Friday, March 9, 2018
To the terror of principalities, powers and rulers of the darkness of this age, the resurrection of Jesus Christ validated His earthly ministry and title, Messiah, the Son of God. Consequently, the promised resurrection of His saints has been under attack by satanic forces. Even from the first century AD some taught an early resurrection, but they “strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already passed; and they overthrow the faith of some” (2 Tim. 2:18).
Scripture shows that the overthrow of Christian faith is the result of false teachings regarding an early resurrection of saints. And, no, this isn’t about knowing “the day or hour”, but the season of, and preparation to endure. The fruit of false teachings of an early resurrection created offense and hopelessness in the first century, and the early pre-trib teaching will do the same again.
The resurrection and rapture of true Christians at the last day will be the ultimate validation for Christians of the earthly ministry of Christ. Until then “the blessed hope” (Titus 2:13) is just that, a hope, believed by faith. In the meantime Satan has caused great controversy and unbelief as to when the resurrection of saints occurs. Most say pre-trib, others say mid-trib, yet others say pre-wrath, but Jesus Christ clearly taught “Immediately after the tribulation” (Matt. 24:29–31).
The blessed hope and resurrection of Christians has become convoluted. It’s become a smorgasbord of multiple choice. But Christ did not minister in multiple choice. The way in which the organized evangelical church has closed the door to this discussion, in that it protects the unbiblical and deceptive pre-trib rapture lie, is evidence that Satan has, in fact, caused great unbelief and destruction to the testimony of Christ, and many saints have fallen prey to it.
You might ask, just how important is the when of the resurrection and rapture of the righteous dead? – when will the Lord Himself descend from heaven for the resurrection of and rapture of saints? It was important enough for God’s Spirit to include it in the very first New Covenant sermon preached by the apostle Peter, and it’s intrinsically linked to repentance.
“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:19–21). The NIV translation of that last verse says that Christ “must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets”.
Anyone who knows the Scriptures about when God restores everything, knows that He does so at the last day of this present age. Consequently, “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” (2 Thess. 4:16–17) at the last day, when God restores everything; not seven years before the last day which would be required for a pre-tribulation rapture.
By the Holy Spirit, Paul preached with equal authority. In his second letter to the church at Thessalonica he said, “Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him…[the same gathering of the elect Jesus taught at Matt. 24:29–31] Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition…Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things?” (2 Thess. 2:1–5). It’s very important that we remember.
The church, today, therefore, must preach the truth of Christ, and be reminded like the first century church that Christians must expect the Lord Himself to descend from heaven when the time has come for God to restore everything “at the last day” (John 6:40, 44, 54), at “the first resurrection” (Rev. 20:4–6), “at the last trumpet” (1 Cor. 15:51–52), for only then will God restore everything, “Immediately after the tribulation” (Matt. 24:29–31) and not before.
Dear saints, be very careful to whom you give ear. If what you are being taught does not agree with the clear, written Word of the Lord, depart from that voice. And do not allow yourself the disgrace of being wooed by groomed speech, those who use swelling words of academic and theological discourse that do not agree with the clear written Word of the Lord.
Paul said of his pre-salvation unsurpassed religious academia, “what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ…and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:7–8). And God reminds us, that, “when they [the religious leaders] saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). To spend time with Jesus and feast on His Word equips the believer in truth and is far better than anything man has to offer.
Christian, the Word of the Lord has been entrusted to you. In that context, “Guard what was committed to your trust, avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge – by professing it some have strayed concerning the faith. Grace be with you. Amen” (1 Tim. 6:20–21).
Why is all this so very important? Because, Satan, the master deceiver, does not want you to know the truth of when Christ descends from heaven for the resurrection and gathering of saints. Satan wants you to believe the flesh-pleasing lie that Christ will snatch you off the earth before the tribulation, a false hope and anti-Christ lie of this age.
The resurrection of Christ is the validation and certainty of the resurrection of true Christians. And the truth of when “the first resurrection” (Rev. 20:4–6) occurs is of great importance. But what about you – have you repented of your sins and unbelief and believed, not only in the Lord Jesus, for, “Even the demons believe – and tremble! (James 2:19), but do you truly believe Him?
Spiritual truths require new birth, Spirit-led discernment. And Jesus taught that the gate to that truth is narrow, its path difficult, and few find it. The gate to unbelief, however, is wide and easy and many go in that way, Matt. 7:13–14. The Holy Spirit confirmed this saying, “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one” (1 Cor. 2:14–15).
Marlin J. Yoder