God's Mystery Revealed
In Jesus Christ
This is Part 2 of a three-part Bible study.
Click on the appropriate link to access
the other parts of this study.
Galatian Religion is a
In order to provide different viewpoints, we sometimes include a quotation from C.I. Scofield, who was the architect of the popular 'Scofield Reference Bible' - and speaks a sober warning to the church. We are not necessarily students of Scofield. Yet, we find that his writings reinforce the subject of this Bible study.
“Most of us have been reared and now live under the influence of Galatianism. 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. The law is no longer, as in the divine intent, a ministration of death (2 Cor. 3:7), of cursing (Gal. 3:10), or conviction (Rom. 3:19), because we are taught that we must try to keep it, and that by divine help we may. Nor does grace, on the other hand, bring us blessed deliverance from the dominion of sin, for we are kept under the law as a rule of life despite the plain declaration of Romans 6:14.”
“In contrast to Reformed theology is Dispensationalism. Dispensationalism says that to find the believer’s rule of life you must go not to Mount Sinai, but to Mount Calvary. Mount Sinai is powerless to justify a person and Mount Sinai is also powerless to sanctify a person. The law is not the believer’s rule of life. Something else is. The Scofield Bible states this position very clearly: "The test of the gospel is grace. 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.”
Taken From "Footnote #6" in the Scofield
Reference Bible under Galatians 1:6.
Important Note: Reformed theology, Holiness theology, Calvinism and various brands of fundamentalism are all different denominational variants of the Galatian error.
Scofield uses the modern theological term “dispensationalism” - which carries the same meaning and mindset as Paul's command to “rightly divide God's Word”. Both of these terms warn all students of the Bible that they must obey and respect the context of Scripture. Otherwise, an incorrect understanding of God's Word and Christ's salvation will be the result.
We should not make the mistake of thinking that Scofield is just offering us his own personal beliefs concerning this problem. He is citing the Apostle Paul, who uses the word "accursed" when describing the misleading Biblical message of these Galatianized preachers (Galatians 1:6-8). The word 'accursed' suggests a type of ‘Divine rejection’ that falls upon these unsuspecting ministers (and their followers who spread the same message). They are preaching what some passionately like to call “the uncompromised Word of God”. However, when the word 'uncompromised' is used to describe their brand of Bible teaching, it sounds good, but often means something totally different than what their listening audience thinks.
This is what they are not being told:
The preacher is refusing to “rightly divide” God’s Word (as Paul instructed in 2 Timothy 2:15) and is teaching it “undivided” - or “uncompromised” as some like to say.
When Scripture is interpreted and taught “undivided” - the difficult-to-satisfy (and in many cases 'impossible to satisfy') requirements of Old Testament Law are illegally mixed with the New Testament Grace of Christ. These additional 'difficult or impossible to satisfy' behavioral requirements, usually based on the Ten Commandments, are then applied to obtaining (and keeping) salvation. As a result, salvation (eternal life) - paid for by the blood of Christ at the cross - is changed from a gift that God gives freely according to Grace (unmerited favor) - into a benefit that must be earned (it’s conditional and therefore no longer a gift) through proper behavior, personal merit and good works. It is this counterfeit merit-based evangelistic message that supporters are proudly calling 'uncompromised' ... because they have convinced themselves that true salvation can only be received when righteous works and human effort are added. Yet, in our writings we use the word 'illegal' to describe this popular brand of evangelism ... because God warns against handling the Scriptures in such a dishonest and misleading way.
Those who reject Paul's command to "rightly divide the Word" often attack God’s Grace by calling it the sugar-coated gospel, easy believism and “greasy grace”. Red flags should go up when we hear these common phrases in a sermon. On his daily radio program, one angry fundamentalist preacher claimed that those who preach salvation as God's free gift (or available by grace as stated in Ephesians 2:4-9) - are members of "the Grace cult" and suggested they were "of the devil". It is for these reasons that our commentaries and studies attempt to expose this popular yet dangerous theology, which has dominated the Christian Church in various ways since its birth in the first century. It nearly destroyed the Galatian Church and motivated Saint Paul, who wrote nearly half of the New Testament canon, to both refute and publicly condemn this counterfeit Bible teaching for the remainder of his life.
By performing a close examination of Paul's writings, we discover that the Church at Galatia had embraced a 'different gospel of Christ' consisting of a mixture of Old Testament Law (also referred to as Judaism) and New Testament Grace. It is similar to the salvation doctrine taught in many churches today. This illegal and confusing mixture of 'works and Grace' is then applied to the way salvation is obtained (and kept) - and leads listeners astray in their faith without their knowledge.
Those who embrace this 'mixed gospel
message' ofen ignore Paul's warning;
that works and grace cancel each
"And if by Grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work." (Romans 11:6)
As both Paul and Scofield point out, the corrupt evangelistic message the Galatian Church had accepted was the result of failing to keep the Scriptures separated and 'rightly divided'. Various Bible scholars refer to this kind of theology as the Galatian error, the Galatian heresy, Galatian religion or simply 'Galatianism' - because Paul first warned about it in his New Testament Epistle to the Galatians. However, beginning in the first century (and continuing today), influential Bible teachers and ministers persuaded the Church to ignore Paul's warning - claiming instead that the only correct way to interpret the Bible is to treat it as 'one undivided program'. But, this overly simplified and widely-accepted way of interpreting the Bible perverts God's original intentions concerning how the salvation of His Son is obtained and kept. As a result, an alarming number of modern-day denominations and churches (but thankfully not all) are established on this 'different gospel' of Galatian religion ... which is a counterfeit gospel that God refuses to honor - and ultimately condemns. The problem exists on both the Roman Catholic and Protestant sides of the isle (and most everything in between). It is thought to affect, in varying degrees, more than 8 out of 10 churches worldwide.
The Grace of Christ vs.
the Anti-Grace Theology
of Galatian Religion
The Galatian error is ‘the master template’ for many brands of aberrant theology found within modern-day Christendom. As a result, God gives considerable attention in the Bible to this dangerous influence which started in the first century - and continues to corrupt His Son’s salvation today.
It’s important to understand that the primary error of Galatianism is the use of righteous works, godly behavior and various forms of religious service as requirements or preconditions to obtain what the Bible refer to as ‘God’s gift of eternal life’. When you hear a preacher make the statement that the rapture (the final stage of Christ’s salvation for the believer) is a reward for good works, godly behavior and Christian service – you are hearing Galatian religion (the counterfeit) and not true Christianity. This brand of theology is correctly called ‘an error or heresy’ because any requirement for good works or behavior to obtain eternal life destroys the idea of ‘God’s unmerited gift’ and undermines His original intentions. In Acts chapter 15 – and later in Paul’s ‘Epistle to the Galatians’ – we are told that mixing the behavioral and obedience requirements of Old Testament Judaism with New Testament Grace is how Galatianism originally operated. This is why some Bible scholars refer to those who teach this toxic message as ‘Judaizers’. Yet, any set of religious rules (certain dietary rules come to mind) can effectively be substituted for Judaism – in order to achieve the same objective of invalidating the Grace of Christ. This is why countless variants of Galatian religion, all identified by different names and labels, now exist within Christendom – and cause massive confusion.
In this study, we primarily focus on an especially virulent yet popular brand of Galatianism that takes the changes the Holy Spirit seeks to make in a believer’s conduct and behavior (the Bible calls it ‘sanctification’) ... and uses these attributes as requirements or pre-conditions that must be met to obtain and keep God’s free gift of eternal life. This popular theology is sometimes referred to as Legalism ... or by its more recent name; ‘Lordship salvation’. Yet, both are just different variants of Galatian religion that invalidates the Grace of Christ by mixing it with works of righteousness, or good works and human merit. Rather than using the term ‘Galatianism’ - the New Testament refers to this anti-Grace religious practice as; ‘walking according to the flesh’ (Romans 8:2-4).
Important Note: The terms Galatianism and Galatian religion are not found in the Bible. These are terms often used by various modern-day theologians to describe a deceptive brand of counterfeit Christianity that Saint Paul confronts and condemns in his 'Epistle to the Galatians'.
Separating Galatianism from
Authentic New Covenant
As we previously learned in this study, Galatianism (or Galatian religion) is a generic term used by various theologians. In the New Testament, Paul describes the doctrine behind this term as a dangerous false theology. Yet, despite his efforts to stop the error, it is now accepted as fundamental doctrine by many modern-day church groups and denominations within Christendom. It travels under different names and labels designed to hide its true nature and source ... and accomplish its purposes by redefining the rules that govern Christ’s salvation. According to Paul, this first century theology corrupts (perverts) our understanding of salvation and the faith connected to it. For this reason alone, it qualifies as one of the most dangerous heresies that exist within the professing Christian Church. Yet major denominations have been established on its historical tenants and principles. Scripture is lifted from its context - allowing the doctrine to be referred to as; ‘God’s original theology’. Others describe it using impressive terms such as ‘Historical or Biblical Christianity’. All of these labels sound good to those who are inexperienced in spiritual matters. But, on a closer examination, we discover its misleading characteristics.
In order to uncover the truth, we must first gain a general understanding of how the New Testament teaches salvation ... since this is where Galatian religion concentrates its efforts. Keep in mind that the following is a general synopsis of New Testament salvation and does not include every detail.
Christ’s salvation is divided into
three distinct parts or stages:
THE FIRST STAGE:
Receiving Eternal Life Through The New Birth
We receive eternal life as a free and unmerited gift by simply placing our faith in Christ. Jesus referred to it as being 'born again' - or the new birth. According to the New Testament and contrary to popular church teachings, no special works, behavior or obedience is required in the first stage. As outlined in the following Scriptures; it involves simply asking the Lord Jesus Christ, in faith, to save us by believing in His resurrection and “calling upon the name of the Lord”.
"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 whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:8-13)
"...not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life." (Titus 3:5-7)
At the exact same time salvation is received, God’s Holy Spirit takes up residence (indwells) our physical body and remains forever (See the words of Jesus in John 14:16-17, John 16:4-16, Matthew 28:20 and Hebrews 13:5-6). The New Testament refers to this indwelling of the Holy Spirit as ‘sealing’ - which is a onetime event. Contrary to popular Galatianized church teachings, a Christian is not ‘sealed’ when they are saved, then unsealed when they sin – then sealed again when they repent. The ‘sealing’ happens only once and remains in force until Jesus Christ returns at the end of the age.
The following Scriptures testify of this truth:
"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 to the praise of His glory." (Ephesians 1:13-14 - Also Read About “God’s Guarantee” In 2 Corinthians 1:22 and 2 Corinthians 5:5)
Notice that the sealing of the Holy Spirit is also called ‘God’s guarantee’, which ensures that our salvation (or ‘our inheritance’) will remain in force until Jesus returns to receive His purchased possession ... which is the Church consisting of all believers in Christ.
Important Note: The Bible teaches that the Baptism in the Holy Spirit is an empowerment (Jesus called it "an enduement of power from on high" in Luke 24:49), which is generally received only after an individual is saved. It is not to be confused with the 'sealing of the Holy Spirit' that occurs at our initial salvation when the Holy Spirit comes to indwell us ... and changes our physical bodies into 'the temple of the Holy Spirit' (Ephesians 1:13-14, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Both impartations (the sealing with the Holy Spirit and the Baptism in the Holy Spirit) can occur at the same time in unique situations. Yet, contrary to popular church teaching, the pattern in the New Testament indicates that they are two separate events.
Ministries, churches and movements that often carry the label; 'Full Gospel' correctly believe that all nine "gifts of the Holy Spirit" listed in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 continue to operate in the Church of Jesus Christ today. Unfortunately, a vast majority of churches and denominations reject this belief. These nine 'gift ministries', revealed by Saint Paul, are sprinkled throughout the Body of Christ and given to various members 'as the Holy Spirit wills'. They are then used by God to both govern and bestow spiritual benefits to the Church ... and they continue to operate until the Church Age ends at the rapture. Due to time and space constraints we will not discuss the Baptism in the Holy Spirit in this study.
THE SECOND STAGE:
God Begins His Work Of Sanctification
After we freely and securely possess eternal life, the Holy Spirit (who now indwells and seals us) begins an internal life-long work known as ‘sanctification’ where He teaches us to avoid sin and to be obedient to Christ’s authority as Lord. As a result – and contrary to many Galatianized church teachings, learning to turn away from sin and Christian obedience comes into play only after we possess eternal life – and must never be used as ‘pre-conditions’ to be saved. It means that God’s free gift of eternal life remains in our possession even if we suffer severe moral setbacks ... or even total failure during the sanctification process. We continue to possess eternal life because it is not dependent upon any of our righteous works or merit (Romans 4:4-8). Paul was speaking about this aspect of sanctification when he said;
"....being confident of this very thing, that He who begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." (Phillipians 1:6)
"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:12-13)
Unfortunately, those who live under popular Galatianized church doctrine have convinced themselves that feverishly ‘working out salvation in fear and trembling’ (doing good works and performing Christian service) is the way God’s gift of eternal life is obtained and kept. Yet, Saint Paul refers to this aberrant view of salvation as 'spiritual bondage' (Galatians 5:1).
THE THIRD AND FINAL STAGE:
Our Salvation is Fully Realized At
The Rapture And Resurrection
The same free gift of eternal life that believers initially receive - is fully realized (fulfilled) when Jesus Christ returns at a future event called the rapture - which includes a resurrection of believers who have died. At this event our physical bodies are changed from mortal to immortal and ‘caught up’ to meet the Lord Jesus in the air ... and then remain with Him forever. Contrary to popular Galatianized church teachings, the rapture is never to be understood as a reward for good behavior, righteous works or Christian service. It is a 'Grace-based salvation event' that brings the Church Age to a close. Participation in the rapture is a direct result of possessing God’s free gift of eternal life and being indwelled (sealed) by the Holy Spirit.
The rapture is one of the most hotly debated topics in the Church today. A growing number of ministers view it as something that causes division and threatens their congregation. For this reason, they are warning that debates about the rapture are unimportant and should therefore be avoided, since it has nothing to do with salvation. This statement is very misleading since Saint Paul taught that the rapture has everything to do with our salvation. Paul teaches extensively about the rapture in his Epistles to the Thessalonians. He describes it as the method God uses to remove the Church before His judgment is poured out. This 'removal' results in sending us to live with our Lord forever in heaven, which is the ultimate goal of salvation. Paul describes this event in the following way ...
"For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him." (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10)
Note: Judgment is often referred to in the Bible as 'the wrath of God'.
As we learned in the section entitled 'the first stage of salvation' - the Holy Spirit comes to indwell all true believers in Christ at their initial salvation (the Bible calls it 'sealing'). This is the defining characteristic of authentic Christian salvation. Contrary to popular opinion, if you aren't indwelled by God's Holy Spirit - you are not saved regardless of how holy, godly and righteous you try to live. Whoever has the Spirit of Christ living inside them - possesses eternal life. Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ living inside them - does not possess eternal life. In his Epistle to the Romans, Paul connects God's indwelling presence to something called 'the quickening of our mortal body'. This 'quickening' only happens at the rapture when our mortality is changed to immortality (Read 1 Corinthians 15:50-55). Paul comments on these issues in his Epistle to the Romans ...
"But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is non of His. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." (Romans 8:9-11)
Important Note: some believers will be alive on earth at the time of the rapture, while the bodies of those who have died remain in the grave. This is why the rapture (or translation of living believers) also includes a resurrection of those who are deceased (See 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-55). According to Paul, the resurrection happens first, then those who are alive are changed ... and both groups are 'caught up' to meet Jesus Christ - in the air. It is true that the word 'rapture' is not found in the Bible. Yet, the phrase 'caught up to meet Christ in the air' which communicates the same idea ... is in the Bible. We should understand that the rapture is not 'The Second Coming of Christ', which occurs 7 years later at the end of the Tribulation. At the Second Coming, Jesus Christ returns all the way to Jerusalem on earth to establish His Kingdom. But, at the rapture, Jesus only comes in the air above the earth long enough to remove (rapture) His Church, and then takes this entire group to heaven.
In Paul's epistles to the Thessalonian and the Corinthian churches, detailed information is provided about the rapture, which includes a reference to 'sudden destruction' that occurs shortly thereafter. Yet, it was Jesus who provides the first glimpse into this intense period of tribulation that will suddenly and unexpectedly fall upon everyone living on earth. Since Jesus and Paul are speaking about the same end-time event, we must read what both men have to say to get a more complete picture. In this situation, what is referred to as 'tribulation' is actually a 7 year period of Divine judgment (also known as God's wrath) sent upon 'the whole earth' because of their rejection of God's Son and His freely offered Grace-based salvation. If you live anywhere on earth during this time there will be no place to hide. According to Christ, everyone living on earth will suffer (and many will die) under this judgment. Jesus describes it in the following way;
"For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be." (Mark 13:19)
"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)
Speaking about the same event,
Jesus provides even more
details concerning the day
judgement initially falls
... and what follows.
"Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all.” (Luke 17:26-29)
And great earthquakes shall be in diverse places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven (Luke 21:11)
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; mens hearts failing them for fear; and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh (Luke 21:25-28)
(Notice that Jesus specifically mentioned Noah and Lot as examples.)
Obviously, the following question
must now be answered:
What about those who received God's Son
and accepted His salvation? Isn't God
being unjust by forcing them to be judged
with everyone else--for a sin they did
We find that Abraham confronted God with this same question shortly before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. As a result of His 'Just' nature (and Abraham's persistent intercession), God spared righteous Lot and his family by sending angels to remove them to a place of safety 'outside the city'. By reading the entire account in the book of Genesis, we discover that the angels told Lot that they couldn't destroy (send judgment upon) the city until after he was gone. This is an important truth that exposes much of the false teaching that currently exists in the church about the rapture. Pertaining to the 'last days' (or what many call 'the end-times') Jesus said that the whole earth would enter a period of intense judgment. This also leads us to the conclusion that the only way to avoid the judgment (as in the Old Testament example of Lot's escape from Sodom) is to somehow be taken to a place of safety 'away from the earth'. Regardless of how incredible this sounds, God actually has no other choice if He is to preserve His reputation as 'a Just Judge' ... since an unjust judge would place both the righteous and the unrighteous under the same judgment.
GOD'S ESCAPE PLAN
This is why Paul said that a 'catching
away of the Church' (or rapture) would
occur first - and Jesus said that God
would make a way of escape for those who
are worthy (or righteous). The rapture
is God's escape plan for the righteous
which takes place before judgment falls.
Lot's escape from Sodom - with angelic
help - is an Old Testament 'type and
shadow' of God's future escape plan for
all those living after the cross who
are saved by the unmerited Grace of
"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)
"But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, "peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant worman. And they shall not escape. But you brethren, are not in darkness, so that this day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 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 5:1-10)
"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. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that day will not come unless the falling away (the departure of the Church) comes first, and the man of sin (the anti-christ) is revealed, the son of perdition ..." (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 - Comments 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 all 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)
Due to the unbiblical practice of intermingling (and not 'rightly dividing') the tenants of both the Old and New Testament programs, Galatian religion teaches a corrupt and perverted version of the rapture. Amazingly, this is why some Galatianized Bible teachers insist that a 'pre-tribulation or before judgment' rapture - as taught by both Jesus Christ and Paul - is a heresy. Think about that. There are many different and confusing variations of this corrupt rapture doctrine' that won't be discussed here. The most popular is what some theologians call 'Post-tribulationalism' ... where God's escape plan for the righteous doesn't take place until after the 7 year world-wide judgment has ended. However, if this is true ... then this same 'Divine escape plan' previously taught by Christ becomes nonsensical ... since there is no need for an escape, after the destruction it is designed to avoid is over.
The following comment is an example of
the kind of Galatianized rapture
teaching circulating through the church.
One popular evangelical preacher
recently told his audience ...
"We commit a serious error by thinking
that God will remove Christians at an
event called the rapture. This is simply
not true because God isn't in the
business of escapism. It's His will to
take His people through this future
period of judgment we sometimes call
Yet, both Jesus and Paul disagree and
warn that this preacher's audience is
being misled. Contrary to these
comments, the following Scriptures
provide additional revelation concerning
the nature of the escape that Jesus
previously spoke about...
"For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers (or rescues) us from the wrath to come." (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10)
Jesus referred to the same event
when He said:
"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." (John 14:1-3)
Reading these Scriptures in parallel with 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 and 1 Corinthians 15:50-55 provides us with a more complete picture concerning this 'Divine escape plan' for the Church. Contrary to the widely accepted teachings of Galatian religion - God is certainly into 'escapism' when it comes to protecting (and exempting) the righteous from judgment. He did it in the Old Testament with righteous Noah (at the flood) and with Lot (at Sodom) ... and the Bible says that He will do it again in the last days with His believing Church who possesses the imputed free gift of the righteousness of Christ. (Romans 5:15-21, Romans 4:4-8 and 2 Corinthians 5:21)
Throughout the Christian church many are now saying that arguments about whether the rapture occurs before, in the middle or after the Tribulation should be avoided because the subject is not important ... and needlessly hurts church by causing division.
Nothing could be further from
the truth for the following
If the Church must endure the Tribulation along with the wicked, it will be the first time in recorded Biblical history that God unjustly poured out His judgment on righteous people ... which changes our Heavenly Father from a 'just judge' into an unjust judge. Equally important ... if the Church of Jesus Christ must endure Tribulation judgment, either in-full or in-part ... it means that The Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, did not take away all their sin; as stated by John the Baptist (John 1:29). When sin is taken away at the cross in such a manner, those who were previously sinners now become perfectly righteous apart from their merit and works; as taught in Romans 5:15-21 and Romans 4:4-8. As far as God is concerned, when all sin is removed, eternal righteousness is the result (2 Corinthians 5:21). The Bible also calls this spiritual change - 'justified freely by His Grace' in Romans 3:24-26, which is a spiritual benefit that God considers to be permanent once received. The imputed righteousness of Christ, assigned by faith apart from works and merit, exempts all believers from any future condemnation and judgment. For these reasons, those who teach that the Church must go through the judgments of the Tribulation, especially for the stated purpose of 'obtaining additional purification for sin' - are denying the provisions of Christ's redemption.
We understand that a lack of knowledge about eschatology (Bible prophecy and end-time events) exists among many members of the clergy. Due to the complexity of the subject, it's entirely possible to be a faithful minister of the gospel yet have imperfect knowledge about topics such as the rapture and the Second Coming of Christ. For this reason, it would be wrong to demand perfection from any minister - because it just isn't possible. However, the Bible draws a clear 'line in the sand' that must never be crossed concerning the finished work of Christ. Clergy and various ministers who operate under Galatian religion are notorious for using the subject of the rapture as a forum to propagate their anti-grace doctrine of a conditional works-based salvation (often referred to as 'partial rapture doctrine'). As a result, when teaching about the qualifications needed to participate in the rapture (an event directly connected to our grace-based salvation), these ministers use out-of-context Scripture to promote the idea that Jesus didn't really take away all of the believer's sin. Obviously, this kind of teaching invalidates righteousness, which also demands additional purification during the Tribulation. This popular teaching is not just a difference of opinion or some innocent result of imperfect knowledge. According to the Apostle Paul, it comes from the perverted gospel of Galatian religion and disqualifies that individual from being an authentic minister of God regardless of their seminary credentials.
Both Jesus and Paul had to deal with
these 'disqualified ministers' in
their day and gave these warnings;
"Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple (or the spiritually inexperienced)." (Romans 16:18)
To the church of Ephesus, Jesus said, “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and found them to be liars ..." (Revelation 2:2)
The popular ministry practice of denying (or casting doubt upon) Christ's redemption happens far more than we think. It is embedded in skillfully designed sermons and Bible teachings and found everywhere Galatian religion is taught.
In closing it's important to remember the example set forth in the Bible for our benefit. At Sodom, the angels told righteous Lot that they could not destroy (or send judgment upon) the city until after he was gone. In like manner God cannot send Tribulation judgment on the earth until after His righteous Church is removed (or caught up). This should give abundant hope to all those who have placed their faith in Christ.
Every authentic Christian will
experience these three stages
of Christ's Salvation obtained
only by Grace through Faith.
We Now Have a Foundation for
Understanding How Galatian
Religion Deceives the
Professing Christian Church
The Bible describes the unconditional, unmerited and undeserved nature of eternal life - as ‘Grace’. The New Testament refers to eternal life as ‘God’s free gift’ (Romans 6:23 and Ephesians 2:8-9). For this reason it must be isolated (or separated) from anything that compromises this ‘freely given’ characteristic ... as stated by the following Scripture:
"...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)
This is why eternal life can never be dependent upon our religious performance connected to the life-long process of sanctification or the behavioral requirements of Old Testament Law. But Galatianism, under its countless denominational names and labels, removes this separation by insisting that all the effort and work connected with sanctification (Paul calls it ‘working out our salvation’ in Philippians 2:12-13) – is also a requirement or pre-condition to obtain and keep eternal life. In other words, it illegally ‘mixes together’ the receiving of God’s gift of eternal life - with the work and effort connected with sanctification. As a result, Grace becomes invalid ... and the free gift is changed into something that’s not free - and no longer a gift because it must now be earned through godly behavior and meritorious living. Yet, this Galatianized doctrine continues to look and sound as if it comes from the pages of the Bible, which is why some defend its teachings by referring to it as ‘Biblical Christianity’. But, Saint Paul describes it as ‘a perversion of the gospel’ – and warns that those who preach this kind of message, regardless of their seminary credentials, are under a curse ... which suggests some form of divine rejection (See Galatians 1:6-8). Unfortunately, many professing Christians living today (but thankfully not all) are taught by their church that this kind of gospel represents how salvation is designed to operate. As a result, they are fooled into embracing ... not authentic Christianity – but the counterfeit of Galatian religion.
Grace Does Not Release
Us From Holy Living
Obtaining salvation through the unmerited and undeserved favor of God (also known as “Grace”) does not release us from the task of avoiding sin, doing good works, adopting Christ-Like behavior and holy living. God instructs all Christians to seek after these things - but for reasons other than obtaining His gift of eternal life. Scripture instructs us to avoid sin because it is inconsistent with our new life in Christ (Romans 6:1-4). Our Heavenly Father also tells His children that seeking these character attributes is the right thing to do - since they represent Christ on earth (the New Testament calls them “the body of Christ” - Ephesians 1:15-23). Most people develop their beliefs and opinions about God by observing the conduct and behavior of His representatives. If the believer’s conduct involves a sinful lifestyle, it often causes those around them to have an improper or false perception of God – possibly to the point of speaking evil of Him. Yet despite these reasons, our Heavenly Father sternly warns that our attempt to achieve these character attributes (which involves work and effort) is never to be used as requirements or pre-conditions to obtain and keep what Scripture calls, God’s unmerited and undeserved gift of eternal life. (Ephesians 2:8-9, Galatians 2:19-21, Galatians 3:10-12 and Galatians 5:4, Romans 4:4-8, Titus 3:5-7)
Both Paul and Jesus Speaks
About the Two Covenant
Programs of the Bible
“Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic.
FOR THESE ARE THE TWO COVENANTS:
The one from mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar - for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children (speaking of the first covenant of the Law) – but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all.” (verses 21-25)
(Paul continues in verses 28 through 31) Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? "Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman."
“SO THEN, BRETHREN, WE
ARE NOT CHILDREN OF THE
BONDWOMAN (SPEAKING OF
THE FIRST COVENANT OF
THE LAW) - BUT OF THE FREE
(SPEAKING OF THE SECOND
OR NEW COVENANT OF
At the Last Supper, Jesus introduces
this 'Second ... or New Covenant'
established on His blood.
"Likewise He also took the cup
after supper, saying, 'This cup
is the new covenant in My blood,
which is shed for you.'"
(Luke 22:20 and 1 Cor. 11:25)
In his Epistle to the Hebrews Paul
continues to teach about these
‘two covenants’ by saying;
"But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He (Jesus Christ) is also mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second." (Hebrews 8:6-7)
"In that He (Jesus Christ) says, “a new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away." (Hebrews 8:13)
Important Note: The second (or new) covenant is not described as an extension or continuation of the first covenant, as many wrongly teach. The first covenant is now declared to be 'obsolete' and is therefore replaced (not continued or extended) by the radically different ... and better; New Covenant of Christ.
In order to gain a proper understanding of God's mystery we must learn the difference between Galatian religion that mixes these two covenant programs together (in countless different ways) ... and authentic New Covenant-based Christianity that keeps them 'rightly divided'. This is often a difficult task because both of these theological positions are taken from the pages of the Bible - but God honors only one. The Bible refers to the defense of the New Covenant as; 'contending earnestly for the faith' (Jude 1:3-4). This contention causes a unique type of division which is divinely approved, simply because the truth always separates those who want it - from those who don't. It causes strong emotional disagreements because it exposes the error that exists in other cherished brands of theology found within Christendom. Without faithful ministers who ‘contended earnestly for the faith’ Christianity would have disappeared shortly after it started. If you are someone frustrated by the many denominations that teach conflicting things about God from the same Bible – the likely cause is that many have decided to embrace Galatian religion, rather than authentic New Covenant Christianity. It also explains why a majority of church leaders (but thankfully not all) tend to omit or redefine Paul's warning about this spiritual counterfeit - because his warning also threatens to expose the doctrine taught by their own ministry.
According to the Bible, Galatian
religion is a dangerous lie that
disguises itself as authentic
Christianity. Yet, few warnings
about the eternal consequences
connected to this counterfeit are
heard from the pulpit on Sunday
This is Part 2 of a three-part Bible study.
Click on the appropriate link to access
the other parts of this study.