From October 2014
I read the article below earlier and it really started me thinking about some things. I hope readers are not disappointed, as we really are not going to cover any debate on whether there will or will not be a rapture. One might call this a bait and switch article. The article that got me thinking was written by Jim Denison, a columnist for Christianpost.com
The Left Behind series is a publishing phenomenon, with 16 books and $65 million in sales. Three movies have been based on the series; today’s Left Behind makes the fourth. In it, Nicolas Cage plays a pilot who attempts to calm his surviving passengers high above the Atlantic after the believers have been raptured. Other well-known actors include Lea Thompson, Jordin Sparks, and Nicky Whelan.
The movie is based on the doctrine of the “rapture” (from the Latin rapturo, to take out). There are various versions of the rapture, but they have in common the belief that Christians will be removed from the world by God during the “end times
As I said, reading the above article really made me think. The writer made some great points, and I want to expand on them here. There are many views on the timing and particulars of the return of Jesus Christ. I happen to believe the Doctrinal Statement of the American Baptist Association represents Biblical truth; however even within that there is room for debate on the timing of the Rapture. We all believe the Rapture will take place, but not all agree whether it will be before, in the middle of or at the end of the Tribulation.
The truth is, not all believe the same things concerning the Rapture, the Tribulation or the Millenium. There are many compelling arguments to support different viewpoints on the subject. We can believe differently on these issues without anybody being branded as a heretic. The one thing that remains true, and must remain true if we are to be considered correctly believing Christians:
Jesus is coming back!
I need to say up front, there is nothing wrong with scholarly study of the Bible. In fact, Scripture is crystal clear that we are to study and meditate on the inspired writings it contains. The study of Scripture, however, is not the end goal; it is simply a tool we use in order to reach the real objective. If our lives are full of study with no application, then it has been wasted time. Scripture is to change us, not just make us smarter and more knowledgeable about it. James taught us this idea clearly in James 1:23,24. If we look into the mirror of God’s Word and do nothing, it is like a man looking in a mirror and seeing what needs to be fixed but walking away without fixing it.
Jesus took one last opportunity to teach His disciples on the Mount of Olives shortly before His ascension; He was asked by them if The Kingdom would be set up at that time. His answer? “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons.”
It was shortly thereafter that Jesus ascended into Heaven. Even then, the disciples simply stood there staring until two angels appeared and reminded them that they had work to do, and also that Jesus would return just as He had left. Read the whole story here.
Now on to the actual point of this article. This quote from the original article I read simply captured me and provided the jump off point for this article.
“Here’s what matters: Jesus is coming back. No one knows when. We have only today to be ready. Whether he raptures the church before (or during, or after) a Great Tribulation, or returns to begin the millennium, or simply returns to end history and begin eternity, is not the practical question. You and I have no say in the matter. We are on the preparation committee, not the planning committee. Our job is to be ready when he comes, however he comes.”
What, then, are we to be preparing for?
- We have a wedding to prepare for. Revelation 19:7-10 describes John’s vision of the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. It is here that The Lamb(Christ) will marry His bride, the Bride of Christ. We aren’t going to discuss here who is and is not the bride, as it’s really not important to this discussion. Verse 7, however does say “His wife hath made herself ready.” How are we to be making ourselves ready? These verses give us some clues.
- We have a judgment to face. We all know the judgment of God will pass onto all unbelievers for their unbelief. Believers will be judged also. We will not be judged to determine our final destination; that determination is made only while we are still living. We will be judged to give an account of our lives and how we lived them for Jesus.
- We have a world to evangelize. God has not left us here simply to enjoy ourselves. He wants us restored to him and that is why He patiently waits until His chosen time. See 2 Peter 3:9 for Peter’s teaching on this idea. Back in Acts 1, right after all of the questions on His return, Jesus had told them their mission was to “be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
There is a commonly quoted saying, “Some people are so Heavenly minded that they are no Earthly good.” Is that true for us? Are we so busy debating and considering the times, places and events surrounding the return of Jesus Christ that we have forgotten what the real issue is? He is returning, that is simply not debatable. The question is: Are we ready?
- Are you lost? If you are not saved, you are not ready. Repent today; turn from your sin. Accept Jesus’ payment for your sin and His role as Savior and Lord of your life.
- Are you saved? Remember what is coming. Are you preparing to be a good Bride? Will you be told “Well done, good and faithful servant” when you face Jesus? Are you reaching out to a lost and dying world with the Gospel?