CONFIDENCE IN GOD’S WORD BECAUSE OF BIBLE PROPHECY

Fulfilled Bible Prophecy Confirm It's Divine Inspiration
The Book of Revelation explained

The Book of Revelation explained

GROWING CONFIDENCE IN GOD’S WORD BECAUSE OF BIBLE PROPHECY

There are several reasons why we can have confidence that the Bible is truly God’s divinely inspired, infallible, inerrant, Word to mankind. It is historically verifiable, it is experientially testable, it is philosophically credible, but perhaps one of the greatest evidences for the Bible’s divine inerrant inspiration is fulfilled prophecy.

THE GREAT ISAIAH SCROLL, part of the Dead Sea Scrolls discovery.When the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in 1946, it gave the world irrefutable proof that the contents of the Book of Isaiah were undoubtedly written before the birth of Christ. This means that the passages of detailed prophecies within Isaiah about the coming Messiah must have been written before the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, actually came. 

¶ Behold, my servant shall act wisely;
he shall be high and lifted up,
and shall be exalted.
As many were astonished at you—
his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance,
and his form beyond that of the children of mankind—
Isaiah 52:13-14

The Isaiah 52-53 passage contains some 40 prophetic details about the coming Messiah, including a sketch of The Christ’s childhood, His appearance, His atoning and redemptive work, His death, the location of His burial, and His resurrection from the dead, which were all precisely fulfilled by Jesus. Here is a survey of some of these passages within Isaiah 53-

1. That there would be nothing outstanding about his appearance
(we note that when Judas betrayed Jesus to the Chief Priests he had to point him out with a kiss) –

For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.
Isaiah 52:2

2. That His execution would involve being “pierced”

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5

3. That He would be silent before His accusers

¶ He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
Isaiah 53:7

4. That He would tried in a court of Judgment and falsely accused

By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
Isaiah 53:8a

5. That His death would be a substitutionary atonement

and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
Isaiah 53:8b

6. That He would be buried in a rich man’s tomb

And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
Isaiah 53:9

7. That He would die and rise again, from the dead

when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
(11) Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
Isaiah 53:10b-11

Apparently the odds of one human being fulfilling these 7 prophecies within their lifetime is something like one in a trillion trillion. Jesus fulfilled all 40 of these Isaiah prophecies about the Messiah – and those are just the ones from the chapters 52 and 53!

 

IN THE NEW TESTAMENT

When we look at what Christ Himself prophesied, particularly as it related to the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple by 70AD, the amount of detail on the public record before it was precisely happened is stunning! [Watch my YouTube explanation of this]

But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
Matthew 24:2

What Christ foretold of in Matthew 24 seemed most unlikely at the time. Yet, historians have noted that what proceeded after Christ gave these prophetic declarations was uncannily fulfilled-

The forty years that intervened before the destruction of Jerusalem were full of these in all directions; but we may probably think of the words as referring specially to wars, actual or threatened, that affected the Jews- such, e.g., as those which we read under Caligula, Claudius, and Nero (citing Plumptre).
The Preacher’s Complete Homiletical Commentary on the New Testament, Lewis and Booth, London, 1896, page 552

Even Christ’s statements about earthquakes in Matthew 24 seems odd until you read some of the historical reports of the unusual amount earthquake activity in that region between 30AD to 70AD – some of which is also recorded in the New Testament.

For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.
Matthew 24:7

Once again, both the New Testament and the first century historian, Josephus, record that there were an increasing number of severe earthquakes leading up to 70AD –

(286) for there broke out a prodigious storm in the night, with the utmost violence, and very strong winds, with the largest showers of rain, with continual lightnings, terrible thunderings, and amazing concussions and bellowings of the earth, that was in an earthquake.  (287) These things were a manifest indication that some destruction was coming upon men, when the system of the world was put into this disorder; and anyone would guess that these wonders foreshowed some grand calamities that were coming.
Josephus, Flavius, The Works of Josephus, Wars of the Jews, Book 4 Chapter 4

 

25 But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. 26Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.
Acts 16:25-26

The New Testament records that earthquakes commenced at the crucifixion of Christ (Matthew 27:54) and His resurrection (Matt. 28:2).

The New Testament also describes peculiar (“great”) famines taking place in the mid first century.

Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar.
Acts 11:28
(Extract from The Most Embarrassing Verse In The Bible)

 

Bible prophecies from both the Old and New Testaments which can be demonstrably shown to have been fulfilled are an extremely persuasive evidence of the Bible’s divine inspiration and proof for the existence of the God of the Bible. While many Christians speculate about what they feel the Bible prophesies regarding today’s world events, we are always on solid ground when we point to those Scriptures from the Old Testament which foretold of Christ, and those from the New Testament which were foretold by Christ including His own death, resurrection, and what He foretold about the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple.

Andrew Corbett

And when it comes to teaching on some of the most difficult subjects, such as End Times, discover why thousands of pastors from around world have found the eBook, THE MOST EMBARRASSING BOOK IN THE BIBLE so helpful for them to understand what the Church’s role in this world should be amidst the shrill of so many Bible-Prophecy ministries which forecast doom and gloom. Check it out and you’ll see why. PREVIEW

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Brexit And Bible Prophecy

Brexit And Bible Prophecy

Dr. Andrew Corbett

He’s considered to be one of the twenty greatest preachers of all time…

BREXIT AND BIBLE PROPHECY

If so many Christians weren’t taking it so seriously, the claims that Britain’s exit (“Brexit”) from the European Union was prophesied in the Bible would be seriously funny. But alas, many Dispensational Bible teachers are indeed claiming to have Biblical support for their claim that Britain’s exit from the E.U. was prophesied! Here’s two immediate reasons why these claims can not be correct. 

A campaigner for 'Vote Leave', the official 'Leave' campaign organisation, holds a placard during a rally for 'Britain Stronger in Europe', the official 'Remain' campaign group seeking to a avoid Brexit, ahead of the the forthcoming EU referendum, in Hyde Park in London on June 19, 2016. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned last week that if Britain votes to exit the European Union on June 23, it could deal the economy a "negative and substantial" blow. / AFP / BEN STANSALL (Photo credit should read BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images)

Interpreting Bible prophecies is just like interpreting any other genre of Biblical literature. To do this, we must read a verse in context (textual, historical, occasional), use Scripture to interpret Scripture, understand that no Scripture is written to us but that it is written for us, and that while there can be multiple applications of a text there can not be multiple correct interpretations of a text (because God always has an intended meaning for His Word). Considering these classic features of Bible interpretation, it makes the claim that the Bible foretold Britain’s exit from the E.U. impossible – despite how many paperback books someone has sold – or how big their TV audience might be – or how many Twitter followers they have!   

boris-backs-brexit

For many of these pastors, the field of eschatology is a void for them. While they have come to understand the difficulties in trying to reconcile Scripture with such a Dispensational view of Bible Prophecy, they have not necessarily developed a consistent, concordant (incorporates all that Scripture teaches about eschatology), convincingly Biblical eschatology. This is why thousands of pastors from around world have found the eBook, THE MOST EMBARRASSING BOOK IN THE BIBLE so helpful. Check it out and you’ll see why.

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The Rapture

The Rapture

The Rapture Examined

THE RAPTURE EXAMINED…

by Dr. Andrew Corbett, Pastor of Legana Christian Church, National President of ICI Theological College Australia, and author of The Most Embarrassing Book in The Bible eBook

Why the rapture has rupturedFor years I was taught that the coming of Christ was to be in two stages: He would come for the Church, then He would later come with the Church. The first stage of this coming was called the rapture. I grew up in a church where we saw evangelistic films reinforcing this teaching and lately, the Left Behind series of books and films has continued to popularise this view as well. But now many Christians are asking some big questions about the rapture. This led me to investigate it for myself… 

THE ORIGINS OF THE RAPTURE

The RaptureThe Reformers of the sixteenth century saw sharp parallels between the apparent evils of an apostate religious group, as described in the Book of Revelation, and the Church of Rome. This opinion was so strong among the Reformers that they went as far as declaring that the Pope was the Anti-Christ, and the Roman Church was the Harlot of Babylon. One only needs to read the Westminster Confession of Faith which plainly states this belief. 

Many believe that this attack on the Roman Catholic Church, known as Historicism, was strategically counted by a Jesuit, Francisco Ribera (1537 – 1591).  He deflected some of this attack by developing the Futurist eschatological system. He published a book in 1591, in which he claimed that the Anti-Christ, the Fall of Babylon, and the destruction of a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem would all take place in the final seven years before the commencement of the millennium. Out of the seeds of Futurism grew the teaching of Edward Irving.

Juan Josafat Ben EzraEdward Irving (1792-1834) was minister of the Church of Scotland. He was also influenced by the writings of another Jesuit Priest, Emmanuel Lacunza (who used the pseudonym Juan Josafat Ben-Ezra) who wrote a book, “The Coming of the Messiah in Glory and Majesty”. Irving translated this Spanish book into English and added a 203 page Preface.

When the Lord shall have finished the taking of witness against the Gentiles… he will begin to prepare another ark of testimony… and to that end will turn his Holy Spirit unto his ancient people, the Jews, and bring them unto those days of refreshing… This outpouring of the Spirit is known in Scripture by ‘the latter rain’.

Published by L.B. Seeley & Sons, 1827, London, pp. 5-6.

John Nelson Darby, one of the inventers of the Rapture theoryIrving planted the seeds of Dispensationalism which greatly influenced two other men. The first was John Nelson Darby (1800-1882), an Anglican minister who left the Church of Ireland to commence the Plymouth Brethren. The other was Henry Drummond (1786-1860), a banker, who founded the Catholic Apostolic Church.

In 1831 both Edward Irving and John Nelson Darby began to postulate a two-staged return of Christ. Some believe that Irving was influenced by a young girl, Margaret McDonald, who apparently received this ‘revelation’ from the Lord of a “rapture” of the Church before a time of Great Tribulation at the end of the age.

Through a series of Prophetic Conferences in England and the United States, this view gained popularity. But its most accelerated acceptance came when Cyrus Scofield (1843 – 1921) published his Reference Bible which incorporated the essential elements of Dispensationalism (including a secret rapture of the Church) into its study notes. This was published in 1909. Other such Dispensational Study Bibles began to appear throughout the twentieth century, including Dakes Annotated Reference Bible which almost became the standard text for the growing number of Pentecostals throughout the United States of America and Australia.

Late Great Planet EarthThroughout the twentieth century the Rapture theory has been prolifically promoted by Hal Lindsay’s now discredited book, Late Great Planet Earth, and more recently by Tim LaHaye’s and Jerry Jenkins’ fictional Left Behindseries.

 

WHAT IS THE RAPTURE?

the raptureJohn F. Walvoord is perhaps considered the most vocal and prolific advocate for the rapture throughout the twentieth century. In his book, The Rapture Question, he defines the rapture as- 

The Scriptures predict that the church will be raptured, or “caught up” to heaven, at the coming of the Lord for them. The word raptureis from rapere, found in the expression “caught up” in the Latin translation of 1Thessalonians 4:17. 

John F. Walvoord, “The Rapture Question”, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1979

Rapture advocates build their case almost entirely on First Thessalonians 4:17.

Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 

1Thessalonians 4:17

We introduced this commentary by establishing three logical principles for interpreting God’s Word. I would also like to point out to those who may object to the association of “logic” with God’s Word that the word logic is derived from the Greek word, logos, which is a title and name of Christ.

These principles include: Examining the context; Avoiding Contradiction; and Appreciating the original intention. Generally, even Dispensationalists easily accept these three Hermeneutical principles. But in order for their system to work, they also require the addition of two other invented “laws”. These include “the Law of First Mention”, and “the Law of Double Reference.” I have already examined these principles of interpretation espoused by Dispensationalist proponents in the previous Appendix, and shown them to be grossly faulty.

By employing the sound principles of interpretation to the First Thessalonians 4:17 passage we should see that this refers not to a rapture, but to the resurrection. We draw this conclusion from the context of the passage.

In verse 13 the passage is referring to those Christians who have already died, and Paul is pre-empting their resurrection.

But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope.

First Thessalonians 4:13

In verse 14 the passage is linked to the resurrection of Christ.

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.

First Thessalonians 4:14

In verse 16 the expression most commonly used for resurrection, “rise”, is used –

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

First Thessalonians 4:16

 

An artist's depiction of the rapturePrior to the invention of the rapture doctrine, all published commentators interpreted this First Thessalonians passage as referring to the resurrection. For example, Matthew Henry’s commentary on this passage says –

They shall be raised up from the dead, and awakened out of their sleep, for God will bring them with him, v 14. They then are with God, and are better where they are than when they were here; and when God comes he will bring them with him. The doctrine of the resurrection and the second coming of Christ is a great antidote against the fear of death and inordinate sorrow for the death of our Christian friends…v.17. At, or immediately before, this rapture into the clouds, those who are alive will undergo a mighty change, which will be equivalent to dying…

Matthew Henry, 1721

Matthew Henry, along with nearly all other commentators prior to the invention of Dispensationalism, saw the obvious intention of this passage as referring to the resurrection of the dead at the final coming of Christ, not a secret rapture prior to the resurrection.

Applying the principle of Non-contradiction this First Thessalonians 4 passage complements statements in First Corinthians 15.

in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.


First Corinthians 15:52

The whole point to First Corinthians 15 is resurrection, not rapture.

 

DOES SCRIPTURE TEACH IT?

No. Let’s examine some of the key Scriptures used to justify a rapture-

Matthew 24:40-41 “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 context of this reference is clearly to the random killings perpetrated by the Romans and their siege of Jerusalem and Judea. Notice the entire passage of Matthew 24 pertains to the destruction of the Temple (vss 2-3). The Gospel of Matthew was written before the destruction of the Temple in 70AD which makes this particularly prophecy by Christ so amazing. If the Gospel of Matthew was written after 70AD there is no way the fulfilment of this prophecy would have been omitted by Matthew (it would be like writing the history of New York today and completely ignoring the events of 9-11). Some commentaries attempt to make this passage equate to the final eschaton or gathering God’s people. But the passage pertains to the generation of Christ’s audience (Matthew 24:34) and Christ has already warned His audience that when they see the events of Matthew 24 beginning to take place they (His followers) are to flee the city. Therefore, those left in the city when judgment on Jerusalem was to commence were not His people.

First Corinthians 15:52 “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”

  • The context of this reference is universally accepted as pertaining to the resurrection, not rapture.

First Thessalonians 4:13-18 ¶ But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.”

  • As with First Corinthians 15, this passage is about the resurrection of the righteous, not a secret Rapture disconnected from the Resurrection. Paul is responding to a question from the Thessalonians about those who had died in Christ and not participated in the expected resurrection of the righteous. He refers to these believers as having fallen asleep. This event is yet to happen. It is the Resurrection at the return of Christ, not a Secret Rapture 7 years before the Return of Christ.

Revelation 4:1 After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”

  • The context of this reference is essential to understanding the nature and perspective of the Book of Revelation. John received this Revelation from God and was able to see things from God’s perspective. This is not a reference to the rapture.

Revelation 12:5 She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne.

  • The context of this reference is to the ascension of Christ, not the rapture of the Church.

Rapturists claim that there are Old Testament precedents for the rapture. They appeal to both Enoch and Elijah as examples of rapture.

By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, “and was not found, because God had taken him”; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

Hebrews 11:5

We should apply the Hermeneutical principle of Non-Contradiction to this statement by Rapturists.

And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,

Hebrews 9:27

How do we reconcile these two seemingly contradictory verses? Are the claims of the Rapturists correct when they imply that Enoch levitated to Heaven? When the Scriptures declare that Enoch did not see/experience/taste death, does this mean that he did not have to go through a “dying” experience? Or, does it mean that he is physically in Heaven now and does not need to partake in the resurrection since he has kept his own body? It appears that there is a case to be made for saying that Enoch did not experience dying like all others, yet he still “died” in the sense that he was separated from his body (note James 2:26).

In either case, this is more a case of translation rather than rapture. The same applies to Elijah. Some see Noah’s Ark as a type of rapture. It would be more accurate to see Noah’s Ark as a picture of Christ instead.

 

WHAT THEN IS OUR HOPE?

looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ,
Titus 2:13

Some Christians have linked their entire hope to a future return of Christ. A cursory examination of the topic of “hope” in the New Testament will readily show that hope is not just confined to the statement made in Titus 2:13. For example, we have the hope of the resurrection (Acts 23:6) and, the hope of spending eternity with God (Col. 1:5; Titus 3:7). Indeed the believers who lived before 70AD certainly did have reason to look forward to Christ’s appearing when He would come to close the amnesty of the Old Covenant and establish His kingdom. At the judgment of Jerusalem in 70AD, Revelation prophetically described as-

Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”

Revelation 11:15

This seventh trumpet corresponds to the trumpet of Matthew 24:31 –

And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Matthew 24:31

The seventh trumpet announced the completion of God’s Old Covenant with Israel and the announcement that the Kingdom of Christ had begun (Rev. 11:15). Yet their remains a final trumpet, which we might call the “eighth”. Note the comparison between the seventh and the final (or perhaps the “eighth”) trumpets-

7th TRUMPET

LAST TRUMPET

·  A parousia of Christ 

·  The Final Parousia of Christ

·  Jerusalem 

·  Earth

·  Judgment on Judaism 

·  Final Judgment

·  Fulfils Matthew 24 

·  Fulfils Matthew 25; 1Thess. 4;  1Corinthians 15, Rev. 20:9ff 

·  Ends the Old Covenant Age (note Heb. 8:13) 

·  End of the Age

·  Proceeds from preaching the Gospel to Jews first throughout the oichoumene (Empire)

·  Proceeds from the making of disciples of all the nations  (Matthew 28:18-20)

·  Suffering, misery and death 

·  Suffering, misery and death done away with (Rev. 21:3-4)

·  Satan is bound 

·  Satan is damned

·  The beginning of Christ’s Kingdom

·  The culmination of Christ’s Kingdom (Eph. 1:10; 1Cor. 15:24)

Our hope is grounded in what Christ has done for us by granting us salvation encompassing, forgiveness, justification, and glorification. We therefore do not die without hope. Much of the basis for this is grounded in Christ’s resurrection and its implication for our resurrection.

The Gospel is not a message that warns people of a secret rapture! This kind of rapture has nothing to do with the Gospel! By exposing the modern teaching of a secret rapture as a fairly recent invention in pop-theology, it is my hope that Christians disburse from the Rapture bus-stop and get back into the main game of life. Rather than waiting for Jesus to rescue them from this naughty world, believers should strive to be salt and light on Christ’s behalf to a world that would just love to see someone passion and genuine about what they believe in: Jesus Christ, Saviour and Forgiver to all those who are reconciled to God. We know that life will always have its tribulations. The Church will never rule the world and bring in some kind of utopian bliss, but those in the Church can be better prepared to handle life’s difficulties if they are not waiting for some kind of false hope such as a secret-rescue-rapture!

Listen to Matthew 24 Explained MP3 

 Dr. Andrew Corbett

I have written a fuller explanation of the book of Revelation in my eBook-THE MOST EMBARRASSING BOOK IN THE BIBLE (click here to read a preview). 

Amen.

– – – 

THE MOST EMBARRASSING BOOK IN THE BIBLE by Dr Andrew CorbettI have written a fuller explanation of the book of Revelation in my eBook- THE MOST EMBARRASSING BOOK IN THE BIBLE (click here to read a preview). The application from the Book of Revelation is that despite what appears to be an impotent Church struggling to serve an apparently impotent Christ, the Church is in reality made up of overcomers who lay down their lives gladly to promote Christ and His Gospel. In so doing, the Kingdom of Christ is extended, prayers are offered and heard, miracles are graced, and the believer can die with infinite hope that their Lord will keep them for eternity and clothe them with a new body which can not be subject to pain, injury, sorrow, or sin. With this knowledge we can endure momentary hardship during the brevity of this life on earth. We can be assured that our greatest delights and deepest moments of fulfilment are yet to come in the life to come.

John 5:25 ¶ “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live

Amen

 Dr. Andrew Corbett, Legana, Tasmania, Australia 

Read Dr Corbett’s eBook, The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible.

Regarded as one of the leading exponents of the Book of Revelation, Dr Andrew Corbett in this 4 Part series on the Book of Revelation (presented as a seminar) is now available as a 4 Audio CD set.

Order this 4 Disc Audio CD for just $20 plus $9.95 shipping anywhere in the world).

 

Listen to Disc 1 online now []

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A Non-Futurist Vision Of The Future

A Non-Futurist Vision Of The Future

A Non-Futurist Vision of The Future

A Non-Futurist Vision of the Future  – written by Dr Andrew Corbett, lecturer in Hermeneutics and President of ICI Theological College Australia

WHAT KIND OF VISION OF THE FUTURE SHOULD A NON-FUTURIST HAVE?

a half full glassIt was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” begins the Dickens’ classic, The Tale of Two Cities. For many End-Times preachers, these are the worst of times. This idea is reinforced repeatedly by many Christians who feel that the world is indeed getting worse and worse. When I have lectured on Ethics or Eschatology both here and abroad, I have been challenged by students who despair that Christians can not hope to have a godly influence on society since the Bible apparently says that the last days will be dark and full of rampant evil. I have generally responded to these claims by asking if there was another time in history in which they would rather have lived? When students think about it, they usually conclude that there is no better time to be alive than now. But this presents a dilemma for those Christians who have bought into the idea that these are the “worst of times”, because the evidence suggests that these are the best of times.

The Book of Revelation explained

The Book of Revelation explained

I’m a Preterist. I’m not a Futurist. This means that I consider the Bible needs to read and understood as it was intended. I consider this to be taking the Bible “literally”. This kind of literalism distinguishs between a metaphor, an allegory, poetic parallelism, narrative, and didactic prescriptions. I therefore regard Christ’s statements about His coming and the Kingdom of God being “near” and “at hand” as being intended to convey the idea that His coming and the Kingdom of God on earth was about to commence within the life-time of Christ’s original audience. I also regard Christ’s emphatic statement about the timing of these events described in Matthew 24 (the “Olivet Discourse”) literally when He said in verse 34 that they would all be fulfilled within the life-time of His audience. I regard Matthew 24 as a parallel of Revelation 1-19. I explain the reasons for this in two of my eBooks, The Most Embarrassing Verse In The Bible and The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible.

Doom’n’gloom “End Times” preachers pronounce that Armageddon, the Great Tribulation, the Anti-Christ are all just around the corner and that in order for these things to be fulfilled the world must inevitably become more sinful and wicked. These preachers point to the apparent growing crime-rate, burgeoning prisons, and world turmoil to support their case. Others who take a different point of view regard the alleged growing crime-rate as evidence that the ‘rule of law’ (a Christian concept) is becoming more accepted; so-called burgeoning prisons as evidence that we are becoming a more humane society (another Christian concept, consider that the word Penitentiary comes from the word: penitence); and world turmoil as nothing new. Perhaps, as Charles Dickens wrote, these are the worst of times and the best of times.

THE BEST OF TIMES…

Fall Of Jerusalem etchingMissiologists tell us that there are more Christians alive today than the combined total of all Christians who have ever lived. In China, conservative reports indicated that as many as 20,000 people a week are converted to Christianity. In Brazil the apparent rate of conversion to Christianity outstrips the birth-rate by about 8:1. Even in Australia while traditional churches have experienced a huge slump in attendances this has easily been picked up by the Pentecostal and Contemporary church movements. In fact, there are now more people in church on Sunday in Australia than there are at all the weekend AFL games combined. Some churches, like Hillsong, in Sydney, have grown to over 25,000 members. Other churches around Australia have similarly noted extraordinary growth over the past few years from conversions to Christianity.

Added to this is the social difference that the Christian Gospel is having on societies. No longer content to think Christianity is restricted to the four walls of a church on a Sunday, many Christians are now deeply involved in the arts, media, politics, the academy, and business. Pastor Ashely Evans from Paradise Community Church in Adelaide often talks of the need for Christians to have ongoing ‘influence’ in these arenas and has taken pro-active steps to facilitate this. Guy Sebastian, the first Australian Idol winner is from his church. Pastor Evans’ “Influencers” Conference now attracts thousands from around Australia to hear this message of positive engagement with society. Many pastors are now questioning the 19th century ‘rapture theology’ and wondering what place it has in a more Biblically literate church which regards the Kingdom reign of Christ as fundamentally spiritual and promoted by the engagement of the church with the world as its salt and light.

They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
Revelation 20:4b 

These days are the best days to be alive!

 

WHAT THE FUTURE SHOULD HOLD…

Book of RevelationEnd Times teachers captivate their audiences by claiming to have great authoritative insight from the Bible about the future. They make emphatic claims about how national destinies will soon unfold based supposedly on “the clear teaching of the Bible”. But rarely, if ever, have their predictions come true. Sadly though, what this has done in the minds of millions of Christians is conditioned them to regard the Bible as a kind of crystal ball. When I show Christians that history argues for the contents of Matthew 24 and Revelation 1-19 to be regarded as fulfilled, they usually ask Well what’s left to be fulfilled then?

I argue that the contents of Matthew 25 and Revelation 20-22 are yet to be fulfilled. But you wont find anti-christs, great tribulations, armageddons or the four-horsemen in these passages. What you do find however, is the Kingdom of Christ being outworked in the earth in the hearts of men and women.

What the future should hold is-

  • Christians being filled with the Spirit of God to be witnesses in all the world.
  • Christians using their God-given talents to honour Christ, make Him known, and promote His Cause.
  • The glory of God increasingly being recognised as His grace redeems lives and the culture in which they engage.
  • The church increasingly loving its communities, especially its outcasts (“I was in prison…“)
  • The discipling of nations in the ways, will and Word of God.
  • The growth of the church in previously closed territories.
  • A demonstration of the power of the Gospel to gloriously transform lives.
  • The return of Christ to judge the living and the dead (“then He shall come in His glory”)
  • The complete banishment of sin, suffering and death.
  • The eternal bliss of those unconditionally elected by God to receive eternal life.

Book of RevelationRather than looking to escape this evil, dark and depraved world, let’s engage with it. Let’s regard life as a gift from God to be enjoyed celebrated and shared. Let’s pray that His Kingdom reign will be experienced in the hearts of people all over the world. Let’s ensure that He is ruling in our hearts now.

Andrew Corbett, 31st October 2006

Listen to part of the lecture given by Dr Corbett at Oral Roberts University, London, earlier in 2006, where he was invited to teach an intensive on Eschatology.

New Heavens And New Earth

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New Heavens And New Earth

An Explanation of what the Bible means by, ‘A New Heaven And New Earth’ by Dr. Andrew Corbett

The Bible’s Prophetic Program Culminates With “A New Heaven and A New Earth”. What might this mean? What are the implications of this? Does it have bearing on how we live today?

The Bible culminates its pages with the announcement that there will one day be a “new heaven and a new earth”.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.
Revelation 21:1

But what does this mean? The implications of how we understand this Bible prophecy are slightly enormous. I was recently discussing with another pastor some issue of concern we shared about a potential environmental hazzard. I ventured that we needed to take some action. He responded by expressing doubts that a pastor could achieve any change. Then he said, “…besides, this earth will soon pass away soon since the Bible says a ‘new earth’ is coming, so ultimately it doesn’t really matter!” How we understand what the Bible means when it refers to a ‘new heaven and a new earth’ may well determine how we treat our ‘existing’ earth and the type of legacy we will leave for generations to come.

 

THE BIBLICAL EXPRESSION OF ‘HEAVEN & EARTH’…

“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth, and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.”
Isaiah 65:17

New Heaven and EarthThe context of the latter portion of Isaiah is the coming new covenant. Within this context the Lord speaks of creating a new heaven and a new earth. The expression heavens and earth seems to speak of God’s relationship with mankind. He is the God of the heavens and the earth (Genesis 14:19; Ezra 5:11). Actually he is the God of the entire cosmos- but the expression heaven and earth emphasises His connection to mankind. And the expression heaven and earth may well refer to the covenant God has with mankind. When the Lord speaks of a new heaven and a new earth there may be some merit in regarding this as Biblical language for a new covenant.

This suspicion is increased when we consider how Christ used this expression as well.

For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
Matthew 5:18

Since Christ fulfilled the Law, was He right in stating that heaven and earth passed away? If we regard the expression ‘heaven and earth’ as referring to God’s covenant with mankind, then this statement makes perfect sense. It seems that Christ was therefore saying that Once the Old Covenant is fulfilled it will be done away with and replaced by a new covenant.

Hebrews 8:13 says that the Old Covenant became obsolete at the Cross, but it was still to be done away with. Since we now know that the Book of Revelation was written around 64AD (just after the Epistle to the Hebrews, which referred to the Old Covenant as still being in existence – note Hebrews 8:13) Revelation’s announcement of a ‘new heaven and a new earth’ was perhaps announcing that a change in covenant-order was pending.

 

FUTURE IMPLICATIONS…

New JerusalemThe closing announcement of the Bible of a coming new heaven and new earth does have some future implications. But if we are conditioned into thinking only in terms of geography we may completely miss the point of what being in covenant with God is all about. “Heaven” is not so much about a location as it is about a relationship! Dieing and going to heaven is not merely about a change in location but a blessing due to a covenant relationship with God. The most important thing you could do with your life now is not merely to prepare for heaven, but to ensure that you have entered into a relationship with God. It is a misrepresentation of Christianity to think that Christ died so that people could go to heaven- He died so that people could be forgiven of their sin and enter into a covenant relationship with God!

Could the picture of a new heaven and a new earth in the Book of Revelation be describing a coming new physical reality? Perhaps. But we have some Biblical precendent for regarding it as an expression of God’s covenant relationship with mankind. Reading this closing passage of the Bible reveals that a time is coming for God’s elect when nothing will hinder their relationship with God.

Therefore, while there may be future physical implications of this Biblical prophecy, there might not be. This is why those who regard other verses, such as Psalm 78:69, as speaking of God having creating the earth to last-

He built his sanctuary like the high heavens,
like the earth, which he has founded forever.

Psalm 78:69

If God has created the earth to last ‘forever’ we might need to abandon our ‘disposable earth’ theology and have a rethink about how Christians can be stewards not just exploiters of our environment. That’s why our interpretation of this prophetic passage has such dire consequences if we get it wrong.

This, and other such issues, is dealt with more fully in my downloadable ebook on the Book of Revelation- The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible.

© Dr. Andrew Corbett, 2014, Legana, Tasmania

 

Could we be in the ‘End Times’?

Could We Be In The Biblical End Times?

Wars, earthquakes, floods, and famines have long been considered the traits of what many believe to be the Biblical description of the “end times”. Added to this is what many understand to be the predictions of increased apostasy, the rise in persecution, the deterioration of society’s morals, and the increased compromise and lukewarmness of the Church. And surely, if these are the characteristics of what the Bible describes as the last days, we must be in the last days, right? But are we? And if we are, so what? And if we aren’t, then what? But are we in what the Bible describes as the ‘end times’? 

¶ But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.”
Second Timothy 3:1

WHAT ARE THE “END TIMES”?

End TimesThe expression “end times” is used by Christians to describe a brief period immediately preceding the return of Christ to earth. The expression, however, does not actually occur in the Bible. Rather, expressions such as “the last days”, “end of the age” are regarded as synonyms for “end times”. The Bible presents a picture of our world as being subject to God’s redemptive plan which climaxed in the coming to earth of the eternal Son of God as one of us and will culminate one day when He returns to judge the living and the dead (Rev. 20:12).

knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.
Second Peter 3:3

 

SIGNS OF THE “END TIMES”

NATURAL DISASTERS

Natural Distasters a sign of the end times?The Bible describes the last days as having turbulent natural disasters such as earthquakes (Matt. 24:7). Some assume that this is a category header for floods, storms, cyclones, and droughts. Strange weather patterns are regarded as a sign of the end times by some.

 

SCOFFERS

Jude 18 They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.”
Jude 18

Many end-times Bible teachers believe that the rise of scoffers – those who mock Christianity and Christian values is a sign of the end times. They then interpret the rise of “deconstructionism” (the term used by social engineers to describe the deconstructional of Christian values from a culture’s social norms) to be a sure sign that we are in the last days.

knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.
Second Peter 3:3

Thus, the push for such non-life policy agendas such as abortion, euthanasia, same-sex-marriage, man-boy love, eugenics, gendercide, are regarded as more or less being inevitable because they are supposedly prophesied in the Bible as being a last days push against God’s laws.

 

APOSTASY

¶ Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,
1Tim. 4:1 

Apostasy is when believers forsake the faith. Many “end times” preachers interpret the New Testament as predicting that in the last days before the return of Christ that the Church will dwindle and decline. In some extreme cases, this understanding is used to justify a lack of evangelism or any attempt to grow the Church.

 

COULD WE BE IN THE END TIMES NOW?

Based on the above criteria it would seem so. But there are some serious problems with these assertions. The immediate problem is a hermeneutical. None of the Scriptures behind any of these assertions prophesy the end of the world, or the conditions of the last days before Christ returns. The expression “last days” in the New Testament referred to the last days of the Old Covenant. I have already stated that the expression “end times” does not occur in the Bible. When we understand that Christ made the Old Covenant obsolete when He established the New Covenant from the Cross, we can appreciate that the obsolete Old Covenant was in its last days when the New Testament was being written.

¶ In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.
Hebrews 8:13 

The Old Covenant involved a priesthood, sacrifices, temple ceremonies, and ritual laws. In Matthew 24 Jesus revealed what would happen leading up to the end of the Old Covenant. It involved the destruction of the Temple which necessarily meant the end of the sacrifices, the end of the priesthood, and obviously the end of temple rituals.

The next problem with these assertions that we must be in the end times before Christ returns) is an exegetical one. That is, how each of these verses are interpretted in light of their context. For example, the prophecy in First Timothy 4:1 regarding “some” falling away from the faith is more likely to pertain to Jewish Christians who lost confidence in Jesus as the Christ and returned to Judaism. Afterall, this is the very reason why the Epistle to the Hebrews was written!

And the most alarming problem with these assertions is the damage to the credibility of Christianity and our Gospel. I have written an article listing some of the end-times claims made throughout history which have been proven wrong each time. These faulty prophetic assertions undermine the credibility of the Gospel in the minds of people. Added to this damage is the apathy it creates in those who should be living salt and light in a society to the end that more people come to a saving knowledge of Christ.

Christ will one day return. But in the meantime we shouldn’t be preoccupied with whenthis might be since what we are commanded to do before He returns is so obvious. I speak more about this in my book The Most Embarrassing Verse In The Bible and discuss how we might best understand the Book of Revelation in my eBook The Most Embarrassing Book In The Bible.

 

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