More and more churches are being led into emotionalism and not Biblical Truth, and, as a result, these congregations have no spiritual power of discernment. They are willing to compromise Biblical truth for emotionalism and experience as they are taught to seek after a god who is not the God of the Bible. (Justin Pierce, The Importance Of Truth and Standing Against Apostasy)
It is obvious that Christianity has lost much of its influence on the western nations. Where it was once prominent in western culture, it has now been squeezed into a much less important role. How has this happened?
Far too many ministers and leaders in the church today see their position as a job and not a calling. They have forsaken the Word of God and personal holiness to focus on increasing membership numbers (sometimes called “giving units”). Some are like the priests described by Ezekiel, “They have made no distinction between the holy and the common, neither have they taught the difference between the unclean and the clean, and they have disregarded my Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them. Her princes in her midst are like wolves tearing the prey, shedding blood, destroying lives to get dishonest gain. And her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD,’ when the LORD has not spoken.” (Ezekiel 22:26-28 ESV) The essential good news of salvation has been lost in trying to make the church an ongoing motivational seminar to help its members meet the world’s standard of success.
Increasingly, parents and children are passing through Sunday Schools and worship services without being given a firm foundation in the Christian faith. Often, the doctrines of the church and personal beliefs are allowed to drift perilously apart. Can it be any wonder then that the definition of sin becomes vague and “salvation by death” the acceptable conclusion of life? The lie that everyone goes to heaven is sending too many to hell.
As church leadership continues to become weaker by submitting itself to secular public opinion, church members lose their purpose of being “salt and light”. Indeed, how can Christians be salt and light when the world has become the standard by which the modern church measures all things? The church has lost much of its influence for good, because its leaders have chosen to ride the whirlwind of public approval than honor God and glorify Him.
God and the Word of God do not change. We would do well to follow God’s instructions: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6:16 ESV) God is speaking here to His people about using good judgment and not blindly following false leaders in the church. The Bible is our compass to direct our way. The ways of the world will never improve upon the Christian message of salvation.
We must be careful when looking for evidence that someone else is a Christian. We make the mistake of thinking that every Christian should look exactly like us. There is a much higher standard! Are you consistently trying to walk in holiness? Does even a “little sin” in your life bring you to your knees to ask forgiveness? Charles Spurgeon, in the following article, takes an uncompromising stand on the great gap between holiness and hypocrisy:
Oh! The great thing the Church needs is more holiness. The worst enemies of the Church are the hypocrites, the formalists, the mere professors, the inconsistent walkers.
It is shocking to think how persons dare to remain members of Christian churches, and even to enter the pulpit, when they are conscious that their private life is foul. Oh, how can they do it? How is it that their hearts have grown so hard? What! Has the devil bewitched them? Has he turned them away from being men, and made them as devilish as himself, that they should dare to pray in public, and to sit at the sacramental table, and to administer ordinances, while their hands are foul, and their hearts unclean and their lives are full of sin?
I charge you, if there are any of you whose lives are not consistent, give up your profession, or else make your lives what they should be. May the eternal Spirit, who still winnows his Church, blow away the chaff, and leave only the good golden wheat upon the floor!
And if you know yourselves to be living in any sin, may God help you to mourn over it, to loathe it, to go to Christ about it tonight; to take hold of him, to wash his feet with your tears, to repent unfeignedly, and then to begin anew in his strength, a life which shall be such as becomes the gospel. (“The Gospel’s Power in a Christian’s Life” No. 640)
From the desk of John Newton:
“I measure ministers by square measure. I have no idea of the size of a table, if you only tell me how long it is: but if you also say how wide, I can tell its dimensions. So, when you tell me what a man is in the pulpit, you must also tell me what he is out of it, or I shall not know his size.”
Quoting J. Wilbur Chapman (1859-1917):
This opinion may or may not be correct; the one who gave it evidently thinks it is, and unquestionably he represents a certain element in the Church. Whether true or not, it is the sort of criticism facing the preacher today. It is claimed that we have failed to give sufficient emphasis to the importance of prayer, and we read that this was the secret of true greatness in the pulpit of other days. It is said we have lost our power because we have not given sufficient attention to Bible study; not Bible study in the preparation of sermons, but Bible study in the development of our own spiritual life. Unquestionably the secret of Spurgeon’s power was found just here. During the days of the week we must become saturated with the Scriptures so that on Sunday the message comes flowing forth like the current of a mighty river. Men tell us we have lost this, that we preach about God’s Word, but not the Word itself.
It has been said that we have given up personal work, and depend too much upon our pulpit efforts to turn men to God. “How do you like your minister?” said one of my friends to a plain woman in the mountains of Kentucky. She hesitated a moment and replied: “We don’t like him so very well. He preaches well enough, but he has the college habit, and studies so much that we do not see him except on Sundays,” “and,” she said, “you know a minister must speak to you out of the pulpit as well as in it if he is to influence you. . . .”
[W]e must have a message to preach, not for the sake of preaching, but for the sake of convincing men of their sins, as the Spirit of God may lead us. When asked one day his opinion regarding sermons of ministers, Hon. William J. Bryan said: “I desire my minister to preach every Sabbath the simple gospel. The old, old story never wearies the average congregation, if it comes from a devout mind with preparation in the message. My ideal sermon is one which has an appeal to the unconverted and a spiritual uplift for the Christian. I want my minister to be abreast of the times on all new theological questions and research, but I do not want him to bring them into the pulpit. I have formed certain fixed views of Christ, His gospel, and the inspiration of the Bible from a careful reading of that Book of books and of the Shorter Catechism, and it will not make me a better Christian or profit my spiritual life to unsettle these views by a discussion in the pulpit of new theories of Christ and the Holy Scriptures. Finally, I want my minister to act on the belief that Christ’s gospel is the surest cure of all social and political evils, and that his best method of promoting temperance, social morality, and good citizenship, is to bring men into the Church. In a word, I want my minister to emphasize in the lifework the declaration of the most successful preacher, Paul: “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”
From the pen of Thomas Watson:
If the Lord be on our side He can save us in that very way in which we think He will destroy us. Would not any have thought the whale’s belly should have been Jonah‘s grave? But God made the fish a ship, in which he sailed to the shore . . . If the Lord of Hosts be on our side, He can make the Church’s affliction a means of her augmentation, ‘The more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied.’ (Ex.1:12) (Watson, Religion Our True Interest, 91)
Quoting John MacArthur:
Nothing in Scripture indicates the church should lure people to Christ by presenting Christianity as an attractive option . . . The Church must realize that its mission has never been public relations or sales; we are called to live holy lives and declare God’s raw truth–lovingly but uncompromisingly–to an unbelieving world. (MacArthur, Ashamed of the Gospel, 72)
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