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06/19/08

The Rapture of the Church, fact or fiction? #7


This article is the seventh and last one in the series, dealing with the Biblical Truth, the Rapture of the Church - written by Pekka Sartola in his recent work, "Millennium".
The Rapture of the Church
Pekka Sartola

Who will be in the Rapture? 

 

 This question has caused tremendous headache to the Christendom and its members in person through the entire history; will I make it to Heaven, am I part of that event which Jesus and Paul spoke of? Or shall I be left to face the Antichristian persecutions and tribulation, and finally, do I end up in Hell? Solemn questions, to which only the Bible can give correct answers. Who then will be going in the Rapture of the Church, of which we have written before and cited the Bible in many places.

 In his letter to the Thessalonian Church, 1.Thess. chapters 4 and 5 the Apostle Paul stresses, that all the living Saints then and the ones that have slept (died) will be with in the Rapture. He also mentions, that wherefore comfort one another with these words, not scare each other. 

 Furthermore, in his letter to the Church in Corintho, the Apostle is NOT distinguishing believers into two different groups, when writing to them about Christ's return for His own in the air. But he is underlining, that not all, that participate in the congregational affairs, are automatically fit for Heaven. In 1. Cor. chapter 5, verses 9-13, Paul is distinguishing out of the Heaven-fit Church all such people, who, yet been called brethren, are fornicators, do covet, idolaters, blasphemers, extortioners or given to wine. He exhorts to put away such people that are among the Church yet mentioning still, that they will be judged by God Himself in due time. Further, the Apostle mentions, that such were some of you, before ye were washed.  

 It that sense it is most natural, that such an one, who claims to be a believer, but clearly is an idolater, could not possibly belong to the Body of Christ, the Church, be truly converted and whose body would at the same time be the temple of the Holy Ghost. Idolatry has never, in any circumstance, in any form belonged to the Christian Church built on the Word of God. Such people are not believers in that biblical sense, that they by one Spirit would have been baptized into the one and the same entity, the Body of Christ. They might have a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof, as the Bible well defines the people, that are the parotias under religiosity.

 

 But what else is said of the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul rebukes them of almost everything: quarrelling, brethren going to law with brethren, eating the bread and drinking the cup of the Lord unworthily, emulations, seditions, arrogance, carnality and describes them as children in Christ. Thus it was not a very glowing picture of the spiritual state of the Church in Corintho. On the other hand, I have noticed myself similar problems existing in some of the assemblies and gatherings of believers of today - so there is no new thing under the sun. But when the Apostle Paul takes into consideration the gifts of the Holy Spirit, their usage and how they build individual believers and largerly the Church, he is not distinguishing the believers into two or more categories, but states that the Holy Spirit is dividing to every man severally as He will, setting everyone in his or her place, to serve the Body of Christ, and furnishing everyone with the gift, which suits the best en bloc.

 

 This same categorizing, or the missing of it, appears when the Apostle Paul is speaking to the Corinthians and naturally so, to us about the catching up of the Church. There he uses the expression "but we shall all be changed"; all shall die in Adam and even so in Christ shall all be made alive, every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. In his letter to the Church in Ephesus, the Apostle particularizes those definitions, which are related to the person's being fit to Heaven - and the Rapture.

  Ep. 1:13-14 "In Whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in Whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory."   Once again, here the Apostle leaves without categorizing the believers into two or more camps. It is rightly put, that he announces clearly and succinctly, what is the definition of salvation and Heaven-fit condition and at the same time definition and precondition of the Rapture. The sealing of the Holy Spirit is in question here, where the Lord knows His own. The Apostle Paul had then in mind the custom of his day, where the owner marked his belongings with a seal. That seal could be in his ring or it was a separate die-cutter, with which the ownership of something was stamped or marked. The Holy Spirit places in every believer a seal in that very twinkling of the eye, when a person calls upon His Name and is thus saved. Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved! 

 This same sealing we will find again, but the next time in the Book of Revelation, its chapter 7 verses 3 and 4, where the servants of our God, the 144.000 Jews, are sealed in their foreheads; 12000 from every tribe of Israel - the ones who will go and evangelize the whole world after the Rapture of the Church. It is after the Rapture, due to the fact, that if they had been sealed, i.e. they had been saved during the era of the Church, they would have had part in the Rapture of the Church. But they are Jews, and this particular sealing takes place only in the beginning of the seven-year Tribulation. They are all but Spirit-sealed believers, neomessianic Israelites, who continue with the Gospel where the Church left it.

  The same condition applies to having part in the Rapture than getting saved; no other criteria is given to us by the Bible. In the Rapture there will be both good believers and deficient ones, prayer-like and prayer-answers-getting ones, even them, that have not in that twinkling of the eye had the chance to pardon Christ or their neighbours of their omissions. The Rapture doesn't divide them into two castes; the only significant and important thing is, is the person in saving faith to Jesus or not. The feeblest and poorest believer, who places the surety of his eternal life in the finished work of Christ in the Cross, is as completely as possible a saved person, that the more saved he couldn't possibly be.   Heb. 7:25 "Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them." 

 There is nothing of such kind than "just-about-salvation", a mixture of half a cup of salvation and another of misery, in which notion even some believers eke. The person is either saved in full or entirely out of salvation. There's no third whereabouts.

 

 In this relation and when speaking about these issues, one biblical certainty goes without notice: namely, the position and state of the believer. His position means his relationship with God, to Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour, which, in turn, defines the fitness to Heaven. That matter was dealt with nearly 2000 years ago on the third cross of Golgotha, and it adds nothing to it, whether what you feel one day, or not. The work of the Cross is once done and for all; one can possess it as a free, a gift without cost, only by believing in Him with the heart, Who has died in place of you - and risen. The position before God is thus righteousness – having been proclaimed not guilty, and having been saved to life eternal.

 

 Entirely other matter instead is the respective state of the believer, which is varying, as it will from time to time. Sometimes you feel like a million-dollar bill, then on the other hand, you may even doubt if you ever were born again. Sometimes God seems so distant and negligent, when the prayer answers are not there, still you try and cry upon His Name for help. Your habitual sins and customs try to raise their ugly heads and lure in reminiscing of the past affairs. Your fellow mates so have turned the ugly eye when hearing of your "swish in faith". Some never, no way, seem to get rid of their ill-tempering, both at work and home; they snarl and sulk as if all the problems of the world would be on their neck at the same time. The life of faith is either extremely lawstressing or has started to taste like timberwood; even the usage of alcohol might be heavy, and that old paganpriest too, in his nesting box, can nothing but point that accusing finger at me... The Apostle Paul describes this kind of believer as carnal, but he says them to be in faith.

 

 Another picture of the believer exists, though. Of the one that prays a lot, participates in the assembly meetings, helps in the kitchen or in bees, offers regularly - and how come, is also getting prayer answers. Such is described in the Scriptures as a spiritual man; essential however is, that both of these described illustrations are of believers' role models; others certainly exist as well. But what is of most importance is the position of the believer as made righteous and thus saved. But at the same time the spiritual condition of the believer varies a lot. However, the Apostle says that He might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. Such condition does not conform to the Church as comprehensive Body of Christ. Something has to happen, though, before such a Bride will be present in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

 What comes to the timing of the Rapture and Church's meeting Christ in the air, and what happens at the time between that and the presentation before the Throne of God, more of it in the passage called the Judgment Seat of Christ.                                                                        

 

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