Tom: Thanks, Gary. You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him. If you’re a first time listener, we’ve been going through Dave Hunt’s book, In Defense of the Faith, and out of that book we’ve picked questions that, Dave, you’ve had to deal with over your many years of ministry, and they are difficult questions, but if God’s Word is just that, if it’s God’s Word, if it’s His truth, it should be able to take on anything, right?
Tom: Okay. So, let’s begin with the first question: “I’ve been coming into contact more frequently with Christians who seem to love the Lord and believe that we have to take over the world and set up the kingdom before Christ can return. They are convinced that Christ will return to earth to rule here, not to take us to heaven, and that He cannot do so until we have set up the kingdom for Him. They say that those who believe in the Rapture will be so shocked to face the Antichrist, when they didn’t expect to, that they will be deceived and think he is Christ. Doesn’t this make good sense?”
I don’t think it makes good sense. I mean, it’s a, you know, it’s a legitimate question, but I don’t think…
Dave: No, there are many Christians who believe this—that’s amazing! Mostly in the positive confession arena—the kingdom now, kingdom dominion people, who say that Adam lost dominion to Satan and we’ve got to take it back, that we are really little gods, we have to recognize our authority. It would take this world back from Satan and establish the kingdom and then, when we do, Christ will come and reign over the kingdom that we’ve set up for Him. Now, I guess to some people that would sound plausible, provided you haven’t read the Bible.
Tom: Well, that’s a good question, Dave. Where would they get these ideas?
Dave: Well, it’s sometimes called “Manifest Sons” doctrine. So, they get it, at least in part, from Romans chapter 8, which says that the “whole creation groans in travail until now waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God” and that we have to be manifested as the sons of God. The church has to be manifested in its full power. Christ, after all, said, “All power, all authority, is given me, go ye, therefore”—so in the authority that Christ has given us, we’re going to take this world back from Satan. And, you wouldn’t expect Christ to return for a wimpy church, would you? He’s going to come back for a triumphant church—a church that is ruling the world. You don’t expect Him to come here and try to set up the kingdom, do you? That’s our job. Well, that sounds plausible as well, but it’s not biblical and, of course, it isn’t even plausible. We can set up the kingdom? We are going to take over? How are we going to do that?
No, in fact, the Bible talks about apostasy getting worse and worse. Christ, in Matthew 25 says He’s coming for a sleeping church. At least, it says, you know, the five wise, five foolish virgins, “as the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept, and at midnight there arose a great cry, Behold, the bridegroom cometh, go ye out to meet him!” Paul says, “Evil men and seducers will wax worse and worse” (2 Thessalonians, chapter 2, verse 3). He says “That day will not come except the apostasy comes first.” So, all through the Scriptures—in fact, Jesus, we’ve quoted it often, Luke:18:8, He raises the question, “When the Son of man returns, will he find the faith on the earth?”
Tom: But, Dave, if we go back historically—the history of the church but also in the world— there have always been attempts to put together some Utopia—some outside the church, but also, inside the church. We’ve had, whether it be cults, whether it be movements within the church trying to establish a kingdom. Now, all of this that’s taking place, you’ve just referred to an apostasy and so on, it’s actually going to lead to a false kingdom.
Dave: Right, we’ll get to that in a moment. Tom, you asked, “How do they get this from the Bible?” I don’t know of a better example than Earl Paulk, who has a large church in the Atlanta area. He wrote a book titled Held in the Heavens Until, and he says that we who are alive and remain—quoting the scriptures now—what does the scripture say? First Thessalonians 4, I don’t know, around verse 16 or somewhere around there: “We who are alive and remain shall be caught up…the Lord will 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 who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air.” He quotes that scripture, “We who are alive and remain,” and then he takes off on his own, and he says, “We who are alive and remain are left here to take over the world!” That is not what it says! And how you can so blatantly just contradict the Word of God! Well, Held in the Heavens Until—he gets that title from a sermon that Peter preached, the second sermon, it’s in Acts chapter 3, and it says, “Whom the heavens must receive…” and let’s see what it says, if I can find it here—in my Bible that’s falling apart….
Tom: Certainly not from disuse. I see you have it marked up quite a bit.
Dave: Peter—this is his second sermon, chapter 3, verse 19, he’s speaking to the Jews—there are a lot of Rabbis there as well, critics; “Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and he shall sent Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you; Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”
Now these people leave a couple of words out there. It says, “until the times of restitution…..” No, they say “until the restitution of all things,” and you see, we must restore all things. And then, Christ is held in the heavens until we have restored everything. No, it says, “Until the times of restitution….” When the times of restitution come, then will occur what—well, the disciples asked Christ, “Lord, wilt thou, at this time ” (Acts Chapter 1), “wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And Jesus said, “Well, I mean, don’t ask me! You guys are the ones that are supposed to restore it!” No, that’s Acts:1:6: “When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” So, they understood that He was the one who had to restore it. When the times of restoration have come, then He who is the one who will restore it will return to this earth, and He will do exactly that—He will destroy Antichrist and set up His kingdom.
Jesus doesn’t say, No, you guys are the ones. No, He says, verse 7, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” So going back to chapter 3 again: “He is held in the heavens until the times of restitution of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began,” and that’s when the Father will send Him, and the Son will come and He will destroy Antichrist and establish His earthly rule for a thousand years sitting on the throne of his father David.
Now, the questioner says, “Well, if you are looking for the Rapture, then you’re going to be really shocked when the Antichrist appears—you haven’t been raptured. You will—in fact, he’ll claim to be Christ—you won’t be prepared and you will think that he must be the Christ. Well, Tom, I don’t know; sometimes I get discouraged. Well, you have, I think, taught in university—part of your Ph.D. program which you were pursuing, and you know that an awful lot of people don't think. We don’t train them to think in our schools and we don’t train them to think in our Sunday schools—that really concerns me. What does the Bible say? I just quoted it. The dead will be raised. We will be caught up to meet Him in the air. Then how would I be deceived by an Antichrist who comes to this earth to set up a kingdom? He couldn’t possibly be the Christ! Anybody that tells me that he is the Christ—he hasn’t raised the dead, and he hasn’t caught up the living saints to meet him in the air—he is not the Christ! He is the Antichrist. Well, he may not even be the Antichrist, because there have been a lot of phonies, but he certainly is not the Lord Jesus Christ in His resurrected, glorified body, coming back with the marks of Calvary—Come on! This guy doesn’t have the marks of Calvary, he’s not a resurrected, glorified body.
So, to say that if you believe in the Rapture you’re setting yourself up for a delusion—No, if you don’t believe in the Rapture, you’re setting yourself up for a delusion! And, if you are expecting to meet a Christ who, when you meet him, your feet are planted on planet earth, and he hasn’t come to catch you up to meet—you, you know—to meet him in the air, but he has come to rule over the kingdom you have established for him, you’ve been working for Antichrist! Because it’s very clear, Antichrist will set up a kingdom prior to the second coming of Christ, and it is for the express purpose of destroying that kingdom of Antichrist. It will be a worldwide kingdom that Christ returns in His second coming with the saints, which He has caught up in the Rapture. So, Tom, I don’t know, I don’t understand how these people could be deceived.
Tom: Well, Dave, on the one hand we say we don’t know how people are deceived, but I think the bottom line is, there is so much biblical illiteracy out there among evangelicals even. We’re students of the Bible—we would hardly set ourselves up as experts in this area—I don’t know what an expert is, but we’ve been searching the Scriptures for a long time—you far longer than I have, Dave, and there are some things that just because of our awareness of what the Word of God says, discernment comes fairly easily. You would say, Wait a minute! What are you saying here? But that’s not the case among believers, and then guruism in the church, where they are not doing their own study of God’s Word—they are relying upon somebody else, and they are not checking him or her out in some cases.
Dave: We have to know the whole Bible. We need to read it over and over and over, because when a false doctrine comes along, you instantly know that it’s not biblical. How would you know it’s not biblical if you don’t know the Bible? So, it is so important—the Word of God is our daily food. This is what we feed upon. That means meditating upon the Word of God. We should be thinking about the Bible.
Tom: Meditating, thinking—good point there. Because people are beginning to understand the word “meditating” from “let your mind go—create a void there.” Well, there are too many voids there, is the problem.
Dave: It means “to muse,” and you know the word, “a-muse,” like a “a-theist” is one who does not believe in God and “a-musement” keeps you from thinking, from meditating, and contemplating, and unfortunately, many of our churches—they are offering amusement, not doctrine, not sound biblical teaching. In fact, I was talking to a pastor just this morning, and he said, “Well, but you’ve got a huge church”—in fact, he said, “Baptist church just down the street” from his church, and it is just growing by leaps and bounds because all they give you is amusement. They don’t give you sound doctrine; they don’t go through the Bible and teach from the Word of God—it’s an entertainment center. You come Sunday morning to be entertained. Well, that attracts a lot of people, but a lot of people who know nothing of the Word of God, many of them are not even saved. They have never been challenged to repent of their sins, they have never been…that would chase people away. You preach holiness and sin and ask people to really come to Christ—that would chase them away. So, they don’t want to do that.
In fact, you probably remember the classic quote from Robert Schuller. It was in Christianity Today some years ago. And he said, “The worst thing you can do is to try to convince someone of their lost and sinful condition.” Well, Christ came into the world to save sinners—He came to seek and to save the lost. If you don’t know you are lost, and you don't know you are a sinner, there’s no salvation—what’s the point of salvation? So that’s a tragedy, but Tom, we need to know the Word of God, and if we know the Word of God, we would instantly know that this is a false idea. So maybe we have driven that one into the ground?
Tom: I don’t think we’ve driven it into the ground. I think it’s—look, Dave, I’m sitting across the table from you, and these are issues I have to take to heart. Again, we started off by talking about apostasy in the last days. How do you deal with that? I’m thinking about in Acts, Paul saying to the Ephesians elders, how for three years, night and day, he wept over what he knew was going to come into the church at Ephesus. And he’s speaking to us more so, because as the times draw closer to the coming of the Lord, apostasy is going to go rampant— and how are we going to stand? How are we going to be steadfast in the Lord to be able to witness, to be able to encourage people, when delusion is so strong? It’s a difficult thing!
Dave: Well, he says the apostasy must come first. “Apostasy,” there, the word means “falling away.” Some people have tried to preach the Rapture from that. No, it’s not being taken away, which is the Rapture—we are snatched, caught up—but it is falling away, It is something that someone does themselves. They have moved away.
You probably remember the bumper sticker: “If God Seems Far Away, Guess Who Moved?” This is apostasy. Well, you can go to church; you can have a big church, you can sing the hymns—well, a lot of the hymns have been thrown out, and we’ve got contemporary music now—and I don’t want to go into that. Some of it is okay, but much of it, the words are just very, very shallow. It’s the beat they like. It’s the music, the tune, and you can’t hear the lyrics because the orchestra is so loud, or whatever. Not necessarily—not always—but in many cases, they have adopted new choruses that are shallow and repetitious and the hymns have gone.
Well, that’s part of the apostasy. In fact, I can remember—I knew the Vineyard Movement, and I’m not making a blanket statement about all Vineyard churches, but I think I am fairly well qualified to talk about it. I used to speak at a Bible study in Brentwood, Los Angeles, area, Southern California, where the Vineyard Movement began. I knew it from the very beginning, and I saw what began to happen. I used to speak at Vineyards; there were three of them originally in Southern California, and I saw the music become shallow, repetitive—I saw the time for what they called worship music got longer and longer, the time for exegeting the Bible got less and less. And again, I don’t speak for all Vineyards all over the world. I don’t know—I only know the origin of it, I know the beginnings of it, and I saw where it went down hill.
The emphasis became what they called “worship.” Well, I need to think in worship. Someone says, “I love to worship you, I love to worship you, I love to worship you,” and I’m sitting there just feeling so sad for this poverty-stricken message. Worship isn’t words about worship. Worship is about the Lord! Tell me something about the Lord that will bow me in worship before Him.” But the beat became the thing and that got longer and longer and then psychology came in….
Tom: Inner healing.
Dave: Inner healing, yes, and they began visualizing yourself back in the trauma and then…
Tom: So this is experiential stuff, Dave.
Dave: …pounding on pillows to get the aggression out of you, the anger out of you—they went down the wrong road. They abandoned the sound teaching of the Word of God. Now again, let me say I’m not making a blanket statement about all Vineyards, but I know how it began—I know what happened, I saw the downward path, but this is in many churches. Let’s offer something that will entertain, that will attract people, make them feel good, don’t want them to feel bad: “The Word of God—that makes me feel bad; it convicts me in my heart.” This is what I need! I need correction from the Lord.
Tom: And ultimately, that brings comfort.
Dave: Absolutely. When Paul writes to Timothy, 2 Timothy chapter 4:2, he says, “Preach the word.” That’s what we need. He says, “The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine.” Now what you need to do, the remedy for that, for the apostasy you’ve been talking about, Tom, is sound doctrine. So he says, “Preach the word”—and what does he say? “Reprove, rebuke, exhort, with long suffering and sound doctrine, for the time will come when they won’t endure sound doctrine.”
So what do we do when they won’t endure sound doctrine? Then we give them the entertainment that they want to try to attract them? No, Paul says, “Give them the sound doctrine that they don’t want, and that, hopefully, will bring the correction that is needed to turn them back to the Lord.” I think of 2 Timothy chapter 3: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God; it is profitable or to be used for doctrine”—first thing it says, doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness. This is what the Bible should be used for, and the pastor or the Bible teacher should be teaching out of the Bible, out of the word of God. “Thy word is a lamp to my feet, a light to my path….Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.” Jeremiah says, “I consider your word to be more than my necessary food; your word was found, I did eat it.” Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
So, if I am going to be spiritually strong, I need a good diet. I need nutrition. I need to feed upon the Word of God, and, ultimately, that is feeding upon Christ himself, who is the living Word.
Tom: Dave, we began this segment by talking about being thoughtful—about apostasy, and we mentioned thoughtfulness. You have to think. God’s Word is doctrine—it’s not just rules and regulations. People sometimes when they hear doctrine (we’ve got about a minute left) they are thinking of laws and rules, but being thoughtful is just applying God’s Word—receiving it, applying it to your life.
Dave: Well, this is, as you said, God’s Word. To think that I can hear from God himself—that He has written His love letter to me. He’s going to reprove me, correct me. But it’s the most thrilling, exciting book that you could ever ask for, and when we get into the Word of God—we get to know the Word of God—it’s a lamp to our feet. It will guide us, it will prevent us from being led astray by the false doctrines that are out there. We’ve just been talking about one of them!