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Principles cited for facing Y2K as well as the end times

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Christians can face the Y2K Millennial Bug with confidence by holding to principles written to guide first-century believers, according to Jim Richards, director of missions for the Northwest Baptist Association, Rogers, Ark.
“Some people are seeing a major catastrophe on the horizon with Y2K,” Richards said of the possibility that many computer systems worldwide will malfunction because they will be thrown off by antiquated computer codes unable to interpret the year 2000. “Others are saying it is going to be a minor blip on the screen of life, and some are saying there is nothing to be concerned about at all,” Richards said Sept. 25 at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Mo.
“Now, we are sensible to prepare for some of the potential Y2K problems,” Richards said. “But remember, God will supply us wisdom and supply the needs we have.”
Aware of the uncertainty facing many Americans and many Christians about the year 2000, Richards urged listeners to look to Scripture for guidance regarding the end times.
“Really, the Y2K issue is just a symptom of many of the difficulties we face living in the last days,” Richards said during a seminary chapel service. “If Jan. 1, 2000, passes without a problem, we should still be convinced we are living in the last days because our eschatology is based not upon the headlines of the news but upon what ‘thus saith the Lord.'”
In addition to his DOM responsibilities, Richards currently serves as an adjunct professor with Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and as director of the seminary’s Northwest Arkansas Center for Theological Studies. Before coming to the region in 1995, Richards was pastor of South Oaks Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, La. He has also served in various positions within the Southern Baptist Convention, including chairing the Committee on Order of Business and, from 1988-95, serving as a trustee of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
Richards spoke from 2 Peter 3, which he said was written to instruct believers how to respond in the last days, which began at the day of Pentecost. The Christian’s first response, Richards said, should be to have a command of the Scriptures. He said that in 2 Peter 3:1-2, Peter upheld the authority of the Scriptures, and in verses 15 and 16, Peter affirmed the inspiration of the Scripture.
“God has given us the authority in his Word, and what we need to confront our culture of today and the future of tomorrow is a command of the Scriptures,” Richards declared. “It is not my opinion or your opinion, but it is what God has said that will guide us through the maze of the days ahead.”
The Christian’s second response according to Peter is to confront scoffers, Richards said. Looking to verses three through eight and verse 17, Richards said scoffers deny the Lord’s character, his promised coming, his powerful creation, his planned consummation and his personal control. Richards challenged listeners to confront such scoffers or risk the consequences of inaction.
“One of the reasons that we had the moral decline in our nation, with the four of the highest officeholders as Southern Baptists, is that neo-orthodoxy ran rampant in our seminaries and pulpits in the ’60s and ’70s,” Richards said. “We had an entire generation or more that did not have the authority of the Word of God and the scoffers being confronted.”
Pointing again to the text, Richards also said believers must remember who is in control, even in these latter days.
“It says in verse seven that God is going to bring this world to an orderly end,” Richards said. “It is not some bleary-eyed individual with a shaky hand over a red button in the Kremlin. It is not some person with a flawed character sitting in the White House with his finger over a button. It is not some wild-eyed terrorist of some religious sect that is going to cause bacterial or nuclear holocaust to come upon this world and bring it to an end. I have the assurance from the Word of God that God has a planned consummation, and man will not interfere when God’s planned consummation comes. It cannot happen prematurely, and it will not happen before God brings it to a close.”
The next response of believers, Richards said, is to commend God’s salvation. He pointed out some people believe God doesn’t keep his promises, since his desire that all men come to repentance, as expressed in 2 Peter 3:9, seems incongruent with the fact that some are not saved. However, Richards noted God promises to save all those who come to him. It is his steadfastness to this promise, he said, which gives the Christian impetus in evangelism.
“Missions and evangelism are our part to accomplish the biblical mandate,” said Richards. “Romans 10:14 says, ‘How shall they hear without a preacher?’ In Minnesota and Wisconsin and the Dakotas, in Nebraska and Iowa and across our great western range, there are places crying out, there are people there that God will call to himself. But how shall they hear without a preacher? We are to commend God’s salvation — not preaching a cheap grace, but preaching the truth of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Peter’s letter suggests two final responses, Richards said. In 2 Peter 3:10-13, the believer is admonished to anticipate the Lord’s return, a fact Richards said should provoke Christians to intensely long for his coming. Finally, Richards said believers in the end times should be conformed to the image of the Savior. He looked to verses 11, 14 and 17-18 in affirming the believer’s call to a life of steadfast holiness.
“Holiness is not an option for believers in the 21st century,” Richards declared. “Holiness was not an option for believers in the first century, and that truth is continuing to transcend time and cultural settings. God has called us to be a peculiar people.”
Richards concluded with an exhortation to faithfulness during these last days.
“Peter spoke words that ministered to the believers in the first century, and as we approach the 21st century, we are to minister the Word of God so that Jesus may be glorified in these last days,” he said. “We are called upon to be faithful to the end. And whether Jesus comes in our lifetime or not, God has called us to be faithful.”

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  • Clinton Wolf