Welcome to Looking Up

The name of this blog is taken from Luke 21:28 where Jesus says: “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

NAR Purposes vs. Jesus’ Purposes

In February 2019 a huge event was held in Orlando that attracted 50,000 young people.  It was birthed by one of the so-called apostles and prophets of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and included many leaders of that movement.  There was high energy and determination; there were encouraging declarations; there were many prayers and expectations.  It was all for the Great Commission “to catalyze every believer into a lifestyle of Christ-like action,” but the question is: Was there any fruit?  Why or why not?

The event was called The Send.  Its purpose was to initiate a worldwide revival to bring all people everywhere under the umbrella of the church and the authority of Jesus Christ.  On the surface, it looks so good.  Who could argue with the premise that we should evangelize the nations to bring them to Christ?

Unfortunately, there are a few problems.

Undoubtedly, some number of the youth assembled in the Orlando stadium were unsaved, probably also unchurched.  Doubtless, many who attended were born again.  Saved or not, that doesn’t necessarily make a difference as to whether or not they were deceived.

What could possibly be wrong with what went on at this all-day rally for Jesus?  If we’re rah-rah! for Jesus, isn’t that all we need?

The answer is no.  We also need true, Biblical doctrine behind whatever we do.  We need knowledge and understanding.  Lacking that, we go in ignorance and error.

The main thrust of The Send was to energize these masses with the mission of Matthew 28:19 to go into all the nations.  However, what will these young people go with?  For what purpose?

These youth were exhorted to win the world for Christ, to heal the sick, and to emphasize the move of the Holy Spirit in their efforts.  Again, who can argue against that?

I for one.

During the entire day, from what I’ve seen, not one of the leaders on stage proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ as being about redemption from sin; that it requires repentance, surrender, salvation, the Lordship of Christ, and the hope of His resurrection.  Nor did they happen to urge those listening to read the entire Word of God and to believe it.  Worse, they proclaimed a future entirely devoid of what Scripture declares will occur in this world, and is currently happening.  No one told these youth that if they go out in the Name of Jesus, there is a high likelihood they will be persecuted.  No one told them that Jesus is returning soon, because the leaders of The Send don’t believe that He is.

The Send promoted evangelism, but did so without a Biblical foundation.  These young people were told to go out and win people to Christ in the absence of helping them to truly acknowledge and confess their sin so they could lay it down at the foot of the cross.  If those who heard the words of the “apostles” and “prophets” on the stage didn’t get that message, how could they convey it to others?

The entire event was based on feelings; the crowd was effectively told to seek the experience of healing for themselves and others and through that many would come to Jesus.

When they were told that God was doing a new thing in the earth and that through them, the whole world would turn to Jesus, they believed a lie.  The world is on a downward trajectory.  It is moving increasingly toward lawlessness, disobedience, and rebellion.  All we have to do is read the Bible and believe it, not to inject our own wishes and desires onto Scripture.  It is not our work that will bring the return of Jesus, it is God’s doing alone.  The promotors of this event believe that Christians must bring the world into submission to Christ.  Why?  Because they’ve had “new revelation” from God.

The reality—what the Bible says—is that soon the Church of Jesus Christ will be Raptured.  There will be a 7-year Tribulation.  After that, Jesus will rule and reign on the earth for 1,000 years.  In all this, God is in charge.  He will make it happen exactly as foretold in Scripture.  For the promoters of The Send to tell these youth that it’s their efforts that lures Jesus back and brings peace on the earth is a satanic lie.

Jesus had a few things to say to His disciples before He was crucified.  Typically, we say that someone’s last words are important.  In that respect, what Jesus instructed in those final hours should guide us as well as them.

In John 13-17 we have significant detail about the last supper; what Jesus said and did.  In this space we can’t cover everything completely, but let’s quickly look at a few of them.

Jesus washed His disciples’ feet.  They were to serve others as He did.

Jesus told them to abide in Him and to do so by keeping His commandments.  They were to live their lives for God and His kingdom, not for the world.  Yes, the disciples could ask the Father for good fruit (such as healing) as a witness, but to simply go out in the name of healing without the Gospel wasn’t something Jesus taught.

Jesus gave them the Great Commandment to love God by loving others (Matthew 22:37-38).  Because they were no longer servants, the disciples were actually friends of Jesus.  Because of that, they could bear good fruit in His Name.

Jesus warned the disciples that many would hate them because they came in His Name.  Through that hate, the disciples would face much persecution, but Jesus would be with them always.  Indeed, they would have tribulation, but through Jesus the disciples could persevere because He has overcome the world.

Through the Holy Spirit, the world would be convicted of sin, righteousness, and judgment.  In all this, Jesus would be glorified and made known.

As the disciples went into the world, their purpose was to declare Jesus’ Name to the glory of God Almighty.  The disciples would make other disciples.  The Word would be preached, and the love of the Father would go forth.

Because the disciples had been with Jesus for three and a half years, they had the foundation by which to go out into the world.  They would win many to Christ, but time was short.  As He had previously instructed, difficult times would come and many would fall away.  He never conveyed the message that His disciples could clean up the world and make it righteous so as to hand it to Him on a silver platter when He returned.

This is the belief of the NAR folks.  They believe in Dominionism; that the dominion of Christ in the world will be accomplished through their doing.  The Kingdom Now is what they seek to bring about.  The end they proclaim is absolutely contrary to what God declares is coming soon.  We don’t have new revelation and a new reformation as the name of their movement implies.

The deception of NAR propagated through events like The Send is a tragedy.  It sends forth ignorant young people who don’t know the Word of God.  It attempts to win others to Jesus through a healing ministry that lacks the Gospel of sin and repentance.  It emphasizes experience and feeling rather than the Word of God.

We need to pray that these enthusiastic disciples who are going forth as a result of The Send will come to know the real Jesus, the real Gospel, and that they will go into the world preaching righteousness and holiness.  In that, they will truly see good works: healings and other miracles.  More importantly, they’ll see salvation in Christ alone.  They’ll likely also experience persecution and suffering.

To go out unprepared, perhaps even unsaved?  This is a recipe for failure.

Jesus Glorified – How Does That Work?

In church on a recent Sunday our pastor gave us a good reminder.  He emphasized the dual nature of Jesus: fully God and fully man—what is called the hypostatic union—which is completely incomprehensible to us.  We can understand half of one and half of the other, but 100% of both?  Does that make sense in a world of mathematical logic?

Nevertheless, the Bible teaches us that Jesus was just that.  It’s what makes Him qualified to be our Savior.  Only a man could be punished for the sin of mankind; only God could have conceived of this incredible sacrifice and done it in the first place.  All this got me to thinking…

It’s the human side of Jesus that I want to briefly discuss in this essay starting with Acts 7:54-56 which sets the stage:

Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

We all know this well.  Stephen has raised the ire of the Jews by his witness of Jesus.  They’re so convicted they can’t stand it and rush at him in a mad frenzy, stoning him to death.  At the moment before his life here on earth extinguishes, Stephen has the incredible sight of Jesus, as a man, standing in heaven beside the Father and welcoming him home.

The favorite term Jesus used for Himself was Son of Man.  No doubt the purpose was to drive home this aspect of his nature: 100% Son of God; 100% Son of Man.  Jesus entered this world as a human being, born of a virgin.  He lived as a human, and He died on the cross as a human.  Then He rose as a human and as a glorified man stood at the right hand of God as God.  During His sojourn on earth as a man, He was also fully God.  Mind blowing.

As a man, He was composed of flesh, bones, and blood.  He shed His blood on the cross in atoning for our sins.  Life is in the blood (Leviticus 17:13).  Jesus had to have the blood of a man to sacrifice and atone for us as He did.

Interestingly, after Jesus rose and appeared the first time to the disciples, Thomas wasn’t present.  Despite an earlier declaration of faith that he would die with Jesus (John 11:16), this time he doubts.  He won’t believe until he himself sees the risen Jesus.  Jesus does Thomas one better by appearing again and urging him to touch the nail holes in His hands and put his hands into the gaping spear wound in His side.  Then Thomas believes.

But look at this: Jesus has these holes in His body.  If you’ve ever been around someone with serious wounds, you know how carefully doctors treat them today.  With large wounds, because they don’t heal easily, they often use a wound vac to pull out the moisture.  It’s a long process.  Infection can easily set in.  Yet here was Jesus with these wounds and no such aftereffects.  He has a big hole in His side, but no evidence of blood or weeping in the wound, let alone any issues with the robustness of Jesus.

Why is this?  The reason is that He has been glorified.  His body has changed from one with flesh, bones, and blood.  But to what?  Here’s the key question for me: Does Jesus in this glorified state still have blood?

I propose that He did not and does not.  Remember, His body now is of a spiritual nature.  Do angels have blood?  I think blood is a unique characteristic of life on earth, but it’s not in the heavenlies.

If that premise is true, what does that mean about Jesus once He became glorified?  What does that mean for us as believers who are Raptured and are changed in an instant?  At that moment, the Bible says we will be like Jesus (1 John 3:2).  The analogy is of the transformation of a seed that dies in the ground and becomes something entirely new.

If Jesus no longer has blood flowing through His veins, does He have anything like that in His glorified body?  Is there something that brings life?  What if He indeed has something that animates Him in this spiritual, yet somehow human, state,?  If it’s not blood, what is it?  I suggest that it’s the living Spirit of God.

The Holy Spirit at our salvation comes to live inside each believer.  That’s an amazing mystery in itself.  The Spirit in the Bible is described as living water.  What if at the point of our glorification when we become spiritual beings like Jesus, that it is this living water, this Spirit of the living God, which now flows through our veins?

Wouldn’t that explain a lot of the mystery?  Jesus has no blood, yet he is flesh and bone.  He is alive and transformed into something beyond our ability to comprehend.  We will be like Him.  We will likewise be flesh and bone.  But something has to animate us to give us life.

In Ezekiel’s Valley of Dry Bones (Ezekiel 37), what happened?  The bones came together with flesh, but they had no life.  Only when the Spirit of the living God came upon them and in them did they have life.

If this hypothesis is correct that we are filled with the Holy Spirit literally as our lifeblood when we’re glorified, this has another future ramification.  The question is asked, “What will keep man—even in a glorified state—from choosing to sin in the future and rebel against God?  If the Holy Spirit is within us as our very lifeblood, wouldn’t that reduce, if not eliminate, any inclination on our part to disobey God (besides, of course, a voluntary and overwhelming desire to completely please God)?

Obviously, none of what I suggest can be proven at this time.  We’ll have to wait for when we come face-to-face with our Lord and Savior to understand this mystery more fully, when we become what we shall be.  However, the idea makes more real what is sung in the song “No Longer Slaves” when it says:

… You have chosen me

Love has called my name

I’ve been born again, into a family

Your blood flows through my veins.

Whom Will God Rapture? – The Philadelphia Church

Have you ever heard someone say, “God is a gentleman; He would never force someone into heaven who doesn’t want to go?”  If that’s true, and many of us believe it is, then why do we insist that God will force Christians (i.e. those who are truly saved versus those who simply consider themselves Christians), who don’t believe in the Rapture, in fact, who, may actually mock it, to go to heaven at that time when Jesus comes in the clouds to snatch away His church?  Doesn’t that go against this truism that everyone believes?

I’ve recently been exploring this question of Whom Will God Rapture? in a series of articles.  It’s controversial.  I’ve had people write dumping various Scriptures on me, even some contesting that there is a Rapture.  In these various responses, no one has shown me any Bible passages that conclusively demonstrate that salvation equals Rapture.

As I’ve tried to make clear, the way my thinking has moved is that I think someone can be saved, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be Raptured.  Where does the Biblical text say that?  Actually, there are a number of parables that argue against that possibility.  I discussed that when I examined the Parable of the Virgins.  There are others.  Today I want to examine Jesus’ own words to the seven churches in Revelation.

Before I do that, however, let me simply make two observations.  In the Exodus, every Israelite was told and knew that they must apply the blood of the lamb on their doorposts in order to escape the avenging angel when it passed over.  Do you think all did?  Or might there have been some Israelites who scoffed at that?  What would have happened to those mockers?  Without the blood, they would have lost their firstborn.  Surely, this happened given human nature with its unbelief.  They still joined in the Exodus, but they paid the price in great tears for not adhering to the Word of the Lord.

We know that in the Tribulation, which has as its primary purpose the salvation of the Jews, many in Israel will not turn to Jesus as Messiah.  Zechariah 13:8-9 says:

In the whole land, declares the Lord,

    two thirds shall be cut off and perish,

    and one third shall be left alive.

And I will put this third into the fire,

    and refine them as one refines silver,

    and test them as gold is tested.

They will call upon my name,

    and I will answer them.

I will say, ‘They are my people’;

    and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”

We might look at this as a salvation issue; however, couldn’t we also consider it from a Rapture-like perspective?  One-third of the Jews will be saved, i.e. Raptured into the Millennium.  The other two-thirds, those who didn’t believe, those who mocked, are left behind, in this case, to suffer death.  It’s not a perfect analogy, but I think it has some analogous potential.

With that introduction, let’s turn to the churches in Revelation.  Many commentators agree that these churches represent not only the original, actual churches but also potentially seven eras of church history, and a foreshadowing of seven types of churches that may apply today to individual believers.  First let’s look at the Philadelphia church in Revelation 3:7-13, the one most closely aligned with the Rapture.  To save a little space in this post, I’ll summarize what Jesus says to them and to the other churches as we examine their situations.

To Philadelphia, Jesus knows their faith, how they’ve kept His Word, and haven’t denied God.  They have little strength, yet they persist in belief with patient endurance against those who came against them.  Jesus promised, to this church alone, that He would keep them from the wrath to come.

We’ll go to the end with the Laodicean church in Revelation 3:14-22.  They say they’re rich.  Indeed, they’ve prospered and need nothing.  But they’re actually wretched, poor, blind, and naked.  Jesus commands them to buy gold refined by fire and to wear white garments so as to clothe themselves in His holiness.  He urges them to buy eye salve.  Why?  So that their eyes might be anointed and opened.  He loves them, but will reprove and discipline them.  Jesus stands at the door and knocks, but what happens to those who don’t answer and get right with Him?

Sardis in Revelation 3:1-6 has a reputation for being alive, but they are actually dead.  Their works aren’t complete.  If they don’t wake up, Jesus will come like a thief in the night against them.

The church of Thyatira in Revelation 2:18-29 has done many good works, but they’ve entertained and tolerated serious immorality.  They eat foods sacrificed to idols.  If they don’t repent, Jesus will throw them into the sickbed of tribulation, even strike their children dead.  Only a few don’t hold to this church’s heretical teachings and gain Jesus’ approval.

In Pergamum in Revelation 2:12-17 Jesus declares that He will war against them with the sword of His mouth, that is, with the Word of God because of their heresies and idol worship.

Suffering Smyrna in Revelation 2:8-11 is the only church besides Philadelphia not to receive condemnation and the threat of consequences for their actions.  They have suffered much persecution and tribulation; thus, they will receive the crown of life.

Finally, Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-7 has abandoned its first love, i.e. Jesus and all He represents.  If they don’t repent, He will remove their lampstand.  The lampstand symbolically represents the church itself as Revelation 1:20 notes.  This church will completely lose its status as a church without repentance.

What’s the application of these churches to today?  The churches of Philadelphia and Smyrna are those which love God, His Word, and are faithful without condemnation and without consequences for their sin.  They are what I would describe as the true church.  Those in Philadelphia eagerly anticipate Christ as their blessed hope.  These are believers who look up and desire the soon return of Jesus.  Smyrna are those in countries that severely punish believers in Jesus Christ, yet hold firmly to Him despite persecution and death.  Their tribulation and faithful endurance keep them firmly in Christ’s grasp.  They, like the Philadelphia believers, will be Raptured; I don’t think there is any doubt about their meeting with Jesus in the clouds when He comes.

Here’s a point, however, I’d like you to consider.  Do you believe that every believer today fits the profile of the Philadelphia church?  I certainly don’t.  A remnant, holding on for dear life while faithfully keeping God’s Word?  Don’t many believers—be honest now—actually look more like the description of the condemned churches?  If this is true, then what about the promise of keeping them from the wrath to come?  It only applies to Philadelphia (and, I argue, Smyrna).  Every other church, i.e. effectively those who look like those other churches in the practice of their faith, aren’t promised delivery from God’s wrath.  The Bible simply never says that.

Believers (once again I stress these are saved) who fit the profile of the other five churches are the ones I believe are at risk of missing the Rapture and going into the Tribulation.  Each of these church types has serious issues in the eyes of God.  He warns each one of them that unless they get their act together and their heart right with Him, there are consequences.

Laodicean believers: Jesus will reprove and discipline.

Sardis: He will come like a thief in the night.  Where have we heard that before?  1 Thessalonians 5:2:

For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.

Matthew 24:43:

But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into.

2 Peter 3:10:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

The Rapture will be an absolute surprise to Sardis-type believers.  When the thief comes, it’s never a good thing.

Thyatira: This is highly representative of the Catholic church.  Think about Mary idolatry.  Think about the Eucharist, i.e. eating foods sacrificed to idols.  What is the sickbed of tribulation if not THE Tribulation?

Pergamum: They earn Jesus’ wrath to the extent that He wars against them with His Word.

Ephesus: The threat is loss of church status.

All these churches are types and shadows of Christians today in various stages of apostasy or heretical belief against God’s clear Word that Jesus will return prior to the 2nd coming for those who desire Him to return.  How many of these other church type believers want Jesus to Rapture them?  Most don’t believe in the Rapture, many think it is the same as the 2nd coming, thus not anything that pertains to them, or they actually mock those of us who eagerly anticipate being airlifted from this lost and dying world.

Is the Rapture escapism?  Sure, why not?  Why would any believer not want the Rapture unless he loves the world more than Christ?  In that case, why wouldn’t Jesus allow this believer to experience what the world really is, a place of lawlessness and unbelief?  Doesn’t Jesus want His church to be purified as silver and gold?  Doesn’t He want His bride to actually want to be with Him?

Here’s Isaiah 30:19-20:

For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher.

God does not hesitate to give His children affliction and adversity if they need it in order to truly turn their hearts to Him.  The Bible teaches that great apostasy comes in the last days.  We are seeing that.  Churches are dropping like flies into the ointment of false teachings.  Too many believers are having their itching ears satisfied with unbiblical doctrine.  This world is their best life now.  The church will Christianize the whole world and hand Jesus this marvelous present when He returns.  If we don’t enforce social justice or care of the environment, we’re not living for God.  Not, and double not.

Nobody, except a few today, want Jesus to come soon.  Somebody, please tell me—reason with me from the Scriptures; don’t just throw verses at me—why Jesus won’t give these believers exactly what they desire?  And what is it they want?  To stay in this world when the rest of us depart because their eyes are on that which is here around them; not on Jesus Himself.

Martyrdom & NAR

Because of the ten years I’ve been associated as a volunteer with Voice of the Martyrs (VOM), I’ve gotten a perspective of the church and of Jesus Christ that, frankly, few Christians are privileged to witness.  In this time, I’ve read the classic book by Richard Wurmbrand, Tortured For Christ, a couple of times and his more in-depth narrative titled In God’s Underground.  I’ve gone through Jesus Freaks multiple times as a devotional, along with Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, and read a number of other books recounting the lives of those who faithfully followed Jesus through persecution and suffering.  Additionally, I’ve studied Islam to better understand its ways and how it is so aberrant in its theology.  VOM has many regional conferences around the country every year, and I’ve gone to most of those in my area.  At these events I’ve heard the stories of those who have experienced much mistreatment at the hands of those who hate Christ and met some of them.  All this has had a profound impact on my faith.

In these years I’ve had the opportunity to bring some of the VOM story to various groups of Christians, including church congregations.  Inevitably there are a very few who are touched by these accounts of martyrs for the faith.  For the most part, however, the vast majority of those who listen would rather not hear.  The incidents of torture and severe maiming are too much for them—too graphic.  Others are seemingly not touched at all.  It’s like the proverbial water rolling off a duck’s back.  Some people will give money to the cause because they care; some—forgive my cynicism—perhaps because they want it to go away, and by donating they assuage their conscience.

I finally had the opportunity to watch the movie of Tortured For Christ that VOM recently released.  Other than the heartrending scenes of evil and grace, none of it surprised me since I’ve been immersed in the environment for years.  What watching it did do is make me come away thinking of my recent studies.

I’ve spent some time lately examining NAR and its beliefs.  The New Apostolic Reformation, along with its brothers, Dominionism and Kingdom Now theology all have a preterist and mainly a-millennial mindset.  Beyond that, they tend to be hyper-charismatic.

I have a Pentecostal view of the times in which we live.  I believe the gifts we see operative in the Book of Acts are very much alive today.  In fact, it floors me that people think they ceased at the end of the first century with the death of the Apostles.  The truth is that we need those gifts today more than ever to witness to the power and authority of Jesus Christ in order to combat the very active powers of darkness around the world.  If you’ve spent any time reading about or listening to the miraculous conversion stories in Muslim nations, you know what I’m saying.  (Read Tom Doyle’s Dreams and Visions, if you want an inside view of this). Jesus today still appears in dreams and visions.  God heals those who are dying.  He shows up where Allah is silent.  Our God, our Savior, is a God who cares and moves in the midst of the most difficult of circumstances.

All that said, hyper-charismania is off the charts for me.  As far as I’m concerned, the purpose of these gifts of the Spirit is to point people toward Christ and to draw them into His kingdom, not to glorify our experiences and feelings.

When I see the foolishness of the NAR “apostles” and “prophets” (that’s another issue; don’t get me started on that) as to how they operate, it blows me away that people are so drawn in and deceived.  I recently viewed a video of a service at Bethel (one of my favorite whipping boys) where the preacher spoke of the gold dust of heaven.  Lo and behold!  Out of the heating ducts, gold dust blew around for a while awing the congregation with the wonder of God that He would do something so incredible.  Bill Johnson subsequently came out and spoke.  For him this was so commonplace that he basically ignored the remaining particles that floated down.  All I can say is: “Is this the best that God can do?”

But no!  Other Bethel videos show devotees being slain by the spirit.  Similar to what happened at the Toronto Blessing, they roll around, do somersaults, and bark like dogs.  Oh yes, God is so glorified I want to retch.  Why lower case “s” for spirit in this instance?  Well, what spirit is this?  Then the participants are urged to call down angels: “Come down!  Come angels, come!”  I keep looking in vain in the Bible for these examples of true Christianity.  Since when do we command God what to do?

The comparison of these who claim that God is moving in their midst set against the backdrop of those who are tortured for Christ is stark.  God will not be mocked.  There are, no doubt, many serious people seeking the Lord who have been deceived by this faux strain of faith.  Are there some actual healings and utterances of prophetic words?  Yes.  Satan allows the mixing so as to claim a mantle of truth.  Tares with the wheat.  But look at how far from a deep understanding of what God actually desires for His people these teachings lead.

Does gold dust point to Jesus?  Is my heart posture enhanced when I bark and roll like a crazy man?  One of NAR’s female prophets speaks while shaking her head back and forth so fast that it gives me a headache just seeing it.  Oh yes, she also kicks off her shoes for added effect.  Where, oh where, are Isaiah and Jeremiah?  I’ll bet they’d have something to say about all this.

God wants a people who love Him and love others.  It’s evident in the way He sustains those who endure for Him.  It’s this witness that grows the church and makes serious disciples.  All this other stuff is distraction and one more piece of evidence that the hour is late.  Our Savior is coming soon.

Marijuana & This Present Darkness

For those of you who have read This Present Darkness, you may have seen what author Frank Peretti wrote about so vividly enter your own communities.  The novel depicts the town of Ashton that has been targeted by dark forces that intend total domination.  It portrays spiritual, geographical, territorial entities that control this community combatted by a weakened heavenly host.  Why do the angels on the side of God have little power?  Because His people have little prayer.

If you’re paying attention to the premise of the novel, these powers and authorities that overshadow this small town correspond to what I’ve previously written about on this website, namely the Deuteronomy 32 worldview.  In this understanding of the fallout of Genesis 11 that depicts the Tower of Babel incident, God got fed up with man’s rebellion and disobedience.  In this case, He had instructed them through Noah to complete what He had commanded in the Garden of Eden: “go forth, subdue, rule the earth, and multiply.”  Instead, the people of that time decided they had a better idea, i.e. gather together on the plains of Shinar and build a tower with the intent of bringing God down to them under their control.

As a result, in Deuteronomy 32:8, we see what God did in response:

When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance,

    when he divided mankind,

he fixed the borders of the peoples

    according to the number of the sons of God.

He placed His divine sons over the nations to rule them in His place.  At that time, He then called forth Israel to be His Chosen People.  Verse 9 continues and tells us this:

But the Lord’s portion is his people,

    Jacob his allotted heritage.

In the very next chapter, God calls Abram.  All other nations essentially become the place of outer darkness and chaos because of what happens next that we see in Psalm 82.  The sons of God rebel.  They disobey His commands and His way of justice and love in order that they might gain power and rule in their Father’s place.  He judges them severely, but that’s another story.

This is the scenario in which This Present Darkness operates.

In a couple of other posts, I’ve outlined the spiritual battle that we’ve been fighting in our community.  Out city council thought it was a good idea to bring the sale of recreational marijuana into town simply because it’s legal in our state.  Never mind that nearby communities have rejected that notion because of the negative consequences.  Our council members wanted the people of our town to be guinea pigs.

After several weeks of delays in the vote, that we who were opposed to this chose to see as God’s sovereign hand working in our favor rather than simply the enemy’s strategy to weaken our resolve, the council finally met and voted.  Our church was the only one in the community that brought any number of people to the fight.  Several other individuals from a couple of other churches showed up in support against the resolution, but it was the twenty-some people from our church that carried the day for the victory that is God’s alone.

Many of us spoke in opposition with various viewpoints: how marijuana is implicitly linked to schizophrenia, violent crime, suicide, potential loss of employment due to workplace restrictions, the erosion of quality of life in the community, personal past histories including incarceration and dissipated lifestyles.  The witness and testimony were overwhelming and persuasive.

In the end, the vote taken resulted in a 4-3 victory for God’s warriors.  The first three council members who voted were adamant in their support of selling marijuana at a local downtown storefront.  They were all in, determined to follow their father’s evil ways regardless that there was no rational benefit, not even financial.  Then the tide turned.  Two voted against.  The third was the one that caused us to hold our breath because this person had previously given every indication of voting in support of the resolution.  Instead, it was a no.  That, plus the final vote of the mayor turned back the enemy.

It was very close.  We got a reprieve.  Our community is not yet Ashton from This Present Darkness.  But Satan and his minions are hovering, regrouping, planning their next assault.

I can tell you without reservation that were it not for our church, the only church concerned about this incursion of darkness, the resolution for the sale of recreational marijuana would have passed, and the downhill slide for this area would have accelerated.

In these last days, we know that all the Bible foretells will come to pass.  The hearts of man will become so darkened that God will have no choice but to do what He did in the flood.  He will save a remnant and bring the remainder of unbelieving humanity into judgment.

None of this means that we as believers should sit on our hands in this crucial time.  God has called us for such a time as this.  We are to occupy and be about our Father’s business until Jesus calls us to Him in the clouds.  He is coming soon.  We see the signs all around and in the daily struggles we face.  Yes, the enemy has his sights on each one of us and our communities, but we have a mandate from the Lord: persevere, don’t grow weary of doing good, continue to fight the good fight.  God sees our efforts.  They may be futile and of little value in our eyes, but in His, they are worthy of crowns.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

Rapture Interest – A Contrarian Indicator

There’s no shortage of financial advice “out there” that is either freely accessible or available through a subscription service.  One of the sources that I’ve found useful in this economic realm is Stansberry Research.  They have a number of different newsletters covering the gamut of investments by many different writers, but the hallmark of Stansberry is the contrarian stance they take regardless of the type of financial instrument.

One of the founding partners in the firm is Steve Sjuggerud.  Steve is well known within the financial community, and the advice he’s famous for is a particular indicator.  He wants to find an investment, regardless of whether it’s a stock or anything else that is hated, out-of-favor, but in an uptrend.  When that company or country or anything else has been abandoned by the market, that piques his interest.  This will usually mean that nobody is talking about it, except in negative terms, significant funds have been taken from that area, yet its value is recovering because it’s gone down as far as it can go.  Essentially, the investment has been deserted because nobody thinks he can make any money in it; it has no future as far as the market is concerned.

The key for Sjuggerud and other Stansberry analysts is that the investment must be solid.  Just because it’s been dumped by everyone doesn’t mean there’s no value.  It’s just that no one in the general market sees any future in it.  They’ve taken their money and plowed it into the favored stock of the day.  But just because something is favored by numerous investment firms, along with the mom and pop investors, doesn’t mean money can be made at this point and that there’s no downside.  In fact, when the market is heavily invested in one area and a stock has soared, that means that there’s plenty of room for it to fall.  In that environment, if a financial instrument can be located that everyone despises, yet is a solid company or area of investment, that’s what Sjuggerud seeks.  Obviously, there are many factors that go into this, but that’s the general theme.

An associate of Stansberry is Rick Rule, described as a legendary natural resources investing expert.  He concentrates on gold, silver, and other natural resources investments.  He has famously said, “You’re either a contrarian or a victim,” meaning that when the market decides to favor something, you’re generally better off going in the opposite direction.

I wanted to provide this introduction because I believe there’s a great similarity today in how the concept of the Rapture of the Church is viewed by most of the religious community.  There’s no sense in discussing how those outside this body consider the Rapture; just getting them to think about God is a challenge, let alone that He will remove His people at some point from the earth.  No, it’s those who consider themselves Christians that we want to examine.

There was a period when the Rapture was in favor, when the balance of Christendom discussed and anticipated it, including in the early church.  That time is long past.  Most of the mainline Protestant churches have fallen far from even adhering to Scripture as the inspired Word of God.  They maintain a very low view of the Bible.  Bible prophecy has been condemned to symbolism and allegory.  The concept of the Rapture, if it even crosses their minds, has been relegated to the dustbin of forgotten beliefs.

The Catholic Church is very much in this camp.  It doesn’t encourage its people to even read the Bible, so anything its congregants know comes from what the priests tell them.  Since Catholics believe they’re the one true church and every other church is apostate because of the Reformation, any Biblical notion that contradicts their beliefs is shoved away.

In the Evangelical community, once the lone defender of the Rapture, the idea that Jesus will come to remove His people before a time of great wrath has become laughable.  Everyone is saved because God is love.  Or the church has to Christianize the world before Jesus can return.  Or this world is our best life now.  Take your pick among these and other popular themes.  Anything but the recognition that God will judge a sinful, unbelieving world.  Anything but Israel being integral to God’s plans and purposes for this world.  No, Israel is a pariah, a usurper, a nation that is to be despised because she rebelled against God and will be punished forever.

Of course, the problem with these various viewpoints in these different religious camps is that they have abandoned the inerrant Word of God.  They don’t look upon the Bible as an authority where Scripture confirms Scripture and the Word is to be taken literally unless it tells us something is symbolic.

In other words, the very idea of the Rapture is scorned and extremely out-of-favor.  No one believes that it will happen.  Nobody even talks about it unless certain foolish people bring it up, then it’s to be laughed at, even despised.

This is why the analogy to contrarian investing is so appropriate.  The idea of the Rapture is literally hated.  For some reason, people think it’s chic to batten down the hatches, get all prepped up, and get ready to go underground during the Tribulation.  Besides, they reason, who will tell the world about Jesus if believers aren’t around?  Forgetting, of course, that God has that covered with 144,000 Jewish evangelists, two previously Raptured witnesses, and an angel that goes through the world at the end to assure that everyone has the chance to hear the Gospel.

Or, since the Rapture only happens at some distant future time and the Tribulation has already happened, we’d better get busy doing what the new apostles tell us and adhere to what the new prophets declare as additional Scripture.  We’ve got a lot of work to do until Jesus comes back in a couple thousand years so we can hand him a world that has converted to Christ because of our diligent efforts.

The Rapture is definitely out-of-favor.  How often do you hear it spoken of from the pulpit, other than in derisive terms?  Pastors are too busy affirming social justice, their LGBT congregants, or counting noses in the seats from those who have come to feel good about themselves.

So, yes, the Rapture is not a hot topic in most of the church today.  I think, because of that, all these who willfully or ignorantly discount it may be blinded to the signs of the times and their meaning.  If you don’t think Jesus is coming soon to remove His church from this sin-drenched world, then the chaos, violence, and confusion all around us have no meaning and no answer.  In fact, I think many who don’t look for Jesus’ return may be totally unaware of the madness of the age.

But, it is exactly this folly that confronts those of us every day who are watching that is the contrarian indicator.  These signs are the uptrend.  Jesus and Paul said to be on the lookout for physical upheaval in the earth and degradation in the soul of man.

Given what we see, I think it’s a good time to invest in Rapture futures.  There’s a great payoff coming.

The Romans 1 – Genesis 6 Connection

Have you ever read Romans 1 and wondered why Paul wrote verses 18-32 in the past tense?  If you’re like me, you may have thought that he was simply describing our future—now current—condition in that manner simply as a literary convention.  But in thinking about this recently, I no longer think that’s the case.  I believe he was describing the way things were at a particularly heinous time in mankind’s history.

I’ve spent a lot of time in recent months exploring Genesis 6:1-4, and it’s actually verse 5 that is the ultimate key.

In our typical Christian thinking, because this is what we’ve been taught—and we rarely question it further—it is the sin from the fall of Adam and Eve that is the cause of all the problems in the world.  That’s ultimately true, but it’s a limited viewpoint because it doesn’t go far enough.  It fails to consider the context of what the ancient Jewish writers knew and communicated to their audience who knew what they referenced.

Not only was sin brought into the world through Adam and Eve’s rebellion, but there were two other incidents in the ancient world that brought us to the point we are today.  There are three falls in this Israelite thinking, not just the one.  They are:

  1. Adam and Eve’s rebellion in the garden as seen in Genesis 3.
  2. The rebellion of God’s divine sons in Genesis 6 that brought depravity into the world.
  3. Mankind’s rejection in Genesis 11 in the Tower of Babel incident of God’s Plan A to disperse throughout the world to subdue, rule, and multiply.  This led to the falling away of all nations, and God calling Israel from nothing unto Himself.

Number 2 in this list is our concern today, so let’s review what the text of Genesis 6:1-5 says:

1 When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.

 5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

These verses are what we typically describe as the fallen angels coming to earth and procreating with mankind.  In reality, these divine beings were part of God’s heavenly host, the sons of God who were spiritual entities of another form, not strictly angels.  Just a note: no one in the ancient world—none of the Jewish writers even through the New Testament with Jude and Peter—thought these sons of God were the ungodly sons of Ham marrying the Godly daughters of Seth.

The result of this fall, as we see in verse 5, was the absolute corruption of man because of the influence of these spiritual entities and their offspring, the giant Nephilim.  There is a reason that God looked down upon the situation on earth and placed a time limit of no more than 120 years before He acted.  Man became so corrupted during this time, probably also having intermarried with the spawn of the Nephilim, that no pure human blood remained on the earth other than in the line of Noah.  It is this corruption that we call depravity, which equates with a reprobate mind.

Here’s Paul in Romans 1:18-32:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

 28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

There was no confusion on the earth as to whom God was.  All beings, whether fallen divine, their aberrant Nephilim children, humans, or Nephilim-mixed humans knew about God.  He had made it plain to all.  But they rejected everything that He was and stood for.  Men began worshipping the fallen sons as gods themselves.  This is why we have the myths of gods in every culture around the entire world.  None remained righteous and looked to the One true God.  All turned to the gods they could see and who deceived them with their faux glory.  These gods encouraged the making of idols as a physical presence and manifestation of what they pretended to be, a replacement for the true Creator God.

It resulted in incredible depravity as these gods made up their own rules.  Anything to turn the hearts of the people away from Yahweh.  Anything to inspire the sin nature of man.  Anything to touch mankind’s inner needs, which if properly manipulated turn to lust, pride, and self that they thought could be satisfied through these other gods.

The earth literally became a hellhole from which mankind could not escape.  Had not God intervened with the flood, His plan of redemption with the Seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15) could never come to fruition.  These were the days of Noah.

Thus, when Jesus speaks of His return in Matthew 24 and tells us to remember the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37), He was speaking literally of the incredible depravity of that time and how it would be similar in the last days.

Look again at the description in Romans that Paul ascribes to the condition of the world by the time the flood approached.

Is there anything in that commentary that we can say is not present today?  And not only present, but with us to such extent that we who love the Lord long for Him to remove us from this place that is not our home.

Do we have to wait 120 years for the Rapture?  I pray not.  From all appearances, from all the converging signs, we are on the cusp of Jesus’ return in the clouds to snatch us away from this sinful and depraved world.

Jesus is coming again soon to correct—to fix—the remaining issues resulting from all three falls.  His death on the cross with the shedding of His blood deals with our sin issue (#1).  When He removes His virgin bride from the earth in the Rapture and unbelieving mankind enters the Tribulation, that ultimately addresses and eliminates depravity (#2).  The nations of the earth that worship other gods will be punished, as will God’s rebellious sons which currently rule over them.  Through God’s blessing of Israel that comes out of the Tribulation, all nations on earth will be blessed.  God called Israel for this purpose (#3).  Once they turn to Jesus as their Messiah and proclaim, “Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!” (Luke 13:34-35), then God will have dealt with all three falls.  There’s still more for Him to work out in the Millennial Kingdom, but God will have accomplished much in the way of the redemption of man by that time.

As strange as its horrors may seem, the Tribulation is a time of cleansing.  It brings the final fullness of man to Christ, and it eliminates unbelievers.  At its end, only those who love the Lord will stand, while we who answered His call before that awful time will enjoy the wondrous rewards that He has planned for us since all eternity.  And all nations will worship the King.

When reading Romans1, remember Ecclesiastes 1:9:

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.

“There Is No Rapture”

Recently, someone publicly sent me his thoughts based on a YouTube commentary I made.  Randy was quite direct: “There is no Rapture.”  He then proceeded to outline his so-called Scriptural proofs.  In reading his reasoning, I’m fully of the opinion that Randy is completely off-base in his understanding of God’s Word and His overall plans and purposes for humanity.  In Randy’s (I presume) postmillennial view, we who hold to a pre-Tribulation, pre-Millennial perspective are deceived and will be told by Jesus that, “I never knew you.”

Others who believe as I do are more than welcome to weigh in to dispute Randy’s arguments.  In this article, I want to briefly sketch my own responses.  I’m sure many who agree with our pre-Trib position are smarter or more eloquent than me in countering these ideas.  To make it interesting, here are the slightly edited notes from Randy with my Scripturally-based rebuttals below each of his points:

 

  • There is no such thing as a rapture. The Word of God shows His return as singular.

Jan Markell of olivetreeviews.org has a teaching that laments this viewpoint.  It is called: How the Blessed Hope Became the Blasted Hope.  The teaching centers around 2 Peter 3:3-4, which says:

knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.”

This is truly the position of so many in the church today, who have become disenchanted with God’s Word and His timing.

 

  • .. Paul calls the event the “resurrection of the dead”… 1 Corinthians 15:42-54 not the conjured rapture.

Paul indeed speaks of the raising of the dead.  Unfortunately, Randy neglects the plain meaning of the passage, particularly verses 51-52:

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.

Lo and behold, the Rapture is a mystery.  What the text directly says, however, is that we (who are alive) will be changed.  Some number of us will not die, but will be raised, even as the dead are raised imperishable, i.e. with new glorified, spiritual bodies.

 

  • .. Job 14:12 tells us that man dies and is not resurrected until the heavens are destroyed.

Job didn’t know about the Rapture.  It was a mystery not revealed until New Testament times.  1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 adds to the 1 Corinthians passage:

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.

The dead in Christ will rise first, then those of us who remain alive will rise.  We will be caught up with Jesus in the clouds.  At this coming, Jesus does not set foot on the earth, yet He removes those who belong to Him.

 

  • .. Peter tells the church that Jesus comes “like a thief in the night when the heavens are destroyed with a great noise”….2 Peter 3:10-18.

That little word “then” is critical to understanding this verse.  Jesus comes like a thief in the night in the Rapture, then—at a future time—the heavens are destroyed.

 

  • .. if Jesus were to come prior than the heavens being destroyed… it would destroy the element of surprise in which He stated how He’d come “like a thief”. Jesus is not a man that He should lie.

That’s exactly the point.  The Rapture occurs at a time that no one knows—like a thief.  The heavens are destroyed after the millennium in Revelation 21:1, long after the Rapture and the Tribulation:

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more.

 

  • .. Jesus also informs us that the heavens will be destroyed…. and of THAT DAY, no man knows the day or the hour… Matthew 24:35-36… Why are we constantly LIED to and told that no man knows the day or the hour of a conjured ‘rapture”?

“That day” and “last days” encompass periods of time.  Many prophecies are lumped together and will actually occur in stages.  When Jesus was incarnate, he didn’t know when the Rapture would occur—only the Father knew, just as He stated.  Old Testament prophecies often have a telescoping effect.  There is a near fulfillment and a later completion of that prophecy.  We’ve been in the last days since the time of the resurrection.

 

  • ..John informs us that those martyred for not taking the mark are resurrected at the ‘first’ resurrection…. Revelation 20:4-5

This argument fails to understand that there are various stages in the resurrection as to who and when.  Believers in Christ sleeping and living will rise in the Rapture.  Following that we have martyred Tribulation saints who will be resurrected to participate in the wedding feast at the end of the 7 years plus the Old Testament saints.  Whereas those who participate in the Rapture are the bride of Christ, the subsequently risen Tribulation saints and OT saints are the friends of the bride invited to the wedding feast.

A terrific reference for all the chronology of these last days is The Footsteps of the Messiah by Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum.  For those confused by poor teaching that has led to anything but a pre-Trib Rapture view, this book could help them a lot.

 

  • You can see that those who segregate His singular return must conjure terms that are not Scriptural in order to present their agenda. Not one Scripture directly states their view without the elements of speculation, conjecture, assumption, opinion, and lies.

This is just a foolish statement.  The pre-Trib Rapture has more Scriptural evidence than any of the so-called contenders.

 

  • Rather Jesus modeled His return… found in Acts 1:9-14. He will return in “like manner” as He left. He left the Mount of Olives to the sky and then to Heaven. When He returns He will come in “like manner”. From Heaven He will come to the sky to resurrect the dead, and catch up those who are alive and remain, from there He heads to the Mount of Olives “with all of His saints”… Zechariah 14:4-5.

“Like manner” refers to Jesus in His 2nd coming setting foot on the Mount of Olives, the very place He left the disciples looking up incredulous.  There are several iterations of the following list describing how the Rapture and the 2nd coming are two very different events.  This is one version of 20 Reasons the Rapture is Not the 2nd Coming:

 

Rapture

2nd Coming

Christ comes in the air Christ comes to the earth
Christ comes for His saints Christ comes with His saints
Believers are taken away Unbelievers are taken away
Christ claims His bride Christ comes with His bride
Christ gathers His own Angels gather the elect
Christ comes to reward Christ comes to judge
There are no signs; it is imminent Many signs precede it
Revealed only in New Testament Revealed in both Old & New Testament
Mystery Foretold
Mount of Olives is unchanged Mount of Olives is divided
Time of blessing & comfort Time of destruction & judgment
Involves believers only Involves Israel & Gentile nations
Will occur in a moment – in the blink of an eye Will be visible to the entire world
Tribulation begins Millennium begins
The Lord takes believers to heaven Believers return to earth from heaven
Living believers obtain glorified bodies Elect entering Millennium remain in same bodies
Believers go to the Father’s House The elect stay on earth
Satan remains free Satan is bound
False prophet & antichrist at large False prophet & antichrist thrown into Lake of Fire
Unbelievers remain on earth Unbelievers go to hell

 

  • The “raptured’ do not go to heaven, but remain on Earth for 1000 years. The dead get their physical bodies back so that they can rule and reign with Him for 1000 years on a physical Earth. These physical bodies do not go to Heaven… see vs 50 of 1 Corinthians 15:42-54.

Who are these dead referred to?  There must be a spiritual transformation prior to the Millennium—a glorification of our bodies—flesh to heavenly—so as to negate sin in order for us to rule with Christ.  In Randy’s view, how does this happen?  What happened to the bride of Christ and her preparation for the actual marriage?  This perspective simply doesn’t make sense.

 

  • The Mortal are changed to immortal… this is the opposite of Adam… who through sin was changed from immortal to mortal… see Romans 5. Take heed that no man deceive you…. not one Scripture states the pretrib rapture view… that view is desirable for the ‘stony’ soil who have no mindset for tribulation and persecution… see Mark 4:18.

Multiple Scriptures depict the pre-Tribulation Rapture, but Randy fails to see them for what they are.  This is the problem with faulty teaching that doesn’t take the literal, plain sense of Scripture unless it tells us otherwise.  Passages we’ve already noted here include 1 Thessalonians 4:17-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52.  When are these mortal changed to immortal other than during the Rapture?

 

  • My opinion and belief is of no value next to the truth…. and neither is yours. Both Jesus and Paul warn, “take heed that no man deceive you…” concerning this topic…. those who do not take heed become the next generation of deceivers….
  • The terms “rapture’ and ‘second coming” are absent from the Word and directly deceive those with itching ears. The matter is indeed salvific in nature.

This is an old argument we probably get tired of having.  The Latin for “caught up” in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 is rapturo and the Greek is harpazo.  The Strong’s reference is 726, which means “to seize, catch up, snatch away,” exactly the definition of how the Rapture occurs.  And, oh by the way, as we also like to point out, the word trinity isn’t anywhere in the Bible, but the fact remains that’s what Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are in comprising the One true God.

 

  • There will be no disappointment for the wise virgins who have enough oil to endure to the end. The foolish virgins are indeed watching. When the foolish virgins realize they don’t have enough oil to make it through the time of the “mark of the beast”, it will be too late for them, for they are “stony” soil… and have no heart for tribulation and persecution…
  • When tribulation comes, they will immediately stumble as Jesus promises… Mark 4:18… Everything about the situation will be “too late’ for pretrib followers… for Jesus doesn’t give a second chance to the foolish virgins…. rather it is “depart from Me, I know you not.”

This is a complete misunderstanding of the Parable of the Virgins.  It refers to the concept of Jesus’ wedding, where the bride is the church and the bridegroom is Jesus.  Those in the church already have the oil.  They will join Jesus at the wedding feast as they will be Raptured and taken to heaven for seven years of final preparation for that Day.  They return with Jesus at His 2nd coming and partake of the feast.  Those not ready fall short from heaven’s preparations.

The purpose of the Rapture is to remove believers from the time of Tribulation, which has two groups as its focus.  It is necessary for unbelieving Israel to finally turn to Jesus as Messiah.  Unbelievers who chose not to follow Jesus are likewise subject to God’s wrath and judgment during this time.  Where does the believing church fall into these categories?  It doesn’t, which is exactly why the pre-Trib Rapture is necessary.

To deny the Rapture and to deny it in this pre-Trib timing is to deny God’s truth, His purposes, and what he intends to accomplish on the earth with His beloved.

For Randy and anyone else interested, I previously did a verse-by-verse Rapture Bible Study on my YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZPs_DRrYDE.  It discusses all the pertinent verses of this very important topic, which as we grow closer day-by-day to Jesus’ return, brings us great hope and blessing.

Whom Will God Rapture? – A Willing Bride

What is the nature of an upcoming wedding?  Surely, it is a bridegroom who eagerly anticipates his wedding night and a bride who looks forward to a loving relationship with her betrothed.  Why then, when we consider the marriage of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, with the love of His life—the Church—that we don’t apply the same standards to the bride?

We know that Jesus wants to be with us.  There’s no question about that.  How do we know that?  By the evidence of His love.  By the fact that He died for us.  That He took all our sins upon Himself to atone for us—actually sacrificed Himself in our place—so that we might be saved in order that we might be able to come to Him.  He proved His love by His actions, not just by words.  Doesn’t Jesus say, “You will know them by their fruits?” (Matthew 7:16).  The proof is in the fruit of Jesus’ deeds.

So, if the church is the bride and one purpose of the Rapture is to unite the Bridegroom with the bride, shouldn’t she be as excited to be with Him as He is to be with her?  The question of the day is: Is she?

I’ve been dwelling on this issue for several posts now, and it doesn’t want to go away.  That could be an indication of perseveration (Dictionary.com: the pathological, persistent repetition of a word, gesture, or act, often associated with brain damage or schizophrenia), or it could mean the Holy Spirit has stirred this within me as a warning to the church.  Take your pick.  Despite either definition, I have no grandiose fantasies that many people will see this article.  This blog has very limited reach.  But perhaps there will be one or two who might need to read it and to whom God wants to speak.

Let’s review the parable of the virgins in Matthew 25:1-13:

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

The virgins were all set to marry the bridegroom.  The day of his return was unknown per Jewish custom.  He could appear at any moment from having been busy preparing their future home, and they had to be ready.  The father set the day of the bridegroom’s return for his bride—only he knew the day and hour.  When the bridegroom came near the bride’s home, a trumpet sounded and an announcement was made that the time for their wedding was at hand.

In the case of the parable, the bride’s readiness is directly correlated with her lamp and the oil she must have ready at all times.  Here we see that the future brides who were eager for the bridegroom to come had prepared in advance.  They had the necessary oil.  They were looking forward to the upcoming marriage.  But there were five virgins who hadn’t prepared.  They weren’t watching and waiting with the expectation of the bridegroom’s return—again, that which could be at any moment.  We don’t know why they weren’t ready.  Too busy or too lazy or simply didn’t care.  The fact is that at the appointed hour they had no oil.

The parable has a sad ending for those virgins who had apparently made the choice not to prepare.  They knew the custom.  The bridegroom had been away for some time, so they knew—whenever it might be—that he had to come at some point.  But they chose, because of some aspect of their lives, not to watch and wait.  They obviously didn’t really care.  All one can deduce is that they didn’t want to be married very badly.  Other things in their lives were more important.  When the bridegroom came, he took those who wanted to be with him.  The others, he left behind.

This parable draws a clear analogy to the Rapture of the Church.  Jesus is coming back.  It could be at any time.  There are those who deny the Rapture altogether; many likewise deny the timing as pre-Tribulation, pre-Millennial, but there is overwhelming Scriptural evidence that it must happen, and in this manner at this time.

Who are the virgins eagerly awaiting Christ’s imminent return?  Those who live for Him, whose hearts are for Him and not for the world.  I can’t go so far as to say that those who love Jesus with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, yet don’t believe in the pre-Trib Rapture won’t be Raptured; however, they will be surprised.  The Rapture will take them unawares.

Unfortunately, there are others who no doubt are saved, but who have no interest in Jesus’ return.  Their eyes are wholly on the world, whether through the cares of life or the don’t-cares who mock Bible prophecy.  Regardless of the reason, these are the virgins who have no oil in their lamps.  These Christians—absolutely saved by the blood of Jesus—are those who have decided to pursue worldly ideals like social justice, prosperity, environmental concerns, belief that the church must Christianize the world before Jesus can return, Holy Spirit experiences at the cost of a true encounter with Jesus, and a whole host of other beliefs that turn their eyes from where they should be focused.  These believers are pursuing idols and the lusts of the flesh.  If Jesus were to come while they’re busy in these endeavors, it would spoil everything.  “Come Lord Jesus, just don’t come now!”

The more I think about this issue of Whom Will God Rapture, the more convinced I am that there is a need for these who don’t eagerly anticipate the Lord’s return to miss the Rapture and go into the Tribulation so that they can demonstrate by their actions where their heart is.  They’re saved.  No doubt about that.  But if Jesus wants a willing bride, a bride refined as pure silver or gold, then these believers don’t fit that description.

Following hard after Jesus and wanting Him to come at any time is the hallmark of those who will be Raptured.  Those desiring the things of the world are those who—like the five unprepared virgins—will be shut out.  At that time, Jesus doesn’t even know them.

Paul gave a warning in Ephesian 4:17-24 about how we’re to live:

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Is this the heart condition and action of every born-again believer?  Sadly no.  But because of the tribulation of the Tribulation, the hearts of these left behind will be purified, or they’ll decide that Jesus really isn’t worth it.

Should this cause some great concern?  I hope so.  I hope that it changes the desires of some who are currently living in the world and not for Jesus.  But the sad truth of the matter is that most people in that condition won’t see an article like this. Their focus is elsewhere, and they wouldn’t even say, “Who me?” if confronted with it.  On the other hand, if people read this and question if God will unite them with Jesus in the clouds when He returns to harpázō* His bride; then the likelihood is that He will do it because they are concerned.  They want to be at the marriage feast of the Lamb.

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up [harpázō] together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:17)

* [harpázō (Greek) – Strongs 726 – “properly, seize by force; snatch up, suddenly and decisively – like someone seizing bounty (spoil, a prize); to take by an open display of force (i.e. not covertly or secretly)”]

I know that’s where I want to be.  How about you?

Whom Will God Rapture? – Guest Blogger

[Gary’s Note – 1: The initial post of this blog, that also appeared on Rapture Ready, generated quite a bit of controversy.  The follow-up entry that I wrote was rejected by Rapture Ready—the reason being that they prefer not to contend in this area.  In our respectful interchange, they informed me that my article goes against their belief that salvation equals Rapture.  That is not a view that I can hold given so many warnings about faithless faith in the Bible and the consequences for chasing after the world rather than after God.  In my alternative “Second Look” view, I postulate that it’s conceivable that all who are saved will be Raptured, but only after severe persecution comes to the church.

As it turns out, another blogger commented on my original article, and she has the same concerns that I do!  However, she came to her conclusions a year before me.  In writing my piece, I had no knowledge of her blog.  Because I admire the reasoning that she uses and her additional arguments for continuing to ask the question as to Whom Will God Rapture, I asked for her permission to post her blog in its entirety here.

Heather writes a number of different blogs.  The one where this article below originates is: https://mycrazyfaith.blogspot.com/.  So, with full attribution as I promised Heather, here’s her take on this subject.  Warning-1: Be prepared to be challenged.  Warning-2: This is a long blog post!  You’ll need some time to read and process it.]

 

 

Should Christians Worry About Being Left Behind?

— Heather

 

https://mycrazyfaith.blogspot.com/2018/08/should-christians-worry-about-being.html

 

August 16, 2018

 

This won’t be popular or make people happy but …

Yes, I think Christians need to be concerned about the possibility of being left behind.

This is my opinion.  I cannot say for sure that it’s what’s really going to happen.  But the more I read the Bible, the more I think it teaches that not all Christians will go up in the rapture.

Of course, unbelievers will be left behind.  Those who have rejected Jesus’s offer of salvation and grace and mercy.  Those who have rejected the offer God makes to the faithful church, to be spared from the coming wrath.

But I think there are Christians (and “Christians”) who will be left behind, too.  Specifically, those who have made their life (or money) a priority over their faith, over the Lord … and those who have backslidden, are disobedient to Him, are living for themselves … and those who aren’t being faithful to Scripture but who knowingly compromise it or alter it so that it says what they want it to say … and those who think they are Christian but really aren’t.

And what Scripture is there to back this view up?

 

1.  First of all, consider all this (warning: this point will get a bit messy, but I’m trying to paint a complete picture of the “faithful church” – those who will be raptured):

“Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:8)

As I said in an earlier post, I think the elders around the throne in Rev. 4 are representatives of the raptured church.  And what are the elders wearing?

Crowns.

I think these crowns are the crowns that are awarded to those who have longed for the coming of the Lord, those who are looking forward to His return.  The faithful believers.

And I think “that day” the crowns are awarded is the day of the rapture.  And the elders are around the throne before the first seal is opened, meaning that we are raptured before the start of the tribulation.

The faithful church is represented by the Philadelphia church in Rev. 3:7-13.  And what is the promise given to this church?

“Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.  I am coming soon.  Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.”

They remained faithful to Jesus and to the Gospel and endured patiently in the faith all the way to the end, which is far different than the backslidden church, the compromising church, the superficial church, the lukewarm church, etc. (the other churches listed in Rev. 2-3).

And as a result, they alone were promised a crown if they “hold on to what they have” (their faith, their commitment to Christ and the Truth).  They were promised to be spared from the “hour of trial” that will come on the rest of the earth (I believe that’s the tribulation).

(Why the warning to not let anyone take your crown if there’s no chance of losing your crown?  I think the “crown” is part of the reward for the faithful church, taken out at the rapture.  If this is so, then it’s possible to lose your place in the faithful church and not be taken out in the rapture.  It doesn’t mean you lost your salvation, just that you lost your chance to be raptured out because you weren’t ready and weren’t living like you should be.)

So this church gets a crown – like the elders around the throne.  And they are spared from the “hour of trial” (the tribulation) – like the elders who are around the throne before the first seal opens to start the tribulation.

The tribulation is a time to test the people on the earth.  I think this means it’s a time to test their allegiance – if they will turn to Christ or away from Christ.  If they will uphold the Bible or turn against the Bible.

And since the faithful church already proved their allegiance – clinging to their faith until Jesus raptured them out – there is no reason for them to be around for the tribulation, the time of testing.  They have already made their decision about Jesus and have been faithful to Him.

But this time of testing – the tribulation – will come on everyone else.  On those who were not believers at the time of the rapture.  On those who were wishy-washy, compromising Christians.  On those who thought they were Christians but who really weren’t.  On those who changed Scripture to tickle people’s ears.

These people will have to make their decision about Christ and show their faithfulness to Him during the tribulation.

(I also think children under the age of accountability will be raptured, too.  The Bible talks about an age when children are old enough to choose right from wrong.  But if they are too young to understand “right and wrong” – too young to be able to choose between Jesus and Satan – there is no point for them to go into this time of testing.  So they will be spared, taken out in the rapture, covered by God’s grace.)

“and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead – Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.”  (1 Thess. 1:10)

The true and faithful church will be rescued from the coming wrath!  The tribulation!

And where will we be taken?

We will be taken to the “Father’s house” (John 14:2-3), which I believe is the “New Jerusalem” that comes down out of heaven in Rev. 21.

What does Rev. 21:12-14 say about the New Jerusalem?

It says that there are 24 names written on its walls and foundations – 12 for the tribes of Israel and 12 for the apostles of the Lamb.

And how many elders are sitting around the throne wearing crowns?

24

I think these elders are the 24 names written on the New Jerusalem because they represent those who live in the New Jerusalem – the faithful believers of all time before the rapture.

Look again at the Philadelphia church.  What does Rev. 3:12 say about them?

“Him who overcomes … I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven …”

God promises those in the faithful church that He will write the name of the new Jerusalem on them.  He will write the name of their new home on them – the new home of the raptured church.

All of this ties the promise of a crown for those who long for the Lord’s appearance with the elders who are wearing crowns before the first seal opens … with the Philadelphia church who was promised crowns for their faithfulness and promised to be spared from the “time of testing” (the tribulation) … with the New Jerusalem where the faithful church is taken (the “Father’s House”)!

All of this means that the faithful church will be raptured out before the tribulation, and we will go to the New Jerusalem while the world enters the “time of trial.”

[One other interesting note about the Philadelphia church:

Rev 3:8 refers to an “open door that no one can shut” which is set before this church.  Many have said this means that it’s an evangelizing church, that the “open door” is a door to the world, to go out and tell others about Christ.  And maybe this is so.

Or … maybe it’s a reference to the rapture?  Maybe the “open door” is the door to heaven … and only this church (the true believers) has the right to enter it?

Look at Rev. 4:1:  “After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven.  And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, ‘Come up here …'”

John saw a door open in heaven (same door the Philadelphia church gets to enter?) … and he hears a voice like a trumpet (any relation to the trumpet during the rapture?) … and a voice says “Come up here” (like the command given in 1 Thess. 4:16?) … and John is immediately “in the spirit” and taken up to heaven.

Could this be a foreshadowing of the rapture?  Of what the Philadelphia church will experience?]

 

2. “It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.  On that day, no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them.  Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything.  Remember Lot’s wife!  Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.  I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other one left.  Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left.”  (Luke 17:30-35)

I think this shows that there will be those who could have escaped the wrath, like Lot’s wife could have escaped, but that they chose to turn back to their lives.  They put their lives over their faith.  They lived for themselves instead of living for the Lord.

I think the Lord will only take those who are ready and willing to come with Him, who have shown they love Him more than their lives by how they lived.  And as I said in a previous post, I think there might be a “time of decision” while the rapture is happening for Christians to decide if they want to go or stay.  If they will run to the Lord or run to their homes, like Lot’s wife.

But honestly, if we are not ready for the Lord or are living in a way that would make us ashamed before Him, then I think we’ll be caught by surprise and be too ashamed to stand before Him at the rapture.  Instead of running to meet Him when He comes, we’ll be running back to our houses to hide.  And we will be left behind.

 

3.  “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  As it was in the days of Noah … one will be taken and the other left.  Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come…. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him…. Who then is the faithful and wise servant…?  It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing [his job] when he returns…. But suppose that servant is wicked … The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of.  He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  (Matthew 24:36-51)

“Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.  For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth.  Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”  (Luke 21:34-36)

Notice in the Matthew passage above that the person who was assigned a place with the hypocrites was actually a servant.  He was a servant just like the faithful servant.  They were both servants (Christians?).  But the wicked one was a lazy, self-serving servant who was not doing what he was supposed to be doing or living the way he was supposed to be living.

To me, this is comparing two types of Christians: those who are faithfully living as God wants them to and those who aren’t.

They were both servants, but only the faithful one was ready for the Lord to come back.  The unfaithful, lazy, self-serving one was sent to the place with the hypocrites, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I think this “weeping and gnashing of teeth” describes the tribulation time.  Unfaithful believers will be left behind to face the tribulation, and it will cause them to weep and to gnash their teeth.  (I talk more about this in the next post where I differentiate between the tribulation and hell.  Two different places where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.)

The above Luke passage also shows that “that day” (the rapture, I believe) will overtake those who are not expecting it, those who got distracted with the cares and pleasures of life.

But we can watch for that day and pray to escape it, which I think means we can pray that we remain faithful to the end.  And if we are faithful to the end, we will have the confidence we need to stand before the Lord on the day He comes to get us.  Those who are ashamed of how they are living will not be able to stand before Him.  They will hide and stay behind.

They just weren’t ready to face the Lord.

 

4.  What about those who change Scripture to tickle people’s ears?

There are so many churches doing this right now.  They change what God says about so many things to please people, to tell people what they want to hear.

And most of them truly think they are trying to honor God and uphold Scripture, even while they change or soften Scripture.  They use Jesus’s love as an excuse for telling everyone that everything they do is okay and that God would never make anyone feel bad about their choices, that He loves everyone just as they are and doesn’t expect anyone to change a thing.  As long as you “love others,” you’re good with God!  (Click here and here for more on that nonsense.)

I think these are the “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15).

They are those who won’t share or tolerate sound doctrine, but who trade in God’s truth for a more people-pleasing “truth,” for myths (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

They are the ones who will hear “Away from me; I never knew you” when they say, “But, God, didn’t we do this and that in your name!?!” (Mathew 7:21-27).

They seem all good and godly, but they are misleading people terribly.  (And it’s that fact that they seem so good and godly that makes them the most dangerous.)

These compromising churches are not part of the faithful Philadelphia church.  They are not promised to be spared from the “hour of trial.”  In fact, Jesus promises the compromising Pergamum church (Rev. 2:14-16) that He Himself will fight against them if they do not repent.

It’s one thing to know the Truth; it’s another thing to live it.

“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.  And if anyone take words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”  (Rev. 22:18-19)

(I believe the “holy city” is the New Jerusalem, the place the raptured church goes to.  And this is possibly saying that you can miss out on the holy city – the rapture – by altering God’s Truth.  This is a serious warning for the many churches who have altered God’s Word about things like homosexuality, abortion, gender, marriage, etc.)

 

5.  And why do I think that those who cherish money too much (such as some of those from the “prosperity gospel” group) are at risk of being left behind?

“No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money.”  (Matthew 6:24)

I think there are people who believe they worship God, that they love God.  But in reality, they are worshipping material things.  They love His gifts more than they love Him.  They pursue temporary pleasures over heavenly treasures

They are the Laodicea church (Rev. 3:14-22) who is rich but lukewarm, self-sufficient, and self-serving.  They are living in their wealth instead of in the Lord.

And the Lord is not pleased with them.  He promises to spit them out of His mouth.  He tells them that they are on the wrong side of the door from Him, that He is knocking on the door of their hearts/lives but they need to open the door and let Him in.

And if they do not do so soon, they will be left behind when He comes for His own.

Missing the rapture will be a huge wake-up call to them.  And they will realize they were worshipping the wrong thing all along.

[Incidentally, some scholars believe the churches listed in Rev. 2-3 are not only real churches at that time, but that they also represent the various churches all throughout history and that they are a listing of various over-arching “church ages” in chronological order.

If this is so, notice that the Laodicea church is the last in the list.  And if the Laodicea church is the age of the “prosperity gospel,” then we are at the end of the church age, right before Jesus returns.

To the previous churches, Jesus says things like “I will come” and “I am coming soon.”  But to this church, He says, “Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock.”

If these churches represent a chronological order throughout time and if the “prosperity gospel” church is the Laodicea church, then He is nearly here.  Something worth considering!]

So if we all know that Jesus could come back at any moment, why aren’t more of us watching for Him?  Why aren’t we working and living the way He wants us to, knowing that we could have to face Him any day? 

Here’s a good look into that.

What it all boils down to it this:

If you are a genuine believer who’s made a heart commitment to Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and who’s faithfully upholding Scripture as it’s written and doing the work God has given you (whether that’s being a missionary or a full-time-mother or a doctor or plumber or whatever), and who’s living in a way that won’t make you run from the Lord in shame when He comes … then you have nothing to worry about.  You will be raptured out of here before the tribulation.

But those who do not fit in the above group should seriously consider how they are living and who they are living for.  If they have placed anything over the Lord.  Because as I said, I don’t think all Christians will be raptured out.  I think many will find themselves left behind, entering the tribulation.  (I am not saying that they lost their salvation, just their chance to be raptured out.)  And the “time of testing” will be their chance to finally live out their faith.  To show the Lord they choose Him over their own lives.  But this time – in the tribulation – it will come with great persecution and possible martyrdom.

Don’t wait that long!  Make your decision now!

[Of course, many would say that all Christians, no matter how they are living, will be raptured out because they have the Holy Spirit in them.  So when the Holy Spirit is taken out, they’ll be taken out, too.  And this may be the case.

But I do think it’s worth at least considering all the Bible’s warnings about being ready and being faithful, about watching for His return and not being caught by surprise, about the potential to lose your crown, about the need to “remember Lot’s wife” who lost her chance to be rescued because she longed for her life, about the bad things that will come upon the various churches in Revelation (all but the faithful Philadelphia church).  Even if they don’t mean what I think they do, those warnings are there for a reason.  Take some time to examine why.]

I love this song: In The Sky

How I long for that day!

Previous “end times” post:  What Will the Rapture Be Like?

Next “end times” post: Where There Is Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth

 

[Gary’s Note-2: As both Heather and I take pains to explain, this isn’t about scaring people or to cause them concern, if they love the Lord and, in their own way, are pursuing Him.  I believe that anyone who contacts either of us with the question as to whether they meet that standard probably isn’t someone who needs to be concerned in the first place.

Someone who doesn’t care is generally the person who’s likely at risk.  Their eyes are on the world; they’re pursuing the things of the flesh; the return of Christ isn’t of interest or importance to them for a variety of reasons, the most likely being that they’re chasing after idols of one form or another.

Scripture urges us time and again to watch and be ready.  Why is that?  Is there really no consequence from the Lord for those who choose not to follow His admonition other than the loss of crowns?

That could be the case.  Neither Heather nor I sit in the heavenly throne room and are privy to the discussions in that exalted place.  We could be completely wrong.

However, even if we are wrong, shouldn’t those who aren’t saying, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!” turn from the world so that they might speak those words and desire that outcome in their hearts?  And what about the rest of us who do live by that phrase?  Should we be unconcerned about these seekers after the flesh who are presumably saved?  That’s almost the natural outcome for those who hold to the salvation equals Rapture doctrine.  “Well, they’re saved.  How they live is no skin off our nose.”  Seriously?  Isn’t there a problem with that?

But, if we have brothers and sisters in the Lord who live for the world, don’t we have an obligation to warn them that the consequences may be drastic because God wants them to Himself?

It’s a thorny question.  As Heather notes, it’s messy.  Church doctrine and what we believe in our westernized Christianity isn’t always correct.  That’s one of the things I’ve learned lately, and it’s important.

What we believe about the Rapture is a peripheral doctrine, not a core salvation issue.  But it does have great significance in how we live our life.  We are to seek out the mysteries of God.  Let’s not stifle inquiry into something just because “we’ve always done it that way.”

Let’s put on our thinking caps.  Let’s be Bereans.]