Elation and Empathy as the Rapture Nears – By Ronda Lane. 4/5/2019
This is a study of the conflict between the elation of the rapture in comparison to the empathy for those who have not yet accepted Christ, knowing they will soon enter the most horrific time period ever known to mankind.
We believers are witnessing the last hours of the age of grace, and how all future end-time Bible prophecy is aligning. Current characteristics foretold of the last days are prevalent (2 Tim.3:1-5, Rom. 1:18-32, Jude 1:18, 2 Pet. 3:3-7, 2 Tim. 4:3-4, et al).
We witness these things, knowing that the rapture is imminent (no date is given, no preceding events which must occur prior to). Yet we know all that was foretold to occur AFTER the rapture, and we recognize these things are aligning in rapid fashion.
This gives most of us conflicting emotions.
First, we are thrilled and excited that we will soon meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:16-18), that we will soon receive the promised resurrected and incorruptible bodies (1 Cor. 15:49-53), and those glorified bodies will be like Jesus’ very own (1 John 3:2).
God truly knows how we long for this, how “we groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23).
This longing and expectation grows stronger every day. God’s word calls this an “earnest expectation” (Rom. 8:19), and says we are to wait “with patience” (Rom. 8:25).
We are told (and understand) that we are waiting for righteousness. “For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith” (Gal. 5:5, KJV).
We know that, although we are saved, as long as we are still in these fleshy bodies so does sin also dwell with us (Rom.7: 14-25). It’s a constant battle to die to self and to submit to the Lord’s leading.
This “hope of righteousness” is what we desire even more than the promised eternal bodies, even more than being reunited with fellow believers who have gone on before us, even more than to enjoy the promised rewards. We will never be tempted to sin; sin will no longer dwell with us (or with anyone else in heaven).
No, we can’t fully comprehend what that means since, for all of our lives, we’ve had sin dwelling and present with us and with all those around us. We witness all the world’s woes that are because of sin.
Imagine… no more sin! Only righteousness!
It’s no wonder we believers are so fired up and excited about the rapture. After all, what’s NOT to love about our soon catching up out of this evil, vile, sin-filled cesspool? That is what this article is about. The ONLY thing that most of us are grappling with is those who have yet to come to Christ.
We women are more emotional and/or nurturing than men. God Himself made us this way for a reason. Yet we ALL (both men and women) are admonished to be empathetic to the sufferings of others.
“Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep” (Rom. 12:15).
There is more scripture devoted to how we are to behave towards others. But even more so, we (believers) have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit who also leads and guides us into all truth (John 16:13).
He brings to our hearts and minds the empathy and consideration for the suffering of others. We recognize their current and/or physical suffering that we can witness with our eyes and ears, but we also recognize what is soon to befall the unbelieving world. The suffering to come (for them) will be horrific.
How could our hearts NOT break over this, especially if we have loved ones and relatives who have not yet come to Christ for salvation?
We can share the gospel with them (if they are even willing to listen at all). We can beg and plead with them, reason with them, pray for them (as we should), and yet… it’s up to each individual to make that one most important decision of all: whether to accept/believe in Jesus for salvation, or whether to reject/deny Him (John 3:18).
We can’t make the decision for them. God gave us all free will for that very reason. He loved us ALL so much that He gave His only begotten Son as a propitiation for our sins. Jesus, who never sinned, is the only One acceptable payment for our sins (Rom. 3:25, 1 John 4:10, John 3:16-18, et al). There is no other way (John 14:6).
We believers recognize how wonderful a gift He has given. What an opportunity to be grafted in as mere wild olives (Romans 11) and yet to be joint heirs with Jesus Himself! (Rom. 8:17, Titus 3:7, and others).
It’s so difficult for us to comprehend how anyone would NOT want to accept and believe in Christ for salvation. I admit there are times when I just want to shake some and yell “WAKE UP.” We wonder how could anyone “neglect so great salvation?” (Heb. 2:3).
The most common reason for those who reject salvation is that they believe they are ‘good’ people. Sadly, they compare themselves to others, and that is the standard by which they measure their sins and good deeds (2 Cor.10:12), when instead, it’s the righteousness of God Himself that we must hold both our sins and good deeds up to, as our very best is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).”For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Rom. 10:3).
They do know in their hearts that we are ALL sinners (Rom. 3:23). Yet, that’s where their desire to comprehend stops. For if they were to allow themselves to truly consider that no matter how ‘good’ they think they are, it could never come close to the righteousness of God.
The only way to deal with sin is to have it removed, washed in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 1:5, 1 John 1:7-9, 1 Cor. 6:11).
“And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith” (Phil. 3:9).
And this is where the biggest struggle comes in. The one thing that stands in the way of the sinner and salvation is PRIDE. No wonder! Pride was the downfall of the devil (Isaiah 13:12-15, Ezek. 28:11-17, et al). Sadly, he had been given beauty, brightness, every precious stone as a covering, and an anointed place; and yet he chose willfully to sin. So as pride was his downfall, so too it’s what he uses to lure mankind in.
Many may go so far as to admit being a sinner (if they even get that far), but to admit that they cannot, themselves, meet the righteous requirements of the One Holy God? That is the very thing they refuse to acknowledge.
Why? To admit this is to admit that they are enjoying the sins they wallow in, and they have a deep fear of being convicted of the sins, preferring to continue in those sins rather than deal with them in the only one way possible-through Christ alone.
“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved” (John 3:19-20).
A very dear relative came to visit me a few months ago. And he kept saying, “It’s so quiet here! There’s no TV, no radio… how can you stand it?” It was an eye-opening event for me. Why? Because I realized at that moment (as if a light bulb had been turned on) that MOST people spend every waking moment with NOISE and distractions… and not by chance, but on purpose.
Even most children and young adults no longer have creative, imaginative playtime, or quiet time to read or study, but expect to be entertained instead.
The modern person thinks they MUST have continuous entertainment to drown out… what? To drown out their conscience. To drown out the Holy Spirit who is trying to convict them of sin. To overtake any thoughts they may have of eternity. They refuse to even speak of “what happens when we die,” or any such topic that may make them uncomfortable.
The devil has a tailor-made distraction (or multiple distractions) for each individual. Even believers can be derailed by distractions. It’s vital that a person spend some ‘quiet time’ to reflect, and especially (for the believer) to study God’s word. And yet we see that most professing believers don’t even bother to study scripture nowadays, but instead prefer to listen to videos, audio podcasts, etc.
Sadly, many professing Christians live exactly as the unsaved world: TV, movies, music, hobbies, sports, entertainment of all kinds… and yet they claim to have “no time to study” God’s word.
In fact, there is a large segment of our population who want to make it illegal to even mention scripture. While technology can be a blessing in the medical field, and to keep loved ones ‘connected,’ it can also be a terrible distraction from what we should be doing.
If Christians have fallen prey to 24/7 entertainment, is it any wonder that the unsaved are also using this very thing as an excuse to reject Christ? After all, if they allow themselves no quiet time to think, no solitary time, no distraction-free moments, how can they ever recognize their need for a Savior?
If we were to take an honest look at how the population lived even 100 years ago, we’d soon recognize why the world has changed so much. Back then (and for centuries prior) it was backbreaking work just to survive. We get an idea when we look at the Amish today who cut/season/stack and use wood to cook and heat with, who grow all their food themselves (both plants and animals), who can their own food, make dishes from scratch, wash clothing by hand with a scrub-board and use a clothes line to dry them. Some don’t have running water and must still carry water in buckets for bathing, cleaning, drinking, etc.
When we think of modern conveniences, it seems to be a true blessing to not have to live with such toil to survive from day to day. But is it really a blessing when technology has taken over, not just the help with chores, but also the excess time that this frees up for entertainment? And yet people STILL claim they don’t ‘have time’ to study scripture? Yet, when we use the Amish as an example, we see that even though the majority of their day is filled with hard work and wearisome tasks, they still make time to study and fellowship.
I’m not suggesting that we live like the Amish. I’m also not suggesting that we give up modern appliances and indoor plumbing, which truly are blessings. But I do suggest we make time to study God’s word daily like the Bereans (Acts 17:10-11), and study like workmen (2 Tim. 2:15) so that we are not ashamed when the Lord soon appears to catch us up.
Spend QUIET time alone with the Lord in prayer as well.
I don’t know how we believers can ‘fight’ society’s desire for 24/7 entertainment. I know what we (ourselves, as believers) can do about that. We can spend more time in God’s word and in fellowship with believers. But I don’t know how we can reason with the unsaved who won’t allow themselves five minutes of time to think, much less consider God’s word and their own eternal destination. It really is up to each individual. Sadly, it’s part of the devil’s end-time tactics to distract society to the point where they refuse to even spend a few moments alone in silence, lest the light of the gospel should shine in their hearts; lest they should even give themselves mere minutes to contemplate where they will spend eternity, and how truly sinful each individual is. They don’t want to allow themselves even a moment to think about that.
We (ourselves) cannot wake them up from the technological entertainment ‘bunker’ they’ve willfully entrapped themselves in.
They’ve wrapped themselves up in this disease-filled blanket of distraction and entertainment so that they won’t have time to THINK and consider their eternal plight. To them, it offers distraction, and they’ve mistaken it for comfort. Much like the cloth blankets that were used to comfort those during the plague, those same blankets meant to comfort one victim carried the micro-organisms of death within their fibers to the next victim… Such is the death trap of non-stop noise, entertainment, and the preoccupation with worldly and meaningless things meant to distract enough to never allow a moment to think earnestly.
What is our duty? It is to continue to share the gospel with the lost even if it seems not to penetrate the bunker of distractions the world has built around them; even if it seems as though no one is listening; even if we are treated with hostility, mocked, ridiculed, cussed out, spit on, or threatened. We were foretold of many of those things.
We know full well that to boldly stand for Christ will bring us much persecution, and not just from mankind, but also from spiritual attack (Eph. 6:12). Yet we willingly serve the Lord rather than mankind or our own fleshy desires (Gal. 1:10, Rom. 6:19, Rom. 8:1-14, 2 Cor.7:1 and so many others).
“But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof” (Rom. 13:14).
Our job is NOT to make the decision for the unsaved. We can’t. And though it’s easy to become discouraged when so few are coming to Christ now, we must always remember it is their own decision to make.
Sadly, many are willingly ignorant (2 Pet. 3:5). They just don’t want to acknowledge or give even a moment of time to consider. They are wrapped up in the blanket of worldliness which brings false comfort.
God’s word says they are “without excuse” (Rom. 1:18-32). They actually DO recognize that God created all things and that they are accountable for their actions and thoughts… they just don’t want to admit it because they love sin too much.
Scripture also foretold the perilous last-day characteristics (2 Tim.3:1-7, 13). We see these characteristics as prevalent today in society.
And finally, after we’ve attempted to share the gospel with the unsaved, what is the best we can do for those who are blanketed in worldly deception? PRAY for them. God’s word will not return void.
And for us? We find comfort in God’s word.
We can also take time to study scripture daily rather than be “plugged in” to society 24/7, rather than spend countless hours entertaining ourselves with distractions. Anything that takes precedence OVER time in God’s word and prayer is an idol.
We are given the example of Moses, who chose “rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season” (Heb. 11:25).
In summary: It breaks our heart to see the unsaved world reject salvation in Christ. Some are our friends, relatives, parents, or adult children. That truly is a hard thing because we know the horrors to come in the tribulation, and we don’t wish it on anyone, especially not loved ones. We also know how precarious life is… we never know how long a person will live. Many die young; not all live to be aged on earth.
Don’t give up sharing the gospel, even if it seems they aren’t listening. And don’t despair when they refuse to listen. I know it’s easier said than done. But we are to take EVERY care and concern to the Lord (Phil. 4:6-7, 1 Pet. 5:7, et al).
And for us? We (believers) should continue giving the gospel to the unsaved world. We should remain vigilant (1 Pet. 5:8), waiting with patience for the Lord (1 Thess.1:10; Rom.8:19, 23, 25; 1 Cor. 1:7-8; Gal. 5:5; 2 Thess. 3:5, et al).
We should study His word (2 Tim. 2:15, Acts 17:10-11).
We should comfort fellow believers (1 Thess. 4:16-18, Rom. 1:12, 2 Cor. 1:3-4, 1 Thess. 5:11, and others).
Pray (much scripture devoted to that), and also put on (and keep on) the armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18).
That is plenty enough to keep us occupied with the Lord, as we eagerly await the rapture, rather than 24/7 entertainment of the worldly.