The CALGARY PRESS reported that the show depicting the second coming of Christ, complete with worldwide catastrophes, resulted in hundreds of calls from frightened TV viewers.The program was portrayed as originating from a New York television station’s newsroom and reported such catastrophes as earthquakes, tidal waves and many other similar disasters.
Well, some day the return of our Lord will be a reality. It would almost be better never to have been born than to miss the event. Yet, if we understand the Scriptures correctly, there will be many who looked for our Lord’s coming who will miss the event we call the “rapture.”
As Basil Mowell writes: “Some believe that all who profess to be Christians will be taken. But our Lord’s parable of the wise and foolish virgins who all went out to meet the bridegroom contradicts such an opinion.” (PROPHETIC WITNESS)
A booklet entitled, MILLIONS MISSING, relates what many believe will happen. We’re told: “The sudden removal of millions from the earth will bring about a mysterious world crisis; confusion, chaos, and panic such as this world has never known will engulf the whole earth! Scores of driverless cars will rush pell-mell down the highways piling up in horrible wrecks. Big trucks carrying tens of thousands of gallons of explosive gasoline and chemicals will wreck and cause fires and explosions that cannot be described in words. Buses and trains loaded with passengers will pile up–wrecked. Many giant airliners will plunge to the ground when the born-again pilots are removed from the controls! Death, misery, and confusion will be everywhere ! ‘
Our Lord declared concerning His coming: “The days will come, when ye shall desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and ye shall not see it.” (Luke 17:22)
Could it be that many who expect to be raptured will miss it? What saith the Scriptures?
The Apostle Paul speaks of our Lord’s return in two aspects–His appearing and His kingdom. In 2 Tim. 4:1, we’re reminded that when the Lord comes He will “judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom.” That is, our Lord is seen coming for His own who are ready in an event we call the “rapture” when He “appears” and quickly snatches away His own. This is when many expect all manner of catastrophes to happen as the saints are caught away to be with the Lord. Then upon this earth comes great tribulation, the wrath of God upon the sinner, after which our Lord is seen returning to this earth to establish His kingdom.
All we can say is, don’t miss the day when Christ appears! It will be hell on earth to be left behind to go through that awful tribulation that is coming. On television, the story of Charles Manson was shown, called “Helter Skelter.” Many Christians protested the showing of the film because Charles called himself “Jesus Christ” and led his hippie followers to enact cruel, bloody murders such as the killing of Hollywood actress, Sharon Tate, who was pregnant at the time. When asked what the word “Helter Skelter” meant, Manson related there is coming a time when the whole world will be at war with unrestrained violence, bloodshed, and mass killings such as they were doing.
Indeed, the Bible does forecast such a day when the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit will be lifted. If the thought were to occur in an evil man’s mind to kill, he will kill. If he sees a woman coming down the street and the thought of rape comes into his mind, he will rape her there on the street.
As Dr. William F. Beirnes points out: “In this dispensation of the Holy Ghost, the devil is restrained or hindered in fulfilling all of his intentions against the Church and against individuals.” However, he notes: “In the Tribulation, after the rapture of the Bride of Christ, that restraint of the Holy Spirit is to be lifted, or ‘taken away.'”
Can you begin to imagine what it will be like? As Dr. Beirnes suggests: “Sin, violence, and bloodshed would be so rampant that it would soon exceed that of the Antediluvian world which God had to destroy.”
And yet, the evidence is, my friends, that many who anticipated the rapture will be left behind to go through this awful period. That is why it is so very important to wake up to the realization that possibly instead of “millions missing” when Jesus comes, there will be “millions left behind” when He returns.
Think with me for a moment how it was when Jesus came the first time. All of the religious leaders had believed in the coming of the Messiah but when Jesus came it was altogether different than what they had planned. They expected our Lord to come as a king when He came as a lowly babe in a manger. Although the Bible was filled with prophecies concerning His coming, they missed the true meaning of these prophecies and crucified the Christ they were expecting.
So we can’t help but wonder if our Lord’s second coming will not be similar to His first coming with many missing the event. Jesus testified, saying there would be those who desire to see one of the days of the Son of man, and shall not see it.
Take the parable of the Ten Virgins. All looked for the coming of the bridegroom but only half were ready when he actually came.
Perhaps you wonder what happened to the “foolish virgins.” Did they not miss the marriage?
In a related passage, our Lord warns: “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.” (See Luke 12:35-40) Most people don’t know this passage is in the Bible but it indicates the possibility of some who will miss the wedding who are told to be ready for our Lord when He returns from the wedding.
Oh, beloved, how important to be living for Christ so that when He comes, we will be ready!
Our Lord goes on to warn: “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.” (Luke 12:39-49)
We close nearly every broadcast with this warning: “Be ye therefore ready.” We hope and pray that our audience will heed this message because we know what the Scripture says about the “house being broken through” with some who are ready, and others who will be left behind.
Now, should anyone doubt that a believer would be left behind with unbelievers, just continue reading in this same chapter where Jesus speaks of the servant who says in his heart, “My lord delayeth his coming,” and who begins to live carelessly.
What happens to such an one? Listen. We read, “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 (cut him off), and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. ‘
I realize many will write to say we’re teaching a partial rapture, or that we’re preaching works for salvation, when all we are doing is to present the true picture of what it will be like when Jesus comes. How sad for vast multitudes who will be left behind at the rapture to go through the tribulation!
In Rev. 7:9, we read of a “great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues…clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.”
We readily recognize these people as being believers, for the “white robes” speak of the righteousness bestowed when we place faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ for our sins.
However, the question is asked: “What are these which are strayed in white robes? and whence came they?”
The answer is heard, “Sir, thou knowest…These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
Did you notice, concerning this great multitude which came out of great tribulation, it is said that they “washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
Is it not apparent that at the coming of the Lord their robes were defiled? And in the midst of persecution, suffering and martyrdom, they repented of their defilement.
Concerning the church in Sardis, we read of a “few” that “have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.” (Rev. 3:4)
What would the Lord say if He were to check our robes? What if He were to look at our churches? Would He find a “few” who have not defiled their garments?
As D. M. Panton observes: “These ‘few’ walking in sanctity, cannot be the only regenerate souls in Sardis; for the Lord accepts the whole church as an ‘ecclesia.’ However, in all of the Seven Churches of Revelation there are the select ‘few’ to be rewarded as ‘overcomers’.”
As Panton sees it: “The Holy Son of God cannot present unto Himself a trifling, indifferent, unsanctified body of nominal church members. His church must be made like unto Himself, the fairest and noblest expression of redeemed humanity that only His sufferings and death could ever produce.”
Says Panton: “Our Lord’s outburst from heaven to catch His bride away is either a comforting opiate for disobedient disciples, or else it is one of the most rousing of all truths– it cannot be both!”
Too long we have assumed that our readiness for rapture depends solely upon our being saved. But if this were true, then why all of the admonitions and warnings to believers to be ready for our Lord’s return?
Again, to be left behind when Jesus comes wouldn’t necessarily mean that we are lost, but rather that we must go through the purging fires of the tribulation, from which we would be expected to come through purified.
Peter speaks of the manifold testings believers were going through in his day, declaring: “That 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 honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.” (I Pet. 1:7)
Even Herman, believed to be an associate of the Apostle Paul, wrote of the trials of the early church as “a type of the great tribulation that is coming.” He admonished believers, saying: “If ye then prepare yourselves, and repent with all your heart, and turn to the Lord, it will be possible for you to escape it, if your heart be pure and spotless, and ye spend the rest of your lives serving the Lord blamelessly.” (From the Shepherd of Hermas)
Thus, our Lord has admonished us, saying: “Watch ye therefore, and pray always that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass and to stand before the Son of man.” (Luke 21:36)
Are we watching and praying to escape the coming tribulation? Or, do we take for granted that we shall escape?
Paul relates how our Lord loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Is this our state–our position? Are we holy and without blemish?
Again, may we be reminded of the necessity of having on the white robes of Christ’s righteousness and of having them kept clean. Our Lord admonishes, “Behold, I come as a thief, Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” (Rev. 16:15)
Notice, too, that when our Lord appears from Heaven on a white horse, we read: “And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.”
How we need to see the importance of having on garments that are clean and white in order to be ready for our Lord’s coming.
Of this we can be certain. If we want to be included in this entourage of saints to be caught upward when Christ comes, we can be ready. Concerning the marriage of the Lamb, we read, “His wife hath made herself ready.”
A wedding is about to take place. If you are not aware of it, or are not preparing for it, the chances are that you are not ready and will be left behind when Jesus comes.
Concerning the Lamb’s wife, we read, “And to her was granted that she should be strayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.”
Did you hear it? Are you looking for Christ’s coming? Is our Lord’s return a “blessed hope”? If so, you will want to make preparation to be ready for this glorious event.
As John declares: “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”
How do we purify ourselves? Peter replies: “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit.” (I Pet. 1:22)
So, dear one, come to Christ today. Repent of all your sins to trust the Saviour Who died for your sins. Then pray for the Holy Spirit’s direction daily. Read the Word and fall in love with Him Who is the Living Word.
Indeed, be ye therefore ready also, for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of man cometh.”