Pastor’s Note: Almost two weeks ago, I posted an article entitled Is America In Bible Prophecy? taken from the book by Ron Rhodes entitled: 8 Great Debates of Bible Prophecy: Understanding the Ongoing Controversies. I had been studying it quite a bit, not just reading it and the way he outlines the different debates and lays out the Scriptures to me is very impressive. Well, this same book helped me in something this week.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-21, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.” KNJV (Bold emphasis, added).
Well, this past week, someone I considered a close brother in the Lord posted a piece by a self-proclaimed prophet that very emphatically stated that if you preach or teach ANYTHING other than post-tribulation rapture, you are a false prophet and false teacher that is possibly leading thousands, if not millions to their deaths needlessly and prematurely by teaching them anything other than that.
Well, of course I responded and asked my brother if he realized that the article was condemning many Bible teachers and preachers who may have a somewhat different view of the timing of the Rapture, even though they still teach “Christ and Him crucified and salvation by grace through faith”? I tried to let him know that differing opinions on the TIMING of the Rapture does not detract from whether you are a brother or sister in Christ. I told him, after all, I teach something different and I allow the Holy Spirit to do what He will with the teaching. I didn’t state my differences, just that I had a different idea. He emphatically stated that even though he didn’t write the post, he stands by it and what this “prophet” stated. He has studied the Scriptures and he posted the article because he believes exactly the same way! In other words, if you don’t believe EXACTLY the way they do, you are branded a false prophet or false teacher. I will be honest, it did floor me and I’m almost seventy years old and have been floored by many things, but this really hit me. I truly had to pray and seek the Lord’s guidance with this.
With all the denominations that make up the “Christian” world, there are bound to be differences. Most of those differences do NOT disagree with “Christ and Him crucified and salvation by grace through faith.” We can and SHOULD accept one another as brothers and sisters despite differences that have no conflict with the very reason that causes us to be spiritual brothers and sisters.
Almost all denominations believe there IS going to be a Rapture, even if it’s not called that in English Bibles, it is still the snatching or carrying away of all believers in Christ Jesus, to meet Him in the air, first the dead then those who are alive. There are some who believe in no Rapture or even partial Rapture and to be honest, their scriptural basis doesn’t make sense. But for the rest, whether it is pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation or even, post-tribulation the one thing we have in common is that there WILL be a snatching away of God’s Church! The only difference is in the timing. My rhetorical question is this; how in the world is that going to detract from our salvation or makes us as unbelievers rather than brothers and sisters in Christ.
Remember what Jesus, Himself stated, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” – Matthew 24:36 (NASB). Now as a side note, (I won’t get into a debate about this) almost every version of the Bible states it similarly except the NKJV (which I use the most) and the KJV (the Authorized or 1611 version), these leave out “nor the Son.”
The fact is, Jesus is telling us, in essence, the timing to call the Church unto the Son, is in the Father’s hands and when the Father says “go get Your Bride,” that is when Jesus will meet us in the clouds! The TIMING therefore is totally AND perfectly in the plans and will of the Father!
HOWEVER; the time for Christ to return is IMMINENT. I’ll bet when you read the title, you were thinking that I’m another crack-pot with a date and time of the Lord’s return. Not so. All we CAN know is that it could be at any time. Two thousand years ago, it could have been at any moment. Today, it could be at any moment.
The term imminent means that something is ready to take place or the event is impending, able to happen at any moment. The Bible speaks of this event as being at hand (Philippians 4:5), we are to be patient, for the Judge is at the door (James 5:7-9). Other verses tell us to eagerly wait, to continue until the time appointed and so forth. There are so many Scriptures that tell us it can take place at any given time.
The Apostle Paul wrote this; Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. – Romans 13:11-12.
In this Scripture the word salvation is actually referring to when the Lord literally saves us or snatches us away, in other words, what we refer to as the Rapture. He speaks of waking from sleep and the night is almost gone, both referring to this temporary life. The day he speaks of, is when we step over that threshold into eternity. Even in his day, he knew the time was impending.
Another thing most people have not studied for themselves is the fact that there are no signs, no prophecies leading up to the Rapture. It is a sign-less event and can occur at any moment. Everyone thinks that end times signs must be fulfilled for the Rapture to take place, yet all the Bible tells us is the very thing Jesus Himself stated just before He declared no one knows the time; “Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; So, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.” – Matthew 24:32-33. Right at the door, again, imminent, impending.
Think of this; if the disciples soon after Jesus ascended believed AND taught, that the time could be anytime, and that was back over two-thousand years ago, how much closer do you imagine the Rapture could be today?!
Paul wrote Titus and told him this in regards to the coming of the Lord; For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. – Titus 2:11-14.
If we, as Christians, are looking forward to that “blessed hope” and the “appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,” doesn’t it have the motivation to spur us on to live in purity (holiness) and righteousness as much as we can?
In his book, Maranatha, Our Lord, Come! Renald E. Showers stated:
The fact that the glorified, holy Son of God could step through the door of heaven at any moment is intended by God to be the most pressing, incessant motivation for holy living and aggressive ministry (including missions, evangelism, and Bible teaching) and the greatest cure for lethargy and apathy. It should make a difference in every Christian’s values, actions, priorities, and goals.
Imminence, as a doctrine, truly only makes sense when you take into account all the Scriptures and details associated with pre-tribulation Rapture, only because of the fact that there are no signs or prophecies signifying its timing. In post-tribulation Rapture, you would look for it after the seven years of tribulation, therefore it wouldn’t be impending. In mid-tribulation Rapture, again, you would be looking for it at anytime after the first three and a half years after the antichrist appears. Again, it wouldn’t be impending, you can plan for it, even if it is to a degree. These two reasons alone negate that Jesus will return for His Church, the Bride, unexpectedly.
However, whatever you believe concerning the timing of the Rapture, and you have the Scriptures you use to rely on, as Christians, we still must look forward in faith to that “blessed hope.” Again, as the writer of Hebrews so wonderfully states, And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. – Hebrews 11:6.
So no matter how you believe, your focus must be on God’s ability to keep us through tomorrow no matter what tomorrow brings. If we lose sight of faithful trusting, then we are most certainly NOT pleasing our Heavenly Father.
What you do with your disagreements on doctrine and non-salvation issues is between you and the Lord. Myself, I would rather continue to love as God would have me to do whether we are in one-hundred percent agreement or not. The one thing I can truly give another that is of any value is Holy Spirit produced love!