Last-Minute Redemption

Last-Minute Redemption

It’s a good thing RTB theologian Kenneth Samples has an end times booklet in the works because the apocalypse is making a big cultural splash at movie theatres. Doomsday is a perennial topic of interest, but it seems to be getting extra attention from Hollywood this year. There are post-human Earth stories (Oblivion and After Earth); Brad Pitt fighting zombies (World War Z), and this week presents a crass comedic take on the rapture.

The raunchy This Is the End isn’t my cup of cinematic tea, but an online description of its plot caught my attention (spoilers ahead). The story centers on a group of party boys unexpectedly experiencing the chaos of the biblical rapture. (All Christians believe in a Second Coming, though not all Christians believe in a rapture.) Blue beams of light take “good people” to heaven. Meanwhile, earthquakes and demons terrorize those left behind. The friends eventually figure out that they can get into heaven at the last minute by sacrificing themselves to save their comrades who have also been left behind.

While the notion that good deeds will get us into heaven seems commonplace in today’s culture, according to the Gospel of Luke, this is what real last-minute redemption looks like:

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him [Jesus] to be executed….One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”

But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence?We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”

Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

It saddens me that the fallacious “salvation by good deeds” perspective is so pervasive. Christians need to replace this cultural lie with the truth that Jesus Christ is the only way, truth, and life. These RTB resources strive to help people who need the truth (John 14:6–14).

— Maureen