Chuck Smith, the founder of Calvary Chapel, this past week spoke at a Calvary Chapel Bible prophecy conference attended by 8,000 persons. His message to them was basically, “Look at the precarious world, you will escape the coming tribulation by being raptured soon…is it not a comfort!” You can read the article here. He makes this false statement about the Church’s future:
How can you make, you say, all these dire predictions with a smile on your face? Well, because the outlook for the Church is very bright,” he explained. “We’re almost there and I know how this story ends and that it’s always comforting when you know that it ends and ‘they all lived happily ever after. Talking about the future, the influential pastor said, “What do we know for sure? We know there are two major events awaiting the Church. One is the rapture of the Church. It’s the hope that we have right now of the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ who is coming for His Church…The future for the world is pretty bleak, but for church it’s exciting. I can hardly wait.
Friends, this is dangerous and false teaching. This statement is irresponsible misleading 8,000+ believers, making them think that they will not have to suffer the Antichrist’s great tribulation. I can only imagine the confusion of so many believers who bought into Smith’s teaching if the Lord calls this generation to suffer the persecution of Antichrist.
Let them not listen to Smith, but listen to the plain words of our Lord:
So when you see the abomination of desolation [Antichrist] — spoken about by Daniel the prophet — standing in the holy place …For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be…Remember, I have told you ahead of time.” (Matt 24:15, 21, 25)
And Paul’s warning:
Now regarding the arrival of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to be with him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to be easily shaken from your composure or disturbed by any kind of spirit or message or letter allegedly from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not arrive until the rebellion comes and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, and as a result he takes his seat in God’s temple, displaying himself as God. (2 Thess 2:1–4)
And Jesus’ revelation to John:
One of the beast’s heads appeared to have been killed, but the lethal wound had been healed. And the whole world followed the beast in amazement; they worshiped the dragon because he had given ruling authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast too, saying: “Who is like the beast?” and “Who is able to make war against him?” The beast was given a mouth speaking proud words and blasphemies, and he was permitted to exercise ruling authority for forty-two months. So the beast opened his mouth to blaspheme against God—to blaspheme both his name and his dwelling place, that is, those who dwell in heaven. The beast was permitted to go to war against the saints and conquer them. He was given ruling authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation, (8) and all those who live on the earth will worship the beast, everyone whose name has not been written since the foundation of the world in the book of life belonging to the Lamb who was killed. If anyone has an ear, he had better listen! If anyone is meant for captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed by the sword, then by the sword he must be killed. This requires steadfast endurance and faith from the saints.” (Rev 13:3–10)
Chuck Smith cites Titus 2:13 as “proof” for an imminent rapture, but the passage says nothing of the sort. The blessed hope is not “the imminent rapture before the great tribulation.” The blessed hope is simply the promised hope of being with the Lord one day. It is amazing that they read an entire theological system into this verse. For those who do not know, this is the most commonly cited verse that is supposed to support an imminent rapture. See my article on Titus 2:13 here.
Another reason that Chuck Smith is not to be trusted is that in his 1978 book End Times he predicts the rapture would occur before the year 1981 ended (End Times, Costa Mesa, CA: The Word for Today, 1978, page 35). And two years later he wrote another book asserting that he is “convinced that the Lord [would come] for His Church before the end of 1981” (Future Survival, Costa Mesa, CA: The Word for Today, 1980, page 17). He used the same “calculations” that Hal Lindsey used in his The Late Great Planet Earth in 1970.
In short, Smith needs to restrain from teaching God’s people biblical prophecy. He is a sensationalist and a poor interpreter of God’s Word on this subject. My heart goes out to all those thousands of believers who think now that they will be raptured before the great tribulation and conveying to them that they will escape suffering.
The more I reflect on this, the more I see pretribulationism as a Satanic lie in the church. It sounds harsh, but Satan would love to make the church think they will escape the great tribulation, the time when believers will face the Antichrist’s deception and persecution. Satan wants the church vulnerable. Eschatology matters.
Remember, I have told you ahead of time. — Jesus