Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Grieved & Vexed in Our Souls (as Noah & Lot)


- By Ronda Lane -
 
While we await the rapture with much joyous anticipation, and see God's word unfold before our very eyes, we sometimes sit back in amazement that we are the generation watching end-time Bible prophecy align. Yet at the same time, there is also a seemingly paradoxical condition many believers are also perceiving - the grieving in our souls due to the wicked conditions in the world.
 
I hear it from many brothers and sisters in Christ of late. In countless conversations during fellowship, we converse of the following: We are eagerly awaiting the rapture, very much desiring to see Christ, be with Him, and be like Him (1 John 3:2, Phil. 3:20-21); yet at the same time, we are truly grieved and vexed in our souls while witnessing the unsaved world degrade into a state of wickedness we've never before witnessed. If you are feeling that same grievous vexing in your soul, you are not alone.
 
It isn't often that a particular section of scripture gets stuck on continuous replay in my mind-so much so that it pops into my mind several times a day for weeks. But this is true of 2 Pet. 2:5-9 for me lately. For the past month (or more) this scripture keeps popping into my head numerous times a day.
 
May I be so bold as to ask you to take a few moments and study 2 Peter chapter 2? Here's just a small part (only 2 verses) of it:
 
"And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds)" (2 Pet. 2:7-8).
 
This scripture deals with how God delivered Noah and Lot prior to His righteous wrath being meted out on the wicked in the world. But the part that keeps continuously replaying over and over (to me) is the part of how Lot was "vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked" (v.7), and that what vexed and grieved him was the "seeing and hearing" of the unlawful deeds of the wicked "day to day."
 
Isn't this exactly what many of us are going through? It hits the nail on the head for many of us. We are so grieved daily by the wickedness we witness in the world. The exponential explosion of evil we witness each day in this world is reaching a fever pitch. The saturation of evil in society is being flaunted in our faces so often that we often have to wonder: "How long, O Lord?"
 
But then there are others who seem not to mind these things at all. I used to think: 'how faithful those people must be' for these wicked events not to even bother them. I wondered how could they not be affected by witnessing the news that millions of babies are being aborted? That the amount of pedophilia and human trafficking is (here in the US) at an all-time high? How could these things (at least) not grieve them and vex their souls? Was it because they just trusted it was all part of God's plan? I wondered....
 
As these things become more predominant in society, it's impossible not to be touched, grieved, and vexed in our souls by witnessing them. Yes, we do know that these things "must needs be" (as Matt. 18:7 and others tell us), even if we don't understand why. And yes, we understand "WOE to that man by whom the offense cometh" (same verse) means that God will deal with those evildoers who harm innocent children in such horrific ways; God will have vengeance upon them in His righteous wrath! Yet how could someone not be moved by the slaughter and torture of children?
 
I no longer think that those people are just so "strong in faith" that it doesn't bother them. In fact, just the opposite. I think (my own opinion here) that they really don't care about the plight of those innocent babes ripped apart in and from their mother's womb; that they are unmoved by the fact that demonically led adults are harming innocent children in the most horrendous, perverted, and insidious ways. Why? Simple reason: It isn't happening to THEM!
 
Yes, that's a strong statement to make. But it aligns with scripture given for the characteristics of the perilous last days found in 2 Tim. 3:1-5 and Rom. 1:18-32 - the self-absorbed, callous, uncaring egotistical folks who have no natural affection, sympathy, empathy, or even compassion for others-not even innocent babies and children.
 
In the meantime, we believers are truly grieved and vexed in our souls as we witness these atrocities. Those crimes against innocent children are the worst and most grievous crimes we witness, but there are many others as well:
 
How public schools have become cesspools of far-leftist indoctrination - anti-God, anti-Christ, anti-truth, and pro-sin, pro-evil propaganda machines. Even those dear children who are grounded in faith can succumb to the extreme pressure, not just peer pressure, but from 90%+ of the adult teachers in many public schools who are sold out to leftism, Marxism, Darwinism; they are foisting the devil's propaganda upon these children all day long-seven or more hours per day, five days a week.
 
The fact that the truth of creationism isn't even 'allowed' to be taught in public schools has caused many a child to doubt God's word after having sat under this force-fed anti-God propaganda shoveled down their throats day after day for 12-13 years (more if they go to most colleges today). That grieves us also. Many of us are homeschooling now or sending our children to good Christian schools (if one can be found).
 
There are many other things that grieve us. Censorship is one. Remember when social media used to be a place where friends and family connected? A place to share not just recipes and family photos, but also scripture? A place to fellowship with other believers? If someone was offended by what another person had to say, they had (and still have) the 'unfollow' or 'unfriend' option. Yet today, social media has become open season on conservatives, Christians, and Jews. It's often overwhelming.
 
It used to be strangers (or even bots) that would attack Christians on social media. Now? It's many unsaved people who now attempt to claim that ANY scripture is 'hate speech'. In some nations already it's illegal to quote certain scriptures! Leftist-run states in the US are now attempting to pass the same kinds of 'laws' against Christian speech today as well.
 
Some of these people on social media we may have known most of our lives, and they are just now coming against Christians and conservative values with a fervor that can be nothing other than demonically inspired. Seems that it didn't bother them for many decades until now (for some strange reason)? I don't think it's out of the blue; instead it's clear that the devil is stirring up hatred in the hearts of the unsaved world, readying them for the tribulation when (after the rapture) those who come to Christ during that time will not only be persecuted, but killed for their faith (Rev. 6:9-11, 20:4, et al).
 
Both Daniel 7:21 and Revelation 13:7 foretell a time in the tribulation when the antichrist will "make war with the saints" and overcome them and prevail against them. There are many scriptural reasons why the rapture is a pre-tribulational event. This is one of them. In Matt. 16:18 we are told that not even the gates of hell will prevail against the church. The church cannot be here during the tribulation, as clearly the antichrist beast government will be prevailing against the tribulation saints.
 
I've noticed another trend as well in secular society. It used to be that parents taught their children moral values as well as political ideology. Today? The opposite seems to be occurring. I've witnessed unsaved parents bowing to their teenage children's political ideology and lack of moral values. Secular modern parents are more concerned with whether their children like them, rather than raising them.
 
Some parents work two or more jobs just to buy their children whatever their hearts desire, and/or enroll them in every activity possible as status symbols of sorts. The more money that is spent on these children and the more praise lavished on them for little to no reason, the more these children feel entitled to what someone else has worked for. Yet, isn't this exactly what we should expect today according to 2 Timothy 3:1-5?
 
The concept of children ruling over parents isn't a new one. Secular adults have no moral compass without Christ (Rom. 1:18-32). We read in Isaiah 3:4-5 the following scripture (and it is strikingly similar to today's secular society):
 
"And I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them. And the people shall be oppressed, every one by another, and every one by his neighbour: the child shall behave himself proudly against the ancient, and the base against the honourable" (Isaiah 3:4-5).
 
I started writing this article almost a month ago. I'd listed many more examples of the things that grieve us. Yet I had to revise it numerous times because there are just too many examples. The above example of the trends is just a few of the thousands (or more) of examples. The article would be book-length if we even briefly touched on just half of the topics relevant to the wickedness that grieves us daily. That's how bad it is.
 
Rather than to list the myriad wickedness that is grievous to us, let's instead focus on what God's word has to say about it all. There's a reason why God's word told us these days would be "as in the days of Noah" and "as in the days of Lot" in Luke 17. When we look back to Genesis chapters 6 and 18-19 (as well as the numerous times both accounts are reiterated in short, sprinkled throughout scripture), we can readily see that today we are grieved by many of the same wicked and evil goings-on in the unsaved world.
 
"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5).
 
In Genesis 18 we read the account of how God was ready to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah also "because their sin is very grievous" (v.20). Abraham pleaded with God to spare the place if there could be any righteous found in Sodom and Gomorrah. Yet there weren't even 10 righteous people in those cities (v.32). So we see not only was it grievous to Abraham, Lot, and Noah, but it grieved God as well.
 
What can we glean from both accounts? That the wicked, sinful condition of the world that occurred then (prior to God's wrath being meted out) is occurring now, just as Luke 17 foretold would be the case. And again, it is prior to God's wrath being meted out. This time His wrath will be poured out on a God-hating and Christ-rejecting world.
 
We can also deduce from scripture that we believers should be looking forward to the rapture (Titus 2:13, Phil. 3:20-21, 2 Cor. 5:2-4, and many others). We shouldn't be looking back on the world with nostalgia and love for the world that is soon to pass away (1 John 2:15, 2 Pet. 3:13, et al) as Lot's wife looked back (and turned into a pillar of salt; as per Gen. 19:26).
 
It's no mere coincidence that Luke 17:32 warns us again: "Remember Lot's wife." That one statement of warning should speak volumes to us to not look back with desire on this wicked world that is soon to be dealt with in God's righteous wrath! There is nothing here we should desire above being with the Lord, and being out of this evil, sin-filled cesspool.
 
While we recognize that the "sheep and goat" judgment (Matt. 25) is a judgment upon the nations not to occur during the age of grace; we could also look at it (what's occurring today) as a micro-taste of what's to come. We see the division of evil vs. good and the God-hating and Christ-rejecting world against Christians. The division has never been more apparent in our lifetimes.
 
Even those whom some might call 'nominal Christians' are being weeded out (likely having never believed in the first place). Those aren't looking forward to the rapture, but are rather more desirous to stay here where their heart is, on earth; their heart is tied up in earthy possessions and aspirations rather than desiring to be with the Lord (Matt. 6:19-21).
 
Then there are the teachers of false doctrine that grieve us as well. Much like the pernicious lava flow of the volcano erupting in recent days, smothering everything in its path, so too are these wicked false teachers proclaiming false doctrine and downright lies which spread as perniciously as the lava flow has done... destroying those who've bought into it, covering the hearts, minds, and eyes of the deceived like a creeping flow of lava. Pretending God's word doesn't really mean what it says; twisting it to claim God didn't say what He meant!
 
That's the same lie the serpent tempted Eve with in the garden: "Yea, hath God said?" Attempting to cast doubt on God's word. We believers know better! God's word is truth!
 
We arrive full circle back at 2 Peter chapter 2 again:
 
"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not" (2 Pet.2:1-3).
 
Let's take care not to be as Lot's wife, turned into a pillar of salt when she looked back at Sodom and Gomorrah, burnt to a crisp, ruined and destroyed because of sin. Let's not long for the world we once knew.
 
It's easy to get caught up with the latest trend of "Make America Great Again;" but I wonder if we consider the abortions, the fact that God and His word have been kicked out of schools and public forums, how every wicked perversion is being touted as 'good', and every good thing is erroneously called 'evil' today?
 
Do we recognize that truth is called 'hate speech', and lies are erroneously promoted (from those who aren't Christians) as 'Christ-like'? How the rebellion against God and the rejection of Christ has never been more overt in US society? How the unsaved world is raising a fist to God in rebellion and screaming to shut us (true believers) up?
 
Do we really think God is going to bless this mess? Do we really think that now that Bible prophecy is aligned and beginning fulfillment (much like birth pains, one right after the other, closer and closer together) that God is just going to say: 'Okay, let's pause for a few decades and just put this on hold?' I don't think so!
 
Do we not realize why Jesus Himself (in Matt.24) used the example of birth pains (like a woman in travail or labor, whose contractions get closer together and more severe)? Do we really believe that somehow the world will do an about-face and forget about rebelling against God? Sorry... I don't see it in scripture. In fact I see the exact opposite.
 
What does scripture say? Besides the birth pains example, we also have 2 Timothy chapter 3-the numerous characteristics of those living in the perilous last days. We can put a check mark beside each one. What does that chapter say about what happens after those conditions (the perilous last-day characteristics) are prevalent? Does it say there will be a huge revival and everything will go back to the way it was in bygone eras? No, here's what God's word says:
 
"But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived" (2 Tim. 3:13).
 
And what of Romans chapter 1, verses 18-32? When the Christ-rejecting and God-hating world becomes so depraved in wickedness and sinfulness that they want to pretend they don't recognize God created them and that they are accountable to a Holy and Righteous God? God then turns them over to a reprobate mind. God Himself gives them over and gives them up! They then become so morally bankrupt that they truly cannot delineate between good and evil, right and wrong; they have no moral compass without Christ.
 
There are myriad sins noted there, but once a society becomes so full of reprobate minds, there is no sin they will prohibit themselves from committing. The end result is sexual depravity, homosexuality, pedophilia, bestiality... again nothing is prohibited in a reprobate mind. Not only do they not feel remorse or guilt over it, but they pat each other on the back for doing so wickedly! (Rom. 1:18-32).
 
So here we are again, full circle back to the accounts of the wickedness in the earth during the days of Noah and Lot. Instead of longing for the past life we enjoyed on this planet, we should be looking ahead to the righteousness of heaven where Christ dwells, and where we will soon be taken up to be with Him! While the past we knew (in our lifetimes) is much preferable to the present state of the world, it is nothing in comparison to the glorious things that Christ Jesus has prepared for us! (John 14:2-3, Rom. 8:14-23, Phil. 3:20-21, et al).
 
And as we are grieved and vexed in our souls by witnessing how horribly evil the world has become, let's also remember that this is all temporal! We have so much better to look forward to. This suffering (although at times it is tremendous suffering for some of us) is nothing in comparison to what awaits us! We cannot lose sight of this precious truth.
 
"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Rom.8:18).
 
Let's not look back on this world with nostalgia. Let's not forget where this sin-sick world is headed!
 
"But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed" (Luke 17:29).
 
When we study Revelation chapters 14 and 16-18, we can clearly see how the wrath of the Lamb will destroy the Christ-rejecting and God-hating world. When Jesus returns in Revelation 19, He will tread the "winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God." There are many vivid descriptions in those chapters of how thoroughly Jesus will destroy the wicked when He returns at the Second Coming (and we will return with Him).
 
As we study Noah and Lot, there are so many reasons why we can take heart as to what both of them were going through. The grieving and vexing of their souls as they witnessed the final hours before God's wrath was meted out on the wicked is just one aspect. But far more precious is the promise God made to both of them to deliver them prior to the soon-coming wrath of their days. So too do we have that precious promise in Christ Jesus! He has promised to deliver us (church/grace-age believers) from the wrath to come as well! (1 Thes. 1:10, Rom. 5:9, 1 Thes. 5:9).
 
Noah forewarned the world in his day of the soon-coming wrath of God. The world didn't listen. He kept on building the ark, believing God's word to him that wrath was soon coming, and giving mankind only one way to be spared. So too are we warning the unsaved world today of the soon-coming wrath and the seven years of tribulation that follow the rapture. So too do we believers trust God's word and promises that Jesus delivers us from the wrath to come.
 
It's very likely that Noah got much the same response from the God-hating world as we are receiving from the Christ-rejecting and God-hating world today: Mocking, ridicule, threats of violence, hatred, being cussed at, maybe even spat upon, contempt, and flat out rejection of truth. And we are even told to expect that! (2 Pet. 4:3-4, Jude 1:18, John 15:18-19, 1 John 3:13, et al).
 
How sad that so many will perish in God's wrath needlessly. If they would only heed His word and come to Christ NOW for salvation, they would be spared the wrath to come as we church/grace-age believers are promised.
 
It's not just secular society that comes against us when we present the truth in scripture of the pre-trib rapture; but sadly, it's also many professing Christians who do not BELIEVE scripture! In the hundreds of conversations I've had with those who hold to a post-trib position, they either quote Second Coming scripture (the very few who even know any scripture) or (most often) they simply cling to whatever they were taught.
 
How sad is it when professing Christians don't believe God's word? Where can you go with a conversation when the person claims to believe on Christ for salvation, claims to believe that part of scripture, yet doesn't believe scripture pertaining to the rapture?
 
In decades past it used to be a discussion between pre-trib and post-trib believers regarding the timing of the rapture, rather than IF there is to BE a rapture... yet now, many of them toss out 1 Cor. 15 and 1 Thes. 4 altogether. How is it they can pick and choose what scripture to believe and what to discard? They must have no fear of God whatsoever to disregard His word!
 
Just as there was no fear of God in the eyes of the wicked prior to the flood and prior to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, so too today is the situation very similar. Here in the US there is so little fear of God in secular society.
 
How quickly this nation has fallen to unbelief; even Satanism and occultism is on the rise - this same nation which was founded on Christian belief; our founding documents giving reverence to our Creator, God; the last stanza of our national anthem (The Star Spangled Banner) giving reverence to trusting in God; even our money boldly proclaiming "in God we trust." Yet today, God is far from secular societies' minds.
 
Mankind foolishly has no fear of God. They've profaned His name, taking it in vain and using both the words "God" and "Jesus" along with cuss words. That's the only PC time for the unsaved world to mention the name of Jesus or God at all-when they are taking His precious name in vain! This grieves us as well.
 
And just as both Noah and Lot had to have been grieved because the foolish wicked didn't want to heed any warnings, so too are we experiencing the same thing today. It breaks our hearts that the unsaved world doesn't want to hear about their one and only means of salvation, Christ Jesus. They reject His free offer of salvation, and with that also reject His deliverance from the wrath to come.
 
Yet we believers know our final destination is not this world. This world is not our home (Heb. 13:14). We are just strangers and pilgrims passing through (1 Pet. 2:11, Heb. 11:13).
 
As we are grieved in our souls as were Noah and Lot, let's also take time to comfort one another as we are admonished to do (1 Thes. 4:18, 1 Thes. 5:11, 2 Cor. 1:3-7) with the truth of the rapture (1 Cor. 15:49-53, 1 Thes. 4:13-18, Titus 2:13) - knowing that now as we are grieved in our souls by witnessing the horrific sins of the world, this is just temporary! We will soon meet in the air and receive the promised redemption of these bodies!
 
Please, don't look back as Lot's wife did... there's nothing back there, nothing here on this earth worthy of our desire to stay. Let's instead look forward to being with Jesus! He is soon coming to deliver us from the wrath to come! He is soon going to change our bodies instantaneously from these sinful, corruptible bodies of flesh into eternal glorified bodies like His own! We've so much to look forward to in Christ Jesus!
 
"Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13).

SECRETS FOR THE END OF THE AGE




By Pastor Mike Taylor


It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord.
I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.
And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)
How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” (2nd Corinthians 12:1-4)

    Saul of Taurus, who became Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles, (Romans 11:13) was a remarkable man who lived a remarkable life in the service of Almighty God. Being transformed from the greatest enemy of Jesus Christ, Paul became the greatest evangelist and God's greatest servant at a point in God's timing where God's focus and plans took on a dramatic shift from focusing on Israel as the source of blessing to the world, to focusing on a mostly Gentile body, known as the Church. It was Paul's God given mission to establish this church, and the church began with him. To him, we owe a debt of gratitude that he was sold out to God and God used him to bring us the truth of God's Word.

    In the verses above, Paul speaks of a time when a man, (I believe Paul was referring to himself) was caught up to heaven and heard revelations and what Paul spoke of as “mysteries” that were not revealed to any other prophet, or even the twelve apostles of our Lord. It was not spoken of in the Old Testament, and was not spoken of in the New Testament until Paul arrived and was given the mysteries of the plan for mankind that were revealed to him alone by the risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. You ask, “When did this happen?”.

    Remember what happened after Paul was given his sight by Ananias? According to the account of Paul's conversion in Acts 9 the Lord stated twice that He would show Paul what to do and what would happen to him for the Gospel's sake. However, Paul immediately began to show from scripture that Jesus was the Christ and apparently displaying his capability to communicate well to the Jew, but his ministry ultimately was to the Gentiles. This was something that would not go down well for some one trained in the sect of the Pharisees and the Jews did not receive the message Paul preached. So if Paul was to go Arabia how do we understand what is written in Acts 9. Verse 23 states that "After that many days were fulfilled" the “after that” would refer to Paul's showing the Jews that Jesus was the Christ many days past? This would work in very well with Paul's traveling to Arabia when rejected by the Jews.  Here we will discuss a few of those mysteries, that God gave Paul, and the Apostle Paul gave to us.

    God in the form of the Risen Christ, instructed Paul by revelation on the “mysteries” that had not been revealed in times past, but only hinted at when Isaiah wrote similar language as did Paul, about what we can expect in the near future.

19 “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.
20 Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.
21 For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.” (Isaiah 26:19-21)


Many people read right over this passage above and don't see what Isaiah was telling us. The Apostle Paul fleshed it out for us in 1st Corinthians and 1st Thessalonians, when he made known the “mystery” that was hidden from the understanding of those in Old Testament times. Paul made known to us, many mysteries of God.
      Paul was being commissioned to take the Gospel of salvation through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus and that it was by grace that we are saved:

      8 “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
       
      Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

      Paul stayed for three years in the Arabian desert. Paul didn't go to the Apostles, but was led, much like Jesus was led into the wilderness, to be instructed by God Himself on “secrets” that had not been revealed prior to the calling of Paul on the road to Damascus.

THE MYSTERIES OF GOD

      The word “mystery” is a confusing translation, as it can mislead the reader of what mystery means and what Paul is talking about. Is it “weird, strange, or an enigma” which is the common interpretation of the word in the English language? No, the word is Greek (μυστήριον ) It means a “secret”–something kept hidden, something previously not revealed. Paul used the term to describe the body of doctrines the risen, ascended, glorified Lord revealed to him. God alone can keep a secret and He had kept these revelations hidden until He chose to disclose them. I believe God waited until Jesus had ascended on High with God our Father and chose Paul as His minister to share this truth of God's Plan for Mankind. Paul called these doctrines “secrets” for this was what they were. What were these secrets that Peter and the other apostles knew nothing about?

      As the opening scripture speaks of, Paul was taken away, translated via the Spirit of God into the Third Heaven, and heard words that were not lawful for a man to hear. At least not in regular Judaism, as they were Holy and revealed by the most Holy God, Jesus the Christ. Let us briefly touch on a few of these mysteries, or “secrets” that our risen Lord revealed to Paul and to him alone to change the focus of the Lord's plan for the redemption of mankind, by setting aside Israel for a predetermined span of time, until the fullness of the Gentiles had come in which has been going on for the last 2000 years.

       
      25 “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
       
      26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
       
      27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.”(Romans 11:25-27)
      THE SECRET GOSPEL OF THE GRACE OF GOD

      Paul preached what he called “his Gospel” that focused on the mercy and grace of God, instead of the coming Kingdom of God. He said it many times in his epistles to the churches of his day. Did not the Apostles preach this Gospel? No, not until Paul taught them as a new revelation, that salvation came but by grace.

       Paul declared his gospel was, “kept secret for long ages past, but 
      now is manifested.” Paul wrote that by revelation he went to Jerusalem to communicate the gospel that he preached:
      2 “And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.” (Galatians 2.2).
      It was a “secret” until the ascended Lord revealed it to Paul. What was the gospel John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Twelve proclaimed? They preached the “gospel of the kingdom of God” (Matthew 4.239.35Mark 1.14-15) The focus of the Gospel before Jesus was risen and ascended back to the Father in heaven was to preach to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. This was the content of the Gospel preached by Jesus and the 12 apostles. It was even preached upon the conversion of Paul for a time, as he declared that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God. Each of the apostles believed that the Kingdom of God was imminent in their life-time and they would be a part of that Kingdom. No where in the scriptures do the Apostles preach the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, until Paul came and taught them upon returning from the wilderness experience with our Risen Lord, Jesus our Messiah. Read the scriptures for yourself, and you will find that no one but Paul introduced salvation through faith. Beforehand, the apostles preached salvation through repentance and baptism which is what Peter proclaimed in Acts chapter 2 on the day of Pentecost:

       37, “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
      38, Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:37-38)

      But even Peter did not emphasize the finished work of the cross through the blood of Jesus Christ, as the cross was deemed a curse. Now each are necessary that the Israel believe that Jesus was the Messiah, to be baptized out of obedience to the example of Jesus Christ, but Paul preached a “mystery” that there is nothing we can do by doing this or that, as salvation comes only by faith and the pardon of our sins is a gift of God. It is a bestowing of the mercy and grace and unmerited favor that is imparted to those who believe on Jesus Christ and His finished work when crucified, resurrected and ascended back into heaven's realm to sit at God the Father's right hand. There is no action, no work, no tradition, no ceremony that one can do what is required for the remission of our sins, but the blood sacrifice of Jesus for payment of the sins of the world and our justification, finalized with the Lord's resurrection, leading to our sanctification that takes our whole lives to be refined into the image of Christ, and for our future glorification along with Him.
       Paul wrote the Corinthians,

       
      1 “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 
       
      2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. 
       
      3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 
       
      4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, (1 Corinthians 15.1-4)

    1.  
      This “secret” mystery was a total change in the concept of salvation as Paul preached salvation through faith alone


      THE SECRET OF THE BLINDING OF ISRAEL

       God laid the groundwork for His creation of a new race of people, the Jews, with His calling of Abraham. Through the line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, God began to reveal Himself. From that point until the time when the ascended Lord commissioned Paul, God dealt with mankind through the nation of Israel. To the Jews belonged the adoption, glory, and covenants, etc. (
      Romans 9.4Ephesians 2.12Acts 3.25). God revealed His prophetic plan through the Jewish prophets. But because Israel rejected the timing of the visitation of their Messiah, the Kingdom would be given to another to bear the fruits thereof. But at the end of the Age, all Israel would be redeemed.

      What had been unknown was the when and the how. Paul revealed that following Israel’s rejection of their Messiah that the nation’s salvation would not occur “until the fullness of the Gentiles is come in.” Jesus proclaimed to them prior to Paul, when the apostle Matthew wrote about Jesus scolding the Pharisees:

      42 “Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
        
      43 Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
       
      44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
       
      45 And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.” (Matthew 21:42-45)

       No where in scripture does it make mention of the temporary blinding of Israel and God’s creation of the Church, the body of Christ, during this blindness. These truths are found nowhere in the Old Testament. Why? Paul declared these things were a secret of God. A partial hardening–not total and not forever–would last 
      until the fullness of the Gentiles occurred, and until the body of Christ was complete.
24 “For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?
25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:
27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father's sakes.”(Romans 11:24-28)

After that, all Israel, the entire nation, every single Jew alive on earth who will recognize Jesus as the Messiah, will be saved ...so much for Replacement Theology. This heresy of Replacement theology flies in the face of what Paul revealed to the world through his Gospel that the Jews, all of them alive would be saved.
At the end of the Tribulation, at the end of the great Day of the Lord, all Jews will believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. They will go into the promised kingdom (
Acts 1.6Romans 11.16 cf.Isaiah 66.8Matthew 6.10). Unlike the generation of Jesus’ day who failed to repent and experience the kingdom, the Tribulation generation will respond and believe Jesus is Messiah (Matthew 23.39, cf. John 10.16). God is sovereign and has promised through his prophets that Israel would enjoy the kingdom (Romans 9.29 cf. Deuteronomy 28.1-14). God will keep His word.



THE MYSTERY OF THE HARPAZO OF THE CHURCH.

 This mystery of the return of Jesus Christ for His church was something that no one in all of the pages or verses of your Bible was given this revelation. It was given to Paul the Apostle exclusively through Jesus Christ our Lord when Paul as previously mentioned, was in Arabia and experienced the “translation” into the third heaven to hear words that should not be uttered quoted at the beginning of this message. Why was it a “secret”? Because the return of Jesus Christ, our Lord after the Day of the Lord, called His Second Advent, was common knowledge in the Old Testament prophets. Like the prophet Zechariah:

“3, Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.
4, And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
5,  And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.” (Zechariah 14:3-5)

 Not only Zechariah, but many of the minor prophets like Amos, Joel, or Haggai, and the major prophets made mention of the coming of the Lord to set up His Kingdom at the end of the age. So this was not something new...this was not a secret, as it had been clearly revealed prior.

This snatching away, (the before not mentioned revelation of the removal of the church, some call “rapture”) is the resurrection of the Church, the body of Christ. In this divine event members of the body of Christ will receive their resurrection bodies. When the body of Christ has been made complete God will take His body unto Himself. Paul called this occurrence the “fullness of the Gentiles” (
Romans 11.25) since the body of Christ is composed primarily of Gentiles. The word Paul used for the Rapture was ἁρπάζω which is the word HARPAZO, which literally means “to seize” or “to snatch away by force.” Our English word “rapture” comes from the Latin “rapiemur” which is the word Jerome used in the Latin Vulgate to translate ἁρπάζω. Paul revealed the secret of the Rapture when he wrote the church at Corinth:

 
51 “ Behold, I tell you a mystery [secret]; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed,
 
52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
 
53 For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.”(1st Corinthians 15-51-53)

Paul went on to elaborate when he wrote the church in Thessalonica about the order of this resurrection:

 
13 “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.
 
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.
 
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.
 
16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.
 
17 Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.
 
18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4.13-18).

 IN the passage above Paul gives the sequence of the “catching away” of the body of Christ. The dead in Christ will rise first, then those who are alive and remain will be changed “in the twinkling of an eye”...both groups will meet the Lord in the air, meaning those who are alive and changed will never experience physical death, but given immortal spirit bodies right along with the resurrected saints who have died in faith and belief in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The words for “moment” and “twinkling” are 
ἄτομος and ῥιπή. The thought here is that this will occur instantaneously. 

This return of the Lord is an entirely different event from His return to save Israel and the nations at the end of the Tribulation. As Jesus told us that the end of the age will be as in the days of Noah, or people going about their everyday routines of life, not knowing that their destruction is at hand. At the end of the Tribulation, men and women will NOT be going about their everyday lives, but trying to survive in a world gone mad. It will be no secret that judgment has come and Jesus will not come as a Thief in the night. In the first return, the Lord will meet the body of Christ in the clouds (a heavenly return for a heavenly people, 
Ephesians 1.3). Some scoff and label is an “escape hatch” from the coming Tribulation, but I prefer to call it “victory in Jesus” over this world. In the second return, the Lord will return to earth, (an earthly return for an earthly people, Zechariah 14.4). God our Lord Jesus will claim what is His and bought with His own blood, and will rule the world with a rod of iron. The Rapture is the “blessed hope” of the body of Christ

13 “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
14, Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (
Titus 2.13-14)

 And the coming of the Lord was Paul’s personal hope:

 “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
10, That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
11, If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” (Philippians 3:9-11)

 Concerning this doctrine, Paul had to correct false teaching, when one posing as Paul or preaching a different Gospel proposed that the Day of the Lord had already happened, and that Nero was the Ant-Christ. This false prophet refuted Paul's teachings concerning this “catching away” of the saints and the people were sorely afraid, as they thought and believed erroneously that they had missed the return of Christ and were heading into the Tribulation. Paul wrote them to admonish and refute this false notion in the second letter to the Thessalonians:

 
1 "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?”(2nd Thessalonians 2:1-5)

Even today, people try to rationalize what God is going to do and that Bible prophecy is a non-starter and everything has been accomplished. They are what are known as Preterist and have a problem explaining what the book of Revelation has to reveal.

No one spoke of this “secret”, this mystery of the “catching away” of the church, the fullness of the Gentiles, until Paul revealed what Jesus had told him alone in revelations, being taught by Jesus personally. Jesus never mentioned it in his earthly ministry and the Twelve never mentioned it in their writings. That changed when the glorified Jesus Christ told the Apostle John in Revelation 3:10 that we would be taken “OUT OF” the coming Tribulation, not experiencing the event or going through and enduring the time of God's wrath, which I have covered in past messages. All non-Pauline writings of Christ’s return speak of His return to earth at the end of the Tribulation found in the Old Testament, that is unless you discern what John wrote in Revelation, and the Lord God revealed to him about 30 years after Paul was slain by Emperor Nero.

All the prophets from Ezekiel, Isaiah, to Zechariah, Malachi, Amos and the rest of the minor prophets spoke of the coming “Day of the Lord” where God would come in wrath to take revenge on a God rejecting world, in favor of worshiping a false god, the Anti-Christ during the Tribulation.

THE DAY OF JESUS CHRIST

 But the Apostle Paul spoke of a different day. He called it the “day of Christ” or the day of the Lord Jesus. The “day of Christ” is a day of deliverance, not a day of judgment. The “day of Christ” is the return of Christ for his body, the Church, or the Rapture (the HARPAZO). Associated with this day of deliverance is judgment of the believers works. Paul wrote the Corinthians about this :
10 “According to athe grace of God which was given to me, like a wise master builder  laid a foundation, and another is building on it. But each man must be careful how he builds on it.
11 For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw,
13 each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is 
to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.
14 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.
15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet as through fire.”(1
st Corinthians 3:10-15)

This is the Bema Judgment seat of our Lord Jesus Christ. Not a day of judgment , but a day of rewards for the saints of God that have done deeds for Christ and are receiving rewards for their service, or the lack thereof, but “being saved as though by fire”.

 Paul spoke of many more mysteries, “secrets” that I will address in a part 2 of continuing this message, but I'll leave it there for this time.
 As you read these “secrets” that Paul shared with you and I today, our time of the soon coming of our Lord is an event that Paul looked down the annals of time and knew not when they would happen. All he knew is that Jesus had commissioned him a preacher of the Gospel of the risen Lord and to establish His church on this earth. His work survives and the words he wrote from what he saw and heard, are with us for our own salvation through faith and belief in the Son of God, crucified, buried, and resurrected the third day according to the Scriptures. What I have witnessed to you, is a salvation message in a nutshell and a rewards banquet that is fast approaching.

Will you be at that Bema Judgment seat along with all of have believed by faith, not of works, lest any one of us should boast? Will you stand with me, as we all hold hands and raise them in worship to the King of kings, and Lord of lords, my God and yours, Jesus Christ, the Lord God Almighty? It all is encapsulated in the whole point of this message and the point of the whole of the Bible:

16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Begotten Son,
That whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.
 17, God sent not His Son into the world, to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved,
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. ” (John 3:16-18)

 I've given you three powerful, witnessed mysteries (secrets and there are more) that was revealed only to Paul and no one else. He wrote the major portion of the New Testament of the Christ who changed him from Saul, the persecutor of the saints, into Paul, the faithful, powerhouse witness of the saving Grace and Mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father. Now my last witness (plea) I want to leave you with “What will you do with these mysteries (secrets) given to us by the Apostle Paul? Will you embrace them for the salvation of your soul, or will you put it off and think you can do it another day, or if at all? Don't wait another day, as you are not promised tomorrow.

8 “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” (Romans 10:8-11)


This is Pastor Mike Taylor, praying you receive the Lord Jesus as personal Savior today. If you need counseling, prayer, or just a listening ear, drop me an email to
realteam1999@sbcglobal.net, or visit me online at www.pastormiketaylor.blogspot.com, for more on Bible based teaching on Prophecy and the Salvation through no other than Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. God bless you all,



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