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We’ve covered a lot in this series of articles and I pray that it has been informative and helpful for you. We looked at what Jesus meant by “this generation” and showed that there is no other valid way to interpret it than referring to the generation in Jesus’s day. We also saw that the “end of the age” he was speaking about was the Jewish Old Covenant age. We demonstrated that all the signs of the end of the age, the persecution, wars, famine, earthquakes, etc. had all happened leading up to 70 AD. Even the Abomination of Desolation and Great Tribulation can be historically confirmed as happening within this time period. Lastly, we saw that the cosmic deconstruction language of stars, moon, and sun being blacked out is from OT prophetic judgment language and that there were indeed some ominous and peculiar signs in the sky during this time period. All of these things confirm that Jesus was a true prophet, and what he said would happen to “this generation” indeed did occur in that generation.
However, all of this goes in contradiction to the popular view of the End Times in a lot of contemporary Evangelicalism. Many are simply unaware that these are historical positions that have been held for far longer than their more novel tradition of interpretation.
In this article, we tackle the hot topic of the Rapture. This Dispensational teaching has captured the imaginations of multitudes of believers today who await a snatching away of believers just before the Great Tribulation (Pre-Trib). This teaching is popularized by many famous Evangelical pastors, authors and leaders such as David Jeremiah, Tim LaHaye, John Hagee, John MacArthur, Dave Hunt, David Wilkerson, John Walvoord, Charles Ryrie, among many others. As recent events of the war between Russia and Ukraine broke out, many were speculating about whether this was the end. Yet, is this view correct?
I remember reading and watching the Left Behind novels and movies that depicted planes falling out of the sky and cars crashing as Christians were raptured out of the world, leaving behind only their shoes and clothing. Yet for some reason I guess they took their undies… haha! In youth group, we’d make up skits about the Rapture happening and unbelievers being left behind bewildered and devastated that they missed it. This makes for gripping and great imaginative fiction for sure! Matthew 24:36-44 is one of the most popular “Rapture proof-texts”. I’ve often heard Christians today expressing their anticipation to be “raptured” out of this world as things get worse or speculating about whether or not this generation would be the last. However, I believe that they are severely misguided as were many in the past.
History has a long list of failed predictors of the end times.
Perhaps one of the earliest (though not a “Rapture” prediction in the modern sense) were the 2nd Century heretical group called the Montanists which began in Phrygia (modern-day Turkey). Their leader, Montanus, claimed to have revelations from God that Christ’s Second Coming to end history would be imminent. Obviously, he was wrong. Novatian and Donatus in the third and fourth centuries were false end-times prophets who were later branded as heretics. When Rome was sacked by the Vandals in the 5th century, people thought it was the beginning of the end. This continued onto the turn of the first millennium as the last days of the year 999 AD approached, many flooded St. Peter’s in Rome, weeping and hysterical as they awaited the end of the world. It didn’t happen. Similar mistaken prophetic hysteria about the end of the world happened again at 1100, 1200, and 1245 AD. The start of the Inquisition (1209-1244) and the Black Death (Bubonic Plague) which wiped out a third to almost half of Europe’s population in the 14th century were also thought to be the sign of the end. It wasn’t. Yet people still continued to speculate. Melchior Hofmann in 1531 announced that the Second Coming would take place in 1533, and Nicholas Cusa predicted that the world would end before 1734. The earthquake of 1755 in Lisbon and the French Revolution both were also claimed to be “signs of the times”. Yet, we’re still here plodding along and every new prophecy “expert” assures us that “sure, they were wrong, but it’ll be different with us!”
In the 1800s, William Miller was an end-times preacher who predicted the second coming in 1843. He gained as many as 100,000 followers who believed they would be ‘raptured’ to heaven when the day arrived. When his prediction failed, Miller recalculated to 1844 which also failed. The Seventh Day Adventist Church formed out of the Millerite movement and also has some unorthodox views of the end times. Mikkel Dahl predicted in his book, The Midnight Cry that the present era would end by 1980. Reginald Edward Duncan predicted that the Millennium would begin in 1979 with the Russian invasion of America and Emil Gaverluk of the Southwest Radio Church predicted that the rapture would occur by 1981. All of these were also wrong. There are more recent examples as well. Gary North wrote of Edgar C. Whisenant,
“whose best-selling two-part book announced in the summer of 1988 that Jesus would surely appear to rapture His church during Rosh Hashanah week in mid-September. Half the book was called On Borrowed Time. The other was more aptly titled, 88 Reasons why the Rapture is in 1988. I can think of one key argument why his book’s thesis was incorrect, no rapture so far, and it is now February, 1989. So much for all 88 arguments.” (Gary North in Gentry, Beast of Revelation, preface, xix)
Even more recently and infamously, Harold Camping made major news headlines with his Rapture predictions in 2011. ABC News reported:
“When the appointed hour for the Rapture to begin in New York, the skies did darken a little — but all that followed was a drizzling rain that soon passed.Nothing like what Harold Camping and his followers said they believed would occur… ‘I am utterly absolutely, absolutely convinced it’s going to happen,’ said Harold Camping, the 89-year-old evangelist and president of Family Radio whose biblical calculations have ignited Rapture fever across America.”
Camping’s predicted time of May 21 at 5:59 PM EST came and went without much fuss. He had spent a lot of money on over 5,000 billboards, posters, fliers and bus displays across America. However, Camping did not learn his lesson. He again predicted the Rapture for October, 2011 which was likewise a failure. In all, Camping predicted the Rapture and end of the world at least 12 times during his lifetime. He became a laughingstock to the secular media and unfortunately dragged Evangelical Christianity along with him through the mud.
Other popular Dispensational figures like John Hagee have attempted to make end-times predictions. Hagee in 2005 wrote in his book, Jerusalem Countdown: A Warning to the World, which sold over a million copies, that the Antichrist would be the head of the European Union. In 2015 he stirred a craze with his blood moon predictions concerning a major financial crisis and that “something dramatic” would happen in the Middle East that would impact the world. His preaching has featured the Rapture prominently. All of his predictions have failed yet he still retains a significant audience.
The famous best-selling modern end-times author, Hal Lindsey, had predicted that the Rapture and end would have happened in 1988 – because it was 40 years after Israel became a nation in 1948. His book – The Late Great Planet Earth – sold more than 25 million copies and continues to sell. It was one of the major books that popularized this belief about the imminent Rapture. Lindsey wrote in his book, The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon, that “The decade of the 1980s could very well be the last decade of history as we know it.” And, in an interview with Christianity Today in 1977, he said, “I didn’t ask to be a hero, but I guess I have become one in the Christian community. So I accept it. But if I’m wrong about this, I guess I’ll become a bum.” Well… how’d that work out? Apparently, Lindsey wasn’t done polishing his crystal ball. He later revised his theory to say, “I feel certain that it will take place before the year 2000.” Still waiting.
Francis X. Gummerlock, in his book The Day and the Hour: Christianity’s Perennial Fascination with Predicting the End of the World catalogues more than a thousand false predictions over the past two thousand years! People have tried predicting everything from the identity of the antichrist to the date of Christ’s coming. Even now on my Facebook feed, there are several people looking at current world events saying that “the end is near”. Two things which are common to all of these would-be End Times predictors are that they were all sure of their predictions, and they were all proven wrong. There’s a biblical term for these phony end-time predictors who are proven wrong – false prophets.
Such would-be end-time doomsday prophets have always brought shame upon Christianity, yet their prominence on “Christian” television stations, books and media make their erroneous teachings spread exponentially. Their believers and followers somehow pass over their failed predictions and buy into the excitement of their next latest newspaper eisegesis. Dr. Greg Bahnsen comments rightly, “The newspaper has no prerogative to challenge God’s word of truth. Nor do those who read the newspapers.” Many of these people are genuine, God-loving, Bible-believing Christians who have been deceived by this erroneous teaching. Yet skeptics look at these failed predictions and interpretations and can say, “if they were wrong on something big like this which they were so sure about, then why trust them about what they’re so sure about with respect to salvation and the Gospel?”
It’s truly something every Christian must seriously consider for the sake of their witness to the watching world.
The Origin of the Rapture Doctrine
While the history is a bit murky, Barbara Rossing quotes one critic that the Rapture had its origins with a fifteen-year-old girl—Margaret MacDonald, in 1830 in Port Glasgow, Scotland at a healing service—who had a vision of a two-stage return of Christ. This was adopted and amplified by John Nelson Darby who founded the Plymouth Brethren. (Rossing, The Rapture Exposed, p. 23) Darby, together with Scofield and others helped to popularize the belief within Evangelical circles of the 19th century. Prior to Darby, no Christian in over 1800 years of church history believed in a Rapture. Even Dispensationalists have to admit this fact that, “It is scarcely to be found in a single book or sermon through the period of 1600 years! If any doubt this statement, let them search…” (H.A. Ironside, The Mysteries of God, p. 50) Thus, this belief in the Rapture is a fairly novel invention, not originally based in sound and thorough exegesis but rather fanciful speculation.
Prior to this period, American evangelicals were overwhelmingly Postmillennial – the inheritance of their Puritan forefathers. However, after the two World Wars, the Great Depression, the Cold War and growing tensions in the Middle East, it provided fertile grounds for this pessimistic eschatological system to take root.
The new hope for people was that as things go from bad to worse in our world, it was a signal that the church would be raptured and rescued from experiencing the worst of it. When Israel became a state in 1948, this only served to strengthen the Dispensationalists’ beliefs in their reading of biblical prophecy. Since then, newspaper exegesis has been the order of the day, with many Dispensational Christians trying to decipher what news headlines fit into their timeline of eschatological events leading up to the sudden Rapture of believers.
However, if we want to be faithful to the text, we must examine what it meant in context and to the original audience. What should determine our beliefs is “what do the scriptures say?” As we finish off this series in Matthew 24, we’ll look primarily at the verses in this chapter that are used as a Rapture “proof-text” and then briefly consider some others.
36 “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37 For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39 and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. 42 Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
As in the Days of Noah (v. 36-41)
Jesus says that, “concerning that day and hour no one knows.” Futurists believe that the “day” he is referring to is his Final Coming in glory. However, as we’ve seen in previous articles, Jesus’s predictions up to this point in the chapter have all been concerning his coming in judgment upon Jerusalem which happened in 70 AD. (If you missed those articles, please go back and read them) The topic of this discourse has not changed, and he’s still on the same subject. There is no reason to believe that Jesus has suddenly switched topics. Thus, “that day” is the day of judgment upon apostate Israel in the first century.
His disciples had asked “when shall these things be” (v.3), Jesus replied to them telling them that “this generation” (meaning his contemporaries in those days) will not pass away before they happened and he described what signs will signal the nearness of these events (v.4-35). As we saw in previous articles, “this generation” means the generation which was alive at the time of Christ. There was no more straightforward way of interpreting this term and those who try to make it mean some generation in the future have to twist the text. However, Jesus did not give them a specific date or time. He simply states that it will happen within “this generation” and that no one knows the exact day and hour. Thus, for the Christians in the First Century, this would have kept them on their toes and on the lookout for all the signs that Jesus gave to warn them of Jerusalem’s impending destruction.
Jesus then uses the analogy of Noah to illustrate how this judgment day would come. In Noah’s day, life went on as usual – eating, drinking and marrying (v.38). Life also went along as usual in Jerusalem prior to its destruction. In Noah’s day, the Flood was God’s judgment upon wicked humanity who had scorned Noah’s preaching. Jerusalem’s judgment would also come like a flood upon the unbelieving Jews who had persecuted Christians and scorned their message.
Who Was Left Behind?
Here’s a point that many Dispensational believers misinterpret.
In the story of Noah, who were the people who were swept away in judgment? (v.39) The wicked or the righteous? Obviously the wicked. So then, who were the ones who were left behind? The wicked or the righteous? The righteous. This is Jesus’s analogy and the key to interpreting what he says next.
Jesus gives two examples. When the judgment comes, “two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left.” (v.40-41) The popular Dispensational interpretation of these verses has been that it refers to the Rapture – the ones “taken” are the Christians, taken up to be with the Lord. However, if the analogy Jesus is using is from the story of Noah, then the ones who are left behind are the righteous and the ones being taken are taken in judgment! As it was in Noah’s day, the wicked were taken/swept away with the Flood while the righteous remained. Thus, the Dispensational interpretation actually gets this passage flipped backward. Commentator Matthew Henry (1662-1714) notes,
“As the flood took away the sinners of the old world, irresistibly and irrecoverably; so shall secure sinners, that mocked at Christ and his coming, be taken away by the wrath of the Lamb, when the great day of his wrath comes, which will be like the coming of the deluge, a destruction which there is no fleeing from.” (Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible, p. 1744)
Furthermore, Dispensational interpreters pride themselves in being “literalists” – they take the Bible literally to build their eschatological system. However, they are inconsistent and convenient literalists. We can see how someone today may be caught out in a field, but who today grinds at a mill? Is this not more appropriate for the first-century context in Jerusalem that Jesus spoke to?
Dr. Gary DeMar comments,
“Many futurists claim that the phrase “took them all away” (Matt. 24:39) refers to a rapture that is still in our future. On the contrary. “In the context of 24:37–39, ‘taken’ presumably means ‘taken to judgment’ (cf. Jer. 6:11 NASB, NRSV).” (Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, p. 115) The phrase ties the judgment of the world in Noah’s day with the judgment of the Jews’ world in Israel’s day that took place with the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the temple.” (Gary DeMar, Is the Rapture Found in Matthew 24?, online)
This passage is not talking about a Rapture yet to come, but rather refers to the suddenness of the judgment that would befall the wicked in Jerusalem in that first-century generation who rejected Christ. We’ve covered in our previous article the severity of that judgment that befell the unbelieving Jews in Jerusalem in 70 AD as recorded in history.
Be Watchful (v.42-44)
Jesus’s solemn warning to his disciples was to motivate them to watchfulness and zealous witness and faithfulness, for “you do not know on what day your Lord is coming”. (v.42) His coming in judgment on Jerusalem was impending, and Christ had given them all the signs they needed to look out for to escape with their lives from it. They were to be “ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Indeed, as we have seen in this series, this is the testimony of history that it was the Christians who escaped Jerusalem’s fate at the hands of the Roman armies only because of their Lord’s warnings. Meanwhile, the unbelieving Jews who rejected him as their Messiah were taken away in judgment. The fulfillment of Jesus’s predictions in the events leading up to the Temple’s destruction in 70 AD are well documented and give compelling evidence that Matthew 24:3-44 has already occurred – proving Jesus to be a true Prophet, God’s Messiah and the Risen King of kings.
Is there any Biblical support?
One of the remarkable things about this doctrine of the Rapture is that there is not a single verse in all of scripture to support it! Even popular Dispensational authors like Tim LaHaye have to admit this:
“One objection to the pre-Tribulation Rapture is that no one passage of Scripture teaches the two aspects of His Second Coming separated by the Tribulation. This is true. But then, no one passage teaches a post-trib or mid-trib Rapture, either.” (LaHaye, No Fear of the Storm, p. 69)
This should be a shocking admission! Marvin Rosenthal critiques John Walvoord’s (former professor and president of Dallas Theological Seminary) book The Rapture Question and writes,
“Not once, among fifty arguments, does this godly Christian leader cite one biblical text that explicitly teaches pretribulation rapturism – not once. This was not an oversight. The reason for the omission of any pretribulation Rapture text is clear. There are none… There simply is no explicit exegetical evidence for pretribulation rapturism.” (Rosenthal, The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church, p. 280)
Even though there is not one explicit verse to support the position, millions of Bible-believing Evangelicals hold to this system with unbending tenacity.
Other Rapture “Proof-texts”
One of the things which happens to try to “prove” the belief in the Rapture is confusing texts which refer to the general resurrection of the dead and apply them instead to “the rapture”. Some Dispensational advocates like Dave Hunt say that Christ’s promise to take believers to heaven is in reference to the Rapture. They confuse the Christian’s Blessed Hope of the resurrection with their doctrine of the Rapture. However, the rapture is not the Blessed Hope. Instead, Paul says in Philippians 1:21 that our Blessed Hope is the hope that when Christians die they will go to heaven to be with the Lord. His whole argument of the Blessed Hope in 1 Corinthians 15 is not about the Rapture, but rather the resurrection. Paul’s goal was not to attain to the Rapture, but to “attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil. 3:11).
The “blessed hope” which believers were waiting for in Titus 2:13 was the appearing of the glory of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ. Note that it was not the physical appearance of Jesus which was in view in this verse, but rather the appearing of his glory. It was Christ’s glory which appeared and was put on display in the events of the First Century. This happened as the Old Covenant age (which had a lesser glory) faded away and the New Covenant age (with even more glory) was established. This is exactly what Paul taught in 2 Corinthians 3:9-11,
For if there was glory in the ministry of condemnation, the ministry of righteousness must far exceed it in glory. Indeed, in this case, what once had glory has come to have no glory at all, because of the glory that surpasses it. For if what was being brought to an end came with glory, much more will what is permanent have glory.
In this text, Paul is clearly speaking of the passing away of the old order – the Old Covenant age with the Temple and sacrificial system – which was being replaced by the New Covenant age in Christ which has a much greater glory.
Is that really talking about the “Rapture”?
One of the problems with those who hold to a Dispensational interpretation is that they must first presuppose the validity of their theory (which doesn’t have a single proof-text to support it), in order to then interpret the scriptures according to their preconceived notion. We must consider when looking at proof-texts whether it is self-evident that these texts clearly teach a pre-trib rapture where the Church is taken off the earth before a Great Tribulation. We’ll take a look briefly at a few Rapture “proof-texts”.
After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”
Even John Walvoord, a commited believer in the rapture, has to admit about this verse, “It is clear from the context that this is not an explicit reference to the Rapture of the church, as John was not actually translated [raptured]; in fact, he was still in his natural body on the island of Patmos.” This verse has to do with what John experienced during his prophetic visions in the book of Revelation. Not a Rapture of the Church.
However, some will make the argument that because the word “church” is not used after chapter 4 in the book of Revelation until the last chapters, that this means that the Church has been Raptured. Yet this is an argument from silence! Word counting is not a valid method of exegesis. Think about it,
“The church is not mentioned as such in Mark, Luke, John, 2 Timothy, Titus, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, or Jude, and not until chapter 16 of Romans. Unless we are prepared to relegate large chunks of the NT to a limbo of irrelevance to the Church, we cannot make the mention or omission of the term ‘church’ a criterion for determining the applicability of a passage to saints of the present age.” (Gundry, The Church and the Tribulation, p. 78)
So, simply because the book of Revelation does not mention the Church specifically in a certain portion does not automatically mean that the Church has been raptured. Especially when there is no verse in Revelation that clearly teaches that! Also, the book was written to the churches – so why would John have to continuously address them when he already assumed they’d be reading it. We must not divorce Revelation from its First Century context if we want to be good Bible interpreters.
1 Thessalonians 4:16-17
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.
This is perhaps another of the most popular Rapture proof-texts. However, this text refers to the general resurrection of the saints at the Second Coming. It simply says that the “dead in Christ” will be raised first – that is, before those who are alive are caught up to meet Christ in the air as he descends to earth. There is no mention of the church being raptured before a period of Great Tribulation. Neither does the text say that the Lord will reverse directions to go back to heaven with the saints for seven years. All of those things must be assumed and read into the text.
If we read the plain meaning of the text, it simply says that Christians alive at the time of Christ’s Final Coming will be caught up to meet him in the clouds as he descends in glory. This reflects a common practice in the ancient world where the people of a city would go out to meet their victorious general and the army as they rode into the town in glory. Note also how the text ends. It says, “and so we will always be with the Lord.” It does not say, and so we shall be in the clouds/heaven with the Lord for seven years during the Great Tribulation until he comes back again for the 1000-year earthly reign. It simply ushers in the eternal state of believers with their Lord.
1 Corinthians 15:22-26
For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
This passage is important to our discussion. Here Paul makes the clear case that after the resurrection at the Final Coming of Christ, “then comes the end.” That’s it. No Rapture and a seven-year period in-between. One would expect that if the Rapture was important to Christian eschatology, Paul would have mentioned it in this chapter where he writes one of his most extended teachings on the resurrection. Yet there is no discussion of the Rapture, nor a Great Tribulation, nor an earthly millennial reign of Christ before the eternal state. The only way to fit these things into these verses is to stuff a “gap theory” (which has no argumentation from the text itself). And this is exactly what most Dispensational teachers do without any exegetical argument for it. Yet Jesus himself confirms that both believers and unbelievers are resurrected at the same time in John 5:28-29 and not separated by a thousand years.
Note also, this happens after Jesus has destroyed every rule, authority and power and has put all his enemies under his feet. This speaks of the unstoppable advance of His Kingdom in the world over time. If you think carefully about the chronology that this verse is teaching us, the last enemy to be destroyed will be death. This means that every other enemy must be destroyed first. Yet in some people’s eschatology, the first enemy to be destroyed is death and then those other enemies have to be taken care of. However, this is not what the Bible teaches us. Christ’s Kingdom will advance through the Church and Hell’s gates won’t ultimately stand against it (Matt. 16:18) because he has given us his power and presence to complete the mission of discipling all the nations and bringing them to obedience to him (Matt. 28:18-20). Thus, in the long run we can expect that every enemy of Christ will gradually be defeated as he reigns now until he comes back at the end to deliver the kingdom to God, put away death and usher in the eternal state.
This is a very optimistic outlook for the long-term success of the Church and the spread of Christ’s Kingdom!
Working Towards A Hopeful Future
I hope that this series of expositions of Matthew 24 in these articles has at least shown that this passage cannot be used to support these beliefs. Although Dispensational eschatology can lead many Christians to be pessimistic about hopes for cultural transformation in these hard times, the truth is that the Great Tribulation of Matthew 24 (which has been misinterpreted to give this dour outlook of the future) actually refers to events now past. The fact that it has already been fulfilled should bolster our confidence that Jesus is who he said he is and accomplished what he said he would.
The call to be watchful and urgent about the work of the Kingdom extends to us today also. Although the Great Tribulation of Matthew 24 is past to us, there still remains work to do. Jesus has commissioned us to make disciples of all the nations! This is a huge task. Nations are more than just individuals. Nations involve cultures, languages, laws, civil government, education, arts, economics, and every other area of public society. We must disciple them and bring them into obedience to all His commands (Matthew 28:18-20). This necessarily involves the work of cultural transformation through the power of the Gospel of the Kingdom and the application of God’s Law-Word to every area of life. We should not have an escapist mentality that abandons this world to the enemy or sees efforts at cultural transformation as “polishing brass on a sinking ship”.
Bad eschatology has consequences. Even for the one who has not fully thought out their eschatological position, it necessarily affects how we live our lives in light of our future orientation. I know of Christians who hold off having kids because they think that the Great Tribulation is coming and the world is going to end in their generation. How does that benefit the future if Christians decide not to have and raise kids to be the next faithful generation? If we have a pessimistic outlook that things are fated to get worse and that work to transform the culture is ultimately futile – it will affect our expectations and becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because the salt has lost its saltiness. Some Christians who believe in Dispensational eschatology are so committed to losing – believing that ultimately, Christ’s church will lose in the culture and become weak, failing, apostate, and ineffective. This is a far stretch from the glorious image of the Church and her mission in scripture!
For others who believe the end is near, they may not plan for future generations, to leave an inheritance, or work for lasting change because “it’s all going to burn up anyway.” However, if we see Jesus’s words in Matthew 24 as already fulfilled, it gives us confidence that his word is sure and thus we can trust the promise of his power and presence with us as we seek to disciple all the nations. What sense does it make for Jesus to back his Church up with all authority in heaven and on earth with the promise of his presence every step of the way (Matt. 28:18-20) only to expect failure?
The Dispensational belief about a rapture should be “Left Behind” and instead we should embrace what Jesus predicted in Matthew 24 and was fulfilled in 70 AD. As the former Left Behind star, Kirk Cameron has said, “Their attitude (the Puritans) was not ‘uh-oh the beast and the Antichrist is here… let’s just keep our heads down and wait for the end of the world.’ Instead, they said, ‘Let’s make a 500-year plan and go start a nation….’” The one-time poster-boy of Dispensational Rapture theology has now come to realize that this false teaching needs to be rejected, saying, “I don’t see anything in the Scriptures saying that defeat was inevitable.”
Christ is coming back in glory to put death to death and usher in the consummation and eternal state. As we work towards the Christianization of all the nations of the world, we should expect to see the Gospel advance and transform individuals, families, communities and thereby cultures. This change comes gradually and incrementally over a long period of time. Thus, we should plan and build for strategic incremental changes and ways we can transform our cultures and nations. Our desire should be to see Christ receive the fullness of the reward for which He died. To him belongs the obedience of the nations (Gen. 49:10)!
I hope you enjoyed and were blessed by this series of articles. Please consider liking and sharing with others.
Soli Deo Gloria.
Articles in this series:
- JESUS & THE LAST DAYS | Which Generation Would See the End?
- JESUS & THE LAST DAYS | The End of the Age
- JESUS & THE LAST DAYS | Signs: Wars, Famine, Persecution
- JESUS & THE LAST DAYS | The Abomination of Desolation
- JESUS & THE LAST DAYS | The Coming of the Son of Man
- JESUS & THE LAST DAYS | The Rapture – Left Behind?
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