Copyright 1994 - 2018 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
June 27, 2001
Last Updated :
December 1, 2012
God's Rapture Protocol, Died In Faith, Fight The Good Fight Of Faith, Choose Wisely, Don't Miss The Ship, Press Toward The Mark, Christ's Prophetic Crucifixion, Jewish Rejection And Dogs, Jesus The Rejected Cornerstone, A Hastened Death, Mercy Of A Father?, Firstfruits Of The Resurrection, Coming Glorified Bodies, Flesh And Blood Can't Inherit The Kingdom The Kingdom Within, Faith Backed By Obedience And Action, Backslidden Christians, God's Heavenly Fleet?, Invasion From Outer Space, Subtle UFO Propaganda And Fear, Chariots Of Fire
If there is one thing which the Scriptures make clear, it is that at the time of Christ's Return, there will be two main categories of Christians. Allow me to clarify that I am not referring to on-fire Christians who are still burning brightly for the Lord, as opposed to those who have become backslidden in their faith, and who have compromised with the world. While this is also true, I am simply referring to deceased Christians and living Christians. As we saw in part two, the Apostle Paul makes mention of this very same point in his Epistle to the Thessalonian brethren, where he states "the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds." Allow me to ask you a question: Why is it that the dead in Christ are raptured first? Is it simply a matter of Divine Protocol? Is it to show respect for those who have gone on before us? Possibly. In Hebrews chapter eleven, Paul makes a very interesting point when he says in verse thirteen:
"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth."
Hebrews 11:13, KJV
What I wish to call to your attention in that verse are the first five words: "These all died in faith". You see, these people who are raptured before us, all died in faith. In other words, they kept their faith until the very end. They didn't backslide; they persevered in their faith until the very end of their Earthly lives. The Lord made a similar statement that is found in the Gospel of Matthew. He said the following:
"And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved."
Matthew 10:22, KJV
So what we learn from this, is that the person who has real faith endures until the end. He doesn't give up. He doesn't surrender. He doesn't backslide. He doesn't compromise. He perseveres, and he fights the good fight of faith until the day in which the Lord calls him Home. Thus, Paul also wrote the following to Timothy. Please notice that the second set of verses were apparently written a short time before Paul was beheaded by the Romans, and sound similar to Peter's own words of departure, which I shared with you in part one:
"Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses."
1 Timothy 6:12, KJV
"For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."
2 Timothy 4:6-8, KJV
I find it very interesting that right after saying "Fight the good fight of faith", Paul writes "lay hold on eternal life." That sound exactly like Jesus' own words when He said "he that endureth to the end shall be saved." So the point is, these people who are raptured first, apparently all died in faith; that is, they kept their faith until the end; and as a matter of Divine Protocol, that may possibly be why they are raptured ahead of the rest of us; however, there may be an even simpler reason. Perhaps you already know what it is. I think that I have already dropped enough hints. The fact of the matter is, they are already dead; and if a person is already dead, then obviously, that puts them one step ahead of those of us who are still alive and in the flesh.
As I have already stated, in order for we living Christians to be transported to Heaven, we have to die first. Not only do we have to die first, but we also have to die in faith. If you accept the theories I have presented in this series, then not only do we have to die first, but we may also have to voluntarily choose to die, if we still happen to be alive at Christ's Return. Can you see that now? That may possibly be why the Lord says "the one shall be taken, and the other left." One person makes the right choice, and steps out by faith saying "Yes! Take me home, Jesus! I am ready to go!", while the other person, thinking to save his Earthly life, possibly because he is still too attached to it, or perhaps because he is even afraid, because his faith has been in word only, and not truly a living faith, makes the wrong choice, just like Lot's wife.
Why else would Jesus put all of those things together like that? He cautions us to remember Lot's wife; He tells us that he that loses his life will save it; and He says one will be taken and the other left; so it really sounds to me like the Lord is telling us to count the cost, and to make sure that we choose wisely when His Angels come for us. He seems to be saying "Don't be so attached to your flesh, and to your Earthly life, that you miss the ship when your ride arrives! Don't look back to your past life in the flesh as Lot's wife did; look ahead to the bright future ahead of you in the Kingdom of God!" The Apostle Paul was inspired to write similar words when he said:
"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."
Philippians 3:13-14, KJV
". . . Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."
1 Corinthians 2:9, KJV
While the following thought may seem strange to some worldly people, particularly because many of them greatly fear death, and do everything within their power to try to avoid it as long as possible, as we saw earlier, the Bible plainly tells us that Jesus willingly died for us, in order to atone for the sins of the world. In addition to the verses I already shared with you in part two, consider the fact that in the Gospel of John, Jesus is recorded as having said:
"Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father."
John 10:17-18, KJV
However, what some Christians may not even realize, is that the Lord apparently died much quicker than was the normal expectation for that manner of corporal punishment. We know that He died before the two thieves who were crucified on both sides of Him, which is why their legs were broken -- to hasten their deaths by asphyxiation -- while His were not. This, of course, was in direct fulfillment of several Old Testament prophecies, as we see by the verses that follow:
"The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced."
John 19:31-37, KJV
"For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture."
Psalms 22:16-18, KJV
"He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken."
Psalms 34:20, KJV
Please notice that it was the ungodly Jews, whom the Old Testament prophecies refer to as "dogs", and "the assembly of the wicked" -- the Sanhedrin? -- who demanded of Pilate that the legs of all three of them be broken, so that their dead bodies could be taken down from the crosses, before the High Sabbath began. As Jesus Himself plainly told those self-righteous hypocrites, they were more interested in keeping their dead rituals and traditions, than they were in observing the true Law of God, and honoring the true Word of God, who came in the flesh. They wanted Him killed swiftly, and have His dead body taken down quickly, so it wouldn't interfere with their spiritless observances. They didn't want to have the Blood of the Savior on their minds. That is how little Jesus meant to them. But you see, the prophecies had already marked them as the real dogs, and Jesus Himself warned His followers to beware of those Jewish dogs when He said:
"Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you."
Matthew 7:6, KJV
That is exactly what they did too. Those Jews trampled the true Word of God under foot; they rejected the Saviour; and they turned on Jesus like a pack of blood-thirsty wild dogs; and they used the Romans to tear Him apart with the whipping, the Crown of Thorns, and the Crucifixion. That is why the Scriptures also tell us:
"He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not."
Isaiah 53:3, KJV
"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?"
Matthew 21:42, KJV
"And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again."
Mark 8:31, KJV
"Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day."
Luke 9:22, KJV
"But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation."
Luke 17:25, KJV
"He came unto his own, and his own received him not."
John 1:11, KJV
"This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner."
Acts 4:11, KJV
"To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be con- founded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed."
1 Peter 2:4-8, KJV
What you may find interesting, is the fact that we are told that even Pilate marvelled, or wondered, when he heard that Jesus had died so quickly. You see, unlike other criminals, who sometimes remained alive for several days as they died a slow agonizing on the cross -- which is apparently why the Romans chose such a cruel form of punishment -- Jesus died in a matter of about six hours. The Gospel accounts tell us that He was crucified at about the third hour of the day, which would have been around nine o'clock in the morning, and that He died at about the ninth hour of the day, which would have been around three o'clock in the afternoon:
"And it was the third hour, and they crucified him . . . And when the sixth hour was come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? . . . And Jesus cried with a loud voice, and gave up the ghost."
Mark 15:25, 33-34, 37, KJV
"And Pilate marvelled if he were already dead: and calling unto him the centurion, he asked him whether he had been any while dead."
Mark 15:44, KJV
So you see, Pilate was very familiar with crucifixion. He must have already bloodied his hands with perhaps dozens, hundreds, or maybe even thousands of people who had met such a cruel and humiliating death, before the time came to judge Jesus. The Jews also knew that men could survive for several days on the cross, and they certainly didn't want that "false prophet", Jesus, disrupting their holy day, so they asked Pilate to have their legs broken in order to hasten their deaths. But you see, either in His Mercy and Love for His Son, or perhaps because He simply didn't want those Jewish dogs doing any more physical harm to His Son, such as by having His legs broken so that He would die of asphyxiation, God had Jesus die after only six hours. It may even be that Jesus voluntarily chose to give up His spirit to His Father at that time. After all, He did say:
". . . Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost."
Luke 23:46b, KJV
Another possible interpretation, is that Jesus was saying, "Father, I commit my Spirit into Your Hands; and I trust you to bring me back to life; just as you promised Me that you would." Whatever the correct interpretation of the verse might be, we know that Jesus only remained dead for three days; and then He returned in a new Glorified Body, thus becoming the Firstfruits of the Resurrection, as I point out in other articles, such as "Is Jesus the Only Begotten Son of God?". He became the first of a new genre of spiritual beings. This is why in the Gospel of John, in prophesying of His own coming death, and the many spiritual children which would result from it, He also said:
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour."
John 12:24-26, KJV
Of course, we are the fruit to which He is referring; and just like Him, someday, we too will put on our wonderful new Spiritual Bodies, which are fashioned just like His Spiritual Body. Consider these verses:
"For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."
Romans 8:29, KJV
"Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself."
Philippians 3:21, KJV
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is."
1 John 3:2, KJV
So the Scriptures make it clear that we cannot enter the Realm of Heaven in our current physical state. We must be changed; we must be transformed; and no matter how you look at it, or try to interpret it, that involves what we know as death to the flesh. Notice in the following verses where Paul discusses our physical Earthly bodies and our coming Spiritual Bodies, that he very specifically says in verse fifty that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God". That can mean only one thing: It has to die; it has to be replaced by something better:
"There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."
1 Corinthians 15:40-52, KJV
If we are still alive in a flesh and blood body when Jesus returns, we will not be fully ready to entire the Realm of the Spirit. Even Jesus plainly said to Nicodemus in John chapter three:
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."
John 3:6, KJV
So God is going to have to transform us first; and that will involve peeling off the outer Earthly shell of the flesh, or the tabernacle as Peter and Paul called it, in order to reveal the full glory of the inner spiritual man, which is currently hidden from human eyes. Remember; Jesus also said in the Gospel of Luke:
". . . The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you."
Luke 17:20b-21, KJV
So at Christ's Return, we are going to have to die in the flesh; even if it is for but a brief moment as we are being transformed; and as I have said all along, I think that God may give us the choice to do so, in order that we can put on the full man of the Spirit; and thus meet the Lord in the air, and enter His Kingdom. I don't think that He will force it upon us. If there is one thing which we have seen in the various examples I have presented in this series, it is that an important decision had, or has, to be made in each case. The person(s) involved had, or have, to make a certain choice, and then it becomes necessary to put their faith into action through obedience. Noah had to believe that he was hearing from God, and then build the Ark. Lot had to believe that the two men were truly Angels sent by God, and then obey their warning by fleeing Sodom. In the coming days when Jerusalem is once again surrounded by her enemies, the Jews are going to have to have the faith to flee to the mountains. In like manner, when the Angels of the Lord come around for us, will we too have to have the faith to make the right choice and hop on board for the ride of our lives, even if it means peeling off the old flesh? As James wrote:
"For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."
James 2:26, KJV
Now, some Christians might argue, "Well, what Christian in his right mind would refuse to go to be with the Lord when the wonderful day of His Second Coming finally arrives?" This question brings us to the final topic I wish to discuss in this series. The obvious answer would be those Christians who have become totally backslidden in their faith, who have seriously compromised with the world, and who no longer even believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, of which there are already many. As I have pointed out a number of times before, if we are ashamed of Him, then He will most certainly be ashamed of us at His Return, for as Jesus said in Mark chapter eight:
"Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."
Mark 8:38, KJV
But these are not the only people who might miss the ship. You may have noticed that I have repeatedly used the word "ship", to describe our going to be with the Lord. As you may already know from reading some of my other articles that deal with aliens and UFOs, my use of this word is not meant to be taken as a metaphor; and it may be for this very same reason, that some people will be scared out of their wits when Christ and His Angelic Forces arrive in the clouds of Heaven. While most of us are familiar with the multitude of stories, books, TV programs and movies which have been made, the theme of which revolves around alien invasions from the depths of outer space, the simple truth of the matter, is that from a earthly human perspective, Christ's Second Coming may indeed seem like an invasion by a super-advanced intelligent race from Outer Space!
As I point out in such articles as "Age of Deception, Age of Delusion", "Under the Cloud: UFOs and the Holy Bible", "Nature of the Alien", and "Nostradamus: Prophet of God, Or Messenger of Satan?", there are some strong indications in the Bible that God may possess some kind of highly-advanced Heavenly Fleet. Without delving into a lot of details, being as I amply explain this topic in the aforementioned articles, allow me to simply remind you of a few very strange Biblical events.
Most Christians are familiar with the Prophet Ezekiel's "wheel within a wheel" which had "eyes" rotating around its periphery -- which was a very unusual vision indeed -- but was it just a vision? Let us also remember the mysterious "bright cloud" which overshadowed Peter James and John on the Mount of Transfiguration, from which proceeded the very Voice of God, and into which we are even told that the three Disciples entered. We are told that they fell upon their faces out of fear, upon beholding this unusual manifestation from Heaven. Let us likewise not forget the "dove", and the Voice from Heaven, which occurred on the day of Jesus' water baptism. Allow me to also remind you that when Jesus returned to Heaven in the first chapter of the Book of Acts, we are told that "he was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight". Finally, let us not forget that at His Glorious Return, the Lord and His Angelic Army are in fact going to arrive in the clouds of Heaven, in order to engage in their final battle against none other than the Prince of the Power of the Air, the false god of this present world, who will be incarnate in the Jewish Antichrist!
Just as Jesus was taken up, and was received out of their sight by a cloud, He clearly tells us that when His Angels come for us, one will be taken, and the other left. In some way, the Lord's Angels are going to escort us, in order to meet Him in the air. What kind of escort will this be? Will it just be a matter of floating up in the sky in our new Glorified Bodies, or might there possibly be more that is being said here than what meets the eye?
Clearly then, we have some very unusual events occurring in the Bible; and many people who do not fully understand the Word of the Lord, are going to be totally shocked, and very frightened, when Jesus Christ returns. Because of the subtle negative propaganda surrounding UFOs which has been widely propagated for quite a few years via the mass media, some people are going to be utterly convinced that Christ's Return is an evil invasion from outer space; and instead of running to the Lord and His Angelic Escorts, they are going to run away; thinking all the while, that they are saving their lives, when in fact, they may very well end up facing the Lord's Wrath if they don't choose to go. They are going to lose their lives, in the process of trying to save them; just like Lot's wife! Think about this for a moment. If the scenario I've described for you is anywhere near accurate, and Christians do recognize this as Christ's Return, the ignorant people of Planet Earth are going to think that we are absolutely insane when we willingly submit ourselves to the Angelic Visitors who come for us, in order to escort us up to the "Celestial Mother Ships". If all of this sounds farfetched to you, then perhaps you would like to consider the following event which took place several thousand years ago. God has been in this business for a very long time:
"And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me. And he said, Thou hast asked a hard thing: nevertheless, if thou see me when I am taken from thee, it shall be so unto thee; but if not, it shall not be so. And it came to pass, as they still went on, and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven."
2 Kings 2:9-11, KJV
There again we see that mysterious whirlwind which we find mentioned in a number of places throughout the Scriptures. It was a circular, fast-moving object of some sort, which was enveloped by what appeared to be a brilliant fire! You figure it out! Is that perhaps what Ezekiel saw as well? Could that even have been the "bright cloud" which hovered over the Mount of Transfiguration and boomed out God's Voice? God must have quite a sound system!
So praise God for His "Chariots of Fire"; His Celestial Vehicles which will whisk us off to Heaven, as in a mighty whirlwind! If this is indeed how it will be -- this is all only speculation on my part -- will you personally be ready for it? Will you have the faith to say, "Yes, Lord; take me Home! Beam me up! I am ready to go to be with You in Your Father's Kingdom!"? Will you be able to take that one last great step of faith into the World Beyond? I hope so, because time may be shorter than you think! We may only have a few short years left!
With these words, I will bring this series to its conclusion. I pray that you have found it informative, and I hope that it has been a blessing in your life. If you have been inspired by it, I ask you to please consider sharing its URL with your online friends. If you have an account on Facebook, Twitter or Google+, I would also appreciate if you would take the time to click on the corresponding link which is found on this page. Thank you so much, and may God bless you abundantly!
For additional information, you may want to refer to the list of resources below which were either mentioned in this series, or which contain topics which are related to this serie. All of these articles are likewise located on this very same Bill's Bible Basics website:
Admiral Richard E. Byrd and the Hollow Earth Theory
Age of Deception, Age of Delusion
Are You Crucified With Christ?
Are You Redeeming the Time?
As a Thief in the Night? Not for Me!
Going Down the Highway
Is Jesus the Only Begotten Son of God?
Nature of the Alien: ETs, Demons or a Government Plot?
Nostradamus: Prophet of God, Or Messenger of Satan?
Pornography: Flee Youthful Lusts!
Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God
The Gay and Lesbian Agenda: To the Point!
The Great Tribulation and the Rapture
Under the Cloud: UFOs and the Holy Bible