Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Shall We Trust the Specific Word of God, Or Man's Interpretation?

The following is a repost of an article that appeared on the "Hearken the Watchmen" web site, of which permission has been granted.
This article is part of a special series dealing with the issue of the Rapture by author Joe Ortiz. This series argues against the “pretribulation Rapture of the Church in the Last Days.

     The Rapture debate will continue regardless of what we may believe, as it has for decades. We can only hope that our contribution to the dialogue will help to inform those whose interest lay in the topic and/or hopefully can allay the fears of those who suffer much anxiety in regards to the times we are experiencing. Many believe the return of Jesus Christ is imminent, based primarily on the ever increasing apocalyptic notions that permeate our highly advanced technological messenger-modus operandi.
     One thing is certain, who ever chooses to submit their views on the matter, needs to insure their polemic is as accurate as possible to the original intent of God’s word, or they shall find themselves going against it.
     First and foremost, we have been commanded not to add to the word of God, (Deuteronomy 4:2). While we have been given direct access to God’s word, as is stated in Proverbs 30:5, that every jot and tittle is pure, many fail to render the true meaning of many of His words as we proved in our last column concerning the true meaning of the word “left” in Luke 17:34-36. There we learned the word “left” in those verses actually means to forgive rather than to abandon to suffer God’s wrath. But, as we have seen in the works of many self-proclaimed prophets throughout the centuries (but more so in these latter days), Ecclesiastes 5:7 tells us that behind their prophesies, visions, dreams and many words lay diverse vanities. Sadly, in this day and age where many profess to be prophets of God (claiming they can see Bible predictions of famine, pestilence, earthquakes, and wars unfolding by virtue of CNN reports), we can see that that the true famine is in hearing the true words of God, as we read the prediction that was made by the prophet in Amos 8:11 being more profoundly fulfilled than ever before. 
    Moreover (as I explained in depth the major difference in the meaning between ‘prophecy’ and ‘predictions’ on my blog dated December 28, 2009), much of the religious rhetoric we see in the eschatological marketplace has caused great confusion for those who seek to understand the true intent of God’s word.
     We have been warned by God “not to hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, (Deuteronomy13:3). God tells us the consequences that ‘false’ prophets will experience for altering His word in Deuteronomy18:20. We are also told in Deuteronomy 21:5 that by His word, all of our “controversies” will be tried.
     As concerns the Rapture to Heaven doctrine, let me state that God’s word clearly does not provide any succinct scripture to validate this theory. Many eschatologists (especially in the last 180 years, or so) have promoted this escape from tribulation to Heaven doctrine by claiming that much scripture proves this theory; however, most of the verses theorists use are primarily based on assumption, conjecture or inference, while much scripture blatantly states otherwise. For example, who can objectively deny the veracity of the following verses? Speaking about Jesus’ present location, we read from the author of the book of Acts that while Jesus will eventually return, we are told that, heaven must receive (Jesus) until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. Acts 3:18-21. Obviously, if the Rapture to Heaven is to occur seven years before the 2nd Advent, the restitution of all things is far from being accomplished. Secondly we hear this most specific prayer to God from Jesus Himself, that His disciples not be Raptured to Heaven, but clearly and specifically He makes the opposite plea to the Father hours before His crucifixion, as He states, My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one, (John17:9-15).
     Many well-intentioned eschatologists are genuinely convinced their polemic is correct; however the Apostle Paul also claims that some of them have a hidden agenda. He warns us that many actually practice deceit, but like Paul, we 2have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God, (2 Corinthians 4:1-6).
     I prefaced the above remarks to set the introduction of the portion of my book that I have attached today, which I hope will provide you with a better understanding concerning the doctrinal camp I abide by, which is none other than the word of God, which I believe speaks for itself. The prevailing doctrinal perspectives are examined and are included in the Prologue of my first book, The End Times Passover, of which the subtitle of this book reads: Etymological Challenges to Millenarian Doctrines.
     In essence, in the Prologue, which was written after I completed my original manuscript, I address from the outset an issue which I face daily. Which is, while many claim they view my polemic as emanating from specific doctrines such as Premillenialism, Futurism, Preterits, Amillennialism, Postmillennialism, Pre, Mid, or Post Tribulationalism, or even Pre-Wrath, I will not be marginalized (nor adhere) to belonging to any doctrinal camp whatsoever. While each of the doctrines of the many eschatologists whose material I examined deeply contains much truth, my perspective comes from no loyalty to any specific doctrinal camp other than the explicit word of God as can best be discerned.
     At the beginning of my walk with Christ (which began on January 5, 1975), until about 1983, I was an adamant supporter of the Pre-Tribulation to Heaven theory. Although I was born and raised in the Catholic Church, I stopped attending at age thirteen. Twenty years later I accepted Jesus Christ and began attending an Assemblies of God church in Montebello, California. The majority of my Bible studies training came mostly from Pentecostal preachers and teachers who, for the most part, adamantly believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture to Heaven doctrine. However, after reading and studying a myriad of books on eschatological matters, and comparing their content with God’s word(s), I’m sad to say that the majority of them did not present a consistent polemic that could substantiate a discernible pattern and fluidity to build a logical understanding to the message that God intended for His creation. While many of these books presented clear and concise scripture to build on a specific doctrine at the outset, further on the authors boxed themselves into a corner, forcing them to present unsustainable scripture to prove their point, which upon closer scrutiny was not consistent with the precise meaning of the verses they quoted. Once again, like the example we presented concerning the true meaning of the word left in Luke 17:34-36, many of the author’s unclear interpretation of certain words forced the reader down the wrong path and away from the direction that scripture was unveiling when they began their dissertation.
     Basically, whenever these authors made a specific comment, statement or arrived at a specific conclusion, and cited a scripture verse to validate their claim, I went to the Bible to examine the verses they used to ascertain if their proclamation was accurate. For example, Hal Lindsey, the author of the book, The Late Great Planet Earth (recognized as the preeminent author on the Rapture doctrine) made many references throughout his book that the church is a mystery which has been hidden from all ages past. Lindsey used Ephesians 3:10 and 11 as proof that “God is teaching the angels His manifold wisdom through the body of Christ, and that is in accordance with the purpose of the ages, which is made possible through Jesus our Lord. Upon closer examination of that group of verses, they plainly reveal that through the church the mystery hidden throughout the ages is the manifold wisdom of God which should be made known to the rulers and authorities by the church. Some people may not consider this aspect as important nor relevant to Lindsey’s Rapture polemic; however, millions of Christians who have read that book believe that statement and have passed it along to others who didn’t (nor would spend the time to) verify if Lindsey’s statement was accurate. It is blatant statements and claims such as these that have compounded error upon error distorting the word of God and thereby causing a greater degree of confusion to those who earnestly seek God’s truth.
     As the reader will see after they read the prologue to my book, they will also understand the study approach I used to glean the information presented in both of my books. They will hopefully recognize that I tried most adamantly to remain neutral to most and any of the existing doctrines that are being promoted, and tried to view the material presented by many of the authors in an objective manner.
     As the attached prologue will reveal, I removed any previous doctrinal precepts I was exposed to during the first ten years of my journey with Christ, and allowed myself no other doctrine to influence my research other than trusting solely and exactly what God’s word (as originally written in the original manuscript) revealed. I then compared that exact word and meaning with how it was used in other verses, to gain a more clear and precise understanding as to what each word clearly meant.
     As the reader will see and soon realize, the myriad of doctrinal battles that exist today are based more so on hearsay, culture, tradition and the denominational subjectivism that has ensued for several hundred years in their respective churches. Rather than allowing God’s specific words to define their actual meaning, we have allowed our congregational loyalty to dictate what God is telling His children, rather than listening to God Himself. Click on The End Times Passover Prologue to read today’s attachment.
Joe Ortiz has the distinction of being the first Mexican American in US history to conduct a talk show on an English-language, commercial radio station. He began his broadcasting career in 1971 at KABC TALK RADIO 790 AM in the highly competitive Los Angeles media market. He went on to become an award-winning broadcaster, news reporter and newspaper columnist in Los Angeles for over 20 years. Joe writes regularly on his two blogs The End Times Passover and Why Christians Will Suffer Great 


Anonymous said...

Amen to you, Brother Ortiz. Following the Word of God instead of leaning on the thoughts and opinions of man is truly the correct and right thing to do, and I for one am glad that you have been resting on the Bible for your beliefs which you express on your blogs with clarity and love. May you be given many more years with which to serve the Lord, is my prayer. God reward you much! Jerry

Anonymous said...

Amen to Jerry's Amen. Joe Ortiz has a way with words - the words of the Living God. In this sinful day and age, what God says to us in his Holy Word is far more important than anything anyone of us could say or even think! More power to you, Joe.
Your Sis in Him, Evangelina