August 2014 article:
SECOND THOUGHTS ON THE RAPTURE?
“Dr. Lovett, how can a fundamental Bible teacher like yourself even hint that the church will suffer the Tribulation when Paul says God has not appointed us to wrath?"
In a former article I honestly said I didn't know WHEN the rapture would take place. I was coached in the "any moment" tradition, mastering dispensational truth before I learned much else. So I believed that the church would escape all 7 years.
I was thrilled with the view. But in the process of doing my commentaries on 1st & 2nd Thessalonians, I could NOT reconcile that position with clear statements made by the apostle Paul. So I let my earlier training bow to the authority of God's Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit.
BUT WE DO AGREE ON THE AUTHORITY OF SCRIPTURE
There WILL be a rapture (1st Thessalonians 4:14-17). It says we will meet Jesus in the air BEFORE He returns to earth. Not only that, the Word teaches that when the Lord returns, it will be "WITH ALL HIS SAINTS" (I Thessalonians. 3:13). For that to happen, there has to be a rapture prior to His touchdown on Mt.Olivet. We all agree it will happen. It's just the timing that is not definite.
What does a person do when the apostle Paul flatly says two things must happen BEFORE the rapture can occur? Does he find a way around it, or does he believe it?
"Brethren, with regard to the COMING of our Lord Jesus Christ and our GATHERING TOGETHER unto Him (the rapture). . .let no man deceive you, for it (that day) WILL NOT come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction" (2nd Thessalonians. 2:1,3 NASV; parenthesis and emphasis mine).
(1) A great apostasy must occur. There will be a wholesale exodus of professing Christians (not possessing Christians). Christianity will again be despised on a world-wide basis, as it was at first.
(2) The man of lawlessness (anti-Christ) will be revealed. Paul goes on to teach that this man will sit in the temple of God, displaying himself as God (vs. 4). The Jewish temple will have to be rebuilt before this can happen.
Now if those two things must occur FIRST, as Paul states, then certainly the rapture cannot take place beforehand. I know some feel the church will be gone when these things take place, but that raises a hard question. Why would Paul bother to teach all these things to the infant church at Thessalonica if they didn't apply to them? It wouldn't make sense to go into such detail if the church isn't going to be here to experience them. No, it is better to assume that Paul meant exactly what he said and that the church will be here to see these things happen.
WHAT DOES THIS TELL US?
Most Bible scholars agree that the revealing of the anti-Christ occurs in the middle of the tribulation. If so, then we still have the church on earth at that time. Look what that means — the church is in for tribulation! And yet, I agree with those who say the church will NOT experience the wrath of God. Why? The Lord Jesus has already borne God's wrath for us on the cross. The justice of God demands that we NOT be here when God's wrath is poured out upon the world.
So what do we conclude? That the tribulation and the wrath of God are TWO SEPARATE THINGS! While we may suffer the tribulation, which is man made, we will NOT suffer God's wrath, which is heaven sent.
The story of Noah and the flood pictures my view perfectly. The patriarch was allowed to suffer the ridicule and harassment of men for 120 years. He was left on earth to experience this tribulation right up until the moment when God was ready to pour out His wrath. Only then did God seal him in the ark and lift him above the earthly scene. When the judgment had passed, Noah was settled on the mountain.
To me this is a very simple approach, one which answers most objections. Yes, some passages in the Revelation have to be treated as flashbacks (parenthetical), but this is true with any approach. There's a merging of the seals, vials, and trumpets. It's not all that distinct. For me, the Scriptures fall in place without any special interpretations of various passages when this approach is taken. I trust it would be helpful to you as well.
THE CLIMAX OF THIS AGE
Did you know this entire age is one of trial for Christians? That is hard to believe in America, but suffering is NORMAL for God's people. "In the world," said Jesus, "you shall have tribulation" (John 16:33). Paul made it clear that we would "suffer for His sake" (Philippians 1:29).
2nd Thessalonians 1:7 states the church will suffer persecution and affliction right up to the moment when Jesus is ready to pour out His wrath on an unbelieving world.
You don't have to be a prophet to see what is coming. All it takes is an honest look at God's Word. The tribulation is simply the climax of an age which began with the persecution of the Lord and won't end until He returns to end it IN PERSON. Believing we won't go through it, won't change anything at all.
LET'S BE READY
Some Christian organizations are already issuing survival instructions. They not only tell how to store and use grains, but are warning believers to be prepared for the loss of their property. Some plead with Christians to memorize the Word now. Others warn of the day when an indelible number will be stamped on their bodies (mark of the beast) to be read by a computer. I'm concerned about my brethren, and their ability to take it. Will they cave in when they see their children tortured and mutilated? It's coming and wishful thinking changes nothing.
Time is not the issue. What are you doing to make every day count. When you meet Jesus face to face, will it be rapturous or terrifying? It depends on whether or not you are:
READY FOR THE RAPTURE!
C. S. Lovett
(EDITED BY MARJORIE LOVETT)
July 2014 Article:
HELP IN EXPLAINING THE TRINITY
"HOLY... HOLY... HOLY! MERCIFUL AND MIGHTY! GOD IN THREE PERSONS, BLESSED TRINITY!"
See the words. . . "God in three Persons?" That's the "Blessed Trinity." Down through the centuries the Christian church has doggedly held three individuals make up the Godhead, asserting, the Father is God; the Son is God; the Holy Spirit is God. At the same time, the church also affirms these are NOT THREE SEPARATE GODS, but one single God. "Three in one," declares the Athanasian Creed (350 A.D.), "neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance."
Hard to understand? Perhaps, but that doesn't keep Christians from believing it. Why? Because the Bible says so and sometimes in a single verse. "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 28:19 KJV).
Observe how all three are CO-EQUAL in the baptism formula. Since the FATHER IS GOD (no argument there), it would be the worst kind of blasphemy for the Lord Jesus Who said this, to place HIMSELF alongside the Holy Spirit and the Father — IF THEY WERE NOT EQUALS. Thus we have in one verse a statement so precise and conclusive, you wonder why anyone would question the Trinity.
As for the Holy Spirit being God, He is continually referred to as "the Spirit of God" (Matthew 3:16; Romans 8:14; 1 Corinthians 2:11, etc.). Used throughout both Testaments, that title can only mean GOD'S OWN SPIRIT. I'm not saying this is easy to understand, only that the Bible clearly insists God operates as a Trinity. Our salvation is definitely based on a working of the Trinity as you can see in 1 Peter 1:2.
I DON'T SEE THREE GODS
Admitting much is beyond my grasp, I am offering an explanation of the TRINITY that presses the limit of my understanding. Yet, I will stay within the boundary of our fundamental creeds. That is, when we get to heaven, I don't expect to see THREE DIFFERENT PEOPLE presiding as God. Yet while I'm on earth, I do find God revealed as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, with all three functioning simultaneously. Therefore, I conclude the TRINITY to be the means by which our ONE GOD deals with us while we're on the earth. What am I saying? The TRINITY is a space/time program only.
What does that mean? The TRINITY is the one God dealing with man on the earth by functioning in THREE DIFFERENT ROLES. Hang on to that word "ROLES." By operating in different ROLES, the Son and the Spirit can appear as different personalities and do no violence to the Godhead. But how can ONE GOD work in three different roles SIMULTANEOUSLY?
OMNIPRESENCE — THE KEY
Webster defines "OMNIPRESENT" as "present in all places at the same time." One of the attributes fundamental Christians ascribe to God is OMNIPRESENCE. See what that unlocks? God can be PRESENT to the Son, and AS the Holy Spirit at the same time. Consequently, at Jesus' baptism we find the SON emerging from the water, the HOLY SPIRIT descending like a dove, and the Father revealing Himself via the VOICE FROM HEAVEN — all at the same time (Matthew. 3:16,17). Observe: the ONE GOD performing three ROLES simultaneously. Not difficult when you’re OMNIPRESENT. It's easy when you can be ALL places at the same time.
GOD AS A MAN
This is why Jesus had to grow "in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man" (Luke 2:52). The baby Jesus had to grow up like any man, even though (in identity) He was God of very God. Jesus is God operating in the ROLE of the Son. He is God living BY FAITH, just as He asked us to do.
Jesus came as a MAN. . . did His job as a MAN . . . died as a MAN. . . and is coming back as a MAN. Though faithful in everything required of Him, He left this world in disgrace (Galatians 3:13). But God doesn't intend for it to always be that way. As a man Jesus earned a super reward! And His reward is to return as the KING OF KINGS and LORD OF LORDS (earthly titles by the way), and inherit the whole world as His kingdom (Revelation 11:15).
But He's coming back AS A MAN! That's clear enough since He's returning in the glory of HIS FATHER (Matthew 16:27)! See, He's still in the SON ROLE! He's going to rule the world AS A MAN, and you and I are going to be "JOINT HEIRS" with Him (Romans. 8:17). But how can GOD be an "heir?" He can't unless He returns in the role of the Son.
IS THE SON ROLE ETERNAL?
Does Jesus continue in the SON ROLE after the earthly program ends and you and I are with God in eternity? Of course not. Do we expect to see three Gods in heaven?
"In the beginning was the WORD" (John 1:1). The Word is Jesus, obviously. However, the word "BEGINNING" is a finite term. Eternal things have neither beginnings nor endings. Even the phrase, "I am Alpha and Omega" is finite (Revelation 1:8). Yes, Jesus was present "in the beginning", BUT AS GOD. That's when God inaugurated the SON ROLE.
If a tricky teacher could convince you that Jesus is NOT GOD as He claimed, but lied, all else the Lord said is open to question. "I and the father are one" (John 10:30). If one should ever shake you, believe me, everything is tied up with the Deity of Christ. That's why I say it is DANGEROUS AND DEADLY not to have a good solid explanation for the Trinity.
Now consider 1 Corinthians 15:24, "Then comes THE END, when He delivers up the kingdom to God" (NAS). Following that it says, “Then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him (Father) that put all things under Him, that God may be ALL IN ALL" (vs. 28 KJV).
Are these verses saying the SON ROLE is just for the earthly program and that's all? Now we've reached the limit of my understanding. I urge you to check the references and let the Holy Spirit give you His answer to that question. May this article be a help to you also.
C. S. Lovett
(EDITED BY MARJORIE LOVETT)