The Christian’s Social Calling
The question of the Christian’s social calling is a timely and pertinent one. There is no single subject which captures the attention of the Church quite so much as this problem of the Christian’s responsibility toward the social problems of our time. The subject has been on the agenda of the Church’s discussions for many years and there has been considerable opportunity to ponder the whole problem and to search the Scriptures to find the answers which Scripture provides.
We must, from the outset however, limit our subject. There is, among us, general agreement that the Church as INSTITUTE has no specific calling in this respect. This is not the opinion of much of the Church world, for many denominations and ecumenical organizations have become little more than social agencies. But this is addressed to a more conservative audience — an audience which is quite agreed that the institute of the Church has no such calling. To her has been committed the task of preaching the gospel, administering the sacraments and exercising Christian discipline.
The question we shall face is the individual Christian’s responsibility in this respect. Does the individual child of God, either as an individual or in the company with other saints of like faith, have social responsibilities? Is it proper, according to Scripture, to form organizations in the organic manifestation of the life of the Church for the purpose of engaging in social action?
The more one ponders these questions, the more one is forced to the conclusion that these problems are most closely connected with the truth that the Lord Jesus Christ shall return upon the clouds of the heavens.
The relation between these two subjects may not be immediately obvious to you, but if you think about it a bit, I am sure that you will see that these two matters cannot possibly be separated from each other.
In the first place, many who strongly advocate Christian social involvement almost always fall into the error of post-millennialism. That is, the error of teaching that the Kingdom of Jesus Christ is realized here in this present world by a slow but steady process of social, economic and political evolution. We must look therefore, for the realization of the Kingdom of Christ here in the midst of this present world. In fact, it seems almost as if there is something inevitable about falling into the error of post-millennialism when speaking of the Christian’s social calling. We shall have to look at this matter a little bit more closely in the course of our discussion tonight.
In the second place however, we believe that the Lord is coming back again and that the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ will mark the end of this present age. And we believe that Scripture enjoins upon us with utter seriousness our calling to live in the midst of the world from the principle of hope. Hope is not something incidental to our calling; hope is not something which is added to other callings which we may have; other tasks which are assigned to us by God. But hope lies at the very center of our calling. All our life must be lived out of the principle of hope in the coming of Christ.
The apostle Peter is at great pains to point out to us and the church of all ages that to live out of the principle of hope necessarily implies to walk in the midst of the world as a pilgrim and a stranger. In fact his letter is addressed to those in the midst of the world who are sojourners. Now this has a great deal to say about the question of Christian social involvement. If at any time such Christian social involvement requires of a man that he forsake his pilgrimage, his spiritual pilgrimage, he has become unfaithful to the Word of God and unfaithful to his calling to represent the Kingdom of Christ. Whatever now may be the answer to the question, “What is the calling of the Christian with regard to social problems?”, that answer must be made in the light of the fact at the child of God is first and foremost a pilgrim and a stranger in the earth.
Bearing this in mind, I have chosen for the subject of tonight’s speech, “Our Social Calling and the Return of the Lord.” First of all, I want to spend a little time making an analysis of some present trends of thought in connection with this problem. Secondly, I want to discuss specifically the relationship between our calling in this regard and the Lord’s coming. And finally, I shall conclude with some observations which hopefully will tie up the loose ends and point to some specific answers to these.
Current Trends of Thought
First of all then, I want to spend a little bit of time with you discussing some current trends of thought with regard to this matter of our social calling.
First of all, of course, it is characteristic of ecclesiastical and theological liberalism to place all emphasis upon the social calling of the individual Christian and of the Church as a whole. In increasingly greater measure the Church of today has forsaken her heritage, has sold her spiritual birthright for a mess of worldly pottage and has, to the destruction of the church, given herself over almost entirely to social calling. This is liberalism; this is modernism. It is based upon the fundamental principle that all men in the world are united in a common brotherhood under a universal fatherhood of God. And it is a view which the Church today takes at the cost of the truth of the fall into sin, of the atonement, and of salvation in Jesus Christ. I only want to mention this in passing in order to remind you of the fact that this is becoming increasingly characteristic of the Church, not only of the church which is on the fringes and on the periphery of the ecclesiastical world, but even of the Church which goes under the name “Reformed”.
These modernistic, liberalistic tendencies are to be found very, very close to home. For example, in the World Council of Churches and in the National Council of Churches in our own country. The only discussions and decisions emanating from these bodies have to do with social issues.
But there is another tendency today; another trend with respect to this matter of social calling which is increasingly characteristic of Reformed thinking. I refer to what is sometimes called “kerygma” theology. I am not sure whether you are acquainted with that term. There is increasing emphasis today, especially in Reformed circles on what is called the kerygma. Now the word “kerygma” means simply, “preaching”. But when it is put into the context of today’s thinking within Reformed circles, then the idea is that the Scriptures themselves are kerygmatic in character. That means that the Scriptures, on the one hand, do not concern themselves with objective, specific, concrete statements concerning the truth of God. Those who maintain that the Scriptures are kerygmatic maintain also that the Scriptures are not interested in giving to us objective truths concerning God and concerning His works. All that the Scriptures are interested in is to bring God and man into (to use their own terminology) confrontation.
The Scriptures are a vehicle to bring God and man into confrontation with each other. The Scriptures, in other words, have nothing to say about Who God is, about His attributes, about the works which He performs, about His counsel. All that the Scriptures are, are some kind of means employed by God to bring man face to face with God within the situation in life in which man finds himself. God speaks through the Scriptures not concerning Himself, but God speaks through the Scriptures addressing man in such a way that the Scriptures urge man on in his calling in the situation in which he finds himself in the midst of the world.
Now it’s this kind of a view which has become, especially in reformed circles, the undergirding thesis of Christian social involvement. This is for example, the position that is taken by Dr. Kuitert in the Netherlands. In his book, which some of you may have read, “Do You Understand What You Read?”, he insists that the Scriptures are never intended to be a means of revealing to us anything about the truth of God. They are only intended to bring us into confrontation with God in our present existential situation in order that we may know how to act in the midst of the world in relationship to the social problems which surround us. This is also the view of the organization known as the A.A.C.S., the Association for the Advancement of Christian Studies, which formerly went under the name of the Association for Reformed Scientific Studies. This is the organization, by the way, which is laboring among other things, to establish a Christian University in Toronto, Canada. And this is also the view which underlies, basically, the philosophy of Trinity College which works very closely with the leaders of the A.A.C.S. movement.
A few quotes will demonstrate the truth of this. Both of these quotes are taken from a book which is titled “Understanding the Scriptures”, a book which was authored by Drs. De Graaf and Seerveld.
“What we have to avoid at all cost, if Biblical living is to be meaningful living, is on the one hand to DETERMINE the full AUTHORITY of the Bible and on the other hand to REDUCE the Word of God to a SET of truths; a COLLECTION of infallible PROPOSITIONS.”
“The Bible is not to be read as a collection of propositional statements about God and man that we can memorize and master. Neither does it contain general truths that we could possibly consider apart from their meaning for our own lives.”
Now the point which these men are making is that the Scriptures are not intended to give to us statements of fact concerning God, concerning man, or concerning any truth of God and man; rather, the Scriptures are only intent on bringing to us some kind of spiritual confrontation with God which will make us act socially in the midst of the world. I consider them to be a very serious and dangerous and evil conception of the Word of God. And it’s precisely because of the fact that this view lies so close to home that I want to spend just a few moments discussing it with you tonight. These men who promote this view, this so-called “kerygma theology”, speak therefore of the fact that this confrontation which Scripture affects, necessarily results in, what they call “Christian communal social action”. And they consider this matter of “Christian communal social action” to be the chief, if not the only calling of the child of God in the midst of the world. Hendrick Hart, for example, who is professor in the University being formed in Toronto, writes this in his book “The Challenge of Our Age”:
“From that it follows that learning to live Biblically in our age is first of all learning to live in terms of organized Christian action. Those who have been confronted with this and still keep stressing in principle the primary need for individualistic witness within the secular structures, without assuming reformational responsibility toward the latter, grieve the Holy Spirit and deny the power of the kingdom of THIS world.”
Hart takes the position, therefore, that if this divine confrontation does not result in organized Christian social action, the Christian becomes guilty of the very, very grievous sin of grieving the Holy Spirit and denying the power of the kingdom in this world. The result therefore, of God’s confrontation with man is social calling; and this about sums up what the Christian’s calling is in the midst of life.
But it is precisely from this view that there has also been developed in these circles a very strange and a very peculiar view of the Church Institute. These men speak of the fact that Christian communal social action involves setting up separate Christian organizations in each sphere of life. A separate Christian political party or separate Christian labor union, separate Christian Schools, (which, by the way, these men insist must not, at all costs, be parental schools,) and also along with these other separate Christian social entities, the Church as institute must be established. In other words, the Christian functions in all of these separate Christian organizations. The Christian functions in a Christian political party, in a Christian labor union, in a Christian school, and in the Church Institute; and all of these Christian organizations are placed on a par with the Church Institute so that the Church Institute becomes really only one organization among many others in which the Christian involves himself in some kind of action in the midst of the world.
If you ask the question, “What specifically is the unique role of the Church Institute?”, then the answer to that question is: the Church Institute has only one calling and that is this; to inspire the people of God to get busy in work in separate Christian action. That is all that the Church Institute does. Its calling is limited to give inspiration to God’s people to involve themselves in communal social action. I quote again from Hart’s book:
“Learning to live biblically in a secular world means learning to give full and active support to Christian education, Christian political action, Christian labor activity, Christian everything; and learning to understand the church-institute as the organization which is called upon to promote each support concretely and authoritatively in the name of Christ.”
That is the role of the Church Institute; to promote separate Christian action. Beyond this the Church Institute has no calling. In fact, so integrally is this view interwoven with their whole conception of things that it becomes increasingly apparent that those who speak in terms of separate Christian action are almost ready to abandon the Institute of the Church altogether. After all, if the only function of the Church Institute is to give some kind of inspiration to people to press on in a communal social calling, are there not other agencies which are equally as effective at giving this inspiration as the Church Institute? Hart, for example, says in his book “The Challenge of Our Age,”
“The exercise of the faith in the home is of extreme importance and perhaps the only means of recovering a life close to the Scriptures.”
He suggests therefore, very strongly, that really we don’t even need the Church Institute, that perhaps it is preferable that we learn to live a life close to the Scriptures in the home and that the home therefore, can function as an adequate instrument to inspire the Christian in his social involvement.
In addition to this and closely connected with all of this, the A.A.C.S. and those who are teachers in Trinity College come perilously close to post-millennialism. I quote, for example, from a speech made by Dr. McIntire; a speech entitled “The Forgotten Art of World Shaking”. He writes as follows:
“Our association works for nothing less than the reformation of learning and, in turn, of North American culture…as the Lord grants, A.R.S.S. advanced education will send throughout all of North America the world-shakers and history-makers in every facet of life, Christian men and women who will turn the world upside down for the Lord God.”
If that isn’t post-millennialism, then I don’t know what post-millennialism is. And I say again, that it seems as if there is almost something inevitable about post-millennialism following from any views of Christian social calling.
It is not hard to criticize this position taken by these men. In the first place, let me point out briefly to you that they have a very loose and un-Reformed view of the Holy Scriptures. Finally they come to the point where the Holy Scriptures are denied as being the infallible record of the Word of God. This is no wonder of course, if Scripture does not reveal to us objective truth, objective truth concerning God as He is in Himself. In that case, it stands to reason that the Scriptures cannot be the infallible record of the revelation of God either. This is, by the way, why these men are so intent on abandoning our creeds. They do not want our creeds to function in any other sphere of life for the Christian but in the sphere of the Church. Our creeds must be limited to use on the pulpit and perhaps to the catechism class, but our creeds must not be carried with us into our life and calling in the midst of the world so that our creeds become, for example, the basis for the teaching in our Christian day schools, or the basis for our walk of life in the midst of the world in all of life’s relationships. They do not want that. And they do not want that quite obviously because our creeds speak very clearly of objective truth. They speak very emphatically of the fact that Scripture teaches objective truth concerning God, concerning His Being concerning His attributes, His counsel, and His works which He performs.
In the second place, they take a very wrong and very deprecating view of the Church Institute. Fundamentally they lose the Church Institute, the Church as it is called by God to preach the gospel, to administer the sacraments and to exercise Christian discipline. They do this because they have a wrong conception of the relationship between the Church and the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
And so, almost inevitably, they corrupt the idea of the return of the Lord.
I want to warn you against these views. I consider them very serious. And if these views are adopted by us, or if these views influence us, I assure you we will lose our heritage. There isn’t any question in my mind at all about that. Watch out for these things. They are very pernicious. And they are subtle in a way, because they sound so Reformed. These men speak at length about reformational thinking, reformational activity, and reformational calling. But it is a denial of all that we hold dear.
Relationship Between Our Social Calling and the Lord’s Return
What is the relationship between our social calling and the Lord’s return?
There are several truths which underlie the answer which we must give to this question. In the first place, if we are to take this whole matter seriously, we must, above all else, take seriously the matter of sin. And, in connection with the whole question of sin, we must take seriously the question of sovereign predestination. This is not something which we drag in by the back door in order to give to this whole question some kind of coloring. This is essential to the problem. The point is this: that in the context of sin, of a sinful world, of a world of depraved, totally depraved people, there is no solution to the world’s problems. There cannot be. These problems have their origin in sin. They are conceived, as it were, in the womb of sin and they are brought forth by means of sin, and they exist because sin is an ever present reality in life. This is precisely why all the world’s attempts to solve these problems are necessarily going to make these problems worse.
Take the question of race relations if you will. The solution to the problem was supposed to be integration. What has the last ten years accomplished along the lines of solving the racial problems of this country by the key of integration? It has made matters worse, has it not? Racial tensions today are infinitely worse than they were ten years ago. That is not strange. We ought not be surprised by this because these problems arise from sin. There is no solution to them in the context of sin. And any solution which men attempt will inevitably result in a worsening of the problem. And that will continue.
In the second place, we know from Scripture that it is the Lord’s purpose, in the midst of the history of this world, to save only a remnant. The Church is always, to use the graphic and dramatic words of Isaiah, “A hut in a cucumber patch, a besieged city. If the Lord of Hosts had not left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as unto Sodom and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.” We know that. We know therefore, that as far as the majority of the world’s population is concerned, there will always only be efforts to solve these problems in the context of sin. And that will prove wholly unsatisfactory.
In the third place, because sin lies at the roots of all social problems, the ultimate solution to these problems is the Cross. That is where all the social problems are resolved, because that is where atonement was made for sin. That is where sin was defeated, where the power of sin was destroyed. But because the solution of those social problems is in the Cross, the solution to those social problems is limited therefore, to those for whom Christ died. That is, the solution to those problems is to be found within the context of the Church of Jesus Christ. There those social problems do not exist; there is no problem of poverty in the Church. There is an office of deacons to take care of that problem. There is no problem of juvenile delinquency. There is, but it is taken care of through the preaching of the Word and through Christian discipline. And that is because, within the Church of Jesus Christ, sin is taken away and the unity of the Spirit prevails, the unity of the Body of Christ. There is the solution to the problems that afflict our age!
Now, outside of the Church, you can’t possibly expect to find solutions to these problems unless, of course, you want to adopt some kind of universal atonement and universal brotherhood of men. But then you are with the modernist of course.
In connection with this stands the truth of the antithesis. I am aware of the fact that those who plead for what they call Christian communal social action talk a lot about the antithesis. They talk about the fact that, after all, finally the expression of the antithesis comes precisely through separate Christian organizations. But I want to remind you of the fact, although I have no time to go into that in any kind of detail, that the antithesis is created by God Himself. That needs emphasis. We do not make the antithesis. We cannot create the antithesis. No matter what I do, no matter how hard I try, no matter what kind of action I may engage in, I can not create the antithesis! And those who talk about Christian communal social action talk precisely in those terms, that by means of forming these separate organizations, we create the antithesis. That is not true! The antithesis was spoken of in Paradise already to our first parents. God very emphatically said to them, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed.” God through Christ creates the antithesis. It’s there, whether you and I like it or not. It’s there. And it’s there, rooted in the sovereign universal rule of Jesus Christ. It’s there in the rule of Jesus Christ because Christ rules over His people in such a way that, by the power of His grace and the power of His cross, He makes them the willing subjects of His Kingdom. He rules over the world in such a way that under His sovereign rule all their evil, all their sin, all their rebellion simply serves the purpose of the realization of His Kingdom at the end of time. “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? the kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord, and against His anointed… He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh.” That’s terrible! The worst thing that can ever happen to a man is that the Lord laughs at him. The God of Heaven and earth laughs at him. That is frightening! But He does, and He laughs at them because with all their rebellion, they serve the realization of His counsel. It is in that truth that the antithesis is rooted.
This antithesis comes especially to manifestation in the life of men in the world with respect to their view of the future. The antithesis stems from, and is rooted in the rule of Christ and is created by Christ. The result of it is that the antithesis comes to expression in our lives in this respect: we who are under the sovereign rule of Christ in such a way that we are the willing citizens of His Kingdom, seek the Kingdom of Heaven; while the world, who with all their rebellion nevertheless will serve God’s purpose, seek to destroy the throne of Christ and destroy the Kingdom of God, to set up a Kingdom where Satan is king. We walk in hope. They look for heaven here upon earth. We are strangers in the world. They make this world their abiding city. We look for the full realization of the purpose of God in the Kingdom which is to come. They look for the solution to the world’s problems in their own efforts to improve things here below. We live out of the principle of regeneration. They live out of the principle of sin. We are humble servants of Christ who bow before His throne. They are servants of their father the devil whose works they do. We cannot forget that. It is essential to our calling.
You see the implications of that. On the one hand this does not mean, as has been sometimes unjustly lodged against us, that we are anabaptistic. On, no. We have to work in the world. We do not sell all that we have and climb some high mountain to sit with hands folded waiting for Christ to come back. We have to work!
On the other hand, we have to work as pilgrims and strangers. We deny that we are pilgrims and strangers if we seek the kingdom of this world. But, at the same time, we may not become guilty of world flight.
What is the solution to that problem? How can we on the one hand retain our calling as pilgrims and strangers and on the other hand not become anabaptistic?
The answer to that question in general is this. We must, very concretely and specifically, in all our walk of life in the midst of the world, seek the Kingdom of Heaven! I don’t have to remind you how often Scripture comes to us with all the urgency and authority of the Word of God to remind us of this, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness!” (Matthew 6:33) And to seek first the Kingdom of God does not mean that we put the Kingdom of God on the top of a list of all sorts of things which we seek, so that after seeking the Kingdom of God we can turn our attention to numbers 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 on the list. To seek the Kingdom of God FIRST means to seek the Kingdom of God as the fundamental principle of all of our life. Whatever you do, seek the Kingdom of God! What does Paul write to the Church at Colosse? “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on the things on the earth.” (Col. 3:1,2) That means that at the very center and core of the Christian’s calling stands all that which belongs to the Kingdom of Heaven: the Church of Jesus Christ, the preaching of the gospel, both within the sphere of the Church and on the mission field, the care of the poor, the administration of the sacraments. To seek the Kingdom of God means that at the center of our life stands our covenant calling: to instruct the seed of the covenant in the truth of God’s word; and to prepare them by means of Christian education for their labors and calling in the midst of the world. To that kingdom belongs all that belongs to the Christian’s calling as it relates directly to the cause of God and of Christ.
We have a lot to learn in this respect. I am not by any means advocating the position tonight that you and I have attained; but it has got to be understood that at the very heart of the Christian’s calling lies this fundamental truth: that always we seek the Kingdom of God. When you go to work in the morning, you go to work for no other purpose than that by going there you may seek the furtherance of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the advancement of His covenant and cause in the midst of the world. And if you go to work for any other reason, you are going for the wrong reason. When you go to the grocery store and you spend one dime, you must do so as seeking the Kingdom of God and the advancement of God’s covenant. This is something that involves every single thing which we do. We have one interest in life; one alone; that is the Kingdom and cause of our God. Just as soon as that is lost by us, we lose our calling as pilgrims and strangers in the world. We are building our homes here in this present time. We are seeking the things of this world as ends in themselves. We are divorcing what we do from the Kingdom of Jesus Christ which is triumphant and victorious. This calling comes to us in our homes; we must do this with all the things the Lord gives us. We must do that in all our conversation, in all our walk, in all our testimony in the midst of the world. We must do this in every area of life.
Our Social Calling
What is the social calling of the members of the Church?
We must emphasize, first of all, that the social calling of the members of the Church is no different from what the social calling of the saints has been throughout all the ages of time. That sounds axiomatic. But it must be emphasized nevertheless. Those who are advocates of communal social action speak of the fact that it is only within the last couple of years that the Church has finally realized her calling. We quote again from Hart’s book.
“Now Calvinism has been the first movement of which we can say with some historical justification that it has seen the universal implications of the gospel. We may say that in the so-called Kuyperian tradition the recreative power of Christ has made a major breakthrough in western civilization with respect to understanding man’s cultural mandate …(But that movement also failed). To gain a real foothold in western culture which is completely overpowered by the secular grip of Humanism takes, I would think, more time than barely 100 years.”
Now the thrust of this quote is this: that for almost 2000 years the Church has not understood her calling. And don’t forget, of course, that by doing this the Church has grieved the Holy Spirit. For 2000 years! Now, all of the sudden, just a few years before the Lord comes back, we know what our calling is. Christian communal social action. This is a towering conceit and an arrogance that is staggering. Has the Church for the better part of 2000 years grieved the Spirit? Is it only now, just a short time before the Lord’s return, that we have understood what our calling is all about? Did not Augustine know what the Church’s calling was? Did not Luther know? Did not Calvin know? Did not any of the Reformers know? Did not those thousands upon thousands of saints who sealed their faith with their own blood and loved not their lives unto death – did not they know what the Christian calling was all about? Does it remain for us who wait the imminent return of Jesus Christ suddenly to discover at the very end of the age what this calling is? I can not believe that. It is a slander not only of the Church in ages gone by, but of the Spirit of Jesus Christ which has dwelt in that Church. Our calling is the same as it has always been for the Church in all the ages.
What is that calling? Not to change the world. That is impossible. But we do have a solemn calling. Negatively it is to condemn the world for her sin and for her rebellion against God and against Christ. We must do this constantly. We must do this with unswerving loyalty to the cause of Christ. We must do this in season and out of season. We must do this by our conversation not only, but by all our walk. If our life is, in the deepest sense of the word, a life rooted in hope, then our very life will be a condemnation of the world. And on the other hand, positively, we must witness to the truth. We must witness to the fact that the Kingdom of Christ is heavenly, that the Kingdom of Christ will come when our Lord comes back again. We must stand in the midst of a world which madly rushes down the road to destruction and shout at the top of our voices, “Jesus Christ is King!” When all the world joins in the unanimous cry that they shall succeed in bringing heaven here upon earth and that they will presently succeed in deposing God and casting Christ from His throne, then we must shout as loudly as we can, “Christ is victorious!” It is to that Kingdom we belong and it is for that Kingdom we look forward in eager expectation. We must do that specifically in connection with the problems of life; specifically in connection with each individual social problem that comes up. Insist upon that. These problems are solved in the Cross; in the Church; in the context of the Church and in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ which shall presently come. In the world there is no solution. We must say that with courage. And it will take courage.
It is sometimes said, “The way of communal social action is the hard way.” This is not correct. That is not the hard way; that is the easy way. The hard way is for the child of God to stand in the midst of the world that hates him and confess the truth; to know that it means, ultimately, his life; to confess the faith. That is the hard way. That takes a courage which does not have its origin in human power, but which has its origin only in the grace of God. We must not want to be one of those who sneeringly and contemptuously look down upon the individual Christian, who, next to his drill press in the factory, confesses the truth. He has more courage than the man who bands together with a thousand others to write documents and to run off papers on mimeograph machines and printing presses. It takes courage to stand in the shop and confess the truth. To pump the handle of a mimeograph machine takes precious little courage.
This truth must be maintained in the preaching from the pulpit on Sunday. That will make the preaching “relevant”. If you ask me the question, “can this be done in some kind of concerted action?”, I see no principle objection to that. If the children of God want to express their common faith and their common views of the problems of life and testify together of what they believe is the truth of God, there cannot possibly be anything wrong with that. As long as the purpose is not to change the world, and as long as they do not make Christian social communal action the essence of the Christian life. And even though they speak the truth communally, they had better live it individually. “Be ready always”, Peter says, “to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.” (I Peter 3:15) That means men notice that hope, doesn’t it? They notice it in your life. And they ask you about it. You must be ready to give an answer to those who ask the reason. If we do this, we will be pilgrims and strangers.
We must recognize that things in the world are not going to get better. We know that from Scripture, too. We are not on the edge of a national and international revival. The world is not going to turn to Christ, nor is this country. We mustn’t expect that. We must not live in any false dreams that this will happen, or we will deceive ourselves and make ourselves look like fools. Things will get worse and worse; that we know. And, therefore, the Christian who makes such a sharp testimony in the midst of the world will gradually be pushed more and more to the side, shunted out of the main stream of life, until finally there is no place at all for him anymore in the world of wicked men. That will force him in the very nature of the case to take on the role of, what shall I say? “Observer”? More and more the child of God is forced to stand on the sidelines and watch as an interested observer the events that transpire in the midst of the world. He is not in the stream swimming along with wicked men trying to strive for their goals. He is watching; not just simply because he is curious, but he is watching because in all that transpires, he hears the voice of his Master say to him, “Behold, I come quickly”. There are signs, are there not? Signs which speak in eloquent language that the Lord is coming. And the child of God who hears the voice of his Redeemer in all the chaos and confusion and turmoil of this present time, who hears Jesus speak to him, “Behold, I come quickly”, prays with all of his being and from the depths of his heart, “Come, Lord Jesus, yea come quickly.”