This quote and the scripture supporting it is from the Way of life, post that I had referred you to yesterday. In their post was outlined what the early church believed. In mine was outlined what was available to them to believe. In the next few posts I’ll speak to more of their claims. Here is the first proof of theirs that I want to take up: and I quote:
“They believed in a literal return of Christ and a literal fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.”
The they of course is early Christian believers. As support for this understanding, they list the following Scripture reference:
“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:19-21).”
What an interesting choice of scripture to use to prove the literal belief of those who supposedly also believed in a pre-Trib Rapture. Why? — because this statement is made by Peter to the Jews, and more specifically to the men of Israel. We need to go back to the beginning of the message to see to whom it is addressed, so here it is:
Acts 3:12 But when Peter saw [this,] he replied to the people, “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk? (NASB1995)
In this passage from Vs 13-18 Peter explains the gospel, and that they the Jews crucified Him whom the prophets had told them would come.
In Vs 20 the Holy Spirit through Peter begins telling them and us that Jesus is the Christ, and that He must now remain in Heaven until “the time of restoration of all things”. These “all things”were prophesied in ancient times about Israel as well as about the conversion of Gentiles. Peter was telling us, being inspired by the Holy Spirit, that Israel must be saved just as we are before Jesus will return. My point here is that the Gospel to Israel is no different than the gospel to the Gentile, and it’s intent for them is no different. And this prophecy of Peters makes Israel’s salvation directly connected to Christ’s return afterward — all things prophesied must be fulfilled. Why is this important to this discussion?
Pre-Trib Dispensationalist teachers try to tell us that the Holy Spirit will not operate during the Tribulation as He now does, for He removes the church, because He is removed as restrainer. This has caused them, because they are pre-Trib, to suggest that there is a different gospel by which Israel and Tribulation Saints must be saved. They say that it is the gospel of the Kingdom, and is not the gospel of Grace that Paul was given and preached.
So here is the problem that this creates. If the gospel of Grace did not exist until Paul, which more and more of them teach, and that not until several years into Paul’s ministry; then all of the saved including Paul himself, from the day of Pentecost were not part of the church or of the bride about which Paul and others preached.
This would cause all of the Jews including the Apostles to be a part of a different olive tree than the one Paul taught on in Romans 11, and that from the Bible’s context just cannot be true. The olive tree contained the saved of Israel — the remnant. It still even now contains the saved of Israel, and also it contains us grafted in Gentiles, who are also of the saved, and it will once again draw to Christ, and contain all of Israel’s future saved, and that before Christ returns. This is what Peter’s sermon also means in the above scripture passage. Entrance into the Olive Tree can only be gained through belief in the Christ, whom Jesus is. Elimination from that tree is literally said to be because of unbelief.
Paul is the very one through whom The Holy Spirit taught us concerning that tree. He taught this in the same book, (The book of Romans), where he also explains the gospel of Grace. We call it the Roman road to salvation. Why would the Holy Spirit or Paul for that matter include us both (Israel and the church) in that one tree, if we are not one in Christ? Literal means nothing if it is not taken for what it says. Pre-Trib Dispensationalists constantly take a scripture passage and tell us that it means something different than what it states.
Let me give you a “for example”. In 2 Thessalonians 2 the word Apostasy is said by them to mean “Rapture”. Well look at the two problems that creates for them and for us. If in 1 Thessalonians 5, “the day of the Lord coming as a thief”, is the Resurrection and Rapture, and I agree that it is; then how in 2 Thessalonians 2 does the Apostasy (“Rapture”?) Occur before the Day of the Lord? There is logic after all to God’s prophetic word. The second problem, is that the discussion that ensues makes us Christians look like a bunch of ignorant know-it-all’s, who really may know nothing about the unity they profess.
But that is really not the biggest second problem. The word apostasy is about human activity. We remove ourselves from danger. Even in its original Greek meaning, this word has nothing to do with God’s miraculous activity, which is what the Resurrection and Rapture is. The act is God’s acting on our behalf. Apostasy is our actions against God. So with which act do you want to be associated?