The Rapture The Greatest Triumph of the Church
The true church of Jesus Christ has suffered more assaults, more attacks, more heart-rending confusion, splits, and compromises than one can comprehend. Yet, the church is still the church and His people are still rejoicing. The true church cannot fail because the question is settled and God’s people have made their choice. Jesus Himself settled this question when He said, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) The visible church has miserably failed but the invisible church is still triumphant and waiting for her greatest triumph of the ages. The Rapture is our crowning moment, the greatest triumph of His saints.
We must never forget that we enter into His coming glory by great tribulation. The First Testament saints were champions of suffering and privation. Let Apostle Paul tell you of their trials. “And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthah; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.” (Hebrews 11:32-38) “Of whom the world was not worthy” sets these saints of old apart like sparkling jewels and that is exactly what the Prophet Malachi called them. “And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.” (Malachi 3:17)
The New Testament saints have never been treated any different than the First Testament saints. The only difference is in the people we call saints. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (II Timothy 3:12) Apostle Paul described the saints of the early church. “We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death worketh in us, but life in you.” (II Corinthians 4:8-12)
It is our joy to suffer for His name. We are His jewels and all our troubles, when rightly suffered, are nothing but His preparation for our coming glory. The Apostle Paul cried forth with the desire to share, “the fellowship of His sufferings.” (Philippians 3:10) Jesus said, “Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.” (St. Luke 6:22-23) Let’s rejoice in the bitter trials that come in our path and use them to step up higher. The Rapture is the triumph of every Biblical virtue.
The Rapture: Triumph of Grace
First of all, the Rapture is the Triumph of Grace. The grace of God is our one and only approach to everything that redemption has provided. We dare not claim one promise by merits of flesh and blood. No man can earn the salvation of God and no flesh at its best can enter into His presence unless it is hid in the regalia of blood redemption. Man is wholly incapable of saving himself. Every experience of man in His need of God must proclaim, “But God.” And every man in his darkest condition of sin has but to declare, “But God.” Grace is the absolute “but God” in all of human needs.
Holy Revelation has declared, “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:4-10) This is the final word to every idea of man that would dare exclude one living soul from the possibility of grace. Grace cannot be grace if one person is left at God’s altar without hope. If a pleading soul that cast all trust upon Him is turned away, grace has been corrupted.
We are saved from the dark seven years of the judgment of the antichrist, the false prophet, and the false god, Lucifer, by grace. No man can claim grace that places God’s chosen saints in the middle of the “Great Tribulation.” There is no grace in judging the blood washed saints with the bloodthirsty hordes of demon spirits and blaspheming Christ rejecters. There is no grace in allowing the devil to devour the Holy Saints of the church with the godless throng of heathens. The overcomers of the world and sin will be removed by grace because grace has promised, “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.” (Revelation 3:10)
The “Great Tribulation” is God’s final word to a world that has allowed Satan to become its god. It is impossible for grace to be grace and leave the righteous who have already by grace escaped sins’ consequences to now be left under its destructive powers.
The Rapture is the triumph of grace for every soul that has trusted only in its merits. We were saved by grace, sanctified by grace, preserved by grace, added to His church by grace and finally will be “caught up” by grace. The thrones beneath His “Rainbow-Framed Throne” will all be the same height and reflect the same glory. Our rewards will be different but all will be present because of grace.
The Rapture: The Triumph of Patience
It’s amazing to listen to the cheap theology of our apostate generation. Cheap grace that covers lacy religion is the order of this last generation. Grace has become an excuse to live self-centered lives and yet claim discipleship with Christ. The Bible makes no such room for careless living. Grace does not cover for sin but breaks the power of sin. Patience is ceaseless surrender in the face of many difficulties to that power of grace at work in the believer’s heart. The rapture of each of us to His presence will be the triumph of patience.
Listen to the Apostle of grace as he instructs us to patience. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.” (Hebrews 12:1-4) The world will never be fair to the saints. There is no unity between us and a world under the sway of sin. We are the ones that must show them the pure life and never expect them to understand the conflict until they are converted. We win others to Christ by patience.
“Let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” It is a race, a contest and an arena of spiritual sport. There is a world full of dark spirits, wickedness in high places, and we are the opponents to be defeated. Day by day we must see ourselves in this race and learn to deal with each conflict patiently.
The other person may treat you wrongly, but our Father says, “Love your enemies.” They may even hate you, but remember they hated Him first. Our struggle is never to be in a personal battle with individuals. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” (Ephesians 6:12-18) This is a struggle to the end. There is no coasting if you would win the prize. “In your patience, possess ye your soul.” (Luke 21:19) The triumph of patience is the rapture of His saints.
The Rapture: Triumph of Holiness
Jesus plainly said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Matthew 5:8)You will never find one scripture in the Holy Bible that even suggests that those living in sin will inherit the eternal kingdom. The opposite is always declared without compromise. The glory of the rapture will be the triumph of Holiness. Pure, Godly, separated saints will be caught up to meet Jesus in the air. The true church from Pentecost until this hour has been badgered over Holiness above every other thought. Theology is important but it never causes the attack that Holiness does. People will divide over denominations, ideas of church government, and other ecclesiastical matters but nothing causes more disputes than right and wrong. What is the lifestyle acceptable to be called a Bible Christian is the ultimate place for church war.
Sometimes the problem is mainly the argument over man-made standards. The church has often been deeply divided over Holiness issues that are not Holiness at all. It would be impossible to name or describe all the man-made standards imposed on believers. Good people with impure spirits have developed man-made ideas about right and wrong that reflect nothing but self-righteousness. There are a lot of Scriptures that can be twisted to support many different man-made convictions. They always do more harm than good.
Bible Holiness is not only right but also the only way into the Kingdom. The Gospel said, “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14) His church is a Holiness church. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.
Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (I Peter 2:9-12) Search the history of every great awakening—Waldensians, Anabaptists, Huguenots, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, or PentecostalsÂ—in every case Holiness, separation from the world, was the character and culture. There is no such idea in Scripture of discipleship without Holiness.
I am not talking about man-made standards but a Biblical culture. Every human individual was created in the image of God. Our entire person was created in the Father’s likeness. As He is triune, in three persons, we are triune in spirit, soul, and body. There are three that bear witness in Heaven—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—three that bear witness on earth—blood, water, and the spirit—and there is a three-fold witness in every human person. We were created “a little lower than the angels, but crowned with glory.” (Psalm 8:5) Because of our creation in the image of God, the ultimate sin is to mar and defile that image which is ourselves.
Every commandment and restriction in Holy Scripture is based on our likeness to God. Sin is anything that reduces my life from the image of my Father. The commandments, both in the First and New Testaments are never given to restrict our liberties or to place bondage on our lives. They are given to protect His likeness in men, to keep us in His image and in His glory. That’s the culture of Holiness that will fill heaven and the New Earth and no one will inherit the Heavenly future without the Heavenly culture and lifestyle. The Bible teaches this culture and clearly makes it the only acceptable life in His family.
The Rapture will be the final triumph of Holiness over sin and worldly living.
The Rapture: Triumph of the Holy Ghost
John the beloved cried forth, “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (I John 4:4) Every believer was regenerated by the active presence of the Holy Spirit in his or her life. No individual can dare claim to be His disciple that does not have the witness of the spirit in his or her heart. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Romans 8:9) We were sealed by the Spirit at our new birth.“ Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” (II Corinthians 1:22) The Holy Spirit is the guarantee of our future inheritance in Christ. “Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.” (II Corinthians 5:5)
The New Testament is filled with the supernatural work of the Holy Ghost in the believer’s life. He convicts, converts, sanctifies, seals, guarantees, keeps, guides, teaches, anoints, and baptizes us in Himself and by Himself all for the glory of Jesus Christ. Any profession of faith that knows nothing but the written word without the Spirit’s activity is like a whited sepluchre. Apostle Paul said, “Who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.” (II Corinthians 3:6) Jesus could not have made it plainer to the unconverted prostitute at the well of Samaria. “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (St. John 4:23-24)
Worship is impossible without the divine activity of the Spirit of Christ. Our depraved nature has no capacity of praise and adoration that enters into the presence of God without the inspiration that the Spirit provides. Jesus said, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” (St. John 6:63) Modern religion has become an empty shell of theology, without reality. The only satisfaction is in the intellectual pursuit. Calvinism is a leading proponent of cessation. This idea declares that the Spirit’s activity in any knowable fashion ended with the finish of the canon of Scripture. We today are left with Genesis to Revelation and no spiritual voice beyond God’s finished Revelation. They are right that nothing can be added to the Word of God; but they are not right that there is no longer God’s voice in the believer’s life.
The Spirit of God and His literal spiritual activity keep us in our heart. Peter declared “Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (I Peter 1:5) Pity the person that has no witness of the Spirit. Our spirit is a whisper of the Spirit of God and our spirit is joined to His Spirit in a way just as real as the telephone link between two locations. When the Rapture occurs it will be the triumph of the Spirit of God indwelling, empowering, and finally removing to the Father’s presence the espoused Bride of His Son.
The Rapture: Triumph of the Lord Jesus Christ
Jesus stated without question or possibility of failure, “Upon this Rock, I will build my church.” (St. Matthew 16:18) His church that is fixed on Himself cannot fail. The church’s failure is always the result of taking our eyes off of Him. “The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe.” (Proverbs 18:10) The Father has given His only begotten Son complete preeminence in the church. He is the Lord of the church and the church of which He is Lord cannot fail.
He did not just act as the Founder and the Beginning; He is also the Ending. The finished work is finished. Paul wrote in admonition to the Church, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) The Book of Revelation is the testimony of the end. It is impossible to perceive failure for the church. The ending is written in the will of Testament just like the beginning. His blood has sealed the final story of His church. The Rapture is His triumph in His church. It is the ultimate moment of victory for the chosen saints of the entire church history, Old Testament and New Testament. No prophet or apostle has ever written about the church negatively. There are no problems with His church. People in His church may have problems but the church is triumphant now and forever because the head of the church has won the battle.
The Rapture is the Grande Finale of His called and chosen Bride in waiting. The Rapture is the greatest triumph of the church of all ages. It is not just the salvation of the church from sin; it is the salvation of the church from Satan’s reach. The church’s badgering by all her enemies will be concluded for eternity. She will have been promoted to His presence and exalted to be His Elders, His Army, His Kings, Priests, and His beloved Bride.
The Rapture is when the consummation of all things begins that will end in a four-square city created for the pleasure of His church to be exalted to be His chosen companion for eternity. Try to destroy the pre-tribulation rapture if you please, but remember you are touching the Bride of the crucified Bridegroom. Not even the “gates of hell” can hinder that church of Jesus Christ from her final victory. Hallelujah!