Anyone interested in eschatology, theology focused on the end times, has probably dealt with the fact that the United States is not reflected in biblical prophecy of the end times. You can easily draw conclusive proof to show Russia, Syria, Turkey, Iran and others battling with and/or joining forces with each other as the apocalyptical close is reached – while Israel is the lone target of the world’s collective anger – remaining at the epicenter of all things, what was and what will be. The absence of America in these prophetic events can be linked to the fall of the church in this country – their rise and fall are undeniably linked – and their current courses are following a similar downward trajectory.
The political structure of this once great nation has fractured and democracy has failed to a large extent. Divisions have grown so wide that most topics are no longer open for any debate or educated exchanges of ideas. This disquieting social construct is causing more individuals or groups to evolve, in many instances, to compromise their own values and beliefs so as to remain acceptable to the masses.
From a psychological standpoint, Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist known for his “hierarchy of needs,” there comes this defined human desire for what he termed “belongingness.” The social needs in Maslow’s hierarchy include such things as love, acceptance, and belonging. At this level, the need for emotional relationships drives human behavior. This drive for acceptance can override one’s own beliefs resulting in the adaptation of values, fashion, politic speech and moral interpretations from others in order to gain admittance into the assembly. For many people it is easier to compromise oneself if the alternative would be rejection and isolation.
What we are seeing in America is our own “great reset” of sorts. This rush to be “woke” as individuals, corporations, and even the church. This re-branding has been set in motion through a concerted effort to destroy what was once deemed above reproach. It is no accident that the foundations of this democracy have been attacked – the founding fathers, once highly esteemed – now nothing more than slave owning hypocrites. Despite their establishment of a constitution for all people which set in motion the path forward towards a more perfect union – not a perfect union – but “more perfect” which in and of itself allowed our nation to overcome some of the greatest inequities of advanced civilization. Inequities not created here but overcome through our shared belief that all men are created equal – of which we have celebrated for generations – but are now simply fodder in a world that places more value on wokeness than on achievement.
To be accepted by the woke assembly is to denounce yourself and apologize not specifically for your actions – but for simply “being” – and with that comes a litany of re-educational doctrines that label your shortcomings that you had no idea even existed. The very fact that you don’t realize how flawed you are is further evidence of how deeply biased you must be – otherwise you would see it for yourself. Thankfully the woke are here to educate you out of your misdeeds.
So what does this have to do with the decline of our country and the church – and the larger question – why are we missing from end-times prophesy? Look no further than the direction of the church. How many are compromising to stay relevant? You don’t have to look very far to see the wreckage from this cultural tug-of-war within many denominations. The Methodist church has now split in two while the once strong Southern Baptist Convention has all but imploded as competing voices push to advance man-made doctrines over God’s own truths found in scripture.
Consider this troubling trend as noted by the New York Post, for the first time in 80 years, a Gallup poll has found that less than half of US adults belong to a church or synagogue. “Americans’ membership in houses of worship continued to decline last year (2020), dropping below 50% for the first time in Gallup’s eight-decade trend,” Gallup reported in March of 2021. “US church membership was 73% when Gallup first measured it in 1937 and remained near 70% for the next six decades, before beginning a steady decline around the turn of the 21st century.” Membership numbers dropped to 50% by 2018, and last year slipped to 47%. The decline in membership is due to not only a decline in religious Americans belonging to a church, but also an increase in Americans who do not follow a religion at all, according to Gallup.
Before the church as a collective group in the US can move towards revival, it must acknowledge that what has passed as “worship” for many congregations simply has not worked. Building large campuses, ideally surrounded with beautifully landscaped grounds, comfortable and predictable for those once or twice weekly gatherings, has largely failed. The numbers bear that out – not only in the declining membership – but in weekly attendance. Let’s face it, the community at large does not see the church as a vital cog in the wheels of progress – the church has been dismissed from cultural relevance.
Imagine for a moment what our communities would look like if you could go back 30, 40 or even 50 years and have a do-over. Instead of building the massive structures that are pleasing to the eye but serve no purpose beyond Sunday worship – what if the churches of yester-year were built with the community in mind. Can you imagine a place where the community gathered on Sunday to worship and praise God – then used those multi-purpose facilities during the week where their members donated time and talents for those in need. Could you envision bays in a garage attached to the church where Christian mechanics donated their time to fix automobiles for widow’s, the elderly, the single mom and even provided training and mentorship to young men and women seeking to learn a trade. Every church has doctors, nurses, dentists and other gifted professionals – what a difference we could have had if the community knew that in times of need, the church was where you received the blessings of God in tangible ways. Community meals, medical care, financial assistance and instruction, just to name a few. I would venture to say, if only we had remained focused on God first in all things – the numbers today would be very different. Worship on Sunday – living it every day of the week – what an example we could have set. That’s not to say some churches missed it outright – there are examples of true discipleship and sacrifice – but they are few and far between.
Unfortunately the reaction to this steady decline by many church leaders is not to repent of our missed opportunities but to compromise the scriptures to find acceptance in our new woke reality. This denial is the leading cause of the great fractures that are dividing congregations today. In any event, Paul pronounced this day would come –
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but having itching ears, they shall heap to themselves teachers in accordance with their own lusts. 2 Timothy 4:3
That time has come, we are living it today, and yet our churches in many instances are backing away from sound doctrine so they can provide messages that people want to hear, as opposed to what they need to hear. The declining church in the US is playing right into this prophesy and through their misguided efforts – choosing survival at any cost – they are ensuring the continued descent towards inevitable demise.
The dangers of this decline is the void that results and many deceptive doctrines rise to the surface with clever words that tell an unwitting audience what they want to hear. Sprinkled with half-truths and cherry picked verses taken largely out of context – the unwary listener is easily led astray. In some cases, even believers that should know the difference between truth and fiction are deceived. The largest of these is the on-going con that is nothing more than a religious Ponzi scheme, aka prosperity faith, benefitting those at the top of the pyramid while the desperately deceived funnel more money into the coffers in hopes that one day their faith will be rewarded with some magical jackpot. To this we say read the words of our Lord Jesus in Matthew chapter 16, verses 24 through 26,
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it. For what will it benefit someone if he gains the whole world yet loses his life? Or what will anyone give in exchange for his life?
There is nothing wrong with being happy, but in the context of Christian faith, we find true happiness through dedication and perseverance. If we are led to believe that happiness is found in worldly possessions or by putting ourselves and our own well-being first, we are being deceived because this message runs in direct opposition to the teaching of our Lord. Jesus warned us that we will be hated for his sake, life as a true believer in Christ comes with the promise that you will be persecuted for your faith, but we have the added assurance that Jesus will not forsake us and one day we will be together with Him in glory.
Matthew chapter 7, verses 13 and 14 states,
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
Where are we headed and what does this mean to you and to me? If you’re a believer and have accepted Christ into your heart, you have work to do until that day when we are called home to be with our Lord. It starts with you – what are you doing to share your faith in these troubling times? What is your church doing? If your congregation is compromising the scriptures – stand up and speak out. If they refuse to listen – find another church that preaches the Truth. Share your faith and heed these words from our Lord to his disciples.
“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Matthew 10:16
We can’t go back – there are no do-overs in this life – but we can acknowledge our mistakes and learn from them. Have we been doing it wrong? Ask the tough questions and start moving forward and encourage the believers around you to do the same. Revival starts with you and will spread to those around you. We have been blessed beyond our means in the US, we have no excuses for our failed congregations so we have no time to waste.
Take encouragement from what is happening in Iran. Yes, inside Iran is the fastest growing Christian church in our world today. They own no buildings or property – they meet in secret – but for those that are coming to know Jesus for the first time, they are not only accepting Christ but they are stepping up and sharing that faith with others.
In a recent segment on Fox News that included outtakes from the recent documentary “Sheep among Wolves II,” an Iranian Christian that leads one of hundreds of underground churches had this to say regarding the massive growth of Christianity inside Iran, now believed to exceed more than one million believers. “What if I told you the best evangelist for Jesus was the Ayatollah Khomeini? The ayatollahs brought the true face of Islam to light and people discovered it was a lie…After 40 years under Islamic law — a utopia according to them — they’ve had the worst devastation in the 5,000-year history of Iran.”
They face the daily threat of arrest, torture, even death for their faith in Jesus Christ, yet they go forward each day with a song of praise in their hearts and a true commitment to Christ that reflects the words of the Apostle Paul when he wrote the following;
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21
“We know that if they get us, the first thing they will do to us as a woman is rape us and then they will beat us and ultimately they will kill us,” one believer said. “This is the decision we have made that we want to offer our bodies as sacrifices. Because I have this thought when I wake up, that when I leave that door I might not come back.”
God is working through the Holy Spirit and is reaching deep within this world to allow everyone the opportunity for redemption. Not one person should perish and God’s patience is to that end – so what are you doing for His kingdom? I’m not writing these words to cause anyone to feel unworthy, but we have to be honest with ourselves. It is time to step up or get out of the way. You might not want to hear this but you need to hear this – I need to hear this – so that we can put our own priorities aside and focus on Christ above all else. Join us today by picking up your cross and following our Lord – stand up for your faith and with love and patience, share that faith with those that God brings into your life and across your path.
Do you have the assurance of salvation today, knowing in your heart that you have accepted the free gift of salvation that only comes through faith in Jesus Christ? If not, please don’t wait for the “right time” to make that decision, reach out to us right now with your questions or concerns and let us help you gain that blessed assurance that you have been redeemed. You can reach us through this link Prayer Requests, Questions, Comments .
Romans chapter 10, verses 9 and 10 give us the following guidance to salvation,
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
To the faithful, are you evangelizing according to our shared calling from Jesus? If you truly believe that you have been saved through grace, that Jesus Christ died for all sinners, then step up and share that message! The world is lost and we are the light, but if we hide that light under a bushel then what good are we? Share the gospel, as Charles Spurgeon exhorted, “anywhere and everywhere!” Make sure that you are doing your part and if needed call out your church to do the same. Is your congregation actively involved in true outreach in your community? If not, or if you’re not sure, ask the question and push for real outreach. It’s not a hobby, it is a direct order from our Savior. We should feel anguish in our hearts to know that “narrow is the gate and few will find it.” Get involved, don’t wait for someone else to take up the charge, follow our Lord’s instructions and lead the way.
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John Stephen Frey, Director and Senior Editor, Life Beyond Horizons Ministry