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blessed_hope

By Walter Morris,2014-08-10 16:49
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blessed_hope

    Our Gathering Together Unto Him

    The Blessed Hope Our Gathering together

     unto Him

    David W. Rowley

    ? 1977

    Revised and reformatted

    July 2006

    Having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better

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    Our Gathering Together Unto Him

    Preface

It is January, 1997. We who love the Lord Jesus Christ and his blessed book, “Old Faithful” – the

    King James Bible, can identify with the words of the Apostle Paul in Philippians 1:23:

    For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with

    Christ; which is far better.

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    Our Gathering Together Unto Him

    This book began in 1973 when I was a second year student at the Pensacola Bible institute. Temporarily out of work, I would spend the first part of the day pounding the streets in search of employment. The latter part of the day was given to classroom studies and a personal study of the book of Daniel. Specifically chapter 9.

    What follows is the result of that continuing study 23 years later. It is my earnest and hopefully humble desire to add something of benefit to the study of the of the most remarkable book in all history, the Authorized King James Bible.

    No man is totally his own. God has used others to help “sharpen (pr. 27:17) the countenance” of this preacher. Notably my teacher, Dr. Peter S. Ruckman, to whom I owe a debt I cannot repay.

    Heartfelt appreciation is herein given to the man who had a major part in shaping my understanding of God and his word. My dad, Samuel Wilson Rowley, through his deep love of the Saviour, and his consistent study of the word, piqued my interest in it at a young age.

    Dad is presently enjoying the glories of heaven. I will some day join him in a glad reunion. It is with deep joy that I dedicate this book to dad, who taught me to love the word of God.

    The Blessed Hope Our Gathering Together Unto Him

    The coming of Christ for His Church is a subject close to the heart of God's people. Notwithstanding, the Church has been derelict in its charge to discover the details of that remarkable event. Lightly regarded by today's materialistic saint, the admonition "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth," is still in the Scripture. Regarding the Rapture, we are admonished to be:

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    Our Gathering Together Unto Him

    Looking for that Blessed Hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God

    and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Titus 2:13

    You can stand out in the summer sun and stare into the eastern sky until you go blind attempting to obey this Scripture. Plainly that is not the intent of the Holy Ghost. It is to the Book we must go!

    When you search for something important and it remains elusive, you normally intensify the effort. Not so with this subject! Ask the average saint that professes belief in the premillennial, pre-tribulation Rapture to give a blow by blow description of the event. You will get a scenario similar to this:

    There will be a trumpet and a shout. The archangel will speak, and the dead in Christ shall rise and be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Then those who are alive and remain will be caught up with them to heaven. It is somewhat a mystery how much time we spend in the "air" as this all takes place in the "twinkling of an eye"!

    On earth cars, moments before navigated by Christians, are suddenly driver-less causing bedlam on the highways. Airplanes, suddenly without pilots, plummet out of the skies. Bumper stickers warn unwary travelers they are risking their lives riding in this auto. At any moment the driver will simply disappear!

Charles Taylor lays it out for us:

    The translation of the Church will be worldwide, for there are true believers in

    Jesus Christ in every country on earth, and they all shall be taken

So far so good . . .! But then:

    Every country will find itself in turmoil. Each government will have to act as

    quickly as possible to prevent a wild tide of anarchy and terrorism. Strong

    measures will be put into effect. The freeways, subways, airports, and streets will

    be in shambles as many engineers, pilots, bus-drivers, and a multitude of private

    car owners shall suddenly be caught up out of this world. It will be many days

    before they can unscramble the mangled cars, trains, and fallen aircraft.

    Communications will be greatly disrupted. Many key persons shall disappear and

    much of the lines of communications which are still above ground will be broken

    by crashes of cars and aircraft. Distraught and searching multitudes will jam and

    overload the communication lines and systems that do remain. Chaos will be on 1 every hand.

    Scripture for this scenario? None. The above is mistakenly based on one Scripture:

    Behold, I shew 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 trump: for the

    trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we

    shall be changed. 1 Corinthians 15:51, 52

Footnotes

     1 Paul Lee Tan , Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations (Rockville, Maryland: Assurance Publishers,

    1979), pp. 1113-1114

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    Our Gathering Together Unto Him

    The phrase "in a moment" has been interpreted to mean that the actual catching up of the Church occurs in a "twinkling of an eye". In reality, it says nothing of the kind. The thing occurring instantaneously is the change. The dead in Christ are raised out of their graves, and our bodies are instantly changed. The misunderstanding is further compounded by the following:

    For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the

    voice 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. 1Thessalonians 4:15, 16

    From these verses we have been taught that the dead in Christ rise into the air first, and then we are caught up to meet them and Christ in the air.

    If you are saved and love Jesus Christ, you want him to come again. If you are honest, you will admit the scene envisioned above is not too far from what you had been taught or constructed in your own mind. Who the archangel is, what he has to say, who shouts, and the number of "trumps" (a last trump requires more than one), what the twinkling of an eye is all about, and the actual catching up, are all details still a bit foggy or of little concern. After all, who cares about all that so long as we get off the planet! Nevertheless, one who loves the Lord cannot be content to remain ignorant of those things God appraised worth writing about.

    This book will challenge some things you always believed about the Rapture. Take a look, and then follow the instruction of the Apostle Paul:

    Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good."

    1 Thess. 5:20, 21

Some Preliminary Definitions and considerations.

It will be helpful at the start to define some terms.

Rapture: The coming of Christ in the air for His Church.

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    Our Gathering Together Unto Him

    Great Tribulation: Three and one-half years of horror for Israel and the inhabitants of the earth. Immediately follows the Rapture.

    Advent: The coming of Christ to the earth. There are two Advents. In the first, He came as redeemer. In the second He comes to establish Himself as king over the earth. This is not the rapture in which he only comes to the clouds and catches his bride away.

    Millennium: A period of one thousand years in which Jesus Christ will reign on earth, beginning roughly around the year two thousand after the battle of Armageddon.

    Pre-millennial: Before the one thousand year reign. Refers to the Christ coming personally to establish His kingdom.

    Post-millennial: After the one thousand year reign. Refers to the heresy taught by some that Christ's return takes place after the "millennium". Their "millennium" not the 1000 year time period taught by the scriptures, but rather an indefinite period of time in which the church, which in their view has replaced Israel, brings in the Kingdom of God.

    Armageddon: The defeat of Christ's enemies just prior to the millennium in a monumental victory at Meggido.

Imminent: To occur at any moment, impending, at hand.

    CHAPTER 1

    NO MAN CAN KNOW

    But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but

    my Father only. Matthew 24:36

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    Our Gathering Together Unto Him

    Without fail, "no one can know" will find its way into any discussion about the Rapture of the Church. There is an unholy spirit abroad that resents anyone discussing the Rapture in a context that tries to discover any thing connected with its timing. One of the great tenets of the faith is that no one could know the day or the hour of the Rapture. The idea is ingrained so deeply, its discussion is considered pointless.

The "no one can know" doctrine has spawned some strange and sometimes discouraging ideas. 2Among them, Christ will not return until the last soul has been saved. As there are now

    multitudes that know not Christ, prospects for the Rapture grow dimmer each day.

One as well-known and loved as Clarence Larkin laments:

    It is the firm conviction of the writer that there has been unnecessary delay in the

    Return of the Lord, caused by the failure of the Church to obey the "Divine

    Commission" to evangelize the world, and it is past time when He should have 3returned

    Then there is the "dynamic tension" theory. God isn't telling in order to keep us all on our spiritual toes. Grant Jeffrey informs us:

    The New Testament tells us in many places to be watchful for the coming of the

    Son of Man. The net result of these passages is that Christians have been forced

    to live in a spiritually dynamic tension of not knowing just when the Lord will

    come to resurrect us. If Christ had clearly stated that His return would not be for

    more than nineteen hundred years, the Church might have lost its sense of

    urgency and mission. There might have been fewer missionaries who felt

    compelled to "go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them 4 in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. . .

    Jeffrey not only misses the earthly Jewish designation of the Lord as the "Son of Man", he gives the lamest possible excuse for the Holy Ghost's apparent silence on this issue. The Laodicean Church has lost its missionary zeal and is clearly closer in time to the Rapture. It is doubtful an absence of knowledge about the timing of the Rapture has had any effect at all on missionary activity. It is the love of Christ that constrains soul-winners to abandon homeland and culture for the hardship and discouragement of the mission field.

Jeffrey continues:

    The Holy Spirit has, in a sense, kept us on our toes spiritually for two thousand

    years by refraining from telling us exactly when Christ would return. Obviously,

     2 This is a truism, but is Christ waiting for that “last soul”, or is it that when he comes, the door of opportunity is closed? The Latter is the view of this author. The former also fails to take into consideration that a great multitude are saved during the Great

    Tribulation

     3 Clarence Larkin, Dispensational truth, Forty first printing, (Rev. Clarence Larkin Est. 2802 N.

    Park Ave. Philadelphia) 1920 p. 15

     4 Grant R. Jeffrey, Heaven The Last Frontier, New York: Bantam Books, 1990, pp. 39, 40

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    Our Gathering Together Unto Him

    God did not want us to know the exact hour when Jesus would return. Jesus said 5 we would not know.

We will reply that Jesus said nothing of the kind.

David A. Lewis, Assembly of God pastor, reinforces the idea:

    Jesus simply forbade us to attempt figuring it out“The timing of the Rapture of the

    Church . . . is deliberately hidden and forbidden. To pry into this matter is open 6 rebellion against God. It is defiant disobedience.

Proof text?

    Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.

     Mark 13:33

    The verse applies directly to the tribulation and certainly does not say they can not know the time, but only that they don't (go ahead, read the verse again) and should keep watching. It certainly does not forbid anything. Quite the contrary, it encourages "looking"! The strange mental quirk occurs again when the writer mistakes a statement in the present tense for a command to abandon watching!

     7Lewis finishes up by calling for an "all out boycott against date setting!" To which we add a

    hearty "Aw Nuts."

    I'll be the first to admit that I don't know the day and hour of the Rapture, and that it may not be known until we are very close to the event itself. However, the hysteria against those who search the Scriptures diligently in obedience to the command of the apostle to be looking for that Blessed

    Hope is unwarranted and unscriptural. Has it not occurred to someone out there that Christ's use of the phrase "that day and hour" not only disclose there already was a day and hour for the Second Advent on God's calendar, but that there is a warrant in the statement to cause us to search for it? Why did Christ bother to coin the phrase unless to arouse holy curiosity about it on the part of His saints? He could simply have said, "That is not for you to know at this time." His choice of words has caused that phrase to be among the most memorized in all of the Scriptures. Let's blame Christ himself for all this day and hour "Second Coming paranoia"!

    Paul could not have issued a clearer statement concerning the coming of Christ than he did in 2 Thessalonians 2:2,3. We will examine that announcement in detail later in this study.

    Will We Know?

    The Bible clearly teaches some will know both the day and the hour of the Second Advent, and it will be as natural as breathing to know both! It also makes clear Christ's bride will know ahead of time the hour He returns to take her out of this world.

     5 Ibid. p. 40

     6 David Allen Lewis, The Triumphant Return of Christ Green Forest, Arkansas: New Leaf Press,

    1993, p. 333

     7 Ibid. p. 351

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    Our Gathering Together Unto Him

    This book will not attempt to set another date for the Rapture. It is written with the conviction that the Bible-believer will know the day and the hour of the Rapture before it takes place. It is not written to predict a date. It is rather designed to help the believer understand what will take place in the days immediately prior to the Rapture. These events will be recognized by Bible-believers as initiating a countdown culminating in our being caught up together with Christ.

    The tense of Matthew 24:36 indicates only that when Jesus Christ spoke these words, no one knew the timing of the Second Advent (review definitions if necessary) , Himself included. That no one could ever know that day or hour cannot be proven from this text. As for the Rapture itself, we will know at least one trump ahead, more than likely six trumps ahead, as our change occurs at the last trump. More on that later.

    The Lord told us that the ministry of the Holy Spirit (to come after his ascension) would include showing us things to come! John 16:13 informs us:

    Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:

    for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall

    he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

    It is one of the Spirit's particular functions to shew us prophetic truth - things to come. Would it be safe to consider the catching up of Christ's bride a thing to come? You bet! Let's begin by establishing that Matthew 24:36 states its premise in the present tense and has nothing to do with the Rapture. The passage deals with the Second Advent. By confusing its context with the Rapture, some "would be" prophets are bold to teach the Church's voyage through the Tribulation - in spite of the clear instruction given in 1 Thessalonians 5:9.

    For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord

    Jesus Christ.

So why does our discussion even include this verse?

    # 1) Because it is the verse most often misquoted and taken out of context when

    a discussion of the Rapture is in progress.

    # 2) Because the passage taken as a whole and compared with parallel

    passages demonstrates some will know both the day and the hour of the Advent.

    # 3) Because some benefit can be gained from its study since, as we will show,

    there is a time correlation between the Advent and the Rapture.

    # 4) Because at the time spoken, Christ himself did not know the day or the hour

    of the Advent. However, He certainly knows both now!

    CHAPTER 2

    CLEARING THE CONSTRUCTION SITE

    Anywhere some structure stands, it is necessary to dismantle the present edifice before new construction can begin. This is true in understanding as well. We will never understand this subject properly until the theological skyscraper known as the "imminent return of Christ" is cleared out of the way.

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    Our Gathering Together Unto Him

    Remember our definitions. Imminent: to occur at any moment; impending; at hand. Those who believe in the imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ believe He could have come at any time in the past since His ascension, or He could come at any time in the future. They believe the actual time of the rapture is concealed and is therefore "at hand".

John Walvoord, in his book, The Return of the Lord says:

    Thousands of Bible-believing Christians believe that the coming of the Lord for 8 His Church is imminent; that is, it could happen any day, any moment.

    To be fair, there are some scriptures that seem to teach this. This work will not ignore them, but will deal with them in a later chapter.

    There are some insurmountable difficulties for the imminent Rapture advocates.

Day Of ???

    A plain statement by the word of God should be conclusive. The Rapture (the day of Christ) does not occur until the revealing of the Man of Sin, the Son of Perdition. In spite of the fact that every fundamental Baptist teaches the passage otherwise, 2 Thessalonians tells a different story.

    Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ,

    and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in

    mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us,

    as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means:

    for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that

    man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.

    2 Thessalonians 2:1-3

    Paul beseeches us by the hope of the Rapture, our gathering together unto him. He confronted and countered the teaching that the "day of Christ" was at hand, or imminent. He made it clear that day would not come until certain conditions are met; a falling away, or apostasy, and the revealing of the Man of Sin.

    All fundamentalists teach the "day of Christ" in the passage should be "day of the Lord". This effort to obscure the truth can be illustrated by the introductory note to 2 Thessalonians in the Scofield Reference Bible:

    The theme of Second Thessalonians is, unfortunately, obscured by a

    mistranslation in the A.V. of 2:2, where "day of Christ is at hand" should be "day

    of the Lord is present". The Thessalonian converts were "shaken in mind" and

    "troubled," supposing, perhaps on the authority of a forged letter as from Paul,

    that the persecutions they were suffering were those of the "great and terrible

    day of the Lord," from which they had been taught to expect deliverance at the 9 day of Christ gathering together unto him.

    If one wanted to promote the heresy of the imminent return, it would be essential to hide the truth of this passage of scripture. The note is a conjecture and a falsehood. We may well reply: "The truth of the Rapture is, unfortunately, obscured by the intentional falsehood in the Scofield note."

     8 John F. Walvoord Th. D. The Return of The Lord (Findlay, Ohio: Durham Publishing

    Company, 1955) p. 80 9 C.I Scofield, The Old Scofield Reference Bible

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