Listen to what people said about Jesus before the crucifixion and resurrection:
“Then said some of them of Jerusalem, Is not this he, whom they seek to kill? But, lo, he speaketh boldly, and they say nothing unto him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is the very Christ? Howbeit we know this man whence he is: but when Christ cometh, no man knoweth whence he is” (Jn. 7:25-27).
“And many of the people believed on him, and said, When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?” (Jn. 7:31).
“Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee? Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was? So there was a division among the people because of him” (Jn. 7:40-43).
At the time, everyone intellectually missed the cross and the resurrection. The disciples scatter for fear of their lives at the arrest of Jesus, not realizing that Jesus alone was the sole target. Peter weeps bitterly at his failure not to courageously stand alongside Jesus during the ordeal of His night trial, not realizing that in a few short days the blessed redemption and salvation of millions upon millions of current and future believers would be fully and forever procured through the cross and the resurrection.
Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus wrap the dead body of Jesus in linen clothes with myrrh and aloes according to the Jewish practices for permanent burial. Mary Magdalene and the other women come to the sepulcher early Sunday morning to also prepare the body of Jesus for permanent burial…being totally surprised to discover an empty tomb. The two disciples walking towards the nearby city of Emmaus reveal their complete non-understanding of the cross and the resurrection foretold by Jesus.
Why did everyone at the time miss the cross and the resurrection? Because the God-composed journey of faith life-script for Jesus Christ the Son of God, like all other biblical-quality journeys of faith, was so far above ordinary conventional wisdom that no one understood or accepted ahead of time what was to occur.
Like the complex information of the workings of the Big Bang, or the unimaginable complexity of DNA and molecular machines within living cells, discovered within the last 100 years of modern scientific research, Christians also may not be able to decipher all of the details of the upcoming end-times events far in advance of their occurrence.
Even though, like the Jews in first-century Israel, we have prophetic scriptures, and the clear promise that we will not walk in darkness (1 Th. 5:4-11), much of our understanding of the end-times scenario may come at the last minute by revelation through the prophecies of Joel 2:28-32. Much of our understanding of the great end-times issues may become clear by personal revelation and illumination in the midst of the events and circumstances themselves as they occur.
I see a brief last-days period of time…however all of the fine details of the eschatological pieces fit together…of “small” Christians around the globe being filled with Holy Ghost fire, preaching the gospel and sharing their faith courageously in arenas and environments which would currently be considered out of the question. Christians standing up in their workplaces, their families, their neighborhoods, in universities, in schools, on street corners, and yes…in spiritually dead churches…with Holy Ghost power boldly preaching the everlasting gospel message for the sake of the one, two, or three out of ten who have ears to hear and hearts to respond positively.
I see a correspondingly ferocious opposition of hostility, rejection, and undisguised hatred by worldly people towards those who have this liberated outreach of Christian evangelism that is the antithesis of their skeptical, anti-god worldview beliefs, reinforced somehow and at some point in time by the presence of the dark personage of the “son of perdition” of 2 Thessalonians 2:3, and alluded to in Daniel 7:20-25, 8:23-25, and 12:10.
I also see the dissolution of a comfortable middle-ground of fence-sitting indifference, when the heat of the conflict between self-sacrificing divine love exhibited in the last-days outreach message of Spirit-filled Christians, and the venomously hostile rejection of Christians by hate-filled skeptical unbelievers (Mt. 24:9), produces an environment too hot for compromise to persist any longer in the middle-ground of uncommitted indecision (Acts 6:9-15; 7:51-59; 2 Th. 2:3).
Returning to the analogy of the small construction company caught unprepared in the middle of rapid business growth, the last-days radical change in the world environment will force upon everyone on the earth the corresponding need for “managerial” character growth that is not obtainable through the horizontally conventional, worldly mindset of self-reliance alone.
The stakes will be so high and the conditions so dire that only a secure hope in the salvation of God through a future eternal life in heaven will overcome the utter despair at the loss of the supposed “right” to the temporal dreams, hopes, and aspirations of worldly conventional normalcy (Heb. 11:13-16; Rev. 12:11). The heat of persecution will purify the gold of faith and remove the dross of empty, worldly acceptance and short-term ambitions.
The “small” Christian energized by the latter rain of the Holy Spirit poured out upon the earth, transforming people now quietly going about their Christian lives into future roaring lions of the faith courageously proclaiming the gospel message of salvation and deliverance, will epitomize for one last final time the ability of God to reach in and rescue success from the apparent jaws of defeat.
This is the God of the Bible, and there is no other like Him. To experience this power, grace, and divine love to the fullest maximum extent, at the close of time itself…come what may no matter how high the cost…is the controlling theme of liberated self-sacrifice I see over and over again in the biblical narrative stories of faith and in the history of the church leading up to today (Est. 4:16).
The concept of people starting out thinking they are not up to the task, yet nonetheless rising to the occasion and overcoming triumphantly in the most difficult of circumstances, through the supernatural insertion of God-composed, ingeniously crafted life-scripts having top-down, information-rich plotlines ready to step courageously into from the outset, is unique to the Bible. It is not only part of the key to understanding the upcoming end-times challenge, but part of the key to understanding all of the timeless reality of life itself.
A biblical-quality journey of faith following Jesus Christ, within the current context of this broken world environment, resides at the upper limits of all human pursuits and endeavors, because the creative heart and mind of God resides at the pinnacle of the natural moral law for all right thoughts, behavior, and actions. It is here and here only that Holy Ghost fire energizes and purifies all things (Heb. 12:29).
In the light of these foregoing arguments, is it likely that the last-days Christian church will be raptured pretribulation before all of these critical issues can be played-out to their fullest? Is it more likely that God has an end-times script already composed for the entire human race, involving the Christian church in the most determined and desperate struggle, against seemingly impossible outward appearances, to gather in the last remaining lost sheep at the last final moment for all time?
I cannot dogmatically say one way or the other. If God does rapture the Christian church pretribulation, then like all of the works of God, this will be perfect in its outreach, message, and outcome. But I hope people reading this book will include the worldview concept of the way of the cross into their biblical, end-times eschatological calculus from this time forward.