Dissolution

     For a very long time the devil has had much greater influence in this world than has God. We should not be surprised at this because Paul told us that this was and would be the case even from apostolic times (1 Timothy 4:1-4, 2 Timothy 4:1-4 and Ephesians 6:10-17). We are at the present time in a period of heightened spiritual dissolution. The organized institutions of what might be called the Christian religion are so far removed from the Biblical pattern that there is little if any connection with the church presented in the New Testament text.

     Of course, those of us who are interested in the restoration of the Biblical pattern of work and worship understand this. We have in this country for over two hundred years preached and worked for a return to that biblical pattern (2 Timothy 1:13). But I fear that we have underestimated not only the distance historical Christianity has removed from the pattern, but the subtle power that movement has had on our own lives and work as Christians. It is indeed fearful to contemplate the spiritual dissolution around us.

     We have taught ourselves to take comfort in the idea that the cycle of dissolution will be followed soon by a return to Biblical and spiritual goals by the larger culture around us. The evidence is to the contrary. We live in a relatively conservative part of the country but even here moral and ethical bulwarks are crumbling. In other parts of the country and in what used to be called western civilization mere traces of the influence of God-centered morality exist. Indeed, if you are so bold as to defend traditional sexual roles in many places you will be called a bigot if you are at all allowed to speak.

     Establishment Christianity owns some of the fault in this. Long ago the big influential churches modified their public face to accommodate the individualism and subjectivity that has resulted from the ascendancy of existential philosophy. The idea that we are all just living in the moment and thus the here and now is all that matters is not only wrong but sad and dangerous. The devil must rejoice at how so many reject anything that transcends the present. God transcends the present so He is out too.

     This rejection of God is a tricky thing even for those under the influence of the devil. People like to keep a hand in when it comes to God. This is how established Christianity has operated. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are still spoken of but scant attention is paid to what they have said in the Bible. What the world calls Easter is just around the corner. We understand that we remember the Lord’s death, burial and resurrection every Lord’s Day. But how many folks in this supposedly Christian nation believe that Jesus Christ actually came forth from that grave? Our spiritual lives depend on that resurrection (1 Corinthians 15). Many people just smile at our faith as they pass the chocolate rabbits.

     So, if we will see it we can know that we are not in the best of times. We can take heart in that there are and will be pockets of people who recognize God as the authoritative and transcendent power of this life. There are people who do not identify with our theological perspective who see this spiritual dissolution as well as we do. But their numbers and viability are also as stressed as ours. The pressure towards a new and subtle dark age has been in place for hundreds of years but our ability to resist in material terms has diminished.

     So what are we to do as Christians and members of the church? Well, it is a simple thing to say but nonetheless true: We need to teach, preach and learn over and over again the great doctrines of the Word of God. Big plain things like the existence of God Himself, the inspiration and authority of the Word, the Deity of Jesus Christ, the great doctrines of the church and how God is to be worshipped, life in Christ, the final judgment and everything in between. Again, it is what Paul said in Ephesians 6:10-17.

     Is there hope for the greater world? Not unless that world turns to the Lord (John 14:6). Is there hope for those who cling to God? Absolutely. But make no mistake, the spiritual dissolution around us will continue until and unless people turn back to God. And not the popular watered down “god’ of our creation, but the God of Abraham, Moses, and Jesus Christ.