As a newborn believer The Late, Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey was the first Christian book I ever read. Bursting with images of growing darkness, the mark of the Beast, and a living hell under the wrath of the Antichrist, it scared the crap out of me. No sooner had I received the glad news of salvation than I was body-slammed by terrifying projections of what was about to break loose on our doomed planet.
But the gospel of the Kingdom is “good news of great joy to all people“, and those who see the end times through the whole lens of scripture understand that the hope set before us isn’t terrifying at all; It is the expectancy of a Glorious Kingdom filling the earth in these last days. “For as surely as I live, says the Lord, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord.” (Habakkuk 2:-4)
Three weeks ago in Eastern Europe a student, (a pastor in a local church), raised his hand and asked, “How long has Youth With A Mission been teaching this new idea about the Kingdom?” Do you see? The Kingdom has become a suspicious “new” doctrine while the extra-Biblical idea of the “rapture” is embraced as the storyline of our future. Never mind that the Kingdom has been a Biblical promise passed down from the prophets to Jesus, the Apostles, Saint Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Wesley, and the Reformers.
Rather, it’s the “rapture of the church” that’s a strange new doctrine. Introduced in the 1830s by the Scottish Pastor John Nelson Darby, and adopted by C.I. Schofield in his famous Bible notes, this idea has done unspeakable damage to the church, the world, and the lives of Christians worldwide. From The Late Great Planet Earth to seventeen installments of Left Behind, the rapture has robbed us of our future, our relevance, and our witness.
Our fathers in the faith would never have recognized this nightmarish idea that re-energizes the Devil and steals the legacy of our children. If the next event on God’s calendar is the “snatching away of the saints” and a world plundered by the Antichrist, then it becomes a fool’s errand to work for justice, reconciliation, and transformed cities and nations.
For years I had great “faith” for wars, destruction, and a coming hell on earth. I wasted so much time worrying about the mark of the beast and the latest incarnation of the Antichrist. How I wish someone would have sat me down as a young believer and said, “Don… this is not the good news of the Kingdom. This is a Trojan horse that steals the beautiful hope of the gospel.”
The scriptures plainly teach that Jesus is returning for His Kingdom. But living in the expectancy of an earth overrun by darkness stands in direct contradiction to the Lord’s own promise of His glory filling the earth. Today I am living in the hope of glory.