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“…contend earnestly for the Faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”Jude 3
The extraordinarily devastating Black Lives Matter (BLM) and ANTIFA riots, violence, looting and arson sprees in so many cities, not only across the USA, but in other parts of the world as well, should be a major wake up call to the many Christians who do not want to engage the culture and routinely censor the Scriptures to only preach and teach nice, non-confrontational, willow-creek, purpose-driven, saddleback, prayer of Jabez, lukewarm, lame, weak-kneed, comforting messages. Ken Ham has documented in his book, Already Gone, that the vast majority of young people of the majority of Western churches abandon the church within a few years of completing high school.
What is Wrong With Our World?
Almost on a daily basis each of us is confronted by the reality of a world that is in rebellion to its Creator. The desecration of the Lord's Day, the proliferation of pornography, the escalation of crime and violence, the breakdown of moral standards, the legalisation of abortion, the break up of families and the explosion of child abuse all remind us that we live in a sinful society which has forgotten God.
What is wrong with our world? Sin. Mankind is in rebellion against God.
What is Wrong With the Church?
Almost as often we wonder what is wrong with the church. Why has the church become so ineffective? How can it be that so many Christians in so many churches have such a diminishing effect on the moral climate of society? Can we honestly say that we have been praying and working against evil when we see evil increasing? (Matt 18:18-20; Psalm 94:16). Has the salt of the earth lost its saltiness? Is the light of the world being hidden under a bowl? (Matt 5:13-16).
During the last 22 years of travelling extensively and ministering in 23 countries, I have had the privilege of witnessing several churches operating as God intended them to - in revival. Since experiencing the powerful presence and blessing of God in the revivals of Romania and KwaSizabantu it has been very hard for me, and other missionaries of Frontline Fellowship, to fit back into the shallow and half-hearted state of most churches in South Africa.
All around we see evidence of a rising tide of godlessness. Crime and grime, litter and pollution, pornography and prostitution, gambling and drunkenness, drug abuse and urban decay, legalised abortion and child abuse, corruption in government and racial quotas in the workplace, sex education and social engineering in schools, hostility to Christianity and intolerance of Biblical standards.
“I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before Me in the gap, on behalf of the land, so I would not have to destroy it …” Ezekiel 22:30
Are we just to accept this downward trend as inevitable? Are we not to grieve over this national catastrophe of broken homes, broken lives and broken hearts? Should we not rise up and challenge this destruction of all moral and ethical foundations?
“See the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall … and we will no longer be in disgrace.” Nehemiah 2:17
“We shall never see much change for the better in our churches in general until the prayer meeting occupies a higher place in the esteem of Christians.” wrote Charles Spurgeon in “Only A Prayer Meeting.”
The regular meeting of members of a congregation for the express purpose of uniting in earnest prayer is becoming rare in the average church. Many churches no longer even schedule prayer meetings, and in those churches that do, typically less than 10% of the members would participate.
In all too many churches, prayer meetings have become dull, cold and lifeless, lacking in Biblical focus and missionary purpose.
Friday 31 October is the birthday of the Evangelical churches. On 31 October 1517 Dr Martin Luther launched the Protestant Reformation with his bold stand at the Castle Church in Wittenberg.
Western civilisation has been blessed with the greatest freedoms, productivity and prosperity ever known in history. The liberty, standards of justice and creativity enjoyed in Western civilisation is a direct result of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th Century.
Our Lord Jesus Christ taught: "But seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." Matthew 6:33
It was Martin Luther's earnest quest for peace with God, and his intensive study of the Scriptures, which led him to challenge the unethical fund-raising tactics of the papacy and launch the Protestant Reformation. Luther's love for the Word of God and his dedication to truth led him to challenge the entire ecclesiastical and political authority of the Roman Catholic church and the Holy Roman Empire.
"Unless I am convinced by Scripture, or by clear reasoning, that I am in error for popes and councils have often erred and contradicted themselves I cannot recant, for I am subject to the Scriptures I have quoted; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. It is unsafe and dangerous to do anything against one's conscience. Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise. So help me God. Amen."
"We are in danger of forgetting truths for which previous generations gave their lives." Bishop Stephen Bradley
Are our churches changing the world, or is the world changing our churches?
If Martin Luther, John Calvin, R. C. Ryle, D. L. Moody or Charles Spurgeon were to walk into our Sunday morning service, what would they think? Would they be shocked at the type of clothes worn? Would they be able to recognise any of the great hymns of the Faith, or have drums and choruses taken over in your congregation?
What would they think of the preaching? Is the Word of God faithfully expounded? Or has anti-nomianism and existentialism taken over? Would they hear the Faith once delivered unto the saints or a cheap grace and easy believism? Would they find worship or worldliness? Spirituality or sensationalism? Education or entertainment? Would they find a congregation or an audience?
Were some of these 19th Century believers to visit our church would they find us praying or playing?
Some have suggested that celebrating the great spiritual Revival and birth of freedom achieved by the Reformation is unnecessarily divisive, and antagonistic to our Catholic neighbours and brethren. This is an unfortunate and unjustified assumption.
The purpose of celebrating the Reformation is not to re-open old wounds or to blame present day Roman Catholics for what popes and their followers may have done four to five centuries ago.
The purpose of celebrating the Reformation is to focus on the tremendous courage and convictions of those Reformers who restored to us the Bible, freely available in our own languages. The battle cries of the Reformation: Scripture alone is our authority, Christ alone is the Head of the Church, salvation is by the grace of God alone, received by faith alone, is positive and beneficial to all.
The publishing of our new book Biblical Principles for Africa has sparked a lot of interest and controversy. We have been greatly encouraged by the many enthusiastic endorsements and positive responses to Biblical Principles for Africa. Just in these first 2 weeks, hundreds of copies of the book have been purchased and we've had many phone calls and E-mails with positive feed-back from those who appreciate and support its message.
There have also been a number of media opportunities as a result, including on Christian and secular radio stations. What has also been remarkable, has been the absolute hostility many have towards the Bible and Christianity. At our first Book Launch, at Parliament, one journalist responded to my Power Point presentation God's Law or Chaos, by saying: "If the choice is between God's Law or Chaos, I'd rather have chaos!"
I suppose Christian charity, work ethic, honesty and prosperity doesn't make as much news as crime, corruption, debauchery and lawlessness.
On a secular national radio programme (702 Talk Radio/Cape Talk), I was astounded at the intense opposition to the book from listeners calling in. Naturally, none of them could have actually read the book yet, however, the vitriolic outbursts revealed a prejudice against Christianity and a hostility for the Bible which seems to be increasing in many circles.
If God can change you, then God can use you to change some part of this world.
That our fallen world needs changing is beyond question. When our newspapers and films glamourise immorality, undermine traditional family values and encourage selfishness, greed and lust; when criminals escape justice by legal technicalities; when half of the world suffers under totalitarian dictatorships and persecution; when pornography, perversion, abortions, terrorism and the occult are increasing - then we know that this world needs to be changed.
But most Christians have abandoned their moral responsibility to bring the light of the Gospel into heathen darkness. Many Christians are allowing their own children to be brought up by godless humanism in state schools and entertained by occultism and pagan magic through Hollywood films and television.
"Pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests . . . Be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."
"God gives us the Spirit as our teacher in prayer, to tell us what is right and to temper our emotions. We should seek such aid of the Spirit."
"Prayer is an art which only the Holy Spirit can teach us. He is the giver of all prayer."
"There is no man, nor church in the world, that can come to God in prayer, but by the assistance of the Holy Spirit."