#219 (05/02/06)
Forecasting the Future of the Faith

The Message

By: Robert H. Schuller

Special Guest


Special Music

" Joyful, Joyful.. "
" O Bless the Lord, My Soul "

RONAN TYNAN – “Amazing Grace”
RONAN TYNAN - "How Great Thou Art"

The Message

I have a great message for you this morning; I've been studying and preparing for it for many years. That's very true. When I graduated from Hope College, then Western Theological Seminary, the graduate theological school of our denomination, the Reformed Church in America, I entered into the ministry. So many changes have happened after these fifty years, it astounds me.  Such as, fifty years ago, science and religion were seen as competitors. Today, I see them as complimentary forces. A favorite Bible text of mine all these years says it so clearly.

"God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think!" (Ephesians 3:20)

Today with this text before us, I'm speaking on the subject, forecasting the future of the faith.

At times in the past fifty years I have had to struggle with power minds who challenged my faith, when they were predicting that science would wipe out religion. And then, added to that, there were predictions that the immorality culture of our country and our world would wipe out our religion and that religion is only a hangover of old ancient superstitions, but it has no future. I've had to live with these challenges and now, after fifty years as your pastor, on the first Sunday of the second half century of this ministry, I am ready to forecast the future of the faith.

First of all, as I look ahead this year, I think it is going to be a fantastic year in this church and ministry. There is no doubt about it. I'm excited first of all that in September this year I'll celebrate my 80th birthday!

Now that's not as old as you think. I remember my grandson, Jason, now in law school, who when he was three years old, said to me, "Grandpa, were you in the Ark with Noah?" I said, "No, Jason." "Then why didn't you drown?" Ooooo.

And when Paul David Dunn's (Director/Producer of the Glory of Christmas) grandmother celebrated her 100th birthday, she received a bouquet of red roses with a note which read, "To my baby sister." You see, her sister was 104 years old! So I still have great dreams for the next twenty years to do something that I have been called by God to do!

I have a dream to be the first minister in history ever to preach a sermon from the Crystal Cathedral at the age of 100! And I have a strong belief that it is going to happen, and if it doesn't happen, I can't lose.

Yes, "God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we ask, seek or think." (Ephesians 3:20)

Question: What kind of a moral world are we walking into? What kind of a secular world will we have to deal with? And how about that powerful thing called science that for most of the past 50 years was looked upon as the ultimate authority? I will tell you this;

K the world cannot live without a positive faith! We need it! We cannot live without it!

I mentioned I'm a graduate of Hope College in Holland, Michigan. I'm very proud of that. Recently Hope College lost one of its distinguished alumni. Before he died they were able to give him an award. (I was honored to receive the same award a few years ago. It is called a Distinguished Alumni Award.) The alumnus I'm speaking about was Nobel Prize Winner, Richard Smalley, who won the Nobel Prize nine years ago for his ground breaking research in what has lead to nano-technology. He was the leader in that field when he died only a few months ago of cancer. He wasn't able to attend the ceremony to receive the honor, but his prepared remarks were read at the Hope College Distinguished Awards Ceremony.

Dr. Richard Smalley:

"My short two years at Hope College, starting as a freshman in 1961, were immensely important to me. I went to chapel, studied religion, and attended church more than I ever had before and I was among people who took these issues seriously. I valued that greatly back then. Recently I've gone back to church regularly with a new focus; to understand as best I can what it is that makes Christianity so vital and powerful in the lives of billions of people today, even though almost 2000 years have passed since the death and resurrection of Christ."

These are the words of a Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry K Why has the Christian faith survived?

"Although I suspect I will never fully understand, I now think the answer is very simple. More people are religious today than ever before and I think the answer is very simple K "It's true."

Wow! Why does Christianity have a future? It's true!

Dr. Smalleys remarks continues,

"God did create the universe about 13.7 billion years ago, and of necessity He has involved Himself with His creation ever since. The purpose of this universe is something only God knows for sure. But it is increasingly clear to modern science that the universe was exquisitely fine tuned to enable human life. We are somehow critically involved in His purpose. Our job is to sense that purpose as best we can, love one another and help God get that job done." *

Applaud that!

Today, seventy-five percent of professional physicists have come to believe in a God; Yes, the world has changed. After 50 years in this ministry I meet scientists who treat me with respect and that is mutual. Science is not the threat to religion in the next 50 years as it was the past 50 years.

Today, the threat to religion is secularism. And secularism is an attempt to bring fulfillment, excitement and satisfaction to life without spirituality. And that will always fail. Secularism strives to fulfill these basic human needs, but the truth is; spirituality is the ultimate fulfillment of excitement and satisfaction.

What is the number one problem in the human race? I've thought about it, I've written a lot of books, I've met and listened to some of the most profound thinkers in the world. I have studied under Viktor Frankl, I have an immense collection of what I have been taught and heard and I conclude that the number one problem in the human family is boredom. Yes, even more than guilt, because boredom produces activity that generates guilt.  Boredom comes first. This means that the single deepest need in every human being is stimulation K excitement.  And that is what the Christian faith offers.

When the stimulation and excitement is offered to you by secularism, how do they do that?  Through something that works through your glands, maybe a pill, maybe a drink, maybe sexual activity. All these will do you more harm than good. Stimulation through secularism is not the answer.

The answer comes through a spiritual faith. How does that work? Spirituality through the Christian faith alone provides stimulation from boredom, through salvation from guilt K and that delivers self esteem, dignity and self respect, to do God's dream for your life. Now you are truly stimulated!

I'm talking about the deepest human need that will never go away, not in one thousand years K not in ten thousand years. The human being needs to be stimulated or he will be bored and that is the road to hell. To be stimulated, you need salvation. What holds us back more than anything else is lack of internal harmony, which we call salvation? Yes, get rid of a thing called guilt because next to boredom it is guilt that holds the human being back. When your internal emotions and spiritual system is in harmony, and not internally conflicted, then youll end up with self esteem, self respect, and dignity. Live that way! Then, "You can come to the end of your life with pride behind you, love around you and hope ahead of you." (I delivered these lines at Senator Hubert Humphreys funeral in 1978.)

Only the Christian faith can deliver this kind of a life K stimulation, salvation and self-esteem! Then what happens? Then you begin to think positively. Yes, you still will have problems, disappointments, rejections, and hurts, of course, but you look at the positive instead of the negative and you keep on practicing possibilities and you know that you will achieve your dreams.

After fifty years, the basic dream I've had has come true. I signed a contract, a call from our denomination, The Reformed Church in America, to start a church. This meant I had to buy land, build buildings, hire architects, raise money, work with subcontractors and at the same time, build a congregation of believers who would make the positive faith happen in their daily life, changing their communities; and their families.

For fifty years I have preached how the Christian faith alone provides stimulation K salvation K self esteem K and possibility thinking. I wanted you, my congregation, to believe in yourself, to know you can do it, to know you are somebody! Dream the great dreams and set goals. When you become a goal oriented, goal managed person, that's how you become a God-managed person! That is how to live the God life that He wants you to live. Find out what God's dream is for you. What does He want you to be as a person? That becomes your goal. Yes, then far more than you know, you become a God-managed person, and you glorify God in your success! Wow!

The Christian faith provides a success that glorifies God.

As a theologian, (I am not a theological scholar but I've done my work and still do my work) I look back at my studies where in the Bible, and in all theology, it says that sins are either those of omission or commission. And the church, too often in the past thousand years, has emphasized the sin of commission. That means the many acts that the church has declared as sin. You are committing a sin if you do this. If you do that, you're committing a sin and every Sunday we are to be reminded of how sinful we are and how bad we have been. So the conclusion is to ask repentance for forgiveness for sins and you go out of the church with an awareness that your sins are forgiven because Jesus died on the cross for you.

The church, for one thousand years, has been focused on these sins of commission, but I submit, the church has too often ignored the sins of omission, to ask the question, "What does God want me to do?" It is not enough to just have peace of mind knowing that your guilt is gone; to not only leave church with a guilt free feeling, but you also need to leave church with a dream, a goal K I am! K I can! K I will! ... I believe! Yes, I am somebody! I can achieve something! I CAN DO something! I WILL DO something! When you do that, you bring glory to God! That's the emphasis this ministry has brought into historic Christian faith.

The Christian faith works because it is true!

Why does the Christian faith work? As Dr. Smalley, the Nobel Prize winner said, "It works simply because it's true." Why does it work? Faith brings constructive stimulation to get going to do something beautiful. That's how it saves you from boredom. Faith gives you salvation, internal spiritual harmony, Jesus is there. So you are free from guilt. Then you receive the gift of self esteem, you believe in yourself, because of the Spirit of Jesus in you. And through positive thinking you become goal oriented. You achieve success as you leave something behind that makes the world more beautiful, as Mother Teresa said to me, "Do something beautiful for God." Yes, this kind of faith that we've been preaching for fifty years will never die! Because every human being needs it.

A final reason why the Christian faith will never die is because it's the only possible answer to life's greatest mystery. No matter what race, what creed, what intellect, what culture you are, from around the world, every human being is born to face the mystery that he has to live with until he dies. And it is the mystery of what happens when we die. There are different answers. Some say "you're dead" period. But there is an overwhelming intuitive concept born into us. You didn't learn it. It is born into us in an intuitive sense that there is something beyond death. That there is still a higher level of life.  It's spiritual, and there will be rewards and there will be justice. But the only answer to the ultimate mystery comes through faith and it comes through the faith that we get through the people we can trust. Who can we trust? With so many weird, and yes, wicked, religions, who can you trust? I trust Jesus Christ. I believe God had to come to earth and die and rise again to prove to us there is an ultimate truth. And the truth is the gospel of Jesus Christ!

That's what I believe today at nearly 80 years old and stronger than ever in my life.

I have four passions, one K to live to be 100 to preach here.

The second passion is to do what has to be done to assure that the Crystal Cathedral will have perpetuity. The Reformed Church of America's oldest church started in 1928. It's the Marble Collegiate Church on 5th Avenue New York and its sister church was St. Nicholas, nearby. The St. Nicholas Church ran into debt, couldn't pay the debt off easily, so they sold St. Nicholas Church in 1949. Life Magazine, the most prominent magazine at that time, showed the most beautiful church steeple in the world, the St. Nicholas Church steeple torn down with a wrecking ball. The land was sold and today is the Rockefeller Center. We must not let that happen to the Crystal Cathedral 100 or 130 years from now, so for the next ten years I will focus on coming up with a creative solution. It has already been given to me by God, to make sure that this will not happen to this church. So I'll work to prevent that from ever happening with a Crystal Cathedral Foundation. I'll be raising money for that, anybody and everybody can help.

My third passion is to build the church of Jesus Christ in America and the world and continue to counsel ministers. Our institute these past 40 years has graduated many, many ministers who launched their ministries and have credited the institute. Rick Warren and Bill Hybels are just two of thousands. I want to continue to build the church of Jesus Christ.

A fourth passion I have is to continue my theological writings. I have theological concepts that have never been written and I think I need to write them.

So I have asked the church board to relieve me as President of this ministry and the day-to-day matters in this huge congregation and I am very proud to announce that this past week, the board has nominated and voted unanimously to elect my son, Robert Anthony Schuller, as the second senior pastor of the Crystal Cathedral Congregation and the Hour of Power.

I will take on a new role as Founding Pastor and I will remain Chairman of the International Board of the Crystal Cathedral Ministries which governs the many ministries beyond this church and the Hour of Power. We will continue to be a great father-son team and we have a great deal of respect for each other! To God be the glory!

I am forecasting that the future of the faith that has evolved here in this ministry these past fifty years has its greatest days ahead with my son as the next Senior Pastor. He was six months old when we started the first church service, and has all of his academic credentials. Robert has been prepared to lead this church. God made it happen. And he needs your prayers because ultimately a church will succeed or fail not because of the pastor in the pulpit, it happens by the people. You make it happen or you make it not happen. Ultimately you are the ultimate power in this ministry, not I or Robert. It's up to you. Make it happen!

Robert Anthony Schuller's Response:

I want to say that I need your prayers. I covet your prayers, and I want to say that I really believe that God has called me from the time I was born and has equipped me and has allowed me to take on this incredible challenge, so on January 22, 2006, I will be installed by The Reformed Church in America as the Senior Pastor of the Crystal Cathedral congregation and I am honored and humbled to accept this opportunity. I know that with God all things are possible and I know that together, as a team, we will succeed and that we will take this ministry to the next level in the next fifty years, so it's a challenge that I'm excited about and that I know will be full of many blessings so I thank you for the opportunity.

Prayer - Robert H. Schuller

Dear God, thank you that You've brought us into the land of beginning again, a new morning, a new week, a new year and a new half century for this church's ministry. O God, thank You that You've brought us here because You need us, You want us, You love us, You've given to each of us gifts that You need to use in this world. The smile of hope, the laughter of faith and the courage to take Your impossible dreams and make them come true with You. Hallelujah, it will be a happy New Year. Amen.

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