For the sake of clearness we will consider the Church under seven heads.
I. What the Church Is NOT.
1. It is not a continuation of the "Jewish Dispensation" under another name.
As we have seen in the chapter on the Jews, the Jews have been shunted to a sidetrack that the "Main Line" may be clear for the passage of the Church. Jesus said-"The Law and the Prophets are until John." If the Scriptures put Moses and Law in one Dispensation and Christ and Grace in another let us respect the Divine order and not join together what God has put asunder.
It is because some religious bodies believe that the Christian Church is but another phase of what they call the "Jewish Church," that they insist on a "ceremonial ritual" and retain the Priesthood with its altar, vestments, etc., and Temple-like buildings; and call the ordinances of the Christian Church "Sacrifices" and "Sacraments." They also go further and advocate a "State Church," with the Church as the head, and claim that all the Old Testament promises of riches and glory have been transferred from the Jew to the Church. This we shall see is unscriptural.
2. It is not "The Kingdom."
John the Baptist came preaching that the "Kingdom of Heaven" was "at hand" and Jesus sent out the Twelve and the Seventy to do the same, but the Jewish people rejected their King, and the setting up of the Kingdom was postponed. There cannot be any Kingdom until the "Nobleman Farmer" who has gone into a "far country" to receive the Kingdom returns. Luke 19:11-13.
The Church is never confounded with the Kingdom in the Scriptures. The Church is compared to a "House" (1Tim. 3:15), to a "Temple" (1Cor. 3:16, 1Cor. 3:17), to a "Body" (1Cor. 12:27-3 1Cor. 12:1), but never to a Kingdom Christ is the "HEAD" of His Church (Eph. 1:22; Eph. 4:15; Col. 1:18), but He is never spoken of as its King. The Church's relation to Christ is to be that of a
"Bride." Eph. 5:23-25; Rev. 21:2, 92 10.
II. What the Church IS.
1. It is a "Mystery."
The Kingdom was no mystery. The Old Testament prophets describe it in glowing terms. But there was something that was a Mystery" to them, and that was what was to come in between the "Sufferings and Glory" of Christ. 1Pet. 1:9-11.
That is, between the Cross and the Crown. Jesus intimated that there was to be something that He called the "Church," but He did not say when it should appear, or what it would be like. Matt. 16:13-15.
The "Mystery of the Church" was first revealed to Paul.
"For this cause I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, if ye have heard of 'The Dispensation of the Grace of God' which is given me to you-ward; how that by revelation He made known unto me
which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; that
should be fellow heirs and of
THE SAME BODY,
and partakers of His promise in Christ by the Gospel..... according to the
which He purposes in Christ Jesus our Lord." Eph. 3:1-3. (See the Chart on "God's Eternal Purpose as to the Earth.")
From this we see that the Church was unknown to the Old Testament patriarchs and prophets.
That the Gentiles were to be saved was no mystery. Rom. 9:24-26. The "Mystery" was, that God was going to form an entirely "NEW THING," composed of Both Jew and Gentile, to be called
2. It is a "Called Out" Body.
The word Church comes from the Greek word "ecclesia" which means "Assembly" or a congregation of "called out ones."
But the word is not used exclusively as to the Church. Israel was an "ecclesia" or an Assembly of people "called out" from other peoples and nations, and is called in Acts 7:38, "The Church in the Wilderness."
Any Assembly of worshipers banded together as a church or congregation is an "ecclesia." Matt. 18:17; 1Cor. 14:19, 1Cor. 14:35.
The Guild of Ephesian Craftsmen and a Town Meeting is an "ecclesia," because distinct or called out from the body of citizens, Acts 19:32, Acts 19:39. The context will show what is meant.
The purpose of this Dispensation is seen in the "Divine Program," outlined by the Apostle James in his address to the First Church Council (Acts 15:13-15), where he declares that God has visited the Gentiles to
"Take Out of Them
A 'PEOPLE' for His Name."
The purpose of this Dispensation then is not the Conversion of the World, but the "Gathering Out" of the Church.
While Israel is a "called out body" it is a "National Body," composed exclusively of the descendants of Abraham, but the Church is not a "National Body" for it is not composed of the people of any one nation, , but of individuals from every kindred, people, tribe and nation.
That Israel and the Church are distinct and separate and cannot be blended, is clear from the fact that their "election" was made at different dates, and that the "election" of the Church antedates the "election" of Israel, for Israel was chosen in Abraham from the foundation of the world (Matt. 25:34), while the Church was chosen in HIM (Jesus) BEFORE the Foundation of the World. Eph. 1:4-6.
3. It is the "Body of Christ.',
In Eph. 1:22, 23 we read-
"And hath put all things under His feet, and gave HIM (Jesus), to be the HEAD over all things to the Church which is His BODY."
The context shows (vs. 20), that this "Headship" was not possible until Jesus had been raised from the dead, and seated at the right hand of the Father. The Church, therefore, could not have been in existence before there was a Head, for God does not make headless things. The Church then is the Body of which Christ is the Head
In 1Cor. 12:12, 13 we are told how this "Body" is formed.
"For as the body is one, and hath many members; and all the members of that one body, being many, are one
body; so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into One Body, whether we be
Jew or Gentile, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into ONE SPIRIT."
From this we see that it is the
"Baptism of the Spirit"
that incorporates us into the
Therefore there could be no Church until the "Day of Pentcost." Acts 1:4-5; Acts 2:1-3.
Paul in his Letter to the Ephesians, that deals mainly with th Church, emphasizes this baptism.
"There is One Body (the Church) and One Spirit (the Holy Spirit), even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord (Jesus), One Faith, ONE BAPTISM (of the Holy Spirit), One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." Eph. 4:4-6.
That there should be no mistake as to what Paul meant by the "one body" of 1Cor. 12:13 he says, verse 27, "Now ye are the Body of Christ." And in Rom. 12:5 he reaffirms it-
"So we, being many, are 'One Body in Christ, ' and every one members one of another."
The fact that the Church is a "Body" made up of "living members" shows that it is not an "Organization," but an "ORGANISM. An "Organization" is made up of distinct units like the doors, window roof, floors, etc., of a building, that may be removed and replaced by new parts without destroying the integrity of the building; but a human body is an organism. You cannot remove an eye, or ear, or arm, or foot, or even a finger nail or tooth, without destroying the integrity of the body and causing a mutilation. So we see from this for Christ to lose One Member of His Body (the Church) is to MUTILATE it. Neither can the Church, as the "Body of Christ" die, for who ever saw a dead body attached to a living head. Christ the Head is ALIVE and can NEVER DIE AGAIN, for He tells us in Rev. 1:18, "I am He that liveth and was dead (on the Cross), and behold, I am ALIVE FOR EVERMORE." It follows therefore that "when Christ, who is our LIFE, shall appear, then Shall We Also Appear With Him in Glory." Col. 3:4. Jesus Christ not only gave His life for the Church, but to the Church.
But why call the Church the "Body of Christ? " What is a body for? It is for the
Manifestation of a Personality.
A person can exist without a physical body, as the Soul exists without a physical body between death and the resurrection of the body, but that existence cannot be made manifest. So the only way Christ, who is now in glory, can manifest Himself to the world is through His Body-THE CHURCH.
The only way the world can see Christ today is in Christian believers. This is probably what Paul meant when he wrote to the Philippians,
"For to me to live Is Christ."
(Phil. 1:21). That is, for Christ to live again in Paul, so that the world might see Christ manifested in Paul.
The Perfect Man.
If Christ is the Head, and the Church is the Body, then the two should make a Perfect Man, for we cannot conceive of a perfect Head like Christ, joined to an imperfect body. This is just what Paul tells us should be.
"And He gave some, Apostles; and some, Prophets; and some, Evangelists; and some, Pastors and Teachers; for the
Perfecting of the Saints,
for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the
'Body of Christ; '
till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a
unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ. Eph. 4:11-13.
In 1Cor. 3:9-11, Paul speaks of the Church, under the figure of a Building or Temple, of which Christ is the Chief Comer Stone, "in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an Holy Temple in the Lord; in whom ye also are builded together for an HABITATION OF GOD through the Spirit." Eph. 2:19-21.
Here we see that as God's presence was manifested in the Tabernacle in the "Shekinah Glory," so now in this Dispensation, when Israel, nationally, is out of fellowship with God, and there is no Temple at Jerusalem, the Church, since Pentecost is the visible "Habitation of God" on earth, where He manifests Himself through the Holy Spirit.
John tells us (John 1:14), that the "WORD" (Jesus) Tabernacled among us, and spoke of His
Body as a Temple, John 2:19-21, so between God's manifesting Himself in the "Shekinah Glory" of the
Temple, and now through His Spirit in the Church, He manifested Himself in the "person" of Jesus, and John tells
us that he and Peter and James saw the "Glory of God" in the person of Jesus on the Mt. of Transfiguration. John
4. It is to be the "Bride of Christ."
At present the Church is a virgin espoused.
Paul said to the Church at Corinth,
"I am jealous over you with godly jealousy; for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste VIRGIN to Christ." 2Cor. 11:2.
In Christ's day an espousal was as sacred as a marriage.
The First Adam had his Bride, and the Second or Last Adam must have His Bride. In Gen. 2:18, Gen. 2:21-23, we are told how the First Adam got his Bride.
"The Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and with the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made (builded) He a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman because she was taken out of man."
Now Jesus during His life on the earth as a man, abode alone, but a deep sleep-the sleep of death-fell on Him, and out of His wounded side, as the result of the Atonement He made on the Cross, there came that from which the Church was formed, and to which the Holy Spirit gave life on the Day of Pentecost; so that, as Adam said of Eve-"This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh," so we can say of the Church-"We are members of His Body, of his Flesh, and of his Bones." Eph. 5:29-31.
The Woman was brought to Adam and presented to him, but Christ will present the Church to Himself, Eph. 5:27. That Eve was married to Adam is indicated in Gen. 2:24 and referred to in Matt. 19:4, Matt. 19:5, and Eph. 5:3 Eph. 5:1.
We have a beautiful illustration of how Christ is gathering out His Bride, the Church, in the story of how Isaac got his bride.
In the Scriptures-
Abraham is a type of God.
Sarah is a type of Israel.
Isaac is a type of Jesus.
Eliezer is a type of the Holy Spirit.
Rebekah is a type of the Church.
Keturah a type of Israel Restored.
When the time came for Isaac to have a wife his father Abraham did not want him to marry a Canaanitish woman, and so he sent his servant Eliezer over to Padan Aram to get one for him from among Abraham's kindred. When Eliezer reached Padan Aram he was divinely directed to the home of Laban, a grandnephew of Abraham, whose sister Rebekah God had chosen to be the wife of Isaac. Gen. 24:12-14. Rebekah consented to become the wife of a man she had never seen solely on the representations of Eliezer, and she departed with him, leaving her kinsfolk behind. As the caravan neared the home of Abraham we read that "Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the Eventide" and saw the camels of his father returning, and Rebekah
alighted from off her camel and was introduced by Eliezer to Isaac and she became his wife.
So God has sent the Holy Spirit into this world in this Dispensation to get a wife for His Son Jesus, and when the full number of the Church is complete, the Holy Spirit will take her back with him to the Father's home, and Jesus, whose Bride she is to be, will come out into the midair at the "Eventide" of this Dispensation to meet her. 1Thes. 4:15-17.
Some hold that because Isaac's bride was taken from his own kin, that, therefore, to complete the type, Jesus' Bride must be Israel, His own kin, and not the Church composed mainly of Gentiles. But we must not forget that while Abraham was the first Hebrew his kin were Gentiles. Abraham was not, strictly speaking, a Jew, for the Jews are the descendants of Judah, the fourth son of Jacob or Israel. So we see that Rebekah was not an Israelite, but a Gentile, so the type holds good.
We must not forget that there are "Two Brides" mentioned in the Scriptures. One in the Old Testament, and the other in the Now Testament. The one in the Old Testament is Israel, the Bride of Jehovah; the one in the New Testament is the Church, the Bride of Christ. Of Israel it is said-"Thy Maker is thine husband." Isa. 54:5-7. Because of her Whoredoms, Israel is a cast off wife, but God, her husband, promises to take her back when she ceases from her adulteries. Jer. 3:1-3; Ez. 16:1-3; Hosea 2:1-3, Hosea 3:1-3. Sarah is a type of Israel before her fall, and Keturah of Israel when God shall take her back again. She will not be taken back as a Virgin, but as a Wife. But it is a VIRGIN that the Lamb (Christ) is to marry. So the Wife (Israel) of the Old Testament cannot be the Bride (Virgin) of the New Testament.
Again the "Wife" (Israel) is to reside in the earthly Jerusalem during the Millennium, while the "Bride" (the Church) will reside in the New Jerusalem. These distinctions make it clear that Israel cannot be the "Bride" of Christ.
As to the Church being both the "Body" and "Bride" of Christ, we have the type of Eve who was of the "body" of Adam before she was his "bride."
III. The ORIGIN of the Church.
While, as we have seen, the Church had its origin in the mind of God
"Before the Foundation of the World, " yet it did not exist until-after Christ's Ascension.
In the summer of the third year of Christ's ministry, when Israel had practically rejected Him and He was entering the "Shadow of the Cross," knowing that the offer of the Kingdom would soon be withdrawn, and the Church be set up, and wishing to prepare His Disciples for what was coming, He took them over into Cesarea Philippi, and there asked the question-"Whom do men say that I, the Son of Man, am? " Matt. 16:13-15. After they had told Him what others said of Him, He said to them-"But whom say Ye that I am? " And Simon Peter answered and said-"Thou Art the Christ, the Son of the Living God." And Jesus answered and said unto Peter-"Thou art Peter, and upon this Rock I will build my Church; and the 'Gates of Hell' (Hades) shall not prevail against it." Notice that there is here a little play upon words. It is from the Greek word "petros" that the word Peter is taken. "Petros" in the Greek means a stone, the small fragment of a rock, while the Greek word "Petra" means a rock, or large mass of stone. It is significant that in the Greek the word "Petrog" is masculine, while the word "Petra" is feminine. The change of gender then is not without significance, as if it would distinguish Peter the man, from his confession that
"Christ Was the Son of God, "
and that upon that confession, or upon Christ-THE ROCK, Christ would build His Church. That the "Rock" means Christ Himself is in harmony with other scriptures that speak of Him as a "Rock." That Peter understood that Christ meant that He Himself was the "Rock" is evident from Peter's address in Acts 4:5-7, where he says of Christ
"This Is the STONE
which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner"-that is the Corner Stone of the Building.
Peter reaffirms this in his First Epistle (1Pet. 2:3-5), and thus disclaims that he was the "rock" Christ meant.
The Apostle Paul also declares that by the "Rock" Christ is meant. Writing to the Corinthians he says-
"Other foundation can no man lay than that which is laid which is-Jesus Christ." 1Cor. 3:11.
In Eph. 2:20-22, Paul declares of the Church that it is being built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself Being the CHIEF Comer Stone, "
in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth into a
in the Lord; in whom we also are builded together for an
Habitation of God
through the Spirit.
There could be no foundation for the Church until Christ's death, resurrection and ascension. Then Christ became the Rock and upon Him the Foundation of the Apostles and Prophets (New Testament Prophets) was laid, and the first layer of the superstructure of 3000 "Living Stones" was laid on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41), and a few days later the second layer of 5000 was added (Acts 4:4), and so on, down the centuries, the Church has been growing as a "Holy Temple" for the "Habitation of God," through the Spirit. The Church then had its origin at Pentecost. If Peter was the "rock" upon which the Church was to be built, it seems reasonable that the "Mystery of the Church" should have been revealed to him instead of to Paul.
By the "Gates of Hell" is meant the "Gates of Hades" or the "Underworld." The "Underworld" is composed of two sections with an "Impassible Gulf" between. See the chapter and chart on the "Spirit World." One of the sections was called "Paradise," the other "Hell." Luke 16:19-21. To the "Paradise" section Jesus went to meet the penitent thief after His death on the Cross, and when He came back from Paradise He took all the "captives" that Death had locked up there, with Him, and locked up that compartment of the Underworld, and HE now has the Keys of "Death and Hades," and so the "Gates of Hell" shall not prevail against the Church. The Roman Catholic Church claims that Peter was the "Rock" on which the Church was to be built, and as Christ promised to Peter the "Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven" that therefore the Pope and his successors can unlock the "Gates of Purgatory." But Peter never did have, and never will have the "Keys of Hades, " for the Keys of the "Kingdom of Heaven" are not the "Keys of Hades." The "Keys of Hades" are in the hand of Peter's MASTER, who said to the beloved John on the Isle of Patmos-
"Fear not; I am the First and the Last; I am He that liveth and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forever more,
Amen, and have the 'Keys' of HELL (Hades), and of DEATH." Rev. 1:17, Rev. 1:18.
This at one stroke destroys the claim of Rome.
As we have seen that the Church is not the Kingdom, the Keys of the "Kingdom of Heaven" therefore cannot be the Keys of the Church. The "Kingdom of Heaven" is the "Mystery Form" of the Kingdom during the absence of the King, and is broader than the Church, and takes in the World, particularly that part known as Christendom. This is seen in the "Kingdom of Heaven Parables" of Matt. 13. The Keys of the "Kingdom of Heaven" that were given to Peter were the "Keys" by which he opened the way into the "Kingdom of Heaven" to the Jews at Pentecost, Acts 2:14-16, and later to the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius at Caesarea. Acts 10:34-36.
Who Belong to the Church?
If the Church had its origin at Pentecost, and ends at the Second Coming of Christ for His saints at the "Rapture," who belong to the Church, and therefore constitute the "Bride? " Necessarily only those who are saved between those two events. The Old Testament saints could not belong to the Church for it did not then exist. At every wedding that is a public function there are others present beside the Bridegroom and the Bride. There is the groomsman, the bridesmaids, the ushers, flower girls, relatives and invited guests.
In Rev. 19:9 we read-
"Blessed are they which are called unto the "Marriage Supper' of the Lamb."
Now the "Bride" would not be "called" (invited), she has a place there of her own right. The "called" are the "Guests." And in the Parable of the "Marriage of the King's Son" (Matt. 22:1-3), those who were "bidden to the Wedding" were "Guests" not the Bride. John the Baptist, who stands for the Old Jewish Dispensation, claimed to be only the "Friend of the Bridegroom." John 3:29.
At the Rapture all the "Dead in Christ" will rise, and that includes all the Old Testament Saints, and there will be present at the
Marriage of the Lamb
the "Blood Washed Multitude" that come out of the "Tribulation," after the Church is caught out. These will
all be "Blessed" but they will not be a part of the Bride. Angels will be spectators of the scene, but they
cannot be "Guests," that honor is reserved for those who have been redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb.
IV. The "MISSION" Of The Church.
As we have seen the Church is not an "Organization" but an "Organism.'.' Therefore it is not a "Social Club," organized and supported solely for the benefit of its members. It is not a "Place of Amusement" to pander to the carnal nature of man. It is not a "House of Merchandise" for the sale of "Indulgences," or other commodities, whereby the money of the ungodly can be secured to save the penurious church member a little self sacrifice. Neither is it a "Reform Bureau" to save the "bodies" of men. The reformation of men is very commendable, as are all forms of "Social Service," but that is not the work or mission of the Church. The world was just as full, if not fuller, of the evils that afflict society today, in the days of Christ, but He never, nor did the Apostles, organize any reform agencies. He knew that the source of all the evils in the world is SIN, and the only way to eradicate sin is to Regenerate the Human Heart, and so He gave to the world The Gospel, and the Mission of the Church is to carry that Gospel to the Whole World. Mark 16:15. The Gospel is not a system of "Ethics," or a "Code of Morals," it is a
Proclamation of Salvation.
"I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ
For It Is
THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION
To Every One That Believeth
To The Jew FIRST
And Also To The Greek (Gentile)."
The purpose of the Gospel in this Dispensation is not to Save Society, but to save the Individual Members that are to compose the "Body of Christ"-THE CHURCH.
The great mistake the Church has made is in appropriating to herself, in this Dispensation, the promises of earthly conquest and glory which belong exclusively to Israel in the Millennial, or "Kingdom Age." As soon as the Church enters into an "Alliance With the World," and seeks the help of Parliaments, Congresses, Legislatures, Federations and Reform Societies, largely made up of ungodly men and women, she loses her spiritual power and becomes helpless as a redeeming force.
V. The "DESTINY" Of The Church.
The Church is to be "caught out." The "event" will be twofold.
1. Of the Dead in Christ.
2. Of the Living Saints.
They are to be caught up simultaneously to meet the Lord in the air
"For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel (Michael), and with the Trump of God: and the
'Dead In Christ' shall
rise first: then we which
shall 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." 1Thes. 4:16, 1Thes. 4:17.
The "taking up" of Enoch in the days before the Flood (Gen. 5: 24), and of Elijah in the days of the kings of Israel (2Kings 2:11), are types of the "Translation" of the Saints.
The appearance of Moses and Elijah on the Mt. of Transfiguration with Christ (Luke 9:28-30), is a type of the
"Rapture of the Church."
It pictures the meeting of Christ and the Church in the air. Moses is a type of the "Resurrected Saints," and Elijah of the "Translated Saints."
Jesus revealed to Martha, before He raised Lazarus, what should happen at the First Resurrection. He said to her-
"I am the 'Resurrection and Life, ' he that believeth in Me, though he were dead yet shall he live: (First Resurrection Saints); and whosoever LIVETH, (is alive when I come back) and believeth in Me shall NEVER DIE." John 11:25, 26.
Note how exactly this harmonizes with Paul's statement in 1Thes. 4:16, 1Thes. 4:17. When Jesus comes back He will be the "Resurrection" to the "Dead in Christ, " and the "Life" to those who are "Living" and Believe In Him.
In his immortal chapter on the Resurrection, 1Cor. 15:1-3, after describing the "order" of the Resurrection (verses 22-24), Paul proceeds to describe what shall happen to the "living saints."
"Behold, I show you a Mystery, we shall not all Sleep, but we shall All Be Changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised, and we shall be changed. For this Corruptible (the dead in Christ) must put on incorruption, and this mortal (the living saints) must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY.
O DEATH, WHERE IS THY STING?
O GRAVE, WHERE IS THY VICTORY? "
The last two lines refer only to those who are "changed without dying," for it is only those who will not die who can shout-
"O Death, Where Is Thy Sting?
"O Grave, Where Is Thy Victory? "
This passage also corresponds with 1Thes. 4:16, 1Thes. 4:17, and declares that the "Resurrection" and "Translation" of the Saints shall be at the same time, and in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and agrees with Christ's statement as to its "suddenness." "For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man Be." Matt. 24:27.
In 2Cor. 5:1-3, Paul expresses his longing, and the longing of the Saints, to be among those who should not be "unclothed" by Death, but who should be "clothed upon" by Immortality "without dying."
"For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle, (the body), were dissolved, (that is die), we have
a building of God, an house not made with hands eternal in the heavens. For in this (body) we groan, earnestly
desiring to be 'clothed upon' with our house which is from heaven: if so be that being 'clothed' we shall not be
found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle (the body) do groan, being burdened; not for that we would be
'unclothed' (by death), but 'clothed upon' (by immortality), that 'mortality' might be "swallowed up of
In his letter to the Philippians, while Paul hopes that-
"If by any means he may attain unto The (out from among the dead) Resurrection, yet he pressed toward the mark for the 'prize' of the High (out and up) Calling of God in Christ Jesus." Phil. 3:11-13.
That is, while Paul would esteem it a great thing to "rise from the dead" at the First Resurrection, and be "caught up" with those who should be "changed," yet he would esteem it a "prize" if he could be caught up "without dying," that is, live until Jesus came back.
The Time of Rapture.
Some claim that "all" the Church are to pass through the Tribulation; others that "all" the Church are to be caught out before the Tribulation, while some claim that only the "Waiting" and "Watching" Saints shall be caught out before the Tribulation, and that the rest must pass through it. The. latter base their claim on Heb. 9:28, where it says-"Unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation." While this might apply to the living when He appears, it certainly cannot apply to the dead. There are tens and hundreds of thousands who "fell asleep in Jesus" who never heard of the Premillennial Coming of the Lord, or at least never grasped its meaning, and who therefore never "watched" and "waited" and "looked" for His Appearing. They surely are "In Christ"; and the "Dead in Christ" are to rise at the Rapture. Paul does not say in 1Thes. 4:16, 1Thes. 4:17, that it will be the "dead" who "watched" and "waited" and "looked," and those who are "alive" and "watch" and "wait" and "look" for His Appearing that shall be "caught out," but the dead "In Christ, " and we who "Are Alive And Remain."
The order of the Resurrections is-"Christ the 'First Fruits,' afterward they that 'are Christ's at His Coming." Paul says-"Behold, I show you a Mystery: we shall not all 'sleep,' but we shall ALL Be Changed." 1Cor. 15:51.
Then there is another fact that we must not forget, and that is, the Unity of the Church.
"For as the Body Is One, and hath many members, and ALL the Members Of That One Body, Being Many ARE ONE BODY; so also is Christ. For by One Spirit are we ALL Baptized Into One Body." 1Cor. 12:12, 1Cor. 12:13.
All then who have been "born again" (John 3:3-5) are part of Christ's "Body," and we cannot conceive of Christ's "Body" being divided; part of it remaining "asleep" in the grave, and part of it "raised in glory"; part of it left to pass through the Tribulation, and part of it "changed" and caught up to meet Him in the air.
If "all" the Church are to pass through the Tribulation, then instead of waiting and watching "for the Lord, " we should be waiting and watching "for the Tribulation " which is contrary to the teaching of Christ Himself. Matt. 24:42-4.
The Tribulation is not for the perfecting "of the Saints." It has nothing to do with the Church. It is the time of "Jacob's Trouble" (Jer. 30:7), and is the "Judgment of Israel," and it is God's purpose to keep the Church Out Of It. Rev. 2:10. The Book of Revelation is written in chronological order. After the fourth chapter the Church is seen no more upon the earth until she appears in the nineteenth chapter coming with the Bridegroom "from" Heaven. The entire time between these two chapters is filled with appalling judgments that fall upon those that "dwell on the earth," and as the Church is not of the earth, but is supposed to "sit together in, "Heavenly Places" in Christ Jesus," (Eph. 2:6), she will not be among those who "dwell on the earth" in those days.
Rapture And Revelation.
The confusion is largely due to the fact that students of Prophetic Truth do not distinguish between Christ's coming "for" His Saints, and "with" His Saints. The former is called the "Rapture" the latter the "Revelation." Between the two there is an interval of at least seven years, during which the Church is "judged," and the "Marriage of the Lamb" takes place in the heavenlies, and on the earth Antichrist manifests himself and the Tribulation runs its course.
Numerous passages in scripture speak of Christ coming "with" His Saints (Zech. 14:5, Col. 3:4, 1Thes. 3:13, 1Thes. 4:14, Jude 14), but it is evident that they cannot come "with" Him, if they had not been previously caught out "to" Him. All such passages refer therefore to the "Revelation" and not the "Rapture."
The typical teaching of the Scriptures demand that the Church be caught out "before" the Tribulation. Joseph was a type of Christ and he was espoused to, and married Asenath, a Gentile bride, during the time of his "rejection by his brethren," and "before the famine," which typified the Tribulation, because it was the time of "Judgment of his Brethren." This is the time of Christ's rejection by "His Brethren"-the Jews, and to complete the type He must get His Bride the church, "before" the Tribulation. Moses, who is also a type of Christ, got his bride, and she a Gentile, "after" his rejection by his brethren, and "before" they passed through the Tribulation under Pharoah. Ex. 2:23-25.
Enoch, a type of the "Translation Saints," was caught out "before" the Flood, and the Flood is a type of the Tribulation, and Noah and his family of the "Jewish Remnant" or 144, 000 sealed ones of Rev. 7:1-3, who will be preserved through the Tribulation.
The "Rapture" will be the most startling "event" of this Age and Dispensation. As it is to occur in the "twinkling of an eye" and all over the earth at the same time, that part of the world that is not asleep will witness the event. As to the "Shout of the Lord," the "Voice of the Archangel, " and the "Trump of God" we do not know whether their sound will be heard and distinguished by others than the "dead in Christ" and the "living saints." We know that one day the Father spoke to Christ in a voice that He understood, but the people who stood by mistook it for "thunder." John 12:28, John 12:29. When the Lord appeared to Saul of Tarsus on the road to Damascus and spoke to him, the men that journeyed with him stood speechless, "hearing a voice," but seeing no man, and not understanding what was said. Acts 9:3-5. We know, however, that the "dead in Christ" will hear the sound, for it will be "intensely penetrating." There will be no graves so deep, no catacombs so rock covered, no pyramids or mausoleums so thick, but what the sound shall reach their depths and the "dead in Christ" shall hear the cry "awake ye sleeping saints and arise from the dead, it is MORNING, the morning of the FIRST RESURRECTION."
The Voice Of The Archangel.
The statement in Dan. 12:11 2 that Michael (the Great Prince) will be busy helping Daniel's People (the Jews), at the time of the Second Coming of Christ, and that there will be an "out from among the dead resurrection" at that time; and the fact that Michael the Archangel contended with the Devil about the dead body of Moses when it was raised from the dead, as we are told in Jude 9, makes it clear that Michael the Archangel will have a part to play in the resurrection of the dead at the Rapture. The "voice" of the Archangel then will be the "voice" of Michael, for he is the only Archangel mentioned in the Scriptures.
As Satan tried to prevent the resurrection of the body of Moses, and as he will not be cast out of the Heavenlies until "after" the First Resurrection, the inference is that he will try to prevent the resurrection of the "dead in Christ," and that he will be opposed by Michael at the head of "Armies of Heaven," and that the "voice of the Archangel" refers to his commands to the Heavenly Army.
The Trump Of God.
What is meant by the "Trump of God" is not so clear. That there is a Trumpet to sound at the "first" Resurrection is certain, for Paul mentions it in his discourse on the Resurrection in 1 Cor. 1S: 52, and calls it the "Last Trump." Some hold that Paul refers to the last of the "Seven Trumpets" mentioned in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 8:1, Rev. 8:2, Rev. 8:6; Rev. 10:7), and as that does not sound until the "Middle of the Week, " that therefore the Church is not caught out until the "Middle of the Week."
But as the Church is to be caught out at the "beginning" of the Week this can not be true. What then is meant by the "Last Trump? "
The Trumpet is a military instrument. It was used in the Camp of Israel to call the Assembly together. The First Trumpet called them to arise and be ready to depart, the Second (last) Trumpet was the signal to march. When God descended upon Mt. Sinai the people were assembled at the sound of the "Trumpet of God." Ex. 19:9-11, Ex. 19:16-18. And when God was ready to speak to the people it sounded the second time (verse 19). It has been suggested that the descent of God to Mt. Sinai is a type of the "Descent of the Lord" into the Air to meet His Church, and that at the sounding of the First Trumpet, the "dead in Christ" will be raised, and at the sounding of the Second (last) Trumpet, the "living Saints" will be changed and together with the risen dead ascend to meet the Lord. The probability of this is seen in the fact that the "Last Trump" is connected with the "changing" of the living Saints, rather than with the resurrection of the dead. 1Cor. 15:51-52.
We know that the "Elect of Israel" are to be gathered back to their own land with a "great sound of a trumpet." Matt. 24:30, Matt. 24:31. This will occur at the
"Feast of Trumpets"
(the Jewish New Year) at the close of the Tribulation Period. The "Feast of Trumpets" was associated with the "Feast of Tabernacles" and occurred in the fall of the year, and as Jesus was crucified at the time of the "Passover Feast," and the Holy Spirit was given at the time of the "Feast of Pentecost," it has been suggested, that as Jesus will reveal Himself to His brethren, the Jews, at the "Feast of Tabernacles," a type of Israel's rest in the Millennial Land, that He will call out His Church with the "sound of a Trumpet" at the "Feast of Trumpets" seven years before the "Elect of Israel" are called out. This however is mere speculation.
If the sainted dead shall slip out of their sepulchres without disturbing them, as Christ arose and left the tomb without breaking the seal, the angel rolling away the stone simply to show that the tomb was empty, the First Resurrection will be secret and probably unknown to the world, but it will not be so with the "Living Saints" who are translated.
If it is night on our side of the earth when the Rapture occurs, the community will wake up in the morning to find all the real Christians gone, disappeared in the night. The world will awake to the fact that the Bible is true, and the much despised doctrine of the Premillennial Coming of the Lord to gather out His Saints is no fanciful interpretation of Scripture.
"I tell you, in that night there shall be two men (omit men) in one bed: the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left. Two women (omit women) shall be grinding together; the one shall be taken and the other left. Two men (omit men) shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left." Luke 17:34-36.
Here we have the "rotundity" of the Earth taught by Christ before it was demonstrated by Columbus. Two in one bed, that means night; two grinding grain for the morning or evening meal, that means sunrise or sunset; two in the field, that means midday, and this is another proof that when the Rapture occurs it will be instantaneous, in the "twinkling of an eye," and shall girdle the earth like lightning.
If it be day with us when the Rapture occurs the event will be "startling." As it was in the days of Noah (Matt. 24:36-38), the people will be eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, buying and selling, planting and building. If it be at a pleasant time of the year, the boats, and cars, and parks, will be filled with pleasure seekers. If it be in the midst of the week and during the business hours of the day, the shops and stores and mills will be filled with toilers and shoppers, and the streets of the cities lined with men-and women and children on pleasure and business bent. Suddenly a noise from heaven will be heard. To the vast majority it will be but a startling "sound," but to many it will be the
"Voice Of The Lord."
When the people shall recover from their affrighted condition they will discover that a great many people are missing, and that the missing ones were the best people in the community.
Confusion for a time will reign. The working force in the stores, banking institutions, manufacturing plants, and other places of business will find their force depleted by the loss of faithful employees. Street car lines and other means of transportation will be blocked owing to a shortage of men. At first, the whole thing will be a Mystery, until some one who has heard of the Doctrine of the "Rapture" explains the situation. The surprise will be that so many professing Christians are left behind, among them many ministers of the Gospel, while many who were not known to be Christian will be missing.
For a few days the excitement will be intense. Then the people will settle down to the inevitable. With the exception of a few who will repent and turn to God, the mass of the people will become more hardened and wicked. As the Holy Spirit will have gone back with the "Raptured Ones," and the Saints, the "salt" of the earth, been taken out, there will be nothing to prevent the rapid degeneration and "Moral Putrefaction" of those who are "left," and sin and iniquity and all manner of crime and worldliness will increase and pave the way for the manifestation of Antichrist, under whose administration the world will rapidly ripen for judgment.
VI. The "Judgment" of the Church.
After the Church has been taken out of the World it is to be "judged." Not for sin, but for works, at the "Judgment Seat of Christ." See judgment No. 2, in the Chapter on "The judgments," and on the Chart of "The Resurrections and judgments."
VII. The "MARRIAGE" Of The Church.
The "Marriage" of the Church is prophetically- referred to by Jesus in the Parable of the "Marriage of the King's Son" (Matt. 22:1-3), and is consummated in Rev. 19:7-9.
"Let us be glad and rejoice and give honor to Him; for the
'Marriage of the Lamb'
is come, and His wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white. for the fine linen is the righteousness of Saints. And he saith unto me, write, Blessed are they which are called unto the MARRIAGE SUPPER OF THE LAMB."
Notice that it does not say the "Marriage of the Bride," but the "Marriage of the LAMB." That grand event will be not so much the consummation of the hopes of the Bride, as it will be the consummation of the plan of God for His Son, arranged for before the foundation of the World. Eph. 1:4. The "Marriage of the Lamb" is the consummation of the joy of Christ as a MAN. It would not have been possible if Christ had not been born in the flesh. Otherwise it would have been the union of "dissimilar natures" for the "Bride" is of "human origin." This is why Jesus took His "human nature" back with Him to Heaven, and today we have in Heaven the MAN Christ Jesus. 1Tim. 2:5.
While the "Bride" was chosen for Christ "before the foundation of the world," the "espousal" could not take place until Christ assumed humanity and ascended to Heaven as the Man Christ Jesus. There have been many long betrothals but Christ's has been the longest on record. He has been waiting for His Bride nearly 1900 years, but He will not have to wait much longer. Soon Heaven shall resound with the cry-
"Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him, for the Marriage of the Lamb is Come." Rev. 19:7.
There have been many royal weddings of international interest, where the invited guests and spectators witnessed a spectacle magnificent in its appointments, and rejoiced in a union that bound together different nations. But the wedding of the Lamb and His Bride the Church will surpass them all, for it shall unite Heaven and Earth in a bond that shall never be broken, for what God (the Father) shall join together, no man shall ever put asunder, and that union no divorce shall ever break.
The Bride shall be "arrayed in fine linen, clean and white; for the fine linen is the righteousness of Saints." Rev. 19:7, Rev. 19:8. The word "righteousness" is plural, and should read "righteousnesses." Not the imputed righteousness of Christ, but the "righteous acts and works" of the saints themselves, that shall remain after they have passed through the "fiery test" of the "Judgment for Works" at the "Judgment Seat of Christ." 1Cor. 3:11-13. What a contrast there will be between the purple and scarlet colored dress, and jewel bedecked person, of the "Harlot Wife" of Antichrist (Rev. 17:3, Rev. 17:4), and the spotless white robe of fine linen of the Bride of the Lamb.
After the Marriage, the Heavenly Bridegroom, having received His Kingdom, will return to this earth where He bled and died, and from whence He got His Bride, and the Lord God will give unto Him the "Throne of David," and He shall reign on the earth for a Thousand Years." What a sweet and delightful "Honey-Moon" that will be. But it will end, not for the Bridegroom and the Bride, but for the earth, by their return to the Father's House. Then after the earth has had its "Baptism of Fire," they will return with the descent of the "Holy City" to abide on the New Earth forever. See the chart on "The Church."
HE IS COMING
He is coming, coming for us;
Soon we'll see His light afar,
On the dark horizon rising,
As the Bright and Morning- Star,
Cheering many a waking watcher,
As the star whose kindly ray
Heralds the approaching morning
Just before the break of day.
Oh! what joy, as night hangs round us,
'Tis to think of morning's ray;
Sweet to know He's coming for us,
Just before the break of day.
He is coming, coming for us;
Soon we'll hear His voice on high;
Dead and living, rising, changing,
In the twinkling of an eye
Shall be caught up altogether,
For the meeting in the air;
With a shout the Lord, descending,
Shall Himself await us there.
Oh! what joy that great foregathering,
Trusted meeting in the air;
Sweet to know He's coming for us,
Calling us to join Him there.
He is coming as the Bridegroom,
Coming to unfold at last
The great secret of His purpose,
Mystery of ages past.
And the Bride, to her is granted
In His beauty now to shine,
As in rapture she exclaimeth,
"I am His and He is mines'
Oh! what joy that marriage union,
Mystery of love divine;
Sweet to sing in all its fulness,
"I am His and He is mine."