Some refuse to accept that the Bible is God’s Word and allege that it is fiction. They even accuse Christians of composing stories contained in the Bible to paint a nice picture of Jesus.
However, if one studies Scripture then these allegations fall through. For instance, the genealogy of Jesus in Mathew 1:1-18 contains some names which no one composing the genealogy with such an aim would have deliberately included.
There is Tamar who concealed her true identity in order to sleep with her own father in law, Judah, and she succeeded (Genesis 38).
Then there is Rahab who was a prostitute before she was converted to Judaism (Joshua 2:1). Another questionable character in the pedigree is Bathsheba who committed adultery with King David and this sin even led to death of her own husband, Uriah (2 Samuel 11-12).
In the family tree, you also meet King Manasseh who was one of worst and evil kings of Judah (2 Kings 21). If the Bible is a fiction that aims at painting a very nice and beautiful picture of Jesus then these characters fail the whole plot.
But the Bible is not fiction. It is God’s Word hence the truth because God is truth. God allowed these characters to be in the line of Jesus’ great grandparents probably to show us as one theologian remarked “God can use a crooked stick to strike a straight blow.”
The genealogy can also encourage us who do not have a good family tree by reminding us that God can change everything through us who are in Christ because if we are in Christ, we are a new creation. The old has passed away… the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).
On May 21, 2011 some people in various parts of the world waited with bated breath for the coming of Christ to take them to heaven. They had believed the prediction of a man from California, named, Harold Camping. But to their dismay, May 21, 2011 came and went just like any other day. No doubt, there were regrets, tears, anger, confusion just to mention but a few.
History is full of stories of people who predicted the end that never was. Most of these people, if not all of them claimed to be Christians and they used Scripture to make their predictions. A latest episode is the one of May 21, 2011. Harold Camping fooled some people into believing that rapture will occur on May 21, 2011 and the complete end of the world will be on October 21, 2011. I don’t have to remind you that both prophecies proved to be a fallacy.
Predicting the Day of Judgment has very serious theological implications. While some might regard it as an element of Christianity, the truth is that prophesying the actual day that the world will end is anti-Christian. This fact is seen when one puts on their biblical and theological lenses and look at the whole issue critically.
The first implication is that if one predicts the end of the world he makes God to be a liar. God has said in his word, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only…Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know what day your Lord is coming…Therefore, you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matthew 24:36, 42, 44).
God in his word has clearly said that nobody except himself knows the Day of Judgment. Now, if somebody rises and claims that he knows the Day of Judgment he makes God to be a liar. He is in essence saying, “He lied to you that nobody except God knows the Day of Judgment, here I am I know it as well.”
Now if God can lie concerning the Day of Judgment, should we trust him in other areas? Should we trust his word when he says “Believe in the Lord, Jesus Christ and you will be saved”? (Acts 16:31).
If God can lie about the Day of Judgment can we take him at his word when he says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness”? (1 John 1:9).
This is the difficult situation in which all those who claim to know the Day of Judgment find themselves in. They imply that God is a liar and should not be fully trusted.
Again, here we need to ask: if God can change like this, can we really trust him? In Acts 4:12, God says that there is only one name by which we must be saved and that name is Jesus Christ. If God changes, how can we be sure that tomorrow he won’t change and give us another name by which we must be saved?
For sure If God could change then there could have been little hope in Christianity. However, the good news is that God can never change. Listen to what he says in Malachi 3:6: “I the LORD do not change.”
Thirdly, predicting the end takes the eyes of people from Christ and his cross which is the basis for salvation of mankind. Those who predict the “doomsday” draw all the attention to themselves. People no longer talk about Christ but the prophets. People will say, “Let me repent because so and so says that the world is ending” instead of saying “Christ loved and died for me on the cross, I need to repent of my sins and be saved.”
It should be Christ and the power of his cross that should lead people to salvation and not the wisdom of calculating years to arrive at a date that the world will end. Apostle Paul knew very well about the futility of wisdom compared to the power of the cross. That is why he challenged the Corinthians who loved knowledge and wisdom and said: “When I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:1, 2).
Lastly, predicting the end and claiming that it will lead to salvation of many souls in unbiblical. Salvation is by grace not by fear. It was “Amazing grace…that saved a wretch like me” and not the amazing fear of the end of the world.
Moreover, fear can never truly save anybody. It is God who saves and nothing else. No matter what tricks we can come up with, they can never truly save. They will only produce fake and false conversions. “For it is by grace you have been saved and this is the gift (or the work) of God” (Ephesians 2:8) (italics added).
These are some of very serious theological implications that come along with predicting the day and the hour that the Lord is coming. So, for me, instead of regarding the prophets who predict the “doomsday” as working for the good of Christianity, I see them as doing otherwise. It is not my intention to judge or question their Christianity. Only God can judge them. Nevertheless, one thing I know for sure is that predicting Judgment Day is anti-Christian hence I don’t doubt that it grieves Christ.
Postscript:Following his failed predictions, Harold Camping together with his Family Radio Station have repented of their sin. I thank God for this and I believe that Camping’s repentance is sincere and that Christ has forgiven him. Below is a letter of his confession and repentance which was posted on the website of Family Radio but I got it from the website of Christian Post.
THE BOARD OF FAMILY RADIO WISHES TO POST THE FOLLOWING LETTER FROM MR. CAMPING. IT WAS OUR WISH, OUT OF RESPECT FOR OUR LISTENERS, TO MAIL OUT THIS LETTER BEFORE POSTING IT TO THE WEB SITE. HOWEVER, BECAUSE IT WAS LEAKED TO THE INTERNET WITHOUT OUR AUTHORIZATION, WE HAVE MADE THE DECISION TO POST IT IMMEDIATELY TO AVOID CONFUSION. THIS LETTER WILL ALSO BE MAILED OUT TO OUR LISTENERS.
“God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” Romans 3:4
Dear Family Radio Family,
In this time of confusion and turmoil, God’s Word remains the only truth in which we can trust. God has shown us again the truth that He alone is true. In Romans 3:4 God declares: “Let God be true but every man a liar.” Events within the last year have proven that no man can be fully trusted. Even the most sincere and zealous of us can be mistaken.
The May 21 campaign was an astounding event if you think about its impact upon this world. There is no question that millions, if not billions of people heard for the first time the Bible’s warning that Jesus Christ will return. Huge portions of this world that had never read or seen a Bible heard the message the Christ Jesus is coming to rapture His people and destroy this natural world.
Yes, we humbly acknowledge we were wrong about the timing; yet though we were wrong God is still using the May 21 warning in a very mighty way. In the months following May 21 the Bible has, in some ways, come out from under the shadows and is now being discussed by all kinds of people who never before paid any attention to the Bible. We learn about this, for example, by the recent National Geographic articles concerning the King James Bible and the Apostles. Reading about and even discussing about the Bible can never be a bad thing, even if the Bible’s authenticity is questioned or ridiculed. The world’s attention has been called to the Bible.
We must also openly acknowledge that we have no new evidence pointing to another date for the end of the world. Though many dates are circulating, Family Radio has no interest in even considering another date. God has humbled us through the events of May 21, to continue to even more fervently search the Scriptures (the Bible), not to find dates, but to be more faithful in our understanding.
We have learned the very painful lesson that all of creation is in God’s hands and He will end time in His time, not ours! We humbly recognize that God may not tell His people the date when Christ will return, any more than He tells anyone the date they will die physically.
We realize that many people are hoping they will know the date of Christ’s return. In fact for a time Family Radio fell into that kind of thinking. But we now realize that those people who were calling our attention to the Bible’s statement that “of that day and hour knoweth no man” (Matthew 24:36 & Mark 13:32), were right in their understanding of those verses and Family Radio was wrong. Whether God will ever give us any indication of the date of His return is hidden in God’s divine plan.
We were even so bold as to insist that the Bible guaranteed that Christ would return on May 21 and that the true believers would be raptured. Yet this incorrect and sinful statement allowed God to get the attention of a great many people who otherwise would not have paid attention. Even as God used sinful Balaam to accomplish His purposes, so He used our sin to accomplish His purpose of making the whole world acquainted with the Bible. However, even so, that does not excuse us. We tremble before God as we humbly ask Him for forgiveness for making that sinful statement. We are so thankful that God is so loving that He will forgive even this sin.
So we must be satisfied to humbly wait upon God, and trust He will guide His people to safety. At Family Radio, we continue to look to God for guidance. If it is His good pleasure for us to continue on with our original mission, the proclamation of the Gospel, God’s Word, then we must continue to look to Him.
We consider you to be a real part of this ministry and the tremendous opportunities which God, by His unfathomable mercy and grace, continues to give to us. And, your steadfast involvement and support is so appreciated!
May God bless you,
Harold Camping and the staff of Family Radio.
I believe that this article should challenge all of us who have been privileged by God and has been entrusted with the ministry of teaching His Word. What are teaching?
Apostle Paul warns us in Galatians 1:8: “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.”
“There is a school of theology rising up in this day, which appears to me most eminently calculated to promote infidelity, to help the devil, and to ruin souls! It comes to us like Joab to Amasa – with the highest professions of love and liberality. (2 Samuel 20:9-10)
“‘God is all mercy and love!’ according to this theology. His holiness and justice are completely left out of sight! Hell is never spoken of in this theology – its talk is all of Heaven! Damnation is never mentioned – it is treated as an impossible thing. All men and women are to be saved!
“‘Everybody is right! Nobody is wrong! Nobody is to blame for any action he may commit! It is the result of his circumstances! He is not accountable for his views, any more than for the color of his skin! He must be what he is! God…
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Last week, I posted on this blog an article entitled, “It’s by Grace Throughout” in which we discussed that we do not only need God’s grace for us to be saved (justified) but also for us to be transformed and become more like Christ (sanctification).
However, although it is true that sanctification also is by grace, there is a need to highlight that we need to cooperate with God for him to make us more and more like Christ. In other words, in justification God, single handedly, declares us righteous basing on the righteousness of Christ while in sanctification, God through the Holy Spirit works hand in hand with us so that we become like Christ.
For instance, one of the things we need to do to be more like Christ is to study God’s Word frequently and live it. So, God will give us the desire to study the Bible but it will take us to really study the Word. God will never open the Bible and force us to read it. We have to play our role of reading.
Now, one might ask that if we are to cooperate with God in sanctification, where is grace then? Philippians 2:12 has the answer: “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”
For us to obey God, it is God, himself, who enables to do so. God knows that on our own, we can’t obey him hence he works in us that we should obey him. This is grace, is it not?
Recently, my Facebook friend posted the following on his wall and asked me to comment: (I have done a bit of editing to the post for clarity’s sake):
Brethren, there is this issue I would like you to help me look at carefully. I had a discourse with a fellow believer; we were just sharing about how GOD has been working in our lives. So we came to why salvation in the Bible is stated in some places as something that happens when one first believes in CHRIST, some places as a continuing process and other places as a future thing.
I explained it in terms of justification, sanctification and glorification. But the friend explained it in terms of man being spirit, soul & body. The spirit gets saved at the time when a person believes in CHRIST then the soul is being saved and the body will be saved at last.
But what really raised hair at the back of my neck is when the person said that GOD in Genesis2:7 breathed into man the breath of life, so it means GOD took a part of HIMSELF and put in man making man 100% GOD, 1OO% MAN. This is why JESUS had to come to give life to the spirit and also to show how we were meant to be (100% GOD, 100% MAN). This scared me. Please help!
Following my friend’s post came this comment from another person (whom I believe was the one my Facebook friend was referring to in his post. I have also edited it for sake of clarity):
1 John 4:17 and not from Genesis. It’s from the resurrection. God has given us His very life. Not just a measure of it. Paul says “It’s no longer me who lives but Christ Himself lives in me (2 Corinthians 3:20). It’s indeed 100% God in man. He who is joined with Christ has become one spirit with him (1Cor.6:17). Thus what Christ is, I am. It’s a complete spiritual transaction but the mind needs a complete makeover (Romans 12).
For us to find the truth about this discussion we need to turn to Scripture and begin from Genesis on wards to hear what God has to say about this whole issue. But before we dwell much on the issue of man being “100% God and 100% man” let me say that I am convinced by the testimony of Scripture that man is made up of body and soul and not body, soul, and spirit. In Scripture, soul and spirit are used interchangeably. But anyway, this is a different matter for a different day.
So, I was saying that for us to know whether you and I can be 100% man and 100% God, we need to begin in Genesis. When God created the first man, how did he create him? The Bible tells us is that man was created male and female and in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26, 27).
Now, what does ‘likeness and image’ mean? Does this mean that man was created exactly like God? Absolutely not! Otherwise, man could not have sinned since God cannot sin. But there are some aspects of God that are also found in man. It is these aspects that qualify us to be ‘the likeness and image of God.”
There are so many aspects of our likeness to God but in this article I will just cite some. We are moral beings and we have a sense of right and wrong unlike animals. Our likeness to God is shown when we behave in a holy way and our unlikeness to God is seen when we sin. Man is also a spiritual being. It is because of this that man is able to relate with God unlike animals. I don’t know if any other animal can spend some minutes or hours praying to God. Man is also a relational being just as God is relational. Man’s relational aspect is seen in marriage and family, in church and fellowship with fellow believers. Although animals can also have some sense of relationship with each other in their community, human relationships are unique and greater than those of animals. These are just some of aspects in which man is in the likeness and image of God.
Another important question that should be addressed here is: what happened to the “the likeness and image of God” after man sinned in Genesis 3. Basing on Scripture, the image of God in man was distorted but not completely lost when man sinned. In other words, even though man sinned he still bore some of “the likeness and image of God” in him. This can be seen in the words of God to Noah after man had already sinned. God in Genesis 9:6 reiterates that even after the fall, man is still created in His image.
However, we know that this image is not as perfectly as it was in the beginning. For instance, at first man was sinless just as God is sinless but now you and I, even though we are believers, are no longer sinless. Our moral purity has been lost. Our minds think evil and plan evil. Our speech does not always glorify God. Falsehood and malice comes out of our mouths. This is not the way God created the first man.
For now, let’s highlight the important truths we have seen regarding the creation of man. First, man was created in the image and likeness of God. This does not mean that the first man was 100% God but rather he was like God in so many ways. Secondly, after the fall (sin) God’s likeness and image in man was distorted but not completely lost.
Now, we should move on to see what happened after Christ came to save man. When Christ came, he began the work of restoring the image and likeness of God in man to be the way God created him at first. As a matter of fact, better than Adam because when we will be glorified (go to be with Jesus in heaven ) we will be unlike the first man, Adam , in the sense that Adam in Eden was capable of sinning while when we go to heaven, we will be incapable of sinning. Remember, there is no sin or evil in heaven (Revelation 21:27). Any way, this also can be another topic for another day.
I digressed a bit. Let‘s get back to where we were. I was saying that after Christ lived a perfect and sinless life and died on behalf of those who believe in him and later rose from the dead, he brought salvation to these believers. So, when we believe in Christ, God through the Holy Spirit begins the work of progressively restoring the His distorted image in us (Colossians 3:10). Wayne Grudem puts it better and allow me to borrow his words:
“Throughout this life, as we grow in Christian maturity, we grow in greater likeness to God. More particularly, we grow in likeness to Christ in our lives and in our character. In fact, the goal for which God has redeemed us is that we might be “conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29) and thus be exactly like Christ in our moral character” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Intervarsity Press © 1994, p. 445).
It is important here, in light of our discussion, to emphasize that no where Scripture tells us that when we believe in Christ, God deposits his deity in us. We do not become 100% God. Furthermore, let’s also know that according to Scripture when we believe in Christ, we have two natures in us. The sinful nature (also referred to as ‘the flesh’ in other versions of the Bible) and the spiritual nature (Galatians 5:16-18; Romans 7:18-25). The two natures are always at war and when we let the sinful nature rule, we sin and when the spiritual nature rules we live a life that pleases and glorifies God. A true believer will confess of this struggle which is ongoing until Christ comes or when we go to be with the Lord but by praying against temptation and constantly seeking the help of the Holy Spirit in our lives we progressively put to death the sinful nature (Roman 8:13; Colossians 3:5).
Now, consider this: is it right, I mean biblical, to say that man is 100% God and 100% man yet he possesses a sinful nature in him? Can the sinful nature and the deity dwell in one body? For Christ, it was different. Yes, Christ was 100% man and 100% God because he was sinless and there was no sinful nature in him. When you consider this biblical truth, the whole argument that the friend of my Facebook friend made crumbles. You and I do not reach a certain stage where we become 100% God and 100% man. This can’t be and we will never be.
Let me finish the discussion with what will happen when we go to heaven. When we will go to heaven, we will be glorified. The complete ‘likeness and image’ of God will finally be restored in us. We will be in every way like God but not God himself (1 Corinthians 15:49). We will never sin just as God is sinless. We will never hunger just as God never hungers. We will never fall sick just as God never falls sick. We will never grow old just like God never grows old. In short, Scripture says: We shall be like him (not him) (1 John 3:2). Therefore, man cannot be 100% God and he will never ever be. Not even after he has been saved. This is the teaching of Scripture.
Postscript: 1 John 4:7 says: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God” (ESV). Does this verse teach that we are God? Absolutely not! “Born of God” in the verse does not refer to “becoming 100% God” rather it means that we have become God’s children (John 1:12, 13).
Is it only I or you have also noticed it? There is a temptation to believe that we only need God’s grace for us to be saved (justified) but after that we are tempted to think that we need to rely on our personal efforts to grow spiritually (sanctification). Others even go an extreme of believing that after Christ has saved us, he then leaves us on our own to make it to heaven.
This is not only a fallacy but also one of the great deceptions of the evil one. We all need God’s grace to become God’s children. We all also need God’s grace to remain God’s Children. There is no room for personal effort.
Apostle Paul rebuked the Galatians for falling into similar temptation in Galatians 3:2, 3: “Did you receive the Spirit by works (personal effort)? Or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit (grace) are you now being perfected by the flesh (personal effort)? (Words in parentheses added).
Scripture here reminds us that salvation is by grace throughout. John Newton realized this truth very well when he composed that famous hymn, ‘Amazing Grace’
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come
T’was grace that brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home.
So, by grace Christ has saved us and by the same grace he will welcome us in heaven. Oh, what a beautiful and amazing grace.