“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things” (Romans 1:20-23).
After the fall there remained only an imperfect knowledge of God. But even such imperfect knowledge supported by God’s creation of the world, conscience also testifying to His existence, testifies to the unregenerate that there just might be a god somewhere out there– a god to whom they will one day be accountable. However, since they reject the Holy Scriptures, the revealed knowledge of the Triune God and the Savior, they proceed to create idols of wood and stone or of their mind or try to appease their god through works. They create their own form of worship whether it is private or corporate worship of some nameless, faceless god. “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and change(d) the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things”
May 2, 2019 was National Day of Prayer. In 1952, Congress set aside a day “for Americans to turn ‘to God in prayer and meditation at churches, in groups and as individuals.’” Almost 70 years ago this legislative nod to God had at least a tinny ring of religiousity. In congress today such a resolution as a show of piety rings of ludicrous hypocrisy. With a recent report, we were told, however, that many Americans pray every day – not just on the Day of Prayer. Out of 102 countries examined for frequency of prayer, Pew research says the United States is unique in that it has both a high level of wealth and high level of daily prayer among its population.
Except that such a day may give some people pause from mayhem, chaos, and protest, a National Day of Prayer for the Christ-believer, as well intended as it might be, is unnecessary, and for the denier of the Triune God and idol-worshiper, meaningless. Who is the God to whom people are to turn—yours, mine, theirs? Is it Allah, Buddha, or some self-proclaimed egotist? The God of Israel says, “I am the Lord your God…You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20: 2-3). And even as Israel rejected Christ Jesus it did not and does not worship the true God: “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either…” (1 John 2:23).
Christ-believers who accept the Bible as the inspired word of God worship the true God Who is the Creator, the Redeemer, the Sanctifier. He is Triune. He is eternal. He alone is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, unchanging. He is the God beside whom there is no other (1Corinthians 8:4). He is the God of love (1 John 4:8). He is the God of grace and mercy, as well as the Judge of all mankind, Who has redeemed the world from death and hell, and Who by His Spirit creates the faith which moves the regenerate to say, “I believe.” He is the God who has in Christ prepared for all who believe a home in His presence. He is the God who will come on judgment day and say to weary but waiting souls, “Enter into your rest.” The Christ-believer does not need to be told to whom to pray, or when to pray. Furthermore, true prayer is addressed to the Heavenly Father by His children in the name of Jesus Christ. Such are the prayers the Heavenly Father hears.
On the other hand, every god of man’s imagination died, is dead, is dying, or will die. Perhaps they who create their own god need a special day, but to what end? Of idols Isaiah said, “Those who make an image, all of them are useless, and their precious things shall not profit; They are their own witnesses; They neither see nor know, that they may be ashamed. Who would form a god or mold an image that profits him nothing” (44:9-10)?
Simultaneous to the article on prayer, an article in the April 2019 Daily Signal, an on-line news source, said that 15% of people in Europe say they believe in God, while 63% of Americans say they believe in God. Again, there again is no reference to which God.
Said the Daily Signal:: “Yes, America is much more religious than Western Europe, but that doesn’t seem to be making much difference on the big-ticket cultural issues of the day… “Despite our religiosity, we continue drifting in Europe’s direction on issue after issue.”
The article proceeds to speak of how the United States is following Europe’s lead. For example, according to a Gallup poll, so called same sex-marriage now finds 67% approval in the United States as compared to 60% 20 years ago.
Also, on gender issues, “Americans are becoming more accepting of transgenderism as pop culture, media, and schools promote the idea that gender is based on feelings, rather than an objective standard tied to biology.” Notice the reference to public schools!
Another poll revealed “Most Americans also are fine using transgender pronouns. According to the poll, only 1 in 5 Americans would use the pronoun of a transgender person’s biological (real) sex” (Ipsos survey from 2017).
NOTE: The drift toward Europe is a drift away from the Lord and His Word and true Christian teaching with Christ at its center which drift, as a consequence, leads to the same cultural and societal evil that envelopes Europe.
Though the Lord has His elect out of every nation, Christianity itself is dying in Europe. America is on that path. “…unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3).
It is not a secret that morals in America are deteriorating, in part sadly, because generally even among the majority of those who profess it, understanding what constitutes Christianity is no deeper than, “What would Jesus do?” This is, however, not the essence of Biblical Christianity. Christianity is not defined by what Jesus would do, nor by the imposition of moral codes and rules. The substance of Christianity is the proclamation of salvation by grace through faith in Christ Jesus whose blessings are transmitted to the hearer through the means of grace— the gospel in word and Sacrament. The gospel is the power of God unto conversion from spiritual death to spiritual life. It is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). Christian teaching proclaims the divine law which uncovers sin and condemns the sinner, and the gospel which teaches and seals to the troubled sinner the forgiveness of sins and eternal life in Christ Jesus. The exhortation to put off the old man with the corruption that infects the flesh and society is not accomplished by promoting what Jesus would do. Putting on through repentance and faith the new man “created according to God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22-24), is the work of the Spirit through the gospel. The gospel creates faith and the sanctified will in the life of the regenerate to the glory and praise of God.
The source of true Christian preaching and teaching is the Bible. The focus of true Christian preaching, teaching, prayer, and worship is the Triune God. The source and focus of secularism and morality-based Christianity is man. That America is more religious than another country, or prays more, is no more than a pharisaical feel-good exercise because the beginning, center, and end of its focus is not Christ, the divine Word.
Though the article does not address the real mission of the Church which is the proclamation of the gospel, nevertheless, it describes the sorry state of what most Americans understand as Christianity: “What we have in America is a radical separation of God from “reality”—the real world that we claim to live in. It’s not that we reject “God” per se, but we reject a God who comes with a certified worldview package—a God who orders the universe, sets moral norms, defines our being, and binds our consciences to a moral code in this world—today” (Our emphasis).
Reference is made to secularism that is overtaking Christianity: “This secularism is more pronounced in Europe, no doubt. Yet it wields extraordinary power in America because so many of us—even religious believers—have conceded vital ground, saying that divine truth has little or nothing to do with this world. In relegating “belief” to the realm of private opinion, we have made our bed and are now living in it” (Our emphasis).
Secularism is the national religion. It is promoted in government, in educational institutions, and in society. To the shame of the apostate church, secularism is abetted by the departure from the Word of God. Another writer is quoted as saying, “We have become a nation of heretics.” Heretics individually or corporately teach contrary to the Word of God and promote opinions contrary to the law of God. They proclaim another gospel.
The Church and the apostles were beset by heretics who undermined the cardinal doctrine of Christianity – justification and salvation by grace through faith in Christ Jesus (Read Romans and Ephesians). The same heresy spawned the Reformation. The world promotes its own righteousness. Social gospel purveyors impose rules and codes of conduct instead of pure preaching of law and gospel. This is an attack against the Lord and His Church and undermines the authority of divine truth as well as the substance and blessings of the means of grace.
America may be more religious and pray more than other countries. But apostasy in the church and the abandonment of morals in society suggest, “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men” (Isaiah 29:13, Matthew 15:8).