The State of the Church 2015, part 2
Four years ago I assessed the State of the American Church in a multi-part series, writing from my own perspective in my own opinion based on Bible prophesies and warnings. (The links are on the right sidebar, scroll down.) How is the American church doing now, four years later?
Four years is not a long time in an adult's life. But in the church's life, these past four years have been like dog years. According to this canine aging scale, a large dog's age compared to a 4 year old human would be 34 years now since I wrote the last State of the Church essay.
It has been a whirlwind of satanic activity and visible decline since the last time I've had an opportunity to prayerfully discern the State of the Church.
At the end of part 2 I'd said that persecution seems like it is about to begin in America. We have already endured soft persecution such as adverse legal judgments, employment firings, vandalism, and public marginalization. Is hard persecution about to begin? Will we be able to retain our Constitutional right to Religious Liberty?
A CHILL WIND DOTH BLOW
|Developments in the US conspire to put a chilling effect on freedom of worship|
In the previous essay I'd outlined the abominations God had told Israel not to perform, else He would punish them by vomiting them out of the Land. I had shown how rampant these same abominations are in America, a nation that has been uniquely blessed in history. Jesus judges nations. Thus, America should expect to answer for squandering her blessings from the Lord and to be punished for performing sins that the Lord hates.
But what about the Church? The world always does these things, and though America's crimes are very great as a nation, how is the church doing? What is the state of the Church in America?
There is a difference between the church as the Bride of Jesus and the church that calls itself the church. I hate the false church. I love the true Church.
The Master's Seminary: Why I Love the Church. The true church will become brighter than ever. Persecution always does this. Far from chilling evangelistic activity, putting on ice any religious freedom always warms it.
However to pagans, we are all the same. Catholics, Mormons, Christian cults, and Protestants are all "the church" to them and that is the "Jesus" that they see. So the false church that calls itself the church is sinning against Jesus by doing abominations in His name.
In Leviticus 18:21-23 the LORD said He would make the land vomit out its inhabitants if they failed to follow His statutes and did abominations. The abominations for which Jesus said He would vomit them out of the land included the famous list of sexual sins, lying with a neighbor's wife (adultery) lying with a man as a woman (homosexuality) and lying with animals (bestiality). It also includes warnings against sacrificing children to Molech (abortion).
In Revelation 3:16 Jesus again reiterated that He expects that church to do good works, else He would vomit them out of His mouth. In Revelation 3:17 He says,
For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
Whoever is naked is not covered in the righteous robe of Christ. Blind means mentally blind. He is speaking to a church that has become not-His-church.
|Source for original photo|
This church is naked, apostate, self-deluded and unaware that Christ stands apart from them and is not in their midst. Yet they were still apathetic, not having zeal to remain in Christ's statutes.
Therefore since they were apostate and unsanctified, they had allowed the world to enter in. The same sins that Jesus warns against have flooded the church, or the organization that calls itself the church. Divorce is high among Christians in the church. It is a myth that 50% of Christian marriages fail, but the Christian divorce rate is still uncomfortably high. Porn is a problem among Christian men as it is for worldly men. Abortion rates for those claiming a religious affiliation are also high.
When the world sees a church that does the abominations Jesus warned against, then the world doesn't see Jesus nor do they see a peculiar people set apart for His name. The world sees an ineffective abominable religion filled with worldly people that makes no difference in lives and blasphemes the name of Jesus through their abominable acts. No wonder Jesus said He would vomit the Laodicean church out His mouth.
So whether we are discussing the uniquely blessed nation of America or the visible entity that calls itself the church in America, we are deserving of all the bile that Jesus can heap upon us.
WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN FOR THE FAITHFUL?
Look at 1 Peter 4:7, which says
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers.
The end of all things started at the cross. Peter begins that passage by reminding the saints that the end of all things is at hand. We should be reminded of that also. At the cross, Jesus enacted his final prophetic plans. Never mind the time span, as far as tasks go, there are just two left for God to accomplish- build the church to its completion and defeat satan at Armageddon. The end is at hand.
Now look at 1 Peter 4:17,
For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?
Then Peter continues after verse 17 with that momentous passage about Christian suffering. He begins to wind it down with this truth- it is time for judgment to begin at the house of God...
Pulpit Commentary explains Peter's statement about judgment
The beginning of judgment is the persecution of the Christians, as our Lord had taught (Matthew 24:8, 9, and following verses); but that judgment is not unto condemnation: "When we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world" (1 Corinthians 11:32); it is the fiery trial,Persecution makes the false Christians leave church and it quickens and toughens the true believers. In this way Jesus uses the evil for our good and His glory.
When Peter says "it is time for" the word time there is not chronos, clock time, but kairos, the season, the tipping point, the crucial moment. And for the last 2000 years, nation by nation, continent by continent since those words were written around 67AD, He has been purifying His church. He does this through through trials and suffering at His providential crucial moments. The church at Rome, Jerusalem, the 7 churches in Asia Minor, Europe, China, Soviet Union/Russia, Egypt...His purifying judgment in the House of God has been ongoing, and now in my opinion from what we see, it seems to be America's turn.
TIPPING POINT IN AMERICAN CHURCHES IS HERE
Retaining our religious liberty in the future days will become increasingly impossible. This will purify the church because the apostates will either toe the carnal line or depart the faith altogether. Judas was revealed as faithless. Demas loved the world and after a time, departed the faith (2 Tim 4:10). Many who loved the show of the miracles departed when Jesus taught the hard things. (John 6:66). It is to God's glory when the tares depart under their own volition, because to allows the light of His true disciples to shine more brightly.
This is the best illustration of a tipping point I've seen. Though it isn't related to religion, it deftly shows in one drawing what happens when persecution comes (in my opinion).
The Christians are not operating in their own strength. When they get their rock up to near the top, they have the necessary strength to roll the rock to the crest and beyond because we are operating in Jesus' strength. As the rock rolls downhill, the snowball effect means it gathers steam, becomes stronger and faster, and becomes larger as it picks up other Christians along the way. The tipping point separates the weak and false from the strong and true.
Here are a few reasons why I believe the tipping point for persecution in America has arrived.
--Oregon bakers ordered to pay homosexual couple $135,000 AND was issued a gag order to stop talking about their faith, (restrict freedom of speech and impose a financial burden)
--Church vandalism in Texas. Not a mosque and not a synagogue, which are often in the news for having been vandalized, but a vandalism at a Baptist Church in Texas sparked by their church sign. What had the Church put on their sign? Simply "Just because something is legal doesn't mean it's right." The sign's message provoked a particularly blasphemous and shocking scrawled message. In addition, two churches in Texas were burned by arson this week. (spiritual hatred expressed in real, physical terms)
--A newspaper announced subsequent to the SCOTUS decision that they won't publish any letters to the editor in opposition to same-sex marriage. (restrict freedom of speech, remove Christians from the public forum)
The National Review reported, "For Churches That Won’t Perform Same-Sex Weddings, Insurance Begins to Look Iffy" The president of the nation's largest church liability insurance group announced that essentially it does not cover a church that is being sued for refusing to perform a same-sex wedding. The article stated,
“July 1, David Karns, vice president of underwriting at Southern Mutual Church Insurance Company (which “serve[s] more than 8,400 churches”), wrote an “all states” agents’ bulletin addressing same-sex marriage. '... There is no coverage for any judgments against an insured." In other words: Churches, you’re on your own.”(impose threat of or real financial burden heavy enough to close churches or make weak ones be quiet because they have a mortgage to pay)
Therefore, churches carrying a debt load are soon going to discover the price that a bigger building carries, especially if or when their tax-exempt status is stripped from them. Worse, challenges against churches and Christian Colleges to their tax-exempt status are already beginning. Money will be an issue. It is just the same to satan if he closes a church due to fiscal issues than in striking the sheep with false doctrine, like in Galatians. A closed church is a closed church.
Speaking of Christian colleges,
--Christian Colleges are discovering that since homosexual marriage is constitutional in all states, that challenges to their prohibitions for same-sex co-habitation are groundless. A Christian college that accepts government funding but refuses to allow a same-sex married couple to live in housing for married students would be “on the edge of the indefensible", said one challenger. He is right, it IS legally indefensible. Hope College and Belmont University already decided to offer same-sex couples health benefits. (pollute the place where seeds are sown and Christians are grown.)
Most ominously, since the June 26 decision, an aggressive hate campaign against religious freedom has been launched. It was encouraged by the Oregon decision of the gag order against the couple that bakes cakes.
Gay-rights groups, allies to push back on ‘religious liberty’ arguments
“Some people want to convert the crucial principle of religious freedom into a license to discriminate against others and deny Americans essential services,” the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said at a press conference Tuesday. “That’s a corruption of a noble concept, and we don’t intend to stand for it,” he said, announcing the group’s “Protect Thy Neighbor” project. The project will fight legislative efforts to let businesses and even government offices use religious beliefs as “a justification to discriminate” on matters relating not only to homosexuality but also reproductive rights, such as paying for all kinds of birth control.”They are challenging the very concept of religious liberty. The 'Protect Thy Neighbor' project will become a groundswell in a short time. What they don't know is, denying our freedom to worship and evangelize only spurs the true believers to greater, more focused and more intense action. It has been this way each time persecution began in a nation.
AMERICAN FREEDOM OF RELIGION WILL SHORTLY BE IN THE PAST
[Supreme Court Justice] Thomas additionally warns that the Court's "inversion of the original meaning of liberty will likely cause collateral damage to other aspects of our constitutional order that protect liberty." Further, he argues that the decision will threaten religious liberty by creating an unavoidable collision between the interests of same-sex couples and some religious organizations. (Dissenters opinions explained here)That tipping point. It's that collision, and the world always seemingly 'wins' (until Armageddon). As of this moment, religious liberty in America is at serious risk. Why do I say this? One reason the SCOTUS decision shook us is that it was 100% unattached from any part of any law or precedent. It was just simply a personal decision made from personal biases and personal will of the majority of the judges. (so said one of the Justice dissenters, and he should know).
If judges can birth a non-existent "right" (gay marriage) that means they can abort an existing right (religious liberty).
They will obliterate it by first watering it down and chipping away at it (i.e. the newspaper refusal to publish letters to the editor, the Oregon judge's gag order...) then they will obliterate it by redefining it totally out of existence. You will be shocked to see how fast this will happen. You will be inspired to see what the true believers do in response.
In the Conclusion, the remedy and call to arms.
The State of the Church 2015, part 1
The State of the Church 2015, part 2