April 2, 2004
"Passion" and "Glorious Appearing" Strike Chord
by Donald G. Mashburn

Mel Gibson’s hit movie, “The Passion of Christ,” and a new book, “Glorious Appearing," by Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins, have struck a responsive chord in American movie-goers and readers.

Gibson’s blockbuster movie “Passion” has taken in more than $315 million in the United States. International distribution and future sales should bring in hundreds of millions more.

“Passion” could become the largest grossing film ever. Church members in droves have stood in line see it. Churches promote it from the pulpit. One Oklahoma City businessman bought hundreds of tickets to encourage employees to see it.

Yet some criticize Gibson for “selling” Christ at the box office. But would they say that if the movie had flopped? Probably not.

Gibson speaks candidly about the turning points in his life that brought him to the deeper faith that drove him to take chances with “Passion.” He put $25 million of his own money into the film, and no major studio would release it, for which he should be thankful.

When publisher Tyndale House released the LaHaye and Jenkins book, “Glorious Appearing,” on March 30, some 2,000,000 copies had been pre-sold. It’s the last of 12 books in the “Left Behind” series. Books one through 11 trace the lives of fictional characters “left behind” after the Rapture – when believers were caught up to heaven before the Great Tribulation.

Those left behind suffer great strife, pain, and loss of life under an evil one-world ruler. They experience terrible trials, battles, and in many cases, deaths during the seven years of the Great Tribulation.

The world, in ruins, suffers under the evil ruler, who assembles a huge army to annihilate those who won’t take his “mark” and worship him. Then come the final battle, between the forces of evil and good, and the Glorious Appearing, based on events foretold in the Book of Revelation.

Some critics of LaHaye and Jenkins protest their literal portrayal of biblical Revelation events. Indeed, some of the “watered-down” gospel school claim the writers go overboard in depicting the horrors of the Great Tribulation.

But those familiar with writings by LaHaye and Jenkins understand their aim was to awaken people to the coming of Christ. And, no doubt, to impress on readers’ minds that world events point to an end time that’s closer than most people realize.

It’s a good thing when people’s attention turns to God and His Christ. However, it’s a sad commentary on the world’s spiritual condition when the “realness” of Christ’s death on the cross depends on how He’s presented in movies and books.

Far better it would be if people were to look for the one true God in His word that He’s already given to us – the Holy Bible – and in faith-based prayer. And learn the Lord’s own promise to believers: “He who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life” (John 5:24).

The real message behind “Passion” and “Glorious Appearing” is that Jesus Christ, sent by God, purchased our salvation by His sacrificial death on the cross, and His resurrection proved the holy sacrifice was acceptable to a righteous God.

See the “Passion” movie, and it’s graphic portrayal of the Christ dying to redeem us from our sins. See it and ponder the question: “Why did a holy God love me so much that He gave His Son to save me?”

Read Revelation, and the first 11 books of the “Left Behind” series. Then read “Glorious Appearing.” You’ll better understand what the birth, ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus were about. And what the Rapture means for true believers.

Boiled down, “Passion” and “Glorious Appearing” say that Christ came, He loved us enough to suffer and die on the cross to pay our sin debt, and He’s coming again!

Oh, and that in the end, we win!