Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Great Apostasy

I am grateful to God Almighty that he created me and that he chose for me to be a citizen of the United States. This is not only because of the extraordinary political freedoms and opportunities I have as a citizen but because of the great heritage of this country. So many of my fellow believers and fellow citizens are quick to pass judgment upon the United States, for lots of different reasons. But none of those critiques and criticisms, even those that are valid, have diminished that sense of gratefulness I have for this country. 

What am writing this for? Not to make a commentary on the most recent election. (Dear God, no! There has been quite enough foolishness said about that from people of all political views.) Rather, I am articulating (to myself primarily) my deep sadness about the country of my own birth. The thorough and undeniable influence of the Christian churches and general Christian world-view on this nation has been intentionally ignored and/or actively suppressed for many years (now several generations if not longer). And the people of this nation, with the exceptions of the minority of professing Christians, have been willing to adopt lifestyles that run counter to the core teaching of Scripture on faith and righteousness.

What is worse about the situation is that so many people in America appear to be content with their spiritual deadness; though dying spiritually they think they are healthy. This is surely one of the signs of the advanced stages of apostasy from the Gospel. This grieves me because where the people choose the apostate road together they invite God’s judgment upon them.

What can be done? “The only way to prevent this falling away from the gospel is to love the truth and to experience its power in the heart.” (John Owen, Apostasy from the Gospel, abridged by R.J.K Law [The Banner of Truth Trust:1992], p.57) This is precisely what so many are unwilling to do. 
I could list the social vices that people usually talk about as they predict the reasons for the country’s decline and demise. This is not helpful nor necessary. Most intelligent and thoughtful people know that the United States social situation is full of examples of vice and serious chronic problems. These are only the symptoms of a society being shaped by people (especially the elites who govern) who live as though God was not actually present and involved in human life. And even for those who do know and honor God in ways they think best they cannot help but be influenced by the godlessness of the elites. 

The 16th pastor and writer, William Gurnall, made this observation (below) which I marvel at because it so accurately describes the attitudes and actions of my neighbors, co-workers and yes, many professing Christian people. And I would say that I have in the past embraced the thinking and corresponding actions described here too.

“We live in a generation which treats sin and holiness as the melancholy imaginings of timid men and women. Some even brag about being free from the tranny of holiness and that they can curse, lie and steal without being accountable to an unbending conscience. They rationalize that sin does not exist except in the mind. Thus these are even worse fools than the one David described: ‘The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God’ (Ps. 14:1). These people go further and shamelessly announce to the whole world that they are fools. … What a deep sleep we have slept, that the enemy could have come in to sow these tares among us! Maybe we took it for granted that such poisonous seed would not grow in our soil, where Christ’s servants have worked so hard—at great cost—to clear it. Yet experience has proved that when disease invades a city it rages more freely in pure air than in polluted climates. And when a spirit of delusion falls upon a people who have enjoyed the gospel most, it grows to epidemic proportions.” (William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour, Vol. 2 [Banner of Truth], pp.228-229.)

Here is the point I want to make. When an individual turns from the light of truth and into the darkness the satanic forces are eager to kill, destroy and steal. For they have been given an open door to do so by human beings. There is no neutral ground in this world. To turn away from God and his Gospel is apostasy and the only alternative is to go to the enemies’ deception and error.

Perhaps the greatest ally of the devils, next to human pride, is the greatness of the United States—the rich history of political stability, the persistence of a shared commitment to the rule of law, the unparalleled economic prosperity and successes (mostly) in military conflicts. The kings of Israel (in the Old Testament) also were noted for military successes, economic prosperity and sometimes long-term political stability. But this did not help in the end as God brought his judgment down on the 10 tribes precisely because of their apostasy.

I do not believe that the United States is a “chosen people” in the sense that Israel is—both the ancient Israelites and their descendants today. Let me make that clear. But God has guided and directed the course of the United States in unmistakable ways. We are a truly blessed nation by God. However, the characteristics of arrogance and self-sufficiency and self-indulgence tend to be true of our people.

I recall hearing over and over certain believers speaking about the need for revival in order to prevent the judgment of God to be executed upon the United States. I used to dismiss this. Now I am sure those voices are speaking the truth. But God is merciful and thus I have hope that the Almighty may revive and spare the people of the nation of my birth from his just wrath.