Magazine April 2015


Emphasis: Are You A Sellout? -Paul Alberts
Worship: Low In The Grave -Robert Lowry
Feature: Right Motives, Wrong Motives -Hank Blok
Feature: Walking As A Disciple -Colin Salter
Feature: Discipleship For Today -Alfred Bouter
Issues: The Rapture -Martin Girard
Uplook: All That Is For God Results From Death -Grant Steidl
Discover: Discover Questions -Alan Groth
Series: Divine Titles And Their Significance -A. J. Pollock
Overview: Ezra -Leslie M. Grant
YouAsked: Where do people go when they die? -Alan H. Crosby
YouAsked: Is it right to pray for demons to die? -Eugene P. Vedder, Jr.
Response: Responses
GoodNews: She Was Willing To Die Six Times
Full Magazine PDF: Magazine PDF

She Was Willing To Die Six Times

A well-known evangelist used to tell the following story:

Some time ago I went to visit a little seven-year-old girl, named Mary, who was quite ill. She wanted to see me urgently, so I went to her house. They took me to her room and I sat beside her bed.

“So, here I am. Tell me, little one, why did you want to see me?” I asked.

“I wanted to speak to you before I die.”

“But,” I asked in surprise, “What did you say? That you are going to die?”

“Yes, I am going to die.”

“You don’t want to be treated and recover your health?”

“No, sir,” young Mary affirmed.

“But … why not?”

“Because since I have become a Christian,” the child answered with great calm, “many times I have tried to take my daddy to church, but he doesn’t want to go. I think that if I die, you would preach the gospel at my funeral. Isn’t that right?”

“Yes, little one.”

“Well, I think that if I die my daddy would have to go to the funeral. I would be willing to die six times over in order for him to hear the gospel.”

Not long after our conversation the little girl died. But just when she was to be buried I was quite seriously ill and it was impossible for me to attend her funeral.

Some time later a gentleman approached me and asked, “Do you know who I am?”

“I’m sorry, sir. I don’t know you.”

“I am the father of little Mary – the daddy she died for. I heard that she was willing to die six times over in order for me to hear the gospel even once. This has touched me very deeply and now I want to know the way of salvation.”

Soon after that the gentleman received the Lord Jesus Christ as his personal Savior.

“‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach); that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame’ … For the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’” (Romans 10:8-13 NKJV).

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31).

How about you, dear reader? You see that it is as simple as the faith of a little child. Why not join that sweet little one and her repentant father, and receive the Savior and eternal life yourself?

This is available from us as a tract – but in Spanish only. Ask for Spanish tract #101.


• The Grace & Truth Magazine is one of my most favorite and important learning tools of God’s Word. I love the Discovery column, in the format of one actually opening your Bible, studying and researching the facts and answers. I keep every issue for further studies at later dates. – USA

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The “What Is A Shepherd” Series is now available from Grace & Truth, Inc. in booklet form.

Is it right to pray for demons to die?

QUESTION:Is it correct to pray this prayer which our pastors in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa urge us to pray: “All demonic beings both physical and spiritual should die”? Also, can someone be a “demon destroyer” as some of our pastors claim to be?

Answered by Eugene P. Vedder, Jr. Grace & Truth Magazine (adapted).

Demons are fallen angels. They followed Lucifer, who is now called Satan (meaning “the adversary”), in his rebellion against God. The demons are spirit beings that have chosen to follow and serve Satan instead of continuing in the role for which God made them – “ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation” (Heb. 1:14 NKJV). Evidently, there are rankings among these mighty beings, for in Mark 9:29 after the disciples asked the Lord why they had not been able to cast out the demon that from childhood on had possessed a certain boy, He told them, “This kind can come out by nothing but prayer and fasting.” Also, Ephesians 6:12 tells us that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Angelic beings cannot be destroyed. God has prepared hell for the devil and his angels (Mt. 25:41). Hell, also called “the lake of fire,” is where Satan and his demons will be tormented forever and ever (Rev. 20:10). It is a place of eternal separation from God and in this sense is “everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power” (2 Th. 1:9). It is not annihilation or a ceasing to exist. Furthermore, it is God, not man, who will inflict this punishment upon Satan and his host of demons as well as upon all who have sided with him in rebellion against God and His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. It is foolish assumption for any person, whether preacher or otherwise, to claim to be a “demon destroyer.”

Such people have little comprehension of the power and rank of Satan and his principalities and powers. In Daniel 10 we see that demons have tremendous power and exercise evil influence on the affairs of the nations of this world. Jude tells us in verse 9 of his brief epistle that the archangel (chief angel) Michael did not dare to bring a reviling accusation against the devil, but simply said, “The Lord rebuke you.” He would probably class such self-styled “demon destroyers” among those who he says in the next verse, “speak evil of whatever they do not know.”

Nowhere in God’s Word are believers told to seek out demons to destroy them. Our Lord Jesus encountered many demon-possessed persons and cast out the demons. He did not destroy them. In the case presented to us in Matthew 8:28-34, Mark 5:1-20 and Luke 8:26-39 we find the demons pleading to be allowed to enter a herd of pigs and the Lord’s permitting of this. In their malevolence [evil, hostility] they made the pigs run violently down a steep place into the sea and drown. This caused the people of the area to beg the Lord to leave their region. The Lord gave His twelve disciples “power and authority over all demons” (Lk. 9:1), and the seventy He sent out in Luke 10:17-20 came back rejoicing that even the demons were subject to them in His name. The Acts records a number of instances of the early Christians casting out unclean spirits and healing those who had been possessed by them. However, nowhere do we find God’s people seeking out demon-possessed people to deal with the demons. Invariably we find that such people were brought to them or that they encountered such persons as they went about their activities for the Lord. In fact, in Acts 16:16-18 we find that Paul put up with the demon-possessed slave girl many days before commanding the demon to come out of her.

But casting out demons is not destroying them. Rather than being physical beings, demons are spirit beings and as such they do not die. It is thus pointless to pray that “all demonic beings both physical and spiritual should die.” Instead, we are told to “submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (Jas. 4:7). Satan will attack, whether violently as a roaring lion (1 Pet. 5:8), or through temptation as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14-15). He had the audacity [arrogance] to attack the Lord Jesus in this latter way, seeking to seduce Him from His pathway of perfect obedience to the will of God.

The Lord still enables His own to cast out demons, but this can only be done in utter dependence upon Him. Boastful self-dependence is entirely out of place in combat against such powerful foes. Thank God, however, they are defeated foes. Our Lord Jesus defeated Satan and all his power at Calvary. The hosts of evil can be overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of the testimony of those who love Him (Rev. 12:11). It is a mistake to seek out the hosts of evil to challenge them, but when we walk with the Lord we can count upon His help against all the onslaughts of the enemy. God’s Word tells us: “I want you to be wise in what is good and simple concerning evil. And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly” (Rom. 16:19-20). Occupation with our Lord Jesus and dependence upon Him will give us present strength, and the future is sure. First John 4:4 assures us that the One indwelling us is greater than the one in the world. Ephesians 6:10-18 presents to us the whole armor of God. We are to put on this armor so that we may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

More could be said on this subject, but let it suffice to say it is much better to follow God’s instructions and directions given us in the Holy Scriptures than to try to fight Satan’s demons in our own strength or according to the erroneous teachings of men, whoever they may be or claim to be.

Where do people go when they die?

Answered by Alan H. Crosby

Some translations of the Bible seem to say that when Christ died He went to “hell.” Better translations use the word “hades,” which is simply the region of departed spirits. But we then ask, “What about us when we die?” 

What Happens At Death 
Death occurs when the soul-spirit leaves the body: “The body without the spirit is dead” (Jas. 2:26 NIV). The body is subject to all the physical, chemical and biological changes common to ordinary matter. We say it “decays” or “burns up.” The Bible simply says, “dust you are and to dust you will return” (Gen. 3:19).

For centuries humans have wondered about the soul-spirit when asking about a dead person: “Where is he?” (Job 20:7). The body goes into the grave, but where does the soul-spirit go? That of the people of faith of the Old and New Testaments goes to one place while that of unbelievers goes to another, as we will shortly see.

Everybody will be resurrected but not at the same time. There are those who “will rise to live” and there are those who will “rise to be condemned” (Jn. 5:28-29). The separation of the soul-spirit from the body is an unnatural state that came about as a result of Satan’s work. God will not allow that condition to continue indefinitely.

The Consequence Of Death For The Unbeliever 
Where do the soul-spirits of unbelievers go at death? This question is answered by our Lord’s account of what happened to the rich man and to Lazarus. The rich man, apparently an unbeliever, died and went to “hades, where he was in torment” (Lk. 16:22-23). According to Vine’s Dictionary Of Old And New Testament Words, “hades” is simply “the region of departed spirits” and “hell” is the region of torment, also called geena or gehennaGehenna was also a place outside Jerusalem where there was always a fire and hence was a picture of the eternal fire of torment. The unbelievers, those in “hell,” are spiritually dead and their names are not in the Book of Life. They will receive their sentence at the great white throne – being sentenced to an eternal existence of suffering in the “lake of fire” (Rev. 20:11-15). At the end of time, “death and hades” will be thrown into the lake of fire. There is the place in hades where the soul-spirit of the unbeliever suffers before he is resurrected “to be condemned,” followed then by the lake of fire where he will suffer after the resurrection and judgment.

The Consequence Of Death For The Believer 
The crucified thief who repented of his sins (Lk. 23:40-43) died and went to “paradise,” the same place where the Lord went when He died! Paradise is a Persian word referring to a royal park, and then it was taken into the Greek to express the sum total of blessedness. In Revelation 2:7 it refers to heaven. Apparently paradise is the Bible word for the same place that the Jews called “Abraham’s side” (bosom, KJV) and which Paul speaks of as the place that believers go to when they are “away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8)

Believers, both living and dead, will be raptured and given new bodies to live with the Lord forever (1 Th. 4:16-17; 1 Cor. 15:52-54). The believer in the Lord Jesus Christ will never face judgment for any sin because all our sin and sins were paid for by Christ on the cross. Therefore the believer need not fear “God’s judgment seat” (Rom. 14:10) or the “judgment seat of Christ” (2 Cor. 5:10). What will be judged then is the “quality” of our works of service to determine our “reward” (1 Cor. 3:13-14).

Practical Application 
In preaching the gospel one should emphasize that between hell and paradise “a great chasm has been fixed that cannot be crossed” (Lk. 16:26). It should also be emphasized that there will be no “second chance” – that our decision in this present life determines where we will spend eternity and what we do will determine what we will have there.

The truth is that the unbeliever will be in an eternal existence, first in a place of torment and then in the lake of fire. The believer on the other hand will go on to his or her reward. That no believer goes to eternal punishment is due to the grace of God and the redemptive work of our Lord Jesus Christ. All people should therefore start believing now!


“For we were slaves. Yet our God did not forsake us in our bondage; but He extended mercy to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to revive us, to repair the house of our God, to rebuild its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem.” ——Ezra  9:9 NKJV

By Leslie M. Grant

Ezra, meaning “help,” is written by a scribe of this name and is an account of a restoring work of God in bringing back some of the Jews to Jerusalem. The first group came with Zerubbabel (Ezra 2:2) with the object [intention] of rebuilding the temple. This was at the commandment of Cyrus, king of Persia, for the Medes and Persians had by this time conquered the Babylonian Empire. Cyrus decreed that the vessels of the temple (previously carried away by Nebuchadnezzar) should be restored to the about-to-be rebuilt temple. There were hindrances in the building, but God, using the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, eventually enabled the completion of this as Ezra 6:15 shows.

Another group of Jews returned later with Ezra during the reign of Artaxerxes. Ezra was a priest of the line of Aaron. He was sent to give help in the service of the rebuilt temple and to establish magistrates and judges who knew the law of God and were therefore able to rule in the land.

This is a necessary book for our own days when those who desire a return to the true worship of God according to Scripture can expect opposition. Their faith, however, will be rewarded if they are steadfast and stand firmly for the true principles of God.

Divine Titles and Their Significance

Part Six 

By A. J. Pollack

Divine Titles In The New TestamentWhen we come to the New Testament we breathe an atmosphere different from that of the Old Testament. Then it was a time of shadows, when the wonderful prophecies of the coming Christ were heard. Now we have the light of God fully revealed in our Lord Jesus Christ. We know of His actual entrance into this world, of His wondrous testimony to and revelation of God, of His wonderful life, of His atoning death and resurrection and glorification. How glorious that He who came into this world has brought the light of the love of God to sinful man – “love” which a writer describes as “infinite in measure, everlasting in duration, omnipotent in power, unchanging in character, all pervading in its presence, and passing knowledge.”

Unlike the Old Testament where there are several names of God in His essential Being, the New Testament has only one name, the translation of the Greek word Theos. The various names of God in the New Testament designate relative position, such as the Father in relation to the Son. God is:

  • a Spirit (Jn. 4:24),
  • the living God (1 Tim. 3:15), 
  • the true God (1 Th. 1:9),
  • able (2 Cor. 9:8),
  • faithful (1 Cor. 1:9),
  • the God of hope, peace, all comfort, patience and consolation (Rom. 15:13; Heb. 13:20; 2 Cor. 1:3; Rom. 15:5; 2 Th. 2:16), and
  • love (1 Jn. 4:16).

“To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever” (Jude 25).

This name of God (Theos) occurs over 1,200 times in the New Testament. Eight times it is employed to designate the gods of the heathen world or distinguished people. For example, John 10:34 speaks of “gods,” quoting from Psalm 82:6-7 where God is seen among the mighty, but telling them they would die like men, for they were but men. Otherwise, God (Theos) is invariably translated God. 

God is presented in two ways: (1) acting in grace, “the acceptable year of the LORD” (Isa. 61:2) or (2) acting in government, “the day of vengeance of our God” (Isa. 61:2). Note the acceptable year of the Lord, the long stretched-out days of gracious waiting on man for his blessing, is compared with “the day of vengeance of our God,” the short hours in which judgment will be rendered to every man. “The acceptable year of the LORD” has already lasted 2,000 years and still God lingers in grace over a godless world. But the day of judgment must come, and signs are telling us that day is not far off. “The LORD is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy” (Ps. 145:8).

This is a most unspeakable name of God. In a most unique way it stands in relation to the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. This is a relationship He shares with none. There ever was the Father and the Son, the “only begotten” [Greek: monogenes] Son of God (Jn. 3:16). One has said, “Life – the Father from all eternity gives it; the Son from all eternity receives it.” And, there ever was the Holy Spirit. The three share their Godhead glory with none other.

But how wonderful that believers on the Lord Jesus Christ are children of God and can call Him Father. What joy must have filled the heart of the blessed Lord when risen and triumphant He sent the message by Mary Magdalene to His disciples saying, “Go to My brethren and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God’” (Jn. 20:17).

What a glorious message! We believers are seen in a relationship with God as Father in association with our blessed Lord. Divine life has been communicated to us, made possible by the atoning work of our Lord on the cross. We read: “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him” (1 Jn. 4:9).

We have been made partakers of the divine nature, but not as being lifted to the level of deity for that could never be. We are not omnipotent, omniscient or omnipresent [all-powerful, all-knowing or everywhere present]. Yet we share the moral qualities of the divine life, such as love, purity, compassion, holiness and righteousness; all while we possess a nature that can commune with God.

Note from John 20:17 that our Lord, in sending this marvelous message to His brethren is careful to indicate, by the very phrasing of the message, His preeminence which we all gladly recognize. He did not say “our Father,” but He carefully distinguished between “My” and “your.” He is not ashamed to call us brethren, but remembering who He is and what He has done for our eternal blessing it would be quite out of place to call Him “our elder Brother.” Let us keep to the phrasing of Scripture and exercise that deep reverence that becomes us, while rejoicing in the wondrous relationship we are called to enjoy. How wondrous that God sent His Holy Spirit into our hearts that we might with the confidence of children cry, “Abba Father” (Gal. 4:6). [Abba is a word in Aramaic for father used by infants and might be reverently translated “Daddy.”]

We read: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs – heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:16-17).

Related thoughts shared by Walter Scott 
(adapted from The Bible Handbook)
The divine revelation to the Patriarchs was as “God Almighty,” to Israel as “Jehovah,” while to Christians it is “Father”– the distinguishing New Testament title. The name occurs by itself or in conjunction with other titles about 300 times in the New Testament Scriptures. It is worthy of notice that Jesus only once directly addressed “God” as such (Mt. 27:46); He often spoke of God, but with that one exception, He always directly addressed the “Father.” Of the many divine names and titles there is none more full of comfort or more touching to the heart than that of “Father.” To the Christian it is the expression of that peculiar relationship and measure of blessed nearness, which every believer occupies, founded on accomplished redemption. A Jew, however godly, could not directly address Jehovah as his “Father.” “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him” (Ps. 103:13)
“Father” is the language of the babe in Christ (1 Jn. 2:13), the cry of the Spirit in the believer (Rom. 8:15) and a name which speaks of a love and relationship only known and enjoyed by the practically [how he behaves] separated saint (1 Jn. 2:15-16). In those loved chapters of John 13-17, containing the dying instructions of Christ and in which His mind is given us for comfort and profit during the whole period of this present interval of grace, the name “Father” with its pronouns occurs upwards of 100 times.

The prayer of glory is addressed to the God of Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:17-23); while the prayer of love to the Father of Jesus Christ (Eph. 3:14-21). “Our Father” is not the language of Jesus and His disciples as some have supposed, but of the latter only. “My Father” was solely spoken by Jesus. “My Father” and “Your Father” (Jn. 20:17), while maintaining the special blessedness of the believer, distinctly marks off the pre-eminent place of Jesus.

All disciplinary dealing (Heb. 12:9-10), conduct and life (1 Pet. 1:14-17), fellowship (1 Jn. 1) and restoration of soul (1 Jn. 2:1) are referred to the “Father.” It is also the Father’s care (Lk. 12:30), love (Jn. 16:27), grace (Mt. 5:45-48), goodness (Mt. 7:11), words (Jn. 17:8) and testimony (Jn. 17:14) that forms, stays and comforts the soul of the saint in his daily life.
But while “Father” is the name which, perhaps above all others, stirs the feelings and awakens the tenderest emotions of the heart, it must be kept in mind that the name was only fully declared after redemption had been accomplished, after the wrath of God had spent itself on Jesus on the cross.

All That Is For God Results From Death

“Except the grain of wheat falling into the ground die, it abides alone; but if it die, it bears much fruit.” —John 12:24 KJV

By Grant Steidl

At first glance these words of our Lord seem to be a strange answer to give to people who simply wanted to see Him. What did He mean by them? As He continued speaking an amazing message began to emerge – one that has rung down the ages with an unchanging tone. It is this: All that is for God results from death.

The Lord Himself was that grain of wheat who fell into the ground and died so He might not abide alone. His finished work at Calvary’s cross has already produced an abundant eternal harvest. Even now He is bringing many sons to glory who will be eternally conformed to His image – just as the grains of wheat on a stalk resemble the seed that died to produce them.

But more, these grains of wheat which result from the death of Christ must likewise fall into the ground and die if they are to bear fruit for God. Having learned that Christ died for them, they must further learn that they have died with Him – and are risen with Him to walk in newness of life. Then they will begin to experience what it means to keep their lives by hating them (v.25). Perhaps a little story will help.

Many years ago a party of British sailors landed on a frozen northerly island and accidentally set it on fire. Its stunted scrub brush quickly went up in flames. It seemed a shame that the island should lose what little vegetation it had. But that isn’t the end of the story. Years later the island was found to be covered with beautiful silver birches. Their seeds had sprouted through the warmth of the fire. The death of the old made possible the growth and display of the new.

So when we allow our scrubby natural life to go up in smoke, fruit springing out of death shall be seen in our lives. What a worthwhile exchange!

The Rapture

By Martin Girard, used by permission from – adapted.

Suppose an interviewer raised that question with a hundred truly born-again believers selected at random. It is likely that three different responses would emerge. There will be those who reply, “What rapture? I don’t know what you are talking about. I’ve never heard it mentioned in my church.” Others may say, “The rapture? Oh, you’re not one of those odd people who believe that, are you?” Then there will be those who respond, “Yes I’m looking forward to it, and many signs make me feel it can’t be very far off.”

What is meant when people speak of “the rapture” and why can it be such a contentious subject? In this article we are going to see what the expression means and attempt to discover why such differing responses may be heard when a question like the one above is raised.

First, it must be stated that the expression “the rapture” is not found in the Bible – though its meaning is certainly there. It is an expression that is closely connected with the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17 Paul writes of those who are “alive and remain” being “caught up together with them [that is, the believing dead who have been raised] in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air” (KJV). Notice the expression “caught up together” which Paul uses in this verse. Without being too technical, the Greek word used by Paul was translated into Latin and then into the English language as “rapture.” It means the sudden snatching away of believers from an evil world to meet the Lord in the air.

A Promise Given 
To any careful reader of the New Testament it will be obvious that before the Lord Jesus Christ left the earth He promised to return. In John 14:3 He spoke of going from His disciples to prepare a place for them and of coming again to receive them unto Himself. No date was specified in the promise – simply that He would “come again” for them. The following words “that where I am, there ye may be also” make it clear that the Lord Jesus was not speaking of reappearing to the disciples after His resurrection. The promise is clearly connected with the “Father’s house” (v.2) and concerns bringing His disciples there.

Not long after making the promise, the Lord Jesus ascended to heaven before the wondering gaze of His disciples. As He disappeared from view an angel appeared with the message, “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). He would return! A clear promise remained in the minds of those first disciples.

From the beginning of the church age (Pentecost) the coming again of the Lord Jesus Christ has been an important doctrine and a vital hope. The apostle Paul, having spent a short time in Thessalonica preaching the gospel and establishing a church there, made known to the new believers that their Savior would return “from heaven” (1 Th. 1:10). The closing words of the Bible also confirm the promise made by the Lord that He will come again, to which His people respond, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Rev. 22:20).

Why then does the question raised at the beginning of this article produce such different responses from born-again believers? It is not too difficult to draw a conclusion. In some churches the return of the Lord Jesus is rarely mentioned and certainly never taught in detail. Others know and believe that the Lord will come again but they have a different understanding of how it will all take place. 

In Two Parts 
One thing that many overlook is that there are two different aspects to the second coming of Christ. This was true of His first coming too. Prophecies in the Old Testament anticipated the Messiah’s “coming” to Bethlehem and also to Jerusalem. How could both be true? With hindsight we can understand perfectly that His birth was in Bethlehem and was very much a “private” affair witnessed by very few, while His entry into Jerusalem on a colt years later was a very “public” event before an enthusiastic crowd.

In His second coming something parallel can be traced. The New Testament speaks of the return of Christ being unexpected (which is why the Lord taught the need to watch) and yet “every eye shall see Him” (Rev. 1:7) – without any mention of having to watch. How can such apparent contradictions be explained? Put simply, there will be two parts to the return of Christ. First He will come to the air, and then He will come to earth. His coming in the air will be “in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor. 15:52) while His coming to earth will be in a display of power and great glory (Mt. 24:30). Clearly this cannot all take place at the same moment. The only way to harmonize these and many other Scriptures is to realize that the Lord will come in the air for His own and then will return from heaven with His own. Both things cannot take place at exactly the same moment.

The Rapture Scripture 
The main passage of Scripture dealing with the rapture is 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. To comfort these recent converts who were distressed because of the death of believing loved-ones, Paul pointed them to the coming of the Lord: “The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (vv.16-17). 

At the moment Christ comes, the church age will end. The events described here will take place in a split second, as we learn from 1 Corinthians 15:51-52. In this passage we are told that not all shall “sleep” (physically die), but all believers shall “be changed” instantaneously. It is important to notice that this was “a mystery” – something that had not been revealed before in Scripture (1 Cor. 15:51). We must therefore not expect to read about this in the Old Testament, although there were two men of God who fulfilled this in figure: Enoch and Elijah. These two men were both taken up into the Lord’s presence without experiencing death (Gen. 5:24; 2 Ki. 2:11). 

This event, the rapture, could happen at any moment. Certain conditions do not need to be fulfilled first. The Lord Jesus made it clear that it is vital to be ready because we do not know when He will return (Mk. 13:35-37).

Why The Disagreement 
Perhaps at this point we should ask why some Christians pour scorn upon the idea of the rapture. Do they not believe in the personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ? Yes, they do believe; but they lump everything together. Some picture the Lord coming from heaven into the air, catching up His redeemed people and then returning at once with them to the earth. Of course, this could be concluded from Scripture, but it fails to bring one significant matter into consideration: Israel.

God has not finished with that nation. Although He is not dealing directly with them at this particular time, many Old Testament prophecies await fulfillment. In Daniel 9:24-27 we read of a very specific period of seventy “sevens” relating to Israel. The last of those “sevens” has not yet been fulfilled – an extremely significant seven-year period time that is mentioned elsewhere in Scripture. Piecing it all together we can see that a time of terrible suffering awaits that nation, but it will be curtailed by the return of their Messiah whom they shall see (Zech. 12:9-10) when “His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives” (Zech. 14:4). There is no good reason to “spiritualize” such verses and deprive them of their literal meaning.

The church age is a period of time when God is calling from this world a heavenly people described as “the bride of Christ.” Failing to distinguish between this heavenly people and the earthly people of Israel leads to confusion. When the Church is complete and all who are going to make up the number of the redeemed have been gathered in, the Lord Jesus will come to receive His people whom He will take to their heavenly home. Believers will then stand before the judgment seat of Christ, that their lives of service may be evaluated before sharing the joy of the marriage supper of the Lamb (2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 19:6-9). 

Many today simply fail to discern these differences because their theological training has taught them to think in a certain way. The views of Augustine of Hippo prevail in many institutions of learning and consequently a literal interpretation of prophecy is rejected. Knowing only too well that people with strange ideas exist, these theologians reject whatever appears to contradict with Augustine, making the assumption that he interpreted every aspect of Scripture correctly. This accounts for the scorn that is often poured upon those who teach “the rapture” and distinguish between the Lord’s coming in the air and His coming to earth. Believers who sit under the teaching of men trained in theological college therefore usually hear nothing about the rapture.

A Practical Truth 
Christ is coming again! His people are heaven-bound. The Lord Jesus may return at any time, and we must be ready. Events in the Middle East and in Europe point to the imminent fulfillment of prophecies; however that is another vast subject beyond the scope of this article. A discussion of the rapture should not become a heated debate, but neither should it be simply an academic exercise. Although “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15) is vital, the knowledge that Christ is coming at any moment should make us want to live holy lives. By doing so we will not be ashamed when He shall appear (1 Jn. 3:2-3).