Friday, December 08, 2006

Eschatology 101 (Part 14)

Last time we looked at the gathering of the elect (some times called the rapture) at the return of Jesus Christ. We left with the question, how do I qualify for inclusion?

"For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ." (I Corinthians 15:21-23)

The key phrase here is "those who belong to Christ." But before we look at that we need to notice what was written previous. "For as by a man came death," that is Adam. But his disobedience mankind was plunged into the dark pool of sin and death. But "by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead," that is Jesus. By his obedience we have a route out of death, a resurrection of the dead. "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive." It is all a question of location. Where are you?

So how does one get into Christ or belong to Christ?

"For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body..." (1 Corinthians 12:13)

This "one body" is Jesus. It is also referred to in the Scriptures as "the church" and "the bride". The only way into the church is by baptism. But what baptism? "For by one Spirit we were all baptized..." Not by water, as some have been led to think...

Like wise, "In him you also... were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. Which is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of his glory." (Ephesians 1:14)

When we are baptised in the Holy Spirit we are sealed. This belongs of Jesus Christ. Just like letters of old were sealed with wax to ensure their authenticity, so we are sealed by our owner.

Are you sealed? Will you be part of the gathering?

God bless,


Eschatology 101 (Part 13)

"and he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." (Matthew 24:31)

What is this gathering of his elect? Several times through scriptures the return of Christ is coupled with a gathering together of those who belong to Christ. For example in John 14 Jesus tells this disciples that he is leaving, but "... I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also." (John 14:3)

This event is some times called "the rapture". The word "rapture" comes from the Latin verb "rapere" which means "to carry off, abduct, seize or take forcefully". It was used in the Latin Vulgate (about 405 A.D.) translation of 1 Thessalonians 4:17, which is a key verse about the gathering of the saints to Jesus Christ.

"For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel's call, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first; then we who are alive, who are left, shall 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." (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17)

Again we see the familiar pattern, Jesus returning with Angels (even Archangels), with the sound of a trumpet and then a gathering of the saints (both dead and alive).

1) Clouds 2) Angels 3) Trumpets 4) The gathering.

We are told that the dead in Christ will rise first and then those who remain, those alive will be taken up (raptured) to be with those we where just resurrected and to be with Jesus.

How does one qualify for this resurrection? Did you notice how 1 Thessalonians 4:16 puts it, "And the dead in Christ will rise first". This is the key, it is those in Christ.

Next time we shall look at what that means.

God bless,