Friday, September 16, 2016

The LORD's coming and the clouds - Part #3, the RAPTURE and Coming as you have seen him going".

Dear in Christ,

This article is the third one in this series. Please ensure that you have read Part #1 and Part #2, before proceeding any further.

Come on! Let's have some rapture!

Though it is not specifically mentioned in 1Th 4:16-17 that Christ would come in the clouds, we can safely assume that he would, as it is told that those who remain alive at the time of his coming would be caught up with those who are raised from death in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.
1Th 4:16 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:
1Th 4:17 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. 
It is not mentioned that anyone would mourn at his coming, probably, because it is irrelevant in the context. Instead, the passage proceeds to the resurrection of the dead.

Is it possible to prove that the coming of Christ mentioned here is different from those in Mat 24:30; Mar 13:26, Luk 21:27 and Rev 1;7? If it were possible for you to do so, will you please tell me: How many "Second Comings" are there? If you can't, the coming of the Christ had to happen while the members of the Sanhedrin, Jewish clergy and those who pierced Christ were alive.

As a Christian saint, are you placed on earth or in heaven?

Our religion has been so successful in indoctrinating us to believe that we are vile, unworthy sinners despite all that Jesus did, that even if we find that the scriptures say something glorious about us, we act as though they are not applicable to us. The following passage is one of the outstanding examples of such treatment.
Eph 2:4  But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Eph 2:5  Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
Eph 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
Eph 2:7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 
The entire passage is in past tense and quickening us together with Christ is not something that has happened while were baptized, because Christ was quickened many generations and centuries before our birth. We are quickened together with Christ, not after him! And the passage also states that we have been made to sit with Christ in heavenly places.

Even if you were to insist that you have been raised with Christ and made to sit in heavenly places while you received baptism, the whole thing is a matter of past, not future.

Now, if you are already seated with Christ in the heavenly places (whatever it implies), you will have to come from heaven together with Christ, instead of being caught up into the clouds to meet him!
Some folks find a lot of consolation in the phrase "in the ages to come" in Eph 2:7, and hence this explanation. God has already done his part of placing you in heavenly places with Christ in a past age, the age in which the death and resurrection of Christ happened and the age in which this epistle is written. That age could be called the Jewish age or the Age of the Law. (A complete discussion on the end of the Jewish age is beyond the scope of this article.) While this was accomplished, you didn't exist and hence it was unknown to you. It is made known to you in this age, the age in which you live. While someone from the Jewish age speaks about the age(s) to come, they are speaking about the age in which we live.

Saints would come with the Lord to judge the world!

While one reads the following passages, they would be quick to equate saints with angels, which is wrong, as we will see later.
Jud 1:14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints[G40],
Jud 1:15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

G40 from Strong's Lexicon:
ἅγιος pronounced as hag'-ee-os
Translated 167 times as holy,
and 62 times as saints.
This word is never translated as angels.
And this is not an isolated passage:
Zec 14:5 And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints[H6918] with thee. (The context is of Jerusalem being attacked by nations.)

H6918 from Strong's Lexicon:
קָדֹשׁ קָדוֹשׁ pronounced as kaw-doshe', kaw-doshe'
Translated 104 times as holy,
and 12 times as saints.
This word is never translated as angels.
Many are quick to equate saints in these passages with angels as passages like Mat 16:27; 25:31; and Luk 9:26 say that the Son of Man would come with his holy angels. As we have seen above, both the Greek and Hebrew words involved are never translated as angels. Moreover, this is what the scriptures say about the status of angels contrasted with saints.
Heb 1:14 Are they (angels) not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? (saints)
1Co 6:3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
These passages makes it clear that angels are spirit that minister to saints and they could be judged by the saints. (The talk is not about the angels that sinned.). Both the parties cannot be equated.

If saints are to come with Christ for executing judgment, where is the question of their being caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord? Irrespective of our beliefs in past or future fulfillment of 1Th 4:17, we cannot study that passage in isolation, ignoring other passages which say that the Lord will come with the saints.

Now, the trump card of the Futurists, Acts 1:11

In all the passages that we have examined so far, we have seen that:
  • there is a strong connection between the coming of the Lord and the clouds. 
  • in none of the Old Testament passages that we have seen did the Lord come personally.
  • on none of the occasions did the LORD came down on to the surface of earth.
  • the person or place against which prophecies were made were destroyed.
  • in 1Th 4:16-17 it is told that the saints would be caught up in the clouds, but it isn't told that the Lord would come down (alone or together with the saints) to earth.
Now, let us read Acts 1:9-11, carefully, without overlooking the fact that the going of the Lord is also associated with clouds:
Act 1:9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
Act 1:10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
Act 1:11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

Lest I forget: Whom did angels address? Men of Bangalore‽ Texas‽ Sydney‽

Audience Relevance is the last thing that many consider while studying the scriptures. While they read Jesus' instruction to Judas: "What you are going to do, do quickly," (Joh 13:27) they understand that it is not about them. Again while they read Paul's instruction to Timothy to bring the cloak, books and parchments that he left at Troas, (2Ti 4:13) OR Paul's instruction to Philemon to arrange for a lodging (Phm 1:22), they discern that it is not to them. Unfortunately, their discernment stops there. Very often do they misconstrue what is addressed to disciples as addressed to them.

Let us read Acts 1:11, again. Doesn't it tell us that the angels addressed the men of Galilee? Who are the ye and you in the passage? Is it a Bangalorean like me? Or a Texan or a Canadian or an Australian or a Whereverian like you?

There were at least 11 (Mat 28:16) disciples around him while Jesus ascended to heaven. It was to those Galileans who were present at the mount of ascension that the angels told that Jesus would return to them. So, the coming of Christ had to happen while those men of Galilee were still alive. Do we have any of them around us now? (But, we are not taught of audience relevance in our theological colleges and seminaries!)

[We may not know whether the 120 people mentioned in Acts 1:15 and 500 odd people mentioned in 1Co 15:6, were around Jesus while the ascension took place. Neither will we know whether they were all Galileans at all.]

In Like Manner.

Acts 1:9-11 provides ample scope to interpret it according to our presuppositions. If this were the only passage about the coming of Our Lord, we could have interpreted it whichever way we like. Since the collective testimony of scriptures about the coming of the Lord tells us that the event is associated with the clouds, the word clouds, mentioned in the context, gets preeminence in the interpretation of the passage.

It is said that Jesus would come back “in like manner” as he went. Alternative translations for the same expression is “in the same way”, “in what manner”. All these indicate the mode of Christ's going to heaven. What did the disciples see while they were staring towards heaven, after Jesus was taken up and he was received by a cloud? They saw him going to heaven, wrapped in clouds. Now, the angels tell them that the same Jesus would come back in the same way, same manner or same mode, implying that he would come back in clouds or wrapped in clouds, just as the collective testimony of various passages on the coming of Christ.

Dear in Christ, it was to the men of Galilee that the angels said that Jesus would return to, and not to a 21st century Bangalorean. like me, or a Texan, or a Canadian or an Australian or a Whereverian like you. Whether Jesus has to come back physically or not, it had to happen while those Galileans were still alive OR they should be alive even now, which is an impossibility.

I think I have covered every important cloud comings found in the scriptures. I am not writing a conclusion, as I expect you to conclude about the truthfulness of the matter, after going through all the three posts.
In Christ,
Tomsan Kattackal

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