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What Evangelical Leaders Say About the End of the World, Rapture

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    (Photo: Reuters / Shannon Stapleton)
    An advertisement is seen in a New York City subway by the U.S. religious group Family Radio, a Christian radio network, warning of an impending Judgment Day at Times Square in New York May 13, 2011. The designation of May 21came from Family Radio president Harold Camping, who predicted that date through a series of mathematical calculations and the unraveling of codes behind the Bible story of the great flood.
By Michelle A. Vu, Christian Post Reporter
May 20, 2011|10:32 am

The end of the world for "true Christians" is less than 48 hours away – that is according to Harold Camping and his followers. And for non-believers, Camping says the world will be completely destroyed on Oct. 21. But the vast majority of Christians believe that Camping is misleading people with false prophecy.

Pastor Glenn Lee Hill, retired pastor from Rocky Mount, N.C., said false prophecy is harmful and saddening for the Christian body.

“Why? Because when it fails, all of us who believe in Jesus will become fodder for the comics, the late-night talk show hosts, and others who are always looking for a new excuse to mock our faith,” said Hill. “Christianity, the name of Jesus, and all of us who love Him will bear the embarrassment of this false prophecy.”

Yes, unavoidably the name of Jesus Christ will be dragged down and disrespected if the prophecy bears false. It’s worth noting that Camping had also predicted that the world would end in 1994, but his numerology was apparently off.

Here are what other Christian biblical scholars have said recently about the end times, judgment day, and the rapture. They agree that no one can know the time or hour of the rapture and Christ’s return, but acknowledge there are signs and descriptions that the Bible gives regarding the last days.

Pastor Jim Dixon
Senior Pastor of Cherry Hills Community Church in Highlands Ranch, Colo. and author of Last Things Revealed

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On the end times date:

“I think I would be surprised if Christ doesn't come back soon. By that I mean perhaps in my lifetime, perhaps in my children's lifetime, and certainly in my grandchildren's lifetime. But of course we don't know the day or the hour.”

On the rapture:

“We can say definitively that the rapture will take place. That's 1 Thessalonians 4, the lord himself shall descend from heaven with the cry of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise. We who are alive and who are left until his coming shall be caught up with him in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.

So that word "caught up" is a Greek word rendered by the Latin word rapturo, which we get the word rapture. So rapture is definitely going to happen and Christ is going to take his people home. So we certainly affirm and believe definitively that the rapture will take place.

The controversy is around the timing of the rapture. Will it take place prior to the tribulation or will it take place in the middle of the tribulation or will it take place after the tribulation. So we have pre-, mid-, and post-trib perspectives within the Christian world and within the evangelical Christian world.

I could give you scriptural support for pre-trib rapture, but I can also give you scriptural support for post-trib rapture. So I think there is room for discussion and dialogue on a subject like this. We can understand why Christians are not necessarily in agreement on the subject because I don't think the Bible is that clear as to whether the rapture is pre- or post-trib.

I think that, in my view, there are more Bible passages that would support a post-trib rapture, but I'm hopeful that we are raptured prior to the tribulation. I think we would all love to get out, dodge before the bullets start firing.

You know, it is an area of great controversy though, as all areas of eschatology tend to be, filled with debate.”

Difference between rapture and Second Coming:

“Well rapture is simply the end gathering of the church. So when Christ comes he will gather his people, he will gather the church. The catching up, the rapturo, the gathering of the church is the rapture. The Second Coming of Christ is global and we have Christ coming to the world and he will judge the nations. He will sit on his glorious throne and before him will be gathered all the nations and he will separate them one from the other as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

So the Second Coming is to judge the nations as global and the rapture is specifically for the church. The question is are they simultaneous or separated by seven years.”

Pastor Greg Laurie
Senior Pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, Calif.

On the end times date:

"I'm not one of those date setters. Some looney tune will come along and say he's cracked the code. No man knows the day or the hour.”

Dr. Thomas B. Slater
Professor of New Testament at Mercer University

On end times date:

“The end of times is something that we all expect and hope for and look forward to but most Christians aren't in the business of trying to predict that date. They are working toward that date.

Jesus has told his disciples that they should not be concerned with the end of the world but they should be worried about making the world a better place. These people are doing the exact opposite.”

Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

On end times date

“First, Christ specifically admonished his disciples not to claim such knowledge. In Acts 1:7, Jesus said, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.’ In Matthew 24:36, Christ taught similarly: ‘But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.’

Second, the Bible does not contain hidden codes that we are to find and decipher. The Bible has been given to us in order that we might know the truth, and the truth is clearly revealed in its pages. We are not to look for hidden patterns of words, numbers, dates, or anything else. The Bible’s message is plain and requires no mathematical computation for its understanding. The claim that one has found a hidden code or system in the Bible is an insult to the Bible as the Word of God.

Third, Christians are indeed to be looking for Christ to return and seeking to be found faithful when Christ comes. We are not to draw a line in history and set a date, but we are to be about the Father’s business, sharing the Gospel and living faithful Christian lives. We are not to sit on rooftops like the Millerites, waiting for Christ’s return. We are to be busy doing what Christ has commanded us to do.

In Hebrews 9:28, we are taught that Christ will come a second time 'to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.' That is the faithful Christian response to the New Testament teachings about Christ’s coming. The church is not to be arrogantly setting dates, but instead to be eagerly waiting for him. Of that we can be truly certain.”

 

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