2023: How Shall We Face Another Year of Calamity?

By Dr. Paul M. Elliott
A disastrous year is ending and a likely worse one is about to unfold. How are Christians to deal with it? Does Elon Musk have the answers?

From the TeachingtheWord Bible Knowledgebase

As we end one year of growing uncertainty and calamity and enter another that we can expect to be worse, how does God tell us to face it? Should we join Elon Musk in preparing for an exodus to the Moon and Mars? Colossians, a letter written to people who were about to experience the devastation of their homeland, gives us the answer.

December 30, 2022 - In yesterday's article we described the transhumanist, postgender, exodus-from-Earth vision for man's salvation that is being promoted by Elon Musk and his followers. We saw that Musk, along with the late Stephen Hawking and many others, is more correct than he realizes in believing that this present Earth is dying. But Musk and those of like mind deny the reason, and they deny God's solution, planned in infinite wisdom from before the foundation of the world.

We find the opposite of the Hawking-Musk theology (for that is truly what it is) in the pages of Scripture. In particular, I call your attention to the Holy Spirit's words through the Apostle Paul in the third chapter of Colossians:

If [more literally, since] then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)

The Apostle Paul wrote a letter packed with theology to people who are about to lose their homes, their livelihoods, and all their worldly possessions. By Divine inspiration he gave detailed instructions on Christian living to people who would soon struggle for their very survival on earth.

On the face of it this seems utterly impractical, woefully ignorant of real need, and even callously hardhearted. Many in today's Evangelical church would not hesitate to call it sinful.

But that is exactly what the Apostle Paul, at God's direction, did in his letter to the church at Colosse.

A City Soon to Disappear

In 60 A.D. - only about three years after Paul wrote his epistle to them - Former site of ColosseCColosse was destroyed by a massive earthquake. Many of its inhabitants were killed. The site of the city was eventually abandoned, and Colosse literally disappeared from the map for centuries. Not until the 1830s did archaeologists rediscover Colosse's exact location. The site where the city once stood (pictured at right) remains uninhabited today.

Of course the Apostle Paul did not know that this calamity was about to come. But God the Holy Spirit, the omniscient God who inspired Paul to write his letter, knew exactly what was about to happen, and ordained Paul's words.

What a Christian Needs to Know When Calamity Comes

But did God through Paul instruct the Colossian believers in physical survival? Did He counsel them on how to protect their finances and worldly possessions? Did God tell them to evacuate their city (much less move to the Moon or Mars)? No. God through Paul instructed the Colossian believers to "seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God" (Colossians 3:1-3).

No message could be more relevant for Christians in our time in much of the world. This is what we need to know, and rest upon, in the face of calamity. Religious bookstores and websites are filled with books and videos on how to have "peace" by accumulating and protecting the wealth of this world. But while God's Word says there is nothing wrong with making a living and saving for the future, God repeatedly warns us that these things are not the source of peace. Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid" (John 14:27).

What is that peace? We need only look to the preceding verse: "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (John 14:26).

God's true peace is to be found in salvation through Jesus Christ, and the comfort that is thereby brought to us through the indwelling Holy Spirit, as we are taught how to live and how to think by His inspired Word. Paul's fervent, continual, Spirit-inspired prayer for the Colossian believers - people about to experience the calamity of a lifetime - was this:

[T]hat you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy; giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:9-14)

IIt is by this knowledge and this growth that the Christian may have peace, in all circumstances.

A "John 14:6 Outline"

What is that knowledge and growth, according to Colossians? Its central focus is the person, work, and preeminence of the Lord Jesus Christ. It has been said that Paul's letter to the Colossians sets forth the preeminence of Christ in a "John 14:6 outline" - and indeed it does.

In chapter one, Paul sets forth Jesus Christ as the Way to eternal life and the source of all-sufficient supply for the experiences of this present life. Colossians one contains the most power-packed statement of Christology to be found in the entire Word of God.

In chapter two, Paul sets forth Jesus Christ as the Truth, in contrast and opposition to worldly philosophy, legalism, and man-made doctrines. God through Paul says, "let no one cheat you of your reward" by entangling you in these falsehoods (Colossians 2:18). This potential eternal loss was, in the eyes of God, more vital than any temporal loss.

In chapters three and four, Paul sets forth Jesus Christ as the Life - both for the life to come and for life here and now. Christ is the One who is to be preeminent in the Christian's character and conduct in the home, in the workplace, in our witness to the world, in our service within Christ's body - in everything, and in every circumstance.

Paul holds forth the person of Jesus Christ as the One who is, in His very essence, the total contradiction of this present fallen and perishing world system. He holds up the wisdom of Christ as the total opposite of the way the world thinks. He holds up the life that we have in Christ as the total opposite of the condemnation the world is under. He holds up the life that we are to live in Christ as the total opposite of the way the world lives and thinks.

Paul mentions the Lord Jesus Christ in nearly every verse through the entire book. The book of Colossians is one continuous exposition and exaltation of the Christ in all of His manifold offices and aspects, and in His marvelous relationship to each and every child of God.

The Practical Work of the Peace of God

All of this was written to people who were about to lose everything the world values, and in many cases quite probably their very lives. This, in the mind of God, was the most vital knowledge these believers could have as preparation for what was to come. The omniscient Holy Spirit exhorts them thus:

[L]et the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:15-17)

As we enter another year of growing uncertainty and potential calamity in this present evil world, may each of us truly (as Colossians 3:15 literally reads) "decide with determination that the peace of Christ shall be the arbiter of all your thoughts and actions." In every situation, whether in calm or in catastrophe, how is that accomplished? By "deciding with determination that the Word of Christ shall be at home in you in abundance" (a literal rendering Colossians 3:16). This is entirely counter to the world's way of thinking, but it is God's perfect way for His saints. It is the way of safety, even in the face of loss of possessions and even life itself.

Yes, we should be prepared to leave this present evil world for a new one of unending righteousness. But we must give up struggling to make our own way out. We must submit to God's way out. There is no other way.

The knowledge that brings true peace is not to be found in the false wisdom of this world, but in the genuine wisdom found only in Christ through His Word, by the illumination of the indwelling Spirit. Dear reader, do not look to the headlines for answers. Make it your resolve, in this coming year, to grow ever deeper in the super-abundant, all-sufficient, ever-practical wisdom that comes through the study of His inspired, infallible, inerrant Word.


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