“Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you…” (2 Thessalonians 3:1)
Mark Twain once humorously quipped, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” So it would seem. We know the reality is that bad news sells, and drama and conflict usually lead to better ratings than tales of the uneventful happenings in the world. In fact, we are so inundated with bad news that the occasional “feel good” story at the end of the evening news is likely to elicited genuine tears as we cling to the hope that there is still some good in the world.
In reality, there is only good in the world because God is at work in the world. Were we to be bereft of his presence and the hope that we have in Christ, there would indeed be no cause for rejoicing anywhere. Apart from the good news of the gospel, man has only a certain looking forward to judgment. The buildup to the end of all things has begun, and we who live in this time are truly witnesses to history in the making. For many, this will be a time of terror and fear, but to those who hope in Christ, it is the time in which we are told to lift our heads in anticipation for our redemption. For those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, the cryptic prophecies made by Old Testament prophets are coming to pass with chilling accuracy before our very eyes, from the realization of the nation of Israel reassembling like so many dry bones in their ancient homeland to the blood red moons Joel predicted hundreds of years before Christ walked the earth. These things are given as a witness, not only to the fulfillment of God’s end time plan, but as proof to the credibility of the witness of scripture.
When one considers that the sixty-six books of the Bible were penned by more than forty authors over a period of roughly fifteen hundred years, the coherency and unity of the message are incredible. In Isaiah, chapter 53 we see the shadowy prefiguring of the suffering Servant while in the gospels we see the blood-red reality of His crucifixion. In Numbers we see Moses lift up the brazen serpent so that all who are bitten in the camp may be healed, while on the cross we see the anti-type of that image raised up so that all who look upon Him might be saved. We see in the Exodus the bleeding of the Passover lamb, the innocent suffering for the guilty, while at Calvary we see the Lamb of God taking away the sins of the world. All the images, sacrifices, and prophetic writings testify to redemption’s story of God coming down to earth that the way to heaven may be opened for sinful men.
For generations the greatest story every told has crossed the seas, leapt over walls, passed through barbed wire, and slipped through borders to lift in the hearts of the oppressed, give strength to the faint, and restore sight to the blind. That story of redemption inspired Handel to write his Messiah and moved Michelangelo, Dante, and countless others to create their immortal masterpieces. More than any other figure in human history the looming figure of the Son of Man has done more ennoble men, deliver captives, lift the lowly, and give hope in the midst of hopelessness. While His detractors have been many, he has outlived them all to remain the most influential figure in all the world. Countless faithful believers, willingly to pay the ultimate price, have suffered persecution and even perished while carrying this imperishable message of good news to the lost, and still today many suffer as they worship God and His Son, Jesus, whom He sent to save us all. They do so because they know their hope will outlive this life here below, and that their ultimate reward is awaiting them in eternity.
This is a living word that no man, government, or ideology can stop, and indeed, as Christ declared, the gates of hell have been unable to prevail against His Church. The scriptures testify to that heavenly Kingdom yet to come and which has already come to dwell in the hearts of believers. It is a Kingdom that cannot be assailed or conquered, whose King has already triumphed over His foes. It is a Kingdom into which all may freely enter, but into which we can only find access under the shadow of the cross. This Kingdom has no address and yet it can be found on every continent and every nation, while its ambassadors run to carry its message of emancipation from the bondage of sin to wherever men are found. This is the good news that through Christ our captivity has been turned and the way to the tree of life has been reopened.
If you are reading this, that message has now come to you. The gospel is not a call to better or reform oneself through personal effort or religious ceremony, but to surrender all attempts to earn God’s favor and simply trust in the Savior who paid our debt and made forgiveness and salvation available. God’s desire is for you to not only receive this new life for yourself but to become a Kingdom carrier, sharing in both word and deed the reality of the transformative power of the gospel with those whose hearts are hungry for the eternal realities of peace with God and purpose for life. In doing so, you become part of that living story that continues to change lives today, from the remotest jungles of Central America to the skyscrapers of Manhattan, from the Sub-Saharan deserts of Africa to the marbled halls of power.
It is easy to become pessimistic and even despondent as we see the terrible things that are happening in the world. Indeed, there is great darkness in many places, but we do not lose heart as though God has gone out of business. He is at work in the world today, and the gospel is still finding an audience in the hearts of men. One day the tattered curtain of space and time will fall away, and we will step into that eternal reality which is our great hope and from which we will never depart. Until then, we who believe can know that just on the other side of that veil are the millions of believers who have preceded us into glory, cheering us on as we take the irrepressible good news of Jesus to the ends of the earth.