The Rapture (6): Saintly Counsels on making it at Last!
by Eferovo Igho
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As we have noted before now the rapture or the catching away of the saints is one of three equally greatest events in the universe. The others are creation, and the vicarious sacrifice or crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. After Calvary Cross, the rapture is the next major event in the plan of God to return to the original purpose of creation. And the rapture is also the consummation of the reason why God gave His only begotten Son to come and die for us.
This is why God became man. This is the crowning reason why the angels of God rejoice when any sinner repent. This is the reason why Jesus has long been preparing a place in Heaven for men to dwell eternally. This is why Satan and his hosts have been all wickedness, turbulence and storm over the ages supposing to make the whole world to miss it. But this is why from Enoch till now multitude have sign in for God and their Creator and received grace from Him to overcome anything that emanates from Satan and or that represent him. And this is the event that ushers men to God as His eternal sons, introduces them to eternal glory and make them eternal worshippers of their Creator and God. Yes, this is one of three equally greatest events in the entire universe!
We have also seen so far in the course of this series that this is the hope of all creation of God for their very freedom depends on it. We have subsequently seen that it is the earnest desire or expectation (and we noted that ‘earnest’ entails the complete outstretch of the whole body) of the creature – that is, the entire creation of God – to see it come to pass. We, again, saw that the creation even goes much further too to actually groan to see it happened. And, expectedly, the pilgrims for whose sake this all important event is being planned out by an All-Loving God must earnestly wait for it too; and groan as well: All this we saw from scriptures. Of course, this is one of three equally greatest events in the entire universe.
How do we really be part of it? We touched on it in various ways in Chapters One-Four, and in the Chapter Five dwelt on it. We noted in the conclusion there that we would dwell further more on it here saying that we will draw not only from scriptural counsels but also from godly counsels by post-Bible saints of God on how to stay on the path that leads to Heaven or eternity with God. Like we also noted then we shall be taking on this chapter from different angles: ‘The Rapture: Meditations for life’, ‘A Charge to Keep!’, ‘Taking Heed to our Ways’, ‘The Rapture and two Prayer Points’. But first another reading of our key Scripture:
“For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” – Romans 8: 19-27.
And we must presently take some serious lessons from the Holy Spirit through some of the eminent apostles of the gospel of Jesus Christ and lastly from Christ Himself, and may they come to us as serious meditational materials as we start, resume or continue this race to the eternal abode of the saints with God Most High.
The Rapture: Meditations for Life!
The rapture and purity
- 1 John 2:28-29; 3:1-3
“And now, little children, abide in Him; that, when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. If ye know that He is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of Him. Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.
The rapture, self-emptying and patient running
- Hebrews 12:1-4
“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; Who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him that endured such contradiction of sinners against Himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.”
The rapture and self-subjection
- 1 Corinthians 9:22-27
“To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you. Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 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 rapture and diligence
- 2 Peter 1:3-11
“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
The rapture and suffering with Christ
- Romans 8:17-18
“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
- 2 Cor. 4:17-18
“For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.”
- 1 Peter 4:12-16
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.”
The rapture and the Beatitude
- Matthew 5:1-12
“And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.”
Still on Meditation
The anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing tells us: “Lift up your heart to God with humble love: and mean God himself, and not what you get out of him. Indeed, hate to think of anything but God himself, so that nothing occupies your mind or will but only God. Try to forget all created things that he ever made, and the purpose behind them, so that your thought and longing do not turn or reach out to them either in general or in particular. Let them go, and pay no attention to them. It is the work of the soul that pleases God most. All saints and angels rejoice over it, and hasten to help it on with all their might. All the fiends, however, are furious at what you are doing, and try to defeat it in every conceivable way. Moreover, the whole of mankind is wonderfully helped by what you are doing, in ways you do not understand … And in no better way can you yourself be made clean or virtuous than by attending to this. Yet it is the easiest work of all when the soul is helped by grace and has a conscious longing. And it can be achieved very quickly. Otherwise it is hard and beyond your powers.
“Do not give up then, but work away at it till you have this longing. When you first begin, you find only darkness, and as it were a cloud of unknowing. You don't know what this means except that in your will you feel a simple steadfast intention reaching out towards God. Do what you will, this darkness and this cloud remain between you and God, and stop you both from seeing him in the clear light of rational understanding, and from experiencing his loving sweetness in your affection. Reconcile yourself to wait in this darkness as long as is necessary, but still go on longing after him whom you love. For if you are to feel him or to see him in this life, it must always be in this cloud, in this darkness. And if you will work hard at what I tell you, I believe that through God's mercy you will achieve this very thing.
“So that you may make no mistake, or go wrong in this matter, let me tell you a little more about it as I see it. This work does not need a long time for its completion. Indeed, it is the shortest work that can be imagined! It is no longer, no shorter, than one atom, which as a philosopher of astronomy will tell you is the smallest division of time. It is so small that it cannot be analysed: it is almost beyond our grasp. Yet it is as long as the time of which it has been written, 'All the time that is given to thee, it shall be asked of thee how thou hast spent it.' And it is quite right that you should have to give account of it. It is neither shorter nor longer than a single impulse of your will, the chief part of your soul.
“For there can be as many movements or desires of your will within the hour as there are atoms of time. If grace had restored your soul to the state of Adam's soul before the Fall, you would be in control of your every impulse. None would go astray, but all would reach out to the sovereign of all desires, the peak of all that can be wished for, God himself.
“For He comes down to our level, adapting His Godhead to our power to comprehend. Our soul has some affinity with Him, of course, because we have been created in His image and likeness. Only He Himself is completely and utterly sufficient to fulfil the will and longing of our souls. Nothing else can. The soul, when it is restored by grace, is made wholly sufficient to comprehend Him fully by love. He cannot be comprehended by our intellect or any man’s—or any angel's for that matter. For both we and they are created beings. But only to our intellect is He incomprehensible: not to our love.”
Meditation helps us to be in tune with God. To be in tune with God as this anonymous author represents here is most rewarding and is indispensable in preparing us for the rapture. The things of the world, the lust of the flesh and of the eyes are inimical to reaching accord with God here on earth, and nothing can endanger our making eternity with God more them; and the love for them is chief proof that the Love of the Father is not in us. To be engrossed with them in thought is a way of life contrary to the way of the Spirit. For, the ‘flesh’ is actually a system of thought contrary to the Spirit’s system of thought. These two systems of thought are contrary one to the other.
Meditations centered on God, His Word, the Holy Spirit – and what They (Divinity) represent to us and what we must therefore be to Them; God’s works of creation and redemption; the evil of sin, the priceless and eternal nature of the soul and the divinely required holiness for man to be in tune with God and continually so; eternity with God in a blissful heaven or eternity with Satan in a damnable fire of hell etc enhances us to think the Spirit’s thoughts and act the godly way.
Meditation is a lifestyle that takes the Word of God to the dividing asunder of the spirit and soul, discerns the heart, purges it and commands scriptural obedience. Meditation filters God in and filters the world out, if God’s Word – Genesis to Revelation – is the basis. It is a lifestyle that connects to Heaven, fixes the heart there; and makes it fit for the rapture, if properly engaged in; and if its results are appropriately applied.
A Charge to Keep!
There are sundry charges in Scriptures that we must always receive grace to keep. The arm of flesh has always failed in things spiritual. It is the Spirit that is our Helper. Let us surrender our lives to Him and allow Him to be the driver of them. Two major things happen to all those that do: A really purged life and holy empowerment for obedient and fruitful living and service. Choice vessels the Bible calls them.
Because the Bible has encouraged, demanded or commanded, we know that we must strive to enter in by the strait gate; seek (first) His Kingdom and its righteousness; earnestly contend for the faith; look for the City that has foundation Whose Builder is God; lay our treasures in Heaven that our hearts can be there, and so the whole man subsequently there (hereafter); believe to the saving of our souls. We also know that we must watch and pray; be light of the world and salt of the earth; fight the good fight of faith; and know also that we must not love the world and the things that are in it. We know that we must finish the race set before us, fulfill our ministries or occupy till He comes. The sum: We must be part of THE CHURCH WITHOUT SPOT OR WRINKLE – THE BRIDE OF THE LAMB. And who is sufficient for these things? No one!
Hence the Holy Spirit, and total reliance and complete surrender to His leading in this Christian walk! And hence not being led by emotions and emotional preaching; hence away with ‘itching ear’ messages and all messages that tickle our fancy and excuse our passions, and make Christianity look like a broad-way thing! “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears…” – 2 Tim. 4:3
The divine standard is high! May the Lord Himself help us, for no man is sufficient unto these things! Prayers for grace, prayers for reliance on grace and not to frustrate it are the secret of righteous living and obedience, and both are the key and secret of making it in the rapture. And He has promised us of His Spirit to help us here.
There is a charge to keep. A CHARGE TO KEEP I HAVE – Charles Wesley (1707–1788) once had as a theme. And, indeed, each and everyone pilgrim has a charge to keep. We would hear Wesley, and let’s hear him properly that we can be doers.
1. A charge to keep I have, A God to glorify, A never-dying soul to save, And fit it for the sky. 2. To serve the present age, My calling to fulfill; O may it all my powers engage To do my Master’s will! 3. Arm me with jealous care, As in Thy sight to live, And O, Thy servant, Lord, prepare A strict account to give! 4. Help me to watch and pray, And on Thyself rely, Assured, if I my trust betray, I shall forever die.
“Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of His knowledge by us in every place. For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?” – 2 Corinthians 2:14-16. May God by the Holy Spirit and grace help us to live holily, obediently!
May He make us live triumphantly and help us make manifest the savor of His knowledge everywhere! He comes to take His own. The Savior comes: May He find us faithful, and it will be all glorious eternity with Him Who love us so much: A love we cannot explain in all eternity! Keepers of God’s charges will be there with Him when the trumpet of the Lord shall sound. And James M. Black (1856-1938) classic, “When the Roll is called up yonder”, comes to mind strongly here:
When the trumpet of the Lord shall sound, and time shall be no more,
And the morning breaks, eternal, bright, and fair;
When the saved of earth shall gather over on the other shore,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.
When the roll … is called up yon … der,
When the roll … is called up yon … der,
When the roll … is called up yonder,
When the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.
On that bright and cloudless morning, when the dead in Christ shall rise,
And the glory of His resurrection share;
When His chosen ones shall gather to their home beyond the skies,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.
Let me labour for the Master from the dawn till setting sun,
Let me talk of all His wondrous love and care;
Then, when all of life is over, and my work on earth is done,
And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there.
What else shall one say: Just let us be there! Living our lives to glorify God is the key to everything!
So wonderful a people God is coming for His eternal sons in such a manner that renders all satanic forces indescribably helpless. We are talking of the catching away of the saints especially the manner of the catching away. That is the subject of discussion in the next chapter. But may we shortly visit two issues and we shall be done with this chapter. And they are the need to take heed, and then two prayer points drawn from James 5: 7-8.
Taking Heed to our Ways
In Luke 12:42-48 we read: “And the Lord said, who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath. But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.” O how we must pay serious attention to our ways! As a steward or minister of the gospel let us take heed.
And indeed, all true Christian must take heed of their ways. “I will take heed to my ways” – Psalm 39: 1. And the counsel of Charles Spurgeon based on this Scripture is very timely and instructive, and something all true pilgrims should hear. In his devotional he writes powerfully and very touchingly: “Fellow-pilgrim, say not in your heart, ‘I will go hither and thither, and I shall not sin;’ for you are never so out of danger of sinning as to boast of security. The road is very miry, it will be hard to pick your path so as not to soil your garments. This is a world of pitch; you will need to watch often, if in handling it you are to keep your hands clean. There is a robber at every turn of the road to rob you of your jewels; there is a temptation in every mercy; there is a snare in every joy; and if you ever reach heaven, it will be a miracle of divine grace to be ascribed entirely to your Father's power. Be on your guard. When a man carries a bomb-shell in his hand, he should mind that he does not go near a candle; and you too must take care that you enter not into temptation. Even your common actions are edged tools; you must mind how you handle them. There is nothing in this world to foster a Christian's piety, but everything to destroy it. How anxious should you be to look up to God, that He may keep you! Your prayer should be, ‘Hold thou me up, and I shall be safe.’ Having prayed, you must also watch; guarding every thought, word, and action, with holy jealousy. Do not expose yourselves unnecessarily; but if called to exposure, if you are bidden to go where the darts are flying, never venture forth without your shield; for if once the devil finds you without your buckler, he will rejoice that his hour of triumph is come, and will soon make you fall down wounded by his arrows. Though slain you cannot be; wounded you may be. ‘Be sober; be vigilant, danger may be in an hour when all seemeth securest to thee.’ Therefore, take heed to thy ways, and watch unto prayer. No man ever fell into error through being too watchful. May the Holy Spirit guide us in all our ways, so shall they always please the Lord.”
Preparing Ourselves for Death
In Chapter 23 of The Imitation of Christ Thomas à Kempis writes about “A Meditation on Death”. In our day when men hardly think they will die and end up in either of two eternal places, may this ancient (Thomas à Kempis) come alive again, for the faith of our fathers living still:
“Very soon the end of your life will be at hand: consider, therefore, the state of your soul. Today a man is here; tomorrow he is gone. And when he is out of sight, he is soon out of mind. Oh, how dull and hard is the heart of man, which thinks only of the present, and does not provide against the future! You should order your every deed and thought, as though today were the day of your death. Had you a good conscience, death would hold no terrors for you; even so, it were better to avoid sin than to escape death. If you are not ready to die today, will tomorrow find you better prepared? Tomorrow is uncertain; and how can you be sure of tomorrow? Of what use is a long life, if we amend so little? Alas, a long life often adds to our sins rather than to our virtue!
“Would to God that we might spend a single day really well! Many recount the years since their conversion, but their lives show little sign of improvement. If it is dreadful to die, it is perhaps more dangerous to live long. Blessed is the man who keeps the hour of his death always in mind, and daily prepares himself to die. If you have ever seen anyone die, remember that you, too, must travel the same road.
Each morning remember that you may not live until evening; and in the evening, do not presume to promise yourself another day. Be ready at all times, and so live that death may never find you unprepared. Many die suddenly and unexpectedly; for at an hour that we do not know the Son of Man will come. When your last hour strikes, you will begin to think very differently of your past life, and grieve deeply that you have been so careless and remiss.
“Happy and wise is he who endeavours to be during his life as he wishes to be found at his death. For these things will afford us sure hope of a happy death; perfect contempt of the world; fervent desire to grow in holiness; love of discipline; … ready obedience; self-denial; the bearing of every trial for the love of Christ. While you enjoy health, you can do much good; but when sickness comes, little can be done. Few are made better by sickness, and those who make frequent pilgrimages seldom acquire holiness by so doing.
“Do not rely on friends and neighbours, and do not delay the salvation of your soul to some future date, for men will forget you sooner than you think. It is better to make timely provision and to acquire merit in this life, than to depend on the help of others. And if you have no care for your own soul, who will have care for you in time to come? The present time is most precious; now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation. It is sad that you do not employ your time better, when you may win eternal life hereafter. The time will come when you will long for one day or one hour in which to amend; and who knows whether it will be granted?”
‘And if you have no care for your own soul, who will have care for you in time to come’! Think seriously about it. And after salvation, genuine salvation of the soul, comes ‘perfect contempt of the world’, ‘fervent desire to grow in holiness’, ‘love of discipline’, ‘ready obedience’, ‘self-denial’ and ‘the bearing of every trial for the love of Christ’. This is the faith of our fathers, who are men of like passion anyway.
It is better to say ‘help me Lord’, and receive grace to meet at every point of Christian need than to say these things don’t matter and yet believe we can enter heaven with lifestyle that frustrates grace and attracts hell.
The Rapture and two Prayer Points
“Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” – James 5:7-8. Prayer points:
1. Lord, may I not frustrate or abuse Your patient waiting for me; and work in me now and henceforth until all earthly joy fades and all earthly tender ties breaks and perishing things of clay pass from my heart away; and Jesus, and Him alone is mine.
2. Lord, make me one of Your precious fruits; and, indeed, have all Your ways in me until You have all of me as precious fruit for You: Now, and hence eternally!
May the Holy Spirit help us to meditate on that Scripture, and the prayer points (partly taken from Jane C. Bonar’s “Jesus is Mine!” classic hymn), and help us expand the prayer points for they are actually prayer ideas! The answer to our prayers may be seen with time in how we become more and more patient in the holiness walk and progress more and more in it despite all the silent offences and violent affronts and lures from here and there; and more and more patient in consecration and holy service despite the multitude on the broad-way whose viewpoints and actions may want to discourage us. And the secret in all of that is being established in heart: A resolved and fixed heart, which we can only get and constantly renew at the throne of grace, by the Word of God and by the workings of His Holy Spirit. “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.”
May He find us faithful when He comes! May we be among the few, the ready-few, His jewels and precious fruits when He comes! May we not miss that indescribable glory and our rewards!
Igho writes from Warri.
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