30th December 2012

End of the World, Again…

“‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. … I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’”
John 14:27; 16:33 (NIV UK)

I find it incredible how some preachers manage to distort the Gospel. The word Gospel means “Good News” and good news is supposed to make you feel better. But the way some preachers explain the Gospel can leave you feeling hopeless and lost.

Fear is, of course, a motivator, and it’s possible to manipulate scripture into an intimidating doomsday message. That can certainly get some attention—at least, for a time. Predicting the end of the world can turn into quite the lucrative business. But when prophecies ultimately fail, do we hear those preachers apologise? No, we hear justifications and excuses as they try to maintain their authority by reigniting fear.

Remember Y2K? As the new millennium approached, there were dire predictions that many older computers could not process the date change from 1999 to 2000. This, it was suggested, would lead to catastrophic failures, and a world crisis. Many leading preachers jumped on that prophecy bandwagon. Computers crashing would signal the beginning of the tribulation, they warned. Some went as far as selling rations and water purifiers—encouraging people to stockpile propane and withdraw cash from their banks.

When the fateful moment arrived very little actually happened. The worst reports I recall were that 150 slot machines at a Delaware racetrack stopped working. In Australia, two bus ticket machines stopped working. The worst damage occurred in Germany where 20 million bankcards became unusable. The world as we know it kept going—no apocalyptic predictions came true. The doomsayers were shown, once again, to be false prophets.

The latest end-of-the-world obsession concerned the Mayan Calendar that ended a 144,000-day cycle this year on December 21, the day of the winter solstice. The number 144,000 sounds biblical, so the doomsayers are once again out there warning us to expect something drastic to happen. Unfortunately there will be some who were taken in by it. Fear, it seems, is never far away.

All this totally misses the point and the purpose of prophecy. As the angel explained to John in Revelation 19:10: “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (NIV 1984). And the testimony of Jesus is good news—of his salvation, forgiveness, and eternal life. This means that the Gospel is the true prophetic word.

So then, does the Gospel deny or overlook the “bad news” of our sin, the power of evil and its tragic consequences? No, it assumes it while never giving it centre stage—never lending it the upper hand—because Jesus himself is the first and the last word. Through his life of obedience, his crucifixion, his resurrection, his ascension—once and for all—evil ultimately has been conquered, sin is forgiven; death itself has been overcome. New life is at hand.

Hearing and receiving the Gospel urges us to repent of our unbelief—in the truth and reality of who Jesus is and what he has done. It is through repentance that we experience the faith, hope, and love of our Saviour. The Good News of Jesus, the Gospel; his prophetic testimony should never leave us quivering with fear. Instead, we are filled with great hope and peace that transcends our own understanding.

Prayer
Thank you, Father, that you are in charge and whatever happens to us, your children, we can be at peace. We grieve for many things happening in this world. We pray that your Gospel will go out in ever-increasing penetration to bring peace to the millions living in fear. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen

Study by Joseph Tkach

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