Monday, May 31, 2010

America's Spiritual Crisis and the Unintended Consequence of Spiritual Lethargy (pt.2)

It’s been a hectic few weeks for me. But I wanted to continue the discussion on Spiritual Lethargy. In the first post I stated "The world purposely fights the teaching of God in order to release itself from His submission. Like Satan, the world wants to be its own God." If you do not believe that then read some of the comments that are posted to Christian News articles. Yesterday it was announced that a group of Chinese explorers discovered Noah's Ark on the side of Mt Ararat. Only time will tell if it is indeed true. But flood story aside, the flurry of comments trying to debunk the idea of a Literal Ark that saved Noah, his three sons, and their wives from the Great Flood are almost comical. But in reality they are very sad and pitiable. The lack of understanding about the Ark story in the scripture is very prevalent; which indeed underscores the writing of this article. Sure, we know we have an enemy on the dark side that is going to try his best to trip up God's word, His people, and Christianity in general. It's a given. And for sure, there will always be those who will never believe. Lack of conviction and a hard-hearted unwillingness to listen to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit in drawing them will always keep them at bay from God while on earth. But those excuses do not excuse us from conveying God's word, fulfilling the Great Commission of Mt. 28:19-20:

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you..."

We, as a Church, will be held accountable for the souls of this generation. Whether they be blatantly anti-Christian, violent, or just mocking we have to tell them about Jesus.

To be sure, there are churches today that are teaching God’s word and ministering to the masses in awesome ways. God has blessed them in their collective effort. But it’s the exception. The belief that there is a Church that will fill the needs of society on every corner no longer holds sway. Churches are folding all over the nation. One of the calls I had while pastoring was to work with God in restoring failing churches. Let me tell you, it was awesome. God worked in those small churches that had from 5-15 members to build them up to a few hundred in a short time. They actually got to the point where they were self-sustaining; meaning they could pay their bills, support a pastor, and support missions. What did it take? Going back to God's word and believing in what was taught. Paul stated in Rom. 1:16:

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek."

The leadership in the church must first and foremost never be ashamed of the Gospel! If someone mocks because you believe that God destroyed the earth because of sin, yet saved it via Noah and an Ark then hold your head high. You will find yourself in the company of Christ. 2 Tim 1:8a states:

"Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord..."

When you stand for the scripture you stand for Jesus. He stood proudly upon it quoting the OT dozens of times. A proud poster with the name 3John2 posted the following at http://www.puritanboard.com/:

"THE TESTIMONY OF THE NEW TESTAMENT TO THE INSPIRATION OF THE OLD TESTAMENT. Jesus has been proven to be not only a credible witness, but a messenger from God. In all His teachings He referred to the divine authority of the Old Testament (Mt. 5:17-18; 8:17; 12:40-42; Lk. 4:18-21; 10:25-28; 15:29-31; 17:32; 24:25-45; Jn. 5:39-47). He quoted the Old Testament 78 times, the Pentateuch alone 26 times. He quoted from Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Proverbs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Amos, Jonah, Micah, and Malachi. He referred to the Old Testament as “The Scriptures,” “the word of God,” and “the wisdom of God.” The apostles quoted 209 times from the Old Testament and considered it “the oracles of God.” The Old Testament in hundreds of places predicted the events of the New Testament; and as the New Testament is the fulfillment of, and testifies to the genuineness and authenticity of the Old Testament; both Testaments must be considered together as the Word of God."

That is exactly correct. We are in the Company of Christ when we stand solidly on His divine word. You want to see the gr. dunamis (dynamic, power) of God's word in action? Then start living it. Start preaching it. Forget yourself and give back to God. Let go of all your preconceived arguments and anything that stands in the way of allowing God's word to be delivered untainted, just as it is written. Forget those who argue, give your defense and move on. Time is short; it is of the essence that we get out into the streets, kitchens, bookshelves, and airwaves with the Truth.

The Church today is so powerless in so many ways that it makes me weep. We have allowed the Government to come in and take over what is supposed to be our ministries. What is sadder is that we feel good about it! Since when is it the governments job to minister to the needs of the masses? I’m not talking about programs we contribute to in order to benefit from either. I am talking about the huge percentage of the public who lives to get a government handout. We have left God so far outside of our church walls and pulpits that His power is not recognized within His people. Is it no wonder our churches are stymied from growth? We see and hear the cries of the hungry and the hurting but we have no power to help them in a permanent way so we send them to a shelter, food bank, or some government agency. Sounds more like Scrooge than Christ to me:

"’At this festive season of the year, Mr Scrooge,' said the gentleman, taking up a pen, 'it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.'
'Are there no prisons?' asked Scrooge.
'Plenty of prisons,' said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.
'And the Union workhouses.' demanded Scrooge. 'Are they still in operation?'
'They are. Still,' returned the gentleman,' I wish I could say they were not.'
'The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?' said Scrooge.
'Both very busy, sir.'
'Oh. I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,' said Scrooge. 'I'm very glad to hear it.'” Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol

Then we proudly straighten our shoulders and say "There, we helped! Glad to get that burden off my shoulders." When really all we have become is a middle man for another ministry. They could have looked in the phone book. We ourselves really did nothing. Why does this occur? I know many churches with Godly believers who really want to help but do not have the ability by themselves or even in their church collective because of a lack of funds or fear of draining any funds. In most cases the church is too small!! I know. I have been there. But God will meet your needs. He promises that. Jesus taught that the “Gates of Hell would not prevail” against the church, Mt. 16:18. What am I saying then? Preach the Word! Pray! If your congregation has a pastor that is unbelieving or does not teach the whole truth then prayerfully ask Him privately to submit to God's word. God grows churches when we submit to His word, preach and teach it in its entirety because we are not ashamed, and lift Jesus up. John 12;32 states:

"And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself."

Do we believe that? Jesus wasn't just talking about the cross. We still must lift Him up. If you have a heart for the world, if you feel that we are straying further and further from God's mission, if you see the way our nation is going and it breaks your heart, then join me in prayer. Pray that the darkness Satan is casting on the nation and it’s churches is lifted and the light of God's truth shines forth. Pray about your part in God's work.

Let's take our churches back for God.
Next posting I want to speak on some things a church can and should do to work with God in growing a church. We will also discuss attitude towards this.
In Christ.

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