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Modern Christianity has largely forgotten the importance of the Protestant Reformation, which took place during the 1500s. “The sixteenth century presents the spectacle of a stormy sunrise after a dismal night. Europe awoke from long sleep of superstition. The dead arose. The witnesses to truth who had been silenced and slain stood up once more and renewed their testimony. The martyred confessors reappeared in the Reformers. There was a cleansing of the spiritual sanctuary. Civil and religious liberty were inaugurated. The discovery of printing and revival of learning accelerated the movement. There was progress everywhere. Columbus struck across the ocean and opened a new hemisphere to view. Rome was shaken on her seven hills, and lost one-half of her dominions. Protestant nations were created. The modern world was called into existence.”1 For almost a thousand years, Europe had been ruled by the iron hand of Rome. Only a few Bibles existed then, and Christianity was largely permeated with superstition. Faith in Jesus Christ, heartfelt appreciation for His love, and a simple trust in His death on the cross, were almost unknown. The New Testament truth about grace, full forgiveness, and the free gift of eternal life to believers in the Son of God (Romans 6:23), had been buried under a mass of tradition. Then Martin Luther arose like a lion in Germany. After a period of tremendous personal struggle, Martin Luther began teaching justification by faith in Jesus Christ (being declared “just” by God), rather than through reliance on “creature merits,” or any human works (Romans 1:16; 3:26, 28; 5:1).
Martin Luther, as well as all of the other Reformers, were unanimous in their interpretation of the Antichrist as the papacy. Eventually, Martin Luther turned to the prophecies. By candlelight, he read about the “little horn,” the “man of sin,” and “the beast,” and he was shocked as the Holy Spirit spoke to his heart. Finally, he saw the truth and said to himself, “Why, these prophecies apply to the Roman Catholic Church!” As he wrestled with this new insight, the voice of God echoed loudly in his soul, saying, “Preach the word!” (2 Timothy 4:2). And so, at the risk of losing his life, Martin Luther preached publicly and in print to an astonished people that Papal Rome was indeed the Antichrist of Bible prophecy. Because of this dual message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ apart from works and of Papal Rome being the Antichrist, the river of history literally changed its course. Hundreds of thousands of people in Europe and in England left the Catholic Church.
“‘There are two great truths that stand out in the preaching that brought about the Protestant Reformation,’ American Bible Commentator, Ralph Woodrow, reminds us, ‘The just shall live by faith, not by the works of Romanism and the Papacy is the Antichrist of Scripture.’ It was a message for Christ and against Antichrist. The entire Reformation rests upon this twofold testimony.’”2 It has been said that the Reformation first discovered Jesus Christ, and then, in the blazing light of Christ, it discovered the Antichrist. This mighty, Spirit-filled movement, for Christ and against the Antichrist, shook the world.
H. Grattan Guinness wrote these memorable words: “From the first, and throughout, that movement [the Reformation] was energized and guided by the prophetic word. Luther never felt strong and free to war against the Papal apostasy till he recognized the pope as Antichrist. It was then that he burned the Papal bull. Knox’s first sermon, the sermon that launched him on his mission as a reformer, was on the prophecies concerning the Papacy. The reformers embodied their interpretations of prophecy in their confessions of faith, and Calvin in his ‘Institutes.’ All of the reformers were unanimous in the matter, even the mild and cautious Melanchthon was as assured of the antipapal meaning of these prophecies as was Luther himself. And their interpretation of these prophecies determined their reforming action. It led them to protest against Rome with extraordinary strength and undaunted courage. It nerved them to resist the claims of the apostate Church to the utmost. It made them martyrs; it sustained them at the stake. And the views of the Reformers were shared by thousands, by hundreds of thousands. They were adopted by princes and peoples. Under their influence nations abjured their allegiance to the false priest of Rome.
“In the reaction that followed, all the powers of hell seemed to be let loose upon the adherents of the Reformation. War followed war: tortures, burnings, and massacres were multiplied. Yet the Reformation stood undefeated and unconquerable. God’s word upheld it, and the energies of His Almighty Spirit. It was the work of Christ as truly as the founding of the Church eighteen centuries ago; and the revelation of the future which He gave from heaven—that prophetic book with which the Scripture closes—was one of the mightiest instruments employed in its accomplishment.”3
In 1545, the Catholic Church convened one of its most famous councils in history, which took place north of Rome in a city called Trent. The Council of Trent actually continued for three sessions, ending in 1563. One of the main purposes of this Council was for Catholics to plan a counterattack against Martin Luther and the Protestants. Thus the Council of Trent became a center for Rome’s Counter-Reformation. Up to this point, Rome’s main method of attack had been largely frontal—the open burning of Bibles and of heretics. Yet this warfare only confirmed in the minds of Protestants the conviction that Papal Rome was indeed the Beast which would “make war with the saints” (Revelation 13:7). Therefore a new tactic was needed, something less obvious. This is where the Jesuits come in.
On August 15, 1534, Ignatius Loyola (in the title picture) founded a secretive Catholic order called the Society of Jesus, also known as the Jesuits. The Jesuits definitely have a dark history of intrigue and sedition, that’s why they were expelled from Portugal (1759), France (1764), Spain (1767), Naples (1767), and Russia (1820). “Jesuit priests have been known throughout history as the most wicked political arm of the Roman Catholic Church. Edmond Paris, in his scholarly work, The Secret History of the Jesuits, reveals and documents much of this information.”4 At the Council of Trent, the Catholic Church gave the Jesuits the specific assignment of destroying Protestantism and bringing people back to the Mother Church. This was to be done not only through the Inquisition and through torture, but also through theology.
The Jesuit Commission
At the Council of Trent, the Jesuits were commissioned to develop a new interpretation of Scripture that would counteract the Protestant Reformation, specifically, the application of the biblical Antichrist to the Roman Catholic Church. At the Council of Trent, the Jesuits were commissioned by the Pope to develop a new interpretation of Scripture that would counteract the Protestant application of the Bible’s Antichrist prophecies to the Roman Catholic Church. Francisco Ribera (1537-1591), a brilliant Jesuit priest and doctor of theology from Spain, basically said, “Here am I, send me.” Like Martin Luther, Francisco Ribera also read by candlelight the prophecies about the Antichrist, the little horn, that man of sin, and the Beast. But because of his dedication and allegiance to the Pope, he came to conclusions vastly different from those of the Protestants. “Why, these prophecies don’t apply to the Catholic Church at all!” Ribera said. Then to whom do they apply? Ribera proclaimed, “To only one sinister man who will rise up at the end of time!” “Fantastic!” was the reply from Rome, and this viewpoint was quickly adopted as the official Roman Catholic position on the Antichrist.
Francisco Ribera and Cardinal Robert Bellarmine, two Jesuit scholars, published works that taught that the Scriptures written by Paul, Daniel, and John had nothing whatsoever to say about the Papal power. “In 1590, Ribera published a commentary on the Revelation as a counter-interpretation to the prevailing view among Protestants which identified the Papacy with the Antichrist. Ribera applied all of Revelation but the earliest chapters to the end time rather than to the history of the Church. Antichrist would be a single evil person who would be received by the Jews and would rebuild Jerusalem.”5 “Ribera denied the Protestant Scriptural Antichrist (2 Thessalonians 2) as seated in the church of God—asserted by Augustine, Jerome, Luther and many reformers. He set on an infidel Antichrist, outside the church of God.”6 “The result of his work [Ribera’s] was a twisting and maligning of prophetic truth.”7
Cardinal Robert Bellarmine, who helped popularize and propagate the futuristic interpretation of biblical prophecy. Following close behind Francisco Ribera was another brilliant Jesuit scholar, Cardinal Robert Bellarmine (1542-1621) of Rome. Between 1581 and 1593, Cardinal Bellarmine published his “Polemic Lectures Concerning the Disputed Points of the Christian Belief Against the Heretics of This Time.” In these lectures, he agreed with Ribera. “The futurist teachings of Ribera were further popularized by an Italian cardinal and the most renowned of all Jesuit controversialists. His writings claimed that Paul, Daniel, and John had nothing whatsoever to say about the Papal power. The futurists’ school won general acceptance among Catholics. They were taught that Antichrist was a single individual who would not rule until the very end of time.”8 Through the work of these two tricky Jesuit scholars, we might say that a brand new baby was born into the world. Protestant historians have given this baby a name—Jesuit Futurism. In fact, Francisco Ribera has been called the Father of Futurism.
Defining the Issue
Before we go much farther, let’s define some terms. Historicism is the belief that Biblical prophecies about the little horn, the man of sin, the Antichrist, the Beast, and the Babylonian Harlot of Revelation 17, all apply to the developing history of Christianity and to the ongoing struggle between Jesus Christ and Satan within the Christian Church, culminating at the end of time. Historicism sees these prophecies as having a direct application to Papal Rome as a system whose doctrines are actually a denial of the New Testament message of free salvation by grace through simple faith in Jesus Christ, apart from works. Historicism was the primary prophetic viewpoint of the Protestant Reformers. In direct opposition to Historicism, and rising up as a razor-sharp counterattack on Protestantism, was that of the Jesuits with their viewpoint of Futurism, which basically says, “The Antichrist prophecies have nothing to do with the history of Papal Rome, rather, they apply to only one sinister man who comes at the end.”
Thus Jesuit Futurism sweeps 1,500 years of prophetic history under the proverbial rug by inserting its infamous GAP. This theory teaches that when Rome fell, prophecy stopped, only to continue again right around the time of the Rapture, thus the “gap” was created. The ten horns, the little horn, the Beast, and the Antichrist have nothing to do with Christians until this “last-day Antichrist” should appear. According to this viewpoint, there were no prophecies being fulfilled during the Dark Ages!
Inroads in Protestantism
For almost 300 years after the Council of Trent, Jesuit Futurism remained largely inside the realm of Catholicism, but the plan of the Jesuits was that these theological tenets be adopted by Protestants. This adoption process actually began in the early 1800s in England, and from there it spread to America. The story of how this happened is both fascinating and tragic. As I briefly share some of the highlights, I want to clarify that I am not judging the genuineness of these Christian men. They may have been sincere, yet at the same time deceived in some areas of their theological understanding.
“The Futurism of Ribera never posed a positive threat to the Protestants for three centuries. It was virtually confined to the Roman Church. But early in the nineteenth century it sprang forth with vehemence and latched on to Protestants of the Established Church of England.”9 Dr. Samuel Roffey Maitland (1792-1866), a lawyer and Bible scholar, became a librarian to the Archbishop of Canterbury. It is very likely that one day he discovered Ribera’s commentary in the library. In any event, in 1826 he published a widely-read book attacking the Reformation and supporting Ribera’s idea of a future one-man Antichrist. For the next ten years, in tract after tract, he continued his anti-Reformation rhetoric. As a result of his zeal and strong attacks against the Reformation in England, the Protestantism of that very nation which produced the King James Bible (1611) received a crushing blow.
After Dr. Maitland came James H. Todd, a professor of Hebrew at the University of Dublin. Todd accepted the futuristic ideas of Maitland, publishing his own supportive pamphlets and books. Then came John Henry Newman (1801-1890), a member of the Church of England and a leader of the famous Oxford Movement (1833-1845). In 1850, Newman wrote his “Letter on Anglican Difficulties,” revealing that one of the goals in the Oxford Movement was to finally absorb “the various English denominations and parties” back into the Church of Rome. After publishing a pamphlet endorsing Todd’s futurism about a one-man Antichrist, Newman soon became a full Roman Catholic, and later even a highly honored Cardinal. Through the influence of Maitland, Todd, Newman, and others, a definite “Romeward movement was already arising, destined to sweep away the old Protestant landmarks, as with a flood.”10
Then came the much-respected Scottish Presbyterian minister, Edward Irving (1792-1834), the acknowledged forerunner of both the Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements. Irving pastored the large Chalcedonian Chapel in London with over 1,000 members. When Irving turned to the prophecies, he eventually accepted the one-man Antichrist idea of Todd, Maitland, Bellarmine, and Ribera, yet he went a step further. Somewhere around 1830, Edward Irving began to teach the unique idea of a two-phase return of Christ, the first phase being a secret rapture prior to the rise of the Antichrist. Where he got this idea is a matter of much dispute. Journalist Dave MacPherson believes Irving accepted it is a result of a prophetic revelation given to a young Scottish girl named Margaret McDonald.11 In any case, the fact is, Irving taught it!
Adding to the Futuristic interpretation of prophecy, John Nelson Darby added the theory of dispensationalism, or the idea tht God deals with mankind in major dispensations or periods of time.
In the midst of this growing anti-Protestant climate in England, there arose a man by the name of John Nelson Darby (1800-1882). A brilliant lawyer, pastor, and theologian, he wrote more than 53 books on Bible subjects. A much-respected Christian and a man of deep piety, Darby took a strong stand in favor of the infallibility of the Bible in contrast with the liberalism of his day. He became one of the leaders of a group in Plymouth, England, which became known as the Plymouth Brethren. Darby’s contribution to the development of evangelical theology has been so great that he has been called The Father of Modern Dispensationalism. Yet John Nelson Darby, like Edward Irving, also became a strong promoter of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture followed by a one-man Antichrist. In fact, this teaching has become a hallmark of Dispensationalism.
Dispensationalism is the theory that God deals with mankind in major dispensations or periods. According to Darby, we are now in the “Church Age,” that is, until the Rapture. After the Rapture, then the seven-year period of Daniel 9:27 will supposedly kick in, and this is when the Antichrist will rise up against the Jews. In fact, John Nelson Darby laid much of the foundation for the present popular removal of Daniel’s 70th week away from history and from Jesus Christ in favor of applying it to a future Tribulation after the Rapture. Thus, in spite of all the positives of his ministry, Darby followed Maitland, Todd, Bellarmine, and Ribera by incorporating the teachings of Futurism into his theology. This created a link between John Nelson Darby, the Father of Dispen-sationalism, and the Jesuit Francisco Ribera, the Father of Futurism. Darby visited America six times between 1859-1874, preaching in all of its major cities, during which time he definitely planted the seeds of Futurism in American soil. The child of the Jesuits was growing up.
Futurism in America
Cyrus Scofield, the famed publisher of the Scofield Reference Bible, liberally interspersed the footnotes of his Bible with large doses of Futurism. These footnotes are still widely accepted by many theologians today. One of the most important figures in this whole drama is Cyrus Ingerson Scofield (1843-1921), a Kansas lawyer who was greatly influenced by the writings of Darby. In 1909, Scofield published the first edition of his famous Scofield Reference Bible. In the early 1900s, this Bible became so popular in American Protestant Bible schools that it was necessary to print literally millions of copies. Yet, in the much-respected footnotes of this very Bible, Scofield injected large doses of the fluid of Futurism also found in the writings of Darby, Todd, Maitland, Bellarmine, and Ribera. Through the Scofield Bible, the Jesuit child reached young adulthood. The doctrine of an Antichrist still to come was becoming firmly established inside 20th-century American Protestantism.
The Moody Bible Institute and the Dallas Theological Seminary have strongly supported the teachings of John Nelson Darby, and this has continued to fuel Futurism’s growth. Then in the 1970s, Pastor Hal Lindsey, a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, released his blockbuster book The Late Great Planet Earth. This 177-page, easy-to-read volume brought Futurism to the masses of American Christianity, and beyond. The New York Times labeled it “The number one best-seller of the decade.” Over 30 million copies have been sold, and it has been translated into over 30 languages. Through The Late Great Planet Earth, Jesuit Futurism took a strong hold over the Protestant Christian world.
Now we have Left Behind. In the 1990s, Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins took the future one-man Antichrist idea of Hal Lindsey, Scofield, Darby, Irving, Newman, Todd, Maitland, Bellarmine, and Ribera, and turned it into “The most successful Christian-fiction series ever” (Publishers Weekly). Hal Lindsey’s book, The Late Great Planet Earth, was largely theological, which limited its appeal, while Left Behind is a sequence of highly imaginative novels, “overflowing with suspense, action, and adventure,” a “Christian thriller,” with a “label its creators could never have predicted: blockbuster success” (Entertainment Weekly). The much-respected television ministries of Jack Van Impe, Peter and Paul Lalonde, and Pastor John Hagee, have all worked together to produce LEFT BEHIND: The Movie. The entire project has even caught the attention of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, resulting in an interview of LaHaye and Jenkins on Larry King Live. The Left Behind books have been made available on displays at WalMart, Fry’s Electronics, and inside countless other stores.
Again, let me clarify, I am not judging the genuineness of the authors of Left Behind and the leaders of these television ministries. They may be sincere, and have their own walk with God. But they are deceived into wrong ideas concerning Bible prophecy. God may even use Left Behind to influence people for Jesus Christ. But, in the full light of Scripture, prophecy, and the Protestant Reformation, something is terribly wrong. Left Behind is now teaching much of the same Jesuit Futurism as Francisco Ribera, which is hiding the real truth about the Antichrist. Through Left Behind, the floodgates of Futurism have been opened, unleashing a massive tidal wave of false prophecy which is now sweeping over America. Sadly, it is a false “idea whose time has come.”
The Prophetic Foundation
As we have already seen, the theological foundation for the entire Left Behind series is the application of the “seven years” of Daniel 9:27 to a future period of Tribulation. Are you ready for this? Guess who was one of the very first scholars to slice Daniel’s 70th week away from the first 69 weeks, sliding it down to the end of time? It was Francisco Ribera! “Ribera’s primary apparatus was the seventy weeks. He taught that Daniel’s 70th week was still in the future. . . It was as though God put a giant rubber band on this Messianic time measure. Does this supposition sound familiar? This is exactly the scenario used by Hal Lindsey and a multitude of other current prophecy teachers.”12
When most Christians look at the last 1,500 years, how much fulfilled prophecy do they see? None, zero, because almost everything is now being applied to a future time period after the Rapture. As we have seen, this GAP idea originated with the Jesuits, and its insertion into the majority of 21st century prophetic teaching is now blinding millions of hearts and eyes to what has gone before, and to what is happening right now inside the Church. “It is this GAP theory that permeates Futurism’s interpretation of all apocalyptic prophecy.”13 In love and in the Spirit of Jesus Christ, someone should publicly appeal to the major prophetic television ministries of today to re-evaluate their positions. Hopefully, like noble ships with a new command from their captain, they will yet change their course.
Jesuit Futurism has almost completely changed the beliefs of Protestant Historicism. “The proper eschatological term for the view most taught today is Futurism, which fuels the confusion of Dispensationalism. The futuristic school of Bible prophecy came from the Roman Catholic Church, specifically her Jesuit theologians. . . However the alternative has been believed for centuries. It is known as Historicism.”14 “It is a matter for deep regret that those who hold and advocate the Futurist system at the present day, Protestants as they are for the most part, are thus really playing into the hands of Rome, and helping to screen the Papacy from detection as the Antichrist.”15
Who Had It Right?
Who had the right theology—those who were burned at the stake for Jesus Christ, or those who lit the fires? Who had the true Bible doctrine—the martyrs or their persecutors? Who had the correct interpretation of the Antichrist—those who died trusting in the blood of Christ, or those who shed the blood of God’s dear saints? Dear friend, Jesuit Futurism is now at war with the Protestant Reformation by denying its power-packed application of prophecy to the Vatican. “The futurist school of Bible prophecy was created for one reason, and one reason only: to counter the Protestant Reformation!”16 In fact, Jesuit Futurism is at war with the prophecies of the Word of God itself! And if that’s not enough, consider this: Jesuit Futurism originated with the Roman Catholic Church, which makes it the very doctrine of the Antichrist! And when Christian ministries and movies like A Thief in the Night, Apocalypse, Revelation, Tribulation, and Left Behind, proclaim an Antichrist who comes only after the Rapture, what are they really doing? I shudder to even say it. Are you ready for this? They are sincerely and yet unknowingly teaching the doctrine of the Antichrist!
Now you know why truth has been left behind. You are now able to see The Left Behind deception. I appeal to you in the loving name of Jesus Christ, the Crucified One—Don’t fall for it.
Notes 1 H. Grattan Guinness, Romanism and the Reformation, p. 122 2 Michael de Semlyen, All Roads Lead to Rome, Dorchester House Publications, Dorchester House, England, 1991, pp. 202, 203 3 H. Grattan Guinness, Romanism and the Reformation, pp. 136, 137 4 Robert Caringola, Seventy Weeks: The Historical Alternative. Abundant Life Ministries Reformed Press, 1991, p. 31 5 George Eldon Ladd, The Blessed Hope: A Biblical Study of the Second Advent and the Rapture. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1956, pp. 37-38 6 Ralph Thompson, Champions of Christianity in Search of Truth, p. 89 7 Robert Caringola, Seventy Weeks: The Historical Alternative, p. 32 8 Ralph Woodrow, Great Prophecies of the Bible, p. 198 9 Ralph Thompson, Champions of Christianity in Search of Truth, p. 91 10 H. Grattan Guinness, History Unveiling Prophecy or Time As an Interpreter, New York: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1905, p. 289 11 Dave MacPherson, The Incredible Cover-Up: Exposing the Origins of Rapture Theories. Omega Publications, Medford Oregon, 1980 12 Robert Caringola, Seventy Weeks: The Historical Alternative, p. 35 13 Ralph Thompson, Champions of Christianity in Search of Truth, p. 90 14 Robert Caringola, Seventy Weeks: The Historical Alternative, p. 6 15 Joseph Tanner, Daniel and the Revelation: The Chart of Prophecy and Our Place in It, A Study of the Historical and Futurist Interpretation. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1898, p. 16 16 Robert Caringola, Seventy Weeks: The Historical Alternative, p. 34
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See also: THE TESTIMONY OF THE REFORMERS THE SECRET RAPTURE and: HISTORY OF THE JESUITS, Vol. 1, 1816 HISTORY OF THE JESUITS, Vol. 2, 1816 THE JESUITS, AS THEY WERE AND ARE, 1845 HISTORY OF THE JESUITS, 1854 MODERN JESUITISM, 1855 SECRET INSTRUCTIONS OF THE JESUITS, 1857 THE JESUITS; A COMPLETE HISTORY, 1885 THE JESUITS IN GREAT BRITAIN, 1903 THE PRIMITIVE CHURCH & THE PRIMACY OF ROME, 1910 FOURTEEN YEARS A JESUIT, Vol. 1, 1911 FOURTEEN YEARS A JESUIT, Vol. 2, 1911 THE JESUITS IN HISTORY, 1914
Scriptures Prove Secret Pre-tribulation Rapture is Anti-biblical!
- “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.... Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matthew 24:21,22,29-31)
- “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: 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.” (I Thessalonians 4:16,17)
- “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” (Revelation 1:7)
- “Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matthew 24:25-27)
- “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Hebrews 9:28)
- “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)
- “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44)
- “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:54)
- “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.” (Revelation 3:10)
- “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” (John 17:15)
- “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” (I Corinthians 10:13)
- “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)
- “I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Revelation 1:9)
- “Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.” (James 5:10)
- “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” (II Timothy 3:12)
- “And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.” (Luke 21:16)
- “These are they which came out of great tribulation [you can't come out of something that you didn't go into], and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:14)
- “And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. ” (Revelation 12:17)
- “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” (Revelation 12:11)
- “And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” (Revelation 13:7)
- “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Revelation 14:12).
- “Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.” (Isaiah 48:10)
- “And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.... He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God. Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, and spake, and said, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, ye servants of the most high God, come forth, and come hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire. And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.” (Daniel 3:13-27)
- “Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions.... Then said Daniel.... My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me:” (Daniel 6:16-23)
- “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.” (Daniel 12:10)
When Jesus' disciples asked him “what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” the first thing he told them was, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” He then preceded to give them a long list of things that were to transpire just before his second coming and the end of the world. Jesus said,
- “But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” (Matt. 24:37-39).
- “Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.” (Luke 17:28-30).
What is the common denominator in these scripture passages? Secret Rapture proponents argue that the “ark” in Matthew 24:38 is symbolic of Christ as a vehicle by which Christians will be taken out of the world prior to the great tribulation thereby escaping the wrath of God upon the wicked. But this theory does not float (no pun intended). The obvious common denominator in these scriptures is that while both Noah and Lot escaped the destruction of the wicked neither of them was taken out of the world. The common denominator is that the wicked are going about their daily lives and the righteous are obeying the commandments of their Lord. Noah obeyed God and was kept safe through the great flood. Lot obeyed God and was kept safe during the fiery destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Noah and Lot were not secretly or otherwise “Raptured” out of the world. Jesus said, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.” (John 17:15)
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not taken out of “the midst of the burning fiery furnace,” they were kept safe from the destructive force of the flames (Dan. 3:21,25,27). Daniel was not taken out of “the den of lions,” he was kept safe from “the lions’ mouths” (Dan. 6:16,22). Noah, and Lot, were not taken from the earth when the wrath of God fell upon the wicked. Daniel, and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were not taken out of the midst of their tribulations and temptations and the fiery trials of their faith. Noah, and Lot, and Daniel, and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were all “kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation” (I Pet. 1:5,10,11). The prophet Isaiah said, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD.” (Is. 54:17). Jesus said, “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Matt. 24:13)
A very significant Bible passage concerning the second “coming of the Son of man” is also very revealing in that it warns us against belief in a secret coming of Christ: “Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.”(Matt. 24:25,26). The scriptures consistently describe the second coming of Christ as a very noisy and visible event:
- “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”(Matt. 24:27)
- “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: 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. ”(I Thess. 4:16,17)
- “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”(I Cor. 15:51,52)
- “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”(Matt. 29-31)
- “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.”(Rev. 1:7)
The events described in the above scriptures make it clear that Christ's second coming is anything but secret. We are told in no uncertain terms that the coming of Christ will be “as the lightning”(Matt. 24:27), that “then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet....” (Matt. 24:30,31). Proponents of the secret rapture claim that Matthew 24:29-31 describes the second coming, which will include “a great sound of a trumpet”(Matt. 24:31). So how can 1st Corinthians 15, which speaks of “the last trump” when “the trumpet shall sound,” refer to the “Rapture” when there is yet another trumpet to be sounded, several years later, at the second coming? When Matthew 24 and 1st Corinthians 15 mentions “the last trump,” “a great sound of a trumpet,” and “as the lightning,” all are describing the same event – the second coming of Christ. There is nothing secret about lightning. And there is nothing secret about a great sound of a trumpet. To deduce from any of these Bible verses a secret coming of Christ is to deny the plain meaning of the scriptures.
Another set of scripture passages frequently used by secret rapture proponents is Matthew 24:37-41 and Luke 17:31-37, which says that “Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.” But look closely at Matthew 24:39: it is not the wheat –the saints, God's elect, the church– that is “taken”; it is the tares –the wicked, unbelievers, counterfeit Christians– that are “taken” –they “knew not until the flood came, and took them all away;”(Matt. 24:39); “Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.”(Matt. 13:30).
Titus 2:13 is often used to support a secret rapture. The argument is that the “blessed hope” is the rapture and the “glorious appearing” is the revelation. But this would postulate a second and a third coming, of which there is not the slightest intimation of such in all of scripture. What is the Christian's hope? Paul gives us the answer in his first letter to Timothy, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour, and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope;”(I Tim. 1:1).
Another scripture used by the Secret Rapture proponents is Luke 21:36, “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” They contend that this scripture means that the church will be Raptured out of the world prior to the “great tribulation” period. They argue that the phrase “to stand before the Son of man” is to be taken in a literal sense. But the same phraseology is used in Revelation 11:4 when speaking of the two witnesses “standing before the God of the earth.” Whether literal or not, neither Luke 21:36 nor any other Bible verse gives the slightest hint of a secret catching away of the saints. Second Thessalonians chapter two is, according to Secret Rapture proponents, further “proof” that the saints will be secretly caught away:
- “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
- Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
- Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
- And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
- For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
- And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
- Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
- And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
- And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
- That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
- (II Thess. 2:3-12)
Let us examine the above text in the light of the scriptures. Verse 3 says, “that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first” (II Thess. 2:3). Writing to Timothy, the apostle Paul warned, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith [“a falling away”2Thess.2:3], giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats....” (I Tim. 4:1-3). Paul said, “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” (Acts 20:29,30). And the apostle John warned, “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us,” exclaimed John, “that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” (I John 2:18,19). To “be made manifest” means to “be revealed.” Paul said that “the mystery of iniquity doth already work:” and “that he might be revealed in his time.” What is “the mystery of iniquity”? In the book of Revelation chapter 17 verse 5 the apostle John tells us,
- “And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”
This mysterious mother of harlots is also called “the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: With whom the kings of the earth (See Masonic politicians, Knights of_Malta & Black nobility) have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” (Rev. 17:1,2). The Bible tells us that in the days of the apostles “the mystery of iniquity doth already work” and “even now are there many antichrists” (II Thess. 2:7, I John 2:18). The angel of Revelation chapter 17 said unto John,
- “I will tell thee the mystery of the woman, and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns. The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.” (Rev. 17:7,8)
Who else in scripture shares a similar attribute –“was, and is not, and yet is”? The Lord Jesus Christ –“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” (Rev. 1:8). Lucifer said, “I will be like the most High.” (Is. 14:14). This is the great counterfeit of Christ which John said “is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” (I John 4:3). Paul said, “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.” (II Thess. 2:6). This is the great counterfeit Christian church that was to come to power not far in the distant future after the apostle Paul's death. We are told that this great power would come in the name of Jesus Christ “to draw away disciples” after “a falling away” from the truth (Acts 20:30; Mat. 24:5; II Thess. 2:3). The angel then tells John,
- “The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman [harlot church] sitteth.” [in scripture hills are sometimes called mountains] (Rev. 17:9)
The Catholic Encyclopedia states: “It is within the city of Rome, called the city of seven hills, that the entire area of Vatican State proper is now confined.” (The Catholic Encyclopedia, Thomas Nelson, 1976, see “Rome”). The official Catholic Bible, the NASB, states, “The seven heads are seven hills on which the woman sits enthroned.” (Rev. 17:9) (See Defining Antichrist). The ecclesiastical-temporal union of church and state by the Roman emperor Constantine in the fourth century marked the beginning of the establishment of the mother of harlots, with whom the kings of the earth have committed spiritual fornication (Rev. 17:2). This religio-political power of Rome is the fulfillment of many Bible prophecies, being recognized by the remnant of faithful believers over the centuries as the four “beasts” and “little horn” of Daniel chapter 7, Paul's “man of sin” of 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2, and John's “beast” of Revelation chapters 13 and 17. But despite the abundance of scripture evidence and historical facts many of our pro-secret rapture friends are still not convinced.
Let us look again at 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2 and compare scripture with scripture: here we are told of “that man of sin” whom the apostle Paul said would “be revealed in his time.” (II Thess. 2:3,6). Secret Rapture proponents argue that these scriptures point to one single sinister devil-man who is to appear on the scene after the true church is caught away. They contend that the phrases “that man of sin be revealed” and “that Wicked be revealed” refers to a single individual person. But could not Paul be using these terms in the same plural sense as in “That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works”(II Tim. 3:17) and “the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience”(Eph. 2:2) and “this is that spirit of antichrist”(I John 4:3)? In light of the scriptures presented here along with irrefutable historical corroborating evidence we have every reason to believe that the “man of sin” refers not to a single person, but to a long succession of Christian impostors.
It is both interesting and disturbing to see how that in recent years many once Bible believing churches have compromised the Word of God and fallen away from the sound doctrine of the scriptures back to the fables of the Roman Catholic church, as the prophecies of the scriptures are literally being fulfilled before our eyes (II Thess. 2:3; I Tim. 4:1-5; II Tim. 4:1-4). The “falling away” foretold in second Thessalonians chapter two began in the early days of the church and excelled in the fourth century with the establishing of the Pagan/Christian Roman Catholic church. The “falling away” refers to the falling away from true Apostolic Christianity, “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” (II Thess. 2:3; Jude 1:3). The early Christians clearly understood this, as did the Protestant Christians of the Reformation. Read what Protestant churches taught for centuries in their official prayer books and in their public declarations of faith. Even the Episcopal church in America and the Anglican church in England exposed many of the “blasphemous fables, and dangerous deceits” of the Roman Catholic church (see Book of Common Prayer, Article 31). As late as the middle of the twentieth century, circa 1953, the Episcopal church in America understood and revealed, at least in part, the doctrines of antichrist. (See A FALLING AWAY)
For more than three centuries, the vast majority of American pulpits reverberated the sound doctrine of the Holy Scriptures. Ministers of the gospel knew the true source of man's salvation as revealed in the Holy Bible. They also knew the source of man's depraved nature and his inclination to follow dangerous heresies. And this is why pastors of churches regularly preached against false doctrines and cunningly devised fables. It is only in the last two generations that many, if not most, American Christians have become ignorant of the history of the world, of the history of their nation, and of the history of the churches both at home and abroad.
The Lord said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). Herein lies one of the grave dangers of believing in a pre-tribulation rapture: if “Christians” believe they're going to be "raptured" from the earth before the great tribulation and the mark of the beast, they will have no reason to believe that it is in fact the mark of the beast and will readily accept it.
People often confuse sincerity with humility. We can be sincere, yet wrong. We can be sincere, yet deceived. True humility is to admit that our hearts are "deceitful above all things and desperately wicked", and then let the word of God correct us and be our final authority (I Pet. 5:5; Jer. 17:9; II Tim. 3:16). Sadly, many professing themselves to be Christians today are erring by failing to believe and trust the words of the Lord in the Holy Bible. And instead of trusting that the Lord preserved his pure words as promised, many modern-day Christians are putting their trust in the wisdom of man's inventions via Bible lexicons and such. “All Christians profess to believe that God speaks to them in the Bible. He speaks, and therefore He can make us hear and know His voice. But we fall far too readily into the notion that the book only speaks to us; and we find, when we think so, that our spirit does not hear. Then we go to commentaries; we try one after another; we know not how to ascertain whether this or that commentary may be most safely trusted; we go further and further from the Book which all the time we profess to consider divine, and we despair of its teaching, even whilst we seem to ourselves to be reverencing it.” (Bible Readings, Edinburgh, 1864, Preface, p. 6). “Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.” (Prov. 26:12)
Dear fellowservants in Christ, we are “charge[d]” to “reprove, rebuke” and “exhort” with the “pure” "preserve[d]” “sound doctrine” of the inspired “holy scriptures”. We are living in the “perilous times” of “the last days” and the “falling away” from “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints”, when men are “lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud”, “Having a form of godliness”, “when they will not endure sound doctrine”, but “shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables”: “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” (Psa. 12:6,7; II Tim. 3:1-5,16; 4:1; II Thess. 2:3-11; Jude 1:3).
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the Lord is calling us back to himself and to his pure preserved word, “saying, Come out of her, my people”: “I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works”. The fables of the Roman church are ensnaring the souls of millions, while many once Bible believing Christians are being led astray and lulled into a state of complacency with the charms of “THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS” (II Tim. 4:1-4; Rev. 2:4,5; 17:1-6; 18:4).
ROME'S CHALLENGE - WHY DO PROTESTANTS KEEP SUNDAY?