The Bible

The Word Of God—Today

"We have also a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts."—2 Peter 1:19

Part three in a four-part series on "The Word of God" originally prepared
as an audio-visual program for the 1992 International Convention of Bible Students in Poitiers, France.

"Let the little children alone—for of such is the Kingdom of heaven."

"In my Father’s house are many mansions . . . I go that I may prepare a place for you."

"Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

If the Bible is the Word of God, where is it today? We read about the Love of God in the Bible, but where is the evidence of this love in the world? We read about the Justice of God, but where are His judgments among men? We are asked to believe in miracles because we read them in a book. Why doesn’t God do some indisputable miracles, now, miracles on a scale that is worthy of God—like the widespread curing of cancer or the delivery of millions of children from starvation?

If the Word of God is true, why is it not more active in the world, now?

The Word Of God Is Active Today

We will try to show that the Word of God is very active in the world today. God is painfully aware of the suffering of all peoples, that though the world seems out of control, the troubled events of today are the necessary steps toward the peace and worldwide happiness of tomorrow.

Let’s start with miracles. 1900 years ago, at a time when legitimate miracles were common, the Word of God boldly predicted that special miracles would cease. (1 Cor. 13:8) In fact, the only prophecies of future miracles given in the New Testament describe miracles that will be performed by false teachers. Repeatedly, true believers are warned to be suspicious of miracles done in the name of Christ. (Matthew 24:24; 2 Thess. 2:9; Rev. 13:14; 16:14; 19:20).

There is not a single New Testament assurance that miracles, or special powers, would be an evidence that God is "with" believers. The only outward sign of authorization promised to believers is that they would find themselves learning how to love one another, and all men. And that this love would be so unusual as to attract attention (1 Cor. 13:13; John 13:35; 1 John 3:14). It is obvious that the number of people on earth who fit this description is just what Jesus predicted it would be: a "little flock" (Luke 12:32).

Preaching The Gospel

The followers of Christ were told to preach the gospel all over the world—as a witness to "all nations." The terms of this command have been met. Faithful Christians have introduced the Bible to over 500 people-groups around the world.

But were Christians told to expect the masses to hear the Gospel and be converted? Not at all! Christ predicted that the good seed he sowed would be almost completely overrun with weeds. He wondered aloud whether, when he returned, he would find any true faith in the earth. He compared the days of his return to the days of Noah, when preaching righteousness had no effect, and the people of the world at that time knew not that a great change was at hand. Instead, they went on with their own business until suddenly, the flood came.

The foretold dominance of unbelief, and the predicted lack of trustworthy miracles today, are themselves proof of the Bible’s reliability!

One reason why thoughtful skeptics assume that God is not active in the world, is that so many Christians keep on trying to "win the world for Christ"—and keep failing. Today, there are more Avon or Amway salesmen around the world than Christian missionaries! Soap and makeup we can sell—"salvation" can hardly be given away.

Unbelievers find it either amusing or irritating to watch modern evangelists straining, and pleading to get a few converts—all the time speaking as though these meager efforts are God’s attempt to reach the unsaved "before Christ comes." No wonder unbelievers are convinced that God is weak and uninvolved in human affairs!

The fact is, that though faithful Christians do preach, they should do so in dignified ways, and they should not expect to convert the world now. Bible prophecy predicts that in the next age, the entire earth will be converted.

"In that day, it will not be necessary to say to your neighbor, ‘know the Lord’—because they will all know me, from the least to the greatest. The knowledge of the Lord will cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea."

Perilous Times

A shortage of miracles and an abundance of unbelief. What else does the Bible predict for our day? Unprecedented anger and rebellion. It is fashionable, today, to complain about our rulers. But we should not blame them for all our woes. The Word of God described the "last days" as a time when the people of the world would be practically ungovernable. Men would be lovers of themselves; covetous, liars, boasters, despisers of those that are good, fierce; traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God, disobedient to their parents, unholy, unthankful, rebellious. And the masses of religious men at this time are described in the Word of God as having a form or ritual of piety, without the power of a renewed life.

But though the Word of God predicts these frightful times, it presents these troubles in a positive light. The unrest is not a sign of doom, but of the hand of God moving among men to bring to pass Jesus’ prediction that "the meek shall inherit the earth."

The Jubilee

The Jubilee is one of many Bible promises that God is a God of Freedom—that history should be viewed as the classroom God has provided to teach all people how to enjoy the benefits of freedom. Bondage to sin and death is merely a preparation for what the Bible calls "the glorious freedom of the children of God."

Since the time of the French and American Revolutions, the spirit of freedom has been heard around the world—but the concept of freedom was whispered into mankind’s ear by God himself, 3000 years before.

In the Law of Jubilee, God commanded that every 50 years the land be returned to the families to whom it belonged. All debts were cancelled, all slaves were freed, all people got a fresh start. Even the land had rest from cultivation.

It was a joyous time for those who had lost their land in the preceding generation—but a disappointment to those who had gained more than their share.

And so it has been in the century since the Law of Jubilee began its grand fulfillment. Native peoples are demanding their land back. Newcomers, who have put down roots on someone else’s land, don’t want to leave.

Women, who have been oppressed throughout history, began to ask for equality. But men, who sometimes confuse their God-given privileges of responsibility for the right to dominate women, have resisted the change.

Slaves cried out for their freedom from bondage and colonialism—but in many cases it has taken bloody wars to give it to them.

The French Revolution was described as a great earthquake—and the events which are shaking Europe in this century were described long ago as part of the greatest earthquake of all—a world-wide revolution and rebellion against every form of established authority.

Think back to just a century ago. Kings ruled by decree, bosses had unlimited power over their workers, fathers arranged marriages, people worked harder for less. Something has changed, and the Word of God tells us that God is quietly stirring up the hearts of men, making them hungry for the blessings He will soon bring to the world.

Of course, true freedom implies limitations. Make freedom absolute and it dies in anarchy. But the extremes of lawlessness and rebellion we see today are also clearly predicted in the Word of God. This is a valuable lesson. Mankind is learning that all the laws in the world cannot replace the simple law of God, written in our hearts.

The second man on earth asked God, "Am I my brother’s keeper?" God has answered Cain in His word, by telling us that we are our brothers’ keeper. And God has answered Cain through history, by demonstrating the consequences of hatred and selfishness.

Trouble In The Church

The Word of God described the rise of large institutional churches on the ruins of the Roman Empire. It predicted that they would prosper for more than a thousand years. The near-total ban of the Bible during that time is clearly foretold. The return of the Bible to worldwide prominence was also predicted, along with the date when that rebirth would begin: 1799.

The word of God predicted that many who claimed to follow Christ would be more concerned with money and power than obedience to the simple teachings of the Gospel.

The word of God predicted that the "weeds" that infest God’s church would be gathered into bundles—and that though there would be many different denominations of Christianity, God’s people would be individually known by Him — spiritually one body, even if unknown to each other.

The word of God predicted that the hand of God would be especially heavy on those Christians who boast loudly that they are God’s people, while failing to demonstrate the appropriate fruits.

And concerning the joining of churches into two great camps, the Word of God predicts that their practical union just before the end of their existence will be an uneasy alliance, motivated by self-preservation.

Gathering of The Nations

In ancient times, we read that God scattered the world (Gen, 11:1-9). And for most of man’s history they have remained scattered—isolated from one another by differences of geography, custom, and speech. But the Word of God declares that God is determined to gather the nations in the "last days." Are the nations being gathered?

The age-old expression, "it’s a small world," has new meaning today. It is now commonly said that we live in a "global village." East is intertwined with West. The North cannot live without the South. China still has its wall, but it cannot avoid trading with the West. Japan is no longer an island. The deeds of African elephant and rhinoceros poachers are the subject of international conferences. Europeans will die to keep Asians from killing whales. The entire world sends observers to an election in tiny El Salvador, and watches with bated breath to see how people vote in South Africa or Pakistan.

The nations have been gathered. For what? For the nations to feel the heat of God’s anger. Not that they will be literally destroyed—because the Word of God also states that God did not create the earth in vain. He formed it to be inhabited. After social structures are consumed by the intense probing of a righteous God, the people, we are told, will all call on the Lord, to serve him with one consent.

The prophet Daniel predicted that the time just before the full establishment of Messiah’s kingdom would be a great "time of trouble." He described it as a time of much running to and fro when knowledge would be increased.

Modern man tends to be filled with pride at the many inventions of our day. "Educated" people seem to think that the explosive growth of knowledge and travel in this century points to some evolutionary advancement of mankind. But since the technical knowledge of the human race did not significantly change for thousands of years prior to 1800, we suggest that God should be given the credit for advances in modern technology.

The Vision Lives—Outside The Church

The Bible describes in great detail the loss of power of the institutional churches which it criticizes for pragmatic cooperation with the kingdoms of this world. In the book of Revelation, this decline is signaled by a drying up of popular support.

And yet the Bible did not predict that the vision of a "Golden Age" would die. The vision of human potential burns brightly in the secular world.

God has opened the minds of man to the possibilities of human life. Two centuries ago, the masses of men were ground beneath the millstone of oppression. Today, most of them still are, but the full flower of human potential is now a vision before their eyes. People literally everywhere now aspire to the benefits that God created them to enjoy—not just transistor radios and designer jeans—but beauty, health, opportunity, knowledge, happiness, with liberty and justice for all.

The vision is beautiful, but its contrast to the sad facts of human experience today make it destructive to present society.

"Unless Those Days Were Shortened"

The Word of God boldly predicted that just before Christ takes control of human events, men will have it in their power to destroy the world. Imagine a writer whose only experience with weapons was spears and arrows, predicting that men would be literally able to destroy all flesh! And yet even this fantastic notion has been fulfilled in the frightful specter of "overkill." But God gave us His word that this power will not be fully used. The earth will not be destroyed, either by men or God.

The Word of God described a day when it will actually be possible for the entire earth to be conscious of a fact at the same time, a time when human knowledge will dramatically increase, when travel—and stress—will greatly accelerate. And yet though this is predicted to be a time of knowledge and invention, it is spoken of as a time when "darkness covers the earth, and gross darkness the people."

Yes, there is more darkness than light. In fact, the Word of God predicts that the era of Christ’s second coming will be accompanied by the energetic working of Satan—spiritual enemies of God and His people—who will be permitted to exercise all the power, and lies, and even miracles that they can muster, to deceive the world.

According to the Word of God, this increased conflict among competing spiritual forces is strong evidence that Christ himself is actively at work behind the scenes, breaking up Satan’s empire, and preparing to liberate mankind from the spirits that deceive them.

Avoid everything occult. Christ will not liberate you through spiritualism, theosophy, or the "New Age" teachings. Christ liberates today’s believers through the repentance and conversion described in the Word of God; and he will liberate tomorrow’s believers through the Kingdom of God, which he will establish throughout the earth.

Israel, The Harbinger Of Hope

Perhaps the most striking fulfillment of the Word of God have been the many prophecies of the rebirth of Israel. The Word of God had repeatedly declared that His people, Israel, would be dispersed among all the nations, that they would lose their temple, and their priesthood, and their national identity. It predicted that they would have bitter experiences during this dispersion.

The Bible did not authorize anyone to persecute the Jews. In fact, it promises direct punishment from God for anyone who harms the Jews or even curses them. But the Bible predicted clearly that they would be harmed by the rest of the world—scattered and in despair.

  • The Word of God predicted that the Jews would literally buy the land back. They have—paying for their beloved land in cash, sweat, and blood.
  • The Word of God predicted that under cultivation by the Jews, the wastelands of Palestine would blossom once again. And it predicted that during the time of God’s blessing to Israel, rainfall would increase. It has.
  • The Word of God predicted that Jerusalem would be a hotly-disputed territory. It is.
  • It predicted that the community of nations would become involved in that debate. It has.
  • It predicted that the reborn Israel would be a mighty military power. It is.

The Word of God predicted that Jews and Arabs would, after a stormy period, live together in peace. It hasn’t happened yet, but the Word of God said it, and it will come true.

And the Word of God predicted that after that peace is reached, a future attempt by many nations to attack and destroy Israel will be the trigger that brings God forward to declare his sovereignty. Finally, the mystery will be over.

The temporary nighttime of earth will end. The morning will come. Worthy people of God, tested and proven to be honest, humble, and compassionate, will become the leaders of earth.

Heaven will show its face, and open its hands to bless. The Golden Age will have come, and there is not a person who has ever lived who will be beyond the reach of the Redeemer of the world.

Moses gave Israel a test by which they could evaluate a prophet. If what he said came true, you can have confidence that he speaks the Word of God.

The Bible passes that test. It is verified by fossil evidence, historic data, and prophecy fulfilled both in time and precise detail.

The final test is a personal one: does the Word of God deliver on its promise to bring spiritual transformation to the lives of those who seek?’

That is its claim—and anyone who feels the hand of God is invited to put it to the test. There need be no blindness in an act of faith, only a solid foundation—the authority of the Word of God.