Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Rapture Question #3

OK, I hope you have ask yourself the questions I gave you in session 1 and 2. It's essential that you have a clear understanding about who you are in Christ and what you believe about His Word (the Bible)

Late in His earthly ministry, our Lord Jesus Christ dealt with this same searching question from His Disciples. In Matthew 24:3 they ask; "What shall be the sign of they coming, and of the end of the world?" So this question has been around for a long time and every generation since Christ Ascension has been asking this very probing question. Well, in answering this question, our Lord said (prohesied) (predicted) certain major events which would be signs of the second advent. This period of time in general was described as a time of "Great Tribulation". In His prophecy he exhorted those living in Palestine at that time to "flee unto the mountains" Matthew 24:16 He made it very clear how people should respond to this very terrible time. "Let him tha is on the housetop not go down to take out the things that are in the house: and let him that is in the field not return back to take his cloak. But woe unto them that are with child and to them that give suck in those days! And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath: for then shall be great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days had been shortened, no flesh would have been saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened." Matthew 24:17-24
Wow! Sounds like things are really going to get difficult, don't it. We really can't imagine the real content of what Jesus is saying.
However, to earnest spirit-filled believers in these scriptures who are actually looking for the return of Christ, these prohetic words raise important questions. Does this awful period of trail predicted by Christ, lie between us and the end of this present age? In other words, does the church have to go through the Great Tribulation? This has been a question since the very beginning of the Church and if so, this becomes a major problem of Christian faith. In our day, when the authority of the Bible is disputed and many deny the infallibility of Scripture, some feel there is little profit in debating eschatology. They say why improve the building if the foundation is not sure? The question of whether the church will go through the tribulation is not as trivial and academic a question as some would make it. It is rather an issue with great practical and doctrinal implications. While it is not as far-reaching in Biblical interpretation as the doctrines of the inspiration of Scripture, the deity of Christ, the substitutionary atonement,or the premillennial interpretation as a whole, one's understanding of the tribulation is an essential factor in any detailed program of the future. It's not only in principle of interpretation, but also greater understanding of Doctrines.
The interpretation of the Scriptures relative to the coming tribulation is important to believing Christians. The revelation concerning the tribulation is found in many passages in the Old and New Testaments and includes a major part of the Book of Revelation. Until, we understand the nature of the tribulation, we will never understand the Rapture and we will never be able to discuss out intelligent exegesis. This is where most confusion in the whole prophetic future comes from, therefore the base question of whether the church goes through the tribulation is a major factor in the interpretaion of the tribulation itself. The study of the tribulation also is a major theological issue and one issue is do we interpret scripture by the literal method, or by nonliteral, spiritualizing method?
Another issue or major factor is the seperation of divine programs for Israel and the church and then there's the larger issue of amillennialism versus premillennialism. As you can see, this is a bigger issue than most think. It's deeper than any of us can imagine as we look into these aspects of eschatology.
Finally for this writting, let's consider this: The nature of the tribulation is one of practical importance. If the church is destined to endure the persecutions of the tribulation, it is futile to proclaim the coming of the Lord as an imminent hope.