Dr. C. S. Lovett’s
MARANATHA FAMILY NEWSLETTER
IS THE RAPTURE THE NEXT BIG EVENT?
With so many insisting the Lord could return at any moment, one might suppose the rapture is the next big event on God's calendar. With more and more Bible researchers insisting the Lord cannot return now, there is genuine confusion. Do I know when the Lord will return to take out His people? No, but I get a real witness to the words of the apostle Paul when he says, "that day cannot come until…" (2 Thess. 2:3).
But he’s not the only one saying "until." Note how the apostle Peter speaks to the Jews, "If you'll do that (repent), then God will send Jesus back to you, for He is your appointed Messiah. However, He must remain in heaven until the restoration of all things even as God announced through His prophets long ago" (Acts 3: 19-21).
This statement could make the apostle Peter unpopular at a prophecy conference today. He flatly declares the Lord cannot return until it is time for God to restore all things. How can that happen until it is time for Jesus to set up His kingdom? As for the apostle Paul's "until," he says two historical events must occur before the Lord can come:
1. A great falling away or apostasy must take place.
2. The man of sin must be revealed.
Neither of these has happened. Certainly the "man of sin" has yet to appear. Do we find a way around it, or do we believe it? If those two things must occur first, then certainly the rapture cannot occur beforehand. Why would Paul teach these things to the baby church at Thessalonica if they didn't apply to them? Surely it is better to assume Paul meant exactly what he said and that the church will be here when these things happen.
Also Jesus’ words: "In those days after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon will not give its light...and then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send forth the angels and gather His elect from the four winds (4 compass points) from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven" (Mark 13:24-27).
From those verses, it is clear the Lord is not going to gather His elect until specific signs appear in the sky. When you weigh what Peter and Paul and the Lord said, it seems obvious the Lord cannot return at any moment.
WE AGREE ON THE FACT OF A RAPTURE, DON'T WE?
I was raised in the "any moment" tradition, mastering dispensational truth before I learned much else. People coaching me believed the church would escape all seven years of the tribulation and naturally instructed me that way. I was thrilled with the view and easily understand why it is so popular. But in the process of writing my commentaries on I & II Thessalonians,* I could not reconcile that position with clear statements made by Peter, Paul, and the Lord Jesus. So I did what you or any honest Bible student would do—let my earlier training bow to the authority of God's Word.
In 1 Thess. 4:14-17, it says we will meet Jesus in the air before He returns to earth. Not only that, the Word teaches that when the Lord returns, it will be "with all His saints" (1 Thess. 3:13). For that to happen, there has to be a rapture prior to His touchdown on Mt. Olivet. It's just the timing that is not definite, and I'm willing to share my view on that.
NOW, WHAT DOES THIS TELL US?
Many Bible scholars agree the revelation of antichrist occurs in the middle of the tribulation. See what that means—the church is still on earth at that time. Yet, I agree with those who say the church will not experience the wrath of God. Why? The Lord Jesus has already borne God's wrath for us on the cross. The justice of God demands that we not be here when His wrath is poured out on an unbelieving world.
So what do we conclude? The tribulation and the wrath of God are two separate things! While we may suffer the tribulation, which is clearly the wrath of Satan, we will not suffer God's wrath, which is heaven sent.
The story of Noah and the flood pictures my view perfectly. The patriarch was allowed to suffer the ridicule and harassment of men for 120 years. He was left on earth to experience this tribulation right up until the moment when God was ready to pour out His wrath. Only then did God seal him in the ark and lift him above the earthly scene. When the judgment had passed, Noah was settled on the mountain.
When God is ready to pour out His wrath, we will be taken up to meet the Lord in the air. In that instant, we become part of the "armies" following Him in the sky (Rev. 19:14). We will be with Him as He takes vengeance upon the unbelieving world and its ruler, the antichrist (2 Thess. 1:7,8). When it is over, and I don't know how long it will take, He'll continue His descent to Mt. Olivet.
To me, this is a very simple approach, one which answers most objections. For me, the Scriptures fall in place without any special interpretations of various passages when this approach is taken. I trust it will be helpful to you as well.
THE CLIMAX OF THIS AGE
Suffering is normal for God's people. "In the world," said Jesus, "you shall have tribulation" (John 16:33). Paul made it clear that we would "suffer for His sake" (Phil. 1:29). The early church believed and taught that suffering was normal and expected no relief until the Lord was revealed from heaven (2 Thess. 1:6-10). Check that passage and see if it doesn't say that to you.
We live in an age of tribulation which will not reach its climax until the antichrist is revealed and sets out to destroy the church. Then we'll see Christians afflicted as never before, but it will not be the wrath of God. Again it will be Satan's wrath displayed in man's inhumanity to man. It will start off gradually, intensifying somewhat like this:
1. Christianity will generally become despised (happening now in many areas).
2. Professing Christians will desert the ranks in droves.
3. The church will return to meeting in homes as in the 1st Century.
4. Christianity will be outlawed with believers forced to go underground.
5. The Scriptures will be forbidden.
LET’S BE READY
You don't have to be a prophet to see what is coming. All it takes is an honest look at God's Word. The tribulation is simply the climax of an age which began with the persecution of the Lord and won't end until He returns to put an end to it in person. Believing we won't go through it, doesn’t change anything.
I am called to prepare Christians for what's ahead, even as the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: "But mark this: there will be terrible times in the last days" (2 Tim. 3:1). There must be clear teaching on what to expect so there won't be any faith-shattering surprises. Remember, Jesus did this with His disciples (John 14:29). I'm asking you to prepare yourself and familiarize yourself with what's coming.
THE PREPARED LIFE book can help you work on getting you and your family ready. Beyond that, it will help you to be knowledgeable and eager to put Christ first in everything. Let these truths sink into your spirit and you'll be ready for the rapture . . .
WHENEVER IT COMES!
C. S. Lovett
EDITED BY MARJORIE LOVETT
Copyright © 2019 Personal Christianity. All rights reserved.
*Please note: Dr. Lovett’s book Lovett’s Lights on Galatians through 2nd Thessalonians
is currently out of print.
SINCE YOU ASKED!!
Question: “The Bible insists that every man is to die once. How can this be true of those who are alive at Jesus’ coming? Seemingly, they escape death. What’s the case with the souls caught up to meet Jesus?”
Answer: Enoch and Elijah were taken into heaven without dying, but you can be sure their bodies were gone in a flash. Physical bodies can’t go into heaven, for it is a spiritual abode and the perishable cannot inherit the imperishable. At some point, their bodies must be changed to survive the rarefied high cloud level. The apostle Paul calls this a mystery. “We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet” (1 Cor. 15:51).
That’s fast! Measured in milliseconds, no doubt. Likely we won’t feel the change from mortality to immortality. But when we see all the others moving about us, the change will be obvious when no one is falling out of the sky. Death is not a big factor here. It is the change in our bodies. Paul asserts, “We shall not all sleep.” This should settle the dilemma.
SPIRITUAL WALK: “Thank you for your timeless writings and helpful teachings. Your ministry has been a blessing to me, although you wrote many of your books before I was born. Every time I read anything from you, it empowers me greatly in my spiritual walk.” (D.L.-IN)
KNOW-HOW HELP: “I read your book, DEALING WITH THE DEVIL, and want to thank you for helping me understand HOW to resist him and his evil tricks. I’m a prisoner, but a Christian and I want to be ready on the last days. Every Christian home needs to have a copy of this book. Thank you for it brother.” (M.R.-TX)
HOW-TO SOURCE: “I have nearly all of your books in my library and have read all of them more than once. In my opinion, your books are the greatest source of ‘how-to’ information on practical Christianity I have ever come in contact with. I thank God for putting me in touch with your ministry.” (G.S.-TN)
Are you prepared? THE PREPARED LIFE book is a valuable resource for you and your family that can help you be prepared to deal with today's problems and end-times events. This book is available on Amazon.com and sells for $13.99 and is also available in Kindle form for $9.99. Click HERE to order. Dr. Lovett’s best-selling book DEALING WITH THE DEVIL has been updated and revised for today’s readers. It is available on Amazon.com and sells for $14.99. You may click HERE to order.
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