For the first time in the history of the Miss America contest the reigning title holder, Vanessa Williams, was forced to resign. Pictures she had taken before aspiring to the title were used by PENTHOUSE magazine which led to her forced resignation.Bert Parks, who hosted the Miss America pageant for 25 years, said he was saddened by the whole episode. He noted, “Miss America … is the greatest Cinderella story in the United States, and something came along to destroy that, it’s sad!”
While not desirous of commenting on the rightness or wrongness of beauty contests, we might suggest the Scripture comes into focus where mention is made of those who “worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator.” (Romans 1:25)
God is the creator. And He is to be worshipped for even the beauty evidenced in His creation, which would indicate He does all things well.
Rather, what we wish to comment on is the fact that there are standards to uphold which were not upheld and, as a result a crown was lost.
Perhaps we could have used other illustrations of Olympic sports figures, for example, who were found to have drugs in their systems who also lost their crowns.
But we wish to call attention to the Scripture that reminds us of the danger that might come to us as believers of losing our crown. Have you ever stopped to think of that?
Specifically we refer to Rev. 3:11 where we read: “Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast that no man take thy crown!” What possibility is there that we may lose our crown? We will not lose our salvation if we are truly born again, but we may lose our crown.
In 2 John 8 we read: “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.”
The Bible teaches that there are crowns and rewards to the faithful. And there is retribution to the unfaithful.
In the parable of the talents, those who invested their Lord’s money were rewarded with the words, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”
When we serve the Lord, and give Him our best, it will be joy when our Lord comes.
However, to the man who buried his talent we read where his lord says, “Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.” And the unfaithful servant is cast into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Think of it!
We think of our talents as abilities which we all possess. Some have the ability to teach, others to give special counsel, while others possess a gift of speech or musical ability. Talents here, however, refer to money. And, if this parable teaches us anything, it reminds us that when our Lord comes, depending on how we use our money, He will reward us.
It will be worth it all to stand in the presence of the Lord at His coming, knowing we gave to support the Gospel, helped the poor and the widow, and shared with our brother who was in need.
At Pentecost it was said of the early Christians that of the things they possessed they did not consider them their own but had all things common. Is that not God’s norm for the carrying on of His work?
I’m afraid our standards today are quite different. We have the impression that God blesses us and wants us to have a large bank account and vast estate and that will honor Him. No, my friends. Rather, only as what we have and use it for the expansion of His kingdom will God’s work prosper and we will be blessed and rewarded at our Lord’s Re- turn.
On the other hand, could it be that failure to invest our talents (money) means we will be “cast into outer darkness”?
Outer darkness relates to the realm of Satan. It must be realized that when Jesus comes and raptures the saints, this world will be turned over to Satan. For a brief time his henchman, the antichrist, will rule this world. Satan once offered Jesus this right to rule the world if He would only worship him. Well, during the tribulation the world will worship a man. Satan will be cast down upon the earth. And the Bible says, “Woe to the inhabiters of the earth in that day.” Did you hear it?
If you believe going through the tribulation will be a picnic, you do not have a correct understanding of the purpose of the tribulation. In Revelation it is called “the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” (Rev. 3:10)
It would appear that at the end of this age God allows a testing time to come to those who, for one reason or another, are not ready for the rapture. They will go through the tribulation. They will either take the mark of the beast or they will have to hold to their faith in Jesus Christ in the midst of all kinds of persecution, torture, and even death.
God uses suffering amidst persecution to perfect the faith of His children. As Peter says, “He that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin.” (1 Pet. 4:1)
Again Peter reminds us, “The trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (1 Pet. 1:7)
In Revelation 5:9-10 we see those who sing unto the Lord, saying “Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign upon the earth.”
This, we believe, represents the raptured crowd–the overcomers, the faithful, those who invested their talents and are rewarded as being rulers over cities or possessions.
Then we see a second group of those who were slain for the Word of God and for the testimony they held. We read, “White robes were given unto every one of them.” Could this indicate there are those who will be left behind, possibly sons and daughters, who heard their parents say that if they did not receive the Lord, they would be left behind to go through the tribulation? If they were to believe and refuse to worship Satan, they could be saved. White robes represent the righteousness of Christ freely bestowed upon all who believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ.
Some have the mistaken belief that when the Lord comes, there will be no more opportunity to be saved. However, Peter at Pentecost declares there is a day coming when the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord comes: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved!” (Act 2:21)
Now this does not mean you should take a chance and put off your salvation. If you do not receive Christ now, when it is popular to be a Christian, don’t take your chance and be left behind, thinking you can become a believer then.
Daniel comments on this coming tribulation. He also refers to it as a purging time. Notice what we read: “Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.”
As it will be wise virgins that will be ready to meet the coming bridegroom, it is the wise today who know what we are saying–that many will be left behind at the rapture and will go through the tribulation because they were not ready to meet the Lord.
That’s why on every broadcast we sound forth the message, “Be ye therefore ready!” That doesn’t mean simply to believe on the Lord and live your own life. Rather, it means accept Christ and then live for Him. Do His will. Obey His Word. Give to His work. Be a faithful servant.
In Revelation, concerning those seen coming from heaven on white horses with our Lord Jesus Christ. it is said of them, they are “called, chosen and faithful.”
Can you say you are among the “called, chosen and faithful”? Jesus said, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” We are also told to make our calling and election sure and an abundant entrance will be given into the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
It’s not just calling ourselves Christians. The Laodiceans were Christians. But they were lukewarm Christians. And they are spued out. This doesn’t mean there was no more salvation. Rather, they are told to buy gold tried in the fire, meaning there would be the purging and purifying of faith to gain the white robes, for many were never saved in the first place. It was all profession and not possession.
The Bible indicates that before the Lord comes, there will be a great revival in the earth. That revival is the result of preaching this message that many who profess to be Christians will be left behind to go through the tribulation. As the unfaithful servant was left to outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, many will be unprepared when Jesus comes and they will cry out each day, “Why didn’t I live for Christ? …. Why was I left behind?”
There will be churches filled with people studying the Scriptures to discover why they were left behind. And they will find that if they live for the Lord every day amidst great persecution and do not deny their faith or surrender to Antichrist, they can be saved. However, it must be remembered in that day that you can’t buy or sell unless you identify with the Antichrist world system.
So the only way you can stay alive is to have some reserve food on hand, be near a water supply, and hope not to be discovered. As Christians housed the Jews in the holocaust, there will be neighbors who will take Christians under their wings and see that they get something to eat rather than for them to starve. It’s that kind of a day that is ahead.
Again we declare unto you the Word of the Lord that many will miss the rapture who thought they would make it!
Two will be in the field, one taken the other left. The Greek might indicate, “two of the same kind.” They both should have gone when the Lord comes, but one is left behind and the other taken.
Our Lord warns us not to be like the servant who says in his heart, “My lord delayeth his coming,” and begins to live carelessly. Said Jesus, “The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.”
Here is a servant looking for his lord to come. But because he was not ready, he was “cut in sunder,” or as the Greek says, “cut off,” and left behind with unbelievers. Here is a believer of a sort left behind with unbelievers.
Now you hear the argument that we are the bride of Christ and when the Lord comes, He won’t just rapture the head and leave behind the body.
Well, there’s coming a time when that bride will be complete but not until she is without spot and blemish. God must have a pure bride. So if you are looking for the coming of the Lord, the Bible says; He that hath this hope purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”
If you are living in sin, you’re not ready for the rapture. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
While it is true that God hath not appointed us to wrath, it is also true that on account of uncleanness the wrath of God cometh upon the children of disobedience, and we’re warned, “Be not partakers with them.”
Listen again to what Jesus says. Here is a parallel passage to Matt. 25 where ten virgins were all waiting for the coming bridegroom. But you know how half of them were left behind. They had gone seeking oil, and while they were gone, the bridegroom came.
Beloved, be sure you have the oil of the Holy Spirit. If you have never surrendered wholly and fully to Jesus Christ, do it now. “No man can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Ghost!” To be ready for the rapture. Jesus needs to be your Lord.
Now here in Luke 12 we read, “Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately.”
In Matthew 25 we have ten virgins waiting to go to the wedding. Here we are told what happened apparently to those who missed the wedding. They are told now to be ready when our Lord comes back from the wedding.
Then our Lord gives the illustration which reminds us that we are a part of the household of faith. He doesn’t use the symbolism of a bride here as Paul does in Ephesians. Listen to what He says:
“Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.”
Now notice the two times of His coming–at the rapture and then at the revelation.
We read: “And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.”
Did you hear it?
The evidence is that the house will be broken through when Jesus comes. If ministers of the Gospel would be faithful in warning their congregations, they would not find many of their number left behind.
Today we have a cheap grace proclaimed that, regardless how you live, if you profess to be saved, you are ready for the rapture.
Hear me, beloved. This is not what the Apostle Paul preached. He declared the rapture to be a reward to which all should persevere to obtain. Now he did not use the word “rapture,” but listen closely and you’ll see what I mean.
First of all, let me make it clear to you that what the Bible calls the first resurrection takes place at the end of the tribulation. Strangely enough, the only ones seen resurrected are those who died during the tribulation, which would have to indicate there was a rapture before the tribulation.
In Rev. 20:4 we read where John says, “And I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.. .” We then read: “This is the first resurrection.”
Now I want you to know that I am not looking forward to that first resurrection. The great number of saints will be in that first resurrection and not in the rapture. That is why it is called THE FIRST RESURRECTION.
On the other hand, the Apostle Paul writes in Phil. 3 of not having his own righteousness but the righteousness of Jesus Christ which is of God by faith, “That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.”
Was the Apostle Paul questioning that he might not make the resurrection?
No. Here you must understand the Greek, for what Paul was saying was that he “might attain unto the resurrection out from among the dead.”
At the time of rapture there will be a selecting out from among the dead those who will be raptured to attend the time of feasting called the marriage supper of the Lamb. That’s why we are told, “Blessed are they who are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And we’re reminded, “H is wife hath made herself ready!” If you’ re looking for the rapture, you will have to get ready for it.
Notice again what Paul writes, “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after.. . Christ.” This is what God wants to see. He wants to see our heart attitude bent on serving Him. David was a man after God’s own heart. He sinned grievously, but in his heart he repented and always wanted to live for God. So Paul says that he hasn’t yet attained this goal – he hasn’t arrived. But this is his bold objective. Do you see it?
Hear him as he says: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
The “high calling” is better translated “upward calling.” It is a prize to be gained to be caught upward when Jesus comes–when the dead in Christ rise first, and we who are alive and remain are caught up to be with our Blessed Lord.” Hallelujah.
Paul says this is a prize to which he presses. So we believe the rapture to be a reward.
Notice, he admonishes, “Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. (Phil. 3:9-15)
Today there is a lot of confusion as to whether the church will go through the tribulation. God promises that if we have a desire to be ready for the coming of the Lord, He will not only get us ready, revealing these truths to us from His Word, but keep us ready by the power of H is indwelling Holy Spirit.
I believe if we will walk in the light of His Word and in obedience to His will, the blood of Jesus Christ covers and cleanses us and keeps us ready for His coming.
In I Thes. 5:23-24 we read, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly;, and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”
That’s a big assignment. That means the God who will miraculously transform your physical body into the likeness of Christ’ s glorified body can preserve you now. That means money you give to the hospital can go to help reach the lost.
You say–you mean God can preserve me—spirit, soul and body?
Indeed He can and He will if you will let Him. The next verse reads: “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it!”
God, who calls you to be ready for the rapture, says He will do it He will get you ready and keep you ready. All it takes is your willingness to follow the formula that He has laid out in His Word, which we have given to you today.
And your spirit will bear witness to the truth, because this is God’s revelation concerning the need of readiness for the rapture which we believe is one of the rewards at Christ’s coming.
Finally, if you have a question as to who will be left behind to go through the tribulation, turn to Rev. 7.
We said there were four groups pictured here–those who are raptured who reign with Christ as kings and priests, a select company. Then there are those who die for their faith and the Word of God and are given white robes signifying they are saved during the tribulation but are martyred. Thirdly, mention is made of the 144,000 who are the sealed of Israel, the remnant that will turn to Christ their Messiah and receive the Holy Ghost with the seal of God in their foreheads.
Now, I want you to notice the fourth group. John writes, “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.”
Verse 13, “And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?”
In consternation he wonders, who is this great multitude which no man could number? He had seen the raptured saints, the martyred who were given white robes, and the remnant of Israel. So he inquires, who are these?
Notice the answer. We read, “And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Do you see it?
Here is a great multitude which misses the rapture. They go through the tribulation (the great one) GREEK; and amidst the purging, purifying fires they are found washing their robes. They are not given robes, as that would speak of salvation. They already had robes, but their robes were defiled, spotted, and in need of cleansing by the blood of the Lamb. In the midst of tribulation they come clean.
Beloved, hear me. Now is the time to come clean, to separate from the world, to turn from sin, to be made pure and holy.
When the Lord comes, He is coming for H is saints. The word “saint” in the Greek is the same word for a sanctified person, who is separated unto God, a holy person. That’s why we’re told to follow peace and holiness without which no man shall see the Lord.
To sum up, let me read from G. Campbell Morgan who says: “Personally, I am convinced that not all Christian people will be taken to be with Christ on His Return, but only those who by the attitude of their lives are ready for his appearance.”
Today’s message is one that needs to be preached in every evangelical church in America. Too long have we been under the delusion that it doesn’t matter how we live so long as we profess faith in Christ. We’re cautioned lest what we do be seen as works, and reminded that works do not save us.
The truth is, we are saved by grace through faith, and not of works. But when our Lord comes, He says He will reward every man according to his works. And He doesn’t see us as saved and unsaved. Rather, He divided humanity into four divisions–“He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And behold, I come quickly;, and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.. . And be ye therefore ready also, for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh.”