Could the Rapture come at any moment?

the-parousia-the-rapture-2-728Is the doctrine of immanence valid? Is it biblical? This doctrine says that at any moment Jesus could come. The urgency to be ready for the return of Christ is pressed upon those that are without Christ. I wholeheartedly agree that the Church should preach that those without Christ should repent (turn from sin toward obedience to Christ) and get their lives right with God, but it is not biblical to tell people that Jesus Christ could come today. Jesus Himself said that He would send forth His angels and snatch away His church, the people of God, only after the great distress had taken place (Matthew 24:15-31; KJV used the word Tribulation). The Greek word used is Thlipsis, and contrary to what some believe, this is not the wrath of God. Twice in Matthew 24 He tells us that His church will endure persecution:

9“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted (Thlipsis) and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me (Matthew 24:9).

21For then there will be great distress (Thlipsis), unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again (Matthew 24:21).

Paul the apostle writes, “Tribulation [thlipsis] works patience” (Romans 5:3 KJV). The NIV translates thlipsis as suffering, and that it produces perseverance. “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering [thlipsis] produces perseverance” (Romans 5:3 NIV). We don’t get out of tribulation; we become changed through our right responses in the middle of character transforming difficulties. The Lord said that His people should anticipate times of distress or tribulation. In the Parable of the Sower, for instance, those who had no root, when tribulation [Thlipsis] or persecution came, many fall away. Jesus said that we will not know the day or the hour of His coming (Matthew 24:36), but those who are born-again and spiritually renewed or regenerated by the Spirit of God, will know the season of time as it approaches—and it is approaching! If it could come at any moment, then why would Jesus tell us to watch? (Verses 42-44). The Lord shared a lesson from the fig tree, that when it’s leaves come out and it’s twigs get tender you’ll know that summer (the return of Christ) is near. He explained that there would be certain signs that will indicate the season, “when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door” (Matthew 24:33). The question is asked, “What signs are we to look for?” How are we to take this? The signs are those that He has mentioned earlier in the chapter—the rise of the Antichrist, the peace covenant in the Middle East (Daniel 9:27), the Abomination of Desolation (Matthew 24:15), and the persecution of the saints (vs. 9, 21). Paul the Apostle talked about three things that must happen before the gathering together of the saints by the Lord, a great falling away by many Christians that are not really walking with Christ, the rise of the Antichrist, and the seating of Antichrist in the temple (2 Thessalonians 2:1-4).

It is only after the signs of the times that we can expect the snatching up (rapture) of the saints. We will know the season because of the signs happening, but we will not know which day it will happen, or what hour. The time that we are in at the moment is a time for the church to spiritually prepare for the difficult time ahead—it is time to get close to the Lord, learn to hear His voice, and if you are not yet right with God, it’s time to cry out to Him for His full and complete salvation to come to you. It is not earned, but a gift of God when you are ready to turn your life over into His hands:

Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38).

Keith Thomas

If you’d like to learn more about this time of Christ coming for His people, I would encourage you to read about the rapture in the middle column under the title of the series on the Second Coming of Christ.

Are You Watching for His Return?

images36If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 37What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’” (Mark 13:36-37).

My family and I were separated for nearly three months in the year 2000 while I started work in a large mega church in Cincinnati, Ohio (I am from England).  You bet I was counting the days for our reunion! How lonely I was without the ones I loved. It brought me to tears a number of times.  As the time grew closer for our reunion, I began to prepare everything for us to be close again.  I checked the flight times again and again, I planned where we would eat on the way from the airport, I cleaned the house meticulously where we would be staying, but most of all, I prepared myself. My time was spent in the days before their coming in much preparation.  What joy I had when they arrived, we hugged and kissed repeatedly.  I was so excited to show them around Cincinnati, the city where we would now be living.  My girlfriend (my wife of 35 years) and my two children were coming home to their own country after 18 or so years of serving God in England.  You cannot understand the joy I felt to bring them back to their family and country.

If you are a Christian this world is not your home.  Like me longing for my family, our Lord is longing for our reunion.  He has spent nearly 2000 years preparing a place for us so that where He is we shall be also (John 14:1-3).  What joy will flood His heart upon our union, how He longs to show us where we will be living together. It must be disappointing to Him that some would not even be watching for their reunion day–their hearts are not beating with the same passion that is in His.  There are some who are just not aware of the days in which we are living; they are asleep and are not lovingly watching for His return.

Are you watching for His return? Are you avidly working and using your resources to advance the Kingdom of God here on Earth? As a fellow soldier on watch duty, can I call you to attention so that you may lovingly watch for Him? Isn’t it time to get excited about seeing Him and preparing for that time?

Prayer: Father, keep me awake in the midst of a world that wants to drug me to sleep.  I really want to be wide-awake and sensitive to you so that I may walk in eager anticipation for that great reunion day.

Keith Thomas

What Happened the Day Noah Entered the Ark?

Noah26“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. 28“It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. 30“It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed (Luke 17:26-30).

Jesus shares two examples from history. Two times when there was unrestrained evil, one in a local area, and one that was worldwide. At both times in our examples, life was going on seemingly as normal, people were eating and drinking, there was long term planning, as in planting for a harvest, building homes, marriages being planned, etc. But all of a sudden there was a day when Lot and his family disappeared with a couple of angels, and Noah and his family got into his boat and the door was locked. Guess what happened next? Just as soon as the righteous was safe, at the same instance, the same day for each of them in our two examples, the judgment of God fell on those that did not get their lives right before the Lord—those that had not turned around from their deeds that were displeasing to the Lord.

Notice that there was no seven years in between, no seven days, and no second chance where the Lord tells those left behind to come back later and they would get in. No, sorry, my dear friends, there is no biblical truth in the Left Behind series of books, it is completely fiction and a deception, I believe. Jesus is saying in this passage above that it is a back-to-back event. We are never told in scripture that the tribulation is the wrath of God. How can Antichrist be setting up an image of himself at the midpoint of the seven-year period if we believe that the seven-year period is the wrath of God? Do you really think that Antichrist is going to be able to make war against the saints (Rev 13:7) if that period of time is when the wrath of God is being poured out? When the wrath of God comes on this earth, Antichrist will be under some rock hiding from the face of the Lamb! (Revelation 6:16). The wrath of God is only poured out after the church has gone through the time Jesus warned the church about, the time he called the Great Tribulation, where the church is raptured at some point during that time, no man knows the day nor the hour (Matthew 24:30-31), but at some point during the second half of the seven-year period. The tribulation is a time of persecution on those who will not go along with Antichrist’s one world economic system of taking a mark on our wrist or forehead (Revelation 13:16). We must prepare ourselves to stay pure in a time of unrestrained evil that is being poured out on our planet. We are not to compromise with evil, even when everybody seems to be doing it:

27Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world (James 1:27).

There will come a day when our God will intervene and what an awesome day that will be for every one of us who has chosen to walk with Christ and to not compromise our faith in Him. How are we to keep ourselves pure? That’s exactly what the psalmist, David, said:

9How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word. 10I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. 11I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:9-11).

Keith Thomas

What is the Tribulation?

guantoucrossoff_2944287b15“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 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 that 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 that breaks out after the mid-point of the seven-year period. Let’s grow in our dependence and trust in Him.

Keith Thomas

[1] New Testament Lexical Aids, Key Word Study Bible, AMG Publishers, Thlipsis, Page 163

The Great Tribulation or Persecution

The big question among Bible believing Christians is whether or not the Church will go through the Great Tribulation. In this study we look at what the Bible says about the issue. This video goes along with the seventh written study in the middle column. You can freely download the notes in Word or PDF format. There are some practical things as to what to do towards the end of the study. The early part of the study is about the persecution that the Jewish people have suffered through, and what I believe is still ahead for them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XmGIl-MeIw