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August 13, 2012

What is the marriage and marriage supper of the Lamb and where will they take place?


The marriage partners at this glorious event include the Lamb (Christ) (Ephesians 5:25-33) and His bride (the Church)-both of whom have been in heaven during the Tribulation Hour. While those on earth have suffered judgment, the Bride is being investigated in preparation for the wedding (Revelation 19:7). For those who were unfaithful to Christ during the engagement period (their years of service upon earth), this will be a moment of humiliation (1 John 2:28) as every believer will be attired in the wedding garment he or she made while on earth. The material will be composed of their good deeds that remain after the judgment seat has taken place (Revelation 19:7-8). Righteousnesses rather than righteousness is the correct word in this text. The first term has to do with our works, the second with the imputed righteousness bestowed upon believers through Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21).


The marriage itself takes place in heaven toward the end of the Tribulation period upon earth. The phrase, “the marriage of the Lamb is come” (Revelation 19:7), signifies that the Church’s union with Christ has been completed (1 Thessalonians 4:17). From this point on, wherever Christ goes, His beloved bride follows. After the marriage, heaven opens and Christ, mounted upon a white horse, begins His descent to earth for Armageddon followed by His bride, the armies clothed in white linen (Revelation 19:11-14). The place of the wedding reception (marriage supper) is upon earth. After exhaustive study of this great event, I believe that immediately following the marriage in heaven, Christ returns to earth with His bride to begin His millennial reign. Old Testament and Tribulation saints are then raised in order that they may be guests at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 20:4).


If an individual has heard the gospel and rejected Jesus Christ – and the Rapture occurs – will that person have another opportunity to accept Jesus as Lord during the Tribulation?


In response to this question, most evangelicals turn to 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12, which states: “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth.” The reasoning among many is that anyone who has ever heard the gospel and rejected it will no longer have a chance to accept the Savior. I no longer believe that. Here’s why I do not hold this position. As I was studying Acts 2:17, which repeats the prophetic passage of Joel 2:28, the Holy Spirit revealed something to me. God says, “I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh.” There will be enlightenment as never before. Then it hit me: This is in the midst of the horrific Tribulation Hour, but note what it says in Acts 2:19-21: “And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. ” And this whosoever is identical to John 3:16 where all are invited to salvation. Thus, “whosoever” today is identical to “whosoever” during the Tribulation hour.


However, here’s my word of encouragement to you. Do not be distraught or depressed. There is great hope for those whose hearts become softened as we approach the return of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. God does not want any man, woman, or child to perish. This is the nature of our heavenly Father (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). Nevertheless, things will get alarming as we approach the end of the age. That’s why Jesus said in Luke 21:9, “When ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass.” Who would dare question that these days are already upon us? All the more reason for us to share our faith in Christ with those who heretofore have not believed. An added word of encouragement comes to us when our Lord provides the ultimate word of hope and encouragement in verse 31, “When ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.” That is the glorious day we all await. Now is the time to share the good news, and in so doing, become part of God’s final plan for the ages as He pours out His Spirit on all flesh.


What is the Tribulation? What is the purpose for the twenty-one Tribulation judgments?


This terrible period of history will be the most horrendous our world has ever seen-seven years of nonstop bombardment. In the midst of this fiery judgment there will be little expression of remorse: Hearts will not be bent toward repentance, with few seeking forgiveness for murder, drug abuse, fornication, sexual promiscuity, or theft (Revelation 9:21). The Tribulation, and the sequential judgments of God, will descend on mankind because of blatant sins committed by humanity. It will be a time of widespread apostasy, coupled with a blatant, wholesale denial of biblical truth, combined with moral chaos, an acceleration of spiritism, persecution, pestilence, and earthquakes. Terrible as all this will be. God has a threefold purpose for this period of human history:

  1.   To save and allow many Jews who enter the Millennium to experience the fulfillment of the kingdom promises to Israel made by God in the covenants;

  2.   To save a multitude of Gentiles who will then populate the millennial kingdom;

  3.   To pour out judgment on unbelieving mankind and nations. The final forty-two months or three-and-one-half-year period is so terrifying that it is called the Great Tribulation (Revelation 7:14).

There is good reason the first half of the Tribulation will be more peaceful. Because Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, is soon to return, Satan, the great counterfeiter and ultimate deceiver known as Antichrist, will first present himself as the peace-producing Messiah. Not only will he make himself known to the nations, but he will be universally accepted. Satan will enter the body of a man and proclaim himself as God (2 Thessalonians 2:4). This Antichrist will come into prominence and power by presenting a “peace program” to the nations (Daniel 11:21-24). The contracts will be signed and confirmed (Daniel 9:27).


However, in the middle of the seven-year period, the Antichrist dishonors his treaties and makes the last forty-two months the bloodiest in world history as he honors the god of forces (Daniel 11:38). The Great Tribulation is a time of incomparable judgment (Daniel 12:1; Joel 2:2; Matthew 24:21). A total of twenty-one judgments fall upon the earth. They constitute three series of seven each and are described as the seal, trumpet, and vial (or bowl) judgments (Revelation chapters 6, 8, 9,11,15,16). This is the Time of Jacob’s Trouble. Revelation 8:7 and 9:18 clearly reveal a judgment of fire during the Tribulation. This coincides with Psalm 97:3; Isaiah 66:15; Ezekiel 20:47; Zephaniah 1:18; Malachi 4:1, and numerous other passages of Scripture. Both Old and New Testaments agree on the coming of what seems to be a fiery, nuclear holocaust (Revelation 8:7; 9:18). The unequivocal counsel of Scripture promises that the Church will be evacuated before the Tribulation judgment begins.



FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE

WHY HUMILITY IS SOMETHING GOOD


Is it a paradox that many people seemingly enjoy outward success in terms of money, recognition, and prestige despite a decided lack of true humility? Perhaps, although the blessing of God is not measured by immediate or outward accomplishments. Let us examine this more carefully.


The life of pioneer missionary David Livingstone is beautiful proof of this. When Livingstone was a young man, he informed his brother, Charles that he planned to become a missionary. His brother scoffed, saying that he preferred to stay in England seeking fame and fortune. He wanted recognition from his peers, and that was not possible, he said, for a missionary in Africa.


David went to Africa where he labored untiringly among the people as a doctor and preacher. The Lord gave him the desires of his heart, and many people came to know Jesus Christ through his humble ministry. His brother, who stayed in England, did indeed find fame and recognition, and accumulated a great deal of wealth as well.


When David Livingstone died, his heart was buried in Africa and his body shipped home to England for burial in Westminster Cathedral. Later, his brother was buried next to him. We visited this great edifice several years ago, and my heart was deeply touched as I read the inscriptions on the brothers’ graves. Above David Livingstone’s burial vault was this poem:


DAVID LIVINGSTONE

He needs no epitaph to guard a name

Which men shall prize while worthy work is known;

He lived and died for good-be that his fame:

Let marble crumble; this is Living-stone
.


The inscription above David’s brother’s grave simply states: “Charles, the brother of David Livingstone.”


This illustration, more than any I know, reflects the truth of 1 Peter 5:6-Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.


THE FIRST SHALL BE LAST


No attitude or character quality was more emphasized and exemplified by the Lord Jesus than humility. He told his disciples-whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant (Matthew 20:26-27).


Shortly after He gave that lesson, Jesus met with His disciples in an upper room to eat what we have come to call the Last Supper. In those final hours before He was taken away to be tortured and killed, the Lord took time to teach the disciples one more lesson about the importance of humility.


As they entered the room where they would eat that final meal together, they found that everything had been prepared for them, with one exception-a servant to wash their feet. In those days of dirt roads and sandals, washing feet regularly was an essential custom. Since it was not a pleasant chore, it was normally the duty of the lowest slave when an individual entered a house.


After everything Jesus had taught them about humility, it would seem that one of the disciples should have volunteered to accept the responsibility, or at least arranged for a servant to do it. However, none did. Perhaps they were involved in one of their arguments about which of them was the greatest.


Consequently, Jesus rolled up His sleeves, took the basin of water and a towel, stooped down and began to wash the disciples’ feet. They were so shocked by His actions that they became speechless. Jesus told them-Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you (John 13:13-15).


There is a great and important lesson here for all of us. If Jesus could leave heaven and come to earth to die, and on the night before His crucifixion assume the position of the lowliest of slaves, without reservation we should follow His example of humility.


FALSE HUMILITY


Have you ever met someone who seemed to exhibit a kind of false humility which did not in any way glorify the Lord? It was lowliness put on to impress others. It was not a genuine humility but rather a shallow, external façade that actually sought to put others down.


False humility can take various forms. For example, by refusing to graciously accept a compliment (how embarrassing to the one giving it) and by discrediting one’s own accomplishments, the person actually seeks to draw more praise to himself. This is pride in disguise-not meekness of spirit.


Such hypocritical humility is like the sin of the Pharisees. They put on sackcloth and ashes when they fasted so that everyone would notice how “spiritual” they were. They stood on the street corners to pray just to make certain that no one missed their display of holiness. What they really wanted was the praise of men, and Jesus said that was all the reward they would get for their human efforts.


Humility that calls attention to itself is not humility at all-it is pride. And what makes pride so insidious is that we are most vulnerable to it just when we think we have conquered it. The minute we begin thinking how humble we are, we had better think again. No one who considers himself a paragon of humility knows the first thing about the virtue.


On the other side of the coin, however, neither is a poor self image the same thing as humility. I have known people who did not like themselves very much, but they were so self-centered that they made it difficult for anyone else to like them. The truly humble person can accept himself. He feels good about himself because he is not consumed by the desire to prove himself to others-to convince them that he is something that he is not.


THE ESSENCE OF TRUE HUMILITY


What constitutes true humility? Jesus himself answered this question when He washed the feet of His disciples at the Last Supper. Genuine humility is, you see, a willingness to serve others.


Nobody is more lonely than a “self-service only” individual. In fact, the most dissatisfied persons I know are those who are selfish. Because they are so wrapped up in themselves-their own needs, their own desires, their own preferences, their own problems-they cannot reach out to others for the very fellowship that would dispel their loneliness.


Of all the disciples, Andrew best pictures the meaning of true humility. Andrew had a servant’s heart. He does not seem to have been involved as James and John were in the constant disputes about who was the greatest. Instead, whenever we see Andrew in Scripture, he is bringing someone to the Master.


Andrew began his ministry of soulwinning and discipleship by seeking Peter, his brother. In fact, perhaps the greatest thing Andrew ever did was bring Peter to Jesus. Peter became the leader of the disciples, and after Jesus ascended into heaven, it was Peter who preached the great sermon at Pentecost where so many were converted to faith in Christ.


If you had a brother like Peter, would you have brought him to Jesus? Surely Andrew knew that Peter, with his bold, forceful personality, would inherit the position of leadership among the disciples. He must have realized that he would eventually take a back seat to his brother. Yet Andrew was not concerned with those things. He saw only his brother’s need and knew that Jesus could fill it. In a sense, Andrew did fade into the shadows as Peter came into prominence. But he also continued to bring others to Jesus. One of those he brought was a little boy with a sack lunch-and the Lord used those few loaves and fishes to feed a multitude. Take heart-your seemingly small talent can be used and magnified for God’s glory because He both desires and rewards humble service.


GOD GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE


What does humility have to do with satisfaction which will dispel bewilderment? Humility is a channel through which the Lord can bless us. Pride, on the other hand, isolates us from God. First Peter 5:5 urges-be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.


God’s grace is manifested in a special way to those who are humble. If a person seeks to serve others, he receives multiplied blessings from the Lord. If he seeks only to serve self, however, he closes the door to the possibility of such blessings.


Too many who claim to be working for the Lord see the ministry only as a platform on which to display their own talents and abilities. My husband and I believe that our service constitutes a high and holy privilege, and our prayer has always been that God be glorified in all that we say and do-not only in public, but in our private lives as well.


As a result of this belief, we have always felt strongly that we should not push open doors to try to expand our ministry. Everywhere we have gone and in every situation where we have ministered, we have endeavored to wait until God himself opened the portals of increased opportunity. In fact, sometimes we have been so cautious that He has had to push us through them! Still, the peace of mind and soul we have experienced in knowing that God has brought each new phase of our outreach to pass far outweighs any sense of human accomplishment. It also confirms in our hearts the fact that except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it (Psalm 127:1).


Through our years of ministry together, I have also appreciated and learned from Jack’s meek and tender spirit. When we conducted our local city-wide meetings, we were inevitably the last ones to leave the auditorium following a service. My husband always had time to answer one more question or sign an additional Bible, no matter how late the hour. As I stood with him, often ministering with him, my heart smiled within me to know that this one who had the power to deliver such authoritative and convicting messages from God’s Word also had the ability to understand the deepest burdens and personally minister to the hearts he touched. Today, our office doors are open to students, pastors, and young evangelists who seek to share the wisdom, counsel, and direction the Lord has given us in conducting our international ministry.


I shall never forget our very first visit to Tennessee Temple Schools in Chattanooga. Jack and I were tremendously excited (and a bit nervous) about ministering in a college environment, not to mention being in the presence of such a respected man as Dr. Lee Roberson, the president. I had never met him and was eager to make his acquaintance.


We arrived in the city several hours ahead of time and drove to the auditorium in order to unload and set up our equipment. We were met by several students and staff members, including a distinguished looking, gray-haired gentleman who helped us carry the heavy pieces to the platform.


Much time was spent placing everything into position, making the proper electrical connections, and testing for operation and sound level. At last our task was completed. I turned to the gray-haired gentleman and thanked him for his assistance. “And when shall we be able to meet Dr. Roberson?” I asked.


The man smiled softly and gently took hold of my hand. “I am Dr. Roberson,” he replied.


That evening, as Dr. Lee Roberson stepped to the podium to welcome the students and guests and introduce us to them, he appeared ever so much taller, broad-shouldered, and distinguished. Silently, I bowed my head and prayed a prayer of rejoicing, thanking God for allowing me the privilege of meeting a true servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.


There is a great deal of true satisfaction in service to others. The servant of God is actually a kind of funnel through which God pours out His love to a needy world. The person who is involved in humble service is vibrant and alive. He can sense the love of God flowing through him, and he is constantly getting a firsthand experience of the wonderful ways God works.


In addition, the truly humble person has all his relationships in proper perspective. He does not think more highly of himself than he ought to think (see Romans 12:3). He does not look down on others, use them for his own benefit, or ignore their needs. Most importantly, he is in right relationship to God.


GOD HATES PRIDE


Many of us are familiar with the children’s story about the frog who wanted to fly. As he sat on his lily pad watching for insects day after day, he often spied the birds of the forest gracefully winging their way through the air. Their freedom and ability to travel quickly from one place to another began to disturb him, and he soon became completely dissatisfied with being a frog-he wanted to fly!


One day the frog went to his friend, the robin. “Mr. Robin, will you teach me to fly?” he asked.


“I’m sorry, but that’s impossible,” said the robin. “You’re a frog. Frogs were not created to fly. Frogs were made to hop.”


Next the frog approached the cardinal. “Mr. Cardinal, please teach me to fly,” he pleaded. To his dismay, the reply was the same.


Then the frog conceived a brilliant idea. He hopped to the robin and to the cardinal. “Robin, Cardinal!,” he shouted enthusiastically. “I have the answer! If you two will pick up a stick and hold it tightly in your beaks, I will grab the stick with my mouth and travel with you as you fly.”


Although somewhat skeptical, the frog’s feathered friends agreed to give his idea a try. They found a sturdy stick, grasped it tightly in their beaks, and the frog clamped his mouth in the middle. Then off they flew-up, up, higher and higher, swiftly skirting the trees of the forest, out across the meadow, and back once more.


The frog was jubilant. He was flying!


One by one, the other animals appeared at the forest’s edge, gazing in disbelief at the sight before them. As the triumphant trio made another sweep past the growing crowd of spectators, the deer exclaimed, “How clever! Who ever conceived such a perfectly ingenious idea?”


The frog, swelling with pride, shouted, “I did! It was all my idea!”


As he spoke, he lost his grip on the stick and hurtled through the air to the ground. Splat! Alas, the frog’s dream and delight proved to be his demise. His life was snuffed out in a moment of time. The sin of pride had claimed another victim-just as it will claim you and me if we do not deal honestly and firmly with it, refusing to allow it any opportunity to rise up.


Remember, God says, Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).


Why is pride so deadly? For one thing, pride was the sin that led to Satan’s fall. Caught up with his own beauty and wisdom, willfully forgetting the fact that it was God who made him that way, Lucifer began to see himself as something to be worshipped above God. When he said, I will be like the most High (Isaiah 14:14), he lost everything that was his.


Later, Satan succeeded in getting Eve to sin with the same promise with which he had deceived himself-ye shall be as gods (Genesis 3:5). And when Adam and Eve sinned, they, too, lost everything God had given to them. Most devastating of all, they were sent forth from His presence. Ever since that day, the human race has been plagued by the sin of pride and the consequent loss of blessing that comes with it. Like the frog, humanity desperately seeks satisfaction but at the same time stubbornly refuses to renounce the pride that makes dissatisfaction inevitable.


Some would have us believe that pride is a virtue. In recent years, a number of best-selling books have appeared, telling us how to assert ourselves, how to get what we want, how to increase our self-esteem, and how to intimidate others. Humility is viewed by many as a weakness. The “me first” syndrome has spread throughout society like a plague.


In such an atmosphere, it is little wonder that so many are dissatisfied, for it is in giving, not receiving that we are blessed. It is in serving, not being served, that brings fulfillment. And it is in humility, not pride, that we open ourselves to receive the grace of God.


God hates this sin of pride (see Proverbs 8:13). Pride is a denial of God’s right to glory. It is a challenge to His sovereignty. It is a deification of self over God, and it leads to contempt for others for whom Christ died. It is as morally perverse and debasing as any sin known to man, for it can lead to many other kinds of sin. And inevitably, the prideful will experience the frustration of feeling baffled, bewildered, and befuddled.


How damaging and hurtful pride is! It increases the desire for satisfaction and at the same time pushes the possibility of personal fulfillment further and further away. May God give us the grace to be truly humble.



CHANGED LIVES-one at a time

Dr. Van Impe,


Thirty-six years ago you preached one Sunday at the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. On that day, I persuaded my brother to attend with me to hear your message about the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.


My brother was not really happy to come, but he had promised me he would attend a service with me after the death of my baby daughter in March, 1975, in the church nursery. He was an unwilling participant, but I would not let him weasel out of his promise.


I was late arriving at his house to pick him and his wife up for the service and he tried to refuse going. I stubbornly refused to be moved. He and his wife finally got into my car to go to the church. Once we arrived, the seats were filled. He looked around and said, “There is nowhere to sit, we might as well leave.” At that very moment, ushers arrived with folding chairs right beside us.


As the service began, I stole furtive looks at my brother. His face showed that he was not very happy to have come and he could not wait to leave. Throughout the singing he remained distant, resigned. When you began to preach about Jesus’s return for His own, my brother’s expression changed. As you spoke that day, his face softened, his resentment softened. I watched my brother carefully as his countenance changed from angry unbelief to a hunger for that gift of eternal life.


Dr. Van Impe, when the invitation opened at the end of the sermon, my brother was one of the first ones to race up the aisle of the church to accept Christ as his Savior! That day my brother became a child of God.


The rest of the story is that the following February my brother died unexpectedly. He was just 23 years of age. The heartache of losing my baby brother was eased by the sure knowledge that he was in Heaven that day with Jesus.


Now, thirty-five years later, I want to thank you for the wonderful gift you present to sinners. And, I especially want to say thank you for the preaching about the gift of salvation to my brother on that Sunday so long ago.


There are not enough words to express the gratitude I have felt all these years for that Sunday sermon you preached in the summer of 1975.


I watched your program last night on television and realized that I wanted so much to share this news with you, and to tell you thank you from the bottom of my heart for the message of Jesus’s love that won my brother’s heart that day and sealed his eternity with Jesus in Heaven.


I am now sixty-four years old and still recall that day with joy. Soon, we will all be there with our loved ones.


I will see him again and I will see my daughter. And we will all see Jesus. What a day of rejoicing that will be!


God Bless you,

R. A.

Golden, Colorado



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