Matthew says it this way: "And they were offended in Him. But Jesus said unto them 'A prophet is not without honor, save (except) in his own country, and in his own house.'" Mark also quotes Jesus in his gospel (6:4). I understand why my family fails to honor my teaching from God's Word; they have excellent memories of all the times I have failed to live a Christlike life. I do a little better in my local church, but since I have a Baptist background, they are a little leery of me. Our church is an independent fellowship and nearly all those attending are from other church backgrounds. I don't know for sure, but I suspect that there are only a small minority of former Baptist there. The first time I was asked to speak during a service, I was cautioned by the former pastor to avoid the subject of Eternal Security of the Believer. While I do hold that belief tenaciously, I do not discuss it unless someone asks me about my beliefs. Even then, I proceed with caution. It, like many other doctrines, are important but not so important that it should break fellowship between believers.
While I have several years of formal theological training, most of what I know I have learned through the study of God's Word. Fortunately, my understanding matches the pastor's on everything, as far as I know. He has told me that he has the utmost confidence in my teaching, and has ask me to teach nine week courses on Bible Prophecy on several occasions. I have prepared a large loose leaf notebook providing over one hundred pages on the Rapture, the Tribulation, and the Millennium, which I give those attending my classes. While I have been encouraged by the response of those taking my class, I have been less than pleased with a few critics from denominations that are determined to go through the Tribulation, no matter what the Word says. It is not so much that they differ, but how they express it.
I guess my biggest disappointment though, is the fact that my family refuses to even consider reading the materials, and for the most part, seems to delight in flaunting their independence. I wish I could say that I know which of them are a born again believers in Christ, and which are simply church folk. But I can't because we all know that not everyone who says to Christ, "Lord, Lord..." is actually a child of God. The idea of "by their fruit, ye shall know them" has often been quoted, but as I have found during my many years as a Christian, it only works on the extreme days of the one producing it. When they are living for the Lord, one would say they are saved; when they are living in the flesh, one would be very suspect of their faith. In other words, it just does not work. I think I will just trust the Lord to sort us out. He will get it right.
Pastor Brian and I have had many discussions about many things, but we especially enjoy discussing the future of the church. In Revelation, chapters two and three, there is a list of churches which have often been compared to the periods in church history. Each church has been typical of the time for which it represents. For instance, the church at Ephesus represents the beginning church under the apostles, and so on. Many believe the church at Philadelphia represents the 1700-1900's when missionary zeal was at its zenith. The promise Christ makes to that church is that it will not go through the Tribulation. The last church listed is at Laodicea, and is known for its luke-warm faith. Christ has a very different promise that is more like a warning for them.
Pastor and I believe that both Philadelphia and Laodicea are representative of the church today. There are millions upon millions of folks who believe that Jesus died for them, but they have never committed their lives to Him, or allowed Him to rule in their lives. The are professing to be Christians. Then, there are those who have surrendered to His Lordship in gratitude for what He has, and still is doing for them. These are the possessors of a relationship with Him. The possessors, we believe, are the ones known as the Philadelphians. The professors are obviously Laodiceans. When the Rapture of the church takes place, true believers will be taken up to meet the Lord. Some time after, the Antichrist will begin the seven year period known as the Tribulation. Those who were professors of faith will suddenly discover a large number of their Christian friends are gone. They will face severe trials and for most, death. Some will be saved during this time, because Revelations speaks of the martyrs for the faith in 7:14.
So, for those who believe the church will go through the Tribulation, they are right. For those who believe that born again believers will be taken up in the Rapture to meet the Lord, they too are right. Where one stands on this does not determine whether or not they are saved. What it does do, however, is determine whether one has total peace in the comfort this teaching provides. In I Thessalonians 4:13-18, Paul teaches that believers will be taken up to be with the Lord. He begins this section by saying that he doesn't want them to be ignorant of God's promise, and he ends it by saying that this teaching brings comfort to those who will trust what he is saying. I wish my family had the peace that God's promise provides concerning the future; I wish every believer did as well. I pray that everyone who reads this will commit his or her life to Christ and be totally confident that He will be back very soon. Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus!