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“Will Only a Few Be Saved?” (Part 3)

This three-part discussion of Luke 13 in which a person asks Jesus, “Lord, are only a few people going to be

Is GOD a tightwad?

saved?” provides a foundation for us to discuss neo-universalism and its charge that Evangelicalism is stingy and holds that God is not generous in salvation.

Rob Bell (and to some extent Brian McLaren) advocate endless opportunities in the after-death state for God to “melt every heart” and win everyone over to salvation.

The Bible indicates that God owes no one salvation.  His greatness (contra Bell) does not depend on His saving many, a few, or none. Let’s look at our Luke 13 one more time:

22 Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’

“But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’

26 “Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’

27 “But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’

28 “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”

To review:  Jesus does not directly answer this question about “only a few” being saved.  Instead, he launches into an analogy involving a narrow door, a house, and a homeowner.  Jesus begins the story by encouraging His listeners to “make every effort” (the Greek word implies agony) to enter through the narrow door.

It appears that many will try to crash the house (“many will try to enter and will not be able to”) and will be turned away.  The homeowner will at some point get up and close the door, prohibiting any more from entering his house.

But those on the outside do not simply give up and walk away.  They began providing arguments why the door should be re-opened and they be allowed entrance.  They claim to have eaten and drunk with the Lord and to have heard Him teach in their streets.

The homeowner responds to their arguments by saying, “I don’t know you or where you are from.”  The clear implication is that entrance to the house is based on a relationship with the homeowner.  And they had none.

We are then told that He brings the conversation to a screeching halt by saying, “Away from me, all you evildoers!”  This hardly seems consistent with Hebraic hospitality.  But the issue isn’t hospitality, but salvation (remember the original question).

Jesus then describes the outside of that house as a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth.  We pick up the text at this point.

28 “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”

Let’s summarize and add a few questions for reflection.

Jesus uses the analogy of a house –

1.  there is a narrow door;

2.  effort is required to enter through the narrow door;

3.  there will be many (competition?) who will try to enter & won’t be able to (why not?);

4.  the house’s owner will get up and close the door (which, of course, is his prerogative — he’s the owner!);

5.  YOU will stand outside knocking & pleading, “Sir, open the door for us.” (v. 25)

6.  His response?  “I don’t know you or where you come from.” (v. 25) (= “you are a stranger to me — why should I trust you?”);

7.  YOU seek to identify yourselves:  “We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.” (v. 26).

8.  His reply:  “I don’t know you or where you come from.  Away from me, all you evildoers!” (v. 27)

9.  CONCLUSION:  “There will be weeping there . . .”

What do we know from Scripture THAT WE LIKE?

1.  He is not willing that any should perish, but that all come to repentance!

2.  Jesus did not come primarily to condemn, but to save.  He came on a RESCUE mission!  Judgment is God’s “strange work.”

3.  The Lord’s arm is not short that it cannot save.  There is no INABILITY in the Lord that prevents most or ALL being saved!

4.  He wants His house FILLED!

5.  He does not delight in the death of the wicked!

6.  He has declared that people from every tribe, people, tongue and nation will be at the throne worshipping!

What do we know WE MAY NOT LIKE from Scripture?

1.  God is thrice-holy and is allergic to sin!

2.  He WILL judge!

3.  Hell is a real place!

4.  Not all will believe!

5.  Satan has blinded the minds of unbelievers.

6.  Death ENDS all opportunities to be saved.

7.  We have an OBLIGATION to get the gospel OUT!

Discussion Questions:  Which of the above considerations need more attention by Evangelicals in light of the challenge of neo-universalism?  How might solid exegetical preaching help in providing answers to some of these questions?

 

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THE DAY AFTER! HOW TO PRAY FOR HAROLD CAMPING

Harold Camping, 88-year-old radio preacher and owner of 55 Family Radio stations, was wrong about the Second Coming yesterday. Unbelievers in the gospel are already laughing at Christianity. Christians vacillate from deriding Mr. Camping for thinking he knew something Jesus said “no one knows” (Mt. 24) to anger to . . . praying for him?

Yes. We should pray for him and for Family Radio’s ministries around the world that are biblical and faithful.
But before we get too serious, please take a look at this VIDEO which shows Harold Camping’s reaction to his failed prophecy.

How might we best pray for Harold Camping?

1.  We should pray that he would publicly repent and refuse to make excuses, claim he had crunched the numbers wrong, or miscalculated.  With every news outlet he should quote Matthew 24:36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”  He should spend his final days and years sharing the gospel with others and permanently resign from the prophecy business.

2.  We should pray for all who work for Family Radio and their families.  These will be difficult days for them to identify themselves as “employees” of Camping.  Rather than defend their boss, they should quickly acknowledge that he was wrong and re-focus their energies on recovering Family Radio’s ministries from this eschatological scandal.

3.  We should pray for all our unsaved friends, relatives, neighbors, and co-workers who will use this occasion to mock at or at least ignore the genuine claims of Jesus Christ on their lives.  How we believers behave can cause the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme His name.  Might I suggest that for the next few days we can engage our friends in a conversation that begins something like this:  “Aren’t you glad that Harold Camping was wrong about the end of the world?  What are your thoughts about the end of the world when it does take place?”

4.  Lastly, may I suggest that we pray for ourselves?  Most of us find this life way too comfortable to even consider the next life.  We cover over our needs with the trinkets of this world, forgetting that He has “put eternity in our hearts” (Ecc. 3:11).  C.S. Lewis said, “If I find in myself a desire which nothing in this world satisfies, the most logical explanation is I was made for another world.”  This world is important, but it is fallen and will one day be destroyed.  We should live our lives with those values in mind.

Discussion questions:  If you found yourself sitting next to Mr. Camping on a three-hour flight, what would you say to him?  Would you offer to pray for him?  How will you use his failed prophecy as an opening to share the gospel with someone today?

 
 

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NO DAYS LEFT! Why Harold Camping Should Return Everybody’s Money and Retire!

According to Harold Camping, octogenarian Family Radio station owner and self-taught Bible scholar, the 2nd Coming of the Lord Jesus should have happened by now. If you’re reading this, you’re either not one of the elect, or somehow Jesus overlooked you in the rapture, OR Harold Camping was wrong again!

I believe he was wrong again. And he should do at least three things before the day is out:

1.  He should apologize to the Christian family for embarrassing the name of Christ with his arrogant, gnostic, ridiculous calculation that, even though Jesus said we couldn’t know the exact date of His Second Coming, he was sure he knew.  Perhaps he needs to read up on failed predictions by our Seventh-Day Adventist friends, Edgar Whisenant in his Eighty-Eight Reasons Why Jesus Will Return in 1988, and one particularly troubling example from South Korea.  In 1992, Lee Jang Rim, the head of one of some 200 Protestant churches in that country, announced that the rapture would take place on October 28, 1992.  Based on a vision of a sixteen-year-old boy, twenty thousand Korean fundamentalists in South Korea, Los Angeles, and New York City took the prediction seriously.  Hundreds quit their jobs, many left their families, some women unfortunately even had abortions (presumably to make their own raptures easier).  Rim’s church bought costly ads in the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times.  They urged readers to get ready for the rapture and to refuse to have 666 imprinted in bar code on their foreheads or right hands.

On October 28, one researcher says, “Riot police, plainclothes officers, and reporters crowded outside Korean churches, flanked by fire engines, ambulances, and searchlights. Believers took the failure of the prophecy calmly, and there were no reported riots.  Only sadness. In December 1992 Rim was arrested and sentenced to two years in prison for having bilked $4.4 million from his flock. He had invested the money in bonds that didn’t mature until the following year!”

RECENT INTERVIEW ON CAMPING

2.  Camping needs to immediately retire from the ministry and put himself under the spiritual leadership of a local church and their leadership team.  This will be extremely difficult for him to do, especially in light of his cultic understanding that God has abandoned all local churches and that all Christians should disassociate themselves from local congregations.  But he should repent of his bizarre, unbiblical perspective on the local and universal Body of Christ (which He is presently building).  He should step down from radio ministry, turn the microphone and the good work that Family Radio stations do over to others, and humble himself before the family of God worldwide.

3.  He needs to do everything in his power to return every cent which believers have contributed to his ministry based on his wayward predictions of Christ’s Second Coming.  Here is his response to a caller who suggested he do exactly that on May 22nd, 2011:  RETURN MONEY?

He should spend some of his money to place billboards across the USA to undo some of the damage he has caused.  That billboard might look something like this:

Dr. James White HERE  accuses Camping of sliding further and further away from orthodoxy (apparently Camping advocates annihilationism as well as a kind of modalism, denying the deity of Jesus).

Discussion Questions:  How should we pray for Mr. Camping?  Is there any way that the wider Body of Christ can speak the truth in love to him and seek to bring him spiritual health before he leaves this vale of tears by way of death (or Christ’s Second Coming!)?

 

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ONE DAY TO GO! HAROLD CAMPING’S PREDICTION THAT THIS SATURDAY, MAY 21, WILL BE THE SECOND COMING!

24 hours.  The long-running TV drama “24″ mesmerized many followers as Jack got into one pickle after another.

If Harold Camping, owner of 55 Family Radio stations, is correct, THIS COMING SATURDAY will be the pickle to end all pickles!  Based on his mathematical calculations, Camping believes he has figured out when Noah’s flood took place, has added 7000 years (“a day with the Lord is as a thousand years”), and has come up with MAY 21, 2011, as the date for the 2nd Coming of the Lord Jesus.

I have mixed feelings about Camping’s prediction.

1.  He’s been wrong before.  His book 1994? came with a question — and deserved it, because his math didn’t work out too well back then.  On Sept. 6, 1994, dozens of Camping’s believers gathered inside Alameda’s Veterans Memorial Building to await the return of Christ, an event Camping had promised for two years. Followers dressed children in their Sunday best and held Bibles open-faced toward heaven.

2.  Jesus said clearly that no one knows the day or hour of His return (see Matthew 24).

3.  If Camping is WRONG, it will be a bit hard to identify oneself with Christianity come May 22nd, especially for Camping’s followers.

4.  If Camping is RIGHT, Jesus Christ will come to the earth to fetch His bride, the Church, and those who are not taken to be with Him in heaven are in a lot of trouble.

5.  Although I long for the Lord Jesus to return, and believers ought to pray “even so, come, Lord Jesus!”, I would really love to see my 2nd grandson born on or around August 28th.  I’d love to keep teaching theology at Columbia International University.  I’d love to keep writing books that make theology and doctrine understandable (as I often tell my students,”Theology is not

"Look out, Djokovic! Here I come!"

boring.  THEOLOGIANS are boring!”).  I’d love to continue to improve my backhand crosscourt shot.  Here is a picture of me in action. (I know.  I know.  I look a lot like Nadal).

One of CIU’s two radio stations, WRCM in Charlotte, just had me on this morning for a few minutes to talk about Camping’s prediction.  You may listen here to those two-and-a-half minutes:  WRCM INTERVIEW

Discussion Questions:  What would you miss out on if Jesus came back?  The items that come to your mind — does that mean those things are too important for you or me?  What in the world makes us think that heaven will be less than the joys of earth?

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2011 in salvation, Theological Essay

 

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TWO DAYS TO GO! HAROLD CAMPING’S PREDICTION OF THE 2ND COMING OF JESUS ON MAY 21, 2011

Harold Camping, eighty-year-old California radio preacher and owner of 55 Family Radio stations across the USA, has predicted that THIS COMING SATURDAY, MAY 21, will be the SECOND COMING OF JESUS.  He believes that he has figured out that date — which upsets a lot of the Mayan predictors of 2012! — from calculating the flood of Noah and then arguing that a thousand years is but a day in God’s sight, so when you add 7000 years to Noah’s flood, you come out with Saturday, May 21st, at 6 pm.  [By the way, I loved the special effects of the movie "2012," but . . . can we talk?  The acting was so bad in that movie -- have you ever wanted everybody in the movie TO DIE?!  I confess, that was how I felt.]

One of my friends here was sharing the gospel at Five Points, an area in downtown Columbia, South Carolina, a few weeks ago.  Camping followers were handing out their judgment-is-coming tracts.  They refused to get into conversations with my friend about how one can be saved.  They simply said, “Read the pamphlet!”

Should we warn people about God’s judgment?  Of course!  Should we do anything we can to explain the gospel to those who do not yet know Christ?  Absolutely.  Should we pull out our slide rulers or calculators or crystal balls and dogmatically predict exactly when God’s judgment is coming?  No.

The Lord Jesus Himself said in Matthew 24: 36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”  During His incarnation period on earth, Jesus said EVEN HE did not know the day or hour of His Second Coming.  Having ascended to the Father’s right hand, Jesus, of course, knows now when He will return.

Another blogger put it this way:

Harold Camping’s guarantee that Jesus will come back on May 21, 2011 only shows his ignorance of the scripture. He wrongly assumes that Christ’s coming will be 7,000 years after Noah’s flood, something the Bible doesn’t say at at all. So he has no basis for his prediction even if his dating of the flood and its seven thousand year mark are correct. Jesus made it clear in Matthew 24:36 “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” Mr. Camping’s setting a definite day and hour shows how he rejects Jesus’ clear words and replaces them with his own ideas. Don’t be deceived into believing Jesus won’t come back just because it doesn’t happen on Mr. Camping’s timetable. Whether we go to Jesus after death or he comes for us, he is the judge of everyone whom none can escape (Acts 10:42). He is the Holy one and the Just (Acts 3:14) and those who will not seek him for mercy and bow to his righteous reign now will be in terror when he comes back “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). “This world thinks it’s finished with Jesus Christ when they haven’t even started with him yet.” -Leonard Ravenhill

Discussion Questions:  When May 22nd comes, will you boldly identify yourself as a follower of Jesus Christ — and speak of God’s judgment and mercy?  Let’s not lose this opportunity to share the truth of the gospel with our friends, relatives, and neighbors.

 

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THREE DAYS TO GO — HAROLD CAMPING’S PREDICTION OF THE END OF THE WORLD ON MAY 21ST, 2011

A caller into Camping’s radio program asked him if he would return all the money people have sent to his ministry on MAY 22ND.  His response, found HERE, was that millions would die every day after May 21st.

It is so terribly sad that this man who has preached for many years would feel compelled to make another silly prediction of the Second Coming.  He was wrong in his book 1994? 

Jesus made it quite clear in Matthew 24:36 – “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”  Predictions of when (not IF) Jesus will return have been embarrassing Christians for centuries.

What troubles me most is that my unsaved friends who have seen the billboards around our town which declare “THE BIBLE GUARANTEES IT!” about May 21st will be asking me on MAY 22ND “What happened?!”  I will share with them, as best I can, the gospel of Jesus Christ and my sadness that one of His servants was self-deceived in thinking HE knew something Jesus said no one knows.

Discussion Questions:  If you are a believer in Jesus, what are your plans on May 22nd?  Will you proactively engage your friends in a discussion of God’s judgment — and His provision of forgiveness in Jesus Christ?  Please don’t spend too much time defending or discussing Harold Camping.

 

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MAY 21, 2011 COUNTDOWN ALA HAROLD CAMPING

Perhaps you’ve seen a billboard like this around your town.  Harold Camping, Bible teacher and owner of 55 Family Radio stations, believes that he has mathematically figured out when the end of the world is going to take place.

Camping had made an earlier effort at predicting the Second Coming in his book 1994?  Pastor Stephen C. Meyers reviewed 1994? and says:

In his book 1994? Harold Camping states the end of the world may occur this year, somewhere between September 15-17 (p. 531). He does not know the exact day because Scripture says “no man knows the day nor the hour” (Matt. 24:36). But according to Camping we can certainly know the month and the year that Christ will return.

 The main glue that holds Camping’s book together is numerology: that part of ancient mysticism that endeavors to find hidden truths locked in literal termi­nology through numbers. Mystical num bers are the keys that allegedly unlock the hidden truths concealed in literal language. The basic theory this system operates on is that God created a perfect world and a perfect word (the Bible) which exhibit precise numerical and symmetrical design.

 Camping’s interpretation of John 21:1-14 displays his use of numerology. Jesus tells the disciples who were about 200 cubits out in the Sea of Galilee to throw their net on the right side of the boat. The result was a catch of 153 fish. According to Camping the Scriptures are teaching that the 200 cubits repre sent about 2,000 years between the first and second comings of Christ (p. 503). Since Camping states that the most likely date for the birth of Christ is October 4, 7 B.C. when the Jubilee Trumpet allegedly sounded (p. 418), one needs only to add 2,000 years minus one year for the year 0 and out pops 1994. Concerning the 153 fish, Camping points out that the number 153 equals 3 times 3 times 17: “The number three signifies the purpose of God whereas the number seventeen sig­nifies heaven. Thus we can learn that [the] purpose of God is to bring all believers that are caught’ by the Gospel into heaven” (p. 504). Would it not be hermeneutically better to go to Matthew 24 where Jesus clearly teaches about the end of the age instead of trying to mystically find hidden secrets behind clear narrative prose?

Camping was wrong in 1994 and is most likely wrong about May 21, 2011.  I sure hope so.  My daughter celebrates her one-year wedding anniversary on May 22nd, and we’re looking forward to our second grandchild to be born in August.  We’ll blog more on this topic in the coming days — including 88 Reasons Why Jesus Will Return in 1988!

Discussion Questions:  Why is date-setting such a seriously misguided venture?  How should the worldwide Body of Christ respond to people like Camping? 

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2011 in endtimes, Theological Essay

 

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