For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Matthew 24:21 (NASB)
First, let me say congratulations to my grandson, Christian Insley (I call him CJ) on earning his brown belt in karate. It was so much fun watching him spar last week. He’s a real go getter. Is it okay to brag about our kids and grandkids? I think God knows how much delight they give us. Their achievements have nothing to do with us. We didn’t earn them. They did. Yet we tend to glow with that reflected glory. I do think in a way that’s a picture of God. He also takes delight when we, his children, do well.
Don’t you wish sometimes that God had made a way for us to earn salvation? So many colors or stripes on our belt, and we would know for sure we were saved. Unless, of course, we did something to have one of those stripes taken away. Like boasting about it. Then we’d be in trouble. See, God knows our nature. We like to boast. We like to take credit. Probably that’s why He didn’t do it that way. There’s only One Way to heaven-Grace through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
I’ve spent the last several months studying Revelation with my Sunday afternoon Bible study group. We finished this past week. Not coincidentally, Pastor Derek Spain started a series on the end times just the week before, so now we’re working to connect Matthew, Daniel, and Revelation together to get a more complete picture of the events I believe will occur soon. Of course, the disciples thought the same thing more than 2,000 years ago.
The biggest point of contention seems to be whether a pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trib rapture will occur. As my friend Liz Marbut says, “It doesn’t matter. I just want to be on the first trib out!”
The Bible never uses the word “rapture.” We get the phrase from 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 when the dead in Christ and those who are yet alive will be caught up together in the clouds to meet Christ. Chapter five says the “day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night.” Matthew 24 describes the “coming of the Son of Man” as “just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west.” This certainly sounds like two separate events to me. One is hidden and one is highly visible to all.
Personally, I believe in a pre-tribulation rapture. God set the precedent when He saved Noah and his family before the flood and when He saved Lot’s family from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. But, I don’t believe everyone who calls themselves a Christian will be on that boat. The book of Revelation starts with messages to the churches. The message to the church at Philadelphia promises “because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”
On the other hand, the message to the church at Laodicea warns them to “buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.” These are the Tribulation saints-those who “buy” the white robes and the eye salve. They will have to pay for them with their lives. Many of them are probably already church members. Some may even be pastors and teachers. But they have never fully surrendered their lives to Him. So, they will go through the Great Tribulation. No, salvation still cannot be bought or earned. It comes only by grace through the shed blood of Christ. But there are always consequences to sin. So, if you haven’t fully surrendered to Jesus, I encourage you to “be on the first trib out” by doing so today. It’s the only way to get that “black belt”. God bless you all.