The preacher posited the argument that one reason that the Church in America was not being influential was because the Church in America looks too much like the world around her.
Thatai??i??s a fair point and one that Iai??i??m not going to argue in this blog. The implication from his argument is that the Church is supposed to be influential toward the culture in which it exists. Again, I agree with the implication; itai??i??s soundly Biblical.
ai???You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
ai???You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.ai???
(Matthew 5:13-16 ESV)
I feel confident in stating that all Christians would agree that the Church is supposed to act as a positive influence upon the peoples/society/culture at large. I will call this ai???Argument A.ai???
Later, in the same sermon, the preacher stated that he believes that ai???things will get worse and worse and worseai??? until an eschatological event called ai???the raptureai??? takes place that will effectively remove the Church from the face of the earth.
Letai??i??s call this beliefai??i??minus the bit about the ai???raptureai???ai??i??ai???Argument B.ai???
ai???Argument Bai??? is ai???the peoples/societies/culture will get worse and worse and worse until Jesus comes back (whether this is some secret return to rapture His elect or a very public return in which all will see Him is not relevant to this article).
Does anyone notice a disconnect between the two arguments?
ai???Argument Aai??? ai??i?? ai???The Church is supposed to be a gospel influence upon the peoples/societies/cultures.ai???
ai???Argument Bai??? ai??i?? ai???Peoples/societies/cultures will continue to get worse and worse and worse until Jesus returns.ai???
Putting these two arguments together raises all manner of questions:
Is the churchai??i??s influence supposed to cause the increase of sinful activity as all peoples/societies/cultures hurl toward the inevitable ai???great tribulation?ai??? No Christian would actually stipulate that.
Is the churchai??i??s influence doomed to fail given the inevitability of this downward spiral of increasing worldwide sinfulness? If the churchai??i??s influence is doomed to fail, why the admonition to the Church to be influential? More importantly, why are we supposed to be ai???saltai??? and ai???lightai??? at all to a culture that will inevitablyai??i??and increasinglyai??i??reject the saltiness and the light until it finally gets so bad that the Church is ai???raptured outai??? of the world entirely?
If the world must inevitably get worse and worse and worse in order to bring about the raptureai??i??which is why God supposedly ai???raptures the Church out,ai??? to protect her from the oncoming storm of the ai???great tribulationai???ai??i??wouldnai??i??t it actually make more sense to actually withhold the salt, thereby removing the preserving ingredient from the society/culture? Come to think of it, in predominately-premillennial Southern Baptist churches, isnai??i??t this really happening anyway?
Iai??i??m not saying that those who hold to a premillennial eschatology are all lax in the area of evangelism/discipleship. There are manyai??i??including a few who write for this blogai??i??that serve faithfully as evangelists and who practice personal discipleship daily. In my view, however, there is a disconnect between the belief (eschatology) and practice. Premillennials who evangelize and disciple daily are doing so believing that people/societies/cultures will continue to get worse and worse and worse until theyai??i??re raptured away. They will hold to the fact that evangelism produces converts and discipleship produces change, but they reject the inevitable outcome of ai???Great Commissionai??? obedience. Widespread conversion and widespread change invariably produce a positive changeai??i??over timeai??i??and not a negative change that premillennial eschatology holds to.
In conclusion, I would like to challenge my premillennial brothers/sisters to rethink their pessimism. Those who believe that the Church is to be a positive, gospel influence upon the peoples/societies/cultures ought to also believe that such an influence can, should and will yield fruit that produce a result that actually opposite of ai???worse and worse and worse.ai???
Paul promised Timothy that ai???in the last daysai??? people would show forth rotten fruit from wicked hearts. He said people would be ai???lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self- control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.ai??? (2 Tim 3:2-5)
The premillennial will read that text and feel their pessimism is justified. I would encourage them to read on to verse 9ai??i??
ai???But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to allai??i??ai???
How can the eventual exposure and defeat of Christai??i??s enemies bring about anything but rank optimism?
Be salt and light, Christian.
Be pessimisticai??i??about your pessimism.
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