February 1, 1997 Issue
by Billy D. Dickinson

As we enter into the new year and begin our journey through 1997, let us reflect upon the fact that we are now only three years from the year 2000.

Think about that! If the Lord wills and the judgment day is delayed, our world will soon enter into the 21st century. (Incidentally, the 21st century will actually begin in the year 2001.) Doesn't a realization of that fact produce a variety of emotions in all of us? On one hand, it probably makes us feel "o-o-old," because people who will be born in 2001 will be born in a different century than those of us who were born in the 1900's. On the other hand, it should be exciting and invigorating to realize that we might get to see the dawning of a new century and a new millennium. In this article, I want to discuss what that should mean to us as the church and how we need to be laying the foundation that will provide a bridge to the 21st century-a bridge that we can all walk across and find victory and success on the other side. Surely this expression is a familiar one- "Building A Bridge To The 21st Century"- because it was Bill Clinton's theme in the 1996 election year. If the President said it once, he must have said it a hundred times, "Help me build a bridge that we can all walk across together into the 21st century." Like most everyone else, I suspect, I'm glad the election is over and I don't have to listen to President Clinton talk about that bridge any more. However, this was a theme that seemed to work for the President and it resonated in the hearts of his followers. Yet, when you stop to think about it, if God allows this old world to keep on turning, we're going into the 21st century whether we like it or not. In other words, it doesn't necessarily take a bridge, because we are going into the new century one way or the other, even if we must go in kicking and screaming. However, what the President was saying was this: If we (as a nation) want to enter the new century with hope and promise for everyone, we must begin to build a bridge of prosperity (by making the right decisions and having the right vision) that we can all walk across together into the 21st century.

Well, I want to give this a spiritual application, because as we are being hurled toward a new century we want to make sure as the church that we are ready for the challenges that lie ahead. Therefore, let's reflect upon the bridge that we need to be building; actually it is the bridge that God has provided us with that we should all be committed to walking across. It is a bridge that will take us to victory and great triumph if we will only utilize it.

The bridge that will lead us into the 21st century is our faith and hope in Jesus Christ! This is the "bridge" that links our past and our future; it's a bridge that we dare not burn behind us because we're going to need that bridge to provide us safe passageway into the 21st century with courage and fidelity. As 1 John 5:4 declares: "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." As we near the end of one century and stand upon the threshold of another, there are those who would encourage us to leave our faith behind.

They would say it is time to let go of a belief in God and His Son Jesus Christ. "Give up your superstitious opinions and an archaic standard of morality that is holding back human progress," is their plea, "and let's enter the new century with a brand new outlook on life." But let us never forget that it was our faith in the Lord that sustained us during the rough times in the 20th century and it will be that same faith that will serve as a bridge over troubled waters in the 21st century!

Thus, as we get ready to enter a new century, let us fortify our faith in Jesus Christ, because that faith will be the bridge that leads us to victory and that will keep our hope steadfast and sure. While there are men who have lost their faith in the 1900's, let's determine to "walk by faith" (2 Cor 5:7) all the way into and through the 21st century!

Also, as we cross the bridge of faith, we must allow the word of God to lead the way. In fact, it is God's word that provides the support and is the underpinning of this bridge (Rom 10:17). There are those who would also encourage us to enter the 21st century without God's word and to allow the Bible to remain a "relic" of the old century. But as the church, we need to renew our commitment to the belief that "all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim 3:16-17). Yes, there have been many who have lost their faith in God's word in the 20th century; even some members of the Lord's church no longer look to the Scriptures as a safe and sufficient guide. This century has seen several departures from the truth and the church was divided over innovations that were introduced without scriptural authority. Many battles have been fought in this century as we have sought to keep the church pure over issues like instrumental music, Bible classes with women teachers, and individual communion cups. More battles will have to be fought in the future. If history teaches us anything, it is that the 21st century will give occasion to further departures from the faith and the church's resolve to stand upon a "thus saith the Lord" will be tested and tried, probably in areas we can not now foresee. So, as we get ready to cross that bridge into the 21st century, let's make sure that all of our members, from the oldest to the youngest, see the need of abiding in the doctrine of Christ and not going "beyond the things which are written" (I Cor. 4:-- ASV). If that isn't our commitment, we may very well lose in the 21st century what was gained and accomplished in this century.

Lastly, we must encourage everyone in the Lord's church to cross this bridge together! We don't want to see anyone left behind. There is room for all of us to cross together; this bridge is strong enough to hold us all up. Hence, let's spare no effort to teach, exhort, and edify that we might cross that bridge with no precious soul left behind. Let's put a special emphasis on our homes and make our children apart of that number; this is one of the best ways to secure a bright future for the church in the 21st century (Eph 6:4). Our resolve and commitment should be the same as that of Moses and the Israelites in Ex 10:9; they refused to leave Egypt without taking their families with them. That should be our attitude as we cross over into the 21st century- "We're all going together and no one will be left behind, except those who refuse to go with us because they have lost their faith in Christ and His word.

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