Friday, October 23, 2015

Establishing Evidence

“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a testimony unto all the nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14).
 
The word “testimony” in the above Scripture verse means “setting the evidence,” or as I put it, ESTABLISHING EVIDENCE.  Perhaps a onetime presentation of the evidence is sufficient to convince an individual, but for a nation, a more substantial and sustained presentation is required.  In fact, it takes “the pillar and support of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15) reality of an established corporate church presence to influence nations.

In the middle of WWII, T Austin-Sparks observed that most Christians throughout history thought their time was the most portentous, and certainly his time was especially portentous, but then he received a revelation that made him rethink his eschatology.  Rex G. Beck, in his biography of Sparks, recorded Sparks’ reaction to new light shed upon our text verse: “Sparks asked, ‘Is the church as it is “setting the evidence”?’  In order for the end to come we cannot merely look at the outward situation, no matter how drastic it may be.  God must have a testimony, a vessel to ‘set the evidence’ before the end will come.”  Beck went on to say that Sparks considered the churches of his time to be inadequate concerning setting the evidence and that “the Lord must therefore call out overcomers to meet His need.”

Notwithstanding this unfortunate reality, that “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” (Psalm 11:3), there has to be a solution.  Our time, like the time during the dark days of WWII, is portentous.  But I agree with Sparks, the black backdrop, “no matter how drastic it may be,” is not enough to warrant the end.  The end cannot come, nor can He return, until the church establishes justice in the earth.  And the gospel alone is that justice.  Our dilemma today is that (the foundations of society are destroyed); the foundations (plural) of society are used here (Psalm 11:3), not Christ the permanent foundation (singular).  Thus the backdrop of establishing Christ are these upheaved and toppled foundational support columns of human nature.  May the dilemma, however, give way to opportunity.  Indeed, the evidence is clear to every genuine child of God, but bouts with doubt and unbelief still plague too many of us.  We must make our calling sure if we are to be those overcomers Sparks spoke of.  Moreover, it will take a corporate body of overcomers—a corporate making of our callings sure—to convince nations concerning the truth—to establish justice—and to ultimately usher in the end.

Setting the evidence is establishing the evidence as absolute and unerring truth; “the church of the living God (not the dead church) is the pillar and support of the truth” (again see 1 Timothy 3:15).  One cannot, let alone many, hold out the weightiness of His Presence without an established and unified holiness of walk and talk; unification of diversity is a miracle only achieved by those who allow God to give them the same mind and character as Christ.  And the way into this established divine character is the way of suffering, and specifically, the suffering caused by the application of the cross.  For those who allow this, a promise: “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1 Peter 5:10).  And it is in these established ones, the overcomers, that truth permeates every atom of being; these, a corporate body of these, is what is needed in this hour.  Because a presentation of the living God is inherently permanent or timeless, the end can come when that fully matured presentation of the gospel is made.  Let us therefore, I pray, be those overcomers that make that presentation, and may our presentation destroy the works of the enemy by so largely and thoroughly presenting Christ that the promised destruction of the wicked by the brightness of His coming happens concurrently as we speak and act in accordance with the pure unadulterated gospel of Jesus Christ.