The Biblical Basis for Christian Optimism (V)

You do not know, and will never know, more than two things about them. You can be sure of those – dead sure, as our phrase is – but you will never be able to make even a respectable guess at any else. You do not know, and will never know, who the Remnant are, nor where they are, nor how many of them there are, nor what they are doing or will do.

Two things you know, and no more: first, that they exist; second, that they will find you. Except for these two certainties, working for the Remnant means working in impenetrable darkness; and this, I should say, is just the condition calculated most effectively to pique the interest of any prophet, who is properly gifted with the imagination, insight, and intellectual curiosity necessary to a successful pursuit of his trade (Albert Nock, “Isaiah’s Job,” 1937).

Any believer who wants to work for the remnant, had best get used to a few things. Firstly, he’d better be patient, because only God know how long it will take for positive change to occur. Secondly, he’d better be ready to work with small groups of people; maybe even one family or individual at a time.

Initially, Jesus only had twelve disciples. Initially, Gideon had 32,000, but God reduced this twice, so he only had 300 to fight against the Midianites. Why?

God had explained to Gideon that “…you are too many for Me to give Midian into your hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, ‘My own power delivered me’” (Judges 7:2).

People say that “there is safety in numbers,” but that wasn’t God’s attitude. David fought Goliath alone, while Jonathan went off to fight the Philistines with what? His armour-bearer (I Sam.14:6-7). Later, when Saul was intent on killing David, a remnant came to David in the cave of Adullam, that numbered 400 (I Sam.22:1-2).

Fame? Popularity and approval? People publicly endorsing or supporting you, or telling you that you are a great person?

Forget all that stuff. And be prepared to live without it, forever. The Reformers of the 1500’s spent their time in hard work, amidst opposition and/or persecution, and not uncommonly with poor health.

Has it got to be that way? No, but in church history, it often has been.

Are you a sensitive soul, easily given to discouragement, and prone to give up? Well, I suggest you toughen up, because the spiritual climate in the church and therefore the nation may not change much, especially in the short-term.

We see that Paul spent time

strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God’ (Acts 14:22).

The Western church has gotten very soft and out of shape. The acids of socialism and humanism have been eating away at our foundations for a century, and we’ve permitted it. Now, we need to get back into some pretty rigorous training, for the Main Event. How do we do that?

Firstly, we give a lot more attention to scripture, in both Old and New Testaments. The Psalmist claimed that

I shall run the way of Your commandments, for You will enlarge my heart (Ps.119:32).

Secondly, we must give a lot more consideration to the kingdom of God, and its implications in the modern world. Who could do the best job of caring for the needy? In terms of reversing the trend toward socialism, and the Old Testament’s welfare teachings, think of the implications of this text:

While we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of faith (Gal.6:10).

We work out ways we can begin to be useful and practical members of the community, firstly in the Church, and then for outsiders. We must begin to take the necessary steps to displace the dreadful idea that “the government will always look after you.” It won’t.

This will require the steady work of the remnant; they will have to be the prime movers. It won’t come from the top. It will have to commence in the church’s grass roots; people who are sickened with socialism and its many corruptions, and who long to see the church influential in the community again, but only by Biblical means.

Not long before His murder, Jesus acknowledged:

Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I came to this hour (Jn.12:27).

Jesus knew His future would get ugly soon, and there are many challenges ahead for God’s people. Change will not be achieved overnight, nor will it be easy. It will be opposed, both inside and outside the church. Rigid institutions don’t like change.

We must understand that this is a massive, long-term operation, that needs to take place throughout the church. Socialism has been a massive, long-term scam, perpetrated in the West with the dithering apathy and sometimes support of the church. We’ve been lured away from God’s purpose, and consequently we’ve perpetrated wickedness. We cannot change this overnight; it may take generations to accomplish.

But:

 every long journey starts with a few small steps.

Conclusion:

Elijah complained to God that “…I alone am left; and they seek my life, to destroy it” (I Kings 19:14). His optimism had been eaten away by perpetual opposition, and the misplaced belief that there was no one with him. But God pointed out to him that He had 7,000 men who hadn’t bowed the knee to Baal. Some things Elijah didn’t know, and neither can we.

So we’ll need plenty of Biblical optimism to sustain us in the years ahead. Ready for a challenge, for the rest of your days?

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