True Churches Will Make America Great Again
Karen Pansler-Lam, J.D.
What will make America great again? True churches. True churches bearing good fruit - true Christians.
True churches are a blessing to communities and to America.
True churches make good communities.
And good communities make a great nation.
We have witnessed the downfall of our churches has wrought the downfall of our nation. The foundation of good communities and great nations is true churches bearing good fruit – true Christians.
True churches make nations great.
A True Church is a Blessing to Our Community and Nation
We must recognize the great importance of Biblical churches in the life of our community and nation. Modern Christians demand “relevance” in Christianity, and the true church – the Biblical church - has been relevant in every age. Entirely apart from their distinctly spiritual teaching, they contribute wonderfully toward making our community and nation clean, wholesome, orderly, and happy.
Undeniably, true Christians are the pillars of society. Their virtuous character brings many blessings to our communities and nation. And if we want to make America great again, we must start with true churches bearing good fruit – true Christians, or born-again believers in Jesus Christ.
Righteousness exalteth a
Unrighteousness – wickedness – degrades a nation.
In 1909, Edwin H. Hughes discussed a nation’s moral character in The Teaching of Citizenship:
It is not only perfectly
apparent that a nation cannot survive if it is filled with dishonesty,
dissension, sloth, and extravagance; it is just as apparent that the four
pillars of harmony, honesty, industry, and frugality can be made only out of
moral materials…the real foundations of a nation are based on the character
of its people.
Then Hughes sums it up in one sentence: “The state cannot be better than the united character of its people.”
He also explains that every man is either a debit or a credit - burden or a blessing - to our nation:
The simple contention is that the moral views and moods of the people have an immense part in the making of the state; and the conclusion for the individual is that his own character is one of the debits or the credits of the state’s life. In the very nature of the case every good man makes a better nation. He lifts the moral average, and laws come at length from the average moral feeling of the citizens.
Hughes rightly states: “Every good man makes a better nation.”
Hughes continues that the character of the citizens affects legislation and leadership: Moral citizens will enact moral legislation. And, interestingly, Hughes wrote in 1909: “In a republic the people have always been sensitive to the moral quality of their leaders. The Presidents of the United States have been men of high moral average.” Too bad this did not remain true. America has had many presidents of low moral character.
Hughes is right: the real foundations of a nation are based on the character of its people. Consequently, every good man makes a better nation. Every bad man makes a worse nation.
To put it another way, nations are only as great as the communities within them. And communities are only as good as the moral character of their residents. And the foundation of good communities and great nations is true churches bearing good fruit – true Christians. True churches make our communities and nation great.
Sadly, modern religious leaders are ignorant of this basic principle that our communities and nation cannot be great if their church members are wicked. Therefore, churches fail to instruct their members in Biblical morality, and replace righteousness and holiness with humanitarian good works. Sin is excused as “nobody’s perfect,” and striving for holiness is ridiculed and denounced as “self-righteousness.” But it is the Biblical duty of churches to train up good citizens, good parents, good children, good spouses, good workers, etc. – godly Christians.
Don’t be deceived. Humanitarian good works are misguided and create a burden on society. They lower the moral character of the community and nation. For example, government and church welfare encourages laziness, which is contrary to the Biblical command of industry. Citizens and illegals demand they are entitled to the fruits of our labor. They demand handouts. And churches encourage their laziness by handing out food, clothing and other basic necessities while the lazy spend their money on booze, cigarettes, drugs, technology, expensive vehicles, and other sins and luxuries. A true church refuses to allow the lazy and spendthrifts to become church welfare dependents. A true church teaches the Biblical duties of personal responsibility and frugality.
It is the Biblical duty of churches in every community to preach and teach high religious and moral principles. This will result in a community of high moral character. On the other hand, communities with churches that preach humanism instead of holiness have a low moral character and suffer from the evils of high crime, laziness, divorce, drunkenness, pornography, and so forth. The community with low religious and moral principles is doomed to crime, poverty, depression, sloth, and other degradation. However, economic prosperity is not an indication of high religious and moral ideals. A community may prosper financially while drowning in wickedness: drugs, perversion, corruption, greed, and other sins.
Irrefutably, the real foundations of a community are based on the character of its people. Every good man makes a better community. Every bad man makes a worse community.
True Christianity makes good citizens.
Good citizens make good communities.
And good communities make a great nation.
If we want to make America great again, we must start with true churches
bearing good fruit – true Christians, or born-again believers in Jesus
Blessed is the nation whose
God is the Lord;
Let the Glory of the Lord Fill Our Sanctuaries
The Church is not a visible religious organization. The Church is not made up of church denominations or church organizations. There are many false church organizations that preach a perverted gospel. A false denomination may be a corporate body of churches, but it is not part of the true Church. And being a member of a local church does not make one a true believer.
The Church is the body of universal born-again believers in Jesus Christ. They have repented of their sin and are new creatures in Christ. The Church is the bride of Jesus Christ, saved and sanctified by Him for union with Him (Ephesians 5:25-27).
A true church is an assembly of born-again believers. The sanctuary of God is the congregation of His saints. The sanctuary is not for sinners. Christians are commanded to evangelize the world and preach the Gospel, and bring repentant sinners into the fellowship of the local church for discipleship and worship.
A church may be a small gathering of saints. Christ promises us where two or three are gathered together in His Name; “There am I.”
two or three are gathered together in my name,
Matthew Henry comments:
The presence of Christ in the assemblies of Christians is promised, and may in faith be prayed for and depended on; There am I. This is equivalent to the Shechinah, or special presence of God in the tabernacle and temple of old, Exod. xl. 34; 2 Chron. v. 14.
In the Old Testament, the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle and the Temple. And in the New Testament, Christ promises us that where two or three are gathered together in His Name; “There am I.” In other words, the glory of the Lord is present. Christ promises His presence as true as when the Shechinah shone in the Tabernacle or Temple. God is ready to be with all born-again believers united together in His Name. Whether united in prayer or praise or preaching…God is present.
On the contrary, the glory of the Lord is not present in a false church. A false church may exhibit excitement, loudness, and emotion; these are substitutes for the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Lord is present in a true church only. A true church is a Spirit-filled church that glorifies God, not a man-led church that glorifies man. Consequently, a true church is a holy sanctuary where born-again believers reverently exalt the Lord.
Thine, O Lord, is the
Let the glory of the Lord fill the holy sanctuary!
America will be great again when the glory of the Lord fills our sanctuaries!
Church Architecture Must Declare the Majesty of God
The New Testament does not record the construction of a church building. Possibly, the Lord intended for Christians to understand that the true Church is not a church building, but the body of true believers. But, most likely, as the number of Christians increased, houses were too small to hold the congregation. Therefore, after Christians were no longer persecuted, they were allowed to build church buildings specifically set aside for divine worship.
Paul states a difference between God’s House and Christians’ houses when he rebukes the Corinthians for profaning the Lord’s Supper and corrupting it into a feast for the rich. Their conduct showed contempt of God’s House, or contempt of the church. If they wanted to feast, let them do it in their own houses.
What? have ye not houses to
eat and to drink in?
Paul makes clear the church must not be profaned by irreverence and rudeness.
Today, it may be difficult to conduct a reverent service in a house because it is personal. Folks may tend to be too casual about the sanctity of the service. And there is limited space for congregants, musical instruments, and so forth. For these reasons and others, most services are conducted in a church building.
A church is a building permanently and exclusively set aside by solemn consecration for divine worship: it has a sacred purpose. The purpose of a church is to give glory to God, and to edify the believers who gather there to worship. There ought to be nothing in a church that is unworthy of the House of prayer and the majesty of God.
Churches play an important role in the community. They are the cornerstone of the community, and must be a visible reminder of the true cornerstone of the Church – Jesus Christ. But Christians fail to understand the importance church buildings play in the daily life of the community. Churches are constant reminders of God and the call to daily Christian living – holiness. Therefore, churches should be given eminent places in the community. The Tabernacle was given an eminent place in the camp of Israel – in the center. And Solomon gave the Temple an eminent place in Jerusalem – on Mount Moriah.
Specifically, the presence of churches in the community proclaims God’s supreme authority over the affairs of man. Therefore, a true church looks like a church. It is a visible and constant reminder that the Supreme Lawgiver is God Almighty. And it is a place of worship. By its very structure, its dignity and its beauty, it proclaims its sanctity and sacred purpose. It does not look like a civic center or other secular building.
Churches should be architectural gems of the community. A true church considers the architecture of the building; it connotes a religious structure. For example, the church steeple is a focal point of some churches, a witness to the community and an architectural design intended to lift our eyes upward - heavenward. And looking heavenward leads us to think about God and Truth. This visible reminder of our pilgrimage heavenward should inspire us to holy thoughts and holy acts – holiness.
Inside the church, the sanctuary should encourage reverence and holiness with its beauty and dignity. The worshipper should feel that he is in the presence of the Lord. Christ is the King of the Church and deserves a place of worship worthy of the King of kings. For instance, God gave Moses specific instructions for the beautification of the Tabernacle. And Solomon’s temple was known for its beauty. Any church that fails to consider the beauty of the interior and exterior shows disrespect for the Lord’s House.
Reverend S. Conway explains:
It is a public dishonouring of God if men
are content that the sanctuaries in which they worship should be mean and
ill-appointed, as so many of them are, whilst in their own houses no costly
expense is spared and no adornment withheld (see Hag.i.4). On the other
hand, the magnificent churches, minsters, abbeys, which still remain in this
and other lands, have throughout all the long centuries since they were
built borne silent but eloquent testimony to the reverence, love, and
devotion towards God which dwelt in the hearts of their builders, and which
it was their profound conviction ought to dwell in the hearts of all.
Meanness and miserable selfishness often skulk behind the plea of
spirituality of worship, and that the heart is all that God desires.
Magnificent churches throughout the centuries proclaimed the reverence, love, and devotion toward God which dwelt in the hearts of their builders. And church buildings today should not only proclaim the reverence, love and devotion toward God of their builders, but should inspire those who look upon them with reverence, love and devotion toward God.
Certainly, when we see a magnificent stone cathedral or a simple, white New England church with a steeple, our thoughts turn toward God. Its dignity and beauty proclaim its sanctity and sacred purpose. A stone church reminds us of that spiritual Rock: and that Rock is Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4).
And a modest white church of simple beauty is symbolic of the purity of a bride, reminding us the Church is the pure Bride of Christ, without spot or wrinkle.
That he might present it to
himself a glorious church,
So, if the Church is to be holy and without blemish, then churches must be holy and without blemish. In other words, they must not be spotted and stained with the lust of the world. Just as Christians must be sanctified before they will be glorified hereafter, a church must be sanctified before it can be a true church. And a church that looks like a nightclub, theater, or other worldly place is unsanctified. If you cannot tell a church by its architecture, then it is not a true church. It is an unsanctified church that is a whoring after the world.
Since the 1960s, churches are often built to look like commercial buildings: theaters, civic centers, and so forth. Nothing about their architecture causes passersby to think about the majesty of God. A church in my hometown looks like a nightclub, and the architecture of the church is a true indication of its worldly false worship.
Often churches are plain and simple structures devoid of any beauty or dignity because the congregation wants to spend as little money as possible on the Lord’s House. They justify their stinginess by alleging that the architecture of a church doesn’t matter because the heart is all that God desires; and that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. So, if our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, then why do many of these folks desecrate their bodies with tattoos: write graffiti on the temple? The Bible clearly denounces tattoos (Leviticus 19:28). And why do they desecrate their bodies with piercings like the heathen in foreign lands?
Some protest spending money for a beautiful church because they are simply ignorant of the importance of the architectural beauty of a church. They do not understand that church architecture is meaningful: its appearance produces in the onlooker a certain state of mind.
Simply put, a church is not just a place to accommodate a congregation. Architecture produces a sentiment. And architecture has a character. Just as a person’s dress reflects his character, a church’s architecture often reflects its character. This is truer of modern churches than older church buildings. For example, a contemporary church building generally indicates the character of the service is contemporary. Older church buildings that offered traditional worship when first built often now offer both traditional and contemporary.
And the interior of the church reflects the congregation’s character. So, what is the character of a church with a “stage”? Worldly. A church stage reflects the congregation’s love of entertainment. A stage is a raised platform upon which theatrical and musical performances are presented before an audience. Therefore, a church stage is for performances: motivation speeches instead of sermons, dramas, rock bands, and other entertainment. Modern churches are designed for entertainment, not holy worship. The worldly architecture of modern churches reflects their worldly character.
On the other hand, the holy character of the Tabernacle and the Temple was reflected in their architecture. The holiness of God was made conspicuous by the character and form of the Tabernacle and its furniture. God gave Moses specific instructions concerning the nature, construction and furnishings of the Tabernacle. And God provided skilled laborers to perform the work:
Then wrought Bezaleel and
The work was carried out by wise hearted workmen whom the Lord had given wisdom and understanding to know how to do the work, and when the task was completed the tent was covered by a cloud which enshrouded the divine glory (Exodus 40:34).
David wanted to build a temple, but God preferred that David’s son Solomon build His House (1 Chronicles 17: 1-12). David, however, began to gather money and materials for the Temple. When Solomon began to build the Temple, God did not provide specific details for the Temple because He had blessed him with wisdom: Solomon modeled the Temple after the Tabernacle. He demonstrated wisdom in building the House of the Lord; the Temple was beautiful: the walls of the House – inside and outside – were overlaid with gold; the cherubims were overlaid with gold, the floor was overlaid with gold – within and without; the doors were magnificently carved and overlaid with gold…you get the picture.
And all who truly love the Lord God will desire to build for Him a beautiful church. The holiness of God will be conspicuous by the character and form of the church and its furniture. And they will want the best architecture, the best materials, the best workmen…all for the glory of God. And they will fill the sanctuary with reverent and glorious worship to honor the King of kings. And the Lord will be present!
America will be great again when every community builds churches of beauty and dignity declaring the majesty of God!
Faithful Stewards of Holy Ground
A true church understands that church grounds are holy ground. The ground is rendered holy by the presence of God upon it. God’s presence – the Holy Spirit - hallows it. And they understand that they are stewards of holy ground.
A true church acknowledges the property belongs to God and has attractive and well-maintained grounds. Even in this matter, the church looks to Scripture…
And the Lord God took the
God assigned Adam to maintain the garden of Eden. Matthew Henry explains that “The garden of Eden, though it needed not to be weeded (for thorns and thistles were not yet a nuisance), yet must be dressed and kept. Nature, even in its primitive state, left room for the improvements of art and industry.”
A true church is a faithful keeper of God’s property – the church grounds. Landscape gardening must insure attractive entrances and approaches to the sanctuary and other buildings. Trees, well-maintained lawns, shrubs, and flowers, tastefully arranged beautify the grounds. This work does not have to be done by paid “professionals.” There are many hands in the body of Christ. Alas, there are few willing hands to labor with garden tools to care for the Lord’s property.
A well-cared-for church and grounds are important to the congregation and the community. An unkempt church and grounds are a disgrace. It gives the impression that the church is unimportant to the community and unimportant to the church members. It reflects the true character of the congregation: apathetic and lazy. A shabby church dishonors God.
Churches and their grounds must be the most beautiful and well-cared-for property in the community because it is holy ground.
America will be great again when we are faithful stewards of holy ground.
True Christians are Born-again Believers
Doctrine matters. And a true church preaches and teaches sound doctrine. The doctrine of Christianity – Jesus Christ – is repentance, regeneration and sanctification. Only born-again believers are true Christians. Jesus declares:
Ye must be
Matthew Henry expounds on Jesus’ words:
[a. ] The author of this blessed change, and who it is that works it. To be born again is to be born of the Spirit, v. 5-8. The change is not wrought by any wisdom or power of our own, but by the power and influence of the blessed Spirit of grace. It is the sanctification of the Spirit (1 Pt. 1:2 ) and renewing of the Holy Ghost, Tit. 3:5 . The word he works by is his inspiration, and the heart to be wrought on he has access to.
[b. ] The nature of this change, and what that is which is wrought; it is spirit, v. 6. Those that are regenerated are made spiritual, and refined from the dross and dregs of sensuality. The dictates and interests of the rational and immortal soul have retrieved the dominion they ought to have over the flesh. The Pharisees placed their religion in external purity and external performances; and it would be a mighty change indeed with them, no less than a new birth, to become spiritual.
[c. ] The necessity of this change. First, Christ here shows that it is necessary in the nature of the thing, for we are not fit to enter into the kingdom of God till we are born again: That which is born of the flesh is flesh, v. 6. Here is our malady, with the causes of it, which are such that it is plain there is no remedy but we must be born again. 1. We are here told what we are: We are flesh, not only corporeal but corrupt, Gen. 6:3 . The soul is still a spiritual substance, but so wedded to the flesh, so captivated by the will of the flesh, so in love with the delights of the flesh, so employed in making provision for the flesh, that it is mostly called flesh; it is carnal. And what communion can there be between God, who is a spirit, and a soul in this condition?
2. How we came to be so; by being born of the flesh. It is a corruption that is bred in the bone with us, and therefore we cannot have a new nature, but we must be born again. The corrupt nature, which is flesh, takes rise from our first birth; and therefore the new nature, which is spirit, must take rise from a second birth. Nicodemus spoke of entering again into his mother’s womb, and being born; but, if he could do so, to what purpose? If he were born of his mother a hundred times, that would not mend the matter, for still that which is born of the flesh is flesh; a clean thing cannot be brought out of an unclean. He must seek for another original, must be born of the Spirit, or he cannot become spiritual. The case is, in short, this: though man is made to consist of body and soul, yet his spiritual part had then so much the dominion over his corporeal part that he was denominated a living soul (Gen. 2:7 ), but by indulging the appetite of the flesh, in eating forbidden fruit, he prostituted the just dominion of the soul to the tyranny of sensual lust, and became no longer a living soul, but flesh: Dust thou art. The living soul became dead and inactive; thus in the day he sinned he surely died, and so he became earthly. In this degenerate state, he begat a son in his own likeness; he transmitted the human nature, which had been entirely deposited in his hands, thus corrupted and depraved; and in the same plight it is still propagated. Corruption and sin are woven into our nature; we are shapen in iniquity, which makes it necessary that the nature be changed. It is not enough to put on a new coat or a new face, but we must put on the new man, we must be new creatures.
Secondly, Christ makes it further necessary, by his own word: Marvel not that I said unto thee, You must be born again, v. 7. Christ hath said it, and as he himself never did, nor ever will, unsay it, so all the world cannot gainsay it, that we must be born again. He who is the great Lawgiver, whose will is a law,—he who is the great Mediator of the new covenant, and has full power to settle the terms of our reconciliation to God and happiness in him,—he who is the great Physician of souls, knows their case, and what is necessary to their cure,—he hath said, You must be born again. "I said unto thee that which all are concerned in, You must, you all, one as well as another, you must be born again: not only the common people, but the rulers, the masters in Israel.’’
2. We are not to marvel at it; for when we consider the holiness of the God with whom we have to do, the great design of our redemption, the depravity of our nature, and the constitution of the happiness set before us, we shall not think it strange that so much stress is laid upon this as the one thing needful, that we must be born again.
Jesus Christ said that we must be born again.
A person who merely intellectually assents to certain Scriptures is not born again.
But God be thanked,
Being then made free from
But now being free from sin,
Born-again believers are free from the bondage of sin, and serve God in holiness. A church that does not preach and teach holiness is a false church.
However, ecumenical religious leaders argue that since doctrine divides – including the doctrine of holiness - we must forget about our doctrinal differences and unite under the banner of universal love. This is not Biblical Christianity. This is hippie theology. Indeed, Paul tells us to avoid those who cause division with contrary doctrines (Romans 16:17, 18). Ecumenism falsely teaches we must accept and tolerate sin - instead of rebuking sin. This is contrary to Scripture.
The idea that God is not angry with wicked men is a lie. Righteous indignation against evil is God’s holy character.
Without the preaching of sound doctrine, sinners cannot be true converts. Believing a false gospel does not lead to true conversion. Therefore, a true church preaches sound doctrine.
Holding fast the faithful
word as he hath been taught,
A true church understands that Christians can only be transformed by believing sound doctrine. In other words, sound doctrine forms true Christian character. Paul instructs Titus that only sound doctrine leads to true faith.
Matthew Henry comments:
Here is the end: That he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort, and to convince the gainsayers, to persuade and draw others to the true faith, and to convince the contrary-minded. How should he do this if he himself were uncertain or unsteady, not holding fast that faithful word and sound doctrine which should be the matter of this teaching, and the means and ground of convincing those that oppose the truth? We see here summarily the great work of the ministry—to exhort those who are willing to know and do their duty, and to convince those that contradict, both which are to be done by sound doctrine, that is, in a rational instructive way, by scripture-arguments and testimonies, which are the infallible words of truth, what all may and should rest and be satisfied in and determined by. And thus of the qualifications of the elders whom Titus was to ordain.
A true church understands that sound doctrine is important, and the Bible is the only source of sound doctrine.
Sadly, modern Christians are ignorant of the Bible. Reportedly, less than 10% of professing Christians have read the entire Bible. Hence, the ruinous state of the modern church and modern Christians: they are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
The Bible warns us in Hosea 4: 6, 12…
My people are destroyed for
lack of knowledge:
My people ask counsel at their stocks,
Hosea pronounces that since priests and people reject knowledge, God will reject them.
Matthew Henry writes:
Both priests and people rejected knowledge; and justly therefore will God reject them. The reason why the people did not learn, and the priests did not teach, was not because they had not the light, but because they hated it – not because they had not ways of coming to the knowledge of God and of communicating it, but because they had no heart to it; they rejected it. They desired not the knowledge of God’s ways, but put it from them, and shut their eyes against the light; and therefore “ I will also reject thee; I will refuse to take cognizance of thee and to own thee; you will not know me, but bid me depart; I will therefore say, Depart from me, I know you not. Thou shalt be no priest to me.”
False ministers refuse to preach and teach the Truth of the Bible; false Christians reject the Truth of the Bible. They want to appear “progressive” so they pervert the Gospel and interpret it as a bible of man-made humanist doctrine and propaganda. Progressive Christians hate and reject knowledge of the Truth. But there is only one way to know the Truth. Jesus exhorts us to study His Word to know the Truth:
ye continue in my word,
Notice that Jesus exhorts us to “continue in my word.” To continue is to be continuous, or unceasing. In other words, we must never stop studying His Word to know the Truth. We must zealously persist in an ongoing study of the Word of God if we want to know the Truth. The more we earnestly read the Bible, the more we are filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. We increase in the knowledge of God.
O the depth of the riches
both of the
For this cause we also,
If we do not read the Bible, we are spiritually ignorant. And we misunderstand and misuse Scriptures. When we diligently study Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to the Truth. We no longer walk in spiritual darkness.
But countless Americans walk in spiritual darkness. Despair, depression, fear, phobias and other mental torments plague our nation because we no longer study the Word. The Word cleanses and heals our minds and spirits. When we diligently seek the Truth through the reading of the Word, and reject the world’s pseudo-wisdom and pseudo-knowledge – psychology (even so-called “Christian” psychology), yoga, transcendental meditation, and other false religions – our minds are renewed by the Holy Spirit. The renewing of our minds by the power of the Holy Spirit sets us free from the bondage of dark mental torments. Sound doctrine produces sound minds, or right thinking. And right thinking leads to right living – righteousness.
A true church diligently preaches and teaches the Truth to set men and women free from the bondage of dark mental torments and wrong thinking.
America will be great again when our churches are filled with sound doctrine bearing good fruit - true Christians, or born-again believers.
God Must Be Sanctified and Glorified
A true church is holy, for it is set apart and sanctified by Christ (Galatians 1:4; Ephesians 5:6). It is consecrated by the nature of its worship. In other words, the church is not worldly.
Love not the world,
A true church understands that true Christians are not worldly in their personal lives or public worship.
But a false church of false Christians is worldly in their personal lives and demand worldly worship. A false church worships worldly living and worldly worship. A false church and its congregation want be “awesome” in the eyes of each other, and in the eyes of the world: “Christian” rock music, tattoos, body piercings, punk haircuts, and so forth.
Worldliness in a false church is evidenced by replacing the church choir with the church rock band. And it is evidenced by replacing the church service with the church program. And it is evidenced by replacing the church platform with the church stage. A stage is a raised platform for musical or theatrical performances: rock bands, dramas, and so forth. A false church exalts worldly performances.
On the contrary, a true church understands a place of worship is not for man, but for God. King David understood this…
Furthermore David the king
said unto all the congregation,
The word “palace” in this Scripture means the Temple as expressed in subsequent verses: “the house of my God,” “the holy house,” “the house of the Lord” and so forth. Of course, we cannot compare the Temple to a modern church sanctuary. The Tabernacle and Temple occupied under the old dispensation a position no building can now occupy. They housed the Ark of the Covenant – the literal dwelling seat of the Lord God. Today, the Lord Jesus Christ is enshrined and enthroned in the inner temple of our hearts. But still we gather together to worship in the Lord’s House. And, as discussed earlier, where two or three are gathered in the Name of Jesus, He is present.
Just as you have no right or liberty to dictate how to run my house, you have no right or liberty to dictate how to run the Lord’s House. The Bible provides eternal principles for the Lord’s House. The Bible never expressly states or implies that you can impose your personal preferences onto a church: a cowboy church, a rock ‘n’ roll church, and other man-centered whims. The House of the Lord is for the glory of God, not to please man’s foolish fancies.
The Bible warns that self-willed worship angers God. For example, Nadab and Abihu offered strange or common fire in the tabernacle service. And God punished them; they were immediately struck dead.
And Nadab and Abihu,
And there went out fire from
Then Moses said unto Aaron,
Nadab and Abihu’s sin of burning incense of their own, instead of fire from the altar, showed contempt of God command. “I will be sanctified in them that come nigh unto me, and before all the people I will be glorified.” We are not at liberty to do what we please in the Lord’s House. We may not worship in a light careless way, without due reverence and solemnity.
Listen to the Voice of the Lord God…
I will be sanctified in them that come nigh unto me,
Matthew Henry comments:
(2.) What was it that God spoke? It was this (the Lord by his grace speak it to all our hearts!) I will be sanctified in those that come nigh me, whoever they are, and before all the people I will be glorified.
Note, First, Whenever we worship God, we come nigh unto him, as spiritual priests. This consideration ought to make us very reverent and serious in all acts of devotion, that in them we approach to God, and present ourselves before him.
Secondly, It concerns us all, when we come nigh to God, to sanctify him, that is, to give him the praise of his holiness, to perform every religious exercise as those who believe that the God with whom we have to do is a holy God, a God of spotless purity and transcendent perfection, Isa. 8:13 .
Thirdly, When we sanctify God we glorify him, for his holiness is his glory; and, when we sanctify him in our solemn assemblies, we glorify him before all the people, confessing our own belief of his glory and desiring that others also may be affected with it.
Fourthly, If God be not sanctified and glorified by us, he will be sanctified and glorified upon us. He will take vengeance on those that profane his sacred name by trifling with him.
America will be great again when God is sanctified and glorified in our sanctuaries.
Music Must Be Holy: Doctrinal and Reverent
A true church not only preaches and teaches doctrinal and reverent sermons and lessons, it sings doctrinal and reverent songs. If a church has sound doctrinal preaching, but sings songs of false doctrine, the church is corrupt.
Holy music is consecrated or set apart to a sacred use; it fosters unity. It is immediately distinguishable from worldly music in word and in spirit. The writers of sacred songs are godly men and women inspired by the Holy Spirit. Every true Christian senses the presence and power of the Spirit in the following hymns: “Praise the Lord,” “It Is Well with My Soul,” “How Great Thou Art,” and “Holy, Holy, Holy.” When sung as intended by the writers – with reverence – no one confuses them with rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, show tunes, pop, and other worldly music.
True spiritual songs are filled with the fragrance of holiness offered to the Kings of kings. True hymns are filled with the power and presence of the Holy Spirit; not driven by hype, loudness, and driving beat to create a psychedelic music experience counterfeiting the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Holy music causes us to draw closer to God and inspires us to holy living. Holy music purifies our hearts and lives. Holy music creates a desire to read and obey His Word; and conform to the Word, not conform to the world. We look heavenward, and not to the world. And we no longer go a whoring after the devil’s music:
Ye adulterers and
Born-again believers no longer go a whoring after the world. Therefore, a true church does not go a whoring after the devil’s music. It obeys God’s command: “Be ye separate” (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
A true church adamantly and unashamedly rejects “Christian” rock ‘n’ roll. As to the argument that rock ‘n’ roll is merely a “style” of music: “Style” is a particular character of music just as a person’s style is an expression of his moral character. For example, the homosexual “lifestyle” is sexual perversion. Likewise, a person’s choice of music “style” expresses what is in his heart: “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:18,19). Rock ‘n’ roll – 1950s black slang for sex - was born out of an evil heart: rebellion against God and His command to be holy.
The heathen festivals were known for their songs of drunken revelry. Christian rock ‘n’ roll is revelling, which is condemned by the Bible (Galatians 5:21; 1 Peter 4:3). The Greek word for “revellings” is often used of drunken youths parading the streets, or of festal processions in honor of Bacchus. And “revellings” reminds of us drunken or high rock stars prancing the stages raging songs in honor of hedonism.
In a true church, the sanctuary is filled with holy music. A sanctuary is a holy place. It is a place of refuge from the world. When we enter a sanctuary, we shut out the world and take refuge in the Holy of Holies, and offer pure sacrifices of praise to the Lord God Almighty.
Rock ‘n’ roll is bringing worldliness into a place of holiness.
Rock ‘n’ roll is blasphemy in the holy sanctuary.
Music must be wholly consecrated to God. Church music must never pander to low tastes – Christian “rock” and other worldly music – and degrade sacred worship. This is sacrilege in the sanctuary.
Christian music must be sanctified.
Christian music must kindle a holy emotion, not merely a human emotion.
We must sing “with the Holy Spirit;” and the Holy Ghost must fall upon our spirits (1 Corinthians 14:15). Then our worship is acceptable to God who desires that worshippers “worship the Father in spirit and in truth” (John 4:23).
A true church understands that religious songs are sermons…they preach a message. Making sure that all songs in the church are doctrinal and holy is just as important as making sure that all sermons are doctrinal and holy.
The pastor of a true church understands he is accountable to God to “teach my people the difference between the holy and the profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean” (Ezekiel. 44:23). Therefore, he will approve only doctrinal and reverent church music.
America will be great again when our sanctuaries are filled with holy music.
Divine Worship Must Be Done Decently and Orderly
God is “not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints” (1 Corinthians 14:33). Therefore, a true church understands Paul’s charge to the Corinthians to let all things be done decently and in order.
Let all things be done
decently and in order.
Matthew Henry comments:
(2.) He charges them to let all things be done decently and in order (v. 40), that is, that they should avoid every thing that was manifestly indecent and disorderly. Not that they should hence take occasion to bring into the Christian church and worship any thing that a vain mind might think ornamental to it, or that would help to set it off. Such indecencies and disorders as he had remarked upon were especially to be shunned. They must do nothing that was manifestly childish (v. 20), or that would give occasion to say they were mad (v. 23), nor must they act so as to breed confusion, v. 33. This would be utterly indecent; it would make a tumult and mob of a Christian assembly. But they were to do things in order; they were to speak one after another, and not all at once; take their turns, and not interrupt one another. To do otherwise was to destroy the end of a Christian ministry, and all assemblies for Christian worship. Note, Manifest indecencies and disorders are to be carefully kept out of all Christian churches, and every part of divine worship. They should have nothing in them that is childish, absurd, ridiculous, wild, or tumultuous; but all parts of divine worship should be carried on in a manly, grave, rational, composed, and orderly manner. God is not to be dishonoured, nor his worship disgraced, by our unbecoming and disorderly performance of it and attendance at it.
Nothing in the service should be indecent or disorderly. And everything in the service must be worshipful. As for announcements, they detract from the spirituality of the service. Therefore, church events should be published in the weekly bulletin or e-mailed. They should not be read as part of the church service because it interrupts the worshipful spirit.
Moreover, a true church does not applaud the choir or other music. This turns the sacrifice of worship in song into a public performance to be applauded by an audience. There are exceptions. For example, after the singing of Handel’s “Halleluiah” chorus. This is a masterpiece that stirs our hearts and we naturally burst into thunderous applause because of its powerful message. But to merely applaud every “performance” in church turns the service into a show.
America will be great again when divine worship is done decently and in order.
We Must Present Our Best Appearance in the Lord's House
A true church will search the Scriptures to learn how the Lord would have His sons and daughters dress to attend His House.
So, what does God say about dress in His House? Jesus’ parable of the marriage feast as recorded in the Book of Matthew provides insight…
And when the
king came in to see the
Of course, the spiritual truth of this teaching is that we must appear before the King of kings in robes of righteousness. Without robes of righteousness, we cannot sit among the guests at the marriage feast of the Lamb with His bride the Church. If we want to “come and dine” with Jesus we must not be self-willed, but obey God’s will as expressed in His commands. And the only way we can wear a robe of righteousness is through repentance and obedience.
overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment;
Unquestionably, the guest invited to the marriage feast in Jesus' parable did not present himself in appropriate attire for the solemn occasion. Clearly, he disregarded the respectfulness of the occasion and insulted the king. Therefore, the king rebuked the guest for transgressing the rules of decorum. The guest’s act was self-willed. He was not going to be told what to wear: the king must welcome him to the feast even though he was dressed inappropriately.
And today’s rebellious church dresses casually in play clothes, both children and adults: shorts, flip-flops, jeans, and so forth. They are not going to be told what to wear to church. They are self-willed. They are defiant. Even if adults dress in their Sunday best, youth make their demands: If the pastor and the congregation want them to come to church, they must be allowed to dress comfortably, even if it means jeans and athletic shoes (intended for athletics). They must be allowed to show irreverence in dress. And, unfortunately, churches give in to their willful defiance.
Instead of training children to show respect for the Lord’s House, parents, pastors, and other church leaders give in and allow them to dress disrespectfully. This isn’t training. It’s indulgence.
The good Christian parent, like the virtuous woman, is concerned with the children’s clothing, and making a good appearance.
She is not afraid of the
Matthew Henry comments: “All her household are clothed in scarlet, strong cloth and fit for winter, and yet rich and making a good appearance.”
The Reverend W.J. Deane explains:
For all her household
are clothed with scarlet; with warm garments. The word used is shanim,
derived from a verb meaning “to shine,” and denoting a crimson or deep
scarlet colour. This colour was supposed, and rightly, to absorb and retain
heat, as white to repel it; being made of wool, the garments would be warm
as well as stately in appearance.”
The virtuous woman was concerned not only with the practicality of her family’s clothing, but also their appearance. Like good parents, a true church desires the children to be respectfully dressed in the Lord’s House.
Parents and churches neglectful of their God-given responsibilities insist that appearance does not matter. They are unfaithful stewards. We are not only educating God’s children in His Word; we are clothing God’s children. And God’s children must have a pleasing appearance. But we allow them to wear casual clothes - play clothes - in the House of the Lord.
This is permissive church policy instead of godly training.
A true church understands that play clothes are inappropriate dress in church for children and adults. It shows a gross lack of dignity; it shows a gross lack of reverence for God’s House.
Churches used to uphold high culture, including appropriate church dress, but it has rapidly declined into low culture. Of course, this decline in the culture of churches can be traced to the 1960s rebellion against the “establishment,” or authority. And some etiquette books after the 1970s do not even talk about appropriate dress or decorum in church.
America will be great again when churches shows respect for the Lord's House by presenting our best appearance in His sanctuary.
Holiness Begins at
A true church admonishes families to study the Bible and worship at home. Holiness begins at home. It is the duty of parents to train up children in the way of the Lord. And if they depart from the way of righteousness, hopefully, their early training will bring them back to the way of the Lord. Too often parents shirk their responsibility and put the burden on the church. But training children in holiness and righteousness must begin in the home.
Reverend C. Clemance explains:
the home, our God looks to the parent to give it its character, tone, and
influence. A child’s religious faith is, in a high and holy sense, to be
chosen for him by anticipation, by those who we “in Christ before” him…By a
variety of ways, the parent is to see his child’s spirit early saturated
with the truths of God. (1) By talking of them, in the house and out of it
(ver.7). (2) By exhibiting them, not only in the literal sense, but in a
higher spiritual one. (3) By writing them. Thus the child is from the
first to be regarded as God’s child, to be trained for him. He is to
receive God’s Word through the avenues of eye, ear, intellect, heart. Divine
truth is to be ever before him, night and day, indoors and out. Those who
gave him birth and who love him best, are to mould his young life for God;
he is to grow up as the Lord’s rightful possession, with the view of his
afterwards saying, in the spirit of devout surrender, “I am the Lord’s!” (Isa.
Parents are to train their children as the Lord’s rightful possession, and the child’s spirit is to be early in life saturated with the truths of God. Woe unto the parents who neglect a child’s training at home! They shall give an account to God for neglecting this great duty.
Training must include home Bible study. The influence of the Bible is great and powerful. It affords home security and happiness, and removes family friction. It promotes union and harmony, expunges all selfishness, makes the home holy and delightful.
Worship must be regular and devout, and the whole family must participate. The Bible should be the primary source for Bible study: there are stories suitable for all ages. And children should be taught from an early age to read Scripture properly. Listening to CDs of Alexander Scourby reading the Bible is good training for children and adults.
America will be great again when our homes are filled with holy worship.
True Education Teaches Truth
A true church knows that secular schools undermine children’s Christian education at home and church. Therefore, a true church encourages home schools, or starts a church school. And since they are educating God’s children, the highest academic standards are applied and expected.
A true church understands that
a church school must be built on the firm foundation of Scripture. The Bible
is not merely integrated into the curriculum. Instruction is dominated by
the Bible. In a true Christian school, the Bible is the only source of
Truth. Truth is not found in philosophy and theology.
If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
John 8:31, 32
A true Christian school does not teach “Biblical worldview” which is a substitute for Biblical Truth.
A true Christian school boldly and unashamedly uses the word “Truth.”
A true Christian school boldly and unashamedly teaches the Truth.
An education without “Truth” is a false education. Only the holy Scriptures can teach us the saving Truth that is able to make us wise unto salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
America will be great again when churches encourage excellent Christian education.
Biblical Work Command vs. Church Welfare
A true church understands that God has called everyone to work in the home, school, workplace, and so forth. Unfortunately, Americans are indifferent to idleness. But this was not always so. America was once a strong and productive nation because we obeyed the Biblical work command. For example, the 1937 edition of The Book of Knowledge states:
Americans have always taken pride in their vocations. All
decent men and
women expect to make their own way in the world by
hard and faithful work.
Our people have always looked down upon any so-called "leisure classes."
Honest, faithful work has always been respected and appreciated in this
Look at the highlighted words: right-minded, decent, hard and faithful work, looked down, and honest, faithful work. Sadly, today many Americans are wrong-minded. The idle demand they are entitled to the fruit of the labor of right-minded, decent, honest and faithful workers. While honest Americans are working, dishonest Americans are wasting their days in idleness. Paul writes to the Thessalonians that “we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). This is the Biblical work command; it is unbiblical to encourage and reward idleness.
And if any
man obey not our word
The idler should be ashamed.
A true church offers true compassion - admonishment and a helping hand - that encourages the idle to obey God's command to work. True Christianity restores man to his noble and upright position as made in the image of God. But if any man refuse admonishment, God commands us not to keep company with him. Idleness is great sin and wickedness. Shame on false Christians who encourage the idle to willfully disobey the Biblical work command! Certainly, no true Christian will burden his fellow citizens by a life of idleness and live off the labor of others - welfare. He that will not work has no right to eat. Men are commanded to provide for their families.
But if any provide not for
Look, wise men simply do not tolerate the idle living off the labor of the workers. It is time for churches and Christians to reevaluate their charity to the poor. They must evaluate charity according to Biblical principles and give to the deserving poor only.
So, who are the deserving poor? In a letter to Timothy addressing the church’s duty to support widows, the apostle Paul explains the church should give money to deserving widows only. And he specifies the qualifications: First, the widow should be elderly and not young enough to work. Second, she must not have been married numerous times. Third, she must be known for her good works. Paul admonishes Timothy to turn away young widows because their idleness will lead to no good – busybodies and tattlers. And, if the widow has living relatives they are to support the widow – not the church! “If any man or woman that believeth have widows, let them relieve them, and let not the church be charged; that it may relieve them that are widows indeed" (1 Timothy 5:4,16). In other words, if a person is in financial need, it is the responsibility of their family to help them, not the church!
So, who is deserving of charity? According to Paul, the elderly widow who meets the qualifications set forth in his letter to Timothy is deserving of our charity. And the Bible tells us orphans are deserving of our charity (James 1:27). Also, when we meet a man or woman who claims to be in need, we must pray for discernment.
A true church demands that every man fulfill his duty of work.
A true church does not encourage and enable the lazy.
America will never be great again as long as we have lazy men and women who burden our nation.
Contrary to Scripture, modern churches don’t admonish the lazy – they comfort and encourage them! So-called “ministries” give the lazy free food, free housing, free clothing, free medical care, and other handouts so they can spend their welfare checks on booze, cigarettes, drugs, etc.
Jesus repeatedly said: "Follow me." So, if we follow Jesus through the Scriptures, clearly even though the disciples had a money bag, neither Jesus nor His disciples ever went about feeding the poor, including the lazy. Unquestionably, Jesus could have done so as evidenced by feeding the multitudes more than once. In other words, Jesus Christ could have miraculously fed all the poor and hungry. But Jesus did not set up church welfare programs.
In fact, John 6 records Jesus rebuking the people for seeking Him for bread:
26 Jesus answered them and said,
verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles,
but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.
Clearly, Jesus reproved the multitude for following Him because He fed them on several occasions. Jesus made it very clear that His ministry did not consist of handouts. His ministry was concerned with their spiritual needs, not their physical needs.
America will be great again when churches refuse to support the idle.
Holy Days Are Celebrated Reverently and Joyfully
A true church understands there are Christian holy days, such as Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas. And it observes them reverently and joyfully. It does not celebrate them as pagan or humanist holidays with Easter egg hunts, Santa Claus, lavish “Christian” programs that mix Christmas carols with secular songs and stories, Celtic dancers, and other profane amusements. At Christmas, congregants send out Christian Christmas cards, not cards of Santa proclaiming “Happy Holidays” or other secular messages.
America will be great again when churches reverently celebrate holy seasons.
Holiness vs. Worldliness
A true church is not worldly-minded. The congregation of a true church does not idolize Hollywood or “Christian” celebrities and pattern their lives after them. They do not fashion themselves after heathen culture: dreadlocks; tattoos and body piercing; immodest clothing, rock music, and so forth. A true church does not praise movies or movie stars. In fact, a true church shuns most movies and TV shows because of their profanity and immorality. And a true church does not commend Hollywood "Christian" movies. These movies pervert the Bible and present a false gospel.
America will be great again when churches denounce worldliness and extol holiness.
What Will Make America Great Again?
America is only as great as the communities within it. And communities are only as good as the moral character of their people. And the foundation of great communities and great nations is true churches bearing good fruit – true Christians.
Every true church makes America a better nation.
Every false church makes America a worse nation.
A true church preaches and teaches holiness and righteousness bearing the good fruit of holy and righteous Christians.
And holy and righteous Christians make good citizens.
And good citizens make good communities.
And good communities make a great nation.
What will make America great again?
A nation of true churches bearing good fruit - true Christians.
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