The Rapture and the Day of the Lord

We come today to one of the most controversial topics ever in the history of the church. I cannot think of anything that gets Christians more upset than this topic of the timing of the rapture of the saints. Why is that? We all believe that Jesus wants us to understand the scriptures, so why do people get so heated? Can we purpose in our hearts to lay aside all our preconceived ideas and our favorite Bible teachers thoughts and examine the scriptures with an open mind? Whatever your final conclusion, we all can all agree that Jesus is coming back for His church, and the main thing is that we are ready for His return whenever that may be. The Word doc and PDF study that goes along with this is in the middle column under the topic of the Second Coming of Christ series, and it’s the fourth study, the Rapture and Day of the Lord. You can watch or listen to the study or download the notes and use it in a group setting or sermon.

Whose Side Are You On?

BattleYou are in the midst of a battle that rages all around us. This battle is being fought on two planes of existence, the visible realm and the invisible realm. On earth there are many kingdoms that are at war with one another, each of them trying to gain some kind of upper hand against the other, think China vs. Taiwan, India vs. Pakistan, Arab against Jew, but in reality these struggles on earth are part of a bigger cosmic battle for dominion over the souls of men and women, whether you are Arab or Jew, or what nationality you are. In the spiritual unseen realm there are only two kingdoms that are at war with one another. You are in one of these kingdoms—either the kingdom of God or the kingdom of Satan. The kingdom of Satan is using a great deal of deception and ignorance to blind men to the truth. He has been doing this for several thousand years and has become quite expert at it. This division and struggle among nations and people groups is Satan’s plan to deceive you into being distracted from the true spiritual battle as to who will rule you. Whose side are you on? Jesus put it this way:

30“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters (Matthew 12:30).

Are you with Jesus Christ? How do you know that you have crossed over to the Kingdom of God’s side of this battle? How can you be sure that when you die you will go to be with Him?

13For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves (Colossians 1:13).

You might be living under communist rule or under Islamic Sharia Law, but who owns your soul? Have you made a divine transaction with the Living God and crossed over from the dominion of darkness to trusting Christ with your soul? What do I mean by a divine transaction? Jesus said that unless a man is “born again” (John 3:3), he cannot see the kingdom of God. Satan has so deceived the world that until you give your life to Christ and receive the gift of eternal life, you cannot see the things of Christ and live in the power of the Spirit of God. Being born again is receiving the gift of life from the Lord Jesus. It is a gift. Jesus came to give us life:

27My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand (John 10:27-29).

This gift of eternal life cannot be earned. You don’t have to work for it. It is a gift that you are given when you repent of sin (turn the direction of your life over to God) and believe or trust in Christ to live for Him. The apostle Paul in the Book of Ephesians also speaks about this gift of life:

8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

In the West, we celebrate Christmas. It is a time when we remember the coming of Christ to give us the gift of eternal life. We celebrate by giving one another gifts. Even if our children do something really bad the day before Christmas, we still give them a gift on Christmas Day—why? Because a gift is not dependent on what a person does, it is dependent on the love and grace of the giver. A gift is not earned; otherwise it is not a gift. God is the giver of this gift and no matter what you have done, how severe your sin is—you can receive this gift from God. Go to Him and with your whole heart, abandon your old life and receive the gift of eternal life from the Lord Jesus—the giver of every good gift!

Keith Thomas

The Purchased People from All Nations

worthy is the lambThe Book of Revelation is a book in the Bible devoted to future things that God gave to the apostle John. John is taken outside of time to a time yet future to us. He sees things that “must soon take place” on earth (Revelation 1:1). He sees the Lord Jesus Christ as a Lamb, “looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne” (Revelation 5:6). He is the only one that is worthy to open a scroll sealed with seven seals. When the Lord Jesus comes forward and takes the scroll from God the Father, seated on the throne of heaven, a song of praise to the Lord Jesus is sung by those that are there:

“You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, 
because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.10You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth” (Revelation 5:9-10 Emphasis mine).

There are two things that stand out to us from the passage above. 1) The Lord Jesus Christ, represented as a Lamb, has purchased people with His blood. 2) These people are from every tribe, language, people and nation. Let’s look at the first thought first. The Bible says,

No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him—the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough—that he should live on forever and not see decay” (Psalm 49:7-9).

No man can buy another out from under the curse of sin that pervades the earth. The Lord Jesus Christ was the only One who could pay the ransom price to deliver us from Satan’s slave market. Eternal justice has placed a penalty on anyone who sins—the penalty is death (Ezekiel 18:4, Romans 6:23), which means separation from God for eternity. The whole of mankind, because of our sin, is seen to be in Satan’s slave market of sin. There is only one way out—God Himself would take the guilty person’s penalty upon Himself. God came in the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus, to pay the price of death as the just payment for our sin. With His blood He purchased a people to Himself.

Let’s now look at our second thought, who are the people whom He has purchased?  They are from every nation, tribe and language on Earth! You that are reading this in Egypt, and Syria, and Saudi Arabia, and China—you, along with all nations, are the ones that He has purchased to Himself. Do you have a God like that? One that will come and take the worst that Satan and fallen humanity can throw at Him and still love us enough to cry from the cross with His last breath—“It is finished” (John 19:30). This English phrase in the original Greek language of the New Testament is the word tetelestai. It literally means, “paid in full.” Do you realize that full payment for the deeds of your sin was fully paid nearly two thousand years ago? The God of heaven loves you so much that He came and paid the ransom price for you. Do you believe this? Believing in this full payment for your sin requires you to turn from everything displeasing the One who bought you. Repent (turn from your sin to follow Christ) and believe the Good news of your being purchased from Satan. I look forward to seeing you when our Lord Jesus comes for His purchased possession!

Keith Thomas

The Main Thing

5671097175_23230697a5-2I have spent a lot of time at sea being a commercial fisherman in my younger years. When you are out there in one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, the Dover straits of England, you get to see all kinds of boats and ships designed for all kinds of jobs. But for us as fishermen, our purpose was to catch fish. It could have been easy to waste time doing all kinds of things out at sea that we were not designed for. Now that God has called me to work on His net, I don’t want to get to the end of my life and find that I invested myself doing things that wasted a lot of time, energy and money. The main thing must be the main thing! What is the main thing the church of Jesus Christ is called to spend herself on? Paul says that it is the gospel: For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile (Romans 1:16). The gospel of Jesus Christ, when it is presented correctly and believed, brings about a radical change in the very core being of the believer. Paul, in the passage above, called it the power of God. Without this encounter with Christ, there is no change within:

And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

Every effort of the Church is to preach the gospel to bring about this change in the hearts of people all over this world. Some people believe that if they work hard at reforming their lives and live like a Christian, that is being a Christian. Let me tell you something important: You cannot become a Christian by living the Christian life. To live the Christian life, you have to have the Spirit of Christ living in you. He is the only One that can live the Christian life. Here is how Merrill Tenney put it,

 “Christianity is not a system of philosophy, nor a ritual, nor a code of laws; it is the impartation of a divine vitality. Without the way there is no going, without the truth there is no knowing, without the life there is no living.”

You must have Christ in you, living and seated on the throne room of the temple of your life. God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:27).

We can help feed people, we can teach them to have better marriages, we can bring them into community with others, but if we do not help them to see that they need the main thing—to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20), all our efforts are for nothing. The main thing is to help each person we can to be born-again of the Spirit and living the life of Christ. This is not the job of the professionals or the gifted leaders; it is the job of all that name the name of Christ. I am convinced that if we can help each Christian to learn how to share the gospel, a revival will break out that will be world wide.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have (1 Peter 3:15).

As Christians, we should be ready and prepared at any time to share the essence of what the gospel is, and how the person interested can know peace with God through what Christ has done for them. This is the main thing!

Keith Thomas

This Man Welcomes Sinners

140104238377228375_kdympbxt_c1Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:1-2).

The way the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were mouthing these words was with much venom and disgust. They muttered together about him. The Greek word diagongyzō is used, a stronger word than the simple Greek word gongyzō, which is used more often in scripture, and it meant to complain or grumble (aloud). They were voicing their disdain so much that those that He was seeking could hear them. I’m sure Christ’s heart went out to the tax collectors and ‘sinners’ that he was seeking to reach, that they might know God’s heart towards them is one of love and mercy extended.

The Jews saw tax collectors as being turncoats. They were making money hand over fist working for the Romans in taxing their Jewish brothers and sisters. They were sometimes ranked with prostitutes (Matthew 21:32), being thought of as the lowest of the low. The religious elite uses the word ‘Sinners’ to describe those who were held in bondage to a sinful lifestyle. The Greek word translated is harmartolos. It speaks of one not careful at all about the observance of ceremonial duties, an irreligious person. The term was used of either an immoral person or a person whose occupation was not ceremonially clean.

There were many of the population that had given up on trying to keep all the rules and regulations that the Oral Law, the traditions of the elders, had imposed on the general populous. It is the same today in many countries—it is just different religions these days. The rules were so numerous and nonsensical that it became a heavy burden to the people. Many felt alienated and estranged from God. When Jesus came preaching about God’s love for lost and unloved sinners, they were drawn to Him like flies to rotting fish. We don’t know what Jesus looked like, but his personality was and is attractive, He is altogether lovely (Song of Solomon 5:16). When those who were caught in their sin looked at the Scribes and Pharisees, their scowls showed no godliness or grace at all. There was no accepting attitude. They did not see God’s love in the religious leaders. People know when they are loved. When they looked at Christ, He had an inviting heart and welcomed sinners eagerly. The orthodox Jews had written off the tax collectors and sinners as worthy of the fires of hell, but God is gracious and extends kindness to men. He takes the initiative in seeking those that are alienated from Him.

But God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from him (2 Samuel 14:14).

What a beautiful truth the above passage communicates. The creator of the Universe has devised a way of reaching out to each of us. I believe that God has arranged situations in your life and mine so that through the painful trials we undergo, God reveals Himself to us as the substitutionary sacrifice to take upon Himself our sins. The trials you are experiencing are used by God to shake you out of spiritual lethargy, forcing you to wake up to the reality of a God who is seeking to draw you closer to Himself. How far will you go before you turn to the One who welcomes sinners?

Keith Thomas