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 apostate. I think of Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Unitarian, Seventh-day Adventist, Jehovah’s Witness, Mormon, the World Council of Churches and all of their affiliates, and many others. “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:5).
What about “evangelicals”? Most are leavened with rock & roll worldliness and cultural liberalism (they are friends with, and conformed to, the world, which is spiritual adultery), 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.
What about “fundamentalists”? A few exceptions notwithstanding, most of the old non-denominational fundamentalist Bible churches are New Evangelical today. The fight is gone; lines are moving. 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. The gradual acceptance of contemporary worship music is building bridges to the “wider church,” which is the apostate “one world church.”
What about fundamental Baptists? They, too, overall, are morphing into a wishy-washy, “Baptist-flavored” evangelicalism. Most, 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 (usually in a lifeless, ritualistic, uneducated manner, just as a matter of vain tradition). But they are so pathetically powerless. An older preacher, who founded and pastored a large church and has preached in hundreds of churches, recently told me, “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 entertainment, the social media, the conversation, the priorities. 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 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.
(6) The test of evangelism and missionary vision. Churches are dying because their evangelistic vision and zeal has largely died. The pastors aren’t leading properly in this business, and the people are lukewarm or entirely cold. Christ commanded that the gospel be preached to every soul (Mr. 16:15), and that is a continual, unending responsibility. To get the gospel to every soul in the community requires planning by the leaders and 100% participation by God’s people. Christ commanded that the gospel be preached in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria, and unto the ends of the earth (Ac. 1:8). Every church is to take this responsibility with utmost seriousness and strive to present the gospel to its own town, community, county, district, state, province, country, and beyond. Every church is to be an Antioch church. The church that is not doing this is a disobedient, dying church.
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