Be wary of self-proclaimed prophets. Only God the Father knows the precise time of Jesus' return.
Have you heard the latest prediction of Christ's second coming? You know, the predictions by those self-proclaimed prophets. The ones who claim to know the secret code - who claim to know the day and the hour of Christ's appearing.
It seems there are more and more of those who think they know the exact timing of this all important biblical event. But every prediction I have ever heard has failed.
What if I gave you a date, a prediction, of when Jesus Christ would return to this earth? What would it say about me? What would it say about you?
Let's look into Christ's second coming and let's examine what happens to all of us "When Predictions Fail."
[Announcer] Join our host, Darris McNeely and his guests, as they help you understand your future on Beyond Today!
[Darris] We are taking a risk on Beyond Today with this program. We are talking about failed predictions of dates when Jesus Christ would return to establish the Kingdom of God on earth. Where is the risk? Well, we are a Bible-based topical program. We talk about Bible prophecy on Beyond Today and one of the potential pitfalls of Bible prophecy is setting dates and predicting the date when Christ returns to this earth.
But you have never heard us set a date. We don't do that. Yet, countless other ministries and ministers set dates and gain notoriety for doing so. It's oh so tempting when studying Bible prophecy to try to figure out the "secret" of a verse or a series of numbers that may give a clue to the time of Christ's return. But here we do not do that. We deal with Bible prophecy responsibly, accurately and with deep reverence for its purpose. Yes, Bible prophecy has a purpose and it is valuable for study.
Later in today's program, I am going to give you three reasons to anticipate Christ's return. But first, let's look at what Christ had to say about His second coming.
There is no better place to look for what Christ had to say about His second coming than in the Gospel accounts of His life. Let's look closely at one of His sayings and note what He said.
In the book of Mark, the Gospel of Mark chapter 13, it says this: "But of that day and hour no [man] knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" (verse 32).
Notice: neither the day nor the hour is known. So you think that all the attempts to set dates would be known to be folly. But people persist in predicting Christ's return to earth in spite of this clear teaching.
Going on Christ said, "Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is" (verse 33).
Christ repeats that you will not know the timing. But He encourages followers to be observant - that is to "watch." He will come back to this thought again and we're going to come back to it as well.
But He also mentions prayer. And that's mentioned and it is very important. Prayer is how we talk to God, how we express our thanks and ask for wisdom and guidance. Prayer is how we connect to God and build and maintain a relationship with Him. Watching and praying go together.
When the disciples slept in the garden before Christ's arrest, Christ said to Peter, "are you sleeping? Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray..." He said (Mark 14:37-38).
Watching is to be alert and to understand the urgency of the moment and the times. Christ was to be arrested, beaten and killed - the culminating event of His whole purpose for coming to earth that first time. His followers were part of this event and they needed to understand the full impact and enormity of the time.
We are to watch. We are to pray today as we anticipate the second appearing of Jesus Christ - this time as King of kings, coming to establish His Kingdom and to replace all the earthly governments. This is momentous. It is the next significant step in God's plan for all the world.
And it's vital to your future to understand what this means and to prepare for it. But you don't prepare for Christ's coming by making vain predictions or getting fooled by those who do. You prepare by gaining understanding and vigilantly watching the times and your life within those times. You prepare by establishing and maintaining a living relationship with God.
Let's go back to Mark 13 where Christ goes on. "It is like," He said, "a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch" (verse 34).
Now, there's the instruction again: to "watch." And we are servants with a work to do. Christ is here likened to a man who went to a distant land and left his land and his possessions in the care of his servants. Here, in this verse, servants are disciples; they're called, they're chosen to carry on the work of Jesus Christ.
You're watching the work of Christ right now as this program, Beyond Today, goes to the world. We preach. We announce in advance the good news of God's coming Kingdom. We are servants entrusted with the precious truth of the Kingdom of God, a world beyond today, and a life changing message of hope for your life today.
What you hear from this program is the work of a spiritual watchman. Let's go back. Let's look again at what Christ said to us.
Back in verse 35, He said, "Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming - in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning - lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!" (Matthew 13:35-37).
So let's understand exactly what Christ means when He tells us to watch. And understand this - Christ's words here are for you and me today. They are living words - not just ancient literature from a dead man. Jesus Christ is alive today in glory and splendor and what we read here is to motivate us to vigilant action.
This is why teachers who proclaim a date and a setting for Christ's return should be avoided. Anyone who vainly and falsely predicts Christ's second coming is not doing so based on the Scripture.
Notice what Christ said about those who prophesy falsely about His coming.
It's in Matthew 24. He said, "Then if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or 'There!' do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect" (verses 23-24).
Now let's ask, who are the elect? The elect are those called by God and they who make up His Church.
Do you know that one of the key signs of a false messiah and a false prophet, what it might be? Look at another verse back in Isaiah 8:20. There it says, "to the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them."
So one claiming to speak for God must speak according to the law and testimony and not according to vain, empty speculation. They must also speak according to the law of God. In other words, they must be teaching you to keep the law - all the law - including God's Holy Sabbath day. If they fail in this they miss the mark and they are not speaking for God.
Let's go back to Matthew 24. It says, "Therefore if they say to you, 'Look, He is in the desert!' do not go out; or 'Look, He is in the inner rooms!' do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man..." (verse 26-27).
Christ's coming will not be done in secret or in a remote corner of the world. All will know that something major is occurring. It will not be hidden.
Now, what is the result of all of these failed predictions about Christ's coming? We'll look closely at those in a minute. But first I want to show you something. I want you to know about a free publication that we're going to offer you on this program that I think is going to help you really put the Bible prophecy in context and help you to understand this subject. You don't have to be fooled by those who teach falsely about the subject.
Our free booklet today is Are We Living in the Time of the End? Can you know that? Are we living in the time of the end and what are the signs of the end of this age? Our topic today raises this and other questions.
With this informative booklet, it fills in the details of the subject and gives you a true biblical orientation. It will help you answer these and other questions like, where are we now and what you can do to prepare.
You can settle your mind on this big question: Are We Living in the Time of the End? There is hope in knowledge. And on this subject you need some accurate, responsible and balanced teaching on prophecy. This booklet gives you what you need.
In North America you can get your free copy by calling: 1-888-886-8632 or you can go online toBeyondToday.tv. If you live outside of North America, please go to our website or write us a letter to request your free booklet.
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What happens when predictions of Christ's coming fail? It happens all the time as some self-styled prophet tries to make a name for himself or for his ministry.
One of the latest was that of Harold Camping, a minister who recently picked two calendar dates within the same year, both false, for the return of Jesus Christ. People like this make headlines and publicity for a short time and then you don't hear about them again as the news cycle moves on.
Since the first century there have been countless failed predictions of Christ's return and of the end of the age. Christ predicted it would happen and it did. History is full of them.
One of the most famous is that of the turn of the first millennium, the year 1000 A.D. Because of the turn of the first Christian 1000-year period, people thought that the end of time and Christ's appearing would happen. The date came and it did not happen. Again, in the year 1666, because of the addition of the number 666 - itself a prophetically significant number - people got excited and there was another round of failed predictions.
It is a sad affair. That which Christ specifically told people not to do - they do. And the result is skepticism and dashed hopes.
We asked some people how false predictions of the return of Christ impacted them.
> In the Bible it says you're not supposed to add or subtract to the Word of God and so that's just not good at all.
>> It's a practice of gaining attention, making money...
> I just think that they haven't read that Book that well, or don't have the understanding of what it is that they're actually saying.
>> I think they make a mockery of religion for the most part. It makes people take it less serious than maybe it should be.
[Darris] You can see that the average person is not impressed with false predictions of Jesus' return. So why do ministers and others make such predictions? First, there is an element of vanity in this. The Bible says knowledge puffs up. Nothing builds a person's sense of pride then to think that they have cracked the puzzle of Christ's return by gaining insight into a prophecy or a set of numbers.
You know, this may start out to be totally sincere. A diligent study of the Bible is all fine. But sometimes a person can get caught up in a serious study and catch a "fever" that makes them out to be someone with special insight or knowledge.
This is like what they call Jerusalem fever, a condition visitors to Jerusalem sometimes get when they walk its streets and sites and get caught up in a sense of end-time speculation and they start making statements and predictions that are inappropriate and totally off the wall. I have seen this happen with people and it always ends up as a big problem and an embarrassment.
So don't get caught up in an end-time fever of speculation that can compromise, complicate or even destroy your faith.
What should you gain from a study of Bible prophecies and especially those of the time prior to Christ's second coming?
Well first, the reason to study is that it keeps you vigilant and it does keep you tuned to our present world. Christ remember, did say that we are to watch.
There are many trends and events to watch in our world that show us Bible prophecy is true and that it is coming to pass.
Look at the events in the Middle East. They're rapidly changing. For the last several months the uprisings across the Arab world have toppled long standing governments in Egypt and Libya. Other Arab states are threatened with change as well. Iran's development of nuclear weapons will change the balance of power, forcing other states to either attack or obtain their own nuclear weapons.
The end result of this will be the emergence of a power called the King of the South in Daniel's book of prophecy. It will provoke another power called the King of the North to invade the region, all the way to Jerusalem.
These and many other world events bear watching and understanding. It's what we do on Beyond Today.
A second benefit from prophecy is that we realize this world will pass away, in God's time and not ours. The Kingdom of God will come.
Notice what the Bible says in 2 Peter 3: "scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation'... But the heavens and the earth...are reserved for fire until the day of judgment" (verses 3-4, 7).
Did you catch that? A day of judgment. There will be a time when the scoffing will end. And that is a sad thing about failed predictions. Failed predictions cause people to scoff at the Bible and the truth. They do not believe God and His words to be true. We can think then that the world will continue on just as it is and really miss the reality of a time of coming judgment.
You don't want to get caught unaware. Don't willfully forget or neglect this truth.
Now, a third reason to study Bible prophecy is that it prompts us to godly conduct.
Let's be honest. If we really knew Christ was returning tomorrow in a time of judgment, would we go on as if nothing would happen? Would you not think seriously about the type of person you are and what you should be?
Well notice what Peter went on to write. He said, "but the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness... nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (verses 10-11, 13).
Here Peter speaks with the authority of God. The Day of the Lord, Christ's return, will happen. Judgment will come upon the nations. What type of person should we be? Well the answer is in verse 13. The new world Christ brings, the new heaven and the new earth, will be one in which righteousness dwells.
What I am saying to you on this program is to think seriously about this world, about God and about the fact of judgment upon the nations. Christ is returning. We do not know when. He will bring a better world based on the righteousness of the Bible and its teachings. It is the time. Now is your opportunity to change your life and begin living by God's law and by His teaching.
Stop listening to false teachers and false ministers who not only make wild and unfounded predictions about Christ's second coming, but also fail to teach you the truth about the whole Word of God and His law. These people deny God's direct instruction and usurp the Father's prerogative.
No man knows the hour. When will people understand this clear teaching?
When predictions fail, we lose faith. When we lose faith, we lose hope. When we lose hope, we are in danger of losing God.
We are going to discuss more of this up next with our Beyond Today panel.
But first, let me tell about our new and expanded Good News magazine.
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I'm joined now with the Beyond Today panel, fellow hosts Gary Petty and Steve Myers. I just have to ask this question right up front, when will Christ return?
Gary Well of course Darris, we don't know. I mean that's the point.
[Darris] The day or the hour
[Gary] We don't know the day or the hour. Now we are given signs. And the reason that God gives us those signs in the Bible is because we are to be looking at those signs and watching so that we, not necessarily know how to predict every event, but that we're prepared and know those events as they happen.
[Steve] It's interesting when you read that passage in Matthew 24, Mark 13 where you don't' know the day or the hour. One of the interesting things that happens with that, people read that and then they think, well then I don't have to worry about it. It's not a big concern. They can put it off. When actually when you think about it on the other hand, Revelation 22, Christ says "behold I come quickly." And so I think for all of us, we better be preparing now; that there is a sense that there is urgency. We've got to have an urgency in our life or it's going to lead us to apathy and I think that's the danger that we face.
[Gary] That's why we're told to watch
[Darris] Yeah you know, our booklet that we're offering is: Are We Living in the Time of the End? This booklet here and... the broad scheme of things we do need to and can understand. It's the day or the hour. Most of the modern predictions though tend to put it right down to a very day and those are the most ridiculous ones that catch people's attention and keep it going there. But when we look about and think about Christ's return, what exactly from the Bible is the purpose for Jesus Christ returning?
[Gary] You know it's funny. Some people will say, oh I want Jesus Christ to come but not right now, almost like He's going to take away our fun or something. The truth is, we've messed this up. Human beings have messed up the world we live in. We suffer. We hurt each other. It's a world of violence and disease and this just isn't' working. Jesus Christ isn't coming back to somehow just take human beings and create the end of the world. He's coming back to save us. He's coming back to set up a better world for everyone.
[Steve] I think that's the key. They key is not just He is going to return. I think many have the idea that He's just going to return and somehow take His people out of the troubles and that's the extent of it. When really the point is Christ is going to establish His Kingdom and man's kingdoms, man's rule, man's government, his time of ruling this earth is over because it hasn't worked. It has not worked. Man has failed at his attempts and we need God to set things right. We need Jesus Christ to govern and rule and direct us because that's the only hope for survival. Otherwise man's efforts lead in just destruction.
[Gary] And when Jesus Christ returns, He is going to fix everything: governmental systems, educational systems, agriculture. He is going to fix everything so that this is the way God designed the world to be for human beings.
[Darris] That's what the Scriptures very clearly teach: the Messianic prophecies, prophecy Christ spoke about, the book of Revelation. And it's noble that people go into a study of that, so tragic when they get side-tracked into this prediction problem that causes people to go off like that. But why do you think, given the fact that Christ said the hour the day you can't know, the whole track record of failed prophecies, why does this phenomenon continue to occur?
[Gary] Well first of all, we want to know! I mean and there's nothing wrong with that in itself.
[Darris] Secret knowledge almost...
[Gary] Yes, but the problem is, is when it goes beyond this desire to be part of God's plan and to have a relationship with God and be there when Christ returns and moves into this concept of secret knowledge. That's where it gets to be a problem.
[Steve] Yeah and I think because we want to know, it seems that that will give us some kind of special insight and it takes the focus off of ourselves into a whole other realm. And I think that way I might know this, but do I understand it deeply enough that it affects me as an individual, as a person. Does it affect my relationship with God because that's really what's more important is what's it effect on me? What's my motivation? That is it helping me to draw closer to God or not?
[Darris] The thought struck me while you were talking, both of you, about this. It's, what you said is true. So many people who I have known over the years who get caught up in wanting to really try to figure out the secret code, put all the verses together, get the numbers matched up and try to figure it all out seem to be afflicted with the inability to cope with life, their own life. There's unhappiness and they can't put together the laws of success. They can't apply the principles that create a sense of happiness and so they get caught up in the idea of the promise of Christ's return. They want that so bad almost as if it's an escape, from the reality of their own life and the inability to deal with it. And I think people like that fall prey to some of the other charlatans that get caught up in predictions like that.
[Steve] I think you get off track because if you don't know what the Bible really says, you're supposed to do, because the Bible is about doing. It's about actions. It's about obedience. It's about following God's law. It's about putting on the mind of Jesus Christ and if we don't do those things, we can get side-tracked into trying to determine dates and hours and all those kinds of things and be so far off of the kind of individuals we're supposed to be that we miss the mark.
[Gary] And the knowledge of Jesus Christ's return is there for us to learn to live God's way right now! It's to live in a relationship with God right now!
[Darris] Yeah, that is so important because if we're not ready when it does happen then there are some, there are other key prophecies and statements from Jesus that tell us that there's going to be an even bigger problem to have to face. So now is the time to face the problems and get in line with that.
[Steve] I think it's interesting with the connections to those prophecies about the time of the end, the signs of the times, the difficulties that are coming, how many times it does say watch! Be ready!
[Darris] Be ready.
[Steve] Do something.
[Darris] Watch and pray!
[Steve] Be the godly person. Put that into effect in your life. That seems to be more of a key.
[Gary] And you know the reality is: if we die today, Christ's comes for us today!
[Darris] Yes that's true.
[Gary] And so, we have to live every day as if this is Christ's return!
[Darris] I think adopting that approach is one of the best ways, rather than getting caught up in dates and trying to figure that out. It's a dead end street.
Well, make sure you call or go online for our free study guide: Are We Living in the Time of the End? This booklet is going to be a very important tool for you to help you understand the times in which we no live and get it all right and in balance. We'll also sign you up for a free subscription to The Good News magazine if you're not already a subscriber. Each issue will give you more needed biblical direction in your life, not only on prophecy but how to really live your life.
So call right now: 1-888-886-8632, or go online to BeyondToday.tv and get your free booklet and your magazine subscription. If you are watching us outside of North America, you'll also need to order from our website or write us a letter.
The return of Christ is more than predictions and speculation. Christ said to watch and pray. It is more important to understand the serious times we live in. Focus on the real Jesus and His teachings. The Bible has far more to say to us than empty speculation and private opinion.
You can know with certainty what God expects and how to live your life. That, in the end, is what God clearly reveals and expects us to be.
We'll be right back with one final comment after this.
[Narrator] Christ came to earth with a central message of the Kingdom of God. What is the Kingdom of God? Most have never heard or understood what Jesus actually taught on this subject. The United Church of God is hosting free seminars held simultaneously around the world.
[Steve] That Kingdom is coming to earth - that was the message of Jesus Christ. It's not a Kingdom that's off up there in heaven but it's a Kingdom that Christ is going to establish right here on this earth.
[Narrator] Go to KOGSeminars.org for details to find one near you. Kingdom of God Bible Seminars - giving the message of hope for tomorrow, beginning today.
[Darris] Sign up to attend these Bible seminars today. And, watch our program again here next week.
Thanks for watching today and remember to join us in praying "Thy Kingdom come." For Beyond Today, I'm Darris McNeely.
[Announcer] For the free literature offered on today's program, go online to BeyondToday.tv. Please join us again next week on Beyond Today!