I certainly think that I qualify for a rescue from God, but I am also certain that just about every other Christian also thinks that they qualify too. After all, that is what almost all of our modern pastors have taught us. We have this widely taught and much believed teaching of rescue and escape, popularized in the last 200 years, but it was unknown prior to that. According to that teaching, everybody who walks to the altar and says the sinners prayer qualifies. They are once saved, always saved and to be saved, according to this teaching, means that you qualify for rescue. They say that it doesn't matter what you do: that every single confessing Christian, and by that, I mean that they confessed it one time and said a prayer, qualifies for the same rescue. There is no stratification: no levels among believers. All receive the same rescue, gifts and rewards, from the most righteous to the most vile sinner, so long as you prayed the sinners prayer at one time of your life. You might not confess it just now, but if you did once, you qualify. But, is this really the case?
Now I am aware that various shades of this are taught out there in Christendom, but the great majority of people today hold on to some form of this hope of a rescue that will arrive before any trouble reaches them. Jesus will come for them before they skin their knee. They might believe that only their denominaton or pastor has it quite right, and they might filter in various rewards for tithing and offering, but they all have this hope. This has become, to them, the "blessed hope", but does it have anything to do with scripture? Ask anyone: you will find that the "rapture" equals "the "blessed hope". Has an event been invented out of thin air to provide a "false hope" and market it as a "blessed hope"? What will happen when that false hope evaporates? Has it evaporated enough in this era of Covid 19 and rapidly increasing anarchy for you to be open to biblical truth?
The bible teaches of one "coming" or "appearing" of Jesus Christ: not two or three or seven. The term "blessed hope" arises from Titus 2:13, which uses that nomenclature to describe an event that is referred to, in the Greek, as an "epiphaneia", otherwise known as a manifestation. Acts 1:11 says that "this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven." So, this refers to the one biblical physical coming of Jesus. This one scriptural "appearing" of Jesus refers to that coming when He arrives "after the tribulation of those days" (Matt 24:29) to split the Mount of Olives in two (Zech 14:4), to deal with all the wicked nations (Zech 14:3). He will bring "thousands and thousands of His holy ones" with Him (Jude 1:14-15). This coming or appearing is called "the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ" (2 Tim 1:10) Note that it is "THE appearing", not "AN appearing": it is singular, not plural. We know that when this one "coming" appears, it will be physical, not some symbolic or metaphorical coming, as we learn, from scripture, that "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen"(Rev 1:7).
Matthew 24 has the order of events of this physically manifested coming of Jesus Christ as follows:
Mat 24:27 For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Mat 24:28 For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. Mat 24:29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: Mat 24:30 And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Mat 24:31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
You will note from the scripture above that the gathering of the elect happens either at the end of all of these events or almost simultaneously with them. There is simply no non-violent way to move verse 31 to a position seven years preceding these other events in time.
Perhaps even more shocking to current day Christians is that this "one appearing" of Jesus appears to occur very near in time to the general resurrection of the dead, which comes after the thousand year millenial reign of Christ. Witness Luk 21:27 " "And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Luk 21:28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. "
Peter is very clear that the coming of the Lord that the apostles spoke of was very close in time to the "day of the Lord". This "the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. "(2 Peter 3:10) He also revealed that this "coming of God is associated with the "heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. "(2 Peter 3:12-13) This new heaven and new earth, according to Revelation 21:1, comes after the first earth has passed away.
Those proponents of the secret coming/rapture theory argue that it is a "secret" coming that scripture did not tell us about. What is the scriptural support? They reference Daniel 9, which they mangle and misinterpret when they think it refers to a great tribulation period of three and a half years, which marks the last half of Daniel's last period of "seven", when Daniel is referring to an actual 1,260 year period of Roman Catholic Papal domination of the nations. They posit a Jewish wedding as evidence, but the order of a Jewish wedding is nowhere found as scriptural evidence. There is not really very much else definite for them to hang this "secret coming" theory on. There is the promise presented to those who overcome that they "lived, ruled and reigned with Christ a thousand years."(Rev 20:4,6), and that they shall "sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne."(Rev 3:21) but that does not say this living and reigning with Christ occurs on Earth.
Scripture does speak repeatedly about rescue for the righteous. Much of this is presented in Old Testament terms, where there is a righteousness, imputed by faith, much as Abraham was said to be righteous and we regard him as a father of faith. But that Old Testament type of righteousness was never rewarded with rescue without some evidence...some works that gave physical proof that doing what was right was a common thing in the life of the believer in God. That type of thinking came forward into the New Testament in the book of James, rather out of favor in our day, but nevertheless part of the sixty six books we call the bible. In James,
"Jas 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Jas 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Jas 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. Jas 2:20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Jas 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Jas 2:22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? Jas 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Jas 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Jas 2:25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? Jas 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. "
Elsewhere in scripture, God lifted up the names of five righteous, holy men. These men each received some type of rescue, but not of a type that snatched them up off of the earth. These five men were rescued either through receipt of instructions from God that they obeyed or though angelic intervention that delivered them back to safety here on the earth.
Noah, Daniel and Job are given special mention in Ezekiel 14:14 as men who evidently had great favor with God. Those men obtained much of what they asked God to do for them. Moses and Samuel were mentioned in Jeremiah 15:1 as men who stood before God and who, at times, had great influence with God. Jesus also mentioned Lot as one whose life would relate to His coming.
Jesus even refers to Noah when He says that Luk 17:26 "as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. Luk 17:27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. "
We know that Noah received instructions to build an ark. Through his obedience to follow that instructions, eight souls were saved from the deluge. Peter informs us that Noah was also a "preacher of righteousness"(2 Peter 2:5) They survived the flood to once again place their feet upon solid ground almost one year later. They were not snatched away but relocated to safety. Noah qualified for rescue. Furthermore, Noah had made preparation for this situation and suffered no apparent lack for food, clothing or shelter. His obedience took care of all his needs.
Daniel was rescued from a lion's den, evidently by deliverance of angels. He was restored, without suffering any damage to his body, to this present earth, before his astounded king. He was not snatched away from earth but rather miraculously preserved in it. Daniel qualified for rescue.
Job suffered long and hard but was restored double in the later part of his life. Job qualified for rescue.
Moses led the rescue of the entire Jewish nation out of bondage in Egypt. Moses and the nation were not snatched away, but relocated by God to a promised land, here on the earth. Moses qualified for rescue.
We are not informed of any mortal danger that Samuel ever endured, but we are assured that his prayers had much weight with God. Had he ever needed rescue, he would have qualified.
Finally, Peter also mentions Lot, whom he calls a "righteous man"(2 Peter 2:8). Lot qualified for rescue and received it by angelic deliverance, to another place on the earth. He was not snatched away, but relocated. He had made no preparation for his journey, only bringing with him the alcohol with which he became drunk.
Jesus had said that our particular need for rescue would in some way parallel that experienced by Noah and Lot. We are going to need to make some preparations in order to escape some aspect of this coming "day of the Lord" as Noah experienced an actual, world wide flood. So perhaps, if we can find such favor with God that He will actually speak to us and tell us how to avoid certain calamities, we can survive them, or maybe even thrive as Noah did. Jesus also said that His "day of the Lord" would be like the days of Lot. We do not find that Lot had long standing instructions from God about what to do in a time of trouble, but Lot was reportedly "vexed", according to Peter, at what he saw in Sodom. Lot, and his family, were also in danger from men as Lot harbored his three visitors. Perhaps we, as believers, will also be in increasing danger from the persecution of men as this day approaches. We may also need angelic help to "bar the door" and "blind our enemies" in such cases. Finally, we may need to suddenly relocate to a place the angels will lead us to. Jesus said that, in both the case of Noah's day and Lot's day, the general public carried on with life, unaware that the end of all normal life was close at hand. The ungodly and the religious who did not qualify for escape were marrying and giving in marriage as life carried on, until the end suddenly came, as it did upon Noah's area when he boarded the ark, and upon Sodom, when Lot was safely clear.
This is an important fact to consider: we know that religion was on the Earth from the time of Adam. We hear of worship unto God by Abel. We hear of walking with God as done by Enoch in the seventh generation. So, there was religion on the Earth. The only religion God regarded as qualifying for rescue in the tenth generation was that displayed by Noah. Likewise, do we really think that Lot was the only religious man in Sodom? Yet, the only one who qualified for rescue was Lot.
Your religious confessions alone are not going to qualify you for rescue. Jesus said it this way:
Luk 21:34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. Luk 21:35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Luk 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
Will you be found worthy to escape...worthy of rescue? Only God knows. You will have to walk closely enough with Him to hear Him in order to find out the answer to that question.
Stephen L. Bening
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