The headline we’ll never see; “Harold Camping was Right! Judgment Day occurred on May 21, 2011” Many people have focused on Camping’s errors -which is understandable since there are so many to choose from. However, I’d like to focus on what he might have correct. Now looking for where he is right is like finding raisins in a pile of rabbit droppings. There are a few raisins in there, but don’t bite into the wrong one. 🙂
While I did look at my hand at 6:00 pm the other night to see if it was fading like Michael J. Fox’s in the Back To The Future photo, I was relieved to see I had not become transparent. Harold Camping’s awkward moment and Beautiful Mind heresies have not diluted the hope of two realities in my heart and mind.
1. Jesus is returning.
Since Camping has become famous and apparently quite rich distorting what the Bible teaches, I’d like to clarify the actual teaching of the Bible. The Bible teaches that Jesus will return to earth in the same way he came.
Acts 1: 9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11 who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
Notice the Angel says, “He will come in like manner.” Christ will return in a literal, physical, viewable way for all to see -when he returns. The Bible teaches that Jesus died, rose, and had a REAL, actual body. Not Casper the friendly ghost body. Not a spirit type body. A real body that can and did eat -after he was raised. This is why Christianity has such hope. It is the teaching that after you die… You are still… Well, YOU! Your energies are not scattered into flowers, other people, or a cosmic amoeba. Everyone lives forever somewhere. We are unique, eternal beings. This teaching is not based on fantasy, wishful thinking, or naive folktales. This teaching is rooted in history. The facts are the lynch pins of faith. If the facts are wrong, our faith is worthless. Not my words, they come from the Apostle Paul.
17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.
This account in Corinthians and Acts are written by eye witness scholars. Dr Luke was a medical professional and ancient historian who has been praised by modern historians for his accuracy and reliability. His account of the actual events was based on multiple eye witness testimony. I have a friend who was a CSI investigator for the Cincinnati police. He told me that the evidence and eye witness testimony for the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most substantiated claim in history. I say all this to help you understand that your faith is only as good as the facts it is placed in. All of Christianity hinges on ONE fact: Jesus’s death and physical resurrection. If this didn’t happen, Christ’s return and defeat of death is worthless. If it is true, however, -which I believe because the facts support the claim- there is confident hope. If we place our faith in Christ’s ability to defeat death, He will raise all of us who place our trust in Him to live eternally with God.
2. There is a final judgment.
Rob Bell is wrong. In his attempt to make God a nicer guy, he has done the opposite. Everyone I know really, really wants God to judge -at least based on their own criteria. When a skeptic says, “Why doesn’t God do something about evil..,” he is really saying, “Why won’t God judge evil.” When you see cruelty, injustice, and pain, something within every believer and skeptic wants justice. Justice is what makes us jump up from our seats at the end of the movie. When the bad guys are punished and the good guys win, something within all of us rejoices. Justice and accountability are woven into the fabric of the universe and our hearts. The idea that good is rewarded and evil is punished is the hunger of every heart. Rob Bell is right, “Love wins,” but in the words of Princess Bride, “I do not think that means what you think it means.” When God rightly, justly, and fairly punishes evil, that is an example of “love winning.” A God who lets Hitler off the hook or looks past the rapist’s crimes is not a loving God at all. So what does it mean that there is a final judgment. Romans 2 makes it clear that all of us stand before God and get a fair, impartial trial. We will be evaluated based on our own standard of right and wrong. Did we do unto others the way we wanted them to do unto us. We got mad when others gossiped, but did we gossip? We wanted others to be honest, but were we always honest? We don’t want anyone lusting after our wife, husband or daughter, so did we lust after anyone else’s spouse or child? Hmmmm… Are you seeing the problem? At the end of our life, God gives us a fair trial. The problem is obvious. A fair trial means our whole life is evaluated. When our conscience and secrets act as a prosecuting attorney, we will all fall short of our own standards -let alone God’s. So a fair trial means that we are all in trouble.
I had a conversation with a Muslim scholar, Atheist, and Rabbi on stage a few years ago. They all hoped that “If there is an afterlife” their good works would outweigh their bad works. Jesus says, “Stop fooling yourself. Your good deeds are nearly as good as you think. Your bad deeds are far worse than you can imagine.” The Bible teaches that at the end of your life, you can have fairness or forgiveness. I, for one, do not want a fair trial. As a pastor, you might think I’d be hoping for the fair trial since I have my resume “full” of good deeds. Don’t kid yourself, my heart is unkind, unloving, unwise, compaining, lustful, and on and on… When I stand before God for my trial, the LAST thing I’d ever say is “Look what I’ve done.” Instead I will throw myself at the mercy of God and say, “Thank you for what YOU have done. You died for my mistakes. You rescued me from my bad deeds. You also delivered me from my deceitful good deeds.” Christ’s death gives us the confidence that at the final judgment, we can spend eternity with God in heaven based on the assurance of His work, not our works. Grace changes everything. It keeps you incredibly humble while elevating you to the highest confidence -both at the same time.
For more information, check out www.godonomics.com or this clip
In the fable of the Emporer’s new clothes, a snake oil salesman talked the leader of the country into walking around naked in these fantastic new invisible clothes. Only those who had faith could see them. As the rumor spread through the empire that the faithful and honorable could “see” the invisible clothes, everyone was suddenly admiring the king’s wonderful new wardrobe. These salemen charged the Emporer for this beautiful new birthday suit. They ran off rich while the Emporer was finally confronted by a child who noted that he was naked. Out of the mouth of babes.
This month Harold Camping tried to dress his followers up in God’s invisible new clothes. he spun a web of math and faith that combined Nostradomas and Rainman. He convinced many to buy his new clothes before May 21st. Now that he and his ministry are rich and raking in the dough, he has an explanation for the “seeming” error of his predictions. He came out today and reported that the rapture occurred last weekend in an “invisible” way. Only the faithful saw it. Hmmmm….. Oh, I forgot, he double checked his math again too…. Turns out that he forgot to carry the “1” which resulted in…. Well, ur, um…. it’s very complicated for mere mortals to understand, but the bottom line is… Um… The real rapture… I mean the non-invisible rapture will be in October… That is, er, um, unless, it is another nonmaterial, invisible Casper-the-friendly ghost type event that only Harold can see from his million dollar ministry with his special decoder ring.
I too am one of the many people who chuckled at news stories about Harold Camping’s prediction that the world was going to end on May 21st. As a Bible believer, it was clear that his predictions were more science fiction meets Beautiful Mind than anything Biblical or historical. I was shocked that educated people could fall for such nonsense.
As today becomes “Make-fun-of-all-Christians’-view-of-end-times-Day” because of the predictions of one self-proclaimed “scholar”, I realized that there is a far worse alternative. How atheism and its teachings have harmed children.
While Biblical Christianity says that life is meaningful and has purpose, atheism teaches that there is no greater purpose for life. While the Bible teaches that actions have consequences and accountability before God, atheism teaches that this life is all there is and no one will stand to account before their Maker. Russia’s educational system taught atheism for years resulting in a sky-rocketing alcoholism in future generations trying to medicate the lack of meaning. If only those children could sue the government for pushing this philosophy down their throats as young innocent learners. We can only wonder the mental anguish on kids who learned a world-view that suggests Hitler will have no accountability for his horrific acts to the Jews.
While Jesus teaches that those who have died will be resurrected to life based on the historic substantiated evidence of His death, burial, and resurrection, atheism teaches that you rot to death. One can only imagine the psychological damage and years of therapy children must endure as they learn that Grandpa is gone forever, Grandma is nothing more than a rotting corpse, and there is no hope of Heaven. If only the ACLU and DCFS made house calls to the college campus, there might be justice for those tortured souls.
While many silly misinformed Christians sold their homes in preparation for the rapture last week –ignoring the Bible’s clear teaching that no one knows the day or hour-, there is a far more tragic alternative. Atheism’s underpinning philosophy, Naturalism, teaches that this life is all there is. It teaches that death is normal and natural. Death is the catalyst to our evolution. Death is the hero that makes us stronger and better. Charles Darwin might encourage us to whisper into our ailing grandparent’s ears in Hospice, “Your death is your great great great grandchildren’s gain. Sure cancer is painful, but I have some good news. I’ll save a lot of money on your health insurance when you’re gone. When a child suffers, they can take comfort in the words of Richard Dawkins, “DNA neither knows nor cares. In a world of blind random chance, someone’s bound to get hurt.” Hmmmm…. Who might one call to report child abuse charges for Atheism’s hopeless philosophy. Do I dail 4-1-1 kids?
Children are taught by this philosophy that they are nothing more than products of blind random meaningless chance. They are merely a Cosmic belch that will one day disappear forever. The question is not Why did these idiot Christians sell their stuff in preparation for the rapture? but Why don’t more Atheists think out the consequences of their hopeless beliefs? Fredrick Nietzsche was one of the few who thought deeply about his ideas and the consequences of this atheism. His masterful and prophetic work, The Madman, was one brilliant example. The result of his thinking landed him in a downward spiral of insanity as he realized the consequences of a universe with no God, no objective morals, no hope, no eternal accountability, and no reason to be bothered by evil as objectively wrong.
The last 13 years of Fredrick’s life his Godly mother cared for her poor son who had been objectified and tortured by the educational narcissists known as “College professors.” These educators shoved their mindless philosophy into his mind resulting in attempts at suicide and deep depression. If anyone should have called the Department of Children and Family Services, it would be Mrs. Nietzsche who watched the abuse her son endured from the horrific teachings of atheism. To think that Naturalism is now the underlying philosophy of our national educational system is unthinkable. Naturalism has become like a virus worming its way into our view of economics, history, philosophy,and science. Despite the obvious and observable consequences of history, we keep drinking the poison while force feeding it to future generations.
The Bible is critical of BOTH the hopelessness of organized religion and irreligion. It critiques the pride of the atheist and the televangelist. It denounces the inadequacy of the “good works” of the priest, and the “Education” of the professor. The Bible teaches that life, education, purpose, meaning, and humility flow from a life of grace. Jesus taught that life is precious. Every life matters and ideas have consequences.
For more information, check out www.godnomics.com
Today was a long day. It began with a phone call to a father who sobbed over the phone as we disguised final funeral arrangements. His 17 year old son passed away a few days earlier. I met Mitch back in January when he started attending our church. He wanted the Bible’s answers to tough questions. One of those questions is “What happens when we die.” Unlike the rest of us who may wonder about that issue, but feel like it is forever away, Mitch had a sense of urgency to find the answers.
Two weeks ago, I had an atheist friend on stage with me at church discussing the differing views of death and dying. We looked at atheism’s answer to “Why suffer occurs” vs Hinduism vs Jesus. When you see a young life snuffed out, you hunger for answers. I shared the options.
If Atheism is correct, the answer to the question of “Why Cancer, and Why Him…” is painfully hopeless. In the words of Richard Dawkins, “DNA neither knows nor cares and we dance to it’s music. In a world of blind random chance, somebody’s bound to get hurt.” If that answer doesn’t leave you empty, angry, and hopeless, I’m not sure what would be worse. Atheism critiques the problem of evil while offering us the worst possible alternative. Evolution triumphs death as the catalyst to our evolution. Death and suffering is the hero of natural selection and the way we move forward in our evolution. We die… The next generation learns from it. We get better. Christianity says, “NONSENSE! Death is not normal or natural. Death is the enemy!”
Christ’s teaching explains the problem of evil, calls it abnormal and wrong, and offers a solution. The Bible says we were made for a world without pain and suffering. The echo of that world is still etched on our hearts. That is why we grieve. That’s why we say, “IT shouldn’t be this way…” We are comparing this broken world to it’s original blueprint still etched on our hearts. The Bible says evil is a result of two things: A broken creation and free will. Christianity also offers hope that God will one day fix this world. Wipe away ever tear. Restore broken bodies. This hope can be rubbed into our grief so we grieve with hope. The hope of seeing our son and daughter again. The hope that a body with cancer on earth is replaced with a REAL body without cancer or pain in heaven.
What happens when we die? IF Charles Darwin was right, we ROT TO DEATH and all we have are memories that live on. And honestly, about a month after our funeral, most people will move on and barely remember us. If Gandhi was right, we RECYCLE into energy. We are not unique individuals, but energy that is scattered into the universe (a tree, a rabbit, a mosquito). We will never ever see our loved ones again, because they don’t exist in one place or one form. If King Tut was right, we REMAIN the same. We go into the next life with the same problems and ailments as this life. Eqyptian tombs are filled with medicines and walking canes since you have the same diseases and pains in the next life as this one. BUT… If Jesus was right, there is hope. Real historic hope. We RESURRECT to life. We get real, healed, fixed, fully restored bodies in Heaven. No more cancer. No more alzheimers. No more pain. No more tears. We know we can and will see our loved ones again. For anyone that trusts Christ to defeat death, this is the confident future.
This is not wishful thinking. This is not a fairy tale. This is a fixed hope locked on the historic FACTS of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ confirmed by archeology, history, and external evidence. We could trust our good works to defeat death, but they are woefully inadequate. The Grim Reaper is only terrified by the ONE who crushed him.
I told my wife that I’d like to officiate my own funeral. She laughs at me, but I’d like to video tape my funeral in advance so I can share my confident hope in Heaven based on what Christ did, not what I did. Religion will not get you to heaven. Good works will not get any one to Heaven.. I’ll put my trust in the One person who went toe to toe with death and came out victorious. I also told my wife to bury me in a cheap plywood box from home depot. I didn’t want her guilted into spending a bunch of money on a box. Funerals can be expensive and the health code doesn’t allow Home Depot homemade coffins, BUT, back in 2009, Walmart started offering Coffins for sale for less than $1000. NOt kidding, here is the link
Some may be too proud to shop at Walmart for a funeral. As for me, I think it would sum up my view of money and death. Money: Don’t spend more than you need to on a box to hold your body. Death: It’s not the final chapter.
For more information, check out www.godonomics.com or this clip of me explaining the world views of death on the DVD series Godonomics.