America’s Dying Resolve: The Christian Church (Part I)
by Carl Parnell
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For many centuries, Christianity has been the dominant religion in America with the Protestant Church being the dominant church, which is comprised of many different denominations. In the early days of the Protestant movement in America, Protestant churches had a “burning zeal” to spread the true, unadulterated Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ throughout America, just like the Apostle Paul did on his many mission trips throughout Asia and Europe. In fact, the attitude of American Protestant churches, their pastors, and their congregations can best be described in a song written in 1896 by Palmer Hartsough (words) and James H. Fillmore (music). The song was “I Am Resolved.” It was written for the purpose of convincing sinful men and women, boys and girls to make a spiritual decision to accept the Saving Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. The scripture that it was based on was Galatians 5:1, which states, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
Therefore, as can be seen in the words of “I Am Resolved,” Christianity and Christian churches stressed a Christ-centered approach to winning the unsaved populace in America and around the world. It also emphasized the Christian’s determination to live a committed lifestyle of faith in and worship of Jesus Christ, God’s Only Begotten Son, which is the lifestyle that Jesus Himself preached about when He was on the earth.
Now, let’s look at the words of “I Am Resolved.”
I am resolved no longer to linger,
Charmed by the world’s delight,
Things that are higher, things that are nobler,
These have allured my sight.
I am resolved to go to the Savior,
Leaving my sin and strife;
He is the true One, He is the just One,
He hath the words of life.
I am resolved to follow the Savior,
Faithful and true each day;
Heed what He sayeth, do what He willeth,
He is the living Way.
I am resolved to enter the kingdom,
Leaving the paths of sin;
Friends may oppose me, foes may beset me,
Still will I enter in.
I am resolved, and who will go with me?
Come, friends, without delay;
Taught by the Bible, led by the Spirit,
We’ll walk the heav’nly way.
I will hasten to Him,
Hasten so glad and free;
Jesus, greatest, highest,
I will come to Thee.
Ultimately, then, what kind of Christian lifestyle should true Christians resolve to live? According to “I Am Resolved,” Christians should be resolved to live their lives by the following standards:
1. Christians should fix their sight on permanent spiritual things, not on temporary material things.
2. Christians should leave their sin and strife with Jesus Christ when they accept Him as their Lord and Savior, not attempt to live a Christian life and keep their sin and strife in their back pocket.
3. Christians should renew their relationship with a faithful Jesus Christ daily and do what He instructs them to do through His Word and through the Holy Spirit, since He is the only path to Heaven (John 14:6).
4. Christians should be determined to not let anyone or anything keep them out of the Kingdom of God on earth and His eternal kingdom in heaven.
5. Christians should follow the dictates and teachings of the Word of God and should seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit every day of their life on the earth as they prepare for an eternal home in a place where there is no sin and no tears.
Unfortunately, those who profess to be postmodern Christians do not still have the resolve of their earlier counterparts to serve God faithfully. In fact, postmodern Christians have the resolve to live as close to the world as possible and still profess to be servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. As a result, these Christians, as said by the Apostle Paul in II Timothy 3: 5-7, have a form of godliness but deny and do not want the power of God in their lives. Also, according to the scriptures penned by John the Revelator in Revelations 3: 14-17, God classified these type Christians as lukewarm. It reads,
14 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;
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17 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:
Of course, as implied in these scriptures, lukewarm Christians put their personal greed of materialism before their love and worship of the Lord God Jehovah, which was just like the Christians of the ancient town of Laodicea, which was located in the Roman province of Asia. As a result, the aforementioned scriptures in Revelation 3: 14-17 are suggestive that Christians in America today have the same lack of Christian zeal and faithfulness to God that the Laodiceans had. Also, the Laodicean Church is prophesied to appear prior to the Rapture of God’s saints.
Therefore, Christians in postmodern America should display the same characteristics of the lukewarm Christians of ancient Laodicea and they do. In fact, many Christians attend churches and follow pastors that condone a lukewarm spiritual lifestyle that replaces the resolve that Christians of earlier generations had to sell out to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Previous generations of Christians had the resolve to live their lives according to the dictates and teachings of the Holy Bible, which is God’s roadmap to heaven.
According to Francis Chan in his book entitled Crazy Love, there are some noticeable characteristics of lukewarm Christians. They are as follows:
*Lukewarm people attend church fairly regularly. It is what is expected of them, what they believe “good Christians do, so they go. In Isaiah 29:13, it says, “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men.”
*Lukewarm people give money to charity and to the church…as long as it doesn’t impinge on their standard of living. If they have a little extra and it is easy and safe to give, they do so. After all, God loves a cheerful giver, right? In Luke 21:1-4, it says,
1 And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.
2 And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.
3 And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:
4 For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.
*Lukewarm people tend to choose what is popular over what is right when they are in conflict. They desire to fit in both at church and outside of church; they care more about what people think of their actions (like church attendance and giving) than what God thinks of their hearts and lives. In Luke 6:26, it says, “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you for so did their fathers to the false prophets.”
*Lukewarm people don’t really want to be saved from their sin; they want only to be saved from the penalty of their sin. They don’t genuinely hate sin and aren’t truly sorry for it; they’re merely sorry because God is going to punish them. Lukewarm people don’t really believe that this new life Jesus offers is better than the old sinful one. In John 10:10, it says, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
*Lukewarm people are moved by stories about people who do radical things for Christ, yet they do not act. They assume such action is for “extreme” Christians, not average ones. Lukewarm people call “radical” what Jesus expected of all His followers. In James 1:22, it says, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”
*Lukewarm people rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers, or friends. They do not want to be rejected, nor do they want to make people uncomfortable by talking about private issues like religion. In Matthew 10:32-33, it says,
32Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven.
33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
*Lukewarm people gauge their morality or “goodness” by comparing themselves to the secular world. They feel satisfied that while they aren’t as hard-core for Jesus as so-and-so, they are nowhere as horrible as the guy down the street. In Luke 18:11-12, it says,
11The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
*Lukewarm people say they love Jesus, and He is, indeed, a part of their lives. But only a part. They give Him a section of their time, their money, and thoughts, but He isn’t allowed to control their lives. In Luke 9:57-62, it says,
57 And it came to pass, that, as they went in the way, a certain man said unto him, Lord, I will follow thee whithersoever thou goest.
58 And Jesus said unto him, Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.
59 And he said unto another, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
60 Jesus said unto him, Let the dead bury their dead: but go thou and preach the kingdom of God.
61 And another also said, Lord, I will follow thee; but let me first go bid them farewell, which are at home at my house.
62 And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.
*Lukewarm people love God, but they do not love Him with all their heart, soul, and strength. They would be quick to assure you that they try to love God that much, but that sort of total devotion isn’t really possible for the average person; it’s only for pastors and missionaries and radicals. In Matthew 22:37-38, it says,
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
*Lukewarm people love others but do not seek to love others as much as they love themselves. Their love of others is typically focused on those who love them in return, like family, friends, and other people they know and connect with. There is little love left over for those who cannot love them back, much less for those who intentionally slight them, whose kids are better athletes than theirs, or with whom conversations are awkward or uncomfortable. Their love is highly conditional and very selective, and generally comes with strings attached. In Matthew 5:43-47, it says,
43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?
47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
*Lukewarm people will serve God and others, but there are limits to how far they will go or how much time, money and energy they are willing to give. In Luke 18:21-25, it says,
21 And he said, All these have I kept from my youth up.
22 Now when Jesus heard these things, he said unto him, Yet lackest thou one thing: sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me.
23 And when he heard this, he was very sorrowful: for he was very rich.
24 And when Jesus saw that he was very sorrowful, he said, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God
25 For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
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