Friday, April 7, 1995 A Church for Every People and the Gospel for Every Person by the Year 2000! --How can anyone guarantee that this WILL happen? --How can anyone guarantee that this WON'T happen?
Well, AD2000 leaders are truly sorry if some find it difficult to believe that "it CAN happen." The end of the second millennium, December 31, 2000 is five years beyond January 1, 1996. A lot can be done in that amount of time, especially with God in charge. However, just what are we talking about? Is it the completion of the Great Commission? No, no, no.
Is it the Return of Christ? No, no, no. Let's look at the IT more carefully.
AD2000 and the Return of Christ? A great deal of consternation took place as the year AD1000 was approaching. But at that time in history most of the people on this planet were totally unaware of year, and few of the world's peoples even employed a calendar which suggested such a date. Today, the Christian calendar that looks forward in a few years to the year 2000 is widely known and understood.
Both a thousand years ago--as well as today--we cannot require anyone to take notice of the change of a millennium, nor can we prevent people from getting excited or apprehensive about it. Indeed, millions may be stirred in a bad way if they are not thinking clearly.
The AD2000 Movement and Beyond is one organization girdling the globe which is speaking boldly about the purposes of God and the year 2000. But, this Movement does not pretend to suggest when Christ will return.
On that issue, the Bible clearly teaches that His Return will be unexpected for everyone. The good news is that to believers that Day won't be a damaging event--like a robber at midnight. But even for believers that Day will be unexpected (I Thess 5:2). Jesus compared His return to "the days of Noah," and those days in Matt 24:37, Luke 17:26, and I Pet 3:20, will be days of unanticipated terror for many, while the precise timing will be unexpected for everyone. Thus, the AD2000 movement does not attempt to predict the unpredictable.
The Great Commission? What about "The Completion of the Great Commission?" Is that the goal of the AD2000 Movement? This, too, is off limits in official AD2000 Movement documents. Of course, to complete the Great Commission is what we are all working for. But no one in AD2000 is bold enough to say for sure just what is implied by the completion of the Great Commission.
Since the Great Commission is not an idea that is specific enough to make into a measurable goal, the AD2000 Movement has wisely chosen a
purpose statement which is eminently measurable--A Church for Every People and the Gospel for Every Person. This statement ought not to be torn in two--as if you can get the Gospel to every person without planting a church movement which is meaningful to every person. See pages 12-18. Over the years considerable effort has been made for that goal to be as precise and measurable as possible. Thus the AD2000 Movement's goal for the year 2000 is something which will be clearly evident--or not--by December 31st of AD2000.
Let us not argue the wrong cause! Meanwhile we must guard against emotional or illogical thinking. What about those who scoff at the AD2000 movement because they think we are talking about the Return of Christ? Tell them we are very excited about the Return of Christ, but that we are not confusing His
Return with our measurable goal. What about those who scoff at the idea of completing the Great Commission by the year 2000? They too misunderstand the specific goal definition of the AD2000 Movement.
So, let us not argue the wrong cause. Satan would be happy to embroil us in such things, just to distract us from the task before us--the preaching of the Gospel within every people. The classical statement of that goal has been in print ever since 1981, and is contained in the appendix of my new book "Thy Kingdom Come" under the title--"A Church in Every People--Plain Talk About a Difficult Task." Those few pages tell how meaningful a living, accountable fellowship within every people is and how delicate a divine-human achievement it is. The AD2000 purpose statement is eminently reasonable, measurable and substantial, building as it does on so carefully defined a goal.
But some may still be confused. We simply must guard against saying, "We are sure it will be done." We must also recognize the folly of anyone unwise enough to say, "I am sure it won't be done." But we can still say, in faith, "I am sure it can be done."
By saying that we mean that our goal has never been a sure thing and will naturally get less likely as time passes. After all, what we have in mind that God wants to accomplish by the year 2000 may be close or far from His actual purposes. Yet, what He may decide to do by that time--or at that time--will reasonably depend upon what we and others do now and between now and then.
What can happen in five years? In our day more can be done in five years time than in 20 years back in the time of the Student Volunteer Movement at the beginning of this century--if only because travel time is less than one thirtieth of what it was then. Other things are in our favor, too. A hundred years ago it was impossible to pick up the phone and call across the world. It was unthinkable for one person to talk to one billion people simultaneously--as Billy Graham has done.
Not only that, but the peoples of the world have been massively shuffled. They now have links to other peoples through an unprecedented amount of dispersion and mixing. Almost no one in the world today is completely cut off from Coca Cola or flashlight batteries or Singer sewing machines--or even VCRs--or the Gospel. Someone has figured that there may only be 200 peoples in the world where there are no believers at all. There may be almost no groups within which there are not key "bridge"-bilinguals.
At the closing meeting in Korea, it is expected that after years of previous preparation 100,000 Korea young people alone will volunteer to carry the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Even if there were 10,000 still-unreached people groups, that would mean ten missionaries for every one--sent from Korea alone.
Furthermore, our plans cannot even begin to predict or control revival fire. Is it not likely that the God Who has often blessed this world with revival in the past will employ that kind of fire again? It has been said that in a true revival God can do in 20 minutes what might otherwise take 20 years. Are we praying for revival? As I write this we are hearing reports of revival fires on dozens of college and seminary campuses as well as in many cities and in other places around the world.
Let no one scoff at what God can do!