A Critique of J. Preston Eby's Looking for His Appearing
The following is a critique of J. Preston Eby's article "Looking For His Appearing". I have only included those portions of Eby's article that I intend to comment on. It can be found in it's entireity on this site (http://www.hisremnant.org/eby/articles/kingdom/looking/looking1.htm ). Eby's comments are in bold, mine are in plain text.
It was the last night of the revival in the sleepy little south Alabama town. The congregation was softly singing, "Just as I am," and the preacher was standing in front of the pulpit with both arms raised in invitation. He. knew there were people present who needed to receive Christ as Saviour. "Jesus Christ could come tonight," he urged. "Will you be ready for Him? The trumpet may sound before this meeting is over, or before you awake in the morning. When that happens the cemeteries will burst open and the dead rise, and those living who are ready will go soaring off into space to meet the Lord. Everywhere people will suddenly be missing without any clue as to where they may be.
The Antichrist will then appear and the Great Tribulation will begin. Those of you who are left will have to go through seven years of hell on earth. The scenes of earth will be indescribably bewildering and terrifying. Oh, why not make things right with God tonight so you will be spared from such a time of trouble and punishment!"
Up to this point it sounds like Eby believed in a Pre-Trib Rapture.
On another occasion I arrived home from school one late afternoon. I stepped off the school bus in our rural district and made my way up the embankment to the house. The house was open, the windows up, the doors unlocked; but no one was to be found. Mother wasn't there. My brothers weren't there. The house was empty! I called but no one answered. I checked across the road at the neighbors and they were gone, too. Suddenly a terrible fear seized me and my blood ran cold. "Oh, my God!" I thought, "the rapture has taken place and I have been left." There is no doubt that I was the happiest little boy in the whole world that afternoon when my mother came walking across the hollow. Of course, Jesus hadn't come that day nor has He come (in that manner) any other day in the past forty years. Looking back, I wonder why it took me so long to question what the preacher said.
Here we see it was a traumatic childhood experience (fear of the unknown) that began to lead him away from the Pre-Trib theory. The fact that he suspected he had been left behind betrays a lack of confidence that he was saved.
Of course, among those who believe in the return of the Lord, most simply take it for granted that His return could take place at any moment, But is that true? Is it possible that you might step out the front door of your home tonight, see a bright light flashing across the sky, and suddenly realize that Jesus IS RETURNING, and He is returning NOW? After all, Jesus did promise to return. "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go ... I WILL COME AGAIN, and receive you unto myself" (Jn. 14:2-3). "For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Mat. 24:27). Make no mistake about it! Jesus did promise to go away and to return to planet earth.
Here we see the first flaw in Eby's understanding of prophecy--he incorrectly interprets the Matt. 24 passage as speaking of the Rapture, when it is instead talking about Christ's 2nd coming, in Judgment. These are two separate events and which event is being spoken of can be determined by the context of the passage and whether Judgment or blessing is being portrayed.
Also, Jesus never taught about the Rapture to his disciples. He only briefly mentioned the forming of the Church, such as in the passage Eby quoted above, John 14:2-3, and the Church didn't even start till after Christ died and rose again. And his disciples didn't even understand that he had to die, so how could they fathom the Rapture? Paul was given the responsibility of teaching about the Church and the Rapture which occured many years after Christ died and rose again. For that reason I believe Christ was not talking about the Rapture in Matt. 24.
Before the Lord Jesus Christ left this earth to ascend to heaven, He said, "I will come again." He, as the glorified Christ, repeated these words to the apostle John on the lonely island of Patmos, "And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me" (Rev. 22:12). Twenty-one times, at least, Jesus speaks of His coming again, and most of these references are made on the eve of His departure.
Plain as Jesus had made the promise of His coming again to His disciples, at the time of His ascension, they still did not seem to grasp its significance. A faithful group of His followers stood looking upward on that historic occasion. As the Lord ascended, He perceived their consternation and sent messengers of assurance: "And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; which also said, You men of Galilee, why stand you gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him go into heaven" (Acts 1:10-11).
No subject has been more misunderstood or misconstrued than this great truth; and yet it is the hope of the ages. The focus of the entire scriptures is upon this great event. Most of the differences in scriptural interpretation among Christians is the result of an incomplete knowledge of the plan and purpose of God.
This is very true. However, the basis of the problem lies in an understanding of the Whole Bible, i.e., God's plan for Isreal vs the Church.
Much of what is taught and believed in Christian circles today is derived from the wrong source - Bible study!
Is Eby actually saying that we don't need to study scripture?
That statement may astound you, and you may demand to know why I say that the great mass of confusion in Bible teaching stems from the wrong source - Bible study. What's wrong with Bible study? Isn't this very article an effort in Bible study? Ah, there is nothing whatever wrong with Bible study IF WE HAVE THE RIGHT TEACHER TEACHING US. Christians gather together in Bible schools, Bible study groups, Sunday schools, etc., to study the Word of God, but the problem with the vast majority of such groups is that they have the wrong teacher - the human, natural, carnal mind! They try to decipher the deep and wondrous and spiritual mysteries of the Word of God with the human intellect, instead of allowing the One whom God sent to be our teacher, the Holy Spirit of Truth, to unveil to pure minds and transformed hearts the hidden mysteries of the Kingdom of God, and His great plan and purpose. If we all have the right teacher we will all be taught the same thing, and what we learn of Him will be the truth. What He teaches is truth; He cannot give us anything else but truth.
So, why are we reading Eby's article if we don't need Teachers? Is he saying he is the only one with the truth? If we didn't study the Bible then we would never know if that teacher we heard, or that little voice we are hearing in our heads, is telling us the truth. In fact Paul told us to rely on Scripture and also to teach it:
"All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of god may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. . . . I give you this charge [command]: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction" (2 Tim. 3:16-4:2.)Please notice that it says you will be thoroughly equipped if you study the Scriptures. And we also have the Holy Spirit whose main job is to explain the scriptures to us. Yet Eby is telling us that Bible study is a bad thing. Also, just before this passage Paul said,
"But as for you [Timothy], continue in what you have learned and have become concinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation, through faith in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim. 3:16-4:2.)Please notice again, that we are told we are to continue in what we have learned already and that it is the Scriptures that will make us wise for salvation. So scripture is speaking against what Eby teaches.
This admonition against Bible study is the same line we hear from every cult or false teacher ever claiming to know the truth, i.e., their goal is to keep people from relying on the Word of God and get them to trust in what they say instead.
When we think we know it all, we shut ourselves off from further revelation, and make it impossible for the Spirit of Truth to guide us into all truth. We need to pay heed to the Biblical injunction, "If any man think that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know" (I Cor. 8:2).
Yes, we still have a lot to learn, there is yet much of the total picture to be revealed to us, and as the beams of divine revelation stream from the glory above, let us ever walk in that light, and as we do, it will be fulfilled in us what the scriptures say, "The path of the just is as a shining light, that shines more and more unto the perfect day" (Prov. 4:18).
Now it appears that he is about to tell us that he has a New Revelation for us. But, as we saw in the 2 Timmothy passage above, Paul says we have already been given all we need in the Scriptures.
There are many precious christians who believe, and have received the Lord Jesus as their Saviour, who try to fit into this one, initial experience with the Lord, all the parts of the Word of God that pertain to further experiences. The infilling of the Holy Spirit, the gifts of the Spirit, the in Christ experience, sonship, overcoming and reigning with Christ, and many others, . . .
I have hilighted the above words in red because these are code words for the Manifest Sons of God movement (MSOG) which we will hear more about later.
. . . they think these have all been incorporated in this first experience of regeneration. Yet, those of us who have received the infilling of the Holy Spirit as another experience, know what blessing and reality they are depriving themselves of when they assume that they have received the infilling of the Holy Spirit when they first believed. The infilling of the Spirit is not the end either, as many Charismatics seem to believe, it is merely the beginning of more and more wonderful experiences with the Lord, and we continue to walk in the Spirit and grow up into the image and glory of God.
Now we are being told that our initial experience, i.e., when the Holy Spirit came to reside in our hearts, at the moment of salvation, is not enough. This is such a basic error to the understanding of how the Holy Spirit works that I really don't want to take up the time or the space to explain this error as there are a multitude of critiques of this theory available on the net. What Eby is actually saying is that the Holy Spirit does not really stay with us, that he comes and goes and it is only through a Special Infilling that we can really understand God's Word. Eby was complaining about "Concepts" not listed in scripture. But yet he is using terms, such as, "infilling" and "sonship" and other such MSOG terms that don't appear in scripture either.
It will take intense spiritual effort, and much prayer and holy brokenness before God, to lay aside all one has heard and hears, to lay down all preconceived notions and ideas, to find out just what the Holy Spirit teaches. The one question ultimately must be, What does the Word of God actually teach? and not, What have men taught?
Why are we reading Eby's interpretation of the 2nd Coming if we are not to listen to what men teach?
NO "SECOND COMING"!
It may surprise many of my readers to learn that the Bible nowhere speaks of the "second coming" of Christ. Interesting, isn't it - how some of the major and most commonly accepted doctrines of professing Christianity cannot be found in the Bible? There is no mention whatever of such things as Christmas, Easter, the "immaculate conception" of Mary, mass, popes, church buildings, the Trinity, or - the "second coming"! The Spirit of God has dealt with me severely and consistently through many years that the Lord's people should purge their conversation, purify their terminology, and remove from their consciousness the multitude of non-scriptural and extra-biblical expressions carried over from Mystery Babylon.
I would tend to agree with Eby re Christmas, Easter, the immaculate conception, mass, and popes. But, anyone who has any knowledge of the Bible at all will understand that there are "Concepts" in the Bible that are not given the title that we them by today. And anyone who denies the Trinity or the 2nd Coming, just because the words don't occur in the Bible, is way out there in left field. These concepts are still there just the same. The word "Bible" isn't in the Bible either. Does this mean we should deny the Bible exists?
And this term - "the second coming of Christ" - is not scriptural, either, and cannot be found anywhere in the Bible; yet it has influenced the thinking and teaching of most Christians to accept and believe concepts that simply are not true. We have been so confused in our thinking that everything in the scriptures pertaining to the coming of the Lord, His appearing, His manifestation have to fit into His coming as a man two milleniums ago, or to His so-called "second coming" when every eye shall see Him. This is wrong. Very wrong.
Every eye shall see Him when he returns -- In judgment of a Christ rejecting world, and by "Christ rejecting" I'm also talking about those who believe in a false Christ or a Christ made in their own image. And a person who adamately refutes the concept of the Trinity is believing in a Christ who cannot save.
The second coming of Christ is not a biblical phrase. It has no scriptural warrant. It is my deep conviction that it should be discarded altogether, for it is the cause of much confusion of thought and not a little positive error. Many texts speak of the coming of Christ, the coming of the Son of man, the coming of the Lord or similar phrases. The word "second" never occurs with a word that can be translated "coming."
Now we see that his denial of the understanding of "Concepts" in the Bible has led him to deny that Christ comes to the earth twice--once as a saviour who died for our sins and the 2nd time a judge who will condemn all sin.
Let us consider a few passages. "For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Mat. 24:27). "We which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep" (I Thes. 4:15). "And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming" (II Thes. 2:8). "Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waits for the precious fruit of the earth, and has long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain" (James 5:7). "Be also patient; establish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draws nigh" (James 5:8).
These texts, and many others, all include the English word "coming." But the preachers, when preaching from these texts, always ADD the word "second" to each one, and proceed to preach on "the second coming of Christ"! They invariably add the word "second" to every "coming" in the New Testament, and then add the "second coming of Christ" to nearly every chapter in the Bible - even in the Old Testament. Adding "second" to the word "coming" does violence to the meaning every time.
See my explanation above. And also keep in mind that a lot of the people these scriptures were written to/by already knew Christ came once, possibly from personally knowing/seeing him, and they had also been promised, by Christ himself, that he would come again, i.e., there will be two comings, This destroys Eby's theory right there.
Also, Eby is mixing scriptures speaking on the Rapture (1 Thess. 4:15) with those speaking about the 2nd Coming (Matt 24:27). And, if you read the verse just before 2 Thess 2:8 you will see it is speaking about the Rapture happening just before the antichrist is Revealed which is a long time before the 2nd Coming. And James 5:8 is talking about Harvest time--this could apply to either the Rapture or the 2nd Coming. And from this lumping together of these verses as pertaining to the 2nd Coming we can easily discern that Eby knows not whereof he speaks.
THE COMINGS OF OUR LORD
On the day of Pentecost Christ came again as the Comforter. "And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of Truth: whom the world cannot receive, because it sees Him not, neither knows Him: but you know Him; for He DWELLS WITH YOU, and shall be IN YOU. I will not leave you comfortless (orphans): I WILL COME UNTO YOU. Yet A little while, and the world sees me no more; but YOU SEE ME: because I live, you shall live also. At that day you shall know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I IN YOU" (Jn. 14:16-20).
Ok, now we see some more evidence of how Eby's denial of "Concepts" in the Bible, and specifically this time, the Trinity, and how this leads him to the erroneous understanding that Christ is the Comforter.
And hence it is that so very few Christians have really scriptural thoughts about the coming of their Lord. They are looking into prophecy for the church's hope - they confound "the Sun of Righteousness" with "the Morning Star" - they mix up the coming of Christ "IN His saints," and His coming "WITH the saints" - they have not the foggiest notion what is the difference in time or manifestation between His coming as Rain or His coming as fire; His coming as Saviour and His coming as Lord; His coming as Lightning or His coming with Clouds; His coming as Bridegroom or His coming as King. All this is a most serious mistake, against which I am compelled by the Spirit of God to warn my readers.
Didn't Eby just tell us that Christ is the Comforter. So why is he saying the Spirit of God is warning him to spread the message. Why didn't he say Christ? If he denies the Trinity then who is this "Spirit of God" he is talking about?