March 16, 2009
I greet you once again in the Name Of Jesus!
Interest in Bible prophecy seems to come in cycles. There is great interest now. Interestingly, even the secular world is picking up on the idea that something is happening. We are coming to the climax of the plan of God for the ages, which will culminate in the catching away or rapture of the Church. The rapture will simultaneously usher in the seven-year period of time known as the great tribulation. This is a period of time that will be so awful that Jesus said there has never been any time like it before, nor will there ever be again! [See Matt. 24:21] Also speaking of this period of time, He said that unless those days were shortened; no flesh would survive. [See Matt. 24:22]
There is much debate, and in my opinion, much confusion in the Church concerning the timing of the Second Coming of Christ. Some hold to the position that the Church will see the first three and a half years of the tribulation. This is known as the mid-tribulation theory. Still others see the Church facing the awful outpouring of the wrath of God on the earth, and the anti-Christ. This is known as the post-tribulation theory. In this teaching we see Jesus returning in glory after the tribulation to execute final judgment and to set up His reign upon the earth. In this theory the Church rises to meet the Lord in the air, then immediately returns to earth with Him. Many wonderful scholars hold to both of the aforementioned positions. I have great respect and love for my brethren who hold to these ideas. In all due respect however, I believe that both positions are incorrect.
The Bible admonishes every believer to,
15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.[2 Tim. 2:15 KJV] If one can rightly divide the Word of Truth, it seems that one could wrongly divide it. I believe that many prophecy teachers have wrongly divided the Word when it comes to the timing of prophetic events. This largely comes from not recognizing God’s division of people groups in the earth. God sees three groups of people, Jews, Gentiles (nations), and the Church. [See 1 Cor. 10:32] He has plans and purposes for all three. There are written decrees for all three. Israel has a special place in the plan of God. The Church has a special place in the plan of God, as do the Nations of the world. Israel is not the Church, and the Church is not Israel. We must understand this or our end-time doctrine will never be straight.
Toward the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, He made a very interesting statement while teaching concerning the coming Comforter. He said,
12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. [John 16:12, 13 NKJV] In essence, Jesus is saying, “I have much more to reveal to you, and impart to you, but you simply can’t handle it right now.” They needed the indwelling teacher, the Holy Ghost, to reveal the deeper things at a later time. Jesus made this statement to His closest disciples. One thing that Jesus did not reveal to His disciples during His earthly ministry were details concerning the rapture and resurrection. Therefore, if you are going to learn about the rapture and resurrection, you are not going to find it in the gospels; I.E. Matthew – John.
In fact, you are not going to find this truth revealed in any of the writings of the original eleven disciples or Apostles. It is hinted at in 1 John, but not fully revealed. No my dear friend, you are only going to find detailed revelation concerning the rapture and resurrection in the writings of the Apostle Paul, in the epistles. Even though Paul was not one of the original twelve, he received much direct revelation from Jesus Himself. Following his dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus in Acts 9, the Bible tells us that Paul spent fourteen years in the Arabian desert not conferring with man, but under the direct tutorship of the Lord Jesus Christ. [See Gal. 2:1, 2]
Second, we know that at one point Paul was caught up into the third heaven and saw many unspeakable things. [See 2 Cor. 12:1 – 4] During these times of deep fellowship in the presence of the Lord Paul was given the full revelation of the Church, the doctrines of grace, face, and circumcision; as well as the revelation of the rapture and resurrection. The doctrine of the resurrection is very clearly delineated in I Corinthians 15. The catching away is revealed in 1 Thessalonians 4. I find it amazing that the Holy Ghost chose to reveal the rapture to the saints in Thessalonicia. It seems there was much sorrow in this city among the believers. Paul had taught these believers, and rightly so, to expect Jesus to come back at any moment. However, there quickly arose a problem when some of their friends, family, and loved ones started to die! What was to become of them? Would they then have to miss the rapture? It is in this setting that Paul wrote,
18Therefore comfort one another with these words. [1 Thess. 4:13 – 18 NASB]
Notice that Paul stated that this was to be a comforting message. I submit to you, how could it be a comforting message if Paul had been saying, “Listen, forget the Coming of the Lord! Forget your loved ones! You need to concentrate on getting ready for the anti-Christ!” No thank God, that is not what Paul was saying at all! He concludes this message in verse 18 with the word, “therefore.” In other words, Paul is saying, “Therefore [because of the aforementioned fact that the dead in Christ shall be raised to new life and that we who remain will be caught up to meet them in the air to be with Lord forever], you can have great comfort, not only for yourselves, but also for your loved ones in Christ, whether dead or alive, because we shall all rise to meet Him.” That is shouting ground folks! That is the revelation of the rapture.
We will have much more next time, including an exposition on 2 Thessalonians 2.
The Weekly Word is found in 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 2. Here the Bible says,
1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. [2 Thess. 2:1, 2 NKJV]
Until next time, this is THE WEEKLY WORD.
Pastor Kevin E. Johnson