Start With Why
Several years ago, motivational speaker and author Simon Sinek came out with a book titled, Start With Why. It not only heralds the qualities of what makes a good leader, good but also why some businesses in the same market succeed, while others fail. He likens a lot of his philosophy to the more primal response of our nature to know why things are, rather than just what they are or what they do. In his famous golden circle diagram (imagine a bullseye with why at the center, and how, and what in the outer concentric rings), he shows you, rather effectively I might add, why Apple is the business it is today, and other smartphone makers, are not.
Why something is, is often the most important question there is. But why can also be a risky proposition, especially if those making the decisions don't want you to know the why. Here in America where we are supposed to be the land of free speech and protected civil liberties, asking why has increasingly come at a cost. Asking why has gotten (and is getting) journalists de-platformed from their news outlets. Asking why has gotten lawyers disbarred. Asking why has gotten civilians kicked off of social media. Asking why is getting people tossed in jail and costing them their livelihoods. However, there are still a few honest journalists out there who ask why does so very effectively.
While asking our leaders to explain why they are doing what they're doing with our tax dollars is part of our civic duties, their responses (political doublespeak), is often non-sensical and incoherent responses making it an increasingly pointless endeavor. If you want an example of doublespeak, just listen to every word that comes out of Press Secretary Jen Psaki's mouth, and the mouths of literally every single Democrat and establishment RINO politician both past and present. You know it's doublespeak because no matter what they say, their definition defies the reality on the ground. For instance:
Why are they so concerned with protecting Ukraine's borders, but not our own?
Why are they torpedoing our energy-producing capabilities, only to prop up Russia and Venezuela?
Why would they give non-tax-paying illegal immigrants over $400K each, when we can't even do that for our own worthy citizens?
Why would they promote patently false historical narratives disguised as academia, which would knowingly increasingly racial division and strife?
Why would they promote absurd and unnatural lifestyles knowing they increase the clear physical risks, insanely high suicide rates, and disruptive and destructive lifestyles?
Literally, I could make a whole page of questions like this but I think we already know the answer to these. The answer is that when a nation turns its back on God, He gives them over to a debased mind and they are no longer able to reason rightly. They are no longer governed by the God-given common sense He instills in all humans, but are increasingly fueling their logic through emotions and subjective reasoning. We would call it the "Romans 1" effect, and it is one of the most terrifying forms of judgment.
In the grander scheme of things, this is also how God said the end would be. Men would be lovers of themselves; society would become increasingly lawless, and the love of many would grow cold. Even the Church in the last days would not go unscathed. The Bible is replete with warnings against those professing Christians within greater Christendom who would turn their itching ears to teachers who told them what they wanted to hear.
Jesus warned against churches that quit watching for His return (Sardis- Rev. 3:3) as well as those who had become lukewarm in their faith (Laodicea). Likewise, both Peter and Jude taught that false prophets and teachers would creep into the churches planting their tares amongst the wheat. These were they who were like wandering stars, empty clouds, and twice dead trees. Paul called them ravenous wolves who, given the opportunity, would spare none of the flock. All of them destroy with their poisonous words and philosophies that destroy not just the life, but the soul as well.
Why something is, is really the meat of the matter. Why drives home the point, the essence, the motivation, or the reason for what was, what is, and what will be. In context to this article, why a church or denomination teaches what they teach, actually matters. I have always been of the persuasion that the biblical doctrine of eschatology is of the utmost importance. Because if you don't know how things conclude, your interpretation of how things got there is likely tainting everything else you believe.
For example, the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) does not teach or hold to the true and biblical eschatology of pre-millennialism. Instead, they have replaced it with Augustinian Amillennialism. Thus, instead of waiting on the "Kingdom Come" Jesus will one day bring, they believe they are the "Kingdom Now." Since they think they are the kingdom now, their kingdom needs an earthly ruler who must rule in the place of Christ, hence the Pope's title as the vicar of Christ. IOW, he (the pope) rules vicariously for Christ in His earthly absence. This monumental eschatological error drives all the other lunacy we've seen them do for the past 1,500 years (Crusades, Inquisitions, Purgatory, Indulgences, etc.). Their false eschatological worldview is why the RCC is the way it is.
Knowing when the Lord is going to return, for example, is of far less importance than knowing why He must return. If the why was arbitrary, then so could the when. But since the why isn't arbitrary, neither can be the when. The bible already gives us all of the specifics regarding the five 'w's' of Christ's taking up (the Rapture) of the Church.
Who (gets raptured): The corporately-singular, born-again, universal body of believers known as the Church (1 Thess. 4:13-18)
What (is the rapture): The Rapture, or 'catching up' (Harpazo-Greek) is the physical taking-up of both the living believers as well as the resurrected bodies of those deceased brethren, where we will meet Christ in the air, and go to be with Him forevermore. (1 Cor. 15:51-55)
When: At a moment in time known only to God the Father. However, Scripture tells although we can't know the day or hour, we can and should know the season. More specifically, the time is when the fullness of the Gentiles is complete (Matt. 24:36, 1 Thess. 5:1-2, Heb. 10:25, Rev. 3:3, Romans 11:25)
Where: Believers are removed from the entire face of the earth (Rev. 3:10)
Why: First, because we cannot go to where He is in our mortal bodies. Second, because the Church is not destined to wrath (and the 70th Week is God's wrath being poured out on a Christ-rejecting world). Lastly and most importantly, because Christ died, was buried, and rose again so the Church could exist to live with Him forever. (John 14:1-3, 1 Thess. 1:10, 5:9, Acts 20:28)
When we understand the significance of why Christ left the glories and majesties of heaven in the first place, then we can know with great assuredness that this reality we are in now will not last forever. Christ loves the Church and died for her, and longs to be with her.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. Ephesians 5:25-27 (my emphasis)
This question of why is of infinite importance because in knowing God's infinite love for us, we can know that He too longs for us to be with Him in that perfected, glorified state. Although our world seems at the present, to be the real reality, it is but a passing moment on the timeline of eternity. The real permanent reality is one in which we will dwell with Him forever. After all, isn't that why He created us? He created us for eternal fellowship and communion with Himself.
That is why He put Adam and Eve in the perfect environmental conditions and gave them one simple rule to follow. His intent was that by following His program, they would have exercised free will and remained in a perpetual state of innocence before Him forever. But they sinned, mankind fell, and we have been separated from Him ever since until Christ came to bridge the gap between fallen man and a wholly righteous God. And knowing the answer to this most important of questions also happens to answer the when we are so desperately seeking. The Apostles Peter and Paul both answer this for us.
But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack (intentionally delaying) concerning His promise, as some count slackness (slowness), but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:8-9 (BLB Lexicon)
Had the Lord returned earlier, many of us would have either never been born or we might already be in hell depending on how long we took to come to a saving knowledge of the Lord. So we should be grateful for the Lord's longsuffering. God's attributes are perfect in every way, which means, just as they are perfectly longsuffering, so are they perfectly just. For that same reason, His longsuffering towards His creation cannot remain indefinite. Evil and wickedness must be judged or else His longsuffering is no longer perfect, but cruel. Wickedness will not be given a free pass for much longer. Paul clarifies and gives us the conclusion of this longsuffering -
For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. Romans 11:25 (my emphasis)
There is either a specific number of Gentiles or a specific percentage from the table of nations that must come to salvation before God executes His preordained judgment upon the world. The latter definition certainly coincides more with our Lord's final guidance to the disciples shortly before His ascension.
But the eleven disciples proceeded to Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had designated to them. And when they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20 (Emphasis mine)
For these last two thousand years, believers of all ethnicities, cultures, languages, and ages have been asking....when. When is the Lord going to return? And their questions remained unanswered as their generations came and went. So wouldn't you know it? In the last generation, the world had advanced mass communications opening up the world wide web, for the gospel to go out. Furthermore, the whole world, by way of colonialism, wars, globalized commerce, and travel, has largely adopted one language as the universal language - English.
The Lord told us in his Parable of the Wedding Feast that the Kingdom of Heaven was like a King who sent out His servants to invite as many who would come, to come. Instead, they were beaten and killed The King then sent His Son, who also was beaten and killed. This angered the King and He who then closed the invitation to those invited guests and sent His servants into the highways and byways and began inviting any who would come, to come. And many came, and are still coming because our Lord is longsuffering that none should perish.
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." John 14:1-3
But there will come a day when this Wedding Party reaches full capacity, and those doors will shut just as it did with the Ark. Those who lacked the oil in their lamps, or were not properly dressed to attend, will be locked out and cast into outer darkness. These are they who will either die in their sins or missed the Rapture of the Church and enter into the darkest period of human history. Their options at this point will be to either die as a martyr or will receive the mark of the beast and be damned eternally. (Matt. 22:1-10, 25:1-13, Rev. 14:9-10)
We should thank God for even going so far as not to abandon even those who rejected and cursed themselves in the process of crucifying their own Messiah (Luke 23:34, Matt. 27:25). Because God is faithful, He cannot deny Himself of His faithfulness, not just to the unconditional promises He swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but to us as well that while we were still dead in our trespasses, He died for us. Just as God will complete the journey He began with Israel many thousands of years ago, so too will He not abandon us (His bride the Church) in our darkest hour. And why not you ask? Because Jesus said,
...and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Amen. Matt. 28:20
Even so, Maranatha!