REALITY or ILLUSION?
Many people, I believe, are operating in the area of various "illusions", and not in "reality". What do I mean by that statement, you might ask? Well, in answering that question, let's start with a simple illustration. I have heard of people being lost in a desert, dying of thirst, and they think they see a pool of water in the distance. When they approach what they believed to be a pool of water, it is simply more sand! This we call an "optical illusion", thinking we see something that is not really there. It is a case of our mind playing tricks on us, and is not in the realm of reality. Here in New Brunswick we have this phenomenon of the so-called "magnetic hill", which is really an optical illusion. The way the landscape is shaped, you think you are going up hill, when in reality your are of course going down hill. This same problem exists in the church. We have been told many things by sincere teachers of the Word of God that have proved out to be illusions, when compared with a "face value" approach to scripture, which is reality!
One of these illusions was introduced to the church in 1909 by a man named C.I. Scofield, who published a Bible named after him. This Bible introduced a teaching that has affected many sincere Christians ever since. It is known as "Dispensationalism", based on his belief that all of human history is divided up into seven periods, that he called "dispensations". The reality is that there are only two periods, called in our Bibles the Old and the New Testaments, or sometimes referred to as "covenants". They are clearly explained by Jesus Himself, as recorded in (Matt 11:7-18). John the Baptist can be considered as the man who stood between the OT and the NT. He was the greatest of all the OT prophets, and yet Jesus said that even the least member in the Kingdom of Heaven is greater than him. In other words any truly "born again" believer, who is a follower of Jesus, and a citizen of His Kingdom, holds a higher position with God than any OT prophet! I prefer to believe the words of Jesus over any man's theory, how about you?
Another case of a well known theory that I consider an illusion is that of the very popular "Pretribulation Rapture" teaching. This is actually a combination of the "secret rapture" theory introduced in 1830, which taught that Jesus would come at any moment to catch away the church, and take them to heaven to be with Him. Then when Dr. Scofield introduced his dispensational theory in 1909, which taught that the "church age" must end before the "kingdom age" could begin, the marriage of these two theories produced the Pretribulation Rapture theory! The reality is that Jesus will remain in heaven with His Father "until" certain scriptures are fulfilled, such as (Ps 110:1), (Acts 3:19-21), (2 Thess 2:1-8), plus others. Another much believed illusion is that Jesus is busily building "mansions" in heaven for His followers to inhabit for eternity. This is based on a misinterpretation of (John 14:1-4), thanks in part to the translators of the King James Bible, who used "mansions" in verse 2 and used "abode" for the same Greek word in verse 23 of this same chapter. The word abode comes closer to the proper meaning, as used by Paul in (Eph 2:22), to describe the Church that Jesus is presently building from His position in heaven. (Matt 16:18) He is accomplishing this through the work of the Holy Spirit, who came to earth to replace Him when He returned to heaven after He had finished His mission of redemption of mankind! When the Church is complete and has made herself ready (2 Cor 7:1), which I believe will only happen during the tribulation period at the hands of the Antichrist, and then the Father will give Jesus permission to come to earth to receive His Bride (Rev 21). This Bride is His Church that He has been building for over 2000 years, and will bring down to earth, and locate it just above the rebuilt natural Jerusalem. This will be the dwelling place for Jesus, His Church/Bride, and the Father through out eternity! This is the "reality" that can only be understood by a "face value" interpretation of the Bible, instead of living in the "illusion" given to us by believing the theories of men. By face value, I mean applying the following principles, 1/ Seek to discover the author's intended meaning, 2/ Recognize the importance of context, 3/ Wherever possible, let scripture interpret scripture, 4/ Determine the literal reference of figures of speech, 5/ Look for near/far implications and applications in prophetic passages. Since I started to follow these principles in my reading of the Word of God, many errors that I had always believed as truth became clear to me, as I'm sure they will to you too. We must apply what the believers did in (Acts 17:11)!!