Who is the Church? – Part II


2 Timothy 3:1-5a. “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness denying its power.”

If you glossed over the above scripture, please go back and read it for comprehension sake. I’ll wait.

Now, stop and look around you at the world we live in. Does the list of things in those verses sound like today’s society? You have read in the papers about all the incredibly evil things people are doing to each other. You have seen on the news (For what the news is worth) how evil is triumphed, and those who cry out for good are called evil.

Did you know that Paul was warning Timothy about the false preachers who, in the last days, infiltrate the churches? The warning was there because of the doctrines of the false servants of God would be borne out in the followers of the false teachings. That warning is: They will produce fruit after their own kind. He was not warning Timothy of the sinners who walked around outside the church, he was talking about the church itself.

The same thing happened to Israel.

Isaiah 5:20-23 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and, and valiant men at in mixing strong drink, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of his right!”

False doctrines and falsehoods were dragged into Israel, and condoned by the High Priests. They took bribes to look the other way, they were drunkards, they pronounced that the things of God are bad, and the things that are evil are good.

Just like in the book of Timothy.

These warnings and the subsequent judgments were not against people who do not know God. They are directed at people who claim they do. Israel was appointed by the Living God to be a light unto the world, that all nations will know there is a God, and He created them all. God’s efforts at redemption are illustrated all throughout the Bible.

In Timothy’s time, the doctrines of Grace, Mercy and Love, filling you by the Spirit of the Living God, based on the believers confession of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, was being diluted.

The people who diluted the Gospel were people who appeared pious, said all the right words, and smoothly talked their way into the congregation. Once they were in, they slowly diverted the Gospel of Jesus Christ for another Gospel. They turned people, slowly from the things of God, to other things. Just like in the days of Israel, when Isaiah gave all those “woes”.

Sinners are going to be sinners. They are the ones we, as Christians, are sent in to the world to reach, love, show mercy, grace, and heal their hurts. But the worst kind of sin, one that God does not tolerate, is when HIS congregation, His “called out” ones, sit idly by and let the congregation of deceivers turn people away from the simple gospel, to some sort of psychobabble, “New Aged”ideology.

Many churches, today, endorse evil, and say that if you cannot embrace that evil, you are a hater, and not a “child of God”. They say this because their view of God is that He is a kindly grandfather that endorses everything you do, simply because he “loves” you enough not to discipline you.

Every generation, every nation, every church, every tribe that has known the Living God, then thrown off His ways was destroyed.

Look around you. America is in deep trouble. Here we are within the worlds largest field, needing harvest, and we ourselves have no idea what to do about it. We are so afraid we will “offend” someone, that we do not tell the truth. We bow to laws that call for us to disobey God, hoping that God will see we are just trying to get along with every one. We fear for our jobs more than we fear disobeying God.

Jesus promised : “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake, and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man if he gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? For what can a man give in return for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the son of man be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels? Mark 8:35-38 CEV

The time for compromise has ended. Jesus assured us that we WILL offend people. That all people want to hear is what they want to hear, so they will feel good about the sin they commit.

If we genuinely want revival in the land, it starts with individual repentance. There is no such thing as “corporate” salvation. There is only individual salvation. The whole congregation will not be there for you when you see God on judgment day. If you will bend your knee, confess your sin, and let the Spirit of God remove all the lusts of your heart, and all your pride, and all your lying, and any other road blocks you have placed between you and a walk with the Lord, if you will repent, and be cleansed, you can be the one person who can start this revival in our land.

When you draw other “believers” to repentance, you will have a congregation of believers who have been cleaned again, and are willing to risk it all for the gospel. When you have that, my brothers and sisters, you have a real assembly of believers. If you have a real assembly of believers, forgiven, and empowered by the Holy Spirit, who was given to you when you first believed, and through the knowledge of the word, you will be a formidable force for the sake of the Gospel.

You can feel it in your bones that time is running out. The age of church complacency is over. The age of our willful ignorance os over. The age of denying the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is over. If you want to see all your lost friends and neighbors saved, let it begin in YOUR heart. Do business with God, and watch what business He will do through you.

You do not need permission from ANYONE to obey God. Jesus gave it to you the instant you believed in Him.

If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; (even) if we are faithless, HE remains faithful – for He cannot deny Himself.” 2 Timothy 2:11b-13

In my lifetime I have seen Jesus kicked out of Schools, public discourse, and now the Military.  In some towns and cities IN THIS COUNTRY, it is illegal to share the gospel. “The Religion of Peace” will cut your head off for sharing Jesus. Sharia law is creeping its’ way in to our laws, even as you read this.

When the congregation of believers gave up their right to do the will of Christ in their communities, then the government, who has proven to be evil to the very core, has taken them over. And when you dance with the devil, you way his price.

God destroys every nation that denounces Him. We, as a collective, have denounced God, or, out of fear for our own well being, have stood by and let it happen. I have repented of this sin, and challenge you, the individual, and the church, to do the same.

You can change what is about to befall this country when you can change your heart. And you can bring others to Christ while you can, and are willing.

Start with your church, because, if you have read the book of Revelation, you have read what Christ has to say to the Church at Laodicea. They are the archetype, we are the type. Time to get in shape and finish this fight.

I beg you, as a brother in Christ, to do what I had to do.

Repent, stop making excuses for not serving the Gospel, and our Lord Jesus Christ. Learn to pray again. Learn to read the scriptures again. Find others who have done this same thing. Be the light of the world. If you are saved, then you ARE the image of Christ. Change how you act, change how your churches act, and you will see a change in our beloved nation.

Nothing short of an act of God can turn our country around.

We are out of time, so let’s be about it.

Who is the Church?


Romans 12:1 – “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which IS your spiritual Worship.”

ekklesia – Greek – from ek, “out of”, and klesis – “a calling”, “called out”, an assembly. Loosely translated, “like-minded people”. In Greek civil society, it meant a body of citizens “gathered” to discuss the affairs of state.

I have a friend on face book, Phyllis Dayton Wall, who posted this question this evening:

When you are asked what church do you belong to, what do you say? Is it like city, county, state, and country? Denomination, Christian, Jesus Christ, God? Or do we belong to Christ’s church of Believers? Think about this. Your Thoughts?”

I told Phyllis that that is exactly what I am about to post on my blog. She kindly said I can link my blog to this posting in FB. For that I am grateful. Thank you Phyllis.  

This morning, I was tapping a dry well. My goal is to write one blog post a day. I could think of several topics, but couldn’t decide on a single one. (Suggestions welcome).

I went to my room and prayed. My mind was all over the map, and I needed to calm down and get centered on Christ, and listen to the topic HE suggests I write about.

What you will read below is from the outline that came to me as I prayed. And it was not one of the three topics I had on my list.

I have more readers from other walks than I do from the Christian walk. I want to say, right up front, that I appreciate all the lovely letters the non-Christians write to me. They are interesting, and give me a lot to think about. Keep ’em em coming.

This blog is written to the Christians.

I have been away from all things Christian for about 20 years.  I have recently returned. Here is my confession.  There is a God.  God created the Heavens and the Earth.  Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God.  All things were created through Jesus Christ.  I belong to the Living God because I believe and confess with my mouth that Jesus died in my place for my sin.  Scary as this may be to others, this makes me your brother in Christ.  I wrestled with even posting this.  But having been on the outside for 20 years, I have a perspective I would like to share.

Church

From the outside of Christianity, looking in, when I think of Christians, I also think of the church building they go to. I see Roman Catholic, Mormon, Baptist, Methodist, Episcopalian, non-denominational, etc. When I was a student at Wayland Baptist University, I used to joke that I am a member of “The First United, Holy Roman, Methyl-Bapterian, Church of God in Christ, With Fire and Signs Following” Church.

Looking from the outside at all this, I can see why non-Christians can get confused. When we ask Christians, “What is Church?”, you will get a variety of answers, but most answers boil down to what denomination and building they go to. To someone looking for a cogent answer, this is about as useful as a screen door on a submarine.

Most Christians I have talked to will tell you that they “serve the Church”, when they probably mean they are very involved in the group of people that meet at the same building as they do. They sing in the Choir, they are Deacons, they lead a Youth Group, are Sunday School Teachers, etc. And believe me, that is very important. In fact, that is called for among the congregations of believers. But, again, looking from the outside, I still do not know what the church is, or means. I am beginning to believe Christians, many of them, most of them, do not really know what “Church” is, outside of their own denomination, and building.

The church you attend IS where you go to fellowship and celebrate the joy of your salvation. But, honestly, if the biggest Christian risk you take with your life is to attend Church, then you are not really BEING the Church.

Let me clarify before you decide to gather in my yard and burn me at the stake.

Two wolves were discussing their dinner plans with a Hen and a Pig. The Wolves said they were very hungry for a bacon and egg breakfast. Immediately the Hen said, “OK, We will pitch in.” When the pig heard the hen say that, he objected saying, “Wait a minute! Your only sacrifice is Two Eggs. I will have to give my life for these Wolves breakfast!”

Your Minister, and maybe your Choir Director (Depending on the size of your church) have committed their lives to serve Christ. They have gone whole Hog to answer the “ekklesia ”, the called out ones.

All the other people who serve the church are just giving their eggs to the cause. AND THERE IS NOTING WRONG WITH THAT, except the only thing they are really serving are the people in the local building where they all meet on Sunday.

Look around. Ask yourselves this: Now I am going to play “Devil’s Advocate”. Look at the American society. Look at where the moral standards have gone over the last 40 years. Look where we are politically. Look at the intensity of the acts of violence that are committed here. There was a time in our culture where, even if you didn’t attend Church, the effect the local church had on society was quite strong, and even the unsaved adhered, as best as they could,  to that standard.

Now I can get to the point.

HOLOGRAMS.

(This will make sense by time you finish this paragraph). A hologram image is put onto a film inside a piece of glass. When coherent light hits the hologram, a three-dimensional image can be seen. Let’s say you just got through admiring that hologram, and you went to put it back in its case. Before you can get it to the case, you drop it, and it breaks into several pieces. BUT, being the hologram maker, you know that all the information that was on the whole hologram is also on every piece of the hologram. You can STILL project the whole image from just one piece. 

The whole hologram was made from all the pieces that you gathered up, but each piece IS the hologram.

This is how the Church is supposed to be. Ekklesia is a gathering of the called out people that make a the image of Christ. If, for some reason, that church, and all other churches in America were to cease to exist, does that mean the ekklesia stops existing? NO. It means that the light that shown in the Church is the same coherent light that shows in each Christian.

But What if MY Church is Dead”

Things that need to be in your church. 1. Coherent light (Jesus is the light of the world), and 2. genuine believers. If your “church” is dead, maybe there are some tougher questions you need to ask. Start with “Where’s the SALT?” No individual, or gathering of individuals can obey God, or do the things that Christ did, on his own power. You have to submit to Christ, and work through the power of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise you will be part of the falling away when things get tough.  and the church you attend is nothing but another social club hiding behind Christ as an excuse to meet.

Each individual believer attending any gathering of believers is, in and of themselves, the light of the world. When you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you are remade in His image (REF: II CORINTIANS 5:17).

Lets check the facts. The body of believers all have this in common with each individual believer:

1. They are redeemed – You have been bought by the blood of Jesus Christ. He paid for your sin, and you accept that free gift of eternal life. You are His.

2. They are filled with the Spirit of God – Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would come into you, to teach you, and convict you in the way you should go.

3. They know the Word of God – You KNOW that the WORD (Jesus) created all things that exist, and you know that God has given His word in the form of scripture, and you study and DO the word.  Not because it will gain you brownie points with God, but because your love of Christ compels you to obey His word.  

Both the assembly of believers and each individual has the same mandate. To love the Lord our God with all our heart, all our mind, all our soul and all our strength. To love our neighbors as much as we love ourselves.

Your Church, if it is a body of believers, will be doing these things. YOU, if you are a believer, will do these things.

Looking at “Church” from the outside, all I see is a joke. I see an impotent group of people who no longer know what they believe, but it sure is nice to see all those folks and hear a nice message from the pastor, every Sunday. Whether the body of believers are assembled or standing alone, the Character of the Believer should be the same. Rather than abdicate our call to the whims of the Government, who has gladly taken the place of the Church (Look at all the social programs THEY are funding, that we gave up on!). It IS the Church’s job to meet the needs of the local community. It is each Christians job to be just like Christ, as the bible says we should be.

Churches and individual believers sin when all they do is get together and talk to themselves, and reject the sinner. I can say this because I have been a minister and a sinner. I understand that we all get in our comfort zones, but tell me where that is in the scriptures. We are called to deny complacency, be filled with the Spirit, and follow Jesus. He said you will be reviled, hated, taken to jail, spit on, and persecuted. That is what being like Jesus is.  If your comfort, convenience, lack of desire, or worry of losing your job, or social standing is more important than being like Christ, then you need to re-examine what the Bible has to say about Jesus’ followers.  

While our government is aiding those who hate us, and kill us, we are to be the light in the world, as a group and as individuals.

What is the Church? Christ’s church is every believer who genuinely has been saved. Whether we are an assembly or not, our behavior is to be the same as if we were the only person on earth who believed in Jesus. Feed the poor, give to those in need, visit the prisoners, go where Jesus went, to the lost, the unwashed, the unclean, visit and support the widows, and the orphans. You are the only church that outsiders see. You don’t need anyone’s permission to obey God. Go, and be that Church.