WHEN THE WORLD WILL BE WON

I will begin with a proposal I hope you will accept, namely, that it would be very good indeed if a substantial majority in every nation genuinely believed in and followed Jesus.  There are perhaps some who will read this and disagree, for a variety of reasons, but it is safe to assume that most of the readership of this article would be on board with this proposition.  If you are like me, you have sampled enough of Jesus to become convinced He is the best thing that ever happened or ever will happen to you and that there is no good reason to suppose that this would be true only for yourself or even for a limited number of people.

If you evaluate Jesus by the classic standards of “the true, the good and the beautiful”, He comes out far and away the best among all those who have ever bidden mortals to “come and follow” them, whether those were prophets, philosophers, teachers, scholars, politicians or scientists.  In fact, there is simply no one like Him in all of human history!  Let’s start with the standard of truth.  No one has made a higher claim than Jesus.  He claimed, in various, unmistakable ways, to be God incarnate.  This was a part of His claim to be the Messiah, for the prophets had foretold the coming of one who would be born a human child but would nevertheless be, the “mighty God” (Isaiah 9:6), whose birth would be in a lowly village but whose origin would be “from the days of eternity” (Micah 5:2).  This is an enormous claim and yet He made good on it through His fulfillment of ancient, detailed prophecies, public miracles, powerful teaching, selfless life, sacrificial death, crowned by His resurrection from the dead, all backed up by credible, eye-witness testimony.  Is there another like Him for satisfying our yearning for truth?  Not one!

As to the standard of goodness, I have already alluded to  the goodness He displayed during his earthly sojourn, but here I want to focus on the goodness of Jesus now available to all.  Jesus is not just an historical figure.  He promised to be with us always. (Matthew 28:20)  He promised to send the Holy Spirit who would continue to mediate Jesus’ presence with us to teach, comfort, empower and guide us. (Luke 24:26-29; John 14:16-22, 25-26; 15:26-27; 16:5-15; Acts 1:6-8)  This was dramatically fulfilled on the Jewish festival day of Pentecost, just fifty days following the beginning of the Passover during which Jesus died and was raised and just ten days following his bodily ascension into heaven before the eyes of his disciples.  After the Holy Spirit came, they were no longer timid but bold to share with the world the good news of Jesus even though it meant for them persecution and often, death.  I have myself tasted of this presence of Jesus with us by His Spirit and it has satisfied my soul beyond anything else in this world.

And what can be said about that final standard of value, beauty?  Beauty is the quality that attracts us and causes us to desire something.  There is no one like Jesus for beauty of spirit.  Yes, the prophecy about Him was certainly fulfilled:  “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” (Isaiah 53:2) This was particularly true as he hung upon the cross, battered and bloodied by his beatings and scourging.  Yet Jesus said, prior to his crucifixion but about it, “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.” (John 8:32) It is precisely that bloody sacrifice of himself for our redemption that draws us to Jesus, not only by itself but as it brings to a dramatic climax the self-giving of His entire existence.  It is the beauty of His holiness, when finally seen, that draws people to Him. So when such a person as this says, “Come, follow Me…” what on earth would prevent someone from taking Jesus’ hand and going with Him?!  Why do so many still resist Him?  They need to personally know people who have truly tasted of His truth, goodness and beauty and who can therefore extend a compelling invitation, like Philip of old: “Come and see!” (John 1:46)

To imagine a world in which the substantial majority of “every nation, tribe, people and language” (Revelation 7:9) believes in Jesus enough to truly follow Him, is breath-taking.  It would be a world without wars, in which cooperation for the common good would become common-place.  The problems of poverty, persecution and inequality would soon be overcome.  This little planet which has long suffered the ravages of greed and short-sighted misuse of its valuable resources, would be healed enough to provide for us the health God intended.  But best of all, it would be a world where every human life would be provided the maximum opportunity to know the love of God and be born anew to everlasting life!

Is such a thing possible?  It is not only possible but certain.  The same prophets who accurately foretold the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah also declared that His coming would be followed by the transformation of the world as more and more people willingly submit to His rule.  You may ask, “Where do you find that in the Bible?”  My answer is, “All over it, from start to finish!”  But just to offer a few for your consideration:  Genesis 12:3; 12:5; 22:18; 49:10; Psalm 22:14-18, 26-31; 110:1-3; Isaiah 2:2-4; 9:1-7; 11:1-10; 42:1-4; 49:5-7; 52:13-15; Daniel 2:34-35, 44-45; 7:13-14; Joel 2:28-29; Micah 5:2-5a, Zechariah 9:9-10.  Notice that all of these Old Testament prophecies are tied, implicitly or explicitly, to the Messiah’s first coming, not to His second coming which will occur at the end of this age.  Check out your study Bible’s cross-references of these passages to New Testament passages and this will become clear to you.

And how shall this come to pass?  Jesus gave His followers a task, to disciple all the nations of the earth. (Matthew 28:18-20)  This is a task which now could conceivably be completed within less than a single generation.  But it would require the beginning of a new “Great Awakening” among Christians based on a fresh understanding and experience of Christ’s powerful presence in our lives.  Then Jesus’ call that we be “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-16) will be fulfilled and multitudes will be drawn to the One who has so wonderfully satisfied our deepest longings.  So, let’s start the awakening now!  Let’s press in to truly experience what Jesus meant when He said, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in this good news!” (Mark 1:15)  And that is wonderful news indeed:  God’s kingdom of  “righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17) is now available to everyone through Jesus, His beloved Son!