Near the end of our Lord’s earthly ministry He told His apostles, “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” Whatever else that statement may communicate to us, one thing should be clear: the truth may be very hard to swallow. The Apostle Paul demonstrated this when he told the Corinthians that they were yet babes in Christ and could not bear strong meat–meaning, of course, some truths that they were not mature enough to handle.

            In dealing with the second coming of Christ we are confronted with just such a dilemma.”Christians” have found several ways around it. Among these is firstly, and the most popular, the “rapture,” the doctrine, or theology, of dispensational premillennialism. And then we also have postmillennialism. While these two theologies are worlds apart in their approach to the second coming of Christ they have one thing very much in common: escapism.

            Jesus asked, “when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Paul said, “perilous times shall come” and, “evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.” Jesus said, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, not ever shall be,” and, “ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.” Also He stated, “because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” It is not a pretty picture, and not one we are likely to want to face. According to the dispensational premillennialists and the postmillennialists we won’t have to. Isn’t that comforting? The former say that before these horrible times come Christ will come and sneak us all out; they call it the rapture. The postmillennialists say that these bad times aren’t coming but rather we are going to Christianize the world through the preaching of the gospel and thereby usher in the millennium and then Christ will come. Boy, isn’t that a relief? If I seem a little sarcastic, please forgive me, as I thought: “the way of the cross leads home,” and that “we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” Surely escapism is in vogue in the Christian communities of today.

            I am reminded of the words of a pastor’s wife, who said, “the trouble with pastoring a church is that you are trying to get people to pay you to tell them what they don’t want to hear.” Who wants to hear about perilous times coming to their life, family and community? Do you want to live in a day when you must take the “mark of the beast” in order to work, earn money and provide for yourself and your family, knowing that you will lose your soul if you do? And if you don’t take it you won’t be able to participate in the economy of the world you live in. It might be quite a struggle; especially when “Christians” start telling you that, “if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” These compromising Job’s comforters, with their holier than thou attitude, will be right there to put you in your place. For you see it can’t be “the mark of the beast” because we get raptured before that happens, of if he is a postmillennialist he will be assuring you that all that happened back in the first century.

            How in the world are we going to win people to Christ while telling them of all these bad things that will be coming to them? I know this older evangelist, who though I had heard preach many times, I had never heard him expound on prophecy and didn’t know just what he believed on the subject. I once asked him what he thought about the issue. He said he expected that we would have to prove our mettle. I am persuaded that is true. True Christianity prospers in a hailstorm. It has prospered when Christians were persecuted, burnt at the stake, imprisoned, fined, beaten, belittled and ostracized. Though Satan try as he may, “the gates of hell will not prevail” against Christ’s church. Compromising the truth for numbers sake, while tempting, is really just a toboggan slide to hell.

            Well if these escapist routes are not sound doctrine, just what is? I will attempt to lay that out for you now.

                                                                        –To Be Continued–

            The above is the start of a planned new book on Christ’s Return. I hope it will whet your appetite for the book Jbc