Sunday, May 28, 2017

Who Knows?

“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”  1 Corinthians 2:7-8  NKJV

know; to perceive or understand as fact or truth; to apprehend clearly and with certainty

Let me begin today by asking you a question; if Satan had known that the crucifixion would result in the salvation of the world, would he have gone through with it?  If you think that the reference to the “rulers of this age” is speaking of the Sadducees, Pharisees, and Pilate of Rome I suggest you might want to reconsider.  The crucifixion was Satan’s master plan and it backfired in his face in a spectacular way.  He had absolutely no idea that what he thought would be his crowning glory would end up being God’s plan to save mankind by salvation through grace as the result of the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.

“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”  Colossians 2:13-15  NKJV

Speaking of Satan, Jesus said he is the ruler of this world;

“I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.”  John 14:30  NKJV

Paul calls him the god of this age;

“whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”  2 Corinthians 4:4  NKJV

John describes him as the wicked one;

“We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.”  1 John 5:19  NKJV

The “mystery” of the “wisdom of God” was that Jesus’ death and resurrection would result in the creation of the Church, a body of believers He would call His own and who would spread the gospel, the good news of salvation by grace available to all who choose to believe, to the ends of the earth.  Look back at the definition of “know” from the dictionary at the beginning of this article.  Paul refers to this plan as a “mystery” because it was not known or understood as a fact or truth, and Satan was the one God was hiding it from.

Considering that the mystery of the Church was hidden from Satan, it is logical to question if there might be something else God has chosen to hide.  Something many do not realize is that while the creation of the Church was called a mystery by Paul, he also called something else a mystery as well.

“Behold, I tell 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 trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”  1 Corinthians 15:51-54  NKJV

Now to me, personally, I think it makes perfect sense that Paul describes the rapture of the Church as a mystery.  If the birth of the Church had been known in advance to Satan, he would have come up with some sort of plan, devised some kind of scheme, and done everything in his power to stop that from happening.  Does it not then seem logical that if it were possible to know the timing of the rapture that Satan would do the very same thing if he could?  That is not to say that Satan doesn’t understand prophecy for he has had two thousand years to study it and probably knows it much better than we do, but by not revealing the timing of the rapture God forces him to be defensive in his planning rather than offensive.

There are some today who believe that it is possible to know or somehow deduce when the rapture will occur.  Many have actually revealed dates they believed the Church would be taken, only to be disappointed when those dates came and went.  Can we “know” the time of the rapture?  Although some might disagree, I would say that according to the definition of know, “to apprehend clearly and with certainty”, no one knows when this will occur.  Yet that does not mean that the signs we are seeing are not meant to alert us to its imminent fulfillment.  Jesus made it clear that we are to be watching, and that if we do we will know the time is quickly approaching when we will hear the trumpet blow and Jesus will call out to His Church to meet Him in the air.

On that subject, I thought I would leave you with an interesting take on the rapture from Jack Kelley, a wonderful Bible teacher I have come to know and respect for his deep understanding of God’s Word.

To underscore the Church’s uniqueness, its departure will have to be even more dramatic, even more cloaked in mystery than its arrival was. Soon and very soon, on a day that no one could have predicted in advance, believers will hear a loud command, “Come up here!” (Rev. 4:1), accompanied by the trumpet of God. Immediately the spirits of dead believers will receive new resurrection bodies and the living will be transformed from mortal to immortal. Together we will meet the Lord “in the air” having disappeared from Earth in the twinkling of an eye (1 Thes. 4:16-17, 1 Cor. 15:51-53) and then we’ll proceed to His Father’s house (John 14:2-3).

This has always intrigued me. The Greek word for air refers to that space between Heaven and Earth called its atmosphere. So we’re not immediately going to Heaven, nor is the Lord coming all the way to Earth, as He will in the 2nd Coming. Instead the meeting will take place in the atmosphere.

The atmosphere was created on the 2nd day when God made an expanse to separate the water under it (the sea) from the water above it (the water vapor canopy that surrounded the Earth until the flood.) He called it the sky or firmament (Genesis 1:8). Unlike all other creation days, the 2nd day was not pronounced good. Some scholars speculate this is because demonic spirits immediately inhabited it. This may be why Paul also referred to Satan as the ruler of the kingdom of the air (Ephesians 2:2).

If this is the case, then it means the Lord is going to shock Satan again, this time by suddenly assembling the raptured Church in his front yard without any warning. Each list of sins that Satan saw nailed to the cross 2000 years ago will be represented by one deliriously happy redeemed believer in a final grand display of victory before we fly off to our mansions in the sky. Talk about a dramatic ending for the Age of the Church. What a day that will be. Now do you see why its exact timing has to be kept secret?  We wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise.  

Have you ever made the decision to accept the salvation God has offered to you by the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ?  Romans 10:9 states that there are two conditions necessary for salvation. 1) confess with your mouth and 2) believe in your heart. Verse 10 continues, “It is with your heart that you believe and are justified and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” Romans 10:13 says that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.  If you have never done this I urge you to do it right now, and not be taken by surprise when the Church is called home to spend eternity with God our Father.

Keep watching.