So yesterday's service was all about the NUMB3R Zero -- as in there will be zero raptures of the kind that Left Behind or The Late Great Planet Earth describe it. It's one of my favorite conversations/debates to have within the church.
It got off to great start as Anjie Carpenter led us in worship. So smooth yet so powerful.
Then came James-Michael Smith's sermon intro video. See it here:
Then it came time for the message. We saw from Matthew 24:36-41 that being "left behind" is actually a good thing -- because that's what happened to Noah and his family in contrast to those who forgot God and were "swept away" in the flood. We also saw that I Thessalonians 4:16-17 can't really be describing a secret rapture scenario because there Jesus' return is loud and obvious. It also can't be his return after the seven years of tribulation because 4:17 refers to "we who are still alive and are left . . . " "We who are left" means Christians. How could they be "alive" on earth and "left" if they've all been raptured away seven years earlier? So that passage suggests a very different Second Coming than the one Left Behind describes.
So if I don't believe in a Left Behind rapture, what do I believe in? That Jesus will return at an unexpected time and in an unmistakable way. He will defeat Satan, judge the quick and the dead, and bring with him a new heavens and a new earth. Up there comes down here in a way beyond our understanding. Until then, Christians will endure all kinds of joys and struggles, blessings and persecutions. We're not supposed to hope for an escape from the world; we are part of God's plan in redeeming it. That's why Revelation tells us to "overcome."
Probably my favorite part was the end. We sang "Sing To The King" which has the best verse:
For His returning we watch and we pray,
We will be ready the dawn of the that day
We'll join in singing with all the redeemed
As Satan is vanquished and Jesus is King.
That's something all Christians -- whether they subscribe to a rapture or not -- can sing together. And so we did.
You can listen to the message here.