Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Forgotten Fire

     At a recent mission conference, we heard from a young family planning to travel to Edinburgh, Scotland to work with a church there.  They reported that nearly 7,000 churches have closed their doors in this beautiful country and only a small portion of the population consider themselves believers.  It is mind boggling to consider these facts since Scotland was a country that took the lead in expounding the Word of God during the Reformation.  However, I do recall that when we visited Edinburgh we stopped in the Cathedral of St. Giles.  In this glorious building, we found a document of enormous importance tucked away in a side corner of the church.  On a stand covered in glass was the document of the original Covenanters (1638) many of whom gave up their lives for their beliefs in the tenants of the Reformed faith.  They held that the Bible was the very foundation of their faith and that Christ was the head of the church not a monarch.  Nearly 18,000 died in the struggle to win their freedom to worship God as they felt called to do.  Today, though, much of the fire is forgotten not unlike that important document stuck out of the way in the church.  There is a lesson we all need to take away from this historical event.
      Scotland is not the only nation who has churches closing, and a growing disinterest in the Christian faith.  It is easy to see in our own culture how many have turned to secular humanism as their religion of choice.  Relativism rules the day where what is true for you may not be true for me.  In the book of Revelation, we see this in the Church at Laodicea (Chapter 3:14-22):  "14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write the following:

National Covenant of 1638
“This is the solemn pronouncement of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the originator of God’s creation: 15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot! 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth! 17 Because you say, “I am rich and have acquired great wealth, and need nothing,” but do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked, 18 take my advice and buy gold from me refined by fire so you can become rich! Buy from me white clothing so you can be clothed and your shameful nakedness will not be exposed, and buy eye salve to put on your eyes so you can see! 19 All those I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent! 20 Listen! I am standing at the door and knocking! If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come into his home and share a meal with him, and he with me. 21 I will grant the one who conquers permission to sit with me on my throne, just as I too conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 The one who has an ear had better hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”
     Our Lord Jesus Christ rightly pointed out that this church was only lukewarm.  There was no fire to be found in their hearts; instead, they were satisfied with where they were and with what they had. They didn't need anything or so they thought.  The sad part was that this church had lost its love for Jesus Christ.  They had taken their faith, put it under a glass frame and tucked it on the side of the church building so it would not be in the way.  Yet, according to the Lord, they were wretched, poor, pitiful, blind and naked in their ignorance.  Are we not the same when we neglect the elemental study of God's Word to seek out His wisdom, search His doctrine and find His truth?  Trusting in ourselves will gain us nothing but hungering and thirsting after His righteousness will enrich our lives and stoke the fire of faith.
     Never has there been a more important time in our history than now to revive our souls through repentance, study of His Word, and prayer.  Revival, renewal and restoration come when we begin in our own lives first and then carry the fire of God's truth to others.  This is how we change hearts and lives through the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  If we want more effective churches, more genuine preaching and a change in our culture, we need to be willing to begin in our lives.  Then, like the covenanters, we must be willing to take a stand for truth despite the consequences.  Our churches are not meant to be a museum for saints where we remember great times in the past.  They are to be, instead, a place where the fire of faith burns brightly based upon God's Word.  Jesus said to the Laodicean Church that He stands at the door and knocks.  The question is, "Will we be willing to open it quickly and allow His presence to fill us up?"  Let us pray for our churches everywhere that the fire of God's truth will be kindled in hearts anew.  Selah!

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