Today America is circling the drain of moral decay and economic decline. The church at large has nothing to say about tyranny, complicity with evil, preparedness, or resistance. The 501c3 and fear of audits has most churches self-censoring on a wide range of issues including abortion, homosexuality, spanking, and conscientous resistance to evil government orders. The church is carrying on with its meetings and activities trying to win a soul here and a soul there, meanwhile she is losing relevance and credibility with entire generations over her offensive silence on the ethical issues of our day.
There are timely moral issues that people are desparate to learn about but the church has decided they are not spiritual issues (even though Jesus’s teaching apply to these issues). Meanwhile, most college students wont take up a seat at church but when seats aren’t available, they will climbing trees (like zaccheus trying to hear Jesus) to get a chance to hear Ron Paul speak about topics the church wont dare to speak about.
When the church limits its role in the world to only evangelism, when it declares that the only things that matter are the eternal destination of souls and the continued preaching of the gospel, when the church has lost its saltiness, it should be no suprise that many are lining up to trample it underfoot.
If the youth group is worldly and is sleeping around, its ok, there is forgiveness at the cross.
If the parents curse and shout at home and put on church faces and church clothes on sunday, its ok, they’re not perfect, just forgiven.
If the eloquent pastor has areas of his life that are simply out of control, it serves as a reminder to us all that God can use broken people to preach the truth.
If the government begins to intrude into the affairs of the church, telling pastors what they can and can’t preach about sin, convictions, and parenting…its ok, as long as they don’t tell us not to preach the gospel…
Many believe that ‘the great commission’ formalized the commencement of the ”era of the church” whose job was to preach and convert souls until Christ returns. But where exactly do we find the biblical directive to focus on evangelism (winning souls) as the key task of the church?
Let’s pause and consider what the ‘Great Commission’ actually says
Matthew 28 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”The world evangelism isn’t in the great commission. I looked at the greek and its not there either. In fact, the key focus in the original language of the great commission is discipleship. The phrase “make disciples” is translated from the greek Matheteuo which means: “Not only to learn, but to become attached to one’s teacher and to become his follower in doctrine and conduct of life.” It is quite distinct from the greek noun- Manthano which means “to increase one’s knowledge, to be increased in knowledge”.
Discipleship is intentional relationship whose goal is to incrementally and in an ongoing process, transform lives into resembling Christlikeness. Evangelism emphasizes preaching a message which requires intellectual assent, repeating a prayer, and making a good confession that Christ died and has risen. Discipleship emphasizes conformity of thinking and lifestyle to the pattern of Christ. Evangelism emphasis has produced churches which mirror their culture in every way including statistical rates of substance abuse and divorce.
“The God of holiness and eternal majesty is hardly mentioned these days. The preachers used to declare with holy boldness to the pew dwellers, “You are lost.” Today it is, “You are loved.” It takes living men to deliver the living Word. Unless the preachers walk in the fear of the Lord and step out of eternity into the pulpits, the spiritual life of the nation will continue in its descent to weakness and finally apostasy.” Leonard RavenhillThere are other pragmatic differences as well. Evangelism focuses on the moment when someone chooses to believe, but there is much work to be done before and after that moment. If we are simply focused on the moment of decision, who will befriend those who are hostile to the gospel. Who will provide belonging before believing so that unbelievers can taste christian community and kindness? What about after the decision? If everyone is focused on preaching the gospel and evangelism, who will mentor them and share the deeper truths about God’s transformational power for sanctification? Who will go out on the streets with them and provide on the job training for being ambassadors for Christ?
What if we could rediscover the biblical focus of discipleship and holiness. If instead of (or in addition to) focusing on one time decisions, the church were focused on relational and transformational discipleship, perhaps:
The youth groups would be distinctly different than their secular peers and they would apply positive peer pressure (exhortation unto sanctification) with each other in a subculture of Christian community.
The parents would personally train up their kids in the way they should go instead of outsourcing their education and entertainment to a godless society.
The pastors would not be selected on the basis of their oratory skills, but on their proven effectiveness in making disciples and training leaders.
If the government began to intrude into the affairs of the church, telling pastors what they can and can’t preach about sin, convictions, and parenting; the bold unashamed pastors would continue to teach “whatsoever I have commanded you” and would defy the state’s commands which run contrary to God’s commands and Christ’s teaching.
Perhaps the reason that the church can’t seem hang onto its young people and can’t find its voice against a godless and tyrannical government is because it has lost sight of its calling to discipleship and life transformation.
It’s time to show the world the roaring lion as well as the meek lamb. its time to fulfill the great commission including “teaching them to obey whatsoever I have commanded you”. We must stop the self-censoring on ethical issues where the government is wrong. We must overcome the fear of man and be faithful to the word.
Let’s not forget that the same Jesus that called us to be the light of the world also called us to be the salt of the earth.
MT 5: 13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. 14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others,that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.