There was a time when the church was very powerful. However, as many of you who read this blog know,I have long been of the belief that the church in America is dying.Rotting from decay and abuse unparallelled in the 2000 year history of the church.

Very uplifting topic…not. But one that must be stated.

Actually,the church has been in a state of decline for many centuries so it’s not like this should come as a startling revelation to anyone.It’s just that for so long we have been able to disguise the decline by supplanting the power of the church with one theme or program after another,all constructed to look like the Spirit at work among us.This spirit of denial however can no longer camouflage the fact that the church has lost its way.

Oh sure,there have been seasons of growth and prosperity(if that is how one chooses to measure spiritual increase). Yet surely by now we have come to understand that growth and prosperity are by no means indications of God’s blessing upon us.Think about it….how far do you have to go to find a beautiful church filled with hundreds of people who never reach beyond the walls of their church to minister to the hurting.Programs for every subject matter within the friendly confines of the campus…but those on the outside?…..not so much.

And lest you remain unconvinced that the church is dying I suggest you simply open your eyes to the rampant evil that has engulfed society.Without a strong,vocal church opposing sin on a grand scale,well….this is what we get.

The writings of Paul and other New Testament authors give us a picture of the power that the early church had.Thousands being converted in a single day,cities being “turned upside down”,the sick made whole and the dead raised to life again.

Yet a curious movement began to creep into the church during this time,a movement which prompted the Apostle Paul to declare:

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.    Gal 1:8 KJV

The simple truth of the Gospel message had already become polluted and preverted.Men who knew better had began teaching “another gospel”,a word not from the Lord.This preaching of “another gospel”was considered by no less an authority than the Apostle Paul to be so dangerous to the mission of the church that he declared that those who do such things should be accursed.

And you thought I was tough!

You see, Paul understood that the strength of the church rested upon the foundational truths of the Gospel.He knew very well that if those truths were to be undermined that the church would lose it’s power and influence.And even though a great many today will say otherwise,the truth is that this is exactly what has happened.

Again, this is not a new revelation,or at least it shouldn’t be.Preachers have been stating this for some time now.

Way back in 1963 there was a preacher who penned the following words from a jail cell in Birmingham Alabama.Words that ring more true today than when he first uttered them.As you read these words I ask you to compare them with the state of the church today and see if you don’t agree that they were indeed prophetic.

“There was a time when the church was very powerful–in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed.In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.
Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators.”‘ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were “a colony of heaven,” called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be “astronomically intimidated.” By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide and gladiatorial contests.
Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an arch-defender of the status quo. Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent–and often even vocal–sanction of things as they are.
But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church,it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.
Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.Perhaps I have once again been too optimistic. Is organized religion too inextricably bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Perhaps I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ekklesia and the hope of the world.”         Martin Luther King: Letter From Birmingham Jail             16 April 1963      
Be blessed,
Ron
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