What is Happening?
From the series Hope of Nations
Is there hope for America? How did we get here? Right and wrong are interchangeable, while truth is considered relative. In this message, our guest teacher John Dickerson, identifies the prominent forces that are constantly reshaping our world. Hear what dangerous ideologies vie for our attention.
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About this series
Hope of Nations
Standing Strong in a Post-Truth, Post Christian World
In the midst of these trying and challenging times, is there hope for America? In this new series called “Hope of Nations” our guest teacher John Dickerson, pairs his understanding of God’s Word with his skills as a reporter, to paint a picture of America’s potential spiritual future. Don't miss what we can learn from our past, and how we can protect our Christian values.More from this series
I want to talk to you today about the times when your world shakes. And very often, in our series as we open the Word of God, we talk about the real struggles that each of us face like cancer or the death of a loved one or sometimes divorce or financial difficulties. And in this series, we are applying God’s Word to those things, but we are also looking even bigger. We are looking at the world at large, because there are times when our world shakes but there are times when the world shakes.
How many of you remember where you were on September 11th, when the terrorist attacks began and the planes were flying into the Twin Towers? I remember where I was. I was a college student at the time. I know some of you are like, “Wow, you’re that young?” And others of you are like, “Wow, you’re that old.” Okay?
I was a college student and I remember all the classes shut down and we all gathered around different TVs on campus, because we didn’t know what was happening. And the one plane hit and the next plane hit, and then we heard about the Pentagon. And it was just this sense that we were under attack and the world was shaking.
If you live long enough, you will go through times when the world shakes.
The reality is that if we live long enough, we will live through a few of these times when the world shakes. We don’t like to think about it, but it’s part of human history. And so, my heart for you in this series is to prepare you spiritually so that no matter how the world ever shakes in your lifetime, or in the lifetime of your kids and grandkids, that you are prepared and your kids and grandkids are prepared to stand strong and to be unshaken in a shaking world. So, that’s the question that we are asking today. What can we do when the world shakes?
What can we do, not just when our world shakes but when the world shakes? What can we do as a group of people and as individuals if there is another major terrorist attack? What will we do if all these countries who talk about firing off a nuclear missile, what will we do if one of them actually does? What will we do if the stock market crashes again like it did in 2008? What will we do when the world shakes in our lifetime and in the lifetime of our kids? Or our grandkids?
Well, as always, when we gather here, we look into the Word of God to answer these hard questions of life. And here’s what God tells us in Hebrews chapter 12. Written to followers of Christ, it says, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken,” if we understand how Christ’s kingdom, that we are citizens of it, it will never be shaken, “then we can be thankful, and we can worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.”
Now, the interesting thing about this passage, written almost two thousand years ago is that when this was written, a guy named Nero was in control of what seemed like the world. And Nero hated Christians. He was crucifying Christians. In fact, Nero was so sadistic, this is all recorded in history, he would often impale Christians and light them up on fire as human torches in his gardens at night for his garden parties to entertain his friends.
It was a time when Christians felt like they didn’t know how they could keep going and the writer of the Word of God reminds them: “You have a citizenship and a kingdom that will continue advancing long after Rome has fallen.” Now, Rome fell sixteen hundred years ago to us, but to the people who read this, Rome seemed undefeatable.
And here’s the reality about this truth that we are learning today. The object of hope. If you look at the object of our hope, no matter what we go through, it’s not our circumstances. It’s okay to hope for good circumstances and as Americans, we largely have really good circumstances compared to most people in the world and most Christians throughout history.
But as a follower of Christ, you can have a deeper hope and that is: I have a citizenship in a kingdom that will never be shaken.
You realize there were Christian at this time who clung to this idea when they were pushed out into a colosseum in front of a jeering crowd to be eaten by a lion. There are Christians who clung to this idea in the last fifty or sixty years in the Soviet Union when Christians were often marched out into the snow and sometimes the soldiers, they would find a pit of water and they’d make a Christian take their clothes off and get in that water and they’d say, “You’re going to stay in that water until you freeze to death or until you denounce Christ and denounce your Christianity.” And there are Christians who have clung to this idea, even as their earthly body passed away and their soul went into this kingdom that will never be shaken.
One of my prayers in this series is for us to think bigger about the world, to see reality from God’s perspective, and one of the realities of the time we live in is that today there are Christians in the world who are clinging to this idea as they see their pastors arrested in China. Did you know that right now in China, many church buildings are being bulldozed, many pastors are being arrested?
We hear about this or some of us heard about this back in the eighties, but the way that the Communist government persecutes Christians in China is flaring back up. There’s a real crackdown right now on anyone who doesn’t toe the line of the Communist ideology.
Did you know that right now today in India there are Christians who are being hunted because they don’t believe the Hindu religion of their family and they are clinging to this. I had a friend when I lived in California, he was an immigrant to the United States and I asked him about this life story. He was an heir to a significant fortune in India, but his dad and his brothers who were devoutly Hindu, when he became a Christian, they actually started hunting him down to kill him because of his Christian faith. And so, he fled to the United States.
Today in the world, there are Christians clinging to this idea. In some Muslim-majority nations, not all, but in some Muslim-majority nations, it is illegal to be a Christian. And there are Christians who are meeting today in living rooms defying the law, hoping that guards don’t show up and arrest them.
I met a lady when I was in Iran, she is about my age, who fled Iran through Turkey and ended up coming to the United States because she was a Christian. The whole house church she was a part of, they all got arrested and she was able to escape on a train to Iran.
There are Christians in the world today clinging to this. And here’s my heart for us as followers of Christ who happen to be born into the wealthiest and most free Church in world history. My heart is that we would understand that what we have experienced is exceptional, it’s not the normal.
And to us, because it’s normal to us, we can think, Well, this is how it has always been for Christians, or for people. But what we are going to see in this series is that we who have been born in about the last hundred and fifty years or so, especially in what we call the “Western Word” – the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Western Europe – do you realize our life expectancy is two times as long as average human life expectancy in world history?
The fact that we can read is an anomaly. Most people in human history did not know how to read. The medicine that we have, the education that we have, the freedom that we have, the prosperity that we have – these things are not normal, they are exceptional. They are unusual.
And being born in such a time, if we’re not careful, we can think that Christianity is kind of a good luck charm to help us live out the American dream. God doesn’t have anything against us living free and prosperous lives – He’s all for that – but our hope is in a higher citizenship. Our hope is in a higher kingdom.
And if we anchor ourselves in that deeper hope, that eternal hope then no matter how the world shakes around us in economies or in warfare or in terrorist attacks or even in persecution, we can be unshaken. And this is my heart for you as a shepherd is to grow your faith at that level.
And for us to raise a generation with our kids and grandkids who have a faith at that level so that no matter what happens in U.S. culture or in world politics in the next thirty years, that our kids and grandkids will be able to stand strong for Christ.
What are we learning? Well, today we’re learning that when the world shakes, Christ’s kingdom will not be shaken. When the world shakes, Christ’s kingdom will not be shaken. Scripture talks about: “Even if the mountains should tumble into the sea, we will not be shaken,” as followers of Christ.
We’re going to be talking about culture and social change and some people have asked me, “Well, you’re talking about social issues and social changes. Is this a series for Democrats or is this a series for Republicans? Which political candidate is this series about?” And I want to be really clear, this is not a Democrat series or a Republican series and it’s not a series endorsing any political candidate or politician. In fact, this is a series that will challenge us to zoom out and see those important debates as much smaller in the scheme of human history.
Here’s an example. There’s a true story in the Word of God where Joshua was leading God’s people. And God’s people were engaged in a physical war against a pagan enemy; they were in battle. And Joshua is out one day surveying the battleground and he sees this angelic messenger from God with a sword. And Joshua says to the angelic messenger, “Are you for us or for our enemies?” And here’s how the messenger responds. “Neither. I’m here representing God.”
And it’s this paradigm shift where all our little things that we debate about and argue about, which are important. I’m not demeaning the importance of the social debates going on today. But those things are down here and we tend to say, “Well, is God on my side or their side?” and God says, “Neither.” The question is: God is above all this; who is on God’s side?
God is not a God who takes sides in human affairs, He is a God who is above in the sense of hierarchy and power. And the question for us is: are we on God’s side? And I want to encourage you as we go through this series, there are great Bible-believing Christians who are Democrat, who are Republican, who have all sorts of different views and beliefs politically who say, “My allegiance is to God.”
And as we go through this series, what we are going to see is that just like Rome seemed undefeatable, but then it fell, and the Soviet Union seemed undefeatable but then it fell, someday, please don’t hear this as heresy but according to the Word of God, someday there will be no Democrats or Republicans. Okay? In all human history, I’m sorry if that offends you, but according to the Word of God, someday, in fact, you could put it this way, someday the Democrats and Republicans will be as forgotten as the ancient cities of Troy and Constantinople.
Some of you are like, “What are Troy and Constantinople?” That’s the point, okay? When those cities – those cities were undefeatable until they were defeated. And here’s the more important thing for us as followers of Christ. I believe America is the greatest nation in all of human history, I am a very patriotic American, I love this country. But as much as I love this country, I have an even higher citizenship. And here’s what we are learning in this series.
We are pledging our allegiance, our goal is to be on the side of Almighty God. Pledging our allegiance to His eternal kingdom, okay? Now, this doesn’t mean that things in this world don’t matter, they do. We need to vote our consciences etcetera, etcetera. But in this series, we are zooming out to a bigger view and saying, “We are going to pledge our allegiance to an eternal kingdom where Jesus Christ will be worshipped as King of kings and Lord of lords.” And that’s where we find our stability, that’s where we find our identity. And the more that we do that in a time of peace and prosperity, the more we will be prepared for anything that may come our way in the next thirty years or in the lives of our kids and grandkids.
Anyone want to be less surprised by the next big calamity that happens and more prepared? Less surprised, more prepared – that’s what we are going for in this series. Okay.
So, here’s what I want to teach you today. Five forces that are reshaping the world right now. We are going to see four of these forces are always at play. They have been at play from the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve invited Satan and evil into this world until Christ returns. Four of these forces are true at all times. One of them is unique to the era we live in.
First force of the five, and it’s true ever since the Garden of Eden until Christ returns is that humans are sinning. Humans are sinning. Romans 1 says, “For although they knew God,” humanity, “they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.”
Now, to be clear, Scripture is not saying that everyone always sins. Okay? Even people who don’t believe in God or Jesus are capable of doing really noble things, of saving lives, of making good choices. Scripture doesn’t say that all people always sin. But it does say that all people sin sometimes. “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” in another passage says.
In other words, whenever we look at human history in any century and any civilization where there is money, where there is power, where there is prestige, there will be some people who are lying, cheating, and killing, and stepping on other people to get to that power and money. It’s just part of human history.
And if we understand that, we’ll be a little less surprised by some of things that we see some people do and we think, How could that happen? Well, humans are always sinning until Christ returns. It doesn’t make it easier when we are in a hard situation, but at least we know what is going on.
It’s kind of like when you’re going through a medical treatment and you have uncomfortable tests and MRIs and other things where you’re being poked and prodded and they are taking your blood and it’s painful, but if you understand why it’s happening, you can go through it, because you understand there’s a purpose for this.
And when we understand we live in a world where people sin and their sins will affect us, it doesn’t make it less painful, but we can be less surprised.
Second force that is shaping human history is that Satan is scheming. Satan is scheming. In other words, it’s not just that people make sins, which are against God and hurt us; that will happen until Christ returns.
But in the unseen realm, there’s an adversary of your soul. You have an unseen part of you that God calls your soul.
And what God teaches is that you have a part of you that is invisible and eternal. And when your body dies, that internal part of you, your soul, will live for eternity with God or apart from Him. And Christ came so that if you believe in Him, you can be with God for eternity. He came to give you eternal life.
But there’s an enemy of your soul. And Jesus described Satan who is a fallen angel, he’s an angel who turned away from God and when he left heaven, he took one third of the angels with him, fallen angels that we call demons. And Jesus describes Satan as active in this world, in the unseen realm.
And in John chapter 10, Jesus says that the thief, Satan, came into the world to steal, and kill, and destroy. So, in the unseen realm, there’s an enemy of your children’s souls, of your grandchildren’s souls, and he comes into families to divide and destroy.
He wants to get into your thoughts in a way that will destroy and cause death in your life. He comes into nations and groups of people and he operates in the realm of ideas. Scripture, interestingly, describes that Satan, the whole angelic realm, is a little bit smarter than us.
We know this because the book of Hebrews says that when Jesus left heaven as God, and humiliated Himself to be compressed down into human form, He became a man and Hebrews says that He made Himself a little lower than the angels.
In other words, angels, you can’t outsmart them. And that’s true of Satan, Lucifer, of the demonic angels as well. They have a little bit higher IQ than Albert Einstein and you and me. So, you can’t outsmart Satan.
And this is why Jesus tells us over and over: He is the way, He is the truth, He is the life. And He has given us the Word of God so that where we can’t outsmart Satan, God leads us in paths that protect us from Satan when we follow His Word.
But the point is this, that Satan works in the realm of ideas. Not only is he a little bit smarter than us, but he has been doing his thing of killing and stealing and destroying for thousands of years. So, some of you in this room have been alive for seventy years or maybe eighty, you’ve got a little bit of life experience.
Our spiritual enemy has thousands of years of life experience that he has gained, and he knows exactly how to turn people against each other, how to enslave people. He knows exactly how to kill and steal and destroy and this is why we need Christ so much as our Hero, as our Savior, as our Rescuer.
But what Satan knows more than most Christians is that whoever controls the ideas controls the power. That ideas are what shape human history. That ideas are what move the wheels of tanks. That ideas are what make nations march and armies go to war. He knows the power of ideas.
And we have seen in the last one hundred years of human history the power of ideas. If you think back to World War II, you think of Nazi Germany and the evils that it committed, the industrial-scale genocide, the killing of millions and millions of people.
If you were to ask Americans today, some people would say, “Well, it’s all because of Adolph Hitler.” That’s partly true, but the bigger truth is that it’s because of ideas. There were ideas that were planted ten years before World War II in the minds of young Germans.
And as a nation embraced a set of ideas, or sometimes we call it an ideology, that’s a lens through which you see reality, the set of ideas that you use to view reality is your ideology.
And it was as the German people embraced an ideology about race and an ideology about Jewish people and about who they were and who villains are and what is moral and what is right and wrong, from that came some of the most horrendous evil in all of human history.
In the midst of this horrendous darkness, shined some beacons of light of Bible-believing Christians who stayed true to their faith in Christ, even as the world shook around them. And one of my favorites of those is a sister in Christ named Corrie Ten Boom. Corrie Ten Boom was a follower of Christ who lived under Nazi rule.
And as the Nazis overtook the country in which she lived and the city in which she lived, they started saying, “If you know any Jewish people, you’ve got to turn them in.” And Corrie Ten Boom knew from reading the Word of God, she could not be a part of something like that.
And she decided she would defy the laws and the authorities and she would actually hide Jewish people in her home. So, Corrie Ten Boom was a part of Christians who, bound to the Word of God, and committed to God’s view of reality said, “No matter what the government authorities say, we are not going to be a part of killing Jewish people.”
And so, they actually built these secret compartments and secret passageways in their houses so they could hide Jewish people. Well, eventually Corrie Ten Boom got discovered as someone who was hiding Jewish people, and so the Nazis arrested her and they took her to one of their concentration camps.
In that concentration camp, Corrie tragically watched people starve to death and people die from disease and people die from abuse. Her own sister, Betsy, she watched Betsy die in that concentration camp. Her dad died in another concentration camp.
Through it all, Corrie kept her faith in Christ. At the end of World War II, she had survived and God then used Corrie Ten Boom to write a number of books, some of my favorite books, where she describes a faith in Christ that carried her through unthinkable suffering, because she had a citizenship in a higher Kingdom and she was able to endure unthinkable things because of her faith in Christ.
And here’s the thing: you can have that kind of faith in Christ, whether what you’re going through is cancer or someday something much worse. You can have that same kind of faith in Christ.
As Christians, we know the principle from Scripture of sowing and reaping. What you choose to believe about yourself and others will define your life. And what nations and people groups choose to believe defines human history.
And that’s the third force that is always at work in human history, that ideologies, sets of ideas adopted by groups of people, are warring, are competing.
In every century, in every civilization, on every continent, sets of ideas are competing for the domination of humanity.
And Scripture makes it really clear that as followers of Christ, our warfare, our spiritual warfare is not in the physical realm so much, it’s in the spiritual realm and in the realm of ideas. We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against principalities and powers.
And in 2 Corinthians chapter 10, Paul writes and says that, “The weapons of our warfare as followers of Christ are not of the flesh, but we destroy arguments” – ideas – “and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God.” In other words, in the Church and in our thoughts and in our families we acknowledge that ideas are what will determine the destiny of our children and grandchildren. And so, we fight for truth and rightness and for what is pure and good in the minds of ourselves and of our kids.
I’m going to move from Scripture to my reporting as a research journalist. And so, if you disagree with some of these next things, know that you’re disagreeing with me and not with the Bible, okay?
But what I’ve done in the last few years is through these lenses of knowing that ideologies are at war, I have tried to look at what is happening in the world today and what I’m about to show you comes from dozens of sociologists and other researchers and lots of statistics that I have put into a book called Hope of Nations. And if you’re a nerd like me, you might enjoy reading it all.
But if you’re not a nerd like me, I’ll just simplify it here. Here’s what, for me, make sense of the world right now is understanding that in the United States right now, there’s a civil war of ideas that is happening every day.
And there are two dominant views. There are thousands of ideologies, but there are two dominant ones that are butting heads right now and a lot of the cultural conflict we see and social division that we see traces back to this civil war of ideas.
And this is the first of two idea sets that are competing for domination of the American mindset today is what I call, and other researchers, the post-truth view of reality. Post-truth very simply says there is no objective truth standard in the world, what is right or what’s wrong really is kind of up to you. You have your truth; I have my truth. I won’t judge your truth if you don’t judge my truth. This is really common in a lot of our leading universities, out where I have lived on the coast, in the major metropolises, this is very common in mainstream media where I used to work fulltime, this is very common.
About fifty-three percent of Americans right now view reality through a post-truth lens. They don’t know they are viewing it through a post-truth lens, per se, but researchers have asked the kind of questions about: “What is the standard for truth?” that lets us know it’s about fifty-three percent.
But this fifty-three percent are almost all my age and younger. It’s the Millennials and younger Americans who largely have been taught this or absorbed this through culture that truth is kind of – your truth is your truth and my truth is my truth. You have heard of Relativism or Post Modernism. That all overlaps here.
That’s one view of reality that is very common in America right now. But there’s another view that forty-seven percent of Americans hold to and that is a truth-based view of reality. A truth-based view of reality says there exists an objective standard for truth outside of my feelings and outside of what celebrities are posting on Instagram and moral evil is not necessarily defined by a celebrity’s selfie on Instagram, it’s defined by some objective standard that is written.
And whether or not I agree with it, whether or not I feel like I like it, what is right and what is wrong are written down somewhere. Now, of course, as Christians, for us that truth standard is the Word of God. And I’ll just give you a really simple example of the difference between post-truth thinking and truth-based thinking.
And one example would be, “What did Jesus teach?” If you ask an American, “What did Jesus teach?” well, some Americans will be like, “Well…” they won’t necessarily know, they’ll just kind of say things they believe and it’s like, “Well, how do you know Jesus taught that?” “Well, I know Jesus was good so…” essentially the assumption is He would believe what I believe because He was good.
And so, what did Jesus teach? Well, kind of whatever I – there’s this kind of floating scaffolding of what is right and wrong, what is socially acceptable, and it’s moving. It’s not fixed. And it’s really kind of whatever all the people are saying is right or wrong right now, that’s what’s right or wrong. “And I think Jesus would probably agree with that.” That’s a post-truth view of reality.
A truth-based view of reality says, “What did Jesus teach?” Well, it’s written down in the gospels and I can look it up here and I can read it for you and here’s what Jesus believes. And if I disagree with it, well, it’s true whether I agree with it or not. Does that make sense?
So, that’s just one example of post-truth versus truth-based. Now, I’m not up here to go after any group or any generation. It’s not like the Millennials are going to ruin the world. I hope not, because I’m one of them, okay? I’m not up here saying all of the young people are terrible. That’s not at all what I’m saying. What I’m saying is there is an ideological divide and what happens around Thanksgiving dinner tables and on Facebook and social media is truth-based thinkers get into debates with post-truth thinkers and they are operating from totally different values and assumptions and they start to debate and it always turns out nasty.
Because when one person believes in a truth standard and another one doesn’t, you’re not really going to have a very successful debate about what is right or what is wrong, because the post-truth person, they don’t even really know why they believe what is right or wrong. They just know they feel strongly about it. And the truth-based person, sometimes we truth-based people – Jesus came full of grace and truth – but sometimes we truth-based people, we kind of skip over the grace part, right? And we’re like, “I’m right and you’re wrong.”
So, but if we understand that there’s this civil war happening in the realm of ideas in the U.S., it really explains a lot of the crazy things that we see happening. It doesn’t make it less painful or less disturbing, but at least we understand why it’s happening.
Now, prepare to have your minds blow, okay? Fellow nerds, raise your nerd flags high, okay? Because here’s the thing, here’s the thing, the U.S. is a big deal, it’s a big country, but there are seven billion people in the world, and the U.S. is about three hundred and twenty-five million. So, there are a lot more people out there than us, okay? Or just think of thirty compared to seven hundred, if that makes it easier, okay?
And so, there’s a lot more people out there than us and while we are having this civil war of ideas in the U.S., there are other ideologies outside of the U.S. competing for global domination, as has been true in every generation.
And so, I want to show you from the research what those four ideologies are that are competing for domination globally right now according to researchers. This comes from the Pew Research Center.
Hindu, which if you have ever been to India, it’s the predominant religion there. It’s pretty much India. Hindu is about a billion people. So one out of seven people in the world today are Hindu. It’s ironic to me some of my friends who have master’s degrees in global culture who don’t even know the core beliefs of Hindu or Islam.
Like, what did you learn in your master’s degree about global culture if you don’t understand how one out of seven people think or almost one out of five people with Islam, okay?
But the point is this: all four of these ideologies, Hindu; Communism, which is essentially Atheistic Communism, this is China more or less; Islam, which is not in one, just one nation, it’s about one in five people in the world right now; and Christianity.
We are the largest ideology in the world right now, actually in world history. One in three people in the world today believe that Jesus is God and died on the cross for the sins of the world. That includes Catholics, Orthodox, all sorts of different Christian groups.
But here’s the point. All four of these ideologies are what I describe as a muscular rigid ideology. And here’s what that means, very simply, all four of these say, “We are right and whoever disagrees with us is wrong.” And this is mind blowing for many Americans of my generation and younger, because we have been taught so much: never judge anyone. Never disagree with anyone. Your truth is your truth; my truth is my truth.
Now, tolerance in the biblical sense is absolutely a Christian idea that we allow people to disagree with us and we don’t attack them and we are not prejudiced against them, okay?
So, I’m not at all saying that people who disagree with us should be punished. But the reality is that Christianity claims to be exclusively right in its view of the world. And so does Islam, which contradicts Christianity. And so does Hindu, which contradicts both of them. And so does Communism. All four of these claim to be the only right way.
And if you don’t understand that, then you’re going to be confused when you interact with people from any of these ideologies. Because there are Hindus and Muslims and Christians who are gracious about disagreeing, but there are also some who aren’t.
And to me, what makes Christianity unique and noble is not that it claims to be exclusively true. Because if you look at world history, almost every ideology claimed to be exclusively true. What’s unique about Christianity is how it treats the people who disagree.
Because if we are true Christians, we read the words of Jesus and we are bound to His words when He says, “Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. Forgive seven times seventy times.” We are bound to the Word of God when it says in Romans chapter 12, “As much as it is possible, live at peace with all people.”
So, Christians are peaceable, kind, forgiving, patient people, not because we think that our beliefs don’t matter and not because we think it doesn’t matter if you disagree with us, but it’s because of our beliefs that we are peaceable and patient and forgiving.
And if you look at world history, whether it was under Nero in Rome or under a Pharaoh in Egypt, or under the Soviet Union or today in China, most world cultures, if you disagree with it, are not so kind.
Many world cultures, if you disagree with what the government says, you go to jail. Okay? So, Christianity is unique in accepting the people who disagree with us…
Out of seven billion people, one in three are Christians, one in five are Muslims, almost one in five are Atheistic Communist, Hinduism, and then “other”. So, here’s what’s kind of crazy, in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Western Europe – England, France – Atheism, Agnosticism, the belief that there’s no one right way, that’s the rising tide in our culture, right?
But that is just a little fraction on the global scene. Atheists and Agnostics will shrink and the reason for that is they don’t have a lot of kids, ironically, okay? Islam is by far the fastest growing and that’s because Muslims do have a lot of kids. Christianity has slowed way down in its growth and it’s just a P.S. footnote but one of the reasons for that is most of the nations that were formerly Christian adopted abortion policies within the last forty or fifty years and they are no longer keeping up with global population growth.
But let’s look at what is going to change here between now and 2050.
Islam, Muslims will increase by seventy-three percent. Fastest growing ideology in the world by far.
So, here’s what’s interesting to me as a former journalist and reporter is if you just watch FOX News, CNN, New York Times, USA Today, whatever your news outlet is, you get a really small view of reality and you would think from watching the American news that religion doesn’t really matter. Religion is a thing of the past.
But the reality is, and these are just fact, whether or not you believe in God, the majority of the world is religious and the majority of the world holds to muscularly rigid religious ideologies that say if you disagree with me, you’re wrong and I’m right.
And then the question for us is how we handle those disagreements. And what we can know according to today’s projections is that the world my kids will inherit is a world where one in three people is Muslim, the other one in three is Christian, and then the other one in three will be either Communist or Hindu or a small fraction of atheists, etcetera. So, it’s a changing world. It’s a changing world.
Now, this fourth point I told you of the five factors, four of them are always true and are from Scripture, one of them is from me and my research. And this is the one from me and my research. So, again, if you disagree with it, you’re just disagreeing with me and you’re free to, by the way. I am peaceable and forgiving and it’s okay. You’re allowed to disagree with me, okay?
Western civilization, in my assessment, and this is speaking in centuries and decades, not because of a sound bite clip on the Internet is unraveling. What I mean by this is that we have inherited a machine of a society and civilization that was built by people.
And many of the core beliefs and values that are at the center of the machine are now being kind of tossed out the window. And at some point, the machine stops running if you remove enough parts.
We have inherited a civilization that to us is normal, but as I mentioned before, historically is very unique.
When I think of a Scripture to represent this, which again, is my assessment, but this Scripture in Joshua 24 says, “I gave you a land, which you did not toil on and cities you did not build. And you live in them and you eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant.”
What happened here in Joshua is that there was a generation who sought God and they lived through hard times and they worked hard and they sought God and God blessed them. And then their kids inherited that wealth and they taught their kids, “This wealth all came from God. Keep working hard. Keep fearing God.” And their kids kind of taught their kids, “This all came from God,” but by the time it got to the fourth generation, the fourth generation inherited it, but they never got taught this all came from believing in God.
And Joshua says, or God says to them, “You have inherited these fields that produce fruit,” and in our case, these courts and these laws and these rights that are not perfect, but are far above the historic human norm. And you have inherited them.
Very many of these things were put in place by people who believed in the truth standard of Scripture.
So the idea that all people are made in the image of God was key in the founding of a culture that has more human rights than any other culture has in history. It’s not perfect, but it’s further above the historic norm because of a belief in Scripture. But now the inheritors are saying, “Let’s do away with the foundations.”
I think of it this way: when I lived in California, we had some fruit trees in our backyard. And I loved these orange trees, I’d often make orange juice. They were – it seemed like they were producing year-round because there’s not really a real winter there.
And you could go out almost any time of the year, pick off an orange, and just eat it or make orange juice with it. They were delicious. And one day I realized, You know what? I didn’t plant these trees. I have never watered these trees. But I get to enjoy the fruit from these trees.
And it was just kind of a metaphor, a picture for my generation in world history. What we have inherited in our prosperity, our freedom, our courts, our laws is like a massive vineyard or a massive orchard of fruit and we didn’t plant the trees. But this is my opinion, what is sad is seeing some of my friends and peers at leading universities and leading media outlets essentially say, “Get out the axes and hack at the root of the trees,” even while we keep enjoying the fruits from the trees.
Here’s according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, you finance people will know who that is. It’s a big accounting firm. The order of world economies in 2050.
Number one will be China, number two will be India, then the United States. Now, there’s no one alive today who has not lived in a world where the United States was the number one economy. Okay? Now, our hope is not in the United States as followers of Christ. Our hope is in the kingdom of God.
But here’s the deal: when these shift in world history, things happen. There are global implications of who is the number one economy in the world for currency, for militaries, for all sorts of things.
We’re going to see something that hasn’t happened in a hundred and fifty years, and that is two major shifts in the top three. That China will rise to the top is on trajectory to overtake the U.S. in the next ten years or so. And then in the next ten years after that, India. The U.S. will be third. And then Indonesia is going to kind of kind of come out of nowhere, it’s a massive population, as number four.
Now, here’s what is interesting for us looking at this not as economists but as people who understand from the Word of God that ideas matter, is that three of these four have rigid ideologies, don’t they?
China is the Communism that we saw, India is Hindu, Indonesia is Muslim, and while it will be a massive nation, it’ll just be a small part of a Muslim world at that point in the future. But my point here is that we don’t know what the implications will be, but the world is going to move in our lifetime and in the lifetime of our kids and our grandkids.
So, what have we learned so far? We have learned humans are sinning always. Satan is scheming always. Ideologies are warring always.
And in the assessment of John, who hopefully is wrong, Western civilization is abandoning its core tenets and may be unraveling within our lifetimes.
I’m about to give you the fifth force, which is our hope. But before I do, I just want to give you a picture. Here’s a picture of Hurricane Florence as it was approaching South Carolina and the, well, the whole East Coast. And Hurricane Florence, what good leaders did is they said, “A storm is coming. So, don’t panic, don’t freak out, but because a storm is coming, here’s how you need to prepare.” And so, because of good leadership, people boarded up their windows. And people bought bottled water and bought generators and in certain areas, evacuated because they knew a storm was coming.
And here’s my heart as a shepherd and as a leader for us as a movement of God’s people in this series not to cause panic, not to have you freak out, not to be doomsdayists, okay? But to understand there are some massive changes that are going to happen in our lifetimes within the U.S. and globally and if we understand that that’s coming, we can be a little less shocked, a lot more prepared.
And the biggest preparation is spiritual. And that’s why if you look on the back of your notes, these nine manifestos, I will not unpack today. But these are essentially: what can you do? What can we do as a movement of people to be prepared spiritually and to prepare our kids for whatever might happen in the next thirty years? And really, we can take action spiritually by saying, post-truth culture, we are going to say true to the Word of God.
In a culture where human dignity is being lost when people disagree and they are just pulling out all the stops and calling each other terrible things, we are going to treat all people with dignity because they are made in the image of God. We are going to love our persecutors.
For those of you who are ready for some good news and that’s the fifth force that is always shaping human history, an unstoppable force, and it’s that Christ and His people are prevailing.
Christ and His people are prevailing. It doesn’t always look like it. It didn’t look like it in the Soviet Union, but the Soviet Union fell apart. It didn’t look like it in Rome, but then Rome became Christian. It doesn’t look like it sometimes, but Christ and His people are prevailing. And here’s what Jesus promised as a prediction in Matthew chapter 16. He said, “I will build My church, My kingdom, My movement and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” Amen?
When Jesus made this prediction and we have ancient records, this prediction is two thousand years old. You know how many Christians there were in the world? A few hundred. You know how much land they owned? None. You know how many armies they had? None. They were a small, scattered, persecuted movement with no human resources and it’s a fact of history that Jesus predicted this movement will go to the ends of the earth and it’ll try to be stamped out and stomped out and you will have difficulty in this world, but you will overcome the world, “And My movement will continue growing.”
Here we are two thousand years later and after the Soviet Union fell, after Rome fell, after all sorts of tyrants and rulers have said, “I’m going to stamp out Christianity,” Christianity is the largest movement in human history and one in three people in the world today believe it to be true, that’s a prediction that came true and will continue to come true in our lifetime.
So, how can we prepare our children and grandchildren? The biggest thing we can do for them is to teach them the Word of God and to teach them how to love their enemies and follow Christ no matter what happens around them, because the reality of history and of eternity is that Christ will prevail, His Church will prevail, His kingdom was not stopped by Soviet tanks, His kingdom was not stopped by Nero, His kingdom has marched on. When Bibles are burned, Christianity grows. When Christians are jailed, the Church explodes. No movement in all of history has grown to the size of Christianity and there’s no force on earth or in hell that can stop the movement of Christianity, because it’s a kingdom that will not be shaken and it’s an eternal kingdom.
Well, I want to just give you guys a picture of this. Yesterday morning I went out, the kids were on the trampoline, they were doing this game called “crack the egg” where they try to stay in a little egg shape and you bounce around them and when they fall apart that person loses and you take turns.
And the point is this, when you come in as an adult, it’s no fair, because I weigh three times as much as them. You know? I’m of a different magnitude when it comes to “crack the egg.” I’m of a higher order. They have no chance, okay?
And here’s the thing about God. The Word of God tells us over and over, “Why do the nations rage? Kings and kingdoms rise and fall.” Psalm chapter 2 describes this time in the future before Christ returns when all the nations of the world and all their rulers and all their tanks and all their atomic bombs, they’ll all gather together and raise their fists against God and say, “We are all against You,” and it says God looks down at them and laughs.
Because that’s just how much bigger He is. And He loves us, which is amazing, but He’s not threatened. And as followers of Christ we are not threatened by anything that could happen in this life.
And I want to just close by just giving us a sense of mission as a body of Christ’s followers, that of all the times in world history, He chose that we would live now. And we don’t know what’s going to happen in the next thirty years, but we know that things are kind of set up for big things to happen globally and in the culture where He has placed us.
And He planted us here, not to merely survive. We will survive. But much more, to thrive and to be on mission and to set captives free, because while all these ideas are competing, we have neighbors and we have relatives and we have classmates who are enslaved to ideas that lead to death. And Christ sent us here to love them and to set captives free.