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Eschatology Issues XXVI

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Question #1:


Where do you think the evidence lies? Did Tacitus make up the Neronian persecution, or is there corroboration?

Response #1:

I don't find any reason to doubt the gist of what Tacitus, a fairly reliable historian, reports (allowing for hyperbole, perhaps). One has to understand that when we are talking about ancient history the amount of evidence is minuscule compared to researching anything from, say, the 15th cent. onward (following the invention of the printing press and the commencement of modern record keeping). The Romans kept good records, but the barbarians destroyed them all with few exceptions. As to the article, this is the kind of thing ancient historians (including myself) do all the time. It's not evidence, merely a re-sifting of it (I'm not convinced of the skepticism advanced here – not that it matters).

On the persecutions which the Bible itself references, see the link: "the ten days of Roman persecution"

Question #2:

Thank you for letting me know about BB 6A being posted! Look forward to it. Right now I'm going through Harmartiology and that's been a very good read. I was going to email you about it because one of your statements in it really stuck out to me because it applied to me pretty well. It was the part where you mentioned how we cannot become fixated on spiritual offense to the exclusion of spiritual defense or vice versa. I must confess I have been struggling with this and its has caused me great concern. So when I read it, it immediately stuck out to me and I taped it on my wall, although it has become fixated in my heart which is even better. I know the best spiritual times in my life are coming, yes I know they entail suffering, but perspective can be everything. As you have said before, we should not take spiritual attacks personally, and I do believe we should view all our personal struggles with joy, as we are supposed to take pains to be joyful.

By the way, what do you think about me learning church history? I was talking to Mr. Omo about this and I ordered the book he mentioned by Williston Walker. I would only be going through it two days out of the week or on my days off for maybe a total of about 4 hours or so as this is about the only time I would have. I know there is so much but I figured I would hone in on it for the next 8 or so years, however much time I have. I must confess I never started the languages, and it looks like I may never do so, although I never know. So I figured I would try to learn at least some church history, regardless of how long and difficult it may prove. I know the languages are preferable to learn, but I figured something is better than nothing.

In Christ

Response #2:

Thanks for the update, my friend. It's always a shot in the arm to hear that these materials have helped a person grow.

True, there's not much time left (the way I interpret things); whatever you can do between now and the time the Lord puts you into service is a good thing.

Church history is good to know – to a point. As I have often remarked, however, "church history" is a secular pursuit and if someone were writing a chapter about today, doubtless Curt Omo of Bible Academy (link) and I would not make it into the book; there would be a lot about Liberty college and their engagement in politics, the persecution of "Christians" in Muslim lands, the developments in Roman Catholicism, the decline of mainline denominations, the LGBT issue, the rise of the Charismatics, Billy Graham and his son, TV "Christian" shows and networks, evangelicals supporting Trump, etc. Westoboro Baptist might get mentioned – but along with most of the others that would be treated, one wonders how good a job they are doing for Christ . . . and in far too many cases whether or not they are even Christians. In short, the "church visible" is NOT the Church of Jesus Christ, and sometimes the overlap is very tenuous indeed. That is the case in "church history" too. We know about the history of the Church until about 60 A.D. from the book of Acts and the epistles; after that, we know about those groups and individuals who left non-canonical works or who caught the attention of the world so as to be recorded here or there. To find out who the real heroes were, we'll have to wait for the judgment seat of Christ. That is true of e.g. the tenth century, and it is true of today as well.

Since as a prospective teacher you are going to be interacting with people from different backgrounds, however, it is good to know something about traditional church history, so Walker is not a bad place to start; he is very liberal and that is a problem, but he includes a lot of good information after about the fourth century. You might want to look up persons / events mentioned which you are wondering about in an alternative source for good measure.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #3:

On the date of the Apostle John’s death, in the Coming Tribulation you stated that you think that John died circa 70 AD, and that his death was part of the transition into the era of Ephesus in the Church Age. My question is how that fits into what some early church fathers have said. Since Polycarp was born in 69 AD, does that make either him or Irenaeus a liar? From what I understand Irenaeus said that he heard Polycarp speak about being instructed by the Apostle John. If John died in 70 AD that would mean one of those two was lying, right? It’s also my understanding that the first time in Church History that we have a recorded instance of someone saying that they received a tradition that was passed down directly from the Apostles outside of the Bible is Irenaeus claiming that Jesus was 50 years old when he died (which he needed to be the case to support his recapitulation theory of the atonement), so it’s not like I’m expecting Irenaeus to be right about everything. Papias would have been 10 in 70 AD, so it’s feasible that he could have met John as a young boy. Is it possible that John could have lived until 82 AD (i.e. the end of the era of Ephesus)? This would explain the traditions that John settled in Ephesus, which would be fitting for the name of the era in which he was the only living Apostle (as opposed to the first era without any apostles), and Polycarp would have been 13 in 82, making it more feasible that he could have been known John.

Response #3:

Polycarp's letters and the letters / works which talk about Polycarp are not canonical. So we can't take anything they say as necessarily true. Rather than accusing the writers of "lying", I would find these hagiographical and biographical works to be in the mainstream of the Classical tradition which culls all manner of details out whatever remains and sets things down comprehensively as if factual, drawing any number of potentially erroneous conclusions from definitely questionable evidence. How do we know how old Polycarp was when he died? Because some piece written about him says so? How do we know for certain that he died at the time usually stated? Because of correlation of one or two bits of data, "facts" which cannot be certified on either side of the equation (i.e., not just P's age but also the supposed anchor dates too)? If any of the data points are incorrect, the problem you suggest is resolved by rejecting these traditional "conclusions". Even if not, how do we know that P' actually even set eyes on John (He doesn't quote from John's gospel in his letter)? Because Irenaeus supposedly says so (we need not worry about Tertullian who knew as much about Polycarp as I do about Abraham Lincoln – same approximate chronological remove)? In short, I'm not sure these "facts" are true – but we do know that scripture is.

Question #4:

Hi Bob,

The Testimonium Flavianum; Is it completely authentic, partially authentic, or a complete forgery?

Response #4:

It's an interpolation into Josephus, one of unknown origin.

We know that among other reasons because the name "Christian" is not attested before the third century and Josephus wrote the work in which this interpolation appears at the end of the first century. Tacitus and Suetonius, writing at about the same time – actually a little later – still preserve the original "Chrestus" (not "Christus"). For the details: "What does the name 'Christian' mean?".

Question #5:

Very interesting! What about the part where he mentions "James, Brother of Jesus"?

Response #5:

It's undoubtedly original to Josephus . . . which means only that Josephus wrote this passage.

Question #6:

"James the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ"... is the "Christ" subordinate clause an interpolation?

Response #6:

I don't have access to the best mss. or critical editions of Josephus at present, but there seems no reason to doubt this as original. "Jesus who was called 'Anointed' (i.e., 'Messiah')" is the type of qualification we should expect from the likes of Josephus.

In Jesus who IS the Christ,

Bob L.

Question #7:

Someone said that the "Jesus" is referring to "Jesus son of Damneus" who is mentioned at the end of the passage. I don't know how viable that interpretation is. It does seem to me that he is referring to the death of the same James, brother of Jesus mentioned in the epistles. Especially because he was a celebrity around Jerusalem.

Response #7:

Seems to me to be an effort to "cleanse" Josephus. But for this interpretation to work it would be necessary to remove "called 'Anointed'" from the text; as I say, it doesn't stand to reason to do so from the sense, and I don't know of any mss. evidence for doing so. But again, we're talking about Josephus here, not the Bible. Josephus in my opinion is a very dilettantish historian who is also trying to entertain and shape history for his own purposes. I don't much trust anything he has to say.

Question #8:

I don't think it is possible to cleanse Josephus. He mentions John the Baptist in a very extended section and even gives information about him that is external to the gospels (like that he was imprisoned along the delta of the Jordan River) which suggests that he was an eyewitness to John independent from the gospel writers.

There's also a matter of intellectual honesty. We have Ignatius of Antioch clearly and unambiguously reference Matthew and Luke in his epistles, indicating that by the very early second century the synoptics were widely dispersed throughout the Roman Empire. How did they get so dispersed by the late first century? Because they were written all prior to A.D. 70. And if they were written all within decades of the lifetimes of all the major players...how can they be doubted as being unreliable?

Response #8:

Good points!!!

Question #9:

In Revelation 1:10 when John says, “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day…” is “the Lord’s Day” the same as the “Day of the Lord”? I have heard from multiple sources (Dr. White being one of them) that “the Lord’s Day” is a reference to Sunday, the first day of the week, because it’s the day of Jesus’ resurrection, and we see in Acts 20:7 that the early church was already meeting on that day. So does “the Lord’s Day” here refer to the prophetic “Day of the Lord”, or simply to Sunday because that’s the day of the week when John would have been worshipping as a Christian?

Response #9:

The reference is clearly to Sunday. John phrases this much differently from "the Day of the Lord" or similar phrasing by using the adjective kyriakos ("belonging to the Lord") in addition to "day" = almost "Lord's-day".

Question #10:

Hi Bob and family,

I was talking to someone yesterday about the ‘catching away’ and explaining the different views that people have and he thought about it and asked a question that kind of took me by surprise a little. He asked, does it really matter which view you hold – is it a salvation issue?

It caused me to think and I said, not in the sense you are asking but if you put your hope in the pre-trib view you really have no fear of Tribulation because you are thinking you won’t be here but if it happens after Tribulation, which is the correct view, you won’t be spiritually prepared for what is coming. And that will make it very difficult to survive as there is no way of surviving without His help and you will need a preparation of mind for that.

You could also be among those who hold to the pre-trib view and when they realise it has already begun and they are still here, their disappointment could turn to despair and perhaps even end up hating God. And they may take the mark to be able to buy and sell just to survive.

Of course, they will realise their mistake when they see Him at the end and plead for forgiveness – but to no avail. Anyone taking the mark has forfeited their opportunity, even in ignorance – it will be too late. Taking the mark is the point of no return and there is simply no forgiveness for taking the mark – you will have sold your sole to the devil.

It was an interesting conversation and it gave him something to think about and I hope to continue it in the future.

As you have said before there will be much ‘work to do’ when these days arrive and I know if I can do my best and sew a seed of faith, God will do the watering.

I am eagerly immersing myself in your latest work – enjoying it so much and so very good. Will make this do for now and again dear Bob, with brotherly love,

Response #10:

Always great to hear from you, my friend. I keep you and your family in my daily prayers.

Very well done on your part, my friend. I think if this person is/was at all interested in giving the truth a fair consideration you hit him "right between the eyes" with it. Nice job.

One small thing to add. No one is going to hell by accident. The devil is the master of deception, but the prohibition against taking the mark couldn't be more clear, and there will be a worldwide supernatural warning against it as the Great Tribulation begins (Rev.14:9-11). The mark will be something people line up to get because of the "benefits" it confers (and the persecution it avoids). But its meaning – worshiping the beast – will be beyond clear. So I don't think, actually, that genuine believers will take the mark. In each and every case, I suspect that a person will have to have already lost faith / reverted to being an unbeliever before taking the mark. The mark will merely be – in those cases – the manifestation of lost faith / apostasy.

Hardening one's heart against the truth so as to be able to take the mark in spite of the supernatural warning is a measure of the grand self-deception in which the whole world will partake at that time – believers who know their Lord and who are willing to follow Him even unto death being the only notable exceptions.

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #11:

Rev 18:23 says in part: ...for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.

How should I understand this? Sorceries via witchcraft, etc., is possible, but if the original Greek indicates magic powders and potions - pharmaceuticals or, perhaps food additives and vaccines, that seems a more reasonable understanding. Is this correct or am I off in the weeds again?

On another front, do you know of a NIV '84 translation in large print? My current version is a study Bible in 4-4.5 point type and my tired old eyes can't deal with that anymore. I would be looking for something in 12 point or larger and I'm finding little online. Don't go to a lot of effort, but should you know of anything, I would appreciate it.


Yours in Jesus Christ,

Response #11:

Taking these in reverse order, I found a 1984 NIV large print on ABE book exchange for $6.49 ($3.00 shipping) at the link: NIV Large Print Bible (Zondervan 1985).

As to Revelation 18:23, pharmakeia is meant broadly in terms of mystery-Babylon's satanic influence on the world; one could say that this "cultural" influence acts a magic potion of sorts to corrupt the world (cf. the golden cup in the hands of the prostitute in Rev.17:4, "full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication" KJV). So "cultural" and religious influence leading to the worship of the beast is the main application, but one would not want to rule out any of her outrageous behaviors that lead to this same evil goal.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #12:

Hi Bob,

What a horrible judgment the last judgment will be! They shall arise to a voice that is not friendly or inviting but dreadful and death-inducing. And they will be given a complete tour of the history of their life.

But that's not the worst part. The worst part is not going over the history of your life. The worst part is that their history didn't have to be like this. The worst part is that the history could have been like a stroll through memory lane, as if you were looking through photographs of your previous vacation at the Rockies. History should be a pleasant study that makes you joyful and fills you with warm memories. That was God's design.

Response #12:

I think the lake of fire will be the worst part. The most incredible thing to me is that even if let out of the lake of fire and given another chance in life in corrupt bodies without immediate necessity and with the same opportunity to harden the heart against the truth . . . they would all do exactly the same thing all over again.

The plan of God is PERFECT.

In Jesus our dear Savior,

Bob L.

Question #13:

I think I am just reacting because I feel like I haven't done anything, even though I have felt a fire for a long time and yet I have no accomplishment, and the times I tried I messed it up, and I did spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure it out searching and reading instead of doing normal things and feel I didn't get much of anywhere. It is just feeling like failure and hopelessness and waste and bitterness. Passages I am referencing:

“And in the progression of Church eras related above, it seems clear that the material prosperity we enjoy today is much more the result of residual blessing from the era of Philadelphia than from our own efforts (in a manner analogous to spendthrift children enjoying an inheritance from thrifty parents).”

“The (relative) political stability, material prosperity, and scientific progress which followed in the wake of the era of Philadelphia was, from the standpoint of opportunity, a blessing, for it provided heretofore unheard of possibilities for individual Christians. In no other era have Christians collectively had as much time, as much freedom, and as much availability of necessary materials (everything from scriptures in original languages, opportunities for education, books, pamphlets, and potentially well-trained teachers) for spiritual advance.”

As I said before, this might fit the generations leading up to the most recent lifetime or so, but around the Millennial generation we don't have lots of free time or money or resources anything like in the recent past. And lots of books and articles (many of which I have searched through-though obviously not even scratched the surface) don't mean much if they are bad material and you don't know where the good material is. I don't think I would have ever have found your wonderful website if I had had any free time away from the Bible like the hyper religious Puritans.

I think that when you describe Laodicea in the Revelations, you might have gone a bit beyond what it actually says in the Scripture. It says that they-the people themselves-claim that they have it all. But I don't see the Scripture saying itself that they have more access to Bible teaching than every before or wealth than ever before. As someone who spent an unhealthy amount of time reading the Bible and searching for teaching for many years, I don't see an excess so available. I mean now that I finally discovered your website after years of searching, it is a real treasure and blessing. But it was after lots of digging, and it I had acted like the Puritans and -gasped- had some time not reading the Bible, I might never have found it.

I also don't see that people my age or younger actually do have lots of material wealth in reality-quite the opposite. Thousands of school loan debt, comparisons between lifestyles now vs in recent history, country itself trillions in debt, etc. But I do see them thinking and acting like they have it all (ironically while sitting in our sad little apartments alone with no family, little money, and lots of debt), which does fit with the Scripture. I mean them claiming it. And also the being lukewarm thing. I don't mean to accuse you or anything. Just that I don't know that the resources-like-never-before fits, it just says that that is what they claim to be so. And Scripture does seem to only say that it is a claim they make. Maybe it fits the 60s generation though? But in 8 years they will be the minority on the way out.

Response #13:

First off, as long as a Christian is alive, there is opportunity to grow, progress and produce. Each day brings new opportunities. It is a mistake and a trap to look back with regret – or to look back at all. As I often say, the only day that matters in the Christian life is "today"; yesterday is gone and cannot be changed (if we do look back, we need to see only the cross and the day we were saved by putting our faith in Christ); tomorrow is uncertain – we don't even know if we'll be given tomorrow (I had a dear Christian friend in graduate school not much older than yourself who was "fine" in the morning and deceased in the evening). But we do have today. And we need to make the best possible use of it for the Lord. Even those who have "done well for years" did it this same way: striving for the Lord one day at a time. There is nothing else. Looking back morbidly only keeps us from exploiting the opportunity which is "today".

On Laodicea, if you read the sections you included carefully, you will see I'm talking in general terms. And, generally speaking, these comments are dead-on correct. There was no internet in the 19th century, and most people lived on the farm still at that time. Even those who lived in cities were, except for the elites (who are the exception throughout history), generally limited in how far they could go to hear the truth on a regular basis. Today, we can video conference. Even many poor people in Africa have cell phones and internet access. In our country, how many young people don't have indoor plumbing or electricity or the internet and TV and radio? How many have to work eighty hours a week to survive? How many don't have enough to eat? There are exceptions to every generality, but even those with zero money are well-off by comparison with the past. I'm not rich either, believe me. But in terms of the quality of life we can have today even with a negative net worth, there is absolutely no comparison to anything in the past. In terms of what really counts, Greek and Hebrew can be learned online, and virtually everything a man needs to prepare for ministry is now there free for the taking (it does require work). And there are good Bible ministries available online too. I like to the think of Ichthys as one of these and I also highly recommend Bible Academy (at the link); learning the truth still requires work too. In the not too distant past, physical books were the only alternative to face to face local church teaching, and these were expensive and not that easy to find or to come by. Now it's all available at the click of a mouse. That is true even for most poor people in the US. But in spite of these advantages, interest in exploiting these opportunities (to prepare to minister or to be ministered to through the Word) has never been lower. Q.E.D.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #14:

I imagine you are in your late sixties, so I think you will go see all of your friends and family soon too. I will be sad when you are gone. At least life here doesn't go one forever for me either. The Bible is a comfort when I read it. At the very least I will be going to God, waiting for me.

I am very sorry about your friend. That must have been hard to lose someone you care about and so suddenly.

You are right. I will read the Bible, pray, and when I can, do Greek. That is something (I mean the prayer is something in the way over production at least). Yes I am materially better off than the average person in the past though. I am just kind of used to thinking of land/homesteading as wealth. But that is a narrow view. If I am living through the Tribulation, there will probably be serious opportunity then, anyway. At the very least to show that I love God more than anything. Thanks for your patience and help again.

Response #14:

Well, in the immortal words of Woody Guthrie, "I ain't dead yet!"

Also, it's not beyond the realm of the possible that I might struggle through to the second advent (it's only fifteen years away in my calculation of things).

But thanks for your kind words, and also about my friend. Yes, I'll have all eternity to worship the Lord along with her . . . and you and all of our brothers and sisters who love Jesus Christ more than anything in this world.

In Him,

Bob L.

Question #15:

Hi Bob!

One of the things in Christendom that disturbs me is the lack of spiritual discernment, especially in the Charismatic movement that seems to be dominating "Christianity" today. Why is there such a lack of spiritual discernment? There are even top Christian apologists and theologians that use "experience" rather than the truth of Scripture as if it replaces scripture. I don't doubt that there are times in our lives when we experience the goodness of God as we clearly see Him accomplishing His will in our lives; but I ALWAYS test the spirits and compare it with the Word of God. How does it come to be that such men and women who truly love God can fall into such error and lack of spiritual discernment?

As mentioned in a previous email, some internet "prophet" took scripture out of context and said that after the first week of August, the apocalypse will begin. Then there were hundreds of comments from Christians feeling terrible about themselves and felt that they needed to repent. Why now? This is something that should have been in the hearts of these believers all the time. The problem with this false prophecy is that it only takes one false word to show that someone is a false prophet. And now since it is obvious that this "prophecy" did not come to pass causes a lot of problems, such as those who put their trust in this internet prophet are now felt that they were let down. And I believe that this can cause people's faith to waver and cause them to stumble in the sense that them being on the alert for Christ's return is diminished. I cannot figure out why Christians can fall into such error. Why is this happening? and why is it so prevalent today more than ever? Thanks in advance!

God Bless,

Response #15:

The short answer to your question is "free will". Christians, like everyone else, have to make their own choices. Why is there such a prevalence of bad choices nowadays? Short answer: this is the era of Laodicea, the prophesied lukewarmness of the Church prior to the Tribulation.

All of your comments are spot on, my friend, and they bespeak something most of us who are truly desirous of pleasing the Lord HIS WAY (through spiritual growth, progress and production) often notice, namely, that we are getting farther and farther away from the rest of our brethren in our entire manner of looking at things. Because while they are looking at things like spiritual two year olds, we are advancing into ever greater spiritual maturity. So this is a natural consequence of the divergence in approaches between the majority Lukewarm and the minority "red hot" for Jesus Christ – in an actually biblical (rather than merely showy emotional) way.

Why is there so little discernment? Because there is so little attention to learning the truth of the Word of God.

When there is no [respect for] divine communication (lit., "vision" [from God] = the truth of the Word), the people are unrestrained, but he who obeys the Law (lit. "teaching" from God) will be blessed.
Proverbs 29:18

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #16:

Hi Robert,

Thank you so much for Ichthys. I haven't found any Bible study website like it. I've seen so much that isn't taught at Church. My class at Church is studying Colossians. In chapter one, verse twenty-four can you explain what Paul means that is still lacking? No one was clear on the meaning. Also, Paul mentions Laodicea in a positive way. Do you have any understanding about what happened between Colossians and Revelation? Thank you for your time and teaching.

Response #16:

Good to make your acquaintance – and thanks so much for these kind words.

As to your questions, let me take them in reverse. It is true that Paul mentions Laodicea four times in his epistle to the neighboring Colossians (Col.2:1; 4:13; 4:15; 4:16). I don't disagree that he does so "in a positive way" – at least there is nothing negative in what he says. But all of the passages are along the lines of expressing pastoral care and concern. Paul often does that and also upbraids the congregation in question pretty severely in the same letter (as in 1st Corinthians and Hebrews notably). So I'm not sure that we can draw the conclusion from these brief comments that there was nothing going on in Laodicea at the time which was not threatening in the direction mentioned in Revelation. Paul's letter was written ten to twenty years before Revelation, enough time, it seems to me, for a changing of the guard, the rise of a new generation which was far less enthusiastic about the truth than their parents had been. Also, the purpose in Revelation is different. The messages from our Lord are delivered in full knowledge of all that is truly going on, and are meant in the case of all seven churches to "cut to the quick" and lay bare the precise character of each (this was not Paul's purpose in his brief comments). And perhaps most importantly, the main purpose of the messages to the seven churches is to use them as templates for outlining the trends of the rest of the Church Age which follows, with each church representing an era of the Church Age and sequentially so (please see the link: "The Seven Churches"). The final era, Laodicea, the one we are currently in, is characterized by the lukewarmness which our Lord castigates, so this failing of the contemporary Laodicean church is emphasized also for that reason.

As to Colossians 1:24, this verse has to be interpreted in the light of "sharing the suffering of Christ" (Rom.8:17; 2Cor.1:5; Phil.1:29-30; 3:10; Col.1:24; 2Tim.2:12; 1Pet.4:12-13; cf. Matt.10:38; 16:24; Mk.8:34; 10:21; 10:38-39; Lk.9:23; 14:27; Acts 5:41; 2Cor.4:10-11; Gal.6:17; 1Thes.1:6; 2Thes.1:4-5; 2Tim.3:12; see the link: in CT 2A: ""sharing in the sufferings of Christ" is a part of the normal Christian experience").

Paul suffered greatly for the Lord (1Cor.4:8-13; 2Cor.4:7-12; 6:3-10; 11:16-33; Phil.3:7-11; et passim in Acts and the Pauline Epistles), and this is for all dedicated Christians as it was for Paul a part of our "imitation of Christ" (1Cor.11:1).

Then Jesus said to His disciples, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me."
Matthew 16:24 NKJV (cf. Matt.10:28; Mk.8:34; Lk.9:23; 14:27)

Our Christian lives, properly led, are focused on Christ, focused on what He did for us, and focused on following Him, carrying our own crosses in emulation of Him. That means being ready to sacrifice everything for Him at any time, bidding farewell in our hearts to everything in this world (Lk.14:33), and being ready to suffer for Him. This is the plan of God for Christ's Church (1Thes.3:4; 2Tim.3:12).

That being the case, the fulfillment of the Church can be viewed in several ways. One, of course, is the filling out of its prophesied number (matching the number of the fallen angels; see the Satanic Rebellion series, part 5 in particular; link); this Age will continue until that number is met and then the resurrection will occur at Christ's return.

However, it is also true that the Church is being left here in the world in order to witness to it and in order to win eternal rewards. The winning of these crowns et al. (at the link), involves spiritual growth, spiritual progress in passing testing and refining faith, and spiritual production – all things the Lord wants us to do, all of which involve suffering of one type or another. So another way to look at the fulfillment of the Church is the completion of its mission viewed individually and in the aggregate. That is what Paul is doing in the passage you ask about. In other words, when Paul says "I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church" (Col.1:24 NKJV), he is saying, in effect, "I'm doing my job" and implying "follow my example and do the same".

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:10 NKJV

When we engage in these "works" (growing spiritually, living accordingly in spite of opposition, and helping others do likewise), we are doing our part in completing the plan, "filling in what is not yet done or lacking" after which we will all see the Lord, and doing so in spite of suffering and opposition. We have it from our Lord that this process (and such suffering / testing) is necessary in order to maximize our production for Him:

"Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit."
John 15:2 NKJV

We know plenty from scripture about the specifics of the eschatological time-table which is set, and it's not as if we are going to affect in any way the working out of the perfect pre-ordained plan of God, but it is nice to know that we all have a job to do in "filling in what's to be done". It certainly ought to be motivation to follow Paul's lead and do it, even if there is pain with the gain (as there certainly will be).

Here's a link to a brief rebuttal of a false interpretation of this passage: "What is lacking"

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #17:

Hi Bob,

Hope you are well and enjoying summer. I thought it would perhaps be wise to request your view on the some interpretations where we seem to differ. They do not affect the gist of our end time interpretations, but does affect some of the detail. I would love to continue the 'side-by-side' development of our views, even if some of the detail differs. However, its up to you to decide whether you can live with the localized integration of our views or not.

They are the following:

1) Eternal Security: In my view Jesus is clear on this in John 6 and 10.
2) Pre-wrath rapture: To me the sixth seal represents the actual rapture, and not a preview.

The effect of these two differences can be seen in my posts '3.9 The 7-7-7 timetable' and '7.8 The Great Apostasy', If you agree that these are side-issues to the general post-trib theme, I would be delighted. If not, no worries, I will remove the references and all Ichthys content. Alternatively we can present the two views side-by- side and let the reader decide. (not that there are any readers of my blog!)

Thanks for your guidance,


Response #17:

I have no problems with how you decide to present things (as long as there is no mistaken impression given about the teaching at Ichthys).

I certainly would not part fellowship with you over these two doctrinal points, but they are very important. I have written quite extensively about both of them and will give you the links below, so what I have to say here is more along the lines of explaining the importance of getting these two teaching write (rather than a "ground up" teaching / defense of them; for that, please see the links). To take these in reverse order:

The so-called pre-Tribulation "rapture": It is often argued by proponents of this dangerous false doctrine (for which there is not one single shred of biblical evidence) that "it makes no difference". In fact, it makes a great deal of difference. We live in the final era of the Church Age, that of Laodicea, and Christians today as I'm sure you can affirm yourself are most definitely lukewarm when it comes to having the discipline or the interest to learn anything deep and true about the Bible and its teachings. If, however, they realized that the Tribulation was only a few years away, and, consequently, if they realized that they were going to be entering that Tribulation themselves (as opposed to being magically released by some "rapture" before it even begins), they might just be motivated to begin to prepare spiritually. At the very least, they might just take eschatological teachings seriously. As it is, eschatology for most genuine Christians today is merely a "fun" area of speculation, and they fell free to ignore it or entertain all manner of fantasies and false teachings about it precisely because "it doesn't matter". Problem is, it does matter. The Lord's typical m.o. is to bring us through trouble rather than giving us a completely free pass from it (does the exodus ring a bell?). If that is true of all of the believers of note in the Bible (and it is), and if that is our own Christian experience (and it is), then it certainly is likely to be true in this case as well – especially since the Bible has so very much to say about the Tribulation in both testaments. Why would the Lord give us so much information . . . if it didn't matter? He does so because it matters a great deal (as everyone will find out very shortly). There is much to say about the particulars (see the links), but what I always do with those who seem to think the Bible teaches a pre-Trib rapture is to just read – carefully and slowly read – Matthew chapter 24, and explain what these verses mean and when they occur considered at face value. Only exegetical gymnastics which violate the sanctity of scripture can a) find a pre-Trib resurrection here and/or b) fail to see that the resurrection occurs at our Lord's second advent return and not before, His parousia (as every other Old and New Testament passage also teaches). Here are those links:

The pre-Trib 'Rapture': so called 'imminence' and other false proofs refuted

Dangers of the Pre-Trib Rapture False Teaching

When is the Rapture?


The Origin and the Danger of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture Theory

No Rapture


Unconditional Eternal Security: For believers who really are trying to live their lives for Jesus Christ, this may be less of an issue – at the moment. However, during the Tribulation, one third of the actual Church is prophesied to apostatize (lose faith and thus lose life eternal), so that while the pressures of the present day may in fact be insufficient in most cases to lead some to depart from Christ aided in that bad decision by misunderstanding this point, during the Tribulation such a notion might be fatal. If "I am saved no matter what", then why not take the mark of the beast and avoid all the nasty persecution that is befalling other Christians? In fact, only believers are saved. In fact, it is possible for faith in Christ to be lost as scripture very clear affirms:

And those [whose seed of faith fell] on the rock do receive the Word with joy when they hear it. However these [types] have no root [to their faith]. They believe for a while, but in time of testing they apostatize.
Luke 8:13

People who "believer for a while" but then "apostatize" no longer believe by definition, and only believers are saved:

"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John 3:18 NKJV

The perfect tense employed by our Lord in the "because" clause indicates a state of disbelief at present – regardless of what may have happened in the past. Believers are described in scripture everywhere as "believers", that is "those who do [presently] have faith in Jesus Christ" – but what if a person loses faith, abandons faith, lets their faith die out completely? That person has rejected salvation of their own free will. Indeed, it is precisely to test and to demonstrate the genuineness of our faith that we are left in this world after salvation. Some persevere; some do not. That is a matter of choice. We have the image of God – free will; if we couldn't rebel / apostatize, we would no longer be free.

This is not to say that our salvation rests on "pins and needles". That is the opposite extreme on this issue and equally false. Losing one's faith is not the result of committing some sin and having salvation taken away. As long as we believe, we are saved, even if we are headed down a wrong path. Heading down the wrong road does injure us spiritually, does degrade our faith, and can lead to apostasy or the sin unto death (depending on our choices in rebellion against the Lord; see the link); but people never lose salvation accidentally or suddenly or without considering what they are doing. In every such case, they decide to turn away from Christ. So when you quote John 6 (abiding in Christ) or John 10 (no one being able to snatch a believer out of Christ or the Father's hands), it is good to consider that these and similar passages are speaking of the security of the believer in Christ; however, those who cease to abide and choose not to abide any longer, and those who themselves remove themselves from the embrace of the Father and of our Lord by turning away, rejecting Him, apostatizing from Him, are no longer believers, and thus no longer saved.

"But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’"
Luke 13:27 NIV

Here are those links:

The False Doctrine of Absolute Eternal Security III

The False Doctrine of Absolute Eternal Security II

The False Doctrine of Absolute Eternal Security I

Three False Doctrines

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #18:

Hi Bob,

Thanks for your grace in letting differences not getting in the way of continued exploring /development of our views. I did not fully explain the reasons for my views, hence your openness to engage was very encouraging if maybe a bit unexpected. Your detailed reply gave me so much more than I thought you'd have time for. From your explanation I now gather we are not too far apart on both the points mentioned. There is perhaps only a slight difference in perspective.

On eternal security, we agree that only believers are saved. Perhaps the difference in perspective is that I believe that God will 'keep' all his children from falling. (1Pet 1: "Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed at the last time"). I agree that faith saved us, and that those who keep believing are saved. The main implication is that I believe that the apostates are apparent believers (as far as we can establish - only God knows the heart) and were thus not saved in the first place because they had accepted some corrupted form of the gospel. They may have insisted in their hearts, for example, that some recognition of their efforts/works is due and needs to be added to Jesus' work on the cross. Such a corrupted gospel has no power to save. It seems both our interpretations regarding the state of other believers is dependant on the heart of the believer, and only God knows the heart. Persecution will definitely remove this uncertainty!

As for the pre-tribulation rapture, I fully agree with you that this is a false teaching. Regarding my cryptic second point, note the pre-wrath rapture is actually a little known version of the post tribulation interpretation. As you say, the rapture and the second coming of Jesus (as per Matt 24) will be after the Great Tribulation, not before, i.e. a post-trib rapture. I also agree Matt 24:29-31 corresponds to the sixth seal with the "Sun and moon being darkened,...", etc. in Revelation 6.

The difference is in our definition of the term 'tribulation' and of the 'Great Tribulation'. My definition ends the tribulation (including the Great Tribulation, as defined in the preceding Matt 24:21) at the point when the Sun and moon are being darkened (v29). The Great Tribulation is thus placed before the events of the sixth seal. Then we have Jesus' coming and the rapture, when the angels gather the elect. Clearly the tribulation is now over, as the rapture and the second coming of Jesus both are "AFTER the tribulation of this days (v29)". Thus both the tribulation and the Great Tribulation precede the trumpets and bowls. The trumpets and bowls are the outpouring of Gods wrath upon the unbelieving world, and are not part of the Great Tribulation.

Hence this version of the post tribulation rapture places the rapture before the wrath of God, hence the term pre-wrath rapture. This is likely to be sometime after the Abomination, which Jesus refers to in v15. The abomination is well before the v29 rapture. Because the rapture is thus within the 1260 days after the Abomination, during the time of Great Tribulation, which is then cut short, its timing is also indeterminate. Only the Father knows when He will decide that enough is enough, and cut short the persecution. This cutting short of v22 clarifies v36 about the day or the hour. That day will be sometime during the second half of the 70th week.

Thereafter the trumpets and bowls, which have a undefined start but, as you point out, a defined end.

Hope that better defines my pre-wrath one-liner in the previous email.


Response #18:

If only believers are saved, what about those who cease to believe? How can they possibly still be considered believers if they no longer believe?  So the logic of the argument you make seems persuasive, but this is theological territory. We have it from our Lord Himself that there are those who "believe" but then "fall away" into apostasy after the withering of their faith "plant", that is, the complete death of their faith (Lk.8:13).

Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:11-16 NIV

These verses (not to mention perhaps a quarter of the Bible) mean a great deal less to someone who is of the mistaken impression that nothing he/she could ever do would ever jeopardize his/her faith. Please do have a look at the previously provided links.

As to wrath, believers are never subject to the wrath of God – we have been delivered from "the wrath to come" (1Thes.1:10). That means that we will not be the object of our Lord's vengeance, during the Tribulation (when we will be brought through these trials like the Israelites during the ten plagues on Egypt); it does not mean we won't be there (just as the children of Israel were in Egypt during these plagues). When you say, "thus both the tribulation and the Great Tribulation precede the trumpets and bowls", I find no basis for even making such an argument. Revelation is largely chronological, and many of the events in both of these judgments clearly cannot take place at any other point than in their sequential, chronological place during the seven years (just consider Rev.16:17-19, for example). See "trumpet judgments" and "bowl judgments"; and for the meaning of the 42 months / 1,260 days, please see the link.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #19:

Thanks Bob,

What you say on Luke 8 is how I always used to see it. For me Luke 8 now reads differently. We did a Bible study on Luke 8 just a few months ago, and we noticed the end of the verse 12: Those by the way side are they that hear; then comes the devil, and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. (Luke 8:12 KJV) . Hence, if the seed (word) had germinated, they would have been saved, even if the heart (the wayside/road) was hard. Next, the v13 seed that falls in rocky soil. By the underlined definition of v12, this is a person that believes and is saved, whether it withers afterwards or not. The same with the plant that is choked, and brought no fruit to perfection. That is the magnificence of God's mercy.

I know this sounds radical, but I believe this is how radical God's eternal life promise and mercy is. With such a great promise in my soul I would never consider taking liberties with my promise of security and dishonor God deliberately, I also believe God will keep me from ever 'jeopardizing my faith'. Therefore we need not fear that eternal security would generate apathy and slackness, quite the contrary, I believe it emboldens. It has for me.

I really can see your point of view, that is always how I used to see it, but on closer inspection am not so sure anymore. Else the gospel is not really good news, is it, if the requirement is that I do have to multiply the seed hundredfold in order to know that we are saved?

I have read the scriptures on the warnings, against a 'spirit of unbelief', etc. Yes, there are many. It is a mystery, how the promises and warnings co-exist. If you lean towards the 'safe' side, I understand that. If I lean towards the 'extravagant' side, I'm sure that pleases God too.


Response #19:

Let me assure you, my friend, that I rejoice to the depth of my being in the great grace and mercy of the Lord. His mercy is so great and His love so immeasurable and the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ so ineffable that it can only be dimly comprehended as to its magnitude even by we who have made His Word our life.

. . . that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:17-19 NKJV

Please keep in mind, however, that this inimitable love of God wherein the Son died for all sin is directed towards unbelievers is well: Christ died for every one of their sins as well. So why are unbelievers not saved? Our Lord tells us why not:

"He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
John 3:18 NKJV

The issue is faith in Jesus Christ. Those who have faith in Jesus Christ are believers, and believers are saved; those who do not, are not.

What about someone who did believe in Christ but for some reason or other, persecution, disappointment, disillusionment with God because of some loss e.g., loses faith and comes to the point of no longer believing? That person is, by definition, not a believer, and only believers are saved. According to scripture, "a believer" is a person who possesses faith in Jesus Christ. This is most often expressed in the New Testament through the use of the present participle of the verb "to believe" used as a substantive; in other words, a believer is, literally in scripture, "a believing person", with the object of that faith being Jesus Christ. But if said person comes to a crossroads where they lose that faith and in fact no longer believes in Christ then said person is not a believer – and according to our Lord's words above, condemned for lack of belief. If things were otherwise, we would no longer truly have free will after salvation. I suppose one could, as suggested, see that as a measure of God's grace – but how can a just God give someone a pass when they don't believe, when they in effect "trample under foot the Son of God" (Heb.10:29)? If He could do so, it seems to me that we would have to conclude that He will save everyone, believing or not, so that no one will not be saved. But we certainly know that only believers are saved. So, if only believers are saved, then either those who lose faith lose salvation, or being a believer means nothing because all will be saved, if those who lose faith are saved.

As to your interpretation of Luke 8:12, let me start by reminding you that in the same context in the very next verse our Lord affirms that there is a category of person who "believes for a while" but then loses faith, and the plant of faith shrivels and dies. That is not a picture of salvation. It's also not good to have weeds stunt one's spiritual growth, but in that case the faith plant is not described as dying, so the person is saved even so, but without reward. I suspect, based upon what I have learned about the Bible and seen in this world that the number of believers who fall into the fourth category who produce a significant crop will be far in the minority. So in this parable we have four types: 1) those who never believe (not saved); 2) those who believe but do not persevere (not saved); 3) those who believe but fail to produce (saved but without serious reward); 4) those who are saved and produce a good crop (with concomitant reward).

In Luke 8:12 itself, please note that there are two verbal actions in the clause you are relying on, having to do first with believing and second with being saved: ". . . in order that they might be saved" . . . how? . . . "by being a believer". In the Greek, it is not a case, as the English translations suggest, of "believe AND be saved"; in fact, the part about believing is not a finite verb but a participle in the aorist tense. The best I can do with this in a literal rendering is [the devil sees to it that the gospel truth is removed from them] "with the purpose that they might not be saved on account of having become believers". The reason we become believers is so as to be saved; but it does not follow necessarily or logically that having become believers we are all going to stay believers and thus actually BE saved in the end; that depends on us persevering in our faith to the end (cf. Heb.10:36). In short, the language here does not eliminate the possibility of apostasy – and in the very next verse our Lord assures us that such IS a possibility.

I have no worries about you. And indeed, probably most lukewarm believers in our lukewarm age would not normally be likely to fall away into apostasy (unless they lost a loved one and blamed God, e.g.) if things continued much as they are. But we are on the cusp on the Tribulation. And a third of believers are prophesied to fall away therein (see the link). For unprepared believers, getting through the Tribulation with faith intact is going to be hard enough, but if they are operating with any false doctrine in their hearts, this will be even more problematic. Why not, as I posed before, take the mark of the beast – if they are going to be saved anyway? I ask you that in all earnestness.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #20:

Hi Bob,

Thanks for taking the trouble to explain your thinking on Luke 8 in detail. I concede that the plant that withers, taking it at face value as Jesus presented it, seems to indicate a complete loss of spiritual life. And as you say, the seed/plant that is choked represents the majority of believers today. I also have to concede that the bible is clear on the mark of the beast: that anyone taking the mark of the beast is definitely excluded/not saved. That is a problem for the eternal security view, as apostasy would seem to imply that a person first was 'a child of God' and then lost that position. Certainly, if anyone takes the mark of the beast reasoning that they are going to be saved anyway, that means they never read the bible properly or that were deceived by a wrong understanding of their security as a believer.

I'll think about it some more. The only way out, for the eternal security point of view, is to claim such a person accepted a false gospel and was never saved in the first place. Does Jesus not say that the wheat and tares are, from our perspective, virtually indistinguishable? To us a lukewarm believer and an unsaved churchgoer may appear the same. This is probably the case in most churches. Hence, from our point of view these tares are fellow Christians, and when they fall away it would seem that they apostatize .

I fully agree that presuming on our salvation and being irresponsible as a result is a wicked and ungodly attitude. I'm just questioning whether its at all possible to be this presumptuous if we are saved.

Thanks again for helping reconsider the Luke 8 interpretation.


Response #20:

No worries, my friend!

You're most welcome. I think also that I do know where you are coming from. We are indeed secure in Christ because we believe in Him. And we are not going to trade that precious faith for any "mess of pottage". We do have to take into account, however, that not everyone is of such strong faith, and that therefore the scriptures in God's great mercy give appropriate warning and very often too to help the marginal ones hold onto at the least the far shoulder of the strait and narrow. It is also true that there are a great many "churches", groups and cults that teach what I call "pins and needles" salvation; that is, the idea that loss of salvation is only a sin away. That is a damnable false doctrine, and I have probably answered more email assuring Christians that they have NOT lost their salvation than any other type since I started this ministry many years ago. The truth is neither "saved no matter what" or "if ever you fail not saved". The truth is that we are saved and secure in Jesus Christ as those who believe. No one and nothing can rip us from the grasp of the Father and the Son (Jn.10:28-29). Our job is merely to persevere in that faith so as not to pull ourselves away through rejecting Christ from the eternal security that is ours by faith. This will be a bigger temptation during the Tribulation for those who are on the margins and only bouncing along with minimal faith. We know that from scripture (2Thes.2:3; and see the link: "the Great Apostasy").

I appreciate your willingness to listen, my friend! It's a very rare quality in our Laodicean era.

Keep up the good fight for Jesus Christ our Lord.

In Him,

Bob L.

Question #21:

Hi Bob,

There was a gathering of Christians that I attended yesterday and it was about the 2nd coming of Christ, or the rapture. They sent out this 2hr video about how after this week of August, the apocalypse will begin. The author of that video quoted "the falling away" before the man of sin is revealed. He said that the Greek word refers to a departure or what he translated it as, the rapture. Such false teachers as Jack Van Impe had said the same thing, but from what you have taught me and the bible, it clearly says that this is an "apostasy" because of the Greek word "apostasia". I responded very clearly by saying, "It doesn't matter to me what some internet prophet says, I know that we ALL should be ready at ALL TIMES. And that we should keep our lamps filled at ALL TIMES regardless of what someone is saying about when this rapture will occur. Then one of my brothers in Christ got offended and said that I am worshipping a god of my own imagination. I felt bad for him and prayed for him because he seems to be missing the point, and that is to be on guard at ALL TIMES, and to walk in the spirit AT ALL TIMES according to the strength that God has given us through Christ. It seems that most people just want the rapture to occur because they want some sort of permanent vacation, and are not willing to live or die for the Lord. I don't want to sow discord among Christians, so I'm just going to leave it at that as you advised not to quarrel about such things. To me...I am just going to walk in the spirit as the Lord gives me the strength, and to be watchful at ALL TIMES regardless of what their eschatalogical view of the rapture is. I hope I am doing what's right in the eyes of God as I always strive to please Him.

God Bless,

Response #21:

I've written a GREAT deal about this subject as I'm sure you know (for the latest which will lead to many other links see: "The pre-Trib 'Rapture': so called 'imminence' and other false proofs refuted"). In terms of the passage you ask about, 2nd Thessalonians 2:1-3, it never ceases to amaze me how pre-Trib rapture proponents can so willfully ignore what is written right on the page in front of them. You are correct, of course, that the apostasia is not a "rapture" but the Great Apostasy (link). But it should be clear from a grade-school reading of any English translation that it CANNOT be a "rapture":

(1) Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, (2) not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. (3) Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away (apostasia) comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition.
2nd Thessalonians 2:1-3 NKJV

Consider: Paul equates the second advent ("coming") and the resurrection ("our gathering together") with "the day" in verses one and two. Then in verse three he says that this Day/advent/resurrection cannot happen before the apostasia. But if the resurrection were the apostasia – as these people claim – then the resurrection would have to precede itself. Or to put it in their terms, "the rapture cannot take place until after the rapture takes place". Absurd.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #22:

Hi Bob!

I tried to link to your website ministry but I can't seem to connect to it on any computer. I was listening to your past colleague (John MacArthur) and one of his audio broadcasts and he cited the 2 Thessalonians 2:2 passage, and he said that the passage mentioned does not actually refer to "the day of the Lord", but of a pre-trib rapture. Biblical scholars are divided on this issue.

John MacArthur wrote:

"But now, in a time of severe persecution and trial, the Christians at Thessalonica had fallen prey to the false idea that God was already pouring out His final wrath and they were among the objects of that wrath. They obviously feared they had missed the rapture and were about to be swept away in the final and epochal judgments of the Day of the Lord. The day of Christ had come” (2 Thessalonians 2:2). “The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him” is a clear reference to the rapture. “The day of Christ” is the day of the Lord (in fact, the older manuscripts use the expression “day of the Lord” in this verse). There were two aspects of the error troubling the Thessalonian church: one was the notion that they had missed the rapture. The other was the accompanying fear that they had already entered into the apocalyptic judgment that signaled the day of the Lord had arrived already."

I obviously am not a scholar like you or MacArthur, so I always compare what the views are and compare it with scripture. Is it true that the older manuscripts translates "the day of the Lord" rather than "gathered together unto Him in the clouds"?

God Bless,

Response #22:

I noticed an outage on the site the other day too, but it went away after a little while. Please try again and let me know if you experience further trouble.

As to your question, no, the oldest and best mss. have "day of the Lord"; only a few ms. and not the oldest and best have "day of Christ". So there is no question about the reading whatsoever. Not that it matters. These terms are synonymous since Christ is the Lord. But it troubles me that 'M' seems to think that textual variants which are clearly wrong are of any moment, and that he would adduce them as some sort of evidence. It bespeaks a very low esteem for the Word of God. But that is perhaps to be expected when one considers that no verse in the Bible links the resurrection with anything but the second advent. That is to say, there is not a single verse which must be taken to show that the resurrection precedes the Tribulation – and that is clearly because it does not.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #23:

Hello mr. luginbill...i have recently become familiar with you and your ministry. so far, i have spent a fair amount of time reading some of your study material and will continue to delve into more. it amazes me that i have finally found someone that approaches the word of God with a flair for the truth and i thank God for that. i also posses a keen desire to rightly divide the word of truth even in the midst of the lukewarm meltdown of the modern church. i do not hold the most impressive list of credentials that you do but i am a diligent student at the international seminary of the Holy Spirit.

I can no longer sit on the sidelines and continue to listen to the ongoing display of dogmatic ideological bias from any source that is perverting the word of God. their dogma has become so intransigent that it is nothing more than doctrinaire. there are so many new evangelical buzz words and talking points that are leading uninformed "believers" astray. but this is really not something new. these supposed leaders continue to say things like, "as believers, we need to get it right", or that we need to properly interpret the word. they really should start taking their own advice. the attached brief study is a response to two "christian" radio talk shows, as well as to john macarthur who recently used 1 corinthians 15:52 to claim that the rapture will occur at the twinkling of an eye. as you probably know, he is a rabid pretriber.

It is my hope that you will have some time to consider this response and provide me with feedback. being on the right track is crucial to me. I also have a published book that i would like to send you at no charge, also for your feedback.

Thanks so much and bye for now.

Response #23:

A nice effort, my friend! The evidence in scripture which ties the resurrection to the return of Christ is overwhelming, and there are many passages which cannot even be twisted to support anything else (by anyone with a third grade reading knowledge of English, that is). I'm still waiting for a passage that ostensibly ties the resurrection to a point before the Tribulation. Case in point, it doesn't matter if the resurrection is quick "like a twinkling of an eye"; what matters for the purposes of this discussion is WHEN it "quickly" takes place. There is nothing in 1st Corinthians 15:52 or the context to make anyone think that this resurrection is separated somehow from the second advent. That's just not there. One small point on this: trumpets serve multiple purposes; the seven in Revelation are warning trumpets (a common feature of the use of trumpets in the Bible and the ancient world), but the "last trump" is a call to assembly – another very common use of trumpets.

Also, I do have to point out this verse:

For at that time [i.e., of believers in turmoil, not absent from earth] there will be a Great Tribulation (θλιψις μεγαλη) such as has never occurred from the beginning of the world until now, and [such as] will never again occur thereafter.
Matthew 24:21 (cf. Mk.13:19)

Keep up the good work for Jesus Christ, my friend!

In Him,

Bob L.

Question #24:

Dr. Luginbill,

The Jewish leaders of Jesus day didn't recognize Him because they only looked forward to His coming once, and then triumphantly. Could we be making a similar mistake with the rapture? Is the concept of multiple raptures Biblically compatible and if not what verse or verses eliminate it as a possibility?

Thank you for your time.

Response #24:

I'm not positive I understand your question, so please do feel free to write back if I don't make contact with the ball this time up.

When you say "what verse eliminates [multiple raptures] as a possibility", I have to say that this is not the way I approach the Bible. I try to let the Bible speak to me through the Spirit and build on the principles of truth garnered that way. Obviously, I have benefited from the work of others done over the millennia. But deductive theology which begins with theory and then tries to make scripture conform always ends badly (just consider how that nearly everything in Augustinian theology is wrong).

I also avoid using the word "rapture" since 1) it is not a Bible word, and 2) it is taken by most evangelicals to refer to a mythical resurrection which supposedly precedes the Tribulation. However, all the resurrection passages in the New Testament and all the references to Christ's return – one return only (the second advent) – are fixed on the end of the Tribulation and the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom. This is a passage by passage process. There isn't any passage in scripture which places the resurrection before the Tribulation, and in terms of phases of the resurrection, if that is what you are asking about, we do have a passage which makes clear that for Christ and the elect there are three phases, namely, the resurrection of Christ (which is now a historical fact); the resurrection of the Bride which occurs when her Husband returns as King; the resurrection of the millennial believers at the end of history:

(23) But each [will be resurrected] in his own echelon. Christ [is the] first-fruits. Next [will be] those belonging to Christ at His coming (i.e., the 2nd Advent). (24) Then the end, when He will hand the Kingdom over to the Father, after He has brought an end to all rule, all power, and all authority. (25) For He must rule until He has placed all His enemies under His feet – (26) and death is the final enemy to be done away with.
1st Corinthians 15:23-26

If you'd like to know more about all this, please do have a look at some of the following links:

The Resurrection (explains the timing of all of the echelons of the resurrection; in Peter #20

The Resurrection of the Lamb's Bride (in CT 5)

The pre-Trib 'Rapture': so called 'imminence' and other false proofs refuted

Dangers of the Pre-Trib Rapture False Teaching

When is the Rapture?

The Origin and the Danger of the Pre-Tribulational Rapture Theory

No Rapture

Three False Doctrines that Threaten Faith

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #25:

Hi Bob,

Thank you for your response and your answer on the 10 virgins – you clear it up nicely.

Just wondering, am I correct about the ‘last trump’?

Thank you too, for your congratulations – teaching was something I enjoyed immensely. I was once terrified of public speaking and teaching face to face solved that problem!

As always my good friend,

Response #25:

Trumpets have several uses in scripture. One is to sound a warning (the function of the trumpet judgments, warning against what is coming, namely, antichrist's deception and the folly of following him); another is to sound assembly (see the link). The "trump of God" in 1st Thessalonians 4:16 is an assembly call. Any you are correct! Even though this assembly call for the resurrection of the Church given at the second advent is associated with angels (because no doubt they are the ones who "gather the elect": Matt.24:31), it is not said to be a trumpet blown by an angel, but seems to be initiated by the Lord Himself:

Then the LORD will be seen over them,
And His arrow will go forth like lightning.
The Lord GOD will blow the trumpet,
And go with whirlwinds from the south.
Zechariah 9:14 NKJV

"And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
Matthew 24:31 NKJV

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
1st Corinthians 15:51-52 NIV

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
1st Thessalonians 4:16 NKJV

Thanks for this!

Your friend in Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #26:

hello again bob...there are a couple issues in revelation that i need your help with....

1. when do you believe the "last trump" is sounded?

2. i have run across three verses in revelation that could possibly but used to support pretrib...
2:24; 3:10; and 7:14...please advise (i hope it isn't so)


Response #26:

In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
1st Corinthians 15:52 KJV

Simply from the verse above it is clear that when the "last trump" (KJV lingo) is sounded, the resurrection takes place ("and the dead shall be raised"); and it is also clear from this verse that Paul is talking about the resurrection of the Church ("and we shall be changed"; cf. the following verse as well). From the same chapter a few verses earlier:

(23) But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. (24) Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
1st Corinthians 15:23-24 KJV

Above we see that previously in the same chapter Paul has already explained the order and the time of the phases of the resurrection of the living (unbelievers are raised at the end of history when "death and Hades" the entire "sea" gives up all of her dead: Rev.20:13):

1) Christ (who has already been resurrected as the "firstfruits" of resurrection).

2) "they that are Christ's at his coming" (1Cor.15:23 above): this is the Church and "his coming" is the second advent; the Greek word is parousia, and this word is used in the NT as a technical term for the second advent:

(1) Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming (parousia) of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, (2) That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. (3) Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
2nd Thessalonians 2:1-3 KJV

We are gathered unto Him at His return, the resurrection, and these events have to follow the Great Apostasy ("falling away") and the coming of antichrist (the "son of perdition"), both, obviously, events which take place during the Tribulation, thus fixing the parousia / second advent and resurrection to a point of time AFTER the Tribulation (indeed, this marks the end and coincides with Armageddon).

3) "Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power" (1Cor.15:24 above): this "end" is the end of history, after the Millennium and the Gog-Magog rebellion of Revelation 20:7-10, and that is when the third and final phase of the resurrection takes place, the resurrection of the believers of the Millennium, the "friends of the Bride" (e.g., Rev.19:9).

There are no other phases or instances of the resurrection. So the "last trump" of 1st Corinthians 15:52 is the clarion call for the believers of the Church to rise and join the Lord in the air (1Thes.4:16-17), in order to observe His victory at Armageddon (Rev.19:4).

(30) And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. (31) And [then] he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Matthew 24:30-31 KJV

As to the verses you mention:

But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.
Revelation 2:24 KJV

The "burden" is defined by what follows immediately in the next verse:

But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.
Revelation 2:25 KJV

Staying faithful to the Lord "until He comes" is what is demanded of believers specifically here: to NOT fall away into apostasy (should it be the lot of anyone to enter the Tribulation in particular), but to hold onto faith until the Lord returns ("till I come"). That "coming" would be the second advent for believers in the Tribulation; for all others it would be physical death. So far from being a reassurance that believers don't have to contemplate the Tribulation, this verse says exactly the opposite: our "burden" is to stay faithful no matter what, even in the midst of the Tribulation. Also, there is no hint of a rapture here since the "burden" is faithfulness in keeping away from satanic teachings previously mentioned in the message. This is typical of "evidence" for the "rapture": what we have here in Revelation 2:24 is a verse which does not even mention resurrection and can at best only be considered not inconsistent with the theory of a pre-Trib "rapture" if it is taken out of context, twisted just so and viewed from an esoteric (and incorrect) perspective. I.e., it's not any sort of "evidence" for a "rapture".

Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
Revelation 3:10 KJV

The seven churches of Revelation are eras of the Church Age, and they have occurred chronologically. We are presently in the era of Laodicea – which is very plain to see, in my opinion, easily identified by the ubiquitous lukewarmness on the one hand while assuming being "rich" on the other (Rev.3:17). Here is the main link to where the church eras are discussed: in CT 2A: "The Seven Churches of Revelation". So the era of Philadelphia was indeed "kept" from entering the Tribulation, as all of those believers are now at home with the Lord.

I do realize that many people don't accept this interpretation ( even though to my mind it is beyond obvious with only a minimum of studying it out; see the link: "the seven church eras explained and defended"). But consider: if these are not eras, then they have to be individual churches of John's day. And if they are individual churches of the first century, then all of those who received this message in Philadelphia have likewise been kept from having to endure the Tribulation. Some want to say that because they feel these are only general truths and not applicable to eras nor merely to contemporary churches that for this reason all who have "kept the word of my patience" will be delivered from having to undergo the Tribulation. *But even if we accept all of this incorrect analysis just for sake of argument, please note that the Lord does NOT say "how" these individuals will be kept from having to endure the Tribulation! He does NOT say "ye shall be raptured" or "resurrected" – there is nothing of the sort here. "How else?", rapture devotees may ask. To which I say the Lord has many ways of doing things without resorting to an additional phase of the resurrection which is otherwise not mentioned and would contradict the passages listed above along with many others. One obvious way one might be "kept" from the Tribulation is prior physical death (no need to assume a "rapture"):

The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil.
Isaiah 57:1 KJV

Given that the other churches among the seven which receive positive or not completely negative reports are NOT made the same promise as Philadelphia is, it is faulty interpretation to claim that ALL believers will receive this same promise (even if for the sake of argument we accept the reasoning which wrongly rejects the church era interpretation and selectively applies the information to the seven churches). For, clearly enough, in that case the seven have to represent different types of believers generally and thus the details have to be applied circumstantially (e.g., not everyone is "lukewarm" and not everyone "has a name as being alive but is dead", etc.). So "even if" we accept everything else about this passage that rapture proponents want us to accept, it is impossible for them to escape the necessity of admitting that not everyone will fall into the category of those who have "kept the word of my patience" (just as not every Christian is "lukewarm"), so as to be "kept" from the Tribulation, however they might possibly be "kept" from it. Meaning that even with this faulty approach, we would have to allow for the possibility of entering the Tribulation (6 out of 7 believers, in any case).

I have no doubt that even with the Tribulation close at hand, there will be some believers who will be spared having to endure it . . . by being mercifully taken home before hand. However, most will enter, one third will fall away, and NO ONE will be "raptured" ahead of time. Revelation 3:10 simply does NOT say anything of the kind. This is typical of the rapture-fantasy, namely, taking verses that say nothing about a "rapture" and understanding them to mean what they do not actually say however translated.

And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Revelation 7:14 KJV

The above is a picture of the gathering tribulational martyrs, those who are killed by the beast and who "did not love their lives to the death." (Rev.12:11). They have white sheets, not resurrection bodies. Thus they are in the interim state which all believers occupy after death prior to the resurrection (as exemplified by Lazarus and Abraham in Lk.16:19-31; n.b., these also appeared by way of prologue at Rev.6:9-11). Once again, we have a case of pro-rapture individuals not understanding very basic things about scripture and that can cause problems – especially if a person is going to the Bible NOT to be taught but only to dig up ammunition for a pet theory. Please see the link: "Our Heavenly, Pre-Resurrection, Interim State". Even if this is not understood or accepted, these individuals are said to come OUT of the Tribulation – which means clearly that they were in it – so where was the "rapture" for them?

All this is a good example of why it is impossible to learn anything about the Bible without learning everything about the Bible. That is to say, every small piece of truth is like a brick in the edifice of the whole. Trying to build a house with only one's favorite five or ten percent of the bricks will make for a very unstable structure. We don't know exactly how one individual brick considered in isolation will contribute to the stability of the whole, but in the end we find out that it was as important as every other and as necessary as every other to furnish the solid structure of truth in the hearth which every Christian should desire (Matt.7:24-25).

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #27:

Dear Professor

Your ministry continues a great blessing to me and others; increasingly, I am hoping, a lot more for others too, as we pray for the eyes of understanding be opened with those I meet with.

While downtown today I sketched out, from memory, what was to go on the”business” cards, and left with the receptionist to produce. It was fairly close to what I sent you except I left her with - Subject Index (With answers to your Bible Questions). The one I sent you had slightly different wording in brackets but essentially meaning the same. (Memory not totally accurate). I should pick them up this week and will try to send you a photo of back and front. I ordered 200 to start with.

Belief in the Pre-Tribulation “Rapture”.

A bit cautiously, (I know you have dealt with it a lot), bring this one up again. It seems that we few who do not see one, (I have never seen one in the scriptures), are a small minority in this little “circle of believers “ in town. The coffee group has a majority of Baptist believers who also espouse the Pre-Trib line and seem to find great comfort in the belief that “we will be out of here by then”.

Got onto this subject again, ( I often bring up the subject in course of conversation)

My OT friend : (not pre-trib) said read Mark 13. (Later at home I did)
Pre-Trib: But there must be two coming events as Jesus deals with the Church before dealing with the Jews.
Me: That is the 1290 to 1335 days after the Great Tribulation and after the Second Advent. Dan:11-12. (I thought I saw grey faces and worried looks)

Mark 13 records Jesus telling his disciples privately the sequence of events of the last days. Not a mention of any pre- trib. The Resurrection of the “righteous” is after their beatings and testimonies, and after the Great Tribulation, at the Second Advent.

I was wondering if you felt there was any place for including this in your clear teaching from scripture, of the absence of any wished for pre-trib rapture?

I am grateful for your teachings. I got the 1290 to 1335 days explanation from your CT 6, page 26, 2) The Time of Purging (of the Jews).

I was mainly asking whether the Mark 13, and Dan 12: 11-12, together with your teachings at CT 6 , page 26 would be a useful inclusion in the Rapture section.

My OT friend was interested in the 1290 and 1335 days explanation I gave from your CT6 book. He is giving the 2nd half of his presentation of “The Tent of Meeting” to us this weekend.

Hoping and praying for all believers to come to a more sure knowledge of the truth. Much gratitude and thanks to you for providing myself and others with the excellent “food” we need to grow in the truth. As you can see I do use your teachings to help me with my “knitting”.

As an afterthought, I thought how our eternal bodies are prepared for us, so also in this, as in everything else, we have nothing to boast. All is a loving gift from our God.

All the glory to Jesus our Lord, Mighty to Save.

Your student

Response #27:

These are excellent observations! I will include this email at some point in the future when I do something on "rapture" again (there are rather a lot of these in the queue, so it may be a while before it comes about.

I find your acquaintances' comment – answered so well by you – typical so-called "rapture evidence". "There must be a rapture because this is the only way to understand passage X" (= the way I choose to understand passage X); and inevitably passage X never says anything about a rapture or a resurrection. This is the definition of grasping at straws. One would think that at SOME point . . . but as you mention they are thrilled with the prospect of not having to worry about the Tribulation, because that way they continue to be lukewarm and concentrate on "enjoying life".

"You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked."
Revelation 3:17 NIV

I continue to keep your family and also all of your work for the Lord in my prayers, my friend.

Thanks as every for your good work for this ministry and also for your prayers.

Your friend in Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #28:

Yesterday I was caught in an unfruitful discussion which was postponed for further clarification and research, we couldn't find a firm ground to share each others ideas only to be battered and silenced.

It seems there many kind of eschatologies
https://bereanresearch.org/eschatology-end-times/ out there, many interpretation of scripture and the new charismatic way of viewing scripture.

Someone sent me this site https://www.gotquestions.org/rapture-of-the-church.html. could you validate what these individuals purport???

Is it worth to continue discussing misinterpretations/misapplication of scripture other than the gospel preached and believed ??

Are doctrinal matters worth elaborating after the person has received Christ Jesus and put there whole faith in him??

Thank you I'm advance for your well thought replies awaiting your response.

Response #28:

As to your link on the "rapture", I dislike using that term for the resurrection of the Church, because it was developed by and today is used exclusively by those who are "Pre-Trib", that is, misguided individuals who want to see the resurrection of the Church as happening before the Tribulation. Plainly, that is not the case:

"Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other."
Matthew 24:29-31 NKJV

The passage above without a shadow of a doubt places the resurrection after the Tribulation and at the second advent. In this it is consistent with every single passage in the Bible where the issue is discussed. Only by ignoring passages that are beyond clear and reading into other passages what is not there can a person believe that the pre-Trib "rapture" is biblical. I have written a great deal about this. The latest link (which leads to many others) is: "The pre-Trib 'Rapture': so called 'imminence' and other false proofs refuted".

The link you asked me to look at deliberately avoids the question of when the resurrection of the Church takes place. That is the key issue since "rapture" proponents, beginning in the late 19th century when this false doctrine was invented, want to move the resurrection to a point before the Tribulation when clearly that is contrary to what scripture teaches. No doubt they are fearful of the Tribulation (understandably so for those weak in faith especially), but they do the Church a great disservice and contribute to complacency with this false teaching.

As to the other link which discusses Revelation chapter twenty, you should know that the words in verse five, "But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished.", are not original to the text and so are not legitimately part of the Bible (they are a gloss that was entered later either by accident or from some perverse and misguided attempt to explain things; see the link).

As I say, I've devoted a large part of this ministry to this and related issues, so rather than engaging in a detailed analysis of third party materials, may I ask you submit specific questions about anything you find about which you would like some input? Satanic Rebellion, Coming Tribulation, BB 2B Eschatology, and very many email responses which go into other details comprehensively cover most every question you might run into.

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #29:

Hi Bob and family,

Thank you for your encouraging words – I just hope and pray that courage will not desert ourselves from our faith when it all arrives and I have to admit, that certainly does scare me. If it is far worse than what we imagine, I would be lying to myself if I thought I’m strong in faith – one of my constant prayers is that He will finish the work He has begun in my life and I pray this could be so for others.

I’m hoping the little I’ve said in each article about ichthys will cause a thirst in others to know more of the same and again my deepest thanks for the work you have done in this regard.

Thank you again for posting these articles.

Again dear Bob and as always, with brotherly love,

Response #29:

I'm praying for ever greater response to your postings.

We have nothing to fear. That is a fact. The plan of God is unchangeable. And it is perfect. The provision for all of our needs has already been perfectly ordained as He knows what we will need and when and how, though we have no clue. Not a hair of our heads will be touched.

"Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life."
Luke 21:17-19 NIV

This doesn't mean we will avoid martyrdom. It does mean that we will receive all the encouragement and help to endure it if we must – even right down to the words we will be given to speak in our defense (Lk.21:13-15).

At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
2nd Timothy 4:16-18 NIV

All the threats and potential trouble and things people fear and worry about are truly meaningless in fact. We can't be hurt in the least unless the Lord allows it, and if He allows it that is for our good and THE good in every way (Rom.8:28), so we know that He will help us through it – just as He has helped us through all the testing we've faced in this life hitherto to help prepare us. These bodies aren't going to last anyway, nor are our possessions nor even the entire world. All is dust and about to pass away.

And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.
1st John 2:17 NIV

The thing is, the faith we need to have is the acceptance and acknowledgment of truth like the truths above before the fact of "terrible things" arriving on our doorstep. Because seen from the godly perspective nothing that actually happens is "terrible", even if it is very hard. And the Lord is graciously training us now – those willing to be trained – so that we can begin to see things more and more as He sees them, rather than as the world does. As we believe more and more of the truth, we will find that the fears and worries that occupy the world mean less and less to us. For this is not our world. We are in it, but we are definitely not "of it". We have a King and a kingdom which is not of this world at all, and it is on Him and on our blessed future in that kingdom to come that we have chosen to fix our gaze. We may get distracted over the course of a day or stumble here and there, but as we grow we are seeing things ever more clearly day by day . . . until one day we get to the point where we cannot imagine seeing them any other way at all.

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

Question #30:

Hi Bob,

I am having difficulty understanding Isaiah 66:18. It says that those who eat pork will face God's wrath. I understand that the NT says that God had made meats, which had created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth in 1 Timothy 4:3, but I cannot reconcile this with the Isaiah 66:18 verse.

They that sanctify themselves, and purify themselves in the gardens behind one tree in the midst, eating swine's flesh, and the abomination, and the mouse, shall be consumed together, saith the LORD. For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory.

Some would argue that this refers to the Jews only; however, I don't see anything in this passage that would imply that it was only for the Jews because it is speaking of the 2nd Advent. I have also read arguments that this is NOT referring to the 2nd advent but regarding something called the "3rd Isaiah" passage. Can you help clarify the meaning of this passage? Thanks!

One last thing. Can you pray for my neighbors that they render their hearts to the Lord. [details about problematic unbelieving neighbors omitted] Please pray with me for his salvation and the salvation of my neighbors.

God Bless you and your ministry,

Response #30:

Thanks so much for your very kind words, my friend. I'm sorry to hear that your living situation is still problematic. We all have tests to endure, and sometimes it's just things like this that can "get our goat" if we're not careful, even though we are passing bigger tests with flying colors.

On Isaiah 66:17 (I think that is the verse you mean), first, there is no such thing as "second" or "third" Isaiah: there is only ONE Isaiah, the book we have in sixty-six chapters. See the link: the false deutero-Isaiah theory.

Let me give you my translation of the context first:

(15) For behold, the Lord will come with fire, and His chariots will be like a whirlwind, to bring down His wrath in anger and His rebuke in flames of fire. (16) For with fire the Lord is going to execute judgment – and with His sword – upon all flesh, and many will be those slain by the Lord. (17) Those who sanctify and purify themselves for the gardens following the lead of the one [characterized] by violence, eating the flesh of swine, and of whatever is an abomination, and of rats will be swept away together (i.e., at the Second Advent), says the Lord.
Isaiah 66:15-17

This is a reference to those who observe the satanic ceremonies of the beast's tribulational religion. All such persons will have taken the mark of the beast and will be cleansed from the earth at the second advent in the "baptism of fire" to which John the baptist refers (see the link: "Fire upon Magog"). So the "problem" here is not at all eating pork. Jesus Himself "proclaimed all foods pure" (Mk.7:19), and Peter was explicitly told by the Spirit in a lesson repeated three times that the dietary regulations of the Law were no longer applicable in the Church Age (Acts 10:10-16). The "problem" is participating in "antichrist's communion" which is what is being represented in the passage above. It stands to reason that the beast would include food considered most vile to Jews in his anti-communion, but this is not "eating a pork chop for dinner" – this is participating in a "sacred ceremony" reserved for beast-worshipers as a direct, evil counterpoint to the communion believers partake of in worshiping Jesus Christ. For more on all this see the links:

The Anti-Christian Religion and its Worldwide Expansion

Characteristics of the New Religion

The persuasiveness of the tribulational false religion

The False Prophet

Dangers of cooperating with antichrist's religion

In Jesus,

Bob L.

Question #31:

Thank you Bob...great to hear from you again...and that you have not forgotten me.

As I near the end of this first phase of our mortal lives...and get set to see that THE BEST IS YET TO COME... I am aghast at how many "Believers" have zero handle of the depth and meaning of DYING IN CHRIST...since they give lip service only to their personal relationship to Him.

What are your thoughts on our returning to our spiritual form...back to God who infused it in our bodies, and what the SPIRITUAL WORLD is all about? I am convinced we will join maybe millions in "Paradise" the interim heaven, awaiting THE DAY... i.e. no one goes to the Eternal Heaven where only God resides...(not even Enoch & Elijah). The failure to teach the TRUTH of what the bible clearly reveals of this adventure, is what i am sure has resulted in the loss of millions of souls who walk away from the ridiculous plans presented by pastors who are only interested in getting one to mutter the Sinners Prayer...and then dump them!

God bless you in your perseverance and steadfastness.

Response #31:

Thanks for your good words, my friend.

As to your question, we all have human spirits, and indeed these are brought back to the presence of the Lord when we die and given an interim covering (which I call an "interim body"; see the link); as 2nd Corinthians 5:3 makes clear (in the actual Greek original), even when we put this shell aside, we will "not be found naked". Man was created dichotomous, body and spirit, and that is how we shall ever be. For those who endure alive until the return of the Lord and the resurrection at His second advent, the interim state will be avoided, but all others in the Church (and unbelievers as well), will experience an interim state after death which, while far better for believers than what we have now, will not approach the glory of the resurrection. Still, as Paul assures us, being face to face with the Lord after death as we who believe in Him all will be is "better by far" (Phil.1:23). The New Jerusalem and the new heavens and new earth will not appear until the end of history, but Revelation chapters 4-8 give us a good idea of the wonders which we shall experience if we depart before the Lord's return, where we shall hear "inexpressible words, which a [mortal] man is not permitted to speak" (2Cor.12:4).

I certainly also agree with you about the dearth of substantive Bible teaching. That is both a supply problem AND a demand problem here in the era of Laodicea (see the link) where lukewarmness is the order of the day.

Thank you for YOUR zeal for the Lord!

In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,

Bob L.

Question #32:

Dear Bob,

In Revelation 2&3, John is directed to write to the _angels_ of the respective churches. I wondered, "Why the angels and not the churches?"

It occurs to me that the angels have a stewardship over believers and those believers fall into the seven categories. Their stewardship will, in that case, last until the 2nd advent. It seems reasonable to understand those seven letters are written to all believers, then and until the end. It would explain the injunction, "Let he who has an ear, let him hear" which I never completely grasped before.

Am I thinking correctly on this?


Your's in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Response #32:

Good to hear from you, my friend.

Indeed, the seven churches are more than seven local churches in John's day. They are representative of things to come (cf. Zech.3:8). The angels are the high ranking officers who have oversight over the seven sequential Church Age eras. Rather than the seven churches delineating seven types of believers, however, they represent time periods. We are in the last one, Laodicea, the era of lukewarmness – and that is plain enough to see from any sober, objective assessment of the state church visible today. Here is the main link to where this is all discussed in detail: CT 2A: The Seven Churches.

So, yes, the information is certainly applicable to all believers at all times, but the way the churches are introduced and the way in which the section is concluded makes it clear that the seven churches "occur" between John's time of writing and the beginning of the Tribulation, which is to say, the Church Age following the end of the apostolic period.

"Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now (John's time of writing) and what will take place later (i.e., the seven churches = the Church Age, followed by the end times). The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches."
Revelation 1:19-20 NIV

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this (i.e., the end times which follow after the seven churches which = the Church Age)"
Revelation 4:1 NIV

Yours in our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,

Bob L.

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