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At this point Festus interrupted Paul’s defense, “You are out of your mind, Paul!” he shouted. “Your great learning is driving you insane.”

“I am not insane, most excellent Festus,” Paul replied. “What I am saying is true and reasonable.” (Acts 26:24-25 NIV)

Men, like the Apostle Paul, want those who oppose them to know that their position is true and reasonable. Near the end of The Book of Revelation we twice read the book’s prophecy is trustworthy and true (21:5, 22:6).

Deceivers claim they are telling the truth if they think they cannot be proven a liar. There are many false prophets for that reason. How can you disprove something that is future? (ex. “The sun will explode in the year 2030.”) The expert may stake his reputation on his prediction, but is his argument true, trustworthy and reasonable?

If I recall, it was the philosopher Blaise Pascal that said that it is more reasonable that something that happened before could happen again, then something that has never happened will happen for the first time. Also, the preacher in Ecclesiastes gave us this:

Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before… (3:15)

So, is it reasonable to think that the Church will be suddenly taken up in the rapture, if nothing like it has ever happened? Is it trustworthy to say the saints will escape the tribulation and be taken up to heaven if nothing of this nature has ever transpired? (Yes, I have heard of Enoch, but tell me, what tribulation was he escaping?) The pre-tribulation rapture is completely without precedent.

Is it reasonable to believe that Christ will come at any moment, without any signs, if no Scripture supports the claim? We are talking about “imminency,” the cornerstone of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture position. Are PTR teachers trustworthy if their “any moment rapture position” contradicts the One seated on the Throne (ex. Revelation 13:9-10), His Son (Matthew 24:29-31), as well as Paul (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3).

Come let us reason together. Something that happened before will happen again–this age will end and the wicked will perish as they did in Noah’s day. (Was the construction of the ark not a sign of God’s announced judgment?) Saints, forced to undergo great hardship, always precedes God’s deliverance, not the other way around (ex. the exodus).

So how has an illogical, unreasonable and untrustworthy teaching captured the minds of smart Christians. It is because a trusted person said it was true. We are also willing to overlook the illogical arguments that prop it up. But Salvation is never without her escorts, Truth and Reason.

For a reasoned Biblical criticism of Pre-Tribulation Rapturism, order Lifesaver: Saving God’s People from the PTR Ship. (Booklocker.com, ebook or paperback)

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Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! (Proverbs 6:6 NIV)

As a child, in the early evening, a favorite game at family gatherings with our cousins was “Hide n’ Seek”. Our home was ideal with trees, bushes and other wonderful places to hide. Our big maple tree served as home base. The person who was “It” covered their eyes, faced the tree and started counting. When they reached fifty they would shout “Ready or not, here I come!” When we heard “Ready or not” we would freeze in place. You did not want to be the first spied or caught. That meant you would be “It” the next round. What a thrill to race to the tree, touching it and yelling, “All-ee, all-ee in free.”

The game took some forethought. The time for hiding went fast, so you better have a plan before the counting started.  In life we do not have the benefit of a countdown. Things happen unexpectedly; things from which we cannot hide.

With the debate over when Jesus will re-appear, it may be overlooked that death could find us long before this age ends. Ready or not is the question. We all need to be ready, not for an “any moment” rapture, but for an “any moment” end of life.

This does not mean discussing the timing of Christ’s coming is irrelevant; it has total relevance. We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but it will matter greatly to survivors we helped prepare. Our test will be whether we are ready for either eventuality, and whether or not we love truth.

(The peril facing those who absorb Pre-Tribulation Rapture (PTR) “imminent return of Christ for his Church” teaching is that they will not be ready for “the Great Tribulation” (Daniel 12:1, Matthew 24:21, Revelation 7:14). God’s Word clearly states it will indeed happen, and that it must precede Christ’s return for his saints. (In our book Lifesaver we offer 24 Biblical and rational torpedoes that sink the PTR ship.)

The centuries old saying of Benjamin Franklin is true: “By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail.” There is no guarantee we will live to see the thing we prepare for, but we are guaranteeing a disaster if we see the thing for which we are unprepared. So will we be ready for what Christ promised (The Great Tribulation) or not be ready because we paid no heed? Ready or not, it is coming!

 “…to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:17b)

Next time, we will look at some practical goals preparing us for the last days.

 

A whip for a horse, a halter for a donkey, and a rod for the backs of fools!  Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you will be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, or he will be wise in his own eyes. (Proverbs 26:3-4 NIV)

If you’re asking “Where’s Part 1?” my answer is I do not know. It vanished, at least for now. But, as promised, we will proceed with Part 2 of “Contrived Arguments” in hopes that Part 1 can be found. First, what are “Contrived Arguments”?  My definition is this: A contrived argument is a charge or accusation created from whole cloth or made up out of someone’s imagination. The purpose is to promote a larger, hidden agenda. For contrived arguments to work, they need a promoter and willing dupes who are inclined to believe their narrative.

We could offer scores of examples, but let’s pick one. One of the leading early members of the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL), Dr. Bernard Nathanson, was a powerful advocate for a woman’s right to a safe, legal abortion.  His conversion to Pro-Life is detailed in his book “The Silent Scream”. Dr. Nathanson reported how, from the inside, he participated in the contrived argument that “68,000 women die annually from complications of ‘backyard’ abortions. Therefore, to save lives, women need safe, therapeutic abortion.” Willing accomplices at the World Health Organization (WHO) and The Guttmacher Institute published graphs and statements to back up the NARAL story. Sympathetic media ran with it and the rest is history.

To explain how contrived arguments work, I want to repeat something written in a recent post. “The one who forms the argument, in all probability, will win the argument.” It is easy to figure out why. For one thing, it is impossible to disprove a negative, such as an accusation (ex. “How many times have you hit your wife?”) Challenging the fabricator will fail to convince anyone who is sympathetic to their cause. Also, the one who contrives the argument has the advantage of considering potential counter-attacks and preparing for them beforehand.

Let’s say I claim: “The Russians stole the 2016 presidential election.” Here’s another: “Fossil fuels are destroying the planet.” What about this one: “Modern Bible translations have corrupted God’s Word. The only reliable version is the inspired and infallible Authorized King James.” Try to rationally dispute these statements with an ideologue and it will probably result in frustration.

Here’s a popular contrived argument. “The Church will be taken up in the rapture before the Tribulation. Anyone who disagrees does not believe the Bible.” (The roots of this contrived story are in Lifesaver: Saving God’s People from the PTR Ship.) When the preacher pounds on the pulpit, becomes red in the face, holds his Bible in the air and yells the above, it tends to discourage honest debate. That’s the purpose. Unanswered propositions embolden the accuser so they feel wise in their own eyes.

Be aware of false narratives that have made their way into our culture—even the culture of the Church. Challenge them with Scripture, facts and rationality. You may not save everyone from believing contrived arguments, but you can at least save yourself from yielding to the lie. It is more important to stand for truth than it is to win the argument.

Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many.”  (Mark 13:5 NIV)

As Papa ten Boom, Corrie’s father, said in The Hiding Place, “Just because a mouse is in the cookie jar, it does not make him a cookie.”

The “mouse in the cookie jar” was a reference to the their pastor. In his clergy garb, he had just counseled Papa and his two daughters, Corrie and Betsy, to cease their efforts on behalf of the Jews. The Ten Booms were defying their Nazi occupiers at great risk to themselves, by helping Jews escape Holland and almost certain death.

The Ten Boom’s shepherd spoke as though he was caring for his flock. He sat stoically, and appealed to their objectivity. But Papa Casper ten Boom told his minister, “The Jew is the apple of God’s eye. How can we, as a family, do nothing?”

Let history judge who was right. The names of the Ten Booms appears on the wall of “The Righteous Among the Nations”, an honor accorded non-Jews by the State of Israel presented to those who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews from extermination. Where might the ten Boom’s pastor have his name written? He might as well be nameless.

Beware of those who wear sheep’s clothing while making a pretense of objectivity. They are not sheep, but wolves. That is what Jesus warns about (above) in “The Olivet Discourse” (Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21). It is up to us not to be taken in or deceived by the claim they speak in Jesus’ name. They have an angle or a hidden agenda. Don’t fall for their false or pseudo-objectivity or bad things will happen.

The world is waking up to the state of modern journalism. Years ago the news media quit reporting the story. Instead, they began to skillfully fashion their reporting in order to form public opinion. Important facts that fail to support their version are omitted while others that do are embellished. What comes to us in the news props up their specific world view or stirs the controversy they seek. Forget objectivity. It is all a pretense, a sham. Except on rare occasions, journalism is pseudo-objectivity.

I was recently informed of a scathing “one-star” critique on Amazon of my 2013 analysis of Pre-tribulation Rapturism (PTR), “Lifesaver: Rescuing God’s People from the PTR Ship” (Booklocker). My first thought on learning I was pilloried in a review was a feeling of gratitude: “Thank you, nameless one, for taking time to launch your poisoned-tipped darts.”

No doubt the reviewer would name Jesus as his Lord and Savior, as do I. As I read what “my Christian brother/sister” wrote, I could visualize their guns blazing. The review, “a fizzer”, left me wondering “Why the deceit?” There was a pretense of a serious analysis, but serious it was not–nor did it analyze anything I wrote. There was a hidden intent; keep potential readers away.

By referring to what I wrote as “a rant”, the critic’s agenda was to torpedo a reasoned, Biblical analysis of PTR,  a widely-held Christian view of prophecy. In Lifesaver, I fired my torpedoes at ideas and thoughts in order to save people, not fire at people in order to save my ideas. I should not be surprised a loyal PTR soldier, disguised as an objective critic, went for my throat.

So, I ask, is pseudo-objectivity the best that journalism or that PTR can offer? I believe there are many who see through the deception. We better see through it or Jesus’ warning will be for naught. Such things are signs the deceived, like the Ten Boom’s pastor, are on the losing side of history.

In Acts 7:9-10, we find this: “These men began to argue with Stephen, but they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke. Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, ‘We have heard Stephen speak words of blasphemy against Moses and against God.’ “

What did Stephen say that stirred the hatred of the opposition? Those who argued with him schemed to have him stoned to death using the false charge of blasphemy. It wasn’t simply what this Spirit-filled follower of Jesus said, but how he said it. He spoke the truth boldly. Stephen exposed the most powerful religious leaders of his day as wolves in sheep’s clothing.

A veteran newsman interviewed the U.S. president in 2012 asking questions the American leader did not like. Afterwards, the TV anchor was the subject of an audit by the tax collection agency of the U.S., the Internal Revenue Service. The same journalist was later fired from his job.

A reporter from a major cable news network covered a story that showed America’s president in a less than favorable light. Not long after, the reporter’s phones were wired with an eavesdropping device—as was his parents’ home phone. The wiretapping was ordered by the U.S. Dept. of Justice.

What did these men do to instill the wrath of the federal government? They both spoke the truth boldly. They are in the company of Whistle Blowers.

In reality, prophets are whistle blowers. They bring liars and hypocrites out of hiding. That’s what Jesus did. Christ blew the whistle on those who ran Jerusalem’s temple. Jesus as well as John the Baptist called them what they were, “a brood of vipers”.

There are poisonous snakes in our day, too. They may appear harmless but they spew venom. If anyone blows the whistle on them, they will hatch an evil plot to silence the blower or make them pay for being outspoken.

I’ve made up my mind; I’d rather be in the company of whistle blowers, than stand with those who revile them (Psalm 1:1). That’s why the book “Lifesaver”. That’s why this simple book will be loved by some, yet hated by those it exposes.  

Question 12- What would you like readers of Lifesaver to take away from the experience?

 

Answer 12-I hope that they’d say the book was fair. I hope they appreciate the objective way I presented my case with Scripture. I hope they realize after reading Lifesaver that truth matters. I hope they can see that Christians can disagree without making the other side out to be villains. I hope they can process everything and be able to take a stand against popular opinion. And, I guess, I want them to know if a brother or sister supports the “any moment rapture” position, it doesn’t mean they have horns. It only means they do not fully understand what the Bible teaches or correctly interpret prophecy–therefore, they are in trouble of being deceived.

Question 11: The world, our country, and our leaders seem to be falling apart around us. At times, it appears the tribulation period is just around the corner. What are your thoughts on that?

Answer 11: My view on that is based on reading the Bible and studying history. The world is falling apart because we are fast approaching the time of the end and, yes, it is just around the corner. The world is also falling apart because Christians have lost their saltiness or influence with respect to culture, politics, morality, community, respect for life, and all the rest. We have the leadership we deserve. Chaos is on the way.

  Tribulation happens in the natural course of things when we act like the Church is supposed to act. Trials come when we invade Satan’s territory and set his prisoners free. Tribulation is a good sign that we are doing something of relevance to God and to the devil. If we are persecuted, it means we are on the attack. Read Jesus, Peter and Paul on this subject.

 The Church in Laodicea did not suffer the same tribulation as Smyrna and Philadelphia. Why not? Because they were self-centered, self-satisfied, prosperous and compromising, that’s why. Jesus expressed how worthless they were by saying he was about to spit them out of his mouth.

In general, Laodicea then is how we in America and other Western nations are today. We have largely given the world a false Jesus. The Jesus we have marketed wants us all to be healthy, wealthy, sitting in church on Sunday and passive. We will soon see the real Jesus in all his glory. Judgment will begin on the household of God, and for those who profess the name of Christ, it won’t be pretty. That is coming before the Tribulation, by the way.  Expect this soon!

Question 10: Is knowing the tribulation is coming enough? What must Christians do to prepare for these difficult times?

Answer 10: Knowing is not enough. It is only half the battle, but an important step nevertheless. We have to clear our head of false ideas or we will be unprepared for the distress Jesus says the elect will endure prior to his coming. We must study and teach prophecy. That was Paul’s encouragement to the church in Corinth.  The prophets have the revelation we need. Gather with others who dig into prophecy using the rules I referred to earlier. Develop Christian communities that are self-sufficient. Do all the things Jesus says or we won’t pass our future test. Nothing can be done for those in denial. They will likely fall away because they put their trust in a lie.

   No one can afford to ignore prophecy. Heads must come out of the sand. This is all about salvation. Our Savior wants us to be saved to the uttermost. He wants our bodies and souls to be saved from what will soon come upon the whole earth. His Son Jesus is coming as the deliverer of his people. He is coming to establish his reign and rule over the earth and those he saves from out of the time of great distress will make up his kingdom and his priests. That is the future salvation that is written into Scripture in Revelation. Christ will demonstrate his glory and God will reveal his Sovereignty. He will punish those who alter prophecy for that reason. For those alive today, there is nothing more important than to know the truth. Why are we confused or in the dark about it? I suggest there is a diabolical answer to that question.

Question 9: The Bible gives hope, indeed, but what is hopeful about experiencing the tribulation?

Answer 9: That is a good question and one that we need to thoroughly grasp. Viktor Frankl, the Nazi holocaust survivor who wrote, “In Search of Meaning,” gave good insight from his horrific experience. He said something like, “When we find meaning in our suffering, it is then no longer suffering.” Besides the testing of our love and loyalty to Christ, tests demonstrate that we are genuine and belong among the people of God. There is rich meaning to be found in tribulation. It refines us like gold. It allows us to participate in the sufferings of Christ. Tribulation takes away our love for this world; it allows us to do good deeds and express our love for our fellow man, even for our enemies.

   Peter wrote that we should not think of our suffering as though something strange was happening to us. Paul and the apostles taught the disciples outside of Lystra, where he was stoned and left for dead. Their message was in Acts 14:22, “We have to go through many tribulations to enter the kingdom of God.”

  I could go on and on. Largely, because of the PTR influence we have not connected with members of our Christian family who suffer in our day. We often fail to see reality. We live in denial. The signs are unmistakable. The U.S. and the West will soon experience a persecution of all those who claim Jesus as their Savior like we cannot imagine.

   We desperately need to develop a “theology of suffering” because the Scriptural teaching is rich on this subject. We need the mind of God about it because we are soon going to face it. Pre-tribulationalism is escapism. It is a place for those to go and listen to what their itching ears want to hear.

   I have to add that what gives suffering meaning and therefore makes it something to embrace rather than avoid is that it is the way to honor and please God and gain eternal life. It is not simply talking the talk; it is walking the walk the saints have long trod.

Question 8: So what you are saying then, is that those supporting the Pre-Tribulation Rapture look for scriptures to support their view, rather than searching the scriptures for what is actually there?

Answer 8: Yes, you nailed it! That’s what not only Pre-tribbers do but other Christian ideologues do on a host of pet subjects. That’s how we get the cult spin-off groups.

   I have made it a point to tell my students, that if you start out with a wrong assumption, you cannot come to a correct conclusion. That’s where this is at. I saw this repeatedly in the writings or statements of Pre-Tribbers. They begin at the wrong starting place and go from there with cleverly crafted scenarios. Sincere students, those who are teachable, are susceptible because they trust teachers who love the Lord and sound knowledgeable about Scripture. Prophecy is still future so we think, “Who are we to say; they could be right.” If we would be more like the Bereans and listen intently to what our teachers give us from the Bible, then go back and examine it critically for ourselves to see if it is true, we would not have the differences we have in the church.

   I was surprised by how easy this book was to write. Coming up with Biblical arguments that dismantled PTR suppositions or starting points was not difficult. It helps that I did not just destroy. I had something valid to replace the false. Truth always gives hope.

Lifesaver Book

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Prophets of God

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The People of God

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