The Rapture of Driverless Cars

You’ve seen the bumper sticker:
When the rapture occurs, this car will be driverless.

You probably chuckle, not sweat.  The way the guy drives, you figure he won’t be counted among the righteous!  And so many cars on the road are driverless now, thanks to texters.

driverless carDaily you hear new ecstatic predictions of driverless cars:  Audi plans to introduce one by 2020.  The Chinese talk of mass production by 2021.  Intel forecasts a $7 trillion driverless car industry by 2050.

So maybe you snicker at the sticker:  “Big deal, if the secret rapture ever comes, all cars will be driverless!”  And if the same goes for the airliners, you can rejoice that there will probably be lots of empty seats to spread out in!  More left for behind!

scofferPew Research in 2010 found that only 41% of Americans believed Christ would return by 2050.  Ironically, as we careen loser to His return, scoffers will abound (2 Pet. 3:3-4).

If you know your Bible, here’s

The real secret: 

lightningThe Bible teaches no secret rapture.  When Jesus Christ returns to collect His saints, He’s coming like lightning from the east  flashing to the west (Matt. 24:27) so that “every eye will see Him” (Rev. 1:7)  The seventh trumpet blasts in every ear (1 Thes. 4:16-17)—enough to wake the dead!

OK, it’s obviously no secret.  But don’t Christians change from physical to spirit “in the twinkling of an eye” and rise up in the air to meet Jesus in the clouds (1 Cor. 15:51-53)?  If that sounds like a rapture, the Bible calls it the first resurrection–the better one  (Heb. 11:35) with double portion for the firstborn (Deut. 21:17).   OK, but could there still be crashing cars and plummeting airliners?

A Different Place, Different Time

The rapture theory calls for Christians being whisked off  to heaven to escape the Great Tribulation.  Actually the Bible promises God’s people will be transported by “two wings of a great eagle … into the wilderness” to the Place of Safety for this same 3-1/2 years preceding Christ’s return (Rev. 12:14).

So escaping the Great Tribulation, but in the Place of Safety, not heaven.   God’s people would be resurrected from there–at the end of the 3-1/2 years, not the beginning.  A much different time!

If it’s from Petra, the mode of transportation is camels,  and those sure-footed beasts would probably easily come to a safe halt.

There are exceptions, such as the Two Witnesses, but Revelation says they rise from lying dead in a street of Jerusalem for three days (Rev. 11:8).   Nothing about any transportation carnage.

When you read about all the chaos in the book of Revelation at the time of the end, where one-fourth of the earth has been killed by the end of the fourth seal (Rev. 6:8), and the Great Tribulation will be the worst time ever experienced so that no flesh would be saved alive if Christ didn’t intervene (Matt. 24:21-22), you have to wonder how many cars and airliners will be in operation anyway.

So let’s not worry about the rapture of driverless cars ahead.  And when the seventh trump blows, here’s hoping we rise to the occasion!

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Entertaining Angels Unawares

It looks like a stranger, but it might be
an “angel unawares” (Heb. 13:1, King James Bible).

puttoThat makes no sense if you think angels resemble the putto of early Renaissance Italian art.  If you saw a Cupid flying around, you’d be aware of it!  Unless you’re from Texas or Florida and used to the size of their flying critters.

angel with haloYou’d especially notice one sporting a halo like the ancient Egyptian sun god.  Ra Ra, people would cheer and hound such  an extraterrestrial so it would hurry home rather than try to phone.  How could such an oddity visit among us incognito?

Nowhere in the Bible are there winged babies referred to as cherubs, so that idea needs to be kaputto!

When God sends angels down to earth, they blend in by appearing as adult males (Gen. 18:2, Acts 1:10).  They are “ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation” (Heb. 1:14).  They usually help with physical needs, not spiritual ones—such as making sure Elijah had enough to eat before his arduous journey (1 Kings 19:5-7) and mothering Peter to slow down long enough to dress and put his sandals on when the angel sprang him out of prison (Acts 12:7-8).

Angels deliver their message in a straightforward businesslike manner and then disappear.  You won’t encounter one in a chat room.

Angels we don’t want to be unaware of

Angels want us to worship God and build a relationship with the Father and Son, not with them.  That’s true of the two-thirds good angels.

But not true of satan the devil and his one-third demons.   He swooped up to heaven wanting to be God (Isa. 14:14), and he pulls out all stops to thwart God’s would-be family.  Amazing that he gets anybody at all to openly worship him or want to become familiar with him and his demons.

His better plan is to con people into believing he doesn’t exist.   In spy thrillers, the best trick is to fake your death so the other guys aren’t watching for you anymore as you come to take them out.

devil red pitchforkClear back in April 2009 in a Barna survey, nearly six out of ten Christians either strongly agreed or somewhat agreed with the statement that Satan “is not a living being but is a symbol of evil.”  Did you catch that?  Christians!  Who read that Jesus faced the devil in the wilderness.  How  much higher is the percentage at the very end-time when satan is about to bring the greatest deception and tribulation ever suffered (Matt. 24:21).

Satan a myth?  Naturally it follows that people would be ignorant of his devices (2 Cor. 2:11).  He broadcasts powerful satanic atttitudes through his power of the air using pervasive media, culture and peer pressure (Eph. 2:2).   For the spiritually unaware, it’s just entertainment, art and life.

Such sad confusion because so many who sincerely want to be true Christians have no idea that satan has “his ministers” who “transform themselves into ministers of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:15).    Read that shocking scripture again.

Ezekiel warns about false shepherds (chapter 34) and prophets (13:3).  Matt. 24:24 sounds the alarm that satan’s “false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”

So yes, let’s entertain strangers who might be good angels unawares.  But let’s be aware of the Enemy, acutely aware of his devices, resist and flee (James 4:7).

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Does the Book of Life Include More Than Just Your Name?

Our names must get written into the Book of Life (Rev. 20:15).
And our names must not get blotted out of it (Rev. 3:5).
But is the Book of Life more than just a list of names?

Why would our omnipotent all-knowing God need or  want a Book of Life anyway?  Our Ancient of Days does not share our senior moments!

Well, yes, but the Bible shows

Records and lists are very important to God

So it’s no wonder they’re important to us.  Many of us have a cherished family book.  My oldest and youngest sisters have put one together and shared it with me.

genealogyOur Creator who fashioned us in His image knows we love genealogical research.  The Book of Genesis contains nine genealogies (chapters 4, 5 and 11).  Chapter 10’s Table of Nations is technically an ethnography.

Nations keep census records.  In Num. 1:2 the Lord directed Moses to take a census of all men age 20 and older who could go to war in Israel.  In Nehemiah’s time, God put it in his heart to register the nobles, rulers and people (7:5).  During the reign of  Darius the Persian, a record was kept of Levites and priests  who had been heads of their fathers’ houses (12:22).

censusIn Acts 1:15 instead of saying there were about 120 disciples gathered  for Pentecost, the wording is “the number of names.”  A church directory?  Granted, they didn’t need phone numbers!  Thanks to Saul, maybe cell numbers.  But don’t we always want to keep track of and contact each other.

God’s Church of the firstborn is registered in heaven” (Heb. 12:23) because they become citizens of God’s Kingdom and Family (Php. 3:20) when they are written into the Book of Life upon receiving the Holy Spirit.

More than our names

Estimates of how many people have ever lived range from 50 billion to 150 billion.  How many names would legibly fit on an 8-1/2″ x 11″ yellow ruled sheet?  If 50, that would require one billion pages.  It’s a good thing the Lamb’s Book of Life (Rev. 21:27) is a spiritual book!  After Jesus adds a name, I’m not sure a human could tote it back to the shelf!  Oh, pardon me, back to the cloud?

The Bible indicates that the Book  of Life holds more than just names.

tears in bottleDavid wrote “You keep track of all my sorrows.  You have collected  all my tears in your bottle.  You have recorded each one in your book” (Psa. 56:8), New Living Translation).   God wants an intimate relationship with His children and watches us every day (Psa. 139:1-3).  Is the Lamb’s Book of Life like a diary?

Apparently this is the same “book of remembrance” written before God when “those who feared the Lord spoke to one another” (Mal. 3:16).   God treasures good fellowship that builds the Family of God!—that builds life!

A third scripture to consider regarding what’s recorded in the Book of Life, Rev. 20:12 says, “And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were  written in the books.”  This verse mentions the books of the Bible and the separate Book of Life.  Our works will be judged by the standards of the Bible but will our works be written in the Book of Life?  Does the Lamb use a good court reporter for those of us under judgment now (1 Pet. 4:17)?

Is Jesus recording in His Book of Life not only our names but our

Life stories?

Who doesn’t love a good biography!  And what better author than the Lamb to give us all a true and fair write-up!

As we’ve seen, the Bible gives some short but very interesting clues about the Book of Life that we can ponder and speculate about.

What we know for sure:  Let’s each pray we respond to God’s calling.  The goodness of God leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4).  Let’s repent, be baptized and receive the Holy Spirit when a minister of God lays hands on us (Acts 2:38).  Our names will  then be written into the Book of Life.

Let’s end this three-part series on the Book of Life by continuing with the Father and Son living in us (John 10:10) through their Holy Spirit until They resurrect us to eternal life in their Family and Kingdom!

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Staying Alive in the Book of Life

golden calfIn  the first mention of the Book of Life in the Bible,
Moses asked God, if you won’t forgive Israel
for making the golden calf,
then “blot me out of Your book
which you have written” (Ex. 31:32).

Is he daft?!  Why did Moses make such a consequential offer—to give up his eternal life?

Yes, he loved his people that much!  Paul expressed the same incredible love in Rom. 9:3:  “For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren.”

But Moses said what he said in response to what God said to him.  “Let Me alone, that I may destroy them and blot out their name from under heaven” (Deut. 9:14).  Did God only mean physical destruction and they would have their opportunity for salvation in the Great White Judge Judgment?  Moses saw how furious God was and must have thought the worst!

Moses knew about the Book of Life. And he saw that God was “provoked” (verse 7) and “angry enough with you to have destroyed you” (verse 8).   No wonder Moses graciously intervened with a second fast of 40 days and nights.  A simple “They’re sorry and won’t do it again” wouldn’t cut it!

Good thing for Israel that their leader was Moses!  Good thing for Moses that God (the One who became Jesus Christ) rejected Moses’ replacement offer:  “Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot him out of my book” (Ex. 32:33).  Yes, it’s

the “Lamb’s Book of Life” (Rev. 21:27)

We mankind should be eternally thankful that our Judge is the Son of Man (John 5:22) who came down and lived 3-1/2 years on the earth and was tempted in all points as we are (Heb. 4:15).

Well-meaning but false teachers wrongly claim “once saved, always saved.”  They try to explain away the warning about sinning willfully in Heb. 10:26-29.  They ignore  Paul’s statement about making sure he wouldn’t be disqualified (1 Cor. 9:27).  They pardon Jesus for talking about unpardonable sin (Matt. 12:31-32).  They add  or take away words  from the Bible, or simply reject and disobey the ones there,  which means “God shall take away his part from the Book of Life” (Rev. 22:19).

David also knew about the Book of Life.  After his terrible sins regarding Bathsheba and Uriah the Hittite, and the courageous life-saving rebuke by God’s prophet Nathan, David humbly pleaded, “Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me” (Psa. 51:11).

In Psa. 69:28 regarding people who “add iniquity to their iniquity,” David asked God, “And let them not come into Your righteousness.  Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and  not be written with the righteous.”

Jesus is the One who writes our names into the Book of Life when we receive the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9) and He will be the One who erases or blots out somebody.  It is so encouraging that Jesus said nobody can pluck us out of His hand” (John 10:28).

When satan asked for Peter, to sift him as wheat, Jesus prayed for him that his strength would not fail! (Luke 22:31).  Satan was only allowed to trouble Job as  much as God (Jesus back then) permitted.  Jesus has our back—and the rest of us!

If Jesus is forced to remove our name from His Book of Life, it will be because we neglected so great a salvation (Heb. 2:3), let another take our crown because we  don’t hold fast what we have (Rev. 3:11), or buried our talent as an unprofitable servant through laziness and fear (Matt. 25:14-31).  It will be our fault!

Acts 2This

Sunday, June 4, we celebrate God’s Holy Day called Pentecost

  God and the Word’s plan before the foundation of the world was to start the New Testament Church of God through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Pentecost is also called the Feast of Firstfruits because it pictures calling and harvesting firstfruits who will help Jesus Christ reap the big harvest during the Millennium and  Great White Throne Judgment on earth.  The firstfruits will become kings, judges, teachers and priests.

It’s interesting in Nehemiah that priests who returned from Babylon wanting to serve in Jerusalem, unless “registered by genealogy … were excluded from the priesthood as defiled” (Neh. 7:64).  What a striking parallel!  We would-be priests coming out of modern Babylon better be found in the Book of Life!

powerPaul says to each of us:  “This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.  For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline” (2 Tim. 1:6-7, New Living Translation).

We must “be even more diligent to make your call and election sure” (2 Pet. 1:10).  We must “follow the Lamb wherever He goes” (Rev. 1:14).

VW accordWe must be like the disciples gathered at Pentecost in Acts 2:1.  Topping modern attempts to see how many bodies they could stuff into a VW, the 120 were “all in one Accord!”  Hope that wasn’t the unpardonable sin in your book!  Today Church of God leaders are ramping up brethren to live in harmony with what the Father and Son are doing, in unity through the Holy Spirit.

bride of ChristWe must “overcome” so we can “be clothed in white garments.”  Engage to become the Bride of Jesus Christ and be registered in the wedding book as the Bride, not a guest!  With God’s help we must overcome now because there is no greater power  than the Holy Spirit so we have everything we need now.  Then the Lamb and husband will say “I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life” (Rev. 3:5).

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