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The Church: What it Is and What it Ain’t, Part 2

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series The Church: What it Is, and What it Ain't



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.’

(Matthew 7:13-16)

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 Smile

Series Navigation<< The Church: What it Is, and What it Ain’t, Part 1The Church: What it Is and What it Ain’t, Part 3 >>

5 replies on “The Church: What it Is and What it Ain’t, Part 2”

Thanks much for your response.  I'm reflecting on your comments relative to past revivals and thinking about the inability of the natural mind to perceive the difference between morality and spirituality.  Because morality is based on the ever-changing standards of man (whereas spirituality is derived from the never-changing Person of Christ), we can have a "revival" today that produces bad fruit.  (BTW, in 1999 Bill Bright claimed in a letter written to Campus Crusade supporters that the LORD told him we would have a national revival beginning in 2000, and I never heard that he retracted that prophesy).   Again, I appreciate your proclamation of truth. 

I sense that the institutional "church" of the West has been infiltrated by the revivalist mentality of the NAR (and other dominionist groups) along with the universalist views of many emergents.  Both of these views ignore Jesus' teaching in Matthew 7 and His question, "When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" (which you've alluded to before).   Passages such as Jeremiah 3:6-18 suggest that when the New Covenant comes, the LORD, our Good Shepherd, will take "one from the city and two from a family" (I see this passage being played out in the story of the adulterous woman brought before Jesus in John 8).  The danger, of course, in the belief of an end times revival is that the undiscerning interpret the influx of people into seeker-friendly mega "churches" as the fulfillment of this very thing.  It blinds us to our true condition (Laodicean).  In the "church" I left, leadership justified all sorts of questionable methods and unBiblical positions by the fact that "we're reaching the people" (i.e., "look at how many people come to our services").  But if Mattthew 24 is to be believed, deception and apostasy will become so prevalent before Jesus returns that even the elect will be deceived, if possible.  Only those who endure to end will be saved. Is this not the apostasy described by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2? It doesn't sound like a revival to me.

You sense correctly. The spirit of the age is built on the fear of extermination of mankind, and all of modern Christianity gravitates toward it. It is a real fear for those who lack true faith in an Omnipotent God. Even the fear of being “left behind” permeates the dispensationalist. Fear will be the prevailing force of Antichrist to bring everyone in to line for his supposed coronation.

You are also correct that those individuals who are taken will be diverse, one here and one there; and they will take Heaven with a passion; and in that day we will have many mothers, brothers, and sister, and not look back.
There are many dangers all around, recognized by both the saved and the unsaved, and the unsaved will flock to those who speak positive and encouraging words of a bright future; but we know that the day of the Lord will not be a bright day; it will the darkest of all days since the beginning of time.

Likewise the “church” I came out of sounds a lot like the one you were associated with. The “Purpose Driven” bandwagon has made its way through the whole country, and now Rick Warren is selling a revised addition to his magic formula. His formula is all about the numbers: marketing, advertising, promotion, book sales, speaking engagements, interviews. All of this equals Godliness to them. We are promised a “strong delusion” will overshadow the whole world before the return of Jesus; and if that delusion is not here I cannot imagine in my mind anything more hallucinogenic than the present spiritual poison that is driving the world mad.

The only revival I am aware of will be the revival produced by the two witnesses in the hearts of the remnant of the remnant just before the Lord’s return. If there is another I have not discovered it in all of my reading. In my estimation all the revivals of the past were only a renewed interest in religion; and they did have good effects; but even then there were only a few who were plucked from the fire. I’m sure there were times when there was a sweeping influence of Godliness in the land, but I’m not so sure that all those who participated were truly born again. Many people ride the tide of an event and are swept away with emotion and possibly believe that they have captured something real, without ever walking like Jesus walked.

Thanks for your thoughts David,

Steve B.

Given the verse you quote from Matthew 7:13-16, is it any coincidence that the church that man has built largely promotes the idea that the end times will be characterized by worldwide revival (rather than apostasy) and even universalism (in some cases)?

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