Why Bible Prophecy Should Be More Important To The Church Today

This is a study on Bible prophesy contributed by my friend Brad White.  The study of prophesy is a very vital topic for our times, and this issue is one that is downplayed much by the emergent church today.


When I bring up the subject of the Rapture of the Church to my friends and others, it seems I find myself answering the same question.  It is answering the question of why the word rapture isn’t in the Bible if there’s going to be one.

Did you know that the word Bible isn’t in the Bible either?

One of my favorite Bible passages concerning the rapture is 1st Thessalonians 4:16-18: (NLT)

16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died[h] will rise from their graves.

17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever.
18 So encourage each other with these words.

Nowhere in this passage do we find the word rapture, but is it there? Yes it is.

The phrase “caught up” is harpazo in the original Greek text. When the Greek text was translated into Latin, the word harpazo was translated into raptus, rapiemur and rapturo from which we adopted an English version of the Latin words and came up with the word rapture as a term descriptive of the Lord’s catching up of the saints.

Simply because the word rapture isn’t found in English translations of the Bible doesn’t mean the event isn’t described in the text.

If we believe the Rapture will take us away before all the End Times events occur, then why do we need to study prophecy?

Is bible prophecy really important? And if so, how important? And aren’t people who expend more than a passing moment examining bible prophecy simply uneducated crackpots and lunatics yearning for the destruction of the world? These are just a few of the questions bombarding today’s Christians when it comes to the study of bible prophecy.

That bible prophecy is irrelevant to the Gospel or a mere playground for the mentally unstable is a message we constantly receive from the media, pop culture, and many so-called church leaders. It’s unfortunate, because this false image of bible prophecy has succeeded in turning many Christians away from the Gospel. Although recent history is marked by an untold number of date setters and false prophets claiming to speak for God, this is no reason to ignore bible prophecy. Such people were never true Christians, but rather enemies of God in disguise.

So instead of relying on the words of ministers, priests, journalists, and other humans, let’s examine the primary source. Here’s what the bible says about prophecy, including every verse of God’s Holy Word:

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right. It is God’s way of preparing us in every way, fully equipped for every good thing God wants us to do.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT)

The word “all” includes bible prophecy, and that’s good, considering more than 25% of the bible is fulfilled or yet to be fulfilled prophecy. Why is so much of the bible dedicated to prophecy? There are many reasons, but in the end, there is only one purpose: to direct the attention of the human race to Jesus Christ.

“For the essence of prophecy is to give a clear witness for Jesus.” Revelation 19:10 (NLT)

Previously fulfilled prophecies lend unprecedented credibility to the bible’s claim to be the Word of God, and the Messianic prophecies fulfilled by the birth, ministry, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus of Nazareth authenticate his claim to be the one true Christ. In essence, bible prophecy is the most powerful witness to the divinity of Christ. So don’t listen to those who claim that bible prophecy distracts us from the true Christian mission. Quite to the contrary, all bible prophecy points to Jesus Christ Himself.

Jesus Instructs Us

Despite its many detractors, the study of bible prophecy is an essential aspect of proper Christian living. The Lord Himself expected his disciples to carefully examine the Word of God and to be prepared for His return:

“So be prepared, because you don’t know what day your Lord is coming.” Matthew 24:42 (NLT)

In fact, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for not recognizing the signs of the times, for the religious leaders of His day had full knowledge of the prophecies of the Messiah, yet they still chose not to believe in Him.

“One day the Pharisees and Sadducees came to test Jesus’ claims by asking him to show them a miraculous sign from heaven. He replied, ‘You know the saying, ‘Red sky at night means fair weather tomorrow, red sky in the morning means foul weather all day.’ You are good at reading the weather signs in the sky, but you can’t read the obvious signs of the times!’” Matthew 16:1-3 (NLT)

Jesus expected the people of His day to fully recognize and eagerly await the time of His first coming. As we patiently await His second coming, he holds our generation to the same standard of accountability.

There are many reasons for the Lord’s repeated command to study bible prophecy, but three of the most significant are found below:

1) Authentication of the Bible

Bible prophecy offers the clearest indication that the bible is the verifiable Word of God. Yet despite the millions of people who attend church and synagogue every week and the existence of countless books on the subject, most people are simply unaware of these prophecies. They feverishly search through the writings of Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, the Koran, and countless other “sacred texts” in hope of finding a profound truth or revelation concerning the future, only to be disappointed time and again.

Somehow, the most credible source of information on future events, the Bible, escapes notice. Yet the fulfilled prophecies of the bible are backed by mountains of historical data, archaeological evidence, and the staggering mathematical probability of their occurrence merely being the result of chance. No other source of historical knowledge can make the same claims, and for good reason. No other source is the inspired Word of God.

“And do not forget the things I have done throughout history. For I am God – I alone! I am God, and there is no one else like me. Only I can tell you what is going to happen even before it happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish.” Isaiah 46:9-11 (NLT)

The very definition of God includes His unique ability to see from the distant past to the distant future, from the beginning to the end. He alone can foresee world events with 100% accuracy centuries in advance. The apostle Peter testified to this fact:

“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophets themselves or because they wanted to prophesy. It was the Holy Spirit who moved the prophets to speak from God.” 2 Peter 1:20 (NLT)

Unlike other sacred texts that claim divine origin, the bible can point to its unprecedented track record in foreseeing future events. This is because the bible is not the product of imaginative men, but rather the testimony of prophets who were moved by the Holy Spirit to speak from God. Fulfilled prophecy authenticates the bible, proving it to be the Word of God. For this reason alone, bible prophecy is worth every iota of our attention.

However, when it comes to spreading the Word of God, there is no greater tool of evangelism than bible prophecy.

2) Assistance in Spreading the Gospel

One of the easiest and most natural methods for spreading the Gospel is the sharing of bible prophecy. In fact, in the early days of the Church, sharing of fulfilled bible prophecy was the primary method for spreading the Gospel. On the day of Pentecost, Peter gave a rousing speech in Jerusalem in which he cited fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies as clear proof that Jesus was the long awaited Messiah (Acts 2:14-42). This speech led to three thousand people devoting their lives to Jesus Christ. Later in the same book, we learn the story of Philip and the Eunuch, in which Philip uses a fulfilled prophecy from the Book of Isaiah in order to explain the Gospel to an Ethiopian traveler (Acts 8:26-39). These are just two of many instances in which the early church emphasized bible prophecy as a tool for evangelism.

In one of the New Testament books which bear his name, Peter underscores the important role of bible prophecy:

“For we were not making up clever stories when we told you about the power of our Lord Jesus Christ and his coming again. We have seen his majestic splendor with our own eyes. And he received honor and glory from God the Father when God’s glorious, majestic voice called down from heaven, ‘This is my beloved Son; I am fully pleased with him.’ We ourselves heard the voice when we were there with him on the holy mountain. Because of that, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. Pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a light shining in a dark place – until the day Christ appears and his brilliant light shines in your hearts.” 2 Peter 1:16-19 (NLT)

In Peter’s words, bible prophecy is “like a light shining in a dark place.” Bible prophecy provides us with confidence in the coming glory of Christ and the necessary hope to see us through the daily rigors of life until that day appears. He further proclaims his confidence in the words of the prophets, both fulfilled and unfulfilled, because he has witnessed firsthand the authenticity of the scriptures.

Therefore, we should afford the utmost respect for the words of the prophets, and rejoice in the fact that we are able to understand their fulfillment in the life of Christ:

“This salvation was something the prophets wanted to know more about. They prophesied about this gracious salvation prepared for you, even though they had many questions as to what it all could mean. They wondered what the Spirit of Christ within them was talking about when he told them in advance about Christ’s suffering and his great glory afterward. They wondered when and to whom all this would happen. They were told that these things would not happen during their lifetime, but many years later, during yours. And now this Good News has been announced by those who preached to you in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.” 1 Peter 1:10-12 (NLT)

The prophets yearned to know more about bible prophecy, and the Spirit of Christ was within them. Even the angels are eagerly awaiting the fulfillment of bible prophecy. If this is true, then how can we say bible prophecy is insignificant or of secondary importance?

3) Encouragement of Holy Living

In the end, dedicated study of bible prophecy leads to holy living. Fulfilled prophecy is a constant reminder of God’s awesome power, the glory of Jesus Christ, and the absolute certainty that promises yet unfulfilled will come to be. This breeds a number of Christ-like characteristics in the life of a Christian, a fact attested to by Paul:

“For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with self-control, right conduct, and devotion to God, while we look forward to that wonderful event when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.” Titus 2:11-13 (NLT)

If we acknowledge the prophecies of the Second Coming as well as the command of Jesus to stay awake and alert, we will be driven to live godly lives. Paul also emphasized this in his letter to the Romans:

“Another reason for right living is that you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for the coming of our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” Romans 13:11 (NLT)

Peter also recognized the power of prophecy to motivate Christians toward holy living, citing faith in the imminent return of Christ (unfulfilled prophecy) as reason for modifying behavior and living a life in harmony with God:

“So think clearly and exercise self-control. Look forward to the special blessings that will come to you at the return of Jesus Christ. Obey God because you are his children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of doing evil; you didn’t know any better then. But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God – who chose you to be his children – is holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-15 (NLT)

James underlined the important role of bible prophecy in fostering patience in the life of Christ’s followers:

“Dear brothers and sisters, you must be patient as you wait for the Lord’s return. Consider the farmers who eagerly look for the rains in the fall and in the spring. They patiently wait for the precious harvest to ripen. You, too, must be patient. And take courage, for the coming of the Lord is near.” James 5:7-8 (NLT)

Harboring the hope that Christ can return at any moment encourages patience in our daily lives.

In addition, Paul points out the importance of studying bible prophecy in order to identify false prophets and recognize evil:

“Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good. Keep away from every kind of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 (NLT)

If a Christian ignores bible prophecy, that Christian is ignoring a large portion of God’s Word. As a result, they will be unable to adequately counter arguments and false doctrines put forth by false prophets and enemies of God. Like the people of Berea (Acts 17:11), we are encouraged to personally examine the Word of God and use it as the yardstick by which we measure truth. A Christian who lacks knowledge of bible prophecy will be severely lacking in this area, and as a result, they will be more susceptible to errant teachings.

Reward Awaits

As if the above reasons weren’t enough, the bible promises special blessings to those who faithfully examine bible prophecy. As an example, one of the most prophetic books in the bible, the Book of Revelation, promises a special blessing to those who merely read it. Moreover, God further blesses those who listen to what this book has to say and take it to heart:

“God blesses the one who reads this prophecy to the church, and he blesses all who listen to it and obey what it says. For the time is near when these things will happen.” Revelation 1:3 (NLT)

Remember, the Book of Revelation is the revelation of Jesus Christ. Despite what some think, it’s not the revelation of John, or the imaginative writings of a cave dweller. It is direct correspondence from Jesus to His followers, and although some of it is difficult to understand, it contains some of the most wonderful promises from God to man in the entire bible. As Paul states:

“That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.’ But we know these things because God has revealed them to us by his Spirit, and his Spirit searches out everything and shows us even God’s deep secrets.” 1 Corinthians 2:9-10 (NLT)

Paul knew the importance of bible prophecy and the significant role it played in the daily life of a Christian. In fact, he earnestly looked forward to the day when he would be rewarded for his hope in an unfulfilled bible prophecy – the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ:

“And now the prize awaits me – the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his glorious return.” 2 Timothy 4:8 (NLT)

This crown of righteousness is not just for Paul, but for all who “eagerly look forward to His glorious return,” providing those who receive it with an eternal reward. Still think bible prophecy is unimportant?

Conclusion

Remember, the early church warned the last generation that unfulfilled prophecies would be a source of derision:

“First, I want to remind you that in the last days there will be scoffers who will laugh at the truth and do every evil thing they desire. This will be their argument: ‘Jesus promised to come back, did he? Then where is he? Why, as far back as anyone can remember, everything has remained exactly the same since the world was first created.’” 2 Peter 3:3 (NLT)

Our generation has done more to fulfill Peter’s prophecy than any generation before. Today, bible prophecy and those who study it are mocked and ridiculed. And it’s not just the general population attempting to marginalize prophecy. In most cases, it’s prominent leaders of mainstream Christian denominations – ministers, priests, and community leaders of all types.

Such people attempt to justify their personal disdain for prophecy by relegating it to second tier status behind salvation and evangelism. They say, why waste time studying bible prophecy when it detracts from good works and spreading the gospel message? They fail to realize that prophecy is the essence of the gospel message.

Almost every one of the promises Christians hold near and dear are based on prophecy. The promise of heaven is. The hope of salvation is. The joy of eternity with Christ is. Each of these is a promise from God guaranteeing our future. And what is a prophecy if not a guaranteed future event? So don’t let the mockery of others discourage you from studying bible prophecy.

Remember, Jesus Christ Himself was mocked and ridiculed by this world. If you want to follow Him, He says you must be willing to be mocked and ridiculed yourself. Bible prophecy is the message of Jesus, and as Christians, we must be willing to endure persecution for it:

“Then he said to the crowd, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must put aside your selfish ambition, shoulder your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to keep your life for yourself, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for me, you will find true life. And how do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose or forfeit your own soul in the process? If a person is ashamed of me and my message, I, the Son of Man, will be ashamed of that person when I return in my glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels.’” Luke 9:23-26 (NLT)

Brad White

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19 responses to “Why Bible Prophecy Should Be More Important To The Church Today

  1. Thanks for these encouraging words.
    The time truly is drawing near, it’s hard to believe it isnt. So many things are coming together that point to the soon return of Jesus.

    May people realize that we need to have our lamps ready for the Bridegroom, and not be asleep.

    It’s so tragic that people are being turned away from the literal fulfillment of prophecy, though, He literally fulfilled prophecy at His first coming.

  2. Brad,
    I know very well what you are saying. I was teaching a class of 30 – 40 folks on the Book of Revelation. A new pastor came to the Nazarene Church and the class was disbanded. As it turned out he is emergent.
    My wife and I had to leave and find another congregation.
    Bob Fruehling

  3. My pastor preached about apostasy last night. You couldn’t get a clearer message as to the times we’re currently living in. It’s sad that so many pastors ignore prophecy today as we’re actually seeing it develop before our own eyes.

  4. Very true Brad and sorry I did not acknowledge you as the original author.
    II Thess. 2:1-4 says that the apostacy comes first and then the revelation of the Antichrist. We are there.

  5. I wasn’t looking to get credit for anything. I just want to be involved in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and help those that may be confused and/or mislead by the emergent church movement.

  6. Hey Brad,
    Somehow I had a feeling you would say that. But I thank you anyway for that contribution. It was very helpful to me and others.

  7. PRETRIB RAPTURE – HIDDEN FACTS !

    How can the “rapture” be “imminent”? Acts 3:21 says that Jesus “must” stay in heaven (He is now there with the Father) “until the times of restitution of all things” which includes, says Scofield, “the restoration of the theocracy under David’s Son” which obviously can’t begin before or during Antichrist’s reign. Since Jesus must personally participate in the rapture, and since He can’t even leave heaven before the tribulation ends, the rapture therefore cannot take place before the end of the trib! Paul explains the “times and the seasons” (I Thess. 5:1) of the catching up (I Thess. 4:17) as the “day of the Lord” (5:2) (which FOLLOWS the posttrib sun/moon darkening – Matt. 24:29; Acts 2:20) WHEN “sudden destruction” (5:3) of the wicked occurs! (If the wicked are destroyed before or during the trib, who would be left alive to serve the Antichrist?) Paul also ties the change-into-immortality “rapture” (I Cor. 15:52) to the posttrib end of “death” (15:54)! (Will death be ended before or during the trib?) If anyone wonders how long pretrib rapturism has been taught, he or she can Google “Pretrib Rapture Diehards.” Many are unaware that before 1830 all Christians had always viewed I Thess. 4’s “catching up” as an integral part of the final second coming to earth. In 1830 it was stretched forward and turned into a separate coming of Christ. To further strengthen their novel view, which the mass of evangelical scholars rejected throughout the 1800s, pretrib teachers in the early 1900s began to stretch forward the “day of the Lord” (what Darby and Scofield never dared to do) and hook it up with their already-stretched-forward “rapture.” Many leading evangelical scholars still weren’t convinced of pretrib, so pretrib teachers then began teaching that the “falling away” of II Thess. 2:3 is really a pretrib rapture (the same as saying that the “rapture” in 2:3 must happen before the “rapture” ["gathering"] in 2:1 can happen – the height of desperation!). Other Google articles throwing light on long-covered-up facts about the 178-year-old pretrib rapture view include “Famous Rapture Watchers,” “X-Raying Margaret,” “Revisers of Pretrib Rapture History,” “Thomas Ice (Bloopers),” “Wily Jeffrey,” “The Rapture Index (Mad Theology),” “America’s Pretrib Rapture Traffickers,” “Roots of (Warlike) Christian Zionism,” “Scholars Weigh My Research,” “Pretrib Hypocrisy,” “Pretrib Rapture Desperados” and “Deceiving and Being Deceived” – all by the author of the bestselling book “The Rapture Plot” which is available at Armageddon Books online. Just my two cents’ worth.

  8. Paul, I have to say you are misinformed about the Rapture and the true meaning of imminency within the Scriptures.

    Manny, I apologize for this being so long, but I felt the need to defend this subject thoroughly.

    Imminency, as it relates to Bible prophecy, simply means that the return of Jesus Christ for the Church can happen at any moment. No warning signs will indicate a short-term countdown. We as Christians remain on alert 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
    If a wife knows her husband normally gets home from work shortly after 4:00 PM, she knows that beginning at 4:00 PM, his arrival is imminent. If the woman knows her husband has to work overtime, the imminency of his 4:00 PM return is then in doubt.
    The only way for the rapture to be truly imminent is to have it transpire before the tribulation. If the Church were required to wait until after the manifestation of certain events, then there would be no doctrine of imminency.
    The pretribulation rapture is the only view that allows for the rapture to be imminent in its timing. All the other views require a number of prophetic occurrences to take place before the rapture can be declared imminent. To be looking for the imminent return of Christ, you have to believe in a pre-trib rapture.
    Jesus repeatedly said that His return for the Church would be a surprise. The Lord even went beyond that by saying He would return as a thief when believers generally won’t be expecting Him to come for them.
    “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36).
    “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing” (Matthew 24:42-46 KJV).
    “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 25:13).
    “And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power” (Acts 1:7).
    Because we have no way to refute the fact that we will not know the timing of our Lord’s return, the tribulation is a barrier to the rapture. No wonder the late John Walvoord called imminency “the heart of Pretribulationism.”
    This type of any-moment language doesn’t fit a post-trib rapture. If Jesus were prevented from coming until after the battle of Magog, the rise of Antichrist, and the Mark of the Beast, we would have no need to watch for Him before the tribulation.
    If the Church were required to go through the seven-year tribulation, you would expect the New Testament writers to have warned us to be prepared for trying times. On the contrary, the New Testament writers repeatedly tell the Church to be comforted by the “coming of the Lord” (1 Thes 4:18). The word “comfort” alone strongly implies the rapture will take place before the tribulation.
    Some anti-imminency folks try to solve the problem they have with the rapture’s any-moment occurrence by redefining it as merely indicating that Christ will return soon. The speed of Christ’s advent is not the issue. If an event is required to take place before the Lord can return, there is no need to remain watchful.
    If a person should make it through the tribulation until the point when the mid-trib, pre-wrath, and post-trib folks expect the rapture to occur, it would then become possible for the rapture to be classified as imminent. However, once you solve the problem of imminency, you create another one regarding the restrictions against knowing the timing of the rapture.
    Because the duration of the tribulation is already known, post-tribbers have the hardest time dealing with the rapture’s timing. Some of them have tried to suggest that believers who make it through the tribulation will lazily lose track of the nearness of Christ’s second coming.
    If a Christian has been lucky enough to survive a host of apocalyptic calamities and elude the Antichrist’s secret police for at least 3 1/2 years, I cannot imagine that he would be oblivious to the nearness of the Lord’s return at the 7-year mark. If I were reduced to the point of having to hide in a forest and forage through dead tree bark to find beetles and grubs to sustain myself, I’m certain my every thought would be focused on the Lord’s return.
    One the strongest cases one can make for the early Church expecting an imminent return of Christ is to note their use of the word maranatha, which was used as a greeting in those days. When believers gathered or parted, they didn’t say “hello” or “goodbye”; they would say “Maranatha!”
    I’ve encountered some writings that say Maranatha is Hebrew and Greek, but it is actually an Aramaic expression. In fact, it is made up of three Aramaic words: Mar, which means “Lord; ana, which means “our”; and tha, which means “come.”
    So when you put it together, maranatha means “Our Lord, come.” It perfectly conveys the concept that the Lord could come at any moment. Maranatha is used once in the Bible by Paul as part of a curse. In 1 Corinthians 16:22, Paul said, “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema. Maranatha.” The word anathema means banned, so Paul was saying, Let him be banned from our Lord’s coming.
    The interesting thing about maranatha is that it comes in the form of a petition. When a Christian in the early Church would make this statement, he was actually petitioning the Lord to come. This obviously implies the belief that it was possible for Jesus to answer the appeal.
    If members of the first-century Church believed that certain events needed to take place before the Savior could return, they would have been silly to greet each other with maranatha. They lived nearly 2,000 years ago, and yet they seem to have had a deeper awareness of imminency than many of today’s Christians.
    Many of the contemporary writers who attack imminency try to promote the idea that this doctrine was recently dreamed up by men who were ignorant of the true meaning of Scripture.
    One detractor states, “This frenzy [imminency] continues to survive today because of modern misconceptions about the purpose of these prophetic events and the time frame for their occurrence.”
    Post-trib believers are the most vocal in their claim that the concepts of imminency and the pre-trib rapture only date back to the early 1800s. For several years, their charges went unanswered, but recently a number of men have dusted off old manuscripts and found several early Church fathers who were clearly looking for an imminent return of the Lord Jesus.
    “All the saints and elect of God are gathered together before the tribulation, which is to come, and are taken to the Lord, in order that they may not see at any time the confusion which overwhelms the world because of our sins” (Pseudo-Ephraem (374-627 AD).
    The First Epistle of Clement, 23 (written around 96 A.D. by Clement, a prominent leader of the church at Rome who knew some of the apostles personally and probably is the Clement referred to in Phil. 4:3): “Of a truth, soon and suddenly shall His will be accomplished, as the Scripture also bears witness, saying, ‘speedily will He come, and will not tarry.’”
    As early as 70 – 180 AD, The Didache, chapter 16, section 1, says, “‘Be vigilant over your life; let your lamps not be extinguished, or your loins ungirded, but be prepared, for you know not the hour in which our Lord will come.”
    “But what a spectacle is that fast-approaching advent of our Lord, now owned by all, now highly exalted, now a triumphant One!” (Tertullian 155 – 245 AD).
    John Calvin, the reformer at Geneva during the 1500s and founder of the Presbyterian Church, made the following statements in some of his commentaries on books of the Bible: “Be prepared to expect Him every day, or rather every moment.” “As He has promised that He will return to us, we ought to hold ourselves prepared, at every moment to receive Him. “Today we must be alert to grasp the imminent return of Christ.” Commenting on 1 Thessalonians 4, the “Rapture passage, Calvin said that Paul “means by this to arouse the Thessalonians to wait for it, nay more, to hold all believers in suspense, that they may not promise themselves some particular time . . . that believers might be prepared at all times.”
    The Westminster Confession, written by the Puritans of England during the 1600s, declared that men should “shake off all carnal security and be always watchful, because they know not at what hour the Lord will come.”
    “I say, somewhat more because the dead saints will be raised, and the living changed at Christ’s ‘appearing in the air’ (1 Thess 4:17); and this will be about three years and a half before the millennium, as we shall see hereafter: but will he and they abide in the air all that time? No: they will ascend to paradise, or to some one of those many ‘mansions in the father’s house’ (John 14:2), and so disappear during the foresaid period of time.” (Morgan Edwards 1742-44).
    I’m not much of a fan of relying on what scholarly men write about the Bible. I agree with the quotes I just cited, but I don’t really need a bunch of dead guys to tell me what is truth.
    History has proven that mankind is a dreadful biblical guide. The apostasy that swept over the Church caused a lack of prophecy commentary from about 450 AD until the 1600s. People stopped thinking for themselves. Their interpretation of the Bible became what the institutional church spoon-fed them.
    Premillennialism largely disappeared after it was condemned as heretical by the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD. It wasn’t until the reform movement of the early seventeenth century that we see a rebound in the number of statements that reflect the pretribulational view.
    A host of Scriptures indicate the Church should expect an imminent return of their Lord. The opponents of imminency constantly try to pick apart each individual reference, but they should look at the big picture. An overwhelming number of verses in the Bible support imminency.
    I’ve been able to easily locate 22 passages that imply that the coming of Christ remains an imminent event. All you really need is one verse to prove a point, but the weight of evidence should cause even the most hard-core imminency foes to rethink their stance.
    I seriously doubt any scholar or layman could find 22 passages of Scripture that clearly indicate the tribulation or the rule of the Antichrist is the next imminent event facing the Church.
    “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only” (Mat 24:36).
    Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him (Mat 25:1-6)
    “Take ye heed, watch and pray; for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the Master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly He find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch” (Mark 13:33-37).
    “Knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light” (Rom 13:11-12).
    “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly” (Rom 16:20).
    “So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor 1:7).
    “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil 3:20).
    “Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand” (Phil 4:5).
    “And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess 1:10).
    “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thess 5:6).
    That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Tim 6:14).
    “Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13).
    “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Heb 9:28).
    “Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the Day approaching” (Heb 10:24-25).
    “For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry” (Heb 10:37).
    “Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door” (James 5:7-9).
    “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13).
    “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer” (1 Peter 4:7).
    “Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 1:21).
    “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown” (Rev 3:11).
    “Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book” (Rev 22:7).
    “He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev 22:20).

  9. Brad,
    I believe you have made a very good defense. And again thanks for your original post which is such a critical topic that Christians forget too easily, or ignore.

  10. Both Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul made statements that clearly establish the rapture doctrine. Jesus said, in Matthew 25:13, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” Paul affirmed in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.”

    jstambaugh, your belief in liberation theology is leading you down the wrong path. Liberation theology replaces the traditional message of salvation based on faith in Jesus’ death with one that is focused on salvation through political and social reform. Salvation is simply reduced to the goal of freedom from oppression in this life. Liberation theology allows the Gospel of Christ to be swallowed up by socialism. God is seen as a “hidden force,” and the New Testament is merely a collection of useful illustrations of Marxist truths.

  11. Brad,

    Please don’t get me wrong here, I believe very much that Christ is returning to judge the living and the dead. I simply do not believe that Christ will return once to take away all true believers, and then they’ll be a tribulation in which an anti-Christ (according to Bob Jones the anti-Christ will be a homosexual robot) will make everyone take the mark of the beast, and then the Tribulation force will come in and kick some anti-Christ butt, etc., etc., etc. until Christ returns again to establish a reign of peace and justice on the earth. Why not cut out all the stuff in the middle?

    The return of Christ has always been and will always be a primary doctrine in the Church, the doctrine of the ahead of time rapture of true believers to spare them from the tribuation, etc. etc., has only been around since the 19th century.

    I understand where you’re coming from on the whole Liberation Theology thing, but I think you’re oversimplifying things quite a bit. Using your logic and method, I could just as easily say that evangelical/fundamentalist doctrine has been swallowed up by nationalism, that God is seen as the protector and blesser of rich, white America, and that the New Testament is a collection of truths that verify our own predispositions toward capitalism, greed, and oppression. But the above statement, too, while there is a kernel of truth there, is not the whole story, and so is unfair.

    I believe that in his life Jesus taught us to have concern for the poor, the oppressed and the outcast. In his teachings he taught us to be peacemakers and to love our enemies. He died in a self-sacrificing act of salvation for all, and he rose again to conquer death and establish a new reign of a different sort of Kingdom on this earth. As those who believe in what he did and said, our job is to live in the Kingdom of God now, and work toward the reconciliation of all Creation to Christ (Rom. 8), not in our own power, or through the use of political ideology (marxist or conservative), nor through the use of violence (like many marxist and fascist groups would use), but through the power of Christ’s self-sacrificing, world-changing, Love, which we have access to through reliance on the Holy Spirit.

    In short, I do not take the teachings of Marx (or Glen Beck) seriously, nor do I take the efforts of governments to institute social reform seriously. Rather, I take the Beatitudes seriously; I take the Sermon on the Mount seriously; I take Matthew 25 seriously; I take Romans 12 seriously, etc.

    In any event, I hope you take my words with grace, not as attacks but as a sincere desire to talk about serious issues that face us as brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank you for allowing me the voice to do this on your site.

    May the peace and blessing of Christ be with you.

    James

  12. Read “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty” on Google. We can argue over theology and even church history forever, but how can we argue over or defend plain old dishonesty? If your doctor or mechanic or lawyer or pharmacist was as dishonest as many prophecy teachers, you would get rid of them, right? Well….
    Ruby

  13. James,

    There is nothing wrong with being an “escapist.” Noah was an escapist and so was Lot. And Jesus said that when the end time signs begin to appear, we are to pray “to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36).

    Certainly we are called to suffer for Christ (Romans 8:17). And anyone who truly stands for Jesus in this world will be persecuted (John 15:19). We are assured that as believers we will suffer tribulation in this world (John 16:33), but we are promised that we will be exempted from the great tribulation that will one day come upon the entire world (Revelation 3:10).

    One of the early Church fathers, Clement, wrote quite extensively on the principles of the rapture in an epistle to the Corinthians he drafted in either 68 or 97 AD – less than 70 years after Christ’s death on the cross – a considerable period of time before 1830.

    I have also given other historical evidence in prior comments that validate the teachings of the rapture preceding anything related to Darby.

    The history of the social gospel (which the Emergent Church teaches) is, in nearly every case, a sincere attempt by Christians to do those things that they believe will honor God and benefit humanity. In every case, however, the practical working out of “benefiting humanity” has compromised biblical faith and dishonored God. Why is that? God’s Word gives no commission to the church to fix the problems of the world. Those who attempt to do so are starting out under a false premise, “…a way which seemeth right unto a man,” not God’s way. So where can it go from there? “The end thereof are the ways of death,” i.e., destruction (Proverbs 14:12). Furthermore, the problems of the world are all symptoms. The root cause is sin.

    Consistent with its amillennial/postmillennial beginnings, the efforts of the social gospel are earthbound in their attempted restoration of the kingdom of God. Eugene Peterson has infiltrated that heresy into his Message Bible: “God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again” (a perversion of John 3:17).

    Anyone who puts his hope in this social gospel, which employs “people of faith” to make “this world the kind of place God can come to,” needs to heed the words of Jesus in Luke 18:8 “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” People of all faiths, yes, but certainly not “the faith,” for which Jude exhorts true believers to earnestly contend.

    Brad

  14. Brad,

    What exactly did Clement say? I will agree with you that he speaks extensively of the Second Coming of Christ and the bodily Resurrection. But these things are not what I am talking about when I talk about the rapture. Give me some chapters from Clement’s epistle to the Corinthians so that can see what you’re saying.

    You said:
    “God’s Word gives no commission to the church to fix the problems of the world. ”

    What do you mean? Are you saying that Scripture has nothing in it about taking care of the poor? Does it not have anything in it about being good stewards of Creation? Does it not have anything in it about standing up against injustice and oppression? About taking in the widow and the orphan, about being kind to the stranger and the immigrant? Nothing about paying workers fair wages?

    If you ignore the parts of the Bible which lay out God’s outline for a better world you have to ignore about 3/4 of it…and I thought you reformed folks were Sola Scriptura. :)

    I am not purporting the social gospel as taught in the early 20th century, or post-millenialism. I don’t think we’re gonna fix the world’s problems before Jesus comes back, nor do I think we’ll do anything of lasting value without reliance on the Holy Spirit. But I do believe that we are called to be witnesses the Kingdom of God now, here on earth. I do believe that all Creation is groaning for Christ to return and set everything straight, and we need to be witnesses to that redemption in our actions and our words.

    And furthermore, I believe that unless we are following God’s earlier commissions, like Micah 6:8 which tells us that all the Lord requires of us is to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly before God, and like the roughly 2,000 verses that deal with the poor and our responsibility to them, that the “Great Commission” of Matthew 26 is meaningless. Our failure to witness to the true Gospel in our actions invalidates the witness of our words.

  15. James,

    You have come on the scene disputing the rapture doctrine, but have given no supporting scripture for your point of view. Instead, you throw some un-Biblical website out there.

    Then you have spouted socialist and marxist views, but you try to use Scripture to disguise the ideology.

    You made the comment “I don’t think we’re gonna fix the world’s problems before Jesus comes back”. That’s a glaring humanistic comment in my opinion.

    Your comment “Our failure to witness to the true Gospel in our actions invalidates the witness of our words” incorporates salvation through works it seems.

    Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
    Not of works, lest any man should boast.

    James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works; shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

    Works will never produce salvation, nor will faith plus works save, but good works always accompany true saving faith.

    This conversation is closed as far as I’m concerned. Points of view here are polar opposites. I stand firm in my faith and beliefs of what the Bible has to say about the Rapture and Prophecy.

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