Contending For The Faith

October 14, 2008

Interpretation of Matthew 24:14

Filed under: eschatology — Lynda O @ 5:55 pm
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Here’s an interesting look at a scripture verse, an understanding I hadn’t realized before.
Matthew 24:14 — “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (NIV) So many Christians understand that verse in terms of modern-day evangelism, that as a pre-condition, before Christ can return, we must preach the gospel to all nations. Much mission work is tied up in that verse, and along with that for some the idea that the sooner we spread the gospel news around the world, the sooner Christ will return. I’ve even heard the ludicrous Preterist variation, that this was somehow fulfilled by 70 A.D. –because Paul wrote (in Colossians 1:6) about how the gospel was working “all over the world” (i.e., the known Roman world of his day).

Instead, the actual fulfillment of that verse is one of the signs of Christ’s return, and will be accomplished supernaturally by God, as described in Revelation 14:6:
“Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth–to every nation, tribe, language and people. He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

John MacArthur describes this in his sermon covering these verses in Matthew 24 (near the end of the text):
http://www.gty.org/Resources/transcripts/2368

Or listen to it at the beginning of this:
http://www.gcaarchive.com/Audio/Eschatology/095_Answering_Hoekema_Pt_3.mp3

This passage comes right before the final judgment, a final proclamation of the gospel to literally everyone alive on earth at that time. It’s so amazing to contemplate — God is the one who is going to accomplish everything, and He indeed has the full work in His hands, to do everything in His time, and He’s going to do it literally and completely by the supernatural work of an angel, not by man’s fallible efforts. This isn’t to belittle the work of missions and evangelism, as God gives us plenty of instruction to continue in our tasks of spreading the gospel … but this bring the full focus back to our Sovereign God.

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