Seven Minutes With The International Director
The year 1979 is tumbling uncontrollably toward its end. For America, it was anything but a good year. Nor does 1980 hold out hope for a new horizon of opportunity and change. America is adrift on a fragile craft in a stormy sea. Find a compass! Lower the sails! Turn the helm! All hands man your battle stations! These should be the commands of the day. They are conspicuous by their absence.
Government has lost its credibility.
Business has lost its integrity.
Hard work has lost its dignity.
Morality has lost its nobility.
And, worst of all, the expression of Christianity, the backbone of our nation, has lost its vitality.
Few believe government — only the naive trust business — people want more and more for doing less and less — ethical standards are no longer fashionable — and a distorted, Madison Avenue-promoted “religious” craze is usurping the simplistic biblical message of salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone.
As a result, political paralysis, economic chaos, military weakness — these are not potential future dangers but present realities.
America has never been a truly Christian nation. However, our beloved country was built upon a Christian world view which, in turn, rested upon biblical principles. These principles have now been eroded or neutralized. The inspired penman asked the rhetorical question, “If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Ps. 11:3). Homosexuality, the ‘so-called’’ Equal Rights Amendment, a permissive society, an educational system that says there are no absolutes (because there is no personal God to whom man is responsible), social scientists who claim man is locked in and simply the product of his environment, a judicial system that is often more concerned about the criminal than the society he abuses, the breakdown of the family unit, frothy “religion” without a life-transforming, Holy Spirit-produced relationship with Christ ~ these are clear, unmistakable indications of the depths to which our country has fallen. We have traded God’s eternal principles for temporal, secular humanism. We have moved into a period when, not unlike the days of the Judges of Israel, man is doing that which is “right in his own eyes” (Jud. 17:6). And, as in those days the people demanded a king to bring order out of chaos, so too soon the western world will call for a king, a man who, they will think, can break through the red tape and put a stop to the insanity of the present hour. He will be the Antichrist, and he will plunge the world into its most devasting period of history. Current events are paving the way for his soon coming.
Make no mistake about it, our nation is burning, and our people are fiddling — impotence rules supreme. As a nation, we have lost the will to change the cadence and direction being dictated by the one who is the enemy of our souls. This harsh assessment is, we think, not an overstatement of the present hour.
In the light of these truths, how shall we, who are believers in Christ, then live? Should we find a deserted cave and drop out of the human ? Should we take a fatalistic, whats-the-use attitude toward life? Is it okay to espouse the philosophy, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” ?
Must our message be one of total despair? The answer to these questions is an unequivocal “No!” We who are in Christ must view our world through the “more sure word of prophecy” (2 Pet. 1:19). Only then can we have proper perspective and balance in the midst of a twentieth-century world that has come unzipped and has lost its way. The Apostle Paul’s admonition to the believer was never more timely, “And be not conformed to this world …” (Rom. 12:2).
Biblical Prophecy Is The Only Way To Hope
For many people, ‘hope’ is simply the balancing of probabilities. A man wants to play golf. He looks out the window and says, I hope it doesn’t rain today” — but he knows it might. A college coed shares a concern with her roommate: “I hope I passed the exam” — but she knows she may have failed it. Sometimes ‘hope’ is used as a synonym for despair. After visiting a terminally ill patient, a loved one remarks, “All he has left is ‘hope’.” That is, everything has been done which can be done, and only a miracle can alter the inevitable march toward death.
In marked contrast, when the Creator of all things extends to mankind a word of ‘hope’, it is certain, absolute, unalterable, because God’s Word of promise is roofed in His arm of power.
Sin had entered front and center onto the stage of human history. Man’s image in the likeness of his Creator was marred, his fellowship broken, his right to rule as king of the earth forfeited — he was about to be expelled from the Garden of Eden to start his long, lonely, futile walk across the centuries. It was mankind’s darkest hour. Every crushed heart, every broken body, every disturbed mind — the collective tears of the human race can trace their roots back to the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
And, in the darkness of that hour, an eternal God who changes not gave to man a word of ‘hope’. Like a flaming meteor, it lit up the darkness of night to point to a glorious new day. The ‘hope’ was couched in the promise that one day a unique personality would appear on the stage of history. He would be human (Gen. 3:15), He would be divine (fsa. 9:6), He would be the God-Man.
His first appearance was for the express purpose of dying for the world’s sin. He did. His second appearance will have as its goal the recapturing of man’s lost destiny as king of the earth. He will.
In the interim. God never promised that things would get better and better — as a matter of fact. He said things would get worse as we approach the end of the age. He never promised that all men would be saved — He said it would be only a remnant. From a human perspective, it looks like God is losing the battie. From a divine perspective, we can know that God is going to win the war.
Biblical prophecy is the only basis for hope in this otherwise hopeless world.
Biblical Prophecy Is An Exhortation To Holy Living
Following the Second World War, one of the popular songs to emerge began with these words, “In a quaint caravan, there’s a lady they call the gypsy. She can look in the future and drive away all your fears.. . . ” Mankind is naturally curious — it has a penchant to know the future. Some people expend a great deal of time and energy seeking to understand what the Bible has to say about the future with little or no concern for the present. Conversely, some are concerned about present holy living with little interest in what the Bible has to say about the future. The former seem not to understand that God tells us about the future to affect our present, and the latter miss the fact that present victorious living requires an understanding of what God is going to do in the future.
The Apostle Paul, writing to Titus, sets forth two termini points. The first he calls a GRACE appearing of the Lord Jesus (Ti. 2:11). The other he calls a GLORIOUS appearing of the Lord Jesus (Tj. 2:13). The GRACE appearance looks back in history to our Lord’s first advent in humility as a Lamb. The GLORIOUS appearance looks forward prophetically to His second advent in glory as a Lion. Believers of this age are living between those two termini points — the first and second advents of the Son of God. To such, the Apostle Paul gives this admonition:
“Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world” (Ti. 2:12).
The Bible never suggests that we will change or reform this evil world but that in the tight of Christ’s soon coming and certain triumph, we are to live victoriously within it.
Biblical prophecy is an exhortation to holy living.
Biblical Prophecy Is The Substantiation Of Christ’s Honor
One of the strange enigmas of nineteen hundred years of church history is that relatively few theologians have understood the relationship of prophecy to the person and work of the Lord Jesus. The New Testament opens with the declaration, “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Mt. 1:1).
Jesus is the name of God’s Son. It literally means “salvation”. To Joseph the angelic messenger said, “. . . call his name JESUS [salvation] ; for he shall save his people from their sins” (Mt. 1:21). That is, call Him that which will be characteristic of His life. He will save, so call Him salvation.
Christ is not, as many think. His second or last name. Rather, it should be understood to be an office like president, prime minister or king. The term Christ comes from a Hebrew word meaning “anointed”. In the Old Testament there were three official offices — prophet, priest and king. The prophet was God’s spokesman to the people, the priest was the people’s representative before God, and the king was God’s vice-regent ruling over the people in civil affairs. Every need of the human heart could be met through those three offices. To the question, “In this confused, tumbling-out-of-control world in which I live, is there any objective truth in which to trust?”, the response given is, “Yes, hear God’s Prophet.” To the question, “Is there any way that a vile sinner like me can find acceptability before a holy God?”, the answer is, “Yes, through God’s Priest.” To the question, “Will justice, righteousness and peace ever become a reality upon the earth?”, the answer is, “Yes, through the divinely-appointed King.”
Whenever a man in the Old Testament was appointed to one of these offices, oil was placed on his head ~ this was called an anointing. All three of these offices merged in Jesus the Son of God. He and He alone is Prophet, Priest and King — the Christ (Anointed One). Implicit in that title is the fact that every need of the human heart for time and eternity can be met in Him.
During His first advent He was a prophet — He was God’s spokesman to the people. At the end of His life He functioned as priest offering the sacrifice to God and then turning around to be the sacrifice. When Jesus returns to the earth the second time, He will return as the Lion of the tribe of Judah to be King of the Jews and then King of kings and Lord of lords.
Any theology that ignores or distorts a physical, visible, literal return of the Son of God to rule and reign upon the earth ought not to call Jesus “the Christ”, for inherent in that designation is His ministry as King. His prophetic ministry was on earth, His priestly ministry now in heaven was begun on earth, and He shall rule as King on the earth. What the first man, Adam, through sin lost, the Second Man, Christ, through righteousness will recapture.
Biblical prophecy is the substantiation of Christ’s honor, for it afone explains His coming kingly ministry and justifies His Messianic claim. And, in that coming is the hope of mankind to be realized.
Biblical prophecy is the only genuine corrective to the futility and despair into which our world is being plunged. It offers hope to the hopeless, it provides a rationale for the exhortation to holy living, and it vindicates the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ.
A diamond shines brightest with a dark velvet background, and the darker the night, the more radiant the glorious Gospel. Child of the King, look out at the world God so loves and share His Son, for the fields are white unto harvest — Citizen of Heaven, look up for your redemption draweth nigh. In Christ, we will soon meet — here, there or in the air.