Monday, June 25, 2012

A Return to the Early Church

A Return to the Early Church?

I Pet.1:22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:
25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

They were days of newness and days of learning. They were days of danger and days of boldness. They were days of revelation and days of community. They were days of sacrifice and days of plenty. They were days of power and days of humility. They were days of excitement and days of caution. They were days of prayer and days of witnessing. They were days of giving and days of receiving. They were days of persecution and days of glory.

These were the days of the early church. They quickly discovered that Christ was their life, and martyrdom was a good possibility. In fact, martyrdom was an incredible privilege. Their earthly lives were living sacrifices to the Risen Christ. But with the Industrial Revolution, and with the advent of an avalanche of material accoutrements, it has become increasingly difficult to deny one’s self and become a living sacrifice. Over the centuries, the Christian faith has left the eternal and become entrenched in the temporal.

That process is called death. Like chains attached to a prisoner’s arms, the church walks in utter bondage to the dictates of this world and the carnal desires of fallen hearts. Oh dear Lord, where has the axe head fallen and how can we recover the sacrificial commitment exhibited by our spiritual ancestors? Where have we lost the vision of His majesty? When did we turn away from His cross and turn toward a mess of pottage?

Where is the freedom only realized in Christ when we walk in His Spirit? Believers talk of earthly freedom without recognizing that earthly freedom is indeed a mirage and continues to be used by the enemy of our souls to bring us into a temporal tabernacle filled with earthly idols. And like Hezekiah, we have invited the enemies of Christ to come and see what we have. And the enemies have now carried away the unspeakable treasures of the Spirit and have beckoned us to come and dine with the heathen in their temple. And the church now has forfeited the treasures of the Spirit for the fallen idols of man.

Everything, and I mean everything, in politics and the democratic system is antithetical to all Jesus lived and taught, and all the principles of the kingdom of God. The lying, the distortion, the braggadocio, the slick advertisements, the visceral hatred, and the horrific amount of money that will be spent are all symptoms of a system that is rotten to its very core. And to insist that democracy is at least better than other systems is like saying arsenic is better than a nuclear bomb.

We must reenlist in God’s kingdom which has no King but Christ, fights with spiritual weapons like love, joy, and peace, and whose marching orders are unilateral and singular. Go and preach the gospel to every creature. You cannot preach the gospel of redemption to those with whom you are at war.

Why have we erased the line of demarcation between the kingdoms of this world and the kingdom of our God? There are two main reasons, nationalism and greed. But in an odd and inconsistent way, the moralists within God’s kingdom are attempting to use an immoral vehicle to achieve some kind of cultural morality. This is quite astonishing and its goal is unredemptive and it method is unbiblical.

We have never been called to change a culture or to leverage moral purity through a democratic process. In fact, democracy itself crowns the majority as god and allows them to demand that the minority adhere to what the majority desires. And without a born again experience, and without the Lordship of Christ, that process is called humanism. Humanism is loosely defined as orchestrating moral dictates through natural means. Many unbelievers are conservative and are only too happy to join with political believers in order to achieve an earthly result.

But is it right to do wrong in order to achieve a right? Is that God’s way? The American political process is so outrageously immoral in almost every way, that to use it as a vehicle for morality is counter productive and an obvious paradox. Like the shirt that says, “Violent people should be shot”, the entire spectacle reveals an incredible compromise, and a volitional ignorance of the moral conundrum inherent within the very system that says it seeks a higher moral plane. So we expect pure water to come from a dirty cup?

Without a sweeping revival the church will continue to sink into the morass of earthly issues and wars. And the majesty of the Lord Jesus will be hidden to a world in desperate need of His redemption. We have not been commissioned to change the world, we have been sent to change men’s hearts through the everlasting gospel. The end never justifies the means, and we have no right to add to or subtract from the commands of our Master.

Oh how I imagine being a part of an early church movement that returns to a life of self denial, prayer, and a deep journey into God’s living Word. Are you satisfied with living as do the heathen, and going to and fro from a building we call “church”? is that what Christ died for, and is that what the Spirit inhabits us? Our hearts and minds have become places of refuge for all sorts of earthly matters. Even the prophets that should be proclaiming the truth with fasting and prayer have succumbed to the dictates and systems of this present world. Many preachers now purchase their messages online, while others tell long and winded stories that have nothing eternal about them.

Behold, our Master returns! But what will He find when He does? His bride is a whore and those who claim His name are undistinguishable from those who do not. The love of many has waxed cold even though their lips suggest otherwise. There is no sense of urgency, and surely no sense of holiness in these modern churches. Self righteousness lives freely among us, and ordained men use vulgarity and speak eloquently about sexual matters. This is not the church that was founded upon the Rock. We have become successful in our journey to be relevant, but that journey has taken us far away from Christ.

But in all our impatience with the visible church, please remember that the King Himself still claims the victory in our stead. And when the final tally comes forth and the secrets of men are made known, all creation will bow and confess that Jesus is Lord. Regardless of how we served and how we sacrificed, and even if we had prayed incessantly and witnessed of Him around the world, it will become very clear that He deserves all the glory.

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world - Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.

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