Eschatology

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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Recalculating... after Another Round of Failed Rapture Predictions

Republished with permission from Baptist Bulletin May/June 2011. All rights reserved.

As Americans approach 2012, many eyes are upon the presidential elections and the scores of difficult political and economic challenges. While political pundits exchange views and posture their positions, another group of New Age thinkers and scientific doomsayers claim that December 2012 marks the end of the world as it is currently known. They portray the end of the world either through cataclysmic destruction or, more often, through a kind of corporate spiritual enlightenment.

Sri Ram Kaa and Kira Raa describe this spiritual enlightenment as a major inner human transformation resulting in greater spiritual awareness, spiritual activism, and global peace (2012 Awaking: Choosing Spiritual Enlightenment over Armageddon). But their idea is only one in a sea of voices that offer competing ideas about the end of the world.

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The Rapture of the Church, Parts 4 & 5

Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

The Glorification of Dead Christians

The most detailed description of the rapture of the church is found in Paul’s first letter to the persecuted Christians whom he left in Thessalonica. He wrote this letter from Corinth, where he confronted much confusion about the personal destiny of believers. Some Christians in Thessalonica had already died (perhaps by martyrdom), and the saints there were concerned that their dead loved ones would miss out on the second coming of Christ.

But dead Christians will not be forgotten by God at the second coming. In fact, they will be the first humans to experience glorification since the Lord Jesus. Yes, Christ was “the firstfruits.” He is the first and only human ever to have been glorified. But “afterward”—nearly 2,000 years already—members of His body and bride, namely, “those who are Christ’s,” will share His glory “at His coming” (NKJV, 1 Cor. 15:23).

Now Paul was emphatic in his letter to the believers in Thessalonica on this one point: Dead Christians will be glorified even before living Christians!

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Noah Knew? Why Harold Camping is Wrong about May 21

Last year Harold Camping of Family Radio caught the attention of national media by displaying a series of billboard ads declaring that Christ would return on May 21, 2011. Apparently, a significant number of Christians believe his interpretation of the Bible. Many others have reacted with scorn.

Recently, a fellow pastor remarked to me, “Well, I guess we know one day the Lord will definitely not come back!” I didn’t inquire, but his reasoning was probably that if “no man knows” the day, and Camping knows the day is May 21, then the day must not be May 21.

But Harold Camping does not really know the day. May 21, 2011, is still a possibility, but not for any of the reasons Camping and his followers have claimed. Here’s why.

Camping’s case

Camping et. al. build their case for a May 21 rapture on two pillars. The first is that the faithful can know—indeed, will know—the date of Christ’s return.

In the Bible a wise man is a true believer, to whom God has given a profound trust in the authority of the Bible. True believers have been in existence since the beginning of time. But the timeline of history as it is revealed in the Bible was never revealed to the hearts of the true believers. … However, about 35 years ago God began to open the true believers’ understanding of the timeline of history. … However, it was not until a very few years ago that the accurate knowledge of the entire timeline of history was revealed to true believers by God from the Bible. (“No Man Knows the Day or the Hour?”)

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