Don’t Panic Part 1                                                                                    9/23/2001

 

(Things to consider when you read Harold Camping’s “Death of the Church”, of 9/16/2001)

 

 

*   From 2 Cor 10:4-6 Harold Camping concludes that : “There comes a time when the work of the Church is finished (Rev 11:2), its obedience has been fulfilled (2 Cor 10:6), and then follows judgment upon the Church. “But that is an assumption.”  When I read 2 Cor 10:6 I read very clearly that “We will be having a readiness to avenge all disobedience, whenever our obedience is fulfilled”, which is the literal translation according to the Interlinear Bible.  Our obedience is only fulfilled on the last day, when Christ returns on the clouds of glory.

 

*   Rev 7:9, “After this I beheld…….”  Harold Camping attaches great weight to these words “After this”, as if there is a clear chronological sequence between the 144,000 of verses 4-8 and the multitude of verses 9-10.  this causes him to conclude: “We can be certain that the 144,000 are the complete fullness of all those who would become saved by the activity of the churches during the N.T. era”.  On the other hand, he concludes that the great multitude would become saved during the great tribulation when the Church is dead and the world is blanketed by “The Latter Rain”, which is ministered by secular organizations like Family Radio.  But that is an assumption.  We must remember that Revelation is not written chronologically.  For example the words “After this” occur also in Rev 4:1, 7:1, 15:5, 18:1, 19:1, and 20:3.  In all these verses the same Greek words are used:  “After <3326> this <5023>.”

 

*   Principle: Passages in the Bible must be explained by the Bible, and not by looking in the world for an answer.

 

*   From Jer 29:16-19 Harold Camping draws the conclusion: “This passage plainly declares that God’s judgment is upon all those who refuse to go as captives into Babylon.” But that is an assumption.  When I read Jer 29:19 I read very clearly: “Because they have not hearkened to my words”.  I read that God’s judgment was on Jerusalem because they had gone apostate.

 

*   We cannot make blanket statements about the Church and assume that it includes every last Church in the world.  The Bible uses the word “Church” in two ways:  As the corporate Church (Rom 16:5, 1 Cor 4:17), or as the eternal Church (Eph 5:23,27, Heb 12:23).

 

*   Likewise the word “temple” in the Bible sometimes means the corporate Church (2 Thess 2:4), but most of the time it means the eternal Church (1 Cor 6:16, Eph 2:21). 

 

*   When is a Church dead?  The Bible does not give a clear definition of when a Church is dead.  But we can safely assume that when the leadership of a Church is in violation of Rev 22:18-19 then that Church is dead as a doornail.  Already 400 years ago two thirds of the corporate Church in the world was dead, because they were in violation of Rev 22:18-19.  Harold Camping declares that the Church worldwide is dead now.  But that is an assumption.  How can he know if every Church in the world is unwilling to remove their high places? From Rev 2 and 3 we can see that God removes the candlestick for each Church one at a time.  Will there come a time when every last Church in the world will be dead?  Most likely, but that will be close to the end of time.  Nobody knows when that will be, because no one knows the day or the hour of Christ’s returning.

 

*   Rev 11:7, when are the two witnesses killed?  Harold Camping arrives at the date that the two witnesses are killed (the same date that the abomination of desolation stands in the holy place) by counting 2 x 1290 years from the date that Jerusalem was destroyed.  But that is an assumption.  We have seen from the 1994 disaster that the numbers game is not a trustworthy method.  It would be safer to say that Rev 11:7 corresponds with Rev 13:7.  But we also know that the saints are secure in the hands of God forever.  So what is God saying in Rev 11:7 and Rev 13:7?  Does it not mean that the voice of the Gospel is silenced?  It cannot mean that the saints are dead.

 

*   Undeniably, this generation is seeing in process the destruction of the Church.  There are very few Churches left that are still faithful to the Word of God.  But if the O.T. is a pattern for the timing of the end, then it will be the next generation after us who will see Christ returning.

 

*   When we find ourselves stuck between a rock and a hard place, we need to remember that God says in Ex 14:3, “Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord.”  And God says in Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God”.  Don’t make any rash decisions.

 

*   Remember the primary reason why God has left us in this world: “As the Father has sent me, so send I you.” Our first priority in this world is not to make rash decisions, but to be faithful witnesses of the Gospel of salvation by grace through Christ alone.