As a Christian, I am always encouraged when a faith based film finds its way to the major screen with quality actors and an interesting narrative. As a conservative Christian I am appalled when the truth of the Word of God is wrongly portrayed by well-meaning, but sincere individuals. The film, Left Behind, starring Nicolas Cage, claims to portray the biblical Rapture as it strikes the world. “Millions of people disappear without a trace. All that remains are their clothes and belongings, and in an instant, terror and chaos spreads around the world. The vanishings cause unmanned vehicles to crash and burn. Planes fall from the sky. Emergency forces everywhere are devastated. Gridlock, riots and looting overrun the cities. There is no one to help or provide answers. In a moment, the entire planet is plunged into darkness.”
My fundamental problem with the film is its claim to be biblically based. It is not. The movie is based upon the writings of a gifted novelist, Tim LaHaye, who has a very vivid imagination. Mr. LaHaye is also a well-known Christian minister who is committed to promoting a theological construct known as Dispensationalism.
For those who are not familiar with Dispensational doctrine, this system of belief insists that one day millions of people will suddenly disappear from earth because Jesus Christ has returned in a secret, silent manner, to snatch the church away to heaven. This Rapture of the Church will be followed by the “beginning of the end,” which means there will be a seven year tribulation period, ruled over by an Anti-Christ, and then the Lord will return yet again with the Raptured church to establish a kingdom on Israel, in Jerusalem, which will last a thousand years.
There are many details to The System known as Dispensationalism, but the Rapture, Tribulation Period, Anti-Christ, and Millennial reign are the highlights.
For more than forty years I have challenged individuals and audiences all over the world to provide one clear biblical passage that teaches the secret Rapture of the church, a seven year tribulation, or a third coming of Jesus Christ.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:16, the apostle Paul speaks of the second coming of Jesus Christ according to the promise of Hebrews 9:28, which teaches that Christ shall come the second time for all who believe. Paul speaks of this event in terms of “a shout, with the voice of an archangel.” In the movie Left Behind, when the alleged Rapture occurred, there was no shout, and there was no voice of an archangel heard.
In the movie Left Behind, the narrative was given that the Rapture marked “the beginning of the end,” meaning that something worse was yet to come. In contrast to the true teaching of Scripture, when Jesus returns the second time for all who believe it will not be “the beginning of the end” but it will be the end of human history as it is now known. When Jesus comes the second time for all who believe (Hebrews 9:28), He will come in the same manner as He went away (Acts 1:11), there will be no additional seven years in which to repent. There will be no triumph of an Anti-Christ to rule the world and receive the worship of the nations. There will be nothing that The System, known as Dispensationalism, advocates.
There are many disturbing facets to The System known as Dispensationalism, not the least of which is that the whole teaching is built upon a lie that many Christian are going to escape tribulation. No one wants to go through tribulation and multitudes of Christians are being promised through books, films, lectures, and sermons that the church will not suffer great tribulation, but will be Raptured before the great tribulation begins.
Perhaps one reason why belief in the Rapture, and the sensationalism of Dispensational theology is so popular, is that God has kept His own promise of judgment to send strong delusions to people who have rejected His truth so that they should believe a lie. “And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thessalonians 2:11, NKJV).
The film Left Behind is a movie that fulfills God’s judgment—upon the church, because so many Christians have refused to believe in Acts 1:11 and Hebrews 9:28. The true biblical teaching is that Jesus is coming again, not secretly, and not silently, but in great glory. Jesus will come a second time to judge the world in righteousness. There will be no third coming of Christ, as The System teaches. There will be no more time to repent. Today is the day of salvation. If you hear His voice, do not harden your heart. Do not think you will escape the tribulation which Jesus said all of His followers will experience. “And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you” (John 16:33 NKJV).