BILLY GRAHAM: What Does God Have in Store for the Grand Finale?

Four Horses of the Apocalypse (YouTube)

Note: This article appeared in the April 1984 issue of Charisma. It’s just as pertinent today as it was when it ran more than 31 years ago.

There is definitely a “mystery of iniquity” attached to the four horses in chapter six of Revela­tion. We may not fully under­stand everything that will hap­pen when they come upon the earth.

But, Revelation does not end with chapter 6! For John points us in chapter 19 to another horse and rider—One who rides to bring the kingdom of God in all its fullness to earth. Like the first horse in chapter 6, this horse is white. But there the resemblance ends, for the rider of this horse is Jesus Christ Himself, coming in glory and power to the earth.

Let us see what the aged apostle is try­ing to tell us in the account of the rider on the white horse in Revelation 19. Chapters 7 to 18 deal with the catastrophic saga of history, perhaps just ahead, about which Jesus insisted we are to make no mistake, when “there will be great distress, unequaled from the begin­ning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened” (Matthew 24:21, 22). It will be a time of nuclear conflagrations, biological holocausts and chemical apocalypses rolling over the earth, bring­ing man to the edge of the precipice. History will “bottom out” in the battle of Armageddon. We already see its shadow creeping over the earth.

Will man exterminate himself? He almost will, as Jesus stated. But just before man does so, Christ will come back! The demonized leaders “of the whole world” will have mobilized both as antagonists and protagonists of that coming world anti-God system—probably headed by the Antichrist. They’ll be “gathered,” we’re told, “together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon” (Revelation 16:16).

Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke of “the war to end all wars,” and now Ellen Goodman, the columnist, speaks of a possible ominous war ahead, “to end all life.” It won’t happen. God has other plans for the human race! Life is not going to be brought to a catastrophic end. God’s intervention will see to that.

Everywhere I go, people ask, “Are you an optimist or a pessimist?” My reply is that I’m an unswerving optimist. In the words of Robert Browning, “The best is yet to be.” I believe that, too.

It is estimated that forty wars are going on somewhere in the world at any given time. Any one of them could be the beginning of “the beginning of the end!”

So we have to ask: Can paradise be restored? Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

 
As the late Sir Winston Churchill asked a young American clergyman thirty years ago, “Young man, can you give me any hope?”

For the answer to Churchill’s question, I take you into the future by going back to the Bible.

In Revelation 19:10-13 the ancient apostle writes, “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blaz­ing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one but he himself knows. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.

So the four horses of the Apocalypse of Revelation 6 have gone on before. Other judgments have fallen. Now God is about to make His final move. 

The identity of the rider on the white horse in Revelation 19 is the Lord Jesus Christ, Israel’s Messiah, head of the church, the King of kings and Lord of lords. The white horse of deception in Revelation 6 darkens into a dirty gray in comparison to the impeccable, immaculate white horse here in Revelation 19. Whereas the red horse in Revelation 6 inflicts war to kill and defoliate, this white horse, with the mounted “King of kings” draped in a robe dipped in blood, declares war on the killers—to establish His kingdom of salvation and peace. Whereas the black horse of Revelation 6 carries famine and disease, the white horse of Revelation 19 brings healing and the Bread of Life. And whereas the pale horse of Revelation 6 brings death and hell, the white horse of chapter 19 brings life and heaven to all who place their faith in Him.

When will the Man on the white horse, as outlined in Revelation 19, appear?

The clear teaching of the Word of God is that He will come when man has sunk to his lowest and most perilous point in all history—the time when the four horses of the Apocalypse, with their mounted riders, have run their course and pushed man to the very edge of the precipice. There is an eerie feeling throughout society today that concurs with the late Dr. Albert Schweitzer, who lamented, “Man has lost the capacity to foresee and to forestall. He will end by destroying the earth.” Left to himself, that is precisely what man would do. Barbra Streisand put her finger on the problem; she is reported in Esquire as having said, “I do believe the world is coming to an end. I just feel that science, technology and the mind have surpassed the soul—the heart. There is no balance in terms of feeling and love for fellow man.”

Who is better qualified to make a state­ment on this theme than the dean of behaviorists, Harvard’s B.F. Skinner?

At 78, Skinner shocked the American Psychological Association Convention (1982) by asking in understandable anger and anguish, “Why are we not acting to save the world? Is there to be much more history at all?” Asked afterward, “Has the observer of social conditioning lost his optimism?” his reply was, “I have … When I wrote Beyond Freedom and Dignity, I was optimistic about the future. A decade ago there was hope, but today the world is fatally ill … It is a very depressing way to end one’s life … The argument that we have always solved our problems in the past and shall, therefore, solve this one is like reassuring a dying man by pointing out that he has always recovered from his illness” (Philadelphia Inquirer, September 25, 1982).

Of War and Peace

In his article on “Psychology and Armageddon” in Psychology Today (May 1982), Harvard Professor of Psychiatry Dr. Robert Coles describes a prevailing feeling worldwide that mankind is heading for its final Armageddon.

The gamble that man will have taken will be the worst in all history.

The Antichrist or system will be a monstrous impostor, the incarnation of iniquity.

And all people the world over will think and say, “We’ve been had!” As I wrote earlier in this book, there is coming a time in the future—whether near or far I do not know (since Jesus warned us not to speculate on dates), when a counterfeit world system or ruler will establish a false utopia for an extremely short time.

The economic and political problems of the world will seem to be solved. But after a brief rule the whole thing will come apart. During this demonic reign tensions will mount, and once again the world will begin to explode with a feroc­ity involving conflict on an unparalleled scale.

Even the grip of the world leaders will be unable to prevent it. This massive upheaval will be the world’s last war—the battle of Armageddon.

According to secular and scientific writers, there is an inevitability to man’s date with Armageddon. “Everybody who’s anybody believes that global war is imminent,” reckons Phil Surguy of Today.

Arming for Armageddon

If I were not a believer in Christ, I might at this point in history succumb to total pessimism.

On August 10, 1982 Ellen Goodman wrote in her column that with “Armageddon perhaps around the corner, what are intelligent people to do? Wrap ourselves in mourning sheets and wait for the end?” Are we to stare up at that intimidating nuclear sword of Damocles that “has hung over us like some apocalypse without the promise of redemption?”

Emphatically not! Jesus urged that when universal holocaust begins “to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28). Rather than pulling mourning sheets around us, we are to look for redemption in Christ. We are also to work as if these events are far in the future. Jesus promised a blessing on those who would be found working when their Lord returns.

I will not here deal with the who, what, why, how or when of Armageddon. But I know from a vast number of Scriptures that Armageddon will be interrupted by the return of Jesus Christ on the white horse leading the armies of heaven, as clearly prophesied in many Bible passages. In no place is it more definitively or dramatically described than in Revelation 19.

When John foresaw “heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True,” he went on to describe the rider as “the Word of God” followed by the armies of heaven “riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.” Turning his focus back on the coming Messiah, John saw that “out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the na­tions. ‘He will rule them with an iron scepter’ ” (Revelation 19:11-15). And in case anyone gets confused as to His iden­tity or authority, John makes it un­mistakably plain, “On His robe and on His thigh He has this name written: King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16).

The Man on the White Horse

What does the man on the white horse do?

John makes clear that He and His army from heaven are faced with the An­tichrist and the military forces gathered together to make war not only against each other but against the armies of heaven. But the Antichrist is “captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous sign on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur” (Revelation 19:20). The Antichrist’s collaborators and colleagues are all conquered by Jesus Christ.

Adolf Hitler’s grandiose notion of Nazism was that he would “last a thou­sand years.” It didn’t happen! Time (January 4, 1982) points back to Mao Tse-tung’s global “export of revolution” as an obsessive vision “to hasten the Communist millennium.” Mao’s aegis is gone, his vision already radically altered.

People may ask: Is John the only one who in this way made Christ’s second coming to this earth so plain?

No, the oldest extant quotation from all literature, to a Bible believer, has to be Jude 14 and 15. Jude cited, “Enoch, the seventh from Adam, who prophesied that the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of His holy ones to judge everyone” alive, including “all the ungodly.” And the ungodliest man or system ever will be the Antichrist. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “The Lord Jesus will overthrow [that lawless one] with the breath of His mouth and destroy [him] by the splendor of His coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:8).

The Return of Jesus Christ

The return of Jesus Christ is the great assurance for the Christian.

Seymour Siegel has commented, “The central problem of Christianity is: If the Messiah has come, why is the world so evil? For Judaism, the problem is: If the world is so evil, who does the Messiah not come?” The Messiah is coming to solve both dilemmas, and perhaps soon! Every devout orthodox Jewish worshiper prays every day, “I believe with complete faith in the coming of the Messiah. Even though He tarry, yet I will wait for Him every coming day.”

The Scripture says, “The government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over His kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever” (Isaiah 9:6,7).

The late Arnold Toynbee of Cam­bridge foresaw that “only a world government can save mankind from annihilation by nuclear weapons.” That’s right! And Jesus Christ will be the King over all the earth in His theocratic world government.

Jonathan Schell’s book The Fate of the Earth, which I have quoted several times, envisages a day when “existing institu­tions must give way to some sort of transcendent sovereignty and security, presumably by a government that em­braces all mankind,” in fact “world government” (Time, April 19, 1982). That will happen when Christ returns.

What Happens to the Nuclear Monster?

And when Jesus Christ really does return to this earth with His saints to set up His kingdom, where He’ll rule as King of kings and Lord of lords, what will happen to what remains of the un­counted weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear weapons and the biological, chemical, laser and outer-space weaponry that is today increasingly stockpiled around the world?

As I men­tioned earlier, on a statue across from the United Nations building in New York is the inscription, “They will beat their swords into plowshares.” Where did that quotation come from? From the Bible!

In Micah 4, only one of many scriptural prophecies which deal with this catastrophic question, we read that the world’s “nations will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house (of the true God who)… will teach us His ways.’ ” As King of the world “He will judge be­tween many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more. Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the Lord Almighty has spoken” (vv.2-4).

But in the long run the beating of “swords into plowshares” is something Jesus Christ Himself, as King over all the earth, will effectively enact.

The King Is Coming!

As Bill and Gloria Gaither lyricized for the world to sing, indeed “The King Is Coming!” What was future tense for Isaac Watts will be present tense then—”Jesus shall reign, where’er the sun/doth his successive journeys run;/His kingdom spread from shore to shore;/till moons shall wax and wane no more.” That precious promise makes life here exciting every moment, regardless of the circumstances.

The New Catholic Encyclopedia points out that the result of Christ’s triumph over Antichrist and the forces of evil will be a reign of Jesus Christ and His saints of all the ages over an earth that will know unprecedented prosperity and peace. From time immemorial, man has longed for a combination of true law and order, of peace and prosperity, of freedom and fulfillment, of health and happiness, of godliness and longevity on this earth. It will happen when Christ comes again to set up His kingdom.

A New World Coming

There can be no new world under pre­sent conditions. Something dramatic has to happen to alter man and his world.

That leaves us with only one absolute cer­tainty about the future: Christ as the Prince of Peace, with the government upon His shoulders. The utopian dreams and schemes of the Platos, the Bellamys, the Owens and similar philosophers and idealists throughout history will all be fulfilled through His rule. That’s the message of the God-Man on the white horse coming down out of heaven, which the apostle John foresaw and recorded in Revelation 19.

John Milton yearned for “Paradise Restored.” I’m sure that for nearly a thousand years Adam longed to get back into the Garden of Eden, from which he was driven because of his sin. But he couldn’t! Professor John Walvoord puts it concisely, “The longing for perfect government, righteousness, equity, economic prosperity, and deliverance from insecurity and fears which plague the modern world finds its answer in the return of Christ and the establishment of His kingdom.”

The Scriptures have a great deal to teach us about the world of the coming Christ. The Messiah will take complete charge of the peoples of the entire earth. He “will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious,” assures Isaiah. “The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the spirit of counsel and of power, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.” Throughout the world today people crave a society of peace and provision, but also one of goodness and justice. The Messiah Christ will implement all these, as “with righteousness He will judge the needy, with justice He will give decisions for the poor of the earth,” as “righteousness will be His belt and faithfulness the sash around His waist.” Will it work? Yes: “they will neither harm nor destroy … for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:10, 2-5, 9).

So transformed will the prevailing order be that even the animal world will be completely tamed. “The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy” is the promise of the coming King (Isaiah 11:6-9). This will be in complete contrast to the savage beasts, scavenger birds, devouring in­sects and raging diseases that have been among the most ferocious foes of primitive and civilized man from the Adamic to the atomic ages.

A Message from the Messiah

This leads me to contemplate from the Scriptures that future era under the reign of the Messiah.

Sickness will be remedied by Christ, the great Healer of nations. And He will remove all defor­mities and handicaps. At that time there’ll be no designated spots on parking lots, or graduated ramps on buildings, for the handicapped. There will be no blindness, deafness, muteness, paralysis—no need for eyeglasses, hearing aids, speech therapy, wheelchairs, crutches, or white canes. “No one living,” assures Isaiah (33:24), “will say, ‘I am ill.’ ” “I will restore you to health and heal your wounds, declares the Lord” through Jeremiah (30:17). “Declares the Sover­eign Lord” through Ezekiel (34:15, 16), “I will bind up the injured.” “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come,” prophesies Isaiah, and “then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reed and papyrus will grow. And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness” (Is. 35:4-8).

“Surely the day is coming” prophesied Malachi (4:1, 2) in the last chapter of the Old Testament, when the peoples of the world will finally “revere My name, the sun of righteousness will rise with heal­ing in its wings.” And in the last chapter of the New Testament, we read that there will stand in that era “the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse” (Rev. 22:2, 3). “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev. 21:4).

Currently, as Paul wrote to the Romans (8:18-21, 22), “the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” But “our present sufferings are not worth compar­ing with the glory that will be revealed,” for the whole “creation waits in eager ex­pectation for the sons of God to be re­vealed, for the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.”

Our Vanishing Problems

We’ve had enormous controversies in and beyond the church, throughout the world, on birth control, abortion and euthanasia. These problems will all vanish as the curse on the earth is re­moved, and in place of thorns and thistles, drought and deserts, will be fruits and vegetables, fountains and fertility.

Rabbi Dr. Harvey Fields was so right recently to exclaim, partly from ex­asperation but mostly from expectation, “Without the Messiah, the human enter­prise would crash into darkness forever.” But thank God, the Messiah is coming. He saves individuals today. In the great tomorrow, He will make all creation.

One day it will happen. The prophet Isaiah predicted, “The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.” Yes, the world will be like the “splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God” (Is. 35:1, 2).

A Pointed Invitation

With that kind of future ahead for believers, and beyond that in eternity with Christ and the believers of all the ages in a new heaven as well as a new earth, I could not finish this without a pointed invitation to you as a reader to be absolutely sure that you are Christ’s.

And in feeling this way so strongly, I am only reflecting exactly the way the an­cient apostle John felt. He simply could not conclude the Revelation of Jesus Christ without making the last six verses of his book one of the most compelling invitations to repent of sin and receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord to be found anywhere in the entire Bible.

“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to give you this testimony for the churches,” is what we read in Revelation 22:16. Jesus Christ Himself wants John to make no mistake about it. After envisaging a panorama of scenes covering the past, the present and the future; after peering deep into the heavens, the earth and hell; after being introduced to God, to man all the way from his best to his worst and to Satan himself—Jesus wants the last word!

Why? Because, as we read in chapter 1 (v. 5), He is the one above all others “who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood” shed on the cross for our sins to purchase our pardon and peace. And He is, therefore, the One to whom we are ultimately as well as im­mediately answerable. Later in that first chapter (vv. 17, 18) He assured, “I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One, I was dead and behold I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades”—of hell itself!

In chapter 3 (v. 20) Jesus comes a step closer and declares, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will go in and eat with him, and he with Me.” Jesus is saying to you, right now, that if you have never admitted Him as Savior and Lord into your life, you not only vitally need to do so now, you can do so now! Many say, “There is no need.” But the goodness of God should lead to repentance.

When, however, difficulties and heartaches come into your life, God can use those “hard knocks” to show you your need of Christ in every cir­cumstance. It may be a business disap­pointment, a reverse in your love life, a broken marriage, a tragic bereavement, a hopelessly severed or even strained relationship between you and a parent or child. It could be the gradual or rapid deterioration of your own health. Whatever your disappointment, it’s His appointment!

So He’s knocking at your heart’s door, just as when there’s a knock on the door of your home. You may open the door and invite the individual on the threshold in to share in your hospitality and friend­ship. Or you may indeed simply ignore the knock. It’s that way with Jesus knock­ing at your heart’s door. Right now, you can bow your head on an airplane, in a jail—in an office, in a hotel, in a hospital or in your home, and you can open your heart to Christ by a simple prayer of faith.

So we have this good news made possi­ble in the past by Christ’s everlasting love and death on the cross for us.

And we have His knocking at our heart’s door in the present, seeking possession of our lives, not only for our eternal benefit, but—incredibly—for His also. He wants to “show us off” to the rest of the universe as an example of what His grace can do. Then, in chapter 4 (v. 1) we are shown the future, invited through John’s eyes to look ahead: “And there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.’ ” And Jesus gives us a pre­view of the heaven He has gone to prepare for us.

You ask: What if I reject Jesus Christ and choose instead the way of sin? He is also loving and caring enough to warn you of the peril of that route.

In Revela­tion 21 He makes unmistakably clear that “the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters, and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.” Then He assures, “This is the second death” (Rev. 21:8), so “I, Jesus,” in­itiate this final biblical invitation. “I, Jesus … give you this testimony” (Rev. 22:16).

Accompanying Christ’s testimony is the powerful voice of the Holy Spirit who says, “Come! (Rev. 22:17).

It would be completely futile for me to preach the gospel, as I have done to many people every year for the past generation, if the Holy Spirit were not convicting the hearers of their sin and prompting them to open their hearts to Christ. And your reading of this is entirely in vain, if through doing so, the Holy Spirit has not inspired you to spiritual growth or, if you are not a believer, issued an unmistakable call to you to give your life to Jesus Christ. Right now, the Holy Spirit is say­ing one thing to you, “Come!” Come to Christ! Open your life to His salvation and to His control.

In verse 17 we read, “the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ ” The bride of Christ is His church. It is made up of those who have received Him as Lord and Savior. Doing so, we take His name and are thereafter known as Christians. We love Him and we live with Him as our Lord, to the exclusion of all others. He has promised to provide for all of our needs. So, we’re the bride! He is the bridegroom!

Then again, Jesus invites, “Let him who hears say, ‘Come!’ ” (v. 17). We’re told that “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). One of the verses I have used most frequently to lead people into a sav­ing experience with Jesus Christ is John 5.24. It is Jesus speaking, “I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.” That’s one of the clearest promises in all of the Bible as to how to come to Christ. Then, when we come to Christ, we’ll urge others to come to Christ. When we con­fess Jesus as Lord of our lives, we’ll want to confess Him before others.

Whoever is thirsty, let him come” (Rev. 22:17), testifies Jesus! So many are chronically thirsty but can’t put a finger on what that thirst is or a handle on how to quench it. Pascal, the great French physicist and philosopher of the 17th cen­tury, noted that all humans have in their hearts a God-shaped void that only Jesus can fill. John had already written in his Gospel years before what Jesus said to a morally mixed-up woman at the Samaritan well: “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13, 14).

Do you have that thirst deep down in your soul that has characterized all people who have ever lived, but espe­cially many of the great men and women of history?

Riches cannot quench that thirst! Knowledge cannot quench that thirst! Alcohol cannot quench that thirst! Drugs cannot quench that thirst! Sex or romance cannot quench that thirst! But Christ can! And He asks you right now, wherever you are, to come to Him. Believe in Him! Tell Him that you do! Call upon Him to save your soul, to satisfy your thirst with the water of eter­nal life.

Again, in Revelation 22:17, Jesus repeats the invitation one final time with the strongest and most inclusive call of all: “And whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” By this, Jesus is saying that—from our human viewpoint—a decision for Christ is en­tirely a matter of the will. God has done everything possible to bring you salva­tion; you can add nothing to what He has done. If you wish to be saved and go to heaven, you can, by believing in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior. If you wish not to be saved and therefore to be lost forever, that also is your privilege. In­sofar as Jesus is concerned, He “wants, all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4).

Peter, writing the closing chapter of his two letters, pleads that Christ is certainly “not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). I cannot think of how God could open the door wider for you to enter into the household of faith! And to be sure that no one thinks salvation is something we buy, contribute to or earn, He clarifies, “Take the free gift.”

Jesus Christ rose from the dead to be alive forever. And because He is alive, and because He can be everywhere at once, He is right there where you’re reading. All you have to do is take Him, receive Him.

You might reply, “But I’ve received people into my life before, in relation­ships that didn’t last and I’m wondering, will Jesus Christ love me and leave me? Will He take me and then forsake me, even perhaps forget that I exist?

No! In the next to the last verse in the Bible, Jesus “testifies” to you, “Yes, I am coming soon.” The old apostle is so happy about that reassurance that he replies, “Come, Lord Jesus!” When you really mean your commitment to Christ not just as a momentary, but as an ongo­ing relationship, you will have Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior forever. You can choose to “be with the Lord forever” (1 Thess. 4:17).

You may have one final hesitation. You may ask, “But could I live the Christian life on my own?

No, you couldn’t! But you will not be on your own. Christ gives you day-by-day and moment-by-moment His unmerited favors. He strengthens, energizes and directs your life. The last verse in the Bible, Revelation 22:21, promises, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.” What more could you desire, ask or ever hope for than that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you forever?

Let me offer you a final suggestion.

I had led tens of thousands who have come forward to make decisions for Christ in every part of the world ‘in this simple prayer:

“O God, I am a sinner. I’m sorry for my sins. I’m willing to turn from my sins.

I receive Christ as Savior.

I confess Him as Lord. From this moment on I want to follow Him and serve Him in the fellowship of His church.

In Christ’s name, Amen.”

8/14/2015 | Billy Graham | Source: charismamag.com "BILLY GRAHAM: What Does God Have in Store for the Grand Finale?"

Second Coming of Christ Imminent, Says Former Congresswoman

Profile: Obama (01)

Michelle Bachmann has never been shy about her faith or lacked the boldness to confront the difficult issues.

The former congresswoman didn’t hold back on Jan Markell’s Understanding the Times radio broadcast this week.

For starters, she warned that God is going to bring judgment on America thanks to President Obama’s foreign policy. She called Obama ignorant of Islamic scripture and Islamic history and accused him of intentionally lying to the American people.

“He constantly talks about perverting Islam, but we have literally centuries and centuries of theory and practice of the Quran and the Hadith, which are traditions, the works of Islamic jurisprudence, that say one complete, consistent truth and that’s that they want to have a nuclear weapon,” she said.

“There is no fatwa out there,” she added.

“This is a lie, in my opinion, that the president is perpetrating. But that’s what we’ve seen—a doctrine of deception. From the time Barack Obama has come in, I have witnessed firsthand a doctrine of deception.”

Bachmann then turned to a more hopeful thought: the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.

“The good news that I want to transition to is that, remember the prophets said in the Old Testament, they longed to look into the days that we live in, they long to be a part of these days. That’s why these are not fearful times, these are the most exciting days in history,” Bachmann said.

“Every single day we can talk about God’s time clock and the fact that Jesus Christ’s return is imminent. We have very little time, in my opinion, left before the second return of Christ. That’s good news. Maranatha, come Lord Jesus. So do we despair? The despairing is that we see that our world is not going the way of salvation and the way of blessing, the world is embracing degeneracy.”

4/17/2015 | by JENNIFER LECLAIRE | Original Source : charismanews.com  “Second Coming of Christ Imminent, Says Former Congresswoman”

Signs: Christ’s Return? (01) What Are The Signs of Christ’s Return?

Jack van Impe feature

What are the signs of Christ’s return?

Now that we have addressed several foundational questions on the pre-Rapture signs, I want to show you how the Bible provides overwhelmingly clear evidence of other pretribulational signs demonstrating Christ’s impending return to earth. I will now begin to deal with every major sign in the New Testament to show that Jesus’ statement, “When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors” (Matthew 24:33), is being fulfilled in our day and age.

Matthew 24:3-14 declares: And as he [Jesus] sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying. Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: For all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and

kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. 

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another, And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

This passage may be among the most misunderstood of all prophetic pronouncements. 

The problem has arisen because many Christians still fail to see that God has two elect groups upon earth-the nation of Israel (Romans 11:28) and the Church (1 Peter 1:2). Romans 9-11 tells the entire story of God’s chosen people, Israel.

• Chapter 9 concerns Israel’s past.

•  Chapter 10 its present.

•  Chapter 11 its future.

Regarding its glorious past, Romans 9:4 declares that Israel was given the promises, including prophetic pledges. In chapter 10, we find: “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who [among them] hath believed our report?” (Romans 10:16)

Presently, they are blinded to their calling and promises, but in the future, “All Israel shall be saved: as it is written. There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob” (Romans 11:26).

Why will God perform this? 

Romans 11:29 provides the answer: “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” God chose Israel (Deuteronomy 7:7-8) and He has never canceled His selection. Therefore, Israel remains God’s chosen people and heir to His promises as stated in Romans 11:28.

The signs of Matthew 24 are presented to the elect- yes, elect Israel. We know this to be true in this chapter because of the regard for the Sabbath day (Matthew 24:20), because of the connection with synagogues (Luke 21:12), and because the setting of Matthew 24 is Jerusalem (Matthew 24:1). Only Bible manipulators, antidispensationalists, and antiliteralists could make Gentiles out of these Jews.

Included in this group are the twelve tribes of the children of Israel. Twelve thousand shall be chosen from each of the twelve tribes. Twelve thousand times twelve equals 144,000.

The tribes are Juda, Reuben, Gad, Aser, Nephthalim, Manasses, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zabulon, Joseph, and Benjamin (Revelation 7:4-8). These signs are for Israel, who is looking for the return of her King in Revelation 19. They are not signposts for the Rapture.

The group looking for the fulfillment of signs in Matthew 24 is preaching a different gospel in (Matthew 24:14). Gospel means “good news,” and their good news is the gospel of the kingdom or the good news that their King is about to return (Revelation 19:16).

They will be traveling around the globe, 144,000 strong, singing “The King is coming! The King is coming!” Although the signs will be fulfilled in their entirety after the Christians are gone, we already see the tantalizing beginning of each of these signs. Again, this means that if these signs pointing to our return with the King are already in their initial stages, we must be snatched away very soon in order to prepare for our return to earth with Christ the King.

False Christs

In Matthew 24:3, Jesus was asked, “When shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming [to earth], and of the end of the world [or age of grace]?” He replied, “Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matthew 24:5).

Since the year 1900, more than eleven hundred people claiming to be Christ have appeared on the world scene.

These include Father DivineProphet Jones, Sweet Daddy Grace, Father Riker; Daniel Swalt, Moses Guibbory, Maharaj Ji, and Sun Myung Moon, not to mention scores of lesser-known, self-proclaimed messiahs who enjoyed a few fleeting moments of media fame.

Presently, while they might not refer to themselves as “false Christs,” certain members of our liberal clergy are playing such a role. Take, for example, a survey of the beliefs and attitudes of the Church of Scotland ministers. They have rightfully caused a stir within the denomination as the foundational truth of the

Bible-the virgin birth of Christ-was recently called into question by religious leaders. The shocking results of the survey of 150 ministers were that 16 percent did not believe in the Immaculate Conception of Christ and 15 percent said that they “didn’t know.” An amazing 17 percent said that the Virgin Mary was not a virgin in twentieth-century terms, and 6 percent thought that Jesus was the product of Mary and Joseph having sex outside of marriage. (See Matthew 7:21-23 and 2 Peter 2:1-3.)

Such abuse of Scripture is yet another sign of the times. 

However, eventually, the ultimate false Christ-one who is probably alive even at this moment-will proclaim himself as the true Christ and become accepted on an international scale.

The Bible predicts such an hour, when the Antichrist, “who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped… sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4) and is accepted as such.

This internationally deified dictator will inaugurate a world-peace program which will hold the world spellbound for forty-two months, or three and one-half years. Then, in the middle of the seven-year period of tribulation, he will break all of his pledges and destroy his contractual obligations with Israel (Daniel 9:27).

At this time, Russia will begin a world war as she invades Israel (Ezekiel 38:11). This war will eventually involve all nations (Zechariah 14:2).

This is God’s outline from the Bible.

First, the international dictator will establish global peace, and when the world believes that Utopia has arrived, the bottom will fall out of their hopes and aspirations: “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them” (1 Thessalonians 5:3). We now move to even more dramatic signs that signify our Lord is coming soon.

What is the significance of today’s wars, famines, and increasing pestilences?

From the proclamation of Matthew 24:6-7, we see that the world can expect nothing but rivalry and battles until the Antichrist produces the false peace of the Tribulation era. More than 176 limited wars have been fought since the end of the Second World War. Today one out of every four nations on earth is engaged in some kind of military conflict.

Soon, however, we will experience the greatest global confrontation in history, for we are marching swiftly toward Armageddon at this moment. Over a decade ago, CIA and British Intelligence reports about the Soviet Union were grim. They reported the development of new weapons systems located throughout the Soviet Union, along with expenditures of enormous sums for underground civil defense shelters that meant that Russia was preparing for war. Many did not believe these pronouncements at the time.

Even today, while there is a semblance of peace (although the signs of a reemergence of the Cold War are increasing), we must not be lulled into thinking that Russia has changed her ways-especially since enormous numbers of nuclear warheads remain hidden in underground silos throughout the southern provinces of that vast land. I’ve noted that people no longer laugh at the prophecies uttered by Ezekiel in chapters 38 and 39 that picture the Russian hordes from the north swarming to the Middle East. Today, as the end-time clock continues to wind down, the red horse of the Apocalypse is about to appear.

Revelation 6 states,

There went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

Revelation 6:4
Famines and Pestilences

Christ continued in Matthew 24:7, “And there shall be famines, and pestilences.” More than two billion of the world’s inhabitants go to bed hungry each night. There are nationwide famine in the Sudan and Rwanda and reports of widespread cannibalism in North Korea-with news coming from Indonesia, the earth’s fourth largest nation that millions of people on those scattered islands remain on the brink of starvation.

Thousands are dying painful deaths throughout our world, while scores of others are too numb with hunger to realize what is happening. One writer said it poignantly, “First the belly swells, then the hair turns gray and the skin cracks, after a while the victim dies in mute misery.” Such an experience will soon be the fate of millions of people. Paul Erlich, a biochemist at Stanford University, said it’s already too late to prevent famines that will kill millions, because already one-half billion are starving and another billion are malnourished. He may be right. There seems to be no possible solution in the near future, because it is too late to produce enough food.

America will undoubtedly be included in this suffering in the days ahead. In fact, the number of the beast, 666 (something we’ll address in a later question and answer), may come into existence through an international rationing plan. Soon the voice of Revelation 6:6 will sound, “A measure of wheat for a penny.

A measure in Bible times was a quart, and a penny was a day’s wages. 

Imagine a loaf of bread for a day’s labor. Pestilence, the twin sister of hunger, is also on the rampage. The swine flu scare, legionnaires’ disease, AIDS, and other diseases-many already fully resistant to antibiotics and other medications-are only the beginning. Years ago I read an article in Reader’s Digest, reprinted from an article in Time entitled, “The Bugs Are Coming.” And they have come indeed . . . and will continue to come in plague like fashion during these final days.

Even as I write these words, other pestilential plagues are in their preparatory stages. The South American fire ant has advanced from its initial beachhead in Mobile, Alabama, and now infests more than one hundred billion acres in nine southern states, sometimes driving farm workers from the fields because of its fiery sting. In forest areas the gypsy moth, the spruce budworm, and the southern pine beetle have wreaked devastation on huge areas of woodland, defoliating and killing millions of valuable trees-enough, in fact, to build 910,000 houses per year! Corn borers and rootworms have attacked crops in the Corn Belt at an incredible rate. The boll weevil costs United States farmers millions of dollars in crop losses annually. The mosquito is infecting one million humans per year in Africa and killing thousands annually with malaria, while the black fly in the Volta River basin blinds hundreds of thousands each year.

Entomologists estimate that the number has now climbed to one quintillion, representing five million different species. If a person could weigh all insects together, their combined weight would be twelve times that of the entire human race. Can there be any doubt that the pestilence Jesus predicted will soon rear its head in monstrous proportions and that world hunger will be felt by every country on earth? This, along with what comes out of the bottomless pit in Revelation 9:2 (causing the plague of verse 3), is just around the corner. Listen to the prediction: “There came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power.” Their purpose is to destroy and kill.

The Rapture is near, my friend … the signs are all around us.

A MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR. JACK VAN IMPE

Parousia: “Blessed Hope” (Return of Christ)

Jack van Impe feature

My friends do not believe in the “blessed hope” – the return of Christ to claim His own.

I need additional verses that speak specifically of the Rapture.

Also, what about the “signs pointing to Christ’s millennial reign”?

What does that mean?

Numerous other New Testament passages speak about Christ’s return. For instance, Titus 2:13; “Looking for that blessed hope [the Rapture], and the glorious appearing [the Revelation] of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” Hebrews 10:25 speaks about that great “approaching” day.

James mentions the hoarding of gold and silver in the last days: “Ye have heaped treasure [gold and silver] together for the last days” (5:3) and adds in verse 8, “the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” Likewise, Jude declares that, as the Lord returns with His saints, filthy dreamers or false prophets who have denied the Bible will be destroyed (see w. 14-15).

There are also signs in the New Testament that speak of the relationship between Jerusalem and the Gentiles. One group of signs deals specifically with Jerusalem’s role in world history as well as the role of the Gentiles. Luke 21:24 declares, “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.

In modem English, Christ stated, “Jerusalem will be controlled by Gentile nations and powers until the time of My return.” Timothy’s grandmother, Lois, in 2 Timothy 1:5 may have mentioned this fantastic prophetical utterance to her grandson, but it did not occur in his lifetime.

Generations of Jewish grandmothers probably referred to this sign, but it never occurred in their day.

Enter the mockers of Scripture who throw their abusive insults: Where is the promise of this coming?

Since our grandparents’ departure, all things continue as they were. However, remember . . . God “cannot lie” (Titus 1:2).

Finally, after nineteen hundred years of waiting-after seventy-five to one hundred generations of grandparents had lived and died, it finally happened.

A six-day war was fought from June 5 to 10 in 1967.

During the battle, the Jews took Jerusalem-one of the most powerful signs of Christ’s return.

What about the six-day theory?

Second Peter 3:8-9 contains a tremendous mathematical formula: “Beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” For years, I have referred to this passage as a mathematical masterpiece. Let us review it together. The promise God keeps is found in 2 Peter 3:4.

It is the promise of His coming. Because God “cannot lie” (Titus 1:2), He will come again!

His heart of love toward sinners is filled with patience, but soon the day of grace will end.

His patience cannot go on eternally. His prearranged timetable must be fulfilled. What is this time frame?

Can we mortals know such secrets? Yes, we can! Jesus said, “When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors” (Matthew 24:33).

Though we will never know the precise day or hour (Matthew 24:36), we can know God’s approximate schedule. How can this be? We read that a thousand years is as a day, and a day is as a thousand years. This is not as mysterious as it sounds. In fact, a few mental calisthenics give us the solution to this often-misunderstood equation.

God created the world in six days (Genesis 1:31) and rested on the seventh day (Genesis 2:2).

Since a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day, we have six days of labor, signifying six thousand years of burdensome toil for humanity, and a final seventh day of rest-the millennial reign of Christ-when they live and reign with Christ a thousand years (Revelation 20:4). The calendar on your wall or in your wallet or purse demonstrates that this timetable is practically fulfilled.

Chronologists such as Archbishop James Ussher have worked strenuously on historical timetables to produce the following information: From Adam’s creation to Christ’s birth, approximately 4,000 years passed.

From Christ’s birth to our day, 1,998 years have transpired.

This gives us a total of 5,998 years.

We are on the threshold of the final day!

The six-day theory is not my invention, but rather the theory of scores of church fathers in earlier centuries. With that in mind, I want you to consider the following from the amazing document titled the Epistle of Barnabas- missionary with the apostle Paul (see Acts chapters 13-15).

He said in A.D. 110-nineteen centuries ago: And God made in six days the works of his hands; and he finished them on the seventh day, and he rested the seventh day, and sanctified it.

Consider, my children, what that signifies, he finished them in six days.

The meaning of it is this; that in six thousand years the Lord God will bring all things to an end. For with him one day is a thousand years; as himself testifieth saying. Behold this day shall be as a thousand years.

Therefore, children, in six thousand years, shall all things be accomplished. And what is that he saith, And he rested the seventh day, he meaneth this; that when his Son shall come, and abolish the season of the Wicked One, and judge the ungodly; and shall change the sun and the moon and the stars; then he shall gloriously rest in that seventh day. (w. 3-6)

Other early Church writings confirm the “signs of a thousand years.” Irenaeus, an early church father who lived 1,850 years ago, wrote, “For in so many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded… and God brought to a conclusion upon the sixth day the works he made.

The Jewish Talmud states, “The world is to stand 6,000 years, viz., 2,000 confusion and void, 2,000 with the law, and 2,000 the time of the Messiah.

The chronological tables could be off by as much as five to twelve years. However, we know that the time of the end is near, even at the doors, though we are not privy to the day or the hour.

One thing is certain: Only a few minutes remain before midnight. Closing time is upon us.

The Age of Grace is about to end, and believers are soon to rule and reign with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Will the Rapture of the Church bring both Blessing and sorrow?

Yes. Some will be ashamed (1 John 2:28), and some will be full of joy.

That is why, in 1 Thessalonians 2:19, Paul asks, “What is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing?” What is going to bring you and me a great crown? He then answers, “Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?” (v. 19).

Paul was saying, “I’m going to present you-those I’ve won to Christ from Rome to Corinth-before the Lord, and that is going to be my joy.” But think of the multitudes who will stand before the Lord empty-handed. These are people who have been saved for years, but have no record of service-none whatsoever. They have never won a single soul to Christ.

There will be no scales at the Great Judgment Day at the end of the world whereby one is admitted to heaven if his good works outweigh the bad and vice versa.

A person can be saved only by God’s grace (unmerited favor), not through works (Ephesians 2:8-9). Second Timothy 1:9 states: “[God] hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace.” However, there is a system of balances found in the Scriptures when it comes to rewards.

Remember that one is neither saved nor kept by works.

He is, however, to work because of the salvation he already possesses. Ephesians 2:10 gives clear evidence of this fact: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works.” The Christian’s works following salvation will be weighed on God’s scales and put through His judgmental fire. Thus, a system of addition and subtraction can be found at the judgment seat of Christ.

The Bible also plainly states that a Christian can accumulate rewards while he is on earth, and then lose them before his death, or before the Rapture, by foolish living. The Bible is clear that a Christian cannot live in sin without suffering the consequences-not the loss of his salvation, but of his rewards.

Remember 1 Corinthians 3:15, “He shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

Now consider 2 John 8: “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.

Consider also Revelation 3:11: “Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

In 1 Corinthians 9:27, Paul says, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” The Greek word for castaway means “disapproved” or “put on the shelf.”

Paul knew he could lose all his rewards for heroic service if he allowed his flesh to rule his life rather than the Holy Spirit. If this could happen to the man who had accumulated more “spiritual points” toward heavenly rewards than any servant of God, it can also happen to you and me.

Second Corinthians 11:23-26 lists Paul’s service record: “In labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep [clinging to life in the ocean]; In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren.

Paul could have lost all of his rewards had he allowed his flesh to control him instead of the Lord.

But he didn’t. Hear him again-just before he paid the supreme sacrifice (his life)-in 2 Timothy 4:7-8: “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 [the day of Christ’s “bema” or judgment seat investigation]: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

What a contrast to some Christians who find it easier to lie in bed rather than go to God’s house; who find it easier not to tithe, not to read the Bible, not to pray, not to win souls, not to live in the Spirit. Their reward will be nothing but ashes. Also to those who have allowed the flesh to take control of their lives, their rewards, earned through years of service, will have been lost because of a foolish unfulfilling habit, a beautiful, flirtatious face, or the desire to travel to heaven via worldly pathways.

I don’t know all that will be brought to light at that day, but I do know the first question God will ask is: “Did you bring people into My kingdom?”

It is also the last thing Jesus commanded us to do: “Ye shall be witnesses unto me . . . And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight” (Acts 1:8-9).

We will also be asked what we did with our finances. “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6).

Who composes Christ’s bride?’

The bride of Christ is made up of every man, woman, and child who has been saved from the Day of Pentecost onward.

This includes everyone who has received Christ until the Rapture occurs in 1 Thessalonians 4:16.

So from Pentecost to the Rapture, the bride of Christ is formed and evacuated. As we approach that blessed day, I’m often asked, “At what stage in God’s prophetic program does the Church, or Bride, presently find herself?”

According to Oriental marriage customs, we are now in the betrothal stage-promised to Jesus Christ.

This is why He wants His people to live holy lives. By doing so, we (the Church or Bride) can be presented as “a chaste virgin” to the Savior (or Bridegroom) as expressed in 2 Corinthians 11:2.1 believe we are about to be called into the heavenlies for that great marriage ceremony, because every sign leading to this long-prophesied event is already occurring.

Since every sign for Christ’s return to earth is already in progress (we’ll later look in some detail at contemporary events that prove this), this great wedding must occur soon. It will not be long before we hear the words, “Come up hither” (Revelation 4:1).

Then Revelation 19:7 says, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.

Every bride anticipates the joys of a honeymoon. Therefore, the next logical question is, “How long will the honeymoon last for the bride of Christ?”

After we are taken up in the Rapture (Revelation 4), we return with Christ in Revelation 19:14: “And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses.” Jude verse 14 says, “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints.” Revelation 20:4 says, “And they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.

The only ones coming back with Him are the Bride-to begin the honeymoon.

This does not include, however, the Old Testament saints. John 1:17 says, “For the law was given by Moses, but grace [the new dispensation, or covenant] and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Now, concerning the salvation of John the Baptist-he did not become a part of the Bride at Pentecost. He was saved before Pentecost. So Jesus called him a “friend of the bridegroom” (John 3:29).

John, then, is considered to be a friend of the Bridegroom but not part of the Bride.

The Church, or Bride, began to be formed on the Day of Pentecost and will be completed at the Rapture.

Hence, the Old Testament saints are not members of the Bride or Church. Also, since the Church is evacuated at the Rapture-before the Tribulation begins (Revelation 4:1)-one can clearly see that the Tribulation saints who are martyred during this horrendous period do not constitute part of the Bride or Church. The Bride is definitely that group of blood-washed believers beginning at Pentecost and completed at the Rapture.

Both the Old Testament and Tribulation saints are raised when Christ returns to earth, so they may be guests at the marriage supper of the Lamb on earth (see Daniel 12:2; Revelation 4-5).

A MESSAGE OF HOPE FROM DR. JACK VAN IMPE