Sunday, January 18, 2015
THE CHALLENGE OF CHRISTLESS CIVILIZATION
"So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed." (Acts 19:20)
We live in very wicked days. That is a challenge. But since the fall, this has marked most of the world, much of the time. How hard was it for Noah to stand for God? All humanity was against him, but He held true. The church was planted in a most inhospitable climate. Just read Paul's commentary on his contemporary culture in the first chapter of Romans. Still the church not only survived--it thrived! When we whine about ours being a Christless civilization, we have made a correct diagnosis, but why aren't we giving them God's prescription--the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Civilization without Christ affords OPPORTUNITY (Acts 19:1-12). Paul didn't waste time complaining about the nature of the soil; he invested his energy in sowing the seed. Sure, there was some hard ground that steadfastly rejected Christ, but there was also fertile soil where many received Him--especially among the pagans! The Apostle was convinced of the power of the Gospel to change lives. Are we? One thing is for certain--as God has called us to be fishers of men, the pond is well-stocked with sinners! The hole isn't fished out!
Civilization without Christ needs OUTREACH (Acts 19:13-22). The Apostle didn't just talk about the opportunity, he took the opportunity! I have noticed that it is far easier for me to preach about evangelism in the church, than practice evangelism in the community. Bible-believing church folk will give you a hearty, "Amen!" to the call for outreach to the lost, but often walk out and show more concern for ordering Sunday lunch than giving their neighbor the Bread of Life. Whether the minister or the member, that is hypocrisy. When all is said and done, there is more said than done as concerning getting the Gospel out. Our feet have difficulty catching up with our tongues.
Civilization without Christ brings OPPOSITION (Acts 19:23-41). The very fact that the Gospel prevailed implies opposition. The church on the move is marching into enemy territory. Satan has little concern over a mealy-mouthed church, but will war against militant Christians. Wherever Paul preached usually two things happened simultaneously--a revival and a riot broke out. It was true at Ephesus. The spark that ignited this was fear of the economic impact by those who profited from idol worship due to many of their customers repenting. Wouldn't it be wonderful if so many were converted in our culture that the liquor industry, porn trade, and abortion mills took such a hit that their owners started picketing the churches? Thankfully, Paul and others retained some rights--law and order was reestablished, and Christ continued to be proclaimed. That freedom for Paul would someday be lost, so he was going to "make hay while the sun shines." It is imperative for us to seize the opportunity we still have. Those liberties are diminishing by the day. When and if they are lost, the church will keep on sharing the Gospel--but with much more conflict and graver consequences. That is the nature of a Christless civilization. What do such people need? Christ! Give them Jesus--and do it now!