A RECENT coast-to-coast program brought a group of scientists together on the TV screen. They were discussing some aspects of the universe. What they were saying was both interesting and challenging. Much of their vocabulary could not have been understood by past generations. Some of the "unknowns" of even a few years ago were brought into sharp focus. While listening we could not help pondering how different is man's concept of the universe today from what it was a few decades ago. We felt grieved, however, when one of the younger scientists turned from the purely scientific discussion and said something like this: "Time was when people believed in a personal God, a generous, kind-hearted Being who cared for them when in trouble, to whom they prayed and offered their worship. But all that now belongs with the past, having been superseded by the discoveries of this new age."
This man doubtless stands high in the scientific world, but when he left the area of his specialty and entered the field of theology he quickly revealed that he was speaking of things he knew little or nothing about. Faith in a personal God was to him a mark of ignorance. But that is typical of this generation. For many the god of science has taken the place of the God of salvation.
God Discounted in the Classroom
The words of Jesus are certainly pertinent today: "When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" The original reads, "the faith." The faith of Jesus is saving faith. But the tragedy is that because men have lost all sense of a personal God, salvation has no meaning either.
For a century God has been discounted in the classroom and ridiculed in the laboratory. In a spirit of self-sufficiency our generation is following in the footsteps of the ancient Greeks who sought to come to an understanding of themselves and their universe by philosophy and reason rather than by revelation. "The world by wisdom knew not God," says the apostle. And that is true today. Those ancient thinkers whose "wisdom" reached great heights did not find the answer to the ultimate questions of human existence. Nor can men today find satisfying answers to these basic questions merely by the disciplines of science, wonderful and various as they may be.
Great Minds Baffled
When scholarship has made its greatest contributions there are still areas that baffle human thought. As Dr. A. N. E. Anrade has tersely stated: "The latest lesson of the laboratory and study appears, however, to be that while we can go very, very far in our study of the material world, there are mysteries that our methods can, by their very nature, never touch."—An Approach to Modern Physics, p. 259. It seems strange that while refusing to put faith in a personal God many find no difficulty in putting faith in their own achievement. Instead of science leading our generation to a new and reverent concept of the greatness of the Creator, it has lost creation's God in the cosmos. Nevertheless, some in this faithless generation will be found who by the grace of Jesus Christ "keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." Nor is this an ignorant limited faith. It is rather an active, far-reaching faith that centers in the One through whom all things came into existence.
This highly complex, fast-moving age bears little resemblance to the slow, simple gait of the past. Everywhere we look, change is the order of the day. And these changes have made an impact on every area of life. But why this comparatively sudden change? Why was it that men had to wait so long to develop even the telescope? This, of course, became the forerunner of other discoveries. What is the explanation? Is it because men of the twentieth century are more clever than past generations? That certainly is not the case, for the ancients accomplished many things beyond our ability today. But what has led science to take such rapid strides? Students of prophecy know the answer. This generation is to witness the closing events of human history. But before that can happen the everlasting gospel is to be preached to "every nation, kindred, tongue, and people." Men and women of all ranks and races must have opportunity to hear God's message and prepare to meet our Creator and Redeemer when He returns as King of kings and Lord of lords.
Human Accomplishments Insignificant
If only men could see themselves in contrast with their Maker, how insignificant all human accomplishments would appear! The most spectacular demonstrations would seem small indeed!
Listening to the television program to which we already referred, we could not help realizing that the very science these men were extolling has also made possible the proclamation of the gospel of grace to all the world in a single generation. Millions today can see and hear the living preacher at the same precise moment. Having permitted the discoveries of our time, God has opened the way for the everlasting gospel to be heralded by methods never dreamed of in past ages. Man may glory in his achievements and even make science his god, yet the message being proclaimed to all the world today is "Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come."
When our Lord returns in power and great glory, the idols of gold and silver, of intellect and discovery, will seem small indeed. So overwhelming will be that revelation of majesty that men will hurl their gold and silver to the moles and the bats.
Men will flee terror-stricken from the blazing face of the coming King as they plead for the rocks and the mountains to "hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb."
Peril Realized Too Late
What a tragedy that men scorn the grace of Jesus Christ, and ridicule the only thing that can save them in that day. Too late they realize the peril of their choice. The Scripture says: "As it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man." Little did that ancient generation realize that the judgments of God were at hand. Jesus said: They "knew not until the flood came, and took them all away." The word of truth preached by faithful Noah meant nothing to them. They put their confidence in their own opinions. Having turned from God's saving grace, they at last rushed to their ruin and perished in their iniquity. Awful as it is to contemplate, history will be repeated. Our pedantic, self-sufficient generation, glorying in its own accomplishments, knows not that the day of judgment is at hand.
We as heralds of God's last message have been given the responsibility of proclaiming the gospel of grace to all men everywhere. "Knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men" is the way Paul expresses it in 2 Corinthians 5:11, R.S.V. The note of urgency was heard all through the messages of those first evangelists, and its impact was tremendous. It pierced the hearts of their hearers. It moved whole cities to God. Nothing seemed to be able to stand in their way. That same note of urgency must be heard again in our sermons.
The great tragedy of our time is a decaying pulpit. There is a lack of power in the proclamation of the Word of God. The last note of authority on the part of preachers is pathetic. How can a preacher take his work for granted with the world falling to pieces? 0 that the Holy Spirit would stab us awake! That He would help us realize that eternity is involved in the messages we bear: that our sermons are either "a savour of life unto life" or "of death unto death"!
We say again: the divine urgency that gripped the apostles must grip our hearts today. It must be a trumpet call within our souls enabling us as we stand before the people to see them not as rich and poor, young and old, educated and ignorant, but as judgment-bound souls for whom Christ died. The church's greatest need is for ministers of the new covenant who know how to "persuade men." We need the baptism of the Holy Ghost and of fire, that our words will be as fiery darts to pierce men's hearts and minds, letting them cry out as of old: "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" To "persuade men" is our God-given task.
R. A. A.