It is usually unsettling when you make changes in your beliefs, especially major changes. No one chooses to believe a lie. Somebody may deliberately teach a lie for gainful purposes, but no one chooses to consciously believe a lie. It is usually a work of deception and manipulation or ignorance that has people holding unto beliefs that might not be true when scrutinized by Biblical truth. And the debunking of those beliefs by the light of God’s Words may sometimes provoke questions and fears that genuinely need answers.
I have witnessed several times where a preacher uses the imminence of the rapture to browbeat his audience into a weeping and repentance frenzy (which emotional repentance ironically doesn’t always last). Many Christians constantly are aware of sins, shortcomings, feelings of unworthiness, and as such, any message that questions their NOW rapture-readiness would always get the result of the altar full with repenting worshippers. In order words, it is one of the easiest things to do to get people hit the altar: just ask them, “if you know that you would be left behind if the rapture happens NOW, come to the altar and confess your sins.”
I don’t believe preachers who do that have wrong intentions in any way. If the pre-trib rapture were not false, that would be a genuine concern, to make sure church people are ready for the secret event. So I’m not in any way criticizing anyone who does that. I only see the fear being brought up of people getting careless with their commitment should they be taught there is no rapture BEFORE the tribulation, which means they shouldn’t be concerned about any rapture TODAY, as long as the today represents a day when the signs that must precede the Second Coming haven’t all been fulfilled.
It is understandable then how debunking the rapture theory and showing it to be a false teaching can raise the question, “what then would keep believers living holy lives? What would motivate them to live for God if there is no rapture, and if there is no imminence to the coming of the Lord (because we would have to watch first for the rise of the Antichrist and experience the great tribulation)? If there’s no surprise like a “thief in the night” would a Christian not sin blatantly NOW because they are being assured by post-tribulation gathering teachers that there’s no NOW or ANY MINUTE FROM NOW secret catching away?
Why live holy now? Why not sin now and confess later?
In this post I mentioned the fact that I once believed in a pre-trib before my eyes were opened to the truth of Scripture. Did the change in belief make me less committed to God NOW? No. More than ever before, I want to live for God. There are things I feel guilty about now that some Christians would think that is obsession with little things. Many times I regret the sins I indulged while ironically believing in a NOW or ANY SECOND FROM NOW rapture. Every fiber of my being wants to live for God, NOW.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15 (KJV)
14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.
Fear doesn’t always work; it is not a good motivation.
The fear of being left behind when the rapture occurs is a motivation to holy living for some, but it SHOULD NOT be for someone genuinely born-again and in love with the Lord. Desiring to obey his commands and to honor him should be the motivation for holiness.
It is my opinion that the real state of our hearts is exposed when a fear motivation is removed. That should make anyone realize why they had been acting the way they had. It should even make one question the genuineness of their salvation experience. Was it just an emotional repentance, where hell was beaten out of you, and you had no option than to (un)willingly surrender your life to the Lord? And when the emotions wore off, as they always do, you remained unchanged, waiting for the next altar call on rapture-readiness. Or did you really experience a true change that causes you to want to live for God no matter the circumstances?
1 John 2:3-6 (KJV)
3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: HEREBY KNOW WE THAT WE ARE IN HIM (bold). 6 He that saith he abideth in him OUGHT HIMSELF ALSO SO TO WALK, EVEN AS HE WALKED.
The believer ought to always strive to live for God, to pursue righteous living, not out of fear of being left behind in the event of a secret rapture, but out of love for God and in conformity with the change of heart that happens at the new birth. A genuine Christian does not enjoy living in sin because sin is not enjoyable, even if there was no heaven and no hell.
The coming of the Lord will not surprise the believer in right fellowship with the Lord; it is those living in darkness that the day shall overtake like a thief in the night.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-6 KJV
1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
I do not believe the watchfulness encouraged here is the type motivated by fear of being left behind, nor is it a selfish aim towards self-preservation that has no desire to live for God in case of any contrary revelation. We respond to God’s love with love for him, not fear. Fear is an indication of not being perfected in love. The antidote to that kind of relationship with God is to know his love. It doesn’t glorify God if those professing to be his children will only (or be better) kept from sinning by a fear of not being raptured.
Why wait for a rapture-readiness altar call?
If you sin as a Christian, there is an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (see 1 John 2:1-2, 1 John 1:9). Immediately acknowledge your wrong doing and receive forgiveness. Don’t wait for a sermon on the rapture to beat you into repentance.
Knowing the love of God and the fellowship he calls us into takes away the fear motivation. That love cheers you to want to live for God. God did not sacrifice his Son just so we could escape the tribulation; the Lord Jesus died to set us free from the sin nature so we can enter into a spiritual relationship with our Heavenly Father. This relationship offers us many benefits, but those benefits are not the primary objective. God loves us and wants us to experience him. Eternal life is defined by our Lord in John 17:3 to mean an intimate knowledge of God. That is what the Lord Jesus brought to us.
We shouldn’t hold unto a teaching simply because throwing it away may have ‘disastrous’ consequences on peoples’ commitment to God’s standard. If commitment is not genuine in motive, it is not genuine in action.
The thought “God loves a cheerful giver” just came into my mind. That phrase is taken from 2 Corinthians chapter 9, a passage talking about finances. And I want to believe it is the same with our love, our commitment and services to God. He loves our willingness. Instead of keeping ourselves confessed up so that we remain rapturable, let’s seek to live lives that honor the Lord, in our motives and actions, under whatever circumstance. Let’s delve into intimacy with him, having our roots deep in the knowledge of God, building spiritual stamina through our daily walk with him, so that if the antichrist happens to come in our time, we would have the stamina to resist succumbing to his agenda, instead of panicking then, in bewilderment, because we had believed a lie that we would not be here when the monster comes to town.
N.B if you stumbled on this article and have not read the previous one, I’d still recommend Paul Benson’s Book A Bucket Full of Holes. It is an in-depth teaching that explains, with clear biblical backing what Scriptures teach about the rapture.