I firmly believe that the future of our once great nation lies squarely at the doorstep of the church. I further believe that God has given us a (what could very well be His last) wake-up call. We can either choose to sleep through it or be energized by it.
The world is going to do what the world is going to do - the problem we have is, generally speaking, the church is not doing what God has commanded us to do. His first commission to us (which has never been repealed) goes back to Genesis 1:28 where He commanded us to subdue and have dominion over all the earth. This would include concern and care for social, moral and spiritual values as well as for the natural environment.
As we all know, all He asks us to do is trust and obey Him. As a rule, we don't do either very well but we really seem to stumble over the obey part. The Old Testament is replete with His admonitions of what would happen if His people obeyed (blessings) and what would happen if His people didn't obey (curses).
Generally speaking, although there certainly are exceptions, today's church is having little or no impact on our culture - which includes the building blocks of our culture, families. Bottom line: our nation is in a mess because our families are in a mess and our families are in a mess because our churches are in a mess.
The church is comprised of a group of people (sheep - which sometimes bite) who will normally follow the pastor (shepherd). The problem seems to be that the pastors are not effectively leading the flock in the right (biblical) direction. Perhaps this is because too many pastors fear man more than they fear God or perhaps too many of them have not been called by God to their positions (Jer 23:21)?
I used to have all the answers - now I don't even know the questions so I took the liberty of borrowing excerpts and selected quotes from an outstanding book, Is America Committing Suicide? by recently departed author, Austin L. Sorenson. I believe many of them, unfortunately, hit the proverbial nail right on the head:
William Howard Taft declared, "Too many people don't care what happens as long as it doesn't happen to them."
From Edward Gibbon's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Sorenson draws an alarming parallel with our nation today. The most common basic reasons for the fall of the Roman Empire:
- Rapid increase in divorce and the undermining of the sanctity of the home.
- Spiraling rise of taxes and extravagant spending.
- Mounting craze for pleasure and brutalization of sports.
- Building gigantic armaments while failing to realize the real enemy lay within its gates; i.e. the moral decay of its people.
- Decay of religion and the fading of faith into a mere form, leaving the people without a guide.
Could America be asking the same question posed in Deut 31:17: "Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us?"
Think about it: We used to blush... when we were ashamed; now we are ashamed when we blush.
Our national addiction to television is a serious problem in our nation - one from which Christians are not immune. What TV gives you is just what you'd expect to get from a vacuum tube.
Isaiah 1:4 says, "Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters; they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward."
As stated above, as goes the home, so goes the nation. The breakdown of the family is a symptom of a dying nation. The home is the foundation of a nation. It has been described as the oldest institution in the world.
Isaiah could very well be speaking to us as well as to the Israelites of his time (see Is 1:9-15). Look especially at verse 15 where he said God will no longer hear their prayers. "And spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear; your hands are full of blood."
Mal 2:17 says, "Ye have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet ye say, 'Wherein have we wearied him?' When ye say, 'Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them' or 'Where is the judgment of God?'"
Even the evil Communist leader, Lenin, understood how easy it is to prey on Christians when he remarked, "We will find our most fertile field for the infiltration of Marxism within the field of religion, because religious people are the most gullible and will accept most everything if it is couched in religious testimony."
Here are a couple of timely excerpts from the Prophet, Jeremiah:
Jer 5:31 - "The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so; and what will ye do in the end thereof?"
Jer 50:6 - "My people hath been lost sheep; their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains; they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their resting place."
Paul C. Konnor explains the pathos of the modern pulpit: "We are telling the people what they want to hear . telling a sick and dying world that all is well. We are afraid to preach judgment, sin and damnation . such preaching has never been popular."
Leonard Ravenhill: "Our present-day effete evangelism with its emphasis on happiness would have shocked John the Baptist. We try to induce happiness on a heart diseased with sin. We offer Band-Aids to folks who need radical spiritual surgery for the cancer of carnality in the breast. The church offers a religion of convenience - 'short sermons and a sunny theology.' The Gospel has been made palatable with a huge dose of 'saccharin Christianity'."
In far too many cases, the church has gone into the entertainment business. If what we want is entertainment, let's be honest enough to call it that and quit trying to disguise it as religion.
Wilbur M. Smith writes, "What I am now going to say will probably shock many people; it is so contrary to everything that is being expressed in this age of an anemic toleration of every conceivable kind of heresy, in this age when people are so glibly advocating a spineless universal religion, and fearful of offending anyone by our own religious convictions. Let me put it frankly in one brief sentence: What we need today is some downright, manly, courageous intolerance in the Christian church of all those tendencies and humanistically-derived theories which, while they may encourage the pride of man, are wholly destructive of anything bearing a resemblance to New Testament Christianity."
Paul Muhlenberg in 1766 spoke these words in a farewell sermon to his congregation: "There is a time to preach and a time to fight, and that time has come."
William Arthur Ward wrote, "When we should speak out against evil, our silent assent is as self-damaging, as destructive, and as cowardly as verbal consent."
Dr. J. Gresham Machen, "Paul was a great fighter. Read the Epistles with care, and you will see Paul always in conflict. At one time he fights paganism in life. At another time he fights paganism in thought. Everywhere we see the great apostle in conflict for the preservation of the church. If you have the peace of God in your heart, you will never shrink from controversy; you will never be afraid to earnestly contend for the Faith."
I Pet 4:17 - "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God.." The pastor's primary concern should be 'the house of God.' In other words, revival must begin in the pulpit. Ezekiel cried out in Ezek 9:6 - "Begin at my sanctuary.." There must be repentance in the pulpit if there is to be repentance in the pew.
Pastors and Christian workers must bear much of the blame for the condition of the average church in our country. First of all, some should not be in the pulpit. Jeremiah describes them as unsent prophets (Jer 23:21): "I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran; I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied." These unsent prophets have no message from God to deliver but "speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Lord," Jer 23:16. Pastors should forget about pleasing their congregations. If God called, don't spend time looking over your shoulder to see who is following.
Revival begins with believers. "As go the believers, so goes the nation."
America has a chance if she will accept the prognosis of Isaiah as to her spiritual condition and apply the remedy for her wretched condition as found in Is 1:16-20: "Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow. Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land; but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it."
"Once to every man and nation Comes the moment to decide In the strife of truth with falsehood For the good or evil side," James Russell Lowell.