For the Church to Flourish, it Must Return to Sound Doctrine, Pt. 1: Knowing God
In the American Church, there exists a massive quandary, in that many people who profess to be Followers of Christ are not, in fact, Followers of Christ.
Who are they? They are followers of their own heart, haters of God, and lovers of that which is evil, who have bought into a version of Christianity, where the truth of Scripture has been diluted by worldly philosophy, and the whims of self are uplifted over the glorification of God. Contrary to the dictates of Corinthians 5:9, their ambition is not “to be pleasing to Him,” but to fill the void in their heart with a type of Christ befitting the gratification of sinful desire.
The essentials of the Gospel are no longer commonplace in Evangelical circles. Instead of calls for self-denial, self-fulfilment is elevated to the chief imperative. Mankind is considered basically good, while God is indifferent to sin. Identity is found not in Christ, but in one's personal standing, outward beauty, or ethnicity. The condemnation or calling out of various sins and doctrinal error within the Church is generally deemed divisive and unloving.
An Overview of American Christianity
In Ligonier Ministries' State of Theology survey, completed in early March 2020, 30% of adult evangelical respondents agreed that Jesus Christ was a 'great teacher,' but not God, with only 66% expressing disagreement. Meanwhile, 46% concurred with the statement that 'everyone sins a little, but most people are good in nature.' Likewise, 42% conceded that 'God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.'
The results of a survey initially taken in January 2020, issued later by the Christian Post, further corroborate these findings, and serve as a damning indictment of the current state of American Christianity:
“...nearly two-thirds of Americans believe that having some kind of faith is more important than the particular faith with which someone aligns. Sixty-eight percent who embrace that notion identify as Christians, including 56% of self-described evangelicals and 62% of those who identify as Pentecostals. Sixty-seven percent of mainline Protestants and 77% of Catholics also embraced that idea, the findings show.
“Slightly over half of Christian respondents said they believe someone can attain salvation by "being or doing good," a figure that includes, 46% of Pentecostals, 44% of mainline Protestants, 41% of evangelicals, and 70% of Catholics.
“In addition to the viewpoint that eternal salvation can be earned, survey results show that 58% of Americans believe that no absolute moral truth exists and that the basis of truth are factors or sources other than God. Seventy-seven percent said that right and wrong is determined by factors other than the Bible. Fifty-nine percent said that the Bible is not God's authoritative and true Word and 69% said people are basically good.”
It was Martin Luther, who once said, “If you see yourself as a little sinner, you will inevitably see Jesus as a little saviour,” and this accurately and succinctly sums up much of American Christianity today. For a great number of churchgoers, the act of following Christ till kingdom come means going to Church on Sunday, listening to Christian artists, wearing Christian tee-shirts and hats and necklaces, generally “being a good person,” and maybe reading their Bible every other week.
But that is not Christianity. That is a loveless adherence to dead religion.
False Gods And Right Knowledge
What this nation needs now more than ever is a right understanding of God’s character. So very many have been deceived and thus led astray from the narrow path; for few are they who are willing to stand firm and upright, and with great boldness, proclaim the attributes of the Creator in all their majesty and high glory.
Alas! The edict of Proverbs 2, where the knowledge and the fear of God are described as the summit of all sound wisdom, has been hurled to the wayside and cast down in ruin upon the hearts of unbelieving men.
For far too many, Jesus is simply a figure from the pages of their colouring books in Sunday school, a tolerant being who turns a blind eye to sin, and a best friend—but not their Lord. For far too long, men have been shopped a watered-down, truncated, man-exalting god, which is beautiful in their eyes, because they love their sin and this god they have created is wrought solely of the fruit of their heart.
And as a direct consequence, many of those who sit within the pews of America’s churches, know next to nothing of who God is, and who they are, in light of God’s character.
If we, as Americans, are to return in faithful obedience to the God of our forefathers, there must either be a complete reformation of evangelical doctrine, or widespread persecution of the Christian faith.
It’s time to get our boots on the ground. The Saints cry out for a holy revival. Around the globe, God-fearing men and women must rise up in defiance of the current world system, and proclaim Christ and Christ alone to the nations. They must not seek the favour of fallen, idolatrous men, but rather that the name of Jesus Christ and Him crucified might be heard throughout all the world and earth and sky and heavens.
Yea, they must seek to know Him in all His aspects; for only then can they come to a right and proper estimation of themselves, and thus come to full understanding of what the Gospel of Jesus Christ is ultimately all about; for one cannot even begin to comprehend the problem of man, and the need for a Gospel if such a person has not first been enlightened as to God’s attributes and character.
You Must Know Who God Is
With this at the forefront of all our thought, who then is God? He is the God, whose “eyes are too pure to approve evil,” indeed, the One who “cannot look on wickedness with favour.” (Has. 1:13) There is none like Him in all the world, and He is “majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders.” (Exodus 15:11)
In the very beginning, Scripture clearly attributes the creation of earth and heaven to God alone. (Genesis 1:1) According to John 1:3, “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”
Moreover, not only has God wrought everything in accordance with His own perfect will and, therefore, owns all as is His due right (Ps. 24:1), but He is perfect, just, and holy. John the Apostle explicitly tells us that “God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)
One of Christ’s singular decrees was the summation of the Ten Commandments given to Moses in the Book of Exodus, wherein He called all men to be perfect as God Himself is perfect (Matthew 5:48). In short summary, the standard is absolute perfection, which is rendered through complete obedience to the Law. Indeed, as Paul reminds us, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all the things written in the book of the Law to do them.” Lawlessness is sin (1 John 3:4), and “whoever keeps the whole Law, yet stumbles in one point, has become guilty of all.” (James 2:10)
Being Himself perfect, and holy, and righteous, and just, God is “a righteous judge and a God who has indignation every day.” (Ps. 7:11) He hates all workers of iniquity and “abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit,” (Ps. 5:5,6) and therefore, as the singular epitome of all that is good in this world, He must judge evil.
“Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne,” sings the Psalmist (Ps. 89:14), and “…He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17.31) This man, of course, is Jesus Christ, and “we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10)
This Is Our Great God
This, then, is God. He is holy, righteous, perfect, angry with the wicked every day, and the just Judge of the universe. The fact that God is love (1 John 4:8), gracious and compassionate (2 Chronicles 30:9), slow to anger (Joel 2:13), and merciful (Luke 6:36) does not at all nullify and or invalidate these other attributes. Furthermore, if this is a God you cannot be moved to accept and to love, then your god is not the God of the Bible, and your worship is the worship of a graven image, no different than the Golden Calf.
“A god who is all love, all grace, all mercy, no sovereignty, no justice, no holiness, and no wrath,” affirms the late R.C. Sproul, “is an idol.”
If your God is such a god, you do not know God, you do not love God, and you are not a Christian. If you do not know God, you cannot know the severity of your state and who you truly are in the eyes of God. If you do not love God, you can only love yourself. And if you are not a Christian, then the only thing that awaits you is the fierce wrath of almighty God, fully manifested in the inescapable doom of eternal torment within the lake of fire.
Having laid the whole matter before you as revealed through the written Word, I must be permitted to challenge you this: search out the Scriptures to rightly know this God you say you love. Diligently study His Word and meditate upon its inexhaustible truths through unceasing prayer. Leave no stone unturned!
For, indeed, there are many who will readily pronounce their devotion to Jesus; but upon showing them the Christ of the Bible through close and careful examination of the Scriptures, such persons will quickly turn about and say something along the lines of, “That’s not the Jesus I know,” or “Such a God I could not ever love!”
Why is that? Because they have created an image in their hearts, wrought to sate their own sinful desires and lusts, and they’ve cherrypicked a few attributes from the true Christ, twisted them, and put the name of Jesus to it.
But lest anyone be deceived, rest assured: that is not the risen Saviour. The principles and truths laid out to us in Scripture make this irrefutably clear. You cannot separate God from His attributes, no matter how uncomfortable or self-conscious they make you feel. It is impossible to be a Follower of Christ and say “God is love,” but then refuse to believe God is jealous, or wrathful, or holy. If God is not jealous, or wrathful, or holy, then He cannot be God, and the Saviour’s sacrifice is rendered a vain thing. And if He is not God, and Christ died needlessly, then your faith is founded upon sand and wholly without worth.
In the same vein, missionary Paul David Washer expounds upon these unfailing truths with this famous saying: “When I preach in universities, they're always quick to point out, ‘No, God cannot hate because God is love.’ And I tell you God must hate because God is love. You see, I love children, therefore, I hate abortion. If I love that which is holy, I must hate that which is unholy. God is a holy God. That's something that the Americans have forgotten. Many of the things you love to do, God hates.”
It is a true statement, that God, possessing as He does, the attributes of love and hate, compassion and anger, mercy and holiness, cannot possibly make for a living contradiction. Rather, if anything, men are the foremost contradictors: the hypocrites who speak of love and give consideration only to the self, those who achieve in the providence of God some miraculous feat, but instead exalt themselves, they who condemn instances of evil, but inwardly blaspheme and lust and spew and disparage every hour and minute of the day.
Contradiction, you say? Be silent, and speak no more with authority, unless what you have to say be founded upon the unshakable Scriptures! God is God, and He is good; those who dare to trample and trespass upon the divine and immutable attributes of the Chief Sustainer of all life, remove themselves to the arrogance of the self-righteous hypocrite, and that, Dear Sir, is the height of foolishness.
But as for God, holy and just, these distinctions, perfect in nature and essence, magnify and extol their beloved brethren to unattainable heights. Know Him and love Him, or condemn yourself to His everlasting wrath!
This is God. And this is His world. Everything in it is for His glory.
The Seeds of Revival
Revival starts in the everyday. It starts in the home and the local Church. It starts with a return to Biblical principles and sound doctrine. And yet, in the most ultimate sense, such a reformation can only ever be achieved through the steadfast preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. “If we want revivals,” rightly proclaimed Spurgeon, that famous minister, “we must revive our reverence for the Word of God.”
We must revive it, indeed. We must return swiftly to the essentials, to the very basics, as it were, the fundamentals of the faith, and establish them firmly, again and again, within the congregated assemblies—not because men are incapable of comprehending anything beyond that, but because so very many have forgotten, or have never once had the rudimentary elements down in the first place!
And furthermore, it ought also to be remembered that the truest revival is not a singular event in which some extra-biblical manifestation occurs, but hearts bent in utter servitude and submission to the truths of Scripture: hearts, yea, hearts overwrought by the deficiencies of self; hearts that cannot hear enough of Calvary without being moved to worship God with the greatest fear and esteem; hearts that seek after God, His Kingdom, and His righteousness—desiring above all else the knowledge of Him and what He has commanded.
It’s time to get our boots on the ground and let the Light of Christ shine unhindered in the ravaging dark. Stand now, you who are called of God! Our task is at hand; the race is set before us; let the glories of the Gospel be preached, and may the truths of Scripture once again sound loudly within the streets like of old, so as to meet the lies of a godless culture in glorious array!