CHURCH IN THE LAST DAYS

We in the West are waiting for a move of God, and yet in many parts of the world, a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit is already taking place that rivals the Book of Acts.

Thank goodness God is revealing to Pastors like Francis Chan and John Comer – see recent post “Do You Really Believe God is in Control”, that the church has deviated from His design for the church, as outlined in the Book of Acts.

Non Biblical Churches, which include many, if not most, of the Institutionalised churches, Mega churches and Prosperity Doctrine churches, to name the principal groups, are not producing disciples of Christ committed to the call of God on their lives. Sadly, what most churches are doing has little to do with what the Bible teaches e.g “Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” James 5:16, What about “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:2

The model of the institutional church isn’t structured to foster close biblical relationships. In most, you can go on almost indefinitely enjoying your uninvolved routine merely consuming but never contributing to the community you call church.

The church is not a building or a place to go, but a body (ekklesia) of believers.

One of the places, where a great outpouring of God’s spirit is evident, is Iran, the most unlikely place from a worldly, so called natural viewpoint, but typical from a Biblical perspective. View the following video and be challenged or encouraged or both.

CHURCH GROWS UNDER PERSECUTION

For the gospel did not did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit, … 1 Thessalonians 1:5

Missionary strategists have been reporting for some time that Iran is experiencing the most impressive surge of church growth on the planet. Elam Ministries in England says more Iranians have become Christians since 1979 than in the previous 1,300 years. Some organisations estimate that there could be as many as 800,000 to 1 million believers in the country.

The political, economic, and spiritual situation in Iran resulted in a deep spiritual hunger for truth. Iran may be a closed land, but the people have open hearts. Iranians today are seen as the most open Muslim people to the Gospel in the world. As Elam reported, more have become Christians since the revolution than the previous 1,300 years put together.

But Iran is also one of the most difficult places on earth to be a Christian because of persecution from the hard-line Islamic government. Believers are jailed and tortured. Churches are forced to meet in secrecy. Yet one ministry there has reported that so many people are being converted they can’t keep enough Farsi Bibles in stock to give to new believers.

Iran-church

Elam Ministries says Iranian churches typically have between eight to 12 members only. To stay safely off the radar, the small churches multiply quietly. But this method of small-group discipleship actually produces stronger Christians than a bigger church would. Elam also reports that many people make decisions for Jesus after watching Christian television broadcasts.

In May of this year, Iran’s intelligence minister, Mahmoud Mahmoud Alavi, gave a speech to Muslim clerics in which he publicly decried the alarming growth of Christian faith. He announced that mass religious conversion to Christianity is “happening right before our eyes.”

Iran’s revival is also gaining more attention because of the new film Lambs Among Wolves, Vol. 2, a documentary produced by Frontier Alliance International Studios. One unidentified church leader in the movie asks: “What if I told you the mosques are empty inside Iran? What if I told you no one follows Islam inside of Iran? Would you believe me? This is exactly what is happening inside of Iran.” If you have not seen Lambs Among Wolves Vol 1 & 2 then do so and spread the word amongst your Christian friends that these videos are great evangelism tools. Joel Richardson (Joels Trumpet and The Underground) works with Frontier Alliance and I am confident that I have promoted these videos on previous posts.

TODAY’S CHURCH NEEDS TO EXPERIENCE GOD’S PRESENCE

This article by John Burton in Charisma News will not be well received by pastors of most churches. It reveals the truth about the sad state of the church even in those churches that see themselves as alive and well. Churches that are great places to raise a family, to connect with other believers and to worship and even grow in God. Sadly, they are not reaching out to the lost. Nor, disciples making disciples.

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has given his support for transition within marriage (Picture: PA)

Fortunately, there are some, even in these churches, that realise there is something desperately wrong. The world around them is getting darker and the church is no longer seen relevant by the majority, in fact, the church is seen to be in opposition to all that he world sees as good; gay marriage, no longer male and female in a life long loving commitment before God., abortion on demand, sex whenever and with whomever, gender is fluid and a matter of choice, family is whatever you choose,

“And when Solomon finished praying, fire came down from the heavens and consumed the burnt offering and sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. And the priests were not able to enter into the house of the Lord, for the glory of the Lord filled the Lord’s house. And all the sons of Israel saw when the fire came down and the glory of the Lord came on the temple, and they bowed their faces low to the ground on the pavement, and they worshipped confessing, “The Lord is good, and His mercy endures forever” (2 Chronicles 7:1-3).

Prayer and sacrifice resulted in fire coming down from heaven and the glory of the Lord filling the place! When that dramatic, supernatural event impacted that building, nobody could enter. They all hit the pavement and worshipped and declared God’s goodness!

We need God to turn up and His power to be evident in church in this hour. A revelation-driven church will be filled with prophetic decrees, biblical declarations, groans of intercession and messages that shift atmospheres. The church as revealed in the Book of Acts.

WHEN WILL THE CHURCH BECOME AN ACTS 4 CHURCH?

When will the church in the west become an Acts 4 church? Only when the circumstances around us mirror the conditions of the early church. Fortunately, we are seeing many examples of it happening in the Middle East where the church has come under intense Islamic persecution. We are being given an example of what our Lord requires of us during the prophesied coming Tribulation.

Image result for pictures of destroyed churches in Egypt

In Egypt, where more than forty churches were destroyed in the months following former President Morsi’s (Muslim Brotherhood) removal from office via a military coup in July 2013, Christians who had not fled the country continued to calmly meet for worship and show forgiveness to Muslims who broke the steeples of their churches as they screamed, “Allah is great”! As one church’s caretaker  said, sitting in front of a devastated church building, “Whatever they didn’t take they destroyed”. Believers met while sitting in front of a wall with graffiti proclaiming “Egypt is Islamic!”

Bob Simon reported on 60 Minutes that Egyptian Copts believe suffering deepens their faith. “We were surprised that there was no anger, no call for revenge.” he added, after attending a worship service in the one room not burned to the ground in one church. Bob Simon explored this further with Bishop Thomas , a Copt leader, who replied, “Forgiveness is a very important principle of the Christian life. When you are able to present forgiveness and love, you are able as well to ask for justice. One day, justice has to be fulfilled.”

Middle Eastern Christians have learned what it mean to bless those who persecute them, but also insist on justice where possible.

In other words, Copts are willing to die for their faith, but they also will continue to insist on constitutional protection of their people, as any Christian should. When Jesus said “turn the other cheek”. He said it in a society that guaranteed no rights for His followers. If we live in a country that does protect those rights, we should insist on them for as long as the legal code covers us, which it probably will in the early days of the Tribulation.

Christians in Syria have learned how to do this. many have chosen to stay in their towns and cities, even if Islamist’s rebels have overrun them and looted, tortured, raped and killed them. As Open Doors USA spokesperson, Emily Fuentes has reported, based on eye witness accounts:

There are some Christians who are fleeing because they have no other choice, but there are many Christians that have really felt God’s call to stay in town, even though they have been attacked and targeted because of their faith. They realise that God is using them, and are reaching out to their Muslim neighbours.” 

Can you put yourself in that setting? Close your eyes and picture that for a moment. What would you feel? How would you act? At least, say a pray for your Middle Eastern brothers and sisters that are living this right now.

Churches have become de facto refugee care centres in the Middle East, not houses of worship alone.

In the parts of Syria where church buildings have not been desecrated, they have become de facto relief agencies, providing clothes, food, and Christian teaching. These churches are seeing people come to faith in Christ as the congregants love everyone who has been made homeless, not just for Christians. This is in stark contrast to the Islamic approach to provide aid for Muslims only. What an amazing witness, to care for everyone in the midst of intense suffering. The church has done this throughout history and no doubt will do it again during the coming Tribulation.

What will we do when faced with a similar situation, will we run or stay? Will we stay to win our attackers and fellow refugees to Christ? Will we show grace to other Christians who choose differently to us? Maybe, we will be in a church where people go separate ways as persecution intensifies.

Can I suggest church, we need to start to pray and prepare now, to know what God will have us to do to help our brothers and sisters under persecution around the world, not only in the Middle East, but also to know what we should be doing to prepare, in our own church, community, and nation.

 

WHAT DOES A GOD INSPIRED REVIVAL LOOK LIKE?

A few years ago, Pastor Shane Idleman prayed, “Lord, bring revival to the churches.” Read the response God gave him.

“I was not ready for the response that followed. I felt impressed with these words: “You don’t want revival—it will ruin your schedule, your dignity, your image and your reputation as a person who is ‘well balanced.’ Men will weep throughout the congregation. Women will wail because of the travail of their own souls. Young adults will cry like children at the magnitude of their sin. With the strength of My presence, the worship team will cease playing. Time will seem to stand still. You won’t be able to preach because of the emotions flooding your own soul. You’ll struggle to find words but only find tears. Even the most dignified and reserved among you will be broken and humbled as little children. The proud and self-righteous will not be able to stand in My presence. The doubter and unbeliever will either run for fear or fall on their knees and worship Me—there can be no middle ground. The church will never be the same again.”

Pastors, do you truly want revival?

What about Christian leadership? Is it ready for revival?

Shane Idleman was recently asked for his take on the controversy surrounding Francis Chan speaking at what some call “questionable events.” He took time to pray while driving three hours to one of these events to meet Chan and hear him speak. Once again read the outcome.

Shane Idleman, left, with Francis Chan.

“When I met Chan backstage, I found him to be very humble and eager to listen as we talked about these issues. True to form, he also delivered a powerful message on repentance. Isn’t that our goal as preachers? The event moved me deeply during worship, and I had the opportunity to meet some of the other speakers such as Corey Russell and Derek Carr. Their passion for the lost and their heart for “genuine” revival was evident, as thousands came forward to recommit and renew their relationship with the Lord.

The irony is that when I try to tell it like it is, heresy hunters are not open, humble or teachable. The old adage “Don’t confuse me with the facts” comes to mind.

Why are emotional worship nights of prayer, and pressing into God, viewed as fanatical when these things are actually biblical? Why do I never see the heresy hunters at all-night worship services or broken by the Lord at the altar? This question demands an answer—and the answer is that many have never been filled mightily with the Holy Spirit. They can’t say, like Jeremiah, that God’s Word is in their heart like a burning fire (Jeremiah 20:9). 

CHURCH IS A PEOPLE WHO, NOT A PLACE AT

I love that mantra for church, because it makes it clear that the church is not a building but a people who take seriously the GREAT COMMISSION for the church to GO and make disciples.

Torben gives us a simple “model” of what to do when you gather with small groups to disciple each other.

The simple model based on JESUS IS THE CENTRE and IN (fellowship), UP (focus on God, communion a good start)  and OUT (take the Gospel to the world)

JESUS IS BUILDING HIS CHURCH

Another video from Torben that will encourage you as to what God is doing to build His church. Listen to the testimonies of three young people who were sent out as Jesus sent His disciples with no money, no two pairs of shoes. They were to be dependent upon God as provider, and their instruction was to find a person of peace in the town who would invite them into their home. Who is the person of peace – one whom the Holy Spirit is already at work in their life. Jesus told them to stay in that at home and bless them and train them. The stories are powerful and an inspiration for us all to do likewise.