It has been rather amusing - and somewhat painful - to watch all the sturm und drang that Harold Camping's prediction of the world's end on 21 May stirred up. I wasn't too surprised when the media et al. hyped it because that's what they do - and God forbid that they should bring in, you know, an actual biblical scholar or theologian to discuss the matter and provide a real, non-sensational rebuttal to Camping's non-biblical bid for attention.
So, basically, my main reaction was amusement at the gullibility of 'most everyone who opined on the matter in their quest to sensationalize a topic that is really quite serious.
Which point brings me to the painful aspect of all the hoopla: you may not believe it, but the Bible - God's Word - does speak of the end of the world. Jesus, in fact, speaks more of unsaved man's fate in Hell more than any other person in the Bible; if He spoke of it so much, simple respect for His character should make us take a look at our eternal destination and the end of the world.
Since I've written about salvation a few times on this blog but not about the end of the world (not that I recall, anyway), I thought I'd toss in a few of my own thoughts on the matter as my blog-brother, Michael, has.
Full disclosure time: while I hold to the premillennial rapture view of the end times, it is not something which I hold with a "closed hand." What I mean by that is, since
- I have not personally done a dedicated study of end time prophecies and the history of that doctrine as held by the Christian Church, and
- while I consider it an IMPORTANT doctrine, I don't believe it's a doctrine (generally) that is an essential of the faith (i.e., if you don't believe in the premillennial rapture view, you're not a Christian), so we should view the subject through the lens of Christian charity and liberty, and
- several Bible teachers who I hold in great respect and honor for their diligence in the study and proclaimation of Scripture have opposing views, each with biblical reasoning that, at least, requires me to give them careful consideration, even if I don't think I agree with them, and
- finally, remember that in any discussion, positions A, B and C (or however many), when they are in opposition, cannot ALL be right... but they CAN all be WRONG! We are still imperfect humans, and "see through a glass, darkly." We have not yet been glorified with the Son and thus do not have perfect knowledge untainted by sin. Even when we do enter Eternity to be with our Savior, there will always be things we do not - and will not - know: finite creatures such as ourselves are incapable of fully comprehending the infinite God who created us.
Due to these points, I cannot be dogmatic on what Christian view of the end times is the "right" one - except, of course, for the fact that Jesus said He would return to judge the world, condemn the unrighteous to eternal punishment, take His Church to be with Him in Eternity, and to bring a "new heaven and a new earth" in which there is no sin and no tears (see Revelation 21).
OK, so what's the big deal about the end times, then? Why did I feel saddened by all the posturing and pontificating and derision heaped up on Camping and his deluded prediction?
Simple: because Christ IS coming back! When, we don't know - but it could be before I finish this post, or it could be hundreds of years from now: we just don't know. However, God knows. He has set the year and the day and the hour and the very minute that He will bring history to an end and usher us all into eternity.
Look, folks, you don't even know if you'll be alive five seconds from now, much less what the date is for the end of the world. Yet the Bible makes clear that NOW is the time for salvation, NOW is the time to repent of sin and turn to God for forgiveness. Once you die, there will be no second chance, and your eternity is fixed. There are no second chances!
So, Christian, while we wait in anticipation of Christ's glorious Return, we should be diligent in being committed disciples of Christ. We should be earnestly working out our salvation by immersing ourselves in His Word and rooting out sin in our lives. We should be loving and nurturing our families, working to support them and training our children up in the love and admonition of our Lord. We should be gathering together as a Church family to worship and praise the One who is our Salvation and our Strength, committing ourselves to proclaiming His name to all the earth. We should be dedicated bosses and employees, working honestly and fairly at our jobs as a witness to the character of Christ and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.
We should be living lives of faithful service, forsaking indolence and foolishness, so that when our Savior returns, He will not find us idle or behaving shamefully.
Unbeliever, what about you? The End of the World™ has become rather a joke, hasn't it? I am sorry for that, but I do urge you to take a sober look at your life and at the reasonableness of the Christian faith (yeah, I know, you've been told it's all smoke and mirrors - but have you actually read any Christian apologists with any semblance of an open mind?). Christ is not narrow - "whosoever will may come" (John 3:16, naturally) and be welcomed. Christ is not a killjoy - "I have come so that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). Christ does not ask you to come to Him blindly, but to count the cost carefully.
You know, there's a famous challenge given by Blaise Pascal, known as "Pascal's Wager." It basically says that, if you are an atheist and there is no God, you have lost nothing - but if there is a God, you lose EVERYTHING. However, if you are a Christian and there is no God, again, you have lost nothing.
But if you are a Christian and there is a God, you gain EVERYTHING.
Atheist futures: either neutral annihilation or eternal loss.
Christian futures: either neutral annihilation or eternal gain.
It's a poor reason to accept Christ, but perhaps it will put your feet on the path to understanding the depths of your own sin and the infinite love, grace, and forgiveness that Christ offers with an open hand.
And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth:
Blood and fire and pillars of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.
And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the LORD
Shall be saved.
& For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance,
As the LORD has said,
Among the remnant whom the LORD calls.
NOW is the day of salvation; you do not know know the hour of your reckoning. NOW is the time, before it really is the End of the World.
(crossposted to Virginia Virtucon)