Since the church is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Timothy 3:15), the New Testament church is the most important institution on earth. The greatest need of every community and every nation is New Testament churches. Nothing can take its place. But in fulfillment of Bible prophecy, the vast majority of churches today are entirely apostate. I think of Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Unitarian, Seventh-day Adventist, Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon, World Council of Churches and all of their affiliates, and many others.
What about “evangelicals” such as Southern Baptists? Most are leavened with rock & roll worldliness and cultural liberalism (they are friends with, and conformed to, the world, which is spiritual adultery), no repentance easy believism, charismatic and contemplative mysticism, nothing versions (e.g., The Message, the New Living, the Good News), textually corrupt versions (e.g., the NIV, the ESV), kingdom now theology, the social justice gospel, positivism and judge not-ism. They have renounced “separatism” even though it is a clear Bible doctrine.
But what about “fundamentalists”? A few exceptions notwithstanding, most of the old non-denominational fundamentalist churches are New Evangelical today. The fight is gone. The outspoken have become silent. The holy have become worldly. The black of an unhesitating stand for the truth of God’s Word is blending into evangelical gray.
That leaves fundamental Baptists. But they, too, overall, are morphing into a wishy-washy, “Baptist-flavored” evangelicalism. Large numbers of them, in our experience, are NEARLY POWERLESS. They might still have the right Bible and be sound in doctrine and even have “separation” in their church covenant and still hold to sacred music. But they are so pathetically powerless. An older preacher, who founded and pastored a large church with a Bible college and has preached in hundreds of churches, said, “I’m sure I couldn’t join 50 churches in America, and I’m being generous. Even many pastors who have [good] music and dress standards are weak and won’t ‘rock the boat’ for anything. It’s a sad day. Most of the churches that I could recommend are new works pastored by young men.”
Consider a simple test. How many churches in America could pass this very basic biblical test, and in truth the test should be much expanded.
(1) The test of conversions. How many churches have regenerating power? A massive number of “Bible-believing” churches are seeing frighteningly few life-changing, “turn around and go the other way,” biblical conversions. If the baptismal waters are stirred, it is for children who, when they reach maturity, launch right out into the world, thus demonstrating their unregeneracy.
(2) The test of the family. How many churches have the power to build godly homes? A New Testament church is tasked with building godly homes that can raise a godly seed for Christ. Yet a great number of Bible-believing churches don’t have the power to make fathers who are the spiritual leaders of their homes and mothers who are the spiritual keepers of the home. Look at the worldly character of the homes. Look at the the conversation, the priorities, the entertainment, the content of the social media. The homes are the products of churches.
(3) The test of discipleship. How many churches have the power to produce real disciples of Jesus Christ? God’s Word plainly states that every church member is to be equipped to observe all things that Christ has commanded and to be presented perfect in Christ (Matthew 28:20; Col. 1:28). That is the work of a New Testament church, and if a church can’t do what Christ has commanded there is something deeply, fundamentally wrong. Where are the churches that are taking this seriously and where this is really, effectually happening?
(4) The test of Bible skill. How many churches have the power to produce passionate, skillful Bible students? The Bible plainly says that every saint is to be skillful in Scripture, both in ability to use it and to apply it to daily living so that he or she has a biblical testing mindset (Hebrews 5:12-14).
(5) The test of prayer. How many churches are churches of serious prayer? A mid-week prayer meeting that I attended at an independent Baptist church a year or so ago is all too typical. It consisted of about four minutes of silent prayer closed by a brother who prayed for about 30 seconds. An evangelist friend wrote as follows of a recent experience: “Many are just putting in their time in prayer. We were in one church this year for prayer meeting. When they divided for prayer, my wife and I knelt to pray. Within 2-3 minutes, the auditorium became quiet. I looked up and everyone was talking in the back of the church. SAD!” I asked a friend who attends one of the stronger independent Baptist churches in the South if he sees a lot of praying going on. He replied, “No. None at all.”
(6) The test of the youth. How many churches have the power to win the hearts of youth to Christ and holiness? Youth are the product of the church and the home; neither institution can escape responsibility. I often ask pastors, “How many of the young people are on fire for the Lord? Are they passionate to become skillful Bible students? Are they surrendered to seeking God’s perfect will by the standard of Romans 12?” Powerless churches have produced a wicked nation that is under the judgment of God.
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