At both I have been asked, "What is keeping you here?" This question was submitted in various lectures and sermons in regards to what is holding me back in not pursuing foreign missions. I have often wondered if there was something “unspiritual” about me. Although I did have a burden for the unreached people groups to hear the gospel, I myself never felt a peace to pursue foreign missions.
But overtime I have realized why that peace has never come.
God has given me a burden to reach my people with the Gospel.
He has kept my heart here.
The United States may have the largest amount of churches, but the people here are calloused and/or ignorant of the truth found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ—in what Jesus accomplished on the cross. Romans 6:10 says, “The death he died, he died to sin once for all…” Christ died to sin in two senses: (1) in regard to sin’s penalty—He met the legal demands upon the sinner; and (2) in regard to sin’s power—forever breaking its power over those who belong to Him; and His death will never need repeating.
This is not “the gospel” that the vast majority of Americans are hearing. Many are hearing a “health & wealth gospel”, a “do good things gospel”, etc. Everything and anything other than what is written in Romans 3:
“22This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”
In the South (the so-called “Bible-Belt” where there is a church on every corner), people are content with going to church and completing their share of “good” deeds as a means to enter the Kingdom. My church has gone door-to-door in 39 neighborhoods (some twice) here in the “good ‘ole south” with the Gospel. If I had a dollar for every time someone said, “I’m going to heaven because I do good things” or any other answer other than the correct one: Jesus Christ, there would be no need for my student loans.
Through public school, I have met many students whose faith in God is simply a clone of their parent’s “go-to-church-and-be-good” kind of faith. Many of my peers are growing up in the church with perfect Sunday School attendance only to walk out after their high school graduation never to darken another church door. To them going to church was a part of the “chore-list” their parents gave them as a kid. They new of Christ, but never knew Him.
And this is just the South. Since I have never permanently resided in any other region of the US, I’m not going to try to give an account for them. However, I am certain that by simply turning on the television, taking a glimpse at the popular magazines, checking out the latest box office hits, and/or walking on any secular university campus one can conclude that our nation as a whole is in desperate need of the Gospel.
So how does such a movement occur?
1. God. Revival always begins in the heart of God. But He will not heal our land until the second takes place.
2. When Christians start acting like Christians. After doing some study on different major revivals (The Great Welsh Revival, The First & Second Great Awakenings, etc.), It is clear that for a community to be awakened the church must first be revived. How does this happen? It begins when we as Christians call sin for what it is—sin. That which formerly had dominion over us. That which caused our initial separation from God. That which God hates. And that for which Christ came to set us free from by dying our death.
John MacArthur explains it best (this is awesome!!!):
“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” -2 Chronicles 7:14
Unlike ancient Israel, America is not a covenant nation. God has made no promise to our physical ancestors that guarantees our national status. If Israel had to fulfill the conditions for divine blessing, even though God had covenanted with them as His chosen people, America certainly has no inviolable claim on the blessing of God. As long as unbelief and disobedience to the Word of God color the soul of our nation, we cannot expect blessing of God. Israel didn’t get it in her unbelief.
But for those of us who are Christians, the covenant blessings do apply. “If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Galatians 3:29). All the promises of salvation, mercy, forgiveness of sins, and spiritual prosperity are ours to claim as long as we remain faithful to God.
That is why the spiritual state of the church in our nation is the key to the blessing of the nation as a whole. If God is going to bless America, it will not be for the sake of the nation itself. He blesses the nation, and has always done so, for the sake of His people. If we who are called by His name are not fulfilling the conditions for divine blessing, there is no hope whatsoever for the rest of the nation.
On the other hand, if the church is fit to receive God’s blessing, the whole nation will be the beneficiary of that, because the Word of god will be proclaimed with power, God will add to His church, and spiritual blessings of all kinds will result. And those are the truest blessings of all.
(BTW: I am in no way, shape, or form trying to minimize the need for the Gospel overseas. I just hope that we will again see the need that is right here in our own “backyard”.)
COMMENTS FOR DISCUSSION WELCOME.
Excerpt taken from The MacArthur Bible Commentary.
MacArthur, John. The MacArthur Bible Commentary. “2 Chronicles 7:14 and America.” (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005) 498.