The Rapture or the Kingdom?

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.

7 thoughts on “The Rapture or the Kingdom?”

  1. You make good points about the abuse & misrepresentation of the rapture doctrine. There has been & still is too much emphasis on it vs what we have that is the good news of the Kingdom. But the rapture is no more extra biblical than the trinity. Neither is directly espoused from scripture but all the necessary foundations for the beliefs are clearly found within. I only offer this a discussion. I appreciate your insights. Love & blessings brother.

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  2. When students used to ask me if I believed in the Rapture, I used to ask, “Which one?” and then explain pre-trib, mid-trib, and post-trib ‘taking away’. Then I would tell them that even though there are Scriptures to support all three positions, I always asked God to strengthen me to enjoy and carry out His Kingdom work for me as long as HE wants me here. Then I am free to live in joy, hope, and the expectation of His presence in my daily life, whatever His timetable may be. Too many believers have an ‘escapist’ mentality that make them lazy about going deeper with the Lord. I’d rather ask God to make me strong enough to go all the way through to the end than be found lacking if I’m wrong.

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  3. Thanks for the thoughts, Ken. You make a valid point, and maybe in some way beyond my ability to grasp it, a form of the rapture might be compatible with an understanding of the Kingdom’s continued growth from Matthew 4:17 onward to the present day. But I’ve never known anyone to actually set that forth. Rather, we’re typically taught that we’re presently in the “church age” and the “kingdom age” is being deferred until Jesus returns a second time after the rapture.

    Love and Blessings back to you!

    (I hope to clarify further in a subsequent post).

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  4. For the record… this was a difficult post for me to write. Knowing this is a complicated topic and was afraid it might dredge up a lot of discussion and questions. But I felt like the Lord said, “Don’t be afraid of people and controversy. I’m the only one you need to please.” :-/

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  5. Don, thank you for your courage my friend! This to me is the best post you have ever done. Thank you for confronting this evil and widespread idea that Jesus will return to take the “holy believers” while everyone else is tortured and killed. The rapture doctrine is driven by fear. Fear of what we see going on in our world. We wonder how such a broken humanity could ever be redeemed and restored. Thank God that we have another reference! A reference that sees all men included in the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. It is God’s faith that declares humanity innocent by way of the one righteous act of obedience. Oh the joy that comes when the eyes of our understanding are flooded with light. When we realize we were included in this great salvation while we were at our worst and without our permission. The majority is not always right as evidenced by 10 of the 12 Israelite leaders declaring that God had not really given them the promised land. They did not believe God (unbelief) and thus a generation of people died in the wilderness. Im with Caleb and Joshua who declared, “WE ARE WELL ABLE TO TAKE THE LAND!” After all, the Earth is the Lords, and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell in it. I look forward to every knee bowing and every tongue confessing in spontaneous love driven worship that Jesus Christ is Lord. I look foreword to the knowledge of the Glory of God covering the Earth as the waters cover the sea. I look forward to the day when all men realize that they are born of God and have been gifted with all that it takes to live the abundant life. Humanity is a family with Christ as the head! I will not accept any doctrine that attempts to persuade me that some of my brothers and sisters are cursed and doomed. I don’t care how many scriptures a person compiles to prove their horrifying point. I will have hope for those that have not yet understood the truth. And I will darn sure lend my ears to the Good News of our inclusion in Christ’s victory over sin and death. The Kingdom is here now! Continue speaking the truth in love. Thanks again brother.

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    1. Scott! Thanks for both the encouragement and the bold declaration of truth and faith! It’s mighty good to hear from you!

      I think I’ve encouraged you in the past about your powerful writing gift, and you have so many wonderful insights into God’s character that would encourage others. I really hope you’ll be doing more writing yourself in the days ahead. Your story is such a powerful one!

      And by the way… Merry Christmas.

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