RETURN TO INDEX
THE FIRST AND THE LAST [ - Part I]
by Leland Earls
[Ed note: This closing article in brother Leland’s ministry was inspired by questions posed to him by one identified as a “Canadian reader.” I was that reader. After having written brother Earls my questions regarding the apparent contradiction between his teachings and Paul’s statements on the rapture, and before brother Leland published this response, the Lord actually provided me with other answers that reconciled the seeming contradiction as well. I will share those answers as a post script to this article. CBA ]
"This is the revelation of Jesus Christ—His unveiling of the divine mysteries. God gave it to Him to disclose end make known to His bond servants certain things which must shortly come to pass in their entirety. And He sent and communicated it through His angel (messenger) to his bond servant John, who has testified to and vouched for all that he saw (in his visions), the Word of God and testimony of Jesus Christ... I (John) was in the Spirit—rapt in His power—on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a great voice like the calling of a war trumpet, saying, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the FIRST AND THE LAST. Write promptly what you see (your vision) in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in
Asia." (Rev. 1:1-2, 10-11 Amplified Version).
Please prayerfully read and meditate on the above words. It is important to understand that the book of Revelation contains "divine mysteries" which had not been previously unveiled - either by Jesus Himself, or anyone else. Furthermore, to make the matter emphatic, the glorified Christ characterizes Himself in this final revelation as the "Alpha and the Omega, the FIRST and the LAST." (Rev. 1:11). “Alpha” is the first letter in the Greek alphabet and "Omega" is the last. Letters make up syllables and words. Words communicate ideas. Thus Jesus was emphatically declaring that He alone (as THE WORD - John 1:1, 11; Rev. 19:11) has the first and the last "word" on matters of Divine Revelation.
Why is this so important? Because so many Bible students seek to find in the epistles of Paul, Peter. John, etc. the "final word" on various aspects of Christian truth. Certainly the apostles have made a contribution to our understanding. But only in the words of Jesus in the Gospels and the book of Revelation do we have the FIRST and LAST authoritative "word" on all spiritual truth. And all the revelations of Jesus are FOUNDED in that which the mighty Yahweh-Spirit had made known to Moses and the other prophets in the Old Testament. "To the law (Moses) and to the testimony (of the other prophets)! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." (Is. 8:20).
[Does Paul Contradict the Teachings of a Two-Stage Translation?]
In order to illustrate this principle, I will now deal with a couple of questions submitted by a Canadian reader regarding apparent contradictions between statements made by the apostle Paul, and that which is founded in the revelation of Jesus Christ, concerning end-time truths. The questions are as follows:
1. Paul says in I Cor. 15:15 that "we shall all be changed" at the time of translation. This appears to contradict the word in your book “Let My People Go " that only those who have attained the proper maturity by the end of the tribulation shall be changed while the rest remain on earth to enter the earth-based Kingdom. What is your solution for this?
2. Paul indicates in I Thess. 4:15 that the translation of the living ones does not precede the resurrection of the dead. Despite the abundance of evidence to scripturally support otherwise the taking of a "first fruits sheaf” before the tribulation, how do you reconcile the apparent contradiction?
First, I will go to the heart of the matter and answer briefly the above questions. Secondly, since Paul's statements quoted in the above questions deal with climactic events to take place at the close of this age, I will go into the Scriptural pattern for the "harvest" and show how Paul's statements fit into this pattern. Third and finally, I will seek to probe somewhat deeper into Paul's understanding and draw out some points which perhaps you had not noticed before.
[The Incompleteness of Paul’s End Time Teaching]
First, Paul was honest enough to admit that he understood only "in part," and as "in a mirror, dimly" (I Cor. 13:12), Therefore it is impossible to build a pattern of end-time events on the writings of Paul alone. Read again what I have already written in the first part of this article. I repeat, there is only ONE who has the "first word" and "last word" on all divinely revealed truth: Jesus Christ. Whatever was revealed to Spirit-tutored men such as Peter, Paul, etc., was but partial and incomplete; only "pieces" of the over-all puzzle and will not be contradictory if fitted into the proper place.
I point out in my "Three Comings of Jesus " booklet that even Jesus' words in the gospels do not give a complete picture of end-time events. For example, in John 5:29, Jesus speaks of the resurrection of some unto life, and others unto judgment. Based on that statement, we might conclude that both resurrections would take place at the same time, but according to Rev. 20:4-6 there is more than one resurrection, separated by at least a thousand years. To give additional revelation that had not been given before was the very purpose of Jesus sending a special messenger to John on the isle of Patmos (Rev. 1:1). If Paul was given the "last word" on end-time prophetic events, why would John receive additional details from a special messenger long after Paul's ministry was over (ponder that much until its truth has sunk deeply into your consciousness). As to Paul saying in I Cor. 15:15, that "we all" shall be changed, we must understand that there are different categories of Christians. I will seek to show as we proceed that we need to understand WHO Paul is including when he uses such pronouns as "we" "our" and "us."
[NEXT: PART II ]
BACK TO TOP
RETURN TO INDEX