As I continually
observe American society, and in particular, Fundamentalist and Evangelical
Christian society, in these most recent years I have perceived a dawning
and an awakening by the people of God to the realization of an outward, yet
barely perceptible, movement by His Holy Spirit in the midst of us. There
is a mention of it here and there, if not in an obscure message posted to
an electric board deep in the guts of the frenetic activity of the Internet,
or in a lonely article tucked away under a furniture ad in the local newspaper.
A resurgence of "religion" or a growing need for "spirituality," as the political
and social pundits of every stripe say, trying desperately to pigeonhole
and rationalize it, as if perhaps they can control it and explain it away.
This "work". Yet, it continues. For example, one writer posted this on an
obscure message board, in response to some contestant,
"But don't start celebrating
your victory yet. The pendulum is still swinging and it has started its return
swing. There is a movement afoot that will once again make this nation the
shining city on the hill that God intended it to be. Hopefully it can be
accomplished in love and compassion as Jesus would want it. But I would not
want to be standing in the way. God help us!"
Anyone who has made an
objective attempt to watch the political and social condition of the American
nation and it's very evident moral decline since the '60s and the era of
the Vietnam War, knows that the turning away from the basic principles of
godly living, by the people of this nation, has led America to a tenuous
and precarious civil footing at best. The American people, in their interchange
with society, have placed the Word of Almighty God on the back burner. As
a result, they have acquiesced to the Pied Piper's song of illicit sex and
money, and feeling the inevitable frustration and disgust, have all but abandoned
the running of our government to charalatans and crooks, to whoever promises
them a life on "easy street." And so, a few radicals and extremists from
every political background have seized the opportunity and taken advantage
of this failure to place God first, that has developed over time. This influences
our society, by and large, in a very negative way. Hey, who cares? Right?
As long as it doesn't affect me. Why try? My vote and voice doesn't matter
anyway. But it does. That's not to say there has not been some very good
changes these past few decades, as some still empower themselves with God's
Word, and America's worldwide dominance and prosperity is witness to that.
But for many who don't trust God as their main Hope, despair still
Divorce on a whim is still
rampant, with the ruin it causes in the lives of the children, and that becoming
more and more acceptable, even in the Church. Crime still plagues our society,
with violent juvenile crime spiraling ever upward, as we cower in fear behind
our locked doors at night and read the daily newspapers in horror, instead
of reading the Bible in hope and in Power. U.S. corporations abandon the
American labor market for easier pickings over the border and overseas, and
some workers are even laid off or fired just before they are able to draw
their pensions. It's endless. Spiritually weak people are getting angrier
and the tension is often at a critical level. Frustration and hopelessness
pervade the lives of so many of the "common man", many who fail to accept
the remedy which God has provided.
Where has the Church been,
through this time of social upheaval and change? Are we all asleep and watching
powerlessly from the sidelines? Some seem to have been taking advantage of
the freedom we have in America, assuming that somehow it will always be there
and not chiseled away, bit by bit, by an ever increasing hostile national
legislature, by our own neglect of God's Word. The United States has been
a wonderful haven for the Church of Jesus Christ up 'til now, and a powerful
witness to the world of godly freedom. We surely have slipped into complacency
these past years, and become part of this weakness, isolating ourselves behind
the walls of our various denominational facilities and of our personal lives.
We are fulfilling the words of 2 Timothy 3:5, "Having a form of godliness,
but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." (Note: The "Power thereof,"
in this verse, is none other than the Word of God. The "form of godliness,"
is all of the other religious and ritualistic forms and activities of the
church. Also, the Power of the Word of God functions through the Holy Spirit
and the Holy Spirit functions through the Word of God.)
The Holy Spirit's restraining
influence in our society is inevitably attenuated and dulled through the
Church's retreat behind the perimeter of her own camp, where she sits grasping
at the things of the world, whether governmental institutions, political
parties, church marketing strategies, religious denominations, or a "social
gospel," in a furtive effort to resolve so many of the complex but exclusively
spiritual and moral issues at hand. Instead of wielding the powerful and
effective, spiritual "weapons of our warfare" derived from the revealed Word
of God, we have substituted lipservice and form. And so the "cauldron of
discontent," as the F.B.I. has called it, continues to bubble and boil;
occasionally spilling over into what we enjoy as normalcy. A riot here, as
a city is looted and burned, a bombing there, as yet another extremist purveys
his deadly deeds.
But know this, she is asleep
no more. . . .
In the midst of all this
turmoil, there have been those who faithfully walk with Him, praying for
this nation and its future, refusing to yield to the moral rot that plagues
it. Bible-honoring individuals have taken their stand, despising the indifference
of the masses and said, "Enough is enough." Ministers and common folk who
have faithfully held to the primacy of the Word of God, have begun to see
the results of their faith. The holy Spirit, moving in the hearts and homes
of the faithful, is the only One Who has ever made a difference in our society;
He has begun His "work." That stirring in the hearts of Christian men and
women to read the Bible in true faith, and opening their eyes to the Power
that is contained therein. And this is what is so amazing, that work which
is now taking place is happening completely outside of every political and
religious arena and forum, outside the influence of any who would try and
pigeonhole and categorize it; to criticize and control it.
There are many people who
have completely abandoned their faith, yet not their unavoidable, civic
responsibility, in the temporal institutions and things of this world. Their
faith is quietly and firmly being placed back in the Revealed Word of God,
that is, Jesus Christ as the Word of God (John 1:1-5) in trying to influence
the world for good and to reach people for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It's
interesting how severe turmoil will force us to our knees in prayer, compelling
us to re-evaluate our priorities. The resulting Power is even now being manifest.
The work is now even being seen.
But don't look for it to
happen in Washington, because it isn't there. Don't even look for it in the
local church, it probably isn't there either. There are a lot of "churches"
out there, some teaching corrupt things in the name of God. Don't look for
it in the "numbers" either. God can't be put in a box, neatly packaged for
the six o'clock news. I don't think God is impressed by and doesn't answer
to the polls, regardless of who is touting them. He certainly isn't a member
of, nor endorses, any political organization, "Christian" or not. Nor is
He impressed by America's military, economic, and political might. The Holy
Spirit doesn't work through worldly and religious institutions, He works
in and through the hearts on men and women as they daily read His Word.
But do look for it right
there where you are. Look for it right there in your house and among your
own family. Look for it when you open the Bible on a daily basis and read
through it and you realize. . . maybe. . . all the promises of God you read
just might be true and for real. That maybe they are meant for you and me,
to be taken quite literally, and not read like a Reader\rquote s Digest,
for entertainment and "insight." No matter what your current state of affairs,
regardless of where you are in life, no matter what your condition, the Lord
can still move in and around you in a great way. God's Word is not limited
by, and is so much stronger than, our silly human frailties. Look for that
work among your close circle of friends, when you are talking together and
you say that. . . maybe. . . even against these most insurmountable odds,
His promises are all true, and the Lord can still do a great work in our
cities and states. Yes, maybe even in America.
Yet another aspect of the
work is the enlightening work by the Holy Spirit in the true Christian Church
in America, that which is called the Body of Christ. There was never any
disunity or separation in the Body of Christ, nor logically, can there ever
be. A body will very swiftly die if it is torn apart.
"For as the body is one,
and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many,
are one body: so also is Christ." I Corinthians 12:12
A friend of mine, Police
officer Scott Keenan once wrote this:
"Mike, thank you for the
encouragement, and I would like to make sure I was not mistaken on a point
I made. I believe in many things, one is that no church has a run on God.
I don't think because you are a Baptist or a Pentecostal or even a Methodist
that you go straight to Heaven. When I wrote about "all the Christians,"
I meant as a whole. I think Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostals, and even most
non-denominational churches are against abortion, homosexuality, and for
prayer in school and a parents right to raise there children without government
interference. That is what I meant by standing together. Can you for one
minute think what a Congressman would do if he thought he would lose a million
votes? The sad part is we are more worried about what "title" we are, and
instead of wearing the cross of Jesus Christ, we say we are Baptist, Methodist
or Evangelical. There are people in Washington like that. Did you know that
Clinton claims to be Southern Baptist? We need to stand together as the Church
of God, to bring morals back to this country. . . ."
Here is one man standing
against the "mainstream," one man standing apart from the crowd, unbending
in his faith in God that He will accomplish a great work in America. This
is the faith of one person spurning the pressure to be influenced by
denominational ties and holding to the Bible's Truth. Here is one more individual
standing a lonely post on the borderline between God's continued blessing
of this nation, and the inevitable turmoil of it's withdrawal. . . and refusing
to back down.
And so, the spark is struck,
and the flame fanned into life, as the Holy Spirit moves in our hearts and
combat faith is borne out of despair. And the heart of the nation gets a
little stronger. And the flame gets a little hotter and starts to spread,
and a stadium is filled with people who are there, not for a sports event,
but to hear the Gospel. And at that same event, hundreds come forward to
make a decision to commit their lives to God and to invite Jesus Christ into
their hearts. Or a million plus men converge on the nation's capitol, in
a historical and record breaking display, kneeling in humility and prayer
before God. Then you know the Spirit of the Lord is on the loose and He has
begun to answer His most faithful fighter's prayers, as they engage the true
enemies in the unseen arena of the spiritual realm. In the end, it is these
unseen enemies that are influencing and orchestrating the chaos and madness,
manipulating the corrupt and unregenerate heart of man. And thus, the battle
is engaged, and the stronghold which despair previously had begins to
If you are a Christian
and as you read this, I hope you realize your part, as a citizen of Heaven,
in the future of this nation. There is a very rude, loud, vocal minority
who continually tries to condemn, criticize, and portray the true Church
as a group which would like to bring this nation and society back into some
sort of evil, spooky "dark age" of history; a body of people who are misguided
and archaic in their world view. They shout, "You're 'anti-progressive'."
Ha! Love them. Pray for them. Ignore their ignorance and push on.
"But thou hast fully known
my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience,
Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at
Lystra: which persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered
me. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution."
II Timothy 3:10-11
Yes, it's a promise of
God we don't always like to remember. But even in light of this, do stay
the course. Because the work has begun. Just open your eyes and see.
"Now therefore fear the
Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which
your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve
ye the Lord. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this
day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that where
on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land
ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:
The gods of this world
being money, self involvement, gratification, apathy and callousness and
iron pride. Abandon the world and its ways. Cling solely to Jesus, the Word
of God. May you serve Him with honor.
Salem the Soldier "Baptism" © Copyright
Michael A. Baker 1983-2011
My Deepest Regards to R. David Conner for his help on this article. © 1998