by Terry James
While those who truly grasp the lateness of the hour and what the issues and events of these strange, troubled times mean, there is the overwhelming majority that hasn’t a clue. This is neither surprising nor unexpected, because the vast part of the world’s population is in spiritual darkness–without Christ, therefore without the Holy Spirit to guide thinking and comportment.
There are millions upon millions of others who are within Christendom–that is, who claim to be under the umbrella of Christianity. Most of these, statistics bear out, would not qualify as “Christian” under the definition of being “born again.” That is, they haven’t truly “believed” as given in Romans 10:9-10:
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”
It is not my place–nor the place of any other person to say who is and isn’t “saved” on an individual basis. However, we are to definitely hold to what the Bible tells us are the qualifications for becoming a child of God who will spend eternity with Him in Heaven. In the sense of discernment, we can say that those who hold to those biblical qualifications are “saved” and those who do not hold to those qualifications are not.
We will deal in this essay with those who fit within the category defined by the above prescription for being born again. I would like to get even more specific.
Among those who are truly born again, there are many views of how things will play out, prophetically speaking. At the same time, there are also many who don’t know and many who don’t care about prophecy–what God has foretold about their future. They are too busy living out their increments of life one heartbeat and breath at a time.
Sadly, the latter by far constitute the majority. That is, most don’t know about Bible prophecy, and most don’t care. They are aided and abetted in their willful ignorance by the pastors and Bible teachers within their church bodies in this disregard for the prophetic portion of God’s Word. That prophetic Word is almost one-third of the Scripture the Lord has given us through His Love Letter to mankind.
Even more specifically, I want to concentrate for the moment on the doctrine of the Rapture of the Church–that twinkling of an eye moment Paul wrote about as recorded in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:52-55.
Of those who have truly been born again, there are few in number who know about the Rapture in concrete terms or who grasp that there will come that moment of being called into Heaven by their Lord. In America, even those who do understand that the Rapture is an event prophetically scheduled according to the Bible resist embracing the promise intrinsic within the doctrine of that imminent call from Christ. That is, rather than desire to hear Christ’s call, “Come up here,” (Revelation 4: 1) these want to first live life on earth and fulfill all of the anticipated pleasures it offers. It is primarily this group of believers to whom I address the thoughts that follow.
Notice, please, that I wrote as a qualifier, “in America.. It is in America that this attitude of not embracing the Rapture among Christians is most pronounced. Proof of that statement is made clear through the thousands upon thousands of sermons that are preached each week. The number of prophetic messages amongst those thousands of sermons are infinitesimal. People don’t want to hear that Christ’s call is imminent. The pastors–in overwhelming numbers–demonstrate that they don’t want to delve into that portion of Bible truth–even if, indeed, they in fact believe that the Rapture is an imminent event.
Not desiring the Rapture is, for American believers, as natural as breathing. Life in the United States is not bad, and for the most part, pretty comfortable. Compared to living as a Christian in, say, the Middle East, Africa, or other parts of the world, being a Christian requires that no heavy price be paid. That is what I mean when I say it is as natural as breathing.
Christians in America, unlike their counterparts in less blessed, heavily oppressed, persecuted parts of the world, rather than worrying about whether they will be able to provide food for themselves and their children for the day, look forward to their upcoming marriages, vacations, or new purchases that will satisfy their latest comfortable lifestyle aspirations. These physical and psychological wants and needs are the natural outflow from abundance. Longing for the Rapture is a spiritual–supernatural–exercise that requires, for most, effort that seems to offer no tangible, immediate gratification. Such effort is just too taxing for most of America’s Christians and their pastors. It takes them out of their comfort zone, much as does prayer and Bible reading.
When American Christians in this category do think of the Rapture–which, again, they in fact believe is a thing that will happen, but somewhere in the hazy years of the future–they fear it will take them away from the pleasures of this earthly life. That event will, they think, snatch them from their comfortable American lifestyle. It will present a completely changed paradigm–one that will cause them to lose homes, family closeness, friendships, other relationships, and their “stuff”–all of which provides familiarity and pleasure.
This is especially true among the younger people. Their disinterest in prophecy in general and in the Rapture of the church in particular is more than obvious in the make-up of prophecy conferences. I can’t see any longer, due to a retinal disease, but am told that the conferences are almost without exception attended nearly exclusively by those with gray hair.
Now, I’ve been perhaps too harsh on Christians in America. However, we are approaching the very end of this Church Age. The perhaps overly stern exhortation is to focus attention on the reality that we might within months, weeks, days, or even hours, look our Lord in His holy, omniscient eyes. He said He was going to prepare a place for us and would come again and take us there with Him (John 14:1-3). That “place” is something we can’t even begin to fathom in its wonders and luxuriant surroundings.
All of the relationships in this life we thought we might lose in the Rapture will be magnified in their joy and intimacy a million times over. We are going to find that all earthly treasures we so valued are as refuse compared to things the Lord has prepared for those that love Him.
I sense that the newlywed couple who belong to Christ will find their relationship with each other dazzlingly more intimate than anything planet earth could have nurtured. The “stuff” left behind will be instantly forgotten when we behold the heavenly treasury that holds us spellbound. The best days of our lives in this earthly confinement will seem as a time of terrible, debilitating paralysis. The Rapture will instantaneously bring life unencumbered by gravity and all laws of what we know as physics.
The Lord put us here to enjoy the many good things He provides. There’s nothing wrong in living life to its absolute fullest. But, this is not our home. We are but travelers in a foreign land. We are here for, at best, 70, 80, 90, or 100 years, then we slip these surly bonds.
We, as God’s children, should not resist the doctrine of Rapture, but anticipate that glorious instant when the whole purpose of our being born into this universe reaches fruition. We will at that incomprehensible moment understand what it means to be joint heirs with Christ.
Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!