The 2015 Pre-Trib Study Group Conference
Dr. Thomas Ice
The 2015 Pre-Trib Study Group Conference entitled “The Promise of Israel’s Glorious Future” was our 24th conference, which focused primarily on Israel issues and premillennialism. Our meeting took place at the Sheraton Grand Hotel near the Dallas/Fort Worth airport. This year’s banquet speaker was Jewish Believer Joel Rosenberg, the famous best-selling author of both fiction and non-fiction prophecy books. We had a larger turnout than last year and many experienced a splendid time of fellowship. Here is an overview of what took place at the conference.
Dr. Thomas Ice opened the conference by welcoming all to the conference and had the members introduce themselves, their ministry and where they were from. Dr. Tim LaHaye gave a brief presentation of he and Dr. Ed Hindson’s new book entitled: “Target Israel: Caught in the Crosshairs of the End Times.” LaHaye noted the contemporary onslaught that the modern state of Israel is constantly under by friend and foes alike. Ice followed up by presenting Hindson’s PowerPoint presentation about the subject since Hindson had to cancelled his attendance because of illness. This presentation set the stage for our focus on Israel’s destiny as noted in Bible Prophecy.
Monday mornings second presentation was delivered by Dr. Jim Showers, president and executive director of The Friends of Israel Ministry on “The Eroding Evangelical Christian Support for Israel: The Cause and Cure.” Showers was aided in writing his paper by fellow ministry partner Christopher J. Katulka. Showers documented the clear decline among American believers from the “millennial” generation in their support for modern Israel and their increasing tendency to becoming pro-Palestinian on this matter. While overall support for Israel remains strong among evangelicals, there is a definite trend toward decline among younger Christians. Showers also included a significant section on what believers can do to help slow the decline in support for Israel.
The first Monday afternoon paper was presented by Dr. Mike Vlach, the Associate Professor of Theology at The Master’s Seminary on “The Relationship of Israel’s Belief to the Kingdom of God.” Vlach demonstrated that there is not a current, spiritual form of the Davidic Kingdom, as many try to argue. He also made the case from the Bible that Israel had to repent and accept Jesus as their Messiah in order for the Promised Kingdom to arrive. This condition will be accomplished at the second coming after the nation of Israel as a whole has repented of their rejection of Jesus as their Messiah. Vlach noted that the kingdom was reoffered to Israel in Acts 3 upon the condition that Jesus be accepted as their Messiah.
Monday’s final paper was delivered by Dr. Greg Harris, who is also at The Master’s Seminary as a Professor of Bible Exposition, entitled “Did God Fulfill Every Good Promise? Toward a Biblical Understanding of Joshua 21:43–45.” In this paper Harris dealt with the argument put forth by some replacement theologians that God finished His plan with Israel because He gave them all the land. The point in the passage is that God fulfilled His promise to Israel at that point in history, but it is certainly wrong to think that God was finished with the nation of Israel that early in their history. Nevertheless, this is an argument that some use to support their false notion that God was finished with the nation of Israel in the past and they have no national future.
The Monday evening banquet was an exciting and entertaining time for all attending. Music for the evening was provided by Dave Walser and his wife from Dallas, Texas. Dr. Ice served as the master of ceremonies as we recognized some past members who have gone to be with the Lord and received a couple of free books from Harvest House Publishers and Tyndale Press.
Joel Rosenberg was our keynote speaker for the evening. He spoke some about the move that he and his family made to Jerusalem, Israel last summer and what it was like living in Israel and the adjustments that they were making. Rosenberg has four boys. He spoke about how two were getting ready to enter the Israel Defense Force and perform their duty for their new country. Rosenberg mainly talked about how even though the Jews were and still are God’s chosen people and the fact that the Bible has mapped out in detail their prophetic future, the Gentiles in Israel and the Middle East also need Christ as their Saviour, even the Muslims. He noted that even though the Bible’s focus for the last days is on Israel that we need to realize that Christ died for Muslims and Arabs as well and we should show kindness to them and we should especially do all we can to reach all these peoples with the Good News of the Gospel.
Tuesday morning began with an excellent devotional message from Dr. Mark Hitchcock, a leading prophecy author and pastor of Faith Bible Church in Edmond, OK on Revelation 2:1–7, entitled “Having Everything but the Greatest Thing.” Hitchcock spoke of not losing our first love of Christ as the Ephesian church is noted for doing.
The first presenter on Tuesday morning was Dr. Mike Stallard, of Baptist Bible Seminary in Clarks Summit, PA where he is Dean of the Seminary, Professor of Systematic Theology, and Director of the Ph.D. program. In a defense of Premillennialism, he presented a paper entitled, “A Response to the Amillennial Arguments of Sam Storms’ Kingdom Come”. Stallard interacted with one of the more recent challenges to Premillennialism by pointing out and demonstrating the weaknesses and errors of Amillennialism. He noted that this version of Amillennialism in general does not have a true exegetical or theological base of support. It is the product of reactions to the clear teaching of Premillennialism as taught in the Bible.
Dr. H. Wayne House followed Stallard and spoke on “An Evaluation of the Hermeneutics of Historic Premillennialism.” He pointed out that historic Premillennialism, as opposed to dispensational Premillennialism, does not practice a consistently literal hermeneutic. Historic Premillennialism instead practices a grammatical-historical, theological hermeneutic in which they bring in the theological belief of covenant theology that leads to removing Israel’s place in history and the millennium. Too often, historic Premillennialists advocate, at least to some degree, a form of replacement theology that exalts the church as having permanently replaced the role of national Israel in God’s plan. Some forms of historical Premillennialism are just a step away from Amillennialism.
Dr. Andy Woods, pastor at Sugar Land Bible Church and professor at the College of Biblical Studies in Houston, Texas spoke on “The Doctrine of the Millennial Kingdom in the Old Testament.” Woods, like Vlach, argued that there is currently no spiritual form of the Kingdom; that is the Davidic Kingdom, present during the church age. The Kingdom will only arrive at the second coming when Jesus returns to planet earth to reign and rule for a thousand years from Jerusalem. He showed that the kingdom in the Old Testament is the same thing as the Millennium in Revelation 20. Woods went to provide a fairly detailed description of what life will be like during this time of Christ’s rule on earth. Even though it will be a time of physical blessing, it will also be a time of great spirituality and blessings upon mankind, a time of great righteousness and justice, and a time of Christ Himself dwelling with humanity on earth.
Our final Tuesday speaker was Andrew Robinson, a pastor of Hazel Grove Full Gospel Church in Stockport, England who presented a paper entitled, “Comfort My People: 19th Century British Evangelicalism and the Restoration of Israel.” He dealt with the rise of pro-Israel sentiment within British evangelicalism beginning with the 1600s but mainly focusing on the 1800s when such views were very common in Great Britain. Not only were dispensationalists great lovers of Zion, during the nineteenth century, but a great number of evangelicals within the Church of England. This propelled the nation as a whole to desire a restoration of the Jews back to their homeland in Israel. This momentum carried over into the twentieth century and provided support to Britain as she defeated the Turks in World War I making it possible for Israel to become a nation again in 1948. Biblical Christianity in England formed and shaped the politics of the early twentieth century on this matter.
We had our traditional Tuesday evening session dealing with current events and Bible prophecy. The two presenters were Wilfred Hahn an international banker from Canada and director of Eternal Value ministry (www.eternalvalue.com) and Bill Koenig a mainstay at our conference who is a White House correspondent and head of World Watch International news agency (www.watch.org). Hahn focused on the economic impact on the world of a growing Chinese economy and military. He noted that it is doubtful that China is specifically mentioned in end-time Bible prophecy, but they are currently are having a huge impact on the global economy. Koenig, as usual, provided an insightful update on what is going on in Washington and Israel, as he reviewed the year of event after event that took place in 2015 that are setting the stage for a post rapture world. It is breathtaking to realize how much the Obama administration has withdrawn any leadership in the world and the distance it has put between them and the Israeli government. America, at the administrative level is truly abandoning Israel.
On Wednesday morning, Dr. William Watson, Professor of History at Colorado Christian University who presented a paper entitled, “The Rise of Philo-Semitism and Premillennialism During the 17th and 18th Centuries.” Watson has also just released a new book that took many years of research entitled, Dispensationalism Before Darby: Seventeenth-Century and Eighteenth-Century English Apocalypticism. (A copy can be purchased at the link in the endnote.) He showed that in post-Reformation England the study of Bible prophecy was very extensive and most of those writing on these topics began to see a future for Israel as a nation in Bible prophecy.
The final speaker at the conference was Dr. Paul Wilkinson a British scholar from the Manchester, England area presented a talk entitled, “Israel Betrayed: Christian Palestinianism’s Crusade Against Premillennial Truth.” He documented the unbiblical position of so-called “Christian Palestinian” support for the anti-Israel propaganda and their rejection of the biblical position, even though they claim to be Christians. In essence they practice a form of liberalism, often employing various forms of liberation theology in order to support their versions of replacement theology. Wilkinson also provided rebuttals to this misguided approach to God’s Word.
One can download a form to purchase a MP3 audio CD or DVD videos of the entire conference on the front page of our Pre-Trib website (www.pre-trib.org). Next year’s conference is scheduled for the Dallas/Fort Worth area at the same Sheraton hotel, December 5–7, 2016, unless the rapture occurs first. Next year will be our twenty-fifth annual conference. We expect this to be an eventful conference. Why don’t you start making plans now to join us? Maranatha!
 Vlach’s website: http://www.tms.edu/FacultyIntroduction.aspx?FacultyID=23His paper is at http://www.pre-trib.org/data/pdf/Vlach-TheRelationshipbetwe.pdf.
 Harris’ websites: https://legacy.tms.edu/FacultyIntroduction.aspx?FacultyID=14 and http://www.lakehillscommunity.org/site/default.asp?sec_id=180002318. His paper is at http://www.pre-trib.org/data/pdf/Harris-DidGodFulfillEveryGo.pdf
 Rosenberg’s website: http://www.joelrosenberg.com. No paper was presented.
 Hitchcock’s website: www.edmondfaithbible.com. No paper was presented.
 Wood’s website: www.spiritandtruth.org. Wood’s paper is at http://www.pre-trib.org/data/pdf/Woods-TheDoctrineoftheMill.pdf.
 Robinson does not have a website. His paper is at http://www.pre-trib.org/data/pdf/2015-conference/08-Robinson-Comfort-My-People.pdf.
 Dr. Watson does not have a website. His paper is at http://www.pre-trib.org/data/pdf/Watson-TheRiseofPhiloSemiti.pdf.
 His book can be purchased at http://www.amazon.com/Dispensationalism-Before-Darby-William-Watson/dp/1942614039/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1452225991&sr=1-1&keywords=dispensationalism+before+darby.
 Dr. Wilkinson does not have a website. His presentation is at http://www.pre-trib.org/data/pdf/2015-conference/10-Wilkinson-Israel-Betrayed.pptx.pdf