Monday, February 14, 2011

Is The End Near?

A member  of our church handed me two pamphlets published by Family Radio which is under the leadership of Harold Camping. These pamphlets teach that Judgment Day is  coming on May 21, 2011, and that any person who is associated with any church  will be included in that judgment. It would be impossible to dispute all the  claims made in these pamphlet in this forum in that such an endeavor would involve  producing volumes of material. However, I feel it is important to address the major points and the dangers of Camping’s conclusions.

I will  start by pointing out that Camping predicting the end of the world is nothing new.  In the early nineties, I read his book 1994? (the question mark is part  of the title). In this book, Camping claimed that God’s judgment would come and  that the world as we know it would come to an end in 1994. I have often  wondered how he has explained away his error (apparently he has) and how any  who followed his teaching then would continue to follow it now. In the book 1994?,  Camping used a complicated system of numbers mentioned in the Bible as proof of his conclusions. To  Camping numbers when mentioned in the Bible always have specific meanings. The exact  meaning of each number seems to be established by Camping who leaves no room for disputation.  The fact that the world did not end in 1994 apparently has not caused Camping  to reconsider his system of calculation, in that he has continued his ideas as  evidenced in these two pamphlets.
Camping  maintains that the church age ended on May 21, 1988 and that the Holy Spirit  left churches at that time. He also maintains that anyone associated with a  church, is not saved because churches are full of false teachings and a true  believer would know that. His basis for this is Genesis 7:10-11 which depicts  the coming of the flood of Noah’s day. Camping applies the numbers mentioned in these  verses to predict the coming end-time judgment, something that is not at all  supported by the context of these verses in Genesis. The “strength” of Camping’s  argument lies in that he takes II Peter 3:8 to say that where you see a day in  Scripture is it the same as a thousand years when it refers to God (However, an  honest examination of II Peter 3:8 in context indicates that Peter is using the  expression “a day with God is as a thousand years” to indicate that time as we  know it is irrelevant to an eternal God. Peter was not telling us that where  you see a "day" in Scripture to substitute a thousand years). If you follow this  reasoning to its conclusions then you must also conclude that the earth was  created in six thousand years with God resting a thousand years and that the  floodwaters of Noah’s flood was on the face of the earth for several thousand  years. Nevertheless, Camping uses these numbers in saying that the age of the  church is dead and that judgment is coming May 21, 2011.
It is  easy to get caught up in Camping’s arguments which do have something compelling  about them unless you do your homework and check them out in Biblical context  both immediate and with all of Scripture. That so many Gospel preachers of the  past would disagree seems to leave Camping undaunted. And here is what is perhaps most dangerous about his teachings. He believes that salvation is all  of God and none of man (no disagreement here), but he sees this to mean that although  one may want to receive God, he can only be saved if God chooses to give him  that perfect faith to do so. Coming to Romans 10:13 which says, “Whosoever  shall call upon the name of the Lord, shall be saved” is not enough according  to Camping whose God may turn away sinners seeking to come to Him. Belief, before we are saved is not enough because it is a work. The only belief that suffices is that which comes after we are saved. To Camping preaching that teaches men that that when you  call upon the name of the Lord you are saved is heresy becaues when you call God may or may not chose to give you that saving faith. The only  hope Camping's teachings give us is that we can pray to God repenting and hope that God will choose to save  us. In his interpretation, he destroys the promises of God expressed in John 3:16 and Acts 16 :31 all the while claiming he is not doing so. It makes one wonder
why anyone would follow his Gospel of uncertainty.
The setting
of dates for the coming judgment is nothing new. Many of the cults have begun
with just that. However, when the date arrives and the predictions of the cult
have not come about, usually the cult becomes discredited or it changes its
teachings in order to survive. The fact that Mark 13:32 says, “But of that day and [that] hour knoweth no man, no, not
the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father” referring to
the time of judgment, seems lost on Camping (who instead quotes Acts 1:7 which
is not as specific) who quotes Ecclesiastes 8:5 (“Whoso keepeth the commandment
shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man's heart discerneth both time and
.”) out of context to mean that a righteous man will know that
which has not even been revealed to Christ Himself.
Camping in his zeal has caused much harm. This preacher has
encountered those whose confidence in Christ have been undermined because even
though they desire to be saved are not convinced that God has chosen them.
Camping confuses the issue of the Gospel. In a separate publication (I Hope God
Will Save Me), he undermines the Biblical principle of Whosoever Will by saying
that this means we must believe with all our heart soul and mind, which does
not happen until we are saved. Accordingly we can’t choose to be saved (he sees
that at a work on our part). God must first save us. In his teachings the
simple message of the Cross is lost. God calls the Whosoever wills. We come. He
will give us the necessary faith. He will not turn us away.
Camping has also done damage to local churches. More than one
individual has left his church because Camping says that only unsaved
individuals remain in them. The fact that we teach that any who will receive
Jesus is saved, receives condemnation from Camping who claims this is a false
teaching of the devil. To receive salvation one must believe (which he sees is
a work and not a saving belief), pray, read God’s Word and hope God will
save him. The power of the Gospel is destroyed in such teaching. Doesn’t it
reduce it to works? I rest upon “But as many as received Him to them gave He
the power to become the sons of God even too them who believe on His Name”(John
1:12). Here we have the idea of “Whosoever”. I’m glad I’m a “Whosever”.
So will the world end on May 21, 2011? Absolutely not! How do   know? Because Camping says it will, and  not even the Son of Man knows. I wonder what  Camping will say May 22. We don’t have that long to wait.

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