Summary: This article was written and published Aug. ’14. So often Christians will use a limited and incomplete understanding of certain passages of scripture to make grand presumptions about what God will do or what “the church” will accomplish for God in work or service or public testimony. Never would I question the commitment and love for God of those who make such claims – their sincerity is genuine. But sincerity doesn’t keep one from error and misapprehensions. We must comprehend the present state and condition of Christendom around us, and that this condition means that God’s instructions for believers, in the midst of this state, have changed from the days of Pentecost and the beginning of the Christian dispensation. If God’s testimony is that the professing church is corrupt and spiritually dead, and we deny the reality of this condition, then we do not believe the testimony of God. All real genuine faith for believers can only be based on the testimony of God. Where are we, and what condition are we in, when we refuse to believe God’s testimony? We will be only acting in presumption, and not in faith. This article gives a great example of what I believe is grand presumption by many Protestant leaders – that God will cause the church to rise up strong and win America to Christ. They do not consider the present condition of the professing church, and that God Himself knows and testifies it will not improve.
The answer to this question is easy if the believer is grounded in the understanding of biblical principles and has some familiarity with God’s plan and counsels. The answer to the question is no, the church will not accomplish such a vision of grandeur. Not only this, but Christendom is corrupt and dead; it cannot and will not save itself, let alone the unbelieving world.
The first understanding we must have is that America is the world. It is no different than all the biblical descriptions of the world. Then what is the world? It is what has developed as a system after man had departed from God and was chased out of the paradise in which he was placed in innocence. It is the system that man built as fallen and away from God; a system over which Satan is both god and prince. Man has certainly built a city, in the place where God had declared him a vagabond (Gen. 4:14-17). In whatever man built, and in all his pleasures and entertainment, in the world he was without God.
In America you have all the things that the Scriptures teach will be found in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (I John 2:16). If we were restricted to three words to accurately describe these phrases, it would be sex, money, and power. But why restrict ourselves when there are many sub-categories to list that would give us a better overall picture?
Under sex we have adultery, fornication, lusting after your neighbor’s wife, homosexuality, child molestation and predators, etc. Do we see any of this in America? Under money we have materialism, greed, luxury, debt, larceny, violence, etc. Do we see any of this? With power there is status, vanity, position, reputation, celebrity, fame, control, ambition, pride, selfishness, etc. America is filled with these sins, and its evil only grows worse with time. These are the moral issues of a depraved heart and a depraved world.
The advances and modernizing of society and culture over time has not improved the moral values of the world; rather it has made things worse. The course of the world and the course of this age is characterized by evil ripening and progressing to the end (Gal. 1:4). The world will follow and obey its god and prince, who is Satan (John 12:31, 14:30, Eph. 2:2, II Cor. 4:4). It will not change for the better
Some fancy that the preaching of the gospel will fill the earth with the glory of the Lord and that this is promised in Scripture. The glory filling the earth is promised, but it is not by the gradual spreading of the gospel. If we would closely look at each of these bible references we would see that everyone is associated with the judgments of God coming first upon the wicked (Hab. 2:12-14, Psa. 72, Isaiah 11:3-12, Rom. 9:17). God’s judgments, demonstrated to the world, is the means by which the glory of the Lord fills the earth and the knowledge of the Lord will spread. This is the biblical principle we find over and over again in Scripture of how the world is actually changed for the good – not by grace, not by the gospel, but only by the judgments of God. And this will be after the return of Christ and during the reign of judgments in justice and righteousness of the Son of Man on the earth in the millennium (Matt. 25:31, Jer. 33:14-17, Psa. 9, 72:1-14, 94:15, Isaiah 5:16). Now let us consider this passage of Scripture:
“For when Your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. Let grace be shown to the wicked, yet he will not learn righteousness.”
In principle, grace and the gospel completely separates the believer from the world, instead of changing the world. Jesus said, “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:19) True believers are chosen by God and separated from the world, while the world continues on in its evil and hatred (also see John 17:13-17, 1 John 5:19). America is the world, and will not be won or changed by the gospel of grace. To think that it will is only holding pretentious human thoughts of human pride and accomplishment – these having their basis in the Arminian and Judaizing leaven. This leaven will always do these four things:
- 1.) it puffs man up so that he thinks more highly of himself and his importance than he ought to think, and gives man a reason for boasting.
- 2.) it robs glory from God.
- 3.) it denies the utter depravity of man in Adam, man in the flesh – a truth that God spent 4000 years proving by testing man in human responsibility. From the time Adam was driven out of Paradise to the cross of Christ, man was on probation before God. Man in Adam, man in the flesh, was proven to have nothing good in him, and to be only an enemy of God (Rom. 7:5, 18, 8:7-8). If one fails to understand this testing by God, and its consequent result (that man was found to be utterly depraved, and declared by God to be lost), and then fails to apply the knowledge of this important truth properly to his study and understanding of scripture, his doctrine and theology will always be humanistic in nature, and mistaken in principles. This truth is absolutely critical for any proper understanding of scripture, especially of the Old Testament and God’s choosing and calling of the nation of Israel (I would estimate that over 90% of Protestant ministers, teachers, and theologians, show no evidence in their teachings of any understanding of this probationary period for man).
- 4.) it denies the sovereignty of God.
In some measure the leaven is always a form of humanism. There is no biblical truth in such thoughts, nor are they according to any biblical principles or the plan of God.
Before turning to examine the condition of the professing church, which many believe will be the cause and means of the saving and reforming of America, there is a point about the topic of nationalism to be made in passing. If we know the biblical doctrine of the church and fully understand her true calling, then we easily arrive at the conclusion that America is not a Christian nation. For that matter, America never has been one. These thoughts are only believed in the minds of many Christians, well-meaning as they may be. Yet the thought is not biblically accurate or proper, nor does God hold this thought. In fact, by knowing biblical principles we understand that no Christian nation has ever existed. But this is a topic for a different article.
What about the state and condition of Christendom? I specifically speak of this corporate entity instead of the church because it is what people see in the world and what the world thinks actually is the church. Christendom is the spoiled crop of wheat and tares in the field of the world that anybody may readily see with their own two eyes (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43). For many Christians the spoiled crop never enters their thinking or ever becomes a consideration in their understandings. They naively believe that Christendom is basically good and that God is pleased with it.
But the spoiled crop, growing in its own corruption and evil, is all of Christendom together. And let’s be clear on this important distinction – the body of Christ, the church, is not a crop of wheat and tares mixed together and ripening in evil. The Son of Man planted the wheat. This alone is the work of God. The wheat are the individual members that make up the true church. The rest of the mixture is the work of the devil and the failure of man.
Christendom is the corporate entity that is readily seen in the world. Distinct from this, the body of Christ, the church, is the treasure of great value to God, hidden in the field. As time passed the church became ‘hidden’ in the world (Matt. 13:44). God can see it and He preserves it as His – after all, Jesus sold all that He had to buy the field it was hidden in. But the world cannot see the true church, and does not know of it. All the world sees and knows is the crop in the field. As Christians, we only know of the existence of the church by faith – we cannot see it either; faith being the evidence of things not seen (Heb. 11:1). Like the world, all the believer sees with his eyes is the crop in the field. By faith he knows it is spoiled and growing in evil, the work of Satan and the failure of man having their normal effects on its progression.
If a Christian was to envision the body of Christ, what would he see? Would he not be thinking of a plethora of local churches, put together somehow by some mystical unity, as constituting the church? He may be given to excluding certain ones, certain groups, even whole denominations perhaps. When a minister calls out to the body of Christ to rise up and win America, to whom is he actually speaking? Who is he including, who is he excluding? Christendom is made up of Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Protestant denominations and independent churches – I’m sure I have missed a few groups! The professing church contains all of this – anything and everything that professes the name of Jesus Christ. The last time I checked all of these groups and more do this.
There is always found in God’s word a distinction between these two corporate entities. There is a difference between the crop in the field and the hidden treasure; there is a difference between Christendom and the true church. As believers we should be ever mindful of these understandings and how the corrupting leaven always wants to enter in and obscure God’s word and truth (Matt. 13:33).
In the end times the solid foundation of God is that the Lord knows those who are His (II Tim. 2:19). Concerning others, we do not know and cannot know for sure. Even Paul did not know for sure, saying, “…if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you.” (Rom. 8:9-11) But we personally know concerning our own salvation and relationship with God, for “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.” (Rom. 8:16)
Then what should we view our local church a microcosm of – Christendom or the body of Christ? Is the local church a reflection of what is seen or what is hidden? Ask yourself, is the local church readily seen in the world? Then it will always be a microcosm of that which the word of God speaks of as seen in the world – the spoiled crop of wheat and tares mixed together in the field. All local churches are a reflection of the corporate entity of Christendom. To think otherwise is only human pretention. If we put aside our pride and emotional involvement on this issue, we will then be able to do away with the corrupting leaven, and see the truth of God with a single eye, as taught by the Holy Spirit.
Now for some straight talk. The church in America will not rise up and save or change America. The professing church in America cannot even save itself – not corporately. Christendom is corrupt and dead. That is God’s testimony of it (this is the entire subject of the third book – The Corruption and Death of Christendom). It matters not whether you are viewing it in Europe or in America. Besides, this is an improper way of viewing the crop. There is not an African, Asian, European, or American division in the crop. The crop is one and must be seen as one corporate entity. It is corrupted, and the evil in it is ripening to its end. The crop has one candlestick that is responsible to shine to this dark world. It has miserably failed in its corporate and public testimony to the glory of God in the resurrected and glorified Jesus Christ. There will not be some generalized revival that’s just around the corner so to speak, which is destined to sweep across America. There never ever was a promise of generalized revival or renewal. “But if we pray hard and long enough, with great emotion and tears?” – this is only an Arminian tenant, used to spur on the human efforts of the flesh. It is one of the great “confidences of the flesh” that are so embedded in contemporary religious activities. You must see it this way, otherwise you entertain human pretentions instead of God’s thoughts and word and testimony.