Death by Church

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, where with shall it be salted? It is henceforth good for nothing but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid.  Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that in the house. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.  Matthew 5: 13-16

Why is Tyranny running roughshod over Christianity in America? Could it be that the salt of the earth has lost its savor? Far from being secure, the Blessings of Liberty, which the Church has largely been taken for granted for the last fifty years, are rapidly being supplanted by the arbitrary dictates of tyrants.

Minister and Lawyer Charles G. Finney, as president of Oberlin College, wrote an article that ran in The Independent of New York on December 4, 1873, in which he attributed “frauds and villainies in high and low places, among all ranks of men” to anemic preaching which didn’t probe the consciences of men. He then offered the following admonition, which sadly rings true today: 

“If immorality prevails in the land, the fault is ours in a great degree. If there is a decay of conscience … if the public press lacks moral discrimination … if the church is degenerate and worldly … if the world loses its interest in religion … if Satan rules in our halls of legislation, if our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible for it….”

The church has become boring for most because the power of God has vanished from many congregations … there is a lack of desire to pursue Him in the pulpit as well as in the pew.   Like Samson, they “know not that the Spirit of the Lord has departed” (Judges 16:20). High attendance is not the gauge of success, faithfulness is. Granted, a healthy church should experience seasons of growth, but even cults generate large numbers of followers.

Nights of prayer and worship are often replaced with Bingo and fundraisers. We’re in a hurry to burn through a sermon, scurry through worship, and head to the nearest restaurant. This is a sure sign of a dying church. If churches are too busy to pray — they’re too busy.   We should never allow our relationship with God to suffer because we’re too busy.  Spiritual life and prayer go hand-in-hand. You can’t have one without the other.

Some time ago, a pastor of a large church in my area made an unforgettable statement, “We should avoid mentioning the fear of the Lord. It makes people feel uncomfortable.” Just writing that sentence makes me feel uncomfortable. The fear or reverence of the Lord is mentioned frequently throughout the Bible as the beginning of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. “The LORD takes pleasure in those who fear (reverence) Him …” (Psalm 147:11).

When pastors and leaders believe that God has given them the authority to change truth in order to keep it relevant and alive, they are departing from God. His grace is big and bold enough for all, but grace doesn’t replace truth — it reinforces it.

Pastors must find the balance — preach the difficult truths as well as the joyful ones; preach the cross and the new life; preach hell and heaven; preach damnation and salvation; preach sin and  grace; preach wrath and love; preach judgment and  mercy; preach obedience and forgiveness; preach that God “is love,” but don’t forget that God is just. Ironically, it’s the love of God that compels us to share all of His truth, including those things that are hard to hear.

Although disheartening, this trend away from God’s truth is not surprising.

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; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned into fables.  2 Timothy 4:3-4

If this isn’t exactly what we see today, I don’t know what is.

Source:  Five Sure Signs of a Dying Church by Shane Idleman, Stream; Salt of the Earth by Pastor William Cook, Virginia Christian Org.

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