By Xiang Mei
Two Views on Being Changed Instantly and Raptured Into the Kingdom of Heaven
“For our conversation is in heaven; from where also we look for the Savior, the: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like to His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20–21).
“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15 :52).
Going by these verses, some people think that the Lord is almighty, so when He returns and appears to us, the images of our flesh will change in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, and we will be lifted in the sky to meet the Lord, and that we will then no longer suffer from the control and binding of sin, and will become completely holy and enter the kingdom of heaven.
“Be you holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16).
“And, behold, I come quickly; and My reward is with Me, to give every man according as his work shall be” (Revelation 22:12).
Based on these words of the Lord Jesus, some people think that the Lord is righteous and holy, so He will reward or punish each one on the basis of their actions when He returns. However, if, no matter whether we commit sins or not, the Lord makes us holy instantly and directly rapture us into the kingdom of heaven, then entering the kingdom of heaven has little to do with our deeds. If that were the case, then would what the Lord Jesus said, “to give every man according as his work shall be,” be for nothing? Therefore, they don’t agree with the view that people will be changed instantly and raptured into the heavenly kingdom.
Next, we will fellowship about whether people will really be changed instantly and taken up into the heavenly kingdom.
Is the Standard for Entering the Kingdom of Heaven Based on God’s Words or Man’s Words?
The view that people will be changed instantly and raptured into the heavenly kingdom is based on what Paul said, “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52). As we know, the Lord Jesus never said that man will be changed instantly and raptured into the heavenly kingdom, nor did His disciples except for Paul say such a thing. However, could Paul’s word be used as a basis for believers being raptured? The Lord Jesus is the King of the heavenly kingdom, the Expresser of truth; only the Lord’s words carry authority. So, on the matter of entering into the kingdom of heaven, we should only go by the Lord Jesus’ words as final. Paul was only a man, an apostle who was commissioned to spread the gospel; he was not Christ, and couldn’t express the truth, and what he said could only represent his own experiences and knowledge. So it was unavoidable that his word was blended with man’s will. Moreover, Paul dared not say his word was inspired by God, not to mention his letters being the word of God; he often started his letters to the churches with “Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the” (1 Corinthians 1:1) or “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:1), or other similar words. Clearly, Paul’s word couldn’t represent the word of God, and he could not decide at all whether we will be able to enter the kingdom of heaven. So, it is wrong for us to wait to be raised to the heavenly kingdom in the Lord’s return based on Paul’s word.
In fact, entering the heavenly kingdom is not as simple as we imagine. The Lord Jesus said, “Not every one that said to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of My Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). The Lord’s words are very clear. Only those who do the will of the heavenly Father can enter the kingdom of heaven. They refer to the people who not only labor and work and expend for God but also obey God’s words and practice them in all things; what they do is all for the sake of satisfying and loving God. Just like Abraham, he didn’t reason with God, nor complained about God when God asked him to give his only son Isaac as an offering; instead, he truly returned Isaac back to God according to God’s requirements. Finally, due to his testimony of obedience, Abraham was approved by God. Peter is another example: He could shepherd the church in accordance with God’s requirements when God entrusted the church to him; when faced with being nailed to the cross by the Roman government, he could obey to death, and was crucified upside down for God, bearing a resounding witness. It can be seen that those who do the will of the heavenly Father not only expend themselves for God outwardly, but also have the testimony of obedience, and the manifestation of love for God. Let’s then have a look at what we live out in our. We often live in sin, act greedily and have wicked thoughts, and only care about our interests in everything, though we can work for the Lord, suffer and pay the price to spread the gospel; we often tell lies despite ourselves for the sake of our interests, and when others do something that infringes upon our interests, we will fight with them, totally unable to practice the Lord’s words, without the slightest bit of reverence for the Lord; we just keep praying to the Lord for peace and joy when unpleasant things happen to us, and do not focus on seeking the Lord’s will and practicing His words, and we will blame and judge the Lord when He doesn’t remove those unpleasant things…. All this shows that we totally have no obedience or love for God, and are not the people who do the will of the heavenly Father. So, how is it possible that the Lord will change our images instantly and take us into the heavenly kingdom when He returns?
In addition, the reason why we can take Paul’s words as the standard for entering the heavenly kingdom is because we don’t like the truth. We clearly know that we have corruption within ourselves, but we are unwilling to forsake our flesh and practice the Lord’s word to change ourselves. We are just waiting for the Lord to change our images instantly in His return so that we may gain blessings from Him without having to suffer or pay a price. As a result, we use Paul’s words to comfort ourselves. In real life, none of us focus on practicing the Lord’s words, and we often indulge ourselves, give free rein to the spread of sin, and have no shred of a God-fearing heart. We live in sin like an unbeliever, and are unrepentant, yet we often say, “I have believed in the Lord for years, the Lord has forgiven my sins, and when the Lord returns, He will make me holy instantly, so that I will still be qualified to enter the heavenly kingdom.” Actually, our faith like this will come to nothing in the end. God says, “Be you holy; for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). If we haven’t escaped our corrupt dispositions or attained purification, then we cannot see God’s face. It would be possible that only those who do the will of the heavenly Father will be changed instantly and raptured into the kingdom of heaven; however, we who often sin will never be changed instantly and taken into the kingdom of heaven.
God Is Almighty, so Why Doesn’t He Change Us Instantly?
Some people may say, “God is almighty, so why can’t He change us instantly and make us holy with one word?”
It is absolutely true that God is almighty. God created the heavens and earth and all things with one word; God resurrected Lazarus with one word. Certainly, God can instantly change us and make us holy with His authority and power, but He won’t, for there are principles behind God’s work. God has His almighty aspect as well as His practical aspect, and He never does anything without a purpose.
During Noah’s time, mankind was corrupted deeply, indulging in eating, drinking, merry-making, evil, and prostitution. Living in sin, they had no place for God in their hearts; they were unwilling to worship God. This is why God decided to destroy this evil mankind. Before God’s destruction of the evil world, He commanded Noah to build the ark; Noah followed God’s direction and spent over 100 years building it. Also, during this time, Noah preached the gospel to the people around him, but none believed his words. The end result is that when God’s time came, God sent the flood to destroy everyone of that time, and only Noah’s family of eight survived the flood because Noah feared God and shunned evil. In our notions and imaginings, we think that God should first have taken Noah’s family of eight into the air instantly because He is almighty, so that Noah wouldn’t have to put so much effort into building the ark. But, why didn’t God do that? Could it be that God was incapable of doing it? Of course not. From the moment Noah began to build the ark to his completion of it, God, out of love and concern for mankind, was still hoping and waiting for mankind to repent and turn back from their evil ways, which showed His utmost tolerance and mercy toward mankind. Only when mankind couldn’t be saved, did God have to destroy them.
Let’s then take for example, when the Lord Jesus became flesh to redeem mankind. He lived on earth for thirty-three and a half years, experienced the suffering of the world, and was rejected, slandered and condemned by mankind; in the end, He was cruelly nailed to the cross as the sin offering for mankind. Speaking of the Lord’s crucifixion, we usually think that God wouldn’t have to be crucified since He is so almighty, and that with one word, God could redeem mankind from sin. However, God’s work counters our human notions. God personally incarnated asof flesh and blood to practically perform His work, and offered Himself as the sin offering to redeem mankind, so that they could survive because of His redemption. This shows the practical side in God’s work. In addition, from the Lord Jesus’ resurrection that occurred three days after He had died, we can see that God possesses great power, and has the authority to break free of the shackles of death and Hades. Thus is God’s almighty aspect manifested. If at that time God had forgiven all of mankind’s sins with one word, then how could the Pharisees’ demonic essence of resistance of God be exposed? How could Satan be convinced? And how could God’s righteous disposition be manifested? Clearly, God was using His practical work to expose all people, separating the lovers of truth from the haters of truth; at the same time, through His practical work, He could defeat Satan, shaming Satan and making it convinced. This shows us that God is so almighty, so wise.
Now, we understand that every step of God’s work is done in us practically by Him, and it is to not only save and perfect man but also expose and eliminate man. As we all know, in, God will do the work of separating all according to their kind; He will separate the wheat from the tares, the sheep from the goats, and the good servants from the evil servants. If God doesn’t perform His work practically, how could the true believers and the false believers be exposed? So, our hope for the Lord to instantly change us and take us into the heavenly kingdom based on our notions and imaginings is not in keeping with God’s practical work.
How Can We Who Live in Sin Attain Purification?
Since there is a practical side in God’s work, He will not change our images instantly and take us into the kingdom of heaven. Then how will God do His work of purifying man in the last days?
Actually, there are biblical prophecies mentioning God’s work of the last days. For instance, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come” (John 16:12–13); “He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48); “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17). These prophecies tell us that when God returns in the last days, He will express the truth to do the work of judgment, guide us into all truth, and practically resolve our sinful nature, so that we may attain purification. So, God’s work of cleansing is indeed not as simple as the moment of change in our imagination. Just as a passage of words says, “You should be able to see the will of God, and should see that the work of God is not as simple as the creation of the heavens and earth and all things. That is because the work of today is the transformation of those who have been corrupted, who are numb to the utmost degree, it is to purify those who were created but altered by Satan. It is not the creation of Adam or Eve, still less is it the creation of the light, or the creation of every plant and animal. God makes pure the things that have been corrupted by Satan and then gains them anew; they become things that belong to Him, and they become His glory. This is not as man imagines, it is not as simple as the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them, or the work of cursing Satan to the bottomless pit; rather, it is the work of transforming man, turning things that are negative, and do not belong to Him, into things that are positive, and do belong to Him. This is the truth behind this stage of God’s work. You must understand this, and avoid oversimplifying matters. The work of God is unlike any ordinary work. Its wonderfulness and wisdom are beyond the mind of man. God does not create all things during this stage of work, but nor does He destroy them. Instead, He transforms all the things He created, and purifies all the things that have been defiled by Satan. And thus does God embark upon a great enterprise, which is the entire significance of the work of God. Is the work of God that you see in these words really so simple?” (“Is the Work of God As Simple As Man Imagines?”).
The actual facts are as this passage has said. In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth and all things with one word. After we humans were corrupted by Satan, satanic poisons have become our life, such as “I am my own Lord throughout heaven and earth,” “Let those who comply with me thrive and those who resist me perish,” “As a tree lives for its bark, a man lives for his face,” and “Everyone for himself and the devil take the hindmost.” Living by these satanic poisons, what we live out are arrogance and conceit, crookedness and craftiness, and selfishness and despicableness, and other satanic dispositions. We simply cannot practice the Lord’s words, and often live in sin and resist God, losing the likeness of the man created by God in the beginning. In the last days, God expresses the truth and does the work of judgment to resolve our corruption, and at the same time He practically deals with and prunes us, and tries and refines us, so that we will see clearly the fact of our corruption by Satan and the origin of our resistance to God, gain some true knowledge of God’s righteous disposition and His holiness, and develop a heart of reverence for Him. Only then can we truly hate our corrupt dispositions, betray ourselves, and act in accordance with God’s words. And the more we practice the truth, the more reverence and obedience for God we will have in our hearts; in the end, we will be able to follow God’s words in everything, and become the people who do the will of God. That is to say, it requires a long process for God to allow us who have been corrupted deeply to attain the truth and become the people who know and obey and worship God. So, the work God does and the price He pays in us in the last days are much greater than those in God’s creation of the world. God works in us practically; we have to practically undergo sufferings and cooperate with God. We accept the judgment and chastisement of God’s words, experience His work, and practice His words, and only then can we have our corruption removed little by little, and in the end, we will become the people who listen to God’s words and walk in the way of God. Thus, God gains us, while at the same time He defeats Satan. This is the necessary process through which we can attain full salvation. Just as Revelation 22:14 prophesies, “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.”
Therefore, when hearing someone testify that the Lord has returned, and expressed the truth to do the work of judgment and purification in the last days, we should right away put aside the view of our being changed instantly and raptured into the heavenly kingdom, and accept God’s judgment work of the last days. Only in this way can we have the chance to attain purification and enter the kingdom of heaven.
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