The Tragic Divorce of Our “Blessed Hope” from the Gospel By Jonathan C. Brentner Somewhere…
The Church Against the Rapture
By Jack Kelley
When the Christian community gets united behind something we’re a force to be reckoned with. The 2004 Presidential election was a good example. Many of those 35 million extra votes George Bush got were from Evangelical Christians. Sadly, things like that don’t happen very often anymore. Even 9/11 didn’t produce any long term change toward unifying the Body. But try to imagine this if you can. Imagine how different this country would be today if all Christians held a Christian world view, were convinced that the Lord was coming back for us very soon, and were living their lives accordingly. Can you even begin to see the difference we’d be making? It would be amazing. America would be compared to the Israel of Solomon’s day.
To prevent the tremendous effect we would have for good, the enemy has implemented a divide and conquer strategy. He knows that as long as he can keep the Body of Christ fractured he can keep us weak. Over the years, he’s mounted a number of campaigns to implement this strategy. Gifts vs. no gifts, the inerrancy issue, and the proper method of interpretation come to mind. But one of his most successful efforts has been to take advantage of the fact that for His own reasons, God has chosen to keep the Rapture’s timing a secret.
The clues He’s given us point to our departure happening prior to the beginning of Daniel’s 70th Week. But right from the beginning Satan influenced Church leaders to conclude that denying the pre-trib pre millennial view would keep us focused on the things of this world instead of always looking up, waiting for the Lord. So even though Paul very clearly taught a pre-trib rapture of the Church, and John revealed a 1000 year Kingdom to follow it, alternate views have sprung up almost continuously since then.
Take Your Pick
Amillennialism came along in the early 400’s to teach believers not to expect any literal Kingdom, ever. It told believers that the 2nd Coming took place when Jesus came into their hearts, that the Church Age is the Millennium and that end times prophecy is not meant to be taken literally. This removed a major obstacle to having Christianity recognized by Rome.
Post millenialism taught that the 2nd Coming would take place after the 1000 year millennium which is really a golden age of Christian prosperity and dominance in the world. The prosperity gospel and Dominion theology are offshoots of post-millennialism.
The Post Tribulation Rapture view denied the doctrine of imminence by placing the Rapture after the Tribulation. Look for the anti-Christ, it says, not the Christ. Mid-Trib (aka Pre-Wrath) is a compromise between the pre and post trib views that denies imminence as well. Replacement Theology was to deny that the re-birth of Israel is an end times sign. Preterism denies all future prophetic events. Kingdom Now, or Dominionism, contends that the Lord can’t come back until we’ve done our part by converting the world. As a result of Dominionism millions of believers have been looking all their lives for a great revival that’s never coming, instead of looking for the Lord, who is.
The combined effect of all this is that most believers have been lulled to sleep with no clue as to how close we are to the End of the Age. While prophecies that Christians have been anticipating for nearly 2000 years are being fulfilled right before their eyes, they’re more concerned about the long term mortgages on their homes and the interest free financing on their cars. Having sufficient retirement income far outweighs stockpiling treasure in heaven on their list of priorities. Their endless quest for bigger and better toys distracts them from the boredom of lives that have been rendered meaningless, without purpose. False teaching about the End Times has left them ignorant of the closeness of the Lord’s return and complacent about their faith. It has stolen their joy, quenched their spirit, and made them no better off spiritually than the unbelievers who surround us. They sometimes get fired up on Sunday, but by mid-week you’d never know it happened.
Here’s what that means. According to recent surveys in the USA, less than 10% of born-again believers have a Christian world view. That means over 90% of us have been seduced into a pursuit of the same materialistic goals as our unbelieving neighbors. Over 40% have never given the first dime to the Lord’s work. Even more have never shared the Gospel with anyone. Some studies show that the abortion rate among Christians is the same as for unbelievers, as is the divorce rate, and two out of three of our children will stop going to church the minute they have a choice.
I lay most of the blame for this at the feet of so-called theologians who’ve let themselves be influenced by Satan while charged with the responsibility of teaching the Word of God. Remember, Paul’s words to the Corinthians:
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. (2 Cor. 11:13-15)
Knowingly or not, these people have bought into Satan’s lies and have taught those entrusted to them that God’s word isn’t true.
The Greatest Generation
What the secular media calls America’s greatest generation, those who fought and won WW2, is also the generation that sat in the pews of the great denominational churches of the 40’s and 50’s. There they were taught that God didn’t create the Heavens and the Earth in 6 days and Moses didn’t write the Torah. Daniel didn’t write Daniel, Isaiah didn’t write Isaiah, Jesus didn’t feed 5000 or walk on water, and on and on. To make God small enough to fit in their minds the denominational theologians made Him too small to meet our needs. Amillennialism became their eschatology of choice because with a God that small it was easy to believe that nothing was ever going to happen. He isn’t really going to return, they say, and even if he does it certainly won’t be now. Some were actually saying that he had died. Because of their teaching, millions of Christians are asleep at the switch during the most important and exciting time in the history of man.
It’s not because prophecy has ever failed, it’s because like the Saducees before them, the theologians stopped believing it and so the teachers stopped teaching it. Jesus addressed this in his letter to the Church at Sardis, a model of the mainline denominations. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. (Rev. 3:3) The Saducees missed the chance to be on the Lord’s team at the time of the first coming because they stopped believing the prophecies. Liberal theologians and their students are missing the 2nd one for the same reason.
Now another great attack against End Times prophecy has come in the name of the Emerging Church. Leaders of this movement don’t teach the Bible much at all because their success is based on saying nothing that could offend the people in their pews. Consequently there’s no talk of being born again or getting ready for the Lord’s return. They talk of being followers of the Lord not just believers in Him, but in truth there’s very little discussion of what either means. Their pews and their bank accounts are full, and their members are kept busy with projects that often do a lot of Earthly good but aren’t designed to bring any one any closer to the Kingdom. The study of prophecy is viewed as non productive and a distraction from their goals, one of which is to strive for a 50/50 split in their membership between believers and non-believers. The reason for this is that the non-believers can help to form a consensus that will draw the believers away from the moral and spiritual absolutes of traditional Christianity. As with the revival seeking Charismatics there is a thread of dominionism running through the emerging Church’s doctrine. It helps keep them focused on the things of this world.
Which One Are You?
So the liberals are amillennial and couldn’t tell a rapture from a rupture. Pentecostal, charismatic, and emerging congregations are often dominionists, although for different reasons. Catholics and some conservative protestants are post-trib. Almost all have been tainted by replacement theology, and hardly any study prophecy. That leaves the evangelicals and even among us there’s growing disagreement.
It’s popular to just smile and say of the protestant church, “On the essentials of salvation we all agree, but in the non-essentials there’s room for lots of different opinions.” Baloney. The Bible is not a document written to provide a debating society with lots of different positions. It’s the Word of God and it’s not subject to man’s opinion. Though we may not like it all, we don’t have the right to re-interpret it to suit our desires.
But while we sit around arguing about what it says, the world is falling apart and the time is getting short. The Lord’s coming back and 90% of the Church is distracted by the world and doesn’t have a clue it’s about to happen.
God said, “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please … what I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.” (Isaiah 46:10-11) It’s not that He’s stopped performing on this promise, it’s just that most of the Church has stopped believing it and no longer expects it.
Of the 5 crowns believers can win as rewards for the way they live, one will be given to those who long for His appearing. (2 Tim. 4:8) It has always fascinated me that it’s called the Crown of Righteousness. Most folks would think that one would go to those who led exemplary lives. Not so. Our righteousness is imputed to us by faith. Longing for His return is a sign of faith in His promise that He will. (John 14:1-3) I wonder how many of those they’ll be handing out.