Does your attitude affect how you live? Most Christians I know seem to have a rather pessimistic attitude, I find it even in myself, possibly this stems from our expectation of the end of the world. But no matter what your view of the end times, we live in a culture which has been so saturated by defeatist thinking that we don’t even know it anymore. Every year there are people out predicting the end of the world really soon (tip, if someone tell you a specific day that they think Christ will return, the only thing you can know for sure is that He won’t return on that day cf. math 24:36).
But before this article turns into a rant about eschatological (end times) views let me turn your attention to a Scripture the Church would do well to meditate on, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands” (Revelation 7:9; emphasis added- ESV). That is alot of people, more than perhaps is currently saved. Most Christians seem to be doing ministry, but the greatest expectation is for the swift return and judgement of the Lord, and this is a good attitude to have, and one that must never be lost, we should wake up every day and say, “Perhaps today” (1 Tim 4:8). However do we really expect entire cities to repent (Jonah 3)? Or are we just waiting for the judgement? Our hearts should be split in two, one longing for Christ to return and the Kingdom to be consummate, but the other longing for our time now to look more like the consummate kingdom (what it will look like in the new heavens and new earth) than it already does.
If we read the book of Revelation in the way it should be read (sections which recapitulates the same story, instead of as a constant chronological future predictor), don’t we see God’s judgement on evil throughout history? Think of the gospel victories that have been won in the secular realm even: the emancipation of slaves brought about by William Wilberforce; the advance in medicine, science and religious liberty brought about by the Reformation; the rights of women and children brought about by much of the evangelical influence in the world; administration and civil order brought about by the Christian influence in the British commonwealth (this is not to say that the British were innocent in there colonialism, however even the results of common grace have benefitted the world), I could go on. Furthermore if one considers the number of countries where persecution occurs in this world, the number is definitely on the decrease, at this stage in history I would venture to say that there are far less countries where persecution occurs than any other time.
If all of Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah before Satan was bound (Revelation 20), how much more now after the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, should we anticipate the conversion of millions of souls? Sure there are mitigating factors against this, the emergent movement, what’s left of the seeker-sensitive movement, the health-wealth and prosperity cult and others all serve to destroy the gospel from within the so called church, however, we have been promised that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church (Matt 16:18).
In theology we talk about the ‘already and the not yet’, so for example a believer is declared to be perfect already, though he is not yet perfect in reality. The same goes for the doctrine of the kingdom, we are not yet what it will be like in the eternal state, yet we already have something of the kingdom. I believe that and pray that there will be a greater similarity between the ‘already and the not yet’ than any of us are thinking. And so should churches return to expository preaching, and believers live lives of risky faith for the sake of the gospel what wonderful things could we see? What tastes of the age to come could we enjoy, that will warm our hearts for its consummate form in heaven? Pray believers, witness Christians, stand for the truth Church, and rest in God’s sovereign grace, for it is Christ who stands in the midst of His Church (Revelation 1:12-13), and He goes forth to conquer (Revelation19:11-16)