|Posted on August 15, 2014 at 4:30 PM||comments (0)|
THEORIES ABOUT THE “END TIMES”
I. I noticed a young woman in the grocery store, pushing a shopping cart. She was loading it down with huge sacks of rice. I chuckled and said to her, “You are going to be eating lots of rice, I see!” She replied, “It’s for my husband. He’s not a Christian and he will need it after the rapture.” She and the children would be raptured soon, and her husband would be alone during the “great tribulation”!
1. Many “best seller” works of fiction have been written about the “rapture,” with heart wrenching situations about those who are suddenly “left behind,” and many people accept these fictional works almost on a par with Holy Scripture.
2. People look at me in amazement when I reply that this is only fiction, replying that even if these works were only fiction, surely they do good by causing people to think about their lost condition! But surely the truth, not fiction, is what convicts the sinner!
II. Regarding the “End Times,” Jesus taught that the “kingdom” would come during the very generation of those to whom He was speaking(Matthew 16:28}, that the kingdom would not be like those of the world (John 18:33-37), and that no one could know when the “end of the world” would come (Matthew 24:39).
III. But people continue to teach that:
1. The kingdom is yet to come, and very soon!
2. The kingdom will last 1,000 years.
3. Before the kingdom comes the “Antichrist” will come.
4. The “Antichrist” will be a human in the service of Satan.
5. There are many obvious “signs” telling us that the “end” is near.
6. The faithful will be “raptured” (suddenly snatched up into heaven) to be with Christ at the beginning of a final “seven year” period. During these seven years, there will be a great war called Armageddon, at the end of which Christ will appear to set up His kingdom, in Jerusalem, and from there He will rule over the nations for a thousand years.
DISCUSSION – What does the Bible say?
I. The Millennium
1. The only mention of a “thousand year reign” is in a symbolic setting (Rev. 20:4-5).
2. It is strange that the Apostles never included this detail in any of their preaching.
3. Instead, they often speak of the kingdom as being present in their time, and of Christians as being citizens of the kingdom (Col. 1:13; Rev. 1:6).
4. Paul says that when Jesus comes again the resurrection will occur and the resurrected Christians will “meet Him in the air” and be with Him there forever (I Thess. 4:13-18}.
5. The Hebrews writer says that the Christian’s “home” and “country” is a “heavenly” one (Heb. 11:13-16).
6. Although, from time to time across the centuries, a few people have advocated a “thousand year reign,” such a teaching has never held sway for the great majority.
II. The Rapture
1. The idea of a “secret rapture” is modern, dating only from 1830. This teaching is based upon the interpretation of a “vision” recounted and interpreted by Miss Margaret Macdonald, a member of the Catholic Apostolic Church. The teaching was propagated in the British Isles by a minister named J. N. Darby. Darby founded “The Church of The Brethren,” or “The Plymouth Brethren.” Darby is also known for his translation of the Bible. C. I. Scofield, an American preacher who accepted Darby’s teaching on the subject, is largely responsible for having propagated it on this continent. The Scofield Reference Bible, with its copious notes, promotes the premillennial interpretation of Old Testament prophecies, and of the Rapture. Without these two men, the Rapture theory would not be known today.
2. The Bible teaches that the living saints will be immediately transformed at the appearance of Christ in the sky, but that their ascension to meet Christ will not occur until “the dead in Christ” rise first (I Thess. 4:15-18], then they will all go up together into the air to meet Christ.
3. Matthew 24:40-41 does not teach the Rapture Theory. It refers, no doubt, to the same change and ascension mentioned by Paul in I Thess. 4:15-18. It does not refer to the so-called “secret rapture” taught by many today, in which the driver of a car may suddenly disappear, or where all of the young children of the earth will suddenly disappear. This was the thinking of the young woman I encountered in the grocery store.
III. The “Antichrist”
1. Many evangelicals believe the Premillennial Theory, which teaches
(a) That circumstances on earth will become progressively worse, with wars, earthquakes, etc.
(b) That there will be a period of seven years before the End, basing this on Daniel 9:27.
(c) That the “Antichrist” will appear at that time and will restore the Jewish temple and animal sacrifices, introducing a period called “the great tribulation.” Premillennialists believe that the “Antichrist” is a “European Man” who will probably be a high official in the United Nations, and who will be the embodiment of Satan himself.
(d) That true believers will be “raptured” (snatched suddenly up to Heaven) so as to escape the “great tribulation” and the “Battle of Armageddon.”
(e) That Christ will appear at the end of the seven years to destroy the “Antichrist” and judge the world.
2. The Bible teaches, however, that the “Antichrist” was already present in the first century (I John 2:18-22).
3. Paul’s comments in 2 Thess. 2:3-10 concerned something that he had already explained to the Christians in Thessalonica, which was already beginning in their time. Very likely, the “man of lawlessness” (v. 3) was the coming of Nero to the throne in Rome (A.D. 54-68}.
4. Many “antichrists” had appeared, and some of them had even claimed to be Christians (I John 2:19).
5. The “antichrist” denied that Christ came in a fleshly body (I John 4:2-3;2 John 1:7), and denied that the Christ was resurrected from the dead.
6. Only John uses the term “antichrist.” The word “antichrist” is never used in the book of Revelation. Early Christian writers such as Irenaeus of Lyons, in the second century, identified these persons as Gnostics, adherents of a mystery religion which had its origins in Persia.
1. Gnostics taught that the God of the Old Testament was evil.
2. Gnostics taught that Jesus was not the Christ, but that He was only a man, not God. They taught that “Christ” came on Jesus at His baptism, but left Him before He died on the cross.
3. Gnostics taught that matter was evil and that only “spirit” was good.
4. Gnostics taught that the Christ did not die (only Jesus died).
5. Gnostics, therefore, taught that Christ did not rise from the dead.
6. Gnostics denied the existence of “sin” or “guilt,” and practiced freely what the Gospel condemns as immorality (Jude 1:10; 2 Peter 2:10-14).
1. The word “Armageddon” occurs only once in the Bible (Rev. 16:16).
2. It refers most likely to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman legions in A.D. 70 (Rev. 11:1-2; Luke 19:43-44; Luke 21:20-24).
3. Zechariah refers to the destruction of Jerusalem using language that John later uses in the Revelation (Zech. 14:2).
4. “Armageddon” could not refer to any battle taking place at the end of the world, because when Jesus comes again “on the last day” the resurrection will occur and the earth and all its works will be burned up (2 Peter 3:10-13).
CONCLUSION: “Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation” (2 Peter 3:14-15).