From Magic City Morning Star|
This is about Easter, but I promise it ends with a twist that will cause you to imagine the rapture, the resurrection, from an entirely different angle.
Easter--the day Christians in every nation on earth celebrate the glorious resurrection of Jesus. Without this miraculous event, Christianity would be as irrelevant and ineffectual as Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and all the other empty, man-made religions that try in vain to connect with God, or the religious men and women who claim to be Christians but deny the central doctrine of our faith.
The impossibility of the resurrection is without question, the objection most often raised by skeptics and enemies of Christianity. This skepticism isn't limited to the sophisticated men and women of the twenty-first century. In Paul's memorable address to the men of first-century Athens (remember, "the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas"--Acts 17: 21), he warned them of a coming day when God would judge the world with justice. To support his claim, Paul cited the resurrection of Jesus as proof that God has the authority to someday sit in judgment of the world.
However, when the brilliant men who filled the beautiful Areopagus heard Paul's talk of the resurrection, Luke, the author of the book of Acts, records that some of them sneered. The notion that someone could be raised from the dead was foolishness, utter nonsense to these learned representatives of the people.
Later Paul, then a prisoner of Rome, had an opportunity to present the Gospel (1 Corinthians 15: 1 -- 4) to King Agrippa (Herod Agrippa), the first century Judean monarch. After capturing the King's attention with a riveting speech, Paul said,
At the mention of the resurrection, Herod rudely interrupted Paul shouting, "You are out of your mind, Paul! Your great learning is driving you insane!"
Skeptics smugly smile and wink at the story of a Jewish boy, born to a naïve young virgin in the dusty shepherd's outpost called Bethlehem. The enemies of Christianity admire the noble character of the man named Jesus, so long as they're not required to emulate his life. But let someone mention a literal resurrection of the dead, and all hell breaks loose.
Why is that?
The Apostle John records that Mary Magdala was the one who saw the resurrected Jesus first. Luke elaborates on John's account, noting that Joanna and Mary the mother of James were with Mary Magdala. Luke also says Jesus appeared to two of his followers on the road to Emmaus.
Paul writes that Jesus "appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of who are still living ... then he appeared to James." If Paul's account was false, you can be sure that the first-century equivalents of CNN, MSNBC, Huffington Post, and Yahoo News would be all over the story, loudly protesting the exaggerated tales of a new religion.
Resurrections are never secret events in the Bible.
Before Jesus raised a ruler's daughter to life, the crying and wailing crowd began to laugh when they misunderstood the words he spoke to them. But moments later, Jesus raised the little girl from the dead, astonishing her grieving family and the mocking crowd - Matthew 9: 8 - 26; Mark 5: 21 -- 45.
A noisy group of mourners was accompanying a widow who was on the way to bury her son. But Jesus interrupted the mournful procession, commanding the young man to get out of his coffin. The stunned throng was filled with awe, praising God for the miracle - Luke 7: 11 -16.
In one of the most touching scenes in Scripture, Jesus restores life to his dead friend, Lazarus, who had died three days earlier. So many people placed their trust in Jesus because of this very public resurrection that the religious leaders began to plot the murder of Jesus and his friend - John 11: 1 -- 54.
Perhaps the most astonishing resurrection took place upon Jesus' death. Matthew records that when Jesus died, the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. And then a mass resurrection took place. Matthew writes that "the tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city (Jerusalem) and appeared to many people." -- Matthew 27: 50 -- 54.
In his letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul reveals some new information about the future resurrection of Christ's followers:
Paul describes these twin events in another letter, this one to the Thessalonians:
Most of my life, I've believed that when the Lord returns for his church, the dead believers will be resurrected and the living Christians will be raptured--and immediately both groups are transported to heaven.
But in his excellent book, Antichrist Before the Day of the Lord, the author, Alan Kurschner, raises the possibility that our departure from this earth may not be immediate:
Think on that possibility for a moment!
Earthly kings demonstrate their power by public executions. King Jesus proves his power by public resurrections.
We saw the very public resurrections time and again in the examples I cited from Scripture, didn't we? Why would the most profound and eagerly anticipated event in all of history, the parousia of Christ, announced by spectacular signs, his visible coming with power and great glory, and the rapture of his saints, be hidden from public view?
Perhaps it's my unwholesome desire for vindication--of the world's deliberate rejection and suppression of the truth--that has me longing for a public demonstration that we are, indeed, members of God's family. Maybe Paul is hinting at this possibility when he writes,
In The Weight of Glory, C.S. Lewis writes,
Imagine God so delighted in us, even as an artist delights in his work or a father in his son, that he chooses to put on display the results of his substitutionary death and resurrection. For a brief period, hours or even days, we would be living testimony to the work of Christ.
Envision a resurrected Abraham Lincoln, slowly making his way through a cadre of TV crews and cameras as he walks to the White House. Or thirteen martyred Coptic Christians, alive and praising God before a band of ISIS terrorists in the Middle East. Visualize the raptured professor who was shamefully dismissed for teaching the creator of the universe is God, now victoriously stepping through the halls of the university, vindicated by her Creator. How about bankrupted bakery owners and wedding photographers, clothed in their immortal bodies, dancing in joy before the judges who wrongfully deprived them of a livelihood?
We don't have a full understanding of what all will happen at the rapture. But judging by the examples of resurrections in Scripture, our personal Easter will be unimaginably glorious.
I can hardly wait!
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Mar 22, 2015
The god-man: seed of Satan is the first in a two-part, pre-wrath rapture thriller that tells the riveting story of the rise of the treacherous Antichrist, the god-man who will come to prominence during the seventieth week of Daniel.
Bruce Biller, a longtime student of the Bible and the End Times, believes that Christians will live through the Great Tribulation before Christ's return, rather than being taken to heaven first. His novel set during the last few years of human history, The god-man: seed of Satan, is his vision of how life may be for Christians during the rise of the AntiChrist.
"The god-man: seed of Satan"
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