JOEL OSTEEN: THE EPITOME OF THE EASINESS OF THE AMERICAN CHURCH
“And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul…take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.’”
— Luke 12.19
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
— II Timothy 4.3~4
“For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”
— Acts 20.29~30
“Woe to them that are at ease in Zion, and trust in the mountain of Samaria, which are named chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel came!”
— Amos 6.1
“And I am very sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease: for I was but a little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction.”
— Zechariah 1.15
“Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity: therefore his taste remained in him, and his scent is not changed. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will send unto him wanderers, that shall cause him to wander, and shall empty his vessels, and break their bottles. And Moab shall be ashamed of Chemosh, as the house of Israel was ashamed of Bethel their confidence. How say ye, We are mighty and strong men for the war? Moab is spoiled, and gone up out of her cities, and his chosen young men are gone down to the slaughter, saith the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts. The calamity of Moab is near to come, and his affliction hasteth fast. All ye that are about him, bemoan him; and all ye that know his name, say, How is the strong staff broken, and the beautiful rod!”
— Jeremiah 48.11~17
“And a voice of a multitude being at ease was with her: and with the men of the common sort were brought Sabeans from the wilderness, which put bracelets upon their hands, and beautiful crowns upon their heads.”
— Ezekiel 23.42
The United States of America has long been known as a nation in which religious freedom is a guarantee protected under the Bill of Rights in the United States’ Constitution. When the Thirteen British Colonies in North America gained their independence, following the Treaty of Paris in 1783 which ended the American Revolution, the Founding Fathers of the USA made the decision to forever allow freedom of religious expression in the USA. Since that time, more than 200 years ago, vast numbers of people from every shore and nation have come to the USA seeking freedom to worship God as is deemed best. For decades after her founding, the Church of Jesus Christ stood strong and supreme in the United States, with those filling the pulpits being men of renown and of utmost character, preaching the Word of God with conviction and authority. As we approach the second decade of the 21st Century, how are things going for the US of A?
A Fighting Beginning — Though many modern historians both domestic and foreign will debate the issue ad nauseam, the glaring, crystal clear fact of history maintains that the men and women who founded the United States of America were believers in Jesus Christ as LORD and Saviour. Those leaders who stood in revolt against King George III and the British Empire knew that what they were doing was an undertaking ordained by heaven, and they knew and were convinced that only God could and would be their undying help in their struggle against the world’s preeminent military and economic power at that time. This courage and this conviction were often the only things separating them from an attitude of defeat and hopelessness and that of victory and a bright, independent future. Especially in the beginning, when things looked their bleakest – with Washington and the Continental Army corked up and camped out in Valley Forge in the Winter of 1777-78 – it was only by miracles that the United States Army and Navy at that early time in history, was sustained and kept going, dodging by a hair’s breadth defeat and total subjugation by the British and their until-then undefeated army and navy. It was through these years and later, in the War of 1812, that the faith of the founding fathers was tested, tried, and cemented into the culture and traditions of the United States of America. Down through the years, Presidents of the USA, military leaders, congressional representatives, governors of states, and other prominent government leaders paid due respect to God and his hand upon the USA. Through the Constitution of the United States, though government was forbidden to establish a State Church, the freedom to worship as one chose and chooses became an inalienable right for all who reside inside the borders of the USA. As such, Christ was taught in public schools, state universities, welcomed into discourse in the government and public forums. Leaders revered God, his written word, praised him in times of prosperity, and called upon him in times of national despair. Settlers moving East to West carried their faith with them, even so much as spreading the Gospel among the Indians in the Central and Western territories and later states. Faith and hope in God carried the USA through national calamities such as the various economic troubles (especially the Stock Market Crash of 1929), the United States’ Civil War of 1861-1865, two world wars, and cultural challenges to the national identity.
Hardships………But Persecution? The USA went through many trials of faith during her time as a nation. Through the Two World Wars, the USA – despite facing enemies whose military were superior to our own – faced down these threats with faith in God, trust in the Bible, God’s Holy written Word, and the truth that Good always overcomes. It was this kind of faith that helped the United States recover from a crippling Economic Depression to become the most powerful economy the world has ever seen. Through the divisiveness of the US Civil War and the later racial tensions that happened as a result, the USA found herself united even more strongly by and through faith in God than ever before. But as trying, as hard, and as difficult as these times were for Americans, could they be considered persecution or tribulation? The fact of the matter is, persecution – while happening in local or small-scale forms in the USA throughout her history – has not been an equation that has entered into the psyche of the USA and her people. The reason for this is because any and all residents of the United States of America are guaranteed the right of worship and the freedom of religion. Even today, in the 21st Century, people may not discriminate nor harass someone simply because of their religious beliefs. While this has made the USA not only unique, but strong, it has also created an atmosphere of which many writers in the Bible spoke the dangers of. Could it be that the freedom to believe has become something that – quite honestly and quite alarmingly – has made the Church in America weaker, more wide-open to attack and assault by the enemy?
A Nation Like No Other — It is true that the United States has been and is a nation like no other that has ever existed on the face of the Earth. At the time of her founding, every other nation in the world was ruled by royalty as its head of state. Yes, the British had their parliament, and they were the first to have a prime minister, but even at this late stage of time the British Crown (at that time King George III) still had comparatively strong sway over matters of government. A further discrepancy between the USA and European Nations was the absence f an established State Church. It is because of these two facts of history that a third fact of the USA appears: There has never been a national persecution of the Church of Jesus Christ inside the borders of the USA. There has been no “American Inquisition” as there was a European Inquisition as headed by the Roman Catholic Church up until the 16th Century; there were no “Fires of Arlington” as there were Fires of Ipswich in England during the reign of Queen Mary I; there were no Crusades against Nonbelievers as there were Crusades against “heretics” in Europe in the Middle Ages; the USA did not have concentration camps for Christians, as the Nazis in Germany did for political dissenters, Jews, and other so-called “untermenschen”; The United states did not create a series of gulags in Alaska to detain Christians as the Soviets did in Siberia; no president has ever edicted that Christians are to be jailed if they did not register themselves, as is going on in Red China; believers in Jesus Christ are not jailed, starved, and executed as they are doing in North Korea; Churches in the USA need not fear jack-booted thugs crashing down the door, beating members and worshipers to a bloody pulp, then hauling them off to prison, as is the case in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia; we have no arenas in the USA where Christians are fed to wild beasts, pitted against gladiators, or are crucified (with or without flames) as was the case in Ancient Rome; and Believers in the USA have no need to fear losing their heads or being stoned to death as is the case in Muslim nations. We in the USA have had a relatively easy time in our US History, and even before that, in the time of the 13 colonies. Even recent interventions in US Society by the American Civil Liberties union (ACLU) People for the Separation of Church and State, Agnostic Extremists, and other far-left liberals cannot compare, nor are these all combined more than a drop in the bucket in light of what our Christian Brethren have suffered over the centuries in other parts of the World. In fact, to date the USA is the only nation in the world that has not had some form of government sponsored persecution of Christians. Even Canada, the northern neighbor to the USA, forced French Christians and Catholics to move out of Canada following the French and Indian War. Such has never been the case in the United States of America.
The Danger of Being at Ease — While the freedom of religion and the freedom to worship have been hallmarks of the USA, and have also been unimaginable blessings to millions of immigrants to the shores of the United states of America, it cannot be helped but to point out that such freedoms have made living life as a Christian in the USA a bit rather easy. As a result, the Church in the USA has also been left wide-open to many and any number of heretical, false, and unbiblical teachings. It can be no accident that there are more religious cults in the United States than anywhere else in the world, and that major cults, such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day saints (Mormons), The Watchtower Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses), The Church of Scientology, and the Unification Church all had their start in the USA. Being at ease as we are in the USA allows for all sorts of dangerous teachings and false doctrines to infiltrate and integrate themselves into the church. Such has easily been the case in the USA. We have, nowadays, accepted many false teachings such as the following:
– a belief system that teaches Christians ought to be wealthy, affluent, and rich…
– Similar to Prosperity Gospel, this belief system states that anything a believer wants – from money to nice cars to houses to fame and power – can be attained merely be speaking it aloud and claiming it verbally and believing it will happen…
– a self-esteem belief, primarily espoused by Robert H. Schuller of the Crystal Cathedral in California, it uplifts self and self-esteem as preeminent…
– Espoused by many church denominations in the United States, this practice and belief makes it quite clear that speaking in some unintelligible language is a sign that one is filled with the Holy Ghost, and that anyone who does not do such is either not filled wt the presence of God, is not truly Saved, or both…
– Many churches in the 21st Century in the United states have openly questioned the doctrine of eternal damnation, and have ceased to preach on the eternal consequences of sin. Most churches that take this approach have ceased to use the word “sin” altogether.
– this doctrine uplifts modern social ills and preaches out against perceived injustice, rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. While there are instances and situations where the church needs to stand against social ills, to do so at the expense of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is throwing the baby out with the bathwater…
– Back in the early centuries and decades of the United States, the message of Holiness of Heart and Life were paramount and very strong. Today, Holiness is almost unheard of, even in Church denominations which based themselves upon the truth of Holiness of Heart and Life. Whereas in times past, pastors, evangelists, and teachers spoke and taught that living a life free of sin was not only possible, but available to all, we now hear preachers speaking of sin in everything we say, think, and do (despite the gross lack of Scriptural Basis for such theology and doctrine). In fact, more and more preachers are making excuse for sin, and giving room to it, rather than confronting it with the loving, freeing power of the Gospel. The even more tragic fact is that most Seminaries in the USA and the Western World have all but cast classes on Holiness and Holiness Exposition to the wayside. Students are nowadays more likely to hear a self-esteem approach to sinners than the concept of teaching them about holiness.
– Many Churches today are aligning themselves with any number of decidedly non-Christian Entities in collaboration for this or that work. Many Biblical Churches have re-aligned themselves with the Roman Catholic Church, failing to remember that it was the Church in Rome and her Pope which put to death – often in grisly fashion – our forebears. Other Churches have aligned themselves with the United Nations, Masonic Lodges, other religions such as Islam and Cult Groups like the Mormons, denying the scriptures which are crystal clear concerning the joining together of un-Christians with Christians:
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”
— II Corinthians 6.14-18
This list could go on and on, as many and sundry types of doctrines and beliefs have cropped up in the last few decades alone, insomuch that the Church that existed at the beginning of the 20th Century looks very little like the Church as we have entered into the 21st Century…
Enter the Wolves — In our Key from Acts, the Apostle Paul warned his hearers that he feared that wolves – people for whom the Gospel means very little – would enter in and destroy the church. Could it be, too, that Paul was warning the post-modern church of the United States of America? Could it be that Paul of Tarsus was speaking not just to his listeners of his day and age, but to us, as well, nearly 2000 years after his passing? We need only to take a good, hard look at some of these wolves to know and understand what they are preaching and who they are. Possibly everyone knows the name Jimmy Swaggert. Swaggert is a television evangelist, and had a high and great following in the 1980s. His television preaching and teaching programs were aired on as many as 3,000 television stations in the United States, and viewed by more than 500 million people worldwide. In 1988 it was revealed that Swaggert had paid for the services of a prostitute, rocking his ministry with scandal. A later tearful confession in front of his viewers did little to stop the major exodus of viewers, and cancellation of his television program by most of the stations that carried his shows. If that wasn’t bad enough, Swaggert was again found in the company of a prostitute in 1991, further causing great scandal to his ministry. Today, despite the past scandals, Mr. Swaggert continues to have a large following (some 80 million, according to his website). Other televangelists and prominent Christians, such as Robert Tilton, Paul Crouch, Benny Hinn, Ted Haggard, and many others have continued to preach and teach doctrines and beliefs that go against the Bible. Though some, such as Haggard, have lost their ministries, others have continued in them despite their hypocritical lifestyles, and many have even prospered and continued on, unrepentant of their sins. A blatant, glaring case of such is Rev. Jesse Jackson. The so-called heir to the Civil Rights movement initiated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. has continued on as a church minister, despite being found in an adulterous affair in which not only was a child produced, but the entire affair was covered up by Jackson himself. Even Church denominations in the USA are openly preaching acceptance of homosexuality, the Episcopalian Church having consecrated the first-ever openly practicing homosexual Bishop in Eugene Robinson. As far back as the 1980s, as well, the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America (PC-USA) began to question the validity of teaching and preaching abstinence among youth, further calling into question teachings on adultery and fornication. Again, this list could go on and on…
The Ripple Effect — As if these weren’t bad enough, in the United States, we now have pastors and ministers who are actively teaching and preaching on topics other than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In most churches nowadays, we hear less and less on the dangers of sin, the mortal warnings by Christ to cease from sin, the eternally lost estate of hell and the lake of fire, and the immanency of Christ’s return. Instead, we hear how Christ is our “best buddy” (but not necessarily our Saviour), how other religions are another pathway to Christ and to God (spoken by none other than Billy Graham on an episode of “The Hour of Power” from the Crystal Cathedral and Robert Schuller). We hear such Christian leaders as Rick Warren, author of the best selling Purpose Driven series, speak of how dictatorial despots such as Bashar Assad is a Christian man, and how Syria and other repressive countries are – in reality – open and free, when the truth shows something completely the opposite (it is said that even as Rev. Warren was visiting with Assad, Christians were jailed in Damascus). The trouble with leaders mentioned in the previous section and here is that such teaching doesn’t just affect only the large churches, but the smaller as well. When Joel Osteen – pastor of one of the fastest growing churches in the United States – declares on primetime cable television that he “just do(es)n’t know” whether Christ meant what he said, when he said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me,” it doesn’t just affect Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas; it affects all churches, and especially how the unbelieving, lost, secular world views the Church of Jesus Christ as a whole, its leaders, pastors, and teachers, The Bible, and Christians in general. When we see Jim Bakker in handcuffs, being led to a police squad car, or Jimmy Swaggert crying and begging for forgiveness for committing adultery with a prostitute (after having “exposed” two other ministers) only to turn around and do the same thing a few years later, it isn’t just Swaggert or his ministry that is affected; such actions paint a very telling picture of how the world perceives Jesus Christ and his followers. After seeing and hearing and reading tale after tale, story after story, expose’ after expose’ concerning Christian Leaders, Prominent Pastors, and Church Fathers, is it any wonder that such movies as The Last Temptation of Jesus Christ, The DaVinci Code, and Angels and Demons – movies with not only anti-Christian themes, but outright and blatantly blasphemous towards Jesus Christ Himself – are not only box office standards, but blockbuster movies seen and viewed by tens of millions?
The Needle in the Haystack — The truly sad thing concerning this situation is what is being drowned out in the flotsam and jetsam. Whereas less than a couple of generations ago the written word of God was preached with authority from the pulpit, we now find that same Gospel being panted, tarred, and feathered as “fundamentalist” ideals. We hear of sincere Bible-believing-and-preaching pastors being declared “intolerant”. We see in the news where Evangelists are being decried as “bigots” if they dare preach the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. “Sin” is now an unfriendly word not only in society, but in the church as well. Tragically enough, the world is – little by little – making serious headway, establishing firm beachheads, and building solid bridges into the Church itself. Should we be surprised when we hear statistics that show divorce being more common inside the church than outside? Should we be all that disgusted when we see teens in the church having sex as often and more-so than those outside church doors? Should we be shocked to know that teenage girls in the church are getting and having as many abortions as those in the secular world? Should we be astounded that pornography is rampant among church leaders, and that more and more each day give into the temptation to look at pornography on a regular basis? There are many both inside and outside of the church who try to explain away these facts, but the truth is, we have these serious problems simply because of what’s missing in the church: we no longer call out and point out and describe sin for what it is: sin – destructive, deviant, death-containing sin. While psychologists and Christian Therapists of every sort and stripe pound around the edges and search for some other unseen problem with Christians and the church, the simple fact is they and we are all missing the forest for the trees. We are searching for a needle in a haystack we ourselves created. That “needle” is sin.
Symptoms of a Greater Illness — Just as every illness known to man has symptoms and signs, so, too, are all of these problems and troubles in the church of Jesus Christ in the United states merely symptoms of something more sinister and devious. The greater illness written of here is simply that we, the church of Jesus Christ in the US of A have grown soft, lethargic, and just plain, ol’ lazy. Because of the freedoms we have, and that we Americans take for granted each and every day, we have allowed damnable heresies to enter into our places of worship, and we are systematically being lulled into Spiritual Malaise to the effect that there will be many who will be lost simply because they never truly heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We as a nation and as a people may wake up one day, as well, and find ourselves in a situation not so dissimilar to what happened in pre-World War Two Germany: with our rights curtailed, the church effectively silenced, and parts and people of our society being destroyed before our very eyes. In fact, this is already happening. In 1973, the Roe v. Wade decision denigrated one sector of US Society as subhuman (untermenschen?). Since that fateful day, more than 50 million innocents have been killed, and the reason is even more heinous than the reasoning behind the Nazi murder of 10-12 million “subhumans” in Europe. While the Germans did it to purify the continent, we Americans kill our unborn simply because we do not want our lives inconvenienced. And during these last 37 years since the Roe v. Wade decision was handed down, what has the church done to cry out for the unborn? Have we, as a Church Body, risen up en masse to call for the ouster of the justices on the Supreme Court who made this decision, or have we sat idly by, doing next to nothing while the slaughter continues? Have we elected leaders to public office who have defended the unborn, supporting them in their efforts, or have we cast a ballot in favor of a candidate who tells us “It’s the economy, Stupid!” and “Change! Change! Change!” all the while, glossing over their records concerning abortion and abortion “rights”? Is this al not symptom and sign of Spiritual Malaise, something the Bible warns us about time and time again? Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United states of America, and one of the USA’s Founding Fathers, said this:
“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
Can it not be said that the very same thing has been happening with the Church of Jesus Christ inside the USA? Have we not sat silently by, for the most part, while grievous wolves of every stripe have entered in, scattering the flock? Have we not sat idly by while false doctrine and heretical theology has become the norm and acceptable, all the while the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Truth of the Written Word of God has become anathema?
“The Tree of Liberty must be Refreshed from Time to Time with the Blood of Patriots and Tyrants.”
Yet another quote from President Jefferson that sounds frighteningly similar to another quote:
“The Blood of Martyrs is the Seed of the Church.”
As we have seen above, the Church of Jesus Christ in the USA is undergoing some serious problems. It is said, too, that nothing refines the church like persecution. There is a story that comes out of the time of the Soviet Union. A house church was gathered together, and they were in the middle of worship when their worst fears were realized: the door was kicked in and there stood five heavily-armed secret policemen. Speaking in a very loud and angry voice, the policemen’s leader shouted, “Everyone who is not a Christian, you have ten seconds to leave this house before we execute everyone in here!” At that, several members of the church group rose and left. The Police Commander waited until they were completely gone, then repeated his order, adding, “All those who are not serious about your faith in Jesus Christ, this is your last chance, for we will open fire in the next five seconds!” With that, several more members rose and quickly departed. “Is there anyone else?” Two more people left, and after another tense moment, the Police Commander shut the door and locked it. With that, he looked around on all of the members of the house church, then ordered his men to lower their weapons. “We, too, are Believers in Jesus Christ,” the Commander said to the small group of home church members, now breathing a sigh of relief. “The reason for our entrance and for our threat was to see who really is and really is not a follower of Jesus Christ. Those who are not believers, or are not true to their faith will always be a source of treachery to you!” In the USA, such is the case. We have many, many people that come to church, sing the songs, read the bible passages, listen to the preacher and the message, who talk and speak all of the words that people hear inside the church, but have no faith. Essentially, they are “talking the talk” without “walking the walk”. Perhaps what is needed in the USA is a good, heavy dose of persecution? Perhaps we need what the rest of the world has not had: life-or-death belief in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, and believers who have to face that choice each and every day. The reason is, we, in the USA, have had it easy compared to other parts of the world, and this life of ease has caused us, the American Church, to become soft, to become lax in our vigilance, and has allowed us to become wide-open for heresy and false doctrine. Just as President Jefferson spoke of the need for the blood of tyrants and patriots to be spilled for the cause of freedom and liberty, so, too, Tertullian’s words ring clear for the church, as well.
“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution…” This passage from Paul’s Second Epistle to Timothy (2nd Timothy 3.12) is not just a saying from the Bible that really has no meaning today. Consider the words of Jesus Christ and his prophets and apostles:
“But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.”
— Matthew 10.17~18
“And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you…”
— Matthew 10.21~23
“And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.”
— Matthew 10.38
“…for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word…”
— Matthew 13.21
“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.”
— Matthew 24.9
“…when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake…”
— Mark 4.17
“And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake…”
— Mark 13.13
“…men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.”
— Luke 6.22
“And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.”
— Luke 21.17
“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.”
— John 15.18~21
“These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended. They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service. And these things will they do unto you, because they have not known the Father, nor me.”
— John 16.1~3
“In the world ye shall have tribulation…”
— John 16.33
“I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.”
— John 17.14
“Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.”
— 1st John 3.13
“Who hate the good, and love the evil; who pluck off their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones; Who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them; and they break their bones, and chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the caldron.”
— Micah 3.2~3
“…when he hath tried me…”
— Job 23.10
“…we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”
— Acts 14.22
“And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience…”
— Romans 5.3
“Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer…”
— Romans 12.12
“For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation…”
— I Thessalonians 3.4
“…ye shall have tribulation…”
— Revelation 2.10
“And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.”
— Revelation 12.17
“And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them…”
— Revelation 13.7
You see friends, the Bible makes no bones about Christians having and undergoing persecution, tribulation, and hateful works of the enemy. It is not a whimsical thing, but a promise from the Lord Jesus Himself that persecution, trouble, and tribulation will come simply because we identify with Him. This is true for individuals, churches, and even nations, but there is one nation where persecution on a large scale has not happened, and that nation is the USA.
Early Signs of Coming Trouble — In the United States of America we can see the early signs of hard trouble in the future. For the last four decades, mainstream media in the USA has been virulent in their attacks, sarcasm, mocking, and relegating anything traditionally Christian and Biblical to the fringes. Whereas past TV shows, such as The Andy Griffith Show (where even the town drunk had enough respect for God not to drink on Sunday and to get cleaned up and go to church), My Three Sons, Father Know Best, and even programs into the seventies and eighties such as Eight is Enough, Happy Days, and M*A*S*H all portrayed God positively and with respect, nowadays television serials, such as South Park, The Family Guy, and The Simpsons, regularly mock and blaspheme Jesus Christ. And if Television is bad, movies are even worse, with production of The Last Temptation of Jesus Christ, The DaVinci Code, Angels and Demons, The Exorcist, Religulous, Saved!, and Jesus Camp just to name a few. In and among Stand-up comedy and Stand-up Comedians, Christ is even treated more harshly, with comedians and their ilk spewing any amount of blasphemy and mockery just to advance themselves and their repertoire for a few laughs. Already, to speak the Name of Jesus Christ in a positive way, and to espouse Biblical truths and principles as legitimate is cause for public media humiliation. The words “Narrow”, “Narrow-minded”, “Bigoted”, “Phobic”, “Haters”, “Intolerant”, and any other number of labels and names which ultimately set public opinion decidedly against Biblical Christianity. In the 1960s, prayer in public school was effectively banned and outlawed, and the homosexual movement has – in many cases – literally taken up arms against Christianity and the Church. In times past, when public schools of every stripe and level taught the bible as the basis for man’s moral code, nowadays, the bible has been banned, all the while, Islamic prayer and readings from the Qu’Ran (including those deigned as orders from “Allah” to eliminate “infidels”), Transcendental Meditation, New Age “Meditation” and Philosophy, Hindu Yoga, and many other forms of religious expression are all welcomed with open arms, and on the taxpayer’s dime. Hate Crimes legislation as being debated in Congress in Washington would all but outlaw many parts of the Bible, particularly those that speak out against Homosexuality as sin, and street preaching has already come under intense scrutiny in the United States. President Obama himself has declared that the USA is not a Christian nation, all but making it “open season” on believers who happen to be American and live outside the USA. Worse…..MUCH worse…..is on the horizon, and yes, it will happen in the USA, despite our Constitution (which, again, the President seems to ignore at his prerogative)…
The Bottom Line — The US Church is a Mess Because We’ve Had It Easy! The simple truth for the Church in the United States of America is that we have become exactly the same as the Laodicean Church as Described by Jesus Christ in the Book of Revelation:
“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 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 3.14~20
The time is coming when we will be put to the test as a nation and as a body of believers inside the United States of America. The reason we are in such a mess, why we have allowed so much heresy and false teaching into the church is because we, as American Christians, have sat back and let it happen. The reason why children are slaughtered in such a systematic fashion (even the Nazis and Communists would marvel) is because we have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have laid back on our laurels, taken it easy under the protection of the Bill of Rights in the United States’ Constitution, and as a result, the Church in the USA is decaying like a rotten corpse. Unless the Church in the USA undergoes a Great Awakening such as we have not experienced in nearly two centuries, bad times — VERY bad times are in the offing.
Conclusion — Persecution for the Church of Jesus Christ-USA Is On The Way!!! We cannot avoid it, folks. God has promised it for us, and already we are seeing the thunderclouds forming above us. Persecution for the Church of Jesus Christ in the United States of America is on its way, and whether it comes sooner or later is up to us, as a church. The Bible Says this:
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
— I Chronicles 7.14
“Whereupon the princes of Israel and the king humbled themselves; and they said, The LORD is righteous. And when the LORD saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah, saying, They have humbled themselves; therefore I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance…”
— II Chronicles 12.6-7
If we, as a nation, and as the Body of Christ in the USA, will repent of our lax, lackadaisicalness, and mindset of ease, and get right, stand for the Gospel, and ask for forgiveness for the heresy and false doctrine that has entered, the day of persecution that will come upon the USA does not have to be today: Christ will hold off for a time. However, if we continue to allow error, collaborate with the world, and turn a blind eye to sin, we, along with the rest of the USA, will go through the fires of testing, and God has promised us that his testing is hot (Job 23), and that testing will come sooner than we think or know.
Prayer — Heavenly Father, forgive us, the Church of Jesus Christ in the United States of America, for taking it easy. Forgive us, Lord, for becoming lax, soft, and lackadaisical in the Gospel. Forgive us for doing nothing while modernism and post-modern thought relegates us to the fringes. Help us to repent of this easy and this life on Easy Street USA. Help us to remain sober and vigilant, as you call on us to do in your written Word (I Peter 5.8~9). Help us, we pray, Father, to wake back up, to wait upon thee, and to walk as you would have us walk. We bless Thy Name, in Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.
THE LAST WORD: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.”
— I Peter 5.8~9