We do not have to look far in order to learn about bad news; we are bombarded with it through the news on television or online. We hear about those who have committed terrible crimes and their victims; we learn of oppression, violence, pain, misery, and suffering around the world; we hear dire predictions about the future of our culture, society, and even our planet. This tendency is also found among the Lord’s people: we often hear of warnings about the fate of American culture and the future of the church. We are reminded frequently that the church is only one generation from apostasy. Many think the future of the advancement of the Gospel looks quite dim.
There is evil in every day and age (Matthew 6:34); we will always be beset by fears, temptations, and trial (2 Timothy 3:12, Hebrews 12:1-2). Yet it need not be all doom and gloom: we have been entrusted with the Gospel, or Good News (Greek euangelion), about Jesus the Christ (Romans 1:16, 1 Timothy 1:11)! In a world saturated with bad news we do well to emphasize that Jesus Christ is very good news indeed.
Jesus reigns as Lord. In Matthew 28:18 Jesus declares that God has given Him all authority in heaven and on earth. When we look around the earth and see all the misery, pain, suffering, and violence, it is easy to forget that Jesus reigns. In a figure we see a similar situation in Revelation 13:1-18: the forces of evil have succeeded in seducing most people to follow after them, they persecute the people of God, and the situation seems dire. But we learn in Revelation 12:1-17 that the forces of evil have already lost; Revelation 14:1-20:3 in figures show how the Evil One will be thoroughly defeated. We do well to remember that even in the midst of difficulties on the earth the Lord Jesus still reigns and is glorified in heaven (Revelation 4:1-5:14); we may be suffering, but it will not last forever. Jesus is in control!
Jesus is Risen. In 1 Corinthians 15:1-58 Paul explains the importance of the resurrection of Jesus for our faith. He had died, but death could not contain Him; He was raised from the dead as the firstfruits of the resurrection, in hope that all those who serve Him will obtain a like resurrection on the final day. Thanks to the resurrection we may have the confidence that sin and death are not the end (Acts 17:30-31). The forces of evil may be strong, but we can gain the victory over them through Jesus and His resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:51-58). We can therefore remain steadfast and immovable despite any suffering or temptation, knowing that if we suffer along with Jesus we will be raised in glory with Him (Romans 8:17-18).
Jesus’ Kingdom remains. The gates of Hades will not overcome the Church of Christ (Matthew 16:18); Jesus will be with those in His Kingdom until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). We have the Lord’s sure promise and the confidence that God’s plan in Christ is eternal and is manifest in His church (Ephesians 3:10-11). God still wants people to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4); a remnant remains according to grace (Romans 11:1-5). There is great reason for hope in terms of the younger generations currently in the Kingdom. Many young people maintain great zeal and enthusiasm for the Lord’s purpose and seek to serve Him in their lives. As participation in denominations wanes greater opportunities exist to point interested persons in the way of simple, primitive, Apostolic Christianity. The fields are “white unto harvest” (John 4:35)!
There will always be bad news and reasons to live in doubt and fear. We need to heed the warnings of God in Christ in Scripture but recognize that we are called to live according to the Good News of Jesus Christ and to proclaim that Good News to all men. The Lord will have the victory; the forces of love will overcome the forces of evil. The Lord is greater than those who are against us (1 John 4:4); let us trust in Him, be saved, and obtain the victory!
Ethan R. Longhenry