E-Pistles - Day 1 Pre-, Mid-, Post-, Pan-, What???
Writer Author Pastor Ray Young
- Fiction No
"And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, 'Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose it's seals?' And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. So I wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, 'Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root Of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.'"
- The Revelation Of Jesus Christ 5:1-5 NKJV
Today we begin what I prayerfully consider to be the most important series of E-Pistles we have ever written. We know that the materials that we will cover will be controversial, to say the least. Yet, God has given us a mandate, a mission and a message concerning the return of Jesus Christ, particularly the timing of His return in relationship to a series of terrible events described in the Scriptures as the Tribulation. Within the church, there are many different points of view regarding the return of Jesus Christ. Some folks who call themselves Christians don't even believe He will return. They see him as no different from some Hindu holy man. Some believe that He will come, but prior to the Great Tribulation. We call those folks Pre-Trib. Some folks believe that He will come back in the middle of the Great Tribulation. They are referred to as Mid-Trib. Other believers cling to the belief that He will return at the end of the Tribulation. You can call them Post-Trib. And I always jokingly add a 4th category, folks who are Pan-Trib. "Well, brother", they say, "I don't worry about it, 'cause I know it'll all pan out!".
Raised in a mainline denomination, I heard very few, if any, sermons on the return of Jesus Christ as I grew up. I guess most of us were Pan-Trib, in that we never gave the matter much thought. Truthfully, looking retrospectively back through time, it really didn't matter WHAT you believed about the Tribulation UNTIL NOW! Why didn't it matter? Because all believers who lived and died up until this generation would never see or experience the events described in the Book Of The Revelation. That is about to change dramatically and drastically! Some Biblical scholars believe that we are already somewhere in the first four Seals. Truthfully, after studying the Scriptures myself, and comparing what The Bible says about the final days of mankind to current events on the TV, I can't say I disagree with them.
After decades of being at best a lukewarm Christian, I began to move closer to God when I was 25. By the age of 29, I had been Baptized In (With) the Holy Spirit, complete with the supernatural evidence of Speaking In Unknown Tongues. If you're not familiar with this marvelous experience, please take the time to read carefully and prayerfully through the Book Of Acts, then give us a call or email us. Given what is going to come upon all the earth, you need this experience in your life! As I began to move away from my mainline denominational background and teaching, I began to encounter a great deal of teaching regarding the return of Jesus Christ. Almost all of what I encountered centered around Pre-Trib theology, so for many years, I was a strong advocate of that particular viewpoint. Then I acquired some relatives who were strongly Post-Trib. Some folks in that camp advocated digging caves in mountains, stockpiling food and supplies, and preparing to ride out the storm. We spent many evenings hotly debating all of the points of each stance, with neither side giving an inch of ground.
The whole matter finally came to a head for me when I began a 3-month term as an interim pastor for a local Full-Gospel church. It was a church cleanly split right down the middle between the old guard, who thought they knew and had experienced everything, and the young guard, who were hungry for the deep things of God and genuinely wanted to experience a move of God themselves, instead of listening to the older members reminisce about the "good old days". One day, as I was praying, the Lord spoke to me. "I want you to begin teaching from the Book of The Revelation", He said. "No way!", I replied, "That book is the hidey-hole for every lunatic and wacko from Waco! I will not teach from Revelation!" The argument between God and I raged for a considerable period of time. Guess who won?
Once I had finally given in and given up arguing, I was presented with another problem. If I was supposed to teach the book, it would probably be a good idea if I read the book myself first! Please understand, this is not generally the way that most pastors prepare their sermons. Too often, "research" consists of stealing someone else's ideas wholesale, without bothering to give credit to the original author. That's called plagarism, and a huge number of pastors are guilty of the sin several times a week. Truthfully, I had been guilty of it many times myself. If I heard a sermon point which sounded good to me, I was just as likely as the next guy of pulling the statement out in my next sermon and waving it about proudly, without a clue as to if it was correct or not. I have a good friend who is thinking man in a fundamentalist Pentecostal denomination. That makes him odd man out, but he sort of enjoys the opportunity to point out inconsistencies. He's a very deep individual, with a special kind of careful Biblical scholarship that I value and cherish. He regularly helps us with our radio broadcast, and never fails to bring some special insight into the program. Years ago, while he was in Bible school for his denomination (which shall remain nameless!), he and a fellow classmate challenged one of their professors about three particular Scripture references listed in their textbook. "In your opinion", they asked the instructor, "do these Scriptures accurately represent the theology represented in the book?". The instructor replied vigorously in the affirmative. "Then explain to us", they countered, "why these so-called Scripture references point to Chapter and Verse combinations which don't even exist in the Bible!". By failing to check his sources, the instructor had made himself vulnerable to criticism and humiliation. Maybe they shouldn't have done it publicly, but youth always wants to do it now!
So it was with me in my life. I had proudly brandished my Pre-Trib theology about from the pulpit, without every bothering to go to the Scriptures referenced to see if what the speaker said the Bible said was actually what the Bible said itself. Did you follow that? I can say that you said "All boats are make of peas", when what you actually said was, "All boats are made of trees". Does a misunderstood word make a difference in that sentence? By handling the Scriptures secondhand, without taking the time ourselves to "search the Scriptures to see if these things be so…", we set ourselves up to be deceived by each new whiz-bang theory that comes down the pike. The Bible calls them "Winds of Doctrine". They certainly blow out, blow up and blow away a huge number of believers, particularly the new kids on the block, hungry for the Word and willing to accept anything they hear. Here's a little challenge to our readers : after you finish reading this article, see if you can find those two quoted references in your Bible. Hint : there are two minor mistakes, one in each of the quoted phrases. See if you can find them. I will gladly acknowledge everyone by first name who manages to pick up on the two errors. In both cases, they are minor, and do not appreciably change the text from which they are quoted. But what if they weren't??? This is how the cults work (as well as their father, the devil). When they quote Scripture (and they always do), they either add something in, leave something out, change the word used, or change the meaning of the word used. In so doing, they quickly and successfully manage to turn "trees" into "peas", and no one is the wiser for the fraud and deception that has been perpetrated!
So it was with the Book Of The Revelation. I had been taught many things about the book. Some of what I had been taught was correct. But when I began to read the book for myself,, I found, much to my amazement, astonishment and horror, that none of the stances I had been exposed to were correct! Pre-Trib was wrong! Mid-Trib was wrong! Post-Trib was wrong! And Pan-Trib was about as irresponsible as a preacher or believer could get! Can you imagine the controversy that erupted in that Full-Gospel church when I began to share, Chapter by Chapter and Verse by Verse, what the Bible actually said about the return of Jesus Christ? The old guard erupted in anger. They had never been taught it that way, they said, and quickly and firmly hardened their hearts to the actual in-context words of the Holy Scripture. The young people were amazed, but they looked up the Scriptures which I taught them, just to confirm in their own minds and hearts that I was telling them the truth. And, dear reader, friend and brother in Christ, I am still telling the truth to everyone who will listen! Your own salvation may well depend on how you interpret and are prepared for the events of the next 10 - 15 years. The Scroll is about to unroll, and you must be prepared! Jesus opened the Scroll by prevailing over the power of sin, death and the grave. The least we can do is Unroll The Scroll to see what is contained therein.
Over the next several days, we will begin a Chapter by Chapter and Verse by Verse exposition (a big word for study) of The Book Of The Revelation. There's a good reason why God called it The Revelation, instead of just Revelation. We'll talk about that the next time we come together to break the good bread of the Word of Life. Until next time, God bless each and every one of you!
School Of The Prophets
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