Why There Isn’t More Evil (5)
For the word of God isliving and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Hebrews 4.12
A powerful force
The presence of so many true and sincere Christians is a powerful force restraining the evil in the world.
In their own lives, such people strive to grow in grace and goodness, and are constantly vigilant against any evil that might seek to take root in their lives. They have learned the disciplines of overcoming evil with good, and are zealous and ready for good works as the Lord leads.
Christians work their sector of the Lord’s field – their Personal Mission Field – with zeal for good works and conviction regarding God’s truth, and thus bring more of the presence and fruit of Christ into every area of their lives.
Christians, their churches, and the various agencies engaging in the work of Christ have provided a powerful source of influence for good in various ways and at various times in history. No one can deny this, and the benefits enjoyed by many unbelievers today, as well as their relatively peaceable and decent lifestyles, is the direct result of the influence of Christians, past and present.
But what makes Christians so influential? Is it their skill at political organization? Inventiveness and creativity? Do they simply have more money and other resources?
The unchanging Word
The reason Christians are able to resist evil and to work for its containment and even eradication (as in the abolition of slavery) is that they are not governed in their beliefs or behavior by the changing winds of doctrine and morality that rule so many people in our secular age (Eph. 4.14). Instead, they stand on the sure foundation of the unchanging truth of God revealed in the Bible.
Throughout the ages, Christians have found the Scriptures to be a powerful force for affecting their lives and the lives of others for goodness and lovingkindness. As the followers of Jesus Christ have proclaimed the truth of the Bible and worked to persuade others of its reliability, they have wielded a power for good that helps to explain why there isn’t more evil in the world. The Word of God is living and powerful, and when Christians faithfully wield it, by proclamation and persuasion, even the greatest powers on earth fall before its might (Ps. 149.5-9).
The power of the Word of God is such that it affects not only individuals for good, but whole cultures, societies, and times. As Rodney Stark and others have shown, much of what people take for granted today as good and useful about Western culture has its origins in the work of those who believed the Bible as the Word of God. People who were persuaded of the truth and reliability of the Bible proclaimed it to others and persuaded them to apply its teaching to their unique callings.
A legacy of proclamation and persuasion
Those whose worldview was grounded in the Bible laid the foundations for Western art, literature, music, education, economics, government, law, science, and more. Christians promoted literacy and universal education; built schools and universities; pioneered scientific knowledge and technological advance; wrestled into shape the forms of government that allow people to live in freedom under the rule of law; and created the charitable agencies and helping professions that are a source of good to millions every day.
Taught by the Scriptures, Christians in every age have been persuaded of the need to serve others with their lives and wealth. Why is it, for example, whenever a natural disaster shatters the lives of people, the most prominent agencies on site to relieve the suffering of the many are Christian? Where are the humanist organizations, Marxist clubs, and postmodernist philosophical societies when people are suffering and dying? Do not their own beliefs persuade them of the need to love their neighbors as themselves?
Christians come to the aid of the suffering, the poor and needy, and those who cannot care for themselves because the power of the Word of God, taught and proclaimed in churches all over the world, persuades them this is the right thing to do. Hence the importance Christians attach to preaching, teaching, reading and study, and meditation in the Bible. Here the power of God comes alive to transform hearts, minds, consciences, and lives. This is not just so much high-minded aspiration; it is demonstrable truth. The proclamation of Scripture persuades people to love their neighbors as themselves, thus holding in restraint the progress of evil in the world.
As Christians, taking seriously their calling to be witnesses for Christ, proclaim the truth of God to their unbelieving neighbors and friends, many are converted to Christ, forsaking their wicked ways and learning the paths of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit.
And as they bring the teaching of God’s Word to bear on matters of morality and public policy, explaining and persuading Biblical teaching for a wide range of areas, their influence grows and affects still more areas of life. It is not necessary for someone to believe the Bible as a source of wisdom and sound advice, as long as Christians can explain the merits of its teaching, and show the benefits society may expect to gain by submitting to God’s Word.
Christian churches and organizations wax and wane, come and go. But the Word of God stands forever. And where that Word is proclaimed, and people are persuaded of its truth and reliability, the tares of evil will be checked and restrained, and good Kingdom seed will flourish.
1. What do we mean by saying the Bible is living and powerful? Powerful for what? How?
2. Since every Christian is called to wield the Sword of the Spirit (Ps. 149.5-9), why is it important that we can some skill in proclaiming it and persuading others of its truth?
3. What is the role of a local church in proclaiming the Word persuasively within its own community?
Next steps – Conversation: How do you carry out the work of proclamation and persuasion relative to the Word of God? How might you improve in this? Talk with some Christian friends about these questions.
Jesus Christ rules the world in truth and grace – the world, and everything in it. From His throne in heaven, He is advancing His Kingdom and God’s economy of love. You can read about this – and your calling in this great plan – by ordering a copy of our book, The Kingship of Jesus (click here).
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.