Tuesday, 1 December 2009
Having Done All , Stand ! ( 2 )
Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word ;
That they all may be one; as thou ,Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. John 17:20-21.
In this 17th chapter of the gospel of John, the Lord Jesus Christ blessed and prayed for his disciples and gave them his recognition as the fore-runners of his Church , which was birthed on the day of Pentecost by the Holy Spirit.
The Husband of the Church made a clear statement as to who will be members of His Church ; and what and how the Church will be like.
The Lord's desire was and is that :
His Church will be one. This meant that Christ knew that there will be diverse expressions and ministrations of the message of the same Gospel by different sections of His Church.
Christ prayed that even as the Trinity is made of three distinct personalities who are one ; so also, the Church with all its diversity would be one Church , sanctified by the Word.
United in the same mission and in the unity of purpose that is found in Christ alone.
Now there is the Church and there is the church.
The Church is the True Vine and consists of the true Believers, who gather in various groups (churches) to worship God and to carry out the mandate in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Believers are the Branches of the Vine and are found in the different churches which make up the Church.
Each Believer is a cell and is a replica of the Church .
They can be likened to the millions of cells which make up the human body; in this case , cells in the Body of Christ.
Just as an individual cell cannot exist outside the body , so the Believer cannot survive outside the Body of Christ.
Therein is the Life-Source of the Christian.
In the Church is the Word which cleanses and sanctifies the Believer. John 15:3.
The Church , not the individual bears the mandate from Christ.
Like the arms or legs cannot exist or move outside the body ; so also a Believer , however gifted or talented , cannot operate without the Church.
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
As thou hast sent me into the world , even so have I also sent them into the world.
And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. John 17:17-19.
The Church is universal; made up of peoples from different nations on earth.
Though in different nations , tribes and tongues, the Church is united by one Lord, Jesus Christ, one faith and one baptism . Ephesians 4: 1-6
Wherever and whenever the church gathers, the Lord Jesus is there in their midst because the church gathers in his name and because His Church is inside the church.(Matthew 18:20)
Therefore , the church is a mixed multitude ; made up of Believers and others. Others , such as church-goers, spectators and all sorts of people who come into the church with their own unique and different reasons and agenda for coming to church.
The Church is united by Faith and sanctified by the Word of God.
It is made of people who bear the Seal of Membership, not of any church; but of the universal Church of the Body the Lamb of God that was slain and who is alive forever more.
While all churches are congregations of mixed multitudes , the Church cannot be of a mixed multitude.
The Church must remain "without spot or wrinkle"; glorious and presentable to the Lord. Ephesians 5: 26-27.
Rarely would one find any church wherein EVERYONE is a Believer or any church where you find the "others" only.
Just as there are little foxes which spoil and disturb the Vine so there are "strangers" in any church; mingling with the True Believers.
"The Lord knoweth them that are his...
But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver , but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour and some to dishonour. 2 Timothy 2:19 and 20.
The crux of this matter of church and Church , is that many people in and outside the Church do not not know the significance of the Church.
Church attendance and church membership are not enough proof that a person is a born again Christian.
Bearing Christian names like Mary , Martha, James or John and wearing a crucifix do not transform one into a Christian.
A person could be an active member or leader of a church ; preaching , singing , giving their time and money, generously; speaking Christianese, speaking in tongues , praying long and loud prayers , disturbing the neighbours with loud prayers and praise-singing and doing all other "churchy" stuff; but yet he or she has ceased to abide in Christ, long ago!
Outwards signs of piety from lives devoid of love for God and for man, according to Christ's words, are signs from empty vessels ; lives already severed from His Body. John 15:4-10.
Such people, though they are members of a church, have ceased to be members of the Church .
Like many Christians have, when doing the work of an evangelist; I have met people who say:
" Yes, I believe what you have said , I love Jesus Christ, I believe in Him and I accept Him as my Lord and Saviour. But I am sorry, I don't go to church because I was there for some time and I left. I know I don't like what happens in church.
I will not attend any church because of people's attitudes and I don't want to have anything to do with "church people" ,ever again!
I would rather watch Christian channels or listen to preachers on the Internet and then send my tithes and offerings to whichever man of God whose ministrations I like.
Over the years,I have heard of and read series of complaints and accusations ,levied against the leadership and the laity (congregation) of some churches.
These condemnation about what goes on in churches today, come from not only people outside the church, but also , from Christians within the Church.
Some of these accusations are true while some are malicious rumours meant to discredit the Church , some church leaders and their ministries.
Events in the Church and in the lives of Christians are not for discussion here.
For me, personally, such topics are " My Family Discussion"; not for public airing.
And so, on this blog , my stand is :" Tell it not in Gath , publish it not in the streets of Askelon .... ;lest the daughters of the uncircumcised triumph !" 2 Samuel 1:20.
The will of God for our lives is that we abide in the Vine; so that we be made clean by the word which he has spoken to us. John 15: 1-5.
His will shall surely come to pass in His Church.
We shall bear more fruit and our fruit shall remain.
However , one could choose to go outside God's will and cease to bear fruit; by quiting the Church.
If you are grieved by what someone has done or said in any church to the extent of quitting the Faith , then you have not believed and accepted that the Church IS NOT about any man or group of men .
The Church is the place of expression of the fullness of the Holy Spirit through the Believer . It is the place of strength and power for the Christian .
The Church is all about who Jesus Christ is and what He has done , is doing today and about what He will do.
Are you fed up and thinking " I can't do this , can't bear this anymore " and you are about to give up and quit?
May be you have not really quit ; but you are still attending church regularly , for appearances sake.
But you have decided to keep to yourself because you are disgusted with everyone and everything in church?
That means you have thrown away or you are about to throw away the baby with the dirty bath water!
The Bible cautions Believers about this weapon of Satan against the Church .
When certain unpleasant attitudes are prevalent in any group or church, we should be aware of the devices of the enemy against that group!
" Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them that cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which you have learnt and avoid them.
For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ,but their own belly;
and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple". Romans 16:17,18.
We could avoid persons who peddle non-Christian attitudes in a church by either IGNORING such attitudes or by leaving that church for another church .
It is better to do this than to quit the Faith and the Church because of anyone or for any reason.
Maybe , you are reading this and you don't care two hoots about who comes in or leaves the church. After all , you reason, there will always be others, hundreds of them, coming in to replace those who leave.
You say, "If "rebels , sinners and rolling stones" depart , let them depart!"
More grease to your elbow. Be prepared . Soon, you will give an account to the God who died for those "rebels and sinners" and called them into His Church.
You will receive your full reward from God , for polluting the church with your disgusting attitude .
You , the Believer, are God's child; precious in his sight.
Decide to remain on God's side because you are not an enemy of God!
You CAN DO this and you will not quit because Faithful is he that has called you.
The Church including you ,has been equipped and given power and gifts to carry out the purpose of Christ for all mankind. The Church is marching on and cannot be stopped in her march towards achieving the goals and the mandate she has received from her Lord and Master.
At the end of the march, there is a crown , a warm embrace and a commendation waiting for us from Christ at the finishing line.
Let no man or devil derail us from finishing the race and claiming our crown. Amen.
"I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course , I have kept the faith;
Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge , shall give me at that day: and not to me only , but unto all them also that love his appearing".
2 Timothy 4:7,8.