Tag Archives: Rapture

If you like the “Left Behind” end times teachings, you may not like this post

And by “may not” I mean “definitely not.”  I updated this because I saw a Facebook thread that advanced the pre-tribulation rapture with a lot of bad arguments.  I was about to write a new post, then did a search and realized I had already done one!  I’m not sure if that is good because the work was already done or bad that I have such a poor memory.

I think it is valuable to understand the different orthodox interpretations of the book of Revelation.  But the most important thing is to ensure that you have trusted in Jesus for you salvation.  If you get run over by a bus today that will be your own “personal rapture,” in that you’ll be facing Jesus with your eternity already determined, one way or the other.

An agnostic friend used to have a bumper sticker that said, “Come the rapture, can I have your car?”  We had few things in common theologically but we both weren’t keen on the likelihood of the pre-tribulation rapture (that is, the teaching that Jesus will bring all believers to him before 7 years of his final return, thus avoiding a period of mayhem and intense persecution).  This is a sadly serious issue these days, what with Harold Camping’s claims a while back that brought such embarrassment to the church.  Such foolishness is un-biblical and is a distraction and embarrassment to Christianity.  Atheists had a field day mocking it, and who can blame them?

While I think we should be charitable about non-essential Christian beliefs, this is a teaching that can be harmful to people.  What does it do to someone’s faith when they think they’ll escape worldly persecution via the rapture and then it doesn’t happen?

Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason gives two good reasons why the pre-tribulation rapture is not what the Bible teaches.

The first observation I made was that this doctrine, the disappearance of the church seven years prior to the return of Christ, is not a doctrine that anyone in the history of the church ever held to until about 150 years ago. That was the first red flag. There might be justifiable explanations for that and some people make those explanations. But my question is, if the Bible teaches this, why didn’t anybody see it for almost 2000 years? All of the church fathers expected to see the Antichrist which would leave at least a mid-trib rapture. My suspicion was, the reason the church didn’t see it for 2000 years is because it wasn’t there. The information about the rapture actually came from a prophecy that was external to the Scriptures, the Plymouth Brethren prophecy. With that prophecy in place, people went back to the Scriptures and then began to see what they saw as hints of this doctrine in different passages.

It is technically possible that the church just got it wrong for 1,850 years, but it seems that the burden of proof is on those introducing a new theology.

More importantly, what does the Bible say?  Greg explains that  1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15, the two most commonly cited passages, give a time frame, and it isn’t pre-tribulation.

Let’s try to pull this together. It is very important for us to start from a foundation of an explicit Biblical teaching on this issue so that we can build from there and take what is really clear and then answer the other objections based on what we know to be true from the clear text. We have two passages that give, by all counts, an explicit description of what has been called the rapture. Both accounts tell when it is going to happen. They say it is going to happen at the coming of the Lord. That is our explicit foundation. Both describe it, both tell when. Now the question becomes, which coming of the Lord does the author here, Paul, have in mind?

Here is my answer. The second coming. Not the third coming, not the one-and-a-half coming. The passages call it the coming of the Lord. Not a coming. They call it the coming of the Lord. I don’t know how it can be made more clear. It is very straight-forward. What some want to do is bring a lot of theology from the outside and twist the plain sense of those words. They say, “Well, he’s coming in the air.” What does that have to do with anything? In both cases, Paul calls it the coming of the Lord. And he says, right after that, then comes the end. That’s the order. The writer of Hebrews says in Hebrews 9 “In as much as Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin to those who eagerly await him.” My point is that there are only two comings. The coming when Jesus accomplished the work of the cross, and the second coming.

And here is a simple explanation about Matthew 24, often cited by pre-Trib folks as a proof-text.

We read about the second coming in Matthew 24. That is a visible, powerful and conclusive coming. He says everyone will be able to see Him, right? Paul says these events that are called the rapture happen at the coming of the Lord and the coming of the Lord, according to Jesus, is visible and there is only one second coming. This falls together so neatly, I don’t know why it isn’t more obvious to more people.

Read the whole thing.

 

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The Book of Revelation in 5 easy minutes

I was listening to Revelation this week and thought I’d update this.  I added the last bullet and tweaked a few things.

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Revelation is one of the most challenging books in the Bible because of all the symbolism and imagery. There are divergent views within orthodox Christianity on how to interpret it, and what makes it more challenging is that there are some seriously smart, highly respected people in nearly every camp.

I don’t get too worked up about people in the orthodox camps, though I reject the pre-tribulation rapture of the Left Behind series.  Sadly, too many people read several thousand pages of that series yet haven’t read all the Bible or even all of Revelation.

I know enough about Bible prophecy that the prophecies will always be right, but some of them aren’t that simple to understand. But there are several important points from Revelation that are very clear:

  • God wins in the end, and 2nd place isn’t even close. If it were a movie, you’d ask for your money back because the fight scene was too short.
    • Revelation 20:7-10 When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.
  • Jesus has some strong messages for the church – see chapters 2 and 3.  Read those and ask if Jesus was being loving (Hint: He was, but not in the watered-down way people think of).  Which church do you think we are most like in the U.S. today?  I think it is Laodicea.
  • Jesus is coming back, and He is full of righteous anger. Justice will be served.
  • Heaven will be awesome (I try to only use the word awesome to describe God and Heaven, so I mean that in the most powerful sense).
  • There is a Heaven and there is a Hell. Everyone will spend eternity somewhere.
  • Satan isn’t in charge of Hell and won’t want to be there.  He and his demons will be sent there to be punished.
  • There is no 2nd chance to repent after death (also see Hebrews 9:27). When God’s final judgment is coming about the non-believers still don’t repent. They just curse God all the more. Those advancing the “2nd chance” argument ignore that often times rebels will willingly take the punishment rather than relinquish their pride (people who have raised children may be nodding their heads at that!).  Note these passages from chapter 16:
    • 8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and it was allowed to scorch people with fire. 9 They were scorched by the fierce heat, and they cursed the name of God who had power over these plagues. They did not repent and give him glory. 10 The fifth angel poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and its kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues in anguish 11 and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds.

Harold Camping, Al Gore and Barack Obama

I haven’t said much about the Harold Camping rapture thing because I always found him to be so transparently false, and so many bloggers were whaling on him rather thoroughly and deservedly.  The simple and timeless lesson is that people who actually read the Bible are far less likely to be duped by such things than those who just follow a personality.

It is sad that the media didn’t portray this incident that way.  I have no issue with them reporting on the story, but if they would have noted just how many Christians took him to task that would have been helpful.  I know a “few” Christians but can’t think of one that took Camping seriously.  But it is so easy for them to portray people like Camping or Democrat Fred Phelps as mainstream examples of Christianity (ever notice how the media always points out that Phelps is a “minister” but forgets to mention his political affiliation?).

What’s the Al Gore connection?  Al & Co. have peddled all sorts of distortions and falsehoods, just like Camping.  They profited greatly from it, just like Camping.  But the media isn’t exposing the lies of the global warming fraud and the hypocrisy of the movement’s leaders.

Also see The failed prediction that the mainstream media isn’t covering:

Community organizer Obama predicted that his $800 billion dollar stimulus program would keep unemployment below 8%:

. . .
Ooops! Never send a community organizer to do an economist’s job.

. . .

How about all that spending? Surely ALL the spending must have created more jobs?

Hans Bader of the Competitive Enterprise Institute links to a new study by two economics professors that shows that 550,000 jobs were LOSTbecause of the stimulus bill.

If you only get your news from the mainstream media and/or Lefty sources then you are sure to be woefully misinformed.