Left Behind (Part 1)

I’ve had this manuscript for almost a year and thought to put up a series of posts made up of excerpts from it’s pages for anyone interested in reading or discussing it. I plan on doing my own critiquing  in the comment section also. Since the manuscript was first mailed to me last year I see its now been put together in book form, (link below) so there will only be excerpts in each part posted. Below is the intro…

LEFT BEHIND Answered Verse by Verse By David A. Reed

Shortly after putting faith in Jesus Christ, I began attending evangelical Christian churches—Baptist and congregationalist—and that is where I first heard an exposition of the ‘left behind’ teaching.

Of course, the blockbuster novel by that title had not yet been written,
because it was early in 1982 that I got down on my knees in the privacy of our kitchen, confessed myself a sinner, and told God in prayer that I accepted his son Jesus as my Savior and wanted to follow Christ as my Lord.

Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins didn’t publish Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth’s Last Days until 1995, but the end times beliefs expounded in that book were already commonly accepted in evangelical churches.

Everyone I knew seemed to believe there would be a seven-year tribulation period climaxing the last days of this wicked world. Little did I know then that this was a new teaching that had swept through the Church only decades before. For years I never seriously took issue with this teaching, because it was held dearly, almost as an article of faith, by my fellow evangelicals. But it was always somewhat of a mystery to me, since I hadn’t encountered it in my personal Bible reading.

Perhaps it was one of the deeper things that takes a lot of study to grasp, I told myself. Or, perhaps my own thinking had been colored by thirteen years as a Jehovah’s Witness, during which time I had been indoctrinated with The Watchtower magazine’s eschatological views. In any case, I blamed my inability to grasp the seven-year tribulation on my own failure to study in depth the teaching and the biblical arguments behind it.

As a Jehovah’s Witness I had been taught to believe that Jesus was the first angel God created, who was assigned to take on human flesh, to preach a message to mankind, to undergo a sacrificial death, and then to resume his role as the most prominent angel. We were taught that he returned invisibly in 1914, and that he would lead God’s armies in the battle of Armageddon in 1975—a date that later had to be abandoned and explained away after the prediction proved false.

Having experienced intimately and first-hand the failure of such a false prophecy, I tended to be skeptical of prophetic speculation, even after I left the JWs and found sound Christian fellowship. Rejoicing in my Savior, I was content to trust in God for the outworking of the Bible’s end times prophecies. It wasn’t necessary for me to understand, only to trust and obey, since it was God who would bring these world-shaking events to pass as foretold in his inspired Word.

In the course of writing several more books on the Jehovah’s Witnesses, I was forced to research more deeply into their roots in the Adventist movement. Prior to starting his own religion, Watch Tower founder Charles Taze Russell fellowshipped during the late 1860s and early 1870s with an Adventist sect that had Christ returning invisibly in 1874. Adventism, in turn, sprang from the die-hard followers of William Miller, a Baptist layman who had captured the imagination of believers in many churches with his predictions that Christ would return in March of 1843, later revised to March of 1844, and finally to the autumn of that year.

A similar legacy of failed prophecy lay at the roots of mormonism, I discovered when I teamed up with ex-Mormon John Farkas to research and write Mormons Answered Verse by Verse and other books on the history and errors of the Latter-day Saints.

Could the popular ‘left behind’ teachings be equally erroneous, I wondered?

Certainly they were nothing like Mormonism with its polygamy and its plurality of gods; nor did they carry with them the heresy of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who lower Christ from Creator to mere creature. Unlike these cultic movements hovering on the fringes of Christianity, the Left Behind books elevate the authority of Scripture and proclaim salvation through faith in Christ alone.

Their greatest popularity is found within Bible-believing churches. Yet, the same could be said for the following of William Miller, himself a Baptist. His followers hailed from mainline Christian churches. But their trust in Miller’s interpretations of the Bible’s end times prophecies led to what historians have dubbed the “Great Disappointment.”

Eventually, my research led me farther back, beyond these nineteenth century American religious movements, to the roots of modern Protestant thinking in the Reformation and the isolated back-to-the-Bible movements that preceded it. Here were believers who treasured their relationship with Christ more than life itself. Untold numbers were tortured to death, holding fast to their Lord. Many were burned at the stake. The truths in Scripture were more than mere Sunday morning entertainment for these humble yet courageous students of the Word.

What did they say about a rapture that would leave unbelievers behind with a second chance to accept Christ during a seven-year tribulation?

They never heard of such a thing.

The great Reformers Martin Luther and John Calvin both wrote extensively on the topic of the Antichrist, but the “man of sin” (2 Thess. 2:3) they described bore no resemblance whatsoever to the Nicolae Carpathia character of the Left Behind novels.

The Reformation saints who staked their very lives on the motto “Scripture Alone” saw in that precious Word of God neither a seven-year tribulation, nor a Carpathia-like world ruler presiding over it.

What did they see?

A very clear fulfillment of prophecy that fits the history of their times as well as today’s headlines.

Ultimately there were four factors weighing heavily on my heart that forced me to research and develop this manuscript:

First, a large portion of the population today assumes that Left Behind accurately presents what the Bible itself says. It does not.

Second, many Christians have come to believe that Left Behind represents the traditional beliefs of Protestant churches. It does not.

Third, those who accept the teachings of Left Behind find themselves looking for future events that would fit the fictional pattern. They believe that God’s prophetic clock stopped, and won’t start again until the Rapture. As a result, they miss the fulfillment of Bible prophecy in recent history and in today’s headlines. This hinders their ability to follow Jesus’ command to “be always on the watch.” (Luke 21:36)

Finally, millions who read Left Behind are sitting on the fence of unbelief—both secular readers and half-hearted church attenders. Like the novel’s nominally Christian commercial pilot Rayford Steele and assistant pastor Bruce Barnes, they go through the motions at church, but they don’t truly trust in Christ or obey Him.

Authors LaHaye and Jenkins show characters like this receiving a seven-year long “second chance” after Christ raptures believers. In the Gospels, however, Jesus warned over and over again that we should watch for his return to avoid severe punishment at that time.

Do Jesus’ parables—the wheat and the tares, the sheep and the goats, the ten talents, the wise and foolish virgins—offer a second chance for those surprised by the Master’s return?

If not, then Left Behind contradicts the clear teaching of Christ. Readers who are thus misled into postponing their decision for Christ could face an eternity without Him.

Our God is indeed the God of the second chance. Christ came to redeem sinners. Life usually affords each of us a second chance—in fact, many opportunities—to put our trust in Jesus Christ as our Savior and to obey him as our Lord.

While still a teenager I rejected belief in God, and proclaimed myself an atheist for a number of years, but He had mercy on me and did not take that as my final decision. My grandmother was ninety-six years old when she finally read the Gospels and embraced Christ; I can only imagine how many chances she passed up before that.

However, Scripture tells us that God’s forbearance does not go on forever.

Does the Bible teach that unbelievers will be ‘left behind’ for a seven-year-long second chance when Christ comes to take his faithful followers to heaven?

That is the question this will examine verse by verse….

To be continued

10 comments on “Left Behind (Part 1)

  1. I really like the simplicity and clarity that the author uses to convey these truths, and of course I wholeheartedly agree with him. I am amazed that so many so called mature Christians have fallen for the “Left Behind” fantasy. It is very destructive, and exposes those for their willful compliance in allowing themselves to be seduced by man made doctrines.

    Most everyone I have met that that would agree with this tripe just will not read their Bibles on their own. Just about everyone , no matter their age, or years saved, that believes these “Fly Away” heresies, seem to lack any real Spiritual depth.

    Anyway, PJ, thanks for posting this. It was a pleasant and informative read.

  2. Tom,

    I can relate to this personally:

    Everyone I knew seemed to believe there would be a seven-year tribulation period climaxing the last days of this wicked world. Little did I know then that this was a new teaching that had swept through the Church only decades before. For years I never seriously took issue with this teaching, because it was held dearly, almost as an article of faith, by my fellow evangelicals. But it was always somewhat of a mystery to me, since I hadn’t encountered it in my personal Bible reading.

    Perhaps it was one of the deeper things that takes a lot of study to grasp, I told myself.

    In any case, I blamed my inability to grasp the seven-year tribulation on my own failure to study in depth the teaching and the biblical arguments behind it.

    I spent years in frustration not only on this, the 7 years, but on many other teachings which originated in more recent times: of course, i didn’t know that some of these common beliefs were newer teachings until i began my own study of theology and eschatology.

    Like the author, i too believed it was just ‘me’…that i had not been given revelation on the scriptures, like ‘others’ had–so accepted it. It was only when i began publicly asking questions, and was met with silence, did i realize they could not answer my questions because they had no answers!

    It was then i knew, many who held to certain commonly held end time beliefs, did so only because it was all they knew–it was what they had been taught, but they could not back up their traditional beliefs with scripture and/or proof..

    This manuscript seems interesting…im looking forward to posting excerpts from it in the coming days. When i first received it i read through it fairly quickly, so like you or anyone else, i may find i agree [or don’t agree] with the author on everything, as i read it more slowly and studiously as putting up the posts…

  3. When one reads things like these words:::>

    “If not, then Left Behind contradicts the clear teaching of Christ. Readers who are thus misled into postponing their decision for Christ could face an eternity without Him.”

    one realizes there has to be a blindness upon their understanding about being in Christ or postponing “their” decision for Christ!

    I cite here to refute this:::>

    Psa 71:3 Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.
    Psa 71:4 Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man.
    Psa 71:5 For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth.
    Psa 71:6 Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you.

  4. this should be an interesting series. I am always interested in finding out how these theories originated, where they came from, when, and why so many buy into them. Thanks for posting this. You never know who it may help.

  5. Lisa,

    yes i hope they may help someone. Myself included! LOL

    Like i said, this is my first time really studying this manuscript closely, so i’ll be reading along [agreeing or disagreeing] with it, like everyone else…

    The author appears to explain things very simply but thoroughly [using mega scriptures] in the sections to come later, [im only posting excerpts] so this may help someone new to prophecy study, get an idea on different viewpoints…

  6. Thank you for this series. I have always had some reservations about the idea of a “rapture” -could never quite see where the Bible teaches that. There is that verse that refers to two women in the field, one will be taken, the other left. But what that really means is unclear to me and I don’t see it as the basis for believing in a ‘rapture’. I will follow this series with great interest. My church is strongly dispensational and to question the teaching of ‘the rapture’ is to make people almost question your faith. No kidding! Our church participated in a sport sevent for charity and ordered tee-shirts for the event so we could be a witness to the community. The shirts say ‘Rapure Ready’. I will be look forward to reading more.

    • My church is strongly dispensational and to question the teaching of ‘the rapture’ is to make people almost question your faith. No kidding!

      I believe you.. Over the years i’ve come to find out that to question any part of the teachings of dispensationalism is tantamount to committing heresy in many peoples eyes. AHA!

  7. I’m still new enough that I still have no clue either way. I haven’t heard the view of the rapture actively taught in our church that I can recall (or perhaps in my newness I missed it :D), but I have met members who are convinced of it. I also like to know where theories come from so thank you for posting this pj!

  8. Isaiah26:20-21 Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers(John 14:2-3 In my Father’s house are many mansion: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 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.) and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. 21 For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.
    Revelation 6:16-17 . . .Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: 17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
    Isaiah 57:1-2 The righteous perisheth and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come. 2 He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.
    Luke 21: 34-36 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. 35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
    2 Thessalonians 1:7-8 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospeol of our Lord Jesus Christ:
    John 6: 39-40, 44, 54 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. 44 No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. 54 Whoso eatheth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.
    I Thessalonians 5:9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ
    Romans 3:4 . . . yea, let God be true, but every man a liar;

    Jesus Christ Himself instructed us to pray that we be found worthy to ESCAPE all these things that shall come to pass and I believe Him above all others. The WORD of GOD says that we are NOT APPOINTED to WRATH.

    Constantine paganized the church. Much of what was understood prior to that time was lost and muddied by people such as Augustine who decided that Revelation was an allegory. Without modern day technology he could not imagine how the imagery of Revelation was possible. For those of us in the modern day world we can clearly identify the imagery and understand the applications of chipping a whole world and controlling an entire world economy through electronic means. 2 Thessalonians 2 is an explanation of why Jesus had not come yet. Obviously those closest to the time of Christ understood it best and thought the coming of the Lord was imminent. The teaching of a removal of the righteous from the specific day of God’s wrath is throughout the entire bible. It is not some relatively new teaching from the 1800s. One such teaching of a pregathering of the saints of God before the tribulation came from Ephraim the Syrian from 373 AD.

    An intense study of the Word of God from Genesis to Revelation will reveal that the Blood of Jesus Christ makes us righteous and not ourselves. Jesus will not lose us but keep us from the great and terrible day of his Wrath . That specific day is for those that know not God and DO NOT OBEY the GOSPEL of JESUS CHRIST. I think that is pretty clear.

    The assumption that people who believe in a pre-tribulation escape for the righteous saints of God are biblically illiterate is truly degrading and insulting.

    I can personally attest that in my 33 years of walking with Jesus Christ I have read the entire Bible from cover to cover over and over and in almost every translation I can get my hands on. His Word has been life to me for 33 years and seen me through wretched times and awesome times. I cling to that Word, Weep with that Word, Laugh with that Word and Mark up my Bibles. It is the dearest thing in my life next to my extremely personal face to face relationship with my Savior. Because I choose to believe Jesus Christ is not a liar and that He would not tell me to PRAY TO ESCAPE something I had no hope of escaping I am branded an idiot. Then an idiot I am.

    I hope that each of you will explore more of the word of God instead of hanging out in the teachings and misconceptions of fallible mankind for centuries on end.

    The Word of God is the final source not Martin Luther, Constantine or even Tim LaHaye. I say to everyone GET INTO THE WHOLE COUNSEL OF GOD AND UNDERSTAND WHOSE YOU ARE!!

    In the love of Christ a staunch pre-trib escapist!

    Becky Russell

  9. I did not see this before. I thank Rebecca for her response and her scripture references. It is my intent to humbly refute her for taking verses out of context and applying them to this dispensational eschatology by reminding everyone of the context of the verses themselves as well as demonstrate that that the dispensational concept is not exegeted in them but rather eisegeted into them.

    Isaiah 26: Poetic prophecy of the retrun of the King of kings. He comes in wrath for His enemies and peace for His own. His fury is not secret, this is the coming of the Lord our righteousness. He will trample His enemies in the winepress of His wrath, leaving only the righteous.

    No mention of a secret rapture. Hiding in a room is not a secret whisking away of believers.

    John 14:

    Jesus is revealing Who He is as well as promising a place for His own, here at the Last Supper before He goes to the garden to begin the passion.

    The entire chapter deals with His promise to not leave His own orphans, but to send another Helper, for He will soon leave them and they cannot follow Him to where He goes yet. He is pouring out love and strength and promise to His disciples because they will need it as they do not fully understand what is soon to take place. He exhorts that if they love Him, they keep His words.

    All christians believe Christ has prepared a place for them and will come again to receive them. This is no evidence of a secret rapture and has nothing to do with it.

    Revelation 6:

    Judgement. 16 and 17 describe the fear and woe of the enemies of God, wishing to die rather bear His judgement.

    Nothing about a secret rapture.

    Isaiah 57:

    God gives an indictment to sinners of the land and foretells of His judgement against them as well as how He will uphold the righteous and the joy they shall have in posessing the land once He has trodden down the evildoers.

    Nothing about a secret rapture. Nor do the righteous escape but rather, have the land cleansed to inhabit due to His justice.

    Luke 21:

    After discussing signs of the times to come, Jesus teaches the visible, impossible not to see (He even states that all will see Him), return. The world is fainting, depressed and terrified, from all the terror of His return and judgement.

    Verse 35 notes that it will fall on ALL who dwell on the face of the earth. No mention of the secret exit of believers.

    He exhorts not to be given to sin, being caught in its trap. He exhorts to stay awake (be sober, vigilant, focused) and to pray to have strength to escape all this sin and stand before Him.

    No secret rapture mentioned.

    2 Thessalonians 1:

    Paul exhorts and comforts believers with the promise of God’s judgement against those under whom they suffer for the kingdom and the relief He will grant to the faithful when Jesus is REVEALED (not secret) from Heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire to punish those who do not obey God or the Gospel. They will suffer eternally.

    No secret rapture mentioned, only a very visible, glorified, wrathful Christ.

    John 6:

    Jesus’ eloquent speaking on the will of God, election, and the work of God. Also where the crowds following Him are revealed to not truly believe Him and disperse.

    On the LAST day, He will raise His own up, that the Father has given Him. Not before it. This is the ressurection. No mention of a secret rapture.

    1 Thessalonians 5:

    Paul exhorts and comforts the church at Thessalonica that they remain vigilant, that the day of the Lord not catch them unawares, as it will be sudden and unknown beforehand, like a thief in the night, for Christ has truly saved us and we are no longer children of wrath, destined for wrath, but to life in Christ Jesus.

    That wrath is the eternal and just wrath of God. Christ was crushed for our sakes, God’s wrath for our sin falling upon His Son. Since the debt was paid, the propitiation acceptable once for all, we are no longer destined to wrath.

    This is not the judgements of the world nor does it mention a secret rapture. It’s speaks of a day when it is too late to become sober and vigilant, when there is no more recourse. The faithful know it is coming and as God said numerous times in scripture, tribulation works the patience of the saints and perfects them in sanctification.

    Romans 3:

    The indictment of mankind. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. The witness of God is true that all have gone astray.

    Nothing at all even remotely connected to a secret rapture.

    Please do note quote verses out of context which have no indication at all toward a secret rapture then chastise those who do not believe this fallacy as seeing themselves as self-righteous.

    The righteous in Christ count it an honor to suffer for His sake, as thousands and thousands of history’s martyrs, those who counted even their own lives as dung for the excellency of knowing Christ Jesus, testify.

    There is no pattern that the righteous escape tribulation. A few have, to God’s purposes and glory, like in Daniel.

    Christ Himself did not. Nor did Jeremiah, etc. The faith ‘hall of fame’ in Hebrews attests that many suffered and died, all righteous, all looking forward in faith to the things they had not yet received.

    Misapplying the blood of Christ, which cleanses us, it is His righteousness that makes us righteous btw (being found with a righteousness not our own), to state that believers have not, do not, and will not suffer is patently false and direct rebellion against the testimony of scripture.

    It is an escapist theory. When Christ visibly returns, those who are His will be changed in a twinkling of an eye and those who are not will be punished.

    This theory of dispensationalism is heretical, unsupported by scripture in its context, and can only be defended if the one opposing you is impressed with verse snippets rather than the full counsel of the word of the everlasting God! It has to be read into the text rather than lifted out, it denies the fulfilment of prophecies that have already been truly fulfilled, it makes God a poor mathematician, and deludes people into easy believism.

    Christ told you to pray to escape SIN. How is it you cannot see this simple thing? The antecedent to the ‘things’ to escape is just a sentence beforehand. And it is drunkeness, etc. You’re looping it way back in the chapter to signs of the closing of the age.

    Much of my professing family is dispensationalist.

    And they cannot answer me biblically, in context, either. I have a much easier time discussing these things with my ammillenial family members than I do the dispensationalists (I am historic pre-mil, no secret rapture before Christ’s coming).

    There is a reason that no verse in scripture clearly lays out the doctrine of secret rapture: it is not true.

    If you wish to continue to believe Darbyism, please do so without assaulting the righteousness of believers as though if one does not buy into dispensationalism, they must think they are self-righteous. Your accusation had nothing to do with the topic and if you’ve known Christ for 33 years, you should be ashamed and repent for that part of your statement. This is how it goes when one cannot defend biblically, attack the person, not the issue.

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