What Shall We Do?THE WORLD
Matt.24:36-39 - But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
II Tim.4:3-4 - For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
It is impossible to pinpoint the exact day of our Lord’s return, however the days are evil and the faith once delivered to the saints has slipped away. We have watched as entertainers professing to be preachers have tickled ears and excited the masses. Conferences are held that promise to help pastors elicit funds from wealthy parishioners, and to provide techniques to increase membership roles and Sunday morning attendance. Unbelievers like Benjamin Netanyahu are invited to speak to believers, and millions of professing believers believe Jewish people can be saved without Christ.
Preachers live lavish lifestyles and teach a Jesus who is the head of a ponzi scheme that seems to benefit preachers the most. The western church has built another golden calf and millions worship it with great vigor. Churches by the tens of thousands are in debt to the world’s institutions and billions of church dollars in mortgage interest go to fund all sorts of sinful and hedonistic enterprises. Christian television is no longer Christian, and the Madison Ave. advertising strategies help sell books and Cds across the western world.
Media has created religious icons whose image has been so inflated that millions of professing believers will believe whatever their favorite preacher says without a shred of Biblical scrutiny. In fact, the Bible, although quoted, is no longer even relevant in this new evangelical tsunami. There are now only pockets of true Christianity in the west. And the fearful thought is that millions upon millions of professing believers have succumbed to a false Jesus and a false gospel and will perish in the end. How chilling to even ponder.
And it isn’t just the prosperity churches or the seeker sensitive churches that have slipped into a man made caricature of the church of Jesus Christ. The slippery slope has found its way into all sorts of churches that have an orthodox statement of faith. Christian counselors charge exorbitant rates just to help people. Secular psychology has replaced Biblical direction. When a church enters a fund raising venture, many now employ a fund raising expert who stays on staff long enough to elicit the funds and promise of funds necessary to build whatever it is the church believes it needs.
Slick presentations, wonderful literature, networking, Scriptural manipulation, and an array of techniques are employed in order to fleece the flock. And in the end, unlike the Biblical example of building the Tabernacle without debt, the church visits the bank with promises in hand and borrows from the world’s financial system. And they call it God’s blessing. And why? Because the western believer must worship in comfort and the preacher knows his church can only grow with new and bigger barns. It is a vicious cycle that runs on schemes rather than God’s Spirit.
This week I heard that a SBC church had paid a secular person in excess of $100,000 to be the pastor’s “personality coach” to leverage a greater ability to raise funds. It is most disgusting and heartbreaking as well. These kind of things happen all the time in seemingly orthodox churches. Instead of prayer and fasting and delving deep into God’s Word, preachers major in lunch, golf, telephone, twitter, committee meetings, and all kinds of worthless activities. Sermons can be purchased, and many preachers have learned long ago the value of a good music service.
Never in ecclesiastical history has there been so many churches with millions upon millions of attendees with little or no tangible evidence of God’s presence or power within a culture of darkness. And even being planted within the most hedonistic culture in modern times, and with every sin known to mankind practiced openly, the church goes unpersecuted and actually embraced by that same culture. But in reality, this is not the church of Jesus Christ at all. The Spirit has left and Ichabod is written upon the church doors.
But what about us? Is it enough to be able to discern the most flagrant ecclesiastical departures in others? As Christianity disappears from the western evangelical landscape, what is God saying to us? Do we sit idly by and become blind to our own powerlessness? Can we not see that even though we refuse to descend into religious greed and entertainment, we ourselves are in desperate need of a revival? While we excoriate Warren and Bell and Osteen and all the usual suspects, are we content with the tepid and redundant expression of our own faith? We can see the chains on Jacob Marley but are blind to our own bondage?
That, my friends, is THE question. What is our responsibility before our Master? As the church departs, are we to stand still and watch with self satisfying and self justifying disdain? The Spirit desires to filet us open before Him and for us to surrender to reinvigorate our own spiritual lives. That process will require some sacrifice. It will demand our time and we will be faced with choosing to continue to allow television and entertainment to dominate our lives, or choosing to go a different direction. Prayer will have to become a priority. A major priority.
This business of prayer will have to become a journey. Prayer has fallen out of favor among believers except for some paltry expressions and some lip service. Most churches have no authentic prayer meeting of any length or substance. The preacher is no longer a man of prayer and his congregation embraces what is important by seeing what is important in the life of the shepherd. People no longer rise an hour early or stay up an hour later to pray. Prayer has been lost to the church except in a perfunctory and fossilized form.
But make no mistake. Prayer, true prayer, is never easy. And without an unusual commitment from the church leaders in their own personal lives, then most of the believers will remain content in their present spiritual condition. We will compare ourselves with ourselves as well as think more highly of ourselves than we ought when we compare ourselves with all the false teachers. Contentment is good when it is in the Lord, but contentment can also be a blindness.
Oh for the days when the church had an impact on its surroundings. Oh for the days when men and women believers marched triumphant to their martyred deaths. Oh for the days when the church was consumed with Christ and believers counted their lives as sacrificial servants. Oh for the days when God’s Word was a believer’s life and breath. Oh for the days when self denial was a privileged practice.
Unless we once again unearth New Testament Christianity, we will be left with scraps that do not nourish, do not fulfill, and most of all do not please nor represent the Crucified and Risen Christ. There is still a fountain. There is still God’s Spirit. And there is still a Savior who wishes to fill the church with Himself. If we will hear His voice, seek His face, and surrender to His will, then and only then can we say with authenticity that Jesus is our Lord.