I am now running a contest in this blog post. Entries will be taken until, but not after, Saturday May 21. Use the comments section to predict what false prophet/cult leader Harold Camping will say to explain himself to his followers on Sunday May 22, after the world hasn’t ended. Whoever posts a prediction of his words that is closest to what he actually says will win the right to replace him on his radio program thereafter. The winner still won’t be able to accurately predict the timing of Christ’s return, but he will have shown himself able to at least predict SOMETHING with accuracy.
What is hell? What is it like? Who is in danger of going there? How can you be sure not to? The Bible gives clear answers to these and a few other eternally and infinitely important questions. And we looked at them all in today’s message on hell, which you can hear here. Recorded in English and Romanian, streaming audio.
Harold Camping, the deceived deceiver who is saying Christ will rapture us next Saturday, has made false date-predictions of that before. I remember in September 1994 when one of his followers stopped me by a lake where I was walking in Scranton, PA, where I lived at the time. The man pretended to need help and to find out what time it was, just to get me to stop so he could give me the literature predicting the rapture was just days away. Then he went on and did the same routine to others nearby.
But the fact that Camping has been wrong before isn’t the biggest reason not to believe him. There are two rock-solid biblical reasons to reject his teaching and warn his followers. 1) Jesus assured us we would not know the day or hour of His return, and the entirety of the Bible presents the rapture as an event that will come as an unannounced surprise for which Christ’s followers may be ready, but cannot know when it will happen. 2) In addition to setting a false date for the rapture, Camping’s other teachings about Bible prophecy are down-right batty, and there is no way anyone could read the Scriptures and arrive at the conclusions he is teaching. For example, he says that five months after the rapture, next October, God is going to destroy the earth and the entire universe. That is nothing like what the Bible says will happen after the rapture, and no elementary-school level student of the Bible thinks it is.
The followers of Camping are a cult to be shunned. Don’t be afraid as a follower of Christ to reject what he says when someone brings up the possibility of the May 21 rapture.
A message outline on the topic of hell, which I plan to preach at the church in Cluj tomorrow.
How will the meek inherit the earth? And what does your soul need to hunger and thirst for if you would find happiness. The study of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount continued tonight, and the recording is available for your listening here, in English and Romanian. Matthew 5:4-6 was covered in the message.
Today’s Rightly Dividing the Word:
Most of the 10 commandments didn’t come from God with an explicit threat of punishment attached to them. But this one does: “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7) If someone is wise, he will seek to be in obedience to the commandment. But to do that, we need to make sure we understand it. Just what is taking God’s name in vain? Well, one example is the obvious–shouting “Lordy, lordy” or “Oh my God!” in an irreverent manner when you are neither calling on Him nor praising Him would be taking His Name in vain. (And abbreviating it for texting as omg is the same, of course.) But taking His Name in vain isn’t limited to using the names of God the Father and Jesus Christ His Son as expletive curses when one is surprised or alarmed. It includes any abuse or misuse of the name of the Lord. A false profession of being a follower of Christ or a lover of God is taking His Name in vain. A false claim that “God told me to….” or “The Lord gave me peace with my decision to…” do something that His word forbids is taking His Name in vain. A TV preacher claiming “God will bless you for sending me money” is taking His Name in vain, abusing the name of the Creator for personal financial gain. Advising people of unbiblical claims like, “The Lord helps those who help themselves” or “God won’t give you any more than you can handle” is an abuse of His Name by attributing to Him traits that aren’t true of Him. Saying “I swear to God this is true…” as if His Name was your property to call upon to bolster your arguments is a misuse of His Name as well. It would also be taking His Name in vain to equate Him with false gods, by saying things like “The muslims’ Allah and God are the same one.”
The Name of the Lord is to be praised, honored, revered, and taken seriously at all times and in all circumstances. It is a Name never worthy of abuse, misuse, or misappropriation. So be careful how you use it.