Thursday, January 30, 2014

Left Behind Is for the Biblically Blind

I really like Nicolas Cage as an actor. The Rock, National Treasure, and Family Man are three of my favorite Nicolas Cage movies. Unfortunately, Nicolas Cage is also the new star of a 2014 major motion picture release entitled Left Behind. This movie is the Hollywood reboot of the insanely popular Left Behind series of books by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins.  The only thing worse than people not reading the Bible for themselves is for them to get their theology from a Hollywood motion picture. Even worse, when evangelical Christians think Left Behind represents sound biblical theology about the end of the world, we expose ourselves as being biblically ignorant. 95% of Christians believe what they believe about the end of the world because somebody--either a pastor, a parent, or a popular teacher--told them what to believe. Gone is the day when Christians search the Scriptures for themselves.

The prophet Daniel in his prophecy called "the scroll (book) of Daniel," the Lord Jesus Christ in His prophecy of Matthew 24, and the apostle John in his prophecy called Revelation, all predict the same thing - and it is NOT the end of the world. The prophets of the Old Covenant, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the early apostles all predicted the end of the Old Covenant way of life (Jewish sacrifices, Temple rituals, yearly festivals, etc...) through the fall of the Temple, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the scattering of God's Old Covenant people.

The prophets of Scripture gave a very specific time as to when the Old Covenant Jewish kingdom would come to an end. Daniel said in his prophecy that the Jews had 70 weeks left (490 years), Jesus in His prophecy of Matthew 24:34 said the Jewish way of life (Old Covenant Temple worship) had a generation left (40 years).  and the apostle John said that the events in his prophecy (the same events predicted by Daniel and Jesus) would occur "very soon" (Revelation 1:1) and that the events prophesied in the book were "near" (Revelation 1:3). It was Jesus expressed purpose to fulfill every jot and tittle of the Old Covenant Law through His life, death and resurrection, and then inaugurate His New Covenant whereby He would "make the Law obsolete" and cause it to "disappear" (Hebrews 8:13). Jesus successfully accomplished His work on behalf of sinners (His life, death and resurrection), and then a generation later He sent the Roman army to destroy the Jewish Kingdom in AD 70, similar to the way God used foreign armies to destroy other rebellious nations in the Old Testament (the Assyrians, the Egyptians, the Babylonians, etc...)  Again,  Daniel, John and Jesus all prophesied the end of the Jewish kingdom!  Interestingly enough, God told Daniel to "seal up the scroll" (Daniel 12:4), a Hebrew euphemism indicating the events of Daniel's prophecy (the end of the Jewish Kingdom) were a long way away. However, God told John not to "seal the scroll" of his prophecy (see Revelation 22:10)--a prophecy John wrote in AD 68 (see Kenneth Gentry's Before Jerusalem Fell)--because "the time is near." Jesus said shortly before his death (AD 30) that "all these things" - meaning the end of the Temple and the Jewish Kingdom--would be "fulfilled within a generation" (40 years). Just like the Messiah foretold, the Old Covenant disappeared completely in AD 70!

Any person with a modicum of biblical literacy knows that Daniel, Jesus and John prophesied about the end of the Old Covenant Jewish Kingdom. The New Covenant people of God are those who trust His Son, both Jews and Gentiles. In the New Covenant, faith in the risen Lamb of God makes a sinner--whether male or female, slave or free, rich or poor--a priest unto God. We, the people of Christ, are the new Temple of God. The Royal Law of our King (James 2:8) is the law of love for one another, the same kind of love Christ has for us (John 13:35). In this New Covenant agreement inaugurated by Christ, I live by faith in the risen Son of God, "who loved me and gave Himself for me" (Galatians 2:20). My at-one-moment with God occurred through the atonement of my King! I trust in no ritual, no festival, no law apart from faith in Him. I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection!

So, let me just encourage those of you who are tempted to see Left Behind as Christian orthodoxy to pick up your Bible and read for yourself! Revelation is a glorious book showing how God ended the Old Covenant Kingdom of the Jews and inaugurated the eternal Kingdom of His Son. You and I are members of that Kingdom via faith in the risen Savior! Unfortunately, the beauty of Jesus Christ is missed by Hollywood, and the poor theology of this film will lead to restless living by those who believe the movie to the neglect of their Bibles. It's worth repeating; Left Behind is for the biblically blind.


John said...

I am so delighted to see this most credible proof Wade. My, how this teaching should be made known and embraced. I am currently teaching this very thing to my college class as a foundation to the course, Gospels and Acts. Thank you for providing such a wonderful presentation of this great truth and the most outstanding resources I have ever seen on this subject. I also very much appreciate you allowing me to repost the excellent article on Mutual Submission on my blog. Keep these outstanding articles coming and I would love to see you write on the millennium sometime.

Anonymous said...

Agree fully on new covenant but guess I miss how the "rapture" applies to the argument. Are you implying we are not in the church age and looking for Jesus to come back any minute and split the mount of olives?

Wade Burleson said...


I'm not sure I understand your question.

The word "rapture" means caught up, and of course I believe we will be "caught up" to meet the Lord in the air when He comes to end this age (i.e. "the age of grace," or "the church age"). What I'm saying is how and when He comes to end the world as we know it is not the subject of the book of Revelation.

Revelation is a prophecy of when He would come in judgment on the Jews to end the OLD AGE, that is, the Old Covenant system of worship.

It was prophecy when written, fulfilled within a short time of its writing. The principles of Revelation, however, are profitable for us.

Don't put your stock in any human government. :)


Anonymous said...

"Gone is the day when Christians search the Scriptures for themselves."

I routinely stand in front of my Sunday school class and ask them to (1) study the Scriptures on their own, and (2) ignore anything I say that doesn't match up.

My favorite verse is Acts 17:11. Despite the fact that Paul and Silas were doing the teaching, the Bereans were specifically commended for checking (daily!) to see if the teaching was correct.

Unlike today's preachers and teachers, Paul had apostolic authority and could have said, "Because I said so." He didn't, and no pastor or teacher today should either. And every layman should check it for himself, no matter who tries to tell him what to belive.

Wade Burleson said...


A hearty, healthy, heart-felt AMEN.


JR said...

"So, let me just encourage those of you who are tempted to see Left Behind as Christian orthodoxy to pick up your Bible and read for yourself!"

This sentence implies that those who hold to a premill-pretrib view of the end are not orthodox.

I'm not full-on dispensational, but I would never call the view unorthodox. Just as I wouldn't call your partial preterism unorthodox.

Not wanting to argue with the post as a whole, just want you to think about whether or not you are being charitable.

Now, as for Nicholas Cage being a terrible actor. No need to be charitable there.

Tom said...


As you have stated previous you are a Preterism while others like Joel Richardson hold to a Premillennium understanding and you both, like the others who hold to a particular “theory” of God’s end time plan, use the full testimony of the scriptures to justify your understanding of what is to happen in the near and distant future.

I hold to a different theory, and I too believe that the full testimony of the Scriptures supports my views on the last days and the latter years.

Now, there is always some truth in each of the theories but most of the theories contain glaring errors which does not lead to a unity in understanding in the body of the “Church” which acknowledges that Jesus is “Lord.” Sadly, we must also acknowledge that not everyone who calls Jesus “Lord” will be known to Him.

There is a time coming when God will establish a Messianic Kingdom on the earth based on the foundational truth that will come down from heaven, pictorially represented as a rock untouched by human hands, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that this truth will strike at the feet of the statue in Daniel 2 such that it will cause all of the segments of the statue to fall and to be turned into dust like one finds on the threshing floor and that at the right time, the wind will cause this dust to be blown away so that it is remembered no more on the earth.

The hardest part for us all is to remove that which makes us unrighteous in the eyes of God and to be able to humbly come in servanthood to kneel at His feet in adoration and worship of our God and Father.

Perhaps we focus too strongly on small sections of the Bible and consequentially miss the very heart of God and His desire for his servants to be doing that which he drew us near to do as if we were Him in this world.


Tom Ross

Wade Burleson said...


Good point. Too unintentionally strong. My apologies.


Wade Burleson said...

Tom Ross,

Excellent wisdom. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I've read and reread your post and I don't think I understand what you're trying to say. So you believe there IS a Rapture, but after that, what? You do believe in the Second Coming that Jesus promised over and over? What happens to everyone after that? All the unbelievers just live in harmony together without any Christian presence on earth whatsoever? Once the Rapture happens, the Tribulation starts and Satan will be let loose on all humanity. Do you not believe in the Tribulation, the Judgement Seat of Christ, Millennium, or the final War to End all Wars? I just don't understand your post at all. To say there is no end to all this is completely unScriptural. Please explain a little more what you think happens.

Wade Burleson said...

"You do believe in the Second Coming that Jesus promised over and over? What happens to everyone after that?"


Anonymous said...

Who goes to heaven? Everyone?

Wade Burleson said...

Those who have "kissed" (embraced) the Son. Those who have received Jesus the Anointed One as their personal Lord (King) and Savior (deliverer). Faith alone in Christ alone saves sinners, and those with faith in Christ are those who receive the keys of His Kingdom.

Anonymous said...

I understand and know that. I made Christ my personal Lord and Savior decades ago through Faith alone in Christ alone. But you're still not making sense. You've made no mention of hell. So is what you're saying once the Rapture happens all the believers will go to heaven, and all the unbelievers will go... where? Do they all just die off once they're left here at the Rapture? You're still not explaining anything about what happens after the Rapture. What do you think happens after the Rapture, and what happens to the unbelievers left behind?

Wade Burleson said...


I see it seems difficult for you view the future in any other framework than the paradigm with which you have been taught.

When Jesus comes to fold up this age of grace and usher in "heaven on earth" (i.e. "the meek will INHERIT the earth), ALL the dead will rise from their graves and be judged by Christ. Those who are righteous because of faith in HIS life, HIS atoning death, and HIS resurrection, receive life eternal. Those who are without God's grace and the atonement of Christ will answer for every one of their actions on earth and be rewarded accordingly. Moral sinners will receive a just punishment that is not as severe as immoral sinners.

The righteous inherit all that Christ obtained for us.



Wade Burleson said...

"Every person will give an account" is the judgment of those without the atonement of Christ. Their sentence is "hell" - but hell is simply an isolated prison where sinners are kept from the mercies of the eternal God, just punishment for their rebellion toward Him.

Heaven is the blessings of those who are righteous, not because of anything they have done, but because of what the Substitute has done on our behalf - "Kiss the Son, lest He be angy" (Psalm 2:12).

Anonymous said...

Mr. Burleson, I have difficulty accepting anything that is non-Biblical. In the Bible, the actual Bible, it says that anyone who hasn't believed on the name of Christ will perish for eternity in the Lake of Fire, a horrible place where there will be crying and gnashing of teeth. Your version of "Hell" seems pretty tame and not based on any scripture I've ever read. Your version sounds more like everyone is going to heaven, but the "immoral sinners" or unbelievers will just be go to sort of "lesser version of heaven" where they don't receive God's rewards or mercies. I don't understand what you mean by an "isolated prison". We're ALL sinners. Only believers who have put God first in their life, made it their priority to seek His word and know Him and grew to mature believers are the ones who will inherit rewards and rule and reign at the Millenium, believers who didn't put God first and basically lived their own lives with their own will and volition, sinning all their life, will still go to heaven but not receive the rewards they would have had in heaven. Both of these groups of believers, who are all sinners will go to heaven. Sin is not the issue at the judgement. Only if you believed in Christ or didn't. Now people who didn't believe in Christ as their Savior will go to hell, the Lake of Fire, no ifs ands or buts about it. Preaching or teaching anything else is a lie and unBiblical. So if I'm understanding what you're saying is the Rapture happens, we have a judgement where everyone gives an account, then we either go to heaven if we're believers, or some sort of "isolated prison" if we didn't accept Christ? Do you believe there is no Lake of Fire? If so, how can you back it up with scripture? Or where do you find this "isolated "prison" in scripture? You give me more questions than answers so far.

Wade Burleson said...


Most of your questions on almost any topic you can imagine will have answers on my blog. Go to the "search blog" feature at the top and type in your key word. Hell, for example, is discussed here:

The Real Hell Is Real Holy

Anonymous said...

Wow... Your beliefs are so far out there that I don't think there's anything I can say or show you to reel you back into scriptural reality. You place far too much emphasis on sin. Yes it's imperative to confess it and try to life as sinless as humanly possible, but when Christ died for our sins, His blood covered us. God doesn't judge our sins at the Judgement seat, Jesus already paid for those sins. The only unpardonable sin is disbelief in Christ and that's what we're judged for at the judgement seat. But as far as different punishments for "bad" or "less bad" sins is just untrue. I find it funny how you mention several times of False teaching in your blog, when you seem blind to the fact that you're teaching False doctrine yourself. The claims you make about the Lake of Fire are so far from Biblical truth it's sad. All I can do it pray that the Holy Spirit will convict you of your waywardness because you appear to at least be a true Christian. But I'm confounded by your beliefs.

Wade Burleson said...


I'm not sure what you are reading, but I think you are mis-reading. Those who answer for their sins are only those who have no part or portion in Christ's atonement. God sees no sin in His people. Nevertheless, thanks for your concern for my spiritual welfare.

Christiane said...


with all respect, I don't grasp the concept of a 'moral sinner' . . . could you please expand on this phrase? And thanks in any case.

I keep thinking about this from Scripture:
(1 Timothy 1:18-19)

"18 This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son,
in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight,
19 keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith."

Wade Burleson said...


If a person refuses to receive Christ as King and Redeemer of his or her life, it would be advantageous for that Christ rejecter to live the most moral life possible.

The punishment that person who refuses to trust Christ receives from the just Creator will be meted out according to the person's actions. In other words, God ensures that one's punishment fits the crime.

However, on the flip side (heaven), God ensures all the rewards of those in heaven are the result of Christ's obedience. Those in heaven are called "saint" and "righteous" not because of their own conduct or any merits within them, but because they have "received a righteousness that is not their own, not one obtained from their obedience to any law, but a righteousness that comes from God and is found by faith in Christ. Therefore, I want to know Christ..." (Paul's words to the Philippian Christians).

A "moral sinner" is one who refuses to accept Christ but seeks to live as moral of a life as possible. His moral life will not bring him peace with his God, but it will lessen his sentence on the Day of judgment.

Hope that clarifies.

Christiane said...

Yes, thank you WADE, it does help.

The only actual connector we have with this is a way of looking at a person who does not have access to knowledge about Christ,
but who is living as best he can in accordance with his moral conscience.

I realize the following is NOT something found in evangelical circles, but it is in keeping with the teachings of my own faith that see an even wider circle created by the Paschal Mystery for the sake of the salvation of fallen mankind:

"As Peter proclaimed before the Sanhedrin at the very start of the apostolic preaching:
"There is no other name in the whole world given to men by which we are to be saved" (Acts 4:12)."

For those too who through no fault of their own do not know Christ and are not recognized as Christians, the divine plan has provided a way of salvation... we believe that
"God in ways known to Himself can lead those inculpably ignorant of the Gospel" to the faith necessary for salvation.
Certainly, the condition "inculpably ignorant" cannot be verified nor weighed by human evaluation,
but must be left to the Divine Judgment alone.
For this reason, the Council states that in the heart of every man of good will,
"Grace works in an unseen way.... The Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to every man the possibility of being associated with this Paschal Mystery"

(an except from John Paul II Wed. Audience, May 31 1995)

Christiane said...

'except' should be 'excerpt' (sorry)

Debbie Kaufman said...

Anonymous: Did you read the scripture placed by each and every point Wade made in the "Hell" articles? If not I would behoove you to look them up, study them.

No one can say for absolute certain what hell is like. Heaven is so many more times greater than the Bible teaches, God is more time holier, greater, more powerful than the Bible teaches. Hell is so different than what we can comprehend. And it is holy as Wade pointed out because all God creates and does it holy. Think about these things as you form your doctrine. And make sure it is what the Bible is actually saying. Because the truth of the matter is, most doctrine in the United States is based on hand me down doctrine and not based on what the Bible actually teaches.

Wade Burleson said...


Amen, and Amen.

Unknown said...

"And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn." Zechariah 12:10

Does this not speak of ethnic Israel?

Headless Unicorn Guy said...

Left Behind (book or movie) just carries on a long tradition. I'm a veteran of The Gospel According to Hal Lindsay in the Seventies, and LB is just THE latest incarnation of Darbyite Pre-Trib Secret Rapture end-time choreography.

I experienced the fruits of that in the Seventies, and they weren't pretty:
* "It's All Gonna Burn" passivity
* Even more Wretched Urgency to Sell That Fire Insurance, as that was the only thing that mattered
* A 3 1/2 book Bible: Daniel, Revelation, the "Nuclear War Chapter" of Ezekiel (the 1/2) and Late Great Planet Earth (which superseded the other 2 1/2)
* Christians For Nuclear War ("It's Prophesied, It's Prophesied...")

Headless Unicorn Guy said...

Now, as for Nicholas Cage being a terrible actor. No need to be charitable there.

He's probably still better than Kirk Cameron from the last LB go-around. (Now that guy's a real piece of work, a poster child for "Excessive Scrupulosity", a form of religious OCD. Slacktivist once theorized that he was an adult convert (bringing in baggage) who was catechized in a definition of "holiness" or "salvation" dominated by "Thou Shalt Nots".)

G. Casey said...

"Any person with a modicum of biblical literacy knows that Daniel, Jesus and John prophesied about the end of the Old Covenant Jewish Kingdom."

Mr. Burleson, so I gather you are an amillenialist. There is a lot of research that shows that Revelations was written in 85AD. In reading many of the arguments that amillenialists have made I tend to think history has to be completely revised. Sounds like in criticizing the Left Behind assumptions you have also drawn your own assumptions as well. Double entendres are common in Scripture meaning some in the present and future. My problem with the Left Behind series is that IT IS BASED on assumptions. Perhaps I fear God much more than you Mr. Burleson in not adding to Revelations. Perhaps its, perhaps its that, who really you? There is one thing about Revelations in the letters to the churches that is often missed, sanctification of the churches. No one will be left behind at all and there is a real possibility that many will enter into tribulation in order to be unified in Christ and chaffed from worldliness. A good friend of mine who has studied prophecy immensely has said a Western Christian mindset is not a good way to understand Revelations.

G. Casey said...

"It was Jesus expressed purpose to fulfill every jot and tittle of the Old Covenant Law through His life, death and resurrection, and then inaugurate His New Covenant whereby He would "make the Law obsolete" and cause it to "disappear" (Hebrews 8:13)."

The old "covenant" was obsolete not the Law in of itself. The new covenant in Christ sacrifice of himself is better than the old. The Law as a tutor brings us to Christ in every generation.

Mr. Burleson suggest in studying how anti-semitism developed in the churches over the centuries. Also, without the Torah, churches become Gentile man ordered system. If you look at the Jewish calendar, Jesus came during the year of Jubilee and corrected Pharisical legalism (Luke 4:18-20). Jesus came to simplify the Law on the two basic laws that all Law is hinged upon.

So how does one intend to deal with Gentile traditionalism and patriarchialism? The Torah of course with an emphasis of God's grace through Christ as first and foremost.

MikeSnow said...

Right on title! Amen.

Anonymous said...

Not to get into the debate over the book of Revelation. I know that to me Revelation is my most favorite book of the Bible. And I know I don't completely understand it.

I will say I loved the Left Behind Series, granted it a work of fiction, but very masterfully written.

I agree, Mr Cage is a very talented actor and I love a few of his movies. However Nicolas Cage was already in a movie called "Knowing" which basically mocked Christians having lost their minds and aliens take the kid away at the end and the idea of being left behind. So I'm not sure he will do well in this second attempt at the Left Behind Movie Series. This is not the first attempt at making the very popular Left Behind book series into movies as many know.

But I do have a question...can not God use this second attempt at making the book series into movies be used to bring non believers to himself and to Christ the Messiah? It seems this time, there are a lot more big names in this 2nd attempt at making the Left Behind series.
Nicolas Cage is in it (though I think a different actor should have been used), Lea Thompson (Switched at Birth), Chad Michael Murray (One Tree Hill, Freaky Friday)(Though I still always picture Kirk Cameron as Buck), Jordin Sparks (Performer), Cassi Thomson (Switched at Birth, Big Love).

It may not be perfect and I myself probably won't like this 2nd attempt any more than I did the first attempt at making the books into movies. I remember when the first attempts came out when I was in high school (14 yrs ago) how so many people were excited because many Christians saw the movies as hopefully a way to reach nonbelievers.

Just a thought.


James Hunt said...


I am currently reading "The Apocalypse Code" by Hank Hanegraaff. This is the first work I have read on eschatology that is not dispensational. Interesting indeed.

Anonymous said...

BREAKING NEWS: The longtime No. 1 pretrib rapture teacher, Dr. John Walvoord of Dallas Seminary, believed that the "Left Behind" books and movies have a NON-BIBLICAL foundation! If you doubt this, Google "The 'Left Behind' Rupture" which was aired on Joe Ortiz's "The End Times Passover" blog on August 12, 2014. (For more shocks Google "Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty," "Pretrib Rapture Pride," and "Pretrib Rapture Stealth.")

Irv said...

I invite all to Google "The Pretrib Rapture Jackpot!" Lord bless.