Soteriology 058: Q&A

Andy Woods

Soteriology 58 Q&A

May 14, 2017

We don’t have a handout for today and I’ll tell you why in just a second but first of all Happy Mother’s Day; if you have a mother can you raise your hand.  Okay.  Mothers are pretty important I think.  And I was going to start a new series of studies on the Protestant Reformation but then my thought was well, next week we’re having a congregational meeting so we’re not having a Sunday School next class so I thought it’d be kind of awkward to start a series and then not do it the following week, I thought that might lose some momentum and then I started to think that I’ve been saying over and over again, I’ll get to your questions at the end, I’ll get to your questions at the end,             don’t I keep saying that?  And then ten seconds to go I say let’s close in prayer, we don’t have time for questions.  So we’ve done 52 lessons in soteriology, we’ve gone through a test that took five weeks to go over and I kind of feel like I’ve shortchanged you in terms of the opportunity to answer questions.  So I think what I’ll do today is just open it up for questions.  If I was running a talk show I’d call this open lines Friday… it’s Sunday, I couldn’t think of a slogan for Sunday, send them in Sunday, I don’t know, something like that.  And to my knowledge we are still livestreaming this and recording it for video and audio purposes so when you ask a question I’ll try to listen very carefully and restate it for the benefit of people that may be listening online.

So if you have any questions that have not had a chance to get answered concerning soteriology we’ll open it up at this time and I know it’s always awkward to ask the first question so I brought in some of my own questions that people have e-mailed to me.  So as you’re formulating your questions let me read to you at least one question that I got online.

This is an important one.  It says: Dr. Woods, thank you for sharing in the prophecy watchers. (that’s a video that I did, an interview with Gary Stearman, it’s available online)   I’m looking forward to your next sharing of this topic, I do have some questions and I’m wondering if I can get help from you.  Okay, here we go, and Rose just walked in, Rose, I’m reading your question right now so don’t be panicked.

Is what Matthew 25:14-30 talks about similar to Luke 19:11-27?  Matthew 25:14-30 has the passage of casting out the useless servant into the outer darkness where there’s going to be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Luke 19:11-27 has the passage of the lazy slave who does not make profit out of the minas given to him by the noblemen, brought by the noblemen, to him to be slain at his presence.  Are both texts referring to the same message?  And here’s really the heart of it—is the weeping and gnashing of teeth… by the way,  you’re going to find the weeping and gnashing of teeth also in Matthew 13:4, is the weeping and gnashing of teeth the same as recorded in Matthew 25:30.  The weeping and gnashing of teeth is for unbelieving Jews, for general unbelievers or for carnal Christians.  See, that’s how that relates to Soteriology.  In Luke 19 the good and faithful slave prophets for the noblemen and he will be rewarded to have authority over ten or five cities.  Is this rewards at the millennial age or the beginning of the kingdom for overcoming Christians.

If you take a look, for example, at Matthew 25:30  you’ve got several parables Christ taught dealing with people when He comes back and some are rewarded and they go into the kingdom and they receive authority.  Others are assigned to weeping and gnashing of teeth.  So Matthew 25:30 says, “Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  So the question that’s asked is what is this?  Is this the Bema Seat Judgment?  And unfortunately the GES movement, the Grace Evangelical Society movement has kind of gone into this teaching and a lot of it comes from a book by Jody Dillow called The Reign of the Servant Kings; it’s about an 800 page book, actually it’s about a thousand page book, it looks like the GT phone book.  And then he expanded it, as if a thousand pages is not enough, he put another 400 or 500 pages into it and it’s now called Final Destiny.

And it’s an interesting book, there’s a lot of interesting things in it but there’s this teaching that he brings forth and this is the direction the GES movement is going in, Grace Evangelical Society, it’s the direction that Zane Hodges, one of the great exegetes of the Free Grace Movement, towards the end of his life started going this direction, and they began to take these parables that Christ gave here in Matthew 25, Luke 19, and they began to say the person that goes off into outer darkness or the person that goes off into weeping and gnashing of teeth is actually a believer who’s being dealt with aggressively by the Lord at the Bema Seat Judgment.  So they start interpreting these as carnal Christians.  And from that came this view called millennial exclusivism which is this idea that not all Christians are going to be in the millennium; some are going to be assigned to this sort of outer darkness during the thousand years.  And I like to call that kind of a Protestant purgatory, you know, for a lot of people.

So really the bottom line is they started to take these parables that Jesus gave and they started to apply those to the Bema Seat Judgment. So consequently a lot of Christians are right now afraid of the Bema Seat Judgment, they think it’s a time of retribution, they think it’s a time of punitive damages and they haven’t necessarily put all of these carnal Christians into hell but they’ve turned the Bema Seat Judgment into something into where you can actually be cut up because in Luke 19 it talks about a man being cut up.  And my wife and I were at a friend of ours in the Dallas area and Zane Hodges was there and my wife, who’s not afraid to ask questions, asked him point blank, is the man in Luke 19 a believer, that’s being cut up.  And I was there to hear his answer.  He said yes.  And Anne asked well, what’s this business about being cut up, can a believer be cut up.  And he said that’s actually the… he went over to Hebrews 4:12 where the Word of God is called a what?  A sword, and he tried to make this argument that it’s actually a believer being chastised by the Lord at the Bema Seat Judgment.

So what’s starting to happen is they’re turning, some of these folks they’re turning what I would call heaven into hell and they’re taking parables that Christ gave before the church even started and they’re trying to turn those into Bema Seat teachings.  See what’s going on here?  And that’s what this question gets to.

My very fast answer on this, and by the way if you want an in depth treatment on why this teaching is wrong my friend, Tom Stegall ad Duluth Bible Church wrote another book, and his book is like 800 pages, I don’t know how these guys have time to write these 1,000 page, 800 page books, but his book refuting this teaching, which is very good, is called Who’s Afraid of Outer Darkness.  Maybe I’ve got the title wrong, Should Christians Fear Outer Darkness and  you can find that on Amazon, Tom Stegall, refuting this teaching by Jody Dillow, Zane Hodges, The Grace Evangelical Society, etc. So the issue is, you know, you look at these parables that Jesus gave and He talks about people being cut up, He talks about people going into the weeping and gnashing of teeth, people going off into outer darkness and the question is: is this the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ.

And my answer to that this is not the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ, for one very simple reason: the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ is a doctrine unfolded by who?  The Apostle Paul and the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ, therefore, is a doctrine that pertains to the church.  See that.  Now when did the church start?  Acts 2, and God raised up the Apostle Paul to explain mystery realm doctrine to the church, and one of those doctrines that he unfolds is the doctrine of judgment/rewards, the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ.  So when Jesus uttered these parables here, and this is the key thing to understand, and let me back up for just a minute.

Another person that went heavily into this teaching is Chuck Missler, his wife, Nancy Missler wrote a book, and I can’t remember the name of the book but it’s got the word “kingdom” in it [The Kingdom Power & Glory] and  Chuck Missler endorsed the book and started to promote the book and these guys are all reading off the same script, it’s the same script that Joseph Dillow in The Reign of the Servant Kings was reading off of.  And it’s this idea that the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ is actually a time of terror.

I think that is an abuse of those parables because Jesus spoke these parables before the church existed. See that, and they largely concern a period of time after the church is gone.  And the church is a mystery, something unknown. So therefore I don’t think Jesus is referring to the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ when He talks about outer darkness and weeping and gnashing of teeth and people being cut up.  What He is talking about here is when He comes back at His Second Advent, after the tribulation is over and the rapture had happened more than seven years before, right, when Jesus Christ comes back He’s going to find two groups of Jews on the earth, those that are in faith and those that are in unbelief.  The ones that are in unbelief are sent into outer darkness, which is not the Bema Seat Judgment but is what?  It’s hell, so being cut up, weeping and gnashing of teeth, that is not a description of the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ; that’s a description of hell itself that unbelieving Jews will experience, not at the rapture, the rapture concerns the church, but at the Second Advent.  And believing Jews at that time will go into His earthly kingdom and be rewarded with different positions in that earthly kingdom.

So because these parables are written before the church existed and they deal with the period of time after the church is gone, I don’t think you can develop Bema Seat judgment teachings from these parables.  So that’s probably the main reason I disagree with what these teachers are doing with these parables and I basically come to the conclusion that I come to because of my dispensationalism.  He’s not dealing with church age truth here; He’s dealing with Jewish truth.  And He’s not talking about a judgment of rewards, he’s talking about heaven or hell for believing or unbelieving Jews at the end of the tribulation period.    So therefore at the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ, after the rapture, which concerns us, you don’t have to worry about outer darkness, you don’t have to worry about being excoriated by Christ.

There is only two verses that I can think of in which something negative can happen to you.  One of them is 1 Corinthians 3:15, so now I’m in Paul, right?  1 Corinthians, so this is where you get your Bema Seat Teaching, not from these pre-church age parables, you get it from Paul.  1 Corinthians 3:15,  you know the passage well, it says, “If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be” what? “saved, yet so as through fire.”  So there is a time period where the Lord doesn’t take us, and this is the problem with applying these parables to the Bema Seat because it’s actually these people being excoriated and being sent into outer darkness where there’s weeping and gnashing of teeth.

At the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ it’s not you that’s judged because your judgment has already been settled at the cross, right?  It’s your works that are tested, to test their quality, and if they’re fleshly works, wood, hay or stubble they’re dissolved in the fire.  If they’re things done with the right motives under the right power then they’re gold, silver, and costly stones and those remain and those are part of your reward above and beyond heaven.

So you’ll notice in Paul’s doctrine of the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ we are going to be judged but our works are going to be judged and the worst thing that could really happen is you spent your life as a Christian in the flesh and so consequently there’s a regret as you see your life being dissolved, not you being dissolved, not your place in heaven being dissolved but your works being dissolved because they were spent in fleshly pursuits in the church age.  So you look back and there’s regret and that’s why it says some during that judgment will suffer loss.

The only… it’s like, I don’t know, working on a paper that’s 40 pages and you get it all worked up and you get all your footnotes correct and then you accidently hit the delete button and you can’t retrieve it.  There’s regret there because of all the energy you spent on this paper and now it’s for nothing.  And this is why the doctrine of the carnal Christian is so important; there will be Christians at the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ who will get there and they’ll have sort of a regret that what they spent their life in really didn’t amount to much because it’s tried for what it is and it’s dissolved.  So that’s the loss of reward, it’s not you but your works go through a fire.  It’s probably the most severe thing that can happen to someone at the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ.

And then the only other verse I can think of where it’s something negative is over in 1 John 2:28, if you can turn there just for a minute, I John 2:28, which says, “Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in” what? “in shame at His coming.”  So some people at this Bema Seat Judgment of Christ will actually be ashamed; Christians will be ashamed.  Now “ashamed” there is in the middle voice and that’s very significant because it’s something you do to yourself; you look back on your life and you say what could have been, I mean, I’m in heaven and that’s wonderful but look at all the different ways the Lord could have blessed me, look at all the different ways the Lord could have used me, and you kind of look back at  your life and you… God doesn’t impose shame on you but you impose it on yourself.  So other than 1 John 2:28 and 1 Corinthians 3:15 those are the only verses I can think of for the Bema Seat that would engender sort of a negative response. I think generally it’s going to be a very happy time because many Christians will be in heaven and they’ll be rejoicing and then you’ll look back on your life and see how God used you and blessed you and you’ll be rewarded further.

So that’s why I like the title of Tom Seagull’s book, Who’s Afraid of Outer Darkness.  You know, the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ you really look forward to and not be afraid of.  It’s like an exam at school, if you’ve been diligent in studying when the test comes actually taking the test is a joy; it’s like a performance appraisal at work; if you’ve been diligent on the job when your performance appraisal comes it’s generally a joy.  The only people that are afraid of exams and afraid of performance tests are people that haven’t been faithful, people that haven’t been diligent and that’s why Paul warns us and tells the Corinthian Christians about this Bema Seat Judgment of Christ, He wants them to have a favorable ruling at the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ.  But it’s not a time of weeping and gnashing of teeth, it’s not a time where people are cast into outer darkness, and to take the pre-church age parables and apply them to the doctrine of the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ, to my mind, is an abuse of the Bible.  And this is basically what I would say is a dispensational call. I interpret it the way I interpret it because I believe some passages in the Bible concern Israel and some passages concern the church.  Does that make any sense, what I just said?  If you all need further clarity on it…

[Someone asks a question]  I’m repeating this for the benefit of people that are listening on line that couldn’t hear the question, but basically what she’s asking is, is there a judgment of rewards for Israel and also a judgment of rewards for the church, that’s basically what you asked, right?  One thing I’ll correct if I can do that, you said the Bema Seat is a time period for us to be judged; in reality there is no verse of Scripture that indicates we personally are judged because as  you pointed out the full penalty for our sins has been paid for by Jesus Christ; it’s a time period where our works are put through a fire.

So the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ, as Paul unfolds it, is a judgment only for the church.  It takes place in heaven after the rapture, I would think fairly close after the rapture as the tribulation period is occurring on the earth below.  And one of the things to understand to start to interpret the Bible correctly is God has separate programs for Israel and the church.  They’re not just separate people, they are separate programs.  Now this contradicts a lot of where people want to go today because they want to believe in a one-peoples of God theology.  But when you look at the details you start to see very quickly that Israel and the church are two separate trains on two separate railroad tracks.  So what He does for Israel is different than for the church; what He does for the church is different than for Israel.

So for example, Christ is coming back for us at the rapture, the church, but He’s coming back for Israel when?  At the end of the tribulation period.  So His program for returning is different for both.  So therefore Israel’s judgment is not to be confused with the church’s judgment.  In fact, I don’t even like that expression, “the church’s judgment” because the church has already had its judgment, called the cross of Jesus Christ.  So it’s a judgment of rewards in heaven for the church only.  That’s what Paul’s dealing with in 1 Corinthians 3.  It has nothing to do with what God is going to do with Israel.  He’s going to keep all of His promises to Israel but He’s working today differently through the age of the church.  Does that help at all.

So when you’re reading a verse of Scripture you want to ask yourself does this verse of Scripture relate to Israel or does it relate to the church.  And the problem with the direction that Dillow, Misler, and others, Zane Hodges, G.E.S. the problem with the direction they’re going in is they’re not distinguishing Israel and the church; they’re taking passages that relate to Israel’s judgment, unbelieving Jews, and making it sound like that’s some kind of church age teaching when in reality that teaching was given before the church ever existed.  So hopefully I’m helping a little bit on that. F Have you guys run into this teaching?  This punitive judgment at the Bema Seat type teaching.

[Someone asks a question]  Just for the benefit of people watching online his question is for a Jew in the present church age, if I’m understanding this right, does this concern, does his program concern Israel or the church, [someone says something] believing Jew, thank you.  A believing Jew, like Paul, in the present church age, is he part of Israel or the church?  And the answer is anybody that’s trusted in Christ from the day of Pentecost to the rapture is part of the church.  So they are, 1 Corinthians 12:13 baptized or identified with the body of Christ, whether, as Paul says Jew or Greek, free or slaves.  [1 Corinthians 12:13, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.”]
So they are part of the church age and God is dealing with them on that basis.

Very quickly you might want to just turn over to Galatians 3:28 as Paul describes the church age.  He says, “There is neither” what? “Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  So nationality, whether you’re Jew or Gentile makes you a part of the body of Christ or the church age and God deals with you on that basis.  If you go over to Ephesians 2:14 Paul writes there, “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups” that’s Jew and Gentile, “into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall.”  So if the Gentiles are in a majority throughout the church age but there are some Jews that get saved, Paul being one, so if they are a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ from the day of Pentecost to the rapture they’re part of the church age.  Does that help.  Okay.

[Someone asks a question] So if a Jew gets saved are their promises earthly rather than heavenly, are they heavenly rather than earthly, and if you look at Revelation 5:10, I think we need to be careful about saying that the church’s programs are totally heavenly because Revelation 5:10, I think in context is dealing with the church.  It says, “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign” where? “upon the earth.”  So we, you know, are very much involved in this coming earthly kingdom.  In fact, we’re going to be given places of authority in this earthly kingdom.  In fact, Paul says, over in 1 Corinthians 6:3, don’t you know how to work out your disputes amongst yourselves given the fact that we will judge angels one day, things like that.  [1 Corinthians 6:3, “Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?”]

So we’re told we’re part of Israel’s kingdom that’s coming and we have a very special place in it so we’re not totally separate; there’s always a little bit of blending back and forth.  But at the same time God is dealing with the church differently than He’s dealing with Israel.  One of the key differences is Israel is going through the tribulation period and we’re not.  So there’s always a little bit of blending.  And you know, people get upset at this doctrine but can’t a talented author weave together several sub themes and bring it all to a wonderful conclusion.  And that’s basically what God is doing with Israel and the church.  I mean, they’re different programs, they’re different sub themes but they’re all going to be weaved together somehow in the providence of God into one final solution.  And my answer to people that want to push us all together and blend us all together is can’t we have a little variety.  I mean, God is a God of diversity, isn’t He?  I mean… we have male and female, we have God’s program for the angels, good angels, the fallen angels.  So God is dealing with different groups different ways but somehow in some way it all kind of comes together into one compelling conclusion, which is His glory.  Hopefully I helped a little bit on that.

[Someone asks a question] His question is in Matthew 25, I can’t remember where it starts, verse 31 and goes through 46, the sheep and goat judgment, what judgment is that?  That’s called the sheep and goat judgment, and the dead giveaway is in Matthew 25:31, you might want to take a look at that for just a second.  Matthew 25:31, which says… this is at the end of the tribulation, right, it’s in the Olivet Discourse, it says, “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.”  So which throne is that?  David’s throne on the earth after the tribulation period has transpired,  you get a description of the tribulation period in Matthew 24 and Matthew 25.  So He comes back to the earth and there’s people on the earth because some people survive the tribulation, right?  Now He’s got to figure out which ones are believers that go into the kingdom and which ones are unbelievers.  So the “sheep” are on His right, notice that the sheep are always on the right in the Bible, just thought I’d toss that in, and the goats are always on the what?  The left.  Anyway, I don’t want to go too far with that.

But the sheep are believers and they go into the kingdom; the goats are unbelievers and they go off into Hades and He evaluates, makes the determination based on how they treated Christ’s what?  Brethren.  Now who are His brothers?  The Jews.  So in the tribulation period itself that’s why He says you visited me in prison, you clothed me.  So in the tribulation period itself you demonstrate that you are truly a believer in Christ by trying to help the Jewish people who are being oppressed by the antichrist.  It’s kind of like with Adolf Hitler in World War II, you know people that love Christ many times were the ones that wanted to help the Jewish people.  So that’s how the determination is made; if you’re a believer you’re a sheep because you help the Jewish people in the tribulation period and you go into the kingdom.  If you’re a goat you’re an unbeliever because you didn’t help the Jewish people in the tribulation period, you didn’t demonstrate your faith by your works and so you go off into Hades.  That’s the whole context of this.

And a lot of people use this today to say man, we’ve got to get out there and help the poor, which I’m in favor of because it says we’ve got to help Christ’s brethren.  The reality of the situation is this judgment has nothing to do with helping the poor of today, not that we shouldn’t do that.  It’s got nothing to do with the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ.  If you just put it in its context it’s the judgment of the nations that survive the tribulation period, some survive and Jesus is making the determination which of you all are believers, which of you all are unbelievers based on your assistance of the Jewish people.  Believers are sheep, they go into the kingdom; unbelievers are goats, they are immediately sent off the earth into Hades.

But the first part of your question dealt with this punitive damages at the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ, where does this come from?  Does it come from a mentality that we have to sort of pay off some of our sin debt, and a lot of this mentality you’ll find in the doctrine of partial rapture.  You guys have heard of partial rapturism.  Partial rapturism is he idea that when the rapture happens He is not coming back for the whole body of Christ; He is only coming back for the believers that are submitted to the Lordship of Christ.  And so some of the church will go into the tribulation, some of it will not.  And so this same mindset gets into the teachings of the Bema Seat, that the Bema Seat Judgment is actually a time of terror for people.  The reality of the situation is your participation in the rapture, should it occur in our lifetime….

By the way, you’re going to participate in the rapture one way or the other, right?  You’re either going to be caught up or if you die before the rapture you’re going to be what?  brought down, because there’s going to be a reunion in the sky between the two groups.  So one way or the other we’re going to participate in it but the reality of the situation is your participation in the rapture is part of the grace package God has given to you.    And you can be living for Christ at the moment of the rapture and you’ll be taken, and you can be in a state of carnality, Paul even talks about it in 1 Thessalonians 5, whether asleep or awake, and you’ll still be taken in the rapture because the rapture isn’t something that’s gained through human effort, it’s part of the grace package God has given you.  And nothing could be clearer on this than the book of 1 Corinthians.  Ray Stedman called 1 Corinthians 1 Californians because you’ve got a bunch of saints who are living like what? living like aint’s, they’re not living according to their identity.

There’s very little doubt that these folks are saved they’re called saints at the beginning of the book.  And then Paul gets to the subject of the rapture, after rebuking them for all of their sins, and what does he say in 1 Corinthians 15:51? “Behold, I tell you a mystery, we will what?  “We all shall not sleep, but we shall” what?  “all” he uses “all” twice, “all be changed.”  Now this is after confronting these people for divisions, chapters 1-3, incest, chapter 5, law suits amongst believers, chapter 6, visiting temple prostitutes, chapter 6, rampant divorce and remarriage, chapter  7, the stronger brother flaunting his freedom in the presence of the weaker brother, chapters 8-10, being drunk at the Lord’s table, how much worse can it get, chapter 11, abusing spiritual gifts by putting people that talk in tongues on a pedestal with no interpreter, and then second guessing the doctrine of the resurrection.  You can’t a group of people that are more out of fellowship with Christ, can you.  How would you like to be the pastor of this crowd?

And yet all the way through the book Paul never says I don’t think you guys are Christians.  What he says is you’re going to lose at the Bema Seat Judgment.  That’s why he unfolds the doctrine of the Bema Seat Judgment to these people.  And then he says to this same group, “we will all be changed.”  So your participation in the rapture is part of the grace package to you.  It’s not based on how you’re living at the point of the rapture.  But people get confused on this and they want to build sort of a Protestant purgatory doctrine so they say well, only the really sanctified Christians will go up in the rapture, the others will be left behind.  Or they take that same doctrine and they turn the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ into some terrifying experience and in the process they turn heaven into hell.  So I hope that helps a little bit.   Any other questions, comments?

The question is what is the partial rapture idea based on.  It goes back at least a hundred years to the writings of an individual, I think his last name was Lane, if I’m not mistaken, and it’s basically based on teachings that say you need to be waiting and watching for the return of Christ or you’re going to go off into outer darkness where there’s going to be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  It’s the same set of tests people use to develop the doctrine of punitive damages at the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ.  And it’s a dispensational misapplication of the Bible; they’re taking pre church age parables and turning that into something for the church age.

There’s other verses that tell us that we ought to be watching for Christ, which is good, so from that they infer that if you’re not watching for Christ then you’re not going to go in the rapture and I’m here to tell you that if you’re “in Christ,” if you’re a believer in Christ you can be in a moment of carnality and still be taken in the rapture because the rapture is the grace package God has given you.  Grace means what?  Unmerited favor, favor you don’t deserve.  So that’s the whole point of grace, right.

His question is does the partial rapture doctrine come from misinterpretations of the letters in Revelation 2 and 3 and you’re right, some people will interpret the overcomers, because it keeps saying “to him who overcomes,” as the winner Christians.  So it’s sort of this idea that it’s only the “winner Christians” that are going to receive these blessings and participate in the rapture when in reality if you just let John define what an overcomer is, if you go back to John’s other book, 1 John 5:4-5 you’ll see that the overcomer is the believer in Christ.  [1 John 5:4-5, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.  [5] Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”]

So we are all overcomers in Christ already positionally because when we die we’re going where?  To heaven.  So you’re right, a lot of the teachings about partial rapture come from a misunderstanding of who the overcomers are in Revelation 2 and 3.

His question is on Revelation 3:10 and the partial rapture, it says, “Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”  And again, this is a very good question because there’s a lot of misunderstandings about verse 10, it makes it look like  you’ve got to do something, keep the word of His perseverance so you can avoid the hour of testing.  I would recommend to you the… now here I’m going to say something good about Zane Hodges, the scholarly article..  let’s subtract that, not Zane Hodges but John Niemela, a very good Greek scholar, and he argues that the sentence in verse 10 should actually end with “perseverance.”  In other words, after perseverance there should be a period and not a comma.  And in fact you can take that first part of verse 10 and actually make it part of the thought of verse 9.  And he demonstrates grammatically why he thinks this is the case given John’s other usages of this same expression.

So really the sentence should read as follows, verse 9: “I will cause the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not but lie, I will keep them” or “I will make them come and bow down at Your feet and make them know that I have loved you,” now there’s not supposed to be a period there because in the original Greek you don’t have periods or commas, and Niemela is arguing that the sentence should continue on, “because you have kept the word of my perseverance.”  That’s where you end verse 9.  And then verse 10 simply says, it’s just a promise, it’s not conditional at all, “I will also keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the earth and the world to test those who dwell on the earth.”  You say what is going on here, the pastor is rewriting the Bible.  The article by John Niemela is very compelling grammatically and exegetically that the first part of verse 10 should really go with verse 9 and there should be a period in your English translation after the word “perseverance.”  And if you buy into what Niemela is saying here, he makes a very good argument, then when Jesus says, “I will also keep you from the hour of testing” that is coming upon the whole world He’s not making a conditional promise at all.

So I would encourage folks to read the article by John Niemela if you’re interested in that subject and also Dennis Rokser does a summary of it in his newsletter called Grace for the Race, which I’ve signed up for and so I get that monthly, and he’s the really the first person that brought this scholarly article, John Niemela, to my attention. So Rokser’s summary of it is in Grace For the Race and then John Niemela gives the exegetical arguments as to why the period should really be after perseverance, “And I will also keep you from the hour of testing” should be a whole new thought.

So therefore the rapture is not conditional at all on my performance.  So it’s something to think about, hopefully that helps a little bit.

Any other comments or questions.  I was afraid this might happen so I brought some of my own.  Here is another question that came in online: Dr. Woods, I just listened to your interview on Stand up For the Truth, your sharing clarified some of my misunderstandings.  Thank you for that but I still have a question about the woman in Revelation 12, their collectively the chosen people of Israel would flee into the wilderness and God would take care of her for three and a half  years after Jesus was raptured.  Does this talk about the Tribulation period when in 32 A.D. Jesus was crucified and resurrected and rose up to the heavens.  He has been resurrected for almost 2,000 years.  How do we justify the three and a half years in Revelation 12.

So let’s take a look just for a minute in Revelation 12:1-5.  It says, “A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; [2] and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.”  Now who is this woman clothed with the sun and the moon and the twelve stars?  It’s the nation of Israel and you can connect this with Genesis 37:9-10 where Joseph, as a 17 year old had a dream and he saw the sun and the moon and the eleven stars, Joseph being the twelfth star, bowing down to him and it’s a reference to his promotion in the land of Egypt to second in command by age 30.  And it goes on and it says, [3] Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon” now who’s the dragon?  Satan.  You drop down to verse 9 and Satan is identified as the dragon.  Also in Revelation 20:2.  [Revelation 12:9, “And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”  Revelation 20:2, “And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years;”]

[Revelation 12:2] “ and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth.  [3] Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. [4] And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.  [5] And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.”  Who do you think the child is?  Jesus, and He’s identified here as the one who will rule the nations with a rod of iron.  That comes right out of Psalm 2.

And He “was caught up to God and to His throne.…” when did that happen?  That’s Acts 2, that’s the ascension.  So these clues are given to identify who this Son is; it’s Jesus Christ.  And what is being spoken of here is the angelic conflict that took place as Jesus was born into our world.  Remember Herod was trying to kill all of the children in the Bethlehem area. Well, we know what was motivating Herod.  Who was motivating Herod?  Satan!  So it’s the angelic conflict that took place in the heavenlies to prevent Jesus from being born. So these are all talking about things that have happened in the past.

But when you go to verse 6 it says, “Then the woman”  now who’s the woman?  Israel, “fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days.”  How long is one thousand two hundred and sixty days?  That’s three and a half years and that’s the second half of the tribulation period.

So this is a picture, really prophetically, about the nation of Israel being persecuted by Satan in the second half of the tribulation period and how God protects Israel during that time period.  So in between really verse 5 and verse 6 is a gap of about two thousand years.  This is actually normal in Bible prophecy.  It’s very common for the Holy Spirit to present two events in a back to back fashion without mentioning the vast time period between the two events.

You might remember Isaiah 9:6, “Unto us a child is born, a son is given,” is that the first coming or second coming?  The first coming.  Then it goes on and it says, “And the government will rest upon His shoulders,” of the increase of peace and righteousness there will be no end.”  Is that the first coming or the second coming?  The second coming, so the Holy Spirit just put two prophecies in a back to back fashion without mentioning the valley between the prophecies.  [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.  [7] There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, To establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness From then on and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this.”]

And that’s really what’s going on here in Revelation 12.  He’s giving information about Christ in the past to identify who He is; we need to identify who these signs are, we know these are signs because verse 1 says “a great sign appeared in heaven.”  So it’s dialing back into the past just for purposes of identification.  That’s why it makes reference to His birth, it makes references to His ascension, but then as is very common in prophecy it flashes forward into the future and we know what future time it’s dealing with—the second half of Daniel’s week, the second half of the tribulation period when the nation of Israel is going to be under great distress and persecution.

So the question that’s being asked here is why does this refer to the future when it’s talking about things yet past, the ascension and so forth?  And my argument is he is going back into the past only to identify who these figures are.  But then as is very common in prophecy he leaps forward into the distant future and now that we have the basis for identifying these various characters he’s using that knowledge to describe a future event.  Does that help?

Any other questions?  [can’t hear question]  She’s wanting a comment on Revelation 3:16.  I assume you want me to comment on that because it looks like they can lose their salvation.  Does Revelation 3:16 teach that a believer can lose their salvation.  He says over in Revelation 316, “’So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.”  So my take on that is it’s not a statement you can lose your salvation; it’s a statement of the nauseous feeling that Christ experiences when He looks at the church in this condition because He basically says I wish you were hot or I wish you were cold because you can do something with hot water, you can do your laundry or wash dishes or a number of things, and you can do something with cool water, you can quench thirst, but what can  you really do with lukewarm water.  It’s not good for anything, it’s sort of like the salt that Jesus talked about in the Sermon on the Mount, when salt loses It’s saltiness, it’s not good for anything.

So when the church reaches that condition he’s not saying you’re going to lose your salvation. What He says is when I look at  your life I want to throw up.  In other words, My looking at your spiritual condition makes me nauseous, and we know that they’re not going to lose their salvation because if you look at verse 19, He says, “Those whom I love, I reprove and” what?  What does verse 19 say, “Those whom I love, I reprove and” what? “discipline” so they are candidates for divine discipline. Divine discipline is a mark of God’s ownership over us, “Whom the Lord loves the Lord disciplines” or chastens, I’ve never disciplined the neighbor’s kids, although I’ve thought about it a couple of times.  But you discipline  your own kids.

So the whole subject matter here is not loss of salvation, it’s they’re candidates of divine discipline and it’s not a statement you can lose your salvation, it’s this idea that the Lord is nauseous when He looks at His church in this condition, which makes them ripe, not for disownership but for discipline.  It’s not a statement you can lose your salvation; it’s this idea that the Lord is nauseous when He looks at His church in this condition, which makes them right, not for disownership but discipline.  So if you connect verse 16 to verse 19 I think  you’ll see that.  Any other questions.

Let me just close with this one.  If the Jews would have accepted Jesus as their Messiah He would have set up the kingdom at His first coming as I understand you.  What about the cross and Isaiah 53?  Isn’t that the same argument you make against those who think the reoffer of the kingdom is in the book of Acts.  You say that since Israel is already doomed, the tribulation period, Matthew 22-25, they can’t have another chance in the book of Acts, and since the Old Testament predicts the national rejection of the cross then the offer of the kingdom in the Gospels can’t be genuine either, can it?

So this has a couple of questions and this really gets to the Wednesday night teaching.  A lot of people teach that the kingdom is reoffered in the book of Acts to Israel, just like it was offered to Israel in the Gospels.  And in one of our lessons I gave ten reasons why I don’t think that’s the case.  The expression, “repent for the kingdom of God” which is so prominent early in the Gospels, you don’t find that expression in the book of Acts.  So the kingdom is not being reoffered to Israel in the Book of Acts.  What is being offered is the gospel, the gospel of personal salvation so as to be saved.

And the second part of this question is if Israel had accepted the offer of the kingdom in the gospels and the kingdom had been set up then what do you do with all of the prophecies about the cross?  And the answer to that basically is God always knew Israel would not accept the offer.  He knew it would be rejected.  The offer was still legitimate, the offer was still genuine but He always knew that this offer would be turned down and that the prophecies of Isaiah 53 would be fulfilled. So even though it was predetermined that the Messiah would be cut off, He would be crucified and inherit nothing, that doesn’t change the fact that the offer of the kingdom was still legitimate; it’s just God knew what the result would be.

I don’t know how much more we want to get into that.  People will often times ask well, what if Israel had accepted the kingdom?  What would have happened then?  That’s kind of like asking what if Eve and Adam and never sinned in Eden?  What would have happened then?  What would have happened to the prophecies of the Messiah being slain from the foundation of the earth?  It’s a hypothetical question that I don’t really know if I can answer but I just know that the offer was real, the offer was legitimate,  but God knew what the outcome would be.

Dwight Pentecost and Arnold Fruchtenbaum have this view that even if the Jews had enthroned Christ the Romans still would have come and killed Christ and thus fulfilled Isaiah 53.  That’s their attempt to resolve this controversy.  My answer is I really don’t know, it’s a hypothetical question, I don’t know if I can answer.  I just know that the offer was real, that’s the way it reads in the Gospels and God knew what the result would be.  And just because God knew what the result would be didn’t mean that the offer was not legitimate back in the first century.  So I hope that helps a little bit on a difficult question.

Anyway, I hope you found this a little bit instructive; a little different way of doing things and next week is our church wide meeting so we won’t be meeting, so the following Sunday we’ll start the study on the Protestant Reformation.  So the soteriology series is permanently over at this point, I know I’ve said that for about three months but this time we really mean it and let’s pray.

Father, we’re thankful for Your Word, we’re thankful for people that are hungry for it and we’re thankful for their questions and we just ask that You use these times to illuminate Your truth to us and help us to get a better understanding of things. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory.  We ask these things in Jesus’ name and God’s people said…. Amen.