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The Purpose of the Church, the body of Christ

replacement theology

The purpose of the church, the body of Christ.

Years ago, my dad asked me, “what will we be doing in heaven for all eternity?” I thought about that for a minute but had no satisfactory answer for him.  What is the purpose of the church, the Body of Christ?

Greetings, I’m your host, Dr. Paul Felter.

In this post, I’ll discuss the purpose of the church, the Body of Christ.  And as a subtitle, I would add, “Why Satan hates the Pretribulation Rapture.”

As always, I put to practice the apostle Paul’s command in 2nd Timothy 2:15

“Study to show thyself approved of God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

This post has 7 segments.

1. Back to Genesis – how it all began.

2. Evil minions – messing with Messiah.

3. What Satan knew.

4. What Satan did not know – God’s hidden wisdom.

5. Up, up, and away – the true purpose of the Rapture.

6. War in heaven – finally time to clean house.

7. The Purpose of the church, the body of Christ

Segment 1. Back to Genesis – how it all began.

To understand the purpose of the church, the Body of Christ during this present dispensation of Grace, we must go back to the beginning, how it all began.

In Genesis chapter 1 v. 1, we read.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

From the very beginning, God created two realms, heaven, and earth. Two realms for which God has a divine purpose.  Two realms declaring His magnificent glory. Two realms in which to reveal His true character and nature, of love, grace, mercy, and justice.

Satan’s diabolical plan

God created divine programs for each realm, heaven, and earth.  But from the beginning, Satan has tried to foil God’s plans.  As soon as God created Adam and Eve in the garden, who comes calling but the devil himself disguised as a serpent, a deceiver? Satan twists God’s word and impugns God’s character by insinuating that God did not speak the truth when He gave instructions to Adam not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden.  Satan immediately tried to foil God’s plan for mankind and was partially successful.  He deceived Adam and Eve to rebel against the command of God thereby causing the fall of man.  God has a plan for heaven and earth, but so does Satan. Think about the timeline of history as a continual warfare between God and Satan taking place in these two realms: heaven and the earth.

You might think that declaring war against God is a fool’s folly, and it is.  But Satan is not stupid.  He is full of wisdom and perfect in beauty, wiser than Daniel declares Ezekiel the prophet in Ch. 28 of his writing.  The devil thinks he can pull it off, that he can outwit God.  He is a sample of his madness.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” Isaiah 14:12-14

Satan’s ambition was heralded by his boast; “I will be like the most high.”

For this study, what attribute of the “most high” does Satan covet?

And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:” Genesis 14:18-19

Possessor of heaven and earth.

Here we read that God is the possessor of heaven and earth.  Judging from Satan’s actions down through history, that is exactly what he desires.  Now Satan knows he could never defeat God in a one-on-one battle. So, he uses his powers of deception to deceive the nations into following him and rebelling against God. That’s what he did with Adam and Eve. For six thousand years, both in secular society and within God’s people whether they be Israel or the Body of Christ, Satan’s had great success in deceiving masses of people.

Billions of people on earth are deceived through numerous false religions. In the heavenly realm, a third of the angels were deceived and followed Lucifer, Satan, in his rebellion against God. Satan desires to possess heaven and earth by deceiving its occupants to follow him, not God, thereby gaining de facto control over both realms.

In Genesis chapter six, fallen angels came to earth and cohabitated with women creating a human-hybrid giant called the Nephilim. This was Satan’s attempt to corrupt the human genome.  Earlier, in Genesis chapter three, Satan learned that the seed of the woman (Christ, the Messiah) would crush his head but he would only bruise His heal. Satan thought if he could corrupt the human genome, the pure human seed of the woman might never come; the Messiah would never be born.

God remedied this situation by destroying genetically corrupted mankind with a global flood.  All except Noah and his family perished from the earth.  Noah found grace in God’s eyes as he was perfect in all his generations (Genesis 6:8-9); he had a perfect, uncorrupted human genome.  He would continue humanity.

There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” – Genesis 6:4 KJV

So, “there were giants in the earth in those days,” the days of Noah before the flood.  “Also after that,” giants reappeared.  After Moses led Israel out of Egypt in the Exodus to the land of Canaan, he sent out spies to recon the land. They returned with spectacular accounts of giants in the promised land.

Just as Satan used fallen angels to corrupt the human genome before Noah’s flood, yielding human-hybrid giants, he’s done it again to prevent Israel from entering the promised land.  The people of Israel are so rebellious against Moses that God keeps them roaming in the Arabian desert for forty years and uses Joshua to lead the next generation into the land of Canaan, defeating the giants. Another foiled attempt by Satan to thwart God’s plan for the earth.

Segment 2. Evil minions – messing with Messiah.

Let’s jump ahead to the New Testament, the gospel accounts of Jesus’ ministry to Israel.

Ever notice what Jesus had to endure that’s found nowhere else in the Bible? 

Demons, yes demons. Jesus often dealt with demon-possessed Jews. Interesting that you don’t read of demon possession in the Old Testament or Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon.  But evidently, there was no shortage of demons during Jesus’ ministry.

And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him. And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep.” Luke 8:30-31

Here’s a poor fellow that had many demons, perhaps thousands as a legion number in the thousands. Could this be another feeble attempt by Satan to interfere with the ministry of Jesus Christ or just a convenient devilish coincidence?  Satan’s prints are all over it. Whatever God is doing on earth, you can bet that Satan is trying to destroy it or counterfeit it to lead people astray.

Segment 3. What Satan knew.

Moving forward, let’s ask a few questions.

1.  Did Satan favor the cross?  

Was the devil in favor of Jesus’ crucifixion?  Satan was well aware of the prophecy concerning the crucifixion of the Messiah.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. … He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. … Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:5, 8-9, 12

Satan knew that Jesus Christ would die for the sin of His people Israel. But was he in favor of Jesus dying on the cross?  Yes, he was.  He was so much in favor that he came to personally oversee the operation.

“Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them.” Luke 22:3-4

Satan entered, and possessed, Judas to ensure the successful betrayal and crucifixion of Jesus. This was a big deal as Satan only possesses two people in the entire Bible: Judas and the Antichrist. Both are referred to as “son of perdition.”

So, Satan highly favored Jesus’ death on the cross. So much so that took direct control of the situation. He knew Jesus was the prophesied seed of the woman in Genesis chapter three that would crush his head. From his perspective, the sooner he could dispose of Jesus, the better. But we know that God always has a better plan.

2. Did Satan know beforehand of Jesus’ Resurrection?

Let’s read a few verses that answer the question.

“For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Matthew 12:40

Any good Jew would have known the story of Jonah and the whale.  Jonah was commanded by God to warn those at Nineveh to repent of their sin or be destroyed. But Jonah hated the Ninevites as they were the enemies of Israel.  As he fled from keeping God’s command, he was thrown into the sea and swallowed by a whale.  Jonah was three days and nights in the belly of the whale before vomited out on the beach along the coast of Syria, not too far from Nineveh.

Jonah spent three days in the whale.  Jesus will likewise spend three days in the earth after his death until His resurrection.

“And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.” Mark 8:31

Jesus taught His disciples that he would rise from the dead after three days.  Sadly, they never quite understood until after His resurrection.

“Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” John 2:19

The Jews standing nearby thought Jesus was speaking of the physical temple, but He was speaking of His body. They did not understand, but you can bet that Satan understood.

“From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.” Matthew 16:21

We know for sure that Satan heard what Jesus said to the disciples in Matthew chapter 16 as Jesus commanded Satan to get behind him.  We know the devil was there listening to every word.

So, to answer the question of whether or not Satan knew of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Yes, he did.

Satan knew about the resurrection of Jesus Christ from those New Testament passages.  In the Old Testament, King David prophesied the Messiah’s resurrection.

“For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.” Psalm 16:10

According to Jewish tradition, the corruption of the body, that is the decomposition of the flesh, began on the fourth day.  Jesus rose on the third day before corruption began, just as David said in the psalm.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ didn’t seem to concern Satan that much.  He had the Romans roll a large stone over the entrance to the tomb.  But that was no problem for God’s angels.

Forty days after the resurrection of Jesus, He ascended returning to heaven and the Father. Satan probably had a sigh of relief, escaping his head-crushing finale, at least for the time being.

3. Did Satan Know Jesus Would Die for the Sins of Israel?

We read in Isaiah chapter 53  that Jesus. The Messiah of Israel would “bear the sins of many.” We know that Isaiah is a prophet of Israel and is speaking to Israel, not to Gentiles.  Since the Messiah would come to redeem Israel then, yes, Satan knew Jesus would die for the sins of Israel, but that’s all he knew.

Matthew records a conversation with Joseph and the angel Gabriel.

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

Surely, the devil or his minions would have heard this conversation. Anytime a messenger from God came to earth you can bet your bottom dollar the forces of darkness were listening to every word. So, clearly the devil knew Jesus’ death on the cross was for the sin of Israel.

4.  Did Satan Know His Demise?

God told Satan back in Genesis chapter three how He would dispose of him.

“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:15

Satan knew this prophecy.  After all, he was standing there when it was given by God. How the “seed of the woman,” the Messiah, would crush his head, but he would only nip the Messiah’s heal.  However, Satan did not know when Messiah would come so Satan immediately started his plan to corrupt or destroy the “seed of the woman.” In the next chapter of Genesis, chapter four, Satan deceived Cain into killing his brother Abel. Since Abel obeyed God in preparing a proper sacrifice, perhaps Satan thought the promised Messiah would come through the line of Abel.

Let’s recap.

Yes, Satan wanted the crucifixion of Jesus.

Yes, Satan knew Jesus would rise from the dead.

Yes, Satan knew Jesus would die for Israel’s sin.

Yes, Satan knew the prophecy of his demise.

Segment 4. What Satan did not know – God’s hidden wisdom.

The devil knew the prophecies about the coming Messiah.  He also knew what Jesus revealed during His earthly ministry. But there was something Satan did not know!  Something really big that would change the course of history.

The apostle Paul wrote to the gentile believers at Corinth, Greece.

“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” 1 Corinthians 2:7-8

Wow, what a powerful and revealing passage. I’ll bet you never heard a sermon on that verse.

Let’s deconstruct the passage.

“But we speak” – refers to the apostle Paul and the few that traveled with him on his missionary journeys.

“the wisdom of God” – It’s God’s wisdom, not the wisdom of men.

It’s a mystery, hidden wisdom only God (the Father) knew.

God created this hidden wisdom before the world began.

“our glory” is a reference back to the apostle Paul.

God revealed this hidden wisdom to the Apostle Paul after his Damascus road conversion. God did not reveal the hidden wisdom to Peter, James, and John.

The hidden wisdom was God’s eternal purpose of the church.

Here comes the interesting part, it reads none of the “princes of this world” knew the hidden wisdom. No one on earth, human or angelic, knew the hidden wisdom.

The “princes of this world” is not a reference to earthly rulers like Herod or Pontus Pilate, but to Satan and his fallen angels and demons.  The apostle John mentions the prince of this world three times in his gospel.

“Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.” John 14:30

This is a clear reference to Satan, the devil.

Had they known the hidden wisdom; the forces of darkness would not have favored the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

That begs the question.

What is this “hidden wisdom” that Satan and his minions did not know?

Let’s look at a few more verses before we answer that question.

The apostle Paul spoke to the Gentiles at Ephesus about his ministry.

“And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:” Ephesians 3:8-9

So the mystery or hidden wisdom had been “hid in God” from the beginning of the world.

“Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,” Romans 16:25

The mystery, the hidden wisdom was “hid in God”, “kept secret” from the beginning of the world. So, what is this “hidden wisdom”?  

Let’s understand the setting.  Journey for a moment back in time to Acts chapter 8.

Imagine with me how Satan might have felt in Acts chapter eight.  He has successfully crucified the Lord Jesus, Israel’s Messiah.  Even though Jesus rose from the dead, He ascended back to heaven and nothing much has changed or so he thinks. 

  • Israel is still in rebellion against God.
  • Israel’s Messiah came, died, and departed.
  • The Gentiles are still firmly under Satan’s control.

Control of the earth is still firmly in Satan’s grasp.  Since a third of the angels rebelled with him, he has the heavens under partial control. His fallen angels occupy the powers and principalities of heaven.

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high or heavenly [places].” Ephesians 6:12

There is “spiritual wickedness in heavenly places. God declares this back in the book of Job.

“Behold, he putteth no trust in his saints; yea, the heavens are not clean in his sight.” Job 15:15

The heavens are not clean in God’s sight because a third of the angels are in rebellion with Satan.  These fallen angels have positions of authority in heaven, powers, and principalities.

So, at this point, in Acts chapter eight, Satan is probably delighted with his accomplishments in disrupting God’s plan for heaven and earth.

But then something unprophesied, unannounced, unprecedented happens in Acts chapter 9.

Satan, looking up toward heaven, sees a bright light approaching the earth.  It’s the Lord Jesus returning to earth. This cannot be happening. Jesus, according to prophecy, cannot return until after the 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy, the 7-year Tribulation. He can’t return to earth now. What is going on? What is happening?

As Satan watches, Jesus descends to hover over a small band of men on the road to Damascus. This group of men are heading to Damascus to persecute Jews that believed Jesus Christ is their Messiah. The ringleader, Saul of Tarsus, has the authority to bring these rebels back to Jerusalem to be thrown in prison or even killed.

Suddenly, Saul of Tarsus is struck by a bright light, as a bolt of lightning. He falls from his horse and lay lifeless on the ground. Satan shocked, watches with dismay not understanding what’s happening, possibly thinking this is some sort of judgment from Jesus upon Saul.

Satan, listening intently, overhears the conversation.

“Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”

“Who art thou, Lord?”

“I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.”

“Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?”

“Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.”

One can only imagine what’s going on in the devil’s mind.  After all, Saul is one of Satan’s favorites. He passionately persecutes believers in Jesus.

Saul waits patiently in Damascus for three days as does Satan. Neither knows what is about to happen. Meanwhile, a disciple named Ananias receives a command from the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Ananias.”

“Behold, I am here, Lord.”

“Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, and hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight.”

“Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: and here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.”

Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:  For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.”

Satan is livid. He protests.

No, this can’t happen.  The Gentiles are mine, they’ve always been mine since the beginning.  This is not fair. There’s nothing in prophecy about anyone having a ministry to save Gentiles.

That’s right devil, welcome to the “hidden wisdom” of God, the salvation of the Gentiles.

Satan is beginning to get the picture. Saul of Tarsus, who previously persecuted believers in Jesus Christ will now take the gospel of Jesus Christ both to the Jews and the Gentiles.  This is unprecedented as no one before Saul had a ministry to Gentiles.  He is the first to take the good news to Gentiles.  And what is the good news?

“That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:” Ephesians 3:6

The Gentiles would now be “fellowheirs” with Israel and “partakers” of the promises of God through Jesus Christ and the gospel of grace.

This is a complete paradigm shift as Paul wrote about the Gentile’s position in the world in Ephesians chapter two. Before the apostle Paul and his ministry to the Gentiles, they were without hope.

“Wherefore remember, that ye [being] in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:” Ephesians 2:11-12

In “Time Past”, Gentiles were “without Christ”, they were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, being “strangers from the covenants and promises” given to Israel.  Gentiles had “no hope” and were “without God in the world.”  From a spiritual perspective, it doesn’t get much worse. Gentiles were doomed. But something changed.

“But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:13

In the “But Now” section of the chart, Gentiles, who once were “far off” are brought into the family of God by the “blood of Christ.” Through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross, Gentiles can now be saved by the simple gospel of grace. Satan sees the budding church, but still has no clue as to the purpose of the church.

The salvation of Saul of Tarsus, our apostle Paul, begins the revelation of the mystery, the hidden wisdom, that salvation now comes to the Gentiles.  Millions of people, once under the dominion of Satan, will now be saved.  Needless to say, Satan is not happy with this development.

With the stoning of Stephen in Acts chapter 7 and the rejection of his message by the council of Israel about Jesus as their Messiah, God set aside Israel and implemented a new program for Gentiles.  The “hidden wisdom” revealed to the apostle Paul is the present Dispensation of Grace, the Body of Christ, the church age, and the gospel of Grace. It doesn’t require a Ph.D. to see that something has dramatically changed with the salvation of Saul of Tarsus.  Gentiles, once under the complete dominion of Satan, will be saved by the millions forming the Body of Christ during this present Dispensation of Grace.  Gentiles are not saved by keeping the law of Moses but by simple faith in the gospel of grace that Jesus died on the cross for your sin, was buried, and rose again on the third day.

This program is primarily for the salvation of Gentiles. That’s why it was hidden from everyone including Satan and his fallen angels.  Had Satan known of the dispensation of Grace for the Gentiles before the cross of Christ, he would have tried to prevent the crucifixion and the subsequent salvation of millions of Gentiles.

This present dispensation of Grace began with the apostle Paul and the revelation of the hidden wisdom given to him and declared in his writings, Romans thru Philemon.  But when will this present dispensation end?

Segment 5 – Up, up, and away – the purpose of the Rapture.

For almost two thousand years the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit have been building the Body of Christ.  Those that believe the gospel of Grace are baptized into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit awaiting the day of redemption of the body, the Rapture.

“And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” Romans 8:23

“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30

At some point in the future, the Body of Christ will be caught up.  Those Christians that have died will be raised from the dead and given new glorified bodies.  We who are alive will also receive new glorified bodies.  We will then gather in the clouds to meet the Lord Jesus Christ in the air. That is the “day of redemption”, the changing of our bodies into eternal bodies fit for the heavens.

 “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, 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: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-52

Someday soon we are out of here.  But where are we going once we leave planet earth?  Let’s read what the Bible says about that.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” Ephesians 1:3

“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:” Ephesians 2:6

“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” 2 Corinthians 5:1

“For our conversation [citizenship, community] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:” Philippians 3:20

“For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;” Colossians 1:5

When we leave this earth our destination is heaven, “heavenly places”.  We are “eternal in the heavens.”  Our eternal home is not this earth, but the heavens where the Lord and the hosts of heaven dwell.

The purpose of the Rapture of the Body of Christ is to relocate the Body of Christ from the earth to the heavens, our eternal home. What a day that will be. There is no problem in our lives that the Rapture won’t fix.

Ok, great, fantastic, I can’t wait, but then what?  Will we sit on clouds tuning our harps for eternity?  What are we going to do in heaven?

Once in heavenly places, our first stop is the judgment seat of Christ.  This occurs in heaven while the earth is experiencing the first half of the 7-year Tribulation.  Remember, the 7-year Tribulation, aka the 70th week of Daniel’s prophecy, follows the Rapture.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” 2 Corinthians 5:10

At the judgment seat of Christ, every Christian is evaluated for rewards.  This is NOT a judgment for salvation as only saved people are Raptured.  This is a judgment for rewards where your future assignments and responsibilities are determined based on your obedience to the Lord’s will while on earth.  The following verses sum it up.

“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” 1 Corinthians 3:11

Christians can build upon the foundation of Jesus Christ in two ways.  Gold, silver, and precious gems are good works that we do after we are saved following God’s will for our life.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

“That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:17

“In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,” Titus 2:7

Good works (gold, silver, and precious gems) will be rewarded by Christ and the rewards are eternal rewards that will never rust or deteriorate as temporal things do.

Sadly, many Christians are piling up wood, hay, and stubble upon the foundation of Jesus Christ.  These are works originating from one’s lusts and desires, not from the will of the Lord.  Those living in sin are building wood, hay, and stubble that will be consumed by the fire of God, His Word.  They will receive no reward, no assignment, and responsibilities for eternity. They will “suffer loss” as they stand before Jesus ashamed of how they lived their life seeing what could have been, but watching it all fade away.  Their rewards are gone, gone forever.

Timeline Recap

  1. For almost 2000 years the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have been creating the body of Christ during this present dispensation of grace.
  2. At some point in the future, that body of Christ will be complete.
  3. The Rapture moves the Body of Christ from the earth to “heavenly places.”
  4. We all then stand before the judgment seat of Christ for rewards, crowns, assignments and responsibilities.
  5. The judgment seat of Christ happens while the earth suffers in the first half of the 7-year Tribulation.

Segment 6 – War in heaven, finally time to clean house.

Something interesting happens at the midpoint of the 7-year Tribulation after the judgment seat of Christ.

“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” Revelation 12:7-9

At the midpoint of the 7-year Tribulation Michael and his angels fight against Satan and his angels.  Only a third of the angels rebelled with Satan so Michael has a two-to-one advantage. Michael routs Satan and his angels casting them down to the earth.  Most Christians think that Satan and his rebellious angels were kicked out of heaven long ago. But such is not the case. They are still there as heaven is the battlefield of this war. Their defeat and removal happen at the midpoint of the Tribulation.

What are these bad angels doing in heaven?  Paul gives us a clue.

“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Ephesians 6:11-13

Evil, fallen angels control principalities and powers both on earth and in the heavens.  Fallen angels, rulers of darkness, control and influence world powers.  Other evil entities control high or heavenly places exerting their nefarious influence in the heavens. But these heavenly places were not created for the devil and his angels.  They were created by and for Jesus Christ.

“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” Colossians 1:16-17

Satan has partial control of the principalities and powers in heavenly places via his fallen angels.  However, these seats of authority were created by and for Jesus Christ.  During the Tribulation, these positions of power and authority (principalities and powers) will be vacated as Satan and his angels are run out of heaven and cast to the earth. That will be a day of rejoicing for the heavens.

“Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” Revelation 12:12

Who dwells in the heavens at that time?  The two-thirds good angels and the Body of Christ.  We will rejoice that the devil no longer has access to heavenly places. We’ve never heard rejoicing and celebrating the likes of which will happen on that day.  Unimaginable!

Remember, these powers and principalities in heavenly places were created by and for Jesus Christ; He is the head.

Segment 7 – The purpose of the church

“And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:” Colossians 2:10

Since Jesus Christ is the HEAD of all thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers.  What do you think the BODY of Christ might be doing since these positions are now vacant?  The rebellious angels that occupied these positions for millennia are gone.

Yes, you got it!

The purpose of the church, the body of Christ is to replace the angels that rebelled against God with Satan.

After their removal from heavenly places, we, the Body of Christ, will rule and reign with Christ in the heavens for all eternity as Israel will rule and reign on earth via their promised kingdom.

The primary purpose of the church, the body of Christ is to replace the millions of mutinous angels that followed Satan in his rebellion against God.

The primary purpose of the Rapture is to relocate the Body of Christ to heavenly places where we are rewarded with authority and responsibility to rule with Christ over the heavens and the universe for all eternity.

I can’t wait!

What a glorious day that will be!

There are no words sufficient to describe the setting. Splendid, magnificent, superb, stunning, spectacular, amazing, wonderful… add whatever glorious adjective you like.

At this point, we can only wonder.  But I can promise you that day will be far beyond anything we can imagine.

“For since the beginning of the world [men] have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, [what] he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.” Isaiah 64:4

You might be more familiar with the NT verse:

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” 1 Corinthians 2:9

The purpose of the church is to rule and reign with Christ in heavenly places.

God bless

To learn how to rightly dividing the word of truth get “The Master Key to Understanding the Bible” click here.

To understand Paul’s calling and ministry click here for “God’s Mystery Man”.

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Dr. Paul Felter

Dr. Paul Felter

Author and Bible teacher for over 40 years. Living the good life in Houston, Texas. Rightly Dividing the word of God as commanded by our apostle Paul in 2nd Timothy 2:15 - "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." If you are not rightly dividing the 'word then you are robbing yourself of God's blessings and favor.