December 16, 2020
December 16th, 2020
December 16, 2020
Dear Brethren and Co-workers with Christ,
A neighbor of mine is planning to light up his fire pit and invite the neighbors to come over and burn their 2020 calendars on New Year’s Eve. My wife and I do not celebrate this occasion, as God has a very different calendar with different days of celebration. But, most of you are no doubt happy this Roman calendar year is rapidly coming to an end. The question now is, What are we to expect in the year to come? Will it be a reprieve or another year with similar drama? Bible prophecy indicates that the world will experience a crisis at the end of the age, and there are multiple signs that we are entering just such a time. Going forward we can expect many things will go wrong. There are going to be some major shocks and surprises in our very near future.
At the same time, prophecy shows that the Gospel of the Kingdom of God will be preached in all the world, not to convert the world, but as a witness. Notice this passage in what is called the Olivet Prophecy as found in Matthew 24.
Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come (Matthew 24:11-14).
Every word of this passage needs to be considered. Notice that there will be many false prophets at the end. Today, we have an abundance of “fake news” found on all sides of the political and social spectrums, followed by hordes of devotees to self-proclaimed social media gurus. Of course, false leaders of professing Christianity are clearly warned against in verses 4 and 5 of this same chapter.
Notice too that lawlessness will abound. We see more than enough of that, but dear friends, hold onto your hats as anarchy will no doubt be on our plate for the coming year and a second American civil war is not out of the question. Jesus also shows us in this passage that His servants must endure to the end. The year 2020 required endurance, but we must expect even more difficult times to come. But the focal point of the passage is that “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (verse 14).
This Gospel of the Kingdom is not just a message about the person of Christ, but the message Christ Himself proclaimed for three-and-a-half years prior to His crucifixion. We emphasize this often, but I wonder how many “get it”? Yes, it includes the way into the Kingdom by Christ’s shed blood, but even that is not always fully understood. As the Apostle Paul shows us, “For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” (Romans 5:10). Yes, we are saved from death by His life, not His death! We have been at variance with God, not subject to His law (Romans 8:7-8), and need the blood of Christ to cleanse us of our past sins and to reconcile us, to bring us into a right relationship with God. But we also need Christ living in us by the power of the Holy Spirit. Traditional Christianity rarely makes this distinction, but the Scriptures are clear about it. Our former Presiding Evangelist, the late Dr. Roderick C. Meredith, often quoted Galatians 2:20 as the best one-verse definition of Christianity: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (KJV). We are crucified with Christ at baptism, but Christ must then form His character and way of life in us.
While watching my recent Tomorrow’s World telecast, “Hope in Tough Times,” I realized that I spent a lot of time on that program discussing the bad things and not enough time on the good things found in the Holy Days that Jesus, His apostles, and first-century Christianity kept. More details were needed. The Gospel (good news) of the Kingdom of God means Jesus Christ will come back to rule this troubled planet and He will appoint His servants to be the rulers under Him in His millennial reign (Zechariah 14:9; Ezekiel 37:24-25; Luke 19:16-19; Revelation 20:4). These are those who have shown in this life total loyalty to Him. They are those who have developed His character of genuine care for the well-being of others. It means an end to warfare and to rampant crime where the criminal is let off and the victim suffers. It means the end of rape, murder, and robbery. And, thank God, it means the end of political campaigns filled with lies, hypocrisy, and broken promises.
Dear Brethren and Co-workers, these letters are sent to encourage you, to update you on the Work of Tomorrow’s World and the Living Church of God, and to thank you for the support you have given. Your part in this Work of the living Jesus Christ, whether through your prayers or your financial generosity, is immensely appreciated. Most of the financial support we receive might be classified as modest or average, but that is not the whole picture. Jesus gives us an important perspective:
Now Jesus sat opposite the treasury and saw how the people put money into the treasury. And many who were rich put in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans. So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood” (Mark 12:41-44).
It is human to thank those who give large gifts, as it takes many small donations to equal a large one. However, we must learn to see as God sees and not overlook the widow’s mites. That is why I do not send a special “thank you” letter to individuals for exceptionally large donations. They are, of course, greatly appreciated, and if this applies to you, thank you! But God, it appears, is equally pleased, if not more, with the widow’s mite.
I hope this honesty will not offend anyone, but it is something I feel very deeply. I want to express appreciation to all of you equally and let God evaluate gifts and the hearts that give them. We must not be respecters of persons. So whether you gave a lot this past year, or gave a small amount out of your poverty, thank you, thank you, thank you! May the God of creation who sees all bless each one of you richly!
No matter what comes our way in 2021, we look to the encouraging prophecies of what is beyond the difficult times. We look to the time when nations “shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore” (Isaiah 2:4), and when they “shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). Dear Brethren and Co-workers, please be encouraged by reading all of Isaiah 35, which beautifully describes how God will heal the earth and the lives of those suffering physical challenges such as blindness and deafness.
Thank you again for your loyal support with your prayers, tithes, and offerings this past year. There is good news in the future for the people of God. Let us not faint in this day of adversity (Proverbs 24:10) and let us do what we are able while we have time.
Sincerely, in Christ’s service,
Gerald E. Weston