How can we expect people to follow our faith when we have stopped believing? How can we expect God to hear our prayers when we are faithless?
Secularists often say gleefully that the Church is dying. It’s an outmoded relic, they say, of a bygone age – pure and simple superstition, disproved by science! At every level this can be challenged, but strangely the ‘Church’ says very little, seeming almost to collude with the lie. Thus, instead of denouncing what passes for the new morality, increasingly we are endorsing and affirming it, even going to the lengths of drawing up a liturgy for same sex marriage. Similarly, it’s very, very rare today that church leaders ever speak out against abortion – because we don’t want to upset the huge numbers of women in our congregations who might have terminated the life of their unborn child. At the same time we hold multi-faith services in our churches and cathedrals up and down the land, congratulating ourselves on our inclusivity and open mindedness – telling ourselves that this is the way to encourage unity and peace, while ignoring the first commandment, ‘You shall have no other god beside me’.
The truth is that in multicultural Britain life is cheap and sexual immorality the norm, while obedience to the precepts of the Bible is increasingly presented as open to question, or even irrelevant. God either didn’t mean what He said, we’re told patronisingly, or He got it wrong. In fact, the message of the greater part of the established Church today, as articulated by the Most Revd Michael Curry, presiding bishop and primate of the Episcopal Church in his address at the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, is ‘All you need is love.’
With respect, this is the gospel according to John Lennon, courtesy of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and has little, if anything, to do with the gospel of Christ. Yes, as Christians, we are enjoined to love, and not judge – but first and foremost, we are commanded to obedience to God, and to separate ourselves from sin. In other words, we are commanded unreservedly to love the sinner, but to condemn the sin.
Yet increasingly the official line taken by the Church – of all denominations – is no more than a mishmash of vapid platitudes designed to minimise affront, with the inevitable result that many intellectually compromised Christians don’t just love the sinner, but love sin as well! In both word and deed!
How have we got to this position?
God alone knows. But if this is what Christians today call ‘faith’, can we really be surprised when the Lord seems deaf to our prayers? ‘End poverty and give peace in our time, Oh Lord,’ we cry, ‘but don’t expect us to honour you as the One true God.’
The truth is that we live in an evil generation which every day grows worse – with the devil fighting might and main to claw back control, spewing out lies that, even a generation ago, would have produced outrage and fierce rejection. We have been beguiled by the serpent, and the judgement of God without any shadow of doubt draws near.
But it doesn’t have to be like this. There is still time to repent.
The gospel of Christ is a gospel of power. In John 14, Jesus promised the disciples, ‘…He that believeth on me, shall do the works that I do; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to my Father.’
That wasn’t an ‘if’, or a ‘maybe’; it was Christ’s absolute assurance that, if we believe in him and are obedient to the Father’s commands, we shall move in the power of God. That promise remains equally true today. The Lord’s sacrifice was once and complete, and the power of the Spirit is promised to us unconditionally … provided only we live in faithfulness and obedience, honouring God in all we say and do.
The toothless and compromised gospel of the Church of England is the reason it is dying on its feet – and rightly so. Yet Christianity is not just alive, but flourishing. We have a gospel of power. All that is required for that power to become manifest and for God’s blessing to be released is our faithfulness and obedience to His word.