Thursday, May 21, 2009

What's Wrong With Being a 'Date-Setter'?

Thomas Ice has a problem with it. So does Pastor Joseph R. Chambers of Paw Creek Ministries, who asserts that "we are forbidden to set dates."

Oh, really?

I find it interesting that there was a specific date set for Jesus' first coming, and He held the Jews responsible for knowing it. Jesus rode into Jerusalem in fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9 exactly 483 years TO THE DAY after the decree by Artaxerxes to rebuild the city, just as Daniel said.

Brother Ice "supports" his position with scripture:

Matthew 24:36 "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. Mark 13:32 is an exact parallel.

Matthew 24:42 "Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.

Matthew 24:44 "For this reason you be ready too; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.

Matthew 25:13 "Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour. Mark 13:33-37 is a parallel passage.

Acts 1:7 He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority;

1 Thessalonians 5:1-2 Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.

Sorry, but I see no support here. I see neither a COMMAND nor any prohibition; simply statements of fact that were true when uttered, and applied to those to whom spoken. The fact that they don't know doesn't mean that WE can't know, that we won't find out, or that we are forbidden to search for the answer. Nor do I see a refutation of Amos 3:7

Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.

David Jeremiah recently pointed out that we probably know more about the book of Daniel than Daniel did. The prophecies concerning the end times were a 'closed book' for much of church history, but these things are for us to know in our time. Mapping current events to Bible prophecy is what the command to "Watch" is all about, and extrapolating to particular windows of time is hardly inappropriate.

I concede that Edgar Whisenant and many others have given themselves black eyes by making predictions that were inaccurate. But it does not logically follow that, because one or a hundred students of the Word make errors in their study, that the rest of us should stop watching and stop warning.

Is a watchman who won't warn any better (or any worse) than a watchman who won't watch?

The king has departed on a long journey. He has given instructions to watch for his return. Does the watchman fulfill his duty by simply reminding the people that the king will return? If he does not know exactly when the king will return, does this excuse him from being at his post?

And if he sees -- off in the distance -- something that indicates the king may be returning, should he announce it? Or should he "wait and see"? If he sees all the signs of the kings approach but does not see the king, should he proclaim it? If he thinks he knows when the king will arrive, should he say so?

Jesus told us to "watch and pray." Just what did He mean by that? Did He really mean "wish and pray" or "hope and pray"? What does "watch" REQUIRE us to be doing?

Perhaps it means watch for the signs that He said would immediately precede His return. If that's true, they why are so many Christians so ignorant of the signs, and so ignorant of what is going on in the world? Are we being .... disobedient?

If we love Him, we are to keep His commandments. Did He command us to "watch"?

I'm a date-setter. I have nothing to gain if I am right, and plenty to lose if I am wrong. But I believe that both current events and prophecy are pointing at Pentecost 2009 as the day of the rapture of the church, and I believe Jesus' command to me to be a watchman REQUIRES that I proclaim my conclusions and how I reached them.

His command also requires some due diligence on the part of those who hear what I have to say.

See you on Saturday.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Final Note on Corrie Ten Boom

I took some heat for my previous post because I mentioned Corrie Ten Boom in what one reader thought was a "malicious" way. So it wasn't general heat; just one miffed brother. Except for that, the response to my theme -- that "the problem is that the professional clergy does not prepare the saints for ANYTHING." -- was overwhelmingly positive.

So let me briefly clarify: Corrie Ten Boom had a ministry of reconciliation, mainly for Europeans in the aftermath of World War II. I cannot and do not judge her, nor do I, did I, or did I intend to "malign" (malign: having or showing intense often vicious ill will: malevolent) her or her ministry. However, I was and remain unwilling to give her a pass for what I consider shabby eschatology. Nor can I countenance the vilification of Christians who see the reasonableness of a pre-trib rapture. I am not asserting that Corrie did so, but it appears that she considered pre-tribbers to be "heretics." I believe that rises to the level of vilification.

I stand by my comments regarding the "celebrity Christianity" that seems to characterize much of American-style "Christianity" but I cannot include Corrie in that, since she apparently did not aspire to "celebrity" status and, in any event, she was not an American. She had a ministry, and she served with genuine humility, always seeking to glorify her Savior. Would that more of us would follow her example.

The negative feedback I got began with my being accused of dishonesty, and descending from there. My dialog with my detractor has hopefully resolved our differences, and it would be inappropriate to post it here. Suffice it to say that I hope this suffices.

'Nuff said.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Rapture and Corrie Ten Boom

In A History of the Early Church & Post-Tribulation Doctrine, author Richard Perry presents his defense for the post-tribulation eschatology, and buttresses his arguments with the opinions of the late Corrie Ten Boom.

First things first - if the pre-tribulation rapture is true, then it would be wrong to withhold it from Christians, to label it as false, or to marginalize it or vilify those who proclaim it. If it is true, it is God's truth, and God's truth -- ALL of it -- belongs to ALL of God's people.

Let's be clear on what it is that we believe: that there is a prophesied specific time of extreme tribulation that will affect the entire earth during the very last years before Christ's visible return to establish His Kingdom and begin to reign on the throne of David, and that Christians who are alive when this particular period of tribulation begins will be removed from the earth beforehand.

THAT is the pre-trib rapture position, and to attempt to make it apply to ALL hardship and ALL tribulation throughout the entire "church age" is to misrepresent the eschatology. Yes, Christians will be persecuted ... but to a point. The church has endured persecution and tribulation since Jesus left. All we're saying is that the final seven years of tribulation are not for the church.

That being said, let us consider for the sake of the argument that Christians will NOT be spared. Let's say they must prepare themselves spiritually for end-time tribulation. Just what does this "preparation" look like? How should the Christian proceed?

I would suggest that, first of all, the Christian deal with all known sin. Repent! When appropriate and possible, make restitution! Clean up your life - identify and discard every bad habit, every evil vice. Get all the garbage out of your home and out of your life. Get your prayer life on track; live by faith. If you are facing hardship, and especially hardship directed at you by an anti-Christian world that wants to destroy your faith, it would seem that your optimal preparations would be quite clear. You need to get your faith established. If you are being persecuted, you sure don't want sin in your life to get between you and God.

BUT - if you look at my suggested activities, you will see that they are exactly the same as I recommend for those anticipating the rapture. In other words, whether we live or whether we leave, we are the Lord's. Preparing for the rapture also prepares you for hardship.

The problem is that the professional clergy does not prepare the saints for ANYTHING. Many "believers" have such a casual view of sin that they see no need to deal with it; they think the rapture is a come-as-you-are party, and that spots and wrinkles, or even the total absence of a wedding garment, are nothing to be concerned about. "Jesus loves me so much that sin doesn't matter! Let's party down!!" I personally know people who consider themselves Christians who refuse to believe in the imminent rapture ... and also refuse to believe in imminent tribulation! They think things are gonna stay about the same, or eventually get better again.

I think Miss Corrie mis-identified the problem. At least she's correct in stating that there is a problem. But the problem is not Pre-trib eschatology, but American ecclesiology. The American way of "doing church" doesn't prepare anyone for much of anything. Going to a building and having someone lecture you for 45 minutes every Sunday morning is not the abundant Christian life. Singing hymns only equips you to sing hymns. Listening to "professional" Christians equips you to listen. Participating in the "Christian" youth group equips you to play video games or go to a theme park. Practically NONE of the Christian busy-work in American-style churches equips the saints for the hard work of living for Christ in a world that hates Him. Instead, we have embraced "Pagan Christianity." Most of the folks who I know who ARE equipped grew up at home on their own. They started their own small group, did their own Bible study or otherwise started taking their Lord very seriously. Very few are equipped or even encouraged by their "church leadership."

And Corrie allowed herself to become part of the problem. She has allowed herself (may she rest in peace) to become a "Christian celebrity." That's how we "do church" here. Most of us just spectate. Christianity, for many, is just another item on the "To Do" list that is checked off on Sunday morning. We want celebrities: the big name preachers and the big name musicians and the notorious sinners who got saved ... or the concentration camp survivors. The thing that gets left out is God's grace. Corrie endured the camp by grace; the same grace that holds my life together. But we prefer celebrities ... just like the world.

I agree that most American Christians are unprepared for either rapture or tribulation. The problem is not with the eschatology, however. It's with a liturgical, organizational (rather than organic) religionized Christianity that does not allow for the equipping of the saints, mainly because it strips Christ of His proper headship and replaces Him with Christian celebrities and professional clergy.

Final thought: Pre-trib rapture belief is not a heresy. Heresies mis-represent God and replace God-centered priorities with man-centered ones. Much "prosperity theology" is heretical because it posits that the comfort of man is paramount to holiness. "Family-centered" ministries also err in placing the "needs" of the family before our duty to love and serve God. Most of the pre-tribbers I know love God first and foremost; many have lost relationships with family members because they love the Lord first. The real heresy in this argument is the heresy that the body of Christ is an organization run by professionals, rather than an organism headed by Christ.