"I would not have you to be ignorant brethren concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not like them which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, them also which sleep in Jesus shall God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the arch-angel, and with the trump of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first."
"Then we which are
alive and remain, shall be caught up together with them in the
clouds, to meet the Lord in the air."
We believe this event classified as "the rapture" will take place in our generation. Nuclear war seems to be eminent. There may be peace treaties. Russia against America does not seem to be the threat right now, but who knows? Anything can happen in the world. Christians are expecting the Lord to come soon before the major cataclysm occurs If we know these things will take place, what manner of person ought we to be? We ought to be heaven-bound! We should always pray that "Lord let me not be in error; Let me not sway to the right nor to the left on this narrow road." As the Lord Jesus said "straight is the way and narrow is the gate which leads to life, and few there be that walk therein."
There may be multitudes who go to church yet few
really walk in that narrow road. It's like all night prayer meeting:
there may be multitude in the worship services in the churches,
but there will be
very few attending when all night prayer meeting is called. If you see a crowd somewhere, in an all-night gathering, they won't be praying, they must be having a party. The Lord said: few there be that walk therein.
This is the type of believers he wants us to be as we see the end coming: praying Christians; walking in that narrow road of prayer and fasting, living holy.
Remember this: Just like it takes faith to believe
that Jesus has healed our body, it takes faith also to believe
that we can disappear from this planet by Jesus in the rapture
without dying. We are not going away in some space ship. Angels
are going to come down to take the believers away, as it happened
to Elijah the prophet. We know in the bible that a chariot of
fire came down and Elijah jumped into it and was taken away.
In John chapter Eleven, I want to talk about this story how the Lord Jesus Christ revealed whom he is to the Jews.
A preacher put it this way: when Jesus first raised a girl from the dead, the skeptics could have said, the girl was not really dead, she was just in the coma. The Lord would have said, I will teach them next time. Another time the Lord came into a city called Nain. They were carrying a dead man out of the city to be buried.
The mother of the young man was a widow and a crowd
followed the corpse comforting the mother.
Christ comforted the woman and stopped the procession. Jesus came to the brier and said to the dead man: "Young man, I say unto thee, arise".
The young man sat up, and began to talk. Jesus raised up the young man from the dead and delivered him to his mother again.
That was a miracle of course. Not just a miracle, but God the creator who is the giver of life called the life back into the dead man! Again the skeptics could have said, "well, maybe that was a prolonged coma!"
Right now we have read in the news that people have been kept in coma in the hospitals for weeks. So Skeptics could have said "the young man raised up from the dead by Jesus was not really dead, maybe he was only in a prolonged coma." The Lord Jesus decided he will really fix them good next time.
Here comes this grand finale of the demonstration of his deity. Emmanuel - God walking among men!
This would not be a prolonged coma. And the Lord Jesus waited. The story goes thus:
"A certain man was sick named Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.
( It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)
Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold he whom thou lovest is sick."
So the Sisters sent a message to Jesus because he had been on evangelistic trip for weeks and had not come to that part of the country for a while. They sent a message: when you find the master, tell him our brother Lazarus is sick, please come over and heal him. Or at least pray from over there.
"When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister, and Lazarus.
When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. "
In short, the Lord Jesus waited. He wanted that boy to die and pass away. That exactly was what happened.
"Then after that, saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again. His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again?
Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world.
... .. Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.
... Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead"
Let's pause a little while. Jesus received the message about Lazarus being sick. He must have looked in the spirit and saw that "hoh hoh, it's not the sickness that would have killed him." He chose to wait for the boy to pass away so that he can really prove to the unbelieving Jews that He is the Messiah. So he waited two more days to make sure the boy was already dead. In fact by the time he arrived again in the town, the boy was already in the grave four days.
About this time the ministry of the Lord Jesus was no more popular with the Jews. They wanted to stone him in Judaea the last time he preached there. The disciples were now scared for his sake to go back into Judaea. The twelve apostles, though they were still following Jesus, they must have had pressure from the unbelieving Jews and Scribes to stop following this man. (Read John 6:66) After the Lord told the people about himself, "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him." For this reason the Lord spoke the following to the apostles:
"Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe: nevertheless let us go unto him." (Jn 11:14-15)
(v. 17) Then when Jesus came he found that he had lain in the grave four days already."
If it is someone like you or me who has no power, we would have said "too late". Unless he does it, we have no power. Four days in the grave! To us it is too late, but to the master, he is the God of all. That was what he wanted to show.
v.20 "Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." That was how much she believed.
What I want to point out in this story is the following: Jesus is greater than just healing the sick. He is bigger than just providing for the things that you need. Their faith is in the fact that "if we could just get hold of the master before any evil happen!" Now it's too late. As far as they were concerned, if he had been there he would have healed him. Now he is already in the grave.
"Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again."
Martha said "I know that". "Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day."
But this is what Jesus Christ really wanted them to know: (v.25) "Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believeth thou this?"
What do you think the Lord Jesus Christ meant here? In this statement "I am the resurrection, and the life!" What do you think He meant by that?
If someone tells you "Friend, when I get back to Washington I am going to visit the Chief Passport Officer; they forgot to sign my passport", and you reply and say "I am the Chief passport officer!" What does that mean? It means you don't need to get to Washington, I am here, I can sign it right now, and it will still be a valid passport.
Martha said "if you have been here my brother would not have died." Jesus said, "Well your brother will rise again!" She said "I believe that he will rise again in the last day." But Jesus said, in effect, "Wait a minute! I am that resurrection, and that life!" In short he was saying: in that last day, who is going to resurrect anybody? It's Jesus that is going to resurrect anybody that will resurrect. Whenever is that last day, it's Jesus that will do it! That's what he was saying in that statement.
He was implying: "You are waiting for the last day? I am here, I am the One who will do it in that last day! I can do it right now." That is exactly what he came to do for Lazarus. He meant "I am that resurrection which everybody is waiting for, and I am that life." After people are resurrected in the last day, they are never to die anymore. Jesus was saying "I am that life". Who will keep them alive that they will never die? Jesus! Who will bring them out of the grave? Jesus!
"He that believeth in me, though he were dead yet shall he live." Christ was giving us some more secret here! "And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believeth thou this?" Now the Lord put a question mark behind that! Believeth thou this? This is what I want to stress. Christ has uttered forth something which nobody has ever said before. Nobody has ever spoken something so fantastic before. Everyone always point to God. Something this great, who can do it? God! Something impossible, who can do it? God! Now here was a man whom people said was the Messiah, or Christ, and some people didn't believe it. He said he is the resurrection, the life. He said he can do everything which you have attributed that only God can do. He was saying he is God! That was why the unbelieving Jews wanted to stone him. Because if he is not God, it was utmost blasphemy!
We can look back and say it is true he is God. But in those days they either believe him or stone him. The religious leaders found it hard to believe. So they crucified him for the human race as He fore-ordained. (Isa.53).
Now Jesus knew that Martha and the rest of the disciples believed in the resurrection. But he was adding some new revelation to them: he is that resurrection! He is that life! And he is around! Do you believe it? If he is around he can do it right now! If he is that life he can keep you alive that you never see death! Do you believe it?
The disciples know and believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. But this aspect of his claim they could not understand it, and could not swallow it. That is why he put a question after the statement: "Believeth thou this?" And you will see what the woman believed. She saith unto him, "Yea, Lord, I believe that thou art the Christ the Son of God, which should come into the world." (v.27). In short she was saying, "well, whatever you say! we believe you are the Son of God to come." That is all they believed.
Jesus was saying, He has the power to keep you alive so that you shall not see death. Do you believe that? You have got to believe that aspect of his claim.
It's just like it was said "by his stripes we were healed!" You have got to believe that aspect of his promises to claim the healing of your body. You have got to believe for it to be so for you.
Someone may say, "I believe Jesus is the Messiah". But do you believe that "by his stripes ye were healed?" You have got to believe in that statement also. Jesus told Martha in those statements that he not only is the Messiah, but also he can raise the dead back to life, and he can keep the living alive, never to die, if you believe it. That is hard to swallow for most folks.
You can read the rest of the story. Jesus called Lazarus back to life. He simply called him: "Lazarus, come forth! " (v.43). That is POWER! But do you know? This power is what Christ has given to his body, the church. But we had been too far below the level spiritually to make use of this power. But he still has this power.
The Lord wants me to stress this part. He told me recently and said "THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH!" Let your faith rest on the fact that he has said he has the power that will raise the dead and that will also keep the living alive never to die. Believe that aspect of his claim that he has the power to keep us alive just as we believe that he can heal our body, or that he can provide miraculously for our needs.
If we believe that he can keep us alive until he comes, it is that faith we have to use to resist the Devil. Whatever the devil is doing or trying to do against us, we have to use the faith to resist him. How do we get our healing? The devils roam around and throw sicknesses upon people. We may have the same attack but we resist it and say "by the stripes of Jesus I am healed. My body is well!" We claim it! We keep believing it, and what happens? The devils depart. The devil has to bow to the word of God.
By the same token, if the devil is doing something against me to kill me or any such thing, I've got to refuse to give in. You've got to refuse to give-in. Tell the devil to butts off! The devil may hang around for a while. But when the devil sees that God is looking on, he will flee from you as the scripture has said "resist the devil and he shall flee from you."
That is what the Lord wants me to stress: "The Just Shall Live By Faith!" Don't let your faith shake. People allow their faith to shake because one big brother did not believe it. They said, Peter died, Apostle Paul died! All of those saints were dead. But Christ said "Do you believe it?" Not that you have this power, not that I have this power; but Jesus said He has the power to keep us alive. "Verily, Verily, I say unto you, if a man keep my saying, he shall never see death". (Jn.8:51).
If you know and believe that he has that power to keep you alive, you should say to the Lord, "Jesus I believe your word that you can keep me alive till you come. I am going on my way believing God. Your word said : a thousand shall fall at my side and ten thousand at my right hand but it shall not come near me. Drive-by shooting may be in the streets, I am going to just pass through without fear. I am not going to be afraid". Why? Because he said in his word he has the power to keep me alive if I will believe it.
This is a higher measure of faith and may be very hard to swallow for some folks. And Christ knows it. that is why he only gives every generation a measure of faith. But in this generation, because we are heading towards the rapture, he has brought to us further revelation for this faith which was once delivered unto the saints. He is able to keep us alive till he comes. He is coming very soon. But he said "Believeth thou this?"
Remember, this miracle happened, but it didn't change the Jews. The Jews still said "this man doeth so many miracles, let's get rid of him."
We who said we believe, what is the level at which we are believing him. Multitudes of church folks will say "I believe he has forgiven my sins; but for sickness, I'll go to the doctors." Other groups will say "Jesus can provide for my needs also". And they get more from the Lord because the Lord promised the righteous: "In the days of famine, they shall be satisfied." Another group believe, "By his stripes we were healed; the devil has no right to lay sickness upon us." And they resist the devil by such declarations and God honors it, so that regular healing miracles were wrought for them. It is God who gives the understanding of the word.
The devil will always give up when the saints hold their ground. How long do I have to wait before the devil gives up? Wait until the devil gives up! God does not give the timing to his promises. Abraham waited for about twenty five years from the time God told him he will have a son. He waited for twenty five years before Isaac was born.
God's word will never fail. Though it takes time to manifest, it will not fail. Wait for it. When the trouble comes, act on your faith. You will have to stand by the word of God and tell the devil to leave. Keep on saying it to the devil without giving up, and he will have to leave. As it was said, "The Just Shall Live By Faith!. God has given his Angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
Take God's word for it! He said he has this power to keep us alive, we've got to trust his word that He will not fail us. If you know he can do it, then believe it and confess it.
In Psalm 91 we read: v.9: "Because thy hast make the Lord which is my refuge, even the most high thy habitation, there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling." You can claim this promise of God to combat diseases, pestilence, allergies, flu, and all such evil things in the air.
In verse 7: "A thousand shall fall at thy side and ten thousand at thy right hand, but it shall not come nigh thee."
When we believe these promises of God, we can believe that he has the power to keep us alive. We are not claiming that we have the longevity of life. We are saying Jesus has the power to keep us alive! All we need to do is to believe and to follow him in that narrow road as he has said "if a man keep my saying, he shall never see death". (Jn.8:51). We have to rest our mind upon those promises and not be afraid. There are a lot of things to make people afraid in this world. You may read the newspaper today and find woes, and troubles in economy: people being laid off from their employment; or murders and killing in the city. If we believe these promises of God, we should rest our heart on the word of God and not welcome any fear from the devil. Just remember the word said, "because you believe in Jesus and that he is the resurrection and the life: resurrection for those who are dead to come back alive in the last day, and life for those who are alive and who will believe, to keep them alive for ever, you shall not be afraid."
If you believe it, Walk with him! You have got to walk with him to please him like Enoch of old who walked with God and was not for God took him.
May the Lord give you understanding and faith to
believe, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!
Bro. Julius Adewumi
Gospel Distribution Ministry