This article first ran in 2015
Through out the centuries, God has had various ways He has dealt with mankind. In the garden of Eden, there was total innocence, and God walked with Adam and Eve personally in the Garden. But when they disbelieved God about not eating of the fruit of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and Eve was deceived by the serpent, (Adam was not deceived), then with the knowledge of sin, in the next Covenant man was guided by and judged on the basis of conscience. He knew what was evil, and yet, man still sinned. In fact man was so sinful that we don’t even get out of Genesis before God has destroyed all but eight humans in a global flood. And not only that, but still before we get past Genesis, mankind is so rebellious that they have built a monument to themselves in the form of the Tower of Babel under human government, then a period when God made a Covenant with Abraham, and then a different covenant with Moses when He gave the law. At the end of the Old Testament, and through 400 years of silence on God’s part, as far as direct interaction with mankind through prophets, priests and kings, there came a period of excessive Grace. That is the condition that began with Messiah’s death, and is still in place in present time. A term has arisen for these various conditions of God’s dealing with mankind, which is “dispensations” which, like the word Trinity, is not in the Bible, but the principle is clearly established. Same as the word Rapture although that word was in the Latin translations.
The purpose of these different ways and means of dealing with man, has been to prove (to man himself) that under each and every circumstance, that it is not the “environment” that leads to corruption and sin, but rather a condition of the human heart. Even during the Millennial reign of Christ on Earth, when Satan has been imprisoned for a thousand years and thereby unable to deceive the human heart, as soon Satan is released, the scriptures tell us he will succeed in leading yet another (and final) rebellion against the authority of God.
Why will God allow this? Because it will prove that the thoughts of man’s heart are only evil, left to themselves and their own thoughts and devices. Man cannot redeem himself. Man will gravitate toward darkness, rather than light, so there would be no “enlightenment”, no attainment of “godhood”.
All through history, salvation is solely in Jesus, though in the Old Testament, man was tasked with keeping the law, it was not for salvation, but rather for purposes of showing man his own sinfulness and inability to keep it. Their system of sacrifice was merely a pre-figuring of the death of the perfect lamb, Jesus, which at the time was yet future.
It is always important to keep in mind when you are studying scripture, that God revealed His plan for the world and man progressively over time. For instance, Old Testament saints knew that Messiah would be born of Abraham’s seed through the lineage of David, but they knew nothing at all of a future entity called “the church”. When Jesus began His Earthly ministry, the believing Jews knew He was the Messiah, but they didn’t understand initially that the “middle wall of partition” between Jew and non-Jew (Gentile) was to be broken down.
The Apostles knew the destiny of their nation, and they knew all about the Kingdom of Heaven, but they didn’t know (yet) that it would include Gentiles. So they didn’t understand everything Jesus told them at first. They didn’t understand that Jesus didn’t come the first time to take His rightful place on the throne of David in Jerusalem.
Likewise, there are people living now, Christians, churched folks, who don’t understand that the Kingdom of Heaven is not just the church. The Bride is part of the Kingdom, and so are the Old Testament Saints (Hebrews 11 is all about some of them). But old Testament saints are not part of the bride, nor will those who will get saved during the tribulation be part of the Bride. Matthew 8:11, and Luke 13:18 say Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the prophets are all in the Kingdom of God. Understanding the difference between the Kingdom, and the Bride, between Israel and the Church, and between the various Covenants in the Bible, are absolutely essential for anyone who wants to understand about Prophecy in general, but also about the catching away of the Bride. Since these things aren’t taught in church anymore, it is no wonder there is so much confusion.
You can’t study prophecy in Revelation alone, and make any sense of it without studying Daniel, and you can’t understand the ultimate destiny of Israel without studying Zechariah. You can’t make sense of the conditions in the Middle East and the conflict between Ishmael and Isaac without a thorough Old Testament background. Psalm 83, Isaiah 17, and Ezekiel 38 are all part of the culmination of the conflict between Ishmael and Jacob, while that conflict itself is merely a physical and earthly manifestation of the desire of Satan to conquer God and take His place. which Satanic ambition underlies every attack on Israel and Christianity.
It is difficult to make sense of the concepts of Rome, Babylon, Judaism, or the role of Islam without a degree of comprehensive Bible familiarity, and by that, I mean a sort of historical survey of all the events, in their proper order, and in context of (accurate) world history. The Bible, after all, is History, written in advance. A lot of that type knowledge was sort of “a given” back in the days the scriptures were written and preserved, because cultures were preserved by passing down their history orally, and eventually in writing, but recent generations have gotten quite sloppy about the accuracy of history. Man is prone to revising history for reasons of pride. But the scriptures are without error. If you don’t believe that, then you needn’t bother. They can’t be partially accurate. They can’t be partly literal either. Because there is no means for determining which parts are accurate, and not, or which parts are literal and which parts are symbolic or spiritualized.
I began asking the Lord some seventeen or eighteen years ago, to give me a comprehensive grasp of the scope of Scripture. I consider myself to still be in “primary school” in regards to my level of understanding and comprehension of things Biblical, because the treasures of scripture are infinite, however I am grateful when God stokes my appetite for scripture-understanding. That may sound funny, but perhaps you can relate. Do you find there are times you lose your drive to dig in scripture? I find that just like someone who has gotten out of the habit of staying hydrated tends to lose a sense of thirst, and someone who is deprived of food for a very long period may lose the sense of appetite or physical hunger, the same goes with the intake of spiritual nourishment.
I am sad to say that sometimes the very place we go in (theoretical) hopes of having that appetite whetted and stoked, (church) can be the place that extinguishes the desire (by various means). But that is certainly not the only thing that can do it. Giving in to temptation, toying with sin, major disappointments and losses in life, excessive busyness, all sorts of other things can put a damper on our desire to study and learn from scripture. Satan loves that! The more interaction with worldly things that we have, the less we desire the things of the Lord. Allegiance to the church itself, or a denomination or tradition, can also stand in the way of your understanding. So while it is clearly mandated in scripture that we are not to forsake the assembly especially as we see the day approaching (the return of Christ), I can understand the trend toward home fellowships, and also understand why the more solid churches with online ministries, often have a separate “online congregation” in addition to the one that physically attends. We sort of find ourselves in the latter category these days.
Too many professing Christians today are Biblically Illiterate. That can even include some pastors. While there are also pastors who have a grasp on scripture, yet are much too timid or negligent in preaching the whole counsel.
How many of the “Bible Studies” that are offered in affiliation to your church, are based on some book other than the Bible itself? Women’s studies are the worst for this!!! How many of the sermons preached in church this week are part of a series on, say, the book of Isaiah? How many pastors have preached through the Epistles with their congregation? When did preaching and sermons start to be “how to ” seminars, instead of expository teaching of what God has to say to us in His Word?
How many Christians know that there were several Covenants in the Scriptures, and they are of different sorts? God’s covenant in Eden was made during a time of innocence, with promises to Adam and Eve of life and blessing, dominion over animals and all the earth, but was conditional on their obeying the one command not to eat of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and evil. ONE condition, and man failed to keep it! God’s next covenant with Adam was a consequence of the fall, in which God promised enmity between the woman’s seed and Satan, painful childbirth, strife and conflict in marriage and the priorities of the man and the woman, struggle to survive “by the sweat of his brow” for man, and curse of the soil, as well as the introduction of death. But there was grace in it as well, in that it promised that the seed of the woman would crush the serpent. That was unconditional.
There was the covenant with Noah, and the accompanying rainbow, a different covenant with Abraham, another one with Moses, still another with David, and then “The New Covenant” which is also our “New Testament”. The New Covenant fulfilled the Mosaic Covenant.
The Davidic Covenant, the Abrahamic Covenant ( To make Abram a great nation, and the parameters of Israel’s land) and the Noahic Covenants are all unconditional and unilateral. Which means God made a promise, and God will fulfill it, with no specific requirement on the part of mankind.
The Covenant with Moses and the Covenant with Abraham ore totally different from each other. If you don’t understand that, you won’t understand prophecy, and you will probably fall for the error of believing the church has replaced Israel and that God is finished with Israel. You will possibly also support (wrongly) the so-called “plight” of the Palestinians, and view Israel erroneously as “occupiers”, just as the Palestinians would like you to believe.
If someone doesn’t recognized God’s separate plans for the Church and Israel, they will not ever be able to see that the Tribulation has nothing to do with the church.
And if we don’t understand truth about judgment, both in the here and now, and the future judgments of the saved and unsaved (which are two distinct, separate, and very different events), then we will be susceptible to all kinds of Satanic lies and misconceptions about Christianity.
Rebuke of sin, and rebuke of Christians by other Christians is scriptural within specific guidelines. Rebuke of false teachers also is scriptural.
The Great White Throne of Judgment (Revelation 20) is the judgment of sinners who reject salvation in Christ Jesus, where all works will be judged in perfect righteousness, and sentence will be handed down without mercy.
The judgment of Christians (II Corinthians 5:10) is a testing of works by fire in which it is possible that all works burn up in the fire, but the person is spared due to the grace extended when they accepted the redemption offered in the substitutionary death of Christ, while works that are of value to the Kingdom will stand the test of the fire, and will result in rewards and honors of future service in the Kingdom.
Those who say that only Christians who have strived to “keep their robes” will go up in the rapture while others will remain to be refined and purified by the fires of the earthly Tribulation, are in error, this is not supported scripturally. The white robes are the righteousness of Christ, as our works are always and only “as filthy rags” with regard to salvation. However, the obedience and submission and service willingly given in this life will translate to greater honor and responsibility in the next one, (lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven) and this is what the judgment of believers at the Judgment Seat of Christ will be about. Nothing about guilt or innocence, or worthiness for heaven. We cannot earn those. They are an inheritance given to rightful heirs. An inheritance is not earned. Period. It is bequeathed.
These are just a few of the thoughts on my heart these days as we draw to the close of these final moments of the age of Grace, and there is so much confusion and anxiety among professing Christians as the Tribulation looms and chaos runs rampant. How could we give hope e to the lost while eaten up with anxiety over everything happening, because we don’t understand the plan for this age? The worse it gets the more peace I have, and that is just a fact! If that is not true for you, then something is wrong. At the very least, maybe you need to look further into some of the things mentioned above. If you have dismissed Israel as the forever apple of God’s eye, well, good luck getting peace. Israel is key.
If you are attempting to be “good enough” to go up in the rapture, you insult the very grace and mercy by which you claim to have been saved. Good grief, the age of Grace for taking out a Gentile bride has been ongoing for a couple of thousand years. A huge percentage of the Bride is already with the Lord. What possible explanation can you come up with for why just these last few of the final generation of the age of grace would be required to endure the tribulation? Come on.
I hope some of you sincere Christians who are wringing your hands and desperately trying to find a way to believe God is going to take you out before the Tribulation, will just apply the same principle to this as you did to the way of salvation itself. You don’t earn it. You don’t “pay dues” in order to inherit the privilege of not being punished. The punishment was fully administered to sinless Christ. What pride for you to think that you have punishment still coming. Don’t let anyone steal your joy and peace. The faith of a child doesn’t have to lay out every single alternative and analyze it to death. Sure it has become “old fashioned” to believe in things like absolutes, sin, separation from the world, and yeah, a catching away. But the more I see and the more I have experienced of modern “Christianity”, the more the old paths appeal. The more I think guys like Moody and Spurgeon knew a thing or two that modern preachers just don’t know.
Could it be that the enemy has infiltrated those hallowed institutions we call “Seminary”? Did Moody attend Seminary? Did John the Baptist attend Bible College? Did Paul have a Doctorate in Theology?
Education, even a formal “Bible Education” can be an idol and a stumbling block. Denominationalism and even Fundamentalism, can put blinders on.