THE CHURCH OF TODAY

Scholars tell us that in Jesus’ day there were twenty-four known sects of Judaism.  While it is true that there were many Pharisees who agreed with  His teachings,  and equally true that He  affirmed much of what they taught (Matthew 23:2-3), it is also accurate to say that many had strayed so far from the truth that Jesus rebuked them as hypocrites and said “This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me.  And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men’ (Mark 7:6-7). 

Tragically, this exact scenario exists in today’s church with the Body of Christ fragmented into so many denominational and non-denominational expressions of  “the truth” that your average “seeker” has no idea what a “bible believing” assembly of believers really looks like. 

While we examine the condition of the modern church and the methods employed to propagate our faith, it is I believe important to remember that while the church has strayed from biblical precepts; it was a process that has happened over time.  So then, this is not about pointing fingers and laying blame at anyone's doorstep.  Instead we hope to look at standards put forth in the Word of God, and examine ourselves as to whether we are in the faith.

Where we find discrepancy between the standards of His word and our practices, we need to determine a course of repentance and correction that moves us towards a biblical expression of community; instead of continuing to do what is right in our own eyes.

An example of such a discrepancy is the fact that we’ve modeled our church government after the world system and the oversight of the house of the Lord appears more like a business than a new testament assembly of believers.  See example:

 

 

Jesus said beginning in Matthew 20:25  — You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.  Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.  And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”  For a more in-depth discussion on this topic, see the article:  A New Wineskin

The initial point of this discussion can be put forth by these questions:  When we see the discrepancy between God's word and our practices, do we seek the Lord asking for His guidance and commit to changing directions? -and-  If we ignore these differences and do nothing,  do we not disqualify ourselves and our ministries from the very anointing and refreshing that is so necessary to carry out the vision we've been given? 

The challenges confronting today’s church are too numerous to fully discuss here.  However, one glaring issue that cannot be overlooked in this prologue is the disproportionate and ever increasing cost of new facilities especially when compared to more legitimate or biblically mandated ministries.  It is sadly ironic that the largest and fasted growing church in the world is the one in China and they very rarely have any facility for public meetings. 

Other conditions that are shaping the life in today’s church concern the opportunities and perils facing not only the present leaders, but also the ones who will lead tomorrow.  The issues are more symptomatic of what Jesus said was present in the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3.  Some of the spiritual conditions that Jesus addressed included:            

1.    Leaving their First Love

2.    Deeds & Doctrine of the Nicolaitans

3.    Blasphemy

4.    Holding the doctrine of Balaam (for profit  Re: Jude 11)

5.    Allowing Jezebel, to teach and seduce God’s servants

6.    Having a name that you are alive, but you are dead.

7.    Being lukewarm

 

Revelation 3:8 describes what seems to be a small minority among the believers  — “I know your works.  See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.”

As we consider the various models of institutional Christianity currently in place, and the challenges facing the body of Christ - keep in mind that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."  (Ephesians 6:12)  In other words, if we are to win the battle, it will be won on our knees with brokenness and humility. 

Before continuing, we felt it was best to communicate that parts of the vision section will be very difficult for some to read.  Be assured it was difficult to write as well.  We have many precious brothers and sisters who are in the institutional church... We love them very much; but we can no longer be part of a religious system that chokes the life out of us. 

Personally, there is a pastor at one church in particular that I will always have a soft spot in my heart for...  When we first moved into the area a number of years back, coming out of a natural disaster and not yet having a job... our one automobile broke down and needed a new engine...  This precious man of God whom I had only known for a couple of months; calls me up and said that his wife (who is also very precious to us) and him had been praying and felt led by the Lord to give us their family car... What was so amazing to us about this is that we were not given their second or third best car... instead they gave us the best they had at the time.  I will always love and appreciate them for this genuine expression of Christ's love...

So then as you read the next section understand this first: We love our brothers and sisters in Christ... and this is not an indictment of the Lord's people in any traditional church.   The standard of Christ's liberty we desire to raise is for them as well.

This is about Jesus and being obedient to His ways; believing He has called us to take this stand.   For we know that our God is a jealous God and He will STILL have no other gods before him... even the idols of brick and steel that we build in His name.

As you continue then, there are two choices you can make:  If you are looking for a new group of believers to fellowship with, and feel (being fully convinced - see Romans 14:5b) that the Lord would lead you elsewhere; then you are free to stop reading... May the Lord give you favor in your search.

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THE VISION

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