1. IS IT MANIFESTATION WITH CHRIST IN GLORY
(HEAVENLY PLACES FAR ABOVE ALL HEAVENS)?
2. IS IT MEETING WITH HIM IN THE AIR ( 1Thess.4:17)?
3. IS IT TO WELCOME HIS RETURN AS KING AT THE MOUNT OF OLIVES UPON THE EARTH
Often in talking to Christians about the
present trouble state of the world I ask them about their hope. Almost without
exception a believer tells me "I am looking for Christ's coming into the
air- it may be at any moment now."
It is put forth in plain language in 1Thess.4:15-17 and 1Cor.15:51-52 and in
still simpler terms in John 14:2-3. This hope rests upon the "Word of the
Lord" - THAT "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven, that the
"dead in Christ shall rise first" and that "we which are alive
and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord
in the air. And so to be forever with him. 1Thess.4:15-17. We shall be changed,
in the twinkling of an eye, into His likeness.1Cor.15:51-51,1John3:2.
It can be shown however, from the same letters
of Paul to the Thessalonians and to the Corinthians as well as from his prison
letters (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 2Tim.), that this is not the hope
set before the faithful believer at the present time.
The church of Thessalonica were followers of
the CHURCHES OF GOD in Judea.1Thess 2:14 . They were expecting "the Day of
THE LORD" and were told by Paul that the apostasy from the faith must come
first and be followed by the revelation of the man of sin 2Thess2:3-12. The
Temple of God in Jerusalem is spoken of in verse 4. The voice of the archangel
is in keeping with all this, for Michael is the great Prince which standeth for
the children of Israel (Dan.12:1-2). This hope will be realized at the last
trump (1Cor.15:52). This is the last of the seven trumpets of Revelation
and it is sounded in Revelation 11:15, at the time of the judgements of God in
Jerusalem after the ascent of the two witnesses following their death at the
hand of the Beast from the bottomless pit. We can see therefore that this hope
cannot be realized any moment. It is noteworthy too that the Christians who hold
this hope are expected to "come behind in no gift" and to live as if
they were not married 1Cor.1:7, 7:29.
Trumpets have always had to do with the earthly hope and Israel. There is not a
mention of a trumpet in any of Paul's prison epistles which reveal the Great
Mystery. Abraham is not mentioned even once. Why do you suppose that is so?
Could it be that we do not look for a "city whose builder and maker is
God."? Could it be, because our hope does not have anything to do with the
earth? The omission of words and phrases can speak volumes. Search and See.
The earthly hope is associated with Christ as
the Messiah and the Son of Man and is likened to the lightening, Matt.24:27. It
is set forth in innumerable Bible passages. It is the hope of the Gospel of the
Kingdom, i.e that Christ shall return as King and is therefore the hope of the
book of the Acts. Acts1:11, 3:19-20, 28:20. It's realization is dependent on the
repentance of Israel. It is set forth by Paul in:
Romans 15:11-13; "And again, Esais saith, there shall be a root of Jesse
and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, in Him shall the Gentiles
hope (Isaiah 11:10). Now the God of that hope fill you with all joy and peace in
believing that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost."
This was nothing new for it was foretold in Isaiah 65:1,2. The
healings, tongues, and ministry of angels which mark the book of the Acts were
consistent with this earthly hope of the Kingdom. When the Jews rejected the
Kingdom in Acts 28:23-27, the earthly Kingdom was postponed. The signs and
wonders associated with the Kingdom continued all the way through the book of
Acts, even to Acts 28:3-6, where Paul was bitten by a viper without harm. In
Acts 28:17 Paul who was bound for Israel (v.20) once again gathered the Jews
again to testify nothing more than -
"... expounded and testified the kingdom
of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out
of the prophets, from morning till evening.
Paul tried to persuade Israel for the last time
out of the law of Moses and out of the prophets. Then his final pronouncement:
Acts 28:26 Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and
shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive:
Acts 28:27 For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull
of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see Acts 28:28
with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and
should be converted, and I should heal them.
Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the
Gentiles, and that they will hear it.
Paul's 1st seven books were concerning this Kingdom. It included 1,2 Cor. 1,2
Thess. Romans, Galatians, Hebrews. While the Kingdom was in view, the
signs and wonders were associated with it and the Gentiles were grafted in as a
wild olive branches to provoke them to jealousy. This grafting in to provoke
Israel to jealousy was nothing new.
It was foretold by Moses and Isaiah.
Rom 10:19 But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you
by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.
Rom 10:20 But Esaias is very bold, and saith, I
was found of them that sought me not; I was made manifest unto them that asked
not after me.
After the last pronouncement of blindness in Acts 28, a new and glorious hope
was given to Paul, which is Mystery. It involves a group of believers whose hope
is the highest of heavens. This hope was never before known, but hid in God,
till revealed to Paul. His prayer throughout was for the Saints to know
"what is the hope of His calling, for this was a NEW hope never before
revealed to the Old Testament Prophets.
This gospel of the Glory is proclaimed by Paul in his prison letters. It imparts
the ascension power of Christ to the faithful believer, setting him in Christ
far above all heavens in the heavenly places and blessing him there with every
spiritual blessing. It calls him to the privilege of knowing the fellowship of
Christ's sufferings and sets before him a hope consistent with the super
heavenly nature of His calling. The seven-fold unity of the Spirit embraces this
hope, to which the eyes of our hearts have to be enlightened (Eph.4:4, 1:18). It
is layed up for us in heaven and we must not be moved away from it, for it is
the hope of Glory that we shall be manifested in Christ in Glory (Col.1:5,23,27,
3:4). This appearing of our Great God and Saviour is called the blessed hope
(Titus 2:13). When He appears. He will change our bodies of humiliation and
fashion them like unto His body of Glory (Phil.3:20-21). If we love His
appearing we shall receive a prize - the crown of righteousness (Phil.3:14-15,
2Tim.4:8,18). There are no voices, signs or trumpets associated with this hope.
As the Churches do not proclaim it, we must be prepared for rejection and
isolation and be ready to endure all things in holding fast to it. Christ Jesus
our Head will never forsake us.
Something to ponder: This hope is very
spiritual and requires more faith than any of the other hopes before. The City
of Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven has a description of it in Rev.21.
We do not have a description of "far above all", the heavenly places,
except for the types and shadows of the holy of holies recorded in the O.T. The
books written to those who embrace the Mystery and the hope of heavenly places
truly are the Saints and FAITHFUL (full of faith) in Christ Jesus.
Which is your hope?
The above, though it may be new to you, is but
elementary to those who realize what it means to be a MEMBER OF THE BODY OF
WHICH CHRIST IS HEAD.