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Why Preach a Gospel With Urgency Today?
The onrush of disturbing national and world conditions challenges the Church to preach the gospel in ever-greater intensity.
by John Ross Schroeder
Some of the current advice doled out by liberal academics and educators in the West is symptomatic of the problems that plague society today. Consider for a moment just the subject of education and child rearing. Recent newspaper articles have been headlined as follows:
• Children of 5 should be given lessons in sex.
• Teacher-pupil affairs can be a good thing, says academic.
• Unruly pupils need praising not telling off, teachers are told.
• Don't blame the bullies! It's not their fault.
• Don't jail young muggers.
The cultural and moral problems that currently afflict our Western nations call to mind a crucially important passage in the book of the major prophet Ezekiel: "Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men and women that sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it" (Ezekiel 9:4).
Jerusalem is figuratively a type of a whole nation, and this basic principle applies prophetically to our nations today. Those who take God at His word are aghast at and appalled by the erosion of biblically based standards that has taken place in Western nations. (To understand more, please request our free booklet . )
The Church as modern watchman
In more ancient times, watchmen were appointed for sentry duty, an essential post for the protection of a tribe or nation. This group of men was charged with alerting their fellow citizens about hostile military movements. The watchmen's presence constituted an early warning system that often saved lives. Theirs was an awesome responsibility.
Ezekiel's role was to articulate a warning from God to Israel about the very unpleasant consequences of their unacceptable moral behavior. In discharging this solemn and sacred duty today, it is no easy task to be both an effective tool in God's hands and simultaneously be sensitive to the more positive spiritual needs of the nation.
But to foolishly neglect this awesome responsibility because of national hurt feelings or fear of disturbing a country's spiritual sleep would be an unconscionable betrayal of biblical duty with unpleasant consequences for the watchman.
Ezekiel wasn't the only Hebrew prophet to occupy the role of a watchman. For God had also told Isaiah: "Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he sees" (Isaiah 21:6).
The Church's role to alert people of their sins and the consequences of those sins is not only a message found in Ezekiel and Isaiah, but also in Jeremiah, Daniel and the 12 Minor Prophets. It is discovered in Christ's Olivet Prophecy, Paul's prophetic warnings and the book of Revelation. The words of Paul in Colossians 1:28 compel us to "preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus."
Isaiah 58:1 sums up the essence of this particular aspect of the overall gospel message: "Cry aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet; tell My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins." Remember that sin is the transgression of God's law (1 John 3:4, King James Version).
The Great Commission: Also a warning message?
The closing passage in Matthew's Gospel account sums up how Jesus set out the mission of the Church down through the centuries: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matthew 28:19-20).
Christ's gospel constitutes more than the recorded life of a good man and a personal savior. It includes the news that the living Jesus Christ, ascended on high, is literally returning to this earth and into your life. It is the good news of the coming Kingdom of God. It is the only lasting hope for a troubled world. Yet there remains a crucial element of warning within the scope and spectrum of the overall gospel message. This important dimension is described within the context of Jesus' Olivet Prophecy in Matthew 24.
"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end [of this age] will come" (Matthew 24:14, emphasis added). Jesus characterized this particular period in future world history as "the days of vengeance, that all things which are written [in the Old Testament] may be fulfilled" (Luke 21:22).
This will be a time of "great distress"—a prelude to the second coming of Jesus Christ (verses 23-27). The prophet Jeremiah wrote, "How awful that day will be! None will be like it. It will be a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved out of it" (Jeremiah 30:7, New International Version).
Mark's version of the Olivet Prophecy emphasized the role of the watchman. Three times within five verses we are told to watch for the second coming (Mark 13:33-37). One of the functions of the Holy Spirit as an agency of God is the revelation of "things to come" (John 16:13).
An increasingly sad world scene
The many moral ills of today's world are far too numerous to cover comprehensively in one article. But consider a comment about our present world. Sir Jonathan Sacks, Britain's chief rabbi, recently warned of the mounting threat of Holocaust denial and a tsunami of anti-Semitism engulfing Europe.
Our soap operas on television are awash with offensive language, illicit sexual relationships and gratuitous violence. The overconsumption of alcohol and the illegal and reckless use of drugs remain a social and moral plague in our land.
We also see traditional marriage increasingly undermined by the gay political movement. So the Church has a grave duty, as a watchman, to warn the world where all these trends are taking us. Along with this, the Church proclaims the good news of God's coming Kingdom.
To understand more about this important aspect of the role of the Church in our 21st-century world, please request our free booklet . It defines and explains the Church's dual functions of preaching the gospel and preparing a people. It is a message that proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God in all its fullness under God's literal millennial reign.
I believe you will truly be heartened as you read in detail the true mission of God's Church today. WNP
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