||휴거/ 데이빗 브리스
by David Breese
A stunning event is quickly approaching for our world! That event will be thrilling beyond measure
to every Christian. It will be dismaying and most frightening, however, to each person in the
world who has not believed the gospel and has not become, thereby, a possessor of eternal life. We
have come to call that event "the rapture of the Church." It is that coming awesome moment that
enables us to promise that there is a generation of Christians who win not die. Rather, they will
be caught up while yet in their living physical bodies, taken suddenly from this world to meet
face to face with the Lord Jesus Christ. They will meet Him in the air and then be personally
escorted by Christ, the Maker of the universe, into heaven and the presence of God. The fact that
the Bible describes in the clearest terms the utter reality of this event cannot be denied by
clever detractors or contradicted by coy pretenders to faith. Rather, this promised event of the
catching away of Christians is the right and proper source of great anticipation on the part of
genuine believers across the world of our time.
The Hope of the Christian
The subject of the rapture of the Church was introduced to believers in the New Testament era in a
most interesting fashion as the answer to a critical doctrinal question. I low did that question
In the early days of the Church, the believers had a general knowledge about the coming of the
Lord, the end of the world, and the consummation of history. They paid no attention to any theory
that argued the world has been here forever and would, in like fashion, go on interminably.
The disciples one day asked Christ, "Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the
sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" (Matt. 24:3).
With this question, the disciples revealed that they wisely did not believe the various views of
the uniformity and eternity of nature - false doctrine that was floating in that time and
continues today. The disciples were very conscious that existence on earth, and even the existence
of earth itself, was a finite and passing thing. Their knowledge that the world would come to an
end is obvious from their question. Our Lord himself instructed us that this view is true.
Christ's response to the disciples' questions compose what we know today as the Olivet Discourse,
two full chapters in Matthew's Gospel account. The general view of the consummation of things,
however, becomes more refined in the epistles of the New Testament.
In the letters of the New Testament writers to the early churches, we see the emergence of a
people who are given a very special destiny by the Lord. These people came to be
called "Christians," believers in Jesus Christ who constitute a mysterious entity in our world
called "the Church." Of this the apostle Paul speaks when he says that, following Christ's
crucifixion, His burial, and His resurrection, our Lord has taken His seat at the right hand of
Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not
only in this world, but also in that which in to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and
gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fullness of him that
filleth all in all (Eph.1:21-23).
Out of the wounded side of Jesus Christ, God created a totally marvelous entity, which is called
in Scripture the body of Christ. The existence of the body of Christ, however, was unknown and
unforeseen by the prophets in Old Testament days. It was a "mystery, which from the beginning of
the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now
unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold
wisdom of God" (Eph.,3:9-10).
Christians are, therefore, instructed that they five in a very special age in which God is taking
out of the world a people for His name and forming them together into a mysterious and beautiful
living entity in the world, the body of Christ himself. One of the less-realized, but most
wonderful, aspects of Christianity is that to be a Christian is to be in indissoluble union with
God through Christ.,
The Believer's Destiny
The New Testament Christians were then instructed that they were inheritors of a stupendous
eternal destiny. Speaking to them, the apostle Paul said, "He that spared not his own Son, but
delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Rom.
So, wonder of wonders, the Christians are to inherit not merely the world, which is the case with
Israel, but they are inheritors of the universe. "All things" are in the process of being given to
them by the Lord, the totality of which Will one day be their inheritance. Expanding on this, the
apostle Paul said to the Corinthians,
... For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or
death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ's; and Christ is
God's (1 Cor. 3:21-23).
This awesome destiny of the believer needs to be better understood by Christians today. One of the
greatest motivations for the believer to live a splendid Christian life is a sense of the eternal
destiny that is his. Every one of us should be lifted up from ordinary circumstances by reading
that the Bible says, For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof
we speak. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him?
or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou
crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: Thou hast put
all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left
nothing that is not put under him ... (Heb. 2:5-8).
What then is God doing today in the light of the bright destiny that He has prepared for us? The
answer is that He is bringing many sons into glory (Heb. 2:10). All of the events of life are,
therefore, calculated by God to produce maturity in His sons in preparation for the rulership of
What wonder must have progressively taken over the minds of the members of the New Testament body
of Christ as they thought of their destiny. Living as ordinary, lowly individuals in Corinth,
Athens, Rome, or the provinces of Galatia, they are now offered a greater hope beyond this life.
Some of them were wicked sinners, prostitutes, whorermongers, thieves, and even tax collectors.
Out of their degenerate pasts, the believers crossed over the bridge of faith in Jesus Christ to
become heirs of God.
Coming from nothing, from a life of sin, they were overwhelmed with the teaching that, as a gift
from God, they possessed eternal life and along with it, the never-to-fade riches of the universe.
They were even promised by Jesus Christ that they would never die. Had not He said,
I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he
live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? (John 11:25-
Their understanding of future glory was expanded by reading from the apostle Paul about the work
of Jesus Christ, Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our
works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the
world began, But now is made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath
abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Tim. 1:9-
Receiving letters like this and listening to the face-to-face teaching of the apostle Paul, these
early Christians pursued with joy and astonishment the truth of the resurrection of Christ and,
therefore, of their own personal resurrection.
What About Those Who Have Died?
Five years, ten years, twenty years had gone by, and Christ had not come. Believers were burying
their brothers and sisters as the inevitable ending of life took place for one Christian after
another. Those first Christian funerals must have been most moving occasions. But they also
produced a series of questions in the minds of the believers still alive.
These Christians, knowing that their departed loved ones were present with the Lord, wondered how
they would share in the coming of Christ. They were certainly also concerned about when these
departed loved ones would be resurrected from the dead. The bodies were in the grave, and their
spirits were with Christ.
Jesus was coming again; therefore, the believers asked, "How does the coming of Christ for His
church relate to those Christians who have gone before? How do those who have already died in
Christ share in the moment of His return with those who are yet alive? Is there a special
resurrection for the Christian?" These were understandable concerns and, to be sure, concerns that
remain today among untutored believers.
The New Testament Christians corresponded with the apostle Paul, asking him about those who had
died and how they will share in the return of Christ. We can rejoice in this because we have
Paul's answer to the questions about death and resurrection that were raised by the early
A Special Resurrection
In the letter of the apostle Paul to the saints of Thessalonica, given by divine revelation, he
revealed that wonderful truth of the special resurrection of believing Christians:
But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye
sorrow not, even as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again,
even so them also who sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word
of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them
which are asleep. 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: Then we who 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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words (1 Thess.
This passage presents the truth of the rapture of the Church. What lessons can we learn from
Paul's writing? They certainly include the following:
1) Spiritual ignorance is not complimented in the Word of God. By paying attention to the sure
word of prophecy that God has given us in His Word, we can become knowledgeable, rather than
2) Christians who have died are with the Lord, and they will be brought by Christ to the Rapture.
Many Christians are concerned about the location and state of mind of departed loved ones even
today. The Scriptures reassure us that they are "safe in the arms of Jesus" and are tenderly cared
for by Him. 3) Christ will descend from heaven to meet believers in the air. Notice that the Lord
Jesus does not return the entire distance to this world but, rather, awaits that rendezvous in the
air and will catch us up to that point of greeting and reunion. We can, therefore, suggest that
this moment of tender reunion will not be observed by the people of earth. Indeed, even their
observation would profane so holy an occasion.
4) The Rapture will be the occasion of the resurrection of believers. One of the cardinal
doctrines of the Christian faith is that of the resurrection of the body. This resurrection for
believers will be on the identical occasion of the Rapture, at The Rapture which time the bodies
of Christians, glorified, will be reunited with their spirits which have been in the presence of
5) The Rapture will reunite believers with loved ones who have died in Christ. First, we will have
the opportunity to greet one another, and together we will then be taken into the presence of
Jesus Christ and into the presence of God.
6) This event will unite believers with Christ, never again to be separated. One of the great
promises of the Rapture is that we will be present with the Lord, no longer to walk by faith but,
rather, by sight. What an awesome occasion that Will be, as John discovered when he met the Lord
on the occasion of the writing of the Book of the Revelation (Rev. 1:9-18).
By so writing, Paul gave us the classic passage in the New Testament that tens us in no uncertain
terms that there is a generation of Christians who will not die. Rather, they will be caught up
into the presence of Christ along with resurrected believers whom Christ will bring with Him when
He comes for that last set of living Christians who will be alive when Christ comes for His
The Mystery Revealed
We must note that the doctrine of the catching up of the Church was a mystery, which in this
passage was made known to people who already knew the general outline of the prophetic future.
This is clear because Paul says that,
But of the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves
know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night (1 Thess.5:1-2).
This same message, that of the hitherto unannounced rapture of the Church, is also emphasized by
the apostle Paul when he wrote to the Corinthians. He said,
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, Ina 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 Cor. 15:51-52).
As we have noticed, the general message of the coming of the Lord was no mystery; the
Thessalonians knew this perfectly well. The mystery was that the Church, in the form of the last
generation of living Christians, was to be instantly transported and transformed without
experiencing physical death itself.
By this, it then becomes clear in Scripture that God has produced a special entity in the world,
the body of Christ, and for that Body, He has a special destiny. That destiny is to inherit all
things and to participate in the rulership of the universe one day.
What a joy this truth became to the members of the early Church. We know that the first Christians
were called upon to live for Christ in the midst of adverse circumstances. Sometimes, they were
the object of severe persecution, even martyrdom. Because of the blessed hope which they now
understood, they could receive the Word in much affliction, continuing to rejoice despite their
From their example, the lesson is clear that one derives joy not from present cooperating
circumstances but from the promise of the prophetic Word. The believing Christian knows that the
fleeting joys and the temporary adversities of this world are to be accounted as little by
comparison to the joy that awaits us when we step into the presence of Christ. The apostle Paul
says this most strongly:
For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man may perish, yet the inward man is renewed
day by day. 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 (2 Cor. 4:16-18).
The best of this life is not then to be compared with the joys of the future. This life is not
final reality, it is the prelude to that reality. The worst circumstances imaginable in this world
are but light affliction that lasts but for a moment. Reality, fullness of joy, comes to us from
God when we pass from this life into the life to come.
The Body of Christ
We learn, therefore, from the Word of God, that the Lord has produced a special period of time,
which is the Church Age. During that period of time, there is being fashioned by God himself that
wonderful entity, the body of Christ.
When the body of Christ is complete, of which each believer is a member, we win be caught up into
heaven to be with Christ. The bodies of those who have gone before will be resurrected, and a
living generation of Christians will be caught up without dying to meet with those who have gone
before to be taken by Christ into heaven.
There is an exact moment when this completion of the body of Christ will happen. That moment, at
this present time known only to God, will bring the translation of the body of Christ into heaven.
All believers at that moment will move from the Church militant to the Church triumphant.
In eternity, the believers will realize their true destiny: to be the inheritors and the co-rulers
of the universe with Jesus Christ. It is no small thing to be a Christian! Believing in Jesus
Christ is not merely the emotion of a moment, it is to be eternally joined with God himself and
literally a partaker of the divine nature. It is to have the hope of eternal life, which God, who
cannot lie, promised before the world began.
The proper attitude, therefore, of the believer is to brightly anticipate the joys of heaven. The
proper sentiment is also to allow for the possibility that, "Perhaps today, perhaps this very
hour, I will be caught up into the presence of Christ and so to be with Him forever."
Let us remember, then, that there is not one but two possible ways in which the believer will go
to heaven. One of them is via physical death. Concerning this, we ought not to be afraid because,
in fact, the Christian does not die. Christ has abolished death and promised that when we believe
in Him, we will never die. The Christian, even in "dying," does not even lose consciousness but
discovers the marvelous truth that absent from the body is present with the Lord.
The other possibility for going to heaven is the Rapture, the catching up of the Church into the
presence of Christ. So thrilling is this prospect that we ought to learn more about this event in
which many of us may well participate. Happily them though there are many related questions
concerning the Rapture, we can discover the answer by looking into the blessed pages of the Word
What Is the Tribulation?
We have learned that the Rapture is the method by which Christ will take that last generation of
believing Christians home to be with himself. There is little disagreement by those who pay the
proper, studious respect to the Word of God that the Bible teaches the physical transport of
believers from the earth to heaven. That is a fact which is presented undeniably and without
apology in the Scriptures.
The questions which then arise have to do with the timing of the Rapture. People ask, "When?" The
Rapture event is the object of much discussion with reference to the timing, relative to a special
era in history called "the Tribulation." Therefore, the question often takes the form of "Will
Christians go through the Tribulation?" and "Will Christ come for His own before the Tribulation?"
and other related concerns.
To discover the answers to these questions, we must think concerning the basic question, "What is
the Tribulation?" A proper understanding of the days of the Tribulation can go a long way toward
answering the question of the timing of the Rapture relative to the Tribulation. What then is "the
Tribulation" so commonly spoken of in Scripture?
The 69th Week
The first and most basic answer to that question is that the Tribulation is the seventieth week of
the prophecy of Daniel. One of the most consolidated histories of the world, of the divine
intention, is found in that prophecy.
Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression,
and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting
righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy (Dan. 9:24).
Here we have the goals that God is determined to fulfill in that seventy-week period of time that
will bring us to the consummation of history.
Daniel's prophecy says that a most notable and tragic event will take place at the end of the
sixty-ninth week, namely that Messiah shall be cut off. So the somber prediction of the death of
the Messiah of Israel, Jesus Christ, is presented to us by the prophet Daniel. So stunning is this
event, so awesome a proof of the rebellion and sin of the people of God that the crucifixion of
the Son of God stops the clock of prophecy.
On the occasion of the death of Christ, the veil of the temple was rent in twain, split from top
to bottom, and the program of God for His people, the Jews, came to an abrupt halt. The
unspeakably sad result is pictured in most moving fashion in Matthew's Gospel, presenting us the
words of Christ.
Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them who are sent unto thee,
how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under
her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye
shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord
Here we have Christ stating in advance the results of the rejection of their Messiah by the Chosen
People of God. Their house would be left unto them desolate!
So it is that the house of Israel has been left desolate now for nearly 2,000 years. The children
of Israel have been scattered across the world and have been subject to calumny, persecution, and
rejection in nearly every nation of the world. This period of time has been the era of Israel
being cut off from the true vine and the Church grafted in.
During the Church Age, therefore, God has had no specific program with the nation of Israel.
Rather, in this day of grace, He has been calling both Jew and Gentile to faith in Jesus Christ as
the Saviour of the world. All who so believe in this day are members of the body of Christ.
But God has not entirely forsaken His people. He has one last cycle of discipline for Israel. That
period of discipline will come during Daniel's seventieth week, the week of the Tribulation.
The Time of Jacob's Trouble
The Tribulation is, therefore, the time of Jacob's trouble. Jeremiah says, "Alas! for that day is
great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob's trouble; but he shall be saved out
of it" (Jer. 30:7).
Israel is held responsible by the Lord, along with the Gentiles, for the crucifixion of Christ.
This is the reason for the awesome silence of Jehovah in relating to His people during the two
millennia that have transpired since the death of Christ. Clearly, however, the Word of God
declares that God has not finally and completely cast away His people.
Indeed, the Scripture speaks of the casting away of Israel and announced that that produced the
reconciling of the world. The Scripture then speaks of the receiving of Israel, which will be life
from the dead for the nations. Israel moved into a period of blindness and estrangement from God
until a point of time called the fullness of the Gentiles (Rom.11:25).
At this point, God promises to work in goodness and severity with His people so that, under the
discipline of the n a on, Israel will be brought to a place of decision and faith. This is always
the intention of divine discipline for His own, in any era of history.
The Tribulation, then, will be a time of the conversion of Israel. Most boldly, the Scripture
And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer,
and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob; For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take
away their sins (Rom. 11:26-27).
The Tribulation will, therefore, be a time of great spiritual revival. It will mark the conversion
of Israel and great activity by Israel for the conversion of the world.
The Book of The Revelation, therefore, announces an amazing multitude of 144,000 witnesses who
represent the twelve tribes of Israel. These will have been converted during the days of the
Tribulation and will have a profound effect upon the world. When one remembers that there is only
a fraction of this number of Christian missionaries in the world today, one is impressed with the
zealous response that will come out of Israel in the form of faith in Jesus Christ as its
Messiah. "The gospel of the Kingdom" will be preached with great zeal by them to the world.
The Tribulation will also be a time of massive conversion of Gentile multitudes. The Revelation
says, after this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations,
and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with
white robes, and palms in their hands (Rev. 7:9).
So remarkable is this sight that one of the elders around God's throne asked who these people are.
The answer from the Word of God is: "These are they who came out of the great tribulation, and
have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Rev. 7:14).
Amazing spiritual results occur when the world comes to the end of itself, realizing that nothing
on earth any value. It then turns in great numbers to faith in Christ as Messiah, bringing in a
time of evangelism that will be one of the largest and most effective in the history of the world.
The anguish of the Tribulation produces a most salutary result. But a fearful time it will be!
God's Wrath Poured Forth
The Tribulation is the time of the outpouring of the wrath of God upon a wicked world. In the
account of the horsemen of the Apocalypse, when the fourth horseman rides forth, the Scripture
says, power was given unto them over the fourth part of die. earth to kill with sword, and with
hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth (Rev. 6 8).
In the beginning days of the Revelation, therefore, approximately 25 percent of the world is
killed in the opening wars pestilences of days. Very quickly, the Scripture says,
And thus I saw the horses in the vision, and them that sat on them, having breastplates of fire,
and of jacinth, and brimstone: and the heads of the horses were as the heads of lions; and out of
their mouths issued fire and smoke and brimstone. By these three was the third part of men killed,
by the fire, and by the smoke, and by the brimstone, which issued out of their mouths (Rev. 9:17-
A third part of men killed! This already mounts up to one half of the world's population, and
beyond this point in the Revelation many other natural catastrophes take place. As the Tribulation
unfolds, there are mighty earthquakes, occasions of scorching heat, the advent of the Antichrist,
world occult religious organization, and finally, the Battle of Armageddon, which will be fatal to
scores of millions of soldiers. This time of natural catastrophe combined with divine judgment
will bring awesome carnage across the face of the earth.
The Day of the Lord
The Tribulation is the beginning of "the day of the Lord." As we have seen, the Christians were
conscious - because they read about it in the Old Testament - that there was a time of fearful
judgment coming upon the world called the day of the Lord. The churches, however, needed
instruction as to how to discern the presence of the day of the Lord and the way to know that the
day of grace was finished. Concerning this, the apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, saying,
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering
together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by
word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of the Christ is at hand (2 Thess. 2:1- 2).
Here, the apostle Paul admonishes the believers of that faithful early church at Thessalonica not
to think that the day of the Lord had in fact come upon the world. Paul says they should not be
troubled by the idea of this prospect being present by (reason of) the coming of our Lord Jesus
Christ and by (reason of) our gathering together unto Him. In other words, the day of the Lord was
not present because Christ had not yet come and gathered the saints to himself.
The apostle Paul is, therefore, saying that the rapture of the Church, concerning which he had
carefully instructed the Thessalonians, was the watershed point ending the day of grace and
beginning the day of the Lord. In that the Rapture had not taken place, the day of the Lord was
not yet present.
Here, the apostle Paul gives us a clear line of demarcation between the Church Age, the day of
grace, and the day of the Lord, which is the day of divine judgment. That line of demarcation is
the rapture of the Church.
During this day of Grace, God deals with the world with near-infinite forbearance. The Lord has
said that unrepentant, sinful man is to be seen as follows:
But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of
wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; Who will render to every man according to
his deeds (Rom.2:5-6).
During this age of grace, therefore, God tells us that man is, as it were, putting iniquity in the
bank. He is treasuring it up, but the judgment of man's iniquity is sure to come. It does not come
by way of naked vengeance from God during this gracious era, but it will come during the period of
time called the day of the Lord, which begins with the Tribulation.
What Can We Expect?
Why does not the judgment of God come strongly upon the world in our time? It is because of the
presence of the Church, the bride of Christ, in the world. Christ is not intending to bring His
bride to heaven bruised, battered, bleeding, and badly damaged by the dreadful persecutions of the
Antichrist, which will come upon the world during the Tribulation. Rather, He has promised to take
His Church home in timely fashion, so that she will be kept from the hour of Tribulation in the
Speaking to the Church in the last days of church history, the Lord himself says, Because thou has
kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from that hour of temptation, which shall come
upon all of the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth (Rev. 3:10).
What then is coming upon the world? An hour of temptation, an hour of trial, an hour of
tribulation. What promise does Christ make to the Church concerning that time of Tribulation? The
promise is that she will be kept from that hour. Here we have a remarkable clue as to the timing
of the rapture of the Church relative to the Tribulation. The Rapture is positioned in Scripture
as coming before the Tribulation, by reason of which the Church will be unscathed from the
judgment of the Tribulation. Some have expressed concern about the teaching of the Bible that the
Church is the bride of Christ. This will be dispelled when we read the Scriptures, which say,
Therefore' as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in
everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for
it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might
present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that
it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He
that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and
cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of
his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his
wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and
the church (Eph. 5:24-32).
We think Paul was speaking of human marriage ... and he was. But, in the highest sense, he has
Christ and His bride, the Church, in mind.
Does the Church deserve to escape the Tribulation? Of course not! But, the condemnation which
every Christian knows he richly deserves has already been vicariously absolved via the
condemnation of Jesus Christ on Calvary's cross. Because the iniquity of us all was laid upon
Christ, we are, therefore, saved by righteousness which is imputed, accredited to us by virtue of
the shed blood of the Lord Jesus. The result is that we have the announcement, "'There is
therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus . . ." (Rom. 8:1). No
Kept from the hour is the faithful promise Christ gives to His church and that can be the object
of joyous confidence on the part of us all.
This Day of Grace
In this day of grace, we who are Christians have been made custodians of the most precious
possession imaginable, the gospel of the grace of God.
It will be different once the Tribulation begins! The message which the Church has presently to
preach to the world is the thrilling word that, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that
not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8-9).
Here we have this wonderful offer of salvation by the unmerited favor of God because of Christ. It
is the core of the gospel.
What is the core of the gospel? It is grace. By what price does this precious gift become ours?
The apostle Paul clearly says, For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received,
how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he
rose again the third day according to the scriptures (1 Cor. 15:34).
This marvelous message the apostle Paul declares to be "the gospel." It consists of the
announcement of the death, the burial, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The declaration is
that the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary's cross was fully sufficient, enough to save us to the
uttermost who believe in Him.
Therefore, the apostle Paul is able to declare, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory
of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus" (Rom.
We are saved, therefore, not by our own righteousness but because we are justified freely by the
grace of God. To be justified means to be declared righteous. It does not mean to be made
righteous but, rather, the righteousness by which we are saved is that which we have by
imputation. Therefore, the apostle Paul is able to expand on his message and declare that, Abraham
believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness.
In this passage, the word for "believed" is the word amen. Salvation, therefore, because the world
is guilty and unable to work for God, comes "to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that
justifieth the ungodly . . ."' (Rom. 4:5).
The Church of our time, therefore, is custodian of the thrilling message that God has a gift for
the world and it comes on an absolutely free basis. No work of man - before, during, or after
salvation - is a part of that salvation, nor does it make his eternal life any more sure. This is
the day of grace and salvation, and salvation is by grace alone. So, the gospel of the grace of
God is the message that everlasting life is available to all by faith alone.
The Gospel of the Kingdom
During the Tribulation, however, the message that will be announced to the world is called "'the
gospel of the Kingdom." What is this message? It was the same message our Lord Jesus presented to
the nation of Israel in His earthly ministry, particularly as is represented in the Gospel of
Matthew. The earthly ministry of Christ was the King speaking to his errant subjects and
announcing, as Matthew describes it,
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand
So, Matthew describes the ministry of Christ by saying, And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching
in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness
and all manner of diseases among the people (Matt. 4:23).
The people of Israel, as we have seen, rejected both the King and the kingdom He offered - the
kingdom of heaven. This rejection was not merely verbal, but the Scripture announces that, with
utter cynicism, they nailed Christ to the cross.
Stupendous is this blindness, this cruel rejection of their King, this deocide. That's when
everything changed. A sinful humanity was now utterly disqualified from salvation merely by
repenting and receiving the kingdom. Without moral credentials or capacity, man, if he is to be
saved at all, must be saved by utter grace. No deal, no arrangement, no nothing.
Man is guilty! All humanity is bankrupt! God, if He would save man, must open a bankruptcy court.
There, He can declare guilty sinners, when they admit their bankruptcy, to be forgiven. He has
been conducting that bankruptcy court for nearly 2,000 years. There, He declares sinners guilty
(Rom. 3:19) and then, if they agree, they are cleansed in the blood of Christ. That agreement is
called "faith." There is, there could be, no other way.
The parenthetical period (the Church Age) that followed the death, the murder, of Christ was not,
characterized by the announcement that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand- but, rather, that a
guilty humanity by faith in Christ could be saved by grace. By this, they would inherit not merely
the kingdom of heaven but, rather, be heirs and perhaps rulers of the universe. What incredibly
fortunate people form the body of Christ!
There is coming a day, however, when the body of Christ will be complete, and the group to rule
the universe will have been raptured out of the world. At that time, God will renew His program
with the nation of Israel, and then will come again the announcement: The kingdom of heaven is at
hand. So it is that believers in Jesus Christ during the Tribulation are saved by faith as has
been the case in all ages. However, they are saved into participation in the kingdom of heaven.
That is the Kingdom that will, during the Millennium, and then throughout eternity, produce heaven
We must remember, therefore, that believing Jews and believing Gentiles during the Tribulation
will be heirs of the world (Rom.4:13). Believing Christians, saved during the day of grace, will
be heirs of the universe. The event of demarcation between those two eras in the divine dealings
with mankind is the rapture of the Church.
The Day of the Lord
This is a point not well understood by Christians in our time and understood not at all by the
world. This pitiful world still believes a sadly mistaken view of Christianity. It thinks that the
Church makes the announcement, "If you come to church, you will go to heaven" or "If you clean up
your life and go straight, you will be forgiven of God and you may make heaven some day." This is,
of course, not at all the message of the Church.
The message of the Church is that, because of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, God
has a free gift for man. "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life
through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 6:23).
All who believe in the finished work of Calvary's cross and accept salvation as a free gift from
God are given everlasting life. Upon making this decision, they become heirs of-God, joint heirs
with Christ, and objects of His blessing for all of eternity.
But the message of the Tribulation as presented to us by Jesus Christ is not the same. Christ
warns about the coming of the "abomination of desolation" as signaling that the Tribulation is
fully upon the world. Continuing in that same address, He then says,
And woe unto them who are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that
your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day (Matt. 24:19-20).
So there will be a reconstitution of the Sabbath Day. The rule is that a Sabbath Day's journey
must not be violated on that day. In the very next verse, Christ reveals of what era He is
speaking: "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world
to this time, no, nor ever shall be" (Matt. 24:21).
The religion of the Tribulation will also bring the rebuilding of the temple (2 Thess. 2:4), the
establishing of temple sac ice (Dan. 9:27), and other forms of Old Testament-like Jewish worship.
So, the certified religion in the world during the Tribulation will be Judaism, or as some modems
might call it, "neo-judaism."
It is clear that the Church must be taken out of the world before the days of the Tribulation.
This is because it would be impossible to have the message of the gospel of the grace of God and,
at the same time, the gospel of the Kingdom as concomitantly certified by the Lord. The Rapture is
the event that pointedly punctuates the end of the era of the Church and the beginning of the era
called the day of the Lord, which commences with the Tribulation.
The Middle East
The timing of the Rapture with reference to the Tribulation is clear - the Rapture will take place
before the days of the Tribulation. The timing of the Rapture with reference to the Church Age is
also clear - the Rapture will end the Church Age.
This being the case se, thinking people everywhere wonder how soon the Rapture will take place
when we observe the remarkable developments of this present time. Across the nations of earth
there now is transpiring a set of events that has set the world to thinking once again. Not since
World War II has there been such a spirit of expectation in the world - the religious world and
the secular society. We do well to take a brief look at some of the areas and occasions that have
newly ignited an interest in the prophetic Word.
In the Middle East, and especially with reference to the state of Israel, we have observed a set
of circumstances that appear to be remarkably similar to the events predicted in the prophetic
Word. In our time, the Jews have been regathered from a period of dispersion among the nations of
the world, and they are in their own land once again.
The Israeli nation, having been reconstituted in 1948, has been able to survive despite hopeless
odds and the many wars leveled against her. In the more recent Gulf War, called "Desert Storm,"
Israel was the only non-belligerent nation attacked by those devilish Scud missiles. Still,
doubtless by divine protection, the casualties were very light - one person killed by direct
debris from the sky. That's an amazing statistic.
Now, Israel is being forced by the major powers - particularly the United States - to make peace
with the Palestinians and Israel's Arab neighbors. This amounts to the program of "Land for
Peace," which should be considered absurd by all thinking people.
But alas, that absurdity will become a reality! Israel will make a peace treaty with the prince
that shall come (Dan. 9:24-27), the leader of Europe. This treaty will virtually signal the
beginning of the Tribulation.
Europe - the Revived Roman Empire
We look also at Europe and find ourselves provoked by a new set of thoughts coming from the
developments there. The Scripture indicates that Gentile world power will be encompassed in the
hegemony of but four great empires. These are Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome. The last of
these, the empire of Rome, will be revived at the end of the age. The closest approximation to
that is present day Europe. As we hear of "the United States of Europe," we sense an empire
creating itself before our very eyes.
Europe - Rome revived - will bring to pass the rise of Antichrist. His emergence must take place
after the rapture of the Church. It is at the beginning of the Tribulation that "the man of sin"
will be revealed.
Russia continues its strange course as well. The leaders of the world announce "the breakup of the
Soviet Empire," and "communism is dissolving before our very eyes." These things are true, but the
troublesome aspect is that they are too good to be true. When observing this, we must remember the
adage that "If something is too good to be true, it probably is.' (Meaning, of course, that it is
an illusion or a falsehood.)
Still, despite all these strange gyrations of the former Soviet Union, the cold reality is this:
the central establishment of what was the Soviet Union has, despite all the rhetoric, eleven
thousand nuclear warheads pointed at the United States. Just prior to the Soviet Union's
dissolution, General Colin Powell reminded us that "the Soviet Union could destroy the United
States in thirty minutes."
All other developments notwithstanding, we must remember that the Commonwealth of Independent
States, as Russia and her fellow republics presently call themselves, forces us to face two
considerations. The first is that it has a diamond-hard military establishment. The second is that
it is running short of everything else, including oil.
We must bear in mind, therefore, that the Communist empire is not going to be allowed by God to
die with a whimper, saying, "Sorry about that." Its doom will take place as it loses its army on
the northern mountains of Israel. Whatever our hopes may be, the shortages of everything and the
unfulfilled ambitions in the former Soviet Union will force it to attempt a lightning strike to
This presses a serious question for the United States! Over the years, there has been but one
entity, humanly speaking, that has prevented Communist world conquest. That entity is the United
States of America, its nuclear capability and willingness to use it. What then has happened to the
United States that makes the Prince of Rosh feel that he can move with impunity to the South? Many
things, of course, are possible.
One of the great possibilities, however, is the rapture of the Church. This event would take from
America its leadership class. The United States, if it lost fifty million of its people, would be
hard-put to reconstitute itself quickly as a major power. Certainly this reconstituting, if it
were even possible, would take a large amount of time. This potential scenario alone may explain
why it is difficult to find America in the final prophetic picture as is presented in the Word of
Think again of the Middle East as we consider the situation in our present world. During
Operation "Desert Storm," thirty- two nations gathered against "Babylon" and its mad, unstable
leader. This remarkable gathering was the assembling of the most powerful army that history has
We must not ignore the similarity of this gathering to the prediction of the prophet Isaiah
against Babylon; "They come from a far country, from the end of heaven, even the Lord, and the
weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land" (Isa. 13:5).
We must notice, then, that in the very next verse, Isaiah says, "Howl ye; for the day of the Lord
is at hand; and it shall come as a destruction from the Almighty" (Isa. 13:6).
Now, as we have seen, the day of the Lord, that time of divine judgment upon the world, cannot
come until first comes the Rapture. Isaiah, being an Old Testament prophet, did not foresee the
rapture of the Church or even the Church itself. What might Isaiah's warning be were he to speak
in our time? Might he not say, "The day of the Lord is at hand and therefore, the Rapture comes
soon. Wail, for a time of judgment is coming upon the world from which the Church win be
delivered." The prophet Jeremiah indicates that there will be three stages in the destruction of
Babylon; three military powers will cause its downfall. Those will be: 1) An international
For, lo, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the
north country: and they shall set themselves in array against her; from thence she shall be taken:
their arrows shall be as of a mighty and expert man; none shall return in vain (Jer. 50:9).
2) A single nation from the north. For out of the north there cometh up a nation against her,
which shall make her land desolate, and none shall dwell therein: they shall remove, they shall
depart, both man and beast (Jer. 50:3).
3) The nation of Israel. ... Israel is the rod of his inheritance: the Lord of hosts is his name.
Thou art my battle axe and weapons of war: for with thee will I break in pieces the nations, and
with thee will I destroy kingdoms (Jer. 51:19- 20).
Thinking students of the prophetic Word will agree as to the similarity of the action taken in
Desert Storm to the first stage in the destruction of Babylon - the similarity to the prophetic
description. There, then, awaits stages two and three. Stage two, the coming of Russia and her
allies against Babylon, can also be seen as described in Ezekiel 38. This battle takes place after
the beginning of the Tribulation.
Stage three, the destruction of Babylon by Israel, could well be the act that draws international
consternation and even military action against what the nations will see as "presumptuous" Israel.
This is indicated by Jeremiah in saying, "At the noise of the taking of Babylon the earth is
moved, and the cry is heard among the nations" (Jer. 50:46). Reading this, we remember Zechariah's
prophecy. He tells us that at a day to come, all nations will gather to war against Israel.
What could be the aggravation, the trigger mechanism that could bring this to pass? It could be
that "arrogant" Israel has taken independent action against Babylon, even at a nuclear level. The
indication is that the last two of these judgmental events take place during the days of the
Tribulation. This would, therefore, suggest that the Rapture may happen between stages one and
two. If this is indeed the case, we must not disallow the possibility that the Rapture could be a
part of the near-term plan of God.
It is most instructive to think of the possibilities linked within the Old Testament announcement
that "the day of the Lord is at hand." The timing of the fulfillment of that expression is in the
midst of events that certainly resemble the events of our time.
At this point, a helpful word may be said about the timing of prophetic events. The indication of
the Scripture is that the events themselves are inevitable, but the timing is always subject to
adjustment in the hand of God.
This is apparent from the account of the prophet Jonah. Jonah was sent to Ninevah with the
announcement that Ninevah would be destroyed in forty days. Jonah arrived in Ninevah via a
circuitous route - and began preaching with that announcement central to his message. After forty
days of preaching, he stepped outside of the city and waited in the anticipation of beholding
before his eyes the destruction of Ninevah. To the chagrin of the prophet, this destruction did
not happen. In fact, God gave Ninevah eighty-five more years of opportunity.
Why was this the case? It was because Ninevah repented. These pagan people turned to the Lord and,
therefore, saw the forestalling of divine judgment that was scheduled for them.
That lesson should be learned by all. The events delineated in the prophetic Word are a part of
this mysterious continuum called "time." The total picture is controlled by the God who stands
above time and is certainly able to do with it what He will. For this reason, we are to have a
sense of surety about the events of prophetic history and the certainty that comes from faith that
God will bring it all to pass.
Of the timing however, we are advised against announcing that we know the day and the hour of His
return Still, the provocative developments we are seeing in our contemporary world surely should
cause us to took up for a redemption that draws nigh. Christ is coming again for His own! Each of
us must be ready.
The Believers Attitude
What then is the recommended attitude of the believer when he thinks about the future, especially
the rapture of the Church? In thinking of this, we recall that there have been dramatic occasions
where whole companies of people went to nearby fields to await the rapture of the Church. Dressed
in white gowns, they looked up with ecstatic faces, believing that Jesus would return at any
moment. one element in the attitude of these believers was commendable, that of bright
anticipation. They really believed that Jesus was coming again and were moved to a form of action
in response to that belief.
The weakness, however, was in biblical exegesis. Their lack of careful knowledge of Holy Scripture
led them to be excessively specific about the time of the return of Christ. Believers do well to
sing, "Jesus may come today," but they are excessively specific if they sing "Jesus will come
today." He denies us the knowledge of the day and the hour of His return because He would have us
to be expecting His coming at every day and in every hour.
Other believers have reacted in a different fashion, becoming fearful at the prospect of the
return of Christ. Excessively settled in the things of time, they resent even the suggestion that
all of that will be quickly gone some day. It is a mistake to attach oneself to the things of time
in any manner that would make the instant initiation of eternity the object of our resentment.
Nothing in this life should be held with so tight a clutch.
The proper attitude when one contemplates the return of Christ is suggested to us by our Lord
himself. Speaking to His disciples and intimating the special nature of His return of His own,
Christ said, Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's
house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for
you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself, that
where I am there ye may be also (John 14:1-3).
In these words to His disciples, the Lord Jesus makes to them the promise that He will come again
and receive them to himself. In this passage, He also suggests an attitude on their part. In fact,
there are a number of lessons that we do well to learn from these instructions by our Lord
1) We are not to be troubled but confident in faith. The believer who knows that his eternity is
secure and who walks by faith will be characterized by an untroubled heart. Fear of the future is
dispelled when we believe in God and truly believe in Christ.
2) There is plenty of room in heaven. Christ promises us that His Father's house is characterized
by many mansions. We may be confident of a splendid dwelling place on high that is infinitely
better and more beautiful than the best we can know in this world. There is room also in heaven
for neighbors and friends, and we do well to be inviting them to share heaven with us.
3) Christ is preparing a special place for His own. What is Jesus doing now in heaven? He is
making the arrangements perhaps the final arrangements - for our accommodations in glory. We may
be sure that such accommodations, prepared by the loving hand of the Lord Jesus, will be splendid
beyond our ability to describe them.
4) Christ is coming again for His own. Here we have the promise of the "special coming" of our
Lord Jesus, the rapture of the Church. He is not now speaking of His coming in power and great
glory, but rather, of His intimate, special relationship with those who believe in Him. For them,
He is to make a special journey.
Reviewing this set of wonderful promises from the Lord Jesus, the believer will see grow within
him the confidence of solid anticipation, looking forward to that day in which the promises of
Christ will come to pass for him.
The proper attitude of the believer, therefore, is that he is neither fearful nor cynical. Bright
anticipation is to be recommended, especially in our time.
Yes, before the sun returns again to the morning landscape, Christ may come again for His own.
Before we live another day, we may be translated from this world into the wonderful environs of
heaven. Before too many hours, the commerce of earth may shudder and then stop, awe-stricken by
the disappearance of the world's best people. Each one of these things is well within the realm of
possibility and the certainty of their occurrence grows more sure every day. Bright anticipation,
that is the proper attitude.
But someone will ask - perhaps with sincerity - the question, "Will not anticipation produce
"If a person is constantly anticipating the return of Jesus Christ, will he not become so heavenly
minded that he is no earthly good?"
We may remind ourselves again that there was a group of Christians in the New Testament whose
lives and testimonies became the answer to that question. The apostle Paul compliments his friends
of Thessalonica and says that they were waiting for the return of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, to
come from heaven (1 Thess.1:10). We have the word for it; their attitude was bright anticipation,
What was the result of this attitude? It was not laziness nor disinterest, not at all. Rather, the
church at Thessalonica became one of the classic churches of the New Testament as a result of
their anticipating the return of Christ. The apostle Paul says that they did a number of things
that made them one of the great churches of the early age of Christianity.
1) They received the Word in much affliction, with joy in the Holy Spirit (verse 6). Constantly
conscious of the reality of heaven, these people had little confidence in the word of man.
Correspondingly, they had ultimate confidence in the Word of God.
We may well remind ourselves that the rapture of the Church will bring an abrupt end to the
foolish, mindless, human discourse of this world. Grandiose schemes and vast human enterprises
will be of little or no consequence when Jesus comes again. Our generation is greatly mistaken by
living on philosophy and vain deceit rather than the Word of God. Our foolish generation is ruled
by human philosophers who are already in the grave. This would never be if proper attention had
been given to the Word of God.
2) They became followers of Christ. The path of life is a deep mystery to many as they wonder
about the purpose of their life. For the dear Christians at Thessalonica, this was no problem.
They should live for Christ, of course. Soon, they believed, He would come again and, therefore,
every step taken in pursuit of His perfect will would be certified and validated by that coming.
A reminder here is also appropriate. The rapture of the Church will not merely deliver a
generation of living Christians who are caught up to be with Him. It will also vindicate the
purpose for which every Christian has lived a godly life in all of the ages of the Church. His
coming will be a testimony to this and all previous generations that the life committed to Christ
was not that of a fool. The wisdom of consecration will certainly be forever certified when Jesus
3) These Christians became an example of the believers. The onlooking world, looking at the lives
of "anticipatory believers" in that day, was much impressed. These individuals exemplified the
Lord Jesus as against being mere creatures of time.
One who anticipates the return of Christ is careful not to go anywhere, to do anything, to commit
himself to any principle of which he will not be proud when Christ comes again. So it is that the
doctrine of the return of Christ is a purifying hope. And every man that hath this hope in him
purifieth himself even as he is pure (1 John 3:3).
4) These believers became broadcasters of the Word of the Lord (1 Thess. 1:8). Being totally
confident in the return of Jesus Christ, the believers saw themselves as having a great message, a
transforming hope to bring to the world. The result was a mighty and most effective program of
evangelism so that, "In every place your faith toward God is spread abroad, so that we need not to
Much could be said of this. In the Church of our time, the need for a strong, explosive program of
evangelism and world missions is great. Still, a major proportion of the world, probably 75
percent, awaits the opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Preoccupied with other things
and overly engaged in time-serving efforts, the Church of our day could well use a new motivation
for global conquest.
Broadcasting the gospel everywhere became the activity of the Thessalonians. Why? Because they
believed that Christ was coming again. This doctrine produced such motivation as the world had
seldom seen No one must miss the opportunity of hearing that Jesus is coming back and that,
therefore, we should trust Him. This was the motivating hope of the Thessalonians and could well
be ours today.
A Glorified Body
The bright anticipation of the Christian could be greatly enhanced by remembering one glorious
fact that is promised in connection with the rapture of the Church. What is that glorious fact: we
shall receive a glorified body. With great conviction, the apostle Paul declares, But our
citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by
the power that enables him to bring everything under his control ... (Phil. 3:20-21;NIV).
Echoing this same wonderful promise, the Scripture says, 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 (1 John 3:2).
Yes indeed, a glorified body will be ours when Christ comes back for His own. This means, of
course, that we will instantly move beyond pain, sorrow, human suffering, and death itself. We
will receive bodies like that of the Lord Jesus and be glorified forever in His presence.
This means that the unfortunate characteristics of life in this sinful world will be forever past.
Our bodies of flesh, even though we are Christians, are forever subject to the process of
deterioration. Paul declares that the outward man must perish while in this life the inward man is
renewed day by day.
When Christ comes, however, this will all be changed. Never again will the shocks and sicknesses
of this world beset the believer. Forever transformed into his glorified body, he will be beyond
that. That change will take place the instant that Christ comes again for His own.
For all of these reasons, therefore, may we suggest that each believer be confident and filled
with anticipation about the return of Christ. For many reasons, the prospect of the deliverance of
the Church into the arms of the Lord Jesus grows with every day that passes. Upon hearing this,
the earnest believer will surely say, Amen, even so, come, Lord Jesus!
Questions and Answers
There are hundreds of prophetic questions that live in the minds of people. Many of them are asked
openly at prophetic conferences, on radio programs, and certainly in private conversations. We do
well to deal with some of the frequently asked questions, believing that the answers will be
helpful to us all.
What qualifies a person to be caught up in the rapture of the Church? The Word of God teaches that
Christ will return again for the delivering of His Church. Everyone who is among those
called "brethren" (1 Thess. 5:10) is a member of the body of Christ and will be the object of the
deliverance that will come at the Rapture. The single qualification, therefore, is that an
individual be a Christian. A Christian is one who has believed the gospel of Je