The Future of America--A Call to Revival, Part 2
Standing at the Crossroads
There’s not a one of us who hasn’t sung at some time or other, “God bless America, land that I love.” We live in a nation where the air is full of sunlight, and the flag is full of stars, as the poet said. Yet, we have come to a place where America is at a crossroads, and the choices that we make these very days will have so much to do with the day to come. When we think of America in the past, we think of the impact made upon this great nation, by a sense of destiny, the truth of the Gospel, and a concern for individuals. It has been absolutely marvelous. Again we say, “God bless America.”
But now, we have come to a point where the future is in question. New developments in America have changed this great land of ours, and so we say once again that spiritual revivalreal revivalmust come to pass in America. If not, the future for us will not be filled with the blessings we have enjoyed in days gone by. In fact, so interesting is the condition of America today, that people are asking as never before“Where does America fit in Bible prophecy? What will be the state of this nation as we move to the end of the age?”
The argument for the survival of the United States into the extended future is not a strong one in Scripture, but it can be made. It really depends upon our reaction to the spiritual challenge which now lies before us.
In discussing America at the Crossroads, I thought that it would be helpful for us to evaluate our condition, by dividing it into three questions.
What is the Role of Government?
What is government really supposed to do? Up until now, we had just assumed that we had the right answer to this question. But recently, we have had startling new influences come upon America, which have changed the assumptions that we have about government. What is government, and what is it supposed to do? Is the fact that we have given the wrong answer to this question, part of the problem that we see in America today? Yes. Listen to what the Bible says about government.
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1).
The nations of the world have something to do with divine providence. We are here because God ordained the nations to be. Then, speaking about the ruler of a nation, the Bible says: “For he is the minister of God to you for good. But if you do that which is evil, be afraid; for he bears not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, an avenger to execute wrath upon him that does evil” (Romans 13:4).
The purpose of government has something to do with good and evil. It is supposed to enhance good. It is to congratulate those who do good. It is to be the enemy of those that do evil.
While that was common knowledge in days gone by, I fear that it’s hardly believed in America today. Rather, due to the influence of a number of things, such as Keynesian economics, the time has come in which we say, “The government is god. The government is the ultimate divider, the ultimate decider, and the ultimate everything. The government presides above our lives. The final authority for everything, and the final responsibility to do everything, lies in the hands of government.” The idea of a beneficent government, like a cornucopia, pouring out riches and wealth upon our lives, whether we deserve it or not, has become paramount in America. Nothing could be more debilitating, or could put a government in a more dangerous position, than to have people believe that! If you expect the government to supply all your needs, and then it doesn’t, because it can’t, then you become angry at government. When enough people become upset with government, it can promote ! a bloody revolution, destroying the greater capability of a land like America.
To define the government correctly, therefore, is very important. The government is supposed to be the referee. It is supposed to discern that which is good, and that which is evil, and make the announcement as to what is good and commendable, and what is not.
However, when you have amoral people running the government, who say, “Nothing is good; nothing is bad; up isn’t up anymore; right isn’t right anymore” then anything goes! The existential idea that anything goes has been the ruin of many a noble culture, and it is taking control of America today.
Look, dear friend, how can we say it more strongly? Your government and your future are being destroyed, because we have lost our attention to the Word of God, and we have allowed an amoral government to define itself. We have allowed people devoid of spiritual discernment to have the great say about what the government does. As a result, we are moving into a condition that borders on the desperate.
That can be illustrated in many ways. For instance, one of the things the government tells us it is supposed to do now, is to take care of everyone. So we have a welfare program. Welfare was meant to be a way in which the people at the bottom of the heap survived, which was a noble thought. But now it has become a supply to our major cities; it keeps the decaying and violent urban culture going.
Welfare was originally supposed to help people in such a way, that it would no longer be needed in days to come. Not anymore. Rather, welfare becomes a self-feeding situation. Just the cost from that, from which there is no real return yielded except for lives enslaved to the dole and votes for liberal government, is so overwhelming that it alone could be the ruin of a nation.
“The government is god”that’s the philosophy of John Maynard Keynes, the existentialists, and the liberals of today. Is it true? No! If it continues, it will bring down our government before all is done. Government must have a spiritual component. It must be able to tell the difference between good and evil. That component comes from you. You have got to be the fountainhead of that discernment, that attention to the truth, that can vouchsafe the government in days to come. What, then, is the part the Church is supposed to play?
How Does the Church Relate?
There is an entity within the social structure that can be a powerful influence indeed. That entity is the Church, the Body of Christ. Believing Christians are called upon to have a very decisive influence in the world. The Bible says about believers:
“You are the salt of the earth... You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:13-14).
Christ is referring to that entity of believers, the Church. How does the Church relate to government? We have a popular philosophy going in the world today that says there should be separation between Church and state. They carry that idea to the extreme, concluding that it means the state should not be influenced at all by the moral view of the Church, which is the Body of Christ. Nothing could be further from the truth!
The Constitution says that the government “shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion, or inhibiting the free exercise thereof.” What that really means is, there isn’t supposed to be a state church. The people who said, “no state church,” were very wise, perceptive Christians. The state backing a religious design that somebody calls a church, like the Church of England, or the Church of Denmark, is not biblical. A human institution is no more the Church than is the man in the moon. The framers of the Constitution feared a government-backed religious institution, because they knew it would exercise, finally, coercive force upon the individual.
Rather, we must have with a nation, not a church controlled BY the state, but a church which is a powerful influence UPON the state. The Church should become a great beacon for the state to observe, so that the state will know the difference between right and wrong.
Carl Henry, a theologian, said that if the state is one day going to be judged by the laws of God (judged according to what the Bible says it is supposed to be), then it behooves the Church to make clear those rules, so that the state will understand the rules by which it will one day be judged. I believe that to be true. Therefore, the Church should influence the state, not because it coerces the state in any way, but because it has a majestic mind and a deep spiritual awareness. The Church should be able to give spiritual interpretations to the concerns of the state, so that government will look on and say, “Yes, that is true. That is the standard which we must follow.”
It occurs to me that we need to discuss what the Church must be in a world like this. The Church should have such a knowledge of the Word of God, such spiritual discernment, that it can talk about anything that is a matter of public policy: abortion, euthanasia, homosexuality, welfare, or any of the issues that are going on in our particular time.
We need men who will speak with such irrefutable intelligence, as was the case in colonial America, that nobody can stand in their way. That kind of an influence, from a spiritual entity called the Church, could make a remarkable difference in America today. When the Church speaks through the words of these individuals, who are in touch with God, and who know what the Bible says, it will speak irrevocably and inexorably. Everyone will have to listen. They said about Christ during his earthly ministry:
“Never man spoke like this man” (John 7:46).
No one is able to influence our minds, our hearts, our spirits, like this Man, Jesus Christ. Well, Christ said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12), but before His earthly ministry was done, He added, “You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14).
“If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God” (I Peter 4:11).
How does the Church relate to the role of government? The Church is an instructor. The Church is a source of knowledge. The Church should have something better to say, than George Washington, or Thomas Jefferson, or anybody like that. These were mere human beings. But the Church can speak as a divine entity, intellectually motivated by the presence of Jesus Christ. The influence of the Church within a state, within a government, should be one that is valuable beyond estimation.
What Can You Do?
“All right,” someone says, “I’ve heard these things. What can I do?” The answer is “Plenty.” To each one who has ever dreamt of the possibilities that would come from living a life properly related to Jesus Christ, the Bible promises Christ is:
“able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20).
What can I do as an individual, that might be the keystone of a spiritual revival that could sweep the nation? The Bible teaches that one solitary person, concerned about a Church that is decadent, concerned about a spiritual establishment which is going nowhere, can exercise a profound influence! That is exactly what Jesus Christ meant, in His message to the church at Laodicea:
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20).
Jesus was talking about a church that had lost its vision, and its spiritual temperature, and made the Lord literally sick to look at it. This church said:
“I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing” (Revelation 3:17).
But it was accused by Jesus of being:
“wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17).
That church is prophetic of the church at the end of the age. Finally, Christ finished that revelation by saying, “Here I am knocking. Here I am waiting. I would like to take over the church once again. I would like the church to move with impact upon the world once again.” So He said, “If any man will hear that knock, and open the door, I will come in, and I will be the altering force within the life of that church.”
I used to travel all the time, preaching in churches and evangelistic campaigns. I have seen many churches experience spiritual revival, due to the prayers of one person. I recall one church in a city in the Middle West. We had a tremendous revival. In the Sunday morning services when the meetings were supposed to close, we had more than 50 people respond to the invitation to receive Christ or to commit their lives to Him. We continued those meetings for another week, and every single night saw crowds coming in from everywhere. It was a beautiful thing to see. And it all happened because a very few people said, “Dear God, don’t let our church die! Turn it into something that can move this community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Practically everything great going in the world today has been started by an individualnot a committee, not a group or somethingan individual who says, “Here’s a life that wants to count for Christ.” Then, look for God to produce the great adventure.
From the writings of Dave Breese
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