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The newspaper and news sources in general can be depressing reading these days. No matter who wins in November, America and the world are in for uncertain times. Instead of ruminating over the negative possibilities, Christians should see all of what will be coming as opportunities. It’s in uncertain times that Jesus entered the world. Israel was a captive nation with no political power. The church was birthed when Rome controlled nations from Great Britain to the coast of Africa and everything in between. The newly formed Church went about doing its job to bring the gospel to the nations. In time, Rome collapsed under its own fragile moral center, and the Church expanded, setting the moral agenda for the then-known world that is still impacting today’s world.
While things look grave for our nation, there is not much comparison to what these early Christians faced. We still have the freedom to make changes at all levels of society. We only lack the will. There are millions of Christians who have taken a position similar to that of popular Bible teacher John MacArthur who states that “‘Reclaiming’ the culture is a pointless, futile exercise.” He comes to this conclusion based on an eschatological reading of 2 Timothy 3. He quotes selective verses (vv. 1-5, and 13) in an effort to support his belief that Paul is describing the inevitable triumph of evil prior to the “rapture.” These verses, cut off from their immediate context, could lead almost anyone to come to the same conclusion as MacArthur does at any point in history. A study of the entire passage, however, shows that Paul’s message is not about the inevitability of evil over good. Paul compares the supposed progress of the ungodly in Timothy’s day, the “last days” of Old Covenant Judaism (Heb. 1:1-2; 1 Cor. 10:11), to the overthrow of Jannes and Jambres in Moses’ day (Ex. 7:11): “But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, as also that of those two [Jannes and Jambres] came to be” (2 Tim. 3:9).
Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secret arts. For each one threw down his staff and they turned into serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs (Ex. 7:11-12).
While it is true there is an attempt by the ungodly to dominate culture, and some are successful for a season, the fact is, that over time “they will not make further progress”; their fling with ungodliness is only temporary (cf. Rom. 1:18-32). Christians can be optimistic even if the actions of the ungodly increase in their own day. If Christians remain faithful in preaching the gospel and applying a biblical worldview to every area of life, the world can be changed. History and God’s providential care are on our side.
Paul, however, does not allow Christians to remain passive as the ungodly self