May 22, 2011
Dear Harold Camping Exiles,
I am so sorry that you had to go through this.
Perhaps for years you have been listening to Mr. Camping on Family Radio and have been convinced by his teachings to leave (or not attend) a local congregation, and that you would be raptured, well, yesterday. My intention with this letter is not to gloat but to emphasize, exhort, and encourage. I can only imagine the anticipation you must have felt during the days, months, or years leading up to yesterday. There is no higher anticipation that I can think of than to finally and permanently be rescued from this dying, sinful world and be ushered into the presence of Almighty God. I also cannot even imagine the depths of despair you may have reached when that expectation was not met. The immeasurable joy of the expectation of salvation can only be equaled by the immeasurable sadness when it doesn’t happen. I am grieving with you, not rejoicing over Mr. Camping’s failed prophecy, for today is a sad day for many.
I am sure Mr. Camping is about to come out with all sorts of reasons as to why his prediction was incorrect. Perhaps he is saying (or will say) that this was another miscalculation on his part, as he did when his 1994 prediction failed, too. Perhaps he will say that God has postponed judgment a la Nineveh (Jonah 3:10) and he knows this because of some new insight/enlightenment. I don’t know. My hope and prayer is that this failed prophecy will awaken you to some truths about God and his methods.
But please do not despair.
You see, Jesus Christ is going to come back for his people. One day, we will be raptured. Mr. Camping’s failure is not a reflection on God. God did not fail for his Word cannot fail (Rom 9:6). Mr. Camping failed (Deut 18:21-22). Acts 17:30-31 tells us that God “has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” That Day of Judgment is immovable; it is fixed. Mr. Camping was wrong and, as long as he continues to espouse and tweak his complicated date-projecting system, he always will be wrong. Let God be true and every man a liar (Rom 3:4). God will redeem his people at exactly the right time — his time. It simply is not necessary to know when that time is. It is not a central part of Scripture, let alone Jesus’ teachings. The Bible is about who God is, who man is, how he sinned against God, and what God has done to reconcile us to him.
In truth, I pray you are thankful that Mr. Camping’s prediction did not happen. Why? Because God is bigger and better and holier than can be figured out by an elaborate system of numerology and mystical revelation. His ways are higher and his thoughts are loftier than even Mr. Camping could imagine (Isa 55:8-9). God is absolutely sovereign and his purpose will be accomplished (Isa 46:8-11). Rejoice that he will keep promises and that his name will not be defamed by false prophets! His council will stand. He will return for his people, just like he promised Abraham he would redeem his descendants from Egypt before they were even there (Gen 15:13-16). God is pure and holy and right. He hates sin and rebellion is right to judge it.
This is why man is under his wrath. We have sinned against him (Psa 51:4; Rom 3:9,23). We have rejected his law and suppressed the truth of his power and wrath (Rom 1:18-22). Our rebellion is so deep and so complete that God considers us “dead” in our transgressions (Eph 2:1, 5), unable to muster faith of our own accord (cf Jer 13:23; 17:9; John 3:5-8). We are, by nature, idolaters and adulterers. We not only need to be saved from this fallen earth, but to be saved from our sinful selves. We are slaves to our sin and, without grace, we would have no hope (Rom 6:16-20).
The good news is that Jesus Christ died for us while we still these horrible rebels (Rom 5:8). He took the judgment that was due us upon himself (Isa 53:5-6, 8, 11; Gal 3:13; Rom 4:25). He alone extinguished God’s wrath (Rom 3:25; Heb 2:17). He stood in our place. He made atonement. He purchased us and redeemed us. We are his through the blood and work of Jesus Christ. For those who do not repent of their sins and place their faith in the person and work Christ, only judgment and eternal punishment remain (John 3:18; Rev 20:11-15).
But this is not just forensic. He actually saves us from our sins. He has granted us repentance (cf 2 Tim 2:25) and given us new hearts with a new disposition (2 Cor 5:17). He has given us a desire to flee sin and pursue righteousness (Rom 6). And he promises to work this out until we are finally called home (Php 1:6; 1 Pet 1:5), never leaving nor forsaking us (Deut 31:6,8; Heb 13:5). This promise stands and is as good as fulfilled (Rom 8:28-30). We have his down payment (2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:13; 4:30). And our inheritance includes both the enjoyment of God in full and the eradication of sin completely (Rev 21:3-8, 27).
At this point, I pray that you will see that part of this “working out salvation” (cf Php 2:12) is that Christians are a special people. We are the chosen ones. We didn’t choose him; he chose us (John 15:16). By grace we have been saved through faith (Eph 2:8-9). We are the ones called out by God (Rom 8:28; 9:24; 1 Cor 1:9). We are part and parcel the “called out ones.” In fact, that is what the word “church” means in the New Testament. It is the Greek word ekklesia, and it is an assembly of “called out ones.” That is why it is impossible to be called out of the church, because the church itself is already “called out” from the world. The entire New Testament presupposes the church and local assemblies of it. Dear brothers and sisters, you must be in fellowship with your fellow believers. It is the Lord’s command. Heb 10:25 doesn’t just say to meet together, but all the more as we approach the Day of Judgment. We are to meet more and encourage more – not less or not at all. It protects against falling victim to those who espouse false prophecies and false gospels. This fellowship protects against the wolves in sheep’s clothing. 1 John is an excellent epistle exemplifying this. Yes, there are false and, plainly, bad churches out there but it is not as if God has left us without defense against their whims. The Bereans wisely checked Paul’s teaching against Scripture (Acts 17:11). In fact, churches are to hold their elders and teachers accountable.
Again, I am sorry you have had to go through this and my hope is that, in time, you will see God’s grace in allowing you to survive and reflect on your experience with Mr. Camping. Embrace the gospel as it is revealed plainly in God’s word. There is no Scripture that can support the notion that secret systems and prophetic revelation are needed to understand God’s purposes. People do not accept the gospel because their hearts are hard (Rom 1:21), not because they lack special revelation.
I exhort you to resist the urge to let embarrassment or guilt for having believed Mr. Camping to cast God off all together. God is calling you. Today.
 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience,  again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.”  For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on.  So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God,  for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.  Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.