It was another of our Thursdays.
We call it Church. Friends call it untidy.
And Terry – we've mentioned
before that he's a new believer – was annoyed at an email
he'd received. Don't get all hung up about the Rapture,
Terry, it said. There are more important things to worry
about than some obscure doctrine that may or may not get
fulfilled in our lifetime.
Terry spluttered indignantly over
a mouthful of prime steak (courtesy of Buttercup, our latest
home-kill). 'Why shouldn't I get excited about the Rapture? Why
am I told that I'm “hung up” about it, for goodness'
Big Carl paused in the middle of
refilling his plate with roast spud. 'It's a put-down, mate,' he
growled. 'Implies that you can only think of one thing. Utter
rot. There's food, the return of the Lord, the big game next
Saturday, moving the ewes from the back paddock. Dozens of
things. All important. And they aren't worries. That's another
'But why don't some people want to
hear about Jesus coming back?' queried Terry. 'I can understand
if they're not Christians. But the guy who sent this email is a
believer. Or says he is.'
Actually, we understood the
attitude of the email. We'd been brought up from day one on the
teaching that Jesus was coming back to Jerusalem, Israel, as
king. And before this happening, there'd be an event, popularly
labelled 'the Rapture', where believers are physically taken to
meet the Lord before he returns.
We believed it – but
somehow, it wasn't important to us. And one day we realised we'd
got a problem. There we were, calling Jesus 'our saviour',
thanking him for dying for us, doing all the usual Christian
things for him – and yet we weren't interested in the
prospect of meeting him. If it happens, it happens, style of
So what changed us? (No, we didn't
fake it. God can smell a phoney at fifty paces.) Simply this: we
told the Lord that we weren't really interested in the
Rapture, in his return, in all that will surround those
apocalyptic events. And asked him to deal with our attitude.
And – he did.
Sure, there are any number of
important subjects in scripture that have sweet nothing to do
with End Time stuff. And dozens of important everyday matters
that have nothing to do with being a believer. (Nerds call it
multi-tasking. It's just real life – we're designed for
But read the gospels. Time after
time, Jesus tells us to have one ear cocked, one eye open for
indications of his re-entry. Yes, it'll happen with fatalistic
inevitability for those who aren't ready. The ultimate disaster.
But for those who are watching – wow-ee!
'Okay,' said Terry. 'That figures.
In fact it may make sense of the chapter where Jesus speaks about
the end-time events.'
'Matthew 24,' said Big Carl.
Somewhat smugly. He's good at scripture references.
Terry grinned triumphantly. He'd
laid a little trap, and Big Carl had obligingly stepped into
'No way. Everyone knows that one.
And they forget the shorter one in Luke 21. There's verse 36
which nobody quotes. It looks important.'
We all grabbed Bibles. It's quite
a verse. Therefore watch and pray always, that you may be
accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to
pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.
Jock and Moira were onto it like a
shot. 'Worthy? What's all this “worthy” business?
Salvation's by grace, through faith, plus zilch.'
That set off a noisy discussion
that continued through the rather nice cheesecake and fruit
salad, into the perked coffee, and finished up around the fire in
the lounge with a concordance and lexicon and everyone talking at
Emphatically yes; salvation is for
sinners, grace and faith. End of subject. But that's
Would you believe that, at least
half-a-dozen times, we're told we need to qualify for
some of the end-time events. It's nothing to do with 'going to
heaven'; that's assured if we're born again. But have a look at
some of these.
Matthew 22:8 – where guest
with bona fide wedding invitations disqualify themselves
by not being worthy.
Luke 20:35 – where the
Millennial Age and the first resurrection is restricted to those
Luke 21:36 – which we've
2 Thessalonians 1:5 – where
we have to be accounted worthy of the Kingdom of God...
2 Thessalonians 1:11 – and
worthy of 'this calling'.
Philippians 3:11-14 – where
Paul states that (at the time of writing) he hadn't qualified for
the first resurrection, but was working at it.
That last scripture rang bells
with Big Carl. He grabbed the concordance from Moira and found
what he wanted.
'There!' he exclaimed
triumphantly, stabbing a stubby forefinger at 2 Timothy 4:6-8.
'Look – Paul is ready to go. He's finished the course. He's
Jock wasn't happy. 'Aye, he may
have qualified. Read all about his beatings, shipwreck, years in
prison. He's a unique case, man. What chance do we have?'
Big Carl thrust his Bible at him.
'I didn't finish the verse. This is how we can qualify. This is
how we can be worthy. Look: ...and not to me only, but unto
all those who love his appearing!'
It started to make sense. Sure,
there are the super-saints, with all the gifts and talents and
charisma, flamboyantly striding through life to the amazement of
us lesser mortals. And there are the downcast believers,
struggling endlessly with every spiritual, mental, physical and
social disadvantage. How are the brownie points awarded?
When it comes to the Rapture, the
criterion is simply to love his appearing.
Not merely to believe it as a
doctrine. Nor to be a busy little Martha-person. But a gen-u-ine
fanatic, excited at the prospect of being called away from all
his/her possessions and plans, fun and family, duties and
dollars, to meet the King of kings face to face.
We'd been quoting Jesus and Paul.
Then someone threw in Peter for good measure. (2 Peter 3:12)
That we should be looking for and hastening the coming of the
Day of the Lord.
Okay, some translators change
'hastening' to 'hastening unto', which doesn't make much sense.
But what if we can actually ask God to insert the
Rapture into history now?
You see, the Rapture is going to
be like the first domino that topples the entire sequence.
The removal of perhaps millions of
Christians (who love his appearing) will trigger the world-wide
numbering system. It will jolt into action all the believers
(foolish virgins, anybody?) who weren't greatly bothered about
all the End Time business. And it will get the attention of the
Jewish community world-wide who will note – jealously
– that uncircumcised Gentiles have made it, Enoch-like,
into the presence of God.
Then the 3½ years of
Tribulation, worse than even the Holocaust. When Jewish leaders
(remember, Jews are dealt with prophetically as a nation) will
lead their people in repentance and recognition of Jesus as
And Yeshua HaMeshiach will return
to Jerusalem, Israel. And God's people will be restored to God's
Like we said: what if we can
actually ask God to make this all happen.