A Time of Testing & The Gospel
Updated: Apr 11
We live in a fallen world! In the first 3 months of 2020, there have been earthquakes, wars and rumors of wars, famine, and other devastating natural disasters, that have claimed the lives of many people.
On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that a pandemic had been unleashed into the world. After one day of data collection following the 2020 pandemic characterization, the President of the United States declared a national state of emergency, effective March 13, 2020. In order to slow the spread of the pandemic, various measures have been put into place, and each day - it seems - brings new change, and new information, with the same fixed question: "is it over yet?" Assertions as to "why" the pandemic happened, abound. Are we - as Christians - forgetting that we live in a fallen world? This world is saturated in sin and death, because of man's rejection of God's word. We are promised, by our Lord Jesus Christ, that the devastations that characterize the end of the age will be like the beginning of birth pains: they will only get longer, stronger and closer together, until the day that we are delivered from evil completely. Matthew 24:8.
"...are we forgetting that we live in a fallen world?"
The Message and Mechanism Does Not Change
Christians stand out in times of testing & trial, not because the Christian adjusts his or her message to appeal to the fleeting concerns of the culture - rather - a Christian's message is laser focused on the necessity of the forgiveness of sin! The Bible tells us that the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which saves one eternally, is shared through the mechanism of preaching God's word, explicitly. The Gospel is not communicated through our good works, because our good works do not save - rather - they give evidence for newness of life, in Christ. This is what contributes to the Christian being a peculiar people (Titus 2:14). The light that we have in Christ is that though we have sinned against God, in His grace and mercy, He sent His only begotten Son - Jesus Christ - to die on a cross for our sins; Jesus was buried, and was resurrected three days later, and His resurrection was witnessed by many people! We must repent and believe in the Gospel. This is the message that we communicate to the believing and the unbelieving amidst ANY and EVERY crisis: the power of the cross and resurrection. A clear and consistent presentation of the Gospel is the antidote to man's issues of fear, anxiety and depression. The Gospel message does not change amidst testing and trials, and neither does the mechanism: we must preach boldly, the truths of scripture. The body of Christ (that is each and every believer) is a testimony of the resurrection life and power, by faith in Jesus: every Christian has passed from death to life. We need truth, in times of testing and trial. We must consider if more attention is given to a specific trial, circumstance, or feeling than the truth of God's word. In the midst of trial & testing is the culture more concerned with messages of self improvement and good works, or doctrines of our faith, such as justification, regeneration, glorification, etc.? Good works should be maintained through times of trial, but the Gospel is of first importance! 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
A Great Testing
The world had evil in it before the 2020 pandemic and evil remains in the world, today - in fact - evil will remain until the day our Lord purges the evil from the earth! The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts. Proverbs 17:3. God searches and tests the heart, and Scripture simplifies our concerns, considerably! We go through trials, in order that our faith be found genuine, through testing! Gold and silver go through a similar trial to be shaped into the form that the creator desires: they must be placed in a crucible (container), and brought through the fires of a furnace. God gives us a new heart (and new spirit), and tests that heart through the difficulty of trials, in order that we may be shaped into the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. No matter the outcome in this life, we trust that God is good and that His plans for this world, and our lives, are better than anything that we can ever hope to project in our own imaginations. The heart is tested because it is a decisive factor in our salvation! The Bible says, "if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Romans 10:9. Both 'the confession' and 'the belief,' originate from the heart, for "...out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." Matthew 12:34 One's confession is a reflection of one's heart. Scripture records that through the Israelites 40 years of wandering in the desert, God tested their hearts, to see if they would remain faithful to his word:
"And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not." Deuteronomy 8:2
God does whatever pleases Him (Psalm 115:3, Psalm 135:6) and we must trust that His plan is greater than anything that we can possibly fathom. Therefore, we must let go of control, and trust God's word through times of testing. We are assured that patience, steadfastness, and perseverance will be produced through testing, that our faith may be found genuine.
Assurance Amidst Trial
Over 2000 years ago, Jesus prophesied that we would experience the events taking place today. Though it may seem like it has taken a long time, God is not limited by time. This is all the more reason, why we should share the truth with a sense of urgency. In one day, the culture of the world shifted. Normally, we would think that a cultural shift on a global scale would take thousands of years to transpire, but it is not so with the Lord:
"But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day." 2 Peter 3:8
God operates on His own timeline, and we must trust that He loves us, and is working the best possible outcome on our behalf, because of our righteousness, in Jesus Christ. We are bound by a timeline of 100 years, and God is eternal. If one thousand years' worth of change can happen in a single day, our hearts must be prepared for the coming of the Lord, because the day of the Lord will come like a thief: we will not expect it. God is concerned with our hearts, because it is with the heart that one's confession of Jesus's death on the cross originates, and it is with the heart that one believes that Jesus was raised from the dead, by the power of God, and this is what saves: this is of eternal significance. The Gospel is of first importance for us, because it is through the Gospel that people are saved! The 2020 pandemic is not new. The world had evils in it before, and the evils will continue until Jesus purges the earth of evil. Our message does not change amidst testing and trials, in fact, it should become more resolute:
'...“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”' Mark 1:15
Grace and Peace,