Friday, February 8, 2019
Since the early 1970’s, many pastors, teachers and laypersons alike in the Western Church warned of an “imminent” pre-trib rapture. I remember. I was there. So were millions like me. That whole narrative was later supercharged when Dr. Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins began printing their Left Behind books which were later made into a movie series, all total fabrications.
The end-times and talk of being rapture-ready were the thrust of thousands of sermon series all across America. Writing a 1/17/2019 Charisma article, Pastor Greg Laurie remembers it also, saying, “When I first became a Christian back in 1970, lots of people were talking about the return of Jesus Christ. The top selling book of that entire decade was the Late Great Planet Earth, by Hal Lindsey, which spoke in depth about Bible prophecy and the signs of the times.”
Laurie continued, “Driving around the roads and freeways, you would see bumper stickers and slogans like ‘Maranatha,’ ‘Jesus is coming’ and ‘In case of rapture, this car will be unmanned.’ There was a sense of expectancy among so many of us that we could be the generation that would see the return of the Lord.” That was 49 years ago! What happened? Where’s the fervor for the end-times? Here’s what happened: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Prov. 13:12).
Today, very often an end-time discussion of the Lord’s return goes absolutely nowhere before it even gets started, citing the subject’s controversial nature. But who’s made it so are those who taught a false pre-trib narrative for decades rather than preparing God’s people in the truths of Christ’s post-trib rapture. Today the Church is virtually silent on the end-times. Why? Because their pre-trib rapture hope proved false! And it will continue proving false, and it will continue creating in its wake many more spiritually heart-sick just like Prov. 13:12 promises. The false pre-trib rapture has left many people heart-sick, ignorant and eschatologically disillusioned.
People were falsely promised an “imminent” pre-trib rapture. Now, Pastor Greg Laurie wrote an article entitled “Why the Rapture Hasn’t Happened (Yet)” wherein he basically back-peddles the pre-trib rapture, saying, “The Bible is the one book that dares to predict the future. Not once, not twice, but hundreds of times. We can look back now and see that many of those prophecies have already been fulfilled–but not all of them. Some remain to be fulfilled”. Where’s the imminence in that statement? It’s gone as it should be! And here’s why: many biblical prophecies and signs must be fulfilled BEFORE Jesus Christ can return. Why? Because Jesus Christ told us so!
Today, many quote “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matt. 24:36) as if that’s an all-sufficient catch-all to stop the discussion. But it’s not, because Jesus and His Spirit had much more to say on the subject that you and I might be knowledgeable of the truth and not be taken captive by silence or prejudiced escapist plans.
God said, “But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, ‘Peace and safety!’ then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of the darkness” (1 Thess. 5:1–5). [Emphasis added]
The truths of Jesus Christ do NOT create “Hope deferred [that] makes the heart sick”. The truths of Christ inform us, and if believed by faith, strengthen and quicken the heart to love and receive with thanksgiving all that He told us about the times of the end and His post-tribulation gathering of His elect saints, Matt. 24:29–31. Otherwise one remains in the darkness of unbelief.
God wants us to know all we can know about the Lord’s return and to be prepared to endure to the end just as Jesus taught. But silencing the critical information God has given us through His Son and Holy Spirit concerning the time of the end will indeed guarantee the ignorance of truth, and that Day will in fact overtake many self-professing Christians as a thief as they grope in the darkness of unbelief, for they’ve been taught to disregard the end-time teachings of Christ. As a result “many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another” (Matt. 24:10).
If the evangelical church does not reverse its false pre-trib narrative, and begins teaching and equipping people in Christ’s end-time teachings, it will have the eternal blood of many on its hands, because many have already turned, heart-sick, away from the truth. They’ve waited 20, 30, 40 and 50 years for the “imminent” pre-trib rapture promise, but it hasn’t occurred, nor will it. The resurrection rapture will occur “at the last day” just as Jesus taught, and not before!
Regarding the failure of the pre-trib rapture promise, many say in their hearts, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:4). “Hope deferred” has made many heart-sick as they’ve believed a false promise, but each of those false teachers will be held accountable before God.
Might “Hope deferred” actually account for the alarming increase of suicides among pastors? Just last week yet another lead pastor of a mega-church committed suicide. As reported by the Christian Post: “After struggle with mental illness, megachurch pastor Jim Howard fatally shoots himself”. Many diagnose this as a mental illness, but it’s not. It’s one’s choice to permanently go AWOL, a personal choice to murder, yes, self-murder. But “no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:15). True love for Christ helps us to be “transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:2).
Last week, the New York Post had this headline: “New York dietitian, 27, hangs herself after posting suicide note”. In her note, which I believe speaks even for professing Christians and unbelievers who commit suicide, she said, “I have accepted hope is nothing more than delayed disappointment…” Her heartbreaking note validates God’s truth that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Prov. 13:12). Accidental physical head trauma can cause mental illness, but the heart, one’s inward soul and spirit, being made hopelessly sick, can and does lead to suicide.
We dare not doubt the faithfulness and inerrancy of God’s Word: “You [God in Christ] will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You. Trust in the Lord forever, for in YAH, the Lord, is everlasting strength” (Isa. 26:3–4); and surely “the kingdom of God is…righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17), proving that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7).
Marlin J. Yoder