Paul's Passing Thoughts

Bible Interpretation, the Rapture, and the Problem with Salvation

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on March 13, 2015

Children of the Reformation are crippled in their ability to understand the Bible because of the Reformation’s salvation/justification prism. In other words, we have a very strong tendency to interpret every verse through the prism of eternal salvation. This makes weak sanctification/kingdom living part and parcel with Reformation history. In fact, the Reformation gospel makes sanctification a mere extension of justification. There is justification, and that “experienced subjectively” (sanctification) and then “final justification.” Their words, not mine.

Hence, in the Bible, rewards in context of sanctification are seen as the reward of salvation. The attempt to make the reward salvation while claiming salvation by faith alone becomes a convoluted theological mess. Complicating the matter are many Bible passages that, in fact, seem to say that we obtain final salvation through perseverance. This is because our minds have been trained to interpret Scripture through a singular salvation prism.

“Singular salvation.” That is a point in and of itself. How many Christians think there is only ONE salvation? All save a few. How many think salvation and redemption are the same thing? All save a few. Salvation is the new birth; redemption is the salvation of the body when Christ comes to claim what is His. Seeing the two as the same thing creates a plethora of interpretive problems, and there are many other examples that could be cited.

And far from being the least of these interpretive problems is the idea that salvation is both gift and reward. The Reformed get around this by categorizing works into two categories: faith alone works that aren’t really works per se, and works that are really works. Yes, salvation is a gift, but it is also a reward for doing your part to obtain salvation via faith alone works. Key to understanding this concept is the imperative command is grounded in the indicative event. By doing gospel works, or faith alone works grounded in the “salvation event,” the works of Christ are imputed to your sanctification and “subjective justification” is kept properly on track until “final justification.”

Doing your part to keep your salvation isn’t works salvation because it is a prescribed faith alone work. If you do A, Christ will do B, and you get to keep your salvation. In Reformed circles that usually includes partaking in the “means of grace.” Since it is “the means of grace” it is not works. This usually includes formal church membership, “putting yourself under the authority of godly men,” sitting under Reformed preaching, partaking in the Lord’s Table, and “deep repentance” for sins that separate you from grace, etc.

The result is a missing, and massive kingdom living construct. Also missing is an understanding of any kind of gravity concerning kingdom living. How we participate in sanctification has no implications other than salvation. Until the recent resurgence of the Reformed gospel that makes final salvation the consequence of sanctification, kingdom living was relegated to mere fire insurance.

So, what is the point of this post? Christians must relearn and cultivate an understanding of incentives regarding kingdom living. One is present life more abundantly, peace, assurance, and blessings. The eternal ones are a little bit more difficult to understand, but sound pretty cool:

Daniel 12:3 – And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.

This is some kind of eternal reward for the soul winner. Other such eternal rewards can be found in the seven letters to the assemblies in Revelation. But like I said, the present rewards are easier to understand and have immediate benefits. At any rate, again, this is a body of wisdom that needs cultivation.

Let me SUGGEST another one. Not that it will do any good, but let me state that this is just an idea I am putting out there for consideration. Here, I will repeat it again, knowing that the attempt is futile, but nevertheless,





Careful thought, typically over a period of time. “a long process involving a great deal of careful consideration” synonyms:   thought, deliberation, reflection, contemplation, rumination, meditation;


Here is my thought. The rapture is a reward for suitable kingdom living. When the rapture happens, not everyone left behind is lost. Is that screaming I hear in the distance? Probably. What in the world would give me such an idea? Let me share:

Revelation 3:10 – Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth. [Present reward?] 11 I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown. [Present reward?] 12 The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. [Eternal reward?] Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name. 13 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

Obviously, the hour of trial coming upon the world is the tribulation period. Here, being saved from that hour seems to be a reward (crown) for perseverance. You have two choices here: the reward is either the rapture or salvation. No? What am I missing? It wouldn’t be the first time that rapture was reward and didn’t include all of the saved (see “Enoch”).  Also, Paul spoke of a reward for those “who have loved his appearing.” This is the “righteousness” crown (2Timothy 4:8).

What about all of the indifference among Christians concerning the rapture? What about all of the indifference regarding the New Testament call to be continually looking for the Lord’s unexpected and imminent return? Could this indifference stem from a fundamental ignorance in regard to sanctification?

There are many Christians in our day who reject the rapture, so should they expect to be a part of it? Is it some kind of secondary truth that is optional?

This is an attempt, perhaps a lame one, to get Christians to think more deeply about kingdom living and our present calling. Just food for thought. We need to challenge each other to think beyond orthodoxy. We need to set our kingdom living on fire.


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