Power over Sin, the World, and the Devil

Current events give us pause and bring us reason to consider the place of Christ and the kingdom of God in our world. Every day the news seems to bring more and more horrible stories of brutality, disease, political chaos, personal mayhem, terrorist events, governmental deceptions and inadequacies, abject poverty, oppression, etc.

There was one point at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century when theological thinking was that the world would get better and better, we would usher in the kingdom of God, and then Christ would return. This thinking was changed largely by the events of the 20th century of two “World Wars;” the “Cold War;” continual wars; attempts at genocide; and terrorist activities that have gone on with increasing frequency into the 21st century. It seems obvious that the only way for the kingdom of God to become visible and to be observed among us is for Christ to return and bring it about with power.

Therefore, it has been a common teaching that the Second Coming is immanent. In fact, the observable world is so bad that the teaching of a secret coming of Jesus to take His own out of the world has become acceptable. This has been called the “rapture” and it is a belief that I grew up with in the church I attended. I don’t actually remember any teaching about the “rapture.” It just seemed to be part of the climate that was around me. I have heard others tell of their own thinking that is similar. Various events have occurred that triggered a thought, “The rapture has happened and I have been left behind.” In fact, the thought has been so prevalent and pervasive that a series of movies have been made called “Left Behind.”

This is a short article so I will quickly sum up what I believe the truth is concerning the issues of the “rapture;” the kingdom of God in the world; and power over sin, the world, and the Devil.

The basic scripture that sums up salvation is “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3: 16 NIV) In this single verse we see the love God has for the world bringing salvation to it by individuals accepting salvation by believing in Jesus Christ His Son.

That process will continue until our heavenly Father determines that the number of those to be saved has been fulfilled. We are seven billion people in the world right now and that has increased from one billion to seven billion in my lifetime. That is not exactly accurate. In 1804 the estimated world population was one billion after staying very much below that figure for all of world history. By 1950 the world population had increased to about 2.5 billion. Now we are in my lifetime. I was born in 1942 as the United States entered what was to be known as World War 2. Now the world population is 7.3 billion and growing rapidly.

The kingdom of God is not going to be observed in its coming. As the world population is increasing so those being saved and becoming members of the kingdom of God are increasing. These are discovering that we have poser over sin, the world, and the Devil, just as Jesus promised and provided.

As for the “rapture.” Yes, we who are alive will go to meet Jesus in the air. But it will not be in secret and it will not be separate from His Second Coming. It will simply be an event of the resurrection of the dead. The dead will be resurrected to life if they have known Jesus and to eternal death if they have not. The living will go up too because there will be nowhere else to go.