THE RAPTURE SERIES 9: THE COMING OF THE LORD (PART A)

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The “coming of the Lord,” occurs in a threefold manner:

The outline below shows the distinction between each coming:

First Coming

His birth in Bethlehem.

First phase of the Second Coming

His arrival in the clouds of Heaven for the Rapture.

Second phase of the Second Coming

His coming to Israel to rescue His people and to end the rule of Antichrist.

The return of Christ, generally known as His Second Coming, will occur in a two-fold phase. This is not very obvious in the Old Testament because the prophets saw the coming of Jesus as one event. Only when we combine their visions do we get a detailed picture.

We will use Isaiah 61:1 -2 as our example, “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn.”

This statement was made approximately 700 years before Jesus was born. During those seven centuries, nobody claimed to be the anointed one of the Lord because no one could fulfill the requirements of being able to “… bind up the broken hearted” or “proclaim liberty to the captives.” This prophecy could only be fulfilled by Jesus.

In the fourth chapter of Luke we read, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord”(verses 18-19).

Notice that Jesus closes this passage with, “… the acceptable year of the Lord.” Then the next verse says, “And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister and sat down….” Yet Isaiah continues in the same breath, “…To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God….” Thus, we see that the Old Testament prophets viewed the coming of the Messiah as one event. However, Jesus clearly revealed that this one event would be interrupted by grace, “… the acceptable year of the Lord.”

Day Of Vengeance

The prophets proclaimed the coming of the Messiah and gave many details as to how He was to be recognized. Isaiah spoke of the Great Tribulation as “the day of vengeance, ” without mentioning the time of the Church.

The Spirit of God revealed to the writer that Jesus would come and fulfill those prophecies in detail. He would indeed preach salvation to Israel and the nations, but then Isaiah concludes with the words, “… the day of vengeance of our God…” That did not occur at the time of Jesus. Therefore, it stands to reason that a distinct time period would occur between the time of the “acceptable year of the Lord” and “the day of vengeance of our God.”

Today, we are still living in “…the acceptable year of the Lord….” Jesus deliberately stopped at that point. He closed the book and then said something remarkable, “… This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears” (Luke 4:21). This information should be sufficient in showing that Jesus’ coming almost 2,000 years ago is not His only one. He will come again!

We have previously read the words of the prophet Isaiah, but there is no harm done in reading them again, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising” (Isaiah 60:1-3).

These three verses make a powerful but simple statement: Israel saw the light. However, the ultimate fulfillment of that prophecy did not take place, “… the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.” This most certainly is in the future.

We know from history that the Jews were the most persecuted, despised, and rejected people and no evidence is found that His glory was visible upon them nationally. Israel rejected the Messiah. They cried, “…Away with him. ..crucify him!” They said, “We have no king but Caesar.” This short statement has profound significance. They are not empty words, but they are the result of the continuous rebellion against the Living God which can be seen in Israel’s determined desire to be integrated into the nations of the world even today. Let’s look at history.

Israel Requests Equality

In Samuel’s time, Israel had collectively requested that a king rule over them instead of God. They desired to be equal with the surrounding nations. We read in 1st Samuel 8:4-5, “Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” This intense decision did not reflect on Samuel and his disobedient sons, but on Israel’s democratic rejection of the leadership of God, who told Samuel, “. ..they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them” (verse 7).

After Samuel had listed the disadvantages of having a king rule over them we read, “Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles” (verses 19-20).

Before Samuel died, again he testified to the people and reminded them of their mistake, “…ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the LORD your God was your king” (1st Samuel 12:12). We must emphasize this event because it marks the first time Israel expressed her desire to be equal with the nations of the world.

This has so much to do with the Rapture because the Rapture finalizes the election of God’s spiritual people on earth and therefore relates to the election of God’s heavenly people, the Church.

We have already dealt with the subject of separation and integration and learned that the Church, consisting of born-again believers, must be separated from the world.

Through the separation of the children of Israel, God brought forth His only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Ironically, this separation was recognized by the heathen prophet Balaam. He answered Balak, “. ..lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations” (Numbers 23:9). Today, this remains a sore point for Israel and the world. Our modern society does not tolerate segregation, and insists that no one is special. Equality is the gospel of the end times and it is “politically correct” to treat all nations, races, and religions equally.

However, one nation is different: Israel. She, in fact, will not be counted equally with all nations of the world. At this point, that is exactly what modern Israel wants; she seeks equality and will obtain it. This will lead to the most successful integration the world has ever seen. But it’s only temporary.

Jesus Condemned By The World

When the first church was persecuted, a significant statement exposing Israel’s union with the nations was uttered in prayer , “For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together’ ‘(Acts 4:27). The enemies of Christ are listed as: Herod, a half-Jew; Pontius Pilate, a Roman; the Gentiles; and Israel. In a united front they opposed the Lord Jesus Christ at His first coming!

We can easily imagine that at the Second Coming of Christ, the nations will reject Him as prophesied. The Gentile nations, “… and the people of Israel were gathered together.” It is impossible for Israel to accept the Antichrist unless someone comes forward looking like the real Messiah of Israel.

Unbelief In Prophecy

So much was prophesied in the Old Testament about the coming Messiah. Yet when the time came for Jesus’ birth in the prophesied town of Bethlehem in Judea, no preparations were being made in Jerusalem for the birth of the King. It is only mentioned that some Gentiles from the east came to Jerusalem to announce His birth. “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem” (Matthew 2:1). They asked the right question to the right people in the right place, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him” (verse 2). The fact that Jerusalem was unprepared and Jesus came to the world unexpectedly is evident from the next verse, “When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him” (Verse 3).

What was King Herod to do? From historic writings, we know that he was paranoid, extremely fearful and took excessive precaution for his security. Then he heard of these foreigners who were coming from far away to announce the birth of a new King of the Jews. Naturally, Herod found this intimidating because He was the King of the Jews. If another was born, Herod would no longer be king.

Prophecy Fulfilled, But Not Believed

The king called his advisers, “And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born” (Verse 4). Herod asked the right people, for they knew the Scripture, read the prophets, and studied the Word of God.

He received an immediate answer, “… they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of ]uda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel” (Verses 5-6). This is as plain as day, the King born in Bethlehem was to rule Israel.

When we continue to read about this event, we notice something very strange. There is no report of the chief priests or scribes going to Bethelehem to witness the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. This proves that these “Bible believers” grasped the prophetic Scripture intellectually but had no living faith to produce action.

Again, we highlight the fact that the tangible fulfillment of Bible prophecy, the miraculous announcement of the birth of Jesus Christ, and the signs in the heavenly constellation did not produce living faith, but rather, unbelief.

Believing Prophecy Is Required

I take this opportunity once again to emphasize that no matter how great your experience is with the Lord, how many of your prayers have been answered, how often you have been healed, how many prophetic utterances you proclaim in the church, or how frequently you have the gift of healing the sick, it is all insignificant compared with the simple faith that Jesus is who He says He is.

He poured out His blood on Calvary’s cross for our sins, was buried, arose the third day, and ascended to Heaven with the clear message that He will come again. This knowledge does not come from any experience we may have had or from seminary training, nor can we obtain it through any other educational process. This knowledge comes from the living Word of God, the Bible!

The Suffering Servant

The New Testament describes the fulfillment of Isaiah 53 in detail. To reinforce this fact, let’s read just a few verses of this beautiful Messianic chapter, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows, yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:3-5).

He did not protest, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth”‘(verse 7).

He was crucified between two criminals and buried in the tomb of a rich man, “And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth” (verse 9).

Faith In The Word

It insults our Lord when we desire special confirmation or supernatural manifestation in order to validate the truths of the written Word. As believers, we can completely trust every detail in the Bible.

When we come across places in Scripture which we do not understand, or which may seem contradictory, we can be assured that God does not lie. Scripture supports Scripture and it is only because of our limited intellect that we fail to grasp the deeper truths presented in the Bible.

Jesus was despised and rejected at His first coming. Pouring out His blood, He died on Calvary’s cross and became “…the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

While Jesus was on earth, He promised that He would come again, “…I will come again, and receive you unto myself…” (John 14:3), “…I go away, and come again unto you… ” (John 14:28). Jesus desires to be with us; He purchased us with His own blood! Just think, if you make a purchase, don’t you want the product? How much more does our Lord Jesus Christ, who loved us so much that He gave His life so He might receive us unto Himself? Read His prayer in John 17:24, “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” The announcement of His return is indisputably clear in the Scriptures.

Rapture Is Not The Last Resurrection

The Church of Jesus Christ, consisting of those who have died in Him and those who are still alive at the moment of the Rapture, “…shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air…” (1st Thessalonians 4:17). This can’t be made any clearer, and should not be misunderstood.

Yet some say that this verse speaks about the last resurrection when all people will stand before the white throne of judgment. The Bible does not teach that we will see Jesus at the Great White Throne. Revelation 20:11 says, “… I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.” This is the ultimate judgment of all those who have rejected salvation in Jesus Christ.

Even the dead will be resurrected, as the next verse indicates, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God….” Again, there is no Lamb of God, no grace, no more salvation, only judgment. That will be the most horrible time for those who must stand before the throne of God. Undoubtedly, they will know they could have been saved, but will now realize that it is too late; there is no escape. Verse 13 categorically states, “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” This judgment leads to condemnation. The result is described with the words, “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (verses 14-15).

The resurrection that we read of in 1st Thessalonians 4 has no relation to the one mentioned in Revelation 20. The Church “…shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (verse 17).

(MAIN SOURCE: The Great Mystery of the Rapture – Arno Froese – 1999)

THE RAPTURE SERIES 8: WHICH IS THE REAL CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST?

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We have noted that 1st Thessalonians 4 was specifically addressed to the Church. One requirement for the Rapture is evident in verse 14, “…if we believe that Jesus died and rose again….” Those who do not believe that Jesus died and rose again obviously are not waiting for His coming in the clouds of Heaven because they are not born again.

Which Denomination Represents The Real Church?

Today many denominations are found under the umbrella of Protestantism, including: Methodist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Baptist, Lutheran, and many others, all of whom consider themselves to be the Church of Jesus Christ. This presents a problem as there are some glaring differences among the doctrine and theology of these Christian denominations.

One denomination states that everyone who is baptized as a baby is automatically born again and therefore, is a member of the Church. Others say there is a special second baptism of the Holy Spirit which must be experienced in order to finalize our salvation. Which, then, is the “real” Church?

The word “church” no longer means the same thing it did almost 2,000 years ago. When we hear the word “church,” we think of a building where people gather once, twice, three times or more a week for fellowship, worship, singing, and praying. However, that does not qualify any group of people or denomination to be considered the Church of Jesus Christ. Who then comprises the true Church? The answer is rather simple: Jesus stated, “… where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.” That is the Church of Jesus Christ! Therefore, any local church, denomination, or group of people who claim to be the exclusive representatives of the true Church of Jesus Christ on earth is fundamentally wrong.

The Catholic Church is the most powerful denomination in the world. We need to understand that the organizational structure of the Catholic Church claims absolute jurisdiction over Christianity.

This self-claimed monopoly on salvation can be found as the basic belief of all false religions, whether they are Mormons, Moonies, Jehovah Witnesses, Adventists, or others; all have a similar message. “We are the absolute authority in the Christian religion and we are the way.”

The Church Is An Organism

If two or three believers born again of the Spirit of God exist in any local church, then the true Church of Jesus Christ may be found within that particular church building. The moment that there are not any true believers found in a church, the Church of Jesus Christ is not present. They should be considered a supper club, entertainment spot, or cultural center, but not the true Church.

In order to be organized and to obey the laws of our government, we must be registered as a church. We need an infrastructure, programs, staff, equipment, and proper facilities to function. However, we may have all of the above listed essentials, and yet not necessarily represent “the” Church of Jesus Christ.

The Church Is His Body

Ephesians 1:23 refers to the Church of Jesus Christ as, “His body.” Jesus is the head and we are the members. Chapter 5:30 further explains, “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” Notice that it says, “his flesh, and of his bones.” This cannot be applied to the living members of His Church because our earthly composition is not described as “flesh and bones” but “flesh and blood.”

Jesus poured out His blood as full payment for all of our sins. His flesh and bones were transformed at the moment of His resurrection. He testified to His unbelieving disciples, “Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39). Remember that when He was crucified, His bones were not broken. Through His broken flesh, He opened the way to the Holy of Holies, “By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh” (Hebrews 10:20). At the moment of the Rapture, and not before, we will be instantaneously translated into His likeness!

First Corinthians 12:12-13 reads, “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” Based on these scriptural facts, we can easily recognize that there is no direct relationship to any organization or denomination.

The true Church of Jesus Christ is a living movement, a channel of blessing from which the Word of God issues forth into the outermost parts of the world. Evidence of a prospering church is where faith is growing, and its primary concern is preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Task Of The Church

Believers from around the world, no matter what their nationality, race, or color, have become citizens of Heaven: “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). No one can obtain this privileged citizenship by any other means than by trusting Jesus alone as his or her personal Saviour.

In addition, the exclusive responsibility of building the Church is not in the hands of a denomination or a community, but exactly as Jesus prophesied, “…I will build my church…” (Matthew 16:18). Not only is Jesus the Creator but He is the very foundation of our faith, “[We] are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone ” (Ephesians 2:20). The Church, consisting of all of its members worldwide, will complete the spiritual temple of God, “In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Verses 21-22).

Invisible Church

This great mystery of the Church of Jesus Christ is often misunderstood because there is no visible proof of the existence of the true Church. We cannot present a membership list of all who are truly born again. Nor can we show the progress of this spiritual temple to anyone. No wonder so many liberal theologians who have abandoned the faith of the Lord talk about a world-wide church that needs to be organized and visibly manifested through various movements such as the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR),  the World Council of Churches, the Ecumenical Movement, or the Vatican. These and many other unity-seeking movements and organizations do not represent the Church of Jesus Christ.

The danger of deception does not lie in the obvious but is camouflaged so that it often becomes difficult to analyze who the true Church is. Not only is the Ecumenical Movement hard at work in uniting various church denominations, but the visible unity-seeking spirit of the end times goes much further. Such ‘unity’ will prevail among all religions under the Antichrist.

The Spirit of God does not tolerate a mixture of truth and lies. The Spirit corresponds precisely with the written Word. Whenever someone claims to have a special message from God, we must carefully check that message against the Bible. Even well-intended, pro-Gospel statements are not necessarily the works of the Holy Spirit. In our day, many will fall for virtually anything that seems spiritual and is loosely connected to some verse in Scripture. When questioned, supporters of these false teachers say, “It can’t be of the devil, they are preaching the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

We should learn that not all things that seem good are Christian, but they may be the works of the great deceiver. It is however, not our task to eagerly search for mistakes that fellow Christians may make and identify them as “works of deception” or even as the “devil’s work.” Jumping the gun is not necessarily the work of the Spirit of God either.

Dispensation Of The Church

The Church, contrary to Israel, has a limited amount of time. To be more precise, our time lies between the rejection and the re-acceptance of Israel. Today, we are witnessing Israel coming back to her land where they have established a powerful, prosperous nation.

But until this day, Israel is still blind to her Messiah for our sake, “As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes” (Romans 11:28).

For the first time in 2,000 years Israel has become a sovereign nation. As believers, we should recognize this as a great end time sign, if not the greatest, for the Church to be ready for the Rapture.

It is impossible for anyone to deny the reality of the Israeli nation any longer, not even her Arab enemies or those who follow the evil of Replacement theology. This is an unprecedented sign in history, and a special sign of the times for the Church. Jesus told us, “… when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28). He is not necessarily encouraging us to be alert and to watch for signs of the Great Tribulation or the coming of the Antichrist, but rather to “Look up” for our redemption and our Redeemer!

The Church continued to grow, and the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is being proclaimed in the outermost parts of the world. Those who believe in Him are born again, and they become lively stones in this spiritual temple. The moment the last gentile is added, the spiritual house is complete and will be raptured into the presence of the Lord!

Light Of The World

Another vital task for the Church is to be a light in a dark world. Philippians 2:15 reads, “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.”

Jesus says, “Ye are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). We must not misunderstand this important statement because Jesus said of Himself, “I am the light of the world.” He is the ultimate Light. Notice that He did not say “ye have the light of the world” but “ye are the light of the world.” This “light” is not physically visible in any way. In other words, we cannot see this light with our physical eyes. The news media cannot come to our churches and report about the light they have seen. The light to which the Lord is referring is a spiritual matter and can only be understood spiritually. Only when a person is born again can he see the light, and subsequently the future kingdom of God.

John 3:3 makes this very clear, “… Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

When Jesus walked on the earth, both friends and enemies recognized who He was without any publicity campaign. He did not have promoters, booking agents, press secretaries, or a media staff. His being radiated the glory of God and touched those who were in darkness because they saw the light. His light exposed the sins of those with whom He came in contact. Even the devils cried out, “… What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God?” (Matthew 8:29).

Fruit Of The Spirit

My dear friend, if you are born again, you are light. Don’t hide the light behind your own flesh and blood. In other words, don’t place yourself in front of the light in that you show off what a great person you are. The works of the flesh, which we have already identified, are the hindering element in letting your light shine. Examine yourself before the countenance of God as to whether or not your light is shining!

How can you know that your light is shining? Through the exhibition of the fruit of the Spirit, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law ” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Our Works

Often, our problem is that we reverse Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” We are not to promote our works for the Lord for our glory. Naturally we like to do that. Jesus plainly tells us in the correct order that first we should “let your light so shine.” We have mentioned that the light is the “fruit of the spirit.” When people recognize this light, they “see your good works.” Therefore, don’t show off your good works because you will hinder the light: rather, let the “fruit of the spirit” be on permanent display in your life so a direct vision of the Word will fall by those who are in darkness and, as a result, they “will glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

Light Shines Best When Dark

Believers frequently complain about the terrible times in which we live and the darkness coming upon this world. That may be true, but remember, light shines brightest in the darkest places. To illustrate this point, look up. You will not see a star in the sky during the day, but in the darkness of the night, stars shine brightly!

The prophet Isaiah spoke of the contrast between darkness and light, ’Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee” (Isaiah 60:1-2). While this is specifically addressed to the children of Israel, we know that spiritually it addresses the Church as well. These verses have not been fulfilled for Israel nationally because the Lord’s glory is not seen upon Israel in this day.

A “gross darkness” is indeed covering the entire earth, a darkness to the truth of the precious liberating Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thankfully, this darkness has been removed from the eyes of millions who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Each of us who believes has experienced the fulfillment of Isaiah 60:3, “… the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.”

Isaiah’s prophecy continues in the next verse and has yet to be fulfilled to its fullest extent. “Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side” (Isaiah 60:4- 5).

Summarizing, the Church of Jesus Christ cannot be identified with a denomination, a local church, or a group of people, but it consists exclusively of individual born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Church does not have an address, a nationality or a political identity. No one can determine the number of Her members. Yet the Church is a powerful, living reality surpassing everything that is of this world.

In recent years, we have experienced the revelation of the Church behind the former Iron Curtain. While virtually nothing of the Church has been visible in communist countries, we have suddenly seen great activity in the most unexpected places. Believers are gathering in fellowship, praising God, teaching the Word, and waiting for the coming of Jesus. China, where extreme strict measures have been taken against any religion, has particularly surprised us. No one can confirm that number, but we do know the Church is alive and well, even during the greatest oppression man has ever seen. As the true Church continues to prosper and grow daily, the Lord is adding those who believe to His body and when the fullness of the Gentiles comes in, the moment of the Rapture will arrive.

(MAIN SOURCE: The Great Mystery of the Rapture – Arno Froese – 1999)

THE RAPTURE SERIES 7: THE COMFORT OF THE RAPTURE

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The Bible clearly describes the event of the Rapture in 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18. The apostle Paul emphasizes that the message is “… by the word of the Lord.” He concludes with an admonition that we “comfort one another” with these words.

It is very easy to imagine just how necessary and comforting it was for believers, being severely persecuted to hear that the Lord could come at any moment. They needed that type of reassurance because they knew that the result was their being in the presence of the Lord forever!

The Disciples’ Belief About The Return Of Jesus Christ

The apostles thought that Christ’s return was imminent. Webster defines the word “imminent” as ready to occur at any moment. The apostles fully expected Jesus to return in their lifetimes. These quotes from the New Testament show this very clearly.

Peter: “… The end of all things is at hand…” (1st Peter 4:7)

John: “.. .Little children, it is the last time…” (1st John 2:18)

James: “…the coming of the Lord draweth nigh…” (James 5:8)

James: “… behold the judge standeth before the door…” (James 5:9)

Paul: “..Maranatha (come Lord Jesus)…” (1st Corinthians 16:22)

The apostles repeatedly used the word “we” when they wrote about the Rapture. Their use of the word “we” indicates that they fully expected to be a part of the body of Christ that would be alive at the Rapture.

“… now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.” -1st John 2:28 “… we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” -1st John 3:2

In his second letter to the church at Thessalonica, the apostle Paul stated that Christians both alive and dead would be “raptured” or “caught up in the clouds” at Christ’s return. He called these two groups, “we which are alive” and “them which are asleep.” Paul always included himself in the group which would be alive. This again indicates that he expected to be alive at the Rapture. “… which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (precede) them which are asleep (the dead in Christ)” (1st Thessalonians 4:15).

“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them (the dead in Christ) in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” ( 1st Thessalonians 14:17).

“… We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1st Corinthians 15:51-52).

From these verses, I think it is correct to say that the apostle Paul believed in the Pre-tribulation Rapture of the Church. The apostles suffered much persecution and most of them were killed, but they also knew that the Great Tribulation spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 24 & 25 had not occurred.

Old Testament Prophecies About The Rapture

The Old Testament contains several prophecies concerning the Resurrection and the Rapture.

“For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God” (Job 19:25-26).

“Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead” (Isaiah 26:19).

Both of these Old Testament writers lived hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus. Unlike the apostles, they knew that the Rapture would not occur in their lifetimes.” (Taken from Timing of the Rapture by James E. Robinson, reader of Midnight Call magazine)

Our Comfort

Therefore, we must recognize what our comfort is and where we can find it. Paul is concerned that as believers, we should not be “ignorant brethren.” We are to know what happened to our loved ones who died believing in Jesus. While those who do not believe in Christ have absolutely no hope, we do have hope. As a result, we do not remain in sorrow and hopelessness, but we have comfort. Those who have gone before us in the Lord are now in His presence!

Paul testifies, “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better” (Philippians 1:23). Notice that he does not say “to depart and sleep in Christ” but rather, “…to depart and to be with Christ— ” Those who believe in “soul sleep” are probably very uncomfortable with this verse.

Lying Signs And Wonders

Reading the literature of Buddhists, Moslems, Hindus and others, we frequently find testimony of great miracles, supernatural signs, and healing of the body As a matter of fact, I believe that the very tools that Satan is using to deceive the world today are in the form of lying signs and wonders. In 2nd Thessalonians 2:9-10, we read this description of Antichrist, “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”

It is important that you understand that if someone performs a miracle, even done in the name of Jesus, he is not necessarily a Christian. Remember, Satan is transformed into an angel of light for the sole purpose of deceiving the multitudes in order to hide the true way to Christ.

A decisive quality in the life of a Christian is the fruit of the Spirit.

The Lord Jesus said, “… by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20).

False Christians

As a matter of fact, Jesus identifies a certain group of people who look like Christians, act like Christians, and talk like Christians, but are not Christians. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?” (Matthew 7:21-22). Jesus is not referring to pagans who worship idols, or are involved in some strange religion. He is speaking of those who, in the name of the Lord, do mighty things such as prophesying, casting out devils, and “many wonderful works.” But Jesus refuses their testimony, “… then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:23).

These verses are extremely serious. We must take the time and exert the energy to investigate our own personal lives before the countenance of the Lord to see whether we stand in the truth or not.

He Must Know You

Consider the following. Some people have experienced amazing works, can testify of great miracles and eagerly work for the Lord whom they believe they serve in truth and sincerity. Yet, one day when they stand before Him, He will utter the words, “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Can you afford to take that risk? Be absolutely sure that Jesus knows you!

Notice that this passage does not say “you never knew ME,” but, “I never knew YOU.”

Dr. John Ankerberg, a speaker at prophecy conferences, has illustrated this fact in a very impressive way which I will paraphrase: Many American citizens have had the opportunity to participate in an event in which a president was the guest of honor. It is customary that the President shakes hands with a great number of people, and each has a picture taken. Let’s say I shook the hand of the President. With a picture of that event in my hand, I can say, “I know him; I shook his hand; I saw him; I talked with him” which would be a truthful statement. However, if you were to ask the President if he knew John Ankerberg, he would say “I never heard of him, I never met the man.” There is a distinct difference between me knowing the President and the President knowing me!

Therefore, you must ask yourself an urgent question: How can you be sure that Jesus knows you? The answer is only found in His Word!

(MAIN SOURCE: The Great Mystery of the Rapture – Arno Froese – 1999)

 

THE RAPTURE SERIES 6: THE CHURCH’S ROLE

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Pentecost

In order to fully understand the position of the Church, we begin with the birth of the Church. Acts 2 records that approximately 120 devout Jews “… were all with one accord in one place” {Acts 2:1). There is no question that there was perfect unity among this group. As we read on, we see that “…suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them” (verses 2-3). This documents the birth of the Church of Jesus Christ, in a one-time event.

The Abiding Spirit

The disciples were already believers at that time, however, they were not born again of the Spirit of God. Jesus said to His disciples, “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knowth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:17). Notice that Jesus says, “For he (the Spirit) dwelleth with you.” Before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon a person to fulfill a certain task. Thus, the Holy Spirit was with the disciples but not “in” them.

Verse 17 reveals that He “shall be in you.” This prophetic word from the Lord Jesus to His disciples was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost!

What Greater Works?

When we understand the significance of the rebirth, the statement that Jesus made in John 14:12 begins to make sense. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” How is it possible for us to do “greater works” than the Lord did? What are these works that are supposed to be so great? They obviously must surpass opening the eyes of the blind, the ears of the deaf, causing the lame to walk, and raising the dead to life.

The answer is relatively easy when we understand that these people who were healed by the Lord, or raised from the dead, did not continue to live forever. They are no longer among us, just as the Bible declares, “It is appointed unto man once to die.”

When the Lord said we will be doing “greater works,” He was speaking of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit leading to the new birth resulting in the reborn person becoming an eternal person! By our preaching the Gospel, people will be born again. That is indeed greater works! This is our God-given responsibility. Whether by praying, by going to the mission field, or by giving, we are preaching the liberating Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to the outermost parts of the earth so that many more will be born again and added to the kingdom of God.

The First Church

The first Church was so rare and so segregated that there was no question regarding her identification. Its uniqueness was based on perfect unity. After reading the first few chapters of the book of Acts, we can almost with certainty conclude that the early Church believed in the establishment of the visible kingdom of God on earth in Israel at that time. Acts 4:34 seems to support this: “Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were posssessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold.” Of course, sharing of possessions didn’t last, as we will see later.

Is The Church God’s Kingdom On Earth?

How would you like to join a church today that expects you to sell everything you have, regardless of how much, and donate it all to the church? Few of us would be willing to do so. God almost certainly intended to establish the kingdom of God on earth through the Church in Jerusalem at that time. It would seem natural for the early Church to strive towards the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth because they were all Jews residing in the land of Israel and were indeed waiting for the imminent return of Jesus.

We all know that this did not happen. As a matter of fact, it was against God’s will. By establishing this new communal system for the Church, they neglected to obey the commandment of the Lord to go out from Jerusalem into Samaria and to the outermost parts of the world. Thus, persecution was the tool that God used to get the first Church to obey His instruction. This is evident from Acts 8:1, “…at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad….”

For this reason, we warn about the various religious groups which require their members to surrender all of their worldly possessions to their leaders or the organization. This is completely contrary to God’s intention for the individual. The Church is not composed of the kingdom of God on earth; it does not have a physical, geographical or political promise to do so.

Segregation And Infiltration

There is a distinct difference between Israel and the Church: Israel was to be united as a special, peculiar people segregated from the rest of the world. On the other hand, the Church was to infiltrate the entire world, preaching loudly and clearly that Jesus saves and that He is coming again!

In the beginning, the Church continued to grow. Acts 6:7 says, “And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multipled in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith.” Jerusalem was the holy city for the Church, yet the rest of the world remained in darkness.

We know from the report given in the Acts of the Apostles that great persecution happened next. From that point on, the early Christians were chased by their enemies to every corner of the earth and they preached the Gospel wherever they went. God fulfilled His intentions through the enemies of the Church!

Having finally reached Rome, the apostle Paul reported, “To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ. First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world” (Romans 1:7-8). The persecution of the Church flamed the fire of the Gospel so it encompassed the world!

A Holy Nation

For almost 2,000 years, the Word of God has been proclaimed and millions have been added to the Church worldwide. Israel is the visible manifestation of God’s selection on earth. However, the Church is in the world but not of the world; it is not an organization but a living organism. In biblical terms, it is the body of Christ.

The Church is not a visible entity, yet it is everywhere. First Peter 2:9 states, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” The Church cannot be identified despite the fact that she is a “holy nation;” on the other hand, Israel can be identified.

Universities, colleges, and seminaries are filled with books about the history of the Church; however, no one can scientifically explain the Church of Jesus Christ. No geographical, political or cultural boundaries identify the extent of the Church.

The Church In Danger Of Annihilation

Because the Church has no earthly parameters, and consists of individual members who walk among people of all races and nationalities, the Church is in danger too, just as Israel is in uniting with the world.

It is no wonder that the Church is continuously admonished not to be part of this world. Romans 12:2 warns, “… be not conformed to this world; but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”

James also supports this statement when he says, “. ..know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). John compassionately cautions us, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him, For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1st John 2:15-16). Clearly, we are in the world but not of the world. We walk among the people of this world with no physical or visual distinction between us. We are citizens from every country on the face of the earth; nevertheless, we are different! As Christians, we have no promise of an abiding place on this earth because we are destined for Heaven.

The danger in which the Church finds herself lies in the possibility of being integrated into the world which is contrary to the instructions given in the verses we just read.

These days the spirit of integration is so strong that it will become virtually impossible to keep our identity as Christians. Therefore, it becomes important to realize that God must interfere supernaturally by taking the entire Church out of this world. It will happen in the twinkling of an eye. We will be heading toward the clouds of Heaven to meet the Lord in the air which is another reason for the Rapture.

Persecution Or Integration?

The greatest threat to the Church of Jesus Christ will not be persecution as many think, but rather it will be a friendly, tender, and peaceful invitation to be part of the great global church which will encompass all the religions of the world.

Let us learn from Israel, which, as we have discussed, is to be separate, holy, and not part of this world. Likewise, we, the Church of Jesus Christ, must not be integrated into this world. The entire world, as far as economy, finance, politics, and religion are concerned, is undeniably becoming one. There is absolutely no escape for the Church except by the shout of the archangel and the trump of God which will call us to our heavenly home!

The false peace and prosperity in modern history, paves the way for the rise and rulership of the Antichrist. Today we are seeing many businesses merging with other businesses. This process is advantageous for all of us but it will lead to a united global world which ultimately will be controlled by one man, the beast called Antichrist.

Self-Declared God

We know from Scripture that the Antichrist will declare himself to be God, sitting in the temple of God commanding worship.

This is not at all unusual. The popular message being proclaimed by todays “teachers” is that man is able to become some type of god. Not only do we hear this from other religions, but it is coming out of the mouths of the “professing” Church of Jesus Christ as well! It may be hard to believe, but many preachers are proclaiming such heresy.

The answer for the Church is the Lord Jesus Christ whose sudden appearance in the clouds of Heaven will prevent total integration of the Church into the world.

To summarize, Israel and the Church are two distinct entities; Israel has an earthly calling and the Church has a heavenly calling. Israel has an unmistakable geographical promise which they will have to claim possession of in due time. On the other hand, the Church has been given no such promise. The Church is a “chosen nation” with no political identity whose task is to be a light to the world and to proclaim that Jesus alone saves and that He is coming again!

(MAIN SOURCE: The Great Mystery of the Rapture – Arno Froese – 1999)

THE RAPTURE SERIES 5: ISRAEL’S ROLE

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THE RAPTURE SERIES 5: ISRAEL’S ROLE

Israel is God’s chosen nation but will not be raptured.

Our Blessed Hope

The Rapture is an orthodox doctrine which cannot be denied. The purpose of this part of our series is to encourage the Church to believe in the words of Jesus, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself that where I am, there ye may be also ” (John 14:1-3) Therefore, we joyfully await the Lord! The apostle Paul warns believers to be “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). Therefore, based on the Scripture, we believe in the immanency of the Rapture!

The Necessity Of Faith

Some claim that since you cannot humanly explain something, it does not exist. Such conclusions are faulty because the Bible says, “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2nd Corinthians 4:18).

The Bible is a book of faith, and only to the extent that we are willing to subject our intellect to the authority of the Holy Scriptures are we able to understand its message. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” This verse speaks in scientific and legal terms: Faith is “substance” and “evidence.”

For this very reason, it is futile to argue the doctrine of the Rapture with those who deny the absolute authority of the Holy Scriptures. The apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians in the simplest of terms and listed only one condition when he described the coming Rapture, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again…” (1st Thessalonians 4:14). Therefore, if we do not believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus, we cannot be born again. As a result, we will not be raptured.

Israel: The End time Sign

When we talk about the Rapture, we must realize that this is not an isolated event concerning only the Church of Jesus Christ, nor is it a doctrine established only in the New Testament. That is far from the truth. We notice from many passages, Romans 11 in particular, that the Church of Jesus Christ mainly consists of Gentiles and is actually part of Israel; we are organically one. The Bible clearly supports the position of the Gentiles with the following words, “… wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?” (verse 24). Verse 17 gives further clarification, “…thou, being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them, and with them par-takest of the root and fatness of the olive tree.”

Since the olive tree represents Israel, the Gentiles who believe in Jesus have been joined with Israel, making us one. When the Rapture takes place, it will undoubtedly affect Israel, as we will see later on.

This organic unity is also emphasized in Ephesians 2:12, “That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” And of course, we must not forget to mention Ephesians 3:6, “That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.” Therefore, if part of the promise was addressed to the Church from among the Gentiles, we can conclude that Israel must be the greatest end-time sign for the Church and that the Rapture is close at hand. With that in mind, let us take a closer look at Israel.

Israel To Be Separate

Very few seem to realize that the union of the Jews and Gentiles clearly violates God’s order. According to Deuteronomy 14:2, Israel cannot be integrated into the nations of the world, “For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth.” God set the Jews apart, “above all other nations.” They are chosen for God’s purpose. If Satan, the prince of this world, who is also called the god of this world, is successful in mixing the Jews with the Gentiles, then he can eradicate the Jews, dissolving them in the ocean of Gentiles, ruining God’s promises. We know from the Bible that in the end, Satan will not succeed. The Lord will see to it that Israel will be saved out of this terrible coming day, the Great Tribulation.

Israel Failed To Separate

From reading the Old Testament, we know that Israel failed to completely fulfill this commandment of God. For as long as Joshua lived, the people followed the Lord’s instruction to destroy their enemies. However, after Joshua died, we read over and over in the book of Judges that the tribes of Israel did not completely drive out the enemies from within their allotted territory. We arrive at this conclusion based on the following examples:

• Judah and Simeon “… could not drive out the inhabitants of the valley…” (Judges 1:19).
• “And the children of Benjamin did not drive out the Jebusites that inhabited Jerusalem…” Judges 1:21)
• “Neither did Manasseh drive out the inhabitants of Bethshean…” (Judges 1:27).
• “… when Israel was strong… they put the Canaanites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out” (Judges 1:28).

Israel failed to execute God’s commandment. This has carried over to the present problem in the Middle East and is nothing other than the result of Israel’s disobedience, even thousands of years ago! Israel deliberately refused to separate herself from the nations and has continuously allowed some degree of integration.

Israel Failed To Receive The Kingdom Of God

In the fullness of time, Jesus, Son of God and Messiah came and proclaimed that the kingdom of God was at hand. Finally, Israel had the opportunity to be a unique nation above all others as a visible testimony to the heathen.

John the Baptist, the herald of the coming Messiah, proclaimed,
“…Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2). John did not come out with this statement of his own initiative, but quoted the prophetic Scripture, “For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (Matthew 3:3). When Jesus was baptized by John, we hear the heavenly Father’s confirmation, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17).

Fulfilled Prophecy

It is fascinating to notice that all of these events took place in accordance with the prophetic Word, “… that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet…” (Matthew 1:22). Even the religious people who in reality did not wait for the coming of the Messiah had to confess, “…for thus it is written by the prophet” (Matthew 2:5). In verse 15 we read, “… that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet….” And in verse 17, “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet…”When His parents had settled in Nazareth, we read, “… that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene” (Verse 23). Jesus came to fulfill the perfect will of God the Father. The New Testament repeatedly testifies of His works as being the fulfillment of prophecy.

The scribes, the Pharisees, and the other religious authorities should have recognized that Jesus was the Messiah, but they did not. Why not? Because prophecy had to be fulfilled. Matthew 13:14-15 bears witness that, “…in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” The Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ, was in their midst! However, Israel stumbled, and the Jews fell deeply into unbelief because they had wanted the kingdom and the king on their own terms!

Israel Isolated Through Judgment

After the children of Israel refused to obey God and keep His commandments, which would have separated them from the heathen nations around them, God used the nations as a tool of judgment to separate the Jews from their land and scatter them across the entire world!

Since the destruction of the Temple by the Roman forces in A.D. 70, the Jews have been severely persecuted throughout the world.

Volumes have been written about the horrible suffering of the Jewish people during the course of the last 2,000 years.

God ordained them to be distinctly identified, isolated, and separated: not for the purpose of uniqueness in a positive sense, but often for discrimination, oppression and even death.

Israel’s Miraculous Birth

Through Hitler’s Nazi killing machine, more than six million Jews perished, not because of any crime or wrongdoing on their part, but simply because they were Jews. They were different!

It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to understand why God permitted such horrifying judgment upon His chosen people. Many have asked the question without receiving a definite answer. All we know is that Israel arose immediately after the Holocaust and became a nation. The horrible injustices suffered by the Jewish people contributed to the United Nations’ decision to grant them the right to establish a homeland in the territory named by the British-Palestine.

At the beginning the Jews and Arabs lived together in relative harmony in the Holy Land. However, with the founding of the state of Israel on May 14, 1948, and the wars that followed as a result, Israel became divided from her Arab neighbors. The division of these two groups caused the world to pressure Israel into compromise regarding the coexistence between them and the Arab-Palestinians.

Even today, Israel still desires peaceful coexistence with all the Arabs, and undoubtedly, this division will be dealt with in a democratic fashion so that one day Israel will live in peace with all of her Arab neighbors. It must be stressed, however, that this peace will only be temporary because it is a false peace.

Israel’s Uniqueness

We deliberately emphasize Israel’s position in relation to the Church and the Gentile nations so that we may understand why it is necessary in these end times to expect a supernatural intervention. God must fulfill His Word; “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth” (Deuteronomy 14:2). How can God make Israel a special, chosen people above all the nations of the world if they are expected to become one with the world?

Now that we are witnessing the integration of the Jews with the nations of the world, we are forced to ask, “How much longer will it be until God must supernaturally interfere in order to maintain the national identity of His chosen people?”

Israel: The Origin Of The Church

Many readers might be asking, “Does Israel have a direct relationship with the Church and the Rapture?” The answer is “yes” because Israel has been given to us as an example. Therefore, we must also analyze the Church in regard to her chosen position as a separate identity, using Israel as our pattern! This will be done in part 6 of our series.

(MAIN SOURCE: The Great Mystery of the Rapture – Arno Froese – 1999)

 

THE RAPTURE SERIES 4: THEN WE WHICH ARE ALIVE

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“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1st Thessalonians 4:16-17).
What a tremendous encouragement! We will meet the Lord and then be with Him forever. This is a fundamental teaching in the Holy Scriptures. This should remind us of the Lord’s invitation, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest ” (Matthew 11:28). The next to the last verse in our Bible reads, “… Surely I come quickly, Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20). Those who have accepted His invitation now desire His coming, which is expressed throughout the entire Bible.

For almost 2,000 years, believers in Christ have yearned for the experience described in the above verses. This unique, one-time event in the Church of Jesus Christ has not yet happened. Before and during this event, which will take place suddenly, and without announcement, the news media will be silent. However, they will quickly try to conjure up an explanation for this occurrence soon after. Judging by the media and entertainment industry today, we can well imagine that they will concoct some explanation.

When the Rapture does take place, the removal of millions of “fanatic, fundamental Bible-believing Christians” will be easily accepted by most of those who have been left behind. Based on the succession of events in the book of Revelation, recognition of the truth and subsequent repentance will virtually be non-existent.

The following verses indicate that those left behind will remain unrepentant. “And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts” (Revelation 9:20-21); and Revelation 16:11, “And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.”

The Two-Phase Coming

2nd Thessalonians 2:1, begins with the statement, “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him.” This verse depicts two events: the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering unto Him.
The coming of Jesus Christ is clearly identified as “the day of Christ.” This is not speaking of the Rapture, but of the literal return of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth. Quite apparently the believers during Paul’s time were confused by some false teachers who were proclaiming that “the day of Christ is at hand.” Paul corrects them and writes, “…for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed…” (verse 3). Paul is referring to the revelation of the Antichrist, which must take place before the day of Christ, not before the Rapture.

Surprisingly, he asks, “Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?” (verse 5). Notice that Paul reverses the direction of events, then reveals the answer in verses 6-7, “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. As a result, the revelation of the Antichrist cannot take place while the Church remains on earth. The Holy Spirit, who dwells in the Church and within each believer for eternity, must “be taken out of the way.” Only “… then shall that Wicked be revealed….”

His Coming At His Appointed Time

The saved will be gathered to the Lord and the lost will be left behind, ready to be fully deceived by the powers of darkness.
The coming of the Lord for His saints is based upon His appointment alone and will be based solely on His own eternal resolution.
Israel will be just as surprised as the rest of the world. This element of surprise makes the Rapture so exciting. We know with absolute certainty that it will take place; we just don’t know when.

A Summary
Before we go any further in our study, it is vital to highlight some key points from the first three parts of our series.
• “The Lord Himself shall descend from Heaven” is a unique, onetime event. He will come to receive the Bride whom He purchased with His own blood. There is no doubt that instead of confusing the languages as He did during the building of the Tower of Babel, He will unite us, so that we will understand each other perfectly as we communicate in a heavenly language.
• The “Voice of the Archangel” is also unprecedented. No where else in Scripture do we read about the Lord Himself coming from Heaven with the “voice of the archangel.” We’ve determined that the archangel would be Michael, who will defend the children of Israel. The moment the Rapture takes place, Israel will lose her spiritual protection, and she will be exposed to the enemy. Therefore, Michael will have to intervene on her behalf: “…at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people…” (Daniel 12:1).
• “The trump of God'” is another absolutely unique occurrence. The “trump of God” must not be confused with any of the other trumpets mentioned in the Bible. Because it is the “last trump of God,” we asked about the first trump of God. We found the answer in Exodus 19:16-19, which revealed that the trump is identical to the voice of God, which was so loud that the people in the camp could not bear the sound. This obviously illustrates that in their sinful state, they were not able to face the Living God as He spoke directly to them.
• “The dead in Christ shall rise first” brought us to the conclusion that this is only natural because “the dead in Christ” will have waited longer for the coming of the Lord.
It is important to understand that the statement, “The dead in Christ shall rise first,” is not addressed to all people who have died; only those who have died “in Christ” will rise first.

Two Types Of Dead

1) Those who die without faith

More than 700 years before the birth of Christ, Isaiah spoke of those who died without faith in the substitutionary sacrifice that was to be accomplished in the fullness of time through Jesus, the Son of God (Isaiah 26). Those who rejected faith in God’s prophesied salvation were considered this way, “They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise: therefore hast thou visited and destroyed them, and made all their memory to perish” (Isaiah 26:14). Clearly there is no hope for those who refuse to accept God’s provided atonement; they are lost for all eternity. The Bible does not make any provisions regarding a second chance in such cases.

The Roman Catholic Church teaches the existence of purgatory, which is supposed to purify sinners and make them ready to enter Heaven. On the contrary, the Word of God makes no such promise.

2) Those who live by faith

The second type of “dead” are those who lived by faith. Verse 19 reads, “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.” Here we see a very clear contrast between “They are dead, they shall not live” and “Thy dead men shall live.” Prophetically speaking, this might just as well be a picture of the Rapture, during which the dead in Christ will rise first.

First Thessalonians 4:18 clearly shows that the Rapture has been the hope of the Church from the very beginning: “Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” Throughout the millennia, believers in the Lord Jesus Christ have been comforted by knowing that Christ could come at any moment. Think of those who have suffered so terribly during times of persecution, particularly under the Roman government and later under the Roman church. Those believers who were condemned to death and prepared to die drew strength from knowing that Jesus could come at any moment, and indeed, they were greatly comforted.

The First Living Rapture

In the listing of biblical genealogy, beginning with Adam, we read in Genesis 5:22-24, “And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters: And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.” What a testimony! Twice we read that “Enoch walked with God.” We will discuss Enoch later in this part of the series.

We Are Already Dead

We must never underestimate the fundamental fact taught in Scripture that the Spirit of God dwells in us: “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you” (Romans 8:11). This pertains to the living believers. For all practical purposes, we are dead in sins and trespasses. But in Christ we have died with Him, as proclaimed in Romans 6:6, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.” Our body is only the vehicle in which the newly-born Spirit dwells.

It should be pointed out that our flesh and blood, in which the Holy Spirit dwells during the very short span of our lifetime, is not what counts. Our bodies (outward man) will perish; they must be done away with. However, our inner man, created through the new birth, is what is important.

This helps us understand the apostle Paul’s admonition in Romans 8:13, “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.”

This may be a very difficult fact to accept, but for all practical purposes, our body is dead. The devil, who is the father of lies, has reversed this simple, biblical doctrine in the opposite direction. Satan says, “You must recognize your self-worth, build your self-esteem and consider yourself extremely important. When someone insults you, be sure to defend yourself to the utmost to preserve your ‘good name.’

Anti-Christianity

This is typical of the spirit of the Antichrist, “Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God”‘(2nd Thessalonians 2:4).

Daniel describes the Antichrist in chapter 11:36 with the following words, “And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods….” Only when we are spiritually alert can we clearly recognize the ways of the spirit of Antichrist within the Church today.

The gospel of the Antichrist is being preached with great success around the world. A perfect description of end-time Christianity is given to us in 2nd Timothy 3:1-4, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despis-ers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.” From pulpits all over the world, we are being taught to love ourselves, yet the Bible clearly identifies those who are “lovers of their own selves” as anti-Christians. In writing to his spiritual son Timothy, the apostle Paul concludes his description of anti-Christians with these words, “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2nd Timothy 3:5).

Fellowship Of Suffering

What is this power that they are denying? It is none other than the power which enables us to live a holy life in the presence of God. The power of the precious blood of Jesus that cleanses the sins of the worst sinner and presents that person spotless before the throne of the Father. It is the same power which made the apostle Paul pray this prayer, “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10).

This prayer request diametrically opposes the tendencies of our day. Paul is actually praying to be integrated into “the fellowship of his suffering.” Who wants to suffer? Surely, no one does. It is contrary to our nature, for we want to pamper the flesh and serve our egos.

Paul sought the Lord in prayer three times for an unspecified physical ailment. That was and is quite normal; however, the answer to his prayer was contrary to his request. Yet he accepted it, “My grace is sufficient.”

When Paul prayed about being integrated into the fellowship of his suffering, he was speaking on a much higher level. He no longer cared about his physical body; he wanted to be closer to his Lord.

In today’s world, the greatest battles are not being fought against politicians, or against the abominable practices of sodomy, abortion, or crime. The greatest battle is described in Galatians 5:17, “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” Who is winning the battle in your life?

If we could fully understand that the Bible teaches that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, we would better understand Paul’s prayer. Our bodies, in the flesh, are never sanctified and will always remain under the curse of sin. Therefore, our task is to subject our physical bodies—with all of their desires, habits and passions—to the guidance of the Spirit. The Bible says, “… Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).

Fellowship With Death

The apostle Paul goes one step further in his prayer, “… being made conformable unto his death” (Philippians 3:10). This fact testifies that he had, in practical terms, accepted the death of Christ for himself. He was finished with his life on earth; he knew that there was no future for him in his mortal body.

We live in our bodies on this earth temporarily, yet within these perishable tabernacles dwells that which is born again of the Spirit of God, and is eternal. Thus, we understand the contradictory relationship between flesh and blood and the Spirit. Paul testified, “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you” (Philippians 1:23-24).

Enoch Walked With God

We have discussed what it means to walk with God, and as mentioned earlier, we know from the Bible that Enoch did just that. As a result, “he was not, for God took him.”
Not only did Enoch “walk with God,” but he believed God to the extent that God was pleased, “By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God” (Hebrews 11:5). Enoch did not die; the Bible testifies that he did “not see death.” Instead, we read three times that he was “translated.” This is precisely what we are waiting for! The coming of our Lord for us will result in our translation.

What will happen at the moment of our translation? We will no longer be burdened with the “old tabernacle,” our bodies, which are not subject to the Spirit. For that reason, Paul rejoices, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ”‘(Titus 2:13).

Rapture Of Enoch

Enoch demonstrated how we are to walk with God. His testimony was very clear: he believed God and as a result, the Lord had pleasure in him. Jude 14 confirms that Enoch prophesied about the coming of the Lord, “. ..Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints.”
Clearly, this is not a prophecy of the coming of the Lord in humility, born in a stable in Bethlehem. Rather He comes “with ten thousands of his saints.” Enoch, therefore, was a prophet for the end times. Before Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Israel, Enoch had already spoken of the return of the Lord. Undoubtedly, he meant the Rapture as well, because the Lord cannot come with the saints unless He first comes for His saints, that is, His Church. Enoch experienced the translation of his body into the glorious image of the Lord. Had he not, he would not have been with God.

When Enoch spoke of the coming of the Lord, as many prophets had throughout the Old Testament, he mentioned all three comings in one breath: His first coming in Bethlehem when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us; His Second Coming which will take place in the clouds of the air to call His blood-bought Church to Himself; and His third coming when His feet stand on the Mount of Olives.

At that time, He will implement salvation for Israel and pronounce judgment upon the world. Verse 15 of Jude reads, “To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” That verse refers to the final coming of the Lord for the purpose of judgment. The word “all” and “ungodly” are each mentioned four times in this verse. This will be the result of the Great Tribulation when the Lord Himself will descend upon the Mount of Olives and cause unprecedented change in Israel and world history.

When Enoch spoke about the end times, he included the coming of the Lord, the Rapture. We must not make the mistake of separating one event from the other. The coming of the Lord is one, yet it occurs in two stages.

The Rapture Of Elijah

The story of the Rapture unfolds when the Jordan River is divided: “…they two went over on dry ground” (2nd Kings 2: 8). Elijah and Elisha walked side-by-side to their destination. Then came the point of their parting, “And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so” (verses 9-10). Although this is not a direct prophecy, we can conclude that this is an indirect prophecy demonstrating the Church of Jesus Christ pictured by Elijah, and Israel pictured by Elisha. The Church will be taken out of the way, but Israel will be left behind.

The Church was founded when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the waiting disciples. From that day forward, the Spirit continues to flow into the empty vessels of repentant sinners and will continue to do so until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.

Undoubtedly, Israel is yet to experience mighty things unprecedented in history. Through Israel, the Lord will fill the world with His precious Word.

Rapture By A Whirlwind

Finally we come to the Rapture of Elijah, “And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (2nd Kings 2:11).

As far as the Church and Israel are concerned, this will definitely happen. Although organically we belong together, we will be parted. Let’s take a closer look at the unity of Israel and the Church.

The Olive Tree

Israel, symbolized by the olive tree, never ceased to exist. Contrary to nature, the Gentiles were grafted in, as Romans 11:24 confirms,
“For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?” Israel will stand alone when the Church is raptured.

Church To Be Separated

Hear the words of the apostle Peter, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1st Peter 2:9). The distinct difference between Israel and the Church lies in the fact that Israel has a national calling, “above all the nations” and we have a spiritual calling as a “royal priesthood” to let His light shine in the darkness. The danger of mixing with the world is a strong warning to every child of God.

Sadly, it is becoming more and more difficult to distinguish Christians from non-Christians. Both speak the same language, use the name of Jesus, claim to believe the Bible, build churches, proclaim the message of God over the radio, publish literature, operate successful television ministries, and even send out missionaries. Both do everything that can possibly be done, yet one is real and the other counterfeit.

The False Gospel

The apostle Paul warns us emphatically of the false Jesus that is preached by another spirit, that constitutes another gospel, and that is promoted by false apostles and ministers of unrighteousness. He writes in 2nd Corinthians 11:2, “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” Then he explains, “But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles. ..For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works” (verses 3-5, 13-15).

Only those who are born again of His Spirit heed the clear call to separate from the things of the world. The true Church is in the world but not of the world and the true members hear the voice of the one true Shepherd. Those are mentioned in 1st Thessalonians 4:17, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” May the Lord, by His grace, protect each one of us from the deceitfulness of the works of Satan. As our time on earth is rapidly coming to an end, “He who hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith unto the churches.”

(MAIN SOURCE: The Great Mystery of the Rapture – Arno Froese – 1999)

THE RAPTURE SERIES 3: THE DEAD IN CHRIST SHALL RISE FIRST

0 RAPTURE

THE DEAD IN CHRIST SHALL RISE FIRST

” and the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1st Thessalonians 4:16b).

Our Lord’s Resurrection Power

The initiating power of this translation was, of course, the resurrection power of our Lord. We all know that He appeared in the same body He had before His death. The disciples recognized Him, as did many other people.

The apostle Paul writes about the resurrected Lord and confirms in 1st Corinthians 15:5-8, “… that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles. And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.”

The resurrection of the Lord is a major event in God’s history of salvation. When Jesus victoriously arose on the third day, we read, “…behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door…” (Matthew 28:2). That was an earth-shaking event! The power of that resurrection caused the awakening and subsequent translation of the bodies of some of the saints.

Three Important Points

To better understand our message “And the Dead in Christ Shall Rise First,” we should consider three important points:

  •    What does the word “resurrection” mean?
  •    The resurrection as a fulfillment of prophecy.
  •    The first and second resurrection.

1) What Does “Resurrection” Mean?

In simple terms, the word “resurrection” means to go from death to life. Obviously, this must be preceded by the change from life to death. Resurrection reverses that process.

Resurrection from the dead is essential to Christian doctrine and concerns itself primarily with the resurrection of our Lord. Later, we will see different types of resurrections; however, none of them compare to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ because His is the firstfruit of the resurrection to eternal life.

When the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians about the Rapture in 1st Corinthians 15:12-14, he specifically emphasized the absolute necessity of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. “Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen; And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.” Paul’s point is very clear. Without Christ’s resurrection, the preaching of the Gospel is invalid; furthermore, our faith is in vain.

Christ is coming again! The components which make up the resurrection can be identified in this order: life, death, resurrection, ascension, and return.

Paul continues, “…we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins ” (Verses 15-17).

Without the resurrection of Christ, there would be no salvation.

Equally, we would have no hope of resurrection if Christ had not been raised from the dead. Subsequently, with no resurrection of the dead in Christ, we which are alive could not be caught up in the Rapture, and “… they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished”‘ (verse 18).

Faith in the Rapture is a requirement for the Rapture. First Thessalonians 4:14 says, “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” Notice the word “if.” This is a clear revelation that those who do not believe in the physical resurrection of the Lord Jesus are in reality not believers. As a result, they will not be raptured.

Christ: The Firstfruits

Paul dismisses the theory prevalent in the Corinthian church regarding the non-resurrection and confirms the absolute reality of the resurrection of Christ, “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming” (1st Corinthians 15:20-23).

In this passage, Paul identifies Christ as “the firstfruits” two times. This is significant because none of the other resurrections documented in the Bible belonged to the “firstfruits.” More importantly, the Lord’s resurrection is the one that leads to eternal life.

National “Resurrection” Of Israel

Ezekiel documents a special resurrection that doesn’t belong to the resurrection of the firstfruits. It is the national resurrection of Israel.

“The hand of the LORD was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the LORD, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones, And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and, lo, they were very dry. And he said unto me, Son of man, can these bones live? And I answered, 0 Lord God, thou knowest” (Ezekiel 37:1-3).

National identity had to be resurrected as well. For all practical purposes, this was virtually impossible because the Jews were scattered over the entire face of the earth. It seemed as though wherever they settled they were always faced with oppression and persecution. Where they have been permitted to remain, they have become part of the landscape of the nation in which they lived. In Europe they have become European Jews; in Africa they have become African Jews; in Asia they have become Asian Jews; and in America, American Jews. Despite the odds, they have remained Jews; an invisible bond has kept them together. This bond centers on the Bible, their heritage. The Bible has been the only cord of unity binding the Jews throughout the Diaspora.

2000 years after the Diaspora, they are still Jews. Before the state of Israel was founded, many leading anthropologists predicted that it would take hundreds of years for Israel to become a nation of one people again. In spite of these seemingly impossible odds, Israel survived and has become a nation as the matter was taken care of by the Lord. They are caming from virtually all the nations of the world, yet they became “… one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel…”

Resurrection reverses the process from death to life.

First Corinthians 15:23 gives us the order, “But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” This includes all who are in Christ, who belong to Him, and are saved based on His shed blood.

The dead in Christ must rise first because their spirit-souls are already in the presence of the Lord without their glorified bodies. Keep in mind that the glorified body can only be attained through the resurrection of the old body. For that reason, we unconditionally believe in the physical resurrection of the Lord.

2) The resurrection as a fulfillment of prophecy.

Now comes the important part: Jesus led His disciples to the prophetic Word. He knew that miracles which we see and hear do not necessarily lead to a living faith, “And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day”‘(Luke 24:44-46).

The resurrection is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy and this fulfillment will continue until He has accomplished all things, “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1st Corinthians 15:26). Death will be destroyed when His Body is completed.

“So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1st Corinthians 15:54-55).

3) The First And Second Resurrection

We cannot emphasize strongly enough that there is no salvation outside of the Lord Jesus Christ. He clearly stated, “No one cometh unto the Father, but by me.” He is the door, He is the way, He is the truth, He is the light, and He is the life. People are saved only through the shed blood of the Lamb of God.

All believers of all times who have trusted the Lord and are saved for all eternity belong to the first resurrection, “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection…” (Revelation 20:6). The first resurrection nullifies the power of death, “…on such the second death hath no power… ” (verse 6).

The last resurrection is described in Revelation 20:12-14, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. ” Grace is not included in this last resurrection.

(MAIN SOURCE: The Great Mystery of the Rapture – Arno Froese – 1999)