Faith, In Christ, salvation, The Good News

Are You Saved and Assured of Your Salvation?

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one (John 10:28-30 NIV).

Picture by dotlizard (Karen Kelly) @ Rgbstock

Revelation That Leads to Salvation

All people, everywhere, experience revelation from God about Himself. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20). Some receive clearer revelation than others. Jesus said, “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin” (John 15:22). Sadly, because people are sinful, they tend to marginalize God or completely negate Him, suppressing what He reveals (Rom. 1:18-20).

Some people experience a dramatic encounter with God on their life’s journey that brings them to salvation. Consequently, it is easy for them to know the moment that they have become a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). For many others, salvation is not a clearly identifiable point in time. However, even though they cannot pinpoint when it happened (and may even misidentify the timing), the miracle of their behavioural change makes them know that at some point they must have been “born again” (John 3:16). They might not even know these terms, but, if explained to them, they will identify with them.

Salvation Examination

Many other people who have believed in God and His Son, have ended up falling away. This is because they never fully understood. Instead, they believed in their own notion about God and His salvation. Consequently, they had never come to be justified by God and born again.

Paul told the members of the Corinthian church, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5). From his words, we can deduce that merely thinking that you’re in the faith is no real evidence of actually being in it. However, being spiritually joined to Christ, so that He lives within you, is Paul’s definition of whether or not someone is truly in the faith.

Evidence of Salvation

God’s word has a range of evidence that can help a person identify whether or not they been saved from spiritual death to eternal life. Here are just three of them:

  • An inner witness. One evidence that you’re actually in the faith, with Christ dwelling within you, is an inner knowing. Paul writes, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Rom. 8:16).
  • A supernaturally changed life. Another witness to true salvation is a supernaturally changed life. This is because Love Himself has joined Himself to that person. Jesus said, “…whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a fount of water springing up to eternal life” (John 4:14).
  • A witnessing life. There’s an overflow about God and His goodness that comes from the mouths of those who are saved. This is because God, and what He has done to save us, really is good news. After all, Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them” (John 7:38).

Caveats Concerning Salvation

Not all Christians excel in all of the above evidence. That said, to live their new life to the full, they ought to grow in each of them. Also, although the fruit of a person’s life is usually the clearest evidence of salvation (or the lack thereof), many loving, generous, and pleasant people are unsaved. Conversely, there are many saved folk who are caught up in selfishness, worldliness, and sin. Consequently, we don’t always know who has been saved, therefore, we must not simply assume that someone is or isn’t.

On another note, not everyone who has been saved has understood that biblical faith gives assurance of salvation. Consequently, despite being justified by God, these folk may, at times, because of sin and feelings of unworthiness, feel unsaved.

Assurance of Salvation

God has gone to great lengths to lead people to a faith that saves and to assure them of their salvation. For example, the apostle John says in his gospel, “…these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31). Then, in a letter to believers, John says, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). God clearly wanted people to believe and, having believed, be assured of their salvation.

Assurance of one’s salvation is often found on the journey of discipleship. For, even after someone is saved, they will continue to receive revelation about their salvation. Consider what Paul had prayed for the Christians in Ephesus: “[I always pray] that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may grant you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation [that gives you a deep and personal and intimate insight] into the true knowledge of Him [for we know the Father through the Son]. And [I pray] that the eyes of your heart [the very center and core of your being] may be enlightened [flooded with light by the Holy Spirit], so that you will know and cherish the hope [the divine guarantee, the confident expectation] to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints (God’s people), and [so that you will begin to know] what the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His [active, spiritual] power is in us who believe” (Eph. 1:17-19a, Amplified Bible).

Are You Saved?

All people have sinned against God, nevertheless, because of His great love for the world, He offers salvation as a free gift to everyone who repents and receives Jesus as Lord of their life. For He sent His Son, Jesus, to live a perfect life and take our sins upon Himself so that we could be acquitted. Having risen from the dead and ascended into heaven, Jesus offers mercy and new life to all who humble themselves and come to Him.

Rob Morley

Eschatology, Judgment, Prophecy, The Antichrist, The Millennium

Blinded by Dispensationalism

Dispensationalism has made many Americans clueless to the fact that they have been living with the beast, the false prophet and a biblical plague, and that God’s comfort for them is found in a proper understanding of the book of Revelation.

I believe my posts, Dismantling Dispensationalism, and my book, Dismantling Dispensationalism, will help with a better understanding of the times that we’re living in so that we can receive the comfort that God has for His Church in the book of Revelation.

Rob Morley

 

Eschatology, Faith, Judgment, Leadership, Prophecy

President Donald J. Trump and the COVID-19 American Tragedy

American grave
Photo by babykrul

Storyline:

A false prophet flirts with a beast who is in love with a prostitute and the result is that 100,000 die in a plague in just 3 months. And, that’s just the beginning!

The Characters in America’s Version of Revelation:

  • President Trump plays ‘the beast,’ an evil and power hungry leader.
  • The evangelical church plays ‘the false prophet,’ a spiritual leader that endorses the beast.
  • The “almighty dollar” plays ‘the great prostitute,’ an economic system based on greed that uses governmental power to that end, even at the expense of human dignity and life.
  • Vice President Pence plays a ‘witness’ that has lost his witness because he has become ‘lukewarm.’
  • COVID-19, a ‘plague’ sent by Jesus Christ, exposes each of the characters for what they are.

The Play:

A proper interpretation of the book of Revelation makes it abundantly clear that President Donald J. Trump is America’s very own manifestation of ‘the beast’ of Revelation 13. Furthermore, the current economic spirit behind the “almighty dollar” is ‘the great whore’ of Revelation. And, sadly, America’s evangelicals have been the ‘false prophet’ in this tragedy. A plague, which, according to Revelation 6:8, is one of many forms of judgement that are sent by Jesus (see Rev. 6:1).

Here is a brief breakdown:

  • Just as the beast of Revelation is ridden by the prostitute, President Trump is driven by the need to have a successful economy in order to stay in power, even at the expense of people. Rather than being submitted to Almighty God or even the rationality of science in the face of a pandemic, President Trump is driven by the “almighty dollar.” Nothing can curb him to care for people ahead of power.
  • Just as the beast is endorsed by the false prophet, President Trump is endorsed by many evangelicals who love him more than truth, justice and morality. He has been so enthusiastically embraced by so many in the Church that he essentially sits in the Temple speaking as though he is God. Rather than addressing his waywardness, as any true prophet would, these religious leaders and their flock defend him and prophesy sweet lies about him and the future of America.
  • Just as the beast is empowered by Satan, the father of lies, President Trump is notorious for his constant and flagrant lying.
  • Just as the beast has a lust for power that knows no bounds, Trump has lied and cheated to hold onto power, even to the point of being impeached.
  • Just as the beast is full of pride, President Trump never admits to his errors. All is “perfect.”
  • Just as the beast blasphemes God, President Trump does so by claiming allegiance to God and His people, yet living contrary to God and refusing to repent.
  • Vice President Pence has been the “picture perfect example” of the good American evangelical as he reinforces their God-sent leader’s views. He is the evangelical’s ideal political Ken-doll who supports and excuses the beast despite his immoral, in-humane and illogical political stances. Like the false prophet that he also represents, Pence looks ‘like a lamb,’ but speaks ‘like a dragon.’ Actions speak louder than words and not wearing a mask shows his allegiance.
  • COVID-19 enters America and sets up the true makers of Fake News to be exposed for downplaying the virus.
  • COVID-19 sets up the President to make a choice, which he says at one point is “the biggest decision I’ve ever had to make.’ And, over the course of time, he has chosen to dismiss science and instead risks people’s lives, promoting his sentiment on issues because he doesn’t like the cost to the economy.
  • COVID-19 sets up lukewarm and deceived Christians, who are supposed to be “the light of the world,” to look foolish because they continue to blindly back Trump.

Blind Evangelical Church

If you are an American evangelical, then it is very unlikely that you will recognize the correlation that I have made between the book of Revelation and your current experience. This is, in part, because of the false teaching of dispensationalism that has dominated evangelical thinking over the years. It is so removed in its misinterpretation of Revelation that it has made the prophecy completely useless to Christians who are adherents of this false doctrine. While the Bible explains men like President Trump as being ‘the beast,’ most Christians in America have been robbed of the understanding and comfort that Revelation has for them in the face of such a person. This lack is a judgment on their churches for not testing this doctrine that has been so forcefully espoused by so many over the years.

100 000 Die Under the Beast

As beasts go, President Trump may appear tame. However, 100,000 Americans have died in three months and most of the deaths are due to his bungling of the Coronavirus pandemic. This is directly attributable to his pride and lust for economic success and power instead of having a heart for the American people. What’s more, in the face of these numbers, he continues with his childish pride by not wearing a mask, when wearing a mask protects others from what we might unknowingly have and inadvertently spread. It is an example for others to follow as a way of caring for one another.

Judgement

Clearly, God has been busy using this beast, who is full of pride, as a means of judgement on a nation full of pride. Yet, still, many remain persistent and even belligerent in their unmasked pride (pun intended). In the process, He is also judging His own people for the choice that they made in Trump, and, having made him their choice, for their reluctance to hold him accountable. Instead, they have excused him at every turn and, as a result, he has become the nation’s nightmare. He might have been less brazen had he not had the kind of undivided loyalty that he has received from the evangelicals from the get go.

How Should Christians Respond?

Toward the Beast:

Repent! Jesus must be your first love, not a politician. Also, repent on behalf of your brothers and sisters in Christ and those of your nation that have unswervingly embraced him. And, pray for all your leaders, especially President Trump, for God’s mercy is able to reach him, even as it reached Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. Then, when elections come, don’t disregard the character of the candidates, for, in so doing, you have already been bitten once.

Toward the Prostitute:

Americans love the “almighty dollar” and many American Christians love it too. Revelation has this to say to them, ‘I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of [the great prostitute], my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues”’ (Rev. 18:4 ESV). You need to repent of the love of money, for the word says, ‘Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”’ (Heb. 13:5). Also, ‘For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs’ (1 Tim. 6:10).

Toward the False Prophet:

Like the Bereans in Acts, test all ministers of the Word of God by the Word of God. For, it is as a result of a lack of this that many false teachers and false teachings have crept in. And, having become established, they have led this generation to embrace a beast who has led them into a full-blown plague.

Learn from these words of Jesus in Revelation to the church in Pergamum: ‘But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality. So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth’ (Rev. 2:14‑16).

What have your spiritual leaders taught you to think and practice that is contrary to God? Do you constantly excuse President Trump? Do you love money at the expense of people’s lives? Do you wear a mask out of reverence to God, who has given sanctity to life and who commands us to love our neighbour? Whether you follow the beast or the Lord Jesus Christ will be seen by how you think and what you do. You might need to repent of allowing yourself to be marked with ‘the name of the beast,’ which, in Revelation, symbolically indicates who your allegiance is with in both thought and action.

Toward the Plague:

Do not be presumptuous like good King Josiah was by getting in the way of God’s judgement. Wear a mask, wash your hands and social distance until the plague is over. If you contract the virus, realise that you are not necessarily being judged. As a Christian, this is a test of your faith. If you are lacking faith then ask God and He will give you the faith and grace needed for the experience. He will carry you through it to the other side, whether to be with Him, which is far better, or with your family, which, God willing, He may consider to be better for now.

Toward the Lukewarm Witness:

Let’s begin by looking to see to what extent we are lukewarm witnesses. Let’s also realise that we don’t all have the same pressures. Then, let’s pray for our own needs and for grace for our brother. That said, my word for Vice President Pence is, ‘Do not be deceived, “Bad company corrupts good character”‘ (1 Cor. 15:33 NIV). Love your neighbour and wear a mask! If you are a witness for Jesus Christ, ‘Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould’ (Rom. 12:2 PHILLIPS). And, that can often include the Christian world. Be a Daniel or a Shadrach and put your neck on the line for your faith.

May we all soberly look at what God is doing in our own nations and all around the world at this time. And, let’s keep praying for grace for one another so that we can represent Him well as His ambassadors on earth.

Rob Morley

Eschatology, Health, Judgment, Leadership, Prophecy

Judgment Calls For Repentance!

Image from Biblical Counseling Insights

A Cast For Revelation

Many in the evangelical church have backed Trump, the most powerful man alive, who is easily driven by US companies that care less for people’s lives than their own prosperity.
They all make a great cast for Revelation, where the ‘false prophet’ backs ‘the beast,’ who is ridden by ‘Babylon, the Great Whore,’ who cares nothing for ‘the people of the earth.’

Turn To God, He Loves You

Repent Church and be devoted to Jesus first and not someone who promises ‘America first’ at the expense of kingdom values. Repent President Trump and follow the doctors and not the dollar! And, especially, wholeheartedly follow Jesus, who loves you dearly. He is the perfect deal. Repent businesses, for God is your provider. And, people of the earth, repent and follow Jesus. And, church, as for the Great Prostitute, ‘Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues’ (Rev. 18:4).

Rob Morley

Eschatology, Israel, Jews, Prophecy, The Antichrist, The Millennium

Dismantling Dispensationalism

Responses to ‘The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy’

Herewith are my responses to a series of debates put forward by Dispensationalist Ron Rhodes in his book, ‘The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy.’ I trust that my posts will help toward establishing God’s truth and dismantling the wayward doctrine of Dispensationalism.


Dominoes Falling (1)

Debate 1

Should Prophecy Be Interpreted Literally or Allegorically?

Bible Prophecy: Literal or Allegorical

Toppling Dispensationalism


Dominoes Falling (2)

Debate 2

Are Israel and the Church Distinct in Bible Prophecy?

Israel is Saved or Judged, not Replaced or Distinct


Dominoes Falling (3)

Debate 3

What Can We Know About the Signs of the Times?

Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment?

Israel

Middle East, European Union, Globalism?

Is America in Bible Prophecy?

Israel regathered from Many Nations

Russians and Muslims to Invade Israel on Horseback?


Dominoes Falling (4)

Debate 4

Which View of the Rapture Is Correct?

When Will The Rapture Occur?


Dominoes Falling (5)

Debate 5

How Are We to Understand the Book of Revelation?

Taking Issue with Futurism

Daniel’s Seventieth Week and the Book of Revelation

Babylon, the 144000 and The Two Witnesses


Dominoes Falling (6)

Debate 6

How Are We to Understand the Antichrist?

The Antichrist – Conundrum and Distraction

Who is the Antichrist?

Who Restrains Him? What Nation is He from? What is the Mark of the Beast?

Timing of the Antichrist


Dominoes Falling (7)

Debate 7

Which View of the Millennium Is Correct?

The Millennium


Dominoes Falling (8)

Debate 8

Is It Okay to Set Dates on Prophetic Events?

Prophetic Events and Their Timing


Other posts referenced:

Numerology in Revelation

Jewish Salvation

Restoring the Kingdom to Israel – The Christian Researcher

Rob Morley

Eschatology, Prophecy, The Millennium

The Millennium

Robbed of 1000 Years!

Dominoes Falling (7)
Debate 7

Responding to Ron Rhodes’ The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy

Debate 7: Ron Rhodes asks, ‘Which View of the Millennium Is Correct?’ and looks at Amillennialism, Postmillennialism and Premillennialism.

The Millennial Views

The term millennium means 1000 years and, concerning the Bible, relates to Revelation 20 that says ‘they will reign with him for a thousand years.’ Interpretations of this chapter have brought about three very different millennial views.

Postmillennialism is the belief that Christ will return after a literal 1000 year period at the end of this Church age in which Christian ethics are practiced in a so-called ‘golden age’.

Premillennialism is the belief that Christ will return before a literal 1000 year period to reign on earth in a ‘golden age’ of peace.

Amillennialism is the belief that the 1000 years in Revelation 20 is to be understood figuratively rather than literally. In other words, no literal 1000 years was intended by the author.

My aim here is to show that the Amillennial view is the natural outcome when interpreting Revelation in its genre. At the same time, it will become clear that the Amillennial view is perfectly congruent with the rest of the New Testament.

Sadly, what will become clear is that many have been robbed of the blessing of understanding the meaning of the 1000 years that was given to the Church for her encouragement as she engages with this world.

They Will Reign With Him for a Thousand Years

‘Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years’ (Revelation 20:6).

Interpretation:

‘the first resurrection – Consider ‘God…made us alive in Christ, even when we were dead in our sins’. Also, Jesus said “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies. And everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”

‘Over such the second death has no power’ – Having been ‘dead in our sins’, a spiritual death that came upon all humanity as a result of Adam’s transgression, we were raised to life to ‘never die’ again.

‘they will be priests of God and of Christ’ – Consider that Revelation began with the statement, ‘To Him who loves us and has released us from our sins by His blood, who has made us to be a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever!’ This clearly speaks of the role of all who are in Christ’s Church. After all, concerning our priestly work, Scripture speaks of ‘God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.’

‘and they will reign with him’This speaks of the Church age where its members reign with Christ by way of their priestly role. Remember, Jesus was given all authority in heaven and on earth and we are ‘seated with Him in heavenly places.’ Furthermore, concerning the reality of Christ’s priestly kingdom in this world, Revelation begins with ‘I, John, your brother and partner in the … kingdom …’

‘for a thousand years – This, therefore, is the period that the Church reigns with Christ.

The Case for Amillennialism

Amillennialism means there is no literal 1000 years. This interpretation is derived from recognizing the use figurative language throughout Revelation, which includes the numbers that are used. In my post, Numerology in The Revelation, I argue that numbers should be considered figurative if –

  • the literature is apocalyptic (a genre that uses symbolic and allegorical language)
  • there is clear use of numerology
  • numerology is used at the outset
  • numbers associated with Biblical numerology are used
  • numbers associated with Biblical numerology are used throughout
  • only numbers associated with Biblical numerology are used throughout
  • credible Biblical meaning is consistently the outcome of interpretation
  • multiple cases in the text make putting it to chance an impossible explanation

Revelation ticks all of the above, therefore, it is imperative that we interpret the figurative meaning of the numbers in Revelation rather than their literal meaning.

Previously, I showed how the number 144000 in Revelation is a numerological construct of the numbers 12, 2, 10 and 3 and explained that these numbers held symbolic meaning in Judaism and in the early Church. Therefore, by interpreting them together, they could understand what was being communicated by the number 144000.

Similarly, the number 1000 would have been recognized as a numerological construct of the numbers 10 and 3, where their meaning was jointly the key to understanding the number 1000.

1000 Years:

10 x 10 x 10 = 1000

103 = 1000

Meaning:

10 = quantitative fullness

3 = God (Trinity)

1000 years is to be interpreted therefore as the full quantity of time (10) that is given by God (3) for the church to reign with Christ in a priestly kingdom, doing the work of reconciliation. During this time, Satan is ‘bound’ by Jesus ‘so that he might not deceive the nations any longer.’ This symbolically means that Satan’s sway over the souls of men is restricted so that he cannot prevent the salvation of those who are being saved through the Gospel.

‘When the thousand years are ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations …to gather them for battle’. They will surround ‘the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire’ comes down from heaven and consumes them. And, ‘the devil who had deceived them’ is ‘thrown into the lake of fire’.

Conclusion

In short, the 1000 years is symbolic of the period from the Church’s inception and commissioning as priests under Jesus Christ, who has all authority in heaven and on earth, until this age given for the salvation of mankind is over. Then, Satan is released and is quickly destroyed along with all who follow him.

Rob Morley

Responses To Ron Rhodes’ ‘The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy’:

  1. Bible Prophecy: Literal or Allegorical
  2. Toppling Dispensationalism
  3. Israel is Saved or Judged, not Replaced or Distinct
  4. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? – PART 1
  5. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? PART 2 – Israel
  6. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? PART 3 – Middle East, European Union, Globalism?
  7. The Signs of the Times – Is America in Bible Prophecy?
  8. The Signs of the Times – Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur? PART 1 – Israel regathered from Many Nations
  9. The Signs of the Times – Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur? PART 2 – Russians and Muslims to Invade Israel on Horseback?
  10. When Will The Rapture Occur?
  11. Taking Issue with Futurism – Interpreting Revelation Part 1
  12. Daniel’s Seventieth Week and the Book of Revelation – Interpreting Revelation Part 2
  13. Babylon, the 144000 and The Two Witnesses – Interpreting Revelation – Part 3
  14. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 1
  15. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 2
  16. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 3
  17. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 4
  18. The Millennium
  19. Prophetic Events and Their Timing
Eschatology, Prophecy, The Antichrist

Who is the Antichrist? – Part 4

Dominoes Falling (6)
Debate 6 – Part 4

Responding to Ron Rhodes’ The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy

Debate 6: Ron Rhodes asks, ‘How Are We to Understand the Antichrist?’

Dispensationalists Get Timing Wrong

As I have previously indicated, Dispensationalists would have you believe that most of the book of Revelation is for a time after the rapture of the Church. In other words, they believe that most of the characters and events written about would have nothing to do with the Church. This includes the manifestation of the Antichrist or the Beast as he is known in Revelation. However, how is this even possible to swallow, given that the book of Revelation was given by God to Jesus with the express purpose of showing ‘his servants’, the Church, what must ‘soon’ take place?

Dispensationalists translate the term ‘soon’ as ‘quickly’, believing that it references the speed at which the events in Revelation will take place and not the time. By this interpretation the events that are prophesied are then given over to a distant future that has no direct bearing on the first recipients. But, is this consistent with what the document reveals as God’s intention for the Revelation?

While it is true that certain moments that occur in the Revelation are swift, nevertheless, the roles that the characters play and the sheer number of events require time. It is not even logically possible for the existence of the Beast or the False Prophet to be understood as quick events, let alone imagine that the sum of the series of judgements, i.e. the seven seals, trumpets and bowls, take place ‘quickly.’

Furthermore, unlike the prophecy of Daniel that was to be sealed up for a later time, John was told that this prophecy was not to be sealed up precisely because it was going to begin. Clearly the reason that the Church at that time was the recipient of this Revelation of Jesus Christ was because the contents of the prophecy was going to have bearing on them. The term ‘soon’ further emphasizes this.

If that is not enough, consider Revelation 1:3 that says ‘for the time is near.’ This clearly gives the context and excludes any interpretation that disassociates the book of Revelation from the first century recipients. This is especially true of Dispensationalists who would have you believe that most of the Revelation is for another people after the Church has been raptured.

Is Dispensationalism an Antichrist Ruse?

The Antichrist is not someone else’s enemy in the future, as Ron Rhodes and other Dispensationalists would have you believe. Instead, it is very clear from Scripture that the Antichrist is an enemy of the Church that she would ‘soon’ face and would continue to face until Christ’s return. For this reason, Revelation explains how the Antichrist (the Beast) operates and, most importantly, how the Church overcomes him in Jesus Christ.

Isn’t that the perfect deception, to palm off the identity of one of the Church’s biggest enemies as non-integral and irrelevant to the Church period? In fact, as I see it, Dispensationalism is not merely another interpretation or just some misunderstanding, but, unwittingly, an Antichrist subterfuge to take this powerful message from the Church by teaching them that it concerns another people in a future era.

This shouldn’t be surprising, after all ‘we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places.’ Yet, regardless of whether the Antichrist is involved or not in creating this false belief, Dispensationalists are nevertheless clearly grossly adding to and taking away from the prophecy by having it say what was clearly never intended.

What Does It Matter?

It is obviously of utmost importance that God’s word goes to the audience that it was intended for and that it is understood by them. So, if Revelation was written as an encouragement to the Church, then it is a tragedy if the Church misunderstands it by believing that most of it is not for them as Dispensationalists teach.

It is ironic that Dispensationalists have so much to say and time to give to topics that they don’t even believe effect the Church. And, sadly, even more ironic is that their teaching has become a vehicle for the spirit of the Antichrist, the source of the Antichrist that they speculate about.

Rob Morley

Responses To Ron Rhodes’ ‘The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy’:

  1. Bible Prophecy: Literal or Allegorical
  2. Toppling Dispensationalism
  3. Israel is Saved or Judged, not Replaced or Distinct
  4. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? – PART 1
  5. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? PART 2 – Israel
  6. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? PART 3 – Middle East, European Union, Globalism?
  7. The Signs of the Times – Is America in Bible Prophecy?
  8. The Signs of the Times – Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur? PART 1 – Israel regathered from Many Nations
  9. The Signs of the Times – Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur? PART 2 – Russians and Muslims to Invade Israel on Horseback?
  10. When Will The Rapture Occur?
  11. Taking Issue with Futurism – Interpreting Revelation Part 1
  12. Daniel’s Seventieth Week and the Book of Revelation – Interpreting Revelation Part 2
  13. Babylon, the 144000 and The Two Witnesses – Interpreting Revelation – Part 3
  14. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 1
  15. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 2
  16. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 3
  17. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 4
  18. The Millennium
  19. Prophetic Events and Their Timing
Eschatology, Prophecy, The Antichrist

Who is the Antichrist? – Part 2

Dominoes Falling (6)
Debate 6 – Part 2

Responding to Ron Rhodes’ The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy

Debate 6: Ron Rhodes asks, ‘How Are We to Understand the Antichrist?’

Introduction

In this post I give an outline of the various uses of the term ‘Antichrist’. In the process I also give a broad interpretation of the human leader called the Antichrist who I see as a recurrent enemy of the Church. This is in contrast to Ron Rhodes and other Dispensationalists who consider this Antichrist to be someone who exists only after the Church has been raptured and who therefore has nothing to do with the Church.

The Antichrist – An Evil Spirit

The Antichrist is firstly a pervading and an enduring spirit with the ability to affect individuals and multitudes of every generation. For example, John correlates those who do not confess Jesus with the spirit of the Antichrist. Similarly, the human Antichrist does not innately have the spirit of the Antichrist, but is possessed by it.

Though a physical manifestation of the Antichrist is an ominous thought, facing the spirit of the Antichrist is no less daunting. In fact, the myriad of ways in which the spirit of the Antichrist operates can be harder to identify and handle than when he manifests in individuals who are plainly seen and understood for who they are. For, how can we know in who this spirit is sowing his ideas and sentiments that lead to unbelief and all forms of anti-God behavior in society?

If we are not careful, we can be so busy identifying who the Antichrist is that we don’t recognize that the spirit of the Antichrist at work, undermining Christ and those who are His and the positive difference that they have made in society.

The Antichrist – Many Persons

When John wrote the Gospel of John, as well as 1 and 2 John, he specifically aimed his message at early Gnostic belief, calling the individual proponents of Gnosticism ‘the Deceiver and the Antichrist’. And, it was not only the individual teachers who were designated as the Antichrist, because he also said that ‘whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ ….is the Antichrist’.

Though this broad definition was particularly aimed at early Gnosticism, it is by no means restricted to that errant teaching. In fact, at the time that John wrote, the Jews were already well established at denying Jesus as their Christ. So, while the Gnostics believed that the flesh was evil and, therefore, that Jesus couldn’t be the Christ, it was on the grounds that Jesus claimed to be God that the Jews rejected Him as their Christ (Messiah).

This broad definition not only allows for multiple persons to be the Antichrist, it also allows for a range of ways in which to deny Jesus as the Christ. As such, Judaism and Gnosticism are just two ways that Jesus Christ is denied. Ultimately, all other religions and their followers are Antichrist because they also deny that Jesus is the Christ.

The Antichrist – A Roman Emperor

According to John, the evidence of many Antichrists was evidence that it was ‘the last hour’ and, as such, the manifestation of a certain expected Antichrist leader was imminent. Consider 1 John 2:18 that says ‘as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming’ and 2 Thessalonians 2:3 ‘…that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition’. Both of these Scriptures speak of an individual who was expected.

Now, several hundred years before, the prophet Daniel had clearly predicted the sequence of events in Jewish history under specifically identified empires. This meant that anyone who lived during any period of the prophecy could identify the period that they were in. Consequently, from the prophetic timeline, it would have been clear to John that the Roman Empire that they were under was the age of ‘the terrifying beast’.

Furthermore, Daniel predicted that in this period there would arise a leader who was particularly anti-God. Daniel referred to him as the ‘little horn’ on the ‘terrifying beast’ and also as the ‘11th horn’. John called him the Antichrist, because, since God’s incarnation in Jesus Christ, whatever was anti-God was now essentially Antichrist. You can only imagine the potential threat to God’s people, the Christians, if an emperor became host to the spirit of the Antichrist.

Though the references to the Antichrist in 1 and 2 John were a rebuttal of early Gnosticism, this person, called the Antichrist by John, displayed another form of Antichrist behavior. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 he is spoken of as ‘that man of sin … the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped, so that he as God sits in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.’

Domitian is the most likely candidate as he wanted to be addressed as “dominus et deus noster”, which translates, “Our Lord and God”. He was not unlike the prince of Tyrus who previously had elevated himself to be as God. Consider Ezekiel 28:2: “…your heart is lifted up, and you have said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet you are a man, and not God, though you set your heart as the heart of God…” Furthermore, Domitian severely persecuted the Church who comprise those made holy by God. They are undoubtedly God’s Holy One’s that ‘the little horn’ (the Antichrist) in Daniel persecutes.

It stands to reason that the Antichrist would have been manifest early on as a satanic incarnation in the life of the Church in opposition to Christ and His Church. Also, the ‘man of sin’ is said to appear before Christ’s return. Therefore, in order for Christ’s return to carry with it the sense of expectation and surprise that the Scriptures associate with it, an early manifestation of the Antichrist would have been necessary.

The Antichrist – An End-Time Incarnation

While 2 Thessalonians 2 speaks of an expected individual called ‘the man of sin’ and the book of Revelation speaks of ‘the Beast’, careful cross-referencing and comparing shows that these characters are the same person as the Antichrist. Now, according to the Scriptures, ‘the man of sin’ and ‘the Beast’ get destroyed at Christ’s return. Therefore, this Antichrist leader is somehow not only a 1st century individual, but an end-time individual too.

We will never know who the last Antichrist is. All we know is that at Christ’s return he will be destroyed. In this way Christ’s return date remains a mystery. That’s another reason why we know the Antichrist cannot be only an end-time personality, otherwise, so long as the Antichrist hasn’t appeared we would know that Christ isn’t coming.

The Antichrist – Repeated Incarnations

Though the Beast of Revelation was a 1st century occurrence, he is also understood to repeatedly manifest throughout history as an enemy of the Church and only be destroyed at Christ’s coming. Similarly, ‘the man of lawlessness’ in 2 Thessalonians is destroyed at Christ’s coming too. Consequently, John’s reference to an Antichrist individual in 1 John 2:18 appears to be only the first of several manifestations that would occur until Christ’s return.

After the initial Antichrist, most likely Emperor Domitian, others carried the mantle in subsequent generations. These were likely leaders like Emperor Diocletian, certain of the popes (arguably the papal system itself), and several other religious and world leaders.

Now, the attributes and activities associated with the incarnate Antichrist are not fulfilled in their entirety in any one of these individuals, including the end-time Antichrist. For example, none can be both alive in the 1st century and at the end when Jesus returns. Also, not all necessarily have lying signs and wonders associated with them, though the papal system does and the end-time Antichrist might. And, interestingly, Vespasian, Domitian’s father, had miracles attributed to himself. This may have been Domitian’s inspiration to take things a step further and consider himself divine.

It appears that while we are so busy identifying who the Antichrist might have been, or who he might be, or who he might one day be, we miss the enigma that he has and will manifest recurrently.

In Conclusion

Because it was ‘the last hour’ when John wrote, we know from our perspective that the individual Antichrist, of whom he wrote they were expecting, must have come. This was most likely the Roman emperor Domitian. Additionally, it appears that the spirit of the Antichrist has subsequently manifest himself at different times in other prominent individuals and will no doubt do so until the end when Christ returns and that Antichrist incarnation is destroyed.

Nevertheless, recognizing how and where the spirit of the Antichrist is at work is undoubtedly far more significant than identifying a person called the Antichrist, because the spirit of the Antichrist is always at work, impacting countless to deny Christ and the salvation that He offers. That, surely, is of far more dire consequence than anything else.

Rob Morley

Responses To Ron Rhodes’ ‘The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy’:

  1. Bible Prophecy: Literal or Allegorical
  2. Toppling Dispensationalism
  3. Israel is Saved or Judged, not Replaced or Distinct
  4. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? – PART 1
  5. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? PART 2 – Israel
  6. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? PART 3 – Middle East, European Union, Globalism?
  7. The Signs of the Times – Is America in Bible Prophecy?
  8. The Signs of the Times – Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur? PART 1 – Israel regathered from Many Nations
  9. The Signs of the Times – Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur? PART 2 – Russians and Muslims to Invade Israel on Horseback?
  10. When Will The Rapture Occur?
  11. Taking Issue with Futurism – Interpreting Revelation Part 1
  12. Daniel’s Seventieth Week and the Book of Revelation – Interpreting Revelation Part 2
  13. Babylon, the 144000 and The Two Witnesses – Interpreting Revelation – Part 3
  14. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 1
  15. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 2
  16. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 3
  17. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 4
  18. The Millennium
  19. Prophetic Events and Their Timing
Eschatology, Prophecy, The Antichrist

Who is the Antichrist? – Part 1

Dominoes Falling (6)
Debate 6

Responding to Ron Rhodes’ The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy

Debate 6: Ron Rhodes asks, ‘How Are We to Understand the Antichrist?’

The Antichrist Conundrum

Throughout church history many have postulated who the Antichrist is. Some believe that he is yet to come. Among them are those like Ron Rhodes who believe that the Church will have nothing to do with the Antichrist because, according to him, the church will have been raptured before anyone is identified as the Antichrist. Others have proposed 1st century Roman emperors, certain world or religious leaders, various popes and even the papal system itself.

Is this ongoing conundrum ever solvable? I believe it is. I propose that the interpretation of the sum of all the events and attributes that are ascribed to the Antichrist in the Bible leads to an understanding that he belongs to more than one generation and, therefore, that he has to be more than one individual. Having said that, I do not believe he will exist after the Church has been raptured as Rhodes has suggested, because after the Church is raptured the earth and all that is in it will be destroyed with fire.

Scriptures clearly point to an initial 1st century Antichrist, while others indicate repeated manifestations of this figure throughout Church history, and still others speak of a final Antichrist who is destroyed at Christ’s return. In a nutshell, Daniel prophesied about the Antichrist as a specific 1st century Roman emperor, which is corroborated by John who wrote in 1 John that they were expecting the Antichrist’s imminent appearance. However, the book of Revelation also clearly shows the Antichrist as an ongoing enemy of the Church throughout its history. And, finally, both 2nd Thessalonians and Revelation speak of the Antichrist’s demise when Christ returns.

Clearly, in order for the Antichrist to be a 1st century manifestation, as well as an ongoing one and an end-time character, he has to be represented by more than one person. As I see it, our inability to agree on who the Antichrist was, is, or will be, is proof that not one person fully represents the person of the Antichrist.

The Antichrist Distraction

I believe that the Bible gives us sufficient revelation concerning the Antichrist so that we are aware of him and his ways. Having said that, we are not to be enamored by him in any way. Sadly, however, it appears that some in the Church get just as attracted by the topic of the Antichrist as they do with Christ Himself. Strangely, this is often especially true of many who think that the Church will be raptured before the Antichrist is manifest.

Similarly, knowledge of the spirit of the Antichrist should be of far more concern than speculating about the Antichrist. While the Church is distracted by trying to pinpoint a person or project some future figure, the spirit of the Antichrist is at work in all of society, manifesting as unbelief in multitudes, driving false religion, and operating through multiple religious and governmental leaders.

In my next post I will expand on the various forms in which the Antichrist is revealed to us in Scripture. My goal is to leave the reader with a sober view of a real enemy who operates in our midst rather than attempt to imbibe you with a narrow nauseating view so often spoken about in books and popular television and that is unrelated to real life.

Before you may be tempted to come at me with your proofs of your version of the Antichrist or shoot down what I have said thus far, I would like you to hear me out as I explain my perspective through this series of posts.

Rob Morley

Responses To Ron Rhodes’ ‘The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy’:

  1. Bible Prophecy: Literal or Allegorical
  2. Toppling Dispensationalism
  3. Israel is Saved or Judged, not Replaced or Distinct
  4. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? – PART 1
  5. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? PART 2 – Israel
  6. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? PART 3 – Middle East, European Union, Globalism?
  7. The Signs of the Times – Is America in Bible Prophecy?
  8. The Signs of the Times – Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur? PART 1 – Israel regathered from Many Nations
  9. The Signs of the Times – Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur? PART 2 – Russians and Muslims to Invade Israel on Horseback?
  10. When Will The Rapture Occur?
  11. Taking Issue with Futurism – Interpreting Revelation Part 1
  12. Daniel’s Seventieth Week and the Book of Revelation – Interpreting Revelation Part 2
  13. Babylon, the 144000 and The Two Witnesses – Interpreting Revelation – Part 3
  14. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 1
  15. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 2
  16. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 3
  17. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 4
  18. The Millennium
  19. Prophetic Events and Their Timing
Eschatology, Prophecy

Babylon, the 144000 and The Two Witnesses – Interpreting Revelation – Part 3

Dominoes Falling (5)
Dispensationalism Goes Down

Responding to Ron Rhodes’ The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy

Debate 5: Ron Rhodes asks, ‘How Are We to Understand the Book of Revelation?’

 

Rhodes specifically asks: Can We Identify Babylon? Who Are the 144,000, and What Is Their Ministry? Who Are the Two Witnesses?

Firstly, for those who are new to this series, in my previous post, Interpreting Revelation Part 1 – Taking Issue with Futurism, I explained that once the genre of Revelation is identified then the correct method of interpretation can be applied and the original meaning can be established. The questions in this post that Rhodes has put forward are therefore to be considered in the light of Revelation having been determined to be apocalyptic literature, which is filled with figurative language.

Can We Identify Babylon?

Futurists suggest that this will be either a rebuilt Rome or a rebuilt Babylon. However, having determined that Revelation is full of figurative language, why should it be referring to a specific literal place at all? And, furthermore, consider that the text doesn’t speak of it being rebuilt, but of its existence.

When we consider that this book was written to a 1st century audience using apocalyptic terms like dragon, beast, etc., we should ask what they would have understood by the term Babylon in a figurative context. And, in order to understand the figurative meaning behind the term, we need to first understand the literal significance of the term in their minds.

Babylon had been an empire in the Old Testament that had exercised dominion over other nations. They had enforced their worldview, created unfair trade and exploited people. Among those affected were God’s people. In the first century, Rome was doing exactly the same and so it was figuratively referred to as Babylon. It appears in 1 Peter 5:13 where Peter speaks of the church in Rome by calling it the ‘church in Babylon’.

Now, though there’s little doubt that the term Babylon referred to Rome in the book of Revelation, it clearly went beyond Rome too, because this Babylon goes on to exist until it is judged at the end of time. Therefore Babylon should be seen as an continuing world system that was merely being represented by Rome in the 1st Century and that continually exists through various governments and economic systems throughout the ages until it gets destroyed.

Babylon in Revelation is therefore not literally a rebuilt place sometime in the distant future, but an ongoing worldly system manifest in power, wealth and abuse. It’s one of the constant enemies that the Church faces. However, she faces Babylon in the light of the revelation of Jesus Christ, who guides His church in the context of it being allowed to exist.

Essentially Jesus tells the Church to “Come out of her”, echoing His words elsewhere in the New Testament like “love not this world” and “where your heart is there your treasure will be also”. Such an interpretation would have been meaningful to a 1st century audience and has been to the Church ever since.

Who Are the 144,000, and What Is Their Ministry?

‘And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the people of Israel’ (Revelation 7:4).

Because Revelation is comprised of figurative language throughout, we should consider that the numbers are being used symbolically too. In my post, Numerology in The Revelation, I argue that numbers should be considered figuratively if –

  • the literature is apocalyptic (a genre that uses symbolic and allegorical language)
  • there is clear use of numerology
  • numerology is used at the outset
  • numbers associated with Biblical numerology are used
  • numbers associated with Biblical numerology are used throughout
  • only numbers associated with Biblical numerology are used throughout
  • credible Biblical meaning is consistently the outcome of interpretation
  • multiple cases make chance meaning an impossible explanation

Revelation ticks all of the above, therefore we ought to consider the figurative meaning behind the number 144 000:

12 x 12 x 10 x 10 x 10 = 144, 000

12 = covenant people

10 = quantitative fullness

3 = God

2 = both Old and New Testament eras

‘one hundred forty-four thousand’ – 10 x 10 x 10 (or 103) x 12 x 12 (or 122) depicts the fullness (10) of God’s (3) people of both (2) the Old (12) and New (12) Covenant eras.

‘sealed’ – this is not a literal sealing, but is figurative of a spiritual truth.

‘tribe’ – note that this isn’t the traditional tribal list. This suggests meaning behind why some are listed and others omitted. Also of significance is the order in which they appear. Obviously Judah being listed first has meaning. Furthermore, the exact number from each tribe suggests meaning outside of the literal, as some tribes were much larger.

‘Israel’ – figuratively, Israel represents the true people of faith of both Testaments, not the literal people of whom Paul said ‘not all Israel are Israel.’

The 144000 are therefore the people of God of both Testament eras. The original audience would have recognized that they were being included and referred to by this symbolism. And, such an interpretation would have encouraged not only them, but the Church throughout history. This is in contrast to a literal interpretation of 144000 Jews after the Rapture, which clearly is a total misrepresentation that comes from applying a literal method of interpretation to what is clearly figurative language.

Who Are the Two Witnesses?

‘And I will grant my two witnesses authority to prophesy. These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth’ (Revelation 11:3-4).

2 = Double witness

Context:

  • Witnesses = Lampstands = Olive Trees
  • Lampstands = Churches

Some allusions to consider:

  • Olive Trees = Kingly & Priestly authority (Zerubbabel – governer, Joshua – high priest
  • Elijah and Moses at the transfiguration
  • Jesus sent disciples out in 2’s
  • 2 Churches = Old & New Testament churches
  • 2 Churches = Smyrna & Philadelphia as ideal churches
  • Two witnesses required to establish truth
  • God’s house on foundation of the apostles and prophets

The two witnesses with authority to prophesy are “those who worship in the temple” (Revelation 11:1), i.e. God’s people of both Old and New Testament eras.

This is a far cry from the Futurist view of an actual two persons well beyond the first century church and after the church era, who will be literally killed in Jerusalem and their bodies left in the middle of the street, and the whole world will look upon them via a video gone viral over the Internet. Who then, three days later, will stand up and be taken up to Heaven.

Such a view is based on a wooden literal interpretation in the face of the clear need for figurative interpretation. Its outcome has no relevance to the 7 churches, the audience of the prophecy, or to the Church throughout time.

In contrast, however, the Church in the 1st century would have received comfort from the vision if they saw the slaying and resurrection of the Two Witnesses as a figurative depiction of the Church of the Old and New Testament eras who lay down their lives (not necessarily literally) in service to God. And, we too should receive this comfort and encouragement in our service of the Lord.

Rob Morley

Responses To Ron Rhodes’ ‘The 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy’:

  1. Bible Prophecy: Literal or Allegorical
  2. Toppling Dispensationalism
  3. Israel is Saved or Judged, not Replaced or Distinct
  4. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? – PART 1
  5. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? PART 2 – Israel
  6. The Signs of the Times – Do Current Signs Point to Prophetic Fulfillment? PART 3 – Middle East, European Union, Globalism?
  7. The Signs of the Times – Is America in Bible Prophecy?
  8. The Signs of the Times – Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur? PART 1 – Israel regathered from Many Nations
  9. The Signs of the Times – Can We Know When the Ezekiel Invasion Will Occur? PART 2 – Russians and Muslims to Invade Israel on Horseback?
  10. When Will The Rapture Occur?
  11. Taking Issue with Futurism – Interpreting Revelation Part 1
  12. Daniel’s Seventieth Week and the Book of Revelation – Interpreting Revelation Part 2
  13. Babylon, the 144000 and The Two Witnesses – Interpreting Revelation – Part 3
  14. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 1
  15. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 2
  16. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 3
  17. Who is the Antichrist? – Part 4
  18. The Millennium
  19. Prophetic Events and Their Timing