I think I can safely say, that as young people we think of the future more than other age groups in the church. We may think of college, of getting a job, some of us may even wonder what high school will be like. We sometimes look a little farther down the road of life and wonder who we will marry, how many children we might have and maybe even where we will live.
But how often do we consider the future of our churches, and the inevitable final battle against the world that we have ahead of us? This should be of extreme concern to us as we now draw nearer and nearer to Christ’s return. We are the church, we are God’s people, we are the lights in the midst of darkness. As God tells through the writing of the apostle Paul in I Thessalonians 5:5 & 6, “Ye are all children of the light and children of the day; we are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore, let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.”
But are these really the last days? Definitely. We are told in II Thessalonians that, “That day shall not come except there come a falling away first.” And in Matthew 24, we learn that “iniquity shall abound.” Iniquity is indeed abundant and sin is progressing rapidly. If sin and worldliness are the enemies that we must make war with on the battlefield of life, then it seems that technology and so-called “progress” are their horse and chariot. In other words, the more advanced that technology becomes, the more sin there is also. And today’s technology is certainly advanced to life 1000 or even 100 years ago. 1000 years ago, the world was in what is now known as the “middle ages”. The western world then was built largely of wood, the fastest you could travel was by horseback and only the rich could afford a horse. The majority of the population lived in simple huts which they shared with their animals. Abortion was considered homicide by all. Illness and disease was always a constant threat. Famine, rotten flour, and vitamin deficiencies afflicted huge segments of society with various malformations and physical weaknesses. A man was happy to survive 30 years and 50 was a ripe old age.
Looking back through history, from the time of the flood till the time of the Middle Ages, we realize that life was not always such a grim struggle. Take the period of the Roman Empire for example. This was a time of comparative ease for most people and just as today, art and inventions began to abound and increase. Progress was being made. But the time had not yet come in God’s plan for the progress that we see today so God in His control stopped it with the destruction of this mighty empire by the barbarians, and progress even seemed to move backward for a time. History is filled with countless such exercises of God’s control over man’s progress. Another example would be the Tower of Babel; and perhaps the most obvious would be the destruction of all the wicked at the time of the Flood.
Just as life in the past was not always as grim as it was in the Middle Ages, neither has it ever come close to what we experience now in the twentieth century. Quoting from Time magazine in an article entitled, The Astonishing Twentieth Century; “No one could have guessed then that, in the century just dawning, new ideas would burst upon the world with a force and frequency that would turn this stately march of progress into a long-distance, free-for-all sprint. Thrust into this race, the children of the twentieth century would witness more change in their daily existence and environment than anyone else who had ever walked the planet.”
At the beginning of this century, in-house electricity was a luxury, cars were nothing more than curious machines, and recreation was a trip to a concert or a play. Now, not even a hundred years later, electricity has gone from being considered a luxury to a bare necessity; who, nowadays would buy a house if it did not have electricity? Now also, every family has at least one car and many have two, and the means available today for recreation are countless. It took less than 30 years after the Wright brothers flew their first flight until the first large airliner was launched; and approximately 66 years from that day at Kitty Hawk to the day that Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Consider this fact for a moment; for more than 5,000 years, the idea of flying in a plane was no more than a fantasy, and then in one-person’s lifetime it went from being a mere fantasy to a possibility for the elite, and then to a very real possibility for the common man.
Relief from the ever-present list of countless diseases through numerous techniques drastically changed human existence. During the span of a single lifetime, science learned to cure or prevent a staggering list of plagues. This triumph of science was a major contributing factor to the pride of man in his apparent control over his environment.
After the end of World War II in 1945, technology also contributed to the birth of mass entertainment through film, TV, radio, records and many other inventions. This mass entertainment spawned an age of rebellion against authority (especially among the youth) like never before. In the past century, the entertainment world has probably used technology in the service of sin more than any other.
The progress of technology has given birth to many other firsts in the twentieth century, among them are: space travel, computers, satellites, refrigeration, microwaves, lasers, nuclear power, and atomic bombs to name only a few.
If this much change has taken place in just the past 100 years, imagine the possibilities for the next 100 or even just the next 50 years. The speed also of these changes has been phenomenal and all we see is an increase in this speed. Keeping this in mind, the projected achievements of the 21st century do not seem at all impossible. Some of these projected possibilities are: virtual reality, cloned spare body organs, genetic engineering, robots in everyday life, and computers with human-like personalities. All of these technologies have already been started to one degree or another but the progress that they could make is almost unimaginable. The future of virtual reality for example could enable you to don an electrode-filled body suit and goggles containing a computer screen with graphics so realistic that your mind will believe that you are actually witnessing a genuine object, situation or event. In other words, you could plug yourself into a virtual reality machine and take a walk through the jungle, experiencing all the sights, sounds, and smells of a real jungle. It might also be possible to go canoeing or play ping-pong with a celebrity of your choice. I don’t think it’s too hard to imagine the dangers of a machine like this.
On the subject of genetic science, biologist Leroy Hood of the California Institute of Technology predicts that in 15 or 20 years, doctors will be able to extract DNA from a blood sample of a newborn infant and insert it into a machine that will then convey to the doctors the genetic profile of the infant. By studying this genetic profile the doctors will be able to discern if the child is predisposed to certain diseases. This test could also be performed on unborn children thus detecting serious genetic disorders before birth, enabling parents to opt for abortion.
These are only a couple examples of technology that is entirely capable of happening in the not too distant future. These are also prime examples of how the devil uses progress for his own advancement of wickedness. These inventions in themselves are not wrong but we must beware, for they can be misused by us and will certainly be used by the world in sinful ways.
In the dictionary we read that the definition of progress is, “to advance toward completion or fuller development.” Looking back through History and now into the future we see that this is indeed the case with the progression of sin. The wickedness of this world is certainly nearing completion.
We do not know how long it will be yet until God halts this development of sin, but we can see that these are the last days and that we certainly do have a long and hard battle ahead of us. The war for the Church has been going on since the beginning of time, but I believe that this final battle which has already begun, will be the most heated struggle that the Church will ever fight. We can consider ourselves some of the first warriors to participate in this final battle and if we want the Protestant Reformed Churches to remain in this battle till the end then we must prepare ourselves. Undoubtedly, we will not face the same level of difficulty in the challenges that lie ahead of us as our children and grandchildren will. But how can they be strong in facing these difficulties if we do not teach them, and how can we teach them if we ourselves are not strong? And how can we be strong if we are not prepared to fight?
There are two ways in which we can prepare ourselves. Number one, we must watch. We must be aware of these new inventions that the world is dreaming up every day. We must know which ones we may use and which ones are dangerous to us and that we may have no part of. We must know all the “signs of the times” and recognize them for what they are. Jesus tells us in Matthew 25:13, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh.” And in Matthew 24:33 we are told “So likewise ye when ye shall see all these things know that it is near, even at the doors.”
The second way in which we are to prepare ourselves is the most important. We must make ourselves strong spiritually. We must study the Word of God and know the truths contained in it. This point is best explained in Ephesians 6:10 & 11, “Finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” And in verse 13, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day.” If we are to fight, we must have armour. It is impossible and foolishness to go out to fight in a war carrying no weapons with us. In the spiritual war against sin we must gird ourselves with truth, and put on the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of our salvation and the sword of the spirit.
We now realize that we definitely have a hard battle ahead of us and we know how God instructs us to fight in this battle but we must also know that we cannot lose; that we are already the victors. If we were to try to fight with our own strength alone, we would certainly fail, but all our strength comes from God. If God is on our side, we cannot lose. “If God be for us, who can be against us?” “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.” Let us constantly pray that God gives us the strength to continue in the fight against the steady progression of sin and that He gives us the comfort of knowing that we will win and will someday live with Him in the new heavens and the new earth where there will be no sin. Let us also always remember the comforting words of Jesus in John 16:22, “And ye now therefore have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.”
*Holland Young People’s Society forwarded this after-recess paper for publication. They found it enjoyable and stimulating for discussion. Feel free to use.