Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Myth of the "Removal" of the Holy Spirit from Earth: 2 Thessalonians 2:7

Haven't posted any Bible Myths lately, or anything else for that matter!

But the passage in 2 Thessalonians Chapter 2 verses 6, 7 and 8 (NIV) it says:

"And now you know what is holding him (the "man of lawlessness" in verse 3) back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus Christ will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming."

The King James uses the term "restrainer" to mean the one "holding him back" and (I think, I don't have it in front of me) the NRSV uses the term "retainer" or "holder"...it is commonly thought that the one who holds back or the restrainer refers to the Holy Spirit. Pre-trib rapture folks, post-trib rapture folks, post-millennialists and amillennialists pretty much agree with this.

That's not the argument here...the argument is whether or not the Holy Spirit "leaves" the Earth ("taken out of the way" here and the King James, "is removed" in the NRSV...the Concordant Literal is completely different, confusing, and I will not bring up what it says here).

Those who believe that the Holy Spirit leaves the Earth believes that event happens because it leaves the Earth when God "raptures" up the believers who have the Holy Spirit with them, thus the Holy Spirit will not be able to be found on the Earth once those with the Holy Spirit leave the Earth. But one of the major problems with Rapture Eschatology is that part and parcel with that theology is that "a remnant" will convert to believing in Christ (Jews, mostly) during the time when the Holy Spirit is no longer on the Earth. Now, isn't it true that when one truly believes Christ is his Savior, that Christ died for his sins, that the Holy Spirit is given to the new believer? Thus, one cannot say that once the raptured believers are taken off the Earth, the Holy Spirit goes with them, and will not return until the "lawless one" is defeated by Christ. In fact one of the main things that keeps believers still believing is that they have the Holy Spirit. And in fact the Holy Spirit will ALWAYS remain in the believer if one truly is a believer.

But what if one is a "believer" of convenience, one on which the Word of God has fallen, and then it whithers as if surrounded by thorns or falls on rock or the soil isn't deep enough (see Matthew 13)? What if the believing is not true believing? What if one stops believing, then rebels against God? There are examples of this happening in the Book of Acts, Paul's Epistles and other places. So, perhaps the Holy Spirit "leaves" those particular individuals, but never "leaves" the Earth completely.

The wording is important: Notice the prepositional phrase "of lawlessness" in verse 7; the subject is "secret power", and in verse 7, who does "he" refer to? So let's read this without the prepositional phrase:

"For the secret power is already at work; but the one who now holds back the secret power (it) will continue to do so until the man of lawlessness (he) is taken out of the way."

Or, does "he" refer to the one who holds "it" back?

Stay tuned, and I will discuss this further in the next day or so.

Deborah Lagarde

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