The RaptureWritten by Michael Bradley
Here is 50 million dollar question - will there be a Rapture of Godís saints before Tribulation, or will all of Godís people living at that time have to go through Tribulation and possibly be martyred for their faith?
Iím going to go ahead and give you main Scripture verses dealing with possibility of a Rapture. There is divided opinion in Body of Christ as to whether or not there is going to be a rapture.
Each one of you will have to come to your own conclusion on this subject per your own interpretation of Scripture verses listed below. Iíll give you my two cents on subject. Iíll point out key words and key phrases in following verses.
As you will see in following verses, I feel there is very strong evidence from Scripture that there will be a Rapture, and that it will occur before Antichrist starts persecution of Godís saints, and before God starts to pour out His wrath upon earth during 7 year Tribulation. In other words, it will be a pre-tribulation Rapture.
1. This first verse is very interesting. You already know that one of names of Antichrist is "Lawless One" per Scripture verse I gave you in my first article. This verse is definitely talking about Antichrist. Here is verse:
"And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in our time. For mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of way. And then lawless one will be revealed, whom Lord will consume with breath of His mouth and destroy with brightness of His coming." (2 Thessalonians 2:6-8) You know lawless one is referring to Antichrist because then verse says Jesus will destroy him when He comes back for second time. But look very closely at phrase "only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of way. And then Lawless One will be revealed." The "H" in word "He" is a capital H. That means "He" is either referring to God, Jesus or Holy Spirit.
Since God and Jesus are in heaven right now, "He" has to be referring to Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has always been referred to as One who restrains evil from getting out of control on this earth. It says that Antichrist cannot be revealed until He is taken out of way. Since we know that Holy Spirit still has to be down here even if there is a Rapture, who is "He" referring to?
If there is a Rapture, there still will be a multitude of people that are going to get saved and then martyred. If they are saved, then they are sealed with Holy Spirit, which means Holy Spirit is living on inside of them like He is with us.I believe "He" may be referring to "Holy Spirit operating through Church." That means that Body of Christ - Church will be what is taken out before Antichrist can be revealed.
Think about this. The Antichrist is going to be very easy to spot once he starts to enter into world scene. All Scripture verses I gave you on Antichrist and 7 year Tribulation spell out exactly what is going to occur, and there will be more than enough astute Christians who are going to be able to pick up who he is when all of these events start to occur.With some of powerful TV ministries that we have in place such as Pat Robertson 700 Club, I am sure that Body of Christ will be shouting from rooftops once Antichrist is spotted. The word will be spread and it will become very hard for Antichrist to rise to kind of power that Bible is foretelling.
I believe that Church has to be taken out, as above verse is stating, before Antichrist can be revealed to rest of world. And above verse states exactly that - that Antichrist will not be revealed until "He," who is restraining him, is taken out of way!!!
Once Body of Believers are Raptured off of earth, there will nothing that will be able to stop Antichristís rise to power. The rest of world is going to be easily duped in believing in this man - especially with all of "false signs and wonders" that will be performed by False Prophet on his behalf.
I believe above verse alone is very strong Scriptural evidence that there will be a Rapture of Godís saints before Antichrist rises to full power.
Are We Saved By Works?Written by Stephen Kingery
The subject of works is one which seems to cause some confusion among Christians. There are those who say that we are saved by faith, not by works. The Scriptures seem to affirm this, "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Ephesians 2:8,9) Then there are those who proclaim that even though we are saved by faith, works have a part to play as well. Again, Scriptures seem to affirm this, "Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." (James 2:17)
Do Scriptures oppose themselves? How can this be that we are saved by faith only, yet have works play a part in it? Are both groups right? Do these Scriptures prove that it is all in how you look at it? Well, first Scriptures do not oppose themselves. And also, this subject is not hard to understand. Let's examine this subject of works, faith, and salvation and see how it all fits perfectly together.
During time that apostles were on earth teaching and establishing churches throughout world there begun to arise those who wanted to put additional qualifications on being saved. We know by studying Scriptures that there is a simple plan which we are to follow in order to accept free gift of salvation. That plan consist of (1) faith, (2) repentance, (3) confession, (4) baptism, and (5) faithful living. (See our monograph "What Must I Do To Be Saved?) This group began to teach that in order for one to be saved -- to be a Christian -- he/she must first obey "works of law." In other words, one must first become a Jew, then become a Christian. Even apostle Peter began to behave in a manner which indicated to Gentiles, that one must obey law of Moses first. In Galatians chapter 2 Paul writes of time when Peter would associate with Gentiles as long as no other Jewish Christians were around. Then when his fellow Jewish Christians were present, he behaved in a different manner, perhaps giving message that in order to be a "real" Christian, one would first obey Jewish laws. Paul then rebukes Peter for this behavior and states to him, "We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by works of law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of law; for by works of law no flesh shall be justified." (Galatians 2:15,16)
In other words, man can only be justified (vindicated) by faith (and those things which faith produces) in Jesus Christ. The law of Moses can not vindicate us from our sins. The "law" can only make us aware of fact that we are sinners. Therefore, when Bible says that we are justified by faith, and not works, it means we are vindicated by faith (and those things which faith produces) and not by our striving to obey law.
This concept that we are justified by faith is found in several passages in Bible. "Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of Works? No, but by law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from deeds of law." (Romans 3:27,28) See also Galatians 3:1-5, Romans 4:1-6, & Romans 5:1,2.
So what about those other Scriptures which indicate that works do have a part to play in man's salvation. In order to better understand how this relationship exists, let's look a James, chapter 2: "But someone will say, 'You have faith, and I have works.' Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even demons believe; and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And Scripture was fulfilled which says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.' And he was called friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only." (James 2:18-24) You are probably saying, "How can this be? Now I'm more confused than ever." Let's try to sort this out.
First, above passage is not discussing issue of salvation, but rather relationship between works (the way we conduct ourselves) and faith. Works, regardless of how we want to phrase it, can not and will not result in our salvation. We simply do not have ability or opportunity to work our way to heaven. We could spend rest of our days doing "good works" and it would not save our souls. Salvation is apart from works!
So, what relationship does works have to salvation and faith? How can we be justified by works? Let's examine few verses which precede above passage. "What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to him, 'Depart in pease, be warmed and filled,' but you do not give him things which are needed for body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead." (James 2:14-17) Works -- good deeds which help our fellow Christians, spreading gospel, etc. -- is what proves that our faith is alive and real. If we were to say, "I believe that Jesus is Son of God," we would call that faith which can lead to salvation. But proof of that faith, is not that we say we believe, but that we do those things which further kingdom. Works are result of saving faith. We are justified by our works, in that our works prove our faith to be real, alive saving faith; not just intellectual assent that God and His Son exist.