Before I begin, I want to preface this with thankfulness and praise to God for all who read this, no matter what Christian church you belong to. Thank the Father for sending Jesus to save us! But the majority of believers — at least in America — are powerless to stop the downward slide of our country. This blog is an attempt to address the main reason.
We’ve heard about revival for many years, and this all sounds great but as long as churches do not allow the Holy Spirit to move in in a powerful way, there will be no revival. Real revival is dependent upon the power of the Holy Spirit being released into peoples’ lives. It is stopped by a number of things including the following: 1) the fear of man, 2) Cessationism, that mythical and unbiblical belief that somehow the Holy Spirit quit doing miracles after the first 100 years of the church, that somehow when one was saved they received the baptism in the Holy Spirit 3) Disunity caused by pride, jealousy and judgmentalism 4) the over concern with ritual rather than righteousness 5) Distraction because of the theological emphasis on the pre-trib rapture.
Unfortunately most of our churches are still depending on good marketing, intellectual sermons and personalities that attract people while America goes down the tubes. When was the last time you heard of a church that was known for power rather than its pastor, its music or architecture?
Let’s be honest, so goes the church, so goes the country. We have become powerless in the face of stupid political decisions, ungodly lifestyles and an obsession with “political salvation” that looks to a man or woman to resurrect a God purposed turnaround.
Five Years Left?
A few blogs back I reiterated a study by well-known columnist and author Cal Thomas, who wrote America’s Expiration Date: The Fall of Empires and Superpowers. He has studied the rise and fall of empires. His studies led him to the study the late Sir John Grubb, who found a pattern to the decline of nations. He said that pattern has not changed in the 4,000 years of history he studied and that the average age of great nations is 250 years. Rome was an exception, but even Rome followed the same path to self-destruction. The U.S. reaches this ominous mark in just six years — 2026. Hmmmm…
If history repeats, we have essentially five years to turn America around give or take a few years. This is impossible through politics, education, and continuous intellectualizing of the gospel from the pulpit. Only through the work of the Holy Spirit and his power can we save this country!
God is God. He does what he pleases. Part of what he is pleased with is to have his church filled to the brim with the Holy Spirit to draw people of all stripes to the altar of God for the saving of the nations. But the current status of the church as a whole and its resistance to the power of God through the Holy Spirit creates a impenetrable block. I can envision Steven, a great man of God, as he addressed the Pharisees and others who are killing him with stones saying something similar to our churches today with a remnant the exception:
“You stiff-necked and stubborn people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are always actively resisting the Holy Spirit. You are doing just as your fathers did. Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who proclaimed beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; you who received the law as ordained and delivered to you by angels, and yet you did not obey it!” Now when they heard this [accusation and understood its implication], they were cut to the heart, and they began grinding their teeth [in rage] at him. But he, being full of the Holy Spirit and led by Him, gazed into heaven and saw the glory [the great splendor and majesty] of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, “Look! I see the heavens opened up [in welcome] and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” But they shouted with loud voices, and covered their ears and together rushed at him [considering him guilty of blasphemy]. Then they drove him out of the city and began stoning him; and the witnesses placed their outer robes at the feet of a young man named Saul. They continued stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive and accept and welcome my spirit!” Then falling on his knees [in worship], he cried out loudly, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them [do not charge them]!” When he had said this, he fell asleep [in death]. (Acts 7:51-60 Amplified).
Some Churches Still Resist the Holy Spirit!
Yes, Steven was facing Pharisees who were dead set on having the kingdom for themselves. Jesus battled these hypocrites at every turn. Allowing Jesus his rightful place as messiah meant they must lose control over their seat of authority and allow God through his Spirit to teach them the true way. Their answer to this dilemma — kill the Lord Jesus and silence His disciples. I know you’re thinking, “Our church wouldn’t do such a thing!” No, but by keeping Holy Spirit “in his place,” according to the traditions of men, on paper it’s comparable. Jesus exhorted us all that we are more concerned with the traditions of our churches, the so-called doctrines set down decades ago that were embraced by such large bodies as the Southern Baptist Church, United Methodist Church and the Episcopal Church. As we know, the latter two have adopted liberalism for the most part as their creed more than than the entire Bible and what God wants to do through the Holy Spirit. The Southern Baptists, who have been called “people of the Book,” have maintained control by chopping from the Bible large portions of Scripture that emphasize the power of the Holy Spirit. Let’s start with the entire Book of Acts! If you fail to teach and preach the truth concerning the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, you can forget believing the Acts of the Holy Spirit!
The Southern Baptist Convention is the biggest Protestant denomination in the United States, accounting for 5.3% of the U.S. adult population, according to Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study. America’s second-largest Protestant group, the mainline United Methodist Church, accounts for 3.6% of U.S. adults. Southern Baptists make up about a fifth of all U.S. evangelical Protestants (21%).
That’s about 11.5 million people who are being taught that there is no baptism in the Holy Spirit today, perpetuating the major blindness that covers the. SBC, and has for many years. I’m not picking on the Baptists. I used to be one and I learned a lot of primary truths from the Baptist Church. But Thank God I didn’t stay there but was willing to be confronted with the truth about the Holy Spirit. By the way, I was raised as a United Methodist, and I spent 10 years in the Southern Baptist Church. I am so joyful for any church that has moved past the traditions of men and religious dogma to embrace the fullness of the Spirit!
Let’s go back to the five things I mentioned that are hindrances to the work of the Holy Spirit and to bring America back to its former place.
- The fear of man. Of course this is universal but in the church it and it is bondage. This iincludes the unwillingness to teach the whole truth of the Bible. It means facing the consequences of believing the Bible instead of believing and teaching your own church doctrin Example in point. I was attending a Southern Baptist church around 1976. On my own time, seeking the Holy Spirit, I was baptized in the Holy Spirit. A “friend of mine” seeking to get on the side of the pastor, I suppose, told him of my “experience.” The pastor called me in and asked me about it. I said yes it’s true. He questioned it and then said, “I’m not questioning whether it’s true or not, but we don’t believe in it.” In other words he wasn’t denying that I was baptized in the Holy Spirit. He was saying he was protecting himself by not teaching the truth of it.
- Cessationism — In the practical sense this simply means a belief that the Holy Spirit cannot do miracles in our age. The doctrine says this kind of thing passed away within the first hundred years of the church because it was not needed anymore! Like we don’t need the Holy Spirit! So intellectualism and scholarship replaced the power of the Holy Spirit? Yeah, right. We are in the worst fix we’ve been in in centuries and here we are with the church saying the Holy Spirit doesn’t do these things anymore! Some of you may remember Franck Hammond who with his wife Ida Mae Wrote the controversial book, pigs in the parlor. I heard Frank say that his church, a Southern Baptist church, asked the board of deacons if they could run the church without the Holy Spirit. The deacons answered yes. Frank said good luck and left. Wrong? Paul writing to Timothy said:
“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” … 2 Timothy 3:5, NLT: “They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!” (2 Timothy 3:5)
He did not say stay away from them because they have great scholarship. No, he said stay away from them because Ithey deny the power of God.
- Disunity caused by pride, jealousy and judgmentalism — The church as a whole is full of pride and many of the churches are jealous of one another because of size or quality or because they are of a different Christian stripe. Satan has devised a plan to divide. He worked overtime to keep churches and people within the church divided. Psalm 133 states that the power of God comes down when brothers and sisters are unified. The anointing promised here only comes through unity. What does it take to get unity?
Estimates are that there are more than 200 Christian denominations in the U.S. and a staggering 45,000 globally, according to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity (Feb 27, 2021) Each has its own creed anddifferent perceptions of what the Scripture says. However to unify, our Common understanding of Jesus death and resurrection from the dead must dominate the other things that we don’t agree with. I don’t like compromise, but we should be totally willing to give grace where salvation is not in question.
- Over concern about rituals rather than allowing the Holy Spirit the freedom to move. Personally, I’m not against liturgy. It’s rather wonderful at times, but it also can get in the way of the move of God. I’ve been in some liturgical churches that were better than Sominex! Parishioners do their due diligence by saying creeds and partaking in the Lord’s Supper or Communion or the Eucharist. These can be very meaningful, but they can’t be used in place of the Holy Spirit. It’s sad that sick people attend church with no hope of getting well because “all that passed away.”
- Distraction because of the preoccupation with the pre-trib rapture. One Bible teacher said it best: “Most Christians would rather go up than grow up!” This teaching has multiple problems in the context in which most teachers teach it. I got caught up (pardon the expression) when I read Hal Lindsey’s book, The Late Great Planet Earth. Being a young naïve believer, I bought Lindsey’s take on the rapture hook, line and sinker. That was 1982, 41 years ago. I still hear pastors calm their congregations’ fears about the mark of the beast by assuring, “We won’t be here for that!” Having read several last days scenarios by different apocalyptic writers, I have concluded this may not be so. The Jews certainly didn’t avoid their tribulation! They were slaughtered just as Jesus prophesied, and then dispersed throughout the entire world! Why? Because the nation as a whole rejected Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit among them. Americans still think of ourselves as exempt from persecution and especially The Tribulation, while our brothers and sisters in Christ are persecuted and killed in other countries in their own “tribulation.”
To end this, I imagine many readers will be put off by this blog. However, I challenge anyone to refute my reasoning. George Gallup’s statistics on the decline in church membership play out this way:
U.S. church membership was 70% or higher from 1937 through 1976, falling modestly to an average of 68% in the 1970s through the 1990s. The past 20 years have seen acceleration in the drop-off, with a 20-percentage-point decline since 1999 and more than half of that change occurring since the start of the current decade.
Could it be that people don’t come to church because the Holy Spirit is not present in power, that church has become a boring ritual that many cannot abide? Could it be many don’t come to church because of a lack of the presence of the Holy Spirit? Absoutely!
Joseph Beckham is the author of Deeper Water for Thirsty Souls – https://www.amazon.com/Deeper-Water-Thirsty-Souls-Book/dp/1493781286/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1467327578&sr=8-1&keywords=deeper+water+for+thirsty+souls
Overcoming Bipolar Disorder & Other Mental Difficulties: A Christian Perspective – https://www.amazon.com/Overcoming-Bipolar-Mental-Difficulties-
Soul Ties: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly – https://www.amazon.com/Soul-Ties-Good-Bad-Uglyebook/dp/B07Q5BCSPT/ref=sr_1_6?keywords=Joseph+beckham&qid=1571351450&sr=8-6