The Parting of the Ways

UnknownThere is coming a huge parting of the ways between the two kingdoms that are at war with one another on a cosmic scale on planet Earth. The Bible makes it plain that you are either in the kingdom of Satan, or you are in the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no other. You may think you are serving a different God, but it is a deception of Satan. Here’s what Jesus said: “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Matthew 12:30).

If you are not walking hand in hand with the Lord Jesus Christ, you are walking with the enemy, Satan, the arch deceiver, the one who Paul the apostle called:

…The ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient (Ephesians 2:2).

God does not want you to keep walking in disobedience to the good news of Jesus Christ and His forgiveness of sin and rebellion against Him. This world is being led away from the straight and narrow path on a downward curve to immorality, violence, greed, murder, etc. Worse still, many of God’s people are compromising their faith and are being led by the ways of this world system onto a similar path away from true holiness, purity and simplicity of godliness in Christ. There is a weak insipid thing that is presented to us as the church; this organization has also taken the curve along with the way of the world system. This is not the true church. The true church is composed of those who will not compromise their faith, no matter what the cost. They are those that are like the three young Hebrews, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego that would not bow down to the spirit of the age, the false idols that are set up before us.

16Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. 17If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:16-18).

There is coming a time where an event will happen where there is a parting of the ways between the weak insipid thing that is presented as the church of Christ, and the true Church of the Living God. Paul the Apostle in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 calls this event the “Rebellion,” or some translations render it, the “falling away,” or the “apostasy” in yet another translation. Here’s what he wrote: “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessnessa is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.” It is hard to say what will cause this. It will be an event in history, not just a gradual falling away from the faith of Christ, because in the Greek language the phrase has the definite article that speaks of an event. What will cause many “so called” Christians to fall away? I think it will be the forcing upon the world’s population of a “mark” on their foreheads or right hand. All those who will not take this “mark” will not be able to buy or sell. The world is heading toward a one-world-currency set up by our slave-owners that will be digital money—no cash will be allowed. All true Christians will not receive this mark, and will take a curve going in the opposite direction away from this world kingdom that is being set up at the moment. The passage below gives us more detail for this event that will bring a parting of the ways between the “so called” church and the true church of Christ:

16It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name (Revelation 13:16-17).

We are living in the times before this event that has been foretold by the Holy Scriptures. My concern is for those of you who have already taken the curve towards the world system. This is a time to be to walking away from the spirit of the age we live in towards Christ. My dear friend, your eternity is at stake, give yourself wholeheartedly to Christ and the Holy Spirit will strengthen you for the days, months or years ahead, however long we have left before the coming of the Lord.

Keith Thomas

Who Are the Believers Who Go Through the Great Tribulation?

tumblr_inline_ned665FUkB1qkqzlv9After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, 
who sits on the throne, 
and to the Lamb.” 11All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12saying: “Amen! 
Praise and glory 
and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength 
be to our God for ever and ever.
Amen!” 13Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” 14I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:9-14 Emphasis mine).

There are those who tell us that the rapture (the snatching up of the saints from this earth) will happen before the tribulation starts. Well, how can that be? The passage above tells us that a great multitude from every nation, tribe, people and language will stand in white robes before the elders (v.11), before the living creatures (v.11), before the angels and before God, after going through a great tribulation. This is obviously the rapture. How do I know? We are specifically told that this great multitude that are seen are those who came out of the great tribulation (v.14).

Some say that these are believers who were left behind after a pre-tribulation rapture. They got saved during the tribulation, they inform us. But over the last two devotionals we have alluded to the fact that in two passages we are told that the door is shut at the rapture—there is no second chance after a pre-tribulation rapture (if there was such a thing). The door was shut when the bridegroom came for His bride (Matthew 25:10, Luke 13:25). If there was a rapture before all the trouble (tribulation) starts, then why do we not see the pre-tribulation saints welcoming this great multitude and giving high fives upon their coming to heaven? We see the angels, the living creatures, the elders and God Himself welcoming this great multitude, but no pre-tribulation saints! Why not? Because there is no pre-tribulation rapture! The Church must wake up and prepare to endure hardship and persecution at the hands of Antichrist. We are told that we will be delivered by a catching up (rapture) at some point (no man knows the day nor the hour) during the tribulation. It’s time to wake up from sleep and prepare to endure hardship for Jesus Christ—it’s time to get close to Christ.

Prayer: Father, help us to be a powerful expression of the church in these dark days. The world is crying out for truth and to see the light in believers.

Keith Thomas

3 Things Must Happen Before the Rapture

hqdefault1Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, 2not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us—whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter—asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. 3Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. 4He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4).

Paul has received a letter back from the Thessalonian church after his first letter that was in part about the rapture, for he starts out this chapter with the word “concerning.” The Thessalonians had received some communication from some people trying to deceive them into believing that the day of the Lord, and with it, the Rapture, has already happened (Verse 2). They were being told that the persecution they had been enduring (2 Thessalonians 1:4) is the persecution associated with the end time coming of the Lord. It’s interesting that Paul uses the same Greek word, thlipsis, translated in Matthew 24:21 with the word tribulation (King James Version) or distress (New International Version) to describe the persecution that the Thessalonians were enduring at the time Paul was writing. He replies to this false thinking in order to ease their fears that they had missed being caught up (raptured) to the great gathering together with the Lord in the air. It is clear that Paul believes that the Day of the Lord will happen just after the church is caught up to the Lord, as shown in the context of verse 1 and 2. He calls the coming of the Lord and our being gathered to Him as “the day of the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 2:2).

He reassures them that they have not missed the rapture by telling them that there are three things that will happen before that day (The Day of the Lord) comes (Verse 3).

1) The Rebellion occurs. The definite article is in the Greek text, but is not explicit in the English translation. It is the rebellion, not just any countrywide rebellion but a worldwide falling away from the faith. The Greek word used is Apostasia, which means to depart, defect, and revolt. The meaning of this word is always speaking of a religious defection, a departure from what is considered to be orthodox.[1] What would cause a worldwide defection from the faith? It is possible that when Antichrist and the False Prophet demand that everyone should receive a mark on their forehead or hand, and worship the beast, many that have a half hearted faith will compromise and fall away from the Lord. Many that are religious but do not have a real relationship with Jesus Christ will fall away, but others, those with true faith in Christ, will hold to their faith and continue to believe, anticipating the return of their Lord.

2) The second thing Paul says must happen before the Day of the Lord is for the man of lawlessness (another name for the Antichrist) to be revealed. I believe that when he comes to power he will resolve the Palestinian problem and a peace treaty or covenant will be signed on the whole issue of Jerusalem (Daniel 9:27). His bargaining position chip will be to allow the Jewish people to rebuild their Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in exchange for the Palestinians to have a state and possibly even their capital city to be East Jerusalem. This peace covenant or treaty is a sign that we can look for as it will start a period of seven years, with a desecration of the Temple at the mid-point. Those who believe in a Pre-Tribulation view do not think that the Church will witness any of these things. However, even in Paul’s day, the Holy Spirit warned the Thessalonians, and us, to be aware of these events as signs of His coming and the rapture.

3) Paul says the man of lawlessness, the Antichrist, will oppose everything that is called God; in fact he will exalt himself as God, sitting in the Temple of God, proclaiming himself as God (verse 4). He will set himself up in the newly rebuilt Jewish Temple. As at this present time (July 2016) there is no Jewish Temple that lies at the heart of Jerusalem. We must prepare to endure persecution and when the temptation comes to take the Mark of the Beast and worship Antichrist—we must refuse and cling to the Lord Jesus—trusting that He will deliver us from Satan’s wrath (Revelation 12:12, and 17). Grace will be poured out on God’s people and the Lord will intervene in deliverance for His people and wrath on His enemies. Pray that you may endure and be found on the right side.

If you would like to study more on the topic of the Rapture of the Church and what precedes it, go to the middle column and scroll down until you get to the Second Coming of Christ series. Click on the two studies on the Rapture (studies 3 and 4).

Keith Thomas

[1] Key Word Study Bible, AMG Publishers, 686 Apostasia, Page 693.

What is the time of “Great Distress” or “Tribulation?”

the-great-tribulation-begins15“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand— 16then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17Let no one on the housetop go down to take anything out of the house. 18Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 19How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 20Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath. 21For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again (Matthew 24:15-21).

Many of you have heard of the time that is called the “great tribulation”(KJV), translated as “great distress” in the New International Version. Jesus in the passage above warned us about this time. He said that an event He called the “Abomination of Desolation” would precipitate this time of great distress in Israel, and the rest of the world too. So the first big question for us to consider is, what is meant by the term ‘great distress or great tribulation? What will happen at that time?

The Greek word that the term is translated from is Thlipsis. I have a Key Word Study Bible, which enables me to search how the Greek word was used in other passages. The word literally means, “to crush, press, compress, squeeze. Tribulation, trouble and affliction. This Greek word “conveys the picture of something being crushed, pressed or squeezed as from a great weight. It is used to denote grievous physical affliction or mental or spiritual distress.”[1]

How this word was used in context in other passages of the Bible will shed some light on what the church should expect to happen during that time. In Acts 8:1, the word thlipsis is translated as great persecution after the martyrdom of Stephen:

1And Saul approved of their killing him. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria.

In Acts 11:19, the same Greek word, thlipsis, is translated again as persecution:

19Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that broke out when Stephen was killed traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, spreading the word only among Jews (Acts 11:19).

And lastly, Paul used the same Greek word when he wrote to the Thessalonian church about the persecution they had been going through:

4Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring (2 Thessalonians 1:4).

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, what am I saying? I’m saying that we need to be focusing and preparing ourselves spiritually to live in close relationship to the Lord. The tribulation, when it comes, is a time of worldwide persecution on those who serve the God of Israel, true Christians and Jews. I believe the persecution is aimed at all those who will not take the mark of the beast (Revelation 13:16-17) or worship his image. We should not think that the Lord will rapture us out of here before the tribulation, but we should prepare to endure. The tribulation is never called the wrath of God. The wrath of God is only poured out after the church is taken at some point (no man knows the day nor the hour) during the great tribulation (Matthew 24:30) that breaks out after the mid-point of the seven-year period. Let’s grow in our dependence and trust in Him.

You can study more about what the Bible says about this time period by reading the studies on the Seven Seals, The Mark of the Beast and the Great Tribulation or Persecution in the series of the Second Coming of Christ in the middle column. They are all free and easily downloaded or read by clicking on the link. Hold on to Christ and His Word!

Keith Thomas

[1] New Testament Lexical Aids, Key Word Study Bible, AMG Publishers, Thlipsis, Page 1632

Are there Two Second Comings of Christ?

the-wise-and-foolish-virgins1“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. 6“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ 7“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish ones said to the wise,  ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ 9” ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ 10“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. 11“Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’ 12“But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’ 13“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour (Matthew 25:1-13 Emphasis mine).

What is the message that Jesus would have us take from this passage of scripture—what stands out to you? There are many things that we can learn, but two things in particular stand out to me:

1) Those who were waiting all began to get tired, but half of them, even though they were tired, had made provision for the night—they had extra oil to see them through the darkness. We are told that the bridegroom was a long time coming, but at the darkest point of the night, midnight, the bridegroom came. The emphasis is on being ready for His coming.

2) Only the five who were ready went to be with the bridegroom and the door was shut immediately afterwards. The five foolish people, did they get to come in later? Of course not! They were shut out. It was too late! We don’t like the implications, but the truth is that the door is never opened again after the Lord comes. There is only one rapture of the saints, not two.

I am going to get stones thrown at me here, but here goes anyway.  There are those who believe that there are two comings of Christ, one before the seven-year period of trouble starts, and one towards the end. They tell us that if we miss the first coming, not to worry, He will come at a later time and those who miss the first coming will still get in. The Left Behind series of books in the USA are all about this fallacy. Of course, they warn us, this is not a good option for there will be lots of trouble and hardship during the Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21-31). This is deception of the highest magnitude in my humble belief. This deception fosters the belief that if you miss the coming of Christ, you can still become a Christian later on and get in–that’s not what this passage teaches. The clear implication is that the door is not opened later. There are those who put off salvation today, because they have been told that they can still get in later after the Christians have been raptured. They will believe in Christ when they see the rapture take place. Do not believe it!  There is only one Second Coming of Christ and He will come at some point after the Great Tribulation has started (no man knows the day nor the hour) but before the wrath of God is poured out–the tribulation is not the wrath of God. We must be watching and preparing ourselves spiritually for the darkness that is coming on the world. We must grow in our knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ and of His Word; this will be oil in our lamps that will keep us in the darkness of the hour that is approaching. He comes at the darkest point, symbolized by midnight in the parable.

If you would like to study this in greater detail, read the study under the topic of the Second Coming of Christ, found in the middle column, entitled The Rapture of the Saints. It is also one of the Parables (number 2 of the Parables of Christ) in the middle column too.

Keith Thomas