This is a note recently shared with a sister…
Hi Linda, with regard to “the rapture,” the scriptures certainly reveal a “catching up” of the saints, but the truth regarding this seems to be a far cry from what is actually being taught in the pulpits. In order for this “catching up” to heaven to make sense to many of us, it seems as though we must radically depart from what has been traditionally taught to us about “heaven.” It is not a far away glittering jewel studded city with streets of gold, pearly gates, and our own personalized mansions prepared for us to someday relocate to. No, heaven is simply another term for THE SPIRIT REALM. It speaks of the entire spiritual dimension (with all of its varying degrees) which envelopes and influences all of this natural creation, but whose presence and influence generally goes unnoticed by it.
With regard to the highest of heavenly places, if we are destined to be of those blessed saints “caught up” to the throne of God at the end of this age, we will be caught up into A HIGH AND HOLY REALM OF THE SPIRIT, which does not require that our physical bodies necessarily go anywhere. Jesus revealed something to Nicodemus about this, and this is that a spiritual man can be “caught up” in union with the Father in heaven while still being present physically upon the earth. Jesus told Nicodemus (and us by extension) that even though His physical body was upon the earth He experienced unbroken fellowship with the Father IN HEAVEN simultaneously. For Jesus, there was no veil to separate the highest heavenly realm from the earthy realm. He was truly an example of heaven touching earth in the form of a man, and a pattern Son for many sons, who will likewise go beyond the veil which separates the natural and the spiritual while remaining fully cognizant of both realms. This is describing the Zadok Priesthood of Ezekiel 44, by the way.
Even now there are those who are pressing in for the high calling of God in Christ Jesus by entering into the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings, being made conformable to His death, this so that they might also be partakers of His glorious resurrection life. These saints are not hoping to be raptured away from trouble into the clouds, for they know that trouble is what brings them into rapturous fellowship with the Father and that IN THIS WAY THEY BECOME THE CLOUDS in whom the Lord shall come with great power and glory and through whom every eye shall see HIM (for they shall be like Him).
It is through these (this cloud of witnesses) that the “greater works” spoken of by the Lord Jesus will be performed, and these great exploits shall be seen by others while IN THE MIDST of the world’s trials and great tribulations. In other words, God is not going to remove the overcoming saints from tribulation, but rather, He will protect them and He will use them for His glory in the midst of it all. Did Jesus not pray, “Father, I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one” (John 17:15) or did He not?
By the way, the word used for “keep” in John 17:15 is the Greek word “tereo” which means to “watch, guard and protect.” IT DOES NOT MEAN TO REMOVE! This is the exact same word used in Revelation 3:10 where the Lord makes the promise to a remnant of believers that He will “keep” them (watch over, guard and protect them) from the hour of testing that will come upon the whole earth. This verse does not speak of divine evacuation from tribulation, but of divine protection in the midst of it.
It is certainly now the time for us to LOOK UP for our redemption draws nigh, Linda. Our salvation (full salvation) is surely now much closer than when we first believed, but that does not mean that we should be looking up into the sky for the coming of Christ. It means to FIX OUR VISION ON THE THINGS OF THE SPIRIT (a higher realm than this natural one) so that we might understand the manner of the Lord’s coming in this day.
There has been great misconception regarding the “coming of Christ” in the church, primarily because most Christians, for some reason, cannot comprehend that “Christ” is a many membered body of whom Jesus Christ is the Head. In the scriptures when the definite article “the” is used with “Christ,” it speaks of Jesus Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah. But when the scriptures refer to “Christ,” they are usually referring to the collective Christ, the Head (Jesus Christ) in union with His fully matured body of believers. This corporate expression of Christ has not yet been made manifest in the earth, not the full expression anyway, but it will.
On another note, did you know that the term “second coming” cannot be found anywhere in the scriptures? Religious men made that up.