The general state of Christianity in America has been the concern of my heart for a great many years now. While there are widespread signs of renewed "spirituality" throughout our land and a great number are turning their interests to religious matters, I am deeply burdened that the quality of what they are being offered falls far short of the New Testament standard of discipleship to Christ Jesus.
We seem to have embarked on a course in which the claims of Christ are no longer being presented to those who would take upon themselves His Banner. Regardless of whether this is being done deliberately, or through a woeful ignorance among those called to represent Him before men, the result is nevertheless the same; multitudes are taking upon themselves the profession of faith in Christ without understanding the God to whose kingdom they claim to belong.
Our age bears an uncanny, almost eerie familiarity to the age in which the prophets Hosea and Jeremiah commenced their ministries so many years ago. There, in the midst of a group of people who professed allegiance to Jehovah, who were engaged in a great deal of religious activity, came the charges from the two prophets of God:
"Listen to the word of the Lord, O sons of Israel, for the Lord has a controversy against the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth or loyalty or knowledge of God in the land." (Hosea 4:1)
"For My people are foolish, they know me not" (Jer 4:22)
" those who handle the law did not know me" (Jer 2:8)
The charge came down to this; the people of the Lord did not know or understand Him to whom they claimed to belong. Oh they claimed to know who He was, but the truth of the matter was that they did not genuinely understand His nature or character. He had been misrepresented to His own people by those who claimed to speak for Him. It is this inaccurate vision of the person and nature of God which ultimately led to a degenerate form of Judaism.
It is my firm conviction that this is exactly what is happening all over again in much of today's American Christianity. The majority of those who bear the name of Christ simply do not know who He is nor do they understand His ways. If eternal life consists in knowing God and His Son Jesus Christ (John 17:3), then it is absolutely vital to make certain that our knowledge of Him is based upon the entirety of His character as revealed in the Scriptures. As the Lord said through Jeremiah so many years ago:
"Thus says the Lord, 'Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,' declares the Lord" (Jer 9:23-24).
Here we have an accurate portrayal of the Lord's nature: absolute righteousness, perfect justice, beautifully completed by rich mercy. It is only as we come to know this great God in truth that we can be conformed to His image. This is where the focus of this church work will be placed. Our purpose will be to teach and preach the whole counsel of God so that God may be truly known among His people in the beauty of His holiness and the vastness of His love. My belief is that all the true people of God have a deep hunger, a yearning, to know their Lord in a more intimate manner. They long to behold Him who gave Himself up for them. Our desire will be to raise up a work where this hunger may be satisfied. Here we intend to set forth the works and the ways of the Lord so that the people whom He has chosen from the foundation of the earth may come to admire and stand in awe of Him who sits above the vault of the earth. In so doing our prayer is that the statement of the psalmist may truly come to pass in our midst:
"God is known in Judah, His name is great in Israel" (Psalm 76:1).
Furthermore, we live in an age in which the term "salvation" has as many different meanings as persons spoken to. My conviction is that many who bear the name of Christ do not understand the nature of genuine conversion. It is essential that we do not err on this point. If a man is justified by faith, he must be made to understand exactly what he is "saved" from and exactly what he is "saved" to. In addition, he must understand the nature of this faith that justifies him. I am not a legalist and in no way can the works of any man justify him before God or earn him a title to heaven, but a faith without works is a useless thing and will never bring anyone to glory. A faith that fails to produce a holy life or purify the heart (Acts 15:9) will in the final analysis prove to be nothing but a fatal delusion. These things we intend to preach and teach so that those who profess to know Christ may examine themselves to see whether that which they possess is genuine or not.
My heart is to reach with this truth as many as the Lord will see fit to enable us to. I believe that the majority of the American church is asleep, its pastors having been lulled into a false sense of security by the relative time of peace and safety in which we find ourselves. I believe that the church has lost its moorings and is adrift on the sea of this world's culture. Only by a restoration of solid Biblical exposition of the great truths of Scripture, will it ever be able to recover itself and prove to indeed be the salt of the earth. What is desperately needed is for God to move in genuine revival in the land, but it is my firm conviction that this will not come about until we first have a reformation. Truth, all of it, not just select portions of it, must be proclaimed in the pulpits if ever men are to feel their need of Christ and their own sinfulness. Only then will men see their "sickness" and thence seek the great Physician who is able and willing to heal their souls.
Ever mindful of the great commission to extend the kingdom of Christ our Lord, it will be our purpose to be involved in mission activity wherever the Lord may direct our steps. We must be careful to avoid closing in on ourselves and losing sight of the necessity to reach out to those for whom Christ our Lord has bled and died. The gospel is the word of life and cannot remain hidden if men are to be rescued out of the kingdom of Satan and delivered from his tyranny. Its joyful sound must reach the ears of the captives as it has reached ours declaring to them their freedom from the guilt and defilement of sin. It is my conviction that the Lord still has many of His people who need to be reached with this precious treasure that He has entrusted to us. The hour is late and so we must work while it is still the day. The night is coming when no man can work. Therefore, we intend to devote our resources to this work as well. Having said this, we must make sure that the gospel message we deliver and support remains pure and unadulterated. It is that which we are to guard and preserve and contend for if it is to be of any saving use to the sons of men.
My prayer is that the Lord Jesus will find us faithful to His directive when He comes and that we will be a people looking for and hastening the great day of God. May we be a people in whose heart is the cry, "Marantha", "Come Lord Jesus". Even so, come quickly. Amen.
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