The Current Downgrade of the Evangelical Church
Let no one deceive you by any means; for that day will not come unless the falling away comes first and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition. –II Thessalonians 2:3
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth and turned aside to fables. –II Timothy 4:3-4
These two passages come to mind often as I consider the state of the church today, especially when I look at the gospel declared and hold it up to the word of God.
A few weeks ago, as my sister and I were discussing Paul David Tripp’s “confession” (we have both been reading his devotional, New Morning Mercies), it brought to mind more of what is going on in the church today. Many of us here belong to churches where the gospel is not strongly presented, watered down, intellectualized or just flat missing.
Many of us belong to churches that have a low view of sin, but will have a very high view of love and grace. And then some of us are privileged to belong to churches where the true Gospel of Jesus Christ is declared weekly, where people are being called to repentance and pointed to the cross. They are urged to cast themselves on the mercy seat of Christ as their only hope; to look unto Him for salvation and to believe and trust. I am reminded of how my dad always gave an appeal to the cross of Christ to close every sermon he preached. Unfortunately, most of us belong to churches that fall into the first two categories.
So what is wrong in the Evangelical church today? Obviously, we are in a serious downgrade of our own. A term used by the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon to decry the compromise of his day.
The gospel is being perverted and watered down and compromised to make it more palatable. We have compromised the truth. It has become less offensive every day. The first time I heard Jordan Hall preach was his message on Sola Scriptura back in October 2017. Something he said has stayed with me. He said in answering someone that asked: “how can you expect to win them to Christ if you offend them?” And his answer was, “how can you expect to win them to Christ if you are not willing to offend?”
How has it been perverted? Just spend 30 minutes on TBN, DayStar, Hillsong or any of the so-called “Christian” networks and see for yourself. How is it being compromised? There are numerous reasons, but a few stand out. Most obvious is sin. Preachers are no longer “preaching the word” as Paul told Timothy to do in II Timothy 4, nor are they preaching against sin and for holiness. Instead, they put a nice intellectual spin on the text that is at times so black and white that a 5-year-old could explain it, but yet their explanation would make your head spin, and in the end, you really don’t feel you are all that bad.
At other times, they will take a text like the Good Samaritan in Luke 10, and make it about racial reconciliation and solving social ills in our society.
Another reason is money and attendance. If people are coming through the door, the attendance is up, and so then are the offerings.
A third reason, as I pointed out a minute ago, is that we don’t want to offend people. We want folks to come back. If they are continuously being called to repent and believe and look to Christ as their only hope, they may not want to come back. Preachers have grown comfortable and don’t preach as if many, if not most of their congregants have one foot through hell’s door. There is no urgency anymore. Jesus said in Matthew 7 that the gate was small and the way difficult that leads to eternal life, and there are few who will find it.
This tells me that in most congregations, at least most of the large ones, that many, if not most, of the people in the pews, are dying and going to hell. As one friend told me, “if we want the lost to be comfortable in our churches, then they will remain comfortably lost.”
Another is that sound doctrine is no longer preached. Churches, like mine, will say they preach expository preaching. But when you go through John 17 and make no mention of the elective purposes of God, something is very wrong!
I truly believe we are well into the time when “they will not endure sound doctrine,” and that the “falling away” has begun. I am not a prophet, nor do I claim to be, but no such special gift or calling is necessary. The handwriting is on the wall.
Now, what do we do? We keep declaring the Truth. We keep discerning. We keep contending for the faith. We continue to be constant in and out of season, never wavering, never compromising. And we do it all with the love with which Christ loved us.
We will often stand alone in our churches and be ridiculed for the gospel stand we take, even to the point of being hated and scorned. But always remember. They hated Christ Jesus first, and He has overcome it all and did so on our behalf.
In Christ Alone,
[Contributed by Steve Evans]