LAST REFORMATION – CHURCH AS IN THE BOOK OF ACTS

Why at this time in history, do we see God raise up people like Torben Sondergaard (Denmark) to show people that church, as described in the Book of Acts, can be experienced today.

Likewise, why was Francis Chan, author of best seller, Crazy Love and  pastor of a church of 5,000 in California, convicted by God to walk away. Few in the church were using the gifts of the Holy Spirit to train up disciples and yet it was costing thousands of dollars to maintain this organisation.  He now has 30 House churches, all training up disciples of Christ prepared to go out to train up more disciples of Christ. No paid leaders, Jesus is the leader of the church and His Kingdom is being built.

Even marketplace ministries such as the International Christian Chamber of Commerce realise that we are in the last days and workplace reformation is needed. The last ICCC Conference was in Geneva and called Reformation at Work (500 years since the Reformation). There we declared “We hereby welcome and receive a new reformation starting at our workplaces in every nation manifesting the power of the Kingdom of God”

Be encouraged, listen to Torben explain what God is doing to grow His church using the Last Reformation movement. We live in exciting times but only if we are totally sold out to God and delighted to do His will – “not my will, Lord, but Yours be done”.

CHURCH AS JESUS INTENDED & JOHN 17 UNITY.

In John 17:21, Jesus said that the purpose—goal—of His church here on earth would be accomplished by the testimony of UNITY in His church.

Why is unity so important? “that they all may be one, as You Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe you sent Me” John 17:21. It matters—because when unity is demonstrated to the world, it will be the testimony that Jesus is who He said He is – the only Son of God, Saviour. When Jesus is thus “lifted up” then all men shall be drawn to Him.

Paul continued to emphasise the importance of unity throughout his writings:

 “Be eager to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:3

This is the vision and purpose Christ has for His body here on earth. Sadly, the world does not see a unified church.

What is the biblical model for unity of the Spirit in the church?

The perfect and highest expression of unity of the Spirit was modelled in the early church after Pentecost: “They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in the prayers. Fear came to every soul. And many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common. They sold their property and goods and distributed them to all, according to their need. And continuing daily with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:42-47).

Three distinct levels of unity of the Holy Spirit are actually expressed here:

Level 1 – Basics

(v. 42) “They continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in the prayers.”

Level 2 – Signs & Wonders

(v. 43) “Fear came to every soul. And many wonders and signs were done through the apostles.”

Level 3 – A lifestyle of mutual support and sharing all things

All who believed were together and had all things in common. They sold their property and goods and distributed them to all, according to their need. And continuing daily with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:42-47).

Each of these three represents a progressively higher level of unity in the church, the body of Christ on earth. And, each of these levels is real, tangible, and measurable—just like the actual resurrected body of Jesus.

When you have time watch Francis Chan talk about church as God intended, with all of us using our Holy Spirit given gifts to further God’s Kingdom. Francis walked away from a church of 5,000 in California, when He was challenged by God that very few in the church were using their gifts, and the other issue was how many were really born again.

In the last days, will we see a church like that in the Book of Acts? Yes! we will, and in fact where the church is or has experienced persecution, we are seeing and have seen a unified church. In the Middle East, particularly Syria, the remnant church is unified and operating as the did the church in the Book of Acts and all three levels of unity are visible. The church in China that came out of 40 years of persecution under Mao, same story.

portion of this article was extracted from “Achieving True Unity of Spirit in Your Church” by Louis Posthauer. He is the executive director of Hunters of the Harvest Ministry.

ARE OUR CHURCHES MAKING DISCIPLES?

Great fame, a massive following and financial fortune did not matter to Jesus. And it should not matter to us.

His only obsession was to please the Father. We should be likewise obsessed.

Matthew reported that Jesus preached the gospel and healed the sick all over Galilee. (4:23) Because of his preaching and healing “His fame spread” which resulted in even more preaching and healing. (4:24) The predictable result of all this preaching and healing was that “great crowds followed him.” (4:25)

So, Jesus now has fame and crowds. The only thing missing (for modern success) is the fortune. But great fame, a massive following and financial fortune did not matter to Jesus. And it should not matter to us. But it often does. Even in ministry.

What did Jesus do with His newfound fame and huge following? How did He “leverage his platforms” in order to increase his following? How did He alter His content to increase His followers? How did He monetise His influence? That’s what we would do, right?

Notice carefully what Jesus did. “Seeing the crowds, he went up on a mountain. And when he sat down, His disciples came to Him” (Matt. 5:1).

Two important words: “crowds” and “disciples.”

1. “Seeing the crowds, he went up on a mountain.” Today when we see crowds in our Sunday service, in our campus ministry or on social media, we think we have succeeded. We must be doing something right and God is must be blessing our efforts. In order to be good stewards of our success, we do everything imaginable to maintain and grow our audience. Our first move is to leverage our platform for growth and influence. Jesus did the opposite. His first move was to walk away from the crowd.

2He traded a massive crowd of adorning followers for a small group of committed disciples. A careful reading of the Gospels will reveal that the more crowds followed Jesus, the more he retreated to be alone with the Father and with his disciples.

Every leader of a growing ministry will be faced with an important decision: attract crowds or make disciples. Will we leave the crowds in order to make disciples, or will we allow the demands of the crowd to pull us away from small group discipleship?

Too many pastors and ministry leaders choose the crowds. Pastor Francis Chan, author of best seller, Crazy Love chose correctly, as shown in my recent post Church as God Intended.

This article originally appeared at stevemurrell.com. Steve serves as the president of Every Nation Churches and Ministries, a ministry that does church planting and campus ministry in over 70 nations.