TOWARD A BIBLICAL OPTIMISM

PMW 2021-005 by Timothy M. Kucij

At the time of our marriage, many years ago, my wife and I made some promises to ourselves, each other, and to God. One of these promises was that we would read the Scriptures daily in a devotional setting. As we focused on the general tenure of Scripture it became evident that here was an optimistic book. Christ is pictured throughout as the conquering Savior with a promise of the ultimate triumph of His people and His kingdom on earth in this age.

Most of the outstanding characters of the Bible reflected this optimism, even in the darkest of times. In Noah’s day the earth was filled with violence and wickedness. Noah was commissioned by God to build an ark to save the human race and certain animals from impending disaster. It must be remembered that he was surrounded by a mass of godless unbelievers who would come and see his work, attracted by curiosity, and no doubt remain to scoff at him. Still his faith remained. He preached a positive message of victory from disaster.

Similarly, Joshua was a man who maintained unwavering faith in the most adverse times. He was one of twelve spies sent from Kadesh to view the land of Canaan. And while most of the spies lost faith, gave up hope, and issued a negative report, Joshua (along with Caleb) was firm in his faith and message of victory and triumph. Elijah too is an example of a man who faced a mass of doomsayers and false religionists, but stood firm in his convictions that God would give victory and triumph.

In the New Testament, Paul proclaims the conversion of the Jews through the agency of the gentile Gospel (Rom. 11:26-31). He envisions an exalted Christ who is King and Head “over all things” on behalf of the church (Eph. 1:19-23). Then he reaches a crescendo of triumphant praise concerning “the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power” as He leads us in the assault upon the powers and principalities.

Finally, the book of Revelation thematically portrays the conflict of the ages ending in ultimate triumph, paradise regained, and a new heaven and earth after a millennium of triumph for his saints on this earth.

Certainly, the Bible paints a message of hope and victory for the saints of God. But it has been my experience, by attending various churches and through reading literature, that the message which pervades Christendom today is not the same optimistic message of hope and victory portrayed in Scripture. Rather there seems to be a negative message of despair and gloom. In part this is due to the prevailing eschatology of our day. The church is seen as a loser. Christians are admonished to snatch a few for the kingdom before Christ comes in the clouds to “rescue” His church. The following statement by Klaas Runia in Christianity Today (June 19, 1970), page 13, illustrates this point:

“Why is there such a pessimistic vein in many sectors of evangelical Christianity? Is it because most of us are amillenarians or premillenarians? Is it because we expect the world to grow worse and believe we can do very little about it, apart from praying for the return of our Lord?”

Now when I first entered the ministry, I too held this view of eschatology. But as time went on and I dug deeper into the Word, I realized that this view was at odds with the scope and tenure of the message of the Bible. The prevailing eschatology teaches that the church age is only a “parenthesis” in God’s program for the Jews; if so, then certainly the centrality and importance of the House of God (church) is minimized. But Jesus said, “I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The New Testament sees the church on the offensive and ultimately in a victorious posture. Jesus commissioned His church to evangelize the world before He returns: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations: and then shall the end come” (Matt. 24:14).

As I have read various periodicals and attended numerous churches I am distressed to hear this message of gloom which is so at odds with the Bible’s positive, spiritually edifying, optimistic message of hope for the success of the churches on earth (see Isa. 2:1-5; 11:9; Eph. 3:10, 11). In contrast, the pervasive message today is really one of defeat and despair for the church in its role of witness to all the earth, while the message of Scripture is one of hope and victory (Acts 1:8).

Part of the fuel for the great awakenings in former centuries was the eschatology of the “latter day glory” then embraced. Under this influence in the mid-eighteenth century, for example:

“a number of worthy characters ran to and fro, through the eastern states, warmly exhorting to the prompt adoption of every measure tending to hasten that blissful period . . . One, and not the least sanguine, of these pious missionaries, was my venerable father . . . [whose] most sanguine expectation must have, so far, been fully realized” (Lives of Virginia Baptist Ministers, by James B. Taylor).

What a stimulus for preaching, and what success they had!


Calvin and Culture: Exploring a Worldview
Ed. by David Hall

No other Christian teachings in the past five hundred years have affected our Western culture as deeply as the worldview of John Calvin. It extends far beyond the theological disciplines.

See more study materials at: www.KennethGentry.com


The solution to this disparity is to not only reassess our eschatology in light of direct biblical teaching, but in all things to “be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment” (I Corinthians 1:10). The road to such a phenomenon is not easy. Individuals and individual churches must be lowly and meek in spirit (Ephesians 4:1-3) in order to come to a sameness of mind and judgment, with the same doctrine, principles, goals, concerns and vision. We have a mutual mission; we should optimistically anticipate a mutual victory!


Tim M. Kucij lives in Claremont, California, and has served as pastor and on staff at a number of churches through the years. He is a reformed, postmillennial Baptist. He is also a well known composer-arranger-pianist. He writes for the glory of God on Bach’s principle that all music should glorify God. His latest CD is “Kaleidoscope.” You may order his CDs from Amazon. His website is: timkucij.com

Source: Kenneth Gentry

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