I was reminded of the present condition of our country in the spiritual realm, a couple of days ago, when I was interacting with some young people about the Gospel.
I was very saddened because I could tell that these young adults did not have a clue of what the Gospel was, nor did they know anything about the 'fear of the Lord'. They mocked God and laughed at the Scriptural points I was making. They truly did not fear God in any way, shape, or form. What went wrong? When did it go wrong?
What went wrong had been what was going on wrong since the middle of the 19th century. The church somehow lost its hold on the Gospel message and the main focus of the church was diminished. It is hard to say when things happened, or whether things happened suddenly or over a long period of time. Or both.
For example, according to what I learned in Biblical counseling, during the mid 1800s, the church began refusing to help those who were disturbed mentally. Eventually, the world created psychology and psychiatry because of that. Those who needed help in the world, never got it from the church. The church has always been the institution for helping people who needed counsel until that point.
During this time period, the church was made up of rich people, middle class people, and the poor. Many who were poor got sick. Those who were wealthy and able to take better care of their bodies rejected those who were sick by saying that the cause of their sickness was due to sin in their lives. No wonder the church has gotten a bad name. Those who were poor were the ones who were sick more often then those who were able to buy good, nourishing food and have proper medicine when needed.
During the turn of the century, the beginning of the 20th century, according to Ray Comfort, the church began watering down the message of the Gospel. This was probably done in order to allow the number of church members to grow. The message of the Gospel, in it's hardness to receive, was being renovated to accommodate those in the world and bring them in.
Today, we have a rash of preachers trying to make the Scriptures applicable and practical for everyone to have and use for whatever the need may be. That way, everyone can use the Scriptures, not just those who know the Lord. We can have our best lives now. We can be winners in this life. Basically, what we can do is form God into an idol, and if we learn how to push the right buttons, God will give us what we want.
Is it any wonder that people think the Bible is a book of fairy tales? There is no conviction of sin, nor is there any power from God in many of the false gospels we have being taught to us today.
There are two big errors today in modern Christian thinking. One is, that a person can believe in Jesus, have all their sins forgiven, and do whatever they want to do. Could this be a reaction to the traditional, legalistic professing Christians we have today? The other error is that of believing we are really able to be good enough to receive eternal life. All we have to do is be intentional and we can do it. I think this is the message that the Pope tried to bring to us. The big problem with this is really simple to understand. None of us is capable of being good enough before God. We are all way too selfish. We all have some good points here and there and we focus on those, but we forget how far away from God we really are, and how sinful and selfish we are.
In order for people to see the Gospel, and ultimately want to respond to God, there must be both a demonstration of the Gospel and a declaration of the Gospel. Those who preach the Gospel need to be effected by the Gospel themselves. Many do have a demonstration of the Gospel, but never give a declaration of it, while others seem to be declaring it, but their lives show very little, if any, evidence of a powerful God who has saved them.
So, it begins with us being changed by God's power, and then declaring to others what God has done for us. That opens the door for sharing the Gospel. When we are all sharing the Gospel, the effects of that action will change the hearts of many, and I believe it would even change the spiritual landscape of our country. We can only give away what we have received? And if we have received from God spiritually, we should be giving that away to others.
"For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God." 1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." Romans 1:16 ESV