The Apostle Paul's Influence on the Ideas Behind Left Behind
BY: Jerry B. Jenkins
Set in the future, theLeft Behind
books track a team of End Times survivors hunted by the antichrist. He demands their allegiance.or death. It is a period of unprecedented horror.
While the series is fiction, many Christians believe the events will happen someday, so our story challenges readers to examine their own lives from a spiritual perspective. What matters? Does heaven await us? Can anyone know for sure?
Some of the answers lie in Paul's life and writings, which were crucial to constructing the world ofLeft Behind
Paul knew what he believed. For years he was called Saul of Tarsus, a man proud of his traditions. He was a Hebrew of Hebrews with unquestionable credentials. Similarly, Rayford Steele,Left Behind's
searching Everyman, also thought he had it figured out. Both men had a lot to learn.
When a new sect called the Way arose, claiming that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, Saul was outraged. Jesus was a fellow Jew, a mere man, and could not be the Christ. Saul was sure of that. Rayford's wife, Irene, knew the truth about Jesus, but Rayford refused to even consider the possibility. Key to Irene's story was the belief that one day all true Christians would be raptured-raised bodily past the clouds and into heaven--and the rest of the world would be left behind. Rayford wasn't buying.
Nor was Saul. Instead, he focused on crushing what he saw as a spiritual insurrection. Saul conducted a campaign of terror, mercilessly persecuting Christians. When Stephen was martyred, Saul stood back eagerly watching, caring for the coats of the attackers. Had we been in the crowd, no doubt we would have seen the young Saul nodding his approval. Saul demanded warrants so he could pull Christians from their homes and families and try to force them to blaspheme. Believers were hunted, unsafe anywhere. When saints were imprisoned, he cast his vote against them and they were put to death. Saul was efficient, a scourge.
In a flash, it all changed. His life was fractured by an encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus that left him helpless and blind. "Saul, Saul why do you persecute me?" Jesus asked. The question threw him to the ground. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting." Revelation snapped his chains. He saw his bloody actions, understood what he was doing to the Body of Christ - the early church, Jesus, and himself.