We Can’t Stop the Crash, But We Can Pick Up the Pieces

I’m leading a Bible study on the OT prophets on Wednesday night. They proclaimed the glory of God and warned Israel and Judah that God would not tolerate their sin, their false prophets with their positive messages, their empty religion, or their unfaithful hearts. Israel ignored the impending doom, and even persecuted the prophets for daring to say that God’s judgment would come. Then, one day, the “day of the Lord” came and the chosen nation was laid waste. What the prophets warned had come true.

And Israel was wholly unprepared for the aftermath because they never accepted that the judgment would ever come.

Permit me a momentary hermeneutical break. America is not Israel and never has been. We are not the chosen people of God and have never been special in his sight, nor do we hold a superior position in God’s kingdom. But we have been a nation of (at the least nominal) Christians. Our founding documents recognized a responsibility to God and gave honor to him. We are not the modern Israel, nor do we hold a special place in God’s heart, but we were at once a nation which, in the whole (though inconsistently and imperfectly), recognized the God of the Bible as our God.

Those days are long gone. During my lifetime, our national culture has done a 180 degree turn, embracing a culture of moral independence. Few in 1975 (the year I graduated high school) would have believed that we would be having today some of the moral debates that we are having. Under the current administration, the process of secularization that has been slowly growing over the last 5 decades has exploded into prominence. We are a post-Christian nation which has rejected divine authority and embraced moral individualism.

I’ve heard warnings about this from the pulpit all of my life. Of course, they have often been framed in nationalistic terms – turning America back to God, saving this great country – but the message is that of the prophets, “repent or be judged.” Proverbs 14:34 reminds us that “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” Sin brings consequences in our personal lives, in our society and in our nation.

But, if we believe this, the moral collapse of our nation may not be a time for despair for the church of Jesus Christ. If we believe that sin is a reproach, that sin has devastating consequences, then the crumbling moral foundations of America may provide an opportunity for us to minister. The church has been, in my opinion, far too focused on “saving America” and returning this land to the mindset of the past (a concept that the persecuted minorities of the past might not share). Our focus needs to be on ministry to this nation as it crumbles. Israel was unprepared for what came to that sinful nation. We must not follow in its footsteps.

We may not be able to stop the moral crash of our nation, but if the church will be the church God called us to be, we can be there to help pick up the pieces and minister to the fallen.

Here is my reasoning:

1) America (and the West in general) has abandoned any sense of responsibility to God. Our new ethic is self-centered and self-indulgent. Whatever makes me happy must be right. I follow my heart and do what I want to do.

2) That is a recipe for disaster, both personally and nationally. Sin has consequences. Walking in obedience to God brings blessing. When we walk in the ways that seem right to us, we fight out that the Scriptures are right and that walking in our own ways, “leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12). If our nation continues on this path, there will be horrific consequences. Families will continue to disintegrate and the effects on children will be felt for generations. As people embrace sin, they will suffer the consequences of that sin – dysfunction and brokenness will abound. And, if we believe Scripture, there is even active judgment that flows from God on sinful nations.

Our nation will suffer greatly for its sin.

3) We may not be able to stop that moral fall. Would that we could. There are many that argue that we can still reverse the fall, but once a collapse begins it becomes difficult to prop the building up. There are no political solutions. A massive, nationwide revival that would dwarf the effects of the First and Second Great Awakenings would be required and no one can predict that.

Personally, I think we need to stop focusing on how we can prevent the moral fall of America and start preparing for how we can minister to people as it happens.

4) Our focus needs to be on ministry to hurting, broken, sin-destroyed people. The moral collapse we have seen will produce a bumper crop of dysfunctional families, broken homes, addictions, abused and abusive people, moral perversion and enslavement – what we will see may make us long for the good old days of 2013!

  • We need to hone the gospel to make sure we are proclaiming it with clarity.  Too often we have added extraneous elements to the gospel. We need to sharpen our understanding of and proclamation of the story of Christ’s death for our sins and resurrection that we might have new lives.
  • We do not need to compromise with the world’s sin (by approving of what God condemns) but we must move away from country club churches and develop the concept of the church as a hospital for sinners. The church that molds to fit into a sinful culture is no longer a church. The church that holds on to a culture of the past is ineffective. The church that proclaims the timeless gospel in a culturally appropriate way can prosper regardless of what is happening in the world.
  • We need to develop ministries to address the brokenness we are going to see more of in the days ahead. Jesus came to heal those whose lives were broken by sin.
  • We should never see sinners as the enemy. The enemy is the Liar, the Evil One, who deceives and devastates. Sinners, even belligerent ones, are the battleground. We do not fight against sinners, we fight FOR them, with the Word, the gospel, and the power of Christ. We battle against the darkness to shine the light, so sinners can be freed to walk in that light.

Remember the words of Jesus in Luke 5:31-32?  “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Jesus came to heal the sick. As our nation descends into and embraces moral sickness, does that not provide the true church of Jesus Christ an unparalleled opportunity to do eternally significant ministry.

5) Perhaps, then, the moral decay of our nation can be an unprecedented opportunity for ministry!

Craig was a friend of mine in college. He was a liberal, I was conservative. I came from a church background and his background was sketchy. But we were friends. He told the most entertaining stories about his antics before he ended up in our little school. I don’t know if they were true, but they were hilarious! But one day, Craig and I were talking and he paused, looked at me and then said something profound.

“You good kids need to make sure you are always kind to guys like me. Our lives are always going to lead us into trouble. When we hit bottom, we are going to look for help from the guys who have been kind to them on the way down.”

I’ll never forget those words. I think they are true of the church. We need to be the hospital for sinners Christ called us to be, providing genuine ministry to people who may not seem to care. But when the consequences of their sin crash down on them, we can be there to show them to the healing power of Christ.

Let me leave no doubt about what I am saying. Should we as Christians engage in the public, even political realm? Yes. Should we attempt to influence society? Yes. Should we pray for revival? Absolutely. But we must also prepare for the tsunami of devastation that our culture’s embrace of sin will bring. Barring a mighty work of God, we are facing a societal collapse of epic proportion. The church needs to stop bemoaning this collapse and start preparing to do spiritual disaster relief when it finally hits.

I may always regret that America has become what it has become. But that kind of spiritual nostalgia is unproductive. To the contrary, this moral crash that America is headed toward may provide a unique opportunity for ministry.




  1. Dave Miller says

    The church needs to focus on spiritual disaster relief. Sin brings disaster on lives, families and cultures. It’s going to happen. Too often, we treat the sinners as the enemy. They are the victims of the Evil One’s schemes, and are the battlefield.

    • Christiane says

      thank for expressing this great truth, DAVID,
      it needs to be taught in the Church and emphasized again and again

    • says

      I agree with your assessment, Dave. Interestingly, those the Father will bless according to Jesus in Matthew 25 were involved in “crisis” ministry. “35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.” The church needs to be engaged with those in hunger, immigrant, impoverished, health and legal crises in order to demonstrate Christ’s love and redemption.

      Our church offers several ministries to our community, including jail ministry, Christ-centered recovery ministry, and grief and divorce recovery. These ministries have given us a wonderful opportunity in helping “to pick up the pieces.”

  2. Christiane says

    DAVID, I loved the way you wrote your number 4 section.
    I think that you have expressed a thoughtful understanding of a more complete biblical description of the Church’s mission.

    “” Jesus did not come to explain away suffering or to remove it.
    He came to fill it with His Presence.”
    (J. Claude)

    • Dave Miller says

      Okay, there may be some common ground there, but I’m quite sure we are not talking about precisely the same thing. But I hope it is clear from my post that I am not advocating some kind of social-gospel ministry. We need to use needs-based ministry as a touch point for sharing the single saving and transforming gospel.

      It does no good to simply help people unless we also share the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ with them. Social ministry without the clear purpose of gospel proclamation does nothing more than air-condition the bus to hell.

      Our job is not to make people more comfortable in their lives of rebellion, but to demonstrate the love of God that we might declare the Lordship of Christ.

  3. William Thornton says

    Dave, I’m with you on this, mostly, but in what sense does “America” have responsibility to God?

    Also, I take it that you are writing ministerially when you speak of a 180 degree turn. We certainly are not going in the completely opposit direction than when I was a carefree kid in the 50s and I seem to recall something like the civil rights movement, along with a movement whereupon women were given legal parity with their male counterparts. Stuff like that.

    • says

      William, I do believe that nations are judged and held responsible – corporately. It happened all through the OT, and is hinted at in prophecies of final judgment. I do in fact believe that nations are held liable for their sins and blessed as a whole.

      Blessed is the nation….

    • Dave Miller says

      You are right about the cultural reference. Obviously, the culture of the 50s and 60s was not the godly utopia we make it out to be.

  4. Truth Unites... and Divides says

    “You good kids need to make sure you are always kind to guys like me. Our lives are always going to lead us into trouble. When we hit bottom, we are going to look for help from the guys who have been kind to them on the way down.”

    Thanks for recalling that insight and sharing it with us.

  5. volfan007 says


    Our society is going down the toilet…fast. And, like you, I used to hear Preachers telling us about things that were coming that were hard to believe, back then…back when they were saying them….but, now, we’re seeing it happen, right before our eyes. And, we’re most certainly seeing the consequences….

    You said, “The moral collapse we have seen will produce a bumper crop of dysfunctional families, broken homes, addictions, abused and abusive people, moral perversion and enslavement – what we will see may make us long for the good old days of 2013!”

    Brother, we’re already seeing families fall apart…teens running wild, and very rebellious towards thier parents….an increase in drunkeness and drug abuse…prisons and jails overcrowded….and, frankly, if it gets any worse, then our society will crumble…..we may already be in the beginnings of the moral and financial collapse….maybe?

    But, I hear ya….the Church will be able to shine the glorious light of Jesus brighter, whenever the world gets darker….Dr. Adrian Rogers used to say, “It’s getting gloriously dark.”

    Of course, the bad thing about the world getting darker are the people, who will suffer….including the people in our families and our friends… and, many times, the righteous have to suffer along with the wicked….

    Shine in the darkness my Brothers and Sisters…SHINE!


  6. Jess Alford says


    This is food to my soul, Great Post! Something will happen, I don’t know everything that will happen, but what you have mentioned is happening

    I cannot rule out another world war, but something will happen to bring God’a children together to minister to the fallen.

    What ever happens, will cause millions of sinners to turn to God.

    • Dave Miller says

      Sinners will only tend to turn to God if they hear the gospel from our lips and lives. “How can they hear without a preacher?”

      • Jess Alford says

        I should have continued on and said millions will turn to God for the answers and the church will supply those answers.

    • Dave Miller says

      I’ve always viewed agreeing with me as a sign of both intelligence and character.

  7. Bruce H. says


    You are a prophet. That is a great position to set the sails.

    If a church really believes what you are saying, I think it must also be prepared financially. When the sandy foundation of works fail in the rains, there is great loss of material things. We can’t just say, “be warmed and filled”. We may have to suffer with them.

  8. Randall Cofield says


    Very well said. You should be second VP of the SBC…or something.

    In many ways we are exactly where Paul was when he stood on Mars Hill in Athens 2000 years ago. And the opportunities for gospel ministry are positively multiplying by the day.

    I’ve been pounding this approach with my church for almost 2 years now, and the results are beginning to show. THE community drug addict was powerfully converted 2 weeks ago after attending every single service (including Wednesday nights) for 2 1/2 months.

    Thanks for the encouraging article.

    Soli Deo Gloria

    • cb scott says

      ” THE community drug addict was powerfully converted 2 weeks ago after attending every single service (including Wednesday nights) for 2 1/2 months.”

      Praise the Lord! A good and fine thing to read this warm spring day. This is especially true after having read so many of the horror stories that have been revealed this week.

  9. says

    Good post, Dave. I am largely sympathetic to the gist of what you write here.

    I think it is important to recognize there is not a direct correspondence to the term “nation” in the Bible and the modern-day geopolitical nation-state. From a specifically NT perspective, the closest parallel I can find with regard to God’s plan in history for nation-states, as we understand them today, are the prophecies related to “the kings of the earth” who forge an alliance with Babylon, committing adultery with her (Rev. 18:3, 9) and gathering together for battle at Armageddon (Rev. 16:14-16), and are ultimately defeated and judged by the Rider on the White Horse called Faithful and True (Rev. 19:11-21).

    It is interesting to me to note the parallel between the multitude “from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” in Rev. 7:9 and those “from every nation, tribe, people and language” in Rev. 11:9 who will refuse to give burial to the two witnesses of the Lamb, and also come under the authority of the beast in Rev. 13:7. What I gather from this is that, in the end times, just as there will not be any nations from which there is not a remnant who, counter-culturally, remain faithful to the Lamb, neither will there be any Christian (or “Christianized”) nations, per se.

    As God’s people, we were never intended, on this side of the Second Coming, to be a moral majority, but rather a faithful remnant that lives as salt and light in the midst of a generally ungodly culture, calling out those whom God redeems to “save [themselves] from this corrupt generation” (Acts 2:40) and to come out from and separate themselves from the earthly system of Babylon and not to share in her sins (Rev. 18:4).

  10. William Thornton says

    David puts it well and properly concerning Christian nations. There are no Christian nations, only Christians; hence, we should focus on making Christians, not on Christianizing our nation through implementing selective statutes.

    • volfan007 says


      True…but still, nations can go down and fall apart in moral corruption….and nations can be judged by God….


      • William Thornton says

        So, why did not our nation fall apart as a result of the racism of the Jim Crow era or the chattel slavery era at its founding? And why is the measure of national morality utilized by evangelicals so narrow in our day? Devoted followers of Christ who accept divorce and some types of gambling are abundant and those who are materialists are ubiquitous, just look at most any SBC church.

        And if we are looking to God to judge our nation why would we not expect Him to judge us because true Christians have preferred, overwhelmingly, the non-Christian candidate in the last two presidential elections?

        Of course, that line of reasoning doesn’t make for good sermons.

        I recommend that the brethren preach a good Mother’s Day sermon tomorrow, it is the second most attend Sunday of the year I believe, and leave this stuff for later.

        Have a nice weekend.

        • volfan007 says


          I will be preaching a Mother’s Day sermon tomorrow.

          Why God doesn’t judge the USA? I don’t know….maybe we haven’t gone too far, yet. Or, maybe we’re in the beginning stage of His judgment falling. All God has to do to judge a nation is just to take His hand of blessing off of them….of course, one of the reasons that God might be being very, very patient with us, is that the USA does have a lot of Believers in it, and we’re sending out a lot of missionaries.

          But, in reading the OT, we see that God did judge different nations.

          Although, I agree with yall….our goal should not be to have a “Christian nation,” but rather to win souls. As Dr. J. Vernon McGee used to say, “The Lord told us to fish; He didnt tell us to clean up the fishbowl.”


        • Dave Miller says

          David Rogers raises a good point about what a nation is – our word and theirs may be different.

          Let me clarify what I am saying about corporate judgment. It seems to me that God holds groups guilty of sin, not just individuals. Israel. Egypt. Babylon. Assyria. Political/national/social entities are blessed and held accountable as a whole.

          It would seem a safe inference from Rev 2 and 3 that God holds churches accountable corporately, as well.

          So, the idea that America as a political unit would somehow account to God is not out of the realm of scriptural reason, to my thinking.

          • says

            My thought process and theological reflection has not plumbed the depths of all this yet. At present, I am thinking there is a difference between the way God dealt with “nations” in the OT (which are still not the exact equivalent of modern-day nation-states) and the way He deals with them in the NT. In the OT, the people of God was largely confined to one ethnic group, occupying at various stages of their history different geographic areas. The form of government under which they lived also varied according to historical events and circumstances. In the NT, God’s people is very intentionally not confined anymore to one ethnic group, but is, rather, to be a multi-ethnic community transcending all geographic and political borders. In many ways, as the Universal Church, we make up a new nation: the people of God redeemed from among every ethnic, linguistic, socio-political group on earth.

            As I understand it, God’s judgment and His blessing, as such, fall upon individuals, who may happen to form part of ethnic groups or live under the governance of geopolitical structures. There may also be demonic forces that energize these geopolitical structures and work to keep entire ethnic groups spiritually blind and spiritually bound. Surely God’s judgment extends to these as well. But the structures, in and of themselves, are impersonal, inanimate entities, and thus cannot be Christian in the proper sense of the word.

            At the Judgment Seat of Christ, I believe that individuals are going to give account. I don’t see how the impersonal, inanimate entity known as America is going to be called to give account. Today, America (as well as any other “nation”) is made up of individuals who are redeemed and individuals who are not redeemed. I believe God’s judgment and blessing is distinct for each category of individuals. In other words, redeemed individuals living in America are not under the judgment of God directed toward unredeemed individuals, and unredeemed individuals are not beneficiaries of the blessings of God directed toward redeemed individuals.

            That doesn’t mean there is no such thing as common grace. God makes the same rain to fall on the just and the unjust. But our job is not to “save America.” Our job is not to transform or redeem Babylon. Our job is call those who respond to God’s grace to come out from Babylon, and to minister God’s healing grace and comfort to the victims of Babylon. Sometimes the way to do this may be through legal processes in which we seek justice for the oppressed. But our motive is ministering healing grace to the victims, not transforming or redeeming Babylon itself.

            I guess this opens up another can of worms about the hermeneutical process we use for defining “Babylon.” I’m still working on that…

          • Dave Miller says

            David, part of the differentiation here might be the focus. You seem to be talking about God’s judgment in almost eschatalogical terms. I’m speaking more of the idea of consequences.

            Sin brings negative consequences. National sin brings negative consequences.

          • says


            You may be on to something here. But at the risk of getting overly analytical, I would like to pursue this a bit more, since this gets at the root of some on-going questions I have.

            How do we define “national sin”? Is a “national sin” a sin that a certain percentage of individuals living within the boundaries and under the governance of a particular nation-state commit with a certain degree of frequency? Is it a particular law or policy enacted by the government of that nation-state? Is it something else?

            What are the specific consequences of national sin? Are they related to economic prosperity, military strength, physical security, etc.? Or to something else? Are third-world countries that are seeing people respond to the preaching of the gospel at a greater rate more or less blessed than first-world countries that see a slower response to the gospel? Do God’s blessings and curses fall upon different nation-states in the NT dispensation the same way they were outlined in Deuteronomy for OT Israel?

            Most of us here at SBC Voices (and the SBC in general) do not believe in the prosperity gospel, when applied to the lives of individuals. Is it possible we do believe it when applied to collective groups of individuals (i.e. those living within the boundaries and under the governance of a particular nation-state)?

            BTW, I’m not intending to be argumentative here, just asking honest questions I do not have the answer for yet.

          • says

            Here’s another side-issue I just thought about. It seems that in the OT God held kings and governing authorities directly responsible for their actions which influenced the general direction of entire communities, kingdoms, ethnic groups, etc. At the same time, individuals living in subjection to the unjust rule of these kings may not have been held accountable in the same way.

            In modern-day democracies, such as the US, there is no such clear distinction between the king and his subjects. In many ways, “we the people” are the “king” of the USA, from a biblical perspective. But I don’t see how that might make us accountable for laws and policies enacted that we voted against.

            Not inferring any definite conclusions here. Just thinking out loud.

        • Dave Miller says

          As to William’s very good question about the USA and racism, I’ve thought a lot about that and have not come to a easy or satisfactory answer.

          I’ve thought of it more in terms of the founding and history of the SBC. There seems to be no question that the SBC has been used by God, that many godly and spiritually powerful men were among its founders and its early heroes.

          Yet, those good men at best turned a blind eye to racism. Some may have given pulpit approval to it.

          The SBC has a long history of both spiritual productivity and racism. How can that be? My theories come down to the grace of God in spite of our sin. He is patient and loving – even to people with humongous blind spots like were evidenced in the SBC.

          As to America, I would say that my teaching is not so much based on the Sodom/Gomorrah fire-from-heaven pattern, but the choices-have-consequences pattern.

          Our sins as individuals and as nations carry with them inherent consequences – bad ones. As we embrace sin more and more, we see more and more of the consequences.

          • says

            There is a difference between a society which accepts one sin and a society which accepts 100; a society which recognizes the distinction between right and wrong and eventually condemns slavery and a society in which every person does what is right in his own eyes.

          • Frank L. says

            Good point, Chris.

            Case in point: abortion. I don’t see many SBC pastors picketing abortion clinics or going to pro-life events. There are some, just like there were Baptist ministers who condemned the SBC’s position on race.

            I have decided to learn a lesson from our checkered past and make sure I am standing on the right side of the abortion issue (and the homosexual agenda issue). It does not often make me a popular preacher in the area.

        • Joe Blackmon says

          And if we are looking to God to judge our nation why would we not expect Him to judge us because true Christians have preferred, overwhelmingly, the non-Christian candidate in the last two presidential elections?

          There wasn’t a Christian candidate in this past election.

  11. Tommy Rucker says

    Excellent post, Dave. With your permission, I intend to share this with my congregation.
    By the way, l look forward to seeing you this weekend.

    • Dave Miller says

      Absolutely Tommy. Share away. I’m assuming you mean next weekend, right? Yeah, we’ll hang out!

  12. Dave Miller says

    I’ve reflected a lot on this over the last week.

    I’m not sure about how God’s active judgment operates. Obviously, individuals face that at the end of a life without Christ. The world faces that eventually. Certainly, the active judgment of God can fall on churches – as Rev 2-3 shows. Does God judge (actively) nations today? Don’t know for sure.

    But the way God designed the world is that life is choices and choices have consequences. A culture which, as a whole, rejects God and embraces sin will see devastating consequences.

    • says

      I think it is undeniably true that sin carries along with it its own judgment, or consequences, both on an individual as well as an institutional or societal level. To the extent that governments and other institutions are made up of individuals, God Himself, in a more active way, judges them as well. As I mentioned in another comment, I believe there are also demonic powers (i.e. literal demons) that influence and energize certain institutions and cultures/societies, and these are also subject to God’s active judgment.

      I still don’t see, however, how any of this necessarily implies that God has called us to redeem or transform cultures or societies.

      A practical outworking of this is I am not sure that the concept of so-called national revival, as often preached today, has any biblical precedent. I can see, though, the validity of church planting movements within a region or people group, and spiritual awakening within congregations, cities, regions, countries, or continents. I just don’t see any biblical reason for concentrating our prayers for revival on a particular nation-state such as the USA.

      • Christiane says

        It is very difficult to comprehend that, once ‘in Christ’, while we may sojourn on this Earth, we are already citizens of ‘another country’

        “Neither shall they say: Behold here, or behold there.
        For lo, the Kingdom of God is within you. ”
        (from the Gospel of St. Luke 17:21)