Well, the expiration stamp (as some have called it) on the world has come and gone, and we are still here. I did not really expect the Rapture of the church to occur May 21, 2011. I am not sure what Harold Camping used in his calculations, but they were not correct.
Jesus said that no one would know when He would return. It would have been ironic had He come on Saturday, as certainly, no one was expecting Him then…
However, there is another aspect of this issue that is relevant today. According to 2 Thessalonians 2:7: For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. When I was a child, it was taught that the ‘he’ in this verse was the Holy Spirit. This would be interpreted that when the Holy Spirit is taken out of the world, then lawlessness would increase, and according to the rest of this passage, the Antichrist would be revealed.
As I have studied, I do not believe that the ‘he’ refers to the Holy Spirit. There are many scriptures which state that there will be many people saved during the Tribulation period. No one, (according to scripture) can be saved unless the Holy Spirit draws him. So, the ‘he’ cannot be the Holy Spirit.
I believe that the ‘he’ in this passage refers to the Church. It is my belief and hope that the Church will be raptured before the Tribulation period. The rapture will happen before the Antichrist is revealed. Until the church is taken out, it is supposed to restrain lawlessness.
We see, if we look at the American church, that the church is pretty ineffective as a whole. It is not doing much to restrain lawlessness. In fact, the church is, (in some cases) pretty much condoning lawlessness: The family unit is not being the safe place of protection for families that God intended. The divorce rate in the church is equal to the divorce rate among non-church going people. The moral code of Christianity has certainly taken a hit. Some denominations are very relaxed in their codes of personal morality. The church is in a weakened state. Of course, this is the plan of satan.
- There is no God;
- the church is not relevant in today’s society;
- the clergy, (certainly some prominent ones) have been embarrassed on a national level.
Because of this, the Church is weak. I have heard more than one person say that compared to the church attendees, his personal morality is at a higher standard. Like it or not, the world at large knows that the church should look like, and when we fail, we do not draw men unto Him. (Matthew 5:15-17)
The church has been marginalized in today’s post modern society. In the early days of this nation, a person had to be a member in good standing in his local church in order to run for political office, to have a business, or to in any way influence his community. Today, there is a strong voice that says ‘separation of church and state,’ and this separation stifles the voice of the church. How can we restrain lawlessness if we do not participate in the process? Again, the public humiliation of church leaders weakens the position and voice of the church in public life.
Lastly, the perceived ineffectiveness of the church does little to attract outsiders. God meant for the church to be His agent of change in the earth. The Church is His body. He showed us what we needed to be/do by His life on the earth. He healed the sick, raised the dead, and met the financial needs of His community. He said that He came so that we could ‘have life, and that more abundantly.’
I look around at my community, and I see that the church has many opportunities to improve its standing. We are to show our communities the way forward. The church is to be the arm of Christ, and show that living in concert with divine principles brings abundant life. Living in agreement with divine principles restrains lawlessness.
This is one of the purposes of the church. As I have been looking at the calendar, I have been reassessing the role of the Church in the community, and my part in it. I ask that you take some time and do the same. Together we are the Body of Christ, and it is our job to season (Matthew 5:13) the earth; to restrain lawlessness.
Until next time,