"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The RAPTURE: The WHO and WHEN of it ALL Part 6



~~by James Fire
There are those skeptics and cynics, humanists and atheists alike, that like to criticize and mock Jesus Christ and His Word for this scripture, for they say, He said He was coming 'quickly' and yet He's been away for 2,000 years! Did He lose track of time? Did He get a flat?

The Greek word used here is tachu, which means, "shortly, without delay, soon, or by surprise, suddenly, readily, quickly, swift". It refers more to the manner of one's coming rather than a time duration. We know that the LORD is longsuffering and not willing that any should perish, and so He waits for those last of the Gentiles, who in His wisdom, are all accounted for, and awaits the time when they will receive salvation, and then, He will come "suddenly" without warning.


The following are verses that depict the Second Coming of Christ; the second group of verses deals with the rapture of the church. If one examines each group of scriptures and compares them, the differences will become more apparent.
Daniel 2:44-45; 7:9-14; 12:1-3

Zech. 14:1-15; Matt. 13:41; 26:64


Mark 13:14-27; 14:62; Luke 21:25-28


Acts 1:9-11; 3:19-21; 1 Thess. 3:13


2 Thess. 1:6-10; 2:8; 2 Peter 3:1-14


Jude :14-15; Rev. 1:7; 19:11-20:6; 22:7, 12, 20.
In these verses about the Second Coming there are no references to a translation; translated saints come back WITH Christ Jesus to the Earth.

The Earth is judged; definitive and predicted signs precede it. It affects all the people of the Earth. It concludes the day of wrath. Satan is bound.

Christ comes WITH His bride. Every eye shall see Him.

The Rapture of the Ekklesia (church):

John 14:1-3; Romans 8:19; 1 Cor. 1:7-8; 15:1-53; 16:22;

Phil. 3:20-21; Col. 3:4; 1 Thess. 1:10; 2:19; 4:13-18; 5:9,23;

2 Thess. 2:1; 1 Tim. 6:14; 2 Tim. 4:1; Titus 2:13; Heb. 9:28;


James 5:7-9; 1 Peter 1:7, 13; 1 Jn. 2:28-3:2; Jude :21; Rev. 2:25; 3:10.


In these verses there is the translation of believers, and these go TO heaven; the Earth is not judged; this event has no precedent conditions, and we are admonished to expect it at any moment (in a "time when you think not"). Believers only are involved in this event and it occurs prior to the time of wrath which God has not appointed us to. There is no reference to Satan or the Beast. Christ here claims His bride and receives her to Himself. Only His own will see Him.

FINDING The CHURCH In The BOOK Of REVELATION -

Those persuaded of a mid- and post-tribulation rapture would have to show the church present during that time, within the context of scripture. Knowing that this time of Daniel's 70th week is expounded upon in the book of Revelation, ch's. 6 through 19, it would seem evident that if indeed the church is present for any duration of time of "Jacob's Trouble" we would find references within this time frame.

I have found scriptures that may be viewed as the church enduring the time of the tribulation or Daniel's 70th week.

Rev 6:9-11
And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

Here we have those slain for the word of God and the testimony which they held; its obvious these were victims of the Beast's reign, and they were martyred for their allegiance to the LORD Jesus, and they were admonished to be patient until their "brethren" were likewise slain.

Some see these as the church, and yet as we have seen in the previous two articles of this Rapture subject, there will be believers that result from the beginning of this tribulation, following the rapture of the church. There will be Jews who come to faith, as well as Gentiles. However the fullness of the Gentiles at this point has already arrived, and God during this time interval is once again dealing with Israel (in this time of Jacob's trouble) as specified in Romans 11:25.

There are no defining characteristics that identify these martyrs as the church; certainly they are saved by faith in Christ, and are classified as saints, but as we also have seen before, not all saints are of the church. More on this distinction later.

Rev 7:9-17
John the apostle here is shown a great multitude of saints who have had their robes washed in the blood of the Lamb. When John is asked by one of the heavenly elders who these might be, John can't answer (if it were the church, it would seem John would recognize them) and he is told in vs. 14:

. . . These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

The church has been in existance for 2,000 years, and if it were true that we would go through the Tribulation era, this verse would be rendered a bit differently. What it states is that these are those who ". . . came out of great tribulation . . ." rather than came through tribulation". Am I nitpicking? If I were to base my entire argument on this verse, I'd say, yes I am! However this is but only a single verse I will bring to bear.

Rev 12:1-Rev 12:6 Here we are presented with a vision of a woman in heaven clothed with the sun, the moon beneath her feet, and encircled with a crown of 12 stars. She gives birth to her son who is to rule all nations with a rod of iron, and who then ascends into heaven after his birth, and sits on God's throne.

The child is readily identifiable as Christ Jesus who will Himself rule with a rod of iron, and presently sits with His Father on His throne. Yet there are those who identify the woman as the church. This is rather confusing as the church never gave birth to Christ, but rather the reverse: Jesus Christ has borne the church with His own blood!

If this woman isn't the church, then who is she? The answer is clearly, Israel, for Christ Jesus came from the tribe of Judah. This vision correlates perfectly with the vision that Joseph had of his brothers, and of his father and mother (see: Gen 37:9-11).

Rev 12:10-12
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.


And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
Here is a voice declaring from heaven that Satan is cast down, the accuser, and this is he who accused the brethren before God day and night, and they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and yet were slain on Christ's behalf. Where are these brethren located at the time of this statement? All references to them are in the past tense: ". . . they overcame. . . loved not their lives. . ." and in reference to these, regarding Satan's accusations, this too is past tense: ". . . which accused them . . ."

I'm not insinuating that this is necessarily the church, but even if it is about the church, the focus of these scriptures is about the casting down of Satan, the accuser of the brethren. Satan has long been an accuser, and in the oldest book of the Bible, we see Satan accusing Job before God. The subject of the brethren doesn't intimate that they are at the time of this expression, located on the Earth.

On the other hand, Satan being cast down onto the Earth, is a fearful and dreadful thing to who? " . . . the inhabiters of the earth . . . " (occurs 2x in the book of Revelation). Another similar phrase is "they that dwell upon the earth (2x in Rev. 11:10)"

These both speak of residency, as in a permanent abode, whereas we look for a city whose Maker is God, our citizenship is in heaven, we are foreigners and strangers in this world, for we are not of this world.

In this verse, we have the only reference to Satan's wrath. There are ten explicit references to God's wrath in this book, only one reference to Satan's. God's wrath is towards all who have refused to receive His grace, and so they receive from God the wrath He has stored up ever since the beginning of rebellion, when Adam first rebelled, and all others who continued this rebellion and refused to receive God's grace and forgiveness. Satan's wrath is about how he will be humiliated because he was "cast down".

I submit that the time of tribulation therefore is about God's wrath and not Satan's, and since this Divine wrath is against all who reject Christ Jesus, it would seem unreasonable to presume the church, the bride of Christ, would suffer this judgment. (see Rom 1:18, Rom 2:5, Rom 5:9, Eph 2:3, Eph 5:6, and especially these two: 1 Th 1:10, 1 Th 5:9 )

NOT ALL SAINTS ARE CREATED 'EQUAL'

Rev 13:7-8 And it was given unto him (the Beast) to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.

Compare this will a parallel passage as found in Daniel:

Dan 7:21 I beheld, and the same horn (the Beast) made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;
In both passages it states that the Beast makes war with the saints, and overcomes or prevails against them. Certainly this is a proof of the church going through the tribulation!

Only if you presume that all saints are a part of the church; they are not! The Old Testament saints were certainly saved, as they had faith in the coming Messiah, and in the God of Israel that promised that the Son of David would establish His reign in Israel and over all the world!

Yet these saints were not born again: as mentioned previously in the other articles, this is a distinction that is granted to the church, and to the church alone, who would be indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Other saints would have the Spirit come 'upon' them, and by faith, they were saved. Yet they didn't have the Spirit of God residing within them, as the church does, even though to Israel, this promise was granted:

Jer 31:31-34
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:


But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.


And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.


Eze 36:26-27

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

Many people presume that the Old Testament ended with the book of Malachi, and certainly that was the end of Old Testament canon, but not the end of the Old Testament. Others believe it ended when Christ was offered up on the cross and His blood was shed for the sins of the world, and the veil in the Temple was torn from top to bottom (I believed this once myself).

Yet the very words of Christ specify when exactly the Old Testament ended. Remember that the Jews don't refer to the Old Testament as we do, they call it "the Law and the Prophets", and so when we read these verses:

Mat 11:13
For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.


Luk 16:16
The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.
We understand that the O.T. closed with John the Baptist. Remember what Jesus said of John, that of all men born of women, the greatest of these is John. Think about that statement and how profound that is! John the Baptist, in our LORD's estimation was greater than Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, Elijah, Elishah, David, Isaiah, Daniel, etc.!

Hear His words:

Mat 11:11
Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.


The least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist? Why?

Simply because the kingdom of heaven, comprises those who receive Jesus Christ as their LORD and Savior, thus they receive the promise of the new birth (which Israel would have partaken of, had they received Christ Jesus when He came to them as prophesied in Daniel 9), and become members of the body of Christ. So lofty and powerful a position, spiritually speaking, is the church, that not even the highest authorities of Satan's Kingdom, including Satan himself, his most powerful of demon-lords, the Beast, the False Prophet: the very gates of hell cannot prevail against His church:

Mat 16:18
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

So the saints that are overcome by the Beast are not the church, as we enjoy that position with Christ, being seated in the heavenlies . . .

Eph 2:6
And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:


The 144,000 in Revelation are saints, the two witnesses are saints, those Jews that have their eyes opened and understand that Y'shua is indeed Ha Meschiach are saints; those Gentiles who at that time, receive Jesus as Lord and Savior are saints. A saint is simply one who is sanctified, that is, set apart from the world and set apart for God in a special relationship. None of these groups will be born again as they exist apart from the church, the fulness of the Gentiles.

The book of Revelation is Daniel's 70th week, and that prophecy as given by Gabriel focuses on and is all about Israel!

Rev 14:12
Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.


Rev 16:6

For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy.


Rev 17:6

And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.


Rev 18:24

And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth.


In each of these passages, the term "saint" is used, and its a somewhat generic term, that can mean any one who is sanctifed by and for God, and this fits a broad catagory of all believers, from all ages, from which the church alone enjoys the exclusive relationship of being Christ's body, and the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

TWO RESURRECTIONS or MORE?

Many who deny the rapture as legitimate doctrine quote the verses that speak of a general resurrection, the resurrection of the just and that of the damned; others divide this into two seperate resurrections, but limit it to only these.

John 5:28-29
Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.


And yet, when was Christ raised from the dead? 2000 years ago? Would He be considered a part of the resurrection of the JUST?

Rev 1:5
And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
Col 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

And what of the two witnesses in Revelation? Would they not likewise be considered a part of the resurrection of the Just? For they were received up bodily into heaven. Yet they are raised up and received into God's presence 3.5 yrs prior to Christ's Return and the resurrections of the just and damned. And what of those who were raised from the dead along with Christ, and entered into Jerusalem? (see Matt 27:51-53)

Rather than seeing the resurrections of the JUST and the DAMNED as two EVENTS, it would seem that these are two different CATAGORIES, and in the first there are the different events of resurrection of those JUST ones, of whom Christ is the Ultimate example. Included in this then, would be the resurrection of those that sleep in Christ, and likewise those of us who remain and are alive as stated in 1 Thess. 4:16).

From Revelation ch. 3 and 4 then, up until chapter 19, there are no definitive characterisitics that can readily identify the church as being present on the Earth during Daniel's 70th week.

In closing this final part to this article, RAPTURE: The WHO and WHEN Of It All" it occurred to me that this blog may well remain 'online' after my departure, either in death (which could be today, who knows?) or at the rapture (that likewise could be today, when the last soul that God has foreknown completes the count of the Fulness of the Gentiles; only God knows that number, and He ain't tellin'!).

If the rapture occurs, and this blog remains, and you have been reading these articles, I would encourage you to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior! If you would like to know how I myself came to the LORD, use the search engine "Scope Out This MIND" found on this blog and type in "CAN I GET A WITNESS" and learn about how to receive salvation.

The fear of learning that you have been left behind will no doubt be so potent as it might seem to steal your breath away and overwhelm you with the terror of it all. You probably have no idea how you will ever manage to survive this time, and endure until the end.

Christ Jesus will bestow upon you His grace, and empowerment to face these challenges, and overcome them, just as the Word has stated:

Rev 12:11 And they overcame him (the beast) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.

I believe that even we, the church will face a most trialsome time, with persecution and hardships in these last days prior to Christ Jesus' Coming for us in the rapture. If we don't experience the rapture before this, I believe its certainty is unquestionable, therefore I would like to close this article with prayers for the church, and those who must endure the time of tribulation as described in both Daniel and Revelation:

FATHER, I pray to You in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and I ask you Father, please prepare Your children, the church, the body of Christ for that which is coming upon us. Open our eyes so that we may see, and understand the times in which we now live, and that the time is coming when we will have our faith tested by the forces of darkness, led by Satan and his instruments. I pray that you lead us Father, in Your wisdom, knowledge, grace, and most of all your Love; we are ambassadors for Christ's sake, and no human being, even those who might persecute and hate us are really our enemies; rather these are creatures lost in sin and spiritual blindness that You love, and would have them come to the knowledge of the Truth, and enter into salvation via the LORD Jesus Christ and His shed blood for their sins. May we manifest Your love for them; may we bless those that curse us, and love those that hate us, and let this be done only through the power of Your Spirit in us, Your yielded vessels. May we honor and bless you Father in this time of trial, and may it have its purifying effect in our lives; we long and yearn to hear You say to us, on that Day we see You face to face: "Well done, good and faithful servant!" And FATHER, for those who are left behind, once the rapture takes place: give them your grace and empowerment to endure this time ahead; let them be granted all boldness and holy conviction to stand resolutely for the Truth which is in Christ Jesus. Grant to them LORD, Your love, and peace, and joy; let them experience Your sheltering arms, and lead them Father in the way they are to go. Protect them and their loved ones, and bring them to Yourself on the appointed day, when they will rest in Your glorious presence. In the name of the LORD Jesus Christ, and in His name be all the glory and honor and power, AMEN!

yours in the battle, until then,

agape, grace & peace,

NIKAO AIONIOS AVRAS!

brother James Fire

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