And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 17, Number
In this issue:
Joe R. Price
I learned today there will be another "Left Behind" movie this fall. You know, the ones where people disappear and cars crash because "in case of the rapture, this car will be unmanned". Here we go again.
The doctrine of the rapture is getting some serious opposition from some unlikely sources, including William Craig, a Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology and Professor of Philosophy at Houston Baptist University. Craig says "This doctrine is not really found in the book of Revelation. If you read the book of Revelation, you won't find any mention of the rapture there" ("No, Christians Should Not Believe in 'Left Behind's' Rapture Theology, Says Prominent Apologist", Morgan Lee, www.christianpost.com). He is correct. Not only does The Revelation not teach the rapture doctrine, neither does the rest of the Bible.
That sounds about right. And, there are variations on the theme: Pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation and post-tribulation (see "Rapture", Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary).
The main verse used to support this error is 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, a verse that comforts Christians concerning participation in the events of Christ's return, whether dead or alive. This verse is very clear. It is a snapshot of Christians when Jesus returns. Christians who die before Christ's return will not miss out! There is hope and comfort in knowing Christians will be with the Lord when He returns, whether they are alive or have already died (1 Ths. 4:13, 18).
This verse destroys the rapture doctrine. Verse 16 says the return of Christ will be visual ("the Lord Himself") and audible (a shout, a voice and a trumpet)- the very opposite of what the rapture doctrine says (silent, invisible catching away). The verse also assures us that all Christians will be "caught up together...in the clouds" where we will "meet the Lord in the air" and "thus" (in this manner) always be with the Lord (v. 17). No coming back to earth after seven years - or ever. Comfort yourself with these words (1 Ths. 4:18). The rapture doctrine is false.
16 He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, 17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. 18 Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666. (Revelation 13:15-18)
This rich symbolism foretold severe persecutions faced by early Christians from the Roman Empire as paganism and Caesar-worship was compelled upon its citizens. Death awaited those who did not worship Caesar ("the image of the beast", v. 16). Those faithful to the beast were marked (identified) and given freedom in the market and societal acceptance. The oppressive persecution of Christians would not succeed; the number of the beast (666) represents failure upon failure upon failure: Complete doom.
Now, fast forward to the present. In July the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) invaded the Iraqi city of Mosul. On July 18 ISIS gave the Christians (the term is here applied to those who comprise the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East) three options: "accept Islam, pay extra taxes to Islamic Sharia courts or face 'death by the sword.' The message added that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has agreed to allow them (Christians who do not agree to convert or pay extra taxes) to leave the embattled city by noon Saturday (5 a.m. ET). After that, the message said, “the only option is the sword." ("Ominous sign: Homes of Christians in Mosul marked", Dwight Bashir, twitchy.com) Houses belonging to these "Christians" were marked with the Arabic letter N "which stands for 'Nasrani' which means Christian in Arabic" ("ISIS in Mosul Marks Christian Homes, Patriarch Issues Urgent Appeal", aina.org).
Although not New Testament Christians, what has happened to these people in Mosul is a stark reminder of the cost that must be paid in order to follow Jesus. If we think because we are not being compelled to submit to Islam, pay a tax or die that somehow our faith is not being put to the test today, then we are sadly mistaken. And vulnerable. Too many Christians have freely given their allegiance to others without being compelled at all! For instance, the fear of losing men's favor leads not a few Christians to compromise their moral purity in order to "be accepted" by their worldly friends (Matt. 10:28; 1 Cor. 15:33-34).
The day may well come when our lives are threatened because of our faith. Will we refuse to be identified with those who reject Christ and His truth? Or, will we relent in order to eat, to feed our families and to live? Jesus meant it when He said the one who follows Him must deny himself (Lk. 9:23-24). The question is not whether the price is high; the question is will we pay the price, even if it means losing our life? Come to think of it, our life should already belong to Jesus. If it does, then live or die, we are His.
Scripture Reading: Jude 16-23
1. Always a need for mature Christians to help the weak, the struggling and
those overtaken by sin, Gal. 6:1-2.
I. EQUIP YOURSELF TO TRY TO SAVE SOME.
Spiritual: Be Led by the Spirit of God, Rom. 8:5-8; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Gal.
II. MISSING, LOSING AND/OR MISUSING OUR OPPORTUNITIES.
Self-Righteousness, Lk. 18:9-14.
Scripture Reading: 2 Timothy 2:22-26
If you cannot answer the word of God and do not want to follow it, do one of the following and you will be sure to continue on the course of error, sin and death.
I. KILL THE MESSENGER.
Error Cannot Withstand the Light of Truth, Jno. 3:19-21; Lk. 11:53-54.
(Jesus, Matt. 26:59-65; Stephen, Acts 6:8-14)
II. BUILD A STRAW MAN AND BEAT IT UP!
Debater Tactic to Incite Prejudice and Garner Sympathy.
III. USE CRITICAL NAMES DESIGNED TO RIDICULE AND ISOLATE THE FAITHFUL.
“You have Sin, too, So You’re a Hypocrite if you Say I’m Sinning!” Gal. 6:1
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Soft Tissue found in Dino Fossil
A two-foot long, twenty pound triceratops horn was discovered in Montana in May 2012 with soft tissue in it. Scientist Mark Armitage, a believer in the creation model of origins (along with associate Kevin Anderson), made the find while working for California State University, Northridge, (CSUN). In February 2013 their discovery was published in a scientific journal, Acta Histochemica. "While the Acta Histochemica paper doesn’t make any claim on the age of the fossil, Anderson said the preservation of soft tissue—absent a convincing explanation—suggests the horn is far less than 65 million years old, the approximate date that would be assigned to the triceratops based on a standard interpretation of the Hell Creek Formation" ("Discovery of Partially Fossilized Dinosaur Horn Prompts Creationism Debate", Daniel James Devine, christianheadlines.com). Shortly after the finding was published Armitage was dismissed from his job with CSUN (lack of funding was cited). This week the Pacific Justice Institute filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against the school on Armitage's behalf. "According to court documents, shortly after the original soft tissue discovery, a university official challenged the motives of Armitage, by shouting at him, 'We are not going to tolerate your religion in this department!'" ("University Silences Scientist After Dinosaur Discovery", pacificjustice.org).
This is not the first time soft tissue has been found in dinosaur fossils. "'These are real dinosaur tissues, loaded with real dinosaur cells,' Anderson said. 'How is it they were preserved?' He believes the preservation of soft tissue challenges the assumption that the fossil is at least 65 million years old. According to the evolutionary timescale, triceratops lived at the end of the Cretaceous Period, which would have spanned 65 to 145 million years ago. 'We have biological evidence that it’s not 65 million years,' Anderson said of his discovery." (op cit., Devine). The discoveries of men continue to demonstrate the Biblical model of creation (Acts 4:24; 17:24).
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 08/03/2014
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA