The Believer and the Future
There is no one who would dispute the fact that the future is gloomy. The pages of this magazine are not intended to be filled with matter that can be found in any newspaper, but whether we consider things locally or at large, nationally or internationally, the prospect for the world is not rosy. The believer is not of this world, however, and it is no marvel then that he has a different hope and a brighter future with the anticipation of glory.
Paul was not a pessimist, neither did he encourage those among whom he laboured, and to whom he wrote, to be pessimists. Everywhere in his writings he fostered the constant expectation of the return of the Lord.
Look at these words taken from Romans 5:9, “We shall be saved from wrath through Him.” They might be rendered into English more literally, “We shall be saved by Him from the wrath.” The emphasis is on the words, “By Him.” He, Christ, will take the necessary action to secure our salvation from the coming wrath. The wrath referred to here is not that of the Great White Throne, its judgment and its execution. It is rather that governmental and temporal wrath which is coming upon this godless world because of its initial and persistent rejection of God’s Son.
No one can read the Old Testament, or the synoptic Gospels, or the Book of The Revelation, without discovering most clearly stated the terrible times that await this world. Particularly will this be so for the Jews. God does not intend to allow His Son to remain unvindicated in the world in which he was so gravely dishonoured and put to death. He will miserably destroy during these terrible times those who are guilty. Such days of sorrow and tribulation there never will have been before, and although the Jew and Palestine will be the centre thereof, the repercussions will be worldwide. Nevertheless, the Lord Jesus will take such steps as to ensure that the Church which is His Body, the Bride which He loved and for which He gave Himself, the Redeemed of the Lord, will be saved by Him from the wrath.
Note in this verse 9 the two prepositions, “By” and “From.” The first suggests that He Himself, not an angel, will be the instrument or agent of our deliverance. “The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God,” (1 Thess. 4:16). Thus it will be accomplished “by Him.” He loves us so that He Himself will attend to this matter. Is it credible that the Good Shepherd Who gave His life for the sheep will leave them out in the field of this world to become victims of the relentless storm that is soon to break over it?
The second preposition is most interesting, “from.” I know that some have tried to make capital out of the fact that the preposition in 1 Thess. 1:10, is in the Greek “ek,” but this same preposition, “ek” is used of the chains falling from Peter’s hand and of Paul’s being delivered from the mouth of the lion. Did the chains fall out of Peter’s hands or merely from them? Was Paul actually in the lion’s mouth or did he escape it? No, we shall not be in the coming wrath, we shall be saved from it. No doubt the different preposition is used because of the different word which Paul uses. In Romans 5 he says, “We shall be saved,” while in 1 Thess. 1:10, he says, “Jesus is our Deliverer, or Rescuer.” Through both of these Scriptures it is surely apparent, beyond dispute, that the believer of the present dispensation will not be in that coming wrath; he will be taken away from earth before it comes.
This passage in Romans 5:9 is plain beyond doubt, and we should never allow a difficult or less plain passage of Scripture to upset our understanding of what is plain and indubitable.
There is a tendency in some quarters to teach believers that before the Lord comes to the air for His people the Great Tribulation must take place on earth, but without going into the various matters involved in this contention, the reader should pin his faith and hope on this one plain assuring statement of Paul, “We shall be saved by Him from the wrath.”
Perhaps the reader has some doubt as to whether this wrath is not that of the future Great Judgment Day. That cannot be, for in the very first verse of this chapter we are notified that the believer has been justified by faith and he has peace with God, and that he has an access into God’s holy presence. Could he be more secure? His standing is such as makes it perfectly plain that there is not the slightest liability of his appearing in the prisoner’s dock for judgment in the last Great Judgment Day, (See John 5:24). The wrath then of verse 9 cannot refer to that, consequently it must allude to something else. To what then does it allude? Plainly, the days of trouble that are yet to visit this earth, that time called in Scripture “The Great Tribulation.” So terrible will be the sufferings and the trials of those days that were they not shortened (that is delimitated to the last half of Daniel’s seventieth week) no flesh would be saved. Praise God, we shall be saved from it altogether, for we shall be kept out of the hour of trial that is to come on the habitable earth, (Rev. 3:10).
There will be on the earth in those days, of course, a godly remnant of which we cannot now speak particularly, but they will not form part of the Church. Some of these will lay their lives down in faithfulness to God. All of them will suffer persecution, privation, and cruelty. Even so, they will be able to utter with truth the fact, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear.” (Psa. 46:1-2).
It is essential for the believer, if he is to understand correctly what is his true and proper hope, to distinguish the dispensation, and also to make a clear distinction between the Church which is the Body of Christ and the godly remnant of Israel.
The space at our disposal does not admit of our dealing at length with the errors, as we judge, which are made by those who teach that the Church will pass through the days of the Great Tribulation, this we have endeavoured to do elsewhere.
The reader is strongly urged to pin his faith on this one plain statement and to repeat it to himself over and over again, “We shall be saved by Him from the wrath.” “We shall,” there is no doubt about it. “We shall be saved,” this must relate to the full consummation of our salvation, for our souls are already saved, it therefore must embrace also that of our bodies. “We shall be saved by Him,” our Lord Jesus Christ, the One Who will effect this salvation by His coming into the air, and by His calling us to meet Him there. He will not employ angels or any other to do this; He himself will do it. “We shall be saved by Him from the wrath,” that is to say, He will take us to be with Himself before He pours out the vials of His wrath on earth. “The sky not the grave is our goal.” The cloudless sapphire blue of heaven is before us, not the black clouds and the thunder and the lightning of the storm of divine wrath an earth.
Get hold of it, dear brother; repeat it over and over; pin your faith to it; tell your fellow believers who would teach otherwise that this is the plank on which the foot of your faith rests and from which it cannot be moved. Look for the Lord from heaven; do not wait for the troubles upon earth.
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“Keep Looking Up”