So much is being said these days about an event happening to the Christian Church called “The Rapture”. However the teaching surrounding this particular view has only been around for about the past 150 to 200 years. It was never taught in the early Church at all. Without going into how this teaching came about, as time and space won’t allow, let us instead look at a parable that Jesus taught with a couple of supporting verses by the Apostle’s Paul and Peter.
In Matthew 13: 24 – 30 Jesus taught the following parable:
24 Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. 26 But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. 27 So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”
Then in verses 36 through 43 Jesus was asked to explain this parable and here is what He said:
36 Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house. And His disciples came to Him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the tares of the field.”
37 He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. 39 The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. 40 Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. 41 The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, 42 and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!
After reading this, what would your reaction be? When anyone always talked to Jesus and mentioned about the resurrection at the last day Jesus never corrected them. Why? Because He knew that this was, in fact, the right thing to say. The resurrection of believers and non-believers alike would occur on the last day; the Day of Judgment.
In 2 Thessalonians 1: 3 – 10 the Apostle Paul wrote the following:
3 We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other, 4 so that we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that you endure, 5 which is manifest evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you also suffer; 6 since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you, 7 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, 8 in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe,[a] because our testimony among you was believed.
Here Paul talks about God’s final judgment and glory. He talks about believers being patient and for keeping their faith in the face of persecutions and tribulations and for enduring until the coming of Christ, in flaming fire, Who will take vengeance on those who do not know God and will punish them with everlasting destruction. This all happens on the day that He comes to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe. All of this is a one time occurrence that takes place on the last day – the Day of Judgment.
Looking at one last Scripture verse, the Apostle Peter, in 2 Peter 3: 7 and in verses 10 – 13 writes the following:
7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
10 But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. 11 Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, 12 looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? 13 Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
Peter is talking about the “day of judgement”, what will happen at that time, and why, and that this is something for which we should be looking. In short, the “day of judgment”, the “last day” and the “resurrection” all happen at one time. They are all one and the same.
As Jesus taught, and supported by both Paul and Peter, at the “end of the age”, which is the “last day” and “the day of Judgment” is also the day of “resurrection” for both the believers and non-believers alike. The non-believers (tares) will be gathered and thrown into the Lake of Fire and the Believers (wheat) “will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
As stated at the beginning, the teaching of the so-called “Rapture” entered into certain denominational teachings in only about the past 150 to 200 hundred years. Before that there was no teaching like this and the only teaching was a biblical one in that there was only going to be a one time event at the end of the age, or the end of time, also known as “last day”, the “day of resurrection” and the “day of judgment”.
On that day, the great day of the coming of the Lord Jesus, Believers in Him, both the dead and those who are alive will be raised up to be with Jesus and they will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. It is a day that the Apostle Paul said that Jesus will be glorified in His saints and will be admired among all those who believe, and the Apostle Peter said that this is a day that we should be looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God because we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
As Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (John 8: 47 Jesus tells us who they are who will hear)
Many people call themselves a Christian. For many different reason they believe they are and even they who have “accepted?” Jesus as their personal Savior are sure that they are going to Heaven, even though the life they live does not show it. In Matthew 7: 21 – 23 Jesus says the following:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
Now why would Jesus say this if everyone who calls Him “Lord” is saved? Is it because many people believe that because they have answered an alter call of some kind and have “accepted” Jesus as their personal Savior, and go on with their life believing that they have been forgiven and that God loves them just as they are? In most cases, Yes! The Apostle Peter knew this and in his letter (2 Peter 1: 5 – 11) the Apostle wrote the following:
But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.
Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Peter reminds those, who say they have obtained like faith, that if you are a follower of Jesus then these characteristic should be apart of their lives. If not, they are blind and unfruitful in their knowledge of the Lord Jesus. They may not be true followers at all. For this reason Peter reminds them about this and tells them that they should make sure that the calling they say they have received is because of God’s election of them and not because of some action they took to receive salvation; to make sure that their works and actions will show their faith and that they have been cleansed from their sins. What Peter reminds these followers basically is the same thing that Jesus preached to they who were following Him while He was on the earth. Just because someone has “accepted” Jesus as their personal Savior does not necessarily prove that they are true-born again, called by God, followers of the Lord Jesus. In fact they really are not Christians, elected of God, but workers of lawlessness blinded by their unfruitful works and not realizing that their religiosity is just for show; much like what the Pharisees of the time were doing. They were relying on their works and not on what Jesus has done for them. How about you? Maybe you should take a look at your life, your works, the fruits of your salvation and to check to make sure that your life does show your call and election is sure and real. It would be a terrible thing to hear after death the words of Jesus, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” Now is the time to find out the truth of your salvation. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The Bible is the number one best-selling book of all time. It is also on the list of the least read books, and there is reason for that.
Anyone can take the Bible and read it for the literary and poetic aspect. Many will also take it and read it for the varied stories and historical information that it has. Then there are those who will try to read it for spiritual guidance and in the end get nothing from it. Interestingly, the reason they cannot do so is because they are not true-born again Christians. Even the Bible will state that non-Christians will not understand its spirituality.
In 1st Corinthians 2: 14 we read the following:
“But the natural man perceives not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
Now I know that the Holy Spirit can take any verse and cause anyone, even non-Christians, to understand the spirituality of any verse but why would He? For if that person is not a child of God the spiritual information would basically be of no use to them as they would not truly understand what it is that God is saying.
Also, Jesus made references to this same thing. In John 8: 42 – 47 Jesus, in talking to the Jews while teaching in the Temple, said the following:
42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.”
Jesus tells them from where He came and they just could not understand what He was saying. He even asks them why is it that they do not understand what He is saying. Then right away He explains that it is because they are not able to listen to Him. Not only that but He also plainly says that the reason that they cannot hear and understand what He is teaching is because they “do not” belong to God. Only they who belongs to God will hear what He is saying and they also will understand what He is saying.
Again, the unsaved or “natural” man, the one who is not “born again” of God, will not be able to understand what the Spirit of God is saying because it needs to be spiritually understood and that is something that they simply cannot do.
Then, in John 10: 24 – 30 Jesus is asked a question and He gives a simple answer to what they ask:
24 Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. 26 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.”
The Jews asked Him if He was the Christ and the answer that Jesus gives is simple – Yes. He said, “I told you, and you do not believe” Then He goes on and tells them “why” they do not believe. It is because they do not belong to Him. They are not true-born again followers of Christ and they do not have the ability to believe in the spiritual aspects of what Jesus is teaching. He is the Messiah but only they who belong to Him not only will “hear” His voice, what He says, but will also “follow” Him where ever He goes. He gives them eternal life and He will never lose any of those who follow Him.
You see, it takes someone who is “born-again” of the Spirit of God to be able to understand the teachings of the Spirit of God. The non-Christians, that is “natural” man cannot hear God’s word in a spiritual sense and he cannot understand the spiritual aspects of God’s word, and he will not receive nor obey the spiritual things of God because he does not belong to the family of God.
So, you can read the Bible for its poetry and literary characteristics and anyone can read the Bible for its historical details, but only they who are true “born-again” followers of Jesus can read and understand the Bible for the spiritual guidance that God gives through His written word.
How about you? Do you understand the spiritual side of the Bible? If not then the possibility that you may not be a true “born-again” follower of Jesus exists. It may be that you are not one of His sheep and that you cannot hear nor understand what He says to those who belong to Him.
If that is the case then your only recourse is to throw yourself on the mercy of God and cry out for forgiveness and for the ability to believe in and confess that Jesus is the only Lord and Savior of your soul, and that Jesus is the Christ Who can save your soul from suffering eternity in Hell.
Only God, by His grace, can give you the faith as His gift with which to confess that Jesus is Lord and to believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead. If you will but just do this then you can be assured that you will be saved from facing God’s wrath, and that you will spend eternity in the loving hands of God Who forgives sins upon those who ask.
Why would you not do this now? In 2nd Corinthians 6: 2 we read:
For He (God) says:
“In an acceptable time I have heard you,
And in the day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
In the Gospel of John, chapter 3, Jesus is talking with a Pharisee named Nicodemus. At some point Nicodemus says, ““Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Right away Jesus by-passes the statement and tells Nicodemus the following:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
So, right away Jesus tells Nicodemus that he needs to be born again if he even expects to see God’s Kingdom. This comes as a surprise to the Pharisee and he, right away, asks how can this be; thinking that being born again is a physical act. Jesus follows with this:
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
The answer by Jesus is even more telling. Unless one is born again not only will he not see the kingdom of God but, he will also not even enter the kingdom of God. Think about that. If “you” are not born again you will never go to Heaven. It is that simple. This work of being “born again” is all of God. You cannot earn it, you cannot buy it, you cannot even demand it. Jesus makes this clear in His follow-up statement to Nicodemus:
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
The Holy Spirit is the one who washes you and cleans you up, makes you new and puts within you a desire for repentance towards God and for belief and submission to Jesus. Just like it is explained, first in Ezekiel 36: 25 – 27:
25 Then will I pour clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: yea, from all your filthiness, and from all your idols will I cleanse you.
26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your body, and I will give you a heart of flesh.
27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments and do them.
Second, from Romans 10: 8 – 10:
“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
God puts within you a new heart, after cleansing you with His Spirit and with the Word of God, and with this new heart, a willing heart, you will be able to confess that Jesus is Lord (that is submission) and you will believe that He has been raised from the dead (that is trusting Jesus as the Savior) and this action is the outward sign of an inner conversion as a sign of you being “born again” by the work of the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of God.
How about you? Have you ever made this confession of Jesus as Lord with the belief of His being raised from the dead? If you have you have the evidence of assurance of the Holy Spirits’ working in your life and of being “born again”, having been washed cleaned and given a new heart to know, obey and love God.
If you have never done so, if you have never confessed Jesus as Lord then, not only will you never see the kingdom of God, but you will never enter into the kingdom of God. All you will have to which you can look forward is as follows in John 3: 18 & John 3: 36:
18. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
36. “He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
These two verses should scare anyone who has never bowed before Jesus in submission to His Lordship, and it should cause anyone to call out to God to come and work in him the miracle of salvation by the work of the Holy Spirit, and to wash him clean from all of his sins and to give him a new heart in the act of being “born again”.
The Kingdom of God or the pangs of hell. These are the only two results for any of us. If you are not born again, why would you want anything else? Will you not make that confession that Jesus is Lord? Remember the words of Jesus…
“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see nor enter the kingdom of God.”
If You Are Not Born Again….. now you know…..
As I write this it is Father’s Day. It is a day to honor Dads everywhere. The importance of a Father can be found no where better than in the Bible, and no one can be a better example of a child calling on His Father than Jesus.
On the day that Jesus was betrayed by one of His closest friends, and during the night before He was crucified, knowing what was about to befall Him Jesus talked to His Father. In Mark 14 we read:
32 Then they came to a place which was named Gethsemane; and He said to His disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 33 And He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be troubled and deeply distressed. 34 Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch.”
35 He went a little farther, and fell on the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him. 36 And He said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”
In the midst of great turmoil Jesus went to the one person who He knew was the only one He could call upon and depend on for doing what was right. Even though He knew what He had to do He still cried out, “Abba, Father”. Jesus wanted His Father. He needed Him and His Father was the only one who could take away from Him what He was about to face. Yet, in the midst of all of this He knew that doing the Father’s will, and not His own, was the best course of action for Him to take. He set aside His own will to do the will of His Father and, in doing so, He did the right thing in providing forgiveness for those who would be saved from having to pay the penalty for their own sins.
In the family, the Father, or a Father figure, is still the one person that a child should, at any age, be able to count on to go to when there are troubles or problems of any kind and be helped in making the right decision; even when that decision is not the one that they want to do. We, too, can call “Abby, Father”, not only to our Earthly Father but also to our Heavenly Father to help us in time of need, knowing that if we belong to Him He will guide us in to making the decision that will be the best one for us and one that will bring glory to our Father.
When we honor our Earthly Father in doing his will, if he is teaching us Christian principles, we often find that what he has taught us is, and was, the right thing to do. How much more, then, can we expect to be guided by our Heavenly Father to do the same? When we come to realize that our Heavenly Father, the same One to Whom Jesus called “Abba”, guided Him perfectly to make the right decision, we can be assured that His will for us is just as great and is just as perfect as it was in guiding Jesus.
A family without a Father, or a Father figure, is not one that God has designed for us to be in. Realizing that there are times when a Father is not present, a Father figure should be readily available for children to call upon for guidance. If Jesus needed to call upon God the Father, calling Him “Abba”, how is it that we feel that we do not need the same for us to call upon our Earthly Father or even our Heavenly Father for guidance as well?
Before we can call upon God the Father we must first become a member of his family. The Apostle Paul knew this when he wrote in Romans 8: 15 the following:
15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
When we call upon God to forgive us for our sins, realizing that our sinfulness has condemned us already to spend eternity in Hell, and to believe in Jesus as the one who died for sins and proclaim Him Lord, and believe that God the Father raised Him from the dead, it is because we have been born again into the family of God; being adopted as such and because of us receiving the Holy Spirit at the time of our rebirth, we can than call upon God the Father and, as Jesus did, call Him “Abba”, as He is now our new Father. Jesus said that no one can come to the Father except by Him (Jesus).
Every child should be guided by a Father or a Father figure, as every child and adult should be guided by God the Father. By knowing and doing His will we can understand that no matter what it is that He may want us to do we can do so with the knowledge and courage that what we are doing is the right decision to make. And, if we falter, become scared or disillusioned, we know that there is one upon Whom we can call for help. All we have to do is to just look up and cry out, “Abba, Father”!
If you were to ask the average Christian, “what is it about you that says you are a Christian?” most would probably talk about how they go to Church, attend Sunday School, give to missions, etc., but does this really define them as being a Christian?
I used to be that kind of Christian and I was OK with talking about how I did all of these Christianly activities. It was rare that I would talk about my relationship with Jesus or about my faith in what He did for me, and when I did it was a quick, almost embarrassingly, mention of Him. You know why I never said more about Him, if at all? Because I really had ” no ” relationship with Jesus. You see it never dawned on me that being a Christian was all about Jesus and not about me being a Christian.
It took awhile for it to become clear that being a Christian is not about my good works but about my relationship with Jesus. I even began to wonder about whether or not I even had a relationship with Jesus. You know what I discovered? I never really did have a relationship with Jesus; at least not a close one. Maybe you don’t either.
You see for someone to define me as being a Christian should not come from what I say that I do, but about what, or whom it is, that is the reason for me being a Christian in the first place. It is all about the Person upon which I base my faith and why.
My relationship with Jesus, and my faith in Him, should come through by what I say about Him and not what I say about me. The closer I get to Jesus, the stronger my faith in Him becomes and the more I am willing to talk about Him, and my life should be a living witness to His work in my life. In fact, my life should be that just by listening to what I say about Him, and the things that I do in His name, should give evidence to anyone who meets me that it would be easy for them to believe that I am a Christian.
In short, my faith in Jesus and the relationship that I have with Him should be such that it would openly define me as a Christian without me saying that I am. The closer one gets to Jesus the more they are willing to talk about Him.
In Luke 9:29 we read the following quote by Jesus:
For whosoever shall be ashamed of me, and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his glory, and in the glory of the Father, and of the holy Angels.
How about you? Do people define you as being a Christian just by hearing about your relationship with Jesus, and the faith that you have in Him? Or, like me, you need to see that maybe you don’t even have a relationship with Jesus at all. Think of this – the strength of your faith in Him will determine how close of a relationship you have with Him. The closer your relationship the stronger your faith. So here is a quick and easy way of determining how close of a relationship you have with Jesus.
Think of the faith that you now have in Him, can the actions of your faith, in your relationship with Jesus, define you as being a Christian or are you just a Christian in name only?
It may be that you have no relationship with Jesus. If that is the answer then maybe you are not a Christian at all. It is better to find that out now and not later, after death, when it will be too late.
If you will just confess that Jesus is Lord of your life, and believe that God raised Him from the dead, is defining proof that you have been saved and are on the way of establishing a relationship with Jesus. If, however, you balk at that thought, if you feel embarrassed at the thought of publicly proclaiming that Jesus is your Lord, also is defining proof that you have no relationship with Jesus, and it may be that you are not saved at all.
Only God can show this to you and only God can open your heart to receive the truth. May this Easter season be one of raising you to new life in Jesus, just as He was raised from the dead to give life to all who have life in Him, and in experiencing the kind of loving relationship, resulting in strong faith, that only God can provide.
May your relationship with Jesus be such that others who will see you will say, “You are a Christian aren’t you.”