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The Impotent Church

Most Christians in American have lost their sense of a holy God. They do not understand His divine attributes of love, power, wisdom, sovereignty and grace. Vast numbers of church members do not know that He is present, active, available, and knowable to them.

The reality of God seems far removed from everyday life. As a result, it has become all too easy to be influenced by the incessant onslaught of secular attitudes in movies, television, advertising and daily peer pressure.

Importance of the Local Church
The most important and influential institution for the good of mankind in any community is the church of our Lord Jesus Christ. But many have fallen away from her.

In my almost fifty years of walking with the Lord, I have been committed to the local church. My wife and I became Christians through the influence of the First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, where we were nourished in our faith as young believers.

A Growing Concern
Our Lord looks upon His Church, His body of believers, as the “salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). Salt is a necessary supplement in the human diet. It adds flavor to the food, and as a preservative, it prolongs the life of perishable items. But most Christians today have lost their savor. And as many of the values that Americans hold dear slowly slip away, the Church often seems powerless to preserve them.

The Role of the Holy Spirit
During revival, the Holy Spirit persuades believers of their true condition and their need to repent and return to their first love. He inspires His servants to speak His fresh messages to the Church. And He uses those whom He inspires to help convince other believers of their need to drop their worldly pursuits and seek after God with all their hearts.

Erosion of Spiritual Values
But if the Holy Spirit is the author of revival, how did so much of Christ's Church become so impotent? The answer is simple:

We are not listening to God.

We are not obeying Him.

During the last thirty years, America’s slow slide into moral decadence has happened in full view of the Body of Christ. A look at conditions in the Church-and surrounding it-will help to understand why.

First, Christians have left their first love. According to many polls, the majority of believers have lost their original spiritual fervor and are caught up in the things of the world. Like the Church of Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7) they do not love the Lord as they once did.

Second, Christians, for the most part, are sorely divided. With far too many denominations, each with its own distinctive beliefs, the Church seems embattled over doctrinal issues, the ordination of women, abortion, and other moral principles.

Third, Christians often reflect a poor image. When I was a young man, many unbelievers like myself thought the local church was a place for sissies, women and children. Hollywood and the media have furthered that image by portraying “parsons” as weak, effeminate individuals whom “real men” find disgusting.

From the pulpit, some Christian leaders condemn sin, but privately are themselves guilty. Add to that the divorce rate among Christians, and you confirm the perception that believers are little different from nonbelievers.

Fourth, Christians have lost their influence on society. Some years ago, a major secular poll reported that there were sixty million born-again Christians in America. But publications such as the Wall Street Journal took issue with the finding. The Journal wanted to know: If this is true, why is America ravaged by crime and violence? The answer lies partly in the fact that millions who call themselves Christians are really not Christians at all; although religious, they have never experienced a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. And many of those who are Christians are living worldly (carnal) lives.

Fifth, Christians are searching for easy solutions and quick success. Most of God's ministers shun fiery sermons on holiness and repentance. Instead, they pander to the desires of their flocks, preaching “feel-good” messages on health, wealth and success in life .

Sixth, the Church is weakened by a “what's-the-use?” mentality. Many Christians, when confronted with world conditions and the call to Christian action, reply with a shrug, “Jesus said it was going to happen, so why worry about it?”

Seventh, the world has so crept into the Church that it has become culturally conditioned. To some extent, the Church is aware of this, but has difficulty separating itself from the immoral influences of our culture. This is easy to see in the dress and behavior of many church-goers and in the worldly entertainment they seek. It is apparent that the Church is “fiddling” while believers are “burning” with spiritual indifference, and the souls of nonbelievers are of little concern.

Our Alternative
We do not have to be like the Ephesian Christians-having left our first love (Revelation 2:4). Each one of us has the Word of God. We can read and understand and obey it. We can turn to God. We can seek Him. We do not have to wait on others to lead the way.

Most of the Church in America finds itself in this present state of spiritual impotence because it does not truly love God, nor trust His promises and obey His commands.

I am often reminded of something I have tried to teach our Campus Crusade staff and others: All we really have to do as believers, from the time we get up in the morning until we go to bed at night, is love God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength, obey His commands, and trust His promises. That is all. Everything else flows from that.

[Excerpt from Chapter 5, The Coming Revival by Bill Bright]

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