Posted by: mystic444 | May 1, 2010

The ‘Second Coming’

But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning 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 the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call, 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, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, RSV).

Although I have written other articles about ‘the last days’ and Jesus’ prophecy on the Mount of Olives (beginning with this one), I feel like it’s necessary to examine some of the Biblical passages about the ‘day of the Lord’ and the ‘second coming’ (besides the Olivet prophecy which I’ve already written about) in a little bit more detail. This is because we are so bombarded these days with the horrifying predictions of ‘prophecy experts’, claiming certain political and environmental events are ‘fulfillments of Biblical prophecy’, and warning of other terrible political and environmental events ‘just around the corner’ to us. Our political leaders are even warned that they need to adopt policies and take actions that will put us ‘on the right side’ when God’s ‘soon coming wrath’ is poured out on the world. Therefore, it becomes necessary to emphasize as much as possible the need to read the Bible in the light of the times in which it was written, the people who were being addressed, and the picturesque and poetic type of language used by the writers and speakers. When we lose sight of the fact of the historical setting, and imagine that the writers were writing to us in the 20th and 21st centuries rather than to 1st century believers, we set ourselves up for all sorts of absurd and speculative errors.

The above passage from 1 Thessalonians is no doubt one of the most frequently quoted passages to teach a ‘rapture’ of Christians, yet it is nevertheless one of the most misunderstood. These Thessalonians were for the most part ‘Gentile’ (non-Jewish) believers who had relatively recently turned from their idolatry to worship the One God. Acts 17 tells about Paul’s ministry in Thessalonica, and how he had to leave because of the violent opposition of Jews who opposed his preaching that Jesus was the promised Messiah. Chapters 2 and 3 of 1 Thessalonians tell of Paul’s constant concern for the welfare of the believers he had to leave behind; he finally was so concerned that he sent Timothy back to Thessalonica to find out how things were going with the believers there. Timothy later returned to Paul with a very encouraging report about the believers’ steadfastness, love, and growing faith. However, it would seem that Timothy also said that at least some of the believers were despondent about friends and family who had died. They had accepted Paul’s good news that Jesus, God’s anointed, was soon to come in his kingdom and that they would reign with him at that time. But what did that mean for those who had died? They were surrounded by many who “had no hope” – both among Gentile idolaters, and Jewish Sadducees who denied the existence of angels, spirits, and the resurrection – and were apparently infected by this lack of hope. After all, many of them were formerly idolaters themselves, and had only recently embraced the good news Paul had proclaimed to them.

Paul’s first assurance to these Thessalonian believers was by telling them that the ones they worried about were only “sleeping”. Death seems so final; the body ceases to function, is buried, and begins to decompose. But as Paul later wrote to the Corinthian Christians (2 Corinthians 4:16-18): “That’s why we are not discouraged. No, even if our outer man is wearing out, our inner man is being renewed day by day. This light, temporary nature of our suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory, far beyond any comparison, because we do not look for things that can be seen but for things that cannot be seen. For things that can be seen are temporary, but things that cannot be seen are eternal” (International Standard Version). We not only have an “outer man” (the physical body) which perishes; we have an “inner man” (spiritual nature or body) which is “eternal” and “imperishable”, and it’s that inner man we view by faith. That inner man continues to live when the body fails; so while those who have died physically may be resting in ‘sleep’, they definitely haven’t died with their physical bodies. And since the believers acknowledged that Jesus had risen again after dying, they could be sure that he would bring their sleeping/resting loved ones with him when he came in his kingdom.

Paul then added to this assurance by reminding them that this was what their Lord, Jesus, had said. Paul wasn’t just asserting his own opinion. Many people today want us to believe that Paul never talked about Jesus’ teachings; he supposedly only proclaimed his own ‘revelations’, which they tell us are quite different from Jesus’ teachings. But this is one of the passages that refute such an opinion. Paul had not only proclaimed that Jesus was the Messiah, he had instructed them in what Jesus had taught. Now he reminds them of something that was an important part of Jesus’ own teaching: “For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord”. Not only would the dead not miss out on the coming and kingdom of Christ; they would actually be the first to join Jesus in his reign. “We who are alive and are left” would join Jesus and them later.

So where do we find this in the teachings of Jesus? Jesus taught a number of times about his coming and kingdom, but I can think of at least two passages in the Gospels that Paul was almost certainly referring to. In Matthew 16:27 and 28 he said this: “For the Son of man is to come with his angels [messengers] in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste of death before they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom”. And in Matthew 24:30, 31, and 34 he had this to say: “…and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory; and he will send out his angels [messengers] with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other…Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place.” Notice the correlations between these statements and what Paul said in 1 Thessalonians. The Lord (Son of man) comes in the clouds of the air with a loud trumpet call (a cry of command, the archangel’s call, and the trumpet of God) with his messengers (Paul says “those who have fallen asleep” will be brought with him when they rise from their sleep/rest). The prophecy of Daniel (7:26 and 27) had said that “the court shall sit in judgment” and “…the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High…” Matthew 16 says the “messengers” will come with the Son of man when he comes to judge and reward people. Matthew 24 says the “messengers” will gather God’s elect together. Paul said “those who had fallen asleep” or who had died would come with Jesus. Can there really be any doubt that Paul was referring to (and ‘interpreting’) those prophecies when he wrote to the Thessalonians? Paul is almost certainly teaching that the ‘messengers’ Jesus referred to were the resurrected believers (and is reminding the Christians that he had previously explained that to them), and they were the same ones that Daniel had referred to as “the people of the saints [holy ones] of the Most High” and “the court” which sits in judgment. These are the very same ones that Jude referred to when he quoted from the book of Enoch: “Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied about these people when he said, ‘Look! The Lord has come with countless thousands of his holy ones [saints]. He will execute judgment on all people and convict everyone of all the ungodly things that they have done in such an ungodly way, including all the harsh things that these ungodly sinners have said about him” (verses 14 and 15, English Standard Version). Paul frequently called the believers in the churches “saints” (or “holy ones”), as in his opening statements to the churches of Ephesus, Philippi, and Colossi.

Now, what is most important in regard to the claims of the ‘prophecy experts’ which abound in our time, is that the apostle Paul (and the Thessalonian believers) clearly believed that “the day of the Lord” and the “coming of Christ” would occur within their lifetime. Twice in these few verses Paul spoke of “we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord”. It was not “they who will be alive when the Lord comes” but WE. Why did he feel so certain about that? Was it just wishful thinking? Absolutely not! He believed in Jesus as God’s Messiah and the one whom He had appointed to be Lord, and it was this Lord who had said: “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste of death before they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom”; and “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place.” Paul’s confidence was based on the explicit statements of Jesus, his Lord. If Paul and the Christians were wrong in their expectation, then Jesus was wrong in his prophetic teaching! And if Jesus and Paul were wrong, we have no reason at all to believe that there ever will be a coming and kingdom of Christ, the Lord!

But Jesus’ prophecies in Matthew 24 (Mark 13, and Luke 21) were so accurate regarding the things which could be observed with the physical eyes –concerning wars, earthquakes, famines, apostasy, false prophets, the abomination which makes desolate (Jerusalem being surrounded by armies which make desolate) and the terrible tribulation of that period – that many modern ‘scholars’ think he couldn’t possibly have actually predicted them. The prophecies must have been written after the fall of Jerusalem and falsely put in Jesus’ mouth! Yet the fact that Paul was familiar with them and referred to them (with confidence of their coming fulfillment) when he wrote to the Thessalonian Christians around A.D. 51 or 52 proves quite conclusively that such a theory is simply not true (since Jerusalem was not destroyed until A.D. 70). If he was so accurate about the things which could be seen, we may have confidence that he was also accurate about the things which can’t be seen by physical eyes. The coming of Jesus Christ and his saints (holy ones) in their ‘resurrection bodies’ would no more be visible to the physical eye than was the angel who slew Herod Agrippa in Acts 12:23. Josephus records Agrippa’s death by a sudden and mysterious illness immediately following the speech Acts refers to, but he said nothing about an angel – because the angel was only apparent to the ‘eye of faith’. The coming of the Lord and his messengers would no more be visible to the physical eye than was the coming of the LORD in the clouds in judgment on Egypt as recorded in Isaiah 19:1 and 2 – “An oracle concerning Egypt. Behold, the LORD is riding on a swift cloud and comes to Egypt; and the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence, and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them. And I will stir up Egyptians against Egyptians, and they will fight, every man against his brother and every man against his neighbor, city against city, kingdom against kingdom.”  The ‘eye of faith’ would see the fulfillment of the prophetic statements of Jesus and his apostles, and would realize that those physically observable events were in reality the victorious judgment of Jesus, God’s anointed, and his believing ‘saints’. The ‘eye of faith’ realizes that as God’s human messengers proclaim the good news to every nation under heaven, and “God’s elect” are gathered together to God and His anointed by means of that gospel preaching, there is a ‘behind the scenes’ spiritual activity of Jesus and his ‘holy ones’ who have ‘risen’ from their restful ‘sleep’ which is working together with the physically alive human messengers. And the ‘eyes’ of those Jews (and Romans) who rebelled against Christ and the Christians, and who were killed in that ‘coming in judgment’, would certainly ‘literally’ see Jesus and his messengers. Even those like Josephus who were not Christians, and who were not killed, realized that the events surrounding the ‘Jewish war’ were the results of “God coming in judgment”. They could ‘see’ it, even though God didn’t ‘visibly’ come.

But what about the ‘rapture’ of those Christians who were alive and left when the Lord came with his saints? There is no recorded evidence of any large scale (or even small scale) disappearance of people at that time; nor any reports of people visibly rising up into the air. Doesn’t that disprove the idea that 1 Thessalonians 4 refers to a ‘coming of the Lord’ which happened in the first century A.D.? Not really. Paul wrote that “the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (verses 16 and 17). That word “then” is not a word of time, but of order. That is, it doesn’t mean “at that time” or “immediately”; but “next”, “later”, or “after that”. One example of this is in Galatians 1, where Paul said that after the Lord had appeared to him on his way to Damascus, “…I did not confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned to Damascus. Then (there’s that word) after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas…” (verses 16-18). There were three years between one event and the other, though they were connected by the word ‘then’. So the statement could very well be (and almost certainly was) simply that those who were still alive when the Lord came would later (when they died) be “caught up” with Jesus and the risen believers who had been ‘asleep’, to rule and judge the nations from ‘heavenly places’ (the ‘clouds of the air’). This would be the same as what John wrote in the Revelation (14:13): “And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!’” This was said in the context of “one like a son of man” who was sitting on a cloud, and who gathered the harvest of the earth; while another angel brought judgment and wrath from God on the wicked (the ‘grape harvest’ from the ‘vine of the land’ – those who claimed to be Jews, but were not the true ‘Israel of God’). Christ’s kingdom had its ‘grand opening’ in 70 A.D., but it is a kingdom whose ‘increase’ is without end. Those believers who were still alive at that time, and those who like them were and are ‘overcomers’ in the centuries since, join him in his kingdom and ‘court of judgment’ when they die.

The prophetic statements in 1 Thessalonians 4, like the prophecies of Jesus on which they were based, were fulfilled in the lifetime of those 1st century hearers and readers. They are not events which are still future to us (though they were still in the future at the time Paul wrote). Political, ecological and environmental events in our lifetime have no relation to those prophecies. There is no ‘rapture of the church’, ‘great tribulation’, rebuilding of the Temple of God, or ‘battle of Armageddon’ in our future. We don’t need to take sides with the nation of Israel against its ‘enemies’ in Iran or Iraq, Saudi Arabia, or anywhere else. In God’s viewpoint there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile, Jew and Arab; God doesn’t show favoritism. And there shouldn’t be any distinction and favoritism in our viewpoint either! Eventually, through the ministry of Jesus Christ and his church (on earth and in ‘heaven’) everyone in ‘heaven’, on earth, and ‘under the earth’ will be brought into willing submission to God’s anointed, and the ‘salvation’ through the knowledge of God which that brings.


Responses

  1. I agree with much of what you said in this, but I noticed what you wrote right there at the end :

    “Eventually, through the ministry of Jesus Christ and his church (on earth and in ‘heaven’) everyone in ‘heaven’, on earth, and ‘under the earth’ will be brought into willing submission to God’s anointed, and the ‘salvation’ through the knowledge of God which that brings.”

    Do you believe that ALL MEN will eventually be saved? I’ve heard this from several people, and one of them introduced me to the book “THE PAROUSIA” (which I have not read all the way through yet). This is all new to me, as I was indoctrinated heavily with the modern day teachings of mainline denominations. There’s no question in my mind at this point that all of those things Jesus, Paul, and John the Revelater talked about, happened in their OWN GENERATION as Jesus put it.

    • Peace and blessings to you, Mark.

      I do indeed believe that ALL MEN (all souls that have come into being) will eventually be “saved” – though I don’t think J. Stuart Russell (“The Parousia”) believed in this Christian Universalism. I have written several articles about this subject which you may peruse if you’re interested. “Christian Universalism”; “Christian Universalism, Part 2″; and “Everlasting Punishment?”.

      Just prior to that first article on “Christian Universalism” I had written a number of articles around the subject of reincarnation (beginning with “Reincarnation and Near Death”). Reincarnation is very much a part of my “belief system” (my views are not exactly “orthodox” Christian :grin: ), so it is of course only consistent on my part to believe in “universalism”. For a person such as yourself who doesn’t mind questioning “orthodoxy”, this whole area of reincarnation and Christian universalism may prove to be very intriguing.

      I’m always delighted to find others who have seen through the traditional “second coming” views within Christianity. Keep on studying, brother. (Are you the “Mark” who has commented on Kurt Willem’s blog – formerly “Groans From Within”, but now “The Pangea Blog”?)

      • Hey thanks for your reply. Nope, I’m not the Mark who commented on another blog. I recently saw a video on youtube by a guy named Dr. Kenneth Gentry. I’m pretty sure you’re familiar with him if you’re this knowledgeable about Preterist views. I can honestly say that I’m not sure about Reincarnation or Universalism at this point, but then again, I was very sure of dispensational / premillennial beliefs until I stumbled upon Kenneth Gentry’s videos entitled “THE BEAST IDENTIFIED.” You can find the 25 part video series in the link below :

        THIS IS PART 1, BUT THE OTHER PARTS ARE EASY TO FIND IN THE SIDE BAR : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q48AAINl1ck

        May I ask how old you are, and how long you’ve been studying this stuff? Do you happen to have a facebook page? I admittedly am an amateur on a lot of it, but I’ve been putting in the time and study the past week now especially. I would like to have others around me whom I can go to if I have any questions. My eyes have been opened big time. How Nero acted like a beast. He fulfilled the 42 months found in the book of Daniel, which many believing christians thought throughout antiquity such as these men below :

        St. Athanasius (296-372)
        “And when He Who spake unto Moses, the Word of the Father, appeared in the end of the world, He also gave this commandment, saying, “But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another” [Matt. 10:23]; and shortly after He says, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place (whoso readeth, let him understand); then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains: let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes” [Matt. 24:15]. Knowing these things, the Saints regulated their conduct accordingly.” (Defense of His Flight [11])

        Augustine (379)
        “Luke, to show that the abomination spoken of by Daniel will take place when Jerusalem is captured, recalls these words of the Lord in the same context: When you shall see Jerusalem compassed about with an army, then know that the desolation thereof is at hand (xxi. 20). For Luke very clearly bears witness that the prophecy of Daniel was fulfilled when Jerusalem was overthrown.” (vol. 6, p. 170)

        Clement of Alexandria (Second Century)
        “For he said that there were two thousand three hundred days from the time that the abomination of Nero stood in the holy city, till its destruction… These two thousand three hundred days make six years four months, during the half of which Nero held sway” (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, vol. 2, p. 334)

        Eusebius Pamphilius (325)
        “But the number of calamities which every where fell upon the nation at that time; the extreme misfortunes to which the inhabitants of Judea were especially subjected, the thousands of men, as well as women and children, that perished by the sword, by famine, and by other forms of death innumerable,–all these things, as well as the many great sieges which were carried on against the cities of Judea, and the excessive. sufferings endured by those that fled to Jerusalem itself, as to a city of perfect safety, and finally the general course of the whole war, as well as its particular occurrences in detail, and how at last the abomination of desolation, proclaimed by the prophets, stood in the very temple of God, so celebrated of old, the temple which was now awaiting its total and final destruction by fire,– all these things any one that wishes may find accurately described in the history written by Josephus.” (Book III, Ch. 5)

        Jerome
        “it may be understood of the statue of Caesar, which Pilate set up in the temple; or of the equestrian statue of Adrian, which stood to the present time in the very Holy of Holies. For, according to the Old Scripture, an idol is called ‘abomination;’ “of desolation” is added, because the idol was set up in the desolated and deserted temple.” (Matthew 24:15, Quoted in Golden Chain)

        C.H. Spurgeon (1888)
        “This portion of our Saviour’s words appears to relate solely to the destruction of Jerusalem. As soon as Christ’s disciples saw “the abomination of desolation,” that is, the Roman ensigns, with their idolatries, “stand in the holy place,” they knew that the time for their escape had arrived; and they did flee to the mountains.” (Matthew: The Gospel of the Kingdom. . p. 215.

        John Wesley (1754)
        “When ye shall see the abomination of desolation – Daniel’s term is, ‘The abomination that maketh desolate’ (xi. 31); that is, the standards of the desolating legions, on which they bear the abominable images of their idols. Standing in the holy place – Not only the temple, and the mountain on which it stood, but the whole city of Jerusalem, and several furlongs of land round about it, were accounted holy; particularly the mountain on which our Lord now sat, and on which the Romans afterward planted their ensigns.”

        William Whiston (Translator of Josephus – 1737)
        “There may another very important, and very providential, reason be here assigned for this strange and foolish retreat of Cestius; which, if Josephus had been now a Christian, he might probably have taken notice of also; and that is, the affording the Jewish Christians in the city an opportunity of calling to mind the prediction and caution given them by Christ about thirty-three years and a half before, that “when they should see the abomination of desolation” [the idolatrous Roman armies, with the images of their idols in their ensigns, ready to lay Jerusalem desolate] “stand where it ought not;” or, “in the holy place;” or, “when they should see Jerusalem any one instance of a more unpolitic, but more providential, compassed with armies;” they should then “flee to the mound conduct than this retreat of Cestius visible during this whole rains.” By complying with which those Jewish Christians fled I siege of Jerusalem; which yet was providentially such a “great to the mountains of Perea, and escaped this destruction. See tribulation, as had not been from the beginning of the world to that time; no, Lit. Accompl. of Proph. p. 69, 70. Nor was there, perhaps, nor ever should be.”–Ibid. p. 70, 71.” (Wars, II, XIX, 6,7)

        “Havercamp says here :- “This is a remarkable place; and Tertullian truly says that the entire religion of the Roman camp almost consisted in worshipping the ensigns, in swearing by the ensigns, and in preferring the ensigns before all the [other] gods.” (Wars of the Jews, VI,VI,1)

        THE LIST GOES ON AND ON. I’m totally and completely convinced that all those prophecies given by John the Revelater, and Jesus Christ in Matthew 16, Luke 9, Matthew 24, and Luke 21, and Revelation all came to pass back in that time period, but now I wonder what this means for our own generation, as well as every subsequent generation after 70 AD.

        • Peace and mercy to you Mark. Thank you for the link to Kenneth Gentry’s videos. I haven’t viewed any of them yet, but I definitely intend to do so. Also, thanks for all of those quotations. It’s very encouraging to read such quotes that show major leaders in Christian thought from “bygone years” recognized the 1st century fulfillment of Biblical “last days” prophecies.

          Yes, I’m familiar with Mr. Gentry, and have found his eschatological viewpoints very helpful (along with those of several others like Gary North and J. Stuart Russell). I referred to, and quoted from, him in my article “The Second Coming, Part 3″. Unfortunately, though, he would consider me to be a “heretic” for several reasons:

          (1) I am a “full” Preterist – I do not believe there remains any future-to-us “Second Coming of Christ”. All Biblical references to that “event” were fulfilled in the 1st century A.D. Mr. Gentry is a “partial” Preterist, believing that some of the Biblical references to a future “coming” of Christ are still future to us.

          (2) I do not believe in the deity of Jesus Christ. I believe he was (and is) a human like you and me; but he was ‘anointed’ by God in a special way to serve as His human representative to his (Jesus’) brothers and sisters. While I believe God has “exalted” him to a position of “headship” over all other humans and angels, I do not believe this makes him “God the Son”, the “Second Person of the Trinity”. My denial of Jesus’ deity is of course major “heresy” for Presbyterians like Kenneth Gentry and Gary North.

          (3) As a denier of the deity of Jesus, I also deny the “substitutionary atonement” interpretation of the death and resurrection of Jesus. My view of Jesus’ “sacrifice” would probably be referred to as a “moral influence” belief. I believe Jesus’ “obedience unto death” is set forth to us as an example to be emulated; we are to take up our own “crosses” and “die” to sin and the world, in order to “rise again” to a new life in righteousness.

          (4) I do not believe in the “original sin” and “total depravity” doctrines of Evangelical Christianity. As a believer in reincarnation, I do believe that we bring with us into each lifetime influences and inclinations from previous lifetimes, so that we are not precisely born “innocent”. But this is a far cry from believing that we are “condemned” for the sin of our “first parent” Adam. All “condemnation” and “punishment” which we may incur is the result only of our own personal actions, not the actions of someone else. Again, this is “major” heresy for Evangelical Christianity.

          (5) As much as I admire the Biblical writings, and draw spiritual benefit therefrom, I do not believe in “infallible and inerrant inspiration” of the Bible. I recognize many mistakes within that book, and some particularly atrocious and offensive things. I apply the exhortation of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:20-22 to all of the Bible (not just extra-Biblical writings): “Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.

          I’ll probably e-mail you with information about how old I am and some of my “life story”. You can find some of that in my very first blog article, though (“Hello World”)

  2. Hey Stephen,

    I apologize for not getting back sooner. I have to admit that I’m very unsure of where my beliefs are at this very moment, but I can say that much of what you just typed would be considered HERESY by the majority of christians that I know (and at one time, I would have thought that as well). But as time has gone on, I’ve encountered so many different “CHRISTIANS” who have demonized one another over the silliest things. Such as this one group of 7th Day Adventists I met recently, who say that we should not use the “DRUM” when worshipping the Lord, because it is an instrument used in VooDoo in Haiti. I mean, the list of crazy things that we as believers fight over and condemn each other over, never ceases to baffle me.

    But one of the effects of being exposed to so many beliefs is that it has opened my mind up to different interpretations of Scripture. Not only that, but it has forced me to go to God Himself for more answers, wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. I never condemn anyone, or any doctrine, until I thoroughly study it for myself. The book of Proverbs and James says this below :

    Proverbs 18:13 He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame to him.

    James 1:19 Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

    I’ve been in debates and arguments over so many things now, that I’ve just learned to keep a tight lip and swallow what I’m about to say a lot of times, so that strife and division don’t occur. Quite honestly… I am sort of saddened over the outright segregation amongst fellow believers in Christ. Jesus said that the world would hate us, in John 15, and the Apostle John says something similar in 1st John 3, that we should not be surprised if the world hates us. But from what I’ve found, my most notorious “haters, and persecutors” have been other BELIEVERS IN CHRIST. I grew up going to church on and off my whole life, but it wasn’t until I graduated high school in 2001 that God really stepped into my life in a big way. It was very shocking when you become part of your supposed “SPIRITUAL FAMILY” and the only thing you run into time after time are divisive arguments. I’m only 27 years old, but needless to say, I’m already sick of it.

    I digress though. I say all of that to say this, I have learned not to put my trust in man (without verifying everything I hear with the Lord). But I am always open to learning new things. This is basically how I process information now. I learn as much as possible, and then I simply ask the Lord to iron out the wrinkles in my belief system. I meditate on what I’ve learned ad infinitum. It would probably be considered “OBSESSIVE” by most people, but I really have an interest in learning, especially when it comes to this most important topic (GOD). I will send you an email in response to the one you sent to my personal inbox. I’m excited to see what all you’ve learned over the years. I’m pretty sure that we won’t agree on everything, but I know that I always get a “Gold Nugget” whenever I run into someone who has written extensively on a particular topic, as you have.


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