In my undergraduate college days, one of the required classes for my major was Philosophy of History taught by a crusty old professor who looked like he was one-hundred ten years old. Professor Thompson knew that I was a Christian because I always sat in the front of his class taking notes with a Bible on my desk. One day he came into the classroom and began his lecture by looking directly at me with those beady black eyes of his and said, as only Professor Thompson could say it, “Ehrhardt! Can God change history?”
My answer was this: the question is only relevant if God were never in control and sovereign over history to begin with; there is no need to change history if God is actively and continually working out his purposes in and through history. So, a more appropriate question would be: Since God is Lord over all history, will we submit to him?
In difficult times, it is only human to wonder if God is really sovereign over all the earth. When terrorists kill others; when natural disasters claim countless lives; when Christianity is seen as a threat to many; with such realities we might ask ourselves – Can God change history?
Even though Christ’s reign is invisible and seems limited and temporary, it will ultimately be visible and is pervasive and permanent (Revelation 1:4-8). Faithful believers in the first centuries of the church would witness to their faith and tell others about the redemptive events of Jesus and that, since Jesus is alive, others can experience new life. They were effective enough to alter the social order of things, which brought persecution and, in some cases, death. These men and women were killed proclaiming their devotion to Jesus, witnessing to others. So, the term “witness” or “martyr” began to refer to those who were killed for their proclamation of the gospel. In doing this, they saw themselves as only emulating and following in the way of their sovereign Lord Jesus, who was himself a faithful martyr. Just as Jesus died proclaiming the kingdom of God and people’s need to submit to it, so the earliest believers needed to see their solidarity with their Lord so that they would not falter and give in to being silent.
Jesus is Lord of both good days and bad days. Our faith cannot be dependent upon our circumstances because it is the blood of Jesus that has freed us to live for God no matter what the situation we have before us. We overcome only on the ground of the blood of Christ – not because everything goes our way. We overcome our consciences, bad tempers, defeats, lusts, fears, and pettiness on the basis of the blood of the Lamb. Jesus frees us! The goal of the church is not having a wonderful existence without any adversity; the goal is to know Jesus Christ, and him crucified, dead, risen and ascended.
As believers in Jesus we have continual access and unconditional acceptance of God through his blood. We can intercede for others directly by going straight to God. Just as Jesus has unlimited access to the Father, so, the Christian has the ability and the privilege of coming to God at all times. Christians are a kingdom of priests where every believer intercedes for other believers, and even for the world which persecutes them.
While we wait for the coming of our Lord Jesus, we do not idly wait. We intercede for the world. We proclaim the gospel to all the earth. We love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Nothing in this world can ever deprive us of grace and peace. No circumstance or adverse situation, no terrorist or natural disaster, no ornery people, no other person can take away Jesus from us. So, with this security, assurance, and blessing we are free to rescue others from the coming judgment.
The reign of Jesus Christ elicits some probing questions: Will we be faithful to Jesus by being faithful witnesses? Will we live into the new life offered to us? Will we submit to King Jesus? Jesus is worthy of our praise. He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. His kingdom will never end. Since this is true, we are meant to serve God. In life and in death, we belong to God. We are not our own; we were bought at a price. Therefore we are to serve God in the ways he wants us to serve. “Can God change history?” is not really the question we should be asking. Since God has changed history forever in the sending of the Son, what will we do with him?