“In case you miss the rapture, don’t receive the mark of the beast!” So began a tract that I once saw. Walk into nearly any Christian bookstore in the United States, and the Left Behind craze immediately seizes you. Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins have captivated the professing Christian world with their vivid novels depicting life after a rapture of the church. But will there be such a thing? Do the scriptures support such a view of the end times?
Thank God, we do not have to read those tracts and novels to find out. We need only consult the Word of God for the answers. The Bible sets forth the following premises concerning the second coming of Christ:
It will not happen in secret. “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” Rev. 1:7.
It effects the resurrection of the dead, and then the ascension of the living saints. “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [precede] them which are asleep [the dead]. 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.” 1 Thess. 4:15-17.
The unrighteous dead are raised at the same time. “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” Jn. 5:28-29.
The wicked will be judged on the same day. “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power, when he shall come to be glorified in his saints and to be admired in all them that believe…in that day.” 2 Thess. 1:7-10.
Jesus compared His second coming with the circumstances surrounding the stories of Noah and Lot (Luke 17:26-30). The judgment came upon the earth in the same day that Noah entered the ark, and upon Sodom the same day that Lot departed.
The end of the world occurs at the same time. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up…the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat…” 2 Pet. 3:10, 12.
It is amazing, in the light of the plain teachings of the Word of God, that a false apocalyptic worldview has so wholly taken hold of the religious world. The dangers of the modern rapturist view are apparent for the following reasons:
It gives a false hope to sinners that they will have a “second chance” to be saved. Nothing could be more apparently set forth by the doctrine than this principle. The teaching of a secret rapture and subsequent tribulation, millennium, etc., is perfectly detrimental to the urgency of the gospel message, “Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Cor. 6:2.
Anyone who holds to the teaching of a secret rapture and tries to evangelize is familiar with the obvious problem it presents to his message. If sinners are made to believe they will have a second chance, why give up their wickedness now? “Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.” Eccl. 8:11. Those who preach rapturism further the hardness and impenitence of sinners.
It encourages a lack of zeal and evangelism. The editor of a holiness paper recently blamed their loss of the spiritual revival and zeal on their acceptance of such end-time falsities as the rapture, millennium, etc. His observation is not without a good deal of merit. A worldview that incorporates a second-chance theory is not conducive to the urgency needed for evangelism. Many religious groups are becoming closed-in, with little or no motivation to reach out and win the lost.
It fosters a belief that is not scriptural. This being so, it eclipses the truth regarding the end times, and is in open contradiction of the Word of God. It is used as a prop to support other theological errors, such as a great tribulation, millennium, etc. Thus, it keeps souls from understanding the true meaning of the scriptures and their responsibility thereto.
In the light of the soon coming of Christ, and the awful responsibility we have to warn sinners, we beseech every one to search the scriptures and know the truth. There will be no second chance. Let everyone prepare now, as “that day” is certainly upon us.