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There is a lot of talk about who the next occupant of the White House will be. And while I believe that Christians should find a candidate who represents a biblical worldview as much as possible and then vote for that candidate, we also need to understand at the same time that no congressman or congresswoman, no senator, or no president can turn our country around.
It is not a political answer America needs; it is a spiritual answer. And the only real answer is a spiritual awakening. A revival must hit America. The classic verse that is often quoted on this subject was given initially to the nation of Israel, but it applies to our nation as well:
“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV).
We want God to heal our land. But notice that God said, “If My people who are called by My name …” (emphasis added). When God looked at a nation that was having problems, he pointed his finger at his people. So often we are quick to point out all of the problems in our culture. But God essentially says, “You know, I have kind of been looking at you – you who are called by my name.” The question is, are we experiencing spiritual revival?
God was saying that if you want to turn a nation around, then his people need to live as they should.
That first-century church turned their world upside down. And the question arises, is that where we are today? I think, sadly, the answer is no. In a time when we need to engage our culture with the one truth that has any hope of transforming it, many in the church have turned away from the answer.
One pastor wrote a book questioning the biblical teaching on hell. Of course, that got a lot of press coverage, because many members of the media don’t believe in what the Bible teaches. Therefore, they embrace the idea of a so-called evangelical preacher saying that he was not certain that what we have always taught and believed about hell is really accurate.
Then I read about a pastor of a megachurch who said recently that he thinks the terms “saved” and “born again” should no longer be used in preaching because our culture doesn’t understand that. And a Christian blogger who is very popular questioned the whole idea of evangelism.
Now, I expect this kind of behavior from nonbelievers. But when I see it from people in the church, it causes me to be concerned. To these misled people and those who would follow them, I would say this: There has never been a time when it is more significant for us to warn people about the reality of hell and tell them that, yes, they need to be “saved” and “born again.” And yes, we need to do it through evangelism.
C. S. Lewis said, “All that is not eternal is eternally out of date.” The gospel message is eternal. It never goes out of date. It never goes out of style.
Is the church today, like the church of the first century, changing their world and turning it upside down? Or, is the world turning us upside down? Think about the daunting challenge the church of the first century faced. They had no political base … no voting bloc in the Roman Senate … no emperor of Rome who was sympathetic toward them.
These first Christians did not out-argue the pagans; they outlived them. Christianity made no attempts to conquer paganism blow by blow. Instead, the Christians of the first century outfought, outlived and out-prayed the nonbelievers. And that is because they recognized their weapons were not physical; they were spiritual. We don’t read that the Christians armed themselves and led a revolt against Rome. Rome had the most powerful military on the face of the earth at that time. No, the first-century believers decided to fight fire with fire. They recognized it was a spiritual battle, and so they used spiritual weaponry.
And what is that spiritual weaponry God has given us to fight the battle today? It is primarily prayer and the preaching of the gospel.
The problem is that we don’t use this weaponry. We use political means or other avenues as we try to solve problems, and it is like attempting to extinguish a forest fire out with a squirt gun.
The Bible gives us an account in Acts 12 of a particularly difficult time in the early church. Herod had James, the brother of John, murdered. He had Peter imprisoned. So what did the church do? Did they organize a boycott of all products made in Rome? Did they develop a campaign to have Herod overthrown? No. They actually did something that we don’t do enough of these days. They prayed. We read in Acts 12, “Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church” (verse 5). Though all doors remained closed, one was still open: the door of prayer.
As D. Martin Lloyd-Jones said, “Of all of the blessings of Christian salvation none is greater than this, that we have access to God in prayer.”
How things change as a result of powerful prayer. God will always have the last word. Acts 12 opens with James dead, Peter in prison and Herod triumphing. But it closes with Herod dead, Peter free and the Word of God triumphing. It’s not over till it’s over. That is the power of prayer.
So let’s use the spiritual weapons that God has given us. Let’s start praying.