jesu with us“Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.” (Rev. 3:10)

PROPHETIC VIEWS are not a salvation issue for me. While, rapture “haters gonna hate” it is one of those things (at least for me) that we can agree to disagree on as Christians.  In my opinion, very few seem to believe in and preach on the RAPTURE of the saints before the Great Tribulation these days, I will continue to do so charitably. There are those who avoid speaking about the rapture due to the all the false prophecies that have been made especially in the last few years.  But it makes no biblical sense to change doctrine because people have misunderstood it or preached it incorrectly.

In my humble understanding, there are three Advents or “arrivals” of Christ.  The first Advent was his incarnation (God coming as man) when he came to bring us salvation from sin (Matt 1:23; 1 Tim 3:16).  The second Advent will be the Rapture of the church “in the air” which will be his salvation from the seven year Great Tribulation (1 Thess. 4:13-18).  The third Advent will be his coming to earth to rule and reign for 1000 years ( Rev. 19:11-14; Zech. 14:1-4).

The Rapture is when the saints who died and those who are alive “will be suddenly caught up together…in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord.” (1 Thess. 4:17).  Christ’s coming in the Rapture for christian people is imminent meaning that he could return at any time.  Many passages suggest this (1 Corinthians 1:7; Philippians 3:20; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Timothy 6:14; Titus 2:13; Revelation 22:20).

“The basic idea of the Rapture is drawn from the Latin term for “caught up”—rapturo. It means that the church of Jesus Christ, those who have trusted in Christ as their Savior, will literally be transported from earth to heaven in an instant. There will be no death for those who are raptured. They will be taken—caught up—in the air to be with Jesus! Paul believed that Jesus’ return was imminent, and that brought great comfort to him in his daily struggles. It is not difficult to understand Paul’s longing for this to occur when faced with the trials we are confronted with daily. However, no one knows when this will happen. We do know that we are given His Word as the assurance that it will happen.” (C. Stanley)

The sense of Christ’s coming seems to not hold the same excitement as it once did for some and the idea that, “Today could be the day.”  no longer seem to be as the Bible says, “the Blessed Hope.” As a young believer, I was excited about the rapture. I was excited that one day I would be able to see the Jesus that saved me from from the miry clay of sin. The Jesus that I loved was coming for me.  I was excited about being in heaven with all the men and women that I was reading about in the Scripture. I was excited to be with those that I knew as believers that had died and went home before me. Many times after prayer or being in church I had a real sense of the presence of Christ knowing he could take me home to heaven  at any moment.  It also gave me the sense that every day I could expect great things from God.  Now at this point in my Christian faith, truly understanding justification by faith alone and the grace of God I can truly do what Paul says and comfort and encourage-not TERRIFY others with these words! Those wonderful words of grace which speak about the coming of Jesus for his people.

Some Christians forget, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” (Phil 1:21-23).  To be with Jesus is FAR BETTER! But today it is like the old preacher said, “Everyone wants to go to heaven but nobody wants to die.”  Jesus tells us, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” (John 5:24).  I am excited that Jesus who is the resurrection and the life (John 11:25) and Christ who is our life (Col 3:4) will appear for us and bring us home at any moment! Some Christian people wonder if they will make it because they struggle with sin. I did not say trying to get away with sin, but  they fight sinful issues. Paul prayed,  “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thess 5:23). Paul also taught that Christ will, “Present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, (Col 1:22). Child of God get ready, the Lord loves you and wants you with him, he has reserved a wonderful place for you already (John 14:1-3). 

I think because people have lost this hope of the RAPTURE it seem they are giving in to a fear of death or at least the unknown. The Bible says that Jesus came so through his, “death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” (Heb 2:15).  In fact, through the new birth (John 3:3-5) the Christian has already been spiritually resurrected. Their bodies will be transformed, into a spiritual body that will be imperishable and and raised in power (Phil 3:21; 1 Cor 15:34, 42, 44). Whoopeee!  Those bodies will have no pain, and never die. Each body will have a label marked by the eternal designer God as it were, which says, “made in heaven.”  (2 Cor. 5:1). That is awesome.  This means they already have eternal life. That is exciting!  Today, yes today could be the day.

You Are Alive-For Now

Ever ask a person how they are and they reply, “I am alive.”

King Solomon says being alive is much better than you realize.

“For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.”  (Eccl. 9:4-6).

That is the brutal staggering truth of the book of Ecclesiastes: the whole idea is that life itself is vanity-an unpredictable bubble that bursts. That is why it is useless to worry or be afraid of tommorow.  God has given you life today. Enjoy your lot in life, your family, your marriage or singleness, the food or lack thereof, the designer or second hand clothes.

Benefit from being alive.

Today you can breathe in fresh air, see sunshine or feel rain. Tommorow’s appointments  can be scheduled but never confirmed. “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (James 4:14).  The clock is ticking and time is up before you know it. It is a short, frail existence and when death comes it will brush you aside like an old cobweb, but for now you are alive.

The preacher is shouting from and pounding on his Old Testament pulpit  that to be alive no matter your station in life  is better than being dead.  Death is not only the great equalizer, but it humbles all its victims great and small.  A living undomesticated mangy dog compared to a living lion is lowest on the food chain. But a mongrel with his heart beating is better than the muted roar of  the dead King of Beasts.

No matter how insignificant you feel about your job, you are alive. Whether or not you like  your appearance-you are alive. No matter how little or much income you earn-you are alive.  It does not matter that no one knows you, or if everyone knows you.  

People may hate you, they may love you-but what does that matter when you are dead? Can you feel offended, insecure, jealous or even hate when you lie six feet under. Can you love, forgive and be generous when you are dead. You cannot see anyone’s smile or frown from the vantage point of a casket. You cannot! You come in naked you go out naked and nothing from this life is transferred into eternity. Live alive. Be alive. Today is here. Tommorow may never come for you if death gets there first.

You may be sick and in pain, but it is a sign of life. You may be lying on a hospital bed but you are alive. You may have lost the closest friend or relative and you live with heartache but you are alive. Why give up on life that has not given up on you? Life is your best friend right now. It is a gift from God. Count your blessings because no matter how you feel about your life you are alive and that is huge.

Today you have something you do not have when you are dead and that is opportunity. Today is the great mercy God has given you.

The reason this is important is because you know that one day you will die and you have the opportunity to prepare for death. Only those who are prepared to die are ready to live. You will face God one day and you must prepare. Hear the voice of the preacher today. “This is an evil among all things that are done under the sun, that there is one event unto all.” (Eccl. 9:3a).  The KJV describes death as the one event. The death event is coming. It comes to all.  While you are alive do not ignore it. While there is breath there is hope.

Adam ushered in the death event with his sin in the Garden of Eden, “…by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” (Rom. 5:12). You do not realize what a rebel and traitor to God you have been yet he extends another day of mercy toward you.  Isaiah said it well, “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:  Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.’ (Isaiah 55:6-7).   Prepare for death by repenting of your sins, believing the message that Christ died for sinners to give them eternal life.  He was the Lion of Lions and yet he died for dead dogs like us. That may be offensive but what are our lives compared to the holiness of God?

Inside the sinner is dead. Their spirit is dead.  This person has no hunger or love for God in this state and all they think of is selfishness and conceit. In their religion they are dead. In their good deeds they are dead.  But even though they have despised their God he comes to them with the message that Christ died for sinners. God in his mercy has let you live up to this point-what will you do knowing one day you will die?

Jesus Christ rose from the dead so you would not have to lie in the grave. If you rely on anything: good works, religious affiliation, social activities, anything except what Christ transacted on the cross you will die in your sins and nothing will save you from the God you have offended.  You cannot follow your own path, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Prov. 14:12). While there is hope turn to the Price of Life Jesus Christ who will, “deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” (Heb 2:15).