Years ago I watched an interview with Leonard Ravenhill in which he stated that he didn’t believe more than 5% of the American population was genuinely born-again of the Spirit of God. Many thought his assessment was offensive and exaggerated. But now, toward the end of 2013, the statisticians tell us that only 8% of the U.S. population can be classified as evangelical based on these four characteristics:
1. They believe the Bible is God’s true Word.
2. They believe Jesus died on the cross for our sins.
3. They believe individuals need to be personally converted.
4. They believe the gospel needs to be expressed outwardly.
According to Mark Driscoll’s book “A Call to Resurgence”, only 8% of Americans hold to these 4 very basic biblical ideas. As it appears, Ravenhill’s 5% may be accurate when applied to our day, since a mere mental adherence to these beliefs does not constitute an authentic life in the faith.
Dear saints, the hour is late, and we need like never before to “contend for the faith,” to take up our crosses, and to follow the Lamb wheresoever He goes.
There is a very real crisis in the nations, as more than 6,000 people groups have yet to hear the Gospel of Christ. A Church that is unconcerned on this front is “asleep in the Light,” and we ought to be increasing day by day in the burden for His Name to be declared “to the Jew first, and also to the Greek,” where it has not yet been preached.
Yet and still, we mustn’t live beneath a deceptive cloak of the “Christianness” of America. There is a radical need for a true demonstration of the faith in the West as well. In point of fact, the sub-apostolic condition of the Church in America does much to explain its lack of concern for those who are perishing in the nations, with no access to Bibles or missionaries.
If we are largely failing to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling” in our own nation, if the “form of this world” has captivated us rather than the “Man Christ Jesus,” if the fading lights of this age have our attention rather than the Light of eternity, if our families are in a disparaging condition, how shall we demonstrate a true witness in other lands?
America does not have the crisis of “no access” to the Gospel, but it does share in the international crisis of little to no demonstration of the Gospel. The moral and spiritual limpness of the Church, the prayerlessness, the chronic fascination with the world, the lack of awe and reverence, the scarcity of God-wrought joy, the incapability of discerning the difference between the holy and the profane, the absence of a theology of suffering, the fatherlessness both in the Christian home and in the Church, and the low value for the Scriptures all testify to our desperate need for a recovery of the true and vibrant faith that the apostles charged us to contend for.
Our children are imbibing the spirit of this age; drinking deeply of poisonous waters from broken cisterns, while we are moping along in a drab, Sunday-to-Sunday version of the faith, which constitutes little more than a fantasy of piety, a game of cross-evasion, a self-conscious kind of posturing, seemingly justified by the fact that it is laced with a hacked up measure of biblical language and spiritual verbosity. We are not, as a people, abiding in Christ, honoring the Scriptures, sharing in His life authentically one with another, nor giving a true and vital witness to our families, neighborhoods, and cities. The Church has become for us an attachment to our own myopic lifestyles. Our faith is not at the center, and is thereby a distorted caricature of the Biblical view. It is largely unreal, and we need the bandages to be ripped from our eyes. We are hiding in Christendom’s cultural basement and playing with baby rattles, while a war is on all around us.
Jesus said, “When you pray, go into your room and shut the door…”
We’re going to have to “shut the door” on this world, saints- to more frequently turn our backs on our devices, our hobbies, our multitudinous distractions, even some of our so-called “ministries”, if we’re going to be to the Lord, to our families, to the Church, and to our cities what the Lord is calling us to be; namely, a priestly people, a holy people, a broken and loving people, a God-saturated people— witnesses to the glory of the crucified and risen Christ in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. We are going to suffer resistance for that kind of life, but the Lord will bear much fruit through us, if we are willing to live as “broken bread and poured out wine.” That is the life of “living sacrifice,” but it is the one in which we find “rest for our souls.” The need has never been greater in America for a demonstration of the Gospel; a recovery of true preaching and Christly living.
“I wonder how many of us are wearing porcelain faces, living out a Christian life from a self-assumed notion of how we ought to appear.” -Arthur Katz
To the wind with our porcelain Christendom, our game-playing with theology, our boasting in titles and movements, our pursuit of vain and passing trinkets and toys, our itching for acceptance and praise from men. We need now to return to the Lord, to the Gospel, to prayer, to the Scriptures, to true fellowship one with another. We haven’t the time for hollow ministerial ambitions, fake relationships, cross-less discipleship, and plastic religion. There’s a faith to be apprehended by, a Christ to be proclaimed, a Wisdom to be demonstrated, a witness to be given. Would we perpetuate the lie of Christendom, or are we longing for the reality of God?
“Brethren, our eyes are dry because our hearts are dry. To our knees, then, to rediscover apostolic purity and power.” -Leonard Ravenhill
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon