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At the Rapture, Your Identity Will Be Clear
No more doubt. No more fear. You will know you belong to the Father.
Many of you may have heard of the book Pilgrim’s Progress, written by John Bunyan. It’s a classic of Christian writing and a book many believe to have been one of the most significant pieces of Christian fiction ever written. It’s very old—this allegory was written in 1678, more than three centuries ago.
Sometimes, passages from the book are assigned in public or private schools, and there have been a variety of illustrated children’s versions published over the years. Bunyan wrote the book while detained in a jail in England for preaching the gospel. His book tells the story of the Christian’s life, with all its ups and downs, until we go to be with the Lord in heaven.
What you may not know is that Bunyan wrote another book before Pilgrim’s Progress, entitled Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners. This earlier book is not written in allegory form. It is a memoir, or testimony, of Bunyan’s own personal pilgrimage to find assurance of his salvation in Jesus Christ.
I’ll be honest: It’s a tough book to read. If a secular psychologist were to read Grace Abounding, I am sure they would think Bunyan needed medication for anxiety, depression, or some other mental malady. Repeatedly, he describes feelings of terror and torment that he is eternally damned—with no hope of salvation.
Then things get better. Through prayer, worship, or the encouragement of other believers, Bunyan will have a breakthrough and feel a glorious rush of God’s love and assurance. Then he slides back from the mountaintop to the valley, or the “slough of despond,” as he describes it. He feels existential dread and doubt once again. The cycle continues.
The book can be a very frustrating reading experience as readers witness his highest highs and lowest lows. In the end, Bunyan does receive assurance of his salvation, but his pilgrimage is truly a rollercoaster ride. Once you finish reading it, you end up feeling sorry for this great hero of the faith. Personally, I was relieved when it was finally over.
I have been a pastor for a long time, though, and I can relate to Bunyan’s experience of doubt and anxiety. All of us can, if we are honest. Almost every believer has these moments at some point in their faith journey. I cannot count the number of people who have come to me, over the years, wondering if they are “really saved.” It is a very common torment.
It’s not new, either. It was so widespread in the first century of Christianity that the apostle Paul needed to address it his letter to the church at Rome:
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…—Romans 8:14-17
Paul was telling some of the first Christians that they, indeed, were children of God and joint heirs with Christ, adopted by the Father. I can give the same message today, telling people every time I preach that God loves them and wants to save them forever, but we are sinners living in a fallen world.
But even so, doubt creeps into our hearts. The devil is always ready to stand and accuse us. That is why Paul tells believers that the Holy Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.
Don’t think the Holy Spirit has to keep reassuring us because He thinks it’s a great hobby. He gives us assurance because we need it. The Spirit knows that the world and the devil will keep shouting at us and saying we are worthless, so He speaks even louder into our hearts. He reminds us that we belong to our Father. We are His children.
When Jesus comes for us in the Rapture, all doubt will cease, because doubt and fear have no place in God’s Kingdom. They don’t come from God, and He will not give them even an inch in His eternal Kingdom. At the moment of the Rapture, you will never again wonder if God loves you. You will have an eternal Sabbath rest in the assurance that God is your Father, and you are His child.
Nevertheless, as all of us who are in Christ wait, here are some important verses to help you see yourself the way that God sees you:
A Member of God’s Household
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.—Ephesians 2:19
You are not a stranger in God’s house. You belong to Him and to all His people. Remember, you’re now part of the family and a legitimate child of God.
Never Lacking in Anything
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.—2 Corinthians 9:8
Since you are God’s son or daughter, He will take care of you and give you everything you need in Christ. Everything belongs to God, so He can provide all you need.
The Subject of Rejoicing
The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.
Your Father takes great delight in you. He doesn’t merely tolerate you; He rejoices in you! He throws a great celebration when you join His family. He will correct you when you do wrong, but that is so you will become more like Him.
Right with God
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.—2 Corinthians 5:21
Jesus made you right with God. You did nothing to earn what Jesus did for you. You take on His goodness and righteousness because He died for you, which means you are now in right standing with your Creator. You can approach God without fear, and you can also bring others to Him as His ambassador. God gives you the power to live right and invite others to become right with Him.
His Forgiven Child
…bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do.—Colossians 3:13
God has forgiven you. You are His child, and He does not hold your past sins against you. Since you have been forgiven, you have the power and responsibility to forgive others. If God has given grace to you, then He expects you to extend His grace to others.
Created for a Purpose
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.—Ephesians 2:10
You are not here by accident. God created you for a great purpose! He had plans for your life even before you were in your mother’s womb. Jesus has delivered you from sin through His sacrifice, and now you can walk with confidence and authority because you belong to Him. Your first responsibility is to know God and give glory to Him.
A New Creation
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.—2 Corinthians 5:17
God has made you a new creation in Jesus Christ. All the old ways of defining yourself are now gone, and your way of seeing the world has forever been changed. You are God’s friend, and He is yours. He knows you as a beloved child—not as a slave, sinner, or enemy. Jesus paid for your sin in full, and He restored you to your Creator.
These encouraging messages from Scripture ensure us that God loves us and that we belong to Him. While we can know these truths intellectually and trust the words of the Bible, I realize that sometimes we don’t always feel this in our hearts. That’s because we are humans and we are ruled by our emotions. Emotions are fickle and transitory. They can change day-to-day. But the Word of God is forever. It never changes.
I am looking forward to the moment of the Rapture when all doubt and fear disappear. At that moment, Jesus will speak to us clearly and directly. He will only need to tell us once who we are in Him, and we will believe Him!