Make America's Church Great Again, Part 2 Print E-mail

AWCF Presents...
Bishop Samuel Smith
The Chairman's Letter

Bishop Samuel Smith is honored among Apostolics across the globe as a modern day Apostle. His views and insights target the contemporary Apostolic Church's most pressing needs. Bishop is the General Chairman of the Apostolic World Christian Fellowship [AWCF]. He travels the world as a vibrant crusader for Christ and the Apostolic Message.

For a transcript of this and past articles from Bishop Smith click here

Make America's Church Great Again, Part 2
Bishop Samuel L. Smith

Lot is not my favorite character in the Bible, he leaves much to be desired; but, the Bible records that even Lot "was vexed" by what he witnessed  in his day, (see II Peter 2:7,8). How many in the American Apostolic Church are truly vexed at the condition of our nation? If they are, where are the desperate prayer meetings, and powerful evangelistic outreaches, focused on the saving of souls.

"If sinners be lost, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies.  If they perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees.  Let no one go there unwarned and un-prayed for." - Charles Spurgeon

It is a sad commentary on the state of religion in America when T.D. Jakes, acclaimed by many, to be the best preacher in America, was recently interviewed by the Huffington Post, saying that he had transitioned in his opinion relative to homosexuality. According to Jakes; gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals, and transgenders, now have a place in the American church. Compare Jakes' newly discovered revelation to the warning that Apostle Paul gave to the church at Rome; "Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator....For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, burned in their lust one toward another: men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet...Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them" (Romans 1:24-27&32).

The Huffington Post continued to laud and praise Jakes for his "focus on motivational subject matter in following one's dreams and passions as opposed to the eternal destiny of the soul." What a contrast to the teaching of our Lord Jesus, who said; "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36). When the alleged best preacher in America is lauded for his expressions for the temporal world as opposed to the eternal; it is an indictment of both the spiritual atmosphere of America, and the present American clergy. Unless America can aptly discern the difference between the messages of T. D. Jakes and the Lord Jesus Christ;  how can America be great again?

"Eternity to the godly is a day that has no sunset; eternity to the wicked is a night that has no sunrise." - Thomas Watson

Apostle Paul, author of most of the New Testament was "stirred" by the decadence he saw in Athens, (see Acts 7:16). The noted revivalist Leonard Ravenhill has described why he believed Paul was so stirred: "He was angry at the power of false religion to delude the people. He was angry at the reckless devotion of those devotees to powerless gods. He was angry at the staggering wealth sacrificially given to build temples to frauds. He was angry that Christ was cheated of the love which He should have had from men and women who could have been born of the Spirit of God. He was angry that within a heart's beat of an eternal and inconceivably horrible hell men could eat, drink, and be merry. He was angry that the intellectuals mocked at the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ." It is only fair to ask; "does any of this sound familiar to our day and time, and where is the "grief of Paul" amongst us?"

Dr. J. B. Phillips provides us perhaps the best interpretation of Paul's reaction when beholding scholarly Athens infested with idolatry; "While Paul was there, his soul was exasperated beyond endurance at the sight of the city so completely idolatrous." Are we exasperated enough? How can America be great again, with a church that is lukewarm and at ease; in an endless quest for prosperity and comfort; and for the most part ignoring the lostness and decadence of their home-land?

"Brethren, when we get humble enough, and low enough, and desperate enough, and hungry enough, and concerned enough, and passionate enough, and broken enough, and clean enough, and prayerful enough, then God will send us a Revival that equals and surpasses the awakening this country experienced in the days of Charles Finney. I offer it as my considered opinion that the main reason why we do not have heaven-born, Spirit-operated revival in our day is that WE ARE CONTENT TO LIVE WITHOUT IT." - Leonard Ravenhill

The American Apostolic Church will never be great again, until the zeal of His house consumes us. The American Apostolic Church must be vexed and stirred again!!!

The jury is in, too many Apostolics are caught up with the cares of life, and ---- in our hearts we know it is true. Note what C.S. Lewis said in the 1960's, lamenting the state of American churches then; "If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the next world that they have become so ineffective in this."

"We are playing church. We are so busy trying to be relevant to the world that we have become just like the world....AND the world is not impressed." - Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Jesus promised that we will sit down with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (see Matthew 8:11, Luke 13:28).  I have often found myself thinking of eternity, the length thereof, what we will do forever? I find great joy in thinking about fellowshipping with the biblical giants of faith; Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; Samuel, David and Isaiah; Elijah, Elisha, and Jeremiah; Peter, James and John, and on and on. 

I found this article, old and yellowed, clipped out and saved in my beloved Mother's Bible after she passed away. It read: "How each Apostle died. All of them were insulted by enemies of their Master. They were called to seal their doctrines with their blood and nobly they bear the trial." Matthew suffered martyrdom by being slain with a sword at a distant city of Ethiopia. Mark expired at Alexandria, Egypt, after being cruelly dragged through the streets of that city. Luke was hanged upon an olive tree in the classic land of Greece. John was put in a caldron of boiling oil, but escaped in a miraculous manner, and was afterward banished to Patmos. Peter was crucified at Rome with his head downward. James, the Greater, was beheaded at Jerusalem. James, the less, was thrown from a lofty pinnacle of the temple, and then beaten to death with a fuller's club. Bartholomew was flayed (skinned) alive. Andrew was bound to a cross, and preached to his persecutors until he died. Thomas was run through the body with a lance in India. Jude was shot to death with arrows. Matthias was first stoned and then beheaded. Barnabas was stoned to death at Salonica. Paul, after various tortures and persecutions, was finally beheaded at Rome by the Emperor Nero. Such was the fate of the Apostles.

Does the American Church, reveling in the pleasures of this present world, its prosperity and entertainment; too busy to pray, and relegating church attendance to what is easiest for our otherwise busy schedule; do we have the right to be in the same Heaven as the first disciples of Christ?

Music plays a major role in church. Throughout history mankind has entertained, comforted, and expressed himself through music. "REJOICE in the Lord, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright. Praise the Lord with harp; sing unto him with psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. Sing unto him a new song; play skillfully with a loud noise" (Psalm 33:1-3). "PRAISE ye the Lord. Praise God in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals, praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord" (Psalm 150:1-6). Simply stated, He is drawn to praise, and comes in and makes Himself at home where there is sincere, biblical praise.

"Judah" means praise, the tribe of Judah moved ahead of Israel, whenever God sent them traveling in their quest for the promised land. At the encampment of Israel, the Tabernacle was always the center of all of the tribes, and Judah was at the gate of the outer enclosure. Those coming and going to serve the Lord, had to come through "Judah" (praise).

David said; "But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel" (Psalm 22:3). God dwells in the midst of praise; He literally comes down and makes Himself at home where there is praise. Any true born-again believer has witnessed true praise, and can rightfully discern the same. If Satan cannot stop praise, he will try to corrupt it. The originators of Rock music, confessed that their greatest times of creative genius came amidst sexual promiscuousness, and drugs. The former governor of Minnesota, an atheist, Jesse Ventura, in his quest for legalized marijuana has said; "Rock music, sex, and drugs go together; Rock and sex are legal, why shouldn't marijuana be legal." It does not a genius to connect the dots.

Who will dispute that the world has crept into Christian music? It is a matter of fact that a growing number of Gospel music entertainers have "come out of the closet" as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual; while others openly live an immoral lifestyle. Basically, they could not make it in Nashville, or the bright lights and big-time in the music world, so they started in the gullible Gospel market, selling product to an undiscerning, lukewarm, if not altogether cold Christian market, craving entertainment rather than reasonable commitment to the Lord. What did Jesus mean? - "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (I John 2:15).

There are many modern, even contemporary gospel songs that are anointed and moving. We need to pray for discernment and cast out the worldly sound, AND---its spirit from the sanctuary! Let's make the Church great again." It is possible, or else why was the promise made, "In the last days, that God would pour out His Spirit upon all flesh" (see Acts 2:17). But, we must pray, believe, and accept the promise that God will "Revive His work," (see Habakkuk 3:2).

Immigration is a debate throughout our nation. Legal immigration is good, but, when a country loses control of its borders, it is disastrous. That country will then lose its security, and its cultural identity. We Americans are all children of immigrants, but our forefathers came in one door, and became Americans, first and only. Today, so many are coming in who never intend to assimilate, they despise American values and customs, even desiring to destroy the very country that has prospered them and saved them from persecution, death, and starvation.

There is a spiritual parallel. All members of the Body of Christ were aliens first, lost, outside of the Kingdom of God; but each came through the door Jesus Christ legally, the way He prescribed, the Church, built upon the Rock; repented, born of the water and the Spirit, baptized in the only name under heaven whereby men must be saved and filled with the Holy Ghost; challenged to live an overcoming life of service to our God and unto our fellowman as witnesses to the power of the Gospel, living ready to meet Him whenever He calls, be it by death or the catching away of the Church at His promised return.

I fear that many American Apostolic churches have lost control of their borders, and the results have been, and will increasingly become disastrous. I have observed a trend of those slipping into the church another way. I heard one Apostolic pastor say; "It is so easy to win people today, once we insisted that they believe before they belonged, now we say they can belong before they believe." That statement is incredible, when compared to what our Lord Jesus claimed...."He (himself) is the door, and; he that entereth not by the door; but...some other way, the same is a thief and a robber" (see John 10:1). The Lord Jesus Christ, Himself mandated that, "...except you repent, you all will perish" (see Luke 13:3). Apostle Peter, the man with the keys of the Kingdom, when asked by the inquiring crowd on the day of Pentecost when the Church was born; "What shall we do?" he answered first, "Repent" (see Acts 2:37-38).

"The depth of a revival will be determined exactly by the depth of the spirit of repentance." - Frank Bartleman

"I am convinced that many evangelicals are not truly and soundly converted. Among the evangelicals it is entirely possible to come into membership, to ooze in by osmosis, to leak through the cells of the church and never know what it means to be born of the Spirit and washed in the blood." - A. W. Tozer

Multitudes have come to our churches because they desire the blessing, the comfort, and fellowship with the Lord Jesus. They want the birthright and benefits of the church without truly assimilating into biblical identity. Jesus taught us to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow him, (see Luke 9:23). They are not willing to pluck things out, cut things off, as Jesus taught his disciples for the sake of establishing His overcoming Church with safe boundaries, disciplines and values (see Matthew 5:29-30). They are not willing to die out to the flesh, as Paul taught; nor do they desire to put on the whole armor of God in order to be victorious in spiritual warfare. They are not willing to pay the price of apostolic discipleship. They want to enjoy the banquet without the battle. They want a first-class ticket, without paying the price. Even worse, they bring worldly attitudes into the church. Having never truly died out to the flesh, they bring in their worldly values, lusts, agendas, and rebellion to both God's and man's authority. It becomes a matter who is converting who? Are souls conforming to the spiritual model taught by Jesus and his apostles, or in the rush for numbers, do we accommodate the masses to build our membership rolls to the point that their behavior blends into, and eventually the mix becomes the standard of a compromised church, to the detriment of all.

"The church has paid a high price for numbers." - Leonard Ravenhill

"The chief danger of the 20th century will be; religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, heaven without hell." - William Booth

"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, if any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me" (Matthew 16:24). ----"The old cross slew men, the new cross entertains them. The old cross condemned, the new cross amuses. The old cross destroyed confidence in the flesh; the new cross encouraged it." - A. W. Tozer

"Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest" (John 4:35). Several decades ago, I remember a national radio program called "Harvest Time," there was such an anointing in the voice of the announcer and the introductory theme song, and the weekly message relative to the urgency of the hour; immediately one wanted to pray, witness, and draw nearer to God.

We Apostolics must return to our first love. Jesus did not say that the end-time church had "lost" their first love; (see Revelation 2:4) but, had "left" it. It should still be there.  We have to go back and find it. There is still time. Let's make the Apostolic Church in America, great again.

"I offer it as my considered opinion that the main reason why we do not have heaven-born, Spirit-operated revival in our day is that WE ARE CONTENT TO LIVE WITHOUT IT. Brethren, when we get humble enough, and low enough, and desperate enough, and hungry enough, and concerned enough, and passionate enough, and broken enough, and clean enough; then God will send us a revival that equals and surpasses the awakening this country experienced in the days of Charles Finney"- Leonard Ravenhill (Note: Finney was a powerful evangelist in early American history).

God promised; "If my people, which are called by my name, (that is us) shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, (we must) and turn from their wicked ways; (at ease and lukewarm, the deadly sins of God's people) then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land (America)." - II Chronicles 7:14

" Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us" (Ephesians 3:20).

The end-time prophet Daniel foretold: "...but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits" (Daniel 11:32).

The Apostolic Church in America can be great again. God is willing, are we?

 
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