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Last Days Mockers (Thomas Ice)

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Know this first of all, that inthe last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their ownlusts, and saying, “Where is thepromise of His coming? For eversince the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginningof creation.” For when theymaintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavensexisted long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, throughwhich the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But the present heavens and earth byHis word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment anddestruction of ungodly men. -2 Peter 3:3-7

Peterwarns us in his second and final epistle that mockers would arise in the lastdays denying our Lord’s second advent. What is the Apostle Peter saying in this passage? Are we currently living in the “last days”of which he spoke? Who are themockers to which Peter is referring?

The LastDays

TheBible has almost three-dozen references to the last days, end of days, etc.[1] A majority of those passages refer tothe seven-year tribulation period, but Peter has in mind the last days of thechurch age, which is supported by the context. Peter wants the church to know “first of all” that therewill be a “time of trouble which will precede the close of the present age (2Tim. 3:1-5; 1 John 2:18-19).”[2] We are living in this time today.

Peter’swarning for our day is that “mockers will come with their mocking.” This phrase is also repeated in Jude 18without reporting to his readers an account of their mocking as we have here in2 Peter. Jude just says there willbe mockers in the last day. Lenskitells us, “Yes, the first thing they should know or realize is that ‘mockersshall come at the days’ end,” meaning that the second thing to realize is theParousia itself which shall come after these mockers have appeared.”[3] In the same vein Mayor notes, “Theexistence of these scoffers is a proof of that which they deny. It is one of the appointed signs of theapproach of the last day.”[4]

Sohere we are in the twenty-first century, it has been about 2,000 years sinceChrist left earth for heaven and we see last days mockers all around us. Certainly unbelievers and liberals denya future second coming and apply a uniformitarian rationale to this issue asdescribed in verse 4. However,there are others, even within Christendom, who deny that there will be a futuresecond coming of Christ. Chiefamong them are full preterists.[5] Also, partial preterists,[6]while still clinging to a future second coming, by and large scoff at those whobelieve the traditional understanding that Matthew 24 (see also Mark 13; Luke21), Revelation 1:7 and 19 teach a second return of Christ that is still futureto our time.

PreteristMocking of Future Return

GaryDeMar has become a partial preterist who seems to go out of his way to mockChristians who believe that Christ could come at any moment. Even though he admits that Christ willreturn in the distant future[7]the clear emphasis in his ministry is upon why Jesus cannot return in our dayand mocking those who believe He can. “We are not end-time scoffers,”[8]insists DeMar. Oh really?

Inhis book Last Days Madness, DeMar tells the story from Aesop’s fable of the shepherd boy whocried wolf and declares, “In the same way the people of God-the sheep-areharmed by continual shouts of ‘the end is near!'”[9] He continues, “By crying wolf and beingwrong each time, the church is perceived as unreliable.”[10] The fact of the matter is that Christ’sreturn is a one-time event. Justbecause some have been wrong in the past does not prove that He will not returnin the future. That is the pointPeter makes in 2 Peter 3 when he notes that such an assumption is undermined bywhat the mockers willingly ignore (3:5). They ignore God’s past intervention in history when He created the worldand judged it globally at the Flood (3:5-6). Just as in Aesop’s fable, the wolf did come, so also, Jesuswill return one day in the future. Just because Jesus has not returned in the past does not mean he willnot in the future.

TheDissolution of The Heavens and Earth

DeMardoes not think that last days mockers will ever come in the future since he believesthat the 2 Peter 3 passage was fulfilled by a.d.70. “But the day of the Lord willcome like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and theelements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works willbe burned up” (2 Pet. 3:10). Hesays, “the coming judgments were near for those who first read Peter’sletter. The scoffers were aliveand well in the first century. People have a right to mock and scoff when they read that Jesus was tocome within a generation and nearly 2000 year have passed.”[11] Are there no last days scoffers in ourday? How could there be last daysscoffers in our day if 2 Peter 3 was fulfilled 2,000 years ago? However, has 2 Peter 3 already beenfulfilled?

Afirst century fulfillment is so bizarre that even fellow partial preterists donot agree with DeMar on this point. Ken Gentry has given five reasons why 2 Peter 3 will be future and wasnot fulfilled in the first century. “First, the thrust of the book seems to promote a spiritual perseverance in anticipation of the historicallong run-a long run that ends up in the eternal new creation,”[12]notes Gentry. “Second, the mockersscoff at the promised second advent of Christ due to the long wait associatedwith it (2 Pet. 3:2-4, 9). Despitethe trials to come soon (2:9), Peter even suggests it may be thousands of yearsbefore Christ’s return, in that the delay is based on God’s time rather thanman’s . . . (3:8).”[13] When one realizes that 2 Peter waswritten within four to five years from the time that DeMar says it wasfulfilled, there would hardly be reasonable time for any fulfillment.

“Third,the longsuffering of the Lord is due to a process that is necessarily age-long. . . (2 Pet. 3:9) . . . (2 Pet. 3:15a). The process of calling the ‘all’ to ‘repentance’ unto salvation is onethat spans the entire inter-advental era and is still continuing today.”[14] So if DeMar’s view were true, thenthere was only a four to five year window of opportunity for salvation. Gentry further notes, “The way that we’hasten the coming of the day of God’ (3:12) is by evangelistic endeavor.”[15] DeMar’s first century fulfillment viewmakes no sense and is not workable at all in light of this passage. “Fourth, the reference to theunraveling and conflagration of the heavens and the earth is expressly tied tothe material creation. Hence, itseems clearly to refer to the consummation and not to a.d. 70.”[16] “Fifth, the strong detailed language ofthe destruction of the heavens and the earth seems to go beyond apocalypticimagery, referring to the actual consummation . . . (2 Pet. 3:10) . . .(3:12).”[17] This final point is such anunderstatement.

Conclusion

Clearlythere are last days mockers within the unbelieving world who deny the futurepossibility of Christ’s return due to an anti-supernatural bias. Those are obvious. It is also obvious that full preteristswithin Christendom do not ever believe that Jesus will return in the futurebecause they say He returned in a.d.70. The more subtle approachconcerning this matter is practiced by some like Gary DeMar who not onlyridicules those of us who believe that Christ could come at any moment but alsothink that the last day mockers have already come and gone. Such a view blinds one to the warningthat Peter issues in this passage since they do not believe it to be a possiblethreat to the church today. Iguess we will have to wait a little longer for Christ’s return to actually takeplace so that the mockers will become aware to the truth of Peter’s words. Maranatha!

ENDNOTES


[1] For a discussion of the different nuances ofthese phrases see Thomas Ice, “Are We Living in The Last Days?”www.pre-trib.org/article-view.php?id=36.

[2] D. Edmond Hiebert, Second Peter and Judge: AnExpositional Commentary(Greenville, SC: BJU Press, 1989), p. 142.

[3] R. C. H. Lenski, The Interpretation of TheEpistles of St. Peter, St. John and St. Jude (Minneapolis: Augsburg Publishing House, 1966), p. 338.

[4] Joseph B. Mayor, The Epistle of St. Jude andThe Second Epistle of St. Peter(Minneapolis: Klock & Klock Christian Publishers [1907] 1978), p. 147.

[5] Preterism is from a Latin word meaning “past,” or”gone by.” A full preterist is onewho believes that Christ has already returned in a.d. 70 and He will not return in the future.

[6] Partial preterists believe that most of thepassages that the church has historically thought to refer to a future secondadvent were fulfilled in a.d. 70,but that a few passages still teach a future second advent.

[7] The only three passages I have ever seen DeMargive in reference to a return of Christ are Acts 1:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-52.

[8] Gary DeMar, Meet theReal Last Days Scoffers
: A Response to Ed Hindson’s “The New Last DaysScoffers”-Part 2,www.americanvision.org/articlearchive/05-27-05.asp.

[9] Gary DeMar, Last Days Madness: Obsession ofthe Modern Church, (PowerSprings, GA: American Vision,1999), p. 29.

[10] DeMar, Last Days Madness, pp. 29-30.

[11] DeMar, Meet the Real Last DaysScoffers.

[12] Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr., He Shall HaveDominion: A PostmillennialEschatology (Tyler, TX: Institute for Christian Economics,1992), p. 302.

[13] Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, p. 303.

[14] Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, p. 303.

[15] Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, p. 304.

[16] Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, p. 304.

[17] Gentry, He Shall Have Dominion, pp. 304-05.

Some Glorious And Incomparable Promises Of The Bible (Thomas Ice)

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This article is so important to us as Christians as it shows us the nature of God – God is reliable, consistent and can be trusted with our lives!  It also addresses the problem of Replacement Theology, which implies that God is not consistent or trust worthy and will help you know God more.

Enjoy!

Benjamin

During the firsthalf of World War II General Douglas MacArthur was forced to leave thePhilippines in the Pacific Theater by the Japanese. Upon his departure he made a promise to the Philippinopeople: “I will return.” GeneralMacArthur, through the strength and power of the American military was able tokeep his promise. If humanity canmake and keep promises of rescue and deliverance, how much more will our greatGod keep the glorious and incomparable promises He has made in His Word! Indeed, He has told us that He will oneday return and fulfill the great and many promises about the glorious future instore for those who know Him as their Savior.

Why are promisesimportant to God? Promises areimportant to God’s plan for history, because God keeps His word. History is a record of God’sfaithfulness to keep His promises. Thus, God delights in making seemingly impossible promises so that He,through the most difficult circumstances, demonstrates that He keeps Hispromises. Think of God’s record offaithfulness next time you are tempted by circumstances to go back on yourword. There are three greatpromises that God has made to His people that I want to examine in this article. These promises are Israel’s permanence,Christ’s second coming, and eternal life to all believers.

Promise of Israel’s Permanence

Scripture makesit clear that God’s integrity in history revolves around His chosen peopleIsrael. It is through Israel thatGod has chosen to leave His mark through out history. It is through Israel that God gave His Law, founded anation, caused His presence to dwell, mediated His Word, and sent the Savior ofthe world. It will be throughIsrael in the future that God will work to preach the gospel through out thewhole world, invoke the second coming, reign for a thousand years in Jerusalem,and place His eternal glory. Thus,God’s promise to Israel is that they have an eternal permanence in history andthroughout eternity (Jeremiah 31:35-36). Without Israel, the second coming cannot take place, since they must bethere for this glorious event to occur.

Replacement Theology

Most Americanevangelical Christians today have a high view of Jews and the modern state ofIsrael because of the positive influence of the dispensational premillennialview that national Israel has a future in the plan of God. Yet, there are those within Christendomwho deny that Israel has a permanent place in the plan of God. This view is known as replacementtheology.

What isreplacement theology? Replacementtheology is the view that the Church has permanently replaced Israel as theinstrument through which God works and that national Israel does not have afuture in the plan of God. This isalso known by the term “supersessionism.” Some replacement theologians may believe that individual Jews will beconverted and enter into the church (something that we all believe), but theydo not believe that God will literally fulfill the dozens of Old Testamentpromises to a converted national Israel in the future. Reconstructionist patriarch, R. J.Rushdoony uses the strongest language when he declares,

Thefall of Jerusalem, and the public rejection of physical Israel as the chosenpeople of God, meant also the deliverance of the true people of God, the churchof Christ, the elect, out of the bondage to Israel and Jerusalem, . . .[1]

Afurther heresy clouds premillennial interpretations of Scripture-theirexaltation of racism into a divine principle. Every attempt to bring the Jew back into prophecy as a Jewis to give race and works (for racial descent is a human work) a priorityover grace and Christ’swork and is nothing more or lessthan paganism. . . . There can be no compromise with this vicious heresy.[2]

Historical Development

As it should be,the nature of Israel’s future has become a watershed issue in biblicalinterpretation that has caused a polarization of positions that we findtoday. Today most Reformedinterpreters do not believe in a national future for Israel, even though manyhave held such a view over the last 400 years. Why? Early inthe systemization of any theological position the issues are undeveloped andless clear than later when the consistency of various positions are workedout. Thus it is natural for themature understanding of any theological issue to lead to polarization ofviewpoints as a result of interaction and debate between positions. The earlier Reformed position includeda blend of some Old Testament passages that were taken literally (i.e., thoseteaching a future conversion of Israel as a nation) and some that were not(i.e., details of Israel’s place of dominance during a future period ofhistory). On the one hand, as timepassed, those who stressed a literal understanding of Israel from the OldTestament became much more consistent in applying such an approach to allpassages relating to Israel’s destiny. On the other hand, those who thought literalism was taken too farretreated from whatever degree of literalness they did have and argued that thechurch fulfills Israel’s promises, thus there was no need for a national Israelin the future. Further,non-literal interpretation was viewed as the tool with which liberals deniedthe essentials of the faith. Thus,by World War II dispensationalism had come to virtually dominate evangelicalswho saw literal interpretation of the Bible as a primary support for orthodoxy.

After World WarII many of the battles between fundamentalism and liberalism began towane. Such an environment allowedfor less stigma attached to non literal interpretation within conservativecircles. However, today, as we seea decline in literal interpretation within Evangelicalism as a whole, we see anerosion among Evangelical scholars for support for modern Israel.

TheModern State of Israel

The fact that thelast 100 years has seen a world-wide regathering and reestablishment of thenation of Israel, which is now poised in just the setting required for therevealing of the Antichrist and the start of the tribulation, is God’s grandindicator that all of the other areas of world development are propheticallysignificant. Dr. Walvoord says,

Ofthe many peculiar phenomena which characterize the present generation,: fewevents can claim equal significance as far as Biblical prophecy is concernedwith that of the return of Israel to their land. It constitutes a preparation for the end of the age, thesetting for the coming of the Lord for His church, and the fulfillment ofIsrael’s prophetic destiny.[3]

What one believesabout the future of Israel is of utmost importance to one’s understanding ofthe Bible. I believe, without ashadow of doubt, that Old Testament promises made to national Israel willliterally be fulfilled in the future. This means the Bible teaches that God will return theJews to their land before the tribulation begins (Isaiah 11:11-12:6; Ezekiel20:33-44; 22:17-22; Zephaniah 2:1-3). This has been accomplished and the stage is set as a result of thecurrent existence of the modern state of Israel. The Bible also indicates that before Israel enters into hertime of national blessing she must first pass through the fire of thetribulation (Deuteronomy 4:30; Jeremiah. 30:5-9; Daniel 12:1; Zephaniah1:14-18). Even though the horrorsof the Holocaust under Hitler were of an unimaginable magnitude, the Bibleteaches that a time of even greater trial awaits Israel during thetribulation. Anti-Semitism willreach new heights, this time global in scope, in which two-thirds of worldJewry will be killed (Zechariah 13:7-9; Revelation 12). Through this time God will protect Hisremnant so that before His second advent “all Israel will be saved”(Romans 11:36). In fact, thesecond coming will include the purpose of God’s physical rescue of Israel fromworld persecution during Armageddon (Daniel 12:1; Zechariah 12-14; Matthew24:29-31; Revelation 19:11-21).

If nationalIsrael is a historical “has been,” then all of this is obviouslywrong. However, the Bible says shehas a future and world events will revolve around that tiny nation at thecenter of the earth. The world’sfocus already is upon Israel. Godhas preserved His people for a reason and it is not all bad. In spite of the fact that history isprogressing along the lines of God’s ordained pattern for Israel, we see therevival of replacement theology within conservative circles that will no doubtbe used in the future to fuel the fires of anti-Semitism, as it has in thepast. Your view of the future ofnational Israel is not just an academic exercise.

Promise of Christ’s Second Coming

Though many may not realize its significance, the return of Jesus Christ to planet Earth is themost important event that will occur in the future. But what do we know about the coming of Christ? Is it only a heart-felt hope andhistorical hype, or do we have a clear and certain word from God on this event?

The prophetic promise of the second coming of Jesus Christ to earth is the subject of manypassages in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. What are some of the more prominent texts? They include some of thefollowing: Deuteronomy 30:3; Psalm2; Isaiah 63:1-6; Daniel 2:44-45; 7:13-14; Zechariah 14:1-4; Matthew 24-25;Mark 13; Luke 21; Acts 1:9-11; Romans 11:26; 1 Thessalonians 3:13; 5:1-4; 2Thessalonians 1:6-2:12; 2 Peter 2:1-3:17; Jude 14-15; Revelation 1:7; 19:11-21.

The most graphicportrayal of Christ’s second coming is found in Revelation 19:11-21. In this extended passage Jesus Christis described as leading a procession of angels and saints or armies in heavento claim the earth, destroy the armies of the world, and defeat the Antichristand False Prophet.

This passage shows that Christ’s return will be one that entails great physicaldestruction and many deaths. Forthose who are not Christ’s own, it will be a terrifying and terribleevent. For those of us who knowHim as their Savior, it will be a time of great joy, vindication, andanticipation.

The Bible depicts the career of Christ as revolving around two major aspects. Titus 2:11-14 speaks of Christ’s twoappearances on earth. The firstphase is related to His coming in humiliation to die for the sins of mankind. The second phase is when He will comein power and glory to reign over all mankind. Hebrews 9:28 is a single verse that explains and contrastsChrist’s two comings. The writerof Hebrews says “so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sinsof many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, tothose who eagerly await Him.” Jesus is coming again. Thisis a glorious promise and hope for all believers.

Promise of EternalLife

Eternal life is the gift of God given to all who believe in Jesus Christ and have accepted Hisoffer of salvation based upon His death and resurrection (John 10:10; Ephesians2:8-9). In the Bible, eternal life emphasizes a quality of life, a quality that can only be imparted by GodHimself. This life does not, ofcourse, make us God, we are and will always remain creatures, however, it is aquality of life that comes from the God who has the quality of eternality. Therefore, eternal life should not beconfused with endless or eternal existence which everyone will experience. Eternal existence will be common to theredeemed and the unredeemed, but the destinies will be very different. Christians will enter into heaven andthe presence of God; unbelievers will be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation20:11-15).

For those of us who have trusted Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are given the promise ofeternal life the moment we believe. John says, “the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He whohas the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have thelife” (1 John 5:11-13). If you havetrusted in Christ, then you have eternal life in the present that will continuethroughout eternity in heaven for the believer. Believers have the hope of eternal life in heave with ourLord for eternity.

Conclusion

Anyone familiar with God’s word knows that He has a wonderful plan for history and Hispeople. These are indeed gloriousand incomparable promises through which He implements His plan. What should the response of thebeliever be to God’s promises? ThePsalmist rightly advises, “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me? I shall lift up the cup of salvation,and call upon the name of the Lord”(Psalm 116:12-13).

When we think about the significance of the glorious promises that our Lord has in store forus as His people we respond with a thankful heart. Let us remember that for the believer this present life ifthe worse things will ever be for us. But, for the unbeliever, this present life will be the best they willever experience. Let us claim theprecious promises that He has made to us in the present so that He will make usfit for eternity.

Necessity of an Interval between the Rapture and the 2nd Coming

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Necessity of an Interval between the Rapture and the 2nd Coming

 

by: Thomas Ice

 

Building upon the article “The Rapture & The Second Coming: An Important Distinction” in our previous issue of Pre-Trib Perspectives, we now will see that a gap of time is needed between the rapture and the second coming in order to facilitate certain events spoken of in the Bible. Such a needed time interval provides strong support for pretribulationism.

 

A PRE-TRIB INTERVAL

Numerous items in the New Testament can easily be harmonized by a pre-trib time gap of at least seven years, while other views, especially postribulationists, are forced to postulate scenarios that would not realistically allow for normal passage of time. The following events are best temporally harmonized with an interval of time as put forth by pretribulationism.1

 

THE BEMA JUDGMENT

2 Corinthians 5:10 teaches that all believers of this age must appear before the judgment seat of Christ in heaven. This event, often known as the “bema judgment” (see also Rom. 14:10; 1 Cor. 3:10-15; 4:2-5) from the Greek word bema, is an event never mentioned in the detailed accounts connected with the second coming of Christ to the earth. Instead, the second coming brings with it God’s judgment of unbelievers, usually expressed by some form of the Greek word krinô. Thus, it can be established from the biblical text that the bema-judgment applies only to church age believers, while the krinô-judgment is for unbelievers.

The Bible indicates that each individual within the Body of Christ will appear before the bema in association with Christ’s return for the church (i.e., at the pretrib rapture). Dr. Robert Gromacki notes:

the judgment will occur immediately after the coming of Christ for believers. . . . Earlier, Paul wrote: “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come . . . (I Cor. 4:5). Thus, this is not an ongoing judgment that each Christian experiences on earth or right after death. It is a once-for-all event that occurs right after the appearing of Christ (I Thess. 4:13-18).2

Since the normal transaction of such an evaluation would require some passage of time, the pre-trib gap of seven years nicely accounts for such a requirement.

 

CHRIST’S BRIDE IN HEAVEN

In conjunction with the bema judgment, Revelation 19:7-10 pictures the church as a bride who has been made ready for marriage (with “fine linen,” which represents “the righteous acts of the saints”) to her groom (Christ). The bride has already been clothed in preparation for her return at the second coming with Christ to the earth (Rev. 19:11-18). It follows that the church would already have to be complete and in heaven (because of the pre-trib rapture) in order to have been prepared in the way that Revelation 19 describes. This requires an interval of time which pretribulationism handles well.

Apparently the bride’s preparation and the bema judgment are different illustrations of the same event. The bema focuses on the process of judgment, while the bride pictures the results. Dr. Ed Hindson explains:

Whatever view one holds in regard to our Lord’s return, one thing is clear in prophetic Scripture, the marriage occurs in heaven (Rev. 19:7-9) before the triumphal return of Christ with His redeemed church at His side (Rev. 19:11-16).

Non-pretribulationists are at a virtual loss to explain how the church got to heaven prior to returning with Christ at the battle of Armageddon. At best, some suggest they are “caught up” after the Tribulation only to return immediately with the Lord. This arrangement, however, leaves little or no time for the wedding!3

 

THE 24 ELDERS IN HEAVEN

The 24 elders of Revelation 4:1-5:14 are best understood as representative of the church. Dr. Charles Ryrie explains:

In the New Testament, elders as the highest officials in the church do represent the whole church (cf. Acts 15:6; 20:28), and in the Old Testament, twenty-four elders were appointed by King David to represent the entire Levitical priesthood (I Chron. 24). When those twenty-four elders met together in the temple precincts in Jerusalem, the entire priestly house was represented. Thus it seems more likely that the elders represent redeemed human beings, . . . the church is included and is thus in heaven before the tribulation begins.4

If these elders refer to the church, then it would mean at least two things: 1) It would necessitate the rapture and reward of the church before the tribulation and would require a chronological gap for them to perform their heavenly duties during the seven-year tribulation. 2) It would also show that the completed church was already in heaven before events of the tribulation begin.

 

THE JUDGMENT OF GENTILES

It would be impossible for the judgment of the Gentiles to take place after the second coming if the rapture and second coming are not separated by a gap of time. How would both saved and unsaved, still in their natural bodies, be separated in judgment if all living believers are translated at the second coming? This would be impossible if the translation takes place at the second coming, but it is solved through a pretribulational gap.

Dr. John F. Walvoord points out that if “the translation took place in connection with the second coming to the earth, there would be no need of separating the sheep from the goats at a subsequent judgment, but the separation would have taken place in the very act of the translation of the believers before Christ actually sets up His throne on earth (Matt. 25:31).”5 Once again, such a “problem” is solved by taking a pretrib position with its gap of at least seven years.

 

POPULATING THE MILLENNIUM

At the second coming, non-martyred Believers who come to faith in Christ during the tribulation are not translated, but carry on ordinary occupations such as farming, building houses, and the bearing of children (Isa. 65:20-25) during the subsequent millennium. This would be impossible if all saints were translated at the second coming to the earth, as posttribulationists teach. Because pretribulationists have at least a seven-year interval between the removal of the church at the rapture and the return of Christ to the earth, this is not a problem because millions of people will be saved during the interval and thus be available to populate the millennium in their natural bodies in order to fulfill Scripture.

Dr. Steven McAvoy concludes:

The fact that the judgment of the nations occurs before the millennium and thus provides for the population of the millennial earth, constitutes a strong argument for pretribulationism. For a posttribulational rapture would leave no sheep for this judgment. If pretribulationalists are correct in placing this judgment before the millennium then posttribulationalism suffers a serious blow.6

 

ISRAEL’S FUTURE

A time interval is needed so that God’s program for the church, a time when Jew and Gentile are united in one body (cf. Eph. 2-3), will not become commingled in any way with His unfinished and future plan for Israel during the tribulation. Dr. Renald Showers notes:

All other views of the Rapture have the church going through at least part of the 70th week, meaning that all other views mix God’s 70-weeks program for Israel and Jerusalem together with His program for the church.7

A gap of time is needed after God completes His program with the church, so that He may conclude His plans for Israel. Only with an interval of seven years, as postulated by pretribulationists, can God’s program be harmonized in a non-conflicting manner.

 

CONCLUSION

The pretribulational rapture of the church not only fulfills a biblical need to see a distinction between the translation of church-age saints at the rapture, before the second coming, but it also handles without difficulty the necessity of a time-gap, which harmonizes a number of future biblical events. This requirement of a seven-year gap of time adds support to the likelihood that pretribulationism best reflects the biblical point of view.

 

ENDNOTES

1 Many of the points in this article are taken from John F. Walvoord, The Rapture Question: Revised and Enlarged Edition (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979), pp. 274-75.

2 Robert G. Gromacki, Stand Firm in the Faith: An Exposition of II Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1978),pp. 84-85.

3 Edward E. Hindson, “The Rapture and the Return: Two Aspects of Christ’s Coming” in Thomas Ice and Timothy Demy, eds, When the Trumpet Sounds (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1995), p. 156.

4 Charles C. Ryrie, Revelation (Chicago: Moody Press, 1968), pp. 35-36.

5 Walvoord, The Rapture Question, p. 274.

6 Steven L. McAvoy, “A Critique of Robert Gundry’s Posttribulationalism” (Th.D. dissertation, Dallas Theological Seminary, 1986), p. 203.

7 Renald Showers, Maranatha Our Lord, Come! A Definitive Study of the Rapture of the Church (Bellmawr, N.J.: The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc., 1995), p. 243.

When Did J. N. Darby Discover the Rapture? (Thomas Ice)

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When Did J. N. Darby Discover the Rapture?

Tom’s Perspectives

by Thomas Ice

 

      Did key elements of the doctrine of the pretribulational rapture originate with either Edward Irving (1792–1834) or the broader Irvingite movement and then stealthily incorporated into the theology of John Nelson Darby (1800–1882) and the Brethren?  Dave MacPherson is convinced “that the popular Pre-Trib Rapture teaching of today was really instigated by a teenager in Scotland who lived in the early 1800’s,”[i] who was connected with the broader Irvingite movement.  This is the general thesis put forth in dozens of books and articles for many years.  However, I do not believe that there is merit to such a position since Irving and his movement never taught pretribulationism and both come from very different eschatological systems.  In fact, I believe it can be established that Darby first came to believe in both dispensational truth and pretribulationism by December 1826 or January 1827, before these other alleged sources even surfaced.

 

Darby’s Convalescence

      Anyone who has seriously studied the life of Darby is aware of the pivotal nature of a riding accident that probably took place in October 1826 in Ireland.  Darby says, “An accident happened which laid me aside for a time; my horse was frightened and had thrown me against a door-post.”[ii]  Darby’s older sister Susan Pennefather, whose husband Edward eventually became Chief Justice of Ireland’s Supreme Court,[iii] took care of her injured brother in their Dublin home.[iv]  It was during this time of “convalescence” for Darby that he came to a great realization as a result of Bible study, prayer, and time alone with the Lord.  Darby tells us what happened in his own words:

 

During my solitude, conflicting thoughts increased; but much exercise of soul had the effect of causing the scriptures to gain complete ascendancy over me.  I had always owned them to be the word of God.

      When I came to understand that I was united to Christ in heaven, and that, consequently, my place before God was represented by His own, I was forced to the conclusion that it was no longer a question with God of this wretched “I” which had wearied me during six or seven years, in presence of the requirements of the law.  It then became clear to me that the church of God, as He considers it, was composed only of those who were so united to Christ, whereas Christendom, as seen externally, was really the world, and could not be considered as “the church,” save as regards the responsibility attaching to the position which it professed to occupy-a very important thing in its place.  At the same time, I saw that the Christian, having his place in Christ in heaven, has nothing to wait for save the coming of the Saviour, in order to be set, in fact, in the glory which is already his portion “in Christ.”

. . . In my retreat, the 32nd chapter of Isaiah taught me clearly, on God’s behalf, that there was still an economy to come, of His ordering; a state of things in no way established as yet.  The consciousness of my union with Christ had given me the present heavenly portion of the glory, whereas this chapter clearly sets forth the corresponding earthly part.  I was not able to put these things in their respective places or arrange them in order, as I can now; but the truths themselves were then revealed of God, through the action of His Spirit by reading His word.

      What was to be done?  I saw in that word the coming of Christ to take the church to Himself in glory.  I saw there the cross, the divine basis of salvation, which should impress its own character on the Christian and on the church in view of the Lord’s coming; and also that meanwhile the Holy Spirit was given to be the source of the unity of the church, as well as the spring of its activity, and indeed of all christian energy.[v]

 

      Darby also refers to his discovery of the rapture and other truths during his convalescence of December 1826 through January 1827 in a letter he wrote in 1879:

 

But these are the two truths brought out in these days, throwing light on the truth of the first coming.  They have been consciously my theme these fifty years and more.  They started me in my path of service; the assurance of salvation came with them, and the christian character as of the new creation, . . . When man entered into the glory of God consequent on accomplished redemption, the Holy Ghost came down, till He comes to take us up.  This connects the hope and the power of life and heavenly calling with accomplished redemption: Christ, Man at the right hand of God, is the central point.  What set me free in 1827 is still the theme on which my soul dwells, with, I trust, much deeper sense of its importance-something much nearer to me, but the same truths.  And blessed truths they are; and the hope, what a hope![vi]

 

What Does This Mean?

      Thus, in these two extended citations by Darby concerning what he discovered from his study of Scripture during his convalescence, we learn that he saw himself positionally seated with Christ at the Father’s right hand, that a Christian has nothing to wait for except the coming of Christ, and as a result of his study of Isaiah 32 he saw that after Christ’s second coming there would be a change in economy, in other words, a premillennial return of the Lord.

      It means that Darby’s view of Christ’s return without intervening events-the pre-trib rapture-came to him as a result of arriving at an understanding of the uniqueness of the church, as opposed to Israel.  As is true of pretribulationists today, their pretribulationism is built upon a view of the church (ecclesiology), which when applied to eschatology produces this view.  It means that from day one (December 1826 and January 1827) that Darby had the theological rationale, whose basics never changed, that further support the notion that pretribulationism, along with dispensationalism, were a product of his own thought based upon Bible study.

 

Darby Pre-dates Others

      The dates of December 1826 and January 1827 as the point in which Darby discovers these doctrines means that even if others developed a pre-trib rapture viewpoint, which they did not, but for the sake of argument we will consider their dates compared with Darby’s.  The earliest suggestion is that Darby was influenced by Manuel de Lacunza’s (1731–1801) book that was translated from Spanish into English by Edward Irving (1792–1834) and was published in the Spring of 1827.  First of all, no pre-trib rapture was taught in that book.[vii]  Thus, Darby would have already developed his views months before it would have been possible for him to have been influenced by de Lacunza’s writings.

      Along the same line, some have suggested that Darby was influenced by the 194-page introduction penned by Edward Irving that appeared in de Lacunza’s book.  The same point made above would be that it came out months after Darby’s discovery and could not be the source.  Further Irving never held to pretribulationism, instead, he believed a form of historicism that was similar to de Lacunza.  After all, Irving was so impressed with de Lacunza that he learned Spanish and translated his book.

      Dave MacPherson has made the claim “that the popular Pre-Trib Rapture teaching of today was really instigated by a teenager in Scotland who lived in the early 1800’s,”[viii]  April 1830 is when fifteen-year old Margaret Macdonald (1815–1840) is alleged to have come up with the idea in a prophecy she gave that was written down and circulated.[ix]  Once again the problem arises, how can a source that anti-dates by almost three and a half years Darby’s pretribulationism be his source?  Like the other suggestions, Macdonald’s prophecy does not come close to even teaching a pre-trib rapture.

      In 1864 Samuel P. Tregelles (1813–1875) said that Darby’s view of the rapture was “given forth as an “utterance” in Mr. Irving’s church.”  He also claimed that this occurred “about the year 1832.”[x]  This would be different than the Margaret Macdonald claim since Miss Macdonald was in Scotland and Irving’s church was in London.  Tregelles’ claim also falls short since it would have been a full five years after Darby became pretribulational from his own Bible study and meditation.

 

Conclusion

      Many people down through the years have believed these false claims from those who dislike Darby or the pre-trib rapture doctrine and have spread these myths far and wide.  These pseudo-sources of pretribulationism are intended to cast a cloud upon its origin as coming from occultic or demonic sources.  Instead, I have been able to show that in reality pretribulationism was a product of Darby’s own Holy Spirit guided Bible study.  Maranatha!

 

ENDNOTES

 

 


[i] Dave MacPherson, The Great Rapture Hoax (Fletcher, NC: New Puritan Library, 1983), p. 7.  MacPherson’s most recent offering is The Rapture Plot (Muskogee, OK: Artisan Publishers, 2007).

[ii] J. N. Darby, Letters of J. N. Darby, Volume Three 1879-1882 (Oak Park, IL: Bible Truth Publishers, 1971), p. 298.

[iii] Timothy C. F. Stunt, From Awakening to Secession: Radical Evangelicals in Switzerland and Britain 1815–35 (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 2000), p. 391.

[iv] Max S. Weremchuk, John Nelson Darby (Neptune, NJ: Loizeaux Brothers, 1992), pp. 47–48.

[v] Darby, Letters of Darby, vol. 3, pp. 298–99.

[vi] J. N. Darby, Letters of J. N. Darby, Volume Two 1868-1879 (Oak Park, IL: Bible Truth Publishers, 1971), p. 499.

[vii] Juan Josafat Ben-Ezra, The Coming of Messiah in Glory and Majesty, 2 vols, translated by Edward Irving (London: L. B. Seeley and son, 1827). Juan Josafat Ben-Ezra was a pseudonym that Manuel de Lacunza published under.

[viii] MacPherson, Rapture Hoax, p. 7.

[ix] Robert Norton, who later married Miss Macdonald, provides her prophecy in two different books.  There are differences between the accounts.  Memoirs of James & George Macdonald, of Port Glasgow (London: John F. Shaw, 1840), pp. 171–76; The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets; In the Catholic Apostolic Church (London: Bosworth & Harrison, 1861), pp. 15–18.

[x] S. P. Tregelles, The Hope of Christ’s Second Coming: How is it Taught in Scripture? And Why? (Chelmsford, England: The Sovereign Grace Advent Testimony, 1886), p. 35.

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