Tuesday, 30 September 2014

SAVED FROM WRATH EQUALS SAVED FROM TRIBULATION?

Is being saved from God’s wrath synonymous with being saved from the Great Tribulation?

One of the arguments advanced by those who hold the pre-tribulation view of rapture is that God will not allow his chosen ones to suffer: “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). In short, they say believers will be spared from going through the Great Tribulation.

                                                                      
But they fail to differentiate God’s wrath (judgment) from the Great Tribulation.

This failure to distinguish God’s wrath (judgment) from the Great Tribulation is the cause of much confusion.

Let us now look at the timeline of the end times based on Matthew 24 and Revelation 6. For sake of clarity, the parts in red in the following passages refer to the great cosmic blackout.

Total blackout occurs because the sun and moon will not give its light; also the stars will fall from heaven.

“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).

I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood. And the stars of heaven fell to the earth, as a fig tree drops its late figs when it is shaken by a mighty wind. Then the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Revelation 6:12-17).

If one were to draw the end time timeline based on the above two passages, it would be:

  • Great Tribulation


  • Cosmic Blackout


  • Wrath of God (judgment)


So the next time, if someone quotes 1 Thessalonians 5:9, “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ”, you can share with him that freedom from God’s wrath does not necessarily mean believers will be spared from having to endure the Great Tribulation.

While God preserves believers from His wrath (judgment), it does not necessarily mean believers will be spared from having to endure the Great Tribulation, which is a completely different end time event.

                                                                                                                                              
The Great Tribulation happens before the cosmic blackout whereas wrath of God (judgment) happens after the cosmic blackout.

Christians will have to go through tribulation, in general, and the Great Tribulation—the mother of all tribulations. For more: http://bit.ly/1mFzp9T

                                                                        


The fact that believers will have to experience tribulation is totally consistent with the teachings of the New Testament.

  • Paul exhorts the disciples to continue in the faith, saying that “we must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).


  • Paul writes that we “glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance” (Romans 5:3).


  • “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).


  • “They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons. You will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake” (Luke 21: 12, 17).


During the end times, both the righteous and wicked will suffer. But they suffer at different times and come under different wraths.

When do the righteous suffer? During the Great Tribulation. They suffer under the wrath of the Antichrist (Matthew 24: 15-28).

When do the wicked suffer? On the Day of the Lord when the wrath of God (judgment) is unleashed (Revelation chapters 8, 9.11, Matthew 13:40-42).

Just as God waited for Noah and his family to enter the ark before He sent the flood, God will bring His chosen ones to safety before He unleashes His wrath (judgment).

How does He accomplish it? Jesus will come again and gather the elect during the rapture before He brings judgment on those who are evil. In other words, there will be a separation. Jesus’ return in the clouds of heaven ushers in a day of reckoning—salvation of His people and judgment of the wicked.

The purpose of the rapture, therefore, is to pull believers out to safety before God rains down judgment on earth.

Throughout church history—more so during the Great Tribulation—the cry of the martyrs ring loud and clear, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” But they were told to “rest a little while longer” (Revelation 6:9-11).

The persecution and oppression of believers will come to an end when Christ returns and they are caught up in the air to be with Him (raptured). “Then everyone will see the Son of Man coming on a cloud with power and great glory. So when all these things begin to happen, stand and look up, for your salvation is near!” (Luke 21:27-28). What a blessed hope!

However, the fate of the wicked will be just the opposite when Christ returns.  All of them will hide in the caves and rocks of the mountains, and say to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Revelation 6: 15-17). The door is shut. The die is cast. The opportunity to repent is over. How irrevocably sad!

RELATED POSTS

RAPTURE BEFORE TRIBULATION?
Will believers be raptured before the Great Tribulation?
Re-examining first-hand the relevant rapture passages.

FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY
"I am afraid too many today are being lulled into thinking that when things get really bad, we as believers will be suddenly snatched out of it all ("the great snatch," the rapture is sometimes called). This is indeed poor preparation for what is yet to happen—and a serious misreading of the prophetic message."

CORRIE TEN BOOM ON RAPTURE AND TRIBULATION
In China, the Christians were told, “Don't worry, before the tribulation comes you will be translated — raptured.” Then came a terrible persecution. Millions of Christians were tortured to death. Later I heard a Bishop from China say, sadly, “We have failed. We should have made the people strong for persecution rather than telling them Jesus would come first. Tell the people how to be strong in times of persecution, how to stand when the tribulation comes—to stand and not faint.”




HOW TO QUICKLY ACCESS PORRIDGE



                                                                           





                                      For a quick overview:    http://bit.ly/1ijiXHp 

     

                                       To access similar articles in Christiantymalaysia.com



                                        http://christianitymalaysia.com/wp/?s=porridge
                                                



                                        To access similar articles in Asian Beacon magazine:


                                        http://asianbeacon.org/?s=Lim+Poh+Ann

Monday, 29 September 2014

RAPTURE BEFORE TRIBULATION?

Can believers rest in the security that we will be raptured before the Great Tribulation? Let us re-examine first-hand the passages on rapture.

                                                                          
By personally scouring the Bible for passages related to the rapture, we get a better understanding of this controversial subject. More importantly, by examining these verses without any preconceived ideas from others, we can arrive at our own conclusion—whether the rapture is before or after the Great Tribulation.

But first we need to ask God for wisdom. We also need a spirit of independent inquiry. Indeed, if we have the open-minded attitude of the Bereans, we will surely come to a knowledge of the truth.

Though the word ‘rapture’ is not found in the English Bible, the concept of believers being airlifted to safety remains clear in the minds of believers who are looking forward to this blessed hope.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:17, the passage universally agreed by all as most descriptive of the rapture, ‘caught up’ is translated from the Greek word harpazo, which means ‘to seize upon with force’ or ‘to snatch up’.

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.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord.
(1 Thessalonians 4: 16-17)

Though this passage gives us the clearest picture of the rapture, it does not provide us any idea about its timing in relation to the Great Tribulation.

Next we focus on the passages on rapture with chronology mentioned—after the Great Tribulation:

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)

“But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven.
(Mark 13:24-27)

Notice the close similarity between the above passages in 1 Thessalonians 4, Matthew 24 and Mark 13:
1. Jesus descends from heaven.
2. Trumpet sounds.
3. Angelic beings are God’s agents.
4. Gathering of the elect (God’s chosen ones).

Some contend that the passages in Matthew 24 and Mark 13 are not descriptive of the rapture account in 1 Thessalonians 4. They say that Christ’s second coming and the rapture belong to a different timeline altogether.

I beg to differ. Isn’t it clear that Christ makes His appearance from heaven in all three passages? Aren’t the trumpets, angels and the concept of believers being ‘caught up’ / ‘gathered’ evident in all three passages (Matthew 24, Mark 13 , 1 Thessalonians 4)?

Is there anyone among you who is a statistician? What is the probability that the passages in Matthew 24 and Mark 13 are not referring to the rapture account in 1 Thessalonians 4?

With four features which are similar, it is highly unlikely that Matthew 24 and Mark 13 are not descriptive of the 1 Thessalonians 4 rapture account. http://bit.ly/10hmG3k

Using the analogy of a traffic accident, each witness provides his or her own perspective of the incident. A male witness would probably focus more on the make and engine capacity of the vehicles involved and who is likely to be the offender whereas a female witness would probably focus on the colour of the vehicle and the drivers’ appearance and response. You cannot possibly have an identical portrayal of an event when different ones give their own accounts. Nevertheless, the witnesses are all referring to the same event.

Similarly, the parallel passages (Matthew 24, Mark 13 and 1 Thessalonians 4) do provide for us a picture of the rapture, albeit with some minor differences.

And when we combine all these three passages, we discover the sequence of events is crystal clear—the rapture comes after the Great Tribulation.

The authors of the Synoptic Gospels—Matthew, Mark and Luke—each provide their own perspective of an event / teaching. Sometimes, for example, something which is covered in great detail by Luke is barely covered by Mark. However, there is a strong parallelism among the three Gospels in content. And by piecing together the three versions of the same event / teaching, we get a better understanding—and sometimes even the sequence of events become apparent.

Antichristthe main protagonist in the Great Tribulation—must precede the second coming of Christ

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 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. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.
(2 Thessalonians 2: 1-4)

Paul tells us that Christ won’t come again until the Antichrist—the main protagonist in the Great Tribulation—has made his appearance.  Thus the sequence of events outlined in 2 Thessalonians 2: 1-4 is not incompatible with the sequence found in both the Matthew 24 and Mark 13 accounts (Christ’s second coming/rapture follow the Great Tribulation).

Notice further, in 2 Thessalonians 2: 1, Paul mentions the second coming of Christ and the gathering of believers (rapture) in one breath as if they were consecutive events (one event closely follows the other), thus affirming the view of Christ’s second coming/rapture in the Matthew 24 and Mark 13 accounts.

Supportive evidence that believers will be raptured when Christ returns, thus saving them from earth’s sorrows, is described by physician Luke:
“Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21: 27-28). What redemption? Deliverance from the Great Tribulation.

                                                                          
If you are still unconvinced that the rapture comes after the Great Tribulation, let me ask you three questions.

Firstly, is there any verse or passage which spells out clearly for us that after the rapture comes the Great Tribulation? Answer: None. The case for a pre-tribulation rapture is based on indirect inferences, not direct, clear passages as the ones found in Matthew 24 and Mark 13 which spell out clearly for us, AFTER THE TRIBULATION.

In a court of law, evidence that is adduced has different weightage and reliability. Surely, a blood-stained knife at the crime scene (on which DNA testing of the blood can be used to trace the murderer) is considered superior and strong evidence. On the other hand, there may be less conclusive evidence such as this—the murder suspect was seen talking to the victim on the evening the crime occurred. Or the former may have a motive to kill her because she rejected her advances five years ago. Finally, the judge and jury will have to assign greater weightage to superior and strong evidence rather than base their verdict on hunches and circumstantial evidence.

By now, I hope you get my point. I believe pre-tribulation rapture is based much more on indirect evidence and reasoning rather than solid evidence—direct, clear passages as in Matthew 24 and Mark 13 which spell out clearly for us, AFTER THE TRIBULATION.

Let me reiterate. There is no scripture to show us clearly and convincingly that after the rapture comes the Great Tribulation.

If we search for various references related to the word ‘tribulation’, we will be hard pressed to find a verse which explicitly tells us that rapture precedes the Great Tribulation.

Secondly, if believers are already raptured and are safe and secure in heaven, who is the Antichrist going to oppress and persecute? The Antichrist utters blasphemies against God and makes war against the saints (Rev. 13:6-7). The Antichrist is against everyone that is for Christ, including those who believe in Him. But if all the saints are raptured, who is he going to 'anti'? It's only logical that there must be believers around on earth for him to go against.

Believers who are overcomers are mentioned in Revelation 20:4: “Then I saw thrones, and the people sitting on them had been given the authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their testimony about Jesus and for proclaiming the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his statue, nor accepted his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They all came to life again, and they reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” 

These overcomers are rewarded for their ability to stand up against the Antichrist who has made it impossible for anyone to buy or sell unless he or she has the mark of the beast (Revelation 13: 6-17). This mark is a seal for the followers of Antichrist and the false prophet (the spokesperson for the Antichrist).

Believers who are overcomers are also mentioned in Revelation 7: 14: "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” They did not escape but rather had to endure the Great Tribulation.

Thirdly, do you believe Jesus would make it so difficult for us to understand end time events? As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, ‘when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age” (Matthew 24:3)? Would He make it so difficult for His children?

He has already spelled out clearly for us in Matthew 24 and Mark 13 but many refuse to believe that  Matthew 24: 31 and Mark 13:27 refer to the rapture. They choose to believe that His second coming and rapture belong to a different timeline.

  • “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)


  • “And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven” (Mark 13:27).

Rather than accept Jesus' words at face value, some prefer to listen to great theologians’ arguments why the rapture has to be before the Great Tribulation.

Why is it important to have a right understanding that believers will have to go through the Great Tribulation? Is it merely an academic exercise?

Certainly not. A right understanding that believers will go through the Great Tribulation before we are raptured will motivate us to pull up our socks, spiritually speaking. We are less likely to be complacent. We will then humble ourselves and yearn to know God more intimately. Hopefully, our lives will become more circumspect, intentional and purposeful as we aspire to live out His calling for our lives. We will build ourselves up in the faith so that we are able to endure when the Great Tribulation descends upon us. Because only overcomers receive the prize.

                                                                         
So let us be watchful.

“Watch out! Don’t let your hearts be dulled by carousing and drunkenness, and by the worries of this life. Don’t let that day catch you unaware, like a trap. For that day will come upon everyone living on the earth. Keep alert at all times. And pray that you might be strong enough to escape these coming horrors and stand before the Son of Man.”
(Luke 21:34-36)

The current atrocities happening in the Middle East make us cringe in fear and revulsion. But the suffering that awaits believers during the Great Tribulation is going to be far more horrendous and unimaginable.

The above article is of the opinion that there will be a post-tribulation, pre-wrath rapture for believers.

RELATED POSTS

WILL CHRISTIANS GO THROUGH THE GREAT TRIBULATION?
A popular teaching tells us that Christians will not have to go through the Great Tribulation because they will be raptured first. But is such a 'pre-tribulation rapture' view valid? Is it true to say Christians will be airlifted to safety before the Great Tribulation begins?

HOW THEN SHALL WE LIVE?
To live soberly and purposefully during these perilous end times, we need to arm ourselves with wisdom and discernment.

HANG IN THERE, DON'T GIVE UP
Sometimes, we don’t like to admit that trials are an integral part of the Christian experience as much as blessings and victories. However, the process of growing into maturity involves learning to persevere through trials and arriving at a place of unshakeable faith.

THE GREAT FALLING AWAY
Spiritual decline is characteristic of the end times we are now living in. Will believers be affected by this turning away from the faith?

“FEEL GOOD” TEACHING AND TRIALS
Does “feel good” teaching prepare believers to face trials?
FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY
"I am afraid too many today are being lulled into thinking that when things get really bad, we as believers will be suddenly snatched out of it all ("the great snatch," the rapture is sometimes called). This is indeed poor preparation for what is yet to happen—and a serious misreading of the prophetic message."
http://bit.ly/10hmG3k

CORRIE TEN BOOM ON RAPTURE AND TRIBULATION
In China, the Christians were told, “Don't worry, before the tribulation comes you will be translated — raptured.”  Then came a terrible persecution.  Millions of Christians were tortured to death.  Later I heard a Bishop from China say, sadly, “We have failed.  We should have made the people strong for persecution rather than telling them Jesus would come first.  Tell the people how to be strong in times of persecution, how to stand when the tribulation comes—to stand and not faint.”


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OTHER RAPTURE REFERENCES

Passage hinting about ‘gathering’ and ‘separation’ of good and evil people 

Next, we look into passages which hint of a gathering and separation of good and evil people—but no mention is made about its time relationship with respect to the Great Tribulation.

Jesus will gather the elect during the rapture before He brings judgment on those who are evil. In other words, there will be a separation. Jesus’ return in the clouds of heaven ushers in a day of reckoning—salvation of His people and judgment of the wicked.

Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.
(Matthew 24:40-42)

“The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Matthew 13:41-43).

Other parallel passages on gathering and separation:
Parable of wheat and tares-- Matthew 13: 24-30, 36-43
Parable of sheep and goats—Matthew 25: 31-33
Parable of dragnet—Matthew 13:47-52
Sickle used to reap--Revelation 14:14-20

Passage about rapture with special reference to putting on new bodies
Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
(1 Corinthians 15: 51-53)

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OTHER REFERENCES
Post-tribulation rapture movie:
http://posttribprewrath.tripod.com/whoelect.htm

THE PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE LIE



HOW TO QUICKLY ACCESS PORRIDGE




                                     For a quick overview: http://bit.ly/1ijiXHp

Friday, 19 September 2014

FIVE LOAVES AND TWO FISH

In our quieter moments, we need to ask ourselves this sobering question: What have we done with the time, talents and resources entrusted to us?

The other day, while taking to my wife, I was bemoaning the fact that I did not have the chance to receive formal instruction in music and Chinese as a child. Life, I reckon, would be more interesting—exciting vistas of adventure and discovery would open up—if I only I had some basic knowledge in these two disciplines.  

When I go on a tour in China, I would be able to read the signs and strike up a conversation with its people, including the taxi man. And I would be able to better appreciate the strains of Chinese classical music as elegant qipao-clad ladies deftly strum the pipa.

But then again I console myself that God has always been fair to everyone. To compensate for whatever I may lack, He has endowed me with a love for writing and communication in English.

One day, we will be called to account as to how we have utilised the gifts and talents He has given us. However, we will not be called to account for that which He has not been given us.

When it comes to stewardship of the talents He has given me, I think He would not say, “Why did you not perform in the ensemble for the charity concert? Why have you not written any article in Chinese? Why did you not become a healing evangelist?”

But I know He will certainly ask me this: “How far have you developed your talents in the area of writing and communication? What have you done with the training you received in medical school?”

As the words of Ezra 7:10 resonate deep down within my spirit, I know this is what He has called me to do. Have I been faithful in proclaiming the truth? In this I will be held accountable when the roll is called up yonder *  (2 Corinthians 5:10).

When Jesus challenged the disciples to feed the five thousand, He was testing those who had a ‘scarcity mindset’. He wanted to show them how even five loaves and two fish from a little boy could feed a multitude. 

Though it may be insignificant, whatever is blessed by Jesus will bear bountiful fruit. Have we ever considered how we can optimise the utilisation of the "five loaves and two fish" that He has blessed us for His glory (1 Peter 4:10)?

In our quieter moments, we need to ask ourselves this sobering question: What have we done with the five loaves and two fish—time, talents and resources—God has given us?

                                              





 References

  • “Ezra had spent his entire life studying and obeying the Law of the Lord and teaching it to others” (Ezra 7:10).


  •  “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10).


  • “Each of you has been blessed with one of God’s many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others. So use your gift well” (1 Peter 4: 10).

RELATED POSTS


WHAT TRULY MATTERS IN THE END
At the end of our lives when we stand before the judgment seat, what do you think truly matters in God’s eyes?  http://goo.gl/vsw6pC

STEPPING INTO OUR DESTINY
When we step out by faith to embrace God’s calling, we need to focus on His promises rather than obstacles. http://goo.gl/CoKplQ

THE POWER OF VISION
By embracing a God-inspired vision, we can live purposefully—by design and not by default. http://goo.gl/XMaeTS

SINGLE-MINDEDNESS
What does it mean to be so focused and determined that you have only one objective in mind? http://goo.gl/AE4DaR

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  *     When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder - James M. Black

When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more,
And the morning breaks, eternal, bright and fair;
When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.
When the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.

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The miraculous feeding of the five thousand

When Jesus saw the large crowd coming toward him, he asked Philip, “Where will we get enough food to feed all these people?” He said this to test Philip, since he already knew what he was going to do.

Philip answered, “Don’t you know that it would take almost a year’s wages just to buy only a little bread for each of these people?”

Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the disciples. He spoke up and said, “There is a boy here who has five small loaves of barley bread and two fish. But what good is that with all these people?”

The ground was covered with grass, and Jesus told his disciples to have everyone sit down. About five thousand men were in the crowd. Jesus took the bread in his hands and gave thanks to God. Then he passed the bread to the people, and he did the same with the fish, until everyone had plenty to eat.

The people ate all they wanted, and Jesus told his disciples to gather up the leftovers, so that nothing would be wasted.

(John 6:5-12)