Christian persecution is common worldwide. In America, Christianity has enjoyed a relatively safe haven until recently. Under the new guidance of the anonymous Puppet Dictatorship, you might expect Christians soon to become an endangered species. According to the...
Here’s Why American Churches Are Dying
Having just recently moved to Arizona, I’ve been seeking a new church body to partake in some good Christian fellowship. Optimistically, I started attending a local church body and just listened quietly for a few weeks, hoping to hear God’s truths proclaimed. It’s been said that anyone who attends seminary is cursed for life because the more we study God’s word, the more we realize how badly mankind needs a savior. I have been cursed.
At the beginning of the last worship service, I felt somewhat blessed. We sang a few spiritual songs, and had a few seconds of prayer. I forced myself to ignore the enigma of the preacher suddenly wearing a face mask at the beginning of the service, but then he removed it, and talked about how his step-father had just died of Covid. Yes, he went to the hospital for an unrelated problem, but at the hospital, he was diagnosed with Covid. He had none of the symptoms, and he was not all that ill on his way to the hospital. But since he was diagnosed with Covid, he was treated for Covid. Then he died in the hospital… of Covid. Supposedly.
Then came the sermon. The scripture passage was not just any passage; it was Matthew 24:36-44. This text historically has always been very straightforward, until 1830 when Margaret MacDonald reported having a vision, and suddenly the concept of a rapture was born. This teaching was propagated by John Darby and others, and then later resurrected by Hal Lindsey (The Late Great Planet Earth) and Tim LaHaye, who profited greatly from his Left Behind series. Two handles exist in this gospel passage taken from what is called the “Olivet Discourse,” so called because Jesus spoke these words to His disciples on the Mount of Olives. (A handle is a statement that is so clear it cannot possibly be misunderstood.) In this passage, Jesus adamantly stated that nobody knows the day or hour when He will return to earth again. No human. Not even the angels in heaven. Only the Father knows. So if anyone tells you that Jesus’s second coming is on such and such a date, at this specific hour, you can know with confidence that this person is a false teacher.
The second handle is that Christ’s return will be “as the days of Noah.” Jesus describes ordinary life happening “until the day that Noah entered the ark…until the flood came and took them all away” (verses 38-39). In other words, the return of our Lord will be unexpected in the same way that the people of Noah’s time were surprised when it started to rain. Somehow, Tim LaHaye seemed to miss this passage. Or maybe he ignored it. Who was taken away? And who was left behind? If words have meaning, then anyone can read that the wicked were “taken away,” and the righteous were “left behind.” If you don’t grab that handle, then you will likely believe the popular but opposing current teaching. The controversy arises from the next two verses (40-41). “Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken, and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken, and the other left. The most logical conclusion is already implied, and it will happen on the day of Christ’s return.
Sadly, the preacher didn’t even discuss these verses. He only mentioned, “there are two opinions about this passage, and both are right.” He didn’t even define what those two opinions were: a rapture, or no rapture. This is called being a crowd-pleaser, or at least an offender of none. He simply avoided the passage altogether. That is no way to deal with scripture. One thing is certain; the Lord did not offer two opinions about what He said. He said one thing, and He meant one thing. Just as do you and me when we speak in daily discourse. (Okay, that may not be entirely true of politicians, but you get the point.) The preacher concluded that we should all just be nice and accept each other’s views.
To be sure, we are warned not to argue contentiously over debatable things. But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t also seek the true meaning of a passage. It has consequences. To completely ignore scripture for the sake of preserving the peace is a cop-out. It is the compromise of preserving one’s own hide.
At the end of the outdoor service, the preacher once again donned his mask and stated he was bolting out the back door because he was self-quarantining. Please forgive me, but I followed him and reached out my hand for a shake. Surprisingly, he took it and shook my hand. After offering my condolences, I asked him if his mention in his prayer of “things that don’t seem to make any sense” was a reference to his step-father going to the hospital for one thing, and then being told he has Covid, and then getting treated for Covid and dying unexpectedly. He immediately bristled and stated, “I don’t want to talk about it.” Hmmm! Like the Noah passage? I thought. Then I asked if his father had been vaccinated? “Yes, a year ago.” Did he ever hear about the NIH hospital Covid protocol? “Yes, but I don’t want to talk about it.” He then informed me in no certain terms that he would not discuss the matter further.
Just like the Olivet discourse. A very serious problem arises from people refusing to discuss issues of potentially serious or grave consequence. Some people would say that believing in a pre-tribulation rapture, or not, makes no difference. But it does. It affects the way we think and act. If we believe that God is going to take us out of this world before things get really bad, then we have no incentive to expose and fight evil. We tend to become spiritual sloths. Lamps without oil. To say we trust God, and use that misguided trust as an excuse to do nothing that God commands us is shallow, to say the least. Such a statement as “I don’t want to talk about it” means that we cannot handle the truth. In that same Olivet discourse, Jesus said, “He who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13). That flies in the face of a rapture, and it argues for steadfastness in the days of tribulation, which are the days of our lives.
If church leaders refuse to discuss science, politics, psychology, sociology, and even the Bible in its entirety, then we have a serious problem on our hands. Such pulpit pythons are promoting the perpetual pandemic, sustaining Marxist thinking, quietly or overtly endorsing abortion, playing the silent treatment with those of their flock, and doing a great disservice to the Lord’s word, which is meant to change our lives. This is precisely why American churches are dying. The ostrich mentality has to go.
This is why taking every word of advice and instruction — or the lack thereof — from the pulpit without questioning it can be as deadly as taking the mRNA vaccine. The orators should always be challenged and tested, lest otherwise we blindly follow, stumble and fall. The only way to preserve a dying church is to contend for the truth. The same goes for science or any other discipline. To ignore truth is to expose a fragile veneer. To seek it is genuine; to find it is hope. To grasp it is life. And eternal life is the genuine and unfailing hope of the church. Never be afraid to confront the whole truth of scripture, because it leads to Paradise. And it restores life to the churches. We should be the life of the church, because we are the church.
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Well, Dr. Steve has just trotted out the old John Nelson Darby started the pre-trib doctrine propaganda again, even though it’s been debunked about ten thousand times by now. I’ve done the research on Darby’s life and I can tell you for a fact that Darby got his doctrine from the Bible – not some poor Scottish lass named Margaret McDonald. No matter how many times and how completely these lies get debunked some “authority” who hates the pre-trib doctrine is always putting them forward again to discredit what is a very scripturally based and sound teaching. If you don’t want to believe it that’s fine but don’t resort to these thoroughly debunked lies and the character assassination of by almost all accounts a very Godly man. As a pastor who has studied these things for over 40 years I would caution you not to take the word of Dr. Steve on these things, be a Berean and study them for yourself. And if you somehow think it’s more noble or spiritual to want to go through the Great Tribulation then have at it. I’ll keep watching for Jesus Christ, you can keep watching for Antichrist. Let me know how that works out for you. “Woe to you who desire the day of the Lord, For what good is the day of the Lord to you? It will be darkness, and not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion. And a bear met him! Or as though he went into the house, leaned his hand on the wall, And a serpent bit him! Is not the day of the Lord darkness, and not light? Is it not very dark, with no light in it?” AMOS 5:18-20. “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our lord Jesus Christ.” 1st Thessalonians 5:4-9. If you want to disprove a Biblical teaching do it from scripture. I’ve seen some pretty good arguments against the pre-trib doctrine from real Theologians, though never one that was strong enough to change my mind about it. But for Jesus’ sake stop using these lies to persuade people. As I said before, they have were completely debunked many years ago. And one last thing – I’d advise you to do some research on Ephraim the Syrian (306-370 A.D.}. He is considered to be one of the early Church fathers and some of his sermons have recently been translated. They contain at least 10 more references to his belief in a pre-trib rapture. to add to the previous one that Grant Jeffrey found in one of his sermons years ago.
Wherever it came from – it is wrong, and if you are alive then, be prepared it’s going to get rough. The headwinds are coming. Don’t expect the easy way out to be true. Hope for the best, but expect the worst – because, if you are wrong, you won’t be ready for the tide of evil that is coming. Why did Christ, in revelation even tell you about the Tribulation and the Antichrist if you won’t be here? What would be the point?
Why is the Church not mentioned again after Revelation chapter 3? Also, the Bible proclaims the church is the bride of Christ. Now explain who when you dated your beloved spouse if you have one, if you were engaged to marry. Did she love getting beat up BEFORE the wedding?
Where has it been “debunked”?
Who believed in a pre-tribulation rapture in the 1700s? Or the 1600s? Or the 1500s? Did any of the Puritans, or the Reformers, ever advocate for that interpretation? Or the Roman Catholic Church? Or the Eastern Orthodox Church?
The fact that you have to reach back to an obscure Syrian from the 4th century to find someone who agrees with you does not argue well for your point.
Perhaps you are confusing premillenarianism with pre-tribulation rapture. There is a history of the former – not the latter.
Your eisegetical interpretation of the word “wrath” in 1 Thessalonians 5:9 is the worst part of your post – twisting that word to mean escape from tribulation, other than what it clearly means everywhere else. The alternative to wrath – in that very verse – is not rapture, it is salvation.
The worst thing about radical dispensational theology is the eisegetical nature of it.
So, just coming back to my original question, can you please provide some examples of how this assertion about Darby has been debunked? I’m willing to learn.
One more thing… I would agree with you that John Nelson Darby was a godly man.
Disagreeing with someone does not equate to character assassination. I don’t understand why you made that allegation.
Amen about the ‘character assassination’ which is a sin to commit against a fellow believer!
Matt 24 is for the Jews & speaks of the Tribulation period…the Born again Believer’s will be gone at this point…
I suggest it is the new Calvinists the Reformed sect of Christianity in its many forms that have infiltrated the church. The don’t even believe the gospel! They say there is no free will and people are selected by God to go to heaven or hell without any cooperation, faith from the individual. A false gospel is no gospel at all. “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:15 (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
People who don’t believe in the rapture often don’t because of two reasons:
Both create personal bias and eventual disbelief.
Your’s is the best answer, I think. I was taught to not believe in a rapture but after having read the Bible through from beginning to end every year for over 20 years, I see a rapture every time now but don’t really see all the details concerning it, just hints of what will take place.
Yes, there is a Rapture, you would need to ignore 1-Thessalonians-4 in order and revise many other Biblical texts.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
(16) the dead in Christ will be the first to rise.
(17) After that, we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
1 Thessalonians 4 (Rapture/Harpazo)
Jesus appears in the heavens
Revelation 19 (2nd coming)
Jesus returns to earth.
1 Thessalonians 4 (Rapture/Harpazo)
Jesus returns “for” his Church
Revelation 19 (2nd coming)
Jesus returns “with” his Church
1 Thessalonians 4 (Rapture/Harpazo)
Jesus comes as a savior to deliver his Church from the wrath
Revelation 19 (2nd coming)
Jesus returns as a warrior coming against the enemies of God
1 Thessalonians 4 (Rapture/Harpazo)
Jesus appears in grace
Revelation 19 (2nd coming)
Jesus appears in wrath
1 Thessalonians 4 (Rapture/Harpazo)
Jesus appears as the Groom for the Bride ~ his Church.
Revelation 19 (2nd coming)
Jesus returns as the king of kings, lord of lords.
1 Thessalonians 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.”
1 Thessalonians 5:9
“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,”
“God has not appointed us to wrath”. Whose wrath? God’s wrath, which does not come until after the Tribulation.
Thank you that….
The Rapture…I will be caught up to meet my Savior “in the air”. Christ will not come to earth (touch down). This is NOT the Second Coming.
Second Coming…Christ will return (touch down) and destroy the Antichrist and False Prophet at Battle of Armageddon after the 7-year Tribulation. Here, I will return with my Savior who will be seen by ALL the World as Lord of Lords and King of Kings! Hallelujah!
Well said, Steve!! Hope the church will listen.
Years ago I had thought that someone of the Christian faith would rise in America and challenge many of the things that are being pushed on us. Our laity are not up to the job apparently. I mean, if we would (and we have) accept the killings of our own species as a form of birth control would we not accept virtually any and everything thrown at us? I am disappointed in our ministers of the Gospel.
Well, well, well, we already know your preference when you go to church. Don’t talk about the harpazo Greek for Rapture. Secondly you don’t really know why churches are failing and it is not this subject, it is what Paul said in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, but the Reformed sect of today’s Christianity says this has already been fulfilled because they say it was the Roman Catholic Church, and the pope is anti-Christ. If Christians would read the Bible for themselves, obtain a good Bible Dictionary, and a Strong’s Concordance they would be equipped for lies they hear in the church. Basically, the churches are full of people who are not born again! Additionally, Satan has inspired many false Bible translations such as ‘The Message’, ‘The Renovare Bible’, the Roman Catholic approved Bibles which are many based on their Westcott and Hort disciples. Lastly, the gospel is not getting preached,,,”How that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures and that he was buried and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures. ” 1 Corinthians 15:3b-4. Folks we are in a great Apostasy! The new preachers today say there is going to be a great awakening, but most of those people don’t even know the gosple!
I believe churches are dying b/c they have substituted performance and fun for the Word. Very few ministries dig deeply into the word. One of the best expositors I have ever read, who could communicate Truth to the common man, was A.W. Pink, and I didn’t need to query his writings about his eschatology. He had so much to impart about so many other important doctrines. Not that we shouldn’t study eschatology, we should, but it’s not among the 7 most important doctrines of the Bible.
A.W. Pink taught calvinistic doctrine and did not himself obey the gospel message preached by the Apostles. I question why people recommend people to seek wisdom from men who have ANOTHER GOSPEL than the one preached by the Apostles – to which Paul clearly condemned.
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
As far as eschatology being NOT among the 7 most important doctrines of the bible…scripture also speaks contrary to you in this matter as well.
(11) Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.
(12) For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
(13) For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.
(14) But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
(1) Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
(2) Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
(3) And this will we do, if God permit.
Where are the 7 doctrines found? I’ve never heard of this.
Satan spoke through Peter. Just like he did through Mr Steve today. The father of lies can work through any of us if we arent careful. However, me and the Holy Spirit will agree with one thing he said today: “anyone who attends seminary is cursed for life”
Dr. Steve’s argument is that we shouldn’t believe in the Pre-Trib Rapture because it may impact how we live? Sorry. I will live according the Scripture and the truth it gives, and not according to what any human tells me about his societal concerns.
Agree with the first responder….the misnomer of Darby and Margaret are just fodder. If one wants to look no further than people before them who mentioned ‘pre-trib’ rapture concerns,
(1) one must look to the Thessalonians who thought they had missed the Rapture….which is why Paul discusses with them some things depicting before/after Rapture.
(2) One must also look to the Scriptures in regards to the ‘language’ used by Jesus in describing the last days…and other discussions: He uses marriage terminology. If one follows the Galileean marriage ceremony details one will see ‘Pre-trib’ Rapture.
I can go on and on about it being Jacob’s Trouble, Christians not being given over to “God’s wrath” (we aren’t talking of tribulation as Jesus says we will have tribulation in this world, God’s wrath is different from tribulation), imminency, etc. I am sure Post-tribbers know these Pre-tribber talking points. One of the items I would like to point out, though, is if we have to go through the Tribulation then:
A) we will know the day and the hour because the Bible points out the days, timeframe concerning the time of God’s Wrath.
B) If we have to go through God’s wrath/punishment, then why did Jesus die? He took all our punishment upon himself so that we could avoid such punishment by the Lord. We could avoid hell, and hell on earth.
One of the things I will say that may also give a different point of view, is I do not believe it makes us lazy, if we don’t know the day or hour, then we as watchman are more on guard. If we know we only have so much time, then we will wait until the last minute. Everyone who has been to college or had some sort of test knows people will procrastinate.
“A person who is demoralized is unable to assess true information. Even if I shower him with information, with authentic proof, with documents, with pictures; if I take him by force to the USSR and show him a gulag, he will refuse to believe it”
– Yuri Bezmenov, KGB defector
Maybe post-tribbers aren’t demoralized, but this quote seems to be pertinent.
some of the talking points I agree with in that pastors aren’t teaching the full gospel, prophecy itself is neglected. Pastors are taking it easy, agreed, as a whole.
All mistakes made in understanding scripture stem from mis-understanding the book of Genesis chapter 3 verse 13.
You know this as: “And the LORD God said to the woman, what is this that thou hast done? And the woman replied, the serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.”
Talking snake, magic apple. Gotcha.
What if “serpent” was actually “Satan”? Is there anyone that can’t make this leap?
What if “beguiled” came from the Hebrew word “nawshaw” and really meant “seduced”?
What if “did eat” came from the Hebrew word “awkal” and really meant “to lay with”, as in “sexually”?
What if Genesis 3:13 actually said “And Yahweh God said to the woman, what is this that thou hast done? And the woman replied, SATAN SEDUCED me, and I did LAY WITH HIM.” ???
What if there wasn’t 1 people from the time of Genesis, but rather 2 seedlines?
1 of Adam…
1 of CAIN and thus of LUCIFER?
Would this possibly provide new meaning to John 8:44, when he said to the Pharisees (Canaanites), “YOU ARE OF YOUR FATHER THE DEVIL”? And in other places, where he says “YE ARE NOT OF MY FLOCK.” and, “YOU ARE NOT OF YAHWEH!”
What if there were 2 seedlines from the time of Genesis and you simply aren’t AWARE of it…
Or of who the “Israelites” REALLY ARE?
This guy is clueless. Never mind him. Let him stick with politics. Read Revelation Unveiled and you will understand MUCH better.