A Book of Contradictions?
By Jack Kinsella
A reader emailed me to let me know that he knows for a fact that the Rapture is a false doctrine invented by J.N. Darby in the 1830’s. Not only is he certain of his facts, he offered me $1000.00 to prove him wrong.
All I have to do to collect it is satisfy him that he is wrong.
To make his case, he sent me a whole pageful of URLs from other like-minded websites, all eager to make the case that Dispensationalism is a fraud and that there is no Rapture. There were all the usual verses pulled out of context in order to support their position.
First, let’s clarify what that position is. There is no Rapture and no Dispensationalism. So there is no difference between the Age of the Law and the Church Age. No difference between the Tribulation and the Millennium.
In fact, there is no Church Age, no Tribulation Period and no Millennium, because if there were, they would be different dispensations. It is a difficult argument to make, since to make it, they have to make reference to something they deny exists.
In reading through some of the material that my correspondent sent me, they seem to see as their main responsibility, not so much the conversion of sinners, but rather, the conversion of Dispensational Rapturists to their way of thinking.
One such website, demonbuster.com, explains their mission as follows:
“The purpose of this page is to make sure you are not one of the Christians involved in THE GREAT FALLING AWAY. Let me first say that JESUS IS COMING AGAIN. He just is NOT taking us out of this world while singing, “I’ll fly away”.
Why is that? WHY devote an entire website to “making sure” its readers don’t believe in the Rapture? Does the Rapture have something to do with salvation? NO, says the ‘demonbuster’.
“The Rapture theory has nothing to do with your Salvation. Just make sure you are ready to meet Jesus, no matter how or when you die, or when Jesus returns to the earth to set up His Kingdom.”
If it has NOTHING to do with salvation, then why dedicate a website to mocking those Christians that believe otherwise? Is there some purpose behind that position?
One might ask me the same question: “Why do you devote so much of your website to teaching it?” Fair enough. Remove the division between the Dispensations and suddenly, the Bible is filled with contradictions.
– The Bible says, “an eye for an eye.” (Exodus 21:24)
– The Bible says, “turn the other cheek” (Matthew 5:39)
– The Bible says, “thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them” (Deuteronomy 7:2)
– The Bible says, “Vengeance is Mine, saith the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)
– The Bible says, “Greater is He that is in you than He that is in the world” (1 John 4:4)
– The Bible says, “And power was given him over the saints to overcome them” (Revelation 13:7)
– The Bible says, “I will never leave nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)
– The Bible says, “but if ye forsake Him, He will forsake you.” (2 Chronicles 15:2)
So, which one is true? An eye for an eye? Or “Vengeance is mine”? Will He forsake us? Or not?
If there is no difference between the Age of the Law and the Church Age, then why don’t Christians obey the Bible’s dietary laws? Or keep the Ten Commandments?
(Do you have any pictures in your home? Or a TV? You are in violation of the Second Commandment prohibiting ‘graven images’.)
Remove the Dispensations, including the Rapture, and Bible prophecy reverts back to a hodgepodge of symbolic heads, horns and beasts with no real application to the real world.
Which is pretty much how it was for almost nineteen hundred years, until unfolding Bible prophecy also revealed a doctrine that had until then, been lost to the Church since the days before Constantine.
This helps to explain why dispensationalists make up but a tiny minority of the professing Church, and why almost all mainstream Protestant and Catholic Churches ignore Bible prophecy as irrelevant.
Indeed, the world’s largest Christian denomination, the Roman Catholic Church, denies any possibility of a Rapture at any time. Catholicism teaches that, even saved people still have unforgiven sins at the time of their deaths.
Purgatory, according to the Catholic encyclopedia, is a,
“place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.”
Depending on one’s sins, one could spend hundreds, or even thousands of years, in Purgatory, unless some living person prays you out of there by obtaining from the Church something called a ‘Plenary Indulgence’.
A Rapture of the Church cannot therefore exist, without first eliminating the doctrine of Purgatory.
Christian Reconstructionism, which represents the majority of mainstream theological thought, teaches that all Bible prophecy was fulfilled with the Destruction of the Temple in AD 70.
It teaches that Jesus will not return again until the Second Coming and His Second Coming will not occur until Christianity becomes the world’s dominant religion and the world itself is prepared by the Church to accept Him when He comes.
And things that are different are not the same.
When applied to a sinner seeking forgiveness for his sins and trusting in Jesus for salvation, sincerity is an essential element. One cannot fool God. But sincerity is no substitute for scholarship, and one can be sincere and be sincerely wrong.
The doctrine of the Rapture, when expressed out loud and described to an unbeliever, sounds almost like a science-fiction story or a religious fable. Especially when one is articulating it to a skeptic.
Until one compares it to the more mainstream interpretations. They share a common denominator that, to a discerning Christian, leaves no doubt as to which view is in error.
Note that Catholics must finish paying for their sins in Purgatory before they can enter heaven. And whether or not they enter at all depends on their state of grace at the time of their death.
Whether or not they make it to Purgatory depends on their own works, and when they get out is conditional on their making their own payment for sin.
Note that Reconstructionism also demands that man purify himself by his actions and conduct, thereby influencing the world for good until eventually, all men turn to Christ, at which time, the Lord will return. Jesus can’t come back to the world until we human beings make it a fit place for Him to set Foot on.
Both views subtly deny His Deity, while elevating man to the place where he plays a role in his own salvation. The forgiveness of Christ is not all-sufficient and His power is limited and conditional upon human behavior.
Jesus cannot keep you after salvation unless you are somehow able to keep from sinning from there on in. If you sin hard enough, you will sin yourself out of His Hands, in spite of His promise;
“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My Hand. My Father, which gave them Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father’s Hand.” (John 10:28-29)
Man cannot help but want to play a role in his own salvation. It is a matter of pride. The very first time it rears its head in human history is in the Garden of Eden. Compare the First Lie with the doctrine of conditional salvation:
“And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5)
Starting back to front, is it possible for a fallible human being to know good from evil? We can know right from wrong, but good and evil are not actions, they are outcomes, and only God knows outcomes.
One can give a bum on the street some money for food. That is a good thing. The bum spends the money on crack cocaine, and then kills an innocent person while under the influence. That’s an evil thing.
Both events sprang from your gift of money. Were you right to give the bum some money? After all, you have been blessed by God with a little extra, and you felt led to help the guy out.
Right and wrong are obvious. Good and evil are outcomes, and therefore exclusive to the provinces of God.
But according to Reconstructionism, the world is too evil a place for the Lord to return to, and it is the role of the Church to make it ‘good’.
The next lie, in reverse order, is that ‘we shall be as gods’. James writes that, “There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy…” (James 4:12)
Salvation is the sole province of God.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)
Note there are two elements to this verse, ‘grace’ and ‘faith’. One of them is a ‘gift of God’. Which? Is it ‘grace’? Only if one redefines an action to become a thing.
‘Grace’ means the extension, or offer, of a gift. One cannot give grace AS a gift — grace is the giving OF the gift.
Grace is not the thing being given, it is the offer of the gift. The offer is gracious, even if the gift is not accepted. So, what is the gift? The Bible tells us that it is NOT “of ourselves.” What does that mean?
That brings us to the second element, the element of ‘faith’. FAITH is the gift of God, not grace, which is the extension of the gift itself.
That means that even that saving faith is not of ourselves, but is God’s gift to us. Our role as an active participant in our salvation is therefore excluded. We do nothing to be saved but accept the gift of faith, without which we could not be saved.
We are not ‘as gods’ — no matter how sincerely we want to believe otherwise.
The third lie, in reverse order, is that by straying away from the Word of God, ‘our eyes will be opened’ to truths that would have otherwise escaped us.
Note that when the serpent asked Eve to repeat God’s prohibition, she replied, “of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” (Genesis 3:3)
God never told her not to ‘touch it’ — she added that part, which provided the serpent with all the leeway he needed to cast doubt on her understanding of the rest.
“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired TO MAKE ONE WISE, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat…” (Genesis 3:6)
Returning to the original question, is it possible that our understanding of eternal security is wrong and that the mainstream was right all along? That there is no Rapture, that Bible prophecy was all fulfilled already, and that we are simply seeking some mythical “Great Escape?”
After all, they argue, why should one generation, out of all those who came before, be chosen as the generation that will never die? It is a compelling argument. Viewed that way, it doesn’t really seem fair. Who do we think we are?
The Rapture is as earned and deserved as our salvation, which we obtained through God’s extension of grace whereby He gifted us with saving faith. That saving faith is in the unearned remission of our sins which was obtained on our behalf on Calvary’s Cross.
We’ve explored the Scriptures that clearly promise a coming Rapture, and examined all the various views at one point or another. A pretribulation Rapture of the Church is in harmony with the Scriptures for the last days.
Fairness, insofar as mankind views fairness, is irrelevant. ‘Fairness’ as we understand fairness, would be when each of us pays our own way.
But all of us are saved on the understanding that Jesus was condemned ‘unfairly’ for sin and His payment was therefore acceptable payment for our own sins.
Faith in Christ means faith in Christ, not in men, or in our own actions, or in what we believe sounds ‘fair.’
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:1-3)
The Blessed Hope is so-called because it is both hopeful and the promise of a blessing. Why anybody would make it their mission to steal it away is baffling.
The only conclusion I can reach is that the enemy prefers to work in the shadows and Dispensationalism shines too bright a light on the times in which we are living.
It tends to make one hopeful. It tends to make one look up. It lends a sense of urgency to giving the warning to the lost. Maybe the effort to discredit it as a doctrine isn’t so baffling, after all.
And he can keep the $1000.00.
Originally Published: July 2, 2012.