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Old 02-03-2012, 01:01 PM   #1
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Default LSM’s Contradictary Rapture Teaching

LSM’s CONTRADICTARY RAPTURE TEACHING

“We can figure out…the year of the rapture of the overcomers”—W. Lee
“We can even figure out the day of the rapture of the majority of the saints”—W. Lee

“Concerning that day & hour no one knows, not even the angels…nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matt. 24:36)
“It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has set by His own authority” (Acts 1:7)


Witness Lee (1905-1997) made no breakthroughs in biblical eschatology. He was a synthesizer,1 not an inventor. He mixed and matched diverse end-time views, merging them into a composite system. John Nelson Darby’s prophetic system was appropriated, modified and combined with the partial rapture views of Govett, Panton & Pember.2 The resulting amalgam is not a seamless web; it is a flawed patchwork quilt. LSM’s end-time scheme is like Daniel’s image where “iron was mixed with the earthy clay…but they do not cleave to one another” (Dan. 2:43). Their prophetic system is compromised by its conflicting elements and its contradiction of Scripture. This paper examines the contradictions and inconsistencies in the teachings of W. Lee and his Living Stream Ministry [LSM] associates about the believers’ rapture at Christ’s return.

On one hand LSM teaches an imminent, “any moment rapture.” Miss Margaret E. Barber (1866–1929), W. Nee’s mentor, is presented as the exemplar of daily watching for the Lord’s imminent return. Watchman Nee recounts3 “One year I spent the last day [Dec. 31, 1925], New Year's eve, with her. She prayed, ‘Lord, if You want to come now, there is still time this year; You do not have to wait until next year’." W. Nee also recalled, “she said to me, ‘The Lord is coming…perhaps we will see Him around the corner.’…Day by day…she waited eagerly for the Lord to return.” These incidents have become part of Local Church folklore.4 Miss Barber expected the Lord’s imminent return at any moment. Witness Lee and LSM exhort believers to emulate her expectancy that the Lord might come back today,5 that we could “see Him around the corner.”

On the other hand, W. Lee taught that specific signs, unfulfilled prophecies, must precede the rapture. One LSM book, The Signs Concerning the Coming of Christ asserts that, before the rapture, Antichrist must emerge to lead the revived Roman Empire and sign a 7-year peace pact with Israel allowing Jewish sacrifices in the rebuilt Jerusalem Temple. Antichrist is predicted to abide by this treaty for 3.5 years, until the overcomers’ rapture occurs and the great tribulation, “the hour of trial,” (Rev. 3:10) begins. This teaching contradicts the other strand. If certain events must occur before the rapture, the Lord’s return is not imminent; rapture cannot occur until those events happen. Hence, W Lee says,6 “the 7-year covenant by Antichrist with…Israel will be another sign of the Lord’s coming back for the rapture…This is why we are awaiting and expecting the last week of [Daniel’s] 70 weeks…to come.” In LSM’s scheme Daniel’s 70th week must begin prior to Christ’s return; until then rapture cannot occur. This means the secret rapture is not imminent (in the technical sense). Instead of awaiting Christ’s return, Witness Lee concedes, “we are awaiting and expecting the last week of the 70 weeks…to come.”

This conflict within LSM’s eschatology—between an “any moment rapture” and preceding signs—is not eliminated by an appeal to the “secret overcomers’ rapture” before the rapture of most believers. W. Lee places the “overcomers’ rapture” midway through the last 7-years of this age (Daniel’s “70th week”).7 This means specific events—the Roman Empire’s revival plus Antichrist’s 7-year treaty allowing Jewish sacrifices in the rebuilt Jerusalem Temple—must precede this secret rapture by 42-months (3.5 years). Hence, in LSM’s end-time scenario, Christ’s rapture of overcomers is not imminent; He cannot return today since the necessary predicted signs have not yet been fulfilled. So Witness Lee states,8 “When there is news that such a strong man [Antichrist] signs a treaty of 7 years with Israel, [then] we have to prepare ourselves to be raptured.” He concedes that, until the 7-year pact is enacted, the rapture is at least 42 months away. Again W. Lee writes,9 “Before the consummation of this age, Antichrist will…make a 7-year covenant with…Israel, and that will be the beginning of [Daniel’s] last week. Thus, if anyone should say, ‘Behold, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There is the Christ!’ we will not be deceived (Matt. 24:23).” He declares, “We will not be deceived” by claims that Christ is ‘here’ or ‘there,’ because (in LSM’s view) Christ cannot rapture any believers until the mid-point of the final 7 years. Hence the overcomers’ rapture is projected at least 42 months (1,260 days) into the future; plus the post-tribulation rapture of the majority of believers is at least 7 years away. Due to the time needed to fulfill these preceding signs, in LSM’s view Christ’s return is not imminent.

W. Lee’s view that prophetic signs must precede the rapture conflicts with an ‘any-moment’ rapture exemplified by M. E. Barber. It implies Miss Barber was misguided. When she said, “The Lord is coming…perhaps we will see Him around the corner,” W. Nee should have retorted, “No, sister, you are wrong! The Lord cannot return today.” Despite this conflict, LSM presents M. E. Barber as the role model of believers’ watchfulness and W. Lee’s timetable of prophetic events.10

LSM’s end-time scheme yields definite predictions; W. Lee states,11 “When the believers see the coming Antichrist making a covenant with the Jews for 7 years, we can figure out…the year of the rapture of the overcomers…the first half of the 4th year of [Daniel’s] last week, and the year of the rapture of the majority…the last year of [Daniel’s] last week. We can even figure out the day of the rapture of the majority of the saints…the last day of [Daniel’s] last week.” Below the title of this article we juxtapose quotes from W. Lee with texts from Scripture. Given the stark contrast, we ask—Doesn’t LSM’s claim, “We can even figure out the day of the rapture,” contradict Scripture? The Lord Jesus said, “no one knows the day or hour, not even the angels…nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matt. 24:36; Mark 13:32). Did W. Lee claim to know what only God the Father knows? The rest of this paper explores these issues and contradictions within LSM’s rapture teachings.

DARBY’S RAPTURE ESCHATOLOGY
John Nelson Darby’s (1800-82) influence on evangelicals’ eschatology was,12 “both profound and pivotal, more so perhaps than any other Christian leader in the past 200 years.” Darby taught that Christ’s return would not be a single discrete event, but rather, a two-stage process. First, Christ will return secretly to the air to rapture His believers. Second, He comes publicly to the earth to establish His kingdom. First He comes for His believers; later He comes with His believers.

Historian Ernest R. Sandeen points out Darby’s innovations. He states,13 “Darby taught that the second [coming] would be secret, an event sensible only to those who participated in it…Second, Darby taught that the secret rapture could occur at any moment. In fact, the secret rapture is also often referred to as the doctrine of the any-moment coming.” In contrast to existing views,14 “Darby taught that the prophetic timetable had been interrupted at the founding of the church and that the unfulfilled biblical prophecies must all wait upon the rapture of the church. The church was a great parenthesis which Old Testament prophets had not had revealed to them…Darby maintained that none of the events foretold in Revelation… could…be [fulfilled] until after the secret rapture of the church. Christ might come at any moment."

This teaching is related to Daniel’s “70 weeks” (Dan. 9).15 In Darby’s view Israel’s rejection of Christ “stopped the clock” on Israel’s “70 week calendar” (at the 69th week). God turned from Israel to the church. As Witness Lee puts it,16 “After the crucifixion…The history of the children of Israel was suspended. This suspension will continue until the end of the church age, when God will once again visit the children of Israel. Then the last of Daniel’s 70 weeks will begin.” The church’s Age of Grace is an era of unknown duration; it forms the “great parenthesis” between Daniel’s 69th and 70th weeks.17 The rapture of the church is the catalyst restarting Israel’s prophetic “clock.” Hence, no prophetic sign from Israel’s “70th week” precedes the rapture. Rather, the church’s rapture is the unique sign that history’s final chapter of 7-years (Daniel’s “70th week”) has begun. That final period includes the great tribulation; hence Darby’s prophetic timetable is characterized by a “pre-tribulation rapture.” J. N. Darby’s end-time scheme underlies the best-selling Left Behind prophetic fiction series.18

Signs Precede Christ’s Public Appearing, Not His Secret Coming
In Darby’s pre-tribulation view no prophetic sign necessarily precedes Christ’s secret coming for His saints. But, warning signs will precede Christ’s public coming with His saints to earth. 19“Many Scriptures…encourage Christians to be ready since Christ can come at any time and describe His return as imminent, which ‘means that there is no prophesied event that stands between the present moment and the coming of the Lord Jesus.’20 However, other Scriptures indicate that certain important and visible events will happen before Christ returns…The pre-tribulation…view reconciles these two sets of passages. There is a secret coming for His saints and a separate public triumphant coming with His saints after 7 years of tribulation on the earth. During the 7-year interval all the signs that have not yet been fulfilled (the great tribulation, the false prophet,…the Antichrist…) will be fulfilled, so that there is no tension at all between waiting for a coming that could occur 'at any moment' and realizing that a later [public] coming will be preceded by many signs," says Dr. Wayne Gruden.

Imminence is a crucial point. It means “no prophesied event…stands between the present moment and the coming of the Lord” to rapture His saints. Darby maintained Israel’s “prophetic clock is stopped” while God gains the church in the age of grace. When the church dispensation ends with rapture, Israel’s prophetic clock restarts; rapture is the catalyst. Thus Darby’s “pre-tribulation rapture” is a “pre-70th week rapture,” which “jump-starts” the final 7-years of this age.21 It follows that no predicted event of Daniel’s final week precedes the rapture. No prophesied end-time sign foreshadows Christ’s secret coming. Moreover, no “countdown to rapture” is possible, since rapture is the first event on God’s end-time agenda for believers. A countdown to the great tribulation, to Armageddon, or to the Lord’s public coming, is possible, but not to the Rapture. A “countdown to rapture” is impossible since the rapture does not lie within a time-line of prophetic events; it precedes all the events of Daniel’s final week. Hence, setting a date for rapture—in terms of the year, month, week, day or hour is ruled out. This matches Christ’s declaration that “no one knows the day or hour” of His coming (Matt. 24:36; 25:13; Mark 13:32) which will happen “like a thief” (Matt. 24:43; Luke 12:39).

Darby’s dispensational theology established a clear dichotomy between Israel and the church.22 The former are God’s earthly people destined for earthly blessings; the latter are God’s heavenly people, recipients of His spiritual blessings. In this dichotomy, prophecies regarding Israel and the Church are de-coupled, proceeding on separate tracks towards their respective destinies. Moreover, adherents teach that23 “While Israel is given signs to observe relating to God's plan for His elect nation, the church is told to watch and eagerly await the any-moment rapture.” It is the Jews (Israel) who “require signs,” not New Testament believers (1 Cor. 1:22). Prophecies regarding Israel—e.g. the re-establishment of Israel in 1948, Israel’s gaining control of Jerusalem in 1967—confirm God’s faithfulness.24 But these precursors to Daniel’s 70th week are not necessarily indicators of imminent Rapture. Such prophecies may be fulfilled (e.g. ending the “times of the Gentiles,” Luke 21:24) yet none is a necessary portent of the believers’ secret rapture. They simply “set the stage” for end-time events

J. N. Darby’s pre-tribulation rapture proved controversial. Stanley Grenz says,25 “No other tenet of the [dispensational] system has raised as much controversy as the pre-tribulation rapture.” In Darby’s view Christ’s return to rapture the church is the “any moment” catalyst for history’s final 7-years. T. D. Ice, a pre-tribulation advocate, says,26 “the pre-tribulation rapture was always understood…to be an any-moment possibility and a sign-less event,” not preceded by any predicted signs. He explains,27 “the rapture of the church is something that could happen at any-moment, without signs or warnings. Thus a church age believer should be constantly watching and waiting for our Lord…The rapture is what Bible teachers have called ‘imminent.’ Imminence means that Christ could come for His church at any-moment; that there are no signs relating to the rapture; that no prophecy has to be fulfilled before Christ could call us to meet Him in the air.”

THE IMPLICATIONS OF IMMINENCE
1. Imminence Defined:
According to Bible scholars, the doctrine of imminence28 means that:
1. No one knows the time of Christ’s return; He could come at any moment and it is possible He might come today.
2. No clearly prophesied event must transpire prior to the rapture.29 Robert H. Gundry concurs, saying30 “By common consent imminence means that so far as we know no predicted event will necessarily precede the coming of Christ.”
3. To be imminent, an event must be next on the program and capable of happening at any moment. Imminence implies Christ’s return for His believers can occur at any time without any predicted intervening signs or events.31
4. In sum, imminence consists of three elements: “the certainty that Christ may come at any moment, the uncertainty of the [actual] time of that arrival, and the fact that no prophesied event stands between the believer and that hour.”32
The implications of imminence are clarified by observing that the post-tribulation view negates imminence. This scheme places the rapture after the tribulation. Hence prophesied events linked to the tribulation—the Roman Empire’s revival, Antichrist’s emergence, his peace pact with Israel, the abomination of desolation, etc.—all precede the believers’ rapture. In this scenario rapture cannot happen today, or even during the next 7 years, until after these prophetic events unfold. Hence these events are “leading indicators” of the impending post-tribulation rapture. A Mid-70th week rapture has similar implications; rapture cannot happen during the next 42 months (3.5 years), until certain prophetic events unfold. Hitchcock & Ice observe that33 “only the pre-tribulation position allows for an imminent, any moment, sign-less coming of Christ for His own….For Mid-tribulationists the rapture must be at least 3.5 years away…for Post-tribulationists it is at least 7 years down the road.” Gerald B. Stanton concurs saying,34 “The post-tribulational view robs every generation of an imminent…comforting and purifying hope. It argues that…the rapture cannot be imminent now. Antichrist and the great Tribulation are ahead, and there is no basis for expecting Christ to come before such clearly scheduled events.”

W. Nee critiques the post-tribulation view, because35 “Our living on the earth will not be filled with waiting for Christ but for Antichrist. Daily we will only need to look and see if Antichrist has come…This is contrary to the teaching of the Bible, [which] does not tell us to wait for Antichrist, but to wait for the Lord.” This critique applies equally to a mid-tribulation [mid-70th week] rapture. Against this view, he taught that,36 “Watchfulness is related to the imminent coming of the Lord.” Moreover, W. Nee states,37 “The book of Revelation says that Christ is the bright morning star…The morning star speaks of the imminent coming of the day. Before the Lord Jesus sends the tribulations to judge the world, He will first receive us back to Himself.” Notice that here W. Nee links watchfulness with the Lord’s imminent coming prior to “the tribulations.”

2. The History of Imminence
Imminence is not a recent innovation. Over a century ago the 1878 American Bible & Prophetic Conference resolved,38 “This second coming of the Lord is everywhere in the Scriptures represented as imminent, and may occur at any moment.” Moreover, in 1886, Arthur T. Pierson asserted that,39 “The imminence of the Lord’s coming is destroyed the moment you locate between the [Lord’s] 1st and 2nd coming…any period of time whatsoever that is a definite period, whether 10, 100, or 1,000 years. I cannot look for a thing as an imminent event which I know is not going to take place for 10 years…” The issue of imminence separates the pre-tribulation [pre-70th week] view from mid- and post-tribulation positions. These latter two scenarios project the rapture into the future by at least 3.5 or 7 years, until after certain events unfold. In both schemes Christ’s return is not imminent; He cannot come at any moment today, until those events transpire. In contrast, John F. Walvoord says from the beginning,40 “the doctrine of imminency, was the central feature of pre-tribulationalism.”

4. Imminence—its Biblical Basis
Professor Wayne A. Brindle examines the issue of imminence, asking if there are41 “Bible passages that teach or strongly imply that Christ’s return for the [believers] can occur at any time without any predicted intervening signs or events.” Among Scriptures which he finds supportive of imminence are:
[1] 1 Thess. 1:9-10 where Paul says the Thessalonians “turned to God from the idols to serve a living and true God and await His Son from the heavens…Jesus, who delivers us from the coming wrath.” Brindle concludes that “the believer’s deliverance from the coming eschatological wrath (the Tribulation, as depicted in 1 Thess. 5), [in] the present passage must be viewed as providing strong evidence for Paul’s belief in an imminent rapture.”42

[2] 1 Thess. 5:4-9 which concludes, “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Brindle comments, “Paul presented salvation here as an alternative to the wrath to be manifested in the Tribulation. The purpose of this salvation is that believers will live with Christ (v. 10), which therefore has the same results as the rapture in 1 Thess. 4:17.” He adds, “If the rapture is not imminent, then Paul’s exhortation to the Thessalonians to ‘watch and be sober’ (5:6) is unrealistic and his assertion that the church is not appointed to wrath (v. 9) is misleading.”43

[3] Titus 2:13 talks of “Awaiting the blessed hope, even the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Brindle argues that, “The fact…Paul exhorted believers to look for Jesus’ coming as the ‘happy,’ blessed hope (confident expectation)…without any mention of preceding signs or Tribulation, strongly implies the imminence of this event—that it can occur at any time…The exhortation to ‘watch’ or ‘look’ for what is the hope of the church loses its significance if it may not arrive ‘at any moment’.”44 John F. Walvoord also says, “The exhortation to look for the ‘glorious appearing’ of Christ to His own (Titus 2:13) loses its significance if the Tribulation must intervene first. Believers in that case should look for signs.”45 Brindle concludes that “These passages that promise the rapture…all teach, imply, or allow for imminence as an event that can occur ‘at any moment’.”46 These scholars affirm that there is a biblical basis for the doctrine of imminence.

W. LEE APPROPRIATES DARBY’S SCHEME
Darby maintained that Daniel’s prophetic, 70th week remains unfulfilled. Both W. Nee and W. Lee adopted J. N. Darby’s scheme, including his interpretation of Daniel’s 70 weeks. W. Nee states,47 “The 70 weeks in Daniel are all in the age of the law. The age of grace is the interval between the 69th and 70th week.” W. Lee concurs, saying,48 “After the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus, God gave up the children of Israel and focused His attention on the church. Therefore, at the time of Christ’s crucifixion, the history of the children of Israel was suspended. This suspension will continue until the end of the church age, when God will once again visit the children of Israel. Then the last of Daniel’s 70 weeks will begin.” He also states,49 “The 70 weeks were interrupted. A long period of time would follow before the last week would come. It is not possible to find out the length of this interval…which is the age of grace…This age begins and ends with the two comings of Christ.”

1. Overcomers’ Rapture
W. Nee and W. Lee modified Darby’s teaching, adding elements of 50“the school of partial rapture [which] say that the overcomers will be raptured earlier than the majority of the believers.” Witness Lee states,51 “The New Testament clearly reveals that there will be at least two kinds of raptures. One is before the tribulation, and the other is after…The one before the tribulation will be for the overcomers, and the one after the tribulation will be for the majority of the believers.”

Despite this modification, W. Nee and W. Lee both followed Darby in referring to a 7-year tribulation period in their early writings. W. Nee says,52 “the overcoming believers shall be raptured to the heavens before the start of the seven years of tribulation. Just before the 7 years of tribulation end, the Lord Himself shall come from the heavens to the air to receive all the saints who will be resurrected from death or who will still be living on the earth. Afterward, He will bring all the saints to the earth.” Note that W. Nee repeatedly refers to “7 years of tribulation.” W. Lee states,53 “the New Testament teaches that the rapture will occur not merely once but several times. The rapture of the first-fruit will be a short while before the tribulation. The tribulation will be mainly a period of seven years.” He also refers to the 70th week, saying,54 “Daniel 9:27 specifies an era of 7 years considered by all Bible teachers as the period of the great tribulation. The great tribulation will be intensified during the last half of the 7 years, referring to the 42 months or to the 1,260 days.” He uses the term, “great tribulation,” rather than “tribulation,” nevertheless Witness Lee refers to a 7-year period of tribulation, which “will be intensified during the last half.” In their early ministries both W. Nee and W. Lee, like Darby, taught a 7 year tribulation.

2. LSM’s Initial Scheme has Imminence
“The Lord’s parousia can begin at any time without signs”—W. Lee (1964)

The initial end-time scheme taught by both W. Nee and W. Lee is characterized by imminence—the Lord could return at any moment to rapture His overcomers. Moreover this event is not predicated on certain prophetic signs. Talking about the Lord’s parousia, W. Lee links the parousia’s start with the overcomers’ secret rapture, its end with the Lord’s return to the earth. In this context he says,55 “Whereas no one can know the time of the beginning of the Lord’s parousia, the end of His parousia can be determined by signs. No one knows when the Lord’s parousia will begin, but by signs in the future, the signs to come, we can calculate when the Lord’s parousia will end. This should cause us to be watchful. We should not say that since we have not yet seen the signs, the Lord’s coming will not be soon…The Lord’s parousia can begin at any time without signs; therefore, we must be watchful. His parousia will be like a thief…who comes without giving notice.” This scheme differs from Darby’s in that it has multiple raptures. Nevertheless, it has imminence; the overcomers’ rapture is secret, without any preceding signs. Hence W. Lee states “The Lord’s parousia can begin at any time without signs.”

3. Watchman Nee’s Eschatology
Watchman Nee took a broad-brush approach to end-time events, including rapture. He expounds a two-stage rapture, saying,56 “the overcoming believers shall be raptured to the heavens before the start of the 7 years of tribulation. Just before the 7 years of tribulation end, the Lord Himself shall come from the heavens to the air to receive all the saints who will be resurrected from death or who will still be living on the earth. Afterward, He will bring all the saints to the earth.” Note he refers to the “7 years of tribulation.” His eclectic approach is evident when he says,57 “some will be raptured before the tribulation, because no one knows the time of the rapture before the tribulation. But anyone can find out the time of the rapture after the tribulation. I dare not say that there are only two raptures…but there is such a distinction in rapture.”

Occasionally W. Nee referred to signs preceding Christ’s return. Once he asserted,58 “The Lord said that He could come any time, but before He comes there will be signs. These signs will all be fulfilled. There are five kinds of signs concerning His coming. The 1st concerns the Jews, the 2nd concerns the Roman Catholic Church, the 3rd concerns the church, the 4th concerns the world, and the 5th concerns other matters in general.” But, readers expecting specifics will be disappointed; W. Nee only elaborates on the first, saying, “The signs concerning the Jews are mostly fulfilled,” in the 1948 formation of the Israeli state. Apparently, Watchman Nee had neither the time, nor interest, to delve deeply into prophetic signs. 59

Statements about signs preceding rapture are exceptions in W. Nee’s writings. He mostly eschewed prophetic signs. He produced neither a definitive timeline nor a chart of end-time events. He rejected the notion of a fixed eschatological schedule, saying,60 “The rapture is not determined at ‘the end’ time, for believers can be raptured at any time.” Instead, he stressed waiting for the Lord’s imminent return to secretly rapture His overcoming believers. W. Nee cited Miss Barber as a role model for the believers’ “blessed hope,” saying,61 “In her I saw a person who was waiting for the Lord's return …Her whole life was a life of preparing for the Lord's return. Day by day…she waited eagerly for the Lord to return.” Given his broad-brush approach to end-time events, there is little conflict between Watchman Nee’s rapture teaching and his emphasis on awaiting the Lord’s return at any moment. W. Nee’s eschatology was consistent with imminence. In contrast, stark contradictions exist in Witness Lee’s comprehensive teaching regarding rapture and unfolding end-time events.

4. W. Lee’s Comprehensive System of Eschatology
“The rapture is like…a jigsaw puzzle.” “I finally put all the pieces together!…Now…we have a vivid picture”—W. Lee

W. Lee viewed biblical prophecy as a jigsaw puzzle. Pre- and post-tribulation views each emphasized specific parts, while ignoring others. W. Lee saw himself as a synthesizer. “Some Christians would argue for a pre-tribulation rapture and others would argue for a post-tribulation rapture. Why do they argue? It is because they each have seen only a part of the whole picture. Those who have seen…the pre-tribulation rapture hang on to that, and those who have seen…the post-tribulation rapture cling to that. [But]…the rapture is like…a jigsaw puzzle. We should not cling to one piece, but put all the pieces together until we have a complete picture. Then the picture will make sense and be quite logical,” W. Lee said.62

Over a period of 50 years, W. Lee’s end-time scheme became more precisely defined, until he declared, “I finally put all the pieces together!…Now, instead of a puzzle, we have a vivid picture.”63 His “Chart of the 70 Weeks & the Coming of Christ, with the Rapture…”64 is the “vivid picture.” This declaration suggests a final resolution of all outstanding issues, with all the prophetic events placed in a definitive sequence. W. Lee certainly presented it this way. Yet, is this really the case? We ask: Has W. Lee done violence to the “puzzle pieces” to “make them fit” into his end-time scheme? Has he “papered over the cracks” to produce an apparent unified whole? Does his “vivid picture” of end-time events match Scripture?

5. W. Lee Misrepresents Darby’s View
W. Lee commandeered Darby’s teaching, yet criticized him, saying,65 “The logic in [Darby’s] line of thought was somewhat deficient, and the details regarding the Lord's second coming were not made sufficiently clear.” W. Lee calls Darby’s logic “deficient” and his exposition of details “not…sufficiently clear.” He modified Darby’s system, with serious repercussions.

The standard pre-tribulation view (e.g. Darby’s) entails the believers’ secret rapture prior to Daniel’s entire 70th week. Thus Alan Hultberg states that,66 “Pre-tribulationists hold that the rapture will occur before the final 7-year period.” In this context, “tribulation” in the term “pre-tribulation,” means the final 7 years. Advocates are well aware that the “great tribulation” lasts 3.5 years. However, they view it as preceded by 3.5 years of “lesser tribulation,” which they argue has a Scriptural basis [See Appendix A]. One scholar explains, the final 7 years are67 “divided into two: The Lesser Tribulation—three and a half years and the Greater Tribulation–another three and a half years. The [Antichrist’s] covenant will be fulfilled during the first half.” The great tribulation starts when Antichrist violates that treaty midway through the 7 years.

Overlooking this distinction W. Lee alleges pre-tribulation advocates mistakenly think the great tribulation lasts 7 years. He writes,68 “Many teach that the Lord’s coming will take place before the great tribulation. However…they usually mean the entire last 7 years...the whole of the last week of Daniel’s 70 weeks will be the period of the great tribulation. They teach that Christ will come back to rapture the believers…before the last 7 years of this age.” W. Lee correctly says the pre-tribulation rapture is “before the last 7 years of this age,” i.e., prior to Daniel’s 70th week. But, he misrepresents this view as teaching the great tribulation lasts 7 years. He claims, in “their understanding, the whole of the last week of Daniel’s 70 weeks will be the period of the great tribulation.” W. Lee then proceeds to correct this alleged “error,” asserting,69 “we can say strongly and definitely that these last three and a half years will be the time of the great tribulation. This means that the great tribulation will be the second half of the last week; it will last three and a half years, or 42 months, or 1260 days.”

However (contrary to W. Lee’s misrepresentation) pre-tribulation rapture advocates are not ignorant of the great tribulation’s duration—3.5 years. They are not guilty of mistakenly assuming it lasts 7 years. Rather, in their view, the “great tribulation” is preceded by an equal period of lesser tribulation. In their exposition the pre-tribulation rapture precedes both; it is a “pre-70th week” event which occurs before the final 7 years. This is the accepted definition of the term, “pre-tribulation rapture,” established by a century of Bible scholars. It is a “Pre-70th week” rapture.

6. W. Lee’s Redefinition of “Pre-tribulation” causes Confusion

Instead of using the term “pre-tribulation,” with the meaning established for over a century, W. Lee redefines it in terms of the great tribulation. 70“The pre-tribulation school say that our rapture will take place before the great tribulation which, strictly speaking, will be the last 3.5 years of this age,” he states. This statement misrepresents the pre-tribulation view; they define it as prior to the entire 70th week of 7 years, not merely as just before the great tribulation. In established terminology, rapture just prior to the great tribulation of 3.5 years is called a “mid-tribulation [mid-70th week]” rapture.71

Applying his view of multiple raptures, W. Lee contends that,72 “believers who are overcomers and mature earlier will be raptured before the great tribulation” W. Lee calls this is a “pre-tribulation” overcomers’ rapture. LSM’s Lesson Book declares,73 “The rapture of the first-fruit [144,000] signals the start of the ‘great tribulation’.” Note however, that this is a “Mid-70th week” event—at the mid-point of the final 7 years. Hence, referring to various categories of overcomer, W. Lee states,74 “In the middle of the 70th week the man-child and the 144,000 will be raptured to the third heaven.” He also asserts that,75 “the dead overcomers will be raptured to God and to His throne before the 3.5 years, 1,260 days, the period of the great tribulation.” In established terminology this is a “mid-tribulation [mid-70th week] rapture.” Witness Lee’s redefinition of existing terms clouds the issues, causing confusion. Local Church members are taught W. Lee’s definition of the Pre-tribulation overcomers’ rapture.76 Most are unaware that this differs significantly from the generally accepted definition of this term. Hence Local Church members will affirm they believe in a pre-tribulation rapture. Yet the Local Church’s “pre-tribulation” rapture deviates from that generally accepted. In fact they affirm a “Mid-70th week” rapture.

7. Imminence Lost: W. Lee’s Modified Scheme violates the “any moment” Rapture
LSM never explicitly acknowledges that W. Lee’s “Pre-tribulation Rapture” violates imminence. Standard Pre-tribulation Rapture—prior to the entire 70th week—does feature imminence; it implies the Lord could return today, at any moment, without preceding signs. W. Lee’s “Pre-tribulation Rapture” is a mid-70th week rapture, just before the 3.5-year great tribulation. In this scenario the Lord could not return today since various signs must be fulfilled—e.g. the Roman Empire’s revival, Antichrist’s emergence, his 7-year pact with Israel, the Jerusalem temple’s rebuilding, etc. All these prophesied events must transpire before the overcomers’ rapture, which is projected at least 3.5-years into the future. In W. Lee’s modification of Darby’s system the vital property of imminence is lost. Yet LSM never explicitly acknowledges this.

W. Lee confounds the issue of imminence. After expounding “the Signs Concerning the Coming of Christ”—which must precede rapture—he says,77 “The Lord could come quickly…On the last day of 1925, Brother Nee went to pray with [Miss Barber], and she prayed, ‘Lord…on this last day I still pray that You will come back today!” Yet her prayer contradicts W. Lee’s end-time scheme with signs preceding Christ’s coming. M. E. Barber’s prayer assumes Christ could return at any moment, even today—a possibility excluded by LSM’s end-time scenario, with the overcomers’ rapture just before the great tribulation, in the middle of Daniel’s 70th week. W. Lee affirms both these contradictory strands of teaching within the same message; they appear in the same book, published by LSM, “The Signs Concerning the Coming of Christ…”

8. The Woman & Man-child anchor W. Lee’s Scheme
John’s vision of the woman and man-child (Rev. 12) plays a pivotal role, anchoring LSM’s end-time system. In W. Lee’s view, the woman represents,78 “the totality of God's people on earth,” including “God’s people in the New Testament age.” The man-child “signifies the stronger part of God's people,” the overcomers. This matches LSM’s multiple raptures, since after the man-child is raptured to God’s throne, “the woman will be nourished for 1,260 days, that is, for 3.5 years.” This, says W. Lee,79 “indicates that the overcomers will be caught up, raptured before the 3.5 years. This is why we cannot accept the teachings of the pre-tribulation rapture or the post-tribulation rapture by themselves. Here is a woman, signifying the totality of God’s redeemed people, who brings forth a man-child, a part of the woman, who is caught up to the throne of God before the last 3.5 years of this age. After the rapture of the stronger part [the man-child], the main part of the woman will still remain on the earth. The proper understanding of the rapture is that there will be more than one [rapture].”

The two raptures are separated by exactly 3.5 years. W. Lee writes,80 “the man-child will be resurrected and raptured 3.5 years earlier, while the rest of the dead saints have to wait for 3.5 years for their resurrection and rapture.” This interval equals the great tribulation, hence, W. Lee says81 Revelation “12 points out that right before the beginning of the great tribulation, the man-child, the dead overcomers, will be raptured. The rest of the saints…the majority of the church, will be kept in a place to be nourished by God for 1,260 days…42 months or 3.5 years, the time of the great tribulation.”

This view anchors both raptures to fixed points in LSM end-time scheme. The overcomers’ rapture immediately precedes the great tribulation. Hence Witness Lee asserts,82 “In the middle of the 70th week the man-child and the 144,000 will be raptured to the third heaven.” This precipitates the tribulation. So W. Lee states,83 “Just before the initiation of the great tribulation, the overcomers of Christ will be raptured.” W. Nee also saw this as a catalyst, saying,84 “Once the man-child is brought forth, he will be caught up to the throne of God. Then things will immediately happen in heaven and Satan will be cast down.” During the ensuing time of trial,85 “the rest of the saints…the majority of the church, will be kept in a place to be nourished by God for 1,260 days, which is…the time of the great tribulation,” says Witness Lee. Based on this, he concludes,86 “The remaining saints, who will be left [behind]…pass through…the great tribulation…Because they are preserved…the entire length of time of the great tribulation, the rapture of the majority of the saints must be at the very end, the last day, of the great tribulation.” Here W. Lee pinpoints the day of the majority’s rapture within his scheme.

9. “We can even figure out the day of the rapture…”—W. Lee
LSM’s scheme predicts the exact day of rapture. W. Lee asserts that the majority’s rapture,87 “must be at the very end, the last day, of the great tribulation.” Hence a “Rapture countdown” is feasible--once Antichrist signs a 7-year pact there are 2,520 days until the majority’s rapture. W. Lee concedes this, saying,88 “When the believers see the coming Antichrist making a covenant with the Jews for 7 years…We can even figure out the day of the rapture of the majority of the saints …which will be the last day of the last [i.e., Daniel’s 70th ] week,” which is89 “the last day, of the great tribulation.” Astute Bible-readers will ask—doesn’t the Bible say no one knows the day or hour of the Lord’s return (Matt. 24:36)? LSM adherents will respond—that Scripture applies to the secret overcomers’ rapture, not the later, majority rapture.

LSM’s end-time scheme predicts the dates of both the overcomers’ rapture & the majority’s rapture What about the secret overcomers’ rapture? W. Lee is reluctant to fix a precise day. He says,90 “When the believers see the coming Antichrist making a covenant…for 7 years, we can figure out…the year of the rapture of the overcomers which should probably be in the first half of the 4th year of the last week.” W. Lee was keenly aware of the Lord’s own words, “concerning that day and hour, no one knows, not even…the Son, but the Father only” (Matt. 24:36; 25:13). He asserted,91 “although concerning that day and hour no one knows (Matt. 24:36), the year can be figured out.” Yet, Witness Lee is too modest! He claims less for his prophetic scheme than it actually predicts. In his “vivid picture,” the overcomers’ rapture and the majority’s rapture are separated by precisely 1,260 days, the exact length of the great tribulation. The majority are raptured on “the last day of the great tribulation,”92 he asserts. The overcomers’ rapture is scheduled 1,260 days prior—which implies an exact day. W. Lee also states,93 “In the middle of the 70th week the man-child and the 144,000 will be raptured to the third heaven.” The “middle of the 70th week” also implies a specific day—1,260 days after Antichrist signs a 7-year pact with Israel. Hence LSM’s end-time scheme predicts the dates of both the pre-tribulation overcomers’ rapture and the post-tribulation rapture of the remaining believers. But this very precision is a serious problem--LSM’s end-time scheme contradicts the Bible! W. Lee claimed we can figure out what the Bible says we cannot know! The Lord Jesus told His disciples, “you do not know the day” (Matt. 25:13; 24:42; Mark 13:32). He stated categorically “concerning that day and hour no one knows…but the Father only” (Matt. 24:36). Plus He comes like a thief—suddenly, without a countdown, at an unknown time (Matt. 24:43; 1 Thess. 5:2; Rev. 16:15). So we are charged to watch for Him, not for another person or event—“Watch…for you do not know when the Master…comes” (Mark 13:35). LSM’s scheme contradicts these Scriptures.

“Although…that day and hour no one knows, the year can be figured out.”—W. Lee
Matt. 24:36 says “concerning that day and hour, no one knows, not even…the Son, but the Father only.” W. Lee expounds this, saying, “although concerning that day and hour no one knows, the year can be figured out.” But is this what Jesus meant? Did He mean we can narrow the time of Rapture down to the year (maybe even the month or week), but not to the exact day or hour? Or, did Jesus mean (more generally) you can’t know the time of rapture? When Jesus was asked, “are You at this time restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He responded, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has set by His own authority” (Acts 1:6-7). Israel’s kingdom will be restored at the start of the millennium.94 In LSM’s scheme knowing the time of Israel’s kingdom is restored implies dates for the whole schedule of end-time events—including the rapture. But Jesus said, “you are not to know the time or season” (Acts 1:7). “Times and seasons” (Gk: chromos & kairos) are broader terms than “day and hour.” This suggests Jesus’ statement that “no one knows the day or hour” (Matt. 24:36) means (in a broad sense) you can’t know the time or season of rapture. This contradicts W. Lee’s interpretation that, although no one knows the day and hour, “the year can be figured out.” W. Nee decried this, saying,95 “Some people do not calculate the day and the hour, but they calculate the year and the month. This is not godly.”

“We are still awaiting and expecting the coming of this 70th week.”—W. Lee
W. Lee states,96 “We are still awaiting and expecting the coming of this 70th week, the last week, which will be one of the strong signs of the Lord’s coming back…The 7-year covenant by Antichrist…will be another sign of the Lord’s coming back …This is why we are awaiting and expecting the last week of the 70 weeks…to come.” LSM’s scheme results in believers “awaiting & expecting the coming of this 70th week,” rather than Christ’s return. W. Lee says,97 “When there is news…a strong man signs a treaty of 7 years with Israel, we have to prepare ourselves to be raptured.” He also says,98 “When the believers see the coming Antichrist making a covenant…for 7 years, we can figure out…the year of the rapture.” LSM’s focus on “news…a strong man signs a treaty of 7 years” and “when the believers see the coming Antichrist” deflects the believers’ gaze away from Christ’s return, to Antichrist’s appearing. They watch for Antichrist, not for Christ Himself.

W. LEE’s PENCHANT FOR DATE-SETTING
Christians have been repeatedly embarrassed by pronouncements that Christ will return on a specific date. To date all such prophecies have failed. Harold Camping of Family Radio in California is a recent example. While he did not set a day, W. Lee could not resist the tendency to foretell the time of Christ’s return to earth establishing His kingdom. Witness Lee predicted two dates, one is already past—1997; the other is still future—2070. In the context of his end-time schedule, both these dates implicitly predict the time of the rapture and other events. Let’s examine W. Lee’s attempts at date-setting.

1. 1997: “6,000 years…from…Adam’s creation until…the Lord’s coming back”—W. Lee

W. Lee claimed the 6 creation days portray the entire span of human history. He says,99 “Based upon the fact that in the eyes of the Lord 1,000 years are the same as a day…6 days mean 6,000 years, and the 7th day will be the 7th thousand, the Sabbath rest during the millennium.”100 The,101 “millennial kingdom, a period of 1,000 years, will be the 7th period of 1,000 years, the first 6,000 years being the period from the time of Adam’s creation until the time of the Lord’s coming back.” W. Lee asserts the span of human history—“from… Adam’s creation until the time of the Lord’s coming back”—is 6,000 years. This is implies when Christ will return—W. Lee predicts Christ’s 2nd coming will occur 6,000 years after man’s creation. LSM dated Adam’s creation at 4004 BC102 and Christ’s birth at 4 BC. Hence the interval from Adam to Christ was exactly 4,000 years. This leaves 2,000 years for the “age of grace,” which should have ended in 1997.103 Hence, W. Lee’s teaching implies Christ should have returned in AD 1997; He did not! This means Daniel’s 70th week ought to have started in 1990 with Antichrist’s 7-year pact with Israel. The overcomers’ rapture and the great tribulation should have begun in 1993. Plus, the majority’s rapture and Christ’s triumphant return to earth should have happened in 1997. They did not! None of these end-time events predicted by Witness Lee was actually fulfilled. This is a failed prophecy!

It is worth noting that Watchman Nee rejected the notion that Genesis’ six creation days typify 6,000 years of human history. He said104 “Many misunderstand the Sabbath of creation to be a type of this millennial kingdom.” Assuming “the previous 6 days are also 6,000 years. They think the 7 days of creation are a type of 7,000 years of world history…This is a mistake, and I do not believe this myself,” declares W. Nee. Evidently Witness Lee did not derive this notion from W. Nee.

2. 2070: “2 days…might signify 2,000 years counting from AD 70…the 3rd day…the millennium”—W. Lee

Despite his poor track record predicting the kingdom’s arrival—“zero-for-one” based on 1997—W. Lee tried again. His second prophecy is based on Hosea 6:2, which says, “He will enliven us after two days; on the 3rd day He will raise us up, and we will live in His presence.” Again W. Lee applies the “principle that ‘with the Lord one day is like 1,000 years’.” He says,105 “According to this principle, the 2 days here might signify the first two periods of 1,000 years each, counting from A.D. 70, when the Roman prince Titus destroyed Jerusalem and the temple….For 2,000 years God has left Israel in a dead condition. After this 2,000-year period, the 3rd thousand years will come. The 3rd day in [Hosea] 6:2 might signify the 3rd period of a thousand years, that is, the millennium, the age of restoration.” These assertions are more tentative than earlier, nevertheless W. Lee suggests a 2,000 year period—“two days”—from Jerusalem’s destruction in AD 70 to the millennial kingdom. This implies Christ’s public appearing to establish His kingdom on earth should occur in AD 2070.

“Date-setting schemes…inconsistent with the New Testament teaching of the any moment rapture”

Like W. Lee’s earlier prophecy that Christ’s millennial kingdom starts in 1997, this prophecy of 2070 implies predicted dates for rapture and other end-time events. Yet Jesus charged His disciples to, “Watch…for you do not know when the Master of the house comes” (Mark 13:35). W. Nee opposed this exercise.106 Moreover predicting the year of Christ’s coming violates imminence. T. D. Ice says,107 “Date-setting schemes are inconsistent with the New Testament teaching of the any moment rapture.” If the kingdom will come in 2070, this means Christ cannot rapture the believers until 2066 or 2070—over 50 years future. Hence He cannot come today and we cannot “meet Him around the next corner.” In the standard Pre-tribulation view, date-setting becomes feasible only after the rapture signals the start of Daniel’s 70th week. As Ice states108 Christ’s “second coming [to earth] will be dateable, once the rapture has occurred and the events of the tribulation commence.” But, Daniel’s 70th week has not started yet, so date setting is not legitimate today, within the standard pre-tribulation scheme. Date setting, even W Lee’s, is incompatible with imminence—an “any moment” rapture.

WHAT’S WRONG WITH LSM’s END-TIME SCHEME?

LSM’s end-time rapture scheme contradicts Scripture—it implies we can know the day of rapture--something the Bible says only the Father knows! It allows us construct a “rapture countdown.” But Jesus said no one knows the day. LSM’s system also conflicts with imminence; it implies Christ can’t return at any moment. What is the source of this conflict?

1. W. Lee assumes Eschatology is a jigsaw puzzle
W. Lee viewed,109 “the matter of the rapture…like so many pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. We…put all the pieces together until we have a complete picture.” This approach assumes a priori that all relevant Scripture passages—the gospels, Paul, the Apocalypse—form one complete picture. This notion underlies W. Lee’s “Chart of the 70 Weeks and the Coming of Christ, with the Rapture of the Saints.” This is not an innocuous assumption. Alternatively, Scripture’s various authors may each have their own perspective. Scripture may not intend to provide one, all-encompassing, jigsaw puzzle picture! Scholars caution against this approach, saying,110 “The nature of the documents does not encourage or allow drawing of charts and schedules to plot out the sequence of events. Any attempt to do so founders on the New Testament evidence itself…”

2. LSM’s Eisegesis—forcing the “puzzle pieces” to fit
Eisegesis means reading a preconceived interpretation into Scripture; exegesis means extracting the meaning out of the text. LSM employs eisegesis to make the “puzzle pieces fit” their overall scheme. Take for e.g. LSM’s interpretation of Rev. 7:9-14. The Apostle John saw, “a great multitude no one could number, out of every nation & tribe & peoples & tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9). Since they are “before the throne,” they “must have been raptured to the heavens,” says W. Lee.111 John is told, “These are those who come out of the great tribulation” (7:14). The Greek text literally says, “the tribulation, the great”--the only occurrence in the Greek text. A literal reading suggests this is the “hour of trial” (3:10), the 42-month great tribulation.112 Not so, says W. Lee,113 “the great multitude consists of the redeemed ones from the nations, throughout all generations,” not merely the 42-month “hour of trial.” He says,114 “the great tribulation here [in 7:14] refers to the tribulations, sufferings, persecutions, and afflictions experienced by God's redeemed people throughout the ages,” not to the 42 months. LSM interpret it this way because they say people cannot be saved (born again) during the great tribulation; 115 hence the great redeemed multitude (7:9) couldn’t come out of the literal “great tribulation.” Yet a literal interpretation of Rev. 7 suggests they do come out of the (literal) great tribulation.

3. LSM: Rev. 12 Woman & Man-child equals the Church plus Overcomers
LSM’s scheme equates the woman and man-child to the Church plus overcomers. This fixes the overcomers’ and the majority’s raptures at the great tribulation’s start and end. It implies the day of rapture can be known. Many Bible scholars identify the woman as Israel. W. Nee was asked, “Who is the woman in Rev. 12?” He wrote,116 “Our answer is that the ‘woman’ refers to Jerusalem in the nation of Israel.” He gives 5 reasons, the 1st being that Rev. 12 echoes Joseph’s dream (Gen. 37) regarding Jacob’s family—the nascent nation of Israel. He also points out that, “In Rev. 12:7 the angel, Michael, helps [the woman]. Daniel 12:1 clearly says Michael will rise up to help Israel during the great tribulation.” Daniel was told, at the end-times, “Michael, the great prince who stands for…your [Daniel’s] people will arise; and there will be a time of distress…at that time your people [Israel]…will be delivered.”(Dan. 12:1). In Scripture,117 “the archangel Michael, [is] a prince fighting for Israel.” He reappears in Rev. 12; this suggests the focus here is still Israel. Hence, W. Nee concludes, “This woman typifies Jerusalem in the nation of Israel. God commands her to flee to the wilderness (Rev. 12:6, 14).”

If the woman is Israel, then who is the man-child? Elsewhere W. Lee refers to Jesus’ Olivet discourse about the end-times,118 “Israel is like a woman in travail to deliver the remnant of Jews who will be the priests during the millennium.” He says,119 Matt. 24:8 “refers to the nation of Israel as a woman. The Jews, as God’s elect, will suffer birth pangs like a woman in travail to bring forth a remnant who will participate in the Messianic kingdom…Israel has been in the process of delivering a child…[who] still has not come forth. This child will be the remnant of Israel that will be saved and restored.” We are not dogmatically asserting that the woman and child in Rev. 12 are Israel and a saved Jewish remnant. We simply offer this as an alternative interpretation. We ask: If the “child” being brought forth in Matthew 24:8 is the saved remnant of Israel (i.e. regenerated Jews), then why not in Revelation 12? Some pre-tribulation advocates adopt this view.

Identifying the woman & man-child in Rev. 12 with Israel & her regenerated remnant (not the church & the overcomers) severs the links (in LSM’s system) anchoring the overcomers’ & majority’s rapture to a fixed end-time schedule. In LSM’s end-time scheme these fixed links predict the exact day of rapture. This contradicts Scripture. Christ said “no one knows the day” (Matt. 24:42; 25:13). Cutting these links rehabilitates W. Nee’s eschatology with an “any-moment, overcomers’ rapture,” not predicated on prophetic signs, consistent with imminence. This is one way to escape LSM’s conundrum of predicting the precise day of rapture in contradiction of Scripture. Perhaps there are other options. But there are other problems; specifically we take issue with LSM’s self-centered interpretation of the signs related to the Lord’s coming.

LSM’s SELF-CENTERED SIGNS
[1] Preaching the “High Gospel” worldwide
“Only the Lord’s recovery can accomplish the widespread preaching of the gospel of the kingdom.”
W. Lee says, based on Matt. 24:14,120 “the gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole earth…before the end of this age comes. This testimony must spread to the whole earth before the end of this age, the time of the great tribulation. The preaching of the gospel of the kingdom…will be a sign of the consummation of the age.” Readers may respond, “Hasn’t the gospel already been preached around the globe?” Witness Lee retorts,121 “The gospel of grace has been preached in every continent, but not the gospel of the kingdom. The gospel of grace is the lower gospel, but the gospel of the kingdom is the higher gospel. This higher gospel will be brought to every continent through…the Lord’s recovery.” Thus, the preaching of countless evangelists and missionaries is dismissed as a “lower gospel.” The fact that122 “the evangelization of the world in this generation” was the motto of the missionary movement (based on Matt. 24:14) is never acknowledged by LSM. W. Lee denigrates the “low gospel,” saying,123 “We should not preach the gospel in a low way. What is the center, the high point of the gospel? Is it to take a poor sinner, sprinkle some drops of blood on him, and send him to heaven?…No, it is much higher than this. God’s gospel is to make people holy brothers…be burdened for the preaching of the high gospel.” Some find W. Lee’s depiction of Christ’s redemption as to “sprinkle some drops of blood” on a “poor sinner” demeaning and offensive. Nevertheless LSM’s “blended brothers” still denigrate evangelicals’ gospel message. For e. g., LSM’s James Lee states,124 “The so-called gospel that most Christians preach is too shallow and too low; most Christians have a limited, superficial, and mistaken view concerning the gospel. All genuine Christians love to preach the gospel, but the gospel that they are preaching today is too shallow and low.” This is a sweeping condemnation—“the gospel that they [all genuine Christians] are preaching today is too shallow and low.” Astute readers ask isn’t there’s only one true gospel? How can this be reconciled with LSM’s two gospels—a “low gospel” and a “high gospel”? What’s the scriptural basis for LSM’s 2 gospels?

In LSM’s view the Local Church alone possesses the “high gospel” of the kingdom. They claim only “the Recovery” can preach this gospel worldwide, fulfilling Matt. 24:14, so that Christ can return to end this age. LSM President, Benson Phillips, declares,125 “It is clear that Christianity will not and cannot carry this out. Christianity does not have this gospel. Rather this gospel is with His recovery. All the truths in the Lord’s recovery comprise the gospel of the kingdom. Thus, only the Lord’s recovery can accomplish the widespread preaching of the gospel of the kingdom.” Thus a general sign of the Lord’s return, interpreted by LSM, becomes exclusive, sectarian, and self-centered. Due to this concept loyal Local Church members would say, “the Lord can’t return today because ‘the Recovery’ hasn’t yet brought the ‘high gospel’ to all the nations around the globe.’’ They see themselves as the sole catalyst fulfilling the prophetic signs for the Lord’s return.

[2] The Overcomers
A further point, relates to overcomers—believers who conquer (Rev. 2-3). LSM says,126 “Without the overcomers Christ has no way to come back…The overcomers are the very way for Christ to come back.” They are crucial since,127 “The overcomers are the man-child to fulfill God’s eternal purpose…the bride to satisfy Christ.” W. Lee explains that,128 “At the end of this age, the church will be ready, but not in a general way. Rather, a small number, the remnant, the overcomers, will be ready. It is a shame to be in the Lord’s recovery and yet not be an overcomer. Everyone in the Lord’s recovery must be an overcomer.” The destiny of believers who don’t overcome is bleak; W. Lee warns,129 “Christ…will recognize only His overcoming believers in the coming age. He will erase your name out of the book of life if you are a defeated believer, not for eternity, but for 1,000 years of discipline.” Many Local Church believers are haunted by the “1,000 years of outer darkness.” For them Christ’s glorious appearing is not a “blessed (happy) hope” (Titus 2:13), but a fearful prospect.

W. Lee followed the Brethren, interpreting Revelation’s 7 churches as various strands of the Christian faith. This implies overcomers exist in all segments of Christianity—Catholic, Protestant, Brethren, etc.—since overcomers are addressed in each church in Rev. 2-3. Moreover, none are told to leave their church or to join another. In contrast, Witness Lee asserts that,130 “No overcomer should stay in today’s Christianity. Apostate Christianity is not the bride; it is the harlot, either the mother harlot or the daughter harlots.” Allegedly overcoming in denominations is difficult, compared to the Recovery, since,131 “everyone in the [local] churches today can easily have an ear to hear [the Spirit. Whereas] today many in the denominations oppose the Spirit’s speaking. Those in the local churches, however, listen respectfully instead of opposing.”

“All the churches in the Lord’s recovery must become overcoming churches”—LSM’s Benson Phillips

W. Lee cautioned,132 “We should not think that everyone who is in the churches in the recovery is an overcomer.” Yet he also claims,133 “our being in the churches in the recovery will strengthen us and help us to be matured to be an overcomer. The recovery is the Lord's way to help us to be the overcomers.” He assured members,134 “The church life is the right place for you to be an overcomer.” Yet LSM trainings offer more assurance, since,135 “The full-time training [FTTA in Anaheim, CA.] is for the producing of the overcomers.” W. Lee said, “We should not expect the local church to be an overcoming church.”136 But his successors don’t hesitate to make such claims; LSM President, Benson Phillips says,137 “All the churches in the Lord’s recovery must become overcoming churches today. We must overcome individually, but we also must overcome as the church.” Doctrinally LSM acknowledges that a believer, outside the Recovery, could overcome; yet practically, that possibility is dismissed. This becomes clear when overcoming is linked to Christ’s Bride and His Body.

[3] Preparing Christ’s Bride
LSM contends that,138 “the greatest sign of the Lord’s return and the rapture [is] the preparation of matured believers to be Christ’s bride…[this is] the true driving force behind the Lord’s return.” A scriptural basis is found in Rev. 19:6 and Eph. 5:26-27. LSM states,139 “the Lord will not complete the rapture of the overcoming believers until after [the Bride] has prepared herself for her Bridegroom.” LSM maintains that being born again is not adequate, a believer must be sanctified, transformed and mature—an overcomer—to be part of Christ’s Bride. Witness Lee asserts that,140 “It is crucial that we experience the…riches of Christ to remove our oldness and defects. When all such things have been removed…we shall be the Bride in Rev. 19. When the Bride has been prepared, Christ will come as the Bridegroom…We are in the process of becoming a holy and glorious Bride for Christ!” But to whom does the “we” in these statements refer?

Don’t all genuine Christians (regardless of denomination) form the Bride? Not so says W. Lee,141 “Some may say that the work of preparing the Bride is among the spiritual ones in Catholicism, the denominations, and the independent groups …However, this is not the Lord’s way.” “This preparation, I believe, involves the work of building corporately. Those who make up the Bride must…be built together as the one Bride. Therefore, I firmly believe that the Lord is preparing His Bride among those in His recovery.’ He states,142 “The primary work of the Lord in His recovery…is to prepare His Bride.” What about Christians meeting elsewhere? W. Lee is dogmatic, alleging,143 “There is no possibility for the Lord to prepare His bride in Catholicism, the state churches, or the denominations.” Moreover,144 “No overcomer should stay in today’s Christianity. Apostate Christianity is not the bride; it is the harlot, either the mother harlot or the daughter harlots.” Thus Witness Lee dismisses and denigrates all Christian congregations apart from his “Recovery.” They won’t be Christ’s Bride.

“Could the Bride be prepared in the…denominations, free groups or the charismatic movement? Certainly not!”—W. Lee

But doesn’t Christ’s Bride, like His Body, include all believers? Not so, says W. Lee.145 “I do not believe that the bride will include a large number of believers. The bride…will not be composed of millions of believers. How many among the denominations could be counted as part of Christ’s bride?” W. Lee contends that,146 “at the end of this age, the church will be ready, but not in a general way. Rather, a small number, the remnant, the overcomers, will be ready…Everyone in the Lord’s recovery must be an overcomer…to overcome degraded Christianity…I believe that the preparation of the Bride for the Lord’s coming back is in the church life.” So Christ’s Bride doesn’t include all believers, but only “a small number, the remnant, the overcomers…in the Lord’s recovery.” The Bride is prepared only “in the church life…the Lord’s recovery.” Thus, W. Lee asks,147 “If there were no [local] church life on earth today, how could the Bride be prepared? It would be impossible. Could the Bride be prepared in the Catholic Church or in the denominations? No! Could she be prepared in the free groups or in the charismatic movement? Certainly not! I believe strongly…that the Lord intends to spread His recovery…throughout the world that His Bride might be made ready.” Thus LSM audaciously claims that Christ’s Bride is being prepared only in their midst! They alone have the “proper church life.” Loyal Local Church members would ask, “How could the Lord come back today? We—the believers in LSM’s Recovery—are not ready; so the Bride is not prepared.”

LSM makes a clear distinction between Christ’s bride and His wife. They concur that all genuine Christians compose Christ’s wife in eternity. However, LSM claims that, not all believers, but only a minority—the overcomers—constitute Christ’s bride. Hence W. Lee states that148 “the bride in Revelation 19:7, will be all the overcomers…They will be His bride in the thousand years.” However, W. Lee asserts that149 “the believers who do not overcome…will have no share in her as the bride because they will mature too late.” However, after the 1,000 years, the “Lamb’s wife” will be the Bride enlarged150 “with the addition of all the saints perfected…through the discipline in the kingdom age.” Does the Bible substantiate LSM’s distinction between the Lamb’s wife and His bride? This is another example of eisegesis. W. Lee says,151 “the bride of Christ, here [Rev. 19:7] consists only of the overcoming believers during the millennium; whereas…the wife, in Rev. 21:2 is composed of all the saved saints after the millennium for eternity.” Juxtaposing W. Lee’s exposition with Scripture suggests the Apostle John got it wrong! In Rev. 19:7 John says “wife,” but W. Lee says it means the bride. Conversely, in Rev. 21:2, John uses the term, “bride,” but W. Lee says it actually means the Lamb’s wife! Moreover Rev. 21:9 refers to “the bride, the wife of the Lamb,” suggesting no distinction between these terms is intended. We conclude that LSM’s teaching is based on an artificial distinction between the Lamb’s Bride and wife, not supported by Scripture.

“If we…follow that person we would not…be in the Lord’s bride, turn the age, or bring the Lord back.”

More recently LSM implies only those following the “blended brothers” will constitute the Bride. LSM’s senior editor, Ed. Marks, says,152 “Brother Lee warned the coworkers in Taipei, saying ‘Do not follow [Titus Chu],’ referring to the one we have quarantined [excommunicated] by name. The implication is clear; if we were to follow that person [Titus Chu] we would not…be in the preparation of the Lord’s bride, turn the age, or bring the Lord back.” Allegedly following Titus Chu disqualifies a believer from being “in the preparation of the Lord’s bride.” Apparently only those following LSM’s “blended brothers” will be qualified! Such self-serving claims have no biblical basis. In LSM’s view the number qualified to become Christ’s Bride—those who will trigger the Rapture—is getting progressively smaller, more sectarian, and more exclusive!

[4] Building up the Church
W. Lee claims,153 “The greatest prophecy is the Lord's word in Matthew 16:18—‘I will build My church’." He contends this prophecy must be fulfilled before Christ can return. He says,154 “Nearly 2,000 years ago the Lord Jesus promised that He would soon return; yet He has not come because the church is not ready. Where is the church properly built as the Lord mentioned in Matt. 16:18? Without the church properly prepared, there is no way for the Lord Jesus to return…Without this preparation it is impossible for the Lord to return. In the Lord’s recovery we are preparing the way for His return.”

“The Body equals the recovery…practically for us today, the recovery is the Body”--LSM’s Minoru Chen

W. Lee affirms that Matthew 16 refers to the universal church. He says,155 “The church revealed in Matthew 16:18 is the universal church, which is the unique Body of Christ.” One would expect the building of Christ’s body to encompass all believers. Yet W. Lee quickly narrows the focus to “we” in the Recovery. Speaking in Taipei, Taiwan, he declared,156 “What God is doing today is to obtain the Body of Christ…From now on…the entire recovery of the Lord in the whole universe is…one. We are the one Body of Christ.” LSM’s Minoru Chen declares,157 “In Brother Lee’s understanding, the Body equals the recovery…practically for us today, the recovery is the Body.” Hence, although LSM talks of “the universal church” and Christ’s Body, in practice they mean “the Body equals the Recovery,” the aggregate of LSM-affiliated local churches.

Once again, W. Lee rejects any role for the Catholic Church or denominations. He states,158 “the Lord said, ‘I will build My church.’…Yet the Lord’s prophecy here has still not been fulfilled, even by the 20th century. Christendom, composed of the apostate Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant denominations, is not the Lord’s building of His church. This prophecy is fulfilled through the Lord’s recovery, in which the building of the genuine church is accomplished.” In his view, God’s building occurs only in the Recovery, so all Christians ought to join the Local Church. W. Lee asserts,159 “In the midst of so many sects and denominations we need to…be joined to the believers in our locality to be built together with them. We should not continue to remain in the confusion of the sects and denominations.”

“Brother Lee was the wise master builder…to do the work of building we need to…be one with him.”

As if this view was not sectarian enough, LSM’s “blended brothers” now allege that God’s building work requires the supervision of “the wise master builder.” They assert,160 “In any generation of God’s building, there is one and only one master builder.” In the New Testament era the Apostle Paul fulfilled that role; more recently it was W. Lee. Hence, LSM’s senior editor, Ron Kangas, states,161 “If we would do the work of the divine building, we must be one with the wise master builder, who is the acting God.” Moreover, he says,162 “We believe that, in principle, in the Lord’s recovery our brother Lee was the wise master builder. If we want to do the work of building, we need to also be one with him.” Although Witness Lee passed away in 1997, LSM’s “blended brothers” claim (in some ethereal way) they are still co-working with him!163

[5] A Self-centered LSM-driven Eschatology

“Other Christians are working, but they are not working the work of God”—LSM’s Benson Phillips

LSM criticizes the pre-tribulation view as164 “an event driven eschatology, in which worldly events dictate the fulfillment of God’s purpose in this age.” LSM’s eschatology is not driven by world events; it is driven by “the Recovery,” composed of LSM-affiliated local churches. In LSM’s view, they alone dictate the fulfillment of God’s purpose in this age; the labor of all believers outside “the Recovery” means nothing. LSM President, Benson Phillips, declares,165 “There are Christians working throughout this whole earth. I would like to say boldly that they are not working the work of God…We recognize that other Christians are working, but they are not working the work of God.” In LSM’s view they alone are “working the work of God;” Christ’s Body is being built up and His Bride is being prepared only in LSM’s Local Churches. The rest of166 “Christianity today is stranded on the sands of superstition, superficiality, and lukewarm theology,” Witness Lee says dismissively. In their self-centered view, when LSM’s local churches are prepared as Christ’s Body & Bride and when “the Recovery” has preached the “high gospel” around the globe, then the Rapture can take place. Until these signs are fulfilled by LSM-affiliates, the Rapture cannot happen, Christ cannot return. It is a self-centered, LSM-driven, eschatology.

“Millions of genuine believers…will ironically find themselves left behind when the first-fruits are raptured…[because] the spiritual books they read never encouraged them to mature…”--LSM’s N. Betz

LSM regards their literature as indispensible for early rapture. Critiquing the Left Behind series, LSM’s Nathan Betz writes,167 “It would not be too much to say that millions of genuine believers…will ironically find themselves left behind when the first-fruits are raptured by virtue of the simple fact that the spiritual books they read never encouraged them to mature in the divine life.” For Nathan Betz, reading spiritual books is a major determinant of early rapture. In his view, tragically, millions of genuine believers have been reading Left Behind novels, rather than LSM’s publications! Their failure to read LSM’s books will cause them to be left behind at the overcomers’ rapture and endure the great tribulation. Apparently God’s Word and the Holy Spirit are insufficient; LSM’s books are the “magic bullet” to be rapture ready!

LSM’s claims are audacious. By their own estimates, there are merely168 “300,000 saints in over 3,000 churches outside mainland China. Inside mainland China there are conservatively, 850,000 saints in the Lord’s recovery.” This yields a grand total of 1.15 million members of LSM’s Local Church worldwide in 2003. They represent a mere 0.1%--less than one-in-a-thousand--of the world’s Christians. Stated differently 99.9% of global Christians are not in the “Lord’s Recovery;”169 Yet, despite a miniscule proportion of global Christians, LSM audaciously claims Christ’s Bride is being prepared only in their midst! Christ’s Body is being built up among them alone! Incredibly, loyal Local Church members have the attitude, “How could the Lord come back today? We—the Local Church believers in LSM’s “Recovery”—are not ready; therefore the Bride is not yet prepared.” LSM’s claims are elitist, exclusive, sectarian, self-centered, and audacious.

CONCLUSION

W. Lee boasted his170 “Life-studies…resolve difficult portions in the Bible…that have puzzled readers for the past 2,000 years.” Although 171“the rapture is like so many pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.” He asserted,172 “we have the spiritual wisdom today, we can…put the puzzle together to give us a clear picture.” Having “exercised over this ‘jigsaw puzzle’ for a good many years,” he declared,173 “I finally put all the pieces together!...Now, instead of a puzzle, we have a vivid picture.” His “Chart of the 70 Weeks & the Coming of Christ, with the Rapture…” is this “vivid picture.” But does it resolve the issues?

W. Lee commandeered J. N. Darby’s dispensational system. But, when he transmuted Darby’s scheme, its imminency was lost. W. Lee redefined “pre-tribulation,” so Darby’s “Pre-70th week” rapture became a “Mid-70th week” rapture, with serious repercussions. The standard pre-tribulation view predicts an ‘any moment,’ sign-less, rapture. W. Lee’s end-time system does not; certain prophesied events (signs) must occur before the overcomers’ rapture; hence Christ could not return today. Moreover, once history’s final 7-years start, the day of rapture can be known. These implications contradict Scripture. Jesus said, “no one knows the day or hour, not even…the Son, but the Father only” (Matt. 24:36). End-time schemes which predict the day of rapture contradict this Scripture. Yet W. Lee asserts, “We can even figure out the day of the rapture…” Also Scripture warns that Christ’s return is imminent. Jesus charged “Watch…for you do not know on what day your Lord comes” (Matt. 24:42). He comes like a thief (Matt. 24:43; Luke 12:39)—sudden, unscheduled, unexpected and unannounced. LSM’s scheme implies a “countdown to rapture.” Yet no thief provides a countdown to his arrival!
LSM’s end-time scheme is fatally flawed by its conflict with Scripture and its internal contradictions. W. Lee cites Local Church folklore, saying,174 “On the last day of 1925…[M.E. Barber] prayed, "Lord…will [You] let 1925 pass…on this last day I still pray that You will come back today!" Based on her example, W. Lee warns believers the Lord “will come secretly as a thief…[so] we need to watch and be ready.” Miss Barber’s prayer and the Lord’s charge to watch both assume imminence—the Lord could come back today. However W. Lee’s eschatology excludes this possibility. His message is entitled, the Signs Concerning the Coming of Christ. Among the “signs” preceding rapture, Witness Lee asserts175 Antichrist must emerge to lead the revived Roman Empire and make a 7-year pact with Israel, allowing Jewish worship in the rebuilt Jerusalem Temple. The time interval needed to fulfill these prophetic signs means that Christ could not come back today; His return is not imminent in LSM’s scenario. Hence LSM’s scheme directly contradicts the sentiments of M. E. Barber’s prayer.

Witness Lee failed to resolve Bible difficulties regarding the rapture and end-time events. LSM’s end-time scheme is fatally flawed; it contradicts Scripture and is internally inconsistent. Moreover, W. Lee’s interpretations of the signs of Christ’s Body, His Bride and worldwide gospel preaching are exclusive, sectarian, and self-centered. Scripture presents Christ’s Body, His Bride and the gospel as grand, universal items, including all genuine believers. Yet, in W. Lee’s hands, these great items become narrow, elitist items allegedly being fulfilled exclusively within LSM-affiliated local churches. LSM’s sectarian interpretations are devoid of any sound Biblical foundation; they should be totally repudiated.

Nigel Tomes,
Toronto, CANADA
February, 2012.

NOTES:
The author thanks those who commented on earlier drafts. The author alone is responsible for the contents of this piece. The views expressed here are solely the author’s and should not be attributed to any believers, elders, co-workers or churches he is associated with. This article evaluates LSM’s eschatology from within the dispensational, futurist, pre-millennial paradigm. The dispensational interpretation of Daniel’s 70 weeks (Dan. 9) is taken as a given. Space does not permit examining the validity of that paradigm per se.
1. W. Lee states: “Today in the Recovery Version of the NT, the notes related to the prophecies are extracts obtained through my study of the writings of Darby, Pember, Govett, Panton, and Brother Nee. These notes are very clear and transparent. Hence, our knowledge concerning the biblical prophecies has a solid foundation; it did not come out of our own imagination, nor is it our original, unique creation. Rather, what we see is an advancement that we made by standing on the shoulders of those who were before us.” [W. Lee, Up-to-Date Presentation of the God-Ordained Way & the Signs Concerning the Coming of Christ, chap. 7, sect. 1, emphasis added]
2. W. Lee writes, “Those in the school of partial rapture say that the overcomers will be raptured earlier than the majority of the believers. The Bible teachers in this school include G. H. Pember, Robert Govett, and D. M. Panton. Those in this last school have seen many details concerning the Lord’s coming back and our rapture.” [W. Lee, Conclusion of the NT, (Msgs. 172-188), Chap. 11, Sect. 1]
3. W. Nee, Collected Works, Vol. 60: Miscellaneous Records of the Kuling Training (2), Chapter 28, Section 1. These quotes in context read: “In my whole life I have never been impressed by another person like I was by Miss M. E. Barber. She was indeed a person who waited for the Lord's return. There are many famous men in Christianity who studied prophecy, such as D. M. Panton. They all knew about the Lord's return. But to my knowledge, only Miss Barber was a person who truly waited for His return. It was a big surprise to her that the Lord had not returned in her time. One year I spent the last day, New Year's eve, with her. She prayed, "Lord, if You want to come now, there is still time this year; You do not have to wait until next year." Her face was towards the Lord's coming. Christians do not wait for a time when we will serve the church; we wait for a time when the Lord will come again. If a believer is not careful, but substitutes other things for the Lord's return, he becomes fallen immediately. Once Miss Barber wrote a hymn concerning the Lord's coming. I did not understand one line she wrote in her hymn. She answered, "Come with me and I will show you." We went out and took a walk. When we were about to turn a corner, she said to me, "The Lord is coming; He is getting closer and closer. Perhaps we will see Him around the corner." In her I saw a person who was waiting for the Lord's return, and I realized what it means to wait for the Lord to return. Her whole life was a life of preparing for the Lord's return. Day by day, while she lived on the earth, she waited eagerly for the Lord to return.” [W. Nee, Collected Works, Vol. 60: Miscellaneous Records of the Kuling Training (2), Chapter 28, Section 1, emphasis added] W. Nee also refers to this incident in W. Nee, Collected Works, Vol. 50: Messages for Building Up New Believers (3), Chapter 18, Section 1 and W. Nee, Collected Works, Vol. 10: The Present Testimony (3), Chapter 13, Section 3 In the latter, W. Nee says, “One sister from the West was truly a person who was waiting for the Lord's second coming. (Many scholars of prophecy do not even know what it is to wait for the Lord's second coming!) Whenever I went to her, I was afraid of doing anything, because as soon as she opened her mouth, I realized that she was a very experienced person. I remember that I prayed with her on the last day of 1925. She said, "Lord, are You really going to let 1925 go by? Do You really want to wait until 1926 before You will come back? Even on this last day, I will still ask You to come today." I knew what she was praying for. Several months later I met her on the street. She held my hand and said to me, "Brother, it is strange. Why has He still not come back today?" These words proved that she not only was a scholar of prophecy, but was also a person who had fellowship with God and who truly waited for the Lord.” [W. Nee, Collected Works, Vol. 10: The Present Testimony (3), Chapter 13, Section 3, emphasis added]
4. Besides the references above, W. Lee refers to M. E. Barber’s attitude in his biography of W. Nee. He writes, “Day by day Miss Barber anticipated the Lord's return. On the last day of a certain year, as the two of them walked together, they neared a street corner. She said, "Perhaps as we turn the corner we will meet Him." She eagerly anticipated the Lord's coming back. She lived and worked under the hope of the Lord's return.” [W. Lee, Watchman Nee—A Seer of the Divine Revelation in the Present Age, Chapter 3, Section 3, emphasis added] W. Lee also refers to the same incident: “I know that Miss M.E. Barber was one who lived such a life. On the last day of 1925, Brother Nee went to pray with her, and she prayed, "Lord, do You really mean to say that You will let 1925 pass by, that You will wait until 1926 before You come back? However, on this last day I still pray that You will come back today!" Not long afterwards, Brother Nee met her on the street, and again she said to him, "It is really strange that up to this day He has not yet come back." [W. Lee, Message by W. Lee in Kuching, Malaysia on October 31, 1990 The Up-to-Date Presentation of the God-Ordained Way and the Signs Concerning the Coming of Christ, Chapter 7, Section 4, p. 68, emphasis added] Again W. Lee writes, “Day by day she was waiting for the Lord's coming back. On the last day of 1926 (sic.) [actually 1925 according to W. Nee], she was taking a walk with Brother Nee. When they turned the corner to another street she said to Brother Nee, "Maybe as we turn this corner, we will meet Him." She was a person waiting for the Lord's return. She lived and walked in the presence of our returning Lord.” [W. Lee, The History of the Church and the Local Churches, Chapter 4, Section 2]
5. While ministering on “the Signs Concerning the Coming of Christ,” W. Lee cited Miss Barber as an e.g. of the “Believers’ Attitude toward the Coming of Christ” saying, “I know that Miss M.E. Barber was one who lived such a life. On the last day of 1925, Brother Nee went to pray with her, and she prayed, "Lord, do You really mean to say that You will let 1925 pass by, that You will wait until 1926 before You come back? However, on this last day I still pray that You will come back today!" Not long afterwards, Brother Nee met her on the street, and again she said to him, "It is really strange that up to this day He has not yet come back." [W. Lee, Message by W. Lee in Kuching, Malaysia on Oct. 31, 1990 The Up-to-Date Presentation of the God-Ordained Way and the Signs Concerning the Coming of Christ, Chapter 7, Section 4, p. 68, emphasis added]
6. W. Lee, The Apostles' Teaching, Chapter 8, Section 2
7. Take, for e.g., W. Lee’s statement: “In the middle of the 70th week the man-child and the 144,000 will be raptured to the third heaven.” [W. Lee, Life-Study of 2 Peter, Chapter 12, Section 2]
8. W. Lee, Crystallization-Study Outlines—1 and 2 Thess. and Song of Songs 7–8, Chapter 1, Section 10
9. W. Lee, The Up-to-Date Presentation of the God-Ordained Way and the Signs Concerning the Coming of Christ, (1990) Chapter 6, Section 3, p. 59
10. This contradiction is most evident in W. Lee’s book, entitled (in part) The Signs Concerning the Coming of Christ, (1990). At the end of that book, in a section: entitled: “Watching and Being Ready for It [Christ’s Coming],” W. Lee refers to Sister M.E. Barber saying, “I know that Miss M.E. Barber was one who lived such a life. On the last day of 1925, Brother Nee went to pray with her, and she prayed, ‘Lord, do You really mean to say that You will let 1925 pass by, that You will wait until 1926 before You come back? However, on this last day I still pray that You will come back today!’ Not long afterwards, Brother Nee met her on the street, and again she said to him, ‘It is really strange that up to this day He has not yet come back.’ Following this recounting W. Lee writes, “When the Lord comes, He will come secretly as a thief to those who love Him, and will steal them away as His treasures and bring them into His presence in the heavens (Matt. 24:42-43). Hence, we need to watch and be ready (Matt. 25:13; 24:44).” [W. Lee, Message by W. Lee in Kuching, Malaysia on October 31, 1990 The Up-to-Date Presentation of the God-Ordained Way and the Signs Concerning the Coming of Christ, Chapter 7, Section 4, p. 68] Note that this in a concluding message about the Signs Concerning the Coming of Christ. There is a contradiction between this incident and the overall theme of this book; if there are signs which must be fulfilled prior to the secret rapture (as W. Lee asserts) then the Lord could not “come back today” as M. E. Barker prayed!!
11. W. Lee, The Apostles' Teaching, Chapter 9, Section 5
12. Quoted in Crawford Gribben, Writing the Rapture: Prophecy Fiction in Evangelical America (Oxford: OUP, 2009) p.
13. Ernest R. Sandeen, The Roots of Fundamentalism (Baker Book House, 1980) pp. 62-63
14. Ernest R. Sandeen, The Roots of Fundamentalism (Baker Book House, 1980) p.63
15. W. Lee states Daniel’s “70 weeks are divided into three parts, each week being 7 years in length:
• First, 7 weeks (49 years) were apportioned from the issuing of the decree to restore & rebuild Jerusalem (Neh. 2:1-8) to the completion of the rebuilding.
• Second, 62 weeks (434 years) were apportioned from the completion of the rebuilding of Jerusalem to the cutting off (crucifixion) of the Messiah—Dan. 9:26.
• Third, the last week of 7 years will be for Antichrist to make a firm covenant with the people of Israel (Dan. 9:27); in the middle of that week he will break the covenant, terminate Israel’s sacrifices & oblations to God, and persecute those who fear God; this will be the beginning of the great tribulation, which will last for three and a half years.” [W. Lee, Crystallization-Study Outlines—1 and 2 Thess. and Song of Songs 7–8, Chapter 1, Section 10]
• The first two parts have been fulfilled in history; the final section remains pending. W. Lee teaches, following Darby, that Christ’s crucifixion stopped Israel’s “prophetic clock,” after 69 weeks, leaving the 70th week unfulfilled. As LSM’s Ron Kangas states, “We are now living in the interval…before the 70th week. This interval, the duration of which is not revealed, is the age of grace and the age of the church.” [Ron Kangas, “A Brief Presentation of a Biblical Eschatology,” in LSM’s Affirmation & Critique, (April, 2000) p. 89]
16. The quote, in context reads: “After the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus, God gave up the children of Israel and focused His attention on the church. Therefore, at the time of Christ’s crucifixion, the history of the children of Israel was suspended. This suspension will continue until the end of the church age, when God will once again visit the children of Israel. Then the last of Daniel’s 70 weeks will begin. After this 70th week, there will be the millennium, the 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth. The millennium will be followed by the new heaven and the new earth with the New Jerusalem. That will be eternity.” [W. Lee, Life-Study of 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Chapter 27, Section 3]
17. Professor Craig Blaising summarizes these points, saying, “The church…comes into existence as a parenthesis within the earthly program of God’s purpose for Israel. This parenthesis must be closed for the earthly program to resume. The closure of that parenthesis is the pre-tribulation rapture. By means of the rapture—sign-less, sudden, mysterious…the heavenly people will be removed from the earth to heaven. Daniel’s chronology of the seventy sevens, having been interrupted by the church, would resume. The 70th week—the 7-year tribulation—would commence, and God would begin again to prepare an earthly people [Israel] for the fulfillment of earthly promises.” [Craig Blaising, “A Case for the Pre-tribulation Rapture,” in Three Views on the Rapture, by Stanley N. Gundry & Alan Hultberg (eds.) 2010, p. 69]
18. Left Behind is a series of 16 best-selling novels (1995-2007) written by Tim LaHaye & Jerry B. Jenkins, dealing with Christian dispensational End Times: John N. Darby’s pre-tribulation, pre-millennial view of the end of the world. Translated into 25+ languages, total sales surpassed 65 million copies. 7 titles in the series reached #1 on the bestseller lists for the New York Times.
19. Wayne Gruden, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI., 1994, p. 1100, emphasis added.
20. Herman A. Hoyt, The End Times, BMH Books, Winona Lake, IN., 1969, p. 69. The quote & reference are Gruden’s.
21. John Walvoord explains that the pre-tribulation interpretation “regards the coming of the Lord and the translation [rapture] of the church as preceding immediately the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy of a final 7-year period before the Second Advent…At the translation [rapture], before the 7 years, Christ will return to meet the church in the air; at the second advent, after the 7 years, it is held that Christ will return with His Church from heaven to establish His millennial reign on earth.” [Walvoord quoted by Winston T. Sutherland, JOHN NELSON DARBY: HIS CONTRIBUTIONS TO CONTEMPORARY THEOLOGICAL HIGHER EDUCATION, University of North Texas Dissertation, May 2007, p. 50]
22. T. D. Ice explains the dispensational view that “the Church and Israel are distinct and that God will fulfill a specific plan for national Israel in the future. This means that the church neither replaces nor continues Israel. There will be a distinctive future for ethnic Israel." [Thomas D. Ice, Dispensationalism, Date-Setting, and Distortion, Biblical Perspectives, Vol. 1, No. 5 Sep/Oct, 1988 p. 3] Pentecost also explains this view, saying, “The Church and Israel are two distinct groups with whom God has a divine plan. The church is a mystery, unrevealed in the Old Testament. This present mystery age intervenes [i.e. the “great parenthesis”] within the program of God for Israel because of Israel’s rejection of the Messiah at His first advent [coming]. This mystery program must be completed before God can resume His program with Israel and bring it to completion.” [J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1958), p. 193]
23. Thomas D. Ice, "Israel's Fall Feasts and Date-Setting of the Rapture" (2009) Article Archives. Paper 70, p. 5. Timothy P. Weber notes that Darby “taught that since the church as God’s heavenly people had no earthly prophecies of its own, there was no prophesied event between the present and the rapture of the church; thus it might occur at any moment.” [Timothy P. Weber in “A Case for Historic Pre-millennialism: an alternative to ‘Left Behind’ Eschatology,” by Craig L. Blomberg, Sung Wook Chung (eds.) p. ]
24. Hal Lindsey, in his best-selling Late Great Planet Earth, described the ‘rebirth of Israel’ as the ‘paramount prophetic sign of the imminent end of the age.” Our concluding statement (in this paragraph) “They simply ‘set the stage’ for end-time events” is important since the “stage could be set” for either a short of long period of time before prophesied end-time events occur. “Setting the stage” gives no necessary indication of when predicted end-time events will actually commence.
25. Stanley J. Grenz, The Millennial Maze, p. 110.
26. Thomas D. Ice, "Israel's Fall Feasts and Date-Setting of the Rapture" (2009) Article Archives. Paper 70, p. 4 http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/pretrib_arch/70
27. Thomas D. Ice, "Israel's Fall Feasts and Date-Setting of the Rapture" (2009). Article Archives. Paper 70, pp. 5-6
28. Imminence is not to be confused with immanent (transcendent) or eminent (honorable).
29. The first 3 points are based on Gerald B. Stanton, “The Doctrine of Imminence: Is it Biblical?” Chapter 6 in Thomas D. Ice & Timothy J. Demy, The Return: Understanding Christ's Second Coming and the End Times, pp. 108-9
30. quoted by Richard R. Reiter, A History of the Development of Rapture Positions, in Three Views on the Rapture, Stanley N. Gundry & Gleason L. Archer Jr. (eds.) p. 40, emphasis original
31. These points from Wayne A. Brindle, Biblical Evidence for the Imminence of the Rapture, Bibliotheca Sacra, No. 158 (April–June 2001) p. 138
32. Gerald B. Stanton, Kept from the Hour: Biblical Evidence for the Pre-tribulational Return of Christ, 4th Edition (Miami Springs, FL: Schoettle Publishing Co., [1956], 1991), p. 108.
33. Mark Hitchcock & Thomas D. Ice, The Truth behind Left Behind, p.
34. Gerald B. Stanton, Kept from the Hour: Biblical Evidence for the Pre-tribulational Return of Christ, 4th Edition (Miami Springs, FL: Schoettle Publishing Co., [1956], 1991), p. 123. Quoted by Thomas D. Ice, "Imminence and the Rapture" (2009), Article Archives, Paper 23, p. 3
35. W. Nee, Collected Works, Vol. 19, Notes on Scriptural Messages (3), Chapter 8, Section 4, pp. 546-7
36. W. Nee, Collected Works, Vol. 15: Study on Matthew, Chapter 27, Section 6
37. W. Nee, Collected Works, Vol. 5: The Christian (3), Chapter 1, Section 14
38. Richard R. Reiter, A History of the Development of Rapture Positions, in Three Views on the Rapture, Stanley N. Gundry & Gleason L. Archer Jr. (eds.) p. 12
39. Arthur T. Pierson quoted in Richard R. Reiter, A History of the Development of Rapture Positions, in Three Views on the Rapture, Stanley N. Gundry & Gleason L. Archer Jr. (eds.) pp. 20-21. The quote in context reads: “The imminence of the Lord’s coming is destroyed the moment you locate between the [Lord’s] first and second coming…any period of time whatsoever that is a definite period, whether 10, 100, or 1,000 years. I cannot look for a thing as an imminent event which I know is not going to take place for 10 years…” The original source is A. T. Pierson, "The Coming of the Lord—the Practical Center of the Bible," Addresses on the Second Coming of the Lord Delivered at the Prophetic Conference, Allegheny, PA., Dec., 3-6, 1895, ed. Joseph Kyle & William S. Miller [Pittsburgh: W. W. Waters, n.d.), p. 104].
40. John F. Walvoord, The Rapture Question, quoted in Richard R. Reiter, A History of the Development of Rapture Positions, in Three Views on the Rapture, Stanley N. Gundry & Gleason L. Archer Jr. (eds.) p. 37
41. Wayne A. Brindle, Biblical Evidence for the Imminence of the Rapture, Bibliotheca Sacra, No. 158 (April–June 2001) p. 138. Brindle proposes “Four criteria may be suggested, any one of which indicates imminence: (1) The passage speaks of Christ’s return as at any moment. (2) The passage speaks of Christ’s return as ‘near,’ without stating any signs that must precede His coming. (3) The passage speaks of Christ’s return as something that gives believers hope and encouragement, without indicating that these believers will suffer tribulation. (4) The passage speaks of Christ’s return as giving hope without relating it to God’s judgment of unbelievers.” (p. 139)
42. Wayne A. Brindle, Biblical Evidence for the Imminence of the Rapture, Bibliotheca Sacra, No. 158 (April–June 2001) p. 143]
43. Wayne A. Brindle, Biblical Evidence for the Imminence of the Rapture, Bibliotheca Sacra, No. 158 (April–June 2001) p. 146
44. Wayne A. Brindle, Biblical Evidence for the Imminence of the Rapture, Bibliotheca Sacra, No. 158 (April–June 2001) p. 149
45. Quoted in Mark Hitchcock & Thomas D. Ice “The Truth behind Left Behind,” p. 40
46. Wayne A. Brindle, Biblical Evidence for the Imminence of the Rapture, Bibliotheca Sacra, No. 158 (April–June 2001) p. 151
47. W. Nee, Collected Works, Vol. 3, The Christian (1), Chapter 9, Section 7
48. W. Lee, Life-Study of 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Chapter 27, Section 3. W. Lee also talks about the suspension of Israel’s kingdom and its future restoration, saying, “The millennial kingdom…will be a time of restoration…This word concerning the kingdom surely must have been a comfort and an encouragement to the people of Israel…Because the children of Israel rejected Christ the King, the restoration was somewhat suspended, and a time of judgment over the children of Israel entered in, which has lasted about 20 centuries. Therefore, Christ needs to come a second time, this time not riding a donkey but coming as lightning (Matt. 24:27). Then peace and the eternal kingdom, as God's dominion, will be on the earth from sea to sea.” [W. Lee, Life-Study of Zechariah, Chapter 9, Section 3, emphasis added]
49. W. Lee, Up-to-Date Presentation of the God-Ordained Way and the Signs Concerning the Coming of Christ, Chapter 6, Section 1. W. Lee maintained this view to the end of his ministry. His Crystallization-Study Outlines of 1 and 2 Thess. (published posthumously) state:“There is a gap of unknown duration between the first 69 weeks and the last week of the 70 weeks; this gap is the age of mystery, the age of grace, the age of the church” [W. Lee, Crystallization-Study Outlines—1 and 2 Thess., Chapter 1, Section 10]
50. W. Lee, Conclusion of the NT, (Msgs. 172-188), Chapter 11, Section 1.
51. W. Lee, Prophecy of the Four 'Sevens' in the Bible, Chap. 1, Section 8] W. Lee also states, “The Bible teachers in this school include G. H. Pember, Robert Govett, and D. M. Panton…These teachers say that, according to the New Testament, the believers who are overcomers and mature earlier will be raptured before the great tribulation, but the remainder of the believers will pass through most of the tribulation so that they may be helped to mature. Then those believers will be raptured close to the end of the great tribulation.” [W. Lee, Conclusion of the NT, (Msgs. 172-188), Chapter 11, Section 1]
52. W. Nee, Collected Works, Vol. 4, The Christian (2), Chapter 1, Section 10
53. W. Lee, The Kingdom, Chapter 40, Section 3, emphasis added. Note that throughout this article we ignore the distinction between different classes of overcomer—the man-child, first-fruits, martyred believers, etc. Within W. Lee’s scheme all these overcomers are raptured simultaneously. Hence, in terms of the time of their rapture, no distinction is necessary.
54. W. Lee, Glad Tidings to Fallen Man, Chapter 1, Section 4 also Life-Study of Genesis, Chapter 20, Section 4
55. W. Lee, General Sketch of the NT in the Light of Christ and the Church {1964}, Part 2: Romans through Philemon, Chapter 13, Section 4, emphasis added
56. W. Nee, Collected Works, Vol. 4, The Christian (2), Chapter 1, Section 10
57. W. Nee, Collected Works, Set 1, Vol. 19: Notes on Scriptural Messages (3), Chapter 9, Section 5, pp. 561-2
58. W. Nee, Collected Works, Vol. 60: Miscellaneous Records of the Kuling Training (2), Chapter 28, Section 1
59. Elsewhere W. Nee called the rapid accumulation of wealth a sign. He says, “Before the Lord's imminent coming, there will be clear signs. During this time, men will accumulate wealth in an unprecedented way…No other age will see as much wealth as the age immediately preceding the Lord's return.” [W. Nee, Collected Works, Vol. 61: Matured Leadings in the Lord's Recovery (1), Chapter 19, Section 2] He observed that “Now some people make U.S. $1,300 every second. In less than 20 minutes, they are millionaires. The rich of the past cannot be called rich when compared to the rich of this age.” [W. Nee, Collected Works, Vol. 61: Matured Leadings in the Lord's Recovery (1), Chapter 19, Section 2] Yet this is not a definite, unambiguous sign; the increasing rate of wealth accumulation is a trend. Today it is true of some, “In less than 20 seconds, they are millionaires.” In many eras it could be said, “the rich of the past can’t be …compared to the rich of this age.” Such recurring observations are not definitive signs of Christ’s coming. This is like Paul’s statement, “evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse” (2 Tim. 3:13) which describes an on-going trend. No matter how depraved evil men become, they can always become worse; hence this observation is not a definitive sign.
60. W. Nee, Collected Works, The Present Testimony (1), Vol. 8, p. 10, emphasis added
61. W. Nee, Collected Works, Vol. 60: Miscellaneous Records of the Kuling Training (2), Chapter 28, Section 1. The quote in context reads: In her I saw a person who was waiting for the Lord's return, and I realized what it means to wait for the Lord to return. Her whole life was a life of preparing for the Lord's return. Day by day, while she lived on the earth, she waited eagerly for the Lord to return.”
62. W. Lee, The Kingdom, Chapter 40, Section 7, emphasis added
63. W. Lee, Life-Study of Revelation, Chapter 47, Section 1
64. W. Lee’s “Chart of the 70 Weeks and the Coming of Christ, with the Rapture of the Saints” is printed in LSM’s Recovery Version of the Bible. Concerning this Chart, W. Lee says, “In 1940 I spent many days to compose this chart, and since that time I have labored in the Lord to improve it. This chart helps us to see the sketch of Revelation, putting together the jigsaw puzzle. Without such a chart it is difficult to understand this book [i.e., Revelation].” [W. Lee, General Sketch of the NT in the Light of Christ and the Church, A - Part 4: Revelation, Chapter 5, Section 1] In September 1986 W. Lee indicated he was still modifying this chart. He reported “The Chart of the Seventy Weeks and the Coming of Christ, with the Rapture of the Saints…I had intended to draw the chart here in the spring, but I was limited by time, energy, and manpower, thus I did not start. Then I went back to the United States to hold the summer training there, and after its conclusion, I began to draw the chart. Then during my rest on the mountain I continued to draw until I came back to Taipei. During this period of time I made…corrections repeatedly.” [W. Lee, The Revelation and Vision of God, Chapter 9, Section 3]
65. W. Lee, Up-to-Date Presentation of the God-Ordained Way and the Signs Concerning the Coming of Christ, chap. 7, section 1
66. Alan Hultberg, Three Views on the Rapture: Pretribulation, Prewrath or Posttribulation, p. 13. Hultberg here is distinguishing the three views in terms of timing. He says, “Because the modern circles in which this debate developed often referred to these final 7 years as ‘the tribulation,’ the sides of the debate have been labeled pretribulationism, midtribulationism or posttribulationism. Pre-tribulationists hold that the rapture will occur before the final 7-year period.” [Alan Hultberg, Three Views on the Rapture: Pretribulation, Prewrath or Posttribulation, p. 13.]
67. Fred Opoku-Gyimah, End Time Prophecy (2009) p. 36. W. Lee expresses a view akin to this, in his early writings, when he says, “The ‘one week’ of Daniel 9:27 specifies an era of seven years considered by all Bible teachers as the period of the great tribulation. The great tribulation will be intensified during the last half of the seven years, referring to the 42 months or to the 1,260 days.” [W. Lee, Glad Tidings to Fallen Man, Chapter 1, Section 4 also Life-Study of Genesis, Chapter 20, Section 4, emphasis added] W. Lee talks in terms of “the great tribulation,” whereas the standard pre-tribulation view refers to “tribulation.” Nevertheless W. Lee says this “tribulation will be intensified during the last half of the seven years, referring to the [last] 42 months or to the 1,260 days.” [W. Lee, Glad Tidings to Fallen Man, Chapter 1, Section 4 also Life-Study of Genesis, Chapter 20, Section 4, emphasis added]
68. W. Lee, Life-Study of 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Chapter 26, Section 1. Notice here the terms “great tribulation” and “tribulation” are used interchangeably. The quote in context reads: “Many teach that the Lord’s coming will take place before the great tribulation. However, when they speak of the tribulation, they usually mean the entire last 7 years. According to their understanding, the whole of the last week of Daniel’s 70 weeks will be the period of the great tribulation. They teach that Christ will come back to rapture the believers before this time of tribulation, that is, before the last 7 years of this age.”
69. W. Lee, Life-Study of 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Chap. 26, Section 1.
70. W. Lee, Conclusion of the NT, (Msgs. 172-188), Chapter 11, Section 1. The quote in context reads: “the pre-tribulation school say that our rapture will take place before the great tribulation which, strictly speaking, will be the last 3.5 years of this age. (…the 2nd half of the last week of the 70 weeks revealed in Daniel 9.)”
71. See for e.g. Gleason L. Archer, Jr., “The Case for the Mid-70th Week Rapture Position” in Three Views on Rapture, Stanley N. Grundy & Gleason L. Archer Jr. (eds.) pp. 113-146.
72. W. Lee, Conclusion of the NT, (Msgs. 172-188), Chapter 11, Section 1
73. LSM, Lesson Book, Level 2: The Triune God—The Triune God and the Person and Work of Christ, Chapter 23, Section 1
74. W. Lee, Life-Study of 2 Peter, Chapter 12, Section 2
75. W. Lee, Conclusion of the NT, (Msgs. 172-188), Chapter 11, Section 2
76. For e.g. W. Lee asserts that “the dead overcomers will be raptured…before the three and a half years, 1,260 days, the period of the great tribulation.” [W. Lee, Conclusion of the NT, (Msgs. 172-188), Chapter 11, Section 2].
77. W. Lee, Message by W. Lee in Kuching, Malaysia on October 31, 1990 The Up-to-Date Presentation of the God-Ordained Way and the Signs Concerning the Coming of Christ, Chapter 7, Section 4, p. 68
78. Rev. 12:1, note 1, RcV. [Note that in this quote (& subsequent quotes) we use “3.5 years” instead of the “three and a half years” in the quoted text.]
79. W. Lee, General Sketch of the NT in the Light of Christ and the Church, Part 4: Revelation, Chapter 7, Section 2. W. Lee, The Apostles' Teaching, Chapter 8, Section 3
80. W. Lee, The Apostles' Teaching, Chapter 8, Section 3
81. W. Lee, Prophecy of the Four 'Sevens' in the Bible, Chap. 3, Section 4, emphasis added. Elsewhere, along the same lines, W. Lee says, “Revelation 12 indicates that the man-child will be raptured to the throne of God. From the book of Revelation we also know that the last three and a half years will begin after the man-child is raptured. At the time of the rapture of the man-child, the Lord Jesus will still be on the throne in heaven.” (W. Lee, Life-Study of 1 & 2 Thessalonians, Chapter 27, Section 3)
82. W. Lee, Life-Study of 2 Peter, Chapter 12, Section 2
83. W. Lee, Prophecy of the Four 'Sevens' in the Bible, Chap. 1, Section 10. Along the same lines he says elsewhere, Revelation “Chapter 12 points out that right before the beginning of the great tribulation, the man-child, the dead overcomers, will be raptured (Rev. 12:5).” (W. Lee, Prophecy of the Four 'Sevens' in the Bible, Chap. 3, Section 4)
84. W. Nee, Collected Works Vol. 34: The Glorious Church, Chapter 6, Section 5, emphasis added
85. W. Lee, Prophecy of the Four 'Sevens' in the Bible, Chap. 3, Section 4
86. W. Lee, The Apostles’ Teaching, Chap. 9, Section 3, emphasis added. The quote in context reads: “The majority of the remaining saints, who will be left after the rapture of the overcomers to pass through…the great tribulation…Because they are preserved…the entire length of time of the great tribulation, the rapture of the majority of the saints must be at the very end, the last day, of the great tribulation.”
87. W. Lee, The Apostles’ Teaching, Chap. 9, Section 3
88. W. Lee, The Apostles' Teaching, Chapter 9, Section 5
89. W. Lee, The Apostles’ Teaching, Chap. 9, Section 3
90. W. Lee, The Apostles' Teaching, Chapter 9, Section 5
91. W. Lee, The Up-to-Date Presentation of the God-Ordained Way & the Signs Concerning the Coming of Christ, (1990) Chapter 6, Section 3, p. 59
92. W. Lee, The Apostles’ Teaching, Chap. 9, Section 3
93. W. Lee, Life-Study of 2 Peter, Chapter 12, Section 2.
94. Note 98a W. Lee says, “Because the children of Israel rejected Christ the King, the restoration was somewhat suspended, and a time of judgment over the children of Israel entered in, which has lasted about twenty centuries. Therefore, Christ needs to come a second time...” [W. Lee, Life-Study of Zechariah, Chapter 9, Section 3] He also states, “When Christ returns, He will bring in the time of restoration—the millennial kingdom…He will bring in God's kingdom to this earth, and that will be the time of restoration. The returned, repentant Jews will enjoy that restoration…This is the best eschatology.” [W. Lee, Life-Study of Isaiah, Chapter 54, Section 6] Moreover, “When [Christ] comes the second time, He will come mainly in an outward way to rescue Israel from their circumstances and to bring in their restoration…This period of restoration will last for a millennium, for the 1,000-year kingdom.” [W. Lee, Life-Study of Isaiah, Chapter 31, Section 1] So, the restoration of the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6) happens at the start 1,000-year kingdom, at Christ’s open coming to the earth. Within LSM’s end-time scheme, knowing the time of Israel’s restored kingdom (Acts 1:6-7) implies dates for the raptures of both the overcomers and the majority of believers. Yet, when asked about the time, Jesus replied, “It’s not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has set by His own authority” (Acts 1:7)
95. Note 89b W. Nee, Collected Works, Vol. 15: Study on Matthew, Chapter 25, Section 12, emphasis added.
96. W. Lee, The Apostles' Teaching, Chapter 8, Section 2
97. W. Lee, Crystallization-Study Outlines—1 and 2 Thess. and Song of Songs 7–8, Chapter 1, Section 10
98. W. Lee, The Apostles' Teaching, Chapter 9, Section 5
99. Witness Lee, Life-study of Hebrews, Message #18, p. 191. The entire quote in context reads: “Some say that the Sabbath rest in this chapter is the millennium. They say that the millennial kingdom, a period of a thousand years (Rev. 20:4), will be the seventh period of a thousand years, the first six thousand years being the period from the time of Adam’s creation until the time of the Lord’s coming back. This concept is based upon the fact that in the eyes of the Lord a thousand years are the same as a day (2 Pet. 3:8). According to those who hold this concept, six days mean six thousand years, and the seventh day will be the seventh thousand, the Sabbath rest during the millennium. This interpretation has never satisfied me. To say that the Sabbath rest in [Hebrews] 4:9 is simply the millennial kingdom is not altogether accurate; it is only partially correct.” [W. Lee, Life-study of Hebrews, Message #18, p. 191, emphasis added, indicating the portion quoted in the main text.] Notice that W. Lee says, “This interpretation has never satisfied me. To say that the Sabbath rest in [Hebrews] 4:9 is simply the millennial kingdom is not altogether accurate; it is only partially correct.” W. Lee deems this interpretation “only partially correct,” not because he rejects it, but because he augments it with other applications of the “Sabbath rest” saying “Christ is rest to us in three stages. [1] In the church age…[2] in the millennial kingdom… [and 3] In the new heaven and new earth…” [W. Lee, Life-study of Hebrews, Message #18, pp. 194-5]
100. W. Lee, Life-study of Hebrews, Message #22, p. 234. The quote, in context, reads: “Do you realize that the universe is composed of three periods? The first period was the time before Adam, the period that is called the pre-Adamic age. As we saw in our Life-Study of Genesis, before Adam was created the universe was already in existence. No one can tell how long that first period of time was. The second period of the universe extends from Genesis 1:2 through the end of the coming millennium, from the time of the creation of Adam until the end of the millennium. This period of time is quite short, perhaps not more than seven thousand years. Although we may think that this is a long time, in God’s eyes seven thousand years are the equivalent of seven days, for to Him a thousand years are as one day (2 Pet. 3:8) [W. Lee, Life-study of Hebrews, Message #22, p. 234, emphasis added, indicating the portion quoted in the main text] A similar statement reads: “From the time of God’s re-creation until the full completion of His purpose will be a period of approximately seven thousand years.” [W. Lee, Life-study of Hebrews, Message #22, p. 234, emphasis added, indicating the portion quoted in the main text]
101. Witness Lee, Life-study of Hebrews, Message #18, p. 191 See note 1 above for the quote in context. A similar statement reads: “The approximately six thousand years from the creation of Adam until the second coming of Christ will issue in a restoration of the universe, but it will not result in a renewal of the universe. That requires another thousand years. After the last thousand years have passed, the entire universe will be changed from the old to the new. Then there will be a new heaven and new earth with the New Jerusalem.” [W. Lee, Life-study of Hebrews, Message #22, p. 237]
102. For more on this see my article: “DATING ADAM—A CRITIQUE OF LSM’s CHRONOLOGY—LSM adopts Ussher’s Outdated Chronology dating Mankind’s Origin at 4004 BC”
103. 2000 years from 4 BC yields AD 1997 since there was no year “Zero.” The calendar moved directly from 1 BC to AD 1.
104. W. Nee, Collected Works, vol. 3, p. 98, emphasis added.
105. W. Lee, Life-Study of the Minor Prophets, Chapter 4, Section 5 & Hosea 6:2, note 1, RcV.
106. He said, “Some people do not calculate the day & the hour [of Christ’s return], but they calculate the year and the month. This is not godly.” W. Nee, Collected Works, Vol. 15: Study on Matthew, Chapter 25, Section 12.
107. T. D. Ice, Why Date-Setting the Rapture is Wrong, (2009) p. 4
108. T. D. Ice, Why Date-Setting the Rapture is Wrong, (2009) p. 2
109. W. Lee, The Kingdom, Chapter 40, Section 7
110. Klyne R. Snodgrass, Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI (2008) p. 504
111. Rev. 7:9, note 2, RcV.
112. Concerning the interpretation of Scripture, W. Lee wrote: “The first principle is to interpret and understand the Bible as literally as possible…We should interpret the Bible according to the literal meaning of the words. No matter how difficult or out of place a literal interpretation appears to us, we have to adhere strictly to the literal meaning.”[W. Lee, On Knowing the Bible, Chapter 4, Section 1] Along the same lines, W. Nee says, “All the words in the Bible should be interpreted literally unless the literal interpretation is nearly absurd.” [W. Nee, Collected Works, Vol. 15: Study on Matthew, Chapter 6, Section 5]
113. Rev. 7:9, note 1, RcV.
114. Rev. 7:14, note 1, RcV. LSM’s Nathan Betz also confidently affirms that “The tribulation mentioned in Revelation 7:14…actually refers to the tribulations, sufferings, persecutions, and afflictions experienced by God’s redeemed people throughout the ages. The multitude standing before the throne are those who have been matured in the divine life through the great suffering that has encompassed the believers throughout the age of grace.” [Nathan Betz, Review of “The Truth behind Left Behind” by Mark Hitchcock & Thomas D. Ice; review in LSM’s Affirmation & Critique, vol. 9, No. 2 (Oct. 2004) p. 108, emphasis added]
115. LSM’s N. Betz argues that, “the [eternal] gospel that will be preached …during the tribulation is not for regeneration…it will not cause those who believe in it to become…regenerated children of God.” [Nathan Betz, Review of “The Truth behind Left Behind” by Mark Hitchcock & Thomas D. Ice; review in LSM’s Affirmation & Critique, vol. 9, No. 2 (Oct. 2004) p. 109.] LSM argues that Left Behind has a “mistaken understanding of the gospel during the Tribulation.” [A&C heading] Their “mistake” is “to maintain that people can and will be saved (born again) following the pre-tribulation rapture.” [Nathan Betz, Review, p. 108] LSM argues that people cannot be saved during the great tribulation, the last 3.5 years. It is ironic that the standard Pre-tribulation view [e.g. the Left Behind series] argues that all genuine believers will be raptured before the Tribulation, yet people can still be saved (born again) during the tribulation (despite the complete absence of believers immediately after the rapture). In contrast LSM argues that only overcomers are raptured before the tribulation; millions of genuine believers are left behind. Yet (despite the presence of millions of genuine believers on the earth) LSM maintains that people cannot be saved (born again) during the tribulation!
116. W. Nee, Collected Works, Vol. 16: Study on Revelation, Chapter 7, Section 1
117. Dan. 10:11, note 1, RcV. Besides Rev. 12, the only place Michael appears in the New Testament is in Jude, where we are told: “Michael the archangel…contended with the devil and disputed concerning the body of Moses” (Jude 9). Moses is of particular significance to Israel.
118. W. Lee, Life-Study of Matthew, Chapter 67, Section 2, pp. 778-779
119. W. Lee, Life-Study of Matthew, Chapter 61, Section 2, emphasis added
120. W. Lee, Conclusion of the NT, (Msgs. 63-78), Chapter 7, Section 4
121. W. Lee, Life-study of Matthew, p. 719 quoted by “DT” in The Ministry, vol. 10, No. 6, p. 134
122. See for e.g. Dana L. Robert, Occupy until I come: A. T. Pierson & the Evangelization of the World, chapter 6, pp. 145-176.
123. W. Lee, Life-Study of Hebrews, Chapter 14, Section 1
124. JL, The Ministry, vol. 8, No. 6 (June 2004) p. 151
125. BP, The Ministry, Vol.10, No. 6 (Sept, 2006) p. 153, emphasis added
126. W. Lee, The Satanic Chaos in the Old Creation & the Divine Economy for the New Creation, Chapter 3, Section 6
127. W. Lee, Enjoying the Riches of Christ for the Building Up of the Church as the Body of Christ, Chapter 17, Section 6
128. W. Lee, Young People's Training, Chapter 2, Section 4
129. W. Lee, The Triune God's Revelation and His Move, Chapter 11, Section 3
130. W. Lee, Enjoying the Riches of Christ for the Building Up of the Church as the Body of Christ, Chapter 17, Section 6
131. W. Lee, One Body, One Spirit, and One New Man, Chapter 10, Section 2
132. W. Lee, The Satanic Chaos in the Old Creation & the Divine Economy for the New Creation, Chapter 3, Section 6
133. W. Lee, The Satanic Chaos in the Old Creation & the Divine Economy for the New Creation, Chapter 3, Section 6
134. W. Lee, The Training and the Practice of the Vital Groups, Chapter 2, Section 5
135. W. Lee, The Training and the Practice of the Vital Groups, Chapter 2, Section 5. The quote in context reads: “The full-time training [FTTA in Anaheim, CA.] is for the producing of the overcomers. Once a church has some full-time workers as overcomers, that church is like Jerusalem with the peak of Zion.”
136. W. Lee, The Training and the Practice of the Vital Groups, Chapter 1, Section 8
137. BP., The Ministry, vol. 9, No. 8, Sept. 2005, p. 70
138. Nathan Betz, Review of “The Truth behind Left Behind” by Mark Hitchcock & Thomas D. Ice; in LSM’s Affirmation & Critique, vol. 9, No. 2 (Oct. 2004) p. 107
139. Nathan Betz, Review of “The Truth behind Left Behind” by Mark Hitchcock & Thomas D. Ice; review in LSM’s Affirmation & Critique, vol. 9, No. 2 (Oct. 2004) p. 107
140. W. Lee, Life-Study of Ephesians, Chapter 95, Section 2
141. W. Lee, Life-Study of Ephesians, Chapter 95, Section 3, emphasis added
142. W. Lee, Life-Study of Ephesians, Chapter 95, Section 3
143. W. Lee, The Lord's Recovery and the Present Situation of Religion, Chapter 2, Section 4
144. W. Lee, Enjoying the Riches of Christ for the Building Up of the Church as the Body of Christ, Chapter 17, Section 6
145. W. Lee, Fellowship Concerning the Urgent Need of the Vital Groups, Chapter 8, Section 2. The quote in context reads: “Could today’s Christianity build up the bride for Christ’s wedding? Nearly all Christians today have been drugged. Many believers today do not have a sober mind with a clear spiritual sight. I do not believe that the bride will include a large number of believers. The bride…will not be composed of millions of believers. How many among the denominations could be counted as part of Christ’s bride?”
146. W. Lee, Young People's Training, Chapter 2, Section 4, emphasis added
147. W. Lee, Young People's Training, Chapter 2, Section 4
148. W. Lee, The Basic Revelation in the Holy Scriptures, Chapter 9, Section 4
149. W. Lee, The Overcomers, Chapter 6, Section 8
150. W. Lee, The Overcomers, Chapter 6, Section 8
151. W. Lee, Rev. 19:7, note 2, RcV.
152. Ed. Marks, The Ministry, Vol.11, No. 8 (Oct. 2007) p. 197
153. W. Lee, Life-Study of Genesis, Chapter 82, Section 3
154. W. Lee, Life-Study of Romans, Chapter 28, Section 1. The quote in context reads: “Nearly 2,000 years ago the Lord Jesus promised that He would soon return; yet He has not come because the church is not ready. Where is the church properly built as the Lord mentioned in Matthew 16:18? Without the church properly prepared, there is no way for the Lord Jesus to return. His coming back requires two things: the restoration of the nation of Israel and the recovery of the church life. If you understand prophecy, you will realize that these two matters are the greatest signs of the Lord’s return. The restoration of Israel and the recovery of the church are necessary for the Lord’s coming back. Without this preparation it is impossible for the Lord to return. In the Lord’s recovery we are preparing the way for His return.”
155. W. Lee, Conclusion of the NT, Msgs. 189-204, Chapter 4, Section 1
156. W. Lee, Words of Training in the New Way, vol. 1, pp. 57-8 (Sept. 1987), emphasis added. The quote in context reads: “What God is doing today is to obtain the Body of Christ…From now on, not only are we who are in Taipei in one accord, but the entire recovery of the Lord in the whole universe is also one. We are the one Body of Christ.”
157. MC., The Ministry, v. 7, no. 6, Aug. 2003, p. 196 LSM President, Benson Phillips expresses a similar sentiment when he says, “Surely we have seen that when a brother leaves the church life…He is no longer a part of the Body.” (BP, The Ministry, vol. 9, No. 3, March 2005, p. 130) For LSM’s Benson Phillips, leaving the Local Church equals “no longer [being] a part of the Body.”
158. W. Lee, Matt. 16:18, note 4, RcV. & Life-Study of Matthew, Chapter 47, Section 4, emphasis added
159. W. Lee, The Building Work of God, Chapter 10, Section 2
160. LSM’s Senior Editor, Ron Kangas, “RK,” The Ministry, vol. 10, No. 1, (Jan./Feb. 2006) p. 149
161. RK, The Ministry, vol. 10, No. 1, (Jan./Feb. 2006) p. 212
162. RK, The Ministry, vol. 10, No. 1, (Jan./Feb. 2006) p. 213 Along the same lines LSM President, Benson Phillips says, “Brother Lee. He was a wise master builder, and he laid the foundation in the recovery.” [BP, The Ministry, vol. 10, No.1, (Jan/Feb 2006) p. 276]
163. “Today we are under the ministry of the age, cooperating with the minister of the age. We are co-workers of Witness Lee, carrying out the unique work of the one ministry, building up the corporate Christ.” (DT, Spoken April, 2005, The Ministry, Vol. 9, No. 6, June 2005, p. 142, emphasis added.) Along the same lines LSM President, Benson Phillips says “we declare strongly that his [Bro. Lee’s] ministry could never be over because his ministry is the New Testament ministry.” (Benson Phillips, The Ministry magazine, Vol. 10, No. 1, p. 275, Jan. 2006)
164. Nathan Betz, Review of “The Truth behind Left Behind” by Mark Hitchcock & Thomas D. Ice; review in LSM’s Affirmation & Critique, vol. 9, No. 2 (Oct. 2004) p. 106. The critique is against the Left Behind version of pre-tribulation eschatology.
165. BP, The Ministry, Vol. 9, No. 2, Feb. 2005, p. 106
166. W. Lee, The Triune God’s Revelation and His Move, pp. 97-99 quoted by Minoru Chen, The Ministry, Vol. 9, No. 3 (March 2005) pp. 35-6
167. Nathan Betz, Review of “The Truth behind Left Behind” by Mark Hitchcock & Thomas D. Ice; review in LSM’s Affirmation & Critique, vol. 9, No. 2 (Oct. 2004) p. 108
168. Benson Phillips, The Ministry magazine, Vol. 8, No 3, (March 2004) p. 91
169. The total number of “Affiliated Christians (church members)” is estimated for the mid-2000s at 1,359 million. (Global Table 5, line 25 in International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Vol. 33, No. 1, Jan. 2009, p. 32.)
170. “The Life-studies also resolve difficult portions in the Bible. There are a number of portions in the Bible that have puzzled readers for the past two thousand years. Some of these portions were resolved correctly, others incorrectly, and still others were not resolved. I went through these portions and consulted reference books. I then tried my best to write the answers in a proper and unbiased way. Therefore, almost all the difficult portions in the Bible are resolved in the footnotes of the Recovery Version, and the answers are definite.” [W. Lee, Guidelines for the Propagation of the Lord's Recovery, Chapter 2, Section 3, emphasis indicates quote in main text]
171. W. Lee, The Kingdom, Chapter 40, Section 7
172. W. Lee, General Sketch of the New Testament in the Light of Christ and the Church, Part 4: Revelation, Chapter 5, Section 1. The quote, in context, reads: “We have the spiritual wisdom today, we can understand Revelation and put the puzzle together to give us a clear picture.”
173. W. Lee, Life-Study of Revelation, Chapter 47, Section 1
174. W. Lee, Message in Kuching, Malaysia on October 31, 1990 The Up-to-Date Presentation of the God-Ordained Way and the Signs Concerning the Coming of Christ, Chapter 7, Section 4, p. 68
175. In the same message, W. Lee says, “Before the consummation of the age, Antichrist must first appear; he will play a leading role in the last week…Antichrist, the seventh Caesar, will come from one of the Gentile nations around the Mediterranean Sea. He will have the support of ten kings, and they will unite to form a great empire, which will be the revived Roman Empire. He will make a covenant with Israel for seven years and permit them to freely worship God.” [W. Lee, The Up-to-Date Presentation of the God-Ordained Way and the Signs Concerning the Coming of Christ, Chapter 7, Section 4, p. 55] He also says, “Antichrist will be the Caesar of the revived Roman Empire. Once he makes a seven-year covenant with Israel, that will be the beginning of the last week. Today, this last week is not yet manifested because the Roman Empire is not yet revived.” [W. Lee, Up-to-Date Presentation of the God-Ordained Way and the Signs Concerning the Coming of Christ, chap. 6, section 2] Also, “Before the consummation of this age, Antichrist will come out to be the Caesar of the revived Roman Empire. He will make a seven-year covenant with the children of Israel, and that will be the beginning of the last week. Thus, if anyone should say, "Behold, here is the Christ!" or, "There is the Christ!" we will not be deceived.” [W. Lee, Up-to-Date Presentation of the God-Ordained Way and the Signs Concerning the Coming of Christ, chap. 6, section 3, p. 56] “Concerning the rebuilding of the temple” W. Lee states” first the temple will have to be rebuilt; then the children of Israel will be able to worship God and offer sacrifices to Him, and Antichrist will be able to set up his image.” [W. Lee, Up-to-Date Presentation of the God-Ordained Way and the Signs Concerning the Coming of Christ, chap. 6, section 3, pp. 57-58]

APPENDIX A: DANIEL’S 70th WEEK—“Lesser Tribulation” & “Greater Tribulation”
Both W. Nee and W. Lee, in their early writings, refer to a 7-year tribulation. For example, W. Lee saysa “The tribulation will be mainly a period of 7 years.” W. Nee refers tob “the coming of the Lord to the earth with His saints after the 7 years of tribulation and before the millennium.” This use of the term, “tribulation” as distinct from “great tribulation” is consistent with the established use of these terms. Most pre-tribulation advocates are well-aware that great tribulation occurs in the last half of Daniel’s 70th week, lasting 42 months (1,260 days). Based on Revelation chapter 6 they view the last 7 years asc “divided into two: The Lesser Tribulation—three and a half years and the Greater Tribulation–another three and a half years. The [Antichrist’s peace] covenant will be fulfilled during the first half.” Of course the terms “lesser” and “greater tribulation” aren’t found in Scripture, only “the great tribulation” (Rev. 7:14). However, the “lesser tribulation” summarizes the effects of war, famine and pestilence killing “the 4th part of the earth’s population” (Rev. 6:8) In Rev. 6, John saw the 4th “pale horse, and he who sits upon it, his name is Death; and Hades followed with him. And authority was given to them over the 4th part of the earth to kill with the sword and with famine and with death and by the beasts of the earth.” (Rev. 6:8, RcV.)
4 Horses of the Apocalypse—Part of the “Lesser Tribulation” OR “the whole course of human history”?
Most pre-tribulation advocates view the 4 horses in Rev. 6 as describing the first half of Daniel’s 70th week. They view this as a period of tribulation, although it is “lesser tribulation” compared to the ensuing “great tribulation” of 42 months.
In contrast LSM views the 4 horses as the whole course of human history from Christ’s ascension to His 2nd advent. W. Lee says, “Immediately after Christ's ascension, these 4 things—the gospel, war, famine, and death—began to run like riders on 4 horses, and they will continue until Christ comes back. Beginning from the 1st century the gospel has been spreading throughout all these 20 centuries. Simultaneously, war among the human race has been proceeding. War has always caused famine, & famine issues in death. All these will continue until the end of this age.” (Rev. 6:2, note 2, RcV.)
Notice that war, famine and death kill “the 4th part (25%) of the earth’s population” (Rev. 6:8). Such a massive slaughter does not represent the normal course of human history. World War II (1939-45) is estimated to have killed from 40 M. to 72 M. people--i.e. 1.7% to 3.1% of the world’s population at that time. The Black Death, one of the world’s most devastating pandemics, is estimated to have killed 30%–60% of Europe's population, reducing the world's population by about 20%, from 450 M. (est.) to between 350 and 375 M. in 1400. It created religious, social & economic upheavals, which profoundly affected European history. It took 150 years for Europe's population to recover. [Wikipedia] Even the Black Death did not kill “the 4th part (25%) of the earth’s population.” Moreover it covered a limited period of human history, not “the whole course of human history from Christ’s ascension to His 2nd advent.” Clearly the “Black Death” was an exceptional event in the last 2,000 years of world history. Yet Rev. 6:8 talks about war, famine and pestilence killing “the 4th part (25%) of the earth’s population.” The scale of this slaughter leads Bible expositors to conclude that it belongs to the period of “lesser tribulation,” (1st half of the 70th week) prior to the “great tribulation” (2nd half of the 70th week).
1st half of the 70th Week: “No more a time of tribulation than the church is currently experiencing.”
In contrast to this view, LSM rejects the notion of a “lesser tribulation;” they contend thatd “the first three and a half years of the 70th week of Daniel will not be very different from the time preceding it, except for the fact that a 7-year peace agreement is brokered by the future Antichrist with Israel…This [period] will be no more a time of tribulation than the church is currently experiencing.” In contrast T. D. Ice argues that Jesus’ statement aboute “‘birth pangs’ [Matt. 24:8; Mark 13:8] is specifically that the events of the first half of the [7-year] Tribulation (Matt. 24:4-7) are merely the ‘beginning’ with the expectation of greater birth pangs in the second half (the Great Tribulation). Based on this analogy, the entire period of the 70th week is like birth pangs.”

Notes to Appendix A
a. W. Lee, The Kingdom, Chapter 40, Section 3
b. W. Nee, Collected Works, Vol. 4, The Christian (2), Chapter 1, Section 10, emphasis added
c. Fred Opoku-Gyimah, End Time Prophecy (2009) p. 36
d. Nathan Betz, Review of “The Truth behind Left Behind” by Mark Hitchcock & Thomas D. Ice; review in LSM’s Affirmation & Critique, vol. 9, No. 2 (Oct. 2004) p. 109, note 2, emphasis added
e. Thomas D. Ice & Timothy J. Demy, The Return: Understanding Christ's Second Coming and the End Times, p. 42
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Old 02-03-2012, 02:46 PM   #2
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Default Darby's Eschatology is Not Recent?

I read something a few months ago that got my attention. It was asserted that prior to JN Darby, there was no teaching of a "rapture" as we now call it. This is not to say that there was no teaching of Christ coming for believers, but the thing that was "imminent" was Christ's return, not some escape from earth.

Further, there is something unsettling about the way that dispensationalists of all ilks refer to the various signs found in Revelation as if they have everything figured out except for when it will happen. It will be the revived Roman Empire. A resurrected Caesar Nero will be involved (Lee wasn't the only one to come up with that). Because the weeks in Daniel were each 7 years, it definitely means that now. And so on.

And since we live in a time when a large group of countries have banded together in limited legal and economic ways that includes some of the old Roman Empire (but not all, and it includes areas not covered from that empire, plus it is not "ruled" from Rome), we conclude that now is the time. If doing that is to help wake up the sluggards among us, I can't complain. But most of the effort results in a kind of "separate from the world and hide until He comes" kind of mentality.

That is not the kingdom of God.

So in the section on the implications of imminence, under the heading "2. The History of Imminence" there is the following sentence. "Imminence is not a recent innovation." But the following references only get back as far as 1878. This is about 25 years after Darby gave us dispensationalism and the teaching of the rapture. The real question is whether there was really any kind of teaching like that before Darby heard the utterances of a young woman alleged to be speaking prophecy of some kind in a revival in about 1825, and the following 25 years in which Darby spent creating the dispensational doctrines out of it.

How old are dispensationalism, "rapture" teachings, and all of the stuff that so many people get distracted by? I'm not saying that there is nothing in Revelation to consider. I'm suggesting that we are distracted from our present-age charge of living the kingdom lifeby instead going to "kingdom" meetings and hoping for the future kingdom. And the distraction is by relatively brand-new doctrines not discussed in the first churches, or even those in the following centuries. Not discussed by Augustine, Thomas Aquinas or any others.

But after all of that, this detailed paper clearly puts Lee into some kind of marginal group like Harold Camping who thinks he can discern the day and hour of the coming of the Lord. For that, I am continually grateful.
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Old 02-03-2012, 03:21 PM   #3
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Default Re: LSM’s CONTRADICTARY RAPTURE TEACHING

I know that I so often suggest that people pushing other ministries should stop it. And this may seem a little like I am doing that, but I am not.

There are a number of Christian blogs that I visit periodically. They cover many sides of current issues in Christianity. While reading Tome's article on Lee's eschatology earlier today, I was reminded of two posts in one of those blogs. I will honestly say that I recommend the writer. But that is not may point. I believe that there is a presumption among most dispensational Evangelicals that dispensationalism and "rapture" theology is as old as the New Testament. But it is not.

For any interested, there is a post called "Elements of Christian Hope" (click on to follow link) on the Jesus Creed blog posted on 2/1/12. In the second paragraph is this sentence "Look, for most of Church history Christians haven’t believed in what is now called a pre-tribulation rapture (rapture of saints into the sky, tribulation of seven years, return of Christ, millennium, judgment, eternity) and listening to Christians talk about what ought to be a hope has become a battleground for when the rapture will occur."

Is the whole Lee/LRC eschatology just one of the more extreme in a larger position with almost no real support? Are we being cheated from what is for us here and now by seeking the hereafter?

I refrained from pointing to the post on the "what's in it for me" view of scripture and theology. That is another problem I see in the "personal salvation" theology and emphasis of the past very few centuries. It's now all about me and "God's plan for my life." I realize that Lee complained about that last one as well. But my thinking on it doesn't lead to exclusivity in a don't-think-for-yourself and don't-step-out-of-line sect.
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Old 02-04-2012, 08:34 AM   #4
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Default Re: LSM’s CONTRADICTARY RAPTURE TEACHING

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LSM’s CONTRADICTARY RAPTURE TEACHING
“We can figure out…the year of the rapture of the overcomers”—W. Lee

“We can even figure out the day of the rapture of the majority of the saints”—W. Lee

“Concerning that day & hour no one knows, not even the angels…nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matt. 24:36)

“It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has set by His own authority” (Acts 1:7)
Many have made the claim that they have figured out the time of the rapture even though only the Father knows. When someone claims to know and says they have it figured out, then people who follow that person elevate that person high above everyone else as even angels... nor the Son know. "Concerning that day and hour no one knows". Why do they make a claim of knowing? Are they not trying to get people to follow them? Paul did not claim to know when but lived with expectation that it could be anytime soon. Lliving with the expectation as in M. E. Barber's view that every day the Lord may appear forces you to live each day and hour with the expectation that the Lord may come. By seeking to determine when, are you not trying to live for yourself for as many days and hours as you can and then at the last minute say Oh Lord Jesus here I am. Some virgins didn't have oil.
.........and the door was shut

Without the oil the door gets shut.

Witness Lee claimed he knew the day? Mathew 25:13
13 Watch therefore, for you do not know the bday nor the hour.

Could it be possible that we were acting like foolish virgins and didn't have enough oil to keep our lamp lit?

If you are still holding onto Witness Lee believing that he could figure out the day even though the truth is no one knows that, consider if you are hiding your lamp under the bed.

Luke 8:16
16 Now ano one who has lit a 1blamp covers it with a vessel or puts it underneath a bed, but he puts it on a lampstand in order that those who come in may see the light.


By being exclusive to LSM are you covering your lamp with a vessel (LSM) or under the bed (LSM) as you have been considering LSM to be "The Lampstand".

Were we drowsey and sleepy with our lamps under our bed?
When you hear the cry. "Behold, the Bridegroom is here" are you going to be asking for someone to share their oil with you and then running around looking for a merchant?

Wake up! Get prudent Get out of bed. Get your lamp. Fill it with oil. Then when you hear "Behold the Bridegroom is here" you will be worthy for the wedding feast.

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Old 02-04-2012, 04:01 PM   #5
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ME Barber came from Surrey Chapel where Govett apparently first taught the selective rapture and Panton perpetuated it. Barber also introduced Nee to the writings of Jessie Penn Lewis who also attended Surrey Chapel.
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Old 02-04-2012, 04:21 PM   #6
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OMW....you are perpetuating error by stating Darby listened to the utterance>>>Wm Kelley and others have addressed this myth with great specificity at www.stempublishing.com they also address other historical references that pre-date Darby as the originator of the rapture. Even Matthew Henry used the term.
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Old 02-04-2012, 04:46 PM   #7
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Default Re: LSM’s CONTRADICTARY RAPTURE TEACHING

"O Jehovah, my heart is not proud,
Nor are my eyes haughty;
Nor do I go about in things too great
Or too wondrous for me."

~Psalm 131, verse 1, a Psalm of David (RecV)

"If I want him to remain alive until I come,
What is that to you? You follow Me" (NIV)

~John chapter 21, verse 22, from Jesus the Nazarene.

Now, Satan, on the other hand, inquired into things which he had no business looking into, and he fell like lightning. Satan's heart was proud, and Satan's eyes were lofty. We should follow Jesus, not Satan.

If the Lord hasn't made something plain to us, then we should stick to what He has made plain to us (Love one another, etc).
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Old 02-04-2012, 06:43 PM   #8
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Default Re: LSM’s CONTRADICTARY RAPTURE TEACHING

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OMW....you are perpetuating error by stating Darby listened to the utterance>>>Wm Kelley and others have addressed this myth with great specificity at www.stempublishing.com they also address other historical references that pre-date Darby as the originator of the rapture. Even Matthew Henry used the term.
Can you explain what you mean here? I read your post 3-4x and I'm still not sure.

What does this "utterance>>>Wm Kelley" mean?

How is OMW "perpetuating error?" Are you serious?

Stem Publishing is a huge site. What specifically are you referring to?
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Old 02-04-2012, 07:04 PM   #9
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Default Re: LSM’s CONTRADICTARY RAPTURE TEACHING

Let me add some history here.

The Brethren movement was launched surrounding the prophetic promises of the Lord's return. Both wings (later to split into open and closed sections) of the Brethren camp were represented at the Viscountess Powerscourt prophetic gatherings. Men of great learning were attracted to what was being revealed in His word in those gatherings. The Spirit of the Lord moved in many a heart made fertile by the socio-political climate of the day.

Those times were not too different from our upheavals in the 60's, which served to prep many a heart for truths well beyond the stale message of the day. Many were saved afresh and were enamored by talk of the signs of His return. Lindsay's book The Late Great Planet Earth, published at the height of the movement, had an effect upon many.
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Old 02-05-2012, 06:25 PM   #10
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Default Re: LSM’s Contradictary Rapture Teaching

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LSM’s SELF-CENTERED SIGNS"Many Local Church believers are haunted by the “1,000 years of outer darkness.”
Nigel has summed up what many on the forum have been saying, "the recovery" being more and more sectarian. Just as with the Exclusive Brethren, with each division it becomes more sectarian.

I am thankful to Nigel for his writing. He has expounded on the topic of "overcoming" far more than I could ever have. Part of which is the notion overcomers can only be found in those (but not all) meeting in the local churches. Of course in following the lead of the blended co-workers. What about those in non-LSM local churches? What about saints in non-denominational assemblies. For example the saints I meet with in the home meetings every Tuesday night. Since they don't meet in the local churches much less ever heard of them, there's no opportunity to be an overcomer. What about brother who have gone before us such as a Robert Chapman, GH Lang, or a Hudson Taylor? They didn't meet in "the recovery" thus there's no opportunity to be an overcomer. What about saints who at one time did meet in "the recovery" but could not look the other way when sin was rampant in the LSM office, just because these saints could not tolerate sin, they miss out on the opportunity to be overcomers. Really? I cannot reconcile this concept to scripture.

I had intentionally added that quote in bold because that's one recollection I had as a high school churchkid. The teaching on outer darkness and the gnashing of teeth.
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Old 02-05-2012, 06:57 PM   #11
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Default Re: LSM’s Contradictary Rapture Teaching

I didn't read the whole paper but most of it. Basically Nigel says that W. Lee is wrong because his teaching says that the rapture cannot come until some events come 1st, and this contradicts the teaching of imminence. Yes, this contradicts the teaching of imminence as defined in the paper as well as the attitude of M.E. Barber, but I do not think this ultra imminence teaching is in the Bible. It is an extrapolation of verses in the Bible beyond what they necessarily mean.

The Lord said, You don't know the day or hr, and we don't and neither claimed Lee (ignoring the 2070 and 1997 stuff). This does not require that we don't know the day after some future-prophesied events have occurred.

Furthermore W. Lee does not know the day of the overcomers' rapture even after the 7-year convenant begins. It may be hard to fix a beginning day for the 7-yr covenant. Also, the exact days for the 1st half of Israel's last wk are how many days? 365*3.5 or 360*3.5 or 365*7-1260?

The 1997 prediction was just a mistake on W. Lee's part. I had never heard of it though I was devoted to LRC since 1975.

The 2070 prediction has some ground but the start date is wrong. Why 70 AD as a start date instead of the Lord's crucifixion, which is when Israel according to the flesh were broken off of the olive tree? Even if 2 days here means 2K yrs, which I agree with, it doesn't tell you the year. Hos 6 says it will be AFTER 2 days, and DURING the 3rd day. So this means it will be at least 2K yrs after the crucifix, and implies that it would be near the beginning of the 3rd day, but that's as specific as it gets.

I don't think the alternative explanation for the woman and manchild makes sense. The remnant of her seed has the testimony of Jesus, so how can she be unbelieving Jews?

I think W.Lee's teachings need to be discussed honestly out on the table to see what is true and what is false.

Yours in Christ,
Steve Miller

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Old 02-05-2012, 07:00 PM   #12
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Default Re: LSM’s CONTRADICTARY RAPTURE TEACHING

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Can you explain what you mean here? I read your post 3-4x and I'm still not sure.

What does this "utterance>>>Wm Kelley" mean?

How is OMW "perpetuating error?" Are you serious?

Stem Publishing is a huge site. What specifically are you referring to?
Ohio,
I believe unregistered is referring to the prophecy by some young woman which OMW referred to. I read the >>> as a period.
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Old 02-05-2012, 07:17 PM   #13
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Default Re: LSM’s Contradictary Rapture Teaching

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I think W.Lee's teachings need to be discussed honestly out on the table to see what is true and what is false.

Yours in Christ,
Steve Miller
Agreed!I am all for discussion. One obstacle I see in discussing Witness Lee's ministry is in the practice of his ministry.
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Old 02-06-2012, 08:45 AM   #14
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Default Re: LSM’s CONTRADICTARY RAPTURE TEACHING

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Ohio,
I believe unregistered is referring to the prophecy by some young woman which OMW referred to. I read the >>> as a period.
-Steve Miller
Hey VoiceinWilderness, nice to see you again.

Have you been reading some of Nigel's articles? What do you think about them?
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Old 02-06-2012, 11:07 AM   #15
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Default Re: LSM’s CONTRADICTARY RAPTURE TEACHING

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OMW....you are perpetuating error by stating Darby listened to the utterance>>>Wm Kelley and others have addressed this myth with great specificity at www.stempublishing.com they also address other historical references that pre-date Darby as the originator of the rapture. Even Matthew Henry used the term.
You make a claim with no clear evidence. It may be that Darby had some of his thinking in place before that, but a general reference to a web site that simply publishes virtually everything Darby (along with many others) wrote does not make any case. Might as well say that one of them provided the theory of relativity and say that it is in there somewhere. It might be. And it might not be. None of us are going to go through that much stuff to find it. Be specific. State the precise document. Or better yet, make the link to the precise document.

And a reasonable perusal of the multitude of documents under the name of W Kelly (Kelley??) did not reveal anything on point.

But the real point is prior to Darby, where are the references to a pre-tribulation rapture? I find three minor references and you mention one other (Matthew Henry) which again is too unspecific to find.

The three I find are to 1) a Puritan minister and his son, Increase and Cotton Mather, some time in the 1600s, 2) Morgan Edwards in 1788, and 3) Emmanuel Lacunza in 1812.

But almost all literature indicates that a pre-tribulation "rapture" was essentially not part of any regular theology prior to its popularization by Darby.

And these others may have made references to such a thing in one way or another. Were any of them sound enough to gather support outside of their sphere of influence?

And did such a way of thinking exist prior to any of these? There is stated a presumption that there was, but it is not evidenced in the writings, including scripture.

So the question remains. How "old" is rapture theology as we know it today.
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Old 02-06-2012, 11:16 AM   #16
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BTW. Sir Isaac Newton predicted that the apocalypse, based on his reading of the various relevant passages, could not be before 2060.

And looking at this, it is relevant that Lee's attempts to date the return of Christ are simply more evidence that his whole "position" as a serious minister of scripture is suspect. Someone said a couple of years back that Lee expected it to be on a certain date in either 1995 or 1996 (can't remember which). While we may no longer be under a rule to stone false prophets, what does it say about the man?
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Old 02-06-2012, 11:31 AM   #17
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And looking at this, it is relevant that Lee's attempts to date the return of Christ are simply more evidence that his whole "position" as a serious minister of scripture is suspect. Someone said a couple of years back that he expected it to be on a certain date in either 1995 or 1996 (can't remember which). While we may no longer be under a rule to stone false prophets, what does it say about the man?
It says that he thought of himself and his ministry much higher than he should have. Consequently he, and far too frequently, stepped outside the normal boundaries of ministry leadership and Bible exposition.
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Old 02-06-2012, 12:55 PM   #18
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honestly,

this just makes me want to hurl.. especially the latter parts about overcomers
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Old 02-06-2012, 01:48 PM   #19
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honestly,

this just makes me want to hurl.. especially the latter parts about overcomers
Interesting statement. You don't actually take a position. Which parts make you want to hurl? The ones where Lee says what he does about the rapture and overcomers? Or the parts where Nigel says he is wrong to say those things?

I have no idea what you said. Other than that you want to hurl. Over what? Care to elucidate?
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Old 02-06-2012, 02:05 PM   #20
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That was my gut reaction..

"Don’t all genuine Christians (regardless of denomination) form the Bride? Not so says W. Lee,141 “Some may say that the work of preparing the Bride is among the spiritual ones in Catholicism, the denominations, and the independent groups …However, this is not the Lord’s way.” “This preparation, I believe, involves the work of building corporately. Those who make up the Bride must…be built together as the one Bride. Therefore, I firmly believe that the Lord is preparing His Bride among those in His recovery.’ He states,142 “The primary work of the Lord in His recovery…is to prepare His Bride.” What about Christians meeting elsewhere? W. Lee is dogmatic, alleging,143 “There is no possibility for the Lord to prepare His bride in Catholicism, the state churches, or the denominations.” Moreover,144 “No overcomer should stay in today’s Christianity. Apostate Christianity is not the bride; it is the harlot, either the mother harlot or the daughter harlots.” Thus Witness Lee dismisses and denigrates all Christian congregations apart from his “Recovery.” They won’t be Christ’s Bride."

I come from a denominational church and it hurts to hear this. To see such a gap.

So all my pastors, christian friends and devote christians. Those who have sacrificed their life in serving the lord will not be "overcomers" due to the fact that their in a denominational church?
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Old 02-06-2012, 02:11 PM   #21
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Anyways enough of my ranting
Thanks for clearing it up. I know what not to put on your plate now.
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Old 02-08-2012, 03:14 PM   #22
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Hey VoiceinWilderness, nice to see you again.

Have you been reading some of Nigel's articles? What do you think about them?
Hi Ohio,
It's good to talk to you again also.

I posted something previously on Nigel's article.
I thought it very informative. I did not understand where the pre-70th wk rapture teaching came from, and Nigel explained it very well. Contrary to Nigel's pt of view, it convinced me that the pre-70th wk rapture is a man-made teaching, not in the Bible. Nigel presented the facts, which allowed me to draw my own conclusion.

I think W. Lee's interpretation of end time events is superior to any other, though, of course, it has mistakes. The overcomer stuff is abominable, I agree. I'm referring to his pre-1984 or 1988 ministry. I don't think the Lord gave him anything new after that, and his errors became huge. His biggest mistake was to say that most of Psalms, Proverbs, Job & James were not the Word of God. This became enlarged in his later years so that he put himself above the Word of God, deciding what was and what was not the Word of God.
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Old 06-25-2012, 02:10 AM   #23
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That was my gut reaction..

"Don’t all genuine Christians (regardless of denomination) form the Bride? Not so says W. Lee,141 “Some may say that the work of preparing the Bride is among the spiritual ones in Catholicism, the denominations, and the independent groups …However, this is not the Lord’s way.” “This preparation, I believe, involves the work of building corporately. Those who make up the Bride must…be built together as the one Bride. Therefore, I firmly believe that the Lord is preparing His Bride among those in His recovery.’ He states,142 “The primary work of the Lord in His recovery…is to prepare His Bride.” What about Christians meeting elsewhere? W. Lee is dogmatic, alleging,143 “There is no possibility for the Lord to prepare His bride in Catholicism, the state churches, or the denominations.” Moreover,144 “No overcomer should stay in today’s Christianity. Apostate Christianity is not the bride; it is the harlot, either the mother harlot or the daughter harlots.” Thus Witness Lee dismisses and denigrates all Christian congregations apart from his “Recovery.” They won’t be Christ’s Bride."

I come from a denominational church and it hurts to hear this. To see such a gap.

So all my pastors, christian friends and devote christians. Those who have sacrificed their life in serving the lord will not be "overcomers" due to the fact that their in a denominational church?
Have you considered the fact that the LSM churches, though they deny being a denomination, are to every intent and purpose, in fact, a denomination themselves? They claim their local churches don't have names, but every one of them, at least in the U.S., is incorporated under a name, albeit for tax purposes, with their respective state governments. And besides, just being called the 'Church in (blankety blank)' doesn't mean that that title isn't a name in and of itself...

...just some thoughts that I've had...
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Old 06-25-2012, 04:58 PM   #24
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Have you considered the fact that the LSM churches, though they deny being a denomination, are to every intent and purpose, in fact, a denomination themselves? They claim their local churches don't have names, but every one of them, at least in the U.S., is incorporated under a name, albeit for tax purposes, with their respective state governments. And besides, just being called the 'Church in (blankety blank)' doesn't mean that that title isn't a name in and of itself...

...just some thoughts that I've had...
Whether the LC's have an official name or not is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the discussion of whether they are an insidious denomination or not. Regarding their public claims of not having an official name, I like what one has said, "tell me again about that church with no name suing in court over the rights to their name."

Over time, and after much study on my part, I became convinced that the dangers of the "dreaded denominations" had far less to do with "official" names than it did with a ruling headquarters, which has robbed the numerous churches of the ability to follow their Lord directly.

I have personally witnessed interference from headquarters damaging evey church I have been a part of. Yes ... work leaders provided some ministry to the LC's, but for every two steps forward, there were three steps backward.
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Old 06-25-2012, 06:26 PM   #25
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Have you considered the fact that the LSM churches, though they deny being a denomination, are to every intent and purpose, in fact, a denomination themselves? They claim their local churches don't have names, but every one of them, at least in the U.S., is incorporated under a name, albeit for tax purposes, with their respective state governments. And besides, just being called the 'Church in (blankety blank)' doesn't mean that that title isn't a name in and of itself...
A point I've mad on this forum from time to time. Without quoting what Witness Lee said, churches affiliated with Living Stream are every bit a denomination as the churches are affiliated with Southern Baptist Convention.
What about churches that don't have name as not needing nor wanting tax breaks?
What if you live in San Marcos, Ca and decide to register as "the Church in San Marcos"? There may be just 2-3 of you meeting in a home. However when LSM promoters decide they want to meet as the Church in San Marcos, they'll have to take a different name. Just as you said, "just being called the "Church in ____" doesn't mean that that title isn't a name in and of itself."
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Old 06-27-2012, 05:42 AM   #26
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I would have to say that they are a de facto denomination . . . even if you grant that their "name" is not a "name." The term "denomination" has a general meaning that Lee and his followers tweaked to such a great extent that they eliminated all but the name as the basis for being one. Argue away the name and you avoid the label.

But denominations are far more than a name. They mostly are a unified doctrinal statement. There is typically a hierarchy, but it is not so much to have leaders as to ensure that the doctrinal statement is maintained, taught, etc. And they really do care that people get teaching by people qualified to teach, not just whoever rises up and says "I'm your teacher."

And the LRC has plenty of the first part. They defend their doctrinal statement to the extreme of excommunication. If we assert that their excommunication is really no more than the declaration "you are no longer following and teaching our doctrinal statement, so do it elsewhere" then they are no different than virtually any other group.

As for the second part, they are still quite weak. They may be training their young ones in their ways, but they began with a "whoever rises up ans says . . . ." So they are already behind the eight ball in that regard. Their core is deficient.

But there was one thing said that I hope was meant to mock the LRC position on denominations. The LRC views denominations as insidious. But my view of most denominations generally sees stewards carefully protecting what they believe is the truth. And at some level, that is no different with the LRC. They are just too blind to see it.

But if the term "insidious" actually applies to any, it clearly applies to the LRC because they don't play well with others. While the various denominations admit to their differences of opinion, they generally don't go around belittling and mocking each other. In fact, they are very clear (mostly) that they are partners on a mission for God (and a higher one than was given to Jake and Elwood). I'm not sure that the LRC has hardly any such consideration.
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Old 06-27-2012, 12:58 PM   #27
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I would have to say that they are a de facto denomination . . . even if you grant that their "name" is not a "name." The term "denomination" has a general meaning that Lee and his followers tweaked to such a great extent that they eliminated all but the name as the basis for being one. Argue away the name and you avoid the label.
Good points.

For example, I have met with the Churches of Christ. If there ever was a spiritual and Biblical name for a church, theirs is it. They also claim to be local, with an autonomous local eldership. They truly love God's word, but what overlays their understanding of scripture is the teachings of Stone and Campbell of the early 19th century. Even though I loved their Bible studies, I had difficulty worshiping God via their 200 year old hymns which must be sung a cappella, normally with harmonies. My problem was one of "logistics."

This is indicative of the problem of denominations. It was not that one congregation locally decided to use an old hymnal and nobody had any musical skills. It was that some renowned teacher close to 200 hundred years ago decided that true worship in the church can NOT have musical accompaniment. That's what denominations do -- they tell you what to do and what not to do. They control their member churches by controlling their leaders. Some of this is good, some of this is not so good, some of this is bad, and some of this is just horrible, as church history has taught us.
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Old 06-27-2012, 04:18 PM   #28
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While I do not put the CofC in the same boat with the LRC, they did begin a little with a kind of remnant theology. And since their roots are older, they go back to an older set of "ways." But it is interesting that some other denominations have been able to modernize in terms of irrelevant aspects of current culture while others have not.

Yes, some of the denominations try to control much more than we think is scripturally supportable. But on the other hand, how much spiritual suffering do we endure to sing without a piano, guitar, organ, or even band? (Yeah, it might be nice to drown out some of us.) Sometimes it might be reasonable to endure something a simple as old hymns and no accompaniment to meet with some dear Christians.

And then again . . . .
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Old 06-28-2012, 08:10 AM   #29
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Yes, some of the denominations try to control much more than we think is scripturally supportable. But on the other hand, how much spiritual suffering do we endure to sing without a piano, guitar, organ, or even band?
Looking at things that way, how much spiritual suffering do we really endure if we never gather with other Christians together to worship God in song and hymn? We can still gather to pray, teach the Bible, and give announcements, can we not? That's how it became for us in the C of C.

I must say, however, that my soul has basically been "shaped" by much of the Recovery worship styles. Having background musical accompaniment really helps, whether it be piano, guitar, or even a band. And still to this day, I cringe at those singing solo in the church. That to me is a concert, and not church worship. But that's just me.

What does bother me even more are the teachings by church forefathers that regulate us today, such as the one that states that all musical accompaniment is contrary to the New testament church.
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Old 06-28-2012, 09:45 AM   #30
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Ohio,

I'm completely with you on music. I really do have my preference. But I can't always get what I want. (And there's a song in there somewhere )

The problem I have with so much of the rest is that what is right and what is wrong so often looks the same. There is always leadership. Sometimes they do right and sometimes they do wrong.

And it is arguable that getting anal about accompaniment as a doctrinal position seems really "out there."

But when you say something like "[w]hat does bother me even more are the teachings by church forefathers that regulate us today . . ." I see different possibilities. The example you give is grounds for suspicion.

But what about those teachings by church forefathers like Paul? I know that we will quickly differentiate his writings as scripture. And that is very true. But how we read and understand scripture is both static and in flux. And Paul isn't here guiding us beyond what was written.

We surely will be discovering that we got things wrong. And when we do, we should change. That means that someone should always be looking at what has been decided, even long ago. That is more the issue than discovering that your teaching is really old. Old may be as good as it gets. Or it may just be a reasonable position until a better one comes along. (Or it just may be bad dogma.) Just being old does not invalidate. Neither does being new recommend or invalidate.

And while average Joes like you and me can read what we do and opine as we do, I honestly then ask those whose knowledge is much above ours to consider (and not simply reject out of hand) our thoughts and give us a reason to remain static or change. There truly is safety in a slow progress. That is difficult to accept in this fast-paced world, but you can't Google the answer to theological questions. Especially those that are questioning the status quo. It takes a careful and reasoned approach.
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Old 06-28-2012, 10:28 AM   #31
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Ohio,

I'm completely with you on music. I really do have my preference. But I can't always get what I want. (And there's a song in there somewhere )

The problem I have with so much of the rest is that what is right and what is wrong so often looks the same. There is always leadership. Sometimes they do right and sometimes they do wrong.

And it is arguable that getting anal about accompaniment as a doctrinal position seems really "out there."

But when you say something like "[w]hat does bother me even more are the teachings by church forefathers that regulate us today . . ." I see different possibilities. The example you give is grounds for suspicion.

But what about those teachings by church forefathers like Paul? I know that we will quickly differentiate his writings as scripture. And that is very true. But how we read and understand scripture is both static and in flux. And Paul isn't here guiding us beyond what was written.
My point has always been that the average "Joe" or "Joe elder" ought to be able to read scripture on his own without the overlay of a controlling denominational headquarters. Sure I see the need for teachers and pastors and evangelists -- gifts to the body -- but their instruction should not go beyond the scripture, and yes I view Paul and the apostles as more authoritative than others since them.

For example, I talked to the C of C senior minister, a really dear brother, about having music during worship. I mentioned Paul's instruction of "singing and psalming with our hearts to the Lord." I noted that some of the Psalms actually provide instruction concerning musical accompaniment. These Psalms were meant to be sung with certain instruments. How can we then extract lyrics from a psalm, and still call it a psalm? It may be a poem, but not a Psalm. He, however, was every bit as persuaded against instruments as I was for them.

I didn't press that discussion beyond that because I understand his position. The limits of his "autonomy" as an elder only go as far as what has been established by those collection of churches within the denomination, based on the teachings of their founders. Yet the New Testament never speaks against musical instruments, so to establish church ordinances where the Bible is silent, is like saying that air conditioning during worship is not permitted either.

My point is that what really divides Christians and collects them into denominational camps are the denominational leaders which use extra-Biblical teachings and practices to partition the believers. The Recovery can not condemn denominations for what they also do. They are no different -- just another denomination following a leader instead of the Lord.
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Old 06-28-2012, 03:06 PM   #32
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The problem is that you keep using this example that only the die-hard CoC people don't see as being ridiculous. And I guess you could say the same about the LRC and a lot of others about other specific things.

But when you have any kind of assembly, you will have points which are eventually agreed through some mechanism as being a certain way, or within certain bounds. That should not mean that you cannot discuss alternatives, but I would expect that the assembly would (at a minimum) frown on actually teaching contrary to the established position until the group decides differently.

For example, I attend a Bible church. The one I have attended for many years decided after months of study, discussion, and prayer to allow women to teach (preach) in the church. There was a national firestorm over it, with other Bible church leaders in the area being quoted as seeing it as a slippery slope or some other dire warnings. (And all of these were still very much "friends" with the Senior pastor at our place and continue to be so.)

The way it is handled there is like this. You can believe whatever you want about this subject. It can still be discussed and debated. (There is still the outstanding restriction that a woman cannot be an elder.) But you can't simply teach it as so. And if you are going to become part of leadership, you need to affirm that you are able to refrain from openly opposing the group's position. (Again, this does not mean the topic cannot be discussed.)

But my older son and his wife are attending a different Bible church. It was the place that he interned at during his studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. To see them a little more often we have begun to drive a little further on many Sunday mornings to where they are. At times I think that people "in the know" are a little cautious of us because we are from "that place" that does not hold to the "essentials" in the same way. (Actually, I do not think they consider this an essential. They have accepted Robert and his wife even though they agree with IBC that women should be able to teach.)

The real problem is what they do about it.

And I have come to realize that despite the great benefit that we gain from being able to read for ourselves (unlike so many for so many centuries of history), we have come to appreciate our own little thoughts as more important than the carefully thought-out positions of those that we were recently taught to despise as "clergy." The reality is that when it comes to truly understanding the scripture, the scripture itself at least somewhat expects that most of us need others to teach us. This runs contrary to the "me and my bible" mentality that so many inner-life proponents buy into.

Here is a statement that will start a firestorm: "Most of us should be careful how we read our bibles without proper supervision."

I realize that the old RCC way of discouraging scripture reading by the masses outside of the Mass was too much. But at some level we may be better off to focus our biblical attention where those with training lead us rather than trying to just do it ourselves. The funny thing is that we learned in the LRC to think we were reading scripture for ourselves when we were really reading exactly what the LRC leadership wanted us to read, and to read it the way they wanted us to. And they didn't begin to have the training and integrity that even a CoC preacher may have.

And to dig myself out of the hole that you probably think I am in, I did not mean to suggest above that we should stop reading our bibles. What I really mean is that we need to have a structure around us when we read so that we start with something sound as meaning and interpretation of what we are reading. That does not mean we should not question. But it should be questioning within a structure in which the "old" does have some status and requires more than a light bulb floating over a head for its status to be revoked. The "old" reading has remained not just because no one ever challenged it, but because it has withstood challenges.

So don't start with the presumption that the first contrary thing you think you see/read/hear should simply jettison the "old." (And I am not accusing you of doing this.) That is the kind of foolish stuff we did in the LRC when we went around swinging pom poms and singing "bury that old-time religion." Problem is that right about now we could all use a little more "old-time religion" rather than less. The "truth" that we were taught for those years was contrary to much of the truth of the scripture that is part of that "old-time religion."
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Old 06-29-2012, 08:33 AM   #33
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The problem is that you keep using this example that only the die-hard CoC people don't see as being ridiculous. And I guess you could say the same about the LRC and a lot of others about other specific things.
It's just an example close to home which others can relate to. Some would say that the GLA quarantines were all about "rock" music, since LSM claimed that TC was teaching "differently" and corrupting a whole generation of young people.

The bigger picture is that churches, leaders, and saints within denominations are often controlled, not by the Spirit within or the words of scriptures, but by their "founding fathers" who have established teachings and ordinances which rob us of our liberty in Christ.
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Old 06-29-2012, 09:15 AM   #34
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We are free to worship as we see fit and we let the structure and forms of groups that we don't even subscribe to paint them in our minds.

Nothing will ever be entirely to any of our liking. If we choose to say that it is about having our freedom in Christ limited, then we are cheating ourselves. We are blaming our lack of spiritual liberty on something that we are not bound to. Unless we choose to bind ourselves to it. And even though I would not choose to be part of the CoC, I think that I could abide by their "no accompaniment" edict without feeling like I was somehow cheated from enjoying God in worship. Otherwise, I would need to really reconsider what it was that I was calling worship.

We may have serious problems with the LRC. But it seems that our thinking continues to be influenced by what we learned from it. Go worship in China. You will be even less free. Yet they continue to worship. And here we gripe about the music. Or the liturgy. Or preaching style. Or the "control." I put this in quotes because I think that we call it control when we don't like it and then call it the leading of the spirit or the direction of scripture when we do.

I'm not complaining about you or your post. I am speaking out loud what I have been challenged about over the last year or so. How do we balance the steady and unchanging truth of God with the constantly changing likes and ways of man and culture? And then there are those 57-year-olds that insist on three hymns, 1st, 2nd, and last verse, and only a piano and organ to accompany. (I am 57, but am not one of those.) The point is that generations are always a problem. How do we stand that the church seems to be "catering" to the 20/30 somethings? Or just the old-timers?

Sometimes we really need to differentiate between what we like and what is important. And if enough bothers you, forget that old LRC thing about going to the nearest place and find one that is more tolerable. I see no reason to force yourself to put up with constant conflict within over some theoretical construct that somehow resembles "ground."
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Old 06-29-2012, 10:59 AM   #35
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I'm not complaining about you or your post.
I was getting a little worried.
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Old 06-29-2012, 09:21 PM   #36
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>>Witness Lee claimed he knew the day?

He did Rollingstone?

What day was that?

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Old 06-30-2012, 09:53 AM   #37
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While Rollingstone searches the Witness Lee archives to find the "date" he claims Witness Lee identified for the rapture I must point out the irony of this line of thought.

The author apparently has no objection to setting timetables for end time events:

"A countdown to the great tribulation, to Armageddon, or to the Lord’s public coming, is possible, but not to the Rapture"

.... and he apparently believes there to be only one Rapture of all believers that occurs before the last seven years of this age commence, though his justification for this teaching was glaringly omitted. Tomes' own "eisegesis" forces him to discount the possibility of more than one rapture else he would be guilty of setting a date for a rapture, a contradiction that would knock the props from his position. Therefore, with his own argument he binds himself to a selective interpretation of scripture.

His eisegesis about "imminence" colors Tomes' argument though as has been already pointed out, it is a rather new invention in its relevance to eschatology. 1st century New Testament believer's had the expectation of the Lord's soon return as is clear from the New Testament writings. But to cast a die on "imminence" as a framework for fitting and sizing all other end times doctrine is a relatively new construct in church history and in this article is merely a feeble attempt at shoring up Tome's own narrow beliefs while discounting Witness Lee's more inclusive viewpoint.

In spite of the extreme redundancy in Tomes article (he could have made his point in one page) the net-net of the disagreement is that Tomes fixes the rapture of all believers at the beginning of the last 7 years and Witness Lee believes that there are two raptures, the first one commencing somewhere within the first half of the last seven years involving overcomers, that is the firstfruits, and the final one involving the general harvest of most of the believers at the end of the last seven years. Tomes attempted no substantiation for his singular rapture viewpoint.

Nevertheeless, Tomes' is happy to set dates for end time events as long as the first event in his understanding of eschatology (the rapture of all believers) remains unknown. In contrast, Witness Lee's teaching is a holistic view of the end time events folding in all relevant scripture and not shrinking back from presenting it as such even if it does not match the viewpoints of pre-trib theologians, tele-evangelists, and christian movie-makers. Furthermore, there is enough uncertainty in the end times that no one can accurately fix a date for the rapture whether that be the first or the only one. Finally, I always point out to believer and unbeliever alike that there is no assurance they will live long enough to be a part of or witness to the rapture, so don't depend on it when it comes to your relationship with God.

Cassidy

P.S. Rollingstone, don't bother looking for that rapture date because you will not find it.
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Old 07-01-2012, 02:46 PM   #38
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Finally, I always point out to believer and unbeliever alike that there is no assurance they will live long enough to be a part of or witness to the rapture, so don't depend on it when it comes to your relationship with God.


Very astute advise from Cassidy!

And speaking of our relationship with God…. I think it would be better to focus on these quotes from Witness Lee and his followers – As a longtime former member I can testify that IT IS THESE KIND OF STATEMENTS that can drastically affect a person’s relationship with God MUCH MORE than any “eschatological” arguments, one way or the other. These are the kind of statements/declarations that can have a significant and profound effect on one’s relationship with God, at least as it relates to our day-to-day relationship with the believers in his Body, both locally and universally.


“Could the Bride be prepared in the…denominations, free groups or the charismatic movement? Certainly not!”— W. Lee

“If we…follow that person we would not…be in the Lord’s bride, turn the age, or bring the Lord back.”

“The Body equals the recovery…practically for us today, the recovery is the Body”--LSM’s Minoru Chen

“Brother Lee was the wise master builder…to do the work of building we need to…be one with him.”

“Other Christians are working, but they are not working the work of God”—LSM’s Benson Phillips

“Millions of genuine believers…will ironically find themselves left behind when the first-fruits are raptured…[because] the spiritual books they read never encouraged them to mature…”--LSM’s N. Betz
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Old 07-01-2012, 05:59 PM   #39
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“Millions of genuine believers…will ironically find themselves left behind when the first-fruits are raptured…[because] the spiritual books they read never encouraged them to mature…”--LSM’s N. Betz
If there ever was a poster boy for Laodician arrogance, this is it.
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Old 07-01-2012, 07:08 PM   #40
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>>Witness Lee claimed he knew the day?

He did Rollingstone?

What day was that?

Cassidy
Blessings everyone!
I have not been here in a very long time. But I was lead to pop in today. Glad I listened to the VOICE. :-)

I have been very intrigued by this thread.

While I do not recall Lee ever suggesting a year, month, or date of the rapture, when I came into the Local church, Lord's "recovery" in 1975, I was told either in 1973 or 1974, there was "joyous" talk about moving to Israel, maybe Jerusalem to wait for the Lord to return.

I was told it fizzled when REALITY sank in. The thought was exciting at the time nevertheless.
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Old 07-01-2012, 08:54 PM   #41
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[ And here we gripe about the music. Or the liturgy. Or preaching style. Or the "control." I put this in quotes because I think that we call it control when we don't like it and then call it the leading of the spirit or the direction of scripture when we do.]
This made me chuckle, Mike. I have been trying to pay closer attention to the Spirit in me. And your comment reminded me of something that I experienced last month.

I was invited to a ladies luncheon. A woman from Houston was going to be the guest speaker. She basically shared her testimony of salvation and the hardships she endured from from a painful divorce and deep depression. The Lord has healed her wounds. To Him be the Glory and and Praise. It was very moving. The fellowship was fantastic!!

She returned today and again, I was invited to attend. I was pretty excited to go a few days back. By last night however, I asked myself why I wanted to go. To recreate the moment of a month ago? To have my ears tickled? If you are wondering why I made the comment, about ears being tickled, she gave me a word from the Lord, I believe. Without knowing I have been praying for my brothers salvation, she told me my family was surrendering their lives to Christ. That brought great joy to my spirit. But today I honestly had no unction to go.

I did not want to go simply because I had a wonderful time last month. So I chose not to go this time around.

[ I ve been challenged about over the last year or so. How do we balance the steady and unchanging truth of God with the constantly changing likes and ways of man and culture?]

Mike. The Word of God is the same. Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow. We keep the Full Armour of God on us at all times. We walk in Spirit and in Truth. We ask the Lord to anoint our words. To give us Wisdom that we may know how to answer and respond to every person. You are Blessed and Highly Favored as a son of the Most High God.

[The point is that generations are always a problem. How do we stand that the church seems to be "catering" to the 20/30 somethings? Or just the old-timers?]
In my experience, I most comfortable in one on one settings or small group settings (5 or less). Since I don't go to an organized church, I have complete liberty of not having to report to a church leader. Please know, I recognize those who have a strong anointing and respect their unction.
At the moment, I have been ministering to a 52 yr old married man, who is a childhood friend. We talk Monday-Friday over the phone. I am teaching and ministering to 3 siblings, a 13 yr old boy, a 12 yr old girl, and an 11 yr old girl. I started last summer with them.

I do not point them to 'church". I point them to Christ.

A few weeks ago, I had jury duty. OH!! OH!! OH!! 2 days before, I was lead to do a study between the Spirit of God and the spirit of man. So I wrote down a bunch of scriptures. I took my bible and notebook to the courthouse, anticipating a long day.

And it was ! About 11am, I engaged in a conversation with a woman over court cases. We were given a 2 hr lunch so we went to a nearby restaurant. We were chatting about life and I had NO INTENTION to talk about God.

When our lunch arrived at the table, I began to pray over our food silently to myself. I could feel her looking at me so as I looked up, I asked her if I could pray over our food. She enthusiastically encouraged me to do so. I asked the Lord Jesus to bless our food and to bless us with His Presence.Leave it to the Holy Spirit to arrange a time for spiritual mentoring!!!

She told me she had been sensing something was missing inside her!! How bout that??? Here I had with me a whole bunch of scriptures on the SPIRIT and the spirit. And as the powers that be would have it, I got called to actual jury. I only had a moment to encourage her to ask Jesus to come inside her spirit and be Lord and Savior of her life to which she said she would. Glory to God!!

This is what my life is like. Nothing planned for the most part.

Be encouraged. God is GOOD!

BLESSINGS!!!
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Old 07-01-2012, 09:51 PM   #42
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The bigger picture is that churches, leaders, and saints within denominations are often controlled, not by the Spirit within or the words of scriptures, but by their "founding fathers" who have established teachings and ordinances which rob us of our liberty in Christ.
Greetings Ohio,

I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment! People are taught to live by the Spirit and to walk by Faith. All scriptural and Truth. But when we "lowly" saints did, "no. No. That is not the way it done".

There is a person I fellowship with who is not happy in her LSM locality but still loves Lee's and Nee's teachings. Can never find ANYTHING wrong with the LSM ministry. Although the lack of a living church life depresses her.

I want to give an example of the spirit of control over her. She reads the RCV, life messages, footnotes. Etc.. I use a number of translations but mostly KJ, NASB followed by the NLT. (New Living Translation). I also reference the Amplified.

Ron Kangas has referenced the Amplified. So while this person foes not regard highly the KJ, NASB or the NLT, she does like the Amplified. Uh-huh.
That said, this person does listen to Christian radio and likes a lot of what she hears but is a die hard Lee follower.
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Old 07-02-2012, 05:16 AM   #43
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In response to the question about Lee predicting a date, Tomes article does not indicate that. But it does indicate the year for the Second Coming. And since the first fruits rapture would have had to be s certain time before, there was a new scheme proposed when that time had clearly passed. The original was said to be in 1997. Now they are saying something like 2070.

And this was discussed in a previous thread (and possibly on the old Berean forum) in which Lee somewhat subscribed to a particular date in 1997 based on the writer Tomes mentioned (Ussher or something like that). I think it was late summer or early-mid fall.

In any case, we are now 15 years beyond that date in 1997.

It seems to me that if it were simply 2,000 years from some event in the first century AD, Jesus was fairly cavalier to suggest that he did not know and put everyone to watching for the day back then. It truly needs to be unknown for his statement to stand as anything but either a ruse or a fabrication by the writer.

It is most interesting that in many generations there have been groups that have "found the clues" and it is always within months or a very few years. They see the signs "clearly" and abandon normal life to go to a mountaintop. I'm not dismissing the reality of the Second Coming. I'm dismissing our ability to actually figure it out when Jesus said he didn't know. If all it took as a good mind, then it would seem that Jesus was playing word games because he had the best mind.
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Old 07-02-2012, 06:14 AM   #44
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In response to the question about Lee predicting a date, Tomes article does not indicate that. But it does indicate the year for the Second Coming. And since the first fruits rapture would have had to be s certain time before, there was a new scheme proposed when that time had clearly passed. The original was said to be in 1997. Now they are saying something like 2070.

And this was discussed in a previous thread (and possibly on the old Berean forum) in which Lee somewhat subscribed to a particular date in 1997 based on the writer Tomes mentioned (Ussher or something like that). I think it was late summer or early-mid fall.

In any case, we are now 15 years beyond that date in 1997.

It seems to me that if it were simply 2,000 years from some event in the first century AD, Jesus was fairly cavalier to suggest that he did not know and put everyone to watching for the day back then. It truly needs to be unknown for his statement to stand as anything but either a ruse or a fabrication by the writer.

It is most interesting that in many generations there have been groups that have "found the clues" and it is always within months or a very few years. They see the signs "clearly" and abandon normal life to go to a mountaintop. I'm not dismissing the reality of the Second Coming. I'm dismissing our ability to actually figure it out when Jesus said he didn't know. If all it took as a good mind, then it would seem that Jesus was playing word games because he had the best mind.
In any case, I am hoping this is the year the dead in Christ will rise first and we who are alive and remain will be caught with them in the clouds to meet aJesus in the air in our Glorious new bodies. Come Lord Jesus.
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Old 07-02-2012, 06:57 AM   #45
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"The original was said to be in 1997"

Wait. Something just occurred to me when reading your post. What do you mean "was said to be", OBW?

There must be a direct quote from Witness Lee stating that the Lord's return would be in the year 1997.

Did he? If so, where is that "1997" quote?

Cassidy
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Old 07-02-2012, 07:23 AM   #46
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In response to the question about Lee predicting a date, Tomes article does not indicate that. But it does indicate the year for the Second Coming. And since the first fruits rapture would have had to be s certain time before, there was a new scheme proposed when that time had clearly passed. The original was said to be in 1997. Now they are saying something like 2070.
It seems to me ... that is IIRC ... WL's prediction of the time of His return was based on a few prophecies, mainly in Revelation. The references were to "42 months ... 1260 days ... and the time, times, and half a time." His point was that once we come to know the trigger point of these times, and the death and resuscitation of the Beast comes to mind, then we will probably know the year and month of His return, though not the exact "day or hour," in fulfillment of the Lord's own words.

Besides this I don't remember a prophecy of the exact year.
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Old 07-02-2012, 09:44 AM   #47
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"The original was said to be in 1997"

Wait. Something just occurred to me when reading your post. What do you mean "was said to be", OBW?

There must be a direct quote from Witness Lee stating that the Lord's return would be in the year 1997.

Did he? If so, where is that "1997" quote?
What I'm saying is that this particular write-up is not the first discussion on the topic. I recall that when this was mentioned before, there was some kind of reference to the 1997 date. There was also a particular day given, although that might have been from the guy Lee was basing on and not Lee.

What I'm telling you is that there is somewhere to look. It is not just this one write-up by Tomes and these few comments by this forum.

This particular write-up by Tomes asserts that LSM (which prior to 1997 was Lee) pushed 1997, then changed it to 2070 when it was obvious that 1997 could not be true because certain events should already have been going on.

I think I remember noting that if it was considered a "prophecy" then under the old covenant, Lee would have been subject to stoning. (Not trying to be serious.) But it was noted that he did die in 1996 — after the necessary events were clearly not happening.

Again. Please do not think that I am asserting some kind of divine retribution. It is probably just an interesting combination of events. (And Lee was quite old.) Just like every generation thinks that the signs in their time are ripe for the Second Coming. The fact is that if it were so clearly obvious, then those who were not in that time would have cause to dilly-dally around. If we could know that 1997, or 2070, was the date, then some would have reason to toe the line while others could put it off. Do one of those "death bed" confessions.

And all of that kind of thinking misses so much of the point of salvation and following. It is at least as much about our returning to our righteous and rightful place as God's image-bearers in this life as it is getting some better place in the next life. This may be one of the reasons that LRC leadership has been so short on righteousness. They don't think that this age matters other than being "on the ground" and following the "minister of the age" into the next age. They don't care about this age.

And so much talk about eschatology is mostly so we can pine for the future and escape the present. If (and I believe it is true) Jesus is coming again, then he is coming again. I have yet to figure out what it is about knowing details about it that makes us better off for it. If it is uncertain, I have cause to consider my living at all times. If I can narrow it down to some particular year, then I might not be so careful. (Not saying that I always do a good job anyway.) I do not see that there is anything I can do about any of it outside of salvation, and living according to his teachings in God's righteousness. There is much more scriptural ink on how to do that. And it matters. Ignoring that to do anything else that you think is preparing for the rapture, or just the Second Coming (without a rapture theology), is probably a worthless endeavor because it will not be those who are waiting on the mountain top, but those who are living day-to-day according to God's righteousness that will be "prepared." Jesus didn't warn them so they would be weird, but so they would take their living seriously.
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Old 07-02-2012, 10:46 AM   #48
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I just read parts of the Life Study of Hebrews, messages 18 and 22, which Tomes references. He is correct to say that Lee does not say that the 6,000 years followed by the 1,000 year millennium is entirely true. Lee adds nuances about the “church” and the Sabbath rest. But he does not contradict the 6,000 years, even continually repeating it as “approximately 6,000 years.”

But if there is this literal 6,000 years because of the day=1,000 years statement in scripture, then we must presume that the genealogies are accurate, and they put Adam’s creation at about 4,000 years BC. According to some, 4,004 BC. And Jesus was born approximately 4 BC. A nice, neat 4,000 years of OT era. Then there is only 2,000 years to go. And it is looking like the number of years is pretty precise. So you put that in the caldron and out comes this “calf” of 1997. And since that means that, with a 7 year tribulation, the rapture is either 1990 or 1993-ish, they had to start rethinking it by about 1995. So put the destruction of Jerusalem into the caldron and the calf changes to about 2070. (I guess we can be a little less precise now since the final 2,000 years does not start precisely at the end of the first 4,000 years.)

My main point is that this is all malarkey. Even if Lee never predicted a precise date, or even the precise year (but only the general period for the year) he is missing the point. If Jesus told his disciples to be watching, then “now” was always possible. If scripture was very soon going to provide enough information to ignore “now” for almost 2,000 years, then what was Jesus doing?

Why is everything always in the next life? Why is our Sabbath rest simply the millennium? Or even the church life? Why is right-living in this life so marginalized? Yes, there are always sermons on it (even in the LRC manner). Spending any time thinking about why some future date is probably it is an invitation to slack-off now.

Why should I concern myself with the end times? Because it is evident that there are consequences for our decisions now. Now is the time for salvation. Now is the time for sanctification. Now is the time for righteousness. Now is the time to walk according to the Spirit (and not some false “spirit”).

And if I truly believe in Jesus, then I would do what he commands. And he commands much more than spiritual living. More than plans about the rapture. More than having a great “church life.” He commands much more obedience. He commands righteousness beyond the simple 10-commandments. (And suggesting that we should just ignore them because “we can’t do it anyway” is to capitulate from the outset. And is subject to a kind of censure by Jesus.)
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Old 07-02-2012, 11:16 AM   #49
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-1

Ok, I will welcome a direct quote from Witness Lee on 1997 if anyone can produce it..... but lacking that it now appears that not only did Witness Lee not "prophesy" the "day" of the Lord's return, he did not "prophesy" the year 1997 either.

From the article the person who calculated 1997 was Nigel Tomes. Using the framework of the teaching of 6000 years and 1 day=1000 years it is the author (Tomes) who derives 1997 mathematically then attributes this to Witness Lee as a prophecy and a prediction.

Furthermore, as OBW has confirmed in his reading, even Witness Lee was not fully convinced of the 6000 years = 6 days, etc. framework.

So we have a scenario where using a teaching that Witness Lee was not fully convinced of, Nigel Tomes has engaged in date setting the Lord's return at 1997 then attributing that as a prophecy by Witness Lee and then he (Tomes) declares it as a failed prophecy!

I find this very disturbing.

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Old 07-02-2012, 01:08 PM   #50
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I find this very disturbing.

Cassidy
It is disturbing Cassidy.

During the Heyday of the New Way in Taipei, which WL considered the consummation of his life's work, the major focus of the work of his ministry, in which he considered himself the Minister of the Age and the Commander-in-Chief of the army of the Most High, a gospel chart was developed and displayed to all the trainees from around the globe. By the year 2,000, the gospel of the kingdom was to be preached to the whole inhabited earth and then the end would come!

Numerous Blended brothers, who were the key trainers designated by WL himself, made it abundantly clear that the chart was not theirs, no absolutely not. They proclaimed repeatedly that "this is Brother Lee's chart." The chart had projections from year 1986 through 2000 when the Lord would return. There was no data beyond y2k. They were emphatic about this.

They even discussed how wonderfully blessed it would be to be born into the Recovery in 1976, which would include all the eleven year old children when I heard this announcement while I was in Hall #3 during May of 1987. These eleven-year-olds would graduate in 1994 from HS, and 1998 from college, and then spend their last two years before His return preaching the gospel in the Full Time Training with brother Witness Lee!

Didn't you say this was "very disturbing," Cassidy?
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Old 07-02-2012, 01:14 PM   #51
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...it now appears that not only did Witness Lee not "prophesy" the "day" of the Lord's return, he did not "prophesy" the year 1997 either...
= Straining out an undersized, anemic gnat

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“Could the Bride be prepared in the…denominations, free groups or the charismatic movement? Certainly not!”— W. Lee

“If we…follow that person we would not…be in the Lord’s bride, turn the age, or bring the Lord back.”

“The Body equals the recovery…practically for us today, the recovery is the Body”--LSM’s Minoru Chen

“Brother Lee was the wise master builder…to do the work of building we need to…be one with him.”

“Other Christians are working, but they are not working the work of God”—LSM’s Benson Phillips

“Millions of genuine believers…will ironically find themselves left behind when the first-fruits are raptured…[because] the spiritual books they read never encouraged them to mature…”--LSM’s N. Betz
= Swallowing a big, fat, bloated camel


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Old 07-02-2012, 01:51 PM   #52
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OK Cassidy,

You may never get your direct quote. Just like Lee almost never said that he was an apostle or other such related things. He just constantly put the one part of a teaching out there (as the LSM has said since Lee's death" out there with statements like "the one who brings you [thus and such] teaching is the apostle of the age" or "the delegated authority" or whatever), then separately stated that he was the one bringing such teachings and no one else was.

No. It is difficult to find Lee ever directly saying much of anything way other there like that. He just stated the parts independently of each other. He said "A=B" in one context then said "I am A" in another. But he never said he was B. Not in direct terms. He left that for others to assert for him. Then when challenged on it, he would say something like "I never said such a thing" or "I never encouraged such speaking." But he was caught at least one time saying that he kinda liked "being exalted." He liked being called such a person as an apostle or a unique minister of the age (I forget which it was).

You can try to assert that Lee was silent on the subject of date/year of the rapture, or Second Coming, but he spoke it in pieces without specifically pointing to the other pieces. He never considered that creating a private ministry empire would put his every word into print where we could dig through it. And his continuing minions are so proud of it that they put it online for us all to read free of charge. They never considered how much damage could be had when it was discovered that he left a bread trail from terms like "just a poor minister" to "apostle of the age" with the "ministry of the age."

And your insistence upon a single sentence or paragraph with everything in it can only be seen as an attempt to obfuscate the wealth of information concerning what he actually did say. And it includes indirect declarations about the year of the rapture. And his ascension to "Apostle of the age."

It has been suggested that your mannerisms hint at a previous advocate for Lee and the LSM. I really don't care. It is clear that, as UntoHim has said, you can choke on a gnat and swallow a camel. That is all that matters. Others will see through your ruse. Or you will wake up and see it yourself. Not sure which.
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Old 07-02-2012, 04:50 PM   #53
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It is disturbing Cassidy.

During the Heyday of the New Way in Taipei, which WL considered the consummation of his life's work, the major focus of the work of his ministry, in which he considered himself the Minister of the Age and the Commander-in-Chief of the army of the Most High, a gospel chart was developed and displayed to all the trainees from around the globe. By the year 2,000, the gospel of the kingdom was to be preached to the whole inhabited earth and then the end would come!

Numerous Blended brothers, who were the key trainers designated by WL himself, made it abundantly clear that the chart was not theirs, no absolutely not. They proclaimed repeatedly that "this is Brother Lee's chart." The chart had projections from year 1986 through 2000 when the Lord would return. There was no data beyond y2k. They were emphatic about this.

They even discussed how wonderfully blessed it would be to be born into the Recovery in 1976, which would include all the eleven year old children when I heard this announcement while I was in Hall #3 during May of 1987. These eleven-year-olds would graduate in 1994 from HS, and 1998 from college, and then spend their last two years before His return preaching the gospel in the Full Time Training with brother Witness Lee!

Didn't you say this was "very disturbing," Cassidy?
It would seem, Ohio, from the article that Tomes was not content to base his argument on what Witness Lee actually said or did in context as you have done. Rather, he finds it necessary to resort to hyperbole of the worst kind, that is, literally taking something Witness Lee said and twisting it, bending it, and stretching it to mean something different thereby violating the integrity of article. Witness Lee did not predict 1997 nor a day within 1997 as Tomes states. It was Tomes who calculated the year 1997. Here is what I mean:

Tomes in his article claims that Witness Lee said certain things. I have put the quotes of Witness Lee in blue as Tomes articulated them and then added the actual missing quotes from Witness Lee in black.

Tomes' version of Witness Lee statements: Based upon the fact that in the eyes of the Lord 1,000 years are the same as a day…6 days mean 6,000 years, and the 7th day will be the 7th thousand, the Sabbath rest during the millennium."“millennial kingdom, a period of 1,000 years, will be the 7th period of 1,000 years, the first 6,000 years being the period from the time of Adam’s creation until the time of the Lord’s coming back.” "from… Adam’s creation until the time of the Lord’s coming back

What Witness Lee actually said in context and with the proper construct:

"Some say that the Sabbath rest in this chapter is the millennium. They say that the millennial kingdom, a period of a thousand years (Rev. 20:4), will be the seventh period of a thousand years, the first six thousand years being the period from the time of Adam’s creation until the time of the Lord’s coming back. This concept is based upon the fact that in the eyes of the Lord a thousand years are the same as a day (2 Pet. 3:8). According to those who hold this concept, six days mean six thousand years, and the seventh day will be the seventh thousand, the Sabbath rest during the millennium. This interpretation has never satisfied me. To say that the Sabbath rest in [Hebrews] 4:9 is simply the millennial kingdom is not altogether accurate; it is only partially correct.”

Now Ohio and fair-minded readers,

Read the above quotes a few times. The juxtaposition of these two quotes show that Tomes flipped the order of what Witness Lee said, then twisted Witness Lee's direct statements to make it sound as if Witness Lee embraced this concept fully, and then Tomes exhibiting the shoddiest research and scholarship claimed that Witness Lee built a prophecy to predict the year the Lord would return!!!

Here below are Tomes misrepresentations in bold after slicing and dicing of Witness Lee statements, putting words in Witness Lee's mouth, and forcing us to buy-in to his conclusions. I find this section of the article very disturbing:

What Tomes would have us believe:

"W. Lee claimed the 6 creation days portray the entire span of human history. He says,99 “Based upon the fact that in the eyes of the Lord 1,000 years are the same as a day…6 days mean 6,000 years, and the 7th day will be the 7th thousand, the Sabbath rest during the millennium.”100 The,101 “millennial kingdom, a period of 1,000 years, will be the 7th period of 1,000 years, the first 6,000 years being the period from the time of Adam’s creation until the time of the Lord’s coming back.” W. Lee asserts the span of human history—“from… Adam’s creation until the time of the Lord’s coming back”—is 6,000 years. This is implies when Christ will return—W. Lee predicts Christ’s 2nd coming will occur 6,000 years after man’s creation. LSM dated Adam’s creation at 4004 BC102 and Christ’s birth at 4 BC. Hence the interval from Adam to Christ was exactly 4,000 years. This leaves 2,000 years for the “age of grace,” which should have ended in 1997.103 Hence, W. Lee’s teaching implies Christ should have returned in AD 1997; He did not! This means Daniel’s 70th week ought to have started in 1990 with Antichrist’s 7-year pact with Israel. The overcomers’ rapture and the great tribulation should have begun in 1993. Plus, the majority’s rapture and Christ’s triumphant return to earth should have happened in 1997. They did not! None of these end-time events predicted by Witness Lee was actually fulfilled. This is a failed prophecy!


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Old 07-02-2012, 06:04 PM   #54
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OBW> "You can try to assert that Lee was silent on the subject of date/year of the rapture, or Second Coming, but he spoke it in pieces without specifically pointing to the other pieces."

Witness Lee was not silent on the subject so I would not make that assertion.
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Old 07-02-2012, 06:30 PM   #55
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Default Re: LSM’s Contradictary Rapture Teaching

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Now Ohio and fair-minded readers,

Read the above quotes a few times. The juxtaposition of these two quotes show that Tomes flipped the order of what Witness Lee said, then twisted Witness Lee's direct statements to make it sound as if Witness Lee embraced this concept fully, and then Tomes exhibiting the shoddiest research and scholarship claimed that Witness Lee built a prophecy to predict the year the Lord would return!!!
Cassidy, you should bring this up with Mr. Tomes. I think every writer should be open to an honest challenge. Challenges are healthy in that they confront the real issues and bring to light what is the truth.

I have tried to be fair with WL and other LC leaders with every post. I regret that I did not fairly evaluate what I was taught in the Recovery for decades. I trusted all the brothers, and some violated that trust in a serious way. No one is above the scrutiny of an honest inquiry. The Bible tells us to "prove all things, hold on to what is good." Too bad we never had such a testing spirit with LC leaders.

If you think WL's writings have been maligned in this article, I would suggest that you dialog with Nigel Tomes directly. I can say, based on my limited contact with him, that he is far more humble than those leaders which I have met at LSM and Cleveland.
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Old 07-02-2012, 09:29 PM   #56
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Cassidy, you should bring this up with Mr. Tomes. I think every writer should be open to an honest challenge. Challenges are healthy in that they confront the real issues and bring to light what is the truth.

I have tried to be fair with WL and other LC leaders with every post. I regret that I did not fairly evaluate what I was taught in the Recovery for decades. I trusted all the brothers, and some violated that trust in a serious way. No one is above the scrutiny of an honest inquiry. The Bible tells us to "prove all things, hold on to what is good." Too bad we never had such a testing spirit with LC leaders.

If you think WL's writings have been maligned in this article, I would suggest that you dialog with Nigel Tomes directly. I can say, based on my limited contact with him, that he is far more humble than those leaders which I have met at LSM and Cleveland.
That is fine Ohio.

Would welcome Tomes to join this dialogue.

No better place than right here.
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Old 07-03-2012, 07:10 AM   #57
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That is fine Ohio.

Would welcome Tomes to join this dialogue.

No better place than right here.
The first step, according to Matthew 16 is to "go to your brother."

Private dialog is always a preferable first step.
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Old 07-03-2012, 07:21 AM   #58
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The first step, according to Matthew 16 is to "go to your brother."

Private dialog is always a preferable first step.
I'm not offended.
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Old 07-03-2012, 08:22 AM   #59
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Firstly, this is an open, public forum. Nigel provided the paper to me to post on this open, public forum, and I'm quite sure he did so with the full expectation that there would be some amount of debate regarding it's content. Tomes is a longtime veteran of academia, and as such would expect nothing less than a healthy, contentious challenge from those with opposing views.

Secondly, I don't see where anybody has gotten "personal" (yet), or thrown any punches below the belt, so I don't think there is any cause for anybody to be offended, or any need for private fellowship or apologies.

Now all this being said, I would invite Nigel to come and respond, but I certainly understand why he may not have the time or heart to do so.
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Old 03-09-2019, 03:06 PM   #60
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Default Re: LSM’s Contradictary Rapture Teaching

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Originally Posted by Cassidy View Post
It would seem, Ohio, from the article that Tomes was not content to base his argument on what Witness Lee actually said or did in context as you have done. Rather, he finds it necessary to resort to hyperbole of the worst kind, that is, literally taking something Witness Lee said and twisting it, bending it, and stretching it to mean something different thereby violating the integrity of article. Witness Lee did not predict 1997 nor a day within 1997 as Tomes states. It was Tomes who calculated the year 1997. Here is what I mean:

Tomes in his article claims that Witness Lee said certain things. I have put the quotes of Witness Lee in blue as Tomes articulated them and then added the actual missing quotes from Witness Lee in black.

Tomes' version of Witness Lee statements: Based upon the fact that in the eyes of the Lord 1,000 years are the same as a day…6 days mean 6,000 years, and the 7th day will be the 7th thousand, the Sabbath rest during the millennium."“millennial kingdom, a period of 1,000 years, will be the 7th period of 1,000 years, the first 6,000 years being the period from the time of Adam’s creation until the time of the Lord’s coming back.” "from… Adam’s creation until the time of the Lord’s coming back

What Witness Lee actually said in context and with the proper construct:

"Some say that the Sabbath rest in this chapter is the millennium. They say that the millennial kingdom, a period of a thousand years (Rev. 20:4), will be the seventh period of a thousand years, the first six thousand years being the period from the time of Adam’s creation until the time of the Lord’s coming back. This concept is based upon the fact that in the eyes of the Lord a thousand years are the same as a day (2 Pet. 3:8). According to those who hold this concept, six days mean six thousand years, and the seventh day will be the seventh thousand, the Sabbath rest during the millennium. This interpretation has never satisfied me. To say that the Sabbath rest in [Hebrews] 4:9 is simply the millennial kingdom is not altogether accurate; it is only partially correct.”

Now Ohio and fair-minded readers,

Read the above quotes a few times. The juxtaposition of these two quotes show that Tomes flipped the order of what Witness Lee said, then twisted Witness Lee's direct statements to make it sound as if Witness Lee embraced this concept fully, and then Tomes exhibiting the shoddiest research and scholarship claimed that Witness Lee built a prophecy to predict the year the Lord would return!!!

Here below are Tomes misrepresentations in bold after slicing and dicing of Witness Lee statements, putting words in Witness Lee's mouth, and forcing us to buy-in to his conclusions. I find this section of the article very disturbing:

What Tomes would have us believe:

"W. Lee claimed the 6 creation days portray the entire span of human history. He says,99 “Based upon the fact that in the eyes of the Lord 1,000 years are the same as a day…6 days mean 6,000 years, and the 7th day will be the 7th thousand, the Sabbath rest during the millennium.”100 The,101 “millennial kingdom, a period of 1,000 years, will be the 7th period of 1,000 years, the first 6,000 years being the period from the time of Adam’s creation until the time of the Lord’s coming back.” W. Lee asserts the span of human history—“from… Adam’s creation until the time of the Lord’s coming back”—is 6,000 years. This is implies when Christ will return—W. Lee predicts Christ’s 2nd coming will occur 6,000 years after man’s creation. LSM dated Adam’s creation at 4004 BC102 and Christ’s birth at 4 BC. Hence the interval from Adam to Christ was exactly 4,000 years. This leaves 2,000 years for the “age of grace,” which should have ended in 1997.103 Hence, W. Lee’s teaching implies Christ should have returned in AD 1997; He did not! This means Daniel’s 70th week ought to have started in 1990 with Antichrist’s 7-year pact with Israel. The overcomers’ rapture and the great tribulation should have begun in 1993. Plus, the majority’s rapture and Christ’s triumphant return to earth should have happened in 1997. They did not! None of these end-time events predicted by Witness Lee was actually fulfilled. This is a failed prophecy!


Cassidy
Didn't Nigel provide a note on it? Or what did I miss?

Quote:
99. Witness Lee, Life-study of Hebrews, Message #18, p. 191. The entire quote in context reads: “Some say that the Sabbath rest in this chapter is the millennium. They say that the millennial kingdom, a period of a thousand years (Rev. 20:4), will be the seventh period of a thousand years, the first six thousand years being the period from the time of Adam’s creation until the time of the Lord’s coming back. This concept is based upon the fact that in the eyes of the Lord a thousand years are the same as a day (2 Pet. 3:8). According to those who hold this concept, six days mean six thousand years, and the seventh day will be the seventh thousand, the Sabbath rest during the millennium. This interpretation has never satisfied me. To say that the Sabbath rest in [Hebrews] 4:9 is simply the millennial kingdom is not altogether accurate; it is only partially correct.” [W. Lee, Life-study of Hebrews, Message #18, p. 191, emphasis added, indicating the portion quoted in the main text.] Notice that W. Lee says, “This interpretation has never satisfied me. To say that the Sabbath rest in [Hebrews] 4:9 is simply the millennial kingdom is not altogether accurate; it is only partially correct.” W. Lee deems this interpretation “only partially correct,” not because he rejects it, but because he augments it with other applications of the “Sabbath rest” saying “Christ is rest to us in three stages. [1] In the church age…[2] in the millennial kingdom… [and 3] In the new heaven and new earth…” [W. Lee, Life-study of Hebrews, Message #18, pp. 194-5]
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