Eschatology

The Rapture of the Church, Part 8

Read Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5, 6 and 7.

The dead in Christ shall rise

Mere moments after all dead Christians have been gloriously resurrected, all living Christians will be transformed and will “be caught up together with them”—without ever experiencing physical death (NKJV, 1 Thess. 4:17). What a blessed hope!

But what kind of a body will we have when we are ushered into the presence of our Lord “in the clouds,” even being with Him “in the air” (1 Thess. 4:17)? This is a question that cannot be fully answered this side of heaven. But God has given us a few hints which He intends to be sufficient for now.

First, the absolute certainty of bodily resurrection is a basic teaching of the Bible. From the book of Job more than 4,000 years ago (cf. Job 19:25-27) to the book of Daniel more than 2,500 years ago (cf. Dan. 12:2), the people of God were instructed in this doctrine. (See also Ps. 16:9, 10 and Isa. 26:19).

Tragically, some Jews denied this truth. They were the Sadducees, a small but powerful group of leaders in Israel who dominated the high priesthood and were subservient to the Roman emperor. One day they confronted the Savior and ridiculed the concept of resurrection (Matt. 22:23-33).

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Interview with C. Marvin Pate, Author of "Reading Revelation"

Image of Reading Revelation: A Comparison of Four Interpretive Translations of the Apocalypse
by C. Marvin Pate
Kregel Academic & Professional 2009
Paperback 208

Last week I posted my review of Reading Revelation: A Comparison of Four Interpretive Translations of the Apocalypse, by C. Marvin Pate. This week Dr. Pate has agreed to answer some questions about his new book.

Dr. Pate teaches at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Arkansas where he is the Department Chair for Christian Theology and the Elma Cobb Professor of Christian Theology. Previous to teaching, Dr. Pate was a pastor at which time he earned his MA from Wheaton and his PhD from Marquette University.

Dr. Pate has spent a lifetime of writing books on eschatology some of which include: The End of the Age has Come: The Theology of Paul; Four Views on the Book of Revelation (contributor); Dictionary of Biblical Prophecy; End Times (contributor); and Doomsday Delusions: What’s Wrong with Predictions About the End of the World.

Share with us what started your interest in eschatology.

Two events drew me to eschatology, both of which occurred when I was 14 years old. First, on a hot July Monday evening in Hampton, Virginia (where I was raised) two U.S. fighter jets collided over the Atlantic Ocean in a practice maneuver and one crashed into the ocean but the other crashed one block from where I lived, in a crowded neighborhood. When it happened, the sky became red, the ground shook, and the noise was deafening. Not knowing what had happened, I thought Jesus was returning! That night made an indelible impression on me about the end of the world and the second coming of Christ. Second, I preached my first sermon at the age of 14, the same summer the jet crashed and my topic was—you guessed it—the second coming of Christ, based on Matthew 24. And so my interest began that summer and intensified in the years to come. I attended Moody Bible Institute as a student and embraced there dispensational pre-millennialism. But later at Wheaton Graduate School I embraced historical pre-millennialism and have pretty much held that position ever since; though technically I call my approach now “eclectic”.

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Supersessionism Rising: Dispensationalism...? Part 2

Republished, with permission, from Voice magazine, Sept./Oct 2011.

Part 1 concluded with the observation that many young evangelicals in colleges and universities have decided eschatology is not very important and that many lay people share that opinion.

Scholarly embarrassment?

Furthermore, and perhaps this is in part the cause of the point just made, it is my impression that Christian scholars, even the biblical scholars and evangelical theologians, are not all that interested in pursuing issues related to eschatology or even in advocating a particular position on eschatology. This is becoming more pervasive among premillennial dispensationalists. This may be (and I think it is) caused by the embarrassment that many of them feel when rubbing elbows with the wider scholarly evangelical community. It is something of a long-standing fact of scholarly life (nearly a “tradition”) that when one enters the “serious academy,” matters of eschatology are relegated to relative insignificance.1

One could recount dozens of testimonies of scholars who grew up in or were saved in churches that regarded the New Scofield Reference Bible with the highest esteem, churches that held Prophecy Conferences regularly if not annually, churches whose libraries were well stocked with the books of Chafer, Walvoord, Ryrie, Pentecost, McClain, Feinberg and the other luminaries of classic dispensationalism. But when those young scholars went off to graduate school or seminary (even evangelical seminaries) they were disabused of those resources and enlightened to the profundities of Ladd, Dodd, Bruce, Barr, and Barth (!)…and these days James Dunn and N. T. Wright among others.

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The Rapture of the Church, Part 7

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Parts 4 & 5, and Part 6.

The dead in Christ—what are they doing?

Before Christ, believers were often perplexed by the prospect of death. One of God’s great servants, Job, recorded his fear that it would be a realm of permanent nothingness—

As the cloud disappears and vanishes away,
      So he who goes down to the grave does not come up. (NKJV, Job 7:9)

But later, God illumined his mind to write:

For I know that my Redeemer lives,
      And He shall stand at last on the earth;
And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
      That in my flesh I shall see God,
Whom I shall see for myself,
      And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
      How my heart yearns within me! (Job 19:25-27)

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Answering the 95 Theses Against Dispensationalism, Part 15

LookItUpRepublished with permission from Dr. Reluctant. In this series, Dr. Henebury responds to a collection of criticisms of dispensationalism entitled “95 Theses against Dispensationalism” written by a group called “The Nicene Council.” Read the series so far.

Thesis 68

Contrary to dispensationalists’ view of the mark of the beast, most of them seeing in the beast’s number a series of three sixes, the Bible presents it not as three numbers (6-6-6) but one singular number (666) with the total numerical value of “six hundred and sixty-six” (Rev 13:18b).

Response: Our friends have been reading the enthusiasts again, and lumping all dispensationalists in with them. How would they feel if we cited Harold Camping and used him as our exemplar to critique Reformed theology? But the reader is advised to check the works of Ryrie, Walvoord, Pentecost, Fruchtenbaum, Couch, Ice and others for himself and see whether they commit this error. Most dispensationalists are wary of saying much about this number (singular), but are content to say that its meaning will be apparent to those wise enough to recognize it in that day.

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The Rapture of the Church, Part 6

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Parts 4 & 5.

The Dead in Christ

We have briefly looked at three of the four spectacular things God will do just before the rapture of the church: (1) “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout;” (2) “the voice of an archangel [Michael]” will be heard; and (3) “the trumpet of God” will sound. Then—and what an event this will be—all “the dead in Christ will rise” (1 Thess. 4:16, NKJV).

Who are these people? They are people who have believed in Christ since the church began nearly 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 1-2). They include men, women and children from many people groups from around the world, speaking many hundreds of languages and representing a vast spectrum of cultures.

Everyone who has died as a little child will also be resurrected, for the Lord Jesus made special provision for them. “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:10; 19:14).

This truth was revealed a thousand years earlier to King David, for when his baby boy (by Bathsheba) died, he was comforted with this assurance: “I shall go to him” (2 Sam. 12:23). David also knew that a person’s life begins at conception (cf. Ps. 51:5). Millions of people who have been killed—aborted—before birth are now in God’s heaven.

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