How Should Christians Deal With Suffering?

WHY WE AS CHRISTIANS MUST SUFFER

John 16:33 – This world is full of suffering, we are not exempt. Suffering is a sign that we are alive.
1 Peter 1:7 – Tests our faith to prove it is strong and real faith that gives glory to Jesus.
James 1:3 – When faith is tested Endurance can grow.
Proverbs 3:11-12 – God, being our Father must discipline us to show his love for us. Discipline is a sign of his love.
Hebrews 12:7-8 – God disciplines his children, we are his children.

WHAT SUFFERING DOES TO US
James 1:4 – Develops perseverance.
Perseverance – perseverance = makes one steadfast.
Steadfast = firm in belief, determination, or adherence : LOYAL.

Jesus’s anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane

While Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He was in anguish to the point of even asking the Father if there was any other way it could be done. In a sermon I was listening to from my pastor, he brought up something interesting about this. He said that Jesus wasn’t in anguish over the fact that he knew how much physical and emotional pain he was going to have to go through, it was because he knew he was going to (for the first time in eternity) have his fellowship with the Father severed. Knowing that, was almost too much for him to endure. Even though he knew that severing of fellowship from God was going to be brief, it was a pain he could not fathom and did not want to have to experience if there were any other way to save all mankind. Jesus’ biggest fear was evident when the first recorded statement of his from the cross was “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Out of all the pain and torture he went through physically, God turning His face from Jesus was the only thing that made him cry out.

This passage also shows that our sins sever our fellowship with God. If we have unrepented sins in our lives, each of those severs our relationship with God more and more. That’s why repentance of each individual sin the Holy Spirit convicts you of is so important. Repenting of those sins breaks down those walls our sins have placed before God and God’s glory can fully shine through in our lives. It’s important to repent of each individual sin, not just say “God can you forgive my sins”…He wants us to admit each one as it is brought to our consciousness. The severing of fellowship with God that sin brings was never so clear as it was on the cross. As the sins of the world came upon Jesus, God turned His face away, severing fellowship with His son, causing Jesus to cry out in anguish.

Let us be conscious of a severed fellowship with God and repent of those roadblocks in our lives which prevent us from growing in our relationship with Christ!

13 Reasons Why The Rapture will be Pre-Tribulation

I. The Blessed Hope
1. The first reason we believe the Rapture takes place before the Tribulation is because it’s called the Blessed Hope in Titus 2:13
“. . . looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”
2. Remember what Paul said in 1 Thess 4:18?
“Therefore comfort one another with these words”
3. If the Rapture doesn’t occur until the middle or end of the Tribulation, where’s the comfort in that?
4. Let’s say you had never heard of the Rapture before and I was teaching it for the very first time.
a. and let’s pretend that I was telling you all about the Last Days
b. and I told you about the horrors of the Tribulation
1) all the death and destruction that will take place
2) I did a review of all the terrible things we find in the Book of Revelation
3) plagues, pestilence, famine, drought, economic and social upheaval on a scale never seen in history
4) a third of the earth’s population is wiped out, then another fourth!
5) the rise of the antichrist and false prophet
6) and finally, the Battle of Armageddon, earth’s worst and bloodiest war
c. and then I say, but comfort one another, cause when it’s all over, we’ll be caught up to meet the Lord in the air
d. you’d think I was nuts! There’s no comfort in knowing you’ve got to pass through all of that to get to the Rapture!
e. the ONLY comfort you could gain was by hoping the Last Days were a long way off in the future and that the return of Jesus was nowhere near.
5. But that isn’t at all what the Bible tells us our attitude ought to be!
a. we ought to be hoping and looking for the Rapture..
b. the comfort of the blessed hope, the Rapture, comes from knowing it comes before the hour of trial that is coming upon the whole earth.
II. God’s Wrath
1. In Revelation 6:15-17 we learn that the Tribulation is a time of God’s wrath being poured out on the earth-dwellers.
“15And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”
2. Yet 1 Thess 5:9-11 says
“9For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. 11Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”
3. We who’ve been born again are not appointed to God’s wrath and that is precisely what the Tribulation is ” the hour of God’s wrath, testing the hearts of the earth-dwellers.
4. God’s wrath against our sin was fully satisfied by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross.
a. when Jesus declared, “It is finished” he meant that the holy demands of God’s justice were completely satisfied
b. Jesus took our place on the Cross as the object of God’s wrath
c. therefore, it would be UNJUST for God to inflict His wrath on us!
5. We can’t be here for the Tribulation because it is the hour of God’s wrath and we’ve been saved from that very thing!
III. Lot
1. In Genesis 18, Lot and his family were delivered from the flaming judgment of God on wicked Sodom.
2. God didn’t protect them IN the judgment, He removed them FROM the very time and place of the judgment and took them up into the hills.
3. In 2 Peter 2:9, Peter speaks of Lot as an example and says
“. . . the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment”
4. What’s interesting is that the word translated “temptations” is the same word used for tribulation.
IV. Enoch
1. In Genesis 5 we read about Enoch.
2. His story is interesting because we read he never died, God simply took him one day!
3. This occurred prior to the Flood, which was God’s judgment on a rebellious world
4. Now, someone might counter and say, but what about Noah?
a. he was a righteous man too but he went through the Flood,
b. being protected by God in the ark
c. isn’t that a better picture of God protecting the Church during the Tribulation?
5. No ” Noah isn’t a picture of the Church ” He’s a picture of God’s sovereign protection of Israel during the Tribulation, a subject that gets much coverage in the Book of Revelation.
6. Noah pictures Israel, while Enoch represents the Church, which is raptured prior to judgment.
V. Daniel
1. Did you ever wonder where Daniel was when Shadrach, Mesheck and Abed-nego were in the fiery furnace in Daniel 3?
2. They were there for refusing to bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s image.
3. By the way, Nebuchadnezzar serves as a fitting picture and type of the antichrist who makes an image and demands the world to worship it.
4. Where was Daniel? Did he bow to the image? No way! So why wasn’t he with his three friends?
5. That’s the point! That he’s not even mentioned is a mystery ” foreshadowing the mystery of the Rapture of the Church.
6. Like Noah – Shadrach, Mesheck and Abed-nego represent Israel and how God will preserve them during the fiery trial of the Tribulation.
7. But Daniel’s absence pictures the Church’s absence from the very hour of the trial.
VI. We Are To Pray For Escape!
1. I’m a bit weary of those who mock the Pre-Tribulation position and say it’s escapist.
2. They say that countless believers have faced tribulation, persecution and martyrdom ” why should we hope to escape it?
3. The answer to that is simple ” the trouble previous generations of Christians have faced came from this corrupt and rebellious world system that hated them; it was satan’s wrath they endured.
4. Jesus told us to expect THAT kind of trouble.
5. But the trouble of the Tribulation comes from God’s hand ” it’s His wrath as we’ve already seen, and Jesus already paid that for us.
6. In Luke 21:34-36 Jesus said “
34“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.”
a. the “Day” He means here is the Day of the Lord, which begins with the Rapture!
“35For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.”
b. there’s that phrase ” “earth-dwellers” again
“36Watch 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.”
7. Compare what Jesus says here in Luke 21:36 with what he tells the Philadelphians in Revelation
“Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”
8. The Pre-Trib rapture isn’t escapist ” it’s the very thing Jesus told us to look and pray we’d be ready for.
VII. The Jewish Wedding Ceremony
1. In John 14 Jesus spoke some incredibly comforting words –
1“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2In My Father’s house are many dwelling palces; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
2. Being Gentiles brought up in the 20th Century, we miss out on how the original disciples would have heard and understood this.
3. You see, Jesus is using the terminology of the Jewish wedding ceremony.
a. once a man and woman were betrothed, he would return to his father’s house and add on a new room.
b. once the room was nearing completion, he would send a friend to go tell the betrothed that the time for the wedding was almost there
c. she would get ready, but rarely knew the precise moment of his arrival; it was part of the suspense and romance of the event that she had to wait without knowing the precise hour of his arrival.
d. but finally the day would come and the groom would go forth to claim his bride
e. his friends would go with him and make noise, blowing trumpets and shouting to let everyone know the time for the wedding had finally come.
f. when he arrived, there was a huge feast ” the wedding supper, after which the man would take his wife into the new room he’d made, and they would stay sequestered there for 7 days!
g. after which they would emerge and he would present her to the community as his beloved, sharing with him from then on in the life of the village.
4. This is how the Rapture will occur.
a. we are now betrothed to Christ and He has gone to prepare our chamber
b. we do not know the day or hour of His return, but we do know the times and seasons because He’s sent His friends, the prophets to describe them
c. when the time is ripe, He will come, with the voice of the archangel, a mighty shout, and the trumpet of God,
d. then He will take us to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and we’ll be sequestered with Him in heaven for the 7 years of the Tribulation.
e. then when He comes again, emerging from Heaven in glory, we come with Him to rule and reign for a 1000 years.
VIII. The Outline of Revelation
1. A Pre-tribulation rapture follows the outline for the Book of Revelation given to us in 1:19
“Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.”
a. a 3-fold division of Revelation is given here
b. the things John had seen ” meaning the vision of Jesus in ch. 1
c. the things which are ” are found in chs. 2 & 3 in the message to the 7 churches
d. and the things which will take place after this ” are found in chs. 4-22
e. in fact, that very phrase “after this” opens chapter 4
“After these things [meaning chs. 2 & 3] I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”
2. What happened to John? After speaking to the churches, He was taken up to heaven ” and it’s from that vantage point that he saw a description of the terrors of the Tribulation!
3. It’s interesting that the word “church” is used 18 times in chs. 1-3, but then isn’t used even once until the very end of Revelation.
4. Chapters 6-19 which describe the Tribulation don’t ever use the word “church!”
a. why?!
b. because the church isn’t on earth ” it’s in heaven!
c. Chs. 4 & 5 describe the church in heaven, worshipping God
5. If the Mid-Tribulation Rapture position is correct, then chs. 4 & 5 would have to be placed after chapter 11, and if the post-Tribulation view is right, chs. 4 & 5 would have to placed after chapter 19.
6. Only the Pre-Tribulation rapture makes sense of the flow of the Book of Revelation and follows the outline Jesus gave John in Revelation 1:19
IX. A Conditional Tribulation
1. In the Letter to the Church at Thyatira in Revelation ch. 2, Jesus rebukes the church for allowing a gross polluter of the Church to remain among them.
2. In v. 22 Jesus says –
“22Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.”
3. If the Rapture occurred after the Tribulation, this wouldn’t make any sense.
4. This is one more proof that the Rapture occurs before the Tribulation and will sort out the genuine believers from those who are mere professors.
5. Genuine believers will repent, and so be delivered from great tribulation.
X. Unknown Time Of Christ’s Return
1. One of the most powerful proofs for the Pre-Trib rapture is that it’s the only one that can account for the repeated reference to the coming of the Lord being at a time not expected.
2. Daniel 9 spells out clearly that there will be 1260 days from the time the Antichrist enters the temple in Jerusalem and declares himself god, till the Return of Jesus Christ.
3. Yet Matthew 24:36 makes it clear that no one knows the day of Jesus’s Return.
4. The only way to reconcile this is to see the Rapture and the Second Coming as two different events ” separated by 7 years.
5. The Jews of Jesus’s day missed His first coming because they had misinterpreted the prophecies of His coming.
a. one set of prophecies foretold a suffering servant
b. while the other set foretold a conquering King
c. they’d come to see the suffering servant prophecies as symbolic but interpreted the conquering king ones as literal.
d. so they looked for the Messiah to come in Majesty and missed His coming in humility.
6. We need to learn this lesson, for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ has two phases, just like the OT prophecies of the Messiah’s coming.
a. before Jesus comes to earth in glory as the Conquering King,
b. He will come secretly in the clouds to receive His bride.
7. This coming, as Paul says in 1 Thess. 5, is like a thief in the night, not a King in the mid-day sun.
8. No one knows when Jesus comes in the Rapture, which is very different from His actual Second coming, which will be 1260 days after the Antichrist enters the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem.
XI. Tribulation Is Unnecessary For The Church
1. In Jer. 30:7, the Tribulation is called Jacob’s trouble.
2. It’s called this because it’s a unique time in which God awakens the Jews to embrace Jesus as their Messiah.
3. In Deut 4, Moses made this remarkable statement “
“29From there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, when you turn to the Lord your God and obey His voice 31(for the Lord your God is a merciful God), He will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them.”
4. All of God’s promises to Israel will be fulfilled and it’s during the Tribulation that He will move decisively to make Himself known to her.
5. But in order for God to make Israel the focus of His redemptive attention, He will need to switch that focus off the Church.
6. The only way to do that, and not violate His promise to never leave nor forsake us is to take the church out of the earth and transport her to heaven.
XII. Squares With 70 Weeks of Daniel
1. This is a rather complex and involved proof, but one of the most powerful.
2. Let me try to summarize it as quickly as possible.
3. In Daniel 9, God told the prophet that 490 years had been set aside for God to deal with the Jews and Jerusalem in a special way of focus.
4. The first 483 of those years were fulfilled right down to the very day!
5. That leaves one last period of 7 years.
6. If the first 483 years were literal, we have to accept the last 7 as literal as well.
7. Now, God said these 490 years were all set aside for God’s unique focus on Israel.
8. So just as with reason XI, in order for God to turn his attention to the nation of Israel, He must turn His focus away from the Church, and the only way He can do that is if the Church has been raptured and is with Him in heaven.
9. The church wasn’t here for the first 483 years of Daniel’s prophecy; it’s not going to be here for the last 7 either!
10. And by the way ” as Daniel foretells, that last 7 years begins when the Antichrist forges a special agreement with many nations that appears to have something to do with the City of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple
11. In light of all that’s taking place in the Middle East today, and how the nations of the world are lining up trying to figure out what to do to bring peace, this all becomes very interesting to students of the Bible.
XIII. The Rapture Is Imminent!
1. Finally, the apostles and the early Church all believed in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.
2. We know that because they believed Jesus could come at any moment ” but they knew they weren’t in the Tribulation!
3. We find the expectation of Jesus’ coming all over the letters of Peter, Paul, and John!
4. The writings of the earliest of the church fathers carry a very strong expectation of the Lord’s coming for the Church.
5. This simply isn’t what we would find if they believed and taught a mid or post-tribulation rapture.
6. They took Jesus’ words literally and seriously when He said, “Watch and be ready, for in such an hour as you think not, the Son of Man comes.” [Matthew 24:42 25:13]
Conclusion
A. It Matters What You Believe!
1. The timing of the Rapture is not an essential of the faith.
2. And good people do disagree!
3. But we ought not say that it doesn’t matter what a person believes about this issue ” it does matter!
4. You see, it’s inevitable that when one believes the Rapture takes place is going to effect the way they live.
5. If I believe the rapture is before the Tribulation then I am going to live as if it could be any moment ” so I’ll be watching and ready for Him.
6. In 1 John 3:2-3 John writes “
“2Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
7. If I hold to a mid or post-trib position, then quite frankly I’m probably not very hopeful of the Lord’s coming!
a. I’d prefer it was stuck way off in the future because I don’t want to have to endure the Tribulation
b. and if it is near, I won’t be looking for Jesus so much as I’ll be looking for the evidences that I’m in the Tribulation.
c. instead of looking for Christ, I’ll be looking for antichrist, knowing I have to see him before I’ll see Jesus.
8. Also, if I have to endure the Tribulation, instead of keeping a light touch with the world, I’m going to be highly motivated to dig in.
9. I’ll develop a survivalist mentality, and start building a shelter and storing food and figuring out how not to take the mark of the beast.
10. So it does matter when you believe the Rapture takes place because what we believe is the basis for how we live.
Taken from Pastor Lance Ralston’s notes from Calvary Chapel of Oxnard

I. The Blessed Hope
1. The first reason we believe the Rapture takes place before the Tribulation is because it’s called the Blessed Hope in Titus 2:13
“. . . looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ”
2. Remember what Paul said in 1 Thess 4:18?
“Therefore comfort one another with these words”
3. If the Rapture doesn’t occur until the middle or end of the Tribulation, where’s the comfort in that?
4. Let’s say you had never heard of the Rapture before and I was teaching it for the very first time.
a. and let’s pretend that I was telling you all about the Last Days
b. and I told you about the horrors of the Tribulation
1) all the death and destruction that will take place
2) I did a review of all the terrible things we find in the Book of Revelation
3) plagues, pestilence, famine, drought, economic and social upheaval on a scale never seen in history
4) a third of the earth’s population is wiped out, then another fourth!
5) the rise of the antichrist and false prophet
6) and finally, the Battle of Armageddon, earth’s worst and bloodiest war
c. and then I say, but comfort one another, cause when it’s all over, we’ll be caught up to meet the Lord in the air
d. you’d think I was nuts! There’s no comfort in knowing you’ve got to pass through all of that to get to the Rapture!
e. the ONLY comfort you could gain was by hoping the Last Days were a long way off in the future and that the return of Jesus was nowhere near.
5. But that isn’t at all what the Bible tells us our attitude ought to be!
a. we ought to be hoping and looking for the Rapture..
b. the comfort of the blessed hope, the Rapture, comes from knowing it comes before the hour of trial that is coming upon the whole earth.
II. God’s Wrath
1. In Revelation 6:15-17 we learn that the Tribulation is a time of God’s wrath being poured out on the earth-dwellers.
“15And the kings of the earth, the great men, the rich men, the commanders, the mighty men, every slave and every free man, hid themselves in the caves and in the rocks of the mountains, 16and said to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17For the great day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

2. Yet 1 Thess 5:9-11 says
“9For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. 11Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.”
3. We who’ve been born again are not appointed to God’s wrath and that is precisely what the Tribulation is ” the hour of God’s wrath, testing the hearts of the earth-dwellers.
4. God’s wrath against our sin was fully satisfied by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross.
a. when Jesus declared, “It is finished” he meant that the holy demands of God’s justice were completely satisfied
b. Jesus took our place on the Cross as the object of God’s wrath
c. therefore, it would be UNJUST for God to inflict His wrath on us!
5. We can’t be here for the Tribulation because it is the hour of God’s wrath and we’ve been saved from that very thing!
III. Lot
1. In Genesis 18, Lot and his family were delivered from the flaming judgment of God on wicked Sodom.
2. God didn’t protect them IN the judgment, He removed them FROM the very time and place of the judgment and took them up into the hills.
3. In 2 Peter 2:9, Peter speaks of Lot as an example and says
“. . . the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment”
4. What’s interesting is that the word translated “temptations” is the same word used for tribulation.
IV. Enoch
1. In Genesis 5 we read about Enoch.
2. His story is interesting because we read he never died, God simply took him one day!
3. This occurred prior to the Flood, which was God’s judgment on a rebellious world
4. Now, someone might counter and say, but what about Noah?
a. he was a righteous man too but he went through the Flood,
b. being protected by God in the ark
c. isn’t that a better picture of God protecting the Church during the Tribulation?
5. No ” Noah isn’t a picture of the Church ” He’s a picture of God’s sovereign protection of Israel during the Tribulation, a subject that gets much coverage in the Book of Revelation.
6. Noah pictures Israel, while Enoch represents the Church, which is raptured prior to judgment.
V. Daniel
1. Did you ever wonder where Daniel was when Shadrach, Mesheck and Abed-nego were in the fiery furnace in Daniel 3?
2. They were there for refusing to bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s image.
3. By the way, Nebuchadnezzar serves as a fitting picture and type of the antichrist who makes an image and demands the world to worship it.
4. Where was Daniel? Did he bow to the image? No way! So why wasn’t he with his three friends?
5. That’s the point! That he’s not even mentioned is a mystery ” foreshadowing the mystery of the Rapture of the Church.
6. Like Noah – Shadrach, Mesheck and Abed-nego represent Israel and how God will preserve them during the fiery trial of the Tribulation.
7. But Daniel’s absence pictures the Church’s absence from the very hour of the trial.
VI. We Are To Pray For Escape!
1. I’m a bit weary of those who mock the Pre-Tribulation position and say it’s escapist.
2. They say that countless believers have faced tribulation, persecution and martyrdom ” why should we hope to escape it?
3. The answer to that is simple ” the trouble previous generations of Christians have faced came from this corrupt and rebellious world system that hated them; it was satan’s wrath they endured.
4. Jesus told us to expect THAT kind of trouble.
5. But the trouble of the Tribulation comes from God’s hand ” it’s His wrath as we’ve already seen, and Jesus already paid that for us.
6. In Luke 21:34-36 Jesus said ”
34“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.”
a. the “Day” He means here is the Day of the Lord, which begins with the Rapture!
“35For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth.”
b. there’s that phrase ” “earth-dwellers” again
“36Watch 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.”
7. Compare what Jesus says here in Luke 21:36 with what he tells the Philadelphians in Revelation
“Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.”
8. The Pre-Trib rapture isn’t escapist ” it’s the very thing Jesus told us to look and pray we’d be ready for.
VII. The Jewish Wedding Ceremony
1. In John 14 Jesus spoke some incredibly comforting words –
1“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2In My Father’s house are many dwelling palces; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
2. Being Gentiles brought up in the 20th Century, we miss out on how the original disciples would have heard and understood this.
3. You see, Jesus is using the terminology of the Jewish wedding ceremony.
a. once a man and woman were betrothed, he would return to his father’s house and add on a new room.
b. once the room was nearing completion, he would send a friend to go tell the betrothed that the time for the wedding was almost there
c. she would get ready, but rarely knew the precise moment of his arrival; it was part of the suspense and romance of the event that she had to wait without knowing the precise hour of his arrival.
d. but finally the day would come and the groom would go forth to claim his bride
e. his friends would go with him and make noise, blowing trumpets and shouting to let everyone know the time for the wedding had finally come.
f. when he arrived, there was a huge feast ” the wedding supper, after which the man would take his wife into the new room he’d made, and they would stay sequestered there for 7 days!
g. after which they would emerge and he would present her to the community as his beloved, sharing with him from then on in the life of the village.
4. This is how the Rapture will occur.
a. we are now betrothed to Christ and He has gone to prepare our chamber
b. we do not know the day or hour of His return, but we do know the times and seasons because He’s sent His friends, the prophets to describe them
c. when the time is ripe, He will come, with the voice of the archangel, a mighty shout, and the trumpet of God,
d. then He will take us to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb and we’ll be sequestered with Him in heaven for the 7 years of the Tribulation.
e. then when He comes again, emerging from Heaven in glory, we come with Him to rule and reign for a 1000 years.
VIII. The Outline of Revelation
1. A Pre-tribulation rapture follows the outline for the Book of Revelation given to us in 1:19
“Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this.”
a. a 3-fold division of Revelation is given here
b. the things John had seen ” meaning the vision of Jesus in ch. 1
c. the things which are ” are found in chs. 2 & 3 in the message to the 7 churches
d. and the things which will take place after this ” are found in chs. 4-22
e. in fact, that very phrase “after this” opens chapter 4
“After these things [meaning chs. 2 & 3] I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.”
2. What happened to John? After speaking to the churches, He was taken up to heaven ” and it’s from that vantage point that he saw a description of the terrors of the Tribulation!
3. It’s interesting that the word “church” is used 18 times in chs. 1-3, but then isn’t used even once until the very end of Revelation.
4. Chapters 6-19 which describe the Tribulation don’t ever use the word “church!”
a. why?!
b. because the church isn’t on earth ” it’s in heaven!
c. Chs. 4 & 5 describe the church in heaven, worshipping God
5. If the Mid-Tribulation Rapture position is correct, then chs. 4 & 5 would have to be placed after chapter 11, and if the post-Tribulation view is right, chs. 4 & 5 would have to placed after chapter 19.
6. Only the Pre-Tribulation rapture makes sense of the flow of the Book of Revelation and follows the outline Jesus gave John in Revelation 1:19
IX. A Conditional Tribulation
1. In the Letter to the Church at Thyatira in Revelation ch. 2, Jesus rebukes the church for allowing a gross polluter of the Church to remain among them.
2. In v. 22 Jesus says –
“22Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.”
3. If the Rapture occurred after the Tribulation, this wouldn’t make any sense.
4. This is one more proof that the Rapture occurs before the Tribulation and will sort out the genuine believers from those who are mere professors.
5. Genuine believers will repent, and so be delivered from great tribulation.
X. Unknown Time Of Christ’s Return
1. One of the most powerful proofs for the Pre-Trib rapture is that it’s the only one that can account for the repeated reference to the coming of the Lord being at a time not expected.
2. Daniel 9 spells out clearly that there will be 1260 days from the time the Antichrist enters the temple in Jerusalem and declares himself god, till the Return of Jesus Christ.
3. Yet Matthew 24:36 makes it clear that no one knows the day of Jesus’s Return.
4. The only way to reconcile this is to see the Rapture and the Second Coming as two different events ” separated by 7 years.
5. The Jews of Jesus’s day missed His first coming because they had misinterpreted the prophecies of His coming.
a. one set of prophecies foretold a suffering servant
b. while the other set foretold a conquering King
c. they’d come to see the suffering servant prophecies as symbolic but interpreted the conquering king ones as literal.
d. so they looked for the Messiah to come in Majesty and missed His coming in humility.
6. We need to learn this lesson, for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ has two phases, just like the OT prophecies of the Messiah’s coming.
a. before Jesus comes to earth in glory as the Conquering King,
b. He will come secretly in the clouds to receive His bride.
7. This coming, as Paul says in 1 Thess. 5, is like a thief in the night, not a King in the mid-day sun.
8. No one knows when Jesus comes in the Rapture, which is very different from His actual Second coming, which will be 1260 days after the Antichrist enters the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem.
XI. Tribulation Is Unnecessary For The Church
1. In Jer. 30:7, the Tribulation is called Jacob’s trouble.
2. It’s called this because it’s a unique time in which God awakens the Jews to embrace Jesus as their Messiah.
3. In Deut 4, Moses made this remarkable statement ”
“29From there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you seek Him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30When you are in tribulation, and all these things come upon you in the latter days, when you turn to the Lord your God and obey His voice 31(for the Lord your God is a merciful God), He will not forsake you nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which He swore to them.”
4. All of God’s promises to Israel will be fulfilled and it’s during the Tribulation that He will move decisively to make Himself known to her.
5. But in order for God to make Israel the focus of His redemptive attention, He will need to switch that focus off the Church.
6. The only way to do that, and not violate His promise to never leave nor forsake us is to take the church out of the earth and transport her to heaven.
XII. Squares With 70 Weeks of Daniel
1. This is a rather complex and involved proof, but one of the most powerful.
2. Let me try to summarize it as quickly as possible.
3. In Daniel 9, God told the prophet that 490 years had been set aside for God to deal with the Jews and Jerusalem in a special way of focus.
4. The first 483 of those years were fulfilled right down to the very day!
5. That leaves one last period of 7 years.
6. If the first 483 years were literal, we have to accept the last 7 as literal as well.
7. Now, God said these 490 years were all set aside for God’s unique focus on Israel.
8. So just as with reason XI, in order for God to turn his attention to the nation of Israel, He must turn His focus away from the Church, and the only way He can do that is if the Church has been raptured and is with Him in heaven.
9. The church wasn’t here for the first 483 years of Daniel’s prophecy; it’s not going to be here for the last 7 either!
10. And by the way ” as Daniel foretells, that last 7 years begins when the Antichrist forges a special agreement with many nations that appears to have something to do with the City of Jerusalem and the Jewish temple
11. In light of all that’s taking place in the Middle East today, and how the nations of the world are lining up trying to figure out what to do to bring peace, this all becomes very interesting to students of the Bible.
XIII. The Rapture Is Imminent!
1. Finally, the apostles and the early Church all believed in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.
2. We know that because they believed Jesus could come at any moment ” but they knew they weren’t in the Tribulation!
3. We find the expectation of Jesus’ coming all over the letters of Peter, Paul, and John!
4. The writings of the earliest of the church fathers carry a very strong expectation of the Lord’s coming for the Church.
5. This simply isn’t what we would find if they believed and taught a mid or post-tribulation rapture.
6. They took Jesus’ words literally and seriously when He said, “Watch and be ready, for in such an hour as you think not, the Son of Man comes.” [Matthew 24:42 25:13]
Conclusion
A. It Matters What You Believe!
1. The timing of the Rapture is not an essential of the faith.
2. And good people do disagree!
3. But we ought not say that it doesn’t matter what a person believes about this issue ” it does matter!
4. You see, it’s inevitable that when one believes the Rapture takes place is going to effect the way they live.
5. If I believe the rapture is before the Tribulation then I am going to live as if it could be any moment ” so I’ll be watching and ready for Him.
6. In 1 John 3:2-3 John writes ”
“2Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 3And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”
7. If I hold to a mid or post-trib position, then quite frankly I’m probably not very hopeful of the Lord’s coming!
a. I’d prefer it was stuck way off in the future because I don’t want to have to endure the Tribulation
b. and if it is near, I won’t be looking for Jesus so much as I’ll be looking for the evidences that I’m in the Tribulation.
c. instead of looking for Christ, I’ll be looking for antichrist, knowing I have to see him before I’ll see Jesus.
8. Also, if I have to endure the Tribulation, instead of keeping a light touch with the world, I’m going to be highly motivated to dig in.
9. I’ll develop a survivalist mentality, and start building a shelter and storing food and figuring out how not to take the mark of the beast.
10. So it does matter when you believe the Rapture takes place because what we believe is the basis for how we live.

Taken from Pastor Lance Ralston’s notes from Calvary Chapel of Oxnard

Who is Satan? (Part 3)

Why, if Jesus triumphed over Satan, is there still sin in the world?

It is possible that a sentence may be pronounced and made known some time before the sentence is actually executed. During this interval a criminal is said to be under sentence awaiting his execution which some higher authority has decreed. This period of sentence is that in which Satan appears in the present age, which had its beginning with the cross. Execution of this sentence would have banished him forever. That he has not been banished is revealed in the fact that he, even after his judgment, is referred to in the Scriptures as still being in authority over this world.

The real church, which is the bride of Christ, is to sit with Him upon His throne (Rev. 3:21; 1 Corinthians 6:2,3; Matt. 19:28), and the present age must continue until that glorious heavenly people are gathered out from the world. When all is said and done, those who refused God’s commands will stand self-condemned, and nothing can accomplish this but the testing, by trial, of all the self-sufficient claims of Satan and man. The sin of man has brought him under sentence too, and grace alone withholds his immediate execution (John 3:18; Romans 5:18,19). Though the day of execution is, by God’s will, delayed, it is certain; and the time is fast approaching when the complete destruction of all self-enthroned beings will be executed, and Christ alone will reign, “for He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet” (1 Corin. 15:25). The kingly Son of God will arise and claim the nations of the earth and “break them with a rod of iron; and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel” (Psalm 2:9).

Another reason for the delay in the termination of evil from the world and the execution of judgment upon Satan is that the presence of evil in the world provides the Christian with a ceaseless conflict by which he or she can develop the character to overcome. This type of victorious characteristic in the believer is priceless in God’s sight.

Conclusion
Satan is thus revealed in Scripture as having been created perfect in his ways, mighty in power, and full of beauty and wisdom. While blessed in this way, he proposed in his heart to make himself like God. Though remaining in heaven and having access to God, he (having taken the scepter of authority from Adam through Adam’s disobedience to God) is the ruling god of this world until God chooses to execute His sentence against Satan and his followers. In the middle of the tribulation Satan will be cast out of heaven onto the earth, with further access to heaven denied. From there he will be sent to the abyss during Christ’s reign in the Millennium and, after a short time of release, he and all who have ever followed him will be banished to the lake of fire (hell) forever.

Can anyone then doubt that this mighty being called Satan is a living power acting directly over the affairs of men in this self-glorifying age?

Who is Satan? (Part 2)

Has Satan Fallen From Heaven?

Does he still have access to the throne of God? According to the Bible, Satan still has access to heaven and God.

Ezekiel 28:16: “Thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God.” The prediction of this judgment is for a yet future event to happen when Satan is cast down out of heaven to earth in the middle of the Tribulation. This passage does not teach that Satan was cast out of heaven at the time of his sin and as an immediate judgment for his sin. It just states the sentence that has been given to Satan which has not yet been meted out (kind of like a person on death row; they have already been sentenced to die, but the punishment has not happened yet).

Job 1:6: “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.” In this passage, no confusion is apparent about the appearance and presence of Satan among the other heavenly beings. This passage shows his position in heaven and also reveals that, in the days of Job, Satan was free to go and come into heaven from the earth.

Luke 22:31: “And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.” From this passage, we must conclude that Satan still had unchallenged access to the presence of God when Jesus was on earth.

Ephesians 6:11-12: “11Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For 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.” According to the Scriptures, throughout this age the believer must be prepared to war against spiritual beings of wickedness who have access to heaven. The evidence presented in this passage shows Satan is not yet cast out of heaven.

There is another revelation concerning Satan’s present position in which it is declared that he now has access to earth as well as heaven, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 9Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world” (1 Peter 5:8-9). From these passages it may be concluded that the position of Satan in heaven and his freedom to go to and fro in the earth has not changed since the days of Job.

What Will Happen To Satan?

Revelation 12:7-9 is the first passage in the Word of God which declares Satan to actually be banished from heaven, “7And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, 8but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. 9So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” This passage also teaches that Satan remains in heaven until the time described here. According to its context in the book of Revelation, this is a yet future time when, in the middle of the Great Tribulation, Satan will be finally banished from heaven (along with his demons) and will personally indwell the person of the Antichrist.

Thus, there is no question concerning the sufficiency of the power of God over Satan. It is only a question as to when that power will be exercised. It is important to distinguish Satan’s yet future physical banishment out of heaven from his moral fall. He obviously fell morally at the moment of his refusal to obey God’s will for him, but his physical position throughout the ages until the Tribulation is in heaven. From this position, he has access to both God and to the earth. God’s final judgments against Satan are not yet executed. In like manner, God has not yet caused sin to cease in the earth; but the day is coming when He will. Also, Satan is still under God’s power; he cannot do anything without the knowledge and permission of God, hence Satan having to get permission from God to afflict Job in the Old Testament book of Job.

What Was Satan’s Sin?

Satan was the first being to manifest a will opposed to the will of God. Those passages from Isaiah state the sin of his pride, “I will ascend into heaven. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God. I will sit upon the mount. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds. I will be like the most High.” Satan seeks not to make a violent attack upon God’s throne, but to steal the hearts of the unfaithful in the kingdom and, through his lies and subtleties, gain a kingdom for himself. He would thus become an object of worship and attract attention from others to himself. It is apparent that pride was the first sin and thus pride is the sin from which all others stem from.

Satan triumphed over the first Adam when he wrested the scepter of authority from man by securing man’s loyal obedience to his own suggestions and deception. This earthly scepter Satan held by full right, seemingly without challenge from the Lord, until the advent of the Last Adam. Christ is considered the “last Adam” because through his sacrifice, he undid the curse of sin (which was eternal spiritual death for all humankind), thus undoing the curse on all mankind which the first Adam introduced to the world through his sin. However victorious Satan may have been over the first Adam, it is certain that he met a complete and final judgment and sentence in the Last Adam.

Referring to His sacrifice on the cross, Jesus said, “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out” (John 12:31). Still another scriptural testimony to this great defeat of Satan is recorded in Colossians 2:13-15 “13And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. 15Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” It is clear that though Satan may have triumphed over the first Adam and thus became the god and prince of this world, he himself was finally triumphed over and judged by the Last Adam on the cross.

Who is Satan? (Part 1)

Who And What Satan Was

Satan (aka. The devil, Lucifer, the Enemy) was a sort of archangel created by God to be a protector of God’s throne. The most revealing verse in the Bible dealing with Satan’s beginning (and end) is Ezekiel 28:11-19 (NKJV)

“11Moreover the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 12 “Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say to him, “Thus says the Lord GOD: “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. 13You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created. 14You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God; you walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. 15You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you. 16By the abundance of your trading you became filled with violence within, and you sinned; therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; and I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones. 17Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, that they might gaze at you. 18You defiled your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities, by the iniquity of your trading; therefore I brought fire from your midst; it devoured you, and I turned you to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all who saw you. 19All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you; you have become a horror, and shall be no more forever.””

In this passage, Satan is given the title “King of Tyre.”  Like the Psalms–where the psalmist is seemingly referring to himself, but the statements made and the conditions described could only be connected to the Messiah, Jesus Christ- so here that which is addressed to the “king of Tyre” is seen to be a direct reference to the person of Satan (since the descriptions cannot be related to any human who has ever lived). In verse 15 it is stated that Satan was created perfect, and in verse 13 that perfection is presented in detail by the use of the precious gems. He among all created beings was also “full of wisdom” and “perfect in beauty,” adding to the image of a perfect created being. In verse 14 he is called the “anointed cherub who covers”  making reference to the fact that Satan was created as a guard or protector to the throne of the Most High; he was the highest of all cherubs ever created (since cherubs are given the duty of servicing the throne). It is also stated in verse 14 that Satan was located upon the Holy Mountain of God, the mountain of God being a symbol of the center of God’s power, government, and eternal throne (see also Psalms 48:1 and Isaiah 2:2 for references to the Holy Mountain of God).

In verse 14, Satan is said to have been in “Eden, the garden of God,” which is evidently another Eden than that in which Satan appeared as a serpent. The Eden of Genesis was one of great greenery from vegetation and exceedingly beautiful, whereas the Eden stated in verse 14 has “stones of fire.”  This is probably referencing a place in heaven located near the throne.

The whole passage suggests a position of great authority for which Satan was created and anointed, and from which he fell, drawing with him a host of other angelic beings over whom he had governing power and influence. Again, in verse 15, it is stated that Satan was perfect in all his ways from the day he was created. It is important to note both that Satan was created, and that he was created perfect. Since he was created, he is not self-existent, and never can be free from his dependence upon the Creator. Satan was created a free moral agent, capable of choosing evil but not intended to do so. That he chose to do evil must always be to his own blame, since the Creator surrounded him with sufficient motives for doing good. Christ said of Satan in John 8:44, “He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth.”  The conclusion, then, is that Satan was created in perfection, truth, and goodness, but afterward turned to a state in which Christ went on to say of him, “There is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of [lies].”  Thus, an important teaching of the passage in Ezekiel is of Satan’s first position and power- a power and wisdom sufficient to guard the throne of God from every possible enemy, and a glory and beauty that would make him become the highest officer in the court of heaven.

Another revelation about the crime of Satan is set forth in Isaiah 14:12-20. Before I quote the passage, it should be noted that the prophet Isaiah’s vision of Satan is from the time of his final judgment and working backward from that point over Satan’s entire existence. Thus, much that is still future is referred to as though it were in the past.

The passage is as follows:

“12How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! 13For you have said in your heart: “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; 14I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be LIKE the Most High.’ 15Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, to the lowest depths of the Pit. 16Those who see you will gaze at you, and consider you, saying: “Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, 17Who made the world as a wilderness and destroyed its cities, who did not open the house of his prisoners?’ 18All the kings of the nations, all of them, sleep in glory, everyone in his own house; 19But you are cast out of your grave like an abominable branch, like the garment of those who are slain, thrust through with a sword, who go down to the stones of the pit, like a corpse trodden underfoot. 20You will not be joined with them in burial, because you have destroyed your land and slain your people. The brood of evildoers shall never be named.” (emphasis mine)

Notice Satan says he wants to be like the Most High.” He does not want to BE God”¦he wants to be like Him in power and authority. The title used in verse 12, “Lucifer, son of the morning,”  speaks of his first place in the celestial sphere, when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy (see Job 38:7). This is referencing Satan’s once exalted position in heaven, obviously he was extremely bright like a star, when all those heavenly beings created by God shouted for joy at the wonder of God’s creative works.