Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Rapture Is Coming

Greetings, in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. This little essay will be a quick explanation of The Rapture, a coming event in the History of Humanity, coming soon to this planet. We will seek to show 'what it is' and 'who will be taken' in it when Jesus returns in the air. There are three main passages in the Bible that teachers cite for the event. I will quote them as follows, from the World English Bible, a particularly good translation made from the earliest manuscripts available to scholars:

  I Thessalonians 4:13-18 : 13 But we don't want you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning those who have fallen asleep, so that you don't grieve like the rest, who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. 15 For this we tell you by the Word of The Lord, that we who are alive, that are left to the coming of the Lord, will in no way preced those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, with God's trumpet. The dead in Christ will rise first, 17 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. So we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

John 14:1-3, the Upper room Discourse the night before Jesus sacrificing Himself for us :   1 Don't let your heart be troubled. Believe in God. Believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house are many homes. If it were not so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you. 3 If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will receive you to myself; that where I am, you may be THERE also.”

1 Corinthians 15:51-53 : 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, 52 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 will be changed. 53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.

So, the Rapture is going to be a super natural event. There will be a resurrection of those who have died believing in Jesus as Savior and Lord, even those who may not have spent their life completely following Him, due to so many things warring against their souls (the world, the flesh, and the devil). Of these the Apostle Paul wrote they will stand IN HEAVEN before the Bema Seat (rewards seat) of Christ and His glory will burn away every act they have done since being 'born from above', as if those works were wood, hay, and stubble. [ See 1 Corinthians 3: 10-16 ] Of those who have been being raised up by His Spirit in the Way that they should go, well their works will be looking like gold, silver, and precious stones (they show up in the walls and foundation of the new Jerusalem which descends from Heaven at the end of the Great Tribulation into the new age).

You may be asking yourself at this point 'who' are the Bride of Christ and the 'Bridesmaids' Jesus spoke of in the story of the ten 'virgins' (bridesmaids ... a groom does not come for five to ten brides, but the bride he does come for has a company of bridesmaids who watch for the bridegroom's coming for the Bride). God has made Salvation in Christ so simple that men and women try to add something to it, as if it is too simple. But God's Grace is like that, beyond our comprehension to understand how free it really is! That adding to the simple Grace of God in Christ is why there are so many denominations. But God assures us that ONLY He can save us through His Son, Jesus Christ. Only God can put His holy Spirit cure on us and His life in us.

How do we know this? Well ... When a member of the powerful Jewish Sanhedrin, Nicodemus, came to Jesus one night (snuck in, probably to keep his fellow religious rulers from catching him talking privately to Jesus), Jesus revealed a truth to Nicodemus that had no explanation in the entire Old Testament and Jewish scholars, for more than a thousand years. Jesus referred Nicodemus to an episode involving terrible poisonous snakes, in the desert, after the Hebrews had been led out of Egypt by Moses. [John 3, Jesus referring back to Numbers 21:9 ]

People were being bitten by snakes all over the place where the camp was set up. Moses was instructed by God to make a brass snake and put it on a long pole, and when he held it up, any -and that means ANY- who even looked at the pole believing the Promise of God to cure the bite, well they were healed of the terrible poison! Sin is a poison.

Once we confess our bankrupt state in sin to God and believe in our heart that God through Jesus's sacrifice on the Cross accomplished our payment for being completely unrighteous before a Holy God, well, when we make that confession to God we receive a sentence of 'debt paid in full'. We are, as Jesus told Nicodemus we must be, born from above, born of His Spirit into His family. Any who make that confession are absolutely and forever saved from the death penalty that goes with a sin nature inherited from Adam. We have God's Promise of that salvation. There is no more sure Promise than a Promise from God.

At this stage many will object, asking questions of 'what if' and citing some sin of any degree, from drugs, to sexual immorality, to murder, as if there is some sin that God could not wipe away with the Sacrifice of God as Jesus on the Cross. The quickest way to send such questioning away from your mind is to ask yourself, 'what sin could you commit in the future that would take God by surprise?' If there were some sin that would take God by surprise AFTER you have believed Jesus is your Savior, how limited would God's vision be that He would not know of it well in advance?

The Bible, God's Word to us, tells us that He knows the end even at the beginning, and all that happens from beginning to end, all at the same time. So when God Promises to make you born from above when you believe in Jesus Who was raised up on that cross for our sins (as Jesus showed Nicodemus like the brass snake in the Desert -John 3: 14-15), the Promise is absolute and eternal in reach ... He Promises you are debt free from that moment of glorifying His Son Jesus as your Savior. NOTHING can end that Promise of God. So, who is the Bride of Christ?

Jesus is coming soon for His Bride and the Bridesmaids who have been struggling to keep their lamps lit and trying to stay alert to the return of the Bridegroom for the Bride's party, to go to the Father's House for a wedding and wedding party. [See Matthew 25]

 If ALL who believe Jesus is their Savior are Saved, what are they saved from? It is more than just the penalty for their sins. It is saved from the horrors about to come when God pours out His wrath upon the world that has rejected so simple and Grace-filled Salvation by just believing Jesus is their Savior! The Bible, through Paul and other Apostles who wrote to new Christians, even John in the Revelation, the message is that we who believe are not appointed to that wrath, but to obtain salvation, escape, deliverance from even the hour of that 'time of testing'. [ See Rev 3, the Philadelphia Church ]

If anyone has been paying any attention at all to folks around them in their life, and seen some who have professed faith that Jesus is Savior and Lord, well it is apparent over time that most stray from their faith, and sin, then return to their Lord confessing for forgiveness and cleansing. This old man has been there, done that, got lots of T-shirts for it. But there are others, a few in number, who seem to be especially transformed in their faith in Christ. Their lives change so dramatically that we cannot help but notice they are no longer of the world, no longer taking part in the life they led before being born from above.

These are they who have taken the Promise of God so literally that they grow in Grace and Knowledge. God puts His Holy Spirit seal on ALL who look upon, er, excuse me, in all who have professed belief that Jesus is THEIR Savior and Lord, who have -at any time- called upon Him to save them from their sin nature. But some are not only saved, sealed, born from above, they are daily calling upon God's Holy Spirit IN THEM to raise them up in the way that they should go as newborn members of His family! THESE are the Bride of Christ. There is no way that God is going to let The Bride go through what is coming when the 'man of sin' walks upon the human stage to be absolutely and totally wicked. We get a strong hint of this series of events in 2 Thessalonians 2, where Paul writes to the same group he addressed earlier in 1 Thessalonians 4.

The question that was nagging at the Thessalonian's minds was 'had they missed the Rapture and the terrible “day of the Lord” and God's vengence was building in the Tribulation? Paul told them what to watch for to know that day had not come yet, that first there would be the great departure of all believers, dead and alive (I Thess 4:13-18) and THEN, with the restraining force of the Holy Spirit in believers taken out of the way, then would the man of sin and lawlessness burst forth. [ 2 Thessalonians 2:3 and 8 ] When Paul wrote 'Wherefore, comfort one another with this information because it is directly from The Lord', Paul meant the information should be comforting, to know that they were still in Christ and Christ in them, regardless of the persecutions they were getting. The time of the snatching away and the beginnings of the wrath of God had not come, and would not come until they were departed from the scene as the restraining force of the Holy Spirit in believers is taken out of the way.

And finally, if the question lingers, 'So what must I do to be departed with the believers in the Rapture?' Know this, that IT is as simple as Moses making a brass snake and lifitng it on a pole so that ANY who looked at it and believed the Promise from God, they were healed of the poison. Sin is poison. Believe Jesus is your Savior and you will be healed of that poison, forever, so that no man (or woman, or devil), not even you, can take you out of the two hands of God holding you by His Promise. [ See John 10: 27-29 ] Call upon the Lord and be born again. It is that simple, so simple that even a stiff-necked bunch of grumbling Hebrews in the desert, plagued by snake bite poison, could receive healing.

There is much that I could write about the 'when' and the 'how' of the Rapture, but I will save that for another time, if you want more than this introduction. There is so much that God has for us. May the Grace of God in Christ be with you and deliver you into His truth, and there you may dwell always in the Peace and Power of our Lord, Jesus The Christ.

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