Friday, April 29, 2016
Conditions in this world are not good. Nations are bankrupt. WWIII could begin anytime. Killer viruses are spawning at uncontrollable rates. Killer earthquakes, volcanoes, flooding, hailstorms and tornadoes kill and destroy. It’s the time of the end, but the tribulation hasn’t even begun.
But it’s not far off. In fact, it could begin in September or October of this year. If it does, I will not at all be surprised. World powers, and specifically the United Nations, are now talking of a forced two-state solution to the 68 year-old Israeli / Palestinian conflict. Yes, Israel is now 68.
I’ve often reminded you that the generation that sees national Jews return to Israel, is the final generation of this present age: see Jesus’ parable of the fig tree at Matthew 24:32–35. I’ve been expecting the tribulation start for a couple years now, but this year is markedly more fitting for the Daniel 9:27 “covenant with many” to come to fruition. The question is, are you “His elect”?
Throughout the Scriptures God speaks of “His elect”, but people who confess knowing Christ by faith must be made to understand the implications of being “His elect”, for, the gate they enter is “narrow”, and the life-path they travel is “difficult”, see Matthew 7:13–14. But if the Christian life is presented as a wide gate and easy path, that preacher / teacher is a deceiver.
Jesus said, “Immediately after the tribulation…He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect” (Matt. 24:29–31). Jesus directs His teaching here to “His elect”, not to the unbelieving world, but to those who actually believe Him.
In the Old Testament, “elect” is the Hebrew word “bachiyr”, meaning, “chosen, choice one, chosen one, elect of God”. At Isaiah 42:1 it refers to the Son of God; at Isaiah 45:4 it refers to, “Israel My elect”; at Isiah 65:9 the “descendants from Jacob”, which includes Christians as they are “Abraham’s seed” (Gal. 3:29); and at Isiah 65:22 saints of both covenants in the millennium.
In the New Testament, “elect” is the Greek word “eklektos”, meaning, “picked out, chosen, chosen by God, Christians are called chosen or elect of God”. Note the unmistakable unity of the Hebrew and Greek terms jointly referring to the people of God. And that body is not divided, for God makes known that He has only “one body…called in one hope” (Eph. 4:4) of all the saints.
At Matt. 24:24 & 24:31; at Mark 13:22 & 13:27, Christ tells “His elect” when to expect, “the first resurrection” (Rev. 20:4–6) of the dead, confirming, “at the last day” (John 6:40, 44, 54), gathering saints from both Covenants as “one body…called in one hope” from across the world. At 1 Tim. 5:21, to holy angels; at 1 Peter 2:6, Jesus; at Rom. 8:33 & Col. 3:12, redeemed saints.
Being a Christian consists of actually believing what Jesus taught and then acting thereon to the best of one’s ability. But if one does not believe Jesus’ teaching, then one will not be motivated to even prepare for His warning, that, “he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matt. 24:13).
But there’s a problem: for the past 180+ years the Western church has taught its people that they are not, “the elect” spoken of in Jesus’ end-time message, but that they belong to a more elite and special group of saints upon whom God bestows favor in partiality by removing them off the earth “before” the onset of the tribulation. And over 95 percent of the church believes that lie.
The result of Darby’s dispensational pre-tribulation rapture doctrine is this: church leadership has ripped apart Christ’s, “one body…called in one hope”, promising present-day saints a hopelessly destitute pre-trib escape, while less fortunate brothers and sisters in Christ suffer the tribulation.
Consequently, most of the church scoffs at preparing for the tribulation. But what they don’t know is that they are represented by the foolish virgins of Matthew 25:1–13 who did not think it necessary to prepare to endure until the end. The wise virgins, however, are those who believed the life-path to the end would be “difficult”, prepared, endured and went in with the Bridegroom!
Both have God’s Word. Both may now be the virgins in that parable; both may be the bride of Christ; both are now awaiting the return of the Bridegroom. Both may be, “Abraham’s seed” (Gal. 3:29). God desires both to endure to “the first resurrection” (Rev. 20:4 – 6), “at the last day” (John 6:40, 44, 54) which occurs “Immediately after the tribulation” (Matt. 24:29–31).
But Jesus warned of a great falling away, saying, “then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another” (Matt. 24:10). The Spirit also confirmed it, saying, “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day [the Day of the rapture] will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition” (2 Thess. 2:3).
Offense will motivate the falling away, being a repeat of what ancient Israel did when they were about to enter their eternal inheritance, but seeing giants in Canaan, became offended, hated and betrayed the messengers of truth and desired to return to Egypt, the land of their former bondage. But a New Covenant version of the Old will occur, once again, in the end-time falling away!
God promised, “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. Is there anything of which it may be said, “See, this is new”? It has already been in ancient times before us” (Eccl. 1:9–10). History repeats itself.
The church has largely ignored God’s commands for headship and Jesus’ teaching of the end-times leading to the Day of the rapture. But Jesus promised, “as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man” (Luke 17:26). But the church largely ignores this too, for in Noah’s day nearly all mocked him of the imminent disaster, and all but six perished.
The church has been lulled to sleep by men less than committed to upholding the laws of the Almighty. God’s commands for church headship and His end-time post-tribulation rapture truths were confirmed by the apostles on every point. But men loving tradition more than Christ refuse to defend God’s commands. Thus, division they have sown, and division they shall reap.
Regarding same-sex marriage Jonathan Cahn recently asked the Supreme Court, “It must be asked, this day…where do you get the authority to overrule the rulings of the Most High? By what authority did you strike down the laws of the Almighty?” But that question must first be demanded of Western church leaders who reject God’s authority on multiple points of truth.
Many Christian leaders in America are demanding reform from our government, but was it not Jesus who commanded, saying, “Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matt. 7:5)? Must the church not first repent of unbelief and disorder in its own house and come “under” the commands of Almighty God, “before” it seeks correction of another?
Then there’s this headline from cnsnews.com, “Billy Graham’s Daughter: God Is Turning Away From America And Leaving Us To Our Sins”. Of course, she’s right. I would add, however, the sins of unbelief are nothing new, but as the Spirit’s restraint is increasingly being removed, the result of that unbelief is increasingly revealed. The gulf between belief and unbelief of God’s commands and teachings for the church is dramatically broadening and being fully exposed.
Jesus said, “How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?” (John 5:44). Departure from the teachings of God in Christ does not make one, “His elect”, but one’s sincere and humble obedience thereto does.
Marlin J. Yoder