Possible headlines in every newspaper and the lead in on every newscast the day after the pre-trib rapture [Christ’s imminent return] –
“Jesus failed! Last night Christians all over the world were secreted away by Jesus Christ because they were unable to overcome the forces of evil that are rampant on the earth.
Jesus had entrusted His Father’s mission of bringing heaven to earth through His followers to the Holy Spirit. It appears He was not able to successfully mobilize, prepare, equip and empower the saints, so Jesus came like a thief in the night to remove them so He can destroy the wicked along with the planet.
We will keep you informed as more information comes in.”
I have been a disciple of Jesus Christ of Nazareth since April 1980. For the first ten or so years I was an avid [rabid] pre-trib [imminent return] defender.
I cut my “prophecy” teeth on Hal Lindsay’s books on the end times. I could quote all of the verses in the Bible that “proved” the pre-trib rapture theology. Along with these verses I kept myself informed of all the news from around the world that seemed to confirm what I believed.
I even fell for the 88 Reasons Why Christ Will Return in 1988 – true but embarrassing.
And then I started awakening to verses in Scripture that totally wrecked my beliefs. As I ‘discovered’ these verses I grew more inclined to not use “worldly” news [bad news] to determine my beliefs.
One such verse is found in John 17:15 ~
“”I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one.”
This one verse began a transition in my belief about the end times. It caused me to begin questioning what I had been “taught” by the pre-trib proponents. Why was I looking to escape the problems on the earth when Jesus was praying that the Father would not take us out of the world?
Jesus told his first followers, and every subsequent follower to pray a prayer that focused on transforming the earth.
Matthew 6:9-13 ~
“Pray, then, in this way: `Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.'”
Each of the components of this prayer is directly related to transforming earth, on earth. It begins with worship and it ends with a declaration that God is in control over what if happening on earth. These truths are like bookends of some amazing declarations.
Notice one glaring omission from this prayer. There is not one mention of “get me out of here before it gets really bad.” Also, please notice God’s focus is on getting heaven to earth, not His people to heaven.
“Your kingdom come! Your will be done!” Where? “On earth as it is [right now] in heaven.”
Then Jesus directs His disciples to pray in the resources needed to accomplish this mission.
“Give us this day our daily bread” means so much more than the provision of food. It includes physical food and I believe financial provision as well but it goes much farther into the spiritual realities of living victoriously over the enemy [Luke 4:4], and successfully accomplishing God’s will on the earth [John 4:31-34 – see the greater reality of regional transformation in the greater text of this chapter].
“Forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors” protects us from becoming angry and bitter. Walking in forgiveness gives God’s people the upper hand in hand to hand battle [see Matthew 18:21-35; John 20:23].
“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” means don’t allow me to get too big for my britches, or help me to keep my focus on You and not myself, or as Bill Johnson says, “don’t promote me beyond my character”. It is also the same prayer Jesus is praying for us [see John 17:15; Hebrews 7:25].
Acts 3:21, Psalm 110:1, 1 Corinthians 15:25, Ephesians 4:11-16 and others are important references that have a critical word in them. That word is ‘until’. These are just some of the verses in the Bible that I believe the Holy Spirit continues to use to shape my view of the Church and her mission on planet earth.
In addition, in the thirty-one years since I declared Jesus was my Lord the pre-trib camp has had to shift a critical component to how the rapture would occur. The general trip wire is the surrounding, and invasion of Israel by hostile nations. This invasion supposedly is God’s timing of when Jesus will snatch the Church off the planet. These nations have changed from the former Soviet Union to the new Roman Empire [European Union] and now to the confederation of Muslim nations.
Which is it?
Also, the supposed anti Christ has changed several times as well. It has been reported that Henry Kissinger was the anti Christ. It has been reported that Mikhail Gorbachev was the anti Christ. Another favorite choice has been whoever the current Pope was [this has been going on for a long time]. The latest “person of interest” is the Muslim Mahdi that Iran’s nutty leader proposes.
It seems to me that this anti Christ guy is some amazing person. He has fooled many of God’s “prophets” for a long time. Did you know that Ronald Wilson Reagan’s [our 40th President] name = 666? Each of his names have six letters. I am so glad he was a staunch conservative or he may had been included in the list of potential candidates.
The “prophecy” of Jesus’ imminent return is a hoax. It is not good preaching much less accurate teaching. It sells a lot of books. It brings in tons of money for those who spread it through radio and TV. It keeps God’s people confused. It brings reproach to the Church and the name of Christ. And according to one mission leader the latest “prediction” has cost the lives of some precious saints and pastors in Vietnam.
It also creates a mindset that somehow justifies the slaughter of millions of people, including Jewish people – by God. How much punishment do the Jewish people have to endure from God?
I propose that when the armies surrounded and destroyed Jerusalem in 67 – 70 A.D. that whatever punishment they asked for [Matthew 23:34-39; Matthew 24; Matthew 27:20-25; Mark 13; Luke 21:10-36 ; Luke 23:26-31; John 1:11; John 18:33-35; John 19:11], they received.
By the way, there is evidence those armies were there for approximately 1260 days [42 months / 3.5 years].
It is time to move on from condemnation to transformation!
Another negative result that has arisen from this belief is the rush to get people to say a prayer so they can be “saved”.
Nowhere in the Scripture does it say if we say the correct prayer we will be saved. What is says is if we believe . . . and confess . . . we will be saved.
This rush to say a prayer has resulted in many folks thinking they are saved when in fact they are not only not saved, they are harder to convert. No one comes to God except through Jesus and no one comes to Jesus unless the Father draws them.
Churches are filled with folks that will tell you they are okay because they said the prayer. The world is filled with disgruntled “believers” because Christ just did not work out for them.
It takes time for this process to work and the imminent return of Christ message does not allow for that kind of time. After all, He could come any minute now ~ so say the prayer.
Jesus will remain in heaven, ruling through His saints, until ~
The restoration of all things [Acts 3:21]
He makes all of His enemies a footstool for His feet [Psalm 110:1; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Ephesians 1:15-23]
The saints are equipped for the work of service
The Body of Christ is built up
We all attain the unity of the faith
We all attain the knowledge of the Son of God
We all attain maturity to a mature man [Christ’s maturity]
We all attain the measure of the stature that belongs to the fullness of Christ
We all are no longer children being tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness by deceitful scheming
We all speak the truth in love
We all grow up in all aspects into Him who is the Head, even Christ, from whom the whole body being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love [Ephesians 4:11-16]
Now, “occupy until I come” [Luke 19:13]!
For HIS Glory!
Dr. Kevin M. Drury