In a hot afternoon, cicadas were shrilling unceasingly among the trees. Scorched by the heat, the trees and flowers at the roadside held their heads down listlessly.
In a residential block, Wang Na forced herself to stay awake and continued, “says, ‘Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord’ (1 Thessalonians 4:17). From the state of the brothers and sisters in the church and the world situation we can see that have come. Earthquakes have frequently been happening around the world; the international situation has been turbulent. Many people have died in the flames of war, and many houses have been destroyed. The number of refugees in the world has sharply increased. Famine, plague, floods, and droughts are also gradually spreading. The prophecies of the Lord’s return have basically been fulfilled. Therefore, the Lord should return soon to bring us into the kingdom of heaven. At that time, we will all meet the Lord in the air. We should have faith in the promise of the Lord.”
At her words, the co-workers looked at each other helplessly. Then some of them lowered their heads and flicked through the Bible absently, some shook their heads slightly and gave a little sigh, and some even whispered to each other.
“Despite what you said,” said Sister Li blankly, “now the brothers and sisters all become passive and weak because it takes so long for us to welcome the Lord’s return. Disasters are getting worse and worse everywhere and the four blood moons have already appeared, but we are still not yet raptured at this critical juncture. How can we not be weak and anxious?”
Brother Zhang nodded and took up the thread of the conversation, “Alas! I agree. The catastrophe is coming, yet we are not raptured. So what is the problem? Well. Sister Song, you have been at other places and rarely come to our co-worker meeting. What do you say about this?”
Song Jiayin looked at everyone and said earnestly, “Thank the Lord! I used to have the same confusion: Theonce said: ‘Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away’ (Matthew 24:35). Today, the prophecies of the Lord’s return have practically come true. Many brothers and sisters in the Lord are preaching that the Lord has returned. Since the Lord has come back, why are we not yet raptured? With this doubt, I, burnt with anxiety, sought here and there, and finally knew the reason for that. As it turns out, ‘being raptured’ is not what we think—being lifted into the air.”
As soon as her voice subsided, a heated debate began in the sleepy room immediately. All the other people started speaking.
Wang Na cast her eyes toward Song Jiayin and said solemnly, “Jiayin, we who believe in the Lord should go according to the Bible. That we will be lifted up into the air to meet the Lord does have its basis in the Bible. Since you say that to be raptured does not mean to be lifted up into the air, then is there any biblical basis for it?”
Everyone all turned their eyes toward Song Jiayin.
She looked at them, and said with a smile, “Is this idea that to be raptured means to be taken from the earth into heaven truly the will of God? Now, let’s study some scriptures. Revelation 21:2-3 says, ‘And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God.’ Revelation 11:15 also says, ‘And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His; and He shall reign for ever and ever.’ From these predictions, we can see since in the words ‘the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven,’ it says that new Jerusalem is ‘coming down from God out of heaven,’ surely it will be on earth. We all know that ‘new Jerusalem’ means God’s kingdom. That is to say that God will establish His kingdom on earth. The words ‘the tabernacle of God is with men,’ ‘He will dwell with them,’ and ‘The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord’ in the prophecies also adequately prove that we will ultimately live on earth, and God’s kingdom will descend upon earth rather than being in heaven. If attaining rapture refers to being taken up to heaven as we think, then won’t our desire of entering into the kingdom of heaven be in vain? And how will these prophecies of Revelation come to pass?”
Brother Zhang said as he thought, “‘the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven,’ and ‘the tabernacle of God is with men,’ these scriptures all imply that God’s kingdom will come on earth. God’s words are expressed so clearly, how come we didn’t get anything out of it before? Obviously, God will come to the earth to establish His kingdom, and yet we insist on pursuing to be raptured up to heaven. This goes against the Lord’s words.”
Song Jiayin went on, “That’s right! Since God created man, He always carries out His work on earth. From start to finish, God’s intention is for us to live on earth rather than in heaven. It is clearly written in the Bible that mankind’s ancestors Adam and Eve originally lived in the Garden of Eden on earth. After they committed sin, they were driven out of Eden. However, they still lived on earth. This being the case, God’s work of saving mankind is also, of course, carried out on earth. For example, in the Age of Law God issued forth laws and commandments to guide mankind’s life on earth; during the Age of Grace, the Lord Jesus became flesh and completed the work of redeeming all mankind, allowing us to do His will and follow His teachings on earth. All of this work was done on earth. Besides, Revelation and other prophecies say that the wonderful future destination God has prepared for those of the human race that remain will still be on earth.”
Sister Yu hurriedly put down the cup in her hand and said with emotion, “Indeed. That’s the way it is. In the past, I just wondered how we could be lifted into the air since we are mortal beings with heavy bodies. Today, I feel much more enlightened inside after such a fellowship.”
What the brothers and sisters said made Wang Na frown. She couldn’t stop thinking about the communication of Song Jiayin.
“Jiayin,” said Wang Na, “everything you said does make sense, but the Bible very clearly records that Enoch and Elijah were raptured up to heaven. How can this be explained?”
Facing Wang Na, Song Jiayin said in honesty, “About this question, Acts 8:39-40 says, ‘And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.’ These verses say definitely that Philip was caught away by the Spirit of the Lord. According to our conceptions, he was certainly raptured to heaven by the Lord. But in fact, as the verse says, ‘Philip was found at Azotus,’ and he spread the gospel in all the cities, doing the Lord’s will on earth. From this we can see our belief that ‘Being raptured’ means being taken from a low place to a high place, or being caught up from earth to heaven is all our notion with no basis in the truth. The Lord Jesus said, ‘And no man has ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, evenwhich is in heaven’ (John 3:13). The Lord Jesus is the only gate to the heavenly kingdom. So, in our faith we must use the Lord’s words as the standard. If Enoch and Elijah were raptured up to heaven according to our understanding, how do we explain the word of the Lord Jesus then? Which is correct, our notion or the Lord’s words?”
The objective Wang Na had been pursuing for many years began to waver in her heart. She asked herself constantly: Is my view about attaining rapture I have held for all these years really wrong? After a fierce battle inside, she asked Song Jiayin, “Jiayin, if our understanding of being raptured for so many years is wrong, then can you tell us what is the true meaning?”
Song Jiayin hurriedly took out a notebook from her bag and said, “I can’t explain it clearly. However, I copied a passage of words, which has communicated it very plainly. Let me read it for you. ‘“Being caught up” is not being taken from a low place to a high place as people imagine. This is a huge mistake. Being caught up is referring to My predestining and selecting. It is targeted at all those I have predestined and chosen. Those who have gained the status of firstborn son, the status of sons, or people, are all those who have been caught up. This is most incompatible with people’s notions. Those who have a share in My house in the future are all people who have been caught up before Me. This is absolutely true, never-changing, and cannot be refuted by anybody. This is the counterattack against Satan. Anyone I predestined shall be caught up before Me’ (‘The One Hundred and Fourth Utterance’). ‘Being raptured’ is not that, as we think, we’ll be lifted up into the air at a stroke when the Lord returns, but means that we can follow the Lamb’s footsteps, accept God’s new work and return before His throne. This is just as in the end of the Age of Law; when the Lord Jesus came to work, those who recognized God’s voice from the words of the Lord Jesus and accepted His salvation were raptured. Their being raptured was mainly because they could hear God’s voice. Likewise, the Bible prophesies, ‘And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him’ (Matthew 25:6). ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me’ (Revelation 3:20). So today, in the last days, when the Lord comes back and utters His words, if we can, like the, actively seek His footsteps, recognize His voice, and accept His return, we will be able to follow His footsteps. Then we are truly raptured.”
Sister Li said happily, “So the true rapture refers to following the footprints of the Lamb, and accepting God’s new work. Now, I finally get it.”
Brother Zhang said thoughtfully, “Yeah. I’ve really gained much today. If we go according to our imagination, then no matter how many years we wait, we will not be raptured. The Lord Jesus has said long ago, ‘However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself’ (John 16:13). When the Lord returns, He will utter more words and express the truth. As long as we can focus on hearing His voice, recognize the voice of the ‘Bridegroom,’ and accept His new work, then we will be taken up before His throne. Now we finally have a way of attaining rapture.”
Song Jiayin and the co-workers all smiled.
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