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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
A sermon preached at the Baptist Community Bible Church of Norwalk, California
Lord's Day Evening, July 1, 2001
"And Enoch walked with God" (Genesis 5:22).
Enoch lived in a cursed world, in a civilization under judgment. In the lifetime of his son, Methuselah, God would destroy mankind, "bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly" (II Peter 2:5).
I believe that we are entering a time like that in which Enoch lived – a period right before judgment falls. They tell me before a tornado comes there is a period of quiet – "the calm before the storm" they call it. I believe that we are in that state right now in America; it is the time of calm before the storm of judgment is unleashed on us. We live in an hour much like the time of Enoch. I am going to ask two questions, and answer them to explain our predicament.
I. How did we become so sinful as a nation?
Alexis De Tocqueville was a renowned French historian and philosopher. In 1831 he made an extended trip across America. He wrote a book about it called Democracy in America. It was an in-depth analysis of American culture, described as "the greatest book ever written on one country by the citizen of another" (The American People's Encyclopedia, The Spencer Press, 1954, vol. 18, p. 873). De Tocqueville believed that religion, the Protestant Christian religion, lay behind America's greatness. He said:
I sought for the key to the greatness and genius of America in her harbors; in her fertile fields and boundless forests; in her rich mines and vast world commerce; in her public school system and institutions of learning. I sought for it in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution.
Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power.
America is great because America is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.
It has been said that De Tocqueville "had a remarkable insight into the American character and an almost prophetic knowledge of the economic and social problems of the future" (ibid.).
What happened to change our nation? It is clear that the root of the problem lies in our churches. De Tocquevile said, "Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power."
The pulpits of our nation are no longer "aflame with righteousness." We can blame the ACLU, the Democrats, the abortion industry, or someone else, but the real reason for the confusion and disillusionment in our culture is that our churches are no longer flaming with the message of God. The Congregationalists, the Presbyterians, the Methodists, and many Baptists have capitulated to an outright form of Unitarianism; liberalism has eaten the heart out of our Protestant message. I heard two sermons in fundamental Baptist churches recently which could not be honestly called "aflame with righteousness." This has become increasingly the case across our once-great land.
I lay the blame at the feet of Charles G. Finney and those who followed him. Beginning during the time of De Tocqueville's visit to our country, they increasingly spread their message of "decisionism" until, today, nearly seventy-five percent of our people claim to be saved without this having any appreciable impact on our crumbling society. Our churches are filled with lost people today who think they are saved because they have made some sort of "decision." But they will no longer put up with a flaming message of righteousness in our pulpits. Dr. John R. Rice spoke prophetically when he said, "The pulpit has failed the churches, and the churches have failed America" (Bible Doctrines to Live By, Sword of the Lord, 1968, p. 311).
Today we live in a burned out society, where Christianity has lost its grip on the hearts of our people. Dr. Erwin Lutzer, pastor of the Moody Memorial Church in Chicago, has said:
It's gone. Remember when Francis Schaeffer told us that some day we would wake up and find out that the America we once knew was gone? That day is here.We have crossed an invisible line, and there are no signs that we are capable of turning back. Like a boat caught up in the mighty torrent of the Niagara river, we are being swept along in a powerful cultural current that just might put us over the brink (Where Do We Go From Here?, Moody Press, 1993, p. 5).
I believe he was exactly right when he said that eight years ago. "There are no signs that we are capable of turning back."
This brings me to the second point.
II. What can you do as an individual during this time of apostasy in America?
I cannot find a better answer than that which is given to us in the Bible concerning the patriarch Enoch. The world was becoming apostate all around him.
"And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man"
"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually" (Genesis 6:5).
"And God said unto Noah, The end of all flesh is come before me; for the earth is filled with violence through them; and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth" (Genesis 6:13).
Jesus said, "As the days of Noe (Noah) were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Matthew 24:37). We should not be surprised that the awful conditions before the Flood are being repeated today.
During the beginning of this dark period, it was said,
"And Enoch walked with God" (Genesis 5:22).
There is nothing more important for you than to walk with God! Here is what you must do:
(1) Be sure you are converted. Don't take it for granted that you are all right in this regard. The Bible says, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves" (II Corinthians 13:5). Make sure that you are in Christ!
(2) Be fiercely loyal to your local church. Don't let anything, and I mean anything, pull you out of your local church. God has ordained the local church as the place for you to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ! The Bible says, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching" (Hebrews 10:25). As you see judgment coming, get even more deeply involved in your local church.
I could add to those points that you should read your Bible daily and pray daily. If these things are done, it will be said of you, as it was of Enoch, that you "walked with God" (Genesis 5:22). And God bless you as you do it!
Solo by Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: "The Battle Hymn of the Republic"
by Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910).
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."
THE OUTLINE OF
THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM -