At year’s end, most of us reflect back on the previous year, and look forward to the New Year with hope. You might wonder if that’s true of me. After all, I’m often accused of preaching “doom and gloom.” It’s true that I don’t always preach light and happy things. God’s message to humanity includes warnings of judgment, and of terrible future events.
But I’m actually full of hope. I see God’s warnings as signposts meant to lead us to His grace. At its core, His message is Good News. That’s why Jesus and His followers have always called that message, “the Gospel.”
Over the last week, most of the world’s Christians reflected on an angel of the Lord appearing to a group of shepherds on a dark Bethlehem night. “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” [Luke 2:10-11 NKJV]
“Good tidings of great joy!” That’s the heart of the Christian message. But to appreciate the Good News, you have to understand some bad news. We’re sinners. We fall far short of God’s righteousness. (Romans 3:23, Ecclesiastes 7:20, Galatians 3:22) That places each of us in desperate need of a Savior. (Luke 19:10)
In their heart of hearts, I think most people believe that an accounting awaits them. Deep inside, each person senses that one day a bill will come due. And that makes death a frightening proposition.
In a recent editorial that ran in London’s Guardian newspaper, ultra-left-wing atheist billionaire George Soros, said, “Jihadi terrorist groups such as Islamic State and al-Qaeda have discovered the Achilles heel of our western societies: the fear of death.”
He’s only partly right. Yes, western societies have a fear of death, but so do non-western ones. Hebrews 2:14-15 says it’s universal. “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He (Jesus) Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” [NKJV]
That is the universal human condition without Christ — a lifetime of bondage to the fear of death. But I’ve got Good News! You can be released from that bondage. Yes, you need a Savior. But don’t despair. Unto you has been born in the city of David the very Person you need — the Savior, Christ the Lord.
Without Jesus, humanity should fear death. We all fall short of God’s perfect standard of righteousness. But no one has to be bound by the fear of death anymore. Jesus offers to each one of us the gift of His own perfect righteousness. “We implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” [2 Corinthians 5:20-21 NKJV]
We can be reconciled with God because on the cross, Jesus took our sin on Himself. And now we can become the righteousness of God in Him. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” [John 10:10 NKJV]
That’s Good News!
In the Bible, gloom and doom are reserved for those who place their hope and faith in the world system. If you trust government, treaties, corporations, money, or anything of this world system instead of Christ, then God’s message is gloomy. He tells us that those things will not last.
Look at one item on that list —money. Don’t be enticed to place your trust in it. Jesus said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” [Matthew 6:19-21 NKJV]
There are all kinds of thieves out there; all kinds of moth and rust. The riches of this world have a short shelf-life, and then they’re gone. But if your treasure is in heaven, you will not be disappointed. It’s completely safe, and bears the best interest rate in the universe.
I don’t know what 2016 holds, but the trend of our time has a downward trajectory. We stand on the cusp of some horrific events predicted in the Bible for the time just before Christ’s Second Coming — the general time in which we live.
But as we keep seeing the fulfillment of ancient prophecies from God’s word, it should strengthen our faith and hope. Since the prophecies are true, then certainly the promises are too. No matter what happens, He will never leave nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5) And He will make provision for our needs. (Matthew 6:24-34, Psalm 55:22, Philippians 4:6, 1 Peter 5:7)
As you witness the fulfillment of prophesies about the coming Rapture of the Church they should fill your heart with any moment certainty. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-18)
Even when chaos surrounds you, if you are in Him, then you live in His care and under His blessing. And after this, you are suddenly caught up to heaven!
Hope? I’m loaded with it. You should be, too.
May 2016 be a blessed year for all of you! Keep looking up for the Rapture, for His coming is certain and very soon!