Is the Great Tribulation the Wrath of God?

Destruction_of_Jerusalem9When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” 11Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been (Revelation 6:9-11).

In Matthew chapter 24, Jesus was asked as to what would be the sign of His coming and of the end of the age (v.3). Verses 4 through 31 are an outline of the major events that will happen at the time of the end. These verses describe events almost exactly the same as the outline that the Lord gives us in Revelation 6-7 in the opening of the Seals. After chapter 7, the Lord gets into specific details. We are not told that these events all happen in the seven-year period that starts with a peace treaty in the Middle East (Daniel 9:27) over the land of Israel, but it is an assumption on most Bible teachers part. Jesus calls the first three and a half years after that peace covenant is signed “the beginning of birth pains” (Matthew 24:8). As each seal is opened in the Book of Revelation chapter six, a corresponding event happens on the earth that makes the situation on earth so much worse, similar to a woman’s birth pains getting worse as the time for the birth gets near.

At the opening of the fifth seal (Rev 6:7), a great persecution will be initiated against believers in Christ and those Jews who will not take the mark and worship Antichrist. Some, perhaps many, believers will be martyred for Christ at the time of the fifth seal. The opening of this seal, I believe, corresponds to Jesus’ warning about the Great Tribulation (KJV) or great distress (NIV) that He spoke about in Matthew 24:21. I believe this time should be called the Great Persecution. However far ahead in time this is, we as Christians need to be ready to endure and not compromise our faith. Many will fall away when this persecution starts (2 Thessalonians 2:3). We cannot expect to be delivered (raptured) from the earth until some time into this Great Persecution of the saints.

There are some teachers who say we needn’t be worried about this time that is ahead (how far ahead, we do not know). They say that this period of time is the wrath of God being poured out on those who are left on the earth. They believe that the church will be raptured out of here before the Antichrist comes on the scene and the seals begin to be opened with terrible consequences on earth. They say that the tribulation is the wrath of God, and that Paul taught that, “God did not appoint us to suffer wrath” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). How can the Tribulation or Persecution be the wrath of God? In the passage at the top of the page, we are told clearly that some believers who had died in the Great Persecution, will ask God, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” (Revelation 6:10). This happens at the fifth seal, some way after the mid-point, perhaps well into the second half of the seven-year period. The wrath of God is the judgment on those who are persecuting His church. At the fifth seal and the persecution, the wrath and judgment has not started yet. The Lord answers for those believers to wait, “until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been” (Revelation 6:11). The rapture will not happen until sometime into the second half of the seven-year period and before the wrath and judgment of God begins. However, many years ahead this time is, we need to be spiritually ready. It’s time to put away our toys and get serious about our faith. It’s time to get close to Jesus. When the darkness gets worse, God will pour out His Spirit and the Church will shine with His love, life and light (Isaiah 60:1-2. Daniel 12:3).

Keith Thomas

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

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

Does Jesus Know You?

UnknownMany of us have heard the question posed to us, “Do you know Jesus?” It’s a very important question that we all must ultimately answer either yes, or no to. It is very easy to assume that Jesus knows us. “Why of course Jesus knows me. He knows everything and everyone, right?”  In one sense, yes, that is very true. God is omniscient, but what does it really mean to know someone?

Suppose one were to dedicate a large part of their life learning everything there was to possibly know about the President of the United States. You would learn when he gets up, what he does during the day, all his accomplishments, where he was born, how many children he has, his wife’s name, his education, even down to minute details like what foods he may like and the friends he invites over for dinner. You could spend so much time and energy learning absolutely everything there is to know about him that you could almost say, “I know the President”. Now just imagine that someday you were able to find your way uninvited into the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC. The Secret Service grabs hold of you as you inform them, “It’s OK, I know the President!”  By chance if he is there, they are going to ask him if he knows you and should you hear him say: “No, I don’t know this person,” your future would quickly be determined. Unless you would have met him, spoken with him, sat with him, and spent time with him, he could never say he knew you at all. Let alone call you his friend. Knowing all about someone does not constitute a relationship.

21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’ (Matthew 7:21-23).

In the above verses we see that not everyone who claims to know the Lord Jesus will find that He will claim to know them. The word “know” as used in verse 23 is from the Greek word “Ginosko”, meaning “to know absolutely.” What’s even more profound is that the Greek word for never, as used in verse 23, “Oudepote,” means, “not even at any time, never at all.” So,  we can we spend our entire life learning everything there is to know about this one called Jesus, reading the Bible, going to church, even doing all the works and signs of a follower, and still have Him say, “I never knew you.” Jesus Himself said that MANY will find themselves in that position of being shut out (Matthew 7:21-23).

We would find ourselves in the same predicament as being in the Oval Office again, and not being recognized by the President. Actually infinitely worse off. So how can I be assured that He knows me? A beautiful illustration comes from The Lord Jesus Himself saying to us:

 20Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me (Revelation 3:20, ESV)

When we are invited to dinner at a friend’s house it is still as great an honor now as it has been for thousands of years. You enter into someone’s home that has possibly worked for quite some time preparing a meal for you in hopes that you will greatly enjoy the fruits of their labor prepared for you. Not only that, but you share details about your lives, your jobs, your children, your hopes, your dreams, etc. You certainly at this point have a relationship one with another. How much more so that the Creator of the heavens and the Earth and all that is in them, is knock, knock, knocking at the door of our hearts asking to come in and dine with us! To have a relationship with Him.

In the 3rd chapter of the book of John, a man named Nicodemus; a Pharisee; a Ruler of the Jews, comes to Jesus at night. He says to Jesus: “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him” (John 3:2). Jesus gives a most interesting answer in verse 3: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” That is the key: “You must be Born Again.” He knew exactly what Nicodemus, and every person who ever comes to Him needs to know. He then proceeded to explain to him (and us) how to enter into His kingdom and thus enjoy having a personal relationship with Him.

A bit further on, in one of the most famous verses in all the Bible we read: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever lives and believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). The word “believes” is from the Greek word “Pisteuo,” meaning “to entrust, commit, put in trust with.” It is far more than just accepting a stated fact as being true. So in conclusion, when a person comes to Jesus and truly “believes” in Him by trusting in Him, committing their hearts and minds and lives to Him, and repenting of their sins, they then become Born Again; thus entering into a personal relationship with Him and receiving all the rights and privileges of a child of the King of Kings. Their names are then written down in “The Lamb’s Book of Life” (Revelation 3:27).

Dear ones, if you have never entered into a personal relationship with The Lord Jesus, before it is too late, we urge you with every fiber of our being to come humbly at His feet, admit you are a sinner, and accept the free gift of salvation that was so completely secured by Him alone at a very great price.

Mike Engel

The Door of Grace Will Be Shut at What Point?

the-only-door23Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” He said to them, 24“Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’ “But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’ 26“Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ 27“But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’ 28“There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out (Luke 13:23-28).

I think we would all agree that this passage clearly teaches us that there will be no second chances after Christ comes for His people, those who have received the gift of God, salvation through the substitutionary work of Christ on the cross. We are told in the above passage that there will come a time when the door of salvation will be shut. The intimation is that it will never be opened again, hence the weeping and gnashing of teeth. The door of grace will be closed at the rapture or snatching away of the church. Then will begin the wrath of God and the judgments of God on those that have willfully rejected God’s free offer of a pardon. I don’t see anything in this passage to indicate even the slightest hope that if one were to come later he would find the door open again.

There will be no opportunities for one to gain entrance into the Kingdom of God after the door is shut. It is as if God’s drawbridge of grace has been lifted, and those that are left behind must face the wrath of God. This is a hard truth to accept because we all have friends and relatives that may be left outside that door when it closes. I do not want to imagine their moment of realization and their pleadings when they find that the door is closed to them. At that time, it will not matter what kind of good life you have led on planet earth, when He comes for His church the deciding factor will be, do you have a relationship with Jesus Christ? Christ will say to many on that day, “I don’t know you or where you come from” (verse 27). When will this rapture of the saints occur? Jesus told us clearly that the gathering together of the elect (those that have relationship and faith in Him) will take place,

“Immediately after the distress (KJV Tribulation) of those days…at that time…he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other” (Matthew 24:29-31).

I believe we are now entering that dark time foretold in scripture that will happen just before Christ comes.

Only those who have relationship with Him will be allowed to enter through the door. If you are not sure as to where you will go on that day, then God wants you to be sure and you can know for certain that you are prepared for that day. God does not want to hide this truth from us (1 John 5:13). Cry out to Him today. Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Romans 10:13).

Keith Thomas