Are Your Bags Packed?
By Grant Phillips
It is my observation that more Christians are realizing we are approaching Christ’s return. Unfortunately, they still comprise a very large minority in Christendom. All Christians will be taken by surprise when this takes place because none of us know God’s timing for the Rapture. However, most Christians will REALLY be surprised since they either do not believe in the Rapture of the Church or are unfamiliar with this event.
Sad to say, many of those who will not be a part of the snatching away (Rapture) of the true Church, will be shocked, horrified and angry. Others will be delighted that we are gone.
The Bible is very clear that prior to the seven years (Tribulation) remaining on Israel’s time clock, the Lord Jesus Christ will remove His Church. By my saying, “Are your bags packed” I simply mean for Christians, “Are you looking for our Lord’s return?” For those who are not Christians I am saying, “If you are alive at that time, will you have made yourself ready between now and then?”
If we were to use this analogy of having our bags packed, what would a Christian pack in his/her bag? Could we say, “I packed my church membership or my good works?” No, we cannot say that, because no one can become a Christian (a follower of Christ) apart from simple, child-like faith in Jesus Christ. This simple faith in Him has triggered our repentance and total faith in Jesus to save us and to keep us. We are saved by His grace through faith and nothing else. So, there is nothing we can pack that assures our place in Heaven unless it is something that comes from Him. What could that be?
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession-to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14 NIV)
My wife and I have learned over the years when going on vacation to pack lighter and lighter because we rarely use most of what we take with us, especially the clothes. When the Rapture occurs our clothes will be the righteousness of Christ, and that is all we need. That is the only thing that will guarantee our admittance in our Father’s house anyway.
I have no idea of the percentage, but I dare say that the world at large believes we must provide our own works to gain entrance into Heaven. Even in religious circles, most seem to think we have to add something to help Jesus out in our salvation and even to keep us from losing it.
If you are relying on anything other than child-like faith in Jesus Christ to save and keep you, you are remiss in what God requires of us.
How many pride themselves on the name over the church doors thinking that church organization is all they need? They’re a member now, so everything is okay.
How many gloat over they’re supposed good works, thinking that surely they could never be denied Heaven because they are such a good person?
Even true faith is often misunderstood today. It is actually politically correct today to proclaim, with chest out, that we have faith. Most everyone is talking about faith, but it is an empty faith. I, and I’m sure you too, have heard many over the last few years boast of their faith, thinking that is all they need. They can live like hell, but as long as they have faith, everything is okay, because they have faith. However, their faith is a sham, because it isn’t real. The issue here is that a true Christian speaks of a real faith that rests in Jesus Christ and Him alone. The world talks of a faith that could be in anything and often is.
The Bible says:
“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that-and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” (James 2:14-26 NIV)
On the surface, this seems like a total contradiction to Ephesians 2:8-9 which says,
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV)
God does not contradict Himself, so what is He saying about faith?
He is saying in Ephesians 2:8-9 that our works cannot save us, but faith in Jesus Christ can save us, and only because of the working power of His grace.
He is saying in James 2:14-26 that real faith, the faith of Ephesians 2:8-9, will produce works. Again, works do not save. Only faith saves, by God’s grace, and real faith will give birth to works. True faith gives birth to good works as a woman gives birth to a child. Otherwise, pseudo faith is a barren womb that produces nothing.
Keep in mind that the child comes from the woman, not the woman from the child. Produce comes from the garden, not the garden from the produce. Therefore, good works come from real faith, but true faith must exist to produce good works.
Many will stand before God and pull out of their over-packed baggage church membership, walking down the aisle, helping others, being nice, love, deeds of all sorts, etc., etc., etc., but still face eternity in hell.
Those who will spend eternity in Heaven will have no baggage. With empty hands they stand before God and claim only the righteousness of Christ He bestowed upon them when they rested their faith in Him. They have rested their faith in Jesus Christ and put their soul in His hands. Their heart recognized His forgiveness at the cross and His keeping power at the empty tomb. They called Jesus their Savior and lived for Him as their Lord. He is their King of kings and their Lord of lords. Did their living for Him save them? No. Their faith saved them then inspired them to live for Him. Jesus will then say of them, “He(she) is Mine.”
Don’t bother with all that baggage. Come to Jesus with simple child-like faith. Then you can have the assurance that you are His because you placed your trust in Him and Him alone.