C?RN.info writers claim that everything is okay, except for the Synagogue of Satan represented by Slice of Laodicea, Christian Research Network, A Little Leaven and finally, Apprising Ministries Even more recently, a not so veiled attack was made towards these ministries by Neil of C?RN.info stating that many of these ODM's (as they are so called) claim that the sky is falling in regards to the American Church.
My friends, the sky is not falling, it has fallen. We are just too blind to see it, unfortunately. American Christianity is broken. How so? We are more like Wrestlemania than the 1st Century church. We serve the lust of the flesh rather than the God of the Bible. American Christianity is a fake, a farce, a far cry from the Church which was established 2000 years ago. And despite what commenters at C?RN.info have stated of late, it is not more of the same, or a repeat of history. Lets look at the original Church, and its growth 'strategies'
42 And a they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.
This is how the church grew: Real Christians met together, prayed together, broke bread together, shared their material goods together, and fellowshipped under the teaching of the Apostles. Thats it! No motorcycles, Pastors talking about sex, watering down of the truth of sin and the ugliness of the cross, no people promoting themselves and their healing ministries. There was no loans for multi-million dollar structures that could be everything that the community wanted: like the best gym, dance hall,coffee shop, etc. No teachings that were very poetic and moralistic but devoid of Biblical truth. Nope; it was home to home, person to person, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and one anothers' lives. There was no need for extravagant sets, no need for pornographic mailers sent to people's homes, no need for YouTube, no need for books outside of the Old Testament and the letters of the apostles. Nope- God added to their number daily those who were being saved with no human intervention.
Today in America, we are like the church described at Sardis in the book of Revelation 3:
3 “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars.
“ ‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you. 4 Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’
Jesus knows our works, and He can see very clearly that the christianity in America (when I say this, I am not referring to the Church, which is Jesus' blood-purchased, forgiven, born-again followers) seems to be alive, but it is in fact dead. Why is it dead? we have fallen asleep. A recent survey of local pastors and churches in America found that 94% of churches failed to specifically present the Gospel in the calendar year 2008. This means simply that either an incomplete gospel message was preached, focusing only on the love of God without describing the need of man to be saved- our wretched, sinful, and lost position before Him (Romans 3:9-19), or no mention of salvation in Christ alone whatsoever. A recent search on the topics bar at SermonCentral.com for the topic 'the gospel' produced 0 results. The power of God unto salvation is the Gospel (Romans 1:16-17) Is it any wonder that people are leaving the church in droves? Where there is no life, there is no attraction. A dead person is still dead, no matter how good the undertaker makes him look.
The American ‘church’ has a reputation of being alive, but it is in fact dead. I suppose that I should be grateful, because this is an indication of Jesus returning. He warned us that there would be a great apostasy before his return. With Phyllis Tickle and Tony Jones calling for a departure from sola scriptura, Brian McLaren calling the death of Christ for our sins 'false advertising for God', Rob Bell proclaiming universalism in his most recent book by saying that God has painted blood over the doorposts of the universe, Rick Warren saying that we ought to test God by giving him a 60 day 'test drive'- before praying for a president who has now proven himself (again) to be an enemy of the unborn by signing abortion and stem cell research legislation- the stories keep coming and they are getting worse. And the reality is that ‘christians’ who go to church every Sunday are asleep, because those of us who are supposed to be shepherding them have fallen asleep at the pulpit. We have ceased to be under shepherds, and have become sheep ourselves, looking for the grass that is greener in our eyes while wandering far afield of where we are supposed to be.
The call from Jesus? WAKE UP and strengthen what remains. In Hebrews 5:11-14, we see a warning
11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
The American ‘church’ has become very dull of hearing, perhaps because of all the white noise that is out there influencing us. With all of the Christian radio, television, freedom of religion, multiplicity of Bibles, Bible studies, Christian colleges, etc. we are flooded with information, but in many cases, we are devoid of the Spirit. We should be teachers, if by the Spirit of God in us we would simply open the Bible and do what it says. As it is, many of us need someone to teach us again the very oracles (words) of God. Those who have not gone on from ‘elementary’ teachings, they are in fact unskilled, or imperfect in the Word. We see here the role of those who are mature, who have gone on from these elementary teachings to study and actual practice of the Word of God. How do we get this discernment? It is not from a constant study of the most hip theologians. It is from study of the Word of God under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And it is more than study, it is the practice of what we read in our everyday lives, so that we can discern good from evil. We need to wake up. We need more mature Pastors to exposit the Word of God clearly for us in our churches. Most importantly, the Gospel needs to be preached in its entirety, that Jesus Christ was crushed for our iniquities- for we are a wretched people, devoid of any good whatsoever, and despite this Christ died for us (Romans 3:9-19, 5:1-8) The gospel is what we need to strengthen what remains, and to drag us back from the deep chasm of apostasy we are approaching.
The call from Jesus to the American Christian is to REPENT! That is, we need to change our very orientation- our mind, our will, our whole being away from ourselves and our flesh towards God. We need to agree with what God says- about everything (we can find it in His Word) and strive to live holy lives. This takes a work of God, and we can only have this and desire this if God has drawn us. The bottom line is that we must be born again! We must be born of God. I urge all of us to consider our lives in the bright light of God’s law. We need to examine ourselves, and we need to have a godly sorrow that leads to repentance. Do not come to judgment day with a false hope, saying to Jesus ‘Lord, Lord’, only to have His reply I never knew you. Take the medicine of the Church of Sardis- Repent. The other option? Jesus will come against us when we least expect it. And we do not want to meet Jesus in this way, as our judge instead of the One who justifies.
The sky is falling- but we can be protected in Christ alone. Come back to Him!