Robert Belanger (30 March 2011)
"Re: Kevin Heckle on Salvation"

Kevin your message was addressed to me and I feel obligated to reply in defense of my beliefs. The following is my attempt to provide some essential information that you need to have to make sense out of my statements regarding the two-phase rapture.

 

First, we agree completely that salvation of the spirit is absolutely by grace alone -- works of any kind play no part in the salvation of the spirit of man. It depends only on the mercy of God. The Gospel of John (John 20:31) says man needs to believe, and nothing else, to be saved.

 

Then what is all of the fuss over works? Why would those who do not demonstrate their love and faithfulness after spirit salvation be left behind at the first fruits rapture/resurrection? As you stated, if belief is all that is required why do works enter into the discussion at all?

 

The teaching that any Christians might experience hardship or persecution is resisted by many Christians because they fail to understand the essential nature of salvation as it relates to spirit, soul and physical body. As stated in Scriptures such as John 20:31, Acts 16:31 and Romans 10:9 salvation of the eternal spirit of man is dependent only on belief in the heart and confession with the mouth that God has raised Jesus from the dead. “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:10)

 

I agree with you that the entire Church of believers will be raptured/resurrected based on their belief in the salvation offered by the death and resurrection of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. We differ only in how and when. In my belief of a two-phase rapture, supported by the Scriptures given below, the first part, just before the Tribulation, is called the Firstfruits rapture, while the remainder at the mid-point of the Tribulation is called the Main Harvest rapture.

 

We know that man has three distinct parts: spirit, soul and body. (1 Thess. 5:23, Heb. 4:12) The doctrine of Grace relates to the salvation of the spirit and is called justification or positional sanctification. A believer’s works relate to spiritual growth and maturity after spirit salvation, in what is called progressive sanctification, or salvation of the soul (not the spirit) (James 1:21, 1 Peter 4:19, Luke 21:36). Finally, the glorification of the body will take place at the rapture/resurrection and related to the transformation of the body from mortality to immortality (1Thess. 4:13-18, 1 Cor. 15:52-54)

 

The Firstfruits rapture/resurrection is a special entrance into heaven before the trials of the Tribulation begin for those who have been faithful and demonstrated Christian maturity during the course of their lives. (Luke 21:36, 2 Peter 1:10-11) Clearly, Luke 21:36 is addressed to the believers in the Church who should be watching for His return as mentioned also in Matthew’s Gospel. (Matt. 24:42)

 

The Christian section of the Olivet discourse in Matthew (Matt. 24:40-42) is addressed to believers who are instructed to be in a state of readiness for the rapture (it is not a warning to get saved, but an exhortation to be ready—unbelievers would not have any interest in getting ready for someone they did not believe in. The parable of the ten virgins is about the Church (not Israel which is pictured as an adulterous wife of God the Father in the book of Hosea (Hosea 2:2)). The foolish virgins are Christians who are not faithful nor mature in their walk of faith after their spiritual salvation. They will eventually enter the Kingdom but not until after refining in the first half of the Tribulation.

 

The verses above (1 Thess. 4:13-18 and 1 Cor. 15:52-54) refer to the Main Harvest rapture where the Greek word perileipo literally means to be left behind. Every believer will be removed from earth before the wrath of God falls on the earth, and faithfulness is not a requirement for the Main Harvest rapture at the Tribulation mid-point—only spiritual salvation by way of belief in Christ’s finished work at Calvary.

 

The Scriptures that support the Firstfruits rapture are found in the book of Revelation. In Rev. 3:8 and Rev. 3:10 we are told about the open door that is available to those who have Christian works in their lives. They are to be kept from the hour of temptation which will come upon all the world. The only way to avoid the hour of temptation upon all the world is to leave the world and go to heaven. Of course, John sees the fulfillment of the promise for escape in Rev. 4:1-2 when the door is opened in heaven.

 

In Revelation 4 and 5, there are two groups of people, both saved and with crowns and/or thrones. Clearly, all of the Christians have crowns. This does not mean all Christians because the Christians that make up the churches of Thyatira, (Jezebel and fornication and eating things sacrificed unto idols), Sardis (unwatching and with defiled garments) and Laodicia (lukewarm works) will go through the Tribulation (Rev. 2:22, Rev. 3:2 and Rev. 3:16).

The first half of the Tribulation is for the remaining Church not taken in the Firstfruits rapture not a time of punishment, but a time for refining and ripening into maturity. The Tribulation has nothing to do with earning salvation but rather in earning rewards or crowns in the Kingdom of heaven. They will then have the rewards needed to rule and reign in the Kingdom (Rev. 19:8).

If any of the above has stimulated an interest in knowing more, I recommend the book The Open Door by Lyn Mize, especially chapters 1, The Coming Rapture, and chapter 2, The Judgment Seat of Christ.

 

For now, hopefully we may agree to disagree and remain friends in Christ.

 

Robert