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.

DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE GOD IS IN CONTROL?

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

When the weight of the world is closing in, transfer that weight to God. Resist the cultural push to hurry and do more; instead, slow down, spend more time with God and in His word.

Don’t fall for the great modern lie: The more you do and achieve, the more purpose you have. In his book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, Pastor John Mark Comer explains how he learned the hard way how to give in to Christ’s easy yoke. 

In his early 20s, he was part of the team that planted Solid Rock Church, a Portland megachurch with multiple campuses. The church was an immediate success. Solid Rock grew by roughly 1,000 people per year for seven years straight. Then the church began to plateau—just as Comer began to burn out.

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Pastor John Mark Comer of Solid Rock Church Portland Oregon

Comer distinctly remembers waking up one morning and thinking, I don’t think this is a healthy way to live—and I’m not practising what I preach.

“I was up there preaching about Jesus’ ‘life to the full,’ yet my life felt less and less like that,” Comer says. “I just felt more and more tired, on edge, always in a hurry and not present. It was difficult to hear God’s voice in the chaos and rush and busyness of life. To put a very long story short, I essentially had an early midlife crisis at 30 years old.”

 The big existential question arose: “What has God called me to do with my life? Because I actually don’t think I’m made to lead a giant church like this. And it was the beginning of a new path for both Comer and Solid Rock church.”

After months of discussion by Solid Rock’s leadership team, the megachurch disbanded. Each site became its own independent church. Comer chose to lead not the largest of the sites—the one in the suburbs—but the little site in the heart of the city: Bridgetown. The church switched to an elder system that split up leadership responsibilities; Comer became “pastor for teaching and vision,” while co-elder Gerald Griffin became “pastor of staff and community.”

I feel like God is using me more than I ever have been used, even though our church is much smaller than the one I used to lead,” Comer says. “I think it’s a myth that more busyness equals more effectiveness. I find that the more I pare my life down and just do a couple of things to the best of my ability—and my ability isn’t even all that great sometimes—the more effective I become. Maybe I’m going deeper, not wider. At the time, it felt like I was sacrificing role, calling and effectiveness. But I think it’s turned out to be exactly the opposite.”

“If you live and have any kind of vocation that you do for a living—whether it’s church or something else—at some point you have to really make peace with both your potential and your limitations,” he says. “Recognise what you can do and what you can’t do, and make peace with that. Let go of comparison, let go of envy and let go of ambition, and just begin to do your work—not out of ego or striving, but really just out of love.”

All I can add to Comer’s advice is to remind you of the truth of this Scripture”

The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord. Searching all the inner depths of his heart. Proverbs 20:27

The lamp requires oil (Holy Spirit) to function as the lamp of God.

Jesus made it possible for our heavenly Father to send the Holy Spirit to born again believers to be our counsellor, comforter and teacher. He will direct our paths and give us the wisdom we need to make good decisions minute by minute, day by day, month by month… Are we saying as Jesus did: “not My will but Your will be done” or are we grieving the Holy Spirit by quenching His work in our bodies. Remember our bodies are supposed to be the Temple of the Holy Spirit.

John Mark Comer’s story is similar to that of Francis Chan and will be that of many other pastors of mega churches that want to do the will of God in these last days.

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.

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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.

LAST DAYS CHURCH

Just as described in the Book of Acts, the first generation of the church witnessed many miracles, also as Corrie Ten Boon describes in the following excerpt from Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place., God provides in miraculous ways for the faithful in dire circumstances. It is reasonable to postulate that God will also have the last generation of the church experience a spate of miracles in order to strengthen—and reward—the faithful during its worse time ever in tribulation, the great tribulation when Satan will seek to exterminate God’s church.

Left to right: Betsie ten Boom, Nollie ten Boom, Corrie ten Boom 

Since the faithful will not be able to buy or sell during this time, they will not be able to purchase food and water. But don’t doubt that God will also miraculously provide water, food, and protection on occasions for his faithful people—making water and food come out of thin air. The same God that created the world out of nothing and the same God who fed five thousand men from a few loaves of bread and fish is the same God who will be present during the awful time of the Antichrist’s great tribulation.

It will be the faithful, those prepared to be martyrs for their faith, who will be blessed by such miraculous deeds of God. Those believers who have been taught that they will be raptured before this intense time of tribulation, will be the very ones who will be fretting over their faith. Sadly, we are told that there will be a great falling away in the last days and we are seeing it occur in our day with much of the mainline denominational church falling into heresy. At a time when it should be reaching out to the lost, the church will be confused and vulnerable to Antichrist’s schemes.

However, those who believe in Jesus’s end-time teachings (especially the Olivet Discourse and Revelation) will take part in bringing in a great harvest of “end times” souls and see miraculous blessings.

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.

CHURCH IN THE END TIMES

“Realise this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.” (2 Timothy 3:1-9)

NOTE WELL: “holding to a form of godliness although they denied its power.” That line is not a description of the world; it is of a faithless, powerless, fruitless church! The light went out in the Church and the world got dark.

Image result for picture to illustrate Jesus is the light of the world

“If the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6:23)

One of the most destructive lies preached in many churches today is “In the last days the church will get brighter and brighter while the world gets darker and darker!

God’s word does reveal good news about the end times darkness and one of my favourite Scriptures in this regard is in Isaiah.

“Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; But the Lord will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness
of your rising.” (Isaiah 60:1-3)

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

We need to consider how we can serve others in extraordinary ways. How can we do ordinary things in extraordinary ways? Perhaps for business people, it is how you serve your customers. Workers how you go the extra mile for your boss, so that he asks you why you are doing it, and as a result you have the honour of bringing glory and honour to your heavenly Father.

Maybe this will light up the darkness, illuminate cities and shift atmospheres? Might it be that meeting the simple, felt needs of our cities in extraordinary ways is what will drag communities out of the cesspool of despair into the wellspring of hope?  I believe it will! Jesus told us “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14