Victorious Eschatology: The Rapture Part I

     Paul warned Timothy “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers, and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). The Greek word for fables is muthos meaning the truth will be substituted for fiction and falsehood. When Paul penned these words he was speaking of a time yet future. This is evidenced with the phrase, “For the time will come...” The book “Victorious Eschatology” written by Harold R. Eberle & Martin Trench is nothing less than fictitious, when casting the light of Scripture upon it, it becomes a story book or an allegory of how the church will continually grow, Satan’s kingdom will continually diminish, and only after the Church has conquered the “Seven Mountains,” (Arts & Entertainment, Business, Education, Family, Government, Media, and Religion) will Jesus Christ return, rapture the church into the clouds, purge the earth of evil, then bring the believers down to the earth with Him. Today, “truth” is thrown around with little or no Biblical accuracy at all.

     It is here I want to focus on Harold and Martin’s view of the Rapture. I am what you would call a “literalist,” in that I take Scripture at face value. I interpret Scripture with an face-value hermeneutic, I understand what we read or hear by taking what is said to us at face value. People normally don’t use allegoric language in everyday conversation nor does the Word of God. The only hermeneutic that makes the Bible alive and meaningful is the hermeneutic that takes Scripture exactly for what it says. However, I don’t ignore the many obvious figures of speech and expressions that are found in Scripture, instead I have discovered that what the text says when understood in its most normal, natural, customary sense, comparing Scripture with Scripture is the only basis for discovering truth. For example, Revelation 12:3 speaks of a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. Of course this is figurative language, it’s not talking about a beast like dragon as we see depicted in the movies. Comparing Scripture with Scripture, allowing the context to interpret this figurative creature you will discover that the great dragon is Satan (Revelation 12:9). I didn’t have to spiritualize or allegorize the Scripture to understand this truth, it’s right there in the context. The same is true of all Scripture, no matter what topic, we have to discover truth by examining every verse in context, then broaden our understanding of that truth by comparing Scripture with Scripture.

     The same is true of the Rapture, a careful study of God’s Word on this subject reveals that the rapture is the crowning point of the church. It is an event which will be witnessed by the entire world, visible, and historic (Matthew 24:29-31; Revelation 1:7). Below are a few quotes from the book “Victorious Eschatology,” the first is in the section “What Others Are Saying p. iii” and the others are quotes from the authors themselves.

I cannot imagine getting up every morning with a de-featist attitude about life. Nor can I imagine serving a God who cannot overcome evil, but simply snatches away a few poor souls. Harold Eberle and Martin Trench’s new book, Victorious Eschatology, gives us a clear understanding of what to expect as kings of the King.”                                   Don Atkins: President, Kingdomquest International Ministries

     It is painfully obvious from the remarks of Don Atkins that he doesn’t possess of proper view of the rapture. First, no eschatological writer no matter which view he holds too has a defeatist attitude about life or the rapture, most view the rapture as victorious. Secondly, when the Lord Jesus Christ does appear, he will not simply snatch away a few poor souls. A look at a classic rapture passage will dispel any doubts that at the rapture only a few poor souls will be snatched away. What we will see is a momentous event in church history (yet future) and the victorious rise of the church to immortality.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

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. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 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. 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 this we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, comfort one another with these words.

     This text is the chief biblical source of the doctrine of the Rapture, both the dead and the living are in view as Jesus Christ returns to receive the church unto himself. The “rapture” and the return of Christ in this passage is intended to yield present comfort, not defeat. As the text says, ALL who have trusted Jesus Christ for salvation are present, the dead and the living, in the clouds of the air. The rapture will be an historic reunion of the Body of Christ, the church, and in this moment “…we shall all be changed, 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” (1 Cor. 15:52). I don’t see a defeatist attitude here, but a victorious, historic moment as we exchange this mortal body for immortality.

     As you will see below, the rapture in the partial preterist camp is thrown aside as one would toss an old garment to the floor. Their analogy of the rapture is compared to “grave clothes” while authority and power over the enemy is associated with a “wedding gown.”

“We need a shift that will move the Church from a rapture mentality to a harvest theology. We must take off the grave clothes and put on the wedding gown as the bride of Christ. We are the bride of Christ, and the Groom is coming for His bride, but He is coming for a bride in victory that is bringing the kingdom of God on the earth by fulfilling the will of the Father.  We are not the Church in failure, running out the back door while the devil kicks in the front door. We are the Church of Luke 10:19 that has authority over all the power of the enemy.  One thing that I have noticed is that Christians who focus on the harvest don’t really have much time to worry about a rapture. Their goal is to get as many people into the kingdom as possible in preparation for the wedding. A victorious eschatology will put a rap- ture mind-set behind and a harvest work before you.” (Victorious Eschatology p. ix Cal Pierce; Director, Healing Rooms Ministries International)

     We need a shift that will move the Church from a rapture mentality to a harvest theology? I have to say, in the twelve years I spent in the Charismatic church, I saw very little evangelism, if indeed that is what they mean by harvest theology. The reality of the rapture itself and the Christians love for Christ’s appearing is and should be the motivation to focus on the harvest. The veracity of the rapture and the future glorification of the Church is and should be the stimulus to keep the faith, finish the race, fight the good fight, regardless of the battles, to achieve victory for the Gospel, and by doing so we secure the future promise of reward. Paul saw his live as a drink offering poured out for the sake of the Gospel, and Paul himself did so out of his love for the appearing of Christ, the rapture. He looked beyond his own death to the day when Christ would appear to gather His church unto Himself. “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” – 2 Timothy 4:6-8 Like Paul, it takes an active certitude expressed in obedience, persistence, and sacrifice which acquires victory, not power and authority. A.W. Tozer is quoted as saying, “A reason for the absence of real yearning for Christ’s return is that Christians are comfortable in this world they have little desire to leave it.” Seems to be the case with dominion theology advocates.

     Ironic isn’t it, Paul looked to the appearing of Christ (2 Tim. 4:8), Abraham waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Heb. 11:10), all the patriarchs of faith died in faith, not having received the promises having seen them afar but looked to a city prepared for them by God (Heb 11:13-16), but the authors of “Victorious Eschatology” teach we need to put a rapture mind-set behind us. In fact from their own words, if you do have a rapture mind-set, your running out the back door while Satan is kicking in the front door, a failure.

3 thoughts on “Victorious Eschatology: The Rapture Part I

  1. Excellent teaching. Please don’t stop even though I am only just finding your site. It has been a God sent to me. Blessings, Michelle

  2. Thanks Brother Don, I know your heart as well, I know your passion for the persecuted christians around the world. Your right, very little in the prophetic/charismatic camp has very little to do with evangelism. That’s what bothers me so much. Jesus made it clear, Go and preach the gospel to every nation. This is the heart of God for this world or else He would not have sent His Son Jesus into it to die for our sin. I just wish more church leadership would move away from the mystical and focus on the Gospel message and discipling God’s people. Guess I have to keep blogging, I don’t have a voice in the church so this is the only avenue I have to put it out there. God bless you and your wife as you labor in God’s field.
    Your friend,

  3. Thanks for the great word, Mike. I know your heart and much effort was put into it. I agree that most of the activity of the prophetic/charismatic camp has very little to do with evangelism, the declaration of truth to a lost generation, and their repentance and conversion. Instead, the focus is on what Bill Johnson declares to be the debt we owe this generation, which in his own words is “an encounter with the supernatural.” I don’t know exactly where he gets this “mandate” from, but it certainly is not the Word of God. Several generations now have witnessed the egotistical, power and experience driven charismatic church and have weighed in heavily with their lack of interest, or their soon-boredom instead of becoming followers of Jesus Christ. It is all pretty simple to me. Jesus gave the mandate. It has not changed. He established the pattern, the model. It has not changed. It will not change “to the end of the age.”
    Peace to you and Pat.
    Your friends,
    Don and Carol Barnett

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