Shalom! My name is Adam Pastor

Welcome to ADONI MESSIAH which means
"My Lord Messiah" -
a fitting epithet to who Jesus (or Yeshua) is!

Here, I attempt to present the Apostolic Truths according to the Scriptures, that there is
One GOD, the Father, namely, YAHWEH,
and One Lord, GOD's only begotten Son,
Yeshua the Messiah.

And that one day YAHWEH will send His Son back to Earth to inaugurate the Everlasting Kingdom of GOD


Sunday, April 10, 2016

Sean Holbrook's Testimony: From Trinitarianism to [Biblical] Unitarianism

From Trinitarianism to [Biblical] Unitarianism: My testimony

(Originally posted: September 19, 2015)
I made a short video testimony back in March 2014 regarding my change of mind and a few of the objections that caused me great stir in my own beliefs as a trinitarian.  But I said in that video that I wanted to eventually make another video with a more full testimony of my repentance from the false idol of trinitarianism to the one true and living God YHWH, the Father of our lord Jesus Messiah (Jer 10:10, Matt 16:16, 1 Thess 1:9-10).  This will be the beginning of this testimony in text that will be recorded in a video/audio soon with as much as I can remember regarding all the events that caused me to change my mind.  And be assured, this was no easy change of mind in all the time I took to study out this issue (and continue to study)….  it caused me great grief over time as I began to learn more and more regarding all the deception of trinitarian songs, translations, bias, and outright lies spread to uphold the trinitarian idol.  It caused me great grief in the deception of my close friends and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who were likely not even studying the doctrine in the manner of depth which I was giving to it.  I fought it, I wanted it to be true, I tried to make it work… and in the end it did not work.  Here is the story of the truth of my testimony from as much detail as I can recall. I started to write this over a year ago and put it off.  It has been a long time since I originally planned to make a testimony, so it is quite fuzzy now.  Some dialogue recollections are likely not perfect, but the general context is there.
I do not recall the exact time this occurred (sometime in the summer/fall 2012), but my first sort of “ah-ha” moment that caused me to give a second thought was a small debate I got into with a fellow brother regarding Isaiah 14 being about satan or a wicked king based on the context.  But one verse in particular was regarding the fact that this “being” who fell was called a “man.”(Isaiah 14:16)  Going into the full discussion is irrelevant, but my brother brought the argument of the trinity and the meaning of “person” into the discussion for some reason to attempt to back up his view that it was regarding a past fall of satan.  As I began to think about his claims more and more…  I eventually admitted openly both to myself (and in my objection to him) that the trinity and ideal of “person” was not founded on the Bible, but a man made description to understand a concept that (I thought at that time) was taught in the Bible.  I realized that God is not really a “person,” and that word didn’t really seem to fit because that would make each of the “persons” of the trinity into clearly individuals who are each separately God in their own right, and 3 Gods.  That was my first stir moment, but it didn’t really cause me tons of unrest.  It was just categorized and put away in my thoughts not to really arise again until many months later.
Then around the time of December 2012 – January 2013 I had been reading the Bible and some verses caught my eye that had not before despite my usage of them in speaking with other people regarding the Gospel.  
The main verse I remember is John 17:3 “And this is eternal life, that they may know Youthe only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” (NKJV).  It’s fairly straight-forward in the verse. Jesus is speaking and praying to the Father (v.1) and claims in regards to eternal life one must know the only true God and himself. 
Obviously Jesus is not aligning himself with being the only true God in this text. He’s naming only one person (in trinitarian terms) as that God, his Father.  So that was another moment that caught my attention, yet it was still not enough to make me change my mind or cause me any larger concern.  It was also filed away as “interesting, but I’ll look into it another time.”
As February/March of 2013 rolled around, our elders of Refining Fire Fellowship said they were going to begin doing a “foundations” series with roughly 10 major topics.  They wanted to give newer believers a good start with contextual attempts to explain and found themselves in major topics regarding the Scriptures. “Awesome!” I thought at the time. They were also going to start with God and go in deeper on the trinity.  I was ready and I wanted to see their defense of it from Scripture because I hadn’t studied it in great depth.  I just knew some basics and how to defend it against Jehovah’s Witnesses for the most part.  I knew the verses that “proved” Jesus was God, but I wanted more.  ...
So we get into it, finally!  And while I’m not going to go through all the teachings of Kevin [Lovell] right now to pull out every text I could show he misused now… I will go through what texts and teachings caught my attention back then.  We soon started with one of the main texts, Deuteronomy 6:4, the Sh’ma!  So Kevin goes over the idea that Hebrew word “echad” is not the Hebrew word “yachid.”  That God specifically used this special word “echad,” and it can refer to a “compound unity.”  He then goes to a few specific verses like Genesis 1:5 referring to an evening and a morning in ONE day. Guess what, that word is “echad.” There are two parts, evening and morning … in one day! Amazing, a compound unity he declares.  Then onto Numbers 13:23 wherein “echad” refers to “one bunch of grapes.” Again, another compound unity.  I believe there was one more example in the video–but I cannot remember right now.  So there we have it, the Sh’ma itself holds the truth of the trinity within it… those foolish blind Hebrews couldn’t even read their own language.  God is “echad,” a compound unity.  I specifically remember Kevin being a bit foolish in his own blind pride by claiming the Hebrews were blind to their own language in not seeing the trinity right there.  I know Kevin did NOT know Hebrew well… I suspect (though I do not know for sure) he got this from Michael Brown.  Now I grieve because this is not only ignorance of Hebrew, but basic linguistics on a grade level understanding.
At the end of one of the teachings from Kevin on the trinity I also remember some slight juggling of obvious texts in Hebrews 1.  It had to do with the fact that Jesus became the son of God in a timely manner
Today, I have begotten you” and “I will be a Father to him and he shall be my son.”  Both of these are in verse 5 and quite clearly dealing with a time sense, not an eternal sonship of some sort.  I don’t remember the answers, but this was also a bit questionable when I was listening to the men in the fellowship go back and forth on this subject in Hebrews 1.
What mainly caused me to question was the claim regarding “echad” by our elder whom I knew did not know Hebrew well.  I was also a bit questioning of it because I was learning Greek at that time.  Language was becoming very prioritized in my understanding lately, and something seemed off by Kevin’s claim about “echad.”  I also recognized later that our elders had avoided Mark 12:29-34 which is an entire exposition of the Sh’ma in Deuteronomy 6:4 by Jesus himself [Mark 12:29-37 is the greater context I discovered later, wherein Jesus explains he is the “my lord” next to the one YHWH–my video on the subject is here]. This was concerning since ... I learned from the elders that the Sh’ma is very important to Jews (really, Israelites–but that’s another matter).  So, why don’t we recite it? It’s one of the GREATEST commandments according to Jesus.  But trinitarians really do avoid it like the plague.  Only when it comes to defending the trinity does it come up.  It’s the only reason it came up for me in the past!
So later on that very night I looked into the Lexicons online for the word “echad.”  I ran through Gesenius’ Lexicon and found nothing regarding a definition of “plural unity” or “compound unity” within the term itself.  What I found, was that the Hebrew word “echad” is exactly like the English word “one.”  When you ask a Hebrew speaker to count, they will start with “echad.” It means ONE, one means ONE… not more than one!  
That would be a breaking of the law of contradiction to say ONE 
itself is more than one!  So that caused me a bit of unrest. So I began “Googling” around the discussion regarding the Sh’ma and “echad.”  I found tons of debates, but mainly found a website and youtube page by a user called “TheTrinityDelusion.”  He and many others I read said the “echad” claim by trinitarians was a complete falsehood and a ridiculous fallacy of linguistics. Incidentally, since then I’ve found a few trinitarians who were candid enough to admit that this argument is a sham and they cannot believe it even exists in the trinitarian academic world.  It is truly as I said, a fallacy of grammar.  As per the example above “one day” means “one day” – not more than one day.  “One” is an adjective describing how many “days” – not what is within that “day.” “Evening and morning” are descriptions of what is within the word “day” – and has nothing to do with the word “one” (echad in this case). There is something called “semantic domain” in language. In this case it refers to the semantic domain of the words “one” and “day.”  When you think of the word “day” you can think of it’s semantic domain in multiple manners.  “Day” can bring all sorts of things to mind: it has 24 hours, morning, evening, afternoon… are just a few examples.  “One” however, means only “one.”  To say it’s more than one, is to deny the word’s definition itself.  Even if “one” is used to describe a word with a semantic domain that includes multiples—such as “one bunch of grapes.”  There’s only ONE bunch, one is describing how many bunches there are… there’s not 2, 3, 4 etc … bunches.  “Bunch [of grapes]” is the word with the semantic domain that includes multiples because that’s what the word brings to mind itself.  I hope this is clear enough to explain and understand – but it is clearly a fallacy to claim “echad” is plural unity and can refer to the trinity within the Sh’ma, and thus it is a deception.
Then I looked more at the Sh’ma in the context of Mark 12:28-34 since it was also a clear place wherein it was spoken about.  I realized Jesus was speaking with a fellow Israelite and he came to an agreement with this man in regards to the one God.  I also had the quite obvious self-revelation that Jews, that Israelites… are not trinitarians by any means.  
So what gives, wouldn’t this be the perfect place for Jesus to begin explaining this entire 3-in-1 God thing?  But instead he didn’t, he posited this one God as his God also.  The one God of the Sh’ma, the one YHWH of the Sh’ma… is Jesus’ God too!  Jesus has a God, what revelation!  Such an obvious revelation! Jesus has a God, and his God is one… his Father and no one else. 
Is that because such clear verses exist wherein the Jews refer to the Father as the only God (Malachi 2:10)? So that led me to search a bit more about this fact that Jesus has a God.  I realized it was all over Scripture, and then I stumbled upon a number of “Trinity challenge” questions by the youtube user I mentioned above. So I figured, I’ll take some of these questionnaires.  I took one on 1 Corinthians 8:6… and found myself a bit stumbled as a trinitarian. Then I took another one, the one on whether or not Jesus is a trinitarian. The original video appears to be gone, but with his permission I still have it available on my own youtube site now [link to that video here].  I took that challenge, and realized in answering these questions I necessarily condemned Jesus as an idolater and God the Father as that idol!  That was it!  I answered those questions and it was like someone struck me with a bat to my chest.
Now I had an issue. I had to make sure what I was reading wasn’t just nonsense.  I wanted to study these topics of “echad” and Mark 12…and study it well before I ever brought it before my elders.  I didn’t want to waste their time with any frivolous questions.  I mean, it was the trinity!  Who questions this?  So I took the next 4 months and studied this until I had gathered enough research to present a serious objection to their teaching.  I wanted to questionably object to the misuse of “echad” and also ask why we avoided Mark 12 when it was very pertinent to understanding who is God.  I gathered a couple pages worth of information and figured I was ready by August 2013.  So I asked the elders (who at that time were only Kerrigan Skelly and Kevin Lovell) to sit down with me and speak about my questions.  They were willing.
So one afternoon after a gathering in our church, they sat down with me for about 3 hours as I asked them further questions regarding their studies on the trinity.  Both admitted they had not given it truly a full study–but more of a continuous cursory assumption while reading the Bible.  They just saw the trinity as they read along through all the years of other studies.  I got to ask my couple main objections regarding the “echad” and Mark 12, and they had no answers at that time.  They asked what I was thinking about, and I told them when I searched my views it was appearing to be something like “biblical unitarianism” even though I still had many disagreements with this view at that time.  Though with the knowledge I have now, I know my views were leaning more towards the Eastern Orthodox version of the trinity.  It is not the same as the West’s trinity today. The major difference I may have had at that time is I was wondering if Jesus had truly completely given up “godhood” upon his incarnation.  That way he could be truly and fully man with no additions to his nature.  Either way, the elders then began to try to question me while not answering my objections.  And I admit I sounded fairly ignorant and admitted I had not studied a plethora of other texts often used to support the trinity. I had not fully studied this topic – it’s a huge topic.  This is not something you figure out in a couple months even!  After our minor debate and dialogue for 2-3 hours, they asked me to email them my objections in a more detailed format and they would get back to me.  So I took out another couple hours to type out the issues and emailed them, excited to hear more.  I’ll link that email here and copy it to another wordpress so it can be read separately.  Sadly, this email was never answered.
I didn’t hear any more from them about the subject until around September/October 2013 even though I continued studying the subject.  Tracy Bays was made an elder in between those months and was filled in on the objections I had.  Then the elders asked me to stay behind and speak with them further after another fellowship gathering about where I was at in this study.  Tracy had a few objections I admitted I did not have answers for (even though I do now, he never got to hear my answers)… but I was still in a limbo at this point.  I had placed myself outside the trinity at this point, but I wasn’t fully committed to any position yet [I was leaning more towards Arianism at this point]. I just wanted a more objective view from the outside of the trinity.  ...  Anyways, this conversation between myself and the elders lasted another 2-3 hours with the elders wherein more questions and objections were asked… but mainly from them to me.  I had studied a number of texts in support of the trinity at that time, but was still nowhere near tackling them all.  I answered a few of their objections and finally got to ask some of my own objections.  Their answers were either very bad (regarding the hypostatic union question I remember) or they continued to ignore my initial objections regarding “echad” and Mark 12.  I still had not received an email response or a direct response from them on these two major issues.  In the end the debate got a bit more heated even though it was controlled.  The elders suggested I watch the debate between Anthony Buzzard and Michael Brown/James White… and they also gave me a copy of Michael Brown’s book Jewish Objections to Jesus: Theological Objections. They also asked that I avoid any other websites or books regarding the subject and to just read and watch these sources and study the Bible.  I internally found that a bit unreasonable to only look at one side of the argument without being able to test it, but I agreed.
I read the trinity relevant portions of Michael Brown’s book many times over and found them very wanting. Sometimes he was even admitting the biblical unitarian position within his book.  He also differs from other trinitarians in his explanation. [I have a video showing Michael Brown’s clear semi-oneness claim in his book, linked here.]   I watched the debate (I’d already seen it once – and I admit Buzzard appeared to lose)… but I was sitting there yelling at the screen for all the things Anthony didn’t press White and Brown on.  Brown was equivocating and self-contradicting like crazy in one of his answers and Anthony didn’t say a thing to point it out.  I know it’s difficult when you’re in the thick of things… so I began to write down my every question and objection to White/Brown’s answers in the debate.  I got about half-way through the debate again and had page upon page.  I also wrote down my issues with Brown’s book.  I continued to study the Scriptures and look for every relevant text I could regarding the trinity and the who the one true and living God is…  I found tons of texts, tons of clear texts and cross-references.  I found many biases in translations favoring the trinity.  I found many seemingly clear texts that I thought supported the trinity actually DID NOT AT ALL support it when I looked more closely and cross-referenced words/phrases in the verses.  I started writing all this down.  I tried working the 3-in-1 God thing out multiple times during my hour lunches at work and time at home.  I could not figure out how to do it without equivocating or contradicting Scripture.  I found later that there were many candid trinitarian apologists who admitted this cannot be logically made to work.  It leads to tritheism or a clear contradiction within itself, and especially to Scripture. There is not one place “God” can be shown in the entirety of Scripture to mean “triune God.” It must be read into the Bible.
“O theos”[God] in the NT alone refers to the Father only 1,300 times without debate.  There’s only roughly 1317 usages depending on the manuscripts used (meaning some more, some less).  That’s over 99% without debate. That was pretty clear.
Then around late December 2013 I was at work on a night shift.  I was heavily burdened for many months studying all regarding this subject and facing the clearer Scriptures.  I was listening to Acts in my audio Bible—and hearing the first preaching of the apostles.  Over and over they were calling the God of Israel, the God of our fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob….our Father!  The one God is the Father and Jesus is now lord! Acts 2 and Psalm 110:1.  
Paul gives his famous speech to the Greeks at the Areopagus in Acts 17 and makes it clear in no uncertain terms that - one God who created everything, gives everything life, made the nations, doesn’t dwell in temple (Acts 7:48-50), is the reason YOU LIVE….that one God “Acts 17:31…will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”  That “He,” that “God” is the Father!  Not a triune god!  Jesus said “our” in the Sh’ma, Jesus is under the Torah… including that Sh’ma as one of the greatest commandments. 
That God is his God. Jesus is not a trinitarian, he’s a unitarian.
I cried out in repentance at work… I cried out for forgiveness…. I cried out for strength, and the burden was gone.
The above is a subsection of Sean Holbrook's full testimony which can be found here.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Jesus Distinct from the One God by Frederick A. Farley

Jesus Distinct from the One God by Frederick A. Farley, D.D., Boston pastor (1800-1892) 

What I said before of the entire Scripture holds specially true of the New Testament, that its general tenor and drift are entirely adverse to the dogma of the Supreme Deity of Jesus Christ; and express his inferiority and subordination to the Father as the Only True God.

Do you ask what I mean by the general tenor and drift of Scripture? Precisely what is meant when the phrase is applied to any other book — namely, the first, the prevailing, the obvious impression, made by a careful perusal of the whole. For instance, when one reads the Aeneid or the Iliad, no doubt it is felt that Virgil and Homer were polytheists. So in the New Testament, the first and the most obvious impression made is that our Lord is the Son of God and not God Himself; that God is one and supreme; that the doctrine of its pages is consistent and uniform throughout on this point, with that of the Old Testament.

One of the scribes asked Jesus: “Which is the first commandment of all?” and he replies in the very words of Moses: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is One Lord. And thou shalt love the Lord with all thy heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy strength” (Mark 12:28-30). Accordingly, his constant allusions, his uniform habits of speech, his prayers, his whole deportment, are in perfect and unbroken sympathy with this idea and doctrine, nay with this grand paramount truth. The same may be said of the Apostles.

But, more particularly; throughout the New Testament, Christ is uniformly kept distinct or distinguished from God. If distinct, then, of course inferior — then not God Supreme. How explicit his own language! “This is life eternal, to know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). “We have peace with God,” says Paul, “through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). Two beings here are certainly brought into view.

Quite as explicit as his Master’s is the same Apostle’s language to Timothy: “One God, and One Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). The Apostolic benedictions at the beginning of the epistles are in corresponding form. “Grace to you from God, our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 1:7). James begins thus: “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1). Peter says: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:3). John in his second epistle: “Grace to you, mercy and peace, from God the Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father” (2 John 3).

These are examples of what is the uniform style of the Apostolic Epistles, in which in seventeen passages this distinction is most carefully observed, and in which one Being alone is always called “God”; the other, without exception, “Lord.”

God is spoken repeatedly as being “with Christ” (John 3:2; Acts 10:38). Eleven passages in St. John’s gospel alone assert that Jesus “came from God” or “went to God” (e.g., 3:2; 8:42; 13:3). Twice in his epistles, St. Paul speaks of Christ as “the image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4; Col. 1:15). In one he is called “the express image of God” (Heb. 1:3). In one he is said to be “in the form of God” (Phil. 2:6). Whatever these passages and expressions mean, they assuredly show distinction of being.

The above was taken from
Focus On The Kingdom Vol. 4. No. 2

Jesus Is Coming Back to the Earth

Jesus Is Coming Back to the Earth 

If your church has been telling you that your objective as a Christian, your goal, is “heaven,” I believe they have been making the Bible a confusing book for you! If at funerals they have been dispatching the dead to heaven, alive and glorified, they have been offering you a pagan, philosophical concept, not the teaching of Jesus.

The fact is that the Bible says nothing about going to heaven as a “soul” when you die. Nothing at all. What Jesus and the Bible do teach is that everyone who dies as a successful Christian will be brought back to life again at what is called the resurrection. And that resurrection is going to happen when Jesus comes back to begin his new government or Kingdom on earth. You can establish this simple system and program once and for all by reading I Corinthians 15:22-28. Paul is here discussing the sequence of events in regard to the resurrection. Only one person has been already resurrected, brought back from death to permanent life. That is Jesus. The Christians of all the ages will be resurrected at Jesus’ future coming. Here are Paul’s words: “In Christ all will be made alive, but each one in proper order: Christ the first fruits; then, at his [second] coming, those who belong to Christ” (1 Cor. 15:22, 23).

The plan for resurrection is not complex: Those who are Christians will be raised to life, resurrected, at the coming of Jesus.
I think you will not find it hard to understand that it is fearfully confusing to point you in one direction, “heaven at death,” when the Bible points you in a completely different direction. We all know how devastatingly frustrating it is to be told that a certain event is going to happen at a particular place and time, when that event is to be held at a different time and at a different place. While Jesus points you towards the Kingdom of God to be established on earth when he comes back, the church has been promising you a place in “heaven” the moment you die. The place is wrong. You are not going to heaven. The timing is wrong. You are not going anywhere, alive, the moment you die. You are going to be asleep in the grave for however much time elapses between your death and the future arrival of Jesus to bring in the Kingdom on earth.

This is the biblical program from start to finish. This is the framework of the whole Bible story, the outline of God’s great Plan. You are alive now. If you are a true believer when you die, you will “go to sleep” in death and rest in the grave until Jesus comes back. The R.I.P statement is correct. The dead are “resting in peace.” When Jesus comes back he will bring all the faithful dead out of their graves, making them alive again and giving them immortality and a place in his royal government — the Kingdom of God, the subject of his Gospel.

This is essentially a simple and comprehensible story. It is confirmed throughout the Bible. Try reading the New Testament with this “model” in mind and see if it does not make perfect sense. I believe that all the New Testament writers shared this straightforward account of God’s immortality program.

When Job asked the great question about “life after death,” he said: “If a person dies, will he live again?” Notice he did not say, “If a person dies, will he go on living?” That is quite a different question. Job did not expect to go on living after he was dead. This would be a confusing contradiction. A person who is continuing to live does not have to be “made alive” at the resurrection (I Cor. 15:22). But the Bible teaches that the dead are to remain dead until they are made alive at the resurrection which Jesus will bring about when he returns. This is a simple and coherent program of events. We all need to live in the certain knowledge that this is what God intends to do, using Jesus as His human agent. 

“The dead know nothing at all,” says Scripture (Ecc. 9:5). “The dead Lazarus is asleep and I am going to wake him up and call him out of his tomb,” says Jesus (John 11:11, 14). But churches have demonstrated their impatience with Jesus and his viewpoint. They have wanted to “jump the gun” and promise their adherents an immediate conscious presence in heaven the moment they die and not a moment later!

The survival of an “immortal soul” is not a biblical teaching at all, but rather an import from pagan philosophy. Paul warned against philosophy in Colossians 2:8: “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy.”

You can see what happens when the Bible’s hope is replaced with a non-hope invented by church tradition. If we are to go to conscious glory the moment we die, what possible sense is there in Jesus coming back to restore the dead to life? And what need is there for a Kingdom following that resurrection? Resurrection means “standing up again from the condition of death.” Why would we need to come back to life if we are already alive before that time? It makes no sense at all. ...

The most spectacular event of the whole of human history will be the Second Coming of Jesus. Jesus was here once. He was born the Son of God, by a miraculous generation and conception in Mary. He died in his thirties. He now sits with God in heaven (the only one who has gone to heaven). Jesus is now immortal, the pioneer and forerunner of the whole of God’s immortality program. Jesus is waiting now at the right hand of God, a position of supreme authority next to God, until he is given the signal to leave heaven and return to the earth. Angels said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched him go into heaven.”

And when he comes he is going to bring the faithful dead back to life, back to life from death. They are going to live again, and when they do, for them it will seem as if no time has passed since they closed their eyes in death. Together with the Christians who survive until Jesus comes the resurrected Christians will be united with Jesus forever and they will take part in restoring sanity to our shattered world.

I Thessalonians gives us one of Paul’s clearest descriptions of the future return of Jesus to raise the Christians who will have died before then: “And now, brothers and sisters, I want you to know what will happen to the Christians who have died so you will not be full of sorrow like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus comes, God will bring back [“bring to life,” NEB] with Jesus all the Christians who have died. I can tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not rise to meet him ahead of those who are in their graves. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the call of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, all the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and remain with him forever. So comfort and encourage each other with these words” (1 Thess. 4:13-18).

The picture here gives us the following facts. Jesus is going to reappear in the sky and the dead Christians will be resurrected back to life. Together with the Christians still alive they will be caught up (“raptured”) to meet the Lord Jesus in the air and then escort him down to the earth where he will take up his position as rightful ruler of the Kingdom of God.

The popular idea that Jesus will come back secretly seven years before he comes back in power and glory has no foundation in the Bible. It is an invented myth. When Jesus arrives the event will be spectacular and visible. Jesus is returning to the earth. He is certainly not going to snatch the Christians away to heaven! This would not be a second coming at all, but a sort of “drive by.” When someone says that they are going to the store and “will be back in a few moments,” we have no difficulty understanding plain words. Nor should we have any problem with Jesus’ promise that he is going to come back to the earth and reside here. If he does not, then there will be no real second coming and no Kingdom on the earth with Jesus as King in Jerusalem.

I am sure you can see how important it is to know that the dead Christians are not now alive! If we know that the dead are presently unconscious, in their graves, peacefully “asleep,” we immediately concentrate our attention on the future wonderful moment when Jesus reappears in the sky and comes down to the earth. And once we concentrate on that mighty event, we immediately center our entire interest on the Kingdom of God which is going to begin on earth worldwide when Jesus comes back.

Going to heaven when we die” is simply a clever diversion, which confuses and distracts us from the biblical story and Jesus’ Good News about the Kingdom. “Heaven at death” makes intelligent Bible reading almost impossible because our church story is not the story of the Bible. There are two incompatible stories, which cannot be harmonized. The whole great Kingdom plan becomes a huge muddle in the minds of churchgoers, once the ultimate goal, the Kingdom at Jesus’ return, is abandoned in favor of a “comforting” promise that our souls are with Jesus long before the Kingdom comes.

Paul gave a strong warning against any who taught that one can be alive before the resurrection. He even named two men: “Their teaching will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are an example of this. They have wandered away from the truth by saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they have overthrown the faith of some” (2 Tim. 2:17, 18).

Churches have proposed a similar mistake, by claiming that the dead are alive before the future resurrection.
But it is cold comfort to offer someone a hope which is not in the Bible. The hope of going to heaven is absent from Scripture. It is a later invention of man and of churches. The church’s story contains a dreadful dislocation of the Bible’s story. Jesus had learned the Bible story very well. He looked forward to the Kingdom of God, of which he is to be the King, when he comes back. At that moment of future arrival in triumph, Jesus will call back to life all those who have died following him. It will be one huge collective return to life, every one of the believers together in one mass. Not individual departures of “souls” to heaven, but a collective coming back to life of all the faithful at one wonderful moment.

Try reading the Bible and especially the New Testament with that sequence of events in mind. See how beautifully it will fit and how it will make sense of the whole Bible story from Genesis to Revelation. In this way you will be grasping the Christian hope and believing the Gospel about the Kingdom which “God promised to those who love him” (James 2:5).

When Jesus comes back to raise the dead and reward them for their service in his Kingdom Gospel mission, the world will gradually experience a wonderful restoration. A major factor in that new age coming is that Satan, who is currently deceiving the whole world, will be put out of commission. At the arrival of Jesus to rule in his Kingdom an angel will arrest the Devil, bind him and imprison him for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-3).

At that time the faithful will begin to reign with the Messiah on a renewed earth. Here is one of the clearest and most important Bible verses outlining God’s great Plan for you and for the world: “They sang a new hymn: ‘Worthy are you [Jesus] to receive the scroll and to break open its seals, for you were slain and with your blood you purchased for God those from every tribe and tongue, people and nation. You have made them to be a Kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth” (Rev. 5:9, 10).

The event of the Second Coming means a severe judgment on those who have refused to take part in God’s immortality program through Jesus’ Gospel of the Kingdom. I advise you to consult the amazing words of the great prophet Isaiah. In his Kingdom vision he saw what God intends to do to our present evil governments and people. Let me rehearse these words for you. You have here an advance picture of the state of affairs which accompanies the future intervention of Jesus at his second coming:

“Look! YAHWEH is about to destroy the earth and make it a vast wasteland. See how He is scattering the people over the face of the earth. Priests and laypeople, servants and masters, maids and mistresses, buyers and sellers, lenders and borrowers, bankers and debtors — none will be spared. The earth will be completely emptied and looted. YAHWEH has spoken! The earth dries up, the crops wither, the skies refuse to rain. The earth suffers for the sins of its people, for they have twisted the instructions of God, violated His laws, and broken His everlasting covenant. Therefore, a curse consumes the earth and its people. 
“They are left desolate, destroyed by fire. Few will be left alive. All the joys of life will be gone. The grape harvest will fail, and there will be no wine. The merrymakers will sigh and mourn. The clash of tambourines will be stilled; the happy cries of celebration will be heard no more. The melodious chords of the harp will be silent. Gone are the joys of wine and song; strong drink now turns bitter in the mouth. The city writhes in chaos; every home is locked to keep out looters. Mobs gather in the streets, crying out for wine. Joy has reached its lowest ebb. Gladness has been banished from the land. The city is left in ruins, with its gates battered down. 
“Throughout the earth the story is the same — like the stray olives left on the tree or the few grapes left on the vine after harvest, only a remnant is left. But all who are left will shout and sing for joy. Those in the west will praise YAHWEH’s majesty. In eastern lands, give glory to YAHWEH. In the coastlands of the sea, praise the name of YAHWEH, the God of Israel. Listen to them as they sing to YAHWEH from the ends of the earth. Hear them singing praises to the Righteous One! But my heart is heavy with grief. I am discouraged, for evil still prevails, and treachery is everywhere. Terror and traps and snares will be your lot, you people of the earth. 
“Those who flee in terror will fall into a trap, and those who escape the trap will step into a snare. Destruction falls on you from the heavens. The world is shaken beneath you. The earth has broken down and has utterly collapsed. Everything is lost, abandoned, and confused. The earth staggers like a drunkard. It trembles like a tent in a storm. It falls and will not rise again, for its sins are very great. In that day YAHWEH will punish the fallen angels in the heavens and the proud rulers of the nations on earth. They will be rounded up and put in prison until they are tried and condemned. “Then YAHWEH Almighty will mount His throne on Mount Zion. He will rule gloriously in Jerusalem, in the sight of all the leaders of His people. There will be such glory that the brightness of the sun and moon will seem to fade away” (Isa. 24:1-23).

This is a vivid picture straight from the pen of one of the great Bible prophets, Isaiah. You will see that he describes a calamity and catastrophe of which we have seen the like in our days. We all know about the destructive tsunami and the terrifying hurricanes which destroyed so many people, so much property. ... The Second Coming of Jesus is compared in the prophets to an earthquake and a powerful storm. We are meant to learn from what we are now seeing: that God can and will express His displeasure at sin and bring us to our knees. He will do this deliberately on what is called the Day of the Lord. A vast depopulation of the world will occur. This is the future and final intervention of God when He sends His beloved Son back to earth. That day is described in the long passage we just cited above. There will be international confusion, destruction and despair. It will affect all types of people.

But note the piece of positive news. “A few persons will be left,” when the Day of the Lord is over. Isaiah 24:6 says this expressly. Please take careful note of the fact that not every human person will be wiped out. That would leave the world vacant and there is actually a large denomination which has misleadingly taught that not a single person will be left alive on earth. That is plainly not true. There is an exact parallel here with the flood of Noah’s time. A tiny fraction of the human population emerged unscathed from the protective ark. Noah and his wife and three sons and their wives escaped death at that time. The rest of mankind was drowned in a colossal judgment event, which Jesus said is parallel and similar to his own coming. Listen to the words of Jesus: “As in a thunderstorm the bright light coming from the east is seen even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of man” (Matt. 24:27).

That is the good news. But what about the bad news which precedes it? Jesus said: “In those days before the Flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the Flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes. Two men will be working together in the field; one will be taken, the other left. Two women will be grinding flour at the mill; one will be taken, the other left. So be prepared, because you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. Know this: A homeowner who knew exactly when a burglar was coming would stay alert and not permit the house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time. For the Son of Man will come when least expected” (Matt. 24:37-44).

Paul’s most vivid and powerful description of the Second Coming of Jesus is found in II Thessalonians 1:7, 8: “God will provide rest for you who are being persecuted and also for us when the Lord Jesus appears from heaven. He will come with his mighty angels, in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.”

I think you are getting the picture of the future clear. First the bad times, the destruction of the careless and unprepared, then the survival of a few, and then the Kingdom of God which will reconstruct humanity beginning with the surviving remnant.

Remember that your part in this process is to prepare in advance for the Kingdom, to escape the judgment (not by being taken to heaven!) and then to gain immortality and rule with Jesus in the Kingdom he is going to put in place when he comes.

The above was taken from
chapter 3 of The Aims and Claims of Jesus: What you Didn’t Learn in Church
Focus On The Kingdom Vol. 8. No. 3

Some editing has been done e.g. replaced "The LORD" with "YAHWEH"