A Personal Checklist for All of Us Before Leaving Earth, Pt. 3
Study Guide, January 31, 2021
Pastor Clay Olsen
So, who doesn’t love gazing at the Moon? And, of course, there’s the old question of; ‘Can you see the man in the moon?’ It kind of looks like two eyes and a nose…But here’s something really unusual…because did you know that there actually is a man in the Moon? Well, sort of, because there is a scientist whose ashes are buried on the Moon. That’s right…his name is Eugene Shoemaker. He trained many astronauts and is often credited with inventing the field of planetary science. And on July 31, 1999 astronauts took a capsule with the ashes of Eugene Shoemaker and it was buried in the soil of the Moon. So now, you can ask your friends: “Say, did you know that there really is a man in the Moon?” And then you can tell them about Eugene Shoemaker. By the way, there is also a Comet named after him.
Well, here at the Chapel we often talk about the fact that possibly soon, all Born Again children of God are going to be leaving Planet Earth together. In fact, the Rapture of the Church is a possibility every day. And with the world getting more and more unhinged from reality and more and more hostile to God and to God’s Word and to God’s people, more and more of us all are hoping and praying that we get to see the Rapture happen any day now.
By the way, did you know that the Apostle Peter said that there is a way that God’s people can ‘hasten’ the Second Coming of Jesus Christ? Check it out: 2 Peter 3:11-12- “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God…” NASU You mean that by God’s people looking more and more fervently for Jesus’ return and by living holy and godly lives more and more, that we can actually influence the timing of the Second Coming of Christ? That’s exactly what this means because that’s exactly what the Apostle Peter said. And, this is just another great motivation for you and for me to get our Discipleship act together and to commit to living more godly lives, knowing that even this, the cooperative godliness of God’s people, hastens and hurries the return of our King and His Kingdom! So remember, by encouraging each other to holy moral living, we’re not getting on each other’s cases, no, we’re actually teaming up to hurry up or to hasten the timing of the Rapture of the Church!
But wait! There’s more! And this is not a commercial! The Apostle Paul tells us that there is an additional way that Born Again believers can hasten the Rapture of the Church. Look at this: Rom 11:25-27- “For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery — so that you will not be wise in your own estimation — that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. This is My covenant with them; when I take away their sins.” NASU And let’s emphasize that again with another version that states: “There is a secret truth, my brothers, which I want you to know, for it will keep you from thinking how wise you are. It is that the stubbornness of the people of Israel is not permanent, but will last only until the complete number of Gentiles comes to God.” Rom 11:25-26 TEV
Now, the phrase ‘the fullness of the Gentiles’ or ‘the complete number of the Gentiles’ is a direct reference to ‘the Church’ or ‘the Church Age’. Remember, God’s promised program for using Israel as a light to the nations was interrupted by their failure to receive their Messiah and be a light to the nations for the Gospel. Thus, this partial hardening of so many Jewish people to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Fortunately, many Jewish people are receiving their Messiah as their Savior in the Church Age. But still, there is still this widespread ‘hardening of the heart’ toward Jesus Christ that Paul was talking about. And thus, the reason for God raising up the Church, to be a world-wide body of believers with the same commission of being a light to the nations for the Gospel. However, there is coming a time when this Church Age will come to completion, and then countless numbers those of Israel will receive their Messiah, and God’s program for Israel will then continue, although the time will be short, for then the King’s Millennial Kingdom will be ushered into this world.
But what the Apostle revealed to us in this present Church Age about this mystery is the fact that one day someone is going to be that last person that completes this ‘fullness of the Gentiles’, this completion of those who received Jesus as their Savior, their Messiah, in this Age of the Church, this Church Age. Which means, ‘that Someone’ could be…‘Anyone!’ It means that ‘Someone’ might be the one that receives Jesus as their Savior through the witness of you or me or anyone that has a part in sharing the Gospel, through praying for their salvation or planting the seed of the Gospel or watering the Gospel seed that someone else planted. And then, by God’s enabling grace and through their faith and trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior they become Born Again in their spirit. And thus, the revelation of Romans 11 comes to pass, the Church is completed, and the Rapture of the Church is triggered. And the ‘dead in Christ’ will rise first, and then we who are alive at His coming will be ‘caught up’ together with them to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord!
This revelation by the Apostle was intended to motivate us even more to try to find ways to get the Gospel of Christ out to others around us, knowing that Someone is going to be that ‘One’ that completes the Church and sets the Rapture of the Church into motion. Wouldn’t you like to be in on that mission, on that part of the Great Commission? Remember, God has special rewards and service privileges for those who are purposefully engaged in witnessing and actively seeking to help others become saved. Say, just imagine the stories around the campfires of Heaven about that last convert of the Church Age and of those who were involved in that witness experience.
But wait! There’s more! Since we are talking about the Rapture of the Church, many people have questions about that one part in 1 Thess 4:16-17 where it says: “…and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them…” NASU The frequent question is about that part about ‘the dead in Christ’, as to what is that referring to? It’s a really good question, because we know that when a Born Again child of God dies, their spirit is immediately ushered into the presence of the Lord. Remember what Jesus said to the repentant thief beside Him on the cross? “Today, you shall be with Me in Paradise.” Which means, that even though they buried the thief’s body, and they buried Jesus’ body, both this converted thief and Jesus went to Paradise that day. Although, three days later, in sort of a ‘reverse Rapture’, Jesus returned to the tomb and transformed His once mortal body into a resurrected immortal body.
In addition to that, the Apostle Paul made it crystal clear that our soul and spirit go immediately into Heaven with Jesus when he said 2 Cor 5:6-8- “Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord — for we walk by faith, not by sight — we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.” NASU This revelation of Paul puts to rest that mistaken and distorted notion about ‘soul sleep’, as in both the body and the soul are essentially inactive until the Rapture. No, because Paul revealed that the ‘dead in Christ, who will rise from the Earth’ are already with the Lord. So the real question is: So, if the saved soul is already with the Lord, what then is it that rises from the Earth? Let’s let Paul answer that, too, as this is what he was explaining to the Corinthian believers about the Rapture of the Church. 1 Cor 15:51-58- “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” NASU
So the part of you that rises from the Earth is the once mortal part of you, the mortal body, or whatever the elements or trace elements are that are involved in that, will be resurrected, will be resurrected, or recreated. And then the saved soul will be clothed with an immortal body like that of Jesus’ own resurrected immortal body. And then, in this physical resurrected immortal body, your soul and spirit will experience and enjoy the physical renovated Millennial Earth and then the physical recreated New Heavens and New Earth, with all of their wonders and pleasures for eternity. And, of course, the greatest joy of all…spending it with your Creator and Redeemer Jesus Christ!
Plus, it is in knowing realties like this, changes that are soon to occur in this world, that we are reminded of just how utterly foolish it is for anyone in this decaying world to reject or neglect so great a salvation. When you have this messed up world on one hand and Jesus’ wondrous and indescribable new world on the other hand, how could anyone not call out to Jesus? It’s senseless!
Well, we know that, right there, is the battle. The unsaved are fighting against the battle they are not aware of, concerning this blindness and deception of the Devil working on unsaved people, and they are fighting another battle that they are not aware of, and that battle is with their own sinful selfish nature. And they are enslaved by both and enslaved to both, and they don’t even realize it. That’s why we need to pray for the lost, and that’s why we need to witness to the lost, and to try to get the information of the Gospel of God’s saving grace out to as many as we can…to people from every tongue, and tribe, and nation.
But now, back to the Rapture…so the Rapture has also often been called ‘The Great Clothing of the Church’. It’s when the saved in Heaven, who are now in what is referred to as ‘temporary intermediate body forms’ are then clothed with their permanent resurrected bodies forever. And so, I got to thinking, for his sake I pray that Eugene Shoemaker was a Born Again man, but also, how amazing that when the Rapture of the Church happens and the bodies and ashes of the saved rise from the Earth, that lo and behold…there’s one coming up from the Moon, too! Like, “Hey, wait for me!” “Here comes the Man in the Moon!” And I don’t say this just to be light-hearted, but I am saying that all of this is about to happen, for Jesus could return for the Church anytime now. And you remember, that was one of the points on our Checklist…to be prepared, as in you must be prepared for Jesus’ return.
I used to love listening to the prophetic teachings of Jack Van Impe. And the title of his magazine was ‘Perhaps Today’. Wouldn’t that be a great attitude to carry each day? When you wake up and think about all the things you have to do…you also think; “And yet, ‘Perhaps Today’ will be the day when Jesus returns for His Church.” Perhaps today will be the day when that last convert who completes the fullness of the Gentiles, the completion of the Church, will receive Christ as his or her Lord and Savior…and then the blast…the trumpet sounds and we are caught up to Heaven, just like Jesus ascended to Heaven, just like Enoch was caught up to Heaven, and just like Elijah was caught up to Heaven. There have been several ‘raptures’ of God’s people already. The Rapture experience itself is nothing new on this Earth; it’s just that this time, this ‘Rapture’ is going to be Earth shattering! This Rapture is going to be the beginning of the end for this sinful world, and the beginning of the beginning of God’s new world.
But wait! There’s more! Actually, we didn’t even get to the next point on our checklist. But it was important to flesh out some of these further realities so as to fire us up even more about following our great God and Savior every day, and to get us fired up about our mission to proclaim the excellencies of Christ and His coming again…His coming back, which could be…perhaps today!
So we’ll all have to wait till next week when we continue to explore our checklist for all of us before leaving Earth.