Concerning oppressive powers, Thomas Jefferson said in the Declaration of Independence: “All experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” Put another way (if you will allow me to paraphrase) as long as we can justify doing nothing and saying nothing against evil for fear of rocking the boat, we will tolerate just about anything. This is as true not only in culture but also as it relates to the Church. “Lighten my eyes lest I sleep the sleep of death” (Psalm 13:3).
Sinfulness, worldliness, false doctrine, and self-serving prophets are oppressive forces. Yet, as Jefferson points out, we are often “disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable” rather than we are to speak up.
General Douglas McArthur in his often quoted statement about war says this: “The history of the failure of war can be summed up in two words: ‘too late.’”
- Too late in comprehending the deadly purpose of a potential enemy.
- Too late in realizing the mortal danger.
- Too late in uniting all possible forces for resistance.
- Too late in standing with one’s friends.The devil, we are informed, will work fast when his moment comes to execute “great wrath upon the world, because he knows he hath but a short time.” (Rev.12:4) Wherever this event is placed on the prophetic calendar is one thing; but the great lesson here is that the devil seizes opportunity. He works in the framework of opportunity. In fact, all effective social revolutions and spiritual revolutions take place in a moment of opportunity.It’s likely that most of us feel some discouragement in light of the growing anti-Christian atmosphere and the general decline of the acceptance of biblically defined cultural values. It appears that Gramsci’s “long march though the institutions” is producing a secular culture. (read: Culture War: Lee Congdon, Virginiainstitute.org) The Virginia Institute, here referenced, states, “We ought not to treat the contemporary ‘culture war’ lightly; the fate of what remains of civilized life may well be decided by its outcome.”Today’s events push us forward. They demand a new attitude. For one thing, we can’t go back. An example for us is the fact that our missionaries, over decades, have worked in places where Christians have been the minority. But when they trusted in God, and not human power or influence, they experienced great success. We are not required to wait for the world’s approval. The world pays little attention to the church or the desires of our hearts; it moves forward in context of human wisdom. The world orders its own steps. It never takes into account God’s righteousness or God’s will. It is cold to the feelings and moods of the Church. Biblical truth is not its objective.There is a new tyranny in the land. Some demand we submit to what I see as a kind of snobby “intellectualism.” I weary of reading the pseudo-intellectual criticism of the Pentecostal outpouring and, more specifically, the holiness lifestyle. I cannot and will not walk this road of so-called critical thinking by which we rationalize our way out of Biblical commandments. Those who parse by intellect alone the way of life, the way of peace, the way of power, the way of salvation, fall short because all these things are of the Spirit alone. That which is great by the Spirit alone cannot be understood by the intellect alone.
- Furthermore if we are intimidated by those critics who form little esoteric societies of put-down clubs aimed at those who preach the Apostle’s Doctrine and the practice of Holiness, then we have lost the battle. In such cases, backsliders from the truth have intimidated us. We cannot launch much of an assault in the grip of fear. Clearly, our time is short. We must hasten to comprehend the mortal dangers of our age.
- Pentecostals must re-assert their teaching to come out of the world, spiritually and emotionally. Our pulpits must re-light the path of separation from the world. And we must stop flirting with the death-causing doctrines of institutionalized Christianity. North American Pentecostals need a fresh awakening and a commitment to holiness and sanctification. When necessary, we must cut our losses while maintaining our commitment to “that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” (Rom. 6:17) Paul’s account of his separation from Demas, however sad, includes the command “take Mark, and bring with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.” Paul demonstrates in this statement that he intends to go forward in spite of Demas.
- But there is hope. In one sense the atmosphere is changing in our favor. It may be a good thing for us to feel a desperate urgency for the effectual working power of the Holy Ghost anointing.
- The passivity of Apostolics today toward the intoxicating pleasures of the world and the gods of human achievement may well be pushing us into the “sleep of death.” The moment is here, I believe, for us to choose either a great revival or the unrighteous system of the anti-Christ. Such a decision is easy to talk about but it is complex in its execution. Embracing light over darkness, truth over falsehood, and righteousness over unrighteousness, involves rejecting things. It requires in some cases leaving behind our most cherished things: our friends, our children, our parents, and our own ambitions. This is never easy. (Mt. 10: 34-38)
- I pray that no historian ever looks at the Apostolic Church in North America and says, “They were poised to make a difference but they were too late in comprehending the moment. Distracted, they never moved to the front line.”