Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Acts 17:11
LEFT BEHIND is a New York Times best-selling title: it is also the generic name of a series of 16 books; the theme of a series of action-thriller films, the basis of a computer game and also a comprehensive website in its own right.
However it is also a doctrine. First published in 1995 the series is based on end-time issues or – to use the fancier term – eschatology.
End-time issues have a reputation for being very difficult. In this context it is perhaps a tempting option for Christian believers to pick up a well-written fast-paced novel which claims to give a biblical view of current events – and how these relate to the coming again of Christ.
An extract from the opening chapter in the first book of the series sets the scene:
An airborne Boeing 747 is headed to London when, without any warning, passengers mysteriously disappear from their seats. Terror and chaos slowly spread not only through the plane but also worldwide as unusual events continue to unfold. For those who have been left behind, the apocalypse has just begun.
The scenario being depicted here is based on the doctrine of the pre-tribulation rapture which teaches that prior to the 'big trouble' which will come upon the earth (Matt 24 et al.) Gentile believers will be snatched from the earth without prior warning. (Note 1.)
Whilst there are millions who would agree with the premise of the pre-trib rapture, there are many millions who don't.
A central plank of pre-tribulation rapture teaching comes from a verse in Paul's second letter to the church in Thessalonica:
For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. (2 Thessalonians 2:7).
In pre-trib rapture circles this verse is commonly interpreted to mean:
For the secret power of the Devil is already at work, but this power is restricted by God until He removes believers (and the Holy Spirit within them) from the earth.
Much of the above hinges on the translation of the Greek word ('ek') which has been rendered by the translators as 'taken out of the way'. In common parlance this conveys the impression of hindrance being removed from the scene. However the word 'ek' denotes 'point of origin' which in turn suggests a quite different interpretation of the 2 Thess 2:7 verse i.e. -
For the secret power of the Devil is already at work; but this power will be restricted until he (the Devil) is revealed in the midst.
So rather than the Holy Spirit being removed from the picture we have the Devil become manifest in the midst.
As an illustration, it is common in award ceremonies for the winner to be anonymous until his or her name is declared. At this point he/she is 'revealed' and comes 'on stage' rather than being taken out of the room.
Given that many scholars come to different opinions on the Rapture and when/if it will occur it is surely a mistake to teach any one view as dogma while dismissing all others. And it is surely a mistake to trust one's understanding to a work of fiction rather than the unadulterated Word of God. (Author: Christians Together)
Of the Spirit or not?
During his lifetime Derek Prince wrote on the subject of phenomena in the church and the need for discernment under the title: 'Uproar in the church'. (Author: Derek Prince)
Will there be a sudden, secret Rapture?
A highly-influential interpretation of Scripture evolved in the mid 19th century teaching that believers will –without warning – be removed from the earth prior to Jesus return. But is it scriptural? (Author: Tony Higton)
Sound Doctrine for the Remnant; a resource for believers
A free 'Christian library' resource offering teaching material on DVDs and CDs. The ministry aim is to strengthen 'the Remnant' in the days in which we live. (Author: Christians Together)
Is the church heading underground?
With increasing pressures from new legislation and growing constraints on freedom of speech, how will Christians and churches respond? (Author: Christians Together)
What to look for in a church
As more and more believers are finding that existing church structures, practices and teachings are inadequate and/or flawed it is important to examine some basic characteristics of meeting together. (Author: Christians Together)
What we are not hearing from God's Word
Joel Rosenberg offers some notes on prophecy and eschatology; subjects which he believes are vital and yet not being widely taught. (Author: Joel Rosenberg)
Peter made the connection: we must do the same
When the Holy Spirit fell at Pentecost, the The apostle Peter ‘joined up the dots’ between that event and its relationship to God’s prophetic word. The same perspicacity is vital in our day. (Author: Christians Together)
Christians are being robbed of their faith
Cessationist teaching is robbing Jesus’ disciples of a fully-orbed faith and can result in Christians turning towards dangerous ‘remedies’ on health issues. (Author: Watchman)
Study Bibles: danger handle with care!
A Study Bible can be a very useful and convenient tool in exploring the Word of God. However there is a very real and unavoidable danger when using one. (Author: Christians Together)
When Jesus Returns
Every believing Christian holds the view that Jesus is to return. The 'when' is beyond question: only God knows. However the how and why attract a range of views. (Author: The Editor)
The (Coming) Millennium
A chapter extract from an excellent little booklet entitled 'The Coming Saviour and The World's Crisis' by a Scottish lay preacher and former City Missions' Superintendent. (Author: William H. Shanks)
Satellite Christian TV - Blessing or Danger?
With the spread and reach of Christian TV broadcasting we need to ask the question whether all that we see and hear is trustworthy an true. (Author: Christians Together)
Putting a stop to Cessationism
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit has, and continues to be a subject of much controversy, mis-understanding and abuse. In a day when the Christian church needs to be all the God intends for her, Ray Borlase defends his corner. (Author: Ray Borlase)
Clericalism is killing the church
While there are many sincere and conscientious believers in pulpits who are labouring diligently in their calling, the unbiblical clergy/laity divide is killing the church. (Author: Watchman)
Occult spirits in the church?
A mature believer writes of his exposure to 'bizarre behaviour' in the church; and of leaders who ignored the warnings and silenced the expressed concerns. (Author: DN: a personal testimony)
I will set a Plumb Line amongst My People
When the foundations are faulty it is pointless to fiddle with the superstructure. The problem needs to identified and remedied before the building can be soundly restored. (Author: )
It's right to allow calls to gay ministers
Amongst all the hoo-ha surrounding the Church of Scotland’s decision on gay clergy, the folk of Queen’s Cross were and are – at one level – totally within their rights to call Scott Rennie. (Author: Christians Together)
Once saved; always saved
The 'Platypus Challenge' series kicks off with the question: 'Once saved; always saved'? (Author: The Editor)
Easter; myths and traditions obscure amazing truths
Passover, Calvary and Easter; how the true wonder of it all is veiled from Jewish eyes and under-realised and distorted within the Gentile church traditions. (Author: Christians Together)
What is Next for Rick Warren?
Roger Oakland sees the drive for 'peace and unity' as the bait which will draw Christian churches and believers into a multi-faith mix. (Author: Roger Oakland)
Q 'n' A sessions after Sunday sermons?
The apostle Paul advised his audience to 'check him out'. Surely contemporary preaching should be subject to the same scrutiny? (Author: Christians Together)
Sexuality, eschatology, Israel: and falling leaves
A recent letter from a believer outlined these issues as important when looking for a spiritual home amongst the range of churches and denominations. They are vital issues in our day. (Author: Christians Together)
Countering the Insider Movement: a new film
The newly-released film 'Half Devil: Half Child' is a response to the tendency to compromise God's Word in order to reach those of different religions and cultures. (Author: Christians Together)
Voting: the great church splitter
‘One person; one vote’ may be the preferred option in a democratic situation but it has no place in the body of Christ. (Author: Christians Together)
Facts about Islam
Dr. Peter Hammond outlines the normative progression of Islamic influence and behaviour in countries in relation to the demographic statistics. (Author: Christians Together)
Ten things everyone needs to know about Islam
Dr. Emil Caner sets out some of the basic facts regarding what is by some, judged the fastest-growing religion on the planet. (Author: Dr. Emil Caner)
Obstacles to Spiritual Growth: An Overview
An introductory session to a 6-part teaching course on the 'blockages' and difficulties which disciples of Jesus face in the road to maturity and righteousness. (Author: Christians Together)
The Platypus Challenge
A previous article related to those ‘awkward’ (Platypus) verses which do not fit comfortably within some traditional theological frameworks. This present article sets out a mechanism to address the issue(s). (Author: The Editor)
Every belief system has its pet doctrines and dogmas; but some of these need to be challenged. The exception proves – or disproves– the rule. (Author: Christians Together)
The problems afflicting Wycliffe Bible Translators (WBT) are continuing to run over the concerns that basic words such as ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ have been removed in order not to offend Muslims are growing. (Author: Christians Together)
To whom it may concern
With whole denominations moving into open rebellion against God and His Word, believers are being left shaken and unsure of how to respond. (Author: The Editor)
Truth, error and deception
The world with its deceptions and error is a dangerous place for any Bible-believing Christian to be: sometimes it is even more dangerous in the church. (Author: Watchman)
Will the church be all-conquering before Jesus comes back?
Two different and opposite theological systems both see the church as coming to assume a dominant position over the nations; but is this view biblical? (Author: Al Dager)
Something biblical; or just more of the same?
In the present collapse within society and within the church there is great potential: the potential for rebuilding from the foundations or merely seeking to restore that which has failed. (Author: Christians Together)
Rick Warren builds bridge to Islam
Al Dager of Media Spotlight magazine looks at the issue of compromised faith as 'America's Pastor' Rick Warren works towards syncretism with Islam. (Author: Al Dager)
Passion Week/Last Supper/Traditions
Chris Hill speaking on the events of Passion Week. He speaks on the Last Supper and the nature of that meal, the question of which day was Jesus crucified and touches on the problem of 'traditions' (Author: Chris Hill / Christians Together)
Are we really caring for one another?
Has the body of Christ succumbed to the common view that the primary provider of welfare and care for believers is the secular state rather than the church of God's people? (Author: The Editor)
Reformation document is damaging the church
A document drawn up by the Westminster Parliament in the 17th century has profoundly influenced the Reformed churches since that date; biblical in part only, it is severly damaging the church today. (Author: The Editor)
Reformation; Sacraments; Babies and Bathwater
Subsequent to the ecclesiastical upheavals of the 15/16th centuries, many Christians who are sick today are turning to highly-dangerous spiritual practices. (Author: Christians Together)
Off Message: attacks from the inside?
Lost in Translation? Modern user-friendly Bible versions; or paraphrases; or corruptions of God's Word? You choose. (Author: Berean Research Institute)
Depression and the Christian (2)
Depression is a problem from which Christians are not immune. However the response to and 'treatment' of the malady should be markedly different from those of the secular world. (Author: Christians Together)
Depression and the Christian (1)
Jesus said that He those who were to follow him would enjoy life in all its fulness (John 10:10). In this context should Christian disciples suffer from depression. Johan Tangelder has written on the subject. (Author: Johan D. Tangelder)
Prophecy fulfilled: rumours of wars arising
Much of the prophetic passages relating to future events have been reduced to the point of meaninglessness leaving the body of Christ weakened and unprepared. This article seeks to speak into that void. (Author: Wilfred Hahn: Eternal Values Review)
A situation; a request
A recent letter to Christians Together sets out a situation and makes a request. Perhaps you can help; or maybe you are in the same situation. (Author: Letter to Christians Together)
What shape the church?
With the failures – in a variety of forms – within much of institutionalised churchianity many believers are now looking critically at a range of underlying issues. (Author: Steve Taylor)
Leaven in the lump, and tares amongst wheat
The parable of the wheat and the tares is sometimes mistakenly offered as a biblical justification for the resigned acceptance of error in the church. The problem has an ancient root. (Author: Unknown)
When everything shakes, in whom do we trust?
Widespread error and apostasy across the spectrum of organised churchianity has caused many believers to question of what or whom to trust. (Author: Christians Together)
David Pawson's Fireside Chats
In a completely new venture David Pawson is broadcasting 'Fireside Chats' with the fist focussing on the riots in Britain in 2011. (Author: Christians Together)
Don't read this...
Warning: clicking on this link could result in damage to your status, raise your blood pressure, cause your knee to jerk and challenge a lot of what you have been taught (Author: Watchman)
Is there anything wrong with Rob Bell's gospel?
J. Lee Grady suggests tha the controversial book 'Love Wins' by very popular author Rob Bell celebrates God's love but drifts dangerously into Universalism. (Author: J. Lee Grady)
Christian Survival Resource
A section of the Christians Together website aimed at being a resource for Christians in the 21st Century facing church fragmentation and false teaching. (Author: )
Kingdom Now teaching: beware!
With many movements it is difficult to define exactly what they are and believe. This article is a recent example of what Kingdom Now theology teaches. (Author: Example of Heresy)
Thank God: someone has said it at last
It is very very sad that it needs to be said. It's also very sad that no one has said it before. It's only an American who could say it: at last someone has.. (Author: J Lee Grady)
Kundalini spirits in the church?
Andrew Strom has expressed strong concerns about what he sees as the worst invasion in church history of deceiving spirits into the body of Christ. (Author: Christians Together)
The Shack; huge help or subtle heresy
In our microwave dumbed-down culture are enquirers and Christians helped or led into heresy by the easy-read attractions of 'Christian' novels and allegories? (Author: Watchman)
The 'Emerging' Church and Straw Men
The (so-called) Emerging Church presents a confusing picture, and offers huge possibilities for misunderstandings as Christians debate 'church in the 21st century'. (Author: Christians Together)
Disarming of The Church
“Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom in Europe." The words of a 18th-century politician with relevance for the church of the 21st century (Author: John Green)