The Frightening Consequences of Failing
To Rightly Divide God’s Word
The First of Three Bible Studies on
"Rightly Dividing God's Word"
Topical Index For This Series
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The Frightening Consequences of Failing
To Rightly Divide God’s Word
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Sin Consciousness and Self-Cleaning
Our Wedding Garments: Two Spiritually
Toxic Practices Of 'The Different Gospel'
Does God Ever Reject Our Obedience?
On this website we respect the New Testament admonition to “rightly divide the Word of Truth” as taught by Saint Paul in 2 Timothy 2:15. The word “divide” means separating something into two parts. Paul warned that rightly (or correctly) dividing God’s Word is directly tied to God’s approval of the professing Christian believer. This is a vitally important, yet generally ignored truth. The Bible contains two radically different spiritual programs: “The administration of Law” given to Israel -- and “God’s administration of Grace” (also called “The New Covenant”) given to the New Testament Church through the cross of Christ (John 1:14-17).
Paul warned Timothy to “rightly divide” (or correctly divide) between these two programs and never commit the error of mixing them together. Yet, when we examine many foundational Christian teachings, an alarming situation begins to emerge. It is estimated that more than 80 per cent of the institutional church ignores Paul’s instruction and mixes (or merges) Israel’s administration of Law with the Church’s administration of Grace. This mixing occurs under the general label of “Christian and Bible fundamentalism”. It creates a spiritually illegal “third system of theology” that redefines God’s unmerited gift of eternal life (Rom. 6:23, Eph. 2:8-9, Rom. 4:4-8, Rom. 11:6, Rom. 11:29, Titus 3:5-7) into a “conditional salvation” based on a person’s obedience to some ethical code of conduct, which is subtly tied to The Law of the Old Testament. The “conditional salvation” of the Law effectively holds the acknowledgement of a believer’s salvation hostage until some unspecified level of obedience is obtained and recognized. This popular system of salvation based on Old Testament Law essentially prevents its followers from having absolute confidence that they have met God’s conditions to possess eternal life. As a result, it generates unimaginable fear, anxiety and spiritual bondage. Yet, under the Grace of Christ's new and better Covenant (Hebrews 8:6-13), every believer can be absolutely confident that they have eternal life because God offers it as His unmerited gift.
An Irreconcilable Problem
The following commentary represents an ongoing effort to shed light on a serious problem in the Christian Church, which has existed since its birth. In the first century (several years after the crucifixion of Christ) an intense doctrinal war about how salvation is obtained started INSIDE THE CHURCH between two similar, yet opposing ”systems of faith”. At a meeting of the first century apostolic church leadership (some call it “The First Jerusalem Apostolic Council”), led by James (our Lord’s brother), put this problem permanently to rest (or so they thought) in Acts chapter 15. However, the influential group the council ruled against refused to abide by their decision. As a result, they proceeded to spread their doctrine throughout the church. The teachings are now popular and continue to spread today under countless different names and labels.
That Causes Massive Confusion
In the Church
The Apostle Paul, who documented nearly half of the New Testament part of the Bible, tried to stop this influence that he labeled, "a different gospel and another Jesus". The word “gospel” is simply a name given to a doctrine or teaching that describes the way eternal life (or salvation) is obtained. Paul opposed these false teachings because they quietly replaced Christ's authentic Gospel of Grace - with a counterfeit (or look-alike) gospel that made Christ’s salvation either partially or entirely dependent (contrary to Scripture) upon the works and religious performance principles of Old Testament Law. This stealth "gospel swap-out" creates a false faith in Christ that offers its followers a deceptive salvation that can actually disqualify them from possessing eternal life and its many benefits, which Christ made available after the cross. We use the phrase “deceptive salvation” to describe the popular practice of lifting Scripture from its context and using it in a way that God never intended. When Scripture is used “out of context”, it continues to look like a valid Bible verse BECAUSE THE WORDING REMAINS THE SAME. Yet, by changing the context, its original intended meaning is quietly altered in a way that few Christian believers can detect - BECAUSE THE WORDING REMAINS THE SAME. This is why Scripture is always used in defense of the “different gospel”. However, the context of this Scripture is skillfully altered, which also alters the way God intended it to be understood. Critics and a majority of spiritual leaders use this tactic TO MAKE IT APPEAR THAT GOD SAYS SOMETHING FROM THE BIBLE THAT HE DOES NOT SAY. It’s a dishonest defense methodology that is nearly impossible to defeat. This practice is always found in churches that refuse to observe Paul’s warning to “Rightly (or correctly) divide the Word of Truth” - and teaches it "undivided" instead.
The Disastrous Way Modern Church
Rather than agreeing with Paul and contending for the authentic faith of Christ, a majority of modern church leaders from various denominations decided to permanently fix this problem, which was causing division and hindering growth in their churches. The effort actually started in the first century, but has resurfaced and gained popularity in the last several hundred years. The solution was to mix together the different doctrines (or theology) of these two opposing positions outlined in Acts chapter 15. This was the beginning of the popular “Christian Unity and Church Growth Movement”. The efforts of these men were successful and most of the division subsided for awhile. But, this apparent benefit came at the horrific price of corrupting Christ's Gospel, which carries many unintended spiritual and eternal consequences. Some of the foundational “doctrines of the Christian faith”, such as our “free justification by faith in Christ” (Romans 3:24-26) were cast aside, redefined or marginalized because they caused too much controversy and rekindled division. The practice of mixing together (or merging) the doctrines of these two opposing groups from Acts chapter 15 (commonly known as Law and Grace) now adds to the already massive confusion in the church by creating a third religious system of faith that contain elements of both Biblical truth and religious error. This mixture, derived from an out-of-context interpretation of the Bible, is nearly impossible to identify and sort out, especially for believers inexperienced in spiritual matters. A vast majority of professing Christians and their leaders wrongly think that this “third religious system” represents God’s original intention for the gospel because the Scripture used in its defense comes from the Bible. They are programmed to think that you can use any Scripture to defend your position because it’s all “God’s Word” and its context isn’t that important. Yet, the One who authored God’s Word disagrees.
Leadership Tried to Solve the Problem
Concerned theologians and students of the Bible use various names to identify this very popular, yet disastrous theology, which goes virtually unchallenged in the worldwide institutional Christian Church. It is dominant on both the Catholic and Protestant sides of the isle. The teaching is generally known as "The Galatian error" or "Galatian religion", named after the first century congregation where it first started. Some preachers correctly refer to it as "Christian religion" for reasons that are covered in this study. Some older, more experienced believers simply call it “legalism”. We decided to put this information "front and center" on the homepage of the website because it represents one of the most serious threats to the truth of Christ's Gospel that exists today. The threat is more serious because it comes from our own ranks, which makes it look benign and unimportant. This is why many believers are programmed by their church or denomination to ignore the danger and the spiritual consequences. Concerning this threat, Paul gave the following advice to all professing Christians:
"EXAMINE YOURSELVES AS TO WHETHER YOU ARE IN THE FAITH. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? -- UNLESS INDEED YOU ARE DISQUALIFIED." (2 Corinthians 13:5 NKJV)
Various Bible teachers refer to the popular practice of mixing Law and Grace as “Galatian Religion” or “the Galatian error” because of where it began in the first century. However, it didn’t stay in the Galatian congregation, but spread through various congregations like a lethal spiritual virus. Even the Corinthian Church was affected by this influence. The New Testament sounds a terrifying warning about this common Christian doctrine, which is now dominant and goes virtually unchallenged in the institutional church. Bible Scholar C.I. Scofield adds his warning in a footnote in his popular study Bible by saying:
“If the message excludes Grace, or mingles Law with Grace as the means of justification or sanctification, or denies the fact or guilt of sin which alone gives Grace its occasion and opportunity, IT IS ANOTHER GOSPEL AND THE PREACHER OF IT IS UNDER THE ANATHEMA OF GOD.”
Scofield also warned:
“PROTESTANT THEOLOGY IS FOR THE MOST PART THOROUGHLY GALATIANIZED, in that neither the law or grace is given its distinct and separate place as in the counsels of God, BUT THEY ARE MINGLED TOGETHER IN ONE INCOHERENT SYSTEM.”
Scofield’s use of the term “anathema of God” echoes the same horrific warning Paul voiced to the congregation of believers at Galatia.
"I MARVEL THAT YOU ARE TURNING AWAY SO SOON FROM HIM WHO CALLED YOU IN THE GRACE OF CHRIST, TO A DIFFERENT GOSPEL, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you AND WANT TO PERVERT THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST. BUT EVEN IF WE, OR AN ANGEL FROM HEAVEN, PREACH ANY OTHER GOSPEL TO YOU THAN WHAT WE HAVE PREACHED TO YOU, LET HIM BE ACCURSED." (Galatians 1:6-8 NKJV -- Emphasis Mine)
"FOR AS MANY AS ARE OF THE WORKS OF THE LAW ARE UNDER THE CURSE; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them.” BUT THAT NO ONE IS JUSTIFIED BY THE LAW IN THE SIGHT OF GOD IS EVIDENT, for “the just shall live by faith.” YET THE LAW IS NOT OF FAITH..." (Galatians 3:10-12 -- Emphasis Mine)
"You have become estranged (separated) from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; YOU HAVE FALLEN FROM GRACE." (Galatians 5:4 -- Emphasis Mine)
Both words (anathema and accursed) carry the same frightening and tragic message. Simply understood these words mean:
“Living in the unrealized condition of being rejected by God, while thinking you're a committed and obedient Christian in a right relationship with Him.”
This “other gospel” misleads its followers by looking like “fundamental Bible teaching”. Church leaders in the popular "Christian Unity and Church Growth Movement" attempt to wrongly portray this aberrant gospel as just a "difference of opinion" in order to avoid emotional disagreements and division. But, the Bible warns that it's a false religous system established on out-of-context Scripture, which can lead its followers dangerously astray in their faith. This "other gospel" is found in both Catholicism and Protestantism under countless different names and labels. Many popular and highly educated church leaders teach its principles. Contrary to some mainstream beliefs, the “accursed” condition both Paul and Scofield warns about is not caused by bad behavior, a lack of holiness or by unrepented sin - WHICH ARE THINGS EVERY CHRISTIAN SHOULD AVOID FOR THE RIGHT REASONS. Instead, this "accursed" condition is caused by teaching, believing and living under what Paul called “a perverted (or corrupted) gospel message” (Galatians 1:6-8, Galatians 3:1-3, Galatians 3:10-12, Galatians 5:4) that mixes together the administrations of Old Testament Law and New Testament Grace in violation of the Scriptural rules of context. We repeat this warning throughout all our commentaries at the risk of sounding redundant for a very good reason. It is this unpopular and often ignored New Testament truth that reveals why many churches, denominations and movements that carry the name "Christian" and claim to teach the Bible - do not represent Jesus Christ or our Heavenly Father. Once again, the information presented by Paul and Scofield is one of the most horrific warnings found in the New Testament and something every Christian believer must confront in their spiritual walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Misleading and Seductive
Bible teachers and theologians who properly understand Christ's great salvation warn about a seductive religious counterfeit, which has existed since the first century. You'll hear them make comments like, "CHRISTIANITY IS NOT A RELIGION - IT'S A RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD." We agree! Yet, a vast majority of spiritual leaders in the church (and their followers) redefine Christ's sacrifice into "Christian religion" that travels under popular names and labels. Many of us don't stop to think about the important distinction of religion vs. relationship. Many Christians are surprised to learn that Jesus did not come to establish another world religion. He came to restore Adam's lost relationship (and friendship) with God. Most religions have some type of "written code of laws" that define the conditions and qualifications necessary to obtain their definition of "personal salvation". Christian religion is no different. It's the reason Christian religion teaches "a conditional salvation". If your obedience to the rules is adequate, your salvation is judged to be "legitimate and valid". However, if your conduct or behavior "misses the mark" when compared to the code, your salvation is either in question or judged to have never existed to begin with.
Nature of Christian Religion
A majority of professing Christians involved in this kind of religion live in denial about a serious problem with their faith. As we repeatedly state in our commentaries, this problem has existed since the first century church and was identified AND CONDEMNED by the apostolic leadership led by James in Acts chapter 15. Our repeated warnings in other commentaries do not represent some "personal vendetta" or “private belief” that only we possess. This same threat motivated men like Saint Paul, who wrote nearly half of the New Testament, to openly condemn this misleading theology using offensive and inflammatory terms that he knew would anger its supporters. He didn't seek to preserve Christian unity by avoiding the necessary divisiveness that always accompanies truth. None of the early church apostles elevated unity above truth. Yet, many sectors of the modern church practices their religious beliefs in this way.
PAUL CONSTANTLY WARNED THAT THE
CONDITIONAL WORKS-BASED SALVATION
TAUGHT BY CHRISTIAN RELIGION IS
NOT FROM GOD, YET IT HAS THE
ILLUSION OF LOOKING LIKE THE
TEACHINGS OF THE BIBLE.
A "conditional salvation" must be associated to a codified law and a regiment of religious works that defines the rules that must be satisfied to obtain its benefits. Problems begin to surface when the conditions and requirements of the system constantly change according to a leader's (or an entire denomination's) interpretation of the Bible. The common theology found in Christian religion makes it impossible for its followers to have any assurance that they've successfully met God's requirements to possess and keep eternal life (salvation). We generally refer to this type of counterfeit faith in Christ as "tread-mill religion" (in some commentaries we call it "squirrel-cage religion"). The Apostle Paul condemned the teaching as "religious bondage" (Galatians 2:4-5 and Galatians 5:1) and referred to its followers as “false brethren”, which should be a strong warning to all members of the world-wide institutional Christian Church.
Once again, Paul’s condemnation of this religious doctrine represents one of the strongest warnings in the New Testament. Yet, it’s ignored by most of the church. The trap is sprung when a person fails to accept the authentic Gospel of Christ and is persuaded to live by what Saint Paul called, “a different gospel of Christ”. This different gospel offers a “conditional salvation” based on the good works and religious performance requirements of Old Testament Law, which is then mixed with the tenants of Grace. This "different gospel" sets up an abusive spiritual environment where a person can never have full assurance that they've satisfied God's behavioral and performance conditions to be saved....so they keep working, trying to be "more holy, more righteous and more faithful", hoping that their efforts are enough to avoid God's rejection and their final destination in hell. The “different gospel” establishes a dangerous type of “counterfeit faith in Christ” based on out-of-context Scripture. Since doubts always exist about whether God’s conditions for salvation are met, this type of faith creates intense fear and mental torment for the unfortunate church member under its influence. Churches and denominations that abuse spiritual authority commonly operate under this “different gospel” (or what we call “treadmill religion”) because it advances their ministry agenda and traditions. This is not a small and insignificant problem. It is so prevalent that it's difficult to provide all the various names associated with the practice.
In contrast to the conditional salvation of Christian religion is God's gift of eternal life (Rom. 6:23, Eph. 2:8-9, Rom. 4:4-8, Rom. 11:6, Rom. 11:29, Titus 3:5-7). The Bible refers to this new faith system that God initiated after the cross as "The New Covenant of Christ". The book of Hebrews calls it "CHRIST'S NEW AND LIVING WAY". (Carefully Read: Matt. 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20, 1 Cor. 11:25, 2 Cor. 3:6, Heb. 8:6-13, Heb. 9:15, Heb. 12:24).
"Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS (THE NEW COVENANT), BY A NEW AND LIVING WAY WHICH HE (JESUS) CONSECRATED FOR US, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, LET US DRAW NEAR WITH A TRUE HEART IN FULL ASSURANCE OF FAITH, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, FOR HE WHO PROMISED IS FAITHFUL." (Hebrews 10:19-23 - Emphasis Added)
The Believer's Assurance of Salvation
The authentic Gospel found in Christ's New Covenant is established on the unmerited characteristics of Grace (or God's undeserved favor). When properly understood, IT REMOVES ALL DOUBT AND PROVIDES ABSOLUTE ASSURANCE THAT THE BELIEVER SECURELY POSSESSES ETERNAL LIFE. Since Christ's salvation is offered as, God's unmerited gift to us (Grace means unmerited and undeserved favor), it can never depend on laws demanding certain works (Carefully read Romans 4:4-8, Romans 6:14, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 5:18-21, Philippians 3:9 and Titus 3:5-7). It is obtained by simple child-like faith (trust) in Jesus Christ and His name. It is only faith "in Jesus Christ and His name" that provides salvation and not our good behavior, labor and spiritual service. IT IS GOD'S WILL FOR THE CHRISTIAN BELIEVER "TO KNOW (OR HAVE ABSOLUTE ASSURANCE) THAT THEY HAVE ETERNAL LIFE" (Pay close attention to 1 John 5:11-13 quoted below).
Is Connected To Faith in Jesus Christ and
His Name - with No Dependence on Works
"And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. THESE THINGS I HAVE WRITTEN TO YOU WHO BELIEVE IN THE NAME OF THE SON OF GOD, THAT YOU MIGHT KNOW THAT YOU HAVE ETERNAL LIFE, AND THAT YOU MAY CONTINUE TO BELIEVE IN THE NAME OF THE SON OF GOD." (1 John 5:11-13 - Emphasis Added)
"...AND BE FOUND IN HIM, NOT HAVING MINE OWN RIGHTEOUSNESS, WHICH IS OF THE LAW, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith..."(Philippians 3:9 - Emphasis Added)
"NOR IS THERE SALVATION IN ANY OTHER, FOR THERE IS NO OTHER NAME (THE NAME OF JESUS) UNDER HEAVEN GIVEN AMONG MEN BY WHICH WE MUST BE SAVED.” (Acts 4:12 - Emphasis Added)
"But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. FOR WHOEVER CALLS ON THE NAME OF THE LORD SHALL BE SAVED.” (Romans 10:8-13)
"FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD THAT HE GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON, THAT WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM SHOULD NOT PERISH BUT HAVE EVERLASTING LIFE. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, BECAUSE HE HAS NOT BELIEVED IN THE NAME OF THE ONLY BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD." (John 3:16-18 - Emphasis Added)
These Scriptural facts anger the many followers of Christian "treadmill" religion, who then wrongly accuse those teaching the Grace message of throwing out the Law, watering down the gospel and preaching an "easy believism" (or what they sometimes call "greasy grace"). One angry fundamentalist preacher publically said that those who preach Christ's Gospel of Grace are members of "the grace cult", which he suggested was "of the devil". Yet, when examining these emotionally-charged words, we discover that they are false and misleading. Under God's Grace, the Law is not "thrown out". After the cross, God changes its role and function by writing it on the believer's heart, where it now guides and influences them from within (Hebrews 8:8-12). Yet, in its new role - the Law no longer has the power to condemn a person as it did under the Old Testament program.
The judgment and condemnation for all
sin (past-present and future) is removed
because Jesus bore these liabilities at
the cross as our substitute.
The cross of Christ (or New Covenant) changed all the previously existing "Old Testament Rules" regarding how salvation is obtained, which is why the Bible now calls it "CHRIST'S NEW AND LIVING WAY" (Hebrews 10:19-23).
Instead of obedience to certain principles connected to Old Testament Law validating a person's salvation, the totally sufficient sacrificial death of Jesus Christ becomes God's new accepted standard for the believer. Instead of salvation depending on obedience to the Law;
IT NOW RESTS ENTIRELY ON THE COMPLETED
WORK OF JESUS CHRIST THE SON OF GOD,
WHO FULFILLED THE LAW FOR US. THIS IS
WHY JESUS IS CALLED "THE LAMB OF GOD".
HE BECAME THE SACRIFICE THAT TAKES AWAY
ALL OF THE BELIEVER'S SIN (PAST, PRESENT
The Law, specifically the Ten Commandments, provides an important function because it helps us identify and avoid sin. The Law also continues to give us the guidelines for personal holiness. Faithfulness to God, good works and Christian service tied to "holy living" are good practices all Christian believers should desire. The Bible tells us to pursue these spiritual attributes for the right reasons. However, under the new and living way of Christ (established on God's unmerited and undeserved favor), THE NEW TESTAMENT FORBIDS any Bible teacher, minister, preacher, evangelist, church group or denomination to use these "good practices" as requirements or pre-conditions to obtain and keep eternal life - which has now, AFTER THE CROSS, been given its new role as GOD'S GIFT. Saint Paul warned that these well-intentioned people who are preachers and teachers of "Christian treadmill religion" unknowingly have a curse on their ministry (Galatians 1:6-8, Galatians 3:10-12 and Galatians 5:1). He warns that this popular merit-based doctrine (Paul called it "a different gospel") is modified and designed to look and sound like God’s Word - but it doesn't come from Him (2 Corinthians 11:12-15).
A Brief Study on End-Time Bible
Several years ago we decided to expand the Rock of Offence website to include subjects dealing with the end time events of the Bible. This area of study is also known as Eschatology, which includes the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
Prophecy and How It Directly Applies
To Christ’s Salvation
During His earthly ministry (His first coming), Jesus taught that He would “come again” at some future time following His sacrificial death at the cross. On ascension day (after his crucifixion and resurrection) in Acts 1:11, an angel told those watching Him disappear into the sky, “This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven”. Jesus told his followers about specific events that would occur shortly before His future return. Jesus said that when we see certain things begin to happen, “...look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28). He specifically used the word “redemption” when describing His Second Coming. The word “Redemption” is often used instead of the word “Salvation” because they reference the same Divine act. The term “redemption” involves someone paying a ransom price to secure the freedom and release of a hostage. In such a transaction, the person paying the ransom is literally “purchasing” the life of the hostage, who would otherwise be put to death. In such situations, the behavior and merit of the hostage does not influence or validate their redemption. In a similar way, Jesus Christ “redeemed” us (or purchased us) by using His own blood to pay the ransom price for our release from spiritual death. This is why the word salvation and the word redemption are used interchangeably. For this reason, Jesus, referring to His Second Coming, could have said, “...look up and lift up your heads, for your salvation draws near”. THIS IS THE REASON THE RAPTURE AND THE SECOND COMING OF CHRIST ARE SALVATION EVENTS.
It is estimated that 1 out of every 25 verses in the New Testament is directly related to Christ's promised return. However, when looking at all the Holy Scriptures (both the Old and New Testament), nearly one third involves Bible prophecy that points either directly or indirectly to the climax of Christ's Second Coming. Spiritual leaders that refuse to discuss these issues are avoiding a large and important part of the Bible. Many believe that an event commonly referred to as “the rapture” falls under this area of “Eschatology”. For this reason, they consider it “optional or nonessential”. Yet, we will see that this belief about the topic of the rapture being “optional or nonessential” couldn’t be further from the truth.
As we prayerfully study all Scripture dealing with Christ’s Second Coming, we begin to see some important truths. When we listen to what Jesus said before the cross and compare His words - to the words of Saint Paul, who taught on the same subject in his epistles written after the cross, a complete and exciting story comes into view. To see the whole picture, you have to study everything both Jesus christ and Paul taught on the subject. When we put all the facts together and respect the context of the Bible, we discover that The Second Coming of Christ occurs in two distinct, yet connected events. The Bible teaches (in the book of Daniel) that both events (similar to “book-ends”) are separated by a period of seven years. This seven year period (or a “week” of years) is known as “Daniel’s Seventieth Week” and is also called “The time of Jacob’s trouble”. This Seventieth Week of Daniel provides an important timeline for the end times. It is a future time of trouble (or tribulation) that God uses to bring the Israelites, who recently returned to their covenant land in 1948, into His salvation just before Christ’s Second Coming. It is also a time that God uses to judge all the nations of the world for rejecting His Son. This seven year period (week of years, week=7) carries the name “Jacob’s trouble” because God designed it only for unbelieving Israel and the remaining unbelieving nations of the world. IT IS A SEVEN YEAR PERIOD OF VARIOUS JUDGMENTS RESERVED FOR THE UNBELIEVING PEOPLE OF THE EARTH. God uses this trouble or tribulation period to bring in a final (and large) global harvest of souls, FOCUSED ON ISRAEL, before His Son returns. This seven year period is not designed for the believing Church, who received Christ’s salvation and was made perfectly clean, righteous and worthy by the blood of the Lamb of God "Who takes away the sin of the world". Jesus paid the ransom price in his own blood TO BOTH PURCHASE AND RAPTURE AWAY (REDEEM) HIS CHURCH - AND ALL BELIEVERS IN IT.
"...BEING JUSTIFIED FREELY BY HIS GRACE THROUGH THE REDEMPTION THAT IS IN CHRIST JESUS, whom God set forth as a propitiation BY HIS BLOOD, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. (Romans 3:24-26 -- Emphasis Mine)
"But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, AND THE BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST HIS SON CLEANSES US FROM ALL SIN." (1 John 1:7 -- Emphasis Mine)
"In Him (Jesus Christ) you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, YOU WERE SEALED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT OF PROMISE, WHO IS THE GUARANTEE OF OUR INHERITANCE UNTIL THE REDEMPTION OF THE PURCHASED POSSESSION (ALL TRUE BELIEVERS), to the praise of His glory." (Ephesians 1:13-14 NKJV) (Also Read About “God’s Guarantee” In 2 Corinthians 1:22 and 2 Corinthians 5:5)
The Bible warns that Christ’s Second Coming takes place in two distinct, yet connected phases. First to occur is the removal (or departure) of the believing Church from the earth. Jesus referred to this event as “an escape” that God provides for the “worthy ones” before God's judgment and condemnation is poured out upon the earth (Mark 13:19 and Luke 21:25-36). To correctly understand this event, we need to remember that the way God reckons a person to be "worthy" changed after the cross and is no longer based on personal works and merit - as it was before the cross under the Old Testament program (Romans 8:4-8). Additional information about New Covenant righteousness (or worthiness) is available HERE. The rapture event happens pre-judgment or, as some choose to call it; "pre-tribulational". In order to keep from violating God's character as "a just judge", the escape Jesus speaks of can't be anything but "pre-judgment" - since Jesus Himself bore all of the believer's judgment and condemnation at the cross. More information is available HERE and HERE and HERE
"But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, AND THAT DAY COME UPON YOU UNEXPECTEDLY. FOR IT WILL COME AS A SNARE ON ALL THOSE WHO DWELL ON THE FACE OF THE WHOLE EARTH. Watch therefore, and pray always THAT YOU MAY BE COUNTED WORTHY TO ESCAPE ALL THESE THINGS THAT WILL COME TO PASS, and to stand before the Son of Man." (Luke 21:25-36 - Emphasis Added)
All authentic believers in the New Covenant Church (also known as the Body of Christ and the Bride of Christ) are made worthy only by His blood (and not by their works, merit, personal holiness or spiritual service) and becomes fully eligible and qualified for “the escape” that Jesus spoke about ON THE BASIS OF FAITH IN CHRIST’S REDEEMING BLOOD ALONE. He warned that the coming time of intense trouble or tribulation would fall “on the whole earth”. Therefore, if you understand the real intended meaning of Christ’s words, a person would have to somehow “escape from the world" to avoid the judgment. In other Scripture, Jesus expands on the nature of this escape by explaining how some “will be taken” (they suddenly vanish), while others “will be left” (Matthew 24:40-41). As amazing as it sounds, this is where God removes some people from the earth, but leaves others behind for judgment. If you’re someone who claims to believe the Bible, you can’t just dismiss what Jesus and Saint Paul is teaching, simply because it’s so extraordinary and offends your theology. Our God is in the business of doing amazing things, which often offends the theology of overly religious people, who distort the truth. A similar event happened in the Old Testament where, “...Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:4). The Bible - God’s Word is either giving you the truth or it’s a lie. The Lord Jesus Christ called this departure from the earth, “an escape” that God provides for the “worthy ones” before the trouble He warns about hits like a giant global tsunami. Saint Paul gives more detail when he explains how ALL authentic Christian believers “who are alive and remain on earth - WILL BE CAUGHT UP TO MEET THE LORD IN THE AIR and will ever be with the Lord”. It’s important to know that this term “caught up”, as Paul uses it, can also be correctly interpreted as “rapture”.
THIS “CATCHING AWAY” EVENT IS THE
“PRE-TRIBULATION ESCAPE” THAT JESUS
TAUGHT ABOUT, WHICH PRECEDES HIS
PHYSICAL SECOND COMING TO EARTH AND
ENDS THE TRIBULATION.
Jesus and Paul give us an important time-line that disproves some popular, yet harmful teaching circulating around the church about end-time events and Bible prophecy.
"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: THEN WE WHICH ARE ALIVE AND REMAIN SHALL BE CAUGHT UP TOGETHER WITH THEM IN THE CLOUDS, TO MEET THE LORD IN THE AIR: AND SO SHALL WE EVER BE WITH THE LORD. Wherefore comfort one another with these words." (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 - Emphasis Added)
"Now this I say, brethren, THAT FLESH AND BLOOD CANNOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. BEHOLD, I TELL YOU A MYSTERY: We shall not all sleep, BUT 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. FOR THIS CORRUPTIBLE MUST PUT ON INCORRUPTION, AND THIS MORTAL MUST PUT ON IMMORTALITY. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: 'Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?'" (1 Corinthians 15:50-55 - Emphasis Added)
The Rapture and the Salvation of the Church
We just learned that Jesus referred to His Second Coming as “our redemption that draws near”, WHICH IS A SALVATION EVENT. In 1 Corinthians 15:50-55 (carefully read the entire account quoted above), Paul connects the rapture where “we are changed from mortal to immortal in the twinkling of an eye” as being “our victory over death and Hades (or hell)”. This victory is a vivid description of OUR SALVATION FROM HELL. In 1 Thessalonians 5:6-10, once again, Paul connects the Church’s earthly departure at the rapture (which is “the escape” from coming judgment that Jesus taught in Luke 21:25-36) as the event where God takes us out of the way or "removes us" from our future “appointment with wrath (or judgment)” had we remained on earth. We are "moved out of the way" (relocated to heaven) so that we can “obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ”.
“Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. FOR GOD DID NOT APPOINT US TO WRATH, BUT TO OBTAIN SALVATION THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.” (1 Thessalonians 5:6-10 NKJV -- Emphasis Mine)
We must remember an important fact: The context Paul is teaching from in his Thessalonian epistles "IS THE CHURCH'S GATHERING TOGETHER TO MEET JESUS IN THE AIR”.
"Now, brethren, CONCERNING THE COMING OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST AND OUR GATHERING TOGETHER TO HIM, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come." (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 - Emphasis Added - also read 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)
In these Scriptures, Paul associates the separate event of “our gathering together unto Jesus in the air”, with Christ’s Second Coming. Yet, he also tells us something else of great importance. This “gathering together” or rapture is where the Church (or Body of Christ) “obtains salvation”. In other words;
THE RAPTURE IS NOT SOME SPECIAL
REWARD GIVEN TO A SELECT FEW FOR
GOOD WORKS AND CHRISTIAN SERVICE.
IT’S A GRACE-BASED SALVATION
EVENT FOR THE WHOLE CHURCH.
It is where the salvation (or eternal life) of the entire believing Church is fulfilled and completed by Jesus Christ Himself. It concludes with our mortal bodies being changed to immortal and our final earthly departure to be with our Lord Jesus Christ forever from that moment on. It’s an event where the Church receives her complete salvation (eternal life), which Jesus Christ provides through His blood offered as the ransom price to secure God’s unmerited and undeserved gift for us.
(Carefully read Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 11:29, Romans 10:8-13, Romans 11:6, Romans 4:4-8, Romans 3:24-26, 1 John 1:7, Titus 3:5-7)
The “Different Gospel” Distorts End-Time
Recently, another popular “mega-church” pastor was teaching some misleading things about “the rapture”. We won’t give his name in this commentary. These things are important because they send both inexperienced and mature Christians dangerously astray in their faith. As we learned in this study, end-time events, such as the rapture, directly apply to our salvation in Christ. When a major Christian leader with tens of thousands of followers distorts the conditions for participating in the rapture, they are also unknowingly distorting the foundational principles of our blood-bought salvation. It's not just some nonessential and unimportant opinion about Bible eschatology. When those who preach the “different gospel” (the corrupted gospel that Saint Paul condemned in his epistles) attempts to interpret end-time events connected to Bible prophecy (such as the Second Coming of Christ), tragic unintended consequences involving our eternal salvation begin to surface.
Bible Prophecy and Christ’s Redemption
This particular pastor (actually he’s an evangelist) was warning his audience about the nearness of Christ's return at the rapture. From a natural standpoint, he’s an exceptional teacher, which makes his words even more problematic. In the middle of his sermon, he reminded the audience that THE RAPTURE WAS NOT CONNECTED TO SALVATION - BUT IS A REWARD GIVEN ONLY TO FAITHFUL CHRISTIANS. In other words, if you lack a certain undefined level of faithfulness, Jesus will leave you behind when He returns. In this situation, the only way to make such a statement was to deny (or redefine) that the rapture is "a salvation event" for the Church. Once you remove this blessing from its place in Christ's redemptive program, you can easily change the conditions that govern how the blessing is obtained. These kinds of theological tactics are commonly used throughout the institutional Christian Church TO MAKE IT APPEAR THAT GOD SAYS SOMETHING THAT HE DOES NOT SAY.
The evangelist's statement was deeply disappointing. Why? The Scriptures teach that the "catching away" or rapture represents the completed salvation of the entire believing church. Claiming that the "catching away" is only for “faithful Christians” redefines the Gospel of Christ (which has its final fulfillment at the rapture) - into a “works and performance-based conditional salvation”. This is a major "red flag warning" that “a different gospel” is operating in that ministry. Simply teaching that the rapture is not "a salvation event" (when Both Jesus and Paul says it is) does not make it true. It doesn't mean that God hears your words and says, "I'm sorry, you're right and I was wrong." Remember that according to Saint Paul, the “different gospel” redefines Christ’s unmerited and unconditional gift of eternal life into “a conditional and works-oriented type of eternal life” based on personal merit and religious performance. Faithfulness is a character attribute involving our devotion to God. It's a fact that some Christians are more faithful - and some are less faithful (Paul generally classified them as "carnal Christians" – but they were still redeemed Christians). According to this evangelist, something that a Christian believer must have to participate in the rapture is a "high level of faithfulness", which separates them from the other Christian believers who are left behind because they were "less faithful". As one shocked Bible teacher commented, "this disastrous belief effectively "dismembers the Body of Christ", separating it into a type of religious "caste system", which contradicts Scripture. Here's the problem. How can anyone measure faithfulness? How can they have any confidence or assurance that they've satisfied God's requirements when they can't identify the performance threshold that only God knows? The answer is obvious: THEY CAN’T HAVE CONFIDENCE OR ASSURANCE. Millions of Christians live in the fear and mental torment created by this popular theology ...
WHICH PAUL WARNED DOES NOT
COME FROM GOD.
Depending on the individual or church, the rapture teaching that comes from “the different gospel” (as Paul called it) carries other conditions such as:
The rapture isn't for all Christians;
- It’s only for those who obey God’s commandments
- It’s only for those who live in holiness
- It’s only for those who are overcomers
- It’s only for those who have repented of all sin
- It’s only for those who have removed all sin from their life
- It’s only for those with exceptional Christian service
- It’s only for the most devoted known as “the Bride of Christ”
- God won’t rapture a dirty, sin-soiled church or believer
These are some of the most popular conditions, cited by a majority of pastors, preachers and evangelists - who say are necessary to qualify for the rapture. Also notice that none of these conditions are measurable, meaning that you can't have any assurance that you've met God's conditions - AS THESE MINISTERS DEFINE THEM. These unknowable conditions and character attributes connected to obtaining and keeping salvation (and participating in the rapture) is always a major red-flag warning that a different gospel of Christ (a spiritual counterfeit gospel) is being preached.
Once again, we need to clarify the problem to minimize any misunderstanding about our position. Many of these character attributes are things that every believer should desire and incorporate into their life. Repenting from sin, desiring a sin-free life, seeking to excel in Christian service, living in holiness, obeying God and being faithful are all good character qualities every Christian believer should possess. The Bible tells us to direct our life toward obtaining these things. However, the New Testament also warns that these good character qualities must never be applied as requirements for obtaining GOD'S GIFT of eternal life (salvation) - and the rapture, which is its fulfillment. Making the Church’s “catching away” (God calls it “the believer’s blessed hope” - Titus 2:13-14) conditional on certain attributes and practices that can’t possibly be measured is one of the most toxic religious teachings found in the institutional Christian church. Why? We can never really know when we've met the conditions - and this kind of vexing doubt, fear and uncertainty puts us in what Paul calls, "religious bondage". The rapture, as taught according to the "different gospel of Christ" is anything but "a blessed hope". It's more like a terrifying nightmare that destroys our confidence and liberty in Christ. This is why Saint Paul condemned the teaching of "the different gospel" and warned that God puts a curse on the ministry of those who preach this kind of message, regardless of their title, popularity, educational credentials or good intentions.
Do You Pass God’s Confidence Test?
The "different gospel" always puts us in a place of doubt and uncertainty. However, the authentic New Covenant Gospel gives us "rock-solid confidence" that Jesus Christ paid the ransom price, in full, for the salvation of the human race. Contrary to some popular beliefs, He didn’t leave the work unfinished. He didn't say, "I did most of the hard work, but I left some things for you to do". Jesus cried out, "It is finished" just before He died on the cross. When He said these words it was an announcement to the devil and the whole world that His redemptive work for human salvation was complete. When something "is finished", you can't add anything to it later on.
The ransom price Jesus paid at the cross
gives us the confidence to....
- COME BOLDLY, WITHOUT FEAR OF REJECTION, TO GOD'S THRONE OF GRACE
- KNOW FOR CERTAIN THAT WE POSSESS ETERNAL LIFE AND ITS FUTURE FULFILLMENT
- DRAW NEAR TO GOD WITH A TRUE HEART IN FULL ASSURANCE OF FAITH
- BOLDLY ACCESS THE PRESENCE OF GOD THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD
"Let us therefore COME BOLDLY TO THE THRONE OF GRACE, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV -- Emphasis Mine)
"These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, THAT YOU MAY KNOW THAT YOU HAVE ETERNAL LIFE, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God." (1 John 5:13 - Emphasis Added)
"Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS (THE NEW COVENANT), BY A NEW AND LIVING WAY WHICH HE (JESUS) CONSECRATED FOR US, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, LET US DRAW NEAR WITH A TRUE HEART IN FULL ASSURANCE OF FAITH, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. LET US HOLD FAST THE CONFESSION OF OUR HOPE WITHOUT WAVERING, FOR HE WHO PROMISED IS FAITHFUL." (Hebrews 10:19-23 - Emphasis Added)
(Paul speaking) "....that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship OF THE MYSTERY, which from the beginning of the ages has been HIDDEN IN GOD who created all things through Jesus Christ; TO THE INTENT THAT NOW THE MANIFOLD WISDOM OF GOD MIGHT BE MADE KNOWN BY THE CHURCH to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, IN WHOM WE HAVE BOLDNESS AND ACCESS WITH CONFIDENCE THROUGH FAITH IN HIM (OR IN CHRIST). (Ephesians 3:8-12 - Emphasis Added)
- IF YOU DON’T KNOW that Christ's blood freely justifies you through the unmerited favor of God’s Grace that imputes (impute: To apply as a freely given personal benefit to your life) Christ’s sinless life to your life; (Romans 3:24-26, Romans 4:4-8)
- IF YOU DON’T KNOW that Christ's sacrifice allows God to impute (impute: To apply as a freely given personal benefit to your life) His very own perfect righteousness, making you “perfectly worthy” to receive all of God’s blessings, including “the escape” (the rapture or departure) that Jesus said was available for “the worthy ones”; (2 Corinthians 5:21, Luke 21:36)
- IF YOU DON’T KNOW that Christ's sacrifice as the "Lamb of God" TOOK AWAY ALL YOUR SINS (PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE) WITHOUT EXCEPTION -- NEVER TO APPEAR AGAINST YOU AGAIN; (John 1:29, Hebrews 1:1-4, Hebrews 9:12-15)
- IF YOU’VE BEEN TAUGHT BY YOUR CHURCH that you must strive to be faithful enough, sinless enough, holy enough, devoted enough and righteous enough to satisfy God's high standards to obtain salvation and its fulfillment; (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 4:4-8, Titus 3:5-7)
...THEN there’s no way you can have any assurance or confidence that God will allow you to obtain His salvation or participate in its fulfillment when Jesus Christ returns to remove His Church. Your only choice is to keep working and performing with the hope that God, somehow, will accept your sincere efforts. Here’s the problem: As it was with Cain (presented as a "type and shadow" of things to come) in the Old Testament, God will not accept your less-than-perfect sacrificial works. When it comes to obtaining salvation, He only accepts perfection - and none of us qualify. God only accepts the perfect life of His Son who voluntarily died in order to pay the “sin debt” that everyone owes and can’t pay. JESUS CHRIST DIED AS OUR SUBSTITUTE. Allowing Jesus to hold that absolute place in your life determines whether you possess the salvation of the authentic Gospel of Christ or the deceptive false (and conditional) salvation offered by “a different gospel”.
The following is a special insert included on certain commentaries
dealing with the often misunderstood New Testament principle of
"imputing". It will repeat some things already addressed in this
study, but may also provide answers to some questions not previously
The Divine Principle of “Imputing”:
A Characteristic Of the Authentic
Gospel of Christ
The following is a special insert included on certain commentaries
dealing with end-time events. It will repeat some things
already addressed in this study, but will also provide
answers to some questions not previously covered.
Important Information About
Who Goes at the Rapture
The salvation (eternal life) provided by
the authentic Gospel of Christ is not
established on religious conditions and
practices, which cannot be measured or
known. It will never demand that a
believer work and labor, out of fear, to
earn something that Jesus Christ has
already paid for.
The authentic New Covenant Gospel is built on truths that give the believer an unshakable confidence and assurance of salvation. If you’re someone who is struggling with doubts - you’ve probably placed your faith in “a different gospel” - and don’t know it. God wants his children “to know that they have eternal life” (1 John 5:13-15). He wants them to have the assurance that a place is reserved, not only in heaven, but also in the rapture, which is the fulfillment of their salvation and secured BY FAITH IN CHRIST AND HIS REDEEMING BLOOD - AND NOTHING ELSE. This is why it's often referred to as; "God's Amazing Grace".
Topical Index For This Series
You are currently viewing the study entitled:
The Frightening Consequences of Failing
To Rightly Divide God’s Word
Click on the links below to access or return
to other parts of this series.
Sin Consciousness and Self-Cleaning
Our Wedding Garments: Two Spiritually
Toxic Practices Of 'The Different Gospel'
Does God Ever Reject Our Obedience?
Here are some helpful additional commentaries found
on this website that shed more light
on this all-important subject.
The Spiritual Revolution of Christ
The Prime Directive of Christ’s
Justification By Faith: A Miracle
of the New Birth
How Some Christian Leaders Deceive
the Church About the Rapture
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