Should Christians Worry About Being Left Behind?

This won't be popular or make people happy but ...

Yes, I think Christians need to be concerned about the possibility of being left behind. 

This is my opinion.  I cannot say for sure that it's what's really going to happen.  But the more I read the Bible, the more I think it teaches that not all Christians will go up in the rapture.

Of course, unbelievers will be left behind.  Those who have rejected Jesus's offer of salvation and grace and mercy.  Those who have rejected the offer God makes to the faithful church, to be spared from the coming wrath.

But I think there are Christians (and "Christians") who will be left behind, too.  Specifically, those who have made their life (or money) a priority over their faith, over the Lord ... and those who have backslidden, are disobedient to Him, are living for themselves ... and those who aren't being faithful to Scripture but who knowingly compromise it or alter it so that it says what they want it to say ... and those who think they are Christian but really aren't.




And what Scripture is there to back this view up?


1.  First of all, consider all this (warning: this point will get a bit messy, but I'm trying to paint a complete picture of the "faithful church" - those who will be raptured):


"Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day - and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing." (2 Timothy 4:8)

As I said in an earlier post, I think the elders around the throne in Rev. 4 are representatives of the raptured church.  And what are the elders wearing?

Crowns.

I think these crowns are the crowns that are awarded to those who have longed for the coming of the Lord, those who are looking forward to His return.  The faithful believers.

And I think "that day" the crowns are awarded is the day of the rapture.  And the elders are around the throne before the first seal is opened, meaning that we are raptured before the start of the tribulation.



The faithful church is represented by the Philadelphia church in Rev. 3:7-13.  And what is the promise given to this church?

"Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth.  I am coming soon.  Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown."  

They remained faithful to Jesus and to the Gospel and endured patiently in the faith all the way to the end, which is far different than the backslidden church, the compromising church, the superficial church, the lukewarm church, etc. (the other churches listed in Rev. 2-3).  

And as a result, they alone were promised a crown if they "hold on to what they have" (their faith, their commitment to Christ and the Truth).  They were promised to be spared from the "hour of trial" that will come on the rest of the earth (I believe that's the tribulation).  

(Why the warning to not let anyone take your crown if there's no chance of losing your crown?  I think the "crown" is part of the reward for the faithful church, taken out at the rapture.  If this is so, then it's possible to lose your place in the faithful church and not be taken out in the rapture.  It doesn't mean you lost your salvation, just that you lost your chance to be raptured out because you weren't ready and weren't living like you should be.)  

So this church gets a crown - like the elders around the throne.  And they are spared from the "hour of trial" (the tribulation) - like the elders who are around the throne before the first seal opens to start the tribulation.

The tribulation is a time to test the people on the earth.  I think this means it's a time to test their allegiance - if they will turn to Christ or away from Christ.  If they will uphold the Bible or turn against the Bible.

And since the faithful church already proved their allegiance - clinging to their faith until Jesus raptured them out - there is no reason for them to be around for the tribulation, the time of testing.  They have already made their decision about Jesus and have been faithful to Him.

But this time of testing - the tribulation - will come on everyone else.  On those who were not believers at the time of the rapture.  On those who were wishy-washy, compromising Christians.  On those who thought they were Christians but who really weren't.  On those who changed Scripture to tickle people's ears.

These people will have to make their decision about Christ and show their faithfulness to Him during the tribulation.  


(I also think children under the age of accountability will be raptured, too.  The Bible talks about an age when children are old enough to choose right from wrong.  But if they are too young to understand "right and wrong" - too young to be able to choose between Jesus and Satan - there is no point for them to go into this time of testing.  So they will be spared, taken out in the rapture, covered by God's grace.)


"and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead - Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath."  (1 Thess. 1:10)

The true and faithful church will be rescued from the coming wrath!  The tribulation!

And where will we be taken?

We will be taken to the "Father's house" (John 14:2-3), which I believe is the "New Jerusalem" that comes down out of heaven in Rev. 21.


What does Rev. 21:12-14 say about the New Jerusalem?

It says that there are 24 names written on its walls and foundations - 12 for the tribes of Israel and 12 for the apostles of the Lamb.

And how many elders are sitting around the throne wearing crowns?

24

I think these elders are the 24 names written on the New Jerusalem because they represent those who live in the New Jerusalem - the faithful believers of all time before the rapture.

Look again at the Philadelphia church.  What does Rev. 3:12 say about them?

"Him who overcomes ... I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven ..."

God promises those in the faithful church that He will write the name of the new Jerusalem on them.  He will write the name of their new home on them - the new home of the raptured church.    


All of this ties the promise of a crown for those who long for the Lord's appearance with the elders who are wearing crowns before the first seal opens ... with the Philadelphia church who was promised crowns for their faithfulness and promised to be spared from the "time of testing" (the tribulation) ... with the New Jerusalem where the faithful church is taken (the "Father's House")!

All of this means that the faithful church will be raptured out before the tribulation, and we will go to the New Jerusalem while the world enters the "time of trial."



[One other interesting note about the Philadelphia church:  

Rev 3:8 refers to an “open door that no one can shut” which is set before this church.  Many have said this means that it’s an evangelizing church, that the “open door” is a door to the world, to go out and tell others about Christ.  And maybe this is so.

Or ... maybe it's a reference to the rapture?  Maybe the "open door" is the door to heaven ... and only this church (the true believers) has the right to enter it?

Look at Rev. 4:1"After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven.  And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, 'Come up here ...'"

John saw a door open in heaven (same door the Philadelphia church gets to enter?) ... and he hears a voice like a trumpet (any relation to the trumpet during the rapture?) ... and a voice says "Come up here" (like the command given in 1 Thess. 4:16?) ... and John is immediately "in the spirit" and taken up to heaven.  

Could this be a foreshadowing of the rapture?  Of what the Philadelphia church will experience?]



2. 
"It will be just like this on the day the Son of Man is revealed.  On that day, no one who is on the roof of his house, with his goods inside, should go down to get them.  Likewise, no one in the field should go back for anything.  Remember Lot's wife!  Whoever tries to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.  I tell you, on that night two people will be in one bed; one will be taken and the other one left.  Two women will be grinding grain together; one will be taken and the other left."  (Luke 17:30-35)



I think this shows that there will be those who could have escaped the wrath, like Lot's wife could have escaped, but that they chose to turn back to their lives.  They put their lives over their faith.  They lived for themselves instead of living for the Lord.  

I think the Lord will only take those who are ready and willing to come with Him, who have shown they love Him more than their lives by how they lived.  And as I said in a previous post, I think there might be a "time of decision" while the rapture is happening for Christians to decide if they want to go or stay.  If they will run to the Lord or run to their homes, like Lot's wife.  

But honestly, if we are not ready for the Lord or are living in a way that would make us ashamed before Him, then I think we'll be caught by surprise and be too ashamed to stand before Him at the rapture.  Instead of running to meet Him when He comes, we'll be running back to our houses to hide.  And we will be left behind.



3.  
"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  As it was in the days of Noah ... one will be taken and the other left.  Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.... So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.... Who then is the faithful and wise servant...?  It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing [his job] when he returns.... But suppose that servant is wicked ... The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of.  He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."  (Matthew 24:36-51)



"Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap.  For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth.  Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man." 
(Luke 21:34-36)


Notice in the Matthew passage above that the person who was assigned a place with the hypocrites was actually a servant.  He was a servant just like the faithful servant.  They were both servants (Christians?).  But the wicked one was a lazy, self-serving servant who was not doing what he was supposed to be doing or living the way he was supposed to be living.


To me, this is comparing two types of Christians: those who are faithfully living as God wants them to and those who aren't.  


They were both servants, but only the faithful one was ready for the Lord to come back.  The unfaithful, lazy, self-serving one was sent to the place with the hypocrites, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.  

I think this "weeping and gnashing of teeth" describes the tribulation time.  Unfaithful believers will be left behind to face the tribulation, and it will cause them to weep and to gnash their teeth.  (I talk more about this in the next post where I differentiate between the tribulation and hell.  Two different places where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.)

The above Luke passage also shows that "that day" (the rapture, I believe) will overtake those who are not expecting it, those who got distracted with the cares and pleasures of life.  

But we can watch for that day and pray to escape it, which I think means we can pray that we remain faithful to the end.  And if we are faithful to the end, we will have the confidence we need to stand before the Lord on the day He comes to get us.  Those who are ashamed of how they are living will not be able to stand before Him.  They will hide and stay behind.  

They just weren't ready to face the Lord.


4.  
What about those who change Scripture to tickle people's ears?

There are so many churches doing this right now.  They change what God says about so many things to please people, to tell people what they want to hear.

And most of them truly think they are trying to honor God and uphold Scripture, even while they change or soften Scripture.  They use Jesus's love as an excuse for telling everyone that everything they do is okay and that God would never make anyone feel bad about their choices, that He loves everyone just as they are and doesn't expect anyone to change a thing.  As long as you "love others," you're good with God!  (Click here and here for more on that nonsense.)

I think these are the "wolves in sheep's clothing" (Matthew 7:15).  

They are those who won't share or tolerate sound doctrine, but who trade in God's truth for a more people-pleasing "truth," for myths (2 Tim. 4:3-4).  

They are the ones who will hear "Away from me; I never knew you" when they say, "But, God, didn't we do this and that in your name!?!" (Mathew 7:21-27).

They seem all good and godly, but they are misleading people terribly.  (And it's that fact that they seem so good and godly that makes them the most dangerous.)  

These compromising churches are not part of the faithful Philadelphia church.  They are not promised to be spared from the "hour of trial."  In fact, Jesus promises the compromising Pergamum church (Rev. 2:14-16) that He Himself will fight against them if they do not repent.

It's one thing to know the Truth; it's another thing to live it.

"I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book.  And if anyone take words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book."  (Rev. 22:18-19)  

(I believe the "holy city" is the New Jerusalem, the place the raptured church goes to.  And this is possibly saying that you can miss out on the holy city - the rapture - by altering God's Truth.  This is a serious warning for the many churches who have altered God's Word about things like homosexuality, abortion, gender, marriage, etc.)




5.
And why do I think that those who cherish money too much (such as some of those from the "prosperity gospel" group) are at risk of being left behind?

"No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and money."  (Matthew 6:24)

I think there are people who believe they worship God, that they love God.  But in reality, they are worshipping material things.  They love His gifts more than they love Him.  They pursue temporary pleasures over heavenly treasures

They are the Laodicea church (Rev. 3:14-22) who is rich but lukewarm, self-sufficient, and self-serving.  They are living in their wealth instead of in the Lord.  

And the Lord is not pleased with them.  He promises to spit them out of His mouth.  He tells them that they are on the wrong side of the door from Him, that He is knocking on the door of their hearts/lives but they need to open the door and let Him in.

And if they do not do so soon, they will be left behind when He comes for His own. 

Missing the rapture will be a huge wake-up call to them.  And they will realize they were worshipping the wrong thing all along.


[Incidentally, some scholars believe the churches listed in Rev. 2-3 are not only real churches at that time, but that they also represent the various churches all throughout history and that they are a listing of various over-arching "church ages" in chronological order.  

If this is so, notice that the Laodicea church is the last in the list.  And if the Laodicea church is the age of the "prosperity gospel," then we are at the end of the church age, right before Jesus returns.

To the previous churches, Jesus says things like "I will come" and "I am coming soon."  But to this church, He says, "Here I am!  I stand at the door and knock."  

If these churches represent a chronological order throughout time and if the "prosperity gospel" church is the Laodicea church, then He is nearly here.  Something worth considering!]  



So if we all know that Jesus could come back at any moment, why aren't more of us watching for Him?  Why aren't we working and living the way He wants us to, knowing that we could have to face Him any day? 

Here's a good look into that.



What it all boils down to it this:

If you are a genuine believer who's made a heart commitment to Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and who's faithfully upholding Scripture as it's written and doing the work God has given you (whether that's being a missionary or a full-time-mother or a doctor or plumber or whatever), and who's living in a way that won't make you run from the Lord in shame when He comes ... then you have nothing to worry about.  You will be raptured out of here before the tribulation.


But those who do not fit in the above group should seriously consider how they are living and who they are living for.  If they have placed anything over the Lord.  Because as I said, I don't think all Christians will be raptured out.  I think many will find themselves left behind, entering the tribulation.  (I am not saying that they lost their salvation, just their chance to be raptured out.)  And the "time of testing" will be their chance to finally live out their faith.  To show the Lord they choose Him over their own lives.  But this time - in the tribulation - it will come with great persecution and possible martyrdom.


Don't wait that long!  Make your decision now!


[Of course, many would say that all Christians, no matter how they are living, will be raptured out because they have the Holy Spirit in them.  So when the Holy Spirit is taken out, they'll be taken out, too.  And this may be the case.  

But I do think it's worth at least considering all the Bible's warnings about being ready and being faithful, about watching for His return and not being caught by surprise, about the potential to lose your crown, about the need to "remember Lot's wife" who lost her chance to be rescued because she longed for her life, about the bad things that will come upon the various churches in Revelation (all but the faithful Philadelphia church).  Even if they don't mean what I think they do, those warnings are there for a reason.  Take some time to examine why.]


Previous "end times" post:  What Will the Rapture Be Like?

Next "end times" post: Where There Is Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth    

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