A Glorious Call; a Grand Plan!
The Glory of God must be the Church’s Priority
There is a higher vision than early rapture for the Church as we approach the end of this age, and that is the plan of God for His Church that will demonstrate His wisdom in the sight of all creation to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. That plan demands that the Church rise to the full stature that Jesus provided for by the shedding of His priceless blood. This is not about us but about Him. The motives of our desperately wicked, fleshly hearts are always self-serving. We must be given new spiritual hearts. The humanism which has often seeped into our motives must be thrown out and replaced with a love for the glory of God. The motive of our new hearts will be for the glory of God and that the Lamb may receive His just reward for the price He has paid to redeem us. The Church of Jesus Christ was created to glorify and please her Creator.
"Father, lead us in the ways that will please Your heart."
God Created All Things in Order that . . .
When we seek out the eternal plan of God for His Church, no more revealing and awesome Scriptures can be found than Ephesians 3:8-12. In these amazing verses God reveals that He created all things in order to demonstrate His wisdom through the Church to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. He will be glorified through and before His creation.
To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, WHO CREATED ALL THINGS; IN ORDER THAT the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known THROUGH THE CHURCH to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. THIS WAS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE ETERNAL PURPOSE WHICH HE CARRIED OUT IN CHRIST JESUS OUR LORD, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him (Ephesians 3:8-12).
We believe that God created all things. But have we ever considered that He did so with the specific intent of demonstrating His wisdom through the Church to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places? That should prostrate us on our faces in awe. How is the Church going to do that? Has the Church already finished the demonstration of God’s wisdom or is there yet a glorious future fulfillment?
What is the fullness of the eternal purpose spoken of here to be carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord? It is much more than to redeem fallen man for his own sake. Important as that might seem to us, Ephesians 3:8-12 suggests that the redemption of man serves a much higher purpose which has as its final end the glory of God.
Jesus Appeared for what Purpose?
The Son of God appeared for THIS purpose, that He might destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).
This would seem to be the main aspect of the eternal purpose carried out in Christ Jesus in which the redemption of man serves in a supporting role. We were created to assist in destroying the works of the devil. We must be cautious in placing priorities on God’s plans, but the Bible suggests that the Church’s primary purpose on earth has to do with destroying the works of the devil. Ultimately that will glorify the Father in that His wisdom will be demonstrated through the Church before all creation.
The question continually arises as to why God has allowed evil to flourish on the earth when He could have easily wiped it out at any time. God is more powerful than Satan. It’s no contest. So why this delay? Jesus legally overcame Satan on the cross as a man in order that man could gain the victory over Satan! Scripture reveals that the eternal purpose of God, which He carried out in Christ Jesus, is to demonstrate His wisdom through the Church to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. Man gave authority over the earth away through his sin. Man has gained that authority back through the righteous sacrifice of Jesus. 1 Corinthians 1:18-25 defines the wisdom of God as the cross of Jesus Christ. That demonstration of God’s wisdom was first modeled by how His Son lived and died while here on earth. The Bible indicates that the wisdom of God, as the cross of Jesus Christ, demonstrated first through His Son two thousand years ago, will again be demonstrated through the corporate body of His Son at the end of this age.
We must understand that God has elected to use His Church to defeat Satan. He has left evil on the earth for the Church to overcome. God sent Jesus to destroy the works of the devil by redeeming a people who would, in the power and authority of His name, defeat Satan by His blood, by the word of their testimony, and by loving not their lives unto death (Revelation 12:11). That is the wisdom of the cross that God will demonstrate through the Church to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This is the glorious calling the Church must embrace. God will be glorified by His Church on earth through the process of the Church defeating Satan by the wisdom of the cross, and we must understand this as our primary earthly calling and the very reason for which we were created. Making disciples of all nations is part of that calling. However, making disciples of all nations is not for the sake of the nations, it is for the glory of God and for the Lamb Who will receive the full reward for the price He has paid.
It is questionable how much of God’s wisdom of the cross the Church has demonstrated to date. There have always been individual saints and groups of saints throughout the age who have risen to this calling, but the Church-at-large cannot facilitate the fullness of that demonstration until she becomes corporately more like Jesus. She will become corporately more like Jesus when Jesus lives more corporately through her. Scripture indicates that it is not until the Spirit is poured out in fullness during the last three and one-half years of the age that the Church corporately is lifted up by grace to the level needed to fulfill this ultimate calling.
A Glorious Call; A Grand Plan!
I believe the Holy Spirit is saying that during the last three and one-half years of this age a portion of the Church will walk on earth as Jesus walked . Even as Jesus’ time of public ministry in the power and authority of the fullness of the Holy Spirit was three and one-half years, so Scripture indicates that the Church will walk in the fullness of His power and authority for that identical length of time. Many in this last-days Church will be called to lay down their lives even as He laid down His life. This will be their path to victory, for it is the Church’s destiny to overcome Satan by the Blood of the Lamb, the word of her testimony, and by loving not her life unto death. This is dramatically demonstrated by the victorious life, death, and resurrection of the Lord’s two witnesses of Revelation Chapter 11.
Scripture is clear that a large portion of the Church will be on earth during the last three and one-half years of this age, specifically to engage the enemy of our souls in the great final battle between light and darkness. The great tribulation of the last three and one-half years is the final and deciding battle of the ongoing war between Satan and the saints. If Satan can get the Church confused on this issue, he will have won half of the final battle before it begins. Many who are called to be faithful soldiers in the end-times army of God will be in danger of falling away because they will be confused and shaken when they find themselves in the midst of a war they never expected. Now is the time of our spiritual bootcamp. We must be preparing now. We must acquire vision and understanding of our glorious and victorious calling.
The Church was Created for this Most Crucial of Times
It is during this most crucial of times that the final and deciding battle in the war between good and evil will be waged. It makes no sense to think that the Church will not be around for this final battle, when it is for this final battle that the Church was created. To miss this point is to miss the very reason why God created His Church! But we have missed it and have catered to more comfortable agendas while setting aside the eternal purposes of God. We have established doctrinal positions which ignore the plain and simple truth of the Bible.
Satan will be delighted when many fall away during great tribulation because they are unprepared and faithless, having taken as their spiritual food doctrines which have no place for such a scenario.
What we decide by vote is not doctrinal truth. God will do what He said He would do, and in the process He will be glorified through His Church. The question for each of us is which side will we choose? There are two sides and two eternal destinies. We must choose wisely and be willing to pay the price. The path to victory is the path that Jesus walked by way of the cross.
Overcomers by Being Overcome
Scripture indicates that the Church will be victorious and will crush Satan underfoot.
And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet (Romans 16:20).
However, Scripture further indicates that the path to victory will be by the Church allowing herself to be physically overcome, even as Jesus allowed Himself to be physically overcome on the cross. We will find that the book of Daniel portrays the saints as being victorious and receiving the Kingdom for eternity, but clearly through the process of being physically overcome. This seeming paradox of overcoming by being overcome is the essence of the mystery of the cross.
God Is Going to Do It Again!
It seems as if God is going to do it again! He has already once demonstrated His wisdom of the cross through His Son. He is going to demonstrate His wisdom of the cross again through the corporate body of His Son. Such is the reason for which the Church, and all other things as well, were created. This is the eternal purpose which He chose to carry out in Christ Jesus our Lord. It is the reason why Jesus came as a man to die on the cross.
Perhaps we can now understand more clearly why Jesus rejoiced when He envisioned Satan falling like lightning from heaven. He had just seen His fledgling Church demonstrate the day of small beginnings in His Father’s ultimate plan to crush Satan underfoot. No wonder Jesus rejoiced. His purpose in coming was to defeat the works of Satan, and He was seeing the beginning of the working out of that perfect plan. The Son’s heart was thrilled, for He surely sensed the good pleasure of His Father.
And He said to them, "I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven." At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, "I praise Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou didst hide these things from the wise and intelligent and didst reveal them to babes. Yes, Father, for thus it was well-pleasing in Thy sight" (Luke 10:18-21).
The Church’s Calling is to Fulfill this Destiny While on Earth
A Church-majority, pre-tribulation rapture does not fit into this scenario. It is a great multitude that no one could count who are identified in Revelation Chapter 7 as emerging victoriously from great tribulation. It is through the Church on earth that God will demonstrate His wisdom to the devil and his angels. Satan has tried and continues to try to distort this truth for his own purposes.
We need to seek God’s purposes for our lives and understand the reason for which we, who are alive at the end of this age, were created. Perhaps we were created for such a time as this. We were created to be overcomers, conformed to the likeness of Jesus while crushing Satan underfoot by the wisdom of the cross. Let us seek not only to understand but to embrace the purposes of God for His Church at the end of this age.
Not When but Why?
Although rapture timing is a hot issue in current end-times Christian literature, our primary concern at the end of this age is not whether the rapture will be pre-tribulation, post-tribulation, mid-tribulation, pan-tribulation, or pre-wrath. Our concern should be how God will maximize His glory through His Church brought to full stature in His Son. If the Church’s presence on earth at the end of the age is involved in that glorification, then the Church should expect and desire to be here. God has established His Church and her destiny on earth in accordance with His eternal purpose, which is to demonstrate His wisdom through her to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This is the foundational truth on which our end-times doctrine regarding the Church should rest.
"Father, let this understanding sink deep into our spirits and ignite the revelation of Your individual calling for each of us. Lead us on to victory in the power and authority of Jesus’ name to Your everlasting Glory! May we glorify You by our lives and deaths in the outworking of Your eternal plan. Father, have Your way with us, vessels of clay astonishingly designed to glorify You by allowing the demonstration of Your wisdom of the cross through us."