RAPTURE 31: PREPARING TO STICK AROUND

I’ve been publishing excerpts from my book on the rapture* I’ve covered such subjects as the wrath of God, the testimony of John in Revelation, and what Paul did and didn’t say about the subject. Here is the final out-take…

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PREPARING TO STICK AROUND

The obvious consequence of the thesis of my book, if it’s correct, is that at some time in the future Christians still alive will have the privilege and the blessing to represent their Lord, to a world literally sliding into the abyss. They will witness some of the most incredible events of history. They will plainly see God-and the devil- at work. They will see first-hand the fulfillment of the words of God, and become so assured of its truthfulness that their courage and sense of hope in eternity will grow in leaps and bounds. They will have the honor and blessing of representing the Savior who has represented them in the world and in front of the Father. Their faith and deeds in those times will give them an all the greater resurrection, and if they remain alive until the coming of Jesus, they will never taste death but will be changed to immortality in an instant.

On the other hand, of course, they will likely be faced with challenges that we in the modern West have never had to consider facing, while many throughout history and in the modern world have. Their faith will be tested severely, as will their will to endure. They will be confronted with almost overpowering deception. They will be forced to take the word of God at face value and to trust like they’ve never trusted before.

Will the events of Revelation overtake the entire world? Its testimony is that they will. However, there’s some evidence that some of the world will for a time resist the trend of governance as dictated by Antichrist. It’s likely that there will be nowhere to hide for long for anyone who may think to do so, except perhaps in some very remote part of the earth not under the gaze of satellite and drone technology, or prying eyes loyal to the kingdom of the beast. In this case, the one hiding would be failing to be the witness to a dying world that he or she has been called to be at such a time.

For those who are new to the subject and who perhaps aren’t sure where they stand with God, and to those who don’t know what’s required of them in order to escape the wrath of God, there’s no doubt that the most important thing to know and to react to is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It might be of value to even those of us who call ourselves Christians to refresh our minds on the gospel. So here it is for all of us.

WHAT IS THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST?

The Greek word translated “gospel” in the New Testament means “good news”, and in the context of the Bible the gospel is the “good news” about Jesus Christ. But what exactly was and is that good news, and what does it mean for us? In answer to the second question first, read what Jesus said:

“I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life (John 5:24).

The Bible speaks of a love-gift from God. That gift is forgiveness of all our sin, and eternal life. The gift-if we accept it for ourselves-takes us from being subjects of God’s wrath into eternal life, even though for now we are in mortal bodies. Here is Paul’s first-century definition of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which he had given his life to, despite all opposition and threats, having once been a persecutor of Christians:

Now brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time….Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also…(1 Corinthians 15: 1 – 8).

The gospel is here spelled out for you. Accept it, believe it, pray it, confess it, and live it.

WHAT WOULD I DO?

I’ve been thinking about what I would do were I to see or hear of a man ascending the temple mount in Jerusalem and claiming to be God or his representative. What could I do? I have to eat. I have to support my family. I can’t just run off somewhere and hide-I wouldn’t know where to go anyway. The response to the knowledge that I was in the end times proper would have to be a predominantly spiritual one.

My first and most important reaction would be prayer: deep, serious, sincere and constant prayer for myself and my loved ones, and for all those living through the same trial. Secondly, praise: praise because God is God, and because I would be seeing my Lord very soon.

Then I would immerse myself in the Word of God. I don’t just mean the prophesies, I mean all of the Word, since it’s all there for our spiritual well-being and growth. It’s there to show us what Truth is and what is true. It’s there for our encouragement and for our strengthening against opposition. The most intense warning of Jesus Christ to his disciples during the Olivet Discourse was of end-times deception, and as Paul also warned of an intense deception which will affect the entire unbelieving world, it will be imperative for believers alive at that time to know the truth of God’s word, so that they can recognize deception and not be fooled by it, as the rest of the world will be. In fact, it’s clear to the Bible believer even now that the majority of people in our world are blinded to the truth, and that manipulators and liars and schemers already hold sway over the masses.

Godliness is the exact opposite of what our present-day godless world is working to normalize. While we’re saved from our sins by faith, we need to remember that:

…without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

Holiness is what our holy God is looking for in us, along with humility towards Him, and sin is what he’s going to judge the world for. Having an attitude of godliness is vital in our outlook on life, both now and in that future time when we see the signs of coming judgment. We are to be set apart, and certainly to not join in with what the world is already accepting as a normal way of life. We will then increasingly stand out from the crowd, which is what our God expects of us (2 Corinthians 6:17). We’re to make a point of not following the godless flow of the unbelieving world.

PERSECUTION.

If the time comes for us that we have to face serious persecution, we need to remind ourselves that countless believers through history have already had to deal with the same thing. Even in our present world, there are entire nations which not only suppress Christian witness and worship, but physically persecute believers. It’s nothing new. And of course, we need to remember the sacrifice of Jesus himself, who died at the hands of men who thought they were doing a good thing. He said:

Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20).

However, he also said:

“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more” (Luke 12:4).

Persecution is not the wrath of God against his own people, it’s the wrath of man and of the devil, neither of which can do any lasting harm to us. Our God is going to give us eternal life, and any persecutors, if they don’t repent, are going to be judged. We really are in a win-win relationship with our God, thanks to his Son Jesus Christ.

Jesus never promised us a trouble-free life, but he did tell us to patiently endure if the need arises. He told the church in Smyrna, about to suffer persecution:

Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown”(Revelation 2:10).

I would say that in that time of tribulation, and for who knows how long before it (and probably even now in many circles) it will be wise to not fully trust anyone, except the Lord himself. There will be a large measure of betrayal and broken trust when the world is in the mood to follow Antichrist and his very own brand of political correctness, which, I personally suspect, is already at work. Do not fully trust your denomination or spiritual leaders: your first priority when it comes to truth is the Bible. Read it for yourself, while praying for God’s guidance-don’t just let someone else interpret it for you.

Finally, remember that for the believer in Jesus Christ the future is unfailingly bright and eternal. We cannot lose-we can only win, and enjoy perpetual bliss of fellowship with our Creator and his Son, and with each other. There is no lasting loss to come-only gain.

*ALL LEFT BEHIND: THE CASE AGAINST A PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE, by Nicholas Fisher. Available in paperback or electronic form.

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