Recently, some people have felt threatened by the Left Behind series of popular novels, written by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins. The series has been read by millions of people in all religious denominations.
LaHaye and Jenkins followed the Scriptures very closely, and the basic premise of the books is absolutely true in the prophetic details. Of course, the books Left Behind, Tribulation Force, Armageddon, Glorious Appearing, etc., are novels, and as such, the personalities, conversations, and activities of many of the characters are fictional. However, the descriptions of the major events are true and accurate, according to the Bible.
Some people do not like the venue, using a novel to portray prophetic events. However, the technique is not new. About 350 years ago a Baptist preacher, John Bunyan, wrote a fictional story, The Pilgrim’s Progress, a book which proved a most popular and enduring work. An allegory of Scripture, Bunyan’s book has proved helpful to people of all ages in learning Bible doctrine and the way to Heaven.
LaHaye’s and Jenkins’ books have proved helpful also as many people have inquired more carefully about future prophetic events. In fact, many people have been born again as they thought anew about the Rapture.
Some people are very uneasy about books that say that many will be “left behind” when Jesus returns. The truth has a way of doing that to people. Consequently, some have been speaking out, saying that there is no Rapture, no future Tribulation Period on this earth, and no coming Armageddon.
The truth is that there will be a Rapture of the Church, just as LaHaye and Jenkins portray it. This is not a new teaching. The Apostle Paul taught the Rapture in A.D 52. He wrote to the Thessalonian church, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (I Thessalonians 4:16-17).
The word “Rapture” means “caught up.” We can easily see from the above Scripture that the Church is going to be caught up, raptured.
The Church of Jesus Christ consists of all born again people, no matter what their denominational affiliation. All of Christ’s Church, His Bride, will be caught up and taken to Heaven. This will include the resurrection of all Christian believers who have died. It will also include the translation (changing) of all believers who are still alive on earth in that day.
Christ loves His Church, His Bride, and He will come back for Her. Jesus Himself said so in John 14:2-3, “In my father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.”
Jesus said that when He comes He will “receive” believers unto Himself and will take them to Heaven. That is the purpose of the Rapture. This will not be a “yo-yo” event with the Church being caught up into the air and then immediately coming back down to earth. The purpose of the Rapture is to save the Church out of this world, that the Church would avoid the judgment of the Tribulation Period. The seven year Tribulation Period is a time when God’s wrath will be poured out on this world. The Church will be saved from that unprecedented time of death, disease, starvation, catastrophe, and war. The Bible says that He has “delivered us from the wrath to come” (I Thessalonians 1:10). God has “not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thessalonians 5:9).
When the Bible says that Jesus is coming again, it does not refer to Him coming at death, at Pentecost, nor at the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. When the Bible says “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner” (Acts 1:11), it means that He is coming back personally, visibly, suddenly, unexpectedly, and literally.
Many will be “left behind” when Jesus comes, “left behind” because they are not ready, “left behind” because they are not saved through faith in Christ. Any who are not ready should get ready by receiving Christ as personal Savior. As the Bible says, “Be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:44).