“But now Christ is risen”

Friday, April 6, 2018

God loves mankind whom He made in His own image, and sent His Son Jesus Christ to suffer the penalty of death to redeem fallen mankind. Herein is God’s love revealed to all who by grace through faith believe Christ, who believe upon His death for the remission of their sins, and also necessarily believe upon His resurrection – these are foundational truths to salvation faith.

But Satan and his fallen angels are the enemies of mankind. They come only to steal, kill and destroy. They inspire lies and proud religious deceptions; they create deceits that ensnare and wars that destroy man. And in this present age Satan is allowed to prosper until God wins the victory for us “at the last day” (John 6:40), at “the last trumpet” (1 Cor. 15:51–52), at “the first resurrection” (Rev. 20:4–6), when “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven” (1 Thess. 4:16).

Many argue against the truth that Satan is allowed to prosper in this present age, but God’s Word says that, “the same horn [Antichrist] was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom” (Dan. 7:21–22).

If you are a saint of the Most High, then Dan. 7:21–22 applies to you. Revelation reveals the same, saying, “It was granted to him [Antichrist] to make war with the saints and to overcome them. And authority was given him over every tribe, tongue and nation” (Rev. 13:7). These truths, however, are disbelieved by most Christians who have been taught the unbiblical pre-tribulation rapture. Sadly, they believe that these Scriptures have no application to them.

But that’s exactly what Satan wants. The demonic pre-trib rapture narrative has been created by Satan to make unfruitful many Scriptures that teach believers for the times of the end. But many, having become spiritually blinded by false teachers, believe their false narrative as it pleases the undiscerning mind of flesh. Ultimately, this is Satan’s attack on the resurrection of saints.

The foundational truth of the Christian faith is the resurrection of Jesus Christ; for, “if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty…For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (1 Cor. 15:14, 16–19).

Therefore, since the resurrection of Christ is so vital for Christian truth, it should not come as a surprise that Satan attacked not only the resurrection of Christ, but also the promised resurrection of redeemed saints “at the last day” (John 6:44). It’s clear that the Serpent initially struck at the resurrection of Christ when Roman soldiers bore false witnesses saying Christ’s body was stolen from the tomb, though His tomb was well-guarded.

When that false report didn’t stop the advance of the gospel and truth of Christ’s resurrection, Satan inspired false teachers in the first century church “saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some” (2 Tim. 2:18). Mission accomplished! The report of an early resurrection caused some to lose hope in the “the blessed hope” (Titus 2:13), and their faith in Christ was overthrown; they were overcome with hopelessness! It will happen again.

That’s Satan’s specialty, and looking to the end of this age he devised a plot to offend, to cause an overthrow of faith in Christ and the promised resurrection. It began in about 1830 with John Darby’s pre-tribulation rapture. The undiscerning took Satan’s bait – being self-deceived and having learned from other false teachers who also listened to deceiving spirits and fables.

It should be no surprise, then, that Satan, looking to the end of this present age, attacked “the blessed hope”, the resurrection of the righteous by creating yet another “early” resurrection he called the pre-tribulation rapture. The lie consists in saying that Christ gathers His saints before the tribulation even begins – that it occurs seven years before the last day, though Christ “must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything” (Acts 3:21 NIV).

That deception is now widespread and the hook of deceit is set, as many Christians hope in a hopeless lie destined to cause great offense when the tribulation and Antichrist are revealed and they find themselves right here on earth to be confronted by Antichrist in the tribulation. Will the lie be discovered by Christians before it’s too late? Will those who believe the hopeless pre-trib rapture lie be strong enough in the Lord to overcome the offense, and endure to the end?

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). So, the question is this, “If Jesus is the truth, (and He is) and He said He gathers His elect saints “Immediately after the tribulation”, how is it that many so-called Christians do not believe that that truth applies to them? The answer is simple – Satan has caused his lie and deception of unbelief to prosper! Satan’s lie promises an easier end, and many believe him.

False prophets prevail today just as they prevailed in ancient Israel. They regularly rejected the true prophets of God, and more often than not believed false prophets. But you and I are tasked with discerning false prophets and teachers, for God said, “That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9).

“But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead” (1 Cor. 15:20–21). How do you suppose Christ feels about the fact that millions who profess Him, disbelieve His Words for the time of the end? Knowing His suffering and resurrection, how can one disbelieve Christ who said He is “the truth”? For many, He’s very obviously not “the truth”.

The Spirit said through Paul “that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15:50–52).

Jesus said, “this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up [in the resurrection] at the last day” (John 6:40). For emphasis and driving home the point that the resurrection of the righteous dead occurs “at the last day”, Jesus repeats that phrase twice more in verses 44 and 54. Do you believe Him?

Marlin J. Yoder

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