Summary: A May 22, 2011 response to the false teachings of Harold Camping with regard to May 21, 2011 explaining that Christians need to declare the truths of Christ's return more enthusiastically than ever.
Because of the intense scrutiny brought upon the person and people of Jesus Christ by a false prophecy, I believe the Spirit of God has led me to give address the truth of Jesus Christ’s promised return for His bride.
Jesus Christ didn’t return yesterday. There was no rapture. Jesus Christ, however, is going to return. And there will be a rapture. Christ’s return is fundamental and Christ’s return is scriptural. In that all true Christians believe that one day Jesus himself will return to the earth, it’s fundamental. In that our faith rests not in our notions and opinions but in the God’s inerrant Word, Christ’s return is scriptural.
People have been claiming to know the date of Christ’s return almost since His ascension to Heaven. At the turn of the 19th century, William Miller predicted the return of Christ on April 3, 1843. On that day, half a million of Miller’s disciples awaited the end of the world. Journalists had a field day then, just as they did yesterday. On April 3, 1843, disciples were on mountaintops, hoping for a head start to heaven. Others were in graveyards, planning to ascend in union with their departed loved ones. Some high society ladies clustered together outside town to avoid entering God's holy kingdom amid the common herd. When April 4 dawned as usual, the Millerites were disillusioned. And today, my friends, millions of Harold Camping’s followers are disillusioned.
Harold Camping predicted the end in 1994. Christ didn’t return. Then he convinced millions that it was supposed to happen yesterday. It didn’t. Now is the time for discerning, Bible-believing Christ-followers to start praying for the broken hearts, disillusioned spirits, ruined careers, and emptied bank accounts of the deceived followers of this false prophet. Ask the Lord to turn their hearts toward truth through the holy enlightenment of God's Word, because the danger of bitterness, anger, and disappointment for them at a time like this must be great. Pray the Holy Ghost will guide them into Bible-teaching churches (which, you may recall, Camping called them to abandon). Pray that they will sit faithfully under the nourishing instructions of Spirit-filled teachers who preach the true Gospel with fidelity and without apology. Pray that they will be like the Bereans, who "received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so,” as it says in Acts 17:11.
And definitely, pray for Camping himself. He has made the work of the evangelist that much harder. The real tragedy in all of Camping's date-setting and false teaching is that it makes the Virgin Birth, the Cross, the Resurrection, and especially the true – albeit undated - return of Jesus Christ that much more implausible to "those who are perishing." 1 Peter 3:3-4 says, "Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming?” Now that question, “Where is the promise of his coming?” is all the more credible to the lost. They will ask it more readily, thanks to Harold Camping.
But what’s done is done. Haters gonna hate, and mockers gonna mock. God’s still in control, His Word is still true, and His true church is stronger than false teachers. But I want to say a special word this morning about the reality of Christ’s return, because you, as Christians, may find your belief in it under more attack than usual. I want you armed for battle. It is very important for the name of Christ and for the reputation of His Bride that discerning Christ-followers draw very bold lines of distinction between what Harold Camping is and what we are! The secular news media, humanist academia, and the militant atheist movement are slandering the true Bride of Christ even now by implying that we are cut of the same cloth as this date-setting cult. So yes, please pray for the deceived, the disillusioned, and the disappointed, but also declare that we, as Spirit-led, Bible-believing Christians, are not only "harmless as doves," but also "wise as serpents.” But don’t fail to declare that Jesus Christ is coming again.
First, His coming will be personal. In Acts 1:11, while everyone watched the Risen Jesus ascend skyward to Heaven, two men in white clothing said, “[T]his same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” Jesus return will be personal. God’s word makes it clear that Jesus Himself, will one day personally return to the earth. It will be “this same Jesus” who is coming again. Twice in one verse Luke uses the word “same” to emphasize that His Second Coming will be personal. The same Jesus who left will one day return.