People of The Living God

Romans 10:9-10

 

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THE FALSE HOPE

Randall Walton

        False – the very word causes alarm to most of us.  We feel betrayed by the less–than–genuine, the counterfeit, the make believe, the pretended.

        And yet we live in a day of colossal falsity.  Jesus evaluated our day as a time when false prophets, false apostles, false teachers, false miracle workers, and false doctrines would flourish in an unprecedented manner, and so it is!

        The secular world, as well as the religious environment, is flooded by the spurious.  Merchants advertise their wares with claims of instant happiness, joy, contentment, fulfillment, and bliss.  Millions of dollars are spent in an effort to persuade people to spend billions of dollars for products which can never produce more than temporary pseudo–satisfaction.  The end of the rainbow remains as elusive as ever.

        As bad as this is, it pales in comparison with the deception which dominates the religious scene.  Merchants of spiritual death are raking in the billions by offering false life which they are selling for “free.”  Free grace, and free salvation, can now be obtained by sending your love gifts to the popular TV and radio evangelists!  And if this isn’t enough, they’ll tell you how to get a free trip away from this planet earth just ahead of calamity, catastrophe, and chaos, better known as the great tribulation.

        The Great False Hope, usually dubbed The Rapture or the Blessed Hope, is one of the most diabolical doctrines to have befallen mankind in the history of the church.  Of course, it is true that if people would remain in a state of readiness at all times, it would be of little consequence whether they believed in a “pre–trib,” “mid–trib,” or “post–trib” translation of the saints.

        But the very nature of the pre–trib idea is such that it lulls people asleep.  It does away with any incentive to persevere, to prepare, to plan, to push.  It has done more to promote apostasy and apathy in the ranks of Christendom than perhaps any other teaching extant in religious circles today.  This is no doubt the reason why satan has promulgated this teaching so strongly.

        It is also very significant that this error is not confined to any denomination, for it is being heralded far and near by the Pentecostals, the fundamentalists, and the evangelicals, and has even penetrated the Catholics via the charismatic movement.  In speaking of the terrors of the last days, Jesus stated that they would come upon the whole world as a snare – a surprise – and while the majority of the world is gazing skyward for a secret catching away, a terrible trap is being laid for their feet!

        Does it never occur to those who loudly proclaim that falsehood that the Bible plainly teaches that the great tribulation precedes, not follows, the coming of the Lord (Matt. 24:29–31)?  Why do they seem so unwilling to analyze phrase by phrase Paul’s message in I Thess. 4:16,17 concerning Christ’s return?  Such an approach as this to the Scriptures should dispel forever any idea of a secret translation of the church before Jesus comes again.

        There is truly not one verse of Scripture which confirms nor substantiates the idea of a vast, heavenward, secret escape prior to the tribulation.

        We note with much interest the testimony of Corrie ten Boom, a saint who suffered great persecution at the hands of the Nazi torturers during World War II.  She said, “We are in training for the tribulation, but more than sixty percent of the Body of Christ across this world has already entered into the tribulation.  There is no way to escape it.  We are next.”

        She continues her exposé with these words: “Last year alone more than two hundred thousand Christians were martyred in Africa.  Now things like that never get into the newspapers because they cause bad political relations.  But I know.  I have been there.  We need to think about that when we sit down in our nice houses with our nice clothes and eat our steak dinners.  Many, many members of the Body of Christ are being tortured to death at this very moment, yet we continue right on as though we are all going to escape the tribulation.”

        Much of the apathy of the American people is directly due to the escape theory of the rapture doctrine, which itself is based upon false interpretation of the word of God.  For example, the Scriptures do not state that the tribulation will last for 3½ years nor for 7 years!  There is no indication as to the duration of the terrors of this last day.  As Sister ten Boom stated, tribulation has already arrived in many countries.  Millions of saints gave their lives for Jesus in China and in the Soviet Union.

        Any worldwide view should indicate to us that the Great Tribulation is already under way, even though it has not yet struck our own nation.  But let us be confident of this one thing, when it comes to this nation, we can expect it to be far worse than it has already been in other countries, for we are the ones who boldly proclaim “In God We Trust” yet stoutly deny Him by rejecting His words and His blessed Son, Jesus.

        Not that we haven’t been a religious, church–going people.  We have been and still are.  But all of our religiosity fails to cover the superficiality of our profession.  Church affiliation to most people has about as much significance as membership in a club or a lodge.  So long as one pays his dues and attends the required number of meetings, he is in good standing.  His mode of life between meetings is of little real consequence to the other members of the hierarchy.  When asked, he should be able to state a few basics about his beliefs or the by–laws of the organization, but he is not required to know God personally nor to produce a life as proof of his profession!

        Yes, the tribulation is coming and we are unprepared for persecution, hardship, trouble, starvation, privation, poverty, torture, regimentation, and depression.  The majority of Americans are not prepared to face the rigors of the reign of the Beast as he breaks forth to conquer all mankind.

        We urge you to search the Scriptures diligently to know God’s plan for His people for these last days.  Beware of those who claim great spiritual manifestations such as speaking in tongues, prophecy, Holy Ghost anointing, divine healing, or who teach and preach the devil’s lie concerning a secret rapture of the church.  They will use their supposed Holy Ghost experiences as “proof” that what they teach is true.  Remember that we are living in the time of the greatest deception that mankind has ever witnessed (Matt. 24:24) when all that is false and counterfeit will be unleashed upon mankind for the purpose of his ultimate destruction.

Translation, Yes: Secret, No!

        The element of secrecy in regard to the Second Coming is nowhere to be found in the Scriptures.  Surprise is certain, but not secrecy.

        In the most popular portion of supposed “proof” for the secret rapture, the very opposite of secrecy is put forth: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first” (I Thess. 4:16).  How can one assume that such an announcement is heard only by the saints of the Lord?  From other Scriptures, we can determine that this event takes place at a time when mankind is not expecting it, but they all are aware of it taking place.

        Because Paul here does not mention the wicked dead being raised at the same time, the assumption has been made that they are resurrected at a later time, but we need to recognize the fact that in this instance Paul does not refer to the wicked at all.  His message is one of comfort to the saints concerning the future of their loved ones (verses 13–15).

        But when Jesus spoke of resurrection of the dead, He included both the just and the unjust coming forth at the same time, and both receiving their final rewards at the same time (John 5:28,29).  Paul merely states that the “dead in Christ rise first,” that is, they come forth prior to the living saints being caught up together with them.  If we try to insert a period of time between the resurrection of the saints (they rise first) and the resurrection of the wicked, we do a great injustice to the words of Jesus.  He very plainly stated that His coming will be known universally by all who are alive and, also, who have ever lived on the earth (Rev. 1:7; Matt. 24:26,27; John 5:28,29).

As A Thief In The Night

        There are several allusions to the return of Jesus which are interpreted as indicating a secret, unforewarned snatching away of the elect before the time of trouble falls upon those who remain here.  One of those is that “the day of the Lord cometh as a thief in the night” (I Thess. 5:2).

        The argument goes something like this: just before the tribulation begins, Jesus is going to swoop down and, as a thief, steal away His jewels while the rest of the world sleeps on.  Sounds good, but it’s not a true perception, for all the words of Jesus and the apostles deny that He will come secretly.

        The element of surprise is that which is set forth here.  He will come “in such an hour as ye think not” (Matt. 24:44); “when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh,” Paul warned about the coming of the day of the Lord (I Thess. 4:3).

        Another supposed proof for the secret rapture is found in Paul’s message in II Thessalonians 2:7 where Paul speaks concerning the return of Jesus and the gathering together of the people of God.  He says, “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.”  These words “until he be taken out of the way” supposedly refers to the church being caught away just before the anti–Christ is released in fury upon the earth.

        But there are several errors apparent in this interpolation of Paul’s message.

        1.  The words letteth and let are better translated restrain or holding back.  It is a well–known fact that the church is not now, nor has it ever, restrained or held back corruption, apostasy, anti–Christs, nor the forces of evil.  By and large the church has been a colossal failure.  It has not only joined the world, it has abetted the world and its conquests over the poor and destitute of the earth.

        2.  The church is never referred to as “he.”  It is always called “she,” the bride of Christ, the body, the wife, but never he.  It is highly inconsistent with Scripture that, suddenly, in one verse the bride should be called by a masculine pronoun!

        It should be evident to all of us that the “he” who is holding back the terrors of trouble on a worldwide scale is the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.  His work in the earth at present is universal, but there will come the day when the work of harvest will be over and He will no longer restrain the powers of evil which will then sweep over the nations.  God’s people will still be here and “he,” the Holy Ghost, will overshadow the people of God to preserve and nourish them during that time.

“As It Was In The Days Of Noah”

        Noah’s epic cruise is often cited as an analogy of the secret rapture theory.  As Noah and his family were “lifted up from the earth,” so also is the church to be lifted up into heaven!  That sounds good, too, but there really isn’t anything to substantiate this as being correct.

        In fact, the opposite is factual; for Noah, his family, and the ark were still an integral part of this planet.  True, they were spared while all other humans perished, but they were not secretly “caught up” nor taken to heaven.

        They were protected and preserved, just as the Lord will protect and preserve His family in this latter day holocaust, not by boat or ship, but by His own means (Zeph. 2:1–3; Isaiah 26:20,21; Isaiah 4:5,6; Luke 21:34–36; Rev. 3:10; Rev. 12:6,14).

        Also, Noah’s experience refutes the idea of secrecy.  It was a surprise to the unbelievers when the raindrops began falling, but it was no secret.  The rain literally came down upon them, and they visually witnessed the rising waters giving buoyancy to “Noah’s folly” as it floated away beyond their reach and accessibility (God had shut the door).  No doubt, many of them began to call upon the God they had so brazenly defied during the more than a century of Noah’s warnings and construction.

        And Jesus said there will be a repeat of the conditions and circumstances which prevailed in those wicked days, many of which we already see running rampant in our society today.

The Enoch Doctrine

        Enoch was a man who had an unusual testimony: he pleased God (Heb. 11:5)!  And it is written of him that he was translated, or as Genesis 5:24 relates it: “he was not; for God took him.”

        The boosters of the rapture doctrine use Enoch’s translation as an example of the pre–tribulation translation of the church!  But the parallel of the church and Enoch stops before it gets started: Enoch had attained a place in God which the church knows nothing of: he was a man of faith who walked in obedience to God.  The fact that he pleased God is evidence that he walked in conformity to God’s laws, commandments, and orders.

        Jesus had the same testimony, for the Father Himself declared: “this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.”  Jesus was wholeheartedly dedicated to the will of His father, which is another way of saying He obeyed the Father’s law, His will, His commands.

        Compare this with the “church” today.  Obedience is a forbidden word in the average congregation.  Mention the word in many religious circles and you become estranged from the rest of the crowd.  The very thought of conforming to anything that would please the Most High is repugnant to most people.

        Division, discrimination, greed, worldliness, corruption, deceit, etc. are a part of the present church system.  There is little chance of a translation or “catching away” of such a disparate body which claims to be “the church” at the present time.

Tribulation A Necessity

        “Tribulation worketh patience,” Paul stated (Rom. 5:3), and it is also a means of entering into the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22).  Tribulation will come as a separator to separate the chaff from the wheat, the wicked from the righteous, the world from the saint.

        The church must be brought into a condition of unity, oneness, harmony, cleanness, purity, holiness.  The bride must be brought into a state of worthiness before she will be accepted by the Bridegroom.

        Paul confirmed that when Jesus returns the church will be glorious, “not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing” (Eph. 5:26,27).  No, the church does not measure up to that standard now.  There must be a thorough cleansing, and this is one of the purposes for tribulation.  When mankind is prosperous he lives in independence from God.  Rebellion flourishes when he feels self–sufficient and content.  But God in His mercy and love will demonstrate to the church that she cannot live apart from Him.

God Has A Plan

        God will stand by His people during these harsh times.  He has a definite plan for preserving His bride while tribulation rages upon the earth.

        Study the Word!  Seek the Lord!  Practice the sayings and commands of Jesus; put all your faith and trust in Him; be so devoted to God that you are willing to become a martyr if it becomes necessary.  And forget about the false hope of a quick, secret escape before all these things come to pass.