There’s a great big elephant in the living room and few want to acknowledge its presence.
- Jesus said He was ‘coming soon’.
- He said His coming was ‘at hand.’
- He said He was coming WITH REWARDS in the lifetime of some of those who He was speaking to in Matthew 16:27-28.
- He said He would come back before all of His disciples had died.
- He said He was coming in ‘his generation’.
- His disciples would not have gone through all the cities in Israel by the time He came again.
Jesus and the apostles addressed people who were alive over 2,000 years ago. They spoke words of hope and encouraged the New Testament believers to prepare for their immediate future and to persevere in their trials ~1Pet 1:13, 1Pet 2:12, 1Pet 4:13, 1Pet 5:1, 1Pet 5:4.
The apostles under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit told their audiences that they were in the last days, certain things were about to happen to them, Jesus was coming soon, He was at hand, there would be no more delay, He was standing at the door, the end of the ages had come upon them, the last hour had arrived.
- Did Jesus and the apostles really just motivate and encourage their audience with lies and deceit?
Jesus promised to return during that very same first-century generation and the pre-70AD believers all expected Him to return soon. He promised His disciples that not all of them would have died by the time of His return. A few would still remain alive ~ Matthew 16:28, Matthew 24:34, John 21:22, 1 Cor 15:51, 1 Thess 4:15-17, 1 Thess 5:23, 2 Tim 1: 16-18, Jude 1: 21, Rev 2:25.
The apostles taught the first-century church that there was about to be a resurrection and a judgment and it was going to happen in their own lifetime ~ 1 Thess 4:15-17; John 14:1-3; Matt 24:31; 2 Thess 2:1 Phil 3:14.
They were promised that they would be changed, caught up, gathered together by angels, given relief, rescued, stand in His presence, would marvel at Him, and be rewarded ~ Mat 24:31, Mat 25:6-10, Lk 21:36, John 14:3, 1Cor 15:51-52, 2Cor 4:14, Philip 3:14, Philip 3:21, 1Th 1:10, 1Th 2:19, 1Th 4:17, 2Th 1:7-10, 2Th 2:1.
They were promised that their bodies would be changed ~ 2 Cor 5:1-4; Phil 3:21; 1 Cor 15:51-54; 15:37-38 1 John 3:2; Rom. 8:17-23; 1 Thess. 4:16-17; 5:23.
While the foolish would be found sleeping, not on guard, not on alert, and destruction would come upon them ~ Matthew 13:19, Matthew 24:43, Matthew 25:10-13, Luke 21:34-36, 1Thess 5:2-4, 2Pet 3:10, Rev 3:3, Rev 16:15.
The Saints were anxiously longing, eagerly awaiting for their Saviour to rescue/save/deliver them from their enemies. They fixed their hope on Him and made themselves ready with prayer and fasting. They were on the alert and ‘loved his appearing’ ~ Philippians 3:20, Hebrews 9:28, Jude 1:21, Thess 1:10, Romans 8:23-25, 2 Cor 5:2, Luke 12:35, 1 Cor 1:7, 2 Tim 4:8, 1 Pet. 1:13, Rev 6:10.
- Did they get the relief, rescue, and the rewards that were promised to them?
- If they didn’t, why is there no writing after 70AD complaining that they didn’t experience that relief?
- Where are the letters of those believers who survived the War of the Jews complaining about their great disappointment?
- Why all the silence after 70AD?
- Why did they not set the record straight?
- Has it ever crossed your mind that raptured people can’t actually write letters or books?
- Why are only Judaizers who attempted to turn Gentiles into Jews and who despised the teachings of the Apostle Paul left behind at Pella after 70AD?
- Why is it that Christians only start writing material again from around 100AD?
- Why has The Church made the ‘last hour’ 2000 years + long?
- Why has The Church made the word ‘soon’ mean 2000 years + in the future?
- Why can’t The Church just simply accept what scripture says?
- Have you noticed that atheists and Muslims are very good at pointing out that The Church has made Jesus and the other biblical writers out to be liars because of what they wrote about Jesus’ return in the New Testament?
“All the Christians who knew about the Parousia were gone. The ignorance and confusion of the post 70AD writers shows that they could not have been Christians at that time of the Parousia. They did not become Christians until later. They had no Apostles or pre 70AD saints to clear up the confusion and set the record straight. They remained unaware that the Resurrection, the Rapture, and the Judgement had occurred.” ~ Ed Stevens
- Now can you finally see that great big elephant in the living room?
- Isn’t it about time the Church changed its narrative?
The Bible Was Written ‘for us’ NOT Written ‘to us’
The bible had to mean something to its original audience first and foremost!
- What was their context of expectation?
- What did the words like near, soon, shortly mean to them?
The New Testament believers certainly didn’t think that they were being told about events 2000 ys + in their future. They would have taken John’s words in their plain and normal sense and would have understood the words to be directly applying to them! Therefore we MUST study to see what the language meant to them in their historical and cultural setting.
Up until 70AD righteous disembodied souls waited in Abraham’s bosom/Paradise after they died.
- In 70AD, disembodied souls were resurrected out of Abraham’s bosom/Paradise as the 7th trumpet sounded as written in Daniel 12.
“So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:42-44
- They were raised in their new individual spiritual/immortal bodies.
“And if I go and make it ready for you, I will come back and take you to be face to face with me, so that you may always be right where I am.” ~ John 14:3
And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect. Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let’s rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let’s run with endurance the race that is set before us…Hebrews 11:39-12:1
“They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.” ~ Revelation 22:4
- Then those who were alive and remained on earth i.e mortals were caught up into the unseen realm to meet the Lord in the clouds with those that had been resurrected out of Paradise.
- Their mortal bodies were changed into immortal bodies without having to die first.
“Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.” ~ 1 Corinthians 15: 51-53
- Jesus brought them back to ‘His Father’s House’ that He had been preparing i.e The New Jerusalem.
- They boldly entered to be in the presence of Jesus and Father, face to face for eternity.
Sheep and The Goat Judgement At The Great White Throne
The wicked were resurrected out of Hades.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. ~ Matthew 25:31
“Do not marvel at this, for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth- those who have done good, to the resurrection of life and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.” ~ John 5:28-29
“At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. 2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. ~ Dan. 12:1-2
These two resurrections that Jesus referred to were to happen at the same time in 70AD. (I will post on 1000 years in a future post).
Jesus had promised that His disciples would be given thrones to judge Israel from:
“You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” ~ Luke 22:30
Paul wrote that the Saints would judge the world:
“Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases?” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:2
Then after that corporate judgment at the Great White Throne, Hades i.e Hadean death, the holding bay for righteous and unrighteous disembodied souls was thrown into the Lake of Fire. “Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.” ~ Revelation 20:14
The Gates of Hades Will Not Prevail!
Once the Jerusalem temple, the Old Covenant practices, the priesthood, and the city were destroyed by Rome in 70AD, Hades, the holding place for the souls of the dead would be closed.
However, today resurrections and judgment are experienced on an individual basis, every day, and every hour, not as a singular event on a given future Day.
So there is still a future ‘resurrection of the dead’ for each one of us living today. But at death, we don’t go to ‘a holding bay’ in Hades as a disembodied soul to await a future resurrection. There is no soul sleep either.
We live in the age that was to come, i.e the age that was future to those who wrote the New Testament. In the New Covenant age, as soon as we (Christians) take our last breath we immediately go to be with Jesus in Heaven. We receive our new resurrected spiritual body, we are given our rewards and enter the heavenly New Jerusalem to be with Jesus and other believers forever and forever.
Unbelievers immediately after their final breath also end up meeting Jesus face to face, to face the consequences of the choices they have made in life. As the Apostle Paul wrote:
“He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. …God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.” ~ Romans 2:6-8, 16
We need a paradigm shift in our understanding of the Bible!
The simple fact is this.
If Jesus and the apostles are not liars or deceived, then the resurrection and the rapture that were both written about in the bible have already happened!
This is exactly why skeptics have such a great time refuting Christianity and claiming that Jesus and his apostles did not tell the truth or know the truth and call them failed prophecies.
Even C S Lewis struggled:
“Say what you like,” we shall be told, “the apocalyptic beliefs of the first Christians have been proved to be false. It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And worse still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their Master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, ‘this generation shall not pass till all these things be done.’ And he was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else.”
It is certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible. Yet how teasing, also, that within fourteen words of it should come the statement “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” The one exhibition of error and the one confession of ignorance grow side by side.” 
I’ve also listened to Muslim apologetics and atheists and time and time again they also bring up this topic while debating Christians.
The famous atheist, Bertrand Russell wrote that it would be fallacious to follow a religious leader that couldn’t even get his own parousia prediction correct:
“I am concerned with Christ as He appears in the Gospel narrative…He certainly thought that his second coming would occur in clouds of glory before the death of all the people who were living at the time. There are a great many texts that prove…He believed that his coming would happen during the lifetime of many then living. That was the belief of his earlier followers, and it was the basis of a good deal of his moral teaching.” Russell later reasons that it would be fallacious to follow a religious leader (such as Jesus) who was mistaken on so basic a prediction as his parousia.”
Futurism claims to understand the bible using a literal plain method but futurism doesn’t do it consistently and ends up giving credibility to the skeptics. It ignores the correct meaning of near, right at the door, at hand, shortly, quickly, soon, etc.
R C Sproul drew attention to that great big elephant in the room:
“The evangelical world cannot afford to turn a deaf ear to the railing voices of skepticism that gut Scripture of its divine authority, that assault the credibility of the apostolic witness and even of Christ himself. We must take seriously the skeptic’s critique of the time-frame references of New Testament prophecy, and we must answer them convincingly.” 
The truth is taught inconsistently from pulpits as this example shows:
Preacher in Church on Sunday – “The resurrection has not happened yet!”
Preacher doing a funeral on Monday – “Little Johnny has gone to heaven to be with the Lord.”
If you asked your fellow Christian where they go when they die, they will say ‘Heaven’. But if the dead have not yet been resurrected, which happens at the Second Appearance/Coming, then no one is yet in heaven!
- Now can you now see the inconsistency of what the preacher has just said?
- Could you convincingly answer our critics?
 The Antichrist and the Second Coming: A Preterist Examination by Ph.D. Duncan W. McKenzie
 C.S. Lewis, “The World’s Last Night” (1960) page 385
 Why I am not a Christian: And Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
 The Last Days According to Jesus, p-203