Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Rapture Of The Church.

In 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 from the Expositors Study Bible KJV, we read:V15 FOR THIS WE SAY UNTO YOU BY THE WORD OF THE LORD (presents the Doctrine of the Rapture of the Church as the "Word of the Lord), THAT WE WHICH ARE ALIVE AND REMAIN UNTO THE COMING OF THE LORD (all Believers who are alive at the Rapture) SHALL NOT PREVENT THEM WHICH ARE ASLEEP. (This refers to the fact that the living Saints will not precede or go before the dead Saints). V16 FOR THE LORD HIMSELF SHALL DESCEND FROM HEAVEN WITH A SHOUT (refers to "the same Jesus" which the Angels proclaimed in Acts 1:11), WITH THE VOICE OF THE ARCHANGEL (refers to Michael, the only one referred to as such{Jude v 9}), AND WITH THE TRUMP OF GOD (doesn't exactly say God will personally blow this Trumpet, but that it definitely does belong to Him, whoever does signal the blast): AND THE DEAD IN CHRIST SHALL RISE FIRST ( the criteria for being ready for the Rapture is to be "in Christ", which means that all who are truly Born-again will definitely go in the Rapture): V17 THEN WE WHICH ARE ALIVE AND REMAIN SHALL BE CAUGHT UP (Raptured) TOGETHER WITH THEM (the Resurrected dead) IN THE CLOUDS (clouds of Saints, not clouds as we normally think of such), TO MEET THE LORD IN THE AIR ( the Greek word for "air" is "aer", and refers to the lower atmosphere, or from about 6,000 feet down; so, the Lord will come at least within 6,000 feet of the Earth, perhaps even lower, with all the Saints meeting Him there; but He, at that time, will not come all the way to the Earth, that awaiting the Second Coming, which will be seven or more years later): AND SO SHALL WE EVER BE WITH THE LORD. ( This presents the greatest meeting humanity will have ever known.)

This glorious event called the Rapture could take place at any moment. It is the next great event on the horizon of time. The literal Greek phrase calls for us to be snatched away. This is where we derive our word, Rapture.
Jesus Said in Matthew 24:36 that no one knows the day or the hour. Only the Father Knows. We should resist any temptation to engage in date setting. What we do know is that while there are no specific "Rapture" signs that need to be fulfilled; many of the signs that point to the second coming are being fulfilled at breathtaking rapidity: so how much closer is the Rapture to taking place. The Rapture will take place very soon, at some point prior to the inception of the Great Tribulation.

Christ's own words are the reason for this view. Jesus warned us to be alert for His imminent return (Matthew 24:42,44), and a pre- tribulational Rapture is the only position that allows for His at-any-moment arrival.
The Second Comin, then, is best thought of as a separate event, when our Lord returns following the 7 year Great Tribulation to defeat His enemies. At that time, Satan will be bound and remain so during Christ's 1,000 year millennial reign.
At the Rapture, the Lord comes for His People; at the Second Coming, He comes with His People.
After the 1,000 year millennial reign, the Lord will conduct the Great White Throne Judgment in which unbelievers of all time will be judged and cast into a place called the lake of fire, eternally separated from a loving, living, Holy, and just God.
Believers, however, will enjoy eternity in the presence of God, beginning at the Rapture.

Here are some vital distinctions between the Rapture and the Second Coming.
1- The Rapture takes place before the Tribulation (1 Thess. 4:16-17) but the Second coming takes place at the end of this period. (Matt. 24:29-31)
2- At the Rapture, all believers on Earth will be taken to Heaven, but at the Second Coming, God will bring us back to this Earth.
3- The timing of the Rapture is completely unknown (Matt. 24:36-41), but the Second Coming will be marked by several predicted signs. (Matt. 24:29-30)
4- The description of the Rapture makes no mention of Satan, but he will be bound and cast into the lake of fire at the Second Coming. (Rev 20:2,10)

As we live in these exciting times, we must focus our attention on Jesus Christ and anticipate His return. We must be faithful disciples, making soul-winning a active and vital part of our lives. We have a message that others need to hear. We must share it while there is still time. That message is Christ and Him Crucified.

Scripture assures us that Jesus will come for His Children personally. In John 14:3, the Lord promised that He was going to prepare a place for us. When the time comes, He will return for us to take us there. Let us be busy about our Fathers business and take as many with us as possible. God Bless.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Freedom Watch

Freedom Watch

America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, is all about religious freedom. Yet, in the name of separation of church and state, religious groups have often had to battle for equal access to public facilities or the freedom to teach the Bible. Even then, simple letters can usually clear up situations in which Christians face discrimination.

Santa Rosa County, Florida:
The ACLU filed a lawsuit against Florida’s Santa Rosa County School District last year and, in response, the school district agreed to a consent order that ended with the banning of religious activities at county schools. As a result, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes was prevented from renting school facilities at Jay High School and teachers were forbidden to attend baccalaureate services.

When contacted about the issue, the Alliance Defense Fund wrote a letter to inform the school district that these prohibitions were unconstitutional. The school district then reversed its policies and allowed the Christian athlete group to meet on school property and renewed teachers’ freedom to attend private baccalaureate services on their own time.

San Diego County, California:
A pastor and his wife were cited and their home Bible study in Bonita, CA was shut down, making national news. On April 11, David and Mary Jones were told they had to get a permit in order to hold the home studies, in which between five and 27 people gathered each week.

“She asked me if we sang songs, said Amen, praised the Lord or not. I don’t even think I answered because I was so taken aback” said Mary Jones, whose home had been used for the Bible study for five years.

When the event made the news, the county at first explained that the whole thing was about parking. One of the neighbors had apparently complained about inconveniently parked cars. Last week San Diego County finally made an official apology to the couple. The county’s chief administrative officer Walter Ekard wrote a letter on Wednesday, June 3 to say that the citation should never have been written and the Jones family was not required to get a permit.

Tulsa, Oklahoma:
For two decades, Child Evangelism Fellowship has put on a Bible-based summer vacation program for kids in Tulsa’s inner city projects. The fellowship’s goal is to help these high-risk kids stay out of drugs and crime through fun activities and messages that also teach them about God. A non-profit group that administers recreational programs for the Tulsa Housing Authority, Youth At Heart, recently told Child Evangelism Fellowship that they could not run programs that spoke about God or Jesus. Youth at Heart informed the Christian group that religious instruction was not permitted on public housing property. They said the policy had been in place for a long time, but just had not been enforced.

Mathew Staver of the Liberty Counsel commented, “There is a mistaken notion if you allow equal access to a religious group, you’re violating the Constitution.” So far the housing authority has declined to comment, but a 2001 US Supreme Court ruling makes the case clear; religious groups have the same rights to access public facilities or property as any other group.

Larry Koehn, head of Child Evangelism Fellowship in Tulsa, is not very worried. “Last fall, one of our schools said we couldn’t hold a club after school for the same reasons,” he said. “I contacted the Liberty Counsel and they wrote a letter to the school board explaining equal access, and they let us in.”

Religious discrimination continues to take place in America, but Americans have a number of legal groups ready to assist them when problems and confusions sprout up. Those who experience daily religious freedom around the world should praise God for the liberty they enjoy. It is a precious gift that should never be taken lightly.