Harold Camping’s Error . . . and Ours

Given that I am starting this post on Saturday evening, May 21, about 10:30pm, it has now been proven that Harold Camping was wrong. The man who claimed to have clear biblical validation for his forecast of Jesus’  return simply missed it. In fact, Camping had also given a similar prognostication in 1988. He was wrong then. He was wrong today.This, however, should not come as a major surprise. Many others have claimed to know the date and time of Christ’s return. They were wrong as well.

In all these cases, these so-called prophets are working against the clear teaching of Scripture. Jesus says no man knows the day or the hour that the Son of Man will return (Matt. 24:36). Both Peter and Paul liken the second coming of Christ to that of a thief coming in the night (2 Peter 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:2,4). So, according to the Scripture, there are at least two things about the return of Christ we can know for sure: 1) no man knows when it will happen; and 2) it WILL happen.

It is regarding this second truth that I find my error, and the error of many other believers today. While it is certainly wrong to claim to know the definite date and time of the return of Christ, is it not equally wrong to go along with our lives, living practically as though Christ will not return and as though there will be no judgment? Oh, we would certainly claim to believe that Christ will return . . . someday. But, if we really believed, as the Bible tell us, that Christ will certainly return and that it could occur at any time, there should be at least two significant differences in the way we live our lives today.

First, having believed the Gospel and knowing that Christ will certainly return, I should be living my life more for eternal things than for temporal things. It is so easy to let the awareness of, and desire for, Christ’s return simply get overwhelmed with the cares and desires of daily life. When this happens, my life loses the distinctiveness that should be evident in the life of a Christ-follower who is anticipating his Lord’s return. Rather than having a consuming passion to be found as  faithful servants upon His return, I am afraid we allow ourselves to become distracted servants whose lives show little difference when compared to those who do not know Christ at all.

Second, if I really believe that Christ will return to judge the living and the dead, I should be sharing the message of the Gospel of Christ more faithfully with those who do not know Him. Living with the imminent return of Christ in view, the apostle Paul stated, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men . . .” (2 Corinthians 5:11). In other words, Paul’s belief in the imminent return of Christ, the Lord and King, made a difference in both the character and activity of Paul’s life – and it should in ours as well. Empowered by Christ’s Spirit within us, we should be living transformed lives and sharing a life-transforming message with those who don’t know Christ.

I don’t know the day or time of Christ’s return. But, I do know He is returning. The question is, does the way I live for Christ each day, and the urgency/passion with which I share Christ with others, demonstrate that I really believe He is coming again? Harold Camping was wrong when he declared that May 21 would be the day of Christ’s return. We, as believers in Christ, are also wrong, however, when we fail to let others see the evidence of the risen and returning Christ in our lives, and hear the good news of forgiveness, redemption, and reconciliation with God through Christ from our mouths. May God strengthen and empower us by His Spirit to live for Christ faithfully and to share Christ freely, because one day . . . Christ is coming again.



2 thoughts on “Harold Camping’s Error . . . and Ours

  1. [Thanks, Randy. Saw this brain-twister on the web. Lord bless. Carlos]

    Christ’s return is NOT imminent !

    by Bruce Rockwell

    (Pretrib rapturists claim that Christ’s return is imminent, that is, capable of occurring at any moment. Theologian and pastor Norman MacPherson, in his excellent book “Triumph Through Tribulation,” offers proof that the Bible has never taught an any-moment return of Christ. Here are the points brought out and discussed at length by MacPherson:)

    1. Great Commission fulfillment implies a long period of time.
    2. Seed growth in Matthew 13 is a time-consuming process.
    3. Paul expected death, not rapture, in II Timothy 4:6-8.
    4. Jesus predicted Peter’s martyrdom in John 21:18-19.
    5. Matthew 24 teaches that signs must come first.
    6. Many passages speak of a large interval between Christ’s ascension and return: Jewish dispersion into “all nations” (Luke 21); “man travelling into a far country,” “after a long time the lord of those servants cometh” (Matthew 25).
    7. Apostasy of last days takes time to develop.
    8. Bridegroom tarried in parable of virgins.
    9. Pastoral epistles teach Church’s continuing ministry, which involves time.
    10. Paul says Christ’s coming is not imminent (II Thessalonians 2:1-3), for apostasy and Antichrist must come first.
    11. View of seven phases of church history (seven churches of Revelation) involves big lapse of time and imminence difficulties for pre-tribs; could Christ have come before the last phase?
    12. Exhortations to watch and be ready are tied to what pre-trib teachers regard as the second stage (which is necessarily non-imminent) in Matthew 24 and 25, I Corinthians 1:7, Colossians 3:4, I Thessalonians 3:13, II Thessalonians 1:7-10, I Peter 1:13 and 4:13, and I John 2:28.

    (How can Christ, returning imminently, have a greater practical effect on us than the indwelling Holy Spirit should already have on us? For more on pretrib beliefs and history, Google “Pretrib Rapture Secrecy,” “Pretrib Rapture – Hidden Facts,” “Pretrib Rapture Diehards,” and “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty.”)

  2. Carlos,
    Thank you for your thoughts. I personally believe there is good Scriptural evidence that seems to favor both a Pre-Trib view AND a post-trib view. Obviously, both cannot be correct. But I think it is hyperbole to talk about “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty.”

    As for the imminent return of Christ, the best counsel we have is that of Jesus Himself, when He tells us that “no man knows the day or the hour” (Matthew 24:36). So, our responsibility, whether His return is tomorrow or 2000 more years from now, is loving, sacrificial obedience to Christ’s command to love God supremely and others selflessly – making disciples of all nations, for God’s glory!

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