He also said, ‘This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.’ (Mark 4:26-29)
But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him"– these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. (1 Corinthians 2:7-10)
Awhile back I was told by a friend, after a brief discussion of Church life after the Day of Pentecost, that the “Church life” displayed following Acts was, and is, un-sustainable in light of all the future developments of modern culture. I would have to agree, if what we have as our guide is the bulk of recorded history, and the self-evident constructions of the modern mega-church complex. My position is that the Church life we see lived out in the Book of Acts is sustainable, although not evidenced through the organizational church of today. I contend that what we see as the “church” today is a prostitution of a Divine design, repackaged to accommodate the egos of men, and presented with enough choreography and ambience to simulate, to ignorant men, the moving of the Spirit. This form of church is not sustainable, as my friend said, and I agree, but this is not the Church of God, this is the church of man, and must be continually changed and upgraded to accommodate the fleeting desires of carnal flesh. The church of man does not resemble, even remotely, the Church of God as illustrated in Acts and the early Church! Why? Because God has not built that church, it was built by man; therefore it has all the earmarks of man in its architecture and organization. The church of man is a vain attempt to finish in the flesh what was started in the Spirit. Scripture tells us that,
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. (Psalm 127:1).
My contention is that if the Church of Acts is unsustainable, then Christianity as a whole is unsustainable. What is the Church but Christians, the organic sustainable Body of Christ! If the Church of Acts is not the church that we witness today, then is it conceivable that virtually all of the Christians who flood the doors of these religious buildings are not really “Christians?” Yes! Why should we believe that a “church,” an organization of men, which is not sustainable, is of God? Has God given each age or generation a different – pattern – by which to build His Church? Is God dictated to by the flightiness of men’s desires, wishes, or cultural context? Does man’s inability to sustain anything limit God’s ability or demands? If God is to build HIS Church, is He like the man who started out to build a house, but forgot to count the cost, and is now made to look like a fool? Is there really a cultural context or formula by which we are to interpret, determine, or redesign what the “Church” is supposed to be like or act like? With the smorgasbord of church activity presented to the world today, how can we know which is the “real” Church? Should we be looking for something that is pictured in Scripture, or something else? Has the “Church” through committee approval redrawn the plans for the Tabernacle into something entirely different?
The Scripture above, if read carefully, will lead the enlightened seeker to examine cautiously all the merchandise offered by the modern church as authentic gems of ancient wisdom. Be assured that out of all the fake jewels the world of men and the Devil have produced there remain only One True Authentic Gem of God; do you have what it takes to know the difference? The above Scripture holds a clue to the question of, “how can we know which is the ‘real’ Church?” Can you solve the riddle?
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. ‘Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing (and with fake jewels) but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits.’
To understand the love of God in Christ is to understand the foundation of the authentic Church. It rains on the “just and the unjust” alike. The same rain that one man curses, another receives with blessings. “All things work together for good” for one man, while to another, they are the profuseness of evil. One factor differentiates them; the love of God in Jesus. The trials and tribulations of the one must be endured and avoided; for the other they are the fertile soil of growth, necessary to sustain a fruitful posterity. For the one all things are understood in the context of, advantage, or self-satisfaction; but to the Christian they are understood in the context of how they can advance their brother or sister. Only in this context can we understand the Church, as illustrated in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, and the primitive Church. The misapprehension of Biblical love results in what is observed as the modern Church in all of its peculiar apparel, and the building of a structure on the shifting sand of human intelligence.
Stay tuned for part 3