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Living Springs Institute
Where Sound Doctrine Endures
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men. After the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Colossians 2:8
Issue #23 March & April 2006

Step into the Springs!

In recent times, our news has been filled with the rioting of Muslim extremists over cartoons depicting Mohammed, drawn by a Danish cartoonist. This violence shows us, once again, just how much man is drawn to the physical things of this life instead of the truth. First, at hand, is the fact, these riots have happened in many places far from the origin of these cartoons. Second, is the fact, these extremists have been holding all Danish people responsible for the actions of one man and perhaps the original publisher of the cartoons. Why? While the detailed answer to this is actually cluttered with political ins and outs, it really comes down to some basic faults in man's thinking we have seen century after century.

Some time back, I wrote an article called Religion is as Religion Does. That article was about how much baggage comes with connecting ourselves to a religion, and again, the points of that article are brought to light. It may not be the reality of Christianity today, but in past centuries, Christians have been known to approach the world with great violence as well. When we study the time of the crusades, we find that the goal of taking the city of Jerusalem from the nonbelievers was thought to be a good idea by Christians. However, these crusaders shed countless gallons of blood, including much of their own, all across Europe and the near East, only to accomplish nothing or something very temporary. These crusaders, many times, did not even have a good idea of who their enemy was. At times, the very people God said He would gather again in the last days, into the land of Israel, the Jews, (Zech. 10:6-12) were the ones the crusaders went after. This is because the crusaders were not following the truth of God's Word, they were following the leadership of a religion; and by killing Jews, they were actually fighting against the plan of God, not furthering it! This kind of reversal of the truth, taught by people who claim to know God's Word, is exactly what John was talking about when he spoke of "antichrist." (I John 2:18-19)

The Danish man who drew the initial cartoons, which have caused such an uproar of late, has also drawn cartoons which any believer in Jesus would find very offensive. However, we need to remember that for the believers in the one true God, there is always truth which outweighs the hype. There's the will of God, which should in every believer's mind, outweigh the emotional impulse to ever respond to this kind of insult in the same way those who follow a false religion do. Muslim extremists believe they should kill the infidel or simply all those who would disagree with them. Of course, if you have enough power, this could be an excellent way to convert the world to your religion; but it is clearly, not the desire of the God who created us, to see everyone forced to follow some religion. It is God's will, we choose to know Him, and seek His will for our lives. This is why the Bible tells us, God's will is that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (II Peter 3:9) Repentance is a choice we make, not something we can be coerced into at gun point or by intimidation!

This is why the Bible describes the life of a believer as one where we will not only suffer these kinds of insults but great persecution, even to the giving of our lives for the sake of Christ! There is no reason for the true believer in the God of creation to riot and harm others. Those who simply follow a religion may find the need to violently defend it against all who would oppose it. They may believe that violence is a useful tool in the furtherance of their religion, but those who believe in the truth, should understand that violence against those who oppose our belief will only drive us, and others, further from God. Our actions should be those of a people who want to make our lives an example of the truth, even in the face of great persecution and even death. The Bible teaches us, only Jesus can bring true peace to this earth, and we should, with patience, await His glorious return!

Following the Biblical Stream:
By Philip Busby

In this issue, we have arrived at chapter 4 of the book of Genesis. The creation, the garden, the first sin, and the initial judgments of God on man, are all behind us. Man is now facing the world with the consequences his choices have brought. It's here we come to the first point in the Biblical story which many theologians will say is a change in dispensation. They will tell you we left the dispensation of innocence and entered a dispensation of conscience. I cannot say whether the first men who conceived this idea of teaching had good intentions or not. I can only speak to the reality of where these teachings have brought us. I have talked of this before, but it's important it be said again here. People who teach dispensations, give us the impression that it's God who changes, or at the very least, it's the plan of salvation which evolves. This is simply wrong! God has never changed, the plan has never changed, and the evidence for that lies here in these first stories.

We were not saved by our innocence and then left to our conscience. Then later, people were saved by the law and now we are under grace. These ideas are all things which have been taught so the Biblical story would look more like man's pagan thoughts. We constantly strive to build an image, of our perfect Creator, which is like unto corruptible man. However, the truth is, God cannot be touched by sin. (James 1:13) Sin, therefore, cannot change the plan of God. God's plan has always been to give man a choice. This is exactly why man was given access to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil in the first place. Created in innocence, man was given the chance to have and be responsible for it all. The simple warning of God was, not even a day would pass before they would fail to be responsible for this knowledge if they chose to take it, (Gen. 2:17) but the choice was still theirs to make. Just because they made the choice to take on this responsibility, it did not change the plan of God. It is man's actions which change men's lives in drastic ways, and God knew when He created a free willed being that this universe's circumstances would constantly change on the basis of man's choices. This would be true even if man had never taken of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

What we see in the Bible story is God dealing with man as man makes his choices, and every time we see God intervene, it's for our good. The Bible is not a story about some angry pagan like god who needs to be appeased in whatever way he currently demands before we can earn heaven. The Bible is a story about a loving God who created a being with a free will, and God desired to see them freely develop a relationship with Him! It was man who made the choice to take the fruit, and for that, man had to be removed from the garden, plus other things. When man chose the evil instead of the good to such a degree that every thought of his heart was only evil continually, God said it grieved Him that He had ever made man. (Gen. 6:6)

Just as God will not force us to be good, He will not allow mankind, as a whole, to be completely overtaken by evil. Because of man's evil, God sent a flood, but because there was even one righteous man, (Noah) God used that man to give an escape from the coming destruction of that flood. This action exemplified God's commitment to save those who put their trust in Him! This is why men like Job said, "though he (God) slay me, yet will I trust in Him." (Job 13:15) and Abraham, while taking his son to Mt. Moriah said, "God will provide himself a lamb." (Gen. 22:8) Noah understood the flood was not the end nor the answer. So, the first thing he did after leaving the ark was sacrifice to God. (Gen. 8:18-20) All these men understood that no matter the circumstances of this life, choosing God was all that really mattered. Even though they did not yet see God's ultimate plan of salvation, they knew God would provide a way through this wilderness of sin, and then not even death could separate them from God. So, in worship to God, they represented their understanding of God's salvation through blood sacrifice, and they waited with patience, even to their graves, knowing God would provide a lamb!

The story of Cain and Abel perfectly illustrates this point, and we will cover these facts as we get to that story, but first we need to talk about verse 1 of chapter 4. Verse 1 tells us the next major event in the life of Adam and Eve after they were removed from the garden. This was the birth of Cain. Genesis chapter 5 verse 3 tells us Adam was 135 years old when Seth, Adam's third recorded son was born; and Genesis chapter 4 verse 25 tells us the birth of Seth was sometime after the murder of Abel. It's only reasonable to believe that Cain and Abel were not children when their mortal fight broke out; so there was likely some time between the birth of Abel and the birth of Seth. All this information does not tell us how old Adam was when they had their first child, but it's interesting to consider the possibilities. On top of this information is the statement made by Adam in giving Eve her name. Adam said in Genesis 3:20 that he called her Eve, "... because she was the mother of all living." Depending on how you take this statement, there could be reason to believe Adam and Eve did not wait long to start a family after being sent forth from the garden, but this brings us to another point, which is the fact, scripture does not tell us how long man was in the garden. So, again, I emphasize pinning an age on Adam at the time of Cain's birth is all speculation, and the truth is, we really don't know.

Genesis Chapter 4 starts with the words, "And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain," First, I am struck by the beauty and delicacy of how the Word of God states things. It tells us Adam "knew" Eve. Then it tells us, Eve carried the child. The word "conceived" here means to be with child. This is yet another way the Bible confirms to us that life begins at conception. Cain's existence did not start when he came out of his mother's womb or as he took his first breath. Cain's existence began because his father "knew" his mother and that joining resulted in a conception. Now, the Bible isn't interested in telling us every detail of Adam's and Eve's personal lives, but the fact Adam knew Eve is specifically pointed out here when it resulted in a child because it has significance!

Many people who want to use the Bible as an excuse for abortions will talk about the earlier scripture where God breathes the breath of life into Adam, (Gen. 2:7) but isn't that the point? Man did not became a living soul because of the fact there was air to breath, God put the breath of life into man! God only put the breath into Adam and then God formed Eve from Adam. Does this mean all girls should come from a man's rib? Of course not! These are the descriptions of how humans were created. As God finished and said it was all good, things were turned over to the will of man for the most part. (Gen. 1:28) This meant there was, in place, a process which man could control, for bringing other humans into existence. Here, in verse 1 of chapter 4, the words make it very clear the first human born by the will of man was formed in the very same way we scientifically know children come to be today! The choice to have or not have a baby comes at the "knowing" part, not after it results in a pregnancy!

Thus, Eve gave birth to Cain. Upon doing this, Eve responded, "I have gotten a man from the LORD." Some have suggested that this statement is nothing more than Eve saying she gave birth to a man child with the Lord's help, but in many ways the statement is more than that. Eve was recognizing that all humans belong to and come from God. In chapter 3 verse 20, we see Adam had named his wife Eve because she was the mother of all living. There would be no humans after them if Eve did not bare them. However, it's from God, or those things which He put into existence, that everything flows. Without God, nothing exists. (John 1:3) Procreating may be one of the free willed choices God gave to man, but Eve recognized this was far more than a simple physical process. It also indicates this first experience with childbirth had brought a better understanding, which one might believe Eve desperately wished she would have waited long enough to gain before deciding to take of the fruit. We are not here simply to do whatever we please. God created us, and He created us to live in a certain way. As free willed beings we can choose to use the tools God has given us for things God never intended us to, but we will only cause misery for ourselves.

This is why the third commandment, given in Ex. 20, is that we take not the name of the Lord God in vain. Many people will curse God for the fact He gave us a free will and our choices have caused us misery. However, these same people are often cursing God for the fact He does not step in and make whatever they want happen. With one mouth we curse God for doing something and not doing something. This is a clear point in the choices we have to make. Do we want to trust God and His guidance through this life, or do we want to do things on our own. We want God, as a cosmic power, to do what we desire but not interfere in even the least way by teaching us the simplest of things. This is truly a selfish attitude which shows just how far we are from understanding the dynamics of working and living together. (Matt. 7:12) It is ridiculous to blame God for not stepping in and brushing aside the consequences of our actions and still believe God has no right to tell us what to do! However, that is exactly how many people live their lives, and think it makes perfect sense.

Verse 2 of Genesis 4 is where some derive the thought that Cain and Abel were actually twins. This is primarily because there is no mention of Adam knowing his wife again and a second conception. There is only the baring part. This is another one of those theories which may or may not be true, but the wording indicates the possibility. In either case the scripture leaves no doubt of the fact Cain was the elder. Just as with the twin boys of Isaac and Rebekah, there is an older and a younger, even if it's only by seconds. (Gen. 25:24-26) Now the precedence of the older always getting the blessing and the younger being under the elder's authority had not been set as yet. However, it would seem from what God tells Cain in verse 7, God was giving heads up instruction on the fact this was going to be the path man would choose. Remember, God said that man would rule over the woman, but this was not the commandment of God. God's plan, as I said at an earlier time, was leadership, and there is a difference. So, God warns Eve that the path she had chosen would result in rulership instead of leadership. In the case of Cain and Abel, we do not know if the precedence of elder ruling younger had been set in anyway; but God was pointing out to Cain that just as his mother's decision to take of the fruit changed the life of all humans, so his actions would affect those who would follow him as well! What Cain needed to provide was a good example for future generations to follow, not move forward with the thoughts jealousy was tempting.

The second part of this verse tells us Abel kept sheep and Cain tilled the ground. These occupations are probably more indicative of desires on the part of Cain and Abel than necessities. The curse of the ground had not deteriorated the planet to a great degree as yet. Even by looking at the world in modern times and seeing the ability of some people to live off nature, it's hard to believe that at this early stage it was necessary to their survival for them to have these specific jobs. The other indicator of this is that man had not formed into societies, nor were there enough men to do so. These two are the first born of the first two humans, and even though others may have been born who are not recorded for us, we know Cain and Abel did not live at a populated time. There was no necessity for these two to take on such specific occupations as part of a larger society group, and there is no indication their father and mother demanded these occupations as part of the family unit. So it would seem they chose to do these specific occupations.

At first glance, the occupations of Cain and Abel may not seem important, or that their mention is only in connection to the story which follows. However, this is another point in the Bible which emphasizes to us truths which differ from the stories modern men want to tell us. Again, the Bible has no prehistory. It tells us the story of man's creation and makes it clear man did not evolve over a large period of time. Cain and Abel represent the second generation of humans on this planet; and necessary or not, this verse tells us they took on specific professions. For Cain, it was farming. Remember these words were written a very long time ago, and they were written so that people even outside formal society situations could understand them. There is also the point again that these were not jobs inside a larger society where Cain raised food, someone else made blankets, and they traded for the other things they needed. Thus, Cain is not listed as a "farmer" but a "tiller of the ground." There may be many people around the world at different points in history who live or lived in a way we would call primitive, but man was never an animal like being, who grew into something better. Even in the days of Adam and Eve, man was not swinging through the trees eating whatever fruit they passed on the way. Nor was he crawling on all fours looking under rocks for grubs and other insects as his primary food source. Cain tilled the ground. This meant Cain was going out and studying the plant life. He would have been finding out what was good to eat and what was good for something else. He was not just a harvester of whatever came naturally. Cain was harvesting seed to plant in his tilled ground and specifically choosing plants to propagate. It could be said that Cain was literally breaking new ground in the field of agriculture!

His brother Abel was also doing something with his time. Abel was "...a keeper of sheep." He was beginning the process known today as domestication. This was completely acceptable since God had clearly instructed that humans were to have dominion over the animals. Now this would have been different in their day, because it was not until after the flood, God gave man permission to eat animals; and though many people, before the flood, probably violated the vegetarian diet, it's unlikely that Abel was one of them! Along with this is the fact animals did not have a fear of humans until after the flood, (Gen. 9:2-3) so the process of domestication was not about getting animals to stop biting the hand that ate them! However, animals still had a natural pattern which they followed just as all natural animals do. Abel intervened in that pattern so that he could keep specific sheep, and no doubt did a certain amount of controlled breeding to encourage the traits he liked. Since they were not using them for food, this probably shows us humans were already developing a certain amount of technology. I mentioned before in this study that Adam and Eve tried to sew fig leaves together for the purpose of covering themselves. This is because they did not have the time to develop cloth production, but at this point, it's very likely that one of the main reasons for keeping sheep was to use their wool.

Humans were no longer the pampered, fully protected beings running around a garden without a care. They had been warned they were in a brave new world, and though the world did not contain all the dangers we know today, nor was it like being stranded on a dessert island, learning how to utilize their surroundings would have been top priority. They say necessity is the mother of all invention. I don't know if this is completely true, but I will at least agree that necessity is the mother of most inventions. I can only imagine their minds had to be racing with possibilities, because these first humans had nothing but raw materials!

May God bless you as you seek to find His will for your life, and I'll see you next time!

Living Springs' Questions and Answers

Does the Bible support the pre-tribulation rapture theory? If so, where?

This could be one of the shortest answers I've ever written. The answer to your question is simply no; and since this is true, there is no need to go into the second part of your question as to where it is supported. However, anyone who is familiar with my writing or heard me teach, knows, I can't let a golden opportunity like this pass! So, I would like to take some time to talk about some of the ins and outs of this doctrine, and what the Bible does tell us about this subject.

Let me say right up front, I like the way your question is worded. I love the fact you used the word "theory." Far too many people look at issues through what I like to call, "Reverse Biblical Theology." This is where you learn and accept something as fact, then go into the Bible to find supporting scriptures for it. When in truth, we should be deriving our doctrine from the study of God's Word first and as a whole.

When it comes to the issue of pre-tribulation rapture theory, it does not matter whether you take the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, or if you try to fractionalize the scripture by only taking a handful of scriptures out of context, there is no evidence for pre-tribulation rapture theory. However, fractionalization of the scripture must be utilized if you want to say the theory is Biblically based in anyway, then a whole lot of story telling still needs to be done in order to say the Bible supports the theory of pre-tribulation rapture!

Most, who teach or at least propagate this theory, will use two main scriptures in the attempt. First, they will quote I Thessalonians chapter 4, beginning around the fifteenth verse. They will focus on verses 16 and 17 which state, "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord." The second main scripture they will lean on is I Corinthians 15:51-52, which tells us, "Behold, I shew 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 trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." If you couple these scriptures with their story of pre-tribulation rapture, it does seem to support one small element of their theory.

The problem is not that they misquote these scriptures, but that they pull them out and use them to build a theology on top of an already false theology. If you talk to someone who really knows how to teach pre-tribulation theology, you will have to understand just how deep and tangled the wrong teaching on this issue goes. I know I've told this story before, but it's such a perfect example of what we are talking about here. I once had a lady ask me why Jesus chose "scum" to be His disciples? I had to explain to her that Jesus chose common men like a tax collector and fishermen to be His disciples, but to say they were scum was just wrong. In spite of this, she was very insistent on the point and wanted an answer to her original question! I had some trouble getting her to understand, I could not speak to the issue of why Jesus chose "scum" when the base facts of the question were wrong! This is the kind of twist we are dealing with when it comes to the issue of pre-tribulation rapture. Those who have this theology, want to suck us all into their vortex - so to speak - and far too many people find themselves arguing questions which have false basis to begin with.

In an attempt to simplify the situation, we should break this theory down into its major parts. Its major parts are three things, and they are all laid out in the title/description of the theory. We call the theory "pre-tribulation rapture." So, to make it clear, we start with the last word "rapture." This is, in its most basic definition, talking about what the scriptures, I quoted above, are describing. It is the "great catching away," or the actual point where Jesus and those who have believed in Him, both dead and alive, are joined together. This term "rapture" is not found in the Bible, and the fact it's so widely used in our teaching of the Bible, is due to the fact, men want to make the "rapture" a separate event from the Second Coming of Christ. We will talk more about that in a little bit!

The second part of the theory is the word "tribulation," which is meant to denote a certain time period; and the third part is the prefix "pre," which tells us when in relationship to the "tribulation" the "rapture" is to happen. Now, most people expect you to simply accept the basic ideas behind the "rapture" and the "tribulation." What they want to argue about is the prefix. Of these, there are three major accepted views. They are pre, mid, and post. For most people the argument never leaves this subject. Will the "rapture" happen before the "tribulation," in the middle of it or at the end. If you believe what the Bible actually tells us, there is no need to even have this argument at all!

The best way to set things straight is to strike at the heart of what makes the issue arguable in the first place. That is simply the event termed the "rapture." As I said before, the word "rapture" does not appear in the Bible. Now, it's not to say that it's totally wrong to use words or terms which do not appear in the Bible to describe events of the Bible, but in this case, using the term "rapture" is a great advantage to those trying to teach a fallacy! If you use the term "rapture" to describe the time in which the dead in Christ will rise and we which are alive and remain are caught up to meet Jesus in the air, then you can separate this event from the actual Second Coming of Christ! This is quite important to the theology. If the events of the first resurrection described in the scriptures I quoted above, are not separate from the event where Jesus actually sets physical foot on this planet for the second time, then there is no way the resurrection and gathering can happen before the "tribulation." This makes the entire argument of pre, mid, or post a mute point!

The Bible tells us in numerous places, when Jesus returns, He will bring peace to this world. (Isa.11, Micah 4 ) It's hard to layout a "tribulation" which is greatly defined by a lack of peace, if Christ has already returned. So, the "tribulation" period must be before Christ actually comes back, to this earth, in the like manner they've seen Him go, (Acts 1:1-11) and before the events described in Revelation where the angel comes down, binds the devil, and throws him in the bottomless pit, where he is locked away for a thousand years! (Rev. 19&20) The "tribulation" must happen before Jesus sets His feet on the Mt. of Olives and takes His rightful place on the throne of David. So, if you are going to have a "tribulation" and you want to say the church will not suffer this "tribulation," then you must separate the events of the first resurrection from the actual Second Coming of Christ. This is conveniently done by using the term "rapture"!

I have dropped jaws by telling people I do not believe in the "rapture." People will immediately say things like, "You don't believe in the first resurrection? You don't believe we which are alive and remain will be caught up to meet Jesus in the air? You don't believe Christ is returning someday?" To all this I say, yes! I believe in those things, because that is exactly what the Bible tells us will happen! What I do not believe in is the idea that the "rapture" or in other words the events described by the term "rapture," are in anyway a separate event from the Second Coming of Christ. Thus, I simply believe in the Second Coming of Christ, period!

Even saying you believe in the Second Coming of Christ, period, doesn't settle it in most people's minds, because people who teach pre-tribulation rapture theory will twist the terminology and say the rapture is the Second Coming of Christ. However, if that is true, then what is the event where Jesus physically sets His feet on this planet? Is there a third coming of Christ? The Bible only speaks in the terms that we are simply waiting for the return of Christ! (John 14:25-29) It never even comes close to laying out the elaborate story people who believe in pre-tribulation rapture tell.

I once heard a preacher say he did not know how to twist and scrutinize, water down, and spread out the scripture. He simply believed if the Bible said it, then that is what you should believe. The problem is not that we don't know how to twist and water down the scripture. The problem is, it has already been done for us, and if we simply swallow anything we are taught by a large portion of what calls itself "the church," we will not be simply following what the Bible plainly tells us right from the start! If we would derive our doctrine from the simple reading of the Word and not allow Christian theology to affect us, we would see many holes in what most churches teach. It comes down to the old saying, "If more people knew their Bible, more preachers would have to be right on their theology."

There is absolutely no evidence in the Bible that the events Paul is talking about in I Thess. 4 and I Cor. 15 are somehow a description of a separate event from the Second Coming. Paul is talking to the church about Christ's return and the events of which it's comprised. If we simply follow what the Bible tells us, instead of twisting our theology, we would see this, but if we listen to the fractionalization of the scripture, we see a picture that is not there! So, to argue the issue of pre-tribulation rapture is to only argue a top layer of a multi-layered false teaching! If you ask most "pre" believers why they believe in pre, they will tell you it's because they do not believe God would send His children through the tribulation, and that brings us to talk about the next layer of the false teaching.

What is the "tribulation"? Well, this is similar to the "rapture" fallacy. Unlike rapture, the word "tribulation" is used in the Bible. However, it's not used to describe what most all churches will tell you it describes. Just as they build a false idea of a separate "rapture," they also build a false theology called "the tribulation." Jesus told us, after He returned to the Father there would be wars and tribulation. (Matt. 24:1-31) We are also instructed that, "In the world ye shall have tribulation," John 16:33, and "that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God," Acts 14:22. However, the Bible never tells us there is such a thing as, "the tribulation!" It's like something straight out of Hollywood. Can't you just hear the commercial, but instead of saying "don't miss," they say, "be sure to miss the Tribulation!" Instead of the long awaited return of the Saviour, most of the church looks for rescue from some specific time period of misery caused by God!

False teachers, who obviously do not know God at all, take scripture out of its context, and they jump all over it to twist together an idea that there will be a specific tribulation period which will take place just before Christ returns to this earth. It will be a time when those who are unfortunate enough to be living in this time will be "left behind" for God to beat up on for a while. This is a misunderstanding of the nature of God and His holiness to such a degree it should make us literally sick to our stomach! God pouring out His wrath is mostly about allowing man to suffer the consequences of his own actions without God reaching down and automatically fixing every problem. If God simply fixed every problem or gave us access to the Tree of Life, we would never learn anything. God gave us a free will, and God is interested in seeing who will choose righteousness and who is simply not interested! The fact God will allow death to someday take us from the misery man has created in this world is a blessing, because it gives God an opportunity to truly separate the sheep from the goats. (Matt. 25:31-46) Those who love righteousness will have life in a place where there will be no others who do not share their love, and where God can guide us in the ways of righteousness!

So, the very teaching of a specific time period of great misery which God causes, is also not in the Bible. However, among those who do teach this "tribulation" idea, most will tell you it is a period of about seven years. They get this by using the time periods described in Revelation which add up to seven. Now, I don't have room here to teach all of Revelation, but we can take a quick dip into another false teaching which makes the seven year false teaching so easy to pull off.

People like to say the number seven is God's perfect number. This is not really the right way to look at the issue. It took God six days to create everything physical, but God took seven days to make creation complete! Seven is God's number of completion for this creation which we live in. Let me say something which may be hard for some to understand, but needs to be said. We don't know what other things God has created which we have no idea or even the ability to understand, much less, know about. However, the Bible does tell us that the angels are in heaven with God, and we know the devil and his angels were cast out of heaven unto the earth. (Rev. 12:7-9) From these facts, we know what God created here in our universe is not all that exists. God is vast and beyond our comprehension. What God has done through the Bible, which is the information God has given specifically to us, has given us the understanding we need in order to relate to God on the level we were meant to relate! If you can grasp that idea, then you will understand better what I mean when I say, the number seven is God's number of completion as it relates to this creation, and this creation is what we are a part of.

How does all this relate to the issue at hand? Simple! The layout of things adding up to seven in the book of Revelation is not laying out a specific seven year time period, it is talking about cycles of completion. Even Jesus told us, He did not know when His return would be. Only the Father knows this information. (Matt. 24:32-36) This is because only the part of God we know as the Father is capable of making the determination of when to intervene with such an action. We can not understand this concept completely, but we know God has a complete work He is looking for when it comes to this creation. Thus, the book of Revelation gives us months or days or years in amounts which ultimately add to sevens, to represent the fact, time must pass and certain things must happen before God the Father will say things are complete and ready for Christ's return. How do we understand this symbolism and the back of the Book? By reading the very front of the Book!

This should make perfect sense to us, since everyone should realize Revelation is representative. The beasts described in Revelation were never meant to be literal descriptions of physical beasts which would walk the earth. They are representative of man's ideas and empires he would build. They are representative of who the devil is and how his ideas have been melded with man's! This is done so that we may have a deeper understanding than just a physical picture of history's events can give. So too, the time periods given in Revelation are representative of the culmination of events God is looking at, not a literal calendar for us to calculate with.

This is no different from the Bible's story as a whole. If God's plan for this creation was complete at the time of Noah, God would have simply ended this world right then, but God's plan was not complete. If God's plan was complete at the time of the Tower of Babel, He would have ended the world then, but God did not; He confounded their languages. So, there is a completion God is looking for in this creation before it will end, and there are smaller cycles within the bigger one which causes God to intervene and in certain ways. It was not time for the Messiah to come when Noah walked the earth, but it was time for a flood. It was not the answer at the Tower of Babel, but confounding man's language was. Sending Jesus in great power and might to take the rulership of this world was not the answer at the time of the Roman Empire, but offering the Messiah with willingness to be crucified on a cross was! So, when Jesus was here, He told us many things would need to come to pass before He would return. (Matt. 24) The book of Revelation shows us a picture of just those things. So, when will God return physically to this planet? According to Revelation, when this cycle of completion is accomplished. (Matt. 24:34) When will that be? Only God the Father knows! So, what good is the book of Revelation? It helps us understand the everyday tribulation we are suffering now, and why we must, for the sake of the cross, go through it. Among many other things, it also gives us a view into the events which lay beyond the return of Christ, and it reassures us of the promise that if we are willing to endure until the end, we will receive the crown of life God has promised to all those who serve Him! (James 1:12, Rev. 2:10)

Consider this, organizations, like the Seventh Day Adventist, were started by a group of people who specifically thought they could calculate the day of the Second Coming of Jesus. On that day, they sat waiting for Christ's return, but it never happened. So they set another date, and they waited. Again, nothing happened. Eventually, they came up with all kinds of ideas as to what actually did happen on those days, and decided their calculation idea would need further study to ever be correct as to the day of Christ second return. All this was done in spite of the fact the Bible makes it clear that the day of Christ will overtake people as a thief in the night! (I Thess. 5:2) All this was done in spite of the words of Christ which told us, only the Father knows when His return will be; (Mark 13:32) and just so no one thinks I am trying to beat up on one specific organization, I should point out, they are not the only group of people in history which have done such a thing, and they won't be the last!

Today, we have just too many churches and organizations of churches, to mention by name, which believe in what is only a much more complex false teaching than just thinking you can know the specific day. This seven year tribulation idea, in many ways, is an attempt to do an end run around the idea of no one knowing when Christ will return. They separate the "rapture" and say it's the part which will come as a thief in the night. Then, they teach there is a fairly calculable time period between that event and the time of Christ's actual return to the planet! There is simply an obsession with the idea that we can know when Christ will return to this earth.

These false doctrines are filled with so many dangerous things, there is no way we could even touch on all of them in just one article! However, we can greatly help ourselves by simply understanding the main point of these false teachings is, simply, to get as many people off track as possible. False teachings, like pre-tribulation rapture and all it contains, are designed to keep people from having a real knowledge of who God is. Instead of a God who has created all people and is no respecter of persons, (I Peter 1:17, Eph 6:9) it draws a picture of God rapturing all His church and leaving those unfortunate people who are alive at that time to suffer great misery at God's direct hand. Instead of showing us that the true church will suffer persecution and many will come out of great tribulation to stand before God, knowing they loved the gospel more than they loved their lives, (Rev. 12:10-11) it paints a picture of a cowardly church which could not possibly serve God unless they are pampered with protection!

The result of these teachings give way to more and more false teachings. By misconstruing what it means to give up this life for the sake of the cross, we can tell people they are not followers of Christ unless they have health and wealth. We can fill huge church buildings with people who like these faltering stories and the promises this life will be great. (II Tim. 4:3-4) In the end, it results in this world at the time of Christ's return being just like the days of Noah. People will be eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. Doing and enjoying all this life has to offer, right up to the day. (Matt. 24:37-39) There will be many who will miss the true Second Coming of Christ. They will not be left behind for a "tribulation," but they will miss the opportunity to be a part of that first resurrection. (Rev. 20:6) Sadly, because so many buy so greatly into these false teachings, many who call themselves Christians will never have a true relationship with God, and would never be able to recognize Christ, even after He has returned! Because we misunderstand the purpose of Christ's return, we have no real understanding of the time period we live in or the time Christ is to rule on this earth. (Rev. 20:1-6) However, the saddest part of all this is, that whether today or tomorrow, these false teachings cloud our ability to know and have a relationship with the God who created us. So again, no, the Bible does not support pre-tribulation rapture theory, but what it does tell us, is, if we go out into eternity depending on false teaching instead of having a real relationship with God, we will truly be the ones left behind!

Questions submitted to the Institute, answered by Philip Busby.

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