“Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die.”
“And she said, ‘The Philistines be upon thee, Samson.’ And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, “I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself.’ And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him.”
There was a power outage in Eastern West Virginia and much of Western and Southwestern Virginia due to a series of storms that rumbled through on the night of June 29th-30th (Thursday night and Friday) and July 1st and 2nd. Because of these storms, much of the area where I live has been without electricity. Blacksburg itself was without electrical power for about twelve to twelve and a half hours on July 1st. What I experienced, personally, over the day or two caught my attention in a different sort of way.
A Ghost Town…of Sorts
The power outage in Blacksburg – especially the areas close to Virginia Tech – caused an unusual phenomenon: Blacksburg was turned into somewhat of a ghost town. This is rather surprising because the power was only out in the city proper for about twelve to twelve and a half hours. It was off from about 12:45AM early in the morning of the 1st of July until about 1PM the same day. What was amazing to me was the fact that many businesses and buildings were literally put out of business for the day (or the morning, as the case was for many). I figured that many of these places would have portable generators in order to have power for their various instruments of machinery. This included the place where I teach. I went early – my wife driving me there on her way to her part-time job – and expected students to be tested on paper (usually we test them on computers, but have, in the past, tested students on a paper-based entrance test). At about 7:30, one of the administrators arrived and said I could go home, which I did (not wanting to wait for her to change her mind). As I walked home, the scenes that morning were of a ghost town: a few cars out and about, but basically everyone else inside and at home.
Business as Usual?
One instance that caught my attention that morning was a well dressed gentleman driving up to Starbuck’s. There’s a Starbuck’s Coffee® shop somewhat in between where I live and where I teach. As my wife and I drove up to the shop, we could tell that there was nothing happening and that the store was closed: no lights, no people, no activity. We didn’t even try the door. She dropped me off at the school where I teach where, as mentioned above, I waited, encountered my supervisor, and went home after being told I could do so. The well dressed gentleman drove up in a very nice looking car. He got out as I was walking by, and tried the door to Starbuck’s, and upon finding out it was locked, returned ot his car rather perturbed. I mentioned to him something about being surprised that such a business – and this Starbuck’s gets A LOT of business throughout the day – didn’t have a generator. Later, after I went home and crashed on the couch until about noon, when I went to search for some place that might be open for lunch I noticed that every place I happened to go to was closed because of a lack of electricity. From Panera to Pizza Hut (which had a sign on the door stating that they’d be open “probably” at 3pm that day) to Log Cabin Barbecue to even Kroger’s Supermarket, these places were all closed down for the morning and into the afternoon because of no power, no electricity. I was literally struck dumb that none of these places – not even a VERY large corporation like Kroger’s – had a generator in order to better serve their customers on a day like that day when power was out, and people would be coming out to look for survival goods like water, batteries, and canned goods. Incidentally, after I left our apartment at 1:00pm, the power had come back on, and CVS Pharmacy in the Student Mall was the only place open. I was able to direct a gentleman to CVS so he could buy some batteries. Everything else was closed.
There were two things that struck me about that day. First, I was haunted by the fact that the Rapture of the Church – which I believe is imminent – will hit very similarly to the storms that struck this area of the United States, and it will cause a lot of small towns and smallish cities like Blacksburg, Virginia, to become like Ghost Towns in an instant. I was literally struck dumb about the fact that very few people were out and about on the day in question. Those that were out were looking for food, water, and other emergency supplies and finding none because places were closed. Will it be the same when the Rapture hits? Will it be worse? Could we see looting like we saw in the Los Angeles Riots in the early `90s? Will we see rapacious gangs of thugs roaming freely without fear of the police or other law enforcement like we saw in New Orleans following the disaster of Hurricane Katrina? Will people literally be breaking into places where signs announce “Closed due to ‘Disappearances’”? Will we see people hiding in fear behind locked and barricaded doors, weapons of all kinds and every sort ready for the looters, thieves, murderers, and rapists that very likely will be roaming the streets? Will it be horrific chaos the likes of which we haven’t seen in our lifetime in the USA? Could people be taking their lives into their own hands by simply stepping out to go and get those things that are necessary for basic life, such as water, canned food, and batteries? Granted, there was none such that happened here in Blacksburg, but the stark reality of nobody, or very few of anybody, being out and about made me wonder if things wouldn’t be very similar – or even worse – in the immediacy of the Rapture of the Church?
The second thing that struck me the other days the fact that all the stores and shops and restaurants in the area were closed simply because there were no generators, no way of supplying power to those machines and stoves and appliances and computers needed to operate for business. Actually, there were two things that caused me to ponder: first, how many people, when – following the rapture – will go to their local church and find it either locked because everyone else has been raptured or go to their church and find a great number of people there (including church leadership) yet without power because they didn’t trust in the Spiritual Generator, Jesus Christ? To the former, Christ himself speaks directly (in a parable concerning those who fail to watch):
“And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us.’ But he answered and said, ‘Verily I say unto you, “I know you not.”’”
The simple fact of the matter here is that many who are left behind after the Rapture of the Church will seek to enter in, seek to go with those who have been taken out of this world, only to find the door shut. They will have remembered what a friend, family member, loved one, coworker, neighbor, or acquaintance spoke to them about concerning the coming of Jesus Christ in the clouds. They will remember where this one who loved them went to church and show up there seeking answers. The bad news is that likely the entire church’s regular congregation, leadership, and people – including the person or person who spoke to them – will be gone, and though the church doors will probably be open, no living soul will be there, saving for other seekers. In the latter instance, at such a time of disaster, people congregate to churches and centres of religion. Such was the case in the USA after the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks on Washington, D.C. and New York City. Church attendance spiked exponentially in the weeks and months following the attacks, and literally that day in New York City, Churches and religious centres became shelters, including those nearest ground zero which saved the lives of many after the towers collapsed. The problem with the latter instance above is that many churches these days preach a gospel that is without power – the Power of the Blood of Jesus Christ. Paul spoke to this directly when he wrote his second letter to Timothy:
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: form such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts. Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”
–2nd Timothy 3.1~7
Tragically enough, Paul’s discourse and description of the last days also is a fairly clear description of the modern day church. Many mainline denominations and mega-churches have watered down the Gospel of Jesus Christ ot the point that sin is no longer condemned, sinful lifestyles (such as cohabitation, homosexuality, adultery, flimsy divorce, single motherhood by choice, and disobedience to parents [just to name a few]) are not only welcomed but embraced, and pastors’ sermons are more akin to self esteem and self confidence conferences and workshops rather than the time tested and true preaching of the Gospel Message. Many of these denominations and super churches record thousands and even millions coming to Christ…but many of them are coming to a false Christ of works, self-help and self-confidence and self-esteem, and/or a sin embracing Christ that calls for no repentance. Many – if not the vast majority – of these churches fail to spread the message of the freeing power of the Blood of Jesus Christ (John 8.32~36). They fail to teach and preach the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. They have ceased to preach against the eternal danger of hell and the Lake of Fire (Revelation 14.9~11; 20.10~15), some evangelical ministers, preachers, teachers, and missionaries even going so far as teaching that hell and the Lake being against the loving nature of God. They have opened their arms to embrace not only the sinner, but the sin as well, failing to realize that on two occasions Christ said “Sin no more” (John 5.14; 8.11). Instead of preaching on the changing and transforming power of Jesus Christ, these churches have become meeting places for the lost to remain so and offering the human “power” of doughnuts and coffee instead of Biblical Truth. Many other churches have decidedly focused on the “social” gospel, reaching out to help the hungry, the homeless, the naked, and the imprisoned, yet failing to give a surer foundation and transformation by rejecting the truth of Jesus Christ being the only way to salvation (John 14.6), embracing government programs and “free ‘tools’” instead of preaching the Biblical truth and the freedom found therein. Many churches are now abandoning Sunday School and Early morning Bible Study for “worship” hours that are more akin to “show-off” contests (who can show they “worship”-ing the best) than true worship time. Prayer meeting on Wednesday nights is now becoming passé with midweek services (if they are held at all) becoming times for choir practice or gossip sessions (roasted pastor being the main course) or other activities other than people coming together to study the Bible, pray, and/or invite the presence of the Holy Ghost into their midst.. Such churches and those who lead them may find themselves unpleasantly surprised when the Rapture of the Church takes place. They will find themselves in a very similar situation as those businesses here in Blacksburg – without power. They may have their doors open, as the Rapture of the Church will be a disaster of never seen before proportions (think of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, Chernobyl, the 2011 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, and the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks all rolled into one and magnified by a million, and spread across the globe) and millions will literally flock to them, but their power will have long been gone. They will offer a vain hope, an empty Gospel, and vacant words to those who come to them (as they are already doing). Their work will be powerless, though their effort may be strong. Their reaction to the Rapture of the Church will be false and a farce, though their message may be sincere. And their love will be that of a whore or prostitute (see Revelation 17), though it will seem real enough.
The Bottom Line – Jesus IS Coming Again: Do You Have HIS Power?
This is a simple fact, friends: Jesus is coming again!
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.”
“Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”
When he comes again, will you be without power, akin to Samson from one of our keys for today? Will you rush out on that day when the last trump sounds (1st Corinthians 15.52; Zechariah 9.14); Matthew 24.31; John 5.25) only to find you have been left behind because you were without His power? Friends, Jesus is coming again. All things are now in place, and as many writers and pundits have stated it is as if the world has taken a deep breath as a person does before a big hill on a roller coaster. It’s as if the world is awaiting another huge event (and I’m not writing about the so-called Mayan “end of the world” 2012 scenario). Now is the time for you, friend and reader, to get right with God (Romans 13.11~14; 1st Corinthians 15.34; 1st Timothy 2.4). Don’t wait until disaster strikes or until you are old (or older), because the next breath isn’t promised to you…
“…behold, now is the accepted time; behold; now is the day of salvation.”
–2nd Corinthians 6.2
Friend, if today you wish to come to Jesus Christ and accept him as Lord and Savior of your life, he is waiting and has his arms open for you! Look at these incredible statements:
“For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all that call upon thee.”
“…but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness…”
“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh unto meI will in no wise cast out.”
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, ‘He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.7”
“And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let him that heareth say, ‘Come.’ And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.”
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Friend, these promises are for you! As the verses in The Bottom Line speak, today is the day of salvation! Don’t wait! If you want to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, pray this prayer:
Father in Heaven, I know that I am a sinner. I know that I have sin in my life and that it separates me from you. Father, I am so sorry for my sins and I ask you, will you forgive me in Jesus’ Name and by his blood? Will you forgive me, Father, and help me to turn away from these sins? I want to live for you! Come into my life by way of your Holy Ghost, and help me to walk in your ways! Help me, Lord, to live for you forever from this point on. I thank you and I love you, Lord, and I pray this in the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
If you prayed this prayer and were serious, I have good news: You are now a child of God! Here is what you need to do next:
1. Read your Bible. Start in the Gospel of John and try to read at least five verses a day. You may read more, but remember to take your time and let the Lord God speak to you. Try to start studying the Bible, as well. Make time in your day to study and meditate on God’s written Word.
2. Pray every day. Make time to pray every morning and every evening. Find a quiet place, either at home, at your work, or at your school – as the case may be – and pray. Your words don’t have to be fancy or flowery; simply pray like you are talking to a friend, for Jesus is your New Friend. For guidelines on how to pray, see Matthew 6.5~15
3. Find a church that preaches Jesus Christ Crucified and Risen and where the Bible is the Final Authority. Ask the Spirit of the Lord to lead you (see James 1.5~7) and he will bring you to the place where he wants you. Attend as many services as you can, but especially on Sunday, and go to Sunday School: it will help you to grow in the Lord. You will also come to know many who are also fellow believers,. Get to know them. Join a home Bible study if possible, and become accountable to someone who has been walking with the Lord Jesus for a number of years. Christian friends will also challenge you and help you grow in the Lord.
If you do these things, you will grow in the LORD. The Devil will convince you that nothing has happened, nothing special has taken place, and that you really aren’t saved. He will do this heavily in the beginning, but remember the promises of the Lord in the Bible. Remember to serve the Lord, to follow the words of Jesus Christ, and to fight the devil (read Matthew 4 to see how Jesus fought the Devil). Remember: w hen you are in trouble, when times are tough, and even when times are good, call on the Lord, and he will be there for you to help you.
LORD, we have learned today about power and how the power you give through salvation and knowing you is of utmost importance. Help us, O Father, not to be without your power on the day when you call your church home. Help us to live and work for and follow you and what you say in your written Word. We pray for those who are without, Lord: help us to shine our lights for you and to live in such a way that many will come to know you. We pray for those who have come to know you through this lesson and article, that they would get with good, Christian friends, and grow stronger in you day by day. Help them, O LORD, to withstand the devil and his schemes, and to learn to flee temptation. We pray all of these things in the Precious Name above all names, Jesus Christ, Amen.
Verse to Remember:
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”