Tom: Thanks, Gary. 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.
In this segment of our program, we’re going through Dave Hunt’s book Countdown to the Second Coming, and we’re in chapter 6, which is the concluding chapter. And Gary will have some information for you if you’d like to order the book. We still have copies, and I’m sure he’s going to come up with a good deal.
Dave, again, chapter 6 is titled “The Ultimate Hope,” and you begin by enumerating the many reasons why the Christian life should be one of great joy. Why don’t you give us some of those?
Dave: Well, I think everybody listening would be able to come up with quite a few of them. To have our sins forgiven; to know that we have an eternal home in heaven; that one day we’re going to be like Christ—wow! That God loves us with an infinite love.
I was meditating on that on the way in here this morning, Tom. You know, there’re some people who think of God as some kind of a cosmic energy source—impersonal. And when you consider that the God who created this universe has a personal, dare I even say passionate, love for each of us, because God is love, and this is His very essence, His very nature, is to love. And He loves all mankind, I’m sure of that.
He commands us to love Him in return, and 1 John tells us “We love him because he first loved us.” Now—and I don’t want to get off on that sore subject again, Tom, but I don’t think it’s rational that God would command people to love Him whom He has predestined to eternal torment before they were born. That He doesn’t love enough to want them saved, and for whom Christ didn’t die. But I believe that the Ten Commandments, obviously, are for all mankind—except for the fourth commandment, to “Keep the Sabbath.” We’re not to commit adultery, we’re not to steal, lie, covet our neighbor—neighbor’s goods and so forth. So, certainly, the command to love God is for all. And it wouldn’t be right for God to command people to love Him whom He does not love—at least does not love enough to want them in heaven, and has not provided salvation for them.
But it’s tremendous to think of God’s love and His grace and His mercy and what He has done. And, you know, Christ, on the cross, cried out, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He was referring, obviously, to those who were mocking Him, who hated Him, including those who crucified Him, those who had scourged Him. And how was the Father going to answer that prayer? How could God forgive anyone unless the penalty for our sin had been paid?
Tom: Well, His justice demands it.
Dave: Exactly. So to answer that prayer, the Father laid on Christ the sins of us all. Wow! And He took the punishment we deserved. So, Tom, we have much reason to rejoice. Wow! “Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say Rejoice!” the Scripture tells us.
Tom: Dave, you point us in some really, I think, thrilling directions here—when we think about some of these things, the greatest joy that we can have in this is that we can please God, and we have a personal relationship with Him. But it really does amaze me that there is something that we can do that pleases the Lord. I know it has to be enabled by Him; it’s by grace, and so on, but still. Look who He’s…look who He’s—I want to say “working with” here. I mean, we’re so bad sometimes.
Dave: We’re pitiful…
Dave: ...pitiful creatures, and yet He still loves us, and He’s patient with us and merciful and gracious. And, amazing! In 1 Corinthians 4, right after Paul has talked about in chapter 3 that all of our works will be tried, and some of them are going to be burned up—this is not purgatory, of course; this is not the person being burned in the fire to purify them, as Catholicism teaches—these are the works that we have accumulated in this life, good, bad, indifferent, and they will be tried with fire—not literal fire, the fire of God’s judgment—and He even refers to there may be some who don’t have one good work, and yet, if they really have faith in Christ, “he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire,” it says. And then in chapter 4, he says, “And then every man will receive praise from God.” Wow! Just to hear, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant….” Well, we haven’t done much. We haven’t been very faithful, and we are pitiful creatures.
But it’s going to be wonderful because…you know, Tom, I often think of it, and I don’t know how to explain it—I don’t understand—some people seemingly will have greater rewards than others. But there’s not going to be any jealousy in heaven. We will all be supremely happy. I can’t imagine how it works, but this is a new universe in a different dimension from space/time/matter, the universe in which we live, but I think we’ll all be right next to Christ, although there’ll be millions—maybe even billions there, I don’t know. But somehow, we’ll all be right there next to Him, and it will be supreme joy forever.
Tom: Dave, the thing that hits me about this is that when I think of rewards and you alluded to maybe—you’d say there’s not going to be any jealousies, and so on—sometimes we that way: Well, this guy’ll have crowns, and so on. Of course, the crowns we are throwing at the Lord’s feet. But that points us to this. The focus is on Him. We’re just so in awe of Him! It’s not that we won’t have fellowship or relationship with other people, but we’ll be consumed with our thoughts all the time about Him.
Dave: That’s a good point, Tom. That reminds me of that wonderful hymn—it’s got about 5 or 6 verses, and I can quote them all—that we sang when I was a little boy.
Tom: You don’t think I know it…
Dave: I don’t think you know it. I don’t think you ever sang it, because they don’t sing these kind of songs any more.
Tom: Dave, when I was a boy, we were doing Gregorian chants.
Dave: (Laughing) Right!
Tom: I probably don’t know it.
Dave: But one of the verses says, “The Bride eyes not her garment, but her dear Bridegroom’s face. I will not gaze at glory, but on my King of grace. Not at the crown He giveth, but on His pierced hand. The Lamb is all the glory in Emmanuel’s land.”
And you were just saying that in different words. Not quite as poetically…
Tom: Not quite. Well, Dave, that brings us to really the ultimate hope—I don’t want to jump ahead here, but what we’re talking about is being with Him.
Tom: When we come to know the Lord, we have a personal relationship. It begins that way. But in any personal relationship, you want to be with that person. So, to look forward to Him, to His coming, to be in physical relationship, not just having Him in our heart and so on, I mean, that’s wonderful, but it’s going to get better.
Dave: Well, we are going to be with Him. And that is not only our desire, but it is our Lord’s desire. At the Last Supper, so-called, John 14, He said, “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 and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” So this is what He wants. He wants us to be in His presence. He purchased us with His blood.
We are His bride. Now, there are some people that argue about that, but I don’t think there is any doubt that He’s the Bridegroom and the church is the Bride of Christ. And there’s going to be a wedding up there, Tom. That’s amazing! I do not understand that. But we will be married to Christ for all eternity.
Tom: And this imminency. A concern that you write about is that that’s kind of falling by the wayside, this great expectation of being with Him and looking for Him, yearning for Him. We’re sort of preoccupied with other things.
Dave: Yes, Tom, I can’t remember, have I told the story of the little boy sitting on the front row? And the preacher said, “Everybody that wants to go to heaven, raise your hand.”
Tom: No, I don’t remember that one.
Dave: Okay. And everybody raised their hand except the little boy sitting on the front row, and that concerned the preacher, so after his sermon was over, he sat down beside the little boy, and said, “Sonny, don’t you want to go to heaven?”
“Oh, yes, sir, I do!”
“Well, I asked everyone who wanted to go to heaven to raise their hand, and you didn’t raise your hand. Why not?”
“Oh, well, sir, I thought you meant right now!”
So heaven is the place we all want to go to, but not just yet. I think the Rapture would interrupt a lot of plans. You get that picture from the man—the ruler—the rich man that made the feast, remember? He invited many, and apparently they RSVP’d—a lot of people RSVP’d and said they’d be there. But when it was time for the feast—and the feast was ready, in fact—nobody showed up. And then he sent his servant to “those who had been bidden,” it says.
This was not the initial invitation of the gospel. This is going out and reminding those who said they would be there—I would get the impression these are professing Christians, and they don’t really want to be there after all, and that’s when they begin to make their excuses: “Well, I buried a wife, and I can’t come.” “Well, Lord, I mean, let us at least have our honeymoon. Let’s not have the Rapture just yet.” Another one bought a field, and he’s got to go out and check on it. We’ve got so many things in this life to do. “Lord, don’t come just yet. I mean, I just retired, and we got that camper and the boat on top,” you know, or “We’ve never been to Maui, and we’ve got tickets now, Lord—let’s not have the Rapture yet!”
That’s the picture you get. And if the bride is not eager for the wedding, you’d better call it off. And that’s why the lord is angry, and that’s when he says, “None of those men will eat of this feast.” And he sends out his servants in the highways, the by-ways, the hedges, you know, to compel them to come in.
That’s a solemn thought. Do I really long for His return? Could happen at any moment, of course! That’s what we get into in this chapter, and I think it’s very clear from the Scriptures that it must be able to happen at any moment, because the early church was taught to watch, wait, expect, anticipate Christ at any moment.
Tom: Well, Dave, before we—I want to talk about the verses in Luke 12, but before we get there, just a qualification: We’re not implying here that there are conditions for the Rapture—that if you’re not really “occupying,” or I’m not really looking forward to it, you’re not going to get to go.
Dave: I don’t believe so. Whether we go in the Rapture or not does not depend upon whether we believe the Rapture but whether we have received Christ as our Savior, whether we have believed in Him and the gospel.
Tom: So what you’re talking about is an attitude of the heart with regard to yearning for Him, looking forward to Him…
Dave: Right. But that attitude could be an indication that maybe we’re not His at all. Maybe we’re false professors. Now the Scripture does say, Hebrews:9:27, 28—Tom, you know, I never learned what exact verse it was. Sorry I didn’t memorize the Bible, but it’s 27 or 28, right at the end, and it does say, “Unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” But I don’t think it means if you aren’t scanning the sky, you know, when He returns, He’s going to leave you behind. I think it’s, as you said, it’s the attitude of our heart.
Tom: Luke:12:35,37,40, it says, “Let your loins be girded about and your lights burning, and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord. Blessed are those servants whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching. Be ye therefore ready also, for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.” So this is an exhortation, without a doubt.
Dave: Well, Tom, I don’t think the Lord could say that, “Let your loins be girded about, your lights burning, and ye yourselves like those who watch for their Lord,” and when he knocks, you know, you’ll open the door to him”—how could He say that if He couldn’t come until the end of the 7-year Tribulation? It would be misleading to tell us to be watching, waiting, and ready. And we have many, many verses like that. Now, of course, it said, “At such an hour as you think not….” We have that in Matthew:24:44: “At such an hour as you think not, the Son of man cometh.” So apparently, He’s going to come when many Christians if not most will not be expecting Him.
And then, He warns about those who don’t want Him to come right now. He says, “What and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming, and shall begin to eat and drink with the drunken and beateth his fellow servants,” and so forth, so if you think the coming of the Lord, that is the Rapture—not the Second Coming—could be delayed, and, in fact, that’s really what you want, that’s going to have a debilitating effect in your Christian life.
And John gives us the opposite of that, 1 John 3, he says, “Everyone that has this hope in him purifies himself, even as he is pure.” So the most purifying faith, or hope, that we could have is not that someday when we die we’ll get to heaven but that Christ could take us there at any moment.
Tom: Yet there are arguments that people raise, you know, that this is just “pie in the sky,” people are so “heavenly minded, they’re no earthly good,” or it’s an escapist…you know all these things, Dave, but that certainly is contrary to the verse that you just quoted.
Dave: Well, Tom, there are many other powerful verses, and I’m just thinking of one right now that I don’t think—you’ve just looked at this chapter, I haven’t—I don’t think I mentioned it in there. In 2 Timothy 4, Paul says, “The time of my departure is at hand. I’ve fought a good fight, I’ve finished my course, I’ve kept the faith. Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me in that day, and not to me only, but to unto all them also that love his appearing.”
Now you think about that for a moment. Why would there be a special crown for loving His appearing if the Rapture occurs at the end of the Great Tribulation? I mean, this world is practically destroyed. The Antichrist has been after you for seven years. You didn’t take his mark, so you couldn’t buy or sell. You’d been eating out of garbage pails, and you wouldn’t bow down and worship his image. The world police has been after you to kill you, but…you hope, you long, and you are looking for and you love His appearing? At that time? I don’t think so. Tom, I don’t think that fits a post-trib Rapture.
But if we love His appearing right now, when things are going well, when you’ve got money in the bank, and you’ve got a good health plan, or whatever it is, or you’re about to retire, that makes sense. And Paul calls it “that blessed hope, the glorious appearing of the great God our Savior, Jesus Christ,” Titus:2:13. And once again, I don’t think it is a blessed hope—the post-trib Rapture—when you’ve been running from the world police, you barely survive; most of the Christians have been killed—that’s what it says: you don’t take his mark, you can’t buy or sell, you don’t bow down and worship his image, you are killed, and yet, if you can survive, you run fast enough to keep ahead of the world police, and you could eat out of enough garbage pails to survive till the end of the Great Tribulation, Blessed Hope! You’ll be raptured.
Tom, I don’t think that’s a blessed hope. I think it’s a blessed hope right now that He could come at any moment.
Tom: Dave, I think in my own life, people that I love, you know, family just took off this morning, they’ll be gone for a week. Now I know when they’re going to come back, but I love them, and if I thought they were coming back at any second—now, remember, I’m sort of bacheloring it, okay (laughing)—you think, if I know they’re coming back a week from now, what do you think the house is going to look like? What do you think…well, you’d have to use your wild imagination for that. On the other hand, if I know that they could come back at any second, and I love them, you know, I want to have the place looking good for them, just…and so on. It’s a very practical…
Dave: Good point, Tom, but it’s a terrible confession to make.
Tom: Right (laughing)
Dave: There are so many other scriptures. Philippians:3:20: “Our conversation [our citizenship] is in heaven, from whence also we look for our Saviour, who will change our vile bodies that they may be fashioned like unto his body of glory.” Well, we’re looking… Or, 1 Thessalonians:1:10,11, it says, “You’ve turned to God from idols, to serve the living and the true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven.” So, Tom, all through the New Testament, they’re watching, waiting, expecting, looking for Christ. That does not make sense if He cannot come at any moment. This is our hope…
Tom: Right. And it’s a hope based on, as you began the chapter, based on love. If we love Him, I mean, this is really the motivating aspect that we want Him, we want to do the things that please Him, and we can, as the Scriptures say.
Tom: Dave, you go on in this chapter, and you talk about Colossians 3, which you call a complete description of—if we’re going to please God, there are certain things that we need to know that He desires for us to do, and it lays it out pretty much.
Dave: Yeah, Colossians 3 is really a prescription for what the Christian life should be and what it should not be. And “we are dead—our life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Therefore, mortify the deeds of the body on this earth, and therefore, putting on the Christ-like life, it tells us…” I know our time is gone, Tom, but listeners could read that chapter and meditate upon it. It’s all based—the way we live—there, it says it’s all based upon our hope of being with Christ in glory, appearing with Him.
Tom: And the heart of that is loving Him.