Wednesday, July 15th, 2009 | Author:

Welcome to the Word for Wednesday meme. You are invited to post a scripture on your blog each week that has current meaning to you, and leave a link here in the comments. You never know who God may touch with His Word.

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My word this week is more questions than answers, and I would be grateful for your thoughts on this subject.

It started a few days ago, when I suddenly realized that it’s been longer than I can remember since I knew of, or heard of, someone getting saved. It just doesn’t seem to be happening around here anymore. Have any of you noticed the same thing, or is it just in this neck of the woods?

As I mulled this over, I read a piece by Jacob Praasch in which he stated that the Holy Spirit is moving in Russia, where the Word has finally been allowed, and in Africa and China – but not in Britain or Germany or the United States. Assuming that he’s correct, and as he travels a great deal I have no reason to doubt him, more questions are raised, chiefly “Why?”

Then this passage came to mind and won’t leave:

Therefore the Jews were grumbling about Him, because He said, “I am the bread that came down out of heaven.” They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does He now say, ‘I have come down out of heaven’?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:41-44)

This, of course, raised more questions. Has God stopped drawing people in America and other supposedly Christian countries? Is it because we, as a nation, have turned our back on Him and dug our own well? Is it because we have collectively rejected the truth of His Word, preferring to have our ears tickled and our egos massaged? Is it because we prefer to hear His Word, but not act on it?

Are we, as many nations before us have been, under God’s judgment? Has God reached the end of his very long rope and ceased to strive with us?

LORD, I have heard the report about You and I fear.
O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years,
In the midst of the years make it known;
In wrath remember mercy.
(Habakkuk 3:2)

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5 Responses
  1. Queen of Pith says:

    It is that "You don't know what you've got until it is gone" thing. Russia has been without for so long. We have so many freedoms we take Him for granted.

    Remember how God would hide from the Israelites and they would beg Him to come back. He would provide. They would get spoiled and turn their backs again.

  2. Rebecca says:

    God hasn't given up on us. If there were even 10 righteous people in this country, He wouldn't turn His back on it. And I believe He is drawing people every day closer to Him– I don't ever think He would stop drawing– whether we see it or not. Remember, salvation is a process!

  3. Jim Wetzel says:

    I've been thinking about your post since I saw it this morning, but I'm still not sure what I think about the questions you raise.

    Jesus said (Matthew 7:13 and 14), "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it." This says that the fraction of the people who are actually believers is small. Jesus doesn't say, in numerical terms, just how small; but the flavor of His words suggests, to me at least, something pretty lopsided; maybe something like ten percent or so.

    Suppose, just to give us a place to talk from, that it is ten percent. You would then expect that the number of American believers would grow only at the same rate as the population in general; and in America, especially if you don't count immigrants, the rate of population growth is near zero. The picture, then, would be of a body of believers that is essentially static, with just enough new people to replace those who die off each year.

    If you look at another part of the world, where Christian believers are much less than ten percent of the people, for any of a variety of reasons … well, if the circumstances change (maybe official persecution of the church goes away), then growth may be quite rapid while it "catches up" to the ten percent level.

    It's also true, though, that we of the "first world" live in lavish conditions of material plenty; and the tumult of our amusements makes the "still, small voice" quite hard to hear. To the extent that this might explain the static and weak condition of the American (and British, and German, etc.) church, God may be sending the remedy now: I think a lot of our luxuries and amusements will be waving bye-bye to us in the next few years. And it could turn out that many of us will, maybe for the first time in our lives, become able to gain and appreciate the true riches — His riches — and be grateful for them.

    Thing is, it's tough to gauge the spiritual condition of America today, because — I fear — there's an awful lot of churchgoing being done by folk who are self- and pulpit-deceived, and who do not in fact have a saving faith. Only the Lord knows what fraction of us pew-sitters are really His.

  4. Hercules Mulligan says:

    Hi Jean. Sorry for my very belated response. I've taken some time to mull this one over, for I have been thinking about this shortly before I saw your post. Here are my initial reflections.

    Shortly before I read your post, I had heard of some poll results (whether the source was Barna or Gallup I don't remember — one of the two) that says that the United States is the one place where Christianity is NOT growing. Although I am not surprised that it is not growing as rapidly as in China or Russia or Africa (I don't think either of this would be a huge surprise to either of us, because they have the 'real thing' in those countries, and most of American evangelism is the icing without the cake), I am surprised that, if these statistics are true, the growth of Christianity in this country is only enough to keep it's numbers only fairly steady.

    So why is this? I don't think that it is because God has given up on us, and is giving us over to our iniquities. As long as there are praying Christians in this country, I think God will work. The results will probably not be immediately evident.

    I don't think that the responsibility is with God, for the lack of the growth of the Christian body in America. True, no one comes unless God draws him. But in another place, Christ says that He draws ALL men. John 12:32 (literal translation from the LITV) "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw ALL to Myself." (Some versions add "men" or "people" after "all.") So Christ draws ALL men. And yet obviously, not all men chose to come.

    I think the responsibility rests on our shoulders if the Church in America is not growing. 2 Chronicles 7:14: "If My people, who are called by My name will humbles themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked way, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land." We need to humble ourselves and pray and seek His face, we need to turn from our wicked ways. We need to quit being consumed by the things of this world, and become consumed with the passion for souls that God has. Revival has never come through a people that was half-hearted about preaching the Gospel and converting the souls.

    I think that revival is on its way to America, however. I hear of more and more people being awakened to the reality of the Gospel, and more and more people being convicted. I think that the Scripture is true when it says that God is long-suffering; I think He is still drawing us in His mercy, and that He is raising up people who will pray and preach. So while America seems to be at an all-time low, I think that God is going to do something wonderful in His Church here.

    The late Leonard Ravenhill wrote a book called "Why Revival Tarries," which I have never read, but I am interested in getting it and reading it, after having heard several sermons of his on the subject of prayer, holiness, and revival. Here are some compilations on the subject that are particularly enlightening.

    Selections from the sermon "The Judgment Seat of Christ"
    http://www.tangle.com/view_video?viewkey=4a8b889632e294fae2e5

    Revival Forum '89: Leonard Ravenhill on Prayer Meetings
    http://www.tangle.com/view_video?viewkey=8bb942488b1996b2d6c2

    Leonard Ravenhill on Way Of The Master Radio
    http://www.tangle.com/view_video?viewkey=5c7443cad75aac375d4a

  5. akaGaGa says:

    Thank you all for your thoughtful responses. It's obviously something that's on my mind, and I continue to seek the Lord about it. When He puts something in my heart, it just doesn't go away until I'm satisfied that I've heard from Him.

    I've gotten some more input from a couple other directions, and I'll save my response to all of it for another post.

    Again, I truly appreciate your food for thought.