Conditional Security and Rapture
By Terry James
Truth about what God promises those who are “saved” continues to be mistaught and misunderstood. Nothing is more important to lost humanity than truth regarding the disposition of the soul in relationship to Jesus Christ and to God the Father.
Religionists of the world teach a variety of pathways through life. These propagate many false teachings about how to attain their various ideas of life after death.
Most such ministers advocate conducting one’s life in a way that displays good works. A social gospel of works is perhaps the most common thread found throughout this sort of religiosity.
Good works, however, like is said of beauty, are in the eye of the beholder. Good works are one thing to someone who is a Hari Krishna devotee. Good works mean something quite different to a follower of Allah who holds strictly to Sharia Law. One might hold out flowers to another person in his or her version of peace and love in an attempt to evangelize. The other too often whips out a scimitar and threatens decapitation if the one being witnessed to doesn’t bow the knee to Allah. Point is, each effort to make new converts is, in that religion’s view, considered “good works.”
But it is the erroneous teaching on the topic of salvation within Christianity that is the most problematic to the true believer in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, as I see it.
Most of God’s children–those who are truly saved–can recognize the cults and isms of the world’s religions as false. Christians who fail to study and pray over the Holy Scripture, however, are, sadly, all too often easily misled about doctrinal truth found in the Bible. Even otherwise solid teachers of biblical truth are sometimes egregiously wrong when teaching on salvation and the security of the believer.
Again: Nothing is more important than our soul’s relationship to Jesus Christ and to God the Father. While one who teaches conditional security of the believer isn’t necessarily in the same classification as the false religionists of the world who preach and teach “another gospel” than Jesus Christ and Him crucified, their error is very serious.
Theirs is serious error because it, like the false religions of the world, holds up works as necessary for salvation.
They teach that believers, after accepting Christ, as given in Romans 10: 9-10, must then work to maintain their salvation. They must live holy lives throughout their remaining time in this flesh. They must, through their own devices–assisted by constantly being filled with the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost–hold on to the salvation or else risk losing it. Thus their salvation–in this system of teaching–is conditional upon the work of the believer.
Living a life of being holy and of being filled with the Holy Spirit is, of course, ideal. We must all aspire to live such a life as Christians. But, we all sin, and we are told in 1 John 1:6-8 that if we say we don’t sin we are liars. The truth is not in us.
We certainly should constantly repent of wrong in order to be cleansed of all unrighteousness, we are told in 1 John 1:9. But nowhere in Scripture are we told that, once saved, we can lose our salvation through sin and then be reborn again.
Rapture Not Conditional
Like in the matter of salvation, the believer is unconditionally secure, in that he or she will go to be with Christ in the Rapture. This is true no matter the Christian’s walk with the Lord at the time of that great event.
Some years ago, I wrote the following in this regard.
Going to Christ when He calls as Paul outlines in 1 Corinthians 15:51-55 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, and given by John in Revelation 4:1-2, is a salvation matter. We know that from the overall gospel message and from the total context of God’s dealing with His family. Remember when Jesus prayed that beautiful prayer to His Father, as the Lord faced the cross (John 17)? Read it again, and you will see that it is absolutely clear that born-again believers are forever secure in the Father’s hand, based upon what Jesus did on the cross.
We know with absolute certainty that we are once and forever in God’s family because of the words of the One who created all that exists: “My Father, which gave [them] me, is greater than all; and no [man] is able to pluck [them] out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:29).
Paul confirms that the Rapture is a salvation matter as follows: “For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-11).
The Rapture will be Christ keeping us from the hour of temptation or Tribulation (read Revelation 3:10). The Tribulation is the time of God’s wrath–to which Paul tells us we are “not appointed.” However, there are many who insist that Christians who haven’t properly confessed their sins will go through that time of God’s wrath (and the entire seven years of the Tribulation will be God’s judgment and wrath). These use the following verse to make their case: “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36).
The key word they hold forth as relevant here is the word “worthy.” Does this word not mean that we as born-again believers must be good enough to stand before Jesus in that raptured throng? Does this word not mean, therefore, that if we fail to live up to God’s standards while on this Earth, we will (at some point in God’s holy view of what it takes to fall from being Rapture ready) lose our ticket in that translation moment, thus not be taken when the shout is heard, “Come up hither!”?
Like in examining the issue of salvation itself, we now look at the word “worthy.” What does it mean to be “worthy,” as given in this Rapture example? Again, the answer is wrapped up in the same name as before: “Jesus.” Jesus is the only person “worthy,” in God’s holy eyes, to be in the heavenly realm.
Remember what Jesus said to a man who addressed Him as “Good Master”? “And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God” (Luke 18:18).
Jesus, the second Person of the Godhead, was not seeking to chastise the man for addressing Him in this way. The Lord was confirming through this question that He is indeed God, the only good, the only righteousness. Righteousness is the only ticket to Heaven–either through the portal of death, or through the Rapture. Only through Jesus–being born again into God’s family through belief in Him–can a person enter the heavenly realm.
Jesus spoke to this all-important matter by addressing Nicodemus: “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).
God’s Word says about fallen mankind: “As it is written, There is none righteous no not one” (Romans 8:10) and, “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
So, Jesus is the only person “worthy” to enter Heaven. It is through Him that any of us are worthy to stand before Him in that heavenly realm. That is the truth found in the Scripture in question.
On a less magnificent scale, the word “worthy” in this passage means that we should be in a constant mindset of prayerful repentance. We should always want to be found “worthy”–cleansed of all unrighteousness, as stated in 1 John 1: 9, so that we will hear our Lord say to us on that day, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).
That said, if you have in your heart (deepest reaches of your spirit/soul) believed in the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ and have confessed with your mouth that He is your Savior, your salvation is sure. You’re going to be with Him when He calls–either through death or in the Rapture. That is certain.