The Rapture Won’t Happen Today – False End Time Predictions

Today is my 30th birthday. As I sit starring out at the clouds that seem to float faster than usual, I can’t help but remember that while I sit here relaxing, Christians around the world are worried that Jesus is coming back in two short days, on September 23.

For at least the past 5 years, pastors and people in the prophecy community have been counting down to this date. First it was the tetrad blood moons in 2015 which would definitely be the hallmark of Jesus’ return, despite the fact that these tetrads aren’t rare.

As those dates came and went, other heavenly “signs” were supposed proof that Jesus’ return is imminent. Now with the August eclipse, the multitude of hurricanes (during hurricane season) and North Korea, an enemy the US has been engaged with for more than 50 years, these are supposed to be the obvious hallmarks of Jesus’ return.

It frustrates me because the Bible is clear:

You’ll begin to hear of wars and rumors of wars. See to it that you don’t panic. These things must take place, but the end won’t have come yet, because nation will rise up in arms against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. But all these things are only a beginning of agonies.” – Matthew 24:6-8 ISV

While of course some claim that this was only speaking of the destruction of the 2nd Jewish Temple in 70AD, we see that the Roman campaign wasn’t known for “famines and earthquakes in various places.” Likewise, the 2nd coming of Jesus won’t simply come because of war and natural disasters.

It seems as if the pre-tribulation crowd, the most common theology in Western Christianity, has simply forgotten the other things that must happen before Jesus’ return.

“Then they’ll hand you over to suffer and will kill you, and you’ll be hated by all the nations on account of my name. 10 Then many people will fall away, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will appear and deceive many people, 12 and because lawlessness will increase, the love of many people will grow cold. 13 But the person who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the inhabited world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.– Matthew 24:9-14 ISV

While outside of the Western world, Christians face severe persecution, in Israel, Europe, most of North and South America, Australia, Russia, South Korea, the Philippines and South Africa, Christians are able to practice their religion as one of the majority faiths in their countries. We haven’t reached the point where Christians are hated by ALL nations. Christian families aren’t betraying each other as members of their family fall away from the faith. Likewise, there are major areas of the world where the Gospel hasn’t been proclaimed, such as the countries strangled by Islam and/or communism.

15 So when you see the destructive desecration, mentioned by the prophet Daniel, standing in the Holy Place (let the reader take note), 16 then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. 17 Anyone who’s on the housetop must not come down to get what is in his house,18 and anyone who’s in the field must not turn back to get his coat.

19 How terrible it will be for women who are pregnant or who are nursing babies in those days! 20 Pray that it may not be in winter or on a Sabbath when you flee, 21 because at that time there will be great suffering, the kind that hasn’t happened from the beginning of the world until now and certainly won’t ever happen again. 22 If those days hadn’t been shortened, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, those days will be shortened.

Has the 3rd Jewish Temple been rebuilt where there’s a possibility that a desecration in the Holy Place could even take place? Have those in Judea fled? Have Sabbath laws become the law of the land, so the city gates will trap believers inside the city of Jerusalem, when it’s time to flee? NO!

Too many churches erroneously teach that Christians won’t face hard times and Jesus will rapture us before things on earth get tough. The Bible teaches us otherwise. Throughout the Bible, both men and women of God faced trials, tribulation, uncertainty, yet God still had His hand over them. So while they had to go through hard times, they were never alone. Likewise, when we face trials and tribulations as Jesus’ return comes nearer, we can be confident that while God won’t remove these trials, He will be with us always. We will never face these persecutions alone. God will remember us as He cuts those trying days short.

Churches are doing a great disservice by teaching the erroneous doctrine of pre-tribulation rapture and devoting countless hours to working out the days or the times of Christ’s return. When people aren’t raptured and rather face persecution, the Church will experience the “great falling away” and the Church will have no one to blame but themselves.

It’s easy to hold people’s attention when you play into their fears – and their hopes – that Jesus will return on X date. It’s difficult to hold people’s attention when you tell them about the trials they’ll face and how they will need to hold fast to their faith. It’s hard to teach others about who Jesus is and how to defend their faith when most people want simple, inoffensive, non-committal answers. People want to feel safe without having to do anything, which… well, that’s not how God works. We’ll have to give up everything to follow Jesus – and that’s not always simple, inoffensive and it definitely requires commitment.

While the world may seem like a scary place, and the teachings of those who try to predict, to the day, of Jesus’ return may feel comforting, it’s important to remember that we can be strong in our weaknesses because Jesus is with us. We don’t need to be afraid. We don’t need to put our trust in bad theology. God has given us the tools to bravely stand up for our faith, even unto death. We can face this coming storm boldly, because we know that Jesus is with us until the end.

Until the Temple is rebuilt, ignore these fruitless arguments concerning Jesus’ return. Instead, rest in Jesus’ finished work on the Cross and the knowledge that He is with you until the end.

 

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If I’m “saved by Grace,” why shouldn’t I live a sinful life?

One of the larger misconceptions about Christianity is, “why would I stop sinning if Jesus has already died for my sins?” Christians unfortunately have a poor track-record explaining the concept of “salvation apart from works” vs. “heavenly rewards based on our works.”

While of course Christians don’t want to grieve God by sinning, (Ephesians 4:30) many are unaware that Christians will face judgement before God. This judgement doesn’t concern the ultimate salvation that they have in Jesus’ Christ finished work on the Cross, but it is one where they will give an accounting for the works that they did here on earth before God, and will be rewarded, or have their rewards taken away.

(The following was originally posted on July 14, 2017 on Quora.)

People make this a lot more difficult than it needs to be.

To even be considered a “Christian,” a Christian must “bear good fruit” or produce the works that show that one has truly put their faith in Jesus Christ, rather than give Him lip service only. (Matthew 7:15-20)

While Christians are “saved” by putting their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and as such, accept God’s grace, Christians will also face judgement. Now this judgement is not one concerning salvation, but one where our deeds will be judged. (2 Corinthians 5:9–10) We will be rewarded or our rewards removed, based on our works. We aren’t saved by our works, but we are held accountable and rewarded based on our works at this judgement:

“1 Brothers, I couldn’t talk to you as spiritual people but as worldly people, as mere infants in the Messiah. 2 I gave you milk to drink, not solid food, because you weren’t ready for it. And you’re still not ready! 3 That’s because you are still worldly. As long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, you are worldly and living by human standards, aren’t you? 4 For when one person says, “I follow Paul,” and another person says, “I follow Apollos,” you’re following your own human nature, aren’t you?

5 Who is Apollos, anyhow? Or who is Paul? They’re merely servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord gave to each of us his task. 6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God kept everything growing. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is significant, but God, who keeps everything growing, is the one who matters. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have the same goal, and each will receive a reward for his own action. 9 For we are God’s co-workers. You are God’s farmland and God’s building.

10 As an expert builder using the grace that God gave me, I laid the foundation, and someone else is building on it. But each person must be careful how he builds on it. 11 After all, no one can lay any other foundation than the one that is already laid, and that is Jesus the Messiah. 12 Whether a person builds on this foundation with gold, silver, expensive stones, wood, hay, or straw, 13 the workmanship of each person will become evident, for the day of judgment will show what it is, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s action. 14 If what a person has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If his work is burned up, he will suffer loss. However, he himself will be saved, but it will be like going through fire.” – 1 Corinthians 3:1–15

Photo: Christal Yuen

Christians get this commandment wrong all of the time. Do you?

Christians the world over have been threatening their children and grandchildren with punishment if they so much as think about saying “Oh my God!” These Christians couldn’t be more misguided.

“You are not to use my name to deceive, thereby defiling the name of your God. I am the Lord.”  -Leviticus 19:12 ISV

Taking the Lord’s name in vain isn’t about using God’s name as a swear word or saying “OMG.” You take the Lord’s name, using His name, in vain, (Leviticus 19:12) when you claim to be His child, grafted into the vine, (Romans 11:11-22) a believer of Christ, but your fruit, (Matthew 7:15-20) your works show that you don’t belong to him.

I take my husband’s name because we are one family. I take God’s name because I am His adopted child. (Ephesians 1:5) If I am not married to my husband, I don’t get to take his name. Likewise, if I’m not God’s child, I don’t get to take His name by calling myself a Christian.

Legally, I could change my last name to pretend that I had a relationship with anyone (for example, if I changed my last name to “Kardashian,”) but I’d be taking that name in vain. I have no relationship with the Kardashians, so I’d be taking the name in vain – clearly using it on false pretenses to increase my standing among other people.

The Pharisees constantly bragged about being Abraham’s seed and the “chosen people” and children of God. (Galatians 3:29) Jesus Himself accused them of taking God’s name in vain as He said they were of their father, the Devil. (John 8)

“You are doing your father’s actions.” They told him, “We’re not illegitimate children. We have one Father, God himself.”

“Jesus told them, ‘If God were your Father, you would’ve loved me, because I came from God and am here. I haven’t come on my own accord, but he sent me. Why don’t you understand what I’ve said? It’s because you can’t listen to my words. You belong to your father the Devil, and you want to carry out the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and has never stood for truth, since there is no truth in him. Whenever he tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies…'”  -John 8:41-44 ISV

It is important to note that taking God’s name in vain is a sin, like all sins, that begins in the heart. When a person takes God’s name in vain, he first rejects God in his heart, but verbalizes his approval of and connection with God to bring himself glory.

“But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and it is those things that make a person unclean. It is out of the heart that evil thoughts come, as well as murder, adultery, sexual immorality, stealing, false testimony, and slander.” -Matthew 15:18-19 ISV

If you want to honor God and make sure that you’re not taking His name in vain, make sure that your actions, your fruit, your works, testify to the fact that you are God’s child. Don’t honor God with your lips only – make sure your actions show who you really are.

“Then the Lord said: “Because these people draw near with their mouths and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, worship of me has become merely like rules taught by human beings.”  – Isaiah 29:13 ISV (referenced in Matthew 15:8)

TL;DR – “Faking my name for personal gain, is taking a name in vain. ”

Leviticus 19-12

 

Photo: Kristina Flour

On Faith: Reaching Heaven

I’ve never considered myself to be a religious person, but I’ve always considered myself a staunch believer in Christ Jesus as God. The pomp & circumstance of church never appealed to me but I still consider myself a Christian.

As it so happens, when people know that I’m a Christian but they themselves are not believers, the conversation tends to go like this: “I believe in something, but I don’t know what.  I’m not an atheist but I’m a good person.”

What is this good person stuff about? It never made any sense to me why non-believers, 100% of the time, use this as a clarifier when describing their own religious inclinations to me.

I had a conversation in which a friend said, “I don’t believe Jesus is the only way to get into Heaven because I really can’t believe that a serial killer can get into Heaven just because he believes that Jesus is God and that all the Jews are going to Hell, even the ones that do good things.”

Like I said, I consider myself to be a Christian, so the idea that being a good person has anything to do with salvation is foreign to me, but I can explain why I believe the way that I do.

Imagine you’re on the shore of Massachusetts. You look east across the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. You want to make your way across the Atlantic Ocean to France. Lucky for you, you’ve trained as a swimmer your entire life. To up the ante, let’s just say you’re Michael Phelps and you’re wanting to swim across the Atlantic Ocean.

No matter how much you’ve trained, you’re not going to make it across the Atlantic Ocean by yourself. No matter how good of a swimmer you are, no matter how much you’ve trained or how dedicated and focused you are on accomplishing your goal, you will die in the ocean.

Unless you have a boat to save you, you will die. You will miss your mark and you will never make it to France.

You (as Michael Phelps) say, “This isn’t fair. I’m a great swimmer. I’m better than everybody else. In fact I have more gold medals in swimming so I’m the best in the world. I will make it to France because I’m a good swimmer.”

Never mind the fact that you’d die of fatigue, the elements, animal attack or hunger, and generally couldn’t accurately map a course while swimming across the ocean, you dive in and start swimming. Eventually, you succumb to one of the many obstacles and die in the ocean.

On the flip side, Benoît Lecomte jumps in and starts swimming. He has the same goal, to swim across the Atlantic. He wants to make it to the other side, but he knows that no matter how good of a swimmer he is, he can’t do it on his own. Lecomte decides that he’s bringing a boat. This boat is where he rests between swims, has food aboard and protects him from elements and animals. In 1998 Lecomte did just that – he swam across the Atlantic in 73 days and made it to the other side. He could never have accomplished his goal without the aid of a boat.

Now some may argue, “Hey, that’s not fair. Anybody could charter a boat and swim a couple hours a day until they ultimately reach the other side. Heck, they could do zero swimming and still reach the other side of the Atlantic with a boat. That’s not fair! You should have to be a good swimmer to be able to reach the other side. People who have trained all their life to swim and really care about this goal should be able to reach the other side, not just anybody who gets on a boat.”

When it comes down to it, your ability to swim or how hard and dedicated you were to swimming is not the deciding factor as to whether or not you will accomplish your goal. The only deciding factor is – Do You Have A Boat?

Just like in swimming, in life, how good you are according to your own personal, arbitrary standard is not the deciding factor as to whether or not you’re getting into Heaven. If Jesus is the only way to God, which I believe it is, He is your boat. If you want to make it to the other side, you have to get on the boat.

Photo: Thomas Ashlock