Mt. 13:24-30 π Mt. 13:36- 43 π Mt. 15:6 π Mt. 24:3-4 π Mt. 24:10 π Rom. 8:9 π Rom. 16:17 π 1 Cor. 3:1-4 π 2 Cor. 6:17-18 π Gal. 5:19-21 π 2 Ths. 2:12 π 2 Tim. 2:19 π 2 Tim. 4:3-4 π Heb. 8:10-11
It can be said that the body of Christ is experiencing a second reformation - but it is more properly stated that the body of Christ is being required to grow up, to mature into the spotless and blameless bride ready for the return of her Bridegroom. Unfortunately, that visible organized religion we most often call "the church" is largely unaware of this. Jesus promised that we were headed toward a time of intense hatred and betrayal ( Mt. 24:10; top ), a description which is also descriptive of the first Reformation - it is only that the second and final "reformation" will be much more intensified in comparison. Such a time as Jesus prophesied will most likely be the result of the pseudo-Christian "churches," with their professional clergy in their places of organized power and backed by all the power, fury and hatred of the antichrist, repressing and suppressing the true messengers of Christ Jesus. This has been the pattern all along - from the Old Testament prophets to Christ and His apostles to the first Reformation - so it should come as no surprise that it continues now.
In addition to this fact of history, we also have Jesus' personal warning. When His disciples asked Him, "What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?", Jesus's first answer was: "Take heed that no one deceives you." ( Mt. 24:3-4; top ) The vast majority of the deception will not come from lone mavericks making loud noises in desolate places - the best place to be deceived will be in the very middle of organized, institutional churchianity.
So what is the true message of Christ for this day and hour? What are His commands to His body in this time? First, love God with an uncompromising love. That means total surrender of all goods, resources, lifestyle, emotions, everything. Those who attempt to maintain areas of themselves or their lives that are reserved from God are nothing but idolaters who will sooner or later discover that they cannot serve two masters. The wise ones will learn this now while they can still change their ways.
Second, love your neighbor (that is, your spouse, children, friends, co-workers and nearby neighbors) with the same intensity and energy that Christ exerted on you. In our time of individualism and isolationism this is very difficult to do. In the "church" setting, we can so easily jump into our car and drive over to meet with those of our own likeness, image and mindset (our own denomination) and we need not be too concerned with knowing, loving and serving our closer but less compatible neighbors who subscribe to a different flavor of Christianity. But if that neighbor has truly been born again - that is, received by God as His son - and we refuse to fellowship with him and to serve his needs because of his differences, we are practicing the sectarian heresies that Paul commanded us not to ( Rom. 16:17 ; 1 Cor. 3:1-4 ; Gal. 5:19-21; top ), not to mention demonstrating our own supreme arrogance in refusing to receive those whom God has received.
Third, the body of Christ is not to be run by one man who tells everyone what he thinks they need to know from behind a lectern (what the "church" calls the pulpit). The body already has a Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. In the real body of Christ, there are to be multiple leaders who personally demonstrate Christlikeness and who are continuously interacting with those they are leading into a more Christ-like lifestyle. There is little place for impersonal "teaching" in the body of Christ - only personally-shared exemplary living - and yet impersonal teaching is the mainstay of many mainstream "churches." (see 2 Tim. 4:3-4; top ) The genuine spiritual leaders' prime directive is to get their followers to think for themselves and to hear the Holy Spirit for themselves. The ways of God are written in the hearts of every genuine believer. ( Heb. 8:10-11; top ) The "trick" is not to pump the truth into them - the challenge to every genuine Christian leader is to get the truth, the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, to come out in their disciples' lives, words and actions. Any practice that promotes reliance on the "local guru," the "Senior Pastor" or local "man of God for the hour," to hear what God is saying or to learn what He means by what He said is a false and divisive practice, a construct of the spirit of antichrist.
Fourth, Christ is building His body according to the pattern that is laid out in the New Testament. Those who resist this work of Christ are nothing less than rebels against God who are, wittingly or unwittingly, agents for the enemy, Satan. This pattern is elegantly simple and bears absolutely no resemblance to today's basilica-styled sects and divisions that call themselves churches. The New Testament pattern is based on the leadership of elders and deacons (spiritually mature and morally qualified men) and the cooperative interactings of the giftings of the Holy Spirit (apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers and shepherds). Authority (that is the right to speak persuasively and authoritatively about God's truth) is given by God to those who have experience in serving God and in maintaining nearness to God and is not given by man. Thus the kingdom of God is a bottom-up organism while the "church," having unwisely taken up the paradigm of the business world, still functions as isolated, mutually incompatible, top-down organizations adhering to traditions of men. Where Christ is building a network of living stones, the "church" is actually interfering with and opposing that work by building up pockets of divisive sects that give more credence and loyalty to the "local guru" or the denominational doctrines than to Christ Jesus.
Fifth, real Christianity is obediently lived out in the home and at work or it is not real Christianity. If the believer does not present the Person of Christ Jesus on a regular, ongoing basis to those he is constantly with the most - that is, his wife, children, co-workers, friends and neighbors - then his Christianity is compromised. Whereas "church" meetings are held in artificial and impersonal "church" buildings (which have no Scriptural basis and which promote division and arm's-length relationships at best), the body of Christ, when it does meet, will do so in local homes or in "chance" meetings of two or three believers so that real issues are dealt with in the context of a real environment and where the issues are addressed with genuine love that selflessly serves those in need. True meetings of the body of Christ, whereby each one is edified and refueled for service and obedience to Christ, must be a time of "one-anothering" by all for the edification of all - not a time of being spoken down to by one man. The direction of each assembly must be given by the Spirit of God and approved by every spiritual member of the assembly - and that assembly is defined by the location, not by like-minded denominationalism. There is no room in the body of Christ for autocracy, aristocracy or even majority rule - the kingdom of God, a monarchy of the highest order, is not constructed by the whim or consent of the governed. Any corporate undertaking of a local expression of the body of Christ must be a matter of unanimous agreement of all involved (albeit with perhaps differing levels of enthusiasm and support) - all must be in one accord. Anything less prevents us from experiencing the fullness of the power of God.
Sixth, while the visible "church" engages in its missions endeavors, I believe it is still the responsibility of the real ekklesia to also continue to send its mature believers, especially those gifted as apostles, prophets and evangelists, to foreign missions fields. And though it is true that most of the work that needs done will be in contradiction to most of what calls itself Christianity, it still must be done. The work that needs done is to truly disciple those who have been born again and give them a glimpse into what Christ really has for them, the fullness of the body of Christ. In many "churches," both in foreign countries and in the U.S., the average believer will be kept as a perpetual spiritual infant while the "pastor" and his professional staff alone operate their gifts (assuming the leaders are genuinely seeking God and not just practicing Nicolaitan tyranny which smothers out nearly all spiritual life). The true discipling process takes much time and much personal involvement and will not occur in the traditional "church" environment. The results of this discipling process will not be dramatic in large numbers of immediate but questionable "conversions" but will be extremely fruitful in terms of impacting a handful for all of eternity - the same strategy as was used by our Lord Jesus Christ.
The "church" will not and indeed cannot be reformed. The "church" represents all the lies the spirit of antichrist has developed over the centuries to harass and hamper the body of Christ. The "church" is the traditions of men that war against the word of God ( Mt. 15:6; top ) and which give the tares a place to hide in close proximity to the genuine wheat. ( Mt. 13:24-30 ; 36- 43; top ) Those who would be genuine sons of God must have the Spirit of God living within them ( Rom. 8:9; top ) and must forsake all unrighteousness. ( 2 Cor. 6:17-18 ; also see 2 Ths. 2:12 ; 2 Tim. 2:19; top ) The "church" is indeed the very gates of hell which, though standing in great proximity to the ekklesia of Christ, cannot prevent the ekklesia from receiving the eternal life which frees men and women from the bondages and eternal fate of hell.
May God grant us eyes that see, ears that hear, hearts that yearn earnestly for God and the will to live our lives in complete obedience to Him in all things.
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