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Until He Returns Prophetic Bible Ministries is an independent, non-profit organization and is not affiliated with any church or denomination. Our purpose is to provide programs that will assist participants in gaining knowledge of Bible prophecy, and to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Classes are normally held on the 1st and 3rd Monday of every month from 6:30-8:30 pm in the ballroom of the Best Western Ashland House Inn, located at 201 E. Ashland St. in Morton, on the 1st and 3rd Monday of every month from 6:30-8:30 pm at Grace Church, 1311 W. Hovey Street in Normal, and on the 2nd and 4th Monday of every month from 6:30-8:30 pm at Northwest Baptist Church, located at 5430 N. Big Hollow Road in Peoria. There is no fee for taking these classes; however, free-will offerings are accepted. Refreshments and coffee are provided.
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New Feature of Our Homepage
We are proud to add a new feature to our homepage entitled Prophecy Chat. Mrs. Sharon Clemens, one of our class instructors, has been writing her Prophecy Chat email newsletter for quite some time to send to anyone who subscribes to it. We feel that this newsletter would be an invaluable tool on our website also, for anyone wanting to learn more about Bible prophecy, and also seeing how world events happening right now are taken directly from pages of Scripture. We hope you will agree. For more information about Sharon, a picture and a brief biography of her can be found under the Our Instructors tab on this website.
Prophecy Chat – August 14, 2017
WHAT HAPPENS IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THE RAPTURE?
Dear Friends in Christ,
What happens following the Rapture? Do we spend eternity floating on clouds and playing harps? The Bible describes a much more fulfilling reality!
THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST
2 Corinthians 5:10 – “For we must all appear before the judgment of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.” This is a judgment of rewards for the church.
WHEN: At the Rapture, in the clouds or air or heavenlies [1 Thess. 4:17], we shall be examined by the Son of God through a test of fire at the “bema” or “reward seat.” This is not a judgment of salvation, as only those “in Christ” are present at the Rapture in the first place. This is a judgment of reward. His searing gaze from eyes like blazing fire [Rev. 1:14] will instantly reveal whether the work we accomplished on the earth was to the glory of God or worthless [1 Corinthians 3:9-15]. We will be held accountable for what we were given to invest a for the work we are set apart to do [Ephesians 2:10]; but this test will clearly show the incredible manifest blessings of our testing, trials, servanthood, persecution, and devotion to Christ. It will all be exposed as worthwhile and “worth it.” That which was useless will not endure and will be burned up.
The event takes place immediately following the translation of the church out of this earth’s sphere because reward is associated with resurrection [Luke 14:14; 1 Thess. 4:13-17]. When the Lord returns to the earth with His bride to reign [Revelation 19:8], the bride is seen already rewarded and made ready. Also, the “righteousness of the saints” is plural and cannot refer to only the imputed righteousness of Christ but also to the righteousnesses which have survived examination. [Pentecost, pp. 220-221]
WHAT: The gold, silver and precious stones that survive this test or are “made manifest” through the burning away of wood, hay and stubble, are likened to adornment for our white wedding gown, which is the righteousness of Christ. This judgment is not to determine what is good or bad ethically, but rather to determine what is acceptable or worthless in the eternal scheme of things. “It is not the Lord’s purpose here to chasten His child for his sins, but to reward his service for those things done in the name of the Lord,” Pentecost notes. [p. 223] We will delight to have adornment that can be displayed as coming from a heart devoted to doing the will of God. The “loss” referred to in 1 Corinthians 3 is the loss of joy from not having more to give to Christ.
We will also receive our crowns at this judgment. A crown is an apt description of something that is also indestructible by fire and that is a worthy reward:
An incorruptible crown for those who get mastery over the old sin nature [1 Cor. 9:25]; 2. A crown of rejoicing for the soul winners [1 Thess. 2:19]; 3. A crown of life for those enduring trials [James 1:12]; 4. A crown of righteousness for loving His appearing [2 Timothy 4:8]; and 5. A crown of glory for being willing to feed the flock of God, such as a pastor [1 Peter 5:4]. [See Revelation 4:10 notes following]
THE MARRIAGE OF THE LAMB
Immediately following the bema is the elegant and breathtaking Marriage of the Lamb. The relation between Christ and the church is described as bridegroom and bride [John 3:29; Romans 7:4; 2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:25-33; Rev. 19:7-8; 21]. Pentecost: “At the translation of the church Christ is appearing as a bridegroom to take His bride unto Himself, so that the relationship that was pledged might be consummated and that the two might become one.” [p. 226] Becoming one with Christ, becoming “like” Him, seeing Him as He is, can only be described as outside our human ability to comprehend. As Paul said in Ephesians 5, “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”
WHEN: The time of the marriage is between the translation [Rapture] of the church and the second coming. In Revelation 19:7 the declaration is: “the marriage of the Lamb is come.” The aorist tense, ¯elthen, translated “is come,” signifies a completed act at the time Christ returns. The marriage also follows the bema because the Bride is adorned for her marriage with her rewards.
WHERE: Every bride considers carefully where she wishes to be married and where she wishes to celebrate the marriage. In this case, however, it is the groom who makes all the arrangements. The place of the marriage of the Lamb can only be in heaven as it follows Jewish tradition that it would take place at the home of the groom. This analogy begins with the groom, Christ, coming in the clouds to the bride’s home, earth, to receive her and take her to His home in heaven for the wedding. No other location would be grand enough for Christ’s splendor.
However, it should be carefully noted that in order to invite Israel and the Old Testament saints and the tribulation saints to the wedding supper of the Lamb, as distinct from the wedding ceremony, the supper takes place on the earth during the Millennial Kingdom. Just as the bride is resurrected for her wedding, so these invited guests must be resurrected in order to enjoy the wedding supper—and to have their wedding garments. According to Daniel 12:1-3, Is. 26:19-21, and Rev. 20:4-6, the Old Testament saints and Israel and Tribulation saints will not be resurrected until the Second Coming of Christ.
The marriage supper is an event that clearly involves Israel and takes place on the earth as is seen in Matt. 22:1-14; Lk. 14:16-24; and Matt. 25:1-13. In these passages, Israel is awaiting the return of the bridegroom and the bride, the wedding feast or supper is located on the earth and has particular reference to Israel. The wedding supper, Dr. Pencost believes, is a parabolic picture of the entire millennial age, to which Israel will be invited during the tribulation period.
This is illustrated by the answer of John the Baptist. In John 3:29 he referred to himself as a friend of the bridegroom—and not the bride or the groom. Recall that John was beheaded by Herod BEFORE Pentecost and the birth of the church. He is, then, among the privileged invited guests of Revelation 19:9—“Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!” Note that invitation immediately precedes the 2nd Coming of Christ to the earth following the Tribulation. The reception will follow in the Millennial Kingdom.
WHO IS THE BRIDE: Christ is the groom; only Church Age believers qualify as the bride of Christ. The church is representative of God’s completed program for this age and is seen as translated, resurrected, and presented to the Son by the Father [John 17:9-12] as a particular gift. The father in Jewish tradition would choose a suitable bride for his son, and so it is here. The groom, Christ, will then take His bride/wife to earth to present her to His friends as evidence of His redemptive glory. This in no way detracts from God’s plan for Israel and the Saints of dispensations outside of the Church Age. The rewards for Israel are distinct from those of the Church and revolve around the covenant promises the Lord made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It would take too much space to elaborate on the rewards that will be given to those believers outside of the Church at this time.
NOTE: I have on my office wall a lovely poster of the Wedding Supper of the Lamb as it could appear in heaven. Damask linen covers a table laid with the finest china, crystal, and gold. The table itself extends past the horizon. Although many believe the wedding ceremony will take place in heaven and the supper or feast will take place on the earth, others note that the prototype of the Jewish wedding celebration was many days in duration. The ceremony and culmination took place during the wedding “week” in the midst of feasting and the feast continued days after. It may well be that the celebration begins in heaven but will continue on the earth during the entire Kingdom period.
WILL THE CHURCH WITNESS THE TRIBULATION FROM HEAVEN?
What happens after the wedding in heaven? Not only will the church be a witness to the outpouring of God’s wrath in heaven, but our presence serves to balance His wrath with His grace. We are not mindless spirits before the throne; we are resurrected, vibrant and contributing participants in the ongoing heavenly events. After our wedding, we are honored and present to see the culmination of God the Father’s eternal plan through the orchestration of His Son and heir, Jesus Christ—our heavenly bridegroom. When the Lamb stands to take the scroll from the hand of the Father—the scroll which is the title deed of the earth—we erupt in praise with the angels and cherubim [Rev. 5:11]. Words cannot describe the praise and pride we will feel surrounding the thrones as we join with all heaven to sing.
Revelation 4:10 – THE PRESENTATION OF THE CROWNS: As proof that the completed church is in heaven at the beginning of the Tribulation and is represented by the 24 elders, notice in Revelation 4:10 the ceremony of the presentation of crowns to Christ: “…the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: ‘You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things and by Your will they exist and were created.’” Pentecost says that it is clear the crowns will not be for the eternal glory of the recipient, but for the glory of the Giver. We are redeemed in order to bring glory to God [1 Cor. 6:20]; it is our destiny. [Ibid p. 226]
ONLY THE CHURCH IS GIVEN CROWNS IN THE BIBLE. The 24 elders on 24 thrones represent the completed church in heaven. John MacArthur: Their joint rule with Christ, their white garments [19:7, 8], and their golden crowns [2:10] all seem to indicate that these 24 represent the redeemed [vv. 9-11; 5:5-14; 7:11-17; 11:16-18; 14:3; 19:4]. The question is which redeemed? Not Israel, since the nation is not yet saved, glorified, and coronated. That is still to come at this point in the events of the end. Their resurrection and glory will come at the end of the 7 year tribulation time [cf. Daniel 12:1-3]. Tribulation saints aren’t yet saved [7:9-10]. Only one group will be complete and glorified at that point—the church, the redeemed who can sing a “new song.” The elders represent the church, which sings the song of redemption [5:8-10]. [MacArthur Study Bible, NKJV] Only the Church is redeemed at this point! [Note: Some of your translations may not have the personal pronouns “us,” “us,” and “we” in 5:9-10. Dr. David Hocking points out that there are 23 Greek manuscripts that use “us” and “we” in 5:9-10 instead of “men,” “them,” and “they” from every tribe and language and people and nation—out of 95 total manuscripts. However, only 25 manuscripts include Revelation 5. Therefore, of the 25 manuscripts of Rev. 5, 23 use the pronouns “us” and “we” as personal pronouns of the redeemed meaning the elders were singing about their own redemption, not about the redemption of future men.]
The Pre-Trib Research Center, Dr. Thomas Ice: “Who the 24 elders represent can be very important in regards to the pre-trib rapture. The 24 elders are mentioned five times in the Book of Revelation as follows: 4:4, 10; 5:8; 11:16; and 19:4. If they represent the church, then it reflects what one would expect if the rapture has occurred before the tribulation has begun… I think it is clearly the church that these 24 elders represent and therefore it supports the fact that Christ’s Bride has been taken to heaven before the start of the tribulation.” MacArthur also notes that presbuteroi [elders] is never used in Scripture to refer to angels, but only to men.
Specifically, it is believed that the 12 Apostles will sit on 12 of these thrones from Matthew 19:28 – “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Notice also Revelation 20:4, a description of what follows immediately after the return of the Lord to the earth after the Tribulation: “And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them.” This is the judgment Christ said would be the responsibility and honor given to the Apostles—the judgment of resurrected Israel [Daniel 12: 1-3]. [See note on 12th Apostle following]
THE IDENTITY OF THE OTHER 12 ELDERS: Because the 24 elders represent the completed church in heaven, until the Rapture of the church we cannot know who Christ will choose for the honor to have these front row seats. However, the elders are representative of the entire church and we are with them before the throne of God and Christ at His right hand.
WHAT WILL WE BE DOING IN THE MILLENNIAL KINGDOM?
Rev. 21:9 to 22:7 describes the eternal home of the resurrected saints. Although we will “commute” to serve Christ on earth during the Millennial Kingdom—in our resurrected bodies—we will reside in the New Jerusalem. How do we know we have a purpose in the Millennial Kingdom? In 2 Corinthians 5:8, Paul promised that when we are resurrected, our eternal state is “present with the Lord.” Luke 19:11-27 also gives us insight. Christ spoke a parable about how servants were to conduct themselves as their master went away to receive a kingdom. He told them they were to do business or “occupy” until He returned. The minas they were given to invest and the return on their investments represented the responsibility they would be given in the future. In Luke 19 and again in Matthew 25, the parable of the talents, the principle is the same. Those who serve Christ in their life will reign with Him in the Millennial Kingdom. [2 Timothy 2:12—“If we suffer, we shall also reign with him…”] [Rev. 20:6 – All who are the resurrected and redeemed of Christ will reign with Him for a thousand years.] [1 Cor. 6:2,3; Rev. 2:26-27]
WHAT WILL WE BE DOING IN THE ETERNAL HEAVEN?
Revelation 21 and 22 give us a panoramic view of eternity. Perhaps we could begin to understand the enormity of eternity by looking at Revelation 21:5 – “Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’” In the original Greek, the word “make” is more correctly present tense or “I am making all things new.” In heaven, our Creator God will continually be making new things beyond all comprehension. We will be witnesses to the first day of new creations again, and again.
Dr. Pentecost describes heaven as follows:
A life of fellowship with Him
A life of rest
A life of full knowledge
A life of holiness
A life of joy
A life of service
A life of abundance
A life of glory
A life of worship
Pentecost summarizes his view of heaven in this way: “There is the danger that the redeemed one will become so occupied with the anticipation of his own experience of glory that the supreme glorification of the Godhead is lost. Our occupation in the eternal state will not be with our position or glory but with God, Himself. John writes: ‘We shall see Him as he is’ [1 John 3:2].
In Him We Wait, Work and Watch,
Sharon L. Clemens
Things to Come, J. Dwight Pentecost. Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 1958.
“Who Are the 24 Elders,” Dr. Thomas Ice. Pre-Trib Research Center.
The MacArthur Study Bible, NKJV. Dr. John MacArthur. Word Bibles. 1997.
NOTE: There is speculation about the identity of the 12th Apostle as Judas was a son of perdition [hell] and a false convert. Matthias was chosen through prayer and the casting of lots to take the place of Judas [Acts 1:15ff] and he did fulfill the qualifications of a disciple and apostle—apart from a direct call from Christ. I personally believe Christ called Saul who became Paul to be the 12th apostle on the road to Damascus [Acts 9; Galatians 1:15-17]. The Lord then undertook to teach Paul personally [2 Corinthians 12:1-6], which is a requirement of discipleship. Paul rightly referred to himself as an apostle of Christ again and again [1 Corinthians 9:1-2] and his ministry is the hallmark of the epistles. After Acts 1, we hear little of Matthias.