Ready for the Rapture?
By Billie Marie Zal
During my life in Christ, I have often been puzzled by the many Scriptures that so obviously point to the fact that not every professing believer will be caught up at the Rapture.
This fact has come to me time and again, and as I have searched God’s Word I have received light that I would like to share with those of you who might have wondered as I did about these verses.
First of all, it is inconceivable that children of God should continue (after their declaration of salvation) to live in a manner that makes them unworthy to be caught up by the Bridegroom and seated at the marriage feast. We have all the reasons we need to be ready. We are bought by Him, so we are His possession. We are cleansed by Him from the guilt of sin (and saved from its penalty) and so we owe Him unquestioning obedience. And we are capable of becoming sanctified by the ever present Comforter, the Holy spirit, if we agree to leave off self and follow Him.
But in Matthew 25, beginning with verse 1, it would seem that even with all these things in our favor, still there are those who profess to know Him (and fervently believe that they do) and yet are not going to make it. For we read, “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them; But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight, there was a cry made, Behold the bridegroom cometh; go out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage; and the door was shut. Afterward came also in the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of man cometh.”
I cannot remember in all my Christian life ever hearing this passage expounded, and so I do not draw from any human teaching on this Scripture, but rather upon the light that I received
from the One who said in His Word, “if any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth liberally…” In receiving my answers from God, I discovered that this passage does not tell us that it takes more than just going out and getting what believers call a “salvation experience” in order to be raptured. It takes more than going out and witnessing and telling others of our experience in order to be raptured. It takes more than attending meetings all week long and getting involved in organizational matters of the denomination in order to be raptured. In other words, it takes a down to earth, yet heavenly walk with God, moment by moment, step by step without the least giving in to the flesh life which extinguishes the oil of God’s Holy Spirit, which is our life.
I am so aware of how easily we can fall into the snare which the foolish virgins fell into. Notice how the Scriptures say that the foolish ones were definitely virgins. Virgins denote purity, and these virgins had declared themselves to be pure and ready for the Bridegroom when He called. In today’s religious society these virgins would be those who have claimed the Lord as their Savior and who declare that they are believers in Him and members of His Body, thus being virgins.
But the foolish virgins had their lamps but no oil. They took their position lightly. They had become careless and things had come in the way of their love for the Bridegroom.
Right here we can stop and meditate upon the fact that we can indeed be professing Christians and have no oil. So many things can come in the way and separate us from the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. In Luke 14, verse 17, when the man sent his servants to invite individuals for the great feast at his house, there were three separate excuses for those who did not come. One said, “I have bought a piece of land, and I must needs go and see it;” The second said, “I have bought five yoke of oxen and I go to prove them;” And the third said, “I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.”
These excuses are pretty well categorized. Either we have become too entangled in property affairs which has taken first place in our thoughts and activities; or we have become too much involved in business deals, like the man who wanted to raise a herd of oxen for profit; or else we have too much natural attachment to a mate and God has become second to that person in our lives.
Now in no way does God ever intimate that we are not to have property or businesses or families. So many of His children have these things and we would have to go out of this world to avoid contacts. But it is what we do with these possessions that determine our place with the Lord.
I remember, soon after being born into God’s family, wanting so desperately to have a definite dwelling place. I wanted to put down my roots and would have remained “planted” in one place had it been possible. God would not have it so; He knew me so well and planned a
sort of nomad existence, moving me about as He willed. As I perceived what He was about I decided that He knew best. What He was doing was to create character in my life and this was more important than giving in to my need to “settle down.” In time it did not really matter anymore if I put my roots down. Actually, I had finally put them down once and for all, for I was rooted in Christ. Where He sent me, I went joyfully, for He was there. That was all that mattered.
Then there is the category of the business deals. In this matter God also led me through many paths to disentangle me from the security that good business deals provide. When He saved me, I was an executive secretary for a very successful man in Chicago. It was a lucrative position with so much promise. And what did my heavenly Father do? He called me to leave my profession, to wait on Him, and to trust Him to provide all my needs. I shall never forget the sheer mental agony that such a decision brought. I was thought to be insane by some, and my own mind doubted myself! But praise God I did not listen to my mind. I listened to the voice of my Lord (and who can mistake that Voice, once it is heard and obeyed?). With much fear and trembling I embarked on my new career - a career of just waiting on God to open up His path for me day by day, and to expect the miracle of provision.
It would take a book to describe such a path. It was so difficult, and yet so blessed. My mind would often get in the way, and with an effort of the will I would follow Him anyhow. I should not have worried, for in obedience came the sweetest and loveliest communion that one can ever know this side of heaven. A whole new life opened up to me - a life of service to Him who loved me and gave Himself for me. And my career that had seemed so grand and promising became tarnished and dim in the light of such loving fellowship with the Holy Spirit. My lamp was filled with oil. I was ready for His Voice and the great marriage supper.
In the third category of things that get in the way of our getting the needed oil for our lamp, I was to be schooled rigidly. This matter of having a mate (and family) had always appealed to me. I had never thought anything would be more wonderful than getting married and living happily ever after. God again took great steps to discipline me in my affections. I was taught of Him, that man is only a man. No man can ever be what God is. No human love can ever compare to divine love. And if we are to have a mate, we are to recognize the vast difference and accept it. Then all of our loves - not only for a husband but for a child - will be placed in their proper perspective. I can say with all joy that no husband, and no child, and no friend can ever be to me what God is. There is a song that I often sing entitled “No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus,” and the line that I like best reads, “No one else could take the sin and darkness from me. . . oh, how much He cares for me.” No man except the Man Christ could take the sin and darkness out of my life. And I owe Him my allegiance above anyone else.
I do not mean to imply here that I have forsaken my family. How far from the truth this is! My family is even more dear to me because of my deep love for Jesus Christ. This in itself
is a bonus. But on the other hand, Christ reigns. And so my lamp is filled will oil and I await with ever increasing desire the coming of the Bridegroom.
In summing up the parable of the ten virgins, we can be so thankful that not all ten were foolish. At least five of them were ready. During the long, dark, seemingly endless night, five chose to believe that He would come, no matter how long the delay. They were prepared. The oil was there so that the light would reveal Him whom they adored.
And when the Voice came, they could not be hindered by the five who had lived carelessly and begged them to share their oil. Their natural sympathy did not make them hesitate. This would indicate that there is no “last moment” change over, if we have lived a shabby, slipshod life while proclaiming that we belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. The foolish virgins were not prepared to receive any oil at the last moment. And so they missed out.
I do not believe in “frightening people into the kingdom of God.” But I will say this: a little healthy fear right now on the part of those who claim to know God might just be a start in the right direction. If the Church, which is the Body of Christ, is to be raptured it is not going to be a dirty Church, and from the looks of things there are a lot of dirty linens in the professing body today.
There are those of you who take a chance and wait a little longer to forgive when forgiveness should be now, at this very moment. There are those of you who wait a little longer to give up some foolish, carnal relationship or habit, when it could be given up now, at this moment. There are those of you who refuse to leave that object of affection that has entangled you in emotional turmoil and wait a little longer, when you can leave it now, at this moment.
I wonder if anyone else has noticed this, but it seems to me that not a week goes by where we do not see some program on television about the end of the world, or some other catastrophic event that destroys at least part of the planet. Half the movies at the video store are about physic events or some catastrophic destruction. What is going on?
We chose this message that Billie wrote because it’s important for all of us to think on this subject without a lot of confusing talk of catastrophic events. The earth seems to me to be suffering the beginning of God’s wrath.
But we must remember that if we have given ourselves to God, and live for Him, then the Word teaches “For God hath not appointed us to wrath but to obtain salvation by our
Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9). We will be “caught up” before all the wrath of God is poured out on the earth. And that’s a good thing and should put our hearts at rest, if we know Jesus as our Savior and Lord.
If I did not believe in the rapture of the Church today’s news events would cause me a lot of fear and anxiety. The Church is not any special denomination or people that follow certain traditions. The meaning of “Church” is a people who belong to God.
The Word is so simple. I don’t understand why there is so much confusion. 1st Thessalonians 4:13-18 couldn’t be more clear. I won’t quote it all, but it tells us not to be ignorant concerning all this; not to grieve like those who have no hope. Starting at verse 16 - “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the arch angel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore, comfort one another with these words.”
God has not changed. He is the same today that He was in the Old Testament times. He picked Elijah up in a chariot of fire and took him to glory in a whirlwind (2 Kings 2:11). Elijah was then in heaven with the Son of God for many, many years, and he had to have known all about the plan that God had for saving mankind.
So when the Son of God became man and walked among humanity, and the time came for His suffering and crucifixion, Jesus had no one on earth who understood what was about to happen. He needed to talk to His old friends and get comfort from them. So God sent Moses and Elijah down to a mountain to meet with our Lord.
That must have been something! The disciples wanted to stay there. They felt much peace and joy. But God lifted Elijah and Moses back up into a cloud. So the rapture is not such a far fetched happening as some might think.
Like I said before, God has not changed. What He did then He can do again. We are to comfort each other with this blessed hope. And should we still be here at His coming we will be caught up into the clouds with Him, before the wrath of God’s judgment is poured out on the earth.
Barney in the gorge after the rains in April
For those of you who never get to see a tree, this is our forest
In Memory of John Boltz Born July 30, 1931 Executed by the State of Oklahoma on June 1, 2006
John spent over 22 years on death row at McAlester, Oklahoma. He had been with us for over twenty years. He had been in the ministry himself many years prior to coming to prison, and Billie thought a lot of him. They corresponded often. John loved all of us and wished to be here in Northwest Arkansas. His hope was to some day build a little Church here.
John fought hard to save his life. Throughout many appeals, and ups and downs, he was always positive and believed that no matter what, the next appeal would work. Today he is happy that his appeals were turned down because a new world opened up to him, and his friend Billie was waiting.
According to his wishes, John will be cremated and buried here on Baca Mountain. We will make his resting place beautiful. Prayer Requests for June, 2006
For Tommy Hayes and everyone at the Estelle Unit at Huntsville, Texas.
For Ted Ricks at McAlester, Oklahoma, to be transferred to Lexington, Ok.
For Willie Scott at Pine Bluff, Arkansas, for clemency from the parole board.
For Clay Huff, Angola, Louisiana, “for his faith to remain strong so that he can continue to lay claim to that which is promised.”
For Robert Heffernan at Brickeys, Arkansas, for an attorney and for DNA testing.
For Tommy Hayes & his family. Tommy is at Huntsville, Texas.
For the Relatives of Juan Cervantes, McAlester, Oklahoma, that they come to accept Christ.
For Karen Griffin at McCloud, Oklahoma, for strength to battle her cancer. Our prayers for her parole were answered.
For Dennis Martin, Lawton,Oklahoma, that he will learn to read and write.
For David Painter’s Mother and Family. David is at Abilene, Texas.
For Bobby Linscome’s family. Bobby is at Iowa Park, Texas.
For David Painter, Abilene, Texas, that he gets to a halfway house soon.
For Jerry Crocket, Wanette, Oklahoma, who just discharged from prison, that he does well with his ministry to prisoners.
For Brother Peanut’s friend at Iowa Park, Texas, for his spiritual life.
For Juan Cervantes at McAlester, Oklahoma, for a good job at the prison.
For Sister Ann and the nuns in Little Rock.
For all of us at Wingspread, for our continued good health and strength.
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