It was the ancient Prophet Amos who famously forewarned God’s chosen people: “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion” (Amos 6:1). According to Amos, the people of God were in desperate need of shaking themselves out of the complacency of their false security and readying themselves for the upcoming and unavoidable catastrophe of God’s approaching judgment. Unfortunately, the people of God today are once again at ease in Zion; that is, at ease in the church, see Hebrews 12:18-24. Today’s parishioners sit in church pews and their pastors stand in church pulpits clad in the complacency of their false security, totally impervious to the upcoming and unavoidable catastrophe of God’s approaching judgment.
The source of the contemporary church’s false security is twofold. First, there is the naive belief that our government is bound to be our guardian and perpetual protector rather than actually poised to become our greatest persecutor. Second, there is the relatively novel notion that the church is to be secretly snatched up into the safety of Heaven before it stumps its toe on any end-time tribulation. Prior to the year 1830, this relatively novel notion—the secret rapture of the Christian church—was unheard of in all of Christian history. However, it is erroneously believed by the lion’s share of today’s evangelicals to be a cardinal tenet of the Christian Faith that dates back to the time of the New Testament.
Does the Bible really teach that today’s carnal Christians and so-called churches, with their mile-wide and inch-deep spirituality, are to be secretly and safely snatched up into Heaven before feeling the slightest heat from the smallest flame of the refining fires of divine chastisement? A search for a single Scriptural prooftext to substantiate this foolish and false doctrine will prove to be an exercise in futility. Indeed, it will lead one, much to their chagrin, to the inevitable conclusion that the church is not to be spared from end-time judgment, but that end-time judgment is to begin in the church (1 Peter 4:17).
The Bible repeatedly teaches us that judgment is two-sided. On one side, it serves as the ruination of sinners; on the other side, it serves to refine the saints. According to Scripture, end-time judgment will be used by God to purge and purify the church, so that it will be prepared, like a properly adorned bride, for her Bridegroom’s coming (Revelation 21:2). In case you’ve not noticed, the old hag we’ve been calling church doesn’t even remotely resemble the glorious church described by Scripture for which Christ will return (Ephesians 5:17). Therefore, like a refiner of silver, Christ will hold His church in the refining fires of end-time judgment until she is purged, purified, and prepared for His Coming (Malachi 3:3).