March Madness Standings

March Madness Standings

I can brag about being the best out of a lot of sucky brackets.
Hope we are better next year guys.

Maranatha!, “Our Lord, come!”

As all other false prophecies reach their inevitable and shameful demise, so to has Harold Camping’s May 21, 2011 Judgment Day prediction failed to deliver on its promise. So the question is, “what happens next?” Will Mr. Camping and his fellow “Campingites” admit they were in error? Will they try to set a new date? What will happen to all of his disappointed and disillusioned followers who gave up everything they had for the belief that today was in fact the “end of the world”?  Can we still trust the Bible? Is Jesus really coming back?

I don’t know what will become of Harold Camping and his followers, but I do pray that God would grant repentance to Mr. Camping, and that all those who were deceived into following his teaching would see the truth of the Scriptures as it is revealed in the Scriptures and not by Mr. Camping. In spite of the ridiculousness of the whole matter, I exhort all fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to pray for all those who were associated with this organization, and to use this as an opportunity to share the Gospel with others.

Can we still trust the Bible? Absolutely! God’s word has stood the test of time; endured intense scrutiny; and remains the most influential and attested book of all antiquity. Actually, Harold Camping’s failed prophetic claims should increase our confidence in the Bible rather than diminish it. And why is that? Because the Bible itself affirms that these type of things will actually happen:  “And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction,as they do the other Scriptures (2 Peter 3:15-16).”

So if you have lost confidence in the infallibility and inerrancy of God’s word because of Harold Camping, I highly admonish you to see this as an affirmation of the truthfulness of God’s word as it accurately describes individuals who would take the Bible and distort it to their own destruction.

Jesus will return, and he will return in judgment and glory! He can return at 7:oopm tonight or maybe years from now, but the point is that we should not concern ourselves with trying to speculate when He will return. If the incarnate God did not know when the day or the hour would come neither will Harold Camping nor any one of us know. But the scriptures clearly teach He will in fact return, which gives us more of an incentive to go out into the world and proclaim the Gospel before His glorious return.

“He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” -Revelation 22:20

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Jumping through Hermeneutical hoops with Harold Camping

“The Bible guarantees it,” is the slogan you see plastered on billboards, signs, cars, tracts, and different kinds of literature. So what exactly does the Bible guarantee? Well, according to Harold Camping’s hermeneutic the Bible teaches that on May 21, 2011 Jesus Christ will return in Judgment ushering in the rapture of all believers and the end of the world.

Upon what basis does Harold Camping support his prophetic claims? Sound exegesis and hermeneutics? Nope, but rather using an allegorical and numerological interpretation of certain biblical texts coupled with his wild-eyed imagination, Mr. Camping is able to come up with his theories. It is a method of interpretation that tends to neglect the original intent of the authors and attempts to find hidden meanings or symbols behind certain words and numbers. This is grounded on the fact that Jesus himself spoke in parables, therefore everything we read in the Bible is to be understood in a parabolic sense. Is this a valid method of interpretation? Did Jesus and the apostles employ this method? Did anyone throughout church history ever use this method?

The problem with Mr. Camping’s hermeneutic is that it ignores the different types of literature that are found in the Bible. Yes, it is true Jesus spoke in parables, but it also true he spoke plainly and direct. Paul likewise spoke in a normal plain sense especially when we read the didactic passages found in his letters. One needs to realize that the Bible is a book filled with different forms of literature such as didactic teachings (teachings that are meant to teach or instruct), parables, poetry, history, apocalyptic, etc. But to single out one form of literature and make that the standard for interpreting every single passage in the Bible is to turn on its head the original meaning of the text that was intended by the original author.

Just to give you an example of Camping’s teachings, he believes that by using his method of interpretation the Bible clearly shows that from the date of the flood in Noah’s day (which nobody knows the exact time and date when it actually occurred) all the way up to May 21, 2011 marks approximately 7000 years. What does 7000 have to do with anything? According to Camping, in Genesis 7:4 we read “For yet seven days, … and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.” Camping draws a connection between the seven days mentioned in Genesis 7:4 and Peter’s statement in 2 Peter 3:8, which states “with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” So in Genesis 7:4 seven days really means seven thousand years. But upon what exegetical basis can anyone make that parallel? Is that really what Peter meant? I suggest to you that it is not. Just reading the context of 2 Peter you can clearly see that Peter is making the point that Christ can return in any minute in light of the many scoffers who continually make a mockery of the Christian’s belief of the second coming of Jesus Christ. There is nothing in the text or context that allows anyone to make the parallel Camping is making. Moreover, verse 10 says that “the Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night”, but apparently this thief has already been caught by Harold Camping if we use his hermeneutic.

According to Camping, the church age ceased to exist on May 21, 1988 and the Spirit of God is no longer present in any church today. Therefore, Mr. Camping exhorts all believers to abandon their churches (since there are no more true churches post May 21, 1988) and proclaim the Gospel. Evidently, the Gospel according to Mr. Camping is to tell everyone that Judgment Day is coming May 21, 2011. Was this the same Gospel that Jesus and the Apostles preached?

How does Camping know all of this? Well, it is because Harold Camping is the final authority for anything he claims. His view on the church is clearly in opposition to what the Scriptures actually teach about the nature of the church. Hebrews 10:25 instructs us not to forsake the assembly; Ephesians 5 reveals that Jesus gave Himself up for the Church; Paul instructs Timothy in 1 Timothy on how a local church should function. How do these passages square up with Mr. Camping’s ecclesiology?

Now obviously this is not the first time someone makes outlandish claims such as the ones proposed by Mr. Camping, but how many people actually buy into these claims? Moreover, how many Christian can give an adequate response to these claims? For a more in depth analysis of Mr. Harold Camping and his teaching I have a provided a link that contains an audio debate with Dr. James R. White and Harold Camping that addresses this particular issue. With all that being said, let us remember the words of Jesus, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father…Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. (Matthew 24:36, 42-44)”

Here is the link to the debate between Dr. James R. White and Harold Camping: http://aomin.org/

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Back in Business!

As I wipe the virtual dust off the wordpress dashboard, I’m happy to announce we are back in business!  Well, it’s not as if we were ever a “business” to begin with, but you get my drift. I must confess it is rather difficult trying to keep a Blog up to date when so much around you is going on. Family life, church life, midterms, final exams, etc., all tend to divert our attention away from the Blogosphere, which is not necessarily a bad thing at times.

With all that being said, we hope to be more consistent with our blogging seeing how beneficial and edifying it can be to the body of Christ. There are many topics I would like to address personally here on 121 that I think will be very helpful, encouraging and challenging. So, stay tuned!

“Unless you repent, you will…perish” Part 3

A couple of weeks ago I cited several historic confessions from the 16th and 17th centuries that specifically addressed the concept of repentance. This week I want to take a closer look at the doctrine of repentance as it is revealed in Scripture, it’s implications on the Gospel and Christian living, the etymology of the word, and what theologians and scholars have believed throughout the centuries as it pertains to repentance. I will do this in a sort of question and answer format to make it more systematic and comprehensible.

Is repentance necessary for salvation?

Yes, repentance was an essential theme in John the Baptist’s preaching as well as Jesus and the Apostles.

1 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Matthew 3:1-2)

14 Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15)

3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. (Luke 13:3)

46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. (Luke 24:46-47)

19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, (Acts 3:19)

30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, (Acts 17:30)

21 testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. (Acts 20:21)

9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)

Just from these few verses we can clearly see salvation is obtained through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Two great graces graces essential to a saint in this life are faith and repentance. These are the two wings by which he flies to heaven.” (Thomas Watson, The Doctrine of Repentance, p. 7)

“There is no rowing to paradise except upon the stream of repenting tears. Repentance is required as a qualification. It is not so much to endear us to Christ as to endear Christ to us. Till sin be bitter, Christ will not be sweet.” (Thomas Watson, The Doctrine of Repentance, p. 7)

“Moreover, true repentance never exists except in conjunction with faith, while, on the other hand, wherever there is true faith , there is also real repentance.” (Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 4th Edition, p. 487)

“Scripture puts repentance and faith together as different aspects of the one act of coming to Christ for salvation.” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, p. 713)

“No message that eliminates repentance can properly be called the gospel…” (John MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus, p. 182)

“The manner in which faith and repentance are coupled together in Scripture plainly shows that, as faith is implicitly present in repentance, so repentance is implicitly in faith.” (R.L. Dabney, Systematic Theology, p. 606-607)

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