Tag Archive: Great Tribulation

Jesus is Coming Soon, It Could be Today!

the rapture 3

For those of us who came of age in Evangelical churches in the late 1960s and 1970s, we remember countless sermons about the rapture, the coming second of Jesus, and the Great Tribulation. The classic Evangelical horror flick, A Thief in the Night, was released in 1972. Wikipedia explains the plot of A Thief in the Night this way:

A young woman named Patty Myer awakens one morning to a radio broadcast announcing the disappearance of millions around the world showing that the rapture has occurred. She finds that her family has disappeared and that she has been left behind. The United Nations sets up an emergency government system called the United Nations Imperium of Total Emergency (UNITE) and declare that those who do not receive The Mark of the Beast identifying them with UNITE will be arrested.

Several flashbacks occur to times in Patty’s life before the rapture has happened. The flashbacks also show her two friends and their different approaches to Christianity, one who considers Jesus Christ her Only Lord and Only Savior and the other, Diane, who does not take it seriously. Patty considers herself a Christian because she occasionally reads her Bible and goes to church regularly, where the pastor is really an unbeliever. She refuses to believe the warnings of her friends and family that she will go through The Great Tribulation if she does not accept Jesus Christ as her Only Lord and Only Savior. One morning, she awakens to find that her family and millions of others have suddenly disappeared.

Patty seems a strange breed of person who both refuses to trust Jesus Christ as her Only Lord and Only Savior and also refuses to take The Mark. Patty desperately tries to avoid the law and The Mark but is captured by UNITE. Patty escapes but, after a chase, is cornered by UNITE on a bridge and falls from the bridge to her death.

Patty then awakens, and the entire film’s plot is revealed to have been a dream. She is tremendously relieved; however, her relief is short-lived when the radio announces that millions of people have in fact disappeared. Horrified, Patty frantically searches for her family only to find them missing too. Traumatized and distraught, Patty realizes that The Rapture has indeed occurred, and she has been left behind. In the ensuing plot the questions are whether or not she will be caught, as she was in her dream, and whether or not she will choose to take The Mark to escape execution.

A Thief in the Night had a profound effect on scores of Evangelical Christians. Here was a movie showing in graphic detail what would happen when Jesus comes to earth and raptures away Christians. This movie, along with Estus Pirkle’s 1974 horror flick, The Burning Hell, really unsettled me emotionally and spiritually. Was I ready for the rapture? What if I wasn’t saved? These issues and others certainly played a part in my conversion at Trinity Baptist Church in Findlay, Ohio in the fall of 1973.  (Please see The Sounds of Fundamentalism: A Thief in the Night by Russell S. Doughten and  The Sounds of Fundamentalism: The Burning Hell by Estus Pirkle and Ron Ormond)

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The 1970s featured prophecy-themed sermons from the books of Revelation and Daniel. In 1976, the Walking Bible, Evangelist Jack Van Impe came to Findlay to hold a city-wide crusade. Van Impe’s sermons were filled will warnings about the imminent return of Jesus and the Great Tribulation. I attended a Bob Harrington crusade (Please see Evangelist Bob Harrington: It’s Fun Being Saved) that featured several sermons about the soon return of Jesus. The widely-read Sword of the Lord ran regular articles and sermons about the pretribulational rapture of the church and the horrors of the soon-coming Tribulation.

Much of the evangelistic frenzy in the 1970s was driven by the belief that Jesus was preparing to come back soon — maybe today! Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) churches, in particular, grew quickly, so much so that many of the largest churches in the United States were IFB congregations.

Of course, Jesus did not return in the 1970s. The 1980s saw Hal Lindsay’s book, The Late, Great Planet Earth, first published in 1970, which renewed Evangelical fervor with its prediction that the rapture would take place 40 years after the 1948 establishment of Israel as a nation. Lindsay’s book, The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon, continued to stoke the fires of Evangelical zeal. (By 1990, The Late, Great Planet Earth had sold 28 million copies.) In 1988, Edgar Whisenant released a publication titled 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will be in 1988. (88 Reasons sold 4.5 million copies, and 300,000 free copies were mailed to pastors.) Whisenant predicted that the rapture would take place between September 11 and 13, 1988. Jesus, of course, was a no show in 1988 and has yet to make an appearance to this day.

By the time the 1990s arrived, rapture-mania had pretty well died out. Oh, Evangelical pastors and evangelists still preached eschatological themed sermons, but the fervor that drove churches previously was gone. While preachers still preach about the imminent return of Jesus, such sermons no longer motivate congregants to busily win souls before Jesus comes again and it is too late.

Officially, most Evangelicals believe in the pretribulational rapture of the church. However, if you let their works testify to what they really believe, it is evident that Evangelicals no longer believe that Gabriel is fixing to blow his trumpet and Jesus is returning in the clouds to catch away his chosen ones. TV preachers such as con artist Jim Bakker continue to preach up the could-be-tomorrow rapture, but tomorrow never comes and their bank accounts continue to grow.

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Evangelicals have traded a soon-coming Lord for megachurches, fancy AV systems, praise bands, relational preaching and, most importantly, political power. Evangelicals seem far more concerned with expanding their kingdoms on earth than they do evangelizing the lost and building the kingdom to come. I don’t know of one Evangelical preacher, church leader, or congregant, for that matter, who lives as if Jesus could split the eastern sky today. I told Polly last night that Evangelicals sure do talk and sing a lot about Heaven, but none of them seem to be in much hurry to get there. The vast majority of Evangelicals not only are indifferent about their own souls, but they also couldn’t care less about the souls of their unsaved, heathen neighbors. Evangelicalism has become that which it stood against decades ago — institutionalized. It has become little more than cultural religion. The only reason any of us should give a thought about Evangelicalism is that it continues to have a dangerous anti-human hold on the Republican Party. Unbelievers now outnumber Evangelicals in the United States, but we have nowhere near the political and cultural power Evangelicals have.

Evangelicals can continue to preach up the soon return of Jesus, but it’s evident to anyone who is paying attention that they no longer believe what they are preaching. In fact, I suspect many Evangelicals hope Jesus isn’t in any hurry to destroy the world with fire. Deep down, most Evangelicals wonder if they really want to trade the good life of the here and now for an eternity of prostrating themselves before a narcissistic God.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 62, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 41 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

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God Plans to Kill Billions of People — Every Buddhist, Muslim, Catholic, Hindu, and Atheist

end of the world

According to Richard Schmidt, the founder of Prophecy Focus Ministries, with the worldwide flood recorded in Genesis 6-9, God killed every living thing on planet earth save Noah, his family, the animals on the ark, and the little bitty fishes in the sea::

The voice of God reached the ears of Noah declaring the most severe judgment ever proclaimed since God created the universe in a literal six-day period (cf. Gen. 1:31). God instructed Noah by providing, in exact detail, the specifications of a massive ark that would provide the only escape from guaranteed judgment. Think about it—out of millions of people, only eight survived the catastrophic judgment of the universal flood. Why were these few people the only ones that God saved?

What did the inhabitants of earth (and their puppies and kitties) do to warrant God opening up a can of whoop ass and killing millions of people? Schmidt says:

The Creator and ultimate judge of the world, made the judicial determination that the ungodly actions of the world’s population in the days of Noah forced Him to condemn the people to death.

Schmidt warns that God’s genocidal cleansing of the earth is a precursor of what God plans to do at some point in the future:

Does God have a plan that will mimic the horrific judgment of the universal flood, resulting in a massive number of people losing their lives and, worse yet, an eternity separated from God Himself? The Bible provides the answer. The facts are startling and require every person to consider very seriously their relationship with the Creator of the universe.

….

What is the lesson of Noah, the ark and the flood for those living in the present dispensation? First, God warns all people of judgment for those who refuse to hear and accept His plan for salvation. Second, God’s justice demands a reverence, or godly fear, that results in listening to and heeding God’s Word. Third, all people stand condemned to eternal punishment for refusing to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as the complete and only payment for their sin. Finally, all who come to the Lord Jesus by faith and accept God’s gift of salvation will live for eternity in the presence of God. Those who rejected God in Noah’s day suffered condemnation, and those who reject the gospel, or good news, of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ likewise stand condemned. Lesson learned or rejected? What will you do with Jesus today

The second time around, all the Christians will be raptured from the earth before God literally fulfills the horrors recorded in the book of Revelation. While Christians are busy in Heaven schmoozing with Jesus and the Apostles, untold violence, carnage, bloodshed, and death will be poured out by God upon earth’s inhabitants. Billions and billions of unborn babies, children, teenagers, and adults will be tortured and slaughtered by means best suited for an episode of Criminal Minds or a remake of Texas Chainsaw Massacre — Tribulation Edition.

Most of our planet’s inhabitants aren’t followers of Jesus, and I suspect that for those who say they are, Schmidt likely believes that many of them are not True Christians®. After all, only eight people out of millions were given a bunk on Noah’s floating zoo. Humans are just as sinful, if not more, as they were in Noah’s day (though, to be fair, I haven’t heard any reports of demonic angels having sex with human women, producing hybrid offspring).  Matthew 24:37-39 states:

But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

In other words, people were so busy sinning and living that they had no time for God. What did God expect? His only spokesman was a crazy old man who was saying it was going to rain and people needed to get on the big boat he was building in the middle of the desert.

In Noah’s day, according to Genesis 6:5-7:

And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them.

God became so angry over the “wickedness of man” that he decided to do a master reset, destroying every human being except Noah, his wife, sons, and daughters-in-law. What happened to Noah’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren? Wasn’t there room for them and their toys on the Ark? What about Noah’s daughters? Were they the ones screwing around with demonic angels? So many questions.

dexter killing tools

According to many Evangelicals, we are living in the last days. We should expect Jesus to return to planet earth at any moment to rapture away the people with advanced reservations, leaving behind billions of Buddhists, Muslims, Catholics, Hindus, Atheists, Agnostics, and Pagans, along with every other non-Christian. Then God will unwrap his Dexter-like tools of torture and homicide, slaughtering everyone who doesn’t remember the date, time, and place where Jesus saved them. Billions of people will die for no other reason than having the wrong religion or being born in the wrong country. Worse yet, when God is done killing everyone, he is going to resurrect them back to life, judge them, and toss their sorry asses in the Lake of Fire. God is so bent on making non-Christians pay for all the shit that went down over the past four or so thousand years, that he plans to give the people in the Lake of Fire new bodies that will withstand being roasted for eternity. Ain’t God awesome?

Tell me, dear Christians, why would anyone ever want to worship such a moral monster? Out of fear? Is that the best the Schmidts of the world have to offer — fear God, get saved, or he is going to roast you (or drown you)? No thanks. Even if such a God exists — and he doesn’t — who would want to worship him? Is such a deity worthy of my love and devotion?

Perhaps Evangelicals love their Jonathan Edwards’ version of God. Being part of the elect — God’s special, chosen people — means God picked them over billions of other people. God made sure they were born in the right country to Christian parents who would make sure that their children didn’t have sex with demon angels, never masturbated, and sincerely asked Jesus in their heart at age twelve. (Please read Why Most Americans are Christian) Again, ain’t God awesome?

It is hard not to conclude that the Evangelical God created most humans just so he could kill them for sport. If the Calvinists are right, that God is sovereign, and nothing happens apart from his perfect plan, pray tell, how does God twice slaughtering the human race resemble anything close to a “plan”?