Greetings, everyone! Of all the posts I've written, this one may end up being the most controversial. I hope you'll approach what I have to say with an open mind and spirit. I will do my best to back everything with Scriptures, and I certainly encourage you to do your own research into God's Holy Word about this topic.
I approach this post in an attitude of prayer and after much soul and Scripture searching. I originally came across this idea I'm about to present when, after many many times of reading the Bible, I started to see inconsistencies in the verses I was reading and also in what I was hearing from the pulpit. I have not yet made up my mind about this, though I'm sure you'll see in what direction I'm leaning.
We hear much talk about God's grace and love in church these days, and thank God we do. It is the incredible love and mercy of God that draws people to Him in the first place. But, if you've been following me for awhile, you are aware that it drives me crazy that most preachers neglect the other side of God--that He is a judge, and someday He will judge every person who ever lived. Yes, even Christians for what we did after we got saved. Our judgement is not one that leads to hell, but to rewards. But we are held accountable for our actions here on earth.
For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. Matt 16:27
Remember our actions reflect our belief. This is true in any case, not just regarding faith. If you think you're worthless, then you will act like you are worthless. If you believe you're talented and beautiful, you'll act like you are...etc. If you truly believe in Jesus and the Holy Spirit lives inside of you, then you will do your best to obey God and do the things He asks you to as He molds you and changes you into the image of His Son. True faith and works go hand in hand. You cannot separate them.
For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also James 2:26
In other words, I started to notice throughout the Bible that God doesn't just require a simple prayer of salvation and receiving Jesus. He requires evidence of a changed heart. I also started to notice, that in regards to the Rapture before the Tribulation, it seemed that certain conditions had to be met in order to be privileged to escape the horrors of the wrath of God. I know there's a lot of Scriptures here, but I pray you read through them all and look them up in context on your own. I'll add my commentary at the bottom.
The parable of the unfaithful servant
And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. Luke 12:42-46
And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’ Luke 13:24-27
And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it. Matt 10:38-39
“Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds vigilant on his arrival. Amen, I say to you, he will gird himself, have them recline at table, and proceed to wait on them. And should he come in the second or third watch and find them prepared in this way, blessed are those servants. Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” Luke 12:35-40
Remember the Wedding Feast is the Wedding of Jesus and His Bride (the church) Wedding garments are the righteous acts of the saints. (Rev 19:8)
But when the king came in to meet the guests he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. He said to him, ‘My friend, how is it that you came in here without a wedding garment?’ But he was reduced to silence. Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet, and cast him into the darkness outside, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’ Many are invited, but few are chosen.” Matt 22:11-14
Another Wicked servant parable
But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is long delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eat and drink with drunkards, the servant’s master will come on an unexpected day and at an unknown hour and will punish him severely and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Matt 24:48-51
Read Matthew 25 - The parable of the Virgins
This is the Apostle Paul himself saying that he doesn't even know if he's going to make the resurrection from the dead (Remember the resurrection from the dead happens at the Rapture when the dead in Christ rise from their graves and go ahead of those of us still alive)
For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having any righteousness of my own based on the law but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God, depending on faith to know him and the power of his resurrection and sharing of his sufferings by being conformed to his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ [Jesus]. Brothers, I for my part do not consider myself to have taken possession. Just one thing: forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God’s upward calling, in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:8-14
Important to note here that when Jesus comes, He comes on a rescue mission.. to deliver us from the coming wrath. What wrath is that? The wrath of God!
and to await his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus, who delivers us from the coming wrath. 1 Thess 1:10
Do you love His appearing? Are you looking for Jesus and excited at His return?
Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. 2 Tim 4:8
So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. Hebrews 9:28
Notice the "thief" analogy Jesus uses below (a reference to the Rapture)
Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. Rev 3:2-4
It doesn't get any clearer than this. This is Jesus speaking
Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Rev 3:10-11
Another pretty clear verse. Jesus is speaking to His disciples not a group of unbelievers. He had just told them some of the disasters that would happen in the Tribulation
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 Luke 21:36
It seems pretty clear to me after reading all these Scriptures that God requires something from us in order to be found worthy to escape the Tribulation.
I'm Not talking about WORKS here. I know there's a Partial Rapture theory floating around that says who goes in the Rapture is based on works. I believe we are saved completely by GRACE NOT WORKS. But as I stated above, faith and works cannot be separated. If you are truly saved, if you have truly repented and given your life to Jesus. If you put Him first in your life, then there will be some outward evidence.
From the Scriptures above, it seems that God requires us to do the following in order to escape the Tribulation
- Keep His Word
- Look for Jesus to return
- Press on for the prize of God's upward calling in Jesus
- Don't be lazy and turn away from doing God's will (The evil servant)
- Keep your oil lamp lit (Parable of the virgins. Oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit)
- Do Righteous deeds (to create your wedding garment)
- Take up your cross and follow Jesus.
It's really just a matter of the heart. Let's face it, we all struggle with various weaknesses and sins. But what it boils down to is this. Do we love the Lord with all our heart and do we truly desire to follow Him and obey His will? If so, then no matter what stage of our Christian walk we are in, I believe we will be taken in the Rapture.
If, however, a person has fallen away from the Lord. If they are living in purposeful sin. If they have put other things first in their lives, then it is my belief they will be left behind to suffer the Tribulation. Are they still saved and going to heaven? I believe in some case yes! But that's a topic for another time. I imagine that being left behind will truly wake up many of the carnal Christians out there who have drifted far from God. They will know what happened and fall to their knees in repentance, and they may very well be the ones who help save many people during the most tumultuous time on earth.
This is a topic I portray in my new release, When Angels Cry, coming out on April 3rd. I realize this is a touchy subject and may upset some of you who are hoping your loved ones will be delivered. I, too, have a child who has drifted from God, so I completely understand. However, I felt the Lord wanted me to deliver this warning as gently as I could. (And I'm giving myself this warning too!)
Get ready. He's coming soon! Repent of any sin, repent of disobedience and not putting Jesus first in your life, and get right with God. Pray, read the Bible, be filled with the Holy Spirit, and make it your daily goal to walk with Him and know Him.
If you don't know Jesus, stop what you're doing, get alone, and pray for God to make Him known to you. I'm writing a post on how to be saved next Monday.