If you have not realized it yet, our mainline churches are in trouble. With pressure from the Government, confusion from the culture, and doublemindedness within the body of Christ, the American Church is quickly becoming irrelevant and imploding on itself. In fact, you know it is bad when Christian authors start publishing books about how shrinking churches are now a good thing and how the quality of believer is more important than the quantity of believers. In Truth, we are witnessing a dramatic shift in the spirituality of our country and when the dust settles in a decade or so, the landscape of Christianity will look very different.
What is the cause you may ask? Well, that is simple, God cannot dwell where sin resides. I grew up in the era of Church that bent over backwards to grow numerically by inviting sinful people to attend worship. I grew up in a church that no longer disciplined the flock; a church that tried harder to keep people in the building rather than worshiping God in Spirit and in Truth. In short, in the past generation, we have given the sanctuary over to the world; therefore, the world continues to modify and adapt the church to feel comfortable in their sin. And as these sinful people now sit on our church boards and vote in our general assemblies, there is no going back for these organizations that are now yoked with unbelievers.
It’s not like the Bible didn’t warn us that this would happen. In fact, the Book of Jude functions as the introduction to the end times, and it describes what is taking place in the church today. Jude writes, 4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ… 8 Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties. Jude 1:4,8
Jude goes on to warn us of the prophecy that is shared by Peter who says, 18… ‘“In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” 19 These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.’ Are we so arrogant to say that we have not reached this point? I would say if you talk to most people over 50 years old, they will tell you that the Church has lost its way. For what was once about surrendering everything to worship a holy God has become a place of entertainment and self-love.
What are we to do? Lord, save us!
Even though the church has drastically been infected with sin causing the presence of God to become void in many of our denominations and churches, there is still hope. The great news is that there is only one body of Christ. Christ is not an organization or a religion. Salvation is not dispensed through perfect doctrine or by certificate of baptism, and our relationship with God is not mediated though a perish, priest or pastor.
The fellowship of God is solely made up of every person who remains in Christ by accepting His gift of salvation and working it out in their lives by keeping the Word to the best of their ability. It is made up of those who carry their cross daily; those who crucify their wants and desires in order to take on His. The holiness and presence of God will never be found in those who are marked above, for you can’t serve both God and the father of this world. Therefore, here is the advice that Jude provides to those whose spiritual organizations have been taken over by sin and death.
He writes, 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.
In short, Jude reminds us that it doesn’t matter what is happening around us or in our churches, we are still called to Keep the Word, for the love of God is the fullness of His holiness. As we strive to remain in Him (by throwing off the sin that entangles and striving for righteousness), we will remain in the true fellowship of God that goes beyond every wall and throughout every denomination.
With that said, how can we have revival in the last days as we watch many of our mainline denominations implode? The answer can be found in our identity. If we were to take a poll, we would see that most Christians believe that their church is on the wrong path. Yet, if we were to ask if those people would leave their church, they would say no.
We are on the verge of a grass roots revival, but it is not going to take place within the mainline denominations. This is because the leaven has worked its way through the entire loaf of bread. The only thing that is stopping us from experiencing revival is or identity; the identity of our denominational heritage. You see, we all know that we will not be Catholic or Lutheran when we get to heaven, yet at the same time our denominations have instilled a fear over us for so long that we can’t truly leave our spiritual heritage. In truth, most are content worshipping without God’s presence if it means they can worship where great grampa did. Many Christians today are not getting spiritually fed from the worship service yet continue to invite their friends and family to attend what they know is a spiritually dead event.
Revival takes place as believers begin to hunger and thirst for the Word of God in such a ferocity that they finally make the decision not only to leave what is dead, but seek out (and submit to) what is alive. There are pastors and small ministries all over the place that are done babysitting the world and are done playing Christian. They seek out the holiness of God that can’t be found in churches that redefine the holiness of God by majority vote.
The presence of God is being found in homes, it is quietly being hidden in denominational Bible studies and in para ministries. Pastors like me are finding creative ways to reform what church looks like by gathering around small groups of fully devoted seekers of the Word. And there is an excitement brewing.
So, what will it be? You know if the place you attend church is feeding you, properly reflecting God’s holiness, and is filled with the presence of God. And there are still healthy and vibrant churches in almost every denomination. But let’s be honest… Does that describe your church, or have you left church altogether? Will you remain in a ministry that is unable to feed you and your family? Will you continue to take a break from church as your children and grandchildren slowly fall away from a solid foundation of faith?
When you step back and look at the big picture, the decision is really an easy one to make. As we enter the end times, strive to seek after the presence of God. You will find that presence wherever a group of Christians are striving to live surrendered lives to God by pushing away sin and embracing righteousness in their actions as they eagerly feast on the Word of God.
If the Lord is removing the lampstand from certain Christian organizations, what benefit is it for your family to remain in a religion that is void of His power and presence? Therefore, I pray that God will give you the strength to rip off the Band-Aid and leave what is dead to seek out we who strive to remain in Him. Let’s start a revival together. Let’s create a fellowship of believers that are excited to worship together because every week we get to know more about God and we can feel His presence in our fellowship. It is time for revival, all God needs is for us to surrender our church heritage and embrace His true fellowship once again.