There is always a true remnant left during times of apostasy and persecution. It is the surviving vestige of the body of Christ that remains true to biblical principles in spite of cultural opposition. Elijah the prophet found out that God always preserved a remnant, by His grace, that held true to the faith. 1 Kings 19:18 “Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all whose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.” and Romans 11:5 “Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace.”
Characteristics of the “remnant church”:
1. More entrenched in the word of God as the world opposes them.
The more resistance they face, the remnant church will become more resolute in their faith. Instead of compromising the message of the Word, they may change their method of presenting the gospel but will never consider watering down biblical ethics, values and the message of the cross of Jesus Christ.
2. Vilified in society.
The remnant church was merely unpopular but has now reached the point of being hated. It is very apparent that Christian values are constantly mocked, such as by shows like The View, The Late Show With Steven Colbert, Real Time With Bill Maher and the like.
3. Preach counter-cultural biblical messages.
Remnant pastors will continue to preach the gospel of Christ, which always has vast implications related to human sexuality, the sanctity of human life, the definition of marriage and family and such, albeit they apply the gospel to cultural issues in a wiser, more winsome way. The remnant church will remain faithful in preaching the gospel in spite of the backlash they will receive from church attendees and the public.
4. Produce committed Christians and make disciples.
Liberal, progressive, compromising churches are shrinking, while conservative evangelical churches are still growing in numbers but the big growth is happening in “house churches” that are committed to growing disciples. It takes great sacrifice to believe in Jesus in the midst of hostile environments (consider the Christians still living under persecution in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Northern Nigeria, Sudan and similar regions.) Compromising churches produce wimpy believers and the remnant church produces committed disciples.
5. Experience the presence and power of God.
The first century church was a hated minority, yet great power and the presence of God accompanied its ministry! (Acts 3-5.) The more difficult it is to confess the truth of the gospel, the more God shows off His glory! Where sin abounds, grace does more abound (Rom. 5:20).
6. Excluded from mainstream secular evangelical churches and denominations.
Presently, it is still not as easy for the average person to discern between remnant and compromising churches. As the heat gets turned up more and more, compromising pastors and churches will choose to accommodate culture and compromise Scripture, thus making a clearer distinction between the remnant and mainstream church.
7. The remnant church will impact the world for Jesus Christ.
God allows difficult circumstances to weed out the un-committed followers from the committed followers (Gideon’s army of 300 in Judges 7.)
As it was during the days of Elijah, the early church period, and the time of the confessing remnant church in Nazi Germany, only the remnant has what it takes to bring about change! Only the remnant church has the conviction, the sacrifice, the devotion, the endurance, the message and the power to change the world. The compromising church will enjoy their temporary popularity in the present time, but those who are wise and turn many people unto righteousness will shine as the stars forever and ever (Dan. 12:3).
8. The remnant church will endure, whilst the compromising church will experience the wrath of God.
In Malachi 3:16-18 God promises that He has written a book of remembrance for those who speak of Him and fear His Name. The reward for them (the remnant) is that He will spare them as a man spares his son. The implications of this are vast. Whilst the children of the compromising church will probably become agnostic, the children of the remnant will carry the torch of Christ to the next generation, which will increase in strength and do greater works (John 14:12). The remnant church goes from strength to strength and faith to faith (Rom. 1:17). Meanwhile, the compromising church goes from strength to weakness and from faith to apostasy and eventually into oblivion.
I pray God will help us remain faithful to the end and participate in the remnant church!
adapted from article by Joseph Mattera in Ministry To-day – Characteristics of the Modern-Day remnant Church.