This week the blog is sponsored by The Good Book Company. This post was written by Juan Sanchez.
There’s never been a more dangerous time for the church. It’s swimming against the moral tide of culture, and is, frankly, struggling to keep its head above water. From the outside, it faces growing oppression from tyrannical rulers and the reality of increasing persecution at the hands of an anti-Christian majority. From within, some church leaders are leading Christians astray with new and seemingly more attractive interpretations of Scripture. And those who are trying to stay faithful are left scratching their heads in bewilderment, at a loss over how to respond. The situation looks incredibly bleak.
But here’s the thing: the church I’ve described in the paragraph above is not, as you might have assumed, the church in the West today. It’s a church in an entirely different time and place—Asia Minor in the 1st century—and the original recipients of the book of Revelation.
Another church, two thousand years ago and several thousand miles away, and yet something in their experience rings true with our own today. And it’s no surprise, because your church faces the same dangers at the hands of the same enemy, employing the same methods, using the same tools. Except that nowadays, that looks a little different. It looks like Christians being mocked on talk shows or sneered at on social media. It looks like Christians cowed into silence in their workplace because they fear losing their job. It looks like church leadership teams falling out over theological differences. It looks like denominations embracing a new definition of marriage. It looks like churches closing down and being snapped up by developers to be converted into something more “relevant.” It looks like congregations losing heart because attendance is dwindling and the soul of their nation just seems so irreversibly lost.
Two Types of Churches
There’s no denying it. There’s no point burying your head in the sand. Every church is in danger—and that includes yours. In fact, there are only really two kinds of churches: those who are soberly aware of the risks and are prepared to face them, and those who are carrying on completely unaware.
The devil is prowling on both. The question is: what are you going to do about it?
The good news is that Jesus has already done something about the dangers facing your church—he wrote us a letter.
Most of us don’t usually think of the book of Revelation as a letter, but that’s what it is. It has a typical opening greeting and concluding blessing, and was written to and meant to circulate among seven churches in Asia Minor—what is now most of modern-day Turkey. Jesus wrote it in order to “show to his servants the things that must soon take place” (1 v 1). He intended to equip them to conquer these satanic threats to their faithful witness to Christ and his gospel.
Revelation exposes the full, terrible extent of the danger and opposition your church faces, but—wonderfully—it also points us to the utter glory, majesty, and power of the Lamb who was slain for us, and who has won the victory.
Your church faces dangers, but don’t lose hope—because all who endure faithfully to the end will return to the restored Eden. We will dwell in the most holy and glorious new Jerusalem. And most importantly, we will live in God’s presence, where there will be no more pain, no more sorrow, no more cancer, no more birth defects, no more broken marriages, no more sibling rivalries, no more external hostilities, no more oppressive governments, no more evil, no more death. Everyone who conquers “will have this heritage, and [God] will be his God and he will be [God’s] son” (Revelation 21 v 7).
Your church faces dangers, but don’t try to brush them aside—let them cause you to long for Christ’s return. All the sin and evil we now experience remind us that this world is corrupt and needs to be renewed. All the dangers we now face as a church push us to long for the return of Christ, when he will vindicate us and bring us into our eternal home.
Your church faces dangers, but don’t ignore them. Instead, let them awaken you from your spiritual slumber and spur you on toward greater zeal for Christ and the mission he has given his church. For too long, we’ve been asleep. The time to awaken is now.
Your church faces dangers, but don’t be paralyzed by fear. Do something about them! Decide which dangers your church is most at risk of, and then prayerfully consider what needs to change. It is one thing to see the traps, but now we need to step out in faith and trust the guide to navigate around them.
Your church faces dangers, but don’t be surprised. Jesus has given us the words of Revelation “to show his servants what must soon take place” in order that we would not be taken aback by the coming difficulties (22 v 6). We can trust these promises because Jesus’ words are trustworthy and true (21 v 5), and as the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, he both initiates history and brings it to its conclusion (21 v 6). Jesus is God’s King, sovereign over all history, and he will accomplish all his holy will.
We are not promised “happily ever after” in this life, but rest assured, our “happily ever after” is coming. Our King has already slayed the dragon. He will return for his perfected bride. And he will bring us home.
When? He is coming soon! So, prepare yourself, and pray, “Come, Lord Jesus” (22 v 20)!
Until that day, “the grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen” (v 21).
This article is taken from the introduction and conclusion to Seven Dangers Facing Your Church by Juan Sanchez (The Good Book Company, March 2018). Order it now on Amazon.com, TheGoodBook.com, or from your preferred Christian retailer.
Read a FREE sample from Seven Dangers Facing Your Church.
Download a chapter about the danger of self-sufficiency by submitting your email address in the form below.