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Originally published in "The Lord's Coming Herald & Wesleyan Bible Prophecy Advocate," Fall, 1999 and 2004

The Question Of Authority

    "By what authority doeth thou these things, and-who gave thee this authority?" (Matt. 21:23).

    Religious leaders have always been concerned about the issue of authority. Well they should be, for their survival depends upon it. From the context of the above text we see that the authority Jesus was exhibiting in his ministry among the Jews was threatening the religious status quo. If the authority of Christ prevailed, the hypocrisy of the religious establishment would thereby be exposed. And, as it was then with the religion of the Jews, so it has been throughout the ages of the Christian church as well. So what does the authority in our religious system stem from?

    The authority lies in the truth. It is the truth that makes men free. It is the truth that sanctifies the soul. We are chosen to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. The list of references to the centrality of the truth as the issue could go on and on. The point being made is that the person who tells the truth about Christ, who is Himself the truth, has all the authority of the God of heaven behind him.

    Many lament the loss of authority in the modern Christian ministry. We would suggest that the reason for this loss of authority, in large part, is because many preachers of the gospel in the not-so-distant past have not been telling the truth. They have been preaching and teaching a system of fables, which is not the truth. We would argue that, contrary to what defenders of the contemporary religious status quo would like to think, the message of the Wesleyan Holiness movement has indeed changed over the years, and those changes have not been for her good.

    When the modern Wesleyan Holiness movement took up with the hyper-Calvinistic system of dispensational premillennial theology in its Bible college classrooms, many years ago now, the authoritative proclamation of its message correspondingly began to decline. It is tough, friends, to proclaim "thus saith the Lord" when it is hard for people to see in the Bible where God actually said that!

    Do we wonder why there is no conviction on our altar services like there used to be? Could it be because to many have tried to scare people to the altar over the prospect of missing some fictional secret pretribulation rapture that would result in the endurance of some mythological future seven year great tribulation time frame? (Let's not even mention our subversion of the messianic kingdom concept!)

    In the matter of evangelism, as well as in most other things, the end does not justify the means. To the contrary, nothing would motivate people to straighten up their moral act any more today, dear friends, than to enforce the old-fashioned Bible doctrine of a general resurrection and a universal judgment. If we are going to scare people to the altar, at least let's scare them with the truth. What good does it do for our converts to find out years later that our doctrine was false? Think about it.

"John did no miracle; but all things that John spake of this man were true"   (John 10:41).

    Popular dispensational premillennial end-time Bible prophecy teaches do not claim that their "scenarios" are divinely inspired. The Bible itself, however, does claim to be a divinely inspired book. That teaching that has authority and the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon it, then, is that which faithfully represents the Bible truth.

    Now what teaching on the rapture of the church has the Holy Spirit divinely inspired?

    Well, first, the Holy Spirit inspired Jesus to tell us that the resurrection of believers will take place "at the last day" (John 6:39-40, 44, 54). Second, the Holy Spirit inspired St. Paul to write to the Corinthians that the resurrection/rapture of the saints will happen "at the trump" (I Corinthians 15:51-52). Third, the Holy Spirit inspired St. John to give us a description of that series of trumpet blasts that will lead us to the time of resurrection at the seventh, or last, one (Revelation 8-9; 11:15-18).

    Darbyites tell us that Jesus may come at any moment for the secret rapture of the church, but they are not inspired.  How do we know that they are not inspired? Because the preceding first six trumpet blasts of Revelation 8-9 have not all completely sounded yet, and it is the Holy Spirit's inspired teaching that the rapture happens, not "at any moment," but on the last day and at the last, or seventh, trumpet sounding!

    Of course, Darbyites claim that "last day" and "last trump" can mean "any conceivable random moment," but that is irrational, and the Holy Spirit does not inspire men to be irrational.

We must conclude, therefore, that the Darbyites do not teach the doctrine of the rapture set forth in Scripture, and thus lack authority, and the anointing of the Holy Spirit.    

The next time you hear a preacher go to seed in Darbyism, do what St. John advised and "try the spirits."

When we have been there and done that we have detected a corresponding lack of authority and loss of anointing on the meeting every time!

Put the proverbial "screws" on dispensational theorists by "trying the spirits" in relation to the intellectual integrity of their message and their ministry. After all, the Bible does say to "prove all things". If we cannot do that, or if they will not endure us doing that, than it is obvious that we both are not going by the Bible.

Challenge, contradict, or conflict these false religious teachers, and see what happens.  I would be interested to know what you find.

You will probably find, as I have, that the tolerances of acceptability within their ranks are very thin. Initiate debate, but please be diplomatic. Be Christian. If you are on the side of truth, what have you to lose? 

    Darbyites will usually run and hide when they see that folks will stand up and challenge their credibility, and thus, by extension, also their authority . They are infamous for their desire to avoid  academic debate over the truth claims of their system. Why? Because they know all to well that true Bible scholars will soon be eating them for lunch.            

Such evasiveness and emotional defensiveness as dispensationalists manifest toward reason and objectivity in the open-minded evaluation of their theory is all true to the nature of reality--as Robert Hall once wisely observed: "antinomianism is a monster that can only live in darkness, bring light upon it, and it expires!"

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