Monday, May 19, 2008

The Rapture Of The Church (Part 2)

In my last post I made reference to the fact that I believe the Bible teaches that after the Rapture occurs - after Jesus returns and gathers His followers to be with Him - that there will no longer be an opportunity for people to be saved. In other words, contrary to the theology taught in the popular book series Left Behind, I do not believe that anyone will be saved after the Rapture of the Church and that those who are left behind will face God's wrath and ultimately end up in the lake of fire. It is for this reason that I believe that it is so important that we preach the Gospel today; there may not be a second chance.

I know that this position is not typically what is taught in our churches today, so let me explain (from the Bible) how I came to this conclusion. And after you have had a chance to prayerfully read this I welcome your comments.

Let's begin our study in the book of Luke where Jesus is teaching His disciples about the coming kingdom, and He says:
Just as it was in the days of Noah, so will it be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all
In order to understand what Jesus was teaching we must ask ourselves the question, what was it like in the says of Noah, and what happened then that is going to be repeated when Jesus returns? Jesus begins by saying that the world will be eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage; in other words people will be living life like they have all the time in the world. This is just like it was in the days of Noah; the people had been warned of the coming flood for 120 years, but they had not repented so God told Noah to take his family and enter the ark (a picture of Christ) and then the flood came:
And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, livestock, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all mankind. Everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark.
The only ones who escaped, the only ones who were saved were the ones who were in the ark. In the same way, when Jesus returns the only ones who will escape the wrath of God, the only ones who will be saved, are those who are in Christ. And they will all be removed in the Rapture of the Church. What does Jesus say then happened to those who were not in the ark? He says that the flood came and destroyed them all. The same can be said for those who are not in Christ when He comes to gather His elect.

This is not all that Jesus said in this passage in Luke, He also said:
Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot — they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all — so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed.
Again, Jesus uses an historical event from the Old Testament to teach what will happen when He returns. This time He uses the story of Lot and the city of Sodom, and again He tells how people were just living life but on the same day that Lot was removed from Sodom (Genesis 19) God rained fire down from heaven and destroyed everyone who was left behind.

This is how Jesus says it will be when He returns; people will be living life, He will rescue His people from the coming judgment, and then God's wrath will rain down on the earth and no one will escape. There was no second chance in the days of Noah, there was no second chance in the days of Lot, and there will be no second chance when Jesus returns.

And just to make sure we understood what He was saying Jesus also told three parables that teach the same thing that He was teaching with the examples of Noah and Lot, these three parables are:

1. The Parable of the 10 Virgins
Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
2. The Parable of the Straight Gate
He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out.
3. The Parable of the Weeds
He put another parable before them, saying, The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’ ”

In each of these parables we see one important fact - after the bridegroom comes, after the master has closed the door,after the wheat is gathered into the barn, everything else is cast into outer darkness, tied into bundles, and burned. To make sure we got his point Jesus then explained the meaning of the Parable of the Weeds, He said:
The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
This takes place at the end of the age, the Son of Man (Jesus) sends His angels to reap the harvest, the weeds (those who have not believed) are gathered into bundles and are burned, and the wheat (the true believers) are gathered into the his barn where they will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.

So the question we must ask then is this, is this teaching in line with what is taught in the book of Revelation? Look at what revelation has to say about those who are on the earth when this time of God's wrath comes:
The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands nor give up worshiping demons and idols of gold and silver and bronze and stone and wood, which cannot see or hear or walk,

They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory. The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds.

It is for these reasons that I believe that after the Rapture occurs there is not longer any chance for salvation. And it is for this reason that we must share our faith today. 2 Corinthians 6:2 tells us that TODAY is the day of salvation, and Isaiah warns us to:

Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.

So don't wait, share the Gospel with everyone, because tomorrow may be too late!!!
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