I got up to speak on Sunday. Wasn’t I surprised? They all stood to applaud! Maybe they appreciated me after all.
I had been kicked out just a few years earlier. Nevertheless, I had to speak some tough words to them.
I didn’t start with a joke. They had already heard them all. And I didn’t have anything funny to say.
“You know I lost my wife not long ago. And some of you lost some of your loved ones on the same day. Did you wonder what all of that was about?”
“I preached on the book of Revelation when I was here. I told you about something called The Rapture. Do you remember that? The Rapture was when the True Church was going to be taken from the world and taken to Heaven. Maybe some of you didn’t hear me talk about that. Some of you didn’t believe it could happen. But now you have witnessed the evacuation of many who had sat among you. They just disappeared and you didn’t know where they went!”
“You were confused. I was confused, too, when my wife vanished. Her clothes were still in the closet. The scent of her perfumes were still in the air. Her corn for dinner was still boiling on the stove. But she was gone.”
“I was a preacher. Would I believe what I had taught? I would be brought together with my wife in just seven years. That’s basically what I had taught.”
“She had always said to our family, ‘You’ll miss me when I’m gone.’ Wasn’t that the truth? I didn’t even know how to finish cooking the corn!”
“Now I know some bad things had been going on in this church. You have violated Scripture by having female leadership.* The kids have been involved in orgies. There have been covens meeting in the woods outside the church area.”
“Amen! Amen!” the congregation shouted.
Amen? Why are they shouting Amen?
You know you shouldn’t have done those things. You knew the Scriptures well enough. You have had numerous preachers that have opened the Word to you. Some of you have left us in the Great Evacuation. Where did they go? Did you think about that?”
“Amen! Amen! Preach on!”
Preach on? Didn’t they hear what I said?
“You know that I told you the way of salvation even though I didn’t take it myself. But I can tell you, the disappearance of my wife certainly got my attention! I hope the loss of many of your loved ones have gotten you to think!”
I almost wish they would quit doing that! Are they thinking? Are they listening? Are they being distracted by the ones who are yelling?
“I told you the way of salvation. First, we have to accept that we are all sinners. We have all offended God in many ways. Even the best of us have offended God.”**
OK. Now that made sense. They should be amen-ing that!
“Secondly, we have to realize that there is nothing in us and nothing we can do to please God until we have trusted His Son to go to Heaven. As you know, my wife worked to support us so I could pastor here. She worked out her salvation because she believed God’s Son for salvation. That’s why she did what she did. There could have been many in this church that could have supported us but they hoarded their money. I don’t blame them! They should have if they hadn’t trusted Christ. My wife worked out her salvation as Scripture commanded.”***
“Amen! Amen!” yelled the congregation.
I think they’re getting what I’m saying!
“I know that the last year I was here someone brought a lady to me to meet. She was a stripper by profession. I talked to her. I believe she heard the message of salvation here. Why do I think that? She’s not here. And she disappeared on the Day of Evacuation! Is that a coincidence? I don’t think so. I think she’s in Heaven.”
“How could a person who engages in that kind of occupation be raptured to Heaven? If you don’t understand that then I don’t think you understand salvation. I’ve heard rumors that after being here she started in a grocery store and quit the clubs. I believe she had changed. She had met the Lord.”
“Yeah! Yeah! Amen!”
Kind of redundant. But I think I like the Amen-ing now!
“I believe she had traded her life for Jesus’ life! Do you remember the story of Barabbas? He was a murderer and was sentenced to a death of crucifixion. Pilate tried to get out of his predicament when Christ was presented to him at His trial. Pilate thought Jesus was innocent and didn’t want to sentence Him but the crowd, incited by the Jewish establishment, kept calling for His death. Pilate had the bright idea to offer Barabbas in exchange for Jesus. The plan backfired. The crowd asked for Jesus, not Barabbas. Pilate, the coward that he was, went ahead and offered up Jesus. In essence, Jesus was killed instead of Barabbas. Barabbas was a legit murderer but was set free. We are all like Barabbas. We are all Barabbases. We all are deserving of death. When we trust Jesus’ death in our place, we are set free.”****
“Amen! Amen! Praise the Lord! Preach it, preacher! Say on!”
Are they actually getting it now? I think they are!
“There is a third thing you have to understand about salvation. We have to trust Christ. I heard a famous pillow salesman talk about how he had ‘completely surrendered’ to Christ. I don’t know what he meant exactly but I know he meant business with God. I know it’s not enough to give ‘lip service’ to God. It’s not enough to give mental assent to the details of the Gospel. It’s not enough to just think that it makes sense that God sent Jesus to die for us. It certainly does not mean that we can believe that God chose us for salvation. It certainly does not mean that we can believe that God saves everyone! Those are heresies! They are false beliefs.”
“The Bible was given to us so we can have a relationship with God. Mental assent is not enough. Good doctrine is not enough. Here is what the Bible says, ‘God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.’”*****
“Do you know that you have the Son? Is He living inside of you? If you know that He is living inside of you, you will go to Heaven. You will be with Jesus forever. You will be with your loved ones who have left you recently in The Rapture. You will all be in Heaven forever!”
“How do you know you are saved? How do you know that you can be sure that you are going to Heaven? Check out this Scripture. 1 John 5:13 ‘These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.’”
“Notice that that verse doesn’t say that you could hope for salvation. It doesn’t say that you might wish to go to Heaven! It says you can know that you have salvation! Isn’t that amazing?”
“Amen! Amen! Praise the Lord! A . . . .”
That was absolutely astounding! They couldn’t get the last “Amen” out of their mouth. It was because they weren’t there anymore. All of a sudden they all disappeared before my eyes! Every last one of them vanished before my eyes. I was alone in the sanctuary!
I don’t think they went to Heaven. Not immediately anyway. The Scripture did not allow for anyone to be raptured during the Tribulation. However, I did hear that some people had observed some of them out on the mission field. That I could believe. There was a story in Acts about Philip. He was talking to someone and all of the sudden disappeared and then he was seen out witnessing to others in another place. I think that’s what happened to them.******
(To be continued . . . .)
*1 Tim. 2:12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.
** Rom. 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God;
Isa. 53:6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him; Isa. 59:2 But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden [His] face from you so that He does not hear.
*** Phil. 2:12-13 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for [His] good pleasure.
**** The story of Barabbas is in all four gospels but you could check out Matthew 27:15-26, for example.
***** 1 John 5:11-12 “11 And the testimony is this, that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. 12 He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.”
****** Check out Acts 8:26-40 and the story of Philip but read especially, Acts 8:39, “When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing. 40 But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through he kept preaching the gospel to all the cities until he came to Caesarea.