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Saturday, February 28, 2009


For as long as I could remember, I had believed in the doctrine of a “seven year tribulation”. But when I discovered that such an idea was foreign to the Bible, I began to realize that serious students of the Bible must have some objective “benchmarks” by which to know what was a scriptural doctrine and what was not. It was not long after this that the Lord directed my thoughts to three passages of scripture which I have come to believe provide 3 simple tests by which to know the difference between scriptural and unscriptural doctrines.

Psalm 12:6 says “The words of the Lord are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.”

Proverbs 30:5 and 6 say, “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee and thou be found a liar.”

I Corinthians 2:13 says, “Which things we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.”

There are doubtless other good scriptural tests of sound doctrine, but these three have been of invaluable help to me. As I consider any doctrine which I hold or any doctrine which I encounter, I simply ask three questions…
(1) Can this doctrine be stated in the pure words of scripture?
(2) Can this doctrine be stated without any words which are additional to scripture?
(3) Can this doctrine be stated in words which the Holy Ghost teaches or must it be stated in words which man’s wisdom teaches?

It was then that I began applying these three simple tests to many doctrines which I had embraced. I was amazed to realize that many of them simply did not pass any one of these tests!

I’m sure you would agree with me that the doctrine of “purgatory” is not a scriptural doctrine! Why not? Because it is simply not found in the words of scripture, it must be stated in words that are additional to scripture and it can only be stated in words which man’s wisdom teaches because it has never been framed in words which the Holy Spirit teaches!

So too, for the very same reason, the doctrine of infant baptism is not a scriptural doctrine.

But what of the doctrines of “the imminent or any moment return of Christ” and the “pre-tribulation rapture”? Do either of these pass the scriptural tests above? If they do, I have yet to find the place in scripture which teaches either one!

But consider with me two simple statements of scripture which deny the imminence of Christ’s return from heaven…
Acts 3:20 &21 say, “And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heavens must receive until the times of the restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”
II Thess.2:1-4 say, “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or troubled, neither by spirit, not by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there be a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;..”
Both of these scripture clearly teach that certain things must happen before the day of the Lord Jesus’ return can come.

What of the “pre-tribulation rapture” doctrine? It tells us that the Lord Jesus' coming is actually in two stages: (1) He comes in the air for his saints and then returns to heaven. Then (2) after the seven year tribulation is over he comes to the earth with His saints.

Certainly, I Thess.4:13-18 tells us that saints will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air, but nowhere in scripture can one find what I call the “U-Turn doctrine”, i.e. that the Lord Jesus meets us in the air and then takes a u-turn and returns to heaven with us! It just isn’t in the Book! Nor is there a verse of scripture that teaches us that he will come in the clouds prior to the tribulation!

Again, without any explanation, the very words of scripture tell us the exact opposite!
Matt.24:29-31 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

Those who believe in the pre-trib rapture also believe that the rapture is the time when they will at last rest from their troubles and experience the redemption of their bodies. It is true that our rest and the redemption of our bodies will happen when we are caught up to meet the Lord in the air, but when does scripture teach us to expect our rest and the redemption of our bodies? Before or after the tribulation? I simply let scripture speak for itself…

Luke 21:25-28, “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.”

II Thessalonians 1:3-10 “We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you; And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.”

So I think you can see that the three tests above will very simply show whatever doctrines are NOT scriptural doctrines and simple statements of scripture will demonstrate scriptural doctrines.

It is by this objective means that I came to reject the doctrines of imminence and the pre-trib rapture. Can you imagine that it was not a post tribulationist who convinced me but rather a dispensational pre-tribulationist’s Bible study which failed to adhere to dispensational principles of interpretation??!!

In my next post, I hope to demonstrate that the guiding principles of dispensationalism (which I mentioned yesterday) are excellent principles to go by. But, in my view, it has been failure to follow those principles in their end-times teachings which has lead dispensationalists into error in those teachings!


Anonymous said...


Congratulations! You are now fulfilling the Bible which says "Come now, and let us repeat together."
Be sure to repeat what Walvoord, Lindsey, LaHaye, Ice etc. repeat what their own teachers repeat what their own teachers repeat etc. etc. etc.!
Repeat that Christ's return is imminent because we're told to "watch" (Matt. 24, 25) for it. So is the "day of God" (II Pet. 3:12) - which you admit is at least 1000 years ahead - also imminent because we're told to be "looking for" it?
Also repeat the pretrib myths about the "Jewish wedding stages" and "Jewish feasts" (where's your "church/Israel dichotomy" now?) even though Christ and Paul knew nothing about a "pretrib stage" and neither did any official theological creed or organized church before 1830!
You should read "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty" on the "Powered by Christ Ministries" site to find out why you shouldn't repeat everything your pretrib teachers repeat.
Do I have to repeat this?

Bruce Woodford said...

Dear Friend,

Before you comment on an article you really should read it first to make sure you have your facts straight!

I do NOT hold to a pre-tribulation rapture nor do I believe in the imminence of Christ's return!

In fact, I have personally written to John Walvoord and a number of prominent brethren teachers asking how such doctrines stand up when evaluated by the tests I wrote of in this post. They have no answer!

Bruce Woodford

RS said...

I have just been reading Robert Anderson myself and found myself starting to doubt my long held view that is the same as yours ie; just one return. Many thanks for helping me back to where I belong, this pre-trib stuff is super sneaky. BTW, I have a blog
that shows the mathematical proof od the divine inspiration of the book of Daniel (it's hard work, tho).
Blessings to you