"THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW" Is It From Heaven Or From Men? (21:23-27) by Mark Copeland


Is It From Heaven Or From Men? (21:23-27)


1. While teaching in the temple, Jesus was confronted by the chief
   priests and elders...
   a. They questioned His authority to teach - Mt 21:23
   b. Jesus saw through their hypocrisy, and challenged them regarding
      the authority behind the baptism of John - Mt 21:24-25a
   c. Since they would not be honest in their answer, Jesus refused to
      answer their question - Mt 21:25b-27

2. In the process of exposing their hypocrisy, Jesus revealed an
   important principle regarding authority in matters of religion...
   a. All religious practices must come from one of two sources
   b. They come either from heaven, or from men - Mt 23:25

3. What Jesus asked regarding John's baptism, could be asked of many
   religious practices...
   a. Infant baptism
   b. Sprinkling or pouring instead of immersion
   c. Denominationalism, a clergy-laity distinction
   d. The impossibility of apostasy, observing the Sabbath
   e. Instrumental music, burning of incense, etc., in our worship
   -- Are such practices from heaven, or from men?

[In this study, we shall consider how one can know whether a particular
religious practice is from heaven, or from man...]


      1. For He has been given all authority - Mt 28:18
      2. Both in heaven and on earth
      -- Certainly if Jesus commanded it, it is from heaven!

      1. For Jesus delegated His authority to His apostles - Jn 13:20
      2. They serve as His official ambassadors - 2Co 5:20
      3. To ensure their reliability, Jesus promised the Spirit to
         remind them of what He taught, and to guide them into all the
         truth - Jn 14:26; 16:12-13
      4. This is why the church continued steadfastly in the apostles'
         doctrine - Ac 2:42; 1Co 14:37; 1Th 2:13
      -- If the apostles of Christ taught it, it is from heaven!

      1. The apostles were given, and proclaimed, the whole counsel of 
         God - Ac 20:27
      2. They were given all things that pertain to life and godliness- 2Pe 1:3
      3. The faith revealed through them was delivered once for all
         (lit., one time for all times) - Jude 3
      -- There is no need for modern day revelations, for in the
         Scriptures we have all that is needed to be "complete, 
         thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2Ti 3:16-17)

[If a religious practice can be found to be taught by Jesus or His
apostles, then it is truly from heaven!  Religious practices that are
from men, however, might come from a variety of sources...]


      1. Many people will accept whatever most people think about something 
      2. Yet Jesus warned against following the majority - Mt 7:13-14
      3. If you had followed the majority...
         a. In Noah's day, you would have perished in the flood
         b. In Joshua's day, you would have perished in the wilderness
      -- What the majority believes or does is not likely to be from
         heaven, but from men!

      1. Some believe "If it was good enough for Mom and Dad, it is
         good enough for me."
      2. As much as we may love and respect our parents, Christ must
         come first - Mt 10:37
      3. If every generation had simply followed their parents, then we
         who are Gentiles would likely still be idol-worshippers and polytheistic!
      -- Let us honor our parents, not by following them blindly, but
         by applying principles they themselves likely taught us, such
         as seek to do the right thing, obey God, etc.      

      1. It is common for people to place their trust in their
         "preacher," "priest," or "pastor"
      2. They reason that surely these "men of God" could not be wrong
         or lead them astray
         a. Yet Paul warned of how we can easily be misled - cf. 2 Co 11:13-15
         b. And Jesus warned about the "blind leading the blind" - Mt 15:12-14
      3. Our attitude needs to be like that of the Bereans, who
         carefully examined Paul's teachings in light of the Scriptures- Ac 17:11
      -- What a preacher teaches is only as good as the authority
         behind it; unless we wish to be led astray, we have the 
         responsibility to ask "Is it from God, or men?"

      1. This is where the denominations really get most of their authority
         a. E.g., for such things as infant baptism, pouring or 
            sprinkling instead of immersion
         b. E.g, for such things as denominationalism, once saved always saved
      2. Indeed, adherence to the creeds of men is what produces denominations
         a. Accept the Bible only, and you become a Christian only
         b. Accept some man-made creed or tradition, and you become
            something else!
            1) Accept the Book of Mormon, and you become a Mormon
            2) Accept papal authority, and you become a Roman Catholic
            3) Accept the Lutheran Catechism, and you become a Lutheran
      3. Creeds are really not even necessary...
         a. If they say more than what the Bible says, they say too much
         b. If they say less than what the Bible says, they say too little
         c. If they say exactly what the Bible says, then why not let
            the Bible be our creed book?
      -- The fact is creeds are filled with the traditions and commands
         of men, many of which conflict with and displace the commands
         of God! - cf. Mk 7:6-9

      1. "Let your conscience be your guide" is the motto of many
      2. But our conscience cannot always be reliable
         a. Paul had served God with a good conscience throughout his
            life - Ac 23:1
         b. Even at a time when he was persecuting Christians! - cf. Ac 26:9-11
      3. Our conscience is like a clock, which works properly if set correctly
      4. Once our conscience has been "set" by the "apostles' doctrine"
         then it can be a good guide
      -- Unless what your conscience is telling you can be confirmed by
         the Word of God, then what you believe is from man, not God!

      1. Many believe that through their own wisdom they can determine
         right and wrong
         a. If it makes sense to them, they reason it must be true
         b. If it doesn't make sense, they won't accept it
      2. But God's thoughts and ways are not always our own - cf. Isa 55:8-9
      3. In fact, God has chosen to save man in a manner specifically
         designed to confound those who depend solely upon human wisdom
         - cf. 1Co 1:18-29
      4. For us to know God's will, it was necessary for Him to reveal
         it to us - 1Co 2:9-12
         a. This He has done through His Spirit-inspired apostles 
         b. Who in turn shared it with us through their writings - Ep 3:1-5
      -- Appeal to human reason to justify a certain practice, and it
         will likely be from man, not God!

      1. This is often the "standard of authority" for many people
         a. Who go by whatever "feels right"
         b. Who place stock in a religion "better felt than told"
      2. Yet the Bible declares the danger of trusting in "feelings"
         a. "There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is
            the way of death." - Pr 14:12
         b. "He who trusts in his own heart is a fool..." - Pr 28:26
         c. "O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself; It is not
            in man who walks to direct his own steps." - Jer 10:23
      -- It should be evident that any religious practice or doctrine
         based upon "feelings" alone is from man, not God!

      1. People will sometimes resort to the O. T. to provide authority
         for some practice
         a. When they can't find authority for it in the teachings of
            Christ and/or His apostles
         b. For example, a clergy-laity system, burning of incense and
            use of instrumental music in worship, keeping the Sabbath, etc.
      2. But the O.T. was designed to be temporary, to fulfill a 
         specific purpose and as a covenant has been replaced by the
         New Covenant (i.e., the New Testament)
         a. It was given because of transgressions, till Christ should come - Ga 3:19
         b. For those under the Law (Israel), it was a tutor
            1) A tutor designed to lead them to Christ - Ga 3:24
            2) A tutor that has been taken away - Ga 3:25
         c. When those who were under the Law came to Christ...
            1) They became dead to the Law - Ro 7:4
            2) They were delivered from the Law - Ro 7:6
         d. As prophesied by Jeremiah, God has made a "new covenant" to
            replace the "first covenant" which is now obsolete - He 8:7-13
      3. In handling the issue of circumcision, the apostles 
         demonstrated that one cannot use the O.T. to teach something
         which they did not command
         a. Some sought to enforce circumcision and the Law upon 
            Gentile believers - Ac 15:1,6
         b. But the apostles, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit,
            were able to defuse the problem by simply stating they
            themselves "gave no such commandment" - Ac 15:22-29
      4. This is not to say the O.T. is not of value to Christians...
         a. It was written for our learning, to provide patience,
            comfort, and hope - Ro 15:4
         b. It was written for our admonition, that we not make similar
            mistakes - 1Co 10:6,11
         c. We just can't use it to enjoin religious practices upon
            others which the apostles' themselves did not teach!


1. Do we want to avoid being led astray?
   a. By "blind leaders of the blind"? - cf. Mt 15:14
   b. By "false teachers...who will secretly bring in destructive
      heresies"? - cf. 2 Pe 2:1

2. Then we need to know how to ascertain whether a religious doctrine
   or practice...
   a. Is from God or from men
   b. Is based upon what the apostles of Christ taught, or some other

3. The solution is simple, but requires effort on our part...
   a. We must "continue steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine" - Ac 2:42
   b. We must "search the scriptures daily" - Ac 17:11

Only then can we be sure that what we believe or someone teaches is
truly from God, and not from man!
 Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

eXTReMe Tracker

The Book of Mormon and the Ancient Evidence by Dewayne Bryant, Ph.D.



The Book of Mormon and the Ancient Evidence

by  Dewayne Bryant, Ph.D.

Mormonism began in 1820, when Joseph Smith, Jr. purportedly received a vision of two heavenly beings claiming that all churches had become corrupted and that their creeds were abominations. Smith’s divinely ordained duty was to restore the one true church. He claimed three years later an angel, named Moroni, paid him a visit, showing him the location of gold plates containing the true, eternal gospel. Written in “reformed Egyptian” hieroglyphs, this golden book contained the Book of Mormon, which Smith translated with a pair of magic spectacles. Seven years later in 1830, the Mormon church became a recognized entity for the first time.

The Mormons are a growing group which many people have labeled a “Christian denomination.” This is the longstanding position of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), and continues to be promoted today (Hickenbotham, 1995, p. 5). Unfortunately, Mormonism bears the hallmarks of a manmade religion, one of which is the reinvention and reinterpretation of an existing religion. Mormonism takes Christianity and reinterprets it. Mormonism’s divergences from true Christianity include: Jesus being Lucifer’s spiritual brother, the denial of the Trinity, and the belief that the faithful will one day become gods. The God of Mormonism is not the one true god of the Universe, but merely one god among many.

Smith once called the Book of Mormon “the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion” (Smith, 1902, 4:461). In the introduction of the Book of Mormon, Smith states that it is “the record of God’s dealings with the ancient inhabitants of the Americas,” which also contains “the fullness of the everlasting gospel.” Any religion centered on a scriptural foundation stands or falls on the accuracy of its sacred text. While the Bible has a wealth of evidence supporting its historical, chronological, and geographical accuracy, the Book of Mormon has been heavily criticized for its inaccuracies. Is the Book of Mormon divine revelation, or is it simply the invention of a gifted storyteller?

One of the problems that plagues the Mormon scriptures is the anachronistic portrayal of various animals in the New World. The most problematic is the portrayal of horses in the Americas in the Book of Mormon, where they appear frequently prior to the age of exploration (1 Nephi 18:25, et al.). Anthropologists are in near-universal agreement that horses had become extinct in the Americas until European explorers reintroduced them to the continent. Scientists have found evidence of horses in the Americas prior to and after the period of time covered by the Book of Mormon, but not during. In addition to a lack of fossil evidence, Bruce MacFaden says, "Their extinction is…suggested by the fact that no horses are known to have been depicted in pre-Columbian art…. Horses were reintroduced into the New World by the Spanish explorers during the sixteenth century" (MacFaden, 1992, p. 3). Janey Dohner notes that the horse was reintroduced to North America by Columbus on his second voyage, while Hernando de Soto reintroduced them to South America in 1539 (Dohner, 2001, p. 313).

Mormon author Diane Wirth dismisses this criticism and points to what she considers evidence of the presence of horses, although her best examples consist of a handful of poorly executed relief carvings and petroglyphs (Wirth, 1986, pp. 52-55). Wirth defends her point by drawing a parallel between the lack of evidence, particularly bone evidence, of horses in the Americas with the lack of evidence of lions in Palestine. She notes: “Today there are no so-called archaeological remains of lions in the land of Israel. Apparently not a bone has been left. Therefore, a lack of skeletal remains of an animal in a particular area does not necessarily mean that the animal was never there” (p. 56). Wirth is correct. If one were to rely purely on skeletal evidence, the existence of lions in Palestine would be nearly impossible to prove. But archaeologists have also discovered numerous reliefs depicting kings hunting lions, lion-shaped artifacts, and numerous references to lions in ancient texts. There is a wealth of evidence attesting to the existence of lions in ancient Israel. There is absolutely no parallel for the existence of horses in America prior to European exploration. This is not to say that the Book of Mormon is wrong because of a lack of evidence--which would be an argument from silence. Rather, it is simply to note that there is an inexplicable lack of evidence where it would be reasonably expected.

The lack of evidence of horses has prompted a shift in tactics on the part of Mormon apologists, who claim that the settlers in the New World would have called some other animal a “horse,” most likely the tapir. Tapirs have toes rather than hoofs and are pig-like in appearance, including a short, thick neck and stubby tail. They are also smaller than horses. It is highly unlikely that one could have been mistaken for the other--and if the Book of Mormon was inspired, such mistakes would not have been made.

Steel was also unknown in the New World prior to the arrival of European explorers, yet the Book of Mormon mentions the use of both iron and steel (2 Nephi 5:15; Ether 7:9). A particularly noteworthy reference concerns a military leader named Laban, who is described as having a steel sword with a gold hilt (1 Nephi 4:9). While New World peoples did have metallurgy, it lagged behind the technological developments in the ancient Near East. Studying evidence from South America, Purdue University archaeologist Kevin J. Vaughn notes: “Even though ancient Andean people smelted some metals, such as copper, they never smelted iron like they did in the Old World.... Metals were used for a variety of tools in the Old World, such as weapons, while in the Americas, metals were used as prestige goods for the wealthy elite” (Purdue University, 2008). People in the New World did make use of copper and precious metals like gold and silver, but scientists believe ironworking did not emerge until about A.D. 800.

Moroni supposedly showed Smith the location of gold plates, upon which were written the text of the Book of Mormon. Smith claimed it was written in “Reformed Egyptian.” The only problem here is that this language does not exist. “Reformed Egyptian” is not a language found in the ancient world. Ancient Egyptian had numerous dialects (Archaic, Old, Middle, Late, Demotic, and Coptic), but a “reformed” dialect was not one of them. Smith may have chosen Egyptian as his text because he was unaware that French scholar Jean Francois Champollion had recently deciphered the language (the first translation of the Rosetta Stone was not published until 1822). Until that time, hieroglyphs were mysterious and unknown. Although it is speculative to say, Smith may have thought that the language was unreadable and would remain so, and therefore believed his grand story would never be proven false.

Modern Egyptology has discredited Mormon scriptures such as the Book of Abraham, which depicts the patriarch’s journey to Egypt. His travels include nearly being sacrificed by an evil priest and later being honored by the pharaoh. The book was published with three facsimiles taken from an ancient papyrus, which was lost. Far from being inspired scripture, the Book of Abraham was shown to be a fraud years later when the papyrus was rediscovered. The book is based on a funerary papyrus depicting several scenes from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. In Facsimiles Nos. 1 and 3, Smith misidentifies virtually everything depicted in these scenes, demonstrating his attempts were nothing more than uneducated guesswork. He had virtually no familiarity with Hebrew or Egyptian names, and seemed to have made up names that sounded sufficiently biblical to be believable (although many of his spellings are impossible in biblical Hebrew, which exposes them as inventions as well). He guessed at the names of the pagan deities, getting every one of them incorrect. For instance, in Facsimile 1 he misidentified the deities on the canopic jars (which held the internal organs of the deceased) in the scene (from left to right) as Elkenah, Libnah, Mahmackrah, and Korash. The gods should have been identified as Qebesenuef, Duamutef, Hapi, and Imseti. It is not likely that he even knew that the objects depicted were canopic jars. He likely thought of them as idols, since he misidentified the scene as sacrificial rather than funerary in nature.

Why do so many Mormons maintain belief in these scriptures when they are so obviously false? As Charles Larson notes in his book …By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus: A New Look at the Joseph Smith Papyri, “[M]any Mormons are relatively uninformed of any controversy concerning the validity of the Book of Abraham; or if they become aware controversy exists, will tend to fall back on the trust they have in their system, and avoid further investigation” (Larsen, 1985, p. 161). The real problem is that the Mormon faith stresses belief even in the face of contradictory evidence. Some have advised their fellow Mormons to simply fall back on their faith. This is a key part of the Mormon belief system: believe in the Mormon scriptures and you will know them to be true–the sheep will recognize the voice of the shepherd. [NOTE: Of course, such an anti-logic stance contradicts the nature of God; see Miller, 2011.]

In addition to linguistic and historical evidence, the sciences have not been kind to Mormon beliefs. From the field of archaeology, nothing in the Book of Mormon has ever been discovered, though Smith painted a picture of vast civilizations with major urban centers and populations ranging in the millions (the Jaredites are a people group who lost two million soldiers in one war). At one point, some members of the LDS church claimed that the Smithsonian Institute had used the Book of Mormon as a scientific guide for locating archaeological sites. The Smithsonian adamantly denied this was the case in 1986. The National Geographic Society did the same in 1982. Similar claims issued by the LDS church prompted Mormon anthropologist Dee Green to say, “The first myth we need to eliminate is that Book of Mormon archaeology exists,” even conceding that 20 years of research “left us empty-handed” (Green, 1969, pp. 77-78).

Another area of concern is the origin story of the Native American Indians, who are claimed to be descendants of the Lamanites. According to Mormon doctrine, these Jewish migrants supposedly traveled to the Americas in ancient times. These travelers “are the principal ancestors of the American Indians,” according to the introduction to the Book of Mormon. In an essay titled, “Lamanite Genesis, Genealogy, and Genetics,” anthropologist Thomas Murphy challenges this idea, stating:

So far, DNA research lends no support to the traditional Mormon beliefs about the origins of Native Americans. Instead, genetic data have confirmed that migrations from Asia are the primary source of American Indian origins. This research has substantiated already-existing archaeological, cultural, linguistic, and biological evidence (Murphy, 2002, p. 48).

Murphy was nearly excommunicated in 2003 by the president of the Lynwood LDS Stake for his work [NOTE: a stake is the rough equivalent of a diocese in the Roman Catholic Church.] Only popular support for Murphy prevented Latimer from following through with the excommunication (Kennedy, 2003). Latimer postponed the disciplinary hearing indefinitely, in part, for fear of negative publicity.

Murphy is not alone. Two Mormon biologists, D. Jeffrey Meldrum and Trent D. Stephens of Idaho State University, agree with Murphy’s conclusions. In the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, both men agreed in the article “Who are the Children of Lehi?” that

the data accumulated to date indicate that 99.6 percent of Native American genetic markers studied so far exhibit Siberian connections…. There has been little if any evidence seriously considered by the mainstream, scientific community that would indicate a Middle East origin, or any other source of origin, for the majority of contemporary Native Americans (Meldrum and Stephens, 2003, p. 41).

In an issue of Dialogue, the oldest independent journal for Mormon studies (that is, not owned or operated by the LDS Church), Yale anthropologist Michael D. Coe, who specializes in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica studies, summarizes some of the most troubling issues:

There is an inherent improbability in specific items that are mentioned in the Book of Mormon as having been brought to the New World by Jaredites and/or Nephites. Among these are the horse...the chariot, wheat, barley, and metallurgy (true metallurgy based upon smelting and casting being no earlier in Mesoamerica than about 800 A.D.). The picture of this hemisphere between 2,000 B.C. and A.D. 421 presented in the book has little to do with the early Indian cultures as we know them, in spite of much wishful thinking.

There is also little doubt in the minds of non-Mormon scholars that Joseph Smith had no ability whatsoever to read “Reformed Egyptian” or any other kind of hieroglyphs. The papyri translated as the Book of Abraham in the Pearl of Great Price are, in the opinion of qualified Egyptologists, a series of fragments of the Egyptian “Book of the Dead,” something which Smith could not have known since Champollion’s decipherment of the Egyptian script had not yet been published (Coe, 1973, p. 42).

These are just a few problems besetting the Mormon church. If the Book of Mormon is the “most correct” book ever written, why does it contain so many mistakes? Why so many contradictions with history, archaeology, and ancient languages? Scientists, historians, archaeologists, and linguists have exposed the Mormon scriptures as the invention of a marvelously fertile imagination. So marvelous, in fact, that it has taken a century and a half to prove it conclusively false. Convincing though it was to Smith’s contemporaries, this grand old story has proven to be no match for scientific investigation. [For additional analysis of the Book of Mormon, see Miller, 2009.]


Coe, Michael D. (1973), “Mormons and Archaeology: An Outside View,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 8[2]:40-48, Summer.

Dohner, Janet Vorwald (2001), The Encyclopedia of Historic and Endangered Livestock and Poultry Breeds (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press).

Green, Dee F. (1969), “Book of Mormon Archaeology: The Myths and the Alternatives,” Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, 8[2]:77-78, Summer.

Hickenbotham, Michael W. (1995), Answering Challenging Mormon Questions (Bountiful, UT: Horizons).

Kennedy, John W. (2003), “Mormon Scholar Under Fire,” Christianity Today, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2003/march/14.24.html.

Larsen, Charles M. (1985), …By his Own Hand Upon Papyrus: A New Look at the Joseph Smith Papyri (Grand Rapids, MI: Institute for Religious Research).

MacFaden, Bruce J. (1992), Fossil Horses: Systematics, Paleobiology, and Evolution of the Family Equidae (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

Meldrum, D. Jeffrey and Trent D. Stephens (2003), “Who are the Children of Lehi?” Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, 12[1]:38-51.

Miller, Dave (2009), "Is The Book of Mormon From God? Parts I and II," Reason & Revelation, 29[9]:66-71,73-79, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=617.

Miller, Dave (2011), "Is Christianity Logical? (Part I)," Reason & Revelation, 31[6]:50-59, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=977.

Murphy, Thomas W. (2002), “Lamanite Genesis, Genealogy, and Genetics” in American Apocrypha: Essays on the Book of Mormon, ed. Dan Vogel and Brent Lee Metcalfe (Salt Lake City, UT: Signature Books), pp. 47-77.

Purdue University (2008), “Archaeologist ‘Strikes Gold’ with Finds of Ancient Nasca Iron Ore Mine in Peru,” February 3, http://www.sciencedaily.com­/releases/2008/01/080129125405.htm.

Smith, Joseph, Jr. (1902), History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ed. B.H. Roberts (Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), second edition.

Wirth, Diane E. (1986), A Challenge to the Critics: Scholarly Evidences of the Book of Mormon (Bountiful, UT: Horizons).

The Bible's Teaching on Baptism: Contradictory or Complementary? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.



The Bible's Teaching on Baptism: Contradictory or Complementary?

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

According to numerous skeptics, the Bible is inconsistent regarding whether or not water baptism is necessary (e.g., Drange, 1996; Morgan, 2003; cf. Wells, 2001). In Dennis McKinsey’s book, Biblical Errancy (2000), he lists several verses that teach the need for one to be baptized in order to be saved (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 3:21; etc.), but then he lists four verses (John 4:2; 1 Corinthians 1:14,16,17) which allegedly teach that baptism “is not a necessity” (p. 61). According to these men, Jesus and Paul were confused regarding the purpose of baptism.

There is no doubt that Jesus and His apostles taught the essentiality of being immersed in water for salvation. After Jesus commissioned His apostles to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature,” He stated that “he who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:15-16; cf. Matthew 28:19). The Jews who had murdered Christ, and to whom Peter spoke on the Day of Pentecost when he ushered in the Christian age, were told: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38). Before becoming a Christian, Saul of Tarsus was commanded to “arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). The biblical solution to the problem of soul-damning sin is that the person who has heard the Gospel, who has believed its message, who has repented of past sins, and who has confessed Christ as Lord must then—in order to receive remission (forgiveness) of sins—be baptized. [The English word “baptize” is a transliteration of the Greek word baptizo, meaning to immerse, dip, plunge beneath, or submerge (Thayer, 1958, p. 94).] According to Peter, “baptism,” corresponding to Noah’s salvation through water, “now saves us…(not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21). Although baptism is no less, nor more, important than any other of God’s commands regarding what to do to be saved, the New Testament clearly teaches that water immersion is the point at which a person is saved by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

If it is the case then that baptism is essential for salvation, then why did the apostle John write: “Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), He left Judea and departed again to Galilee” (John 4:1-3, emp. added)? And why did the apostle Paul write to the church at Corinth: “I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name…. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 1:14-17, emp. added)? Do these statements indicate that baptism is not necessary for a person to be saved as skeptics allege? No, they do not.

First, John did not indicate that Jesus thought baptism was unnecessary; he merely stated the fact that Jesus did not personally do the baptizing; rather, His disciples did (John 4:2). The phrase in 4:1 regarding Jesus “baptizing” more disciples than John is simply a figure of speech where a person is represented as doing something when, in fact, he merely supplies the means for doing it. For example, Joseph indicated on one occasion that his brothers sold him into Egypt (Genesis 45:4-5; cf. Acts 7:9), when actually they sold him to the Ishmaelites (who then sold him into Egypt). This is a well-known principle in law—a person who acts through another to break the law (e.g., paying someone to commit murder) is deemed by authorities to be guilty of breaking the law himself. Similarly, Jesus did not personally baptize anyone. But, His teaching and influence caused it to be done. Jesus, the subject, is mentioned, but it is the circumstance of His influence that is intended. His teaching was responsible for people being baptized. Thus, this passage actually implies that Jesus commanded that His listeners be baptized. It in no way contradicts teachings found elsewhere in the Bible.

Second, Paul’s statements in his letter to the church at Corinth must be taken in their proper context in order to understand their true meaning. In 1 Corinthians 1:10-17, Paul was dealing with the division that was plaguing the Corinthian Christians. He had heard of the controversy in Corinth, and begged them to stand united, and resolve their differences.

Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment. For it has been declared to me concerning you, my brethren, by those of Chloe’s household, that there are contentions among you. Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?

I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect (1 Corinthians 1:10-17).

Later, Paul added:

For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men? For when one says, “I am of Paul,” and another, “I am of Apollos,” are you not carnal? Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers through whom you believed, as the Lord gave to each one? I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase (1 Corinthians 3:3-7).

When a person reads 1 Corinthians 1:14-17 in view of the problem of division in Corinth that Paul was addressing in chapter one and throughout this letter, he or she has a better understanding of Paul’s statements regarding baptism. He was not indicating that baptism was unnecessary, but that people should not glory in the one who baptizes them. Some of the Corinthians were putting more emphasis on who baptized them, than on the one body of Christ to which a person is added when he or she is baptized (cf. Acts 2:41,47; Ephesians 4:4). Paul was thankful that he did not personally baptize any more Corinthians than he did, lest they boast in his name, rather than in the name of Christ (1:15). Likely, this is the same reason why “Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples.” As Albert Barnes surmised: “[I]f he [Jesus—EL] had baptized, it might have made unhappy divisions among his followers: those might have considered themselves most worthy or honoured who had been baptized by him” (1956, p. 213, emp. in orig.). Paul understood that the fewer people he personally baptized, the less likely they were to rejoice in his name. [In 1 Corinthians 1:13, Paul implied that the only way to be saved is to be baptized into the name of Christ, saying, “Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?”] Paul’s desire was for converts to tie themselves to the Savior, and not to himself. He knew that “there is salvation in no one else” but Jesus; “for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Paul concerned himself with preaching, and, like Jesus, left others to do the baptizing.

When Paul stated: “Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel,” he meant that preaching was his main work, and that others could immerse the converts. He did not mean by this statement that baptism is unimportant, but that the baptizer is inconsequential. Consider this: If Paul did not baptize, but preached, and, if others baptized those who heard Paul’s teachings, what can we infer about the content of Paul’s teachings? The truth is, at some point, he must have instructed the unsaved to be baptized (which is exactly what occurred in Corinth—read Acts 18:1-11; 1 Corinthians 6:11). Similar to how we logically infer from the Ethiopian eunuch’s baptism (Acts 8:36-39), that when Philip “preached Jesus to him” (8:35), he informed the eunuch of the essentiality of baptism, we can truthfully affirm that Paul taught that baptism is essential for salvation. The allegation that Paul and Jesus ever considered baptism non-essential, simply is unfounded.


Barnes, Albert (1956), Notes on the Old and New Testaments: Luke and John (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).

Drange, Theodore M. (1996), “The Argument from the Bible,” [On-line], URL: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/theodore_drange/bible.html.

McKinsey, C. Dennis (2000), Biblical Errancy (Amherst, NY: Prometheus).

Morgan, Donald (2003), “Biblical Inconsistencies,” [On-line], URL: http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/donald_morgan/inconsistencies.shtml.

Thayer, J.H. (1958 reprint), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark).

Wells, Steve (2001), Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, [On-line], URL: http://www.Skepticsannotatedbible.com.

The Bible Versus the Book of Mormon by Eric Lyons, M.Min.



The Bible Versus the Book of Mormon

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Similar to the insecure person who hangs around the rich and famous for the sole reason of establishing himself, the Book of Mormon has attempted to make a name for itself by “cozying up to” the Bible. The very first line in the “Introduction” to the Mormons’ revered text states: “The Book of Mormon is a volume of holy scripture comparable to the Bible.” Even the Book of Mormon’s subtitle (“Another Testament of Jesus Christ”—emp. added) lends credibility to the Bible. Obviously, the Mormons have attempted to give credence to their scripture by comparing it to the Bible. Furthermore, a crucial element of the Mormon religion found in their Article of Faith #8 says: “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God” (emp. added). If both the Bible and the Book of Mormon are inspired by God, then reason demands that they must never contradict one another. No book from God’s hand will contain factual mistakes because He does not make mistakes. By definition, He is omniscient and perfect in all His ways (cf. Psalm 139:1-6; 1 John 3:20). The truth is, however, they do contradict one another.

The Book of Mormon contains numerous passages that contradict what the Bible says. The following examples are conspicuous instances of such contradictions.

  • Rather than God confusing “the language of all the earth” at the tower of Babel as the Bible records (Genesis 11:9), the Book of Mormon contends that the language of Jared, his brother, as well as their friends and family members “were not confounded” (Ether 1:33-37).
  • Contrary to the Bible prophecy concerning the Lord’s birth in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), and the fulfillment of that prophecy in Matthew 2:1, the Book of Mormon reads: “And behold, he (Jesus) shall be born of Mary at Jerusalem” (Alma 7:10, parenthetical comment and emp. added). The writer of the Book of Mormon was simply wrong.
  • The Bible tells us that at the crucifixion of Jesus, darkness covered the land for three hours (Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44). However, the Book of Mormon states three different times that there was darkness “for the space of three days” (Helaman 14:20,27; 3 Nephi 8:3, emp. added). Of course, this is a big difference.
  • Finally, whereas the Book of Mormon has people wearing the name Christian in about 73 B.C. (Alma 46:13, 15), the Bible clearly reveals that the disciples of Christ “were called Christians first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26, emp. added). This was in approximately A.D. 40, and thus represents a difference of over 100 years. Which account are people to believe? After all, according to Mormons, both books are inspired.

The fact that there are numerous disagreements between the Bible and the Book of Mormon does not disparage the Bible in any way. In fact, a Bible believer would expect there to be contradictions between the two, since the Bible never gives any legitimacy to the Book of Mormon, but actually condemns it (cf. Galatians 1:6-9, Revelation 22:18-19, 2 Peter 1:3, and Jude 3). On the other hand, the Book of Mormon easily is exposed as fiction when compared to and contrasted with the Bible, which Mormons claim is “the word of God.”

Simply put, if both the Bible and the Book of Mormon were inspired by God, then they never would contradict each other. However, since they do disagree with one another (in a number of places), the Book of Mormon is obviously a fraud, written by con men, not inspired men.

How To See Through The Darkness by Ken Weliever



How To See Through The Darkness

Norma Jean and I are blessed to be “sheltering in place” in the Smoky Mountains. Since my April meetings have been postponed and my current preaching appointments cancelled we’re going to remain here for the month of April.

As I write in the early morning darkness I look out my balcony window and it’s pitch black. There’s a beautiful mountain view, but I can’t see it. Yesterday we awoke to rain. The clouds and fog covered the mountains, so we could hardly see.

Later in the morning when the clouds lifted I looked and exclaimed, “Norma Jean, look, there’s snow on the top the mountain.” It obviously snowed during the night. But I couldn’t see it. Not until the weather cleared a little bit.

It occurred me that it’s a metaphor for our current situation. Right now we’re living in one of the darkest times most of us have ever experienced. The cloud of COVID-19 is limiting our sight.

If you are home-bound, you can only see what is around you. Of course, you can turn on the TV and see the latest numbers of those who’ve contracted COVID-19. You learn how many have died. You hear about the latest orders from your governor or the President about social distancing. And find out from the experts predicting that the cases of the Coronavirus haven’t yet reached their peak, as well as the resulting deaths.

Focusing on all of that can be dark. Discouraging. And depressing. However, when “the eyes of our understanding are enlightened” (Eph. 1:18), we can see the unseen. We need 20/20 Vision. Spiritually speaking. We need to restore our focus. We need to look with the eye of faith.

Just like the mountain is there, even though I can’t see it, God is there. Jesus is Lord. And the Holy Spirit dwells in my heart through faith.

Yesterday, Norma Jean and were reading Psalm 143 as a part of our daily Bible reading. David is appealing to the Lord for guidance and deliverance from his enemy. He’s in desperate danger. Whether it speaks of the time when he was chased by Saul, hiding in a cave, or fleeing Jerusalem during his son Absolom’s rebellion, we don’t know.

But this was a dark time for David. He’s hurting. Dismayed. And distressed. You can feel his anguish when he cries:

The enemy has persecuted my soul;
He has crushed my life to the ground;
He has made me dwell in darkness,
Like those who have long been dead.
Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me;
My heart within me is distressed.

Ever felt that way? Overwhelmed? Crushed? In darkness? Distressed?

In addition to the present distress of this unseen, spreading virus, some are facing financial difficulties. Others sickness. Some have lost loved ones. We can’t go anywhere. Not even to a public worship assembly. It’s tough.

But like David, we need to “remember the days of old.” Remember your blessings. God’s goodness. His grace. Mercy. And love.

We need to meditate on all that He has done. Not just in our lives. But in the lives of others. The spiritual blessings we enjoy, even in difficult times.

We need to ponder the work of His hands. Go outside. Talk a walk. See the sun? The moon? The stars? The beauty of nature? It’s a vivid reminder, in the words of A. W. Discus, “When we behold the wonders of creation, The flow’rs that bloom, the raindrops as they fall; The spacious skies and life’s perpetuation, We cannot doubt that God controlled it all.” And He still is.

In the Psalm David pled, “Hear my prayer, O Lord.” “Give ear.” And “answer me.” Like David, we need to believe that God hears us. Feels our pain. And will respond to our cries.

We see David’s faith, hope and reliance on the Lord’s providential care when he prayed, “Deliver me.” “Teach me.” And “revive me.” He believed that God was more powerful than his enemy. And trusted Him to relieve his affliction. Like the Psalmist, we too, need to open our eyes to God’s greatness. Grace. And merciful deliverance from our affliction.

Well, guess what? As I finish writing, the darkness has dissipated. The fog has dissolved. There are no clouds covering the mountains this morning. The sun is shining.

I’m reminded that this current crisis and present distress will soon be lifted.

Open your eyes to see the unseen. Have faith. Live in hope. Trust God. And be faithful.

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

THE RAPTURE by David Vaughn Elliott



by David Vaughn Elliott

   They tell us planes will fall out of the sky. Automobiles will careen and crash. Surgeries will be halted mid-way. Communications systems will be in shambles. Husbands will frantically search for their wives. Why? Because all believers instantly and mysteriously vanished. In spite of such chaos, they tell us life on earth will continue for years. They call it the rapture.  

    Some people emphasize that the word "rapture" is not found in the Bible. This is true; but it is not the real problem. First Thessalonians 4:17 says that believers "shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord." "Caught up." The dictionary gives one meaning of rapture as "the carrying of a person to another place or sphere of existence." If by "rapture" one simply means that Christians will be carried up to be with Christ, then there is little objection to the word "rapture." 


    However, "rapture," as used by religious teachers today, means far more than the simple definition given above. Indeed, there is a whole body of doctrine wrapped up in today's word "rapture."  

    One obvious problem with the modern rapture theory is the portraying of dramatic scenes of plane crashes, missing babies and all such. There is not one verse in the Bible that hints at such a scenario. No verse teaches that after the "rapture," regular life will continue in this world. One of the most cited texts, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, is totally silent about conditions on earth when the saints are lifted up.  

    Another frequently cited text is Matthew 24:37-42. But did Jesus have the modern rapture scenario in mind? Let the context decide. Starting just 5 verses earlier, Jesus said, "Heaven and earth will pass away... but as the days of Noah [were]... the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then two [men] will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left." Jesus' return will be like Noah's time. The flood was the end of that old world. Either you were safe in the ark or you perished under the wrath of God. That is how it will be when Jesus returns.  

    The context of "one will be taken and the other left" is "as the days of Noah [were], so also will the coming of the Son of Man be." The rapture will be like Noah's time. Did Noah mysteriously disappear? When Noah entered the ark, did the world continue with normal daily life? We all know better. "The world [that] then existed perished" (2 Peter 3:6).  

    Jesus did not have the modern rapture doctrine in mind. Rather, He said that when He returns, the earth will pass away.  


    If the popular rapture theory were correct, Jesus would have used totally different examples. Jesus would have said, "As the days of Enoch were," "as the days of Elijah were." Righteous Enoch disappeared out of this world and the world continued on. Elijah's case is even more striking. After the whirlwind took him up into heaven, 50 men went searching for him for three days. Now there is the flavor of today's rapture doctrine! There is only one problem. Jesus never said, "as the days of Elijah were"! Jesus said, "as the days of Noah [were]."  

    Jesus never said, "As the days of Enoch were." However, He did say, "Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot... it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed [them] all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed" (Luke 17:28-30).

    The comparisons that Jesus made are with Lot and Noah. Both involved the immediate destruction of the wicked, while the righteous were saved. Both canceled out any possibility of second chances. Both were the end. The case of Sodom, of course, was not the end of the world; but it certainly was the end of Sodom and Gomorrah. Those cities have never been found. Those people never lived long enough to wonder what happened to Lot. There were no chariot wrecks or search parties. God simply blotted them off the face of the earth with fire and brimstone. Jesus said His coming would be like that. 


    The "secret rapture" theory uses as a proof the statement that Jesus will come as a thief. Yes, but what does this mean? Figures of speech can be tricky. Both Jesus and Satan are likened to lions. A red flag goes up: "Interpret with caution." Jesus is called both a lion and a lamb. Another red flag. We dare not wring every possible meaning out of any figure of speech. To do so is to make the Bible a plaything for our every imagination.  

    How do thieves come? Consider two ideas. A thief may come and go secretly, without being detected at the moment. On the other hand, a thief may come openly, but suddenly, without warning. Which of these two ideas does the Bible teach regarding Jesus' coming? If the figure were never explained in the Bible, your guess would be as good as mine.  

    Out of six New Testament texts that use this figure, only one does not state which meaning is intended. In the other five, the idea is always lack of warning. Secrecy is never an issue. Example: "If the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect" (Luke 12:39,40). The message is clear: Jesus will come as a thief, when you least expect Him. Be ready at all times. 

    Notice 2 Peter 3:10: "The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up." "Thief... great noise... earth... burned up." Hardly secret. It is the end of the world!  

    No Bible text hints that "coming as a thief" contains the idea of secrecy. No Bible text hints that Jesus' coming will be hidden from the eyes and understanding of the masses. When Jesus comes, there will be no secrecy and no second chances. Eternity will have arrived. Everyone will know it. 


    The well-known text that speaks specifically of being "caught up" (raptured) makes it clear that it is anything but a covert operation. "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive [and] remain shall be caught up" (1 Thessalonians 4:16,17). Shout! Voice of an archangel! Trumpet of God! Jesus coming certainly will not be secret.  

    In fact, Jesus specifically warned us not to believe those people who claim His return is a private, secret, hidden affair. "Therefore if they say to you, 'Look, He is in the desert!' do not go out; [or] 'Look, [He] [is] in the inner rooms!' do not believe [it]. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be" (Matthew 24:26,27).  

    If someone tries to explain to you that Jesus has come again, don't believe it. If he tries to convince you that Jesus came in 1914, don't believe him. If he tries to convince you that Jesus will secretly rapture away the believers and the world will not know what happened, don't believe him. No TV newsperson will have to tell anybody of the return of Jesus. Neither will any self-appointed prophet have to explain it to anybody when Jesus returns. It will be like the lightning from the east to the west. All will see for themselves. Everyone will know.  


    Today's rapture theory says that Jesus is going to return to earth two more times: once before and once after "the tribulation." Some refer to the supposed two future events as "the rapture," followed by "the second coming." Others prefer to teach "two phases" to the "second" coming. None seem willing to openly admit that they really believe in: a "second" and "third" coming. 

    Various arguments are used to sustain the concept of two future comings. For example, it is said that two comings are required because the Word says that Jesus will come "for the saints" and also that He will come "with the saints." They say "for the saints" refers to the next time He comes, to take Christians to heaven. They say that "with the saints" refers to seven years later when He returns with those same saints. 

    Although no text uses the exact expression "for the saints," there is no problem here. All believers have as their hope that Jesus will return to receive us unto Himself.  

    But 1 Thessalonians 3:13 talks about "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ WITH all His saints." Jude 14 also says, "Behold, the Lord comes WITH ten thousands of His saints" (upper case emphasis supplied). The problem is to understand what coming "WITH His saints" means. Does it mean that Jesus will first come to get His saints and then bring them back with him seven years later? Or, is there some other explanation?  

    With the Souls of the Dead Saints. Some believers find in 1 Thessalonians 4:14 the explanation of Jesus coming "with" the saints. "Even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus." They believe Jesus will come to earth bringing with him the souls of the departed saints in order to unite those souls with their bodies in the resurrection. 

    Some, however, object to this view of "bring." The Thessalonians text does not say that "Jesus will bring with Him to earth." It says, "God will bring with Him." "Bring" depends on the viewpoint involved. Jesus, not the Father, returns to earth. The Father will bring the resurrected saints with Jesus to heaven. Just like John 14:3: "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, [there] you may be also." Both expressions--"bring" and "receive"--are from the viewpoint of heaven. 

    With the Holy Angels. This may be a better explanation of "with the saints." In 2 Thessalonians 1:7, Paul speaks of "when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels." Mark 8:38 says, "when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels." Clearly Jesus will come with the angels and the angels are "holy." 

    For the benefit of "the common man," I seldom appeal to the original Greek. In this case, however, it is especially helpful for English readers. Spanish, by the way, requires no Greek explanation here, because the Spanish closely follows the Greek. The Greek word "hagios" is always translated into Spanish "santo(s)." But in English, it is sometimes translated "saint(s)" and sometimes "holy." In other words, the two English words, "saint" and "holy" come from just one Greek word. 

    Angels are "holy." Thus, they are saints (same word in the Greek). Therefore, when Scripture says that Jesus will come WITH the saints--the holy ones--we have a book-chapter-and-verse clarification that this may well refer to His holy angels. 

    It is debatable whether Jesus will come "with the souls of the dead saints." It is not debatable whether Jesus will come "with the holy angels." Whichever view seems the best, Jesus' coming "for" and "with" the saints in no way necessitates two more comings. "For" and "with" easily harmonize with just one future second coming of Christ.  

    No verse of Scripture says that Jesus will come a third time, bringing "with" Him human saints whom he came "for" some seven years earlier. The Bible clearly says of Jesus, in Hebrews 9:28, that "He will appear a second time." No verse says he will appear a third time.  


    According to the rapture theory, there will be several future resurrections of the body from the grave. They claim 1 Thessalonians 4:16 teaches that Christians will be raised long before the wicked are. Paul indeed wrote that "the dead in Christ will rise first." But, "first" what?  

    If I tell you, out of the clear blue sky, "I am going to the mall first," you have no clue about where I will go next. But put some context to it. Such as, "Are you going to the post office?" "Yes, but I am going to the mall first." Now "first" has meaning.  

    So with Paul's text. Do not try to guess what is second unless you look at the context. "The dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive [and] remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds." "First. Then... " Paul is not talking about dead saints and dead sinners. He is talking about dead saints and live saints. He is saying that before the live saints are caught up in the clouds, the dead saints will first be raised. Nothing whatsoever is said about two resurrections. 

    Jesus did speak of two resurrections, but not in reference to time. He spoke of the condition of two groups. Some participate in "the resurrection of life," while others experience "the resurrection of condemnation." However, these two resurrections will take place at the same time. "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; upper case emphasis supplied). 

    Revelation 20, on the other hand, does speak of "the first resurrection." However, since no text speaks of a "second resurrection," care must be exercised in determining the identity of the "first." (Space does not permit a full discussion of Revelation 20:1-7. Watch for future article(s) on the millennium.) Suffice it now to point out the following: 

    1) Revelation is highly figurative. Who takes literally the dragon, the key, the chain or the seal? 

    2) Futurists believe that the resurrection of Revelation 20 will occur after "the tribulation." According to them, that is seven years after the resurrection of "the rapture." Therefore, by their own doctrine, this "first" resurrection is actually the second. 

    3) A better explanation seems to be found in New Testament first principles. "Buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were RAISED with [Him] through faith in the working of God... If then you were RAISED with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is" (Colossians 2:12; 3:1; upper case emphasis supplied). "Raised"--past tense. See also Romans 6. Just as conversion is "a new birth," so is it also "a death, burial and resurrection." For the Christian, this is the first resurrection. 


    The rapture theory holds that "the day of the Lord" (or "day of Christ") is neither the Second Coming nor the Third Coming. Rather, they say, it is something in between the Second and Third. As in many other matters, they lean heavily on Old Testament usage to uphold their claim. In the New Testament, however, how did the apostle Peter use the term? "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up" (2 Peter 3:10). Clearly, "the day of the Lord" to Peter was the end of the world. 

    Follow Peter's argument throughout chapter 3. He warns of "scoffers" who will mock Jesus' return by saying: "Where is the promise of His coming?" Peter replies by arguing that these men "willfully forget" all about the flood in Noah's day. Then Peter affirms that the earth will next be consumed by fire on "the day of judgment." Peter further says that "The Lord is not slack concerning [His] promise." What promise? In the context (verse 4), it's "the promise of His coming."  

    Peter continues (verse 10): "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise." Since this is so, we should be prepared for "the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat." You see, Peter builds his argument about the "coming" of the Lord by discussing "the day of the Lord," which is the end of the world. 


    The expression "the last day" appears six times in Scripture, all in the Gospel of John. Four times in the sixth chapter, Jesus says of the believer, "I will raise him up at the last day" (John 6:40,44,54, and with slight variation in verse 39). In 11:24, Martha affirms her belief in this truth: "I know that he [Lazarus] will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." The resurrection of the righteous clearly will take place "at the last day." 

    According to the modern "rapture" doctrine, the resurrection of the righteous is followed by the tribulation and the millennium. Only after that, so the theory goes, will there be a resurrection and judgement of the wicked. 

    However, the remaining "last day" verse in John denies such a scenario. Again Jesus is speaking--this time, not of the righteous but of the wicked. He says, "He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him--the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day" (John 12:48). Thus Jesus taught that both the resurrection of the righteous and the judgment of the wicked would take place in "the last day." 

    The parable of the tares in Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43, teaches the same truth. Notice in verse 38 that the field is the world. This parable is not a contradiction of Jesus' teaching on church discipline. It is a parable about the entire world. It is a parable about good people and bad people living together until the end: "the harvest is the end of the age" (verse 39). 

    "Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, 'First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn' " (verse 30). Saint and sinner are in this world together until the end. I do not understand it all; but did you notice who is taken out first? The popular rapture theory says, "First gather the wheat." However, Jesus said, "First gather together the tares."  

    We may not understand it all, nor may we be able to explain the exact sequence and timing of all the events. Nevertheless, if the parable of the tares teaches anything, it teaches that the righteous and the wicked live together until the end of the world. At that time, the wicked are cast into "the furnace of fire." Their judgement has come; they are finished forever. It is truly "the last day." 


    According to the modern rapture theory, Jesus' next coming will just be the beginning. According to the theory, most of the book of Revelation and large amounts of both Old and New Testament prophecies cannot be fulfilled until after the rapture. They say the rapture is just the beginning of at least 1007 years of world history. 

    A careful look at Scripture, however, presents a totally different picture. Jesus' next coming (there is only one more coming) will be the end of this world, the end of history, the end of time, the end of "life as we know it," the end of the wicked living unpunished, the end of tears and death, the end of the battle between God and Satan, the end of the antichrist, the end of opportunity to get right with God. 

    On the other hand, His return will be the beginning--the beginning of eternity. "Prepare to meet your God!" "Watch and pray!" 

    (Scripture in the preceding article is taken from the New King James Version. Copyright (c) 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.)