The Great Assurance
November / December 2011
We come to the final issue in our yearlong look at the Great Commission (Matt. 28), from the initial triumphant “Great Announcement” to the “Great Commandment.” Now, in this capstone issue, we come to Jesus’ climatic “Great Assurance”: “And lo, I will be with you even unto the end of the age.”
Editor-in-Chief Michael Horton begins with a compelling reminder that Jesus has done everything, and that he will finish the task of calling his people to himself. We have the great joy of telling everyone about it. But what we don’t often think about or realize is that “Christ is more truly present with his church by his Spirit than he ever was while he walked the earth.” This is the sound and encouraging note struck by Reformed minister Brian Lee. Sometimes it is astonishing to think how much good news there really is in the gospel, and part of this good news is that Christ will one day return in glory. Michael Horton discusses this in a “Revelation roundtable” with reliable exegetes Steve Baugh, Dennis Johnson, and Kim Riddlebarger, and missionary David Zadok discusses present-day missions and God’s plan for ethnic Israel.
But what do we do then while Christ builds his church using his appointed means? Professor T. David Gordon reminds us that we are to “work quietly with our hands.” In other words, we pursue our vocations, each of us according to our gifts. What else do we do? We also pray. But have you ever prayed and wondered if it pleased the Lord? Luther asked this in his Large Catechism before recommending the Lord’s Prayer for Christians on a daily basis. Don’t be afraid of frequent repetition, Lutheran pastor John Bombaro insists, because God loves to hear the prayer that he taught his disciples.
It is important to remind ourselves time and time again that Christ will return on the day the Father has set, and in the meantime he will build his church. This relieves us of the impossible burden of doing it ourselves and actually liberates us to proclaim the work that the Triune God has been carrying out since before the foundation of the world!