Future Church

Over 26 years of ministry, I’ve worked with great hope; a hope that others would experience the revolution of Christ as I have. This is met with the current political/philosophical movement overtaking our country.  With what I’m looking at it doesn’t look good, so I am asking myself “What next?” What is next for the Church in America and how do we operate with in the new reality? As a result I have made some prognostications. These will be helpful in moving forward answering the question “What next?”future-church

I would like to give you some personal background. I am a Constitutionalist, I mean, we need to play by the founding rules of the country which were wisely established by our countries founders. The Constitution has afforded us security: Domestic and National. It has also provided freedom of religion and an opportunity to excel.

Also, I am a conservative theologian, student of revivals, student of missionary movements. Also, I love  history and I am a rabid current affairs wolf.

I have worked in foreign and domestic missions for all these years, helping found a church which is thinly spread between Northern Washington to Northern California. I have served the “poor” for most of this time. Living amongst them, I have served them in my home for their development. I hope this may give some substance to my conclusions.

In order to get to the question “What next?” I think it helps to know where we are and what the trends are in our culture. I have concluded that the visible church will become extinct and religious liberties will be unrecognizable in the future. Sharia will be established over parts of the US and Christians will be persecuted without protection.

Socialism

For years, our educational system has been dominated by a socialistic philosophy. This has primed those indoctrinated to misunderstand and not appreciate our culture and Constitution. This pernicious idea has brought about devaluation of religious liberty and the traditions they were built on. It has left the indoctrinated without the background necessary to understand their value.

The Liberal has the mission to advance their utopic vision, even if a few eggs need to be broken (freedoms removed, especially religious.) This is a small expense for the great vision of a perfected world without God.

Poor

It may be strange for you to hear that the poor are few in this country. Let me parse this for you. “Poor” as Jesus spoke of will always be with us of course. However, the poor in this country are often paid to be that way. When given a choice between free money or hard work, too many make the choice of poverty at the hand of the State. This ruins lives. The unexpected effect it that it requires immigration for lower level jobs because we have paid our poor not to work. Do you see how this plays in the struggle for power?

These poor are practically un-helpable, due to the dependence and mentality created. They feel it is their right to be helped. Therefore, they can’t be grateful for a hand up because of the expectation that has been engendered. This permanently handicaps them.

You see, whichever philosophy, generated behavior is rewarded that will be the path too often taken. For example, if a family worked hard, was modest, sober, honest and carful, they would naturally prosper in this country thus exemplifying the path to success. On the other hand, if a family were to be lazy, immoral, spend wildly, intoxicate and not care for their children, the result would be a visible cataclysm and others would steer away from such behavior. These models would thus reinforce a Biblically established scheme of success. As it is now we reward the lazy, an imprudent and punish the industrious, sober minded. You can live in a way that causes destruction but still survive. You can see where that takes us a as a nation?

Traditionally, the Church has sought out those in need in order to preach the Gospel. They have been receptive because they have suffered and are looking for answers. They are looking for a better way. In this country, it is more difficult to preach the Gospel because of the way to success, which the  Bible outlines is countered by subsidized laziness and debauchery. They have a “god”, and it is the State. Their plan of life, while not very appealing to most, is sufficient and fairly comfortable. The Gospel of Christ is thus hidden for lack of desire to pursue a better way. The Gospel we preach is a now and then Gospel, “What God does for you now and eternity.”

Politics

Unfortunately, with the current elections at hand, we are painfuly aware of a huge dilemma. We have a choice between acceleration toward a hard core socialistic future or simple immoral prosperity without social change that can use wealth wisely. Neither of these takes us in the right direction and each has a devastating terminus.

The socialistic agenda is obviously negative, as I suspect the reader understands. But, simple prosperity has its downside, as Biblical readers, are acutely conscious. This drink historically proven to come with a hangover. Ancient societies have, as Israel in the Old Testament, come to ruin. Without the cultural moral boundaries once firmly established combined with more money and time on our hands, we will devour ourselves in licentiousness.

Thus, the Lord has given us over to our carnality and is humiliating the United States, first, in Obama, and then in our current non-choice between Hillary or Trump. Obama has made “fundamental Change”, Hillary will continue the “progress” and Trump at best will increase our prosperity with no cultural, moral progress. This will make our situation worse. It is a downward slide at the hands of the peoples vote and carnality leading to a free fall . I think it is obvious that the only road ahead is more dissipation.

Islam

In my research of Islam and the Middle East after Islam’s advent, I have concluded that as Assyria was to Israel and Babylon was to Juda, so is Islam to Christianity. Islam is a judgement upon the Church.

Institutionally, the Church was a mess in the Middle East at the time of Mohamed. The Church at that time used legal institutions to oppress other less powerful Christian sects. This was only 600 years after the resurrection of Christ.

Similarly, the church is in disarray today. With a weak gospel message and with the believer’s heart in lustful pursuit of worldly gain, we are in an unenviable state.

Islamic immigration to the United States is continuing to increase. Muslim audacity is rising in our free environment. They use our democratic system and social resources allowing them to grow safely and prolifically, with their hope of Sharia in the USA. This will affect our communities profoundly in the future and the Sharia institution will appear. By force they will bring us into submission. This has been their approach historically since Islam began.

As in many places in the world, the fidelity of culture has been adversely affected by immigration not properly controlled. Here we have a Southern immigration that strengthens the Socialist movement and an army from the East to destroy the Church. This two prong attack is the dark cloud on the horizon readying for a deluge upon the church.

Visible Church

I believe the Visible Church will cease to exist. The Visible Church is the store front church, the ones you attend on Saturday or Sunday; those that preach the Word. The Visible Church will die due to taxation and regulation, supported by public opinion.

The Anti-Christ Church will always exist. By “Anti-Christ” I mean, those churches that have wondered from the faith and ran to secular philosophies intertwined with various Biblical texts. The Bible is used only to give an appearance of orthodoxy and a pseudo-psychological placebo for the here and now ailment. Secular ideas are used by these to avoid persecution and gain general cultural acceptance.

If you are on the internet, you will see the church characterized as bigoted and war mongering. You have also seen the prejudice and marginalization of the church in the media as a type of cartoon. They have even termed us as dangerous like Islamic terrorists. You also have noted the trend to tax the church, which means our property and donations.

As a result most churches that are struggling financially will sell or lose their property to the government for failure to pay their taxes.

The government will require tax on property that the church owns. It will no longer be treated as a charitable organization but as a business.

Along with this, the exemption that is given for charitable giving on an individual’s tax return will be taken away and if that weren’t enough the exemptions given to pastors will be abolished, thus decreasing financial resources. Pastors will take other jobs to survive.

It is also so common knowledge that there is an “anti-discrimination” movement spreading through the country that is targeting the church. This affects who the church hires and how we speak of behaviors not sanctioned by the Bible. Not hiring gay and transgender individuals will make us guilty of discrimination followed by laws suits. This further impacts out activities and finances. Furthermore, pastors speaking against these behaviors will be guilty of using “hate speech” punishable by jail.

The law will change to demand that the church no longer use ”discriminatory” hiring practices as it relates to gays and transgender people. This affects church’s educational institutions, charitable organizations, missions, and hospitals. The church will be forced to risk existence over orthodoxy.

This trend is made possible by the daily, philosophical indoctrination of media and education. These orthodox, secular humanists are ready to give over the Church for “doing what is right.”

As a result of socialism, the educational system, the media, Islam, taxation and legislation, the Visible Church has hard days ahead and it will cease to exist. The Church’s Divine Calling of living righteously and affecting change in the hearts of people will be more difficult. The Islamic movement will push us out of some places and pressure us with Sharia in others.

The good news is that the Church won’t cease to exist. It will still be present but invisible. The buildings will be gone but the Church will move on. It will be an unseen Church: small; in garages, playrooms, living rooms and shops. These churches will be many.

In these close quarters we will be refined and redefined. This closeness will have a winnowing effect because, proximity breeds conflict. People will have more conflict and reveal Judas but those who remain will become better at resolving it: learning love at a deeper level.  With our backs against the wall and a harder core of individuals remaining, we will be required to step up and take responsibilities that we once hadn’t realized. Gifts will be discovered, previously obscured. Innovation in the Spirit will open opportunities through efforts never attempted by our generation, and with much persecution.

As the economy declines and social programs fade, the need for help and answers will come. Socialism will be seen by those blinded as bankrupt. People will turn to God, then we will have a fresh awakening; a great harvest.

So this requires great patience in the Saints. We will wait on God. In the interim, we shall plant and water. We will ready ourselves for the new harvest and wait for the answer to “What next?”

God be with you in Christ.

Identity Crisis

I recently discussed salvation and the Identity Concept (IC) as they relate. This discussion brought about important issues of distinction. IC is the teaching about who you are now as a Christian. The idea of IC as many ideas if improperly used, prop up a bad ideas. It will become the reason for supporting a bad idea as if proving IC legitimizes, as in this case, a bad gospel. This is the case with the IC concept when placed with the popular gospel of Cheap Grace (CG) or easy believe-ism. Cheap grace is the salvation that requires no repentance for salvation because it erroneously states simply that by “faith” in Christ you are saved. It requires nothinwhog else. You will change naturally.

I use and want to grow in my identity in Christ and I hope to encourage others to do the same. IC is encouraged after becoming a Christian. A Christian is one who trusts Christ, thus having a new King, Kingdom and Kingdom purpose. You are now a resident of the Kingdom and a royal subject of the King. You are His representative and emissary. You are now empowered by this knowledge for Kingdom living and service.

IC is improperly applied in CG and give an unfortunate support for CG. IC’s role in the context of CG is as follows. One believes in Jesus expressed in the prayer of salvation. Then one needs to be taught about their identity. It is believed that the new Christian will “naturally” grow to maturity once they have been taught their identity. I believe, that for some, it works just that way and they become wonderful and fruitful Christians. However this is the anomaly…I believe that fruitful Christians work hard for their new life. For the majority, when told they are saved through their “faith” and are Heaven bound, IC becomes irrelevant. They naturally conclude it isn’t important for salvation, so why bother. It is like a contractor being paid before the job is completed. He lacks motivation to do the job timely, if at all.

Experience shows that many of us really struggle in our evolution: sanctification. It can be very hard to change habits and take on the character of Christ. Many superficial changes are quite easy but others are demoralizing. It isn’t all that natural to change but it is inevitable to change as you “work out your faith with fear and trembling.”

From this stand point, when IC does not achieve it purported goals, it isn’t concluded that the faith was spurious but that IC hasn’t been properly grasped. They believe the individual is saved through their ”faith” so the salvation of the individual isn’t to be questioned. Is proclaiming faith in Christ enough?

IC properly placed in the acceptance of Christ is highly valuable. The foundation that IC rests is the Gospel that which teaches to submit to Jesus the King and make a commitment to adhering to the Kingdom lifestyle. As anything new, it comes through difficulty and failure.

Faith in Christ is as simple as hearing his message and as a result following his word and lifestyle. Faith is like flicking a switch and the result is the illuminance of the light. Yet, it isn’t natural to luminate as bright as Jesus but through sanctification we become brighter. IC may play an important role. The faithful will bear fruit; the fruit described in Galatians, the fruit of the Spirit. This fruit affect the lives of outsiders.

IC can play an important role for those of faith. Assuming one comes to faith, as Christ would define, it is the next necessary to teach them to obey Jesus (Matt 28:18-20.) Since, in this transaction, Christ is recognized as Lord, non-spurious faith will continue in its ups and downs through the end of life. In this, IC is very important. These ones will become bright lights.

IC provides, upon the foundation of Christ and the Gospel, an understanding of who we are in relationship to God. It says we are loved children and co-heirs with Christ. With the assurance of God’s power, love, and fidelity we are empowered to live as Jesus. Knowing we are on his team to be equipped and used for his eternal purpose, we are fruitful. It is like taking the jersey and given a position to play on your favorite sports team. It is incredible to be included as a full member of the family of God through Jesus Christ.

8/3 Do Not Lose Heart

2 Cor 4:1 Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.

His mercy gives us this ministry. It is a ministry of love. We love and spread his message of love. We recruit for His Kingdom others to love with us. This is His kindness which he bestows on us. It is a gift. This purpose is necessary for us and because of it we can persevere.

This mercy causes us to know what we are to do and continue until he collects us to our home. Because of this we do not lose heart. This ministry causes us to persevere. Who could imagine that this would be so essential to our salvation and enjoyment of life? Thank the Lord for this mercy gift.

7/10 Like Him

2 Cor 3:18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

You are being transformed. Continue to think about him and your prize. Apply yourself to the work.

He is transforming you. It happens through obedience, failure, difficulty, prayer and meditation.

It is slow but there is an end in mind…you will be like him.

 

 

7/9 Standing Firm

2 Cor 1:24 …it is by faith you stand firm.

There is incredible and formidable power in your faith. You cannot lose. This provides everything you need now and forever. Everything hinges on this and with it eternal life. You are very secure in it. You are untouchable to the enemy of your soul.

You will overcome this life and every difficulty. You will see your family and the souls of others rescued from death. You will destroy the enemy. You will see him suffer for all he has done. You will reign with your King in eternity. You will be an overcomer and victor and this all due to your faith in Jesus. Party now!

7/8 Ownership

2 Cor 1:22 set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

He owns you. This should comfort you. This should bring you great peace and joy. You are his. You are his own personal possession. That excludes every other call to rights on you, including yourself. This is truly amazing for you given his wonderful love and benevolence.

He not only owns you but also he values you. How do you know? Is it because he is good? Maybe because he is loving? Is it because you are inherently amazing and valuable? H does value you. You know how much he values you by what he paid for you. He paid the life of his beautiful son. This he paid to have you.

7/7 Yes

2 Cor 1:20 For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.

It is so important for you to remember what the Lord has said to you. He has told you how he feels about you and what he has in store for you. Fill your heart with this as you labor. Look forward to the prize. Put what is happening now in the context of these promises.

How important and affirming his promises are. List them. Meditate and pray over these. They will nourish and strengthen you. Speak them. Speak them to your brothers and sisters. Thank him and rejoice.