Skip to main content
0

Nations rise and fall on the strength and integrity of the Church. Often Christians lament at the state of the nation, but fail to see the decline and brokenness in the Church. The two are inexplicably linked.

In the Old Testament, when the priests ministered with obedience Israel prospered. When they failed in their duties, Israel was weakened, sin abounded and the country became vulnerable to attack from surrounding nations (Hos 4, 1 Sam 2, 1 Sam 3:1). In the same way when God’s people, who represent the Church, humble themselves, pray and seek His face and turn from their wicked ways, God hears from heaven, forgives their sin and heals their land (2 Chron 7:14).

In both ways, the Church is the key to setting the spiritual and cultural trajectory of the nation. This is why it is crucial that the Church is built accurately – because the future of the nation depends on it.

Building Accurately

I often ask myself these questions: is the Church we see in society today the Church of the Living God? Is it true to what was birthed in Acts 2? Is it built for God or for man? These are existential questions every pastor must face because we carry a great responsibility for those under our spiritual care and for our nation.

The patterns of the Old Testament provide a prophetic picture when it comes to building His Church. In Exodus, God provides Moses with specific blueprints from heaven for the building of the tabernacle in the wilderness. God provides instructions for King David for the building of the temple in Jerusalem, which his son Solomon completes (2 Sam 7, 1 Chron 17, 1 Chron 28). When these men were obedient to building what God asked for according to His exact instructions – every specification, measurement and material – He filled these dwellings with His glory. Both the tabernacle and the temple became central to the spiritual, cultural and political life of Israel.

 

“When we build according to the blueprints from heaven He will fill the Church with His glory once again.”

 

The tabernacle and temple are Old Testament pictures of the Church. We can have churches that are built by man for man – giving the people what they want, just as Aaron did when he fashioned the golden calf idol in the wilderness (Ex 32). But what we build on earth must be according to the blueprints of heaven, otherwise it represents the people, not God. Jesus promised that He would build His Church, but we are co-labourers with Him (1 Cor 3:9). If we build according His specific design, He will fill the Church with His glory once again. The Church will rise and break the cycle of decline in the nation and be restored to its rightful place in society.

The Cycle of Decline

The cycle of decline begins in every human heart and inevitably in the life of a nation. It always begins with a drift away from Him. It may be unnoticeable at first, until the fruits of our decisions begin to be revealed.

Australia was built on solid Christian foundations, but somewhere along the line we began to drift away. When I grew up in central Victoria, the school day – even in state schools – was opened with the Lord’s Prayer. God was acknowledged and honoured. But around the late 1970s I saw that the nation was going into decline. I remember noticing it in the people around me. I saw a departure from God and His truth. There has been a de-prioritising of God in the nation that has caused us to go into decline. What started as a drift in the heart of one generation gained momentum and almost became a movement against God in the generations that followed.

Isaiah chapters 58 and 59 describe a nation in decline. It began when the peoples’ iniquities separated them from God. Much of what is written in these chapters rings true for what we are witnessing and experiencing in Australia and other Western nations today. Justice, righteousness, equity and truth fail. Violence and lawlessness abound. Hands are defiled with blood, fingers with iniquity, lips speak lies and tongues mutter perversity (59:3-5). As I read this I think of the 70,000 unborn babies in the womb who never get to see daylight and wonder how darkened we must have become to let this happen*.

Just as the scripture goes on to say, no one calls for justice, nor does any plead for truth (v4). This is very much the state of politics in Australia. Our leaders, with some exceptions, bury their heads over any issue that could get them on the wrong side of the media, regardless of how unjust it is. But the Church is also guilty of this. With few exceptions, the Church largely stands on the sidelines and watches the cultural and spiritual decline takes place. The scripture goes on to say that the Lord saw the decline and it displeased Him that there was no justice, but there was also no one interceding on behalf of the nation (Is 59:15-16).

In this darkened state, God promises that His own arm will bring salvation (Is 59:16). We can rest assured that decline never affects God, and if we can align our hearts and lives with Him we can be part of a divine salvation and restoration plan for a nation. Even turning around a whole nation isn’t outside the possibilities of God.

 

“If we align our hearts and lives with Him we can be part of a divine salvation and restoration plan for our nation.”

 

There are three turning points I see in scripture that affect nations:

Prayer

When the nation has departed from the ways of God it will inevitably come to a point where there is a cry on the inside of the heart of the Church that begins to turn the tide in a society. It is the cry of repentance and intercession that we read of in 2 Chron 7:14 that is motivated by God’s people humbling themselves and turning from their wickedness. It is a cry that brings healing to a nation. If there is a people praying in the land, even just a handful, a genuine remnant given to God, He can begin to move on the hearts of many and turn them around.

Return to the temple

We are at the point where many are asking, “what shall we do?” Others before us have asked the same question as they watch their nations slipping away. The same question was posed in Psalm 11:3, “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”

The answer is in the very next verse, “The Lord is in His holy temple…”

The first step to restoring a nation in decline is returning to the temple, His Church, because this is where the Lord is. God is raising up His Church in Australia. He is using every trial and every hardship to turn the heart of the Church back to Him and restore it to everything it is called to be. He is calling forth the Church of the Living God. This is not the church built by man for man. It is the Church Jacob saw when he dreamed at Bethel in Genesis 28, it is the Church Jesus promised to build in Matthew 16:18 and it is the Church God birthed in Acts 2.

 

“When the nation has departed from the ways of God it will inevitably come to a point where there is a cry on the inside of the heart of the Church that begins to turn the tide in a society.”

 

Raise a standard

Isaiah 59:19 describes a dramatic turning point in the life of a nation. It says: “When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him.” 

When a nation completely bottoms out it’s as if the enemy has come in like a flood. But this is the point where the Spirit of God raises a standard against him by rising in the hearts of His people to say “enough is enough” and push back. We are a temple of His Spirit. He uses us to stand against the plans of the enemy and turn the tide in our families, communities, cities and nations.

Rebuild and restore

The prophet Isaiah speaks the most incredible promise of restoration:

“Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.” (Isaiah 58:12)

This scripture is part of the inspiration behind our name, City Builders Church. We believe we are among those who God is calling to rebuild what has been laid waste, repair divides that separate us and restore ancient foundations for coming generations. This is not only a Messianic prophecy pointing to our Saviour and Redeemer Jesus, it is also referring to the work of His Church in the latter days.

The same is true for Isaiah 61:4:

“And they shall rebuild the old ruins; they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the ruined cities and the desolations of many generations.”

Who are “they” referred to in this scripture? In my previous blog Six Features of the Emerging Church, I describe how God chooses a place where He is going to move and a people He is going to move through. I believe the ones the prophet is referring to are those who are called by God and responding to that call. These are the ones who are anointed by the Spirit of God to bring restoration and repair to everything in the nation that has suffered desolation and ruin through the decline of the nation.

These people are anointed to complete the work Jesus began on the earth more than 2000  years ago. They will preach the gospel to the poor, heal the brokenhearted, proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed and proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord (Is 61:1-4).

Despite what I see around me, I find great encouragement from the scripture and the history books that detail powerful moves of God in the earth that reset nations. I will leave you with this excerpt from The Welsh Revival, a book written more than 100 years ago by eyewitnesses to the move of God in Wales in 1904:

 

“It is ever the darkest hour before the dawn. The nation always seems to be given over to the Evil One before the coming of the Son of Man. The decay of religious faith, the deadness of the churches, the atheism of the well-to-do, the brutality of the masses, all these, when at their worst, herald the approach of the revival. Things seem to get too bad to last. The reign of evil becomes intolerable. Then the soul of the nation awakes.”

 

If you would like to take the step of inviting Jesus into your heart, I would encourage you to pray the following prayer and make contact with our church, or a local church near you that can help you on your journey:

Dear Heavenly Father, I come to you in prayer asking for the forgiveness of my sins. I confess with my mouth and believe with my heart that Jesus is your Son, and that He died on the cross of Calvary that I might be forgiven and have eternal life in the kingdom of heaven. 

Father, I believe that Jesus rose from the dead and I ask you right now to come into my life and be my personal Lord and Saviour. I repent of my sins and will worship you all the days of my life. Because Your word is truth I confess with my mouth that I am born again and cleansed by the blood of Jesus. 

In Jesus’ Name, Amen

THIS BLOG IS BASED ON PS BRIAN HEATH’S MESSAGE “CHURCH OF THE LIVING GOD, PART 2

Pastors Brian and Lynne Heath have been married for 40 years and served as the senior leaders of City Builders Church (formerly COC) at Sale, in the heart of Gippsland, for the past 27 years.

Brian is one of the longest serving pastors in the Gippsland region and has become a true father to many spiritual sons and daughters and a valued mentor to younger ministers and community leaders.

Brian has a strong prophetic dimension to his life and carries the apostolic grace to build strong churches and to teach, train, impart and prepare the Church for the last day’s harvest. Brian believes the church of the future will not only carry the grace to win souls, but to impact and influence every domain of society.

Brian is also part of an apostolic team that travels regionally and throughout the Pacific. He is also working with ministry partners to build an alliance of like-minded ministries, churches, individuals and organisations that desire to rediscover and rebuild the Christian foundations that this great nation was built upon.