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I'd like to describe this web page by telling the reader that it is not merely a random verse-by-verse Bible study that in the end somehow pulls favorable conclusions out of a hat. It is, however, an attempt to gather the key, relevant pieces of information from the Bible, and then see what truths come out. Ok, I hear you saying "If that is the case, why doesn't everyone come to the same conclusions about Endtimes and prophecy?" The answer is something that is explained throughout the web page, and it has to do with how one goes about interpreting the words of scripture. It's worth defining a term here called Systematic Theology.
For those that aren't familiar with what are called Systems of Theology, let me explain. If a System is defined as "An organized set of interrelated ideas or principles", then Systematic Theology is an attempt to organize the ideas and principles found in the Bible into an understandable whole, a system, or architecture. What that means in the end is that a book on Systematic Theology will contain an organized breakdown or explanation of the truths (beliefs and doctrines) found in the Bible. How one goes about developing that System will determine or shape the conclusions that are reached. This then is the answer to the question about why everyone doesn't believe the same thing. If, for example, Person A goes to the Bible with the presupposition that everything in it represents allegorical stories meant to teach general principles of morality, then that person is bound to come to some different conclusions than Person B who believes that the Bible is historically accurate, describes real people, and has absolutes when it comes to morality - it just stands to reason that the conclusions are going to be different. It's up to each person to decide what method of interpretation is required to determine what the authors of the Biblical text actually meant to say. Here's a real black and white example:
Fortunately the choices are more varied than this, but it makes the point. When interpreting written words in a document some choices have to be made about the meaning of the words. How one goes about setting the rules for interpretation will influence the conclusions that are reached. To a large degree, it is for this reason that major denominations within the umbrella of Christianity disagree on many theological issues.
I have to admit that I (we) do subscribe to a System of Theology called Dispensationalism, which you will find described here. However, this does not mean that I always subscribed to it, and that the web page is only an attempt to prove that particular system. Let me explain. Systems can be dangerous if they stop you from thinking through issues on your own. It's easy to just be a subscriber to a theological system without figuring out why a particular belief is right or wrong. The sense of community that we feel in religious circles can be incorrectly transferred to our acceptance of a system of theology, just because our friends adhere to it, or because the Pastor/Minister does. On the other hand, if a system of theology accurately defines your beliefs and positions, it's an easy way for others to know where you are coming from theologically.
Why go into all of this detail? Because it is important to understand how we have arrived at our particular conclusions about Biblical truth, in this case, our Eschatalogy. (See the Glossary of Terms at the bottom for definitions)
So, here's what the web page will look at:
If the pieces of the puzzle fit, (and they do) we will
have succeeded in understanding what the Bible says, rather than what we want it
to say. The conclusions give us confidence in our future,
and one of the results will be a desire to tell others
why the Gospel
message is so important.
Beyond that, some food for thought in regards to debated subjects. Endtimes.org holds to a Premillennial-Dispensational view of Eschatology, but that doesn't mean we disrespect other's viewpoints. The terminology will be explained in detail, so don't get turned off by tough terms.
Note: Endtimes.org web page is laid out with the table of contents on the left so that you can move through by subject, and easily come back to it over and over without losing your place. Most items in the Table of Contents open up to display sub-headings when clicked on. On the bottom you will find a glossary of terms. The glossary isn't exhaustive, but I'll be adding to it as time permits.
When I started this, there weren't that many web pages around. It was in the early days of the web. The contributors to this web page claim no special secret knowledge, or new revelation, but only what can be learned from a literal, grammatical-historical reading of the Bible. (This is explained in Section Two.) Due to the varied interpretations these days in regards to prophecy, it seems necessary to make the point that the conclusions that we have come to here on Endtimes.org can be understood by all Christians, and not only by some super-elite, specially pious or blessed Christians. Everything presented here should be tested in your own study of the word of God. Neither myself nor the other contributors claim any kind of infallibility. Having said that, just because prophecy is difficult doesn't mean that it's Ok to leave it to the professionals. Sure it has some tough areas, but God still wants us to read it and do our best to understand it. In fact, all of God's word was given for our understanding. Revelation 1:3 says "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near." It wouldn't be much of a blessing if we couldn't understand it. The implication is that we can.
The spiritualizing, or allegorizing of scripture in general, and of prophecy in specific, has caused many people to believe that there are no answers to be found when it comes to knowing what the Bible actually says about the future. This is unfortunate, because it is completely untrue. We'll try to show that the spiritualizing of prophecy that has gone on since the second century has caused people to believe that truth on the subject of prophecy simply isn't attainable. When taken as a whole, the Bible speaks plainly in Daniel, Ezekiel, Matthew, and Revelation about the Endtimes. That is not to say that every word in these books are clear, and easy to interpret. Our objective is to put together the pieces and understand God's plan. If there is one thing that is clear from the Bible, it is the fact that God has a plan for human history. He made this clear all the way back in Genesis chapter three when he cursed his enemy, and declared the victory through the seed of a woman. (The Messiah)
Please note that our objective is not to oppose, but to present a point of view, and to inform. This web page is not here to explain why every other position is wrong, although there are some discussions of some other positions. Opposing other positions is not the point of this work, and I hope this is plain to see when you go through the information. We only look at other positions when necessary for comparison. There is more than enough apologetics on the Web already, and I therefore didn't want to build a page that spends most of it's time discussing how wrong other positions were, but rather to present the information and let the reader study, pray and decide.
I hope others will give us the same respect.
Revelation 1:3 says... "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near." - If the time was near then, how much more now. We can see certain events in our time that tell us we are getting close. (See the section on Why we are close to the end)
1 Peter 3:9 says... "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance."
Whatever the reason to NOT read and study prophecy, it's not a very good one. It's always right for people to seek to understand God's words, and in this case it is specifically spelled out as a blessing. God tells the future to show that only He is God, and then also to give comfort to believers. We believe that only when using a literal interpretation of the prophetic revelation can the believer really get comfort, because only then can the words even be understood, and the plan revealed. If the timeline of events of prophecy are to be taken spiritually and symbolically, there is no comfort, since the words lose their meanings, and any hope of coming to a real understanding is lost. Having said that, there is much symbolism in Daniel, Ezekiel, and Revelation, but it can be understood. We can understand the plan of God, and let God be God, and realize that not all of the particulars about each event has been revealed to us. (Daniel 12:8 "... My lord, what will be the outcome of these events?" And He said, "Go your way, Daniel, for these words are concealed and sealed up until the end time." Rev. 10:4 "And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, Seal up those things which the the seven thunders uttered, and write them not") While we can't know everything, we can know the big picture, many of the events, and much of the timeline of the events as they relate to each other. Some particulars of some events are still sealed from our understanding, but during the Endtimes, believers will have a better understanding, since they will see the book of Revelation unfolding before their eyes. Unbelievers will be blind to it all. We don't believe that we can know the dates of any future events, however, we do pay special attention to the signs that might indicate his coming is near.
The author is a member of a church in Frisco Texas called Stonebriar Community Church (outside of Dallas,) and contributors are members of various Evangelical churches. If you live in the Dallas area, please come and visit us. Chuck Swindoll is our Pastor, and hearing him preach is like hearing a virtuoso play a finely tuned instrument. (See web page for times) As mentioned, our goal is to offer in-depth training on Endtimes issues for anyone that cares to examine the information. We believe the positions and method of interpretation to be Biblically correct, and in line with those of the early church and the Evangelical movement started at the Reformation. During the Protestant Reformation, the truth of the Gospel was recovered. (Salvation by faith alone, as opposed to the Roman Catholic teaching of faith plus works) Our position on the rapture is that it happens before the tribulation, and before the Millennium. (pretribulation rapture), and Endtimes.org is therefore Premillennial in its positions. (These terms will be defined) Of course the timing of the rapture is not all there is to prophecy. It's only one event in all that will happen in the future, when ultimately, believers will reign with Christ with new resurrected bodies, and the world will be judged for rejecting Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
We will back up our positions with some convincing evidence for the pretribulation rapture, although I realize that people will have their own convincing evidence, and disagree. That's fine. The timing of the rapture is not a reason to cause division amongst Christians. I can't imagine Jesus telling His disciples not to have anything to do with another believer due to their belief on the timing of a future event. I hope you agree. I often wonder how people holding the posttribulation rapture position can say that those of us that believe in a pretrib rapture might be deceived by the antichrist in the future tribulation. We do know how to read, and if we see the new leader of the one world government sitting in the temple claiming to be God, (kind of hard to miss) I think it will be clear that there was no pretrib rapture. On the other hand, living in the age that we do, seeing Israel back in their land, as God promised he would do in Deuteronomy 30, and seeing the revived Roman Empire in place, (Daniel 2, 3 & 7) should make some Amillennialists and Postmillennialists rethink their allegorical method of interpretation towards Israel and prophecy. Of course some see no significance in the fact that Israel is back in their land as promised. I imagine that no one thought much of anything either when after 70 years in Babylon, the people of Israel returned to their land, as predicted in the book of Jeremiah. Prophecy is often disregarded by those living during the fulfillment. I guess it's easy to write-off one event as being coincidental. As we will see, we have more than one event coming true in our lifetime.
The study of the Endtimes doesn't mean much to a person that hasn't determined how to approach God, or what God wants of them. So, let's find out the answer to this first. Although some seem to disagree, the Bible is very clear about what God requires of us.
John 3:16 - "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."
Romans 10:9 - "That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved."
Ephesians 2:8-9 - "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; Not as a result of works, that no one should boast."
John 5:24 - "Truly truly I say to you, he who hears my word, and believes Him who sent me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life."
John 3:3 - "Jesus answered and said to him "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."
This seems very clear then that a person must be changed from their original condition to a new condition, by believing in Jesus Christ, and His work on the cross. (spiritually born again) The Bible teaches us that we are born in a condition that forces us to be separated from God, due to our sinful nature that we inherit from our race, through the first man, Adam. It's not just that we inherit a sin nature, but we practice sin in our lives. There is one thing that can put us back into a right relationship with God, but it is not something we can earn. All we can do is what God tells us to do, and that is to believe (have faith) in His Son Jesus Christ, and the work that He did on the cross. When I say "the work he did on the cross", I am NOT saying that a person has to study for five years first. I am only saying that it is important to understand the message of Jesus Christ, and what he accomplished for us. The message of the cross is part of the message of salvation, which is explained below.
This word 'believe' in context doesn't mean to acknowledge that something is true, but to put our trust in that truth. (and person in this case) For this reason, it must be a personal decision between you and God. He sent His Son Jesus into the world, that the world would be saved through Him. When we believe Him that He did send His Son, and ask Him to forgive us of our sins, He forgives us of all sins, past, present, and future. God doesn't forgive us because He is a 'nice guy', but because Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Messiah, died on the cross to pay the penalty for our wrong doing, and because this sacrifice satisfies God's holiness and justice.
In this act, Jesus paid the penalty for our sins by taking our place. In theological terms we call it a 'substitutionary death', meaning that someone dies in someone else's place, taking the penalty due us, and removing all guilt. Since He took our place, how senseless it is to think that we can add something to what He did. You might ask "What about being a good person?" The Bible answers this question. God wants you to be like Him, but you must first become part of His family by trusting in Him by believing in His son. Once part of the family, He will give you the strength and guidance needed to be like Jesus Christ, although we will still fail to be perfect in this lifetime. (God knows that) We must accept Him personally by faith. This is the only way that we can be guaranteed to be part of His family, and that the following verses could be true...
Romans 8:1 - "There is therefore no condemnation for those
who are in Christ Jesus, "
2 Corinthians 5:17 - "Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come"
These verses from the Bible clearly teach that when a person is saved, that person has been removed already from the earlier condition (lost), into the newer condition (saved.) The Bible also uses the terms 'light' and 'darkness'. There is therefore no way to go back into the darkness (eternally), since God's name is at stake, for if it were up to us, not a single one of us would make it. God must guarantee that He is a stronger than evil, or the evil one, and keep His children in safety when it comes to their eternal destiny. A true believer however, shows evidence of salvation by some kind of fruit in their life, however small in some cases. Where there is no evidence of a changed life, one should question whether there was true faith in Jesus Christ, and rethink the issues of salvation. The Bible brings this issue up many times. When a person receives Jesus Christ as their savior, He sends the Holy Spirit to live with them permanently, to guide them into truth. The Holy Spirit is also His seal on us, that we belong to Him.
Remember that Jesus himself is God, and always has been God. The doctrine of the trinity is a mystery, and very hard for us to understand, but the Bible makes it very clear that Jesus Himself claimed to be God. (See verses below) You can trust in Jesus, because He had the power to do everything that He said He would do, and He has the power now to present us before the throne of God, blameless, and without sin. He can do this, because He is God. His victory over sin was prophesied all the way back in Genesis chapter 3. Read and listen to the following verses of scripture:
Isaiah 9:6 - "For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom..."
John 10:17-18 - "For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father."
John 1:1 - "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God"
Philippians 2:5-8 - "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Colossians 1:15 - "And He is the Image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
Titus 2:11-13 - "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus"
Hebrews 1:3 - "God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high;..."
Hebrews 1:8 - "But of the Son He says, "Thy Throne, O God, is forever and ever..."
Isaiah 44:6 - "Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel And his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: 'I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me.'"
Revelation 1:8 - "I am the Alpha and Omega, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty"
Revelation 22:13 - "I am the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end" v16 - "I Jesus have sent my angel to testify to you these things for the churches..."
Exodus 3:13 - Then Moses said to God, "Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I shall say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you. Now they may say to me, What is His name? What shall I say to them?" 14 And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM"; and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.
John 8:58 - "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad." 57 The Jews therefore said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" 58 Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am." 59 Therefore they picked up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself, and went out of the temple.
Picking up stones meant that He had blasphemed. It was NOT blasphemy to state that he pre-existed. The Jews understood what He was saying. He claimed to be the "I AM" of Exodus 3. That was blasphemy, punishable by stoning.
Jesus Christ must be accepted for who He is. Anything less is to deny Him. The Old Testament claimed that He would be God. He himself claimed to be God. The New Testament writings claimed very clearly that He is God, by saying that Jesus Himself created the universe. Of course, being one with God it is also true that God the father created the universe. Only the mystery of the trinity can explain this.
Mark Esposito - Main contributor and designer of Endtimes.org web page, and member of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco Texas. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Les Fleetwood - B.A., Intercultural Studies (Briercrest Schools, Caronport, SK, Canada); Th.M., Master of Theology Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, TX - and Executive Pastor of Adult Life Ministries at Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas.
Jack Brooks - B.A. from Northeastern Bible College, M.A. from Columbia Biblical Seminary (SC), and Pastor of an Evangelical Free church in Kentucky. (email to email@example.com)