The Gospel Information Superhighway
By Dr. Nathan E. Jones
Have you ever considered the significance of the timing of Christ’s First Coming? Why did Jesus come 2,000 years ago? Why not 3,000 or even 5,000 years ago?
I believe much of the answer lies in the revolutionary new communications technology that came about in His time. Jesus was born at the height of the Roman Empire after it had taken control over much of the known world. The Romans built innovative road systems so that they could send messages faster, engage in commerce farther, and move their armies to and fro very quickly. This new form of rapid transit, coupled with a common language, revolutionized the way an empire could be held together. And for a thousand years, the Roman Empire flourished much in part to their superhighways.
The same Roman transit technology that had allowed the communication of information and ideas also provided a little backwater nation the ability to speak to an entire empire. While Jesus stayed predominantly in Galilee, His disciples took to the highways to spread the Gospel message across the known world. And so, Christ’s first advent was perfectly timed to utilize this new technology.
A Second Revolution
I believe we are now witnessing a second massive leap in communications, for the technology that unites today’s world comes from the amalgamation of the many technologies that make up the Internet “Information Superhighway.”
The Internet consolidates a virtually mind-numbing array of various technologies: radios, transmitters, televisions, cell towers, satellites, cable, cameras, Wi-Fi, fiber optics, and the complicated infrastructure that connects print, audio, and video technologies into one massive network. And this list covers only the tip of the communications technologies iceberg.
The true birth of the Internet came some 60 years ago when all these technologies began to be linked together. We may call it the Internet today, but this wonder of modern-day life was initially created as a means for scientists to share their computer data across vast distances in combating the Cold War.
As soon as the Soviet Union launched the first manmade satellite Sputnik into orbit on October 4, 1957, a spooked U.S. federal government quickly responded by forming the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Department of Defense’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). These agencies would wage the Cold War by developing space-age technologies that would lead the world into the digital age.
Military experts in the 1950s worried that a few missiles could take down the whole network of telephone lines which make efficient long-distance communication possible. And so, in 1962, a scientist at ARPA by the name of J.C.R. Licklider proposed his solution of building a “galactic network” of computers that could talk to one another and enable government leaders to communicate, even if the Soviets destroyed the phone system.
On October 29, 1969, two house-sized computers, one at the research lab at UCLA and the second at Stanford University, shared their first node-to-node message which read “LOGIN”. By the end of 1969, the two computers linked together became four, and throughout the 1970s more and more military and research computers all around the world were identifying each other by Internet Protocol (IP) address and sharing their data.
Then, in 1991, a Swiss computer programmer named Tim Berners-Lee (not Al Gore) opened the expanding connectivity up to the general public over what he called the World Wide Web. Berners-Lee created the very first Web server (CERN HTTPd) and the very first website (http://info.cern.ch/). Now anyone with a personal computer can access the Web over browsers such as Mosaic, Netscape, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Edge, and Safari.
With such massive amounts of data being shared as millions of new computers were being connected to the Internet every day, search engines such as Google, AltaVista, AskJeeves, Yahoo, and later Bing mapped and indexed all that data, recently aided by artificial intelligence (AI). A world of information is literally available at anyone’s fingertips via their desktop or mobile device.
As of 2020, 4.54 billion of the 7.77 billion people in the world are connected to the Internet, and 4.18 billion of them utilize mobile devices. In the United States, 100% of 18- to 29-year-olds, 97% of 30- to 49-year-olds, 88% of 50-to 64-year-olds, and 73% of 65-year-olds and older are Web “surfers.” The average Internet user spends 6.5 hours online every day generating 88,555 gigabytes of Internet traffic every second. The average smartphone user will spend an average of 3 hours 49 minutes each day on their devices, dedicating 90% of their time to downloading any of the 5+ million applications (Apps) from the leading App stores such as Google Play, Apple’s iTunes, and Amazon.
Truly, the Internet has developed into today’s Tower of Babel. Language barriers are even becoming a thing of the past as translation Apps such as Google Translate have been developed to turn one’s smartphone into a Star Trek-like universal translator.
Networks are getting faster and more robust, as fifth-generation (5G) technology is being implemented at record speed to keep up with the exabytes of data being shared. And the Internet continues to expand into its third phase, seeking to encompass every device from your coffeemaker to your car into the Internet of Things (IoT), and from your Neuralink brain chip to your pacemaker in the Internet of Bodies (IoB).
Alphabet, the parent company which owns Google, has risen to become a monopoly, channeling 92% of Web searches and 44% of all emails generated, and it now decides who sees what information. Cries of Internet censorship, especially against Christian and Conservative viewpoints, are on the rise. As television fiction writer J. Michael Straczynski quoted through one of his characters, “He who controls information controls the world.”
A New Opportunity
While Satan continues to purge the Christian voice from the Internet in his mad climb toward global domination, his control is not yet absolute, granting the Church a short window of opportunity. After all, isn’t it amazing that right now we can reach out to over two-thirds of the world’s population through the Internet? The Apostles of the first century could have only dreamed of such an outreach!
In just the last decade, smartphones and other smart devices have become so widely popular that they have exponentially increased online connectivity, thereby giving more and more people the opportunity to be exposed to the Gospel. The opportunities to reach distant people with the Good News are more prevalent now than they have ever been before.
I believe that the Scriptures were in part prophesying today’s communications technology when Jesus said in the Last Days the Gospel would be spread throughout the entire world. That’s why God has provided this second revolution in worldwide communications for this specific purpose.
Recognize the Times
Knowing the Lord has given us this window of opportunity, how should Christians respond? Is there an “App” for that?
First, when you accept the fact that the Lord could return at any moment, you will begin to recognize the times in which we are living. You will be comforted knowing that God has got it all under control, that He has a great big plan in place, and that God’s children play a vital role in that plan. As we wait for Christ’s return, Christians are called to holy living and to serve our Lord in evangelism.
For non-Christians who recognize the significance of the huge paradigm shift towards darkness the world is currently undergoing, the realization should act like an alarm clock buzzing you awake to the fact that the world doesn’t have much time left to it. We are all living on borrowed time. Therefore, respond to the Holy Spirit’s leading, praying from your heart in faith and repentance, and ask Jesus to be your Savior.
Utilize to E-vangelize
Second, knowing that our Savior will be returning soon, consider how you can utilize all of these great technologies that God has given us to e-vangelize the world for Jesus Christ. Pretty much all of us have access to the Internet, so that means that anybody can become an Internet evangelist by picking up a smartphone and tweeting, getting on Facebook and sharing a post, building their own website or blog, or sending emails.
Almost the entire world is now accessible at your fingertips. So, take a ride on that Gospel Information Superhighway! Share the Good News about Jesus Christ and His soon return.