There was a movie that was promoted heavily on radio and the internet. Its title was “Left Behind.” It was a dramatic story based on the false, premillennialistic doctrine of the rapture, the seven-year tribulation, the rise of anti-Christ, the mass conversion of the Jews, the battle of Armageddon, etc., etc., etc. Remember Hal Lindsey’s “Late Great Planet Earth,” and “Countdown to Armageddon”? This movie was in the same vein. One pastor wrote, “Those of us who have served in strong pre-millennialistic parts of the country know how this false doctrine can really mess up a Christian with simple, child-like faith.” The movie is based on the book of the same name. The story no doubt, and from reports, was well written and was intriguing. Therein lay one of the dangers. The so-called “rapture” that the book and the movie promoted is a favorite theme of so called evangelicals, the Reformed, fundamentalists and holiness bodies. The teaching of the rapture is false teaching wrapped in deceptive wrapping and presented as Christian. In reality it led people away from their steadfastness and quiet hope in Christ. The focal point of Biblical teaching is Christ, and the central doctrine of salvation is justification, and salvation by grace through faith in Christ Jesus. That is not the central teaching of those who concentrate on the rapture.
The teaching of the millennium of which it is part is a false teaching. The idea that Jesus is going to come and set up a physical kingdom on earth and reign for 1000 years is based on misinterpretation of Daniel, Ezekiel, and Revelation. It is false teaching. It directs peoples’ attention away from heaven to the earth.
The rapture is to precede the millennium in this scheme of things. The rapture can be defined as “The Lord’s coming FOR His Church in contrast to His later coming WITH His Church.” It will be sudden and secret. Believers will be snatched (raptured) secretly and silently off the earth.
There are 4 basic ideas that are promoted by millennial promoters:
1. Christ, at the rapture, takes the believers out of this world to be with Him.
2. Christ pours out his judgments on the world during a 7-year tribulation.
3. Christ at the end of the tribulation destroys the Anti-Christ and his followers.
4. Christ sets up His millennial Kingdom which itself consists of different stages including Christ’s physical rule on earth which finally ends with a new heaven and a new earth. (Source: Paul F. Nolting- The Doctrine of the Last Things).
Indeed, they who promote these false ideas bring Bible passages as support. But they take the passages out of context. They overlook the fact that we are already living in the last times (1 Peter 1:20). They overlook the fact that the Old Testament prophecy of Christ was fulfilled with His coming, and that the New Testament speaking of the coming of Christ at His return to judge (1 Peter 4: 7), at which judgment believers in Christ will go to heaven, and unbelievers to hell. They conveniently forget that the time of the end is sure. The time of the end is known only to God (Mark 13:22,2 Peter 3:10), which would not be the case if there were rapture and a millennium. Events would permit men to calculate the end of time. Scripture says it cannot be done! The Lord warns Christians to be alert for the judgment (“that day”) lest it catch them unaware. This is quite meaningless if they won’t even be here because they have been raptured away! They overlook that the kingdom of God is already here (Luke 17: 21). The kingdom of God, His gracious rule to save, resides in the heart of Christ-believers. The presence of this kingdom is manifest through the confession of Christ. In the judgment it will be made visible. Whereas the millennial rule of Christ according to those who teach it will be a time of peace, the Lord says that in the world we will have tribulation. Peace, eternal peace, perfect peace, peace without tribulation will come when we are taken to heaven to be with the Lord.
Those who promote the rapture say that it will be silent. One of the favorite “proof” passages for the rapture is 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17: “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 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 them which are asleep. 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.”
However, the context clearly shows that the words are comfort for those who were concerned about Christians who had died. They will not be left behind in the judgment! The passage hardly can be interpreted to support a “silent” rapture (shout, trumpet, voice of the archangel).
The millenialistic teaching offers no comfort. It strikes fear into the heart. For example, it includes the Tribulation, and the battle of Armageddon. Furthermore, those who fly on an airplane better hope that the cockpit crew is heathen, for if they are to be raptured away the landing will not be at their destination and it will not be a soft landing.
The world still stands because the Lord is patient and not willing that any should perish (2 Peter 3). He extends the time of grace of people and nations because He does not delight in the judgment of the wicked. The world will stand until He has through the Gospel gathered all the elect into His Kingdom.
When will that be? We do not know. Therefore we do not know when the end will be. But when it comes none who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ will be left behind All, the living when He comes and those who have died in the Lord, will be with the Lord in heaven. On the other hand, they who have rejected Him will be damned!
Do not be misdirected from that which we believe and confess: “The third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven; And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.”
Jesus said, “Surely, I am coming quickly.” Jesus defines “quickly.”
We as Christians respond with John, ” Even so, come, Lord Jesus!”