August 6, 2012
My friends do not believe in the “blessed hope” – the return of Christ to claim His own. I need additional verses that speak specifically of the Rapture. Also, what about the “signs pointing to Christs millennial reign”? What does that mean?
Numerous other New Testament passages speak about Christ’s return. For instance, Titus 2:13; “Looking for that blessed hope [the Rapture], and the glorious appearing [the Revelation] of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” Hebrews 10:25 speaks about that great “approaching” day. James mentions the hoarding of gold and silver in the last days: “Ye have heaped treasure [gold and silver] together for the last days” (5:3) and adds in verse 8, “the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” Likewise, Jude declares that, as the Lord returns with His saints, filthy dreamers or false prophets who have denied the Bible will be destroyed (see w. 14-15).
There are also signs in the New Testament that speak of the relationship between Jerusalem and the Gentiles. One group of signs deals specifically with Jerusalem’s role in world history as well as the role of the Gentiles. Luke 21:24 declares, “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” In modem English, Christ stated, “Jerusalem will be controlled by Gentile nations and powers until the time of My return.” Timothy’s grandmother, Lois, in 2 Timothy 1:5 may have mentioned this fantastic prophetical utterance to her grandson, but it did not occur in his lifetime. Generations of Jewish grandmothers probably referred to this sign, but it never occurred in their day. Enter the mockers of Scripture who throw their abusive insults: Where is the promise of this coming? Since our grandparents’ departure, all things continue as they were. However, remember . . . God “cannot lie” (Titus 1:2). Finally, after nineteen hundred years of waiting-after seventy-five to one hundred generations of grandparents had lived and died, it finally happened. A six-day war was fought from June 5 to 10 in 1967. During the battle, the Jews took Jerusalem-one of the most powerful signs of Christ’s return.
What about the six-day theory? Second Peter 3:8-9 contains a tremendous mathematical formula: “Beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” For years, I have referred to this passage as a mathematical masterpiece. Let us review it together. The promise God keeps is found in 2 Peter 3:4. It is the promise of His coming. Because God “cannot lie” (Titus 1:2), He will come again! His heart of love toward sinners is filled with patience, but soon the day of grace will end. His patience cannot go on eternally. His prearranged timetable must be fulfilled. What is this time frame? Can we mortals know such secrets? Yes, we can! Jesus said, “When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors” (Matthew 24:33). Though we will never know the precise day or hour (Matthew 24:36), we can know God’s approximate schedule. How can this be? We read that a thousand years is as a day, and a day is as a thousand years. This is not as mysterious as it sounds. In fact, a few mental calisthenics give us the solution to this often-misunderstood equation.
God created the world in six days (Genesis 1:31) and rested on the seventh day (Genesis 2:2). Since a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day, we have six days of labor, signifying six thousand years of burdensome toil for humanity, and a final seventh day of rest-the millennial reign of Christ-when they live and reign with Christ a thousand years (Revelation 20:4). The calendar on your wall or in your wallet or purse demonstrates that this timetable is practically fulfilled.
We are on the threshold of the final day! The six-day theory is not my invention, but rather the theory of scores of church fathers in earlier centuries. With that in mind, I want you to consider the following from the amazing document titled the Epistle of Barnabas- missionary with the apostle Paul (see Acts chapters 13-15). He said in A.D. 110-nineteen centuries ago:
And God made in six days the works of his hands; and he finished them on the seventh day, and he rested the seventh day, and sanctified it. Consider, my children, what that signifies, he finished them in six days. The meaning of it is this; that in six thousand years the Lord God will bring all things to an end. For with him one day is a thousand years; as himself testifieth saying. Behold this day shall be as a thousand years. Therefore, children, in six thousand years, shall all things be accomplished. And what is that he saith, And he rested the seventh day, he meaneth this; that when his Son shall come, and abolish the season of the Wicked One, and judge the ungodly; and shall change the sun and the moon and the stars; then he shall gloriously rest in that seventh day. (w. 3-6)
Other early Church writings confirm the “signs of a thousand years.” Irenaeus, an early church father who lived 1,850 years ago, wrote, “For in so many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded… and God brought to a conclusion upon the sixth day the works he made.” The Jewish Talmud states, “The world is to stand 6,000 years, viz., 2,000 confusion and void, 2,000 with the law, and 2,000 the time of the Messiah.” The chronological tables could be off by as much as five to twelve years. However, we know that the time of the end is near, even at the doors, though we are not privy to the day or the hour. One thing is certain: Only a few minutes remain before midnight. Closing time is upon us. The Age of Grace is about to end, and believers are soon to rule and reign with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Will the Rapture of the Church bring both Blessing and sorrow?
Yes. Some will be ashamed (1 John 2:28), and some will be full of joy. That is why, in 1 Thessalonians 2:19, Paul asks, “What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing?” What is going to bring you and me a great crown? He then answers, “Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?” (v. 19). Paul was saying, “I’m going to present you-those I’ve won to Christ from Rome to Corinth-before the Lord, and that is going to be my joy.” But think of the multitudes who will stand before the Lord empty-handed. These are people who have been saved for years, but have no record of service-none whatsoever. They have never won a single soul to Christ.
There will be no scales at the Great Judgment Day at the end of the world whereby one is admitted to heaven if his good works outweigh the bad and vice versa. A person can be saved only by God’s grace (unmerited favor), not through works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Second Timothy 1:9 states: “[God] hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace.” However, there is a system of balances found in the Scriptures when it comes to rewards. Remember that one is neither saved nor kept by works. He is, however, to work because of the salvation he already possesses. Ephesians 2:10 gives clear evidence of this fact: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” The Christian’s works following salvation will be weighed on God’s scales and put through His judgmental fire. Thus, a system of addition and subtraction can be found at the judgment seat of Christ. The Bible also plainly states that a Christian can accumulate rewards while he is on earth, and then lose them before his death, or before the Rapture, by foolish living. The Bible is clear that a Christian cannot live in sin without suffering the consequences-not the loss of his salvation, but of his rewards.
Remember 1 Corinthians 3:15, “He shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” Now consider 2 John 8: “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.” Consider also Revelation 3:11: “Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” In 1 Corinthians 9:27, Paul says, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” The Greek word for castaway means “disapproved” or “put on the shelf.” Paul knew he could lose all his rewards for heroic service if he allowed his flesh to rule his life rather than the Holy Spirit. If this could happen to the man who had accumulated more “spiritual points” toward heavenly rewards than any servant of God, it can also happen to you and me.
Second Corinthians 11:23-26 lists Paul’s service record: “In labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep [clinging to life in the ocean]; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren.”
Paul could have lost all of his rewards had he allowed his flesh to control him instead of the Lord. But he didn’t. Hear him again-just before he paid the supreme sacrifice (his life)-in 2 Timothy 4:7-8: “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day [the day of Christ’s “bema” or judgment seat investigation]: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”
What a contrast to some Christians who find it easier to lie in bed rather than go to God’s house; who find it easier not to tithe, not to read the Bible, not to pray, not to win souls, not to live in the Spirit. Their reward will be nothing but ashes. Also to those who have allowed the flesh to take control of their lives, their rewards, earned through years of service, will have been lost because of a foolish unfulfilling habit, a beautiful, flirtatious face, or the desire to travel to heaven via worldly pathways.
I don’t know all that will be brought to light at that day, but I do know the first question God will ask is: “Did you bring people into My kingdom?” It is also the last thing Jesus commanded us to do: “Ye shall be witnesses unto me . . . And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight” (Acts 1:8-9). We will also be asked what we did with our finances. “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6).
Who composes Christs bride?
The bride of Christ is made up of every man, woman, and child who has been saved from the Day of Pentecost onward. This includes everyone who has received Christ until the Rapture occurs in 1 Thessalonians 4:16. So from Pentecost to the Rapture, the bride of Christ is formed and evacuated. As we approach that blessed day, I’m often asked, “At what stage in God’s prophetic program does the Church, or Bride, presently find herself?” According to Oriental marriage customs, we are now in the betrothal stage-promised to Jesus Christ. This is why He wants His people to live holy lives. By doing so, we (the Church or Bride) can be presented as “a chaste virgin” to the Savior (or Bridegroom) as expressed in 2 Corinthians 11:2.1 believe we are about to be called into the heavenlies for that great marriage ceremony, because every sign leading to this long-prophesied event is already occurring.
Since every sign for Christ’s return to earth is already in progress (we’ll later look in some detail at contemporary events that prove this), this great wedding must occur soon. It will not be long before we hear the words, “Come up hither” (Revelation 4:1). Then Revelation 19:7 says, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.”
Every bride anticipates the joys of a honeymoon. Therefore, the next logical question is, “How long will the honeymoon last for the bride of Christ?” After we are taken up in the Rapture (Revelation 4), we return with Christ in Revelation 19:14: “And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses.” Jude verse 14 says, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints.” Revelation 20:4 says, “And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.” The only ones coming back with Him are the Bride-to begin the honeymoon. This does not include, however, the Old Testament saints. John 1:17 says, “For the law was given by Moses, but grace [the new dispensation, or covenant] and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Now, concerning the salvation of John the Baptist-he did not become a part of the Bride at Pentecost. He was saved before Pentecost. So Jesus called him a “friend of the bridegroom” (John 3:29). John, then, is considered to be a friend of the Bridegroom but not part of the Bride.
The Church, or Bride, began to be formed on the Day of Pentecost and will be completed at the Rapture. Hence, the Old Testament saints are not members of the Bride or Church. Also, since the Church is evacuated at the Rapture-before the Tribulation begins (Revelation 4:1)-one can clearly see that the Tribulation saints who are martyred during this horrendous period do not constitute part of the Bride or Church. The Bride is definitely that group of blood-washed believers beginning at Pentecost and completed at the Rapture. Both the Old Testament and Tribulation saints are raised when Christ returns to earth, so they may be guests at the marriage supper of the Lamb on earth (see Daniel 12:2; Revelation 4-5).
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
Dealing With Depression
In the late nineteenth century, a man suffering from deep depression went to see a London psychiatrist. For two hours, he poured out his soul, trying desperately to explain the sense of futility that overwhelmed him. He hoped fervently that as he talked, his feeling of emptiness and desperation would somehow depart from him along with his words. He described his drained emotions and state of constant turmoil, begging the psychiatrist to say or do something that would release him from his misery and bondage.
The psychiatrist listened knowingly. He had heard the same story many times before. In fact, he shared many of the same feelings himself but passed them off as hazards of his profession. “I am going to prescribe a rather unorthodox remedy for you,” he told the man. “I want you to visit the circus.”
The man looked up inquisitively.
“You need to laugh,” the psychiatrist continued, “and the circus is the best place to do that.”
“I dont really think that will help me- ” the man began.
“Nonsense!” the doctor interrupted. “I went there myself recently. The whole experience was like a tonic to me.”
“But you see–“
“There is one particularly humorous fellow playing there-Grimaldi, the clown. Surely youve heard of him.”
“Oh yes, but-“
“Why, he can make anyone laugh, and I promise it will do you much good to see him.” The psychiatrist looked at his patient, whose sad eyes were beginning to form large tears.
“You dont understand,” the man said.
“Of course, I do,” replied the psychiatrist. “Ive just spent two hours listening to you. Youre suffering from depression. You could use something to make you laugh. Go see this fellow, Grimaldi.”
“I am trying to tell you, sir. I am Grimaldi. Those antics you see are only a performance. That smile is painted on! Inside I am a miserable, empty man.”
When success is not enough
The world is filled with miserable, empty, depressed people. Literally millions of Americans attempt suicide each year, playing out their dissatisfaction to its ultimate conclusion. The statistics are shocking. Suicide is prevalent in every age group and social class but occurs more frequently in the upper-income brackets than in any other social stratum. Clearly, satisfaction cannot be guaranteed by money, prestige, fame, or even youth.
The shifting sands of popular opinion will never provide inner stability. Imagine how you would feel if you were depending on the worlds acclaim to ensure your feelings of well-being as an actor and you read in the latest TV Guide that you were “too old, too tall, and too fat” for a certain part. Of one actress in a widely hailed television special it was written that she was “lazy” and “relying on primitive skills.” That could deflate ones ego incredibly fast.
If your whole idea of satisfaction and happiness in this troubled world was linked to your performance (or whatever your given role in the world), this type of criticism could send you into an emotional tailspin. It happens all the time. It accounts in part, researchers tell us, for the growing rate of suicides among businessmen and women. Suicide among artists and writers is quite common, and executive suicides are on the increase. Dentists lead all professions in killing themselves, followed closely by psychiatrists. And doctors are also becoming suicidal with increasing frequency. What leads successful people such as these to this kind of demise?
Dr. Herbert Klemme, director of the Division of Industrial Mental Health at the Menninger Foundation, has suggested that as a person reaches the crest of life, after age 35 or so, he begins to struggle with the inevitability of his own death. He has to revise his life goals in terms of what is still possible to do. He has to be more realistic and may have to settle for a little less than he had hoped to achieve. For the person who is not reaching the goals he has set himself, the efforts can be unsettling or even devastating.
Intensely driven individuals are often very ambitious and have immense ego ideal aspirations. Oftentimes they find it difficult to relax and may have an almost total lack of a sense of humor. Living under this driving pressure to succeed, they have little optimism and easily despair.
Why is depression such a pervasive force in contemporary society? Why do so many who seem to have all they could want choose to end their own lives? Why is it that with all the technological advances of the past generation, depression and dissatisfaction continue to rule the hearts and minds of the vast majority?
The answer is clear-the source of real satisfaction and overcoming depression is a strong, abiding, personal relationship with a loving and merciful heavenly Father. No technology every developed, no amount of money, no amount of recognition or prestige, no device or drug designed by man can ever take the place of knowing God. I am convinced that much of the depression among people in our society is directly traceable to a deep spiritual void in their lives-a void that only the Lord himself can fill. The philosopher Pascal called it “a God-shaped vacuum in every man.”
How to receive your hearts desires
Psalm 37 is a rich passage of Scripture, written by David during a time when he was struggling with depression. He wrote:
Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass (verses 4, 5).
Contained in those short phrases is the answer to depression-Delight thyself…in the Lord. They also reveal a wonderful promise that deals with the challenge of dissatisfaction-He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.
What does it mean to delight yourself in the Lord? Simply to turn your focus away from yourself, or, in the words of the apostle Paul, Set your affection of things above, not on things on the earth(Colossians 3:2). It means to make your relationship with God the central issue in your life-to desire to know Him, fellowship with Him, and live for His glory more than anything else.
I believe there is a dual meaning to the promise that God will give us our hearts desires. First, it means that He will fulfill our deepest longings-not the desires we have for things, but our desire for spiritual wholeness. Every human being, whether he is aware of it or not, has deep spiritual needs, and only God can satisfy them. He does that for those who delight themselves in Him.
The promise also means that God will place new desires and aspirations in our hearts. When He makes us spiritually whole, He gives us new priorities, new values-new desires. He gives us holy desires, desires for spiritual blessings, desires that only He can fulfill. And He delights in fulfilling them.
Sometimes, an experience is so dramatic and poignant that I am reminded anew of how amazing Gods love for us really is, and how wonderfully timely His grace is to those who need it most. Such an incident occurred one night several years ago in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We were conducting a citywide meeting there, and I was on the platform prior to the service getting the music ready. Suddenly, I noticed one of our counselors motioning that he would like to speak to me. He seemed to have something urgent to say, so I started a tape of background music and turned my attention to him.
“My wife and I were on our way to the service, when we saw a young woman jump from the bridge near the auditorium,” he told me breathlessly. “We rushed to the edge of the river and saw that she was struggling to get out of the water.”
My heart was pounding as I listened. He continued, “She made her way up to the shore, and my wife held her in her arms while I ran and phoned for an ambulance. By the time I had returned, my wife had told her about Gods love for her and Jesus death on the cross for people just like her.” The man told me that there, beside what could have been her watery grave, she found everlasting life by trusting Christ.
Gods timing was perfect. Not only did that couple arrive at the bridge just in time to save the womans life, but according to Gods perfect plan, they were able to give her something to live for as well. The salvation she received that night was not only salvation from a watery grave, but also salvation from an eternity apart from God.
Depression and dissatisfaction are not necessarily limited to those who do not know the Lord or who are walking out of His will. Interestingly, the great prophet Elijah also encountered this problem. Even more amazing is the fact that Elijahs depression hit him just after a great spiritual victory. In 1 Kings 18, we see Elijah winning a great contest against the prophets of Baal. God was vindicated, and the false prophets were destroyed. Yet in chapter 19, just days after this victory, we find Elijah pleading with God to take his life.
Part of Elijahs problem, Im sure, was that he was physically and emotionally exhausted. Therefore, the first thing God did was allow him to eat, sleep, and regain his strength (verses 4-9). Then, God spoke to him, listened to his complaints, encouraged him, and sent him right back to work! We can learn much from Elijahs battle with depression.
Physical causes for depression
First, depression may have a physical cause. Beware-Satan loves to take advantage of us when we become physically exhausted. Therefore, we should take time daily to exercise, rest, and guard our health by eating properly. I interviewed Judy McFarland twice-Judy and her mother Gladys Lindberg co-authored the book, Take Charge of Your Health. She helped me understand the relationship between good physical health and good mental and emotional health. Its terribly important. God has equipped our bodies with a wonderful healing system capable of handling almost any condition-provided it is given the nutritional support it needs. Judy says one essential fact must be understood if people are to maintain physical and emotional health-the state of their nutrition directly influences their bio-chemistry and their immunological system. There are many misunderstood health problems that go mis-diagnosed because a lot of medical people still refuse to recognize the correlation between nutrition and health.
Im glad that Jack and I recognized this long ago. Both of us enjoy to exercise regularly. And we know that the stress and wear and tear on our bodies caused by the kind of lives most of us lead today necessitates that we eat properly. Also, because there are so many contaminants in the environment and in the foods we all consume that we urge people to pay attention to well-informed people like Judy and her mother Gladys Lindberg (highly respected nutritionists living on the West Coast). When we take care of our bodies we are cooperating with the Creator. There is much said in the Bible on this important subject.
Spiritual causes of depression
Second, you may be attempting to wage the battle of life totally in the flesh, leaving God, His providence, and His power out of the picture. All of us must guard against running counter to or ahead of the Lord. I have long cherished and drawn comfort from the blessed promise contained in Proverbs 3:5,6-Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Yes, we must allow Him to do the leading, and as we follow, refusing to be discouraged by fear or failure, we will find we can handle the stressful situations that come into our lives that might otherwise leave us depressed and overwhelmed.
Those who know the Lord, should be the most satisfied in all the world. This isnt always the case, however, and sadly, is a poor commentary on our relationship to the very One who provides help and hope. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that we dont want to admit that these “black nights of the soul” do come to us, and when they do we fail to turn to the Lord, committing our way to Him, trusting Him, and acknowledging that we need His help and direction.
Go to the top for help
Third, and finally, once you have recognized that you have a problem, dont give up and simply drown in your depression. Realize that you need help, consider the causes, and then begin looking for answers.
If the problem is physical, get medical help immediately.
If it is spiritual, take it to the Lord. Remember His compassionate invitation in Matthew 11:28, given to everyone-Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. If personal counseling is required, start with your pastor. Or if the problem seems to be unusually deep seated, see a Christian psychologist or psychiatrist.
Above all, dont make the mistake of taking comfort in self pity-of thinking that you are alone. Elijah did. He said, I, even I only, am left (1 Kings 19:10). But he was not really alone. God was on his side. Furthermore, God reminded him that there were seven thousand faithful people in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal-and they all were looking to Elijah for leadership! What an encouraging motivation to overcome disillusionment and depression.
Remember, somebody needs your help and leadership, too. You cannot afford to dwell in the pits of self-pity and depression. You must look beyond yourself, past your problems, to God who is greater than them all. His love for you is deep and unending, and if you trust Him-if you delight yourself in Him-He will give you the desires of your heart. That is His unfaltering promise.
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
I enjoy reading your messages each week. Sometimes I get weighted down and feel I can’t go on but then I read your message and get enough love to move on. I don’t know how you two have managed it all these years had it not been for Jesus. I know the world is reeling now and that the rapture is soon to come. I pray I will be with you as we hear “Come up hither!” for I love Jesus with all of my heart. I can’t wait to be with all my family and friends who are already with him. I send you my love and my prayers. God keep you both in His Powerful hands of love.
Dr. Van Impe
Thank you for continuing to preach the uncompromising truth of scripture. I am in my late 50’s and I never thought I would see a time when it was hard to find a church rightly dividing scripture in America. How tragic that the gospel has been changed to such an extent that God is now conformed into our image instead of us being conformed into His.
Please continue to preach the gospel boldly. We need it now more than ever!
HIGHLIGHTED PRODUCT OFFERS
How much danger is North America in today because of the march toward the embrace of Islam in Washington DC, and at the United Nations?
Why is President Obama promoting the passage of a United Nations “Hate Law” bill that favors Islam and endangers Christians around the world?
Why is our president silent concerning the persecution and slaughter of Christians in many Muslim nations?
The Bible says in these latter days the love of many will grow cold – apostasy will set in – and supposed religious leaders will have a form of godliness but lack its power.
We’re seeing these prophecies fulfilled today!
You and your family deserve to know the facts – the truth that many supposedly ‘Christian’ leaders want to hide from you!
There is only one way to heaven, through salvation in Jesus Christ. Choosing Christ means a change in lifestyle – and many preachers today just don’t want to tell people that they must be transformed!
But Drs. Jack and Rexella Van Impe set the record straight in their landmark teaching video, Reclaiming and Restoring Biblical Christianity