Author: Fuel For Faith

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.

TRUMP: THE EYE OF THE STORM

Even Trump himself, when campaigning for election, was unaware of exactly what his attempt to become the US president was going to unleash…

O ye of weak knees and uncertain disposition: be warned that I do hold strong views on our political climate and our future, herein represented..!

Trump’s election and presidency, as tumultuous as it has been and will continue to be, is actually the eye of the hurricane of current history, though it may not feel like that to him. The tumult has been forced upon him and upon all of us as a backlash from all those in high places whose wishes were upset by a pesky election. Under the former “leader of the free world”, President Obama, the United States was being changed “fundamentally”. It was intentionally being weakened, in preparation for what the grand schemers of the world have in store for us all. Trump’s success, first in being elected, and then in making the economy boom against all prognostication, was the opposite of what they wanted, hence the rabid and hateful opposition to him since the day he descended the escalator to announce his intention to run for office.

How could Trump have known that he would be at the center of all the forces vying for the hearts and minds of the Western world-whose unseen, leading instigator is the Enemy of mankind himself? Globalists, socialists, communists, self-serving politicians, anti-Christian religious zealots, worldviews, moral-haters, the uninformed, the misinformed, West-haters, God-haters, plotters, the disgruntled, the cynical, the lawless, the envious, the super-rich who have no interest in what the voters want: all fight and scratch and kick and scream and scheme to remove Trump from their path so that their own ends can be achieved in the world. Yet there he is, for now, protected from their claws by the One who holds all of history-and the future-in His own hands.

Please don’t misunderstand me- I know that Trump is no holy man, and no savior on his own. Instead he is the man of the moment: the man being used by God to temporarily hold up the movement towards world government; the man chosen to be the thorn in the side of those surreptitiously taking us where most of us never wanted to go.

And what of the future? America is said to be the world’s “great experiment”; the “republic if you can keep it” (Benjamin Franklin). Its rise is the first time in all of history where the right to associate, to speak one’s mind, to pursue happiness and prosperity, to have a say in the running of the country, and to practice religion would be protected-in principle if not in practice. If you’re not a believer in the words of God as recorded in the Bible you may think that humankind will find a way without the founding principles of America; that ultimately humanity will solve its problems and that freedom will reign due to reason and correct “education”. I am not of that variety. It’s my conviction that humanity would have destroyed itself many times over by now, given the freedom to do so. 

God’s plan as spelled out in Scripture has been severely misrepresented within the Church. I have been one of those misinformed. But here, very briefly, is what I see for planet earth when considering what the word of God is clear on, mixed with a measure of my own informed observation and speculation…

The Bible says that the nation of Israel would be re-born after a long period of time during which the people of Israel would wander the earth. That has happened in recent decades. It says that the nation will boom and prosper in the short time it is free to do so. It would be hated by the nations of the world, and its ancient capital claimed by nations around it. The scene of Armageddon is in the land of Israel. Trump has temporarily halted the progress of those around the world-the EU, socialist politicians in America, and people of a certain religion-working to wrest Jerusalem from the Jews. This is one of the big reasons he is hated by the globalists, who are also in control of most of our media-a media which should be free and impartial but which has a determined agenda.

Globalists want us all to sing cum-bi-a together, forget our Christian beliefs and our patriotic leanings, give our money to them and to those who have poor political systems and philosophies, and dismantle our borders, so that all the above can be achieved without a struggle. Judeo-Christian morality is a road block to the socialist dream of governing us all into subservience while they hold all the power and all the money. Trump has also put a few wrenches in the works on that front. Once Trump is gone, for whatever reason, a certain religion is to be favored over the Christian faith because its more dedicated members will deal with the problematic obstructionist Christians. Obama had already worked on that effort, so that as Isis raged across large areas of the middle east, mainly unchecked, many of us wondered if this was the prophesied time beginning.

Once globalists and socialists achieve their political hegemony, world “peace” will be imposed upon us; a sort of “pax-anti-Christiana’, fulfilling prophesies of the “man of lawlessness”; the embodiment of the Enemy of God and man on the earth. Their dreams are as futile as standing on the shore of the ocean and telling the tide not to come in.

We’re all in for a pretty rough ride, once God’s restraining hand is taken away. And lest you think I’m making it all up:

And now you know what is holding him back, so that he may be revealed at the proper time. For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming (2 Thessalonians 2:6-8).

God is God, and His plan, and His plan only, will succeed.

IS IT REALLY “ALL GOD”?

Jesus Christ said that without him we can do nothing (John 15:5). Clearly he was speaking of things we may do for the kingdom of God. Without Jesus we are powerless to achieve anything for him or which is pleasing to the Father. But is it really the case, as some insist, that he does it all: that everything we do is only his doing and not ours?

I’ve heard this phrase many times in my Christian life: “It’s all God”. I’ll willingly agree that without Him we can do nothing, and that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. That really is “all God”. My only qualification there would be that we have to respond to the gospel. Calvinists insist that we can’t even do that, because, they say, that would be “works”. We’ll save that issue for another day. Today we’re asking if we as believers can do nothing whatsoever for God because it’s all God’s doing.

Salvation is by faith, and then the Spirit of God works within us to want to do what’s right, and empowers us to do what’s right. Anything done by or in the flesh or for our own gain is unacceptable to God-it has to be inspired by the Spirit in us and for His glory. However, the Christian life is teamwork. If we make no effort in it, we remain as spiritual babies. We negate the work of the Spirit. We fail to produce spiritual fruit, and we bury our talent so that nothing is gained by it. That’s the fact of the matter. If it were really “all God”, we would be robots and would have no mind of our own. We would not be choosing to follow Christ or choosing to do what’s right: we would be driven to do it by the Lord.

If we as believers fail to help the one in need, or fail to worship the Lord, or fail to turn away from sin, whose fault is it? God’s? Are we failing because God isn’t doing what He should be doing in us? No, it’s our own fault for not walking in the Spirit, for not learning to walk in His ways, and for not making the effort to do what we  should do. Believers who have been told that it’s “all God” are more likely to not appreciate their role in the Christian walk.

There are so many ways in which this subject could be approached scripturally. But it seems to me pretty obvious that when Paul told his flock to “walk in the Spirit”, the word “walk” requires some sort of effort on our part. Scripture is full of guidance, advise and commandments to us concerning what we should and should not be doing to live out our Christian faith. If there were no effort required from our own will there would be no need for all those things. Didn’t James say that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:14-26)?

With that in mind, I bring your attention to the words of Peter, who made the matter crystal clear for us:

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3-11).

 

RAPTURE 30: ONE TAKEN, THE OTHER LEFT

It’s a common view, as it once was mine, that when Jesus said, speaking of the future time of distress that, “one will be taken, the other will be left” (Matthew 24:40-41) he was speaking of a surprise rapture at some time before the tribulation. The one taken would be the raptured believer: the one left behind would be the one….left behind.

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This idea first leads me to ask what this says about “the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus” during the tribulation (Revelation 14:12)? As some of those “left behind” in a pre-tribulation rapture are going to be believers in Jesus Christ, and as I discussed previously, will be saved by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ just as we are now Revelation 12:11) why is it that we pre-tribulation believers are blessed with escape from the perceived outpouring of the wrath of God on the earth, while those future saints will have to live through it? Are they to be subjects of God’s judgment, as it is claimed we all would be if there were no early rapture? The claim that God would not pour out his wrath upon his Church rings a little hollow if we realize that by this standard all those saints saved by grace through faith and by the blood of the lamb during the tribulation will suffer the wrath of God on the earth! Are they appointed to wrath? Are they “left behind” because they just didn’t make the grade, so God is going to punish them for it?

A far more logical explanation is that we will all be treated equally; that all believers will be called upon to be witnesses to Christ during the tribulation, and that, as I wrote in early excerpts of my book, the wrath of God which we believers will all escape is eternal judgment, not temporal earthly suffering. Refer again to the millions of believers who have suffered persecution around the world through the centuries, and continue to do so: did they incur the wrath of God? No, it was the wrath of man and the devil.  

Verses about one being taken and the other left, while possibly speaking partially of the rapture- are far more likely to be warnings of the judgment of the godless. In his Olivet Discourse Jesus gave the example of a wicked servant who, on the realization that his master is staying away for a long time, begins to beat his servants and to get drunk. In response to the servant’s actions, Jesus said:

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… “ (Matthew 24:48-51).

The wicked servant, who did not expect his master to return, was the one being judged. He was not aware of the day or the hour of his master’s return, and was taken by surprise. He was not raptured: he was judged.

Before saying that one would be taken and the other left, Jesus had just given the example of Noah and the Flood to show that it was necessary for his followers to be ready for his coming (verses 38-42). The two subjects are related. Jesus, speaking of those destroyed in the Flood, said:

…and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (verse 39).

The wicked were “taken away” by the waters in the judgment of the Flood, said Jesus. It was Noah and his family who were left behind. The wicked servant was punished when his master suddenly returned. Therefore, the phrase “one will be taken, the other left” is not speaking of a pre-tribulation rapture. Instead it’s speaking of the time of wrath and judgment, which will occur at the end of the tribulation.

RAPTURE 29: LOT, ENOCH AND DANIEL

Is Lot’s escape from Sodom really evidence for a pre-tribulation rapture? Was Enoch taken to heaven so that he could escape the Flood? Does Daniel’s absence from the furnace scene support the same idea?

Subjects covered lately in this series have been a little on the fringe of the whole matter of the timing of the rapture, but considering that  some ardent preachers of a pre-tribulation rapture  borrow every corner of Scripture to try to prove their point, it’s necessary to counter some of those weak arguments, and bring some reality to light.

I want to reiterate that I am not a-millennial in my beliefs, and I know that the rapture is a real Scriptural event. However, having been misled on the subject for twenty-eight years, I wish now to help others see what the future really holds, and not allow them to stick their heads in the sand of faulty interpretation. This post is excerpt number 29 from my book*. There’s a lot of meat in earlier posts. Just search “rapture” or try search terms such as “rapture wrath”, or “rapture bride”.

LOT’S ESCAPE FROM SODOM

Jesus’ reference to Lot’s escape from the destruction of Sodom in Luke chapter 17 is used to support a pre-tribulation rapture. However, Lot left Sodom on his own two feet, not on angels’ wings, knowing it was going to be judged that very day, because he had been told so. The ungodly were living out their usual daily lives when destruction from the Lord took them by surprise (verses 28-29). This is the point Jesus is making: not that believers were taken away without knowing that they would be or when they would be, but that the wicked were taken by surprise and were not expecting judgment. The wicked were appointed to wrath instead of salvation (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

Noah entered the ark on the same day the Flood came (Genesis 7:11-13) and not days or years before. Lot escaped from Sodom on the same day judgment came. They did not leave the earth. Do we really want to take these events as templates for the rapture? If so, at best we would have to take the “mid-Tribulation” position, because Jesus and Paul said that the “time of trouble”-equivalent to the Flood and the destruction of Sodom-will begin when Antichrist enters the temple, and not before (Matthew 24:17 and 21). This will be only three and a half years before Christ’s visible return, not seven or eight or ten years before it. Even in the words of pre-tribulation “experts” the first half of the “seven years” will be a time of apparent peace and prosperity for the world: not the day of judgment, wrath and trouble. Antichrist’s power lasts only for forty-two months (Revelation 13:5). If Noah’s escape and Lot’s escape prefigure the rapture itself then the rapture would have to be on the very day Antichrist is revealed on the temple mount-at the earliest.

Noah’s deliverance does not work as a model for a rapture years before the time of trouble: neither does Lot’s. It’s intended to demonstrate that the unbelieving world will not be ready for the Day of the Lord while true believers will. Paul put it this way:

…for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly…But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief…” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4).

ENOCH

Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away” (Genesis 5:24).

Enoch’s disappearance could certainly be considered a type of rapture. It’s very reminiscent of Paul’s description of our being changed from mortal to immortal, in his letters to the Thessalonians and the Corinthians. However, some pre-tribulation teachers go beyond what this brief account actually says, by claiming that Enoch’s “rapture” is symbolic of a pre-tribulation rapture of the Church. They assert that Enoch was taken to heaven to escape the Flood, and in the same way, the Church will be taken to heaven to escape the tribulation. Is there a statement in the Bible plainly connecting these two events-Enoch’s “rapture” and the rapture of the Church?

This concept gives the impression that Enoch was raptured a day or so, or a year or so, before the Flood, so that he wouldn’t have to suffer it. After all, the Church, it is said, will be raptured days or perhaps a few years before the “seven-year” tribulation begins. In fact, when you do the math, you find that Enoch was taken by God to heaven nine hundred and sixty-nine years before the Flood (Genesis 5:21-29 and 7:6). We’re told in Genesis that Enoch “walked with God”. This is why the Lord took him. We’re not told in scripture that Enoch was taken to spare him from the Flood almost a thousand years later, but because he walked with God. Being so close to God, would he not have escaped the Flood, along with “righteous” Noah, were he around for that long? There was no need for him to be raptured from the Flood!.

DANIEL

One prominent denomination teaches that Daniel had his own “rapture” which is intended to model the pre-tribulation rapture. Into the fiery furnace went Shadrach, Meshach and Abednigo, in Daniel chapter 3, for not worshiping Nebuchadnezzar’s idol. But where was Daniel? He was not there at all. The fearless three had to endure the trials and tribulations of Nebuchadnezzar’s furnace, while Daniel was nowhere to be seen. His absence is not only a “mystery”, but is considered a type of the pre-tribulation rapture.

Of course, there’s no statement to that effect anywhere in scripture, not even in Paul’s discussion of the rapture in the New Testament, when he shares his “mystery”. It’s an idea which is not provable, but which tickles the fancy of those who look for support for a pre-tribulation rapture in every corner of the Bible and beyond. There’s no consideration of the possibility that Daniel was, for example, away on business for the king. It was a very big kingdom. And why were the other three not raptured also, considering they were men of great faith, whose faith would put most of us to shame?

Not only is there no statement in scripture that Daniel’s absence models a pre-tribulation escape from the events of Revelation, but when we read on in the book of Daniel we find that he’s back in the flesh, on earth, and undergoing his own “fiery trial”. Chapter six sees Daniel falsely accused and set up by the king’s counselors. He’s then thrown into the lion’s den, where he is miraculously protected, but nonetheless very present on the earth for the ordeal.

*ALL LEFT BEHIND:THE CASE AGAINST A PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE, by Nick Fisher, on Amazon in paperback and e-book.