Tom: You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him.
The topic for this segment of our program is Dave Hunt’s book When Will Jesus Come? Compelling Evidence of the Soon Return of Christ.
Now, Dave, last week I mentioned that one of the complaints that people have about the Rapture of the church—that is, Christ returning prior to His Second Coming to take those who are true believers in Him to heaven as His bride, both those living and those who have died having faith in Him. Well, one of the things they say is that such a belief leads to being so heavenly minded that a person is no earthly good. And certainly the focus of the Rapture is heaven, but that’s also the focus of Christianity: being where Christ is! I mean, isn’t it?
Dave: You’re exactly right, Tom. Jesus said, “Don’t lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, but lay up treasures in heaven. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” So our heart was supposed to be in heaven. Of course, there was no one of so much earthly good as Christ, and He was more heavenly minded than anyone, so that kind of lays that saying to rest.
It depends on what you mean by “earthly good.” What do you mean by earthly good?
“Oh, well, we’re not helping to reconstruct the world, we’re not helping to rebuild society. What we want is a safe place for our great-grandchildren to be raised in.”
Tom: They want to take care of issues like global warming, and the environment…
Tom: …which, you know, there’s stewardship involved as a believer in Christ, certainly.
Dave: Sure, sure. But how did Jesus define earthly good? “Go unto all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Okay? That’s the best good you could do on this earth is to bring people to Christ. And if we brought everybody to Christ, if everyone was converted, became real Spirit-filled believers walking with the Lord, it would certainly change this world as nothing else can.
So it’s not programs, it’s not efforts…although, as you said, Tom, we’re in favor of trying to take care of the earth—cut down on the emissions and don’t just destroy our forests, and so forth. On the other hand, that is secondary compared with one’s eternal soul, and a person can leave this earth at any moment in death. So the first thing we need to do is bring them to Christ. When they come to Christ, they are new creatures in Christ Jesus. “Old things have passed away; all things have become new.” That changes everything.
Tom: Dave, I also think about time. For example, the Scripture tells us that, you know, the world and the things of the world are passing away. This is like a moment in time compared to eternity. So to be putting all my energies in something that’s fleeting as opposed to something that will last forever, for eternity…. So, Dave, that doesn’t quite make sense, although we do have people putting all their time and energy in restoring this world, getting this world ready for something.
Dave: Yeah, we’ve seen it happen to too many, Tom, and that’s a major problem. “Well, we ought to oppose abortion.” Yes, we ought to oppose abortion. Then what happens? These people are doing nothing but opposing abortion! And then they’re in coalitions or partnerships with other people who don’t believe the gospel. I’ve got a Catholic on this side of me and a Mormon on that side, maybe a Buddhist back here—he’s non-violent—or an atheist, but he’s opposed to abortion. Well, I can’t tell these people the gospel, because that would break up the coalition! So then it leads to compromise, and it leads to, as you said, just putting all our attention on this world. They would say, “Well, we don’t mean that,” but that’s what it ends up doing. And then they say, “Well, you put all your attention on heaven.” Well, that’s what the Bible says, that I should be heavenly minded. I should be seeking those things which are above where Christ sits at the right hand of God. “Set your affection on things above”—this is Colossians 3—“above where Christ sitteth. For ye are dead, your life is hid with Christ in God,” and so forth.
Anyway, Tom, I would say a greater need in the church—of course, the world doesn’t know anything about the Rapture. They would ridicule it. They do not want to go to heaven. So forgetting the world…
Tom: Well, they want to avoid hell, Dave. They want to avoid anything out there that might be uncomfortable…
Tom: …but in terms of heaven and Christ and our blessed hope and being with Him forever, and having our love for Him grow and grow, that’s what they’re not interested in.
Dave: Well, Tom, you were raised a Catholic, and Catholics certainly wanted to avoid hell.
Tom: Yeah, some weren’t even thrilled about purgatory!
Dave: Right, but you get in hell, there’s no hope.
Dave: Get in purgatory, you can be prayed out. But, Tom…
Dave: But, Tom, you know most of them didn’t go to Mass. They were supposed to—I mean, maybe Christmas and Easter or something like that. Well, you know—you know Catholicism. They were already damned if they didn’t go on certain days when you were…
Tom: It’s a mortal sin not to…
Dave: …obligated! Days of Obligation.
Tom: Sunday, every Sunday is a Day of Obligation, and the Days of Obligation that we sort of thought about, you know—All Saints Day, and Christmas.
Dave: So anyway, what is it then? Well, they would like to have Extreme Unction said for them if they die suddenly…
Tom: The Last Rites of the Church, the Viaticum, which moves us from this earth, this world, to the next.
Dave: Right. So they may not have gone to Mass in 30 years. When they die, they want a Catholic funeral, they want a priest there, and so forth. So that’s hardly what Paul says: “Set your affection on things above where Christ sitteth at the right hand of God.” That’s not setting one’s affection up there. The person has been so earthly minded and been living for themselves and for pleasure, but when it comes to dying, “Oh, well, God, I hope you’ll let me in now!”
I often use this, if I happen to be speaking on a Mother’s Day or… Here’s a rebellious teenager, just breaks his mother’s heart all year. But on Mother’s Day, oh! he gives her a nice card, or a nice present—what does that do to the mother’s heart? This is so phony!
So we’re talking about setting our affections on things above—not being earthly minded, but being heavenly minded. And that means that I’m living for Christ. If I’m living for Christ, I love Christ, I want to be with Him. I’m not trying to make this world a better place for my grandchildren, although there is some value in that, as well. But basically, that’s going to change my life. I will not be selfish, I’ll be living for others. I’ll be sharing the gospel, and that will transform the world. Nothing else will.
Tom: Dave, you write in your book…again, we’re talking about—we’re going through, if you’ve just joined us, we’re going through When Will Jesus Come? It’s a book written by Dave Hunt, and we’re in chapter—let’s see…
Dave: Well, if they just joined us, they need to know it’s only in this segment of the program. We don’t do it for the whole hour!
Tom: Right. Chapter 13 on the Rapture. Dave, you write, “Israel was promised a land and a kingdom on this earth. The church has been promised a home in heaven.”
Dave: That’s right. But there are Jews who, if they turn to Christ, they receive Christ, they’re in the church, too. So we’re talking about the Jews who are left alive on this earth at the Second Coming, not the Rapture. The Rapture has already occurred, and they will—well, two-thirds of all Jews on this earth will be killed. Now, those are not my words, that’s not my idea. It’s not anti-Semitism. This is what Zechariah, the Hebrew prophet, said. This is what God has said. And they will remain on this earth in the earthly kingdom, and Christ will rule over them on the throne of His father David, and we will reign with Christ, Scripture says.
But, Tom, you…
Tom: But, Dave, you mentioned earlier about solving the world’s problems: they’re going to get solved. Jesus is going to rule and reign from Jerusalem for a thousand years. The Mount of Olives will be split; there will be refreshing, renewing waters that will go to the East and to the West, and the earth will be transformed. The problems that we see now will be solved by our Lord Jesus Christ.
Dave: “The desert will blossom like a rose.”
But, Tom, you mentioned something very important here. You said the church is promised a heavenly home, Israel an earthly land, a land on this earth. This is something that is absolutely unique to Christianity. You don’t have to die to get to heaven. We’re talking about the Rapture. Nobody else promises that. Jesus said that He would come and take us to His Father’s house. We talked about that these past few programs. Buddha didn’t make such a promise. Of course, Buddha didn’t even promise to come back. How could he? He’s—his remains, I guess, are the dust that’s left still in the grave. Same thing with Mohammad, and I don’t know how Mohammad can promise anyone to get to paradise when he’s not even there himself. They would dispute that, but give me some evidence that says Mohammad is there. And the promise of Islam is, “Kill a few people in jihad, and you get a heavenly reward.” I don’t know what kind of a god gives you heavenly reward for killing people. And furthermore, in Judgment Day!, we document it for you: Mohammad himself, when he was asked, he said, “You can’t be sure.” Even a suicide bomber can’t be sure.
Tom: Dave, I would encourage anyone who’s taking exception to what you said: Read through the Hadith. Look at the character of Mohammad, and that’s why he would say something like that! I mean, he’s got a problem if, in his belief system, Allah has a balance, has a scale, weighing somebody’s good deeds as opposed to their evil deeds. Just go through the Hadith and see what’s written about Mohammad. Bad news! I don’t know if he could manage the scale system.
Dave: Well, scale system is ridiculous. But no, Mohammad wouldn’t…
Well, anyway, that’s not our subject, I guess. But the reason we got onto that is because it is only Jesus Christ in Christianity who says, “I’ll take you to heaven.” He’s going to take us there. Not only the dead will be resurrected and taken there, but as Paul says, “We who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them.” Our bodies will be transformed into new bodies suited for space travel, or whatever it is, living in heaven and on earth. No one else promises that. The Indians had their “Happy Hunting Ground,” you know, and we could go on and talk about the Buddhists and the Hindus and the various sects.
Dave: But we don’t get embalmed, and we don’t have stuff buried with us in the coffin to live with in the afterlife. Only Jesus said, “I’ll take you to heaven. If you happen to be dead before I come back, I’m going to resurrect you. If you are still living, I’m going to transform your body, and I’ll take you to heaven without even dying.” Now, that’s pretty fantastic stuff, Tom, and that is absolutely unique to Christianity.
Tom: Dave, a point of maybe some confusion out there: somebody might be thinking, Well, wait a minute, I thought when a believer dies, he goes to heaven, or she goes to heaven?
Dave: Very good point, Tom. Yeah, they do. “Absent from the body, present with the Lord, which is far better.” Paul…that’s—that’s 2 Corinthians 5.
Paul in Philippians 1 said, “I have a desire to depart and to be with Christ.”
And to Timothy, 2 Timothy 4, Paul said, “The time of my departure is at hand.” He’s leaving! His body wasn’t going to leave; his body would be laid in the grave. What could be leaving? Soul and spirit: “absent from this body, present with the Lord.” I saw the light go out in my mother’s eyes, sitting right beside her. She went to be with the Lord. One moment there’s something inside of that body, the next moment nothing inside of that body. It’s an empty shell which she has left. I was holding my father in my arms, actually, carrying him when he went to be with the Lord, and you see it suddenly. There’s nothing in there. The soul and the spirit have gone, and that’s why 1 Thessalonians 4, beginning in verse 13, Paul says, “Those who sleep in Jesus,” that is, their bodies.
We don’t believe in soul sleep. They’re conscious in heaven; otherwise why would Paul say, “It’s better…I’d rather depart and be with Christ”? What, so he could take a long, long sleep and wake up a few thousand years later and not know any time had passed? You know, that’s what Seventh Day Adventists and various ones teach. Obviously he was going to be with Christ.
He said, “To remain in the flesh would be more needful for you, and I really can’t decide which one of these I want, because I want to continue on this earth serving Christ, but I would really rather depart and be with Him.” Now, you can’t possibly say he meant, “Oh, I’d like to go to sleep and only wake up at the Rapture,” or whatever.
Okay, so then Paul writes in 1 Corinthians:4:13, he says, “I don’t want you to sorrow like others who sorrow.” I’m not going to quote it verbatim, because we don’t need to do that. We’ve quoted it many times. “But I want you to understand, don’t sorrow like others do. But if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, those who sleep in Jesus shall God bring with Him.” Well, it’s not their body that He’s bringing with Him. Their soul and spirit must be with Jesus, and He’s going to bring the souls and spirits of those who have died in faith in Christ. He’s going to bring them with Him, and the dead in Christ will rise first, it says. So they will be reunited, but now with new bodies, not the dust, decay, or what…been consumed, or whatever.
What did I see on the internet just yesterday—who was it that had…he was going to have his ashes shot out into outer space or whatever? Some people want to have their ashes sprinkled here and there. Well, if that’s all they think they are, then I don’t know what it would mean to have your ashes sprinkled around. What’s the point?
Tom: I have no idea.
Dave: It’s like Carl Sagan, “Sagan the Pagan,” who was so thrilled with, “You know what? It could be some of the carbon and hydrogen atoms in your body were once part of a distant star system! Whoa! And when you die, some of the atoms in your body will….” Oh, come on. What is the point? It’s meaningless. But Jesus said He will give us new bodies. What happens if somebody’s body has been eaten up or it’s been burned up, or…you don’t have the same atoms in your body today that you had yesterday, not entirely. We keep taking in new and giving out the old, so the Lord will reconstitute us. But He’s going to—be a new, new kind of atoms. You can walk through a wall, you can zip and you’re somewhere else!
Tom: If what He demonstrated is any indication, absolutely.
Dave: Well, it says, “When we see Him, we will be like Him.” We’re going to be like Him.
Okay. So, Tom, taking too long on this, but this is fantastic. This is the hope of the Christian, and it’s called “that blessed hope,” and we are to look for it.
So the dead in Christ, their bodies are in the grave, but their souls and spirits return with Christ. The body is resurrected, they are reunited, a new body of glory, and we who are living, alive, we are transformed, our bodies are transformed. And Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 15—he says, “Behold, I show you a mystery. We won’t all sleep,” that is, we won’t all die, “but we will all be transformed in a moment. In the twinkling of an eye, the dead in Christ will rise first, and we who are alive shall be changed, and we’ll be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air.”
Okay, so that’s what we’re talking about. That’s the Rapture.
Tom: And again, there are so many scriptures to this end. I’m thinking about Philippians:3:20, Dave. “For our conversation…” Actually, the word means our citizenship. “For our citizenship is in heaven, from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ who shall change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.”
Dave: Tom, may I quote another little poem, a little hymn? Just a…
Tom: Sure, I love it when you do that…
Dave: …just a couple of verses.
Tom: …because I can’t remember poems! I’m amazed that you remember every poem you’ve ever heard, Dave!
Dave: Well, not quite, not quite.
Tom: Well, almost it seems to me! But anyway…
Dave: I remember a lot of them. But this is a beautiful hymn: “These earthen vessels…” That’s this body. In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul says, “We have this treasure in earthen vessels. The excellency of the power is of God and not of us.”
So this hymn says, “These earthen vessels break…”
In fact, Tom, I should say hymns like this mean a lot more to you when you get older, because these things are breaking down now!
These earthen vessels break,
The world itself grows old,
But Christ the Lord our dust will take
And freshly mold.
He will give these bodies vile
A fashion like His own,
He’ll make the whole creation smile
And hush its groan.
So that’s what we’re looking for: new heavens and a new earth where “indwelleth righteousness.”
Tom: Matthew:5:12, Dave: “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven.” And reward is being with Him for all eternity!
Dave: Amen, amen.
Tom: Absolutely fantastic.
Dave, what about the reward aspect? I get a little self-conscious about it, because you don’t want to find yourself, “Well, I’m doing this, you know, and I’m going to be rewarded for it, and so on.” But the reality is there will be rewards! Being with Him first and foremost, but after that…
Dave: Yeah, Tom, I have a tough time with that, because I say to the Lord over and over, “Lord, I don’t want any reward for this. I am not worthy of any reward.” Just even the thought of reward just…I just cannot imagine it. How could I be rewarded for something? I’m such an unfaithful servant, and whatever good I’ve done, the Lord has done it through me. His strength, His grace. So I just say, “Lord, I don’t want to even think about a reward, I just want to do this because I love you, and I’d like to be of some value on this earth, and I’d like to win someone to Christ. I want to give joy to your heart, Lord. I want you to…”
As Isaiah 53 says, “He will see the travail of his soul and be satisfied.” What He suffered to purchase us, to transform us and to bring us into His presence forever, that He will see that, and that something…
“Lord, You’ve been able to transform me. You’ve been able to take me and use me.” That’s all you could ever want, Tom. The last thing you would think of is the reward, and that’s why in heaven they throw their crowns at His feet.
Tom: Mm-hmm. Dave, it’s so far removed that, you know, we’ve been talking about Islam in past programs, and their reward is the things they lust for on this earth.
Tom: How sad! What a counterfeit! What a cheap…
Tom: …imitation of the reality of…
Dave: Right, yeah. They are not allowed alcoholic drinks on this earth, but in paradise, the rivers run with wine.
Tom: And sex. It’s all about sex.
Dave: Can only have four wives at once on this earth. In paradise they’ll have hundreds and even thousands, depending on the kind of reward they get. Depends on how many guys you kill in jihad! You get a whole lot more virgins. It’s just tragedy, Tom, because they believe this lie, and that’s taking them in the wrong direction.