I believe that widespread revival will come to the world. However, I don’t believe revival will come at the expense of purity in the Church (whether it is pure doctrine, pure worship, or pure living). While there are some encouraging trends today in regards to the spread of the Gospel, there exists a need for a strong warning against compromise in the Church in the name of “outreach” or “evangelism.”
The goal of true Christian outreach (evangelism and discipleship and missions) is to bring about the pure worship of Christ in Gospel churches throughout the world. Many have misunderstood this and sought to set up churches to attract the lost. This has led many to focus mainly on creating churches that appeal to the unbeliever—whether it is through a seeker-friendly message, or other less than savory means.
In fact, this mindset has led one so-called “celebrity pastor” to boast about attracting huge followers in a highly “secular” city. (It’s no wonder though, when the “church” offers the culture exactly what it wants: a veneer of Christianity, a laid-back atmosphere, and, in this case, lots of sex-talk.) Any discussion that would presume to critique this pseudo-pastor’s behavior is simply answered with an appeal to how much he is “doing for Jesus”—how many people from a godless city are attending his churches. Again and again, it is “look at my results,” don’t question my methods.
Sadly, due in large part to pseudo-pastors such as this, “hip Christianity” has been all the rage in evangelical (and even presumably Reformed) circles for some time now. Celebrity pastors, laid-back worship services claiming to be Reformed, and a focus on outreach at the expense of purity has infiltrated thousands of churches. Revival will tarry so long as this is tolerated. Zeal for pure worship consumed Jesus and it must likewise consume His followers.
For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me, and the rebukes of them that rebuked thee, are fallen upon me. (Psalm 69:9, GNV)
The Reformers, in reference to this verse, commented, “When I saw thine enemies pretend thy Name only in mouth, and in their life deny the same, thine holy Spirit, thrust me forward, to reprove them and defend thy glory” (Geneva Bible). Am I accusing all people involved with such pseudo-pastors as being false converts? No. But I fear that many are. And I urge all true believers in such a diluted form of Christian worship to, “Go out of her, [God’s] people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” (Revelation 18:4, GNV). When the secular media can recognize a man for what he is—anything but “unreproveable and well reported of them which are without [the church]” (1 Timothy 3:2, 7)—and yet the Church continues to excuse such compromise, we are in great need of a cleansing in the Church.
The Gospel will triumph as it spreads through the world. But we must not forget what the result of the conversion of the nations will be: worship of Christ. The Church is Christ’s bride—she exists to worship Him and be a light to the nations, and all nations will come to worship Jesus Christ.
All the ends of the world shall remember themselves and turn to the Lord, and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee. For the kingdom is the Lord’s, and he ruleth among the nations. (Psalm 22:27-28, GNV)
Let’s be done with “hip Christianity.” Let’s be done with celebrity pseudo-pastors. Let’s be done with the defiling of the church in the name of outreach. The best outreach to a lost nation is a pure Church, proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ while living a pure and chaste life, free from “filthiness” and “foolish talking” (Ephesians 5:4). We need to stop corrupting the worship of our King for the sake of reaching the culture.
Until the Lord comes, Christians will always have opportunity to evangelize the lost, speaking the truth in all situations of life. I love evangelism—I consistently urge Christians to be bolder in their speaking of God’s Word in every sphere of life—but a corrupted Church (I don’t care how big) is detrimental to biblical evangelism. I am all about outreach to the lost, warning them and urging them to trust in Christ for the forgiveness of sins. But I refuse to abandon the pure worship of my King for the fancies of those who hate him. May God change the hearts of those in a lost culture, giving them a desire to worship Him. And be assured of this: They won’t need a rock star pseudo-pastor to bring them in. God will bring them in (John 7:44).
Indeed “the purest churches under heaven are liable to be troubled by mixture and error,” however there does reach a point when a church has “so far degenerated as no longer to be [a church] of Christ at all, but [a] ‘synagogue of Satan’” (1689 Confession). Revival in our land starts in the Church. The old adage is true: you can’t give what you don’t have. If this “hip Christianity” is what we are peddling, it is an insipid, idolatrous message we have. Return to the ancient paths and proclaim the glories of Christ and the holy requirements for His chaste bride, the Church. Then we will have revival in our land.