Caught Up to Heaven [A SERIES]

PART ONE – PAUL’S EXPERIENCE

[1]  I must go on boasting.  Although there is nothing to be gained.  I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord.

[2]  I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven.  Whether it was in the body or out of the body, I do not know–God knows.

[3]  And I know that this man–whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows– [4] was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.

[5]  I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses.

[6]  Even if I should choose to boast, I could not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth.  But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do, or say…

[The New International Version Bible (NIV)]

What Paul says in verse 1, he is forced to say so that the Corinthian church members might look at him from God’s perspective.

Paul’s restraint increases as he discloses what was probably the most intimate and sacred of all his Christian experiences.  Paul repeats that he is speaking of himself only because circumstances have compelled him to do so.

What Does the Bible Tell Us About the Experience of Death and About What Happens Next?  [2 Cor. 12:2-4]

“The Journey to Paradise” – Revelations, and Visions:

Revelations are apocalypses, literally “to remove the cover, to unveil.”  It’s the unveiling of something hidden which gives light and knowledge to those who see it (Eph. 3:3; Rom. 16:25).  

Revelations are more general than visions.  You might have revelations without having visions but one never has visions without revelations.

Visions, dreams, and trances are hard to distinguish.  A vision comes to one in an ecstatic state (Isa. 1:1; Ezek. 12:27) and brings revelation knowledge.  The experience points to a special awareness of God concerning what He is doing or going to do.

Several years ago I was asked by a local pastor if I could write a play for the upcoming Resurrection Sunday.  I was given two months to put everything together.  And by the way…I’ve never done anything like this before.  So lacking confidence, not knowing where this was going, I began to pray for guidance.  NOTHING!

Then, perhaps out of desperation and lack of faith, I found myself lying face down on the carpet pleading for God to give me inspiration.  And then I heard in my spirit, “Mel, get up from the floor, and wait.”  “Wait?  I have a month to put this all together, Lord!”  His response was “Just wait”.

That night in my sleep, I felt a nudge to my shoulder and thinking that I was dreaming, rolled over to the other side.  Again a nudge, but harder this time.  As I sat up on the edge of the bed, the voice returned:  “Mel, get up and go to the dining room table.  Get a pen and a paper tablet and I will give instructions on what I want you to accomplish.”  This was at 5:30 AM.  Was I still dreaming, is this really happening?  I got up and followed His guidance and instructions and at 7 AM the outline was finished.  The storyline, the set design, the title….everything but a script!  Yes, God even took care of that.  Was this a dream, a vision, a revelation?  All I do know is, the experience showed me what He was doing and going to do!

Background To The Text [2 Corinthians 12] –

Most Bible scholars believe Paul had a near-death experience.  Paul mentions that at least on one occasion he was left for dead.  As he writes he speaks of this experience and says some guy he knew had it.  Writing about something that happened to an author and inventing a second person to deliver a message is common literary practice.

Paul, in 2 Corinthians 12 speaks from experience that there are events that follow our physical death.  The burden of this conversation prepares us, not for death, but for the events that take place between our dying and our final destination.

Caught Up To Heaven (verses 2-4).

One vision which Paul recounts stands out from the rest in its extraordinary character.  His ecstatic episode which he was transported to Paradise began in VERSE 2.

Paul is sure his remarkable experience occurred but uncertain whether the “caught up” [RAPTURE] experience was in the body or out of the body.

BODY RAPTURE is not regarded as impossible.  TWO instances are recorded in the Old Testament, Enoch (Gen. 5:24; Heb. 11:5) and Elijah (1 Kings 2:11; Mk. 9:4) and in the New Testament, Jesus was bodily raptured into heaven.

At any rate, such a one was caught up (Gk. harpazo, “to snatch away”).  “Caught up” is a form of the Greek word harpazog, the same word used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 which in reference to the RAPTURE of the Church.

Paul was “raptured” to the third heaven.

The Third Heaven

The third heaven designates a place beyond the immediate heaven of the earth’s atmosphere of clouds and beyond; the further heaven of outer space and its galaxies and into the presence of God Himself.  (Heb. 4:14, 7:26; Eph. 4:10)

The FIRST HEAVEN is atmospheric, the SECOND HEAVEN is composed of the stellar universe, and the THIRD HEAVEN is the unique dwelling place of God–a different dimension.

In VERSE 3, Paul again clarifies his mystifying experience to his readers.  He’s uncertain if he was in a bodily or disembodied state.  Whether his soul was separated from the body for a time and taken up into heaven, or whether he was taken up, body and soul together, he wasn’t sure.

[3] “And I know that this man–whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows–“

VERSE 4 teaches us that human words are inadequate to tell us about heaven.

[4] “was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things that no one is permitted to tell”

If the THIRD HEAVEN describes the place of his rapture, then Paradise specifies the wonder of his rapture.  [The third heaven of v. 2 and the Paradise of v.4 are one and the same.]

Paradise is a Persian word for an enclosed park, garden or pleasure ground used only three times in the New Testament.  In Luke 23:43 with the thief on the Cross, and in Revelation 2:7.  In the Old Testament, this term is used in Genesis as the Garden or Paradise or Eden.

I believe Paul witnessed the state of the spirit-souls of the redeemed who had died are “at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8), but still in a “celestial body” so we won’t feel naked until the day when we are covered with the glorified and incorruptible resurrection body (2 Cor. 5:1-3. 1 Cor. 15:42, Phil. 3:20-21).  Then the REDEEMED of the Lord will shine forth with full splendor of eternal Christ-likeness.

Paul heard unspeakable (“inexpressible”) words.

Unspeakable word is an oxymoron, speaking which may not be spoken, for even in the heavenly state it is beyond words.

Human language is too inadequate to describe things that transcend all knowledge and understanding.

We often speak about Paradise trying to describe its state and heaven to define its features and whereabouts, but the truth is that we are stepping over the threshold into another dimension, a reality not of this world, infinite, spiritual and only distantly sensed by us in our earthly tent.  And yet as born-again believers in Christ, we know with assurance that one day we’ll be at our permanent home.

The Scriptures will occasionally part the mists of our earthly existence and grant us brief glimpses of the GLORY yet to be revealed.  (2 Cor. 5:11-12, 1 Corinthians 15:50; Rom. 8:38-39; Phil. 1:21. 3:20-21; 1 Thess. 4:13; 2 Tim. 4:8.)

From Paul’s experiences, we are granted a view of the indescribable GLORY that lies ahead and thereby secured him to patiently endure all the severe suffering in his ministry.  He thus knows that the sufferings of this present age were not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to come (Rom. 8:18; 2 Tim. 4:18).

Someday we will arrive in heaven realizing that everything we see and experience is new and indescribable in earthly vocabulary.  I’m so thankful that God used illustrations that we could understand that gives us just a glimpse of eternity.

CURRENT EVIDENCE (verses 5-6)

Paul could have boasted, as his rivals do, of impressive religious credentials, experience, and achievements, but he doesn’t.  Instead, he speaks only of his weaknesses.

[5] “Of this same [man’s experiences] I will boast, but of myself (personally) I will not boast, except as regards my infirmities (my weaknesses)”  [AMP}

Paul’s weaknesses, trials, and tribulations he went through for Christ’s sake, that had left him broken of body, mind, emotion, and spirit.  For these areas became the very places where God could do His greatest work in and then through Paul.

Paul wouldn’t be like his opponents who glorified in their earthly state or pride.  For God alone is due to all the glory!

Though boasting includes many lies, in verse 6 Paul affirms his trustfulness.

[6] “Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth.  But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say”  [NIV]

Although all of Paul’s boasts were true and about true occurrences, not to mention all the other reasons he could boast, he didn’t dwell on those things.

And the reasons why?

Others might think too highly of him.  He didn’t want to be judged by the past, or what he said about himself, but that men should judge him by what they presently heard and saw.

[NOTE:  I will continue this study, being CAUGHT UP, with Part Two in the Series – The Leading Up To Our Final Destination.]

______________________________________________________________________________________

CREDITS:

Dictionary:  VINE’S Complete Expository Dictionary Of Old And New Testament Words by W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White, Jr.

Photo/Images:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); New King James Version (NKJV); or as noted.

 

 

 

“SPRINGTIME” IS ALMOST HERE!

Song of Solomon 2:8-13 (NKJV):

THE SHULAMITE (Bride)

[8]  The voice of my beloved!  Behold, he comes  Leaping upon the mountains, Skipping upon the hills.

[9]  My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.  Behold, he stands behind our wall; He is looking through the windows, Gazing through the lattice.

[10] My beloved spoke, and said to me:  “Rise up, my love, my fair one, And come away. 

[11]  For lo, the winter is past,  The rain is over and gone.

[12]  The flowers appear on the earth;  The time of singing has come,  And the voice of the turtle-dove is heard in our land.

[13]  The fig tree puts forth her green figs,  And the vines with the tender grapes  Give good smell.  Rise up, my love, my fair one,  And come away!”

I just completed a six part study in The Book of Revelation to John, and in Part 4 – “Rapture Ready!” [See Footnote [i] ],  I had some comments regarding The Rapture: Pre-Tribulation; Mid-Tribulation or Post-Tribulation viewpoints.  I mentioned to one commenter, who disagreed with my belief of the “catching up” of the church–the Bride of Christ, before the Tribulation was not my purpose in the blog.  It was not to debate the correctness of the different views, but to bring awareness to the event referenced in Scripture.  I went on to explain, perhaps in another blog, I would go into more detail of the RAPTURE.  So here we are!

A Summer Picnic Experience…

Several years ago, I decided to visit a nearby church fellowship I heard was an “on fire for the Lord” church.  After attending the church for three months (didn’t want to make rash decisions), my wife and I attended a Summer church picnic.  “Church Summer Picnics” almost have come to be “doctrine” over the years.  I regress.

Trying to be a good listener and getting to know people’s values and beliefs, I noticed one particular conversation regarding the phrase, “end times.”  In a nutshell, the vast majority gathered at the picnic that day, didn’t believe in the Tribulation, much lest the “RAPTURE” of the church.  They understood the book of The Revelation in terms of its first-century setting, claiming that most of its events have already taken place.  As “preterists,” they relate the contents mentioned in Scripture describe the struggle between imperial Rome and the church, so that everything was fulfilled at that time.

Now being saved and brought up in a conservative Baptist church… lessening the Blessed Hope in Scripture almost gave me whiplash.  I thought, is this church doctrine, or just a few misguided, spiritually immature believers?

So, holding back on judgement, I decided to move in closer to the group and wait…wait for an “empty” space in the discussion for my interjection of the TRUTH in Scripture.

Finally, I asked the question:  “Pardon me, but I couldn’t help over hear your talking points.  You don’t believe in the “Rapture” that the bible mentions?”  The response to the question was like an ice-cube being dropped down my back, but I tried not to over react.

“Do you have children?” asked one church leader.

“Yes, I have three,” I replied, wondering what was coming next.

“Are they married, have children?” he asked.

I didn’t have any idea at this point where the conversation was headed:

“Yes, they are.  And yes, I have four grandchildren.”

“Congratulations.  I want to see my three children grow up, get married and have children.  So why would I want or desire God to “rapture” the church now, or ever?

He went on to say,

“And besides, the word “RAPTURE”  is never even mentioned in the Bible”.

Later, I discovered the “preterist” viewpoint (unbelief in the “catching away” of the church) was the belief of the entire church assembly.  But for the most part, they kept their doctrine under wraps.  Although we had come to love the people over the months, we had to leave the fellowship.

The pastor later asked my wife and I if we would come to his office, to discuss our decision in leaving.  He was very polite, even sorrowful that we were leaving the fellowship and asked us with almost a whisper, “Then your decision is final?”

“Yes pastor, it is.”

And then I asked him a question:  “Are you a “preterist”?”

“Mostly” he answered.  He added, “Scripture is unclear and doesn’t verify the “taken up” principle, except once in Paul’s letter to Thessalonica.”  

“Really?.  That’s what you believe?  Even the Old Testament refers to the “catching up”-the Rapture.”

With a blank look on his face, he said, “And where might that be?” Almost as a challenge.

I pointed to the Song of Solomon (S.O.S.) as a reference to the “Rapture,” citing S.O.S. 2:8-13. 

So here I am once again, comparing verses in the Old Testament with verses in the New Testament concerning Jesus’ return for His Bride, the church.

The Rapture!

bride4christ

 

1 Thessalonians 4:16 is often used in discussing the RAPTURE, or the “catching up.”

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud cry of summons, with the shout of an archangel, and with the blast of the trumpet of God. And those who have departed this life in Christ will rise first”  (Amplified Bible).

I want to look at the Old Testament, Song of Solomon, TO COMPARE with the evidence supporting the idea of the “Pre-Tribulation Rapture” view.  No arguments, just the evidence of Scripture to authenticate the viewpoint.

“The Voice of my beloved!  Behold, he comes”  (Vs. 8 a.) –

Who’s coming with a shout in 1 Thessalonians 4:16?   “The LORD Himself”!

“Leaping upon the mountains,  Skipping on the hills”  (Vs. 8 b.) –

The Heavens – 3 Levels Identified:

–The FIRST is from ground level up to the tallest mountain.

–The SECOND from there to outer space.

–The THIRD is heaven ITSELF.

“I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago–whether in the body or out of the body I do not know,  God knows–was caught up to the third heaven”  (2 Corinthians 12:2 AMP).

When the RAPTURE–“the catching up” occurs, JESUS will only come down to the “mountain top” level to catch us away.

His “Second Coming” or “2nd Advent” will be at then end of the Millennial Reign (The Revelation to John, Chapter 19), and the believers will be following Him as He rides on “A Horse With No Name”!  [See Footnote [ii]]

As JESUS circles the earth gathering His bride (the church), it might look like someone “skipping”…”leaping” from hilltop to hilltop!  (S.O.S. 2:8 b.)

“He looks in through the windows, he glances through the lattice”  (Vs. 9 b.) –

"He is looking through the window"
“He is looking through the window”

JESUS in heaven, is looking over the window sill, waiting to CATCH His bride away!

I remember a particular September day 1964, the year I was married, expectantly waiting by the altar as my new bride walked down that long aisle in church–glancing at her smiling approach as I grinned myself in anticipation of being together for lifetime.

“Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away”  (Vs. 10) –

This idea presented in those words reminded me of my recent blog-POST in the Six Part Series in The Book of Revelation (Part Four- “A Glimpse of Heaven”): 

Revelation 4:1  And the first voice I had heard addressing me like [the calling of] a war trumpet said,  “Come up here…”  (Amplified Bible)

“For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone”  (Vs. 11) –

What is the significance of the word “RAIN”?

“COME AND let us return to the Lord, for He has torn so that He may heal us;  He has stricken so that He may bind us up.  [2] After two days He will revive us (quicken us, give us life); on the third day He will raise us up that we may live before Him.  [3] Yes, let us know (recognize, be acquainted with, and understand) Him; let us be zealous to know the Lord [to appreciate, give heed to, and cherish Him].  His going forth is prepared and certain as the dawn, and He will come to us as the [heavy] rain, as the latter rain that waters the earth”  (Hosea 6:1-3 AMP).

James 5:7-8 (NASB):

“Be patient, therefore, brethren, until th coming of the Lord.  Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains.  [8] You to be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

What is “RAIN” symbolic of in Scripture?  The outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

The OUTPOURING happened when the church was born (the former rain–the first 4 Feasts of Israel has already been fulfilled).

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.  [18] And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy”  (Acts 2:17-18 KJV).

The First Four Feasts of Israel–

I am not saying that we should all commemorate/follow the SEVEN FEASTS OF ISRAEL found in the bible, but as Christians, we should at least be acquainted with them and what they can signify in the New Covenant.

1.  Passover.  2.  Unleavened Bread.  3.  First Fruits.  4.  Weeks.

The Latter Rain has yet to be fulfilled–

THE LATTER RAIN starts around the time of the Fall Feasts–the first of which is “Feast of Trumpets” falls in September (succeeded by the Feast of Atonement and Tabernacles).

HELLO?  When is the LAST TRUMPET blown?  The Feast of Trumpets!

“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed–in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed”  (1 Corinthians 15:51, 52 – NIV Bible).

When is the bridegroom coming for His bride?

When the RAIN is over and gone.

“The fig tree puts forth her green figs”  (Vs. 13 a.)

Green Figs
Green Figs

Remember what JESUS said in His Olivet Discourse?

Matthew 24:32-33 (Amplified Bible):

[32] From the fig tree learn this lesson:  as soon as its young shoots become soft and tender and it puts out its leaves, you know of a surety that summer is near.

[33] So also when you see these signs, all taken together, coming to pass, you may know of surety that He is near, at the very doors.

Could this parable Jesus is referring to be the one in Song of Solomon?  The bridegroom coming for the bride?

S.O.S. verse 10, 13, the bridegroom says “Rise up”.  Why does He say it twice?

1 Thessalonians 4:15-17:

For this we declare to you by the Lord’s [own] word, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord shall in no way precede [into His presence] or have any advantage at all over those who have previously fallen asleep [in Him in death].

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud cry of summons, with the blast of the trumpet of God.  And those who have departed this life in Christ will rise first.

Then we, the living ones who remain [on the earth], shall simultaneously be caught up along with [the resurrected dead] in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so always (through the eternity of the eternities) we shall be with the Lord!

CAN YOU SEE WHAT I SEE HERE? evidence

He speaks once for the dead in Christ Jesus, and gain for those alive and remaining.  HALLELUJAH!  The bridegroom is coming for His bride (the church) and we will rise up to meet Him.

My point in this Blog-post is not to convince, nor to persuade you one way or another regarding the viewpoints of the RAPTURE:

–Pre-Tribulation

–Mid-Tribulation

–Post-Tribulation

My intent is to present you with the Scriptural evidence.  My view by now, is “Pre-Tribulation”.

[See and read the following evidence presented:  1 Thessalonians 5:9; Revelation 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 1:10]

 

 


FOOTNOTES and CREDITS:

Footnote [i] – “Rapture Ready!” https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2015/02/17/rapture-ready…lation-to-john 

Footnote [ii] – “A Horse With No Name” https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2015/02/24/a-horse-qwith

Bible References:

New King James Version (NKJV); Amplified Bible (AMP)

 

 

 

“Consider This An Invitation”

Revelation 19:6-9:

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like a roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:

“Hallelujah!  For our Lord God Almighty reigns

Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory!  For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready.

Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”

(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints)

Then the angel said to me,  

“Write: ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!'”

And he added,

“These are the true words of God.”

 

R.S.V.P.
R.S.V.P.

 

How Important Are Relationships of the “bride-to-be” and  the “Husband-to-be” Before Marriage?

In this passage of Scripture, Revelation 16:6-9, we can picture the RELATIONSHIP of JESUS with His Church, the Bride.

The Bride and Groom…

There is the theme/idea repeated in several places in the Bible, particularly in the N. Testament with Jesus portrayed as the coming groom, and the church as His expectant bride  [Ref:  Matthew 25:1-13].

In the Old Testament, the relationship between the shepherd/king and the Shulamite maiden in Song of Solomon as an allegory; portrays the love relationship between God and Israel.

THE BANQUETING HOUSE – (See Footnotes [i])

He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love [Song 2:4].

In this story of the Shulamite girl whose heart was won by a shepherd who later came as King Solomon to claim her and who took her back to the palace in Jerusalem.  Now he takes her to the “banqueting house.”

In this there is a beautiful picture of the church which will be the bride of Christ.  It also reveals the personal relationship which is possible between the Lord Jesus Christ and each individual believer.

Believer’s Anticipation

One day in an event described as the “RAPTURE”…the taking up of the church, Jesus Christ (the Bridegroom) will return for the church (His bride).

In that given moment, according to 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17,  “…the dead in Christ shall rise first and then we which are alive and remain will 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.”

THE GREAT EVENT!!!

The “CATCHING UP,” or the “RAPTURE” will be followed at some point, with the event we just look at together in Revelation 19, called “The Wedding Supper of the Lamb.”

It’s an “Invitation Only” Event…

…but you’ve all received an INVITATION!  “Blessed are those who are invited”

Unfortunately, many who have been invited, received the WEDDING ANNOUNCEMENT, will not be in attendance.  That’s right, the WEDDING is quickly approaching, the arrangements have been made, the guest list is almost finalized, and the Bridegroom is coming soon!

Preparations Made
Preparations Made

PROPOSITION:

Many people who consider themselves part of the “BRIDE OF CHRIST” are not ready for JESUS the Bridegroom to come.

A QUESTIONING SENTENCE:

How do I know that a lot of people are going to miss out on God’s great “WEDDING RECEPTION” in heaven?

Allow me, if I may, to now serve as your “Wedding Coordinator.”  I have briefly prepared a “CHECKLIST” to help the prospective bride prepare for her wedding day.

I know,  “Why is a guy preparing a “checklist” for the ‘big day’?”

I was BLESSED with two daughters who went through all the wedding day preparations.  But to refresh my memory, I decided to ask some general questions to the ladies on my Facebook account about WEDDING PREPARATIONS:

THE QUESTION:  “How does a BRIDE prepare herself before the wedding?  How did you prepare personally for your wedding day, or, did you even prepare?”

I’d like to SHARE some comments:

“Pre-marriage counseling with our pastor”

“Spent time together as a couple discussing the vows, decorations, guest list…relaxed and took a bath.”

“We knew each other for only 1 month, 2 days.  Didn’t have much time to prepare for anything. And then after 14 days of marriage together, the Lord took him home.”

“Sent out R.S.V.P. cards so we knew how much food we needed and the table settings.”

THREE ESSENTIAL ITEMS you must pay attention to if you are going to be prepared: 

These THREE THINGS will keep you out of God’s Eternal Wedding Party in Heaven– So please, for your sake, don’t be unprepared!

#1.  TURNING DOWN THE PROPOSAL…THE INVITATION.

“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”  And let him who hears say, “Come!”  ~ Revelation 22:17 NIV

A Public Proposal…

I love it when a guy makes one of those bold public marriage proposals on YouTube; in the middle of a crowded restaurant, at half-time of a big game.

One guy took his girl up in a hot air balloon to see what he had written on the field below:  “WILL YOU MARRY ME?”  It was all caught on camera.  I would hope a guy is pretty sure of himself before taking that kind of risk   (Can you imagine getting turned down on national TV? – “Nah! Not interested” or “Could I have some time to think about it?”).

JESUS’ PROPOSAL TO YOU AND ME WAS A PUBLIC SPECTACLE–

He fell to his knees several different times…on the way to the place where He proposed.

He nailed His LOVE for you and me to the CROSS, signing His intentions with His own blood, spread His arms out wide and said,

“I want you for my own.

I want you all!

Whosoever will may come.”

This official PROPOSAL reads like this,

“For God so greatly LOVED and dearly prized the world

that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son,

so that whoever believes in

(trusts in, clings to, relies on)

Him shall not perish 

(come to destruction, be lost)

but have eternal (everlasting) life.”

-John 3:16-

You can trust me on this:  YOU’LL NOT RECEIVE A BETTER OFFER!

The world will try to sell you the idea that something better will come along; “You can reject God’s offer and still get into heaven your own way.”

That you can SUBMIT YOU OWN PROPOSAL:

…based on good deeds,

…church attendance,

…by giving to charities…etc.

BUT…you can’t BUY your way into heaven!  JESUS already paid the price.  The PROPOSAL is on the table.  He’s already “popped the question!”

WHAT THEN IS YOUR ANSWER TO HIS PROPOSAL?

“The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in His hands.  Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him”  [John 3:35-36 NIV].

#2.  THE SECOND THING THAT WILL KEEP YOU OUT OF GOD’S ETERNAL WEDDING PARTY IS…

Being TARDY for the CEREMONY–

You hear all kinds of crazy stories of people who were late at their own wedding (usually the groom).  They got lost trying to find the church; they overslept; they missed their flight, etc.

READ Matthew 25:1-13: “THEN THE kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom” (verse 1).

“FIVE WERE FOOLISH…FIVE WERE WISE…”

THE “FOOLISH” — “…when the foolish took their lamps (nighttime wedding), they did not take any [extra] oil with them” [verse 3];  “While the bridegroom lingered and was slow in coming, they ALL began nodding their heads, and they fell asleep” [verse 5].

THE “WISE” — “…took flasks of oil along with them [also] with their lamps” [verse 4].

The girls we read about, the “foolish” girls, missed the “ultimate” WEDDING BANQUET because the procrastinated.  They were like so many people in the world who think there is “plenty of time” to get things right with God when they’re ready.

So, they keep putting off their INVITATION, keep asking for an EXTENDED R.S.V.P. DATE.

THERE’S ONE LAST THING…

There is one last thing that will keep you out of god’s ETERNAL WEDDING PARTY:

#3.  Two-timing the “GROOM” (II Corinthians 11:2).

For I am zealous for you with godly eagerness and 

a divine jealousy,  for I have betrothed you

to one Husband, to present you as

a chaste virgin t Christ.

Here’s a thought that just might scare some to death:

JESUS CHRIST, the Savior of your eternal soul.  THE ONE who suffered and bled and died for you.  THE ONE you pledged your life to serve. THE HOLY SON of the living GOD…could come for His Bride at any moment…and many of you are off living on “Temptation Island.”

You once made the commitment to Him and said, “no other gods”, and “you’re the only one Jesus!”, and yet, you’ve been caught on camera with other lovers.

The WEDDING DATE is closer than you think and you’re out “two-timing” Jesus.

SIN might get you a “first date” with JESUS, but once you accepted His proposal, you agreed to keep yourself pure until the wedding.  You’ve been FLIRTING with lust; FOOLING AROUND with compromise; COURTING OTHER LOVERS behind His back.

The only way you and I can stand SPOTLESS before the Bridegroom…

Is being washed in the sinless blood of the Lamb and dressed in His righteousness.

“SCOTCHGARD” won’t work.

Scotch-garding or...WON'T WORK!
Scotch-garding or…WON’T WORK!

Some Christians act like their wedding clothes were treated.  They say they love JESUS but… keep rolling around on the couch (or chair) with sin pretending like they’re protected from any stain on them.

The STAIN of sin was removed at a great cost!  So don’t try to sew yourself up in a holy “cover up.”

JESUS is coming for a HOLY BRIDE.  If the WEDDING were held at 1:00 PM, or at Midnight, would you be ready?  You HOPE so or you KNOW so!  

I HOPE it’s the latter!

bride4christ

 

 

Footnotes and References:

[i]  “Banqueting House” – Thru the Bible Commentary Series; Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon, pg. 137, by J. Vernon McGee.

Bible References:

Amplified Bible; New International Version.

Photo Credits:

“Scotch-garding” – Getting Prepared @ http://www.travelblog.org/ 

Invitation Photo by Photo Pin.