9/11 In Retrospect    (CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE LESSON  Audio lesson)

Five years ago on this day my family and I were living in Perth, Western Australia, serving as missionaries to Cross Road Bible Church. I will never forget the call that came from a friend around nine o’clock that evening. My friend said, “World war three is starting as we speak! Turn on your T.V.” Nan and I watched as the second plane slammed into the World Trade Center. From the other side of the world, we watched our homeland under attack. We cried in grief and rage at the carnage and slaughter perpetrated by cowardly and hate-filled men. Since that time I have not attempted to deal with this subject in a public way. So much has been written and said that I preferred to remain silent; listening, watching, and seeking to learn some vital lessons for the future. Looking back over the past five years, I believe one of the greatest dangers has not been the threat of violent death to our people, but the very subtle way in which we can be distracted from the essential issues of our existence to the squandering of our valuable time, energy, and resources on things of passing importance. We who have trusted in Jesus Christ are citizens of a kingdom that is not of this world. We are to be the heralds of the imminent return of our King and the inauguration of a heavenly civilization on this earth. Our message is one of pardon for all who believe in the Son of God, and eternal perdition for those who reject His sacrifice on the cross. With these things in mind, I believe we should give preeminence to the following eternal spiritual realities.


  1. There is no human solution to the dilemma of a condemned world.

This world and all that is of it is going to be destroyed. The problems of terrorism, weapons of mass destruction, natural disasters, famines et al will never be solved politically, militarily, economically, or internationally. The only solution for this world is one man (Jesus Christ), one act (the crucifixion), one decision (to bow to Him in faith), one soul at a time! Each of us must play our part in confronting and convicting our world with the individual offer of eternal life through faith in Christ (2Co 5:14-21).


     2.  The events unfolding across the globe will not get better, they will get

           worse. If Jesus is to be taken seriously (Mat 24:4-8), what we are now

           observing is only a prelude of much more terrible things to come. Our

           prayers for the souls of those around us, and effort to reach them with the

           life-giving truth of the Gospel, is more than all other activities combined. If

           we know that “these things must surely come to pass”, what futility it is to

           strive to change circumstances when we can change eternal destinies.


3.  The cross of Jesus Christ is the only light and hope that exists for  

every soul on the planet.  Our Lord died for every member of the human race.  There is hope in no other message on the face of this earth. The love of God knows no respect of persons and extends the offer of pardon and righteousness to people of every race and nation ( Act 17:30, Act 20:21, Act 26:20). Every one who does the will of God by believing in His Son is my

           brother and sister, whether we agree on other issues or not. 


4.  The wrath of God is being increasingly poured out, not on any given   

nation or people, but on a Christ-rejecting and God-hating world (Rom. 1:18-32). To stand in defiance of His sacrifice and love is to bring down certain destruction. Jesus, asked about certain disasters of His day, responded by saying, “unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (Luk. 13:1-5) What you and I choose to do with Jesus Christ today will determine what God will do with each of us in the future.


5.  The justice of God is so interwoven into the fabric of His creation that      

He “will render to each one according to his deeds.” (Rom. 2:6)

As a   believing child of God I am assured that I will never taste the woes of hell. However, this does not exempt me from the disciplinary hand of God (Heb. 12:5-11). Though my eternal destiny is secure, my experience is dependent on obedience to His word. How I live does make a difference. Our greatest security is not to be found in which political party is in power nor in the victory of our military forces (may God grant them success!), but rather in a life of close fellowship with our Heavenly Father.


6.  In every tragedy that occurs on this earth, God is at work to blessing       

out of it to those who will receive it.  (Rom 8:28)  In each and every

          catastrophe some soul is confronted with the conviction of approaching

          death, and the need to seek a right relation with God. In the burning

          towers, and on the ill-fated planes, there were believers strategically

          placed there by God to speak in His behalf. Whether they rose to the

          occasion or not only the judgment seat of Christ will tell. But I doubt not

          that souls entered eternity on those days which could have come to faith in

          no other way. Only eternity will show the wisdom of God in what He

          permits and what He forestalls.


    7.  Are we then as believers to sit back with a resigned and complacent

         attitude, or worse, fatalism? Absolutely not! The rebuke we need is that

         which Jesus offered to the religious people of His time. They were

         meticulous in observing certain practices, such as the offering of the

         smallest of garden herbs from heir weekly-market shopping. But Jesus said

         they had “neglected the weightier matters” of spiritual life, such as “justice,

         mercy and faith” (Mat. 23:23). His solution was one of spiritual perspective         

         and priority. “These (weightier matters) you ought to have done, without

         leaving the others (lesser issues) undone”. It is my fear, and experience

         that we are often side-tracked into the lesser things of time, while we ignore

         the weightier things of eternity. May God open the eyes of our                           

         understanding (Eph. 1:18), and give us the ability to discern the light and

         temporal from the weighty issues of eternity.


    8.  9/11/01 was a dramatic object lesson that all of history is a record of

         a colossal spiritual conflict between the God of grace and truth and

           the Devil, who was “a murderer and liar from the beginning” (Joh 8:44).

           The events of this “day of infamy” have revealed the greatest depths of depravity 

           and wickedness, as well as the highest examples of personal sacrifice and nobility. 

           Planet earth is the battlefield of the universal struggle between Divine good and

           Satanic evil. Men on earth reflect the character of the one they worship, whether

           the God of the universe, or the “god of this world” (2Co. 4:4). In this conflict truth

           is set against the lie, love against hate, and self-sacrifice against self-exaltation.

           Every soul must choose where it will stand, and there is no middle ground.

           These world crises bring men to the point of decision, and therefore destiny.


Since 9/11 we have each had to grapple with questions never faced by us before. But the issues that may be new to us are old in the record of history. Our country today is divided along many lines. However, ultimately we must be sure not to fall into divisions along false lines. If we keep the above truths and principles before us, we may be delivered from much confusion.  By keeping “first things first”, we may be kept from inflicting much unnecessary injury to others, and maintain a bright light in this dark place. May we all, by the matchless grace of God, be true ambassadors of His kingdom, and serve well as ministers of the reconciliation of the cross of Christ.


For the progress of the gospel, Phi 1:12

Gene Cunningham