First up is a great essay at 9Marks. It is titled:
Cheerful Confidence after Christendom
It is apparent to even the most casual observer that cultural Christianity is dying. I've used the term "cultural collapse of Christianity" and others speak of 'post-Christian era' and 9Marks essay author Timothy Larson says "dissolution of Christendom" but it all means the same thing, the end of an era. Mr Larson explains it well and encourages us to relish the time such as this in which the Lord in His plan and wisdom put us. Being joyful and confident and triumphant in a time of evil and darkness and uncertainty will be an anomaly to one and all. Here is a short excerpt from Mr Larson's essay:
THANK GOD FOR GRANTING US NOWThe other item that was encouraging was another of Phil Johnson's sermons on the Psalms. It is an exposition of Psalm 122. The sermon is titled "A Foretaste of Glory Divine"
God has granted me the privilege to live now—in my own times. To wish otherwise is not only pointless, it is ungrateful. It is also self-defeating. Every season of life has its own joys. Foolishness is to want to have the joys of adulthood when still a teenager or the joys of adolescence when middle aged and so on.
Likewise, there are unique joys, privileges, and opportunities for serving God in each generation. We are called not to hanker after a different age, but rather to jump in with relish to following Christ at this moment. There is an old Puritan saying: “If you would make the greatest success of your life, try to discover what God is doing in your time, and fling yourself into the accomplishment of his purpose and will.”
YES, THERE ARE UNIQUE CHALLENGES
Our times, of course, have unique challenges. We are witnessing the dissolution of Christendom. Christendom was a long period of time in the West when Christian commitments and beliefs were buoyed up by political and cultural supports. In Christendom, there were worldly incentives to at least pretend to believe Christian doctrine and to observe Christian practices. To do so was good for one’s professional and social success.
So many Christians moan and groan about life, because they either do not study the prophetic scriptures to know what's coming, or they don't have an eternal perspective, or both. Mr Johnson expertly and beautifully opens the Psalm to us and eloquently describes the manifold and unspeakable glories to come. Here is but a taste: (and it is much better heard than read, but if you have connection problems a transcription is available.)
What Jerusalem was to David, the church is to you and me. It is the dwelling-place of God. It is a living, breathing, holy convocation of God's people, who gather to worship Him in unison. It is the very same fellowship of saints that will one day culminate in a heavenly convocation. It is a place of safety from the evils of a decadent world. It is a place where God's authority is acknowledged and submitted to with gladness. It is an oasis of divine grace in a desert of corruption. It is quite literally a foretaste of glory divine.
The greatest joy in heaven the centerpiece of it all will be the unspeakable glory of God. God's full glory will be on permanent display, and you will be able to see it with an unhindered view: examine it, and bask in it, and reflect it in all its perfection. You will be able to stand in the resplendence of that glory without any sense of guilt or shame. You will have a pure love for God that exceeds any love you have ever known. And the natural, inevitable, joyous response of your heart will be pure worship.
Please do take these two items as a matched pair. Be encouraged that you were placed here by the wisdom of God for just such a time as this, and that we have unspeakable joys to look forward to...SOON!