Ron Graham was called home on March 14, 2013. He began writing this commentary before his death and had asked me, Nathele Graham, to continue his service to our Lord by finishing what he began.
Can you feel it? There is a feeling of anticipation in the air that can almost be touched. I get emails wondering what this sign or that sign might mean. Could we be within moments of the Rapture? The answer to that question is “Yes.” Then again, it has been “within moments” since Christ established the Ekklesia, the called out people who worship Him. Paul wrote about it and may have expected it to happen within his lifetime. Could that be why he was such an avid evangelist?
“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Romans 11:25).
To many Christians, endless attempts to predict a date for the Harpazō (also known as the Rapture) has become an obsession. Why hasn’t it happened yet? Nearly two thousand years have passed and we are still waiting. According to Paul the Harpazō won’t happen until the fullness of the Gentiles comes in. Only God knows the exact number of Gentiles needed for completeness of the Ekklesia. Until that number is reached, we need to get busy.
Since God alone knows what number constitutes the fullness of the Gentiles and when that fullness will come about, what should we be doing? Should we speculate on dates that the Rapture might occur, or should we work to bring the lost to salvation so the fullness of the Gentiles will be accomplished? Jesus didn’t tell us to focus upon the Rapture, but to preach the gospel.
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).
Evangelism is the key to bringing about the fullness of the Gentile Ekklesia. We have work to do. The Ekklesia of Christ needs to get about the business of presenting Christ to a lost world.
“But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many” (Romans 5:15).
Adam sinned and death became a reality. Because God the Son, Jesus Christ, became human and took our sin upon Himself at the cross, we have the gift of salvation available to us. That gift has to be accepted in order to be effective in an individual’s life. We need to diligently tell others about the gift of grace through Jesus instead of only focusing upon an event that will occur when we least expect it. There are many dead people walking around who need to know Jesus today or tomorrow they may wake in hell. By that I mean there are people who are dead in their sins. Unless they come to know Jesus they will die the second death and spend eternity in the lake of fire.
Do you really want to wonder if a beloved aunt or your grandfather really knew salvation through Jesus Christ before they died? Way too many Christians spend their time arguing about and speculating upon the Rapture. While they are distracted by such things they ignore their responsibility to evangelize. The lost of this world continue to walk in darkness and have no idea about the lateness of the hour. Too many saints turn from evangelism because they think someone else will do it. The truth is it isn’t up to the other guy to share the gospel. It is up to me and up to you.
We should all long for Messiah’s appearing, but we are never encouraged to sit around and wait for the Rapture. I long to hear Him calling me for the Rapture, but until He calls me Home, in the Rapture or by death, I will continue to serve Him and tell others about Him. Jesus gave all of us a job to do and it is the most important job associated with our walk with Him. It is not our job to go out and drag people into worship halls simply to fill the pews. We must teach them the truth of the Gospel of Christ. Jesus said we must.
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20a).
Baptizing is important and I don’t want to marginalize it, but what good is baptizing someone who doesn’t understand what it is about? We need to preach the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and tell the lost why they need salvation. Adam’s sin created a gap between us and God. Only Christ can bridge that gap. If we don’t teach the lost of this world about Jesus, who will?
The Rapture of the Ekklesia must occur before Jesus’ Second Advent. We do need to be excited, but we need to be evermore fervent in sharing the gospel. Being obsessed with the coming Rapture to the exclusion of evangelism is the same as turning our backs on our Messiah’s command. Just what kind of ambassadors for Jesus are we when we disregard His command to teach the gospel to all nations? If you’ve helped lead someone to the Lord, hallelujah! Don’t stop there. After all, there are many more lost folks wandering aimlessly down that destructive highway that leads to eternal death. Can you imagine the joy you might have if that person you have just led to salvation through Jesus is the one that constitutes the fullness of the Gentiles?
“Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8).
Believe me, I’m as anxious for the Harpazō as anyone, but I must be about my Father’s business right up ‘til the end. I confess that my wife and I eagerly talk a lot about the Harpazō. Every war and rumor of war gets our hopes up. At the end of our discussion I am more resolved than ever to tell others about Jesus. If the followers of Messiah Jesus only focus on the Rapture, the lost of this world are kept in the dark about salvation. Since we are to be raptured at a point when the fullness of Gentiles is complete, would it not be much better to be out there on the battle front preaching the gospel instead of incessantly dreaming of the Rapture?
“And he said unto them, how is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49)
Jesus spoke those words when He was twelve years old. We too must be out our Father’s business of spreading the Gospel of Christ. There is no doubt in my mind that this world is very close to the end. Every day we watch events unfold that point to the soon return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and there should be a sense of urgency as to the lateness of the hour. The news is filled with clues that Jesus is coming soon. That’s exciting and we need to be excited. Have you ever had a bit of good news and you could hardly wait to tell someone? You have that good news. It is the news of what Jesus accomplished on the cross. That’s the most exciting news I can think of. So go tell someone.
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
As Paul explained the Rapture of the Ekklesia to the Thessalonians, he wanted them to take comfort in knowing that those who have died knowing Christ as well as those who are alive and living for Christ when we hear the call will meet the Lord in the air and be with Him forever. We too, need to comfort each other with these words, but we still have work to do. Can you imagine what would have happened if all Christians stopped witnessing back in Paul’s day because of their belief in the nearness of the Rapture? Some did just that and had to be corrected in order to get them back to evangelizing. Just like the Thessalonians we need to take heed that we are diligent in our work for Jesus.
“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).
Many commentators use this verse to encourage Christians to keep looking for Jesus. We need to always be listening for His call which will remove us from God’s judgment upon the earth. More comforting than that is the verse that tells us we won’t go through God’s wrath.
“And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).
Christians won’t see God’s wrath. There will never been a more fearsome time on earth than the events of Daniel’s seventieth week. Jesus said:
“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21).
The Great Tribulation will be the last half of that week, and we have the promise of being delivered from that time of judgment. The more people we share the gospel with the better. You don’t want your worst enemy to face God’s wrath.
“If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
That’s the question at the heart of the matter of evangelism. Do you love Him? Do you love Him enough to keep His commandments and go and teach all nations? Prophecy is exciting and a great study; there is much to learn and be excited about. Through the study of prophecy we know that the Harpazō is imminent, which means it can occur at any moment. That is very exciting. There is nothing standing in the way of that awesome event except possibly that one person God has been putting on your heart to seek out and speak to. You have work to do. Get busy.
God bless you all,