The Bible is an optimistic book. The New Testament is also full of the kingdom of God. Over and over again it speaks of the greatness of Jesus' victory on the cross. He has destroyed the power of Satan. By God's great power he was raised from the dead. He has ascended into heaven, and now sits at God's right hand far above all power and authority. And he must reign in heaven until all his enemies have been defeated. He reigns as king in heaven, and will eventually rule in all the earth. There will be no end to the glory of his Kingdom.

The Bible is an optimistic book, but it is also very realistic. It recognises the effects of sin upon the hearts of men and the works of the Devil in the world. The Bible acknowledges the reality of the powers of evil in the world, but it is equally certain that God has triumphed over sin and evil in Jesus. He is absolutely victorious. From beginning to end the Bible is full of hope.

In contrast, the church of our time is strangely pessimistic. Most Christians have lost all hope of victory over the world. They are so overcome by the evil at work in the world, that they no longer believe that total victory can be achieved. The church has taken on a defeatist attitude, and retreated from the world. This is really a loss of faith in Jesus. We have lost a sense of the greatness of what he has achieved.

There are three reasons for this loss of faith.

1. Newspaper Theology

Christians have tended to base their views on the course of history on what they read in their newspapers, rather than on what they read in the Bible. We certainly live in evil times, and our newspapers make rather dismal reading. But the Bible is quite realistic about evil. It warns us to expect times when evil will rise in power. However, this realism is never allowed to detract from the certainty of Christ's victory. Despite the worst that Satan can do, Jesus and his church will eventually be victorious. It is time for the church to rediscover this important biblical message.

2. Retreat from the World

In the last two centuries, Christianity has increasingly become a spiritual and inward affair. Faith is seen as a very personal thing. There has been an emphasis on inner spiritual experience. As this style of faith has grown, Christians have felt that they should not be involved in worldly matters. They have tried to live good moral lives, but have given up trying to apply the lordship of Christ to all the world. They have not applied biblical principles to education, law, economics, politics, and government. Christians have actually retreated from these areas. Those who have remained have kept their faith private, and have not applied the principles of their faith to their work. We have many Christian politicians who make their political decisions on the same philosophical bases as secular politicians. They live good Christian lives, but their faith has no impact on their politics. This has been true in many areas of life. There are Christian teachers who teach with humanistic methods. Christian economists will often teach secular economic principles. This retreat from the world can be seen at its worst in the United States. Although a majority of the population is Christian, and almost everyone believes in God, the public life of the nation is dominated by the philosophy of humanism.

As Christians have retreated, society has become increasingly secularised. This has allowed men without faith to determine the direction of society. The whole of western culture, although rooted in Christianity, is now dominated by secular humanism. Christians must rediscover the universality of the kingdom of God. Jesus is Lord over every area of life and not just spiritual things. The Bible sets out God's guidance for every decision that must be made. Christians must begin to extend the Kingdom into every area of life. Biblical principles must be applied to the way that Christians live in the world, and not just to spiritual matters. We will then begin to see the victory of the Kingdom.

3. False Eschatology

Defeatism has developed from a false understanding of God's plan for history. God has got a plan, but it is set out in a way that is not always easy to understand. Some details of the plan are contained in the apocalyptic books of the Bible: Daniel, Joel, Zechariah, and Revelation. These books are written in a language that is hard to interpret. This has made many Christians frightened to read them. They have left the interpretation of these books to the prophecy buffs and "cranks". The result has been the propagation of many false ideas about the message of the Bible. The parts describing the growth of evil have been emphasised at the expense of those emphasising the victory and sovereignty of Christ.

Many Christians have learnt all they know about God's plan for history by reading several novels about the end times, but have never read the Book of Revelation or Daniel. As a result, they now believe that the Bible teaches that things will continue to get worse and worse in our time. Christians are not generally taught to expect the kingdom of God to be established prior to the second coming. Most expect evil to increase. This is not true, but because people believe it, it is starting to happen.

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