Why 2030? By Dr. Elmer Towns
Dear Visionary Leader,
The Global Church Network is focusing its efforts towards completing the Great Commission by 2030, the 2,000th birthday of the Church. I believe you will find the article, “Why 2030?” to be informative and inspirational at the same time. After you have taken the time to read it, consider downloading it at www.Finish2030.com and sharing it with your friends.
“Jesus is the Christ, the savior of the world. He is so vastly important that the world’s dating hinges upon his birth-in B.C. (before Christ) or in A.D. (anno domini– “in the year of our Lord”). Establishing the actual year when Jesus was born . . . [is] important because that was the year when the Holy Trinity commenced the final stage of [his] plan to redeem fallen humans and to restore paradise in the New Jerusalem. . . So the year of Jesus’ birth is a pivotal year; salvation history turns upon it. Eternal life turns upon it” (Dikkon Eberhart, “What Year Was Jesus Born?” BibleStudyTools.com, December, 2018).
When was Jesus born? Matthew 2:1 tells us that Jesus was born “during the reign of King Herod” the Great. At “about that same time,” the Magi arrived in Jerusalem and reported they had seen the star in the west and had traveled to worship the boy born to be king. History tells us that Herod died in the year 4 B.C. Thus, we might conclude that Jesus had to have been born about one or two years before the date of Herod’s death, in order for the Magi to have had time for their travel and to describe to Herod how old the child, born at the time of the star, must have been. This would mean that Christ was born in 4 or 5 B.C.,Before Christ.
In Luke 3:1, we read about the preaching of John the Baptist “in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius,”which we know from history would have been approximately A.D. 29. We know that Jesus began preaching shortly after his baptism by John. But how long after? A month? A year? In Luke 3:23, we read, “Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his public ministry.” Would that still have been in A.D. 29? What does “about thirty years old” actually mean, when we desire to count backward toward a birth year? The consensus among scholars today (including most of the early church fathers) is that Christ was probably born in year 2 or 3 Before Christ.
The Christian world believes Jesus died in the Passover season on the “day of Preparation” (Friday) before the Sabbath (Saturday). Jesus was over 33 years old when He was crucified. The date of Jesus’ birth determines the date of His death. Most evangelicals, after examining the Bible carefully, conclude that Jesus died in the month of April in 30 AD. Thus they will celebrate 2030 as the 2,000th anniversary of Jesus’ death-and the birth of the Church.
The Global Church Network has taken 2030 as a target toward which we are diligently working to finish the Great Commission. The Network is proclaiming, “Why not accept this challenge?” and with prayers, planning and goal-setting, we are challenging churches around the world to work toward this 2,000th anniversary.
Why are we working so hard toward this date? If the church completes the Great Commission by this date, it would move the Church closer to the return of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14, NLT). What controls the return of Jesus Christ? When the gospel is preached to every (ethne) people group or tribe. This verse focuses not on political division of people or nations, but indigenous groups of people, separated by their language, values, and customs as reflected in their ethnic identity. This verse suggests when every ethnic people group has heard the gospel, then the end will come.
Some answer that this verse applies to the Tribulation years, and Jesus will return at the end of the wrath described in Matthew 24:4-13. They claim it is not about today and it is not about Jesus’ rapture to receive believers to Himself (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). The “end” described in that verses refers to the end of the tribulation of saints on earth.
Others have asked the question, “How effective must the gospel be preached to the whole world for Jesus to return?” Does it mean every group hears the gospel in their own language? Does it mean one or many persons from that lost tribe will be saved? Does it mean that the gospel is translated into the last ethnic language and preached clearly to communicate the message? Does it mean the Scriptures (whole or part), must be translated into the last language so the Bible can be effectively discipling new believers in the last tribe? Does it mean people are saved, baptized, and in a living church (local body of Christ), so that they have a corporate witness to that last unreached language group, (Matthew 28:19-20)-so that the preaching cycle of the gospel must be completed from proclamation to the formation of a church?
The Global Church Network is not saying Jesus will come in 2030, or that He might return in that year. Those who predict a specific time or target have lost credibility with the media as well as with the Christian public.
We must remember we don’t know when the Great Commission will actually be completed, or when Jesus will return. Jesus said, “No one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows” (Matthew 24:36, NLT).
We must be careful suggesting dates, because in our lifetime many people have been dreadfully wrong. In 1973, evangelist Jack Van Impe said Jesus was coming on Rosh Hashanah, i.e., the Feast of Trumpets, in October 1974. He taught this feast typified the rapture because it called Israel workers from the field after the harvest was over. Edgar Whisenant wrote a book 88 Reasons Why Christ Will Come in 1988, and mail it free to millions in the United States. He named that Rosh Hashanah date because it was 40 years after the Jews officially returned to the Holy Land and established the nation of Israel on May 14, 1948.
John Hagee, pastor of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, said that a tetrad (a series of four consecutive lunar eclipses-coinciding on Jewish holidays-with six full moons in between, and no interning partial lunar eclipses) began in 2014 and described the moon turning to blood-or appearing as blood-in Acts 2:20, and Revelations 6:12. But Jesus didn’t come in September 2015, and Hagee lost credibility. He still has a viable ministry, but the media doesn’t seem to seek him for quotes to the degree they once did.
No one knows when Jesus will return. Even Jesus Himself said the only One to know was “the Father” (Matthew 24:36). Like the popular television program Father Knows Best, at the “perfect” time the Father will turn to Jesus and say, “Go get Our children.”
Perhaps the time Jesus will return is the same as for the timing for His first arrival: “When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son” (Galatians 4:4). Jesus will return, not when humans predict, but when the Father chooses the fullness of time for Him to come the second time.
Is that “time” a calendar date? Probably any human’s guess won’t come close.
Is that “time” when the “Omegan” is won to Christ? The title “Omegan” comes from Alpha and Omega, i.e., the first and last. So, the last one to get saved before Jesus returns is an individual-called an Omegan, whether man, woman or child-who lives in that last unevangelized tribe of ethnic people.
Is that “time” when the Scriptures are transcribed into the last language of an unevangelized ethnic group of people? Is this the production of Bible portions into the language of a previously unreached people group? Does that new translation of Scripture represent a corporate evangelistic proclamation to the last tribe?
The Global Church Network is not setting dates. We simply read the facts of Scripture and try to be obedient to Jesus’ last command, the Great Commission, to do all we can-as diligently as we can-as soon as we can-to reach as many as we can with the gospel. We will do this, then pray with John, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20).
The 2000th birthday of the Church will either be the greatest celebration or greatest condemnation. It will be an amazing celebration if we can say to our Lord, “All of the ethnic groups now have access to the Gospel!” It will be a gloomy condemnation if we say, “Lord, we are now 2,000 years old, but the Great Commission is still not done!”
Until the Last Person Has Heard,
Dr. Elmer Towns
CoChair/Dean, Global Church Learning Center