2011 GREENBEAN BLOG REVIEW #1: RAPTURE MANIA

Today I finish the review of the top 5 viewed posts from the past year with this one about loons.  Some of you may remember back in the Spring there was a dust up with a group of people claiming the ‘rapture’ would occur the coming weekend.  This is the blog I wrote then.  Turns out, I was right.  This blog has relevance now too, though.  Let me reassure everyone the world will not end on Dec. 21 2012.  There is no way the ancient Mayans figured out something that Jesus didn’t even know, okay people.  If you are a follower of Christ, relax and stop messing around with these crazies. 

SIX REASONS WHY THE RAPTURE WILL NOT BE THIS WEEKEND

In light of recent headlines, I think it is time for Pastor Greenbean to bring some calm reassurance to the people of the world.  There will be no so-called “rapture” this Saturday.  In case you’d like to bet me on that, you should know I’m going all in:  house, cars, bank accounts, library and stunning wardrobe.

Apparently some loon radio station guy is predicting  that the rapture will happen on Saturday.  Let’s put aside what I consider the questionable theology of “rapture” and just examine the logic of the claim from a foundational biblical perspective.  Jesus himself admits in the gospels that he doesn’t know much about the times and dates of the end.  If Jesus doesn’t know, I’m pretty sure the radio doesn’t either.  Taking logic to the next level it would seem these loons are more influenced by current pagan/heathen/media driven 2012 doomsday predictions rather than anything biblical.  Not to mention (oops, I guess I am mentioning it) history is replete with groups that have been wrong, including Camping himself.  A little research indicates that this man is false teacher.

The way I understand it this group of loons are saying the corollary event, the end of the world, is occurring this October.  Now, unless there are using “end of the world” as a metaphor for a prediction that the Chicago Cubs will win the World Series in October then their timeline is terribly incorrect.  If you believe in a “rapture” (let the reader understand) then the end of the world will take at least 3.5 years to happen, not 5 months.  So these loons at the radio station are terrible theologians and bad mathematicians to boot.  They should never be trusted by anyone ever again.

As an aside, I wish the media would stop calling this guy a Bible expert.  He is not.  He is a loon.  I can only imagine how the early church fathers would have dealt with him.  Can you see it now—Augustine’s “Contra Camping” or Athanasius “Camping est Hominen Stupidem.”  I am so sure the first thing they would have done would be to anathematize him!

Rest assured, the world will not end in October of this year or 2012.  Predicting it almost guarantees it will not happen.  Read your Bible people!

In addition to these sound reasons, I have at least six other personal reasons why I am rather convinced the “rapture” will not occur this Saturday.

1.  By Saturday I’ve ironed out all the kinks in Sunday’s upcoming sermon.  It would be just cruel to have worked so hard to get it ready and then not get to preach it.  Plus, this weeks sermon is awesome!

2.  I’ve got a great vacation planned this summer.  It would be nice if God would wait until maybe the bills come in from my great vacation.

3.  My new study the church built for me last year is barely broken in.  It would be just cruel to vacate it now.

4.  This loon said the same thing in 1994.

5.  The New Harry Potter movie hasn’t come out yet and my girls would be very upset if they didn’t get to see how it plays on the big screen.

6.  This idea came out of California. California!

ADVENT WEEK 3: MATTHEW 24:15-25:46

This third week of translation were heavy on the parable side.  Earlier in the Olivet Discourse Jesus was rattling off statements, but now he turns toward parables or ways in which the end of the world will be like familiar things–seasons, weddings, and shepherding.  The reader must take care to recognize these are ‘likenesses’ and not ‘exactnesses’ of the way it will be at the end.

I have made some commentary on either the text or content.  These are found in bracket and italicized.  Note, the first reading on Matthew 24:15-31 has a parenthesis, but that is from the translation where Matthew reminds the reader that he should study what is being talked about.  It is usually translated “let the reader understand” but I find that rendering weaker than the obvious intent.

Matthew 24:15-31

Therefore, when you see the abomination of the desolation standing in the holy place, as spoken by the prophet Daniel, (the person reading this should study it), then those in Judea should flee into the mountain, do not even return home to get personal belongings.  Likewise, the one in the field should not go back for his coat.

But woe to those who are pregnant or nursing in those days.  You should pray that your escape will not be in winter or on a Sabbath.  It will be such great distress as has never happened from the beginning of the world until now.  Unless those days were cut short no one would be saved.  But because of the elect those days will be cut short.

If anyone should say, “Behold, here is the Christ,” or “He is over here,” do not believe it!  For false christs and false prophets will be raised up and they will give great signs and wonders so as to deceive, if able, the elect.  Behold, I have told you beforehand.  Therefore, if someone might say to you, “Behold, he is in the desert,” do not go out or, “Behold, he is in  a private office,” do not believe it.

Just as lightning comes from the east and flashes in the west so too it will be with the coming of the Son of Man.  Wherever the corpse is, that is where the vultures will gather.

[In verses 29-31 below, the Greek word ‘ouranos” or “heaven” appears often.  Sometimes the word simply means “sky” as opposed to “heaven” where God dwells.  It seems to mean, in this context, to mean “outer space” as well.  Keep that in mind.]

Immediately after the distress of those days the sun will become dark, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from outer space, and the magnificence of the heavens will be rattled.  Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky and all the tribes of the earth will mourn as they see the Son of Man coming upon the clouds of the sky.

Matthew 24:32-44

Now you must learn the lesson of the fig tree, when the branch is green and the leaves bud you know that summer is close.  Likewise, when you see all these things you know that the entrance is close.  Truly I say to you that this generation will not pass away until all these things happen.  The heaven and the earth will pass away but my words shall never pass away.

No one knows about this day and hour; not the angels in the heavens nor the son, only the Father.  For the coming of the Son of Man will be just as in the days of Noah.  Just like then, those days before the flood they were eating, drinking, marrying, and planning for marriage right up until the day Noah entered the ark.  They did not know until the flood came and washed everyone away.   The coming of the Son of Man will be the same way.

Two will be in the field, one will be taken and one left.  Two women will be grinding in the mill, one will be taken and one left.  Watch, therefore, because you do not know which day your Lord will come.

[Okay, I can’t help but give a little commentary on this one.  The comparison to Noah is telling in Jesus’ meaning, but the meaning is often lost on many believers.  This is one of the most common passages used to defend a ‘rapture’ motif but in Noah’s days, the ones who were ‘swept away’, a term analogous to ‘taken’ in the next verse were those punished and drowned.  By the same reasoning, Jesus is referring to all the bad things—the natural cataclysms (that is the GNT used for flood) such as earthquakes, famine and wars—that will be used to ‘take’ the people in a punishment kind of way.  Those “left behind” are actually the one spared this.  Somehow people have turned around the meaning to indicate those taken are the ‘blessed ones.’]

You know that if a home owner had known at what time the thief was coming he would have been awake and not allowed his home to be broken into.  By this you know to be ready because when it does not seem likely, that is when the Son of Man will appear.

Matthew 24:45-51

Who then is a faithful and sensible servant?  It is the one whom the lord of the house appoints to give food to the other servants at the right time.  Blessed is the servant that when his lord comes, he will find him doing right.  Truly I say to you he will appoint him over all his possessions.

[These verses have particularly powerful meaning to me as a pastor—a servant in charge of ‘feeding,’ metaphorically, the other servants.  “Lord, may I never take advantage of my position or the blessings you have given me.  May I never neglect the incredible responsibility you have placed upon me as a pastor.  Amen.”]

But, then if the servant should happen to speak evil in his heart, “My master delays,” and then he beats the other servants and even eats and drinks with drunkards this servants lord will come on a day and at an hour he was not expecting and that he did not know.  He will ten cut him off from his part and will appoint him with the hypocrites, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 25:1-13

[The greatest challenge in translating this is the antiquated language and customs.  Trimming lamps and needing oil in the middle of the night for an arcane wedding practice is as alien to us as Martians.  It was tempting to translate oil and lamps as flashlights and batteries or even to translate the groom’s nocturnal group activity with his new bride (when you read it straight out in our cultural view the purity intended by the 1st century is turned into something which sounds icky) and a bunch of virgins into an invitation only after-hours party.  But to do this would do violence to the overall meaning.  Instead, it is incumbent upon the reader to know something of the cultural setting Jesus is addressing.]

The Kingdom of heaven then can be compared to ten virgins who take their own lamps out to meet the groom.  But five of these were foolish [the Greek word here is ‘moron,’ and it is one of my favorites] and five were thoughtful.  The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take oil for themselves but the thoughtful ones took containers of oil with their lamps for themselves.

The groom delayed and all of them nodded off and went to sleep.

But there was a shout in the middle of the night, “Behold the groom!  Come out to meet him.”  Then all the virgins work up and they trimmed their lamps.  The foolish ones said to the thoughtful ones, ‘Give us your oil because our lamps are going out.”  The thoughtful ones replied saying, “No.  There is not enough for you and us, it will run out.  It is better if you go out to the store and buy your own.”

While they were away to buy oil, the groom came and all those who were ready went with him to the bride and they shut the door.  The remaining virgins arrived later on saying, “Lord, lord, open up for us!”  The groom answered and said, “Truly I say to you I do not know you.”

Therefore watch, for you do not know the day or  the hour.”  [Jesus gave that last line is for Harold Camping and his moron followers as well as all the idiot Mayan 2012 doomsday people.]

 

Matthew 25:31-46

Now, whenever the Son of Man comes it will be with all the angels and he will sit upon his glorious throne.  He will assemble all the nations before him and he will separate them from one another just like a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.  He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the king will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my father, for you now inherit a kingdom prepared for you since the foundation of the world because I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was an outsider and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in jail and you came to see me.”

Then the servants answered saying, “Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you something to drink, or when did we see you on the outside and welcome you in, or see you naked and then clothe you?  When did we see you sick and in jail and then come visit you?”

The King answered them saying, “Truly I say to you that insofar as you did it for the least of these, my brothers, you did to me.”

Then he will say to those on his left, “Go away, you who are accursed, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels because when I was hungry you did not give me anything to eat,  I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was an outsider and you did not welcome me in, I was naked and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in jail and you did not visit me.”

Then they answered saying, “Lord, when did we ever see you hungry, thirsty, on the outside naked, sick, and in prison and then not take care of you?”

Then he answered them saying, “Truly I say to you that insofar as you didn’t do it for the least of these you didn’t do it for me.”

These will go into eternal punishment but the just ones into eternal life.

ASK PASTOR GREENBEAN: Q AND A

Sunday, September 5 FBC once again brought fun times at church.  We finished our Old Testament series with Q & A from the congregation.  Many of the questions I answered during the services themselves but there were two completely different sets of questions.  Those interested in hearing all the questions and answers should likely get the audio—which should be available for podcast from the church website soon, and we will try to also provide some CD’s at church.  I told the congregation yesterday I would blog the questions we didn’t have time for.  To maintain the feel of these as questions that were texted to us during the service, I have kept the questions exactly as they came.

1.  Do you believe that this generation will likely see the rapture?

No, not really.  First, I’m not convinced a ‘rapture’ event is even described in the Bible, so I prefer to talk about the return of Christ, which I wholeheartedly affirm.  However, every generation seems to believe their’s is the last.  My answer to that is we should live like today might be the last one we have, but nevertheless prepare for the future.  One of the great shortcomings of many evangelicals is that such great emphasis is put upon an imminent ending of the world that long-range patterns of generational ministry and preparation go neglected.  That might be why, for example, we see so many younger folks without theological foundations.  Their parents who believed in the Lord thought he was returning soon, so, why bother teach your children anything about love, justice, the Trinity or such when all we need to do is ge them ‘saved’ and prepared for the apocalypse.

2.  will god send or condemn a person for there sexual orientation and will He still love you

Tough one.  We spoke about homosexuality in the sermon itself but what I would like to address here is the condemnation part of it.  God always loves us.  Nothing changes that.  However, willful disobedience to his ways leads to punishment (condemnation); which is essentially separation from the Lord.  Punishment from the Lord is what we earn by continuing to engage in sinful behavior.  Homosexuality is a sin.

What I refuse to do, though, is to create a special category of sinner called ‘homosexual’ and highlight that as if it were unique.  We are all sinners, and for some people our sin is homosexuality.  To follow Christ is to admit our sin and begin to follow him and let him remake us in his image.  It is through that process that we begin to see our sin for what it is.  This is not a popular take on the issue today which wants to remove any talk of sin in terms of any sexuality; but that would be something other than what the Bible teaches.

[note—the media ministry people tell me we had many questions about homosexuality during the time.  It did not fit the theme as being about the Old Testament, but the leadership back there appropriately viewed it as a pastoral need and put the question on the screen anyway for me to answer.  As I stated above, I dealt with that during the service, so for more info see the audio]   

3.  Can i keep on sinning and god forgive me? is not that required by god statements in the bible?

Yes, the Lord will always forgive you.  He teaches us to forgive, and he certainly is greater than we are.  However, one has to ask the question about their life regarding the nature of our sinful patterns.  A Christ-follower will desire to stop sinning.  If a person has no desire to stop sinning but instead uses the automatic ‘forgiveness’ button as a trap to make God perform then one has to question the sincerity of the individual.  God is not mocked—and I think that includes people who try to manipulate him by abusing his grace.

4.  Why is the book of Esther in the bible if God is not mentioned once?

Because Esther was a hero of the Jewish people.  The book of Esther is a great example of God’s hand in history even though he is not overtly active in supernatural events.  Compare Esther’s deliverance to that at the Red Sea with Moses.  Faith  says God was involved in both; but in dramatically different ways.

5.  If God wanted Israel to be a royal priesthood whom the nations would come to know God through, why do we see Israel’s most godly leaders (Joshua, David, Elijah, etc) act so violently towards others?

Short answer—they lived in violent times.  Longer answer—the Hebrews were in a theocracy in which to protect the nation was to protect the way of life.  By analogy, the greatest patriots of the United States were all violent people as well—Washington, Lincoln (who perhaps was responsible for killing more Americans than anyone else, yet it was his duty to do such to safeguard the republic), Patton, Eisenhower, Kennedy etc…  Eisenhower is a particularly good example in that he sent many, many young soldiers to their death—Allies and Axis, but he had to to stop a great evil.  Longer answer yet—Christ never raised a sword to anyone.  By the time the New Testament is revealed, the Hebrews had so-not-lived-up-to God’s expectations that faith no longer is wrapped up in politics.  The Christian messages transcends national boundaries.

6.  how can god love us so much, and still send us to hell

See numbers 2 & 3 above.  The answer is essentially the same.  Hell is not as much a place prepared for evil as it is the logical outcome of those who consistently reject the Lord and his ways on earth.  Eternal life is the gift of God to those who love him and respond in faith.  Those who do not love and follow him do not receive the gift.

7.  What am i to believe about demonds being among us?

Believe that they are among us, but do not fret.  Be careful never to go down the dangerous path of spending time and energy on what the devil is doing.  Our job is to serve Christ and his kingdom.  Let the Lord deal with the devil and demons; we should just worry about growing in our follow-ship.  I do not need the devil or demons to mess up—I can do that all by myself.

8.  So goin back to the creation topic there is a theory out there that before the creation started in Genesis, God had made out the universe but he didnt make everything in the beginning he made and controlled evolution and our fossil record is the record of that universe but then when Lucifer fell and became Stan he destroyed everything except the Earth but he destroyed everything on Earth leaving just a lump of rock then he started again with the record in Genesis?

Okay—that’s a long question.  This is a form of the “Gap Theory” which was very popular in the 1980’s.  It explains the “void” and “chaos” of Genesis 1:1-2 as being contrary to what God would make—since God makes everything beautiful and pristine.  The theory goes that God made the earth perfect but when Satan fell with his demons he was cast to earth as punishment (some punishment?).  The subsequent “fall” destroyed earth like a giant meteor might have done.  Then, with Satan on earth, God made the earth as we know it.

I like the “what if” of this theory because it leaves the door ajar for mystery and unexplained phenomena.  I like that.  As I said before I do not think the distant past is easily explained or scientifically comprehensible.  But, this theory has real problems with it as a whole.  First, if this were so, I think the Lord would have told us.  Second, it hinges upon piecing together many different Bible verses, out of context, for it to hold together.  Third, it gives the Devil too much power, as it conceives of earth as ‘enemy held territory.’  I’m not saying it is not true but I am saying it doesn’t seem like the most likely explanation for the world as we see it today.

 

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NOTE–AFTER THIS BLOG WAS WRITTEN, TWO ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS WERE FOUND WRITTEN ON SCRAPS OF PAPER (FRAGMENTS?)  I ANSWERED THEM IN OUR WEEKLY EMAIL NEWSLETTER, BUT ALSO AM POSTING THEM HERE AS WELL, JUST TO BE THOROUGH.

I have had many positive comments about the services on Sunday with the Question and Answer session.  Perhaps it is an itch we should attempt to scratch more often.  I think maybe we will ponder that for 2012.  In the meantime, I promised to answer the questions we received as follow-up.  Most of these have been published on my blog at jdgreening.wordpresss.com.  After I posted that blog I discovered two other hand written questions that came in on scraps of paper.  So, here they are, along with my attempt to answer them.

 

1.  Could you please explain the priesthood of believers?  What is the implication of this phrase upon our lives.

The priesthood of (all) believers is a particular doctrine that Baptists have championed for a long time.  However, it has fallen on hard times in recent years for various reasons which I choose not to go into now.  The essence of the doctrine—and it is a doctrine, is that Christ alone is our one true priest and therefore no human intermediary is necessary.  All people are capable of relating to God directly, therefore they are, in essence, their own priest under Christ the great high priest.  This means that each believer can discern God’s will directly and, likewise, has the responsibility for responding to the Lord and his word.

The implication of this doctrine in the church is that a church does not need a pastor to make church happen.  The Lord’s Supper, Baptism, prayer, preaching and all the things that churches do are not made effectual by the presence of a pastor (priest?) but by the presence of the Holy Spirit when people are gathered in the name of Christ.  The priesthood of the believer is also the root doctrine used to defend congregational polity—every member has equal vote because every member has equal access to God.

The doctrine of the priesthood of believers denies that ordained clergy have any special inside knowledge of track to God.  Now, most people affirm that, but I turn around and ask—why do so many people want to make sure the pastor prays for them?  It is likely that they deep down believer the pastor’s prayers have a better chance of getting through than their own!  Of course, that is false.

2.  What is the Greek name of the King of Salem in the Old Testament?

A name is a name, whether it is Greek or English.  Sometimes the pronunciations change, but it is still the same name (i.e. Jesus=Yeshua=Joshua) regardless of the language employed.  Now, by King of Salem I think the question means Melchizedek (Genesis 14:17-24) and it is Hebrew.  Melchizedek is a fairly quiet figure in the Old Testament, appearing only here in narrative and referenced in the Psalm 110 and Hebrews 5 and 7.  The name, a compound name of “righteousness” and “king” means “my righteous king.”

Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, who, as the ancient King of Salem likely foreshadowed, at least in the mind of the writer of Hebrews, the truth King of Salem (Salem=Peace) who is Christ Jesus.  The book of Hebrews makes it explicit through logical deduction and theological proofs that Jesus is greater than Abraham and Moses and therefore to follow Christ is greater than following the law or Jewish rules.

SIX REASONS WHY THE RAPTURE WILL NOT BE THIS WEEKEND

In light of recent headlines, I think it is time for Pastor Greenbean to bring some calm reassurance to the people of the world.  There will be no so-called “rapture” this Saturday.  In case you’d like to bet me on that, you should know I’m going all in:  house, cars, bank accounts, library and stunning wardrobe.   

Apparently some loon radio station guy is predicting  that the rapture will happen on Saturday.  Let’s put aside what I consider the questionable theology of “rapture” and just examine the logic of the claim from a foundational biblical perspective.  Jesus himself admits in the gospels that he doesn’t know much about the times and dates of the end.  If Jesus doesn’t know, I’m pretty sure the radio doesn’t either.  Taking logic to the next level it would seem these loons are more influenced by current pagan/heathen/media driven 2012 doomsday predictions rather than anything biblical.  Not to mention (oops, I guess I am mentioning it) history is replete with groups that have been wrong, including Camping himself.  A little research indicates that this man is false teacher.    

The way I understand it this group of loons are saying the corollary event, the end of the world, is occurring this October.  Now, unless there are using “end of the world” as a metaphor for a prediction that the Chicago Cubs will win the World Series in October then their timeline is terribly incorrect.  If you believe in a “rapture” (let the reader understand) then the end of the world will take at least 3.5 years to happen, not 5 months.  So these loons at the radio station are terrible theologians and bad mathematicians to boot.  They should never be trusted by anyone ever again.

As an aside, I wish the media would stop calling this guy a Bible expert.  He is not.  He is a loon.  I can only imagine how the early church fathers would have dealt with him.  Can you see it now—Augustine’s “Contra Camping” or Athanasius “Camping est Hominen Stupidem.”  I am so sure the first thing they would have done would be to anathematize him!

Rest assured, the world will not end in October of this year or 2012.  Predicting it almost guarantees it will not happen.  Read your Bible people!

In addition to these sound reasons, I have at least six other personal reasons why I am rather convinced the “rapture” will not occur this Saturday.

            1.  By Saturday I’ve ironed out all the kinks in Sunday’s upcoming sermon.  It would be just cruel to have worked so hard to get it ready and then not get to preach it.  Plus, this weeks sermon is awesome!

            2.  I’ve got a great vacation planned this summer.  It would be nice if God would wait until maybe the bills come in from my great vacation.

            3.  My new study the church built for me last year is barely broken in.  It would be just cruel to vacate it now.

            4.  This loon said the same thing in 1994.

            5.  The New Harry Potter movie hasn’t come out yet and my girls would be very upset if they didn’t get to see how it plays on the big screen.

            6.  This idea came out of California. California!