THE COMING OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD
Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All Rights Reserved
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus preached the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth. I do not know when it happened, but somehow the Gospel of the Kingdom was changed into the Gospel of Heaven. Instead of the Good News being that the Kingdom was coming to the earth, the Good News now is that we will go to Heaven when we die or when we are "raptured."
Why was the Gospel changed? Probably to be more in line with the other religions of the earth, which teach that if we obey the tenets of the religion we will go to some sort of paradise when we die.
There is an invisible Kingdom of God. It is the rule of God in Christ in whomever Christ is dwelling.
There is a visible Kingdom of God. The visible Kingdom of God is the rule of Christ over all people living on the earth when He returns with His saints.
The Christian Church is the government of the Kingdom of God.
When the visible Christian Church comes down through the new sky to be installed on a high mountain of the new earth, it will govern the nations of people who have been saved to citizenship on the new earth.
It is not always preached that there will be two classes of people living on the new earth: God's Church, which is the new Jerusalem; and the people from the nations who are not of the Church but whose names are written in the Book of Life.
Until it is understood that the Church is a minority of earth's population, and that of the remainder of the people of the nations, some will be saved to eternal life and some will be thrown into the Lake of Fire because they are wicked, it is impossible to understand much of the Book of Isaiah and much of the Book of Revelation.
The salvation of the people from the nations can be understood readily in the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Matthew. The saved people from the nations are the sheep, for whom the Kingdom of God has been prepared. Thus they are part of the Kingdom, just as the Church is the government of the Kingdom.
One way of putting it is that we Christians are being trained so we can install and maintain a kingdom on the earth—a kingdom that is the inheritance of the "sheep."
Then the King will say to those on his right, "Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world." (Matthew 25:34)
The Kingdom is prepared for the people (sheep) saved from the nations, as God deals with us Christians. We must consider ourselves as a royal priesthood who will make it possible for the "sheep" to be reconciled to God and He to them. We have to go through a severe training by the Lord before we will be able to make it possible for the sheep and God to be reconciled, one to the other.
This is why today's preaching, in which the congregations are being told how God wants to make the believers prosperous and comfortable, is so terribly disastrous. The true training from the Lord teaches us to be more concerned about God's desires and the needs of people rather than how all of our desires should be met.
I believe, from my experience with the Lord, that we have to find out by revelation how incomparably valuable an inheritance of people truly is. Then we will not be so interested in living comfortably in a mansion in Heaven.
The Kingdom of God is created in the saints (holy ones) as we are born again and then formed in the image of Christ. This is the inner Kingdom of God. It is the forming of Christ in us that is the preparation of the Kingdom the sheep are to inherit.
The outer Kingdom of God will come when Christ and His brothers appear and govern the people living on the earth.
If we should find the demands of the Christian discipleship not to our liking, we cannot then choose to become one of the "sheep" and not have to experience the trials suffered by the members of the royal priesthood. If we are one of God's elect, and turn away from the rigors of discipleship, we will be led into the outer darkness when Christ appears.
Where is the government of the Kingdom now? It is wherever the saints are, in Heaven or on the earth. It is invisible. It will become visible when Jesus and His saints appear and govern with the iron scepter.
Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'Here it is,' or 'There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:20)
It is of note here that the Pharisees were interested in the coming of the Kingdom of God. This reveals a mindset different from what we have today. The "coming of the Kingdom" is the reverse of the Heaven mindset.
Also, "the kingdom of God is within you" is better translated "the Kingdom of God is among you." The Kingdom of God was not in the disciples at that time; but it was in the Lord Jesus.
For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. (Luke 17:24)
The "rapture" teaching of the present day suggests that the Lord Jesus is coming in secret to whisk away the believers. There will be no secret rapture. There is no scriptural basis for a catching up of the believers prior to the event mentioned in Luke 17:24. And that event assuredly is no secret!
According to the fourth chapter of First Thessalonians, the Lord shall return with multitudes of saints. They, along with the victorious believers who are alive on the earth at that time, shall receive Spirit-filled bodies and ascend to meet the Lord in the air. According to our current tradition, this shall take place secretly.
The saints who have returned with the Lord Jesus, have been in Heaven for a period of time—some for thousands of years. So why would it be sensible for them to then return to Heaven?
We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. (I Thessalonians 4:14)
According to the "rapture" doctrine, all these who are caught up in the secret rapture will then go to Heaven—presumably at that time to go to their mansion.
For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. (Luke 17:24)
If there was going to be a secret rapture prior to the above verse, why didn't the Lord Jesus tell the Pharisees that if they served Him they would not have to wait for His coming "like the lightning" but would be caught up in secret?
Really, the whole notion of a secret rapture preceding the coming of "the Son of Man in his day" is not a respectable doctrine. The result of the "secret" teaching has been to put the believers into a waiting mode instead of doing each day what is necessary for them to enter the Kingdom of God at the present time; and also to prepare themselves to be part of the army of judges that will accompany Christ.
I think you will agree with me that the following passage is stating that the moment Christ is revealed, people who were unprepared were destroyed.
Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. People 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. (Luke 17:26,27)
I do not believe every person who is not among those who were caught up to Christ when He appears will be destroyed. If that were the case, there would be no nations of people for Christ and His saints to govern.
But it is evident many shall be destroyed—perhaps those who had been called by the Lord but did not consecrate themselves to His service.
The "secret rapture" doctrine is maintaining that prior to the Day of the Lord, all people who "accept Christ" will be caught up to Heaven. Meanwhile, the people living on the earth may or may not be aware that Christ has come secretly. They will not be destroyed.
But then, perhaps years later, when Christ appears like the lightning, destruction will come upon the unprepared people on the earth.
In this case, where will the saints be who have been caught up during the period between the secret rapture and the coming of Christ "like the lightning"? Will they or will they not return with Christ when He comes like the lightning?
If we say they, having been caught up to their mansion in Heaven, do not return with Christ, we are going against the Scripture. Paul teaches clearly that we will appear with Christ.
When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4)
Are we then to conclude that the saints will be caught up to meet Christ and then go to Heaven' Then, after a period of time, return to earth in the Battle of Armageddon and face Antichrist, Satan, the False Prophet, and the armies of the wicked?
When Revelation teaches us that Christ shall return at the head of His army and defeat the armies of Antichrist, are any of the members of Christ's army those who were caught up in a secret rapture?
What, then, is the purpose of the secret rapture? I think it is maintained that the purpose is to escape Antichrist and the Great Tribulation. If then the secret rapture is to permit fearful believers to escape Antichrist and the Great Tribulation, where, then, will they gain the courage to return with Christ and confront Satan and the armies of the wicked?
Some maintain that there will be no secret rapture until the end of the Great Tribulation. Thus the purpose would not be to escape the Tribulation. What then would be the purpose of a secret rapture of the believers to Heaven?
Here is another point of interest. The passage of Scripture that supposedly sets forth the secret rapture, says that the saints are caught up to meet the Lord in the air. There is a considerable difference between being caught up into the air to meet the Lord, and being caught up to Heaven.
I think the idea is that we will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air and then return with Him to Heaven.
If this is true, and there is no scriptural support for it, it is conjecture, the same question exists. What would be the purpose? Why would Jesus, before He is to make His grand return to the earth, secretly catch up to Heaven all who have "accepted Christ," many of whom are spiritual babies?
If the purpose is not to escape Antichrist, the great tribulation, or the moral chaos that America is approaching, what then is the purpose of the so-called pre-tribulation rapture?
The truth is, the return of the Lord Jesus to bring His Kingdom to the earth, as described in Matthew, Luke, and First Thessalonians, Four, is the historic Day of the Lord, the one coming of the Lord.
The teaching of the rapture, whether pre-tribulation, or mid-tribulation, or post-tribulation, is an error. The fruit of the doctrine of the rapture is immature believers who are not pressing forward in Christ. Why should they press forward in Christ? There is nothing to be gained by it, since they will be caught up in a sovereignly imposed rapture.
Sometimes it is said that by threatening the believers with an any-moment rapture they will serve the Lord fervently. It does not seem to work like that, Perhaps it might work for a month or two; but after that the believers turn back into their fleshly ways, trusting in grace to insure their participation in the rapture.
In any case, believers who will behave themselves only if they think the Lord is about to come, do not have a heart for Christ. If they are afraid of being caught in their sins, they do not really know the Lord or love God.
The truth is, when Christ appears "like the lightning," those Christians who are living victorious lives, as well as those who died in victory in Christ, will be given Spirit-filled bodies and will be caught up to meet the Commander-in Christ in the air.
They will mount the white war stallions and descend with their Lord to install the Kingdom of God on the earth. This will not be a secret. There will be the shout of war, the voice of the Archangel Michael, and the trumpet of God announcing the great cavalry charge.
This is the truth and it can be verified by many passages of Scripture. There is no scriptural basis whatever for a secret rapture in which God takes His Church to Heaven before Jesus returns.
I hope that the rapture myth soon will be discarded by devout Christian leaders as they read their Bible and listen to the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is speaking today about our confessing and turning away from our sins so we can stand during the moral chaos that is approaching our country.
It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed. On that day no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them. Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything. Remember Lot's wife! (Luke 17:30-32)
Think carefully about the passage above. According to the rapture doctrine, God will call up to Himself those who are to be saved. Yet in the above passage, which is in the context of the Lord coming "like the lightning," the Lord is imposing conditions that would be impossible to keep except for the most devout Christian believer:
No one should return to his house and goods but go straight to the Lord who has just appeared like the lightning. No one working in the field should go back to check on his family or animals. Are the people who have been left on the earth possibly years after the rapture going to be able to keep such conditions? Not likely. Only the most consecrated Christian, if he were caught down town, would go straight to Jesus without returning to his or her family.
Can you see that if the Church had been caught up previously, Jesus would be speaking to those with no Christian training, telling them that when He appears they are to go straight to Him without looking back for an instant—like Lot's wife? This is ridiculous!
Below is the true and only coming of Christ to gather His saints from one end of the heavens to the other. There shall be no rapture before this coming:
At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And 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 24:30,31)
If there were a secret rapture prior to the above event (which certainly is not a secret), and its purpose was to catch up the elect to Heaven, why then does it say in the passage above that this is the time when the angels will gather the elect from one end of the heavens to the other?
Are the angels going to gather those who had been caught up to Heaven previously in a secret rapture? This makes sense?
Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by some prophecy, report or letter supposed to have come from us, saying that the day of the Lord has already come. (II Thessalonians 2:1,2)
"Our being gathered to Him." "The day of the Lord."
Doesn't it seem to you that Paul here is speaking of the one coming of Christ in which the saints are gathered to Him? And wouldn't Paul be referring back to what he wrote in First Thessalonians, the fourth Chapter? Is there any evidence that Paul was teaching the Thessalonian believers about two different occasion when the elect are gathered to Christ?
Notice that Paul refers to the gathering to Christ as being "the day of the Lord." Is it likely that there are to be two days of the Lord?
So if anyone tells you, "There he is, out in the desert," do not go out; or, "Here he is, in the inner rooms," do not believe it. For as lightning that comes from the east is visible even in the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Wherever there is a carcass, there the vultures will gather. (Matthew 24:26-28)
The greatest of all Kings is not going to return in secret. His return will be what we would expect from the King of kings and the Lord of lords. No sneaking away here!
The word "vultures" should be "eagles." It means that when the slain Lamb appears in the sky, those who live by His body and blood, the "eagles," will be caught up to be with Him. This concept is important to us. As we study the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John we see that as we eat the flesh of Christ and drink His blood we are taking into ourselves His Resurrection Life.
Suffice it to say that if we are to be caught up to Christ in the Day of the Lord, we must be among those who have learned to live by His Life just as He lives by the Father's Life.
Here we see the destructive impact of the rapture teaching. The rapture teaching suggests that we are eligible to be caught up to meet Christ in the air on the basis of our belief in correct theology. The truth is, we are caught up to meet Christ if we have learned to live by His Life in this present world.
Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. (John 6:57)
A young man once told me that he did not believe what I was saying. But then he had a dream in which he saw Christ in the sky and was unable to rise to meet Him.
Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left. (Luke 17:33-35)
It is a Kingdom principle that if we attempt to keep our life we will lose it; and if we lose our life in Christ we will preserve it. The only manner in which we will be able to survive the Gentile holocaust is by setting aside (losing) our own life and learning to live by the Life of the Lord Jesus.
How this applies to the gathering of the elect to Christ I am not certain. Perhaps it is true that if we are accustomed to living our own life, not laboring to enter into the rest of God in which we live by His Life, we will not be able to respond to or even hear the summons. Notice that the call comes at night, making it even more imperative that at all times we are ready to leave all and go to meet Jesus in the sky.
It is of note that people who have been accustomed to living together and working together will be divided, one being gathered together with the Lord and His saints, and the other being left behind.
I think the Lord is telling us that those who are taken are saints who have been living in victory. They may work together with others or live together with others, but in the sight of God they are different. It always is to him who overcomes; never to them who overcome.
The people who will be ready to receive a Spirit-filled body and ascend to meet the Lord are the participants in the first resurrection. They are a holy priesthood and will rule along with Him for a thousand years. They are an elite group, like David's mighty men. They are not as numerous as we could wish.
I don't imagine most of the church people would take kindly to the idea that there are some among them who will be singled out to rule with Christ, while the remainder have to wait until the end of the thousand-year Kingdom Age before they are given a new body and are part of the Lord's army. Nevertheless, like it or not, it is true. One shall be taken and the other left.
In the day in which we are living, the Lord Jesus is calling out His firstfruits. Whoever chooses to do so may respond and join these "mighty men." But it is a totally demanding program, and some may choose to retain their own Christian ways and no go out of the camp with Christ, so to speak.
It is our choice to make; and if we continue in our customary way we are going to be appalled when we discover that people we have been very close to are caught up to be with Christ and we are left behind.
When you hear of wars and revolutions, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away. (Luke 21:9)
Sometimes people will point to wars and revolutions and say, "The coming of the Lord must be at hand." But Jesus said, "The end will not come right away."
Throughout Church history there have been occasions when someone would announce that the Lord is coming on such and such a date. But they always have been wrong. Time does not exist in the spirit world, and so when God says something, we think it is imminent.
It is my personal opinion that the return of Christ is many years in the future. I think I am correct in saying that the Lord's firstfruits are still scattered about in the various denominations. I don't see how Christ can come for His army of judges until a substantial period of time has occurred. The churches of today are filled with baby Christians!
There is so much incorrect doctrine today! The lawless grace doctrine, for one. The pre-tribulation "rapture" is another. The "faith" and "prosperity" errors are a third. And there may yet be more, because God's people are in love with themselves, helped along by the philosophy of Humanism.
The theology of Dispensationalism is not scriptural. It has components that are mischievous and destructive, such as lawless grace, and a Gentile Church and Jewish Kingdom.
It seems to me, and I may be quite incorrect in this, that a great many Christians, being spiritual babies because of the present teaching, are not nearly ready to receive a Spirit-filled body; be caught up to meet Christ in the air; and then descend to the earth in order to break the back of the evil forces.
I understand that one shall be gathered to the Lord and another left. I think this is speaking of the elect, those called by the Lord to be members of His royal priesthood. If Christ were to come today, how many of God's elect would be competent to leave everything and rise in the air to meet Christ without looking back, let alone return with Him to cleanse the earth of evil?
If I am hearing the Spirit of God correctly He is not speaking about an imminent return of Christ. The Spirit's emphasis is on the need for Christian people to confess and turn away from their sins. Christ will help us do just that if we ask Him.
But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. (Luke 21:12)
I don't believe we American Christians are prepared for severe persecution. Why not? Because we have been taught that we will be "raptured" before we experience severe persecution.
If Christian people are to be raptured so they are not exposed to persecution, why, then, did Jesus instruct us how to behave when we are brought before kings and governors (as the Apostle Paul was!)?
Unless I am mistaken, and I hope I am, we Christians in America are going to suffer severe persecution. Already we see evidences that the holidays of other religions can be celebrated by public institutions, but not Christian holidays. School districts are forbidding the children to read the Bible during recess, in some instances. Being 86 years of age, I never thought I would see such hostility against what used to be the prevailing religion of America.
Also, there is some evidence that the President of our country is somewhat apt to favor the Muslim religion, although he claims to be a Christian.
It is clear that America is going in a direction that our citizens of a hundred years ago would never have thought possible. One prominent American statesman declared recently that the laws of the United Nations have authority over our own national laws. And we know that the laws proceeding from the United Nations concerning children are not in harmony with our American laws regarding boys and girls.
Unless God intervenes in a miraculous manner, I believe within twenty years we will witness Christian people in jail because they refuse to obey the laws that insist our children must be taught immoral practices.
I think it is apparent that the "rapture" teaching has left the American Christians unprepared for the grim realities on the horizon. They are not preparing themselves to stand in the "evil day" because they have been taught they never will be required to live during an evil day.
You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. By standing firm you will gain life. (Luke 21:16-19)
I think such hatred is on the way, from what I have read in the newspaper. We are not used to this, especially from our family and friends. We will have to pray much if we are to keep unforgiveness and bitterness out of our heart.
Notice that the Lord said "They will put some of you to death." Then He said further, "Not a hair of your head will perish." Sounds kind of contradictory, doesn't it?
Apparently the Lord does not consider, when we have been put to death, that a hair of our head has perished. And why not? Because by standing firm in faith in Christ our hair is preserved along with the rest of us. If we do not see our hair when we enter the spirit world, we certainly shall in the Day of Resurrection.
You know, because of our Gospel of Heaven we have relegated the idea of our resurrection to a minor place in our thinking. Perhaps in our day the true "Blessed Hope" will be restored. The true Blessed Hope is that of immortality in the body, not eternal residence in a mansion in Heaven.
And our immortal body will possess all of its original hair—"not a hair of your heard will perish"!
"There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." (Luke 21:25-28)
There will be no pre-tribulation rapture of the believers into Heaven. Look carefully at the preceding passage. What does it tell us?
Before the Son of Man comes in a cloud with power and great glory:
There will be signs in the sun, moon, and stars.
Nations will be in anguish.
The oceans will be "roaring and tossing."
People will faint with terror because of what they see happening around them.
The heavenly bodies will be shaken.
Only at that time will people see Christ coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
What are we to do when this uproar begins to take place? "Stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."
Why is Jesus teaching us what to do if we are not going to be on the earth at that time?
What is the manner of our redemption that is to draw near? It is the transforming us from a flesh and blood human being to a flesh and Spirit human being. "We shall be changed in a moment," Paul declared.
There may be some who maintain that this passage is referring to Jewish people. If such is the case, why isn't all that is said in the four Gospels directed only to Jewish people? Why isn't it just the Jews who must be born again to see the Kingdom; who must abide in Christ to bear fruit?
No, there are traditions today about a Gentile Church being in Heaven at this time and looking down at the Jews who are preaching the Gospel without the Holy Spirit, the Spirit having gone up to Heaven when the Gentiles were raptured.
The current doctrine about a Gentile Church and a Jewish Kingdom is absolutely fallacious. There is only one Seed of Abraham, and that is the Lord Jesus Christ and those who are part of Him, whether Jewish or Gentile by birth. There is only one Olive Tree. There is only one new Man.
Those who set forth such an unscriptural concept as a Gentile Church have no scriptural support.
How can so many outstanding Bible teachers be wrong? I do not know. I do know that they have left the Bible when they refer to a "Gentile Church." The New Testament absolutely will not admit to this. Any high school student who knew the Bible could prove that easily.
I guess it is a spirit of blindness, similar to the blindness God put upon Israel concerning Jesus Christ in spite of the fifty-third chapter of the Book of Isaiah.
Changing the Gospel of the Kingdom of God to the Gospel of Going to Heaven is another example of spiritual blindness. I think it is time now to return to the Scriptures.
Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near. (Luke 21:31)
It has been said that Israel becoming a nation is a sign that the Kingdom of God is near. But Jesus said, "When you see these things happening." So Israel becoming a nation is not the sign that the Kingdom of God is near, rather it is the signs in the heavens and the upheavals of nature, people fainting from fear, that signify the nearness of the coming of the Kingdom of God to the earth.
I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. (Luke 21:32)
The verse above could mean that the Jewish race will not pass away until all that Jesus has stated has come to pass; or it could mean that the generation that experiences the tumult in the heavens and in nature will live to see the Lord return in power.
Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. (Luke 21:34)
This admonition applies especially to American Christians because of our material wealth. Some have said that Jesus' statement cannot apply to the rapture, because the rapture will come suddenly without preliminary signs that would give us time to prepare.
The truth is, once these signs begin, people will not be able to repent. Repentance always is a gift from God, and it will not be granted once the tumult commences. The righteous will remain righteous and the filthy will remain filthy.
Remember, in the parable of the virgins, how those who attempted to buy oil when the Bridegroom came were unable to do so.
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. Later the others also came. "Sir! Sir!" they said. "Open the door for us!" But he replied, "I tell you the truth, I don't know you." (Matthew 25:10-12)
It is imperative that we remain watchful. The Spirit is urging us today to purify ourselves so that we will be able to see Him as He is when He appears from Heaven.
Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:36)
When Jesus said "pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man," I am sure that some understand this to mean we will be raptured to Heaven and stand safely in the Presence of Christ.
But if we have been weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and were raptured out of trouble, we could not stand before the Son of Man because of our sin. So this interpretation does not hold up.
There is this much about it. If our hearts are wrong and we are looking for a way to outwit God's insistence on righteous behavior, then we will accept the current lawless-grace doctrine, not realizing we have been deceived.
But if our heart is right, and we know and accept the fact that we have to live a consecrated life if we are to please God and be accepted of Him, then the Spirit of God will enable us to see through the current flesh-pleasing preaching, realizing it is unscriptural and contrary to all that God has revealed from the beginning of the creation.
Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, (Matthew 24:12)
I don't know if we are in the period Jesus is referring to, but there is no doubt that in America there is an increase of wickedness. According to the Lord, when wickedness increases, the love of the majority of Christians will grow cold.
But he who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matthew 24:13)
The Gospel of Christ, as it is presented today, is like a ticket. "Accept Christ," and you forever are saved from Hell and guaranteed a mansion in Heaven. One sign I saw in front of a Salvation Army shop, said, "Come in and get a free trip to Heaven." This is how the Gospel is preached.
There is no doubt, however, that the new Testament does not teach a one-time experience that serves as a ticket. How many verses point out that the Christian salvation is a discipleship that begins when we first receive Christ and ends when we die and pass into the spirit world!
It appears certain that the current teaching of "accept Christ" as a ticket to Heaven has contributed to the present babyhood of the believers. There are many church-goers who have no awareness of what it means to present our body a living sacrifice that we may be able to prove the will of God for our own life.
They know nothing of the many years of patiently carrying our cross, following Jesus into pleasant paths and also into very difficult situations. They never have heard of the problems we encounter as we become a new creation of righteous behavior.
They have been taught that if they "accept Christ" they will "go to Heaven" when they die. They are not aware that these two expressions are not found in the Bible.
Well, a person might say, while the exact phrases may not be in the Bible, what they represent is found in the Bible. It is true that if what we mean by a phrase is Biblical, the phrasing is not critical. However, the unscriptural phrasing may be revealing an unscriptural meaning. And such is the case when we say "accept Christ" and you will go to Heaven.
When we say, "accept Christ," we mean, profess belief in our theology. We ordinarily do not mean "come to know the Man, Jesus, in a personal way and become His disciple." We are saying, "Here is the free ticket to Heaven. Just accept it."
When we say "you will go to Heaven," we are stressing an incorrect goal. We do not "accept Christ" so we can go to Heaven. There is no scriptural basis for this. We receive Christ so we can come out from the present world, die with Him on the cross, and enter newness of life in His resurrection Life.
In the footnotes of my Bible the statement is made: "We do not have to endure to the end to be saved. Salvation is a sovereign work of God." This is how far down we have fallen. We are willing to challenge the statement of God's Son.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)
The above is telling us of the latter-rain, or spring-rain, revival that is to take place before the Lord returns. It is described in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Revelation as two witnesses. Christ is one Witness. Those in whom Christ is living is the second witness.
Thus there are three massive interventions of God that will bring in the Kingdom Age, the thousand years often referred to as the "Millennium."
The first intervention is the spring-rain revival of the two witnesses.
The second intervention is the return of Christ with His saints and warrior angels. Their judgment will result with one angel hurling Satan into the Bottomless Pit; and Antichrist and the False Prophet being thrown into the Lake of Fire.
The third intervention is the cleansing of the earth at the hand of Christ and His army of judges. The victory at Armageddon, as the power of Satan, Antichrist, and the False Prophet are overthrown, will make it possible for Christ and His saints to go through the earth and destroy all that remains of the evil works of Satan, Antichrist, and the False Prophet.
The cleansing of the earth is described in the second chapter of the Book of Joel.
The first intervention, that of the preaching of the Gospel of the Kingdom to every nation as a witness, is soon to come. We are being prepared for this baptism with the double portion of God's Spirit by being given the understanding that we are not to attempt to glorify ourselves when the power of the seven thunders is released in our custody. God often loses His servants when He gives them power, and we must avoid that.
Notice that it is the Gospel of the Kingdom that is to be announced. This is because it is a testimony of the coming of God's Kingdom to the earth. It would be foolish for God's witnesses to preach about the saints going to Heaven, when that is not what is going to take place.
In actual truth, those who are telling people today that they are saved to go to Heaven to live in a mansion are bearing a false witness!
So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel—let the reader understand—(Matthew 24:15)
He will confirm a covenant with many for one "seven." In the middle of the "seven" he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing of the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him. (Daniel 9:27)
If my understanding is correct, Antichrist will place a statue of himself on the wing of the Temple in Jerusalem, at the very place that Satan placed Christ. This is the abomination that causes desolation.
Now, what does this mean?
Christ was tested to see if He would tempt God by acting according to His self-will. The Bible says the angels would bear Him up if He was dwelling in the shadow of the Most High. Now the suggestion was made that Christ jump off the roof of the Temples to see if God would indeed keep Him safe.
A Christian must survive three temptations: to avoid looking to the world for survival, security, and pleasure; to refuse to yield to the lusts and passions of his body and spirit; and to not follow his own will but only God's will.
It appears to me that from the beginning of time, people for the most part, including Christian people, prefer to lead their own life instead of learning to seek God's will in all they think, speak, and do. This is why the world and the churches are in such confusion all the time.
To the present moment, Christian people have not always been taught to set aside their own life that they may live by the Life of Christ.
The people of the world simply ignore God and go about their own business.
The time when people live according to their own understanding is drawing to a close. When Jesus returns, we will learn to live according to God's will only.
Christ on the wing of the Temple refused to "step out in faith," as we are encouraged to do today. He would have been standing there yet if God had not permitted Him to climb down. Or maybe God carried Him down.
I think sometimes from what I hear that most Church organizations do not know what it means to listen to Jesus. They promote this seminar, that event, the next retreat. But I do not get the feeling they are hearing from Jesus. I believe they are doing what they feel is right and expected of them. But they "step out in faith," trusting that God will help them.
Maybe they don't know that Jesus will tell us what to do if we will stop and listen. Maybe they are afraid they will look foolish if they do not get busy at some good work. Or perhaps they are afraid that if they stop "doing something" that Christ will not speak.
In any case, the abomination that causes desolation is that of man being his own God. That is the Antichrist spirit. God has given us a brain and we are to use it for His Glory, it is ventured.
But this is not why God gave us a brain. He gave us a brain so we would understand that we are to commit all of our ways to the Lord and not lean to our own understanding.
I believe as time goes on and we perceive how wicked the world will become, even our own nation, we will realize the situation is hopeless. Then each of us, if we are to save ourselves and our loved ones, are going to have to get used to listening to Jesus for every thought we think; every word we speak; and everything we do. Only then will we survive and be able to stand before Christ with those who have listened to us.
If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. (Matthew 24:22)
I believe "those days" is speaking of Antichrist and the Great Tribulation. It appears God's elect are on the earth at this time; and for their sake, the period of tribulation will be shortened. Had the elect not been on the earth at this time, everyone would have died.
Immediately after the distress of those days "the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken." At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory. And 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)
The above passage gives us the sequence. First will come the Great Tribulation. Immediately after the Great Tribulation the awesome events will occur in the sun, moon, and stars. Next the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky. Then the Son of Man will appear on the clouds with power and great glory.
I think the above is quite clear and it is the words of Christ Himself. So any teaching that speaks of a "rapture" by which people can escape the Great Tribulation appears to be in error. Perhaps the rapture doctrine is wishful thinking rather than one based in the Scripture.
It is at this time that the elect are gathered to Christ, not at some previous time.
And it certainly is not a Jewish elect. How could one distinguish between a Gentile elect gathered to Christ at a previous time and now a Jewish elect gathered to Christ. If they both are Christian sharing the same body and blood of Christ, rising to meet the slain Lamb in the sky, how could there be two separate occasions? Wishful thinking on the part of Gentiles—many of whom may have Jewish blood in them and not realize it.
The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 24:50,51)
The context of the passage above is the contrast between the rewards given to the faithful servant and the rewards given to the wicked servant.
When the Lord returns He will place the faithful servant in a position of rulership, but the wicked servant will be cut to pieces.
Now both of these men were the Lord's servants. The one came to a desirable end and the other to a terrible end.
Can you see here the problem with the teaching of "once saved always saved"?
Because of the teaching of lawless-grace and that of "once saved always saved," the Christians of our country, while zealous to do commendable social works, such as feeding the poor, are moral skeletons. The preachers no longer thunder about righteous, holy living. The people are told that since they have "accepted Christ," they can live their life pretty much as they please.
The following comment is by David French, taken from a blog post in the National Review, March 14th, 2012: "We go on sinning so that grace may abound. The secular stereotype of the modern evangelical—as a judgmental moralizer—is so wrong as to be laughable."
It is true that the moral strength of the Christian people has been severely weakened, and many people deplore this. But the cause is crystal clear. The preachers are preaching lawless-grace and the eternal security of the believer.
If one were to go to a social psychologist and ask him what would be the effect on people if they were taught lawless-grace and eternal security, he or she would predict that such people would be weak morally.
It is no mystery that Christian people no longer are revealing in themselves the character of Christ. The light of the world in America has been extinguished. The salt has lost its savor. The fear of God has left the land.
We are seeing the results of such moral decline today, in the entertainment field, in the government, in the public schools, and in business practices. It may be true that twenty years from now, America will hardly be recognizable. God sooner or later will reveal His displeasure, and the consequences will be fearful indeed.
Let us prepare ourselves and our loved ones by pressing into the Lord Jesus as closely as we can, and obeying Him strictly at all times. He will save us and help us to stand. But the casual Christians are going to experience much suffering.