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May 31 2011

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Dealing with post-“rapture” pain?

By Gary Hardaway

So… you’re still here. You expected to be in heaven by now, but something has gone awry. You’re not exactly sure why you and Christ’s other faithful few have not yet ascended. It’s an unexpected mystery. Disturbing. Maybe Harold Camping will explain it all on his next radio broadcast.
While you’re pondering these imponderables, ask yourself some basic questions starting with, “Why did I believe Harold Camping?”  Because he sounded so convincing? Because he referred to many, many Scriptures as he delivered his teachings day by day, month by month? Because he seemed so knowledgeable. And he certainly was sincere.
How well do you know the Bible? Do you read from it regularly? Do you attend church, a church where the Bible is honored as God’s Word and taught as authoritative for Christian belief and practice? If so, did you discuss this issue with your pastor?
Oh, I forgot. Camping told us to leave our churches because all of them had become corrupt and apostate. Did you do that? Why would you accept the notion that every single church has become perverted? Is it reasonable to imagine that on the whole face of the earth not a single preacher or congregation has remained true to the Bible?
No, that’s not reasonable. It’s absurd. Christ said he would build his church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. His kingdom does not shrink.  It grows. He compared it to a mustard seed that starts small and blossoms into a great tree, high and broad.
So, let’s go back to a previous question. How well do you know your Bible? I’m going to guess: not very well. If you were well grounded in Scripture you would know that in Matthew 24 Jesus specifically announced, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. “
What part of “No one knows” do you not understand? Even secular media have reported this clear teaching, including Zonker, in the Doonesbury comic strip. But that’s not the only Scripture that warns against guessing about Christ’s return.
Jesus’ very last statement before leaving earth surely deserves special attention: “So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.” Now, isn’t that absolutely clear? It is not for you or Harold Camping to know the times or dates . . . .
Camping deceived himself, and then he deceived you. He arrogantly assumed that He knew more than Jesus. He was pathetically and willfully deaf to the very words of the Savior. He became a false prophet. It pains me to say it, but we have to put it bluntly. In his conceit he misled you and perhaps thousands of others.
Now let’s look to the future. Turn off Family Radio and go back to church. But not just any church. Find a Bible-believing fellowship with a high view of Scripture. Make sure the pastor preaches the gospel of Jesus Christ, who died for our sins and rose again to guarantee eternal life for those who trust Him.
When you find that church, don’t just sit in the pew. Get involved. Volunteer your time and talents to some ministry or outreach. Join a Bible class or Bible study that the church either provides or recommends. And make it a habit to read your Bible regularly and prayerfully. If you find a passage difficult to understand, ask one of your teachers or leaders or pastor to share their view on the content.
I know you’re shaken and hurt by this terrible disappointment. Let it become a learning experience, a source of new wisdom and growth. And remember, the Lord Jesus is indeed coming back again. Your hope has not been permanently crushed. Lift up your head!  Your redemption draws nearer every day!

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