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March 4, 2001

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Q/A Topics:
False Prophets and the Rapture (March article)

COMMENTS/QUESTION:
One area where I would caution is where you make the following statement:


--Paste-
They are saying, alternately, that their will be NO RAPTURE, or that it
will come AFTER the 70th week is complete. And they wax eloquent about
how Christians need to be willing to go through the purifying that God
intends for them.

Well, let me tell you, you who believe this way... You who believe
these things CERTAINLY WILL go through the 70th week and God's wrath.
--endPaste--
A right understanding of eschatology is not requisite for salvation by grace through faith (Eph 2:8). A changed heart is required as evidenced by a changed life (John 14:15,21; James 2:18-24; 1John 5:1-4;). I can understand your underlying concern that prompts your statement above. It is a damnable thing to add to or detract from the Word of God, but I would use caution in condemning those who with honest intent have not yet grasped a full understanding of eschatology or any other doctrine not requisite to salvation. For instance, what if they are "Presbyterian sprinkled" and not "John the Baptist dunked?" If in their best understanding of the ordinance of baptism, they acted in faith to follow Christ, will God condemn them? Of course not! These are not saving doctrines. They are essential to a full understanding of God's purpose, but not essential to loving Christ by following His commandments.

If I'm missing something here, I welcome your correction.

ANSWER:
OK...it's time to re-issue a statement on this. Another one of these things that must be repeated periodically for those who didn't read it the other times due to being newer on the e-list, or they -just- 'missed' it, etc.

Quite correct... one's understanding of eschatology is not a "Salvation Doctrine", on one hand. And yet, on the other hand, one's understanding -can- indicate, as "works" do (Eph2:10, Jas2:26, etc), the true state of the person's soul/spirit.

God does not bring each Believer along at the same speed. We are not able to suddenly, once we are saved, understand ALL THINGS equally. We start out as "newborn babes" drinking the "milk of the Word". (1Pt2:2) And later as we mature, we are to be taking in "solid food". (Heb5:12,14) For you who are more mature, you may at times feel like these writings/mailings are awfully simplistic. There are many times I think they are, too. But when you consider that thousands of people are reading them, for every 'mature' Believer, there are likely dozens of "babies". And for many of them, these things are really "deep". And so, they are not able to receive meatier things. (1Cor3:2)

As many of you know, I was saved at age 5. But I was not fully convinced of Scripture's SURE TEACHING on what is termed "pre-tribulation Rapture" until I was 30. Up until that time I was like most people. This teacher says this, that teacher says that. I would hear them, and read their Scriptural 'support', and question it. I "tended to lean" in one direction, mainly because some teachers I respected most, believed it. But I had not been convinced IN-MY-HEART -from- GOD's WORD... yet.

It does no good to be "of Paul, of Apollos, of Peter..." (1Cor1:12) if the Word is not implanted in the heart on 'whatever' the subject may be.

These that VW proclaims against are those, not who are like I was until 20 years ago; but those who claim to know and are 'proclaiming' as though they were prophets. Some of them have had out-of-body experiences and seen visions of "God's love" streaming towards them in rays of light from "golden crosses", and all such other demonic things. They are seeing visions, but "not of God". The "Lord has not sent them; yet they hope that the word [they proclaim] may be confirmed". (Eze13:6) One such 'prophet' was proclaiming that the Oslo agreement in 1993 was the Dan9:27 "covenant", and that those intervening years (that have now come and gone) -were- the "tribulation", and was proclaiming who the antichrist was. Well, that person has now been proven to have been a False Prophet, because the seven years are up, and the Lord has not come "post-tribulationally" as the person was proclaiming, nor has his 'antichrist' become a world leader. I haven't heard WHAT this man may be proclaiming these days. I unsubscribed from his mailing list a long time ago. He's not the only one. I don't expose his name because there are -MANY- like him, and I hear from some of them periodically... wanting to "straighten me out". Next to charismania, it is one of the prime doctrines of the end times apostasy.

I don't get "hundreds" of e-mails daily, like some ministries claim to receive. (It's 'just right' as to what I am able to deal with. The Lord knows that, too.) But I go on percentages. And subscribers often inform me of the kinds of discussions they are involved in here and there, and in chat rooms, etc. And recently a good percentage of objections to the Biblical Rapture doctrine are from false prophets. They send lengthy treatises, taunting about "escapist theology" and spewing forth historical reminiscences of what other teachers have said, and will name-drop: MacDonald, Darby, Lindsey, Walvoord, Tommy Ice, etc. They will say that this doctrine "never existed" until these -people- introduced it. These that quote these -people- usually don't quote hardly any Scripture. They seem to base their faith on a kind of 'historicism'. They decide what they are going to believe, based on what other -people- believed...historically. That is DEADLY theology!!!

Those who do quote Scriptures, miss out on the primary, fundamental interpretational error we speak of often. They take the -physical- prophecies to/about Israel, and turn them around into -spiritual- teaching for the Church. The fact that there is a -physical- Israel over there in the middle-east RIGHT NOW, and that "all the nations" are taking up Jerusalem as the world-wide cause (Zech12), and that there is growing a sentiment that -somebody- is needed to arise and become the champion to bring about peace, should be proof enough that God's -physical- promises about Israel are yet being fulfilled. And it has nothing (directly) to do with the Church, except that, for the 70th week, which is a period of time for Israel and Jerusalem (Dan9:24a) to commence. the Church needs to be "out of the midst". (2Th2:7)

Recommended past reading:
Covenants and Dispensations: Wrath

So, Dear Reader:
If you are not a "false prophet", but have not yet been convinced by the Holy Spirit through God's Word...one way or another, do not worry about it. If your name is in the Lamb's Book of Life, when it's time for the Rapture, the Lord will see to your redemption. He has 'other things' He needs for you to learn -first-. Learn those... and don't worry about the tauntings of the false prophets. If you are faithfully in His Word, when it is 'His time' for you to know, He will see to it that you do, FROM THE SCRIPTURES. (That's how He revealed them to me.. what 'I' teach is not from books and commentaries of other people's ideas. It comes -only- from God's Word.) When a person learns to ride a motorcycle, they start out 'waddling' with the bike. They then have the buddy-push where the rider learns balance and the feel of the brakes at 'walking' speed. Learning how to stop with the back tire skidding doesn't come until after many hours of other skills have been learned first. Many of you are yet learning to shift smoothly, balance and negotiate turns. Don't worry about being "less of a Christian" if the Lord hasn't yet confirmed in your -own- heart the Truths about the Rapture. It will all come in due time.

Just like you didn't save yourself, you will not be Rapturing yourself by your own will or level of understanding. These are things which God is doing through Jesus Christ. If you truly belong to Him, you will be included when the glorious event occurs. Remember that Saving Faith is a 'child-like' faith. (Mt18:3) And even our Christian walk is compared to children, "..walk as children of light.." (Eph5:8)

What we speak of is this:
When a person has been fully convinced, and it is a "spiritual understanding" of things, the Holy Spirit only proclaims Christ's Truth. There is ONLY ONE TRUTH! (Eph4:4-6) There is not a "maybe", but let's have "contingency plans, just-in-case". He takes from Christ and reveals them to us (Jn16:13) through the Scriptures. (2Tm3:14-17) If a person 'believes' (in their heart) something, as a result of this process, that differs from Scripture, they obviously received it from a source OTHER THAN the HOLY SPIRIT.

The false prophets are "not looking for" Christ's return in the way Scripture proclaims it. Their portion is with the unbelievers. (Lk12:46) The Christian life consists of many things, keeping ourselves away from the things of the world, and "looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our Great God and Saviour Jesus Christ.." (Tit2:11-13) Remember, there are yet two events, Christ's 1) Appearing, and His 2) kingdom. (2Tm4:1) And the "crown of righteousness" is waiting for those "who have loved His -APPEARING-" (vs8) Peter urges "holy conduct and godliness" and what? "..looking for...the coming of the day of God..." (2Pt3:11-12) When He comes for His kingdom, it is in judgment; and He has "not appointed us to wrath" (1Th5:9) Those who are subject to His "wrath" do "not enter [His] rest." (Heb3:11)

When we say that the false prophets who proclaim otherwise -will- be going through the 70th week along with their "church", it is because God's Word says they will. Because they didn't believe His Word when they had the chance, they will be given "strong delusion" to believe the false. (2Th2:11) Those whom God had not sent, but were "hoping" their "futile vision" would "be confirmed/come to pass", God says, "..they shall not be in the assembly of My people, nor be written in the record of the house of Israel [the Saved], nor shall they enter into the land of Israel. (Eze13:6-9)

For you who want to scoff at this, and try to turn my words back upon me due to earlier comments about "Israel vs Church"...in Ezekiel's day the Church did not yet exist. The way a person came to God was to become a "Jew". Remember, true faith, even back then, was being a Jew "in the heart". (Rom2:29) We've already seen 2Th2, and 2Tm4 in the N.T. Here's another in addition to what's already been given...

"Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name? And then I will declare to them, I NEVER KNEW YOU; DEPART FROM ME, you who PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS!" (Mt7:21-23)

Amen!

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Rapture of Carnal Christians?

READER QUESTION:
I find myself wondering what you think will happen to all of those that are saved but are not living completely surrendered to a life of the cross, dying to selfwill and worldly lusts. These people are definitely saved - do you believe that these people will be caught up to meet a holy God and granted the same rewards and inheritance as those believers that are currently living a more sanctified life? How/Will they be "dealt with?"

VW ANSWER:
This is pretty much answered in 1Cor3:13-15. Have you also seen "Twelve Kinds of People"? There are actually some 'real' Christians (they are in the Lamb's Book of Life) who are so carnal that by just looking at them, one would assume they are not Believers. Their works will be "burned" and they will "suffer loss" ...but... they "will be saved, yet so as through fire". (1Cor3:15) The old expression, "saved by the skin of their teeth". They would not be candidates to be ruling "ten cities" (Lk19:17), but they will be in Heaven, nevertheless. While they may hang their heads in shame, it's still a better state than the Lake of Fire, eh!

Fortunately, the Lord knows "those who are His". (2Tm2:19) He knows us all down to our core "division of soul and spirit". (Heb4:12) This is another reason why it's a good thing Salvation is "not of works" (Eph2:9), otherwise, -none- of us would 'make it'!

Just like Salvation is not something we accomplish on our own behalf, with our 'own' faith (See: Q/A: Salvation: Whose faith? -Eph2:8), the Resurrection and Rapture is not something 'we' do, either. Regarding the Resurrection Jesus said, "I will raise him up at the last day" (Jn6:40,44,54) and regarding the Rapture, "I will come and receive you to Myself" (Jn14:3) This even included Peter, who would deny Jesus in only a 'few hours' after Jesus said this.


Whose holiness? (Follow-up)

READER COMMENT:
The reader says: they are definitely saved. My response: Not if their lives are characterized by those things. "Without holiness no man will see the Lord".

VW ANSWER:
Whose holiness is it that gets us to Heaven? By our works? Salvation is "not of works". (Eph2:9) It is the "Spirit of holiness" (Rom1:4) Who indwells us. (Rom8:9) God's call of us was "in holiness" (1Th4:7). It is "His holiness" of which we partake. (Heb12:10) Yes, our works 'manifest' our faith (Jas2:18). But the holiness which gets us to Heaven is God's which is part of that "gift". (Eph2:8) If it is -our- holiness, that becomes "works", again. Salvation is -NOT- of works!

READER COMMENT:
VW says: 1 Cor 3 supports this.

My response: 1 Cor 3 is not talking about the Christian and his works, but rather the minister/worker and his converts, ie, it is talking about the minister who is a true brother but his preaching is so shallow that his converts are false [wood, hay] and are burned/lost. Note: v. 9, "YOU [converts built upon the apostolic teaching, doctrinal foundation] are God's building". The converts are the minister's works here. "You are my work", 9.1.

VW ANSWER:
In that chapter Paul is talking to/about "..carnal, as to babes in Christ". (vs1) He is talking about the "building", which they were. They were carnal. In one case the instruction was to turn a sinning member over to "Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit MAY BE SAVED in the day of the Lord Jesus". (5:5) In another case he informs them that much of their sickness and death was due to abuses surrounding the Lord's Supper. (11:30) You see, there are some Believers who are so carnal that the Lord deals with them in discipline. But notice that "the spirit may be saved". But it is a sin "leading to [physical] death". (1Jn5:16-17) But the person is saved, "yet so as by fire".

He is -NOT- talking about "preaching" that is "shallow". (I don't know how such a thought can be manufactured out of that chapter. It doesn't say that!) He is talking about THOSE-WHO-FOLLOW -men-... "I am of Paul...I am of Apollos". (3:4) He is talking about "CARNAL" Believers. If you want to apply this to Paul's works (shallow preaching?), or attach blame for their carnality to Apollos (Apollos was "eloquent" and "mighty in the Scriptures" -Acts18:24); then, you need to also lay the fault/blame on God's doorstep, because he says, "..but God who gives the increase". (vs7) So, if they are barely making it "yet so as through fire" ...it is "-God's- fault"! ... Mmmm???

I DON'T THINK SO!!!

When it comes time for judgment "..each of us shall give account of -himself- to God." (Rom14:12) Like the old song says, "not the deacon, not the preacher, but it's me, Oh Lord... standin' in the need of prayer..."

Again...salvation is "not of works". The holiness by which we are saved is 'God's' holiness which is given to us as His "gift". We don't always live "hol(ily)" as we should because we are yet "flesh and blood" (1Cor15:50) and as such are yet full of "corruption". (vs53-54) While we are saved "of the Spirit" (Jn3:8), these bodies are yet "in dishonor". (1Cor15:43) Thus, the level of holiness by which we live is not what saves us...it is GOD's HOLINESS which saves us. We have "..become the righteousness OF GOD in [Christ]." (2Cor5:21b) We aren't always "saint(LY)", but we are "called saints". (Rom1:7) We are "the called of Jesus Christ" (vs6) just as Israel was declared by God's 'entitlement' God's "elect". (Is45:4) Saint(LY) is -our- efforts. Saint is positionally -God's- 'gift' to us through Jesus Christ by 'imputation' (Rom4:24) "in the heavenlies". (Eph2:6)

Amen!

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Why am I not persecuted?

QUESTION:
Can you shed any light on why I do not feel any persecution other than the daily struggle of repentence, prayer, and staying in the Word? Or is persecution more commonly that effort to distract me from fellowship with Jesus Christ? I just don't feel any direct frontal assault that I can attribute to my faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. In other words, nobody is calling for my head, or threatening to throw me in jail, or anything like that over the cause of Jesus Christ. Any thoughts?

ANSWER:
I can't tell from your address 'where' you are writing from. But you obviously are not living in a heavily catholic, muslim or communist country. When Jesus said, "In the world you will have tribulation.." (Jn16:33) He doesn't specify the "form" it will take. Now, in vs2 He speaks of "put you out of the synagogue" and "kill". But He also says, "Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you and 'SAY' all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.." (Mt5:11)

The early Church had periods of time when they were "scattered" due to persecution. (Acts8:1) But then, they also had times of "peace". (Acts9:31) The Church of Smyrna was exhorted to "be faithful until death" (Rev2:10) and the one from Philadelphia had an "open door". (Rev3:8) And even during Paul's ministry, he had times when he was assured of safety with, "no one will attack you to hurt you.." (Acts18:10) while he was at Corinth; but then, from many other accounts we know he received MUCH persecution at other places and times.

Not everyone receives the same amount and kind of persecution. Why? Who knows. God does. Each Believer fulfills his/her spot in God's kingdom. Now, if absolutly 'EVERYTHING' about your life is smooth, and you never cross anybody...you are getting along peacefully with everybody, and 'in agreement' with everybody...then, you might want to see if everything is right between you and the Lord, because Jesus also said, "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did the fathers to the false prophets." (Lk6:26) If absolutely everything is utterly hunky-dory with everybody, then it is likely the case that something in your life needs "fixing" between you and the Lord.

But the "cross" we are called to bear to follow Christ is not the same for everyone. People dwelling in relative peace should not overly emulate those who are being grievously tortured for their Faith in Christ. Nor should one who is suffering greatly, look down upon someone who is at relative peace. Jesus also had an exhortation regarding that, "If I will that [this other Believer blah, blah, blah], what is that to you? YOU FOLLOW ME." (Jn21:22)

"Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves..." (2Cor13:5a)

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Going to weddings, funerals in satan's churches?

QUESTION:
Could you answer me this? If we are commanded not to have any thing to to with the things of 'DARKNESS; then why do Christians go to weddings,funerals, that take place at satans churches? is this not partaking with them, I see guilt with association. Please take your time to answer ,i respect your opinion. thank you . your brother in 'CHRIST'

ANSWER:
You ask, "is this not partaking with them?" You are most certainly correct. Perhaps one way to answer the "why" is from my own past.

As a college music major who was proficient in several instruments as well as majoring in voice, I put myself through school teaching piano lessons. I also became known around (that) town for being available to play organ for weddings and funerals, and singing solos for same. My collection of music and organ shoes were always 'at-the-ready' to provide these services. If I were to guess, I would say that half of those engagements were in various catholic churches. [Editor: it's interesting to watch what the priests do after the wedding party is mostly out, while the postlude music is still required! They looove to finish off the rest of -all- that wine in the goblet!]

I also used to play organ/piano for various ecumenical (multi-denominational) meetings, including the piano one day for the plenary sessions at Urbana '70 (I was in college then). Some were OK, but others were definitely not.

Why did I do it? Why did I even 'attend' Urbana? Why did I work in other churches as music director? Why did I work briefly at a religious radio station that was labeled "Christian"? I was a Christian since age 5. And even with my present understanding of things, looking back on that time... I was MOST DEFINITLY a child of God. So... why?

For me...it was "deception" and lack of maturity. I hadn't yet experienced all the things that I have now. I was only 'beginning' to experience them. Those things which have brought me to my present understanding of things. Were I back in those days now, I likely wouldn't even be a music major. Or, at least...not a voice major...where the main choral staple is catholic-based "church" music. Back then I thought that 'most' of the people in the churches I fellowshiped in were Believers. Now, I realize they were not.

So...what about 'practical' matters. A family member is getting married, and they are going to walk up the steps of the pagan altar to stand before the priest/preacher to have their union "blessed" in "the church" before "the gods", and then as they leave, everybody casts the 'spirits of fertility' upon them with the rice. Do you become the family "outcast" and not go? Do you go, and compromise with what you understand to be a pagan institution?

A family member dies, and their casket is wheeled down the aisle as the priest waves the incense canisters back and forth with much pomp. He has, "hopefully", given them the "last rights" and they, of course, have prayed to Mary to be with them "at the hour of their death". They have just performed a mass for their benefit to keep their stay in Purgatory as short as possible. Do you go to such a funeral/mass/requiem?

Can a True Believer into Jesus Christ darken the doors of such places and be justified in doing so? Is it possible to show support, but not participate in their "unfruitful works of darkness"? (Eph5:11)

Paul and the other missionaries, as they traveled about, went first to the Synagogues. Now, if we remember, Jesus had some rather scathing remarks about the scribes and Pharisees, calling them vipers and hypocrites, and referring to them as "white-washed tombs" which were full of "dead men's bones", and that they were of their "father the devil". When Paul was persecuted, the persecutions were always stirred up by unbelieving Jews...from the very synagogues to which he went. Jesus said of these that they "have not known the Father nor Me." (Jn16:3) And yet, Jesus and the apostles went to the synagogues.

And regarding a more blatantly "pagan" situation, as Naaman has just been healed of leprosy, and has come to trust in the Most High, he expresses that his obligations back home in Syria are going to require his attending worship in the "house of rimmon" with his master; and Elisha tells him to "go in peace" (2Kg5:18-19) in the matter.

We are instructed to "rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep" and again, "if it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men." (Rom12:15,18) I expect there are some situations where "making a stink" could be more detrimental to the cause of Christ, than quietly "being there" with/for the people in question. If a person has died, and family/friends are grieving...if a Believer is not there, and those people are crying out, "Why!!!", that Believer cannot "give an answer" regarding the "reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear". (1Pt3:15) One has to "be there" (be available), and in that manner be "all things to all men" (1Cor9:22), in order to be able to give such answers, and hope to "save some".

It is possible to be in (for example) a catholic church, and not 'partake' of the mass. One can "be there" for those in need, without 'participating' in their "works of darkness".

No...I would never again play organ for a catholic wedding. I would not sing "Ave Maria" for a catholic funeral. [Editor: not 'picking on' catholics here. Just following up how I began this answer, of my own past experiences in doing these things in catholic churches. Facts are facts.]

I think the Believer needs to evaluate "why" they are going. Is it "necessary" for them to be there? In some cases it is. In others, it isn't. Those kinds of situations are a bit different from regular "worship" and fellowship. Most pagans who would never darken a church door during most of their life, at least try to get married and buried in a "church". I expect there is a bit of "let each be fully convinced in his own mind" (Rom14:5b) to this... And whatever the person decides to do, do it "from faith". (vs23)

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