I grew up in a world heavily influenced by the Reformation. How thankful I am for those early Reformed pastors, teachers, missionaries, and martyrs through whom Christ worked over 400 years ago. The ministries of Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, Zacharius Ursinus, John Owen, and the Westminster Divines still bears fruit today.
I grew up in a land heavily influenced by pilgrims, puritans, and revivalists. Sure, there was a great difference between the puritans and pilgrims. In addition, there was an even greater difference between the practitioners of the First and Second Great Awakenings. America was shaped by independents and presbyterians; Calvinism was not equally beloved by all. Some preferred ministry in city-centers and church pews, others utilized tents and hit the sawdust trail. However, despite their distinctions, differences, and depravity, God used these men, their practices, and their institutions to affect millions of people. Through their labors, thousands of families called Christ their Lord, repented of their sins, and endeavored to walk in holiness. I am thankful for those early American pastors, teachers, missionaries, and evangelists through whom Christ worked over 200 years ago.
I grew up in a culture heavily influenced by famous Evangelical Superstars. Billy Graham, Charles Stanley, Chuck Colson, Chuck Swindoll, James Dobson, Adrian Rogers, Joni, James Boice, Steve Brown, and D. James Kennedy, were consistently filling the airwaves. Books by R.C. Sproul, Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, Jay Adams, and John Piper were filling up shelves. How thankful I am for the contribution of these men to my intellectual, relational, and spiritual development.
I grew up in region heavily influenced by famous Fundamentalists. Being raised in Greenville, South Carolina, I was thoroughly indoctrinated by Ian Pasley, Dwight L. Moody, Lester Roloff, Lee Roberson, Jerry Falwell, John Rice, and three men wearing the name of Bob Jones. And while there is some (perhaps even much) of their orthodoxy and orthoproxy that I now choose to dismiss, I am very thankful for their influence in my life. It was through such men and their institutions that I called upon Christ to be my Savior and Lord. A solid foundation was laid for reading the Word, worshiping with the church, walking in holiness, and working for Christ.
So now it is my turn. It is my turn to run the race. It is my turn to work in the fields. It is my turn to be a reformer, a revivalist, a puritan, a pilgrim, a pastor, a preacher, a teacher, a missionary, an evangelist — and maybe even a fundamentalist depending upon how one defines that term.
And it is your turn as well!
Brothers and sisters in Christ, we stand upon the shoulders of our fathers. The Christian baton has been passed to us. Consider the opportunity before us:
- Most of our Christian fathers are dead.
- All of our Christian fathers are dying.
- America is still the melting pot of the nations.
- America is falling apart.
- Familial dysfunction is all around us.
- Familial definition is being adjusted.
- Ecumenical spiritism is on the rise.
- Weird Christianity is on the rise.
- Orthodox Christianity is on the decline.
And yet, in the midst of it all:
- Christ is on the throne
- Christ is watching
- Christ is praying
- Christ is working; he has sent his Holy Spirit to pursue his ends
- Christ is growing his church like a mustard seed
- Christ is storming the gates of hell; they shall not stand or prevail
- Christ is building a kingdom that cannot fail
- Christ is gathering his elect; he is summoning all his sheep
- Christ is in the process of using men to do his sovereign and irresitible work
Therefore friends, it is time to have an attitude check. There is no need for despair. Christ has worked in perilous times before; he is in the process of doing so today.
It is also time to have a prayer check. In Matthew, Jesus said to his disciples:
The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. (Matthew 9:37-38)
It is also time to go to work. Brothers and sisters, it is time for a “Modern Reformation.” Personal, ecclesiastical, and national reform is what we need.
We need another pentecost or a “Third Great Awakening.” Oh that the Holy Spirit would be poured out in special measure yet again. “Revive us again” are the words of a famous hymn. Come, Holy Spirit, come!
Oh that orthodox evangelicalism might be proclaimed across the nation. May the sharpest of God’s servants pick up the mantels of Evangelism Explosion, Focus on the Family, and Promise Keepers. Oh that stadiums might again be filled with worshipers wishing to be taught the truths of God’s Word instead of the current Prosperity Gospel being peddled. Let us not give up using the cultural microphones that are available to us today.
In addition, let us learn from our Islamic Fundamentalists enemies and our Christian Fundamentalists friends. Both groups are passionate about personal evangelism. They seem to have it right. You see, God has called each of us as individuals to share the Gospel. One-by-one we are to work to rescue souls from the domain of Satan and bring them into the Kingdom of Light. Let us be sweet. Let us be winsome. Let us be compelling. Let us use the church. But let us be even more aggressive and intentional than those of Fundamentalist persuasion.
And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:35-36)
The need is great.
Our God is greater.
Let us pray that God might send forth his Spirit, in a mighty way, into his field.
Let us pray that God mighty send forth many men and women into his field.
Let us pray that God might answer our prayer and turn us into the Spirit-filled evangelists our world, land, culture, and region need so desperately. Our neighbors are lost sheep; they need the Shepherd.