The Full Number Of Gentiles

Q. I have been listening to your MP-3 study on Mark and have been greatly blessed by it. But I have been thinking about some things you said in Part 7 about the Rapture not being a “timing thing” but rather a “numbers thing”. You said that Paul revealed the mystery that the rapture would not happen until the “full number of Gentiles has come in”, and you give the nautical reference about how a ship could not sail without the “full number” of crew. I understand this and agree with you but have this question.

A ship could not sail without the full number of crew because there wouldn’t be enough men to do the work needed on the ship. In your opinion is that what God is saying regarding the rapture as well? Could the “full number” of Gentiles be based on some task required in heaven or the new earth or something like that? I say this because it seems hard to fathom that the “full number” would refer to a point when the gospel was preached to every person on earth. The earth’s population is continually turning over (if you will) so how would/could that point be reached? But likewise it is hard for me to fathom that a certain number would be reached and then “the ship would sail” so to speak and some would be left behind. True, they could still be saved during the tribulation but just without the benefit of the holy spirit or grace that the Church enjoys. I am interested in your thoughts regarding this.

A. People were saved before the Church was born and there will be people saved after we’ve gone. The Church is simply one classification of believers. And as you’ve pointed out, no matter when the Lord takes us there will be those who are left behind. We won’t be taken because there’s a job awaiting us or because we’re more worthy. We’ll be taken because there’s a predetermined number of people in the Church and when that number is reached, the church’s days on earth are over. The nautical analogy Paul used was only to establish the concept of a predetermined number. Taking it beyond that conflicts with the idea that at the Rapture, the Church’s work is finished.

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