I am a Bible believer. In fact, I still believe the same things about the Bible that I was taught shortly after being saved. I believe; salvation is by grace, we are eternally secure, the Lord is coming back to Rapture us out of here before any of the Tribulation starts, then there will be a seven year long Tribulation followed by the 2nd Advent of Christ as He sets up His Millennial reign on this earth. Nothing has changed. Yet as I reflect on the past years I have come to realize that these truths were taught to me with the wrong emphasis. Even worse, it seems that this erroneous emphasis has been ingrained into the vast majority of Bible-believing Christianity.
Primarily, this incorrect attitude concerns our view of the Rapture. It is simply an attitude that seems to say, "The Lord is coming within the next year so there is no sense it starting anything that takes a long time to do because it won't get finished anyway." It seems to parallel an old song I heard years ago where a man sings, "Ain't got time to fix the windows. Ain't got time to fix the doors. Ain't a gonna need this house no longer, I'm a gittin' ready to meet the Saints."
I got saved in 1970 and was immediately called of God to go to Bible college. Yet I almost didn't go, "because the Lord is coming back" and would be back before my scheduled graduation in 1973. Only the advice of a trusted preacher who told me, "If the Lord wants you in Bible college when He comes back then that better be where He finds you!" convinced me to go. I went to college and surprisingly the Lord didn't come back before I finished.
I had said I would never have time to get married, "because the Lord is coming back and will be here before I can find a wife." But Kathy and I have now been married for over 25 years. "But we'll never have children because the Lord is coming back and will be here before we can have any." Yet we had three. "But we'll never see them grow up to adulthood because the Lord is coming back and will be here before they can grow up." Yet 24 years after I graduated from Pensacola Bible Institute I was there to see my oldest son graduate. Now Nathan will finish school this year and be in PBI by Fall. "But I'll never see any grandchildren because...Wanna bet!!!"
I am afraid that too many Christians have used the imminent return of Christ for an excuse to do nothing. How many of you never tried to save any money for the future because, "We won't be here long enough to use it." You have steadfastly refused to start anything that took long term commitment because, "We'll be gone soon and there won't be time to finish it." Yet some of you have been saved for as long as I have and you're still here! And with precious little to show for it! Your misconception of the truth has inspired you to do nothing. You have been so sure that the Lord had to be back in time to start His millennial reign by the year 2000 that you haven't done anything with any depth. Now you're more sure than ever that His coming is "just around the corner" so you plan on standing around, twiddling your thumbs, thinking you can brag to Him how you have done nothing for twenty years while you waited patiently for Him to return. ("Their strength is to sit still")
You'd better sit down while I tell you what I believe. I believe the return of the Lord is imminent. I believe He can be back before you finish reading this letter. That's my doctrine! Furthermore, I believe the Lord is going to come back with enough time to have the seven year long Tribulation take place before He sets up His reign.
Now let me tell you what I don't believe. I don't believe that our calendar is correct! If it was we would have been out of here years ago. In fact, I believe it may be as many as twenty years off. The fact is, I think we may have another twenty to twenty-five years before the Lord returns.
Now wait! Before you call me a heretic, think about the thought that just went through your mind..."There's no way we can have that long!" But isn't that exactly what you would have said if you had read the same statement TWENTY YEARS AGO? Weren't you just as certain twenty years ago that we would be in Heaven right now waiting for the Tribulation to end so we could return with the Lord to start the Millennium. You were wrong about the last twenty years. Why can't you be wrong about the next twenty?!
Furthermore, if you did believe we would still be here twenty years ago you thought we would have been in prisons and concentration camps by now. You were wrong again!
I believe twenty years from now you may well be sitting there reading "Letter From A Friend, #235" with less hair, more body fat and one of your grandchildren on your lap, still attending the church you do now and wishing you had saved for your retirement. (God believes in retirement.) You think I'm wrong? I'm not as wrong as you have been for the last twenty years!
You say, "Do you have any Scripture to prove what you believe?" Of course not! But everybody who has dated the Rapture for the last twenty years has had Scripture for their mistaken date. If they can be wrong with Scripture, I reserve the right to be wrong without it!
I'm telling you to prepare yourself to be here on January 1, 2001. And quit using the Rapture as your excuse for being irresponsible with your future and that of your children. If we're in Heaven by this time next year I'll apologize to you there. (And finally being perfect, you'll forgive me.)
I don't care what you believe nor about your "don't start anything now" attitude. I am going to use the next twenty years to try and turn America back toward God. Because, like you, I believe we are headed for national judgement. But, unlike you, I don't believe I'm so special to God that He's going to protect me through that judgement. I am not just marking time till He comes! Twenty years from now I may be telling one of my grandchildren about the "Great Revival of 2004" and my part in it while you sit in your dilapidated old house singing..."Ain't got time to fix the windows. Ain't got time to fix the doors."
Prov 13:22 "A good man leaveth
an inheritance to his children's children..."