So, we mentioned in one of the recent blogs that early on in my Christian walk, I joined a life group. I was just beginning my God walk and, quite honestly, it took a lot of guts for me to show up. Once there the group was engaged in a long talk about the rapture and who would go to heaven and who would not…partly based on their religion. It wasn’t pleasant, it was even a bit ugly. I sat and listened and tried to understand exactly what the rapture was and how these folks in this group knew what was going to happen to specific individuals.
Being totally transparent with you, I basically decided that this Christian thing, these people and this belief wasn’t for me. As I look back, I am so thankful that as I left the group, I called my sister to express my confusion and disappointment. She had been a Christian for some time and was able to talk me in off the ledge and assured me this was not how all Christians thought.
I learned two lessons from this early exposure to Christianity.
First, what is the rapture and what does it mean to me?
There are two camps on this belief.
There are many Christians who believe that the second coming of Jesus Christ will be in two phases. First, He will come for believers, both living and dead, in the “rapture” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). In this view, the rapture—which is the transformation and rising of all Christians, dead or alive, to meet Christ in the air—will be secret, for it will be unknown to the world of unbelievers at the time of its happening.
The effect of this removal, in the absence of multitudes of people, will, of course, be evident on earth. Then, second, after a period of seven years of tribulation on earth, Christ will return to the earth with His church, the saints who were raptured (Matthew 24:30, 2 Thessalonians 1:7, 1 Peter 1:13, Revelation 1:7). He will be victorious over His enemies and will reign on the earth for 1,000 years (the millennium) with His saints, the church.
Many other evangelical Christians believe that Christ’s return and the rapture will not occur until the seven years of the tribulation have ended. As far as the latter view is concerned, the rapture will not be secret, since it will be part of Christ’s visible and triumphant return to end this present evil age (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17). At this point, interpreters differ as to whether there will be a literal thousand year reign of Christ on earth or whether the white throne judgment and the new heaven and earth will immediately appear.
All Christians do not agree on the details of what will occur in the final events of this world’s history. Some of these events and their order of occurrence have simply not been made clear in the Bible. What is important is that all Christians hold in common that Christ will ultimately return bodily, visibly, and gloriously to reign and rule with His resurrected and transformed saints forever and ever. The details of this great event will be made known in God’s own time.
So what does it mean for me? There will be the second coming of Christ. When? We don’t know. How? It’s not clear. What should I do in the meantime? Believe. Follow. Remain.
So, Christ is delaying His coming, but one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. We have one lifetime—50, 60 or 70 years. It seems a long time; but in eternity, it’s only the flash of an eye. It’s only a moment. His promise is that He’s going to be coming back to Earth again. But God loves us, so He is giving us time to repent. To follow. To believe. To remain. He’s “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). None of us is going to be able to stand before God and say we didn’t have time to repent. He’s given us a lifetime to repent.
There are thousands of church members today who have only an intellectual faith. Christ doesn’t live in their hearts. They may go to church, but they live for themselves. There’s no time for Bible reading, no time for Bible study, no time for prayer, no time for spiritual things. This statement convicts me. What about you?
Christ said, “You cannot follow me unless you are willing to take up the cross” (Luke 9:23). What did he mean by that? He meant that He was going to die as a criminal, and He wanted you to go with Him. That means that you go back to your school, back to your home, back to your community, and you live for Christ even though they may crucify you. In today’s culture, everybody wants to be like everybody else. We’re afraid to stand up and be counted. We’re afraid to stand alone. We don’t want to be different.
But the bottom line is we are different. We are called to be different.
The Bible says we are a peculiar, separated people (1 Peter 2:9). We are to “come out from among them and be separate” and “do not touch what is unclean” (2 Corinthians 6:17).
In many ways, we’ve lost our fear of God. We’ve been told that God is a kindly old man sitting on a cloud, and He’s going to forgive everybody, and everybody in the end is going to be saved. The Bible teaches otherwise.
The lesson? The rapture is real, but a bit unclear. Jesus is coming back, as in the second coming. I need to check my heart, as well as, my life constantly to ensure that my heart and my life are for Jesus.
The second lesson I learned is that my actions and my words impact other people.
Ok, this is a duh. Of course, they do. We all know this, but it is something else to think about and acknowledge that my words and actions can affect someone’s salvation. Their actual salvation.
When I left that life group some 20 plus years ago, if I had not had a seasoned Christian to call (my sister), I might have never found my way back to Christ. I might have just walked. If I had walked then everyone I have touched, guided or influenced for Christ in the last 20 years may have been affected. Domino effect.
Think about this: Each month the Singles Ministry holds a First Friday event. 150-175 people attend. It goes without saying that there are many, many walks of life and God walks. From new believers to seasoned Christians. People will be influenced. Someone new gets brave enough to attend for the first time and how they are treated is everything. It can actually be about their salvation. If they are treated poorly, it could cause them to turn their back on their new walk with God.
How each of us acts, what each of us says, influences people’s salvation. Isn’t that powerful? We can lead people to Christ or turn them away by being a poor witness.
The lesson? Walk our talk – always, without exception.
So, my thoughts for today: in the next few weeks, we are going to be hitting some hard truths in this blog. We are not called to shy away from biblical truths just because they are difficult. We are called to run to the truth, embrace the truth (even if uncomfortable) and most of all, remain in the truth.
Believe. Follow. Remain
Walk our Talk
Right here with you,