Monday, February 4, 2008

The Issue of Semantics

(Semantics - The meaning of a word, phrase, sentence or text)

I suppose this post is in response to comments that have been left on my previous post "The Hope of the Gospel". I realize that I need to be very clear when communicating about "End Time" events. Before I continue on with this post, it is very necessary for me to clarify my position in the words I use. I have acknowledged that what the Word says and what we have "labeled" are not necessarily the same thing. It becomes an issue of semantics, where we need to clarify with carefulness what we mean when we use certain words. The terms I use, I generally take directly from the Word (King James Version).

I have been told that the "great tribulation" and the "wrath of God" are not the same thing. Now, the Great Tribulation has been categorized and labeled as well by many "End Times" scholars. The Great Tribulation can be a series of events that vary in definition from denomination to denomination. In the King James Version, the term "great tribulation" shows up in Matthew 24:21; Revelation 2:21 and Revelation 7:14. In every one the words "great tribulation" should be read within the context of the scripture.

In Matthew 24:21 the verse starts off "For then shall be great tribulation..." in response to what the disciples have coined, in the form of a question to the Lord, "The End of the World". (Matthew 24:3) "For Then" indicates a description of a sequence. You will have to read for yourself, the scripture in it's context.

The use of "great tribulation" in Revelations 2:21 I find quite interesting. While Jesus uses the term in Matthew 24 to describe a portion of time, when things will get worse for the inhabitants of the earth, here (Rev. 2:21-26)) He uses the term in conjunction with a form of punishment or wrath, if you will. What I find fascinating about the use of this term, in context of the scripture, is that He is speaking to the Church!

"And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works."

While He is speaking to a group of unrepentant people, He has this to say to the rest:

"But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.

But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.

And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end
, to him will I give power over the nations"

What IS this "space" that Christ has given for repentance in verse 21, but time? Time (or space), that will eventually, run out.

I rejoice and revel in the consistency in the Word! Where have we heard this familiar principle? "...hold fast till I come" (verse 25)? Yes, that's right, in the teachings of Paul!!

"For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;

And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come" -- 1 Thess.1:9-10

In any event, the important thing to note is that the Lord Jesus, makes a distinct differentiation between two groups (the unrepentant and the ones true to their calling). To one group He speaks of casting them into "great tribulation" and to the other He "will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come". Judge for yourself the Word of God. Whether you are a hearer or a doer, you cannot deny the consistency of the Living Word and the truth within.

When Paul speaks of the "wrath of God" in the books Thessalonians, I take the wrath of God as it means within the context of the scripture. As far as the Word tells me, Paul does not make a distinction of "wrath" with anything else. Paul refers to the 'wrath of God" the same we today refer to the "End Times", the period of time of End of the World. As a matter of fact, Paul speaks of "wrath" as if it marks the End of the World. To go further, He speaks of the wrath, the rapture and Faith, there are no other major themes in these books (of Thessalonians).

Christ describes "great tribulation" as a portion of time in Matthew 24, it can be said that the "wrath of God" is the whole picture of what the great tribulation is a part of in this instance. However, when reading Revelations 2:21, it can be said the "wrath of God" Paul describes in the books of Thessalonians and the "great tribulation" that Christ threatens, is one and the same.

While the words "wrath" and "great tribulation" aren't used in Revelation 3:8-11; it is extremely important to read what is being said in the context of scripture and note the similar principles in the books (teachings) before it.

I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.

Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. - Revelation 3:8-11

While "great tribulation" or "wrath of God" is not stated here, the principle within the context of Revelation 3:10 is the same.

The issue of semantics has become the devil's playground. It has been since he dared Eve to believe another version of the "truth" when he said "Ye shall not surely die". There is no question that in this day and age we face a "wind of doctrine" (Eph. 4:14) in which it is a "struggle" to hold on to sound doctrine (Titus 1:9). In other words, that struggle to remain faithful to HIS WORD despite of rejection and ridicule of friends, family and church members. Despite of being the odd person out. Despite of what we may come to desire, or find comfortable in habits and traditions. Is your hope in Christ for this life only? Then, you, of all men are most miserable.

"If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. -- 1 Corinthians 15:19"

The sin of which sins orginate from is unfaithfulness. (Romans 14:23) To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. - 1 Thessalonians 3:16

Author's Note:
All italics and bold in scripture are mine. For a complete reading please read, The Hope of Gospel. For my personal testimony of why I choose to read and study solely out of the King James Version, please read, Translation vs. Paraphrase.

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