SOME KNOTTY QUESTIONS
By W. C. CLARKE
At a meeting of the Advent Testimony and Preparation Movement held in a certain part of the Island of Jamaica a paper was read to the assembled Ministers of Religion and Christian workers (prior to the public meeting) the subject being "Selective Rapture and Exclusion from the Kingdom." When the speaker had finished a very godly medical doctor, in charge of several churches, came up to him and said, "You made a very good case. I can accept Exclusion from the Kingdom but I am not so sure of Selective Rapture." Whether the doctor has since accepted it, the writer does not know - Now if entrance into the Kingdom is gained only by those who attain unto the Rapture of the First Fruits (which seems practically certain) the question of Selective Rapture is doubly serious, but if others, than the First Fruits, may gain the Kingdom, then, of the two, the question of Exclusion is the most important. In that case those believers will only gain entrance after passing through at least part of the Great Tribulation, but part only - longer or shorter as may be necessary to ripen the grain - as all believers must appear before the Bema, or Judgement Seat of Christ.*
[*See:"The Judgment Seat Of Christ Is Not a Refuge For Believers ..." on this website.]
It is quite conceivable that lukewarm Christians may be awakened into newness of life by the shock of the Advent [of the first rapture, (Luke 21: 34-36)], and being left behind, may begin to run the race for the Crown. It is certain that some tribulation saints will reign, as John "saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus and for the word of God and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands, and THEY lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years" (Rev. 20: 4). Whether these are born during the tribulation, or some of those left behind at the first Rapture is not stated; probably the latter, as the Tribulation may not last more than seven years. But why should any [regenerate] believer run the risk of not ultimately entering the Kingdom, or, if they do win it, only after having to endure the sorrows of the tribulation and being beheaded, when they may gain it in this life by patiently running the race, and forgetting those things which are behind, reaching forth unto those things which are before, and pressing toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus and so obtaining the crown and an abundant entrance?
The reluctance of many believers to accept these views is principally due to the fact that they have heard the opposite view since childhood and cannot bring their minds to think it possible that their parents and godly friends can possibly be mistaken. They start with minds made up, and will not be persuaded to study the subject without prejudice and let the Holy Spirit lead. The writer knows this to be true in his own experience, with regard to Believer's Baptism. Brought up to believe in Infant Baptism, when faced with the alternative at the immersion of his brother, he first made up his mind that Infant Baptism was scriptural, consulting clergy and reading books on that side of the question only, to prove he was right; until the Holy Spirit brought it to his mind that the right thing to do is not to make up one's mind and then to try to prove it; but rather to ask oneself honestly and without prejudice which is right: it took only a few minutes then to accept what he had fought against with might and main. So it probably is, in many cases, with regard to the questions of Selective Rapture and Exclusion from the Kingdom.
Beside the question of prejudice, there are certain key words - especially the word "Servant" - which are persistently wrongly criticized, because to construe them otherwise would militate against set views. It seems hard to conceive that anyone can consistently believe that in the parable of Matt. 24: 45-51 any but a believer is referred to. The Servant is designated "faithful and wise" and made ruler over his Lord's "household". Is it likely the Lord would so act in the care of an unbeliever? His being "cut asunder," if found "unfaithful" and appointed his position with the "hypocrite" can only be the loss of the kingdom, and not eternal loss. The casting the unprofitable servant, in the parable of the Talents, into outer darkness where there shall be "weeping and gnashing of teeth" is, to one class of expositors conclusive as referring to Gehenna; but why should not weeping and gnashing of teeth occur in places other than hell? *
term "gnashing of teeth" is mentioned
in quite another connection in Psalm 37: 12;
and the Jewish Council "gnashed with their teeth"
at Stephen - were they then in hell? The term "outer darkness" can only mean somewhere (to us
unknown) outside the bright shining
Eschatological teaching would be greatly simplified if we were able to take that - (the assumption that the Christian enters into his final glory at death) - for granted. Assuming that to be the final statement of truth, then it would disqualify several important Christian doctrines. The second advent of our Lord would be one of them. Why should it be necessary for Him to - "come again and receive you to myself," if His people go to Him in the final sense at death? The New Testament doctrine of the resurrection of the "worthy" dead, when the Lord shall so come, would be redundant if we were able to say of all the departed saints that "the resurrection is past already." It would not be the first time in the Christian era that such a disastrous thing has been taught (2 Tim. 2: 18).
Consider for a moment the evidence of this mistaken conception, in those well-known lines of Charles Wesley as follows: "Come, let us join our friends above, who have received the prize ... Let all the saints terrestrial sing with those to glory gone." Judge for yourself as to whether the perfect poet was also a perfect theologian, by an enquiry like this: is "the prize received" in the hymn, the same as the one anticipated by Paul in Phil. 3: 10-14 - "I press toward the mark, for the prize of the high calling, of God in Christ Jesus"? If so, then there would be this difference between Paul and Wesley - the former expected it in "the out-resurrection from the dead," which he sought diligently to attain, the latter at the time of his death. “It is one thing to sing: ‘Around the throne of God in heaven, thousands of children stand,’ but quite another thing to prove it from the Holy Scriptures." - (Joseph Ellison).