Spiritually we are in a
shocking condition. The status of many local fellowships is bad news,
and deteriorating by the minute.
It is fairly well known that there
have been scandalous cases of immorality involving even elders and
full-time workers. Of course this type of news never gets into the
magazines; there everything is sweetness and light. But the awful truth
is that some respected spiritual leaders have fallen into gross sin in
recent months and the only reaction seems to have been to hush up the
whole thing, lest the word get out and our reputation be impaired.
have been arrogant, and have not rather mourned (I Cor. 5:2).
isn’t all. We have become materialists to the core. Supposing that gain
is godliness, we have degraded ourselves to the worship of money.
have become more proud of the number of successful businessmen in our
churches than of the number of men of God. The dollar has become our
master. The claims of the businessworld have been given more place than
the claims of Christ. The corporation counts more with us than the
Church. Our condemnation is found in the words of Samuel Johnson, “The
lust of gold, unfeeling and remorseless, is the last corruption of
We have become a status-seeking people. We sacrifice
everything for prestige jobs, prestige homes and prestige cars. And we
have prestige ambitions for our children.
Truth is that in our mad
desire to see them successful and comfortable in the world, we are
causing many of them to pass through the fire in this life and to
suffer the pains of hell in the next.
Too often we are living double
lives. Outwardly there is an appearance of piety and respectability.
But in business there are bribery, shady deals, dishonesty and
numberless forms of compromise. And in our personal lives there are
coldness, bitterness, strife gossip, back-biting and impurity. We are
living a lie.
Many of our children have been involved in hard drugs,
liquor, free love and sex-perversion. To say nothing of the many others
who have become rebels and apostates. We have lived to see the fruit of
our permissiveness and indulgence. But are we broken before the Lord?
We have become thoroughly worldly, living for the love of passing
things. We have been enraptured victims of the idiot tube, and lovers
of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Most willingly have we been
poured into the mold of the world, its fashions, amusements and ideals.
The sin of prayerlessness has been all too apparent. In our abounding
wealth and self-sufficiency, we have not had any strong inward
necessity driving us to prayer. Many of our prayer meetings need
And finally there is our pride and impenitence. Rather
than admit our low spiritual conditions, we endeavor to hide sin, to
sweep it under the carpet where no one can see it. After all, we muse,
time heals all things.
But does it? Are we getting away with it? Or are
we reaping the fruit of our backsliding in more ways than we care to
What about the broken homes, the divorces, the separations? What
about the tears of heartbroken parents and children that cover the
Lord’s Table each Sunday morning? (See Malachi 2:13).
When will we
realize that God is speaking to us through sickness and tragedy? It is
true that there is always a certain amount of sickness, sorrow and
accidents. But when they come in unusual volume, and under most unusual
circumstances, we should not be insensible to the fact that the Lord is
trying to get through to us.
Think of the number of believers who are
spending small fortunes in psychiatric treatment. Once again we grant
that a certain amount of such cases are to be expected. But when the
trickle becomes a flood-tide, it might just be that God is saying
something to us.
There are other results of our departure from God.
Many of our children hate their parents, and wish they were a million
miles from home. The heavens are brass above our heads our canned
prayers never seem to get through. God has punctured our bags with
holes; we work, and scrimp and save, but never seem to get off the
treadmill. Because we wouldn’t tithe to the Lord, we tithe to the
doctor, the dentist, and the garage mechanic.
We are suffering a famine
of the Word of God. The ministry lacks unction. Too often it is a
rehash of the obvious. How seldom in meetings are we conscious that the
Spirit of God has spoken to us in power? We live on a diet of pablum.
And don’t put all the blame on the preachers!
The worship meetings are
often dead. Dull, awkward pauses are the fruit of prolonged occupation
with the never-never land of TV. The evangelistic meetings are an
exercise in futility – fishing in a bathtub where there are no fish.
Years pass without the conversion of one single person.
If we cannot
see that God is dealing with us in all these judgments, what more can
He do to wake us up? We are like the people in Isaiah 1, beaten from
head to foot, yet still too dull, too obtuse to realize that God is
"Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of
evil doers, sons who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord, they
have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged.
will you still be smitten that you continue to rebel? The whole head is
sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even to the
head, there is no soundness in it, but bruises and sores and bleeding
wounds; they are not pressed out, or bound up, or softened with oil.
Your country lies desolate, your cities are burned with fire; in your
very presence aliens devour your land; it is desolate, as overthrown by
"And the daughter of Zion is left like a booth in a vineyard,
like a lodge in a cucumber field, like a besieged city" (Isaiah 1:4-8
We need some prophet, some man of God to lead us to repentance! That is the need of the hour—
TO REPENT –
to break at the foot of the Cross and sob out the confession so hard to
come by, “We have sinned.”
We need to repent in our individual lives to
confess and forsake the sins that have brought us into this place of
spiritual barrenness. We need to make right personal feuds and
animosities, asking forgiveness from those we have wronged.
And we need
to repent as assemblies of God’s people. Never in the memory of most of
us has a meeting been called for the express purpose of repentance. And
seldom in any of our meetings has confession ever been mentioned. But
we need to do it. We desperately need to do it.
The time has come, O
for spiritual leadership that will bring us to our knees quickly before
we are consumed by God’s awful wrath! We need to eat the sin offering
like Daniel, making the sins of others our own (Dan. 9:5). We need to
lay hold of God’s promise in
II Chron. 7:14,
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and
seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from
Heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
It is time to
seek the Lord. He is calling us, through the voice of Hosea:
Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your
iniquity. Take with you words and return to the Lord; say to him, “Take
away all iniquity; accept that which is good and we will render the
fruit of our lips.” (Hosea 14:1,2
have been a proud people, boasting in our heritage of renowned
evangelists and Bible teachers. We have claimed a special corner on
scriptural knowledge and on church order. We have looked down our
theological noses at other believers. Now the Lord has stained our
pride. If we only knew it, our halo is shattered.
There is only one
hope! “In returning and rest you shall be saved” (Isa. 30:1-5) The way
to renewal and revival is to confess the awful truth about ourselves,
to make right the wrongs of the past, to forsake our sins, and to get
desperate with God about a perishing world and a powerless Church.