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The Daily Word of Righteousness
Suffering and Rulership, continued
But now, this is what the LORD says—he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." (Isaiah 43:1,2—NIV)
There are many promises in the Bible, such as the above, directed toward those whom God brings through suffering.
Notice that God does not promise to prevent our passing through the waters, the rivers, or the fire, but to keep us from drowning or being burnt up.
It is so important for us to understand the Divine pattern. God does not remove us from the scene of danger but protects us in the midst of it.
Here is the problem of the teaching of the "pre-tribulation rapture." The "rapture" is a doctrine of removal rather than of victory throughout the circumstances.
Think of Noah and his family riding safely on the waters of judgment; of Israel in the land of Goshen protected from the plagues; of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the furnace; of Daniel in the lions' den. There may be an instance in the Scriptures where God carried people away from danger so they wouldn't be harmed, but I can't think of any. Can you?
The promise is a thousand shall fall at our side and ten thousand at our right hand, not that we will not be present during times of catastrophe. Our protection is not Heaven but the wings of the almighty God.
John records the Lord saying, "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one." The Lord Jesus does not pray that God will remove us from the scene of trouble but that He will protect us from Satan and wicked people so they cannot harm us spiritually.
Someone traced to a Gnostic writing the idea that we would be removed from trouble. No doubt Gnosticism is the source of the "removal doctrine" because several other prominent errors in today's Evangelical teachings have been found to be Gnostic. For example, the Gnostic is intent on making Heaven his home and stresses leaving our evil flesh and residing in the spirit realm. The Christian should be intent on gaining the resurrection from the dead and living in immortality on the earth. We have been heavily infiltrated with Gnosticism without our realizing it.
If we view the Christian salvation as going to Heaven to lay around doing nothing, and the means of getting there as God's mercy and grace, then we are going to see no purpose in suffering, in character transformation, in learning to stand in the evil day. Why shouldn't God remove us from the earth before we are called on to suffer if nothing is to be gained by painfully carrying our cross behind Christ?
The concept that Christians will never be called on to suffer is of course ridiculous. Such unscriptural doctrine is a product of the easy life of Christians in America.
To be continued.