Does John 14:1-4 Teach a Rapture?

rapturedDo not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 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.  You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:1-4

What is going on? Basically, Jesus is facing betrayal. He turns to His Disciples to comfort them and says; do not be afraid or troubled! Trust in God; trust in Me. He then gives them a picture of hope by showing them a glimpse of what Heaven will be like. In Heaven, there will be many rooms in My Father’s Home, one made up especially for each of you! I will prepare it personally and at the right time, I will come and get you and you will always be with Me. You will know all about it and how to get there.

In so doing Jesus uses the word, Take you, as the NIV and many translations state. So, this may seem like some kind of snatching. Or is it? However, look to the context.  The KJV uses, receive you unto myself.

So, does take you mean a rapture? No. This means that Jesus is our only way, the gate and stairway to Heaven; there is no other way to God except through Him. Remember context denotes meaning. This is about the resurrection of the dead leads to a new life, our life after death that Jesus is able to provide by His death and resurrection. This can also refer to the Second Coming or the new age of the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God. But, moreover, this is about Jesus as our Rescuer and Redeemer; He took on our human nature, but without our sinfulness, and remained pure to pay the debt for our sins. In the process, His human nature voluntarily became lower than the angels, but as Fully God, He is superior to them, in essence, power, purpose, and distinction (Rom. 1:4; Heb. 1:1-4; 2: 7, 14-15).

Jesus is preparing for us, those He chooses, an eternal home; Heaven. This is not just a residence; rather proof that God will completely and thoroughly accomplish and achieve His purpose throughout the universe. He will bring all things to fruition. He brings peace and a future to those in Him. Thus, God will achieve His purpose; we will inherit His wonders and blessings and we will have no ties to the old nature of sin and evil. Jesus is not just preparing a place for us in Heaven; He is preparing us in our journey of faith in the here and now too (Isa. 42:9; 48:6; 51:15-16; 65:17-25; 66:22; 1 Cor. 15:35-57; Rev. 7:9; 21:1-8)!

To further this point, look at another key word, Trust / believe in God.

This is a call to a personal relationship-unity with conviction with Christ, and it is a command to step up in faith, our response to the call of God to trust in Him through times of danger and fear. This is a depiction of a righteous person’s proper dependence upon Jesus as He is exemplified. He is our Sanctuary; He is the Eternal God on whom we can rely and not only give our life to, but also live our life for (2 Sam. 2:3; Isa. 8:17; 28:16; Psalm 118:22; Isa. 8:14-18; 28:16; John 13:36; Heb. 2:13)

This passage has been greatly abused by many so-called pastors who read it out of context and inserted their own feelings as truth. This is not a guarantee or a give to get scheme or a rapture. Rather, this is an invitation to radical faith. We often get more than we want and have more than we need and do better in His will than ours. We are limited in thinking and power and He is not. He is saying we can trust in Him totally and completely with all we have now and for our future. Because, He is not just preparing a place for us in eternity, He is preparing us for eternity too!

What we go through is not just about sin in an unfair world, it is the building up of faith and being that display a beacon to a dimly lit world that needs His Light.

 

Advertisements

Promise of Eternity III

Promise of Eternity

 

 

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” Revelation 21:3

John 14:1-4; 2 Corinthians 5:1-10; Revelation 21:1-4

 

 

A Jewish allegory is employed, “No longer any sea.” This is about how evil and oppressive things will be replaced with what is good.  The word sea is a Jewish metaphor for what is frightful and terrible, and what is inexplicable and/or hostile as the sea was greatly feared by them. The sea is where the monsters lived; people did not live anywhere near it, nor did they have a navy. This saved them from numerous deadly tsunamis over the centuries. Such imagery is used for invading armies and the occupation of the Romans. This does not necessarily mean the seas will evaporate or be removed, but the fear of it as “sea” meant evil.

Here, God is saying He will neuter evil’s power or remove it all together. This can also refer to how God will (has already done) neuter Rome, its power, and its influence (Job 7:12; 41:1; Psalms 74:13; 89:9-10; Is. 27:1; 65:17; Rev. 13:1-10).

God dwells with His people!  He is the God Who is now and Who is to come.

We are shown His perfection, holiness, and purity. God is the One who restores, converts, and brings salvation and hope. This also means righteousness, rightfulness, and renewal.  Christ is coming again and all will consummate His will and purpose.  Justice and His Kingdom will be fulfilled, and every knee will bow (Isa. 45:23; Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:10; Rev. 21:1-22:5; Tobit; Jubilees; 4 Ezra)!

This is our great comfort, God seeks us; He wants to be with us, He is our refuge; He is the One to whom we look for leadership (Psalm 23; 80:1; 121:5-6; Isa. 4:5-6; 49:10; Micah 7:14; John 10:11-18; Heb. 3:1; 13:20; 1 Pet. 5:4; Rev. 4:6-7).

Jesus is our only way, the gate, and stairway to Heaven; there is no other way to God except through Him.

Now, the epic three-word phrase that gives us what to look forward to: Prepare a place.  Jesus is preparing for us, those He chooses, an eternal home; Heaven.  He brings peace and a future to those in Him. God will achieve His purpose; we will inherit His wonders and blessings and we will have no ties to the old nature of sin and evil.  Jesus is not just preparing a place for us in Heaven; He is preparing us in our journey of faith in the here-and-now, too (Isa. 42:9; 48:6; 51:15-16; 65:17-25; 66:22; 1 Cor. 15:35-57; Rev. 7:9; 21:1-8)!

Know that Christ is our Real and true hope! For our lives now and what is to come in eternity!

In application, a real Christian and an effective church leadership always point people to Christ as Lord and operate in the Fruit of the Spirit. Thus, our character will show calmness, personal care, tenderness, and the Love of Christ in meeting the needs of others–never out of arrogance or manipulation. That also means not to manipulate ends times teaching, that points to a personality and not The Person of Christ!  We are to be more than just a personality; as we are from the work of the Holy Spirit within us (Prov. 15:1; Isa. 40:11; 42:2-3; Phil. 4: 5; Matt. 5:5; 11:29; 12:15; Eph. 4:1-2; Col. 3:16; 2 Timothy 2:24; 1 Thessalonians 2:7).

When we operate in real faith and the parameters of the Fruit of His Spirit and Word, we will get End Times more properly, and our church will prosper.  Pastors and church leaders are being good ministers when we realize we are still human and fallen, and face our own sins and temptations that would cloud us from being true representatives of Christ.  When we are good ministers of the God, we point others to Him by our actions and deeds.

Are you a sheep or a goat? PII

The Coming Of The Son Of ManMatthew 25: 31- 46 

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matthew 25: 41

When the Son of Man comes!

Many people go to church and claim to be Christians. But, when it comes down to it, many are not living in the Spirit. Their faith is based on their identity-that they go to church-not that Christ has a hold on their lives (Rom. 8:9).

These are the goats who hang with the sheep, but they are pretenders and fakers who trust in themselves and not in the Lord. They are the ones who cause the most trouble for the good leaders with gossip and divisions, they will exhibit little to no fruit.

How do you know you are a goat? If all you see in life is yourself, your works, or your heritage, you may have a big, eternal problem leering at you! We must be aware that the goats will be taken; make sure you are not a goat, but rather a sheep, one who loves the Lord with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and whose identity is in Christ (Mark 12:29-31; John 10:14; 27-30).

At His second coming, Jesus will be looking for those who are prepared and faithful.

When the Son of Man comes. This refers to Christ’s reign on earth, predicted by Daniel (Dan. 7:13-14). This is a depiction of our Lord’s absolute authority over the apocalypse, judging all who have ever lived, and of both His omnipresence and omniscience.

Right hand, left. In ancient customs, the right side was the place of authority and power, whereas the left was for guests or those in trouble. Inherit the Kingdom refers to those who have been predestined (Romans 8).

We are being prepared for His Kingdom and glory!

Say to those on the left. This is about judgment. Jewish literature teaches that those nations who wronged Israel will be judged. Jesus takes the focus to how we were obedient with His call to the poor and oppressed (Matt. 12:50; 28:10). As we go out to proclaim the Word, how we are treated will bring judgment on those who have done ill to His servants (Matt. 5:19; 11:11; 18:4; 20:26; 23:11).

Here is something you do not want to hear…. Depart from me. The sentence is eternal! Before the Judgment can take place, the news of the Kingdom needs to be told (Matt. 24:14; 28:18-20).  Destruction and judgment, not God’s original plan for His people (Exodus 33:19; 34:6; Psalm 67:1; 1 Tim. 2:4; James 5:11;1 Pet. 2:3; 1 John 4:8-10). But, when sin entered in, the utopia ended and now evil must be put off (2 Peter 2:4-12).

Hell is a real place, not an idea to keep people in line!

Everlasting fire/ punishment refer to Hell, as in eternal punishment. The punishment of Hell is endless; so it is with the eternal blessed life of the Christian who is saved by grace. This is why evangelism and witnessing are so important (1 Cor. 15:1-4).

We need to proclaim Christ as Savior to help save people from this eternal damnation (Matt. 18:8; John 5:24)!

Reflection:

Even in the mist of fear and woe, make no mistake. Christ’s return will be glorious, and present us, the faithful, with commendation, victory, and security. We will receive our rewards and our proper place! We will see that all we went through in life had a purpose and a reason, and we will see the people who benefited, the souls that were saved, and the work that gave Him glory.

We will see clearly what our life was about and what it meant to Christ and to others.

We will say, yes, it was worth it! I am glad I remained faithful! Faithfulness, even when it is hard, is well worth it, as nothing else we do is greater that what we do for our Lord. Our works do not earn our salvation. His grace paid for that; but, why be one who is foolish when we can be the victorious, faithful sheep!

Christ will Certainty Return PIV

second coming eBe curious and hopeful! 2 Peter 3:10-13 

“But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” 2 Peter 3: 13

Can you think of a specific area in your life that could use more hope? What does it mean for you to be confident and exuberant? What can you do to be more confident and exuberant?

Coming refers to when Christ will come back and gives us blessings as Christians who are faithful in Him. This is an aspect of great hope, that our righteousness do matter and it will come into fruition when He comes (Isa. 9:7; 32:16-17; 62:1-2; Jer. 32:40).

New heaven and a new earth could refer to an entire, new, created order after God destroys this one, but other passages indicate this means God reboots this one, cleanses it, and restores it as in a transfiguration process. Whatever means is used is because of His redemption that allows us to have a home of Righteousness. His righteousness will exemplify the world, not sin (Isa. 11:4-5; 45:8; 65:17-25; 66:22; Dan. 9:24; Rom. 8:21-23; 1 Cor. 15:35-57; Rev. 21:1).

Peter makes the point that since everything will be destroyed and judged, we should focus ourselves on Christ. He is our Hope and reason for life and living. He will return. There is no “if;” only “when.” It is not theory, but fact, and it points us to a faith that is sensible and useful. Our lives need to be in pursuit of Him and His Truth and principles so we are not spending our energies in sensationalism and endless debates, but rather in knowing Him and making Him known.

God calls us to be curious and hopeful with what is to come. This is to give us strength for endurance and anticipation of His work to come.

But, we are not to be obsessed and impatient or slip off the path He has for us. Our focus is to be in and on Him, not on our agendas. We are to make sure we do not fall prey to sensationalism or are not carried away by those who are deceptive, manipulative, or condescending or who play to our fears, hopes, and desires. Nor, are we to fall prey to our own faulty thinking, negating the real, revealed truths. Our footing is in Christ. Let us not lose it and fall off a cliff!

Our security, salvation, and lives are in Him and in Him only, all for His glory.

His promise to return is the climax of our life and the beginning of life everlasting. It is our hope in the midst of our trials and sufferings as well as in the daily grind of life. He wants us to live in the contentment of His love, not in the circumstances of ours or other’s notions or trepidations.

Do you understand who you are in Christ? Do you look for signs, or do you take His precepts as your sign and roadmap for life?

The Pharisees in Jesus’ day were experts in inferring what was going on in the world with people, perceived motivations, knowing ‘their’ rules, and even the weather, but they did not know their Scriptures. They knew them as had them memorized, but not understood or applied. They knew the mechanics, but not the heart and intent. They only knew what their interpretations were, what others had said, and the passion to follow the concepts they cherished. But, they did not know the facts of what God had plainly told them in His Word. Just as many Christians today.

The best view to have in eschatology is the buildup of our faith and the deployment of our spiritual formation in the lives of others.

We pave the way for His Second Coming by our faith development and deployment, not by our feeble theories and the chasing of signs! From this passage in 2 Peter, what do you understand God’s call to be for you? What can your church do to discipline and/or warn people who make apocalyptic predictions or have bad motivations for their teaching?

Christ will Certainty Return PIII

God controlConfident! 2 Peter 3:10-13

“… As you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.” 2 Peter 3:12

What do you think discourages hopeful Christians? What can be done to inspire someone who is discouraged to remain faithful and vigilant?

God’s call for us is to be confident and exuberant that He is in control and things will work out. He does not want us, forsaking our duty as Christians in the world here and now by using our energies in nonsocial and nonsensical ways, trying to predict the future and arguing our views of it. If you really think this through, it is like focusing on your favorite junk food and arguing why it is good while forsaking healthy food that is good for you and helps you to grow and thrive.

Since everything refers to what should I do now? This is also a call, a call to keep you from being spiritually or emotionally defeated when tough times come. We are always seeing our Lord, not our situation. This is an aspect of the character of faithfulness, as it will help you persevere under stress and chaos. Christ is the One who keeps us secure, not our environment (John 10:28-29; Rom. 8:31-39)!

What kind of People you ought to be means to watch our motives and behaviors, making sure they are lined up with Christ and not with what is false and pretentious. We are to conduct ourselves with good ethics, honor, and godliness. What we do as a Christian is in response to what Christ has done in us. Works are not for our salvation; they result from our gratitude for the salvation that was freely given to us.

Thus, what we should be thinking, as committed Christians, is how do we now live for Christ and His glory, not how do we live for our desires and needs.

He has given us everything in abundance and in love. This is not a time to be impatient; it is a time to grow and do more in Him and for Him (Heb. 13:9).

You ought… live holy and godly/lives of holiness refers to not letting suffering overtake us or move us from His Way. Suffering is a part of life; it will happen. We have to learn to cope, seek Him, and prepare so we can help others and ourselves through it (see articles on “Suffering” http://www.intothyword.org/pages.asp?pageid=53502). We are called to not be discouraged when bad things, troubles, disasters, and tribulations happen in the world (2 Chron. 15:6; Isa. 13:8; 19:2; Jer. 51:46; Hosea 13:13).

We live in a fallen world where sin has corrupted everything and everyone, so disasters will come. We are called to prepare, plan ahead, and look to Christ as the Deliverer. He is in control!

The day of God. This is slightly different than the “Day of the Lord” and refers to “The Coming One,” as no one else but God Himself. Both terms are interchangeable, meaning great signs will take place, and He is seeking us for our salvation as well as for our spiritual growth. (Rev. 16:14)!

What does this come down to? Do not to make up dates, or dramatize bad theology; rather, know He is on His Way in His timing and be excited, but not fixated.

We are to have a “hasten desire” for Him to come back now. But, we cannot change God’s mind or speed things up. His timing is deemed and decreed by God’s providence and by God alone (Eph. 1:11).

Peter is warning us not to diverge into sensationalism, emotionalism, or fatalism, but see it from God’s view and trust in His timing. Contemporary Jewish thought at this time was divided on whether we participate in God’s intervention. Some rabbis taught that we do hasten it by our repentance, piety, and good deeds, while others said it was fixed and we have no sway over God. The debate continues today amongst Christians. Many Christians feel we hasten God’s timing by our missions and evangelism to all people groups (Matt. 24:14).

The fact is, we have no knowledge of the factors God considers or how His providence, mercy, and patience are working out for our benefit, too.

We do contribute; our actions matter. We evangelize as best and as aggressively in love as we can, because that is what we are called to do. We hasten this day by our fervor, our humble and honest prayers, and our obedience to know Him and make Him known to others. These are the only contributions we make to His timing (Matt. 6:10; Mark 13:10; Luke 11:2; Acts 3:19-20; Rev. 8:3-5; 22:20).

Christ will Certainty Return PII

Like a thief in the night

Like a thief in the night, 2 Peter 3:10-13

“Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives.” 2 Peter 3: 11

Why do you suppose that Jesus did not give us the details of His second coming? What would have happened if He had?

Like a thief in the night, a quote from Jesus Himself, is a vivid image of anticipated End Times, and literally means to “break in,” as to dig into the clay and brick sides to get inside the home. Here, it is a metaphor, and does not refer to a literal thief who would rob us, but that Christ’s coming will not be predicted or expected. It will be a surprise and a shock. This could only happen if the people were not there, as in not ready (Ex. 22:2-3; Matt. 24:43; Luke 12:39-40).

Do not be ignorant of His promise! 

We talked a bit on this one, “Day of the Lord.” It means the Lord’s final Day of Judgment where He settles all accounts and injustices. It is a synonym for the Second Coming and refers to the anticipated eschatological climax of events. Victory over darkness and sin will be achieved after God intervenes in the world with judgment and destruction of His enemies, and rewards and blessings to those who are in Him. Although this Day started with the resurrection of Christ and His victory over sin and the coming of the Spirit, it comes to its consummation and fullness after Christ’s Second Coming and Judgment (Isa. 2:11-20; 13:9-13; Joel 1:15; 3:14-21; Amos 5:18-20; 1 Thess. 2:1-3; 5:2).

The Heavens…disappear… with a roar…elements, refers to God’s judgment, that He will remove all evil and iniquity, and all of humanity’s works will be held in account.

This is an Old Testament image of purification and renewal. This refers to the building blocks of the universe. It is interesting that the Greeks theorized about molecules centuries before science discovered them. The basic elements in ancient times, usually refer to earth, air, fire, and/or water. This term also refers to all that is in the universe, such as celestial beings, planets, and stars. Here, it is most likely referring to the heavenly bodies. Peter’s point is that everything will be destroyed (some believe transformed or rebooted (Isa. 34:4; 64:1-4; Matt. 24:29-31).

Everything will be…. Laid bare/ burned up/exposed, this means to be found out or found, and points us to the judgment that is coming.

The earth will undergo a climatic destruction or reformation. This could also mean that the earth will be destroyed and made new. Also, it could mean being aware of our own motives, why we do what we do (1 Cor. 3:13-15).

Is it to please our curiosity or manipulate others to see our way of thinking, regardless of revealed biblical truth?

The main point of this passage is to tell us not to be discouraged, but to remain faithful and vigilant. We are to live our lives preparing and planning as if Christ would be coming tomorrow or if He were coming a thousand years from now. We are not to be preoccupied with the details and trivialities. That is why Jesus did not give them to us. Rather, our faith development and steadfastness are far more impacting and more real on others around us (Matt. 24)!

The earth and all we know and see will either be destroyed or re-formed into a new earth and a new life. How does this make you feel? How does this give you hope?

Christ will Certainty Return PI

Christ will ReturnUnexpectedly! 2 Peter 3:10-13 

“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.” 2 Peter 3: 10

What preparation and participation do you think we are to do? What happens when people do nothing with their faith and just wait for a future that may not come?

Peter, in graphic imagery and hopefulness, is making a strong argument that Christ will return and when He does, it will be un-expected with un-surpassing wonders the world has never seen.

During this time, these early Christians were being discouraged by the persecutions and seemingly insurmountable sufferings and loss. The comfort of Jesus’ returning was like cool water to a person dying of thirst on a hot day. Consequently, false teachers were taking advantage of them. These so-called pious fraud Christians, who were making their own apocalyptic predictions, with bad motivations. They operated just like Satan, seeking to disrupt, seduce, and carry people away from Christ and to their way. If you are not sure who they are, watch their character and Fruit, which will show their true nature (Jer. 23:13; Micah 3:5; Matt. 7:15; Acts 20:28-30; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Eph. 4:14; Phil. 3:2; 2 Tim. 3:4-6; Titus 1:11, 12; 2 Peter 2:18-19).

What is this all about? This is the climax of the Kingdom of God, the time when it comes into its fulfillment and fruition. The earth and all we know and see will be re-formed as a new earth and a new life. There will be a judgment from which nothing will be exempt.

What does this mean for me? Because all will be judged and “destroyed” (meaning renewed), we must make the most of our lives here and now, not wait for a future that may not come, or bask in the past. We must live for Christ with the hope and purpose He gives us with power, passion, and conviction.

The promise of His Second Coming is to give us hope and confidence. 

We live in a sin-infested world now, but the one to come will be perfect, as all in it will be right with God. We look forward to His Second Coming and the fruition of his Kingdom. But, beware of sitting and doing nothing; we will delay His work and impede the preparation of His Kingdom. Our participation helps His coming, as we help build His Kingdom now.

This passage is also very figurative. The purpose of figurative or apocalyptic language is to describe the indescribable. 

Peter attempts to help us understand these events and the importance of our being ready (Matt. 24: 36 through chapter 25 is also written this way for this reason). This is about being hopeful for the future, but living and being viable in the present.

We can take comfort in the fact that Jesus is coming back. 

This time it will not be a subtle event, as a baby born in a feed trough in a cave. Rather, the entire creation will glow and bend to show the whole world His glory. This passage gives hope to a persecuted church, hope to people in despair, and hope that He is indeed in charge, even when we cannot see it!

What does it mean that we are to live our lives as if Christ would be coming tomorrow and also preparing and planning as if He were coming a thousand years from now? Is this a contradiction, or a plan to do?

How can the Second Coming give you hope and confidence? How does this passage give hope to a persecuted church?