Is The World A Sinking Titanic?
In 2016, pastor, theologian, and seminary president, John MacArthur of Grace Community Church and The Master’s Seminary, spoke on a panel about the upcoming presidential election. When asked for his final thoughts on the election and what it meant for all parties involved, he said amidst laughter and clapping in the crowd, “We’re rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The ship is going down. All we’re trying to do is make the people more comfortable as it sinks but there’s one other thing we can do. We can launch the lifeboats and the lifeboats are the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Does the Bible speak of a humiliating defeat of the Gospel before the Second Coming at the hands of Satan, demons, and sinful men or does it foretell of an increasingly greater victory over the forces of Satan and fallen mankind?
If the world, metaphorically speaking, is a giant ship, to whom does it belong? Is it the Infernal Majesty’s Ship of Doom, i.e. the devil’s? Or is it His Royal Majesty’s Ship of Zion – i.e. King Jesus’?
The correct answer is the later. “The earth is the LORD's and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers” (Psalm 24:1-2).
This being the case we are commissioned to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it …” (Genesis 1:28). In other words, instead of rearranging deck chairs for morally corrupt, sinking sinners, we are called to beautify the ship and tend to it instead of waiting for it to sink into the abyss of moral decay. Since the Bible truly teaches the progressive nature of Christ’s kingdom spreading throughout the world via His Gospel, we are to be about our Father’s business as Jesus’s witnesses so that we might see His reign and rule acknowledged worldwide.
Far too many believers have had a “sinking ship” eschatology for the world. The Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20 has been interpreted to mean that we are to be “launching the lifeboats” and making the gospel of Jesus Christ that of saving a few for heaven while the majority sink into hell.
Most modern Christians have been taught the myth of neutrality, which is the idea that there are areas of life that are “neutral;” that can be conducted according to common neutral principles or according to “natural law.” This position argues that individuals and families must submit to Christ but that civil governments, schools, the arts, the marketplace, media, science, etc., function simply fine without an explicit commitment to Christ. In fact, many evangelicals argue that an explicitly Christian state would be wrong. The idea that there are areas of life that are neutral is wrong and dangerous. The neutrality myth must be rejected because it is not based on Scripture, but on Greek philosophy. Neutrality is impossible, for everything is defined and conditioned in accordance with a particular world and life view. All laws are religious in nature and ultimately based on a faith commitment to a particular worldview. Neutrality is immoral because it is founded upon the idea that God has not revealed Himself to mankind in a manner that demands repentance, belief, and obedience and upon the idea that there are areas of life that are outside of Christ’s direct rule and authority. The mediator’s authority is comprehensive. It extends not merely to the Christian, church, or covenant family but also to the state, courtroom, classroom, board rooms, newsrooms, and movie studios.
Scripture informs us that Christ is the King who is also the true heir of the nations of this world (Psalm 2) and as such, has told His church to go into the whole world as His ambassadors to make disciples of every single people group in the world, for He has all power and the nations are now His (Matthew 28:16-20). They were given to Him as the reward for His sufferings and obedience. This Great Commission, as it is commonly called, is carried out through the preaching of the Gospel of God’s power. Scripture tells us of the Messiah who is ruling and reigning from the right hand of God on the Davidic throne where He is currently seated until all His enemies are made His footstool through the Gospel or through His destroying them (Psalm 110:1-2; 1 Corinthians 15:25). Scripture tells us of a special Child who would be born who would carry the government on His shoulders and who would see no end to the growth of His kingdom from the time He receives it (Isaiah 9). Scripture paints for us a time before the return of the King where, because of Him and His Gospel, creation will be greatly improved (Isaiah 65) as well as there being a global conversion of the peoples of Earth (Isaiah 66). We see through the lens of Scripture that Jesus’s kingdom will be like a stone that expands into a great mountain which will fill this world (Daniel 2:31-35, 44). Jesus likens His kingdom to a mustard seed that starts very small and yet, grows in size and influence which results in blessings for the world (Matthew 13:31-32). Jesus says that His kingdom will be like leaven that will continue to grow just like physical leaven does until it has taken over (Matthew 13:33). Scripture, in Romans 11, also foretells of a great day before the Second Coming in which the power of the Gospel will overcome the stubbornness of the Jewish people as they see Jesus for who He truly is - their Messiah. Lastly, Jesus promises His Church that the forces of Satan will not prevail against them, which means the church will be victorious in the commission God has given her, so therefore we are to be on the offensive as we knock down the gates and stronghold of Hell in the name of our victorious King (Matthew 16:17-18)!
With all this biblical data, and many more such scriptures, at our fingertips, is this earth a sinking ship after all?
Ask yourself, with all the hope given to Christians in the Scriptures concerning the future of this planet, is the Gospel powerful enough to alleviate poverty, overcome racial hostility and conflict both inside and outside the Church, outlaw abortion, tear down same sex marriage, and restore true gender identity? Is the Gospel powerful enough to transform not just individual sinners but entire communities, cities, states, nations, and our world for the better? As Bible scholar, Kenneth Gentry asked, “…Which is more powerful? The fall of Adam or the Resurrection of Christ?”
To receive the gospel message - the good news - that is God-authored, Christ-centered, and has a Cross-shaped, Resurrection-sized hole, is to cease to be a “last days” people and become a “new days” people in a new age! It is the invitation of Acts 5:20 – to speak, see, and savor the words of this LIFE. (“Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life” Acts 5:20).
The new age has been formed in Christ - the new age is being formed in God’s redeemed people - the new age will be formed in the whole of creation - just as Isaac Watts wrote in his hymn, “Joy to the World”: “He makes the blessings flow – far as the curse is found!”
King Jesus will receive the reward of His sufferings and that won’t be a few survivors from a sinking ship, but a number as vast as the sand on the seashore from every tribe and tongue (Rev. 7:9)! Truly, the Gospel of our salvation is the power of God!