The Bright Lights of Dark Days
The recent arrest of Stephen Green, the director of Christian Voice, for handing out tracts containing verses from the Bible relating to homosexuality at a so-called “Gay Pride” event, is surely a sign of the times. Although Stephen was later released and all charges dropped for “lack of sufficient evidence,” it can hardly be doubted that we are now living in a manifestly post-Christian society. It appears there is hardly a residue of Christian influence left at the heart of government, as law after law flouts and tramples on God’s revealed law in Holy Scripture.
This state of affairs could unduly depress us. Certainly we should be deeply saddened, even angered, as we see all political parties vying to be the most “P.C.” It seems at times that every minority group is being catered for, no matter what they stand for, while evangelical Christians are increasingly marginalized, and even demonized. It is absolutely vital, however, that we do not forget at least three things:
1] First, our God is always at work. Our Lord Jesus declared to those who were persecuting him, “My Father is always at his work” (John 5:17). Nothing could give us more comfort than this. Not for one moment is our sovereign Father in heaven inactive or passively indifferent. He is always at his work, calling out a people to his praise, fulfilling his purposes, sanctifying his elect. However dominant evil appears, it (he) can never hinder our Father’s work.
2] Second, the gospel remains the power of God for salvation in bad times as well as in good times. This is one reason why Paul counselled Timothy to “preach the word in good times and in bad times” (2 Tim. 4:2). If the gospel is “the power of God for salvation”, and it is, then we should never be daunted by the powers of darkness. The gospel’s power is not dulled by prevailing wickedness.
3] Third, the state of society today is now little different from what it was in the first century when the gospel turned the world upside down. The early Christians faced a hostile, godless Roman super-power. We all know that many believers suffered the greatest indignities, even death, as they proclaimed the gospel of the grace of God in our Lord Jesus Christ. But they were undaunted and by the power of the Holy Spirit they saw the gospel flourish. John Knox had .a simple explanation for the remarkable “success” of the Scottish Reformation: “God used simple men, filled with the Holy Spirit.” Rather than bemoan our present times (though we should weep for our nation, for God is holy), we should pray that our gracious God would give to his church a double-portion of the Spirit and keep us faithful to our calling.
No matter how dark arid dire the present situation in Britain is, Christians can continue to rejoice. We are, says Paul, always being led “in triumphal procession in Christ” (2 Cor.2:14). We are on the victory side. Jesus Christ is Lord. To him, “every knee will bow and every tongue confess that (he) is Lord” (Phil.2:1O-11). The nations are his inheritance (Psalm 2). He will not lose one of those given to him by his Father, but raise them up at the last day (John 6:39). And, astonishingly, “we…are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory” (2 Cor.3:18). The present moral and spiritual darkness may be great, arid be yet even greater, but, “The Lord reigns, let the nations tremble” (Psalm 99:1).
Ian Hamilton is the Minister of Cambridge Presbyterian Church (www.cambridgepres.org.uk).
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