WHAT WE ARE SHALL DETERMINE OUR RESURRECTION
Copyright © 2015 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.
Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever. (Daniel 12:2,3)
I imagine that most of us Christians understand the day will come when the dead are resurrected. It will happen whether or not we are prepared for it.
Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. (John 5:28,29)
I would not be surprised if future history looks back on the doctrine of the any-moment “rapture” as being the most destructive heresy ever to be introduced into Christian thinking. Why do I make such a statement? It is because millions of believers are waiting for Jesus to come and deliver them from Antichrist and the Great Tribulation. Therefore their posture is one of waiting for removal to playland. It should be one of growing in Christ each day, gaining deliverance from worldliness, lusts of the flesh, and self-will, and growing in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. They are waiting for an event that is unscriptural and never will take place, instead of preparing themselves to join the army of the Lord; and to survive, and to help their loved ones to survive, throughout the American holocaust that is on the horizon.
There is no question in my mind that the present moral disaster in the United States is mainly due to the unscriptural doctrine of the any-moment removal of all who make a profession of belief in Christ to Paradise, independently of their maturity in Christ.
First Thessalonians chapter four is one of the main passages in support of the “Rapture” to Heaven of those who “accept Christ.” But in no manner can this passage support a removal of the believers to Paradise to escape Antichrist and the Great Tribulation. The passage was written to comfort believers with the hope that they would see their deceased loved ones when the Kingdom came to earth with the Lord Jesus.
But as for carrying the carnal believers to Paradise to escape trouble, look at what the Word says:
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)
Meet the Lord in the air, air, air, air, air, not Heaven or Paradise. Why in the air instead of in Heaven or Paradise? Because the Lord Jesus and the hundreds of thousands who have come with Him are preparing to descend and destroy the powers of darkness in the earth. Satan’s throne is in the air, from which he and his helpers destroy the earth.
In which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. (Ephesians 2:2)
It is God’s determination that His will be done in the earth as it is in Heaven. His will first must be done in Heaven. This is why the Lord Jesus comes down to the place of Satan’s rulership in the air, and then will bring God’s will down into the earth.
Thousands of saints and angels will accompany Christ who have spent untold years in Heaven. Now the Lord will call to those living on the earth at the time to meet Him in the air. In the air. Will we ever be rid of the false teaching that we are going to be caught up to Heaven when Jesus appears?
Jesus’ next appearing is the fulfillment of the promise of the coming of the Kingdom. Jesus, John the Baptist, and the Apostles preached that Kingdom. “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done in earth as in Heaven.” This is so clear, that anyone who uses First Thessalonians chapter four as a basis for teaching that Jesus is coming to bring us to Heaven to escape Antichrist and the Great Tribulation is without excuse.
The focus on the coming of the Kingdom of God probably is the resurrection from the dead. We Christians should be looking toward the Day of Resurrection, which clearly is scriptural, rather than an unscriptural “rapture.” The resurrection is a triumph of righteousness. The “rapture” is a fleeing of the believers from trouble. The any-moment “rapture” has no place in Christian teaching and should be removed immediately. It simply is not going to take place whether or not every Christian on earth or in Heaven believed it.
The resurrection should be our goal. When we are raised from the dead (not caught up into the air), our inner personality will be revealed clearly in our body. This is what we should be working on today, not fantasizing about suddenly being caught up to Paradise in our immature state. What would the rapturists think about suddenly being revealed for what they are as they are flying through the air, or when they land in Heaven?
Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. (Daniel 12:2,3)
The above agrees with the Word of Jesus:
Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned. (John 5:28,29)
Where would the “rapture” fit into the passage above? I expect when teachers of the rapture were asked this question, they would answer that the rapture is a special event that applies only to elect Gentiles, and the rest of the world would be controlled by John 5:28,29. Thus they would wander into such theologic confusion that an intelligent high school student could see that they were basing their arguments on assumptions and not on the written Word.
Would it be true that those of the “elect Gentiles” who had done evil would not be raptured into condemnation, or would grace cover their behavior, thus making the Word of Christ of no effect? There is a relevant passage in the Book of Second Corinthians. Paul speaks about how his sufferings were bringing forth resurrection life in him that was helping other believers.
For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. (II Corinthians 4:11)
Then Paul goes on to talk about the fact that his sufferings were achieving a great weight of glory. This glory would be revealed when Paul was clothed with his new body in the Day of Resurrection.
For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. (II Corinthians 5:4)
This is the nature of resurrection. It is not a catching up from the place of interment. It is a clothing with a house from Heaven, a house that keeps being improved every time we experience suffering and deliverance in Christ.
Now, compare this with the mythical rapture, and you can see how the rapture teaching has obliterated one of the principal concepts of the new covenant—that of the transforming of our inner nature. The transformation will be revealed when we are clothed with our house from Heaven that has been modified by our reponse to suffering. This is no fleeing from Antichrist and the Great Tribulation. It is the heart of the new covenant.
Can you imagine how the carnal believers of today would look if they received a body that revealed their inner nature? Their anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, and lying would be revealed clearly for everyone to see. This reminds us of Daniel, doesn’t it? “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.”
Do the teachers of the rapture inform their listeners that if they have not been transformed into godly behavior, when they receive their resurrection body, they may be viewed with shame and everlasting contempt? Thus we see that the teaching of lawless grace and the any moment rapture are tied together. Without the lawless grace teaching, the any moment rapture becomes dangerous to all Christians except those living in victory over worldliness, self-will, and the lusts of the flesh.
Have you ever wondered about the following verse? What does it mean to “reap destruction”?
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. (Galatians 6:7,8)
I have given some thought to this expression, and it is only recently that it has made some sense to me. Reaping eternal life seems clear enough. Although today we seem to be thinking of eternal life as something we receive in full when we say “I accept Christ.” I would say rather that eternal life is a gift we receive in steps as we sow to please the Spirit. I think the fullness of eternal life is attained to only after a lifetime of denying our flesh and obeying Christ. I believe Paul was indicating this when he spoke of attaining to the resurrection.
Our misunderstanding may arise from our conceiving of eternal life as living forever rather than what is: a kind of life, the Life of God and Christ.
Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3)
Thus eternal life is not primarily duration of life, but a kind of life, the life that proceeds from a close relationship with God and Christ. It actually is the kind of Life that fills the Godhead.
Eternal life is a gift, to be sure, when we have counted ourselves dead with Christ and alive with Christ. But it is like the gift of a piano. It will be an ornament in the front room until someone decides to exercise arduous hours of practice until Beethoven and Bach are heard in the house. Likewise, eternal life is a gift that proceeds from faith in God, but only as that faith is manifested during years of arduous discipleship.
But then there is “destruction.” What does that indicate? If we sow to please our flesh, from our flesh we will reap destruction. What kind of destruction? When will we reap destruction? How will destruction come from our flesh?
It reminds us of a vision that came from the Pietist movement in Germany. I read it long ago and never forgot it. A man, having died, was standing in the spirit world arguing with an angel concerning why he was not admitted to Heaven. Another man a distance from him also was speaking with an angel. Suddenly the man turned into a toad and hopped away. If this isn’t destruction, I don’t know what would be.
Perhaps all the goblins, trolls, elves that permeate literature are people who have suffered a destruction that proceeded from their flesh. Whenever Halloween approaches in America, weird creatures are all the rage. We dismiss them as fantasies. I am not certain this is the case. One time when I was in Iceland, I saw an elf. I asked the pastor about this. He responded that elves are common in Iceland.
In any case, the Bible advises us to remain filled with the Spirit of God so when the Day of Resurrection arrives, our mortal body will be transformed. In that day, we will not be some kind of evil creature that would terrify children. But I firmly believe that exactly that disgusting change will take place with some people who today represent themselves as Christians.
For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” (I Corinthians 15:54,54)
Victory in Christ rather than a miserable retreat in the flesh! Hallelujah!
(“What We Are Shall Determine Our Resurrection”, 4266-2, proofed 20210902)