13 ... but he that putteth his trust in me shall possess the land, and shall inherit my holy mountain;
14 And shall say, Cast ye up, cast ye up, prepare the way, take up the stumblingblock out of the way of my people.
15 For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
We have said in other articles that Israel is a type of the Church. That this means there are places where Israel is mentioned that you can also apply to the Church.
Consider this next example. Here is a long passage from second Corinthians that compares the old and new covenants, and how spiritual blindness keeps you from understanding.
2 Corinthians 3:6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
7 But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:
8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?
9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.
10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.
11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.
12 Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:
13 And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:
14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.
15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.
16 Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.
17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
Here we see the features of the old covenant listed and described. It is the letter of the law ;it kills. You see it described as The ministration of death and the ministration of condemnation. This means it offers, serves up, or brings condemnation and death. It is the two tablets written in stone.
The new covenant's traits include the ministration of righteousness. This is saying the same as what we read elsewhere, that no man is justified by the works of the law. Under the old covenant no one could be saved. Only the new covenant brings righteousness or salvation.
4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.
Then starting with verse 13 and on through 16, there is a discussion of a veil that produces a form of blindness.
2 Corinthians 3:13 And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:
So what is this verse saying here? 'That which is abolished' is the old covenant, the law. And what is 'the end' of the law?
Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
This blindness, kept them from seeing Christ, who is the end of the Law. Verse 14 mentions the reading of the old testament; and verse 15 says when Moses is read. This can mean that there is a certain blindness that prevents them from seeing the messiah revealed in the verses of scripture. More precisely, it kept them from seeing their messiah when he came.
11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not. This is the same spiritual blindness mentioned in Romans 11. Romans 11:7-10
7 What then ? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded
8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.
9 And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them:
10 Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back alway. Romans 11:25
25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
This is how the idea that Messiah had to suffer and die becomes a stumbling block.
1 Corinthians 1:23
But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; Romans 9:31-33
31 But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness.
32 Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone;
33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
Having said all this, what if we now look back at our comparison of Israel and the Church? What could we conclude might affect the church if she follows the pattern that Israel followed? One answer is that there is a similar blindness in the church that prevents them also from understanding the scriptures. One aspect of this is that the books are sealed.
There are three references to sealed book(s) in the Old Testament. The most well known is that in Daniel. Here is part of it:
Daniel 12:4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, even to the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased."
We find two references in Isaiah on the same topic.
Isaiah 8:16 Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.
10 For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes; the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath He covered.
11 And the vision of all has become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one that is learned, saying, "Read this, I pray thee"; and he saith, "I cannot, for it is sealed."
12 And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, "Read this, I pray thee"; and he saith, "I am not learned."
These verses which are spoken regarding Israel, have just much meaning when applied to the Church. As you compare the two, today's church is just as backslidden and far from hearing the spirit as ancient Israel was.
To see this we must look carefully at the Stumbling Block. What exactly is this Stumbling Block? You will find it mentioned in quite a few places in the bible. Sometimes it's called by slightly different names but they all link together. Isaiah 8 uses the phrase stone of stumbling and also a rock of offense. We find it in the same context we quoted from above having to do with sealing the law.
13 Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.
14 And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
15 And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.
16 Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.
The idea here is that because they stumbled or were offended, the testimony or law is sealed and kept from their understanding. This is exactly what we just reading about from Second Corinthians 3.
2 Corinthians 3:14-15
14 But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.
15 But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.
So, what is the stumbling block? If you look back at Isaiah 8: 13-14 just above you will see that it is the Lord himself.
Their problem was they worshiped the Torah [Law] rather than God. So they could not recognize their God when He stood before them.
37 And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.
38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.
39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
They could search the scriptures, even memorize them, and still not see that they point to Jesus.
What was it about their messiah that offended them, and that they were unwilling to accept? The idea that Messiah had to suffer and die is the problem. Here we see that attitude expressed by Peter in Matthew 16.
21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.
22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.
23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
24 Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
Notice that right after rebuking Peter, Jesus turn the topic to his followers doing likewise. He points out that we must be willing to lose our lives also. This is the parallel stumbling block for the church, being willing to die with him.
In John 2 there is a very interesting hint. John 2:19-22
19 Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
20 Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?
22 When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.
Here He is speaking of the destruction and restoration of the temple. And it tells us this stands for the death and resurrection of the temple of his body. Could this mean the Body of Christ, the church?
The stumbling block for the Jews is Christ Crucified. That it the idea that the Messiah had to die. As Israel is a type of the church, the stumbling block for the church is that the body of Christ must die.
To be more exact the stumbling block for the Jews is Christ and him Crucified. Two ideas here. The Messiah, and the idea that Messiah has to suffer and die. For the church, the stumbling block is the Lordship of Jesus, and the idea that the church must die.
But the church is unwilling to face this because of fear. The stumbling block reflects the fear of death. Hebrews tells us this is how Satan holds us in bondage.
14 Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
15 And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.
The stumbling stone is also called the corner stone, that is laid in Zion. It speaks of his death and of his lordship. For after the death, he gained all authority and power. And upon this rock, he will build the church.
16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.
6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.
7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner,
8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
Note that verse 8 above mentions being disobedient as a cause of stumbling. They stumble at the word through being unwilling to obey it. This is saying in effect, being unwilling to obey it will keep you from understanding it. In John 7, Jesus speaks of revelation coming to the willing, also linking understanding with willingness.
16 Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.
17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.
The unwilling cannot know his will or understand his Word. Thus unwillingness produces spiritual blindness. Zechariah 4:6-9
6 Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.
7 Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.
8 Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
9 The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you.
The quote from Zechariah is talking about the same cornerstone, the foundation of the church, but it uses the term headstone. This speaks of Jesus as the head stone or chief corner stone. This is what is meant in Peter where it says the head of the corner.
Now back to Matthew 16:
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Here Peter has a Revelation Of Jesus Christ. And he sees that Jesus is Messiah and Lord. Although at that point, as we have seen, he does not yet see that Jesus must die. Then Jesus speaks of the rock, himself. He is saying He will build the church, [when it becomes willing], upon the sure foundation stone, himself.
There are a lot of theories about the fate of the church or the saints in the end times. You have Pre Trib, Mid Trib, Pre Wrath, Post Trib, etc. etc. All these put forth a catching away of the believers at some point. This totally skirts around the key issue of martyrdom. The only reason we have any of these escape theories is because of this stumbling block. We are not willing to face up to what the bible tells us.
And what does the bible say? We could list lots of references and ask you to look them up, but it's just as easy, using computer technology to give them in full, even if it takes up a little space.
19 Then I would know the truth of the fourth beast, which was diverse from all the others, exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet;
20 And of the ten horns that were in his head, and of the other which came up, and before whom three fell; even of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows.
211 beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them;
22 Until the Ancient of days came, and judgment was given to the saints of the most High; and the time came that the saints possessed the kingdom.
23 And in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full, a king of fierce countenance, and understanding dark sentences, shall stand up.
24 And his power shall be mighty, but not by his own power: and he shall destroy wonderfully, and shall prosper, and practise, and shall destroy the mighty and the holy people.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 24:9
9 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.
35 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.
29 And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's,
30 But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.
38 But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with ?
39 And they said unto him, We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized:
9 But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them.
10 And the gospel must first be published among all nations.
11 But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.
12 Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death.
13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
33 Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.
16 And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.
25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.
38 Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? John 15:20
20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.
16 For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.
17 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.
18 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.
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
39 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.
11 beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
16 That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.
2 Corinthians 1:3-7
3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort;
4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
5 For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.
6 And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.
7 And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation.
2 Corinthians 4:8-11
8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair;
9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
11 For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
2 Timothy 3:12
12 Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
2 Timothy 2:10-12
10 Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.
11 It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him:
12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:
29 For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;
8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
1 Thessalonians 3:3-4
3 That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.
4 For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.
2 Thessalonians 1:4-8
4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:
5 Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:
6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;
7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
How does Hebrews describe the Heroes of Faith?
35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
1 Peter 2:20-21
20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
1 Peter 3:14
14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;
1 Peter 4:1
1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
1 Peter 4:12-19
12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
13 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.
14 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.
15 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.
16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
17 For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?
18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.
I John 3:16
16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
II He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.
9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?
11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
Now here is a very crucial section for understanding this whole business.
10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
They overcome the accuser, Satan, by being willing to die. And not just being willing to die, but by dying willingly. We said earlier that Satan has the power of death, and holds men in bondage by the fear of death. God is not looking for survivors or those who want to escape. He is looking for overcomers. The overcomers here have no fear of death, because they are willing to die. And of course, this should be obvious, how do you prove or demonstrate that you have no fear of death? You do it by dying without fear!
4 And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast, saying, Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him?
5 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.
6 And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.
7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.
6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.
4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
We have cited about 40 passages to answer this question, what does the bible say? Over and over and over and over we read about suffering, persecution and martyrdom. This is not a trivial issue here, it's a major bible theme.
Compared to this, the escape theories have very few scriptures they draw upon. All of them will cite this next passage from Thessalonians.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
Now notice the words in bold here. Those who are alive and remain are caught up. What that really means is that there is a remnant that is caught up. A remnant is a tiny percentage that remain alive after all the persecution during the tribulation of those days. We're not talking about multitudes here folks, we are talking about a few stragglers.
Let's spell this out here. The major thrust of all these prophetic scriptures points to persecution, suffering, and martyrdom. Once we are willing to fact the facts, bite the bullet or whatever. We will see that all these escape theories are nothing more than obvious fraud.
The blessed hope of the church is the resurrection of the dead at the return of Christ.
So how do we get past this stumbling block? What does it take to transform the believer into an obedient servant? There are a couple of ways to express it.
One is Grace! Another is the perfect love of God, imparted to us bye the Holy Spirit poured out in the last days. For perfect love casts out all fear. Another way to say it is found in the title of the last book The Revelation of Jesus Christ.
Can you see how Paul is a type of the last days church? Here you have a guy who was extremely religious, and naturally he was doing the typical religious thing. That is he was persecuting those he didn't agree with. And so you find him on the road to Damascus, [a type of the world], following the way of the world. Then something special happened.
Paul had a Revelation Of Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus. Acts 9:3-6
3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:
4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?
5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
After that he was totally transformed into an obedient servant of the Lord. The evidence is right there in his words, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?
He learns directly from the Spirit of God, and goes through all the world preaching. Finally, the persecution catches up with him and he is ready and willing to face martyrdom. He obeys Romans 12:1 and offers himself a living sacrifice. This is exactly the pattern that the end time church will go through.
2 Timothy 4:6-8
6 For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 71 have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.
This long passage from Peter deals with faith, and the salvation to be revealed, and ties it in with Grace and the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:3-13
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
6 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:
7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
10 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:
11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
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