Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Rapture picture

I was poking around in an old, old cemetery one day. I like cemeteries. I grew up next to one, and played there for hours. I liked to look at the 'old Indian graves', (which were really the graves of the first residents, 1600s era), marveled at the towering granite statues from the richer dead inhabitants, I was saddened by the baby graves. I rode my bike up and down the long, hilly pathways, and read Nancy Drew books under the pine tree near the brook.

Being that the family business was Undertaking, and that we lived next to a cemetery and there were two across the street, I thought about death a lot. Even in my child's mind, I'd wonder, what happens after death? Is there more, or is this it? Where are all those dead people now?

The interest in cemeteries lasted through my adulthood. I'd visit them to take pictures wherever I went.
EPrata photo

EPrata photo
 
EPrata photo

I waited 42 years, but then I found out the answers to my childhood questions. I discovered the incredible, certain, absolute truth. There IS more after death. Everyone who lay under the ground in all those cemeteries I visit are either in heaven or in hell. In heaven, it's perfect and wonderful and Jesus is there.

EPrata photo
But how do you get there? One must repent of their sins. Sins prevent us from going to heaven, which is holy because God is holy. It is His holy habitation. And yes, we all sin. You are a sinner. I am a sinner. We are born that way. We are always doing, or thinking, or saying wrong things that rebel against God. We all have sinned and fall short of His glory. (Romans 3:23)

So God sent Jesus down to earth. "You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor, putting everything in subjection under his feet." (Hebrews 2:7-8)

Jesus lived the perfectly sinless life that we could not. He preached Gd's truth to a rebellious nation. He was despised, rejected, and crucified. Jesus' rejection and death did not surprise God. This was all according to God's plan. When Jesus was dying, he became sin, and God poured out His wrath on Jesus, wrath that was meant for us. Pleased with His Son's submission, life, and sacrifice, God raised Jesus on the third day. Jesus is alive!

Jesus had become the sacrificial lamb in our stead, living the life we were meant to but couldn't because of Adam and Eve's sin in the Garden. He died, taking on all of God's wrath for our sins. Because Jesus made a way, now any person can enter heaven through Jesus and be forgiven of their sins. They will be declared righteous, their sins pardoned, because God exhausted His wrath on Jesus. You will have escaped the penalty. All you had to do is ask forgiveness and submit to Jesus.

If a person refuses to go through Jesus, asking Him to forgive their sins and repenting of them, then when they die they will go to hell and receive the wrath that is due them. You see, the pardon only extends to those who go through Jesus, that is the only place where the wrath was exhausted. That's what we mean when we say 'Jesus is the only way.' In no other religion, scheme, method, or plan, are your sins forgiven and are you made holy by God. If all the people of all the world end up going to heaven by all these different paths, what makes it heaven? It would not be holy. And God would not be God because He never would have dealt with man's rebellion against Him and rendered justice. No, Jesus is the only way. We are blessed that there IS a way!

As John Bunyan, eventual writer of Pilgrim's Progress, was being convicted of his sins and just prior to his conversion, he heard this in his mind:

‘Will you leave your sins and go to heaven, or have your sins and go to hell?’

Someday Jesus will return. He will put a stop to all this evil in the world. He will render justice, and avenge the blood of the martyrs. (Revelation 6:10). He will judge all flesh, according to their deeds.

But before He comes He is going to call His bride home. His bride is His church. He is going to emerge from His holy abode in heaven, shout with a loud voice and the dead shall rise and the living shall rise and we will meet Him in the air. He will lead us to heaven and we will escape the wrath of God. God will unleash His stored-up anger and it will become a literal hell on earth.

In the rapture event to come, Paul said the dead shall rise first. He was answering the Thessalonians' questions about the things of the end of days, and Paul said "Don't you remember when I was with you I was telling you these things?" (2 Thessalonians 2:5.) He was referring to this verse:
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)
I think about that verse a lot. It is the moment when the end of the Age of Grace occurs and we shall be translated from our sinful fleshly bodies to glorified sinless bodies, and be with the Lord in Heaven.

Back to the first line in this essay. I was poking around an old cemetery in my neck of the woods. I saw this grave and I wondered what had happened to it. Then I started thinking that when Jesus calls us in the rapture, all the graves are going to look like this!!

I no longer have to wonder about the grave. The grave will not hold me. Will it hold you? Will you repent of your sins and enter heaven through the narrow gate? The narrow gate is Jesus, and He is waiting for you. The age is fast coming to a close. The trumpet will blow...and the dead shall rise...

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)

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