Monday, July 30, 2007

Total Redemption

"Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." - Romans 8:21-23

The subject of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is of unprecedented and uncalculated importance to the Body of Christ, for how we view the doctrine of the Lord's future return causes no small impression upon our complete understanding of God, the Bible, life, the world, salvation, damnation, and so on. It is not just a mere hope of whimsical fancy, but it touches upon the deepest sensitivities of God's redemptive plan for His entire creation. Redemption, as a theological and eschatological reality, has been almost entirely ignored by the Church, and in so doing we have found ourselves content to flounder in the puddles next to the vast ocean of prophetic revelation.

Unknown to many, there are actually two sides to the coin of redemption, though they are not proportionate to one another. One side of redemptory grace is only but a gateway into the other far more greater and glorious domain of redemption. There are indeed two sides, but one side exceedingly eclipses the other. On the one hand, we have the redemption of the individual; a man is saved from the penalty of his sin. He places His faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and is instantly cleansed of his burden of guilt and translated out of the Kingdom of darkness and into the Kingdom of light. Praise God! "I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth." (Luke 15:7) One might wonder what could be more wonderful than this? Oh, but my dear reader, let us look to the second and more glorious side of redemption to which nearly the entire substance of the Word of God is concerned, and into which this initial redemption experience brings us. That is: God's ultimate prophetic plan for the redemption of His creation.

The Lord Jesus Christ's work of redemption is forever incomplete until He consummately returns to earth as He promised: resurrects our bodies from the earth, breaks the curse of sin upon the earth, and establishes the Kingdom of God in earth. The Second Coming of Christ, and all that it contains, is alone what is called our "blessed hope" to which all believers eagerly anticipate. As Peter exhorted, "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." (1 Peter 1:13) I want you to know, dear reader, that the 'hope' that the Scriptures speak about is not a hope of going to heaven; it never has been and it never will be. The true Apostolic hope is literally and totally the hope in the resurrection of the dead as a direct extension of the belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. Because He lives, we also shall live. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." (1 Peter 1:3) Any degradation of this doctrine is a degradation of the doctrine of Christ's resurrection. It was for this reason that Paul declared that he was on trial in Acts 23:6, "...of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question." At the Second Coming of Jesus Christ we shall finally experience total redemption from the bondages of sin. Not only do we obtain freedom from the guilt of sin today, but we shall also obtain freedom from the consequences (or curse) of sin that befell man when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden. Then, and only then, shall we fully comprehend the promise: "shall not perish, but have everlasting life".

And not only we, but also creation itself shall experience this redemption. "For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope." (Romans 8:20) Before Adam sinned, animals did not devour one another but ate of the grass of the field (Genesis 1:30). After Adam sinned, the earth was cursed and creation became disfigured and perverted insomuch that the animals began to eat and be eaten by one another. What God had declared "good" had through sin become corrupt. But thanks be to God Who delivers us from this body of death!, the Scriptures foresee a time when once again, "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox." (Isaiah 11:6-7) When shall this be? Verse 4 and 5 tell us, when "with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins." This is a perfect description of Jesus Christ's return (see Revelation 19:11-16). Christ is coming again to bring about in the earth a divine work of total redemption. "For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea." (Isaiah 11:9)

The implications of this are unlimited. Anything less is not redemption at all.

Imagine, in closing, if Jesus Christ did not promise to return. Imagine that there is no promise of the resurrection of our bodies, the redemption of the earth, nor the coming Kingdom of God. If this were the case then Satan has indeed won a great victory. He has succeeded in ruining God's good earth, forfeiting mankind's intended dominion in it, destroying our physical bodies so that we must spend eternity as "souls under the altar", and therefore "in this life only we have hope in Christ." (1 Corinthians 15:19) Not only that, but if we are not resurrected and do not inherit the earth, then there is no necessity for the resurrection of Jesus Christ, for in fact, there would BE no resurrection of Jesus according to Paul: "But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen." (1 Corinthians 15:13) And what's worse, "If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins!" (15:17)

Blessed be God this is not the case! In Christ Jesus there is TOTAL redemption.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Psalm 73

This sermon was preached at the Bishop Cridge Senior Center in Victoria, BC on July 22, 2007. Based on Psalm 73, this message examines 1) Asaph's temptation in envying the wicked, 2) how he found relief from this temptation, and 3) the results of being freed from this temptation. In view of the times it is imperative that we as believers maintain a correct understanding from the Lord regarding the ultimate end of the ungodly and the exceeding weight of glory that shall follow the overcomer. Listen below:

Eli Brayley - Psalm 73

Psalm 73
Psa 73:1 A Psalm of Asaph. Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.
Psa 73:2 But as for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped.
Psa 73:3 For I was envious at the foolish, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
Psa 73:4 For there are no bands in their death: but their strength is firm.
Psa 73:5 They are not in trouble as other men; neither are they plagued like other men.
Psa 73:6 Therefore pride compasseth them about as a chain; violence covereth them as a garment.
Psa 73:7 Their eyes stand out with fatness: they have more than heart could wish.
Psa 73:8 They are corrupt, and speak wickedly concerning oppression: they speak loftily.
Psa 73:9 They set their mouth against the heavens, and their tongue walketh through the earth.
Psa 73:10 Therefore his people return hither: and waters of a full cup are wrung out to them.
Psa 73:11 And they say, How doth God know? and is there knowledge in the most High?
Psa 73:12 Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches.
Psa 73:13 Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency.
Psa 73:14 For all the day long have I been plagued, and chastened every morning.
Psa 73:15 If I say, I will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the generation of thy children.
Psa 73:16 When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me;
Psa 73:17 Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then understood I their end.
Psa 73:18 Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou castedst them down into destruction.
Psa 73:19 How are they brought into desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors.
Psa 73:20 As a dream when one awaketh; so, O Lord, when thou awakest, thou shalt despise their image.
Psa 73:21 Thus my heart was grieved, and I was pricked in my reins.
Psa 73:22 So foolish was I, and ignorant: I was as a beast before thee.
Psa 73:23 Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand.
Psa 73:24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.
Psa 73:25 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.
Psa 73:26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.
Psa 73:27 For, lo, they that are far from thee shall perish: thou hast destroyed all them that go a whoring
from thee.

Psa 73:28 But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all thy works.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Douglas Street, Victoria

Brothers and sisters,

It's good to be able to write to you another update of how the ministry is going out here in Victoria. A dear old saint in the Lord who lives in the city freely gave us an electric organ and also some gospel signs to use in the work that we are doing, and so far they both have proved a wonderful blessing! We've been taking the signs downtown to reach the many thousands of people who desperately need to know the Good News of Jesus Christ.

Victoria is a busy place. I have heard that nearly a million people live in and around it's small vicinity, and the number of people walking the sidewalks really confirms this. Greg and I have a routine that we follow every time we go out: first we preach a short message at the Legislature building, then we spend several hours handing out tracts and preaching on the sidewalks in the downtown district, finishing on Douglas Street, which is a very busy location and hub for drug dealers and homeless.

Here is a video that captures pretty well what it is like preaching on the sidewalk at Douglas. Street preaching is the most difficult kind of preaching, but I believe God truly uses the foolishness of preaching to speak the word of life into someone's heart even though we may never know it. "And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead." (Acts 10:42)

"We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein." (Acts 14:15)

Another brother, David Tennant, has also arrived in Victoria and is staying in the house with Greg and I to help us in the work God is doing here. We thank the Lord for His provision! I met David a several times while I was traveling on the road in California; he truly is a blessed brother.

Dear saints, please keep the three of us in prayer, for the evangelism in the city and also for the various preaching engagements elsewhere. God is truly doing something in this hardened city and we don't want to get in the way, but we also don't want to get out of the way but thrust ourselves fully into the plans and purposes of Christ for us at this time. May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering: in all of us, wherever we are.

The Lord richly bless you.
Your brother and fellow laborer in Christ Jesus the Lord,

Monday, July 09, 2007

Strange Sounds from the Pretribulational Camp

"For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?" - 1 Corinthians 14:8

It never ceases to amaze me the way the pretribulational rapture teaching can make such fantastic conclusions out of such straightforward Bible passages. As one commits to an honest and objective study of the interpretations presented by pretribulation advocates, one cannot help but notice the gross discrepancies which inescapably arise between the supposed doctrine and the inspired Scriptures. A prominent German theologian put it rather bluntly: "[Pretribulationism] must be refuted as a dangerous distortion of New Testament eschatology."

It is my object in this article to cover a few of the most obvious Scriptural discrepancies that arise from holding to a pretribulational position, in the hopes that those who read the following few words would consider the strangeness and error of this 19th century doctrine.


"So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." (Hebrews 9:28)

The term "Second Coming" is actually never found in the Bible, although the concept most certainly is, just like the word "trinity" is not found in the Bible but the concept is unmistakably there. Though the verse above is the only mention of the word "second" in connection with the future coming of the Lord, the belief that Jesus will once again return to earth a second time saturates the Old and New Testaments. Jesus announced to His disciples the night before He was crucified, "I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14:3) Likewise the angel announced to them also on the Mount of Olives just after Christ ascended, that "this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." (Acts 1:11) The expectation of the apostles was that Jesus will return a second time to earth in the same manner that He ascended. This is shown by their continual unanimous testimony concerning Christ's coming:

Paul - "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 Thessalonians 4:16-17)

Peter - "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?" (2 Peter 3:10-12)

John - "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen." (Revelation 1:7)

Notice the apostolic expectation is simply the full and glorious appearing of the Lord Jesus and that no dual distinctions are made. The reason why there are no distinctions ever made between the "second coming" and a "secret pretribulational coming" is because no duality of "comings" existed in their doctrine. The apostles purely preached that Jesus Christ would come again, plain and simple.

On the other hand, pretribulationists, if they are to remain consistent with their theology, must believe in three comings of Christ, a notion utterly foreign to the teaching of the New Testament. Neither Jesus, nor the apostles, ever taught such a thing. To save themselves the embarrassment of such a conclusion, pretribulationists attempt to maintain the expression "the Second Coming of Christ" while at the same time believe in a coming prior to it. They cannot have it both ways. If they say the "secret rapture" is NOT a "coming", then they disqualify all the verses they have since used to support a pretribulational rapture which utilize the word "coming" (see 1 Corinthians 15:23, 1 Thessalonians 4:15, for instance). If they say then that the "secret rapture" IS a "coming", then they must believe in three comings, and therefore maintaining the expression "the Second Coming of Christ" as the final glorious appearing of Christ makes no logical sense.


"Behold, I show 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 Corinthians 15:51-52)

One of the most popular pretribulational verses in the Bible is 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, quoted above, and yet this Scripture is in fact one of the most strongest arguments AGAINST pretribulationism!

The context of this verse is speaking about the resurrection of the dead when Jesus comes. Paul says in verse 22 and 23, "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming." (Notice again that there is no distinction between a second coming and a pretribulational coming... just "His coming"). The key to interpreting when this transformation occurs (if it wasn't already obvious) is the pronouncement, "at the last trump." But what is the last trump and where is it found in Scripture?

It is not difficult to discover that the final trumpet spoken of in the Bible occurs at the very end of the age when Jesus returns to earth in great power and glory with all His holy angels. In our Lord's own words spoken to the apostles in the Olivet Discourse, it is stated: "Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." (Matthew 24:29-31) The last trumpet and the gathering of the saints are synonymous. When the trumpet is blown, it signals the reapers to go and separate the wheat from the tares. A simple comparison of Matthew 24:29-31, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 clearly reveals the timing and nature of the last trump: it's timing is when Christ comes at the end of the great tribulation; it's nature is that it instigates the rapture, or gathering, of the saints. After the event described in Matthew 24:29-31, there is never another trumpet prophesied to come.

Therefore, if the pretribulationists are using 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 to support a rapture prior to the glorious appearing of Matthew 24:29-31, they run into an irreconcilable dilemma. How can an earlier rapture feature the last trump if there is yet another trumpet to be sounded at the end of the great tribulation? How could 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 be speaking of anything else but the final coming of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, as it's context clearly shows? Either verse 52 is truly talking about the last trumpet, or Paul was terribly mistaken.

"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. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years." (Revelation 20:4-6)

The last discrepancy we will examine involves the resurrection of the dead, which doctrine is an elementary principle according to Hebrews 6:1-2. Our text above clearly reveals that the first resurrection takes place at the end of the great tribulation when Jesus returns in glory. Christ returns to earth and destroys antichrist at the end of chapter 19 and those who are resurrected suffered greatly under the wrath of the beast. But notice also that the first resurrection is not exclusive to only those who passed through the great tribulation; no, it includes all the saints of God from all generations. John sees all those who had suffered for the Word's sake, and states in verse 6, "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years." This is written for all believers, for we are all "kings and priests unto God" because He "loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood." (Revelation 1:5-6) "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed men to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made them unto our God kings and priests: and they shall reign on the earth." (Revelation 5:9-10) The requirement for the second death to have no power over you is for you to take part in the first resurrection. To this all believers will attain by the grace of God.

Throughout the Bible there is only this one resurrection that Christians are promised to receive. We have already looked at 1 Corinthians 15:23. Jesus said in John 6:54, "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day." He repeats this expression, "on the last day" four times in chapter 6 so that no one would be confused as to when the resurrection will occur. If we are to believe in a secret resurrection that takes place before the last day then we are not following the plain teaching of Jesus Christ, our Cornerstone.

Either John was correct in saying this is the first resurrection or the pretribulationists are right in saying it is not, and that there is a prior resurrection at the secret coming before the tribulation. What folly! Not one Scripture supports such an idea.


In this cursory article we have briefly examined how the pretribulation theory requires 1) a coming, 2) a rapture and 3) a resurrection all prior to the prescribed time clearly set forth in the Holy Scriptures. It is up to pretribulationists to decide whether or not they are going to continue attempting to squeeze the Word of God through the filter of prejudicial conjecture or simply believe the Bible for what it says. In the words of the late W.J. Erdman, the third pastor of Moody Church in Chicago who was once a pretribulationist and an editor of the Scofield Reference Bible before a "further searching of the Scriptures" convinced him otherwise: "Better the disappointment of truth than the fair but false promises of error."

"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15)