Excerpts from Jesse's letter dated 10-13-03
... for the Bible tells us to study to show thyself approved of God. So we are to know the Word of God. And we are not to add to His Word. Pr. 30:6, Deut. 4:2, Rev. 22:18-19, Gal. 1:6-9. It is a awful thing to fall into the hands of a living God, to spend eternity in torment by not abiding to His teachings. We are not to go by what we think, or believe. But, to study and see just what the Bible teaches. For there are many false teachers in this world.
Now I am just trying to tell you what I find in God's word. [For I cannot find this rapture in the Bible, nor the thousand year reign in God's Word as noted on included tracts]. For I can only give you what I can find that the Bible teaches. I know this may not fall in line with what you have been taught. But I wish you would check it out with an open mind to see if what I am saying is so... I use the King James Bible...
In responding, we are careful to limit our source to the Word of God. At issue here, we believe, is the literal versus symbolic
interpretation of prophecy, a key cause of division among brothers.
Truly, I'm not at all surprised by your response. I am a classic example of a dispensationalist pre-millennial pre-tribulational conservative evangelical Christian that just happens to be bold enough to put his views in print for all to see. I honor and respect your views, and believe that I can articulate my position without offending you or causing division between us. This may take a while, but you have asked me where I see these things in God's word, and I'm quite willing to point out what I see as the source of the differences.
I take God's word literally. Most of us pre-tribulationists do. That means, if the literal sense of a passage makes sense, I seek no other sense. Scripture interprets scripture, so all passages which use the same words or sentence structures should be compared with one another to gain the sense of the meaning. No place is this more important than in prophetic passages.
If the passage says, (Rev.7:3)" Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. 4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. 5 Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. 6 Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nephthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. 7 Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. 8 Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand,"...
then I'm quite content to believe that is what it means. That passage is not speaking of, describing, or in any way referring to the church. It is a group of men from Israel. Only by reading into that passage things which are not there can you see the church. And to me, that's a lot like adding to God's word. This passage is also one reason to accept the fact that the church has been taken away prior to the 7-year tribulation, for what would its purpose be? God has sealed His witnesses because the church is not around to do the job... the church age has ended (more dispensationalist thought).
The church four times received the promise to be spared tribulation: Rom. 5: 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 1Thes 1:10 And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come. 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ. Rev. 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
To say that the true church of blood-bought believers will endure the wrath of God is to controvert these promises. What sort of symbolism from non-literal interpretation can take that which is black and make it white? I simply do not understand. Literally speaking, there is abundant evidence that we are not subjected to the punishment of sinful, rebellious man... to think that way would be a horrible affront to the precious blood of Christ, shed on Calvary to pay for our sins; indeed, what sins must we now pay for ourselves? Do you know?
God is not the author of confusion, my friend (1 Cor. 14:33). I have heard it to be considered an unacademic, simplistic mind that is willing to look at the Bible in this literal way... that is perfectly acceptable for me. The literal approach to scripture is the only one that makes sense to me. The reason I wrote "After the Rapture" is conviction... assurance that these things will indeed come to pass one day. And, not being willing to stand idly by whilst the unbelieving world perishes, I wanted to leave something to point them in the right direction.
I'm not out to undermine your doctrinal convictions, but I am out to share with those who are left behind some answers to their questions. This can be looked at from several perspectives, but you can take comfort in knowing that no one will be asking those questions, if indeed the Rapture does not happen. You can also take comfort in knowing that someone has addressed the issue from scripture, if in fact it does happen.
I stand by what I wrote, and I'm not going to write a theological treatise explaining my view. The paper by Mr. Delton Haun (tract entitled "Is there going to be a rapture?")
accurately portrays the pre-trib, pre-mil view, but cannot address the issue because it assumes a non-literal interpretation of scripture. It's sort of like describing the stunning colors of a sunset to a colorblind person... without the physical capacity to see color, there is no common frame of reference. When prophecy is interpreted symbolically, whatever the interpreter thinks is valid. That's why I hold to a painfully literal reading of all scripture. I can't understand why the post-trib folks hold to literal readings of soteriology, Christology, history... and then resort to symbolical readings of prophecy. It just doesn't make sense to me. Have you any thoughts on this?
If you feel that these things which I hold are indeed untrue, and do not faithfully represent the word of God, as the tracts you included for me would indicate, then I accept your view and in no wise would seek to change it. If, however, these things do indeed come to pass, what means of explaining these events, to those going through your belongings, have you considered? As a believer in Christ, the Rapture will take you along too, whether you expect it or not. I stand firm on the conviction that one must "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness."
(2 Tim. 15, 16)
And this is where my studies have led me. I've learned a lot about being sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in my brief half-century on this earth. I've lived on both sides of righteousness, with bane or blessing resulting from my spurning or submitting to the entreaty of God's Holy Spirit. I claim no special revelation from God, but I know what I've experienced, and I know what it means to hear the Spirit's call.
As we address our doctrinal differences, the main point of contention, as I see it, comes with the concept of the resurrection of the body of Christ, that is, the Church, both living and dead, as a separate event from the resurrection of the damned. Rev. 20:4,5. "4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection".
God sometimes takes His good old time in completing things. The ģISī is italicized, which indicates it is not in the original. The thought, therefore, is "this completes the first resurrection", the stages of which began with Christ, (to wit, 1 Cor. 15:20 "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the first-fruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. 24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.") immediately followed by the saints of Matthew 27:52 "And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53 And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many", next the Rapture, 1 Thes. 4:16 "For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
In the middle of the tribulation the two witnesses of Rev 11 will be raised, and now the tribulation hour saints are raised in Rev. 20:4, and the resurrection of the righteous is completed. Here also we see the thousand years, after which the resurrection of the damned takes place.
Christ Himself spoke of separate resurrections in John 5:29 "And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."
To make them one event is to deny scripture, unless some sort of symbolic interpretation makes this mean something else, in which case I have no clue.
The one thousand years is literal as well. Rev 20:2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. 4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. 7 And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison."
Five times in that passage the thousand years are referred to, and the context is literal. If this were figurative I would expect to read something like, "as it were, a thousand years" or "what seemed like a thousand years." But the plain sense reading makes sense, so I'm willing to take it at face value, as I quoted in my article. This really isn't rocket science, and it takes much more faith than I have to be able to read "a thousand years" five times in that passage and think it means something other than a thousand years. But then again, non-literal interpretation apparently allows this, and I am simply not smart enough, neither brazen enough to presume it means something symbolic, when the plain sense makes sense.
I believe that anyone who takes liberties of this manner has put themselves in a dangerous position with the One Who wrote it in the first place. Peter tells us of the source: 2 Peter 1:19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: 20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. 21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
Indeed, we both have a high view of the authority of God's written word, and yet you would warn me of adding to it. My concern is that your non-literal interpretation has accomplished the same. Are we at an impasse, is there no common ground upon which to dialog? I don't think that is the case, my brother, for the love of Christ bonds us, and we would be dupes of Satan to allow discord in these matters.
So, Jesse, there are many differences in our view of things, and I've just scratched the surface. From a literal perspective, the reasoning for my view is sound, and would invite you to study the subject. I have studied post-tribulationalism concepts and have found them to be inconsistent with a literal interpretation of scripture. There is one thing for sure... the occurrence of the rapture will put all this to rest. I think it will happen soon, and that is why I've written the article.
As for KJV only, I commend your views. Myself, I do not think and reason in Elizabethan English, and neither does the world around me. It would have been most interesting if the New York Times, reporting on the recent ferryboat accident, had referred to the ferryboat pilot as James did; "whithersoever the governor listeth".
Beautiful oration, undoubtedly, but how many folks, reading the paper, would have captured the meaning? I always cross-reference texts to the KJV in my Bible study... that is how one gains understanding. For sake of this discussion I've used only KJV references, and will continue to do so in all my conversation and study with you.
Why God has ordained that some would follow one eschatological interpretation, and some another, is truly beyond me. As someone has well said, "If both of us agreed on everything, then one of us would be unnecessary!"