Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Late Great Rapture Theory

(Excerpt from Dave Hunt's: "What Ever Happened To Heaven):

Is this issue even worth discussing? After all, what does it matter when Christ comes or when or how the kingdom is established? Is eschatological debate of any significance? A partial answer would lie in the fact that "last days" prophecy is a subject that takes up about one-fourth of the Bible. How could we dare to suggest that the Holy Spirit would give such importance to something which, in the final analysis, really doesn't matter? Based only upon the amount of attention given to it in the Bible, when and how and why Christ returns must be of great importance both to God and to us. We need to seek to understand why.
One reason for the significance of this issue should be quite obvious. Paul tells us that Christ is going to catch His bride away from this earth to meet Him in the air-"and so shall we ever be with the Lord" (1 Thess 4:17). Consequently, those who expect to meet Christ with their feet still planted on earth--a "Christ" who has arrived to take over the kingdom they have established in His name--will have been badly deceived. In fact, they could have been working to build the earthly kingdom for the Antichrist. Yet this teaching that we must take over the world and set up the kingdom for Christ has become the fastest-growing movement within the church today.
One of the key doctrines of this movement is the claim that the church is now Israel, heir to all of her promises, and that national Israel has been cut off from God and has no further place in the prophetic scheme. This new focus on an earthly inheritance for the church has further turned the hope of being taken to heaven in the rapture into an object of ridicule. It has also produced a drastic change in attitude and a serious reduction in the evangelical church's traditional support of Israel, an about-face which is being viewed with alarm by that tiny nation....
Speaking at Edmond near Oklahoma City on April 11,1988, Rick Godwin, a long-time associate of James Robison and popular speaker on Christian media, delivered the type of anti-Israel rhetoric that is becoming so typical in charismatic circles: "They [national Israel] are not chosen, they are cursed! They are not blessed, they are cursed!... The church--that's the Israel of God, not that garlic one over on the Mediterranean Sea!" Earl Paulk's criticism of national Israel and those who look favorably upon her includes the ultimate accusation:
The hour has come for us to know...that the spirit of the antichrist is now at work in the world...[through] so-called Holy Spirit-filled teachers who say, "If you bless national Israel, God will bless you." Not only is this blatantly deceptive, it is not part of the new covenant at all!
Currents of change are sweeping through the world and the church. In the crucial days ahead, the evangelical church could well suffer a division over the rapture and the related issue of Israel comparable to that experienced by the Catholic Church as a result of the Reformation in the 1500s. Nor would it be surprising if, in the cause of "unity," the larger faction in Protestantism moved much closer to ecumenical union with Catholicism, which has been traditionally antisemitic and discarded the rapture about 1600 years ago. Some of the reasons why this could happen, and the likely consequences, should become clear in the following pages.... [See resource pages for details.]
We must beware that in our zeal to "change the world for Christ" we do not become so wedded to an ongoing earthly process stretching into the indeterminate future that we lose our vision of heaven. We cannot be truly faithful to the totality of what Scripture says unless we are sufficiently disengaged from this world to be ready to leave it behind at a moment's notice.
There is cause to be concerned that...kingdom/dominion advocates could be fostering a false conception of our earthly ministry--a conception which we must guard against lest we subtly fall into...[the] mistaken notion that mortal man can accomplish what only immortal Man, our risen Lord, and we as immortal resurrected beings with Him, can perform. We dare not settle for anything less than the fullness of what Christ has promised! The glory that He offers is light-years beyond the...agenda of Christianizing and taking over this present world in these bodies of weakness and corruption....
The joy and glory He has planned and in which He desires that we participate--and the prospect of being caught up at any moment to see this hope realized--are more than enough to excite and inspire and motivate us to victorious living and witnessing.... We dare not, however, in the name of unity and the avoidance of controversy, abandon the hope given to us in [the] Scriptures (See 1 Cor 15:51-53, 1 Thes 4:16-18).

(Full Excerpt: http://www.thebereancall.org/node/9434)

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