Does 1 Thess 5:1-11 indicate a seven year tribulation?

rapture w buildingsI’m continually mindful that we often read presuppositions into the biblical text especially when convinced of a particular position. I think it’s just natural to do that. My shifting views on eschatology that is causing me to re-examine portions of Scripture with fresh eyes continues to affirm this.

As I indicated in my posts on the book of Revelation, this has struck me so powerfully how much I presumed a dispensational premillennial reading of Scripture. This then gets imposed onto key proof-texts that those of the dispensational stripe promote as proof of this system. In terms of eschatology, that primarily means a pre-tribulational rapture of the church followed by a seven year great tribulation before Christ renders final judgment.

Now I get that when determining if certain passages mean one thing or the other, it’s easy to be influenced by well-studied commentators with persuasive arguments especially if it concurs with a position you are already warm to. It does take a bit of honesty to recognize where they or YOU could have blind spots or want to hold on to a position or just be plain wrong.

But I’ve also discovered in the midst of doctrinal shifts and re-examining of positions, that sometimes you get hit with passages that you’re not even looking at to persuade you of one position or the other. They just further affirm that you weren’t crazy to change your mind.

And so it was, as I was reading through 1 Thessalonians with no angle or inquiries other than to just let the text speak into my life for fuel and comfort, that a particular proof-texted passage just jumped out at me. After a few readings, it became so obvious how it was yet another instance of a dispensational perspective being imposed on the text.

Now, I have concluded for a while that 1 Thess. 4:13-18, does not reference a pre-tribulational rapture and that Paul’s use of “caught up” references the custom of that day to go out and meet a visitor and accompany them into the arrival destination. As I’ve delved into this topic, it’s become clearer to me that Christ will come back once and it won’t be a quiet affair. The rapture spoken of here correlates to 2 Thess. 1:7-8; 2:1 and Rev. 1:7 when Christ returns to judge the world and set everything right. Continue reading

Why pursuing shekinah glory can leave Jesus behind

OT_templeI can’t harp enough on how important it is to understand the relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament. When we don’t make proper connections, this impacts how we understand the events of the Old Testament apply to us. In a way, I suppose this post is a follow up to You Can’t Read the Bible Any Way You Want.

One such way is when Christians pursue the “shekinah glory” remiscent of how the glory filled the temple in the Old Testament. I spent many years in church circles where this was a common occurrence, especially at special conference type of events. The thrust of pursuit was worshipping hard enough so that that “atmosphere” was charged and that glory can fill the physical space.

I recently started reading Kingdom Come: The Amillennial Alternative, by Sam Storms. I purchased the book because of my shifting views on eschatology (end times) and seeing more and more, especially in context of Revelation, how biblical prophecy points more to what is accomplished in Christ than literal, physical interpretation of events. But I have another post on that! So this post is not necessarily about eschatology but about how we understand the relationship of the Old Testament to the New Testament.

I really appreciate Storm’s straight forward easy style of writing. In his first chapter, he appropriately lays the foundation that Jesus is the center of the Old Testament. Specific to the glory of the temple he explains what the shekinah glory in the OT means for the NT; Continue reading

Christian, you cannot read the Bible any old way you want – Part I

I am often confronted with the strange ways the Bible is interpreted. I don’t mean the deviations in various interpretations, such as baptism, spiritual gifts or eschatology, but interpretations that subject the meaning of the Bible to standards that are disconnected from it’s nature and purpose.

I came across this hilarious video from the new Family Feud game that is hosted by Steve Harvey. Take a listen;

Funny and yet sobering, reminding me of ways in which some treat the Bible as if we can make it be whatever response we want AND get excited about it! I find so often that this brother’s “Texas” can be our approach to the Bible. By that I mean, employing methods that have nothing to do with the Christ-centered theme of Scripture. I’m talking about reading definitions into the text or extracting meaning out of the text that is not even related to what the author is trying to communicate or even connected to God’s redemptive narrative of what he is accomplishing through the Son.

Over at The Gospel Coalition, David Schrock has provided both a fine example of how we can disconnect passages from their intended meaning. In Jabez and the Soft Prosperity Gospel, Schrock indicates that the primary reason for interpretations that result in a sub-Christian or anti-Christian paradigm results from making personal applications of Scripture and not considering how passages relate to the overall theme of Scripture. Continue reading

Yes, Jesus DID say that in black letters too

open-bibleI was cleaning out some old email and came across this letter to subscribers from Greg Koukl, Stand to Reason Ministries. He makes a good case for black letter Bibles, that is NOT having Jesus’ words in red letters. But the stronger case is for considering how God spoke through all Scripture. Here’s what Koukl says;

“Twice recently I’ve noticed people making a theological point based on what Jesus, allegedly, did not say.  In both instances I have the same questions:  So what?  Why should it matter what Jesus did not say?

I have three points in mind with these questions.  They have to do with a tactical maneuver, a misstep in thinking, and a misunderstanding about the Bible that so-called “red letter” Christians seem to fall into.

First, notice the tactic being employed here:  appeal to authority.  The person making the comment is trying to bolster her point of view by enlisting Jesus as her ally, as a person whose views must be reckoned with.

Now, on this point I completely agree.  What’s odd, though, is that this appeal is often made by people who seem completely unconcerned with Jesus’ opinion until it appears He sides with them.  This looks suspiciously like special pleading.  If, for example, Jesus had condemned the behavior in question, would that make a differenceto the challenger?  If not, then why bring Jesus into the discussion at all?

So, first I want to point out that if Jesus’ opinion on any one issue matters, maybe we should take His counsel on other things for the same reason.

For example, even if we have no record of Jesus’ thoughts on, say homosexuality, did He weigh in on the closely related issue of marriage?  He did, it turns out:  From the beginning, God designed, endorsed, and intended marriage and sex (“one flesh”) solely for long term, monogamous, heterosexual unions (Matt. 19:4-5). Shouldn’t this teaching of Jesus’ have a legitimate bearing on the debate, if His opinion really matters? Continue reading

Eight Bible Interpretations That Make Me Scream

black-woman-screamingAs a follow up to this post on caricatures that drive me nuts, I thought I should highlight interpretations of passages that have that same effect.  Now these are not about differing opinions that can have some validity. Rather, its interpretations that I think really miss what is being communicated and another meaning is imposed that is foreign to what the original author intended. Typically, I find the reasons for this are 1) not considering what the word means in that cultural and/or literary context 2) not considering what the passage means in light of what the author is trying to communicate 3) not considering the genre of literature and 4) not correlating it with the whole of Scripture and how that relates to God’s redemptive plan accomplished in the Son.

So in no particular order…

1) John 10:3-4 – the small still voice:

Placing Jesus’ use of voice in consideration of what he is revealing about himself, the voice is not a speaking voice but the ability to respond to him in faith according to who he is. How do I know this? First, he says it is a figure of speech (vs. 6); Second, based on his explanation of the shepherd and the gate (vv 7-18), he is identifying the contrast between those who do not believe in him and those that do believe. Hearing his voice is a metaphor for believing.

2) Proverbs 29:18 – find your vision:

The word there is actually used for revelation, which refers to God’s self-disclosure not our discovery of something we think God wants us to do.  Revelation in that context meant the word of the Lord that related to his authority and and communication concerning himself and his intentions. To put it in a contemporary setting would mean that wherever there is no proclamation of the biblical message (word of the Lord)the people perish. Continue reading