Erwin W. Lutzer. The King Is Coming: Preparing to Meet Jesus. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2012.
I would like to thank Moody Publishers for my review copy of this book. See here for Moody’s page about it.
This book is about the end times and the second coming of Jesus Christ. Erwin Lutzer believes in a pretribulational rapture, a future and literal millennial reign of Jesus Christ on earth, and a futuristic interpretation of the prophecies in the Book of Revelation. Although Lutzer entertains the idea that the Mahdi of Shiite Islam will be the Antichrist, he ultimately settles on the Antichrist coming from a revived Roman empire, which will initially make overtures of peace to Israel, while certain Islamic nations will ally with Russia in an attempt to attack Israel. Lutzer draws from the Bible and current events.
Lutzer also has ideas about God’s judgment. According to Lutzer, there is the judgment of believers, which occurs soon after the rapture of Christians. There, Christ will judge Christians, confront them about their sins, and reward them according to their good works. There is the separation of the sheep from the goats (Matthew 25), which Lutzer believes will occur right after the Great Tribulation and Christ’s second coming, and the criterion of judgment here will be whether people helped believers during their time of great vulnerability in the Tribulation, when believers were persecuted by the Antichrist and forbidden to buy and sell. The sheep who pass this judgment will then go on to live throughout the millennium in earthly paradise and will have children, many of whom will not follow Jesus, leading to these children’s susceptibility to deception when Satan is released from the bottomless pit at the end of the millennium. After the millennium, there will be the Great White Throne Judgment, in which those who did not receive Christ as their savior (or respond to whatever light God gave them) are judged according to their sins with eternal hell. The saved, however, live with God forever, and Lutzer is clear that they will not be playing a harp on a cloud and singing the same praise songs over and over: rather, they will enjoy God and each other and may even receive assignments. “Perhaps we will reign on other planets,” Lutzer speculates on page 192.
The book was interesting, and Lutzer’s inviting, thoughtful writing style made it a worthwhile read. I had some reservations, however. First of all, Lutzer seems to believe that there are carnal Christians who will enter heaven. On pages 43-44, he pictures a married Christian man leaving his family to be with another woman, and this man will enter heaven, even though Christ will make him confront the damage that he did on earth. How would Lutzer square this with I Corinthians 6:9 and Galatians 5:19, in which Paul warns professing Christians that adulterers will not enter the Kingdom of God?
Second, Lutzer states on page 94 that “God hates immorality, and in the Bible homosexuality is singled out as the most egregious example of such conduct.” Lutzer believes that Sodom was destroyed mainly for homosexuality, not the “greed described by Ezekiel 16:48-49” (page 95). I wish that Lutzer had balanced this out with an affirmation of God’s love for homosexuals, the same way that he balances out his pro-Israel or anti-Islam sentiments with statements that we should have compassion for Palestinians, or that there are moderate Muslims whom we are privileged to know as neighbors.
Notwithstanding my reservations, I give this book five stars because it was interesting, it explained things that have puzzled me about pretribulational views on prophecy, and it had a solid spiritual component, meaning it was not just about the details of the end-times.