The Kingdom of God And Education–Questioning The Ghanaian Church’s Perspective

Three weeks ago I attended the funeral of a cousin of mine in my hometown Gbi Kledzo, one of the towns of the Gbi Traditional area whose capital, Hohoe is currently under seige by communal violence. But don’t worry, today’s post is not going to be about the raging violence. Someday I will have something to say about that, but the time is not today. I’m currently reading JH Yoder’s “Body Politics: Five Practices of the Christian Community before the Watching World”, and his thoughts have resonated with something that bothered me at my hometown, and I can’t rest without writing these down. So here I am this evening, goaded on by Yoder to address the attitude of the church towards education and ultimately towards poverty alleviation.

I attended the Sunday memorial service for my cousin held at the local “branch” of one of the most influential churches in the Volta Region, and I did enjoy the vim and vigour with which members sang so many theologically sound and deep songs in worship of God. In spite of the conditions of poverty that abounded in their midst, their attitude of praise was indeed miles ahead of many mega churches, I must say. This church tradition’s music is something I do admire a lot theologically, but music does not make the kingdom; actions do. And I do have a lot of friends who are members of this church so I’m not mentioning names. The point however is that this problem really goes beyond this church I attended alone.  And so, I digress.

In the sermon, the preacher urged the members to be faithful in giving their weekly donations towards the building/funding of a university being built by the leadership of the denomination, as God will indeed bless them in this wise. Of course he made the usual run-around about offering and tithes, but that is a moot point if you are familiar with my view on these matters. Though this was not the greatest sermon I’d ever heard in my life, that was my point of departure, and my deviously fertile mind began to ask questions.

Seriously?

Seriously? Given the levels of poverty in this town, how many members of this church can actually be able to pay for their children’s education all the way to the university level? How many children graduate from the local primary school and even advance to SHS? What is the quality of education being received by the children of these church members to be able to compete with their colleagues in the big cities? Are these church members by virtue of their contribution to the building of this university going to get free tuition if by some miracle their children are able to make it past JHS? Is the church more interested in the empire building antiques of having a university in it’s name, or are they actually concerned about breaking the vicious cycle of poverty through education?

I listen to the political elite spew all sorts of propaganda about education, from making SHS education free to increasing enrollment through increasing capitation grants and school feeding programs, and none of them is tackling the cold hard issue – the quality of our education, whether free or not, abundant or few is simply going down the tube. And yet it is a universally accepted fact that it is better to have a smaller number of highly skilled people who are able to turn around and create wealth for the lower skilled people to benefit from, than for everybody to be illiterate. At the pace at which the world is advancing today, we must invest in bringing higher quality education to our children to be able to compete, to be able to break the cycle of poverty that exists in our communities. Instead today, quality education is the preserve of the rich and middle class, and that is the end of the matter. As usual with politicians, they have simply lost the plot.

Top Down, or Bottom Up?

And so when I see our Archbishops, Moderators, Presidents, General Overseers etc busily competing with each other to also build universities so they can put their church’s name on it, I’m indeed saddened. Are we interested in dealing with the problems at the root, or do we want to continue with the superficial window dressing, all in the name of empire building? If we are, then we must not be tackling the problem from the top (university level where it is always the easiest to do and we can make the most money to continue feeding the church elite) but rather begin to focus on the weak foundations (which admittedly is harder to do and will cost us more in time and energy, but whose effectiveness is well proven). If not, then I wonder what difference there is between the church and the political structures of the day?

Because as Jesus showed in Lk 4:18-21, his coming is the source of good news to the poor, the oppressed, the destitute and the imprisoned. Our unfamiliarity with the history of the times of second Judaism clouds our ability to understand Jesus in these texts. For his coming was supposed to break the oppression that was being meted out by the rich Jew on his fellow Jew who was in debt and had sold himself into slavery to repay the debt. As Ex 21:1-11 and Lev 25 showed, after 6 years of service, no matter how high the debt, people were to be set free. And after 50 years, all property sold as a result of poverty is to returned to the poor. But then as it is today, the heart of the rich in this world has not been very open to obedience to the word of God regarding how to treat the poor, and it’s not about to change anytime in this age and in this worldly kingdom.

And so if Christ’s coming is good news to the poor, how is the church using education as a tool to uplift the poor? How is building a university good news to the poor and oppressed in the Kledzo church, when their children will never be able to progress academically to get there? And who says that until a person is able to attend the university, they don’t have enough education to make a change in society? As my sister Priscilla put it at our church meeting this morning, “if Jesus is the head and we are the body, then we the body act out what the head has thought up. If not, we have become dysfunctional, and might end up in a mental institution, or at worst in the mortuary.”

And So

And so I draw on a familiar story around me to make the point as to the Church’s ineffectiveness and lack of imagination when it comes to being the bearer of good news;  I refer to the ability of someone from Norway to make millions from his business and give back to society not by donating to charities unknown or giving to the corrupt politicians in the government of Ghana to fill their pockets, but actually building a school to train software entrepreneurs in Africa. I refer to Jorn Lyseggen and to the Meltwater Enterprieneural School of Technology model only because here is a person attempting to deal with problems the hard way, but definitely the more effective way. In this particular circumstance as the popular saying goes, he has been more Catholic than the Pope, an effort worth commending.

The church has the greatest capacity to bring change in EACH COMMUNITY in which it is found, if it is minded to be faithful to its king and to his kingdom agenda. This is why Jesus said he will build his church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it. The kingdom of God is amongst us, and we must not collect people to fill up our pews only to build empires to fill up the elite leadership’s egos of importance. The Messianic age has already began now and the violent enter it by force (Mt 11:12) – we must not tell the poor to wait till they go to heaven to experience it. That theology is totally pagan (i.e. Greek) and has no Jewish underpinnings whatsoever.

Are we building up those whom God made in his own image and has rescued with his own blood, or are we creating empires for self-glorification?

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My Church

Some people have asked me about the church I attend. They wonder how I can be so critical of the church, and yet claim to be a Christian. Therefore, the logical question to ask then is what church am I in, and how are we “practicing what I/we preach”? Like we used to do in primary school, instead of writing a “Myself”, I’ve decided to write a “My church”. In that direction, I’ll first talk about the ABCs of measuring a contemporary Christian ministry, and then we’ll pick it up from there.

Attendance

My church is made up of about 10 people, so judging by mega church standards, we’d not be considered a church. However, being small allows us to be more focused on each other than most other churches will allow. It has enabled us to build relationships of open questioning, encouragement, criticism and in some circumstances, severe heartbreak. As someone said, “Everybody is fine until you get to know them”. One of the important lessons that such relationships force you to develop is trust. You have to begin to learn to trust your brother, even though he is very capable of hurting that trust that you have reposed in them. Being small can be very intensive, and if you are not ready to lay down your pride, your social and tribal prejudices and your own self interest, then I’ll suggest that such close relationships are not good for you. Unfortunately, that is exactly what Christ meant by “carrying our cross” and “laying down our lives” for each other.

The membership is quite varied, from a management consultant (my dad) to a software developer (me) to final year university student (my sis) to trotro & taxi drivers, to masons and the unemployed. Interestingly you will hear Ewe, Akan, Krobo and English being spoken freely with attempts to explain to each other what we are saying when we ever do get into our local languages. But we tend to stick with English & Twi.

We believe that God will through our lives and our interaction with people we meet, draw others who are willing to walk with us the walk of discovering Christ together, and we keep encouraging ourselves in this direction. However, we are mindful of the fact that we are not doing it FOR Christ, we are doing it WITH him. When we grow beyond our current number, I believe we’ll have to define some limit in which case another meeting will be started in a different location, probably the house of a member which will be suitable enough. The idea is to keep our gatherings small and people focused, and we believe this can be done.

Buildings

Our church meets in my dad’s house. It has quite a big lot with plenty trees, and a lot of shade. Therefore we meet under one of the bigger trees, and in the case of rain or bad weather, we meet in our living room. I guess by the standard of a mega church, we do not exist if we do not have a church building of our own like the million and one that surround us. Well, my only answer to that is that it enables us to focus our little financial resources on the needs of the members of the church, and not on the hustles of buying land, getting a loan (or squeezing out the last drop of money from the church members) to build the church and dealing with the maintenance costs of running such a building, in the name of building a “temple” for the living God. The NT is abundantly clear that the people are the temple, and the money we have is better spent on them.

Cash

Obviously, we find ourselves in a community where there is a lot of unemployment (which is not surprising in a nation of endemic unemployment), and therefore our financial affairs are nothing to write home about by mega church standards. Although we have a bowl in which people may put in donations from what they have, very few of us do so, basically because very few of us can actually afford to do so without starving for the rest of the week. And actually no one is under compulsion to do so. When a member is in need of something, they let us know and we begin to plan together how we may be able to meet that need. Most times, those working amongst us have to actually dedicate some of their monthly salary to meeting some of these needs, and we try as much as possible to look for solutions to problems that involve getting these people a job so they can sustain themselves. However, demand is more than supply, so we have to be wise about what we spend our monies on (and in effect, it also affects how we as individuals also spend our own monies because we are to be people who work to sustain ourselves and others who are incapable of doing so at any given point in time. See Eph 4:28; 2 Th 3:6-10 for a better understanding of this.) In the same direction, those who receive such help have a responsibility enforced by the other members to make sure that they use it wisely. The end is always that they too should be a source of funding to meet someone else’s need in the future.

In the face of this, it is obvious then that nobody is a “paid” minister, although we are all actively engaged in what most people consider “full time ministry”. For us the principle of a priesthood of all believers is not mere talk, it’s a reality. Oh, and we do not have a headquarters on this earth, and neither are we ever going to have one. So we are free to focus on ourselves and in the future on the needs of other sister churches that may develop as we grow bigger, without feeling the breathing on our back that we have some higher human authority to appease.

The Meeting

Ours is not a service, nor a performance. It’s a meeting (because the “ecclesia” – the assembly, has met), and we strive to make it quite an open one. The chairs are arranged in a semi-circular shape, with a whiteboard if you want to write something (like teach a song). There’s no choir (not that we ever intend to have a standing one), so everybody brings up a song they want us to sing. As the Ewes say “If your corn flour is not in the bowl, then you don’t participate in eating the akple”, so our singing is only as good as we contribute to making it, and it can go in any direction that the Holy Spirit so leads us. There are some amongst us who do not have that good a musical voice or ear, and sometimes introduce a song out of beat or tune. But we correct the tune or beat and along we go. Whether your voice is the sweetest soprano or the croakiest tenor, no one stops you from singing. That is the beauty of being a part of Christ. Whoever you are, you are accepted.

And we also have people writing their own songs and teaching them to us, or teaching some songs that they feel are helpful to our meeting. We do have one person accompanying the singing with the guitar, but they are not the choir master or anything like that, so that no one is stifled from bringing in their song.

We have an open time of sharing, in which testimonies, songs, hymns, teaching, exhortation etc is allowed just like in 1 Cor 14:26. This is basically the center of our gathering. There is not going to be a sermon, so the focus is on allowing and encouraging everyone to share what they have to contribute to the brethren. And trust me, the stuff we talk about may be directly from scripture, or from someone’s experience of life as they went through the week, to discussions on how to help a brother fix his taxi to go back to work, to some business ventures that some of us want to engage in to bring employment to others, to querying and if applicable rebuking a brother for some behaviour someone has noticed over time and so on. So far as it helps bring build each other up in our spiritual and physical lives as we live together for Christ, it is encouraged. Your contribution can be disrupted with a question, correction or additional perspective, and yet there is absolute order. Like I said, there’s no sermon, neither is there an abundance of announcements, so we have all the time to spend engaging each other in these.

We typically pray together over certain topics that we ourselves feel are important to pray together for, and we also chip in our individual needs if you feel like you need help. We end up having a meal, and then taking the Lord’s supper as it should be taken – like supper. Not in some sombre religious attitude, but in one of even further engagement and discussion with one another. In fact, I wonder why I didn’t realize all this while that it was “supper” we were supposed to be taking. When taking lunch or supper with your friends, you don’t keep mute – you have a conversation, right? It’s interesting why to most evangelicals, the Lord’s supper is some supernatural event which cannot be taken in an informal, non-religious manner. Oh, and anyone is chosen on the spur of the moment to share the bread and wine, so it’s not some particular person’s duty to do so – the idea is to put more of the priesthood of all believers into practice.

Name

I guess the final point that most people reading this will have a bated breath waiting for me to talk about is the name of our church. Well, I’m sorry to disappoint you, but there’s no name. Or better still, it’s such a long one that I prefer not to talk of it. The reason you ask for a name is because you see churches with names all around, but let me draw an analogy, and you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

I threw this challenge the last time that we in Africa can easily understand the idea of extended families, because we still practice it. In fact, I drew and will draw again similarities between these two for us to understand the perspective from which to approach it. When you have an extended family meeting, what do you call yourselves? Probably by your surname i.e. maybe the surname of your great-grandfather, in my case the Morny family meeting. In the same way, we are named after our ancestor, God. Our family head is Jesus Christ, a position which he will not share with anyone else. And it is by his permission that we belong to this family. Therefore, we could possibly also be named after the one who has given us to belong to this family – Christ. The only other thing is that maybe some of our family members meet in Ashongman, whiles others meet in Godenu, and others still in Agbogba. So we say then that we are the “ecclesia” (assembly) or family of God/Christ which meets regularly in Mr Morny’s house in Agbogba. Does that make sense to you? Do you see why Paul addressed his letters to the “ecclesia” of Christ in Colosse, Corinth, etc?

Paul didn’t build bureaucratic organizations with high hierarchies interested in dominating the world. Paul went to homes, and picked people from disparate families to form a totally different family that loved each other with the same love that Christ loved them. So try thinking from this perspective. In the meantime, if you are interested in carrying your cross for the sake of a brother (and by extension, Christ) you are always welcome to my church. I’ll encourage you to ask as many questions as you can of my description so far.

We are not perfect, but our focus is on showing Christ to the world through our lives lived together – to display the manifold wisdom of God through Christ’s body, his church. It’s a most challenging, exciting, difficult, maturing and fun road, with very little religiousness and yet very deep characters being formed. You are welcome to join us.

Rediscovering NT Christianity – A Purpose Driven God

This is the first in a series I’m writing on Rediscovering NT Christianity. This article is available for download here

Many of us have read the popular title by Rick Warren, “Purpose Drive Life”. Unfortunately I am yet to read it, but I’ll like to tweak his title to apply to this writing. I have heard many people say “God will reveal what he has purposed for me” or “What God has purposed for me will surely come to pass”. We seem to think that God is yet to reveal that purpose, and that some special time will come when we will be made aware of it. Well, I’m sorry to disappoint a lot of us, but God’s purpose for us has already been revealed. We are only meant to conform to that purpose, and I’ll explain why by touching on one of the facets of that purpose – the body of Christ.

Let us start off by asking ourselves these questions. If the God we believe is really an omniscient God, how come he didn’t know that Adam could fall to the temptation of the devil? Or did he? If he did, then if Adam had passed the test, what would God have done? Would there have been the need for Jesus Christ at all? Did Christ only exist for the purpose of saving us from our sins, or God had a purpose for Christ far greater than we can all imagine. These for me are about the most important questions that we as Christians must answer to be able to truly understand the purpose of man on this earth, and by extension the purpose of our faith.

God’s Mysteries Revealed

This is why the epistle of Ephesians is such an important one (and part of the reason why we should spend more of our time reading the NT than the OT). Like I mentioned in a previous post, its the only letter Paul wrote to a church which didn’t attempt to deal with any particular problem that the recipient church was facing. It is full of such theological weight that many of us read it without fully assimilating it’s implications for our faith. I encourage you to take the time to read that book again, alongside Colossians and Hebrews. It is the epistle that explores God’s purpose for our redemption, a purpose which existed before the foundation of the earth.

Paul always spoke of certain mysteries. Of these, he often said though it had been given directly to him by revelation, other apostles and prophets of his time had also received these same mysteries. These then became the vision that drove Paul’s ministry. However, he states clearly that these mysteries were totally hidden from the prophets of old, who wished they could look into them as well. These mysteries were hidden nowhere else but in God himself, and obviously it will only take God to reaveal them.

And he made known unto us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment, to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ” (Eph 1:9-10)

Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus (Eph 3:2-5)

Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me; to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord (Eph 3:8-11)

Paul here mentions 3 mysteries hidden to the prophets of old.

  1. When the times have been fulfilled, everything will be brought under one head, Jesus Christ our Lord.

  2. The promises of Abraham are available to both Gentiles and Jews through a living body called the church, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

  3. The world, spiritual and physical is intended to see the many-sided wisdom of God through the same living body called the church. This ETERNAL PURPOSE was again achieved in Christ Jesus our Lord.

You can see the amazing plan of God. Christ and his church are everything. When God sought to achieve his purpose on this earth, he made that purpose happen through Christ, and that to make that purpose clearly visible to the earthly and heavenly places, he chose the church to display that purpose. From the three above, it is obvious that because everything is IN CHRIST, THROUGH CHRIST and UNDER CHRIST, the church is nothing without Christ. However, what is even more shocking to me is that God’s wisdom can only be displayed in the church.

Let me use this example to display the implications of these mysteries. We know scientifically that decisions are taken by the brain, and communicated to the rest of the body for action to take place. In the same way, God’s intention and design is that when Christ being the head thinks of something to do, his Church will act it out. This is what we mean when we say that Christ is the head of the church. We don’t only mean that he is the say “General Overseer” of the church, but that he is the source of direction for the rest of the body to act.

And this is exactly what the Ephesian epistle seeks to communicate to us – our relationship to Christ as his body (Colossians talks about the supremacy and headship of Christ over his body amongst other things). That we are in a very privileged and powerful position, being the body of Christ. Our role is to seek out what the head wills, and do it. However, no part of the body acts alone, but always in coordination with certain other parts. To grasp something, the arm must move toward the object, and the nerves and muscles exerted for the fingers to clasp the object. The biceps and triceps are then flexed to lift the object up, and the purpose is achieved. I hope the doctors will excuse my ignorance of human anatomy, but I believe this is basically what the human body does, and the church is no exception.

The Manifold Wisdom of God

But what exactly is the manifold wisdom of God? Hmm, that will take me a whole book to delve into, but I’ll summarise it in three ways, though they are actually more than three.

  1. God intends the Church to be the bride of Christ, spotless and holy as Christ himself. (Eph 5:27; Rev 19:7-9). Just as Abraham sent his servant to bring a wife to Isaac, so has God sent his Holy Spirit to bring the Church to Christ.

  2. God intended and has created a new family, in which he is the Father, Christ the eldest son, and the church his younger brothers. (Ro 8:29;Heb 2:10,19;5:8). We have a direct relationship with him, again possible only through Christ. That is why both Gentiles and Jews have to come under the church. Check out what Paul said “Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God” (1 Cor 10:32). In fact, the world even awaits our revelation as the sons of God, and until then will continue to groan in the pain that it does. (Ro 8:19-23).

  3. God has always intended to dwell within and among men. It’s the reason why we individually and corporately are his temple (1 Co 6:19;3:16). This conforms to the new Jerusalem, where the writer of Revelation writes “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them’” (Rev 21:3). When you continue reading, there it is stated clearly that there no temple in that city: “I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple” (Rev 21:22). Can you guess why? Because the church which is part of Christ will be with Christ then. Christ will be joined with the church, which will in turn be joined with God. No temples needed. Hallelujah!

Purposed Before Creation

Liberating and empowering as this purpose is for us – a purpose which became Paul’s burning passion – it was a purpose that existed before man was created. The apostle calls it an eternal purpose, and that is why he says it was hidden. That is even more amazing to me. That means that even if Adam had not sinned, the church will still have come into being somehow, existing in, under and by Christ solely for the purpose of displaying God’s wisdom. Oh, and Paul cannot be accused of introducing teaching that Jesus did not teach. Christ himself said that his kingdom was prepared “since the creation of the world”. Let me show you some places where this “before/since creation” concept exists.

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world‘” (Mt 25:34)

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be adopted as his sons …” (Eph 1:4)

This purpose was given us in Christ before the beginning of time …” (1 Ti 1:9)

If Adam Hadn’t Sinned

So now, we come back to answer the million dollar question. What if Adam & Eve hadn’t sinned? How does Christ and the church fit into the picture? Do you remember that apart from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, there was also the tree of life in the garden? Well, what did Jesus Christ say about that same tree of life in Revelations 2?

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God” (Rev 2:7)

Well, a tree of life can only give eternal life. And therefore when man had fallen to sin, God had to prevent access to that tree, so they don’t stick to their sinful nature for eternity. Therefore they would have been given eternal life from that tree. Now note who is making the promise here. Jesus Christ himself. He is the one who will give it to them – again salvation in, through and by Christ. They would then have become the founding members of the church.

Implications of God’s Purpose

We can see that God had already determined his purpose for our creation and inclusion into the body of Christ. His overriding concern is for Christ and his body, the church. And therefore, it is obvious then that God’s purpose is intensely a corporate one. God is not going to reveal a separate purpose for you, apart from a purpose that fits within his eternal plan, a purpose centered around the church. The church is the reason why Christ came. If this is so, then the following observations can be made.

  1. Salvation is not about us the individuals who are saved by Christ. I know that our gospel and everything else that we teach today is so individualistic, but trust me, you were not saved for your own salvation’s sake. You are saved to take an active part in building up that body alongside others to make manifest God’s wisdom.

  2. Because of the unfortunately individualistic twist which church scholars trace from the D.L. Moody line of preaching, most Christians see the church not as the end itself, but just a point for gathering Christians who have been saved. We see our main mission as saving the whole world, which has shown evidence historically of producing very weak Christians. We don’t realize that it is within the church that transformation really happens, and every avenue must be explored to make that transformation be visible to the world. That is how the world will see the wisdom of God. Christianity has always been about “calling out from among the Gentiles a people for himself” (Act 15:14). Its the same thing God told the Israelites when he saved them from Egypt – “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles wings and brought you to myselfout of all nations, you will be my treasured possession” (Ex 19:4-5).

  3. It is because of the truth that God wants to dwell within his people that it’s painful to observe the mindset of Christians regarding the church building, as if God still dwells in buildings (this is exactly what Stephen tried to tell the Jews which incited their anger to kill him – “However, the Most High does not live in houses made by men.” (Acts 7:48) ). The 1st century Christians understood this so well through Paul’s ministry, that it has been established historically and archaeologically that they never built for themselves church buildings, but simply used their homes or any available meeting spaces (a natural consequence of this was that they met in small groups, allowing them to also pay more attention to individual maturity). It’s only when a Roman emperor (Constantine) decided to nationalize Christianity that he commandeered existing temples for the Christians and built new ones as well, that set us on this path of decline.

  4. Because everyone is to be actively involved in building up Christ’s body, simply because that is the eternal purpose of God, it’s again painful to observe the separation between clergy and laity. We have created an artificial split between those who may serve God, and those who may just watch the show. It is a natural consequence that once you put some people in charge and not just give them guidance roles, but tell them that they are supposed to do all the important work in the church, then everyone else will relax. If there is one thing we all agree with, growth comes from directly experiencing an activity. No matter how many lessons you give a student, if they do not have the opportunity to practice it (and I mean practice it in the most important organism to any Christian – the church), they will never be a well-rounded student. The same is true of the church. If we only sit on the pews everyday and only a handful of us do any spiritually related activity, we are not displaying the wisdom of God – that he lives in everyone and is capable of using everyone.

I’ll leave you to ponder the rest of the implications of adopting such a mindset towards God and his purpose for you. However, I hear people say very often that where there is no vision, my people perish. The problem with contemporary Christianity is not that we don’t have a vision. Au contraire, there is an abundance of vision. The only question is whether this vision is defined by ourselves, or its the eternal purpose that God had designed before the foundation of the world.

Understanding that the church is God’s central eternal purpose on this earth made me see why Christ said this:

I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them”(Mat 18:19-20)

When a group of people gather under Christ’s headship (i.e. where he is the brain and they are the body) and are focused on his already predetermined purpose, they are walking in the mind of God. Therefore, whatever they as a group (not individuals) wish for concerning that purpose WILL BE DONE, because it already is in line with God’s vision. No wonder Paul said that “WE have the mind of God” (1 Cor 2:16), not “I have the mind of God”.

Our vision must not be individual, but corporate. It must not be from us, but from God. And finally, we must understand that God’s vision was predetermined before the foundation of the earth, and we can only conform to it, not dictate new terms to him. Or else we will heal the sick, raise the dead and do more than Mother Theresa did, but God will tell us he doesn’t know us because we pursued our own purpose.

** For an indepth discussion of the eternal purpose of God, refer to “From Eternity to Here” by Frank Viola, “So Beautiful” by Leonard Sweet, or “The Stewardship of the Mystery” by Theodore Austin-Sparks, which is available chapter by chapter at http://www.austin-sparks.net.

The Heavenly Jerusalem

I found a very interesting revelation the other day when looking at and thinking of God and His church. To all those that yearn for the revival of a victorious church, rest not!

 

Heb 12:22 “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.”

 

The writer of Hebrews compares and contrasts the occasions of the giving of the Law and of Grace in Heb 12:18-24 and the superiority of the latter over the former. He gives further warning not “refuse him who speaks”. However my emphasis for this post is on his comparison of the church to “Mount Zion” and to “the heavenly Jerusalem”.

 

I could not help but find it insightful and encouraging when I also came across these in Is 62.

 

Is 62:1 “For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch.”

 

Hmm. This is God himself assuring us that for the righteousness and salvation of His Jerusalem, he will not be quiet. Granted that here he was probably referring to Israel itself. However it also tells me that God is jealous with the same jealousy for the righteousness of His church, his “Zion” and “heavenly Jerusalem” as for the physical Israel. He will have his church’s righteousness shine forth for the whole world to see. So then it leads us to v 6-7

 

Is 62:6-7 “I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes here the praise of the earth.”

 

There is not much that I can say that has not already been said by this verse. God himself has given us the assurance that He will not rest till the righteousness of His Jerusalem shines forth. It is as if he is the Chief watchman and we serve under him. Is it not a privilege to be a watchman with him? So then if he is not resting, what right do we have to rest when that righteousness has not been restored?

 

So to those of us who yearn to “see Him glorious” I paraphrase Isaiah – “You are a watchman. Your boss the chief watchman himself is watching out for Jerusalem. So don’t rest until righteousness and salvation, repentance and revival arrives unto Jerusalem and she becomes the praise of the earth.” It’s a great honour to be serving alongside the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in restoring church and making his kingdom come.

 

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. (Mt 6:9-10)

 

Quotes are from the NIV version of the bible. All mistakes are mine please, not the bible’s :-).

 

The Church: A Biblical Perspective

I have felt over these few years that we Christians did not fully understand what we are called to be and therefore how that should affect and guide what we do as a people. Over these 2 years however, the Holy Spirit’s revelations of truth only continue to flood us at home, and so I’d like us to look again at what Christ wants his church to be. That enables us to judge whether we are a part of the church Christ is building or whether we are building our own.

The Universal Church

“But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” (Heb 12:22-24)This passage is part of a warning by the writer of Hebrews to the Christians of the Jerusalem church, warning them not to be deceived into going back to the legalistic Judaism that they have been saved from. Note the use of the tense “you have come”. This is a depiction of the Church not in future tense but in the present, what God sees of his church as a whole. There are some things to note as well in this passage.

1. The church is called the “city of the living God”. It belongs to God and it originates from him. It was founded on Christ.“Simon answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God’ … And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it”. Therefore Christ has been given authority over it. He is the head of the church and there is no other head given by God “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church” (Eph 1:22).

2. The membership of the church is kept in heaven – “whose names are written in heaven”. That is the church’s headquarters. There can be no earthly headquarters for it.

3. It is also referred to as an “assembly” of both angels and those “whose names are written in heaven”. Ro 12:4-5 states that “For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another”. An assembly gathers or is called for a certain purpose and until that purpose is achieved, the assembly has failed. However an assembly is not made up of one person, but of many. Each member individually contributes in some unique way to the decisions that the assembly reaches, and whatever decision is taken is binding on its members.

A further look at 1 Pe 2:5 will further clarify the uniqueness of the church. “You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Christ.” Peter says we are being built into a house. Not houses, but a house. Each member has their part to play in that house, but the whole house is to be judged as worth living in not by the individual stones, but altogether as a unit.

He further goes on that “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light”(v 9-10). All these references are to a plurality of individuals who together are considered a unit and as special – a “priesthood”, a “nation”, a “people”. But even more exciting is the fact that Christians as a “people”, “priesthood”, “nation” are to declare to the world “the praises of him who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light”.

It is therefore of non-trivial consequence that Jesus Christ will pray to the Father that his people – the church he was going to be given authority over – should be a united, immovable, invincible and inseparable people. “My prayer is not for them alone, I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you … May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me“.

There is no doubt then that there is a purpose for God building his church up the way he wants it – “I will build My Church”. He wants it to stand out to the world a clear symbol of his victory over the devil. He wants the world to know clearly that a decision to ignore His church is an emphatic decision to ignore the grace of God and to bring judgement upon its own self.

Not only to the world is this open declaration necessary, but also to the spiritual realm “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Eph 3:10). The church of God is the bride of the Lamb, and that choice made for the Lamb must be publicly declared and submitted to by the spiritual realm (Rev 19:6-9).

These are the reasons why Paul says in Eph 2:10 that “We are the workmanship of God, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”. “We” does not refer to himself or the Ephesians only, but to the universal church. The church is the work of art or poem (the original Greek word is “poiema” which gives us the Latin “poema”, the root of the English word “poem”). To both the physical and spiritual realms the church of God is a poem that declares “the praises of him who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light”. This is what God wants his church to be, and this is the church he will come for because “Forever oh Lord, thy word is settled in heaven” (Ps 119:89 KJV).

The Local Church

Christ used the word church twice in the Gospels, the first of which we’ve already seen – “I will build My Church”. The second however refers to the local church in Mt 18:15-20. He speaks of how disputes among brethren should be resolved in the church and mentions he authority of the church as final. In this passage Christ is emphatic that the local church is the final determinant of moral character among it’s members. There is no appeal to any higher authority than that, except to Christ himself. He reiterates the power that the local church as a part of the universal has in bringing the will of God to pass “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or more are gathered in my name, there am I with them.” (v 18-20). The Greek word rendered “agree” is “sumphonos”, the root of the English word “symphony”. If the local church were to come to symphony on any issue, it will be done by heaven. I don’t think we realise the authority of the local church in God’s sphere of things. We’ll delve into how this influenced the actions of the apostles in the book of Acts next. However, Paul again points out the authority of the local church in determining moral character in 1 Co 5. I hope those whose mantra is “Why are you judging me? Christ says we should not judge” will have a look at that chapter.But what about doctrine? Who gives the compass on doctrinal issues in the church? Let us look at the example of Ac 15. The church in Antioch was confronted with some false doctrine emphasising circumcision and obedience of Moses’ laws (v 1), and this forced the church to send Paul and Barnabas along with some others to the Jerusalem church to seek clarification (v 2). There are some things to note in these passages.

1. Paul and Barnabas were sent by the church in Antioch. They were not called by the church in Jerusalem to account to them or anything of that sort. The Jerusalem church exerted no authority on the Antioch one, but churches being interdependent, the latter felt the need to consult it’s brother on this issue of doctrine which originated from the former (v1,24).

2. They were “welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders” and they reported what God had done through them to the whole body (v 4).

3. There was a private session of discussions among the elders and apostles on this question that the brethren from Antioch brought (v 6-11). Peter’s contribution to that discussion is recorded. However, the matter was brought before the whole assembly again for further discussion (v 12-21) and ratification. Again James’ contribution to the discussion is also recorded.

4. “Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church …” (v 22). The final decision rested with the whole assembly, not with a small elitist top-heavy bunch. The NKJV puts v 25 even better “It seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord ...”. It’s interesting that from a point of division in v 5, the whole body has come “with one accord” to a certain agreement to send men with Paul and Barnabas to confirm, along with the letter being sent, what the whole body in Jerusalem had decided. This could not have happened except with the movement of the Holy Spirit amongst them (v 28) “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements …

5. It will be good to take note as well of the following observations from this passage.

a) The leadership was very accountable to the members. No decisions were taken for them. The whole body had to ratify those decisions. This is a mark of a people who are dependent on the Holy Spirit to bring about guidance and conformity, and not on the wisdom of men. Paul and Barnabas after having been sent out in Ac 13 did the work as directed by the Holy Spirit till in Ac 14:26-28 where they came back to those who sent them to report to them on what God had used them to do.

b) It is also very interesting to note the phrase “apostles and elders”. The New Testament church never accepted a single leader as the norm. There was always a multiplicity of leadership, never one elder/pastor/bishop/overseer/shepherd (which all refer to the same post of elder) or one apostle leading the church. As a part of the catholic (which means universal) church, the only authority they submitted to was that of the Holy Spirit as the representative of Christ among them. There was no “Pope”, “District Pastor”, “Archbishop of the Diocese”, “General Overseer”, “Moderator”, “President”, “Chairman” or a single “Pastor”. Only Christ through the Holy Spirit. The same pattern existed in Antioch (Ac 13:1-3) and elsewhere (Tit 1:5,1 Ti 5:17).

c) A system of interdependence between churches based in different locations, allowing men to come from one church in another city/town to bring them a word or revelation (whether it was from God or not was judged by themselves, or by consultation with related churches and in both cases under the guidance of the Spirit).

I’ll leave the comparison between this model of the church and what we have today open to the reader to do. Suffice it to say that what we have today is a clear departure. Let us look at some statistics to confirm the importance of Spirit-filled, house/neighbourhood-based churches belonging to one city wide ministry and unattached to any denomination.

In the bible there are 35 references to “a church” in a city but none to “churches” in a city, 36 references to “churches” in a province but none to “church” in a province, 4 references to “church” in a house, 20 to “church” universal and 16 to a local “church” undefined (Rediscovering God’s Church, Derek Prince). This clearly shows that the nucleus of one city-wide church comprised of smaller house-based churches. I was amazed when I looked up the root of the word “thousands” in Ac 21:20 ” You see brother, how man thousands of Jews have believed …” in E-Sword under Thayer’s and Strong’s dictionaries. It turns out that the Greek word is “murias”, root of the word “myriad” which means not “thousands”, but “tens of thousands”. I guess most of us are used to thinking that the church in Jerusalem was just a small church. Historians will tell you that it had about fifty thousand members. This is not too surprising. History put this visit by Paul around AD 58, which is considered twenty seven years before since that mighty outpouring of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Note that around those times, five thousand men was the initial number saved (Ac 4:4). And yet it was called “the church in Jesuralem”. Apparently the church of Antioch also had about fifteen thousand. Interesting.

Therefore it was more the pattern for one city to have a church with many leaders, who are in turn leaders of smaller house/neighbourhood based churches. Such a church recognises itself as only a part of the universal church and directly related to its brother church in another city. It submits itself to the leadership of the Holy Spirit and insists on the indwelling of the Spirit within every member. In this way our unity as Christians will be clearly visible to the world which and we would clearly be the poem of God’s wonders.

I challenge you to begin to look at the church from Christ’s perspective. He is building His Church. Fortunately for us he always gives us a pattern to follow, that we may not get lost. Mt 4:19 says “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men”. He has told us what he wants to make us – fishers of men. The only requirement is that we follow – not men, their traditions, their theologies nor their wisdom – but “Me”. Just as I’ve said in a previous post, though I pray that the grace of God will bring this vision of the church to our existing churches, I don’t see that happening soon to churches that “have forsaken Me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (Jer 2:13). That is why after all the seven messages of warning that Christ wrote, he ends by saying “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches”.

WHY THE CHURCH TODAY IS NOT THE CHURCH CHRIST WANTS

 

Mt 16:18 “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it”.

 

Jn 17:20-24 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one; I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you loved me.

 

Often times I’ve shared my worry about the total powerlessness and disunity of the church today. It had so baffled my mind that for a while I was very confused. The question I’d been asking myself (and most genuine Christians do) was is this the church that Christ is coming for?

 

The mark of a man is determined not by his knowledge of the truth, but his reaction when confronted with the truth. My personal search for the truth has led me to believe firmly that the church today is in no way what Christ is coming for and I’ll let a little of that conviction known on this post.

 

A church is an assembly of people, and Christ has determined to build his own such assembly. The first point to understand is that it will be owned by Christ (“My church”). Secondly, if it is owned by him, then it will be built according to his own standards. Now what standard will that be?

 

Eph 5:25-27 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word and to present herself to him as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”

 

This is a high standard indeed. I bet we’ve all read this before. But how many of us have stopped to ask ourselves if the church today meets this standard. Most of us in our heart of hearts know that it doesn’t match up to it. But Ps 119:89 says “Your word, O Lord, is eternal; It stands firm in the heaven”. God’s will is already written down. It’s not what we want that will come to pass, but what he wants. So it is rather up to us to make sure that we are in that plan, because God is not about to change his stance to suit us.

 

The church today is not what Christ wants. Period. Why? Let us start from the most fundamental point – the gospel. If you’ve read my previous post on “What Is the Gospel Of The Kingdom?”, you’ll find that what we even preach today as the gospel is just a cloud of jumbled confusion. We do not know why we ourselves are called to become Christians, a knowledge which should shape every action that we take as a church.

 

Secondly, we have lost the emphasis on the importance of the Holy Spirit in our Christian walk and the necessity for individually asking for its infilling in the lives of every Christian. Most of our orthodox churches believe the Holy Spirit is received at conversion therefore there is no need for it thereafter. Lk 11:13 says “If you the, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

How many times have we seen the apostles converting people and subsequently laying their hands on them to be filled with the Spirit. (The Samaritans’ Example – Ac 8:1-25; Paul’s personal example -Ac 9:15-19; The Ephesians’ Example – Ac 19:1-7).

 

Even our so called “charismatic” and pentecostal churches have lost their “charisma”/ “pentecostalism” and have only turned to money making and self-aggrandizement in the name of “motivational speaking”. The power-filled life of the believer has now been delegated to only the “men of God”, and they use them as if they were their own property. But every Christian is supposed to be an exhibit of the power of the Kingdom. And these signs shall accompany those who believe; In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well” (Mk 16:17-18). Wasn’t Ananias just a disciple to have healed Paul and prayed for him to be baptized with the Holy Spirit?

 

But if I drive out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Mt 12:28) “But the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power” (Ac 4:20). “I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done – by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit” (Ro 15:18-19a). Hmm. Where did all that go? We don’t have to look far to know the cause of this spiritual bankruptcy in the church today. Rev 3:14-22 will tell you why. But let me just point out a little detail of it – “You say I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing (v 17). Ah there it is. Today’s church is being run on all sorts of emotions, confusion, traditions of men and worse things instead of looking to the ultimate source of direction – the Spirit of God which leads us into all truth. No wonder God says in Jer 2:13 “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water”. Much of the church today is “having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Ti 3:5).

 

Thirdly the church today is a very defeated one, unlike what Christ himself is building where “the gates of Hades will not overcome it”. Trust Christ, “Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand‘” (Mt 12:25). I think most of us don’t realize how this applies to the church today. But I believe the model of the church in the book of Acts and the Epistles is the model that a Holy Spirit directed church will follow to be part of the “radiant church”. Why do you think that Paul was so vehement about divisions in the church?

I appeal to you brothers, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another “I follow Christ”. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptised into the name of Paul” (1 Co 1:10-13)

 

Was it just for fanaticism sake? Jn 17 shows the prayer of Christ before he was arrested. His will was that the unity of the church will be a visible sign of him having been sent by the Father. Paul says “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms” (Eph 3:10). The church as a visibily united organic body is a display of the glory of God and his purpose for the redemption of men. It is a sign of the preparedness of those who have been given “an inheritance among those who are sanctified” (Ac 20:32) – those who are going to be co-heirs to the throne of Christ when his kingdom is established. It is interesting to note what Paul says here: “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name (Eph 3:14-15). Today’s Christian generally accept that in heaven there is no distinction in terms of denominational names/inclinations that a Christian belonged to. In the light of the above verse, are we doing the will of the Father in giving ourselves names and dividing ourselves on this earth? In almost all the introductory passages to every epistle, Paul refers to them as “the church of God in ‘blah blah blah town or city’”. Ask yourself why.

 

Fourth and most importantly, the church today is totally bereft of love. No, I don’t mean sensual or filial love. I mean “the love of God” – Agape. This is the love that Christ talks about when he commanded it on his disciples. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (Jn 13:34-35; Jn 15:12; I Jn 3:16). I don’t mean going to orphanages to give donations and calling the media to cover it. I mean being burdened by the needs of the individual members of the church most importantly and then extending that love to the neighbourhood or community. Today the church is only a meeting place to “worship” God, not to meet the utmost need of the people. People leave church drained of all their monies, meanwhile nobody has bothered to find out their employment status. James puts it aptly “Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?” (Jam 2:15-16). Our so called “men of God” are more bothered about riches and fame than about the financial, social, marital etc problems that individuals in the church face. There is no self-sacrifice for the benefit of a brother, unlike the extreme outpouring of love exhibited in Ac 2:44-45. Some of our modern day Christian leaders cannot even love their own wives, and others pride in openly displaying their “God given” wealth on TV. Meanwhile they live or come from communities where poverty levels are unbearable.

 

The standard of love that Christ commands is very high, and again can only be achieved by the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. “And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Ro 5:5). This “the love of God” is a love that is defined fully in v 6-8 “You see, at just the right time, while we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”. We can see that the church today is only marking time because it is definitely not meeting this standard.

 

 

But the church as it is today is not going to bring about this revolution that Christ yearns for. They are too busy consolidating their monolithic, money-making, political-aligning, praise-singing, fame-seeking, denominated, disobedient model – a model which values the mega church buildings they build and not the real temples of God – the individual members (I Co 6:19) and the congregation of members together (I Co 3:16); a model which values quantity and not quality (Mt 7:13-14; Lk 13:22-24; Ac 15:14; Ro 1:5). No, rather it will be a church based on the model of the apostles of old – small, household and neighbourhood based churches which refuse to be denominated and which sees itself as just another part of the bigger family of the Father. It shares an “open source” ministry with all other related churches around it, allowing the Holy Spirit to use anybody in one church to minister to both physical and spiritual needs of another. Such a church will recognize the Holy Spirit as it’s power source which must fill every individual in their congregation and the bible as the ultimate standard of life and scriptural direction and not the traditions of men. Such a people will understand the glory to which they are called, and the sacrifices in obedience that this glory requires.

 

Paul told Timothy in 1 Ti 4:1-7 that some will abandon the faith in the last days. Note from v 7 that he wasn’t only talking about the future but he was addressing what had already began happening in his day and warning them not to be a part of it. The seven messages to the churches in Rev 2&3 had started pointing out the mistakes of the church even before the death of some of the apostles. There is no doubt that the message to Laodicea relates completely to the church today. The fall of the church happened a long time ago, right from the day the Roman Catholic Church (or is it “Cult”) decided to hold itself as the only true church that must rule every other one. Unfortunately, the Protestant movement did not take the cleavage much farther than it should have – returning completely to the model of the New Testament church – and still exhibits appendages of the Roman Catholic hegemony.

 

However, there is hope. In whatever situation that God finds his people in, he still preserves a remnant.

 

Mal 3:14-18 “You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the Lord Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenged God escape.’ Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honoured his name. ‘They will be mine’, says the Lord Almighty, ‘in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassions a man spares his son who serves him. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.”

 

 

The revolution of the church that Christ is building is upon us. Are you ready to stand up and be counted, or will you go with those on “the broad way”?

 

Jam 4:17 “Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins”

 

 

Quotes are from the NIV version of the bible. All mistakes are mine please, not the bible’s :-).