Friday, June 15, 2018
“I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day” (2 Tim. 1:12). Until what Day? “Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him…Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition” (2 Thess. 2:1–3). The Day of the Lord at the resurrection rapture of saints.
Jesus said “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23). Not only is that choice difficult, but the path beyond even more so. Some come to faith in Christ in a memorable moment of time and day, others over an extended period of time. But all must enter by the “narrow gate” of Christ and travel the “difficult path” that leads to life as Jesus taught at Matt. 7:13–14. And that’s God’s unchangeable Word.
Yet, men have changed it. Many decades ago the Church began making the gate wide and the path easy. Men changed God’s terms to gratify those who feared Roman Catholicism as many remembered the indulgences and murders of the popes and their Jesuit priests. Many reformers rightly taught that the papal throne would prove to be the seat of end-time Antichrist. And many Christians wanted those fears relieved, and theologian John Darby answered the call.
After the Reformation the overt murder of saints diminished as the evils of Roman Catholicism came to light. Satan then laid a deception that exchanged the “narrow gate” and “difficult path” for an easier one – one that would allay Christians’ fears by nullifying God’s Word that Christ gathers His elect “Immediately after the tribulation” (Matt. 24:29–31). Thus, with the threat of Antichrist and the tribulation removed, the gate widened and the path to the end greatly eased.
Largely today the definition of a Christian has become whether or not one attends a church, and with that are led to think they are saved. It wasn’t always like that. Church fathers and preachers like Charles Spurgeon and others are proof. Fear of the Roman popes began the downward spiral to the wide gate and easy path. Satan, finding a willing vessel in Darby in 1827, deceptively, yet theologically, attacked the faith required to endure the end-time tribulation of this present age.
If Satan could nullify Christ’s teaching that He gathers His elect saints “Immediately after the tribulation” with a pre-tribulation rapture lie, he would greatly enlarge the end-time falling away. So he made the end-time path easy by spiritually seducing many that Jesus’ Olivet Discourse at Matthew 24 was not meant for the Church. And many Christians eagerly bought the lie.
Think of it, millions of Christians were relieved as the “difficult path” became easy, hence its popularity. God’s promise that Antichrist would “overcome” the saints (Dan. 7:21, Rev. 13:7) was now of no consequence! The Seal, Trumpet and Bowl Judgments, gone! No tribulation or great tribulation! Famines, pestilences, offenses and being hated by all nations, all gone! All the Biblical knowledge God gave us of the end-times otherwise intended to prepare saints for the last seven years of this age was gone! It seems that John Darby took his cue from President Thomas Jefferson who literally cut out portions of the Bible that didn’t suit him. And that’s exactly what pre-tribulation rapture theologians, preachers, teachers and their followers have done.
God doesn’t want Christians to fear the end-times, but to be equipped in knowledge and power of the Spirit to engage those times, and be a witness to the lost. For Jesus said of the tribulation that “it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony” (Luke 21:13). But the pre-trib rapture tradition has destroyed the need for end-time knowledge and endurance to the end at the last day.
Darby said Matt. 24 is not for the Church, thus, men have silenced God’s Word. Darby said it’s for unbelieving Jews. He nullified Jesus’ testimony and God’s character wherein the Spirit said “there is no partiality with God” (Rom. 2:11). For Jesus taught Nicodemus, “a ruler of the Jews” (John 3:1), that “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). Thus, using Darby’s theological rationale of discrimination between Jews and non-Jews, why does the evangelical Church contradict that rationale and teach that non-Jews must be born again?
The greatest threat to the Church is not from outside, but from within. Note the strong warning from the Holy Spirit by Paul: “For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves” (Acts 20:29–30).
And that’s just what happened. Men, fearful and discontent with God’s promise of the coming end-times with its Antichrist, became willing recipients of deceiving spirits that promised the Church it was excluded from that “difficult path”, and thus they exchanged the truth for a lie.
If you’ve been on the easy pre-trib rapture path, please believe Christ and move to the “difficult path”, because you will then believe Christ’s truths and be equipped to endure to the end, (Matt. 24:13). You will also remove the possibility of offense when Antichrist is revealed, for Jesus warned that when the persecutions of the tribulation begin “then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another” (Matt. 24:10).
“In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his 1967 Steelers Lecture) Sadly, in our final generation of this present age, the silence of our friends, refusing to defend Jesus Christ’s end-time truths is deafening.
Marlin J. Yoder