"Doctrine" in the Pastoral Epistles
by Ron Merryman
"Till I come, give attention to the reading, to the exhortation, to the doctrine.... Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you"--1 Timothy 4:13, 15-16. (I have highlighted the definite articles each from the Greek text, because they affirm the focus of public ministry, the Word of God.) [Paul to Timothy, ca. A.D. 65]
Paul's admonition here is directed to three emphases in Timothy's public ministry. When believers met in assembly, Timothy was to: 1) attend to the reading aloud of the Scriptures; 2) attend to exhortation-encouragement flowing from the Scriptures; and 3) attend to the doctrine, the organized or systematized teaching of God's Word.
Timothy was to meditate on these [literally, keep giving meticulous care to these (meletao in the present tense, active voice, imperative mood)], to give himself entirely to them ("be in these things,"... "be absorbed in them"), and to continue or persevere in them...for in so doing, he and his listeners would be delivered from the evils of the age. Strong imperatives for young pastors from the aged Apostle! It is evident that Paul's confidence in accomplishing God's purposes was solely in the Word of God.
False Prophecy—Or a Short History of Lessons Never Learned
by Edwin L. Newby
There is a simple way to test a prophecy: "wait and see." Scripture is clear: "When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him" (Deuteronomy:18:22).
Harold Camping's May 21, 2011, Judgment Day prophecy is just one more example of a false prophecy. Camping claimed that the Lord "revealed" this to him in spite of Christ's clear statement: "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only" (Matthew:24:36).
"Camping, who predicted that 200 million Christians would be taken to heaven Saturday before the Earth was destroyed, said he felt so terrible when his doomsday prediction did not come true that he left home and took refuge in a motel with his wife [having] spent millions—some of it from donations made by followers—on more than 5,000 billboards and 20 RVs plastered with the Judgment Day message" ("Radio host says Rapture actually coming in October," Associated Press in USA Today, 5/23/2011).
Previously, Camping had revealed September 6, 1994 as the end. It wasn't.
In his more recent prediction, Camping had said that October 21 was when the world would be destroyed. Now he says that May 21, 2011 was "an invisible judgment day," i.e., the earth was spiritually judged. "But the timing and the structure is the same as it has always been."
Camping's response is nothing new. Followers of William Miller (the group that later became the Seventh day Adventist Church) said, "Jesus Christ will come again to this earth, cleanse, purify, and take possession of the same, with all the saints, sometime between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844" (Quoted in Everett N. Dick, William Miller and the Advent Crisis, Berrien Springs: Andrews University Press, 1994, pp. 96-97). These days passed, with Miller recalculating and then offering April 18, 1844, which also came and went. This should have stopped further date setting, but Miller's associate, Samuel S. Snow pushed forth one more date (with Miller's support)—October 22, 1844.
The "Great Disappointment of 1844" was not corrected by confession of error. Rather, Hiram Edson, another follower, claimed to have a vision while walking across his cornfield, in which he saw Jesus entering "the second apartment" of the heavenly sanctuary to perform a work there before coming to the earth (F. D. Nichol, The Midnight Cry, p. 458). This false teaching is called the Investigative Judgment (see The Cultic Doctrine of Seventh day Adventists). Error begets error.
Charles Taze Russell, who founded the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society (Jehovah's Witnesses), was greatly influenced by SDA teaching. He subscribed to the idea that Egypt's Great Pyramid was a "prophecy in stone" and used the hidden codes found in the dimensions of the pyramid to show "A.D. 1874 as marking the beginning of the period of trouble...such as was not since there was a nation—no, nor ever shall be afterward." (Charles Taze Russell, Thy Kingdom Come, Studies In The Scriptures, vol. 3, 1904 edition). In the 1910 edition of Russell's book, he changed the "fully corroborated" date to 1914. Further error begets greater error.
Jesus didn't physically return in 1914. But Russell taught that Jesus had indeed returned, though invisibly. In fact, at Jesus' second coming, "Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him..." (Revelation:1:7).
In conclusion, Camping's actions are little different from others' who presume to set a date for the Lord's return.