Forward

By Elijah Dibney

Over the last few years it has been placed within the anxious hearts of many to question when this world will end. In light of recent false predictions, multitudes have become cynical of such an end while others have developed a greater-than-ever interest in prophecy.

Not long ago, John Finkbeiner (The People of God and The Prophets of God), shared his goal of challenging believers to re-examine their conclusions about prophecy. We believed Christians were largely misinformed about what was about to happen. I agreed; this was not the time to treat prophecy with contempt (1st Thessalonians 5:20). Our battle was against ignorance and any argument standing in the way of a clear understanding of God’s Word.

John recognized those under the strong influence of Pre-Tribulation Rapturism (PTR) would be the most difficult to persuade. He knew PTR’s thin veneer of truth had to be attacked.

Lifesaver offers a Biblical alternative to the PTR. It provides critical understanding of prophecy and history, and does it with passion and the accuracy of a sharpshooter. It provides the keys to the last days. As we move forward, is there anything more important to have?

John Finkbeiner, whom I have known a long-time as a teacher, offers arguments exposing serious flaws in PTR. He does not disrespect, slander, misrepresent or show malice. He writes fairly with a single determination to demolish false beliefs and set captives free.

For believers who heed this book’s well-reasoned and thought-provoking message, Christ will soon come to their rescue. All who love the truth will be led on His gracious path of salvation. As I see it, this is why Lifesaver offers each student exactly what its title implies.

-INTRODUCTION-

On May 1, 1915, nearly two thousand were on board as the Cunard Lines owned RMS Lusitania sailed from New York City. The plan to arrive in England was not to be. On May 7, eleven miles off the coast, a German submarine (U-boat) fired a torpedo sinking the liner in eighteen minutes. (Source Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, “The Sinking of the Lusitania”)

From a historical perspective, it is hard to explain why so many boarded this ill-fated ship. Great Britain and Germany were at war. The Lusitania was registered as a British warship. Why would anyone risk boarding a defenseless warship while U-boats prowled the North Atlantic? Germany alerted the ship’s passengers to the danger. Still 1,959 passengers and crew were onboard; 1,198 perished. For those who took the warning seriously and stayed off, it was a lifesaver.

This book is designed to serve similarly to Germany’s warning:  “Keep souls off the doomed Pre-Tribulation Rapture (PTR) ship”.

Promoters of PTR exude optimism. The long PTR name conveys a false security that clear sailing is guaranteed for God’s people.

Jimmy DeYoung echoes a common PTR statement:

“The Rapture of the church is the next main event on God’s timetable of prophetic activities. No prophecies have yet to be fulfilled before the Rapture can take place. It is imminent; it can happen at any moment. In fact, nothing but the long-suffering grace and mercy of God prevents it from occurring right now.”

DeYoung, Jimmy, “Preparing for the Third Temple,” Israel My Glory Magazine, May/June 2012, p. 14

This book warns that despite the enthusiasm, the PTR ship will not reach its destination. There are indeed signs—and God is giving them! These are warnings. Some will survive PTR’s last voyage, but all aboard will pay a heavy price. God’s people who read the following pages carefully, will discover, as the title implies, a Lifesaver.

April 13, 2013 From Chapter #1

He [Jesus] replied, “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”

Luke 21:8-9

“Watch out!” is a warning coming from Jesus. Does that carry extra weight? If our Lord says “Do not follow them!” (“them” meaning false prophets) will we listen? When our Master and Teacher says, “These things must happen first,” is he not speaking of the pre-ordained events in the last days? These things are signs that the Sovereign Lord has established by decree. It will happen in the way he declared before anything was made. This is to the glory of our God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Prophecy is the revelation of God’s perfect order strategically placed throughout Scripture. The saints understand this perfect order and they glorify the Lord because of it. Despite the chaos, insanity, and deceit prevalent in the last days; they know God’s Word will forever stand.

Perhaps, the most grievous error committed by PTR teachers is that, by their teachings, they rob the Sovereign Lord of this testimony to his glory. They reject the truth that God has created an order to everything, including the events of the last days. They invoke God’s name while making false statements about prophecy such as Jesus can come at any moment.  

April 24, 2013 From Chapter #2

Whom shall we believe?

Every PTR teacher is in agreement that, at the end of this age, believers will not endure the seven years of tribulation. Look into this issue for yourself. It is a major point on which they are all unified. They produce various Scripture verses—albeit out of context—to prove it. 

Some on the PTR side deride their opponents by attributing false bravado to those who see great suffering coming. They mockingly claim PWR teachers have a martyr’s complex or some sort of morbid desire to die for Christ. Have they not read Jesus words about being willing to pick up our cross and following him to the death?

With all the escape scenarios that PTR teachers paint before the tribulation starts, who are we going to believe? Do we want to risk our eternity based on promises of peace and security given by those who lives have been free of persecution?

May 6, 2013 From Chapter #4

Gifted

Since the twentieth century began, some of the most gifted and inspired preaching has come from those espousing PTR [Pre-tribulation rapture]. Powerful teachers and evangelists, graduates of Dallas, Moody and several other PTR Bible schools and seminaries, have built huge congregations with dynamic sermons from the Bible. Only God the Father could reveal the truth of Christ’s person and work that so eloquently comes forth from their mouths. It has been this way for over a century. Jesus loves these servants deeply as he loves every one of his disciples.

Those I am speaking of preach the cross. They herald God’s plan of salvation in Christ and proclaim Jesus as the Savior of the world. They have had great success in bringing many souls to the Lord. These leaders I am describing have their hearts in the right place. They have noble motives. Just as Peter did, they love Jesus beyond question. 

In these last days, we are looking at the generals who are leading the Church. Like Patton, they did not rise through the ranks without talent and skill. Yet Eisenhower did not select the brilliant Patton to command the U.S. forces invading Europe. Instead, he chose General Matthew Ridgeway. Ridgeway was dependable. He could lead soldiers through the fires of hell—plus, Ridgeway knew how to follow orders.

By their national and worldwide influence, some PTR pastors have long demonstrated tremendous leadership ability. Yet, if they manifest human thoughts rather than God’s thoughts; if they improvise rather than obey their Commander-in-Chief, they are in for a severe rebuke. Many will lose their high position for insubordination. In the war before us, Jesus must have leaders who follow all that he says without improvising. Christ must have generals that will lead saints into the jaws of death and victory, not offer them a so-called escape route.

“The preaching of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

1st Corinthians 1:18

May 20, 2013 From Chapter #5

Prophets

There is no argument from PTR [Pre-tribulation rapture] teachers or pastors about whether the end is near. They say it is—and we agree! For this, they should be commended. Too many church leaders refuse to alert their congregations to Jesus’ soon coming. This is probably because they do not believe it themselves. Where PTR teachers fail is that they do not prepare their students for the intense battle ahead. They are convinced that no preparation is necessary. This is a huge mistake!  

There will be men and women among us charged with the responsibility of communicating exactly what God, our director, wants us to know. Who are these special servants? They are the Lord’s prophets. Their task is to reveal what He is going to do (cf. Amos 3:7). God sends his prophets to announce his intentions (i.e. prophesy) so people will turn from their sin (i.e. preach repentance) and seek Him while he may be found (i.e. offer guidance and the path of salvation).

God sends his prophets or messengers prior to every major redemptive event. Needless to say, a major event is very near. A few of God’s prophets have appeared already, yet many more are coming. The reason the Lord sends them is that he wants his will made known. He wants his sovereignty over all earthly powers declared before he demonstrates it. Lastly, by warning everyone regarding what is coming, the Lord is offering an opportunity at salvation. Our God is merciful, kind and good. It is his desire for all people everywhere that they be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (cf. 1st Timothy 2:3-4).

June 1, 2013 From Chapter #6

For millions politics is a military campaign. In their mind, opponents are an enemy that must be vanquished. “The other party will starve the children; poison the water, cut social services and take away the retirement benefits of seniors.” “They give tax breaks to billionaires and they are racists, sexists and homophobes, as well.”

“The other side wants to raise taxes, weaken the military, kowtow to unions, make government bigger and reward special interests groups, etc., etc.”

Perhaps the rancor is not new, yet our tone signals that there is a great divide. It is even more distressing when Christian leaders adopt the same strategies. Sound Biblical arguments do not have the influence they once had. Like certain politicians, some have resorted to demonizing the other guy. In their zeal, PTR teachers have stopped just short of claiming the PWR is heretical.

We hear or read from prominent PTR advocates that the Pre-Wrath teaching is just plain false. Zola Levitt (1938-2006), the noted Messianic Christian, was an example of those making that type of charge:

“The Pre-wrath Rapture theory states that the Church will be raptured sometime before the end of the Great Tribulation. It is built on a faulty interpretation of Scripture.”

(From Zola Levitt, What do you think of the Pre-wrath Rapture?)

Cite one assertion of the PWR that is untrue or unsupported by Scripture. I have not seen it. What is faulty is Mr. Levitt’s portrayal. Nowhere in any primary Pre-wrath material is the rapture described as before the end of the Great Tribulation. This shows Mr. Levitt’s misunderstanding. In fact, what is clearly taught in PWR literature is that the rapture abruptly cuts off the time of great distress or the great tribulation (cf. Matthew 24:21-22, Revelation 7:14).

June 12, 2013 From Chapter #7

When we want to know what prophecy in the Word of God means, we seek answers from our most reliable sources. Typically, we tune into our pastor, read a book by a popular author, watch our favorite TV evangelist or do an internet search. But how did the experts we consulted arrive at their opinion?

This is not to say our sources are bad people who are knowingly telling a lie. They are probably sharing what they sincerely believe is the truth. Why do our sources think they are passing on truth? They believe it, first, because the intelligence they receive is believable. There are enough Scriptures cited to satisfy them the report is accurate. They know their sources would not lie. When they repeat the information, they are sold on it themselves. They believe it, so we believe it!

We think everyone is on our side but that is not so. Our credible friend may be using a source who may be telling the truth or perhaps it is a clever lie. Cunningly, we get enough good, factual material on some issues so that we will continue to trust our sources. Reliable men are saying the same thing so it must be true. We check on our source every once in awhile by consulting with our Bible. It seems to check out so we are good.

When a circumstance arises where it is crucial to have information that will save us, what are we going to receive then? Our sources may be as badly fooled as we were. The rapture was supposed to come and take us up. Someone did not tell the truth.

June 17, 2013 From Chapter #8

It is vital we know that Scripture consistently teaches that the Day of the Lord and Christ’s coming (“parousia”) happen simultaneously. We have one coming but with a triple purpose. When Jesus returns, he will end Satan’s persecution, rescue (rapture) the righteous. Then, once his faithful sheep are safely in the fold, he will recompense (enact vengeance upon) the wicked (cf. Isaiah 40:9-10, 61:1-2, et. al.).

An objective reading of Malachi 4 confirms this.

Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the LORD Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings….”

Malachi 4:1-2a

There is absolutely no support for “two 2nd comings,” unless we read a private interpretation into Scripture. (That is what, in fact, Todd Strandberg did.) The Bereans would have thrown Mr. Strandberg’s teaching out for lack of evidence (i.e. no Biblical confirmation). Two comings has been fabricated to hide a dangerous hole in the PTR ship and to keep trusting passengers onboard as cover. Repeated enough times, fools will believe the folly of other fools.

June 30, 2013 From Chapter #9

Storm warning

Days in advance, the weather service reported a storm of major proportions forming in the south and headed toward the coast. If the models were right, and it stayed on its projected path, millions would feel the brunt force of a monster hurricane.

Stores sold out of basic goods. Windows were boarded. Towns near the shore were evacuated. People had to leave their homes behind. That was the purpose of the advance signs. How foolish to ignore the warnings and act as if the killer storm would have no personal affect.

PTR would have you and I believe we can disregard the warnings without personal affect. They say to ignore Jesus’ signs. The coming storm of the ages will not matter to us because God will take his church up in the rapture just before it hits. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is not a shred of practical or Biblical evidence to support that assertion. Failing to start building our ark when God announces the storm is coming will result in heavy casualties.

July 28, 2013 From Chapter #10

There is hope for men and women from every nation, tribe, people and language. The God of Heaven does not wrap himself in the Stars and Stripes or Union Jack. The Lord will deal justly with all mankind. By turning from our rebellion, we may receive mercy and not the sword.

“Even now,” declares the LORD,

“return to me with all your heart,

with fasting and weeping and mourning.”

Rend your heart

and not your garments.

Return to the LORD your God,

for he is gracious and compassionate,

slow to anger and abounding in love,

and he relents from sending calamity.

Who knows but that he may turn and have pity

and leave behind a blessing— …

Joel 2:12-14a

Blessed are those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

Matthew 5:4

In Jonah 3, we read that the reluctant prophet of God finally arrived in Nineveh. He had to be spewed up by a whale but eventually Jonah declared God’s plan to destroy the city because it was filled with great wickedness. There was no argument about the rightness of God’s judgment. All Nineveh knew they had stirred the Lord’s anger. They did not argue or make any claim to righteousness. They knew they were undone. It was judgment time; they were guilty before God.  

Filled with fear over God’s decree of disaster, the Ninevites repented, put on sackcloth and covered themselves with ashes. They wept and mourned over their condition. God heard their pleas for mercy. Judgment on Nineveh was postponed (cf. 2nd Peter 3:9).

If the Lord relented and turned his righteous anger from the repentant Ninevites, will he not spare those who grieve and mourn in Zion over its sin (cf. Ezekiel 9:1-6)?

Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.

Luke 6:21b

We must understand the purposes of God to make sense of this. It is absolutely counter to the teaching and preaching we hear from PTR pulpits: The Spirit must purify that which has been defiled. The land must be cleansed of bloodguilt by the sword. The chaff and the kernel must be separated before the wheat is gathered into God’s storehouse.

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