The Church Has Dimmed the Lights
You might be shocked that I don’t hold anarchists, Antifa, Planned Parenthood, George Soros-bought DA’s, evil politicians or any other dimension of modern-day progressivism responsible for the current decline in America.
I agree with God that the Church is at fault for dimming the lights.
The Church Has Dimmed the Lights
Though many factors in our complex society have contributed to our breath-taking decay of national conscience, three primary influencers stand above the rest. Revivalist Charles Finney’s insightful words, revealing two of them, are worth studying:
“Now what is the cause of this degeneracy? Doubtless there are many causes that contribute more or less directly to it, but I am persuaded that the fault is more in the ministry and public press than in any and all things else.”
Ministers and the public press. We would say today pastors and the media. The failure of these two leadership spheres are at the heart of our nation’s decline.
Failure One – Pastors & Priests
In some ways, pastors and priests are to the Church what coaches are to athletic teams. Weak coaching, bad teams. If you have weak or sinful leadership, followers are left to flounder.
“Darkness” is simply the absence of “light.”
The most important leaders in the life of a nation are the pastors. If they faithfully live and teach the God’s Word, then truth will bless God’s people and the Church will brighten the world. If pastors fail, the Church and society become worldly.
In the Old Testament, God held the Jewish leaders responsible for the state of the nation. In Ezekiel 34, God strongly warned the leaders of Israel that their lack of good leadership caused the disintegration of the people. Ezekiel declared,
“This is what the Almighty Lord says: How horrible will it be for the shepherds of Israel who have been taking care of only themselves. Shouldn’t shepherds take care of the sheep? You have not strengthened those that were weak, healed those that were sick, or bandaged those that were injured. You have not brought back those who strayed away or looked for those that were lost. “You have ruled them harshly and violently… So, you shepherds, listen to the word of the Lord: This is what the Almighty Lord says: I am against the shepherds. I will demand that they hand over my sheep.”
Many times in Israel’s past, the nation’s spiritual leaders became selfish, greedy, and unconcerned about the people–causing the nation to slide into evil. Leaders lost their vision of a just and holy God along with their compassion for those they guided.
Spiritual leaders set the compass of a culture. If ministers preach and live the truth, and care for the true needs of their people, the Body of Christ grows, matures, becomes strong, and affects society around them.
One of my favorite examples is John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. Through fifty years of tireless ministry, he lived and proclaimed the power of the gospel in 18th century England. Over 100,000 people came to Christ, many charities were founded, and his tracts and sermons helped end the cruel child labor laws of his day and influence the abolition of slavery.
A secret of America’s early success was the role of the pastors in society. Coming out of Pilgrim and Puritan traditions, Christian ministers were highly respected as citizen leaders in colonial America.
Their authority came from their godliness. They not only taught the ways of God, but served as judges, civil magistrates, and dispensers of health, education and welfare. They were America’s guardians of truth.
They preached on election days. They proclaimed God’s standards during military conflicts. They led the way in America’s awakenings.
According to Joseph Tracy, the first historian of the Great Awakening, the humility and repentance of New England’s pastors greatly fueled the revival of the 1700’s. He said:
“Especially among pastors there was a sense of spiritual want; there was self examination; there was self-abasement and mourning for discovered want of fervor and constancy in God’s service; there was prayer for pardon, and for grace to be faithful…a more teachable spirit.”
As ministers sought God and applied his truth to everyday life, churches were renewed, thousands were converted, seminary enrollment doubled, and the nation became morally renewed.
There are hundreds of thousands of ordained ministers in America today. Add Christian leaders and lay pastors and the number may rise to 500,000. That’s about one pastor for every 750 Americans.
The moral influence of these 500,000 men and women should be enormous. Instead, over the past forty years, the nation’s moral and corporate conduct has nose-dived into immoral oblivion.
First, many church leaders don’t really know the God of the Bible nor believe in its truth. Studies show that many mainline denominational ministers have made a major shift from biblical truth to a liberal view of Scripture. In one survey, 50% of those responding didn’t believe in God as a Personal Being, 75% didn’t believe in supernatural miracles, and 45% didn’t believe in heaven and hell as actual places.
No wonder so many church-goers are confused, hurting, lost, and scattered. The shepherds are lost themselves. Some years ago a pastor friend told me his seminary didn’t have one born again Christian either on staff or as a student. There were many “religious” people, but none exhibited the Christ-like character and integrity of God.
Sadly, that is true of many ministers today.
Second, many Christian leaders have fallen into sin themselves. The moral failures of many ministers has skyrocketed in the past few decades. Nearly 50% of ministers/priests say they have a problem with pornography–which is also rampant among their people. There are numerous Christian leaders who have also compromised with the lust for money or power.
Third, many good ministers have compromised the power of the gospel. Instead of leading Christians away from the idols of the world, we’ve closed the doors on Super Bowl Sunday and frequented the same movies that the secular world watches. Instead of transforming the culture, we’ve conformed ourselves to it.
I once spoke at a Revive America Seminar in Hastings, Nebraska, that began on a Friday evening and went through Sunday. When I arrived, I learned that the concluding service on Sunday was scheduled at an odd time. The reason? It was Super Bowl Sunday. Some pastors wanted to see the game at 5 pm and not offend their men.
God moved so powerfully during the service that many wept at the altar, some pastors stood and confessed the sin of making sports an idol, Few left the presence of God until the game was over. When God is present, nothing else matters.
Revival was more important than the world’s best entertainment.
Many Christian leaders have compromised. Not all have capitulated to the culture, but many have. That’s why God’s light grows dimmer.
When it takes a faith-based singer to tell the truth about “progress,” you know that leadership is lacking elsewhere. Please watch the following music-video by country singer, John Rich, a follower of Jesus. I don’t usually share this type of song, but it’s clarity struck me. We need a few more pastors to stand up and deliver.
As of today, “Progress” has 277 million hits.
In the past two generations, the pastors and priests of our nation have largely turned out the “lights” of right and wrong, faith, and holiness in our land. Pray for them. Encourage them to rise up and be heard.
Next week we’ll discuss the second major reason for cultural decline and encroaching darkness.
Thanks for your Blog.
To say the least while the church is dimmed, the LORD is calling upon all the inhabitants of the world to observe the banner that is being raised up and the trumpet being sounded.
King James Version
3 All ye inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth, see ye, when he lifteth up an ensign on the mountains; and when he bloweth a trumpet, hear ye.
4 For so the Lord said unto me, I will take my rest, and I will consider in my dwelling place like a clear heat upon herbs, and like a cloud of dew in the heat of harvest.
5 For afore the harvest, when the bud is perfect, and the sour grape is ripening in the flower, he shall both cut off the sprigs with pruning hooks, and take away and cut down the branches.
Let’s wake up from our sleep for our salvation is nearer than when we first believed….
Romans 13:11 “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep, for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed “
Our online pastor, Jack Hibbs, of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills is echoing the very same message. Here is a link if you would like to listen: https://jackhibbs.com/real-life-tv/?mc_cid=667adb0507&mc_eid=d02c54d5ab Thank you for standing up for the truth in these tumultuous times!
Yes, I know of Jack Hibbs and appreciate him very much. You won’t go wrong following his lead.
Each of us can do our part to light up this world for Jesus. Be faithful with yours–and thanks for the encouragement.
Your words resonated with me. I happen to be doing my devotional readings in the Minor Prophets. A number of these prophets, without apology, place responsibility for Israel’s decline and coming judgment on leaders, not only princes, i.e. governmental leaders, but especially spiritual leaders, i.e., priests, prophets, and family heads. Their words to these spiritual leaders are impassioned, richly illustrated, and biting.
Bible-believing churches were not perfect a generation ago; but today’s flaws are serious, especially as they affect the teaching of the Scriptures. Many churches have bailed out on age-level Bible instruction (Sunday School) and replaced it with multi-aged children’s churches, sometimes with K-6 or even K-8 all in one group. It is a horrible teaching model. One hour by the clock on Sunday is just not enough time for worship, general preaching, age-level Bible study, prayer, reflection, fellowship, and a cup of coffee.
When everything trumps our assembling together, the kids and non-believing visitors see it and get the message. If Sunday youth sports trump church attendance, if vacation means no church, if procrastinated homework is a good excuse to miss church, if every school event is more important than church, if attending a weekend pro sports event means skipping church, if parents discourage calls to fulltime ministry in favor of secular careers because there is no money in pastoring or missionary work, kids, youth, and visitors are not fooled and see what is really important to those purporting to follow Christ.
The bible explicitly warns us against neglecting our corporate spiritual life. (Heb 10:25) We have lost too many youth and too many people who came to give us a look over the years because their volunteer groups challenged them to a more serious commitment, and we are paying a generational price.
May God help our pastors and church leaders in particular to call believers, unashamedly, to a more committed life. Sadly, many, many of today’s believers are Biblically malnourished, leading to lethargy on one hand and involvement in cults or unsound teaching on the other.
Wow! this was so on point. Last Sunday I read a devotion before going to Church and I ended up not going because the Holy Spirit message from that devotion was so powerful “Get Back To God’s business”. Your blog is a confirmation.
I have lost interest in my Church for reasons you have stated it’s all a production now and many of us hunger for the Word (a real famine in the land) many feel they have no purpose there because teaching ministries replaced with activities/fellowships etc.
Lord have mercy! It’s been tough without true godly leadership, at times I struggle to hold onto my faith and not compromise with the World’s standards. I Thank God for his Word, the Holy Spirit and Sisters in Christ that I can ask to hold me accountable.
I am convicted to do better/more, so thank you for calling us out to get back to God’s business.
To do God’s business we must “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).
Thanks for doing your part in this generation.
So true !
I’m encouraged that there IS a godly remnant rising.
The Black Robe Regiment of America.
You can contact them at: email@example.com
Networks of pastors are arising with a desire for holiness. PTL!
Maybe you could start a Chapter in Washington State!!!!!
Right on couldn’t be more true. I wonder how much pressure the Lord need’s to allow before the church.responds and sees what you are saying , I pray we wake up soon so the Lord can heal our land and we can be Truly by about the Lords business with power and wisdom. Happy
Love you much and agree wholeheartedly. Even though we’re older, there’s much we can do for the Master until He takes us home. Let’s do it!