G.H. Pember and the Firstfruits, Pre-Trib Rapture
The firstfruits rapture doctrine is a vital teaching in the Christian life. Although the next world is the time for absolute judgment, there are temporal, earthly warnings here as well. Every believer is commanded by Christ to:
Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit
indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
Although this includes all of life, there is a serious time of "temptation" that the believer should watch and pray to be delivered from:
Luke 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted
worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand
before the Son of man.
Revelation 3:10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also
will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the
world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
In regard to Rev.3:10, and Luke 21:36, you will have not, because you ask not and believe not! Either one must pervert the words of the Bible in Luke 21:36, etc. or one must fall for the absurd idea that the "Church" only comprises people from Pentecost to the start of the Trib, and that therefore since the Jews are being grafted back "in", that such means all Christians get a free ride out before Rev.6:1!
The men that perverted the pre-trib translation doctrine into an unconditional sponge, did so by the use of that Augustinian, Catholic, Hyper Puritan doctrine that there "aren't really any disobedient Christians". So when they see Rev.3:10, or the example of Enoch in Heb.11:5, they conclude that since all Christians are good boys and girls, the warnings about being left only apply to unbelievers!
Well some men were the true warriors of dispensational, pre millennial, pre trib theology. Men like G.H. Pember were so hard-core that many Bible school professors still praise him, while making sure their students don't ever see any of his writings! Perhaps many are afraid lest Pember's truth be made known and they be not able to put out the fire of his weighty arguments.
***The following is excerpts from an unpublished letter by G.H. Pember in 1903:
Your kind letter has been forwarded to me to Malvern where I am staying for two or three weeks. But I have placed my permanent address at the head of this page, in order that you may know it, if you should wish to write to me again.
Opposition to anything that is new must always be reckoned upon, and more especially in the case of Biblical interpretation. Men will not readily give up that which they have been in the habit of teaching; nor do they find it easy to adapt their thought to unfamiliar ideas.
We shall not, therefore, be likely to increase spiritual wisdom if we allow opposition to affect our judgment; but can only do so by imitating the Bereans and diligently searching the Scriptures to see whether these things be so.
I have had much opposition in England which, however, is beginning to give way because it is becoming evident that opponents cannot prove their assertions from Scripture and often endeavour to make up for deficiency in argument by vehemence of expression.
In reply to the extract from your friend's letter, I would remark:
1. His argument from men is, generally, unsafe; he may also be misinformed. But, even if he be not, it is only in the Bible issues that truth can be discerned.
2. He is, however, certainly misinformed in regard to Dr. Bullinger, who, instead of being "an enthusiastic Firstfruits advocate, is a strong opponent of that view, as he is of many other things which I am trying to teach. One of his heterodoxies is mentioned by your friend: another is his idea that the whole of the New Testament, save the Epistles of Paul alone, were written for the Jews, or for Jewish Churches, and not for the Churches of this Dispensation.
3. I do not know Mr. Schofield; but Mr. Gabelein, as an "Exclusive Brother"...follows of course, the traditions of J.N. Darby...
Sir Robert Anderson I have not seen lately, illness having prevented my usual visits to London. But he has once or twice supported me in public, and always, when he could, helped in the Prophetic Conferences which I organized in London....
Certainly Dr. McKilliam.. is opposed to the doctrine of the Firstfruits; but hitherto he has produced no valid Scriptural argument against it. ...
4. The difficulty which your friend finds in the idea of a Firstfruits plainly indicates that he does not understand the doctrine which he criticizes. For the blessed dead have no concern whatever with the object of the Firstfruits rapture;..
5. Your friend is also inaccurate in one of his details. Without doubt many believers have lived soberly, righteously and godly, "all down the centuries"; but, as a rule, they were not "looking for that blessed hope." For the hope of the Lord's return was lost in very early times; was almost, if not quite unknown in the Middle Ages; and even after the Reformation, was cherished only by a very few, until the second quarter of the nineteenth century. Nay, even in the earlier days of my own work, I had frequently to contend against the false idea that the conversion of the world and not the return of the Lord, is the great hope of the Church...
The reward which deceased believers will be found to have either won or lost is the First Resurrection, which involves membership in the Body of Christ and participation in His glorious millennial reign. Of this I have treated fully in The Church, The Churches, And The Mysteries, and briefly in Who Will Reign With Christ." ***End G.H. Pember's letter***
The reason for presenting this material is to silence the smoke screen put out by opponents to the "firstfruits" partial pre-trib rapture. Many of these have implied that such a view is "new" and never taught by anyone important. (First of all Jesus alone is important enough. However, is not this the same silly argument that post-trib and post-millennialists make about the pre-trib and pre-millennial doctrines in the first place?)
Govett, Fry, Pember, Panton, Seiss, Morgan, Taylor, Nee, etc. are mighty names in premillennial theology. If more of their writings were made known to Bible students, one would find that the "firstfruits" partial rapture fact would leave objectors with nothing more than emotional arguments.
Before concluding Pember's letter, I would like to address two Bible verses to those who believe all Christians will automatically get raptured and escape the Tribulation Period whether they "watch" in readiness or not:
Luke 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
James 4:2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
Now, I guess that there will not be a Christian teacher or preacher anywhere reading those two verses that will not be soon secretly praying to escape Antichrist's persecution of saints. Who are you trying to kid? You believe the Scripture in Luke 21:36 is only to Israel? Israel is not called until the Seals have begun to be broken! How could they watch and pray to escape "all these things"?
Scripture teaches a pre-trib rapture. But the same Scripture tells you as a Christian to pray for it. The only unconditional rapture that includes all believers, dead and alive, is found after the Tribulation, on the Day of the Lord, before God's wrath is poured out, (the same day), on the living wicked. At that time, "judgment begins at the house of God". It is the time for the Judgment Seat of Christ. (Rev.11:18)
The following is the conclusion of an unpublished letter by G.H. Pember in 1903:
*** "To turn now to Dr. McKilliam's remarks—when that writer declares the offering us of a Prize to be practically useless, is he not making himself wiser than God Who repeatedly calls our attention to it in His Word? Is he not advising us to reject that which even the Captain of our salvation needed in the days of His flesh: for was it not for the joy that was set before Him that He endured the cross, despising the shame, while He looked forward to the time when He should see the travail of His soul and be satisfied?
And, again, when Dr. McKilliam talks of danger lest the motive of Prize winning should outweigh that of love to the Lord, has he not altogether forgotten that the Prize itself is an earlier access to the gracious Presence of the Lord and, thenceforth a perpetual abiding near to His Person? "Those are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth" (Rev.14:4)
(4) And we may note, generally, that they which are with Him when He appears in glory have not only been "called", but were also "chosen" and "faithful" (Rev.17:14) "For many are called, but few chosen". (Matt.22:14) And yet, as we may see in Romans 8:30, those who are called are also justified, and ultimately glorified.
Thus, Dr. McKilliam has no direct argument from Scripture- - for there is none to be found on his side; and his unscriptural speculations are most dangerous, seeing that they disparage and undermine what the Great God Himself actually said. When we are tempted by such thoughts, we have need to remember, that "there is a way which seemeth right unto man, but the end thereof is death;" that the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and that what He sets before us must be the best, whether our wisdom deems it so or not.
That the Firstfruits will be marked off from the Church as a whole, is no teaching of mine; for it is not found in Scripture: it is a figure of straw which Dr. McKilliam has set up, and therefore, can easily be knocked down. The Firstfruits will be "marked off" only from those unwatchful believers who will be living upon the earth at the moment when the watching and ready saints are called away. And the sole privilege which the latter will, necessarily, gain is an exemption from the Great Tribulation, a trouble to which the blessed dead will not be exposed...
...but how does that fact prove that God will not complete the sanctification of some members of the Church in the cleansing fires of the Great Tribulation? How can it contradict those Scriptures which plainly tell us that He will do so; and will, therefore remove His Church from the earth in two companies, and at different times, the Great Tribulation occupying the interval between those times!
These last are the main points which I have urged; and if, Dr. McKilliam would oppose my conclusion, it is incumbent upon him to face them fairly and prove that they are not to be found in Scripture. But in the extract which you kindly sent me he does not attempt to do this, but altogether evades the question at issue.
For, so far as I can see, all that he does is to give reasons from his own wisdom against what I have adduced from Scripture, and to attribute to me both directly and by insinuation things which I have not written and do not believe. This last fact would seem to indicate that he has not read my books, or, at least has not done so with sufficient care; and has hurled himself against what is to him a new interpretation without a clear comprehension of its scope and limits. But, although in regard to prophetic interpretation I am inclined to agree with one of Dr. McKilliam's friends, that his heart is better than his head, he is, nevertheless, an excellent and valuable worker in the Lord's vineyard...
... I will endeavour to let you know when my forthcoming volumes are sent to the press, but the illness of last winter and spring, and some troublesome matters have much impeded me... Even Yours in the Lord,