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The Second Coming of Christ
Dave: The Day of Christ—the Day of the Lord—are one and the same. Now, you have to come to your own conclusions. First Thessalonians chapter 5…well, let’s read verse one: “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I write unto you (1 Thessalonians:5:1). Isn’t that amazing? We’ve mentioned that a couple of my favorite epistles, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, the first epistles Paul wrote, he only spent at the most three-and-a-half weeks with the Thessalonians—He taught them everything! These were pagans! They turned to God from idols to serve the living and the true God, to wait for His Son from heaven. He taught them about the Rapture, and so forth.
As we mentioned, we have Christians who’ve been at least professing Christians for years, and they hardly understand anything! Read what Paul says to these people! But anyway, he says, “I don’t even need to tell you about the times and seasons, brethren. You know perfectly that the Day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.”
Now, I don’t think you could put that thief in the night—and we’ll come back to that, again, because I believe in a Pre-Tribulation rapture. I don’t think you get anything else from the Bible. But how would you have the Day of the Lord beginning as a thief in the night, supposing it began at the end of the Great Tribulation? It’s not going to be a thief in the night; it’s not going to surprise anybody. I mean, you’ve seen all of these events, exactly as the Bible foretold them: Jerusalem surrounded by the armies, the world about to go down in flames, the Antichrist has been in control, he’s put his image in the Temple, and so forth. I mean, that’s hardly a thief in the night! At the end of the Millennial Reign of Christ—that’s hardly a thief in the night. Satan is loosed, and so forth.
So, I think that the only time you could have the Day of the Lord beginning as a thief in the night would be before the Great Tribulation. The Rapture, which comes as a thief in the night marks the beginning of the Day of the Lord.
So, anyway, 2 Thessalonians 2—so, if you believe in a Pre-Trib Rapture, would you be upset to know that the Day of the Lord was at hand? Praise God! We’re about to leave! If you believe in a Mid-Trib Rapture, would you be upset? No, we’ve got…. If you believe in a Post-Trib Rapture, would you be upset? No, I mean, we’ve got to go through this thing. Let’s get on with it, you know.
Nobody would be upset. My marginal note—oh, and by the way, there was no such marginal note in the 1611 King James—says, “Now present.” And if you want to read at hand, check up, look it up in your concordance, or whatever: “At hand,” that expression all through the King James Bible from Genesis to Revelation means, “It’s about to come. It’s at hand. It hasn’t yet come.” Nobody would be upset if that were the case.
But what if it is now present? If the Day of the Lord had already come, then who would be upset? Well, only those who had been taught of a Pre-Trib Rapture. If Paul had taught you of a Pre-Trib Rapture, and that the Rapture occurred, and then the Day of the Lord began, and now, you get a letter from Paul saying “The Day of the Lord is already come,” then either you’ve been left behind or Paul made a mistake, and he’s not an apostle.
So, it’s a very powerful scripture for a Pre-Trib Rapture. Nobody would be upset, if you’re Mid-Trib, Post-Trib, Amillennial, or whatever and the Day of the Lord has already come, why would you be upset? Well, we’ve got to get on with this thing.
Okay, so, now, “What about this thing called the ‘Rapture’? That word isn’t even in the Bible.”
Well, neither is “Trinity” in the Bible. But Rapture is in the Bible, if you could read Latin, which I can’t. You go back to 1 Thessalonians 4, and you would find at the beginning of verse 13 in that passage, you will find, “rapere” is the infinitive, “raptus” is the word that is used, and it’s a Latin expression that means “an ecstatic catching away.” Doesn’t it say, “The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up [that’s rapere, raptus, we shall be raptured] caught up together with them, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” That’s what it says.
It sounds to me like a Rapture! It sounds to me like we’re being taken off of this earth. In John 14 (and we kind of have to talk fast, and sometimes we’ll have to quote the scriptures rather than turning to them), but you know the Scripture in John 14 that Jesus says, “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 away and prepare a place for you, I will come again…” John:14:1-2.
Buddha never said he would come again. Muhammad never said he would come again. It would have been nonsense, because they’re dead. But Jesus, although He said He would die, He would come again, because He said He would rise from the dead the third day.
So Jesus says, “If I go away, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” Sounds to me like He’s going to catch us up and take us away from this earth, doesn’t it?
I don’t see how people can deny the Rapture and say that it’s not biblical teaching! I was on the radio, and a Catholic called in, and I don’t remember what I said that upset this Catholic, but the Catholic called in and said, “I want you to know that we Roman Catholics do not believe what you evangelicals believe!”
Well, I said, “Thank you very much, because when I try to tell my evangelical friends that, a lot of them won’t believe me! Maybe they’ll take it from you!”
And then this Catholic said, “And we don’t believe in the Rapture.”
Well, I think I mentioned that earlier this week, didn’t I? A couple of days ago? “Well,” I said, “of course you don’t believe in the Rapture. How could you believe in the Rapture if you believe in Purgatory? People have to spend different lengths of time in Purgatory.” Some people, if you die wearing the brown scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which on one of it says, ‘Whosoever dies wearing this scapular shall not suffer eternal fire,” and Mary (this is the fake Mary, the phony Mary), but Mary promised that “those who die wearing her scapular, the Saturday after their death, she will go into Purgatory and personally take them to heaven.” Well, then, you get out pretty fast. But otherwise, you may not get out so fast. And you have to have Mass after Mass after Mass, and a Mass Card that says, when you open it up, “With the sympathy of [fill in your name], a Mass will be said for the repose of the soul of [fill in the name of the deceased] and you give that, with an offering, to the priest, and he will put that on the altar when he says Mass. And that will supposedly reduce the time of suffering for that poor soul some unspecified amount. Nobody knows.
So, therefore, you have to say Mass after Mass after Mass. A friend of mine, his father died, and he said they bought more than $2000 worth of Mass cards at the funeral, because you never know…. And one of the ways that they will entice you to buy more Mass cards is the one you buy may be the one that will open the gate to heaven!
So, I said to this Catholic, “You believe in Purgatory. People are in there for different lengths of time. How could you possibly have a simultaneous resurrection of all the dead? Some of them haven’t done their time in Purgatory!”
And then it says, “We who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them.”
How could you have a “catching up” of the living who haven’t even been to Purgatory, when your church clearly teaches that it was not enough for Christ to suffer on the cross, you must suffer for your own sins as well. And, basically, mainly, I mean I’ve never met a Catholic who didn’t expect to go to Purgatory. If you go to hell, you’re finished. But if you go to Purgatory (which is not a biblical teaching), well, at least you have hopes of finally getting out if you suffer long enough. So, they couldn’t believe in the Rapture. So, the Catholic Church denies the Rapture.
But the Bible teaches it! Now, what about the difference, then, between the Rapture and the Second Coming, which suggests that there’s a difference. Well, at the Rapture, as the verses that we’ve quoted tell us clearly, Christ comes for His own. “The dead in Christ shall rise first…” Well, in fact, it says, “Those who sleep in Jesus shall God bring with Him” (1 Thessalonians:4:14), that is the souls of the spirits of those who died with faith in Christ—they were “absent from the body,” the scripture says, “present with the Lord.” Their soul and their spirit has been with Christ in heaven; their body has been dead in the grave, and when He comes, He brings the souls and spirits of those who died with faith in Christ, He brings them down with Him, and He resurrects their body, and the body is reunited with the soul and spirit, and the living—that is, those who have faith in Christ—we are transformed (1 Corinthians:15:51): “Behold, I show you a mystery,” Paul says, and the mystery is not some secret, but it’s something that has not been understood in the past that is now being revealed. This is the meaning of the word. “Behold, I show you a mystery. We will not all sleep.” In other words, we won’t all die. “But we will all be changed….” You have to be changed. You can’t get through the roof without being changed.
I remember when I was a boy, I used to sit close to my mother, and the minute I saw her go, I was going to grab ahold! Well, I wouldn’t have gotten through the roof without a new body. So Paul says, “We must all be changed. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians:15:52). Okay?
So, at the Rapture, Christ comes, He takes His own to heaven—those who have died and those who are alive, He catches them up, transforms them, and takes them to heaven. At the Second Coming, He comes with His saints. Zechariah:14:4-5 tells you that. It says, “When His feet touch the Mount of Olives, He brings all the saints of heaven with him.” You don’t have to be a genius to realize that if He brings them to heaven with Him, he must have taken them up there! They didn’t get up there on their own.
So, they were raptured. There’s a seven-year period, I believe the scripture clearly tells us, that’s the seventieth week of Daniel (and we don’t have time to go into that), but you know, in Revelation 19, there’s a wedding up there! There’s the Judgment Seat of Christ. The Bride is clothed in fine linen, white and clean. We have had our lives reviewed, we have given an account for everything we’ve said, or done, or thought, and so forth. We’ve received rewards (1 Corinthians:3:12-15), there have been some losses of rewards. Our works have been tried by fire. I’m not being burned in fire. That’s not purgatory. It very clearly says. And furthermore, burning you in fire wouldn’t redeem you. We have redemption in His blood. “Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins.” So you can’t pay for your sins by suffering here or in purgatory or anywhere else. In fac, it takes a sinless victim, perfect sacrifice, to pay the penalty for sins. And if Christ had any sins of His own, He couldn’t have died for our sins. He would have to die for His own.
So, there’s a wedding in heaven. We’re clothed in fine linen, white and clean, the righteousness of saints, because His righteousness has been imputed to us, and then we return as the armies of heaven in the midst of Armageddon. So the Second Coming is for a couple of reasons: 1) To rescue Israel in the midst of Armageddon. Jesus, in Matthew:24:22, says there’s going to be a great tribulation such as never was or ever shall be…. And except those days should be shortened, no flesh would survive (Matthew:24:21-22).
Now, that’s a powerful prophecy that you couldn’t have understood 100 years ago, much less 1,900 years ago. Our generation is the first one that has the weapons that could wipe out all flesh on Planet Earth. I mean, we could do it about ten times over with the weapons that we have. And there wouldn’t even be a cockroach, not even a microbe, there would be nothing left alive on this planet. It would be like a sterile bit of dust drifting through space. And Jesus says, “Except those days should be shortened, (unless I intervene to rescue Israel), there won’t be any flesh left” (Matthew:24:21-22).
That’s a powerful proof of the validity of the Word of God, because you couldn’t even imagine such a thing, when Jesus gave that prophecy. You don’t wipe out all flesh with bows and arrows and swords and spears and not even with conventional weapons of World War II.
So, the scripture, I think, is fairly clear, that there are these two events: the Rapture and the Second Coming. Well, go back to 2 Thessalonians 2 and just see what it says here: Verse 5: “Remember you not that when I was yet with you, I told you these things.” See, Paul says, “I’ve already taught you!” Amazing! These pagans! Idol worshipers.” He only spent three weeks with them. He’s taught them everything. Now, he’s putting it down in writing. He taught it to them orally, now he’s putting it in writing.
Verse 6: “And now you know what withholdeth (what prevents him) that he might be revealed in his time.” There’s a time when the antichrist will be revealed. I hope we can find time to come back and talk about that. “For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he now letteth (or “hinders”) will hinder, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that wicked [that’s the antichrist] be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming” (2 Thessalonians:2:7-8).
Now, that brings us to an important consideration. There are people who deny the Rapture. In fact, it’s becoming less and less popular. I remember in 1968, was it, or thereabouts—I can’t remember exactly, but we had a large home, as I think I mentioned, in those days, and we had more meetings in our home than most churches have, believe it or not. We saw numbers of young people especially come to Christ every week, and we had Jewish meetings, for example. I can remember when I think probably 120 Jewish people in our living room. When Hal Lindsay stood up and held up The Late Great Planet Earth. Well, it was a mock up, there were nothing on the pages—they were blank pages, but he had the cover, and he was very pleased, very proud—his first book. And I remember in those days people—well you had bumper stickers (I don’t know if you had them here, but we had them in America): “Ride at your own risk. I’m leaving in the Rapture!” So many people were expecting the Rapture. They were all talking about it.
And in those days, people used to ask me, “Do you think the Lord is coming right now?” And I’d say, “Well, I expect Him. I believe in immanency, I’m longing and hoping for His coming,” but, you know, I think too many people are expecting Him, because Matthew:24:44, Jesus says, “At such an hour as you think not, the Son of Man cometh.”
And in those days, they had the idea that…in Matthew 24, Jesus said, “This generation shall not pass away until all these things be fulfilled.” Now, there’s a little bit of controversy about that. The people that we call “preterists” (by the way, R. C. Sproul, who might be a name that would be familiar to you, or D. James Kennedy —these are preterists.) And by that, what they mean is that the whole Olivet Discourse, the whole Book of Revelation up to the middle of chapter 20 has already been fulfilled! Nero was the Antichrist. It was all fulfilled in A.D. 70. And Christ returned! Can you imagine! Christ returned in the presence of the Roman armies to destroy Israel, to wipe out His people, to excommunicate them, and now the Church is Israel.
That’s not biblical. And I—well, look, let’s go to Matthew:24:33-34: “So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily, I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.”
Well, the preterist says He meant literally that generation that was on the earth. And, sure enough, by AD 70, within a period of forty years, there we go. It was all fulfilled.
No, it wasn’t! Go back to verse 21: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time….” (Matthew:24:21), well, you could say certainly what happened then was the greatest tribulation the Jews had ever had. But then, what does it say? “No, nor every shall be” (Matthew:24:21) has there been greater tribulation! Of course there has. Hitler killed 6 million! Josephus tells us at one point two million died at this time. What about all the Christians? I don’t think Jesus is talking just to Israel. No, I believe that much of what He says is for the churches.
Well, what about Hitler and Stalin and Mao? I mean, there’s been far greater tribulation, both for Jews and for Christians since then! So, it wasn’t fulfilled within that generation. Verse 29: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days….” Oh, here’s a post-trib rapture!”…”shall the sun be darkened, the moon shall not give her light, the stars will fall from heaven, the powers of heaven shall be shaken: then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” That didn’t happen in AD 70. It didn’t happen within a literal generation. “And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”—Matthew:24:31.
By the way, this is not the Rapture. With the Rapture—we read it: “The Lord himself descends from heaven, and he catches us up to meet Him!” Here, the angels gather His elect. (Who are His elect? ‘Israel, mine elect’)”—the Old Testament uses that term many times.
Well, then there are those, who (and that’s what brought me to this), there are those who said (and many people thought this was what Hal Lindsay was saying, although he denies it—he was literally saying that), but they said, “No, it’s the generation that sees Israel back in her land.” Well, then now, they’ve fudged a little bit and some of them are saying, “No, it’s the generation that saw Israel take Jerusalem in ’67.” So now that give us another 40 years, you know, so 2007.
And so, they said, “Forty years is a generation—1948 Israel became a nation. In 1988, it’s going to be wound up, subtract seven years Great Tribulation, and the Rapture will occur in 1981.” It didn’t! Disillusioned a lot of people. And I saw the pendulum swing from pre-Trib to mid-Trib to post-Trib, and finally they began to deny the Rapture.
Is that serious? Does it really matter? Well, look, if the real Christ—this is the seriousness of what’s being taught today, part of it, at least—if the real Christ is going to catch us up and we’re going to meet Him in the air, and you’ve been taught that you are serving a Christ who when you meet him your feet are planted on Planet Earth, and he hasn’t come to take you to heaven, he’s come to rule over the kingdom that you’ve established for him, then you’ve been serving Antichrist. It’s that simple. You’ve been serving the very kingdom that Christ comes in His second coming to destroy!
So it is rather a serious…well, why should we even talk about the Rapture? If it’s going to happen, it’s going to happen. Wait a minute! It’s Bible! It’s taught in the Word of God. We’re to know the Word of God. And furthermore, there’s some problems if you don’t believe it.
So, then, what is this generation? “This generation shall not pass until all these things be fulfilled.” Well, we don’t have time to go to the scriptures, but Jesus talked about a disobedient generation, a gainsaying generation, a rebellious generation, a faithless generation, a perverse generation, a sign-seeking generation. And I believe what Jesus is saying is, “Oh, there will be many Jews who will come to Christ.” Praise God. The gospel is to the Jew first. The first church was almost all Jewish.
But Israel as a whole will remain in unbelief and in rejection of their Messiah and of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, until all is fulfilled. When all is fulfilled, Jesus said, “You will know I’m right at the door when you see all of these signs fulfilled.” There are no signs for the Rapture. The signs are for the Second Coming, and when it is all fulfilled, Zechariah:12:10, the prophet Zechariah says, “They will look on Me [Yahweh is speaking] they will look on Me whom they have pierced.” And you go back and read that chapter if you’re not familiar with it, and all Israel is saved.
All Jews that are alive on planet Earth, they recognize at last, this is their Messiah that they have rejected, and they turn to Him. He pours out the spirit of supplication and grace upon them, and all Israel is saved.
So, I believe that’s what He’s saying: This generation—this unbelieving, rebellious, gainsaying, faithless generation—will remain until all is fulfilled.
Well, I used to say in those days, when they asked me, “When do you think the Lord is coming?” I used to say, “Too many people are expecting Him.” Because He said (well, we’re there, go to verse 44): “Therefore be ye also ready, for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh.” Now, that tells us something. Compare that with verse 33: “So, likewise, ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.”
So, Jesus says, on the one hand, “Any idiot knows when I’m coming! You’ve seen all the signs, all the signs have been manifested—you know that I’m right there.”
But then, He says, “No. I’m going to come at a time when you wouldn’t think that I’m coming.” Now, how can you put those two together? You see, people say, “Well, wait a minute. You’re saying that there’s two comings of Christ: One for His church, and then for Israel, and to destroy Antichrist. Show me that in the Bible. Give me chapter and verse where it says there are two comings.”
I have a simple response: “Show me chapter and verse in the Old Testament where it said there were two comings. Can you give me a verse?” Never. There is no such verse. But we do believe in two comings, don’t we? Whether we’re pre-, mid-, post-, a-, or whatever we are, we believe that Jesus came once. We believe He’s coming again, right? He said, “I will come again.” How could you know that from the Old Testament? That was what confused the disciples. Confused John the Baptist! He sent two of his disciples from prison—when he was in prison—to ask Jesus, “Art thou he who should come, or look we for another?” Why was he confused? Because he’s in prison about to get his head cut off, and it doesn’t compute: “I mean, after all, Lord, I introduced you to Israel; I ought to be at least prime minister. How come I’m here, about to be killed, and if you’re the Messiah, and you’re going to take the throne of your father David, you’re going to have to displace King Herod! But he’s got all the troops! You’ve got nothing but a ragtag band of ex-prostitutes and ex-fishermen. How are you going to pull this off?”
No, He’s not going to pull it off. He didn’t come to take the throne of David. He came as the Lamb, not as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. He came as a lamb to die for our sins. And if you read the Old Testament carefully, you would see there are contradictions that you cannot reconcile unless there are two comings! So, right in Isaiah 53 in one chapter it says, “He will see His seed, He will prolong His days, and the pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hands” (Isaiah:53:10). But no! It says, “…He was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people is He stricken” (Isaiah:53:8).
How about Daniel 9 says, “the Messiah comes, and He’s cut off” (Daniel:9:26). No, but Isaiah 9 says, “Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end” (Isaiah:9:7).
Now, how can you get killed and rule forever on the throne of David? You can’t possibly do it! So, you couldn’t put into one event and one timeframe what the Old Testament said about the coming of Christ. You had to know there were two events.
And it’s the same in the New Testament. You can’t put in one event and in one timeframe what the New Testament says about the return of Christ. “He’s coming at a time of peace….” “As it was in the days of Noah….” (And we’ll look at that in a moment.) “As it was in the days of Lot,” and so forth… “So it will be in the coming of the Son of Man.” No! “He’s coming at a time of war! He’s coming in the middle of Armageddon.” He’s coming when any idiot knows He’s coming. We just read it. “No! He’s coming when nobody would expect Him. You’d better watch and be ready.”
You couldn’t put what the New Testament says about the return of Christ into one event and one timeframe. Okay, there are these two events, and I think that the Bible is very clear.
Now, a key concept is Immanency. I believe that Christ could come at any moment. There are no signs. There is nothing that stands between us. The Antichrist doesn’t have to appear. The “Pre-wrath Rapture,” for example of Van Kampen—Robert Van Kampen—they say that we have to face the Antichrist first. Well, if I have to face the Antichrist first, I’m not watching for Christ, am I? Why would I look for Christ until Antichrist comes, if Antichrist must come first? If I have to go through the Great Tribulation, why would I be looking for Christ? There’s no point in looking for Christ until the end of the Great Tribulation.
But what does the Bible say? Well, we’ve quoted it: 1 Thessalonians:1:9-10: “…how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for His Son from heaven.” How about that? How about Philippians:3:20-21: “Our citizenship [our manner of life] 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 body of glory.”
How about Titus:2:13: “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” How about Hebrews:9:27-28: “Unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” And so forth.
The early church was watching and waiting expectantly, and looking for Christ, and if we went to…wow, I’m sorry! Time runs out—maybe we can just quickly…. Hold your finger in Matthew 24; maybe we can quickly flip over to Luke 12 and see what Jesus says: Verse 35: “Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants whom the Lord will find.” Verse 40: “Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.”—(Luke:12:35-40)
So, Jesus himself is telling us, “You’d better watch and be ready!” Notice verse 45 (and you have this also in Matthew 24): “But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens,” and so forth.
A thought of delay of the Rapture is always associated with evil, and the realization that Christ could come at any moment is the most powerful motive for holy living, and for witnessing, because I may not have tomorrow. But if you think He’s going to delay His coming—if He doesn’t come until the end of the Great Tribulation, I’ve a lot of time to get my act together. I can do what I please, you know, and then I’ll “straighten up and live for the Lord.”
So, the immanency of the Rapture is clearly taught in Scripture. If you knew when the Lord was coming, you know, at the end of the Great Tribulation, I’m not expecting Him. Are you following me? The scripture says the early church was watching and waiting and expecting Him! You can’t fit that in with a post-trib or “the Antichrist has to come first,” and so forth.
Let’s go back—I want to just deal with…wow! I want to deal with just a [we got started a little late, didn’t we?] (audience laughter). I want to deal with a couple of problems here and then in 2 Thessalonians again.
Well, there are people who say —in fact, this is the most popular view — I don’t know about here, but in America, I can tell you, this is the most popular view among prophecy teachers, theologians, even in some of the best schools, like Dallas Theological Seminary, and so forth—they put on a Pre-Trib Rapture seminar, with a group of scholars that meet together once a year in Dallas, and they always have me speak on something that nobody believes. One of the ideas is that when you present a paper, then they all critique it, and I like to tweak them a little bit, and last December they had me speak on the Pre-Trib Rapture—or just the Rapture, I guess, in the Olivet Discourse, because none of them believe it’s in the Olivet Discourse. They don’t believe when it says, “If two are asleep in a bed, one shall be taken, and the other left.” Well, that’s not the Rapture! They’re taken to judgment.
And, as I said, I like to have a little bit of fun with them, and I said, “You know, I really feel intimidated with all of these doctors here—and I’m not even a nurse….” [audience laughter] But anyway, I presented to them the Pre-Trib Rapture. In fact, I told them, “I think you are missing one of the most powerful arguments for a Pre-trib Rapture by denying that it’s found here.”
And they say that…well, let’s read it: “Then (v. 40) shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other one left. (Matthew:24:40-41). And they say, “They’re taken to judgment.”
I said to them, “I don’t know of any judgment that is even spoken of in the Bible where people were snatched out of beds and snatched out of the mill and out of the field to be taken to judgment.”
I want to go over to chapter 25 and read of the judgment where He separates the sheep from the goats: it says, “all the nations are gathered together before Him.” Not snatching people out of bed! Tell me, what judgment is this?
Well, we give a lot of arguments—we don’t have time for it, but one of the most powerful arguments is (and I know nothing about Greek, as I said, it could be Chinese for me), but you can look it up in the concordance like I do, and I looked it up and I found out—what do you know? There are two different words used here! You go back to verse 39, “…and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away.” Hetero, I think, is the Greek word there, for “took them all away.”
But “Two shall be grinding at the mill; one shall be taken, the other left…” It’s a different word! If you want to look it up, go to John 14: “I will come and receive you unto Myself. I will come and [insert Greek word] you unto myself.” Now, Christ isn’t going to use the same words: “One shall be taken and the other left,” and He’s going to use the same word that He uses in John 14: “I will receive you unto Myself,” and they’re being taken to judgment! No! They’re…. Look, “He’s coming at time….” Well, let’s go over to Luke again—Luke 17, then we’ll get back to 2 Thessalonians, and then we’ll try to wind it up.
Luke 17 [See, some people don’t like it, because in Matthew 24, it says the flood came and took them all way. So, they say, “You see? It’s the wicked who are taken away. It’s not the righteous who are taken away.”] Well, let’s read it in Luke: (v. 26) “And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man….”
Now, one of the things that you could say, “Well, evil…” But He’s not emphasizing that. He tells you exactly what he means: “They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot, they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But in the same day that Lot went out of Sodom…” (Luke:17:26-29).
So here is someone being taken out, and then judgment falls. It’s a wonderful picture of the Rapture, but the point is, what are the conditions upon the earth at the time of the Rapture? Well, peace! Nobody’s expecting judgment! The last thing they would have thought of would be judgment! But you only have to get to Revelation 6, where they’re crying out to the mountains and the rocks to fall upon them, to hide them from the wrath of the One who sits upon the throne! You couldn’t imagine these conditions at the end of the Great Tribulation.
So, if you believe in a Post-trib Rapture, you couldn’t fit it into this. Furthermore, a Post-Trib Rapture would be a classic non-event! There’s nobody left to rapture, because Revelation 13 very clearly says that “he has authority.” Antichrist has power over the saints. What saints are those, if the church has been raptured? There will be many who will come to Christ during the Great Tribulation. They will pay for their faith with their lives! With their blood.
And you see a great multitude under the throne in Revelation, and they cry out, “Lord, how long til you revenge us?”
“Not until the rest of your brethren are slain.”
So, if there’s a Post-Trib Rapture, if you don’t take the Mark of the Beast, you can’t buy or sell. If you don’t bow down and worship him, you’re killed! So, what Christians would be left for a Post-Trib Rapture?
Well, Pat Robertson says, “Well, He’s going to protect this, and we’ll get stronger,” and so forth. That’s not what the Bible says.
So, Christ is coming at a time when you don’t expect Him, and He’s coming at a time of peace and prosperity, partying, and so forth, and that kind of describes the church of our day.
Go back to 2 Thessalonians 2, because there’s a problem verse here that really bothers people. Verse 3: “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [that is, the day of Christ, the Day of the Lord, we referred to it earlier] shall not come, except there come … the Last Days great revival, and we’ll hear of it on TBN and the churches will be preaching, because there’s this great in-gathering…NO!” I mean, they have a phony revival, I’m sorry. And we gave you some of the statistics of the hundreds of thousands of people that are supposedly coming to Christ in America. And you can’t find them. They’re not in church. I mean, some places they’ve “gotten so many people saved,” the whole city ought to be saved by now, if you added up… but where are they?
No! Paul says, “Don’t let anybody ‘sweet talk’ you with this Last-days Great Revival nonsense. That day, the Day of the Lord, will not come except there comes the apostasy—the falling away.”
And we’ve talked about the apostasy. How much worse does it have to get? It was around… Paul said, “After my departing, grievous wolves will enter in…” and so forth.
But anyway, let’s go back and read it: “…except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition…” (2 Thessalonians:2:3).
Let me put it like this: “Next Sunday will not come except Saturday comes first and we have a big roast beef dinner. Now, when are we going to have the big roast beef dinner? Not Saturday but Sunday! I didn’t say you had to have the roast beef dinner first. I said Saturday must come first. But I said Sunday won’t come without having a roast beef dinner.
So, what Paul is saying is “The day of the Lord will not come except the apostasy comes first.” The day of the Lord will not come without the Antichrist being revealed. In fact, he’s going to be revealed on the Day of the Lord, and I can tell you how I think he will be revealed.
Now, I believe a Pre-trib Rapture is the key to the whole thing. If a hundred-million—(I don’t know how many—we’ve got 1.8 billion professing Christians in this world, and just a round figure is 1 billion Roman Catholics, 400 million Orthodox, 400 million protestants and evangelicals and so forth—out of all of those, how many do you think are genuine? I don’t know—let’s be generous. Let’s say 100,000,000. If 100 million people suddenly vanish from planet Earth, what would the reaction be? You can’t, and I can’t, even imagine the reaction! Forget the chaos, you know, if you happen to be in the middle of the freeway in Los Angeles, going to work or going home hour—our freeways, wow! And if there’s even a fraction as many Christians as we say there are, and they (pshew!!) left, and their cars are careening everywhere; airplanes—sometimes when I get on an airplane, the cockpit crew recognizes me; they’re Christians—and planes are falling out of the sky and all kinds of things are happening, but forget the chaos! What would be the conditions on this earth? Terror! Absolute stark-raving terror! Can you imagine? Where did they go? They’ve seen them vanish right off of escalators in front of them. Right out of elevators. Right out of the desk—sitting at the desk next to them, on the job, and in mid-sentence, they’re gone!
The United Nations—they haven’t lost anybody [audience laughter]; the United Nations is meeting in emergency sessions. The computers are whirring. I don’t think NATO’s lost too many either. The computers are going, and they’re trying to figure out what happened. Where did they go? Who took them? All of this science fiction stuff has only prepared us to believe: “Beam me up, Scotty.”
I have talked to UFO cult members who say that the space brothers who run the UFOs have told them that when they take over and they establish this New World Order, all those who are rebels in their heart and are not willing to go along with this are going to be instantly removed—they’ll be taken off to a slave planet where their minds will be reprogrammed before they’re allowed back on planet Earth.
I’ve talked to New Agers. New Agers believe that when the moment of “transformation” comes—when there will be a transformation to a higher species, homo noeticus, they call it—all those who haven’t been doing their yoga, they’re not spiritually prepared, they will be instantly removed to a nonphysical dimension, where their Karma will have to catch up with them before they’re allowed back on planet Earth.
I don’t know—there are all kinds of theories, but I can tell you, this world will be terrorized. And I believe nothing else will unite this world. One billion Muslims who will take your head off if they could. You’re going to unite them with Presbyterians and Methodists and…a lot of churches are going to have more people in them the Sunday after the Rapture than the Sunday before! You’re going to unite Capitalists and Communists and enemies and…. It’s very clear in the scriptures, there will be a one-world government, and they will worship the leader (Revelation:13:4, 8). That’s what is says: the whole world will worship him, and a one-world religion. This world is going to be united, and I don’t see anything else that could unite it except the terror of this Rapture! I mean, if you could have a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Hindu, and an atheist, and so forth, and maybe they’re all enemies, and their plane crashes in the Himalayas, and they’re the only survivors, I tell you, they’re united in a common purpose of saving one another’s lives. And I don’t think anything else would unite this world.
And I believe at that moment—or very shortly—not days—hours, maybe even minutes, I don’t know, but very quickly a man arises, and he has all the power of Satan. He can do signs and wonders, lying signs and wonders. And I could give you a lot of scenarios, but here’s one of them, very likely, in view of what we (I say “we” editorially) what we believe—our scientists believe they’re out there. We’ve sent messages out there on Voyager and Pioneer—our space probes that we’ve sent out into space….
Jimmy Carter, president, signed one of them: “We’re a friendly bunch here on earth,” he said. “And don’t mean any trouble, and if any of you guys find this, we want you to know that, and we hope one day, having solved our problems, to join an intergalactic community.”
This is Jimmy Carter, professing Christian, but he’s not a Christian in my opinion. He says Mormons are Christians. He took the Southern Baptist Convention to task for trying to convert Mormons, who…well, we can’t go into what they believe. But Jimmy Carter’s last words on that message were, “This is our hope in a vast and awesome universe….” That’s why I titled one of my books, Whatever Happened to Heaven? I thought heaven was our hope!
No, he says, “Our dream is to join an intergalactic community.” So, if the antichrist, probably at that moment, he arises, he has all these powers, he says, “Let me tell you something. I know where they went. It was a rogue civilization that took them. I’m negotiating with the Intergalactic Council, and I’m going to get them back. But in the meantime, you take my mark on your hand or forehead, and that will be your only hope. That’s the pledge that you will not be taken. Otherwise, you could be snatched, too.” People will be lining up to get his mark.
I don’t know how it’s going to be, but I believe it’s going to something similar to that. But anyway, the Bible presents the Pre-trib Rapture: “You know what prevents him (v. 6) that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now hinders will hinder, until he be taken out of the way.” (2 Thessalonians:2:6-7)
Who could that be? No one could prevent Satan from putting Antichrist on his throne as ruler of the world except God. It’s a person. “He.” “He who now hinders will hinder….until….” So this one has been hindering for (more than) 1,900 years. It couldn’t be anyone but God, but you can’t take God out of the way. So what is he talking about? How can we reconcile this?
Jesus, in John 7, it says, “On the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come to Me, and drink. And out of his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” And John adds a commentary. He says, “This spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.—John:7:37-39.
So on the Day of Pentecost, a new presence of God came into this world. Yes, the Holy Spirit was here, and you can’t remove the Holy Spirit, because He’s God and He’s omnipresent. But the Holy Spirit, yes, He came upon or even indwelt some of the Old Testament saints, but David prayed, “Take not Thy Holy Spirit from me.”
Don’t pray, don’t sing that. That’s not a biblical song for Christians. The Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost. You had a new indwelling—a permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit, never to leave us nor forsake us—and that presence of God on this earth is what prevent the Antichrist from being revealed. For a number of reasons, we would oppose and expose him, but furthermore, he has power over the saints to kill them, but “the gates of hell cannot prevail against the church,” so the church is removed. It’s the Tribulation saints that he kills. And until we are removed, the Antichrist cannot be revealed.
And that is the presence of the Holy Spirit, the new presence, which there never was on the earth before the Day of Pentecost, and will be removed from this earth when the church is removed.
Okay, finally, how do you get to heaven? We were talking about the Rapture. Jesus talked more about heaven, but He also talked a lot about hell. Jesus talked more about hell than anybody. Jesus warned about hell. Jesus warned about separation from Him, from His Father, forever. How do we qualify to get to heaven? Well (by the way, I didn’t show you this. I had it right here. I got this last time I was in South Africa), “5,000 rand reward offered to anyone with biblical proof that a rapture will occur before the Great Tribulation.” I think we’ve given you the evidence tonight from the scriptures, but I wouldn’t try to present it to someone like that. They’re not going to believe it anyway, no matter how clear it is.
But how do we get to heaven? This is really solemn. I don’t know all of you. We all have friends and relatives, surely, who don’t know the Lord. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man comes to the Father but by Me” (John:14:6).
John Marks Templeton does not believe that. And for Bill Bright, Charles Colson, and Billy Graham, to encourage him and to accept this prize and so forth, only confuses people. It is contrary to the Word of God. Jesus is very dogmatic: “No man comes to the Father but by Me.” Peter was very dogmatic: “Neither is there salvation in any other” (Acts:4:12).
We had someone from Baha’i here a couple of nights ago, and he left me a little book with prophecy, you know the B’ab, who claimed to be the gate, and then Bahá’u’lláh, and “we’re going to honor all religions and bring all religions together and so forth. And they talk about the coming Redeemer, and—
Look, there’s only “redemption in His blood, even the forgiveness of sins,” (Colossians:1:14). It is only because God himself became a man. He never ceased to be God, will never cease to be man, He’s the one and only God-Man. And because of who He is, He could pay the penalty that His own infinite justice required. And without that, there is no hope! It’s a matter of justice! It’s that simple.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus wept. “He sweat as it were great drops of blood. “ This is what the scripture says. Why? Was He afraid to die? No. Was He afraid of the pain of being crucified? No. Why, how many, maybe thousands, hundreds at least, many men who were crucified gritted their teeth; they would not give those Roman soldiers the satisfaction of a whimper? Do you think Jesus could bear the pain as many others have?
By the way, I hope you understand, it’s not the crucifixion of Christ that saves us. That’s what we did to Him! That’s not going to save anybody. That would only add to our condemnation. It’s because as He hung on that cross, it pleased Yahweh to bruise Him. “Thou hast put Him to grief, when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin.” It was because when He hung on that cross, He took the penalty that His own infinite justice required. And when He said, “It is finished!” “Tetelestai!” The Greek term is an accounting term that means “The debt is paid in full.”
It’s only because of that that salvation is available for us. Forgiveness from God. Now, Jesus prayed in the Garden, remember? “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me.” In other words, “Don’t make Me go through this! If there’s any other way that mankind can be saved, don’t make Me go through this!” Didn’t He pray that?
What was the answer from His Father? “No other way.”
Now, look, you dare not even mention Mother Teresa. I mean, she’s about “that far (tiny mark) below God. She lived such a wonderful life, and we don’t fault her for picking people up out of the gutter and putting them in a clean bed and so forth, but you know what Mother Teresa said? She said this at a prayer breakfast in Washington, D.C. She said that her hope of heaven was because she traveled so much and she suffered so much through publicity and traveling and so forth, she said, “I hope that that purifies me and makes me ready for heaven.”
She said to people that were in these beds, “Whatever God is in your mind, you must accept.” She said, “If you’re a Buddhist, I’ll help you become a better Buddhist. If you’re a Muslim, I’ll help you become a better Muslim. If you’re a Hindu, I’ll help you become a better Hindu. She did not know the gospel! She prayed the rosary constantly for her salvation. Prayed to Mary for salvation, and so forth.
Now, look the Bible says, Paul says, “I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes.” I am convinced—unless in her dying moments, from everything that Mother Teresa said, that she did not believe the gospel. She didn’t know the gospel.
“But wait a minute! Look at the life she lived! The self-denial, and helping these people! You can’t keep her out of heaven!”
Really? Look, Jesus wept in the Garden. He said, “If there’s any other way, don’t make me go through this.”
And now, God lets people into heaven some other way? Without believing in Him? Without faith in Christ alone and believing in His finished work upon the cross, nevertheless through their good works, God slips them in the back door? That is a slap in the face to Jesus Christ.
“Then why did you make him go through this?” He pleaded, “Is there any other way?” And the Father said, “There’s no other way.”
Furthermore, it undermines our confidence in God! As I travel around sometimes, I’ve seen some little two-year-olds (and by the way, we didn’t see it where we were staying now, praise God), but I’ve seen some little two-year-olds —well, there weren’t any two-year-olds; there was a five-month and four-year-old—but I’ve seen little two-year-olds that ought to have an emperor’s crown on their head. They run the show! And everybody’s afraid to cross them. They’ll throw a tantrum! They’re in charge! And we raise our children to believe that they are more important than anyone else!
I’ve seen a little girl, a little boy, does something, and mommy says, “You do that again, and you’re going to get it.” She just does it again. And nothing happens! So we teach our kids that we don’t mean what we say.
But God means what He says! And if He told Christ that there’s no other way, and then He lets somebody in another way, that undermines the integrity of God himself. He cannot do it! Furthermore, why, when Christ has made His salvation available to all, and it is a free gift. You don’t have to merit, you don’t have work, there’s nothing you can do to earn it. But you receive it as a free gift. Why not take it?
I want to just close with a true story. And we’ve said some things not so complimentary about Billy Graham. This is something on the other side of Billy Graham. Now this was early in His life, way back, many years ago, in fact. This is a true story. Billy…and it’s one of the most beautiful stories that I know, and I hope you will remember it, and I hope you will use it to help people understand the gospel.
He was driving his own car, all alone, and he happened to be going through a very small town in the southeastern part of the United States—Louisiana, or Georgia, somewhere down there. And suddenly, [siren sound] a red light, siren behind him, he gets pulled over by a motorcycle officer who gives him a ticket for speeding.
Now, in those little towns in the southeast part of the United States, they don’t let you go back to New York and hope you’ll mail them a check. You go right to the judge. They take you right to the judge and you don’t get out of town until you pay the fine.
So, the motorcycle officer (this is a true story, remember), the motorcycle officer escorted Billy Graham to the judge—well, the justice of the peace, they call them in a very small town. And the Justice of the Peace happened to be a barber most of the time. And so, he was barbering a customer when Billy Graham came in and sat down.
So Billy Graham had to wait. When he was done with the customer, he took off his barber’s apron, he opened a drawer (this actually happened, folks, it’s a true story), he pulled out a long black robe, and he put it on; he pulled out a gavel and he pounded with the gavel and he said, “The court will now come to order. What is the charge?”
The motorcycle officer said, “Your Honor, this man was speeding. He was doing 35 in a 25-mile zone.” He pounds with his gavel again. “How does the defendant plead?”
Billy Graham said, “Your Honor, truthfully I wasn’t looking at the speedometer; if he said I was speeding, we’ll have to take his word for it.”
He pounds with the gavel again. “I find the defendant guilty as charged.”
And you know it’s a long time ago by the fine. He said, “That will be ten dollars—one dollar for every mile (it would be several hundred dollars now, but anyway…) So Billy Graham reaches into his pocket and pulls out his wallet, and starts to fumble for the money, but the Justice of the Peace/barber is looking at him curiously, and he said, “I’ve seen you somewhere. You look familiar! I’ve seen you on television! You’re Billy Graham!!! What an honor to have you here!”
And Billy Graham reaches out, shakes his hand. Such a friendly conversation follows (really happened, folks!), and Billy Graham put his wallet away. The conversation seems to have come to a friendly end, and Billy Graham turns to leave. The judge pounds with his gavel. He says, “That will be ten dollars. One dollar for every mile.” He said, “I may just be a barber most of the time, but when I sit on this bench, I try to run an honest court. The ticket has been written out. It has to be paid.”
And Billy Graham reached for his wallet again, but before he could get it out, the barber/justice of the peace reached into barber’s drawer, took ten dollars out, put it in the court’s drawer, and wrote out a receipt for Billy Graham.
And that is exactly what Jesus Christ did for us. Now, Billy Graham could have said to the motorcycle officer as he was driving there, “Heh, I’m not worried; I know the judge’s mother.”
There are a lot of Catholics who think that Mary will let them in! [audience laughter] That’s corruption, folks, isn’t it? Isn’t that corruption? This man’s running an honest court. You couldn’t pull it off. Or Billy Graham might have said to the judge, “Now, wait a minute. I promise you, Scout’s honor, you let me off this time, I promise I’ll never, ever, ever EVER break the law again.” You know what the judge would say? “If you never break the law again, you are only doing what the law requires. You don’t get extra credit for that. You cannot make up for having broken the law in the past by keeping the law in the future, because the law requires that you perform perfectly.
What are we going to do? The ticket is written out on all of us. And it has to be paid. And Billy could have paid it, but you and I can’t pay it, because God’s justice is infinite, and we would be separated from God forever and forever and forever. But the Judge himself, God himself, became a man and paid the penalty that His own infinite justice required. And if you’ve never understood that until tonight—maybe you’ve had some sentimental attachment to Jesus as a wonderful person who died for His ideals, or whatever; or you’re so sympathetic for what He suffered on the cross because of the nails driven in His hands and His feet; that’s not going to save you.
Christ died for our sins, according to the scriptures. That’s the gospel. He was buried, He rose again the third day, according to the scriptures, and He’s alive. And He wants to come into each person’s heart.
Let’s bow in prayer. I’m not going to ask you to stand up, raise your hand, come forward, but I would like to pray a prayer such as I prayed, I think it was 60 years coming up the end of this month, when I opened my heart to Christ, and the man that led me to Christ, I may just share this—it might be helpful to some of you—I believed the gospel, I knew that Christ had died for my sins, but the thing that always bugged me was (I was a teenager now), and the thing that bothered me was the Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved,” and I thought, Supposing I say I believe, and I think I believe, but suppose that there’s some kind of secret doubt somewhere in my heart that I’m not even aware of.
That really bothered me, and it kept me from coming to Christ, and the man that led me to Christ, he turned me to Revelation:3:20, a verse that I knew, where Jesus said, after His resurrection, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him” (Revelation:3:20).
And he said to me, “Look, you’re trying to get enough faith. You’re trusting in your faith to save you. Why don’t you just ask Jesus? Open your heart, and ask Jesus to come in.” That was like a revelation to me, and I got on my knees, and I prayed something like this (and if you’re not sure of your salvation, maybe you’ve never met Christ, you’ve never really received Him as your Savior, you could pray something like this, just in your heart, to Him. You could say, “Lord Jesus, I believe that you are God, who became a man; you never ceased to be God, you’ll never cease to be man, you are the one-and-only God-Man. You, because of who you are, and your love for me, you were able to pay the penalty for my sins. No man could take your life from you. They couldn’t take your life by crucifying you. You said, “I lay it down of Myself.” And you committed yourself, your spirit, into your Father’s hands. You said, “It is finished.” You paid the penalty your own infinite justice required. You went into the grave for three days and three nights. You are alive now! Lord Jesus, You said if I would open the door that you would come into my heart, and right now, the best I know how, Lord, by an act of my will—I don’t understand everything, but I hear You knocking at the door, and I open my heart’s door. Come in, Lord Jesus. I receive you into my heart, into my life, as my Savior. Thank you for dying for my sins. Thank you for paying the penalty that I deserve.”
Lord, I pray for any who prayed that prayer. They may have felt you come in. They may have felt nothing. We don’t go by feelings; we go by your promise. You said if they would open the door, you would never leave them. You would come in and you would never leave them nor forsake them.
And Father, I pray for the rest of us. We haven’t all been at every meeting, but we’ve talked about so much, about the authority of your word, the necessity for authority, the sufficiency, the inerrancy, of your scriptures. We base everything upon your Word. I pray that you will help us to know your Word. Help us to be your witnesses, to stand true to you, to earnestly contend for the faith, once for all delivered to the saints, and help us to rescue many from the delusions all around us, before it is too late. Bless this fellowship of believers, Lord. Mightily use us to your glory, Lord. We pray in Jesus’s name. Amen