BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVES VOL.III No.6 Nov.-Dec.1990 Copyright Biblical Awareness Ministries, 1990 Coming in out of the "Latter Rain": A Biblical Critique Part II by Thomas Ice Image is often thought to be more important than substance in today's positivistic atmosphere. It doesn't matter if you are really rich, as long as you project an image of wealth and success. Emphasis is on what you appear to be, not what you really are in our subjective world of polls and public opinion in the 1990s. This, "If- you-believe-it-you-can-make-it-happen" mentality has also exerted great influence upon contemporary Christians as well. Too many are involved in an approach to Christian- ity which believes that it is not as important to find out what the Bible objectively says, so we can live by it, as much as it is to use Scripture as a source to support subjective and positive goals which we want for our lives and the church as a whole. As believers in Christ, we must read God's Word in order to find out what He is telling us, not as a mirror which reflects our own thoughts. This is Paul's emphasis in 2 Timothy 2:15 where he charged Christian leaders to handle accurately the word of truth. In the previous issue (III:5) we probed into the nature and development of latter rain/restoration teach- ings. This issue will compare latter rain/restoration teach- ings and interpretations of the Bible to see if they are legitimately supported by God's Word. This involves an interaction with some of their foundational doctrines as well as an examination of key passages from Scripture. It is my contention that while they use many words and phrases from the Bible, they do not use them in the way God did in His Word. I believe at many crucial points they mishandle God's Word. KEY THEOLOGICAL CONCEPTS AND PASSAGES Restoration Latter rain teachers say that the church began at a high point and then began a path of decline. Around AD. 1200 the decline bottomed out and began upward progress toward the full restoration which they teach we are on the verge of seeing in our day. The first question that comes to my mind is what passages from the Bible teach this? Many passages teach that God's program for Israel includes a time of decline, scattering, regathering, and restoration (Deut. 4:25-31; 30:1-10). However, no such pattern is stated concerning God's plan for the Church. The parables of Matthew 13 speak of the interad- vent age between Christ's two comings and describe it as a time of preaching (sowing) the gospel yielding varied responses (mostly rejection). These parables indicate that the growth of Christendom will start out small and become large. However, nothing is said in this passage about the spiritual qualities during this time unless leaven implies the growth and spread of apostasy. The New Testament is absolutely silent regarding a restoration for the Church. Acts 3:21 is a major passage to which restorationists point in an attempt to give Scriptural support to their views. Acts 3:19-21 says,"Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time." Restorationist Dick Iverson says of this passage, "These are times when God will give the Church that which was lost." (Present Day Truths, p. 52) Instead Iverson should have said, "these are times when God will give Israel that which was lost." If' this refers to Israel and not the church then Iverson is wrong. If a father were to give a large amount of money to one of his two children, then he wrote a letter to inform the child of his gift which was intercepted and read by the second child; it would not follow that the second child could rightly claim the treasure merely by reading the first child's mail. So it is with the Bible. Letters written to Israel are meant for Israel, even though another party may read them and gain insight and appreciation for their common father. Letters addressed to the church speak of things the father has for her and not Israel. Therefore, it is important, especially when examining prophetic pas- sages, to know to whom it is written. Now let us look at some specific points from this passage so that we might come to understand it in its intended context. First, as in his Acts 2 sermon, Peter is speaking to a Jewish audience whom he has accused of crucifying Christ. Notice the terms he used in verses 13- 15 to heap guilt upon Israel: "you delivered up and disowned," "but you disowned," "but [you] put to death the Prince of life. " In verse 17 Peter told the Jewish crowd that they had "acted in ignorance," which set the stage for his call for them to repent and accept Jesus as their Messiah, the Messiah of Israel. Then, after they accepted Jesus as Messiah (Zech. 12:10), their promised Millennial Kingdom would be established, called by Peter in this passage the Times of refreshing. " Second, another confirmation that Peter is talking about Israel's Kingdom is seen in the noun "restoration" (3:21). The same word is used as a verb in Acts 1:6 when the disciples kept asking Jesus before His ascension, "Lord, is it at this tine You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?" Even after forty days of the Lord "speaking of the things concerning the Kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3), His disciples were wondering about the timing of the arrival of Israel's kingdom. Notice, the Lord's teaching did not change their basic view of the kingdom, instead their ques- tions revolve around the timing of the kingdom. As the reader follows the flow of the context in the early chapters of Acts, it is clear that this is the same concern Peter is addressing to the group in chapter three, as he proclaims that the condition for the coming of the kingdom is to accept Jesus as Israel's Messiah, something that will take place at the end of the tribulation period. Third, the Old Testament did not predict the Church, but it did predict the coming of the Messianic kingdom. The New Testament clearly reveals the church was a mystery (secret) in Old Testament times. This is not merely the logical conclusion of applying the literal herme- neutic and observing that the Church is not foreseen in the Old Testament. Instead, passages explicitly declare this. Romans 16:25-26, "according to the revelation of the mys- tery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets." Ephesians 3:1-9, "you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit . . ." (4-5) " . . to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God."(9). Colossians 1:24-28 "the mystery which has been hidden from the [past] ages and generations; but has now been manifested to His saints"(26). These passages tell us that the current age was a mystery during Old Testament times. Therefore, how could references to Old Testament passages and events be predictive of God's plan for the Church? They cannot! Once again, restoration/latter rain teachers are (mis)applying passages which refer to Israel and wrongly linking them to the Church. While there is a lot of "theologizing" about restora- tion for the church every time restorationists see the word "restore" in the Bible, there is no Biblical basis whatsoever to support their thesis of a last days restoration for the Church. Israel will be restored, but the Church will be raptured before the tribulation period, during which time "all Israel will be saved." Another problem that arises from confusing God's plan for Israel with th at of the Church in Acts 3:21 is stated by Dick Iverson. We notice also that Christ cannot return until all that the prophets spoke be fulfilled. Many people think that Christ could come at any minute. He could come for them any minute, but; He will not come for the Church until all be fulfilled. In fact, the heavens MUST retain Him against that time, for when He returns He is coming for a fully re- stored Church--a Church that is glorious, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing. (PDT, p. 53) (Earl Paulk has taken a similar position in his book Held In The Heavens Until. . . ) Iverson is correct if this passage refers to the Church, but he is woefully wrong if it refers to God's plan for Israel instead, as it does. Error built upon error multiplies error and causes one to miss what the passage is actually teaching. Acts 3:21 is only one of many passages which speak of a precondition for the second coming in relation to Israel (6. Matt. 23:37-39), however, there are no passages relating to any preconditions for the rapture of the Church. Since there are no passages in the Bible supporting a restoration of the Church, what does the New Testament teach about the course of the current age? It teaches that this age will be a time in which the Gospel is to be preached by believers throughout the age and God will be saving some through faith in Christ. However, it will also be a time of persecution for believers (John 15:18-24; 16:32-33) and increasing apostasy of Christendom (2 Tim. 3:13), during which time believers are encouraged to remain faithful to Christ regardless of the trends and pressures (2 Tim. 3:14). On the other hand, a specific outline of Israel's history was given at the time of the birth of the nation (c. 1400 B.C.). God told Moses in Deuteronomy 4:15-40 that when the nation arrived in their promised land that they would disobey the Lord and be disciplined by being scat- tered throughout the Gentile nations. Then one day they would be gathered out from the peoples of the world and be restored to their ancient land and would be blessed. This would happen "in the latter days, " declares the Lord, when "you will return to the LORD Your God and listen to His voice"(4:30). Restoration is for Israel during the tribula- tion, not for the Church. Spiritual Israel Another common technique used by restoration- ists and latter rain advocates is to say that the Church is now spiritual Israel. They believe that they then have the right to take the volumes of passages, often from the prophets, and link them spiritually to the Church. There- fore, Israel is finished in God's plan as a nation, while inherits the promises made to Israel in some spiritual way. Restorationist Rick Godwin is an example of this view. So we see in Abraham the birthing of two seeds: the nation of Israel physically and the spiritual nation of Israel--the Church. And if I hear one more person say, "Ahhh, there ain't no such thing as the spiritual Israel." I'm going to vomit all over'em. What are we reading? For God sake. Get rid of that Judaistic spirit after the flesh and we'll find out what the real Jew is! You'll find out God has never been and is not now a racist. Ever! The Church is. God isn't; never has been." ("The True Seed of Abraham," Tape G032788) Let's look at this matter more closely. The Church is the spiritual seed of Abraham, but not spiritual Israel. The Bible does say that "if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring" (Gal. 3:29). It does not say that we are spiritual Israel. Was Abraham an Israelite? No, but he was the father of Isaac, who was the father of Jacob or Israel. Abraham represented blessing to both Jew and Gentile. Too often those who want to replace physical Israel with the Church do it by stretching the term "seed of Abraham" to all of a sudden mean "spiritual Israel." Charles Ryrie has noted that those who hold to a spiritual Israel view "often argue that since the Church is the seed of Abraham and Israel is the seed of Abraham, the Church equals Israel." (Dispensationalism Today, p. 148) Ryrie answers that view by clarifying the proper relationship of the Church to the seed of Abraham by saying that "the Church is a seed of Abraham, but this does not mean that the Church is Israel."(p. 148) Ryrie notes the three ways the Bible uses the term "seed of Abraham": (1) There is the natural seed, the physical descen- dants of Abraham-- . . . (Isa. 41:8). (2) There is Christ . . . (Gal. 3:16). (3) Christians are Abraham's seed--... (Gal. 3:29). (p. 148) Those who believe in a future destiny for physical Israel do not deny that the Church is part of the spiritual blessing flowing out of the Abrahamic Covenant through Christ. However, we do not believe that the Bible teaches that the Church replaces Israel, as do some. It is a both/ and situation, not an either/or choice. Paul makes it clear in Romans 15:27 that Gentiles during the Church age "have shared in their (Israel's) spiritual things." Therefore, as sharers, he does not mean taker-overs; for we are not spiritual Israel. Who is spiri- tual Israel? I think that the Bible uses the concept of spiritual Israel to refer to physical Israelites or Jews who are regenerate believers in Jesus as the Messiah, i.e., spiritual (born again) Israel. Just as the term spiritual Gentile would refer to a Gentile who has a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Paul is saying in Romans 2:28-29 when he states "he is not a Jew who is one outwardly . . . but he is a Jew who is one inwardly, " that just because one is a physical Jew does not mean that He is a believer. There are two kinds of Jews, those who do not know God through Christ but are racial Jews (physical Jews) and those who are physical Jews as well as spiritual Jews who know God through Christ. These spiritual Jews are the ones Paul is greeting as he closes his letter to the Galatians, "peace and mercy be upon them and upon the Israel of God"(6:16). After having been so rough on the Judaizers, Israel after the flesh only, he concludes with a greeting to those within the family of God who are Jews, but are believing Jews; called in this passage by Paul "the Israel of God." S. Lewis Johnson, in an essay where he studies the meaning of the term "Israel of God" concludes If there is an interpretation that totters on a tenuous foundation, it is the view that Paul equates the term "the Israel of God" with the believing church of Jews and Gentiles. To support it, the general usage of the term Israel in Paul, in the New Testament, and in the Scriptures as a whole is ignored.... If, as LaRondelle asserts, "Paul's benediction in Galatians 6:16 becomes, then, the chief witness in the New Testament in declaring that the universal church of Christ is the Israel of God, the seed of Abraham, the heir to Israel's covenant promise (cf. Gal. 3:29; 6:16)," then the doctrine that the church of Gentiles and Jews is the Israel of God rests on an illusion. It is a classic case of tendentious exegesis." ("Paul and The Israel of God': A Case-Study" in Essays in Honor of J. Dwight Pentecost, p. 195) Apostasy or Revival? Another important area where restorationists and latter rain advocates have missed the teaching of Scrip- ture is in regard to the state of the Church as this age draws to its end. Will it end in revival or will it sink increasingly into apostasy? They fail to realize that the Church, in its overall posture, cannot be characterized by both revival and apostasy at the same time. This is an either/or issue. Rick Godwin has said, The Lord is going to have a "Glorious Church" before He returns. . . . For years the belief was that we would never have another revival,... We utterly reject that line of thinking in light of clear Scripture. The Glorious Church is to be a mighty army of over-comers through whom God reveals and demonstrates Himself to man. ('Vision of the Eagle's Nest Christian Fellowship," in Tape and Book Catalog, July, 1990, page 6) The Bible does not teach that the Church will be this mighty army of overcomers, in the way Godwin envisions. Once again, his "support" is taken from passages which refer to Israel and not the Church or verses referring to believers during the tribulation period after the Church has been removed. Let's look at what the words revival and apostasy mean as used by Christians today. A revival includes evangelist success but usually means more than that. It is normally used to refer to the social and political change which results from the changed lives of those converts to Christ. On the other hand, apostasy does not refer to whether or not small or large numbers of individuals are coming to Christ; rather it is interested in the theological or doctrinal integrity of the Church. Therefore, a believer can always preach the gospel with confidence during the whole of the Church age, knowing that God will be at work bringing sinners to Himself up Until the very end. APOSTASY IN THE NEW TESTAMENT Gospels* Matthew 12:14-37; 13:1-52; 15:12; 23:1-36; 24:10-28 Mark 6:21-30 Luke 8;13-18 John 6:60-71; 8:31-59; 13:21-30; 15:18-27 Acts Acts 8:8-24; 13:4-12; 20:17-35 Paul's Epistles Romans 1:18-32; 10; 16:16-17 2 Corinthians 11:1-15 13:5 Galatians 1:6-9; 5:1-12 Philippians 3:2, 18-19 Colossians 2:4-23 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 1 Timothy 1:3-7; 4:1-3; 6:3-5 2 Timothy 2:11-26; 3:1-14; 4:1-6 Titus 1:10-16 General Epistles Hebrews 2:1-4; 3:7-4:13; 5:12-6:12; 10:26-31, 12:14-17 1 Peter 3:19-20 2 Peter 2:1-22; 3:3-10 1 John 2:18-23 2 John 9 Jude 3-23 REVELATION Revelation 2:1-3:22; 4:1-5:14; 6:1-10:11, 11:1-15:8; 16:1-18:24; 19:1-20:15 *Incomplete listings The New Testament, especially the Epistles, clearly teaches that the whole of the Church age is a time of increasing apostasy within Christendom. In fact, so much space is spent in the New Testament dealing with the issue of apostasy that it has to be considered one of its major themes. Apostasy constitutes the main theme of entire books and chapters as well as paragraphs and verses in the New Testament. Apostasy and its evil effects provide the main message of such books as 2 Timothy, 2 Peter, and Jude. Apostasy occupies a prominent place in such books as Galatians, 2 Thessalonians, Hebrews, and Revelation. Apostasy and apostates are set forth with varying degrees of detail as to their character and conduct, influence and teaching. Believers are warned to know how to recognize them and Christian leaders are supposed to protect their flocks from them and their unhealthy doctrine. Apostasy is doctrinal error, not how many will or will not be saved, whether or not the economy will be good or bad, or how moral or immoral society will be. When you couple the tremendous amount of Scripture dealing with the apostasy of the Church with the absence of language speaking of the victory of the Church in the sense that the restoration and latter rain advocates suggest, then there is no basis for their view from the Word of God. Now, the Bible does speak of individuals who are overcomers, but that proves the point since they are contrasted with apostates. In addition, the victory language in the New Testament applies to individual believers, not the Church as a whole. Notice the chart which lists the references to apostasy in the New Testament. I am not rejoicing in the apostasy theme of the New Testament, instead I must note this point in an effort to call the Church away from apostasy. The sobering fact is clear: either the restoration/latter rain movement is a heaven sent revival from God or it is part of the end-time apostasy preparing the way for the coming antichrist. It cannot be both. You must decide! You cannot be neutral! If it is the great revival then all true believers must join the band wagon. If it is not, then all true believers should have enough Biblical sense to come in out of the latter rain apostasy. These are important issues. Restoration of the Fivefold Ministries In our previous issue (III:5) we noted Bill Hamon's explanation of the restoration of the fivefold ministries of evangelists, pastors, teachers, apostles, and prophets in the end-time (p. 5). This is said by restorationists to be spoken of in Ephesians 4:11-16. Fellow latter rain advo- cate, Rick Joyner, claims that he received the contents of a book he wrote called The Harvest, as a revelation from God on three different occasions. (p. 7) Joyner spoke about the restoration of apostles and prophets to help prepare the Church for the soon coming fullness of the latter rain. He said, The next spiritual contraction will bring about the restoration and recognition of the PROPHETS. We will see the prophetic ministry become the primary focus of attention during the next few years as a much greater anointing comes upon this ministry than has been seen since Bib- lical times. (pp. 28-29) There will be another contraction during which a true APOSTOLIC authority will be re- stored and recognized within the advancing church. (P. 31) Their interpretation/revelation about the restora- tion of the gifted men in Ephesians 4:11 is erroneous for a number of reasons. The major objection is rather obvious to anyone who would simply read the passage; the text says nothing about a restoration of these ministries. Simply put, the text does not speak of such an occurrence. They have pulled this concept out of the thin air of their fertile imaginations. Christ's giving of apostles and prophets to the Church is said in Ephesians 2:20 to be something which is to be foundational to the Church, not something given to each generation of believers. The passage says, "having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone. The picture is that of a building process which is going on during the entire period of the Church age; from Pentecost to the rapture. This process can be described as taking place in three stages. Phase one is the laying of the corner stone, which describes the first century, nonrepeatable, work of Christ. The rest of the building is supposed to orient itself in terms of Christ the corner stone. Phase two is the foundation of the apostles and prophets, which also occured in the first century and is nonrepeatable. However,just as with Christ, even though it is nonrepeatable, it does not mean that it is nonappli- cable for today. Just as with a foundation in a physical building, which once it is build it continues to be used, so it is with the ministry of the apostles and prophets who gave us the boundaries of the gospel and doctrine upon which believers are being used of God to build Christ's Church. Once the foundation is laid, you don't keep redoing it each generation, instead you continue to build upon it. Phase three is the superstructure of the rest of the building which is built upon and in terms of the guidelines laid out by the corner stone and the foundation. This work will be completed at the rapture when the last person destined to make-up the final component of the Body of Christ believes. Then the Church will be complete. Within the framework of the Biblical picture of Ephesians 2, to say that God is restoring apostles and prophets implies that foundation which has been laid is not complete and we have been building the house upon a shaky foundation. Ephesians 3:5 echoes the thought of 2:20 when Paul says concerning the mystery of Christ: "which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His Holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit." The emphasis is upon revelation received during the time of Paul's writing, which implies that the ministry of apostles and prophets was completed in the past. When we come to the Ephesians 4:11 use of apostles and prophets, with evangelists, and pastors and teachers we observe a division of labor employed in the building of God's spiritual temple--the Church. Phase two, the foun- dation, was completed during the apostolic age ending around AD. 100 and those workmen left the scene, while the fruit of their labor remains. That foundation was the New Testament canon of Scripture. Phase three is en- trusted with the task of building upon the sure foundation of Christ and the apostles. This is why the bulk of labor over the life of the project (the Church age) is done by the evangelist, and the pastor-teachers. They remain on site until the structure is complete at the rapture. This is why the Pastoral Epistles (l& 2 Timothy and Titus) stress the importance of following and protecting the fixed deposit of Apostolic faith by faithful men, so that it can be passed from generation of generation (2 Tim. 2:2). Therefore, evangelist, and pastor-teachers have never faded from the scene so that they have to be restored as latter rain advocates teach. The Holy Spirit has been using believers to win and disciple others for the last 2,000 years without interrup- tion as taught by restorationists. The Church is being perfected with the original doctrine contained in the New Testament and does not need an updated version of "Apostles' doctrine 2.1." The first edition did not have any glitches. Why would anyone want to bring the foundation crew back on the job when the roof is near completion, unless they want to improperly change the foundation. Yet to want to add to the foundation, when it has already been set is the desire and practice of false prophets and teachers. The believer who opens themselves up to "new revelation" is opening themselves up to deception. As Paul told Timothy, "Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you" (2 Tim. 1:13-14). This is the Church's calling in our day: to guard the foundation laid by Christ, and the apostles and prophets, while building upon that foundation the superstructure through evangelism and discipleship. A Perfect Church Rick Godwin has been described by Jack Taylor as "God's John Wayne to the Church!" (Tape and Book Cata- log, July, 1990, page 8) Probably a more accurate descrip- tion would be to liken Godwin to Rambo; John Wayne had manners and was a gentleman. Note Godwin's belief that the Church will be perfected before Christ's return: The Lord is going to have a "Glorious Church" before He returns. This thought encorm- passes the theme of personal and corporate purity, for Scripture says that His Church will be 'with- out spot, wrinkle or blemish." His Church will have Power followed by signs and wonders, for Scripture says," it will be a glorious church. (Vision of the Eagle's Nest Christian Fellowship," in Tape and Book Catalog, July, 1990, page 6) Ephesians 5:25-27 is the passage which latter rain/ restorationists use to say that the end-time Church will have the restoration of apostolic power and unity which will produce the greatest period of miracles and conver- sions to Christ in all of history. However, they mishandle this passage as they do many others. "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her; that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless" (Eph. 5:25-27). There is no question that this passage speaks of a glorious church, without sport or wrinkle. But how does the Bible use those terms? Do restorationists use them in the same way the Bible does? I believe they do not. In a nutshell, the Bible uses them to describe the believer's legal standing before God as won on our behalf through Christ's work on the cross. On the other hand, restoration- ists (mis)apply it as something which the believer and the Church can grow into and become in our current experi- ence. God's plan of salvation is often discussed in terms of one's covenantal standing before God. This is legal lan- guage. When Adam fell, his sin was imputed or credited to the legal bank account of every person born thereafter, even though no one personally committed that sin (Rom. 5:12-21). Our legal standing (some call this positional truth) forms the basis from which our experience follows. Therefore, human beings sin experientially because they are legally or positionally sinners. In the same way, Christ had to first deal with the legal barrier of sin in winning salvation for the Church as the basis for experiential change in the life of the individual believer and the Church as a whole. Positional standing in Christ is the basis upon which the believer is to live his life experientially through faith. When properly interpreting Scripture, one must be familiar enough with the way the Bible uses various terms. Often a decision must be made as to whether or not a word or phrase is describing a positional truth or an experiential aspect of salvation. The difference it makes in the interpretation of Ephesians 5:25-27 is great. If these are positional terms, then the perfection spoken of in this passage is that earned by Christ through His saving work, which is applied positionally to the believer, but will not be experienced in its fullness until glorification at the time of the resurrection. However, if these are taken experien- tially as applying to our current time, then it is teaching perfection of the individual believer as well corporate perfection. I will now examine reasons why this passage should be interpreted positionally. First, verse 25 is grounding Paul's admonition on the basis of Christ's giving of Himself sacrificially on the cross. Certainly something that ap- plies to the believer's legal standing before God. Second, the passive participle "having cleansed" in verse 26 speaks of action which occurs simultaneously with the action of the verb it is related to, "gave" in verse 25. Thus, the cleansing is related to Christ's giving of Himself on the cross, a positional use and not experiential. Third, the vocabulary used in this passage are terms that are used throughout the Bible to describe positional salvation or justification, not the process of living the Christian life. "Cleanse" refers to ceremonial cleansing within the Old Testament temple ritual depicting justifi- cation. It is used to describe positional salvation in John 15:3 when Jesus said, "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you." "Washing of water with the word" also is a positional phrase descriptive of becoming a Christian, not being a Christian (cf. Titus 3:5). Likewise, the terms in verse 27, having no "spot" or "wrinkle," but that believers should be "holy" and "blame- less" in this context refer to our legal standing earned by Christ in His death on the cross, not a current progress. Therefore, the body of Christ is being perfected as each person believes the Gospel and receives the finished work of Christ to their account. When that last person believes and the rapture occurs, then will the resurrected and glorified bride be presented to Christ in experiential perfection at the marriage supper of the Lamb. She will not experience perfection before resurrection during the some supposed latter rain outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church. CONCLUSION Like many of my sermons, I have run out of time, in this case, space, before I finished. But you should be able to see by now that terms like "latter rain" and "Joel's army" from Joel 2 do not in any way, shape, or form refer to the Church. Instead they refer to God's program for Israel. In addition, if the Church will be taken out before the tribulation of Daniel's 70th week begins (the pretrib rap- ture), which I believe, then one cannot believe in a theology of restoration and latter rain. The pretrib position teaches that the Church is raptured, not restored. Other views of the rapture (partial, midtrib, pre-wrath, and posttrib), all mix God's program for Israel and the Church into the tribulation, thus allowing for the possibility, but not the necessity, of some form of latter rain/restoration teach- ings. I want to conclude by saying that I think this move- ment is extremely dangerous theologically and is restoring the ancient heresy and practices of gnosticism, not true Christianity. This is paving the way for the widespread acceptance of false doctrine and the false signs, wonders, and miracles which will be a trademark of antichrist during the coming tribulation. Tommy Ice is pastor of oak Hill Bible Church in Austin, Texas. He has a B.A. in Bible and Greek from Howard Payne University, and a Th.M. in Historical Theology from Dallas Seminary.