Speaking of Life

End of the World, Again...

The latest end-of-the-world obsession concerns the Mayan Calendar that ends a 144,000-day cycle this year on Dec. 21, the day of the winter solstice. The number 144,000 sounds biblical, so the doomsayers are once again out there warning us to expect something drastic to happen.

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Biography:
Joseph Tkach

Joseph Tkach has been president of Grace Communion International since 1995. He holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Azusa Pacific University. For more information about him, click here.

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I find it incredible how some preachers manage to distort the gospel. The word gospel means “good news,” and good news is supposed to make you feel better. But the way some preachers explain the gospel can leave you feeling hopeless and lost.

Fear is, of course, a motivator, and it’s possible to manipulate Scripture into an intimidating doomsday message. That can certainly get some attention – at least, for a time. Predicting the end of the world can turn into quite the lucrative business. But when prophecies ultimately fail, do we hear those preachers apologize? No, we hear justifications and excuses as they try to maintain their authority by reigniting fear.

Remember Y2K? As the new millennium approached, there were dire predictions that many older computers could not process the date change from 1999 to 2000. This, it was suggested, would lead to catastrophic failures, and a world crisis. Many leading preachers jumped on that prophecy bandwagon. Computers crashing would signal the beginning of the tribulation, they warned. Some went as far as selling rations and water purifiers – encouraging people to stockpile propane and withdraw cash from their banks.

When the fateful moment arrived, very little actually happened. The worst reports I recall were that 150 slot machines at a Delaware racetrack stopped working. In Australia, two bus ticket machines stopped working. The worst damage occurred in Germany, where 20 million bankcards became unusable. The world as we know it kept going. No apocalyptic predictions came true. The doomsayers were shown, once again, to be false prophets.

The latest end-of-the-world obsession concerns the Mayan Calendar that ends a 144,000-day cycle in 2012 on Dec. 21, the day of the winter solstice. The number 144,000 sounds biblical, so the doomsayers are once again out there warning us to expect something drastic to happen. Unfortunately there will be some who will be taken in by it. Fear, it seems, is never far away.

All this totally misses the point and the purpose of prophecy. As the angel explained to John in Revelation 19:10: “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (NIV 1984). And the testimony of Jesus is good news – of his salvation, forgiveness, and eternal life. This means that the gospel is the true prophetic word.

So then, does the gospel deny or overlook the “bad news” of our sin, the power of evil and its tragic consequences? No, it assumes it, while never giving it center stage – never lending it the upper hand – because Jesus himself is the first and the last word. Through his life of obedience, his crucifixion, his resurrection, his ascension – once and for all – evil ultimately has been conquered, sin is forgiven; death itself has been overcome. New life is at hand.

Hearing and receiving the gospel urges us to repent of our unbelief – in the truth and reality of who Jesus is and what he has done. It is through repentance that we experience the faith, hope, and love of our Savior. The good news of Jesus, the gospel, his prophetic testimony, should never leave us quivering with fear. Instead, we are filled with great hope and peace that transcends our own understanding.

I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of LIFE.

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