Audacity


July 2, 2015

Ray Comfort and the Living Waters crew are at it again, with a new movie addressing the subject of homosexuality. The Living Waters team was kind enough to share the film with me, and I'm happy to share my thoughts on it.

I've long been a supporter of Living Waters, and have followed that ministry for close to 15 years. Ray Comfort has always had a winsome and gracious manner in both how he shares the Gospel with the lost, and how he encourages the brethren to do the same. “Audacity” brings that, and does it very well.

“Audacity” weaves a dramatical story of a relatively recently saved young man named Peter (he's been a Christian for about a year) with footage of Ray sharing the Gospel on the streets. Peter has a nightmare that jars him to recognize the urgency of sharing the Gospel with others. He uses this throughout the film to suppress his own fears and share the love of God with others, sometimes in rather bold and interesting ways. Ray, on the other hand, demonstrates a lot of skill in gently, yet clearly disarming unbelievers who take the current pop-culture view on the sin of homosexuality in much the same way as he demonstrated on the issue of abortion in his film “180.”

“Audacity” is a great movie to share as a family, and to discuss the biggest issue saturating the current news cycle in a Biblical, Christ-centered way. My only reservation as a father in sharing it with my children is that I do not think they are old enough yet to discuss issues of sexuality (though my oldest, who is eight years old, will be very soon).

For the unbeliever in your life, “Audacity” not only does a great job of communicating the Gospel, as we've come to expect from Ray Comfort and Living Waters, it also provides an excellent example that we can show of how Christians really view them, showing love and concern while remaining faithful to the Word of God. Those who may watch it will hopefully recognize that the straw-man caricature of homophobic Christians portrayed in our common culture just isn't accurate. The film also weaves a message throughout that appearances are often deceiving, and that we (believer and unbeliever alike) shouldn't be so quick to judge the motives of others.

The film is available now at AudacityMovie.com, and you can support Living Waters by purchasing the film now. It will also be released freely on Youtube on August 19th.

AUDACITY – Official Release Trailer (2015) HD – Ray Comfort from Living Waters on Vimeo.


Posted at 10:18 am in: Christianity,News/Commentary

Jerusalem’s King Trailer


March 23, 2015

Jerusalem's King, a production of the Mount Moriah Foundation, Signet Ring Ministries, and Echo Zoe Ministries, is set to be released next month.


Posted at 9:33 am in: echozoe

A Look at the Rapture, Part 4: Imminence


June 25, 2014

So far in the “A Look at the Rapture” series, we've introduced the subject, laid out the basic differences between the Pre-Tribulational rapture view and the Pre-Wrath rapture view, walked through Matthew 24, and we took a look at the differences between the 70th Week of Daniel, the Tribulation, and the Day of the Lord.

In this installment, it's my intention to address the question of imminence.

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Matthew 24:36-39

This passage certainly leaves the impression that the Lord will return at a moment no one suspects to gather His elect. It is a key passage in the Pre-Tribulational view. No other single aspect of Pre-Tribulationalism has as firm of a grip on the people who hold to the Pre-Trib view as does the doctrine of imminence. The fallacy of equivocation, which we discussed in part 3, often comes up because it is necessary to the Pre-Tribulational understanding of imminence.

So just what is imminence? The Pre-Tribulational view of imminence is the teaching that Jesus could (and will) return to gather His church at any moment, with no advanced notice, and no signs necessary for it to happen. They essentially teach that, following Pentecost, there are no more prophecies that must be fulfilled before Christ can return to gather the Elect. The word “imminent” could mean that something is certain to happen, it's only a matter of time. We speak of imminence in our daily lives in this manner often. For example, at the time of this writing, there have been tensions in Ukraine for a few months between the pro-western Ukrainians that live mainly in the western part of that country, and the pro-Russian Ukrainians that live mainly in the east. It seems that a civil war, or even a Russian invasion, are imminent. Pre-Tribulationists use this very meaning of imminent, be the certainty of Christ's return is assured, not just assumed, as in the case of war in Ukraine.

Another way of looking at imminence is simply to say that something is certain to happen, and we know when it will happen. Independence Day, 2014 is imminent. We not only know it's coming, we know it's a week from Friday. The midterm elections are also imminent. They will happen on November 4th, 2014. Knowing the day does not make it any less imminent than the imminence of the next major California earthquake.

Along the lines of the second understanding of imminence, there is the case of knowing something will happen, and knowing generally when it will happen, but not knowing exactly when it will happen. In Minnesota, the first major freeze is generally in October or November. We don't know exactly when it will happen, it could be mid-October to as late as the end of November, but we can be certain it will happen. If I don't get the water in my irrigation system blown out before it happens, I can be certain I'll be digging up busted pipe the following spring if I wish to water my lawn again. My dad, who blows out irrigation systems in the fall for extra cash, generally comes over sometime in the second week of October to do it for me.

It is this latter understanding of imminence that Pre-Wrathers look to in our understanding of the timing of the return of Christ. Having looked at Matthew 24, we've already dealt with this to some degree. Also, looking above to the quote of vs. 36-39, it would be the Pre-Wrath view that we do know the season of the Lord's return to gather His elect (like we know the season of the first hard freeze in Minnesota), we just don't know the day or hour.

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A Look at the Rapture: Part 3 – The Fallacy of Equivocation


June 21, 2014

So far in this series on the rapture, we've introduced the subject, explained the basic differences between the Pre-Tribulational and Pre-Wrath views of the rapture of the church, and looked at Matthew 24, a key passage in regard to the timing of events leading up to Jesus' return for His church. In this installment, we'll investigate the differences between three key time periods immediately preceding the return of Jesus Christ at the end of the age. It is my contention that proponents of the Pre-Tribulational view of rapture commit the fallacy of equivocation in regard to these three periods, arguing that they are all different terms referring to the same period of time.

The distinction between these time periods is very important to the discussion of rapture. If these time periods are, in fact, the same, then several passages of scripture require a Pre-Tribulational rapture. If they are not the same, but rather are ways of breaking down a larger period of time into smaller periods within that larger period, then the Pre-Wrath view does a much better job of harmonizing the passages of scripture that point to the return of Christ.

The three terms, or periods of time, that we are going to look at here are as follows: The 70th Week of Daniel, the Tribulation, and the Day of the Lord. Because the proponents of the Pre-Tribulational view see all of these periods as being the same, and the terms as synonymous, the following description of each is the view held by the Pre-Wrath view.

The 70th Week of Daniel

Perhaps the most common term used to refer to the final few years at the End of the Age is “The 70th Week of Daniel.” This term is derived from Daniel 9:24-27

Seventy weeks are decreed about your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, land to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place. Know therefore and understand that from the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of an anointed one, a prince, there shall be seven weeks. Then for sixty-two weeks it shall be built again with squares and moat, but in a troubled time. And after the sixty-two weeks, an anointed one shall be cut off and shall have nothing. And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.” emphasis mine

When Daniel prophesies of “weeks,” he is referring to seven-year periods, or weeks of years, not weeks of days. This is not controversial, Bible scholars of all persuasions agree on the usage of the terms here.

Of the 70 weeks (of years) described above, 69 have already come to pass. From the end of the Babylonian captivity, which Daniel was writing from, until the time that Jerusalem and the Temple would be rebuilt would be seven weeks, or 49 years. Immediately following, there would be 62 weeks until Messiah would come, minister, and “be cut off.” In other words, this 62 weeks terminates with the crucifixion of Christ. That leaves us with a total of 69 weeks that commenced with the decree of Cyrus the Persian to rebuild Jerusalem (Ezra 1) and terminated with the death of Jesus Christ.

Pre-Trib and Pre-Wrath agrees that this period of time is seven years in duration. There has been no serious disagreement over that of which I am aware. One week is seven years.
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A Look at the Rapture, Part 2: Matthew 24


June 18, 2014

Previously, I began this series with an introduction to the issue, and a look at the differences between the Pre-Tribulational and the Pre-Wrath views of the rapture of the church. “Rapture” is a transliteration of the Latin word rapturo, which means “catching up,” and refers to the gathering of the elect before the Day of the Lord. In this installment, it is my intention to take the reader through the 24th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew, in order to show how clear the text really is about the events surrounding the end of the age. In part 1, I asked the reader to read Matthew 24 before proceeding; if you didn't do that, please do so now, before proceeding.

Matthew 24 flows directly from Matthew 23, which consists of the famous woes to the Pharisees, and ends with this passage:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” Matthew 23:37-39

Then we proceed into Matthew 24, which begins with the disciples commenting on the architecture of the city of Jerusalem:

Jesus left the temple and was going away, when his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple. But he answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” Matthew 24:1-2

He's clearly upset, but as long as he brought up His return and the destruction of Jerusalem, the disciples ask privately how we'll know when to expect that:

As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you dare not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are but the beginning of the birth pains.

“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name's sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom swill be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:3-14

Already we are starting to see Jesus paint us a picture of the last days. In order to maintain the focus on Matthew 24, I won't get into some of the parallel passages, such as Revelation 6, but I will recommend to the reader that you read that chapter to see how well the events parallel what Jesus describes here. Before you do that, let us continue.

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A Look at the Rapture, Part 1


June 14, 2014

In the introduction, I described the beginnings of my views on eschatology, including my background as a Pre-Tribulationalist and my conversion to the Pre-Wrath view of the Rapture of the church. In part one, I would like to begin interacting with the two views, and lay out the case for why I think the Pre-Wrath view is more faithful to the scriptures.

Before I can begin interacting with the two views, I think it is important to describe both views, at least as well as I understand them. Having begun my life as a Christian as a Pre-Tribulationalist, I'll start with the Pre-Trib view. Before I do, I'll try to lay out the general Pre-Millenial view that both Rapture views agree on. I think it is worth stating that both views, in my opinion, have far more in common than they have differences. It wasn't a big leap for me to change from one view to the other.

Pre-Millenialism

Both Pre-Tribulationalism and Pre-Wrath are Pre-Millenial views of the end of the age, the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the restoration of the Creation to its Pre-Adamic, Pre-Cursed state.

Pre-Millennialism is the view that the millennial (ie. 1,000 year) reign of Christ on the Earth as described in the Scriptures is literal, and that His return, the battle between Heaven and Earth, and the judgment of the wicked will take place before the millennial reign begins. This is in contrast to and Post-Millenialism, which both see the millennial reign of Christ as figurative. Both of those views teach that the millennium of Christ's rule is not a literal 1,000 years, but merely a lengthy period of time between Christ's first and second comings, during which time He reigns spiritually from Heaven. I won't get into any more details here, nor will I seek to refute or interact with the non-Pre-Millennial views any further, but simply seek to illustrate that Pre-Tribulationalism and Pre-Wrath agree on the nature of the millennial reign of Christ and they agree that He will return to judge the living and the dead before He begins that reign.

Pre-Tribulationalism

The distinctions that put people into the Pre-Tribulational view have mostly to do with the timing of Christ's gathering of the Elect. The final period of time before the judgment of the wicked and the beginning of Christ's Millennial reign is described in Scripture as a seven-year period of time. It goes by several different names, including: The 70th Week of Daniel (describing a “week” of years, see Daniel 9), The Tribulation, and the “Time of Jacob's Trouble” (see Jeremiah 30:7).

The Pre-Trib view holds that Christ's gathering of the elect takes place before this seven year period begins, and that it will be a secret gathering. In other words, Christians will simply, suddenly, and unexplainably disappear. No one will see it coming, and the unbelieving world will have no honest explanation for it after it happens. Many theories for how the unbelieving world will react logically proceed from this belief of a “secret rapture,” but none are grounded in scripture, they merely flow from a logical and philosophical progression of the view. One such theory states that the Anti-Christ will tell the world that “wicked Christians” were taken out to be judged (for any number of “sins” upon the world).

Pre-Tribulationalism also teaches that there are no preceding signs required before either the rapture of the church or the 70th week of Daniel can begin. They believe only that the rapture comes first. Many will say that it is unknown how much time passes between the rapture and the commencement of Daniel's 70th week; that it could be minutes, or it could be years. Most will postulate that the time span is likely in the neighborhood of weeks or months, but probably not years, and highly unlikely to be several years.

Pre-Wrath

As a person who holds to the Pre-Wrath view of the rapture of the church (again, this means the gathering of the Elect by Christ at the end of this age), I actually agree with much of what Pre-Tribulationalism teaches. In my introduction, I mentioned my pastor and good friend Eric Douma, who holds to a Pre-Tribulational point of view. Eric is currently teaching through Revelation in our church's adult Sunday School, which brings him into many other passages of Scripture to fully explain the text of John's Apocalyptic book. As I have listened to the audio of Eric's teaching, I could say that I agree with over 90% of what Eric is teaching. Because I hold Eric in such high regard, and so greatly respect the way he handles the Word of God every Sunday, whether teaching Sunday School or delivering a sermon, I find myself especially frustrated over the few percent of differences that we share. I don't get frustrated with people like Hal Lindsey any more, mostly because I don't respect him as I do Eric.

With that said, I'll lay out the primary differences that we have with each other's points of view. As I progress into part two and beyond, I'll interact with these differences, and continue past them into other differences that Pre-Trib and Pre-Wrath have with each other, as well as explain why I believe that Pre-Wrath is the better view.

To begin with, the conversion from Pre-Trib to Pre-Wrath that I went to can be boiled down to one simple change of understanding. That is the view of the specific timing of the rapture of the Church. Pre-Wrath sees the rapture as occuring at some unknown point in time during the last half of Daniel's 70th week. It doesn't kick off the 70th week, or the Tribulation, but as ending it.

“Ending it” is an important difference of view. Pre-Trib sees the Tribulation as being the entire seven year period; seven years, with 360 days in each year (Pre-Wrath would agree that the Bible describes years at being 360 days, not the 365.25 days that we are used to in our Gregorian calendar). That's opposed to Pre-Wrath, which makes a big distinction between the 70th week of Daniel, the Tribulation, and the Wrath of God or Day of the Lord. Pre-Trib sees the four as being synonymous. Pre-Wrath sees the last two as being synonymous, but otherwise are different ways of distinguishing the whole or parts of the greater period of time. Specifically, that the 70th Week of Daniel is the entire period, the Tribulation is a portion of that seven year period, and the Wrath of God (or Day of the Lord) as being another period that follows the Tribulation. This distinction will be important, as we'll see in later parts of this series. However, you can see how “ending it” can be seen from different points of view. If the Wrath of God comes after the Tribulation, the rapture “ending it” (the Tribulation), is an important distinction. It's completely the opposite of the Pre-Trib view, which says that the rapture begins the Tribulation.

I can't understate the difference between the Tribulation and the Wrath of God. Pre-Tribbers see them as one-and-the same, and Pre-Wrathers see them as distinct and different. This is a major area of contention between the two views. Again, we'll interact with this difference later in this series.

Before We Continue

One thing is very important for my case as I explain the strengths of the Pre-Wrath view, and the problems with the Pre-Trib view, and that is a proper understanding of Matthew 24. My good friend Eric Douma and I completely agree that a person's understanding of Matthew 24 is fundamental to our understanding of the greater debate between the two camps of Pre-Millennial eschatology. Before we continue, I urge the reader to stop and go read Matthew 24. Read the entire chapter. As you read, be very careful to follow the text closely. Look at who is talking to whom. Look at what is being discussed. Look at orders of events. Be mindful of signs and non-signs. Consider everything in context with everything else. Try as hard as you can to keep your mind open, and don't insert your pre-existing views into the text, let it speak for itself. As we continue, we'll interact with Matthew 24 heavily.


A Look at the Rapture, Introduction


June 10, 2014

In 2008, I was just starting out with a podcast here at Echo Zoe, and four episodes in I interviewed my friend and the Associate Pastor of our church, Ryan Habbena. Our church, collectively speaking, held to a Pre-Millenial, Pre-Tribulational view of eschatology, so I was a bit surprised to hear that Ryan held a view that I had never heard of before: the Pre-Wrath view of the Rapture. I had asked Ryan if he would do a podcast episode with me, and he suggested that we talk about the Pre-Wrath view. I was still a Pre-Tribber myself, but I greatly respected Ryan and wanted to hear more about this strange view. Ryan confidently stated that he would be converting me, to which I replied “you're welcome to try, but I have my doubts.” That podcast episode, published in August of 2008, was his successful attempt to persuade me that the Pre-Tribulational view is not the most Biblically sound view of the issue of the timing of Christ's return to gather His church.

Prior to the interview with Ryan, I held rather strongly to Pre-Tribulationalism. I had heard a few different views; primarily Preterism, Amillenialism, Post-Millenialism, and Post-Tribulationalism. None of them fit well with my own reading of the Scriptures. Of all the views I had heard before, Pre-Tribulationalsim really was the most Biblically sound view. The key was: of all the views I had heard before.

I had come to salvation by way of eschatology. I had heard a presentation by Chuck Missler of Koinonia House that presented Biblical eschatology along side a commentary on current events (this was 1999, the presentation was probably a few years old at the time). The Holy Spirit used that presentation to show me that the Lord will be returning soon, and I was in trouble. The Law of God suddenly made sense. My conscience told me I was in trouble; if Christ returned, it wouldn't be a good thing for me. On the other hand, I also suddenly realized what the cross was all about. The Gospel, which I had heard all my life, suddenly made sense. I knew there was no way out on my own, I must repent and trust Christ alone for salvation.

I spent the first five years as a Christian not only devouring the Word of God, but focussing especially on prophecy, with an emphasis on end-times prophecy. I gobbled up everything Chuck Missler ever put out (to that point), followed Hal Lindsey, reveled in the “Left Behind” series, and soaked in whatever I could find that was Pre-Tribulational in nature. This just to say that I was sold on the theology, it wouldn't be easy to change my mind.

The one thing Ryan really had going for him was that, while I was sold on Pre-Tribulationalism, I have always had a greater desire for truth than I have had for being reinforced in what I believe. If something I believe isn't the truth, I've always wanted to know, and make the right corrections.

Despite seeing Pre-Tribulationalism as the most likely explanation for the things I was reading in the Scriptures, I had questions. There were things that seemed a little odd, but because the view explained things better than Preterism or Amillenialism, and certainly much better than Post-Millenialism, I let them go, figuring I'd eventually witness it all come to pass (either by living through it, or by watching from Heaven some day), so I wasn't too worried about it. As Ryan explained the Pre-Wrath view, my questions began being answered, without the problem of new and bigger questions replacing them.

Since then, I've given the view a lot of consideration. I haven't studied it with the fervor that I studied Pre-Tribbulationalism in my early days as a Christian, but I've read the scriptures looking for passages that could poke holes in the view, or that would reinforce the view. I haven't found anything substantial that pokes holes, but have found much that reinforces it.

In subsequent posts, I plan to lay out my understanding of eschatology, from a Pre-Wrath view, and interact with the Pre-Tribulational view. I still have many friends that hold to Pre-Tribulationalism, and respect those who still hold to it. My own pastor (Ryan and I haven't been at the same church for over 5 years) is thoroughly Pre-Tribulational in his view, and because I so greatly respect his handling of the Scriptures, I will likely interact with some of his objections or counter-claims. I will also pull from other sources that defend Pre-Tribulationalism and interact with their claims and challenges.


Reformation Day


October 31, 2013

In honor of the 496th anniversary of the Reformation, and as is annual tradition here at Echo Zoe, I give you the Reformation Polka, and all 95 of Luther's Theses:

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Posted at 8:50 am in: Christianity

The First Decade


October 22, 2013

This past Sunday marked a bit of a milestone for Echo Zoe. I had it in mind, but with a morning power outage and making sure I got to church early to teach the first session of the logic course, I got distracted.

Sunday was October 20, 2013, and marked 10 years since the original post of the website that would eventually become Echo Zoe Ministries.

It was on October 20, 2003 that I first got Movable Type loaded onto a Linux web server running on an old computer I had. It was just a small blog that proved that I could manage to load the software without outside help, but I kept it going and eventually it became what you see here today. The site has changed names (for about a week, I called it ‘Vapid Vitality'), changed servers more than once, and even got it's own domain name, having begun with a DynDns address that pointed to my home network.

It wasn't until 2008 that I recorded the first podcast, which marked the new direction for the website, and would eventually lead to the incorporation as Echo Zoe Ministries.

Echo Zoe Ministries isn't 10 years old, but it wouldn't have come about if not for that first post on that little blog 10 years ago.

That post is still available, but was moved over to a personal site when Echo Zoe became an exclusively Christian/theological website. You can read that post over at Just a Vapor.


Posted at 12:25 pm in: In the Life of the Author

John 3:16


December 30, 2012


Posted at 7:52 pm in: Christianity

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