I. “When the Son of Man comes, shall He find faith on the earth?
Currently there is a radio talk show called family radio under the directorship of Harold Camping. I have been following Harold Camping for around five years now. In many ways i found him to be a very good bible teacher even though i would have my own disagreements there and there. Harold Camping has been teaching that Rapture is about to occur on the 21st of May 2011, that means on Saturday, that means this is our last week according to his understanding of the bible. Harold had said the same thing would happen around 1994 however with 1994 he testified that even before 1994 came to pass he had no firm conviction that the bible was teaching that. However for the 21st of May 2011, Harold has no doubt, he is sure that is what the bible is saying. Harold Camping has written a number of books which by the way are free of charge, giving full explanation to this revelation as he believes to have received it from the bible.
I have to respect Harold for his courage and fearlessness in the convictions he has, telling the whole world with no doubt that rapture is on the 21st of May 2011. However this has left me wondering because i regard Harold Camping as one of the best biblical scholars i have encountered in my time or generation. However i am worried that if the 21st rapture day does not come to pass, what would Mr. Camping do? and the millions of people who believe what he is teaching, what will happen to them? This two questions is what motivated me to write this letter. From all these claims of knowing the day of rapture in the Christian history, I was made to realize the great importance of the question Jesus asked: “When the Son of Man comes, shall He find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). This questing is important because given this kind of history in our Christian faith many could lose hope and patience on waiting on our lord Jesus Christ. However I want to urge everyone to remain steadfast and firm in the faith of our lord Jesus Christ. Camping has written books of his teaching which indeed are convincing otherwise we would not have millions people following him. We must always understand that our faith in God did not come about because of our intelligence (then all intelligent people in the world will believe) or some human ability or some reasonable doctrine but is entirely the work of God through hearing his word. Man can only plant/preach the word and it is God who makes the plants grow. Our trust is not in man but in God. Some misleading trends are: firstly, complete trust and surety in the church traditions (this includes the doctrines of the church, the teachings of the pastor, etc) and regulations for faith in God(I.e making their church traditions as the authority and only way to God), this easily results in one to believe she/he is in the faith, simply because he/she measures their faith by the regulations and traditions of their church. I know this for sure because i myself was a victim, my church has a tradition among other practices of encouraging people to write bible testimonies (based on the Sunday message one writes what they have learnt or some deep meaning from the message that has impacted their lives which can help them have practical faith) those who normally commit to the church traditions are seen as future disciples of Jesus Christ. I believe this tradition is good and it is to encourage people to meditate on God’s word in hope that they may receive one word of God and hence live a fruitful life. However, I began to use it as a method of measuring my faith (i.e. finding myself writing these testimonies each week without made me feel a better Christian) then it becomes dangerous and a heavy burden which might result in one losing their faith. Secondly, church going out of a rule or habit or status quo and not from the love of God. Like the Galatians church which started write in the spirit but later fell into legalism (laws and rules and missed that the origin of their faith was the spirit of God). I have found that many churches today had started right in the spirit but later on fall into a form of legalism or faith in the traditions than faith in God. If the church tradition, doctrine, fellowship does not center one in God’s spirit and in Jesus Christ then that tradition or doctrine or fellowship is useless as far as the gospel of Jesus Christ is concerned [John 17:3]. We are constantly cautioned from scripture: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you–unless, of course, you fail the test?” [2 Cor 13:5], we are to be careful and hence examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith. And according to me the best way is through the word of God, the very same word that brought faith to us, “So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” [Rom 10:17]. Many have put their trust and hope in the teaching of Harold Camping and the only way to God. Let us examine ourselves and live a life worthy of the gospel. We must know that we are not sufficient of ourselves our sufficiency is of God” [2Cor 3:5]. Let us trust our loving God who knows all our hearts desires. Here is a question for you: when the Son of Man comes, shall He find faith on the earth?
II. Let us return to personal time with God and personal study of the Bible prayerfully.
There was a time in our history when only the church had the authority to teach and give the word of God. However many shared their blood so that today we might have the bible in our languages, men such as: John Wycliffe, William Tyndale, Erasmus of Rotterdam, and others. These men were under the obedience of Jesus Christ, “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation” [Mark 16:15]. Let us not break the chain of faith but have personal time with our bibles and God through prayer. A great price was paid for us to have what we have today. As the words says “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” [2 Timothy 2:15], i believe we have all the responsibility to make use of this graceful opportunity as the holy spirit leads “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.” [1 John 2:27].
The church needs to return to the core of the Bible. What is going to happen to the millions who are following after Harold Camping’s teachings, men and woman who have put all trust in man’s teaching? only God knows…i still have hope though that God is in control….this is not the first time in Christian history that someone has claimed the end of the world. However i must confess Harold Camping grabs this claim not from some vision nor does he claim to be a prophet but claims to have directly received this as he has been studying the Bible. This is discomforting, for not only will he be nullifying himself but also the Bible if May 21st is not rapture day. However God is God, before the Bible was God was and I believe God will continue to use the Bible to spread the message of reconciliation towards himself and man, “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever” [Isaiah 40:8]. God made sure that His words were recorded for us and our future generation “And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain on tables, that he may run that reads it.” [Hab 2:2], “He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” [Rev 21:5], “But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge.” [Daniel 12:4]. “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” [John 20:31]. Let us therefore return to the bible of which now is in almost any language, for in this way we will be able to escape many deceptions and hence safeguard our souls. Let us have a steady heart in Jesus Christ. Through Jesus resurrection we are assured that those who have died will also be resurrected, however it might not be on the 21st of May 2011 (i.e. this Saturday). We read from Timothy that, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” [2 Tim 3:16]. From the book of Timothy we learn that God knew man’s hearts and beforehand informed us that scripture can also be used for correcting, which means that God knew that man will make mistakes. I believe Harold Camping has fallen into such great mistake in his theology and doctrine and may the mercy of God be upon him. Let us not for once doubt the coming of our lord Jesus Christ, Jesus asked that question for us, to keep watch and hold on to what he taught. Let us keep the faith until the very end, believe God and prayerful follow Him as he had revealed Himself through the person of Jesus Christ. “I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ” [Rev 1:9], let us also patiently wait for our Lord Jesus Christ. I ask that we pray for Harold Camping and the many who have given all hope to his teaching, let’s pray that they may not lose their faith but that God may have mercy upon them to overcome this test.