Recently I got this question from a friend: “My wife and I were discussing End Times and when the rapture would occur in reference to the coming of the anti-Christ. I am nowhere close to having the Bible memorized. Is there any scripture that tells us this. And what is your thinking on this issue?”
Here was my answer:
“There are 4 basic positions that theologians have taken on this issue. The American church starting in the 1800s really created the 4th camp in what’s commonly called “dispensationalism.” Don’t mean to bore you with the lingo. But I don’t fall into that camp. The idea of a “rapture” (from the Greek word “rapturo” can only be found in one verse (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). So I don’t believe in the Left Behind theology that believers get raptured and THEN there is a tribulation and then Jesus returns.””However, I do believe Jesus is returning. The difference is that we ARE LIVING in the tribulation and have been for some time. Jesus teaches on this in Mt. 24 and you’ll see that all the signs he gives of the end have been happening for a long time. he’s also clear that NO ONE knows when he will return. So we should stop guessing and live like it will be today. “”Now the anti-Christ presents more dilemmas. Because that is only really discussed in Revelation. Again, the “4 theological views” all look at it differently. I try not to really worry about who the anti-Christ is because there’s not much I’ll be able to do about it. Step 1: Make sure it’s not me! Historically, just about every major world figure has thought to have been the anti-Christ including my hero, Ronald Reagan. (OK, not many people believed that but there was someone carrying a sign at the 76 convention). Of course Gorbachev was thought to be that figure too…and now I hear Obama’s name thrown out there. My only thought on that is that if Obama is the anti-Christ…why can’t he get his own party to pass health care legislation? I digress.”
Then I mentioned that if he wanted my notes on Revelation I would be glad to email them to him. The same goes for you. Let me know and I’ll email you my “Introduction to Revelation.”
So again…no rapture…just Jesus returning and ushering in the new heaven and new earth…after a tribulation that will get worse and probably have some kind of “Anti-Christ” that masquerades as God or a Messiah and fools lots of people (but not genuine Christians) in false worship. That’s my opinion…but I’ve been wrong before!
Those who follow the crowd usually get lost in it. A key to failure is trying to please everyone. Being controlled by the opinions of others is a guaranteed way to miss God’s will for your life. You’ll be living THEIR will for your life.
If I believe God made me, then He must have made me for a purpose. It can’t be simply that I live happily ever after, though there’s no reason to think He doesn’t want us to live happily and ever after. That’s not a purpose; that’s an end result.
If we want to know God’s purpose for making me and you, it does no good with starting with me and you. It does a burrito no good to start with “What are MY goals?” Only the Creator, the inventor, know for what purpose they created or invented something.
We can speculate about God’s reason or we can listen to God’s revelations. We can read and ask.
It’s in Christ [discover identity and purpose through relationship with Jesus Christ] that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ [predates us!] and got our hopes up, He had His eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose [larger cosmic scheme] He is working out in everything and everyone.
There are no such thing as illegitimate children, just illegitimate parents. God’s purpose even takes human error and sin in account.
If we are to believe the revelation of God in the Bible (and i think we should) then we know that God’s ultimate motive in creating us is love. He made us to love us. “God is love.”
Isaiah 46:3-4 (NCV),
“Family of Jacob, listen to me!
All you people from Israel who are still alive, listen!
I have carried you since you were born;
I have taken care of you from your birth.
4 Even when you are old, I will be the same.
Even when your hair has turned gray, I will take care of you.
I made you and will take care of you.
I will carry you and save you.
If everything was random and/or not built through God’s love then there is no sure foundation of right/wrong and no hope.
One of the most common questions I get from new friends and acquaintances is this: What’s the best/worst thing about being a pastor? There are plenty of blessings and there are plenty of things that make it difficult. My favorite thing about being a pastor is seeing lives change. Baptisms, weddings, mission trips, counseling, small groups, and Sunday morning worship are all places that I regularly witness life change. When I get to baptize someone I am given a spiritual high that lasts quite awhile. Or when I step back and see someone begin to use their gifts in ministry and they see how effective they are. Man, that’s what it’s all about. That’s what keeps me going and going.
The hardest part about being a pastor? Watching people self-destruct. It doesn’t happen all the time but my ministry involves investing my life into other people. Sometimes I invest a lot of time with a person or family and see so many positive things happening and then all of a sudden: infidelity, unhappiness with the church, sin, addiction, suicide. That’s the hardest thing. It hurts to see people I love fall into something they know better about. Sometimes it makes me a little gun shy to invest in new people. I don’t like those hurt feelings. But then I remember that if I don’t invest, I’ll never get to see the positive life change.
Sometimes I will go for some time without seeing much change in lives around me including my own. It’s a “winter season of the soul” for me. But I push through it remembering that I didn’t go into ministry because of the perks, but because God called me to.