To the Church of God in America
Today, the Supreme Court of the United States of America declared homosexual marriage is a constitutional right. It marks yet another startling event in American history, strongly implying that we are indeed going the way of Europe.
What do I mean? The great heroes of the faith like Martin Luther, William Tyndale, John Calvin, John Knox, John Bunyan, John Owen, George Whitefield, William Carey, Charles Spurgeon, J.C. Ryle, Martin Lloyd Jones, and dozens of others, from the time of the Reformation into the modern age, hail from Europe. Europe produced the Reformation. Europe produced the Puritan movement. Europe produced the first English translations of the Bible. Europe produced the modern missions movement. For centuries, that great continent flew the banner of Christ as the bastion of Christian faith and devotion.
What is Europe today? Secular. Dead. Today, no one admires Europe for its spiritual enlightenment. We visit to gawk at the old churches, the history, the oldness of it all. But what are the history museums, the stories, the tourist attractions? Relics of times past, memoirs and faded paintings of the Life that it once had. Like the old cathedrals that litter its land, the continent is nothing but a shell, scattered with ashes of the fire that once burned so brightly.
Over the past three hundred years, America has also produced her fair share of spiritual giants. Pastors, theologians, and evangelists like Jonathan Edwards, D.L. Moody, James Montgomery Boice, B. B. Warfield, Billy Graham, R.C. Sproul, John MacArthur, and dozens of others have called this place of purple mountain majesties, where God has shed His grace, their home and place of rest. No other individual nation in the history of the world (save for Israel) has such uniquely God-honoring roots. The Puritans rooted their life on this land to stake it out for Christ, and live their faith in a way that they believed honored God.
But, what is America today? Confused. Wayward. In the throes of Satan's lies and spiritual deception. Teetering and falling off the cliff of spiritual suicide. Going the way of Europe, even approving — no, celebrating — that which God so clearly declares as sin.
In my cynicism, I am tempted to say this: there is only one difference between Europe and America.
It is hard to believe that at one time in America, the young and old, sophisticated and uncouth, rushed to hear George Whitefield preach the gospel in the fields. Tens of thousands running, riding, racing, as if death were at their heels to hear the gospel of grace from this young preacher — what a movement of God!
It is to hard to believe that America was once known as a 'Christian nation.' It is hard to believe that some once believed America was God's new chosen nation. It is hard to believe that American Christianity was once known as the light of the world.
O see how the mighty have fallen! How the blessed nation has thrown away her birthright! It is easy to throw up my hands and succumb to what is 'inevitable.' America is going the way of Europe. When the foundations are shaken, what can the righteous do?
But, to wallow in such a thought ignores one thing: America's story is not yet done. America is going the way of Europe, but that doesn't mean the American church has to. Europe has forsaken it's Christian heritage, and so have the powers that be in America. But the church of God need not capitulate. The church of God need not bend. And, by power of God, the same almighty power that raised Christ from the dead and gave Him new life in the resurrection, the church of God — even in America — need not die.
I am indeed concerned about my nation. But, in this situation, the call of God is not to redeem the culture, not to be champions of legislation, and not to reason with the zeitgeist. The call of God is to stand firm, immovable, abounding in the work of the Lord, steadfast in faith, resolved to teach clearly that the Scriptures are truth, that what God calls sin is sin, and that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only Savior of the world. The call of God in this crisis, and in every crisis, is to fight! — to fight the good fight of faith in boldness, in conviction, in love, in truth. If the church is the pillar and support of truth, and if do not stand for God and His Word, America will be engulfed in the darkness.
But if we, the church of God, stand, we will be called fools, backwards, idiotic, intolerant, and stupid. We, the American church, will be the scum of the nation. We will soon lose the comforts of religious liberties, and will soon know true persecution. This is only the beginning.
Yet, fear not. Let us never forget what the Lord Jesus Christ calls those who suffer for His name's sake:
Blessed are you, O Church of God, when you are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for yours is the kingdom of heaven! Blessed are you when people persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you — hypocrite, bigot, homophobe — because of Jesus Christ. Rejoice! Be glad! For your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Church of God in America, let us join the ranks of the soldiers of Christ who have gone before us, in all faithfulness and courage. Let us say with the martyrs, "To live is Christ; to die is gain!" Let us defy, like Martin Luther, every false religious authority for the sake of the gospel. Let us go to the stake if necessary, like William Tyndale, to be burned for our belief that the Scriptures must be proclaimed to all the people. Let us work unto death for the sake of the gospel, like George Whitefield, proclaiming from morning until night the God of sovereign grace.
"For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake" (Philippians 1:29). Granted, meaning given, as a gift. As favor and grace. What is this gift? Our faith — and our suffering. Suffering for Christ, to be persecuted for His name's sake, to be maligned and scorned for His glory — what joy! What honor!
It is coming. And persecution is the norm of the church age, for all who desire to live godly in this life will be persecuted. May the God and Father our Lord Jesus Christ, the One who chose us before the foundation of the world to be His beloved, keep us by His gracious power faithful — to the very end — purifying for Himself a people zealous for His fame in every nation, even America.