In a number of my blog posts, I make the statement that God will Rapture His true church. Recently, upon reading one of my articles where I said that, Linda contacted me with a concern that warrants discussion. In her email, Linda wrote:
You said that Jesus will rapture those who are faithful, believe and follow hard after Him. The “follow hard after Him” makes me uneasy. If that is the case how will I know how “hard” is enough? The thought of not following enough and being left behind is terrifying. Can you clarify that for me?
The first issue is why I say what I do. Am I speaking of a works-based faith or one that comes by grace alone? In my even asking the question, you should know that it’s strictly the latter. Nothing that we “do” can ever be good enough. Christ paid it all with the blood He shed on the cross. He paid our legal debt, wiped the slate of our charges clean, and we scamper out of the courthouse free men and women through the work He did when we repent and trust in Him.
That’s salvation, but it may be a very different thing than “qualifying” for the Rapture. I have no doubt my perspective here will be controversial, but I guess that comes with the territory. Throughout Scripture I think God is very clear that He wants a people refined as pure silver and gold. Now, we’ll never achieve that ultimate perfection in this life. We’re on a path of sanctification. Here are some questions: What are we doing on that path? Are we continuing the climb upward to John Bunyan’s celestial city by seeking diligently to know Jesus more intimately and relationally every day, or are we whiling away our time more interested in the things of this world? Are we looking for the soon-return of Christ as He comes to take His people away with Him in the clouds, or are our sights set on those things around us? Would we rather Jesus come quickly, or that He delay His coming so that we can see our kids married along with myriad other worldly enticements?
We had a missionary on a recent Sunday who serves in a very difficult area with an unreached people group. He used a word to describe Christians of different stripes. The word he used was trajectory.
He told of supposedly saved Christians who were actually ministry leaders when he first came to the Lord. Today, they’re no longer serving God, and he’s risking his life among Muslim refugees from Somalia. At that earlier time in his life, this missionary was saved but still living a worldly life. As he tells it, he was trying to figure out this whole Christian thing, and he definitely had sin issues. However, his desire, his passion, was for the Lord. He was moving toward Jesus and a life serving Him. His trajectory was upward. Apparently, those other ministry leaders weren’t sold out in any measure. They certainly had no upward trajectory. Perhaps, in a sense, they were playing at Christianity.
The fact that someone like Linda even asks the question tells me that her heart is for the Lord. In my blog posts, a number of which have appeared on Rapture Ready, I mention Dr. Michael S. Heiser and his book, The Unseen Realm. One thing that Dr. Heiser has said that I like a lot is that what God desires from us is believing loyalty. Our belief must be in Christ alone AND we are loyal to Him in that we have no other gods before us.
I think it was Bill Bright with Campus Crusade for Christ (now CRU – why did they change the name?) who created the image of a circle with a throne. The circle is our life and the throne is Christ. Where is the throne? Is it outside the circle, and thus Jesus is just one more item in our lives like family, job, church, etc.? Or is the throne in the center of the circle? Is Jesus why we live?
A true Christian, in my estimation fits these different criteria, in whichever way one would like to think: Our trajectory is upward toward Christ; we have believing loyalty toward Him; and He is at the center of our lives and the reason we exist.
Christians that don’t look like this, who are more what I call Chinos—Christian in name only—those are the people, I believe, who could be at risk at the time of the Rapture.
This viewpoint admittedly enters treacherous waters for those left behind whom we would consider saved. The period following the Rapture will be difficult by anyone’s standards. We know that the vast majority of those who come to believe in Jesus during this time—and there will likely be millions—will also likely be beheaded. If professing, but lukewarm, Christians must face this challenge, that does seem rather harsh, doesn’t it? I don’t know the answer, but remember how Jesus reacted to the Christians at Laodicea: He wanted to vomit them out (Revelation 3:16). He also says that He will rebuke and chasten them—because He loves them (Revelation 3:19).
There’s a simple solution to this dilemma: Don’t be a lukewarm believer. Actually do what Jesus tells us to do and live as He commands. Focus on Him and not the world. If we live our lives in this manner, I don’t think we need to be anxious about anything.