On Sunday our Pastor preached about The End Times. It was interesting because we don’t hear a lot of preaching on the subject. I’m certainly no End Times scholar. My End Times theology is very simple. I believe Jesus is coming back to reign, that will be wonderful, we don’t know when and until then things will get a lot worse before they get better. I don’t find hardly anyone who disagrees with me on these basics. With that theology I am motivated to tell others about Jesus and wait with joyful expectation.
The fighting starts with things like the Rapture. Will it happen? If so when? I do mean fighting because if you google “the rapture” you will read some of the nasty things said by one group of Christians about another. People are really serious about their opinion. The truth is there is support for most opinions in the scripture and no solid proof of either.
I find a direct connection between one’s basic theology and their opinions about The End Times. Grace people tend to be pretrib rapture folks. By “grace” people I don’t mean people who talk about grace, but I mean people who are comfortable with grace. They believe that we are saved by grace and that we can become real followers of Jesus motivated by gratitude for our salvation and empowered by his life changing grace. They can distinguish between persecution, which we all suffer in widely varying amounts, and the wrath of God which none of us has yet experienced. They can see that persecutions will increase as the end draws near. They know that wrath will only come at the end and that, like in the days of Noah, God can choose to exempt His people from that wrath. After all, what does He have to be wrathful about toward His children?
Grace plus people, however, talk about grace but aren’t real comfortable with the concept. They always feel that something more is required. They don’t believe they have repented enough, or worked enough or gotten holy enough. They understand they don’t deserve salvation. Who does? They are never secure. They keep repenting and working and worrying. Some are long time followers of Christ who can’t help but compare what they have done for Jesus with what others have done and wither under the unfairness. They are like the prodigal’s brother, jealous of the fatted calf. They never know they are saved. They wallow in insecurity. For them, deep down they believe they deserve the wrath and aren’t comfortable with the idea that God would spare them, now or during the end times.
Maybe there will be a rapture before tribulation. I hope so and will rejoice in that. Maybe not. I will trust that God’s grace will allow me to get through whatever comes, just like it has all my life. Grace people have a much easier time awaiting the end. They look forward to it with joy. Grace plus people apply the same dread to it that they apply to the rest of their lives. It’s really just sad.