For it is by grace you have been saved...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

On Second Thought (or is it Third?)

I figured it would only be a matter of time. Harold Camping has now stated that while he was a little "off" in his prediction of the Rapture, he still has the accurate details about the end of the world in October. He originally stated that the Rapture would happen on May 21, followed by a five month period of escalating "judgment", culminating in the final end in October. Now he says, "whoops, I misunderstood the first part, but the rest of it was right on." And this is after his previous failed prediction in 1994. Hmm....

Of course, he's not the first to try this. The more famous examples are people like Edgar Whisenant and his "88 Reasons Why the Rapture Could Be in 1988." Of course, he did say "could be," but then on the inside he begins by saying that his book agrees "perfectly and in every detail with every verse in the Bible from cover to cover and particularly with the 886 end-time Bible prophecies perfectly and with all their included verses." (I should have known to question his accuracy when on the reverse cover of this book he sent me was the title for a second book attached called "On Borrowed Time." And the author's name there was misspelled "Edger." Not a good start)

Then, when the Rapture didn't happen, he reworked his calculations which were already in perfect agreement with Scripture (huh?), and came up with 1989. That didn't happen either, so then he went with 1993, and...well, you know.

And he wasn't the first either. Back in 1844, the world was supposed to end according to the followers of William Miller. The Millerite/Seventh Day Adventist prediction was wrong as well, leading to what many call The Great Disappointment. But not to be deterred, the Adventists simply changed their whole doctrine to explain away this false prediction.

Camping hasn't gone that far, but he had to do something, didn't he? He couldn't just ignore this major gaff. So his "absolute certainty" about the Rapture becomes a "miscalculation" and we're off the prophetic races again.

So what are we to do with this? The media is loving this because they like to lump all "Christians" together, and they think this makes us look pretty stupid. Of course, in many ways it does. If you preach the Biblical truth about Christ's return and the coming judgment right now, folks outside the church are going to have a real good laugh. So how do we respond?

Should we just join right along with all the others who are mocking Camping and his predictions? Denny Burk has some good words about that. Do we give Camping a "pass" in compassion? I don't see Paul giving that kind of compassion to the false teachers of his day. So what do we do?

How about this? How about we just keep on preaching the true Good News of Jesus Christ and let God work out the details. I mentioned to our SS class on Sunday that it would be great to see true believers as committed to the True Gospel as these deluded folks are committed to the Lie. We heard of people giving their life savings to Camping's cause, spending hours and hours spreading the word of the coming judgment. What if the True Church was that committed to the Truth of God's Word? How amazing would it be to see what God could do with that kind of passion and commitment.

I love the way the book of Acts opens. As Jesus is about to depart this world, His disciples want to know "When are You coming back?" And Jesus says, "'It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.' And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.'" (Acts 1:7-11, ESV)

I love that because not only do we have the words of our Lord Himself telling us not to worry about setting dates for His return, but then we have the correction of the angelic messenger basically telling the disciples to stop standing there with their mouths hanging open and get busy. That's our mission as well. Stop staring at the sky with your mouth open, waiting for this or that date, and get busy. Preach the Word.

Our response to all this false teaching is to be sure we are continuing to teach the True Gospel with all our might. Jesus never said, "Oops, on second thought..." He said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20, ESV)

Amen, Come Lord Jesus!

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