Christians like Edwin Ramos are badly misinformed, it is sad to say. I love when Christians study their bible, but this is something gone terribly awry. The New Jersey Star-Ledger article yesterday, Bridgeton billboard: World will end in May 2011, makes me cringe in sorrow. It starts:
“Edwin Ramos wants everybody to know that the world is going to end May 21, 2011. That is why he is leasing billboards across Cumberland County and printing that very message on them. There are currently three billboards, located in front of Ramos’s house on Oak Drive, in Vineland; on Delsea Drive, in Vineland, and in front of the Dollar &; Up store on Route 49 coming into Bridgeton from Millville. They bear the message, “Judgment Day, May 21, 2011, THE BIBLE GUARANTEES IT”, in addition to a crossed out “2012”.
In the past, Mr Ramos has advocated staying away from church and studying the bible on your own. Eschewing church for private study is not biblical, the Lord said we are to gather with other saints to encourage and to learn. (Hebrews 10:25; Romans 12:10 for two of many examples). Gathering with saints is a way to keep us on track, doctrinally and morally. Quiet time in study with the Holy Spirit is desirable and commended, but abandoning gathering with the saints allows incorrect belief to settle in, and needed corrections to be unmade. Always there needs to be a balance.
The first off-track notion that Mr Ramos propounds on this billboard is the statement that God guarantees the world will end in 2011. It is a good example of a little information going a long way toward misinformation. God does declare that He will burn this world and the heavens with fire and then renew it. (2Peter 3:10; Rev 21:1). But God nor Jesus say when that will be. As a matter of fact, it is repeatedly stated that the last day will not be known to anyone on earth (Matt. 24:36; Matt. 24:42; Matt. 24:44; Matt. 24:50; Matt. 25:13…) How anyone can claim to know when the world will end to such specificity as Mr Ramos is biblically, secularly, morally, intellectually, and in all other ways, impossible.
As for the circle with the year 2012 crossed out, well, we are not competing with secular notions. Worldly culture is false and their notions of just about anything are also false. God is supreme, He needs not bend to our false thoughts, correct secular paradigms, nor scurry to prove one over another. He sent us the bible and that is all the information we need to know to establish a perfect foundation for a good life in Him.
I admire Christians who sacrifice to share the Good News of Jesus and the fact of His imminent return, as Mr Ramos is doing. But to do so on your own strength, without the humility necessary to attend a gathering of the saints and learn from each other and stand for possible correction, is dangerous. In the end, that kind of message does more to close people’s ears than open them. Therein lay the tragedy.
Thirdly, Ramos has absorbed his ideas from a false prophet named Harold Camping, who broadcasts on a cultish radio show. I can safely name Mr Camping as a false prophet because his followers continue to listen to Camping despite the fact that he was wrong in his previous prediction of the end of the world in 1994. The bible says that if one claims to know the secret things of God and to speak for God and is wrong even once, he is false (Deut 18:22). However, this same bible warns us that at the end of the age there will be many false prophets and they will be successful. (Mt 24:11; 2Peter 2:1; 1John 4:1). We are also told that many will follow these false prophets and prefer their false doctrines. True prophets are always in harmony with the scriptures and so will their doctrines be. One has to neglect, forget, abandon, or plainly ignore many bible verses in order to make a claim as to when the end of the world will come, date-specific.
It is a testament to satan’s success that he takes a truth (the world will end) and makes it into a lie (the world will end on May 21, 2011). But again, here the bible forewarns us: “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator–who is forever praised. Amen.” (Romans 1:25).
Other famous false doctrines making the rounds are the world ending on the Blood Moon scenario promoted by Mark Biltz, the false pronouncements that Christians will go through all or part of the rapture (corrected here by bible teacher John MacArthur), and the rapture occurring on the Feast of Tabernacles. As prophetic interest rises among the congregations, and as pastors fumble and fail to preach this important ministry, wayward Christians go off and seek to slake their thirst for the things of the end, which is good, but fall into snares and pits, which satan lays for them. No one knows when the rapture will be and no one knows when the last moment of earth will be. We can know the season by watching the signs he said would happen, but we will not know the date.
Christian, when you study in your private time, first remember to pray to the Holy Spirit for wisdom. “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” (John 16:13; 1 Cor 2:13). “He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you” and that is the key. Is what you are promoting really truth that brings glory unto the Father? His glory is all that matters, and our actions must shine back toward Him. As a believing Christian, I want to make sure that what I shine isn’t a dark blot on Him but a light that is from Him. I hope you do the same… Engage in prayerful study, congregate with the saints, and beware false doctrine.