Two Churches in View
We are seeing on the scene today two religious bodies foretold by the Lord: one the false, and the other the true Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. The ascended Jesus told the prophet and apostle John of these two distinctive churches that would be on the world scene at the time of His coming again.
The Laodicean Church
Jesus’ prophecy about the Laodicean church was transcribed by John while the old apostle was exiled on the Isle of Patmos: “And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see” (Revelation 3:14-18).
Jesus Calls His Sheep to Come Out of This False System--This church has among its huge multitudes the apostate believers–the ones who have fallen away. It is condemned by Christ in harsh terms. Still He calls those who have fallen away to come back to their family status, that He might clothe them in righteous robes of godly works. There are true believers in this body, and there are the lost souls. Their shepherds are mostly of the ravenous wolf variety, I’m of the conviction. This body, minus the born again among them, will go into the tribulation hour when Christ calls “Come up here!” to all who belong to Him.
The Philadelphian Church
Jesus has no condemnation for this church, only commendation. The King of all kings has some thrilling things to say to this body: “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 3:7-13).
Fascinating Words--Jesus commends the church that has remained true to His calling. This is the Body–His Bride—that will join Him in the air when He calls. (Read John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 15: 51-55; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 4:1-2.)
There will be those who, if I do not clarify, send notes asking if I, based upon this statement, believe that only some Christians will be taken in the rapture. Let me be very clear: ALL Christians, whether they are in or out of the holy will of God, will go to be with the Lord at the rapture of the Church. This is scripturally provable. The Apostle Paul said, under Holy Spirit inspiration: “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15: 51-52).
Every single individual, dead and alive, who has come to salvation will be changed in one moment of rapture. Paul said “ALL” because God told him to say “ALL” will be changed. God cannot lie!
It is fascinating to consider the Lord’s words in this account of His love for the church of Philadelphia. Jesus told John to write: “Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.”
I do not think it far-fetched to see in the Lord’s words a condemnation of those who declare that they have now inherited the mantle of God’s chosen people, the Jews–the literal nation of Israel. We call this replacement theology. This is a terrible error in some cases, and a downright satanic lie put forth in other cases.
No one and nothing has replaced Israel in God’s never-changing regime. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever! The literal descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will receive each and every promise God made to them. Those promises have not and will not be given to anyone other.
Jesus indicates here, perhaps, that those of His faithful Church walking most closely in His ways will hold to this truth about Israel and belief in the veracity of His promises to the physical descendants of the patriarchs.
Perhaps Jesus is saying as recorded in Revelation 3:9 that those who have denied that His promises to Israel are any longer in effect will be brought to bow at the feet of the faithful Philadelphian church. Possibly, they will have to admit that the faithful Church was right and true in this all-important matter to the God of heaven.
Another fascinating statement is found in chapter 3, verse 10. Jesus told John to write: “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.”
The word “temptation” here means “testing.” Jesus promises to keep from a specific hour of “testing” those who have remained faithful to the word of His patience. The terms to consider are “testing” and “patience.” The Philadelphian church, Jesus says in this foretelling, has been faithful to His Word about His “patience.” Those of this church will, therefore, be kept out of the hour of “testing.”
Jesus said, as recorded in the gospel of Luke: “In your patience possess ye your souls” (Luke 21:19). What “patience” was the Lord referring to, here? The Apostle Peter clarifies for us: “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” (2 Peter 3:9).
The “patience” of the Lord is wrapped up in the all-important issue of salvation of lost souls. This is God’s word of His patience. Those who are truly in His family have kept in their hearts the Word of His patience –trust in Him for their salvation. These who are alive at the time before the hour of “testing,” who keep the word of His patience, will not go into that hour of “testing” –the tribulation era, Daniel’s seventieth week.
Does this mean that because believers “keep” the word of His patience –hang on to our salvation belief—we can lose it if we don’t “keep” the word of His patience? No. We can’t lose the “word of His patience” because the Word is Jesus Christ:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:1-4).
“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14: 6).
Jesus, who is the Word, who is the life –eternal life—said, “My Father, which gave [them] me, is greater than all; and no [man] is able to pluck [them] out of my Father's hand” (John 10:29).
Finally, the Apostle Paul, through Holy Spirit inspiration, nails down the truth that it is impossible to do other than “keep the word of my patience,” as Jesus said it. “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
Testing Time for Nominal Christians
The term “nominal Christians” is used to describe those who are Christians who claim Christianity as their “religion.” These are, however, Christians of convenience. They don’t mind the pretense of being associated with the name of Jesus Christ, but truly living under His governance when the requirements include their turning in repentance from their favorite sins is something they refuse to do.
This is not to imply in any way that one can lose his or her salvation once the person has truly accepted (believed in) Christ for salvation. We looked at that previously. One who is truly God’s child –and there is but one way to become His child, remember John 14:6—will not continually wallow in the pig pen of deliberate sinfulness. The child of God will, like the prodigal son, at some point get out of the pig pen and return to the Father for cleansing, with the intention of living in the Father’s house, not in that proverbial pig pen.
Tragically, many of today’s churches are of the nominal Christian variety. The pastors preach and the teachers teach feel good earthly doctrine not unlike that of the secular and corporate worlds. These are those of the churches Jesus prophesied will NOT be kept out of the time of testing (tribulation).
The nominal churches have encouraged millions, by keeping their pew-sitters in darkness, to believe all is well with their souls. This is the attitude cultivated in those church settings, even though deeply in the congregants’ spirits there is the void that only Christ can fill.
The Mark of the Beast
These nominal Christians–those who don’t know Christ for salvation—will have to endure the time of testing –the seven years of tribulation—if they do not come to Christ before the rapture of the true Church.
Perhaps --even likely—it will be the decision of whether to take the hellish mark of the beast (Antichrist) that will be the most agonizing “time of testing” Jesus foretold that His Church will not have to endure (Revelation 3:10).
The end-times signals are literally blaring at this generation from every direction. Worldwide crisis is obviously afflicting all nations, each of which Jesus prophesied will be in great distress with perplexity (Luke 21: 25) at the time of His return. The drive toward one world economy, government, and religion is in our headline news on an hourly basis. Society and culture reflect the violence and corruption Jesus said will make the time He returns like it was in the days of Noah, and the times of Lot in Sodom.
Tomorrow Too Late!
The crisis overspreading the world might look for a time like all will be clear and sunny again. Certainly, many look to the new presidential administration as promising leadership that will lead America and the world out of darkness that has begun to close in on even the homes that shelter us. But, regardless of temporal fixes to the monetary madness and the governmental gyrations, the tribulation storm approaches with astonishing swiftness. Only Christ can shelter from that monstrous tempest. Tomorrow might well be too late. Don’t go into the time of testing along with the world of lost souls. Accept Christ today.
“(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now [is] the accepted time; behold, now [is] the day of salvation.)” (2 Corinthians 6:2).
By Terry JAMES FROM RAPTUREREADY.COM