A good friend and I were discussing the unique events taking place around the world, and that many people believe Jesus will return soon. He said that in every generation there have been people who believed Jesus was about to return. I’m sure that’s true, but it’s also true that one day there will be the generation that does experience the return of the Lord. I wouldn’t want to be part of that generation and not realize that His coming is “right at the door” 1.
[This is an excerpt from “Are You Hoping In The Rapture?”]
The verses that pre-trib teachers use to place the rapture prior to the great tribulation and the glorious coming of Christ, say that “two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left.” (Matt 24:40-41). Pre-trib doctrine interprets this to mean that those who are “taken” are Christians, and those who are “left” are unbelievers. They believe that around the world Christians will suddenly disappear when Jesus takes them up to heaven, and unbelievers will be left to face a time of great tribulation. Pre-trib proponents have elaborated in great detail on these two verses, speculating, with no Biblical support, what it will look like when all these people suddenly disappear and everyone else is left behind. There have been several highly successful books and movies based on this theme. However, their interpretation and application of these verses are taken totally out of context. These two verses must be interpreted within the context of the preceding verses.
The world is in a time of unsettling events. There’s a controversial virus, an economy in serious decline, and intense social unrest. As these things unfold and escalate, I hear increased talk about the rapture.
Most believers are familiar with the Biblical story that contrasts Martha’s busyness with Mary’s choice to sit at Jesus’ feet. There is no complicated theology here, just a simple story. But I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Biblical passage challenge people’s sense of practicality the way this one does.
The Bible gives much insight into the love and goodness of God, and these truths are incredibly positive and reassuring. But it’s a mistake to isolate personally gratifying scriptures and treat these truths as if this is all the Bible has to say about God; as if he is always this way and cannot be any other way.
The definition of cherry-picking is to choose and take only the most beneficial items from what is available. This approach to the Bible is a temptation that is quite easy to fall into, but it results in a distorted view of God himself, and an inaccurate assessment of where we personally stand with him. If we value an honest and healthy relationship with the Lord, we must persistently seek and welcome everything that God says to us throughout the scriptures.
A mystery is something that is veiled and not easily understood. The word mystery is used over twenty times in the New Testament. One example is in the last part of Ephesians chapter five. This passage is expounding on the relationship between husbands and wives, but at the end it takes a surprising turn and finishes with an astounding revelation.
Jesus Christ is the Son of God who came to earth to seek and to save that which was lost 1. However, in the Bible we never see Jesus inviting people to pray a prayer to “receive” salvation. Throughout the four gospels we see Jesus calling people to follow him, and it’s this commitment to follow Christ that leads to salvation 2. How we understand and respond to Jesus’ call will have eternal implications.
Let’s examine some Biblical examples of Jesus calling people to follow him, and the different ways that they responded.
The four gospels of the Bible give us amazing insight into the life of Jesus. We get to see the Son of God living among us as the Son of Man. He models perfectly what it means to love God and to love others. He also models perfect obedience that honors God 1. For all eternity we will marvel at how God’s amazing love caused Him to make the ultimate sacrifice that restores us to right relationship with Him.
As believers we should diligently study the gospels and take to heart the example and teachings of Jesus that are recorded there. However, we are also called to engage in a right-now relationship with the risen Christ. In order to have a healthy relationship with Jesus, we must understand who he is right now, who he is beyond the gospels. Freezing Jesus in time and seeing him only as he was in the time of the gospels will have a negative effect on our present-day interaction with him.
It’s common for most churches to be led by an individual who is recognized as the senior pastor of that church, and that person is usually addressed as Pastor so-and-so, or sometimes just Pastor. This long-established practice is considered a way of showing love and respect. While love and respect are very biblical, addressing a select few within the church by official titles actually goes against the teaching of Jesus. Challenging a practice that is born out of good intentions may seem like nitpicking, but Jesus specifically addressed this issue for good reasons and we should give careful thought to what he said rather than shrugging this off as something trivial.
If a doctor knows his patient has a life threatening disease that can be successfully treated, is he being negative if he tells them their condition, or is he negligent if he keeps quite? If someone knows there are dangerous road conditions ahead, are they being negative if they warn fellow travelers, or are they negligent if they keep quite? I think everyone would agree that in these life-or-death situations, the right thing, the responsible thing, would be to speak up and clearly communicate the truth.
However, in matters of eternal life or death, we don’t seem to have the same clarity. Today’s Christian culture seems to operate from a deep conviction that above all else God wants us to say positive things. This misconception has rendered the church impotent when it comes to speaking life-or-death truths that desperately need to be heard.