What do you do when the light turns yellow? If you’re impatient on the road like I am, you probably apply the gas appropriately and hurry through the intersection to avoid waiting at a red light. The Lord will teach us patience. However, according to the law, every driver has to stop at a yellow light, unless he or she is too close to stop safely. Debate wages over what exactly is “too close” to stop, yet there is agreement that “too close” is when your vehicle passes the point of no return. While the point of no return varies due to diverse factors, an endeavor to stop after this point presents potentially fatal dangers to cross traffic and even your own life.
Erich Bridges, a global correspondent for the Baptist International Mission Board, wrote an article regarding Arab converts heading deep into the Sahara to tell the story of Christ to hostile nomad camps.1As they left their camp, there was a point when they could still see their wives and children waving good-bye, faint silhouettes of their tents, and camel footprints in the sand. Yet, once these safe and comforting visions were out of view, the point had been reached: the point of no return. They were too far into Sahara territory to turn back. Upon entrance to the first camp, the leader, Shama, was falsely accused of speaking evil of the Prophet Mohammed and was thus beaten with rods and stabbed in the leg. Saved by his fellow missionaries, his life was spared, and his wound was sewn up with horsehair.
Were his wounds reason enough to retreat? How could he turn back after suffering such things? He had come too far to turn back. Had he journeyed deep into the Sahara just to suffer a stab wound and merciless beatings? No, he had journeyed to tell the story of Jesus. He had journeyed to win souls. Thus, he kept going. He had passed the point of no return. It would be foolish and unsafe to turn back. Every ounce of persecution urged him on as if to prevent the difficulties and suffering from being in vain.
Is it not so with us? All that we have suffered in life? All that we have spent, donated, participated in, preached, endured, accepted, risen above, lost, gained, reminds us that we have passed the point of no return. We have had too many sleepless nights. We have borne too many temptations. We have gained too many victories, been inspired by too many sermons, responded to too many appeals, experienced too many blessings, attended too many conferences, and sacrificed too much to turn back now.
As a generation, perhaps the last generation, we must see that we are well beyond the point of no return. All the fulfilled prophetic signs plead with us to bring about the last sign of the end: the gospel to every nation as a witness.2 Each sign of the end has borne its appointed witness in fulfillment of the prophetic words of Jesus. Previous generations had the knowledge that we have today, but failed to finish the work. Now is the time for my generation to act upon present truth and be faithful to the commission! It is going to be done by a generation that fully embraces the principles that moved the heart of Jesus from the throne of heaven to the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary today. Jesus would stop at nothing to save. No sacrifice was large enough. No suffering was painful enough. No path was dark enough.
The Last Day
A last day brings us to a place of remembrance and nostalgia. Imagine Abraham’s last day in Ur of Chaldees with his father and brother. Imagine Jesus’ last day in the carpenter shop before heading to the Jordan to be baptized by John. Imagine Jesus’ last day with His disciples before the Ascension. Celebrations tend to be the order of the day when it comes to the last day of a pastor at his church or a professor at his school.
But there was one last day where I don’t imagine a celebration was held: Jesus’ last day in heaven before the incarnation. How many angels and unfallen beings did Jesus need to embrace? What did the Father and Son say to each other before Jesus took flesh upon Himself? Was Jesus looking back as He walked through the pearly gates? No! Furthermore, Jesus’ decision to become a man was not a temporary, for the moment change. According to The Desire of Ages, when God gave Jesus to us on the cross and in human flesh, He gave Him forever.3
This leads us to realize that Jesus made choices and sacrifices out of love for God and man that changed Him forever. He wasn’t afraid to commit to a life-altering sacrifice. Are we? What have we given to God forever?
When we look at the life of Jesus, we see a life that was lived not out of fear of pain, but fear of disobedience. This was a life that would never turn back; a life that every Christian is bidden by his own profession to follow. Are you ready?
No turning back. You’ve already passed the point of no return.
For this year’s issue, the Lord provided extremely powerful and cogent articles on this year’s GYC theme: No Turning Back. We begin with our very own GC president addressing the importance of our distinctiveness as a church and that our rich heritage makes it impossible to turn back. We then move to Jeffrey Rosario, who reminds us that we should get angry when we see ourselves and our church turning back. Thando Malambo clearly articulates that point of no return as a point of absolute surrender and abandon as exemplified by Jesus and the apostles. Dr. Pipim provides us with an exegetical guide on how to rightly view unjust suffering, which tends to be our primary reason for turning back from radical commitment to Jesus. Dr. Damsteegt masterfully paints the picture of the shaking, clears up misconceptions, and challenges us to take a bold stand coupled with unyielding sacrifice.
Dr. Olatunji’s overview of the biblical and spirit of prophecy basis for our standards on modesty and adornment is concise and Christ-centered. We end with a play on our theme by David Asscherick, teaching us when to turn back from our turning back, and reminding us of the beautiful promise that it is possible to never backslide by the power of the Spirit.
May the Lord help us to never turn back.
2 Matthew 24:14
3 The Desires of Ages, 25