Weekly Newsletter – August 15, 2016
A MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR JACK VAN IMPE
The Great Escape
35 Most Frequently Asked Questions About the Rapture
The next event on God’s prophetic clock is the Rapture, a word that is derived from the Latin word rapturo, meaning, “a snatching away.” The Rapture is that dramatic moment when the Lord Jesus Christ comes in clouds of glory to remove from this world all who have died in Christ along with the living from the Day of Pentecost until Christ comes to “snatch” His children upward and home in the twinkling of an eye. I Thessalonians 4:16-18 teaches: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.“
This event will occur at breakneck speed – in the “twinkling of an eye.” Scientists have measured the twinkling in a human being’s eye, and it amounts to eleven-one hundredths of a second. Those left on the earth will not know what hit them. A business colleague will suddenly be gone. A schoolteacher will no longer stand before his or her desk as the chalk falls to the floor. A doctor will not show up for his rounds. There will be no nurses at many hospitals to administer medicine, take pulses, or follow doctors’ orders. Dirty dishes will be left in the sink as a housewife disappears from the view of her stunned family. The Rapture will precipitate the greatest traffic jams in history as cars suddenly become driverless and pedestrians run for cover. It will be that moment in history, when, without warning, the Lord says, “Come up hither” (Revelation 4:1). It will be the greatest escape in the history of the world.
There are those who say that the pretribulational viewpoint began in 1830 and was propagated by Edward Irving, J. N. Darby, and Margaret McDonald, a retarded girl. But as we shall see, that is not so.
St. Victorinus, the bishop of Pettau, wrote a commentary on the book of Revelation in AD 270. he said he saw another great and wonderful sign: “Seven angels having the last seven plagues, for in them is completed the indignation of God. And these shall be in the last time when the church shall have gone out of the midst.” St. Victorinus was talking about the Rapture.
Here is more powerful documentation on a pretrib Rapture. The early Christian writer and poet Ephraem the Syrian (who lived from AD 306 to 373) was a major theologian of the early Byzantine Eastern Church. To this day, his hymns and homilies are used in the liturgy of the Greek Orthodox and Middle Eastern Nestorian Churches. He also wrote a large number of commentaries that have never been translated in English. Concerning a pretrib Rapture he stated: “All the saints and Elect of God are gathered, prior to the tribulation that is to come, and are taken to the Lord lest they see the confusion that is to overwhelm the world because of our sins.“
Thus, this teaching is not a present-day innovation but a doctrinal statement dating back seventeen centuries to St. Victorinus, and twenty centuries back to Jesus and Paul. However, there is more. In the sixteenth century there were also those who expressed absolute assurance of the Rapture. Hugh Latimer, burned at the stake for his faith in 1555, said, “It may come in my days, old as I am, or in my children’s days, the saints shall be taken up to meet Christ in the air and so shall come down with him again.” Joseph Mede, the great sixteenth-century literalist, understood I Thessalonians 4:13-18 to teach the catching up of the saints and even used the word Rapture. This was also 250 years before Irving, Darby, and McDonald.
While the Rapture is not taught in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, you will find it mentioned twice in the Gospel of John. This is important to remember: Any other time you read about Christ’s return in the Gospels, it is not referring to the Rapture. Instead, these are references to the second phase of Christ’s return, when He physically comes back to earth to rule over the earth after a seven-year tribulation period.
Where are the two Rapture texts found in the Gospel of John? John 14:1-3: “Let not your heart be troubled; ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” This is not His coming to the earth, but a time when Jesus receives us unto Himself at the great Rapture – the snatching away – to be with Him in heaven as the seven years of torment play out their unbridled fury on the earth.
The second reference to the Rapture is in John 11:25-26. I must confess that I quoted the passage for years and did not really understand it. Christ said: “I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” Jesus is contrasting those who experience death and live again (“the dead in Christ shall rise first” I Thessalonians 4:16) with those who never experience death (because “we which are alive and remain” are caught up without dying, I Thessalonians 4:17).
In the upcoming weeks, we will direct our attention to those events that are leading up to the Rapture, the Rapture itself, and what happens once God’s chosen are caught away to be with the Lord. The Rapture is not science fiction. It’s a coming reality. The good news for the person who is prepared is – when the Rapture comes, believers will go home to be with the Lord and evade earth’s horrendous seven years of Tribulation. The believer in the Lord Jesus Christ will, at long last, be the recipient of that blessed hope. There will be no more tears, no more suffering, and no more dying for those who have received their new, glorified bodies without sin or sickness for all eternity. It is from this perspective – the pretribulation point of view – that I approach this subject with godly reverence.
FROM THE HEART OF DR. REXELLA VAN IMPE
LET THE DOVES SPEAK
We want to continue this week and look at the last five of the Beatitudes:
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after
righteousness: for they shall be filled (Matthew 5:6).
I believe this Beatitude refers to our having a desire to see justice around us, in our own country and around the world. Those who are blessed by God, foreseeing the needs of others, do things to help just because it is the right thing to do. They speak up for the poor and needy and for people in other lands who have not had the opportunity to live in freedom. Are we concerned enough about righteousness and holiness to be driven by these holy characteristics as urgently as our bodies respond to hunger and thirst?
This verse also makes me a bit introspective. I read it and ask, “How can I be righteous? How can I be right as I walk in this world?” I must die to self and selfishness and allow Christ to live His life in and through me! The apostle Paul said, the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).
I believe that you and I can claim this blessing only when we truly hunger and thirst after holiness and doing what is right. Then what happens? We shall be filled…with righteousness and with His glory.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy
Mercy and righteousness are inextricably linked together. If we truly want righteousness, we get involved, we extend help to the needy, we assist, and we forgive those who have sinned against us. If it is within our power, we must show this kind of mercy to those we encounter. Can we not share the mercy that we ourselves have received?
The writer of Lamentations cried, It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness (3:22-23).
What a blessing to have the promise of God’s mercy as we show tenderness to others. What a joy to realize that goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life (Psalm 23:6).
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God
Everything that we have seen and experienced so far is by faith. None of us has ever had the joy of really looking at God. We have seen His handiwork, we have witnessed His love for us by sending His Son, and we have seen the attributes in Christ that He wants us to have. But we have never seen Him.
One day we will-if our hearts are pure. That is His promise.
To me, that will be the best thing about heaven. I’m not the most excited about seeing the golden streets and magnificent surroundings. And as much as I love and miss my wonderful mom and dad who are there (and I do want to see them with all of my heart), the first one I want to see in heaven is the Lord, my Savior and my God!
How, then, can my heart be pure? My pretenses and masks must go because purity of heart cannot be falsified-it must be genuine and sincere. My entire being cries out, Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me (Psalm 51:10).
This Beatitude, to my mind, is a foundation stone. It gets down to the crux of everything, doesn’t it? If you don’t have a pure heart, where is the authenticity to want to do the right thing? Without a pure heart, how can you be merciful?
Indeed, without a pure heart, I cannot see Him. And oh, more than anything in this world, I want to look upon His face!
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall
be called the children of God (Matthew 5:9).
The Bible teaches that we are to live peaceably with all men (see Romans 12:18). The Lord doesn’t want us to harbor hate, animosity, or intolerance. There will be no place in heaven for racists or exclusionary creeds. Humbly and gently, we are to seek solutions and to disarm hostility. The Bible says, A soft answer turneth away wrath (Proverbs 15:1). I believe that we should seek to be the kind of person who-at home, at church, at work, or wherever we go-can simply enter a room and change the atmosphere.
Another way we can bring peace is to help bring order out of chaos. Where there is clutter and confusion, simply stepping in to help organize and restore order reduces stress and tension. And we can have the courage to do this by calling upon the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The Word of God says that everywhere Jesus went He did good and destroyed the works of the devil-which produced peace (see Acts 10:38; 1 John 3:8). And Jesus said that if we believe on Him, the works He did we can do also, and even greater (see John 14:12). So as we go out and do what Jesus did, we will make peace, because He was, and is, the prince of peace, the greatest peacemaker the world has ever, or will ever know.
If you give this a try, don’t be surprised if people start calling you a child of God. After all, that is the Lord’s promise!
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake:
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men
shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of
evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding
glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they
the prophets which were before you (Matthew 5:10-12).
The idea of persecution being a blessing seems very strange, especially for believers in America. We have never experienced most of the things that missionaries and other Christians around the world have been forced to endure for the sake of the gospel. Yet Jesus said that we would have tribulation and suffering in this world. And for such monumental sacrifices, He said there would be great rewards and crowns.
I had great admiration for one of the girls in my home church. She married a minister and they went to South America as missionaries. The team with whom they were working was attacked by primitive warriors from the Auca Indian tribe, and my friend’s husband was one of the men who was killed.
The incident attracted international news coverage, and I vividly recall seeing a television interview with the father of the martyred young man. He was asked, “If you could have kept your son from going to South America and being killed as a missionary, would you have done so?”
I’ll never forget his answer. He shook his head and said, “Would I rob my son of the martyr’s crown?” Of course that father felt grief for his son’s death, but he expressed no bitterness or regret. He genuinely believed that his son would be blessed with a great reward in heaven because of the persecution he endured for the Lord (Revelation 2:10).
I truly believe all those who lose loved ones in God’s work receive a special measure of divine comfort. I believe God might well speak to their hearts saying, “I understand how you feel-I sent My Son into the world, and they crucified Him also.”
The psalmist declared, weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning (Psalm 30:5).
My challenge to you
I encourage you to underscore Matthew 5:3-11 in your Bible and read those few verses often. Life itself is in that short passage. Let the Holy Spirit impress each phrase of the Beatitudes on your heart and stamp them indelibly in your mind.
Remember, this kind of living is possible! Jesus would not have spoken these truths if they were not accessible for all of us! I believe that when you and I hide these words within our hearts and then open our mouths to speak, the Holy Spirit will give us the words that we should say. And when these utterances come forth from our mouths…
…the voices of the doves will be heard!
CHANGED LIVES-one at a time
Just a note to say “Thank You.” I was born again in July of 1972 from a life of sex, drugs and rock music (I was a back-up musician for Janis Joplin). A few weeks after being saved I left home to attend Bible College at Tennessee Temple. I had taken so much LSD that psychologists said I would never regain my short term memory. That same year you were preaching at the Highland Park Baptist Church. Dr. Lee Roberson arranged to allow me to speak with you and Rexella. You told me to memorize Scripture and God would give my memory back again. You were right! I was able to memorize the entire New Testament. The Lord put me in the ministry 43 years ago. During that entire time you have been one of the main influences in my life and ministry. For years as an evangelist and then pastor and now Christian Counselor, the Lord used you to help me to remain sound in doctrine.
After losing my wife I went to a university and earned a Ph.D…
Thank you and your lovely wife for your ministry and influence on my life. We are all growing older now, hence, I thought it was time to finally thank the two of you.
Wanted to tell you both how much I have loved your programs for so many years. And thank God you have never weakened in your messages, you stand firm don’t apologize for His tough stance when he makes clear what he accepts and what he won’t! Please keep on telling it like it is for He is the only true rock that doesn’t chip, change color or turn away if you trust and obey his will. I love my Lord, love you Brother and Sister and for the gathering where we will meet one day. God bless in all you do.
HIGHLIGHTED PRODUCT OFFERS
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Rampant addictions; a sign of the times? Now you’ll understand how God’s Word previews the bondage of alcoholism and drugs, tobacco, pornography, gambling, and more that we see all around us today as a sign of the soon return of the Savior and the approaching Tribulation.
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