(September 11, 2000)

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This morning, the Holy Spirit spoke to my spirit the following scripture: "Be ye therefore ready, for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not." This is as it reads in Luke 12:40 of the authorized, or King James Version. The words the Lord actually spoke to me were in the vernacular of the NIV- "The Son of man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."

Many of us weaned our spiritual teeth on imminency. We were taught to believe in a pre-tribulation rapture. We were taught that his rapture could happen at any time and that nothing more needed to be fulfilled before this event occurred in order to keep harmony with the scripture. Over the years, while living through the 88 reasons why the rapture will happen in 1988, and other prophesied date setting attempts for the rapture, we have grown skeptical of this view. Fewer and fewer people, it seems, still hold to what was once the dominant view about the return of our Lord. Indeed, today, is there a dominant view? For me, the closest to my opinion on the matter was logically presented by Marvin Rosenthal in his book, "Pre Wrath rapture of the Christian Church." But even in this work, I diverge from Marvin in many areas. Nevertheless, many whom I now call friends have changed their opinion on this matter to a belief in a rapture that does not come so early as to remove the Christian from all the troubles described in the Book of Revelation.

There may be a reader or two who wonders, "what is this rapture"? Veteran Christians, please bear with me. We take our view of a rapture, or a catching away of the church, primarily from 1 Thessalonians 4:17. We believe there will be a day when our Lord returns for his church, and on that day, believers in Christ will rise up to meet our Lord in the air. They will be changed to immortal beings in the twinkling of an eye. We believe this is the first resurrection. Christians have differing opinions regarding just when this event will take place. Now, back to our discussion of immency.

Could it be that in leaving the pre-tribulation rapture view behind, we have also forgotten about the doctrine of imminency? Imminency is very biblical. You see, for those living in the world who do not believe in Christ and for those who believe in Christ but live like people of the world, the return of our Lord will be imminent and a shocking surprise. They will have absolutely no prior warning that they can hear or see. Scripture teaches that business and romance will continue unabated until the day of our Lord's coming. Then, sudden destruction will come as they are living in apparent peace and safety. Indeed, antichrist, it is said by Daniel, destroys wonderfully through peace and destroys people in their prosperity.

Are you concentrating today on what you will eat and drink, or is there time in your busy schedule to seek the Lord? Are you obsessed with sex...yes even you Christians who are married? Do you take a night or two every week to read and discuss the scripture with your spouse? Are you so busy with work and parenting that you have taken no time to talk to your Lord today? If so, you have begun to walk away from the Lord. You are growing spiritually fat! When is the last time you fasted and prayed for a day? A week? Can you remember when it was? Are you attending the scheduled services at your church, or do you miss one every week? Do you attend the prayer meeting of your church? Hosea warned God's people that the Lord looks on his people and exclaims, "my people are bent toward backsliding".

It is the year 2000. Many have caught their collective breath: glad that Y2K did not plunge us into a repeat of the stone age. Perhaps also, a view has crept into our thinking: that our Lord will not return soon. And so, some of us, and I'm included in us, have slacked off. At first, it is just a little bit of resting, of taking it easy, of catching our breath. We don't rise early to seek the Lord anymore....we sleep. We don't fast anymore...we eat. We are in danger of walking into darkness. We need spiritual exercise. We need the Holy Spirit to put us on a weight training regimen to get our spirit man into shape.

Speak this prayer out Loud:
Oh Lord Jesus, please deliver to all who read these words a desire to repent from lazy Christian walking and backsliding. Fill us Lord with hearts that will follow hard after you. Restore to us our first love. Pour the anointing oil for fasting and prayer upon our heads and hands. Awaken within us a love for and a desire to read your word. Help us Lord Jesus, for we have become spiritual couch potatos, fat and lazy, almost good for nothing. If we continue, Lord Jesus, in this way of loose walking and worldly living before you, we will be caught unawares by your coming and we will be ashamed to see you on that day. Lord, help us to get ready and to stay ready for your coming. Inspire us Lord, Fill us with your spirit Lord, Deliver us Lord Jesus, in and according to the power of your holy name!

And so the Lord will come suddenly to his temple. He is coming soon.

Stephen L. Bening

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