Tuesday, January 14, 2003
(From our discussion on the 1J13 List) Let me see if I can put into words what my thoughts are on the subject of the end times and the possibility/probability of the Rapture...hmm?
* Yes, I believe that Jesus is coming back (Acts 1:11). I believe that it is soon and very soon, that it is imminent and quite probably in "our time." Just a gut feeling, but one that's probably been shared by millions of folks in the last two thousand years, too.
* Yes, I believe that the world as we know it will be destroyed, and that a new heaven and a new earth, as physical places, will be built or are being built as a physical place for us to dwell for all eternity with the Father (Rev 20:11-21:2). I also believe that the new heaven and new earth is already being built spiritually within each of us as His Kingdom advances (1 Pet 2:5, Eph 2:22).
* Yes, I believe that the Bible points to a period of time at the end where the Antichrist will be in power (Revelation, Daniel, many other places). This will be a terrible time for anyone alive. But I have also seen that in reading Revelation as a book that tells me how to live, more than just an unfolding of future events, I get a different picture of where my place might be in all this. I'm not sure whether anyone will have an opportunity to "be saved" during the coming tribulation. From my reading, I just couldn't make the connection if Christians are already out of the picture. Also, reading Revelation should be just like reading Jeremiah or Isaiah or any other prophetic book, leaving room for practical/tangible application as well as spiritual/mysterious/undefinable interpretations.
* Yes, I believe that Jesus is coming back. Did I say that already?
Now, for the particulars: I don't think the only way for the prophecies to be fulfilled is for there to be a literal rapture of the church. My "hope" is in Christ, not in His ability to take me out of the bad stuff to come. If He is taking us out, praise the Lord. If He's not taking us out, praise the Lord. Do I believe there will be a rapture? Yes, but I'm not going to hang my life or my hope on what is not much more than theory and interpretation. My life is in Christ, as is yours. And while I might think it's going to happen one way, it may indeed happen quite differently, and in that sense, I'm not going to tell God He did it all wrong, am I?
We do have a statement of belief (doesn't specifically say anything about the rapture, only that Jesus is coming back like He said), and if you queried the CWO staff, everyone would probably profess a belief in a coming rapture of the church, to greater or lesser degrees. But to say the my "hope" is in the rapture is too much for me. The idea that millions of people have been martyred over the years to the glory of Christ, and yet He's planning to pluck us out before the really dangerous stuff happens at the end, sounds a little unfair. And it places the focus on us and our good fortune or blessing in our escape, rather than on what pain and suffering the world in its sin will go through, and that was not Jesus' way, was it?
I'm not off the page, just hesitant to hang my hat on anything other than Christ. I believe we will be raptured - but if we're not, we've still got "blessed hope" in the Savior, right?