Prophecy Update Newsletter
IN TODAY'S NEWSLETTER...
Cause and Effect: Proving Which Rapture is Correct - By Paul Kocourek -
This writing is to examine the main viewpoints on when the Rapture occurs with regard to the time of the final seven years of human history, before Jesus Christ returns in the Second Coming. These final seven years are technically the 70th Week of the Seventy Weeks prophecy in Daniel chapter 9, also known as The Tribulation or the "time of Jacob's trouble."
A quick understanding of what follows is that we will be using the logic of cause-and-effect, which is how our entire universe operates. For example, when we see "this" cause, then we also will see "that" effect. This cause-and-effect also works to help determine when the Rapture occurs in relation to the time of the Tribulation. There are four main viewpoints:
1) Pre-Trib (the Rapture happens before the Tribulation)
2) Mid-Trib (the Rapture happens at the middle of the Tribulation)
3) Pre-Wrath (the Rapture happens after the middle but before the end)
4) Post-Trib (the Rapture happens at the end of the Tribulation)
The time of the happening of the Rapture in relation to the seven years has limited possibilities. It either happens BEFORE, DURING, or AFTER. There are, after all, only so many choices, and the above four are the main ones.
Applying cause-and-effect to these four viewpoints will determine which viewpoint is correct, and which others are not. By the logic of cause-and-effect, if a certain Rapture viewpoint were true, then it would cause an effect which we would see. If that Rapture viewpoint - as a "cause" - SHOULD produce a certain "effect," but doesn't, then it shows the Rapture viewpoint in question never happened, and therefore is incorrect and is disproved. Put another way, if a given Rapture viewpoint were true, then we expect to see certain results from it having happened. If we don't see those results, then it shows that the particular Rapture viewpoint is wrong because it didn't happen.
The Post-Trib Rapture is easily disproved by cause-and-effect.
When the Rapture occurs, it is not merely Christ snatching His believers off the Earth. It is also the time of the resurrection for His believers. We know from the most famous Rapture passage that first the dead in Christ are raised (i.e. those in the graves), and then Christ seizes with irresistible force all those believers who are yet still alive.
"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" (1 Thess. 4:16-17).
In a parallel passage, the Apostle Paul denotes an important clue as to how many of those believers in the grave would be raised:
"Behold, I shew you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed" (1 Cor. 15:51-52).
Q: How many of the dead in Christ are raised?
A: All ("we shall all be changed")
Q: When does this resurrection happen?
A: Up in the sky before Jesus touches down on the Earth ("in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air")
Now, let us move on to the moments happening AFTER Jesus has come down from the sky and has touched down on Earth. According to the Post-Trib view, by this point in time, the Rapture will have already happened while Jesus was in the sky ("in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air") BEFORE He landed on Earth on the Mount of Olives, specifically:
"And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives" (Zechariah 14:4a).
The idea that the Post-Trib Rapture happens at the Second Coming (Revelation 19:11-21) is shattered by a verse that follows His return to Earth.
"And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years" (Rev 20:4).
This verse is talking about people who had been killed during the Tribulation, "which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands."
These same people are raised from the dead AFTER Jesus has already come down from the sky and touched down on the Mount of Olives.
Why is this a problem for the Post-Trib view? Here is the cause-and-effect. Because if the Rapture had happened Post-Trib, while Jesus was in the sky, and all His believers met Him in the clouds in the air, then there can be NO believers still in the ground to be raised AFTER Jesus has already returned. The Rapture would not have left ANY Tribulation believers still in the ground. "We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed."
Yet the Scripture tells us very plainly and clearly that there ARE Tribulation believers in the ground who are then raised from the dead; and so this proves that the Post-Trib Rapture DID NOT HAPPEN. In other words, a Post-Trib Rapture would have caused the effect of all dead Tribulation saints being raised from the dead, leaving none in the ground. Since we DO see them in the ground (i.e. dead, being raised to life), then the Post-Trib Rapture DID NOT HAPPEN.
The Post-Trib Rapture is therefore disproved.
The Pre-Wrath Rapture is also disproved for pretty much the same reason. Pre-Wrath proponents say that once the Rapture happens (somewhere after the midpoint but before the end of the Tribulation's seven years), no one gets saved, and it is all wrath poured out at that point.
The same problem occurs for the Pre-Wrath Rapture as for the Post-Trib. If the Rapture happens Pre-Wrath, and by their own teaching no one gets saved after the Pre-Wrath Rapture, then there can be NO BODIES OF TRIBULATION BELIEVERS in the ground to be raised at Rev. 20:4.
Since there ARE Tribulation believer bodies in the grave to be raised AFTER Jesus returns and has touched down on the Mount of Olives already, the presence of Trib believer bodies in their graves (which then get raised) proves the Pre-Wrath Rapture DID NOT HAPPEN either.
The Pre-Wrath Rapture is also disproved.
The Mid-Trib Rapture is also disproved by cause-and-effect. In Bible prophecy, we know that the Antichrist commits the horrendous AOD (Abomination of Desolation) in the exact middle of the seven years.
"And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week; and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate" (Dan. 9:27).
He demands that all worship him as God.
"Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshiped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God" (2 Thess. 2:4).
"And they worshiped the dragon which gave power unto the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? Who is able to make war with him?" (Rev 13:4).
If anyone does not worship him, with the assistance of his partner in evil, the False Prophet, the Antichrist gets a murder spree going to kill anyone who will not bow the knee to him.
"And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed" (Rev.13:15).
This killing spree, which lasts 1260 days, starts with the AOD, and the Devil is behind it. He starts by attacking those of Israel who have believed in Jesus as Messiah, and then goes after Gentiles who have also believed in Jesus.
"And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days...And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Rev 12:6;17).
The Old Testament also refers to the Devil making war on people at that time:
"I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them" (Dan 7:21).
Now, all of this is to make very clear the following points:
At the middle of the seven years (which is where Mid-Trib Rapture proponents say the Rapture occurs), there will be:
1) The AOD
2) The Antichrist immediately making war on those who do not worship him for 1260 days (the last half of the 7 years)
Now, when the Rapture occurs, the dead in Christ are raised from their graves, and then immediately all
living believers are seized by Christ to be caught up into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.
"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" (1 Thess. 4:16-17).
Here is what disproves the Mid-Trib Rapture. If the Rapture occurs at the Mid-Point of the Tribulation, all believers, living and dead, are taken literally off the face of planet Earth. Against whom, then, does the Antichrist make war when there are literally no believers left anywhere on Earth for him to pursue, persecute and kill?
The fact that the Scriptures plainly, clearly, and repeatedly tell us that there are believers on Earth against whom the Antichrist makes war, proves the Rapture did NOT happen Mid-Trib! It could NOT happen and still leave believers on Earth for the AC to murder and kill.
Conclusion: The Mid-Trib Rapture is incorrect, and is thoroughly disproved.
Now, from a Pre-Trib Rapture viewpoint, we have seen why the other Rapture views are wrong. If any of those views were correct, the effects they would have caused would be obvious. The fact that Scripture demonstrates that those effects did NOT happen, shows none of those Rapture views are correct.
As stated earlier, there are only so many choices, BEFORE, DURING and AFTER. Two of the Rapture
viewpoints fall under DURING, and another under AFTER. They have each been disproved by cause-and-effect. The only possible choice remaining is BEFORE the 70thWeek (aka the Tribulation). Each of the effects that disprove the other views actually support the Pre-Trib view.
With a Pre-Trib Rapture taking all believers physically off the planet BEFORE the seven years, many of those "left behind" come to saving faith after the Rapture. It is these believers against whom Satan and the Antichrist wage war and kill in their murder spree following the AOD. It is these believers whose bodies are in the grave at the Second Coming, and who are subsequently raised from the dead at Rev. 20:4.
The Pre-Trib Rapture harmonizes with the Scriptures, and is the correct Rapture view.
Massacre in Las Vegas: Our Father Is Grieving with Us - By Jim Denison - http://www.christianpost.com/news/massacre-in-las-vegas-our-father-is-grieving-with-us-201305/
A gunman opened fire last night at a music concert in Las Vegas. More than fifty people were killed and more than four hundred were injured. This is the worst mass shooting in US history.
Here's what we know so far.
The Route 91 Harvest country music festival was taking place across the road from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, near McCarran International Airport on the south side of the Las Vegas Strip. The gunman opened fire from a perch high up in the Mandalay Bay casino.
Police are now confirming that the main suspect is dead. Stephen Paddock, age sixty-four, was a resident of Mesquite, Nevada. He was apprehended on the thirty-second floor of Mandalay Bay, where he died. Las Vegas Sheriff Joe Lombardo does not believe there are any more shooters.
Authorities just announced that they have located Marilou Danley, a woman who was traveling with Paddock before the shooting. The victims have not yet been identified. They include two police officers who were on duty and were shot. One is in critical condition. According to the sheriff, other officers who were off duty were shot and killed at the concert.
Our first question is whether this was an act of terrorism. Sheriff Lombardo told reporters that he did not believe it was. He added that "because it's an ongoing investigation, we don't know what his belief system was at this time," but the suspect has no known terrorist connections.
Not much else is known about Stephen Paddock at this hour. He was a white male and was not a military veteran. He had no criminal convictions in Nevada or run-ins with Mesquite police. He lived in a retirement community and apparently acted alone. Marilou Danley lived with him.
I am writing this Daily Article with a grieving heart, just as I am sure you are reading it in stunned disbelief and sadness as well. I hate that we live in a world where a single person can inflict such horrific pain. I hate that our world is so unpredictable that what happened last night in Las Vegas could happen anywhere at any time. I hate this feeling of impotence, this sense that we can do nothing to prevent such atrocities from continuing. I know you feel the same way.
But I also know that our Father is grieving with us.
The Creator of the universe is a Father who loves his children so much that his Son died for us (Romans 5:8). He feels all that we feel, including our pain and grief (John 11:35). "The Lord is near to the brokenhearted" (Psalm 34:18).
He wants us to "weep with those who weep" (Romans 12:15), but he also wants us to do all we can to heal our broken world. If we give up, the criminals win. If we give up, Satan wins. He was "a murderer from the beginning" (John 8:44) who "comes only to steal and kill and destroy," but Jesus "came that they may have life and have it abundantly" (John 10:10).
John Wesley: "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can." Never give up. The more our world despairs, the more it needs the hope of Jesus.
One last word: When the shooting occurred, Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman tweeted, "Pray for Las Vegas." Please do so, right now.
Mossad chief: Iran 'closer than ever before' to Israel's borders - By Judah Ari Gross -
At event honoring espionage service, top spy Yossi Cohen says agents conduct 'thousands of operations,' some deep in enemy countries
The head of the Mossad intelligence service warned on Monday that Iran, through its proxies, is operating closer "than ever before" to Israel's borders with Lebanon and Syria, though he also said Israel was operating deep in enemy territory.
Spy chief Yossi Cohen said that in addition to arming the terrorist groups Hezbollah and Hamas, the Islamic Republic was working to develop its own nuclear capabilities with the goal of weaponizing them.
Cohen made his remarks at a ceremony in which six teams from the espionage service received a special commendation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Due to the sensitivity of the operations, the details of the teams' activities were kept secret.
However, the spymaster said that the ones chosen were representative of the type of missions the service is capable of carrying out.
According to Cohen, the intelligence service "carries out hundreds, thousands of activities every year - some of them complicated and deep within the heart of enemy countries."
The comments were something of a rarity, as Cohen does not often speak in public forums.
He said his intelligence service is "focused only on the top national, security and political priorities."
First on that list is Iran, according to Cohen.
Tehran "continues with its vision of [obtaining] a significant nuclear capability, which is meant to lead it to a military nuclear capability," he said.
Under the 2015 Iran deal, the Islamic Republic is permitted to continue with civilian nuclear research, which uses radioactive material that has been enriched to a much lower degree than that used for military purposes.
In his speech, Cohen did not allege that Iran was violating the 2015 deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
However, the spy chief said Tehran was fostering unrest in the region.
"Iran continues to work with increasing military aggression in the Middle East, closer to our borders than ever before," Cohen said, as Netanyahu looked on with apparent approval.
"Iran continues to support terrorist groups, Hezbollah and recently Hamas. Iran continues to work to transfer advanced - and accurate - weaponry to terror groups within our region," he said.
Cohen's comments appeared to confirm recent military assessments that Tehran was outfitting Hezbollah with precise missiles that are meant to be used in a future war with Israel.
Jerusalem has also long been concerned that Iran-backed Shiite militias were entrenching themselves along the Syrian border with the Golan Heights. Israel's attempts to convince Russia and the United States to make their removal a requirement in a ceasefire in Syria have reportedly not yet succeeded.
In addition to Iran, the Mossad chief also pointed to the Islamic State terrorist group as an ongoing threat to not only Israel, but the entire world.
"Islamic State is continuing to challenge us," Cohen said.
He noted that the terrorist group, which is also known by its Arabic nickname, Daesh, was trying to "harm us and, no less importantly, our friends in the world."
To handle those threats, Cohen said, the intelligence service was improving itself.
"The Mossad is getting stronger, with new capabilities in order to advance the future appearance of the world, with new technologies, with intelligence systems, with new forces, with human resources - all of this in order to be prepared for the challenges before us," he said.
"The winners of the prime minister's prize display the best within us and show to what lengths the Mossad, its people and its fighters can reach," Cohen said.
Yemen's Houthi rebels threaten to attack Israel with missiles - https://www.debka.com/yemens-houthi-rebels-threaten-attack-israel-missiles/
Israel heard a new threat this week from an entirely new quarter, Yemen's rebel Houthis. Their military spokesman, Col, Aziz Rashid, said Sunday, Oct. 1, in reference to Israeli bases in Eritrea: "Israel's military bases in Africa are within range of Houthi missiles," adding, if necessary, "Our forces would soon have missiles capable of reaching Israel itself."
He did not need to spell out where those missiles come from. It is no secret that the Houthis are amply armed and supplied with intermediate range ballistic missiles from a single source, their sponsor, Iran.
Interestingly, the spokesman mentioned missiles able to cover the 1,720km distance between northern Yemen and the Israeli port of Eilat. However, according to DEBKAfile's military sources, the Yemeni insurgents don't have missiles with that sort of range. Tehran has given them Borkan-1 and Borkan-2 tactical ballistic missiles, whose ranges are respectively 800km and 1,400km. Both are short of the distance to Israel.
In the past year, the Houthis fired a number of missiles into neighboring Saudi Arabia, leader of the coalition fighting their insurgency. Some were aimed at the capital Riyadh. Two fell short near the Yemeni border and one hit a military target outside the Saudi capital. But most of the others were either intercepted by Saudi anti-missile defenses or exploded on open ground far wide of target.
While Israel has no reason to fear an Iranian missile attack on its soil by Yemeni insurgents as yet, its Red Sea shipping is definitely vulnerable to the P-20 (Chinese Silkworm) shore-to-ship weapon, a kind of cruise missile, which the Houthis have available for shooting at the Israeli war fleet and merchant vessels sailing in the Red Sea to and from the Gulf of Aqaba.
Exactly a year ago, a Houthi missile struck a United Arab Emirate warship and set it on fire. Ten days later, on Oct. 10, they launched missiles against the USS Mason destroyer and drew an American retaliatory blow to their missile batteries.
More recently, on September 14, the Houthi leader, Abdulmalek Badruddin Al-Houthi, declared that the UAE is within his forces' missile range. He noted that he spoke from experience after a successful test launch at the oil emirates, which is 1,500km away. He did not say when the test took place or which missiles were fired. But he went on to boast that his army possessed drones capable of cruising through Saudi air space.
The Houthi spokesman's threat Sunday of a missile attack on Israel was the second time in a month that the Yemeni insurgents had referred to new Iranian long-range missiles for attacking a nation accused of siding with Saudi Arabia.
They claim Israel has become involved in the Yemen war by providing the Saudis with intelligence from its reconnaissance fleet which is based at the Eritrean port of Assab just 97km across the sea from the Yemeni coast.
Israel has never acknowledged those bases, but foreign sources began reporting in 2012 the discovery of Israeli war ships and submarines in permanent berths at Assab port, as well as an early warning station built there.
God's Word Has Not Changed - By Daymond Duck -
The UN International Day of Peace, the Jewish year 5777 and the Great Revelation 12 Sign have come and gone, but God's Word has not changed. This article will focus upon three very important signs that are still very much with us: Birth pains, the peace negotiations and the battle of Gog and Magog.
When asked about the signs of His coming, Jesus mentioned the deception of false Christs, wars and rumors of wars, famine, pestilence and earthquakes (Matt. 24:4-7). He called these things "the beginning of sorrows." The Greek word translated "sorrows" means travail (labor pains or birth pangs).
Birth pains increase in frequency and intensity as the birth of a child nears. The idea is that sorrows or travail (deception, war, famine, pestilence and earthquakes) will become more severe (closer together and more intense) as the Second Coming draws near.
Some believe that this is happening now. Consider the following reports in the first 30 days after the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse that some said was a warning from God for U.S. citizens to repent:
Aug. 21-31, dozens of small earthquakes in Yellowstone National Park.
Aug. 25, Hurricane Harvey hit Texas.
Aug. 30, Hurricane Harvey hit Louisiana.
Sept. 2-6, dozens of small earthquakes in Idaho.
Sept. 3, 229,000 acres have burned in California this year.
Sept. 6, 250,000 acres have burned in Oregon this year.
Sept. 6, Hurricane Irma hit the Caribbean.
Sept. 6, Hurricane Irma passed near and badly damaged Puerto Rico.
Sept. 6, Hurricane Irma hit the U.S. Virgin Island.
Sept. 10, Hurricane Irma hit the U.S. Florida Keys.
Sept. 10, Hurricane Irma hit the state of Florida.
Sept. 10, wildfires have burned one million acres in Montana this year.
Sept. 12, Hurricane Irma hit Georgia and South Carolina.
Sept. 19, Hurricane Maria hit the Caribbean.
Sept. 20, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico.
If we include Mexico (a nation on the North American Continent), we can add:
On Sept. 8, an 8.1 earthquake hit Mexico.
On Sept. 9, Hurricane Katia hit Mexico.
On Sept. 19, a 7.1 earthquake hit Mexico City.
On Sept. 22, a 6.1 earthquake.
On Sept. 23, a 4.5 earthquake.
Consider this: The names of Hurricanes Jose and Maria are Spanish. The English equivalent is Joseph and Mary. While the Revelation 12 Sign (Virgo and Leo: Virgin and Jesus; First and Second Coming) was in the heavens for the first time in 6,000 years, Jose and Maria (Joseph and Mary) were impacting each other on earth.
Can anyone but God arrange this in the heavens and on earth?
The Peace Negotiations
On Sept. 22, 2017, White House Correspondent and Bible prophecy teacher, William Koenig, said the following about President Trump's Middle East Peace Plan (http://watch.org):
It is compromised of the following elements: a U.S. coalition of Sunni countries with Israel to oppose Iran, while calling on the Sunnis to normalize relationships with Israel; expecting Arabs to force Abbas to accept a peace plan with Israel; and requiring Israel to give up most of Judea, Samaria and maybe parts of East Jerusalem.
Trump is motivating Egyptian President el-Sisi and possibly King Abdullah of Jordan to get involved in the Israeli-Palestinian talks, with the inducement of U.S. foreign aid to two countries in great economic need, as well as providing much needed military equipment. Moreover, they have the Saudis and other Sunni countries supporting a U.S./Sunni/Israel coalition out of great concerns over Iran. This follows President Trump's Sept. 18 statement, "I think there is a good chance it could happen."
Also, Egyptian Pres. el-Sisi's Sept. 22 appeal to the Palestinian people said to "be ready to coexist with the Israelis in safety and peace to achieve stability and security for all" (see 1Thess. 5:3).
Notice that while President Trump was talking about his peace plan on Sept. 18, 2017, the very powerful Hurricane Maria was moving in on the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico, and the devastating earthquake hit Mexico (see Joel 3:2).
The Battle of Gog and Magog
In late Aug. 2017, Israel advised the White House that it is nearing the end of its diplomatic efforts to stop Iran from stationing of troops and building bases and factories in Syria.
On Aug. 30, 2017, Russia warned Israel "not to authorize an attack on Iranian military facilities in Syria."
On Sept. 1, 2017, it was reported that Israel has notified the world to stop Iran's buildup in Syria or "Israel will take military action."
On or around Sept. 20, 2017, Russia advised the U.S. in a secret meeting that Russia will respond with force if the Syrian army or Russian assets are fired upon by U.S. proxies (possibly including Israel).
On Sept. 22, 2017, Israel destroyed an Iranian-backed Hezbollah weapons convoy near Damascus.
Prophecy Plus Ministries, Inc.
Daymond & Rachel Duck
Was Jesus' Body Really Buried in a Tomb? - Lee Strobel -
Wearing blue jeans, white socks, and a dark-blue sweater with red turtleneck collar, William Lane Craig, Ph.D., D.Th., lounged on a floral couch in his living room. On the wall behind him was a large framed scene of Munich.
It was there, fresh with a master of arts degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Birmingham, England, that Craig studied the resurrection for the first time, while earning another doctorate, this one in theology from the University of Munich. He later taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and then served as a visiting scholar at the Higher Institute of Philosophy at the University of Louvain near Brussels.
While he is internationally known for his writings about the intersection of science, philosophy, and theology, he needed no prompting to discuss the subject that still makes his heart beat fast: the resurrection of Jesus.
Before looking at whether the tomb of Jesus was empty, I needed to establish whether his body had been there in the first place. History tells us that as a rule, crucified criminals were left on the cross to be devoured by birds or were thrown into a common grave. This has prompted John Dominic Crossan of the liberal Jesus Seminar to conclude that Jesus' body probably was dug up and consumed by wild dogs.
"Based on these customary practices," I said to Craig, "wouldn't you admit that this is most likely what happened?"
"If all you looked at was customary practice, yes, I'd agree," came his reply. "But that would ignore the specific evidence in this case."
"Okay, then let's look at the specific evidence," I said. With that I pointed out an immediate problem: the gospels say Jesus' corpse was turned over to Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the very council - the Sanhedrin - that voted to condemn Jesus. "That's rather implausible, isn't it?" I demanded in a tone that sounded more pointed than I had intended.
Craig shifted on the couch as if he were getting ready to pounce on my question. "No, not when you look at all the evidence for the burial," he said. "So let me go through it. For one thing, the burial is mentioned by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:3 - 7, where he passes on a very early creed of the church."
Craig agrees with various scholars that this creed - a statement that Christians would recite to summarize their beliefs - undoubtedly goes back to within a few years of Jesus' crucifixion, having been given to Paul, after his conversion, in Damascus or in his subsequent visit to Jerusalem when he met with the apostles James and Peter.
"This creed is incredibly early and therefore trustworthy material," Craig said. "Essentially, it's a four-line formula. The first line refers to the crucifixion, the second to the burial, the third to the resurrection, and the fourth to Jesus' appearances. As you can see, the second line affirms that Jesus was buried."
That was too vague for me. "Wait a minute," I interjected. "He may have been buried, but was it in a tomb? And was it through Joseph of Arimathea, this mysterious character who comes out of nowhere to claim the body?"
Craig remained patient. "This creed is actually a summary that corresponds line by line with what the gospels teach," he explained. "When we turn to the gospels, we find multiple, independent attestation of this burial story, and Joseph of Arimathea is specifically named in all four accounts. On top of that, the burial story in Mark is so extremely early that it's simply not possible for it to have been subject to legendary corruption."
"How can you tell it's early?" I asked.
"Two reasons," he said. "First, Mark is generally considered to be the earliest gospel. Second, his gospel basically consists of short anecdotes about Jesus, more like pearls on a string than a smooth, continuous narrative.
"But when you get to the last week of Jesus' life - the so-called passion story - then you do have a continuous narrative of events in sequence. This passion story was apparently taken by Mark from an even earlier source - and this source included the story of Jesus being buried in the tomb."
While those were good arguments, I spotted a problem with Mark's account of what happened. "Mark says that the entire Sanhedrin voted to condemn Jesus," I said. "If that's true, this means Joseph of Arimathea cast his ballot to kill Jesus. Isn't it highly unlikely that he would have then come to give Jesus an honorable burial?"
Apparently, my observation put me in good company. "Luke may have felt this same discomfort," Craig said, "which would explain why he added one important detail - Joseph of Arimathea wasn't present when the official vote was taken. So that would explain things. But the significant point about Joseph of Arimathea is that he would not be the sort of person who would have been invented by Christian legend or Christian authors."
I needed more than merely a conclusion on that matter; I wanted some solid reasoning. "Why not?" I asked.
"Given the early Christian anger and bitterness toward the Jewish leaders who had instigated the crucifixion of Jesus," he said, "it's highly improbable that they would have invented one who did the right thing by giving Jesus an honorable burial - especially while all of Jesus' disciples deserted him! Besides, they wouldn't make up a specific member of a specific group, whom people could check out for themselves and ask about this. So Joseph is undoubtedly a historical figure."
Before I could ask a follow-up question, Craig continued. "I'll add that if this burial by Joseph were a legend that developed later, you'd expect to find other competing burial traditions about what happened to Jesus' body. However, you don't find these at all.
"As a result, the majority of New Testament scholars today agree that the burial account of Jesus is fundamentally reliable. John A. T. Robinson, the late Cambridge University New Testament scholar, said the honorable burial of Jesus is one of the earliest and best-attested facts that we have about the historical Jesus."
Daily Jot: Las Vegas Terror - Bill Wilson - www.dailyjot.com
An outdoor country western concert in Las Vegas turned deadly as a shooter rained down bullets on the crowd, leaving at least 58 dead and another 500 wounded or injured. Police found the suspected gunman, Stephen Paddock, on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel, cornered him and shot him dead. While little is known about Paddock, 64, at this time, it is not expected that he is part of any militant organization and he is considered a "lone wolf" shooter. He is a resident of Nevada. Authorities are seeking insight into what motivated Paddock to his hateful and deadly act. Prayers go out to those in Vegas.
Surely all the leftists will be demanding guns be taken away from the citizenry-which is their pat response to any violence involving a gun. Maybe they should look at the cities with the highest gun murder rates, and who is running those cities, and that these cities also have the most restrictive gun laws in the nation. The answer isn't banning guns. The answer goes far deeper than that. The atmosphere of the country has become violent. Television, movies, video games seem to be obsessed with death and violence. The political climate is also aggressively visceral. The news, as well as its reporters and commentators, is clothed in violence, strife, social envy, racism, bigotry, name calling, and incivility.
And so we have this picture of America and no one knows the number of people who cannot handle the pressure. They are empty, angry people, and no one knows who they are until they snap. They snap in many ways--Could be radical Islam where they are weaponized by hate and false religion; could be militant hate organizations brainwashing people to think and do awful things; could be just someone who is unstable and thinks and acts on the unthinkable. This is where we are today as a nation where we should be circumspect about where we go, how we go and what we do in public. Vegas is a reminder of the dark and dying world and the threat it is to living life in freedom and safety.
What is our answer to these types of events that are increasingly occurring? First, prayer. Then action. Jesus told us in Matthew 5:13-16, "You are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. You are the light of the world...Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." As Christians, we cannot be looking inward and still be doing what the Lord expects of us. God's love overcomes hate, fear, trepidation. We can make a difference in this world by reaching out to others. If it results in changing just one person's life, it could save hundreds in many different ways-physically or spiritually. Share your salt and light with someone today.
Daily Devotion: Turn Your Worries into Prayers - By Greg Laurie - www.harvest.org
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. -Philippians 4:6
There are so many things today that can cause us to worry. There are the worries of the world. There are the worries in our own country, including the threat of terrorism and the threat of North Korea. Then there are personal worries, such as health worries and family worries.
It seems as though worries are always there, always closing in on us. But worry isn't productive. In fact, it's a failure to trust God. The word worry comes from an Old English term that means "strangle" or "choke." That is what worry does. It chokes us. Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow; it empties today of its strength.
Modern medical research has proven that worry breaks down our resistance to disease. It actually diseases the nervous system and, more specifically, the digestive organs and the heart. In fact, 79 to 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are stress related.
Philippians tells us, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus" (4:6-7).
We need to turn our worries into prayer. That requires developing a conditioned reflex. We all have natural reflexes, like when we touch something hot and immediately pull back. Then there's a conditioned reflex, something that becomes natural after we've done it so many times. For instance, standing during the national anthem or placing your hand over your heart during the Pledge of Allegiance is a conditioned reflex.
We can't control our universe, as hard as we may try, but we certainly can pray about it. The next time you're tempted to worry, pray instead. Turn your worries into prayers.
FROM THE HEART
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