It is now Sunday 22. May 2011. I survived judgment day: 21. May 2011. The world did not crash and burn in a mighty earthquake that that traversed the 24 time zones. The rapture (which by the way, that word does not appear in the Holy Scriptures) did not occur. Harold Camping and his cultist group of followers are still here. The earth’s population of nearly 7 billion people are still around. The Church is still here on earth.
So, later this morning I will do what I normally do. I will go to church, celebrate the liturgy, and preach the word of God. The Church still has a commission (even though Camping says differently) to preach the gospel throughout the world.
It is 22. May 2011. I survived judgement day on 21. May 2011. Had God the Father in His infinite and Divine wisdom seen fit to send Jesus back on 21. May, I still would have survived judgment day. The Apostle Paul tells us in his epistle: »if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved« (Romans 10,9). I confess that Jesus is Lord; I believe that He rose from the grave. I am saved. I am certain of this fact.
Mr. Harold Camping’s chief error and heresy is not that he foolishly tried to predict Jesus’ return. Yes, his methodology and hermeneutics regarding this are severly skewed and completely heretical. Nevertheless, the truth remains: Jesus will return one day. That last day will be a day of judgment. We do not know when it will be.
Mr. Camping has many more serious errors and heresies beside His failed prediction of judgment day on 21. May 2011. Here are a few of them: 1. The Church Age ended in 1988, and all the churches are apostate. The only saved Christians are those like Camping and his followers who have left the Church. 2. He denies that the wicked will be resurrected and suffer eternally in hell. This is the ancient heresy known as annihilationism, meaning that the wicked will be annihilated and cease to exist once God judges them as wicked on the last day. 3. Camping teaches and preaches a very heavy emphasis on the law and use of the law, but instead of giving the terror-stricken the pure gospel of Christ Jesus, Camping piles on them more law: you must pray, struggle, beg, and plead for God’s mercy which never amounts to certainty of salvation. There is little, no, or a thoroughly confused understanding of what the gospel actually is. 4. Camping believes and teaches that Jesus died and rose before time began so that when He did it in A.D. 33 it had the power to redeem mankind (Christ died and rose twice). Camping speaks of the cross as just a demonstration of what had already happened before the foundation of the world. 5. There is no certainty of salvation. This is the grand-daddy of all his heresies. There are at least fifteen other errors and heresies that Harold Camping believes and teaches.
The whole message of the Bible, of Christianity, and of the gospel, is that God wants us to be certain of our salvation. God does not want us to doubt or question our eternal destiny. The gospel is about certainty, the certainty that you and I can have regarding salvation. This certainty is not tied up in works or good deeds we do to convince ourselves we are in God’s good graces. This certainty is not tied up in accepting that Jesus is returning on 21. May 2011, or some other specific date that Camping or someone else may try to exhort upon Christendom. This certainty of salvation is grounded firmly and only on Jesus Christ: He is our certainty of salvation.
The Apostle Paul is speaking about the certainty of salvation in Romans 10,9. Here it is again: »if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved«. There are many other Bible verses that convey this. Here are a few more. »Behold, the Lamb of God [Jesus] who is taking away the sin of the world!« (John 1,29). »And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so hat whoever believes in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the Name of the only Son of God.« (John 3,14-18). God wants us to be certain of our salvation, and He has founded this certainty on an immoveable Cornerstone which is Jesus Christ.
Those who believe in and confess Jesus Christ as the crucified and risen Savior are saved. You can be certain of this. So whenever judgment day arrives, know this: if Christ has you and you have Christ, then there is nothing to fear for judgment day is the day when you will eternally live with God. If you die before Christ returns, again that is not something to fear because if you believe in, and confess, Christ, then you are saved.
This certainty of salvation looks only to Jesus Christ who voluntarily and sacrificially endured the suffering of the cross to pay for the sin of the world. When this gospel is read or heard and the Holy Spirit creates faith through it, then by faith a person may rightly say: Jesus died for the sins of the world. If He died for the whole world, then He also died for me. That is faith. That is the certainty of salvation. That is the gospel proclamation of the Church, and it is the gospel that I will preach tomorrow and every Sunday after that as long as I am able, have breath, or until the Lord returns.