From Gospel Translations
This is not the time for Christian timidity. This is not the time for Christian silence. This is not the time for Christian retreat. This is a time for Christian boldness. It is a time to speak.
Into a world that considers any exclusive truth claim to be the height of bigotry, we must lovingly speak that Jesus is “the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through [him]” (John 14:6).
Into a world that has rejected God’s objective meaning for marriage, opening the door to a wide range of perversities, we must lovingly speak that it was God who said, “a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5).
Into a world that has embraced the horrific lie that to kill a child is an act of compassion to his mother, we must lovingly speak that God alone has the right to give and take life and that we shall not murder (Job 1:21; Exodus 20:13).
Speak Sanity Into the Madman’s World
Into a world that has repressed the truth and asserted the glorious order and fine tuning of the universe, the biological richness of earth, and the rational mind of man to comprehend quasars and quarks are the products of eons of chaos, unintelligent macroevolution, and unimaginable odds, we must lovingly speak that “what can be known about God is plain to [us], because God has shown it to [us]. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So [we] are without excuse” (Romans 1:19–20).
A world that embraces the rejection of truth, the destruction of marriage, the extermination of the innocents, and the veneration of a mindless, value-less “creator” is the world of a madman. It is the devil’s playground (1 John 5:19). It is an insane nightmare.
But on “those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone” (Isaiah 9:2). The return to sanity, the end of the nightmare, is Jesus Christ, “the light of the world” (John 8:12).
And it is precisely when the dark descends that the light is most needed. We must shine the light.
Our Dishonor May Be God’s Answer to Our Prayers
We have prayed for Jesus to shine in this world. We have prayed for the completion of world evangelization. And now we in the West are seeing our societies grow increasingly hostile toward the gospel. Some of us are bewildered. Some are discouraged.
But we must bear in mind that God often answers our prayers in unexpected ways.
For what do we see in the New Testament? We see that human beings perceive the love of God in the gospel of Christ most clearly in this dark world, not through the prosperity of his servants, but through their suffering.
First, it was our Lord himself. The cross was the most evil and most righteous, most hateful and most loving, most profane and most holy event in all of human, indeed cosmic, history. Then the gospel began to spread to Samaria and all Judea and to other regions following the death of Stephen. Then the gospel spread through Asia Minor and into Europe through Paul and his band who suffered more than most of us can imagine (2 Corinthians 11:23–28).
Testifying and suffering — it is the motif of all of redemptive history. It is God’s chosen method to display his love and spread his gospel. The earliest Christians even rejoiced “that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name” (Acts 5:41).
That might seem strange to us Westerners. But that’s because we’re strange in redemptive history. Most of us have not had to endure dishonor for bearing the name Christian.
But we have prayed for the gospel to spread through our nations and the world. Looking at redemptive history, should we be surprised if God answers our prayers by counting us worthy to suffer dishonor for his name? What if the cross of our dishonor is a means to the salvation of millions?
Jesus did say, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). And he told us, “You will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. . . . And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold (Matthew 24:9, 12).
And Paul prepared us too: “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:12–13).
If It’s Costly to Speak, It Must Be Valuable
So what are we to do as increasing dishonor comes to us? We are to do just what the early disciples did: keep speaking. When the governing authorities charged them to stop preaching the gospel, the apostles replied, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19–20).
It is precisely when it is personally costly to speak, and we still speak, that people listen to what we have to say. When it’s costly to deliver a message, the message must be costly. For people only pay dearly for what is valuable. Paying dearly glorifies the valuable thing. And no message is more valuable than the gospel of Jesus.
So keep speaking. Relentlessly keep speaking. Relentlessly keep speaking, not to win a culture war, but to win souls. Relentlessly keep speaking to win souls because you love souls.
And as we keep speaking, we should not expect to measure our success by immediate circumstantial improvement. In our short-term context, the gospel may appear to lose ground and evil may appear to have the momentum. That is often how circumstances appeared to saints throughout history. But in fact, the gospel has only ever continually spread through the world, despite the mad devil’s best attempts to stamp it out.
So keep speaking the gospel. It is going to win. Jesus promised it would: “The one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:13–14).
Note this, we will have to endure. That means suffering and dishonor. But the gospel will be preached to the whole world.
God will answer our prayers, first by causing us to endure, and then bringing the end. Then Jesus will deliver the kingdom to the Father (1 Corinthians 15:24). And then, pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).