)
     Numbers 23:19 says "God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?" God is a promise-keeper. He will do what He says. He always has.
     Oh, by the way--the Jews didn't bless the world? A young Hebrew girl breathed "Yes" to the Almighty and the whole universe was blessed with a Savior. Scribes in their dark cells washed their hands so as not to desecrate the words--words with holy meaning--they were painstakingly transferring to parchment and because of their dedication we hold virtually the original Scriptures, with no major contradictions, in our hands today. 

*Question: "What is replacement theology / supersessionism?"

Answer: Replacement theology (also known as supersessionism) essentially teaches that the church has replaced Israel in God’s plan. Adherents of replacement theology believe the Jews are no longer God’s chosen people, and God does not have specific future plans for the nation of Israel. All the different views of the relationship between the church and Israel can be divided into two camps: either the church is a continuation of Israel (replacement/covenant theology), or the church is completely different and distinct from Israel (dispensationalism/premillennialism).

Replacement theology teaches that the church is the replacement for Israel and that the many promises made to Israel in the Bible are fulfilled in the Christian church, not in Israel. So, the prophecies in Scripture concerning the blessing and restoration of Israel to the Promised Land are “spiritualized” or “allegorized” into promises of God's blessing for the church. Major problems exist with this view, such as the continuing existence of the Jewish people throughout the centuries and especially with the revival of the modern state of Israel. If Israel has been condemned by God, and there is no future for the Jewish nation, how do we explain the supernatural survival of the Jewish people over the past 2000 years despite the many attempts to destroy them? How do we explain why and how Israel reappeared as a nation in the 20th century after not existing for 1900 years?

The view that Israel and the church are different is clearly taught in the New Testament. Biblically speaking, the church is completely different and distinct from Israel, and the two are never to be confused or used interchangeably. We are taught from Scripture that the church is an entirely new creation that came into being on the day of Pentecost and will continue until it is taken to heaven at the rapture (Ephesians 1:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). The church has no relationship to the curses and blessings for Israel. The covenants, promises, and warnings are valid only for Israel. Israel has been temporarily set aside in God's program during these past 2000 years of dispersion.

After the rapture (1Thessalonians 4:13-18), God will restore Israel as the primary focus of His plan. The first event at this time is the tribulation (Revelation chapters 6-19). The world will be judged for rejecting Christ, while Israel is prepared through the trials of the great tribulation for the second coming of the Messiah. Then, when Christ does return to the earth, at the end of the tribulation, Israel will be ready to receive Him. The remnant of Israel which survives the tribulation will be saved, and the Lord will establish His kingdom on this earth with Jerusalem as its capital. With Christ reigning as King, Israel will be the leading nation, and representatives from all nations will come to Jerusalem to honor and worship the King—Jesus Christ. The church will return with Christ and will reign with Him for a literal thousand years (Revelation 20:1-5).

Both the Old Testament and the New Testament support a premillennial/dispensational understanding of God's plan for Israel. Even so, the strongest support for premillennialism is found in the clear teaching of Revelation 20:1-7, where it says six times that Christ's kingdom will last 1000 years. After the tribulation the Lord will return and establish His kingdom with the nation of Israel, Christ will reign over the whole earth, and Israel will be the leader of the nations. The church will reign with Him for a literal thousand years. The church has not replaced Israel in God's plan. While God may be focusing His attention primarily on the church in this dispensation of grace, God has not forgotten Israel and will one day restore Israel to His intended role as the nation He has chosen (Romans 11).

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Grace under Siege 59: Millennium

     "A larger body of prophetic Scripture is devoted to the subject of the millennium, developing its character and conditions, than any other one subject. This millennial age, in which the purposes of God are fully realized on the earth, demands considerable attention. An attempt will be made to deduce from the Scriptures themselves the essential facts and features of this theocratic kingdom. While much has been written on the subject of the millennium, that which is clearly revealed in the Word can be our only true guide as to the nature and character of that period." Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come, chapter 28: "The Scriptural Doctrine of the Millennium."
     For my money, Pentecost's classic volume, after more than 50 years in print, still reigns over every other attempt to gather and group all the relevant verses on prophecy yet to be fulfilled. His examination of the texts and the possible interpretations to be made from them are exhaustive. His conclusions based on this research provide the most thorough and convincing chronology of the events ever put forward, in my opinion.
     Dr. Pentecost quotes or cites hundreds of verses in his four chapters (70 pages) about the millennium. I would like to post every verse on the millennium here but obviously that isn't practical. I refer you to the book itself.
     One of the primary passages on the subject is Revelation 20:1-9:

Satan Bound

1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years ; 3 and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time. 4 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection ; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

Satan Freed, Doomed

7 When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, 8 and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth , Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. 9 And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 

     Pentecost writes (p. 491), "It is generally held, even by those denying the literalness of the thousand year period, that the angel, heaven, the pit, Satan, the nations, the resurrections mentioned in this chapter are literal. It would be folly to accept the literalness of those and deny the literalness of the time element. . . Six times in this passage it is stated that Christ's millennial kingdom will continue for a thousand years."
    Amillennialists argue that "the eternality of Christ's kingdom does not permit any place for a thousand year reign on earth." Pentecost suggests (p. 494) that His millennial reign will lead into His eternal reign: "By the establishment of the theocracy for a thousand years, under the Mesianic theocratic King, God has accomplished His purpose of demonstrating His rule in the sphere in which that authority was first challenged. By merging this earthly theocracy with the eternal kingdom God's eternal sovereignty is established. Such was the purpose of God in planning the theocratic kingdom and developing it through successive stages throughout history until it reaches the climax of the program in the theocracy under the enthroned Christ in the millennium. That authority, which Satan first challenged, Christ has now demonstrated belongs solely to God. God's right to rule is eternally vindicated."

Grace under Siege 58: Photos posted

     Now that the names of the Watchmen have been released we have posted photos of their first meeting, January 8, 2012 at Grace under Siege #48 - Historic date in Grace Brethren History. Those pictured who are not on the list were only there to gain information.
      Last Sunday a second meeting of the Watchmen was held at a nearby church. It too opened with an hour of spontaneous prayer. Of the 80-90 people present, many prayed on their knees and most of those who prayed aloud were men. Information was made available to visitors and Pastor Paul Hoffman gave a message on unity.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Grace under Siege 57: Rapture of the Church/Tribulation

See also Things to Come chapter 13: "The Pretribulation Rapture Theory," by J. Dwight Pentecost. He devotes 12 chapters, over 200 pages, to passages on the rapture and the tribulaton.

Is the belief in the Pre-Millennial, Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the church an essential belief?*

Essay by Rick Byrd, Bible teacher, Agape Adult Bible Fellowship:

Concise answer:  Absolutely yes! There is one key verse Rev 3:10 in conjunction with three main passages: 1 Thess. 4:13-18, John 14.1-4, and 1 Cor. 15:50-58, which all proclaim the rapture of the Church.  Moreover, the driving result of the belief in the imminent Rapture of the Church is the need to fulfill the Great Commission.  Those who hold this teaching make the snatching of the lost and dying from the very flames of hell their life’s quest.  A church, which does not maintain this belief quickly, substitutes the pursuit of “good works” for the necessity of saving the lost.

Detailed answer:  Belief in the Pre-Millennial, Pre-Tribulation Rapture accomplishes two things: one, it drives the church to maintain an expectancy for the Lord’s soon return for His Church; and two, it drives the church to fulfill the Great Commission that it was given. This eager expectancy on the part of the church for the imminent return of Christ is taught in many verses:
John 14.2-3 “In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.”
Acts 1.11 “They also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven."
1 Cor. 1.7 “so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ”
1 Cor. 15.51-52 Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed”
Phil. 3.20 “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ”
Col. 3.4 “When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”
1 Thess. 1.10 “and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.”
1 Tim. 6.14 “that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,”
Titus 2.13 “looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,”
Heb. 9.28 “so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”
James 5.8 “You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near.”

While these verses address this blessed hope, the following arguments strengthen this position.  First, the Bible mentions no needed sign to take place before the rapture.  Second, meaning of immanency has the idea of certainty but not immediacy (i.e., soon but that it must happen).

Before we turn our attention to the three main passages which teach the Pre-Millennial, Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the church: 1 Thess. 4:13-18, John 14.1-4, and 1 Cor. 15:50-58, we will examine Rev. 3:10:

Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”

To begin with the word church (ekklesia) occurs only one time after the first three chapters of Revelation (Rev. 22:16).  It occurs nineteen times within the first three chapters.  In chapter 4:1 we have a beautiful picture of the church being raptured is illustrated by John being called to heaven.  The church is never pictured as on earth but only as being in heaven in chapters 4-18.  The absolute silence of those chapters regarding the church is deafening. In Revelation 19.7 she is referred to as the Bride of Christ and then in 22:16 she is then for the last time called the church. 

Next the promiseI also will keep you from the hour of testing” uses the words “ tereo ek” for to keep, preserve, protect out of-- the hour of testing. Furthermore, the Lord promises to keep them from the very time of the testing which is to come upon the whole world.  The way in which He will do this is by the rapture of the church. Also the article “the” occurs before both the hour and from the testing; therefore, this confirms a specific test coming upon the whole world.

Now we will turn our attention to the three clear passages.

1. 1 Thess. 4:13-18:
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we, who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede 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 caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Thess. 1:10 states: “and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come.” All believers are rescued from the wrath to come.  This is echoed in 1 Thess. 5:9 as well:For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  So the church is not destined for the wrath to come, “the Great Tribulation” to come.  In 1 Cor. 15:50-58, Paul is endeavoring to comfort those who have lost believing friends and family to physical death (.13).  The encouragement he gives is based on the fact of the resurrection of Christ (.14). The first to join Christ in the air at His coming are the dead in Christ and then we who are alive (.15).  The Lord Himself gave this to Paul (this mystery according to 1 Cor. 15.50-51) (.16). The Lord Himself will descend from heaven (.16a).  If one considers John 14.3, he realizes that the place, where Jesus Himself was going to and the place He would take the church, was to heaven.  And according to 1 Cor. 15: 53:For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality (translated).” The living must have their earthly bodies changed. Once this occurs then they will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air;” the word “caught up” is the word “harpazo” to be snatched or seized suddenly.  It is this word through the Latin that the word rapture is derived.
It is this event: going with any who have died in Christ to meet the Lord in the air and to always be with Him that produces comfort (.18).

One of the greatest encouragements that these believers have is that while they may face tribulation they will not go through “the tribulation,” “the Day of the Lord.” In the very next section 1 Thess. 5:1-10 Paul who introduces a new subject with “peri de” “now as” to the Day of the Lord. 

Robert Dean Jr. provides the following fifteen differences between the Rapture and the Second Coming:
• At the Rapture Jesus comes for His own [church age believers], at the Second Coming
Jesus comes with His own [church age believers].
• At the time of the Rapture Jesus comes only in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17), at the
Second Coming Jesus comes to the earth (Revelation 19:11-18).
• At the Rapture, living saints receive resurrection bodies (1 Thessalonians 4:17), at the
Second Coming, no living believers receive resurrection bodies.
• At the Rapture translated saints go to heaven, at the Second Coming translated saints go
to earth.
• At the Rapture, Jesus comes in the air and returns to heaven (John 14:3), at the Second
Coming Jesus establishes His kingdom on the earth.
• At the Rapture, there is no judgment on the unsaved upon the earth, the Second Coming
Concludes God’s judgments on the earth dwellers.
• At the Rapture Christ claims His bride, at the Second Coming Christ comes with His
• The Rapture delivers the saints from the wrath to come, the Second Coming concludes
the wrath to come (Daniel’s seventieth week).
• The Rapture is imminent and its proximity is not announced by any prophetic signs; the
Second Coming is preceded by specific, recognizable signs.
• The Rapture involves only the saved of the church age, the Second Coming involves all
on the earth. The saved of the Old Testament are resurrected after the Second Coming.
• The Rapture is not mentioned in the Old Testament, but the Second Coming is predicted
often in the Old Testament.
• Satan is not mentioned in reference to the Rapture, but after the Second Coming, Satan is bound (Revelation 20:2–3).
• No prophecy must be fulfilled before the Rapture, many prophecies must be fulfilled
before the Second Coming.
• At the Rapture only those who meet Him in the air will see Him, at the Second Coming
every eye shall see Him.
• The Rapture is called the Day of Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:2; Philippians 1:10; 2:16), the Second Coming comes as part of the Day of the Lord (Joel 2:31–32; 1 Thessalonians
5:2). (Robert Dean Jr. “Three Foundational Rapture Passages,” http://www.pre-trib.org/data/pdf/Dean-theThreeMajorRapture.pdf.)

2.  John 14.1-4. 
We will examine the Upper Room Discourse significance (John 13-17), the congruity with the Jewish marriage analogy, and the parallels with 1 Thess. 4:13-18; each provide the necessary support for the Pre-Millennial, Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the church. Next we will examine the details of the passage.

To begin with the Upper Room Discourse provide in seed form the following New Testament truths:
The believers' oneness in Christ (John 17:20-23; Eph 2:11-22), the Spirit's permanent residence in the believer (John 14:16; Eph 4:30), the believer's union with Christ (John 14:20; Gal 2:20;Rom 6:1-14), the believer's opposition to the world (John 15:18-19; Jas 4:4; 1 John 2:15-17), the necessity for the believer to stay in fellowship with Christ (John13:10; 15:1-17; 1John 1:5-7, 9), abiding in Christ as a prerequisite for fruit bearing (John 15:1-7; Phil 4:13), the believer's election (John 15:16; Eph 1:4); Christ as the ultimate model of sacrificial living and service (John 13:1-20; Phil 2:5-11), the necessity of divine discipline in the believer's life (John 15:2; Heb 12:5-11), Satan as the god of this age (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 2 Cor 4:4; Eph 2:2), the defeat of Satan at the cross (John 12:31; 16:11; Col 2:15; Heb 2:14), the Spirit as the inspirer of all Scripture (John 14:26; 16:13; 2 Tim 3:16; 2 Pet 1:20-21), the Spirit as the illuminator of all Scripture (John 14:26; 16:13; 1 Cor 2:14; 1 John 2:20, 27), Christ's provision of peace in the midst of adversity (John 14:27; Phil 4:7), the necessity of the Spirit's convicting ministry as a prerequisite for salvation (John 16:7-11; 1 Cor 2:14; 2 Cor 4:4), the normalcy of tribulations in the present age (John 16:33; Jas 1:2-4), the believer as the ultimate overcomer (John 16:33; 1 John 4:4; 5:4-5), Christ's present session at the Father's righthand (John 14:12-14; 17:5; Heb 8:1; 10:12-13), the power of prayer (John 14:12-14; Eph 6:18- 20; Jas 5:16), the inerrancy of Scripture (John 17:17; 2 Tim 3:16), and the disclosure of Eschatology (John 16:13; 2 Thess 2:1-12). (See Andy Woods paper  “Jesus and the Rapture,” http://www.pre-trib.org/data/pdf/woods-JesusandtheRapture.pdf. Where he gives an exhaustive treatment to Jesus and the Rapture).

The Upper Room Discourse provides eschatological setting.  It is sandwiched between the Christ promise of Matt. 26:29 (the promise of drinking from the fruit of the vine in the kingdom) and the Seder celebration of Psalm 118:26 (Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord). 

The Jewish Marriage Analogy.  Woods gives seven aspects to this relationship:
1.      the groom travels to the home of the bride’s groom (Christ becoming flesh paying the betrothal price with His death on the Cross 1 Cor. 6:19-20);
2.      During the betrothal period, the groom is temporary separated from the bride (the preparing of temporary dwelling for the church, John 14:2);
3.      At an unknown time the groom returns to the bride’s home 1 Thess. 4.16-17;
4.      The bridal party returns to the groom’s father’s home (equivalent to the raptured church being taken to heaven the home of God;
5.      The consummation of the marriage where the Bride is now formally married to Him;
6.      The groom emerges from the marital chamber announcing to the wedding party the reality of this new physical union (this step is equivalent of the church being with Christ during the seven year tribulation period (Dan. 9:27);
7.      The groom and the bride emerge from the marital chamber unveiled (this is equivalent to the Second Coming of Christ with the church).

Textual Details of John 14.1-4
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way where I am going.”

Jesus has returned to heaven to prepare temporary dwelling places for the believer (14:2).  He then adds that He will come again.  The word “again” (palin) signifies that He will come back in the same manner.  Acts 1:9-11 provides that manner.  The word “to” (and receive you to Myself) is the word (pros) with the accusative denotes movement towards something; here, movement towards heaven. Next, in the phrase that where I am, there you may be also the word “where” refers to a specific location in the present and gives the designation of place (i.e. heaven). Lastly, the phrase where I am going has been used constantly throughout the gospel as the return of Jesus to the Father.  In summary Woods adds:

What all of these textual details reveal is that Christ would return through His
Ascension to His Father's heavenly abode. While there, He would prepare temporary dwellings for His disciples. However, He would also return for His disciples at a future time. His return would be just as personal as was His First Coming and Ascension. Upon His return He would physically take believers to be with Him by spatially drawing them to Himself. The ultimate purpose of this event is so that believers could dwell in their prepared, temporal, heavenly places as well as be with Christ in the specific heavenly place where He is. All of this information would serve as a tremendous comfort to the disciples who were greatly troubled over the announcement over His soon departure (John 13:1). In fact, John 14:1 makes it clear that Christ unfolded the reality of this glorious event for the specific purpose of comforting His distressed disciples. Of course, such revelation of this phase of Christ's return represents mystery truth never before disclosed. Its description is out of harmony with any past revelation
concerning the Messiah's Second Advent. (Woods also furnishes sthe following early Ante-nicene church fathers who gave evidence of eschatological interpretation of John 14.1-4—Papias (ca 110), Irenaeus (ca. 130-202), Tertullian (ca. 196-212); Origen (ca. 182-251), and Cyprian (ca. 258)).

3.  1 Cor. 15:50-58
 Paul in this chapter makes the following points:
·        in verses 1-22, he gives evidence for the physical bodily resurrection of Jesus;
·        in verses 12-34, he exclaims that without the physical resurrection of Christ believers are without hope;
·        in verses 35-49, he answers two questions: “How are the dead raised?” and “What kind of body do they have?”
“Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, "DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. "O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”

In verse 51 Paul explains a mystery. The word “Mystery” is used by Paul to disclose a divine revelation never before revealed.  While Daniel 12:2 presented key information about a future resurrection, never before has the Old Testament given any details about the rapture of the church.  Both 1 Cor. 15:52 and 1 Thess. 4:16 give the details of the rapture.  The trumpet blast signals the end of the Church Age while simultaneously translates the Church, the Body of Christ, in the twinkling of an eye.  Then Jesus takes His Bride into heaven for the duration of the tribulation period.

The resurrection of the Tribulation saints occurs only after the return of Christ and His victory over the Antichrist and False Prophet signified by His casting them into the Lake of Fire; at this time, He imprisons the Devil, Satan of old, in the Abyss.

At the outset, it was pointed out that only the Pre-Millennial, Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the church allows the imminent Return of Christ to drive the church to be obedient to the Great Commission.  But only the Pre-Millennial, Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the church allows for the Scriptures to be interpreted in a literal manner.  This view then teaches that Jesus could return any second and at His Return He will take the translated Church into heaven where He has prepared a temporary place for her protecting her from the tribulation, taking place on earth.  Following the purification of the bride at the judgment seat of Christ, Jesus will take the sealed Book that no one except for He was worthy to open.  After the horrors inflicted on the unbelievers leading to countless tribulation saints accept Christ as their Messiah, Jesus will return with his bride and defeat the armies of the anti-Christ.  He then begins the millennial rule of Christ upon the earth fulfilling God’s promise to David.

*"By "essential," Rick says he does not mean essential for salvation.

Grace under Siege 56: Shifting the bedrock

     Those who tell us, with graphs and dates, that the pre-millennial view* of Biblical eschatology is recent (it isn't*) and that a pre-tribulation rapture, the second coming and the millennium were not always written into our Statement of Faith fail to recognize that prophecy of the end times from this perspective was always an integral part of the teaching of this church. When these views came into doctrinal fashion in church history or whether or not they were written into our Statement of Faith is utterly irrelevant. They didn't have to be in the Statement of Faith. They were common knowledge. Our understanding of Biblical eschatology was what our church was known for.
     Since the foundation of First Brethren Church on May 20, 1913, this is what our people found in the Bible, what we stood on, and what all four previous generations of pastors taught--Louis Bauman, Charles Mayes, David Hocking, Dick Mayhue. The statement merely reflects the reality that this is what Grace Brethren Church always stood for.   
     I don't think any of us realized when we called Lou to be our senior pastor that he was not committed to the same eschatology the church was founded on. I seriously doubt if the search committee who voted Lou in would have done so had they known he would not continue this 78-year heritage of our church. For 21 years he has "silenced" our eschatology and now he wants to kill it off once and for all by silencing any reference to it in our Statement of Faith.
     Through the years there were people who came to this church because of its eschatology.  Mary Mulloy has been in this church for 86 years. In 1925, she was brought to "Fifth and Cherry" as they called it then a 10-year old by her Uncle Coot and Aunt Carrie Mulloy. She says, "It was Dr. Louis Bauman's messages on prophecy that drew them to the church."    
     Four decades and two senior pastors later, it was Dr. David Hocking's series on Revelation that drew my first husband, Eric, and me as well as my second husband and his first wife Gretchen--plus many others--to settle in this church.    
     This view of the end times was believed and taught on a regular basis not only from the pulpit but in every age-level Sunday School class. Every pastor taught that the "things to come" prophesied in Scripture--the rapture, the second coming, the Millenium, God's ultimate restoration of the Jews--to their land and to their God--would be literally fulfilled.
     Current GBC members with roots back to the early days of this church can testify to this:
     Taylor VanBuskirk was raised in this church. His family have been members of Grace since his great-grandmother Elsie Scovil joined the church when it was at Fifth and Cherry in 1913, the year it was founded. Taylor says, "Her daughter Gladys Scovil married my grandfather Donald Van Buskirk and they attended as well.  My grandmother was a church pianist at times and my grandfather was a soloist.  Of course, my dad Ray and his sister Verda grew up in the halls of Fifth and Cherry back in the 1930’s.  The church always held a pre-trib position. What Pastors Bauman, Mayes, and Hocking taught us is happening today.  I don’t think that’s a coincidence.  The Lord knows the future and He decided to share it with us.”  
    Wendy Austin was also raised in this church. "My great-grandparents Harvey and Amanda Daudell were the first of our family to find 1st Brethren.  I do not know the exact year, but it was around 1919. They came to California from Indiana.  My Grandparents Jim and Helen Schilling, my parents Doris and Gene Schilling and my family all were taught what our church believed.  I can remember being in the Cradle Roll, and moving into a regular class.  One of the first songs we learned was 'Onward Christian Soldiers'.  I was always taught that we believed in the "Bible the Whole Bible and nothing but the Bible," and we would sing "The B-I-B-L-E, oh that's the book for me, I stand alone on the word of God, the B-I-B-L-E," and then shout "Bible!"  
     "I know that when I would sit up in the balcony at 5th and Cherry and hear Dr. Mayes talk, I really wanted to know more about the tribulation.  I would talk with my grandmother, Helen Schilling, and she would go over what our church believed.  We would talk about the rapture of the church, pre-tribulation, and the second coming and the 1000 years reign on this earth.  This is what was taught and what set Brethren church apart."
    Shirley Todd's grandparents Walter and Ruby McPheeters were from Nebraska and joined First Brethren Church in 1934. Shirley's mother was six years old. Shirley says, "We were absolutely taught dispensational theology--the rapture, the tribulation, the millenium, the new heavens and new earth. They were taught at this church for as long as I can remember."
     These members, along with many more of us, are concerned that by dropping Point #9 from the Statement of Faith in order to be "more inclusive," the teaching of prophecy and the last days will be abandoned permanently. These things have not been taught from our pulpit for the last 21 years; what are the chances they would be added back to the teaching of our church once the Statement of Faith has been rewritten to exclude them? 
     Those who do not believe in the historical positions of this church, including its eschatology, have no right to change or eliminate them. Deleting Point # 9 in the Statement of Faith to conform to a lack of belief in its contents is inappropriate. 
     The only way the leaders could make this right is if, having deleted pre-trib, pre-mill eschatology from the Statement of Faith, they resume teaching and promoting it from the pulpit and in all the age-level classes.

*From Pre-millennialism - The Oldest View:
     The pre millennial view is the view that holds that Christ will return to earth, literally and bodily, before the millennial age begins and that, by His presence, a kingdom will be instituted over which He will reign. In this kingdom all of Israel's covenants will be literally fulfilled. It will continue for a thousand years, after which the kingdom will be given by the Son to the Father when it will merge with His eternal kingdom. The central issue in this position is whether the Scriptures are to be fulfilled literally or symbolically.
      In fact, this is the essential heart of the entire question. Generally speaking, one's view of interpreting the Scriptures determines whether or not he or she is a pre-millennialist. For the most part, all who believe the Bible to be literal are pre millennialists. Some Bible scholars, however, separate prophecy from other passages. They interpret the rest of the Bible literally, but whenever they come to prophecy, and particularly the book of Revelation, they tend to spiritualize it. Only in taking the Bible other than literally can a person be anything but a pre millennialist.
     The early Christians were almost unquestionably pre millennialists. The New Testament itself indicates that the apostles expected the Lord to return and set up His Kingdom in their lifetime. In Acts 1 v.6, just before our Lord ascended into heaven, the disciples asked a question that revealed their understanding: "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" The Lord did not deny that He would set up a Kingdom, but He told them, "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority."
     So we find the disciples and those they taught anticipating the return of Christ and the establishment of His Kingdom. Many of the detractors of the pre millennial position suggest that it is a relatively new theory, having come on the scene during the days of John Darby and others. The truth of the matter is that pre millennialism held sway during the first 3 centuries of the early church and was known as "chiliasm". Dr. Pentecost quotes from Lewis Sperry Chafer's Systematic Theology:
     Pre millennialism generally holds to a revival of the Jewish nation and their repossession of their ancient land when Christ returns. Satan will be bound (Rev. 20 v.2) and a theocratic kingdom of righteousness, peace, and tranquility will ensue. The righteous are raised from the dead before the millennium and participate in its blessings. The wicked dead are not raised until after the millennium.
     The eternal state will follow the judgment of the wicked. Pre millennialism is obviously a viewpoint quite removed from either a-millennialism or post millennialism. It attempts to find a literal fulfillment for the prophecies in the Old and New Testament concerning a righteous kingdom of God on earth. Pre millennialism assumes the authority and accuracy of Scriptures and the hermeneutical principle of a literal interpretation wherever this is possible.
     Toward the end of the 3rd century the spiritualizing and allegorizing of Scripture began to take over theological thought, and together with the merging of ecclesiastical and governmental Rome under Constantine, pre millennialism fell into disrepute. With the advent of Augustine and other Catholic theologians, theology and philosophy supplanted the study of Scriptures.
     The Dark Ages are well named, for the Word of God, which is the light of life, was hidden from people by the Church, which had been entrusted with the responsibility of propagating it. As the light of God's Word was extinguished, the hope of the Church, the literal return of Christ to the earth, was eclipsed.
     Not until after the Reformation was there a revival of pre millennialism. . . It is probable that the pre millennial view, though subject to many attacks, will remain a dominant influence upon the Church until the Lord returns.