About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
Surviving Starvation In The Land Of The Spiritually Starved
"The days are coming declares the Sovereign Lord, when I will send a famine through the land ... a famine of hearing the words of the Lord (Amos 8:11 NIV). This famine of hearing God's word being proclaimed in Israel lasted about 400 years. From the time of the prophet Malachi to the day John the Baptist began to preach repentance to Israel, God was silent. Why did God send this famine to His people, and would He ever send such a famine today?
For generations the prophets spoke the word of the Lord to Israelis but they consistently disregarded it. It only makes sense that God would become silent and not waste words on an obstinate people who continuously rejected Him.
In Romans 1:24 and 26 the Apostle Paul said that God hands people over to their sin. In other words, if people are bent on sinning, God will step back from that people and let them sin all they want. He will not intervene and prevent them from sinning. Of course, sin has consequences, and, when it comes time to reap the consequences, judgment follows.
God handed Israelis over to their sin of neglecting His word that led to their idolatry. He then stepped back from them and became silent. His silence ended the flow of godly knowledge spoken by the prophets, confirming the validity of Hosea 4:6. "My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge."
Romans 1:24 and 26 were written to New Testament believers. It's thus clear, even in this age of grace, that God still steps back and becomes silent to a people who are bent on neglecting His word, which much of the western world church is doing today. Many parts of western Christianity, including Evangelicalism, are minimizing the importance of God's word as seen in the Bible. Biblical illiteracy is rampant.
In the late 1800's a German liberal theology desecrated much of the European church. As this liberalization of Scripture found its way to North America the Fundamentalist Movement was born to counter the attack on the sanctity of Scripture. Today, a new liberalism is emerging among the very Evangelical fundamentalists who once fought against a previous liberalized gospel. One such movement is called the Emergent Church. Like the German liberalists of the 19th century the leaders of this new liberalism, Brian McLaren and Rob Bell being two leaders, no longer believe the Bible to be God's inspired word for us to live by. For them and their followers, the Bible is merely a book to inspire, not to educate. They question the historicity of the Bible and along the way marginalize Biblical doctrine out of existence. The study and implementation of Scripture into real life has little relevance for them in a post modern western world.
One result of this liberalization of Scripture is that the adherents to the Emergent Church feel free to worship with other religions, believing that all religious paths lead to the same god. A similar idolatry caused the famine of hearing God's word in Old Testament Israel. Israelis worshiped foreign gods because they rejected the word of God that forbade such worship. It's this same idolatry that is causing another famine of God's word in western world Christianity today.
I believe that God has become silent in what some call the liberal church. His silence is beginning to appear in parts of the Evangelical church as well because of the diminishing importance placed on the Bible. No longer is God's word hid in the hearts of many Evangelicals (Psalm 119:11). Rather, the Bible sits on a shelf gathering dust.
In order to stave off starvation, liberal denominations and some Evangelical congregations are adopting humanistic practices to bring life to their dead membership. Embracing the gay life style is one way to attract newcomers to dying congregations. The secularization of Sunday worship is meant to make worship more palatable to the unbeliever. We've seen this before. The fourth century paganization of church was meant to accommodate the pagan unbeliever into church. That unbiblical experiment led to the demise of the church in Medieval times, just as Hosea 4:6 states.
It's my opinion this spirit of accommodation has been infiltrating the Evangelical world over the last number of years. The Seeker Sensitive Movement of the 1990's was a movement of accommodation. The premise of the movement was to make church more desirable to the unbeliever. Yes, membership increased. Mega churches were built, but, church without the knowledge of God's word is not church. When Biblical instruction is replaced by a humanistic inspirationalism the result is inspired ignorance, which leads to a Hosea 4:6 style destruction.
Even though a famine of God's word seems to be creeping its way across the western world ecclesiastical landscape, it doesn't have to emaciate you and I. The Word of God is our spiritual food (Matthew 4:4). It's readily available for us to read, study, devour and digest. We are the most privileged generation of Christians in history. We have access to internet web sites with tools that can educate us in God's word that other generations could never have imagined. We can stave off starvation. We really can. I realize that we're not all Ph.D. candidates. I know life is busy, but, feasting on our spiritual food takes priority. Becoming well nourished Christians is not optional. There is no doubt about it. We can survive starvation in the land of the spiritually starved.