The following is a sermon excerpt transcribed from Dr Donald Grey Barnhouse. The sermon "What is God Doing Today?" can be found here. Dr Barnhouse launched his long-running radio program in 1927, and he pastored from 1927 until his death in 1960. Therefore this sermon had to have been preached sometime in that time frame, yet its age, at youngest perhaps 56 years old and at oldest, perhaps 90, is fresh and relevant today.
We so often hear the cry of the social religious liberals to that they plan to change the world with their acts, or bring about social justice through this or that organization or these millions in donations. This of course is not a new theme. Dr Barnhouse's sermon lets us know just how off-kilter the social justice cries really are. And how stale.
I recommend the sermon in its entirety at the link above.
What is God Doing Today?
The question I am going to ask and answer today is ‘will the church save the world?’ What is God’s purpose in our age? God has but one purpose for the church, and He is confining that purpose to this age. In the Bible, God reveals that purpose.
Now we know that all Bible revelation centers around the work of the Lord Jesus Christ in two phases. First, He came to suffer for the sins of men. And He will come the second time to rule with a rod of iron and to bring righteousness to the earth. The Old Testament reveals nothing about the period between His First and Second coming. That revelation was made after Pentecost.
What are God’s plan and purpose for this age? We need to find out so that we may not work contrary to them. A great New England preacher was once asked why he did not cooperate with Dwight L. Moody. The minister replied that he and Mr Moody did not agree on the purpose of life and work. This minister looked upon the church as a great ship, sailing through stormy seas, perhaps, but sailing on nevertheless in triumph, sure to come into port someday, with all the world on board. He expected that all the world would be Christianized and that everyone would be brought under the domination of the Gospel.
Mr Moody, on the other hand, looked upon the world as a sinking vessel, from which the church was to save as many souls as possible before the world foundered in great catastrophe. Obviously, it’s impossible to harmonize these two points of view. Therefore we need to examine God’s word so that our plans and purpose may be in harmony with His.
Never in the prophetic outline of the Church Age given in the word of God do we find the Church comprising more than a fraction of the population of the earth. Never is this Church spoken of as ‘all-inclusive’. Not one verse in the Bible teaches or even allows one to infer that the world is ever to be converted through the work of the church. Rather it is definitely taught that never will all people be in the true church. The low spiritual condition of many churches today is due in large measure to the fact that leaders have failed to recognize this truth and have been seeking to accomplish purposes that are out of harmony with the plan of God. Many leaders, lay and clerical alike, are trying to change the intellectual currents of the age. They are seeking to transform the social and economic order. Their aim is to build a new civilization for children to be born into. All this is foreign to the plan of God. Such ideas cannot be found in the New Testament.
Anyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ can only adopt the attitude of the Lord Jesus toward the age in which we live. Our Lord spoke in no uncertain terms about the intellectual currents of this world system…its civilization…its social and economic order… He said in John 15, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it has hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own."
There is no word here about trying to change the attitudes of the world toward believers in Lord Jesus Christ. … Christ NEVER hinted that there was any hope for this world as it is in its present condition. There is hope for believers, salvation for those who turn to Christ, but no hope for the unbelieving world. In John 17 Christ even refused to pray for the world. In His last, great prayer, recorded in John 17, He said “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world…9I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours."
It is not God’s purpose in this age to improve the social or moral order of the world. Anybody who seeks to make this world a better place to live in has failed to understand the purpose of God today. For God’s purpose is to form His church, the Body of called-out ones.