Materially Rich But Spiritually Bankrupt
By Grant Phillips
When Jesus set up His Church by the Apostles in the first century, many local churches were dirt poor. Some had a little money or other goods, and shared with other churches in need. Nothing existed at that time however, on the scale of today. Today’s churches are much larger and very wealthy.
Paul, Barnabas, Silas, Timothy, Titus, Peter, Mark, etc. did not have the luxury of the simplest things we take for granted, such as electricity. Everything you can think of in a church auditorium that requires electricity, they did not have. Air-conditioning, forget it? Thermostat controlled heat in winter, forget it? My goodness! They had no sound equipment! Alas, not even modern kitchen/cafeteria conveniences. Their mode of transportation would more than likely have been their two feet. Therefore, no parking lots, automobiles and buses. They had no cushy padded pews or soft carpet to walk on.
There is something else they did not have, that we have been blessed with from the inception of this great country. They did not have the freedom we have enjoyed for over two hundred years. We have always been able to worship and witness for Jesus Christ with absolutely no fear of governmental retribution. To the contrary, they were constantly being persecuted by the government of that day for speaking out for Jesus, even to the point of losing their lives for doing so. However, they did have something most churches of today have lost; the Holy Spirit of God in their midst.
Most of us have heard of America’s mega churches, but did you know that now there are giga churches? Giga churches are larger than mega churches in that they have a weekly attendance of 10,000 or more. I noticed that the largest of the giga churches shows a weekly attendance of 45,500 for the year 2011.
I don’t know how much money these churches take in weekly, but let’s just pretend that everyone throws a dollar in the offering plate once a week. That would be $10,000 per week or $520,000 per year for the smallest giga church. The top giga church would rake in $45,500 per week or $2,366,000 per year. Now I know these numbers are very unrealistic, on the short end that is, but that still sounds like a big chunk of change to me.
Not even considering the huge number of mega churches, there are reportedly seventy giga churches as of 2011. Obviously, millions and millions of dollars are being placed in the bank accounts of these churches. Don’t forget money made from sales of books, CDs, outside contributions, group cruise trips, and ad infinitum. Where is the money going? One doesn’t have to look very far to see where much of it winds up. Could the lavish buildings, the interior amenities of those buildings, vehicles, private planes, multiple personal properties, expensive clothing, frequent trips and other niceties be the landing area for much of it? How much is actually going for causes that truly and honestly advance the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
I haven’t mentioned any names of people or churches. I also realize that some are doing a legitimate work for Jesus Christ, and I know that air time is expensive, but where is the church today? With the numbers being reported, in attendance and dollars, the United States of America would not be in the predicament it is in today if the Word of God were actually being preached and Christians were living for Jesus in the manner He expects of us.
Twelve Apostles turned the world of their day upside down for Christ with little to nothing to go on materially. We today have thousands of Christian leaders and money flowing in from all directions. Someone will say that the Apostles did not change the politics of their day, and they would be correct. They would continue by saying what makes us think we could change the politics of our day. I’ll tell you. The Apostles did not live in a country that was originated under Christian principles by Christian leaders. They did not live under a republic (some think it is a democracy) as we do in this country. They did not live under a Constitution that has its bases in the Word of God. That is the difference.
If the Church would have been obedient to the Lord God over these past 236 years, satanic influences, which have taken over this country, would not have been able to get a foothold. However, greed and laziness have taken over the hearts of most who call themselves Christian. Sadly, many of those who say they are Christians are not. Therefore, many churches have been taken over by rapscallions, preaching a gospel that is not the Gospel but a social gospel, and getting fatter and fatter from those souls they are using for stepping stones to riches.
The churches of America have more in the earthly treasury than at any time in history but less in the Heavenly treasury than ever before. We are materially rich, but we are spiritually bankrupt. Many of the churches in the first century may have been short on material goods, but they were rich in the eyes of God. Even as recently as the nineteenth century (the Philadelphian church), the churches were rich where it counts. What happened? We got our eyes off God, and now judgment is on its way. We have had many years to “get our act together” and we have failed to do so.
Every Christian in this country should fall on their face and call upon the Lord as per the following verses.
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” (Isaiah 1:18)
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)
This is the only hope we have. Perhaps in God’s mercy, He might at least postpone His judgment upon us. I hate to say such a horrible thing, but I don’t see it happening, our repentance that is. I see instead judgment, soon, upon this land.
“16So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” (Revelation 3:16-22)
The Holy Spirit of God is moving in this great land, but not in the circles expected. It is my feeling that He has left many of the local church settings, whether they be giga, mega or small local churches, and has gone back to the homes of individual saints of God who desire His presence. Many true Christians are having home church, home Bible studies, because they are no longer being fed in the local church atmosphere. Generally speaking, the local churches have been taken over by the world, led by unscrupulous pastors who care not for the Truth, but want to entertain and thereby line their pockets. The pews are warmed with those who seek such entertainment but absolutely no commitment for the One they say is their Savior.
Yes, we are materially rich, even in the smallest churches, but how many have riches in Heaven? How many are spiritually bankrupt?