CHURCH NO LONGER THE AUTHORITY ON MORALITY AND ETHICS

Why is this so? No doubt it is the work of Satan who has undermined Scripture in the Body of Christ. With the teaching of evolution in our schools and universities as the origin of life and the universe, Satan has destroyed the foundational book of the Bible and it has led to cultural relativism and the denial of absolute truth.

It is in Genesis where we get answers to all the big questions of life: WHY, WHEN, WHERE & HOW. Answers to; why death and suffering, life’s meaning and purpose.

Bible colleges have swallowed the lie and tried to incorporate evolution and billions of years into Scripture. Once Genesis, the foundational book of the Bible was jettisoned, other portions of Scripture have followed, to the extent that God’s commands on marriage, homosexuality and gender are no longer considered good, in fact, are considered evil. In the main, it has turned our pastors into silent, timid shepherds who are afraid to touch any question that culture has deemed “political,” which includes almost all moral questions. 

It used to be that the Church was the authority on morality and ethics. Now, the clinical culture has said, these are political issues, and anyway, the Bible is full of errors, it is not the truth, so the Church has nothing to contribute.

Heresy is not only teachings that are wrong but includes deliberately omitting essential teachings. Carving out a portion of the Scripture and teaching that it does not apply and can be ignored today is a heresy. God’s Word provides the only true history of this planet. It is inerrant and the number of fulfilled prophecies demonstrate this truth. What’s going on today is just a new twist on an old practice, where people will cite a single passage of Scripture to make their case, and then ignore all the other scripture that speaks to that matter. And what some have done by fencing off a portion of the Old Testament is exactly that. And we must have the courage of our convictions to call it what it is, heresy.

God has raised up ministries such as http://www.creation.com and http://www.answersingenesis.com for such a time as this. If you need answers to the big questions on how to defend your faith then don’t hesitate to go to these sites.

We need to move forward with wisdom in the power of the Holy Spirit, we must understand that “darkness is the divine setup for light. Sickness is the divine setup for healing. The current crisis is the divine setup for the church to arise and shine and make a difference. We must seize the moment so that His Kingdom might come and we bring glory to God.

GOD IS PRUNING HIS CHURCH

More great wisdom from Francis Chan. Since Francis Chan walked away from the church he had in California boasting of over 5000 members I knew Francis was hearing from God. Church from then on for Francis was no more buildings, no paid pastors and accountability of all members.

God is using the coronavirus pandemic as a time to “prune the Church and cut off branches that aren’t bearing fruit,” ultimately allowing the Body of Christ to become more “fruitful,” according to popular speaker and author Francis Chan.

Chan, former teaching pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, California, on Wednesday participated in the Q 2020 Virtual Summit, an annual event that equips Christian leaders to thoughtfully engage culture from a Christian worldview.

“I hear a lot of talk of people being concerned about whether their church is going to survive,” Chan, speaking via Livestream, told host Gabe Lyons. “The illustration I think of is, if I had a diamond right here, and I just smash it with a hammer, what would happen to that diamond? Nothing. If it’s a real diamond, if it shatters, it wasn’t real.”

He pointed out that in Matthew 16:18, Jesus says, “I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

“This is going to be a group that the gates of Hell can’t stand against,” Chan explained. “No virus, no government, no economic this or that, life, death, nothing. And so we as believers are supposed to trust the words of Jesus and go, ‘The Church is going to be fine. If anything, this is the time where God is going to prune the Church and cut off branches that aren’t bearing fruit, but it’s only going to become more fruitful.’”

“And so with that type of confidence, we have to move forward and go, what’s the worst thing that happened to me? I die and receive the award I’ve been … longing for my whole life. We can be fearless.”

Statistics from a recent Barna Group survey found that six to nine percent of pastors are unsure or not confident that their church will survive the coronavirus pandemic. Forty-two percent of pastors said giving was “significantly” down and 28 percent said it was “slightly” down. Only around a quarter said it stayed the same.

Additionally, nearly a quarter of American churches (22 percent) have already reduced staff hours, reduced compensation, or laid off employees.

In this unprecedented time of uncertainty, the Crazy Love author stressed that “God knew you and I were going to be alive at this time, adding: “We were literally made for this, prepared for this.”

SID ROTH GETS IT RIGHT: CHURCH! IT’S TIME TO REPENT

“The major mark of this next move of God’s Spirit is repentance,” Roth said. He urges Christians to use this time in quarantine to do two things: repent and pray in tongues “without ceasing.”

“I’m excited about the new beginnings God is giving the church, and it starts with us as individuals living in rapid repentance,” Roth said. “It flat doesn’t matter what’s going on in the world. It’s what’s going on with you. It’s, ‘Are you living in rapid repentance? Are you praying in tongues every moment you have?’ That’s what’s more important because all things work together for good if you are praying in tongues and living your repentant life.”

“I think this is God’s time to have believers operate in all of the promises of the New Testament. The truth is we know how to stand on the Word. We’re experts about that. But what about the power of God being manifested as we speak, that is what occurred for the early Christians as expressed in the Book of Acts, that is what we will see evident in the “last days” church.

Roth said that despite the chaos happening in the world, God’s glory is “erupting now” and the church will be invited to fulfil Jesus’ words in John 14 that his followers will do greater things than He.

“I believe many should set their day to operate in the glory because it’s not going to be a superstar movement. It’s going to be one where the church knows we already have a superstar. His name is Jesus or Yeshua, and it’s Yeshua in us the hope of glory.”

CHURCH NOT A BUILDING – FAITH TRIUMPHS

“In the middle of this pandemic there is hope, that there’s strength, and that we will make it through this because He has risen – so will we,” said an emphatic Andre Chambers of Hampton Roads.

A dozen churches in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia put a unique twist on a traditional Easter message during these challenging times. Some directed traffic. Others lined up each car just right as members of 12 Virginia churches rolled up with masks on and maintaining strict social distancing guidelines, to send the world an Easter message.

People gather at the Mount Davidson Cross in San Francisco, Sunday, April 12, 2020. Mount Davidson’s annual Easter Sunrise Service was cancelled for San Francisco’s shelter in place orders over coronavirus concerns.

As Christians around the US and around the world are forced to practice social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, pastors and believers are adapting to the loss of Sunday gatherings. These powerful photos prove that the Church of Jesus is not a building, it’s His people. And the God who offers salvation for each individual is still able to meet with you one-on-one, whether it’s the middle of a parking lot, or in your own living room.

BUILDING YOUR KINGDOM OR THE KINGDOM OF GOD?

An important video for pastors but also for all saints. It will help them understand what has happened to the church in becoming an institution. A long way from the church in the beginning, as described in the Book of Acts.

A great testimony from a former Methodist pastor who eventually had to resign from his church. A holy spirit filled pastor, speaking in tongues, and intent on taking the church out into the marketplace was not wanted by most of the church. The good news is that before he resigned many in the church became spirit filled believers and of course a church split resulted. You need to listen to his story and understand what is wrong with the institutional church. Hopefully, it will challenge many to get into prayer to find out what God is calling them to do at this climactic time in the history of His planet. The Bible reveals that we are in the “end times”. Two important “end times” signs given by Jesus to His disciples in the Olivet Discourse; 1. rebirth of Israel as a nation has occurred and 2. apostasy in the church is happening.

GOD IS FORCING CHURCH TO CHANGE

How many Christians believe God is bringing this pestilence for His purposes much as He brought the ten plagues on Egypt to force Pharaohs hand?

God, being the sovereign judge over the nations, is the theme throughout the Bible. Christians should have no doubt God is working out His plans and purposes in His world. Much of the Bible is prophecy, almost two thirds fulfilled prophecy so we know that the rest of the prophecies, much about the “end times” before Jesus returns to rule and reign with a rod of iron, will come to pass.

In a short period, God has shut down the activity and economy of the developed nations of the world! Sadly, the world so deceived by an evolutionary world view no longer believes God exists let alone controls all events in the Cosmos. A recent Barna survey revealed most Christians now don’t hold a Biblical world view. They need to be reminded afresh that Yahweh alone is the true sovereign Lord. Let me remind you of what the Bible says is coming.

“For the day of the Lord of hosts shall come upon everything proud and lofty, upon everything lifted up — and it shall be brought low — They shall go into the holes of the rocks, and into the caves of the earth, from the terror of the Lord and the glory of His majesty, when He arises to shake the earth mightily.” Isaiah 2:12, 19

The arrogance of humankind, seduced by its self-focused affluence, makes this generational visitation a necessity.

Due to the massive proliferation of this virulent outbreak God has hopefully caused every person to consider their fragility and mortality.

“Who knows the power of Your anger? For as the fear of You, so is Your wrath. So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:11

With schools cancelled and parents working from home, God has forced families to spend time together. Hopefully, mothers, fathers, siblings and spouses are connecting in a meaningful manner.

Now, more than ever, church will have to go to another level in faith and dependence upon God for their sustenance. Those who lack experiential faith and intimacy with God during these days will either pursue an encounter with the living God or experience deep despair and failure.

With less emphasis on the large crowd, many church initiatives have collapsed down to personal touch rather than programmatic persuasion. For too long, the term “church” was equated to what took place within the four walls of a building on Sunday mornings. The success of a congregation was primarily gauged by how many people were present for service. We even call the facilities that are being used for service, “church.” The coronavirus pandemic has proven that the church can no longer be defined by a single Sunday morning service. My prayer is; it will get back to holding a Biblical worldview knowing the Bible provides the only true history of God’s world. It tells us the end of the story. What we can expect to unfold in the years ahead before Jesus return. Watch this space and together we will see world events unfold exactly as prophesied.

CHURCH AND THE CORONA VIRUS

The sociologist Rodney Stark has written (in The Rise of Christianity) that one reason the church overcame hostility and grew so rapidly within the Roman empire traces back to how Christians responded to pandemics of the day, which probably included smallpox and bubonic plague. When infection spread, Romans fled their cities and towns; Christians stayed behind to nurse and feed not only their relatives but their pagan neighbours’. Their proffered comfort drew others to the God of all comfort.

You can follow the trail of Christian missionaries by the hospitals, clinics, and orphanages they founded. Virtually every advance in the understanding and treatment of leprosy came from Christian missionaries—not because they were the best physicians and scientists, but because they were the only ones willing to treat that misunderstood and dreaded disease. Following Jesus’ example, they risked exposure by reaching out to the leprosy-afflicted.

Jesus knew suffering up close, as a willing victim of our planet’s brokenness. When Jesus ascended to heaven, He sent his followers into the world “as the Father has sent me,” to be God’s agents of comfort and healing.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:4

This is the mission of the church in a world full of pain and suffering. Church are you being obedient to God’s command?

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:6

IS THE CHURCH NO LONGER RELEVANT?

What are the cultural realities that are crippling the church?

1. Not Holy Spirit led. It is rare to see anything like what you read about in the book of Acts happen in churches today. When’s the last time the Holy Spirit has moved among the people of your church? If you can’t point to something, that may be a sign of a powerless (Acts 1:8) church.

2. Not serving their community. Simply protesting against sin in the world without proactively working for good causes in the community creates a negative impression in the minds of those who drive past your church on Sundays. Also, consumerism has most definitely infected the church and it is reflected in how praise and worship is conducted. When you have Christians (no matter their age) content to sit and attend services (no matter the type) while refusing to stand up and serve others, you have an irrelevant church.

3. Bible knowledge alone equals spiritual maturity. Bible knowledge is foundational to spiritual maturity, but it does not in and of itself equal spiritual maturity. Spiritual maturity comes with obedience and love towards others. Paul warned about this in 1 Corinthians 8:1 when he said, “Knowledge puffs up while love builds up.

4. No John 17 unity. Jesus himself prayed (John 17:23) that his followers would be one, so that the world may know that we are his disciples. The early church brought men and women, Greeks and Jews, slaves and free, all together under the name of Jesus. Do we see that same unity today, or is the church divided along racial, political, theological and socio-economic lines?

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Anglican church in the UK

Regardless, God is still on His throne. Jesus is still building his church. The Holy Spirit continues to do his work. My prayer is that the church will start being part of the solution.

Live a Prayer-Care-Share Lifestyle

In Mark 9, Jesus modeled this for us:

  • Prayer = Jesus said His disciples couldn’t heal the boy because it required prayer
  • Care = Had compassion on the boy and his dad
  • Share = Jesus asked the boy’s dad to proclaim faith in Him before healing his son

Powerful Christians live accordingly, not content simply to invite people to church or stop at “telling their story”.  They understand that bringing people to Christ involves taking personal responsibility for all 3 – praying, caring and sharing.  

CHURCH IN THE LAST DAYS – IRAN’S FAST GROWING CHURCH

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.