Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa is missing something now. The senior pastor for well over four decades moved out of a worn out tent and into a heavenly mansion not made with hands. The original small church with a congregation of less than 50 people has grown into an uncountable worldwide Bible teaching movement. Wherever you happen to live on this planet, chances are pretty good there is now a Calvary Chapel within driving distance of your home – to say nothing of the syndicated radio broadcasts and internet ministries. This non-denominational church now qualifies as its own denomination.
To say we will miss Chuck Smith is a world-class understatement. I just got home from the Sunday evening Bible study one weekend removed from his departure, and things have noticeable changed already. Pastor Brian is awesome with the epistles, but the worship group is different and my wife and I don’t know the songs anymore. Neither of us felt moved to sing along. I guess we’ll just have to adapt.
At least I still have the Word for Today collection of Chuck Smith studies. I will never outgrow these. The URL for the complete library is: http://twft.com/?page=C2000. I go there often, and I recommend anyone serious about learning the Bible do the same. This man will go down in history as one of the finest expositors who ever lived – and he did it in such a way as to communicate in the modern vernacular without losing the eloquence of the King James scriptures.
One of the things Pastor Chuck is known for was his passion and expectation of the rapture of the church occurring within his lifetime. He didn’t quite make it, but he prepared many of us for it. Even as recently as a year ago, Chuck still lived his daily life looking to the sky with the hope and expectation that the Lord may return for his church at any time. This was an entirely Biblical stance. Jesus told us to always be ready, to live like we expect it could happen today. It’s the attitude the Lord wants us to have. Keeps us from getting into too much trouble with the world around us, I suppose.
What made Pastor Chuck so adamant about the rapture occurring in our generation? For one thing, he was an expert on Middle East affairs and could easily make the connection between today’s headlines and eschatological prophecies in scripture. Not that it takes a brain surgeon to connect these dots. With Israel back in their Biblical homeland, established as a recognized nation, and all their surrounding Muslim neighbor states existing in feverish opposition to them being there, we can see the remaining unfulfilled prophecies of the Bible shaping up before our eyes – including those leading to the final judgments in Revelation. As the other articles on this site explain, many of these can only happen after Jesus pulls his church out of here.
Pastor Chuck could also see the degradation of our modern society happening with alarming acceleration. Someone who had reached adulthood in the 1950’s would have a bird’s eye view of this from the pulpit. The rest of us are likely becoming somewhat desensitized to it all by the media. Perhaps this is why Jesus said he would come when no one expects it. Seeing what is happening to our culture has (or should have) the natural effect upon a God-loving Christian of causing us to look up knowing our redemption draweth near. Put that together with the Middle East headlines and you have a pretty strong Biblical case for the rapture happening tomorrow.
So, Pastor Chuck didn’t make it to the rapture, as God took him home first – but it seems likely he led us right up to its border. Pastor Chuck often refers to Biblical typology in his teachings. Ironically, I can’t help but to now think of Chuck Smith as a type of Moses. Moses really wanted to go into the Promised Land, but God took him home first. Moses did, however, lead all the people right up to its border. Perhaps the rest of us will now get to cross over the Jordan and meet the Lord in the air.