A Bible Study by Jack Kelley
“Can you explain what pre-tribulation, pre-millennial, OSAS, and literal reading is and why I should care? I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God – He is my Lord and Savior – the only way to salvation (John 14:6).”
On our facebook page we define gracethrufaith.com as a pre-tribulation, pre-millennial, OSAS believing, literal reading Bible study website. We included this summary of our beliefs to let people know what we teach so they would know what to expect when they come to our page.
Recently, someone sent me the above message and although I’ve received comments like it before, for some reason this one struck me because it represents the attitude of a great many born again Christians. Largely because of the way the Church approaches Christian education, they think getting saved is all that matters.
They don’t realize that getting saved is really no more than passing the entrance exam into Christianity. It doesn’t prepare us to live a Christian life on Earth (or an eternal life in Heaven) any more than passing the entrance exam into medical school would prepare us to treat patients as a doctor.
And just like no med school candidate would expect to become a doctor without ever consulting a textbook, no Christian should expect to live a meaningful Christian life without ever consulting the Bible.
And yet according to the American Bible Society’s “State of the Bible 2013” study, while 66 percent of Americans agreed that “the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life,” 58 percent say they don’t want wisdom and advice from the Bible, and 57 percent say they read the Bible fewer than five times per year.
Even among those who read it more often, many skip over most of the Old Testament and anything having to do with prophecy in the New Testament. And even though they read parts of the Gospels and Paul’s Epistles, very few have a grasp of what it means to live a victorious Christian life.
How well do you think our hypothetical med student would fare with that attitude about his or her primary textbook?
My point here is that almost 30% of the Bible is composed of prophecies; statements God has made that at the time He made them were in the future. Some of them have since been fulfilled while others are for our future, but it’s important to be familiar with both kinds.
The fulfilled prophecies tell us that God can see the future and has often informed His people of things to come. He has done this so when they happen we will remember that He told us in advance (Isaiah 48:5-6). His track record for promising and then performing is so flawless that Biblical prophecy is described by many as being “history, written in advance.” We who have taken the time to study prophecy have proved to ourselves that He knows the end from the beginning. This adds substance to our faith, making us more certain that the God we worship is Who He claims to be. You might say prophecy is His way of authenticating Himself to us.
And that brings us to the unfulfilled prophecies. Knowing His accuracy in fulfilling past prophecies gives us more certainty that what He has said about the future will come to pass as well.
Those who haven’t studied prophecy can’t fully comprehend the basis for our faith and why it’s different from the faith people of other religions have in their gods. For them it’s just “something we believe” as people have often described Christianity to me. They don’t realize that ours is the only God who has proven His existence to His people (Isaiah 46:8-10).
According to a recent Barna Group poll 41% of Americans in general and an astonishing 77% of Evangelical Christians said they believe the Biblical end times are here. And yet many of them are not able to give even a cursory description of the “end times”. They’re like the person who wrote the comment we began with. They aren’t familiar with end times terminology and don’t know why it should be important to them.
So let’s take a moment to review the terms I used to define gracethrufaith.com and recall why it’s important to understand what they mean.
What is it? Pre-Tribulation literally means “before the tribulation” and refers to the rapture of the Church. The Bible says there’s a seven year period of time coming upon the Earth when the Lord will first turn His attention once again to Israel and then bring a series of judgments upon the world to completely destroy all the nations among which His people have been scattered over the centuries (Jeremiah 30:5-11). Jesus called the last half of this period the Great Tribulation and said it will be the worst time of judgment the world has ever seen or ever will see (Matt. 24:21). The Bible calls this seven years the time of God’s wrath (Rev. 6:15-17) but many scholars call it the tribulation period.
Before this seven year period begins, the Lord will take all true believers away from the world in an event called the rapture (catching away) of the Church (1 Thes. 4:16-17). He will do this to remove us from the time and place of His wrath (Romans 5:9, 1 Thes. 1:10), because the judgments are not intended for the Church (1 Thes. 5:9). So the Pre-Tribulation rapture of the Church is the catching away of all living believers before the end times judgments begin. Believers who have died during the Church Age will be resurrected and receive new bodies at the same time (1 Cor. 15:51-52) and together we’ll go to our eternal home to begin our new life with Jesus (John 14:2-3).
Why Should I Care? Understanding the Pre-Tribulation rapture is important because it’s a promise from the Lord that the Church will not have to endure the end times judgments, but can have hope that as we see the time approaching we’ll know our departure is drawing near (Luke 21:31). In addition, it alerts us to the fact that if we feel the Lord calling us to do something for him, the time for doing it is growing short.
It’s also important to understand this because some people don’t accept what the Bible says about the rapture and try to convince others that either the rapture will take place after the judgments, or won’t take place at all. People who haven’t done their homework can be confused or misled by this and their faith can be shaken. We should not only know what we believe but why we believe it so we can defend our position when called upon to do so.
What is it? Pre-Millennial means before the Millennium. The Millennium is the Lord’s 1,000 year reign on Earth (Rev. 20:4). The time in which we live is called pre-millennial because the Millennium begins after the 2nd Coming and ends at the beginning of what theologians call man’s eternal state. During this 1,000 years Israel will receive all the blessings promised by God. For this reason, it’s also referred to as Israel’s Kingdom Age, and is why most of what we know about the Millennium comes from the Old Testament.
At the 2nd Coming the Earth will be restored to the condition it was in when God created it (Acts 3:21), and Israel will live there with Him (Ezekiel 43:7). The curse that has plagued the world since Adam and Eve sinned will be lifted (Rev. 22:3), and Earth will once again be the Edenic Garden it was in the beginning.
Why Should I Care? It’s important to us because our friends and family who are not believers will miss the rapture, but many of them will become believers during the seven years of judgments. They’ll help repopulate the Earth during the Millennium and will live there, too. They might not be able to visit us in our eternal home (Rev. 21:27), but we’ll be able to visit them on Earth.
As with the rapture some people don’t believe in a literal 1,000 year reign by the Lord on Earth. They either believe that God’s promises to Israel have been inherited by the Church and are allegorical, not factual, or they believe the Millennium has already taken place in heaven. Hearing false teaching like this can be confusing or misleading to those who don’t know the facts.
What is it? OSAS stands for “once saved always saved” and is the popular name for the doctrine of eternal security. It’s not considered to be in the realm of prophecy, but it does have a profound effect on how we view the future. People who believe this doctrine believe that once we have asked for and received our salvation there’s nothing anyone including we ourselves can do to reverse it. It’s based on two of the clearest verses in the New Testament on this issue, Ephesians 1:13-14 and 2 Cor. 1:21-22. They both say that when we heard the gospel of our salvation and believed it, God sent us His Spirit as a seal to guarantee our inheritance. In 2 Cor. 1:21-22 Paul went even further saying that it’s God himself who makes us stand firm in Christ by setting His seal of ownership on us and placing His spirit in our heart. All this happened when we believed the Gospel, before we had any opportunity to either do good things to qualify for it or bad things to disqualify ourselves.
Why Should I Care? Along with knowing we’re saved it’s important to understand the durability of our salvation. As we saw above, the Bible is very clear in saying that having been saved, our eternal life with the Lord is assured and we no longer have to worry about it. Jesus said the only work God requires of us is to believe in the one He sent (John 6:28-29) and that it’s God’s will that every one who looks to the Son and believes in Him will not be lost but will have eternal life (John 6:37-40). He also said that once we’re in His and His Father’s hands no one can snatch us out of them (John 10:27-30).
It’s especially important to know this because false teachers abound, telling us that if we ever sin after being saved our salvation will be revoked and we’ll never be able to get it back. Some of them say Jesus only died for the sins we committed up till the time we were saved. After that it’s up to us to keep ourselves sin free. Others teach that salvation is a combination of God’s grace and our good works, and if we don’t do our part right to the end we’ll be lost. If we don’t know the truth, the joy of our salvation can easily be turned into the fear of losing it.
What is it? Dr. David L. Cooper defined it this way. “When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicate clearly otherwise.”
This has come to be known as the golden rule of interpretation because of its importance in correctly interpreting Scripture. People who violate this rule can make the Bible say almost anything. I think there’s another rule that should be considered with it. That one says we should always use the clearest verses on a topic to help us understand verses that aren’t so clear. The Bible, being the Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16) cannot contradict itself. It can’t say something in one place, and something different in another place. Whenever we think it does, we’ve violated one of these rules.
Why Should I Care? After 30 years of nearly full time study of the Bible, I’ve concluded that every argument against the positions I’ve described above has its foundation in a violation of one or both of these rules. People take verses out of context, develop allegorical interpretations where literal meanings are clear, and actually reinterpret verses to make them say something different from what the Lord intended, to support their mistaken opinions. Those who aren’t Biblically literate are fair game for these folks.
Obviously there are lots of other important things in the Bible that a serious Christian should know. I picked these for inclusion in our summary statement because they tell people right away what we believe. And in becoming more familiar with these, one necessarily has to touch on Salvation, Grace, the Great Tribulation, the 2nd Coming, Eternity, and of course prophecy in general.
Knowing for yourself what the Bible says about these things is much better than taking someone else’s word for it or worse, ignoring it altogether. It’s not only the best defense against false teaching. It’s also the best way to increase your faith in the promises of God.
Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17). Selah 09-21-13