Evangelical Christianity is in need of a genuine religious revival. It has been adversely affected by the currents of the times more than it suspects. The process of decline may go unnoticed for some time among believers who consider themselves spiritually fit.

The causes of spiritual deterioration are many, and they differ somewhat from age to age. In our day, at least in the Western world, unprecedented affluence has become a major cause. It affects spiritual health in several ways. Affluence often lessens one’s sense of dependence on God for the supply of material needs. It produces a spirit of self-sufficiency that impairs the normal relationship between God and his people. Selfishness and self-centeredness easily develop, and more and more money is spent on self. Moreover, frequent weekends away from home, resulting in spasmodic church attendance, reduce the margin of safety for all except those few who can maintain a high degree of spirituality on their own without the support and nourishment found in congregational worship.

Apathy and loss of zeal also takes a terrible toll among evangelicals. It is accompanied by a spiritual smugness based on mental adherence to doctrinal orthodoxy. In the Revelation, John indicts the church at Ephesus, a toiling church of patient endurance, for having “abandoned the love you had at first” (Rev. 2:4). All too often we who are evangelicals have little zeal and less passion, and a great need to repent.

Another contributor to spiritual decline is the failure to cultivate the Christian life. In an untended garden, weeds are certain to choke out the good flowers. We have time to watch TV, to care for and adorn our bodies, to sail and jog and tend our rose bushes. But we ...

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