Have we fogotten about the Rapture?

Friend:
May be a good topic for your blog. Why is it that the Mormon Church, Jehovah Witnesses, etc. seem to hold to a higher standard than evangelical Christians? Are we willing to do for the truth what others will do for a lie? Are there any Christian colleges or universities that have and HOLD to a similar code of conduct?
http://msn.foxsports.com/collegebasketball/story/byu-honor-code-dismissal-of-brandon-davies-deserves-praise-030311

James:
While I was somewhat inspired by the article you linked to, If your assessment is accurate, I think one of the reasons is due to the fact that those worldviews are works-based while the Evangelicals rely on the finished work of Christ on the cross. I also think that a lot of what passes for evangelical Christianity is actually not.
As far as its blog worthiness, how do you suggest that I demonstrate your proposition that the Mormon Church, Jehovah Witnesses, etc. seem to hold to a higher standard than evangelical Christians? In, other words, how did you reach this conclusion, that way I won’t appear to engage in mere speculation.

Friend:
Thanks for reading and responding. The article’s intent was not to inspire per se. I think evangelical Christians should rely upon the finished work of Christ but that does not exclude works that are done by the empowerment and guiding of the Holy Spirit. I think James 2:14-26 gives a good picture of how faith brings about works.

James:
Well, it inspired me nonetheless. By the way, I did not say that the Finished Work excludes the good works that we are called to do.

Friend:
I don’t have empirical evidence to offer at the moment but I don’t ever remember representatives from a local church knocking on my door (except for the church I am currently attending after we visited for the first time). I have however had Muslim, Mormon and Jehovah Witnesses knock on my door to share their religious views.

James:
You say that you don’t have any empirical evidence to offer, then in the very next sentence you offer empirical evidence. I think I’ll let that one slide 😉

Friend:
The blog was just a conversational thought and not meant as an action item. I think the action item is for us to continue living the life for Christ and sharing the Gospel message.

James:
All the same, I still think that my request (that you provide substantiation for your claim) was legitimate. It was also a trap to get you to think about the nature of evidence but for the time being I’m going to let this one slide as I see that you have introduced a softball (later on in your reply) that I would like to hit out of the park.

Friend:
Since you are downtown now, perhaps we can have an eBible study via conference call or Skype, etc. As mentioned before, I would be glad to host you ….)

James:
It is always enjoyable to engage in dialogue with someone who makes the time to flip through scripture; I suspect that for many Christians this is a burden (to be undertaken only on Sundays) rather than a delight. I would be happy to set up the remote bible study you requested.

Friend:
Keep living the life and looking forward to the 2nd (and final) coming of our Lord and Savior (or for you millenialists, the next coming before the final coming ☺). Have a blessed week and make it a point to tell someone the Good News!

James:
(as a Scripturalist – not a millenialist?) It’s nice to know that I won’t be hanging around on earth waiting for Christ’s final return during the seven year unveiling of God’s wrath known as the great tribulation; which incidentally, the bible calls the worst period to ever occur in human history (Matthew 24:21, Luke 21:25-26). Furthermore and perhaps more importantly, you too should be looking forward to the comfort afforded by the blessed hope (Titus 2:13, 1 Thessalonians 4:18, 1 Thessalonians 5:11) that we call the Rapture, instead of trying to wait it out until the second coming of Christ. For although the Rapture is not the same as Christ’s 2nd coming, Christ does return transiently to scoop up His people as he promised in John 14:3, 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, and 1 Corinthians 15:23-51-52. During this brief appearance, Christ’s foot never touches the ground since the rapture takes place in the air and believers (the dead in Christ that are resurrected and we Christians who remain on the earth) will meet Him in the sky, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye. This event contrasts the 2nd coming when Christ feet will touch the ground at the Mount of Olives splitting that bad boy into two (Zechariah 14:4).

According to scripture, we know that during Christ second coming (which occurs at the end of the great tribulation) He does consolidate His “elect” from all over as mentioned in Matthew 24:31 and Mark 13:27. The word “elect” in the bible refers to both Israel and the Church (Isaiah 45:4, Isaiah 65:9, Matthew 24:31, 1 Peter 1:2, Colosians 3:12). However, Jeremiah 9:25-26 suggests that Isreal (and not the Church) will be the elect entity that must endure the great tribulation.
Therefore, since the Church is already in heaven attending the Wedding that occurs during the great tribulation (Revelation 19:7-8); and since God said that in that day (when Christ returns in wrath), no Jew would be left outside Israel: “I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them [among other nations] any more” (Ezekiel 39:28, cf. Isaiah 27:12; Amos 9:9); it seems reasonable to interpret Matthew 24:31 in light of God’s promise to gather Israel from all ends of the earth.

Notwithstanding, we also know for certain that Christ comes for the church before the great tribulation because of the aforementioned verses and by other compelling evidences in scripture. For instance:

1 Thessalonians 1:10 tell us that believers are waiting for Christ, who, from heaven delivers us from the wrath (the great tribulation) to come. 2 Peter 2:9 reminds us that God knows how to deliver the godly (believers) out of temptation. The greek word “peirasmos” translated as ‘temptation’ is a perfectly good interpretation but in today’s parlance the word ‘temptation’ has lost its archaic semantic range. A contemporary substitute, with the same meaning as the archaic sense of “temptation” is “adversity” or “evil experience.” As if further proof was required, the five verses that precede 2 Peter 2:9 provide two examples of God doing just that; delivering the godly out of adversity and evil experiences that are brought upon the world’s inhabitants. Also, in Revelations 3:10 Christ promises to protect the eschatological Church of Philadelphia from “the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth”; this obvious reference to the great tribulation also translates the same greek word “peirasmos” as “temptation.” Finally, the parallelism employed in the Lord’s Prayer (…lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil) conveys what is sometimes contextually meant by the word temptation, namely, evil. The take home message is simple; God knows how to deliver the godly out of the tribulation that He has planned for the unjust.

Jude 1:14, 1 Thessalonians 3:13 and Zechariah 14:5 tells us that when Christ comes back to open up a can of “you know what” during the battle of Armageddon, that He is accompanied by all His saints. I wonder how this can occur if they (His saints) still remain on the earth waiting for His return or if their bodies (especially in the case of “the dead in Christ”) are not yet resurrected which is also a prerequisite (Isaiah 26:19-21, 1 Corinthians 15:52, 1 Thessalonians 4:16).
Also, what would be the purpose of Christ taking some folks and leaving others behind (as we are told in Matthew 24:40-41 and Luke 17:35-36) during His second coming since this is the last coming? After all, why would God wait until the second coming to rescue the saints that are supposed to be accompanying Him at the start of His second coming? Why allow the saints to undergo this wrath that is purposefully meant for those that did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thessalonians 2:12)? This is akin to watching your wife get violently beaten up and then coming in after the ordeal is done to give her a hand, when all the while, you had the means to prevent her from undergoing the pain and anguish in the first place. In contrast, God’s great tribulation brings a lot more than just pain and anguish, it brings inescapable torture. I say this because the bible indicates that during the great tribulation, earth’s tormented inhabitants will try to kill themselves to escape the wrath of God (Revelations 9:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:9) but will be unable to die (on their own terms anyway); they will pray for the mountains to fall upon them and put them out of their misery but to no avail (Revelations 6:6). Now why would Christ voluntarily allow His bride (the church) to undergo all of this?

Incidentally, I’m not sure how the marriage of the Lamb (Revelations 19:9), which is supposed to take place in heaven during the great tribulation, can occur if the Lamb’s bride, the church of believers (Ephesians 5:24-27, 32, Romans 7:4, 2 Corinthians 11:2, Revelation 19 7-9), is still down on earth enduring the unbridled wrath and condemnation of God. That they should endure this ignominious judgment also flies in the face of verses like Romans 8:1, 1 Thessalonians 5:9 and John 3:36 which state that the believer is not appointed unto wrath or condemnation.

I leave you with a song that my mom taught me when I was young:

I’ll be caught up to meet Him in the air
No more sorrows will I have to bear
Cause in the twinkling of an eye
He’s gonna take me through the sky
I’m going back, I’m going back,
I’m going back with Jesus when he comes

P.S. Life can’t be too tough for a sinner saved by grace

Friend:
Looks like you are trying to start a blog nonetheless!  You responded to everything but whom you shared the Good News…sometimes we miss the simplest elements of our salvation and calling.

James:
So you want to know who I shared the Good News with? You should already know that! I shared the Good News (that believers will be delivered from the wrath to come) with my friend (you!) who apparently doesn’t believe that to be the case. After, all, isn’t that (being spared from God’s wrath) also part of the Gospel (John 3:36, Romans 5:9).

I haven’t missed any elements of my calling; that is precisely why I have a blog called ChristPlusZero.org that puts the Good News (i.e. The Faith) on blast 24 x 7.

The simplest elements of our calling (i.e. presenting someone with the Good News) require that we ourselves have salt within us (Col 4:6). We have to study to show ourselves approved workman that can instruct those that contradict themselves by rightly dividing the Word of truth (2 Ti 2:15,25); but how can you perform the simplest elements of your salvation and calling if you yourself use man’s wisdom (i.e. appealing to the evidence outside the bible) to answer questions about the bible that are sure to come once you start sharing the good news? If your way of contending for the faith is to appeal to man’s ability to interpret some circumstantial evidence you present him with, how do you expect that person’s faith not to rest in the evidence you provide instead of the power of God which is found in His Word? It’s easy to share the Good news. It’s a little harder to reprogram ourselves from using man’s way of contending to God’s way of contending.

Next time, A better exhortation would be to encourage your brothers in Christ to make sure they are cracking open the word on a daily so they can always be ready to drop the good news on someone in a way that is meaningful.

Friend:
Works-based Christianity?

James:
Bible-based Christianity!

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4 thoughts on “Have we fogotten about the Rapture?

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