A Postscript on a Failed Prophecy

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By Thom S. Rainer, Christian Post Contributor
May 23, 2011|11:20 am

Most of the readers of this blog are Christians. At least that’s what the best metrics tell us. I do know, however, that some who are not Christians peruse these articles from time to time. And I do hope that some of my Christian readers will share these words with unbelievers.

This message is primarily for them.

From a Christian to Those Who Are Not

Undoubtedly, most of you who are not Christians observed the fanfare connected with Harold Camping and his certainty that the Church would be raptured and those remaining would face a series of calamities and judgments. The world (obviously) did not end on May 21, nor were there a series of unprecedented disasters.

You may have made light of us Christians as Camping made his ridiculous assertions. Indeed, Harold Camping is one of many purported Christians who have brought embarrassment and even shame to the Christian faith.

We Christians indeed can be embarrassing at times. We’re supposed to love the world, but we often act like you are our enemy. Our churches are supposed to care for the people in their communities, but many are more concerned with their own comforts than getting dirty in the real world. And many of us Christians are notorious for infighting and attacking our own.

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If you shake your heads at us, I completely understand.

From First Person Plural to Singular

But I can’t hide behind the anonymity of talking about “us Christians.” Too many times I have not acted like Christ taught me in the Bible. There are many Christians who, at least from my perspective, act and speak more consistently as Christ taught us than I do.

As for me, I am consistently inconsistent.

It’s easy for me to point to the shameful false prophecy of Harold Camping. He did get worldwide publicity and embarrass the name of Christ. We can’t simply ignore his heresy and act like nothing happened.

But I do have to be careful where and when I cast stones at others.

From Christians to Christ

So, if you are not a follower of Christ and you happen to be reading this blog, I am going to make a bold request of you. I am asking you to look beyond many of us Christians for a while, and look at the claims of Jesus and the Bible.

Harold Camping did get one thing right. Jesus will return. But Camping missed it completely by asserting he knew the precise time. Jesus said these words referring to Himself: “This is why you must be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:44).

The problem is that no one can be “ready” in his or her own strength, goodness, or works. Everyone falls short of God because we are all sinners. Every one of us. The Bible teaches: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3: 23).

The good news is that Jesus took the punishment for our sins. His death on the cross was for us. Why did He do that for us? The most famous verse in the Bible teaches that Christ was sent to die for us because of God’s love: “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

When we believe in Jesus, we are confessing our sinfulness, desiring to turn or repent from our sinfulness, and placing our faith or trust in Christ and what He did for us on the cross. No works get us to God. It is a free gift by trusting in Christ. The Bible states it this way: “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift – not from works so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

From Falsehoods to Truth

Harold Camping was wrong. And many of us Christians often do and say things wrong as well, though we rarely make false prophecies to the world. Please consider moving from the fanfare of the falsehoods of these past few days to the truth of Jesus Christ and His claims. He is the only way of salvation. That is a tough teaching for many, but the words came from Christ Himself: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

I pray that we Christians will act and speak more like Christ. But perhaps these past few days of media blitz about Camping and his false claims caused you to think and begin to ask some questions. Maybe you’ve decided to look beyond the silliness that we Christians sometimes demonstrate. You are looking beyond falsehood and searching for truth.

Truth can be found. He can be found and His truth will set you free.

His name is Jesus.

He will return.

Are you ready?

Dr. Thom Rainer is president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.
 

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