In last weeks article we laid a lot of groundwork for this week’s article. Last week we found out about the “Georgia Sharecropper” who knew a lot of verses in the bible, but he didn’t know the meaning or the context of them. And in case you didn’t figure it out…they did not grant him his ordination papers. Because what they saw was a man who pulled all kinds of verses out of context to make the bible say what he wanted it to say.
At any seminary or theological institution that you may attend (some of you have already attended them), one of the first things you will learn is the Three Rules of Interpretation. These are: 1) Who is doing the talking? 2) Who is being spoken to? and 3) What is the context of what is being spoken about?
Let me just list one example (out of hundreds that could be listed) of people misinterpreting the scriptures. I’ve chosen this example because it is one that has split churches, denominations, friendships, and even theological institutions. In Matthew 19:4-9 Jesus is asked a question about marriage and divorce. He answers the question. Now today people take His answer to mean that it pertains to the body of Christ…when it doesn’t.
Remember the three rules of interpretation? Jesus is talking to Jews that are living under the Law of Moses. He even tells them what Moses said, and why he said it. The Mosaic Law was never supposed to govern the other nations, or even the Gentiles that lived among them. The Gentiles have never been under the law. Jesus was not giving the body of Christ this law that was to govern them. He was simply answering the Pharisees’ questions about the Mosaic Law.
Paul however, in 1Corinthians 7:15-16 introduces an “exception” that Jesus did not mention. At first glance to the casual reader there seems to be an apparent contradiction of scripture…is Jesus right, or is Paul right? Jesus is speaking to the Jews who are living under the law of Moses, whereas Paul is speaking to the Church who is under the law of Love. Two entirely different groups of people are being spoken to here. Two entirely different dispensations are being addressed here.
But yet this one “seeming” contradiction has caused people more sorrow and division than almost any other teaching in the New Testament. And Christians who live under the law (in their thinking and in their theology) will never be able to properly balance out the two. But for the one who knows God, and who knows His Word, there is no dichotomy or contradiction.
The teaching of the rapture is the same way. People take certain verses that are addressing the Jews during the Tribulation to mean that they must be addressing the Church. They are not. Just like Matthew 24 is not for the genuine Christian. The entire chapter is for the Jews (yes, there are entire sections and chapters in the Gospels that are addressing the Jews only).
The entire chapter begins with Him walking out of the temple and the disciples showing Him the different buildings of the temple. Jesus says that every stone will be cast down (which happened in 70AD when Titus invaded the city), and the disciples asked Him three distinct questions: 1) When will these things happen, 2) What will be the sign of Your coming? 3) When will the end of the age be?
The teaching of the rapture is, in my mind, the easiest teaching of the New Testament to understand. The direction I will take this teaching is not to show that there is a rapture (for any worthy student of scripture knows the truth about this), but to show the timeline of the rapture.
There are five main views of this out there. They are: 1) No Rapture, 2) A Partial Rapture, 3) A Pre-tribulational Rapture, 4) A Mid-tribulational Rapture, and 5) A Post-tribulational Rapture. We will not even teach on the first view – for this view is for people who just don’t read their bibles, and forget about the rapture of Enoch, Elijah, Jesus, and the Two Witnesses in Revelation 11.
Some teach (as John Hagee does in his study bible…which surprises me knowing that he graduated from Southwestern Assemblies of God University) that all Christians will go in the rapture, regardless of their living. He actually makes the comment, “God is not going to accept anyone into heaven because he has sanctified himself.” I have no idea what bible he’s reading. He has failed to take into account the “full counsel of God” which is the entire bible.
We utterly reject this notion based upon the scriptures in the New Testament alone (besides all the ones in the Old Testament) that teach that not all who profess Christ will make it. Even half of the “virgins” were not allowed in. I can’t even list here the over 100 verses in the New Testament that deal with this issue.
Even Paul said, “And those of us who are alive and remain will be caught up with them…” Please take note of the above word that I bolded (“alive“). Many teach that this means those of us who are physically alive and living when He comes again. But this is simply not true, because this particular Greek word means to be spiritually alive with the eternal life of God. It’s the Greek word “zoe” and not the Greek word “bios: which deals with your physical life. So Paul (the Holy Spirit) is most certainly referencing those who are spiritually alive, and waiting…and watching.
According to what Brother Hagee goes on to say, anyone who has at one time confessed Jesus as Lord will make the rapture. This is a Calvinistic belief…that once you are saved, you will always be saved, regardless of your living. Dear friends, the rapture is a reward for those who have prepared themselves. Hebrews 9:28 says, “and unto THEM that look for Him shall He appear the second time.” Channel 12 Breaking News!!! If you’re not living right, then you’re not going to be looking for Him. Who does He appear to? Those who are looking for Him.
So…we feel that the Bible is very specific in who goes and who doesn’t. God said that without holiness, no man shall see the Lord. So, if you’re not living holy, then just how could you even see Him when He does come? You can’t.
The gospel is so simple that even a child can understand it.
To move further on in this teaching then; we will not be dealing with the Partial Rapture teaching or the No Rapture teaching. Feel free to call me and we can sit down with our bibles and simply see what the word has to say about these things.
The reason I am addressing this is because there have been some who are teaching that we will go through the tribulation. These are in error. And they remind me of Hymenaeus and Philetus in 2 Timothy 2:17-18 who taught that the resurrection is past already. And what did the Holy Spirit say this teaching did to others? It “overthrew the faith of some.” These “teachers” are overthrowing the faith of some. If they’re not sure as to what they are teaching, they just need to leave it alone and teach what they can, until they get further revelation.
For instance, I have seen something in the word that shows that when an unsaved man dies, his soul goes to hell but his spirit returns to God. I have found several scriptures to substantiate this…including the one where Jesus said to the thief “Today, thou shall be with Me in Paradise.” But yet the bible teaches in many place that His soul went to Hell and suffered. Hebrews 4:12 teaches that the soul and spirit can be separated from one another. Ecc. 12:7 teaches that the spirit of man will return to the God who gave it. The bible teaches that the soul of a man is his own possession, but the spirit belongs to God. How could God ever allow a part of Himself to suffer in Hell? And I cannot find one single scripture in the entire bible that says a man’s spirit goes to Hell, but there are countless scriptures that say his soul goes to Hell.
Anyways…here’s the point, even though I’m starting to see something here about this issue, I would never attempt to write an exhaustive teaching on it, or teach it in a church setting. Why not? I don’t understand it enough yet. What if I’m wrong? What if I overlooked a verse somewhere? I could hurt someone rather than help them. It’s the same way with the teaching of the rapture…if you’re not sure 100%, then just leave it alone for awhile until you do get more revelation on it. And please quit teaching what everybody else says about it instead of what the bible says about it.
We should never be teaching something to others that is not 100% settled in our own hearts and minds. This brings confusion to the hearers, and it plants seeds of doubt. For those of us who are teachers of God’s Word, people are looking to us to teach them the truth. Don’t teach them something you are unsure of. Just wait until the matter is settled in your mind as to what the truth is on a given subject from the Word. Teachers are not supposed to be presenting questions, we are to be answering them. We are NOT Epicureans, we are bible teachers who have been entrusted to lead God’s people into the truth. How in the world can you lead someone else into light if you yourself are still in the dark (in your mind, beliefs, or doctrine)? Over, and over, and over, and over again, all the writers of the New Testament said “Let no man deceive you.”
The Word of God teaches that teachers of the Word will receive the stricter judgment. This is nothing to play with. If your teachings overthrow the faith of some (whether or not you were wrong or right), you will find yourself in a very bad predicament. Even Jesus said to know the truth before you teach it. How can you teach others what you have not first learned yourself? Some people approach God’s Word, and teach God’s Word as if it’s mere philosophy. Folks, all that philosophy amounts to is the learning more and more about less and less, until you end up knowing everything about nothing. We are leading God’s people out of the wilderness of sin and doubt and fear…and I have news for you: Moses knew God’s Word for himself before he ever taught it to the people.
Because of how much more is on my heart concerning this issue, we will conclude it next week with an overwhelming amount of evidence proving the rapture will take place before the tribulation. I’m sorry we didn’t really get into the nitty-gritty of it this week, but next week I will share all…even if it’s longer than 1,500 words (I try and keep the Briefings to 1,500 words or less).