The Signs of the Times

Our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, asks,

“Can ye not discern the signs of the times?”

—Matthew 16:3

It’s Wednesday night, and the hottest teen hangout around is packed and throbbing with what seems an unholy beat. A DJ spins dance tunes upstairs, sending boys in sagging pants into contortions. Downstairs, girls surf the Internet from rows of iMacs flanking a glassed-in basketball court. Hundreds of new arrivals flow under a neon sign reading, “One-eighty,” slowed only by a weapons check at the door. With a worship style that’s both hugely popular and way over the top –this night’s service features live motocross stunts– the youth ministry of Tulsa’s Church on the Move has been copied nationwide…Each Wednesday, 2,000 to 3,000 teens pour into what looks like a suburban multiplex in an industrial section of the city. They spend an hour in fellowship –playing free video games, dancing, watching other teens from the flavored water bar– and an hour in an X-Game styled worship service. The ministry started about eight years ago when the Rev. Willie George gave up his mid-week pulpit at Church on the Move, a charismatic Christian megachurch drawing as many as 10,000 weekend worshippers. He wanted to focus on the ailing youth group… And so the youth group scrapped its hokey sing-alongs and beige fellowship hall, adopted a name that suggested the 180-degree turn of repentance, and in 2002 moved into its multi-million-dollar 92,000-square-foot building. The high-tech, entertainment-based approach has become popular among churches looking to draw a crowd, says Mark Oestreicher, president of Youth Specialties, which provides training and resources to youth workers from a variety of Christian denominations.

(The Associated Press, Tulsa, Okla.)

Where is the Scriptural command that it is the duty of the church to provide amusements for the people?  Where in Scripture are we told that in order to win people for the Savior we must provide some kind of entertainment for them?  The commission which the Lord of the Church has given to the Church is crystal-clear!  “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).  And the Apostle Paul’s directive to the pastors is likewise unmistakably clear! “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (II Timothy 4:2).  Look at the example of the apostles in Holy Writ.  There is not even the slightest hint of catering to the whims of the people in order to gain them for the Savior.  Why?  Because they followed the command of the Lord to preach the Gospel.  And that Gospel of Christ is not a dead word but “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Romans 1:16).  The Apostle Paul declares, We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ, the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (I Corinthians 1:2324).  The power lies in the Word of God!  The power of God’s Word to create life is shown us already in the creation of the world.  “And God said”  Whatever He said came into existence (Genesis chapter 1).  And so it is with the Word of Christ, who declares, The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63).  And the Apostle Paul reminds Timothy, From a child thou hast known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Timothy 3:15).  But before this ultimate purpose of the Scriptures the salvation of the individual’s soul can be attained, a new spiritual life must be engendered in the person because every single person is by nature dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1).  And how is this accomplished? “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever” (I Peter 1:23).  Under no circumstances dare we then yield to the whims of worldly-minded people who would have us introduce their “gospel of amusement” which produces no converts but only the temporal satisfaction of the flesh which is the devil’s ally!

M. L. N.