THE DISTINCTION OF THE SAINTS (Part 9)

When I first began studying end time events I could not distinguish between the rapture and the Second Advent. I had heard discussions and read points of view proving one or the other, that is, the pre-tribulation and the post- tribulation positions, but I never really considered the possibility that it might be both. In other words, part of the Church, or those who were ready would be taken, but those saints who were unprepared would go through the tribulation before being harvested in the Second Advent, along with many others who would either be saved and/or martyred during the great tribulation. Then I discovered some treasured teachings from old time Pentecostal men that revealed aspects of truths contained in both interpretations. It took me years of sorting it all out, and I’m still learning, but here’s one clue that greatly helped me.

Read Mat 24:36-51. As often is in Scripture, there is a two-fold application here. At the rapture the first-fruit saints will go and the tribulation saints will be left behind. At the Second Advent, when the Lord comes for the elect at the end of the tribulation period (Mat 24:29-31), the tribulation saints will be taken, but the impenitent will be left for judgment. This parable Jesus told applies equally well in both cases.
Here is another clue we referred to in an earlier blog that establishes a precedent.

“Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised…” (Mat 27:51-52)

When Jesus was resurrected, notice that there was also a first-fruits resurrection of many Old Testament saints. Not all were resurrected, but many were. Is it possible that this could establish a pattern for a first-fruits resurrection of New Testament saints? It is definitely something to seriously consider.

The apostle Paul himself when writing about the resurrection stated that every man would be resurrected in his own order (1 Cor 15:22-23).

“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the first-fruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.”

Christ is listed as the first-fruits, but if every man is resurrected in his own order, He could not possibly be all the first-fruits. If the translators had just placed a comma after Christ this short text would read very differently. Bible scholars know that punctuation marks are not inspired, but the translators placed them where they thought best.

It is rather clear from the Scriptures that there are different orders and degrees of glory among the redeemed. There are varying ranks and positions among the saints in the resurrection and throughout eternity (Mat 19:28; 20:20-21). Those who are wise and turn many to righteousness will shine brightly like the firmament and stars above (Dan 12:3). Not every saint will be granted the same rewards, honors and privileges.

For example, in Rev 14:1-5 we see one of the highest orders of saints in eternity who receive the honor of following the Lamb wherever He goes. They are called the first-fruits unto God and sing a new song that no one else could sing. They were not defiled with women and are called virgins, denoting the purity of this special group.

As far back as the antediluvian days we see a type and shadow of a pre-tribulation saint in the person of Enoch who is taken or raptured by God before the flood. Then Noah, representing a tribulation saint, gathers his household and the animals into the Ark before the judgment of the Lord is unleashed through the great flood, which is a type and shadow of the wrath of God being poured out during the great and terrible Day of the Lord.

Noah and his household were raised up in the Ark (a type of the coming of Christ) above this terrible judgment. This is a type of tribulation harvest seen in Christ’s teaching in Mat 24:29-31. There is no hope for the impenitent left behind (Mat 24:48-51).

Centuries later still in the Old Covenant we see Elijah as another type and shadow of a pre-tribulation saint who is taken up by the Lord. Elisha, a type of tribulation saint is left behind, but he has resurrection power in his bones (2 Kings 13:21). We know from the book of Revelation that many saints will be martyred in the great tribulation and reign of the Antichrist, but will be resurrected and gathered in the harvest of the earth (Rev 14:14-16).

We’ve already spoken of the Manchild rapture from Rev 12 and the remnant of the woman’s seed that were left behind. We’ve also mentioned how the saints in Rev 14:1-5 were in heaven before the throne of God singing a new song while the tribulation saints were being martyred in that same chapter. But then we see the tribulation saints in Rev 15:1-4 singing the song of Moses, symbolic of their victory over the beast.

Finally, in Rev 20:4-6, if we will read these verses carefully we will again see two separate groups among the saints. One group sits on thrones as kings with judgment committed unto them (v3), while another, martyrs of the great tribulation period, also reigned with Christ, but it appears they were only priests and not kings (v6).

There is a distinction among the saints, my friends. May we be found as a part of the first-fruits with an overflow of oil and our lamps burning when our Bridegroom comes.

“Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!” (Rev 19:9)

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THE MANCHILD RAPTURE (Rev 12) – Part 8

“Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.” (Rev 12:1-2)

In this blog series we’ve endeavored to show you the distinction of the saints in the end times. Here in this chapter is another example of it. The labor pain in birth of this Sun-Clothed Woman happens toward the end of this age. We’ve determined that the Woman represents the people of God of all ages, or more specifically, the Church-Israel (refer to Part 7). As far back as Isaiah this was foretold:

“Before she was in labor, she gave birth; before her pain came, she delivered a male child. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Shall the earth be made to give birth in one day? Or shall a nation be born at once? For as soon as Zion was in labor, she gave birth to her children.” (Isa 66:7-8)

Notice the distinction here. The Manchild was delivered first even before the woman was in labor or pain. It was not until she was in labor that the rest of her children came forth. Let the earnest reader discern. The Manchild does not represent all the Woman’s children. There are others of her offspring mentioned in vs 17. These are the remaining saints, either born again Jews and/or Gentiles. No unregenerate man has any part in the program of God so please do not say that this is natural Israel here. It clearly is not.

“And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Rev 12:17)

The Manchild is the first-fruits unto God and is born before the Woman travails, and the rest of her offspring are the final harvest of tribulation saints who are born during the travail.

“She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.” (Rev 12:5-6)

Many people have assumed that the Manchild is Christ, but as we stated in part 7 it cannot be because Christ did not escape death by being raptured and He was born 100 years before this prophecy. All prophecy is futuristic. This bears repeating due to the inaccurate interpretations that some have had of this glorious chapter where the rapture is so beautifully depicted.

Let the reader note that this Manchild was to rule the nations with a rod of iron. Certainly in a general way this applies to the Lord Jesus Christ, for He is the first of the first-fruits and shall indeed rule the nations, but the more specific and accurate interpretation is that of the first-fruits or overcomers.

“And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations — ‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron’” – (Rev 2:26-27)

The message of Jesus to the seven churches of Revelation always includes a wonderfully special promise to the overcomers. These are members of Christ’s Church. Here they are given power over the nations. They will rule with Christ in the millennium.

Just as Jesus Christ is called different names such as the Son of God, Son of man, the Lamb of God, Lion of Judah, the Beginning and the End, even so this Manchild is also known as the overcomers, the first-fruits, the wise virgins, etc.

There’s been a diabolical silence on holiness in the modern day church. The Lord is calling for a people who are completely devoted and consecrated to Him. The devil is seeking to bring in compromise through the world’s system and the flesh, and enticing believers to violate their vows of separation from the world. Those who are faithful will share in the promised position of the overcomers. They will be a part of the Manchild company. Oh, what a thrilling possibility for those who will plunge into their race and like Paul, press toward the goal for the prize of the upward calling in Christ Jesus!

“I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 3:14) – Surely this is more than salvation and the general resurrection of the righteous which are granted by simple faith in Christ’s finished work. Is this not a reference to bride-ship, and a privileged position with Christ for all of eternity?

THE MANCHILD RAPTURE (REVELATION 12) – (Part 7)

“Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.

And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.” (Rev 12:1-6)

In the account of the Sun-Clothed Woman and the Manchild that is caught up to heaven in Revelation 12, the rest of the seed of the woman is left behind on the earth. Now some may argue and say that the symbolism in this account is mainly dealing with Israel and Christ, but a closer look will reveal a fuller picture.

Spiritual Israel is certainly included in the Sun-Clothed Woman, but we must understand that she represents more that Israel. She is a heavenly sign which is more symbolic of the glorious Church than of Israel.

Most dispensational interpretations say that the Sun-Clothed Woman is national Israel, but how can that be? National Israel rejected Jesus Christ. Certainly Israel is represented in the symbolism of the Woman and the Manchild, but it is spiritual Israel. It would be absurd to interpret that national Israel who put Christ to death is symbolized in the glorious Sun-Clothed Woman! The Christ-rejecting Jews are more clearly represented as followers of the dragon than the Woman (Rev 2:9). Even Jesus told the unbelieving Jews that they were of their father, the devil (John 8:39,44). Paul himself said a Jew is not one outwardly, but inwardly by the Spirit (Rom 2:28-29).

The more accurate and complete interpretation of this marvelous symbol of the Sun-Clothed Woman is that she represents the people of God of all ages which does include Israel. She is the Church in the wilderness of the Old Testament whom Israel escaped when they fled from Egypt, but she is also the glorious New Testament Church. She is the Church of all dispensations of time who is depicted here in Rev 12 in an age long conflict with the dragon Satan that began in the garden of Eden. Again, she does include spiritual Israel, but certainly not national Israel.

Notice that the great fiery red dragon has 7 crowns on his 7 heads, which in the symbolism, most Bible scholars agree, represents the entire period of human history seen in its 7 empires, the 7th being that of the Antichrist. The Manchild which has been interpreted as being applied solely to Christ is also incomplete because Christ did not escape death by being raptured, and secondly, Christ was born 100 years before this prophecy. All prophecy relates to the future and not the past. Certainly, in a general way, there is a parallel here with Israel and Christ in the symbolism of the Woman and the Manchild, but it is not the primary fulfillment of this prophecy.

Thirdly, notice in Revelation 12:5 that the remnant of the Woman’s seed is left behind and flees into the wilderness for 1260 days which is approximately 3 ½ years, the same duration of the great tribulation when the Antichrist comes into power. The expression “the remnant of her seed” tells us that a large number of her seed has been taken away in rapture. Again, this remnant also cannot be natural Israel because they “keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Rev 12:17)

From the beginning of this blog series I have tried to establish the definite distinction between the saints at the end of the age, even pointing to the many resurrections and raptures included in the Bible so you could see that this is not a fanciful interpretation that is incompatible with the sum total of all Scripture. Indeed at the end of the Church age some saints are ready for the Lord’s return at the first phase of the His coming called the rapture. Clearly, some are not. Some are taken, and some are left. Some are caught away before the great tribulation, and some go through it. The Manchild is not one person, but a company of those caught up to the throne, who are the firstfruits unto God. The remnant of the Woman’s seed are those left behind, who are the tribulation saints.

A closer look at another golden clue identifies the time period of this symbolism. Observe that the dragon has 7 heads and 10 horns. Notice that the horns are not yet crowned, but in Rev 13:1 they are crowned. What does that mean? Most Bible scholars agree that the 10 horns in this imagery represent the 10 kings who have power only when the Antichrist reigns. This means that he is not yet reigning at the beginning of Rev 12, but is in Rev 13:1.

Through this symbolism we can safely determine that the Sun-Clothed Woman and the dragon Satan are indeed portrayed as spiritual enemies throughout the ages with the moment of action marked by the travail, birth, and subsequent rapture of the Manchild. This is the glorious rapture of the Church for those who are watchful, prayerful, consecrated, and ready.

How thrilling of a possibility it is to be included in this company! It should be the supreme preoccupation and magnificent obsession of every saint.

Stay tuned for more in Part 8.

THE GOLDEN KEY TO THE BOOK OF REVELATION (Part 6)

The book of Revelation is a mystery to many Christians but it doesn’t have to be. God desires to reveal it to the earnest student. It requires diligent and methodical study that, frankly, few people have the time, or a thorough knowledge of the Word to tackle it.

The golden key to gaining a better understanding of the book of Revelation is to recognize that its prophecies are arranged chronologically in an orderly fashion. In other words, the events of Revelation follow one another in an orderly sequence. Recognizing orderly continuity will help the earnest student of the Word avoid arbitrary interpretations. Bible commentators that have a bunch of chronologies running through their expositions on Revelation are hopelessly confused.

Here then is the golden key: The book of Revelation is chronologically divided into 2 distinct parts that harmonize together as one: Rev 1-11 and Rev 12-22. 

The first 11 chapters are one sequence of chronological end-of-the-age events, and the last 11 chapters cover many of the same events with additional details. For example, more is said about the Antichrist and his system in the second sequence. These two chronological sequences are in harmony with the entirety of the Scriptures including the Old Testament prophets. It coordinates, culminates, and concludes so beautifully the whole plan of the ages. These two chronological sequences of apocalyptic events are known as the double witness principle.

The double witness principle is seen in the case of Pharoah’s dreams. Both dreams if you’ll remember had the same meaning (Gen 41). The dream revealed 7 years of prosperity followed by 7 years of famine in Egypt. Joseph interpreted Pharoah’s dream making mention of this double witness.

“And for that the dream was doubled unto Pharaoh twice; it is because the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass.” (Gen 41:32)

But notice that Joseph said that the dreams were also one.

“And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, The dream of Pharaoh is one: God hath showed Pharaoh what he is about to do.” (Gen 41:25)

This principle of the double witness is such a precious principle to me that I hesitated to share it in this blog that is read by many people I don’t even know. Even Jesus spoke to the multitudes in parables, revealing only pearls of hidden meaning to the earnest and sincere seekers in private. But we who freely receive must also freely give.

This double witness principle is a golden clue that unlocks the book of Revelation and helps to avoid arbitrary interpretations that are not in continuity, compatibility, and in the accurate timing of end time events. You will see that more clearly as I continue on in this blog series. The heart of the humble will rejoice and be glad.

The same principle of this double witness is also seen in the book of Daniel which harmonizes with the book of Revelation. For example, in Daniel 2 the rise of the 4 consecutive world empires are foretold in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream of the great image. Then in Daniel 7 there is a parallel prophecy foretelling the same thing, only with different symbols and additional details.

Now think about Revelation 11 and 12 in the light of this double witness principle. In Revelation 11 the plan of the ages comes to an end as the two witnesses are resurrected and raptured, the 7th trumpet commences the coronation of Christ, and then the saints are rewarded. But then in Revelation 12 it returns to the beginning of the period just before the rapture.

End time prophecy expositors have made a mess of Revelation 12, but you will soon find out that this is the most complete depiction of the first-fruits rapture of the Church in the entire Bible.

Stay tuned for it in Part 7. This is about to get super-duper exciting!

MAKING SENSE OF THE BOOK OF REVELATION (Part 5)

As a younger minister I was never interested in the book of Revelation. It was all too confusing and scary, although I must admit, I was kind of drawn to the scary part – sort of like a horror movie. Speaking of movies, back in the early 1980’s when I was first saved there were movies out on the Beast and the future Antichrist system, and how people would miss the rapture of the Church and be left behind to suffer in the great tribulation. It was actually all pretty new and fascinating to me. But whenever I’d try to read the book of Revelation where it spoke of all these things it never made sense to me. Quickly over time I lost interest in it. I thought, like most, that it didn’t matter. I was living for God and that’s all that mattered.

Then a number of years ago I saw that Revelation is the book of my future. Ignorance of its message could adversely affect my place and position in eternity. I was quickened by the verse in Revelation 19:7 of the marriage of the Lamb and how His wife had made herself ready. I saw that the readiness was the responsibility of God’s people. In my studies the Lord began to deal with my heart about the absence of holiness and a real devotion to God in the Church, and how so many weren’t ready for His soon return. And so I developed a real burden for end time theology again and preparing God’s people for the coming of the Lord. It is extremely important that we believe and understand this book’s meaning and the significance of its prophecies.

Think about this. Revelation is the only book in the Bible that declares a blessing to those who read it, hear its words, and obey them.

“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near.”
(Rev 1:3)

The book of Revelation is meant to be understood. It is not a sealed book. We are closer to the fulfillment of its prophecies than any other generation has been.

And he said to me, “Do not seal the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is at hand.” (Rev 22:10)

The many complex symbols and prophecies in the book of Revelation are not meant to remain a mystery. You cannot, however, isolate this book from the rest of the Bible, but it must be interpreted in the light and context of the entirety of the Scriptures. A thorough knowledge of the Bible is required to interpret and understand this book.

It is now a time for the unveiling of these mysteries contained within the pages of this book for the time is short and the Lord comes quickly and His reward is with Him to give to every one according to his work (Rev 22:12).

It was very disconcerting to me at first when I began reading and studying the books of several popular end time prophecy teachers. I studied the different positions and views of each of them, burning the midnight oil at times. Although there were a few points they all agreed on, I uncovered many more contradictions than continuity in their writings. I kept asking myself, “Why are these learned and educated men who are fine ministers, and whom I held in high esteem, in such contradiction with one another when it comes to their end time theology?” After all, God is not a God of confusion. As I continued to carefully read, study, and reflect on the varied positions and views of these end time prophecy teachers the Holy Spirit helped me to identify three main areas of contradiction in their writings.

1. The timing of end time events
2. The accuracy of interpreting the symbolism
3. The incompatibility with the rest of Scripture

After much frustration and searching, one key helped to unlock a far greater understanding of this book than I’ve ever had. It also helped me to see the reason for the many errors and inconsistencies of end time teachers. By no means did I become an expert, but this key clarified many things for me that had been shrouded with mystery before.

What was that key? Tune in to Part 6 and find out. It will blow your mind!

THE SPLIT CHURCH AT THE LORD’S COMING (PART 4)

Just as I stated in a previous blog in this series that there are several resurrections in the Bible, there are also several raptures. I cannot understand those who argue that because there is no mention of the word rapture in the Bible they do not believe in it. They only believe in the second coming of the Lord. Some arguments are no arguments at all. The word Bible is not in the Bible either, so does that mean there is no Bible? Quite ridiculous.

The word rapture means a catching away. Here then are the Biblical raptures: In the Old Testament Enoch was raptured, then later Elijah, of course Jesus was caught away or raptured, and following him were the many Old Testament saints who had to have been raptured after they came out of their graves and were resurrected, for no man can physically die twice in the sense of being disintegrated. Philip, the evangelist was also translated which in essence is a rapture, those in Christ who are part of the first-fruits will be caught away or raptured before the great tribulation, and the elect of God or the tribulation saints will be raptured at the end of the great tribulation. And don’t forget the two witnesses who were also resurrected and then raptured for all to see in Rev 11:11-12. Without a doubt there are several raptures in the Bible. How exciting!

I believe the Scriptures are clear that just as there was a first-fruits resurrection and rapture of Old Testament saints (Mat 27:51-53), there is a first-fruit resurrection and rapture of New Testament saints (1 Thes 4:13-18), and a post-tribulation harvest of saints, called here God’s elect (Mat 24:29-31). The first-fruits are raptured and resurrected before the great tribulation (Rev 14:1-5) and the second company of saints are reaped after the tribulation, and they are called the harvest of the earth (Rev 14:14-16). These are not Jews as has been commonly taught.

It is also clear that the 144,000 in Rev 14 is not Israel either. They are before the throne on heavenly Mt. Zion while the tribulation is going on in the same chapter and saints are being martyred (Rev 14:12-14). Neither are they the sealed 144,000 Israelites of Rev 7 who are protected against God’s wrath for the day of the Lord. How could they be in heaven and then return to earth to be sealed and protected against God’s judgments? That makes no sense. These are two different groups. One is the first-fruit saints and the other are sealed Israelites.

Similarity in numbers is not necessarily proof of the same identity.  For example in Rev 21:12 we see a reference to the 12 tribes of Israel, but in Rev 21:14 we see another reference to the 12 apostles of the Lamb.

Here is a scripture that will enlighten us as to the purpose of a first-fruit rapture.

“Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.” (Rev 3:10-11)

Notice here that this promise of Christ to the Philadelphia church to be kept from the hour of trial or tribulation is associated with receiving a crown. So we must see it as a reward or a prize for the faithful, and those who have persevered and stayed watchful and ready.

Notice also in the very next chapter in Rev 4:1-4, we see a type of the rapture of the Church – the open door in heaven, the sound of a trumpet, and then the 24 elders sitting on 24 thrones, clothed in white robes, with crowns on their heads. These 24 elders are the celestial representatives of all the redeemed who have been raptured and glorified. They have been crowned. In the scriptures you don’t ever see crowns given to disembodied spirits or to angels. These are human beings that are in heaven apparently before the greatest part of the tribulation has begun. This shows us without any measure of doubt or mystery that the rapture has already taken place.

The apostle Paul spoke of a crown he would receive on that Day.

“Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.” (2 Tim 4:8)

Again, notice that the crown is associated with His appearing. Paul had an understanding of this mystery. In Phil 3 we see him pressing for some sort of prize. Let the earnest reader discern that this prize is associated with a closeness to Christ, not only here on the earth but throughout eternity, that Paul was pressing toward and a certain resurrection that was linked to it. This is not salvation nor is it the general resurrection of the righteous. Our salvation and resurrection is based on our faith in Christ alone, but this is something different. Let the reader discern.

The Greek implies that this resurrection Paul speaks of is an “out-resurrection from among the dead”. It is a first-fruit rapture and the prize Paul sought to obtain which included a closeness to Christ throughout eternity. Here is an expanded translation of Phil 3:10-11,14 from one of the finest Greek scholars, Kenneth S. Wuest:

“And to come to know experientially the power of His resurrection and a joint-participation in His sufferings, and being brought to the place where my life will radiate a likeness to His death, if by any means I might arrive at the goal, namely, the out-resurrection from among those who are dead…I am pursuing on for the prize of the call from above of God which is in Christ Jesus.”

Is this not a reference to Bride-ship, characteristics found among the first-fruit company of Rev 14:1-5 who are seen before the throne, having been redeemed from the earth while the tribulation is still on? Notice that they sing a new song while the tribulation saints who have overcome the beast and reached heaven in Rev 15:1-4 sing the song of Moses. I hope you are now seeing the many distinctions between these two companies. Thus, the reason for the split Church at the first phase of the Lord’s coming which is the rapture.

In Part 5 we will learn why so many prophecy teachers make a mess of the book of Revelation. Stay tuned…

THE SPLIT CHURCH AT THE LORD’S COMING (Part 3)

Why am I calling this blog series The Split Church At The Lord’s Coming? It is because at the first phase of His coming, or what many refer to as the rapture, the entire Church will not be ready, and it is the responsibility of the ministry in this dispensation to prepare the saints for the rapture.

The split church at the rapture is intimated in many scriptures. We’ve already briefly discussed Mat 24:36-45 and Mat 25:1-13 in Part 1. We’ve also made many references in Part 2 that confirm a definite distinction between those who stay and those who go. Here are two more highlighted scriptures from two witnesses, Matthew and Luke, that intimate a distinction and a split church at the rapture.

“Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.”  (Mat 24:40-42)

“I tell you, in that night there will be two men in one bed: the one will be taken and the other will be left. Two women will be grinding together: the one will be taken and the other left. Two men will be in the field: the one will be taken and the other left.”  (Luke 17:34-36)

Not all saints are taken before the great tribulation, and not all are left. Some go and some stay. Thus, the reason Jesus preached His coming with such urgency and warning. He did not want anyone unprepared for that day. Next to salvation this may be the greatest message we could preach.

Not only did Jesus tell us of His coming, warning us to be watchful and ready, but the entire New Testament places great emphasis on the His coming also. In 260 chapters of the New Testament there are over 300 references to His coming. And if you’ll do a thorough study of it, you will also discover that in many of these references holiness and sanctification is associated with the Lord’s coming. Yet there has been a casual-ness and a great complacency about it in the body of Christ, many believing that it really doesn’t matter, and it will all pan out in the end. But soon we will see that being a part of the first-fruit company of wise virgins in the first phase of the Lord’s coming at the rapture is such a thrilling possibility, and in fact, a great prize to be won for those who have made themselves ready.

“Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.”  (Rev 19:7)

It is not only important to make a distinction between those who are taken and those who are left at the rapture, but to also distinguish between the Church age and the tribulation period. For example, during the tribulation period an angel is now preaching the gospel (Rev 14:6-7) indicating that the dispensations have changed. In the era of the Church age it is men that God calls to preach the gospel. When we preach the gospel in this era we call men to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, but we must also place great emphasis, as the New Testament does, on the coming of the Lord and preparing the saints for the first phase of this grand event. However, in the great tribulation the message of judgment predominates as men must now seal their faith with their own blood.

Those who believe only in one phase of the Lord’s coming at the end of the tribulation period, also called the Second Advent of Christ, do a disservice to the body of Christ in the preparation process. What is the incentive to prepare for His coming if it is inevitable that the entire Church will go through much suffering in the great tribulation? If this was the case, the message of Jesus and all the New Testament writers to the Church would’ve been to prepare to suffer.

Those who claim that all saints will go through the tribulation ignore the cardinal rule that Jesus laid down concerning His coming, that the rapture is imminent and could occur at any time. Don’t you think that all the saints will know when we are in the time of the great tribulation and the Antichrist is ruling? Wouldn’t it be rather obvious that we are in the tribulation period and the rule of the Antichrist when some of the saints are being martyred by the multitudes for not taking the mark of the Beast? If so, wouldn’t that alone contradict the principle of eminency that Jesus laid down concerning His coming? Just saying…

Then there are those who claim that none of the saints will go through the tribulation. They err also in their view which is not in accord with the plainest of scriptures. For example, Rev 13:7 states that it was given unto the Antichrist to make war against the saints. How could he make war against them if there were no saints on the earth during the tribulation? Some even say that these are Jews who are being saved during this time. But again we must accept the plain statements of Scripture. Rev 7:9,14 says that they are “a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues…These are they which come out of the great tribulation…” Certainly there may be some saved Jews among them, but the multitudes are from other nations, tribes, peoples and tongues.

We must also destroy the misconception that the saints are taken out of this world merely to escape the trials and sufferings of the great tribulation. Millions of Christians have already been martyred throughout the centuries since the days of Christ and did not consider it as punishment. So what is the purpose of a first-fruit rapture?

Tune in to Part 4 and find out.