As I sit working on this article I am typing on my laptop computer scarcely larger than a fair-sized book. This little wonder has enough power and storage to contain all my research; all my articles from over twenty years ago; about thirty versions of the Bible; and millions of bytes of other material. Through its electronic mail and fax capabilities this little electronic book can flash a lengthy document around the world in a few seconds. I also have in my folder several small discs, each of which would almost fit into my shirt pocket. On each of these CD ROM discs, there is embedded fabulous amounts of information. For instance, one disc has 134,000 pages of theological documents, the equivalent of 1400 pounds of books. Another has the complete Encyclopedia Judaica. I cannot help but marvel at all this! Surely the prophecy of Daniel has come true right before our eyes, as knowledge has increased with dramatic intensity (Dan. 12:4). Daniel assures us that this is a certain sign that our age is about to end.
Knowledge is not just increasing, but it is taking a quantum leap. Let us go back to my tiny computer again. Since the stone age, men have written on different objects with charcoal or similar substances. The process has been improved over the ages. The Egyptians refined it with the use of papyrus as a writing material. Later, paper, pens, and even typewriters came along. Still, the principle was basically the same. Now suddenly we no longer need pens and papers. We can bounce electronic information off the satellites and send it around the world in a flash. We can store it electronically. Truly, there has been a basic change in the science of writing, and this is only one small area of progress today.
When we consider the rapid changes being made in technology of all kinds, it is troubling to realize that corresponding changes are not always going on in the spiritual realm of our Christian world. I visit many churches and am amazed that a lot of our congregations are still doing the very same things that we were doing when I was a child, well over a half-century ago. We often have the same programs; we talk about the same things; we have the same approaches, and yet the world around us has changed beyond recognition.
Is it any wonder that we Christians often feel alienated from our society; that pastors feel helpless? We are no longer relevant to the world around us. In a real sense, we are maintaining a “horse and buggy faith” in the midst of a space age. Now, please understand that I am not suggesting any radical change in our adherence to the tenets of our biblical faith and doctrines. I am suggesting a radical change in how these basic truths are understood presented and applied.
A FAITH OF DISCOVERY
Both Christianity and Judaism are faiths of discovery. Our present scientific age was launched from the matrix of these two faiths. In many cases Christians and Jews worked together to make discoveries. For instance, when the age of exploration began in the 15th and 16th centuries, Christians were often the explorers, but the Jews were the expert astronomers, builders of nautical instruments and map makers.
Perhaps it should be said at this point, that all of man’s discoveries are only God’s disguised revelation. Even some inventors in this scientific age have readily acknowledged this fact. When Samuel Morse invented the telegraph and the first message was sent between Washington and Baltimore, the message read, “What hath God wrought!” In days gone by, men were not afraid to give God the credit.
The great men of faith in the Bible were discoverers in the spiritual sense. Noah learned from God about an approaching flood. The world had never seen such a thing. Yet God gave him the plan, program and technology to preserve the human race from disaster. Centuries later, Abraham believed, and was able to announce to the world, the astonishing fact that there is only one God. We cannot possibly realize what earth-shaking information this was. At the time, virtually everyone believed that there were many gods – hundreds of them. Abraham also knew that God would bring from his own loins a saving nation on earth; that the deliverance of the human race would come through his seed, Israel. Abraham acted upon his revelation to bless all people.
I think of other great discoverers in the Bible. In a day when it was unheard of even to consider such things, the Apostle Paul realized that the Gentiles were to be fellow-heirs with the Jews in God’s great plan of salvation (Eph. 3:6). He launched out on his vision to take the gospel to the Gentile world. It was a mystery that had been hidden for ages, but Paul searched out its meaning and was amazingly effective in the accomplishment of this ancient plan.
Of course, Christian history has other notables who have dared to get out of the religious ruts. Martin Luther realized that long hidden truth that “…the righteous will live by his faith” (Hab. 2:4). He launched out on his vision and brought about the Reformation of the 16th century. We can readily think of other bold men and women who have launched out to found the modern missions movements, the worldwide evangelism movements, and other great outreaches of our time.
THERE IS MUCH MORE OUT THERE
The scriptures tell us that there is much more available for us all. God’s people are meant to be the world’s greatest scientists, discoverers and achievers, at least in the spiritual sense. We are to read God’s word and meditate upon its deep secrets. We are to receive his special revelation through the Spirit, and then we are to act upon these things to bless the world. We should not be waiting to be blessed with the world’s latest discovery, such as some newfangled computer program. Instead, the world should be waiting to be blessed with our latest “discovery” about God and his great salvation.
The writer of Hebrews challenged the lethargic church in his day to come out of the ruts. He said to them, “Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity….” (Heb. 6:1). We need to hear this message again. Too many Christians are struggling with the same old things they were struggling with twenty or thirty years ago. No wonder Christianity has become boring, and that millions of Christians sit in pews each week half-asleep, wishing they were someplace else. The Bible says: “Where there is no vision, the people perish….” (Prov. 29:18 KJV).
What else does the Bible say? It says that if we ask, it will be given to us (Mt. 7:7); that if we seek for the knowledge of God as we seek for gold, then it will be ours (Prov. 2:4-5). The Bible assures us that God is willing and able to increase our knowledge in any area if we but ask (Jas. 1:5). The Bible assures us that when we seek the Lord with all our hearts we will find him (Jer. 29:13). The truth is that all the secrets of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in a person – in Jesus Christ (Col. 2:3). God’s word declares that “‘…No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’ — but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God” (1 Cor. 2:9-10).
Imagine that! The revelation available to the least Christian on earth today is far beyond the minds of the world’s most distinguished scientists, inventors, philosophers and thinkers. Perhaps this is part of the reason why the Bible says: “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed” (Rom. 8:19). The whole world is literally waiting on tiptoes for us to become what we are destined to be in the Messiah.
ISRAEL HOLDS THE KEY
Long ago God revealed to Abraham his great plan, that all peoples would be blessed through him (Gen. 12:3). God has never changed his plan. This plan has been partially fulfilled as men everywhere have accepted Israel’s Messiah and his salvation. But there is much more. God is not finished with Israel, and he is not finished with us. The Bible assures us that this people (Israel) will show forth the Lord’s praise (Isa. 43:21); that they are a special people, above all people on the face of the earth (Deut. 7:6). Before history ends, all nations will flow to Jerusalem to worship the true God (Rev. 15:4). Men will even cling to the garments of Jewish people and beg them for help in seeking God (Zech. 8:23). No, the church will never understand itself apart from Israel. Indeed, it is grafted into Israel and truly an integral part of that nation (Rom. 11:17). It is likely that the lack of understanding about Israel today is keeping many congregations in the spiritual
We know from the New Testament that incredible developments will take place as Jew and Gentile become one in the Messiah (Eph. 1:10;2:14). All this is prefigured for us in the stories of Rahab, Ruth, Joseph, and others in the Old Testament. From the astounding spiritual developments that are coming, there will be a victory over death and its ravages (Rom. 11:15). Think about that! How the world would run after a wonder drug that would do away with death. Yet, from Zion such a thing will happen in God’s time. The whole earth will be perfectly administered from Jerusalem and will flourish under the Messiah’s rule (Isa. 2:2-4). The day of corrupt politics and politicians will be over forever.
There will be a permanent solution to war, poverty, injustice, and many more things that plague our world. There will be perfect peace in the natural world insomuch that “The wolf will live with the lamb… The infant will play near the hole of the cobra…” (Isa. 11:6 & 8). These are only a few of the astounding developments that await us in the spiritual realm. We might even say that the spiritual realm, as is delineated in the Bible, is the last great frontier of this world. I personally feel that believing men and women will have a vital part in bringing these wonderful developments to the world.
As always, God is looking for people who are willing to go against the tide, to break out of the deadly ruts and believe him for great spiritual accomplishments. When I think along this line, I always remember the words of that popular song entitled “The Quest,” from the musical, Man of La Mancha. The lyrics, written by Joe Darion, sound almost like a sermon. They go like this:
To dream the impossible dream,
To fight the unbeatable foe,
To bear with unbearable sorrow,
To run where the brave dare not go;
To right the unrightable wrong,
To love pure and chaste from afar,
To try when your arms are too weary,
To reach the unreachable star.
This is my quest to follow that star
no matter how hopeless, no matter how far,
to fight for the right
without question or pause,
to be willing to march into hell
for a heavenly cause;
And I know if I’ll only be true
to this glorious quest,
that my heart will lie peaceful and calm
when I’m laid to my rest.
And the world will be better for this,
that one man scorned and covered with scars
still strove with his last ounce of courage
to reach the unreachable stars.
– Jim Gerrish
This updated article is presented courtesy of Bridges For Peace, Jerusalem. Original publication date, 1995.