WHILE THE CHURCH SLEEPS

WHILE THE CHURCH SLEEPS by Pastor Shah

(54th Annual 2012 Fall Session, Cullom Baptist Association, Henderson, NC)

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 “That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.”

Aldous Huxley (writer and thinker)

I want us to go back in time and look at what happens when the Church looses sight of the mission and the vision and gets caught up in the trivial. The results can be devastating.

THE RISE OF ISLAM & THE STATE OF CHRISTIANITY IN THE 7TH CENTURY

The year is 582 AD – a 12-year old boy is with his uncle on a business trip to Syria. While there he sees churches and even meets a monk but he never hears the true gospel.

The year is 589 AD – a council is held in Toledo, Spain, known as the “The Third Church Council of Toledo. Three reasons for this council – First, the conversion of the Gothic King to true Christianity;  Second, 23 condemnations against anybody who followed Arianism (an old heresy); and Third, restrictions on Jewish people.`
The year is 632 AD – that same 12-year-old boy is now 63 years old. He met many Christians and he saw many churches; but he   never heard the true gospel. What he did see was contention and division. Instead he began a religion called Islam. In the process he killed many and even executed 600-700 Jewish people and had an army of 10,000. His last words on his deathbed were “Allah destroy the Jews and the Christians.”
A year later in 633 AD – Fourth Church Council of Toledo. The reason to meet – “How can we punish the baptized Jewish people   who have gone back to Judaism.”
The year is 636 AD – Arab armies under the flag of Islam have captured the areas which are modern Iraq (Mesopotamia) and   modern Iran (Persia).
In the same year (636 AD) – Fifth Church Council of Toledo. One of the decrees at the council is that if anyone were to curse the king or plot against him, they would be excommunicated from the church.
The year is 638 AD – Arab armies under the banner of Islam have captured Syria, Jerusalem, and they are getting ready to capture Armenia
In the same year (638 AD) – the Sixth Church Council of Toledo meets. The reason to meet is to affirm the decrees of the Fifth Council and once again cursed anyone who would plot against the King. Also, some more restrictions against the Jewish people.
The year is 646 AD – A lot has happened. Arab armies have captured Egypt and Armenia and Asia Minor (Modern-day Turkey).   These were all Christian nations. Cosmas Indicopleustes (Alexandrian merchant and traveler) writes in his book that in the 6th century churches were scattered all over these areas.In the same year (646 AD) – the Seventh Church   Council of Toledo met. Once again treason was punishable by excommunication and if any pastor were to speak out – he would be disgraced and the only way he would get communion is if he were dying.
The year is 653 AD – Arab armies have entered North Africa (modern-day Libya, Tunisia, Algeria).
In the same year (653 AD) – the Eighth Church Council of Toledo met. Once again, the king wrote a book of all things he wanted the pastors to tell the people.
The year is 655 AD – Arab armies are busy capturing the Island of Cyprus.
In the same year (655 AD) – the Ninth Church Council of Toledo met. This was an interesting one – if any priest were to have a child by a woman (slave or free), that child would automatically be a slave of the church where his father served. Also, anybody who got converted had to pass the test of Christian festivals in the presence of the bishops to prove their faith. If they failed, they could be flogged or made to fast – depending on their age.
The year is 681 AD – Arab armies under the flag of Islam have captured most of North Africa, Island of Rhodes (near Turkey),   parts of modern-day Afghanistan, and even parts of modern-day Pakistan.
By now there have been 3 more Church Councils of Toledo – 10, 11, and 12. Tenth (656 AD) – cannot sell Christian slaves to the Jewish people and one pastor had freed his slaves and distributed his money to the poor in his will – that was unlawful. Eleventh (675 AD) – bishops cannot buy their positions. If they did, then 2 years exile but they can keep their position. Twelfth (681 AD) – Jewish people could be persecuted by confiscating their things and you could use violence against your slaves.
The year is 702 AD – the Muslim armies (mixture of Arabs and North Africans) have destroyed the North African church –   Christians have been killed or enslaved. The Arabs claimed that they had to fight 10 wars to eradicate Christianity among the Berbers. There were as many as 3 million Coptic Christians and 5 million Berber Christians. Now the Muslim population is now 1 percent of the total population of the world. Since the last Church Council, there have been 6 Church Councils of Toledo (13-18). Topics of discussion have included treason against the King, doctrinal matters need to be believed and not discussed, and whether Christ had one will or two. Oh yes – Jewish people – we still don’t like them.
The year is 711 AD– Would you like to guess where the Muslim armies are standing? At the gates of Toledo.If it were not for a man by the name of Charles Martel who stopped the Moors at the Battle of Tours in 732 AD, all of Western Europe would have fallen into Muslim hands.

Why did I give you this history lesson?

  • To tell you that Islam is a threat? Not really
  • To tell you that we shouldn’t have Church Meetings? Not really.

What is the lesson from history?

  • When the Church loses sight of its mission and its vision, the repercussion can be devastating.
  • When the Church gets involved in the trivial and the frivolous, the consequences can change the course of history.
  • When the Church gets stuck in a rut and becomes complacent, lives are sentenced to Hell forever.

Did you know that it took over 700 years to retrieve the portion of the Iberian peninsula (Spain and Portugal) back into Christian hands. Thousands upon thousands went to an eternity without Christ—to a place called Hell—because the Church failed to make a difference. Even after the Christians gained control back, it still does not mean that everyone was now saved.

We are standing at the place where the Church of Toledo stood 1400 years ago. We are at the same spot in history. Is Radical Islam the threat to our nation? I don’t think so. As long as we vote for a President who will build up our military and not cut it back, we will be fine.

What is the Biggest Threat to our Nation? LOSTNESS. Everyday men and women, boys and girls are driving past our churches and saying “Church is not for me.”

For e.g. At one time we used to hear – once young people go to college, they walk away from the church; then, we heard – once they become teenagers, they walk away from the church. Do you know the latest report? I was at an Apologetics conference and the latest statistic is that kids 9-12 years old are walking away from the church. Why? Because the church is no longer answering the questions they are asking. At school they deal with the real issues and, at church, they hear stories.

What is the Answer? Listen to what Paul said to the Church in Rome and to the Churches of all ages.

1. We need a sense of urgency.

Romans 13:11-14 11And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.

We do not have the time to waste on the trivial. Some of the things that church people fuss about—no wonder we haven’t seen any lost souls saved in months. Our children and our grandchildren deserve better. We should be doing whatever it takes to win the new generation to Jesus Christ. We cannot afford to sit back and criticize the culture; we cannot afford to sit back and reminisce about the past; we need to get busy reaching our neighbors in Christ-honoring and relevant ways to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

2. We need to walk in Holiness.

12The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light. 13Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry and drunkenness, not in lewdness and lust, not in strife and envy.

There is no substitute to a life of holiness before God. We have become so much like the world that there is no difference between the church and the world. By the way, it has nothing to do with your hairstyle or music style. It is about your lifestyle. We get caught in the superficial and fail to deal with the seriousness of sin. God demands “truth in the inward parts.” We need to deal harshly with sin in our own lives.

3. We need to put on Christ.

14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.

Meaning: When we receive Christ as our Saviour, we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ; but daily we put on Christ. Daily we remember that we are dead to ourself; it’s no longer we who live but Christ lives in us.  Let the world see Christ in and through us. Only Christ has the power to change lives. Jesus said in John 12:32 “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.”

Application: People often say to me or ask me – “Do you think we are living in the last days?” Friends – I am not as concerned about whether we are living in the last days as I am about what if the world goes on! What if Christ does not return for another hundred or five hundred or a thousand years, what will our nation look like? Are we doing all we can to lead our children and grandchildren to face the challenges that our facing them? Are we leaving this world in a better state than we found it? Will our children and grandchildren thank us in heaven that we did all we could to help them come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, to have the Bible and Church vibrant, to have Biblical values and ethics intact for years to come. Will they look back at us and praise God that we were not asleep in the face of rising godlessness in our nation.

God has a secret weapon to handle this rise of godlessness in our nation.  They are all around us – on every street corner. They are the medium – small churches of our nation. What if every one of these medium-small churches come alive with gospel of Jesus Christ. What if our pastors make a commitment to burn their ships and stop running to the “greener grass churches” and plant themselves into their communities! We will have revival!

We are afraid of “sleeper cells” in our country. The real “sleeper cells” are the medium to small churches all across our land. Can you imagine what will happen if they wake up!

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