Category Archives: Christian Living

The Rapture

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The word rapture refers to an event which will mark the end of the Church Age and which will be an occasion of great joy to Christian believers. All believers, both those who have died and those who are alive at the time, will be taken up to meet Jesus Christ, who will have returned to “the air”, earth’s atmosphere. Then, the Christians and the Lord Jesus will return to heaven together. At the time of the Rapture, Christ will not set foot on earth; and He will be visible only to believers. READ 1 Thess. 4:17; Acts 1:11.

The Rapture is to be distinguished from the Second Advent of Christ. While the Rapture sets the stage for the Second Coming, these are two separate events. A chart giving comparisons between these two future appearances of Christ is found in a later section of this article.

There has been controversy for many generations concerning the timing of the final events in human history. The position held by the majority of categorical and fundamental Bible teachers is as follows:

  • We are presently in the dispensation known as the Church Age, and we do not know when this age will end.
  • The Rapture will occur at the end of the Church Age; and the day of the Rapture will be the first day of the sever-year period known as the Great Tribulation.
  • The Second Coming of Christ will occur on the last day of the Tribulation period and will usher in the thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ.

The statements above are part of a position, or viewpoint, concerning the chronology of the final events of human history, a doctrinal concept known as the Pre–Tribulation Rapture / Pre–Millennium Tribulation view. There are several other schools of though among Christian scholars; and this article does not attempt to sort out the differences in these viewpoints categorically.

The study of the various points of view, and an examination of the proofs that the Pre-Tribulation/Pre-Millennial position is the correct one, is indeed a fascinating study. But the students needs considerable background to handle such research, including a thorough knowledge of general prophecy, a good general orientation to the whole Bible, and a lot of practice in tracing threads of logic through interwoven networks of Bible doctrine. For the time being we will settle for …

A Description of the Rapture

The Rapture was promised by the Lord Jesus Christ just before His crucifixion, John 14:1–3. At the Rapture, He keeps His promise and fulfills the prophecy. The Rapture completes the Redemption of the body because the believer receives a resurrection body at that time, Phil. 3:20,21; 1 John 3:1,2. It would be useful at this point to read the description of the Rapture in 1 Cor. 15:51–53 and then to note the comments below concerning the terminology used.

mystery – a doctrine “hidden” from the Old Testament saints. The Rapture is pertinent only to the Church Age and was never revealed to believers living before the beginning of the Church Age.

we shall not all sleep — i.e., there will be some believers alive at the time of the Rapture.

we shall all be changed – refers to the resurrection body.

in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye – a reference to the time element. The Rapture is not a long, drawn out process of evacuation. We will be with Christ instantly.

the dead shall be raised incorruptible – the resurrection body does not include the decay and corruption of sin and death.

we shall all be changed – another reference to the new physical body and new personal attributes associated with the resurrection body.

this corruptible must put on incorruption -the most important feature of the resurrection body is that there will be no Sin Nature.

this mortal must put on immortality – the believer will not die but will receive an immortal body.

The dead in Christ (believers who have died previous to the Rapture) will be raised first. Then, those who are still alive will be taken up. 1 Thess. 4:16,17.

The Rapture is a rendezvous for living and dead Christians. Confidence in the Rapture is based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 1 Thess. 4:18.

In principle, the Lord Jesus Christ is the “first fruits” of the believer, as noted in 1 Cor. 15:20–23. Read this passage first, then note the following comments:

firstfruits – pictures the resurrection of Christ which is a guarantee of our bodily resurrection.

by man came death – through Adam came spiritual death with the end result of physical death for every human.

by man came also the resurrection – by Jesus Christ, in His humanity, came spiritual resurrection (salvation) followed by physical resurrection, Phil. 3:21.

The word “hope”, translated from the Greek word ἐλπίς (elpis), meaning “confidence”, is a technical designation for the Rapture in at least three Bible passages, including:

  • The living hope, 1 Peter 1:3
  • The blessed hope, Titus 2:13
  • The purifying hope, 1 John 3:3

The Rapture takes the sting out of death, 1 Cor. 15:54–56. Therefore, the Rapture removes the despair of bereavement, 1 Thess. 4:13–18. This confidence in the Rapture comes through the obtaining of wisdom, discernment, and knowledge of the Plan of God, Job 19:25–27. The edified believer has confidence. The result is blessing, peace, a relaxed mental attitude, and stability.

The believer has a “reservation” in heaven, 1 Peter 1:4; Eph. 2:6. The Rapture takes the believer to the “mansion” which Christ has prepared in advance, John 14.

The testing which the believer and the Church endure during the Church Age is terminated with the Rapture. The Body of Christ is no longer a target of Satan in spiritual warfare.

It is not known, and cannot be predicted, when the Rapture will occur. Nevertheless, the Bible directs us to pursue certain activities while waiting for the Rapture. These are given in the last section of this article. Meanwhile, take a look at …

What to do While Waiting for the Rapture

Stay in Fellowship. “And now, little children, abide in Him; that when He shall appear, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” 1 John 2:28

Employ the Faith-Rest techniques. “Now we beseech you, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by forged letters as from us, as that day of Christ is at hand.” 2 Thess. 2:1,2

Have Confidence. “Being confident of this very things, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Phil. 1:6

Have Patience. “Be patient, therefore, unto the coming of the Lord…” James 5:7

Grow in Christ by continuing to be edified. “…be ye also patient, stablish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” James 5:8 See also Isaiah 33:4 and 2 Tim. 2:15

Contrasts Between the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ

The Rapture

The Second Coming of Christ

Only believers see Christ. The Rapture is private. Heb. 9:28; Acts 1:11

Every eye shall see Him. The Second Coming of Christ is public. Rev. 1:7

Christ meets believers in the air, 1 Thess. 4:17

Christ sets foot on the Mount of Olives, Zech. 14:4

Believers are taken off the earth, John 14:3

Unbelievers are taken off the earth, Mt. 24:37f

Believers go to heaven, 1 Thess. 4:17

At the Second Coming, believers come back to earth with Christ, 1 Thess. 3:13; Col. 3:4;, 2 Thess 4:13; Zech. 14:5

There is no timetable for the Rapture

The Second Coming is seven years after the Rapture, Matt. 24:29-30

Believers are rewarded. 1 Cor. 3:11-15; Rev. 22:12

Unbelievers are judged at the Second Coming; the Baptism of Fire takes place, Matt. 25:31,32,46

The Rapture is a source of comfort to the believer, 1 Thess. 4:18

The Second Coming of Christ is a source of terror for the unbeliever, Rev. 6:15-17

There are no changes in nature associated with the Rapture

There are many changes in nature associated with the Second Coming, Isa. 35

The world is not judged at the Rapture.

The people of the world are judged, Jude 15

The Rapture is a mystery of the Church Age, 1 Cor. 15:51

The Second Coming is the subject of extensive prophecy in the Old Testament.

The unconditional covenants such as those with Abraham and David are not fulfilled at the Rapture.

The covenants are fulfilled at the Second Coming; Israel inherits her possessions.

There is no dealing with Satan or demons at the Rapture.

At the Second Coming, Satan is bound for a thousand years, Rev. 20:2.

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Servants of God

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God commands Christians to be faithful and obedient servants.

Deut. 10:12 “And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord with all thy heart and with all thy soul.”

Micah 6:8 “He hath shown thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord required of thee, but to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

Psalm 100:2 “Serve the Lord with gladness; come before his presence with singing.”

Josh. 24:14,15

Service is to be rendered as unto the Lord Jesus Christ, John 12:23-26

Col. 3:24 “Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”

The believer’s service is to be rendered to people.

Christian service makes life noble.

Mark 10:43,44 “But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.”

Christian service exemplifies neighborliness.

Luke 10:36,37

Christian service is Christ-like, John 13:1-17

Christian service demonstrates love, John 21:15-17

Christian service lightens life’s burdens, Gal. 5:13-15; Gal. 6:1-10; Acts 20:17-20; Heb. 10:23-25

The place of worship and the place of service. We also “assemble” for service. The Body functions as a congregation.

As God’s servants, believers have specific responsibilities.

Christians are to leave all to follow Christ.

Phil. 3:7,8 “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may win Christ.”

Believers are to render undivided service.

1 Chron. 15:10-15

1 Sam. 7:3 “And Samuel spoke unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only; and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines. Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the Lord only.”

Believers are to serve with humility, Acts 20:18,19

Believers are to serve with courage.

Deut. 1:17 “Ye shall not respect persons in judgment, but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man, for the judgment is God’s; and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me [Moses], and I will hear it.”

Prov. 29:25 “The fear of man bringeth a snare; but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.”

Examples of faithful service

The Lord Jesus Christ served men.

Phil. 2:7 “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.”

Godly men served the Lord by serving other men.

  • Peter and Andrew, Mark 1:17,18
  • Zaccheus, Luke 19:6 ff
  • Paul, Acts 9:20

The rewards of faithful service

The faithful servant gains spiritual knowledge.

Hos. 6:3 “Then shall we know, Lord; his gome unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.”

The faithful servant gains divine viewpoint.

John 8:12 “Then spoke Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

The faithful servant has spiritual guidance.

John 10:27 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me.”

The faithful servant receives honor from God.

John 12:26 “If any man serve me, let him fol­low me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honor.”

The faithful servant has a life of joy.

Psalm 40:8 “I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart.”

John 4:36 “And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal, that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.”

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Faithfulness of God

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The faithfulness of God to the believer is expressed in many ways in the Bible.

The faithfulness of God to forgive sin.

1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The faithfulness of God in keeping us saved.

2 Tim. 2:13, “If we believe not, yet He abides faithful; He cannot deny Himself.

2 Thess. 3:3, “But the Lord is faithful who shall establish you and keep you from evil.

The faithfulness of God in times of pressure.

1 Cor. 10:13, “There has no testing taken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tested above that you are able; but will with the testing also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

The faithfulness of God in providing for us under the partnership of Christ.

1 Cor. 1:9, “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ.”

The faithfulness of God in keeping His promises to us.

Heb. 10:23, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for He is faithful that promised.”

The faithfulness of God to us in times of suffering.

1 Pet. 4:19, “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful creator.”

The faithfulness of God in providing for the believer’s eternal future.

1 Thess. 5:24, “Faithful is He that calls you who also will do it.”

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Happiness

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Philemon 7, “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.”

This phrase demands some of our attention, for Paul is in prison, he is chained, his physical movements are confined, his recreation is very limited, his pleasures are denied; in these circumstances, how can Paul make the statement that he is not just happy, but that he has much happiness?

Happiness is the situation of well being or general prosperity of mankind. It encompasses the circumstances of life and relationships. Happiness can run the gamut from tranquility to being intensely ecstatic and the term often used in scripture to describe happiness is blessedness. Blessedness relates happiness to God and His plan of grace.

Happiness has many different facets:

  1. Happiness related to prosperity is described in Psalm 128:1-4, “Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table. Thus is the man blessed who fears the Lord.
  2. I Peter 3:14 declares that believers may be happy even in suffering, “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.’
  3. Proverbs 3:13 says that true happiness is found through knowing God’s word, “Blessed is the man who finds wisdom, the man who gains understanding.
  4. Proverbs 14:21 states that happiness may be gained from treating others with kindness and grace, “He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.
  5. Romans 14:22 says that a clear conscience produces a type of happiness, “So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves.
  6. Proverbs 29:18 states that happiness comes from obeying the laws of the land and that lawlessness and spiritual apostasy accompany each other, “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.
  7. Psalm 144:13-15 states that happiness comes from living in a free and prosperous nation.

To fully understand the concept of happiness, we must understand the happiness of God. God’s happiness is unique in the sense that God’s happiness is absolute, perfect and unlimited. In other words, because God is perfect He has perfect happiness. God is eternal, so is His happiness; God’s happiness never ends and has never been diminished in the least and cannot be changed.

God is perfect and this means that He is perfect righteousness; thus God’s perfect happiness is directly connected to one simple fact: God is never wrong, has never been wrong and never will be wrong. This makes God happy. Additionally, since God is perfect He is also perfect justice; this means God is never inequitable, unfair or unjust. This makes God happy. Inasmuch as God is perfect, His love is perfect; this means that God loves the other members of the God head with a perfect love and that He loves Himself with a perfect love and that He loves His creatures with a perfect love; this ability to love perfectly, without bounds or mitigation, makes God happy. God is omnipotent, this gives Him an unlimited capacity to be happy. In His omniscience God’s very genius adds comprehension and sharpness to His happiness; in other words, God knows that He is happy.

Finally, in His sovereignty, in His reign, in His supremacy, God has determined that He will share His perfect happiness with mankind, for Psalm 43:4 says, “Then I will go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God.” Psalm 97:12 tells how God shares his happiness with mankind, “Rejoice in the Lord, you who are righteous , and praise his holy name.” Habakkuk 3:18 states that once the believer has God’s perfect righteousness given to him/her, then the believer may be given anything and everything by God, for God gives to His perfect righteousness (in the believer) from His perfect righteousness (in Himself).

The fact that God has determined to give His happiness to mankind and found a way to do it is called grace. God’s instrument of grace is the Lord Jesus Christ; thus true happiness begins at the point of belief in Christ. This is where happiness begins. From there, the more the believer knows about God and Christ, the greater the believer’s capacity for happiness becomes. Thus through spiritual growth the believer’s happiness may become as the happiness of God: without limit, without dependence on circumstances, events, people or any exterior influence. John 13:17 declares that once spiritual maturity is attained, the believer shares God’s perfect happiness, “Now that you know these things , you will be blessed if you do them.

God’s word is the source of the believer’s happiness, according to John 17:13, “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.

Sharing God’s perfect happiness should be the estate of every believer, according to Philippians 4:4, which states, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” I Peter 1:8 states, “Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” Once the believer shares the perfect happiness of God, the believer’s happiness cannot be diminished by: circumstances, things or people, according to Philippians 4:11, 12 states, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Hebrews 13:5 states, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” Hebrews 12:3 states, “Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

Thus, even though mankind inhabits an imperfect world, mankind can have the perfect happiness of God. Jude 24 asserts that the happiness experienced by the believer in heaven is more intense than that on earth; this degree of intensity is related to the locale, heaven and not to any limits on the sharing of God’s perfect happiness.

Isaiah 35:1, 2 declares that in the future millennial reign of Christ happiness will be ubiquitous.

According to the following verses, II Samuel 1:19, 20, Ecclesiastes 9:9 and 11:8, 9, the happiness derived from the world, sin, evil and pleasure is temporary and inadequate. For the aesthetic age seeks satisfaction through the senses, physical beauty, erotic excitement and through success in any of its guises. True inner happiness cannot be found through the senses or being a celebrity.

Ultimately, the truly happy person, the believer who shares the perfect happiness of God, provides happiness for, and is a ministry of refreshment to, other believers and unbelievers. This concept is found in Philippians 2:28, 29 and II Corinthians 7:13, and our verse, Philemon 7, which says, “Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.

Paul’s use of the term brother, adelphos, indicates that Philemon is not only a fellow believer, a member of the royal priest/family of God along with Paul, but that Paul is about to discuss a family matter.

The Greek term for refreshed is anapauo; and this concept was briefly discussed in the above dissertation on happiness. However, the idea commands more attention and more detail, as refreshment is an attribute of those believers that have attained spiritual maturity. Thus we might say that the ministry of refreshment is the realization and function of the spiritually mature.

Paul calls Philemon a refreshment. This means that Philemon is a vivifying and soothing personality to all that interrelate with him. Spiritually and soulishly, Philemon provides refreshment to others. He is a pleasure to be with and around; others seek out his company so that they might be restored by his calm faith in God, by his virtue love toward others, by his real compassion and by his doctrinal perspective toward life.

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Hope

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Hope is the mental attitude of confidence that results from learning and applying Bible truth regarding the future.

In Bible usage, “hope” (Greek: ελπις) is synonymous with “confidence” or “expectation of a good outcome.” Growth in confidence comes along with growth in Christ. Applied knowledge of Bible principles of time and eternity leads to supreme confidence in God’s word.

The Christian has confidence in

  • an eternal inheritance, 1 Pet. 1:4,5
  • the new home in the future, John 14:1-3
  • the resurrection body, 1 Cor. 15:51-57

See also 1 Th. 4:16-18; (verse context does not seem to fit.) and 1 John 3:1,2.

The hope of Israel is in their coming Messiah (the second coming of Christ, His kingdom on earth, and the new earth of eternity.

Luke 1:67-79; 2:28-32; Acts 26:6,7; 28:20; Eph. 2:12.

The Abrahamic Covenant (amplified by the Palestinian, Davidic, and New Covenants) promised to Israel the land of Canaan, the eternal seed (the Messiah), and blessing (new birth). Israel’s hope lies in these promises of God.

Abraham’s hope was directed to the promise of a new city, the new Jerusalem, Heb. 11:9,10.

The hope for the church is the blessed hope of the rapture. Titus 2:13-15; 1 John 3:2,3; 1 Thess. 4:13-18

Hope is derived from such passages as (this verse does not fit this context). which it is stated that there will be no more death, tears, pain, etc.

The hope or confidence we have in Christ has caused death to lose its sting and the grave to lose its victory. 1 Cor. 15:54-58.

The word hopeless should never be in the Christian’s vocabulary

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The Christian at Work

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Titus 2:9, 10, “Exhort servants to be obedient to their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; not stealing, but showing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.”

These verses show in capsule form the principles which are to govern the everyday life of a Christian who is an employee and who wants to be a witness for Christ on the job.

A Christian operates on grace principles. He is gracious. He gives evidence of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. He uses Bible techniques such as faith rest, walking in fellowship, occupation with Christ, to make it through each day producing divine good.

A Christian does his job as though Christ himself were boss as unto the Lord. He does a more than a day’s work for a day’s pay. He is the first to arrive and the last to leave. He takes sick leave only when sick. He does not cheat on break time, lunch, etc. He works diligently, cheerfully, enthusiastically and without complaining.

Using faith rest principles, a Christian trusts the Lord for salary and promotion, status. He is aware that only God knows how much prosperity he should have and when he should be promoted. He rejoices when others get ahead as evidence of the grace of God in their lives even when they do not deserve it.

A Christian is modest, self-effacing, supportive of others, cooperative. He realizes that he is there to be used by the Lord, not only as an employee, but also as a witness for Christ.

The believer’s personal life, social life, family life are happy and stable so that they enhance his work life rather than hinder him on the job.

He exercises grace principles, recognizes fellow workers as objects of God’s grace, does not bear grudges and forgives readily. Every day is a new day. He does not contribute to office gossip or politics, because he has no need to build his success on someone else’s failure.

He waits patiently for the opportunity for verbal witness, which is almost certain to present itself. The stage has been set for a vital witness by his life witness which others have been able to observe.

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The Characteristics of Weaker Brethren

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[Please read Romans chapter 14 before going through the discussion in this article].

Romans 14 has a splendid description of the characteristics of a legalistic person who is called the weaker brother. This is a great passage about how to think grace toward someone who does something obnoxious or unspiritual.

Remember, we all have areas of weakness.

You may be the stronger believer in some of your areas of strength and a weaker brother in areas of weakness.

The idea in both cases is to avoid legalism and judgmentalism.

The strong believer in Romans 14 is mature, oriented to grace, the plan of God, occupied with Christ and operates in fellowship most of the time under the power of the Holy Spirit.

The weaker brother has one or more of the following characteristics

  • The weaker brother is disoriented to grace, especially in the area of spirituality and practices one or more forms of legalism.
  • He is not comfortable unless he is judging the stronger believer in some gray area of behavior.
  • The weaker brother is strong on scruples, but not well informed about doctrine or divine viewpoint.
  • The weaker brother operations on criteria of feelings, emotions, traditions, experiences, background, instead of Bible truth.
  • The weaker brother operates in the energy of the flesh, producing human good like wood, hay stubble which he thinks is divine good like gold, silver and precious stones.
  • The weaker brother is proud and critical of the strong believer, always judging him.
  • The weaker brother sticks his nose into the affairs of others by gossiping, maligning and judging.
  • The weaker brother likes to set up a mold and try to squeeze everyone into it, so he is a bully.
  • The weaker brother has a guilt complex, so he is emotionally unstable; he is sensitive and demands attention; he is full of self pity and lusts for approbation in his sin nature.
  • The weaker brother is jealous of others and tries to discredit them; he nit picks and condemns the activities and projects of others.
  • The weaker brother is weak because he resists grace doctrines. He can recover quickly by confessing sin, being controlled by the Holy Spirit and pursuing a program of intake of Bible truth which will make him spiritually strong.

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