Solemn Assembly October 4, 2008: When the salt is gone - what?
Is it good to gather together? The Bible does tell us in Psalm 33:12 that blessed is the nation whose God has the Lord. And the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.
My name is Paul Jehle and I’m representing Massachusetts. You see, God makes his declaration in his word that he doesn’t just tell us a nation is blessed when God is its Lord, he tells us how the nation is blessed and how you know God is the Lord, it’s the condition of the people he’s chosen for his inheritance. If his people are right with him, it means God is the Lord of that nation, if his people are not right with him, then the nation is cursed, the responsibility lays at the door the God’s people, not at the door of the sinner, but at the ones who know they’re sinners saved by grace.
When our nation was found a 95% of everyone living in America at the time of the declaration of independence went to church and 95% of the churches preached the true gospel, they weren’t all following every part of it but it was that preaching that brought the conviction to bring the inequities in the nation in relation to slavery, in relation to eventual broken covenants with the native Americans to the table to be repented of, if the true gospel hadn’t been preached for 30 or 40 year prior to that, nobody would have repented.
Today only 45% of Americans attend any church and the majority of churches in America no longer preach the true gospel. 25% of our young people are abandoning the faith of their parents before they turn 20. 44% of our young people are switching from Christianity, those are the young people that grow up in evangelical churches. Almost half of those young people switch from Christianity to some other religion while in college. And the religion they’re switching to most often is Islam.
65% of the youth generation after World War II were believers. Today the younger generation born since 1995 are projected to have only 4% embrace Christ. From 65% to 4%, the average believer in New England doesn’t share the faith with one other person in a year. And the average truth growth rate in New England among all churches is 0%. We’re barely replacing the ones that died. Truly we are not the condition of the inheritance of God to restore this nation’s God back to the forefront. But there’s always hope. And that’s why we’re here.
The Bible says in second Timothy 3:15, I write on to you that you would know how you ought to behave in the house of God because the house of God is the pillar and ground of the truth.
In other words, the church God says, is the pillar and ground vertical and horizontal of the truth to the culture. If the church doesn’t get it the culture won’t get it. And if the church coughs the culture gets a cold. So, God is ..... to us this truth, the condition of the church is the condition of a culture 40 years later. Whatever you want the culture to change in, it’s got to change in the church first.
That’s why we’re here. We’re not here pointing fingers at atheists and agnostics and the homosexual community and the individuals that don’t believe in God, and the individuals that want to snuff out a voice of the church. They’re not the problem, we’re the problem and that’s why we’re here. We don’t point fingers at anyone, we get on our knees and go in the closet and if God changes the church then you’re going to see change in the culture.
Today, the divorce rate in the evangelical church and in the culture is virtually the same 55 to 60% divorce rate, and that’s among those that actually get married. 20% of evangelical Christians now admit that they live together they are married. 90% of those who claim to be born again say the Bible is the word of God and my standard, but of that 90% only 9% admit that there are any moral absolutes. The very same survey, the very same believer who says the Bible is the word of God also says there are no absolutes. 91% of the believing populus has no biblical world view.
I’m reminded when the church cries out and they say, how could the nation get to such a low point? Well, the Supreme Court no longer rules by law, how can we become a lowest generation? That’s because the believer kicked out the law 120 ago. We thought we were safe from the law. We’re safe from sin and if a generation gets deceived in a thinking they’re safe from the law, then what they end up doing is they no longer preach against sin, there’s no longer fear of God in the house of God and there’s no longer people willing say what’s unpopular behind the pulpit even if somebody leaves. We are safe by grace and grace is the ability given to us, we don’t have it in ourselves in order to keep whatever commands God has. The law is not our enemy, sin is our enemy. The law is perfect and righteous and as we just heard it read.
It’s the church that kicked out the gospel of grace. You can’t understand grace if you don’t understand law. You will never receive mercy if you don’t know you deserve judgment. And we have a church that’s caught up in its own pride and its own self righteousness because we know when don’t think we’re not sinful any longer we just think they’re sinful. So what we need is another good dose of the judgment of God that comes in this way: you keep the law and you look at the law, and the whole law is perfect and then you say once again, I am so under sin. I could never keep God’s standard and now you’re beginning.
We can affirm it. If we look at the statistics the church looks like the world, acts like the world, has no sense of shame. We dress like the world, we laugh at the same jokes, we blend in with the same values. People at work find out we are a Christian and say, I never knew that. You go to the same parties that i go to, you sing the same songs, you dance the same dances, and you look exactly like everything that I do, I didn’t know you were a Christian. God have mercy on us.
Mathew 5:13 says, “…you’re the salt of the earth, the light of the world. But if the salt loses its savor, how’ll it be salty? It is then good for nothing but to be trodden out under the foot of men”
Jesus says that because we’re the salt you can’t try to be salt, you are salt. If you are the salt of the earth but you no longer have a savor. The Greek means you become inactive and silent. It’s a Greek word that has the truthful meaning to become inactive and passive and to become silent. When the church has become inactive and silent within the culture, no longer thinking of social justice, no longer caring what somebody is going through, no longer willing to sacrifice in order to bring somebody else to a better situation in life. When that is happening we’re no longer salt.
Then the Bible says, Jesus is the one, God is the one that says, I will put a hatred in the world toward the church that is no longer salt and they will put you under their feet. There are two ways you get persecuted in the Bible: you get persecuted because you are righteous, and you get persecuted because you’re not righteous. You get persecuted because you’re not salt.
I believe the majority of persecution in America today is not because the church deserves persecution for its witness on the witness stand, it’s because we’re no longer salt. And we’re being taken to the woodshed revival of God. And God is giving the church a little chastisement but it’s for our good.
Come on, folks, it’s for our good. Don’t worry about these little flea bitings in the culture because we’re going to affirm that the people of God sent here in New England had a heart, when the puritans and the pilgrims came here, they actually expected the culture to reflect their lifestyle, they were active in church, they actively voted in their values at the ballot box.
Did you know election day in New England was a holiday? Do you know how election days worked in New England? They had to parade on election day, nobody went to work, the parade was lead by every clergymen in the town, every pastor lead the parade, behind the pastors were all the candidates for public office. And where did the parade go? It went from the town green to the church and when they got in the church the candidates sat in the front row and a pastor was chosen from the community to preach for 2 and a half hours to the candidates while everybody listened on what made a good civil ruler.
I have already admitted that if I was invited to such a thing I would probably accept because God word was laid out as the standard by which everyone would vote. No pastor said vote for this one instead of that one, they just said, everyone of you people running for office, listen to what the word of God says is a good civil magistrate and what a good civil magistrate does in keeping his oath and that everybody that’s going to vote this afternoon listen to the word of God as well and you pray, and you match the best candidate to God’s qualification.
But 4 years ago, on 30% of the evangelical community that was registered to vote even went to the ballot box. And twice as many evangelical Christians aren’t registered to vote at all. We recognize ……… responsibility of Wall Street but Christians live in debt, the culture is merely reflecting us. God let us see our hypocrisy. Help us, Lord, to lead the way to the cross, help us know what you want to do, Lord. So, as we now begin the transition against and into prayer, we want to affirm some things.
First of all we want to affirm that though we are unholy as people, though we’ve let carnality in the church, we’ve let down the standards, we water down the preaching of God’s word from …., no longer does the word of God thunder in righteousness, no longer the people tremble before the word of God. We’ve made it so easily apart of carnal Christianity that it won’t offend and yet, we need to affirm that no matter how bad we’ve become, we can begin to say God you can forgive, you will forgive us because of your blood, you died on the cross to be the substitute for all this inefficiency.
And God we thank you, we affirm that because of who you are we are now holy, because you are righteous, we are righteous, because you are the head, we are the head, because Lord God you’ve lifted this up, we are lifted up and we can affirm with our forefathers before us, the purposes of God. In 1606 the pilgrims declared in their covenant, we will walk in all the ways made known or be made known to us by the word of God according to our best endeavors whatsoever it should cost us, the Lord assisting us, God help us affirm it.
William Bradford stated as one small candle shall light a thousand, so the light here candle, can shine unto many even to a whole nation. Oh God we affirm it. When John White had his vision for the town of Salem in 1626 he said this, oh, God it will be a service to the church and of a great consequence, we will carry the gospel into those parts of the world and it will be a bold work against the spirit of the anti Christ.
Spiritual war, we affirm it. The charter of Massachusetts said this, that everyone be so religiously peaceably and civilly governed as their good life and orderly conduct will win and insight even the natives to the ………. of the only true God and savior of mankind and to the Christian faith. That was the mission of Massachusetts. That’s why John …….. in 1630 made this same mistake, he said, look, we’re fine that the God of Israel is among us, when ten of us will be able to resist a thousand of our enemies, when it will make us to praise in glory that people will save the succeeding generations, Lord, make it like that of New England.
So we must consider that we shall be as city on a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us, however, if we deal falsely with our God in this work we’ve undertaken, and cause him to withdraw his presence and help from us, we will be made a story and a byword throughout the world. Now, we will open the mouth of enemies by speaking of the ways of God and all the professors, for God’s sake, we will shame the faces of those who come against us when we cause our prayers to be turned. If we disobey, our prayers will turn into cursing.
But he ended his discourse, beloved, is now set before you life and good, death and evil. Choose life, that we in our seed may live for he is our life and our prosperity. Amen.
In 1735 governor Jonathan Belcher had the …. of the great awakening. He was called the revival governor and as governor his first delivery message to the state legislation of Massachusetts was to say to them this: you are charged before God never to pass a law that in any way would ……. evil. You are to praise Jesus Christ, the chief law giver. He was scarily bold. He said this in 1735 and is called for a day of fasting and prayer above all that God would grant on to us plentiful effusions of Holy Spirit, that the sense of his righteous pleasure against us may affect the general repentance and reformation throughout the whole land, that the Kingdom that the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ may come and the whole earth be filled with his glory.
It was tested when 9, 11 years later, when the French decided to totally wipe out all the 13 colonies and the threat was there, what did New England do? They knelt and they prayed and God answered, and it’s that answer that we’re looking for today as we kneel and pray.
I would like to ask David Manual and Peter ……. if they would come up, authors of the Light of the glory, God tells us to honor those that have gone before us. These two individuals have sacrificed years to bring the truth of God back to a generation. I would like to ask you to come up and lead us in prayer. I would like us to get on our knees before the Lord and ask God to bring us to the place that we would be willing to affirm and restore the covenants that God has given to us in a corporate prayer, would you lead us?
You show us how to do it, Father, and we did it, our forefathers did it and you honored their obedience and you blessed them for their repentance and their contrition. We need to relearn those lessons 300 years later, we need to be once again convicted as they were at their heart of hearts that we might surrender all to you every last bit of it and let you have your way with us and our churches and our people and our future as a state and as a nation, in Jesus’ name.
Father, we look back on what you did on this very soil, how the hearts of the people who first came here were turned toward you and toward the Lord Jesus. We hear this afternoon what they said and what they prayed, how they exhorted one another that we confess to our shame, that we bear little resemblance to them in our hearts. We have not lived this life which they lived and pointed out for their descendance to copy and emulate, we can only come in repentance this afternoon, Father, and get down on our knees before you and bow low before your holiness and declare that we are unholy, our hands are not clean and our hearts are not pure. We must renew our covenant with you, Father, that covenant which you established in the Lord Jesus Christ with those who first came to these shores.
Here I cry, Father, this afternoon that you purify our hearts and turn our hearts to the Lord Jesus in such great measure that your grace may be able to come once again to this very place, to this land, to New England where you birth this nation, you called them many times to repentance, Father, and they repented and once again, you’re calling us this afternoon to repent on behalf of all New England and all of America that you’re again, Lord, the flame of faith in Jesus Christ may be re… it may burn so brightly once again, that a whole nation may catch fire from it, that we may become your people, the people of the covenant once again. Lord, grant a spirit of repentance here that will last far beyond this meeting, beyond next week and next month. Lord have mercy on us, we pray for we come to you, Lord, pleading for your grace. We cannot cleanse our own hearts, we cannot purify ourselves but you, oh Lord, can do it here in this place. Grant that we this afternoon may become so purified that we can be true intercessors for ourselves, for one another, for New England and for America before it’s too late, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
(Video Credit: praytv.org. Contact producer Brandt Gillespie at praytv.org or use this order form to obtain a DVD of the Solemn Assembly. The DVD contains all presentations given at the Solemn Assembly (including Paul Jehle's talk).)