Nearly forty years ago, in his book The Church at the End of the 20th Century, Francis A. Schaeffer penned the following: “Does the church have a future in our generation? …I believe the church is in real danger. It is in for a rough day. We are facing present pressures and a present and future manipulation which will be so overwhelming in the days to come that they will make the battles of the last forty years look like child’s play.” During the past forty years, the church has seen many rough days, and I would venture to say that the signs of the times certainly seem to indicate that we are in for many more rough days during the next forty years.
Schaeffer was not a prophet, nor am I a prophet or the son of a prophet, and as Charles Haddon Spurgeon once said, “There are two great certainties about things that shall come to pass — one is that God knows, and the other is that we do not know.” It is true that we do not know all the truth about the future, but we do know the truth. It is the truth that abides within us, the truth that sanctifies us, the truth that makes us free, the truth that ensures our future. And although we don’t know the future, we know the One who sovereignly holds the future.
The Old Testament prophets were men who were called to stand between God and man. Even when nobody wanted to hear their God-ordained, Spirit-empowered message, they preached the truth. They were God’s ambassadors on earth who were commissioned by God to foretell the future and forthtell the hard truth of God’s eternal truth to His people. As such, they were men whom God made completely dependent upon Himself, so that in the midst of rough days they might live coram Deo, before His face, abiding in His truth and proclaiming His truth to the appointed generations of God’s people. And just as the young prophet Daniel resolved in his heart that he would not defile himself with the delicacies of the governing king of Babylon, so we must resolve in our hearts to proclaim the whole counsel of God’s truth, in season and out of season, being confident that no matter what comes our way in this world, Jesus Christ, the true prophet, has gained the victory, and we are more than conquerors in Him.
Dr. Burk Parsons (@BurkParsons) is editor of Tabletalk magazine, senior pastor of Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, Fla., and a Ligonier Ministries teaching fellow. He is cotranslator and coeditor of A Little Book on the Christian Life by John Calvin.