THE BIBLE AS ONE BOOK--”HIS STORY”
I view the WHOLE BIBLE as ONE UNIT.
God’s WORD is so much MORE than a compiling of 66 books penned (as the Holy Spirit directed) by 40 people! Every word, every number, every color, every symbol, every structure has PERTINENT MEANING. Every story of Old Testament people, every historical recording, every prophecy written--ALL point to JESUS and His amazing work in some way. AND it also tells of God’s plan--to reconcile a fallen creation back to Himself after mankind fell into sin (Man’s SIN is THE ACT which gave the Title Deed for the earth to the devil).
The BIBLE’S MESSAGE intertwines, presenting a CONSISTANT message. What God has declared in one place, He will always confirm it--with THE SAME meaning--in another place in His word. As I bring this topic to you, I use this understanding, gleaning nuggets from all over the God’s Word, and fitting the pieces together (like a DIVINE jigsaw puzzle) to show valuable doctrine.
If you have difficulty figuring out what SYMBOLS mean, or HOW doctrines INTRODUCED in one place RELATE to what’s shown in another, use a STRONG’S EXHAUSTIVE CONCORDANCE, and do extensive research. The Bible will indeed INTERPRET itself. It’s the METHOD I’ve used, which I APPLY in this teaching.
Please take the time to read the many scriptures I will cite in this study.
FILLED PROPHECY AND THE END TIMES
Would you be so BOLD as to say that JESUS IS COMING SOON? Many of us, just by looking at events in the world, would answer with an unequivocal “YES!”
It seems everywhere we look, we find Bible prophecies in THE PROCESS of becoming fulfilled. A few prophecies are NOT just in “the process”--THEY ARE FULFILLED ALREADY!
Here’s TWO prominent ones: 1. Israel returned to their promised land after a SECOND dispersal and captivity (which was world-wide). Isaiah 11:11-12. Zechariah 10:9-10. 2. Israel as a nation, born in one day (May 14, 1948). Isaiah 66:6.
Those ANCIENT WORDS have COME TO PASS in our time! This demonstrates an ALIVE and ACTIVE GOD--Who WATCHES over His Word to PERFORM IT! God’s hand is INDEED moving! AND, He does exactly WHAT He SAID He’d do!
Some people may have a VAGUE understanding of WHAT to expect in these end times, gathered from a CASUAL reading of the Bible. Coupled with what’s happening in the world right now, it produces a heightened awareness that our time is drawing VERY SHORT. But, UNFORTUNATELY, in so many cases, MISAPPLIED scripture and UNDEFINED WORDS lead to MISTAKEN conclusions.
One of the most HOTLY DEBATED issues is THE TIMING of the Church’s promised RAPTURE. A few people DON’T BELIEVE in a rapture! Others believe that the Church must ENDURE THROUGH a horrendous time, commonly called “the Tribulation”--where believers must SOMEHOW SURVIVE as ALL HELL breaks loose on earth.
But, what is THE TRUTH?
I firmly believe that God DID NOT give His Word to BRING CONFUSION. I can list prophecy upon prophecy, that SPEAKS to Israel, plus others, which speak to the Church. Books have been written on this subject. So I’ll NOT rehash this debate from the perspective of what has already been written by numerous other authors!
But there’s another factor I feel is often neglected in end time debates--the character of the Church. I want to concentrate on that.
I’m FULLY CONVINCED of the PRE-TRIBULATION RAPTURE of the CHURCH, and I desire to show you SOUND REASONS why I see it as I do. In doing so, I follow the exhortation of 1 Peter 3:15.
“But SANCTIFY the Lord God in your hearts: and BE READY ALWAYS to give AN ANSWER to every man that asks you a REASON of the HOPE that is in you with meekness and fear.”
As I bring this study, I SEEK to present it as CLEARLY as I can, remembering with humility, that right now, on this side of eternity, I “see through a glass darkly.” Now, I know in part, but when I see Jesus FACE TO FACE, then I shall KNOW fully ALL the WONDERS of His Precious Word. (1 Corinthians 13:12.)
WHAT IS THE “POSITION” OF THE CHURCH “IN JESUS”?
What people often FORGET is this--to clearly UNDERSTAND Bible prophecies, and the TIMING of end time things, we must study our POSITION IN JESUS too. The study of ESCHATOLOGY (end time prophecies) must be BALANCED with the study of ECCLESIOLOGY (the NATURE of the Church--with its specific PROMISES). That’s what I intend to show in this series.
People often forget how UNIQUE “the Church” really is--AMONG all the groups of God’s people.
God INTERRUPTED His plans for ISRAEL when that nation REJECTED Jesus as their promised Savior and Messiah! When that rejection occurred, as prophesied, God TURNED to another group of people that He had kept hidden in His plans (a MYSTERY that was HIDDEN in God from the beginning--Colossians 1:25-27). God set Israel aside (NOT forever) but for a predetermined time--Acts 15:14-16, Romans 11:1-2.
The Church has NEVER REPLACED ISRAEL in God’s plans, as some false teachers would have you believe. (The BOTTOM LINE--what does GOD say about it?) He will NEVER FAIL to bring His word to pass! He will NEVER FAIL to fulfill ALL the EVERLASTING and UNCONDITIONAL COVENANTS that He gave to Israel--which are the Abrahamic Covenant, the Land Covenant, the Davidic Covenant and the New Covenant.
After Israel was TEMPORARILY set aside, God began CALLING-OUT a people FOR JESUS, a SPECIAL and UNIQUE BODY known as THE CHURCH. When God called the Church into being, as BOTH Jews and Gentiles accepted what Jesus did at the cross for them, He equipped THIS BODY like NO OTHER PEOPLE has EVER been equipped! In this series, I’ll point out that EQUIPPING and THE POSITION of the Church IN JESUS. I’ll also point out EXACTLY how God SEES us and NAMES us!
There’s indeed a POSITION that the TRUE CHURCH enjoys. This position involves a special RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS CHRIST, and a wonderful PROMISE that goes with it. The true church (those BORN AGAIN--and IMMERSED INTO JESUS CHRIST to become HIS BODY) are SPARED from God’s JUDGMENTS in the TRIBULATION. For that reason, I offer THIS VIEW which EMPHATICALLY shows WHY the UNIQUE BODY known as the Church will NEVER be cast into the “HOUR of temptation (that tribulation) which shall come upon ALL the world, to test (try) them who dwell upon the earth.” Rev. 3:10.
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THE WORD “CHURCH”?
Do you know that God NAMES His people according to the QUALITY and CHARACTER that they display? Let’s consider a few:
(1.) ABRAHAM--“father of a multitude.” Indeed, he is! He’s the father of Israel, but not only them. He’s also the father of many Arab nations!
(2.) Israel (Genesis 32:28)--“a prince who has power with God and with men, and has prevailed (has the might to endure).” Israel, as a nation, has endured--they’ve suffered and yet, they have retained their national identity, even unto this end time.
(3.) Methuselah--(Now, this is quite a name!) Methuselah is well known for being the OLDEST man to ever live, BEFORE the “great flood” of Noah’s day. Methuselah’s name means--“His death shall bring”--which is actually a PROPHECY. Whenever Enoch shouted to his son BY NAME, here’s what the pre-flood people heard--“When he is dead, it shall come.” Indeed, it happened that way! The VERY YEAR that Methuselah died, the flood came!
So what is the meaning of the word CHURCH? What does God HEAR when He speaks to us by that name? “The called-out assembly.”
Oh, you might ask, how does that APPLY to us as a people? I’ll give you a brief definition, as found in the Strong’s Concordance.
“Church” is “ekklesia” in the Greek language. It’s primary meaning is “a calling out of a religious congregation.” However, there are ROOTS within “ekklesia” which enlarges our understanding.
“Ek” means “out of a place” or “out of a time.” “Kaleo” means “to call” and “to call forth” and “to call aloud.” “Kaleo” comes from “Keleuo” which means “to hail” and “to bid” and “to give a command.” So now, let’s combine the string of meanings and see what we get.
The CHURCH is the EKKLESIA which means to be “called out of a place.” The JEWS and GENTILES in the CHURCH are CALLED OUT of Israel and CALLED OUT of the world to become the CALLED-OUT ASSEMBLY known as the Church.
The CHURCH is the EKKLESIA which means to be “called out of a time.” How can people be “called-out” from A TIME (such as THAT HOUR which will come upon the WHOLE WORLD to TRY them who DWELL ON THE EARTH? Revelation 3:10.) How can a people be CALLED-OUT from A TIME which is WORLDWIDE, unless they’re taken into a dimension where TIME NO LONGER EXISTS? The assembly known as the Church will be CALLED OUT of the VERY TIME which is known as the TRIBULATION, and we will meet Jesus in the air in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. By that method, we are NOT on earth at THE TIME of God’s Judgment. Indeed, we’ll be CALLED OUT of the TIME of it!
When the CHURCH, the EKKLESIA, is CALLED OUT of this world in the Pre-Trib Rapture, it will occur at the SHOUT of Jesus, Who commands “Come up here!” This CALL is A BID from Jesus. It’s TO HAIL--like in a SHOUT. It’s TO GIVE A COMMAND. Jesus will SHOUT, HAIL, BID and COMMAND, “Come up here.” When the Pre-Trib Rapture occurs, the CALLED-OUT ASSEMBLY will be CALLED-OUT (by a shout) from an earth that’s ripe for God’s judgments. We’ll be CALLED-OUT and UPWARDS and into our HEAVENLY MANSIONS where TIME is NO MORE. So we, Church, are INDEED the CALLED-OUT ASSEMBLY--in EVERY DETAIL of the definition!
I thought you’d enjoy that word study. But that’s not all there is to see!
RIGHTEOUSNESS: A “POSITION” OF RIGHT STANDING IN JESUS
Why is the church NOT appointed to wrath? 1 Thessalonians 5:9. Romans 5:9. Because THE BLOOD of Jesus has ALREADY made us READY to be united with Him forevermore. We are MADE RIGHTEOUS in Him ALREADY.
IF we needed to be "purified" by the events of the Tribulation, that means Jesus' SHED BLOOD was NOT ENOUGH to make us pure. We possess the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD through what Jesus did! We are declared BY GOD as RIGHTEOUS--which is THE RESULT of our BELIEF and ACCEPTANCE of Jesus!
Consider this scripture. Allow it to soak deep into your hearts and minds.
“For He (God) HAS MADE HIM (Jesus) to BE SIN for us, (Jesus) Who KNEW NO SIN; that we MIGHT be MADE the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God in Him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21.
Jesus TOOK our sins on the cross, and received the judgment of God for them--for us! Every sin ever sinned from the Garden of Eden to the end of the Millennium was placed upon our SAVIOR! ALL that SIN fell upon Jesus, Who is the SINLESS One. Our sin infiltrated His Holy Person, and He became REPUGNANT before God. When the Father JUDGED our sin in His only begotten Son, Jesus FELT AND EXPERIENCED the SEPARATION FROM GOD which SIN BRINGS, so much so, that He cried, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Psalm 22:1. Matthew 27:46.
Every sin of every man and woman (past, present and future), fell upon the flesh of the ONLY BEGOTTEN SON OF GOD! Jesus took ALL that sin (IN OUR STEAD, acting on OUR BEHALF) so that God could JUDGE it in His Own Son (instead of upon us). Jesus PAID God’s PENALTY for ALL those SINS! John 19:20--in which “finished” means “completed”, “made an end to”, and “filled up”. Jesus PAID the PRICE COMPLETELY “for us” so that we can be “set free”! Jesus did it so that we MIGHT be MADE the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God in Him!
The word MIGHT is there in 2 Corinthians 5:21, because being set free of our sins contains a CONDITION. We must ACCEPT the GIFT that God gave to us in His Son--(which is God’s GRACE to us). We must BELIEVE that Jesus PAID THE FULL PENALTY upon our sins! We must BY FAITH “know” that our sins are FORGIVEN TOTALLY by what Jesus did on the cross for us. We must “realize” that NOW we STAND as RIGHTEOUS before our Father in heaven, BECAUSE of what Jesus did at the cross for us! Jesus paid the price TOTALLY and there is NOTHING ELSE that we NEED to do (except to believe and to receive). By FAITH in what Jesus did at the cross for us, we thereby gain God’s acceptance of us though the precious blood.
Since we stand before God, made righteous through the blood of Jesus, we will NEVER be punished for our sins! This is WHY the true Church will NEVER EVER be cast into the Tribulation to receive chastisements for sinning. The punishment has already happened--JESUS TOOK IT--and He will NEVER permit one of His BLOOD-BOUGHT ones to SUFFER under God’s judgments.
Furthermore, the RIGHTEOUS are ALWAYS removed from the PLACE and the TIME when God punishes the wicked--ALWAYS!!! (This is another teaching that requires a separate series.) But I will list the examples of Enoch and Noah, Lot and Rahab.
Do you believe that the blood of Jesus has made you righteous?
Some people are so caught within the CONSCIOUSNESS of their own sins, failures and guilt--that they cannot see what Jesus has accomplished. Caught in guilt and unworthiness, many fall prey to thinking they must achieve “righteousness” by the good works they do.
They have the picture BACKWARDS. Jesus DIED and ROSE AGAIN to make us righteous. As we really believe that, then in the RIGHTEOUSNESS OF JESUS, we are able to walk and obey in a manner which pleases God.
I can list several scriptures which SHOW US THE WAY to walk in the righteousness given to us by Jesus. Be sure to look these over and study them.
Romans 6:3-11. Romans 8:1-2. Ephesians 2:8-10, and especially verse 10.
And WHEN we sin, live by the instructions in 1 John 1:9. I call that scripture “the daily (and sometimes more than once daily) cleansing” verse.
We can WALK in the RIGHTEOUSNESS that Jesus gave us. We can experience guilt-free lives. We can be MORE THAN CONQUERORS in Jesus! Romans 8:37.
We can walk in confidence, joy and peace--and not be under the weight of guilt and condemnation. We honor God by believing His Word and Promises--as we walk in the VICTORY that Jesus has given us.
The RIGHTEOUS are always REMOVED before god pours out His judgments. Before the judgments of the Tribulation, God will remove the RIGHTEOUS ones of the true Church of Jesus Christ. He’ll tell Jesus: “Go get them, Son.” And 1 Thessalonians 1:16-17 will be fulfilled.
THE TRUE CHURCH AND THE HOLY SPIRIT
A CHURCH SEALED AND INDWELLED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT--OUR GIFT AND POSITION IN JESUS
Do you realize that the Church has been SEALED? The Holy Spirit has SEALED us! We understand that by being SEALED, there’s special protection upon us, and a very wonderful guarantee. Let’s look at Ephesians 1:13-14.
“In Whom (Christ) you also TRUSTED, after that you HEARD THE WORD OF TRUTH, the gospel of your salvation: in Whom also AFTER that YOU BELIEVED, you were SEALED with the HOLY SPIRIT OF PROMISE, which is THE EARNEST of OUR INHERITANCE until THE REDEMPTION of THE PURCHASED POSSESSION, unto the PRAISE of HIS GLORY.”
What does this mean?
Have you ever paid for a house, or another piece of property? In doing so, we lay down a smaller sum which is THE EARNEST, or the GUARANTEE, that the PROPERTY truly belongs to us, even BEFORE we’ve completed the remaining legal papers.
The Holy Spirit is THE EARNEST--it is He Who GUARANTEES that Jesus OWNS us (after we’ve BELIEVED and put our TRUST in Him). We are SEALED by the Holy Spirit! This means we’re Jesus’ BLOOD-BOUGHT and TOTAL possessions, and the Holy Spirit SEALS US (binding us to Jesus) until ALL the other legalities of THE REDEMPTION are completed.
What legalities? OUR FULL REDEMPTION! The COMPLETED redemption happens for us--when we cast off these MORTAL bodies to OBTAIN bodies like Jesus’ GLORIFIED ONE! The completed redemption will occur for the true Church in THE EVENT called the RAPTURE--when those remaining unto Jesus’ appearing will be INSTANTLY CHANGED to IMMORTAL (and those who died WHILE HAVING FAITH in Jesus--during the age of the Church--will be RESURRECTED--raised INCORRUPTIBLE--at that time).
We’re ALREADY Jesus’ possessions, bought and paid for by His blood! The Holy Spirit is a further GUARANTEE that NOTHING will PREVENT Jesus from OBTAINING that which He DIED for--our redeemed souls and lives. We BELONG to Jesus, NOT to this WORLD! Therefore, we will NEVER be cast into a terrible time which will test those who DWELL on the WORLD. The Holy Spirit SEALS us until the day of our redemption--when we will meet Jesus in the air in a PRE-TRIBULATION Rapture (and resurrection).
A CHURCH INDWELLED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT--WHO HAS THE POWER TO RESTRAIN, AND THEREFORE MUST BE TAKE OUT OF THE WAY
BEFORE the Antichrist can be revealed, He Who WITHHOLDS (or restrains) will be TAKEN OUT of the way--2 Thessalonians 2:6-7. He Who RESTRAINS the revealing of the Antichrist is the Holy Spirit. When that HINDERING force is gone, THEN the Antichrist will be revealed. But WHEN?
After the “Restrainer” is removed, that evil man will have the FREEDOM to gather his power, unhindered. The Antichrist will be revealed WHEN he confirms a “peace treaty” with Israel, an ACT which BEGINS the 70th WEEK, the SEVEN-YEAR TRIBULATION (as prophesied in Daniel 9:24 to 27----and seen also in the WHITE HORSE of the FIRST JUDGMENT SEAL of Revelation 6). In order for these events to happen, the RESTRAINING ability of the Holy Spirit must be TAKEN OUT OF THE WAY.
That fact is clear now, right?
So I ask this question: “If the Holy Spirit is TAKEN OUT OF THE WAY, what happens to the Church, we who are INDWELLED by Him?” Will God RIP the HOLY SPIRIT from the HEARTS of the Church in sort of a reverse Pentecost? HEAVEN FORBID!
We are SEALED by Him! Wherever the Holy Spirit is taken out of the way (as His hindering force is REMOVED), we can BE SURE the CHURCH will GO WITH HIM! Indeed, the Holy Spirit will be lifted back to the throne of God in Heaven, and from there, He will reach out to minister to people on the earth like He did in the Old Testament.
God will NOT rip the Holy Spirit from the hearts of the true Church when He’s taken out of the way (in order for the Antichrist to be revealed when he signs the SEVEN YEAR covenant with Israel). Therefore, the true Church will be CAUGHT UP to heaven as the Holy Spirit is taken up and out of the way. It will INDEED be like Pentecost IN REVERSE, but our TRANSLATED--“changed into immortal bodies”--will rise to heaven also, as the Holy Spirit returns to God’s throne (and this event--the Pre-Trib Rapture will INCLUDE the resurrection of those who died while believing in Christ during the CHURCH AGE).
There’s STILL another FACTOR about the Holy Spirit being taken out of the way. The restraining force as provided by Him LIVES WITHIN the REGENERATED hearts of the true Church. You see, the true Church is VITALLY LINKED to Him.
That truth will be the subject of the next few paragraphs. These will show THE POWER which God has invested in us who truly believe. It’s through the FAITHFUL Church on earth that the Holy Spirit operates His RESTRAINING and HINDERING. Full evil and corruption cannot rise up as long as there is a PRAYING and BELIEVING Church on the earth!
Times may get really bad in the end, but FULL EVIL cannot come UNTIL the true Church is taken out of here!
A CHURCH INDWELLED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT, WITH THE POWER TO OVERCOME
“And you shall receive POWER after that the HOLY SPIRIT is come upon you…” Acts 1:8. “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In My Father’s name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover.” Mark 16:17-18. “These things I have spoken unto you, that IN ME you might have peace. In the world (while we minister here as THE CHURCH) you shall have tribulation (which is a “general” earthly trouble): but be of good cheer, I (Jesus) have overcome the world.” John 16:33.
Read what Jesus tells us in Matthew 16:18 about the Church. Think deeply upon this and allow the words to bury themselves into the very fiber of your being. Jesus did NOT BIRTH His church in an attitude of weakness or failure. He FILLED us with ALL we need to SUCCEED--IF ONLY we’ll BELIEVE (have unwavering confidence) in His Word and His promises! YOU SEE, WE MUST ACT UPON THESE TRUTHS IN FAITH!
Matthew 16:18--“And I say unto you, That you are Peter, and upon this ROCK will I build MY CHURCH; and the GATES OF HELL shall NOT PREVAIL AGAINST IT.”
“To NOT prevail against it” means that powers of the devil will NOT be able to “stand” against, hold off or STOP the Church! The forces of evil cannot “overwhelm” or “overpower” the Church either! Instead, the Church has the POWER invested in us by the Holy Spirit, and WE ARE the ones who OVERCOME the forces of the enemy, the temptations the world, and the lures of our own sinful flesh nature.
Simply stated--The powers of evil will NOT conquer a Spirit-filled CHURCH, who TRUSTS totally in Jesus, and ACTS UPON God’s Word (by faith, unwavering)--drawing upon the power of the Holy Spirit inside us.
In verse 19, Jesus ADDS to this powerful promise, offering us a MIGHTY Holy Spirit TOOL-- prayers of BINDING and LOOSING. With powerful Holy Spirit WEAPONS like these, we can PULL DOWN STRONGHOLDS! Nothing should be IMPOSSIBLE to us! And yes! There’s scriptures to back those last two statements! Matthew 18:18. Matthew 17:20.
“For the WEAPONS of our WARFARE are NOT carnal, but MIGHTY through God to the PULLING DOWN of STRONG HOLDS”--2 Corinthians 10:4. “IF you CAN believe, ALL things ARE POSSIBLE to him THAT BELIEVES.”--Mark 9:23.
This BELIEF is one which is CENTERED upon the PROMISES of God in His Word, which is God’s WILL for us--NOT our own will. (God must be supreme in ALL things, and the works we do by FAITH and through the POWER of the Holy Spirit must always bring GLORY to Him!)
Above are just a few samplings of what BELIEVERS (in the Church) should be able to do by the POWER and MIGHT of the Holy Spirit Who lives INSIDE us. We can DEMAND that devils flee in THE NAME of JESUS, and they will. (I have lived by this and have witnessed it happening. And in humility I remember the words of Jesus. Do NOT rejoice that devils obey you--but rejoice that your name is written in heaven!)
We are given the Holy Spirit, so we can OVERCOME the WORLD, our SIN NATURE and THE DEVIL, thereby glorifying God as we live for Jesus, growing in our faith. The Holy Spirit’s power makes us OVERCOMERS, which means we GAIN THE VICTORY.
1 John 5:4-5 makes this truth ABUNDANTLY CLEAR. “For whatsoever is born of God OVERCOMES the world: and this is THE VICTORY that OVERCOMES the world, even our FAITH. Who is he that OVERCOMES the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”
As if this weren’t enough, we see promises given to the OVERCOMERS in every one of the SEVEN CHURCHES of Revelation 2 and 3. By the INDWELLING POWER of the Holy Spirit, a true Church should OVERCOME in ALL things, even the ERRORS shown in some of those Revelation Churches! OVERCOMING equals VICTORY--an awesome quality shown by a Church of faith!
A CHURCH INDWELLED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL NOT BE IN THE TRIBULATION
What INDEED will happen DURING the TRIBULATION?
Let’s consider a FACT about that coming time of judgment--for the purpose of ANSWERING these questions: What happens to SAINTS during “JACOB’S TROUBLE” when God’s wrath hits the world? What HAPPENS to those who accept Jesus as Savior during those SEVEN FINAL YEARS?
“And it was GIVEN unto him (the Antichrist) to MAKE WAR with the SAINTS, and TO OVERCOME THEM…” Revelation 13:7. “I beheld, and the same horn (the Antichrist) made war with the saints and PREVAILED AGAINST THEM.” Daniel 7:21.
The TRIBULATION SAINTS are OVERCOME by evil forces! (We understand that the Antichrist ranks at the TOP LEVEL of EVIL--stemming from that man’s utterly wicked heart, AND from THE POWER invested in him by the devil!) Will that wicked one OVERCOME the Church? According to our PROMISES, and to the POSITION given to THE CHURCH in Jesus, HEAVEN FORBID! “The gates of hell shall NOT PREVAIL AGAINST us.” Matthew 16:18.
Tribulation saints CANNOT be the true Church!!! WHY?
Because, we, the true Church, are NOT PREVAILED AGAINST or OVERCOME BY the powers of the enemy! The Holy Spirit, Who INDWELLS us--also EMPOWERS us--(as I have already made abundantly clear). It’s so that we can gain the VICTORY over EVERY FOE (the world, the flesh and the devil)! We are EQUIPPED for that victory with potent weapons of warfare--and with our ARMOR, as listed in Ephesians 6:10-18. (PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO READ THAT SCRIPTURE).
Pay careful attention to this--We, the true Church ARE OVERCOMERS--as we draw upon (in confidence) the INDWELLING POWER of the Holy Spirit, and the Person of Jesus Christ!
BUT the TRIBULATION SAINTS are instead OVERCOME!
The Tribulation saints are OVERCOME by the Antichrist and by the devil who fuels that man! These people CANNOT be the same as the OVERCOMING CHURCH! Do you see it? Do you understand it? I repeat: The gates of hell will NEVER overcome the true Church. Matthew 16:18.
Therefore, the true Church, made ONE with Jesus Christ, and filled with the Holy Spirit, CANNOT be the saints of the Tribulation! The true Church will be TAKEN TO HEAVEN in a PRE-TRIB RAPTURE! There’s NO OTHER way to explain these details (and the apparent contradictions)!
Remember, God NEVER contradicts Himself--what He says in ONE PLACE, He will REPEAT in ANOTHER!
All praise be to Jesus! He will see to it that His blood-bought Church, Who are BORN AGAIN and full of the Holy Spirit, will NEVER be abandoned in the midst of the Tribulation. It just CANNOT happen that way and remain true to the Church’s promises.
THE TRUE CHURCH IS MADE ONE IN JESUS
Under this heading there are many headings and sub-headings. Allow me to offer a brief preview. (There’s so many wonderful gems to share, I’ll be splitting the information into several blogs.)
WE ARE MADE ONE WITH JESUS CHRIST; HE IS THE HEAD, WE ARE HIS BODY--WHICH IS OUR “POSITION” IN HIM, AND “WHO” WE ARE IN HIM. WE ARE TOTALLY IDENTIFIED WITH HIM, AND HE WITH US--AS WE ARE BORN AGAIN.
I’ll also ADD, that we, of the true Church are CHRIST’S AMBASSADORS; we are CITIZENS of HEAVEN--not of THIS WORLD, which is destined for judgment. We are SONS OF GOD, “adopted” into God’s HOUSEHOLD; we are THE CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN; and THE BRIDE of Jesus, who will BE MARRIED to Him in a HEAVENLY CEREMONY after we’re Raptured.
What does ALL this mean? Just reading through the LIST, categorizing our complete inheritance “in JESUS,” makes my heart jump for joy! But I get AHEAD of myself--allow me to backtrack and explain TWO very important categories: MADE ONE with Jesus AND Jesus is the HEAD; the Church is His BODY. (We’ll continue, category by category)
MADE ONE WITH JESUS
Jesus, speaking to His disciples (and PROPHESYING to the Church) in the gospel of John, said this--John 14:18-20.
“I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world sees Me no more; BUT YOU SEE ME: because I live, YOU SHALL LIVE ALSO. At that day, you shall KNOW that I am IN My Father, and you IN Me, and I IN you.”
Jesus LIVES inside us! This makes us ONE with Him!
He is UNITED to us by the power of His Spirit, and we are vitally LINKED with Him. As we RECOGNIZED what Jesus did at the cross for us (God’s GIFT in GRACE), we CALLED OUT to Him in FAITH, and PLACED our total RELIANCE upon Him. As we INVITED Jesus come to dwell in our hearts as Savior and Lord, we were BORN AGAIN, made into a NEW CREATURES--and the OLD passed away. We have Jesus IN us, and we are IN Him, a statement that refers to our ONENESS.
In Ephesians 5:30-32, we have a passage which compares the Church to the UNION of a man and woman in marriage.
“For we are MEMBERS of HIS BODY, of HIS FLESH, and of HIS BONES. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be JOINED unto his wife, and they two shall be ONE FLESH. This is a GREAT MYSTERY; but I speak concerning CHRIST AND THE CHURCH.”
Jesus and HIS CHURCH are MADE ONE, in the SAME manner as a man and a wife become ONE when they marry. HOW does Jesus and His Church become ONE?
We are UNITED in SPIRIT; we are IN AGREEMENT in goals and purposes; we share a PROFOUND INTIMACY; we are LINKED together in a STRONG BOND; we’re JOINED TOGETHER--Jesus and us. God calls it being ONE.
Yes, it’s also “A MYSTERY”--Christ and His Church (and very difficult to comprehend)! Elsewhere in the New Testament, the Church is called a MYSTERY which was ALWAYS in the mind of God, and which was NOT REVEALED in the Old Testament (in a direct “word for word” manner--but the Church IS seen in the Old Testament by TYPE or PROPHETIC PATTERN, and this must be SPIRITUALLY DISCERNED).
We see this recorded for us in Colossians 1:25-26. “Whereof I (Paul) am made a minister, according to the DISPENSATION of God which is given to me for you (Church), to fulfill the word of God; even THE MYSTERY which has been HID FROM AGES and FROM GENERATIONS, but is NOW made MANIFEST (revealed and shown) to His saints (of the Church).”
You see, God KNOWS EVERYTHING. Every SMALL DETAIL of His GREAT PLAN OF SALVATION was ACCOMPLISHED in DISPENSATIONS (which is defined as THE METHOD of His ADMINISTRATION--the VARIOUS WAYS in which He dealt with mankind THROUGH THE MILLENNIA). God KNEW ALL THIS from the very beginning to the end.
To sum up this section: What does being made ONE with Jesus have to do with a Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church?
Since we are ONE with Him, united together--likened to a man and a wife--Jesus will NOT place a PART of Himself (or His Beloved) into that time when God will pour out judgments, punishments and wrath upon the wicked. HE WILL NOT DO IT! By His blood, He purchased us, and we are His, sealed by the Holy Spirit, and PROMISED to be taken to our mansions in God’s house in heaven, as Jesus comes to collect His Bride. Hallelujah!
For Jesus to place His Church, ONE with Himself, into the time of The Tribulation, would be, for Him, like TAKING God’s judgments AGAIN upon Himself (and since those of us, made ONE with Him, are a VITAL PART of Himself, He would suffer there, too).
It will NOT happen that way! Scripture clearly declares that Jesus SAVED us (delivered us, rescued us) from THE WRATH TO COME. It’s recorded in 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10.
“…and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and TO WAIT for His Son from heaven, Who He raised from the dead, EVEN JESUS, Who DELIVERED US from THE WRATH to come.”
When we have believed in Jesus, and have received Him as Lord of our lives, we are ONE with Him, and NO longer under the vengeance of God! We’re set free from that! “Who the Son has set free, is free indeed!” John 8:36.
JESUS IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH--AND THE CHURCH IS HIS BODY
Being ONE with Jesus, vitally linked and united with Him, we, the true Church, are known as HIS BODY, while He is the HEAD.
What can be ANY CLOSER than PARTS OF A BODY? Plus, THE BODY “cannot” function without THE HEAD. This not only SHOWS ONENESS, but another powerful truth! Let’s look at a few more scriptures.
The epistle of Ephesians is full of the CHURCH’S POSITION in Jesus Christ. We’re told how BLESSED we are “with all spiritual blessings IN HEAVENLY (spiritual) places in Christ.” We’re assured that we were CHOSEN in Him BEFORE the foundations of the world, to BE HOLY (set apart for Him), and WITHOUT BLAME before Him in love. We’re comforted to know that we are “ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED.” I could go on and on, but I don’t want to quote the whole book!
In Ephesians 1:22-23, we see where Jesus is called THE HEAD, while we, the Church, are HIS BODY.
“And (God) has put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be THE HEAD over ALL things TO THE CHURCH, which is HIS BODY, the FULLNESS of Him that FILLS all in all.”
Wow! THAT’S POTENT! But how often do we BELIEVE this about ourselves?
Jesus is HEAD over ALL to the Church! Since we are ONE with Him, vitally linked to His LIFE inside us by the Spirit, His HEADSHIP flows from heaven to us, and we are enabled to REIGN with Him in this life--and DO as He directs us. (Romans 5:17--a scripture I’ll return to later in this series.)
In addition, Jesus has put ALL things under His FEET. Jesus is indeed THE HEAD of the Church, but WHERE are His feet? They’re on THE EARTH, as a part of HIS BODY!
This is why we’re told elsewhere that we can TRAMPLE upon the enemy (devils), and be successful. We see it in Luke 10:19 where Jesus told His followers--“Behold, I give unto you power to TREAD on serpents and scorpions, and over ALL the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this, rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.”
What’s shown here is yet another example of OVERCOMING POWER, which comes to us though Jesus by the Holy Spirit. He gives us the ability to RESTRAIN the works of the evil one. This, again, is a STRONG REASON why such a SPIRIT-FILLED CHURCH cannot be in the Tribulation!
Back to Jesus as the HEAD and the Church as His BODY. Let’s look at Colossians 1:18.
“And He (Jesus) is HEAD of the BODY, the Church: Who is the beginning, the FIRSTBORN from the dead; that in ALL things He might have the preeminence.”
Even as the CHURCH (who is Christ’s BODY on earth) does EXPLOITS through His NAME and POWER, Jesus remains THE ONE Who has the PREEMINENCE, for He is our HEAD. Jesus is ALWAYS THE ONE Who is GLORIFIED!
I’ll show you another scripture which describes the Church as the BODY OF CHRIST. Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 12:12-14.
“For as THE BODY is ONE, and has MANY MEMBERS, and ALL the MEMBERS of that ONE BODY, being many, are ONE BODY: so also IS CHRIST. For by ONE SPIRIT are we ALL BAPTIZED into ONE BODY, whether we be Jews (who accept Jesus during the Church age) or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free, and have been ALL made to drink into ONE SPIRIT, for the BODY is not one member, but MANY.”
1 Corinthians 12 goes on to describe gifts, callings and functions which are within the MANY MEMBERS of the BODY OF CHRIST in the Church. Jesus as THE HEAD directs the ministry, while the BODY, the Church, as a whole, performs what Jesus says. Simple as that!
1 Corinthians 12:27 sums it up--“Now you are THE BODY OF CHRIST, and MEMBERS in particular.”
(I’ll also add this thought: Since the END TIMES have produced a Church in apostasy--characterized by Laodecia in Revelation 3--we do NOT see much evidence of a victorious Church which operates in the overcoming power that believers displayed soon after PENTECOST. This does NOT mean that Christians are NO LONGER ABLE to operate the way the Bible teaches! IF we have confidence (faith) that WHAT the Bible says is TRUE, then we can witness THE POWER of Jesus made manifest in our lives, and in the Church, and Jesus will be glorified. Many have lost sight of what Jesus gave to His true Church because TRUTH has been so watered down by RELIGION.)
To sum up this section: What does Jesus being THE HEAD of the Church (who is HIS BODY) have to do with the Pre-Tribulation Rapture?
First of all, there’s a FALSE TEACHING which claims that the Rapture will be PARTIAL --that “only those” who are EXPECTING a Pre-Trib Rapture, plus “only those” who are asking for forgiveness and walking in a PURIFIED STATE, plus “only those” who are EXERCISING THEIR FAITH, will be ready, and therefore, ONLY THOSE will be Raptured, Pre-Tribulation. The rest will need to work out their shortcomings within the Tribulation. THIS IS SO FALSE!
WHEN Christ comes to gather His Church to Himself in the air, WILL He LEAVE BEHIND a toe, or a little finger, or a knee? Will part of His BLOOD-BOUGHT ONES be thrown into the terrible Tribulation? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
If a TRUE CHRISTIAN (who has trusted Jesus to SAVE him) is NOT “expecting” a PRE-TRIB RAPTURE at all, or is CAUGHT “committing a sin” at the TIME of the RAPTURE-- then that Christian will STILL BE WITH Jesus. Why?
Jesus’ BLOOD is SUFFICIENT to cover sin, ALL our sin--past, present and future. The one caught in a state of obeying the flesh nature (and sinning) may LOSE a REWARD at the throne of God, but since that person TRUSTS in the blood of Jesus to save him, he will INDEED be included in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. The one who does NOT believe in a Rapture (but is BORN-AGAIN) will INDEED be included in the Pre-Trib Rapture (perhaps surprised, but going up for sure!). There’s NO such thing as a PARTIAL RAPTURE of the Church!
The same kind of ANALOGY can be applied to the idea of the Church, the BODY of Christ, being placed into the Tribulation. Will Jesus, as THE HEAD, allow HIS BODY--His neck, arms, legs, torso, and those trampling feet--to be SEVERED FROM HIM and cast into that time when God will pour out His VENGEANCE upon those who ignored or rejected Him?. ABSOLUTELY NOT!
The true Church has ACCEPTED God’s GIFT of His Only Begotten Son, and are BORN-AGAIN. God will NOT punish these FAITHFUL ONES! Jesus will NOT suffer again the anger of God upon HIS BODY (through those linked to Him as ONE).
Consider this--Jesus, as HEAD of His BODY, in heaven, will rip the seals off the scroll! To allow the anger of God to fall upon His BODY (which is the true Church) would be THE SAME as Jesus PUNISHING a part of HIMSELF!
Can you picture the UTTER FOOLISHNESS of that idea? Every time somebody says that the Church will be IN the Tribulation, I see JESUS there, too--because Jesus is ONE with His Church!
Read this carefully! Since Jesus is so closely linked, ONE with His Church, I see Him as being JUDGED AGAIN--as ONE with His Church (in the Tribulation)--and this time, Jesus SCOURGES His OWN BODY--because His Body is the Church that’s IN that Tribulation! I see Jesus RIP off the SEALS at God’s throne, AND PUNISH HIMSELF--He, Who LIVES in us! (PLEASE MAKE NOTE--The seven seals on the scroll in Revelation 6 are the WRATH OF THE LAMB--and with the Church on earth to experience those seal judgments, Jesus puts HIMSELF--as ONE with us-- under the WRATH OF HIMSELF.) Can you see the IMPOSSIBILITY of ALL this? I hope you do.
I pray that illustration opens many eyes. JESUS DIED TO REDEEM HIS BLOOD-BOUGHT ONES, and as we are BORN AGAIN and made ONE with Him, we will NEVER be in the Tribulation. Do you see it?
CHRIST’S AMBASSADORS AND SONS OF GOD IN HIS HOUSEHOLD
CHURCH--WE ARE THE “AMBASSADORS OF CHRIST,” “SONS OF GOD,” “THE HOUSEHOLD OF GOD,” “ADOPTED” ONES, “CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN,” whose “CITIZENSHIP” is HEAVEN, and NOT of this earth. We are TRANSLATED into the KINGDOM of God’s DEAR SON, and MADE KINGS AND PRIESTS in CHRIST’S KINGDOM forever.
If that statement OVERWHELMS, I meant it to be that way!
This heading is LONG and POTENT, because I needed to place ALL these concepts together, in ONE UNIT, because they intertwine and blend.
To those of us who PERSONALLY KNOW Jesus, this is in an INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP. I ask a question to those of us who have accepted Him as our personal SAVIOR and LORD: Do we THINK of ourselves as included in the ABOVE POSITIONS? What we see here is a POWERFUL TRUTH, and we do well to FAMILIARIZE ourselves with WHAT the Bible declares ABOUT us. These things are indeed part of our POSITION in Christ!
Now, after that brief explanation, let’s consider these things under separate headings.
AMBASSADORS OF CHRIST
Before I quote the scriptures which show the Church as AMBASSADORS of Jesus, I’ll DEFINE the word.
In Strong’s Concordance, an AMBASSADOR is a REPRESENTATIVE of Jesus and of HIS GOSPEL, also called a PREACHER. In the dictionary, the AMBASSADOR is an ACCREDITED DIPLOMATIC AGENT of the HIGHEST RANK. Ambassadors are appointed by THE GOVERNMENT to serve in a foreign country--to be a spokesperson in the INTERESTS of their HOME COUNTRY. AMBASSADORS live in the country to which they are sent.
Now, let’s see how that applies to the Church of Jesus Christ. Let’s first look at Ephesians 6:19-20.
“And (pray) for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to MAKE KNOWN the MYSTERY of the GOSPEL, for which I am an AMBASSADOR in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly as I ought to speak.”
The Apostle Paul said he was an AMBASSADOR. An ambassador of what? The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ! We also know that Paul was CALLED and SENT by the “direct” INTERVENTION of Jesus.
Where was Paul sent? To THE GENTILES, to preach the MYSTERY of the GOSPEL. Why was the GOSPEL called a MYSTERY? Because no one in Old Testament times understood that God would turn His attention to THE GENTILES, to “CALL-OUT” a people for His name--who’d become the Church. We know that Paul preached and taught GOD’S WORD by the AUTHORITY of Jesus, Who COMMISSIONED him--so Paul was a REPRESENTATIVE of Jesus to the Gentiles.
That was Paul. What about the WHOLE CHURCH? Let’s look at 2 Corinthians 5:19-20.
“To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and has COMMISSIONED UNTO US the WORD OF RECONCILIATION. Now then WE ARE AMBASSADORS for Christ...”
AS Paul was an AMBASSADOR of Christ, so we, the ENTIRE CHURCH, are likewise REPRESENTATIVES of Jesus--who dwell on this earth in Jesus’ stead. We are COMMISSIONED to share the GOSPEL. And as we do so, we’re SENT OUT, by Jesus’ GOVERNMENT at the throne of God, to serve the INTERESTS of the KINGDOM OF HEAVEN in this FOREIGN place on the earth, in which we dwell. (More about our TRUE CITIZENSHIP will be discussed later.)
How does this teaching apply to the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church?
When wars and upheavals threaten THE SAFETY of chosen AMBASSADORS in foreign countries, a GOVERNMENT calls the AMBASSADORS home!
Likewise, when the time of God’s wrath is to be poured out on the FOREIGN LAND (the WHOLE WORLD), the AMBASSADORS for Jesus will be CALLED HOME by a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.
SONS OF GOD
In John 1:11-13, the Apostle John wrote, concerning His own people, the Jewish nation of Israel. He saw how HIS OWN would REJECT Jesus, and from that understanding, John spoke concerning ANOTHER GROUP OF PEOPLE, foreordained by God, the Church. He called the Church “the sons of God.”
John 1:11-13--“He (Jesus) came to His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as RECEIVED Him, to THEM He GAVE the power to BECOME SONS OF GOD, even them that BELIEVE on His name.”
To become a “son of God,” we MUST BELIEVE upon the name of Jesus!
The Apostle Paul also had something to say about the Church as “the sons of God.” Let’s look at Philippians 2:15.
“That you might be blameless and harmless, THE SONS OF GOD, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”
As “sons of God,” (or “daughters” of God--see the notation BELOW) we, the Church, are to be A LIGHT in the middle of a dark and wicked world. The LIGHT is NOT our own, but the LIGHT of Jesus Who lives INSIDE us.
(A BRIEF NOTATION about INCLUDING the idea of “daughters” when THE SCRIPTURE so clearly declares “SONS.”--If MEN in the Church are “true sons” of God, “common reasoning” suggests that WOMEN in the Church are God’s “daughters.” BUT, let’s consider ANOTHER explanation--We, in the Church, are called the BODY OF CHRIST, so therefore, ALL of us are viewed as SONS. There’s NO DIFFERENCE between male and female IN THE CHURCH, since we’re “ALL ONE in Christ Jesus.” See Galatians 3:28.)
There’s more. In John’s first epistle, we see that being “sons of God” is a reflection of God’s LOVE--which is bestowed upon us. John also tells us that AS the world did NOT recognize Who Jesus was, so also, the world will NOT recognize who we are either. Let’s look at 1 John 3:1-2.
“Beloved, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called THE SONS OF GOD: therefore the world knows us not, because it knew Him not. Beloved, NOW we are THE SONS OF GOD, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.”
This passage ends by looking FORWARD to “the appearing” of Jesus. When Jesus APPEARS in the Pre-Trib Rapture, He will ONLY “appear” to the TRUE CHURCH. He will APPEAR in the sky by descending into the air in the clouds. When Jesus APPEARS, then WE SHALL BE LIKE HIM. We’ll be LIKE Him AT THAT TIME in GLORIFIED bodies --resurrected from the dead AND translated (while ALIVE), which means “instantly changed.” At THIS TIME we shall SEE Him as He truly is. (I believe that Jesus looks THE SAME as described in Revelation 1:12-17. WHICH IS GLORIOUS AND AWESOME!)
SONS OF GOD IN THE HOUSEHOLD OF GOD
The next scripture not only DECLARES the Church as “sons of God” but includes the “Spirit of ADOPTION,” and how with that Spirit, we cry “Abba, Father.”
Not only are we ADOPTED into God’s family by the work of Jesus, AND have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but we are made HEIRS--HEIRS OF GOD and JOINT-HEIRS with Jesus. These are most-powerful truths. Let’s look at Romans 8:14-17.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are THE SONS OF GOD. For you have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but you have received THE SPIRIT OF ADOPTION, whereby we cry, ABBA, FATHER. The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirits, that we are THE CHILDREN OF GOD. And if CHILDREN, then HEIRS; HEIRS OF GOD, and JOINT-HEIRS WITH CHRIST; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may also be gloried together.”
Is the suffering, mentioned in that passage, THE SAME as what will happen in the Tribulation” ABSOLUTELY NOT!
Look at Romans 8:18. It tells us WHEN the SUFFERING for Christ happens!
“For I reckon that the SUFFERINGS of THIS PRESENT TIME are not worthy to be compared with THE GLORY which SHALL be REVEALED in us.”
The SUFFERING is THE SAME as that which has plagued the Church ALL through its LONG HISTORY--in THIS PRESENT TIME! Anytime we see a SUFFERING Church, it involves THIS PRESENT AGE--the TIME when the Church ministers for Jesus in THIS PRESENT WORLD.
WHEN is the NEXT WORLD system?
We see it mentioned in scripture as THE DAY OF THE LORD, as THE DAYS OF VENGEANCE OF OUR GOD, as the TIME OF JACOB’S (Israel’s) TROUBLE, and as the 70TH WEEK prophesied by Daniel. In other words, it’s “the Tribulation” (which will last seven years) as set up by Daniel’s timetable.
The Church WILL NOT SUFFER during that horrible time of God’s judgment. YET the Church WILL SUFFER as long as it ministers for Christ in THIS PRESENT CHURCH AGE. Why? Because, since the world HATED JESUS, it will also HATE us!
Romans goes on to say that WHAT we SUFFER in THIS PRESENT TIME, is NOT WORTHY to be compared with THE GLORY we’ll receive when we and Jesus are GLORIFIED TOGETHER. This is referring to THAT TIME when Jesus descends to CALL us to Himself in the Pre-Trib Rapture.
When will THE GLORY that’s to be “revealed in us” happen?
Let’s read Colossians 3:4--“When Christ, Who is our LIFE, shall APPEAR, then we shall APPEAR WITH HIM in glory.”
Do you see it? We have a CLEAR REFERENCE to the Rapture of the Church! When Jesus, Who is our LIFE, shall APPEAR (in the Rapture), THEN we WILL APPEAR WITH HIM IN GLORY! We’ll receive our GLORIFIED BODIES at that time.
Let’s return Romans 8, and pick up another detail--we, the Church, as HEIRS of God.
Because we are the “sons of God” and “the children of God” who say “Abba, Father,” God gives us an INHERITANCE. What is THAT INHERITANCE? It’s the very SAME things that Jesus INHERITED from His Father when He ascended to God’s right hand!
How can we know that? Because Romans DECLARES that we, the Church, are JOINT-HEIRS with Jesus!
What is that INHERITANCE?
I suggest you study these scriptures: Ephesians 1:10-12. Ephesians 1:18-23. Ephesians 2:4-6. Ephesians 3:4-6. Ephesians 3:9-12. These are POTENT promises of what the Church POSSESSES in Jesus. (I give you some homework. GRIN. Be sure to look up these passages and DISCOVER what they show!)
HOLY SPIRIT TEMPLES AND ADOPTION AS GOD’S SONS
THE CHURCH AS GOD’S BUILDING, A TEMPLE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
Back to the idea of the Church as “sons of God” in the “HOUSEHOLD OF GOD.” Let’s look at Ephesians 2:18-22.
“For through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but FELLOWCITIZENS with the saints, and OF THE HOUSEHOLD OF GOD; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the CHIEF CONRNERSTONE; in Whom ALL the BUILDING, framed together, grows unto a HOLY TEMPLE in the Lord.”
In this passage, we see the TRUE CHURCH as THE HOUSEHOLD OF GOD, which is another way of saying that we are “sons of God” and “children of God” through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. We saints (in Christ’s Church) are FELLOWCITIZENS in God’s HOUSE.
Where is God’s HOUSE? Of course, the home of our Father God is IN HEAVEN. (I’ll show more about the Church’s TRUE CITIZENSHIP in a later section.)
Right now, I want us to see that Jesus is the CHIEF CORNERSTONE in a BUILDING which is FRAMED TOGETHER, and grows into a HOLY TEMPLE in the Lord. What we see is NOT A NATURAL BUILDING. It’s NOT some EARTHLY CATHEDRAL or a LOG CHURCH IN THE WILDWOOD. The BUILDING is a HOLY TEMPLE unto the Lord, NOT made of wood, timbers, masonry or stained glass windows.
Have you heard “the saying” that we do NOT go to Church?--Instead THE CHURCH goes to local meeting place?
We, as INDIVIDUAL MEMBERS of Christ’s BODY, are “THE CHURCH.” It’s NOT some BUILDING handcrafted by men. We’re knitted and bonded together in the Spirit, and THE CHURCH is a LIVING ORGANISM (and we have a PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP with Jesus). The “true Church” is NOT some “special denomination” or “ORGANIZATION” or touted “RELIGION.”
Other scripture describes us as LIVING STONES, placed together, to form the Church. Our bodies are also referred to as TEMPLES of the Holy Spirit.
ADOPTED INTO GOD’S FAMILY
Another facet found in the Church’s POSITION in Jesus Christ is that we have the ADOPTION OF SONS. What does this mean? Let’s look at Galatians 4:4-6.
“But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might RECEIVE the ADOPTION OF SONS. And because you are SONS, God has sent forth the Spirit of HIS SON into your hearts, crying, ABBA, FATHER.”
We RECEIVE the ADOPTION OF SONS.
The ADOPTION is defined as this--“placing into position as a son.” This is IMMEDIATE KINSHIP. We’re taken into God’s FAMILY, where we become the Father’s SONS (or daughters), and we’re SIBLINGS to Jesus (becoming JOINT-HEIRS with Him)! We’re placed into GOD’S IMMEDIATE FAMILY--a part of His HOUSEHOLD!
We RECEIVE our POSITION in God’s household by LEGAL MEASURES. The LEGAL ACTION which brings us into God’s House as His sons (or daughters) is the PURCHASE PRICE of the transaction, which Jesus attained for us by His own blood.
Let’s look at more insight from Ephesians 1:3-7.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with ALL SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS in HEAVENLY PLACES in Christ: according as He has CHOSEN us in Him BEFORE the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: having predestined us unto THE ADOPTION OF CHILDREN by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of HIS WILL, to the praise of the glory of HIS GRACE, wherein He has MADE us ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED. In Whom we have REDEMPTION through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of HIS GRACE.”
As members of God’s IMMEDIATE family, (through Jesus), we have EXCEEDING spiritual blessings in HEAVENLY PLACES. We’re GIVEN so much THROUGH our POSITION in Christ!--Overcoming power through the indwelling Holy Spirit. The DELEGATED AUTHORITY of Jesus--as His ambassadors. The MIGHT of the NAME of Jesus. The power of prayer: binding, loosing, setting captives free through works of Jesus that flow in and through us! The ministry of healing and compassion. The operation of the LOVE of God.
These are SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS, and they FLOW to us from HEAVENLY PLACES, where Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father. We are VITALLY LINKED to Him, made ONE with Him, and He MINISTERS “through us” to the world. (Remember, we DO NOTHING in our own selves. Any ministry, any good works, are the PRODUCT of Jesus in our lives, and the EVIDENCE of His LIFE, not ours!)
We see that we have been PREDESTINED by God unto the ADOPTION OF CHILDREN.
TAKE NOTE--Predestination is NOT God "DECIDING" who WILL and who WILL NOT be saved (like some preachers insist). Predestined simply means that God KNOWS BEFOREHAND who WILL and who WILL NOT “accept” His offer of salvation, because God KNOWS ALL THINGS--the BEGINNING and THE END, and EVERY DETAIL in between!
We have the ADOPTION as God’s CHILDREN, and are placed into His household, by WHAT Jesus Christ did for us. We’re no longer under God’s judgment upon sin, but we’ve become ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED.
ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED! This phrase is the most beautiful declaration of HOW God NOW sees us. Because we’ve BELIEVED and RECEIVED what Jesus did for us at the cross, God now says: WE ARE ACCEPTED. And this ACCEPTANCE is IN His BELOVED. Jesus is God’s BELOVED, and it’s IN Jesus that we find our ACCEPTANCE with God. Powerful revelation!
WHAT DOES BEING “SONS OF GOD” HAVE TO DO WITH A PRE-TRIB RAPTURE?
If you, as a parent, knew a horrible catastrophe was about TO DESTROY all you hold dear, would you SEND your CHILDREN right into the middle of it--so they can learn a lesson? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
If you’re hurt and upset that your son and daughter talked back to you, would you tie them onto a railroad track in front of an incoming train? HEAVEN FORBID!
If your son or daughter disobeyed your curfew, would you cast them into a den of ravenous lions? NO WAY!
I offer these OUTRAGEOUS examples to show that as a human parent, we’d NEVER enact such drastic measures upon our CHILDREN--even if they upset us, disobeyed us, or hurt our feelings. They’re OUR FAMILY, and they’re PRECIOUS to us. We LOVE our children, wish the BEST for them, and will do everything we can to HELP them. We’d DEFEND them with our very lives!
Can we expect ANYTHING LESS from God, Who LOVES with a capacity FAR ABOVE our own human frailties?
Is God going to cast His “sons,” members of His OWN HOUSEHOLD, made ONE with Jesus (by accepting His salvation) into that terrible time of wrath and vengeance (that’s coming) upon those who ignored or refused His salvation? NO!
Is God going to consider His “blood-bought household” as DESERVING of all the PUNISHMENT reserved for His enemies? NO!
Is God going to consider His “sons” (adopted as IMMEDIATE KIN to Jesus) as WORTHY to INCUR His abandonment? NO!
Is God going to throw out His “sons” (and reject them) so the Antichrist can trample and abuse them? ABSOLUTELY NOT!
God will NEVER toss the true Church, bought and paid for by the blood of Jesus, into a judgment which is APPOINTED upon Israel, and upon the world, for their sin of ignoring or rejecting the gift of Jesus Christ. This simply WILL NOT happen!
If God did this, He would be committing “child abuse” of the highest degree!
We, true Church, are made the “sons of God” through Jesus’ work, which is the high cost of His shed blood. God will NOT turn around and throw us to the wolves, the bullies, the demon-possessed, so that we can be severely beaten by them. We’ll NOT do that to our OWN children--so, most assuredly, God will NOT do that to His ADOPTED SONS--now KIN of Jesus, and JOINT-HEIRS with Him!
We, true Church, will NOT INHERIT the judgments of God upon the wicked. Instead, we INHERIT all that God has given Jesus! That’s what it means to be His JOINT-HEIRS.
Jesus gets to sit at God’s right hand. We’ll be united with Jesus at God’s right hand in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture.
Jesus gets power and dominion, the right to rule and reign over His Kingdom on earth. We rule and reign WITH Jesus.
That’s our destiny--and it’s NOT to receive a SMACKING DOWN in the hour of God’s wrath! Simple as that!
THE CHURCH AS FIRSTFRUITS
PATTERNS IN THE JEWISH FEASTS
In looking at the FEASTS of the Lord, which were established for Israel to follow, we can glean important insight for the Church. Why? Because it’s Jesus, Himself, and the work of His ministry, that’s prophesied within those feasts.
What are the feasts? We find them recorded in Leviticus 23, and I suggest that you familiarize yourself with them.
I’ll LIST the feasts, but will NOT do any extensive teaching upon them, at this point. In this series, my purpose is to focus upon THE FIRSTFRUITS.
A LIST OF THE FEASTS: The first three were fulfilled by the ministry of Jesus in His First Coming--Passover, Unleavened Bread and Firstfruits. The fourth feast is Pentecost--fulfilled when the Holy Spirit fell upon the 120 JEWS who BIRTHED the Church. The last three feasts are Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles--yet to be fulfilled in the ministry of Jesus’ Second Coming.
What is FIRSTFRUITS? It occurred THREE DAYS after the crucifixion of Jesus. On the morning of FIRSTFRUITS, Jesus ROSE from the dead, and become the FIRSTFRUITS of ALL who will participate in the FIRST RESURRECTION.
THE CHURCH AS FIRSTFRUITS
To begin our look at FIRSTFRUITS, and HOW it pertains to the Church, let’s read Romans 8:22-23.
“For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now. And not only they (the creation), but ourselves also, which have THE FIRSTFRUITS of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, WAITING for the ADOPTION, to wit, the REDEMPTION OF OUR BODY.”
This passage focuses upon an earth under the turmoil of pain and death--the result of man’s fall into sin. Sin is so SERIOUS, that it brought about ALL the trouble and woe which we see in the current world system. People often ask--“Why does God allow bad weather, earthquakes and other tragedies? Why does God allow sickness and suffering?”
The truth is that God did NOT ALLOW such things--instead they’re the OUTCOME of sin entering His perfect creation. From the time of Adam’s sin, God’s been in the process of restoring His creation back to what it was at the very beginning--and that restoration COMES through the ministry of Jesus.
We, true Church, have THE FIRSTFRUITS of the Spirit. What does that mean? We’re the UNIQUE BODY of believers in whom the Holy Spirit resides. No other people of God can claim to have the Holy Spirit living inside them! That’s why our POSITION in Jesus is so UNIQUE! We’re the FIRST of God’s people to be INDWELLED by the Holy Spirit, so therefore we’re called “THE FIRSTFRUITS of the Spirit.”
But even with the Spirit dwelling within, we groan, having to live in an unrestored creation, and needing to exist within bodies where our sin nature WARS with the Spirit. Therefore, we wait for the ADOPTION, meaning this, the REDEMPTION OF OUR BODIES.
The ADOPTION, in this case, points to that time when we’ll be taken to the ACTUAL PRESENCE of God in heaven. (While we ALREADY POSSESS the ADOPTION as “God’s sons,” there is YET COMING that TIME when we’ll actually be inside His HOUSE, at the throne of God in heaven--and having glorified bodies that no longer pull us toward sin!) Hallelujah!
When we proceed to be with God in heaven (as Jesus descends into the air in the clouds to call us up), we’ll RECEIVE the REDEMPTION OF OUR BODIES. This means that our mortal flesh will be transformed into GLORIFIED BODIES, like the BODY which Jesus now has. Romans 8:22-23 LOOKS FORWARD to what will happen to the Church at the time of our Pre-Tribulation Rapture!
A “SERIES” OF RESURRECTIONS ARE REVEALED IN SCRIPTURE, STARTING WITH CHRIST “THE FIRSTFRUITS”
There’s more about FIRSTFRUITS. Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 15:20-23, plus the first phrase of verse 24.
“But NOW is Christ risen from the dead, and BECOME THE FIRSTFRUITS of them that slept (who have died), for since by man came death, by Man (Jesus) came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam ALL die, 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. THEN COMES THE END”--(when Jesus will WREST the earth AWAY from His enemies--and ESTABLISH His MILLENNIAL KINGDOM).
In this passage, we see THE ORDER of what happens in the FIRST RESURRECTION!
The FIRST RESURRECTION, unto eternal life, does NOT occur in one fell swoop. There’s a TIMELINE established here, and a SPECIFIC ORDER.
The FIRST “Man” to be RESURRECTED from the dead (and remain alive forevermore in a glorified body) is Jesus. He is THE FIRSTFRUITS, which was fulfilled upon the VERY DAY of the Feast FIRSTFRUITS.
When Jesus rose from the dead, He also resurrected A FEW Old Testament saints, who fulfilled a DETAIL of THE FEAST OF FIRSTFRUITS. These saints became A SHEAF of the WAVE OFFERING (Leviticus 23:10-11), which Jesus waved before the Father soon AFTER His Resurrection. In Matthew 27:52-53, we read that graves were opened and MANY bodies (but NOT all) of the (Old Testament) saints arose AFTER Jesus’ resurrection. This fulfilled the FEAST of FIRSTFRUITS down to EVERY little detail--even the “small SHEAF” of “the full harvest” which will be completed later!
NEXT in line to receive a RESURECTION/RAPTURE are “they that are Christ’s at His coming” (the true Church).
AND, I want you to be aware of the FINAL PHRASE “right now”--“THEN COMES THE END.” AFTER the RESURRECTION/RAPTURE of the true Church, END TIME PROPHECIES will happen (the Tribulation period, Antichrist, end time wars, plagues, troubles, scary sights and signs from heaven)! All those END TIME prophecies will happen as Jesus judges the enemies and cleanses the earth--in preparation to establish His Millennial Kingdom.
Now, let’s go back and look at the phrase--“THEY that are Christ’s at HIS COMING”:
In the Resurrection/Rapture of the true Church, those who died (while believing in Jesus) during THE CHURCH AGE will be raised from the dead. PLUS those of us who REMAIN and ARE ALIVE at that COMING/APPEARING of Jesus will be instantly TRANSLATED (removed from earth to heaven without passing through usual death) in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture. John 14:2-3. 1 Corinthians 15:51-53. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. 2 Thessalonians 2:6-8. Isaiah 26:17-21. Zephaniah 2:2-3. Malachi 3:17-18.
We, the true Church, are the SECOND STAGE of the FIRST RESURRECTION--“They that ARE Christ’s at His coming.” 1 Corinthians 15:23.
THEN COMES THE END. That’s WHEN God will build up and restore Israel--doing so by SHOWING them THE FACT that Jesus was truly their Messiah. Acts 15:14-16. Romans 11:25-26. Israel will repent of their sin of rejecting Jesus DURING the “seven year Tribulation.” Zechariah 12:10.
AFTER the Tribulation, the THIRD STAGE of the FIRST RESURRECTION will arrive.
At that time, the martyred saints of the Tribulation will be raised from the dead. Revelation 20:4-5. Also, at the END of the Tribulation, the REMAINING Old Testament saints (who were NOT part of the FIRSTFRUITS wave offering) will be raised. Job 19:25-26. (Job declared that WHEN his Redeemer shall STAND at the latter day ON the earth, THEN he shall be resurrected, and IN HIS FLESH--a glorified body--he’d see God. Jesus will STAND ON THE EARTH in His Kingdom AFTER the seven-year Tribulation.)
In this scriptural pattern (from 1 Corinthians 15:20-23) is the OBVIOUS TRUTH! The true Church will be Raptured BEFORE the events of the Tribulation! Later, in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, the ACTUAL RAPTURE is described! This MAINTAINS the CONTEXT of the previous verses in 1 Corinthians 15.
JESUS, FIRSTBORN FROM THE DEAD--AND HIS CHURCH
Let’s look at Colossians 1:18.
“And He (Jesus) is the HEAD of the BODY, the CHURCH: Who is the beginning, the FIRSTBORN from the dead; that in ALL things He might have preeminence.”
This is another scripture which SHOWS Jesus as the FIRSTBORN (first resurrected in a glorified body) from the dead. He, of course, fulfilled the Feast of FIRSTFRUITS. But, there’s ADDED insight--when we factor in the Church (as ONE with Him).
Jesus is the HEAD of His BODY, who is the CHURCH. Jesus rose from the dead, fulfilling FIRSTFRUITS. So also, we, true Church, are FIRSTFRUITS of the Spirit, the FIRST of God’s people who are INDWELLED by the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:23. And being ONE (vitally linked WITH JESUS in His BODY), we SHARE with Him the attribute of being AMONG the FIRSTBORN from the dead to receive glorified bodies! That means our Resurrection/Rapture MUST come BEFORE the end--AFTER WHICH the Tribulation saints (and the Old Testament saints) receive their resurrection. Do you see how this all ties in? I hope so.
Let’s consider another scripture--James 1:16-18.
“Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with Whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of His OWN WILL begat He US with the WORD OF TRUTH, that we should be a kind of FIRSTFRUITS of His creatures.”
James clearly declares that we, true Church, will be a FIRSTFRUITS of His (God’s) creatures. As Jesus fulfilled the FEAST of FIRSTFRUITS, so we, too, Church, as His BODY, made ONE with Him, are included in that FIRSTFRUITS category. We receive a Resurrection/Rapture BEFORE the others--who must WAIT until AFTER Jesus sets His feet on the earth AFTER the terrible events of the Tribulation.
We also see, in that passage from James, that God has NO VARIABLENESS and NO SHADOW OF TURNING. What God has declared in ONE PLACE in scripture, He’ll REPEAT and REINFORCE in ANOTHER PLACE of scripture. We must do our thorough and in-depth homework in establishing doctrines--teaching that which SHOWS NO CONTRADICTIONS with other portions of scripture.
I state EMPHATICALLY and BOLDLY my conclusion. I’ve discovered how Mid-Trib, Post-Trib, Partial-Trib and Pre-Wrath INTERPRETATIONS of the Rapture ALL contain DISCREPANCIES--when compared with other scriptures. ONLY the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church remains HARMONIOUS with what God has declared elsewhere.
That says something to us, Church! The Pre-Tribulation Rapture is the TRUE interpretation.
However, DON’T just TAKE my word for this conclusion. Research the Word for yourselves, comparing scripture to scripture--rightly dividing the word of truth.
Jesus died to GIVE us so much! And for that, we worship Him forever and forever.
We “wait for His Son FROM HEAVEN, Whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus, which DELIVERED us from the wrath to come.” 1 Thessalonians 1:10.
“So Christ was offered to bear the sins of many; and UNTO THEM that LOOK FOR HIM shall He APPEAR a second time WITHOUT SIN unto salvation.” Hebrews 9:28.
CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN
THE CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN, CITIZENS OF HEAVEN, TRANSLATED INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD’S DEAR SON.
Under this heading, we’ll discover even more about the true Church’s UNIQUE POSITION in Jesus. (As I continue this series, I pray that you’re being edified and encouraged. I also want to remind all of us that we do NOT become boastful in all the wondrous GIFTINGS that Jesus died to GIVE us. Instead, we WORSHIP Him--that He LOVED such “wretches” with such a MIGHTY LOVE, that He willingly lay down His LIFE for us. And because of HIM we’re set free from the STRANGLEHOLD of sin and DARKNESS, so that we become HIS CHILDREN in THE LIGHT. As I’ve labored to write this series, I find my WORSHIP LEVEL rising. I pray reading it does the same for you!)
THE CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN
Let’s consider “the Church of the firstborn”--found in Hebrews 12:22-24.
“But you are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the CITY OF THE LIVING GOD, the HEAVENLY JERUSALEM, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the GENERAL ASSEMBLY and CHURCH of THE FIRSTBORN, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the SPIRITS of JUST MEN made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the NEW COVENANT, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks of better things than that of Abel.”
So many delightful gems lay buried in this scripture. Remember, too, that Hebrews was written to Jewish believers who accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord, and who entered the UNIQUE BODY OF JESUS, known as THE CHURCH! For that reason, Hebrews is filled with many Old Testament references, and unless a person has a good understanding of the old covenant, Hebrews can be very difficult to understand.
We, Church, are DESTINED for THE CITY of the LIVING GOD. Our ABODE is the HEAVENLY JERUSALEM (also called our MANSIONS--as promised by Jesus in John 14:1-3). Here, we see another place in scripture which shows us that our true home is NOT on this earth, but that we’re CALLED to be CITIZENS of God’s HOUSE, in heaven, where there’s also an innumerable company of angels.
We, true Church, are CALLED the GENERAL ASSEMBLY (remember, that by our name, “Church,” we’re the CALLED-OUT ASSEMBLY who will be lifted from the earth to heaven in our Pre-Trib Rapture). We’re also called the CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN.
The CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN is another way of saying that we’re the Church of Jesus Christ! It’s Jesus Who is the FIRST-BEGOTTEN, the FIRSTBORN from the dead, Who received a glorified body. We are HIS CHURCH, and we belong to THE FIRSTBORN from the dead, Jesus.
But that’s NOT ALL! There’s ANOTHER element of truth to be gleaned. We, Church, are made ONE with Jesus! Since Jesus is the FIRSTFRUITS (FIRSTBORN) of the FIRST RESURRECTION, then we, VITALLY UNITED with Him, are the CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN--so this characteristic EXTENDS to us, who are ONE with Jesus, the FIRSTBORN. This means that we, too, are FIRST among those included in the FIRST RESURRECTION from the dead. We’ll receive the Pre-Trib Resurrection/Rapture BEFORE the Old Testament and Tribulation saints.
This understanding places us into the category of FIRSTFRUITS--that indeed, we, the true Church, are “firstfruits of the Spirit” and “firstfruits unto the Lord.”
Where did I find the phrase “FIRSTFRUITS UNTO THE LORD”?
“FIRSTFRUITS unto the Lord” is found in Leviticus 23:17, which shows a DETAIL from the FEAST of PENTECOST. Remember that the FEAST of PENTECOST was fulfilled when the Church was BORN. As the Church, who’s so closely associated with PENTECOST, we ARE indeed “FIRSTFRUITS unto the Lord.” We are the FIRST, and UNIQUE BODY of believers (INDWELLED by the Holy Spirit), who’ll find ourselves TRANSPORTED to DWELL in HEAVEN in a Pre-Tribulation Resurrection/Rapture. We’ll will be in heaven as the CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN. Wow!
Within the Feast of Pentecost, we see that there are two wave loves baked WITH LEAVEN--"they are THE FIRSTFRUITS UNTO THE LORD." These TWO LOAVES represent both Jews and Gentiles who are made ONE IN THE CHURCH after coming to faith in Jesus. These TWO LOAVES are baked WITH LEAVEN (the universal symbol for sin). Why LEAVEN? Because, in the Church, even though the Holy Spirit indwells us, we still have SIN in our fleshly nature! Within Pentecost--"We are FIRSTFRUITS unto the Lord."
I CAN’T LEAVE THIS OUT! THERE’S SO MUCH TO SEE. CONTINUING IN HEBREWS 12:22-23
“But you are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the CITY OF THE LIVING GOD, the HEAVENLY JERUSALEM, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the GENERAL ASSEMBLY and CHURCH of THE FIRSTBORN, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the SPIRITS of JUST MEN made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the NEW COVENANT, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks of better things than that of Abel.”
We also see, here in Hebrews, that we, Church, will be in heaven with OTHER personages.
(1.) God, the JUDGE OF ALL. When we arrive in heaven, we’ll be at God’s throne BEFORE He sends His judgment on the earth in the Tribulation. Therefore, God, the JUDGE OF ALL is mentioned.
(2.) We also see the “SPIRITS of JUST (righteous) MEN, made PERFECT.” Who are they? A host of Old Testament saints who have NOT YET received their resurrection bodies, because they are in heaven in their “spirits”--“the SPIRITS of JUST MEN made PERFECT” in heaven. When the Church arrives in heaven in our Pre-Tribulation Rapture, we will have GLORIFIED BODIES. However, the Old Testament saints in heaven (those who didn’t receive glorified bodies in the FRISTFIRSTS sheaf of the wave offering when Jesus rose from the dead) must wait for the END of the Tribulation period, in which THEIR BODIES will be raised and glorified. (Job 19:25-26.)
(3.) Of course, we’ll be in heaven with Jesus, Who’s the MEDIATOR of the NEW COVENANT--which we enjoy (and which Israel will soon partake of, as they accept and apply the blood which was shed for all men).
(4.) A reference is also made to “the blood of sprinkling, that speaks of better things than that of Abel.” What does this mean?
Abel’s sacrifice of a lamb of offering was accepted by God (See Genesis 4), BECAUSE his sacrifice showed his TRUST in the PROMISED Savior. But Hebrews speaks of “the blood of sprinkling” which is BETTER than that offered by Abel. That better sacrifice is the sprinkled blood of Jesus Christ!
At the throne of God, upon the heavenly MERCY SEAT, is a “blood sprinkling,” which is that of Jesus! Remember, Jesus FULFILLED all the requirements of God’s law! Let’s investigate an awesome fact…
In John 20:17, AFTER His resurrection, Jesus told Mary Magdalene NOT TO touch Him, because He had NOT YET ascended to His Father. But, later on, Jesus did ALLOW others to touch Him, especially the doubting Thomas! What does this indicate?
AFTER Jesus rose from the dead, in the ministry of our GREAT HIGH PRIEST, He ascended to the Father in heaven, where His SHED BLOOD was SPRINKLED upon the heavenly MERCY SEAT! That action SECURED for us this truth--that Jesus’ blood was shed ONCE and FOR ALL! The SACRIFICE was FINISHED, totally COMPLETE, and NO MORE needs to be done! AND because of our faith in Jesus’ blood, we are MADE the RIGHTEOUSNESS of God in Him! Hebrews is RICH with amazing images--and declares the EXCEPTIONAL GLORY of our God!
(Jesus, as our GREAT HIGH PRIEST, fulfilled ALL requirements of the law, AND performed details of the Jewish Feasts. I remind you, that at God’s throne, He also WAVED the SHEAF of FIRSTFRUITS, the small number of resurrected Old Testament saints AFTER His resurrection. Jesus was busy in those first hours of RESURRECTION SUNDAY. Later, He appeared to some disciples on the road to Emmaus.)
EVEN MORE WONDERS TO SHOW YOU FROM HEBREWS 12:22-23!
“But you are come unto Mount Zion, and unto the CITY OF THE LIVING GOD, the HEAVENLY JERUSALEM, and to an innumerable company of angels, to the GENERAL ASSEMBLY and CHURCH of THE FIRSTBORN, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the SPIRITS of JUST MEN made perfect, and to Jesus the Mediator of the NEW COVENANT, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks of better things than that of Abel.”
I don’t know about you, but I see MANY ELEMENTS described HERE in Hebrews, which REMINDS me of the HEAVENLY scene that’s described in Revelation 4 and 5.
(1.) GOD THE JUDGE. Revelation 4:5--“And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thundering and voices (showing a fomenting God, awesome and fearful, ready to pour out His judgments).
(2.) SPIRITS OF JUST MEN MADE PERFECT are the NON-RESURRECTED souls of Old Testament saints (destined for their resurrection AFTER Jesus sets His feet on the earth in Revelation 19). Job 19:25-26--“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and that He shall STAND at the LATTER DAY upon THE EARTH. And though AFTER my skinworms destroy this body, yet in MY FLESH I shall see God.”
(3.) Pay attention to this one! JESUS, MEDIATOR OF THE NEW COVENANT--Revelation 5:6--“And I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures (cherubim), and in THE MIDST of the ELDERS, stood a Lamb as it had been slain…” (In Revelation 1:12-13 and Revelation 1:20, we INDEED SEE Jesus is IN THE MIDST of His Church (the Lampstands), and NOW, in Revelation 5, Jesus is in THE MIDST of the 24 ELDERS, further proof that they represent THE CHURCH in heaven, AFTER a Pre-Tribulation Rapture!)
(4.) THE BLOOD OF SPRINKLING. Hebrews 9:11-12--“But Christ being COME an HIGH PRIEST of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, NOT MADE WITH HANDS, that is to say, nor of this building; neither by the blood of goats and calves, but BY HIS OWN BLOOD He entered in ONCE into the Holy Place (at God’s heavenly tabernacle), having obtained ETERNAL REDEMPTION for us.” I cross-reference THIS SCRIPTURE with REVELATION 5:6 (quoted above)--showing Jesus at the throne, the Lamb as He had been slain.
(5.) MULTITUDES OF ANGELS--(INCLUDING FOUR LIVING CREATURES). Revelation 5:11--“And I beheld, and I heard the voice of MANY ANGELS round about the throne, and the living creatures (cherubim), and the ELDERS (the Church): and the NUMBER of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands.”
When we arrive at our DESTINATION, true Church, in the HEAVENLY NEW JERUSALEM, we shall see ALL the INDESCRIBABLE WONDERS and THE GLORIES of heaven, which are described for us in Hebrews (also in Isaiah, Ezekiel and Daniel) and in the book of Revelation. I can hardly wait to get there! IT IS OUR HOME!
CITIZENS OF HEAVEN AND THE BRIDE
Let us now turn our attention to the true Church as being CITIZENS OF HEAVEN, which INDEED, is part of our POSITION in Jesus. Let’s read Philippians 3:20-21.
“For our conversation (which means CITIZENSHIP) is IN HEAVEN; from WHERE we also LOOK for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall CHANGE our vile body, that we may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself.”
We are NOT the EARTH DWELLERS--who we read about in the book of Revelation, time after time, as God’s judgments fall upon a rebellious and wicked world. Instead, true Church, our CITIZENSHIP is IN HEAVEN!
And FROM HEAVEN, we LOOK FOR (anticipate, expect, and hope for--the soon arrival) of the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ. When Jesus appears in the sky to call us up in the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, He will CHANGE (translate and transform) our vile (sin-defiled) bodies. At the Rapture, we’ll receive bodies that are like Jesus’ GLORIOUS BODY.
I don’t know about you, but I’m SO EAGER for this transformation. I’m watching and waiting, with earnest anticipation, for Jesus to descend into the sky and call me up! In this, I describe the “blessed hope” of the true Church (Titus 2:13)! We’re waiting for JESUS to appear--NOT the Antichrist!
Let’s look at some other wonderful promises, which I quote below:
Galatians 1:3-4--“GRACE be to you and PEACE from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who GAVE Himself for our sins, that He might DELIVER us from this PRESENT EVIL WORLD, according to THE WILL of God and our Father.”
Luke 21:36--“Watch ye therefore, and PRAY ALWAYS, that you may be accounted worthy TO ESCAPE all these things that shall come to pass (the events of the Tribulation), and to stand BEFORE the Son of Man.” (What makes us WORTHY--our faith in Jesus!)
1 John 2:28--“And now, little children, ABIDE IN HIM, that, WHEN He shall APPEAR, we may have CONFIDENCE, and NOT be ashamed before Him at His coming.”
1 John 3:2-3--“Beloved, NOW are we THE SONS OF GOD, and it does NOT yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, WHEN He (Jesus) shall APPEAR, we shall BE LIKE HIM, for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that has this HOPE IN HIM purifies himself, even as He is pure.”
I must comment upon the above scripture. One of the most wonderful BENEFITS of believing in the Pre-Trib Rapture is that our earnest expectation CAUSES us TO LIVE in a way that’s pleasing to God. We APPLY our faith and USE God’s word, so that we may PURIFY ourselves--and EVEN our PURIFICATION is accomplished by FAITH in Jesus Who works inside us, through the POWER of His Holy Spirit! (Nothing is of ourselves--we must LOOK TO HIM for ALL our blessings!) When we REALLY BELIEVE that the NEXT SOUND we hear WILL BE the voice of Jesus, we’re CAREFUL in HOW we fill our days.
We certainly don’t want to be caught in some sin, or in a questionable practice, therefore, we GUARD ourselves--confess, pray and repent of anything that might NOT please Jesus, and which would bring SHAME to us at His coming. The IMMINENCY of His coming (that He could appear in ANY twinkling of the eye), keeps us on our toes, spiritually.
However, if we think we MUST SEE certain events BEFORE the Rapture can happen, we might NOT be so quick to walk in earnest expectation. “Oh,” we might say, “He can’t come until the middle of the Tribulation. He can’t come until the Antichrist desecrates the Jewish Temple, so therefore, the TEMPLE must be BUILT first.” Anything that we think MUST HAPPEN FIRST, might STOP us from keeping a close watch on how we conduct our lives--and we might find ourselves being caught unaware.
John’s epistle rings like a clarion bell-- “And every man who has this HOPE IN HIM (Jesus--in the soon coming Pre-Tribulation Rapture), PURIFIES himself, even as He is pure.”
What is our “hope” in Him? It’s CLEARLY and JOYFULLY declared in Titus 2:13--“Looking for that BLESSED HOPE, and the GLORIOUS APPEARING of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.”
We’re NOT looking for the Tribulation. We’re NOT waiting to see the Antichrist sign a seven-year treaty with Israel. We’re NOT waiting to see MASS persecutions--the treading under of multitudes by a wicked One World Order. Instead, we LOOK FOR Jesus to appear at any moment! Oh, the joy!
TRANSLATED INTO THE KINGDOM OF GOD’S DEAR SON
The most awesome understanding is this--that the true Church is DELIVERED from the POWERS of darkness. Let’s look at Colossians 1:12-15.
“Giving thanks unto the Father, which has made us meet to be partakers of THE INHERITANCE of the saints in light: Who has DELIVERED us from the POWER OF DARKNESS, and has TRANSLATED us into the KINGDOM OF HIS DEAR SON, in Whom we have REDEMPTION through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins.”
We have the INHERITANCE of saints in the light. We’re HEIRS of God, and JOINT-HEIRS with Jesus.
We’re DELIVERED from the POWERS of DARKNESS. What a strong statement!
The wicked one, the adversary, Satan, has no POWER over us, because Jesus (by His resurrection) has STRIPPED that enemy of his power, and RENDERED him impotent (Colossians 2:15). If we stand firm in our CONFIDENCE in Jesus, and in the POWER of His RIGHTEOUSNESS (which is IN us)--the devil can’t harm us. Since we have Jesus IN US--that’s the MOST POTENT REASON why we CANNOT be in the Tribulation. We’re NOT overcome by the power of the devil in wicked men, or by the power of the devil, himself. Instead, we are the OVERCOMERS by our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ! The gates of hell shall NOT prevail against us! (Matthew 16:18.)
We’re TRANSLATED (transferred, carried away) from those powers of darkness and the ravages of sin. We’ve ALREADY ENTERED the KINGDOM of God’s dear Son, where we’re CALLED to be KINGS and PRIESTS with Him--IN THIS PRESENT LIFE, in the future Millennium, and on into the new world to come.
We have REDEMPTION, by the precious blood of Jesus, which gives us THE FORGIVENESS of sins. We are SET FREE! Our completed REDEMPTION includes receiving our GLORIFIED bodies--at THE TIME Jesus calls His true Church to Himself in the Pre-Trib Rapture.
These truths--our POSITION--given to us by Jesus (where we’re MADE so ONE with Him), circle about, repeat themselves, and continually assures us. We are HIS, we are UNITED to Him, ETERNALLY--from THE MOMENT we became BORN-AGAIN. The promises are SURE! Jesus will NEVER send us into the seven years of Tribulation (that WRATH which falls from the throne of God BY WAY OF the seven-sealed scroll, the trumpets and the bowls). That’s simply NOT our appointment!
There’s even more!
WE’RE CALLED THE BRIDE OF CHRIST
We find the idea of the Church as the Bride of Jesus introduced in 2 Corinthians 11:2, where the Apostle Paul writes:
“For I am jealous over you with a Godly jealousy: for I have ESPOUSED you to ONE HUSBAND, that I might present you as a CHASTE VIRGIN to Christ.”
That passage clearly shows true Church as likened to a CHASTE VIRGIN--the BRIDE of Jesus.
We see a much larger picture of that concept in Ephesians 5:29-32. Although this scripture describes an earthly marriage, the bigger spiritual picture is RESPRESENTATIVE of the Church and Jesus Christ.
“For no man ever yet hated HIS OWN FLESH; but NOURISHES and CHERISHES it, EVEN AS THE LORD (does with His) Church: for we are MEMBERS of HIS BODY, of HIS FLESH, and of HIS BONES. For THIS CAUSE shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be JOINED UNTO his wife, and they TWO shall be ONE FLESH. This is a GREAT MYSTERY: but I SPEAK concerning CHRIST AND THE CHURCH. Nevertheless. Let every one of you in particular so LOVE his wife EVEN AS HIMSELF, and the wife see that she REVERENCE her husband.”
That passage carries RICH and DEEP MEANING. Paul is NOT JUST speaking about an earthly marriage relationship. He’s using the earthly picture to DEFINE a TRUTH about the Church and Jesus.
We have a PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP with Jesus. We see in this passage that Christianity is NOT JUST another RELIGION among many. Instead, when we are BORN-AGAIN, we are VITALLY JOINED to Jesus in a LOVING, TENDER and INTIMATE bond. We are ONE FLESH, made ONE with Him. We are so UNITED, that there will NEVER be a separation! Jesus is IN US, and we are IN HIM!
We’re MADE ONE with Jesus in the same way a man and wife are JOINED. We talk, we communicate, we NOURISH and CHERISH each other. Jesus loves us with a LOVE too deep and profound to fully comprehend--He was willing to GIVE UP His life for HIS BRIDE, and He DID so. He died to make us His! We, in turn, are the DEVOTED BRIDE; we give Jesus our REVERENCE.
THE CHURCH AS JESUS’ BRIDE
A “TYPE” IN THE STORY OF ABRAHAM (BACKGROUND STUDY FOR THE CHURCH AS “THE BRIDE”)
We, the true Church, are not only CHRIST'S BODY--a very UNIQUE group of believers in the plans of God. But, God has also sent the Holy Spirit into the world to GATHER TOGETHER the Church--the predominantly Gentile BRIDE for Jesus.
This Biblical FACT is reinforced by “TYPES.” “Types” are “great Bible truths” ACTED OUT in history AHEAD of the FACT.
Some people may feel UNCOMFORTABLE with TYPES, saying that we read MORE into the scripture than what’s PLAINLY RECORDED. But God has indeed INCORPORATED types, and types ALWAYS AGREE with what God has CLEARLY STATED elsewhere.
Also, we need to remember that NOT a word that the Holy Spirit inspired is wasted. EVERY Bible story is THERE for a reason! To point to Jesus and His work!
We see in 1 Corinthians 2:11-14, that the Word of God is FOOLISHNESS to people who operate SOLELY by the REASONING of their FLESHLY minds. God’s word is SPIRITUALLY DISCERNED, meaning that the Holy Spirit must OPEN the meanings of that Word to us. TYPES are a HIGH DEGREE of SPIRITUAL DISCERNING!
One of the most amazing TYPES is Abraham offering Isaac (Genesis 22) which becomes a FORESHADOWING of God offering Jesus for the sins of the world. Included with that TYPE is a picture of Isaac being PRESENTED with his BRIDE, which offers us insight about Christ and His Church--the BRIDE who is presented to Jesus.
(To fully develop this picture, I need to lay some background, so please bear with me. I promise you, it will be worth it.)
God told Abraham to "take now your son, your ONLY son, Isaac, whom you love" and they were told to go to the land of Moriah to one of the mountains God would show them.
Already, something interesting is happening here. In reality, Isaac was NOT Abraham's ONLY son. The patriarch had ANOTHER son, Ishmael--born when Abraham attempted to fulfill God's promise by his OWN FLESHLY EFFORTS with the handmaiden, Hagar.
In the sacrifice portrayed here in Genesis, God refers to the SON OF PROMISE, who is Isaac.
Likewise, God ALSO has a Son OF PROMISE--Jesus. Pay attention to the phrases spoken to Abraham: "your ONLY son"--"whom you love." God has an ONLY Son Whom HE LOVES--Jesus. We see the scene is SET UP to FORESHADOW a great gospel truth--Christ's death and resurrection.
Abraham, in TYPE, is God, the Father. Isaac, in TYPE, is Jesus Christ.
In Romans 4, Galatians 3 and Hebrews 11, we discover that Abraham KNEW IN ADVANCE that God would RESURRECT Isaac. It was THIS FAITH that saved him.
How did Abraham’s FAITH affect this story?
He KNEW God’s promise, and BELIEVED it! God told Abraham that, OUT OF ISAAC, would come His SEED. At this point, when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac HAD NO CHILDREN. Yet Abraham KNEW God would KEEP His promise!
Operating in FAITH, Abraham approached the sacrifice like this--"So God wants me to offer MY SON of PROMISE? Okay. I will. Since God said that THROUGH ISAAC, I’ll have children to bless the earth, I know IF I KILL HIM, God WILL RAISE him up."
In Abraham's mind, Isaac was ALREADY DEAD when God told him to offer his son. After that, they traveled THREE DAYS to get to the mountain. "And on THE THIRD DAY, Abraham lifted up his eyes and saw the place afar off." Genesis 22:4.
How can we know this story is INDEED a “type” of Jesus’ work on the cross? In 1 Corinthians 15:4, we see the gospel DEFINED. “...and that He (Jesus) rose again THE THIRD DAY according to the scriptures." Where in the scriptures does it say Jesus would rise on the THIRD DAY? Genesis 22:4 is one place. It’s there BY TYPE!
ON THE THIRD DAY, after Abraham had reckoned Isaac AS DEAD in his mind, they arrived at the mountain, and Isaac was returned to Abraham ALIVE. To Abraham, it was AS IF Isaac had INDEED risen from the dead. The Apostle Paul also tells us that the GOSPEL was preached BEFORE, UNTO ABRAHAM. Abraham KNEW the Gospel, and he BELIEVED it. That’s why he could so willingly offer his son. Abraham KNEW He was ACTING out A PICTURE of the gospel!
When Abraham and Isaac reached the place of the offering, Abraham went away to worship. When Abraham returned, he placed THE WOOD for the offering upon Isaac's back. Genesis 22:6. When JESUS went to the cross, He also carried the MEANS of His death upon His back--the WOODEN BEAM of the cross.
JESUS DIED TWO THOUSAND YEARS AFTER ABRAHAM OFFERED ISAAC--ON THE VERY SAME SPOT WHERE ABRAHAM TOOK ISAAC. Abraham named the spot "Jehovah-Jirah" which MEANS "God Provides." Abraham UNDERSTOOD how God WOULD provide His OWN Son as an offering there.
When Isaac asked Abraham WHERE the lamb for the offering was, Abraham replied with some very interesting words. Notice the arrangement of them--"My son, God will provide HIMSELF a lamb." Genesis 22:8. God, Himself, in the PERSON of Jesus, offered HIMSELF as THE LAMB! Wow!
And indeed a ram was seen, caught by its horns--this RAM became the SUBSTITUTIONAL SACRIFICE. Genesis 22:13. That SHOWS how God will provide HIMSELF (in Jesus) as the SUBSTITUTIONAL sacrifice--meaning that Jesus TOOK OUR PLACE on the cross as He died for the sins of the world!
THE BACKGROUND IS LAID (concerning Abraham and Isaac who ACTED OUT God’s PROMISE to send His Son Who will DIE for the sins of the world)--LET’S TURN OUR ATTENTION TO ‘THE TYPE” WHICH SHOWS THE BRIDE OF JESUS, THE CHURCH
After the sacrifice and “the raising” of Isaac, he’s NOT mentioned again in the story--UNTIL THE TIME OF HIS MARRIAGE. Where is Isaac in chapters 23 to almost the end of chapter 24? To find out, let’s follow the narrative.
"So Abraham returned to his young men (servants), and they rose up and went together to Beersheba..." Genesis 22:19. Isaac is NOT MENTIONED here. In fact, he’s NOT MENTIONED AGAIN until AFTER Abraham sends his UNNAMED servant into ANOTHER COUNTRY to select A BRIDE for his son.
From the time of the sacrifice UNTIL Isaac MET HIS BRIDE, he’s NOT SEEN (or physically present) within the story. So also, from the time of Jesus’ death and resurrection UNTIL He MEETS His BRIDE, the Church, He is NOT SEEN (or physically present) upon the earth.
In Genesis 24:62-67, we see Isaac meet Rebekah. THIS IS THE FIRST TIME SINCE THE OFFERING OF ISAAC that he’s PHYSICALLY DESCRIBED “after the scene of the sacrifice.” (By the way, Abraham’s servant, Eliezer is NOT named in Genesis 24. We discover his name from another passage, Genesis 15:2. Eliezer means “comforter.”) Eliezer’s NOT being NAMED in the TYPE in Genesis 22-24 is quite significant.
The UNNAMED servant is a TYPE of the Holy Spirit (who also has NO NAME and doesn’t draw attention to Himself--because His duty is to point to Jesus). The Holy Spirit is also called "the comforter."
The UNNAMED servant (who is a “comforter”), told the bride, Rebekah, about Abraham’s son, Isaac. The Holy Spirit TELLS US, people of the Church (who is THE BRIDE) about God's Son, Jesus.
The UNNAMED servant gave gifts to Rebekah. The Holy Spirit gives gifts to THE CHURCH.
The UNNAMED servant took the BRIDE (Rebekah) from HER HOMELAND IN A FAR COUNTRY, and from there, THEY JOURNEYED to the HOUSE of the GROOM’S FATHER (Abraham) to MEET Isaac, the son. The Bride, the Church, will JOURNEY FROM HER HOMELAND on earth WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT, and ARRIVE AT the HOUSE of the GROOM’S Father, God, which, of course, is in heaven. There THE BRIDE will be presented to her Groom, Jesus Christ in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.
How do we KNOW that the ARRIVAL of the Church in heaven, ACCOMPANIED by the Holy Spirit, will be Pre-Trib?
Because the wedding ceremony MUST happen in THE HOUSE of the BRIDEGROOM’S (Jesus’) FATHER. The WEDDING CELEBRATION itself, the UNITING of BRIDE and GROOM, lasts SEVEN DAYS (in the Jewish model--and, remember, Jesus was born of the Jews). The seven day wedding ceremony, in TYPE, corresponds to the SEVEN YEARS of the Tribulation. While that terrible time BEFALLS the earth, THE BRIDE, the Church, will be in the HOUSE OF THE FATHER, with her new BRIDEGROOM, Jesus.
When Jesus returns to earth at THE END of the seven years of Tribulation, His BRIDE, the Church, will RETURN to the earth WITH HIM, following Him on white horses, to RULE and REIGN with Him in His Kingdom. Revelation 19:7-8 and Revelation 19:14.
We see a PARALLEL in Jude 14 and 15--“And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His SAINTS (in this case, the Church), to execute JUDGMENT upon ALL, and to CONVINCE all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.’”
The last phrase in Zechariah 14:5, echoes the same concept. The saints (Church) RETURNS to earth with Jesus at THE END of the seven year Tribulation. “…and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.”
After the Second Coming of Jesus, when He sets His feet on the earth, the whole MILLENNIAL KINGDOM will be invited to THE MARRIAGE SUPPER of the LAMB (when the marriage, according to the Jewish model, is announced publicly). And what a party that will be! For a 1000 years!
AND THEN THERE’S THE STORY OF RUTH!
We see a similar TYPE in the book of Ruth (which, by the way, is ALWAYS read on Pentecost--a FEAST that RELATES to the Church).
Ruth became a GENTILE BRIDE for Boaz, who AS a KINSMAN REDEEMER, is a TYPE of Jesus. (To understand Revelation 5, we need to study Ruth, and the WORK of Ruth’s KINSMAN REDEEMER, who is Boaz. The Jewish laws of REDEMPTION are put into practice in the story of Ruth. While Boaz Redeemed Ruth--to be his Gentile bride--and to raise up kin to the family’s name, he also paid a price which restored the land unto Naomi. Naomi, by the way becomes the TYPE for Israel in this story, while Ruth, as the Gentile bride is the TYPE for the Church.)
Boaz offers us a TYPE for “the WORK of Jesus”--Who in the FLESH OF A MAN, became a member of “our FAMILY” (our KINSMAN--as a true Man) in His FLESH. Furthermore, as OUR KINSMAN, He REDEEMED us!
(In other words, Jesus TOTALLY identified Himself with mankind)--and in HIS FLESH, the FLESH of mankind, He became OUR KINSMAN REDEEMER! In the flesh of a PERFECT and SINLESS MAN, Jesus GAVE His life to SAVE us! As our REDEEMER, Jesus PURCHASED us with THE RANSOM of His own precious blood!
As Boaz REDEEMED Ruth, and purchased her to be part of his family, so also, Jesus purchased us, bringing us into the family of God.
And that’s NOT all! At the throne of God right now, Jesus RETAINS His “human form” in His resurrected body. He’s FOREVER identified with REDEEMED mankind in His GLORIFIED BODY, retaining the form of a Man throughout all eternity!
In the book of Ruth, at the scene of the THRESHING FLOOR (“threshing” being a consistent SYMBOL for JUDGMENT), Ruth found SHELTER “under the hem” of Boaz’s skirt, at HIS FEET. Ruth 3:9 and Ruth 3:14. Most assuredly this is A PICTURE of SAFETY for a Gentile Bride during a period of THRESHING JUDGMENT.
When the scene OF JUDGMENT occurs ON EARTH in the Tribulation, THE BRIDE (a PREDOMINANTLY GENTILE Church) will find safety and shelter at THE FEET of Jesus by means of a Pre-Trib Rapture (which is CERTAINLY revealed VERY CLEARLY elsewhere in Scripture. The TYPE in the story of Ruth simply SHOWS a consistent PATTERN.)
I find it so interesting that even IN THE TYPES which are seen, they echo the same message. God is so good--and His Word is so SPIRITUALLY RICH!
HOW DOES OUR BEING “THE BRIDE” OF JESUS APPLY TO THE COMING TRIBULATION?
What would you think of a BRIDEGROOM, who PRIOR to his wedding ceremony, tossed HIS BRIDE into a JAIL full of angry criminals and rapists? This BRIDEGROOM tells those wicked people to BEAT UP and TORTURE his BRIDE. Why? So she can be made truly WORTHY to marry him! (The very IDEA is APPALLING!)
Will Jesus THROW His BRIDE into the “days of God’s vengeance” so that she can be under God’s anger, BEATEN and BLOODIED by wicked/rebellious people, the Antichrist and the devil? Heaven forbid!
But--this is what mid-, post- and pre-wrath people think Jesus will do to HIS BRIDE!
It’s certainly NOT what the scripture says!
Jesus LOVES His Church. He NOURISHES and CHERISHES us. We are ONE with Him, MEMBERS of His BODY, of His FLESH, and of His BONES. He SANCTIFIES and CLEANSES us by the washing of water by the Word--a picture of an ONGOING FORGIVENESS and a SOLID RELATIONSHIP! We RESPOND to Him in thankfulness, devotion and worship. We desire to learn more about Him by studying His Word and His Ways. As we do so, our RELATIONSHIP deepens. Jesus will PRESENT to Himself A BRIDE without spot or wrinkle, who is holy and without blemish! We are MADE that way in Jesus!
NOWHERE in scripture does God suggest that Jesus will cast HIS BRIDE into the Tribulation.
We must rightly divide the scriptures! (2 Timothy 2:15.)
THE CHURCH AS KINGS AND PRIESTS WITH JESUS
Before I get into this segment, let me make a DISTINCTION between the Church and Israel. We KNOW that Israel had PRIESTS who served God in the Tabernacle, and later in the Temple. We also know that Israel called for a KING to rule over them, as in the surrounding nations, and God honored their request. God established the throne of David, and anointed David to be their King. (What about Saul? He was THE PEOPLES’ CHOICE, and what a DISASTER he proved to be! Much like the disastrous choice in our last election!)
What we need to understand is that Israel HAD their PRIESTS, and they HAD their KINGS, but in Israel, a man was NEVER a PRIEST AND KING at the SAME TIME. In fact Israel’s Priests and Kings came from separate TRIBES: Priests were from the Tribe of Levi; Kings from the Tribe of Judah.
The Church, however is PATTERNED after Jesus (and ONE with Him), Who is indeed a PRIEST AND KING at the SAME TIME, in the likeness of Melchizedek. (I’ll return to the concept of Melchizedek after a few more paragraphs.)
Where do we find the Church described as being PRIESTS AND KINGS? Let’s look at 2 Peter 2:9-11.
“But you are a chosen generation, a ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, an holy nation, a PECULIAR people, that you should SHOW FORTH the praises of Him Who has CALLED you OUT OF DARKNESS into HIS MARVELOUS LIGHT, which in time past (as Gentiles) were NOT a people, but ARE NOW the PEOPLE OF GOD; which had NOT obtained mercy (in the Old Testament as Gentiles), but NOW have OBTAINED MERCY. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as STRANGERS AND PILGRIMS, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.”
We, in the Church, are indeed a PECULIAR PEOPLE, a SEPARATE BODY and UNIQUE from ALL of the REST of God’s people. We, the Church ALONE, are BOTH KINGS AND PRIESTS, a “ROYAL PRIESTHOOD” (“Royal Priesthood” is the combination of those TWO offices). We are therefore DIFFERENT, a very UNIQUE and DISTINCTIVE people!
We are NOT pre-flood people. Neither are we Old Testament saints. We are not Jews or Israel. We are NOT the future Tribulation Saints!
We are THE CHURCH, who is CHRIST’S BODY on earth, and who are INDWELLED by the Holy Spirit! NONE of the other groups of God’s people have THAT DISTINCTION!
Jesus, our Head, is a KING and PRIEST, in the like manner of Melchizedek, the KING of Salem--who was also a PRIEST. (See Genesis 14:18. Plus Hebrews 6:20 and all of Hebrews chapter 7. Also Psalm 110, which prophesies of the Lord making the enemies His footstool.) Jesus is A PRIEST forever in the order of Melchizedek--who was also the KING of Salem. We, the Church, being ONE with Jesus--and JOINT-HEIRS with Him-- are KINGS and PRIESTS, too!
We’re called STRANGERS and PILGRIMS on this earth--in 1 Peter 2:9-11, because the earth is NOT our home. We are ALIEN here, just passing through, because our TRUE HOME, those MANSIONS we anticipate, are IN HEAVEN, in the HOUSEHOLD of God.
Let’s continue by looking at Romans 5:17.
“For if by one man’s offense (Adam) death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of GRACE and of the GIFT of RIGHTEOUSNESS shall REIGN IN LIFE by One, Christ Jesus.”
We do NOT wait until we get to heaven to operate like Jesus. We do so RIGHT NOW in THIS LIFE--through the EQUIPPING, GIFTING and POWER of the Holy Spirit, as Romans 5:17 makes abundantly clear!
We are CALLED to RULE and REIGN as Kings right now--in THIS LIFE. In fact, I see our RULING and REIGNING in the present time as ON THE JOB TRAINING. Then, once we’re Resurrected/Raptured to heaven, we’ll receive STEPHANOS CROWNS, the wreaths given for OVERCOMING and for GAINING A VICTORY.
HOW do we REIGN in life like what is being described? By our FAITH, CONFIDENCE and TRUST in Jesus!
THE CHURCH AS “KINGS AND PRIESTS” IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION
There’s more about the Church being Kings and Priests. Let’s look at Revelation 1:5-6 (which is addressed and sent to the SEVEN CHURCHES).
“And from Jesus Christ, Who is the faithful witness (Prophet), and the first begotten of the dead (Priest), and the prince of the kings of the earth (King). Unto Him that LOVED us, and WASHED us from our sins in HIS OWN BLOOD, and has MADE US KINGS AND PRIESTS unto God and His Father; to Him be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
The Church is WASHED in the BLOOD OF JESUS. We’re ALREADY made clean and ready to MEET Him--by His sacrifice at THE CROSS. As a result of that work, Jesus MAKES us KINGS AND PRIESTS unto God and His Father.
What a PHENOMENAL trade! Our sins are CAST INTO a sea of forgetfulness, always covered by Jesus’ precious blood! And we ARE, in God’s eyes, KINGS and PRIESTS-- ROYALTY IN HIS KINGDOM!
We’re destined to RULE and REIGN with Him in the coming Millennial Kingdom, and FOREVER. Who can know all the things (that Jesus plans for us) as we fill in that role?
We’ll know FOR SURE when we’re Resurrected/Raptured and SEE Him FACE TO FACE. I’m certain we’ll NOT be disappointed!
THE CHURCH AS “KINGS AND PRIESTS” AND THE 24 ELDERS IN REVELATION
I’ve written a teaching about the 24 elders (Revelation 4 and 5) in another article, and there’s way TOO MUCH information to include in this lengthy series. However, allow me to make a quick statement. (Honestly! I don’t think I CAN be brief! So please bear with me.) Here’s the Biblical description of the 24 elders:
(1.) Elders--a term used for Church leadership.
(2.) Elders, the Greek “presbuteros.” Church terminology--the “Presbytery.”
(3.) Number 24. In 1 Chronicles 24, King David DIVIDED the Israeli Priesthood into 24 COURSES because they’d grown too large. There was NOT room for all of them to assemble at the King’s throne. When the 24 LEADERS of the divided COURSES met BEFORE David’s throne, the WHOLE PRIESTHOOD was REPRESENTED in their number. LIKEWISE, the 24 ELDERS represent the ENTIRE CHURCH before God’s throne--a picture the Church in our role as PRIESTS.
(4.) Number 24 (part 2). The Church is composed of both Jews and Gentiles. 12 tribes of Israel. 12 apostles of the Church. A total of 24.
(5.) The Elders SIT. The work of the Church on earth in “the age of God’s Grace” is done.
(6.) The Elders sit on THRONES--the Church is seated on THRONES as KINGS. A picture of the Church in our role as KINGS.
(7.) The Elders wear “SPECIFIC” WHITE “RAIMENT.” The Church is promised white garments. (The “specific” RAIMENT is NOT the Greek “stole”--which is seen on the Great Multitude of Revelation 7. There’s a difference! The Great Multitude is NOT the Church. Instead, they are saints that come out of the Great Tribulation. Be careful to make those comparisons!)
(8.) The Elders wear CROWNS, which are STEPHANOS, given for OVERCOMING and GAINING A VICTORY (and for finishing the race). The same kind of CROWNS are given to the Church. (1 Corinthians 9:25-27. 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20. 2 Timothy 4:8. 1 Peter 5:4. Revelation 2:10. Revelation 3:11.)
(9.) The Elders wear crowns OF GOLD. Gold shows KINGSHIP. Again, this is the Church as KINGS. The Church also SHINES with THE LIGHT of Jesus, REFLECTING His Deity. Gold in scripture also speaks of Deity.
(10.) In Revelation 5, the Elders sing a NEW SONG of THEIR REDEMPTION (as seen in the King James Version--translated from a MORE RELIABLE old manuscript known as the Codex Siniaticus). The Elders sing of being saved by the blood of Jesus.
(11.) The Elders are saved “out of” (“called-out of”) every kindred, tongue, people and nation on earth. The Church is predominantly Gentile, “called-out of” the world.
(12.) In Ezekiel and Daniel we find SIMILAR DESCRIPTIONS of heaven as shown in the Revelation. EXCEPT FOR ONE THING. The Old Testament prophets did NOT see 24 Elders! Why? The Church is a MYSTERY which was NOT clearly revealed in the Old Testament.
I gave this description because I’m going to quote the NEW SONG of the 24 ELDERS in Revelation 5:10.
(This is a UNIQUE “new song” of a PECULIAR group of GOD’S PEOPLE--the 24 Elders--THE CHURCH. We are redeemed by Christ’s blood from every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation).
“And (He--Jesus) has made US unto our God KINGS AND PRIESTS: and WE shall REIGN ON THE EARTH.”--(during the 1000 year MILLENNIUM, with Jesus on the throne of David in Israel).
Do you recall WHAT we discovered in Romans 8:17, that we (the Church) are JOINT-HEIRS with Jesus? God’s Son INHERITS the MILLENNIAL KINGDOM from His Father, which is the FULFILLMENT in Israel of their MESSIANIC PROPHECIES. Jesus is the ONE Who will RULE and REIGN with a ROD OF IRON during that time, and we (Church) will RULE and REIGN with Him. That’s the CLEAR TEACHING of OUR DESTINY, as SUNG by the 24 ELDERS (who are a SYMBOL for the Church).
If we, true Church, were CAST into the time of the Tribulation, we could NOT rule and reign! The Tribulation is NOT a time in which God’s people are free, or able to rule or reign. The Tribulation is a time of the wrath of God, ALL of it SENT from God’s throne, from the seals to the last of the bowls!
Who reigns in that terrible time? A wicked One World Government. The horrible false religion of Mystery Babylon. The Antichrist. Satan and his hordes of demonic forces.
Tribulation saints do NOT rule and reign in the Tribulation. They are OVERCOME by the Antichrist and his minions!
Israel does NOT rule and reign in the Tribulation. They’re under the false covenant of the Antichrist, and ONLY EXIST as he ALLOWS them.
Plus, AFTER the Antichrist commits the “abomination which makes desolate,” Israel will need to FLEE FOR THEIR LIVES. That’s certainly NOT reigning.
Even in the Millennium, ISRAEL does NOT reign as kings. They enjoy the blessings of living under the REIGN of Jesus and His Church, but Israel does NOT act in the position of kings themselves.
Since the Church REIGNS in THIS LIFE by One Christ Jesus, it’s IMPOSSIBLE for us to be cast into the Tribulation--where we CANNOT reign. Can you see these truths? I pray you can!
SUMMARY--FACTS ABOUT THE CHURCH THAT WE’VE SEEN IN THIS SERIES
To sum up, we, the true Church, are a UNIQUE people among ALL groups of God’s people.
1. We ACCEPTED the work of the Lord Jesus Christ AT THE CROSS and have been MADE RIGHTEOUS by His shed blood.
2. We are “ACCEPTED” IN THE BELOVED.
3. We are FILLED and SEALED with the Holy Spirit and have His POWER to OVERCOME.
4. We are Christ’s BODY--made ONE with Him.
5. He is the HEAD, and we are HIS MEMBERS--living building blocks in the LIVING ORGANISM called HIS CHURCH (toes, fingers, hands, feet).
6. We are the “sons of God” in His “HOUSEHOLD”, “adopted” into God’s family, where we are HEIRS of God and JOINT-HEIRS with Jesus.
7. We are Christ’s AMBASSADORS on earth in this AGE OF GRACE, representatives of Jesus to the world around us.
8. We are CITIZENS OF HEAVEN,
9. We are the CHURCH OF THE FIRSTBORN,
10. And we’re “FIRSTFRUITS unto the Lord,” as well as “FIRSTFRUITS of the Spirit.”
11. We REIGN with Jesus, made unto Him KINGS and PRIESTS.
12. We’re TRANSLATED into the KINGDOM of God’s dear Son.
13. We’re also the BRIDE OF CHRIST, and will be married to Him IN HEAVEN, after our Pre-Trib Rapture.
14. At the END of the tribulation, Jesus AND His BRIDE will RETURN to earth for the MILLENNIAL KINGDOM.
Is this enough to convince you of OUR UNIQUENESS as THE CHURCH, and WHY we’ll NEVER find ourselves in the Tribulation? I hope so.