The Cubs, The Wait, Our Hope

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Something is bound to go wrong! Can the Cubs really hold on to this lead, defeat the Dodgers, and go to the World Series?

As I watched the Cubs defeat the Dodgers last Saturday night, I had nagging doubts until the very last out.  Would the Cubs win and actually gain a spot in the World Series for the first time since 1945?

Perhaps my qualms came from desiring to see this happen for so very long.

As a small boy back in the 1960’s, I frequently listened to Cub games on my transistor radio all the while hoping they would somehow make it to the World Series.

I remember 1969; it seemed like that would be the year for the Cubs. Before the season began Ernie Banks said, “The Cubs will shine in ’69” and they played like champions for much of the season. Then the New York Mets got hot and the Cubs faded like an ice cube on a scorching hot day. In my high school history class, the teacher brought in a box of Kleenex specifically for Cub fans as hopes of a pennant faded.

Although I have not followed baseball for many years, I always pay attention to the fate of the Chicago Cubs. Most seasons, hopes fade early as the Cubs lose game after game. This season, however, the Cubs immediately took the lead in their division and ended up with the best record in all of baseball.

So what was the source of my misgivings regarding the Cubs as they played the Dodgers for a trip to the World Series? It was not the amazing amount of talent on the team.

Rather, I doubted that something I had anticipated for so very long would actually happen.

Isn’t it the same way with our hope for Jesus’ return to take us home? After waiting for something for so long, we begin to think it won’t happen!

Isn’t it the same way with our hope for Jesus’ return to take us home?

Most of us have looked for His appearing for many years, if not decades. Just like waiting for the Cubs to win the pennant, it’s easy to think this will not happen, at least not anytime soon.

As result of waiting so long, we all too often dismiss our hope and live as though Jesus will never show up and radically change everything.

Scripture tells us, however, that Jesus will return just as promised; our waiting will not be in vain.

The Waiting

Unlike waiting for the Cubs to go to the World Series, our hope in Jesus’ return remains certain. The Lord said He would someday return for us (John 14:1-3); no such promise ever existed for the Cubs to ever win the National League pennant.

The same Lord who predicted both His death and resurrection promises to return and take us to be with Him. With Jesus’ track record, it would be foolish to doubt His promise to return for us. And yet . . . we wait!

The same Lord who predicted both His death and resurrection promises to return and take us to be with Him. With Jesus’ track record, it would be foolish to doubt His promise to return for us.

And yet, if there’s one word that stands out in the New Testament regarding the Rapture, it’s “wait.”

In Philippians 3:20 Paul clearly addresses this wait, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” The word Paul used for “await” in this verse denotes “intense anticipation” and an “excited expectation” of a future event. The word implies eagerness and even a longing in our hearts for a future event.

At times, our waiting for Jesus’ appearing may seem a bit surreal. Will it really happen? Will He show up just as He promised?

Yes! The Cubs’ victory reminds us that things we hope for do happen.

Will the Cubs go on to win the World the Series? We cannot know at this time.

Will Jesus come someday for us?

This we can know for sure. He will come just as He promised regardless of the wait.

Despite the length of our wait whether it be a day, a week, a month, a year, several years, Jesus will not disappoint. He will come at precisely the right time!

A Voter’s Guide to Biblical Characters

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With the time to vote rapidly approaching, I wonder which biblical character might do well against Hillary in the upcoming election.

If we were to replace Trump with someone from the Old or even the New Testament, who might that be? Would he fare better in this year’s election and defeat Hillary?

Let’s look at how some of the characters from the Bible might possibly do in the 2016 presidential election if they were to run against Hillary Clinton.

Jacob

I’ve always liked Jacob. He seems like someone who could be a great leader if given the chance. He always finds a way to get things done although it doesn’t always look so pretty. While the matter of the stolen birthright and blessing might come up, he and Esau have reconciled.

Oh, but Hillary would certainly highlight the matter of the wives and their servants during the campaign. I can just picture Rachel and Leah battling it out on a daytime talk show; that would end his candidacy for sure. Jacob would never succeed as a candidate.

Joseph

What about Joseph? He certainly has fantastic experience serving as the second in command over all of Egypt. Amazingly, he correctly interpreted the dreams of Pharaoh and then on the spot devised a plan to store up grain during the seven plentiful years so they would survive the seven lean years. We could certainly highlight his economic wisdom in any campaign.

However, there’s the matter of Potiphar’s wife. We know Joseph is innocent in the matter, but Hillary and the media would surely work day and night to prove he was guilty. I’m sure they would dig up other women, as well, to falsely accuse Joseph and convincingly back up the story of Potiphar’s wife.

Before long, even Christians might be repeating the mainstream media mantra, no doubt started by Hillary, identifying him as a misogynist. Let’s keep looking for a better candidate.

Moses

With Moses’ training in Egypt and his experience leading the Israelites, he might be the ideal choice to put up against Hillary. Who could question his leadership ability in confronting Pharaoh and in leading the Israelites out of Egypt? He kept the struggling Israelites together as a nation during the forty years they wandered in the wilderness bringing them to the brink of entering the Promised Land.

However, there is the matter of the plagues. I’m certain as media recounts the number of firstborn killed in Egypt as result of the last plague, things would turn ugly. Many would refuse to go to the polls or vote third party. And, it would only be a matter of time before Hillary’s campaign digs up something from Moses’ past to make him look especially bad.

We need to find a better candidate; perhaps someone who could bring down the house at a debate.

Samson

I wonder if Samson might appeal to the younger generation today. His long hair and strength might persuade many of the Millennials to vote for him.

Oh, but he has a big negative. He was a womanizer and unlike Joseph, it’s an issue we cannot deny. He has a poor track record. Despite his early victories against the Philistines, he will never amount to anything. How could the Lord possibly use someone like Samson to further His purposes?

David

David! Why didn’t I consider him earlier? With his fantastic military career and outstanding record as king, who wouldn’t vote for David, the giant killer? Many regard David as one of the great kings of all times. He established Israel as a great nation paving the way for the peaceful and prosperous reign of Solomon.

Perhaps no other king in history can boast of such great military achievements to go along with such a stellar economic record that led to forty years of prosperity for Israel following his death.

Oh, but he would lose the Evangelical vote for sure. Once Hillary began harping on that sticky matter with Bathsheba, we would never hear the end of it. Her campaign allies in the media would quickly join her in denouncing David.

We could bring out Psalm 51 as evidence of his repentance, but that would not suffice against the constant media attacks regarding the incident, which would no doubt highlight David’s multiple wives. No, regardless of his moving confession, Christians would never look past his adultery and collection of wives. How could an apology for that ever be genuine? David would never receive enough votes to win.

Peter

Then there is Peter. Although impetuous at times, the Lord Himself recognized his leadership abilities; what better recommendation than that? His diverse career as a fisherman, disciple of Jesus, and then as an apostle leading the early church would no doubt appeal to many voters.

On the other hand, we do have to consider his propensity to say stupid things at times. With his impulsive nature, he certainly would stick his foot in his mouth more times than not during the campaign. With his tendency to overreact, we could never trust him with a twitter account.

We need someone with a spotless record despite years of experience in government.

Daniel

I think Daniel might be the perfect candidate. Despite the best efforts of his enemies, even they could not find anything in his record of government service to use against him.

Sure he would be dragged through the mud by Hillary and the media; it’s what they do. I’m confident; however, Daniel would be able to resist all accusations that would surely come against him.

Many of the Republicans, however, would detest Daniel. The Republicans in leadership, who have willingly compromised on so many issues in the past just to keep their power, would certainly reject him.

While the Republican leaders might go along with him in public, perhaps remembering what happened to Daniel’s last political opponents, they would certainly seek to undercut his election every step of the way at the same time trying to avoid being eaten alive.

I guess there’s really no perfect candidate to put up against Hillary. They all have flaws; Hillary and the mainstream press would make them all, with the possible exception of Daniel, look like womanizers and misogynists.

Even the best of leaders in the Bible had serious flaws that under the constant exaggeration of the media would make them look bad.

It’s a wonder the Lord could accomplish such great things with such flawed people.

Oh, wait a minute, that’s what the Lord always does!  He used people like us to do great things.

So maybe Trump isn’t so bad after all. Maybe the Lord can greatly use him as well to accomplish great things. Only time will tell.

Trump Versus Our Witness

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This post will be quite controversial to some of you, but as I have listened to several Christian leaders over the past week voice contempt for Trump while remaining totally silent regarding the evil Hillary represents, something stirred deep inside me. I cannot keep silent. This may be a Bonhoeffer moment for our nation (I’ll explain later).

Like many people, I felt grief at hearing the latest revelation of what Donald Trump said eleven years ago. I did not listen to the statement, but heard enough about it to know it was shameful.

Later, I listened to his apology a couple times and believed he was sincere. I felt relief as I listened to his expression of regret for his words.

My relief, however, turned to sadness as I read the reaction of many Christian leaders to Trump’s apology, many of whom refused to accept his apology as genuine or forgive Trump for what he said.

Some even say a Trump victory will kill the church. That’s absurd at best!

The reason most give for not supporting Trump is that such backing would compromise our witness as believers to our neighbors and keep them away from the Savior. Some even say a Trump victory will kill the church. That’s absurd at best!

I believe these often repeated assertions are based on several misleading assumptions.

They Assume Hillary Supporters will be Most Open to the Gospel

The reasoning that supporting Trump will cause many to reject Christ has at its heart the assumption Hillary supporters will be more open to the Gospel than those voting for Trump. Why else would they fear such a negative response toward the Gospel from those around them?

Those voting for Trump are not likely to reject the Savior because we as believers support him. Why would they?

If those who do not vote had strong anti-Trump feelings, they would vote for Hillary.

As for Hillary supporters, why would those voting for someone who proclaims that we as believers are deplorable and phobia-ridden for holding to biblical values be more open to our faith than Trump supporters? That does not make sense to me.

They Assume We Need a Perfect Candidate

Many Christians scrutinize Trump as though he was in the running to head up the women’s ministry at their local church. If that were the case then yes, Trump might not be the most ideal candidate.

He is running to be President; he does not need to perfect or have a spotless way of life. Who does? The condemning audio happened eleven years ago and he has apologized. Does God still hold us accountable for our words eleven years ago? No! He forgives our sins! Why do so many deny Trump the forgiveness they themselves enjoy for sins just as bad (if not worse) as that of Trump?

Our presidents do not have to be perfect to accomplish great things.

Some of the world’s greatest leaders have not been perfect; below are James Dobson’s words regarding Winston Churchill:

I have always admired Winston Churchill. He is seen as one of the greatest national leaders in the 20th century. . . . He was not always celebrated as a great leader. He was a bombastic, cigar smoking, at times crude, even misogynistic leader.

It is alleged that he told off color stories to his children before bedtime! A woman once told him he was disgustingly drunk. His response was “My dear, you are disgustingly ugly, but tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be ugly!”

Along that same theme, Dobson said this about Trump,

So…is Donald Trump good for America? I honestly believe that he has been already. He has shaken the political system. Do his comments offend me? At times! Do I agree with all he says? Not at all! But could he be a “Cyrus” being raised up by God to preserve America?

Our presidents do not have to be perfect to accomplish great things.

They Assume Only Believers will Suffer if Hillary Become President

Many Christian leaders assert it would be good for the church to suffer the consequences of a Hillary presidency. They believe such suffering may spark revival. While this may certainly be the case if God in His sovereignty allows Hillary to win, it overlooks one key reality.

Christians will not be the only ones to suffer under a Hillary presidency!

The union of border patrollers recently voted overwhelmingly to support Trump. In their statement of support, they asserted that the immigration policies of Hillary would result in the deaths of thousands of Americans in the coming years.

She promises to raise taxes on everyone who pays them, has no answers to skyrocketing healthcare costs, and thinks food stamps are the answer to our economic ills.

In light of all this, do we really think our neighbors will be thrilled to discover we stayed home rather than vote for a flawed candidate? Do we really think our unwillingness to vote will make others more open to the Gospel once they experience the dire consequences of a Clinton victory? I don’t think so!

They Assume Our Unwillingness to Forgive Trump Will Make Others More Receptive to the Gospel

Somewhere buried in the thinking of these Christian leaders is the assumption that our unwillingness to forgive Trump will make others more receptive to the Gospel.

Have we gotten so far away from the message of grace that we think our unwillingness to forgive Trump will make us more winsome to others?

How does our adoption of the world’s unforgiving attitude make others more open to the Gospel? Hasn’t our message of forgiveness and mercy always been much more appealing?

Have we gotten so far away from the message of grace that we think our unwillingness to forgive Trump will make us more winsome to others? Did not Jesus condemn the Pharisees for this exact attitude?

Since When Does Our Allowing Evil to Prosper Further God’s Purposes?

Perhaps you may think it extreme that I consider a Clinton presidency to be evil, but when you look at all we know about her a compelling case can be made in this regard. Consider the evidence:

  • The e-mails just released show her to be vile, foulmouthed, and disgustingly antagonistic of blacks, Muslims, Catholics, and even voters in her own party.
  • She supports abortion up until birth and publically proclaims that Christianity must be changed to accept abortion as well.
  • She destroyed 33,000 e-mails after Congress had subpoenaed them as evidence; she also physically destroyed cell phones with a hammer to hide the same evidence.
  • She lied to the families of the Benghazi survivors and then later accused them of lying.
  • She believes in a one world government and if elected will continue the push for a socialistic world order that will as Obama clearly stated at the UN, mean that we will need to surrender “some of our rights and freedoms.”

My question is this: since when does allowing evil to succeed further God’s purposes? Yes, I totally recognize God’s sovereignty; He may allow Hillary to become president and use that for His purposes. Perhaps her election would trigger events leading to the rapture and Great Tribulation.

But at this point all we know is that we have an opportunity to stop the evil Hillary represents. Why step aside and let evil prevail by allowing her to claim the presidency?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the famous Lutheran pastor put to death by the Nazis said this, “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

I believe this may very well be the Dietrich Bonhoeffer moment for our country

We will not have another opportunity to turn back the growing tide of evil spreading across our nation. If elected, Hillary will hasten the setting up of the coming satanic and demonic world order.

Not to vote, or voting third party, equals a vote for Hillary. Not to speak up against the evil she represents through our voting is to speak in favor of that evil. There is no third option in this election!

This election most certainly is not a matter of refusing to vote for the lessor of two evils. That old and worn out analysis does not match the reality of this election!

Hillary, based on the sample of items I listed above, is evil. In fact, I do not know of any Christian leader who denies that she is desperately evil.

Trump, while not the most perfect of candidates, is certainly not evil. If that were the case, do you think godly men who know him such as James Dobson, Ben Carson, Mike Pence, and Mike Huckabee would all so highly endorse him? There is no way on earth these highly respected men of God would endorse someone who is evil.

This is NOT a matter of voting for the lessor of two evils! It’s matter of taking stand against the evil that Hillary represents by voting for Trump.

There is no third option in this election!

We either vote for Trump, who I believe is becoming a better candidate with each passing day, or we allow evil to gain an even greater foothold in our nation.

Not to vote, or voting third party, equals a vote for Hillary. Not to speak up against the evil she represents through our voting is to speak in favor of that evil. There is no third option in this election! It’s either Hillary or Trump!

 

Habakkuk in the Morning

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I need the message of Habakkuk this morning!

As I look at the evil and injustice flourishing in our nation, discouragement looms at my doorstep.  Habakkuk helps me close the door to such feelings of despair.

The book of Habakkuk begins with the prophet’s complaint of violence and injustice in Judah:

2 O Lord, how long shall I cry for help,

    and you will not hear?

Or cry to you “Violence!”

    and you will not save?

3 Why do you make me see iniquity,

    and why do you idly look at wrong?

Destruction and violence are before me;

    strife and contention arise.

4 So the law is paralyzed,

    and justice never goes forth.

For the wicked surround the righteous;

    so justice goes forth perverted.

Does this not describe our nation today? Is this not our world!?

My heart grieves as I think of all the violence all about us, of the despicable practices of abortion clinics, of the growing violence toward police, and of the almost daily terrorist attacks that claim the lives of so many innocent lives throughout the world.

I’m horrified by the actions of Planned Parenthood as well as by both political parties that not only refuse to take action against the selling of baby parts, but continually vote to continue taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood. Just this week, Hillary celebrated the anniversary of Planned Parenthood. We live in evil times!

BTW, Hillary believes Christianity must be changed to accept abortion and if elected she will have a Supreme Court that will fully back her in this matter.

We see “iniquity” prospering throughout our nation as never before. Twenty years ago I never could have imagined that our Supreme Court would someday rule in favor of same sex marriage or that a candidate of a major party would fervently support this along with a host of other sins so clearly forbidden in Scripture.

The prophet saw that the law was “paralyzed.” Could there be a more apt description of what is happening in our nation?

The prophet saw that the law was “paralyzed.” Could there be a more apt description of what is happening in our nation? The rich and powerful are not called to account for their evil and yet bakers who stand by their biblical convictions face obscene fines.

Truly, justice is “perverted” in our nation as the “wicked surround the righteous.”  The institutions that we as nation rely on to bring the wicked to justice are now stained with political corruptness.

I see a nation one election away from surrendering to an oppressive and socialistic world order that will, as President Obama clearly stated recently at the United Nations, “take away some of our rights and freedoms” for the “common good.” The recently uncovered e-mails reveal that Hillary is totally on board with this evil agenda to subject America to this satanic and demonic world government.

The message of the prophet, however, calls me to a higher perspective far away from the feelings of despair that lurk nearby.

The Lord Sees

The Lord saw all the evil in Judah during the time of Habakkuk; He sees everything today.

His response to the wickedness of Judah was already on the way, even before the prophet voiced his complaint (1:5-11). God was raising up the Babylonians who in about twenty years from the time of Habakkuk would begin their conquest of Jerusalem.

The Lord sees and just as in day of Habakkuk, we can be sure God will respond in a similar way to the wickedness around us unless we repent as a nation.

It’s so easy to think the Lord does not see the vile things done today in our abortion clinics or the lewd display of evil around us. We think He would surely have done something by now if He truly saw the violence and injustice that daily surround us. How could He possibly let this continue so long?

The Lord sees and just as in day of Habakkuk, we can be sure God will respond in a similar way to the wickedness around us unless we repent as a nation.

In Ecclesiastes 8:12-13 we find this warning, “Though a sinner does evil a hundred times and prolongs his life, yet I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before him. But it will not be well with the wicked, neither will he prolong his days like a shadow, because he does not fear before God.”

Far too often we mistake God’s patience for His lack of interest or unwillingness to deal with sin. As Solomon points out, such a perspective ends in tragedy for those who believe the Lord does not see or care about their wicked lifestyle.

It’s a Matter of Faith

Habakkuk convicts me of my unbelief. Yes, I know all the warnings of Scripture concerning His judgment of nations and of wickedness, but at times my thoughts do not reflect a belief He will actually judge evil or punish the wicked in this life.

Habakkuk begins his book questioning God’s absence and ends with an amazing statement of faith despite the lack of the Lord’s blessing.

The prophet Habakkuk provides us with two amazing statements regarding faith.

The Apostle Paul later quoted his words in 2:4, “. . . but the righteous shall live by faith.” In midst of the calamity about to descend upon Judah, the Lord says that those who know Him will “live by faith!”

As the book ends, we see the prophet proclaiming that regardless of any calamity he might see, he would still “rejoice in the Lord” (see 3:17-18). Habakkuk starts out questioning God’s absence and ends with an amazing statement of faith despite the lack of the Lord’s blessing.

The message of Habakkuk assures us God will not let evil continue unchecked. At just the right time, the Lord will show up and deal with any society that rejects Him and openly flaunts its rebellion toward Him.

We see this clearly in Psalm 37. The Lord not only sees the evil about us, but laughs at the wicked because He knows what’s ahead for them. I know this message is true, but do I live by faith believing God will someday soon intervene in our world?

The test of faith often comes as a result of God’s patience; He often waits a very long time so people have as much opportunity as possible to repent and avoid His wrath.

It’s a Matter of Waiting

As the Lord responded to Habakkuk regarding how he would deal with the Babylonians for their sins, He said this in 2:3, “For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.”

We know Jesus is returning soon. We recognize all the signs for the beginning of the Great Tribulation on the earth. And yet . . . we wait.

There’s that pesky word “wait.” Is this not where our faith so often falters?

We know Jesus is returning soon. We recognize all the signs for the beginning of the Great Tribulation on the earth. And yet . . . we wait.

We see horrific violence in the world and daily hear “rumors of war” like no other time in the history of humanity. Every week I read a story about how World War III is about to start and I wonder how much longer the Lord can delay His appearing to take away His church. And yet . . . we wait!

I remember a particular thunderstorm from my grade school years in Rockford, Illinois. In the midst of the wind and rain, everything grew perfectly calm for several seconds. Then suddenly, a huge bolt of lightning and loud crashing thunder interrupted the tranquil moment. Although the lightning struck harmlessly on our property, it set our neighbor’s home on fire.

I sense we are in the calm before the storm. Despite all the threats of violence and rumors of war throughout the world, our nation seems eerily peaceful on the surface.

I Thessalonians 5:3 speaks of a time when “people are saying, ‘There is peace and security’” ahead of the “sudden destruction” that will mark the beginning of the day of the Lord or the Great Tribulation.

The leaders of the world today often proclaim “peace and security” not realizing they are fulfilling prophecy. I believe the “sudden destruction” of 1 Thessalonians looms over the world at this very moment.

How long will this last? We cannot know. God is patiently waiting for as many as possible to repent and find eternal life in Him. However, I believe the rapture and subsequent Great Tribulation are rapidly approaching.  How much longer will the Lord wait?

Yes, I need the reminders from Habakkuk this morning as I recover from my angst of the past couple days when everything seemed so murky.

Habakkuk reminds me of God’s sovereignty; nothing escapes His notice and or diverts Him from His purposes. His Word will not fail!

The Lord will not let evil go unchecked. At precisely the right time the Lord will show up, much, much to the dismay of those who now reject the Lord and so openly flaunt their rebellion toward Him.

Will Any Believers Be Left Behind?

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I was terrified! Had they left without me?

As I frantically searched for my mom and dad, that question kept popping into my mind. Maybe they thought I was with my older sister. Maybe each thought I was with the other. Where were they? I had just looked away for a moment and now they were gone!

Not only was I two thousand miles from home, I was alone in Chinatown of all places. We were visiting my sister who lived in southern California and had spent the day sightseeing before ending up in Chinatown for supper and to do some shopping.

After what seemed to be a very long time, although it was perhaps only a minute or two at the most, I finally located my mom and rushed to her side.

Somehow, in all my panic, I knew my parents would never leave their second-grader behind in such a strange place.

And yet, I am hearing of more and more Christians who believe the Lord could possibly leave them behind when He comes for His church. Theologians refer to this as the partial rapture theory, which teaches that only those who are watching for the Lord’s return or are ready for it will go to heaven when He comes for His church.

Will Jesus leave any believer behind when He comes for His church? No, He will no more leave any of us behind than a loving parent would leave his or her child behind in a store or anywhere else.

Let me explain why I am so sure of this.

An Unbroken Link

In Romans 8:30 the apostle Paul assures us that all who are justified will be glorified. This is an unbroken link. As believers, our glorification is just as certain as our justification.

All those in Christ will be glorified. Why would Jesus delay this for some while completing it for others? That does not make any sense. Scripture nowhere supports such a thought.

In other words, since God justified us when we were His enemies, how much more shall we be delivered from the coming wrath, including that of the tribulation, now that we are His beloved children?

Furthermore, while we were in the position of being enemies of the God, He saved us by grace and bestowed on us the very righteousness of Jesus (Rom. 5:8; Eph. 2:5-6, 2 Cor. 5:21). As Paul says in Romans 5:9, “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”

In other words, since God justified us when we were His enemies, how much more shall we be delivered from the coming wrath, including that of the tribulation, now that we are His beloved children?

We receive eternal life totally by grace through faith. Why would the completion of our faith be based on merit or work? God’s grace leaves no room for boasting. Are some believers now to have a reason to boast because they were included in the rapture?

Absolutely not! Our salvation from beginning to end is all by God’s grace.

No Such Distinction

Scripture passages dealing extensively with the rapture make no distinction between believers who will be raptured and those who will not. 1 Thessalonians 4:16 says “the dead in Christ will rise first;” They will all be raised to meet the Lord in the air. After which Paul says, “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. . . .”

Paul earlier in verse 14 said this, “God will bring with him those who have fall asleep” indicating those who have died in Christ. Regardless of our maturity level at the time of death, we will all go to be with Jesus and then return with Him at the rapture to be joined with our bodies.

My question is this: If there is no distinction for believers who are now with Christ regarding their part in the rapture, why would there be such a difference for living believers? Why would living believers be held to a different standard in order to be included in the rapture?

Would not this mean it is safer to be dead when Jesus returns? How crazy is that!?

Paul emphasizes that we will “all be changed;” we will all go to meet Jesus when He appears. We are all saints regardless of our maturity or anticipation of the Lord’s return for us.

In writing to perhaps the most worldly and divided church of all the early New Testament churches, the apostle makes it clear that at Jesus’ return “we shall all be changed” (1 Cor. 15:51). If he was ever going to make such a distinction to indicate a partial rapture, here is where he would have done so when addressing the subject for the church at Corinth.

Instead, Paul emphasizes that we will “all be changed;” we will all go to meet Jesus when He appears. We are all saints regardless of our maturity or anticipation of the Lord’s return for us.

Assumption of Eagerness

The New Testament writers assumed that all believers eagerly anticipated the return of Jesus for His church. This became a term of identification for early Christians. The result of turning to the Gospel from idols meant that the Thessalonian believers naturally waited for Jesus’ return (1 Thess. 1:9-10). Paul characterized believers in this way in several passages throughout the New Testament in places such as Philippians 3:20 and Titus 2:11-13.

When the writer of Hebrews says in 9:28 that Christ “will appear a second time . . . to save those who are eagerly waiting for him,” he is referring to all believers in the same way Paul does in many of his texts.

The apostles did not envision followers of Christ who were not eagerly awaiting His return for them.

 Confusion of Rewards Versus Readiness

Some also use 1 John 2:28 to support their assertion that some believers will be left behind. Here John says, “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.” This verse speaks to the need to be ready for Jesus’ return; it says nothing of anyone being left behind.

I believe this verse actually confirms that all believers will be taken in the rapture. How is it possible for someone to feel shame in Jesus’ presence if they are not with Him? Saints who are not walking with the Lord when He returns will experience shame, but they will not be left behind.

2 Timothy 4:8 indicates that those who love Jesus’ “appearing” will receive a reward referred to as a “crown of righteousness.” Those who eagerly await Jesus’ return and thereby walk closely with Him will be rewarded. This does not exclude others from the rapture.

What is the standard?

If some believers are to be left behind at the rapture, how is that to be determined?

Is it based on eagerly watching for Jesus appearing? For me, that often changes several times a day. There are times when I am conscious of awaiting His return and other times when my mind is preoccupied with other things. How can this be the basis for who goes or who is left behind?

Others say that maturity in Christ is the standard with the tribulation used by God to purify fleshly believers. Again, what is the standard for this? What passage supports such a works-based approach to our deliverance from the tribulation?

By placing the emphasis on our behavior rather than God’s grace, the partial rapture theory actually undermines our anticipation of Jesus’ appearing. How do we eagerly look forward to the rapture if our focus is totally on our readiness for it?

Our place in the rapture is solely determined by God’s love for us as His dear children. Nothing more; nothing less!

In 1 John 3:1-2 John says, “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. . . . Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”

Our place in the rapture is solely determined by God’s love for us as His dear children. Nothing more; nothing less!

The key question regarding readiness is: Do you know Jesus as your Savior? Have you called out to Him for the forgiveness of your sins and eternal life?

I John 5:12 says, “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” If you have not put your trust in Jesus, please do so before it is too late. He is coming soon!