The story of God’s love that led to salvation, joy and peace for my wife and me. Come and join us as we walk with God.
A love story
Our path (my dear wife’s and mine) following God over the last three years or so has been amazing. I write about it here because I believe it parallels that of many of our brethren traversing the hills of Rapture-mania. Where we have, by God’s leading, found our way out of the fog, I believe many still struggle with confusion caused by a misplaced focus. As a part of the Body of Christ, I want to share with them what this joint can supply.
I desire to see them grow in the Lord, sharing His burdens and His joy as they serve Him. We serve as His voice, hands and feet in the Earth. We must be about His business as we work to bring in the harvest.
A little background: My wife and I were born and reared in Seventh-Day Adventist homes; steeped in religion, but bereft of love. The Adventist faith sprang forth from the Great Disappointment of October 22nd, 1844; the date a group called the Millerites had calculated for the second coming of Christ. With the help of a sickly girl who reportedly had visions, they concocted their own peculiar interpretation of Revelation, which absolutely did not include what they contemptuously refer to as “the secret rapture.” It was a damage control tactic designed to prove that they hadn’t been wrong, just mistaken. You get the picture.
We both learned of righteousness by faith in the late ‘60s and were married in 1972. We walked with God and away from Adventism from that time on, but it was not until around three years ago that we began to learn the truth about the Rapture. The Lord, in His perfect timing, was leading us in that direction.
I say all of that matter of factly, but the truth is that, at a crossroads in our lives, during a time of major stress and confusion, the Lord stepped in, and just by His loving presence comforted and assured us that we were on the path that He had chosen for us.
He had already prepared our hearts to trod that path a couple of years before when He revealed the miraculously simple path to salvation revealed in the passage in Romans 10:9-10:
“…if you will confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart, one believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Rom 10:9-10 WEB
There is more there, but just these two verses stood like a fortress to rebuke the lies of legalism to which we had been exposed our entire lives. It was a rock of truth that put us on a path away from salvation by works, culminating in a blessed assurance that we were saved, irrevocably, for all time.
Shortly into our marriage, we were on the verge of walking into a wilderness. We had our meager belongings packed up and ready to go, but were not at peace about it. As we sought the Lord’s leading together, we both sensed His presence. There was nothing to see – no voice, just the sudden presence of Someone with whom we were intimately familiar; Someone we dearly loved. The sense of recognition was stunning, and surprising. It’s difficult to describe, but all we wanted to do was worship Him, and thank Him. It lasted only seconds; less than a minute.
It was on the strength of that revelation of His overwhelming love – that He was real and that we knew Him in our spirits – that we continued on our path with Him over the decades since. It carried us through many trials as our faith was tested and the Lord never failed to provide for us.
Doctrinal disputes also fell away as issues that affected our belief in God. Were the six days of Creation literal days or eras that spanned millennia? I don’t know for certain; God knows. It really doesn’t matter.
I believe He says what He means; that His word is literally true. I know He is real, He loves us, and He will see us through to the end. We are His precious possessions, and no one can pluck us out of His hands.
The Gospel of Salvation was the other miraculous joy that sustained us. Growing up in Adventism, no one ever came out and flatly declared that they were saved, because they never knew if they were, and wouldn’t know until the judgment. If someone did declare that they were saved, the reaction from everyone else would be, “Just who in Jerusalem does he think he is; sayin’ he’s saved? He must think he’s something special.”
I think of the realization that we were saved by faith as part one of the revelation of Grace to us. The complete assurance that it was irrevocable and permanent was yet to come as He revealed His passionate love for us.
Four decades later, my wife, hungry for more of the word of God, began to study the book of Revelation. In connection with that, she located websites that provided teaching on the Rapture. As she raised questions about the Rapture with me, the Holy Spirit chimed in, or maybe it was the other way around. We began to watch Robert Breaker, a good Baptist minister who, at the time, provided good solid teaching on the rudiments of eternal security and the Rapture.
We changed. Our hearts changed. Both teachings were very radical to us, given our backgrounds, but God had prepared our hearts, and we accepted those wondrous truths. We also sampled other YouTube teachers and encountered a number of watchman-type ministries who declared that God had commissioned them to report signs of the coming Rapture. Not only that, but they had proof that it was coming in the autumn of 2017! Woo Hoo!
We subscribed to one exceptionally popular teacher who seemed to be making a credible case for the occurrence of the Rapture on September 23, 2017, through a series of slickly produced videos. I’ll bet you know his name. We even traveled 600 miles to listen to him speak at a gathering of “watchmen” in Boise, Idaho, just days before the anticipated Rapture date of the Church.
We were dismayed when we realized that the audience there was Laodicea, not the collection of earnest believers we had expected. It was as if we had arrived at someone else’s family reunion. We didn’t recognize them, and they didn’t recognize us. Believers know what I mean by this. There is a bond in the Spirit between all true believers.
On the plus side, we also got to watch the total solar eclipse from atop the continental divide, which made the entire trip worthwhile. The experience was a part of God’s training as He revealed to us the perilous nature of a false gospel.
We also watched two or three different YouTube ‘dream ministries,’ two of whom provided accounts of their latest dreams on a near daily basis. We always heeded their admonition to use our own discernment regarding their offerings. Let me point out here that not a single one of their dreams about the Rapture ever came true, though every dream ever recorded in scripture has come true. I can’t believe we didn’t figure that out. Somehow, our discernment had failed us.
There were three or four other favorites we followed, though we would occasionally drop one when something they said exposed their legalistic tendencies. The guideline I used to evaluate them was whether I thought a particular ministry fed us or was just a waste of time.
Having come from a church founded on the Great Disappointment of 1844, we were probably more prepared than most when the Great Escape of 2017 fizzled into another Great Disappointment. We began to seriously reevaluate everything we had formerly believed by what we found in the bedrock of scripture.
That popular YouTube Rapture teacher with over 100,000 subscribers did some urgent damage control over the first couple of days, pointing out that the moon had actually moved into a better position ‘under her feet’ (the woman of Virgo); then he vanished – infamous, embarrassed and discredited – for at least a year. Unfortunately for him, he had hitched his wagon to a star with an expiration date. Oops.
The entire watchman community desperately shifted into high gear; throwing up one high-watch date after another. Those dates were invariably tied to one of the Jewish Feasts, an eclipse, or super blue blood moon.
The watchman movement began to die a slow and painful death as believers got burned out from the serial procession of soul-crushing disappointments. Finally, any instance of specific date-setting fell under reproach, though a few diehard watchmen continued to promote “high-watch” times.
Almost two years later, it has become ridiculous to see the most persistent “ministries” flogging (as in ‘beating a dead horse’) every earthquake, hurricane, volcano, fire, flood and other notable phenomenon as a sure sign of the Rapture; an event which has almost no legitimate scriptural signs tied to it. (The one exception was the Revelation 12 astronomical alignment of the sun, moon and five planets with the constellation Virgo. No one even saw that one coming until around 2008.)
The blessed hope of this self-appointed Rapture cadre was that if they kept promoting the Rapture in an effort to hold onto their subscribers, sooner or later they would be right! And yeah, they would be. Even a broken clock is right twice a day. How much happier would they be if they were using their influence to reach out to the unsaved and bringing souls to Christ?
Regardless of how it looks, this is not an indictment of any of our brethren or sistren. I subscribe confidently to the assumption that each of us is completely wrong about something. Even me? Yeah, even me. All have sinned… It is Satan’s earnest desire that we function as a sort of circular firing squad. In truth, I do truly love these folks with a Godly love; even the ones who are yet unsaved.
What’s that?! There are people on YouTube promoting the Rapture who are unsaved?! Probably so; it’s not for me to judge, but I do not see the fruit of the Spirit coming from their ‘ministries,’ and the Lord advised us that by their fruit, we would know them.
These watchman ministries would have gone nowhere fast if they had not had legions of followers, hungry for news of the Rapture, subscribing to their channels, and that included us. Finger pointing has no place in the Body of Christ:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who don’t walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. 2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death.” Rom 8:1 WEB (Don’t you love Romans?!)
If culpability were an issue, we are all culpable…but it isn’t. We are all on a path, following God. Sometimes we get off the path, but He is faithful. He always rescues us and guides us back into the fold.
“And above all things be earnest in your love among yourselves, for love covers a multitude of sins.” 1Pet 4:8 WEB
As God continued to lead us following the Revelation 12 disappointment, we saw our emphasis shift quickly from the Rapture to the Gospel of Salvation. He took our primary focus off of our Blessed Hope and placed it instead on sharing the Gospel. Those teachers who best survived the Revelation 12 debacle were those who had not promoted it or even voiced support for it as they preached the Good News.
Did God have a purpose for leading us down that path where, by wrongly dividing scripture, namely, replacing Israel with the Church as the target of the Jewish Feasts, we had become susceptible to a major error? I believe absolutely so.
I have learned that one of the best ways to learn to do something right is to do it wrong until you get it right. The brick walls that we repeatedly smack our heads against eventually compel us to turn to God. Failure is a powerful teacher. Even God cannot steer a parked car, and to be in motion is more important than to be right. Our sins have not been an issue to God since His beloved Son died to take them away. We are therefore free to fail until we succeed.
Believe me, that is what sanctification looks like. Like Peter, when he denied Christ before the Crucifixion, we all have human failings that need to be sifted out. The problem lies with our flesh and our immaturity in Christ. He is faithful to perform the mysterious, miraculous work of sanctification in us as we become conformed to His image.
Our checkered backgrounds and mistakes become assets as we empathetically and with the assurance of faith reach out to others in situations that God has led us through, or away from. Today is a new day. We have no sin and our only priority is to walk with God wherever He leads us from this spot. So, let’s go!
Our focus should always be the same as that of our Lord Jesus Christ. Right? First, He is preparing a home for us to be with Him:
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Cor 2:9 KJV
We would be crazy not to yearn for our release, our reward, the moment we will be freed from these painful rotting bodies with their rotten teeth, ugly knees, hairless heads and functional limitations. We literally ache to be united in perfect, supercharged, high-octane resurrection bodies with our Lord and precious ones amidst unimaginable bliss. The gates of Heaven display an “All you can eat!” sign! Believe me, there is no sin in treasuring our Blessed Hope, especially as we contemplate the many bounties our blessed Lord has showered upon us.
The problem arises when our Blessed Hope eclipses our walk with God; our obedience to Him; our submission to the trials He has ordained for our growth. Instead of looking for the escape hatch, we must instead resolve to complete the tasks He has laid before us; those good works that He has prepared before for us to walk in. “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done.”
We can break out the Blessed Hope when we need a boost, or to encourage one another, but it should be our “Come to Jesus!” emblazoned T-shirts that we put on each morning.
Most important is that element of sharing the Lord’s focus as His heart aches for the lost; those souls that He shed His blood to redeem.
“… looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb 12:2 WEB (Emphasis added)
It was His passionate love for us that fired His anticipation of the joy of spending eternity with those whom He has redeemed that led Him to lay aside His divinity. He lived a life of hardship, then suffered the rejection of His disciples, endured the shame, humiliation and mocking of his multiple trials, and died a ghastly death for us. Yet many remain to be saved before our departure, and that is where Jesus’ focus lies.
A battle is set before us, though it is not ours to fight. One of the most contentious issues that pops up in the comment sections of most YouTube videos is that of once saved, always saved (OSAS). The reason for this is that it is the single issue that continues to hold so many people in chains. It is the dividing line between the true Gospel and a false gospel.
The phony gospel of good works is a powerful means of discouraging those considering a walk with God. Think about it: compared with the current situation, how many people do you think you’d see shopping for beachfront mansions on Oahu if they knew they were free and there was an unlimited supply? Plus, you could never be evicted!
Commenters/combatants in these threads subscribe to, teach, or argue the claim that the blood of Christ alone is inadequate to save us. “Get real dude! You also have to keep the Ten Commandments!” they wrongly insist. This doctrine is that ‘different gospel’ about which Paul warned us and declared that anyone teaching it should be “accursed” (Check out this article for a complete presentation of this truth). OSAS is not an insignificant side issue like the identity of the Antichrist. It is a critical salvation issue and a dividing line between sound doctrine and the lies of Satan.
Spreading the message of the simple and free gift of salvation, the message of how passionately Jesus loves each of us, how He died a gruesome death to save us to the uttermost, must be our focus if we wish to serve our Lord and grow up into the full stature of the Body of Christ. All of Heaven rejoices each time a sinner comes to Jesus. As we take His yoke upon us, that will become a source of joy to us, too.
Having said all of that, what’s the point? Well, is your life focused on serving God, or are you stubbornly waiting, impatient for Him to rescue you? Are you still watching anyone whose videos focus primarily on the timing of the Rapture or purported signs of the Rapture? How can you not be completely burnt out on the same old claims that never fail to disappoint? It’s as if you were standing, bags packed, at the Rapture departure gate at the airport instead of laboring in the field, bringing in the harvest.
Selfishly refusing to seek God about the trials in their lives, insisting rather that He Rapture them out of here, is the thing that is stunting the growth of many believers. The answer to all of this is to look to the Lord. Abandon your futile focus on the Rapture-pot that refuses to boil.
Brace yourself: The Rapture could still be years away, or it may not even happen in your lifetime. Yes, that’s a possibility. While I am still earnestly convinced that it will happen soon, we have to be busy about our Father’s business as He draws souls to Jesus.
The state of the world cannot be the yardstick we use to gauge our proximity to the Rapture. For example, though things look bad now, I cannot imagine that it compares
with the dark state of things the world over during World War II; a period that saw the use of a weapon of unprecedented mass destruction. It also saw the deaths
of an estimated seventy to eighty million people, and that started around 80 years ago. It cannot be the subjective evaluation of a particular event that distinguishes it as a sign of the coming Tribulation.
The one real sign of the Tribulation that we do have is that Israel has been regathered to her homeland, established again among the nations of the Earth after nearly two millennia of invisibility. God is never a second late in fulfilling His promises, but His perceived slowness can be taxing on us as we resolve to endure.
We will be here until the “fullness of the Gentiles”; a borderline that only God can see. In the meantime, we need to occupy. Maintain your home, get your teeth cleaned, get your oil changed, lose some weight, and plan for your old age. Send your kid to college or go to school yourself and earn a degree.
Most important: walk with God, grow in grace, study His word and be ready to reach out to someone or speak up when He prods you. Eliminate toxic elements from your life; those people and situations that drain the life out of you. The more you learn to surrender your will to God and submit to His leading, the more joyful your life will become.
One other thing: Our Blessed Hope is not the same thing as the Gospel of Salvation. By that, I mean that preaching about the Rapture is not the message that will bring souls to Christ. The unsaved barely even know what the Rapture is, and if they have heard of it, it was likely in a derogatory context.
One sister told me that her purpose was to awaken people to the imminence of the Rapture, but to me that looks like rattling the cages of people claiming a relationship with Christ; those with a form of godliness who deny the saving power of Jesus. In most cases, they lunge against the bars, snarling at you for disturbing their sleep. Is that really the Lord’s intended audience for His message of Grace?
It distresses me to see so many popular YouTube ministries squandering their opportunity to share the Gospel of Salvation as they continue to post incendiary-titled videos, excitedly sounding the alarm that the latest earthquake is a sure sign that This is it! We’re outta here!
Share the miracle of your own salvation, the evidence of Jesus’ passionate love for you, and the thoughtful ways in which He cares for you. Share the peace and sublime joy that springs from the total assurance of your irrevocable salvation. Show them the serene peace you enjoy, even in the face of loss or death. You can tell them about the Blessed Hope, but share Jesus first. An ounce of testimony is worth a pound of preaching.
It’s mostly about the love story, not the wedding. No story about a Princess who gets her Prince begins with the wedding. It begins with wooing, then a rescue, then happily ever after. Tell them your story.
With this shift of focus, your frustration over the seemingly endless waiting will be vastly diminished. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, you can do two things at once. You can follow the leading of His voice as you continue to occupy; winning souls that He puts in your path. You can, at the same time win the crown of righteousness promised to those who love Jesus appearing as you watch earnestly for Him, and by enduring through these final days of service, obtain the deliverance in the Rapture that He has promised as He delivers us from the hour of testing that is coming on the whole world. Your joy will be in pleasing God and doing His will. What could be better?
Once we are united with our Lord, this whole life will look like a blip in time and our only regret will be that we didn’t do more to share His love. C’mon, let’s get the job done and get out of here.
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- “If Lost”/https://www.etsy.com/listing/464088317/
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