Christians can be confident that if the church has been in decline, God is seeking to restore it, and will be seeking those whose hearts are towards Him, to join with Him in its restoration. And restoration will entail dragging out of the house all the refuse and rubbish that has built up over generations, that God finds offensive. Every theological and behavioural aberration that has only led to confusion and chaos in the church: God wants it out of His house.
This means the church has to take up the painstaking process of examining what we believe and why, so that nothing stays in the place that shouldn’t.
It is God Who is always at work amongst His people. We are obliged to join with Him as co-workers, in what He’s doing. We commence that through prayer.
We must kneel before God and ask His grace and power else nothing of His shall be accomplished. Even the best of the works of man will result only in further decline of society. Just as the symbolism of the Nazirite was primary of ceasing from the works of man and trusting in the work of God, so must we begin with such an attitude. But such an attitude must necessarily then fall at the feet of God in request that He act to advance His kingdom. Don’t expect any political, social, or even ecclesiastical or family program to be blessed of Him if it does not first originate with humble supplication to Him.
A very big part of reversing the decline of the church, will be when Christians begin changing the way that we think. Why is that?
The way we’ve been thinking and acting has gotten us to where we are today. It hasn’t been because of the devil, or the humanists or anyone but ourselves. You and I can blame other people for our problems till the cows come home, but that won’t help us. We ought to be way past complaining like Adam did: that our sins are someone else’s fault.
We really do have to see the church from God’s perspective. This is one part of it:
Now it will come about that in the last days the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that He may teach us of His ways and that we may walk in His paths.” For the law shall go forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Isa.2:2-3).
Today, the mountain of the Lord doesn’t refer to geography. God is speaking of His people, the members of His church, who are to be His agents of reconciliation in the world, leading the world to Jesus Christ and His Word. This is how God’s Word goes forth to the nations.
Reversing the decline of the church requires that we fundamentally change what we think about God’s law. It doesn’t mean that we’re going back to the law as a means of salvation, for only Jesus Christ can save people through His grace. It does mean utilising God’s law as a means of directing the behaviour of individuals, families, churches, communities and whole nations, which is what it was always meant to do, from the beginning.
Give me understanding, that I may observe Your law and keep it with all my heart (Ps.119:34).
If we believe from scripture that God made all things in six days, and that we are fearfully and wonderfully made in His image, that He has a purpose for each individual to fulfil in this life, and that He will order all our affairs to bring this about, this must be reflected in what we teach our children. To deny a child a godly education is to fail to prepare them for a life of service and dominion; it is an act of indifference towards them, and to the God who gave them to us. And God will bring parents to judgment for this.
But if we believe that “Children are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the womb is His reward” (Ps.127:3), then this will be powerfully reflected in both the content of our education, and its context.
A massive factor in reversing the church’s decline will come with the restoration of the tithe. Faithful tithing on the part of God’s people will enrich the church, and will simply give it the opportunity not only to employ ministers who can be furthering the gospel, but to engage in all manner of well-funded activities within the community.
The fact is, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Everything has a price attached, and as the membership of the church understands the Biblical teaching on the tithe, and its utter necessity for the church’s success and community influence, this will inevitably lead to the church’s social power being restored in the community.
The Church is a God-ordained institution, and we’d better take that seriously. Some will say, “I won’t join a church, because the Church has so many problems.” Well, at least the last part of the statement is true. There have been problems in the Church since it began, and they continue today. But in refusing to join, identify and submit to a church, people refuse to make the necessary contributions that are a part of helping the Body of Christ. They are effectively saying, “I won’t join it, I won’t be part of it, and so I won’t do anything to make it better.”
Despite its problems, the Church is an institution which has a great future, because it has received great promises from God. God has promised us that “the Lord will stretch forth Your strong sceptre from Zion, saying ‘rule in the midst of Your enemies’ ” (Ps.110:2), and that “the gates of Hades will not overpower it” (Mat.16:18). Furthermore, the Church will be “the joy of the whole earth” (Ps.48:2), and God is going to use the Church to display His great wisdom to the rulers and authorities in heavenly places (Eph.3:10).
God speaks throughout the Old Testament of the tabernacle and the Temple as “My house.” Our Lord in Matthew 16:18 speaks of “My church.” As against this, in Matthew 23:38, our Lord refers to the Temple as “your house.” When the sanctuary or church becomes man’s, it is doomed, because God will move against it.
Before we try to reverse the decline of the church, we’d best remember Who it belongs to, and Who died for it. The church is not mine or yours, but His. So, He has the right to determine what stays, and what goes. Jesus did warn us that He would be sending in angels, who would “…gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire…” (Mat.13:41, 42).
 Rousas Rushdoony, “The Gospel of John,” 2000, p.23.