The Time Is Near

It has been preached for nearly 2000 years that Jesus would be returning soon.  The nature of that teaching, and what that exactly entails, has been intensely debated in church history.  As a kid growing up in church, I remember there being a lot of talk about Jesus’ return and end-time Bible prophecy.  Sadly, that is no longer the case as the focus of most churches, at least here in America, has been around building God’s kingdom here on earth, or trying to reach people with a “gospel” built on love and acceptance without offending anyone in the areas of sin, holiness, and judgment.  With such a watered-down and sugar-coated “gospel” that is promoted and taught in most churches, it is no wonder that there is little to no talk of Jesus’ return or end-time events.


I recently read that the Barna Group found that 51% of church goers have no clue as to the what the Great Commission is, and of the remaining 49% only about 17% know what it is and where in Scripture it comes from (Matthew 28:9-20 and Mark 16:15-18).  This could explain why most churches are not even actively engaging in and being obedient to it, but instead are looking to either build God’s kingdom here on earth or to see how many people they can gain in their congregations without offending people through a watered-down sugar-coated “gospel”.  Could this also explain why there is so little preached or taught in churches about Jesus’ return and Biblically prophesied end-time events.  A gospel preached absent of the future return of Jesus and prophesied end-time events, as well as the necessity to be living right and free of sin in the sight of God, is not the complete or balanced gospel found within Scripture.


For the first time in Israel’s existence since it was formed 70 years ago, an Arab leader has acknowledged Israel and their right to their own land.  That same leader has also been in private conversations with Jewish leaders, working with President Trump to push a peace treaty between Israel and their neighbors.  I will add that it was reported several years ago that Saudi Arabia had plans for a 7-year peace treaty with Israel, one that had been on the “back-burner” waiting for the right time to promote.  Could this be the 7-year peace treaty the Bible talks about, the one that starts the Great Tribulation period found in Daniel 9:27?  Only time will tell, but I wonder how many people in churches across this nation know of the Bible prophesies regarding a 7-year peace treaty, or are even watching the signs pointing to its fulfillment?  There are several things that have transpired within this past week or so, things that are pointing to the fulfillment of Bible prophecy as it relates to the last days and the Great Tribulation period.  Things like the forming of alliances between specific countries in the Middle East, the growing intensity in and around the city of Damascus, just to name a couple.  Oh, and let us not forget that Israel turns 70 next month, a very significant event to be mindful of as we continue into the days ahead of us.


So, how many Christians are paying attention to the signs, knowing that their fulfillment point even stronger to the return of Jesus for His Bride in an event known as the Rapture?  Again, sadly, not too many.  In the midst of watching Bible end-time prophesies being fulfilled before our eyes, and the apparent ignorance of church goers of what is going on and what it means to them as Christians, there is a growing concern among some who study Bible prophecy regarding pastors being held accountable for not teaching and preparing their congregations about these things and the times we’re in.  I believe their concern is a valid one, knowing that if people in their congregations are not aware of the signs or ready when Jesus returns, they can find themselves left behind and having to face a period that will be the worst ever experienced in world history.  I pray that these pastors, these shepherds, will wake up and start making their congregations, their flocks, aware of the times we’re living in, as well as the need to be ready when He returns and what that means.


I was listening to someone the other day, someone that doesn’t understand what the Bible calls the “good news”, and some of what he was prophesying regarding future events for America.  Among the many things that concerned me with what he was saying, he made it clear that any Christian that doesn’t embrace what he’s prophesying is a weak and immature Christian who doesn’t know the voice of God.  He further indicated that Christians who speak of things in the world getting worse, along with a hope of escaping them (probably referring to the Rapture), that they are defeatist, gloom and doom Christians who are not hearing the voice of God.  When he mentioned that, I immediately thought that those who don’t subscribe to his vision of what is ahead probably know the Bible and Bible prophesy better than he does.  A lot of people are really embracing the things he’s saying, excited to hear from him more of what God is telling him.  In 2 Timothy 4:2-4, the Apostle Paul tells us that in the last days Christians will turn away from sound doctrine because they have itching ears for teaching that supports their desires.  Paul also tells us in 1 Timothy 4:1-2 that many will depart from the Christian faith to follow deceiving spirits and doctrines inspired and promoted by demons.  Is this just one example of what the Bible warns us will be taking place in these last days?


As I thought about this person and the confidence he has in hearing the voice of God, and how that what he’s telling people is contradictory to what Scripture has to say, ignoring or discounting the fact that Bible prophecy is being fulfilled right before our eyes, I was reminded of an account recorded in 2 Chronicles 18:1-34; 19:1-2.  In a summary of what transpires in this portion of Scripture, two kings are looking to enter a war with another king and are inquiring if the Lord will go before them into battle.  Four hundred prophets’ prophecy that they are to go to war, and that they will be victorious because God will give them the victory, but one of the kings wants to hear from a prophet of the Lord.  A prophet of God is summoned, one that the king of Israel doesn’t like because he never tells him anything of prosperity or good things.  The prophet of God arrives on the scene, and when asked by the kings what God would say to them regarding this battle, the prophet says something very interesting.  This prophet, Micaiah, tells them that God wanted them to go into battle where the king of Israel would be killed, and God inquired of those surrounding His throne as to who could persuade the king to go into battle.  Micaiah recounts that one of those around the throne said he would persuade the king to go forward in this battle, and when God asked him how he would do it the answer was that he would cause the prophets to believe a lie and tell the king to do so.  God approved of this, and that is why all four hundred prophets were prophesying that he should go to war.  The king didn’t like what he said and chose to follow with the answer he got from the four hundred prophets, and despite his attempt to disguise himself got shot by an errant arrow that caused him to die later that day.


Is it possible that the same thing is happening now, where people are claiming to hear one thing from God as to what is ahead for America, bringing America into judgment and exposing where the hearts of many Christians really is?  The Holy Spirit will never contradict Scripture, but so many Christians choose to embrace what people say they are hearing from God instead of searching the Scriptures, and not just the ones they are using, to verify if what is being said truly is from God.  Is our focus more on the future of America, or on eternity in Heaven with Jesus and reaching the lost with the good news of the gospel?  I fear for the pastors that choose to not preach and teach about Jesus’ return and the future of the world through the eyes of Bible prophecy, knowing that they will be held accountable for those under their leadership that find themselves eternally lost because they were not told the complete and balanced Word of God which includes Jesus’ return and end-time events.  Many pastors try to avoid preaching about anything that might offend someone and keep them away, things like sin, holiness, and a coming judgment, and God will hold them accountable for that.  Sometimes what is edifying to the body of Christ is not always pleasant or good to hear, or feel, but the edification comes when the person accepts it and makes the necessary changes to grow in their faith and live as God would have them to.  On the flip side, not everything that is good is from or of God, and anything that is good from God can become something that is not good if it gets in the way of what God has for that person in their relationship with Him.


The time is near, near for the return of Jesus for His bride, and near for the start of Jacob’s trouble when God pours out His wrath and judgments upon the earth.  Pay attention to the signs and take the necessary steps to be ready when Jesus does return, which is very soon.  The time is near.


John Johansson


[thrive_leads id=’457′]


A word often spoken about animals that have a knack of getting loose from a pen or some other form of restraint, or even of people that have a way of getting free of restraints or situations they face, is Houdini.  Houdini is not just a word, but it is a name, the name of a great escape artist, Harry Houdini.  Harry Houdini started his career in the late 1800’s and became very popular in the early 1900’s.  Houdini is known as probably one of the best escape artists of all time, and perhaps possibly the best of the best.  Houdini’s escapes were not just merely escaping out of straight-jackets, or any variety of locks and chains to which he was bound to.  Houdini’s escapes were acts that threatened his life if he was not successful within a timely manner, and thus they were acts of escaping death or serious life-threatening injuries.  These kinds of escapes are known as Escapology, the escape from restraints, other traps, or other perils.


Whenever the subject of the rapture is mentioned, some will discount it as a teaching of Escapism.  Often those who call it escapism are people that don’t believe in the rapture, though they do believe in the Second Coming of Christ when He returns to establish His kingdom for a thousand years.  Those who believe the rapture is a teaching of escapism view those who believe in it as people wanting to escape the realities of daily life and it’s many challenges for something better.  Opponents of the rapture teaching believe Christians are to be hard at work to change their communities, and the world at large, through various ways and means for Christ, so that through such changes the church will overcome the enemies of Jesus and thereby usher in His return to establish His earthly kingdom here.  In previous blogs I have established that the Bible clearly teaches a coming rapture event, a separate event from the Second Coming of Christ that takes place at the end of the Tribulation period, but is the context of these teachings based on escapism?


Before we tackle the question of whether or not the rapture teaching is a teaching of escapism, I want to take a brief look at another view of the rapture.  Some people believe that the rapture is a future event to come, but instead of seeing it as an escape of some kind, they focus on the aspect of the rapture where followers of Christ will be reunited with Him for all eternity.  They take the perspective that the sole or primary reason for the rapture is to be reunited with Christ, and in turn avoid or discount any idea of the rapture being an event of escape.  While this way of thinking lends itself to a seeker-sensitive or emergent church way of thought, where the focus is more on Christ’s love with very little mentioned about accountability or a coming judgment, much less God pouring out any wrath upon unrepentant mankind.  Is this Scripturally sound?  It sounds good, but what does the Bible have to say about this?


To begin with, there is a clear difference between escape and escapism.  Where escapism is basically the attempt to depart from reality to what we could call a virtual reality or fantasy, escape is when one departs something that is either restraining them or an impending peril of some sort.  Escapism can be seen in people who flee reality or depression through drugs, alcohol, and relationships, just to name a few. No where in Scripture are we told to flee from reality and to embrace a virtual realm or fantasy of some sort.  However, the Bible is filled with accounts of people and nations escaping peril and judgments facing them.  The Bible tells of Noah escaping a judgment upon mankind through a world-wide flood by entering an ark God instructed him to build.  Lot escaped a judgment that came upon Sodom and Gomorrah by fleeing with angels.   Multiple times the Israelites escaped God’s judgment while they were in the wilderness for 40 years through obedience to His commands.  The city of Nineveh escaped God’s judgment by repenting and turning away from their wicked and sinful ways.  And in like manner, people escape the judgment and penalties for their sin by salvation through Christ, and in maintaining a heart attitude of repentance for sin they commit after salvation.  These are just some of the examples we find in Scripture of people escaping God’s wrath and judgments through acts of repentance and obedience to Him.  But, what about the rapture?  Is that an event connected with an escape?


In Luke 21:36, we find a connection between the coming rapture and an escape of things to come.  Jesus, Himself, tells us to “Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” – (boldness added, NKJV)  To discount the teaching that God is providing a way of escape from His coming wrath and judgments upon the earth is to discount Jesus’ own words.  Jesus doesn’t tell us how to stop His wrath and judgments from coming, but rather how to escape them.  The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, that there is coming a “day of the Lord” where His wrath will be poured out upon the world, and that there will be no escape for those who are not watching with a sober mind of His return for us.  Paul further encourages us by making it clear we are not appointed to God’s wrath, and that we need to be comforted with that fact and that He will keep us from the judgments to come.  Speaking to the Church of Philadelphia, Jesus tells us that those who keep His command to persevere, those who don’t let anyone take their crown, that they will be kept from the hour of testing that will come upon the whole world.  Or, in other words, they will escape the hour of testing that will be coming to the earth in the last days.


When we think of the rapture, it’s not just an event that takes us to Jesus.  It’s an event triggered as a way of escape from what is about to come to the earth.  The Greek word for rapture, harpadzo, is by its very nature a word representing a forceful catching up of people from an impending danger or times of peril.  I heard of a Greek man describing what it means in the following way.  Harpadzo means to grab someone by their hair, and to violently pull them to safety out of the path of a high-speed tractor-trailer rig just before the person gets hit by it.  With that understanding, it becomes increasingly clear that the rapture is intended to be a way of escape for followers of Jesus, the Bride of Christ.  To say the teaching of a rapture is escapism is to deny the reality of what Scripture tells us is soon coming to the whole world.  To say that the teaching of a rapture is not about an escape, or as I’ve called it on occasion the great evacuation, is to deny the very nature and purpose of the rapture, ignoring both the words of Jesus and other references in Scripture pointing to it.  If the rapture isn’t about an escape from the judgments coming to the world, as some claim it’s not, then why would it be important it for it to happen prior to the Tribulation period?  If it’s only about being with Jesus, then it would be hard to associate it with Biblically prophesied end-time events.  And if that is the case, then why are we told in Revelation 22:17, in connection to end-time events, that “the Spirit and the bride say, Come!”?  It’s a statement of desperation, not one of longing for the presence of another.  And, in response to what the Spirit and the Bride shouts, why would Jesus in Revelation 22:20 encourage us by making it clear that “Surely I am coming quickly.”  The rapture is an event of escape, and to say otherwise is to deny both the words of Jesus, as well as the whole Bible when it continually talks of escaping judgments and tribulations.  When the Bible shares of those who escaped judgments and tribulations, there is no reference to people experiencing a love for God and a longing to be with Him.  Instead, those who escaped such things did so by obedience to His commands.  God doesn’t measure our love for Him based on our emotions, or even by our many works of service, but multiple times in 1 John we are told He measures our love for Him based on our obedience or disobedience to His commands.


The rapture is not a way to escape reality and to enter a virtual reality or fantasy of some sort.  The rapture is not primarily for bringing us to Jesus for all eternity, though it certainly includes that.  The rapture, in its very essence based upon Scripture, is a way of escape at the last possible minute from the coming judgments, testing, and tribulations coming to the world.  If you believe in the rapture but don’t recognize it as an escape, then you must be okay with the possibility of being here during the Great Tribulation period.  As for me, I want to heed the words of Jesus so I can escape what we’re told is coming “down the pipes” for all the world.


How about you?  Are you looking for an escape, not from reality, but from what is coming to the earth and to a better reality in Heaven?


John Johansson


[thrive_leads id=’457′]

Looking for the Anti-Christ?

I remember as a kid growing up hearing people talking about the anti-Christ, trying to figure out who he was and whether or not he was even alive yet.  At the time most people seemed to think that it was Henry Kissinger, citing various reasons including one that suggested his name equaled the number 666.  Over the year’s people have speculated about who is the anti-Christ.  For one reason or another, people have speculated that it was Nero, Hitler, John F Kennedy, Prince Charles, and even Mikhail Gorbachev, just to name a few.  In recent years, it has been largely speculated that President Barak Obama is the anti-Christ, a position I have been hesitant to embrace though I believe he’s done a lot to propel us into the waiting arms of an anti-Christian, One World government.


Several years ago I was watching something on TV that looked at some of the leading candidates of our time for being the anti-Christ.  One name seemed to pop out at me more than the others because of where this person is from, who he associates with, and his desire to be the foremost world leader with a plan on how to accomplish that.  While his name has been in the news from time to time over the years, it hasn’t been until recent weeks that he’s been in the news a lot, and he’s become more aggressive in his attempt to position himself as the world leader he’s envisioned himself becoming.  His desire is to unite all the different Muslim groups under his leadership and control, sharing common goals and ambitions, and to create a Muslim caliphate state ran by Sharia law that has not been seen in centuries.  His name is Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the President of Turkey.  Could he be the anti-Christ, or just someone helping to usher him in?  I can’t say one way or the other, but what I can say is that he is a viable candidate for the position.


Why am I sharing this with you?  Are we supposed to be focusing our attention on who is the anti-Christ, or is our attention supposed to be somewhere else?  While I do keep an eye out for the leading candidates to fill that position, I also think it fruitless to focus our attentions on it and try to speculate who that person will be.  There are two main reasons why I take that position that I want to share with you.


Listening to some I find that many believe we are already in the tribulation period, the period of time that marks the years the anti-Christ will rule.  They see and hear of all the persecution against Christians, the natural disasters and other calamities taking place throughout the world, and their answer to all of it is to say we’re in the tribulation period.  This leads to the first of two reasons for my position.  In Daniel 9:20-27, we read of the angel Gabriel telling Daniel about a period of 70 weeks.  In verse 24 we learn what the purpose of the 70 weeks is for, and in verses 25-26 we learn how the first 69 of those 70 weeks will conclude.  In verse 27 we learn about the 70th week, the last week of the 70 weeks Gabriel is talking about, and what will mark its beginning.  The beginning of this last of the 70 weeks, a period of time known by Biblical scholars as the 7-year tribulation period, starts off with the anti-Christ confirming a covenant of sorts that includes Israel.  This confirming of a covenant is the only sign we are given to identify when the tribulation period will begin, and that has not happened yet.  Yes, the times we are living in are tough and brutal, especially for Christians, but it is a result of sinful mankind rebelling against a holy God and His Children.  While some of what we see in the area of natural disasters and calamities may be specific and isolated judgments of God, what we are seeing is nothing near the judgments of God that will be poured out upon all mankind alive on earth during those seven years.  So, contrary to what some believe, based on the above scripture, we are clearly NOT in the tribulation period at this time.


The second reason for the position I take is found in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12.  In this passage, specifically verses 3-8, the Apostle Paul mentions the anti-Christ, identified in this passage as the son of perdition, and when he would be revealed.  In verse 7 we are told that the anti-Christ is being restrained at this time, and that he will not be revealed until he who restrains is taken out of the way.  There is some debate within church circles as to who is being mentioned that is restraining the anti-Christ at this time, debating between the Holy Spirit and the Church.  I personally believe it is the Church, especially since we know that we’ve been promised that God would never leave or forsake us.  If the Holy Spirit were to leave He would have to take the Church with Him, but if the Church were taken out of the way, the Holy Spirit could still be working here on earth though His role may change since the Bride of Christ is no longer here.  With that, I believe Scripture is telling us that the anti-Christ will not be revealed until AFTER the rapture of the Church.  If that is the case, then why is it that so many Christians are caught up in this quest of sorts to identify who the anti-Christ is, often times at the neglect of watching and preparing for the return of Christ?


As Christians, we are told to be watching for the return of Christ for us, His Bride, and not for the anti-Christ.  We are also told to prepare for Christ’s return, not for the appearance of the anti-Christ.  I just saw a video of a woman proclaiming that God had revealed to her in two visions who the anti-Christ will be.  While I believe she is well intentioned and sincere in what she believes, I can’t say that I agree with her.  First off, we are told by God that the anti-Christ will not be revealed until AFTER the rapture of the Church.  Why would God tell us he won’t be revealed until after the rapture, only to reveal to someone who he is before we are even raptured up?  That is a contradiction of Scripture, and I choose to listen to Scripture more than someone’s visions.  Whenever someone says or proclaims something that clearly contradicts Scripture, we need to align ourselves with Scripture more than their supposed “revelations”.  Another reason I take what she says with a grain of sand is because the person she identifies doesn’t match up with Scripture that gives us clues to his identity.  We are told in Daniel 9:26 that the anti-Christ will come from the people that destroy the city and His temple, and it is on this basis that we have concluded he is to come from the ancient Roman empire.  The person this woman identifies doesn’t come from those who made up the Roman empire, though some have stretched things a lot on the basis that America was once a British colony.  Going back to the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the temple of God, which took place in 70 A.D., we see that the Roman empire did lay siege upon Jerusalem and had a part in the destruction of the temple.  However, when we take a closer look at the historical accounts by two historians that saw these events first hand, we find that the Roman soldiers that took part in this siege was not primarily made up of natural born Romans.  Yes, the leadership were clearly Roman, but the soldiers themselves were primarily Syrians and Arabs, arch enemies and direct neighbors of the Jews.  This is another reason why I discount the person this woman identified, and why I mentioned the President of Turkey, understanding that modern Turkey was a part of Syria in 70 A.D.  Based on Scripture, the anti-Christ has to come from the middle east, and more specifically the area that made up Syria in that day, which included Turkey and Iraq.


So, if the anti-Christ will not be revealed until after the rapture, why do we need to know who he is?  Well, we don’t.  God gives us events and details of the last days for a number of different reasons.  I believe He gives us this information as part of the signs we are to be watching for to show us how imminent Christ’s imminent return for His Bride is, seeing the final steps taking place for things that will be taking place in the tribulation period.  I also believe He gives us this information to validate that He really knows what will take place long before any hint of them becoming reality was ever seen or imagined, and that we can have greater confidence in how things will be in the end.  Another reason I believe He shares these things with us, I believe, is more for those who are left behind, giving them information of events to come and what to expect, and to know when and how He is going to finish things off.  This information will be a big comfort for those who are left behind.


While it is important for us to be aware of the events of these last days, and to know the signs of His return, it is more important for us to be watching for the return of Jesus for His Bride, and to make sure we are prepared for Him when He arrives for us.  Don’t get so caught up trying to identify or speculate who the anti-Christ is, especially since God makes it clear that he will not be revealed until after the rapture of the Church, to the point that you are not actively watching for Jesus and making sure you’re prepared for Him.  Jesus is very adamant about us watching and preparing for His return, and gives us no instructions for watching and identifying the anti-Christ.  Don’t get caught up in the trap that so many others have fallen into.


John Johansson (Pastor John)

[thrive_leads id=’457′]

Rapture – Part 6

Well, this is the sixth and final installment of the rapture series.  In the previous installments we briefly covered how scripture supports the rapture teaching, the differences between the rapture and the second coming of Christ, the seven feasts of God, and the harvest cycles.  In this blog I want to present to you what I believe is one of the strongest Biblical pictures of a pre-tribulation rapture, and that is found in the ancient Jewish wedding.


A lot of times when we read of marriage in the Bible we tend to view them through filters based on the American culture.  When we do that, we end up missing what it is that God is trying to reveal to us in Scripture, especially when it comes to our relationship with Christ.  There is little resemblance between the wedding process of ancient Jews and what we practice here in America.  When we view our relationship with Christ in the context of marriage, we rarely see that it is also a picture of end-time events and the fulfillment of Biblical end-time prophecy.  When we realize this, it begins to really open up our understanding of what is in store for the Church and how the last days will take place.


To begin with, the Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 11:2 that we are betrothed to Christ.  Betrothed is different than the western practice of being engaged to be married to another.  The practice of being engaged to be married is pretty much a commitment only as strong as the weakest commitment between the two getting married.  With betrothal, the two parties are considered married civilly, legally, relationally, and religiously, even though the marriage has yet to be consummated.  Unlike engagements that can be terminated simply by one of the two parties indicating they are backing out of it, the only way to break a betrothal is through divorce or death.  When Joseph learned of Mary’s pregnancy, he was planning on putting her away privately until an angel appeared to him, Matthew 1:18-25.  Even though they had not yet consummated the marriage, what Joseph was planning on doing was to give Mary a letter of divorce, ending the betrothal stage and the marriage.


In Ephesians 5:22-33 the Apostle Paul gives us some instructions regarding marriage, and in that portion of Scripture he likens marriage between a man and a woman to that of Christ and the Church.  The relationship between Christ and the Church is a marriage relationship, and in it we find clues that point to the rapture of the Church and other end-time Biblical prophecies.  Let’s take a look at some of these.


In the ancient Jewish wedding, it was initiated with the groom choosing his bride.  We see that in John 15:16 and in Ephesians 1:4 where Jesus chose us first.  If the groom’s father approved of his selection, then the groom would approach who he wanted with what is called a ketuba.  The ketuba was a proposed contract of sorts that the groom would present to the anticipated bride, one that would stipulate both what would he would commit to, and what was expected of her, in their relationship.  For the Christian, the Bible is our ketuba.  After approaching the prospective bride, if the bride consented to his proposal they would then take the necessary steps to contractually enter into marriage with each other, which often times included both of them drinking from the same cup.


After the new bride and groom enter into this marriage with each other, before they ever consummate the marriage, the groom would leave to go to his father’s house to prepare a place for his new bride.  We see this in our relationship with Jesus in John 14:1-2, where He tells us that He is going to His Father’s house to prepare a place for us.  When the groom left to go prepare a place for his bride, this period of time was usually around 12 months long, but the groom didn’t know how long as that was to be determined by his father.  Speaking of His return for the Church, His Bride, Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32 that He doesn’t even know when that will take place, but only the Father knows.


While the groom was gone preparing a place for his new bride, the bride was set apart for him alone, and she was to present herself to others as someone’s wife.  During this period of time, the betrothal stage, the bride was considered married to her groom legally, civilly, and religiously.  Anything on her part that could be viewed as being unfaithful or uncommitted to her groom drew very serious consequences.  This was a period of time that she was expected to prepare herself for her groom and his return for her, being ever watchful for him not knowing when he would return.  Throughout the New Testament we read of how we are to grow up and mature in Him, how we are to find our identity in Him alone, and how that we are to live a life pleasing and honoring to Him as we prepare ourselves for His return.  Furthermore, Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:43 and Matthew 25:13, that we are to be watching for His return, not knowing when that will be.


In our relationship with Christ, we are in the betrothal stage.  Contrary to popular opinion, our marriage to Christ has not been finalized yet, and it won’t be until after we are raptured up to meet Him in the air.  Paul makes it clear in 2 Corinthians 11:2 that we are betrothed to Jesus.  If our marriage to Him has been completed already, then he wouldn’t tell us we are betrothed to Jesus.  This is an important fact to remember.  Many people believe that once they enter into a saving relationship with Christ, their relationship with Him is complete and final, and that they are guaranteed a ticket to be a part of the rapture when it takes place.  Having this mindset is contradictory to what we see in Scripture, especially in the parables and teachings of Jesus that tell us that many who call themselves Christians will not be raptured up or enter into Heaven with Christ for eternity.  However, when we view our relationship with Jesus through the eyes of the ancient Jewish wedding, we can clearly see how that is.  When the groom returned for his bride and found that she wasn’t faithful to him, or that her affections were elsewhere, or even that she hadn’t prepared for him like she was supposed to, he would give her a letter of divorce and leave without her.  This is what Joseph planned to do with Mary when he heard that she was pregnant, but an angel intervened and told him not to put her away as he was planning to do.  When Jesus returns, if He finds that we’ve been unfaithful to Him, or that our affections are elsewhere, or that we hadn’t prepared ourselves for His return as we ought, He will also give us a letter of divorce and leave us behind.  A scary and very sobering thought to consider.


When the groom returns and finds his bride watching and ready for him, he would then take her back to his father’s house where they would then consummate the marriage.  This would mark the beginning of a week full of festivities attended by family and friends of the family, a period of time that was usually seven to 10 days long.  This period of time coincides prophetically with the tribulation period.  At what is known as the “Lord’s Supper”, Jesus tells us in Matthew 26:26-29 and in Mark 14:24-25 that after that time He would not again drink of the vine until He drinks it with us in His Father’s Kingdom.  Jesus was having the Passover meal with His disciples, and in understanding the Passover meal and the four cups they would drink from, we can know that they drank from the third cup of four cups.  They do not drink from the fourth cup, waiting for Elijah to return and drink from it announcing the arrival of the Messiah.  That fourth and last cup of the Passover meal has a unique name to it, the Cup of Consummation.  That will be the cup that Jesus and His Bride will drink from after the rapture of the Church, consummating the marriage between Jesus and the Church.  This is all happening during the tribulation period.


When the wedding festivities conclude seven to 10 days later, the bride and groom return to be seen publicly as husband and wife, and the groom will have a year where he does no work or go to war so he can focus his time and attention on his new bride.  In regards to Jesus and the Church, His Bride, we see this in Revelation 19:11-14 when Jesus returns with His Bride, the armies of Heaven.  It is at this time that the millennial, 1,000-year reign of Christ begins.


As you can see, the parallels between the ancient Jewish wedding and Christ’s relationship to the Church, as well as Biblical end-time events, are amazing.  Jesus is coming for a Bride without spot or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:25-27), and it’s up to the Bride to make sure her garments are clean and pressed for Him.  Jesus gave us His robe of righteousness when we accepted Him as our Lord and Savior, but it is up to us to keep that robe clean and free from sin and the marks of this world. If we don’t, then we risk getting a “letter of divorce” from Jesus and left behind.  In the midst of John recording what he was seeing with the judgments in the book of Revelation, Jesus pops in for a quick commercial to emphasize this important point.  In Revelation 16:15, Jesus tells us “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame” (NKJV).  If we miss the rapture, we lose our robe of righteousness that He gave us, and Jesus doesn’t want that to happen to us.  Are your garments spotted with sin, especially sin that you choose to continue in?  Jesus isn’t pulling any punches.  He wants us to be watching for Him with robes ready and prepared for Him.


Are you ready for Him?  If not, then this is the time to do so!  You can’t wait until a better time to prepare for Him, or to get sin out of your life.  Don’t allow your robes of righteousness to remain blemished and spotted from the world!  Jesus is coming back, and by all indications much, much sooner than most care to believe.  Don’t be caught off guard and unprepared!


John Johansson (Pastor John)

[thrive_leads id=’457′]

Rapture – Part 5

In part 3 and 4, we took a look at the seven feasts God established for Himself in Leviticus 23, and how that in them we not only see the rapture, but also a pre-tribulation rapture.  This was one of three Biblical pictures we will be briefly looking at that point to a pre-tribulation rapture.  In this blog, part 5 of the rapture series, we’re going to take a brief look at the second of three Biblical pictures I want to give you that point to a pre-tribulation rapture, and that is found in the harvest cycles.


Every year, there were three feasts that God instructed all the men to attend, and each of these feasts were identified with three different harvests.  The three feasts that required the attendance of all the men were Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles.  The Passover feast emphasized the barley harvest, Pentecost emphasized the wheat harvest, and Tabernacles emphasized the harvest of fruit, namely grapes.  How each of these harvests were conducted represents not only the three phases of the harvest, but also in them the three resurrections.


The first harvest, the barley harvest, involved a process of winnowing where the entire stalk was thrown up into the wind.  When the barley was tossed up into the wind, the wind would separate the shell from the barley.  This harvest represents the rapture of the Church before the tribulation period begins, where those who are in Christ are caught up in the air to meet the Lord.  We can also see this when Elijah was caught up into a whirlwind and when Jesus was taken up in a cloud in the presence of His followers.


The second harvest, the wheat harvest, involved a more aggressive form of harvesting.  In order to break and separate the shell from the wheat it requires a threshing process.  This process was done in the time of Christ with a Roman threshing roller called a tribulim, the word we get tribulation from.  It means to press or squeeze, creating pressure that causes separation.  This harvest represents those who come out of the tribulation period.  Christians who were not ready and prepared when the rapture took place will be a part of this group, those who will have to give their lives for Jesus.


The third harvest, the grape harvest, is a harvest involving a crushing.  Grapes do not have a shell but instead have flesh and skin that needs to be crushed in order to get the juice.  The tribulation period is the “grapes of wrath” and the “winepress of God”.  This represents the harvest, the resurrection, at the end of the tribulation period, Revelation 14:17-20.


Barley is soft and represents the church and the overcomer, Revelation 2-4.  Wheat is hard and must be separated from the shell through the pressures created in the tribulation period, Revelation 14:1.  Grapes are crushed representing the winepress of God, Revelation 14:19.


Biblically, the way that a field was harvested provides another picture of how God will harvest His people in these last days.  This process involved three phases in order to harvest the whole field.  The first phase was about the first fruits, the overcomers (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).  In this phase the priests would go through the field and select portions of the field that was ripe and ready for harvest, and then they would harvest the portions they selected with either a sickle, or simply pull it out of the ground, to take back to the temple.  This represents the rapture, the resurrection of the dead in Christ out of the ground, and the catching up of the living who are in Christ who are ripe and ready for harvest.


The second phase of the harvest was when the main field was harvested, leaving the four corners of the field to provide gleanings for the poor and the widows.  This represents the second harvest that takes place in the middle of the tribulation period, where people have washed their robes by giving their lives for Jesus (Revelation 14:15).  This phase includes the 144,000 Jews from the 12 tribes of Israel, as well as possibly those Christians who missed the rapture because their garments were spotted with sin and they were not ready when He came for them.


The third and final phase of the harvest is when the four corners of the field are harvested (Matthew 24:31).  At this point the entire field has been harvested.  This final phase of the harvest represents those who are gathered together from the four corners of the earth at the end of the tribulation period.  These are called the remnant, those who lived and gave their lives for Christ in the last part of the tribulation period.


Understanding the different phases associated with the harvesting of a field helps us understand both the manner and the order in which God will harvest His people from the earth.  Some people get confused when they read in the book of Revelation the saints and elect having to go through the tribulation period, thinking that these terms refer to the church.  This is not necessarily the case as both terms, the elect and the saints, have been used throughout the Bible referring to different individuals or groups.  The term “elect” has been used to identify Christ, of the angels, Israel, Jacob, a woman, and also the church.  The term “saints” in the New Testament means “a holy thing”, and it represents anyone who has been washed in the blood of Christ.  While both terms can obviously refer to the Church, one is hard pressed to arbitrarily conclude that the references in the book of Revelation is speaking exclusively of the Church.  There are some problems when we try to say that it is referring strictly to the Church.  When we see indications that in Heaven there are those who would have been resurrected and raptured up there, all the while seeing saints and the elect on earth going through the tribulation period, this can lead to confusion when attempting to say they are all the Church. The last time we read of the church in Revelation is chapters 2-3, after which in Revelation 4 we read about John being called up to Heaven and what he sees when he gets there.  Like others, I believe this represents the rapture of the Church.  From that time on there is no mention of the Church, except for it being identified as the Bride of Christ at the end of Revelation.  The saints and elect mentioned after chapter four more than likely refers to those who are living and giving their lives for Christ after having realized they had been left behind. 


During the tribulation period those who were raptured up observe the transition of Jesus from High Priest to King, appear at the Judgment Seat of Christ, receive rewards, and are present at the wedding between Christ that His Bride, the Church.  Once the wedding is complete, Jesus and His Bride return to earth to establish Christ’s reign on earth for 1,000 years.  In the next part of this series on the subject of the rapture, I’m going to cover what I believe is one of the strongest pictures of a pre-tribulation rapture.  In the meantime, the most important question to ask yourself is whether or not you are ready for Him if He were to return before your next breath?  If you are not ready to meet Him, then this is the time to get ready.  Time is short, and this is not the time to be taking this casually and risk getting left behind.  Now is the time to get it right with Him, and to keep things right with Him.

John Johansson (Pastor John)

[thrive_leads id=’457′]

Rapture – Part 3

In a previous blog I briefly touched on what is the rapture.  We covered where the word “rapture” came from, and some of the reasons why some discount it as a Biblically sound teaching.  We also touched on the three primary views surrounding its timing; pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, and post-tribulation.  Among the three different views, I believe that the pre-tribulation position is the strongest of the three, and I want to cover why that is.


As I stated in the first blog of this series, there are some who discount the rapture as a Biblically legitimate view.  They either take the position that there is no Biblical evidence of a rapture, which we’ve already proved to be incorrect, or they take the position that all Biblical end time prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A.D.  Those that take the position that all end time prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A.D. also believe that God has been done with Israel since then, and that the law found in the Old Testament is null and void, completely done away with for all mankind.  This is a scary position to take.  We’ve already showed in the Old Testament individuals that had been raptured to heaven, a shadow of what God has in store for the Bride of Christ.  What about the other references in the Old Testament to a rapture yet to happen?


In Leviticus 23, God lays out to Moses feasts that he is to proclaim to be holy convocations, feasts that are Gods.  Many people tend to view the seven feasts that God instructs Moses on as feasts for Israel and the Jews to abide by, but this is incorrect.  While it is true that the Jews are instructed to keep and observe these feasts, God makes it clear that they are His feasts and not theirs.  God established these feasts in part so the Israelites would remember what He had done for them in times past, but they were also set up to mark future points in time relating to His plan of redemption for humanity.  When we take a look at these feasts we see that Jesus fulfilled the first three feasts on the actual day of each feast, and then the birth of the Church on the day of Pentecost marks the fulfillment of the fourth feast.  If what God laid out in the Old Testament was done away with and made null and void with Christ and the subsequent destruction of the temple in 70 A.D., then when and how were the last three feasts fulfilled?  If these feasts were not fulfilled prior to 70 A.D., and now they are of no importance to us, then does that mean God didn’t know what He was doing when he established them?  Or that He made a mistake in His calculations of time, which seems rather odd to think considering He’s the creator of time itself.  To say that those feasts are of no relevance to us, especially if they hadn’t been fulfilled, that is to say God is not all knowing or in control of times and events, especially ones that He has established for Himself.


Are these feasts something that we don’t need to be concerned with, or is there something about them we do need to be aware of?  The Apostle Paul writes to the church in Galatia that he is concerned about them and how they were becoming legalistic in their observations of the days, months, seasons and years (Galatians 4:9-11).  Paul isn’t saying it’s wrong to keep the feasts, as he even told the Corinthian church to keep the feast in 1 Corinthians 5:6-8, but that we shouldn’t be in bondage to them.  Later in Colossians 2:16-17 Paul tells us that they are a shadow of things to come.  This would indicate that future prophetic events can be identified through the feasts, and that it is important for us to be aware of them to properly discern what is and will be happening in the future.


So, what are the feasts we are referring to, and how did Jesus fulfill the first three?  Can we find evidence within them not only of a rapture, but also a pre-tribulation rapture?  Let’s take a brief look at them.


1) Passover (Leviticus 23:5) – Pointed to the Messiah as our Passover lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7) whose blood would be shed for our sins. Jesus was crucified on the day of preparation for the Passover at the same hour that the lambs were being slaughtered for the Passover meal that evening (John 19:14). 2) Unleavened Bread (Leviticus 23:6) – Pointed to the Messiah’s sinless life (as leaven is a picture of sin in the Bible), making Him the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Jesus’ body was in the grave during the first days of this feast, like a kernel of wheat planted and waiting to burst forth as the bread of life. 3) First Fruits (Leviticus 23:10) – Pointed to the Messiah’s resurrection as the first fruits of the righteous. Jesus was resurrected on this very day, which is one of the reasons that Paul refers to him in 1 Corinthians 15:20 as the “first fruits from the dead.” 4) Weeks or Pentecost (Leviticus 23:16) – Occurred fifty days after the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and pointed to the great harvest of souls and the gift of the Holy Spirit for both Jew and Gentile, who would be brought into the kingdom of God during the Church Age (see Acts 2). The Church was actually established on this day when God poured out His Holy Spirit and 3,000 Jews responded to Peter’s great sermon and his first proclamation of the gospel. 5) Trumpets (Leviticus 23:24) – The first of the fall feasts. Many believe this day points to the Rapture of the Church when the Messiah Jesus will appear in the heavens as He comes for His bride, the Church. The Rapture is always associated in Scripture with the blowing of a loud trumpet (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:52). 6) Day of Atonement (Leviticus 23:27) – Many believe this prophetically points to the day of the Second Coming of Jesus when He will return to earth. That will be the Day of Atonement for the Jewish remnant when they “look upon Him whom they have pierced,” repent of their sins, and receive Him as their Messiah (Zechariah 12:10 and Romans 11:1-6, 25-36). 7) Tabernacles or Booths (Leviticus 23:34) – Many scholars believe that this feast day points to the Lord’s promise that He will once again “tabernacle” with His people when He returns to reign over all the world (Micah 4:1-7).


We can see from above that the first four feasts have already been fulfilled through Jesus and the birth of the Church.  We can also see that those feasts were fulfilled in the order that God established them.  If God continues to fulfill the feasts in the order that He gave them, then it only makes sense that the next feast to be fulfilled would be the Feast of Trumpets.  The Feast of Trumpets, also known as Rosh Hashanah, is the feast that represents the rapture of the Church to Christ.  Everything about this feast and what it represents screams rapture.  I’m not going to go into all the details of this feast in this blog, but the period of time between it and the sixth feast, the Day of Atonement, represents a seven-year period of time that we identify as the seven-year tribulation period.


I will go into more depth regarding the Feast of Trumpets, Rosh Hashanah, in the next installment of this rapture series of blogs.  In the meantime, no matter what your position is with the timing of the rapture, the most important thing is that you are ready for it no matter when it takes place.  If you’re not ready for it, today is the day to get ready.  Time is short, and the rapture is just around the corner.

John Johansson (Pastor John)

[thrive_leads id=’457′]

Rapture – Part 2

In my last blog I briefly touched on what is the rapture.  We covered where the word “rapture” came from, and some of the reasons why some discount it as a Biblically sound doctrine.  We also touched on the three primary views surrounding its timing; pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, and post-tribulation.  In the following blogs I will present why I believe that the pre-tribulation teaching is the strongest of the three, but what I want to cover in this blog is the distinction between the rapture and the second coming of Christ.


There is confusion among some who think that both of these events are really just one, and people who take this position generally embrace a post-tribulation rapture teaching.  To say that these events are the same creates some problems Biblically, and we’ll see some of those problems as we continue.


Have you ever heard someone say they are “going with someone” only to see them going in two very different directions?  With that thought as the backdrop, it’s probably the best way to show how that the rapture and the second coming are two separate events, to show the many ways in which they differ.  Let’s take a look at some of their differences.


1.       At the rapture believers meet Jesus in the air, but at the second coming the believers return to earth with Jesus.  (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 19:14)

2.       At the rapture Jesus, Himself, removes the people from the earth, but at the second coming the angels go forth to remove the wicked from the earth for judgement.  (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Matthew 13:36-42, 47-50)

3.       At the rapture Christians are removed to be with Jesus in Heaven, and at the second coming the wicked are removed for judgement.  (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Matthew 13:36-42, 47-50)

4.       The rapture takes place prior to the tribulation period, and the second coming takes place after the tribulation period. (1 Thessalonians 1:10,5:9; Revelation 19:11-16)

5.       There are no immediate signs indicating when the rapture is about to take place, giving a sense of imminence, but for the second coming there are plenty of signs in addition to the fact that it is seven years after the start of the tribulation period. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3; Matthew 24:15-30)

6.       With the rapture there is no mention of an immediate judgment, but at the second coming the judgment of the wicked takes place. (Revelation 20:4)

7.       At the rapture there is a resurrection just prior to the catching up of those alive in Christ, and at the second coming a resurrection of the dead takes place after Jesus descends onto earth. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 20:4)

8.       At the rapture the bodies of the believers, dead and alive, are transformed into glorified bodies, but at the second coming there is no mention of a bodily transformation. (1 Corinthians 15:51-55)

9.       The rapture will happen in secret and instantaneously, but the second coming will take place for all to see. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3, 1 Corinthians 15:51-52; Revelation 1:7)

10.   After the rapture wickedness will be the rule of the land for seven years, but the second coming will usher in the millennial (1000-year) reign of Christ on earth. (Revelation 3:10-11, Daniel 9:27; Revelation 20:4)


These are just some of the differences between the rapture and the second coming of Christ.  Based on what we see from above, the idea of both the rapture and the second coming being the same event is incompatible with Scripture.  Part of the confusion between the two events is that some people view what is called the rapture as one of the comings of Christ to earth, but that is incorrect.  When Jesus came to earth as a babe over 2000 years ago, that was His “first coming”, and His “second coming” isn’t until He actually sets foot once again on earth.  He is not coming to earth at the time of the rapture, but instead coming in the clouds to receive the church, His bride, to be with Him in heaven.  One of the biggest differences is that Scripture tells us that the rapture could happen at any time and to be ready, while at the same time telling us that the second coming happens at the end of the seven-year tribulation period.  The Scriptures point to and encourage an awareness that Jesus’ return for His bride is imminent, meaning it could happen at any moment, but if it is at the end of the tribulation period then where is the sense of imminence when we know it will be at least seven years from now, knowing that the tribulation period hasn’t even begun yet???


In the following blogs I hope to share some things that only strengthen the pre-tribulation position as the most Biblically sound doctrine of the three different views we’ve touched on.  Again, the biggest thing to gain from all of this is the realization that no matter what, and no matter the timing, we need to be ready when that time does come.  Are you ready?  If not this is the time to get ready.  How do you get ready?  It starts with surrendering your life to Jesus, asking Him for forgiveness of your sins, and turn away from the sin.  You need to then be reading the Bible, getting plugged into a solid Bible believing, Bible preaching church, and have a willingness to let God lead you no matter what.  If you’ve said or done anything that would be considered sin or dishonors Him, then you will need to take that to Him in humility asking for His forgiveness and help to not involve yourself in it again.


Are you ready????????


John Johansson (Pastor John)

[thrive_leads id=’457′]

Rapture – Part 1

Rapture.  A term that seems to elicit any number of responses ranging from wholehearted acceptance and anticipation to adamant pronouncements of all who believe in it being heretical and unsaved.  Some say that the Bible is filled with passages alluding to the rapture, and others say it is a new idea that surfaced in the 1800’s, even arguing that the word “rapture” isn’t even in the Bible.  Of those who do believe in a rapture there are three different views surrounding it’s timing, some saying it is pre-tribulation, others mid-tribulation, and still others post-tribulation.  What do you believe?  And, do you know why you believe what you do?


It is true that the word “rapture” is not found in most English Bibles, but on the other hand neither is “trinity” or “millennium”, terms that are generally accepted as doctrinally sound.  The word rapture comes from the Latin word, “rapturo”, which is used to translate the Greek word “harpazo” found in 1 Thessalonians 4:17.  The Greek word “harpazo” means to seize, to snatch up, or to take away by force, either spiritually or physically.  In the context of 1 Thessalonians 4:17, and the corresponding scripture in 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, it is clear that “harpazo” is being used in the context of a physical, bodily removal of the followers of Christ.  There are some who try to say that what the Apostle Paul is referring to in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 is a spiritual, euphoric type of experience, but a closer look at the text would indicate it is actually a literal, physical, bodily removal yet to be experienced.


Some argue that there is no Biblical precedence alluding to the rapture, especially in the Old Testament, but this is not true.  Understanding where the word rapture comes from, how that it is a Latin translation of the Greek word “harpazo”, and what “harpazo” literally means, we can see examples of this with Enoch who was translated into Heaven (Genesis 5:21-24; Hebrews 11:5), Elijah who was caught up in a whirlwind taking him to Heaven (2 Kings 2:11-12), and in the New Testament Phillip being physically transported from one location to another (Acts 8:39-40).  It is also believed by some that Moses’ ascent up Mount Sinai to meet with God has numerous parallels with, and is a picture of, the rapture.  So, we can see from Scripture that, despite our lack of understanding regarding how it can happen, it is not only possible but has in fact happened to individual’s multiple times throughout the Bible.


But what about the fact that we don’t see any mention of it prior to the 1800’s, with the exception to what we see Scripturally?  At the time Israel was not a nation, and as a result Scripture that pointed to a tribulation period, a millennium reign of Christ, and a rapture were discounted as anything but literal.  That is until Israel became a nation, something that Jesus pointed to in Matthew 24:32-35.  Now that Israel has become a nation, we can now see scripture being fulfilled in a very literal way, which also tells us to view Biblical end time prophecy as a literal fulfillment yet to come. 


From what we’ve briefly covered so far, it is evident that the idea of the rapture is a Biblical truth.  I’ve heard it said that the person who doesn’t believe in the rapture doesn’t really believe the Bible, and I think that is a pretty sound argument.  But what about the timing of the rapture?  When will it happen?  As I mentioned earlier, there are three main views regarding the timing of the rapture.  There are others, but for the most part they closely resemble one of the main three.  Before we get into the different views, let’s take a quick look at a period of time these different views revolve around, and that is the tribulation period.


The tribulation period refers to the last of 70 weeks mentioned by the prophet Daniel in Daniel 9:24-27.  In prophetic terms, a week is interpreted as a period of 7 years, and we can read more of what those last seven years will be like in the Book of Revelation.  In Daniel 9:27, we are told that the tribulation period, the last of the 70 weeks, actually begins when the anti-Christ confirms a treaty with many, and it is believed by most scholars that Israel is the primary country this treaty is made with.  This passage also tells us that in the middle of this period of time, 3 ½ years from its beginning, the anti-Christ will bring an end to sacrifices and offerings, which coincides with what we read in Revelation 13.  The bulk of the Book of Revelation focuses on the events of this period of time, which is filled with judgments from God to an unbelieving and unrepentant people who are hostile towards God and His people.  This period of time ends when Jesus returns to earth to defeat the anti-Christ and his prophet.


One of the views regarding the timing of the rapture is known as post-tribulation.  This view suggests that the rapture of the church, the bride of Christ, happens at the conclusion of the tribulation period, possibly after the seventh trumpet sounds.  The idea is that the church will have to endure much persecution and trials through this period of time, all in the process of making ourselves ready for Christ.


Another view is what is known as mid-tribulation.  This view suggests that the rapture of the church takes place in the middle of the tribulation period, just prior to what we know as the great tribulation which takes place during the last 3 ½ years of the tribulation period.  The idea is that the church will have to endure severe persecution the first 3 ½ years, but that it will be raptured up prior to God pouring out His wrath upon the inhabitants of earth at that time.


The last view that is popular among Christians regarding the rapture is what is known as the pre-tribulation rapture.  This view suggests that the rapture of the church actually takes place prior to the start of the tribulation period.  The idea is that Jesus will come back to spare His followers from having to go through the tribulation period, a time of severe persecution and testing.


Each of the above views use scripture to support their positions, and in some cases even the same scriptures from a different perspective.  However, I believe that the argument in favor of a pre-tribulation rapture is much stronger than any of the other two views combined, and I will attempt to briefly explain why that is in subsequent blogs.  No matter what one’s position is in regards to the timing of the rapture, the most important thing to remember is that we need to make sure we are ready when that time comes.  Are you ready for what we read about in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18?  If you are not ready to be caught up to meet Jesus in the clouds, this is the time to get ready.  The first steps in getting ready to meet Him is to surrender one’s life to Jesus, to repent of and to turn away from all past and present sin, asking Jesus to forgive you of those sins.  Your decision to give your life to Jesus cannot be a private decision, but instead it is vitally important that you make that decision known to others (Matthew 10:32-33), and your life needs to reflect that.  Seek out a Bible believing and preaching church, read and study the Bible, pray, and seek out Godly friends.


John Johansson (Pastor John)

[thrive_leads id=’457′]


The Final Act is Being Prepared

We are living in some very exciting days right now. Biblical end-time prophecy is unfolding like never before, and we have the grand opportunity to see it unfold before our very eyes. While it is true that there are no more prophecies needing to be fulfilled before the Church can be caught up to meet Jesus in the air, we are seeing the final steps being taken to set the stage for the start of the tribulation period and the unveiling of the Anti-Christ. From a Christian standpoint we are truly living in exciting days no matter how bad things are getting because we see these things as signs alerting us to Jesus’ return for His Bride. What is ironic is that both the Jews and the Muslims are expecting their messiahs to arrive any day now, which according to end-time prophecy will probably be the same person, someone we know to be called the Anti-Christ.


Over the next several days it appears that the stage will finally be set for the arrival of the Anti-Christ. He may not take the stage right away, so to speak, and it could perhaps be several months or years before he does, but nonetheless everything will be in place for that to happen. What will it take for him to step into that position we don’t know, but one can speculate a lot of ideas for it. What we do know for certain is that he will be the one that confirms a 7-year treaty of some sort with Israel, and that will be the sign God gives to identify who he is. We also know that before that can happen, before he can be revealed for who he is, the one that restrains him must be taken away. Who is the one that must be taken away? Many say it is the Holy Spirit, and others say it is the Church. I personally believe it to be the Church, the Bride of Christ. While the role of the Holy Spirit here on earth may change very significantly after the rapture of the Church, I believe He will still be here in some capacity since God is everywhere all the time. In either case, even if the Holy Spirit is the one referred to as the one who restrains and is taken away, the Church would have to go with Him. Jesus promised us that He would never leave us or forsake us, and we are told that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit, and so that would only mean that if the Holy Spirit is removed then the Church would have to be removed as well.


What does that mean for us? Well, it means that the return of Jesus for His Bride is very, very, near, and we need to make sure we are watching and ready for Him when He does return. I’m not going to get into what it means to be watching for Jesus to return, but Scripture is very clear that only those Christians who are watching for Him will be caught up, or in other words called up to meet Him in the air.


As the return of Jesus draws ever so close it is also imperative we make sure we are not only watching for Him but also preparing for Him. Is there anything, or anyone, in our life that commands our attention or loyalties more than Him? If so, then we need to make some changes to put Him in His rightful place in our lives. What do we pursue the most, or who do we seek to please more than Christ? We can say He’s number one in our lives, but would the way we live support that statement, or are we deceiving ourselves? Seek the Lord and ask Him if there is an area, any area, or any person, that keeps Him from His rightful place in your life, and if so ask for His help in making the necessary changes to correct that. When you ask the Lord about this, make sure you’re listening for an answer even if it’s one you don’t like and not just listening for an answer that meets your criteria. Jesus is coming soon. The set is being prepared for the final act even as I type this, and it would behoove us to be wise and prepare for it in advance. It isn’t something to take casually, but something to prepare for at all times.


John Johansson

Edge of Eternity

“People have been saying that for more than 2000 years.”  How many times have you heard someone say that about the rapture?  Or, perhaps you’ve said that yourself.  There is a mindset among many that since people have been saying that for so long then surely He’s not coming, or at least not any time in the immediate future.  This mindset is based simply because Jesus hasn’t already come, but is that one argument, in and of itself, enough to discount His coming back?  I don’t think so.

When Israel became a nation in May 1948 the dynamics changed.  In Matthew 24:32-34, Jesus tells a parable of a fig tree, a parable that many believe points to the rebirth of the Jewish nation.  In this passage of scripture Jesus indicates that the generation of people that see Israel become a nation will not pass away until the rapture and the tribulation comes to an end.  There are many differing views as to what Jesus is alluding to in regards to a generation, whether it is 40 years, 70 years, or even 80 years.  There are even differing views as to whether this period of time started with Israel becoming a nation, with the six-day war in 1967, or even with the Yom Kippur war of 1973.  The point is that we are now living in the time of that generation of people, and that means unlike 2000 years ago, or even 100 years ago, we are on the ‘edge of eternity’.  Yes, we are on the edge of eternity because at the moment of our last breath we go from life here on earth and into eternity, whether that is in heaven or in hell, but I’m not talking about that edge of eternity.  The edge of eternity I’m speaking about is for all humanity.

What does this tell us?  It tells us that the rapture of the Church, the Bride of Christ is imminent.  Is it safe for us to say that?  We have entered a period of time where the final positioning of Biblical end-time events surrounding the tribulation period and the anti-Christ are climaxing before our very eyes, literally setting the stage for this to take place at any moment.  We see this in the ever increasing descent of America both domestically and abroad, in world economies and in the many changes taking place in the Middle East.  Keep your eyes on Jerusalem.  With all that is going on we see America turning its back on God and falling into a moral collapse.  America today is not the America many remember it being from even 50 years ago.  The world is waiting and looking for a one-world government, a one-world economy and one person to lead it, but the only thing currently standing in the way of that is America.  That is until America becomes meaningless in the eyes of the world for one reason or another, but nonetheless it has to decline very significantly, something that is happening rather quickly before our very eyes.

So, what am I trying to say?  I’m trying to say that we are on the edge of eternity, and that we need to make sure we are ready and in right relationship with Jesus before that trumpet sound calling His bride to meet Him in the clouds on our way to heaven.  Are you ready?  I hope so.  If not, I strongly encourage you to make yourself ready with no delay.  It will require more than just saying a prayer or walking down an aisle, it will require surrender to Him of our lives for His purposes.  Are you ready to do that?  Think about it!

Verified by ExactMetrics