Sunday, July 12, 2009

New Wine, New Wineskins

Though I have not been able to find the original documentation, there is research information from Denmark that seems rather ominous. The July 2009 issue of Church New from Denmark (No. 3/6), published by the Danish Lutheran Church’s (Folkekirke’s) Council of International Relations, cites some amazing statistics derived from interviews done by the YouGov Zapera research organization. In 820 interviews, it was found that 17 percent of Danish Lutheran church members believe in reincarnation. However, only 15 percent believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Eighteen percent of those interviewed would like to have the Church accept reincarnation on a par with other ideas about life after death. There was agreement by 70 percent of the interviewees that the basis for religion is “we should be good to one another,” while 34 percent agreed with the statement, “I’ve found my own way of being religious.”

For committed Christians, these interview results are very disturbing. The item in Church News from Denmark remarks that with only 3 percent of the members of the Folkekirke attending services regularly, that fact in itself may be a prime reason for such statistics of departure from the tenets of historical Christianity.

The Gospel of Christ has been so compromised in Denmark with “churchianity” and comfortable unbelief that the country needs to be re-evangelized to make clear that the Gospel of Jesus Christ demands spiritual rebirth—a belief that Jesus Christ died for the sins of all and a personal decision and commitment to live for Him. The oft-repeated verse of John 3:16 (NIV) says it well, “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” God wants everyone to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. And what is that truth? – “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all men” (1 Timothy 2:5-6,NIV). “If you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Romans 1:9, 10, NIV).

Why do we fervently pray for revival, evangelism and church planting in Denmark? Can anything be clearer as a reason than the statistics cited above? The trappings of religion are everywhere in Denmark, but there is so little evidence of dynamic belief, spiritual power and God-focused lifestyle. There is relatively little success in pouring new wine into old wineskins. There is continuing need for the planting of new churches, new wine in new wineskins.

Denmark is under-evangelized. The time is ripe to present the Gospel in its purity to the Danish people. In the 1840s, God brought to Denmark a wave of evangelism and church planting through the Baptists that initiated the free church movement not only in Denmark but in all of Scandinavia. Our prayer is: Oh, God, do it again!

PRAISE God for Denmark’s minority of evangelical believers who hold fast to the truths of the Gospel, not forgetting those within the Folkekirke who also hold in common with them the truths of the Word of God about sin and salvation. They are truly “a voice crying in the wilderness.”

PRAY “without ceasing” for this small country of Denmark that in a new wave of evangelism the Holy Spirit t would counteract the country’s plunge into secularism and convict the Danish people of how far they have strayed from God and how much they need the Savior whose finished work of redemption assures salvation for everyone who believes.

PRAY that Bible-believing evangelicals in Denmark will prioritize the planting of new churches throughout the country and that God will raise up mature couples to be skilled and wise evangelists and church planters. God will provide the resources when they step out by faith.