Recently I watched a TV report on the Australian bush fires which took place in late 2019. The horror of it struck me when a lady described how she and her family received a phone call informing them that they had ten minutes in which to leave their house and drive to safety, as the fires were coming dangerously close.
I tried to imagine how I would react if I were to receive such an urgent warning. I could picture the panic and terror as I rushed around in a frenzied attempt to gather together essential things and get everyone out and into the car. Unless I had had the forethought to have bags packed, ready and waiting by the door there would be a great risk of not making it to safety in time, as precious minutes and seconds would be lost. The consequences of such a delay would be too awful to contemplate.
Watching this report reminded me of a dream I had. I rarely remember dreams but this one was particularly vivid. In the dream I was due to travel to Sweden to visit my daughter, but on arrival at the airport I discovered to my horror that I had forgotten my passport. In fact, I have a dread of this happening every time I travel by air. That feeling of desperation at the thought of me or a member of my family not being allowed to board the flight strikes my heart with fear.
Yet one day, which could be close, an event will occur for which failure to be ready will be far more devastating than missing a flight. The consequences will have implications for our eternal destiny. The event to which I am referring is the Rapture of the Church. Jesus will call His Bride, the Church, to meet Him in the air and be with Him in Heaven. The Bible says this will happen in the twinkling of an eye. (1 Corinthians 15: 51, 52) (Matthew 24: 42- 44) All across the world people will disappear, and many will be left behind. Unlike the phone call giving a ten minute window for escape there will be no time to rush around getting ready. Our assurance for inclusion in this instantaneous exit needs to be secured in advance. No-one, not even Jesus, knows the day or the hour when He will call His Bride.
How can we be ready?
So, who will be taken? What are the qualifications? How can we ‘be ready’?
My answer may seem simplistic, but this is what I believe based on Bible study, trusted and reliable teaching, and the witness of the Holy Spirit in my heart. Simply put, I believe there are two requirements:
- To have accepted Jesus as our Saviour, repenting of sin and receiving God’s forgiveness
- To be in relationship with Jesus and seek to remain close to Him, allowing the Holy Spirit to change us
Salvation through Jesus is our ‘passport’.
We need to have repented of our sins and received Jesus Christ as our Saviour, believing that He died on the cross to pay the penalty for our wrong-doing. Living a good life, going to church, being baptised and doing good works will not qualify us without having received Jesus in our lives. This is the foundation of our faith and the platform upon which the rest of our lives is played out, after being ‘born again’. Rather than being a single event which we then forget about and resume our old ways, this decision to follow Jesus and receiving Him into our lives is the beginning of a journey of sanctification as we enter into a relationship with Him. A more in-depth consideration of this may be found in my post ‘Why do we need Jesus?’ .
Our Christian journey begins
Hebrews 12: 1-3 describes it this way: ‘Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. …..
It is clear from this passage that in order to complete this journey successfully, discipline and perseverance are necessary. There will be times when it is not easy and we will be tempted to give up. Everyone’s journey will be unique, with different difficulties and challenges, but the goal will be the same for all of us – to complete the race and receive the eternal reward which is given to those who are faithful.
The Holy Spirit is our helper
Does this sound impossible? The good news is that we do not have to do this alone! God has given us the Holy Spirit to help us. Being filled and led by the Holy Spirit is the key, as we seek to live a life of obedience and surrender to God as our relationship with Him grows.
This is a life-long process, and as we learn to love Him more, He will show us areas in our lives which need to change. All our ‘works’ should flow from a close, intimate relationship with Him and there will be good fruit in our lives; fruit of the Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self- control. It is not so much a checklist of things we must achieve or attitudes we have to adopt, but a change which occurs over time as our relationship with Him grows. Evidence of this will be seen in a number of ways, which will include a quickness to forgive, repenting of wrong thoughts, actions or attitudes, care and concern for others, and seeking to honour God by working faithfully at the specific tasks He has prepared for us, using the skills and talents He has gifted us with.
Do we have to be perfect?
It is not a question of being perfect.. if that were the case then no-one would qualify. I believe it is about walking closely with Him and allowing Him to change us by His love, letting His Spirit work within us. God knows our weaknesses. He is a loving Father and if good earthly parents are patient with their children, providing support and encouragement at every stage of their growth and development, how much more will our Heavenly Father, who is perfect, do for us?
It could be very near
Although no-one can be certain when the Rapture will occur, we can be aware of the times and seasons we are in, and there is no doubt that we are living in a time of turmoil. The End Times is a large topic and it is not my intention to talk about it in detail here. Further information may be found at the end of the article.
Those left behind at the Rapture will have to endure the most terrible times the world has ever known in a 7 year period of time known as the Tribulation. Of this, the second half, the Great Tribulation, will be the most intense. It will still be possible to repent, believe and receive Jesus during this time, and the Bible foretells that many will do so. But why wait and face the horrors of the Tribulation when the way to forgiveness, salvation and a right relationship with God are available to us now? God longs that everyone should come to Him in repentance and know Him and the way has been made open through Jesus.
When applying for a passport or getting one renewed, often there is a waiting period, and getting documentation for travel can be a stressful and anxious experience, heightened by the fear that it won’t be ready in time. But our passport to Heaven will be given to us the moment we make a decision to accept Jesus as Saviour and Lord and receive forgiveness for our sins. I would urge you to ask Him into your life today – do not delay. He longs for you to come to Him and receive His love and forgiveness. He does not want anyone to perish.
It is my hope and prayer that you will take this step of faith to ensure your eternal salvation.
Make sure you have your passport!