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New American Standard Bible
“But beware of men, for they will hand you over to the courts and scourge you in their synagogues;”
Matthew 10:17
Commentary

Matthew Henry Commentary


10:16-42

Our Lord warned his disciples to prepare for persecution. They were to avoid all things which gave advantage to their enemies, all meddling with worldly or political concerns, all appearance of evil or selfishness, and all underhand measures. Christ foretold troubles, not only that the troubles might not be a surprise, but that they might confirm their faith. He tells them what they should suffer, and from whom. Thus Christ has dealt fairly and faithfully with us, in telling us the worst we can meet with in his service; and he would have us deal so with ourselves, in sitting down and counting the cost. Persecutors are worse than beasts, in that they prey upon those of their own kind. The strongest bonds of love and duty, have often been broken through from enmity against Christ. Sufferings from friends and relations are very grievous; nothing cuts more. It appears plainly, that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus must suffer persecution; and we must expect to enter into the kingdom of God through many tribulations. With these predictions of trouble, are counsels and comforts for a time of trial. The disciples of Christ are hated and persecuted as serpents, and their ruin is sought, and they need the serpent’s wisdom. Be ye harmless as doves. Not only, do nobody any hurt, but bear nobody any ill-will. Prudent care there must be, but not an anxious, perplexing thought; let this care be cast upon God. The disciples of Christ must think more how to do well, than how to speak well. In case of great peril, the disciples of Christ may go out of the way of danger, though they must not go out of the way of duty. No sinful, unlawful means may be used to escape; for then it is not a door of God’s opening. The fear of man brings a snare, a perplexing snare, that disturbs our peace; an entangling snare, by which we are drawn into sin; and, therefore, it must be striven and prayed against. Tribulation, distress, and persecution cannot take away God’s love to them, or theirs to him. Fear Him, who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. They must deliver their message publicly, for all are deeply concerned in the doctrine of the gospel. The whole counsel of God must be made known, Ac 20:27. Christ shows them why they should be of good cheer. Their sufferings witnessed against those who oppose his gospel. When God calls us to speak for him, we may depend on him to teach us what to say. A believing prospect of the end of our troubles, will be of great use to support us under them. They may be borne to the end, because the sufferers shall be borne up under them. The strength shall be according to the day. And it is great encouragement to those who are doing Christ’s work, that it is a work which shall certainly be done. See how the care of Providence extends to all creatures, even to the sparrows. This should silence all the fears of God’s people; Ye are of more value than many sparrows. And the very hairs of your head are all numbered. This denotes the account God takes and keeps of his people. It is our duty, not only to believe in Christ, but to profess that faith, in suffering for him, when we are called to it, as well as in serving him. That denial of Christ only is here meant which is persisted in, and that confession only can have the blessed recompence here promised, which is the real and constant language of faith and love. Religion is worth every thing; all who believe the truth of it, will come up to the price, and make every thing else yield to it. Christ will lead us through sufferings, to glory with him. Those are best prepared for the life to come, that sit most loose to this present life. Though the kindness done to Christ’s disciples be ever so small, yet if there be occasion for it, and ability to do no more, it shall be accepted. Christ does not say that they deserve a reward; for we cannot merit any thing from the hand of God; but they shall receive a reward from the free gift of God. Let us boldly confess Christ, and show love to him in all things.

I have been dismayed at the terrible  comments and pictures on social media that Christians post about our government leaders. As I read through scripture and obey it, I find that I have constantly examine myself to make that what I say and do as a conservative is pleasing to the Lord. Please read:

Christian Submission vs Belligerent Discontentment Before Civil Authorities

 From
Surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus Christ

http://airocross.com/2015/02/05/christian-submission-vs-belligerent-discontentment-before-civil-authorities/#comment-9909

lion

My heart is grieved by the growing discontentment, hostility, and anarchist attitudes by those who profess the name of Jesus Christ in America. As our nation grows more hostile, American Christians must grow more patient, longsuffering, merciful, and compassionate.

As American culture grows more belligerent, we must grow more eager to speak the truth in love and more boldly to proclaim righteousness and the Gospel of Peace.

As civil magistrates grow more intolerant of Christianity, more pluralistic in their views of religion, and more subjective in their rule of law, Christians must grow more in our prayer life petitioning God on behalf of our leaders, that they would be saved by Christ and enable us to live quiet lives.

Instead, professing Christians seem to be growing more belligerent, more disrespectful, more angry toward pagan society and less tolerant and less submissive to governing authorities. And, it seems, we are praying less as demonstrated by the growing hostility and lack of respect for our leaders in government.

So what is going on? As I mentioned in The Law of Nature Is the Law of God, having a wrong view of God’s Law can have severe implications. Additionally, wrong views of how God rules over the nations and how Christians should live in pagan societies can also have severe implications. These wrong views are all related, and, I believe, are responsible for the unbiblical attitudes and behaviors we are seeing among professing Christians today. More than ever, American Christians must stand out from the crowd, demonstrating we belong to God and are citizens of His kingdom.

This article, then, will address the Christian’s duty to submit to governing authorities, and serve as an admonishment to those who are going down the wrong path.

The Rotten Fruit of Dominionism

Let’s consider the rotten fruit of a theology that teaches the Mosaic law is not only still binding, but is binding upon nations to whom it was never given. Moreover, this theology teaches the church has a cultural mandate to redeem or Christianize every fabric and institution of society. Christian Reconstructionists (reformed) and Kingdom-Now Dominionists (charismatic or New Apostolic Reformation) share this common thread. Both have postmillennial views of the kingdom of God, and both want to establish a Christian society.

When one believes the only biblical laws for a nation are those found in the Mosaic law, or when one believes a government is illegitimate when it does not enforce Mosaic law, it can lead to a disposition of not respectfully submitting to civil authorities. Moreover, it fundamentally denies God has sovereignly placed the Christian under all civil authorities, and it can lead to positions that demand resistance and promote violence in the name of justice. Take for instance, Matthew Trewhella, pastor of Mercy Seat Christian Church in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. One must consider whether Trewhella is even qualified for ministry given his rebelliousness and how outsiders look upon him in light of Titus 1:6 and 1 Timothy 3:7 (demonstrated here). In any case, his message titled, “Tyranicide – To Kill a Tyrant“, Trewhella states around minute 24:

Everyone innately knows that it’s an honest and just thing to depose a tyrant…everyone knows it’s a just and noble thing to do, except of course the effeminate, the culture in which we have in this nation now after much conditioning by the media in our country, and the government schools. And also it doesn’t make no [sic] sense to your average butt-faced Christian who’s been raised in American 20th century Christianity, now 21st century Christianity, because they have no idea “[sarcasm] how could killing, how can anything other than love, have anything to do with God?” Right? Am I right? Of course I’m right. It’s the state of Christianity we live in. But anyone who hasn’t been ruined by those two things – rotten American Christianity or American culture…knows perfectly well it’s honorable and just to kill a tyrant. [bold emphasis added]

Trewhella asserts that killing tyrants is somehow a matter of the law of nature, as if it is a work of God’s Law written to the heart of every man. This couldn’t be further from the truth, and in fact, asserting such is calling God a liar. Anyone who takes up the sword to carry out revenge will die by the sword, as God considers this murder. Jesus affirmed this when Peter sought to kill the servant of the high priest (Matthew 26:51-52). Such a murderer deserves not only capital punishment by the state, but eternal punishment in hell under the wrath of God. Nevertheless, Trewhella determines it is “honorable and just to kill a tyrant.”

Beginning around minute 44, Trewhella states:

But that’s [the homosexual agenda] what they want to push upon our nation, that’s what they want to legalize in our courts, within our statutes, make normal within our media, and the men allow it. The effeminacy in this country is sick. The dumbing down that men have been influenced by is pathetic. It’s time for men in this nation to raise up and start killing some tyrants. Plain and simple. [bold emphasis added]

Based on the above, Trewhella is referring to any politician, including the President of the United States, who endorses and promotes the homosexual agenda, and he is suggesting they should be assassinated.

Finish  HERE

Spurgeon,

Few men love service. Man prefers to be his own master, to do as he pleases according to “his own sweet will” and, like the winds, to be under no control whatever. But he who spurns the counsel of God, despises His Law and tramples on His commands, commits an act of suicide to his own liberty! Those who act thus, while they seek to be free, become the truest slaves, for, when they give a loose rein to their lusts, they find them like wild horses dragging them irresistibly along. Passions indulged turn into habits—and those habits hold them fast in their iron grip and they cease to be free any longer. He is the freeman who serves God and not the man who scorns the yoke of Jesus. He is the freeman whose shoulders bear the yoke of Christ. But he who refuses to serve Him is a slave. He who will not obey Jesus, obeys a tyrant master called Satan, or worse still, himself, for, after all, the greatest tyrant to a man is his own sinful self! There is no slavery harder to endure than the despotism of evil habits when they have grown strong upon a man and fixed their chains upon his neck. The service of Jesus is perfect liberty—those who wear the collar of Jesus find it to be a royal badge which makes them far more honorable than would the Order of the Garter, or the Bath. There is nothing that can so exalt a man as to make him a servant of Jesus! And the man who bends his neck willingly to serve Him, manifests the greatest wisdom.

What is it to serve Jesus? The text says, “If anyone serve Me, him My Father will honor.” Well, we can serve Him in the faith that we hold, in the sufferings we endure and very much in the acts we perform.

First, we can serve Him in the faith that we hold. This is true service. I believe certain Doctrines of God because God says they are true—and the only authority I have for their truth is the Word of God. I receive such-and-such Doctrines, not because I can prove them to be compatible with reason—not because my judgment accepts them—but because God says they are true! Now this is one of the best services we can render to God—to submit ourselves to Him in our belief of what He has revealed and ask Him to fix His Truths in our hearts and make us obey them. There are some who have an idea that doctrinal belief is nothing, but I tell you again, one of the highest services we can render to God is to fully believe in the Doctrines of His Word. So far from doctrinal error being a thing of no moment, it is a great sin because the Word of God is plain—and he who does not, by searching, discover the Truth—sins against God in the proportion in which he errs from His Word. But he who manfully proclaims the whole Truth of God and he who heartily receives it, alike, obey God and perform one of the highest services that can be rendered to the Most High!

Secondly, we honor Him, also, when we suffer for His name’s sake. When, with patience, we bear the fires of persecution. When, with calmness and resignation, we listen to the lies and calumnies that fly abroad. When we continue in well-doing though all manner of evil is said against us on account of our devotion to Jesus, then we serve Him and God is thereby honored and glorified. Our Lord Jesus bids us, in that day, rejoice and leap for joy, for great is our reward in Heaven, for so persecuted they the Prophets who were before us. And, moreover, when our suffering does not spring from our enemies, but when God, Himself, lays us on the bed of affliction, we honor Him when, worn with pain and tossed from side to side, we are calm and patient under the sickness and say—

“Father, I wait Your daily will—
You shall divide my portion still.
Grant me on earth what seems to You best,
Till death and Heaven reveal the rest”

The patient bearing of poverty is a service to God. The calm endurance of pain is honoring the Father—submission to His will in all the proceedings of His Providence is the very essence of devotion.

Thirdly, we can serve God in the outward acts we perform. And that is the highest form of service. Indeed, if we do not serve God thus, we do not really serve Him at all. “If anyone serve Me, him My Father will honor,” says Christ. And, in proportion as a Christian man serves God in his outward life and conversation, shall he receive honor of God. There are two or three ways of doing that. Some may serve God by the performance of ecclesiastical duties, as they are called. Others, by the more private duties of religion. But others, and more frequently, by the acts of daily life. Those who preach the Gospel from love to God and for His Glory, serve Him, and shall be honored in their labor. The deacon who toils for the Church of God is serving Him, and shall be blessed in what he does. The Sunday school teacher serves God. And each of you who have been preaching in the open air, or have, in smaller places of worship, been testifying to the Truth of God and now have come here to take the rest which all tired soldiers need—each of you who have been engaged in humbler work, teaching a little class, or giving away a tract—you have each and all, in some measure, served God!

But if you have not served God in this way, today, you can serve God tomorrow in your shop, or in your family. The servant can honor God even when she sets the things out for the daily meal and when she clears them away. The nurse can serve God when, with tender hands, she binds up the wounds of the distressed and suffering. And the merchant, also, when he makes honesty the law of his dealings and afterwards, with a liberal hand, dispenses some of his goods to feed the poor. Do not think it is necessary to be a clergyman and wear a gown in order to serve God—you may serve Him behind the counter, at the plow, or driving your horses! Whatever your hand finds to do may be done to the Glory of God! Common actions reveal the essence of true piety. Those things which we call common, God does not think so. When they are done with a right motive and in a right spirit, they become as great, in God’s sight, as the sermons of the minister who preaches to the largest audience! And I take it that there will be people before the Throne of God, who, for acts which they have done in private, will be stationed nearer to the Savior than some of those who occupied very high positions in the Church! They went foremost in the day of battle and received great applause from men, yet, God knows that they were not one-half so faithful to their Savior as the poorest cottager, or the meanest peasant who, for the good of souls, and the Glory of God, bent his knees before the Lord in earnest and believing supplication.

– C.H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)
taken from: The Christian’s Service and Honor, Sermon No. 2651, Delivered at New Park Street Chapel, Southwark on a Lord’s Day Evening in the Autumn of 1857.

from Herescope

Old Biblical Prophecy

Note to reader: The article below is an example of what evangelical prophecy leaders and organizations used to teach 20-40 years ago. Not so long ago, before the postmodern prophecy paradigm era, this sort of article was commonplace. Writings such as this served as an encouragement to the reader to 1) expect the Lord’s imminent return and 2) be ready to meet the Lord “here, there or in the air.” Believers exhorted one another that He could return at any time because all events on earth were coinciding to fulfill Bible prophecy, and that before the end the Gospel of salvation should be shared far and wide, especially to family and friends. As yet another sign of the times we note that publishing such an article today, especially with this eschatology, is likely to be met with scoffings (2 Pet. 3:2), even open disbelief (2 Pet. 3:4). For some of you, this may be the first time you have ever encountered this (now) old-fashioned Bible prophecy teaching. Read and consider: what if it is true?

And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. 

Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. 

Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed. In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back. 

Remember Lot’s wife. 

Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it. I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. And they answered and said unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Wheresoever the body is, thither will the eagles be gathered together.
(Luke 17:26-37)

A Recurrence of the Times of Noah and Lot

Johan Malan, Mossel Bay, South Africa (July 2014)

Read Luke 17:26-37.

The Bible draws a comparison between the utter sinfulness that prevailed during the ancient times of Noah and Lot, and a similar situation which will be evident just prior to the second coming of Christ. History repeats itself in various ways – also with regard to the divine wrath which is poured out upon people who blaspheme God by continuously despising and rejecting the spiritual and moral principles of His kingdom. The following aspects of the comparison between ancient and modern times are pointed out in the Bible:

  • Apostatising. In the times of Noah and Lot spiritual decline was widespread as virtually all people had forgotten God and gave free reign to the dictates of their depraved nature. They were wicked in every intent of their thoughts and not inclined to pursue God’s righteousness (Gen. 6:5). The same situation is characteristic of our time: “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons (1 Tim. 4:1). Under the influence of the devil, extreme evil will prevail in the lives of people, and they will be “led away with the error of the wicked” (2 Pet. 3:17).
  • Moral depravity. In the times of Noah and Lot the most licentious lifestyles were socially acceptable, among which was also sodomy. The men of Sodom took no interest in the daughters of Lot but were violently intent on sodomising the angels (Gen. 19:1-10). Sexual perversion, particularly with reference to homosexual relations and practices, will again become the socially acceptable norm rather than the exception (Rom. 1:26-27). The family structure of society inevitably starts crumbling when government and church leaders also condone and openly accept these practices as the natural consequence of the freedom of choice which is seen to be part of basic human rights.
  • An apostate culture becomes dominant. In the times of Noah and Lot, the extensive apostatising and moral decline in society gave rise to an utterly sinful culture which was completely averse to God and His holiness. These wicked people persecuted those who promoted God’s standard of honourable conduct. When Lot tried to oppose them they shouted at him and said: “Stand back! … Now we will deal worse with you … and [they] came near to break down the door” (Gen. 19:9). Lot had to lock his door and hide himself in the house. In the end-time, an extremely sinful culture will again become dominant and people will generally be “without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, treacherous, rash…” (2 Tim. 3:3-4). These distorted inclinations will move the nations to conclude a covenant with the Antichrist who is described in the Bible as “the man of sin” and “the son of perdition” (2 Thess. 2:3; Rev. 13:3). During his reign, sin and unrighteousness will proliferate. The small minority of true believers will be heavily persecuted and forced to hide from the perpetrators of evil behind locked doors, while also trying to evade hostile governments that will hunt them down.
  • Anarchy and violence. In the times of Noah and Lot anarchy prevailed as people in these lawless and promiscuous societies did just as they pleased. Violence was the most common means used to resolve conflicts: “… the earth is filled with violence through them” (Gen. 6:13). That means that there was no central government with the capacity to maintain law and order, and for that reason people took the law into their own hands. Gangsterism, robbery and terrorism were the inevitable consequences of this state of affairs. In the end-time, communities will also become disorganised and lapse into a state in which nobody would be safe – not even children on their way to school, or within the school premises itself. Terrorism, military coups, wars and rumours of wars will dominate the news scene (Matt. 24:6-7). Violent behaviour will occur in conjunction with other forms of immorality and apostasy, and even when God starts punishing and judging these wicked people during the tribulation period they will not stop sinning and rebelling against Him: “But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues … did not repent of their murders or their sorceries or their sexual immorality or their thefts” (Rev. 9:20-21).
  • Materialism and vanity. In the times of Noah and Lot people were excessively materialistic and only lived for the things of this world – particularly with regard to making big investments, amassing wealth, attending parties, revelling in eating and drinking and enjoying all the pleasures of life. They did not come to their senses before it was too late: “Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:28-30). In the end-time, many people will also indulge in drinking and licentious pleasure-seeking in an effort to forget the sorrows of life. To them, the sudden coming of the heavenly Bridegroom for His bride will be like a snare which will take them captive for the judgements of God during the subsequent tribulation period: “But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth” (Luke 21:34-35). The wealth of rich people, who practise corruption and exploit others to achieve their goals, will be of no avail when the judgements of God are poured out upon the earth: “Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries that are coming upon you! … You have heaped up treasure in the last days. Indeed the wages of the labourers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on the earth in pleasure and luxury; you have fattened your hearts as in a day of slaughter” (Jas. 5:1-5).
  • Scoffing at believers and at the Word of God. In the times of Noah and Lot people scoffed at the believers and chose to ignore the prophetic warnings of forthcoming judgements. They regarded them as far-fetched speculation and continued with their reckless lives of fleshly pleasures and covetousness. Only Noah and his family (eight persons) were not guilty of this attitude and were worthy to escape God’s judgement of the Flood. A similar situation of the despising of biblical prophecies will repeat itself in the end-time: “… knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of His coming?” (2 Pet. 3:3-4). Those on the narrow way are a small minority.
  • Despising the time of grace. In the times of Noah and Lot God gave the degenerate sinners reasonable time to repent of their evil ways. They refused to repent and thereby sealed their own fate. They had only themselves to blame for their downfall and punishment. In the end-time, the great majority of people will not repent from their evil ways but rather embrace the false hope of manmade peace initiatives until it will be too late to escape divine judgements: “For when they say, Peace and safety! then sudden destruction comes upon them. … And they shall not escape” (1 Thess. 5:3).
  • The escape of believers. In the times of Noah and Lot God offered a way of escape to the believers at the critical moment before He turned on the wicked with wrathful punishment (Gen. 6:13-14; 19:15-17). The order of events was: First the prophetic warnings about the impending judgements, then the safeguarding of the believers who took heed of the appeal to repent, and ultimately the outpouring of wrath upon the wicked. Now, in the end-time, the world has repeatedly been warned against the impending judgements of God during the coming great tribulation. Since believers are not destined for these judgements we should prepare to escape them by expecting God’s Son from heaven, “even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10; cf. 5:9).
  • The tragedy of religious formalism. In the times of Noah and Lot there was no security for nominal believers whose hearts were still devoted to the things of this world. Lot’s wife was a type of those believers who only have an outward form of godliness, but are still spiritually dead. This false pretence cost her the loss of her life at the last moment (Gen. 19:26). At the time of Christ’s second coming a similar situation will prevail. For that reason we are warned in the parable on the ten virgins that those among them whose hearts are not filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit will be left behind when the Bridegroom comes (Matt. 25:1-13). Self-justifying, lukewarm Christians who are deceived and erroneously regard themselves as “very good” are abominable to the Lord (Rev. 3:15-17; 2 Cor. 11:2-4).
  • Sudden disaster. In the times of Noah and Lot an awful disaster struck this world soon after the evacuation of the believers. Death and destruction occurred as never before in history (Gen. 7:4; 19:24-25). After the rapture, God’s judgements will again be poured out upon the wicked: “Behold, the day of the Lord comes, fierce, with wrath and raging anger, to make the land and the whole earth a desolation, and to destroy out of it its sinners” (Isa. 13:9; AB). The Lord Jesus warned that shortly before His second coming there will be a great tribulation as never before on earth, and if those days had not been shortened nobody would survive that terrible time (Matt. 24:21-22; 29-30).
  • The blessing offered through withholders. In the times of Noah and Lot the wicked did not realise how many privileges and blessings they enjoyed due to the presence of a few believers in their midst. God was prepared to pardon a whole city if there were only ten believers in it (Gen. 18:23-32). When this small group of believers were suddenly removed to a place of safety, the wicked were rapidly enfolded by the darkness of divine judgements. In the end-time, true believers also act as the withholders of evil, but the world will only appreciate the value of their role when they are gone. The church dispensation will continue until “he who now restrains [the true church indwelt by the Holy Spirit] is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one [the Antichrist] will be revealed. … The coming lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, … that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess. 2:7-12).
  • Prophetic blindness. In the times of Noah people scoffed at the builders of the ark, and in their ignorance were unaware of their peril “until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (Matt. 24:39).

Significance of the rapture

God’s end-time judgement upon sinners is a fact which cannot be denied. The physical deliverance of believers before the beginning of judgements is an equally important biblical fact which should always be kept in mind: “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36). Paul further explains this wonderful promise: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:16-18). What a wonderful future to look forward to!

We should react to the promise of the rapture in a number of ways if we wish to enjoy its full blessing. People who deny this promise are out of touch with the prophetic word, they forfeit many of its blessings, and are in danger of remaining behind and mistaking the Antichrist for the true Christ. We should watch out for spiritual deception and always be ready to stand before the Son of Man: “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Matt. 25:13). “Therefore also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not expect Him” (Matt. 24:44).

The following are the blessings that are in store for believers who heed the command to be ready for the rapture:

Good news in the prophecies

The pretribulation rapture is the good news element in a dark scenario of end-time prophecies. Without this promise Christians would be left only with the bad news about the coming of the Antichrist and the tribulation period which they will have to face before Jesus comes. Their chances of surviving all the apocalyptic disasters of the great tribulation, as well as the battle of Armageddon, will be slim indeed. A situation like that can be equated to the Flood without the ark, or the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah without any provision for the escape of the believers from the scene of God’s wrath. Such a situation would be highly demoralising and contradict a clear biblical principle that true believers are never the objects of God’s wrath: “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation …” (1 Thess. 5:9). The righteous will not be destroyed with the wicked (cf. Gen. 18:23).

People who are cynical about the promise of the rapture and do not heed the exhortation to be prepared to escape the coming tribulation period reveal a very irresponsible attitude. What would have been the consequence for Noah and his family (and for the future survival of the entire human race!) if Noah had argued as follows: “God is a God of love and I do not really believe that He will send a flood to judge all people; therefore, I am not going to build an ark to escape this so-called judgement.” Or what would have happened to Lot and his family had he taken the following stand: “I think the prophesied judgement upon Sodom and Gomorrah should be interpreted symbolically. I do not have to escape for my life. Even if the disaster does occur I believe that God will protect us from His wrath here in this place.” Similar arguments are often heard today.

The coming judgements during the tribulation period are irrefutable biblical facts. Jesus said there will be great tribulation such as has not been since the beginning of the world (Matt. 24:21), and that we should be ready to escape it. The rapture is part of the good news of the gospel of our Lord Jesus. He came to this sin-indulging world to pay the price for the salvation of sinners. He then returned to heaven to prepare a place for us, and will come back to take us away to our heavenly abode. If we are truly born again we will be worthy to escape the horrors of the coming tribulation on earth by way of the rapture. We do not have to despair at the knowledge of what is coming upon the world since there is a wonderful element of good news in the prophetic word.

A correct future expectation

If we believe in the pre-tribulation rapture we have the assurance of a truly biblical future expectation. This belief does not in any way contradict other biblical truths. This end-time perspective honours the Lord Jesus and recognises Him as the key to all prophecy in Scripture, “for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Rev. 19:10). Christians should remain focused on Him and wait for His sudden appearance – not for the Antichrist’s. Those who deny Him will remain behind after the rapture. Having rejected the way of escape and salvation offered by the true Christ, they will have to endure the Antichrist’s dictatorship and the terrible judgements to follow. What they experience on earth will be a direct result of the seals broken by the Lamb in heaven. Never deny Jesus Christ His central position in biblical prophecies. To expect His imminent return, and to arrange your life accordingly, is a command which is intended to be a strong, positive motivation to all Christians of all ages.

A motivation for steadfastness

The coming of the heavenly Bridegroom will occur during a time of religious compromise and worldliness. There will be a great falling away from the truth of God’s Word. A relatively small group of evangelical Christians will shine like lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation (Phil. 2:15). As in the times of Noah and Lot, the earth will be filled with violence, materialism, and sexual perversion. Unfortunately, the spirit of unrighteousness and immorality will also take its toll among Christians. They will relax their vigilance and make downward adjustments to their spiritual standards: “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Matt. 24:12). Some Christians will become backslidden or discouraged in the work of the Lord.

Inactive Christians often compromise their dedication to the Lord and their responsibility to serve Him faithfully. Their spiritual decline may manifest itself in various ways. The most common way of backsliding is to abandon the need for sanctification and to become pleasure-seekers who attend worldly parties where people eat and drink to excess. They also become critical of evangelical Christians who do not approve of their depraved ways. The Lord Jesus warned against such sinful behaviour and countered it by using the prospect of His sudden, unexpected return as a positive motivation to remain steadfast to the end: “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. … But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites” (Matt. 24:45-51).

Correctly determining and prioritising works

To expect the coming of the Lord Jesus before the tribulation period, guides your actions in the right direction. You prepare for His coming and not for the coming of the Antichrist. The concept of the rapture explicitly confronts you with your responsibility to give account of yourself before the judgement seat of Christ immediately after being caught up to heavenly places (2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:12). The following crowns will be awarded to the faithful:

  • The incorruptible crown for holiness (1 Cor. 9:24-27). A life of this nature is characterised by the power of the Holy Spirit which enables a believer to abide in Christ, resist the temptations of sin and spiritual deception, and to keep on serving the Lord despite severe adversity and opposition. All the other crowns are dependant upon the believer’s sanctification.
  • The crown of rejoicing for soul-winners (1 Thess. 2:19). When the saving grace of the Lord Jesus is proclaimed, people are invited to accept it by faith, thereby obtaining the promise of eternal life. We were commissioned to be Christ’s witnesses everywhere on earth (Acts 1:8) but not all believers are engaged in fulfilling their calling.
  • The crown of life for Christian martyrs (Rev. 2:10). All those who have suffered or even died for their faith, will be rewarded. This category also includes believers who were severely tested but carried their cross with perseverance (Jas. 1:12).
  • The crown of glory for faithful shepherds (1 Pet. 5:2-4). Peter makes it clear that the faithful shepherds are those who did not fulfil their ministry by constraint, or for dishonest gain, or for status considerations. False teachers who proclaim lies will not share in the rapture to appear before the judgement seat of Christ, since they do not belong to Him and are destined for perdition (2 Pet. 2:1; 2 Tim. 4:3-4).
  • The crown of righteousness for those who loved the appearing of the Lord (2 Tim. 4:8). To love His coming calls for dissociation from the depraved world and its (mostly) corrupt leaders while pursuing the kingdom of Christ. Believers are citizens of this heavenly kingdom over which Christ will reign as King on earth after His second coming (Phil. 3:20-21).

The fact that our works will be judged after the rapture, and that only those with eternal value will be rewarded, is of great significance in helping us to devote ourselves to objectives that are higher than the material things of this perishable world. After conversion, our lives should yield the fruit of the Spirit and we should not waste time and resources on earthly things, pleasure or futile works. After the foundation of faith in the Lord Jesus has been laid in our lives we should take care to walk according to the Spirit and not according to the flesh: “… let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. … Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble, every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire” (1 Cor. 3:10-13).

Will you be found a worthy servant or will you stand before the judgement seat of Christ on that day empty-handed, saved as by fire? (1 Cor. 3:15). If you lose sight of the possibility of the Lord’s imminent return you may lapse into complacency, spiritual inactivity, and even into sin: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night. … You therefore, beloved, since you know these things beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and for ever” (2 Pet. 3:10, 17-18).

The faithful and wise servant keeps himself busy with the work of the Lord, always realising that the time to work for his Master is running out. The Lord Jesus Himself said: “I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4). The night of God’s judgements during the great tribulation is fast approaching. Spiritually speaking, the tribulation will be one of the darkest periods in the entire history of humanity – and that should motivate us to work with greater dedication and commitment to the Lord while we are still in the day of grace.

Motivation for holiness

One of the strongest motivations that the promise of the rapture instils into a Christian is that of holiness. As members of the bridal church we should commit ourselves to the challenge of being presented to the heavenly Bridegroom as chaste virgins. That implies the responsibility to be vigilant by not allowing the wicked one to pervert or corrupt our minds and lives (2 Cor. 11:2-3). Jesus Christ gave Himself to sanctify and cleanse the church that He might present it to Himself holy and without spot or blemish (Eph. 5:25-27). We have a distinct responsibility to use the means of grace at our disposal to walk in the ways of the Lord and to become holy in all our conduct (1 Pet. 1:15). “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord” (2 Cor. 7:1).

If we abide in Christ, we will have confidence when He appears and not be ashamed before Him (1 John 2:28). However, should we lose sight of His imminent coming and fail to live accordingly we may lapse into complacency, spiritual passiveness, and even into sin (Matt. 24:48-51).

Hope during trials and afflictions

Under the dark shadow of trials and afflictions, when our prospects on earth look bleak, the belief in Christ’s coming for us at the rapture is a light at the end of the tunnel. Through many sorrows and suffering, millions of Christians have clung desperately to the promise of the resurrection and our union with the Lord at the rapture. It gave them strength to endure, counting earthly things and even their own lives as of no account so that they might win eternity with Christ. So, take courage, lift up your head, and expect the coming of the Lord, knowing your future is safe and sure in His hands.

A sense of destiny

Like Abraham we should see ourselves as strangers and sojourners in a world that “lies under the sway of the wicked one” (1 John 5:18). Since our future is not here, we need a vision of the city with foundations, whose builder and maker is God (Heb. 11:10). In our pilgrimage through this world, we need a strong sense of destiny. When the Lord comes for us at the rapture, He will take us to our eternal home in the new Jerusalem (1 Cor. 2:9; John 14:2; Rev. 21:2).

We should not identify ourselves with this world and become one with its materialism, pleasure-seeking and moral and spiritual depravity. We should proclaim the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvellous light. The unbelievers around us are in spiritual darkness, but through our testimony we should show them the way to the Saviour, who is the light of the world.

While serving the Lord as faithful witnesses, we should always keep our eye on Him as “the bright and morning star” (Rev. 22:16) that shines above the dark horizon of a troubled and hostile world. The morning star tells us the night is far spent and the day is at hand. Before Jesus appears as the Sun of Righteousness, when every eye shall see Him, Christians will have an awesome meeting with Him, the Bright and Morning Star, in the air!

By Rich Monson

Over 380,000 Christians were martyred simply for their faith worldwide every year at this point. That average was 10 yrs ago, it has gone up since then, and the more Islam spreads so will those numbers. Pray for the persecuted church in Sudan, Arabia, Iran, India, and prepare for what will come upon us here.

A great read from a well researched view and heart-wrenching is, “Their Blood Cries Out.” By Paul Marshall. Reads like a well done documentary mixed with a modern Foxes book of the martyrs. And for those confused regarding Islam, its teachings and true adherents, thinking they are a people of peace, go here http://thereligionofpeace.com/

But remember we are called to love our enemies, and called to be willing to lay our lives down for them, not take theirs as they do.

Our sword is here.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the tax collectors do so? Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:43-48)

“For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: “WHO COMMITTED NO SIN, NOR WAS DECEIT FOUND IN HIS MOUTH”; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;” (1 Peter 2:21-23)

“But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “AND DO NOT BE AFRAID OF THEIR THREATS, NOR BE TROUBLED.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; ”
(1 Peter 3:14-15)

“If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; And if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, And the LORD will reward you.”
(Proverbs 25:21-22)

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.”
(Romans 12:14)

“If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. Therefore “IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM; IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP COALS OF FIRE ON HIS HEAD.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
(Romans 12:18-21)

“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now “IF THE RIGHTEOUS ONE IS SCARCELY SAVED, WHERE WILL THE UNGODLY AND THE SINNER APPEAR?” Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.” (1 Peter 4:12-19)

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints-” (Ephesians 6:10-18)

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