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August 20 & 27, 2001

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Q/A Topics:
Unbelievers in the assembly - Place Set Apart

READER QUESTION:
i passed this article along to my pastor and he commented on Paul's discussion of gifts of tongues and prophecy in 1cor 14 which seems to imply in the that unbelievers would be present in gatherings...?

VW ANSWER:
Since writing that commentary I have been through ch14 with the VW-Edition. Notice the words "set apart for" conveying the intended meaning that most translations miss.

1Co 14:16 Otherwise, if you praise in the spirit, how will he who occupies the place set apart for the unlearned say Amen at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say?

And, truly, this does not represent a contradiction. If you recall the second section of that file, it speaks of practical considerations regarding special classes to teach "seekers", and other similar things for youth. But unbelievers are not in the intimate company of Believers during worship and teaching. Unbelievers having a place "set apart" is as old as the O.T. with the "outer court" for Gentiles. (Ezek40,42,46, Rev11:2) because the unclean is not allowed in God's temple. (2Ch23:19)

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Paul keeping Jewish rituals when he taught otherwise?

READER QUESTION:
in acts 21,24 why does paul go ahead with what the elders tell him to do if it is against what he has been teaching?

[Editor: Paul shaved his head along with some others for ritual purifying according to Jewish custom)

VW ANSWER:
Well, in reality, it doesn't go against what he taught. Nor does it contradict his regular practice. Let us not forget that it was Peter who first went to Gentiles. (Acts10) And when a question came up about Gentiles keeping Jewish traditions, it was the Jerusalem council and Jacob (Jews) that decided that Gentiles did not need to keep them. (Acts15) And we also know that Paul was an apostle "to the Gentiles" (Acts13:46, 18:6, 22:21, Rom11:13, 16:16, Gal2:9) And his N.T. epistles are to Gentile assemblies. Thus, it would only be natural that he would teach 'Gentiles' that it was not necessary to keep Jewish customs.

But being a Jew, and following Christ's orders, whenever he traveled, he also always went to the Jewish synagogues 'first'. (Ac13:46, Rom1:16,) And it is recorded how he was trying to get back to Jerusalem for certain Feast on one occasion, because he "had a vow". (Ac18:18) This certainly illustrates where he said, "and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law, that I might gain those who are under the Law;" (1Cor9:20) In keeping the Law, he was "blameless" (Phil3:6) In other words, he kept the Jewish traditions. And as he is giving his defense before the governor, in the presence of the Jews who were accusing him, he says that he had gone to "Jerusalem to worship". (Acts24:11) In the context, we can understand that this was to worship 'as a Jew', because he goes on to say, "Now after many years I came to bring alms and offerings to my nation, in the midst of which some Jews from Asia found me purified in the temple, neither with a crowd nor with tumult." (vs17-18)

Paul kept/observed the Jewish Law, because he was a Jew. And Jews today who are Christians, if they are so-led, should not be condemned for observing Jewish rituals. That is part of their Godly heritage. And we know from prophecy that some sort of temple worship will be reinstituted again when Christ returns to reign...and there will be sacrifices.

Just as we know that baptism in water and observance of the Lord's Supper does not save, so too, Jewish rituals do not save. (Heb10:4) But we are immersed out of obedience, and observe the Lord's Supper in "remembrance" (Lk22:19, 1Cor11:24-25) The Jews have certain things which are "memorials" for them...such as Passover. (Ex12:14, etc) Just because a Jew becomes a Believer in Jesus Christ does not necessarily preclude them continuing to observe these 'memorials'. God was always telling Israel to "remember what Jehovah your God did..." (Deut7:18, 8:2, etc) These feasts were set up so that, among other things, they would 'remember'.

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Sinner's Prayer not valid?

READER QUESTION:
I'm coming to question the validity of "the sinner's prayer" because of some folks in the AOL chat rooms saying things like "God doesn't hear a sinner's prayer" and then blurting out Isaiah 59:1-2 and John 9:31 as proof of that belief. What's your thought on the subject?

VW ANSWER:
It depends on 'what' it is that they are calling the "sinner's prayer". If it is one of those "repeat after me" type prayers one typically finds at the end of tracts, or that a typical speaker leads the masses in from some platform, those prayers only typically ask Jesus to become one's friend, or the person is 'giving themself' to Jesus, or etc.etc.

But if it is the prayer Jesus said it should be, something with words similar to "God be merciful to me, the sinner" (Lk18:13), Jesus said that such a person will go "..to his house justified.." (vs14) "justified" is the definition of salvation. Being "justified by faith" and thus having "peace with God". (Rom5:1)

In the O.T. God spells it out: "Israel, return to Jehovah your God, for you have stumbled by your iniquity. Take words with you and return to Jehovah. Say to Him, Take away all iniquity and receive us with grace, that we may repay with the calves of our lips. Assyria shall not save us; we will not ride on horses. We shall not say any more to the work of our hands, You are our gods! For in You the fatherless finds mercy." (Hos14:1-3) As Jonah says: "Salvation is from Jehovah!" (Jonah2:9b) "..everyone who shall call on the name of the LORD shall be saved.." (Acts2:21)

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Comas and Life-support?

READER QUESTION:
Can you tell me is there Bible verses relevant for this situation. If the relative of a person who is in a coma and in the view if the doctor has no chance of recovery from this coma state agreed to disconnect the system.

VW ANSWER:
This is a question that I believe each person must search their own conscience before God. In the beginning it was 'God' who breathed life into Adam. (Gen2:7) "..He gives to all life and breath.." (Acts17:25)

On the flip side there is a determined "end" of life. "And as it is appointed for men to die once, and after this the judgment.." (Heb9:27) And this judgment has been planned since the beginning of creation. And man's lifespan has been determined at around 70 years. "The days of our lives are seventy years; And if by reason of strength they are eighty years, Yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; For it is soon cut off, and we fly away." (Ps90:10) Thus, death is part of our existence.

Personally, I find the whole field of medicine to be a dichotomy. If I had a broken bone, or needed stitches, I would certainly go to a hospital. I wear glasses and have fillings in my mouth. Doctors certainly provided those things. But where is that 'line' that we should not cross to where today's society attributes God's life-giving/sustaining attributes to men and science? Some people seek to extend their lives via technology "at-all-costs". As a result, it has spawned entire industries of harvesting body parts from people who die or donate, and those who were killed in abortions. Part of God's judgment against Babylon the Great is due to her merchandising in the "bodies and souls of men" (Rev18:13)

[Editor: and as this is being combined into this Q/A collection, the hot news lately is these various ones, from Italy and such, who are pronoucing that they 'will' produce human clones shortly. And the whole debates surrounding stem-cell research...the purposeful creating of human embryos for the purpose of killing them in order to extract what they need for their technology! ...and just 'now' as I'm getting ready to mail this out to you-all, G.W.Bush was on TV explaining that he is providing government funding for stem cell research...for the "60 lines" now existing. Well, they're dead already; so let's use them. And he closes by saying, "God bless America" ??? I don't think so!! ... Can America's judgment be very far off?!? Lord, help us all!!]

Anyway...back on track here... I cannot tell somebody else what they 'should' do in something like this, but can share what I 'would' do for myself. From the recent series on "Life is in the Blood" I have concluded that I would not receive a blood transfusion from a blood bank where 'strangers' contribute. That addresses the matter of the soul/life. It is interesting that the woman who had a disease in her blood "who had spent all her livelihood on physicians and could not be healed by any" (Lk8:43) comes to Jesus to be healed by Him. It is interesting to note that Jacob writes that if any is sick, he says nothing about doctors and medicine, but of how the Lord is the One who heals. (Jas5:14-15)

Since I have been relatively healthy my whole life, I have never had to address this. Were I to contract some serious illness, I don't yet know where that 'line' would be, where I would not seek the help of medicine. Even Paul had some sort of "thorn" which he contentedly lived with, which God allowed in his life to keep him humble. (2Cor12:7-10)

But in terms of life-support I have never questioned the matter... I have never been of a mind that I should be connected up in such a manner. When God says it's my "time", I'm ready to go.

To disconnect life-support is not an act of "killing". Since it is God who "gives life and breath" (Job33:4, Ac17:25) the procedure of connecting up such equipment in the first place, when it is not part of an operation where it is assumed that after the operation it will be disconnected again in a timely manner, might (might) be considered going beyond God's sustenance? Without it the person would now be dead. Such life-support seeks to extend a life that was at an end. As such, perhaps the disconnecting of it becomes an act of re-submitting to God's sovereignty? As Jesus breathed His last, "Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit." (Lk23:46) ??

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Clapping

READER COMMENTS:
What I'd like to mention is that many so-called evangelical churches today have become nothing more than "entertainment" centers. People are attracted to the church in many cases where the singers, musicians, speakers, etc., are "star" performers. So they listen, and afterwards "clap" wildly. One of the churches near me, Dr. David Jeremiah's church, Shadow Mountain Community Church, charged $18 a head to see the Sandy Patti Saturday night concert just a week ago. I always was taught that you go to church to worship - not be entertained. We know without too much research into this subject, that apostasy is taking place in a big way. We also know that in the latter days people will not heed to sound doctrine (2 Tim. 4:3) The charismatics (I call them "Carelessmaniacs") have done a lot of damage with their nonsensical ways and heresies. Maybe you would like to write on the subject of entertainment in the churches today. Back in the 60s, you didn't have all this clapping, and carrying on - now today, that's all you see when you go to church.

Well, I don't like to harp on negative things - especially today, but felt lead to bring up the subject.

READER QUESTION:
I'm wondering if you have ever dealt with the matter of "applause" in worship. It is my belief that applause began in the late 40's when Billy Graham brought Hollywood stars to his meetings. It then spilt over to the Youth For Christ Saturday night rallies and from there into the churches. Please let me know what your thoughts are on this. Before World War II, I cannot recall that churches ever applauded for special music. Of course, back then the music was not entertainment.

VW ANSWER:
No, I have not addressed applause as a specific entity. Only, in passing.

Yes, your memories are correct. As a child I remember that the thought of clapping in a service was about as anathema as reading something other than KJV. Just as, if a person did not pray in KJ-eze they were considered to be 'carnal' or 'immature' in the Lord, clapping was a 'clear' indication that such people were simply not as 'mature' in the Lord. [VW Editor: not saying that clapping and KJV-ism are in the same catagory with each other. They are not. But they were typically 'viewed' the same, in those days, by people claiming to be conservative Christians.] And it was the liberals and pentecostals who clapped. Then, along about the 60s (or so) I began to see the Southern Baptists would clap. The typical expression from the one at the pulpit was, "Let's give the Lord a hand". And as, more and more, the unbelievers proliferated in the churches, clapping has increased to where, now, I notice when I happen to tune in to a Billy Graham crusade on TV, when a speaker says something the people agree with, or think is 'clever', they applaud. And indeed, special music anymore does not conclude without applause... for the 'performer'...if they weren't already clapping (and stomping and wiggling/dancing) in time with the 'beat' of the music.

And this goes along with everything we always observe about today. While they call what they do "worship", it has shifted from true worship to the term the liberal churches introduced into christendom... "Celebration". While Scripturally, there were some occasions they "celebrated", days of remembrance, dedication of the temple, etc.; the preponderance in the O.T. is "worship", which in context involved the sacrificial system, which by definition was atonement for sin... confession and repentance. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart; These, O God, You will not despise." (Ps51:17)

As for clapping: as I do a search with OLB in the NKJV I find only 3 instances where clapping might be considered as part of praising/rejoicing. (Ps47:1, 98:8, Is55:12) There are 5 where it is in derision or rebellion. (Job27:23, 34:37, Lam2:15, Ezek25:6, Nah3:19) Once in crowning a king. (2Kg11:12) But the most telling is one that is mistranslated, and doesn't even appear as "clap" in most translations: "For You have forsaken Your people, the house of Jacob, Because they are filled with eastern ways; They are fortunetellers like the Philistines, And they clap hands [in worship] with the children of foreigners." (Is2:6)

This last item I grew up observing in Japan. The people would go to the temple/shrine and pray their prayers, throw their money or leave their offering, bow and 'clap' (ritually). I expect that 2Kg11:12 might have likely been this kind of ritual clap, too, rather than a continous "applause" like we do in our culture. While the verse doesn't say so, the eastern culture would have dictated that they also "bowed" to the newly annointed king. And so, it would not surprise me but what the clap would have also been a 'ritual' clap to accompany the bow. Steady applause does not really fit with the kind of bowing where one's face is nearly touching the dirt.

I saw this same 'clap' years ago when I was checking into the idea of taking karate classes, to learn self-defense. As the class I was standing in the corner observing came to a close, everybody (Americans) turned and bowed to the picture of the oriental "sensei" (teacher/master) of the martial art, that was on the wall, and they all clapped (ritually). In visiting with the instructor afterwards, when I asked, he said it was a show of "respect" toward that teacher. When I suggested that it was 'worship', he denied it. But having grown up as a child in Japan, I recognized it for what it was.

Having been a church musician in the past, I 'know' that today's applause is for the performer. When I was still doing it, the circles I was running around in were not yet quite to the stage everything is at today, so they did not "clap" for me. (If they had, I would not have allowed it!) But the comments and praise after the services was 99.999% of the form, "What a wonderful -voice- you have! You sing so well!" Ad nauseum. (Ezek33:32) But in the same way that verse closes, I usually got the sense that they did not receive the message of God's Word, even though I never 'performed' just to be performing. I never did anything musically that did not have a purposeful message to it.

And having been in other situations, I know that music is often used to "draw the crowds". "Famous" people are 'Hired' for outrageous fees. Back in 1980, a crusade in Bismarck, ND hired Tom Netherton at $4000.00 for one meeting!! People were invited to the crusades because "Tom Netherton" would be there..!! And yes... he received applause.

But considering some of the O.T. references to clapping being related to both derision, as well as heathen worship of idols, I have to wonder but what today's applause isn't satan's sneaky way of getting "clapping" into today's worship. Since unregenerate carnality drives 99% of what goes on in today's meetings, while people's 'flesh' is being titillated with the sensuality to clap as they 'feel good', I wonder if people are, thus (unbeknownst to themselves), also "clapping in worship" to those "eastern" gods? After all, most "worship" today (even in so-called "non-charismatic" churches) 'is' charismatic... and charismania has its roots in eastern Hindu, Buddhist, TM, Yoga, shamanistic, mantraistic spiritism. So... why shouldn't they clap! It's all part of the heathen package of "licentiousness" and "uncleanness" to which they have "given themselves over to" due to the "hardness of their hearts". (Eph4:18-19)

Well...I got carried away there. Sorry for such a long answer. 'Just started thinking "out loud". -smile-

But yes...music today is "entertainment". As I think about what I used to do; whenever I get the idea to think about maybe doing something similar today, I realize that there is NO WAY that I could. In fact, if I were pastoring a congregation, I would have serious reflection on the whole concept of "special music". I think in these days, if I was the group's leader, there would be NO special music... Probably not even a choir. Most church choirs are not "fit" (spiritually) to be 'leading'. There are usually so many egos and politics... everything that is opposite of true Christian humility and meekness. And how do I know this, you ask? I used to direct church choirs, too! Sigh!

ADDENDUM:
I wonder if the mistranslation of Is2:6 is another in a whole string of subtle deceptions of the enemy, IN ORDER TO have today's apostasy clapping? I don't know. I'm just thinking out loud here. In the current NKJV-fix project I am finding SO MANY 'tiny' things all over the place, even in the KJV which we have used for years and years, that when put together into a whole, pervert important doctrines. After all, both the NKJV & KJV come from Rome.

Perhaps your research will direct you into areas regarding ancient (and modern) eastern paganism and how clapping is related to it? My observations about Japan are just that..."observations". But I have never done any research into Shinto and/or Buddhism to know what the meaning of "clapping" is to their rituals. In doing an English term paper in Bible school (learning 'how to' write term papers) my topic was (by my choice) "Shinto". And in the research for that short report I discovered that so much of what I had grown up with, thinking it was "Japanese"... discovered that it was actually "Shinto". In other words, their culture -IS- their religion. I wonder if any research would uncover similar things about clapping?

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Christians Serving Military Duty?

READER QUESTION:
I was walking from school class today and there was litterally a tank parked near the "mall" area (the main section of campus). It was supposed to be there to help boost enrolement into R.O.T.C. And the questin struck me, "what about millitary service?" I have my whole life looked up to people in the millitary and have many times considered joining. Now I feel differently, wouldn't taking up arms go against everything Jesus taught us? I just thought it would help to get your perspective (as it usually does), and I didnt see the subject addressed on the site anywhere.

VW ANSWER:
The closest VW has come to addressing this can be found at the website... Click on "TopicSearch" and scroll down the 'left' box to "militias". While Jesus spoke of "turn the other cheek", that was more to do with personal reactions to those who would persecute, etc. But remember that Israel was instructed by God to carry on many military campaigns. David was a military leader. And as we are subject to the "higher powers" (our government), if we are called upon...we do our civil duty as faithful Christians. When Cornelius became a Christian (Acts10) he wasn't subsequently instructed to de-enlist from service to Rome's military. Military personnel need a Christian witness, too.

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Sickness to be rebuked?

READER QUESTION:
I have been reading your articles with a lot of interest, they have been profitable and edifying.

I'm interested in getting your understanding of infections or diseases, what are they and why do Christians fall sick, is sickness a demon that should be rebuked? I understand from reading the bible that for sicknesses Jesus would say be healed, but for demon possession, muteness etc He would rebuke the demons, can you please share with me your understanding of this matter.

VW ANSWER:
First of all, I would suggest a visit to the website, check out "Topic Search" and scroll down the 'left' box to "sickness"

Primarily, illness is one of the byproducts of the Adamic curse. "..for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die". (Gen2:17b) Infections and the destruction of cells/tissue is the process of dying. If you check out those links, you will notice how Jas5:14-16 indicates a synchronicity between 'sickness and sin' and 'salvation and wellness'. Many people see part of Christ's work on the cross as providing, also, 'physical' healing, "And by His stripes we are healed". (Is53:5b) And indeed, when a person becomes a True Christian, many are the testimonies of those who tore up their cigarettes and tossed out their various implements of drunkenness and drugs, etc.

However, just because a Believer gets sick does not necessarily equate with "sin in the life". Paul had some sort of physical ailment which he called a "thorn", which he prayed to the Lord about, but the Lord let him "keep" it, and he understood it to be a 'check-mechanism' from the Lord, lest he "be exalted above measure" (2Cor12:7b) due to the magnitude of the revelations he was receiving from the Lord. Let's remember that he wrote a major part of the N.T....and apparently he had a tendency to pride. So, he had a 'reminder' in his flesh to keep him properly humbled before the Lord in his service.

Thus, illness should not be assumed to be "demon possession". If it is illness, we can beseech the Lord for healing, and receive whatever is His will for us. Some disease (and death) is from the Lord as discipline for disobedience. (1Cor11:30) We need to "examine" (vs28) ourselves to be sure there is no sin in our lives. If our conscience is clear, then we would seek the Lord in terms of what He wants us to learn from the illness, or how He intends to use our illness for His glory. Sometimes illness is for His own glory. (Jn9:3) And if that is the case, we would accept it as faithful servants.

Demon possession is handled with "a word". (Mt8:16) "GO!!" (Mt8:32) "Away with you...!" (Mt4:10)

But let's never forget that, even though we become Believers, we are still "flesh and blood" (1Cor15:50), and as such, are characterized by "corruption" (vs53) of the "natural body" of "dust". (vs44-49) That is just part of being in this world until our Resurrection/Rapture.

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No Rapture? It's not in the Bible?

READER COMMENT:
If there is a rapture, why isn't it mentioned in the Bible? The Lord is going to rule on this earth, not rapture you off to Heaven. My God's arm is not short to where he has to come and steal you off the Earth and leave the sinners behind. If this is indeed true and there is a rapture "who's going"? Show me the word "rapture" in the Bible. If it's not there, that event does not exist. God is all knowing and wouldn't have forgotten to put the information in the Bible.

VW ANSWER:
The newspaper headline reads, "16 killed in explosion". or... "150 perish in airplane crash". So, now, as people are sitting around talking about the "deaths" of all these people; somebody comes along and says, "What -deaths-? What are you talking about? The news didn't say anything about "death". Show me the word "death" in those news articles. If the word doesn't exist, why didn't the newspaper give us all the correct information? There must not really have been any -deaths- because the newspaper didn't use the word "death"." Mmmm???

As for the Rapture, while the specific word "rapture" doesn't appear, please look up these verses for its definition:

"For this we say to you by the Word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with a shouted command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together at the same time with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord." (1Thessalonians 4:15-17)

"Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed; in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." (1Corinthians 15:51-52)

You see, when Jesus comes to rule 'on earth', He is coming "...and all the saints with You." (Zechariah 14:5) If the saints are "with" Him when He comes, they 'obviously' have to have gone to be with Him at some time 'prior' to His coming to reign.

Jesus promised His followers, "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." (John 14:3)

OK, so, like in the newspaper headlines "killed" and "perished" spoke of "death"; in the Scriptures "Rapture" wasn't there, but "caught up", "meet the Lord in the air", "be changed", "receive you to Myself" are.

Amen!

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Timing of the Rapture

READER QUESTION:
In you Q&A's this week end you talk of the Rapture and show some scriptures such as (1Thessalonians 4:15-17)as evidence of the Rapture. Many others use this scripture also. But when I read (2Thessalonians 2:1-8) it seems as if this event (caught up/gathered together) happens after the destruction of the man of lawlessness. Can you possibly reconcile the two letters to the Thessalonians and show how these 2 letters along with 1Cor 15:51-52 actually show a pre-trib rapture.

I personally believe in the pre-trib rapture but not on the basis of these two scriptures and would much welcome the evidence that you and so many others see in these particular scriptures.

VW ANSWER:
Please keep in mind that there are yet two events of Jesus' coming. His "...APPEARING and His KINGDOM" (2Tm4:1) If the ones in 1Th4:17 are "caught up" into the "clouds" to meet the Lord "in the air", that event is obviously an "appearance". Right? If the Believers are going up to meet Him 'there', He didn't come 'all-the-way' -TO- earth yet on that occasion. So, that event is not technically, yet, His "coming", because its result does not see Him 'on' the earth, ruling, having destroyed the wicked... yet. But Believers are "with Him".

Now, before the "lawless one" can be destroyed, he has to come on the scene. Right? It is when he is on the scene that Christ then comes to destroy him. When does he come on the scene? When is he "unveiled"?

We already see the "falling away" (vs3) happening. But the lawless one is yet being "restrained" until it is the right time for him to "be unveiled in his own time". (vs6) There is a very specific time frame which is appointed for him. And from Daniel ch9 we see that it is a seven-year period of time.

We already see "lawlessness" (vs7), but even that is restrained by the Holy Spirit, "until He appears from out of the midst". (vs7b) Notice that word "appear" again. At the present time the Church (true Believers) and the Holy Spirit have this union. (Rom8:9) Thus, knowing of 1Th4:17, we can also see in the Scriptural contextual whole, that when the Holy Spirit "appears from out of the midst", the Church is also 'appearing' from out of the midst...of the world with the Holy Spirit. (No, it's not a "secret rapture" where the Church is "slinking" away quietly in shame because it doesn't want to face tribulation. The Church age has -already- been characterized by affliction. Jn16:33, Acts14:22) Christ -APPEARS- and the HolySpirit-filled Church -APPEARS- out from the world to meet/join Christ.

Then we go to vs8. "And -THEN- the lawless one will be unveiled..." Now, just because the verse closes with his destruction, doesn't mean that that destruction happens 'when' he is unveiled. The verse's close merely defines 'who' he is. It says that he will be unveiled after the Rapture, and that this is the one who will be destroyed, when Christ comes. But knowing that this man has "seven years", we know that his destruction will be seven years after he is unveiled, at Christ's "coming/kingdom".

Let us not be confused. The Rapture is -not- Christ's "Second Coming". It certainly heralds the Seven-year period of time. But His "coming" is at the end of it all, when He makes an end to lawlessness, and sets up His rule "in righteousness". (Is16:5, 32:1, Zech8:8, Rev19:11)

But the Church is the body of Believers who are "looking for the blessed hope and glorious -APPEARING- of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ," (Tit2:13) The Church Believer's rewards are for those "..loving His appearing" (2Tm4:8) ...not "coming".

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"Rapture" defined

READER QUESTION:
Re the question about the word rapture not being in the Bible, I was under the impression that the Latin word for "caught up" is rapare. Is this a misconception on my part?

VW ANSWER:
Good point. It's time to define the word again. It's been several years since we have done so. I'm sure it's at the website somewhere under one of the Rapture links at the TopicSearch.

Best definition comes directly out of the dictionary:

Rapture

  1. The state of being transported by a lofty emotion; ecstasy.
  2. Often raptures. An expression of ecstatic feeling. See Synonyms at ecstasy.
  3. The transporting of a person from one place to another, especially to heaven.
[Etymology: Obsolete French rapture, abduction, carrying off, from rapt, carried away, from Old French rat, from Latin raptus. See rapt.]

Perhaps one reason so many have a problem with the Rapture, is because they think in terms of definitions 1&2? After all, it is those definitions that come into play in the 40-50's feel-good gospel song; the one that speaks of "..He never leaves me lonely, whispers O so kind...", also including the words "..rapture Divine.." And, indeed, the ones who seem to scoff at the Rapture the most, the charismaniacs, indulge themselves in "rapture" of the 1&2 variety, where they get "carried away" in their emotions and euphoria and ecstasy.

But the etymology (the 'origins') of the word come from French, from Latin; meaning "abduction, carrying off, etc" In declining the word, if I'm remembering my high school Latin correctly, wouldn't it be "raptus, raptare, etc"?? This original definition by which Believers use the word when they speak of being "caught up...in the clouds...in the air" to meet the Lord. (1Th4:17) It's not merely an emotional feeling, but an actual event where Believers will 'physically' be snatched away.

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Only a Few or "a multitude"?

READER QUESTION:
I'm just wondering, if Jesus tells us that a few will find the narrow path and the straight gate that leads to life, and in the parable about the wedding guests that "many are called, but few are chosen" [supposedly to be saved], then what's with the "great multitude which no one could number" of many nations in Revelation who have "washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb"? Or even in the parable of the wedding guests, only one person was singled out as not wearing a wedding garment? This really is confusing when people are suggesting that only a few people in comparison to the majority of the called will ever really be saved, yet even the "great multitude" [the saints who were born again during the Great Tribulation] doesn't make it sound like the number of God's followers into His eternal kingdom are going to be small.

VW ANSWER:
There is much about the book of Revelation that I think it would be safe to say that we would have to express as Daniel did after he had his visions, and even had them explained by the heavenly messengers. He says, "I heard, but I DID NOT UNDERSTAND.." (Dan12:8) If someone of Daniel's wisdom and stature was left baffled, who are we to presume definite knowledge of prophecy's specifics!?

Most people assume that when it says, "These are the ones who come out of great affliction.." (Rev7:14) that it refers to the 7-year period of time Scripturally known as Daniel's 70th week. Indeed, I have usually assumed that, as well. Many call the entire 7-year period, "the Tribulation". They assume that this great multitude are those who were saved during this 7-year period. This certainly 'may' be true.

On the other hand, just as Rev12:1~~ obviously contains historical content, and could be viewed as an overall historical synopsis of God's plan with Israel, Jesus' crucifixion, etc., it 'could' be the case that Rev7:14 speaks of the entire Church age, since Jesus did say that "in the world you have affliction.." (Jn16:33) and the Church age is one which the apostles strengthened the early Believers with the exhortation, "that we must enter the kingdom of God through many afflictions" (Acts14:22), the Church is a group of Believers who, having "counted the cost" (Lk14:28) to follow Christ, have endured affliction (of whatever its nature). If this latter is the case, then, certainly 2000 years of converts will have resulted in a multitude which "no one was able to number". (Rev7:9) But this would not render Jesus' words about the (proportionately) "few" who make it, void. Over 2000 years these "few" would add up to an innumerable company. But by comparison then, proportionately, how many are the lost over the same 2000 years? There are so many of them that Heaven searches high and low for every last one of them to be thrown into the Lake of Fire. (Rev20:13-15)

The fact that, by the end of time there is a great number of Believers, does not change the fact of what Jesus said, that -most- of those who have an appearance of being saved, are not. (Mt7:21-23) Never forget that, for all the earth's millions, only Enoch was raptured. Out of the world's millions, only Noah's "eight" came through in the ark. And His coming again will be just like the days of Noah. (Mt24:37) Think of whatever the population of Sodom and Gomorrah might have been, only "three" (Lot and two daughters) were saved. "As it was in the days of Lot" (Lk17:28) And Lot's wife, supposedly a 'believer' who lusted after the world, not wanting to leave, was destroyed in its destruction.

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