Does timing of the Second Coming depend more on what God does or what Satan does? Is the world's end foreshadowed more by increase of evil or increase of good? How bad (or how good) must it get before Jesus comes back?
We noted in last month's editorial that Jesus spoke of various signs of imminence, but that the one He considered most significant was the preaching of the gospel to all the world (Matt. 24:14). In emphasizing this sign, He challenges us to focus our attention on His triumphs instead of Satan's. If we will focus our eschatological preaching on God's work instead of Satan's, we will escape the label of doomsayers and regain our proper standing as bearers of good news.
Admittedly it is sometimes easier to notice the gaudy workmanship of the archdeceiver than to ferret out the quiet working of the Holy Spirit. But there are evidences, positive points worth dwelling on, that can give courage to our souls and point our listeners to God's power instead of Satan's.
A great place to start telling of God's triumphs today would be to point to the success of combined lay/pastor evangelism in fields like Latin America and the Far East. Not only are these stories compelling evidence of God's working, but they also paint a picture of what a person who believes in the soon return of Jesus should be doing.
But God's Spirit is not confined to working in only a few places. There is much more that we can say. As we view the world scene today, several major trends and situations are opening doors that have long been shut against the spread of the gospel. Among these I would list:
1. The increasing awareness in the world of the bankruptcy of the atheistic political system that only a decade ago seemed to many intellectuals to be the most viable hope for the future. Related to this is the new freedom granted to Christians in China.
2. The desire of the elite of almost every developing nation to learn English, the very language in which our church is best equipped to produce workers, opens the door for contact with thought leaders worldwide.
3. The progress we are making in spreading the gospel where we don't even have missionaries or members through Adventist World Radio and other media outreach. Our new radio station on Guam will count over half the world's people in its potential audience.
4. The success of the One Thousand Days of Reaping.
5. The famine and refugee situations that have disrupted millions from their human security and put them where the church could minister to them. While it may seem harsh to view disaster as opportunity, surely those who find eternal life because disaster disrupted their temporal life will praise God eternally. Related to this in the United States is "Reaganomics," which looks to private groups and churches to pick up the slack left by cutting back on government aid to those in need.
All of these are positive signs worth dwelling on as we seek to point people to God's work instead of Satan's. Dwelling on Satan's work makes us want to hunker down in our own safe little homes, sheltered away from evil's marauding menace. Dwelling on the positive signs will challenge us to reach out and win the day for the Lord.
It's time to catch and share a vision of what God can do in this hour of opportunity. It will take courage and myriads more of dedicated workers to march through the doors that have swung open. But isn't it time for God's people to march to the drumbeat of faith instead of fear? How much better must the opportunities be before we seize them and do the work God has given us? How good must it get?--K.R.W.