Jan van der Watt: The Rapture Error

Jan van der Watt - the rapture1

The following video is an extract from a second in a series of two made by Stephan Joubert’s Ekerk on the theme, “The Mark of the Beast and other problems in Revelation.” (12 May 2021). Problems? The word “problem” and its plural “problems” never once appear in the Bible (KJV version of the Bible). And guess what? Neither do the Afrikaans words “probleem” and its plural “probleme” appear in the Afrikaans translation of the Bible. The only problem is that these charlatans want you to believe there are problems in Revelation and that they are the only ones who can solve these “problems” because they are the professors, doctors and what-nots who study theology.

Ironically, Ferdie Mulder relates the following true story.

“In the 1930s, a missionary asked an African girl of about six or seven years of age a most pertinent question: ‘Who is Jesus Christ?’ With a smile on her face, she responded cheerfully: ‘He is my Saviour and He lives within my heart.’ As it happens, the missionary had previously studied at the University of Berlin with Professor Adolf von Harnack, one of the most renowned theologians and church historians of the twentieth century. The missionary recalled that one day in class Professor von Harnack was addressing the same question: ‘Who is Jesus Christ?’ Harnack replied that Christ was the greatest man who ever lived. But this liberal theologian would not acknowledge that Christ was the divine Son of God who had died on the cross for our salvation and triumphed over death through the resurrection. In one sense, the young African girl understood the Gospel far better than the brilliant professor with all his theological knowledge.

Thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Magister Theologiae (New Testament) in the Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, of whom Jan van der Watt was the promoter

This is also applicable to eschatology. Most professors and doctors of high academic repute have no clue what the difference is between Israel and the church, the rapture and the Second Advent of Christ, and most of all between literalness and symbolism. Whenever they cannot explain certain core doctrines in Scripture, they either sweep it under the rug attaching to it the tag of symbolism or they shrug it off as a “problem” only they can solve with their academic prowess. In the meantime, it is the little lambs who have a childlike faith in Jesus who understand these so-called “problems” far better than what they do.

The Rapture Jan van der Watt’s video on the rapture


A brief interjection

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-E0dzZ0Ccgw

My rebuttal of Jan van der Watt’s rapture errors was taken down and this is the reason why YouTube deleted it.

Copyright-strike

For those of you who want to watch Stephan Joubert’s and Jan van der Watt’s mangling of the Gospel in a non-international language (Afrikaans), follow this link.

Die merk van die dier, en ander probleme in Openbaring. Deel 2 [12 Mei 2021]

(The mark of the beast, and other problems in Revelation. Part 2 [12th May 2021])

YouTube seems to have been intimidated by one of the three gentlemen mentioned in my article, or maybe by all three of them, who obviously do not like my rebuttal of Jan van der Watt’s video, and moreover do not know South Africa’s copyright laws. I did some research of my own and discovered the following interesting facts on the “fair use” clause in international law.

More than 40 countries with over one-third of the world’s population have fair use or fair dealing provisions in their copyright laws. These countries are in all regions of the world and at all levels of development. The broad diffusion of fair use and fair dealing indicates that there is no basis for preventing the more widespread adoption of these doctrines, with the benefits their flexibility brings to authors, publishers, consumers, technology companies, libraries, museums, educational institutions, and governments.

The Fair Use/Fair Dealing Handbook
Jonathan Band
Jonathan Gerafi
Electronic copy available at: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2333863

International fair use laws seem to grant YouTube the legal right to vacillate between American laws and other countries’ laws. It seems to have switched from a brilliant American bill to a “shambolic” and an “abominable” law in South Africa Indeed, the drafting of copyright laws has been a bone of contention since the Apartheid era.

Marydee Ojala reported on 1 September 2020

Copyright Law Revisions Contested in South Africa

1 September 2020

Marydee Ojala

In South Africa, copyright law has become both contentious and political. The Copyright Amendment Bill (B13-2017) was introduced in the National Assembly on 1 May 2017. The intent was to modernize the Copyright Act, which has been in force since 1978. Not only was this written before the internet became such a powerful force, it was during Apartheid. Clearly, it needs to be brought up to date. How, exactly to do that is at the heart of the contentiousness of the current process.

After prolonged debate, the National Assembly passed the bill on 5 December 2018 and the National Council of Provinces passed it on 28 March 2019, when it went to President Cyril Ramaphosa. It languished on Ramaphosa’s desk until 6 June 2020, when Ramaphosa returned it to the National Assembly. It is now being deliberated again in the National Assembly.

Ramaphosa cited the following constitutional concerns:

Incorrect tagging: The Bill should be tagged as 76 not 75 since it affects the provinces due to its effect on cultural and trade related matters.

Retrospective and arbitrary deprivation of property: The retrospective provisions could deprive copyright owners without sufficient reason.

Fair use: The framers of the Bill failed to afford the public the opportunity to comment on the elements of Fair Use in the Bill.

Source

The element of fair use has not even been properly discussed in public forums, let alone the government, and Stephan Joubert and YouTube have already charged me with copyright infringements? Marydee Ojala continues to write:

Summarizing South African librarians’ position,  Denise R. Nicholson, Scholarly Communications Librarian, University of Witwatersrand, decried Ramaphosa’s rejection of the Bill, writing, ” Without these exceptions, the library and information sectors and education and research sectors will not be able to carry out their statutory mandates in a digital world, nor will they be able to collect and preserve our cultural heritage and documentary records for future generations.  

Urging the adoption of the current Bill, Sean Flynn, Lecturer, American University, Washington College of law, refuted infojustice.org/archives/42499, point by point, Ramaphosa’s concerns.

Sean Flynn, Peter Jaszi, and Mike Carroll, American University Washington College of Law clearly condoned learned professors of the University of Stellenbosh’s concerns, as follows.

On Wednesday (5th Decemberr 2018) the South African National Assembly voted on the Copyright Amendment Bill, which includes a new “fair use” right. Learned professors at the University of Stellenbosch have taken to calling the bill “shambolic”, and “an abomination.” It is certainly time for a little light to go with the heat.

Source

I do not know what horse Stephan Joubert is riding – the “shambolic horse” or “an abomination horse” – but it is as clear as daylight that Joubert’s YouTube-backed charge that I have broken the copyright laws of South Africa by using an English-overdubbed version of the last section on the rapture of “Die Merk van die dier, en ander probleme in Openbaring, Deel 2 (12 Mei 2021), is not about any copyright law, bur sheer malice, hatred, and meanness of the worst kind. In fact, it reeks of Jacob Prasch the railer.

I have been following and exposing Stephan Joubert’s shenanigans for many years. One of the most shocking and blasphemous statements he has ever made, was when he claimed that there is truth in all religions, even atheism.

“And he (Rob Bell) says you should engage the culture. You should go and listen to the Buddhists. So, go listen to what those guys are saying. Then Christians faint, because they do not listen properly to what Rob Bell is saying. He is not saying become like them, but go and read their stuff. Then you will understand why they are so important. They may also have truth. Truth (of which Jesus Christ is the essence) is not only found in Christianity. You can find truth in Judaism. You can find truth in atheism. You can find truth by whoever. God’s general revelation is a bit wider, but you say ‘Jesus is Lord’. That is what you are aiming at with such a movement.”

From a sermon delivered on 1 March 2009 at the Kemptonkruin Dutch Reformed Church

Stephan Joubert is not breaking man’s copyright laws. He is breaking God’s laws. If, as Stephan Joubert and his cohorts claim, they are proclaiming the truth, why are they so afraid to have it heralded worldwide in an international language (English) instead of in a language that reaches a very small number of people in South Africa (Afrikaans)? Truth has no fear of adversary or opposition. In fact, Jesus Christ commanded his followers, of whom Stephan Joubert claims to be one, to preach the Gospel (Good News; the Truth) to every nation, without any copyright attached to it.

Paul wrote:

For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me. What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel. (1 Corinthians 9:17-18).

Instead, these words are applicable to Stephan Joubert and Jan van der Watt

 Your words have been strong and hard against Me, says the Lord. Yet you say, What have we spoken against You? (Malachi 3:13).

A list of Jan van der Watt‘s errors:

1) Historical facts are untrustworthy

Luke, one of Jesus’ disciples and a medical doctor said, “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be made known and brought to light.” (Luke 8: 17). The most credible and reliable way to shine the spotlight on hidden things, particularly infamous lies, is history. You cannot argue with well-documented history, no matter how hard you try. Despite biblical and historical evidence, Jan van der Watt and Stephan Joubert dare to refute historical facts when Jan van der Watt casually says, “This Rapture is a very young theory. For eighteen hundred years there never was a single word said about the Rapture, ANYWHERE.”

So, let us for a moment page through the history books to see whether Oom Jan van der Watt’s statement that for eighteen hundred years there never was a single word said or written about the rapture, is correct. Looky, looky here, Oom Professor Jan van der Watt. This was written by Ephraem of Nisibis (306-373) in the 4th Century AD.

“We ought to understand thoroughly therefore, my brothers, what is imminent or overhanging. Already there have been hunger and plagues, violent movements of nations and signs, which have been predicted by the Lord, they have already been fulfilled, and there is not other which remains, except the advent of the wicked one in the completion of the Roman kingdom. Why therefore are we occupied with worldly business, and why is our mind held fixed on the lusts of the world or the anxieties of the ages? Why therefore do we not reject every care of earthly actions and prepare ourselves for the meeting of the Lord Christ, so that He may draw us from the confusion, which overwhelms the world? Believe you me, dearest brothers, because the coming of the Lord is nigh, believe you me, because the end of the world is at hand, believe me, because it is the very last time. Or do you not believe unless you see it with your eyes? See to it that this sentence be not fulfilled among you of the prophet who declares: “Woe to those who desire to see the Day of the Lord! For all saints and the Elect of the Lord are gathered together before the tribulation which is to about to come and are taken to the Lord, in order that they may not see at any time the confusion which overwhelms the world because of our sins.”

http://o.b5z.net/i/u/2167316/f/Ephraem-OntheLastTimestheAnt.pdf and https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1031&context=pretrib_arch

His statement “Woe to those who desire to see the Day of the Lord” apparently points to those who do not believe in a Pretribulation Rapture and desire to be purified by the fires of persecution during the seven-year tribulation. True believers have no desire to be purified by fire or by any other means of their sins because the precious blood of Christ Jesus has already purified them of all unrighteousness. And, by the way, this has always been one of the main reasons why most anti-Pretribulation protagonists claim that the Bride of Christ must endure the seven-year tribulation, or at least the first 3 ½ years thereof – to purify the church.

One of the most evocative descriptions of a Pretribulation Rapture as an imminent escape from the divine devastation of the earth during the seven-year tribulation is that of The Shepherd of Hermas (a Christian literary work of the late first half of the second century).

You have escaped from great tribulation on account of your faith, and because you did not doubt in the presence of such a beast. Go, therefore, and tell the elect of the Lord His mighty deeds, and say to them that this beast is a type of the great tribulation that is coming. If then ye prepare yourselves, and repent with all your heart, and turn to the Lord, it will be possible for you to escape it, if your heart be pure and spotless, and ye spend the rest of the days of your life in serving the Lord blamelessly.

http://web.oru.edu/current_students/class_pages/grtheo/mmankins/DrHebert/M.A.%20Thesis/MA(Th)%20Thesis.CH-3d%20Direct%20Ref%20to%20Rapture%20by%20Fathers.pdf

Paul Benware notes:

Peter Jurieu in his book Approaching Deliverance of the Church (1687) taught that Christ would come in the air to rapture the saints and return to heaven before the battle of Armageddon. He spoke of a secret Rapture prior to His coming in glory and judgment at Armageddon.

Philip Soddridge’s commentary on the New Testament (1738) and John Gill’s commentary on the New Testament (1748) both use the term rapture and speak of it as imminent. It is clear that these men believed that this coming will precede Christ’s descent to the earth and the time of judgment. The purpose was to preserve believers from the time of judgment.

James Macknight (1763) and Thomas Scott (1792) taught that the righteous will be carried to heaven, where they will be secure until the time of judgment is over.

2) The Rapture is a Theory (a System of unproven Ideas)

One of the easiest ways to dismiss something as untrue is to call it a myth or a theory. However, if you want to properly mythologize or theorize anything so that people may believe you, it is incumbent on the theorizer to get his facts in order, especially regarding the proper dating of the myth’s origin. And this is precisely where Professor Jan van der Watt stepped in the mythical Winnie the Pooh’s pooh, or is it just plain cow or horse pooh? At any rate, his lie emitted something rather malodorous for a person who calls himself a professor. I’m sorry, but I couldn’t help noticing Professor Jan van der Watt hurriedly touching his nose as if to see whether it was growing into a Pinchin Pinocchio compulsive lying nose when he said that the rapture doctrine in Scripture is a theory.

3) Juggling dates

Lo and behold, Professor Jan van der Watt, without the slightest hint of being red-faced with shame, switched dates so that it might look as though Margaret MacDonald had her dream in 1827, three years before John Nelson Darby began systematizing the rapture. Jan van der Watt callously said that Margaret McDonald dreamt that she was caught up into heaven without calling it a rapture in 1827 and that John Nelson Darby when he heard of her dream, began to search the Scriptures to find some biblical evidence for his theory of a rapture. J.N. Darby claims to have first understood his view of the rapture as the result of Bible study during his convalescence from December 1826 until January 1827.

Wikipedia reports that “[t]he first account of MacDonald’s utterance was published in 1840 in Norton’s Memoirs pp. 171–76, and the second account in 1861 in ‘The Restoration of Apostles and Prophets’ pp. 15–18. The two accounts were conflated by MacPherson in his book ‘The Incredible Cover-up’ pp. 151–54.” Even if Darby had seen or read MacDonald’s first account of her dream in 1840, which is highly unlikely, it was fourteen years after he had already begun to study and carefully systematize the rapture. Moreover, he would never have been inspired by her dream to search the Scriptures in an effort to validate his findings on the rapture. Wikipedia affirms that Darby would not have borrowed an idea from a source that he clearly thought was demonic.

It is highly doubtful that Darby who studied law and knew everything about forensic and circumstantial evidence and had a powerful sense of discernment to thoroughly search out things before taking them for granted would rely on a dream of a charismatic mystic, let alone a fifteen-year-old girl. A desire for charismatic gifts of the Holy Spirit such as dreams and visions, the speaking in tongues, and divine healing, spearheaded by a few preachers in Scotland in 1826 and 1827, triggered many charismatics to practice their alleged charismatic gifts. Wikipedia reports,

Isabella and Mary Campbell of the parish of Rosneath manifested charismatic experiences such as speaking in tongues. Around 1830, miraculous healings were reported through James Campbell, first of his sister Margaret MacDonald and then of Mary Campbell (through James’s letter to Mary). Shortly thereafter, James and George MacDonald manifested the speaking and interpretations of tongues, and soon others followed suit in prayer meetings. These charismatic experiences garnered major national attention. Many came to see and investigate these events. Some, such as Edward Irving and Henry Drummond, regarded these events as genuine displays from the Holy Spirit. Others, including John Nelson Darby and Benjamin Wills Newton, whom the Plymouth Brethren sent on their behalf to investigate, came to the conclusion that these displays were demonic.

https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Margaret_MacDonald_(visionary)

Why would a professor in New Testament studies and a distinguished fellow of the Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands, be pleased to suggest that the rapture is not biblical but a demonic brew of a man who was enthralled with a dream of a fifteen-year-old child? Well, for starters, Professor Jan van der Watt, like most enemies of a Pretribulation Rapture, will do anything — and I mean anything — even lying with his eyes wide open to destroy one of the most wondrous doctrines in the Bible, the Pretribulation Rapture. Wikipedia continues to report,

Dave MacPherson built upon Tregelles’s accusation and argued that the source for Darby’s rapture was from an Margaret MacDonald’s 1830 vision of the end times.

However, scholars think there are major obstacles that render these accusations untenable. It is clear that Darby regarded the 1830 charismatic manifestations as demonic and not of God. Darby would not have borrowed an idea from a source that he clearly thought was demonic. Also, Darby had already written out his pretribulation rapture views in January 1827, 3 years prior to the 1830 events and any MacDonald utterance. When MacDonald’s utterance is read closely, her statements appear to present a posttribulationist scenario (“being the fiery trial which is to try us” and “for the purging and purifying of the real members of the body of Jesus”). Confusion on this point was enhanced because while MacDonald’s vision as first published in 1840 describes a post-tribulation view of the rapture, a version published in 1861 lacked two important passages that appear to present a post-tribulation view: “This is the fiery trial which is to try us. – It will be for the purging and purifying of the real members of the body of Jesus” and “The trial of the Church is from Antichrist. It is by being filled with the Spirit that we shall be kept”. For these and other reasons, dispensational scholars consider MacPherson’s alleged connection to dispensationalism as untenable.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_MacDonald_(visionary)

4) Jan van der Watt and Stephan Joubert: Two Radboud University fellows cross swords with Wikipedia

Stephan Joubert  and Jan van der Watt
Stephan Joubert

It is not the first time a well-educated Radboud University fellow crosses swords with the well-documented Wikipedia articles on all sorts of subjects. The Wikipedia articles always have many footnotes to substantiate their research. Jan van der Watt’s and Stephan Joubert’s research is never based on solid systematic and scientific research but merely on conjectures, denials, and outright lies, as we have already seen how Jan van der Watt twists dates to undergird his lies.

His Radboud buddy, Stephan Joubert, used the very same tactic when he had an interview with Dr. Ena Bromley, President and Chief Scientific Officer BioStat Solutions Inc in America on 22nd December 2020. During their discussion whether the Covid-19 vaccine was the mark of the beast, as some Christians wrongly believe it to be, and whether some vaccines in the past were made from baby fetuses, both denied that it was. A quick read of an article on Wikipedia about the production of vaccines proved that both were wrong, and, in fact, lying to their viewers.

5) The Thessalonian Christians were a bunch of ill-advised patsies

One of the strangest paradoxes in the circle of anti-Pretribulation fundies is that they believe in the literal and bodily resurrection of believers, like unto that of Jesus Christ, but when the subject of the Rapture is raised, they seem to think that the Thessalonian Christians were a bunch of ill-advised patsies who believed in the resurrection but did not understand the full extent thereof.

Allow me to explain. As you may recall, Jan van der Watt says exactly what Paul teaches in 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18. Why shouldn’t he when it is so clear that “the dead in Christ shall rise first” and “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” (verses 16 and 17). 

And then with a flurry of well-chosen “educated” jargon which he picked up during his Professorship at the Catholic University of Radboud in Nijmegen, Netherlands, he decrees with robust self-assurance, “Hey dudes, it’s got nothing to do with a rapture and everything with the resurrection of the dead so that they may not be left behind in their graves when Jesus Christ returns.”

You see, according to Professor Jan, Paul was not postulating a Pretribulation Rapture which teaches that believers will NOT experience God’s wrath during the seven-year tribulation (Revelation 3: 17; 1 Thessalonians 5:9); he was merely comforting the Thessalonian believers that their deceased family members who were all dead and gone, covered in chunks of earth in their graves, would not be left behind when Jesus returns.

Indeed, Professor van der Watt heartily endorses every single word Paul penned down in 1 Thessalonian 4. He even lifted his arms and hands above his head to graphically portray the scene of the resurrected deceased saints being raised from the dead, and then lifted into the air together with the in-the-twinkling-of an-eye-transformed-living-saints to meet Jesus, nogal in “the air.” Isn’t that just one of the grooviest paradoxes imaginable? With his lips, he denied the rapture but with his uplifted hands and arms above his head he at least endorsed some kind of rapture.

Could it be that Professor Jan is a Post-Tribulation rapturist? Aha! Come on, oom Jan, that’s the least you can do. Admit that you are a Post-Tribulation Rapture buffy just like Margaret MacDonald was a Posttrribulationist. He himself suggested it with his gloriously raised arms and hands in the air, not so? If so, then Jan van der Watt is much more of a Margaret MacDonald fan than John Nelson Darby, which, of course, he never was, because, like oom Jan, Margaret MacDonald was a PostTribulationist and never-ever a Pretribulationist.

6) Jan van der Watt: An arm- and hand- dropping exercise in contexts

Anyhow, let’s get back to the basics which are contexts, contexts, and once more, contexts. Jan van der Watt makes much ado about contexts, which of course is the right thing to do in proper biblical hermeneutics. Nonetheless, his appeal in favour of proper contextual Bible studies lapses into an arm- and hand-dropping exercise when he ham-handedly states that there are no other contexts in Scripture that support a rapture. Jan will do well to follow his fellow researcher at Radboud University Stephan Joubert’s advice to read entire chapters and even Bible books through and not only to quick-read a verse here and a verse there.

Had he listened to Stephan Joubert’s advice, van der Watt would have noticed that the context of 1 Thessalonians 4 and 5 is salvation, and not merely an effort to prove to the Thessalonian saints that their deceased family members would not be left behind. Now, before we start wading into deeper waters, it is fitting to note that the word “sōtēria” can either refer to the attainment or obtainment of a morally or physically safe rescue haven. For example, in 1 Thessalonians 4: 14 the words “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him,” cannot possibly refer to a physically obtained safe haven in heaven. The clause “sleep in Jesus” can only be a spiritual obtainment of salvation. In fact, the words “those who sleep in Jesus will God bring with him” prove without any doubt that the saints who had died are safely kept incorporeally (without physical bodies) in heaven until they return with Christ at his Parousia. For the deceased to come with God (Jesus Christ) they must have been taken to God in heaven beforehand at the time of their demise. That is rather obvious, isn’t it, Professor Jan?

7) The Thessalonian Christians were ignorant about their deceased brethren reposing in their graves

Did the Thessalonian saints know that their deceased brethren and family members were already in heaven with God incorporeally? Surely, they must have been familiar with Paul’s great statement in 2 Corinthians 5: 8 that when a believer is absent from his body he is immediately in the presence of the Lord. Therefore, the concern they had for their deceased brethren and family could not have been, as Jan van der Watt explained, due to a misunderstanding that they would be left behind when the living saints are caught up into heaven. Their concern was that the deceased would miss the rapture which they, at that time under the influence of false teachers, believed that only the living saints would be raptured. Hence their concern for the deceased saints. It is abundantly clear that this must have been the case because no true believer, including those in Thessalonica, would have thought that a saint’s physical body is the real essence of his being and that its reposing in a tomb (death) indicated that the believer in toto would be left behind when Jesus returns. No saint in his right mind would believe such a thing unless they did not believe in the resurrection.

And it is for this very reason that Paul writes “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.” (1 Thessalonians 4:14). Paul’s use of the conditional “if” does NOT imply that he doubted the Thessalonians saints’ faith in the resurrection. The fact that he included himself in the “we believe” shows that the Thessalonians like himself firmly believed in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Walfoord and Zuck writes:

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are among the best-attested facts of history. Since Christians know/knew these events took place, they can be equally certain, Paul said, that the souls of believers who have died will return of Christ when He comes for His living saints. The prophecy of the Rapture is as sure to be fulfilled as the prophecies of Christ’s death and resurrection.

If you doubt the biblical definition of the Rapture, as do Jan van der Watt, Stephan Joubert, and Riekert Botha, your understanding of the resurrection will also be faulty because both are inseparable. The three mentioned gentlemen may protest and affirm that they believe in the ascension of the deceased and living saints when Christ returns at his Second Advent but deny that it has anything to do with a rapture.

8) The meaning of “in the air” and “on the earth” are of no significance to the doctrine of Christ’s return, according to Jan van der Watt  

Their notion of a Second Coming without a prevenient Pretribulation Rapture poses many problems. For example, what do they make of Zechariah 14: 4 which decidedly states that Christ’s feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives which is before Jerusalem in the East, not to mention the angel’s comforting words in Acts 1: 11 when Jesus ascended into heaven, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This [same] Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will return in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” If, as the angel said, He will return in just the same way as He had ascended into heaven, with his feet touching the Mount of Olives from whence He ascended into heaven, we cannot possibly associate it with His return in 1 Thessalonians 4: 14.

In Acts 1: 11, while standing firmly on terra firma, they literally saw his feet leaving terra firma on the Mount of Olives and ascending into heaven. This is a vast difference from the scene in 1 Thessalonians 4: 14 where the dead in Christ shall be raised first and the living saints shall be changed in the twinkling of an eye (1 Corinthians 15: 51-52) to meet the Lord in the air together with the resurrected deceased saints. The general argument to disprove a Pretribulation Rapture in 1 Thessalonians 4, is that the risen deceased saints and the transformed living saints are going to meet Jesus Christ in the air and then immediately return with Him to judge the nations. The following quote is a typical example of this viewpoint.  It comes from the lips of Reverend Rob Visser of a Reformed Church in Holland.

The Lord Jesus returns at his Second Coming from heaven. Then everyone who lived on the earth is raised from the dead. The people who are still alive on earth are changed. Then the believers of all time ascend from earth to meet the Lord Jesus in the air. They welcome their God and Saviour and immediately return to the earth where He will judge everyone and create a new earth.

Well, to say the least, this not only cancels out the prophet Zechariah and his prophecy in Zechariah 14: 4; it also makes a mockery of Acts 1: 11. The Mount of Olives is definitely not somewhere in the air and neither did those who witnessed His Ascension into heaven float somewhere in the air when the angel told them that “This [same] Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will return in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” Their feet were firmly standing on the Mount of Olives when they saw his feet rise slowly from the very same Mount into heaven, which means that their feet will again stand firmly on the earth when He returns to place his feet firmly on the Mount of Olives, East of Jerusalem at his Second Coming to the earth (i.e. not the Pretribulation Rapture).

This brings us again to 1 Thessalonians chapters 4 and 5 so that we may fit the entire context of the rapture into its true perspective. Earlier we saw that the word “sōtēria” can either refer to the attainment or obtainment of a morally or physically safe rescue haven. The first pertains to a spiritual (not seen) haven when the repentant lost sinner’s soul is redeemed and receives full remission for all his/her sins and placed or baptized into the body of Christ. This wondrous divine phenomenon is also described as deliverance from out of the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of his love (Colossians 1:13). This preliminary rescue haven precedes the final deliverance of the saints’ spirit, soul, and body at the Rapture when the resurrected and living saints obtain complete salvation by and through our Lord Jesus Christ to be like Him for all eternity (1 Thessalonians 5:9). This is called salvation unto the uttermost (Hebrews 7: 25), and will only be accomplished at the Pretribulation Rapture when a saint’s spirit, soul, and body shall be united to be like unto that of Jesus Christ’s resurrected body, soul, and spirit.

Bear in mind that Paul wrote his letter to believers who had already been saved in Thessalonica. Verse 9 of chapter 5 can, therefore, not be a reference to the redemption of the soul from sin and unrighteousness.

8) Jan van der Watt and Stephan Joubert: Two of the most unbeatable deniers on earth

At one stage in his video, Jan van der Watt says that he does not want to weary his listeners with a dissertation on the difference between Premillennialism and Postmillennialism. Nevertheless, he then continues to present his audience with a whole bunch of denials to prove that the Pretribulation Rapture is a farce, and, in fact, that the rapture, in general, is untrue even though his own exposition of 1 Thessalonian 4 is typical of the Posttribulation position. Posttribulationalism is rarely based on biblically verified contextual and exegetical facts, and mostly on a set of well-chosen denials. These are:

  • A denial of dispensationalism.
  • A denial of the distinction between the church and Israel aka Replacement Theology – (Stephan Joubert has stylishly climbed the heights of renunciation with his assertion that the twelve tribes of Israel no longer exist).
  • A denial of the nature and purpose of the seven-year tribulation. Isaiah 26:9 exquisitely sums up the purpose when it says, “when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.”
  • A denial of the distinctions between the rapture and the Second Advent, making them one and the same event.
  • A denial of the doctrine of imminence which teaches that He may come at any time without having to be announced by a lot of signs. His Second Coming will be preceded by a host of signs so that everyone will know that his return is near.
  • A denial of any future fulfilment of Daniel 9: 24-27 claiming that it had already been fulfilled in the past.
  • A denial of Jesus Christ’s promise in John 14: 1-3, when He told his disciples in John 14 that He was going to prepare a place for them in heaven (His Father’s house) so that they may be where He is. They were obviously still on earth when He made this promise which proves how He will NOT return to earth when He meets his bride in the air. Believers will Not meet Him in the air, only to make a U-turn back to earth as a courteous welcoming gesture. If it were true that He and his bride are going to return to earth to judge the nations, He would never have said that He was going to take her to his Father’s house. Posttribulation rapturists don’t have a clue where God the Father’s house is, and neither does anyone else, but this we do know; it is not on earth to which the Posttribulation protagonists believe they would return with Him to earth after they had met him half-way in the air. As was said earlier, they were firmly on terra firma when He made this promise to them. Why then would He want to return with them to the earth after He had met them in the air? What kind of comfort or consolation is it to tell them “Don’t let my departure to my father’s house trouble your hearts? I will return, and when I do, I will meet you in the air and immediately return to earth with you to judge the nations. If it were not so, I would have told you so.” Did He tell them so? Claiming to be wise, they (the Post-tribulatrion adherents) became fools [professing to be smart, they made simpletons of themselves].” (Romans 1:22).
  • The Post-tribulational position must of necessity attribute Bible passages that apply to Israel to the church to uphold their strange doctrines. (Matthew 13; Matthew 24-25; Revelation 4:19).

9) A fatal error

One of the weirdest enigmas in theological institutions worldwide is that many professors, doctors, and other learned men believe in the literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, and consequently in the literal, bodily resurrection of all deceased believers, but fail to see that the resurrection took on a whole new meaning when Paul disclosed, for the very first time, the Pretribulation Rapture in 1 Corinthians 15: 50-58 and 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18. To illustrate this unfortunate lack of consistency in their belief in and defense of a literal, bodily resurrection, I would like to quote Jan van der Watt’s reason for his rejection of the rapture. He said:

In 1 Thessalonians 4, there were believers who heard Paul’s message that the Lord was going to fetch them, and then some of them died. And they did not think the deceased would be taken up because they were dead and gone, and already buried. And then they asked Paul what would happen with those who died; they are family. Are they doomed to stay behind? They also believed.

And then Paul said, God is going to take everyone, but to take those who are already in their graves, they must be raised from the dead and taken together with the living to Jesus. So, it is not about a rapture. It’s about people who are dead and who won’t be left behind by God, but together with us, or rather, the people who will still be alive when Christ returns, who will be taken to heaven.

Did you spot Jan van der Watt’s fatal error? He categorically states that the dead in Christ will be raised first and then, together with the living saints, be taken up into heaven by Jesus. Van der Watt knows and acknowledges that flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:50), and yet fails to mention the unique rapture element of “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” transformation of the living saints as a prerequisite to enter the Kingdom of God. As the promotor of Ferdie Mulder’s thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Magister Theologiae (New Testament) in the Faculty of Theology, University of Pretoria, Jan van der Watt affirmed this fact on page vi.

To merely claim that the resurrected deceased saints and the living saints will be taken up together into heaven when Jesus returns, is to overlook that flesh and blood cannot enter the Kingdom of heaven, the reason being that the core element of the rapture, the “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye,” is either willfully or inadvertently disregarded. And this, to define it more precisely, is the very essence of Paul’s assertion that it is a mystery (1 Corinthians 15: 51). A mystery (musterion) is a doctrine that was not known previously until God, in His sovereign will, decided to reveal it through his chosen vessel, who, in this instance, was Paul of Tarsus.

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Tom Lessing (Discerning the World)

Tom Lessing is the author of the above article. Discerning the World is an internet Christian Ministry based in Johannesburg South Africa. Tom Lessing and Deborah Ellish both own Discerning the World. For more information see the About this Website page below the comments section.

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