Long-time Dallas Seminary professor Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost accepted an invitation to speak at a rather small church. They asked him to speak on prophecy. He said he would. But along with five sermons on prophecy, he planned specifically in the middle of the series to give a message that he titled, “The Loveliness of Christ.” It was to focus on the historical events that led up to the death of Christ.
The five nights “Dr. P” spoke on prophecy, the place was packed. The event planners even arranged for loud speakers outside so people could sit in the cool of the evening and at least hear. Yet the night he spoke on the loveliness of Christ, the church was only about half full. All meetings received equal publicity and encouragement to attend, but the people were more interested in the future happenings than in the One the events are meant to point to.
Later in his book Prophecy for Today he wrote this:
“A short time ago, I took occasion to go through the New Testament to mark each reference to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and to observe the use made of that teaching about His coming. I was struck anew with the fact that almost without exception, when the coming of Christ is mentioned in the New Testament, it is followed by an exhortation to godliness and holy living.
“While the study of prophecy will give us proof of the authority of the Word of God, it will also reveal the purpose of God and the power of God, and will give us the peace and assurance of God. We have missed the whole purpose of the study of prophecy if it does not conform us to the Lord Jesus Christ in our daily living.”
Part of what prophecy tells us is that God still has a future in mind for Israel. Yet an exploration of God’s heart for Israel is incomplete if we fail to ponder the apostle Paul’s conclusion when addressing the same subject:
“God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all. Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?’ ‘Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?’ For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen” (Rom 11:32–36).
Our merciful, wise, all-knowing, just, perfect, glorious God holds the future of Jews and Gentiles in His hands. Do you believe He’s good? Does your life demonstrate that you trust Him? Does your knowledge of “things to come” drive you to your knees in worship? You know how the story ends. Is that knowledge changing your life?
About the Contributors
Charles R. Swindoll has devoted his life to the accurate, practical teaching and application of God’s Word and His grace. A pastor at heart, Chuck has served as the founder and senior pastor-teacher of Stonebriar Community Church in Frisco, Texas. His leadership as president and now chancellor of Dallas Theological Seminary has helped prepare and equip a new generation for ministry. Chuck and his wife Cynthia, have four grown children, ten grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.