What is the Church?
The church is the Body of Christ, (Eph. 1:23). We have no difficulty with this concept when we consider the Church worldwide but seem to have great difficulty with it when we consider the local church.
The church, (Greek - ekklesia), means 'called out ones.' We do not go to church for we are already the church.
The local church gathers. The church is not a building for we are the temple of God, individually, (1 Cor. 3:16 & 6:19), and corporately, (Eph. 2:22). We cannot join a church for we are already members, one of another, part of the church.
Because we belong to one another we should not separate ourselves from our brethren, even if they separate themselves from us, which belonging to a denomination effectively does. Jesus prayed that 'that we may be one', (John 17:21). He prayed that 'we might be one (verses 22 & 23). So it is necessary that we recognize each other as members of one even as He and the Father were one' and 'that we might be perfected in unity', (v's 22 & 23). So it is necessary that we recognise each other as members of one church, whether this is its universal aspect or its local, even when some hold beliefs, allegiances and 'submissions to men' which effectively separate them from us.
The Church and the Kingdom.
Some differentiate between 'the Church' and 'the Kingdom' but when we were made new creations we were transferred from the domain of darkness to the Kingdom of His (Gods) beloved Son, (Col. 1:13). As part of His Kingdom, Jesus should be our King. When Jesus is King, He should be reigning in our lives. To have Jesus as King is the equivalent to having Him as Lord.
The preaching of the Kingdom of God, which began before Jesus was crucified, continued in the Acts of the Apostles, (Acts 19:8, 20:25 & Acts 28:23 & 31). We have been deceived into preaching a gospel of salvation only, linked to our wrong understanding of church and our having created structures and organizations for Jesus but which have not been ordained by Him. Having pointed unbelievers to the Lord and made them disciples of Jesus we soon make them disciples of men. We have been guilty of making believers members of our churches, teaching them to submit to men and to accept the doctrines of our particular denomination.
Knowing something is not right, we search for 'that' which will bring life but do not recognize we have separated ourselves and each other from the vine. Occasionally we appear to 'get it right' but copying any new formula does not work and it seems even that which seemed alive soon begins to die once more. The Gospel of the Kingdom is not only the good news of salvation but includes the whole purpose of God. As Jesus commissioned us in Matthew 28:18-20, we should make disciples, (of Jesus). Disciples are those taught by Him. Jesus said, "this gospel of the Kingdom will be preached to all nations and then the end (of this age) will come," (Matt. 24:14). This gospel will bring persecution, for the spirits of antichrist cannot survive side by side with it. They can survive with the gospel of evangelism ONLY!. The gospel of evangelism ONLY brings ecumenism, for though it claims to uphold love it does not uphold Truth. When the Spirit of Truth is not effectively recognized, deception and error soon create compromise, which eventually leads to spiritual death.
The time of the end of the age is like no other time in the last 2,000 years. For 2,000 years Tares and Wheat have been allowed to grow together but there is a time of harvest, a time when the Tares are gathered and put into bundles, which will be burned, and when the Wheat is gathered into Jesus' barn, (Matt. 13:30). Jesus explains that at this special time the stumbling blocks and those who commit lawlessness are gathered OUT OF HIS KINGDOM, and then the RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the Kingdom of their Father, (Matt. 13:43). Daniel prophesies of this time saying, 'Those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever,' (Dan. 12:3).
This time of the Lords return is drawing near. I believe this time of separation of Charismatic Ecumenical Renewal, has upheld a belief that we can renew the old wineskins of our man made denominations by acknowledging the ministry of the Holy Spirit upon believers whilst not fully acknowledging the ministry of the Holy Spirit within believers.
Satan can counterfeit anointing upon but he cannot counterfeit the anointing within. He may deceive, by providing a substitute in our soul realm to the anointing within our spirits, however. Spiritual understanding and discernment is the only way to know what is of the Spirit of Truth and what is of the spirit of error. This Spiritual understanding and discernment is available from the Holy Spirit.
Just before, as Paul prayed for the early Church, as Christians we should pray similar prayers to those Paul prayed in Eph. 1:17, & 3:16, Phil. 1:9, Col. 1:9, 2 Thess. 1:11, Philemon 6, asking for a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, that the eyes of our hearts might be enlightened. We should ask to be filled with knowledge of the Fathers will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding for our Father wants to reveal His will to us. We need to pray that our love may abound more and more in real knowledge and all discernment so that we may approve the things that are excellent in order to be blameless until the day of Christ, (Eph. 1:17, Col. 1:9 & Phil. 1:9).
The spirits of antichrist have been able to move the Church from a life in the Spirit to the deadness of religion for 2,000 years, but the last 40 years have been unusual. All previous 'moves of the Spirit' have been outside the denominational structures, but each 'move' has eventually resulted in a new denomination if it did not get swallowed up again by the old denomination. The Charismatic Ecumenical Renewal however has been markedly different for it has sought to 'renew' the denominational structures, a 'renewal' many believe is of God and is still on course. This accelerating Ecumenical unity is fast producing a 'union' which will produce a 'One World Church' . This 'unity' at the expense of Truth, or a 'unity of the faith', is a counterfeit production of the prayer Jesus prayed that the Church be 'one'! As the 'renewal' draws to its climax a quiet revolution is taking place. The Lord is beginning to open the eyes of His people to the tactics which have always succeeded in Satan's hands. Jesus is saying, "Come out of her My people....for her sins have piled up as high as heaven," but this 'coming out' is of no use unless we 'come out' unto Him. It seems we have not dared contemplate that our 'separation unto Him' would require the renunciation of our allegiance to organizations and should require our repentance for having submitted to men, and religious organizations, which take the place of Jesus without our necessarily realizing it.
Jesus said, "When He, the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into ALL the Truth", (John 16:13). As the end time deception increases will we be found to be a part of His Church, truly demonstrating that Christ is our Leader, that the reality of His Kingdom may come into our hearts and lives?
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