Today, I offer the first installment in a two-part series concerning our ATTITUDE as we face dangers and challenges in this end time hour. (It will include topics--such as conquering fear, turning our concerns and problems over to God, finding true REST in Jesus and the spirit of thankfulness.) But before I get to that, I want to FOCUS upon the BLESSED HOPE of the Church and HOW that HOPE can be stolen.
Let's begin by looking at Titus 2:11 to 13.
"For the GRACE of God that brings SALVATION has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world, LOOKING FOR that BLESSED HOPE, and the GLORIOUS APPEARING of the GREAT GOD and our SAVIOR Jesus Christ."
First of all, we see God's GRACE involved in the BLESSED HOPE. The GRACE of God is His FREE GIFT which brings us SALVATION (a SAVING and DELIVERANCE from His wrath and punishment). Ephesians 2:8-9. God's wrath is the JUDGMENT He MUST ENACT upon sin. "For the WAGES of sin is death..." Romans 6:23. Genesis 2:17. Because of God's righteous character, His PURITY and HOLINESS, sin CANNOT abide or survive in His presence (Exodus 33:20); it MUST BE DEALT with and cast out forever. Since man fell into sin, we were SEPARATED from God, and unable to enjoy fellowship with our Creator. Isaiah 59:2. Romans 3:10-12. But all praise to our God, in His LOVE and GRACE, He provided us with A WAY to be reunited with Him--and to even be declared as righteous. 2 Corinthians 5:21. This wonderful SALVATION is provided to us through Jesus Christ--through HIS LIFE (which He lived FOR us--PERFECT and SINLESS). John 3:16. Jesus, having NO SIN became our Kinsman Redeemer (a Redeemer who PAID THE PENALTY that God REQUIRED upon sin--which is DEATH). Colossians 2:14. Jesus PAID THE HIGH PRICE for us, through His own death (in which He TOOK God's punishment upon OUR SIN--FOR US). 1 Peter 1:18-19. Then by the act of His glorious resurrection, we're assured of another awesome truth--we ARE RAISED with Him TO NEW LIFE as we place our FAITH in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:17. Romans 6:10-11.
When we're BORN AGAIN in the Spirit (spiritual rebirth) -- John 3:5-7 --we've ACCEPTED God's GIFT of Jesus. We recognize our sinfulness and ask for forgiveness, and we INVITE Jesus to come LIVE in our hearts. Then we draw upon God's POWER (resident within us through the Holy Spirit). By the working of the Holy Spirit inside us, we live in this PRESENT WORLD soberly (with self-control), righteously (doing what is good, honorable and RIGHT in God's sight), and Godly (displaying fruits of the Holy Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, faith, patience, meekness and temperance).
ALONG WITH all the aforementioned characteristics, we're to keep this thought in mind:
LOOKING FOR our BLESSED HOPE.... What is the BLESSED HOPE?
The GLORIOUS APPEARING of the GREAT GOD and SAVIOR Jesus Christ!
A prominent ATTITUDE of true Christians is the HAPPY ANTICIPATION of the RETURN of our LORD JESUS. We KNOW He'll come in the air to SNATCH UP His BRIDE to Himself. 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. We EXPECT Him to wisk us away to His FATHER'S HOUSE, where MANSIONS are prepared, the perfect BRIDAL chamber! John 14:2-3.
The POINT I want us to see right now--is the BLESSED HOPE. It's a JOYFUL ANTICIPATION of the GLORIOUS APPEARING of Jesus Christ--in the Rapture--when He descends into the air to receive His own. The CATCHING UP (harpazo) of His Bride--is to SAVE, PROTECT and DELIVER us from the WRATH of God which will fall upon the earth in the Tribulation (those seven years which are DETERMINED to fall upon Israel--and upon the UNBELIEVING world.)
Did you know there are crowns (rewards) given to people who joyfully watch for, and anticipate the Rapture of the Church? Let's look at 1 Thessalonians 2:19.
"For What is our HOPE, or JOY, or CROWN OF REJOICING? Are not even YOU in the PRESENCE of our Lord Jesus Christ AT HIS COMING?"
There's a CROWN (the STEPHANOS--a wreath given for OVERCOMING or GAINING A VICTORY) that's described as REJOICING. WHY is there such EXCEEDING JOY?
It's BECAUSE of being in THE PRESENCE of the Lord Jesus AT HIS COMING. This will occur in the Rapture, of course--as we'll see clearly from other scriptures. It's to be a time of EXCEEDING JOY--(and not of fear)!
There's even more. Let's look at 2 Timothy 4:8.
"Henceforth there is laid up for me a CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, which the Lord, the RIGHTEOUS Judge, shall give me at THAT DAY: and NOT to me ONLY, but unto ALL them that LOVE HIS APPEARING."
In that verse, we see it quite plainly! The CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS (the STEPHANOS) is a REWARD given to TRUE CHRISTIANS who LOVE THE DOCTRINE OF JESUS' APPEARING. There IS INDEED a CROWN (a reward) given to those who joyfully ANTICIPATE and WATCH for His appearing in the Pre-Trib Rapture.
From scriptures like these, the CORRECT and PROPER attitude of the Church concerning the Rapture is revealed. We're to be full of JOY, to be waiting and watching in ANTICIPATION, to LOVE the message of our BLESSED HOPE. We LOOK for Jesus--HE IS THE FOCUS.
Did you know that it's possible for the BLESSED HOPE to be robbed? If JOY at the mention of the Rapture is robbed, our BLESSED HOPE is stolen.
First of all, WHO does the stealing? Let's look at a prevalent end time attitude which is described in 2 Peter 3:3 and 4.
"Knowing this first, that there shall come in THE LAST DAYS SCOFFERS, walking after their OWN LUSTS (strong desires), and saying, 'WHERE is the PROMISE of HIS COMING? For since the fathers fell asleep (died off), all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.'"
Worldly people (including some Christians--"in name only") begin to SCOFF at and question the idea of the Lord's coming. These people see the world continuing forever in the same way--since the very time of the creation. (By the way, this is a passage which gives a strong hint of evolution.) Scoffers DOUBT the Lord's coming. They RIDICULE the teaching of the Pre-Trib Rapture. They do so BECAUSE they want TIME to SATISFY their LUSTS (those STRONG fleshly desires--and this does NOT mean ONLY sexual desires--but ALL lusts: for power, success, fun, games, riches. Even worthy desires, like for family and children, can be turned into NEGATIVE IDOLATRY, if they come FIRST--BEFORE God in a person's desires).
The SCOFFING of people KILLS and ROBS the BLESSED HOPE of the Pre-Trib Rapture. JOY and ANTICIPATION is squelched.
Satan, that old devil, also ROBS the BLESSED HOPE.
In the PARABLE OF THE SOWER, we see an enemy who ROBS God's good seed of THE WORD. Why would Satan want to ROB the Church of its BLESSED HOPE?
The answer should be obvious. Satan has always TRIED to ROB God's good promises from people. The devil will do ANYTHING to bring MISERY, DESPAIR and FUTILITY! He loves to twist and pervert the scripture until souls are destroyed. That's been the GOAL of the enemy from the very beginning.
I've establish WHO performs the ROBBERY of the BLESSED HOPE. Now, let's look at another example in Revelation 3:10-11.
(This is a PROMISE given to the Church of Philadelphia, a TRUE and FAITHFUL Church--one who LOVES Jesus, who shares the gospel, who is full of the Holy Spirit, and who LIVES by the WHOLE COUNCIL of God's Word--by everything that's recorded in the Holy Bible.)
"Because you have KEPT the WORD of My patience, I will also KEEP you FROM the HOUR of temptation, which shall come upon ALL the world, to try (test) them that DWELL on the earth. Behold, I COME QUICKLY: HOLD FAST that which you have, THAT NO MAN TAKE YOUR CROWN."
The Philadelphia Church is given a great PROMISE. Notice these true Christians will be KEPT from something. They'll NOT have to GO THROUGH something! What is it that they'll ESCAPE?
THE HOUR of temptation. They are NOT ONLY told they will be KEPT from temptation. They're promised to be KEPT OUT OF "THE TIME" OF IT!
What temptation is it?
It's an HOUR or a SET TIME when THE WHOLE WORLD will be TRIED--tested and judged. It's an HOUR and SET TIME when a TRIBULATION (a TRIAL) will fall upon the ENTIRE WORLD. In order to be KEPT OUT of a TIME that will HIT the WHOLE WORLD, these true Christians MUST be taken OUT OF the world!!! If they REMAINED on the earth, they would be IN THE TIME of that TRIAL!!! But, the Word is clear, they are taken out of THE TIME of it--and out of the vicinity of the WHOLE WORLD.
By this description, we understand WHAT TIME the Philadelphia Church is to be KEPT FROM. We call it "The Tribulation"!
In Daniel 9:24 to 27, THAT SET TIME is DEFINED (again this is a subject I hope to teach in a future blog). What I want you to see now is this--THE SET TIME is SEVEN YEARS long. The TRUE and FAITHFUL Church (who are GENUINE Christians--NOT those "in name only")--will be KEPT from the VERY TIME of the "Seven-Year Tribulation".
In Revelation 3:11, Jesus declares that He will COME QUICKLY. Suddenly, at an HOUR when people THINK NOT, Jesus will APPEAR in the Rapture. Matt. 24:44. In Revelation, He ADDS--HOLD FAST to what you have, so NO MAN can ROB your crown.
In the CONTEXT of Philadelphia's PROMISE--(which is to be KEPT from the VERY TIME of THE TRIBULATION)--Jesus tells us to HOLD FAST to the expectation we have. Why?
Because there will be PEOPLE who'll TRY to steal OUR CROWNS--ROBBING us of a PROMISE which brings BLESSED HOPE.
WHAT crowns are stolen?
Remember the CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS (the STEPHANOS), the REWARD given to people who LOVE the MESSAGE of Jesus' APPEARING in the Rapture?
Do NOT let ANY MAN or ANY FALSE TEACHING "steal" that crown from us! Do NOT let ANY MAN or ANY FALSE TEACHING rob us of our BLESSED HOPE!
Jesus desires us to be full of JOY, jumping with ANTICIPATION, and LOVING the idea of His SOON APPEARANCE in the Pre-Trib Rapture. This ATTITUDE should be our consuming FOCUS!!!
But what happens?
People spout their FALSE TEACHINGS. They INSIST upon their OWN misconstrued OPINIONS, and they presume to TELL us HOW we SHOULD believe (according to them and their inaccurate readings of the scripture). By doing this, they COULD ROB us of what should be a MIGHTY BLESSING.
Here are a few of the FALSE TEACHINGS:
"You (Church) must go through the tribulation. You will suffer calamities, earthquakes, pestilences and the rage of the Antichrist. You will see frightful and terrible signs from heaven. Nuclear wars will happen. You will be martyred and die. The government will be a thousand times worse than Hitler. Water will turn to blood, the sun will scorch, earthquakes will cause cities to collapse--islands and mountains will disappear. And you better be ready. Because your faith will be tested though these things."
(The judgments that I just described WILL INDEED HAPPEN during the Tribulation, BUT this is THE SET TIME that Philadelphia--"the True and Faithful Church--is PROMISED to be KEPT FROM!)
Here's a few more FALSE STATEMENTS (which can ROB us of our CROWN--given for maintaining our BLESSED HOPE).
"The Rapture is in middle of the Tribulation, NOT before it."
"No, the Rapture happens JUST BEFORE God pours out His bowls of wrath."
"You're ALL wrong. The Rapture will happen at Armageddon--after the WHOLE Tribulation has passed."
ARE YOU CONFUSED YET? (I know those of us who have diligently studied end time prophecies will NOT be confused, BECAUSE the PRECIOUS TRUTH of God's WHOLE COUNSEL undergirds us. But NEW believers, and those NOT familiar with the Bible, DON'T know WHAT to think!)
Here's some truth: GOD DOES NOT WANT US TO BE CONFUSED! He gave us AMPLE scriptures, and SHOWS us what IS the TRUTH! (Remember, too, that SATAN is the AUTHOR of CONFUSION.)
If we take THE TIME to study His ENTIRE Word (comparing scripture to scripture, defining the words that are used, and keeping the messages in context), we'll not MISAPPLY prophecies. If we ask the Holy Spirit to TEACH US, and RELY on Him to SHOW us the correct interpretation, we'll avoid confusion, because God is never the author of confusion (like I stated above). If we accept His truths and prophecies LITERALLY, our FAITH in His Word will be UNSHAKABLE!
(Concerning the FALSE TEACHINGS I listed ABOVE: AS I've read the REASONS and EXPLANATIONS which are given FOR those beliefs--I find the scriptures TWISTED so badly, it gives me a headache. It's like trying to UNTANGLE matted hair! And it fills me with GRIEF, because I HATE seeing God's Word misused and torn apart like it so often is.)
The real tragedy is this: Instead of experiencing the BLESSED HOPE at the mention of Jesus' APPEARING (in a Pre-Trib Rapture), people are driven into PAROXYSMS of FEAR. They say, "Don't give me all that gloom and doom." Seeking to AVOID their fear, they run from end time prophecies, saying, "I won't hear any more it."
There's even something worse: When people are robbed of the BLESSED HOPE, they quit looking for Jesus. They STOP expecting Him. Instead, they EXPECT to meet the Antichrist. They EXPECT to be severely punished and beaten by the Savior Who died to make them righteous. They don't understand the effectiveness of His shed blood, or the thoroughness of His finished sacrifice. They can't comprehend that He is coming soon--to REWARD them. Revelation 22:12. Hebrews 9:28. The false teachings have dimmed their eyes to the REALITY of His HUGE LOVE!
One REASON WHY I wrote today's blog: I'm often DISTRESSED by the viciousness of the ATTACKS upon our BLESSED HOPE (found in websites and forums all over the Internet, and in many published books, too). The ATTACKERS SAY that we, who believe in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, are "false prophets" who "spew lies from hell." The ATTACKERS ADD that when we (who believe in the PROMISE of a Pre-Tribulation Rapture) find ourselves in the Tribulation, then we'll REJECT God and FALL AWAY from Jesus. Furthermore, they insist, that by our "false teachings"--we'll INSURE that others meet the same fate. (This is NOT only FALSE, but it BELITTLES our FAITH, and DENIGRATES our POWERFUL LOVE of Jesus!)
I can AFFIRM that these attacks DON'T bother me! What distresses me is that BABY CHRISTIANS (young ones in the faith) will be harmed by such false teachings. What disturbs me is that many Christians may be robbed--having their BLESSED HOPE destroyed. What angers me is this--it's a possibility that many Christians will turn away from the JOY and ANTICIPATION of Jesus' return, and instead suffer and tremble with FEAR, DOUBTS and CONFUSION--and they don't need to!
I can say EMPHATICALLY--God DID NOT want it to be this way! The FEW Bible verses I've shared in this blog should make that OBVIOUS!
I hope by sharing these things, that you may be uplifted and encouraged, fully determined to remain STRONG in your faith, and FAITHFUL in your LOVE of Jesus.
To sum it all up: What are IMPORTANT end time attitudes? JOY, HOPE, LOVE and EXCITEMENT!
What a BLESSING we have--to be full of ANTICIPATION, looking for the APPEARING of Jesus!
I EAGERLY EXPECT Him! And I know there are MANY others who feel the same way!
Let's NOT allow our BLESSED HOPE to be robbed.
Do you experience powerful HOPE as this end time world grows darker, more threatening? It does sounds contradictory, doesn't it, that while the world becomes more dangerous and insecure, we have a RISING JOY? But that's what Jesus gives to us. We have the PEACE that passes all understanding. We look at the sky, staring at clouds, and KNOW one day, our Lord will appear. And we will be with Him in glory!!!
HOPE is an attitude which brings enjoyment to our Savior's heart--because it shows HOW MUCH we trust Him.
Have a most glorious and thankful day in Jesus.
EVEN SO, COME QUICKLY, LORD JESUS. WE LONG TO SEE YOUR WONDERFUL FACE. WE'LL BOW AT YOUR FEET AND WORSHIP.