A Depressing Outlook?
The news reports seem bleak; the Islamic State appears to be spreading faster than ever through the help of social media and immigration. The number of terrorist attacks seems to be increasing in the industrialized world where we use to feel removed from it as a middle-east problem. Islam is creeping in to our school, our media, and our towns; new mosques are being built each year in areas that only a decade ago there were none, towns in America are facing questions of Sharia law, Muslim leaders are gloating over how Islam will over run Christianity simply through a superior birth-rate, and the Pew Research Center claims Islam will outstrip Christianity in converts by 2070.
A Negative Attitude
With all this apparent bad news it is no wonder that Christians have a negative attitude towards the future. This is borne out by some of the best-selling books and movies based on cataclysmic eschatology and table discussions at church pot-luck dinners revolving around dismal news reports and hopes of future political solutions; that is unless its football season. Perhaps this is why American Christians have turned away from missionary support at the local church level in favor of entertainment; whereas the International Mission Board (IMB) revenue is approximately 200 million, the Christian music industry’s revenue is measure in the billions.
Our Hope in the Message of Christmas
But hope is not lost; it is only the focus of our eyes that is the problem. The celebration of Christmas should clarify our eyesight of the true living God who came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ to save us from our sins. This awareness has eternal ramification. What it means for us is that Christ is King, He secured salvation for His people on the cross, and He reigns today and forevermore. Yes…Christ is King. So why do we act as if Christianity is dying out and Islam taking its place? Are we to assume defeat with a hope of some future turn-about? To help us see how Christmas spells the end of Islam, let’s turn our attention to Luke 1:26-33.
In this narrative we get an inside view of the discourse between Gabriel and Mary. He delivers to her a message from God about her coming pregnancy. And unlike other angelic messages about coming births (Genesis 18:10, Judges 13:3, Luke 1:13) Mary was to conceive as a virgin through the power of the Holy Spirit, the Son of the Most High; Jesus Christ. This event is the greatest turning point in history since the fall of mankind and it extends a future which is laid out by Gabriel.
“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”
This brings us top some points we should consider this Christmas when we begin to fear the future.
The Earth Blessed by a Child
In the worlds of the Psalmist (Psalm 127:3) the gift of children are a blessing from God. For Mary and the rest of us, the virgin birth of Christ was a blessing. A blessing to all nations. This was the promise made to Abraham Genesis 22:18. Through this one child all nations have been blessed as he is the Savior of the world. Whether a person is a Buddhist, an agnostic, or an Islamic terrorist, Jesus Christ is their Savior. But how much more is He to those who believe on Him.
One of the claims by the statisticians and Islamic leaders is that since Christians have a lower birth rate than Muslims it is only a matter of time before they take over. This claim has a few problems with it.
- This does not take into account the conversion rate of Muslims to Christianity. I can personally attest to accounts from missionaries that report that in some communities there have been major conversions in Muslim areas. In other areas conversions can be slow, but regardless, true Christians cannot lose their faith but only share it with future converts in the Muslim community.
- Muslim babies do not mean Muslim converts. Many saints have been and are being born right now into Islamic families. Perhaps the Charles Spurgeon of the Middle East is being born to an ISIS terrorist right now. Just as Joseph said to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Gen 50:20. Likewise, the increase in births encouraged by Islamic leaders that is intended for harm, God can use for good.
Looking at Children with Anticipation
What should we do with this truth? For one, the Islamic leaders do have one point. The child birth rate has fallen sharply in Christian families; particularly in Europe and America. Most reasons are due to personal pursuits; career goals, lifestyle freedom, or material possessions. We have traded true blessings for lies. We must repent of this and begin seeing large families as a blessing. The jokes about too many children or strange looks given when number 3 or 4 is announced need to stop. For some, having a large family is not possible due to health or other reasons. But examine yourself to determine if your family choices are based on cultural norms, personal desires, or God’s word.
He Shall be Called Jesus.
Mary is given a child, but not any child…one that will be the Savior of the world. She is told that His name shall be Jesus, which means Yahweh is Salvation. He is to crush the head of the Serpent and reverse the cure of Adam. As this Second Adam, Jesus will bear the punishment for our sins on the cross. This salvation is a gift from God to humanity. A picture of His loving kindness and mercy. Jesus offers eternal life to His people, forgiveness of sins, and peace with God. What greater message is there to be proclaimed? Therefore we should announce this message of the birth of Christ, just as Gabriel did to Mary.
Throughout much of the Muslim world there is a desire for forgiveness of sins. However, they have been taught this can only be fulfilled through personal works and obedience to their laws and codes. But Christ has done this work for us. The Muslim world, including the ISIS terrorist, needs to hear this message of saving grace from God. But how can they hear unless someone goes? Not everyone is called to go to Muslim nations or foreign countries as long-term missionaries…but many are. However they need support. In fact, there is no shortage of missionaries, only funds to send them. God has established the local church to be this sending organization, but unless supported by our tithes and offerings many would-be foreign missionaries will never leave the States. Let us develop a love for missions to proclaim the message of Christ that is greater than our own personal comfort.
His Kingdom Shall be Forever
Gabriel goes on to describe who this Child is to Mary. “…he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” David looked forward to the coming King of Israel that would establish his throne forever. (Psalm 2:7-8) This Messiah has come in the announcement to Mary. In another promise about the Messiah in Daniel 7:14 we read:
“He was given authority, honor, and sovereignty over all the nations of the world, so that people of every race and nation and language would obey him. His rule is eternal–it will never end. His kingdom will never be destroyed.”
Victory Through Christ
Jesus Christ began his eternal rule promised in this passage at the first resurrection when he sat down on His throne. He has been given all authority over the earth for the purpose of bringing them under his rule. This kingdom is eternal, it cannot be destroyed. In Revelation 20:7-9 we see the outworking of this realization. The earth is under the rule of Christ and His people, the saints, dominate. Yet Satan tries one more attack to destroy this kingdom with horrific results.
This gospel of Christ transcends all objections and is saturating the world as Christ brings His people to himself. It cannot be stopped and we have the great blessing to be its ambassadors; and relay our Kings wishes to the world. What hope! What Joy! What a blessing it is to serve a victorious King! Let’s abandon our worries and negativity and look with expectation of a future that is dominated by Christ and His people and work even harder to see this Christmas message delivered to the followers of Islam, of whom many will become our new brothers and sisters in Christ!