Tag Archives: Bible

Harold Camping: May 21st, The End of the World, and You

In the last few weeks, a gross amount of attention has been given to a man by the name of Harold Camping.  Harold, as we all probably know, has predicted that Jesus Christ will return to rapture His church tomorrow, on May 21st, 2011.  Now normally, I don’t give this sort of stuff any attention.  But I can’t help but notice the great amount of people who have.  I guess there is nothing more important happening in this world right now, and it must just be a slow news cycle.  Such claims of men who say they know when Jesus will return, as we all know from history, aren’t entirely unusual.  Though of course, they are a bit odd and out of place considering that the Lord explicitly taught that no man knows the day or the hour of His return.  Most Christians understand this very basic teaching, and aren’t in the slightest way moved by it.

Yet without fail, every few years somebody comes along who feels that through their diligent research and study of the Scriptures, or by means of some secret divine revelation, they have managed to figure out something that nobody else has figured out.  They know the timing of Christ’s return!  And to some degree, many of us laugh at it all.  So much so that some people even throw end of the world parties.  But tonight I’ve realized something about Harold Camping.  Harold Camping is a paradigm of how many Evangelicals study the Scriptures.  When you look at Harold Camping, instead of thinking you see some crazy old man and false teacher,  realize that you just might be looking into a mirrored reflection of yourself.

We all have been influenced by some Bible teacher over the years who just seemed like he had an amazing grasp of the Scriptures.  Every time such a teacher speaks, great mysteries and levels of understanding just seem to be unlocked, and we are blown away by his penetrating insights and discoveries.  We highly esteem such individuals.  So much so, we want to be like them.  So we do what comes naturally, we do our best to try and imitate them.  So we spend a lot of time reading the Scriptures, memorizing verses, and being extremely caught up in the world of theology and Biblical studies.  We highlight every passage and look up ever single word in a dictionary.

But a problem occurs.  Through our first few readings of the Scriptures, we find ourselves having a hard time understanding them.  We discover we aren’t as insightful as our beloved Bible teacher after all.  But not wanting to be ignorant, and always wanting to have some super deep spiritual insight to share with others, we attempt to look very hard to find some hidden gem.  And when that is not enough, we begin to try and squeeze water out of rocks.  Why?  Because something of our pride is tickled, and we want to say we understand something great and awesome, and appear insightful to others.  And because of such, we become poor Bible students.  And instead of being blown away by the awesome work of what Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross and in His resurrection, we find ourselves caught up in lesser things.

Why do we do such?  I’m convinced we do such because we are ultimately bored with Biblical Christianity and the faith once and for all handed down to the saints.  Because we think the cross is so elementary, we move on to what we consider the real “deep things of God.”  But in doing such, we’ve show ourselves to be deceived.  For there is no greater mystery in all of the universe to understand than God crucified.  And if you can ever get bored with this mystery, then it shows you’ve never really even begun to understand it.  There is no nugget of truth greater or any insight more precious than what God did in Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago.

This isn’t to say we should neglect the study of eschatology– the doctrine of the last days.  We should most certainly study these things.  But my main point is this:  if we can’t rightly understand the doctrines of the last days in light of what Christ did 2,000 years ago on the cross and in His resurrection from the dead, then we can’t honestly expect to understand anything at all.  For in that place is found all insight and knowledge.  And apart from a mastery understanding of what Christ did there, the rest of the Bible will be a very dark place.  And it will be a very dark place for you, because like Harold Camping, you’ve became bored with the everlasting Gospel of Jesus Christ.  And God doesn’t want you to understand the precious truths contained in the Scriptures apart from the truth found in Christ.

So, make fun of Harold Camping all you want.  But consider that perhaps God has raised such a man up to serve as a mirror for you to gaze in.  And be warned, that in making fun of Harold Camping, you are only making fun of yourself.


The Greatest Sinner I Know

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of who I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15, KJV)

If you regularly study the writings of the apostle Paul, you’ll find him say some pretty amazing things. Here, like as many other times before, he does not disappoint. He says some things so bluntly and plainly, we think, “surely to God he doesn’t really mean that.” Often he makes these seemingly random, mother-load sized statements, and simply moves on without so much as offering a simple reflection on what he just said. Though sometimes such proves to be a source of frustration to the student of the Scriptures, in reality, I think I really like that. Instead of looking to dot every “i” and cross every “t,” Paul sometimes simply spoke the word that was on his heart, and figured if you didn’t understand it, that word would eventually do a work in your life, because that word was nothing other than the Lord’s.

Here we have such a statement by Paul. After giving some practical pastoral exhortations to his fellow apostle Timothy, Paul recalls his life before he met the Lord. Specifically, he recalls how he acted out of ignorance and unbelief, and persecuted the Church of the living God. Paul then recalls how the Lord touched him and showed him mercy. Paul then goes onto say that the Lord came into this world to save sinners, of who he is chief.

Such a statement offends many. So much so that some preachers and commentators attempt to explain such a statement away as something Paul was simply saying about his past. And, contextually speaking, I can see how one might arrive at such a conclusion. But his statement about being the chief of sinners is not in the past tense. It is present. And this truth, unfortunately, has caused many preachers and commentators to draw unfortunate conclusions. Paul here, in his present tense confession, is not confessing to continually struggling with besetting sins in his life, or knowingly living with some skeletons in his closet.

Rather, I see it different. Paul’s confession to being the chief of sinners is not simply a statement about his past, nor is he admitting to regularly sinning in his life. Rather, his confession to being the chief of sinners is made by a man whose eyes have seen the Lord, and based on this revelation, has come to understand that he is the greatest sinner he knows. Indeed, for anybody who has truly had a revelation of the holiness of God, one cannot help but see the monster they actually are.

They in fact, become the greatest sinner they know. This knowledge is not based on comparing one’s personal sin record with the sin record of any other person. Rather, this knowledge comes from a personal and experiential knowledge of God, whereby when one gazes upon Him in his holiness, they cannot but help have an Isaiah 6 vision of God and cry out “Woe is me! I am undone!” When one truly sees the Lord high and lifted up, sitting upon His throne, one is not overly aware of who other men are in relation to God. One only sees God, and as a result of seeing God, they see themselves, and the ugly monster they really are. 

Once I stood in Church to testify, “I am the greatest sinner I know.” Have I ever, or am I presently living in gross immorality? No, not at all. Even when I was unsaved, I still lived a relatively good and moral life. I have never killed anybody, done drugs, or slept around. Comparatively speaking, I can think of a lot of other people who have done far worse things than I have ever done. Yet even armed with this knowledge, when I stand before God, I see who the Lord is, and I see who I am and what I am capable of doing.

What I believe Paul ultimately wanted us to see in his statement, is what I have come to see of myself. I am utterly and entirely dependent upon the grace and mercy of God for my salvation. For apart from that precious grace and mercy, in and of myself, I have come to see the depths of my own personal depravity. I have come to see, like the apostle Paul, that I am the greatest sinner I know. Indeed, in me there is no good thing. Only rot and filth. But thank God, the Lord did come to save me, and as a result of His saving me, I can now be a demonstration of His perfect patience, and an example for others to see of God and His saving work. After all, if the Lord could save me, the greatest sinner I know, then He can surely save others.  Indeed, the Lord can do nothing but save sinners.  He can never save saints.

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