Is the sort of faith we see in our country today agreeable to the Word of God?
If it's not, then don't you think it might be well worth sacrificing a little worldly comfort and prosperity during the short span of our existence in this life in return for a crown of eternal glory?"
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Walking With God
There Is No Rapture?
Every Christian has a story. This is mine.
Heavenly Father, I ask Your blessings on this small booklet. May Your Spirit reach into the hearts and souls of all who read it, and witness to the Truth it holds. May it prompt many to prepare themselves for whatever end You have decided for their lives. Let our faith in You reign over our fear of pain, suffering, and death. Let us boldly stand in the face of the coming terrors, that Your Name might be glorified and others might find strength in our witness. I ask this in Jesus' Name. Amen.
My story begins with Vatican II.
I was raised in a Roman Catholic heritage, greatly inspired by my devoted grandmother. When Vatican II sought to change major tenets of the faith, the devotion I learned from my grandmother led me to question their authority to do so.
I had never read a Bible, but I knew God was not so wishy-washy that He would suddenly change His mind on principles the church had previously said were carved in stone.
I decided to find out for myself what the Bible had to say...about everything.
Now I thank God for that moment, when I sought out the Truth on my own and stopped trusting in the words of any other Man.
In reality, this is the responsibility of every believer: to know for themselves what the Bible has to say about every day's matters.
It is not the responsibility of pastors, or lay leaders, magazine writers, radio and TV personas, musical or dramatic performers, or prominent Christian personalities to provide us with our doctrinal foundations. God holds each one of us responsible for looking past the obvious and delving into the meat of His Word and Spirit.
When we are standing before God, facing our own judgment, there will not be anyone else with us to justify what we have done, or not done, in our lives. We will stand or fall by our own merit.
With this small booklet I want to provoke you to search God's Word for yourself. I want you to make decisions on your own. By praying and seeking and listening for God's Voice, you will find the Truth.
No one can do this for you. You must find the answers for yourself... and that will require some time, desire, and commitment.
What If There Is No Rapture?
Today's church is so comfortable with the idea of a pre-Tribulation Rapture it neglects to admit the Bible does not specifically state any such reality. Other theories go unheeded in favor of this pleasant concept. Because of this tunnel vision, many are in danger of massive destruction through failure and disenchantment: hence, the Great Falling Away of II Thessalonians 2:3. I would like you to consider the verses I will be sharing with you so you can be prepared for another reality -- one as likely to happen as the expected Rapture prior to the Tribulation.
Let's begin with portions of Revelation 20 (all emphases mine):
And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand.
And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years,
And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first ressurection.
Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison,
And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.
And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
This single passage is a gold mine of Truth about the End Times and Judgment. It tells us there is a first resurrection of martyred souls, including those who bear the attributes of the Tribulation period:
Revelation 20:4 ...and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands.
It is in Revelation 13 that we find the information we need to verify this connection between the martyrs and the Tribulation:
Revelation 13:15-17 And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.
And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads:
And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
When we compare the information of Revelation 13 and 20 we can easily see that the first resurrection consists primarily of martyrs and that some of them are from what we call the Tribulation. Revelation 20 tells us these martyrs will be the priests of God and Christ in the heavenly realms.
We also see in Revelation 20 that ALL the souls which are not still alive are in the states of "death" and "hell" and will not be revived until after the 1000 year reign of the martyrs who are with Christ. They will be raised at the time of the Great White Throne Judgment. This is what God has told us through His Word. It cannot be more simple. Other portions of Scripture confirm what Revelation 20 easily defines about the dead, about martyrs, about the 1000 year reign, about hell, and about every man's judgment.
I know we have many comforting beliefs about what happens to us when we die, but we cannot pick and choose which Scriptures we want to believe. Neither can we make up our own versions. We must accept what the Word of God tells us. It is the Truth.
Let's take a look at what Revelation 7 tells us about these martyrs and the Tribulation:
Revelation 7:9-15 After this [the sealing of the 144,000] I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,
Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.
Revelation 7:16 continues with information about how these martyrs suffered during the Tribulation period:
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
If you haven't realized it yet, not being able to buy or sell will put every Christian and their family into the same position as the Israelites wandering through the wilderness, except we will have unbelievers chasing after us to kill us.
Everything you now possess will be abandoned for the hope of keeping your life just a little longer.
You will own only what you can carry, what you can wear, what you can pull. Your food will become whatever "manna" God provides for you on a day-to-day basis.
Your safety as the antichrist wages war on the saints will be in God's Hands. It will be a time of total faith or falling away...of choosing eternity in heaven or eternity in the Lake of Fire.
Revelation 6 adds even more fuel to the "martyrs only" theory of the 1000 year reign:
Revelation 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 another season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
The final judgments of the End Times are often referred to as the wrath of God. Revelation 6:17 reveals to us that the time of their deaths is during this "day of his wrath":
For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
It is very important for you to notice that throughout these passages white robes are linked with martyrdom, with coming out of the Great Tribulation, with being part of the first resurrection and reigning with Christ for the thousand years before the great White Throne Judgment, with being His priests, with not being found in the states of Death or Hell, and with having endured enormous suffering for adherence to the gospel of Christ.
Now I must share with you portions of Revelation 12. For those of you who do not believe there is a spiritual war going on, this tells us that we have an enemy, and he is real.
Revelation 12:7-10 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
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.
The next verse, Revelation 12:11, tells us how these saints overcame the enemy:
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.
As we face the trials of the End Times, this will be the most important piece of information we can have. It may be the one verse that will keep us from falling away. Our salvation is by the Blood of Christ, and our testimony of that salvation is our key into heaven. We must be true to the very end. It seems better to me to die courageously, with Christ's Name unspotted on our lips, than to shrink in fear and lose our salvation, only to die anyway. Our enemies will not embrace us if we so easily betray our Savior. Betraying Jesus will simply show them that a little pain and suffering will lead us to betray them as well.
Even harder than our own suffering and deaths will be the torment of watching others suffer and die, especially those we love. I have heard and read stories about other martyrs and the memory of their lives has encouraged me each time I think about having to face such a prospect.
It has never been easy for anyone who has been forced to stand for what they believe in. We cannot expect it to be any different for us. Instead, we need to start now to strengthen our spiritual stamina. Only the deepest faith, hope, and knowledge will be able to sustain us. We must teach ourselves to keep our eyes on the higher priority. I hope we all make God proud of us when the time comes. I think some of us will be surprised by our faith as we face our own truth. The Bible doesn't paint the kindest picture for our future, but there is always the possibility we may be the one to reach a lost soul.
I do not believe American Christians have a faith that can meet the challenge of such great persecution and death. It grieves my soul to consider the consequences. It is this sorrow that compels me to write these hard words, hoping and praying that they will begin the process of change that must take place. Knowledge, preparation, and a real acceptance of God's Truth about the coming trials will help us go from here to heaven, while doing nothing almost certainly guarantees that we will fall to the schemes of the evil one.
God is sovereign, even through suffering and death. The pain we face may seem enormous to us, but it is miniscule in relation to eternal consequences.
Finally, you must remember there is more than one idea about how God plans to orchestrate the final days of our existence. Make sure you know them all so you can be prepared for whatever God has planned, not what men have decided is the right interpretation.
It is my belief that the lack of a massive rapture before the onset of the Tribulation will create a lack of faith in what God's leaders have to say about anything...and people, who already cannot bear to suffer the slightest discomfort, will race to receive the mark of the beast, ignoring what that portion of the Bible clearly states.
I believe this will be "the great falling away," which must occur before the antichrist is fully revealed.
I have given you these bits of information because I want you to realize you may not be safely raptured away from the suffering ahead. I want you to be ready in your head and in your heart to stand with God no matter what will come. Only then will you be able to claim the prize of eternity in heaven, with Him.
Is it possible we will be raptured away? Certainly! Anything is possible because God did not plainly say what was going to happen. There are no "Rapture Commandments."
Do I believe we will be saved from the horrors of the Tribulation period simply because we happen to exist at that period of time? No. Not only do I see a different story in the words of Scripture, I have never seen one story of God saving anyone from the trials of standing firm for Christ, all the way to the grave, if needed.
If God did not even spare His Son or the Apostles, why should we think He is going to spare us?
If anything, I see more evidence for the theory that says what we call the Tribulation is separated into two distinct portions. In Revelation 20 we plainly read that Satan is bound after the Tribulation deaths and let loose after the 1000-year reign of Christ with the white-robed martyrs.
You must find your own answers.
It is by your personal beliefs you will stand or fall at the time of your final judgment. After you discover what you believe, or on your way to that destination, share your knowledge with those you love. They will need to be prepared also. Then tell the rest of the world. It is our duty to warn the lost of this impending peril or their blood will be on our souls at judgment time.
Only God knows every detail of the End Time process, but He has shared His heart and mind with us through the Bible. We can study it for ourselves and seek His guidance in what to do to prepare for that time.
I pray my few words will send you scurrying for a wide range of opinions, starting with your Bible, concordance, and library, and continuing with your friends, a wide variety of pastors and Bible study leaders, and any other resources God leads you to investigate.
May God be with you as you seek His Truth on this very important topic. Trust Him. He will not lie to you.
"The question still remains: Is the sort of faith we see in our country today agreeable to the Word of God? If it's not, then don't you think it might be well worth sacrificing a little worldly comfort and prosperity during the short span of our existence in this life in return for a crown of eternal glory?"
William Wilberforce, 1759-1833 AD