Be not conformed to this world.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES (1899-1981): The world expects the Christian to be different and looks to him for something different, and therein it often shows an insight into life that regular church-goers often lack. The churches organize whist-drives, fetes, dramas, bazaars and things of that sort, so as to attract people. We are becoming almost as wily as the devil himself, but we are really very bad at it; all our attempts are hopeless failures and the world laughs at us.
G. CAMPBELL MORGAN (1863-1945): It would be a great thing if the Christian Church today, in its activity, paused long enough to ask Him the reason for its comparative failure.
C. H. SPURGEON (1834-1892): I believe that one reason why the church of God at this present moment has so little influence over the world is because the world has so much influence over the church…It is overwhelming to my spirit to see the growing worldliness of the visible church. Many professed Christians—the Lord alone knows whether they are true believers or no—give us grave cause for apprehension. We see them tolerating practices which would not have been endured by their fathers; my blood chills when I think of how far some fashionable professors go astray.
A. W. TOZER (1897-1963): The average Christian lives a life so worldly and careless that it is difficult to distinguish him from the unconverted man.
HORATIUS BONAR (1808-1889): Every day do we see, read, or hear of things and scenes in connection with professing churches of Christ that make us ask, “The church or the world, which is it?”
C. H. SPURGEON: If the world will not come up to the church, let the church go down to the world; that seems to be the theory.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: We know the arguments that have been put forward. We have been told that we have to make the church attractive to the man outside, and the idea is to become as much like him as we can. There were certain popular padres during the First World War who mixed with their men, and smoked with them, and did this, and that, and the other with them, in order to encourage them. Some people thought that, as a result, when the war was over, the ex-servicemen would be crowding into the churches. Yet it did not happen, and it never has happened that way.
ROWLAND HILL (1744-1833): Conformity to the world, in all ages, has proved the ruin of the church.
RICHARD CECIL (1748-1810): I fell into a mistake, when a young man, in thinking that I could talk to men of the world on their own ground, and could thus win them over to mine. I was fond of painting, and so I talked with them of that subject. This pleased them: but I did not consider that I gave [a value] to their pursuits which did not belong to them; whereas I ought to have endeavoured to raise them above these, that they might engage in higher. I did not see this at the time, but I now see it to have been a great error.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: We seem to be trying to tell people that their joining a church will not make them so very different after all. “We are no longer Puritans,” we say, “we believe that they over-did things and made Christianity too difficult for people. They frightened people with their strictness and their unnecessarily high standards. We are not so foolish as to do that,” we say, and indeed we do not do so. Instead, however, we provide so called ‘sporting parsons’, men of whom the world can say that they are “good sports”—whatever that may mean. And what it does so often mean is that they are men who believe that you can get men to come to chapel and church by playing football and other games with them. “I’ll fraternize with these men,” says such a minister. “I’ll get them to like me and to see that I’m not so different from them after all, and then they’ll come to listen to my sermons.” And he tries it, but thank God, he almost invariably fails, as he richly deserves. The man who only comes to church or chapel because he likes the minister as a man is of no value at all, and the minister who attempts to get men there by means of that subterfuge is for the time being guilty of lowering the standard of the truth which he claims to believe. For this is the gospel of salvation propounded by the Son of God Himself. We must not hawk it about the world, or offer special inducements and attractions, as if we were shopkeepers announcing an exceptional bargain sale…The glory of the Gospel is that when the church is absolutely different from the world, she invariably attracts it. It is then that the world is made to listen to her message, though it may hate it at first. This is how revival comes.
A. W. PINK (1886-1952): Christendom is reaping today the evil sowings of the last two or three generations, particularly the unscriptural “evangelistic” methods that have been employed―the demand for visible “results,” the lusting after numbers. Thousands have been pressed into “making a profession” and rushed into “joining the church.”
C. H. SPURGEON: There are many in the present day who tell us that the theatre is a great school for morals. That must be a strange school where the teachers never learn their own lessons. In God’s school the teachers must be masters of the art of holiness.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: We know that the Reformation…swept away the medieval “mystery plays” as they are called, and dramatic performances in the church. The Reformation got rid of all that and it is very sad to observe that people who claim an unusual degree of spirituality should be trying to lead us back to that which the Reformers saw clearly had been concealing the gospel and the Truth from the people. If you mime the Scriptures, or give a dramatic representation of them, you are distracting the attention of people from the truth conveyed in the Scriptures; whereas preaching…is essentially concerned with bringing out the truth of the Scriptures…[But] we are told today that they cannot think and follow reasoned statements, that they are so accustomed to the kind of outlook and mentality produced by newspapers, television, and the films, that they are incapable of following a reasoned, argued statement. We must therefore give them films and filmstrips―
C. H. SPURGEON: Is this not an evil under the sun? When the Church descends to the world’s level, her [spiritual] power is gone…Jesus said, Preach the gospel to every creature. But men are getting tired of the divine plan; they are going to be saved by the priest, going to be saved by the music, going to be saved by theatricals, and nobody knows what! Well, they may try these things as long as ever they like; but nothing can ever come of the whole thing but utter disappointment and confusion, God dishonoured, the gospel travestied, hypocrites manufactured by thousands, and the church dragged down to the level of the world.
A. W. TOZER: It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction is God.
MARTYN LLOYD-JONES: It is not difficult for us, therefore, to answer the next question: What is the call for us today? It is obvious that we must concentrate our energies on the church, and that the chief need is the revival and the awakening of the church itself. It is in the church, and often through individuals who belong to the church, that the big spiritual movements have always started. When the church operates in the power and strength of the Holy Spirit, it does more in one day than it would otherwise do through all its activities without the Spirit in years.
LADY THEODOSIA POWERSCOURT (1800-1836): We are afraid of being desperate Christians! Oh, let us be desperate. The church needs an extremity; a great tug out of the world.
GEORGE WHITEFIELD (1714-1770): Nothing but a loud voice can awaken them out of it.