State of the Church 2015, part 2
State of the Church 2015, part 3
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.
What have we in America been doing these last decades? While some local churches remain true to the preaching and living out of the Word, in others, the organizations that call themselves church in America have even forgotten the Christian life is a battle! In other cases where there is a semi-real church, we've sent our saints to the equivalent of a tennis camp and think they are equipped for Godzilla!
Jesus had something to say about that:
|The Great Wave off Kanagawa, Japanese woodblock, 1890|
So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth. (Rev 3:16, HCSB)
Well, we in America have to close up churches that are in reality just a tennis camp and we have to get real about the battle. We in America have to get into shape. Do we in America think that judgment does NOT begin in the House of God? Do we in the Bible Belt think that our suffering will be the lesser? Do we at whatever our location is believe that we can continue to coast along, carry debt, admire Rick Warren's growth tactics, organize a 'choose Jesus' revival, and think we are doing something for God?
The battle in the church in America has passed a tipping point. Our battles are no longer Bunker Hill or Bull Run. They are Antietam. They are Iwo Jima. They are Pearl Harbor- with satan on the 'winning' spiritual side of each of those. For example, I have heard it explained that the June 26, 2015 Supreme Court decision legalizing homosexual marriage and considering it as a "right" was the equivalent to Roe V. Wade decision in 1973 legalizing abortion.
With that decision, Satan made a decisive military advance in polluting the culture. Yet always remember that God causes or allows everything to happen. Ultimately Jesus has won, but the battle rages in heaven and on earth between satan and God until The Day.
The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. (1 Peter 4:7), and
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? (1 Peter 4:17).
In the last essay I'd explored judgment beginning in the house of God. Now I'd like to look at "time".
In verse 17 the word for time in Greek is kairos.
The word kairos was an ancient Greek word meaning “opportunity,” “season,” or “fitting time.” Another Greek word for “time” was chronos. A sequence of moments was expressed as chronos, emphasizing the duration of the time; an appointed time was expressed as kairos, with no regard for the length of the time. Thus, chronos was more linear and quantitative, and kairos was more nonlinear and qualitative. ... Kairos is related to the Greek word kara (“head”). A kairos is a time when things “come to a head,” requiring decisive action. (GotQuestions)
IT'S TIME TO MAKE OUR STAND
What is the remedy for a weak and apathetic Laodicean church? For a weak and apathetic Christian? How do we make a stand? We need the dunamis power. This is a biblically important Greek word. It is used 120 times in the New Testament. Strong's describes it as,
for the believer, power to achieve by applying the Lord's inherent abilities. "Power through God's ability" is needed in every scene of life to really grow in sanctification and prepare for heaven (glorification). "Power through God's ability" is needed in every scene of life to really grow in sanctification and prepare for heaven (glorification).In the Holman treasury of Key Bible words dunamis is further explained:
|1890 ad for explosives company. Source: LOC|
The Greek word for power is dunamis; it speaks of “potential power” and “actual power.” Our English word “dynamite” is a derivative. Everyone knows that dynamite is powerful, but God is more powerful. He can create things, while dynamite can only devastate.We also get our word dynamic from dunamis. The word always implies energy and power.
Everything in creation has a certain amount of “power,” but God’s power is immutable. Animals have power. There is power in nature: the wind and storms, the thunder and lightning. People have the power to do good and evil. Rulers have God-given power and authority (Rom. 13:1). The Bible also speaks of the power of angels (2 Pet. 2:11) and of spiritual beings known as “principalities and powers.” Satan has also been given certain powers (Job 1:6–12; 2:1–6). But God is all-powerful (Eph. 1:19). In fact, “Power” is a name for God. Jesus said that the Son of man would be seen “seated at the right hand of Power” (Matt. 26:64, NASB).
God’s power was manifested in Jesus. This power was shown through Jesus’ miracles (Matt. 11:20; Acts 2:22); in His works of healing and exorcism (Luke 4:36; 5:17; 6:19; Acts 10:38). God’s power is shown supremely in His resurrection. Jesus speaks of His power to give up His life and the power to take it again (John 10:18), but the New Testament speaks most frequently of the power of God the Father shown in the raising of His Son from the dead (Rom. 1:4; Eph. 1:19–20). During the Second Coming, Jesus will be seen coming on the clouds of heaven with “power” and great glory (Matt. 24:30).
Meanwhile, Jesus is able to deliver people from the power of sin and death, from Satan, and from all the spiritual forces of evil (2 Cor. 10:4; Eph. 6:10–18). Since the ruler of this world, Satan, had no power over Christ (John 14:30), he cannot have power over those who rely on Him. Those who believe in God receive power from the Holy Spirit (Acts 6:8), inner dynamo to live in His service (Eph. 3:16), power to be His witnesses (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8), and power to endure suffering (2 Tim. 1:8).
Some examples of the way this word was used in the bible are:
- The Power that came and overshadowed Mary (Luke 1:35)
- The Power and authority with which Jesus dealt with the demons (Luke 4:36)
- The Power given from on high to those told to witness in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the world. (Acts 1:8)
- The Power in nature (Romans 1:20)
- The All-surpassing Power that is in us (2 Cor 4:7, 2 Cor 12:9, Ephesians 3:20-21, 2 Timothy 1:7 &etc.)
You say, “Well, if we all have the Holy Spirit, shouldn’t we have power in our lives? Shouldn’t we really move out in our lives?” That’s right, because Acts 1:8 says, “You shall receive power after the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” The word “power” is dunamis or dynamite. You should be literal dynamite. Most of us look at our lives and say, “I think I’m a dud. I keep lighting the fuse and nothing happens.
"Why, if I have the Holy Spirit, don’t I go anywhere?"How does one get the Spirit to be the dominant factor in our lives? MacArthur explains some more. I won't post all of it, you should read the transcript or listen to the sermon. But is it not a question of receiving some kind of Charismatic double dose of the Spirit to fill us. He continues by explaining from Peter's life as revealed in the scriptures what it means to gain access to that Power. And then,
"Why, if I have all things that pertain to life and Godliness" 2 Peter 1:3
"Why, if I’m complete in Him" Colossians 2:10
"Why, if I have this power does nothing happen?"
And the question is simply answered because you’re not filled. It’s one thing to have the Spirit resident. It’s something else to have the Spirit dominant.
Being filled with the Spirit had the same result as standing in the presence of Jesus Christ. Do you know what it means to be filled with the Spirit? It means to live as if you’re in the presence of Jesus Christ. It is nothing different than a consuming and constant Christ consciousness. The mind that is centered on Him, the mind that gazes continually at His glory, 2 Corinthians 3:18, will be changed into His image. That is why in Col. 3:16 it says, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.” You see? As the Word about Christ dwells in you richly, His presence becomes manifest in your conscious mind, and as His presence dominates your mind, the Spirit of God controls you.Once again the remedy turns out to be inputting the Word of God. This is where it always begins and ends. The stand we take in a darkening culture is having the sword of the Lord in our minds and hearts. The sword is the word of God. Dunamis/dynamite! Obedience, inputting the Word and prayer.As Dr MacArthur said,
The mind that is centered on Him, the mind that gazes continually at His glory, 2 Corinthians 3:18, will be changed into His image. That is why in Colossians 3:16 it says, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.” You see? As the Word about Christ dwells in you richly, His presence becomes manifest in your conscious mind, and as His presence dominates your mind, the Spirit of God controls you. ... It is simply Christ consciousness and, people, it comes from inputting the Word of God. It’s not a mystery. It’s not an emotion. It’s not an ecstatic experience. It is the feeding of the Word.
the filling of the Spirit of God is connected with the Word of God.We need it explosively, boldly, truthfully. Preachers and Teachers ignite this power by explaining what the Word means as the Spirit applies. We ignite it when we study.
Yet most Christians either lay people or teachers or preachers do not operate out of the power that they have accessible to them- the application of the Word via Holy Spirit which is dunamis. It's why the American church is so weak. Or they operate out of a false understanding of the power available to them- like the Charismatics.
This clarion note is putting out a general call to every true American congregation to a higher understanding of the Word with more authority, seriousness, and boldness than the American church has seen in these last decades. But that general call does include us, every teacher at every local church and every preacher in our county, and every church in the state, and all the true denominations in the south…and…
Who do people say that I am? (Mark 8:27b)
We need the power of the Word for training up. We need to be strong just at a time when the American church is so weak. We need the dunamis power of the Holy Spirit working through the word to transform our minds. We need to see Jesus more clearly than ever for who He is. We need teachers and pastors who will explain the Word authoritatively and proclaim it unashamedly. We need Christians who will diligently and openly study the word in full submission to the Spirit. Anything less at this stage of history is sending Christians into battle with a tennis racket.
Answers in Genesis: Finding Our Way in Secular America
Secularization is proceeding quickly, and it’s not accidental. Strong forces are pushing it on us. As Union University professor Hunter Baker defines it, “Secularism means that religious considerations are excluded from civil affairs.”1 And as British writer Harry Blamires explains, that exclusion constitutes an “assault,” one which “takes the form of an attempt to relativize whatever is fixed, whatever is firm, whatever represents the absolute and the transcendent in the presuppositions on which Christian civilization has been built.”2
Masters Seminary Why I love the Church
In a short series of upcoming posts, I’m going to outline some biblical reasons I love the church. Let’s start with the first one today:
1. The Church Is Being Built by the Lord Himself