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

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Lifesaver- A rational and Scriptural analysis of a popular Christian end-times position that from the first chapter factually destroys the “imminent” or “any moment rapture” doctrine. Every unbiased, lover of truth will want these Biblically-supported torpedoes in their arsenal. Perfect for study groups who want an objective, thorough, easy-to-read analysis and want a rock-solid grasp of future events.

The Prophets of God– A primer on prophets (ancient and modern) that offers all you need to know about how to recognize them, especially as we enter an unprecedented time of mass deception and a flood of false prophets. Perfect for study groups who are willing to follow God’s prophets and want to discuss Scripture in light of today’s events, as well as current teachings and practices in the church.

The Priests of God– A primer on the Priesthood of God, from the beginning a central role for believers and God-fearers. You will learn of the priesthood’s God-ordained functions. You will read of “The Order of Melchizedek,” the everlasting royal priestly order that claims Christ as its High Priest. Meditate on the Priests of God’s essential purpose in this present age and in the age to come. A perfect study for Bible devotees who are ready to uncover one of the great mysteries and are prepared to embrace their destiny.

The Kings of God The last in The Prophets, Priests and Kings’ Series due the Spring of ’19. The cap on a trilogy that will endure and be esteemed by saints in the next age.

The People of God- The book that started it all. Currently being revised and formatted for ebook. Due to be re-released before the end of ’18. As dependable now as it was in 2010 when originally published. As trustworthy then as it will be at Christ’s Coming.

Another date. Oh, no!

As regular readers may know, I have been a decades-long supporter of a “Pre-Wrath Rapture” view of the end times and, therefore, a critic of the “Jesus can come at any moment” doctrine known as Pre-Tribulation Rapturism (PTR). Readers may detect that I no longer consider the imminent return of Christ position as benign, but as a departure from prophetic truth with the potential of disastrous consequences.

For students of Scripture eager for understanding and a fair presentation of what the Bible says, I heartily recommend “Lifesaver: Rescuing God’s People from the PTR Ship.”  With twenty-five torpedoes aimed at the PTR’s bow, the book sinks any notion that this teaching is accurate or Biblical.

Regarding Christ’s return and the rapture, the plague of false alarms over the last 175 years is not connected to a denomination or group, but to a misguided proposition that Jesus can return at any moment promoted as orthodoxy. PTR teachers bear some responsibility for the crop of scoffers who scoff at the Lord’s return (cf. 2nd Peter 3:3).

“Any moment” prophets were trumpeting fake news long ago and are still doing so today. Check out these examples: This past month it was reported in a British paper that experts predicted the rapture and the end-of-the-world. Well, their Jesus’ return prediction came and went. Didn’t we already survive a rapture prophecy last April?

These false prophecies produce notoriety for the so-called prophets and confusion for those who believed them. All subscribe to an Imminent or Any-Moment Coming of Christ. The keystone of their PTR belief-system means a wait-and-see approach is necessary to see if the sensational prediction is true. It’s not until the morning after that the disappointed shake their heads.

In Matthew 24:25, Jesus warned readers ahead of time, yet PTR followers reject a serious study of his words. If they applied the rules for interpretation to this portion of Scripture, the PTR foundation would be left in ruins. Unless their teachers can convince the naïve that Jesus’ teaching on his coming and the sign of the end of the age was not for his disciples, their house of cards will collapse.

Take for example how PTR alters Jesus’ meaning for many in Matthew 24:

“Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name claiming ‘I am the Christ’ and deceive many.” (Matthew 24:4-5 NIV) 

Classically, PTR teachers refer to the first many as the mentally ill who claim they are Jesus–and they cite some statistics that may or may not be manufactured. Are the deranged who manifest delusions of grandeur a threat to deceive Jesus’ disciples? I think not. Rather, was the Lord alerting us to the many wolves in sheep’s clothing who declare Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God; yet, in essence, call the Lord a liar when it comes to prophecy they do not like (Matthew 16:21-23). The unsuspecting followers who fall for the wolves’ lies will be many.

Remember PTR teachers claim no more signs are necessary before the rapture takes believers away, yet Jesus promised that many false prophets, false Christs and accompanying miracles are a sign (24:4-5, 11 and 23-24). False prophets will announce the imminent return of Jesus, then worship the beast when he arrives on cue. Friends, the PTR position is setting up millions for a bitter disappointment. They will learn too late it wasn’t Jesus they worshiped.

Read 2nd Thessalonians 2:1-12 and see if we are not warned of the deception. Study Jeremiah 5:12. Know what will become of the deceivers and the deceived.

“They have lied about the LORD; they said, ‘He will do nothing! No harm will come to us; we will never see sword or famine.’ The prophets are but wind and the word is not in them; so let what they say be done to them.” (5:12-13)

The Sin of Omission

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. (James 4:17 NIV)

Attorneys take an oath that, as “officers of the court,” they will pursue justice.  During an investigation, if a prosecutor discovers evidence that supports the defendant’s innocence, then, in the interest of justice, they are bound to share it with the defense counsel. If they happen upon evidence that supports the defendant’s guilt, prosecutors have responsibility to share that as well. Omissions are a threat to justice. The American judicial system is not about an outcome but about equal justice under the law. Hiding exculpatory evidence (evidence that rules out guilt) is a serious offense and punishable under the law as a felony (“contempt of court”).

Many Americans are not informed that top Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) officials may have committed crimes by failing in their obligation as officers of the court in order to achieve a political objective. Evidence suggests top law enforcement officials were granted a warrant to spy on members of the Trump team after leaving out evidence that would have damaged their case. It was not what law enforcement swore to in their testimony, but what they left out. Yet the major media has chosen to omit this big story from their reports. So why no criminal charges? When those in authority are willing to commit perjury by lying under oath as a false witness, we have lost the foundation for liberty.

Power that devotes itself to outcomes rather than the law are the tools of tyrants.  Dedication to a so-called theology has corrupted much of the Church as well. Teachers of the Gospel are to be officers of the court of truth. If they are committed to an ideology, then Bible facts that threaten their position are omitted and those who raise them are branded enemies. Truth is the first casualty. The deck is stacked. The fix is in. All sides are not fairly represented. Even if one is convinced they are right, omitting contradictory Biblical evidence to support a system of belief is sin.

“Truth is not realized until all seeming Scriptural contradictions are harmonized.” #4, “Five Major Rules of Biblical Interpretation” -R. van Kampen

Let few be teachers, especially if they choose to omit contradictory Scripture rather than introduce it. The standard by which God judges teachers is strict. It would be better a millstone were tied around their neck and they be cast into the sea than to be a teacher, preacher or pastor who fails to act as an officer of the court of Truth.

Illogical- So What! Part 3

At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense, “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”

“I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable.” (Acts 26:24-25 NIV)

Men, like the Apostle Paul, want those who oppose them to know that their position is true and reasonable. Near the end of The Book of Revelation we twice read the book’s prophecy is trustworthy and true (21:5, 22:6).

Deceivers claim they are telling the truth if they think they cannot be proven a liar. There are many false prophets for that reason. How can you disprove something that is future? (ex. “The sun will explode in the year 2030.”) The expert may stake his reputation on his prediction, but is his argument true, trustworthy and reasonable?

If I recall, it was the philosopher Blaise Pascal that said that it is more reasonable that something that happened before could happen again, then something that has never happened will happen for the first time. Also, the preacher in Ecclesiastes gave us this:

Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before… (3:15)

So, is it reasonable to think that the Church will be suddenly taken up in the rapture, if nothing like it has ever happened? Is it trustworthy to say the saints will escape the tribulation and be taken up to heaven if nothing of this nature has ever transpired? (Yes, I have heard of Enoch, but tell me, what tribulation was he escaping?) The pre-tribulation rapture is completely without precedent.

Is it reasonable to believe that Christ will come at any moment, without any signs, if no Scripture supports the claim? We are talking about “imminency,” the cornerstone of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture position. Are PTR teachers trustworthy if their “any moment rapture position” contradicts the One seated on the Throne (ex. Revelation 13:9-10), His Son (Matthew 24:29-31), as well as Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3).

Come let us reason together. Something that happened before will happen again–this age will end and the wicked will perish as they did in Noah’s day. (Was the construction of the ark not a sign of God’s announced judgment?) Saints, forced to undergo great hardship, always precedes God’s deliverance, not the other way around (ex. the exodus).

So how has an illogical, unreasonable and untrustworthy teaching captured the minds of smart Christians. It is because a trusted person said it was true. We are also willing to overlook the illogical arguments that prop it up. But Salvation is never without her escorts, Truth and Reason.

For a reasoned Biblical criticism of Pre-Tribulation Rapturism, order Lifesaver: Saving God’s People from the PTR Ship. (Booklocker.com, ebook or paperback)

Ready or Not

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! (Proverbs 6:6 NIV)

As a child, in the early evening, a favorite game at family gatherings with our cousins was “Hide n’ Seek”. Our home was ideal with trees, bushes and other wonderful places to hide. Our big maple tree served as home base. The person who was “It” covered their eyes, faced the tree and started counting. When they reached fifty they would shout “Ready or not, here I come!” When we heard “Ready or not” we would freeze in place. You did not want to be the first spied or caught. That meant you would be “It” the next round. What a thrill to race to the tree, touching it and yelling, “All-ee, all-ee in free.”

The game took some forethought. The time for hiding went fast, so you better have a plan before the counting started.  In life we do not have the benefit of a countdown. Things happen unexpectedly; things from which we cannot hide.

With the debate over when Jesus will re-appear, it may be overlooked that death could find us long before this age ends. Ready or not is the question. We all need to be ready, not for an “any moment” rapture, but for an “any moment” end of life.

This does not mean discussing the timing of Christ’s coming is irrelevant; it has total relevance. We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but it will matter greatly to survivors we helped prepare. Our test will be whether we are ready for either eventuality, and whether or not we love truth.

(The peril facing those who absorb Pre-Tribulation Rapture (PTR) “imminent return of Christ for his Church” teaching is that they will not be ready for “the Great Tribulation” (Daniel 12:1, Matthew 24:21, Revelation 7:14). God’s Word clearly states it will indeed happen, and that it must precede Christ’s return for his saints. (In our book Lifesaver we offer 24 Biblical and rational torpedoes that sink the PTR ship.)

The centuries old saying of Benjamin Franklin is true: “By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.” There is no guarantee we will live to see the thing we prepare for, but we are guaranteeing a disaster if we see the thing for which we are unprepared. So will we be ready for what Christ promised (The Great Tribulation) or not be ready because we paid no heed? Ready or not, it is coming!

 “…to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:17b)

Next time, we will look at some practical goals preparing us for the last days.

Contrived Arguments- Pt. 2

A whip for a horse, a halter for a donkey, and a rod for the backs of fools!  Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes. (Proverbs 26:3-4 NIV)

If you’re asking “Where’s Part 1?” my answer is I do not know. It vanished, at least for now. But, as promised, we will proceed with Part 2 of “Contrived Arguments” in hopes that Part 1 can be found. First, what are “Contrived Arguments”?  My definition is this: A contrived argument is a charge or accusation created from whole cloth or made up out of someone’s imagination. The purpose is to promote a larger, hidden agenda. For contrived arguments to work, they need a promoter and willing dupes who are inclined to believe their narrative.

We could offer scores of examples, but let’s pick one. One of the leading early members of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), Dr. Bernard Nathanson, was a powerful advocate for a woman’s right to a safe, legal abortion.  His conversion to Pro-Life is detailed in his book “The Silent Scream”. Dr. Nathanson reported how, from the inside, he participated in the contrived argument that “68,000 women die annually from complications of ‘backyard’ abortions. Therefore, to save lives, women need safe, therapeutic abortion.” Willing accomplices at the World Health Organization (WHO) and The Guttmacher Institute published graphs and statements to back up the NARAL story. Sympathetic media ran with it and the rest is history.

To explain how contrived arguments work, I want to repeat something written in a recent post. “The one who forms the argument, in all probability, will win the argument.” It is easy to figure out why. For one thing, it is impossible to disprove a negative, such as an accusation (ex. “How many times have you hit your wife?”) Challenging the fabricator will fail to convince anyone who is sympathetic to their cause. Also, the one who contrives the argument has the advantage of considering potential counter-attacks and preparing for them beforehand.

Let’s say I claim: “The Russians stole the 2016 presidential election.” Here’s another: “Fossil fuels are destroying the planet.” What about this one: “Modern Bible translations have corrupted God’s Word. The only reliable version is the inspired and infallible Authorized King James.” Try to rationally dispute these statements with an ideologue and it will probably result in frustration.

Here’s a popular contrived argument. “The Church will be taken up in the rapture before the Tribulation. Anyone who disagrees does not believe the Bible.” (The roots of this contrived story are in Lifesaver: Saving God’s People from the PTR Ship.) When the preacher pounds on the pulpit, becomes red in the face, holds his Bible in the air and yells the above, it tends to discourage honest debate. That’s the purpose. Unanswered propositions embolden the accuser so they feel wise in their own eyes.

Be aware of false narratives that have made their way into our culture—even the culture of the Church. Challenge them with Scripture, facts and rationality. You may not save everyone from believing contrived arguments, but you can at least save yourself from yielding to the lie. It is more important to stand for truth than it is to win the argument.

Pseudo-objectivity

Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many.”  (Mark 13:5 NIV)

As Papa ten Boom, Corrie’s father, said in The Hiding Place, “Just because a mouse is in the cookie jar, it does not make him a cookie.”

The “mouse in the cookie jar” was a reference to the their pastor. In his clergy garb, he had just counseled Papa and his two daughters, Corrie and Betsy, to cease their efforts on behalf of the Jews. The Ten Booms were defying their Nazi occupiers at great risk to themselves, by helping Jews escape Holland and almost certain death.

The Ten Boom’s shepherd spoke as though he was caring for his flock. He sat stoically, and appealed to their objectivity. But Papa Casper ten Boom told his minister, “The Jew is the apple of God’s eye. How can we, as a family, do nothing?”

Let history judge who was right. The names of the Ten Booms appears on the wall of “The Righteous Among the Nations”, an honor accorded non-Jews by the State of Israel presented to those who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews from extermination. Where might the ten Boom’s pastor have his name written? He might as well be nameless.

Beware of those who wear sheep’s clothing while making a pretense of objectivity. They are not sheep, but wolves. That is what Jesus warns about (above) in “The Olivet Discourse” (Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21). It is up to us not to be taken in or deceived by the claim they speak in Jesus’ name. They have an angle or a hidden agenda. Don’t fall for their false or pseudo-objectivity or bad things will happen.

The world is waking up to the state of modern journalism. Years ago the news media quit reporting the story. Instead, they began to skillfully fashion their reporting in order to form public opinion. Important facts that fail to support their version are omitted while others that do are embellished. What comes to us in the news props up their specific world view or stirs the controversy they seek. Forget objectivity. It is all a pretense, a sham. Except on rare occasions, journalism is pseudo-objectivity.

I was recently informed of a scathing “one-star” critique on Amazon of my 2013 analysis of Pre-tribulation Rapturism (PTR), “Lifesaver: Rescuing God’s People from the PTR Ship” (Booklocker). My first thought on learning I was pilloried in a review was a feeling of gratitude: “Thank you, nameless one, for taking time to launch your poisoned-tipped darts.”

No doubt the reviewer would name Jesus as his Lord and Savior, as do I. As I read what “my Christian brother/sister” wrote, I could visualize their guns blazing. The review, “a fizzer”, left me wondering “Why the deceit?” There was a pretense of a serious analysis, but serious it was not–nor did it analyze anything I wrote. There was a hidden intent; keep potential readers away.

By referring to what I wrote as “a rant”, the critic’s agenda was to torpedo a reasoned, Biblical analysis of PTR,  a widely-held Christian view of prophecy. In Lifesaver, I fired my torpedoes at ideas and thoughts in order to save people, not fire at people in order to save my ideas. I should not be surprised a loyal PTR soldier, disguised as an objective critic, went for my throat.

So, I ask, is pseudo-objectivity the best that journalism or that PTR can offer? I believe there are many who see through the deception. We better see through it or Jesus’ warning will be for naught. Such things are signs the deceived, like the Ten Boom’s pastor, are on the losing side of history.

In the Company of Whistle Blowers

In Acts 7:9-10, we find this: “These men began to argue with Stephen, but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke. Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, ‘We have heard Stephen speak words of blasphemy against Moses and against God.’ “

What did Stephen say that stirred the hatred of the opposition? Those who argued with him schemed to have him stoned to death using the false charge of blasphemy. It wasn’t simply what this Spirit-filled follower of Jesus said, but how he said it. He spoke the truth boldly. Stephen exposed the most powerful religious leaders of his day as wolves in sheep’s clothing.

A veteran newsman interviewed the U.S. president in 2012 asking questions the American leader did not like. Afterwards, the TV anchor was the subject of an audit by the tax collection agency of the U.S., the Internal Revenue Service. The same journalist was later fired from his job.

A reporter from a major cable news network covered a story that showed America’s president in a less than favorable light. Not long after, the reporter’s phones were wired with an eavesdropping device—as was his parents’ home phone. The wiretapping was ordered by the U.S. Dept. of Justice.

What did these men do to instill the wrath of the federal government? They both spoke the truth boldly. They are in the company of Whistle Blowers.

In reality, prophets are whistle blowers. They bring liars and hypocrites out of hiding. That’s what Jesus did. Christ blew the whistle on those who ran Jerusalem’s temple. Jesus as well as John the Baptist called them what they were, “a brood of vipers”.

There are poisonous snakes in our day, too. They may appear harmless but they spew venom. If anyone blows the whistle on them, they will hatch an evil plot to silence the blower or make them pay for being outspoken.

I’ve made up my mind; I’d rather be in the company of whistle blowers, than stand with those who revile them (Psalm 1:1). That’s why the book “Lifesaver”. That’s why this simple book will be loved by some, yet hated by those it exposes.  

“Lifesaver” discussion continued.

Question 12- What would you like readers of Lifesaver to take away from the experience?

 

Answer 12-I hope that they’d say the book was fair. I hope they appreciate the objective way I presented my case with Scripture. I hope they realize after reading Lifesaver that truth matters. I hope they can see that Christians can disagree without making the other side out to be villains. I hope they can process everything and be able to take a stand against popular opinion. And, I guess, I want them to know if a brother or sister supports the “any moment rapture” position, it doesn’t mean they have horns. It only means they do not fully understand what the Bible teaches or correctly interpret prophecy–therefore, they are in trouble of being deceived.