In terms of religious thought, I lived for most of my life outside of anything remotely mainstream. I became a Christian at age six and never read anything religious, except my Bible. Commentaries were verboten in my family and church, so I was never exposed to some of the unusual terminology that sprang up over the past two hundred years. Nor, was I directly influenced by any of the ‘great theologians’ that have shaped doctrine for the past few hundred years.
I had my Bible, and a family and church that were prone to vigorous debate over EVERYTHING. If you didn’t have chapter and verse for a thought or idea, you were shouted down. It meant that I really learned my Bible and was given enough of it to see how it hung together as a whole – the incredible tapestry of this gift of His word.
Now, a religious ‘hot house’ environment like this has its own perils, and there’s quite a bit that I’ve had to reevaluate over the past few years, in addition to a massive attitude problem. (When Paul speaks of having been a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee, I can truly say the same about myself, in spades.)
Worse, many of my beliefs and attitudes were an affront to God, and it is only because of His infinite graciousness and patience that He didn’t deal harshly with me for it. And, since God has been patient with me over so much, I feel strongly about being patient with others.
Even more, the doctrinal errors in my own past convince me that I should be slow to point out the doctrinal errors in others – especially if they are not foundational. In fact, my own errors of the past make me cognizant of my own fallibility.
But, there are moments in time where the consequences of saying nothing are so dire, you feel that you must do something to help get people that you care about out of harm’s way. So, what I am about to say, I say because I must – howbeit with extreme reluctance.
Elements of dispensationalism are wrong, and those errors will eventually lead to the death of millions of people and even great apostasy. (And, in fact, it already has.)
Am I saying that it’s heresy? No. Really, I don’t. In fact, there’s a lot about dispensationalism that I agree with. And, I am TREMENDOUSLY upset with many of the positions taken by people who criticize dispensationalism.
(Can you see that maybe I’m in a spot of trouble here?)
But seriously. You are not a heretic in my view, if you are a dispensationalist. In fact, this discussion would be somewhat irrelevant if it were not for the fact that we stand on the doorstep of events that will shake the world and cause the end of civilization as we know it.
What is Wrong With Dispensationalism?
The idea that history can be broken down into a series of ‘dispensations’, instead of… oh, laws or sections of the Bible… is immaterial. I fully expect to stand before the Lord when this life is over and be pleasantly shocked at what God was up to all this time. I’m even hoping that my understanding of Hell is wrong and that friends and family won’t suffer the terrible fate that they seem determined to find.
But, let me get back to my main point.
What’s wrong with dispensationalism?
For one thing, it diminishes the centrality of Christ’s sacrifice. Jesus died not just for those who came after, but He also died for all those who came before. Dispensationalism, the classic kind, essentially says that Christ died only for those who live during the Christian era. Those who lived before have their own ‘dispensation’ and must follow that.
That just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.
Now, I know what many of you are about to say. Yes, I do see that you agree that Christ died for all both past and present, and that He loves all equally.
So, why then do you believe that ANYONE would be required to fulfill the demonstrably impossible law of Moses?
Why would God replace something perfect with something impossible?
Why would God bring the sacrifices back, if Christ was sufficient?
Yes, yes, I know that there are sacrifices during the millenium, or at least offerings, and I don’t begin to understand all that. But, we’re talking about where we stand today, about salvation and about a perfect sacrifice in the form of our Lord Jesus.
Maybe I should put it to you this way: Why doesn’t God love all His people equally? Why would God replace the yoke of Christ with an impossible yoke of the law?
We have all of Paul’s writings that argue against this. Arguing for a return of the Mosaic law is senseless.
And, then there’s a second rapture?
That’s right, if you are a pre-tribber, you get a secret rapture that the Bible mentions NOWHERE and then a VISIBLE rapture when the Lord returns in glory.
Remember, here’s the verse on the Rapture:
1 Thessalonians 4:14-18
14For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
THAT is the resurrection AFTER the Tribulation. Where’s the verse that talks about the previous resurrection?
Don’t bother searching your Bible because it doesn’t exist. The Bible speaks of only two resurrections – the one at the end of the Great Tribulation and the one at the end of the Millenium.
Then there’s the point about persecution.
When you have the church raptured before the tribulation, you still have people left behind – people who will be ‘saved’ AFTER the rapture. You have to believe that because there is persecution of God’s people during the tribulation. At least some of those will be Jews.
If you believe that, you are saying that God loves the people who get saved before the tribulation more than those who get saved during the tribulation.
I mean, that’s why the pre-trib rapture, right? God loves us enough to take us out of the way of harm, right?
So, why do God’s people still suffer during The Great Tribulation?
No, no, please don’t tell me that they had rejected Christ, and now must suffer for that – even though they are eventually saved. Before we were saved, we ALL were in a state of rejection of Christ. That’s hair-splitting.
And before you advocate a position where God WANTED to rescue everyone, but just wasn’t able… please remember that it is God who determines when the Great Tribulation begins.
2 Thessalonians 2:7
7For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
Ask yourself this: did Christ love us as much before we were saved, as after? Since before the Creation of the Universe, even?
God loved us as much BEFORE we were saved as AFTER. And, He expressed that love by giving His only Son!
Coupling this idea with a pre-trib rapture should mean that no believers should experience The Great Tribulation, but that’s not what the Bible says.
In fact, a good dispensationalist should actually question how Christ-followers could suffer persecution of any kind?
Was there somehow something wrong with the millions of Christians who died under great tribulation over the past two millenia?
Was their tribulation any less than the tribulation that is to come?
Are the people who die in the Great Tribulation going to die in any worse way than those who lost their lives in say… Foxes Book of Martyrs?
Of course not. The difference between The Great Tribulation that’s coming and the lesser versions that have come in the past is intensity. And, someone called ‘the man of sin’. And, well… massive cataclysm…
And Then, There’s That Apostacy Thing I Mentioned
All that I’m saying is that when the Great Tribulation comes, and the Rapture doesn’t happen… how do you think some will react when someone comes along, passing himself off as the Messiah?
Yeah. Quite a few dispensationalists will be tempted to go over to ‘the dark side’.
Of course, God promised that His people, dispensationalists and non-dispensationalists alike, would not be fooled – in the end. Only those who are not truly God’s people will fail, and fall in with the Anti-Christ.
But, There IS a Way of Escape!
And, it doesn’t come through believing in what isn’t there.
God saves us from tribulation by warning us that it’s coming and giving us a way to escape it – a place of safety. God uses people like me, and others, to give you warning so that you have time to prepare – so that you DON’T have to suffer unnecessarily.
Yes, some of us will need to make choices about whether we will survive, or not. Pastors cannot abandon their flocks. Missionaries cannot stop their mission work. Those of us with jobs to do may have to choose to fall where we stand.
But, the rest of you have the luxury of escape, if you are willing to see it.
When the Babylonians came, God gave His people in Judah a way to escape and a prophet, Jeremiah, to tell them of it. Most chose not to listen and suffered for that choice. (By the way, I am NOT a prophet.)
You have a way of escape from what’s coming, if you choose to prepare now. And by all means, continue being a dispensationalist, just please prepare for what’s coming. Wake up and do the hard work that it will take to make you, your family, your community and your church safe for the times ahead.
I’m concerned, and I want y’all to make it through okay.
Articles on dispensationalism: