Does becoming a Christian make life better? Will converting to Christianity solve all your problems? Will you be happier or more prosperous? Will your circumstances will improve as you live by “Biblical principles”?
This is a common assumption in the church. You may have heard of a little booklet published by Campus Crusade (now called Cru) way back in 1952. Written by Bill Bright, it’s called “The Four Spiritual Laws,” and was intended to be used as an evangelistic tool to quickly and concisely share the gospel. According to this booklet, the first law is, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” That sounds so positive. Who wouldn’t want their life to follow a wonderful plan?
In previous two posts I’ve explained what I believe, or don’t believe, about the rapture. But why even talk about it—whether or not there’ll be a rapture? After all, our human interpretation of scripture won’t change God’s plans. Either the church will be raptured or it won’t. My opinion doesn’t change the truth.
However, our theology has repercussions. We will act differently depending on what we believe. Therefore, I need to ask, what is the fruit of our view on the rapture? Does it draw us closer to God? Does it make us more loving, more compassionate, more like Jesus?
As I mentioned last week, a sermon at church has me thinking a lot about the doctrine of the rapture. Whenever any church controversy arises, my first response is to see what God has to say about it. I started by rereading Revelation, specifically noticing the many references to believers living in the time of the Great Tribulation. There were many—see Revelation 6:11, 7:3, 7:9-15, 11:1-12, 12:17, 14:12-13, and 20:4-6. I also looked for verses about God taking the church out of the world before or during the tribulation. I couldn’t find any.
Our pastor said something the other day that really shocked me. We were in the middle of a sermon series on the book of Mark and we had reached chapter 13, about the second coming of Christ. As usual, Brady’s excellent sermon focused on the Biblical text. But before he began, he mentioned his personal position on the rapture—He doesn’t believe in it.
I was astonished. The vast majority of evangelical Christians side with authors Jim Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, and their Left Behind series, and believe that at any moment the faithful here on earth will be suddenly caught up to heaven. I’ve always felt like a bit of an apostate, since I’m not so sure I agree. I usually tell people who ask that I’m preparing to to still be here during the hard times to come, but I’d be more than happy to be excused.
We’re all heard the hype about the Mayan Calendar ending on December 21, 2012. Did they just run out of rock? Or did they know something? (Then again, we may have the date wrong—see this article on the Discovery News site.)
Of course, most sensible people don’t believe the Mayans predicted the end of the world. Plus, being Bible-believing Christians, we prefer to take God’s word over that of an ancient pagan mesoamerican people group.
Still, the end of the world is coming.
I sat listening to my friend pour out her sorrow and concern for her son. He had been a vibrant believer, praying with authority, intimate with Jesus, a successful evangelist who was planning to go overseas as a missionary. And now he had just proclaimed himself an atheist.
How could someone that close to God suddenly decide that He doesn’t exist? It’s a long story which I won’t elaborate on here, but as best as his parents could piece together, the problem stems from unanswered prayer. He prayed that God would step in and set him free from an addiction—and God didn’t obey him.