GRACE AND THE RAPTURE
In my studies of grace I have concentrated on the present, the Christian life here in this world. But grace also teaches us to look forward to the Rapture and resurrection of all Church Age believers. This will be the last topic on the subject of grace.
In Titus 2:13 we see that grace teaches us to look for "That blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ." The emphasis here is not the fact of His coming, but on the fact that the believer should be looking for that event. The believer should be in a state of constant expectancy of His return. This state of expectancy will have an important influence on the believer's life. That is why grace teaches us to look for that "blessed hope."
The Lord Jesus Christ will return in the clouds to receive His own, His Church, His Bride, unto Himself. This is the greatest teaching that God has given any people. This event will begin an eternal state for everyone who has believed in Jesus Christ, living and dead. They shall be given bodies that are designed exactly like the glorious body of Jesus Christ, Philippians 3:21, "Who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be LIKE UNTO HIS GLORIOUS BODY." I John 3:2, "Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be LIKE HIM, for we shall see him as he is."
This coming of Christ in the clouds, which we call the Rapture, must not be confused with Christ's coming to set up His kingdom. When these two events are confused with each other, the teachings of grace are also confused. The first event, the Rapture, has to do with a heavenly position for every believer in Christ. The second advent, the actual bodily return of Christ to this earth, has to do with earthly blessings, primarily for Israel, but all nations will be involved.
Some teach that unless you measure up to certain standards you will not be received up with Christ when He returns at the Rapture. That makes purity of living a condition for being changed into the image of the Son of God, and is a contradiction of the clear teaching of grace. If being changed into the likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ and entering into a glorious eternity with Him should in the least degree depend upon living up to certain standards, such living would be a personal gain. The motive then would be selfish, and that life would not be lived entirely unto God. It is only when God, under grace, freely gives everything apart from any and all human merit, is a life entirely for God made possible.
No man-made religion has ever offered such an appeal to its followers. The appeals of religious systems always offers a reward for human merit. It is very important to notice that whenever there has been any corruption of true Christianity, the teachings of grace to teach purity of life and godly living are immediately lost. In the place of the teachings of grace are substituted appeals based on human merit and on fear.
Grace, in teaching believers to look for the appearing of their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, points to the fact that we are His children; that the Lord Jesus Christ will return and receive us to Himself, and that all of us will be changed to His image. Grace also teaches us that these things can be known and understood here and now, in this life.
In closing out this study, you should know and understand that everything we have, everything we ever hope to be, and everything that we will have and enjoy in the future is because of the courtesy of the grace of God. He gave you human life at the point of your physical birth, that is grace; He gave you eternal spiritual life at the point of your new birth, that is grace; and He will give you an eternal physical life with a glorious resurrection body in the future, and that is grace. All of this plus so much more is because of His matchless and marvelous grace. We do not earn it, and there is nothing we can do to ever deserve it. David is probably one of the best examples of a man who failed many times. He committed adultery, he stole anaother man's wife, he committed murder, and, in telling a single lie, over 20,000 people died. And yet, inspite of all that, David never gave up. Everytime he failed he always returned to the Lord, confessed his sins, and moved on. That is why the writer of the book of Acts says in Acts 13:22, the Lord said referring to David, "Here is a man after my own heart, and a man who will do my will." That is grace.
Therefore, it is very important to understand that it isn't your failures, or your sins, or your wickedness that God is really concerned with. His greatest desire is that no matter what you are, and no matter what you have done, that you turn to Him. If you have never believed in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior then I encourage you to do so now. "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved." (Acts 16:31). "Whoever believes (trusts in, relies on, places faith) in him is not condemned....." That is grace in salvation. "....these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, (the Messiah) the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name." (John 20:31). No human being has ever earned or deserved God's "so great salvation." Yet He gives it to all who will place their faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.
In the Christian life we fail everyday. We sin in many different ways, and yet God's grace is right there ready to help us and to deliver us from all our sins and failures and bad decisions. I John 1:9 simply says, "If we confess (acknowledge) our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." That is grace. Do you think that we deserve forgiveness for some of the wicked things we have done? NEVER! But because of the grace of God we not only can be forgiven, but we can be restored to perfect fellowship with the God of all creation. Believe in His grace, and trust in His grace. You will never be disappointed.
Return to MBC Bible Doctrine Links Page LINK: Animated graphic courtesy of Christopher J. Whyte Copyright 1999 by Robert H. Kreger. All rights reserved. Anyone may reproduce this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.
LINK: Animated graphic courtesy of Christopher J. Whyte
Copyright 1999 by Robert H. Kreger. All rights reserved. Anyone may reproduce this material and distribute it, but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's written consent.