In their argument Way of Life Ministries lays out their claim to have support for their pre-Trib teachings from early believers and from Literalist teachers beginning with Ephraim the Syrian, and then others who journeyed throughout history. On the surface their argument seems very strong. But then as an afterthought they have this to say:
“When it comes to sound doctrine, the bottom line is not what anyone has or has not taught in church history. It is “what saith the Lord?” Period. The Bible is the sole authority for faith and practice. It is not one authority among many, and it is not the authority only as confirmed by “church fathers” and “theologians.””
So, this quote is correct; the word is the authority, not interpreters of it. So, this understanding is what I want you to consider as you read their entire argument, which you should do.
Throughout their article there is the call for “literal interpretation” of Scripture, coupled with the call for an imminent return of Christ. This is important, because as you will see, literal interpretation does not allow for an imminent return. Not in the first century, and not even today. Let’s dig in:
Their argument contains the call for or the understanding of Israel’s return to her land, as being literal, where she is to reside in the coming kingdom and obviously the literal word calls for a temple to be in existence during the Tribulation.
Here then is the problem with their thinking, as I see it. In order for the early church to be literal to scripture as they (the early church) knew it, here is what they must have believed concerning prophecy:
1. The Temple will be destroyed, or if looking at things after 70 AD, it had already been destroyed, — “not one stone would be left upon another”, was Jesus literal statement to us and to them.
2. Israel will be returned to Belief in Messiah, and therefore returned to the Olive Tree. It was the unbelief in Christ, which got them cut off from the Olive tree, and therefore only the belief in Christ can get them grafted back into the tree.
3. The Temple must be in existence for a literal Antichrist to appear within during Tribulation. In those days Temples took much more than 1 decade to build.
4. Remember the argument made here is based on ones understanding of literal interpretation — and literally Scripture taught that there must be a scattering of the Jews throughout the nations, and this must all occur before they can be regrafted. So, of course the Nation could be formed first, but it must be formed after this scattering throughout the nations of the world, and the regathering must happen before they can rebuild a new Temple.
2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for [it will not come] unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. (NASB1995)
If literal Scripture was then or is now to be believed by anyone; then there could not have been an imminent coming of the Day of the Lord then nor could it now be. (Read yesterday’s post on the rebuilding of the Temple).
The pre-Trib teaching began to take hold in the Church in the mid-eighteen hundreds before an imminent return was even possible.
Remember the day of the Lord according to pre – Trib scholars includes the Tribulation, which requires the Temple under Antichrist control. They argue that the Day of the Lord is the long day of 1007 years. The 1007 is because it must include the Tribulation. And it must include the Tribulation because the Rapture literally occurs at the beginning of the Day of the Lord.
1 Thessalonians 5:1 Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. 2 For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. (NASB1995)
This passage they say requires that the Tribulation be included in the Day of the Lord; but is this literal to what is said here?
1 Thessalonians 5:3 While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. (NASB1995)
If sudden destruction literally comes upon the evil in this world, will the destroyed then continue on for 7 more years? Ponder carefully what Scripture literally teaches.