" For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts." - Malachi 1:11
Too many Christians today are stuck in a pessimistic outlook and I must admit that I am prone to this myself at times. We must be constantly reminded that we should not take our worldview from the pages of the newspaper, but the pages of holy scripture. God has promised to exalt his son among all the nations -
"All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him,for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations. All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him— those who cannot keep themselves alive. Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness, declaring to a people yet unborn: He has done it!" - Psalm 22:27-31
One obstacle I see to an optimistic view of the cause of Christ in our world is faulty eschatology. For the uninformed 'eschatology' is merely the study of the "eschaton" - the last things. Many Christians think we are living in the last days and things will only go down hill toward the tribulation. In that scenario our best hope is to be raptured off this place before the sky falls. Such ideas have been made popular by many radio teachers and book hucksters.
Though the scriptures do speak of difficult times in the last days - we need to remember that scripture refers to the last days as the entire time since Christ has spoken to us (Hebrews 1:2). We have been living in the last times so-to-speak since zero A.D. Yes there have been terrible times, but the scriptures also holds out great hope for the future, such as the prophesies mentioned above.
It makes me sad when an extremely prominent Christian leader at a prominent evangelical conference here in Ontario tells 500 pastors that 'revival doesn't last'. When I heard those words at the recent TGC Conference in Toronto I felt like a knife went through my heart. The statement doesn't even make sense from a historical perspective, considering we are still living on the spiritual capital of the Great Awakenings - and that those Awakenings spawned movements of global missions which are currently evangelizing the entire world. But what is worse is the implications for the future - I wanted to tell Dr. Carson that his lack of faith disturbed me. Yes men's hearts are sinful, but Christ is greater!
If our Christian leaders can't raise their eyes above a hope for mere mercy drops, who will storm the throne of heaven EXPECTING showers of blessing? Who is praying for revival that will change the shape and face of our nation for over a thousand years? Why should we pray for such things? What is our hope for the future?
Our hope for the future rests on God's promises - the gates of hell shall not prevail, our Kingdom commission is guaranteed by the one who governs all things by the council of his will.
I have some questions for the pessimists. In his love for his Son would the Father ordain that majority of the world reject his sacrifice? Is the Spirit unable to break the heart of stone? Did not God "make known to us the mystery of his will - to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ." ?
If anyone is interested in learning more about eschatology a great sermon to listen to can be found here -->
While I don't agree 100% with every detail of the message, he makes some excellent points and proves (I trust) that the scriptures teaching about the end should give us GREAT HOPE for future gospel blessings.
I have transcribed the text of the last several minutes of the sermon below:
Richard Cameron "The church of Christ is to be so exalted that it’s members shall be made to ride upon the high place of the earth. Let us not be judged to be of the opinion of the 5th monarchy men, who say that Christ will come in person with all the saints and martyrs and reign 1000 years on earth – but we are of the opinion that the Church shall be more high and glorious, as appears from the book of Revelation, and the church shall have more power than ever she had before.”
James Renwick said this “There have been great and glorious days of the gospel in this land, but they have been small in comparison of what shall be…”
And so James Godfrey, when he was about to be hanged, and the rope was around his neck - he lifted up the napkin from over his face and he cried out ‘The covenant, the covenant, shall yet be Scotland reviving!’ – He knew he wouldn’t see it in this world, but he knew the cause for which he was about to die would flourish again, and it will.
And whether we live to see it or not, the Lord will perform all his word - what he has promised he is able also to perform. Let us aim high in our doing and in our praying.
The Post-millenialism flavoured Larger Catechism question 191 reads –
“In the second petition (which is, Thy kingdom come), acknowledging ourselves and all mankind to be by nature under the dominion of sin and Satan, we pray, that the kingdom of sin and Satan may be destroyed, the gospel propagated throughout the world, the Jews called, the fullness of the Gentiles brought in; the church furnished with all gospel officers and ordinances, purged from corruption, countenanced and maintained by the civil magistrate”
Do you pray for those things? You should!
When we pray thy Kingdom come, we pray for the coming of the Kingdom of Glory, for we pray for the advance of the Kingdom of Grace –that’s what we should have in our minds.
John Howe the Puritan said, lamenting the lack of belief in these things said – “We expect to see what we have been wont to see and men are apt to measure their faith by their eyes for the most part in reference to these things. Only that can be done, which they have seen done and men are hardly brought to raise their faith and expectation higher than this… why should it be thought an incredible thing that there should be a resurrection of religion?”
You say – ‘Oh the Puritans were men of their times’ Rubbish! It’s us. It’s us, the men and women who are influenced more by what we see rather than what God has said.
And so we look around us, we see the cause of Biblical and reformed truth at a low ebb and we think it will always be so, and will never be much more than it is – we stagger at the promises of God. Abraham didn’t and neither must we.
He will do it, He will perform His pleasure He will fulfill all that he has written – and we are to pray and to labour in that blessed stream of those whose hearts have been attached to that cause which shall yet have it’s resurrection day in this world. “The ends of the earth shall remember, and they shall turn unto the Lord”, “the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform it.”
AMEN AND AMEN