Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary

21 Feb 2022

Hopeful Signs


There is a lot of talk these days about how the culture is disintegrating and about concerns for whether the next generation of Christians will have the courage and conviction to take the stands for the name of Jesus Christ that will be necessary. There are legitimate concerns about the decay in our culture, and we should always have a biblically informed concern about the dangers ahead.

“Therefore let the one who thinks he stands watch out that he does not fall” (1 Cor 10:12).

Personally, I have been encouraged by what I am seeing among the next generation of Christ’s disciples. I get the privilege of training men for Gospel ministry every week, so I am regularly exposed to men who love the Lord and His Word. It’s possible my context skews my views because men in seminary are on the high end of conviction and commitment.

In the past twelve months, though, I have had two special opportunities to see what God is doing in young lives that have been a great encouragement to me. In March 2021 I had the privilege of speaking at Faith Baptist Bible College in Ankeny, Iowa for three days for their Walton Lecture Series. For that series, I did three expositional messages from Romans 14. Just this week I had the privilege of preaching in the Bible Conference at Bob Jones University. The theme was Contending for the Faith and I was asked to do two expositional messages covering the main sections of the book of Jude (vv. 5-16, 17-23). If you are familiar with those verses you know that they are not easy sledding at all. Some very challenging interpretive issues and complicated argumentation.

I think it is fair to say that my preaching is not very attractive to those who are interested in lots of stories loosely tied to a text of Scripture. I do my best to simply work through the text, identifying its central message and how that message is developed within the passage, then move to application. Meat and potatoes, not whipped cream.

Years ago I remember having a college administrator say—in what seemed like a somewhat exasperated manner—“You really made us think hard today.” I am not sure he was giving me a compliment, but I took it that way! I share that only to highlight the change from then to now. In both of the recent preaching opportunities, I was incredibly encouraged by how attentive the students were to careful exposition and overwhelmed with gratitude to God to see how thoughtful and warm their responses were. They asked great questions and expressed encouragement way past the simple “Good sermon” stuff. They had engaged with God’s Word and showed real hunger for hearing it taught carefully.

I left both campuses genuinely encouraged about what God is doing in this generation of young adults. What I have seen of their love for God’s Word gives me hope that God is doing a good work to turn the hearts of His people toward deep convictions about His authority over life. And I was extremely thankful that the leaders at these schools, Jim Tillotson and Steve Pettit, are making sure that solid exposition and Word-centered discipleship is happening on their campuses.

There is a lot happening these days that can be discouraging, but let’s not miss the hopeful signs of what God is doing too. May He be pleased to raise up a generation with convictional steel in their backbones because they love the Word!

3 Responses

  1. David Diez


    Thank you for the good and needful word. It is understandable that many Christians are discouraged about moral decadence in our culture. We ought to lament when we see a culture shed so flagrantly its Judeo-Christian veneer to display the rebellious characteristics of Romans 1:18-32, and, thereby, signifies God’s wrath upon it. For that very reason, disciples all the more ought to be eager to proclaim and live out the gospel unashamedly in a wrath-deserving world. We were foolish once ourselves but received God’s mercy in Christ because the Word was proclaimed to us. We, as disciples, need to have the steely conviction and the tender compassion to herald God’s life-saving truth to the unsaved people of the disintegrating culture.

    The problem of discouragement has set in because professing Christians in America could blend in culturally (even patriotically) and walk comfortably numb in the artificial light of Judeo-Christian cultural values of yesteryear. Now Christians and churches must live counterculturally in the midst of an increasingly pagan and hostile culture. To believe and walk with Christ in such a culture today is uncomfortable and discouraging.
    However, Christians need to be reminded that Christians in the first century lived in a worse state of affairs culturally as the Church was born into the heavily dense environment of Greco-roman heathenism. Here, we see the ineffective fruition of the pragmatic, market-driven ministry practices of a multitude of evangelical churches in the last forty years or so. This philosophy of ministry never prepared its membership to be a divergent force of truth to combat the surrounding worldliness of the culture because it converged the church with that worldliness. When the church neglects the nourishing milk of the Scriptures, the church becomes anemic and sick.

    However, now and henceforth, God has presented again the opportunity to jump-start Christians’ devotion to be clear, distinguishable, genuine lights for the sake of Christ and the Gospel in the midst of a perverse and crooked culture. I have been appealing to our church in Miami with that message from Matthew (English) and 1 Peter (Spanish). So you’re right! It is no time to be discouraged but to be encouraged about being countercultural as we should be. And be courageous in the strength of the Lord because we love the Word Incarnate and the Word Inscripturated.

    Thank you again, dear brother, you’ve encouraged me this morning. Keep preaching the Word in and out of season!