In general, America is a Christian nation; You might say, ‘Scott, thats not true. America is filled with God hating people-look at the way they live!’ This is true, ultimately. What I mean generally is that America is soaked in Christianity. We are drenched in it and the masses of people are by and large raised with this idea. Christianity is the predominant religion and so, it could be said that we are a Christian nation. However, truth be told, since the path is narrow and the way that leads to destruction, wide, most of Americans remain at enmity with the God of the bible.
The church of Christ is made up of two distinctions; that being, external members and internal members:
- The internal members are owned of Christ. They are regenerated-that means, they have a new nature. This new nature gives these internal members power to align with the God of the bible and pursue holiness as it commands. They understand that Christ died in their place and it is because of Christ’s sacrifice and righteousness that they are now back in fellowship with a God that hates sin. Christ is the epicenter of their theology. He is King and they serve Him. Though they walk throughout their days, doing the menial things they do, they are in a constant bowing before the savior. They are in a posture of genuflecting always. They are actively participating in the works and activities of the church. They are baptized individual who are official members in Christ’s church. They attend regularly. They take of the Lord’s supper. They submit to membership and acknowledge that God has given oversight to the elders that lead this church. These members serve the body by their participation and break bread with the brethren. They give money to the church to assist in it’s commission. They can be identified, generally by their fruits (Gal 5). They hate sin and repent from moment to moment. They have the Holy Spirit.
- The external members look much like the internal members but the Holy Spirit does not indwell them. They are moving through this life on their own gas. They do not have a new nature. Many times they believe they have the new nature, however, most all of what they do is based on a level of knowledge of God and is being worked up by wisdom that does not come from above; After the church meeting, this person does not pursue holiness. They believe that going to church gives them favor with God. They do not have the mediation of Christ and hence, their worship is actually seen by God as an abomination. Outside of Christ, God hates them and hates their worship tactics. Their is no real bowing before the Lord. These external member, many times hold membership in the local church. They take of the supper. They break bread with the people of God. They are resourceful. They have the fruits of the spirit in an external sense-it is not true in that outside of Christ and the actual filling of the Holy Spirit, they are moving about in their own efforts. It is hay and stubble, to be burned up on the last day. Many times, these individuals do not know that they are producing hay and stubble. They believe they are saved and in Christ.
There is a caveat to the above and these are the people I am really intent on addressing in this writing; that being, those outside of the distinctions I posed above. It is this ‘mass’ that I want to address. It being that American can be seen as a Christian nation, most people you ask would tell you that they are Christians. If you went to any mall in America and asked 100 people what religious affiliation they were, I can almost guarantee you that 75/100 would say they were Christian. It is these that is of a greater concern, even more so than those who are external members that are actually attached to a local church. yes those in the local church that are external is greatly concerning and in some ways, may be even more desensitized than those walking in the mall, but at least these people are sitting under Gospel preaching. The only way a man can be saved is under the gospel and that Gospel is continuously preached to them, whereas the mall walker is not hearing the Gospel repetitiously. Yes their taking of the Sacrament illicitly is a condemnation to them, heaping up additional sin; but some of God’s elect are these people and they will eventually come to the place where God does save them and give them the Holy Spirit. This cannot happen away from the preaching (Rom 10:17). Are you one of these people who believe that you are of Christ yet has no relationship with His bride, the church? You may say to me, “Scott, I go to church on the high holy days of the faith!” God is not tickled by your feeble attempt in showing up to His church a few times a year. As well, again, if your nature has not been miraculously changed, a change that your spirit knows, your spirit bearing witness with the Holy Spirit, it is most likely you remain in your sins. Saying you are of Christ and having no relationship with the power that comes with regeneration is misleading. The Psalmist writes in Psalm 42: ‘As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.’ Consider the extent of being in a desert without water for a day and how everything you are, panting after water. The Christian, by and large is like this continuously. Please reader, consider the distinction I make here. Believing you are a Christian and actually being a regenerated individual are not one and the same. Are you thirsty? Do you feel quenched and if so, there is a problem.