Man often looks at his future with a somewhat jaundiced eye. Recent surveys indicate that a large segment of our population is pessimistic about the future. It is said that morality is declining just as violence is rising, Isaiah 5:18-23. It appears that from fields of politics all the way to education – even religion – leadership seems to be departing from righteousness.
I'm not as pessimistic as some, but it is easy to give way to despair these days. Yet, I can see a time that could be much worse than the past. It truly will be a sad day when:
We Have No More Qualified Elders in the Church
The key word here is "qualified," and the church is now, and has been for some time, in desperate need of men who are biblically qualified to serve as bishops, elders of Christ's Church. It doesn't happen overnight, but it takes time to gain knowledge of scripture, to mature, to acquire wisdom and the desire to serve God and others. Many congregations are already at this tragic point. We need men who will, in humility and service, qualify themselves to be God's servants, and that must begin early in life.
Sermons Don't Challenge Us to Grow
There is a growing trend toward short, funny, "wet-eyed sermons that make you feel good all over."
Of course, the emotion must be there, but today we need sermons that convict us of our sins; that reveal to us the word of God; that call us back to the ways of God; that tell us lovingly – yet plainly, of our shortcomings; that tell us what we must do to remedy those areas of our life that do not measure up. The "feel-good-all-over" sermon will merely make us complacent in our "do-nothing" attitudes. We will always need sermons like those preached by Jeremiah, Jesus, John the Baptist and Stephen. We may not always feel good, but we can be good in the eyes of God!
We Fail to Send Out Missionaries
It costs money to send men out to preach the Word. There are many pitfalls, many difficulties associated with mission work. It takes hours of planning and labor, and it will always be easier to "take care of business at home." But if we cease to send men out to preach to the lost, we will be hiding the gospel from the ones who need it most;
"But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost," 2 Corinthians 4:3.
It will be a sad day when we hide the gospel.
Sin No Longer is Hated
We are now seeing many that do not even want to hear the word sin in a sermon. The word "repent" has come to mean "I'm sorry," without the biblical change of heart and life, 2 Corinthians 7:9f. Alexander Pope, in his 1732 Essay On Man, wrote:
Sin is a monster of such frightful countenance; That to be hated needs but to be seen; Yet seen too often, familiar with her face, We first endure, then pity, then embrace.
Similarly, the prophet Amos wrote, "Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate," Amos 5:15.
When Parents Cease to be Parents
There are so many agencies and bureaus that serve as advocates for the children's rights today that it is tempting for some parents to merely turn their children over to them. It's sad because children need mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters, not just "care providers," or advocates. Fathers, to whom God has given the primary responsibility to provide for their family, are also given the responsibility to "bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord," Ephesians 6:4.
When parents leave the training of manners, morals, social skills and nutrition to the school, coach, counselor, or church, the parent has abandoned his/her role in that child's upbringing. It is already happening, and social scientists say today's turmoil in the family is just a preview of what will be commonplace in the 21st century.
Warnings About Sin Are Associated Only With the Past
There is already a concerted effort to ignore biblical precepts about morality and righteous living. Morality, if discussed at all, is seen only from the viewpoint of the situation or one's own personal ethics. If someone speaks of hell, punishment or judgment, he/she may be characterized as archaic, legalistic or Victorian. Sin is as new as last night, but if elders and preachers of the Word are not warning about sin, then they are not doing what God demands (see Hebrews 13:17, Luke 13:3-5, 1 Thessalonians 5:14, Ezekiel 33:6-8).
This is every Christian's task, but when that becomes out-dated, then the sad days will truly be upon us.
These need not be dark times – we have much for which to give thanks. Remember; light always shines best in the darkest places, and we are called to be that light, Philippians 2:15.