There is much talk about the “Rapture” and the events associated with the return of Jesus in judgment. People like to talk about the “signs of the times” and speculate that the return of Jesus must be very soon because of unfolding world events. At the moment of this writing tensions are high on the Korean Peninsula because of the shelling of a South Korean island. Within the next day or two some rapture based group will cite the conflict as a sign of the end of time. While the Rapture is an interesting and provocative subject it is not Biblical. The concept is not found in Scripture. In fact, the very opposite is true.
The “Rapture Package” is made up of several curious doctrines all built upon figurative passages from throughout the Bible. The books of Daniel and Ezekiel are most commonly cited from the Old Testament while Matthew and Revelation are cited from the New. The doctrines invoked in this system of dispensational theology include, but are not limited to, the Rapture, Armageddon, the Beast, the Antichrist, a period of tribulation following (or followed by) a 1,000 year physical reign of Jesus in Jerusalem. Only after this 1,000 year reign do the saved go to Heaven and live forever in glory.
Most of the large denominations do not hold this teaching “officially.” The exception are those churches commonly spoken of as Pentecostal or charismatic and, to some degree, Roman Catholicism. In spite of the lack of teaching from most protestant groups, the subject is promoted through informal comments and discussions among people of all groups. A lack of knowledge of what the Bible teaches on the subject has not stopped many from promoting these fantastic doctrines. A few years ago a duo of writers, Jerry B. Jenkins and former Baptist minister Tim LaHaye wrote a series of books in the Left Behind series. These books promote the doctrines mentioned above as they look, fictionally, at a post-rapture world. Curiosity of the end of time remains high.
We might be tempted to ignore these doctrines and assume that they really have nothing to do with our salvation. We might think that whatever happens is fine with us and we can either accept or reject the teaching. That would be a profound error.
To accept these doctrines one must fundamentally change how we interpret Scripture. We must allow for a second chance at salvation after the tribulation for those who are unrighteous. We remove the dire consequences of eternal condemnation by suggesting discomfort and severe punishment for only 7 years. Worse than all of that, we would be allowing and giving tacit support to false teaching.
Beginning this Sunday and continuing for a month we will be addressing some of these issues in our Sunday morning sermon. Complementary bulletin and blog articles will cover some of the areas outside of our sermons. I encourage every person present to listen carefully and take notes. Audio recordings should be available too. Enclosed in this bulletin is a flier to be given to someone or posted somewhere. Let us show the world that our commitment to Bible-only teaching is solid.