Life Hope & Truth

From the September/October 2017 issue of Discern Magazine

The Reformation to Come

Activists demand change, and leaders try to introduce reforms. But when Christ returns, He will truly bring the transformation this world so desperately needs.

Listen to this article
Download

Protesters commonly gather by the hundreds or thousands to display their dissatisfaction with leaders, conditions or events.

Probably the most significant protest movement in history was the Protestant Reformation, which began in 1517, when Martin Luther published the 95 Theses on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences, challenging the authority of the pope in particular and the Roman Catholic Church in general. Luther demanded reforms to restore what he believed to be true biblical teaching and to free Christians from the corruption of the Catholic Church.

While the reformation Luther introduced had earthshaking impact on his time that continues to today, he failed to accomplish what he intended: the full restoration of the teachings of Jesus and of the Church that He founded.

For almost 2,000 years, there has been disagreement about what Jesus taught and what it means to follow Him. The best way to sort it out would be for Jesus to do so Himself. And that’s exactly what will happen. Jesus promised that He would return (John 14:1-3; Zechariah 8:3; Acts 1:9-11), and when He does, He will establish the government of God on earth and will Himself bring about not just a reformation—but a complete transformation, restoring the truth of His message of the gospel (good news) of the Kingdom of God.

Under His authority and direction, the world will become a different place. People of every nation will finally come to recognize Jesus Christ as their Savior. They will learn how to live, how to live together and what to live for. There will be peace on every level—peace of mind, peace within families and peace between nations. The world will be transformed.

A change of heart

The heart of the matter is the heart of man—a transformation of the human heart is the first step. The heart is used in Scripture to represent a person’s thoughts, character and emotions—what a person is at his core. Jesus described the heart of man as the source of all kinds of evil behavior (Mark 7:20-23). The prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse—who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9, New Revised Standard Version).

Long ago God entered into an agreement (covenant) with the nation of Israel, promising to protect and bless them richly if they would obey His instructions. They agreed, but God knew they didn’t really have the heart to live up to the terms of the covenant (Deuteronomy 5:29).

When Jesus returns, He will make a New Covenant available to all mankind. A prophecy in Jeremiah 31 states, “The days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. … I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts” (Jeremiah 31:31, 33). He promises, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you,” and people will obey His commands (Ezekiel 36:26-27).

The key is the new spirit. On the day of Pentecost, recorded in Acts 2, God’s Holy Spirit was given to those who became the first generation of His new Church, establishing the New Covenant. That process of conversion has continued throughout the ages as God brought people into His Church (Acts 2:38-39). The prophecies in Jeremiah and Ezekiel are of the time when Jesus will return and make available that same Spirit of promise to all mankind—which will ultimately lead to a change of heart.

This transformation of heart won’t come easily. It will be the result of difficult and painful events that will occur prior to Jesus’ return and will lead mankind to repentance (see “What Is the Day of the Lord?”). But as people yield to Him, everything will begin to change. Rather than an external exercise, they will be able to obey God from the heart. His laws will be internalized, transforming the natural carnal heart into one that is humble and obedient.

A world built on truth

It’s amazing how much deception and confusion there is in the world today. When Jesus transforms the earth, civilization will be built on truth. The opening verses in Isaiah 2 provide an amazing prophecy of the transformation Jesus will accomplish:

“Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:2-3).

Jesus will restore the universal truth of the laws of God, which will be the foundation of civilization. When He rules the earth from Jerusalem, people from all the nations will come to His throne to learn how to live. The truth of God, based on His law, will spread from Jerusalem to all the earth.

Isaiah 11:9 says, “For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” Try to imagine a world that is saturated with the truth of God’s way. Religion will be completely transformed. There won’t be hundreds of religions worshipping dozens of different gods. Jesus will reveal and direct mankind to His Father, and all will learn to worship the one true God.

“He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”The transformation will begin with the nations of Israel and Judah, but will also extend to those in lands who have worshipped different gods (Zechariah 8:20-23). A prophecy in Psalm 98 praises the God who “has made known His salvation; His righteousness He has revealed in the sight of the nations. He has remembered His mercy and His faithfulness to the house of Israel; all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God” (verses 2-3).

At last, a world at peace

Given a heart that is willing to obey and the truth of God to live by, the world will finally be transformed from the war and strife that have characterized history to a place of genuine peace, safety and security.

A famous statue, called “Let Us Beat Swords Into Plowshares,” stands in front of the United Nations building in New York City. It depicts a man using a hammer to reshape a sword into a plow, symbolizing the end of war and changing weapons into beneficial implements. Such an image is an elusive ideal for mankind. Though founded on admirable intentions, the UN has been powerless to prevent war and establish peace.

The sculpture is based on the prophecy in Isaiah 2:4: “He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”

Jesus Christ will have the authority, love and wisdom necessary to untangle age-old conflicts between nations and cultures. There won’t be any more failed human attempts at peace through warfare, treaties and alliances. The skill of warfare will become as obsolete as the weapons of war. Mankind will be free to focus effort, resources and creativity for peaceful means.

A prophecy in Micah 4 is almost identical to the first four verses in Isaiah 2. But it adds a word picture of security and peace: “But everyone shall sit under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid; for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken” (verse 4).

A time for personal reformation

Jesus will go beyond reformation—He will transform the world. The apostle Paul wrote that it is the purpose and the will of God the Father to rescue mankind, through Jesus Christ, from “this present evil age” (Galatians 1:4).

These events won’t magically happen at the snap of His fingers. It takes time to turn around an entire globe. And that’s just the beginning. The millennial rule of Jesus Christ is one step in God’s plan to rescue all of mankind. To learn more about that plan, read our booklets The Mystery of the Kingdom and From Holidays to Holy Days: God’s Plan for You.

Understanding what Jesus will accomplish, we have the opportunity now to enter into that New Covenant agreement with God and Jesus Christ. Our hearts can be transformed, we can learn and build our lives on His truth, and we can find purpose and peace in our lives. Be sure to download and read our booklet Change Your Life! to begin your personal transformation.

Continue Reading

×

Discern is published every two months and is available in digital and print versions. Choose your preferred format to start your subscription.

Print

Print subscriptions available in U.S., Canada and Europe

×
Fill out the form below to start your subscription.
×
Fill out the form below to start your subscription.
Please enter your first name.
Please enter your last name.
A valid email address is required.