The Debate Trap
Vol: 27 Issue: 16 Thursday, August 16, 2018
Have you ever noticed that every Christian/atheist debate begins with the Christian on the defense? Such a debate consists entirely of challenges to the Christian to ‘prove’ this part of Scripture, or to ‘prove’ that God exists.
I’ve yet to hear of a debate in which the Christian demands that the atheist to ‘prove’ his point because it is an impossibly unfair demand. How does one ‘prove’ an argument that rests on nothing?
The atheist’s argument is that nothing created everything that exists. It isn’t too hard to ‘prove’ everything that exists. The fact of existence proves existence.
But we live in a material universe. Everything can exist here. But nothing can’t. No matter what an atheist trots out as proof, it is only ‘proof’ in that it casts doubt on your position. It doesn’t prove his.
His argument rests on the existence of nothing, which is an oxymoron of cosmic proportions. Nothing is the absence of existence.
Nothing cannot exist, because if it existed, it wouldn’t be nothing. Nothing cannot exist asnothing, since by definition it is the absence of existence. That isn’t just fun with words — it is the reason why the atheist must argue against God.
Because God exists. Nothing doesn’t. It can’t. So their entire argument rests on proving your argument wrong.
Accepting such a challenge is a case of walking into a trap of one’s own making. While the atheist’s arsenal is as vast as the universe, yours is not.
Your opponent can draw from science, astronomy, math, geography, history, supposition and hearsay to bolster his argument.
There is no framework or system around which to attack or defend the creative power of nothing. While your opponent’s arsenal is limitless, your defense is confined within the boundaries of Scripture.
Your opponent is free to use Scripture to attack Scripture — “What kind of loving God would order someone’s death for something as trivial as not keeping the Sabbath?” (Exodus 35:2)
But you are limited to explaining why the New Testament system is different than the Old Testament system.
In short, you can’t just pull something out of left field and dare them to prove it isn’t in the Bible and call it an honest debate.
But they can. Because they don’t have to prove anything.
They just have to disprove you.
I see from our forums that I’ve still left some questions unanswered from our discussion on Dispensationalism. Dispensationalism is a systematic understanding of Scripture that requires a systematic framework in which to function.
Within that system, everything flows in an orderly fashion, each element dependent upon the rest. Whether an event takes place during the Dispensation of Grace or during the Dispensation of Judgment is critical to its understanding.
I’ve used the example in Revelation 13:7:
“And it was given unto him [the False Prophet] to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.”
This is not possible during the Dispensation of Grace. During the Dispensation of Grace,
“Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1st John 4:4)
Who is He that is in me? That would be the Holy Spirit, no? Who is he that is in the world? That would the Satan, the enemy.
During the Tribulation, somebody gives the False Prophet the power to ‘overcome’ the saints. And not just overcome them, but have POWER over them. What changed? Did the Holy Spirit become subordinate to Satan?
If He that is in me is greater, then He can’t be overcome and overpowered by Satan. And since Jesus promised to come for me before He would leave me Comfortless, it stands to reason that if He isn’t there, neither am I.
If there is no systematic understanding of how the various prophecies interlock, it is like trying to construct a building without a blueprint. You might have all the necessary materials, but the finished product will be all over the place.
More often than not the debates seem to follow the same pattern that I outlined in the beginning of this briefing. The Pre-Wrath and Post-Trib arguments consist more of attacks on elements of Pretribulationism than mounting a case for their own view.
So I try to avoid the debates — people that want to debate generally don’t want answers to questions. They want to win the debate. And if I didn’t already believe what I teach was the truth, I wouldn’t teach it. So debating it seems pointless.
There was a good question in the forums about the chronology of Mark 13:27 that seems to suggest the gathering of the elect that takes place at the end of the Tribulation is the Rapture.
But it cannot be the Rapture. It takes place at the end, after Jesus comes with power and great glory. And these elect are gathered by the angels.
At the Rapture, “the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout and with the voice of the archangel, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. . . .
He doesn’t send His angels to gather the Church — He comes for His Bride Himself.
But there is a gathering of the elect at the 2nd Coming. He sends His angels to gather the nations from the four corners of the earth which will be divided into the ‘sheep’ on His right hand and the ‘goat’ nations on His left.
“Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34)
Another question has to do with the Church of Smyrna suffering persecution for ten days signifies the Church must undergo judgment. Not so, The Church of Smyrna was a real period of Church history (100-325).
There were ten early periods of persecution of Christianity under the ten Persecutors – the Emperors Nero, Domitian, Trajan, Marcus Aurelius, Septimus Severus, Maximus, Decius, Valerian, Diocletian and Galerius.
Another question dealt with the Church at Philadelphia being kept from the hour of temptation that is going to come upon those that dwell upon the earth.
“Please explain what is meant by the hour of testing that the other churches are destined to go through.”
Jesus referenced the “hour of temptation” that was going to come upon those that dwell upon the earth. That doesn’t include the Church. The word ‘temptation’ (pierasmos) means ‘discipline’. The Church is not under discipline — it is under Grace.
Those to face the discipline of the Tribulation are not the Philadelphians of the 1800’s or the Smyrnans of AD 325 or any other part of the Church — they are those that dwell upon the earth after the Rapture.
The reference to the Church at Philadelphia does not exclude the rest of the Churches.
The phrase, “that dwell upon the earth” is used to describe the people that rejoice over the death of the Two Witnesses. (Revelation 11:10)
It is used to describe those that worship the beast, whose names are not found in the Book of Life. (Revelation 13:8)
It is NEVER used of the Church.
There is but one Rapture of the Church. The dead in Christ are raised first. These are not the O.T saints — they are not the ‘dead in Christ’. Then those living saints are caught up together with them.
The Rapture is not the same as ‘resurrection’. There are several resurrections, Jesus, the dead at the Crucifixion, the Two Witnesses, the OT saints, the Tribulation Martyrs . . . but they are notRaptured.
The Bible is specific in the order of resurrection.
”For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at His coming. “
The O.T. saints receive their resurrected bodies at the end of the Tribulation. Daniel was told that his people would be resurrected, some to everlasting life, others to everlasting shame and contempt.
Those resurrected to everlasting life appear in Revelation 20. The rest don’t make an appearance until the Great White Throne Judgment at the end of the Millennium.
Job confidently proclaimed:
“I know my Redeemer liveth and that He shall stand at the latter day upon the earth, and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.” (Job 19:25-26)
“Thy dead men shall live, together with My dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.” (Isaiah 26:19)
The last resurrection is the Great White Throne. That is the second death and it occurs after the Millennium.
There is a rhyme and reason and pattern to Bible prophecy that follows the same systematic theology from Genesis 1:1 to the conclusion of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.
It is of no private interpretation, it is there for all to see. The New Testament mentions the dispensations four times as in Ephesians 3:2:
“If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward.”
But without specific mention, it is clear that the Bible is a progressive revelation from God sub-divided by dispensation according to each new revelation. While new revelation does not cancel previous revelation, it sometimes fulfills it.
Jesus did not cancel the Law, He fulfilled it. And therefore in this Dispensation, we needn’t worry about being killed for not keeping the Sabbath.
The Dispensation of Grace is a parenthetical period in the history of God’s people that opened with Jesus ascending into heaven as His Apostles gazed upward into heaven. It concludes just as definitely and in exactly the same way, as the angels standing by prophesied.
“For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
“Wherefore COMFORT one another with these words.” (1st Thessalonians 4:16-18)