'The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.'" And they remembered His words." (Luke 24:1-8) Jesus Christ led the way for the resurrection of all Christians. We are told in 1 Corinthians 15:20, "But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. It is this historical account of Christ having been found risen in the early morning of the 3rd day that encourages and excites many believers to consider the picture painted in the Bible concerning how God views the present-day we are living in.
God told Israel in Hosea 6 that His coming would be in two stages like two rainfalls and that His second coming would be after 2 days. If chronologically correct 2,001and the following years can be appropriately defined as being in the morning of the 3rd day according to 2 Peter 3:8. Expectancy of Christ's soon return should spur believers to redeem every precious moment in labors for the Lord.
Interest continues to grow when we are told in Hosea 5:15 - 6:3 that sometime at the start of God's 3rd day He will return. The 3rd day since Christ left begins in this seventh millennium since creation. (1)
Very soon every true believer in Jesus Christ will be caught up to Heaven to be with their Lord forever. Some will receive great rewards while others will receive far less, but Heaven will be the reward for all (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18). At the time that the Church is removed from this earth, so too will the restraining, indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit be removed. The wicked nature of sinful man will then have free reign upon this planet (2 Thessalonians 2).
Speaking of these last days in Luke 23:30-31 Jesus called for us to consider and dire situation that will come upon men when the time of fruitfulness and life is replaced which a deathly drought. "Then they will begin to say to the mountains, "Fall on us!" and to the hills, "Cover us!" "For if they do these things in the green wood, what will be done in the dry?"
"My sheep hear My voice, and I know them and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. "I and My Father are one" (John 10:27-30). (2)
We stand ever watchful with Christians of like-minded belief that the glorious day that the Lord Jesus Christ will come in the air to retrieve His Church is close at hand. By the Word of the Lord we are told without ambiguity in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 that, ".. the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air."
As to all of the intricate details of what this delusion will entail we cannot say unequivocally, but we do know that it is inseparable from the appearance of the man of sin and in Revelation 6:1-2 we are shown that the Lord Jesus Christ does Himself send forth the Anti-Christ at the start of the final 7 years of testing and wrath. Understanding that God would never undermine His ordained commission for His Church to evangelize the earth (see Mark 16:15), dramatically strengthens the teaching that the Church will have been caught up to Heaven before the Anti-Christ makes his appearance. It could only be after the faithful Church has been released from her great commission and has been received into Heaven that God would ever send a strong delusion to the unbelievers so that they might believe the lie. If not, then God would stand in divisive contradiction to His Church's efforts while they evangelized futilely against His sent forth delusion. (3)
by David Bay - Cutting Edge Ministry
[Editor's Note: The Pre-Tribulation Rapture has engendered more attacks on this ministry than any other exhortations or articles we have published. Incorrect interpretations are rampant. All the movies and videos we have seen are incorrect portrayals.
TBN featured Dr. Thomas Ice, January 10,2002 (or around that date). He was discussing his new book which was written with Tim LaHay. LaHay has gained a lot of attention in Christian circles with a series of fictional books and audios, etc.. about the Tribulation and the Rapture. Dr. Thomas Ice apparently agrees with Tim LaHay that Gentiles can be saved during the Tribulation. We missed that when we read most of Dr. Ice's works before he joined the rich and famous. The Scripture study by David Bay of the Cutting Edge website is the best we have seen. We highly recommend that you take a look at it to clarify your concept of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture.
There is just one point that we don't agree with. David applies the "Day of the Lord" to the seven year tribulation. We interpret that the "Day of the Lord" is "a day for a thousand years", which includes the Millennium. It does not change the Pre-Tribulation Rapture nor the Tribulation in any way.
See 2 Peter 3:3-10 "Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water; Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished. But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up." The heavens don't pass away nor does the earth melt with fervent heat until the end of the Millennium."
That means that the "Day of the Lord" includes the Millennium. [End of Editor's Note]
Subtitle: The Understanding Of Bible Prophecy Has Proven To
Be Progressive As World Events Continue To Unfold, Elements Formerly
Deemed Allegorical Now Make Perfect Sense! Also, since 1989,
the demonic Guiding Spirits have been telling New Age leaders
to prepare their adherents for the Rapture!
The New World Order is coming! Are you ready? Once you understand what this New World Order really is, and how it is being gradually implemented, you will be able to see it progressing in your daily news!
I have used this illustration until it is about worn out, but from the comments we receive disputing our pre-trib position it apparently needs to be repeated and often: what was formerly outside the realm of reason has now become quite reasonable in light of current events.
However, three quarters of a century later we now know China alone could probably field an army that size if they chose to do so. Again, what was formerly outside the realm of reason has now become quite reasonable! And the same principle holds true for the rest of prophecy, time inevitably casts more light upon interpretation.
Similarly, Church history will show that it some cases it took many hundreds of years for all the great doctrines of the faith to be hammered out and solidified. For instance, justification by faith alone was not completely "nailed down" until the days of Martin Luther in the 1500s. So lets not fall into the trap of thinking that all the early fathers had to say is sacrosanct and beyond revision.
To this day many still ridicule the concept of what they characterize as "a secret rapture" because they insist a person supposedly named Margaret McDonald concocted the whole thing in 1830 with the idea being picked up subsequently by the Plymouth Brethren, and popularized through the efforts of C.I. Scofield and his now-famous reference Bible.
To reply to these objections all we can say is, "What sayeth the Scriptures"? Does the position (as we strongly affirm) fit with the whole of Scripture and make more sense than those that predate it? Let us find out by viewing the subject as objectively as we can.
That there will be an instantaneous removal of the Church from this earth is beyond dispute because 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 both declare it. The major difference of opinion centers upon when this removal will take place, with many insisting that it will be concurrent with the Second Coming of Christ at the end of the Tribulation Period, rather than prior to the beginning.
All believers agree that God can certainly snatch His elect children from this earth any time He chooses, but there are several very logical reasons why we believe a pre-tribulation rapture is intended.
First and foremost, we must understand that the primary purpose of the Tribulation Period ("The Day of the Lord") is to chasten and refine the nation of Israel, not the Church of Jesus Christ, which is His beloved and betrothed Bride. Some (if not most) of the confusion surrounding this subject is caused by a misunderstanding of the term "elect" as it refers to Gods children.
The Church is made up exclusively of elect individuals, but there are two distinct groups of the elect outside of the Church: The first is comprised of Old Testament saints and the second is the group those who will be saved during the Tribulation Period. So when we see the term "elect" used in Matthew 24, along with a few references in the Gospels of Mark, and Luke, we must understand that these are not Church Age saints, for reasons we will explain in detail later.
Most of the prophetic utterances concerning the Tribulation Period are found in the Old Testament and therefore clearly meant for Israel. Additionally, it makes no sense whatever for the Lord to subject His betrothed Bride to the unimaginable horrors of the Tribulation Period, even though His Church is totally comprised of rotten, hell-deserving sinners. He has saved us by His grace and through no merit of our own, so what purpose would punishment serve?
As long as we are in these mortal bodies, sin will continue to characterize our very existence and no amount of punishment will erase the sin nature. Only after we receive our glorified bodies will we finally be free from sin.
And those who insist that the Tribulation Period will serve to remove the "spots and wrinkles" (Eph.5:27) from the Church before it is presented to Christ, overlook this most basic fact. Human imperfections and every taint of sin must be removed from us as prerequisite to our standing in the presence of God, and this will be accomplished instantaneously at the rapture (1 Corinthians 15:50-58). Such a belief forms the foundation of Purgatory, so a person who believes the Church must go through a "cleansing" period is accepting the lie of Purgatory! The Christians comprising the Church are spotless because Jesus Christ has imputed His spotlessness to us!
Lets look at what the Old Testament Scriptures have to say about the subject of "The Day of the Lord", "the time of Jacobs trouble", to gain a better understanding of its application to Israel. As we will find, few biblical themes associated with the end times have drawn as much attention or been so emphasized in the Old Testament.
When the prophets mention "The Day of the Lord," they often sound like Amos when he wrote: "Woe unto you that desire the day of the Lord! to what end is it for you? the day of the Lord is darkness, and not light.  As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him.  Shall not the day of the Lord be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?" (Amos 5:18-20, KJV)
While the "Day of the Lord", as a theological term, includes all that happens in the entire period during which God fulfills His promises and brings history to its conclusion, the emphasis found in most Old Testament passages is on the dark period of tribulation and judgment that will begin that day.
It is pictured as a horrible time for humanity; days filled with Gods judgment in which the earth is devastated and emptied, its inhabitants dying by the millions. There is gloom and darkness, trouble and woe, as Gods wrath is fully unleashed against sinful mankind (compare Deut. 4:30-31; Isaiah 2:19; Isaiah 24:1, 3, 6, 19-21; Isaiah 26:20-21; Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 9:27; Daniel 12:1; Joel 1:15; Joel 2:1-2; Amos 5:18-20; Zeph. 1:14-15, 18).
As we find in these Old Testament Scriptures, both pagan nations and Gods elect people are to experience His divine judgment, because the scope of the Tribulation is worldwide.
As Jeremiah said in 25:32-33 (KJV): "Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth.  And the slain of the Lord shall be at that day from one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth: they shall not be lamented, neither gathered, nor buried; they shall be dung upon the ground."
And yet, in spite of all the horrors of this terrible time, the intent is clear that it will lead to deliverance. Here is what some of the prophets have to say: "Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out of it" (Jeremiah 30:7, KJV, emphasis mine) [Note that "he" (Jacob, or Israel) will be saved "out of it", not "from it."]
"And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant:  And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel: and ye shall know that I am the Lord" (Ezekiel 20:37-38, KJV).
"And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein.  And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God" (Zech. 13:8-9, KJV, emphasis mine). [Note that two thirds of Israel will be killed and only one third will survive the rigors of Gods judgment!]
The Tribulation Period is intended for the cleansing (see also Rev. 7:9; Rev. 14:4) and preparation for national conversion of Israel (compare with Ezekiel 20:37-38; Zech. 13:1, 8-9, quoted above). And from all of this, we should understand that worldwide tribulation does lie ahead. But even this most terrible of times is intended by God for ultimate good, and will move history toward the end that He has planned.
Additional texts for study are as follows:.
Tribulation: Deut. 4:30-31; Isaiah 2:19; Isaiah 24:1, 3, 6, 19-21; Isaiah 26:20-21; Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 9:27; Daniel 12:1; Joel 1:15; Joel 2:1-2; Amos 5:18-20; Zeph. 1:14-15, 18.
Now that we have established the basis for the Tribulation Period and shown that it pertains to Israel and not the Church, let us turn our attention back to the logical, common sense aspects of a pre-tribulational rapture.
We have already stated that it is a totally unrealistic and spiritually unproductive point to think that the Lord would subject His beloved Bride to horrible events. And while we are on the subject of the Bride of Christ, we need to take a brief look at the ancient Jewish betrothal and marriage customs.
Once the parents agreed on their childrens marriage and the formal betrothal made, (the betrothal in that day was as binding as marriage), the groom would then leave to build a house for his bride. And this would often take up to two years to complete. As she waited, the bride would remain in her fathers house, but she lived in an "any moment" expectation of her grooms return.
Her bags remained packed, so to speak, as she eagerly anticipated the day when her intended would come back for her. Then when at last the groom was ready to receive his bride, the joyous wedding party along with "the friend of the bridegroom", the "paranymph", or "best man" in todays terminology, would approach the brides house at midnight, where the friend of the bridegroom would shout, "Behold the bridegroom cometh!"
The bride, of course, was expected to be awake and to open the door to the wedding party. At this point she would accompany the festive group back to his fathers house where the actual marriage ceremony would take place, then afterwards they would move to their new home for a honeymoon that usually lasted seven days.
The parallels between Jewish marriage custom and the rapture of the Church are unmistakable! The bride (The Church) is supposed to wait for the groom (Jesus Christ) in her fathers house (this world as controlled by Satan). And when the groom comes back after up to two years of separation (approximately 2000 years so far), the bride is removed to his fathers house (God the Fathers abode in heaven) where the marriage ceremony takes place. The honeymoon in their new home (the "mansions" of John 14:2) lasts 7 days (corresponds to the 7 year Tribulation Period).
Then we find another strong argument for a pre-tribulation rapture in 1 Thessalonians 5:9 where we read: "For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess. 5:9, KJV).
This verse, taken in context, is obviously connected with Pauls teaching concerning the rapture, because that is the subject from chapter four and verse 13 onward through chapter five and verse 11. And one of the main reasons behind this first letter from Paul was that the Thessalonian Church was upset over the fate of their loved ones. Those people had been believers too and it appeared that they died without being taken into heaven by Christ (as Paul had previously taught them would happen some day).
But since he had only been with them for about a month, their knowledge of the subject was incomplete. Therefore, in order to correct this misunderstanding, Paul tells them that their deceased loved ones "in Christ" would actually (if only momentarily) precede those who would be alive at the time of the rapture.
Notice that Paul uses the word "comfort" twice in this discourse in an effort to soothe their fears; then he concludes with the verse quoted above (5:9), telling them that God had not "appointed," or destined, them to incur His wrath. A divine wrath that is reserved for the nation of Israel (in particular and the rest of the world in general) and therefore we should understand that his teaching concerning the rapture is intended to be a source of comfort for all Church Age believers.
Since the devil was not through with tormenting these Thessalonian believers, he circulated a false notion that because of the persecution they were then experiencing, the "Day of the Lord" (the Tribulation Period) was already present and they had missed the rapture! This led to Pauls second letter (2nd Thessalonians) in which he gave them (and us today) an unmistakable double event "sign-post" without which the Tribulation Period cannot possibly begin!
In verse three of chapter two Paul tells us that we must not let any man deceive us because "that day" will not come until there is "a falling away first", an apostasy or departure, depending on ones interpretation of the Greek word apostasia, along with the revealing of the "man of sin," or the antichrist. So we must understand that both of these events have to take place before the Tribulation Period will actually commence.
At this point I want you to ask yourself this question: What other reason could possibly have prompted Paul to give the Thessalonian believers this particular teaching if a pre-tribulation rapture was not in view? Think about it.
Another interesting point concerns the "falling away" of 2 Thessalonians 2:3. The majority view is that this refers to a mass defection from the faith prior to the Tribulation Period and this would certainly appear to be a possibility when the antichrist comes to power and people all over the world begin to worship him.
But over the years several prominent Bible teachers have insisted that the Greek word apostasia can also be translated "departure", as in departure of the Church from this world, and believe that this refers to a pre-tribulation rapture. However, quite a few Greek scholars, many of them holding to the pre-trib position, do not agree with the "departure" interpretation, so this particular point is far from being settled.
The Amplified Bible Commentary even uses the words, "departure of the church" in the footnote to this verse: 2 Thessalonians 2:3, as it gives the full meaning of the word, apostasia.
Another portion of Scripture that applies to our discussion is found in Revelation 3:10, where the exalted Lord is addressing the Church at Philadelphia: "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth" (KJV, emphasis mine).
Think carefully about this word, hour. It is an earth-bound term. Once you get above this earth, and out of our solar system, this word has no relevance!
The seven Churches mentioned in Revelation, chapters 2 and 3, were literal Churches scattered throughout Asia Minor at the time John wrote these words. Many Bible scholars believe that they represent seven distinct periods of Church history, ending with the Laodicean, a time of spiritual "lukewarmness" just prior to the Tribulation Period.
Another view is that they are seven types of Churches, containing individual members who are representative of the full range of spirituality and faithfulness to Christ. And it is to the faithful "Philadelphian" character of genuine believers (who will be alive at that time), that the promise is made to "keep them from the hour of temptation, or trial, which shall come upon all the world."
Notice that the promise is to "keep from" and not "keep through" the hour as some post-millennialists insist will be the case.
Noah was saved "from" the wrath of God in the flood, but he went through the hour! Lot was saved from Gods wrath, but he went through the hour. Jesus promises the Church He will keep them from the hour of trial coming on the whole earth.
Another interesting point is that the Church is mentioned often up through Revelation chapter three, but then in verse 1 of chapter four an abrupt "Come up hither" (symbolic of the rapture?) command is made to John and the Church is not mentioned again until much later, where we find her as the "Bride of Christ" in chapter 21.
Then in verse 4 of chapter four we find the 24 elders ( Gk - .presbuteros) seated around the heavenly throne and they are dressed in white and wearing golden crowns. Being dressed in white signifies that one is an "overcomer"(Rev.3:4-5) and crowns are consistently portrayed in the New Testament as being representative of reward.
So the fact that they are thus arrayed says the Judgment Seat of Christ has already taken place and the rewards already bestowed! If you doubt this interpretation, just look at verse 3 of chapter five, where we find these words: "And no man in heaven "was able to open the book."
Verse 4 continues with "no man was found worthy."And even though the literal rendering of the Greek word oudeis is "no one," (translated "no man" in the King James Version) "man stands for person" according to W. E. Vine in his "Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words." My friend, Jesus Christ is both man and God, the second Person of the Trinity, but these comments are obviously not referring to Him! How then are these men, or "persons" in heaven, if not by the rapture? It is our understanding of Scripture that Jesus Christ Himself was the first man to be resurrected to heaven as "the firstfruits of them that slept."
This being the case, Old Testament or Tribulation Period saints cannot precede the Church into heaven as resurrected men because of what we find in the following verses: "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.  For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.  But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming" (1 Cor. 15:20-23, KJV, emphasis mine).
Taken in context, the phrase "They that are Christs,"
is referring to the Church and therefore it is next in line to
be resurrected with no other group(s) preceding it.
"And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?  And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (KJV, emphasis mine).
That these are Tribulation Period saints in heaven is beyond dispute! And as we have just seen in 1 Corinthians 15:20-23, Jesus Christ is the "firstfruits of them that slept" and afterward those that belong to Him will be resurrected. So when Rev. 7:13-14 informs us of the Tribulation Period saints in heaven, this necessitates the Church having being raptured at some previous point!
At what point does tribulation begin to fall upon the earth? In Revelation 6:1 we find the Lord Jesus Christ breaking the first seal, that signals the onset, but please note something that happens prior to this in chapter five: Verses 8 and 9 tell us that the "four beasts" and 24 elders (the elders being clearly representative of all Christians) "sung a new song, saying: "thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God, out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation."
Verse 10 then adds "And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth." The phrase "out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation" is obviously referring to a much larger group than just the 24 elders.
And then there is the exhortation by the apostle Paul concerning the day of the Lord: "But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.  For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.  For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.  Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.  Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.  For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.
 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.  For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,  Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.  Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do" (1 Thess. 5:1-11, KJV).
The word translated "watch" in verse 6 is the Greek gregoreuo meaning "vigilance." Why does Paul teach them (and us) to watch if the event is not imminent, could take place at any time and is next on Gods prophetic "calendar"?
Notice the careful distinction Paul makes between the pronouns "ye", "you," "yourselves," and "they," and "them." This contrast is intended to show believers that we, unlike those who are lost, will not be caught off guard when the day of the Lord "cometh."as a thief in the night. Do not miss this, The day of the Lord will be seven years old by the time of the "Second Coming of Christ," so "cometh" obviously means the beginning of it, just after the "departure" and the revealing of the man of sin.
And this brings us to the subject of Matthew chapter 24, in my humble opinion the most misunderstood and misapplied chapter in the Bible, as far as prophecy is concerned! Even doctors of theology who ought to know better stumble all over this portion of Scripture and take it completely out of context when they try to apply some of it to the rapture. Common sense dictates that Paul knew what he was talking about in 1 Corinthians 15:51, when he said:
"Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,  In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." (KJV)
What does the word "mystery" (Gk.musterion) mean as it is used in the New Testament? It refers to previously unrevealed Scripture! In other words Paul is telling us something here in approximately 59-60 A.D. that had never before been revealed by God: the subject of the rapture.
This fact alone demands that none of the Words of Christ in
Matthew 24 can refer to the rapture! Why is this point such a
big deal, you ask? Well, lets just look at the chapter
and point out a few details.
Jesus Christ has not yet died and the age of grace has not yet arrived, so 100% of what we find in the Gospel accounts is under law and not grace! None of the Old Testament prophets "saw" the Church Age because God did not reveal it to them, it was a divine "mystery"!
And the Lords teaching here is perfectly consistent with that principle. He is instructing Jews as to what their "generation" (vs.34) will experience during the Tribulation Period, because the Church is nowhere in sight and yet to be revealed! With this thought in mind, notice that verses 4 through 13 describe conditions as the elect Jewish remnant will experience them during the dark days of the Tribulation Period, the "time of Jacobs trouble."
Matthew 24, Verse 9, very clearly states that ".they will deliver you up to be afflicted and shall kill you and ye shall be hated of all nations for my names sake." God is going to seal 144,000 Jews at the beginning of this awful time and it is to them this discourse is directed.
Verse 13 has been misunderstood and misapplied by many Christians in thinking that it we must "hold out to the end" in order to be saved, when in actual point of fact this is referring to the physical deliverance of the Jews who will still be alive at the Second Coming of Christ, at the end of the Tribulation Period!
(Remember that this cannot possibly apply to Christians in any way shape or form, because at that particular point in time, when Jesus spoke Matthew 24 -- the Church itself was still a mystery (Eph.3:1-6). Notice what verse 14 says: "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then the end shall come."
My friends, the Gospel of grace was still unknown at that time! This "Gospel of the kingdom", the message that both John the Baptist and Jesus Christ preached and the one to whom the Lord is referring, was "repent ye for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
And it will be preached again during the Tribulation Period by the 144,000 of Revelation 7 and the "two witnesses" of Revelation 11:3. The end of the Tribulation Period, which will usher in the Second Coming of Christ, will not come until that specific gospel message has been heard by all the nations and through which they are told that the literal reign of Jesus Christ on earth is about to take place.
At the time the Lord was telling His disciples this, He had just been rejected as King by the nation of Israel and knew that His words were for a future generation of their descendants. The Church is nowhere in view.
Beginning with verse 15 we have the start of the "great Tribulation", the last half (3 ½ years), which will be so terrible that the Lord made the following comment in verse 21: "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matthew 24:21, KJV).
That the Jews are the primary focus of this discourse is made
clear in the parallel account found in Mark 13. Notice the wording
of verse 9:
To the best of my knowledge, Jews have not made it a practice to bring Christians into their synagogues for any reason, much less to beat them! But during the Tribulation Period the 144,000 elect Jews will be persecuted by their own people as well as by the Gentiles.
Then in verse 22 we have a very interesting statement about "those days" being shortened by God, because if He did not do so, everyone would die! And this has a direct bearing on verse 36, another comment made by the Lord that has been misapplied for many years.
Preachers have been telling their flocks, based upon verse 36, that no one can know the "day and hour" of the rapture, when this verse has absolutely nothing to do with the rapture, because taken in proper context it is clearly referring to the Second Coming.
The persecution and killing is going to be so great that God will shorten those days in order that some will remain alive to populate the Millennial Kingdom. And because the period will be cut short (something short of the total number of days prophesied by Daniel), no one knows the exact day and hour!! Remember that Matthew 24 in its entirety is dealing with the Jews under law and not the Church under grace, both the Church and the rapture are, at that particular time, still mysteries hidden in the counsels of God.
Verse 44 has been used to strengthen the argument that no one can know the time of the rapture, when in fact it is speaking of terrified Jews who will be in hiding and their minds occupied by their very survival, not in counting the number of days left in the "Great Tribulation" as given by the prophet Daniel (one of the arguments used against "knowing the day and hour"):
"Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (Matthew 24:44, KJV). Think about it, Christians are exhorted throughout the New Testament to watch for the Lords return to take us unto Himself and we are taught that it will not come as a surprise, according to the following:
"But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.  Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.  Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober" (1 Thess. 5:4-6, KJV).
So once again, we see that the statements in Matthew 24 cannot possibly be referring to the rapture.
The gathering together of Gods elect from "one end of heaven to the other" (vs.31) is "Immediately after the tribulation of those days." (vs.29) Again, this is Second Coming and not rapture. The "one taken and one left" illustrations of verses 40 and 41, so often used to depict the rapture, actually refer to the separation of the sheep and goats pictured in Matthew 25:33, with those left being the ones to enter the millennial Kingdom. And that passage is, of course, in unbroken context and part of the Lords extended remarks regarding His Second Coming.
It is understandable why so many try to use Matthew 24 as a proof text for the rapture because much of it seems to "fit," but as we have seen, a careful look reveals this is just cannot be so.
Though many good men have wound up with "egg on their face" trying to predict the date of the rapture, Matthew 24:36 is not a legitimate barrier!
World events/national attitudes are seemingly at present coming into perfect alignment with what the Scriptures say will be the conditions surrounding the rise of antichrist. This being the case, and for the reasons detailed above, we believe that the rapture is truly and finally imminent. Are you ready to meet the Lord in the air?
FINAL CUTTING EDGE NOTE:
We encourage you to read NEWS1408 which detail this fact clearly. When we go through the "wars, rumors of wars, nation rising against nation, kingdom against kingdom, earthquakes in many places", we will feel very much like we are going through the persecutions of Antichrist in the Tribulation Period. All Christians today need to spiritually mature quickly for we do not know when we might be rounded up, persecuted, and even tortured for our faith.
The very idea we teach the Pre-Tribulation Rapture because we wish to "escape" persecution is ludicrous and false in the extreme. David Bay, Director - Cutting Edge Ministries
Truly, the End of the Age is upon us. The world stands at the precipice of the appearance of the Wicked One. Are you spiritually ready? Is your family? Are you adequately protecting your loved ones? This is the reason for this ministry, to enable you to first understand the peril facing you, and then help you develop strategies to warn and protect your loved ones.
Once you have been thoroughly trained, you can also use your knowledge as a means to open the door of discussion with an unsaved person. I have been able to use it many times, and have seen people come to Jesus Christ as a result. These perilous times are also a time when we can reach many souls for Jesus Christ, making an eternal difference.
If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, but have
come to realize His reality and the approaching End of the Age,
and want to accept His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can also
do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you accept Him as
Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of
Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured
that the Kingdom of Antichrist will not touch you spiritually.
If you would like to become Born Again, turn to our Salvation
The devastating September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the U.S. World Trade Center and the Pentagon has evoked a question which stirs both trepidation and elation in the hearts of the elite ones who are in a position to manipulate global events. The question which we can assume echoed through the secret halls of the conspirators was, "What shall we make of this?"
The Word of God found in the Holy Bible teaches without reservation that an attempt to establish a one world government in these last days will produce the most destructive, bloodthirsty and repressive regime the world will have ever known. The twin supports which will establish its tyranny are military might and economic control. The beastly man who will take the helm of this equally beastly government is known to Christians as the Anti-Christ. By his side will be a false prophet who will call for the world to worship the Anti-Christ and to submit to his new military/economic order.
Quoting from verses 4, 16 & 17 of the Bible Book of Revelation we read, "So they worshipped the dragon [that is Satan] who gave authority to the beast [Anti-Christ]; and they worshipped the beast saying, "Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?.. And he [the false prophet] causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast [Anti-Christ], or the number of his name."  .
It is more than just coincidence, in our view, that the 2 American institutions targeted for destruction by terrorists on September 11, 2001 were representative of world-reaching military and economic power. The attack was not just against America, but against the arising New World Order.
Numerous momentous events have furthered the illuminists dream of a one world government. From the founding of the United Nations and the European Union to the Persian Gulf War coalition, the march towards global dominion has been steadfast. The animalistic murder of thousands of people on September 11th may well be remembered as the turning point which birthed the nightmare of the last day's global government into reality.
Dramatic happenings continue to take place on the world scene which indicate the globalist's momentum may be gearing up for the final sprint to secure their coveted prize.
After having considered what advantages a high placed globalist might welcome from genocidal acts, it is disconcerting to read mainstream reports such as the Colorado Springs Gazette article of September 13, 2001 that headlined, "U.S. knew terrorists training as pilots." Quoting form this article which was reprinted from The Boston Globe we read, "Federal authorities have known for at least three years that two Osama bin Laden associates had trained in the United States as airplane pilots, possibly while operating as members of the suspected terrorist's organization. U.S. officials were also aware that bin Laden had recruited American citizens to join his Al-Qaida terrorist group and that many of them received military and intelligence training in Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Sudan. Members of the organization lived in California, Texas and Oregon, among other states. U.S.-trained pilots from several Middle Eastern nations played key roles in Tuesday's devastating and highly coordinated attacks in New York and Washington that turned four fully fueled jet airliners into flying bombs. Federal prosecutors and investigators presented the information during this year's trial of four men accused of the 1998 bombing of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, a review of court records shows.
One of the pilots, Essam a Ridi, a naturalized American of Egyptian descent who went to flight school in Texas, was a star witness who testified that he bought a military aircraft at bin Laden's request in Arizona and flew it to Sudan. He was first approached by investigators in 1998. The second, Ihab Ali Nawawi, identified by prosecutors in court records as a bin Laden contact, was a resident of Orlando, Florida, who trained at a flight school in Norman, Oklahoma. Neither at Ridi nor Nawawi were among the names released by the Justice Department of Friday, although court records indicate both had many aliases. Neither were indicted in the embassy bombing case, although Nawawi was name as co-conspirator. But of the 22 suspects indicted in the embassy bombing, 13 are still fugitives. Bin Laden has been singled out by the Bush administration as the prime suspect in Tuesday's terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. (5)
Looking Down From Heaven - Revelation 6 and 7
Revelation 6:9-11 reveals to us the opening of the fifth seal at approximately halfway through the seven Tribulation Period. Here we find the people who had become believers after the Rapture of the Church. The Church had disappeared from off the face of the earth in an element of time that shames the speed of the human blink of an eye, at least three and a half years earlier (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). Incredulous at first, the shock will quickly turn to recognition of the fact of the Rapture. Having missed their opportunity to have been caught up at the Rapture their new found faith brings them the power of Christ in their lives to pay the ultimate price. We have been told they have, "been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held."
The souls of the martyred believers are seen located in Heaven "under the altar," while in comparison the Church is seen in Revelation 5:7-11 before the opening of the first seal gathered around a throne. Of greater contrast between the Raptured Church and these martyred tribulation saints is that Jesus instructed the Church in Matthew 5:44 to loce their enemies and to pray for those who persecute them . Instead, in Revelation 6:10, we find these souls crying out with a loud voice for the Lord to avenge them. They are told they should rest a little while longer until the number of martyrs is completed. We find out more about these other martyrs in chapter seven of the Book of Revelation.
We now come to the closing verses 9-17 of chapter 7 which gives a panoramic view of the great multitude of believers that will be brought to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ throughout the final years of the Great Tribulation. These are the fellow servants and brethren that the martyred souls of Revelation 6:11 were told they would have to wait upon until they were likewise killed. After the last of these servants is slain the vengeance of God will be completed. (6)
Looking Towards Heaven - Revelation 1 - 6
The Hebrew focus continues in Revelation 5:5 when Jesus is addressed in His role as Redeemer as "the Lion of the tribe of Judah" and "Root of David." In verse 6 the price Jesus paid for the dead is revealed when He is seen as the sacrificial lamb which paid for the sins of the world (1 Corinthians 6:20). In verse 7 Jesus takes the purchased scroll from God His Father. Verses 8, 9 and 10 verifies that the Church will have been Raptured and will be in Heaven before the first seal of the scroll which unleashes the Tribulation. Period is broken. In verse 9 we are shown that those redeemed from "out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation" by the blood of Jesus Christ are in Heaven praising their Savior. The rejoicing continues to escalate on through the end of the chapter.
Verse 13 is another fascinating Scripture which brings to mind that the glorification of the Church has taken place by this time. We quote, "And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying "Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!"
Turning to Romans 8:16-23 we find that the day creation is earnestly waiting for as the sign its deliverance is near, is directly related to the time when the Church is glorified. Romans 8:19, 21 reads, "For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.. because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage or corruption into glorious liberty of the children of God." The "glorious liberty of the children of God" being spoken of is revealed to be "the redemption of our body" and our being "glorified together" according to Romans 8:17, 23.
The sign of the "revealing of the sons of God" which the creation is eagerly waiting for to signal its own deliverance from bondage and corruption is the Rapture of the Church. With the Church glorified in Heaven it is appropriate and understandable why every creature in creation sings praises at that time. Jesus Christ is about to cleanse the earth of evil. The day of His vengeful wrath has come when all things which are written will be fulfilled (Luke 21:22).
Regrettably many who read this message will be left behind on the earth to witness the day Jesus opens the first seal and sends forth the Anti-Christ. We earnestly pray that you are not one of them. You can be sure that your sins are forgiven and that you will be in Heaven instead of longingly gazing upward with remorse when the horrible time of Christ's judgment is released upon the earth by turning to Him with faith this very moment and trusting in His name to cleanse you of all your sins by His atoning blood. Do not put it off. The Rapture can take place at any second during this momentous and perilous time we are living in. (7)
There is a great danger when men disregard the direction of God and offer substitutions of their own making. In Leviticus 9:23-24 and 10:1-2 we are told of when the sons of Aaron offered what is called profane fire and were then both devoured by the fire of the Lord for their sins. Modern examples of such profane presentations are the blasphemous sermons and even movies depicting Jesus as a man who wrestled with a sinful nature. The examples could continue with the kinds of music and twisted biblical messages found within the Church which promise earthly power and wealth. All of these devices are but profane fire before the Lord and will be devoured by God's fire in his appointed time. On profane teaching in particular that we will be dealing with in this message is an anti-Semite teaching of what has become of Israel in God's redemptive plan.
First, in Romans 9:6-11 we ar told that "they are not all Israel who are of Israel" .. "but in Isaac your seed shall be called." The Israeli seed of Isaac is Jacob (Genesis 32:28) as are the twelve tribes of Israel who are recognized and honored by God in Revelation 2:12. So when the Scripture declares "all Israel shall be saved", it refers to representatives from all the tribes that comprise the seed of Jacob.
Once again God's Word makes it plain. Turning to the Book of Revelation 7:4-8 and cross referenced with Revelation 14:1-5, the Lord has John reveal that just prior to the destruction that will transpire upon the earth when the four winds are stopped, He will separate and place a seal upon the foreheads of exactly 12,000 men from each of the twelve tribes of Israel, totaling 144,000 virgin males.(8)
These are the last days and we believe the Rapture of the Church of Heaven is near at hand .. even at the door. Today is the day to receive the forgiveness for one's sins and the promise of partaking in His eternal glory by believing in the only Savior Jesus Christ, the Holy One of Creation who shed His own precious blood so that we might receive eternal life. (9)
Quoting verses 2 & 4 from Chapter 11 of the Bible Book of Revelation we read, "And I will give power to my two witnesses and they will prophesy 1,260 days, clothed and sackcloth. There are the two olive trees and the two lamp stands standing before the God of the earth."
In this passage of Scripture we are told of two prophets of God who will prophesy for three and a half years, during the final seven years of the tribulation which is prophesied and Daniel 9:27. These two spokesmen of God will stand toe to toe against the satanically empowered beast of a man known as the Anti-Christ. After they have finished their testimony for the Lord Jesus Christ they will be murdered and their dead bodies will be looked upon by the world for three and a half days in the streets of Jerusalem (Revelation 11:7-10).
After this, in full view of the modern world, television audiences will witness the ultimate reality programming as the two prophets are resurrected by the Lord of Creation. Quoting from Revelation 11:11-12 we read, "Now after three and a half days the breath of life from God entered them and they stood on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. And they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here." And they ascended to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them.
In our opening passage of Scripture from Revelation 11:4 we were told that they are, "the two olive trees and the two lampstands standing before the God of the earth." Zechariah chapter four appears to likewise speak of these same two individuals . Quoting from verses eleven and fourteen we read, " ... what are these two olive trees, one at the right of the lambstand and the other at its left?.. These are two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth."
There is ample evidence found in the holy Scriptures to support the conclusion that one of these two men will be the Old Testament prophet Elijah. Elijah was caught up to heaven in a whirlwind of God before he completed his ministry (2 Kings 2:11). Malachi 4 promises by God's Word that Elijah will be sent back to the earth during the days of the Great Tribulation at the close of the age.
Zerrubabel or Moses might be the second person and our opinion there is only one who bears the abundance of scriptural evidence to more fully qualify and his name is Moses.
It is interesting to note that in this Scripture that the Lord stated that Moses would not be permitted to, "bring this congregation into the land which I have given them ." This leaves open the possibility that there would be another congregation Moses might someday be permitted to lead into the promised land. Isaiah 23:7-8 does in fact speak of another great exodus to Israel in these final days, "Therefore behold the days are coming," says the Lord, "that they shall no longer say, 'As the Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,' 'but, As the Lord lives who brought up and led the descendants of the house of Israel from the north country and from all the countries where I had driven them." And they shall do well in their own land."
In Mark 9:2-8 we are told of how three of the disciples witnessed the appearance of Elijah and Moses upon a high mountain top with Jesus before He was crucified. This may be one of the most revealing of all biblical records as the likelihood that these two mighty prophets are the same two olive trees of the Lord spoken of in Revelation 11 and Zechariah 4. (10)
The Apostle Paul told us the precise moment when believers are forever freed from their inability to know as they are known. The final obstacle between a believer in God is the lust of the flesh to sin. This is why it is recorded for us in 1 Corinthians 15:50, "..flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of god becoming fully agree with the lord is the crown jewel of the inheritance from in kingdom of God.." Becoming fully acquainted with the Lord is the crown jewel of the inheritances found in the Kingdom of God.
We must emphasize once again, the creative purpose of God has never been for Him to get to know us better, but for us to be eternally blessed with the revelation of Him.
The future uniqueness of each believer in the Kingdom of God
is revealed to us in verse 17 of Revelation 2. There we are told
of a name that has been recorded in Heaven on a white stone...
The names of those white stones belong to every believer who
overcame the eternal influences of sin by trusting in the Lord
Jesus Christ. #262
Earlier we spoke of the day when believers will learn of their heavenly names and how intimate and meaningful a moment that will be. They Savior Jesus Christ is identified by many such personal names in the Scriptures, but like the names of the saints one name of His remains a secret only known to Himself till this very day. We are given the knowledge of this fact in verse 12 of chapter 19 of the Book of Revelation when the Lord Jesus returns to Israel at the close of the seven year Tribulation Period. "His eyes were like a flame on fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself." So holy and intimte is his name of Jesus that it is written in a language known only to God and remains a secret even that He comes to establish His kingdom upon the earth.
Soon the dead in Christ will rise and the corruptible bodies of believers will forever be changed (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18). The names written on white stones will be privately issued with each individual Saint of Heaven and the glory of God's love will rule over their lives forever and ever. Quoting from Revelation 2:17 we read, "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give him of the hidden manna to ear. And I will give him a white stone, and on that stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it."
We pray that you are counted among the number Christ has prepared a white stone for and are of those He chose before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4) Come to Jesus this moment. Trusting in the forgiveness Christ purchased for every sinner when He was crucified at Calvary will assure you of your eternal home in Heaven as every sin is washed clean by the blood of the Lamb. (10)
Just as sudden as the Church was manifested upon the earth at Pentecost after the 69 weeks of years were completed for Israel, so too we are convinced will the removal of the Church take place before the remaining final seven years begin. The last Gentile believer will complete the fullness of the Church according to Romans 11:25. Only then will Israel's eyes be opened to understand the fullness of the Gospel. "For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be wise in your own opinion, that hardening in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in" (Romans 11:25). It is our firm belief that the catching up of the Church to Heaven, as prophesied of in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18, will serve as a catalyst to expedite this awakening.
The final seven years must be fulfilled for the Jews and Jerusalem precisely as the prophecy demands. The manifested favor of God toward the Raptured Church is directly linked, in our opinion, to the dramatic day when Daniel's people will have the hardness of their hearts shattered and the jealous love for their Savior ignited. Romans 11:11 tells us by the Apostle Paul, "I say then, have they [that is the Jews] stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles."
Why else might Israel suddenly recognize and accept that salvation has come to the Gentiles after almost 2,000 years of rejection and unbelief to the legitimacy of the Church? The catching up to Heaven of the Christians will be a truly awesome demonstration of God's favor upon those who trust in His Son Jesus Christ. The favor in the Old Testament towards Enoch and Elijah will surely come to their minds.
In verses 8-10 of Revelation 5 we are shown the living Church in Heaven as they witness Jesus Christ receiving a scroll sealed with seven seals. As each of the seven seals are opened throughout the Book of Revelation, Christ sends a horrendous judgment upon the earth. (11)
It is our opinion that not long after this war the wicked prince known as the Anti-Christ will appear on the world scene to strengthen the seven year tribulation treaty prophesied of in Daniel 9:27. Sometime before this dramatic end-time event transpires we anticipate that the removal of the Church from this earth to Heaven will have taken place as is prophesied of in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18. At that point all who are left behind wil face the prospect of being witness to the day the Scriptures tell us Death and Hell will ride a pale horse across a quarter of the earth destroying life (Revelation 6:8). This is only the beginning of the final years that will bring the existence of all mankind to the brink of total extinction.
We read in Psalm 68:20, "Our God is the God of salvation; And to God the Lord belong escapes from death." The plural word "escapes" calls for an interesting study on the varied ways God delivers men from death. In Genesis 5:24 we are shown where a man was so beloved by God that he was taken up (or raptured) out of this world to Heaven without experiencing death. His name was Enoch and we know that he was raptured because of the confirmation found in Hebrews 11:5. We quote, "By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God." Enoch was raptured off of the earth before God's great flood judgment upon the earth.
In Genesis 6,7 & 8 we are told of another righteous man named Noah and how he was delivered from immediate death when God poured out His judgment over the whole earth at the great flood. Noah later died a normal death.
Then in 1 Kings 19 a prophet named Elijah was being pursued to death by King Ahab and Jezebel due to his faithfulness to the God of Heaven. Elijah prayed for deliverance and in 2 Kings 2 we are shown were Elijah was raptured from out of the midst of his tribulation to Heaven by a whirlwind of the Lord.
Before there was a Jewish nation founded in Jacob and before the law was brought down from Mr. Sinai by Moses, a faithful believer was caught up to God. It is significant in this typology that Enoch was caught up to Heaven to be with the Lord before God judged the earth with a great flood, for this typology is a perfect parallel of the present Church. Because of Christ, the Church is now pleasing and acceptable to God (Ephesians 5:25-27) and is not under the law nor bound to a national identity (Galatians 4:21-25 & Hebrew 11:13-16). It is also a true application that just as Enoch was found worthy to be spared death and God's judgment upon the world because of these spiritual truths, so too will the Church be raptured to Heaven before God judges the earth with seven years of tribulation (Daniel 9:27, Revelation 6 and 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11) (13)
As the instability increases in the Middle East and the region rushes towards the horrible, prophesied war of Psalm 83, believers in the Lord Jesus Christ should be looking upward with ever greater expectancy for "the Blessed Hope" promised in Scripture. Quoting from Titus 2:13 from the New Testament we read, "Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.
"Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your "hope" fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ." The word "grace" in this passage refers to an act of favor or a gift. It is something given without having been earned. This is in contrast to the reward promised in the Scriptures to believers who have faithfully labored in the works of the Lord.
To those that have already come to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins and have been born again by the Holy Spirit, the answer to this question should be of notable interest. According to such Scriptures as the ones found in Roman 3:21-25, the initial act of God's saving grace takes place at the precise moment a person trusts in His Son. Immediately a new believer becomes righteous before God. Quoting from Romans we read, "But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God which is through faith in Jesus Christ.
The genesis of eternal life commences the moment a believer is born again while the completion, though indivisibly connected to the initial moment of salvation, will be experienced when Christ appears to them. It is this final portion of God's saving grace for the Church that is deserving of the phrase "blessed hope." As we look at the divine words from the Scriptures which reveal the glorious truths about the Rapture we must keep in mind our question of foremost importance which is, "What act of grace takes place at the appearing of Christ to His Church - what is the blessed hope?" As the Scriptures have revealed, the initial porotion of God's saving grace through Jesus Christ is the forgiveness of sins and the rebirth of the spirit of a believer (see John 3:1-8) so that they quite literally become a new creature in Christ. Quoting from 2 Corinthians 5:17 we read, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."
As we will show from God's Word the blessed hope of every believer will be the concluding portion of saving grace given to every believer when at Christ's appearing He will transform their sinful, physical bodies into glorified, sinless beings like unto Himself. This blessed hope will be the fruition of His initial act of grace (unmerited favor). This thoroughly refutes any teaching that Christians must purify themselves in order to be counted worthy of the Rapture. The Rapture is part of the Lord's grace.
There are those who maintain that the Church must go through a part of, or even all of the seven year Tribulation Period which immediately precedes the physical return of Jesus Christ to the earth "when every eye shall see Him" (Daniel 9:27 and Revelation 1:7) The reason most often presented to defend this heretical teaching is that Jesus' forgiveness for His born again believers is limited and that the Church will need to be purified of its sins. This is to be accomplished by the horrors of the tribulation under the Anti-Christ. Only then, they believe, will the Church truly be worthy to be taken to Heaven by Christ.
The Scriptures are the only authority on this matter of worthiness. In Romans 7:15-25 the Apostle Paul expounded on his dilemma of having a duel nature since his new birth in Christ. In verses 24-25 he sums up his (and our) situation and gives praise to the Lord for the deliverance from his wrestling mind (which is intertwined with the spirit according to Ephesians 4:23) and his unredeemed flesh, "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God - through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin."
Paul was looking forward to the day of Christ's appearing to His Church when whether alive or dead the Apostle's body would be redeemed from the corruption of sin. Speaking of this blessed hope, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:49-53, "And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed - In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality."
In Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians he addressed a number of points concerning the greatly anticipated moment of God's concluding act of grace for the Church. Central to the revelations he shared about the Rapture was what was to be expected regarding the placement in time for the resurrection of dead believers. Paul assured them that the dead in Christ would be resurrected no later than the moment that living believers received their glorified, supernatural bodies. No limitations are given concerning the resurrection and glorification of the saints as far as God requiring some further purification or atonement for sins.
Quoting verses 13-17 of 1 Thessalonians 4 we read, "But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord." Paul then concluded in verse 18 by saying of this blessed hope, "Therefore comfort one another with these words."
[We] pray that you truly have found comfort this day in the promise of Christ's soon appearing for His Church to glorify every believer whether struggling or victorious, living or dead and to take them home to Heaven with Him where they belong. If you have received the Living Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior and have believed that your sins have been forgiven by His blood that He shed on the cross almost 2,000 years ago, then you are eternally saved and your body will be redeemed by His grace in the very near future. Eagerly wait with perseverance for this adoption. This is the "Blessed Hope." (14)
In the 14th chapter of the Old Testament Book of Zechariah we find unquestionable proof that on the day the Lord returns at the close of the age, He physically touches His feet upon the earth. Verses 3-4 read, "Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as He fights in the day of battle. And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which faces Jerusalem on the east.. " Verses 9 & 16 likewise confirms that on the same day He returns to the earth He establishes His residency at Jerusalem, "And the Lord shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be - "The Lord is one," and His name one.. And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles."
Any doubts that the Lord who is being spoken of is the same crucified and risen Savior Jesus Christ are dispelled in verse 10 of Zechariah 12 where we read of this coming King, "And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication: then they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn." Taking a closer look at the return of Jesus Christ to the earth in Chapter 19 of the Book of Revelation we read in verses 8, 11, 14& 19 that Christ comes riding upon a white horse, is accompanied by the armies of the saints of Heaven and His enemies are to be witnesses of His return. "And to her [the Church] it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.. The I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.. And I saw the beast [the Anti-Christ] the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army." This dramatic picture of Christ's return to the earth is repeatedly shown in the Scriptures as can be verified by reading such passages as Matthew 24:30, Zechariah 14:5, Jude 14 & 15 and Joel 3:15-17.
We now return to the Scriptures we originally cited in the outset of this message. It is here that we will uncover the error of those who insist that the Rapture (that is the glorification and catching up of the Church to the Lord) takes place at the same time when Christ returns to the earth at the close of the age. Quoting verses 9-11 of chapter 1 from the Book of Acts we read, "Now when He [that is Jesus] had spoken these things,, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven."
The focus of this passage of Scripture is repeatedly emphasized. The apostles were witnesses to Jesus' departure into heaven. Their eyes were fixed on heaven. The two heavenly witnesses testified that Jesus will return from heaven the same way they saw Him go up into heaven. The use of the Greek word "tropos," which is used in the English phrase "in like manner," instructs believers to expect at Christ's return for them parallels of what had been witnessed at His departure.
Three distinctions were evident at that breathtaking event. 1. Jesus Christ's physical ascension into a cloud was solitary. 2. Christ used no conveyance of any kind. 3. Only believers were present to view departure. In contrast it can readily be shown that the return of Jesus to the earth at the very close of the age fails to harmonize with the term "in like manner." Far from being alone, Jesus will be accompanied by the armies of Heaven, He will be riding a flying, white horse, and non-believers around the earth will witness His return. If this were the only appearing of Christ to men before the close of the age then we would have to accept what had been told to us as a yet to be revealed mystery. The Word of God did not remain silent though and we are told about the Rapture.
It must be kept in mind that the two heavenly witnesses did not just say that Jesus would return from Heaven, but that He would return "in like manner." In our evaluation of this text it is of great significance that the "in like manner" statement was made to the disciples while the Scriptures emphasize, "They looked steadfastly toward heaven.. "
Reviewing verses 16 & 17 of chapter 4 of 2 Thessalonians, we find that the Rapture of the Church perfectly duplicates the particulars of Christ's departure that believers are encouraged to anticipate. "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trmpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord." What we find at the Rapture is a solitary Christ, no conveyance and believers only. In addition, the Church will have their eyes fixed on Heaven as they go to meet their Lord just as when He left, while at their return with Christ at Armageddon they will be looking towards the earth.
Now, some take issue with what has been shown from the Bible so far. They maintain, without scriptural support, that believers are swiftly saddled upon horses at the Rapture and return immediately with Christ to the earth to witness the Battle of Armageddon. According to their belief there is no time permitted for intimacy between Jesus Christ and His Church that He died for, nor any time for reunions between living and resurrected believers.
Here is where we will find that our other opening Scripture reference from John 14:1-4 puts this capricious notion to rest. As we have shown from the Word of God, after the Lord returns to the earth at the Battle of Armageddon, Jesus Christ then sets up residency in Israel where He is worshipped at Jerusalem.
Quoting from John 14:1-3 we find that when Christ comes for His Church He will take them to Heaven - not Israel. We quote, "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. "In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." The line of truthful logic is simple. Jesus told us in John 15:26 and 16:7 that He, Himself would send the Holy Spirit to believers after He would ascend to His Father. Repeatedly, Jesus revealed that His destination was to go and be with His Father (see John 14:28, 16:5 & 17 & 20:17). Jesus' Father is God and God's abode is in Heaven. Jesus told His disciples He was going away to prepare a place for them in His Father's house. Jesus told them He was going to do this for them in Heaven. He would come and take them to Heaven so that they could be with Him.
An obvious contradiction arises when one attempts to defend the false teaching that Jesus' intention is to come for His Church on His way to establishing His throne on earth. The Rapture to Heaven is sound, biblical teaching. It will happen - and it will happen prior to the bodily return of the Lord Jesus Christ with His called and chosen ones (Revelation 17:14). The Scriptures reveal to us that this unimaginable transformation will be at least seven years before that great day Christ establishes His throne in Jerusalem as Lord of lords and King of kings (Revelation 19:16).
In John 17:20 7 24 the Lord gave assurance to every person who has trusted in Him for the forgiveness of their sins that His promises of salvation and Heaven's glory are not limited only to His disciples that heard His voice almost 2,000 years ago. "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word.. Father I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world." (15)
Turning to Romans 1:24-32 in the New Testament we find where God reveals the depth of the depravity which ensnared the men of Sodom and His intentions towards those of like-minded ambitions. "Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of the hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshipped and served the Creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are wisperers, backbiters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them." (16)
The United States and Britain launched the first military action on global terrorism. The assaults don't only embody military action, but also relentless identification pursuits and most importantly seizing control of global financing. The two edged sword is that ultimately the final configuration of power which will arise from these actions to combat terrorism will ultimately rest in the hands of a man with satanic intentions.
Since the September 11, 2001 attack on New York City and Washington D.C. concern has increased at the prospect of greater security measures infringing upon personal liberties. Recent articles stressed how the single greatest act of terrorism has overturned cherished concerns for privacy. They reported how in recent years state motor vehicle bureaucrats have quietly laid the technical groundwork to allow authorities to instantly check any driver's license against official databases with data encoded on driver's licenses and how demand for biometric identity systems has surged along with other advanced technologies.
At the St. Petersberg Airport, cameras that take three dimensional photos of faces, have been placed to photograph every person who goes through baggage check points and other strategic places.
One day soon the world will include born-again Christians among the number counted as rebels. During that time of tribulation everyone's finances will be administered by a global authority and unalterable identification will be required in order to survive.
The Bible tells us the Anti-Christ will control the will of men through economic control of every individual by requiring a mark be put on every person in order for them to be able to buy or sell (see Revelation 13:16-18). Without this mark upon a person's right hand or forehead the vast majority of people will not be able to survive his reign. If a person is caught without this mark upon their body the sentence will be death. There will be no voting the Anti-Christ out of office.
Prophecy students have long recognized the need for the nations to establish foundational, cashless systems before the Anti-Christ could ever seriously realize that his draconian objective was attainable. It required all of the computer and laser scanner technology that is now so commonplace. But even with the use of these sophisticated, scientific advancement the "marked" society can never seriously be established as long as cash is still an accepted vehicle for commerce. Money in any form is essential for individual liberty in the hindering of the Anti-Christ's plans to crush and subjugate mankind; therefore money must be eliminated.
This is why prophecy students have watched and analyzed each new advancement which has furthered the cashless society. We have steadily advanced from cash to checks to credit cards to debit cards. We now have what are known as "smart cards." Once everyone has been integrated into the electronic money system in one fashion or another, cash will be eliminated and only the cards will remain. One piece of plastic is all that will stand between a person and the "mark" upon his body. A "mark" which God declares in Revelation 14 will damn an individual to an eternity of torment if it is received. A global, economic collapse of money is in the works we assure you and the Anti-Christ's system will be ready when it happens.
While Europe continues to take the lead in "smart card" usage the citizens of the United States have clung to their cash and checks. A steady tide of events is changing that. The United States has become a nation of numbered people straddling the edge of a big brother economy.(17)
All our "income" checks have been coming by direct deposit for years. Our Dish operates with a Smart Card. A recent repair on our Dish depended on monthly automatic credit card deductions or no special deals. Have you noticed the mergers of credit card providers. Microsoft's Office XP program has Smart Card capability. All service men have been issued Smart Cards. We also found that recent model vehicles have traceable IDs. All driver's licenses in Florida will also carry a three dimensional photo. They are talking about putting chips on credit cards. Changes are coming now at a rapid rate because the groundwork was laid over many years.
Because the foundation for changes necessary, the changes are implemented today with great speed. There has been a struggle between banks and the Credit Unions. We have a Credit Union Visa Card which ties to our banking and in many places they refuse to take the card. The United Nations wants registration of the world citizenry which is necessary to install another layer of tax collected by the United Nations.
We quote, "Turkey's top court banned the pro-Islamic Virtue Party, the main opposition party, in a verdict Friday that threatens the stability of a government already struggling to overcome an economic crisis. The move is also likely to be a setback for Turkey's push to join the European Union, which is demanding more democratic reforms. The Constitutional Court under 8-3 to close Virtue on the grounds it was a focal point for anti-secular activities. Virtue is the latest in a series of pro-Islamic parties to be shut down.. The verdict is a "blow to Turkey's search for democracy and law." Virtue leader Recai Kutan told party lawmakers at what probably was one of their last meetings. "Let nobody be deceived," Kutan said. "In Turkey in its present state, there is no democracy".
Turkey has everything to gain, and very little to lose, from embracing Israel. Besides having a long history of antagonism with the Arab world etched on its subconscious as a result of nearly half-a-millennium of Ottoman rule, Ankara also views with distrust, scorn, and alarm its Syrian and Iraqi neighbors. The Syrians have for years been ruling Turkey's Kurdish underground, and the Iraq's weapons of mass destruction concern Ecevit's general no less than Sharon's. Coupled with its democratic politics, fiercely pro-American orientation, and deep resentment of religious fanaticism, an alliance with Israel comes naturally to Turkey.."
Even though Turkey became increasingly pro-west during the 1980's and since 1991 has permitted U.S.-led forces to use its military bases to attack Iraq, in the mid nineties an Islamic government came to power and began a movement to destabilize this trend. Suddenly the leaders of Turkey were making overtures of possible alliance with an anti-western nation such as Iran.
There will be a short respite for Israel while the region experiences disarmament and security. When at last they believe they have peace and safety, sudden destruction will come upon the earth.
At any moment the appointed time for the final stage of the Persian Gulf War could be initiated. It will be a war that will end up affecting the entire world according to Jeremiah 51:48-49. It is uncertain as to how much, if any, of this war will be witnessed on earth by believers in Jesus Christ, but we are of the conviction that the Church will be caught up to meet their Lord in the heavens before Anti-Christ's seven year covenant is put into effect. Turkey will ultimately side against God and will lose its chance to be great among the nations. Don't you do likewise.
Today is the day to secure your place on the eternal flight by believing in the Savior Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Almost 2,000 years ago Jesus shed His blood on the cross for the sins of the world. We are told in John 1:12 that all who receive Him and believe in His name are counted among the children of God. Don't miss out on this glorious opportunity to be made clean and to excape the everlasting sorrow of the unsaved. (18)
Soon the Middle East will explode into war. In verses 59-64 of the Old Testament Book of Jeremiah we are shown that Babylon (located in modern-day Iraq) will be destroyed in such a fashion that it will remain desolate forever.
Turning to Psalm 83 we read in verses 7 and 8 that along with modern-day Iraq (listed as Assyria) the people of Philistia will be united in this Middle East war against Israel. The modern-day people of Philistia are the people of Philistia are the people now known as the Palestinians.
After this war of Psalm 83 comes to a close a seven year covenant will be put in place according to the prophetic word found in Daniel 9:27. Verse 26 reveals to us that the future wicked prince who will confirm this covenant will come forth from the old Roman Empire. These are the people who destroyed the Temple of Herod. The modern-day European Union which was founded in loan with the treaty of Rome with the Treaty of Rome is mushrooming nuclei of the restored Roman Empire of these last days.
It should not come as much of a surprise then that even without Israel's consent the E.U. has in the year 2001 begun sending in its own security experts to monitor efforts to maintain a cease-fire between Palestinians and Israelis (19)
Two momentous dates of fulfilled Bible prophecy which herald the close of this present age are May 15th and June 7th. It was on these two dates in 1948 and 1967 respectively, that the once deceased nation of Israel was reborn and its own soil after thousands of years of dissolution and then restored ancient Jerusalem as its capital. There is nothing in mankind's history to compare with these two monumental developments.
These achievements have taken place because God clearly fortold in numerous Scriptures. His plan for these last days to regather the descendants of Isaac and Jacob in the land that He has promised to their fathers. In chapters 36 and 37 of the Old Testament Book of Ezekiel one can find detailed prophecies which foretold of these times that Israel and the world are living in and and what awaits in the near future .
Quoting verses 24-28 from chapter 36 we find how this reclaiming of the land will not be completed until after the day Israel moves beyond its physical restoration and is reborn by the Spirit of God. "For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. The I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do tem. "Then you shall in the land that I gave to your father's; you shall be My people, and I'll be your God. .
In chapter 37 of Ezekiel God shares of panoramic vision that details Israel's resurrection from her grave among the dead nations. From scattered lifeless bones we, as the final generation, a privileged to witness Israel's physical life restored. We are told of this very day and verse 10, ".. breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army." Israel is ranked by the world community in 2001 as one of the most powerful nations on earth. Yet, with all of its strength, Israel finds itself forced to engage in endless confrontations during its quest for peace. The obsessive desire of Israel's enemies (and so called friends) to be deconstructed the tiny nation into an indefensible pinprick, fuels the hopes of those that call for her to return to the grave she arose from.
The world is blinded by God's adversary, Satan. They cannot recognize that all that is being done against Israel to destroy will be turned about by the mighty hand of God. It is God who has raised up the nation of Israel. It is he who has strengthened an armed her and most of all it is He who protects her.
An example of God's plan to turn things around can be seen by what is taking place between Israel and the Palestinians. Past leaders of Israel have consistently defied the Word of God and have by this fact denied His existence. They have been guilty of this every time they have entered into an agreement to give up portions of recovered Israel. They are in effect saying, "This land is not God's and it is for us alone to decide who will get it." Rarely, if ever, do Jewish leaders speak of the Hebrew right to the land of Israel originating by divine mandate. Usually, an earlier Jewish presence of sufficient length is cited as grounds for possession, such as is historically recorded in the Bible or other documents.
It is His intention to bring this dividing of His land to an end. "I will destroy you; So there shall be no inhabitant." The seacoast shall be pastures, with shelters for shepherds and folds for flocks. The coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah: They shall feed their flocks there: In the houses of Ashkelon they shall lie down at evening. For the Lord their God will intervene for them, and return their captives."
But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this?
Therefore I also said, "I will not drive them out before
you; but they shall be thorns in your side, and their gods she'll
be a snare to you."