Sunday, December 19, 2010

Church age overlap?

Was there an overlapping of the Church Age and the Old Testament economy? Discussions along this line arise when the idea is put forward by “some” dispies that during the 7 year Tribulation; Grace will give way to Law again. In other words, this Age of Grace is an “interruption” in God’s plan for Israel. When that plan resumes, the Church won’t be there.

I’m eminently unqualified to make any emphatic or really informed comments regarding the Dispensation of Daniel’s 70th week and there seems to be debate among dispies regarding this anyway. However, I do think there are clues in Revelation that suggest that something has changed.

As an example, angels seal the 144, 000 – it's not performed by the Holy Spirit. The cry of the 5th seal martyrs for vengeance seems to be at odds with what we’d expect from “gracious” Church saints. One of the arguments posited for the Church going through the Tribulation is that it needs to be “refined”…

“When Jesus returns, He is coming back for a Bride “without spot or wrinkle” (Eph. 5:27). Can we truly say that if He returned today, the entire body of believers could be described as “without spot”? The seals are a time of refinement by fire so that the Bride may be presented blameless before Him. While the Church may be positionally righteous before God, this is a far cry from being without spot.”

Apart from the theological problems inherent within that statement - in light of Rev 6:10 we might ask, does refinement produce vengeful saints? And pity about the vast majority who miss out on that “refining” process by dying before the Tribulation!

In an attempt to debunk that Dispensational argument for the Church being absent, some argue that there was an overlap when the Church was birthed and the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. Following on from that, then the same can be said that during the 7 year Tribulation we can have an overlap where the Church is present as God judges Israel.

“…it would be impossible to defend the position that a Jewish man, living in Jerusalem, who was deemed righteous and acceptable before God under the Old Testament economy the day before Christ died, was, the day after Christ’s death, unrighteous and rejected.” Marvin Rosenthal

This isn’t a valid objection and it misses the point entirely. It’s also a straw man argument because it puts words into the Dispensational mouth. The hypothetical man’s salvation is speculation and a matter between himself and God. What is beyond doubt, however, is that there was no more need for the Old Testament economy’s rules relating to that salvation.

The destruction of the Temple in 70 AD had nothing to do with the cessation of the “Old Testament economy”. Once Christ died for our sins, any Temple sacrifice became obsolete. There is no overlap. A Jew offering a sacrifice in the Temple - after Christ’s work on the cross - was simply wasting his time. That sacrifice ceased to be officially acknowledged.

It’s true that God is currently working with Israel. He has brought a certain number of Israelites back into the land and has set up His “chess pieces” for the Final Week. However, it is called Daniel’s 70th week and that means Israel.

While some argue that “your people” in Dan 9:24 includes the Church and that the Tribulation saints are the Church, some of these also believe in a rapture that occurs during the 70th week where Israel gets left behind. A consistent reading of Dan 7:25 and Rev 13:5-7 would seem to be a problem for that view. There are other complications with blurring distinctions between Israel and the Church and the issues are more complex than some may realize.

But if there are seventy weeks allotted to Israel and there is an overlap where God works simultaneously with the Church and Israel then what makes the 70th week what it is? Again, if God is now working with the Church but also with Israel then what defines the 70th week and how is it different to the status quo?

I suspect that it’s not a matter of whether God can deal with Israel and the Church simultaneously during Daniel’s 70th week. It’s more a matter of the purpose for the Tribulation. One of those purposes is to put Israel through a process where the nation will be redeemed.

That has nothing to do with the Church.

While not intending to be dogmatic, I believe the Dispensational view is the most consistent in dealing with these issues.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Mat 24:36

But of that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only. (Mat 24:36 ASV)

There’s a short video on the internet that draws attention to this verse. It gets pretribbers to acknowledge that this speaks of the rapture then it tells them that they’ve just admitted that the rapture is found in Matthew. Indeed, some pretribbers DO think the rapture is in Matthew but that’s another story.

As for verse 36, reading on from there it’s a long stretch to imagine that “that day” occurs immediately after the “great tribulation”.

37 And as were the days of Noah, so shall be the coming of the Son of man. 38 For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, 39 and they knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall be the coming of the Son of man. (Mat 24:37-39 ASV)

21 for then shall be great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days had been shortened, no flesh would have been saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. (Mat 24:21-22 ASV)

Note the extent of Matt 24:21-22 is global, not just Church persecution.

3 And when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, Come. 4 And another horse came forth, a red horse: and to him that sat thereon it was given to take peace from the earth, and that they should slay one another: and there was given unto him a great sword. 5 And when he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, Come. And I saw, and behold, a black horse; and he that sat thereon had a balance in his hand. 6 And I heard as it were a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, A measure of wheat for a shilling, and three measures of barley for a shilling; and the oil and the wine hurt thou not. 7 And when he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, Come. 8 And I saw, and behold, a pale horse: and he that sat upon him, his name was Death; and Hades followed with him. And there was given unto them authority over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with famine, and with death, and by the wild beasts of the earth. (Rev 6:3-8 ASV)

3 And I will give unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. 4 These are the two olive trees and the two candlesticks, standing before the Lord of the earth. 5 And if any man desireth to hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth and devoureth their enemies; and if any man shall desire to hurt them, in this manner must he be killed. 6 These have the power to shut the heaven, that it rain not during the days of their prophecy: and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth with every plague, as often as they shall desire. (Rev 11:3-6 ASV)

All this presumably occurs immediately before the rapture when they are saying “peace and safety” and “drinking, marrying and giving in marriage”.

You get the picture.

2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 When they are saying, Peace and safety, then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall in no wise escape. (1Th 5:2-3 ASV)

Here’s what R L Thomas has to say about Matt 24:36. Begin at the bottom of page 3:


One more thing; Pretribbers are often taken to task for believing a “secret rapture” that, conveniently, is so secret it isn’t found in any verse. Interestingly, neither is the mid-trib, pre-wrath or post-trib rapture found in any verse…and they’re not even meant to be a secret. Strange that.


After posting this I came across a blog that asked the question “Why do PreTribbers always take Matthew 24:36 out of context?” (
I could ask a number of questions about his rapture view as well.) The writer answers himself by saying they have to. Inserted among the objections was this gem:

“He (Jesus) continues that it will take the world at large by surprise just like the flood took everyone by surprise in the days of Noah. Except of course, Noah was not taken by surprise. This tells us that Jesus was teaching that His disciples would not be taken by surprise at His coming. So how could anyone reading this passage in its proper context come away with the idea that the second coming of Jesus as described in the Olivet Discourse could occur at any moment? That’s why the verse is taken out of context. The PreTribber will NEVER give the entire background when quoting that verse since it will undermine his unbiblical definition of imminency.”

Read the verses again. It couldn’t be plainer.

36 "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.

That’s no one. Arguing that Noah knew is irrelevant to Matthew’s verses and not what Jesus plainly states.

37 "For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. 38 "For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be."

The context is surprise and - guess what? No one will know.

Don't the post-trib and pre-wrath folk argue that the wrath at Rev 6:17 is still future? If that's the case then "the world at large" isn't taken by surprise either. That kind of distorts Matt 24:36 just a tad, doesn't it?

Claiming that "Jesus was teaching that His disciples would not be taken by surprise at His coming" is blatantly reading something into the text that isn't there. I believe there's another word for that...

Non-pretribbers have to argue this way because imminency undermines their view ;-)

Will Believers Know the Day?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Second Coming of Christ

Clarence Larkin's classic book "The Second Coming of Christ" is now online and can be read HERE

"Dispensational Truth" is also available and can be read HERE

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Satanic Deception?

One of the things I find annoying about the rapture debate is that people commonly accuse Darby of deriving his idea from Margaret MacDonald’s vision, yet never supply evidence. As a result they often call pretribulationism a “satanic deception”.

John Darby says he got the concept from studying Scripture. If he really got it from MacDonald’s vision then he’s a liar. However, if Darby is correct then his detractors are encouraging lies and bearing false witness. It’s as simple as that.

Quote: Tregelles, was a Greek scholar, also of the Plymouth Brethren, who adamantly opposed John Darby's new theology. Apparently, there was a local charismatic church where there was some sort of utterance concerning a secret rapture of the church. John Darby took it and popularized it, but not without stirring quite a controversy.

The above quote is a statement taken from someone who is arguing for a different rapture view. He evidently felt it necessary to indirectly promote the idea of a Darby/MacDonald connection to bolster his argument. I can guess where he got his information from but it’s a pity he didn’t bother doing his own research because Margaret’s vision clearly wasn’t about a pretribulational rapture.

According to Margaret:

Now will THE WICKED be revealed, with all power and signs and lying wonders, so that if it
were possible the very elect will be deceived - This is the fiery trial which is to try us.

The trial of the Church is from Antichrist. It is by being filled with the Spirit that we shall be kept.

What many people don’t realize is that Tregelles had personal issues with Darby revolving around Tregelle’s cousin, Newton. Dr Paul Wilkinson goes into the details in his book.

Hand in hand with the Darby canard goes the charge of newness. To counter pretribulationism, several early Church fathers are usually cited to demonstrate that they were posttribulational. This is interesting because the person I quoted above believes in a system that was discovered and became popularized in the nineties and it, also, created a controversy. It adds new facets to that posttribulationism and shortens it.

So when he picks an 1830 date for pre-trib I can point to a late 20th century date for his system, and via a specific person and book. Before that time and that book, that view was virtually unknown. Defenses for that system have sometimes incorporated the excuse that it was still under refinement. Presumably the early Church fathers don’t help in that area.

The newness issue is specifically related to the idea that the Church will avoid the tribulation and/or the wrath of God. James Stitzinger shows that the early Church fathers had a less than sophisticated eschatology. In fact an examination of a number of beliefs regarding the relationship between the Church and Israel (Justin Martyr etc) and even subjects like baptism preparation reveals that the Church had already been departing from apostolic tenets.

Tied in with the erroneous idea of satanic deception is the claim that pretribbers believe out of fear and are woefully unprepared for the Tribulation. I agree that believing in pretribulationism out of fear is silly. It should be an academic issue. But I think it’s telling that preterists and non-Premillennialists aren’t targeted. Aren’t they also unprepared?

I’ve been through all this before in previous posts. How does one prepare for the Tribulation? If you think you can you’re probably kidding yourself. Our focus and faith should be in Christ’s ability to see us through, not our own power. In that respect, sincere pretribbers are at no disadvantage.

Years ago I participated in a group event where we did a static line jump from a light aircraft. One of the organizers was an A type fearless personality who breezed through her training. It was thoroughly drilled into us that once we were able to make visual contact with the grounds-man, we had to keep our eyes on him and follow his directions. Despite all that preparation and confidence she panicked at the last moment, failed to heed instructions and dropped too quickly. Fortunately she only sustained fractures in her foot.

How do you prepare for Tribulation?

Saturday, November 6, 2010


A great article by Richard Mayhue:

This article raises four key questions: (1) What does “rapture” mean?; (2) Will there be an eschatological “rapture”?; (3) Will the “rapture” be partial or full?; and (4) Will the “rapture” be pre, mid, or post in a time relationship to Daniel’s seventieth week? In answering the fourth question concerning the time of the rapture, seven major lines of reasoning produce the conclusion that a pretribulational rapture best fits the biblical evidence and raises the fewest difficulties. By way of conclusion, the article answers thirteen of the toughest objections to pretribulationism...continue reading

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Response To Some Questions About Israel and the Church

Paul Henebury responds to some thoughtful questions regarding the relationship between the Church and Israel. Read the questions and comments at the end as well.

I have lately had the pleasure of doing some theological fencing with a good Christian man named Andrew Suttles. Andrew has raised a number of pertinent questions about Dispensational interpretations of Israel and the Church which I would like to address in this (and another post).

Once again I want to state that I think “Dispensationalist” is a lousy and inaccurate name for this type of theology. Firstly because dispensations are largely theologically mute. Secondly, because the real crux of the matter are the Biblical Covenants!

I hope this response will be of help in clarifying my understanding of this issue. We shall begin with Paul’s use of “Israel” and “Jacob” in Romans 9-11 and go from there. This is not meant to be comprehensive, but it is quite detailed and should suit its purpose...
keep reading

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The ENPI theory

Recently, the Fulfilled Prophecy website moved away from the ENPI theory.

Kudos to them for taking an objective stance! However, unlike FP some haven’t let it go and are reviewing their understanding of the Bible in innovative ways in an effort to keep the ENP viable.

Changing how we understand Scripture for the sake of the ENP is like the tail wagging the dog. Midst means middle – the middle of the week has come and gone. Even if we take the 4th year of the seven as being the midst, none of the dynamics of the seals of Revelation are apparent. Theorizing that the seven-year covenant is different to Daniel’s 70th week is another attempt to keep the theory alive that has no biblical justification. In fact the ENP has failed to meet prophetic expectations.

I’ve also seen a few statements regarding pretribulationists made by these people. One is that pretribbers risk falling prey to the Mark of the beast because they will suddenly find themselves at the Abomination of Desolation period and won’t recognize the fact. Thus they may take the Mark of the Beast unawares.

Let me see now, there’s something about the subject of worshiping and a certain Mark somewhere…Rev 4:10; 9:20; 11:1; 22:8-9. And this looks fairly important…Rev 13:8-12.

Pretribbers have also been accused of not watching because they expect to be raptured away. I believe the ENP theory has already done the pre-trib prophetic circles. Everyone is watching Europe and the Middle East and just about everyone interested in End Times Prophecy knows about JS. It’s not exactly a secret.

Another one is that fear drives belief in a pre-trib rapture and pretribbers will fail to deal with the tribulation when it occurs because they are unprepared. Now that makes a whole lot of sense!

Possibly one of the most bizarre allegations I’ve read is that Tim LaHaye hijacked Marv Rosenthal’s rapture view using the Left Behind series. Apparently this was aided by the creation of the Pre-Trib Research Center. I suppose there couldn’t be any other explanation.

Partial quote:

“They also successfully stopped the spread of the pre wrath position. It also placed prophecy in the entertainment playground sector of religion. In your typical Christian Church Library prophetic FICTION has replaced the scholarly tomes of previous generations. Prophecy study was successfully dumbed (sic) down.”

First of all people who denigrate pretribulationism generally go after either Tim LaHaye or Hal Lindsey. This causes me to wonder if that is the extent of their research into pre-trib. Griping about LB fiction isn’t exactly an academic exercise. Secondly, “scholarly tomes of previous generations” would have to exclude the new pre-wrath view.

I don’t presume to judge Tim LaHaye’s motivations. The Research Center was inaugurated to defend both pretribulationism and premillennialism. Long before I was interested in the rapture topic, my passion was studying the debate between preterists and premillennialists. Interestingly, guys like preterist Gary Demar opined that the Research Center was set up to counter preterism.

Here’s a clue – yes it was. And the problem is…? There’s a Post-Trib Research Center, several preterist organizations and even Prewrath Rapture Dot Com - to name only one among many pre-wrath sites! There are even some well-regarded pre-wrath novels out there with probably more to come. And didn’t Van Kampen pen one as well?

Some time ago prewrather Ryan Habbena wrote a book called “The parable of the Fig Tree”. His association with pastor Bob Dewaay and pastor Eric Douma led to conversations about rapture timing. Douma leaned somewhat towards pre-wrath and Dewaay was a rapture timing agnostic.

Dewaay and Douma took up the challenge and researched. The result of that study is presented HERE and via a previous post. The Left Behind series was not on their list of theological notes and references.

There are a number of possible dynamics as to why pre-wrath hasn’t kicked off as well as some hoped. I’ve personally noticed a trend towards posttribulationism. My experience since studying this subject is that pretribulationism is commonly derided. To blame LaHaye’s fiction and pre-trib sabotage is myopic.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

More on Steve Wohlberg's "End Time Delusions"

Some time ago I wrote about Adventist Steve Wohlberg's book "End Time Delusions". Mr Wohlberg has dedicated a fair amount of resources attacking the "futurist/premillennial" view and in particular, dispensationalism and pretribulationalism. His book can still be found circulating in Christian book shops.

The Berean Call makes a few succinct comments on some of the book's problems HERE

Friday, September 3, 2010

Worst time ever...

In This Study, Dr Alan Cole discusses the pre-wrath (and post-trib) view of the day of the Lord in Joel 2&3. One point of interest to me is the evaluation of Dr Charles Cooper’s challenge to Renald Showers’ view on the proof of the overlapping between the great tribulation and the day of the Lord based on Joel 2:1.

Dr Showers contends that the phrase “there has never been anything like it” refers to the day of the Lord. He then uses other references such as Matt 24:21 to argue that, because there can’t be two uniquely worst days in history, the two periods must be referring to the same timeframe or at least overlap.

Dr Cooper counters that the phrase “there has never been anything like it” refers to the people and not to the day of the Lord.

He makes a valid point.

But what he doesn’t do is refute Dr Showers’ over-all contention. Here’s the problem as I see it – Matt 24:21 asserts that the Great Tribulation is the worst time in history and that no other time will be as harsh:

…for at that time there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will be. (Mat 24:21 NASB)

That time will be so bad that:

And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short. (Mat 24:22 NASB)

Both pre-wrath and post-trib proponents divide the great tribulation and the day of the Lord into two periods which don’t overlap. The obvious problem then is that any period following the great tribulation cannot be as severe.

It is suggested that Matt 24 is speaking of Satan’s wrath. By implication, then, these are two different subjects which consequently allows for two unparalleled periods. But is that really the case or is it circular reasoning?

No distinction is ever made between the great tribulation and God’s wrath nor is the tribulation ever scripturally restricted to Satan’s persecution – it is an assumption used to support an expectation. Pretribbers hold that Satan’s wrath, and various other calamities are extensions of God’s wrath and judgments (Ezekiel 14:21; Revelation 6:8). Furthermore, the phrase “since the beginning of the world” incorporates Noah’s flood.

The fact that the GT is shortened - otherwise no life would be saved - indicates an all-inclusive global condition which also embraces unbelievers. Christ states that all lives would be lost if there was no intervention to shorten that period. The question then is - if the day of the Lord occurs after those days have been shortened then what happens to life on earth?

The Great Tribulation Period is cut short for the sake of the elect (the Church).

The reason given by the Lord for this shortening cannot be logically used in reference to the church’s rapture and/or resurrection. If every last Christian was martyred they’d still be raised up. Nor can it be used to argue for a GT lasting less than the consistently prophesied three-and-a-half years.

We know the Antichrist has been given authority to act for 42 months (Rev 13:5); that he gathers the armies at Rev 16 and martyred saints are raised after the beast has been bound (Rev 20:4). We also know that the Antichrist is destroyed (not hand cuffed) at Christ’s coming (2 Thess 2:8; Rev 19:20).

At the time the Antichrist has gathered the armies he is still within his 42 months because he is using his authority to accomplish that at the 6th bowl. His time expires at Rev 19 which is post trumpets and bowls. Hence the trumpets and bowls are contained within the GT period.

Therefore, while Dr Showers’ argument in the Joel 2 case may be questioned, his over-all premise is on solid foundations.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Persistent efforts to explain “the Israel of God” in Gal 6:16 as a reference to the church defy overwhelming grammatical, exegetical, and theological evidence that the expression refers to ethnic Israel. Among contemporary interpreters, three views of the phrase’s meaning emerge: (1) “The Israel of God” is the church; (2) “The Israel of God” is the remnant of Israelites in the church; and (3) “The Israel of God” is the future redeemed nation. View 1 suffers from the grammatical and syntactical weakness of endorsing the meaning of the Greek particle kai as “namely,” a rare usage of that word. Exegetically, View 1 is also weak in choosing to define “Israel” as the church, a usage that appears nowhere else in biblical literature. View 1 also is lacking theologically because the name “Israel” is not applied to the church at any time in history until A.D. 160. Views 2 and 3 coincide grammatically and syntactically, exegetically, and theologically in positive support for those views by taking kai in its frequent continuative or copulative sense and by understanding “Israel” as a reference to ethnic Israel. View 3 shows its exegetical superiority to View 2 through the six points of Peter Richardson, which develop the ethnic nature of “Israel,” an d by recalling Paul’s eschatological outlook for ethnic Israel in Rom 11:26. Theologically, View 3 jibes with Paul’s teaching about two kinds of Israelites, the believing ones and the unbelieving ones. Those who persist in advocating View 1 present a classic case in tendentious exegesis...keep reading

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mike Vlatch has some new thought-provoking articles on his website

Hebrews and Eschatological Systems by Brian Colmery (pdf) Does Hebrews really support a non-premillennial eschatology?

The Kingdom Program in Matthew's Gospel by Michael J. Vlach (pdf)

The Church: A Search for Definition by Erik Swanson (pdf). A comparison of Covenant and Dispensational Views of the Church

Nations in the Eternal State by Andrew Kim (pdf) See how God's plan for Eternity includes literal nations

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Answers to the 95 Theses against Dispensationalism

The folks at got together at one stage and formulated 95 Theses Against Dispensationalism. Among the scholars were, allegedly, some ex-Dispensationalists.

Here's one reason they give for going through the exercise:

Therefore, because we believe that dispensationalism has at least crippled the Church in her duty of proclaiming the gospel and discipling the nations, and out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed in a series of videos written and produced by under the title The Late Great Planet Church. And as iron sharpens iron we request that every Christian, congregation, and denomination discuss and debate these issues. By the grace of our great Sovereign let us engage in this debate with an open mind and an open Bible. Like the Bereans nearly two thousand years ago, let us “search the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things are so.”

There have been a number of great responses by dispies to the 95 Theses. The problem is that they are scattered here and there in various scholarly publications.

However, I'm most impressed with Dr Paul Henebury's contra-efforts and have been following them since he began to address them. He has now completed the work and made it readily available on his site in an organized format.

You can read it HERE.

Most enlightening are some of the readers' challenges to Paul's observations and how he deftly deals with them.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

2 Thessalonians 2:1-8

Here's a commentary on 2 Thess by Eric Douma. He responds to the pre-Wrath interpretation of Paul's Epistle and points out some difficulties with that system.

He also demonstrates why, despite so many claims and assertions that 2 Thess is incompatible with pre-Trib, the pretribulational model is still viable and even likely.

I like the humble manner in which he has approached this critique and agree with his following comment:

"I don’t hold to my own pre-tribulation position with absolute certainty. If certitude must be asserted, then I will claim with certainty that Antichrist cannot both be destroyed at the parousia (2 Thessalonians 2:8) and continue to reign for 3 and ½ years (Revelation 13:5) as pre-wrath would have to maintain without engaging in a form of equivocation."

2 Thessalonians 2:1-8: Does it Support a Pre-wrath View?

More on this subject can be found at Twin City Fellowship

Begin at Class 1- Introduction to Eschatology

Note: In the first audio, Pastor Douma has some interesting comments on the pre-Wrath position on the parousia and the single versus multi-stage Second Advent.

Highly recommended!

Friday, May 28, 2010

God’s wrath at the 5th seal

A while ago I came across an opinion at a rapture forum which I’ve heard a few times. One of the posters noted that God’s wrath couldn’t possibly occur during the opening of the seals because the 5th seal causes the martyrdom of the saints. Since the church is argued by many to be exempt from God’s wrath then it cannot occur at that point.

I’ve covered this in an earlier post. The opening of the 5th seal doesn’t cause the martyrdoms. What John saw had already occurred at the opening – the verb is in the past tense. Interestingly, the first four seals had riders on horses that parallel the chariots of Zechariah, but the 5th seal has no rider.

You could try to make the case that while the saints may have already been martyred at the 5th seal, the opening of the previous seals eventually contributed to it. Following on from that argument, you might then submit that, therefore, all the previous seals couldn’t be God’s direct or indirect wrath.

However, the same case can be used for the trumpet and bowl judgments. Eventually, whether you’re mid-trib, pre-wrath or post-trib you’ll still expect that someone must be saved in their physical bodies to enter and populate the Millennium. This must occur post-rapture and during God’s wrath. The chances are that some saved people will also die during God’s wrath whether by misadventure or martyrdom.

If you argue that there is no distinction between Tribulation saints and God’s church then those who are saved after the rapture are part of the church. Therefore part of the church will experience God’s wrath. That being the case, you have exactly the same quandary that you think applies to the pretribulational model.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Exploding the Replacing Israel Deception

See also this article.

That was a cheeky heading. I used that title because I’m drawing attention to Steve Wohlberg’s Replacement Theology inspired book, “Exploding the Israel Deception”. A blurb on his website states:
Exploding the Israel Deception is like dropping an atomic bomb upon the prophetic ideas of the majority of the Christian world. Steve Wohlberg proves that the book of Revelation swirls around "the Israel of God" (Gal. 6:16), not "Israel after the flesh" (1 Cor. 10:18).
If you’ve read the book “End Time Delusions” which covers a good portion of “Exploding the Israel Deception” don’t bother buying the latter. Just go to his website and read the supplementary articles on Israel. His arguments are pure rehashed Replacement Theology.

In End Time Delusions (p 15) we’re informed that, “…when it comes to what the majority thinks is going to happen during earth’s last days and what the Bible says will occur, the difference is seismic.”
There’s also a seismic difference between Wohlberg’s understanding of eschatology and a literal reading of the Bible.

Wohlberg adopts a flexible hermeneutic. Wherever it’s expedient for him to take a literal approach he will but where Scripture contradicts his eschatology, he opts for allegory. For example, Revelation chapter seven clearly tells us that the 144,000 are called from the twelve tribes of Israel, but within a few paragraphs he’s morphed them into the (Sabbath keeping) church. He “personally” feels that the 144,000 figure is symbolic. He reasons that it must be symbolic because he expects there will be more than 144,000 (SDA) church members at that time. Of course, if the 144,000 figure is symbolic then what about all the other numbers?

He also allegorizes the gathering of the armies at Armageddon in End Time Delusions. He reasons that the gathering isn’t centered in Har-Megiddo (Armageddon) despite it being plainly so in Rev 16 – to him it’s more of a global affair. There’s a reason for Wohlberg to think that way. It isn’t a biblical one but it’s a very good reason if you want your church to be the true Israel.

Unfortunately for him, the Old Testament prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Joel etc) prophesied that the nations would surround Israel and Jerusalem, and this is exactly what we read in Revelation.
A major problem for RT end time watchers is that what is occurring today is exactly what the Bible said would happen. The nations are all against Israel. Anyone keeping an objective eye on Middle East affairs and another on the Bible cannot fail to spot the connection to prophecy.

There isn’t a single biblical reference to God’s changing His program for Israel even though it was suspended after they rejected their Messiah. The “if” statements in Leviticus 26 are a warning of the consequences of disobedience - they are not an annulment of God’s promises to Israel.

Isaiah 46 tells us that God knows the end from the beginning. The atonement was first promised in Genesis and the OT sacrificial rituals foreshadow Christ’s work on the cross. Moreover, Israel’s rejection of the Messiah was prophesied in Isaiah 53. Jeremiah prophesied later than Isaiah, yet Jer 31 gives iron-clad promises for Israel’s restoration in the Messianic kingdom.

So the logical conclusion is; if Israel’s rejection was known beforehand then Jeremiah’s prophecy would be a wasted exercise, as would Ezekiel’s detailed measurements of the future Messianic Temple. The simple answer is that Israel will be restored as a non-allegorical approach to Scripture attests.

God hasn’t cast out Israel (Rom 11:1). The promises are irrevocable (Rom 11:29). The church has not become the Caretaker of Israel; it has become a PARTAKER of the blessings found in the olive tree (Rom 11:8; 11:17; 15:27). The context of Romans is that the Gentiles are sharing in the Abrahamic promise of salvation. There is nothing there about sharing land promises or a withdrawal of the material promises to a future believing Israel.

When Paul says there is neither Jew nor Gentile in Gal 3:28, he also tells us that that there is neither male nor female. Yet we still have different genders. Once again the context is salvation. He is not saying that membership in the church makes one a Jew. Gal 6:16 does not call the church Israel. The Israel of God refers to the Jewish believers. 1 Cor:10 does not refer to the Gentiles as Jews – Paul was referring to his forefathers, not to the Gentiles.

Some resources for exploding the Israel Replacement deception:

Judeo-Centric Eschatology

Future Israel Ministries

Israel and the Church

There Really Is A Difference

The Coming Apocalypse

ISRAELOLOGY: The Missing Link In Systematic Theology

Israelology is a seven hundred plus page doctrinal thesis that explores every conceivable verse that is used to argue for Replacement or Expansionist Theology.

Galatians, Dr. S. Lewis Johnson

See especially Gal 16

Romans Chapter 9--Israel's Past

Romans Chapter 10--Israel's Present

Romans Chapter 11--Israel's Future

The Use of the Term "Israel" in the N.T.

A Comparison and Contrast Between Israel and the Church

A Compilation of Bible Prophecies Demonstrating that Israel Has a Glorious Future in the Plan and Purpose of God

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

First Thessalonians 4 and the Rapture PART 2

With regard to the coming of the Lord Jesus, there is much emphasis upon the Greek words parousia, apokalupsis, and epiphaneia. As demonstrated in the first part of this article, those words do not catalog one single event; rather, these words are used throughout the New Testament to characterize both the rapture and the second coming. Since it is the biblical context that determines which coming is referenced, we will how show the context of 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 demonstrates that the comfort of this passage is the reunion of the deceased and living saints in Christ at the pretribulational rapture...Read more

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Parousia, Apokalypse, and Epiphany - One Event?

In regards to language and the argument against plural comings of the Lord, if I make multiple trips to another country, there will be descriptions of that event which will be similar for each visit. Within each coming, I may do different things and not all people may see me. It is the differences within each visit which are important and may highlight that I’ve made multiple trips. There are similarities and differences in Thess and Matt 24. This may be due to some omissions in describing a single occurrence (as in harmonizing the Gospels) or there really may be more than one event. As far as I’m concerned, only posttribulationists can legitimately claim to believe in a single Second-Advent.

Aricle by Dr Ron Bigalke.


As a futurist posttribulationist, Ladd wrote, “The parousia, the apokalypse, and the epiphany appear to be a single event. Any division of Christ’s coming into two parts is an unproven inference.” Ladd believed the words “parousia, the apokalypse, and the epiphany” refer to the same, single event, and therefore are not to be differentiated. Ladd is incorrect, however, in his assertion. The first word, parousia, is translated “coming” in 1 Thessalonians 4:15, and in that passage refers rather specifically to the rapture of the church. The same Greek word, parousia, is used in Matthew 24:27 and is accurately translated “coming” with regard to the Lord’s return to earth. Since the same Greek word is used in Matthew 24:27 and 1 Thessalonians 4:15, posttribulationists believe the texts refer to the same, single event. Pretribulationists disagree, and understand parousia to describe two separate events: the rapture and the second coming...First Thessalonians 4 and the Rapture PART 1

How often have you come across the name Manuel Lacunza? I bet more often than not it was in some spam comment on a blog...such as occurs here from time to time. Often the name Lacunza and MacPherson are linked. Well, here's an interesting post by Fred Butler on his blog Biblical Premillennialism:

The Manuel Lacunza Conspiracy

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The true Israel of God

“The doctrine of the remnant means that, within the Jewish nation as a whole, there are always some who believe and all those who believe among Israel comprise the Remnant of Israel. The remnant at any point of history may be large or small but there is never a time when it is non-existent. Only believers comprise the remnant, but not all believers are part of the remnant for the remnant is a Jewish remnant and is, therefore, comprised of Jewish believers. Furthermore, the remnant is always part of the nation as a whole and not detached from the nation as a separate entity. The remnant is distinct, but distinct within the nation.”

Arnold Fruchtenbaum: Israelology: The Missing Link in Systematic Theology

Romans chapters 9-11 have a significant place in the overall argument of the apostle Paul in the book of Romans. These chapters deal with the important issue of the apparent failure of God’s Word concerning His people Israel. This passage of Scripture is permeated with the doctrine of the “Remnant of Israel,” describing its current implications for believers as well as its eschatological implications for the nation of Israel. The present study will focus on a contextual and grammatical analysis of Romans 9-11 in order to provide a consistent interpretation of the different aspects of God’s plan for the salvation of Israel. Special attention will be focused on Romans 11:25-26 regarding the eventual salvation of Israel on a national scale...The Doctrine of the Remnant and the Salvation of Israel in Romans 9-11

The last verse of Romans chapter 10 points clearly to Israel’s rejection of God and rejection of God’s gospel. The Israelites have rejected God (Rom. 10:21). Thus, the logical question is this: HAS GOD REJECTED THEM? "Has God cast away His people?" The answer is a strong NO: God forbid! May such a thought never enter our minds! Perish the thought!...God has not cast away His people, the Israelites

Exposition of the New Covenant and its relationship to the church has traditionally proven to be a “sore spot” for dispensational interpreters. Because dispensationalism has all too frequently emphasized Scripture’s discontinuity at the expense of its continuity, dispensationalists have often had difficulty explaining the New Testament verses that seemingly apply Israel’s New Covenant to the church age. This paper will attempt to demonstrate how the New Covenant relates to the church in a way that maintains the continuity as well as the discontinuity between God’s programs for Israel and the church. In pursuance of this end, the following three areas will be explored: the Old Testament’s presentation of the New Covenant, what the New Testament presents regarding the New Covenant’s ratification and relation to the church, and inadequate views some interpreters have offered concerning how the New Covenant relates to the church...WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP OF THE CHURCH TO THE NEW COVENANT?

Theologians of all kinds focus on Christ as the key to understanding the biblical covenants. Two significant characteristics of the New Covenant promised to Israel are its newness in replacing the Mosaic Covenant and its everlasting and irrevocable nature. For Israel the New Covenant promises her transformation through providing her a new heart, her final and permanent forgiveness, and the consummation of her relationship with the Lord. Through Israel God will also bless the Gentiles because of this covenant. As mediator of the New Covenant, theMessiah will be identified with Israel as God’s Son, Servant, covenant, and Abraham’s seed. Though the Messiah is not yet identified nationally with Israel, He is already identified with the church. Terminology and provisions spelled out in the NT indicate that Christ inaugurated the New Covenant at His first advent. Though the New Covenant will not be fulfilled with Israel until her future repentance, the church through Spirit baptism into Christ participates in that covenant...THE NEW COVENANT

Covenant and reformed theologians believe that New Testament believers, including saved Gentiles, are the true Israel of God. Is it really Biblical to refer to Gentile believers as Israelites? Has God created a “new Israel” that is composed of believing Jews and Gentiles of this present age?....How is the Term Israel Used in the New Testament?

We’re not dispensationalists here....We believe that the church is essentially Israel. We believe that the answer to, “What about the Jews?” is, “Here we are.” We deny that the church is God’s “plan B.” We deny that we are living in God’s redemptive parenthesis...Is R. C. Sproul Jr. Really A Jew?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Dispensational Delusions

For those wanting a thorough understanding of Dispensationalism in an easy to understand format, I strongly recommend Fred DeRuvo's book:

Many think they know Dispensationalism and many believe it to be heretical, with some even viewing it as a cult.

What is the truth about normative Dispensationalism? This book addresses some of the charges against it, in question and short answer format.

Dispensationalism: Separating Fact from Fiction

It’s a shame when authors writing to particular markets make claims about opposing systems that are patently incorrect or badly researched. This is what Wohlberg does HERE. Among other blunders, he infers that Dispensationalism teaches two ways of salvation. That he’s capable of research is demonstrated by the fact that he cites John Walvoord on Zec 13:8 when it is convenient for him to do so. That he is selective in that research is attested to by his statements and the fact that he chooses to cite Wiki over Ryrie.


Generally speaking, Dispensationalism teaches that God has worked throughout fallen human history in distinct phases, epochs, or "dispensations." In Old Testament times, He worked through "Israel" and required Jews to keep "the law," whereas in these New Testament times He operates through "the Church" and proclaims "salvation by grace"—that is, until an event called "the Rapture" whisks "the Church" up to heaven….

First of all, the notion that God saved Old Testament Jews by law, but now saves New Testament Christians by grace, is not only subtly anti-Jewish itself, but it's entirely unbiblical. Grace began with the fall of Adam and the first entrance of sin (see Romans 5:20b), or humanity would have been wiped out immediately….

In other words, everyone who reaches heaven will arrive there solely because of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice-that is, by His grace. Thus when Dispensationalists teach that Old Testament Jews achieved salvation in any way through the law, or that they were denied the gospel, whether they realize it or not, they are teaching a subtly anti-Jewish false doctrine.

Just to set the record straight once again, here are some sources that correct Wohlberg’s blunder. Middletown Bible Church answers a series of false charges leveled at Dispensationialists – including the so-called “secret” rapture.

Dr. Renald Showers, in his book, There Really is a Difference--A Comparison of Covenant and Dispensational Theology, makes the following clarification: "The different dispensations are different ways of God's administering His rule over the world, they are not different ways of salvation. Throughout history God has employed several dispensations but only one way of salvation. Salvation has always been by the grace of God through faith in the Word of God, and God has based salvation on the work of Jesus Christ" (page 31).

Dispensationalist William MacDonald (known especially for his one excellent one volume commentary, Believers Bible Commentary), in his book Here's the Difference, wrote the following: "While there are differences among the various ages, there is one thing that never changes, and that is the gospel. Salvation always has been, is now, and always will be by faith in the Lord. And the basis of salvation for every age is the finished work of Christ on Calvary's cross. People in the Old Testament were saved by believing whatever revelation the Lord gave them...We must guard against any idea that people in the Dispensation of Law were saved by keeping the Law" (page 98)…
Read More

I’ve linked this article before. Here’s an excerpt:

Let it be stated categorically that Dispensationalism has not and does not believe that the Law of Moses was a means of salvation. This concept is rejected because it would make salvation by means of works. Salvation was and always is by grace through faith. While the content of faith has changed from age to age, depending on progressive revelation, the means of salvation never changes. The law was not given to serve as a means of salvation (Rom. 3:20, 28; Gal. 2:16; 3:11, 21)…Does Dispensationalism Teach Two Ways of Salvation?

As mentioned in a previous post by me, Wohlberg and the SDA believe that Sabbath observation is still a requirement for salvation, even if they will not openly admit it. Given this fact, he needs to re-address and reconsider his statements about grace and Dispensationalism.

Just one last observation - he cites Wiki on pretribulationism’s debt to Darby and stresses the alleged newness of pretribulationism. Constantly citing Wiki is hardly great research. But, if age is a criterion for authenticity, then what can we say about Seventh Day Adventism as a package, let alone dogmas like Investigative Judgment? SDA owes a debt to both Miller and White of 1844 and later vintage.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Seventy Weeks of Daniel

An excellent resource for studying Daniel’s Seventy Weeks is Fred DeRuvo’s Between Weeks. Here’s Fred’s intro:

Four verses in the ninth chapter of Daniel are arguably some of the most important verses found anywhere in Scripture, related to prophecy. If we are to understand what God has given us in these four verses, then we had better do all that we can to ensure we have a correct interpretation.

The 70 weeks of Daniel, highlighted in Daniel 9:24-27 are there for our benefit. God did not need to tell us anything, but He chose to do so in order that we would be blessed by the information He has graciously provided to Daniel through the angel Gabriel.

The most important question becomes then, what is Gabriel actually relating to Daniel in these four verses? Is the information found there for us today, as yet unfulfilled, or is it all in the past, in which case it would merely be testimony of how God has worked in our past?

Buy it HERE


Some other resources for understanding the premillennial view of Daniel's 70 weeks:

"Let the postmillennial and amillennial commentators look long and steadily at this fact. This prophecy is a prophecy for Daniel’s people and Daniel’s city. No alchemy of Origenistic spiritualizing interpretation can change that."

Robert Culver "Daniel and the Latter Days"

"It has been well observed by various writers that if the seventy weeks are to end with the death of Christ and the incoming destruction of Jerusalem, it is simply impossible—with all ingenuity expended in this direction by eminent men—to make out an accurate fulfillment of prophecy from the dates given, for the time usually adduced being either too long to fit with the crucifixion of Christ or too short to extend to the destruction of Jerusalem."

George N. H. Peters "The Theocratic Kingdom"

One of the most important prophecy passages in the whole Bible is that of God’s prophecy given to Daniel in Daniel 9:24-27. This passage constitutes one of the most amazing prophecies in all the Bible. If worked out logically, this text is both seminal and determinativein the outworking of one’s understanding of Bible prophecy. Especially for those of us who believe that prophecy should be understood literally, it is essential that a right understanding of this central text be developed and cultivated. Thus, with this article, I am beginning a series that examines Daniel’s prophecy for the purpose of providing a consistently literal interpretation of the passage...The Seventy Weeks of Daniel by Thomas Ice

Several times throughout the Bible we see God declaring that He and only He is in control of all things. That he sets up kings and takes down kings, and that everything happens in accordance with his purposes. (Daniel 2:21, Isaiah 46:9-11)...The Mystery of Daniel's 70 Weeks

One of the hotly debated issues of Biblical eschatology is the correct interpretation and understanding of Daniel's prophecies contained in Daniel 9:24-27. The understanding of these passages is critical in understanding God's plan. There are varying schools of thought on how Daniel's 70 weeks should be interpreted, but, if you refer back to Scripture and you take the Word for what it says, the correct interpretation becomes self-evident...Daniel's 70 Weeks

More on the Seventy Prophetic Weeks of Daniel

Friday, February 19, 2010

Steve Wohlberg's End Time Delusions

More on this at Zeteo 3:16.

A few years ago I came across a book called End Time Delusions written by Steve Wohlberg. The book aggressively goes after the Left Behind novels and the theology behind them. The most obvious target in Wohlberg’s sight is the pretribulational rapture because that forms the basis of the LB series. But, essentially, he is opposed to all the standard premillennial positions. This includes mid-trib, pre-wrath and post-trib. I like reading opposing viewpoints so I checked it out. However, once having discovered Wohlberg was a Seventh Day Adventist, I promptly lost interest in the book.

He recently appeared on Jan Markell's Radio Show talking about the popular Twilight series although, at the time, Jan hadn’t realized who he was and what his beliefs were. Jan is a pre-trib Messianic Jew who believes God hasn’t finished with Israel. Wohlberg’s beliefs are the antithesis of all these things and he actively teaches against them through various mediums, with ever-increasing exposure. When the subject of End Time Delusions came up again on another blog, it prompted me to take another look at him.

Wohlberg flies under the radar - you can read his many articles at without discovering his SDA affiliation. The one reference I could find to that is HERE .

As I researched him and connected the dots, I found a large number of SDA sites all linked to each other. But in each case I had to dig deep to see the SDA connection. The dead giveaway was either references to Wohlberg’s books or Ellen G White.

So what’s the big deal? Who cares if he’s SDA if what he is teaching is biblical? My response is, why conceal the fact that you’re SDA? Incidentally, Herbert W Armstrong’s organization used the same tactic many years ago, and offshoots of that org still do. I was once a member of that organization.

On page 30 of ET Delusions, Wohlberg makes the following statement:

“We don’t need to depend on scholars to find the answer. In fact, it is never safe to lean completely on any man, no matter how smart or educated they may be. Christians should never be taught to rely solely on Tim LaHaye, John Walvoord, Thomas Ice, Jack Van Impe, Grant Jeffrey, Chuck Smith, John Hagee, or any other popular teacher, including Steve Wohlberg. We should all open our Bibles, pick up our own concordances, and find out for ourselves what truth is.....”

I might add that guys like Chuck Missler encourage people not to believe them and to search out Scripture. Ironically, Wohlberg immediately goes on to inform his readers what he thinks about Matt 24 etc, thus telling them what they should believe. In fact in so many cases, Wohlberg actually twists Scripture to convince his readers that what a particular verse is saying may actually mean something else.

But Wohlberg is being dishonest. Does he really want his readers to search the Scriptures for themselves or does he want to lead them down a particular path? Would he add Ellen G White to that list?

The SDA Biblical Research Institute has an online essay called Is the Bible Our Final Authority? It's a rambling article full of semantics and I suggest people read it thoroughly. The author refers to alleged Scripture problems and contradictions and raises the subject of hermeneutics. In reality there aren’t any Scriptural problems. All contradictions have been adequately addressed by scholars and it’s interesting that these supposed difficulties are entertained by the author in the first place.

Already Adventists have begun to work on these problems. Several carefully reasoned articles and a number of book-length essays and collections of essays have appeared. We have the BRI volume, Gerhard Hasel's Biblical Interpretation Today, which particularly addresses methods; George Rice's Was Luke a Plagiarist? and the BRI publications on prophetic interpretation. We should note as well Alden Thompson's Who's Afraid of the Old Testament God? which has implications for hermeneutics. The publication of several of Ellen White's writings on the nature of the Bible and workings of inspiration has proved invaluable. Indeed they set us on a path that offers at least partial resolution of the tensions.

The reference to Rice’s book “Was Luke a Plagiarist” may be a subtle defense of the fact that Ellen G White was found to have plagiarized many of her writings word for word. In other words, if Luke borrowed data from the disciples then why can’t White do the same? It gets more interesting:

To this point Ellen White's guidance has received only passing notice. We have noted her ringing endorsement of the truthfulness and authority of Scripture. A more careful study makes clear that for her the Scriptures remain the final authority, not only where they touch religious matters, but in their report of events as well.

However Mrs. White is not where Evangelicals are. While affirming the Bible's authority, she recognizes in far higher profile the human element in Scriptures. We review in brief excerpts what she has to say about the language and thought patterns in the Bible:

"Don't you think there might have been some mistake in the copyist or in the translators?" This is all probable. . . . All the mistakes will not cause trouble to one soul, or cause any feet to stumble.-Selected Messages, Bk. 1, 16.

The writers of the Bible had to express their ideas in human language.-Ibid. 19.

There is not always perfect order or apparent unity in the Scriptures.-Ibid. 20.

The Bible must be given in the language of men. Everything that is human is imperfect.-Ibid.20.

The Bible is written by inspired men, but it is not God's mode of thought and expression. It is that of humanity. God, as a writer, is not represented.-Ibid. 21.

The writers of the Bible were God's penmen, not His pen.-Ibid.

It is not the words of the Bible that are inspired, but the men that were inspired. Inspiration acts not on the man's words or his expressions but on the man himself, who, under the influence of the Holy Ghost, is imbued with thoughts.-Ibid.

With the immense advantage of the gift of prophecy in modern times, Adventists are prepared for a genuinely integrated understanding of revelation, inspiration, and preservation of authority in the Word while others explore box canyons in search of understanding. But we will fall short of God's plan unless we allow the Holy Spirit to both interpret the Word and move it into proclamation.

Any SDA statement of faith will readily attest that Scripture is the inspired word of God. However, in my opinion, the gist of what the above article is saying is that, because of all the human problems associated with the Bible, the SDA especially benefits from prophets like Ellen G White to set things straight. Other sources confirm this fact and this is a major problem with that group. See page 12 "Writings of Ellen G. White".

Getting back to Wohlberg, my problem isn’t just the fact that he maligns pretribbers and Dispenationalists with condescending phrases. I could still be a posttribber and still be concerned about this guy. This issue goes beyond rapture timing differences. Wohlberg’s book isn’t just a “biblical” attack on the LB series per se; it’s a veiled introduction to SDA eschatology and everything that it entails. His mission is to undermine all elements of the LB series, not just the pre-trib rapture, and covertly introduce his own agenda.

A little bit of history:

SDA William Miller, using a series of erroneous calculations from Daniel, predicted that Christ’s second coming would occur in 1844. When it failed - instead of re-examining Miller’s error - SDA officials proposed several solutions finally settling on the doctrine of the Sanctuary, which was subsequently endorsed by Ellen G White. So the story was changed. Instead of returning, Christ moved from the First Compartment to the Second Compartment of the Sanctuary. This has major ramifications for the one-time Blood Atonement, Salvation by Grace and the exposition of the book of Hebrews, and it introduces the “Investigative Judgment” doctrine. But it was how Miller derived his original conclusion that locks Wohlberg into his calculations and arguments because the IJ doctrine is contingent to the same rationale and cannot be discarded.

The arguments that motivate Wohlberg to deny that the covenant in Dan 9:27 is made by the Antichrist are all tied to how SDA interpret the days into 1260 years and how they relate them to historical Papal Rome. He then needs to deny the single Antichrist we see in Revelation because, for Wohlberg and the SDA, the Great Seal of God in the End Time is not the Holy Spirit, it is actually Sabbath observance. To do this he also needs to allegorize Rev 13:15-18 and make it say something different. Thus the true Mark of the Beast now becomes enforced Sunday worship.

Up until recently I presumed the SDA chose Sabbath observance because it seemed the better day traditionally. I was wrong. Sabbath observance and the teachings of E G White lie at the heart of Adventism. To the SDA, Sabbath observance is critical to salvation. We only get a hint of this in ET Delusions in the chapter called “Thunder From Heaven’s Temple”. Here he discusses and emphasizes the Big Ten - The Ten Commandments. While he never states it; Wohlberg is really highlighting the Sabbath. Here is the perfect opportunity for him to speak plainly about Sabbath salvation in the End Time, yet incredibly, he only mentions the Sabbath once in connection with the other commandments. Why?

Wohlberg also believes the SDA is the true church and the true Remnant of Revelation. This includes the 144,000 of Rev 7 despite the clear teaching of those verses. SDA also becomes the true Israel and this apparently gives him license for allegorizing away the location of the battle of Armageddon in “Frogs, Fables and Armageddon” (pp 193-194):

“…(Rev 16:16) This is the only time the only time the exact word Armageddon is used in the Bible. The truth is, there is no literal place called “Armageddon” anywhere in the world….”
He then goes on to suggest that Armageddon - having being derived from Megiddo - could literally mean a mountain of slaughter upon which God’s enemies are cut off. To prop up his contention, he appeals to the mountain that fills up the whole earth in Daniel 2. Referring to Rev 16:16-20 he says:

“Contrary to the all-pervasive teaching of the third frog, these words clearly describe divine wrath upon spiritual Babylon and a global slaughter that reaches far beyond the Middle East”

“…Who is the gathering at Armageddon really against? Literal Jews? No! It is a gathering of the world forces of Mystery Babylon against the Warrior on the horse and against His army.”

Note: According to Wohlberg (p 192), “The third frog of false prophecy is now teaching a secret rapture, seven year tribulation, futurist antichrist (sic), literal drying up of a literal Euphrates, and a literal Middle-East Armageddon involving literal armies attacking literal Jews. Dear friend this is all false prophecy….”

Add to the "third frog" list the belief in a Tribulation Temple and the Antichrist persecuting Israel - as Wohlberg states elsewhere - and it pretty much covers every rapture view.

Back to the Sabbath issue; a couple of weeks ago I e-mailed an official SDA site asking about Sabbath observance and salvation. Here’s the response I got:

I think the correct answer to your question, which is really something of a personal dilemma for you, is to say that the real issue revolves around the question of the Sabbath. Which day is the true Sabbath? Which day does Scripture and History support? To find the answers to these questions may involve some reading and reflection. In the end we are all individually responsible to God for discovering what is right and true and for allowing Him to lead us into His truth. You will remember that Jesus said, “ Do not think that I came to destroy the Law and the Prophets. I did not come to destroy, but to fulfil”, Matt 5: 17 and “If you love me keep my commandments”, Jn 14 :15. I can only advise that you seek to understand this important question both from the Bible and from what has happened to the Sabbath through history ( which includes how the keeping of Sunday began in the church after the apostolic era), and then make up your own mind on the basis of all the evidence. As to the matter of salvation, a good question to ask oneself about any spiritual matter, is “ Can a person be saved if he/she persists in living out of harmony with God’s will, once His will is known? “ It may take some time for you to work through these matters in your own life, but I believe you will feel more satisfied with this course of action.

Not satisfied, I asked him for clarification, “If I’m reading this correctly, I will lose my salvation if I continue to willfully worship on Sunday. Correct?”

To which he responded:

Dear Friend,

I can see that you are a thinking person who really wants to do what is right. But I cannot speak for God. Only He knows who will be saved and who will not, because He can read the heart, and knows the end from the beginning. Tomorrow
(Saturday) is the day He set aside at creation for man to keep holy and the day that Jesus kept when He was on earth. I think you know that now. So it’s really over to you. I will be praying for you.

He meant YES, by the way. He just couldn’t bring himself to say it just as Wohlberg couldn’t let on because they both want to be considered normal Evangelical Christians. Yet they are NOT. They openly agree to free Grace salvation by faith but privately teach that salvation depends (and will depend) on Sabbath worship. It is legalistic and undermines Grace, and the doctrine of Investigative Judgment also undermines Christ’s work on the Cross. Their hermeneutical methodology is heavily dependant on White’s interpretation of Scripture.
Here's an excerpt from Hohmann's article, Sabbath Refutations

The crux of the matter boils down to this in the end: Does one need to keep the sabbath in order to be saved, or maintain their salvation status with God? Many a Sabbatarian will state that it is by grace apart from law they are saved, but turn around and claim one puts their salvation at risk should they sin habitually, and they define one of these sins as not keeping the sabbath. So they do indeed claim one has to keep the sabbath in order to be saved, disguising this belief in semantics.

Further reading:

See especially the videos of Dr Walter Martin in the following link. After initially refusing to classify SDA as a cult in his book, he began to have strong reservations.

EX Adventist Outreach

Ellen G. White - Prophet or Pretender?

Writings of Ellen G. White

The 2300-day Dilemma

Seventh-day AdventismBy Dr. James Bjornstad

Dr. Ford and Glacier View


Seventh-day Adventism RENOUNCED
by D. M. Canright

Article list

Bible Contradictions and Other Bible Difficulties


Steve Wohlberg has told us what he believes the “third frog” of false prophecy teaches. Compare that to what we read in Revelation:

Rev 16:13 And I saw coming out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs; for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty.Rev 22:18-19 I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Progressive Dispensationalism and Normative Dispensationalism

This subject is a mine field. I won’t pretend to know much (if anything) about the distinctions but I do value Paul Henebury’s opinions.

Those in the progressive dispensationalist camp are comfortable with disposing of grammatical-historical hermeneutics, whereas normative dispensationalists align themselves closely with it. The fact that Darrell Bock could write a Forward commending William Webb’s controversial X-Y-Z approach shows that they are both influenced by modern hermeneutical theorizing. Bock himself emphasizes the supposed problem with saying that Scripture may be read in a consistently literal manner; Schleiermacher’s warning about imposing a rigid set of rules upon the text before we actually read it; the importance of “preunderstanding”; and sensitivity to literary genres. This is why he, along with his fellow Progressive Dispensationalists, has bid adieu to consistent grammatical-historical interpretation (G-H) and has adopted a “complementary hermeneutic” wherein the passage being read is helped by the rest of the Biblical Canon. The hermeneutical tool chosen to ground this approach is an adaptation of the “already-not yet” hermeneutic....Progressive Dispensationalism and Normative Dispensationalism: Separate Hermeneutical Assumptions

Thursday, February 4, 2010


Interesting article from Grace Evangelical Society exploring the concept of the wrath of God and how it may be administered to unbelievers and believers.

All who teach the grace message know the importance of defining concepts and words in order to interpret the Bible correctly. For this reason, grace advocates are serious when it comes to clarifying God’s message of grace. Yet, how serious and clear are we when it comes to understanding God’s message of wrath? Unfortunately, many Christians assume that whenever the expression “God’s wrath” appears in the Bible it usually means eternal judgment that falls only upon the unregenerate (Rom 1:18–3:20). This common interpretation surfaces two questions that will be answered in this article: “Do the Scriptures reveal the subject of God’s wrath to be temporal in nature and does God’s wrath fall equally on sinning believers as well as unbelievers?” The Greek word for “wrath” (orge„), with God as its executor, appears in Romans far more than any other NT book. Because Romans is written to Christians (1:7, 15), it will be vital to examine each passage where wrath appears in the epistle in order to meet this article’s objective. But first, it will be nec­es­sary to survey the OT and NT occurrences (outside of Romans) in order to see whether God’s wrath is temporal in nature and whether it falls equally upon sinning believers as well as unbelievers...continue reading

Sunday, January 24, 2010

How many second comings?

I’m indulging in a little axe grinding again. Pretribbers are often accused of “traditionally” believing in a two-stage Second Advent for scripturally unsound reasons.

Here’s a sample Q & A which appears HERE:

Q: Can you point to a direct scriptural reference that states that Jesus' return will be a two-stage event — a “spiritual” or “visible” (but not bodily) return at the rapture for the Church and then a “bodily” or “physical” coming at Armageddon?

Answer: No such scripture exists. When the return of Christ is mentioned in scripture it is always mentioned as a singular event

Another sample HERE:

Pre-Tribulation Theory incorrectly teaches two separate Comings of Christ, one when He comes "for His Church" and the second when He comes "with His Church" without one verse of explanation. There is but one Return of our Lord taught throughout the Old & New Testament, and is never referred to in the plural.


The term is always stated in the singular, not Comings. There is only one Second Coming (Parousia). Further, it is reading one's tradition in this term when it is suggested that there are "two stages of Comings." It is common to hear that Christ will come first for his Church secretly, then return seven years later with his Church. This notion is foreign to any Parousia text. There is only one future Coming (Parousia), in which God will fulfill certain Divine purposes.

In his book "The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church" on pp 222-223 and 294, Marvin Rosenthal asserts that there is only one “coming and a continuous presence to accomplish a number of divine purposes”.

I don’t intend this post to be an in-depth apologetic for the pretribulational belief that the rapture and second coming are two distinct events separated by a period of time. Despite assertions, there is no Scripture that invalidates that view. Furthermore, Rabbis reading Moses and the Prophets would be hard pressed to be convinced of two comings of Messiah, yet we know that that is the case. Jesus’ reading of Isaiah 61:1,2 in Luke 4:17-20 illustrates my point.

What confused me when I initially began to study Mr Rosenthal’s system is that in Rev 7:9 the “raptured” great multitude is standing before the throne and the Lamb in heaven. As I dug a little deeper I discovered that the above statements are made by people who subscribe to an eschatology that teaches multiple future comings.

Following Marvin Rosenthal’s book, Robert Van Kampen’s “The Sign” was published. Ironically, between pages 304 to 423 of that book, Mr Van Kampen identified FOUR separate future comings.

Dr Charles Cooper’s article “The Parousia of Jesus Christ” which can be read HERE also ends with a most interesting final paragraph that lists a number of Christ’s movements between heaven and earth, post rapture and prior to the Millennium.

Finally, Dr Elbert Charpie provides the following justification for his belief in a multi-stage Second Advent:

Jesus does come back and rapture His saints and He does deal with them in Heaven, but at the same time He deals with the Jewish remnant here on earth. It is no problem for Him to travel back and forth. Furthermore, He is God and as God shares the attributes of God including omnipresence (the ability to be everywhere at the same time). As far as the Jews are concerned, they are not raptured. The Jewish remnant will enter the millennial kingdom in their earthly bodies and will have charge along with a multitude of Gentiles that survive the 70th Week to re-populate the earth….Read it HERE

Now, whether the Lord can be physically omnipresent is a whole new subject and the questionable necessity for a single/technical parousia is also another matter. However, one cannot legitimately declare that all biblical references point to a single second coming and then assert there are other comings following that one. In light of the attention John Darby has received, perhaps a legitimate question to ask is; were all these comings taught by the early Church fathers or is this tenet a recent development?

In conclusion, and given the above statements and admissions, it is somewhat inconsistent of these people to accuse pretribulationists of incorrectly teaching a two-phase Second Advent.

Further reading:

New Testament Words for the Lord’s Coming