“Someone made a great point in an Internet forum the other day about survival that we haven’t touched on much,” I said. Duane looked at Survival Sam, and Sam scrutinized me with a puzzled look.
“Hope,” I said. “Whether it’s being stuck high on a snowy mountainside or lost in the wilderness, a person has to have hope beyond their present situation.”
“Yeah,” Duane said, lifting a forkful of hash browns. “That is a good point. What about it Sam?”
Sam’s coffee cup clinked against his plate as he lowered it. “Hope is absolutely essential. It’s definitely part of the survival attitude or mindset.”
“But we’re not on the side of a steep mountain,” I said. “Things look pretty bleak and are getting worse daily. You know, the falling dollar, rising gas prices, rising food prices, and so on. I want my blog readers to be prepared and buy the things they truly need, but where’s the hope?”
“Good question,” Duane said.
“Being prepared for personal survival is simply wise in any tough situation.” Sam wiped his mouth with his napkin. “The wilderness trekker needs the right gear, and your family needs storage food and other essential provisions. Without them, realistically there isn’t much hope for your survival. Adequate preparation is an indicator that you have a certain amount of wisdom, determination and hope.”
“But it’s a temporal hope, isn’t it?” asked Duane. “I mean, aren’t we just talking about the day to day life in this present world?”
“Certainly,” Sam said. “This world is all we have for now.”
“That sounds like something an atheist would say, doesn’t it? Where’s your Christian faith?” I asked Sam.
“You’ve read Solomon’s wisdom in the Proverbs and Ecclesiastes in the Scriptures, haven’t you?” Duane and I both nodded. “There you are. Plenty of guidance for this present world. The Lord doesn’t leave us without wisdom for what we face in the here and now. You both know me enough to know that, as a born again Believer in Jesus Christ, I have hope and am confident in a life beyond this world. In fact…” Sam paused to pull a pocket New Testament out of his shirt pocket. “Paul wrote these words about resurrection in First Corinthians 15, verse 19. ‘If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.’"”
“What about the Rapture?” Duane asked.
“Without turning this into an in depth prophecy lesson, I do believe the Bible teaches the reality of the Rapture—that Christians will be instantly taken up out of this world by Christ, and it could happen at any time,” Sam said. But the Bible verse I just read refers to the fact that Christ has risen from the dead and is alive now at the right hand of God, the Father. As a result, Believers can have hope in being resurrected to eternal life.”
Duane looked like he was thinking hard about something.. The sun shone through the window onto the table where he put down his glass of orange juice. “I haven’t been at this survival preparation for very long, but I’ve heard some pretty virulent antiRapture teaching on shortwave by some people who talk about survival. The other night one preacher was on a tear against Christians who supposedly do nothing while waiting for Christ to take them out of this world.”
“AntiRapture teaching isn’t new, and it’s getting worse in my opinion,” Sam said. “Most Christians aren’t aware that such notables as Corrie ten Boom and Ruth Graham both believed those who taught the pretribulation rapture were false teachers.”
“Really!” I said.
“It’s true,” Sam said. “They both cited the example of Chinese Christians who were told they’d be raptured before they would go through persecution n 1949 when Communists took over.”
“Well, that sounds like a strong argument,” Duane said. “Either that or somebody was awfully confused. What can you say to that?”
“The simple truth is, this was a case of gross misinterpretation of doctrine, not the result of a dangerous teaching in the Bible itself. Sadly, the Chinese were badly duped. As for Corrie ten Boom and Ruth Graham, I believe that, in spite of all they lived through, they didn’t fully understand that there will be all kinds of tribulation and trouble in this unfriendly world, but it isn’t the equivalent of the Great Tribulation yet to come.”
“But if a person’s a Christian who’ll be taken up in the Rapture—“ I stammered.
Sam held up his hand to stop me. “Let me show you a couple more Bible verses briefly,” Sam said. “The main Scripture passage used to teach the Rapture is First Thessalonians 4:13-18.” Sam flipped through the pages of his Testament. The sound of crashing glassware came from another part of the Café 23. A whoop and a light ripple of applause followed. I wondered if some college kids were over there.
“Listen to these words from Scripture,” Sam said, bringing me back to the topic at hand. “’And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.’ That’s from verses 11 and 12, immediately before the Rapture passage…Now, here’ the next one. Second Thessalonians says: ‘For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.’” Sam looked up from his reading. “Now, Paul believed in the Rapture; but do those sound like the admonitions of a man who believes in waiting around to be rescued?”
“No,” I said.
“So what’s the bottom line?” asked Duane. “Keep preparing, right?”
“ “That’s right. It’s simply wise to do so,” Sam said. “As for hope, I put my hope in Christ because, as one cliché says, ‘I may not know what the future holds, but I know the One Who holds the future.’”