Just musing on the future . . .
I am a pastor - and one who holds ultimate value in the Word of God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ in my life. As such I cannot compromise how I teach God's Word to fit how my culture views what God calls sin. I also cannot adopt how many in the church are altering the message of the Gospel to fit our culture's sexual revolution. (Just a note - that revolution began in the 60's when heterosexual immorality was embraced - not just in the 2000's with the most recent downward step into homosexual marriage and its legalization last summer by the courts). This places me squarely in the sites of those who at one time said all they wanted was tolerance - but who now have made it clear that they will not tolerate God's revelation on these matters.
I am writing this now because the day will come when such things cannot be spoken or written without censure, severe fines, and eventually arrest. That is where our culture is going - that is where our nation is going - and that is what I am viewing at present in my mind's eye. I am neither a prophet nor a son of a prophet. But I am a student of history - both secular and biblical. Therefore here is what I see as I muse on the future.
We are already living in a day when they will not put up with sound doctrine - but will gather to themselves teachers according to their own lusts. This will grow steadily worse - to the point where sexual immorality (especially "living together" and homosexuality) will rarely be mentioned. It will all be about love and tolerance and acceptance. There will be little mention of sin and how God points out exactly what sin is - and how He responds to it. Judgment will be a dirty word. In many ways the apostate church will be a tool in the hand of the enemy to attack the remnant on these matters. The statement will be something like this. "We need reasonable churches - not ones that dogmatically judge everyone according to 'their interpretation' of what the Bible means." This will be a rallying cry to shut down free speech not only in the public sector - but even within the walls of church itself.
There will be a growing list of laws that hem in Biblical believers so that they cannot express their views in public. Those that do will find themselves facing the wrath of a legal system that no longer protects religious freedom when it comes to holding Biblical beliefs dealing with sin. There will be fines, re-education, and for those who continue to resist arrests. Businesses will be forced to conform to a "way of doing business" that is inclusive, except for how they treat biblical believers.
Churches will be facing several changes that will soon be coming to us via the courts. There will be challenges to freedom of religion as the state forces itself into situations where the need for "thought conformity" is necessary. This will lead to first the church being told it can only preach within its walls - that internet access can be denied on the basis of hate speech (i.e. saying heterosexual and homosexual sin is wrong, gender is something assigned by God at birth). The air waves will slowly be shut down to churches as well, based on these same things. There will also be challenges to the tax exempt status of churches and gifts to them. Eventually tax exempt status and tax deductions for gifts will be either restricted (to government accepted churches) or done away with all together. The state will hold title to all benevolent giving - which will be based on their accepted guidelines (which will be politically motivated and doled out as reward for conformity to the state agenda). Eventually the psychiatric community will join the state in condemning outright those who hold to sexual immorality being sin. This will be seen as a mental disorder - making the way for some to be institutionalized for their beliefs. Pastor's sermons will become subject to law suits - if they are deemed by the state courts to contain the new definitions of hate speech. This will lead to bankruptcy for some churches - while others will accept court rulings to either fire their pastor or face serious fines and government backlash. Pastors who preach such things will be sent off to prison for "speech violations" or for re-education in some sort of internment camp. Many godly men will be detained, arrested, and will disappear in these situations.
The true church will go underground in America. Facing these things - facing the loss of their leader(s) - facing the loss of their facilities - and facing the specter of losing their freedom - many will show their true colors and become apostate. They will either flock to government sanctioned churches - or will leave the things of God altogether. The church will shrink back to a size that matches those who are truly born again. It will seem sad and discouraging - but it will be a much godlier church - given to intercessory prayer - and willing to suffer for Christ any cost. There will be a brokenness that will prevail with the true remnant - and will lead to churches underground who glorify God in all they do. Many will risk gave danger to witness to others of the gospel - but oh what a glorious church it will be!
Some may think I've lost my mind saying such things. Others may criticize for this sounding so defeatist. But I would only remind them that what I've described here is what has happened in the communist countries of the Soviet Union (now Russia), China, countries behind the former Iron and Bamboo curtain, and now is happening slowly in Europe and Canada. These countries are further down the road to Socialism than we are presently - but we seem to be gaining steam (Ominously so with the candidacy and success of Bernie Sanders at present). This actually is not any kind of prophecy - it is a history lesson. It is one that is NOT being taught to our children, because we've forgotten what sacrifices were made on our behalf to fight Communism and Socialism. As far as "negativism" or "defeatist" rhetoric - I can only answer that any true rallying cry needs to first swallow a cup full of realism first. I am about to issue a rallying cry - but it is one that will most likely be rejected - as it was throughout history - both biblical and secular.
Church awake! These are not days in which we should falter or get lost in the midst of what is going on around us. These are days much like those Paul spoke of when he said this in Romans 13:11-14,
"And this do, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts." (NASB77)
Repent and return to Jesus Christ precious saints. The day is late - very late in our nation. The stakes are enormously high in an hour in which we must prepare our hearts to be "strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might." This should not shock us that the world hates us - because it hated Him and still does. It is a day to remember the height from which we have fallen, repent, and do the first works again. Works of seeking God's face - confession of sin - submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ - humbling ourselves and praying - and seeing our first love restored so that there is nothing - ABSOLUTELY NOTHING more precious to us than the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to remember that our battle is not against flesh and blood so violence is to be repudiated in our cause. We are to return to a white hot love for Jesus - a white hot love for one another in the church. We are to return to holiness, mortification of sin (our own), and a selfless, self-giving, gospel-centered, gospel-proclaiming life lived for the glory of God in all things.
Saints - I am in the same place as all of you. Such things shake me and cause me to tremble. May it be that we tremble in fear of God and not in fear of man. May it be that our trembling and fear bring us back to Him - back to seeking, loving, and knowing Him as the greatest of all things in our lives. I dearly love all of you and only hope to be found, along with you, faithful to Him in this hour. May God have mercy on the church in the United States. - PJ -