Following the Rules, Number 4

Rule #4, The Five Major Rules of Bible Interpretation

Before truth is realized, all seeming Scriptural contradictions must be harmonized. – R. Van Kampen, The Sign, p.11

With knowing the rules comes our responsibility to use them. Perhaps this is why many long-time church-goers are hearing for the first time that rules for Bible interpretation exist. By acting like they do not, we only fool ourselves. As my good friend recalled: In Connecticut, where he once worked, there hung a sign: “Ignorance of the rules is no excuse!” The Lord’s Words are the supreme judge, even if we choose to discount them (John 12:44-48).

The enemy wants God’s people in the dark, especially about what is coming, so the devil casts doubt, spreads confusion, disinformation and fear, all through willing human agents. To cut through the fog around prophecy, we must have Light, the pure light of God. That entails using “The 5 Major Rules of interpretation” to remove all darkness from what God has declared.

A cloud has been cast on Matthew 24 by “Christian leaders” whom we have traditionally trusted. They earned our trust by teaching wonderful stories about Jesus. That is good in itself, but on the end times, whether duped or not, they practice deception.

Here’s an example where many are badly misinformed and where the failure to utilize Rule #4 has played to Satan’s advantage: It focuses on the two future events, “the rapture and Jesus’ return.”

The scenarios presented to Christians cover the gamut. They range from “Our Lord can come any moment” to “not until after the seven years of tribulation” or “not at all, not in a physical way” at the other end of the spectrum. (By “not at all,” I refer to teaching that states Christ’s return to reign is allegorical or “not to be taken literally.” See “Rules of Interpretation,” Rule #1.)

For over a century, the extreme positions of “any moment” or “imminent” vs. “allegorical” or “non-literal” have battled it out for “Most Popular.” Did it ever occur to either side in this debate that the truth may lay in the middle? Instead of regarding those with whom we disagree as the enemy, could we sit down in love, then apply “The Rules of Interpretation” to harmonize (bring together) positions. It is possible, but only if truth is the goal. Since I have experience with both sides, I am willing to mediate. If one side or the other breaks a rule of interpretation, we will disallow that argument. The contest ends when irrelevant arguments are removed from consideration and all relevant information is on the table.

It is like marriage counseling; help is available but only if each partner is willing to seek some middle ground. Egos must be put aside or we will never know that a third, more logical  option is waiting. When all evidence is presented, harmony will be realized

The false dichotomy of either Jesus’ teaching on the Mount of Olives was “not to be viewed as literal” vs. it was “to be taken literally but only by Jews” become irreconcilable differences, and that is how the devil wants it.

Next: In our search for harmony, can we move to the unshakeable ground of Biblical truth on the timing of the rapture? Yes, but only by following the rules.

Deception Surrounding Matthew 24, Part 4

They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other. – Jesus, Matthew 24:30b-31 NIV)

At the outset we wrote that a serious charge has been leveled at Matthew 24. This verbal assault on the credibility of Jesus’ teaching was launched years ago from noted sources within the Christian community. Since there was no decisive response, the charge has taken on a life of its own.

It has been asserted that Matthew’s Gospel was exclusively written to Jews. It is time this argument is put to rest.

Deceptions like this about Matthew 24 plus the application of the Five Major Rules of Bible Interpretation to combat the many false narratives are the subjects of our series. The internet has numerous links like those that maintain “the prophecy in chapter 24 does not apply to the saints.”  Part of the evidence, in their words, is, in Matthew 24, there is no mention of “the Church.” Therefore, they say, the Church has been taken up in the rapture before Jesus prophesies on the Mount of Olives. Does that also eliminate the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, from our consideration. There’s no mention of “the Church” in that passage either.

The nature and seriousness of this accusation against the integrity of a vital Bible prophecy deserves our full attention and a thoughtful response. First, we examine Rule #4, “Before truth is realized, all seeming Scriptural contradictions must be harmonized.”

As seen by the video link, those arguing the charge also state lengthy plausible cases. What is missing, however, is what Rule #4 is about: We do not hear an attempt to “harmonize the Scriptures” that seemingly conflict with their argument. Their words sound like they come from lawyers rather than truth-seekers. All the evidence needs to be laid on the table before conclusions are reached. (The previous posts in the series help serve that purpose.)

Utilizing the previous rules, we come to Matthew 24:30-31 (see above). “And he [the Son of Man] will send his angels with a loud trumpet call [refer to 1 Thessalonians 4:16, Mark 13:26-27, Luke 21:25-28] and they will gather his elect from the four winds… 

“Plain meaning,” “the context of the verses,” “comparing Scripture with Scripture” and now the attempt to “harmonize any contradictions”–let’s play by the rules! We ask, “Have God’s elect (‘the Church’ by their definition) been raptured prior to Matthew 24:31, Mark 13:26 and Luke 21:25-28?” The harmonized evidence clearly shows this is the one and only “taking up of the chosen” to meet Christ in the air! There should be no argument. The only way any support or argument exists is to ignore the rules of interpretation and the rules of evidence.

There is much more proof. I encourage you to read Lifesaver and The Prophets, Priests and Kings Series or Robert Van Kampen’s The Rapture Question Answered: Pure and Simple.

Anyone who says that what Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24:30-31 cannot be the rapture (cf. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18) has a bigger problem than their integrity. They have an issue with Jesus (John 12:47-50, Revelation 22:18-19). 

Truth is the goal, yet truth is not dependent on how skillful one argues.  jf

More on Rule #3

As I watched, this horn was waging war against the saints and defeating them, until the Ancient of Days came and pronounced judgment in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came when they possessed the kingdom. (Daniel 7:21-22 NIV)

“In the latter part of their reign, when rebels have become completely wicked, a stern-faced king, a master of intrigue will arise… He will cause deceit to prosper, and he will consider himself superior. When they feel secure, he will destroy many and take his stand against the Prince of princes. Yet he will be destroyed, but not by human power.” (Daniel 8:23, 25)

Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me… Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:9, 12-13) 

Starting with “Deception Surrounding Matthew 24” this series is intended to alert God’s people to a diabolical attempt to deprive them of prophetic truth. If that scheme fails, the evil one desires to distract the elect or lull them to sleep so Jesus’ warnings go for naught (cf. Luke 21:34-36).

Most Christians assume all will be fine, so they are woefully unprepared. All will not be fine (cf. Mark 13:3-23). We have been fed a diet of fake news while being denied the truth. As a result, we have focused on clever stories taught by men (2 Peter 2:1-3). If that is not the work of the Destroyer, then what is?

For example, a recent warning by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was issued and submitted to the U.S. president. It stated that Americans need to prepare for a “profound” EMP emergency. A summary was published in The Washington Examiner in an article “Start Prepping Electric Grid Prime Target.” So why was this very real emergency ignored by the same media that inundates us with dire warnings about climate change and the Trump Presidency? Is there a scheme to literally keep us in the dark?

We argue irrelevancies while truth goes wanting. The fact is that we are being set up. The enemy will have many trust in a false savior (i.e. “the man of lawlessness”) by keeping us ignorant of the plain warnings of prophecy. We are being fed baby food from the pulpit while we have not had 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12 The Rebellion, the Revealing of the Antichrist and the Coming Great Delusion” faithfully explained. Why not? I smell a rat!

Scripture offers three witnesses. (See above.) Each testifies to a coming time of great distress for God’s saints and to the glorious salvation Christ brings them thereafter. Their context is identical and each passage speaks of the saints at the end of this age. Each warning is articulated by heaven’s representative, so their authority is unassailable. If we employ Rule #3 of our 5 Major Rules of Bible Interpretation, “Comparing Scripture with Scripture,” we will have confidence that our interpretation is an absolute certainty. If we apply the other four rules, it will be unshakeable.

Knowing our understanding is accurate has nothing to do with “an expert’s agreement”. Our interpretation is entirely objective. When we apply the rules and arrive at truth, we learn that so-called experts are not needed.

The truth eagerly submits to rugged examination based on the rules. On the other hand, the “inventors of clever stories” act as if the rules do not exist or they are above them. They insist we should believe their fabricated tales. It is a fallacy of logic to suggest that because much of what a teacher says is true then everything else they state is also. Comparing Scripture is an indispensable step in the process if we are to firmly grasp what will surely take place.

Next time: We examine another major deception involving Matthew 24.

Following the Rules: Number 3

Rule #3- Five Rules for Bible Interpretation

  “Compare Scripture with Scripture”

Of the five major rules, none can claim superiority. They are equally important for an accurate understanding of God’s Word. However, if there was one essential rule, I believe it would be #3.

With that said, I ask why #3 is likely the most misused, under-used or abused of the Five Major Rules? I could give examples. Instead, I will cite a few misinterpretations related to Matthew 24 and Rule #3.

First, I need to mention an important tool that aids in the application of Rule #3. I am speaking of a concordance, and the more “complete” the better. A Bible Concordance listing words in alphabetical order and showing where they are located in Scripture is most helpful in comparing parallel passages. By “complete,” I am referring to the volume of words. The range of concordances is from “abbreviated” as in some words, to “exhaustive,” as in every word in the Bible. Limitations exist. For instance, concordances are not available for all translations.

Pick a key word like “abomination” from Matthew 24:16. Ten other times the singular, plural or the related “abominable” appear in the earlier NIV. The NIV concordance cites each so students can compare Scripture with Scripture.

So why do we have teachers who have concordance access but do not use them? Is it because of a bias against the Old Testament. (Remember: The Old Testament provides the background for the New.)

When verses such as 2 Timothy 2:15 were written, the New Testament did not exist. So, to what “Scripture” was Paul referring? The same as Jesus when he spoke of the Holy Scriptures: “The Book of the Law and the Prophets” to Jews or “The Old Testament” to Bible readers.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15 NIV)

Couple the above reference with 2 Timothy 3:15.

…the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (2 Tim. 3:15)

Again, Paul cannot be referring to the New Testament. So what is the issue? Why the reluctance to compare Old Testament parallels with the New?

I have often referred to the Bereans of Acts 17:11. They had no reference tools. They relied on their Scripture knowledge to judge whether the Apostle’s teaching was accurate or not. They understood a principle God submits to for confirmation–two or three witnesses (2 Corinthians 13:1, Deuteronomy 17:6, and 19:15). If Paul used multiple references as support for his teaching and the Bereans tested them for accuracy, then the truth was established. (In the books The Prophets, Priests and Kings series and Lifesaver, I follow this pattern of providing Scripture witnesses. It is up to the reader to test them using The Rules of Interpretation.) If the Old Testament is ignored, teachers can present anything using one “out of context” passage, Matthew 24:36 (ex. “The Any-Moment Rapture” Doctrine).

Perhaps now we see what is behind the unwillingness to compare New Testament passages with those in the Old. Is it because showing the perfect unity between the Old and New Testament threatens false doctrine that Paul warred against and infest most “New Testament Churches.”

In Part 2, we will illustrate Rule #3 by comparing Matthew 24:9 with the Old Testament Daniel (7:21-27 and 8:23-25).

Deception Surrounding Matthew 24-Part 3

As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to take place?”

Jesus said to them, “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and deceive many.” (Mark 13:3-4 NIV)

Parallel passages in the Gospels are not uncommon. Details may be added or omitted but there is no doubt they describe the same event. Of the four Gospels, John’s was the last written. Of the other three, Mark wrote his Gospel first. Reliable scholars believe it was around 50 A.D., not 75 A.D. as some suggest.

I offer this as background for the charge that Matthew 24’s account of The Olivet Discourse was written for Jews and not for everyone. Since this is an attack on the credibility of a significant part of the Bible, this charge merits a full investigation.

I follow this principle: If an argument’s foundation is based on a faulty assumption, it cannot produce an accurate conclusion. A faulty assumption is like inaccurate data entered into the guidance system of a rocket. Everything looks good on the pad, but when launched there is no chance of success.

Unfortunately, some Bible teachers frequently pull faulty assumptions and erroneous arguments out of their hat. We must listen for what’s presented as fact.

Evidence given to back the Pre-Tribulation Rapture claim that prophecy in Matthew 24 does not pertain to Gentile believers is the absence of “Church” in the passage. In logic this is termed “an argument from silence,” the weakest of all arguments. (The YouTube link offers an example of a violating Rule #1, The 5 Major Rules of Bible Interpretation, “Accept the meaning of Scripture in its most normal, natural and customary sense.”) Watch and see how long it takes before confusion sets in. It is a sample of “muddying the water” a type of deception among Christians surrounding Matthew 24. Check out another link that presents a refutation of the charges about Matthew 24. Whose case is clearer?)

Before we decide, we need to give this matter “due diligence.” Consider: If Mark was written earlier and contains the same account, why was Matthew 24 for Jews while Mark 13 was not? Luke 21 was written during the same time period as Matthew 24. Why no argument about the Olivet Discourse in Luke being only for Jews. Matthew has two references to “the Church” (16:18 and 18:17), Mark and Luke have zero, yet they say Matthew was written to Jews and not the Church. They assume we all agree with their untenable assumption.

These shenanigans are only supposed to happen in politics, not within Christianity. By making their charge against Matthew 24, these teachers have crossed the line. They discredit Jesus’ prophecy, inject confusion and obscure God’s sovereign plan of salvation in the last days.

To whom was Jesus referring when he stated, “Let the reader understand”? (24:15b) Was it Torah reading Jews or Matthew reading saints?

Playing to the vulnerable, teachers claim faithfulness to God’s Word, but is that important to the trickery (Matthew 24:4)? This has nothing to do with Jews and everything to do with deceiving the saints.

Could their motive be to protect their amassed wealth and power?