Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Answering John Pat Donovan

Mark 13:24-27; These are why I have a problem with pre trib rapture. please shed some light here. These scriptures seem to put forth a clear order of how and in what order the end time events will happen, starting with the tribulation, the sun and moom quit giving light, stars falling from the sky, then Christ coming in the clouds in great power and glory, AND THEN He will send the angels to gather his elect from the ends of the earth and heaven. This seams to be put in very specific order. Am I reading it incorrectly?

First let me say in answer to your last question, no. You are not reading it correctly. Let me explain.

First of all, let's establish the ground rules of this discussion by defining exposition of scripture. A very brief and tight definition of biblical exposition is: expose the original and intended meaning of the biblical writer through established rules of exegetical hermeneutics and aptly apply that original meaning to twenty-first century listeners/readers.

Second, when one fails to understand this, error is often the result. It is easy to develop aberrant theology or develop aberrant theological positions when one fails to interpret scripture properly.

Third, I think the majority of the confusion centers on the word "elect." But there are other clues that are missed in this passage.

The word "elect" is not limited to the church age and to the people who are saved during that period. Christ is referred to as the elect one, Israel is called the elect, and there will be elect during the tribulation and even in the kingdom period. This passage does not refer to the church or the church age at all. 

One, Paul taught in his letters to the Thessalonians that Christ would come for his church. Not angels. No where in the scripture does it state that angels will come for the church. However, angels will be used of God at the end of the tribulation period to harvest the wheat from among the tares. Angels will gather together those who have entered become believers as a result of the preaching of the 144,000 Jews. Those believers will be gathered by the angels and taken to be with Christ during a 75 day period between the ending of the tribulation and the beginning of the 1,000 kingdom. From the Matthew passage we see that these same angels will also harvest the tares or the lost at the end of the tribulation and they will be cast into hell. John taught that unless one was born again (literally born from above) one could not see or enter the kingdom of God. So those who remain un-redeemed at the end of the tribulation period must be removed prior to the beginning of the kingdom.

If you jump ahead, particularly in Matthew 24:36-44, you see this harvest by the angels illustrated. There are "men in the field." One is taken away. Where is he taken? He is taken away in judgment to hell. The one who is left in the field is left to enter the kingdom. Two women are grinding corn at a mill, one is taken and one is left. One woman is taken away into judgment and the other woman is left to enter the kingdom.

This is a picture of what takes place at the end of the tribulation. The angels come to take the wicked to judgment and to gather those who were saved during the tribulation, the elect to the central location of Christ. Notice, the angels are not said to "take" the elect or "remove" them. The angels scour the earth from all directions gathering those who have been saved during the tribulation and bring them to where Jesus is. Some are probably hiding in caves, holes, valleys, forests, and any other hiding place throughout the earth. Now the tribulation has ended, the wicked are removed and the elect are gathered from all over the earth to be in the presence of the victorious Jesus.

Fourth carefully look at what precedes this paragraph and what comes after this paragraph and see who is being spoken of. The church is not referenced in the immediate or greater context. This passage is dealing with Israel. Don't be surprised that those who are saved during the tribulation are also called elect. All those who have been chosen by God for salvation are known as the elect regardless of the period in which they were saved.

Always read the scripture with a literal, historical, grammatical, cultural, and contextual point of reference. When read literally, taking in consideration the existince of figurative language at times, the scritpure teaches that the church will be raptured, the tribulation will ensue for seven years, and then the kingdom will be ignaugureated, and then final judgement. I know that this will not "gell" with reformed or covenant theology. but of course covenant and reformed hermeneutics do not utilize a literal hermeneutics.


Pat Donovan said...

Thank you brother you will be pleased to know that John Macarther agrees with you, I've been listening lot to his sermons on this subject since i asked that question. Lack of understanding was more my issue than reformed theology.

Arlee Bird said...

As always, a thorough presentation. I've always been in the belief that the taken and left idea meant the one was taken by the rapture and the other left behind to endure the tribulation. Are you saying otherwise? What is your thought on the theology presented in books like the Left Behind series?

Also what is your thought on "sin" still being present during the 1000 years? I'm of the understanding that Satan will be bound during that time, but recently I heard the suggest that during the 1000 years some will again fall away. I seem to recall some scripture being used to defend this but now I can't find that. Just wondering if you know anything about this or have I misunderstood something or been given incorrect information?

Tossing It Out

Gregg Metcalf said...

Thanks Lee. I try. Yes. That passage comes after the end of the tribulation not before. You do not want to be the one taken. That person is taken to judgment as I said. So I am saying otherwise. I think those who teach that passage as a picture of the rapture have not done their homework.

As far as the left behind series I am no fan of the author (s). I have never read the series. I would think that they are on the line of any Arminian, non-expositional exegete with wild imagination and speculation.

Yes, sin will eventually become into the kingdom. You see there are two avenues of entrance into the 1000 kingdom. First, those in heaven who return with Christ at the end of the trib will enter the kingdom. Those who are redeemed during the trib and "walk" into the kingdom. Those OT saints and the church saints come to the kingdom with glorified bodies and will not reproduce during the kingdom. However, those who are redeemed in the trib and walk into the kingdom will be in normal bodies, like yours and mine. They will reproduce just like today. The off spring will be born with sin natures. Some will be drawn to Christ in the kingdom and others will not. Those who are not drawn will sin and will be part of those whom Satan leads in a final rebellion at the end of the kingdom period. No redeemed person will fall away ever! That is not biblical teaching. There will be born children who mature into adult hood in the kingdom who will sin.

I believe from what you said, that in some of these areas you have been mis taught.

Mike said...

When we combine a LITERAL hermaneutic (since you say we Reformers don't like literal hermaneutics) of three passages, (Matthew 13:24-30, John 5:28-29, and 1Cor 15:50-53) we get a notion that there is one trumpet and one harvest.

What I still fail to see is a secret rapture, a taking away of the bride from the rest of the unbelieving planet, either before, during, or following tribulation, . It LITERALLY looks to me like ALL who are in their graves will be changed in an instant. The "wheat and tares" parable seems to indicate this gathering of the harvest (the redeemed and the unredeemed) will be a simultaneous one. Literally!

I don't see any logical rationale that suggests the Church will be spared from any kind of turmoil or tribulation, something I think you agree with (based on how I'm understanding your view). So, in that point, I agree with you.

I'm not arguing these points as if to say, "My view is the only correct one, and all others are aberrant theology" or are "aberrant theological positions". Instead, this is one of those peripheral areas where we cannot be so dogmatic about what will happen, so that we begin pointing at others, suggesting their position is "aberrant theology." To say so implies all other views on these debatable issues are a result of "fail[ing] to interpret scripture properly."

Please be careful in this, my brother.

Gregg Metcalf said...


First of all thanks for taking your time to read and comment; I truly appreciate it.

Second, thank you for reminding me to be careful. The last thing I want to do is sin against a brother.

However, having said that in all honesty and sincerity I believe that many (not all) disenting opinions trot out the warning about being dogmatic on positions that disagree with theirs.

Dogmatic means "characterized by or given to the expression of opinions very strongly or positively as if they were facts."

My theology pertaining to eschatology is not my opinion presented as facts. My eschatalogical theology is based on sound principles of a literal, grammatical, historical, cultural, and contextual rules of hermeneutics. I would never put forth my opinion strongly or positively as facts if they were not facts.

These points are a place where we as both brothers and friends must simply and lovingly disagree.

I believe you have faulty positions. You believe I have faulty positions.

These areas are not debatable. Those who maintain a different set of hermeneutics or interpretation want them to be deemed debatable to leave room for their interpretation. Nor are they peripheral areas. I don't think the Holy Spirit wasted his time with peripheral areas. I know I have lamented more than once that I wish He had been more clearer and detailed in some places! That is a fact.

Lastly, I am fallible. I am a man. I have been wrong and one thing I can guarantee you is that one day I will be wrong again. I constantly pray that if any portion of my theology is faulty that God will straiten me out!

After 40+ years of study, debate, reading, praying, listening, learning,etc, I find that these truths are not debatable dogma (opinions strongly or forecefully presented as facts.

So, brother, we simply disagree. Since these are not issues that effect soteriology, Christology, or theology, then I am good with that.

You are both my brother and friend.