Dr. Ed Stetzer of LifeWay Christian Resources closed out his three part series on the role of the local congregation on Saturday by focusing on community transformation. “We must join Jesus in his mission of serving the hurting and saving the lost. The Church becomes the engine of transformation when it is focusing on the mission of Christ,” he said.
Stetzer turned to Matthew 4, saying, “The promises of Isaiah are fulfilled in the personhood of Jesus and Jesus brings transformation.” In verse 16, we read that the people who live in darkness have seen a great light and by verse 17 there is a “clear turning point in the ministry of Jesus,” Stezer said. From then on, Jesus began to preach repentance because the kingdom of heaven has come near. According to Stetzer, preaching, teaching and healing is what it looks like for the kingdom to come.
Stetzer first discussed the reign of God: “God didn’t start reigning when Jesus came to Earth or stop reigning when Jesus left. God has always reigned over the universe. There has not been a time when God has not been sovereign.” However, at this moment, the reign of the kingdom of God is “already, but not yet” because the world is in rebellion against the good and sovereign rule of God, Stetzer explained.
“The world is broken. It’s lost and it’s dark. The reality is this: It sure doesn’t seem like there’s a King reigning in righteousness,” Stetzer said. He explained that while we already have the victory through Jesus, “We live between the times…between the first and the second coming of Christ.”
“The world is in an illegal and illegitimate rebellion against the sovereign rule of God and we are the rebellion against rebellion,” said Stetzer while stressing the fact that the kingdom is “near.” Our rightful response is to repent, to bow on our knees before King Jesus and submit, he stated.
Stetzer said if we are to bring about transformation in these in-between times, “We must join Jesus in His mission of serving the hurting and saving the lost.” He continued, saying, “Jesus will come back. He’ll set all things right, but until then we’re about Gospel proclamation and Gospel demonstration between the times.”
“Sometimes it feels like we’re losing the battle, but I read the end of the Book and Jesus still wins,” Stetzer concluded to thundering applause.