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

0 RAPTURE

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)

Donations

$5.00

Donations

$10.00

Donations

$100.00

THE RAPTURE SERIES 11: PROPHETIC SHADOWS OF THE RAPTURE

0 RAPTURE

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)

0 RAPTURE

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)

Donations

$5.00

Donations

$10.00

Donations

$100.00

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

0 RAPTURE

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 4: THEN WE WHICH ARE ALIVE

0 RAPTURE

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

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

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

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

The Two-Phase Coming

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

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

His Coming At His Appointed Time

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

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

Two Types Of Dead

1) Those who die without faith

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

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

2) Those who live by faith

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

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

The First Living Rapture

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

We Are Already Dead

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

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

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

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

Anti-Christianity

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

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

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

Fellowship Of Suffering

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fellowship With Death

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

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

Enoch Walked With God

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

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

Rapture Of Enoch

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

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

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

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

The Rapture Of Elijah

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

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

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

Rapture By A Whirlwind

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

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

The Olive Tree

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

Church To Be Separated

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

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

The False Gospel

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

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

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