I think it’s fair to say that humanly speaking the Christian Church is on its way out in the Western world. Just looking at the UK alone will show falling numbers of church goers, falling numbers of people who fear God and even smaller numbers yet of evangelicals.
I’ve seen this trend first hand in my church, Bellevue Baptist Church (we meet here every Sunday at 11:00 and 6:30pm). About five years ago there were seventy of us in the church, a smallish yet thriving congregation. But over the last few years in ones and twos then people have left. And they’ve left for good reasons, new jobs, getting married, university, death, etc, etc. Just to be clear I’m in no way, shape or form criticising those that left. So now on a good day we get into double digits, our church is now small, smaller than most of us ever thought it would get. Oh yeah, and we run out of money in September. Humanly speaking then my church is dying much like the church in the UK is dying.
And it’s hard. It’s very hard. All the questions you ask yourself: are we doing something wrong? Will things ever improve? Why has God let us get so small? Will we just fade and die? Why isn’t God bringing more people in? What’s the point in this all?
I’ve asked myself all of them at some point or another. Most reveal a lack of faith on my part, most reveal a terrible unbelief, so I thought it would be helpful to answer the question:
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Satan had somehow disappeared over the last couple of decades. When was the last time you heard anyone mention him? When was the last time you heard someone mention him in a non-humorous manner? In a poll done a few years ago the question was asked: do you believe in a personal God? Around 60% of people said yes which would be encouraging if it weren’t for the second question the poll asked: do you believe in a personal devil? That 60% collapsed to 34%.
This is bad news. For if we do not have a proper Biblical understanding of Satan then I would suggest that we do not have a proper Biblical understanding of sin.
In my last post I mentioned the fact that there is a spiritual war raging between God and the Devil. This comment was met with some derision which in some ways is understandable. It is rare to hear other Christians talk about this reality. Rather like Basil Fawlty it is easy for Christians to operate under a ‘don’t mention the war’ mentality. In part this stems from the fact that Christians feel as though mentioning this spiritual war will make us look weird, sorry, even weirder.
The world today is totally obsessed with the observable natural world and therefore treats any comments about the unseen spiritual world with scepticism. But that is foolishness in the extreme as I will hopefully show you.
Now if there is a war raging on around us that leads us to some very important questions…
Jesus is the Son of God. For many of you this may be a ridiculous statement. After all, a man being God? What god would do such a thing? Yet the Bible cannot be clearer: Jesus Christ was the Son of God. The entire Old Testament pointed to him. The entire New Testament is about his life and his church. To deny that Jesus was the Son of God is to deny that the Bible is God’s word. Somebody actually asked Jesus:
“Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”
“I am,” said Jesus “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of Heaven.”
Mark 14 v 61 - 62