“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14).
Many in the church today try to determine the nearness of Christ’s return by reading the signs of the times. We see such signs in specific events; for example, the return of the Jews to Israel. Yet one of the clearest statements Jesus makes about His second coming is contained in the verse above. The end will come only after the gospel has been preached to all nations—as a testimony.
The word that Jesus uses for “witness” in this verse is the same Greek word used for “testimony.” It means, literally, “proof of the fact.” Christ is speaking here of not just preaching the gospel, but presenting it as a testimony. In short, He says the gospel we preach is effective only if it is backed up by a life that testifies to its reality.
You would think that in America, a nation filled with thousands of evangelical churches, there would be a strong gospel witness. But many churches have compromised the true gospel of Christ. The fact is, even with all the evangelical preaching in many of these churches, there is very little testimony of Christ’s lordship in the people’s lives to back it up. They are not a true witness to the city or the nation.
Of course, there are exceptions. I think of a Baptist pastor who at one time planned to build a huge new building. His congregation was growing rapidly and he had begun studying the church-growth movement. But then his wife was stirred to pray and seek the Lord, and soon the pastor was doing the same. He quickly gave up his dream of huge numbers and began to be a testimony of what he preached.
For a recent sermon, the pastor set up a big screen at the front of the church. He told his congregation, “God’s Spirit has been speaking to me about the sins of this church. And today we’re going to see them in front of our very eyes!”
The pastor then flashed sin after sin on the screen—fornication, adultery, alcoholism, drug abuse, pornography. Then he began his sermon: “We’re not about to start building a big church right now. We’ve got to get Christ’s living tabernacle straightened out before we can do anything else. We have to live this gospel first!” Today the Spirit of God is moving mightily in that church. People are flocking to the Lord, getting their lives straight—because they are hearing a gospel with a testimony behind it!