Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. ~2 Timothy 2:15

About Me

I am a young man who is following God's call into pastoral ministry. I have been so blessed with the privileges which the Lord has granted me. I am blessed to serve the Mt. Joy congregation in Mt. Pleasant, PA. I am constantly humbled and amazed at what the Lord is doing in my life.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

May 21, 2011 Has Come, But Jesus Has Not

For months now we have been bombarded by Harold Camping's claim that judgment day was coming on May 21, 2011. He reminded us of this through his radio program, billboards across the country as well as in other nations, and full page ads in Reader's Digest and the Washington Post. Today shows that his calculations were wrong and that Jesus is still coming soon.

Harold Camping the False Prophet
Today is further proof that Camping is a false prophet. We are told in Deuteronomy how to recognize a false prophet: And if you say in your heart, "How may we know the word that the LORD has not spoken?"-when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him (18:21-22). Camping's prediction of Christ's return today around 6:00 PM and the absence of Christ's coming for His bride shows that his word did not come to pass or come true. In fact, this isn't the first time that Camping's claims have proven false. He also predicted Christ's return in 1994. However, when that was shown to be mistaken, he simply stated that he had miscalculated. He has made such absolute statements concerning his accuracy this time around that it will be interesting to see what his response will be in the hours or days ahead.

The Dangers of Date Setting
The entire fiasco with Camping is a reminder to us of the dangers of attempting to set the date as to Christ's return. Granted, Camping is not the only one to do this and more likely will not be the last. In essence, to claim to know the date of Christ's return is to pronounce oneself to be God since Jesus stated that only God the Father knows the date of His return. But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only (Matthew 24:36). By claiming to know that certain day and hour, one declares himself God the Father because He is the only One who has that knowledge. The best that any of us can say is that Jesus is coming soon and we should be ready for His return at any time. That time is in God's hands and He will come when God has seen fit. Meanwhile, we have work to do in making disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28:19) through spreading the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Aftermath
Now that all the hype concerning the "judgment day" that we were supposed to have experienced yesterday has passed, we need to be praying. We should pray for Mr. Camping; that God may use this to open his eyes to how presumptuous he has been and perhaps move him to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. That he would see the Bible as not merely a set of numbers to predict the end of the world but instead as the revelation of God Himself and His plan of redemption through Jesus Christ. We also need to pray for his followers who are very disillusioned right now; wondering if they have been "left behind" or why Jesus has delayed. Some of them left their jobs and gave up their stuff, believing in Camping's lie. This may harden them towards the truth because they confused a false teaching for what was real. We should as well continue to say with the Apostle John, Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20). Al Mohler put it well in a recent tweet: "We will not be surprised that Christ has not returned according to any human's timetable. But we should not be relieved. Lord come quickly."

In Christ,
Soli Deo Gloria!!!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Death of Osama bin Laden

The news and the internet have been a buzz the past few days after the announcement from the president that Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had been killed by U.S. SEALs in Pakistan. People right away took to their Facebook pages to update their status with a victorious salute to the armed forces and the president or shared a quote that condemned rejoicing in an enemy falling or any kind of violence. Several around the Washington D.C. and New York City areas went out into the streets, waving flags and chanting "USA, USA, USA!" However, several feel conflicted as to what the appropriate response should be for the death of someone who was responsible for the death of thousands. Should we rejoice that this terrorist was killed or instead be mourning and grieving? This certainly is a difficult question to wrestle with and one that does not have a simple answer. The following are some things that I have been thinking about as I have been pondering what an appropriate (in other words, "biblical") response to this event should be.

Osama's Death Was Carried Out By the Appropriate Means
Paul tells us in Romans that God has given the government authority to punish evildoers. He describes the government as an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer (Romans 13:4). This is actually a means of God's grace because if man's wickedness had nothing to physically restrain it, then human society itself would collapse as only chaos could ensue. Part of this wrath that the government can carry out would include the death penalty as he does not bare the sword in vain. In fact, the Greek word here for sword, machaira, is often connected to killing someone or someone being killed, in some cases judicially (Luke 21:24; Acts 12:2; 16:27; Romans 8:35; Hebrews 11:34,37; Revelation 13:10). Osama bin Laden did indeed deserve the death penalty as he shed many of a man's blood. Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man his blood shall be shed, for in the image of God He made man (Genesis 9:6; personal translation). Thus, bin Laden deserved death and the appropriate authority carried the death penalty out. However, Dr. Albert Mohler of Southern Baptist Seminary makes a good point that we were robbed of the satisfaction of seeing full human justice occurring through an arrest and a trial.

Now it is true that Paul instructs in just a previous chapter for us to If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:18-21). And Jesus preached in the "sermon on the mount" that You have heard that it was said, "You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy." But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:43-45). However, it is important to notice that Paul here is referring to individual Christians and that Jesus is addressing individual disciples and not the institution of the government. We must always be careful not to apply a passage of Scripture to something to which it does not apply. It is the God appointed governing ruler or official that bears the sword, not an individual acting outside of the government. Had Osama been killed by an individual acting for the purpose of revenge, it would not have been appropriate. In this case, we have those who were acting as part of the government bringing about the death that Osama deserved for his murder of so many.

I Grieve That Bin Laden Has Began An Eternity Apart From God's Grace
While I recognize that Osama bin Laden did deserve death and that it was carried out by the appropriate means, I find myself grieving over his death. Here was a man who lived his entire life without ever turning to the Lord through repentance and faith. The judgment that he faced on earth is nothing compared to the judgment that he now experiences. it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27). He now has started an eternal sentence of everlasting conscious torture in Hell apart from the grace of God. This is a scary picture. Even the most ardent atheist (including bin Laden when he was alive on the earth) experiences the grace of God. For He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:45). God blesses those on the earth even who do not acknowledge and worship Him as He deserves with good things. In Hell, however, there are no such blessings. For the unrepentant who do not turn from their sins, this life really is their "best life now." With Osama's death, I grieve that he gained the world but lost his soul.

I Rejoice in God's Justice Being Done
At the same time that I grieve, I also rejoice. I don't rejoice in Osama's death itself but the very fact that God's justice is being carried out. In both bin Laden's execution and the beginning of his experiencing God's full wrath in Hell, God is glorifying Himself by displaying His justice. God is glorified in both displaying His mercy and His justice (Romans 9:21-24). He is glorified in displaying His mercy to those whom He intends to save (the vessels of mercy in v. 23) and in displaying His justice to those whom do not turn from their way to Him (the vessels of wrath in v. 22). If we truly are concerned with glorifying God, we must glorify Him not only for His grace and mercy but also His justice and wrath.

So I am left both grieving Osama's death, knowing where he is now and will be for all eternity and also rejoicing in God displaying His justice. Now you won't find me dancing in the streets for this, but instead coming to God in prayer.

In Christ,
Soli Deo Gloria!