The Encourager

The Encourager

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A Rapture?

Sunday, November 08, 2020

A Rapture?

By Jeff Curtis

 

     People right now are not satisfied with where the election sits (at the time of this writing). So, a great many people are speaking as though this is the end of the world. People are writing letters to editor of the local newspaper and professing that “The Rapture” is about to take place. A good sister cut a “letter to the editor” out of a recent Times-Gazette. In reading this letter, about the Rapture, I find it interesting that they are typical of all others in spewing their false doctrine.

     When I read this “letter”, I was not impressed with what was written. It was filled with the same rhetoric as they as always use. Yet, the author of this letter said the “Bible predicts,” and never once used any Scripture to prove her point as being biblical.

     She did use phrases or language that is used in the Bible, but never once gave the reader a place to turn to in the pages of God’s Word to prove her points. She used phrases that sound like they would could be found in the Scriptures. The problem with this theory / false doctrine is that it is based upon the theory of premillennialism.

     This theory is predominant in several religious groups around the country. It teaches that God will send His Son back to the earth to reign in Jerusalem for 1,000 years. This happens only after the Rapture, where God snatches the “faithful” out of the world and takes them to heaven. This is such a dominating doctrine that a series of books and movies were produced several years ago. Tim LeHaye and Jerry Jenkins made a lot of money producing this series of books and movies.

     The theory of premillennialism says that those not taken in the Rapture will be “Left Behind,” and given a chance to get their lives right while Jesus is reigning in Jerusalem for 1,000.

     The problem that a Christian should have with this is this; it makes a God a respecter of people. This theory contradicts the Word of God. Peter, when speaking the household of Cornelius in Acts 10, he believed that God was desiring the Gentiles to receive the hope of salvation. Cornelius explained why he had sent for Peter and Peter’s response was, “34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. 35 But in every nation, whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.”

     When the Holy Spirit fell on the house of Cornelius, “44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word. 45 And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.”

      In this text, we see that God is not a respecter of people. So, if God is going to give you a second chance after everyone has lived their life according to the Word of God, how is that fair.

      If I know that there will be a second chance offered by God, why should I even try to live a faithful life now. I could live however I may want, knowing God is going to allow me to have a “do over.”

     A question needs to be asked here, “How can Christ’s coming mark the beginning of a millennial reign when Paul says it marks the ‘end’ of His reign?”

      Another passage that these false teachers use is 1Thessalonians 4:13-14. Here Paul writes; “13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus.”

     Paul here is teaching, 1) that either the Thessalonians had failed to allow what they had been taught about death and the resurrection. That this should provide for them the comfort they should have experienced. 2) they hadn’t fully understood the subject so that it didn’t bring them the comfort that such hope provided.

      Evidently what Paul wanted to do in this passage, was to assure them that not only would their dead brothers and sisters be raised, but that they would be raised to share in the blessings associated with the coming of the Lord in the same way that the living would participate in them.

     They teach that this passage, 1Thessalonians 4:13-16, teaches the “Rapture.” Strange, but I don’t read the word Rapture in this verse, we can’t find the word anywhere in the passages of Scripture. Paul wrote this passage because some thought that the return of Jesus was delayed. They also had lost hope in the return of Jesus because some prominent people had died.

The Sermon on the Mount

Sunday, November 01, 2020

The Sermon on the Mount

By Jeff Curtis

 

    Matthew’s Gospel gives the most inclusive account of the teachings of Jesus. At least 60 percent of the book of Matthew focuses on what Jesus taught. It provides us with six of our Lord’s discourses, placed within the five teaching sections. One of those sections is Matthew chapters 5-7; The Sermon on the Mount.

     The Sermon on the Mount is unique to Matthew. Luke includes a Sermon on the Plain that contains similar points, but scholars are not sure that they are the same discourse (Luke 6:17-49). Matthew is the only Gospel in which the scenes of the judgment are depicted (chapters 13; 25).

     When Matthew records Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Jesus had just announced to His disciples, “Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (5:20). His words were a summation of all that would follow in the Sermon on the Mount.

     In the first portion of His sermon, Matthew 5:21-48, Jesus had framed His teachings with five contrasts between what He said and what Jewish traditions had said. In Chapter 6:1-18, the second portion of His instructions in this sermon, He dealt with religious forms and the heart – with true religion as opposed to outward ritual.

     After a general warning in (6:1), Jesus presented three major illustrations: giving (6:2-4), praying (6:5-15), and fasting (6:16-18). One commentator has mentioned that it was common for Jewish teachers to use groups of three examples in the instruction.

     In Matthew 6:19-34, Jesus warned against hoarding wealth instead of trusting in God. His central theme warned emphasized that preoccupation with earthly treasures betrays a divided loyalty, as well as a lack of faith in God’s provision.

     Americans today spend much of their disposable income in treasures that can become tomorrow’s trash. That item we thought we just had to have become a bargain for some treasure hunter in next year’s yard sale. A wise person once wrote, “Americans spend money they don’t have, to buy things they don’t need, to impress people they don’t like.”

     A lot of people are so overcome by the pursuit of material wealth they don’t enjoy what they already have. The obsession with material possessions is captured by a bumper sticker that reads, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” But we all know that “you can’t take it with you when you go.” Paul wrote, “For we brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it” (1Timothy 6:7). Some of the Egyptian pharaohs were buried with their wealth in the great pyramids so that they could enjoy these possessions in the afterlife. Instead, their wealth has become the property of looters, archaeologists, and museums in generations that have come after them.

     Our focus must not be on accumulating worldly possessions, but on building up the kingdom of God and helping others. By using our blessings from God for these purposes, we can lay up treasures in heaven. If our treasure is on earth, we will not make preparation for heaven: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). Then we will lose the eternal happiness found in heaven. How sad it will be on the day of judgment to find our accounts marked “insufficient funds” or “account closed.”

     As Christians, our allegiance is to Christ. We cannot serve Him and wealth at the same time. Once a person has become a slave to his material possessions, he has crowded Christ out of his life. Christ cannot dwell in a heart that is full of material things. A choice has to be made. If we want to be with God eternally, we must choose to serve Him and His righteousness over sin and our possessions.

 

     Finally, Paul says this; 16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness? 17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. 18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. (Romans 6:16-18). 

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