Archive for May, 2000

Save those in the System (Reply to Comments on Religion)

In “Comments on Religion”, Danie Rossouw makes several good points on the
state of the church, however, I question the statement “In the same way
Jesus is not restoring or reforming the current religious system called
“christianity” He is doing something new.”

While Isaiah 43:19 says “I am doing a new thing”, Peter, under the spirit
of prophecy, said in Acts 3:21 “[Jesus] . must remain in heaven until the
time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through
his holy prophets.” Certainly the “current religious system” is flawed,
perhaps even fatally so, and the debate over whether God will restore it
or demolish it would be an endless discussion.

As for being ‘cut off from the head’ and therefore dead, there can be NO
doubt that our Lord is more than able to RESURRECT a dead body. Jesus, who
is the “resurrection and the life” (John 11:25) is “not willing that any
should perish” (2 Peter 3:9). Accordingly, Jesus will not give up on those
who are in the “current religious system”. Personally, I believe the Lord
will pour out His Holy Spirit to bring about conviction, confession and
repentance (John 16:7-11), which will precede restoration (Acts 3:21).

The subject of the “current religious system” is near and dear to my
heart, because that is where the Lord has called me to minister, in an
Ezekiel 2 capacity. To that end, I would like to share my experience, and
reaction to those who condemn the “current religious system”. Having read
and re-read “Comments on Religion”, it is clear Danie has a heart for
those still in the “current religious system”. My comments below are for
those who seem to have forgotten that there are souls caught up in the
“current religious system” who need to be saved.

I was born into a mainline denomination church, baptized, raised, taught,
born again, and ultimately baptized in the Holy Spirit, receiving the
gifts of tongues and prophecy – all in a mainline denomination church.
Regarding the Holy Spirit, and spiritual gifts, these were never taught
in the churches I attended. I witnessed them when I was invited to sing
at a charismatic church in my early 20′s. For nearly 25 years I prayed
for the baptism of the Holy Spirit and for the gift of tongues, and a
little over a year ago, I finally received what I had prayed for, and the
gift of prophecy (Thank you Lord).

When I witnessed about my experience, my church friends reacted with
skepticism, fear, and some even distanced them selves from me. Naturally I
was disappointed and my feelings were hurt, and my initial reaction was to
leave the church and find another where the Holy Spirit and spiritual
gifts were common, where I would be comfortable and accepted, and where I
could fellowship with people of like faith and gifting.

But God said “stay where you are”.

To stay where I am, I have had to crucify my feelings for the church God
has called me to. Surely it would be easy to step back and condemn the
church and the denomination for resisting the Holy Spirit, for refusing to
let the gifts of the Holy Spirit operate in the church, for potlucks,
social gatherings, programs, auctions and raffles, and the like. But the
church is made up of people who are loved by God, and for whom Christ
died. Believe me I’d rather attend a prophetic spirit-filled church, but
my comfort is NOT a factor. The fact is I am called to take up my cross,
follow Jesus, and to give up my life for Him (Matthew 16:24-25). And for
now the Lord has called me to give up my life for a church that is part of
the “current religious system”.

Has God given up on churches that are part of the “current religious
system”? Consider this: there is no evidence of the 9 spiritual gifts in
1st Corinthians 12:8-10 in the church I’m called to serve. It is
traditional with a capital “T” and dead with a capital “D”. Yet about 9
months ago, the Lord directed me and my wife, and 2 elderly women who are
also spirit-baptized and prophetic to this church to accomplish His
purpose. He has led me to this understanding: before God directed the 4 of
us to this church, the pastor could not be accused of resisting the Holy
Spirit, or forbidding the use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, because
they were NOT present in the church. The pastor is now confronted with 4
spirit-baptized Christians and yet he continues to resist the Holy Spirit
and has made no provision for using the gifts God has given us to serve
the body (1st Corinthians 14:39). Through us, God has tested the pastor,
and God now has cause to discipline him, and bring conviction upon the
church, leading to repentance and renewal of the church. Calling us here
is not something God would do if He had given up on this church, and as it
says in Amos 3:7, God has sent his prophets to this church to announce
what He is about to do.

It is true that the “current religious system” has failed to carry out the
great commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Yet for those of us who are “called
out” to walk in lock-step with Jesus, how can we carry out the “great
commission” if we ignore or totally write off those who are in the
“current religious system”? Everyone, including those in the “current
religious system” need to hear the WHOLE and UNDILUTED gospel of Jesus
Christ.

Just as there are some who are “called out” (like Jonah was called to
Nineveh) to preach repentance to the gentiles, there are those of us who
are “called in” (like Ezekiel was called to Israel) to preach repentance
to the church which is part of the “current religious system”.

Writing off the “current religious system” is really no different than the
uncaring reaction of Jonah when Nineveh repented and God relented from His
fierce anger toward Nineveh. God responded to Jonah’s anger and
disappointment saying “Nineveh has more than a hundred and twenty thousand
people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, and many cattle
as well. Should I not be concerned about that great city?” (Jonah 4:11).
How much more then would God be concerned about the hundreds of millions
who are in the “current religious system”?

If we spent as much time interceding for the people in the “current
religious system” and the system itself as we spend criticizing and
condemning it, surely the Lord would hear from Heaven and move to restore
the church.

It is my prayer that we will not repeat Jonah’s sin.

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Comments on Religion

Comments on religion
By Robert I Holmes

“Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he
brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the
church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called
Christians first at Antioch” (Acts 11:25,26).

The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. Now Antioch, as you
can imagine, was not the first church. Nor was it the last. Several
existed before it including those in Rome and Jerusalem – and several in
Asia Minor. According to the Scripture none of those believers were
referred to as Christians.

According to Christian History Magazine, “For more than 150 years after
the Resurrection, those who followed Christ had no official church
buildings. During this time, evangelism was conducted mainly in homes, in
the context of worship and Christian education…” (Issue 57). In fact it
was nearly eighty years before they even wore the tag ‘Christian’! Prior
to that they were loosely known as “Followers of the Way” and “The
Disciples of Jesus”.

Don Robinson points out that, “Although you and I use the word as a
synonym for a believer, the word “Christian,” is not NECESSARILY a
designation for every saved person. No one was CALLED a CHRISTIAN before
the church in Antioch was formed… In the strictest sense of the word,
John the Baptist was not a Christian and neither was Christ! The disciples
of the Lord before the crucifixion were not Christians either.”

The diversity of Christianity

That institution calling herself ‘the church’ today, that group calling
themselves ‘Christians’ have among their number a vast array of
embarrassing cousins. I am not sure if they are heretics, sects, cults or
just break away churches. I was recently visiting a research facility for
Christianity and religion in the world, and found following churches…
“The Ice Cream Church”: (4,000 members in 27 countries and growing by 10
people a day); “The Partying Church of Jesus”: (9,000 members in 14
countries) and who could forget “The Church of United Pentecostal
Homosexuals and Lesbians.” Dear God!

There were others with names like the “African Union First Colored
Methodist Protestant Church”; the sickening “All American White
Supremacist Church” and almost comical “Apostolic Overcoming Holy Ghost
Church of God”. Could Christ even imagine the day the “Euro-Asiatic
Federation of the Union of the Evangelical Christian Baptists” was
formed?

To your average, uneducated pilgrim such names as the “Belarusian
Autocephalous Orthodox Church” leave you wondering what they are – and
yes, underneath that skin they have an orthodox Christian faith! The
select group of disciples calling themselves the “Christian Community and
Brotherhood of Reformed Doukhobors” follow Christ also. But one can
barely find enough breath to pronounce the “Church of the Living God:
House of God, Which Is the Church of the Living God, the Pillar and Ground
of the Truth” church (and that’s not a made up name either)!

Churchianity

There has been coined a somewhat tongue in cheek name for religion that
presents itself in the name of Christ – and that is ‘churchianity’. Folks
these may seem humorous, and somewhat quirky groups but it’s the face of
‘Churchianity’ and it stinketh. As Ronald G Fanter has pointed out, “In
the beginning, the church might be described as simply a new sect of
Judaism. They were, after all Jews. They observed the Jewish feasts. The
apostles taught from the Old Testament how the scriptures spoke of Christ
and confirmed that he had been the long awaited messiah of Judaism. There
was no organized corporation owning large amounts of real estate, and no
such establishment of a priesthood or an organized ecclesiastical system -
in short, no ‘church’.”

Folks I am really pointing these things out because they caught my
attention and made me really sit back and think “Who am I? And what do I
believe? Is it really the present face of Christianity being presented to
the world. And if that face is Christ’s ambassador – are we presenting
Christ or a form of religion?”

I am driving at the difference here between being one who has a
relationship with the Living God through His Son Christ Jesus – one who is
a disciple and one who is merely an adherent to a moral code of conduct.
Between one whose aim is to become like the Christ he loves, and one how
merely calls himself ‘Christian’. One who is a member of Christ’s Body -
the church his bride and one who goes to ‘church’ the institution of
religion.

Think about it

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