. . . Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. – 1 Thessalonians 1:10

 

 There are few crimes,  if any, more repulsive and abhorrent than when a husband abuses his wife. In 1984 the movie The Burning Bed shocked audiences by addressing this issue. It was based on the book by Faith McNulty about the abuse suffered by Francine Hughes. Francine Hughes suffered through terrible abuse at the hands of her husband. Her story is a true story of cruelty which lasted for more than ten years. In those days help for victims of abuse was not as available as it is today. Resistance to such abuse had not yet been popularized. Francine endured terrible abuses for ten years because she could not find any help. Spousal and other kinds of abuses still persist.. Thankfully, in our day, more is being done to address this societal and sometimes religiously oriented terror. Francine’s predicament comes to an end after a particularly brutal rape of Francine by her drunken husband. After the attack, Francine is broken and enraged at the years of feeling caged and treated more like an animal than a wife. In desperation, when the husband falls into a drunken stupor of a sleep, Francine douses him with gasoline and lights him on fire killing him and also burning down their home. It’s a horrific tale and not for the faint of heart.

During the course of her life, at the hands of her husband, there were many times when Francine felt her life was in jeopardy. There were many times when she felt the brunt of her husband’s cruel wrath. For years she felt powerless; helpless. What she suffered should never happen in a marriage. According to the Bible, husbands are exhorted to “love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:25-26). Beating your wife or acting abusively toward her in any way, is the furthest thing from loving your wife as Christ loved the church.

The Bible reveals Jesus is the Bridegroom. His bride is the Church. “He who has the bride is the bridegroom” John the Baptist said of Jesus (John 3:29). In the final book of the Bible the New Jerusalem is also described as the “bride” of Jesus (Revelation 21:2, 9). But at the end of that book the Church is once again referred to as the bride of Jesus. “’I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches, I am the Root and Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.’ And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ And let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:16-17). The Church is the Bride of Christ.

When Jesus was speaking about the End Times He instructed the Church to wait in anticipation of His return. At the time, when He first gave this instruction on the Mount of Olives, His focus was primarily on what Israel and any of His followers living during this time could expect. The Olivet Discourse is Jesus elaboration on and explanation of the Seventieth Week of Daniel (cf. Daniel 9:24-27). The Seventy Weeks of sevens or 490 years of prophecy given to Daniel pertains specifically to “your people” or Israel (Daniel 9:24-27). In Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, and Luke 21 Jesus further explains what will happen leading up to and including the last of the Seventy Weeks, the Seventieth Week or last seven-year period of prophecy pertaining to Israel. We more commonly refer to this last seven-year period in future history as a time of “Tribulation” (Matthew 24:9, 21, 29).

In the Matthew 24 portion of Jesus prophetic teaching He lays out what could be expected by earth dwellers during this time in future history. He emphasized this period in history as being one of deception and false christs (Matthew 24:5, 11, 24). He also said it would be a time of global conflict, natural disasters, famines and pestilences (Matthew 24:4-11). It would be a time of lawlessness and that “the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12). It would be a time of abomination and desolation (Matthew 24:15), a time when His people will have to flee for their lives (Matthew 24:15-20). Indeed, Jesus said, “And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened” (Matthew 4:22). The only solace for His people living on earth during this time would be the hope of His Return at the end of it (Matthew 24:23-51). Jesus exhorted His future followers to live with anticipation of His Return. “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. . .. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:36 and 42). This Return is the Second Coming of Jesus.

In the second part of Jesus’ Olivet Discourse He provides illustrations to drive home His truth about this future time in history. It is in this second part that Jesus includes instruction for the Church leading up to the Tribulation. Matthew 25 begins with an illustration about Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). The Church is depicted as a “virgin” in scripture. The Apostle Paul commented, “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2). While Israel is described as the “wife” of God the Father in scripture (e.g. Isaiah 54:5; 62:4-5; Jeremiah 31:31-32; Hosea 2), the Church is described as the “virgin” bride of Jesus.

In Matthew 25 Ten Virgins are exhorted to be ready for the return of their Groom who is Jesus. The indicator of readiness in the illustration is whether or not the lamp that each virgin has is full of oil. Oil in scripture is a type or symbol of the Holy Spirit (e.g. Zechariah 4). The message is an exhortation by Jesus to be ready. We, the virgin Church of Jesus, have the capacity to be filled with the Spirit. It is the oil of the Spirit which provides us with light to see in the dark. Our readiness is measured as whether or not you are filled with the Spirit. And at the end of this illustration of Jesus, He states, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Matthew 25:13). Are you filled with the Spirit? Have you been born again of the Spirit? (cf. John 3). Have you been empowered by the Holy Spirit? (cf. Acts 1:4-5, 8; Acts 2ff.). Are you continually, day by day filled and refilled with the Spirit? “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). Are you being led by the light of the Holy Spirit? “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

In the Olivet Discourse Jesus went out of His way to emphasize that the End Times would be characterized by deception. He mentions being “deceived” more than any other characteristic of the Latter Days. “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. . .. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. . .. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:5, 11, 24). Deception will be more and more prevalent as we draw closer and closer to the culmination of prophecy.

Proper and correct interpretation of scripture truth is vital to our preparation for the return of Jesus. It is more important than ever before to, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). In the context of these inspired words from Paul to Timothy, Paul warned, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come” where people are obsessed with self-love and selfishness, self-centered rebellion, lack of love, and being addicted to passion and pleasure (2 Timothy 3:1-5a). Paul said that there would be religious people who have, “a form of godliness but denying its power. And form such people turn away!” (2 Timothy 3:5b). The solution and safeguard for this according to Paul’s Spirit inspired words was to rely on scripture. This is because, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

To be prepared for the End Times we need to be like the Bereans described in the Book of Acts who “searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). When Paul said his farewell to the Ephesian elders he reminded them, “For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). And in the spirit of that verse we should know and rely on the Bible’s 66 books. We need to know the Bible from cover to cover.

We live in a world that has largely rejected God, even denied His existence. Many prefer to erase God from history with the demonic doctrine of evolution (cf. 1Timothy 4:1-2). Those who are religious have been deceived into worshipping idols and following gods which are nothing more than demonic alternatives to the One True God (compare Leviticus 17:7; Deuteronomy 32:17; 2 Chronicles 11:15; Psalm 106:37). Idols and “gods” of humanities’ imagination are lifeless and empty (Psalm 115). Fantasies put people to sleep regarding realities. The greatest Reality is God Almighty of Scripture. Alternatives to God cannot satisfy. There is only One True God, the Biblically revealed Father, Son Jesus, and Holy Spirit. Abundant life is found only through Jesus (e.g. John 10:10).

A time is coming in the near future when God, Who has been holding off His Judgment of the earth, will pour out His righteous wrath on a Christ-rejecting world. Some mock God and His people because His promise of Returning has not yet been fulfilled. To them Peter was inspired to write, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). It’s to the sinner’s benefit that Jesus has not yet returned. Don’t mock, repent!

To the mockers Paul was inspired to write, “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4). God’s holding off judgement is for the sinner’s benefit. He has a heart of love for this world. That’s why He went so far as carrying out His eternal redemptive plan through Jesus, His cross and resurrection (John 3:16; Hebrews 4:3; Revelation 13:8). God demonstrates His own love in that He sent Jesus to die on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins while we were yet sinners (Romans 5:8). God has made the first move to bring sinners home. Jesus took our place on the cross. He paid a debt He did not owe for a people who owed a debt they could not pay (2 Corinthians 5:21).

God has demonstrated incredible patience towards the sinner. Sin is offensive to God. Sin separates the sinner from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). God’s attitude toward sin is, “You are of purer eyes than to behold evil and cannot look on wickedness” (Habakkuk 1:13). God hates sin. This is no totalitarian emotion from a tyrant. Sin is not bad merely because God has forbidden it. Sin is forbidden because it is bad for God’s creation. God hates to see the pain and suffering caused by sin in this fallen world. If something or someone was inflicting pain on your spouse or bride to be, wouldn’t you want to stop it? Wouldn’t you want to bring the abuser to justice? Yes, of course.

A time is coming when God’s patience will indeed run out. Historically we see such situations. When in the past God’s people persisted in their rebellion and sin against God, He instructed the prophet Jeremiah, “Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me; for I will not hear you” (Jeremiah 7:16; 11:14; 14:11). Similarly, a time is coming where God’s patience will be exhausted. Don’t make the mistake of interpreting the absence of God’s judgment or consequence as God’s approval for your sin. God is simply waiting in His foreknowledge for people to repent of their sins. He knows when people are so entangled in their sins that they are beyond repentance. And when that happens, He will pour out His righteous wrathful justice on this Christ-rejecting world.

That future time of God’s righteous wrath poured out in this Christ-rejecting world is called the Tribulation; it is the Seventieth Week of Daniel. What is the purpose of God’s outpoured wrath? His purpose for His outpoured wrath is first to shake up a Christ-rejecting world with one final tough love attempt to bring them to their knees in repentance. It is to wake up the nation of Israel to fulfill the last seven years of prophetic purpose ordained for them by God. And this time of wrath is to make up this world for the return of Jesus. His Second Coming at the conclusion of the seven-year Tribulation much the same as a maid makes up a hotel room to prepare it for the next customer.

But here’s the important point to understand. The Church will not go through this time of Tribulation. JESUS IS NOT A BRIDE BEATER! Gospel salvation provided by God’s gift of grace through faith in Jesus Christ, saves us from the wrath to come. JESUS IS A BRIDE BLESSER! Those who have been born again and become a part of the Church need not fear the coming Tribulation. Jesus will bless His Bride by coming before the Tribulation and removing His Bride from the world before God’s wrath is poured out. There is a ton of scriptural evidence to support this blessed hope of the Church.

The Rapture. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17 the phrase “caught up” is used. “Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18). “Caught up” is the translation of the Greek term harpadzo (ἁρπάζω harpazō, har-pad´-zo). The Latin Vulgate translation of the New Testament translates harpadzo as raptus, from which we get the English word rapture.

Harpadzo means “to snatch or catch away.” Examples of the use of this word which illustrates this well are found in the book of Acts when the Spirit “caught Philip away” (Acts 8:39) and with Paul who was “caught up to the third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2; cf. also Rev. 12:5). The term harpadzo often conveys the idea of being taken by force, a sudden exercise of force (Matthew 11:12; 13:19; John 6:15; 10:12, 28-29; Acts 23:10; Jude 22-23). [1]

Change “in the twinkling of an eye.” In 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 we find additional information on how Christians will be raptured.

  • 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 – “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—52 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.53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.”

In this verse we are told that when Jesus returns for His true believers there will be an instantaneous transformation that will occur. The term translated “changed” is from the Greek allasso, which literally means “to make other than it is, or “to transform, change.” In other areas of the Bible the term allasso is used regarding the effect of the gospel on traditions (Acts 6:14). Allasso is also used in reference to the change or transformation that the material creation will undergo at the consummation of the God’s prophetic plan (Hebrews 1:12). Allasso is used by the apostle Paul in stating his desire to be present with the Galatians in person so that he could “change my tone” of speech with them (Galatians 4:20). Lastly, Paul uses the term allasso in Romans 1:23 in a way that implies a sinful “exchange” of God’s glory for manmade images or idols. [2]

In reference to the Rapture, a change will take place physically for those raptured which entails an exchange of bodies. Evidently our material physical bodies are not suited for the environment or dimension we will be transported to at the Rapture. Therefore, we will be given a body suited to our knew address in the dimension of heaven. Chuck Smith states the following in regards to the “Rapture”:

“The Rapture refers to that event where Jesus Christ snatches His Church out of this world. It shall happen suddenly without any notice. The Rapture of the Church and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ are completely different. At the Rapture, Jesus is coming for His saints.” [3]

 The Book of Revelation. The Book of Revelation is not some esoteric undecipherable piece of literature. The name “Revelation” means unveiling. A little bit of spade work and the revelation is unveiled for us. And it is in Revelation that we can glean a great deal of contextual evidence about the Rapture.

The Book of Revelation has a built-in outline. In Revelation 1:19 it states:

  • Revelation 1:19 – Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.

 This verse is an outline of Revelation. “The things which you have seen,” refers to John’s vision of the glorified risen Christ in Revelation chapter one. “The things which are” refers to Church history found in Revelation chapters 2 and 3. Lastly, “the things which will take place after this” refers to events that take place after the Church Age in the future.

We are presently living in the Church Age. God’s dealings in and through Israel are on hold. We see His ruminations with the resurrection of Israel to a nation again. But Israel’s time in God’s dispensation is not yet. Now, God is in part provoking Israel to jealousy with His relationship with the Church in Christ (cf. Rom. 11). Revelation 2-3 provides letters from Jesus to seven particular local churches. These letters have a local immediate relevance. But they are also seen as prophetic letters from Jesus to the Church in seven epochs of Church history. What Jesus says to these churches should be taken to heart by those in all segments of the Church throughout history.

Meta Tauta. There is an important phrase at the end of Revelation 1:19. That phrase is meta tauta. Meta tauta means after these things. In Revelation 1:19 the phrase is used to point to those things that will take place after the Church age referred to with the words “the things which are.” After Revelation 2-3 and the segment on the Church Age we see a transitional verse that has a double occurrence of meta tauta. See if you can identify it in Revelation 4:1:

  • Revelation 4:1 – “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”

 

 As we reach chapter four verse one we come to the phrase “After these things” at the beginning of the verse and then, “. . . after this” at the end of it. The logical question to ask is, after what things? The logical answer to that question is, the things which preceded i.e. the vision of the glorified Christ AND Church history. And this is important to see because, what follows doesn’t involve the Church. What follows? The historical segment that details the Tribulation! (Revelation 6-18).

 The Church is not mentioned in Revelation 6-18, the detailed account of the Tribulation. The terms “church” (2:1,8,12,18; 3:1,7,14) and “churches” (1:4 [2x],11,20 [2x]; 2:7,11,17,23,29; 3:6,13,22; 22:16) occur a combined total of 22 times in the book of Revelation. None of these occurrences are found in the section of Revelation which describes the Tribulation (Rev. 6-18). Of the 22 occurrences of these two terms in the book of Revelation, 21 occur in the first three chapters and one occurs in the last chapter of the book. Therefore, when we leave the first and second sections of the book of Revelation which refer to the Church frequently and in detail, we find the “church” is conspicuously absent from mention in the third section of the book. Since Revelation 6-18 depicts events on the earth during the Tribulation, and the Church is not mentioned, it supports the interpretation that the Church does not go through the Tribulation.

 There are different interpretations of when the Rapture will take place. Some say the Rapture occurs after the Tribulation. Some say it will occur in the Middle of the Tribulation. But truly, any interpretation of the Rapture that has the Bride of Christ receiving God’s wrath makes Jesus a Bride beater. If the Tribulation, as we’ve seen, is a time of God’s outpoured wrath on a Christ-rejecting world, then the Bride must be removed before that outpouring of wrath. Jesus is not a Bride beater!

Those who hold to a post-Tribulation view of the Rapture ask, “Why would Christians be spared going through the Tribulation? Christians go through trials. Why would the Tribulation be any different?” Post-Tribulationists believe the church will go through the Tribulation along with everyone else.

It is true that Christians go through trials. Jesus said Christians would go through trials:

  • John 16:33 – “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

God allows believers to experience trials because trials serve the purpose of maturing our faith (cf. James 1:2-5; 1 Peter 1:6-9). And trials are part of the necessary fallen world. If God is going to give the sinner more time to repent, the necessary consequence is allowing trials and suffering to continue for a time too. Trials should not be thought of as strange to the Christian. Throughout the world and throughout history Christians have experienced severe trials (e.g. 1 Peter 4:12-19). The important thing to understand is that while God allows trials and persecution, the real culprit of difficulty in life is Satan (cf. 1 Peter 5:8-11). Christians do experience trials. Any Christian can confirm this. But God’s promise to Christians is that they will be saved from the wrath to come.

The Tribulation is a time of God’s wrath. The Tribulation is a future period of seven years where God will pour out His wrath righteously on a Christ-rejecting world. The details of this unprecedented time of judgment are described in Revelation 6-18. It is a time where God will shake up a Christ-rejecting world, wake up Israel, and make up the world like a house made makes the bed or even fumigates in readying it for the next hotel patron.

Christians do experience trials, but the trials experienced are distinctively different than that referred to in the Tribulation (cf. Matthew 24:21; Mark 13:19; Rev. 7:14). The period referred to as The Tribulation is a distinctive time of trials because it is a day of the wrath of God. The following verses state this:

  • Revelation 6:17 – “For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
  • Revelation 11:18 – “The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, And the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants the prophets and the saints, and those who fear Your name, small and great, and should destroy those who destroy the earth.”
  • Revelation 16:1 – “Then I heard a loud voice from the temple saying to the seven angels, “Go and pour out the bowls of the wrath of God on the earth.”

It is extremely important for us to see the difference between trials experienced by the Christian now and what will take place during the Tribulation. The source of trials experienced by Christians is for the most part Satan. But the Source of trials during the Tribulation is primarily God as He pours out His wrath on a Christ rejecting world. Jesus is not a Bride beater! We will not go through The Tribulation.

Jesus is not a Bride beater. The Christian does not Experience God’s Wrath. Nowhere in the Bible do the righteous or in particular Christians experience the wrath of God. Indeed, we see that God makes a distinction between the righteous and the unrighteous. The earliest example of this is found in the book of Genesis. Abraham is informed by the Lord that He intends to judge the city of Sodom. Abraham intercedes on behalf of the people of this city and during the course of his conversation with the Lord we see clearly that the righteous nature of God will not permit lopping together the righteous and unrighteous into one big pile to be judged (cf. Genesis 18:23-33).

When we come to the New Testament and see the full revelation of the salvation of God we see that the good news of salvation is that WE ARE SAVED FROM GOD’S WRATH! This is clearly stated in the following verses:

  • Romans 5:8-9 – “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”
  • 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 – “For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,10 and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.”
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:9 – “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,”

Scripture tells us we are we are saved from the wrath to come, delivered from the wrath to come, and not appointed to go through God’s wrath. Therefore, if the Tribulation is a time of God’s “wrath” and Christians are saved from God’s wrath. Christians will not go through the Tribulation. Again, Jesus is not a Bride beater!

Jesus instructed us to pray that we would be worthy to escape the Tribulation. Further evidence that the Church will not go through the Tribulation is found in the gospel of Luke during Jesus Olivet discourse. Toward the end of His description of the Tribulation He exhorts His listeners with the following words:

  • Luke 21:36 – “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

For Jesus to instruct us to pray that we might escape the Tribulation would be cruel and heartless if it were not possible. Jesus is anything but cruel and heartless. Jesus is not a Bride Beater! Jesus is a Bride blesser!

In Jesus’ words to the church at Philadelphia He promises to spare Christians, (who are indeed true born again of the Spirit believers) from the Tribulation:

  • Revelation 3:10 – “Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.’

If Jesus says it is possible to “escape” the Tribulation, then it must be so.

 The Bible refers to the Rapture as the “blessed hope” of the believer. It refers to the Second Coming as the “glorious appearing of our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ”:

  • Titus 2:13 – “looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,”

The Second Coming will be glorious because every eye will see Jesus return in the clouds to earth with His Bride (e.g. Rev. 1:7; 19:11-16). What makes the Rapture so blessed? THE FACT THAT THE BELIEVER WILL BE SPARED GOING THROUGH THE TRIBULATION AND ITS WRATH FROM GOD AND WILL BE RAPTURED TO CHRIST IS THE BLESSED HOPE TO LOOK FORWARD TO FOR THE BRIDE OF CHRIST.

Who will be Raptured? A final question remains to be asked. We’ve been saying that “the Church” will be raptured before the Tribulation and God’s righteous outpoured wrath on this Christ-rejecting world. By saying “the Church” will be raptured we don’t mean a building or a denomination or certain segment of people who claim to be “the one true church.” What people call themselves is not as important as who they actually are. Jesus said there were those who have a false belief in who they are:

  • Matthew 7:21 – “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.”

Jesus said the prime qualification for entering His Kingdom was the second birth; spiritual birth; “you must be born again” (John 3). Without the Holy Spirit indwelling a person, there is no spiritual life (Romans 8:9-10; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Authentic Christians bear the seal of the Holy Spirit on them; the stamp of belonging to God (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13). Without such spiritual life a person can do all kinds of churchy things but they still aren’t known by Jesus, they still aren’t part of His Bride. It is the Holy Spirit who bears witness within us that we are children of God (e.g. Romans 8:14; 1 John 3:24). Those who have not been born again will be left behind at the Rapture. If you aren’t born again, you aren’t saved from the wrath to come.

In His letter to the church at Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29) Jesus referred to those in the Church who are unrepentant. He said, “Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.” (Revelation 2:22). It’s possible to attend a church and not be a part of Jesus’ Bride.

To the church in Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13) Jesus wrote:

  • Revelation 3:10 – Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.

To this church Jesus gives no correction. They aren’t the strongest church, but they are faithful and have kept Jesus word and not denied His name. Their perseverance and purity result in Jesus promise “I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world.” This speaks of rescue. It speaks of a trial that “shall come upon the whole world.” That is the Tribulation of seven years described in Revelation 6-18. By mentioning this to the church people of Philadelphia Jesus is setting them up as a contrast to those who He said would be left behind. Not everyone in the church will be rescued by His Rapture. Some in the Church will be left behind.

When we look at the believers at the church of Philadelphia we see evidences of their spiritual life. Jesus is opening and shutting doors for them. Jesus is at work in their lives (Rev. 3:7). They are doing things that Jesus takes notice of (Rev. 3:8a). They have “a little strength,” they are humble before Jesus not depending on themselves but on Him for strength (Rev. 3:8b). They keep God’s word; they live by the word of God (Rev. 8c). They don’t deny Jesus’ name but represent it in the world (Rev. 8d). Victory over Satan is in their future (Rev. 3:9). They have “kept My command to persevere” Jesus will honor that and keep His promise to keep them from the trials that is coming “upon the whole world,” i.e. the Tribulation (Rev. 3:10). They are holding fast (Rev. 3:11). They are overcomers who bear Christ’s name (Rev. 3:12). They are bearing fruit of a vital and living relationship with Jesus.

Those in the Church who refuse to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior will be left behind at the Rapture. They may respond during the Tribulation. But they will have missed the “Blessed hope.” Scripture seeds planted in them by faithful witnesses now may bear fruit unto salvation later. But you don’t want to procrastinate! Those saved during the Tribulation will most likely be martyred for their faith! If you are procrastinating and think, I’ll just go through the Tribulation. I’m having too much fun now. The problem with such thinking is – If you can’t live for Jesus now, what makes you think you will be able to die for Him later?

So, who will be raptured? Jesus said, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). The word “know” here is translated from the Greek term ginosko. The idea of this word “know” in the original language is to become aware, perceive (as in “seeing is believing”), to understand, to be conscious of, to see something or someone as it/they truly are (not merely opinion or speculation).

When this word is used in the sense of knowing someone it means:

  • To know someone personally
  • To be personally acquainted with someone
  • To trust someone
  • To have a friendship with someone
  • To have an intimate personal relationship with someone

It is possible to know personally the only true God and His Son Jesus Christ. In light of this the question arises, do you know Jesus?

The Good News is that we can have a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. Entering into such a relationship is as simple as ABC: Admit/Ask, Believe/Receive, and Confess/Call.

First Admit your sins and ask God’s forgiveness for them. Our sins separate us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2). And we all have sinned and fall short of what it takes to enter heaven (Romans 3). We need to admit this truth before God. Once we admit our sin before God we need to ask God’s forgiveness for our sins. This implies turning from our sins to God (i.e. repentance). This is humbling but necessary. We come to Him on His terms not our terms. We come humbly before God who is Awesome and Holy.

Second, believe in Jesus and His atoning work. Jesus and Jesus atoning work on the cross alone, not our efforts or works, is the basis for God’s forgiveness of our sins. The wages or consequences of our sin is death. Jesus died on the cross in our place, paying our punishment for sin. God offers us salvation from our sins freely as a gift of His grace through Jesus’ death on the cross (Romans 6:23). We are saved from our sins because of His work not our work. To believe, trust, or put our faith in Jesus as Savior is not a “work,” it is God’s grace working in us (Ephesians 2:8-9). Once we believe in Jesus and His atoning work, we believe and receive forgiveness for our sins based on Jesus and His work. God has a just basis to forgive our sins because of Jesus justifying work on the cross on our behalf. Jesus paid our death penalty on the cross for us. He’s the only One qualified to do that. Jesus took our sins on Himself on the cross and when we trust in Him and His work, He offers us His righteousness to be put to our account (cf. Isaiah 53; 2 Corinthians 5:21). God did this for us in Christ because He loves us. God is Love with a capitol “L” (e.g. John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:8 and 16).

Lastly, Confess and call. We confess our sins to God and receive His forgiveness (1 John 1:9). But we also confess Jesus to those around us. We tell others about Jesus. We call others to follow Jesus too. These are not a works that lead to salvation. This is a fruit or evidence that salvation has genuinely taken place in us. The Bible states, “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).

Look up these verses and pray over them. “So, then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).   Your faith will grow in proportion to your taking in God’s word. And remember, Jesus is not a Bride Beater. He will not pour out His wrath on the Bride during the Tribulation. Jesus will come and rescue His Bride from the Tribulation and its wrath. Jesus is a Bride blesser! Be born again. Become a part of His Bride. Be blessed and saved from the wrath to come.

 

[1]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[2]W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine’s complete expository dictionary of Old and New Testament words [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson) 1997, c1996.

[3] Chuck Smith – The Rapture, published in “The Answer for Today,” issue 7, published by The Word for Today, Costa Mesa, CA.