Somewhere in the past, a tragic divorce occurred; theologians decided we must separate the return of Jesus for His church from the proclamation of the Gospel. The results of this untimely divorce have led to a dearth of understanding among believers regarding Jesus’ appearing and the joyful anticipation that comes with such awareness.
Confused believers hear that they will surely die rather than meet Jesus in the air, which directly contradicts the New Testament in passages such as 1 Corinthians 15:51 and 1 Thessalonians 4:17. The Apostle Paul believed there would be many saints alive at the time of the Rapture, but many preachers, even those that profess to be Bible-believing, disagree with him on this matter.
Many New Testament texts connect Jesus’ imminent appearing for His church with the Gospel hope of believers (Titus 2:11-14; Phil. 3:20-21; 1 Cor. 1:7; 1 Thess. 1:8-10; 1 Cor. 15:51-55; Rom. 8:23-25). Jesus’ imminent appearing and our receipt of immortal, imperishable bodies were essential elements of the Gospel preached to the early saints. Why has this changed so drastically in our day?
The consequences of such negligence have been tragic. It has resulted in:
- A Near Blackout of Teaching About Our “Blessed Hope”
The divorce of the Rapture from the Gospel has resulted in a near blackout of teaching about our “blessed hope” in churches today. This negatively impacts new believers as well as seasoned saints; it leaves them ill-prepared to live in a fear-ridden society because such teaching provides no prophetic context into which they can place the violence and lawlessness of our day or the push for a New World Order.
The book of 1 Thessalonians reveals that the hope of Jesus’ soon appearing was an essential facet of the Gospel message Paul preached during his short stay in Thessalonica. Notice what the apostle wrote about its reception among the new converts:
“For not only has the word of the Lord sounded forth from you in Macedonia and Achaia, but your faith in God has gone forth everywhere, so that we need not say anything. For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:8-10).
Upon turning to Jesus, the new converts immediately began waiting for His appearing, aka the Rapture. Paul included the return of Jesus for His church in his preaching from the very beginning. Why else would they have responded to his message with an eager expectation of it?
The new converts in Thessalonica were so fixated on their soon departure from the earth that when some in their midst died, they grieved unnecessarily, thinking they would miss out on the Rapture (1 Thess. 4:13-19). In response, Paul emphasized the primary place of the “dead in Christ” during the Rapture, telling his converts that Jesus would resurrect them first at his appearing (4:16).
If the issue had been a failure to believe in a future resurrection, Paul’s response would’ve been similar to what he wrote in 1 Corinthians 15. Instead, he emphasized the role of the “dead in Christ” in the Rapture because that was the cause of their lingering sorrow.
In Romans 8:23, the apostle identifies a key aspect of Jesus’ appearing, “the redemption of our bodies,” and verse 24 says, “For in this hope we were saved.” Paul regarded the event we call the “Rapture” as a key aspect of his preaching because it signified the “hope” contained in the saving message of the Gospel.
Jesus promises eternal life to all who believe in Him. Our experience of it begins with His return for us, the Rapture, when He gives us immortal bodies (1 Cor. 15:51-55) and takes us to the place He has prepared for us (John 14:2-3).
The Rapture is the joyous future tense of the Gospel and a message that people so desperately need to hear.
- A Diversion of the Believers’ Focus to Earthly Aspirations
Another sorrowful result of this divorce is this: It takes the eyes of believers away from their ultimate hope at a time when they need such a focus. Instead, their eyes remain focused on earthly aspirations.
Very few pastors talk about what happens at the moment Jesus returns for His church (1 Cor. 15:51-55; Phil. 3:20-21; 1 Thess. 4:16-17). Even those that believe these things never ever mention the believers’ hope of immortal bodies for fear that talking about the Rapture might hurt attendance.
If there was ever a time the saints needed to hear about their “blessed hope,” it’s now. Multitudes of young people are dying suddenly across the world. Natural and manmade disasters are claiming many lives and raising levels of fear. Threats of nuclear war abound; America and Russia are already at war with each other in the proxy conflict in Ukraine. The globalists warn of new pandemics and future crises, which frighten many because of their track record in correctly predicting such things.
I couldn’t begin to cope with all that comes across my news feeds apart from a prophetic perspective that assures me God is sovereignly in control of all things and that Jesus is coming for me before the Day of the Lord, just as He promised in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11. Apart from this joyous expectation, I would have to ignore all the threats prevalent in our world and somehow pretend they don’t exist.
Biblical prophecy puts current events in perspective and offers joyous hope for both those in Christ and outside of saving faith. Sermons that emphasize this life at the expense of the future tense of the Gospel perform a great disservice to the lives of many in the body of Christ.
- An Open Door to Wokeism and the Diminishing of Gospel Purity
The defense of premillennialism, which includes a belief in the Rapture, a literal seven-year tribulation, and Jesus’ thousand-year reign, is a long-term defense of the purity of the Gospel and a safeguard against Wokeism in the church.
During the fifth century AD, the majority of those in the church switched from premillennialism to the amillennialism advocated by Augustine, which he based on the allegorization of many prophetic texts in God’s Word as well as Platonism. Later, the church applied Augustine’s methodology of interpreting prophetic texts to Scripture passages related to the Gospel, and the purity of its message disappeared from the organized church during what we know as the “dark ages.”
The abandonment of justification by faith in the church began centuries earlier with the allegorization of biblical texts related to the millennial promises God made to Israel.
Once a pastor, church, or denomination relegates a prophetic passage to allegory, others apply this same methodology to other biblical passages, and false teaching ensues. It may not happen right away, but eventually, Scripture passages related to marriage begin to fall by the wayside, as evidenced by Andy Stanley, a longtime advocate of interpreting God’s promises to Israel as symbolism fulfilled now in the church.
Such altering of the intent of prophetic passages in the Bible opens the door to compromise with the “woke” culture. Maybe not for years down the road, but it will happen.
Whether for the sake of those coming to faith in Jesus or for those already in the faith, we must reunite the message of the Gospel with our “blessed hope.” The divorce of the two has done much damage to the purity of the Gospel throughout the history of the church.
My primary purpose for writing The Triumph of the Redeemed was to provide believers with a solid biblical foundation for placing their hope in Jesus’ imminent appearing, which most churches fail to provide to the saints.
- Silence Regarding Our “Blessed Hope”
The message of the Gospel is this: Jesus died on the cross for our sins, was buried, rose again on the third day, ascended to heaven, and is coming again to give us imperishable, immortal bodies and take us to the place He has prepared for us.
Jesus’ resurrection means that we, too, will live forever with bodies that will never grow old, get sick, or die. The church is far too silent on this all-important matter.
Titus 2:11-14 places our “blessed hope,” aka the Rapture, as a result of responding to the Gospel message:
“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.”
The aversion to mentioning the “Rapture” has led to silence in many churches regarding the true meaning of our “blessed hope.” It’s not the Second Coming, but rather all the saints of the church age meeting Jesus in the air before the Tribulation period (1 Thessalonians 4:14-17).
If you have not yet put your trust in Jesus, please see my post, Jesus Is the Only Path to Eternal Life. In it, I explain how you can know for sure that Jesus has forgiven all your sins and that you possess eternal life. Jesus is my risen Savior; He can give you bright hope for tomorrow regardless of the threats that come our way from a fallen world.
In conclusion: The tragic divorce of our “blessed hope” from the Gospel has tragically led to a focus on temporal outcomes within the church today, the loss of an excited anticipation of Jesus’ return for us, and the loss of preserving the purity of the Gospel that sadly impacts future generations who apply the same methodology used to deny premillennialism to other clear passages of God’s Word.
My book, The Triumph of the Redeemed-An eternal Perspective that Calms Our Fears in Perilous Times, is available on Amazon. In it, I provide further reasons for rejecting Replacement Theology and putting our hope in Jesus’ imminent appearing to take us home to glory.
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