George Barna, the lead researcher at the Cultural Research Center, explained in a statement. “’Christian’ has become somewhat of a generic term rather than a name that reflects a deep commitment to passionately pursuing and being like Jesus Christ.”
Of an estimated 176 million American adults who identify as Christian, just 6% or 15 million of them actually hold a biblical worldview, a new study from Arizona Christian University shows.
The study shows, in general, that while a majority of America’s self-identified Christians, including many who identify as evangelical, believe that God is all-powerful, all-knowing and is the Creator of the universe, more than half reject a number of biblical teachings and principles, including the existence of the Holy Spirit.
Strong majorities also errantly believe that all religious faiths are of equal value, people are basically good and that people can use acts of goodness to earn their way into Heaven. The study further showed that majorities don’t believe in moral absolutes; consider feelings, experience, or the input of friends and family as their most trusted sources of moral guidance; and say that having faith matters more than which faith you pursue.
One of the most disturbing results was that most adult US Christians don’t believe Holy Spirit is real. Some 62% of self-identified born-again Christians contend that the Holy Spirit is not a real, living being but is merely a symbol of God’s power, presence or purity. These people obviously do not believe the Bible is God’s Word because it reveals that unless a person is born again with the Holy Spirit, Jesus will say to them on judgement day “depart from me I do not know you”. Jesus told the disciples the Parable of the Ten Virgins to show us what the church will be like in the last days before His return. All were asleep when He came and half were not born again.
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise... the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’” Matthew 25:1-12
With most of the denominational churches in the USA accepting gay marriage and transgender priests it is obvious that these Cultural Research Center figures are an accurate depiction of the church and fits with the Bible’s prophesied apostasy in the last days.
“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereasworldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you …” 2 Corinthians 7:10-11
To get into Christ’s Kingdom, you have to truly repent, truly dying to self so that you cannot go back to your old life. Paul talks about godly grief, being convicted by the Holy Spirit about your sin. Knowing how abhorrent sin is to God you will have “godly grief that leads to repentance“. You will also realise how good, how gracious and merciful God was to send His Son, Jesus, to pay the price for your sin of rebellion against Him and His values.
Once we have truly repented and accepted Jesus as our Saviour and Lord, God the Father sends the Holy Spirit to indwell our spirit. God’s Word tells us thatour spirit is the lamp of the Lord and a lamp requires oil (Holy Spirit) to function as God intended. When Adam and Eve sinned the Holy Spirit departed their spirit, so they died spiritually immediately and their bodies died some 900 years later.
“The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts.” Proverbs 20:27
Without the Holy Spirit we cannot live the Christian life. He is the one that brings about the sanctification process, making you Christ like. He is the one that produces the fruit of the Spirit in your life; love, joy, peace patience, faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, kindness and self control. He is also one that provides the gifts of the Spirit for ministry; words of knowledge, words of wisdom, prophecy, faith, healings, miracles, discerning of spirits, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues. You are not saved unless the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit are evident in your life.
Sadly, there are many people sitting in the pews of churches that have not experienced “godly grief that produces a repentance that leads to salvation“. The “end times” parable of the Ten Virgins tells us that half of them that are waiting for the bridegroom (Jesus) to return do not have oil for their lamps and Jesus tells them to depart from me I do not know you. This parable reveals that half the people in the “end times” church that think they are Christians and are waiting for Him to return are not saved and will be on earth when the wrath of God is poured out with the Trumpet and Bowl judgements.
For Christians this should be a wake up call, we have a mission field in our churches people who need to experience “godly grief that produces a repentance that leads to salvation.”
Faith in Christ comes first, which is a miracle of the Holy Spirit in the spirit of man.
“Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit” John 3:6
“The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts.” Proverbs 20:27
The spirit of man (like a lamp requires oil) requires the Holy Spirit to function as God intended. At the Fall of Man the Holy Spirit departed from Adam and Eve’s spirits. Jesus made it possible for our Heavenly Father to send the Holy Spirit to once again indwell believers spirits.
Without saving faith, you only have human reason upon which to base your decision concerning the truthfulness of Christianity. You need to be raised up to a higher level in order to know for sure that Christianity is true.
Would you like to receive the forgiveness of sins as well as sanctified reason from your Creator?
If so, “Repent and believe the good newsof what Jesus has accomplished for you” (Mark 1:15). In those few words, Jesus presented man with the only path to eternal life on a new earth and heaven. Are you on it? And if not, do you want to be on it?
The Apostle John under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit taught people how to know if their religion was fake:
“Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps His word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in Him: whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.” 1 John 2:4-9
“By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.” 1 John 3:10
“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.” 1 John 3:14
The Apostle John also taught people to know if they had eternal life.
“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life”1 John 5:13
This knowledge of eternal life through faith in Christ is what then confirms to a believer that Christianity is true.
“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” Romans 8:16
This explains how I know Christianity is true. What about you? Are you trusting Christ alone for salvation? It is the only way to be forgiven of your sins, and the only way to receive the anointing and sanctified reason. This is how you can come to know that Christianity is true.
Without the new birth by the Holy Spirit, a person remains in spiritual darkness and only rises as high as his intellect and human reason can take him.
Pray for religious freedom so that we can love God and love our neighbour as we do ourselves. However, as the following Scripture makes clear, this does not necessarily mean loving people as they want to be treated. True love is leading people to the truth about God and His righteousness. This must be the ultimate purpose of our actions. People need to know the hard truths about God and themselves and particularly the need for repentance. Sadly, this is not what they want to hear. They want to hear we acknowledge and approve of their sinful behaviour. The result, they are the victims and we are the oppressors.
“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-7
What we are experiencing should not come as a surprise, Jesus tells us that people will hate us when we stand up for the truth about God and His righteousness.
“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.Luke 6:22-23
This website Living Eternal Now is all about getting you into the scriptures that reveal the truth about God, this life and history of the world.
Are you born again with the Holy Spirit indwelling your spirit? Without Him you are not saved. Jesus made it possible for our Heavenly Father to send the Holy Spirit to be our counsellor, comforter, teacher. He is the one that produces the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, kindness and self control ) in our lives. He controls the sanctification process, He makes available the gifts of the Spirit for ministry (1 Corinthians 12:1-11). Without Him you can do nothing that has eternal value.
Jesus told the Parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25: 1-13) to reveal that half the church (people who believe they are Christians) in the “last days” do not have the Holy Spirit and He tells them to go ” I do not know you”.
Are you Holy Spirit empowered to Live Eternal Now?
In the Book of Acts the Gospel bearers face threats, persecution, imprisonment, internal conflict, theological controversy, litigation, storms and shipwreck, but none of these impede the Gospel’s progress. The Gospel is the powerful instrument the Holy Spirit uses to produce believers – in Jerusalem, Samaria, Cyprus, Lystra, Derbe (city of Galatia) and throughout Europe. In rural areas (Acts 14) and philosophical centres (Acts17), the Gospel is equally at home, with the Holy Spirit revealing the truth of the Gospel.
Luke gives us statistical summaries to show the growth of the church (Acts 2:41; 4:4) and comments throughout on the health of the Word. In Chapter 6, when dissension breaks out in the church, Luke tells us ‘the word of God continued to increase and spread’ (v.7). In Chapter 12 when Herod has James killed, the word’s health is contrasted with Herod’s wormy death (v.24). In Chapter 19 when people burnt their magic scrolls to ash, the Word, he says, ‘continued to increase and prevail mightily’ (v.20).
If the title of the book of Acts were to be changed, I would suggest a title which included ’the unstop-ability of God’s Gospel’. What a refreshing encouragement to read this Holy Spirit-inspired book and be reminded that God’s purpose prevails.
“The purpose of God is to glorify himself by saving a people of his own, through hearing and believing the Gospel of his Son, as it is carried to the world by his Holy Spirit-empowered people”.
This abbreviated and slightly modified inspiring article by David Cook is from AP – Reformed Thought for Christian Living
A new peer-reviewed study published last month in the academic journal Sociology of Religion demonstrates that churches grow under persecution.
The study’s findings, outlined in Christianity Today by authors Nilay Saiya and Stuti Manchanda, buck conventional wisdom. In places where Christians enjoy official support from national governments, religious faith tends to decline. Conversely, Christianity spreads most successfully in countries with legal commitments to religious pluralism and in places that actively discriminate against and persecute believers.
These are the countries with the fastest growing Christian populations (the states with low/no official support for the faith are in bold): Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Uganda, Rwanda, Madagascar, Liberia, Kenya, DR Congo, and Angola.
And here are the countries with the fastest declining Christian populations (the states with moderate/high official support for the faith are in bold): Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Latvia, Estonia, Albania, Moldova, Serbia, Germany, Lithuania, and Hungary.
Hungary, for example, is an officially Christian nation. Even still, faith is waning: Although a majority of Hungarians identify as Catholic, only 12% regularly attend church services and just 14% describe religion as “very important” in their lives.
It is worth noting, as author Rod Dreher has, Prime Minister Victor Orban’s governance in Budapest is very much aligned with politically conservative Christian views. As such, the country has passed legislation to that end.
Nevertheless, Saiya and Manchanda argue that, in pluralistic societies, where religious ideologies coexist and must compete, for lack of a better word, Christianity — untethered from politics — often flourishes. Paradoxically, they found, “state favoritism of religion inadvertently suppresses it.”
That is due to the fact that, countries that are “officially Christian,” and even in the U.S., to an extent, Christianity may become less about a convictional relationship with Jesus and instead morph into just one aspect of a citizen’s larger national identity, resulting in faith being less about personal beliefs and more about cultural tradition.
On the other hand, the Christian faith has expanded most in Asian countries, where there’s no “official” faith and pluralism has been embraced: In contrast to Europe, Christianity in Asian countries has not been in a position to receive preferential treatment from the state, and this reality has resulted in stunning Christian growth rates. The Christian faith has actually benefited by not being institutionally attached to the state, feeding its growth and vitality.
Consider the case of South Korea, which in the course of a century has gone from being a country devoid of Christianity to one of its biggest exporters. It currently ranks as the second-largest sender of missionaries, trailing only the United States.
This example illustrates well the paradox of pluralism. Because South Korea is not a Christian country, Christianity enjoys no special relationship to the state. In fact, Christianity in Korea endured the brutal persecution of Japanese colonial rule, during which churches were forcibly closed down and their properties confiscated. Indeed, the church persisted through poverty, war, dictatorship, and national crises throughout Korean history.
Since World War II, Korean Christianity has grown exponentially, with tens of thousands of churches being built and seminaries producing thousands of graduates every year. Today, about a third of the country is Christian.
Christianity also seems to flourish — as it did for the early church leaders in Acts — in places where believers face discrimination and persecution.
The faith of those facing persecution for their convictions is often deeper and more profound, because the stakes are inherently higher when it’s not in one’s cultural best interest to embrace such beliefs.
Open Doors USA, an advocacy organization tracking Christian persecution around the globe, ranks Iran as the eighth-worst place in the world for believers. Despite facing “extreme” persecution — where the government has outlawed conversion from Islam, imprisons those who evangelize, and arrests people for attending secret house churches or sharing Christian literature — it’s believed there could be at least one million Christians in the Islamic country.
A similar phenomenon is believed to be unfolding in Afghanistan, which Open Doors lists as the second-worst place to be a Christian. There is only a small number of believers in the country, where it is illegal to convert from Islam, and those who do face certain imprisonment, violence, and potentially even death. Rula Ghani, the first lady of Afghanistan, is a Maronite Christian from Lebanon.
Outside the Middle East, the world’s largest persecuted body of believers is found in China, where the communist government continually discriminates against and harms Christians.
Much to President Xi Jinping’s chagrin, Protestant Christianity has continued to grow exponentially in China, where the government estimates some 200 million of its 1.5 billion citizens are believers.
Fenggang Yang, a sociologist of religion at Purdue University, said in 2019 he believes more Protestant Christians will live in China by 2030 than any other country in the world.
“When Communists took power in 1949, there were one million Protestants living in China, compared with 58 million in 2010 and probably around 100 million in 2019,” he said. “Despite the government’s efforts to suppress, I don’t think it will stop the growth of Christianity in China. All the evidence I have collected shows it’s undeniable; it’s already happening.”
If these numbers reveal anything to Christians, it is that believers should place their trust not in conventional wisdom, but in the often paradoxical work of the Holy Spirit.
Russian philosopher Fyodor Dostoevsky once lamented the deeply misguided belief held my many Christians “that Christ cannot reign without an earthly kingdom.”
It would be folly for the Christian to spend his or her life building an impenetrable kingdom on earth. We know from Scripture such an effort would be in vain. Psalm 46 says, “The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice and the earth melts. The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” And, in Matthew 24, Jesus told His disciples it is His authority alone that will stand the test of time: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
In Matthew 6, Jesus warned His followers against storing up treasures on earth, “where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.” Instead, He told them to invest in the eternal Kingdom of God.
Our ultimate hope, redemption, and restoration comes not in the protection of the state, which is never certain, but through salvation in Jesus, with whom we are heirs to a Kingdom operating outside the space and time of this temporal world.
With Pentecost Sunday coming up, it is an appropriate time for us to reconsider what Jesus made it possible for our Heavenly Father to do when He went to the Cross and died on our behalf.
Our Heavenly Father sends the Holy Spirit to indwell every believer to make it possible for us to live the Christian life.
“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.” – 1 Corinthians 2:12-13.
If we have the Spirit, our hearts will be gentle and kind.
If we have the Spirit, our intentions will be pure.
If we have the Spirit, our words will show compassion and not judgment.
If we have the Spirit, our lives will exhibit the fruit of spirit: love, joy, peace, faithfulness, gentleness, goodness, kindness and self control.
AndGod will give us the right words if we heed His Spirit. He will guide and guard our every step.
When we allow God’s word and His Spirit to shape our actions and our words, we are walking in the Spirit and pleasing God.
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.” Galatians 5:16-17
“Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21
How are you living your life? According to the works of the flesh or will you follow Jesus and commit your life to walking in the Spirit. It is never too late to make the right decision!
“The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” – Mathew 20:28, Mark 10:45.
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8
Bob Gallaty finally realises He was the problem in His church. The reason why churches are not seeing God move is the Holy Spirit is not directing them, particularly their leaders, and true prayer is absent. Pastors in particular need to watch this video.
Robby Gallaty is senior pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee. He spoke with Faithwire about his church having seen 1,048 people baptized from Dec. 20 to April 11. He spoke about how to lead a church, how to make space for the Holy Spirit, and how to pursue God in prayer in effective and meaningful ways.
Those who follow livingeternal.net know that I believe the end times church will be like the church described in the Book of Acts. Church is relational, home groups, and is about making disciples who in turn make disciples of Jesus. Therefore, I am not saying that Bob Gallaty has discovered the right model but he is certainly moving in the right direction.
“On the way to Jerusalem he (Jesus) was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:11-19
The only thing we can ever offer to God is Deep Gratitude for HIS amazing, undeserved Grace. In the above account, it is interesting that nine of the healed lepers (who presumably were Jews) lacked such gratitude because they did not see themselves as being in need of such grace, while the Samaritan ‘foreigner’ did!
A salutary warning to those of us, like me at 84 years of age, who have benefitted over many years from the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit: we can be too prone to take for granted our spiritual growth, and to think this growth is somehow our contribution to God, rather than His gift to us for which I am eternally grateful. I like the verse of the old hymn about the Holy Spirit’s work in us: “And every virtue we possess and every victory won, and every thought of holiness, are His alone.”
THOUGHTS ON MINISTRY
“Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.”2 Corinthians 4:1-3
What great comfort and instruction these verses provide for us as we labour in the work of the Gospel. Once we have experienced for ourselves the rich and comprehensive blessing of God’s saving grace, we have an overwhelming desire to share this blessing with others, especially those close to us and those who are really struggling with the burdens of our troubled world.
The Apostle Paul reminds us of some very important truths to keep in mind as we struggle.
Firstly, our own salvation, and our taking hold of it, was never a result of our work/efforts, but is only ever brought about by God’s Sovereign Mercy!
Secondly, and because of this, we must neverlose heart – If God managed to soften my proud, rebellious, self-centred, self-sufficient heart, he can do the same for anyone else as well!
Thirdly, we must never resort to using the world’s tactics/weapons, or to ‘watering down’ the claims of the Gospel, just to ‘get people in’. As he wrote to the Christians in Corinth: “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” (2 Corinthians 10:4).
Fourthly, although it might be twisted and deadened by SIN, Man-made-in-the-image-of-God still has a conscience that the Holy Spirit can use to convict of “sin and righteousness and Judgement” (John 16:8)!
Fifthly, it is not our job to change people – nor is it ever within our skill-set! Only God can remove the ‘veil’ that prevents people from coming to repentance-and-faith and thus dissociating themselves from all those who are ’perishing’. Our only job is to proclaim the Good News, Faithfully, Persistently and Prayerfully, whenever and wherever we can, and then to leave the outcome in God’s hands (1 Corinthians 3:6)!
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” ~ Matthew 7:13
This is a sobering verse and it is obvious that there is only one gate that leads to eternal life. The answer Jesus gave to Thomas makes it crystal clear there is only one way our Heavenly Father provided to break the curse of death that Adam brought on mankind.
“For our sake He (God the Father) made Him (God the Son) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.
It is very significant that David was given a vision of the gate even before Jesus paid the price of his and our salvation – “you have become my salvation”.
“Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the LORD. This is the gate of the LORD; the righteous shall enter through it. I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.” Psalm 118:19-21
“I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the LORD. The LORD has disciplined me severely, but he has not given me over to death.” Psalm 118:17-18
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit that now indwells your Spirit but strive to do as Jesus did and pray daily to the Father “not my will but Yours be done.” God the Father will answer that prayer ensuring that the Holy Spirit directs your steps and you are an instrument of righteousness to God.
Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts. And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.”Romans 6:11-13
“By this we may know that we are in Him: whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked.” 1 John 2:5-6