What is meant by the Rapture of the Church? When might it happen?

What is meant by the Rapture of the Church? When might it happen?

Since Jesus ascended into heaven, his followers–the Church–believed that he would visibly return as both judge and ruler of all creation. The earliest recorded creeds affirmed that Jesus would “come again to judge the living and the dead.” Additional confessions written since the Reformation continue that understanding.

The physical return of Jesus remains a central tenet of the church, but there has been much debate about when that will take place. In last week’s post we wrote about signs of the end times, but Jesus, himself, told his followers that God alone knows when Jesus will return.

What, then, is the rapture? The English noun/verb “rapture” comes from the Latin noun raptura/verb rapio that appears 14 times in the New Testament. It means “to remove suddenly or snatch away.” That’s the expectation–that all believers will be caught up to meet Jesus in the air just prior to the Great Tribulation.

In the book Daniel 9:24-27, we read about the angel Gabriel explaining the prophecy of the seventy weeks to Daniel. He describes a period of 490 years, the final seven of which will be a Great Tribulation for the nation Israel and the world. Christians won’t be subjected to this great tribulation since they will be snatched away.

Paul affirms this in his letter to the church in the Greek city of Thessalonika:

and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.

1 Thess. 1:10

For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Thess. 5:9

Jesus says the same thing in Rev. 3:10.

Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.

Rev. 3:10

Jesus promised to return and remove His people from the earth:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

John 14:1-3

This promise is reaffirmed by the Apostle Paul:

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

1 Thess. 4:16, 17

Since Jesus promised he will remove his followers from earth at an unknowable time before the earth plunges into a time of terrible tribulation, it only makes sense that each of us is ready for his return. If you would like to learn more about what it means to become part of the Church that will be raptured, please read our post, How does one become a Christian? 

What is Biblical Law

What is Biblical Law

There are two important factors in understanding law: (1) man’s moral worth; and (2) man’s rebellious nature.

Man has worth. Man was created by God in the image and likeness of God. Thus, there is an inherent value in a person. That worth is not earned but is given in man’s creation. It is often called “moral worth” or “the dignity of man.” Thus, to harm or murder a man is to deny him the value and dignity bestowed upon him by God.

Also, man has a rebellious nature. Man disobeyed God and the result was a change in man’s nature. His nature became self-centered. As such, man will devise ways to achieve his own self-interests, often harming others. Law attempts to control this rebellion in man.

Because of these two factors, moral worth and rebelliousness, God has given two types of law: (1) natural law (which we addressed in last week’s post) and (2) Biblical law (which we address in this post).

Through his word, the Bible, God has provided a framework for living in relationship with Him, with our families and with all other humans. That law is first laid down in the first five books of the Bible know as the Mosaic Law or the Torah. That law is detailed across many pages, but the essence is contained in what has become known as the Ten Commandments.

And God spoke all these words:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before me.

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

“You shall not murder.

“You shall not commit adultery.

“You shall not steal.

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

 

Exodus 20:1-17

The intent of Biblical Law is not only to protect man, but keep him on a right path that provides a healthy, blessed and happy life. 

. . . happy is he who keeps the law.

Proverbs 29:18

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.

Psalm 1:1-2

Biblical Law and Natural Law are beautifully summed up by Jesus when he was asked by one of the great Bible scholars of his day, “What is the greatest commandment?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:36-40

In addition to God’s law that is burned onto the hearts and minds of men (Natural Law) and made evident through

God’s word (Biblical Law), man creates civil law. Man realizes that laws are required to temper the natural instincts of men and women. These laws are usually designed to protect individuals from harmful actions of others and to make individuals accountable for their actions. However, civil laws may not conform to God’s Biblical Law, and in fact, may contradict both Natural and Biblical Law. Such contradictory laws are often established based on the selfish desires of man.

Law that follows Biblical principles protects each of us and the ones we love. God’s law is true. It is designed to increase the happiness of everyone, ensuring a fair and just society when it is obeyed.

Since all men and women are incapable of keeping the law–natural or Biblical–they are forever separated from their creator God. That’s why God, sent his son, Jesus, to provide a way to restore the relationship between God and man. If you’d like to learn more, check out our post, How does one become a Christian?

 

 

 

What is Christian Apologetics?

What is Christian Apologetics?

The dictionary defines apologetics as “reasoned arguments in justification of something, someone or a cause. Persuading with reason and evidence and truth.”

 

Therefore, Christian apologetics are the reasoned arguments that justify what Christians believe about God, the Bible, Jesus Christ, Creation, Sin, Salvation, Nature, the Origins of Man, Heaven, Hell, End Times, Judgement and Eternity. These apologetics undergird Christianity, allowing Christians to understand the solid foundation on which their belief rests.

Through apologetics, Christians are able to coherently explain God’s existence, the truth of the Bible, and the reliability of the Biblical and Secular evidence for the life, teachings, miracles, death on a cross, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. What Christians believe and why they believe it matters because those who have placed their faith and trust in God and Jesus find real meaning and purpose in life. They overcome the fear of death and find peace with God, joy for living and the assurance of eternal life in Heaven.

Christian Apologetics demonstrates that the truth of God’s Word best matches the reality of the human condition and life itself. That’s why hundreds of millions of people have become followers of Jesus. They recognize that He is who He said He is: The Son of God, The Prophesied Messiah, The Anointed One… the only way to peace with God and eternal life. Jesus is the only one who can forgive sin. He is the only real hope for world peace. He is the only intercessor between man and God. He has promised that he will return to earth to Judge all who have or will have lived in this world, making all things new including Earth and Heaven.

That judgment will be final. Those who have not placed their trust and faith in Jesus as their Savior will be eternally separated from God and his perfect love. If you would like to know how you can become one of God’s children and begin to walk into the best possible future, check out our post, How does one become a Christian?  How you respond will be the most important decision of your life.

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When do children become accountable for their sin nature?

When do children become accountable for their sin nature?

The Bible is does not address this question directly, but it does talk about the innocence of children. The age of awareness is when we have the ability to distinguish good from evil. In Deuteronomy 1:39 we read that the children were allowed to enter the Promised Land. The adults that had not trusted God did not get to enter. Young children have not rejected God’s revelation as they aren’t aware of it. Hence, one who has not rejected the Word of God will be saved. God who is merciful and loving can be trusted to do what is right, just and fair.

Jesus blessed ‘little children’. He even said, “Such is the Kingdom of Heaven.” He certainly would never bless someone going to hell. The root question is, does God treat willful knowledgeable disobedient sin differently from our inherited sin nature from Adam? We don’t know.

Jesus said, ”I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through ME.” (John 14:6) All [which would include children ] have sinned and come short of the Glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

When a child reaches the age of accountability (i.e. the age of innocence is over, which varies for each one), then they are aware of their need for a savior. Children as young as 4 or 5 have been known to pray to invite Jesus into their lives and receive the assurance that they have heaven as their eternal destination.

While we don’t know when a child becomes accountable for their sin nature, we do know that sooner or later each has to come to terms with his or her sin. That’s why we encourage all to trust a loving and merciful God to judge fairly the ‘little children’. And, we can all point young ones to God and show them what it means to become a true child of God. Check out our post: How does one become a Christian? 

What is evil?

What is evil?

People use the word evil to describe all sorts of behavior. More often than not, evil is associated with people other than themselves or with actions with which they disagree. Politicians are labeled as evil when they take a position that is at odds with the person or group calling them evil. Some people argue that abortion is evil because it involves the taking of innocent lives. Others argue that opponents of abortion are evil because they want to force women to carry an unwanted baby to term. Some people argue that allowing people to own “weapons of war” is evil while others brand as evil, those who want to deny them the right to own those weapons.

It is interesting that some philosophers, ethicists and religious leaders have suggested that evil is just an illusion. That it is a condition of the mortal mind. Others have said it is a result of ignorance and superstitions and if you don’t think about it evil will go away.

Our life experiences argue otherwise. While we may not brand as evil those with whom we disagree, we nonetheless recognize that evil is all around us. We lock our cars and houses. We install security systems. We support laws against murder, rape, child abduction, lying under oath, etc. We recognize the manifestations of evil, and as Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart wrote in his concurring opinion in the 1964 Jacobellis v. Ohio case, with respect to identifying hard-core pornography, “I know it when I see it.”

We know evil when we see it because the creater God who made us, planted within us a recognition of right and wrong. It came about when Adam and Eve used their gift of free will to disobey God. There was only one commandment and they chose not to keep it. At that moment the human race and the earth began to experience the opposite of God’s goodness, evil.

Evil is the absence of God. We see it expressed in pain, suffering, discord, war and death. Unfortunately, many refuse to recognize evil because they believe that they know more than God knows. They don’t see that they are going down a dead-end road. All men are evil and are capable of doing evil things. When Jesus was teaching he reinforced what we think of as the Ten Commandments, pointing out that men and women are not capable of enjoying a right-relationship with God because of the evil that infests their thinking.

That’s why Jesus did more than teach, he willingly died on a cross to carry all the sins of the world to the grave, and then rose again to assure us that eternal life with God is possible. He only asks that each of us accept his free gift of atonement for our evil lives. That’s the ‘good news’ of Jesus’ triumph over evil. God reigns and one day all evil will be overthrown. All those who put their trust in him will live eternally where there is no pain, no suffering and no death.

If you would like to know how you can enjoy the assurance of forgiveness for your sins, we wncourage you to read our postHow does one become a Christian? 

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How tolerant should a Christian be of other viewpoints?

How tolerant should a Christian be of other viewpoints?

Understanding what you mean by tolerance is an important first step in answering this question. Tolerance once meant a free and open discussion in search of the truth. Modern science is based on searching for the truth. Tolerance used to be a respectful discourse open to “all points of view”.

Today, however, the word has taken on a new meaning. Many in Western culture today view tolerance as accepting any and all viewpoints as being equally valid so long as those viewpoints comport with their worldviews. They no longer view truth as absolute and reject scientific reality. As a result, they are no longer tolerant of traditional systems that provide guidelines for moral living and governing

For example, many today deny God’s truth, as found in the Bible, a gold standard for morality and reason that has guided mankind for thousands of years. The result is the moral decline of society. That decline includes, but is not limited to, lying, fraud, failure to protect the sanctity of life, immorality, infidelity, disrespect for authority, selfishness, greed, and much more. Secular tolerance has become a new god where people offend no one and stand for nothing. The only thing they don’t tolerate is Christian and biblical truths. This new notion of tolerance is leading to chaos and loss of freedoms.

Interestingly, Jesus, God’s son, entered the world during a time when many of the so-called faith leaders showed no tolerance for those who did not strictly subscribe to their way of doing things. That intolerance was couched in religious terms so as to suggest that one group of people, the elite, had it right and everyone else needed to live by their standards — their version of truth

In his Sermon on the Mount, and throughout his ministry, Jesus demonstrated by words and deeds, that he would not be tolerant of the beliefs or behavior of others who had a warped view of God’s teaching. He turned the system upside down by restoring a right-reading of scripture and calling people to give up their sinful ways. He went so far as to go to the cross to die in the place of you and me so that our wrongdoings could be paid for and we could become Children of God.

This truth has had a profound impact on the world over the last two thousand years. Yes indeed! If Christianity is not the truth, then the Christian faith does not matter. History suggests strongly that Christian faith and the truth do matter. Western civilization is rooted in the Christian experience and worldview. When Christian truths are replaced by the god of tolerance, America, as we have known it — it’s virtues, values and freedoms — will no longer exist. Jesus said,

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:31, 32

Yes, Truth matters! Our democracy and our freedoms depend upon it. Never be afraid to defend the truth that makes you free.

So, does that mean that Christians should not be tolerant of other viewpoints? No. But Christians should not mistake tolerance as acceptance. When other viewpoints go against the expressed teachings of God, Christians should challenge them. For example, God’s clear teaching on marriage, sexuality, the sanctity of life, divorce, the role of the government, murder, lying, and stealing represent truth on which a Christian should stake out a position when confronted by others who demand acceptance of their positions under the guise of tolerance.

This truth has had a profound impact on the world over the last two thousand years. Yes indeed! If Christianity is not the truth, then the Christian faith does not matter. History suggests strongly that Christian faith and the truth do matter. Western civilization is rooted in the Christian experience and worldview. When Christian truths are replaced by the god of tolerance, America, as we have known it — it’s virtues, values and freedoms — will no longer exist. Jesus said,

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:31, 32

Yes, Truth matters! Our democracy and our freedoms depend upon it. Never be afraid to defend the truth that makes you free.

So, does that mean that Christians should not be tolerant of other viewpoints? No. But Christians should not mistake tolerance as acceptance. When other viewpoints go against the expressed teachings of God, Christians should challenge them. For example, God’s clear teaching on marriage, sexuality, the sanctity of life, divorce, the role of the government, murder, lying, and stealing represent truth on which a Christian should stake out a position when confronted by others who demand acceptance of their positions under the guise of tolerance.

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