Friday, May 20, 2011

What is this about a Rapture?

If you haven't heard, some people are calling for there to be a day of judgement and Rapture tomorrow with the world ending on October 21st. This is a date predicted by Harold Camping, a man who also predicted the date wrongly in 1994. This is so widely discussed in the news, I thought it might be helpful to shed a light on what the bible REALLY says for those that read my blog.

First, on false prophets: (1)

Deuteronomy 18:20-22 (ESV)
But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.' And if you say in your heart, 'How may we know the word that the LORD has not spoken?'-- when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.

So, if a man claims to have some prophecy and it doesn't come true, ignore that prophet. Camping in fact may not be a false prophet(2) (depending on your definition of a prophet) but I believe he is at least teaching against God's word and therefore it makes him a false teacher and I believe the same should be said of a false teacher of God's word.

Second, on whether we can know the day and time:
Mark 13:32-36 (ESV) - also in Matthew 24 and Luke 21.
"But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake--for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning-- lest he come suddenly and find you asleep.
Acts 1:6-8 (ESV)
So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth."

So, Jesus says multiple times that you cannot know when. In fact, He does not know, only God the Father knows. How then do these people who claim to be Jesus's followers ignore His words as recorded?

Third, what about judgement? (3)

God is holy so He has to be just and punish your sin (Isaiah 59:1-2, Romans 3:23-24).
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus

He did punish your sin, He inflicted your penalty on His sinless Son (Isaiah 53:4-5, 1 Peter 3:18).

We can receive this forgiveness of our sin alone by faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23, 10:9, Ephesians 2:8-9).
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- not by works, so that no one can boast.

We can walk in newness of life which is based on faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 6:4, Titus 2:11-14, 1 Peter 2:2-5).

So, we will be judged but for those who put their faith in Christ, there is grace through the blood shed by Jesus on the cross and hope in His triumph over death in the resurrection.

Finally, what about the end times in the bible? (3)

The end times will get tougher – its important to make a decision and get strong in your faith now (Mark 13 - also Luke 21 and Matthew 24)

Expect more earthquakes, famines, and wars (Mark 13:7-8).
And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains.

Jesus will rescue His own (Mark 13:26-27).
"At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.

There will be an end of this time and until then wars, earthquakes, and famines will increase in frequency. Jesus will rescue those who are His own. Just as the apostles looked forward to the second coming of Jesus so do the followers of Jesus today when the world will exit its birth pains, tribulations will be complete, and we enter into eternity with a Glorious and Holy Lord. Until that day (which we don't know) we hope and pray that all will join us in our belief. We respond with the final words in the book of Revelation, "Come, Lord Jesus."

(1) Adapted from Randy Alcorn, Eternal Perspective Ministries
(2) Harold Camping False prohet? by RC Sproul. Ligonier Ministries
(3) Adapted from Pastor Mike Willis, Harvest Bible Chapel North Raleigh