AM I RIPE FOR REAPING?

A QUESTION EVERY REGENERATE BELIEVER SHOULD ASK OF HIM/HERSELF.*

[*Note.  This tract is based on the writings of D. M. Panton.  All scripture quotations are from the Revised Version.]

In dealing with the harvest ingatherings of souls unto Godís holy presence, before, after, and at the end of the great tribulation, we do well to keep before us the typical parallel of the natural harvests in Israel and the use which the Lord made of them.  Each annual harvest season was celebrated in three ways - First, "the first of the first-fruits" (Ex. 23: 19), ingathering, consisting of a bunch of ripe grain-forms tied in a bunch, and waved as a "hallel" before the Lord.  That is a lovely type of our Lordís resurrection, waved as the first begotten "[out] from the dead," (Mark 9: 10)* and waved too, on the anniversary day of this typical event.  Then fifty days later (Lev. 23: 15, 16), there was a second harvest ingathering, also called the "first fruits," when sufficient grain was ripe to gather, mill, sift, and bake with leaven into two loaves.  These loaves, like the wave sheaf, were also "waved" before the Lord, as a hallel of thanksgiving for coming harvest.  And such is the type of the first fruits of the Holy Spirit known as "the bride" or the "church of the firstborn" (Heb. 12: 23)] who will be translated [or rapt] into heaven before the tribulation begins; these are those who are described as being arrayed in "fine linen, bright and pure: for the fine linen is the righteous acts of saints" (Rev. 19: 8), and who will "prevail to escape all these things [the tribulation events] that shall come to pass," (Luke 21: 36).

[* The difficulties which caused "questioning" amongst Peter, James and John, after seeing the "vision" (Matt. 17: 9) on top of the Mount, are the same difficulties which confront and cause questioning amongst disciples of Christ today: they have never heard any teaching of a select resurrection: "Out from the dead."]

At the end of the great tribulation, when Christ descends from heaven to establish His millennial kingdom, He will also raise up the other loaf from amongst the dead in Hades who will have been judged by Him [before death] to "attain" - that is, as defined: "to gain by effort" - "unto the resurrection [out] from the dead" (Phil. 3: 11 cf. Heb. 11: 35), and who have "fallen asleep in Jesus," together with those "who are left unto the coming of the Lord," (1Thess. 4: 15).

Both loaves will be mixed and international in make up. There will be leaven in them on the presentation day, and yet acceptable to our Lord as "worthy" for reigning with Him in "the kingdom of Christ and of God," (Eph. 5: 5).

Finally, there was a typical harvest in Israel, when the total harvest was ripe, and the vintage complete. This was celebrated in "the feast of tabernacles", and was one of the longest and happiest festivals of Israel, and rightly so.*  Its counterpart will take place, when the international multitude which no man can number, will be harvested from this earth and from under it in "Hades" and gathered before "a great white throne" (Rev. 20: 11, 13) - the throne of God - whose names, it is inferred, will be found written in "the book of life" (Rev 20: 15).

[* Note. The feast of tabernacles is also typical of the thousand year reign of Christ with His saints, (Rev. 20: 4-6).]

Owing to the absence of knowledge concerning the time period of tribulation prophecy, the disbelief today amongst Christians concerning the millennium, a lack of teaching about the intermediate state and place of the dead, and false teaching concerning the time of the "first resurrection;" Christians today cannot see or comprehend many of the conditional promises of God which are addressed to His redeemed people; and the severe warnings of future punishment and loss for disobedient and "wicked" servants are conveniently and mistakenly passed on to the unregenerate, false professors, or Israel.  For instance, before the tribulation there are saints, enraptured into the presence of Christ, (Rev. 3: 10). Then, at the end of the tribulation, there are a multitude of blood-washed souls and martyrs caught up to stand before the throne of God, (Rev. 6: 11; 20: 4). There is also a more limited company of redeemed ones named in Rev. 14: 1-5.  This is followed by "the harvest of the earth", which The Son of Man reaps in chapter 14: 14.  And yet, again, in Rev. 15: 2 there is a special martyr group, "that came victorious from the beast, and from his image, and from the number of his name."

Finally, - [a thousand years beyond all these separate groups of glorified saints, there is yet another great ingathering of un-named saints, * who lost "the prize" (Phil. 3:14) but received by faith "the free gift of God" (Rom. 6: 23), and who enter "a new heaven and a new earth," (Rev. 21: 1).] - there are the unripe ones; those sad redeemed souls who have disobeyed the precepts of Christ, resisted the urge of the Holy Spirit; whose will has not bent before Him.  To such we would lovingly recall the words of our dear Redeemer in Rev. 3: 18, 19: "I counsel thee to buy of me gold refined by fire, that thou mayest become rich; and white garments, that thou mayest clothe thyself, and that the shame of thy nakedness be not made manifest; and eye salve to anoint thine eyes, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I reprove and chasen: be zealous therefore and repent." And again: "Watch ye at every season, making supplication, that ye may prevail to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man," (Luke 21: 36). Open the door of your heart widely to Him as He knocks once again, and asks to be admitted to the throne of your being, (Rev. 3: 3, 20).  Only as He is sovereign Lord can we find grace to "prevail to escape".  The darkness thickens, the fire increases, the wickedness grows, the tares mature; BUT THE GRAIN MUST RIPEN ALSO: through rain and sun, storm and heat, to glorious harvest, increase and fullness on every hand, to His glory at His appearing and also before the "great white throne", (Rev. 20: 11).

[*"Saints" (1 Cor. 1: 2) are sinners saved by grace of God through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore all works after regeneration, whether good or evil, have no bearing on what all the regenerate will receive as a "free gift" (Rom. 6: 23). Reformed theology would teach the contrary - that good works must always accompany regeneration, in order to show genuine discipleship! Such was not the case at Corinth where "saints" came behind in no spiritual gift, and were described by Paul as "carnal" and "babes in Christ" and fit for feeding only "with milk, not with meat," (1 Cor. 3: 1, 2). These "saints" were living an immoral lifestyle: "It is actually reported that there is fornication among YOU ..." (1 Cor. 5: 1). "Dare any of YOU ..." (6: 1). "Or know YE not that the unrighteous [saints] shall not inherit the kingdom of God?" (6: 9)]

"When the fruit is ripe, STRAIGHTWAY he putteth forth the sickle ..." (Mark 4: 29).

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