Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8)
Each of us is now aware of the religious turmoil generated by the recent failed prognostication of Judgment Day. Most of these predictions rarely enter the public consciousness because those who perpetrate them do not have the means to make them widely known. About a year ago, I spoke with a preacher that said he could tell me for sure when Christ would return. I listened for about three seconds before my attention was turned to something else, and so I failed to get the exact date. As you can imagine, I am suffering deep remorse for not listening long enough! I still do not know what date he had in mind and I seriously doubt there are a handful of people who do.
This is not the case with the May 21st date proposed by Harold Camping. He had the means to make his views widely known, and so the prediction reached around the world and stirred quite a bit of interest. It is hard to miss thousands of 288 square feet billboards and over $100 million in advertising. The focus now is on the fallout for countless numbers of people that believed his predictions. Many churches have offered counseling for misguided “Christians” who are left bitterly disappointed.
I believe the counseling is mostly misguided. Anyone that was serious enough to buy into Harold Camping’s predictions must also have bought into his many other heretical teachings. A man who believed the church is dead; that people should abandon all churches (and many do need to be abandoned!); a man that taught salvation is for the elect of God irrespective of their belief in Christ; a man that believes the gospel is now annulled; a man that failed the test of a true prophet (Deut. 18:22), is a rank heretic of the worst sort. To call his program “Christian” or his radio station, “Family Christian Radio,” is the devil’s worst type of deception. People that believe such things do not need to be counseled concerning their disappointment over the rapture—they need to be given the gospel of Christ. If Christ did appear, they weren’t going!
In the opening verses of 2 Timothy 4, Paul encouraged Timothy to preach the truth of the word, which is measured by sound doctrine. He warned that people are prone to turn from truth to wildly imaginative fables. This is the case of those that followed Harold Camping. The crown of righteousness that is won at the coming of Christ is one that is given based upon gospel fidelity. Thus Paul says, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7). Neither Harold Camping nor his followers have kept the faith. If you want to help these people, do not assist in the grief counseling. Pray for their salvation!
Pastor V. Mark Smith