THE STATE OF THE CHURCH IS BAD, BUT REVIVAL THEN RAPTURE IS SOON.
Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost, when he quoted Joel, that they were already in "the last days". Peter said: "This is that." (Joel 2:28-29, Acts 2:16-18) So, if Joel prophesied that these things would happen in the "last days", and Peter said that "this was that" which Joel had prophesied --- then Peter was saying that the last days had consummated already on that Day of Pentecost.
Thus we are still in the "last days," and we live now in the "last days of the last days." What we are now experiencing, and have been since that Day of Pentecost, is the "first fruits" of what is yet to come.
"But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come."
To many today, prophecy is something in the future, but to the early church, prophecy was present and happening. Revival is occurring today when saints realize that they are currently part of the fulfillment of prophecy.
John the Baptist preached that the "kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:1-2). Jesus heard that John was thrown into prison, and Jesus began to preach, and His first sermon was "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:12-17). We are currently in this kingdom. our souls have already tasted the firstfruits of this kingdom, and soon our bodies will experience the consummation of the kingdom (at the rapture).
"And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit."
The rapture of the church is the time we long to see, for the consummation of what we have only experienced the beginnings will then occur. We should be excited and anxious for the rapture.
Many so-called saints are not awaiting the rapture, but are seeking carnal prosperity, money, position, wealth, etc. They are waiting for their ship to come in.
We, the saints, are to be waiting for our cloud (the one that Jesus is coming on) to come.
We should be looking for the rapture with greater excitement than those who are seeking prosperity on earth. We should be enjoying this revival because it reminds us constantly that we are on the verge of its consummation, the rapture!
Revival is needed to bring the church to the place God wants it to be at the rapture. After all God has already done for us, the church is still:
"bumps on a log" Christians,
"depressed, discouraged" Christians.
The church needs stirred. These are the last days. The rapture is near. There is much work to be done. There are "loved ones" to be saved. God is readying the church for the rapture with this revival of the last days.
"That He might present it (the church) to Himself, a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy, and without blemish."
The latter rain revival is already in progress. The former rain revival came when the church was just beginning. It was like the spring rains that get the seed started. Now we are nearing the harvest of the church, and the church needs the fall rains that finish ripening the crop. If you are not in revival now--you have only yourself to blame. For God wants you to be in revival, the Holy Spirit is trying to revive you, and Jesus is anxious to return for a spotless church.
"He shall come unto thee as the rain, the former and the latter rain unto the earth."
"Ask ye of the Lord rain, in the time of the latter rain."
The latter rain revival will be much like the former rain revival. The fresh, latter rain outpouring of the Spirit began around the turn of the century. The message has been going out with boldness. Opposition has been getting stronger. And as the world felt the impact of the early church, the world is feeling the impact of the church. The power of God is present to heal and save wherever the gospel is preached.
A "double portion" time is coming soon.
"For He hath given you the former rain moderately, and He will cause to come down for you the rain, the former and the latter rain in the first month, And the floors shall be full of wheat, and the fats shall overflow with wine and oil."
So, according to Joel, in one month (Nisan is the first month, and many think this will be the month that the double portion will occur) the Lord will give a double portion of revival. The church will see many saved, miraculous healings, and a revival that the world has never seen before.
To see this type of blessing, the church needs to be purged of "what" and "who" have hindered that kind of revival in the church.
I Peter 4:17
"For the time is come that judgment (krima=damnation) must begin at the house of God."
The world will see its judgment during the tribulation. But before God deals with the world, He will first judge His church. In the church there are BACKBITERS, GOSSIPERS, FAULTFINDERS, CRITICIZERS, TROUBLEMAKERS, OFFENDERS. God will soon sever these out of the church. The "tares" mentioned in Matthew 13 come from the Greek word "zizania" which refers to a plant that looks just like the wheat until the harvest time, when its ears become black instead of white. Each "zizania" must be removed or it spoils the harvest by making the bread made from the wheat to be bitter, and even poisonous. These tares are severed from the wheat by the angels before the wheat is gathered into the garners. Likewise, a harvest of tares in the church will precede the rapture of the church. After that harvest of tares, the church will be able to have the double portion revival it has long desired.
The devil knows this great revival is coming and he is doing his best to ripen the tares--while God is trying to ripen the wheat. The devil has always tried to ruin revival with some of his own, -within the camp of the saints.
Judas sold out Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Money had become more important, at least temporarily, to Judas. The devil is also trying to get many to sell out for money in these last days. Too many in the church are awaiting their "ship" to come in, and not concerned about the "cloud" soon to come in...
In the book of Revelation, the Lord described the predominant revival church of the last days as the "Philadelphian" church of chapter 3:7-13. This is the congregation that is promised the "open door," which represents the rapture. They are the congregations of the last days that have "works," "a little strength," and have "kept" the Word of the Lord, and have "not denied" the name of the Lord. They are the congregations that are waiting for the cloud to come in.
It is difficult, and will become more difficult in these last days to continue the proper "works." It is also hard to keep strong, with all the attacks of the persecutors. To keep the "Word" of the Lord, while the pressure is exerted to forsake the truth and ignore some of God's commandments is extremely unpopular today. If we would do any of those things, we would be DENYING the name and purpose of the Lord. So we must stand against abortion, and against homosexuality, and against sexual permissiveness, and hold fast to the whole gospel.
In the description of the congregation of Philadelphia, Jesus reveals that in this congregation there are liars (3:9), who are of the synagogue of Satan. How do such people get into a congregation? The Bible tells us that the devil sows them to hinder the body of Christ (Matthew 13). We must beware of false doctrine, and false teaching. Some would like to hinder our witness. Some would want our concern on money or popularity. It is so easy to heed those doctrines today. Many have fallen into that trap and need awakened before it is too late.
There is a great REVIVAL to be enjoyed in these last days. You can have part in this revival, if you so desire. You must shake off all the fear that the devil has tried to put on many Christians. You must resist the pressures and threats of the government and the media. You must get on your knees and humble yourselves to the Lord. You must say to Him --"What would YOU want me to do ?" Then expect God to show you His power.
"BEHOLD, I COME QUICKLY; HOLD THOU FAST WHICH THOU HAST, THAT NO MAN TAKE THY CROWN."
"HE THAT HATH EAR TO HEAR, LET HIM HEAR WHAT THE SPIRIT SAITH UNTO THE CHURCHES."
RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH
Many ask, "Where is the promise of His coming ?" These scoffers doubt and mock the idea of the rapture of the church. Others say, "Why study it ? There are too many different opinions." Some will say it is too speculative. Some just want to recite all the different ideas, leave everyone confused, and draw no conclusions on the rapture.
Scoffers have done their work. They have brought into a great portion of the church--
--about the rapture.
God did not intend for Christians to be confused, apathetic, or ignorant.
He means for us to have knowledge, awareness, and an anxiousness for the rapture.
I Thessalonians 5:4-5
"BUT YE, BRETHREN, ARE NOT IN DARKNESS, THAT THAT DAY SHOULD OVERTAKE YOU AS A THIEF. YE ARE ALL THE CHILDREN OF LIGHT, AND THE CHILDREN OF THE DAY: WE ARE NOT OF THE NIGHT, NOR OF DARKNESS."
Some have often quoted the verse that says that we won't know the "day nor the hour." They have used it to keep others from talking about when the Lord may come. God never intended for us to not study and know about the time of His Son's return.
Consider the verse:
"BUT OF THAT DAY (Greek = hemera, a 24 hour day, or from dawn to eve) AND THAT HOUR (Greek = hora, a short part of a day) KNOWETH NO MAN, NO NOT THE ANGELS IN HEAVEN, NEITHER THE SON, BUT THE FATHER. TAKE YE HEED, WATCH AND PRAY..."
There is reason that we cannot know the day, nor the hour. The earth is round, and if the Lord had said He were coming "at noon," there are some places on this round earth that it is past noon and they would say--"You are late." And at the same moment, others could say when He came--"You are early." The same is true for the day, since somewhere on this earth it is already tomorrow. If the Lord had promised to come today, some would already be saying "He is late."
In the passage about the "day" and "hour", you will note in verses 33 to 37, that four times the command is given to "watch." If this passage were intended to make us give up trying to ascertain the time of the Lord's coming, then why are we commanded to "watch" four times in the same passage ? The answer is that the Lord does want us to be aware, and to know the nearness of His coming. We are given signs to watch for; we are told to "look up" when we see certain signs occur, knowing these signs indicate a soon return of our Lord. We are also told signs that will indicate the "generation" in which the Lord will return.
"VERILY I SAY UNTO YOU, THAT THIS GENERATION SHALL NOT PASS, TILL ALL THESE THINGS BE DONE."
Jesus will soon return. His coming will be in two stages.
The first part is called the RAPTURE.
It will occur before the tribulation judgments are sent by God upon the earth. In the rapture, the Lord Jesus will secretly catch away His saints.
The second stage of the Lord's coming is called the SECOND COMING.
In this part, Jesus will return with the saints from heaven and begin to rule and reign on this earth for a thousand years.
In the RAPTURE He comes FOR His saints. In the SECOND COMING, He comes WITH His saints. Just as in the first coming of our Lord to earth, a time period of 33 years was spanned. In the next coming of our Lord, a time period of 7 years will be spanned.
THE RAPTURE PREDICTED
"AFTER THIS, I LOOKED AND BEHOLD, A DOOR WAS OPENED IN HEAVEN AND THE FIRST VOICE WHICH I HEARD WAS AS IT WERE A TRUMPET TALKING WITH ME, WHICH SAID, 'COME UP HITHER !'"
I Thessalonians 4:15-17
"WE WHICH ARE ALIVE AND REMAIN UNTO THE COMING OF THE LORD SHALL NOT PRECEDE THEM THAT ARE ASLEEP (dead)--FOR THE LORD HIMSELF SHALL DESCEND WITH A SHOUT (Rev. 4:1), WITH THE VOICE OF THE ARCHANGEL, AND THE TRUMP OF GOD, AND THE DEAD IN CHRIST SHALL RISE FIRST, AND THEN WE WHICH ARE ALIVE AND REMAIN SHALL BE CAUGHT UP (Greek = harpadzo, to catch away out of harm's way) TOGETHER WITH THEM IN THE CLOUDS TO MEET THE LORD IN THE AIR, AND SO SHALL WE EVER BE WITH THE LORD."
"WATCH YE THEREFORE AND PRAY ALWAYS THAT YE MAY BE ACCOUNTED WORTHY TO ESCAPE ALL THESE THINGS THAT SHALL COME TO PASS AND TO STAND BEFORE THE SON OF MAN."
I Corinthians 15:51-52
"BEHOLD, I SHOW YOU A MYSTERY, WE SHALL NOT ALL SLEEP (die), BUT WE SHALL ALL BE CHANGED. IN A MOMENT, IN A TWINKLING OF AN EYE, AT THE LAST TRUMP--FOR THE TRUMP SHALL SOUND (Rev. 4:1, I Thess. 4:15-17) AND THE DEAD SHALL BE RAISED INCORRUPTIBLE, AND WE SHALL BE CHANGED."
II Thessalonians 2:1
"NOW WE BESEECH YOU BRETHREN, BY THE COMING OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AND BY OUR GATHERING TOGETHER UNTO HIM."
II Thessalonians 2:7-8
"...HE THAT LETTETH (hinders) WILL LET (hinder) UNTIL HE BE TAKEN OUT OF THE WAY, AND THEN SHALL THAT WICKED ONE BE REVEALED."
I Thessalonians 5:9
"FOR GOD HATH NOT APPOINTED US TO WRATH."
Judaism speaks of the doctrine of the woes of the Messiah. They call this the:
"hebh e le hamashiah".
These "woes" that they have expected before the coming of the Messiah were reiterated by Jesus the Messiah, and by the early church often. The same phrase is used by Jesus in Matthew 24:6 and Mark 13:8. The early church made allusions to it in I Corinthians 7:26, and in I Thessalonians 3:3, and 5:3.
We look for these signs as anticipatory to the rapture and the second coming. The coming of Jesus our Messiah will be sudden, unexpected, but heralded by the signs. The rapture is just one of the signs of the second coming, and we have seen other signs already fulfilled.
The signs for the coming of the Lord that are given us in the Word of God--all point to the second stage of His coming. They point to the SECOND COMING, not to the RAPTURE. Thus, when we see these things "begin to come to pass," we are told to "look up" for the signs point to the part of His coming that is seven years after the event we want so much to see -- THE RAPTURE.
At one point in His earthly ministry, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees, who knew the Holy Scriptures, yet did not recognize Him as the Messiah, and did not know it was time for His coming. (Matthew 16:1-4) Yet, there are seven times more Scriptures for the second coming of Jesus that there are for the first coming. So if the Lord were angered by their lack of understanding of the times--how much more is He disturbed by those who do not know when it is the time of His coming ?
There are a number of Greek words that are translated to describe the rapture.
HARPADZO =to be caught away, out of harms way by force
EKPHUGEIN = To escape away from a dreaded person or thing
APOLUTROSIS = to take unto oneself a valued object
All three of these indicate that the rapture would be BEFORE the thing raptured can be harmed. For this and a number of other reasons, I believe the rapture is before the tribulation. For if the Lord were going to come in the middle of the tribulation, or at the end, why would He use words that indicate He will catch us away out of harm's way.
If a truck were bearing down toward you, and I saw it coming, and said: "Don't worry, I will snatch you out of harm's way." Do you want me to do it:
Obviously, you would want it to be "pre-truck", and if the Lord is going to take us "out of harm's way", it would be "PRE-TRIB."
In the prophecy of Daniel, seventy sevens of years are given to Israel. Sixty nine of those have occurred, and the last seven of years is yet to occur. When the Lord has finished dealing with the Gentile church, He will again deal with the nation of Israel for seven years. This is the 70th week of Daniel, that we commonly call "the tribulation." Why should the church remain here for the Lord's final dealing with Israel ?
There is no mention of the church in the tribulation. Israel and other nations are mentioned. The reason is that we, as Christians, may suffer the persecution of the world now; yet, in the tribulation, the judgments are the wrath of God--and we should not suffer His wrath.
The promise to the congregation of Philadelphia is:
"I WILL KEEP THEE FROM THE HOUR OF TEMPTATION, WHICH SHALL BE UPON ALL THE WORLD TO TRY THEM THAT DWELL ON THE EARTH."
The tribulation is a time of wrath on an ungodly world, on an apostate church that missed the rapture, and on a backslidden Israel. We, the true church, are "NOT APPOINTED UNTO WRATH." (I Thessalonians 5:9) We are to be "delivered from the wrath to come."
I Thessalonians 1:10
"TO WAIT FOR HIS SON FROM HEAVEN...WHICH DELIVERED US FROM THE WRATH TO COME."
In the Scriptures, types are used to illustrate the picture of the rapture which was to be fully revealed later. In the rapture of Enoch, it came before the judgment of the flood. In the story of Lot and his family, they were delivered before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. These show that the nature of God is to deliver His own, before He pours out His wrath. The rapture of the church precedes the tribulation.
The Bible teaches us that the Antichrist will not be revealed until the church is removed from the earth.
II Thessalonians 2:6-8
"HE THAT LETTETH (hinders) WILL LET (hinder), UNTIL HE BE TAKEN OUT OF THE WAY. AND THEN SHALL THAT WICKED (one) BE REVEALED."
Some have argued that the "he" of the verse does not refer to the "church," because the church is the "bride of Christ."
However, the church is not referred to by feminine pronouns, is not symbolized by a woman, and is not the "bride of Christ."(See Rev. 21:9-10) The church is called a "man" in Ephesians 2:15, 4:13. Also the church is called the "body of Christ" in I Corinthians 12:12-13, 27, Ephesians 1:22-23, and Colossians 1:18, 24. So it is most appropriate to refer to the church as "he."
The church is the only "hinderer" of lawlessness that will be taken out of the world before the tribulation. The Holy Spirit will remain on the earth since there will be people being saved during most of the tribulation.( John 14:16, Acts 2:16-21, Rev. 12:17, with 19:10, Zechariah 12:10 to 13:1)
In Revelation 4:1, the words "after these things" is the Greek "meta tauta" which means that the rest of the book deals with the things that will occur after the church ages described in chapters 2 and 3.
The words "church" and "churches" occur 19 times in chapters 1 to 3 of Revelation. Yet after the "open door" of Revelation 4:1, the words "church" and "churches" do not occur once in the book of Revelation. This is because the church has been raptured before the tribulation begins.
The 24 elders of Revelation 4 and 5, have crowns on their heads. They represent the church and Old Testament saints. No one receives their crown until we all receive them on the day of the rapture. Paul testified to this in:
II Timothy 4:8
"HENCEFORTH THERE IS LAID UP FOR ME A CROWN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, WHICH THE LORD, THE RIGHTEOUS JUDGE, SHALL GIVE ME AT THAT DAY, AND NOT TO ME ONLY, BUT UNTO ALL THEM THAT LOVE HIS APPEARING."
After chapters 4 and 5 of Revelation, there is a marked change in the attitude of the Lord toward the world. In chapters 1 to 3, it is MERCY. In chapters 6 to 19, God's attitude is one of JUDGMENT. The change occurs when His saints are called home, so He may begin pouring out His wrath on the world.
Who will go in the rapture of the church ? The Bible does give certain qualifications for those to be raptured.
1. BE "IN CHRIST"
I Thessalonians 4:14-16
"EVEN SO THEM ALSO WHICH SLEEP IN JESUS WILL GOD BRING WITH HIM...DEAD IN CHRIST WILL RISE FIRST."
II Corinthians 5:17
"IF ANY MAN BE IN CHRIST, HE IS A NEW CREATURE."
2. BE PURE (by Christ's righteousness)
I John 3:2-3
"WHEN HE SHALL APPEAR, WE SHALL BE LIKE HIM FOR WE WILL SEE HIM AS HE IS AND EVERY MAN THAT HATH THIS HOPE IN HIM, PURIFIES HIMSELF."
"THAT HE MIGHT PRESENT IT TO HIMSELF A GLORIOUS CHURCH, NOT HAVING SPOT OR WRINKLE, OR ANY SUCH THING--BUT THAT IT SHOULD BE HOLY AND WITHOUT BLEMISH."
In Revelation chapters 4 and 5, John is shown a vision of the events in the throne room of God on the day of the rapture. This is a striking picture that can overwhelm one as they read and see and feel the joy of the saints as we worship our Lord on that first day in heaven.
The throne is the center of John's attention. All he sees at first is the throne, and then slowly he begins to see what is near the throne and working his vision outward, he finally sees all the saints that are gathered there to honor the Lord and the Father. John was "in the spirit" viewing what would happen several thousand years later.
"BEHOLD, A THRONE (mentioned 40 times in Scripture and always refers to a literal seat) WAS SET IN HEAVEN, AND ONE SAT (God, as a Person, can sit on a literal throne) ON THE THRONE, HE WAS TO LOOK UPON AS A JASPER (semi-transparent, greenish, called plasma today) AND A SARDINE STONE (ruby). THERE WAS A RAINBOW (multitude of colors) ROUND ABOUT THE THRONE, IN SIGHT LIKE UNTO AN EMERALD (green)....OUT OF THE THRONE PROCEEDED LIGHTNINGS, AND THUNDERINGS, AND VOICES; AND THERE WERE SEVEN LAMPS OF FIRE (symbolic of the Holy Spirit, for the Spirit will be literally on the earth convicting sinners and saving souls) BURNING BEFORE THE THRONE, WHICH ARE THE SEVEN SPIRITS OF GOD. ("seven" denotes fullness and perfection)."
Around the throne were seated 24 elders. (Rev. 4:4,10,5:8, 14) These were on thrones and had victor's crowns, priestly robes, and had harps, and golden bowls of incense. Who are these 24 elders? This can be best understood by looking in the Bible for the answer. In the book of I Chronicles chapter 24, we find there were 24 elders appointed by David to represent the Levitical priesthood. Each of the 24 were to lead a division of the priesthood. Each division would serve at the tabernacle, and later, at the temple for a two week period. So the 24 elders in Revelation represent the whole priestly house. In heaven, we will probably serve in the throne room periodically as the priesthood of the Old Testament period. The 24 are wearing crowns, so they are not angels. No saint wears a crown until the rapture (II Timothy 4:8), so this is a post rapture vision for John. The word "elder" is presbyteros. It is never used to refer to angels, only mankind. The angels are always distinct from the elders (Rev. 5:11). The elders are wearing "white raiment", and only Christ and the saints are seen in white raiment in Revelation 3:5, 18, 6:11, 7:9,13, 15:6, 19:8-14. One of the elders identifies himself after escorting John through the revelation (Rev. 5:5-7, 7:13-15, 19:10, 22:8-9) He sang a song of the redeemed (5:8-9). He rejected worship and said: Revelation 19:10 "I AM ...OF THY BRETHREN." So these elders are the heads of the 24 divisions of the whole body of the saints in heaven. Who they are individually is unknown. Perhaps some of the positions are still open for application !
The saints will finally recognize their full purpose. There in heaven we will finally truly realize that we were created to give our God pleasure. Down here, too many "saints" think that God was created to give us pleasure.
"THE 24 ELDERS FALL DOWN BEFORE HIM THAT SAT ON THE THRONE, AND WORSHIP HIM THAT LIVETH FOREVER AND EVER, AND CAST THEIR CROWNS BEFORE THE THRONE SAYING: 'THOU ART WORTHY TO RECEIVE GLORY, AND HONOR, AND POWER, FOR THOU HAST CREATED ALL THINGS AND FOR THY PLEASURE THEY ARE AND WERE CREATED.'"
It is the rapture that will soon transport us to the scene in Revelation 4, and 5. We long for this event to occur. There are many ideas about when it will occur.
Already, I have shown why I believe it to be a pre-trib rapture. Some feel it will be a mid-trib rapture. Some others favor post-trib rapture. One of the main reasons for the confusion is the fact that there are five raptures in the first resurrection. Some scriptures are confused with the rapture of the church that really refer to the rapture of another group.
The five raptures of the first resurrection are these:
1. Christ and many saints were raptured after His resurrection. This was the "first fruits" of the rapture.
(I Cor. 15:20,23, Matt. 27:52-53, Eph. 4:8-10)
2. They that are Christ's at His coming (the church).
(I Cor. 15:23,51-54, John 14:1-3, Lk. 21:34-36, I Thess. 4:16- 17)
3. 144,000 Jews that are saved soon after the tribulation begins and minister for 3 1/2 years and are then raptured.
(Rev. 7:1-8, 12:5, 14:1-5)
4. The tribulation saints (those saved after the rapture who give their lives for the Lord are finally resurrected and brought to heaven so all the saints are present at the marriage supper of the Lamb)
(Rev. 6:1,9-11, 7:9-17, 15:2-4)
5. The two witnesses of the tribulation are raptured after they are killed, lie dead in the streets of Jerusalem for three days, then they are resurrected and raptured to heaven while startled enemies watch.
The church should anxiously look forward to the revival of the last days. The culmination of the revival will be the rapture of the church to heaven and to the throne room scene of Revelation 4 and 5. Our duty now is to make the church what Christ wanted it to be. We need to get our cell ministries in full gear. We need to be ready for the harvest of tares. The church needs warning. The church needs awakened. The congregations need tear-stained altars again. The hope of the rapture should inspire us to the fortitude to do the work of God.
I Corinthians 16:22
"MARANATHA (the Lord cometh)."
Are you waiting for the Lord Jesus to come in the clouds?
I have been awaiting the rapture for a long time. I had hoped to be a part of it, but perhaps the Lord will take me home sooner than that, either way is fine. The SOONER THE BETTER. The rapture is soon though, we are in the last days of the last days. Hang on, just a short time to go. The ‘cloud’ that Jesus comes in, will soon arrive.
We shall soon be standing face to face with Jesus !