Pensacola Bay, N.W. Florida - photo by the author.
A devotional/exhortational essay on the endtime drama.
by Dr. Gavin Finley - endtimepilgrim.org
We are blessed by a loving God who is "not slack concerning His promises but patient with us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." -2Pet. 3:9 He comes into the life of the believer by their invitation bringing them salvation and into the flows of eternal life. He then begins a process of sanctification changing their character from within. He transforms them into His likeness just as fast as they will surrender themselves to Him. When they finish their walk through life on this earth He brings them to glorification. At an epic future time He will issue them a new spiritual body. It will be of the same type as the one Jesus appeared in before His disciples after His resurrection. His resurrection body transcends the light and matter of this present cosmos. - Luke 24:13-32 Mary and the disciples saw Jesus after His resurrection. He walked through walls. And yet He was not a ghost. Thomas saw Him and touched Him. - John 20:25-29. This new glorified body was solid. And yet it will be eternal and able to travel through the cosmos at the speed of light. In the fullness of time the saints in Christ will enter this glory. This, as we shall discover, will be via the Post-Tribulation Resurrection-Rapture. The saints will find themselves in passage to a Christ filled eternity. They will be transcending and traveling in space and time. They will be conducted in His Light in a new and living Way. And their passage will take them out among the mansions of God. - John 21:4-14 This is our destiny in the realms of glory in the streams of eternal Life. - John 14:2-4
The life we presently have in these mortal bodies of ours will surely pass away. But God has given us His precious word that there will come a magnificent moment in future history when He will gather all His elect, both the living and the dead, from both sides of Calvary, and bring them into His glory. This includes the epic resurrection of the righteous dead. This climactic glorification of the saints will be triggered by the very Presence of Messiah at His second coming. He will come to finish up history not only with the resurrection of His saints but also the 'rapture of the church', the glorification of those who are living at the time of His coming.
1 Corinthians 15:20-24God's word tells us quite plainly in verse 23 above that the righteous dead will come out of their graves at the (second) coming of Christ to this earth. -1Cor.15:23.
15:20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
15:21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.
15:22 For as in Adam all die,
even so in Christ all shall be made alive.
15:23 But each one in his own order:
Christ the firstfruits,
afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.
The scripture passage below shows us that the return of Christ will be attended by the blowing of the "last trumpet." We are "looking for that blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ." -Titus 2:13 In an instant, in a twinkling of an eye, the living saints will join the resurrecting dead. We shall find ourselves changed, glorified, into new incorruptible bodies. This is a 'mystery', a reality we cannot yet grasp or comprehend. Nevertheless this magnificent moment is out there in the future somewhere. Jesus Christ is the God of the cosmos. He is stepping out of the stained glass, the vestments and all the swaddlings of religious ritual. The apocalypse will be an unveiling of Jesus Christ. He is coming home to the people He loves and back to the planet He had originally created in perfection and beauty. As Messiah He will restore all things, camping out with His people for a thousand years. -Rev.20 His very Presence at His return will raise the righteous dead and rapture the remnant saints. Glory be to His Name!
15:51 Behold, I tell you a mystery:
We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed--
15:52 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.
15:53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption,
and this mortal must put on immortality.
The Bible also shows clearly that the living saints who are "changed" at that time will experience a "catching up"/Gr.'harpazo' or 'rapture'. (see 1Thes.4:17 below.)
Since the passage above shows that both the living and the dead will be glorified together this epic event should properly be termed the resurrection-rapture. Here below is another scripture which once again clearly and unmistakably lays out this combined resurrection-rapture.
4:15 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.
4:16 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 first.
4:17 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.
So at that moment we shall join the saints who have gone before us (-Heb.11). and all together as one magnificent company we shall "put on immortality" undergoing a metamorphosis into new spiritual bodies. -1Cor.15:53
The Bible also gives us Jesus's own words about the resurrection-rapture saying that this event would come "after the tribulation of those days" in the days of a darkened sun and moon. These are the sixth seal cosmic signs associated with the battle of Armageddon. This epic battle will be fought toward the end of the final 7 years of this age. -Joel 2:31-32 Here at the climax of holy history we see a triumphant gathering of all the elect as one single congregation/ekklesia of God. At the "great sound of the trumpet" the saints are gathered by the returning Christ from "the four winds of heaven" across space and time.
24:29 "Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
24:30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
24:31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
You will notice that Jesus does not make any differentiation whatsoever between those of His elect who lie in the grave and those of His elect that are still up walking around. Whatever condition they are in, dead or alive, our Saviour and Redeemer is coming to gather His people! Let's make no bones about it! Even those untaught peasants in the dark ages who were fortunate enough to have a kind saintly priest translate the the Apostle's Creed out of the Roman/Latin language for them into their particular European tongue knew that the Messiah was coming to judge the 'quick/(the living) and the dead'.
So now we come to this very interesting question. Why have our evangelical Bible teachers split off the resurrection from the rapture and spirited it away? We hear many dissertations concerning the rapture. It is typically presented by Bible teachers as an isolated imminent event But as we have seen the scriptures in numerous places tell of the end-time gathering of the saints in a combined resurrection-rapture. So who put a cleaver in God's gathered elect? Who laid out an end-time doctrine of two gatherings when the Bible clearly states that there is just one? Who theologically dismembered that single congregation/ekklesia, the elect of God, that magnificent company who are all destined to be glorified together as one big happy party. And why?
Well we don't need to look very far for the answer. The Bible repeatedly shows us that the righteous dead will be resurrected very late in this age. Too late, in fact, for an early special pre-trib or mid-trib rapture to be hitched up with it. For example, four times in John 6 Jesus repeats that He will raise up/resurrect His people. Furthermore, Jesus states categorically that this glorious resurrection was not going to occur until the "last day".
John 6:39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.Is our Lord Jesus trying to get a message to us here? If He saw fit to tell us four times in the one message that He will raise His people up at the "last day" then who would dare contradict Him? And who would dare tamper with the message the Holy Spirit has so clearly laid out for us in the holy scriptures?
John 6:40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day."
John 6:44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.
John 6:54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.
Here is some further evidence of a late resurrection that will occur at the very end of this age. Martha, as she left her kitchen to come out and get in Jesus face over the death of her brother Lazarus, made a strong confession of her faith in the sure hope of the resurrection. The Old Testament saints had a very good handle on the resurrection of the righteous dead. And from the writings of Enoch, Job, Daniel etc. they knew precisely when this resurrection of the righteous would occur. Here is Martha's word on the matter and her magnificent confession of faith as penned by the Apostle John. As we see here in this scripture below, Martha knew very well when this endtime resurrection of the righteous dead would occur.John 11:24 Martha said to Him,
"I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."
So what is going on here? Why has the resurrection been split off from the rapture in our popular western church eschatology? Well it would appear that in view of the clear scriptural evidence of a late resurrection of the righteous dead the religious powers decided (probably during the 19th century) that this would be a prudent thing to do. If the rapture could be disconnected from the last day resurrection it could then be pulled back into an earlier time slot to fit their pre-tribulational rapture scenario. The plan was to place the rapture 7 years before the "last day". This would keep the church from becoming disturbed about the end-time as it came near. This may have been commendable social engineering. And yes it may have kept things 'quiet' in the churches and in the streets. But was this a faithful handling of the scriptures?
See the play, The Rapture Train Shuffle.
The men who fashioned our popular pre-trib rapturism eschatology in the 19th century, Reverend Darby, Scofield and the ones that followed them, no doubt meant well. And they may have considered their compromise to scriptural accuracy a minor thing. In the spirit of relativism they probably considered that the 'positives' outweighed the negatives'. But nevertheless they did disconnect the rapture from the resurrection against the holy scriptures. Under what pressures and by whose authority did they do this? This splitting of the rapture from the resurrection was in complete and utter contradiction to 1Thes. 4:15-18 which describes a combined event, a resurrection-rapture if you will.
Furthermore they conceived a scenario in which a pretribulational rapture would precede the resurrection at the last day. This would contradict what the Apostle Paul said he had received by the word of the Lord, probably from the Olivet discourse. -Mat 24:29-31
4:15 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.
So the pre-trib rapture doctrine flies in the face of God's holy word on two counts.
1. It wrongly divides the resurrection-rapture into two separated events when the scriptures show us they are a combined event.
2. It plucks the rapture from its late "last day" resurrection moorings and assigns it to a point in time which precedes the resurrection by 7 years.
So why did they do it?
Well this may be where our church-state connection comes into play. A dominant ethic of the Pax Americana is that all of us "have a nice day". The last thing that any political ruler wants is for their people to panic or in any way become socially disruptive over the challenges presented by the thresholds of history. This would especially apply to new information coming out regarding endtime Bible prophecy. The Battle Hymn of the Republic itself suggests that American History may climax into the apocalypse. Not all Christians are well grounded in the faith and few have grown in the graces. Western people, even though they may call themselves "Christian", tend to operate out of the carnal side of their nature when stressed. They respond to untoward events with anger and violence rather than in faith. Church history repeatedly shows that when God's Word breaks forth it is these carnal Christians who get carried away with the program and cause civil disturbances, tax revolts, anarchy and wars. Consequently, no prince or ruler wants to see this sort of thing happen on his watch. And no financial leader wants to see the peaceful flows of his society disturbed by a host of Christian "Chicken Littles" going around saying, "The sky is falling!" Indeed God's Kingdom itself is hardly advanced by panicked carnal Christian survivalists disrupting society and saying "head for the hills!" Therefore, since generally speaking Christians at this point cannot be depended upon yet to behave with patience and grace in times of trial political leaders have to lean on their state licensed church leaders to keep a lid on those portions of the holy scriptures that might upset the status quo. To put it plainly secular and religious leaders want to make sure that their people lead a quiet peaceful life on their watch.
There are abundant historical precedents for this. Henry VIII flew into a rage and carpeted Archibishop Wolsey when he discovered that Tyndale's English translation of the New Testament was being smuggled into England. The king demanded that Wolsey find Tyndale and put a stop to the flow of these scriptures post haste. These scriptures in the hands of his subjects were upsetting the status quo. Some of peasant class were getting "uppity" and no longer standing in awe of the king and his state church. They were conducting their own devotions of all things and without official ecclesiastical intermediaries to guide them in interpreting the scriptures. And what particularly incensed King Henry was that he heard his subjects speak of the 'end of the age' and of another more glorious kingdom to come. See the excellent video God's Outlaw available online from Vision Video. When King Henry heard his subjects discussing the end of the age he was absolutely furious. This pattern of putting a lid on the details of the endtime eschatology by church-state agencies will probably continue on into the endtime.
So for reasons of social and political pragmatism our eschatology has been rendered "politically correct" by the ruling religious powers. This may in fact be according to God's permissive will. We may not need the fine details until the time arrives. And many who call themselves Christians may not, (in their present level of devotion that is), deserve to know any more than what they have been told. Jesus Himself hid the truth from profane people by teaching in code. He brought many of His teachings to us in parables so that the wrong people do not know what He is doing. -Mat.13:13-15 Double agents, anarchists, and wolves in sheep's clothing are even now moving around among God's people, playing on their fears. And always have been. -Jude The less these pied pipers know the better. They are working for the kingdom of darkness. These hirelings and political manipulators are out to exploit the fears of Christian saints. They have no right to worry the sheep of God's pasture. If disturbed unstable Christians were to be delivered into the hands of carnal christian crusaders this would bring untold grief for everyone. It might even bring an end to the present Pax Americana and the wonderful peaceful preaching of the Gospel which is now going out to the ends of the earth.
Dear saints, we are in a spiritual war. And like all wars it is an information war. As in the navy we sail out "under sealed orders". Devoted Christians will certainly get the necessary information regarding their vital role of witness in the end-time drama. But they will get it personally from God. The necessary details will be given to the saints privately and on a "need to know basis". The angel Gabriel, who brought Daniel the end-time truth said"But you, O Daniel, shut up the words,
and seal the book, even until the time of the end:
Many shall run to and fro and knowledge shall be increased."
This may be all very well for our society at large. But don't the true saints deserve at least some broad general information on the end-time drill and their role in it? Don't they need information that is true and correct? Don't they deserve better information than the half truths being dished out to the religious masses?
Of course they do! One quarter of the Bible God has given us is prophecy. And God will certainly open the eyes of His trusted saints to the real truth. Why? Because the trials are coming. And the rapture will come later than we have been told. It will be a Post-Tribulation Resurrection-Rapture. And at some point in the future and before that final glorification the elect of God will be coming onstage, bringing their witness of Messiah and His coming Kingdom. This is the 5th seal. True Christian believers, the saints, will need to know the program. Our sovereign God is calling the shots here. We also need this time right now to prepare our hearts. All of us need to re-order our priorities in Christ.
Here is the burden of this writer. If the saints are not properly warned and properly informed and properly challenged to give themselves to the Redeemer in a time of peace then what will happen when they find themselves suddenly thrust into the events of the end-time drama? The scriptures warn about this very thing.
"If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you,
then how can you contend with horses?
And if in the land of peace, in which you trusted, they wearied you,
then how will you do in the swelling of Jordan?"
True shepherds know that sheep will only drink from still waters. This is a time to leave our pursuit of pleasure and material things and to allow ourselves to be led in quietness deeper into the heart of the Shepherd. Let us get to know His voice. -John 10:3-4 A dark and stormy day is coming. True believers will need to stay very close to Him. -Ezek.34:12
Are today's western Christians prepared to take the stage for the "final witness" of history? Unfortunately the answer is no. The warning is not even going out to evangelicals to prepare for any trials or tribulations at all. The only spiritual preparation being talked about is to get saved and pocket that ticket to heaven against the possibility of an untimely death or an imminent rapture. The eschatology we do have is inadequate. It clearly stands in contradiction to the holy scriptures. If this situation is allowed to continue many believers will be demoralized when the trials come upon them. Unprepared to witness under persecution many will "fall away" in those days.-2Thes.2:3 Corrie Ten Boom gave a warning of this very thing.
Dear saints, we must discard our religious presuppositions and our pet theories and look to the Bible alone. If we put aside our Bible commentaries, turn off the popular prophecy programs on TV, set aside the disinformational 'Left behind' novels and let the scriptures speak on their own merit we shall come out of the religious fog and see clearly. There is to be a Post-Tribulation Resurrection-Rapture. So we know that we shall face trials and tribulations. But God will not leave us without the covering of His Holy Spirit. If we submit to the Way of the cross and are led by the Holy Spirit His abiding Presence will be with us. And He will give us grace for the trials.
Here is another issue. "The spirit of man is the candle/lamp of the Lord.." -Prov.20: Have we procured the oil for our lamps against the coming night? Have we sought and found the fullness of the Holy Spirit? Only His fullness will guard us against 'burnout' when the midnight hour approaches? -Mat.25:1-15 Like the five wise virgins have we sought and found the 'midnight oil'? And have we taken the opportunity this time of peace allows to get to know God in a personal way. Have we drawn aside to invite His Presence. Have we been filled with His Holy Spirit?
And dear reader, here is the most important question of all.
Have you been born again? -John 3:3-7
God has been waiting for you to come to Him.
You belong to Him and He loves you with an everlasting love.
He purchased your salvation with His own body and blood.
And he will come into your life and change you from the inside out.
He will do the job. But you are the one that must invite Him in.
"Now is the day of salvation;- 2Cor.6:2 GWFAMPV Shall we make ourselves ready?
Behold! Look here! Pay attention!
Now is the accepted time".
Our Great Commission runs through to the very end of this age.
Let us join our Apostle Paul and affirm our faith to the end."For the which cause I suffer these things,
Nevertheless I am not ashamed,
For I know whom I have believed,
And am persuaded, that He is able,
To keep that which I've committed
Unto Him against that Day". -1Tim.1:12
The highway of holiness leads onwards and upwards;
- towards the gates of splendour.
Grace and shalom to all the saints.