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The Extinction of Religion or A Call For Missions?

An interesting article I read recently was claiming that from the results of census data from nine countries(Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland.) over the last century shows that religion will soon be extinct there. (For the full article click here .)
Before we get into the debate about the difference between social religion and true religion, may I say I don't think this survey is showing that people are dumping "religion" for a "personal relationship" with Jesus Christ. That being said, I do think it shows that people are fleeing the false hope of "religion" defined as a social/political grouping filled with empty traditions and no passion or real commitment to doctrines or creeds or to God and the pursuit of His glory. Instead these results, based on mathematical deduction, are more in line with Romans 1:18-25

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves,because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen."

People have always sought to do away with God. I find it interesting, though, that in this survey and when you speak to individuals, the true findings are that they aren't against religion, as everyone worships (even atheists, who claim their own superiority over any possibility of deity are only worshipping their own intellect and lusts). No, instead you find that these kinds of surveys are always targeting Christianity in particular. You won't find studies suggesting people are giving up yoga, because they are turning away from religion as a society, nor will you find articles detailing why nations are leaving Islam (perhaps out of a justifiable fear for their own safety in this case), or abandoning Hinduism, Bhuddism, Shintoism, Voodoo, Druidism, Witchcraft, New Age, or any pagan and false religious practice. And even the cults that have sprung from unorthodox and extrabiblical groups aren't addressed in this manner by most mainstream media (i.e. like tv shows "Big Love" and TLC's "Sister Wives" that promote the perversion of the gospel propagated by the apostate Mormon church of Latter Day Saints). In fact, the world at large has no problem with evangelicals promoting a liberal theology, such as universalism, open theism, and the "re-interpreting" of literal scripture. After all, who would disagree or be angry with a god that has no power or judgement. (Don't forget though, if you abandon the wrath, judgement, and omnipotent sovereignty of God as revealed in scripture, that you cannot claim His love, justice, mercy, and grace; as God is a composite of all of His attributes all the time).
Everything is exactly as God said it would be. The fact that people are abandoning biblical Christianity in favor of pursuing their own lusts through anything but, proves the authenticity of both scripture and the One True Living God as He has revealed Himself in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, and it is only there that we can have any idea as to what God requires of us (Ecclestastes 12:13-14 , Ephesians 2:20 , 2 Timothy 3:16-17 ).
So, how should we, as Christians, react to news reports and studies such as this one? Should we thank God we are saved and not like them and retreat to our group/congregation waiting for the return of Jesus Christ? 
Yes and no. Of course we should be grateful for our salvation and that Christ has defeated sin, death, and Satan. However, we have to be careful not to become as the Pharisee of Luke 18:10-14.
""Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed [fn] thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.""
We don't want to have too high a view of our false righteousness (Romans 12:3 ) which can lead to hypocrisy being the witness we bring to the unbelieving and lost world on their way to eternal judgement and justice in hell at the hands of Jesus Christ, God Almighty.
What does this have to do with missions?
First, we cannot ever forget the fact that we were once "dead in our tresspasses and sins" (Colossians 2:13-14 ), and were following our own desires and lusts, worshipping everything, but God, including making idols out of ourselves. We are no better than anyone. We are as deserving of eternal torment in hell as anyone who ever lived. The only thing standing between someone who dies and goes to heaven and one who goes to hell is that the one who goes to heaven has went there on the merit of another (2 Corinthians 5:21 ), the propitiatory death of Jesus Christ has taken the Father's wrath in our place and has cleansed and expiated us from our own filthiness and uncleanness, allowing us to stand before God and be unashamed (Romans 3:25 , Hebrews 2:17 ).
Second, we cannot forget the great commission: "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation." (Mark 16:15 ). People groups aren't only unreached in exotic and foreign cultures, but often around us, and they are included in "all the world" and the "whole creation".
Thirdly, and related to the second, is from Jesus' teaching of the Good Shepherd in John 10 . Verse 16 speaks of "other sheep" that are "not of this fold". To His audience there, it was a direct reference to ourselves, the Gentiles, and to us it should remind us that Jesus didn't just die for us or people like us or even people that we like and understand, but for people from " every tribe and language and people and nation" (Revelation 5:9 ). going back to John 10, Jesus died for them, ransomed them with His own life's blood, the least we can do is proclaim the gospel to them and pray diligently for their salvation.
The fact that people are rejecting "religion" in it's stereotyped form can be an open door for authentic biblical Christianity. I've found that many people, even here in the "Bible belt", may have grown up with more of a social Christianity, and don't actually know the gospel. They often aren't hardened to it, but are ignorant of the true gospel of Jesus Christ.
So, I leave you with this from Hebrews 13:12-14.
"So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come."
Let us leave our comfort zones and reach out to the lost all around us. You will find that no matter how different they may seem, they are in the same sinful state you were and still would be apart from Christ's atonement for your sins being applied to you.
For a good sermon about this check out John Piper speaking at the 2000 Ligonier National Conference here , and his book, "Let The Nations Be Glad: The Supremacy of God in Missions" 
"Now, go serve your King!"-Todd Friel

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