THE RAPTURE SERIES 15: THE BELIEVERS’ LAST BATTLE (PART 4 OF 4)

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END OF SERIES – CONCLUSION

“Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Hebrews 2:8-11).

These marvelous words reveal to us that not only is Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, but all things will be put under His subjection. Jesus, the Living Word of God, has created all things and “for whom are all things, and by whom are all things” including our perfect salvation! It is both literally and physically impossible for me to fully comprehend the last line of this verse, “he is not ashamed to call them brethren.” However, my admission does not change the fact that we have indeed become His brethren, sons and daughters of God. We are so much a part of God’s family that no earthly family can ever compare. The final answer to the Lord’s high priestly prayer is yet to be fulfilled, “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one” (John 17:23).

If we as believers would realize just a fraction of the glorious things God has wrought for us, we would not take ourselves too seriously. We would worry much less about things we can’t change and while we remain on earth, our lives would be filled and overflowing with the peace that passes all understanding.

I wanted to convey these few words of encouragement to you in my conclusion of the Rapture series.

Throughout this study, we laid down some indisputable facts regarding the reality of the Rapture—facts which cannot be moved or removed by any interpretation. Jesus said that He will come again to take us to Himself. In order for that to happen, certain events in history had to first take place.

We must never be so naive as to think that such events as the uproar of the nations, wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, floods, fires, pestilences, and others take place coincidentally. That is far from the truth because these phenomena serve only one purpose: to call out a people for His name. God does not make mistakes, nor does He need to apologize. His resolutions are eternal because He is from everlasting to everlasting.

When we understand God’s plan for mankind we shouldn’t have much difficulty comprehending the words of Amos 3:6, “… shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?” (Amos 3:6). When we grasp these things spiritually, we see that we do not need to worry about the frightening events taking place in the world today. In holy reverence, we can sing with the hymn writer, “He’s got the whole world in His hands….”

Calling Out of His People

We have thoroughly discussed the relationship between Israel and the Church. God chose Abraham, from whom He brought forth a nation, Israel. She in turn brought forth the man-child Jesus, “… who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron” (Revelation 10:5). Jesus: Son of God, and Son of man. On Calvary’s cross, He accomplished the greatest redemptive work in history when He cried out, “It is finished.” Since then, the final selection process has been progressing. From Israel and all the nations of the world, God is gathering a new people, born again of His Spirit, for His heavenly kingdom. This selection is no longer limited to Israel, who received a distinct promise of territory. Today, anyone who, by the grace of God, has an ear to hear may respond to the message, believe it, and as a result, be added to the innumerable host of heavenly citizens comprising the Church of Jesus Christ.

The selection process has been taking place since 33 A.D. and will be completed when the fullness of the Gentiles comes in, at which time the Rapture will take place.

In the Bible, God has given us many examples of His intention to save mankind. One example was the salvation of Noah and his family. Only those who entered the ark by faith were saved from the flood. The same principle is valid today; those who enter the heavenly ark through the door (Jesus Christ) are saved for eternity.

Light And Darkness

During these many centuries, God in His grace has not sent destructive judgment upon the powers of darkness, but He has permitted darkness to exist parallel to the light. Every person born on planet Earth either continues in the way of darkness or comes to the Light. John testifies of Jesus when he says, “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9). It is the job of the children of light to exemplify the way to the Light to those in darkness, which is why Jesus said to His Church, “ye are the light of the world.”

Darkness includes all things on earth. Everything we see, hear, or touch outside of the Gospel is subject to darkness. Every nation and every government on our planet is subject to darkness. The god of this world, the prince of darkness, rules the earth, as evident in 2nd Corinthians 4:3-4, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” This dark force cannot destroy the children of light because, as we illustrated earlier in the series, light is stronger than darkness. However, God in His counsel has determined that darkness will eventually cover the entire world. We concluded that this cannot take place while the Church is still present.

The Great Tribulation

The prophets of both the Old and New Testaments, as well as Jesus Himself, prophesied that the Great Tribulation would come on planet Earth and that it would be a time such as has never been experienced before, nor will it be repeated. In those days of darkness mankind will voluntarily believe the great lie, that salvation may be obtained through good behavior and does not depend on any particular form of religion. This philosophy is accepted today as “politically correct.” The continuous success of the world in relation to peace and prosperity will reinforce humanity’s belief that they should be centered on themselves instead of the Savior.

Second Thessalonians 2:9-10 says, “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.” The truth is that man cannot save himself; he is lost. He’s not lost because of the bad deeds he may have committed, but because he is a sinner by birth. To the question, “What must you do to end up in Hell?” the answer is nothing! Everyone from birth is destined to Hell. For that reason, God the Father sent Jesus so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. Just as a person does not have to do anything particularly bad to remain Hellhound, the same applies to a person who wants to go to Heaven but does not have to do anything to get there other than believe.

Virtually all religions, including much of Christianity, are proclaiming that man must either work for his salvation or at least contribute his part so that he may qualify. That is the great deception of Satan. Those who embrace that belief do not love the truth. Continuing in verse 11, we read, “for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.”

The great contradiction of the present day is the existence of the Church. Within the Church, there is a light which stands in opposition to darkness. As long as this light remains on Earth, the Great Tribulation, the epitome of darkness, cannot take place. The moment the Church is removed, darkness will prevail and the lie will be accepted as truth, which has been clearly and thoroughly addressed in this series.

The Spirit Must Depart For Jesus To Return

Israel’s salvation cannot take place as long as the Church is present on earth. We find support of this in Jesus’ response to the disciples, “. ..It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you” (John 16:7).

Plainly, Jesus was saying that if He did not depart, the Comforter would not come; but when He did depart, the Comforter would indeed come.

Now this will take place in reverse. Jesus cannot literally and physically come back to earth as long as the Comforter [the Holy Spirit] remains on earth.

The Comforter dwells in the heart of the believer! Therefore, it is impossible for Jesus to come back with His saints unless they are first taken out of the way so that He can come back to earth with them!

What Are You Waiting For?

Please allow me again to ask, “What are you waiting for?” If you are waiting for the Great Tribulation, then you cannot be waiting for Jesus. If you are waiting for the appearing of the Antichrist, then you cannot be waiting for Jesus. If you are waiting for better times, for peace and prosperity, then you cannot be waiting for Jesus. If you are not waiting for Jesus, you are not a child of God.

If you are not a child of God, at this point you should be asking yourself, “How can I become a child of God?” It is almost too easy to be true, yet it is true! Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved! Right after you have read the last lines of this series, get down on your knees and confess to God that you are a sinner. Admit that you cannot save yourself. Realize that you are in need of redemption. Someone else must pay for your sins; you can’t do it yourself. If that is the case, you are on the right track toward salvation. You may pray a simple prayer: “Dear God: I realize that I am a sinner and I believe that Jesus Christ paid for my sins when He died on Calvary’s cross, pouring out His blood as full payment for my sins. I now consciously and deliberately ask Jesus to save me from my sins, come into my heart and make me a child of God.” When you sincerely pray this, then the prophetic Scripture will be fulfilled, “Him that cometh unto me, I will in no wise cast out.” And the wonderful promise of John 3:36 will be instantly fulfilled in your life: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life!”

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

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THE RAPTURE SERIES 14: THE BELIEVERS’ LAST BATTLE (PART 3 OF 4)

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5) THE BATTLE OF SILENCE

We have explored four important battles thus far and have now come to the final, most difficult one: the battle of silence. This battle is contrary to all that we are and diametrically opposes our sense of righteousness, our desire to justify ourselves, and our inexhaustible need to prove that we are “somebody.”

We begin this subject by reading from the prophet Isaiah in chapter 53:7, “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.” This is one of the most shocking verses in the entire Bible. Twice we read that, “he opened not his mouth” Jesus suffered in silence!

Incidentally, Isaiah 53 is also the most difficult chapter in the Old Testament for a Jewish person who does not believe that Jesus is the Messiah. Isaiah 53 is a clear documentation inspired by the Holy Spirit over 700 years before the birth of Christ. Jewish rabbis often refuse to read this chapter in the synagogue because it reads like a script straight out of the New Testament trial, condemnation and crucifixion of Jesus.

The Silent Lamb

Who was this Lamb led to the slaughter who did not open His mouth? Why was He seemingly powerless before His executioners? Verse 8 answers this question beautifully, “…for the transgression of my people was he stricken.” It makes no difference if you are the most learned Bible scholar, or whether you are a Christian or Jew; no one can come up with any identity other than Jesus Christ.

Some people have said that this chapter is talking about the suffering of the Jewish people throughout the centuries; however, verse 5 contradicts this theory when it says, “… the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” What about verse 6? “… the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Or verse 8? “…for the transgression of my people was he stricken.” We are clearly reading about a person, not a group of people. Verse 9 unmistakably identifies this person as the Lord Jesus Christ, “… neither was any deceit in his mouth.”

The apostle Peter later testified, “Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (1st Peter 2:22). In a very precise manner, Isaiah 53 describes the work, the life, and the death of the Lamb of God who was sacrificed for the sins of the world.

His Grave Was Not His Own

We read of the proclamation in verse 9 that, “… he made his grave with the wicked.” The New Testament confirms that He was crucified between two criminals. His body was laid in the borrowed tomb of a rich man, Joseph from Arimathea, which corresponds with Isaiah’s account, “… with the rich in his death.”

Without Sin

The verse concludes, “…neither was any deceit in his mouth.” While confronting His enemies, Jesus challenged them to find any sin in His life. He never spoke too much, or too little. He said what had to be said and did what had to be done. He was the perfect Man, who became the perfect sacrifice for an imperfect, corrupt, and lost humanity.

Silence Before His Accusers

Christ stood wrongly accused by wicked men and false witnesses. However the Bible says, “.. Jesus held his peace” (Matthew 26:63). He stood before Pilate, the Roman authority who challenged him, “…Answerest thou nothing?” and “…Jesus yet answered nothing…” (Mark 15:2,5).

In Luke 23, we read that King Herod “questioned with him in many words.” How did Jesus react? “… He answered him nothing” (verse 9).

Indeed, He was led silently like a lamb to the slaughter.

Intercession For Sinners

When they crucified Him, Jesus cried, “…Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do… ” (Luke 23:34).

Seven centuries before that prayer, Isaiah gave the following details, “…he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12).

Greatest Of All Works

We are all familiar with the wonderful works that Jesus did among His people and the miracles He openly demonstrated confirming Himself to be the Messiah of Israel and Savior of the world. The greatest of all works was when the Son of God remained silent, when through the hands of wicked man, He was nailed to the cross where He died.

Matthew described His death in this manner, “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent” (Matthew 27:50-51).

The work Jesus accomplished as the silent suffering Lamb touched the universe. The Bible reports that darkness covered the earth from the sixth to the ninth hour. The moment He died, the veil in the Holy of Holies in the temple was torn from top to bottom, opening up the way to God through the death of Jesus.

The rocks of the earth could not hold their peace, for “the earth did quake and the rocks rent.” These world-shaking events affected those who stood by, “Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54).

Following Jesus

The fact that Jesus did not defend Himself and permitted sinful men to lead Him to His death is something that the world does not understand, and unfortunately, many Christians don’t either.

For the average Christian, it is much easier to fight, stand up for your rights, oppose the wicked, stand for the truth, and let others know what you think. But that, dear friends, is the battle of the flesh, which has no promise whatsoever, and will lead only to defeat.

I am reminded of the words Wim Malgo used to say, “The greatest fight for a Christian is not to fight.” How true these words really are.

Jesus went before us; He showed the way; He walked the way; and He finished the way in total obedience to His Heavenly Father. We are admonished to follow Jesus.

The Real Task Of The Church

Of course, it is a noble gesture to fight for civil rights or support moral causes. We are justifiably insulted when we see, for example, how Sodomites not only demand recognition for their practices, but openly demand special assistance from the tax-paying public. To fight against such immorality is as natural as a flower that needs water to survive. To join picket lines and protest marches against the abominable murder of the unborn is most certainly a good and noble thing to do.

To oppose the propagation of pornography needs courage and is expected of every moral person.

What about fighting for a righteous government? Surely no one can deny that one of the most important items in a functioning civilized society is an honest government.

Investing time and energy in Christianizing the laws, the courts, governments, and institutions is most certainly commendable.

But in light of these good works, we must ask ourselves, “Is this the task of the Church of Jesus Christ?” Based on the verses we have just read, there is absolutely no evidence that Jesus planned for His followers to change the world morally, politically, or economically. Why not? Because He specifically stated “My Kingdom is not of this world.” His focus was to fish for men, calling those who voluntarily wanted to follow Him, because He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Only His Kingdom Counts

He accepted the occupational Roman government of His country, and with regards to morals, He clearly told us that things would get worse.

We have quoted part of John 18:36, but let’s read it again, “Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.”

Jesus came to bring salvation to man; whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life. He does not reject sinful men and women; for His original intention to establish “on earth, peace, good will towards men” is yet to take place.

In this verse, Jesus specifically emphasized, “But now is my kingdom not from hence.” At that time, He did not come to establish His kingdom. Therefore, any attempt by the Church to do a task which the Lord has not entrusted us with will only lead in the opposite direction; to the establishment of the kingdom of Antichrist!

Secure In The House Of God

That is a lesson we should learn in our daily walk with the Lord. As long as we are hidden in “the house of God,” we are spiritually untouchable by the enemy. What does it mean to be in “the house of God”? Simply put, whenever and whatever you do, if you do it in the name and for the glory of Jesus, you are in “the house of God.” If your thoughts are influenced by dishonesty, lusts of the flesh, and the like, then you are not in “the house of God” and you are in extreme danger. The apostle Peter warned, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1st Peter 5:8).

Where can we find a safe place to hide from the devil? Jesus revealed that safe haven to us when He said, “I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me” (John 17:23). Ask yourself, “Do I really love Jesus?” If your answer is yes, then you are in holy territory, “the house of God,” and the evil one cannot successfully accuse you.

The closer you are to Him, the safer you are. However, the further you distance yourself from Jesus, the more you place yourself in danger of being devoured by the wicked one, the adversary, the devil.

Our Battle Is To Stand

We should always remember the New Testament’s admonition to, “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:11-17).

We are not to attack the powers of darkness, we are to stand in faith grounded on Calvary.

We are warned however, to be fully aware of the intention of the principalities of darkness. As long as we remain in the Light, we are able to clearly identify the works and intentions of the adversary.

Second Corinthians 2:11 cautions us, “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.”

As long as we continue to stand in the Light darkness cannot overcome us. We are to stand based on the already accomplished victory of the Lord Jesus. In order to properly stand, we must be prepared as we are so clearly instructed in the above verses.

Moving back to our text in Ephesians we find the content of the real battle, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ephesians 6:18).

Whenever the powers of darkness attempt to discourage or oppress you, stand in faith on the already accomplished work at Calvary. You may oppose any and all attacks from the world of darkness when you consistently believe with all of your heart that Jesus fully accomplished victory over the devil when He exclaimed “It is finished!”

Only with the proper spiritual attire are you able to withstand the fiery darts of the wicked one. When you clothe yourself in the armor of God you will be able to continue to proclaim the Gospel of peace to people everywhere; whether it be done through testimonies, the preaching of the Word, sending forth of missionaries, or distribution of tracts. All things work together for the building of His Church. We are admonished to continue in prayer so that the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ will not be hindered.

Jesus Lives!

What a tremendous message we have to announce, “Jesus lives!” We don’t need to fear the enemies; nor should we be afraid of the government or those who wish to eliminate the testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Our task is the same as it was almost 2,000 years ago; to proclaim the Gospel, telling people everywhere that salvation is available through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He died for our sins, arose victoriously on the third day, and is coming again.

This message of salvation has been declared for almost two millenia, and an uncounted number of souls have responded to the call and now herald the reality of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ!

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

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THE RAPTURE SERIES 13: THE BELIEVERS’ LAST BATTLE (PART 2 OF 4)

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3) THE BATTLE BETWEEN BODY, SOUL, AND SPIRIT

We all know of the end-time events which are taking place today such as wars and rumors of wars, pestilence, earthquakes, famine, even signs in the sun, moon and stars, causing great commotion and perplexity on the earth. All we need to do is read the newspaper, listen to the radio or watch the news on TV.

We are continuously overwhelmed by the many catastrophes that are taking place today, whether they are natural, such as tornadoes, floods, and droughts, the covid-19 Coronavirus or caused by the negligence of men such as traffic fatalities, airplane crashes, or fires.

We may consider them as commonplace throughout the ages. Such are not directly related to the personal battles we are involved in daily. Let me make it clear, we are not speaking about everybody else, just you and me.

Flesh Must Be Defeated

The apostle Paul confessed in Romans 7:15, “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.” This clearly reveals the battle between body, soul and spirit. In verse 18 he said, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.” This statement exposes the truth about Paul, who did not think much about himself, but nevertheless was confronted with his own sinful nature.

He was fully conscious of the fact that the regenerated person within him was what really mattered. Paul continued, “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me”(verses 19-20). He realized that the flesh can never fully submit to the Spirit, and as a result, he exclaimed, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (verse 24).

This verse makes it perfectly clear that we cannot serve God with our flesh. In other words, no matter how hard we try to please God, we will ultimately fail. Naturally the question should arise, “How can we serve God if it is impossible for us to please Him in our physical being?” We please God by serving Him in Spirit and in truth!

Worship In Spirit and Truth

When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well, He told her, “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (John 4:23). This was in response to the woman’s attempt to lead Jesus into an ecumenical discussion. But the Lord responded to her with the truth of the prophetic Word, and as a result, she had to confess, “… I perceive that thou art a prophet” (verse 19).

In an attempt to justify her comments, she said, “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship” (verse 20). Jesus made it very clear that worship of God the Father outside of the truth was impossible.

He made it obvious that the Gentiles were in total darkness when He said, “Ye worship ye know not what…” (verse 22) and then emphasized that true worship can only come forth from the truth, … we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews” (verse 22).

The Two-Edged Sword

Furthermore, Hebrews 4:12 reveals the way to liberty in Christ through the Word, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Do you want to serve God? Then the Word of God, the most powerful and sharpest of all two-edged swords, must divide your soul and spirit.

We cannot worship God in the soul; the Word of God forbids it. Not only does the two-edged sword clearly divide the soul from the spirit but it is also the “discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Only the Word of God will disclose to us what our thinking process is and will even expose the true intention of our hearts.

For that reason, it is urgent that we unconditionally agree with the Word of God. The moment we deviate from the written Word, we fall among the “robbers.” The end result is that no fruit will be created for the glory of the Lord Jesus.

Soulish Believers

The statement in Hebrews 4:12 also reveals the tragedy of the end-times that millions of believers serve the Lord in their souls, not in their spirits.

A person who bases his faith on the soul always depends on tangible circumstances. He is unsure and unstable in all of his ways and continuously needs supernatural guidance, which of course, is supplied by the powers of darkness. In addition, it nullifies the fundamental principle of the gospel of grace; we are to walk by faith, not by sight!

An even greater tragedy is the fact that many consider themselves Christians because they have had emotional experiences in their souls. In reality, their spirits are still dead in sins and trespasses. What a disaster it will be for those when Jesus comes and all who are not born again of the Spirit of God are left behind, despite the fact that they thought they had become new creatures in Christ.

Seven Signs

Certain visible signs take place in the believer’s life which confirm and make obvious whether a person has in fact been born again of the Spirit of God. In his book, Seven Signs of a Born Again Person, Dr. Wim Malgo points out the following:

• A born again person knows that he is born again.
• The new life becomes visible.
• He has a spirit of prayer.
• He has a hunger for the Word of God.
• He will suffer much adversity.
• He has victory over temptations and sin.
• The truly born again person waits with joy and expectancy for the return of Christ.

If any of these signs are not a reality in your own life, then you must ask yourself a very serious question, “Am I really born again?”

The Lust Of The Flesh

The believer’s last battle consists of the continuous conflict between the Spirit and the flesh. To the Galatians, the apostle Paul wrote, “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” (Galatians 5:17). In other words, we must have continuous victory over the works of the flesh through the Spirit. We are guaranteed of this in verse 16, “… Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”

Fruit Of The Spirit

Contrasting the works of the flesh, we read about the fruit of the Spirit in the next verses, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law ” (verses 22-23).

Isn’t it significant that in the list of the fruits of the Spirit, there is no indication of the presence of pride, self-love, self-esteem, and other fallacious ideas that are being promoted in today’s false gospel movements?

Remember that only by the fruit of the Spirit will the Lord recognize us. It doesn’t matter how good we are, or what we have accomplished in our lives, or how much we have given to our churches, missions, or other benevolent organizations. Those things are good, but they will not count all that much when we stand before the Lord. He said, “… by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:20).

To successfully win the victory over our last battle, we must continue to keep the victory over our flesh at all times. When we walk in the Spirit, we are standing on the Word of God doing His will. As a result, we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

Let us conform ourselves to 1st Thessalonians 5:23, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

4) THE BATTLE AGAINST DECEPTION

We know from the Bible that sin entered into the world due to pride. Satan, the originator of sin, successfully deceived one-third of the angelic host, the animal world, and man, God’s crown created in His image.

The devil is the god of this world and rules supreme. He has a legitimate right to all the unsaved people on the earth.

The Bible says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Isaiah 64:6 confirms this indisputable fact with the words, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”

To further prove this point and show that there are no exceptions to the rule, we read Romans 3:10, “… There is none righteous, no, not one.” Verse 12 confirms, “They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”

One Escape

Praise God that He has made a way of escape. Only one Man has ever lived who was without sin; Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man who voluntarily sacrificed Himself on Calvary’s cross. He poured out His blood for the sin of all men so that anyone who comes to Him will receive forgiveness.

The only way of escape is through Him who said, “…I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). There is no middle ground, for there is no other name given under Heaven by which man can be saved, and that name is Jesus.

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

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THE RAPTURE SERIES 12: THE BELIEVERS’ LAST BATTLE (PART 1 OF 4)

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“The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” (Romans 13:12).

“…It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

These two verses summarize the last battle for the believer. You may be wondering why a battle would be necessary if the Lord has already won. I believe that the answer to that question is because light and darkness are mutually exclusive. Keep in mind that light is always stronger than darkness. It makes no difference how dark the darkness may be because when light appears darkness is instanteously defeated and all that the darkness attempted to hide is exposed. Only in the absence of light is darkness powerful. Since the Lord said, “Ye are the light of the world,” complete darkness cannot set in. Works of darkness are continuously exposed by our presence.

It is significant to remember that the light that exposes darkness is not accomplished by “flesh and blood.” Don’t ever be deceived by well-meaning Christians who play politics to expose the darkness that exists in our land and heal our society as a result. It will never happen. It is not promised in the Bible and those attempts are actually the work of the great enemy.

Some of you may be shocked to read such a statement but based on what the Bible teaches, I am convinced that it is true. The Lord Jesus told us that His kingdom was not of this world (yet!); otherwise, His disciples would fight. The Lord Jesus Himself was born and lived His entire life under foreign occupation but He never lifted a finger against the political and military authority of Rome. As a matter of fact, He even endorsed the payment of taxes to the foreign government with His statement, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesars.”

When we follow the life of Paul and the lives of the other apostles we also see that they were not politically active in any way, but were consumed with the desire to preach the Gospel and follow Jesus even unto death.

Your motives may be noble in fighting against the various ills of our society. But if you do, please remember that the Bible holds no promises that you will succeed. How then do we fight against the powers of darkness? Simply by being and acting like Christians, letting the fruit of the Spirit show through our lives. That light is much stronger than any political power in the world. We need to stand up for what is right, but making it our full-time mission to fightagainst such practices as abortion, homosexuality, atheism and drug abuse will not produce fruit for His glory but will entangle us in the affairs of the world. As a result, our strength will be wasted upon the things of this world.

For the work of darkness—including the deception of the world— to reach fruition, the light must be removed from planet Earth. Until that happens, we are light-bearers although we remain in our sinful flesh and blood.

The fact that the apostle cautioned us to “cast off the works of darkness” clearly indicates that by nature, Christians are in danger of participating in the work of darkness.
It also reveals that when we are born again of the Spirit of God, we are not automatically separated from darkness while we are in our flesh.

Paul also spoke of the sin which so easily besets us. In other words, Christians are capable of committing the same sins as the children of the world.

We are redeemed from the power and guilt of sin; however, we are not redeemed from the presence of sin. Subsequently, our last battle is based on our continuous stand in direct opposition to temptation and sin.

Our stand in faith will determine our position regarding the rewards that will be given to those who have faithfully held on to their Lord. We are strongly warned and reminded of this in 2nd John 1:8, “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.”

We can outline this chapter in five points:
1) When light became darkness
2) The battle between light and darkness
3) The battle between spirit, soul and body
4) The battle against deception
5) The battle of silence

1) WHEN LIGHT BECAME DARKNESS

Isaiah supplies us with a view of prophecy that looked back in time. He showed us the history of darkness in chapter 14:12-14, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” These verses describe the birth of darkness.

Lucifer, the “son of the morning,” was indeed an excellent personality in the presence of God. Only the King James translation adds the word ‘Lucifer ” so as not to confuse him with the only bright and morning star. The Hebrew-English translation reads, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O shining one, son of dawn!…” Luther translates this verse, “How has thou fallen from heaven, thou beautiful star of the morning…” This is a vivid description of the birth of sin. Of course it is incomprehensible to us because our limited human intellect cannot grasp the terrible catastrophe that took place at that time.

This “morning star,” so full of light, so boundlessly beautiful and glorious, conceived in his heart the desire to be equal with the Most High. His self-exaltation and pride are clearly expressed in the five-fold “I will” of the fallen star cited in the Isaiah passage. Deception was born in his heart and caused his downfall. As a result, light became darkness.

2) THE BATTLE BETWEEN LIGHT AND DARKNESS

As we previously mentioned, light is stronger than darkness. As a child of God, you have received the Light of the world, the Lord Jesus Christ. The powers of darkness are nullified when you stay in the territory of the light. Then, you can exclaim with the Lord, “The evil cometh and findeth nothing on me.”

To illustrate how light is stronger than darkness, do the following: go into the basement of your house or some other dark place at night when there is no light. When you find yourself in such a place, you literally cannot see your hand in front of your eyes. Everything is pitch black and you do not know what is waiting for you in the darkness.
If you don’t move carefully, you may hurt yourself, falling over an object or bumping into a dangerous instrument. For all practical purposes, you are completely paralyzed by the darkness. Any move you make can be dangerous, even fatal.

But then at the very second you turn on the flashlight, darkness is defeated and you can clearly recognize the objects which could have done you harm in the darkness.

The Counterfeit Light

The same can be said about the unsaved who remain in darkness, not knowing where they are going. They live on a day-to-day basis, approaching eternal darkness where no salvation is possible.

Anyone with a little common sense knows that you don’t walk around in a dark place where you cannot see. We may wonder why people walk in darkness.

The answer is simple, yet sad; they are following in the footsteps of a counterfeit light. Second Corinthians 11:14 warns, “… no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.”

How can a person see the light? Jesus answers that question in John 3:3 when He speaks to Nicodemus the Pharisee, “… Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Therefore, the moment a person is born again of the Spirit of God, not only does he see his surroundings, but he sees eternity, “the kingdom of God.” By faith he sees those wonderful things which are hidden from the eyes of the children of the world.

The believer does not aimlessly wander in this world, but has the light and walks with determination toward eternity.

This can be compared to a ship on the sea, looking for the beacon of the lighthouse. Picture the Lord, the Light of the world who beckons all who are lost in the darkness of sin to come to Him. The lighthouse operator rejoices when on the horizon he sees a little flicker of light from a ship in the far distance being tossed to and fro by the waves. The moment this contact is established, the lighthouse is able to safely guide the ship back to the harbor. The captain of the ship understands the signs aimed at him from the lighthouse, he follows the instructions and ultimately reaches safety. Our lives can be compared to this illustration. We are in the ocean of darkness with no hope, lost for all eternity. Suddenly, in the far distance we see the blinking Light from our heavenly Lighthouse. The moment we cry out for help, Jesus gives us His Light. From that point on, we can communicate with Him directly because our light is now turned toward our heavenly Lighthouse, the Lord Jesus.

Dear reader, if you have not yet received the Lord Jesus, do not delay any longer because it may be your last chance to be saved for all eternity. The alternative is eternal darkness, separation from God, being lost forever.

The wonderful truth is that the Christian walks toward eternity with full assurance that the way has been prepared, the price has been paid, and the guarantee, “I will never leave you nor forsake you, ” is always valid.

The Sure Word Of Prophecy

A born again Christian does not walk in darkness but uses the sure word of prophecy as his guideline. “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts ” (2nd Peter 1:19).

The great apostle Peter penned these words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit at a time when he was aware that his life was soon to come to an end. He testified in verse 14, “Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me.” It is significant that this apostle emphasized the fact that he had diligently proclaimed the imminency of the Rapture, “… the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ…” (verse 16). As a result, Peter boldly proclaimed the prophetic Word, the coming of Jesus.

Many Christians fail to realize that the Word of prophecy climaxes in the return of Jesus and is part of the liberating Gospel we are to preach to all people everywhere.

You can sense the urgency with which Peter entrusted the prophetic Word to the Church. Not only do we have a “more sure word of prophecy, ” but we are also cautioned to “take heed” of it. We are to watch out, to be alert, and to be fully conscious of the events that are taking place in our time which point to the coming of the Lord.

It struck me when I realized that Peter wrote, “… as unto a light that shineth in a dark place.” Surely it doesn’t take much energy to recognize a light in a dark place, because the light, no matter how faint, is easily detected. The light itself does not need to exclaim, “Here, look, this is light!” Light is so powerful that it actually cancels out darkness.

Light Exposes Darkness

This light that the apostle speaks of is the light that gives us perfect and secure guidance amidst the commotion and darkness in this world. When we read the news, listen to the radio or watch television, we are plagued with so many negative things; terrible catastrophes, wars and rumors of wars, misery and tragedy. We are being offered all types of remedies – of which none usually work – except for the Light of the world! But in the midst of the surrounding darkness in our society, we have the sure word of prophecy – the Light that guides us through the darkness.

We must remember that darkness is not going to be obliterated and will be even more powerful as the endtime progresses until there is so much darkness that even children of God are in danger of losing sight of the light.

It is quite obvious that Peter was not only speaking about the coming of the Lord, but was particularly interested in showing us that the day must also dawn in our hearts. How are our hearts enlightened?

When “the day star” has taken full possession of our earthly tabernacle and we have totally surrendered to His will and do His bidding!

The Prophetic Light

The light of the prophetic Word is not to be compared to any other light such as daylight. There is no difference between the saved and the lost, the good and the evil, because our daylight is an all-penetrating force that gives light to all men. The light we are speaking of is the Light in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

John spoke about this when he began his Gospel account and said, “In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:4-5).

This Light shines in the darkness, but as we have just read, the general population does not recognize it. Why is that the case? Isn’t this Light available everywhere? The answer is yes, even more than our daylight, which is only poured out on half of the globe at one time.

In verse 9 John makes this very clear that the Light is there for all men, “That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” Every single human being will be confronted with the Light of the world, for it “lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” But the great tragedy is that “… the darkness comprehended it not ” (John 1:5).

The Coming Light

Isaiah saw the coming of this Light approximately 750 years before the birth of Christ. He wrote, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined” (Isaiah 9:2).
The New Testament speaks of the fulfillment of this prophecy, “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up” (Matthew 4:14-16).

It is important at this point to emphasize the Gentiles’ integration and participation in the promised Light. Paul reports the following to us in Romans 15:9-13, “…that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. And again he saith, Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”

You Need Light

Is it dark in your life? Are you bothered by your surroundings? Is your day-to-day life dictated by circumstances which apparently are beyond your control? Then you are not permitting the Word of prophecy to be the light of your life. In other words, you are not really waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus.

The apostle Paul recognized the danger of not waiting for Jesus and wrote to the Corinthians, “So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1st Corinthians 1:7).

This gift of waiting for His return is something so precious I have no adequate words to describe it. When we wait for Him, everything else that oppresses and burdens us seems to fade away. Therefore, today, begin to seek the better way, the prophetic Word, the Word Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ, so that He can fill your life with the unspeakable and joyful desire of waiting for Him.

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

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THE RAPTURE SERIES 11: PROPHETIC SHADOWS OF THE RAPTURE

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The apostle Peter makes a profound statement in 1st Peter 2:5, “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” Peter is describing the believers as “lively stones:” stones used to build a spiritual house.

To build a house you need stones, bricks, blocks, lumber, steel, and concrete. The ultimate destiny of all these materials is to be used in putting the house together so that it can be occupied.

As the work progresses, the day comes when the last stone is placed into the walls of the house and it is finished. What happens then? The owner comes and occupies the house!

Solomon’s Temple Made by Gentiles

We need to take a look at the building of Solomon’s temple as the spiritual temple. Unlike the tabernacle in the wilderness that was built by the Israelites, the glorious temple that stood on Mt. Moriah in Jerusalem was prefabricated by Gentiles. We find the record of this project in 2nd Chronicles 2:17-18, “… Solomon numbered all the strangers that were in the land of Israel, after the numbering wherewith David his father had numbered them; and they were found an hundred and fifty thousand and three thousand and six hundred. And he set threescore and ten thousand of them to be bearers of burdens, and fourscore thousand to be hewers in the mountain, and three thousand and six hundred overseers to set the people awork.”

Today’s modern machinery manufactures all kinds of goods for average people to put together. Most of us have bought furniture such as a shelf or a cabinet that needed to be assembled. Excitedly we brought it home, took it out of the box, unwrapped it, and looked at all the parts. After carefully reading the instructions, we assembled it. Yet, often we were disappointed because the parts did not fit together perfectly. We might have had to drill an extra hole or enlarge an existing one. If that has been your experience, you are not alone. This kind of thing happens every day.

Yet, when we read about the assembling of the temple in Jerusalem, we notice it was absolutely perfect, “… the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house, while it was in building” (1st Kings 6:7). For all practical purposes, we can say that the temple built of stone in Jerusalem was a technological miracle.

The Spiritual Temple Will Be Finished

After the temple was finished, it was dedicated. We read of this in the fifth and sixth chapters of 2nd Chronicles. Solomon prayed extensively and in very precise detail, then followed God’s answer in chapter 7, “Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD’s house. And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the Lord upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped, and praised the Lord, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever” (verses 1-3). God took possession of His house. Even the service of the priests became insignificant; the holiness of the Lord had filled the temple.

Church And World Look Alike

This is a wonderful picture of the Church of Jesus Christ. Right now, we are insignificant “stones “in our earthly tabernacle, yet nothing is apparent of the glory of God which already dwells within us.

In an airport, a shopping center, or a large city, thousands of people walk by, none of whom have any visible characteristics that would identify them as Christians. That is because we are still in our “old tabernacles” which have no promise. However, within these old tabernacles are the perfect “stones” that will fit perfectly into this new glorious spiritual temple but will remain hidden from all natural eyes.

Silently, without any spectacles, and neither depending on nor disregarding the organizational structure of the local church, Christian ministries and denominations, the Lord is building His Church, adding to it daily such as should be saved. The moment the last “stone ” is added to the temple, “fire will come down from heaven, ” that is, Jesus will appear in the clouds of Heaven and our old, natural body will be consumed and translated in a split-second. In the twinkling of an eye, we will suddenly be transformed into the likeness of His glorious body. In that instant, we will recognize the perfect, glorious, spiritual habitation of God!

Prophetic Necessities Of The Rapture

While no signs are directly connected to the Rapture, we do know that the regathering of the nation of Israel is a visible sign that the time is close at hand. At this moment, Israel is still blind and remains an enemy of the Gospel for our sake. But we know that God will fulfill every promise He has given His people. In the near future, they will recognize Him whom they have pierced.

The fact that this time grows closer every day, and that at least seven years must lie between the Rapture of the Church and Israel’s salvation, we realize that time is indeed running out. Are you ready?

Another Gospel=Another Church

The apostle Paul’s great concern was the building of the body of Christ. Read his words, “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” (2nd Corinthians 11:2). Paul’s concern was justified because many were preaching another Jesus. “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” (2nd Corinthians 11:4). False doctrine produces a false gospel, a false Jesus, false apostles, a false angel of light, and false ministers of unrighteousness. Let’s read this important statement, “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 13-15).

This warning exposes the fact that Satan, with his cunning devices, is imitating the Church of Jesus Christ. What is his reason? So that people will not be able to distinguish between the counterfeit and the genuine! Jesus is building His Church based on election and segregation; only those who believe can become genuine members. The devil builds his global church through integration; all become one in his religion.

When Will The Church Be Complete?

The fact that the Lord used a building as an example of the Church helps us to understand that the work of laying the foundation was completed almost 2,000 years ago. The building has been under construction ever since, and it is my personal conviction that it is almost finished. I believe the roof is on the house, the painters are inside and the furniture is being delivered. Therefore, the attempt to raise a Church in the likeness of the original one in Jerusalem is not only destined to fail, but the great imitator is the major driving force behind such ideas. Satan is building another church, but it is a false one!

We have already seen how the Old Testament temple of Solomon was built; it was perfect. The Church of Jesus Christ is perfect. We must not permit ourselves to become ensnared by the imitation being offered today. In the same way that the presence of the glory of God filled the house, God intends His presence to fill His Church. That, however, cannot fully take place while we remain in our old nature of flesh and blood. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that the Rapture take place, and at that time we shall receive our glorified bodies. The Church simultaneously constitutes the Bride of Christ and the perfect habitation of God in the Spirit.

Replacement Theology

It is significant that we repeat our admonition to make a distinction between the Church and Israel. In the April 1995 edition of Pre-Trib Perspectives, Thomas Ice quoted the following from Arnold Fruchtenbaum’s, Issues in Dispensationalism:

Six reasons supporting the notion that the Church is a distinct work in God’s household from His people Israel.

1)    The first evidence is the fact that the Church was born at Pentecost, whereas Israel had existed for many centuries. This is supported by “the use of the future tense in Matthew 16:18 which shows that it did not exist in gospel history.” Since the Church born at Pentecost is called the “Body of Christ” (Colossians 1:18), and entrance into the body is through “Spirit baptism” (1st Corinthians 12:13), Jew and Gentile are united through the Church. It is evident that the Church began on the Day of Pentecost since Acts 1:5 views Spirit baptism as future, while Acts 10 links it to the past, specifically to Pentecost.

2)    The second evidence is that certain events in the ministry of the Messiah were essential to the establishment of the Church—the Church does not come into being until certain events have taken place. These events include the resurrection and ascension of Jesus to become head of the Church (Ephesians 1:20-23). “The Church, with believers as the body and Christ as the head, did not exist until after Christ ascended to become its head. And it could not become a functioning entity until after the Holy Spirit provided the necessary spiritual gifts” (Ephesians 4:7-11).

3)    The third evidence is the mystery character of the Church. A mystery in the Bible is a hidden truth not revealed until the New Testament (Ephesians 3:3-5, 9; Colossians 1:26-27). Fruchtenbaum lists “four defining characteristics of the Church [that] are described as a mystery.

(a)    The body concept of Jewish and Gentile believers united into one body is designated as a mystery in Ephesians 3:1-12.

(b)    The doctrine of Christ indwelling every believer, the Christ-in-you concept, is called a mystery in Colossians 1:24-27.

(c)    The Church as the Bride of Christ is called a mystery in Ephesians 5:22-32.

(d)    The Rapture is called a mystery in 1st Corinthians 15:50-58. These four mysteries describe qualities that distinguish the Church from Israel.

4)    The fourth evidence that the Church is distinct from Israel is the unique relationship between Jews and the Gentiles, called one new man in Ephesians 2:15.” During the current church age, God is saving a remnant from the two previous entities (Israel and Gentiles) and combining them into a third new object-the Church. This unity of Jews and Gentiles into one new man covers only the church age, from Pentecost until the Rapture, after which time God will restore Israel and complete her destiny (Acts 15:14-18). 1st Corinthians 10:32 reflects just such a division when it says, “Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the Church of God.”

5)    The fifth evidence for the distinction between Israel and the Church is found in Galatians 6:16. It appears logical to view ‘the house of God’ (Galatians 6:16) as believing Jews in contrast to unbelieving Jews called ‘Israel after the flesh’ (1st Corinthians 10:18). This passage does not support the false claim of replacement theologians who claim that Israel is supplanted by the Church. Instead, the Bible teaches that a remnant of Israel is combined with elect Gentiles during this age to make up a whole new entity the New Testament calls the Church (Ephesians 2).

Replacement theology tries to teach that because Gentile believers are described as the “seed of Abraham” (Galatians 3:29) that this is equivalent to saying that they are Israel. This is clearly not the case. Paul’s description of Gentile believers in Galatians 3:29 simply means that they participate in the spiritual (salvation) blessings, i.e., that come through Israel (Romans 15:27; 1st Corinthians 9:11, 14). “Those who are the spiritual seed are partakers of Jewish spiritual blessings but are never said to become partakers of the physical, material, or national promises.” Therefore, Israel’s national promises are left intact awaiting a yet future fulfillment.

6)    In the book of Acts, both Israel and the Church exist simultaneously. The term Israel is used twenty times and ekklesia (church) nineteen times, yet the two groups are always kept distinct.”

Thus, the replacement theologian has no actual biblical basis for his claim that Israel and the Church have become one, or that the Church has replaced Israel as the fountain of God’s blessing and the Jews are cursed forever for rejecting Christ.

The Significance Of The Distinction

If Israel and the Church are not distinguished between, then there is no basis for seeing a future for Israel or for the Church as a new and unique people of God. If Israel and the Church are merged into a single entity, the Old Testament promises for Israel will never be fulfilled. These promises are usually seen by replacement theologians as spiritually fulfilled by the Church. The merging of Israel’s destiny into the Church’s not only molds into one what the Scriptures understand as two, but it also removes the need for the future restoration of God’s original elect in order to literally fulfill His promise that they will one day be the head and not the tail, “… the Lord shall make thee the head, and not the tail; and thou shalt be above only, and thou shalt not be beneath; if that thou hearken unto the commandments of the Lord thy God, which I command thee this day, to observe and to do them” (Deuteronomy 28:13).

The more the believer sees the distinct plan for Israel and the Church, the more he realizes the two separate callings.

A distinction between Israel and the Church, as taught in the Bible, provides a basis of support for the Pre-Trib Rapture. Those who merge these two entities, or replace Israel with the Church, cannot logically support the biblical arguments for the Pre-Trib position.

Before The Foundation Of The World

We do well to understand that the act expressed by our Lord Jesus Christ on Calvary’s cross with the words, “…It is finished” was an accomplished fact from eternity and for all eternity. But it had to be fulfilled in “…the fulness of time.” Jesus was before the foundation of the world because He is from eternity. In John 17:24, we read, “…for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” And Ephesians 1:4 makes this statement, “. ..he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world….” Peter confirms, “Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (1st Peter 1:20).

Jesus came in the fullness of time and demonstrated His status as Messiah with great power, accompanied by signs and wonders. He defeated the devil on Calvary’s cross, died, was buried, arose on the third day and ascended into Heaven. He was Raptured! With His Rapture, He became the firstfruit from among the dead.

Victory Over Death

While victory over death has already been accomplished, it is not a visible reality as far as the body is concerned.

Every day, countless believers in the Lord Jesus Christ die and are buried, fulfilling the Scripture, “…absent from the body, and…present with the Lord” (2nd Corinthians 5:8). However, the visible final victory over the last enemy, which is death, has not been fulfilled so the Rapture is absolutely necessary.

First Corinthians 15:25-26 reads, “For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”

In order to solve this problem, the apostle Paul begins verse 51 with these words, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; 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. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1st Corinthians 15:51-53). The mystery is beginning to be revealed to us; we shall be changed. Our mortal body will be translated into a glorious body of immortality.

Verse 54 explains why this is necessary, “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.” Only at the Rapture will death finally be defeated for the Church! Triumphantly, the next verse exclaims, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (verse 55).

In view of this wonderful prophetic fulfillment that is yet to come, the apostle Paul cautions believers, “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (verse 58).

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

THE RAPTURE SERIES 10: THE COMING OF THE LORD (PART B)

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Who Are The Two Witnesses?

It is our understanding that Moses and Elijah, two great men of Israel, will fulfill the office of the “two olive trees” and “two candlesticks” spoken of in Revelation 11.

Elijah was a servant of God who shut the heavens so that it would not rain. Moses raised his rod and turned the waters into blood. Revelation 11:5-6 reads, “…if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.” By supernatural power, these two witnesses will be in Jerusalem testifying the truth of God to the world.

During that time, the Church of Jesus Christ, the light of this world, will be in the presence of the Lord. Israel will remain blind, having accepted the Antichrist as her redeemer. As a result, God will supernaturally interfere, to leave a testimony on earth by sending Moses and Elijah as His witnesses.

Prophets Must Be Killed In Jerusalem

However, we read that these two prophets will be killed by the beast who rises up out of the sea. Their bodies will openly lay in the streets of Jerusalem as a testimony against the world. Revelation 11:8 confirms this by reporting, “… their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.”

Jerusalem, the most glorified city, will have experienced a negative transformation. No longer will she be considered the city of the peace and joy of the Lord, but she will be called “Sodom and Egypt.” Sodom was the epitome of sin against the Lord because of the Sodomites—or in today’s vernacular, homosexuals—who ruled that city with their publically exhibited practice, which is an abomination to the Lord.

Romans 1:24 testifies, “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves.”

To be called “Egypt” would remind Jerusalem of the land of bondage, which prophetically shows that Israel will come into the bondage of the Gentile nations. This time, however, it will not be by force, but voluntarily, for Jesus prophesied that when another shall come in His name, they will receive him.

The fact that these two great prophets will die in Jerusalem reminds us of the words of the Lord “…for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem” (Luke 13:33). Elijah did not see death but was raptured into Heaven, therefore he did not die in Jerusalem. He crossed the Jordan River and then ascended into Heaven outside the borders of the Promised Land. Neither Moses nor Elijah have fulfilled Luke 13:33 in that they did not die in Jerusalem or in the Promised Land.

These two great prophets will return to Jerusalem, the center of the world, where they die, but will resurrect after 3 1/2 days and ascend into Heaven. Again, we see the Rapture demonstrated right in the city of Jerusalem.

When these two prophets are resurrected after 3 1/2 days, they will be raptured into the clouds of Heaven in view of all the people. As a result, a great earthquake will occur and, “… the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven” (Revelation 11:13). Subsequently, the Rapture of the true prophets will result in a revival among “the remnant” which undoubtedly refers to Israel, and they will give God the glory.

On the other hand, when the Rapture of the Church takes place, we find no indication in the Bible that it will result in repentance or the glorification of God. However, we believe that the “remnant “of Gentiles left behind, whose family members have been raptured, will indeed be very afraid and many will give God the glory and be converted.

The effect of the testimony of these two witnesses in Jerusalem points to Israel’s preparation for the outpouring of the Spirit of grace and supplication at the coming of Jesus.

Non Believers-Non Repentance

Let’s look at the different reactions to God’s supernatural interference as outlined for us in the book of Revelation. At the opening of the sixth seal we see that man is totally unrepentant. Beginning in Revelation 6:15-16 we read, “…the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.” Instead of repenting they try to hide from the wrath of the Lamb!

After one-third of the world’s population is killed, we read in Revelation 9:20-21, “…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.”

When the fourth and fifth angel pour out their vials, we hear this shocking testimony, “… the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory. And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds” (Revelation 16:8-11). Instead of repentance there is blasphemy! This should have been enough to bring everyone to their knees. Verses such as this leave no room for the mocking attitude of those who say, “Well, I only believe what I see.” The people referred to in Revelation 16 see the indisputable evidence of the God of Creation with their own eyes, yet they still find no room for repentance, or space to believe.

Michael The Archangel

The book of Daniel specifically identifies Michael the archangel as being on Israel’s side, “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book” (Daniel 12:1). This verse is referring to the Great Tribulation. Michael the archangel is standing for the defense of Israel. We can well imagine that when the Rapture takes place, the “shout” that is heard will be the voice of Michael, for he will come in defense of Israel.

With the Church gone, there will be no more prayers for Israel, resulting in total darkness for her. For the first time in history, the Jews will be in danger of totally losing their identity. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary that Michael come into action for this people because the Church is gone.

It is significant to note that Michael’s action on behalf of Israel will not be evident from the beginning. When the Church is raptured, the Jews’ trouble will have only just begun. After Israel has accepted the Antichrist as her Messiah, they must go through to the end of the seven-year tribulation. . .only then will Israel experience salvation.

The Meeting Place

Jesus is not coming to earth at the time of the Rapture. That will only happen when Jesus’ feet literally stand upon the Mount of Olives. This event will be fulfilled only after the Rapture takes place. In the very same manner He left Israel, He must return for Israel.

According to the Acts of the Apostles, when Jesus ascended into Heaven, the disciples looked up toward Heaven. Two unidentified men dressed in white gave this message, “…Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Jesus will physically come back to the Mount of Olives for Israel just as the prophets declared, “And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south” (Zechariah 14:4).

The meeting place for the Church with her Lord is described very clearly, “… in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air….” This first phase of the Second Coming, which we call the Rapture, is not for Israel or the world; it is only for His blood-bought believers, Jews and Gentiles!

Two Rapture Categories

The Rapture involves two categories of believers: those who have already died in the Lord and those who are still alive at that moment. It is this great hope that the Church of Jesus Christ has had for many centuries: the sudden removal and translation of our bodies which leads us into the presence of the Lord.

The apostle Paul’s prayer and deep yearning gave him the comfort, “For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life”‘(2nd Corinthians 5:4). He had a living hope of the reality of the Rapture!

The apostle Paul also accepted the possibility that he would have to die and be separated from his physical body which he reveals in 2nd Corinthians 5:6, “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord.” In verse 8 he confesses, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” This is a demonstration of genuine faith, “…for we walk by faith, not by sight.” From the beginning, his hope, and by association, the hope of the Church, was the coming of the Lord in the clouds of Heaven. The early

Christians were waiting for the Rapture to take place at any moment, just as we are today. Nevertheless, they fully accepted the possibility that they might have to die first.

The Glorified Body

What is the difference between dying now and being in the presence of the Lord, or not dying and being raptured into the presence of the Lord? We have already seen the desire expressed by Paul in 2nd Corinthians 5:4 to be “…clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life.” In other words, to have their body instantaneously translated into the likeness of His glorious body, which believers are to receive the moment of the Rapture. Read Paul’s words: “For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed, we shall not be found naked” (2nd Corinthians 5:2-3).

To understand this better, let us take a look at one of the mysteries that the Bible reveals in relation to the Rapture, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; 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. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1st Corinthians 15:51-53). This will take place instantaneously. A Dutch translation says “…in an inseparable moment of time…” In simple words, this means that the bodies in which we now dwell have no promise or future on earth.

Knowledge Of Death Brings Wisdom

May we urge you, dear reader, to recognize that day by day, we are getting older. You may have more aches and pains and some parts of your body may not function like they used to. If you are physically fit, you can rest assure that it won’t last. As impossible as it may sound, do not despair-but rejoice, for the end of this very short earthly life is the beginning of eternity. We do well to heed the admonition found in Psalm 90:12, “… teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” When our hope and faith is anchored securely in Jesus and not in our own works, we can rejoice with the full assurance that the best is yet to come!

Glory Without The Body

For this reason, we should not spend too much time or energy promoting the healing of the body, as many prosperity preachers and healing ministries try to do. The Bible says “… it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” While the body is important, as we have seen in Moses’ case, we must understand that our flesh and blood are only part of the outer shell which contains the new person. All who have died in the Lord Jesus are already in His presence without their glorified bodies. This means they are not “made perfect.” They are saved for all eternity, are secure forever and are already experiencing the glory of the Lord. Yet they must wait until they receive their glorified body which will take place at the Rapture.

Receiving our glorified bodies also includes the Old Testament saints. Hebrews 11 is the chapter of faith that begins with its definition: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Followed by the definition is the testimony of a great host of saints who claimed the victory because they believed.

Verse 35 reveals the difference between physical resurrection unto life and the better resurrection unto eternal life, “Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection.” The last two verses summarize their reason for waiting, “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, recieved not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect” (Hebrews 11:39- 40). In simple terms, the saints cannot be translated until the Bridegroom receives His Bride: The Church.

The Best Is Yet To Come

To further clarify this matter, we read again from 1st Thessalonians 4:15, “For we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.” What does it mean to “not prevent them which are asleep”? Luther translated it this way, “We shall not advance (or be ahead) of those who sleep.” Verse 16 concludes with the following statement, “… the dead in Christ shall rise first.” They have been waiting longer than us and will be the first to receive their glorified bodies.

A Warning

At this point we must express to you a strong warning. When the Rapture does take place, it will be too late for you to belong to the Church. If you are not born again at that time you will definitely be left behind! The Rapture is the perfecting of the Bride of Christ. If you are left behind it will be too late to belong to the Church.

Dr. Wim Malgo used this example: “This change, the sudden renewal, will take place as quickly as the response of an electric lightbulb to the operation of a switch that is turned on. Suddenly, it is light! Only a moment before, the bulb looked grey and dismal but because it is connected to the power supply and the switch is operated, it is instantly transformed. This can be seen every evening in towns and cities everywhere, as thousands upon thousands of little glass bulbs are transformed in an instant when the switch is operated. This is a wonderful illustration of the transformation of God’s children when Jesus comes.”

Everything you have done for the Kingdom of God up until that point will count for eternity. In the same way, everything you have neglected to do or postponed will be a loss for all eternity!

No Endtime Signs For The Rapture

No signs will precede the coming Rapture. How vain is the attempt of man to think that he can pick the mind of the Almighty God by using mathematical theories to calculate the day of the Lord’s return? Many have been put to shame in the past and great damage has been done to the Church of Jesus Christ because some have tried to “figure out” the exact date of the Rapture. We may no the season that we are in, but none of us will know the exact date.

Waiting For Him Alone

Virtually all Bible-believing Christians agree that the Word of God warns us to be ready at any time. That being the case, any statement regarding the timing of the Rapture is contrary to Scripture. If someone tells us that the Rapture will take place at the beginning, middle, or even after the Great Tribulation, then we logically wouldn’t have to wait for the Lord today. If we are told to wait for something else to happen, such as the tribulation or the appearance of the Antichrist, our priority will shift: we do not need to wait for Jesus because something else is to take place first.

When we transfer this to the event of the Rapture, it becomes extremely dangerous because now we would have to change Titus 2:13 from, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ,” to, “Looking for the coming of the Great Tribulation and the appearance of the Antichrist.” If that were true, we would have to wait for the beginning of the tribulation, or as recently popularized, the beginning of the Pre-wrath period.

Such an idea is extremely dangerous and diametrically opposes the teaching of the Holy Scripture.

Someone may object to this and say, “Hasn’t the Lord given us many signs that we should take notice of preceding His coming?” Yes, that is true. However, these signs were given for His physical coming to earth, or to be more precise, for Israel when He comes to the Mount of Olives. He was specifically addressing the people of Israel and gave them signs to notice. When He sent out His disciples, Jesus told them not to go to the Gentiles but only to the house of Israel because a promise was given to them that the kingdom of God would come on earth. In general, the signs of the Bible are given to the Jewish people, but the Jews themselves are a sign to us!

The fact that Israel became a nation in 1948, and is being established today as one of the power centers of the Middle East, indicates that the time is drawing near. We must heed the Lord’s words more than ever, “… when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).

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

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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)