End Times Madness -
The Last Coming of Christ.com
"Why are the details so important?"

Introduction
 
I have been sharing the information contained on this Website - the (last) coming of Christ in 70 AD, Christ's true birthday, the timing of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, and more - with friends and acquaintances for over 15  years now. Like most, I completely believed what I have been taught in Sunday school or picked up over the years through conversations, sermons, books, or Hollywood portrayals. 
 
I had no reason to doubt that what I had been told or read was incorrect. Everyone seemed to be singing off the same sheet in the Christian community and I was innocent (and naive) enough to think that the tenets of our belief system were pretty much carved in stone. There was no reason to believe that anyone would alter the truth about the Gospel or other elements of the New Testament. After all, it was history. Who would dare try to change that? This had all been handed down from generation to generation and was bound to be as accurate as when it all began, right?

 
 
"The end times are upon us." 
 
But then something happened: The focus of many outspoken Christians suddenly became "the end times". Thanks greatly to the writings of Tim Lahaye and his wildly popular Left Behind series, conversations about the end of time as we know it became commonplace amongst the members of certain Protestant denominations, echoing the teachings of a rather select group of theologians and modern day "prophets". And again, this was a rather sudden phenomenon, following closely on the heels of Lahaye's first book in 1995.
 
This "fictional" book and the series that followed focused on the key points of modern dispensationalism or "futurism"- the "rapture", the great tribulation, the rise of the "antichrist", the return of Christ, the battle of Armageddon and the end of the world as we know it. The novels were all fictional in nature while being laced with and governed by the main principles of today's dispensationalist, most of which hold that we are now living in the "end times" and that Christ's prophesied return is imminent.

 
 
The Blessed Hope
 
Now, most of the church has held tightly to something they call "the blessed hope" but there is some disagreement in the exact meaning of that term. Some apply that term to the second coming of Christ while others use it to describe our going to Heaven or to the resurrection of the body. I did a keyword search in the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible and found only one verse that contained this specific phrase:
 
Titus 2:13- Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;
 
This verse was contained in a letter by the Apostle Paul to Titus, in which he was encouraging his younger brother in the faith while offering some important advice as a leader of the church. The verse is embedded in a set of instructions concerning godly living, as shown in this New Living Translation version:
 
Titus 2: 11- 15.
 
11 For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. 12 And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, 13 while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. 14 He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.
 15 You must teach these things and encourage the believers to do them. You have the authority to correct them when necessary, so don’t let anyone disregard what you say.
The translation of the 13th verse is different in the two versions in that the KJ V's use of the word "appearing" can be interpreted as a visual event while the New Living Translation suggests that the Paul is simply speaking of something becoming known. 
 
This kind of difference in translations is what divides Christianity into denominations and even sects or cults. And this fact is why some Christians will only read or recommend the King James version while others have their favorite revision in hand. Others discredit even the King James version on various grounds (including the self interest of the King and the early church) and will only read the original language, which is great if you know Greek. There are 20 different versions available on a popular on-line Bible Website, some of which are regularly slammed by conservative theologians, claiming that the editors of some revisions, including the most popular NIV (New International Version), have an agenda to dilute God's Word and sanitize much of what the earlier versions refer to as abominable behavior.
 

What is one to do when faced with so many and varied opinions?

 
 
"Why are the details so important?"
 
The recurring question I get when I launch into Scriptural details with my family, friends, and close clients is "Why are the details so important?" They usually follow that with "Isn't a belief in God, a belief that Jesus is His Son, and a heartfelt desire to live a good life enough?" I answer that with "Yes, for the individual." All we need as an individual to be "saved" and to stay in God's will is to have a firm belief in these things while relying on Jesus to be the Lord of our life. In order to be effective Christians, we need to do what Paul said above to Titus.
 
But when I launch into the subjects contained on this Website, I am usually talking about what we need to do corporately- as the Body of believers- to be the most effective in helping God re-establish His Kingdom here on earth. Certainly, it starts with individual commitment. We need soldiers to enlist in the army. But it is often the case that the commitment stops there. New Christians become focused on walking their individual walk and becoming the best person that they came be. This is a vitally important step- and one that more need to take- but it is not meant to be the final destination. I believe that this is a lifelong pursuit and join Paul in crucifying the flesh every morning as my feet hit the ground.
 
We need to think beyond our personal development and spend more time focusing on the reclamation and expansion of God's Kingdom, which was stolen from Him and us long ago. It takes very little effort living in today's world to see that much of God's Kingdom is occupied by His (and our) enemies just as the Promised Land of the Old Testament was occupied by the enemies of God and His chosen people, the Israelites. Why did God tell them to occupy the land and kill its inhabitants? Why did God tell them not to intermarry with them, take on their customs or even eat their food? Why did He have them kill even their women, children and animals, something that is hard to read in the Old Testament accounts unless we fully understand Creation, "the fall", and God's perfect plan for the salvation- and ultimate success- of mankind.
 
Do we understand these things? Have we even thought about them? Do we look at today's world as "The Promised Land" and see that the Old Testament was a template from which we are to work? Have we fallen for the lie that we can discard the Old Testament as a book of old stories that no longer matter because we now have the New Testament and a new covenant with God? I am about to complete my reading of the OT from start to finish for the first time in my life and I can say that it has been one the most enlightening undertakings of my life. Discard it as history? Absolutely not! What an absurd and destructive notion.

 

No, we need to know as much of God's Word as we can get into us. And therein lies one of the main problems: People are not reading their Bibles. We have atheists and Muslims who know as much or more about the Bible than the average Christian. And I do not mean to be throwing stones here. Until recently, I was exactly the same. But that is why I was thrown so off track by the teachings of the churches I attended. Yes, I was a dyed-in-the-wool futurist, trying to figure out who "the antichrist" might be  and when the end would come. I spent countless hours, nights and days off researching the various aspects of dispensationalism and reading the predictions of the today's "prophets", most of whom all came from the same seminary in Dallas. I had to quit when my stomach started hurting from the inner turmoil it was creating.
 
Suddenly, I was filtering all of the events of the day through the device of dispensationalism. This was fed by the fact that the world did appear to be in turmoil, the level of which was greatly intensified by the events of 9-11. Who didn't question what was happening in the world when that tragic and world-changing event occurred? And yet, that kind of terrorism had been a part of other people's lives for years and years, long before U.S. soil was invaded. I do not mean to take anything away from the significance and tragedy of that day because I believe it was even more significant than most have grasped. But we must keep things in perspective: The destruction of London in WW2 was far worse.  The Jewish Holocaust was far worse. And the regular acts of terrorism in Israel and other foreign countries that occur almost every day should never be underplayed or forgotten.
 
When did we start thinking so fatalistically? When did the focus of so many well-meaning church-goers become so fixed on the end of the world? I know when it happened to me. It began after the ideas in the Left Behind series of Tim Lahaye (the creator and mastermind) and Jerry Jenkins (the former sports writer who brought Lahaye's ideas to life) became the talk of the town- and the church. Lahaye's vision was formed from his knowledge of the futurist ("prophetic") ideas of John Nelson Darby, the father of modern dispensationalism, and those who followed him (e.g. Mary McDonald and Manuel Lacunza). In fact, the idea for his first book reportedly came as He was sitting on a plane in 1994 watching a married pilot flirt with a stewardess. He then imagined what would occur if "the rapture" (the removal of all Christian believers from the earth) was to occur right then and there. He and Jenkins then filled over a dozen "fiction" books with dramatic stories of the lives of those poor individuals left on earth after the rapture as the world fell into chaos. The scenarios were enough to scare almost anyone into believing.
 
Is this the way the world as we know it will end? Does the Bible speak of such a "rapture"? Will God really issue the call for believers that will result in planes crashing, cars colliding, and boats sinking all because the operators of those crafts were Christian and suddenly disappeared? Has God ever done anything like this before? Did God ever pluck the Israelites off a battle field to protect them? Does this sound like something our God would do, knowing that He would have it that none would perish? How does the notion that this could happen at any given moment (as many teach and believe) make us feel and act? Does it encourage us to work toward our goal of re-establishing God's Kingdom or does it simply provide Believers with a safety net to cope with the turmoil of today's troubled world?

 
Most importantly, does God's Word say that this kind of thing is going to happen to mankind in the future? Or, have the elements of dispensationalism been taken out of context, distorted and then applied to the future when, in reality, they were meant for the audience of the day- the Disciples and their generation- and pertained to events that they would experience in their lifetime. Was the "blessed hope" meant to reassure them, as they experienced the persecution of the early church, the worst tribulation of their lives, and the fall of their holy city, Jerusalem, in 70 A.D.?

 
The differences between the two beliefs- whether these events are in the past and or in our future- are vast and the implications of holding to one over the other are tremendous. Those who express the feeling that the details aren't important simply have not thought things through. On the one hand, you have those who go through life believing that the end could come at any moment while on the other you have those who believe the world is without end (as both Isaiah and Paul stated). What does the former belief system do to one's motivation? Which creates the more productive mindset: The idea that the world could end tomorrow in a cataclysm dominated by an antichrist or the belief that the world goes on until we conquer all of God's enemies, just as the Israelites were directed to do when they entered the Promised Land?
 
Of course, the Old Testament Jews failed at this task because they failed to follow God's laws and instructions, not that any of us would have done any better of we were them. But, there is a huge difference between the Christian today and the Israelite of old. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to do all things. (Phil. 4:3)  Do we believe that or not? Have we grasped the fullness of that promise? Why haven't we?
 
One of the main reasons we have not fully realized the power that has been bestowed upon us by God's Holy Spirit is that we have been distracted by the lies of our spiritual enemies. Just as the serpent told Eve in the Garden of Eden that what God said about eating that particular fruit was not true, we have been led to believe that what God inspired Paul to write about our ability to "do all things" is not true. This lack of belief is severely limiting if not totally paralyzing. When combined with the ideas that "Christ could return at any moment" and that "All we can do is pray", the Body becomes a sluggish, ineffective, and hypocritical entity that misuses and abuses the talents that have been bestowed upon it. Remember that parable? What are we doing with our talents? What are we doing with this Almighty power that has been given us?
 
So, the details are important. It is crucial that we understand God's Word lest we become distracted and ineffective, even powerless, losing sight of God's purpose for our lives. We can...and are meant to...win this battle. We are not to sit passively waiting for something that has already happened to occur. We are already empowered to do all things. Christ said it was finished on the cross. What did He mean? He had conquered death and sin through His death and resurrection. He then imparted upon us one of the- if not the- greatest gifts ever give to mankind- the  Holy Spirit, which strengthens us and enables us to do all things.
 
What more do we need? Do we need Him to come back again and do it all over? Or do we just want Him back because we are weary of this world? I had the widow of a Baptist minister conclude our discussion of the world's current events by saying "I'm just glad that Jesus is returning soon so that we can leave this mess to someone else." I understand her frustration with the world. She had been a warrior for much longer than I and fought alongside of a powerful man of God. But she was tired. You could see it in her face. I often wish that the rapture as commonly portrayed was the way it was going to be. There are many days that I too am weary and wish I were in Heaven with my beloved mother and departed loved ones. But...

 
...we have work to do. Thank God we are empowered to do all things. Amen.