I have a burden. I’m going to hit the pause button on the “Life in the Millennium” series I’ve started and interject a few thoughts I’ve been having. Because I can, there are no rules on the blog sphere world, and my readers consist of 3 people (whom I very much appreciate).
Anyone with a computer could tell you that we are seeing a resurgence of interest in the end-times. From blogs, twitter, and CNN, articles on the “end of the world” are popping up like Chinese carry-out restaurants in shopping malls. Believers all across the earth are beginning to respond to the trumpet alarm of Matthew 25:6 “Behold the Bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!”
Christianity, as with any religion, believes in an ultimate reckoning for mankind. This reckoning (called eschatology) will sum up all things, bring an end to evil, and usher in a glorious age where God will dwell with man as He originally intended.
Now we make a quite large, non-conformist, leap ahead to an event of considerable division – the Rapture. The revelation of the rapture is an odd thing because the rapture isn’t in the book of Revelation – yes, that did sound like Willy Wonka. In fact, the word “rapture” doesn’t appear in the inspired word of God. The meaning is derived from the Latin word “rapturo” meaning “caught up“. The rapture of the saints is an amazing revelation intended to instill hope in believers enduring persecution. The premier verse concerning the doctrine of the rapture, 1 Thess 4:14-18, was written to a church to whom Paul said a few verses prior, “[You] received the word in much affliction (1:5)…we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation…(3:4)” The believers in Thessalonica were undergoing significant persecution at the hands of both Jew and Gentile antagonists. Paul wrote them because he had concern for their faith lest his “labor [be] in vain” (3:5). He was giving them a hope of the things to come. The doctrine of the rapture was meant to enable believers undergoing persecution to fix their eyes on their ultimate glory in Christ, not give them a false escapism mentality.
If one were to look at church history, specifically the early church, one would see that there wasn’t a message of escaping the onslaught of wicked adversity, but rather, the message was to stay strong in adversity. The early church fathers, the martyrs of the Reformation, and the modern day martyrs in China and the Middle Eastern nations all bear witness to the deception of the pre-tribulational doctrine. This doctrine understands neither the mercy of the Lord, nor His wrath, but rather misconstrues it into a false hope. On top of that, it reassures believers that the teacher is infallible and that the flock need not fret nor read their bibles. Corrie Ten Boom said in her letter addressing the rapture:
“In America, the churches sing, “Let the congregation escape tribulation”, but in China and Africa the tribulation has already arrived. Now things like that never get into the newspapers because they cause bad political relations. But I know. I have been there. We need to think about that when we sit down in our nice houses with our nice clothes to eat our steak dinners. Many, many members of the Body of Christ are being tortured to death at this very moment, yet we continue right on as though we are all going to escape the tribulation.”
Beloved saints, we have been hoodwinked, taken for the lethargic, prayerless Christians we are. Out of touch with our suffering brethern. Out of sync with the Holy Spirit. Closed to the teaching of the apostles and Christ. Useless to the kingdom of God. Susceptible to error. Instructed in comfort. Bred for deception. We are bent, but not broken. What will it take to awaken the church in America to the coming storm?