NOW IS THE TIME
Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Thompson. All rights reserved.
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
A five-story mansion, a backyard filled with diamonds, a harp, golden slippers, singing, dancing, no responsibilities, novelties of all sorts — this is the carnal man’s idea of Heaven. Jesus’ idea of Heaven is to be with you. Is your idea of Heaven to be with Jesus?
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:3)
Christ went to the cross, and then brought His blood into the Presence of the Father to make an atonement for the sins of the world. In so doing, He prepared a place for us in Himself in the Father. Christ has promised to come back and take us to Himself. He is not referring here to His coming to the world, but to His coming to His followers in advance of His coming to the world, so they can be with Him when He appears to the world.
“Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” (John 14:21)
My understanding is that this appearing of the Lord will occur in advance of His worldwide coming, to prepare His saints for that coming.
After the Jewish feast of Pentecost comes the spiritual fulfillment of the Blowing of Trumpets. This is the day the Jews celebrate as New Year’s Day. The Lord comes to us to announce His Kingdom, to declare war on His enemies in us, to prepare us for His worldwide coming, to announce the beginning of the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, during which we confess our sins and turn away from them.
The spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement has commenced and will continue until the last judgment and the coming down through the new sky of the new Jerusalem to reside forever on the new earth.
Another description of the coming of the Lord to His disciples before His worldwide coming is presented in the following passage:
So Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:28)
The above obviously is not the Lord’s coming to the world, but to His disciples to bring salvation to them. The salvation consists of the spiritual fulfillment of the Jewish Day of Atonement, that is, the confessing and renouncing of sin as the Spirit points them out to us and helps us to put them to death.
After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (I Thessalonians 4:17)
Notice that we will be with Jesus forever. The prevailing belief is that this is a “rapture” into Heaven of all who make a profession of belief in Christ. It hardly is that. It is the catching up of victorious saints to meet Christ in the air, not in Heaven. Because it states we will be with the Lord forever, it is referring to a select group, as defined in the following verse:
They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings — and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers. (Revelation 17:14)
The ones who will be with the Lord forever were called, then chosen, then proven faithful. No one else will be caught up to meet the Lord when He comes.
After they are caught up, the wrath of God will fall on the world. The same day Lot went out of Sodom, the wrath of God fell.
The ones who are raised from the dead and then caught up were first called. This means they felt the hand of God on them and received Christ.
After this, they stayed with Christ when He spoke of eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Those who were just looking for a blessing went home. Because they stayed with Him when everyone else left, Jesus referred to them as “chosen.”
To be raised from the dead, and then caught up to meet Christ in the air, it is not enough to be called and chosen; we also must be faithful. After we are chosen, we will be called upon to experience numerous crosses and prisons, as was true of Christ’s Apostles. This season of testing may last for many years. If we endure our testings without losing faith in Christ, we will pass to the ranks of the faithful.
So we see that not all who attend Christian churches will be raised from the dead, or transformed, and then caught up to meet Christ in the air. To be with Christ forever, we must be called, chosen, and faithful.
Then remains the question: what if we are left behind? We will be dealt with appropriately when the army, described in Joel chapter two marches through the earth, after the wrath of God is poured out on the earth, after the victory at Har-Magedon.
The idea of a called, chosen, faithful group of believers who are with the Lord forever is not always preached. We American believers are spiritually soft as a result. We suppose the coming of Christ to be a time of high hilarity for everyone who at one time has made a profession of Christ.
We ought to know better than this. The coming of Christ with His army of saints and His army of angels is for the purpose of establishing the Kingdom of God, the rule of God, on the earth. This rule is with the rod of iron. There shall be no compromise with God’s will. That day is past.
Therefore, the idea of the casual church-attenders of today returning with Christ to establish His Kingdom on the earth is not realistic. Neither is it scriptural. Those who are with Him have been called, set aside as chosen, and proven faithful throughout many severe and prolonged testings.
The idea of a special warlike group is set forth in the following passage:
Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. (Revelation 14:1)
Do you get from the verse above that this is a select group, not the average church-attender whose mind is on some sports event while the pastor is preaching? It is the Lamb, not the Lion, who is presented in this verse. This is because those who come with Christ to establish the Kingdom are meek and childlike in heart. It is Michael’s warrior angels who do the actual fighting. These believers have the Lamb’s name and His Father’s name written on their foreheads because they always do God’s will.
How many professing Christians of today always do God’s will? And yet they hope to be caught up to Heaven and be with the Lamb forever!
The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” (Psalm 110:1)
However, the main point is that the Lamb now is standing. Mount Zion represents the Christian Church, the Church of the Firstborn. The Lamb is standing because the Blowing of Trumpets is sounding, the beginning of the war against sin and rebellion that will conclude only when all of Christ’s enemies have been put under His (and our) feet.
The Day of Atonement, the cleansing from all sin and rebellion, begins with us, and particularly with those who are at the Altar of Incense, to speak in a figure, crying out at all times: “Not my will but Yours be done!”
The Lord Jesus informed us that the Christian people who are ready will go in with Him to the wedding banquet, and the rest shall be excluded.
But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. (Matthew 25:10)
One time, I told the Lord that I would be glad to share my oil with those who did not have any. The Lord responded, “You will have just enough for yourself!” We see from this parable that not all who profess Christ are going with the Lord into the wedding banquet.
Here is the point: It is today that the Christians who have been living a Spirit-filled life are going with Jesus to the wedding banquet. We are not interested in flying up to Heaven to play with new toys. We want to be with Him. He has come to us and is guiding us as we utterly renounce all worldliness, all of the lusts and passions of the flesh and spirit, and all self-will.
Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth — to every nation, tribe, language and people. (Revelation 14:6)
We have one objective, and that is to know Christ. We are basing our life upon the idea of iron righteousness, fiery holiness, and stern obedience to the Father. On this platform we are building eternal righteousness, love, joy, and peace. This is the eternal gospel, and we are learning to “fly in midair,” so to speak. We are living in the heavenlies with the Lord Jesus, and on the earth at the same time.
The return of the Lord will not catch us by surprise. We already are learning to live by His Life, thinking, speaking, and acting in agreement with His will for us.
But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. (I Thessalonians 5:4-6)
The Lord Jesus already has come to us because we are looking for Him. Our life on this earth is as nothing compared with the hope we have of being with the Lord Jesus. Walking side by side with Him will be no surprise to us, nothing strange at all, because we already are walking with Him. He has come to us as the rain, and we no longer are married to the earth. We are going with Him into the wedding banquet.
Why don’t you come along with us!
Jesus’ idea of Heaven is to be with you.
Is your idea of Heaven to be with Jesus?
(“Now Is the Time”, 3167-1, proofed 20211024)