By Raymond Harris
In 2 Peter 3:3, the Apostle wrote: “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts.” The text indicates that self-willed men, determined to do as they please, will mock, scorn and ridicule the idea of temperance in view of judgment to come. They are so bent on doing as they please, they willfully deceive themselves and dismiss all the Bible has to say regarding the wrath and terror that can come from God when His commandments are despised and rejected.
Today we are witnessing this attitude both in and out of religious circles.
I. The World. The last 40 years have seen an unbelievable slide in morals. We as Israel of old (Jer.6:15) have so digressed that there are few who feel shame or who can blush.
1. Men and women have mouths that spew out vulgarity both privately and in public.
2. Immodest dress has evolved to nudity as streakers and sunbathers are arrested regularly for indecent exposure.
3. Pornography dominates the movies, TV, magazines and the written word.
4. Legislators have legalized adultery as state after state has adopted no fault divorce. And so, divorce and remarriage have swept the nation and “marriage vows” are a mockery.
5. The courts have legalized infant murder by making “abortion on demand” the law of the land. In the last 11 years, 15 million babies have been aborted. We are “legally” aborting a whole generation of our own nation.
6. Homosexuality and lesbianism are being flaunted to the point that a great and proud nation has become a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah.
7. Murderers, rapists, alcoholics, etc., are excused as being “sick” and the poor victims of a blundering society that aggravated them with poverty, social injustice and child abuse.
8. Our public school system is being ravaged with Humanism. Discipline, prayer, good manners, respect for the elderly and “school spirit” have given way to sex education, evolution and situation ethics.
9. We have become a nation nearly void of ethics, honesty, integrity and sympathy.
Hence, it is not surprising that influences such as we have mentioned above have left their mark on those professing religion. Just as the evils of the pagan society of the Roman Empire, influenced and tainted many churches of New Testament times, many who profess to be religious today merely “seem to be religious” (James 1:26).
II. The Church Of Christ. Sadly, a large portion of the church of Christ has been infiltrated and over run by modernism, social activities, recreation, the social gospel, materialism and worldliness. Here we give a partial list of some things that have come to our attention lately.
1. Businesses such as skating rinks and even Opryland U.S.A. in Nashville, TN, have picked up on the fun, fun attitude prevailing among many churches of Christ. They now offer special rates for large church groups. Opryland now for the third year in a row has set aside a special day for “Church of Christ” young people. “Church of Christ youths from across the country” will gather at 9:00 A.M. June 23, 1984 in the Opry house for an hour of fellowship. There will be special entertainment and then the rest of the day will be spent enjoying “America’s only musical show park.” I wonder if Jesus would go if He was on earth that day?
2. From another source we learn that religious drama is becoming an important part of their teaching program. No, we are not talking about the “Puppet Ministry.” That’s old hat. Now it’s real stage plays. It seems the high school class dramatized the Bible story of “The Feast.” They acted out the parable before the rest of the Bible classes. After each person in the story gave his reason for not coming; the entire audience was invited to the feast and all the children received popcorn and marshmallows. With such “party time” antics, I wonder if any child there went away understanding that Jesus was in fact teaching, that to come to the feast, is to obey the gospel, be baptized and be a citizen in God’s kingdom?
3. More and more we hear of those who have lost faith in the gospel of Christ to draw people to their services. Hence, their abbreviated 3 or 4 day “Gospel Meetings” are spiced with entertainment by choruses, quartets and “special singers.”
4. And then another church that has gone into the “Social Gospel” clear over its ears has established a “Pregnancy Hotline.” This is another example of churches losing sight of their God-given mission. This church has put “saving souls” on the back burner and has plunged into the misguided theory that the mission of the church is to “serve the community. ” They have organized their women to answer phone calls, show a movie on abortion and arrange for personal counseling with alternatives to abortion. I read of no such thing in the New Testament. However, I do remember Paul dealing with the problem in a very pointed way when he admonished one and all to “flee fornication.”
Despite all the inspired teaching in both the Old and New Testaments stressing the essentiality of obeying God, there will ever be “scoffers, walking after their own lust.”
Our only hope, as a nation, as a church or as an individual, is to repent and turn back to God’s way. Centuries ago God issued an appeal – a warning wherein He said: “Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin . . . turn yourselves and live . . . ” (Ezek. 18:31-32). The way of escape from disaster, here and in eternity, is to turn from sin and turn to God! How sad! The nation, the church or the individual who forgets God – will be turned into hell!
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 17, p. 521
September 6, 1984