What has happened to the church? PDF Print E-mail

                                           What has happened to the Church?

 

Iíve been a Christian since 1989. In April of 1989 God Graced me with Salvation, touched my heart and changed my life. Took me out of that horrible pit, out of that miry clay, set my feet upon the rock and established my goings. My heart was changed and I started the process of renewing this horribly corrupt mind. I knew that I was no longer of the world, that I needed to separate myself from all of my old worldly activities. I learned about sanctification, about Holiness. I believed that the Bible was and is the infallible word of God. That God said it, that He meant it, and that we were suppose to obey.

I started my Christian life in a menís home. We had 4 bible studies a week. 2 church services, prayer and fasting on Thursdays. Every day was started with an hour of prayer, with bible reading and morning devotion. No worldly TV or radio. I suppose at this point I was a little naÔve. I couldnít wait to integrate myself with the real church, outside of the menís home. I thought that there was this beautiful glorious church full of on fire, holy living, men of God. Out and about Gods business. I thought that there was a whole world of Christians out there that took this whole Christian thing as seriously as I did. I was just a little bit surprised by what I found, and by what I still see.

A Christian, by my definition, is a follower of Christ. John 14:12 he that believeth in me, the works that I do shall he do also. And greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. Jesus came into the world with a purpose. He lived a perfect, sinless life. He spent 3 Ĺ years doing signs wonders and miracles as he trained his disciples, giving them a pattern of life and teachings that they were to pass on to future generations of disciples. He was very specific when he said that we were to lay down our lives, take up the cross and follow him. (Mark 8:34)

After He had gone to the cross and completed the work that he came to accomplish, he rose from the dead. Proving to all that He truly was God manifested in the flesh. On the cross he stated these words, ďit is finishedĒ. He had done all that he could do. Then, he gave us the great commission. Go into all the world and preach the gospel Mark 16:15

Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Teaching them to observe according to all that I have commanded you. And Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Matthew 28:19-20

This great commission, is the last will and testament of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If we do not obey and do as he instructed us, then everything that he suffered on the cross will be in vain. Acts 1:8 ye shall receive power after having that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all of Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the utter most parts of the earth.

He left us the Holy Spirit to empower us to preach the gospel. Itís not just our words, but the power of the gospel unto salvation to all who will believe.

This is what itís all about. Reaching the lost and making disciples that will also reach the lost.

I would like you to set aside your religious beliefs. What you think the church is. Instead, focus on what Jesus did, what the disciples did while Jesus was with them. Ask your self, are we following the Jesus of then? Are we doing the things that the disciples did, that Jesus did? How many of our religious traditions match up with the early church? How much of what we do is man made and not part of what Jesus taught?

Matthew 15:8 These people draw near to me with their mouths, and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. In vain do they worship me; teaching for commandments the doctrines of men.

The modern church is full of great activities. Lots of good things that keep everyone busy. Itís hard to criticize whatís going on because it all seems so legitimate. We do outreaches that take 6 months to organize, utilize lots of man power and resources. We draw people in with promises of free goods and services, entertain them, give them a quick gospel message then ask for a show of hands to see how many want to receive Jesus.  We take a head count to see how many invited Jesus into their heart. Everyone is happy because they have been involved in an evangelistic outreach. The last outreach I attended, at the altar call, I approached some of the raised hands. It turned out that they were part of the outreach team and they only raised their hands to do a recommitment. At most of the multi church outreaches Iíve attended, the majority of those attending are from the multi churches. Itís hard to get a sinner to attend an outreach. We need to go out and get them. When you witness under the anointing of the Holy Ghost, the Spirit brings conviction, which leads to salvation. You donít need to lure them in with promises of goodies. You need to preach the law, show them that they are sinners in need of a savior. Itís not ďGod loves you and has a wonderful plan for your lifeĒ. It should be the law, who is the school master to lead them to Christ. Once theyíre born again theyíll come to church. Theyíll hunger and thirst for the things of God.

So, I realize that this is not going to be received by many. Some of you will be offended. Religion has a grip on your heart and you canít see past your traditional thinking. What I just described is what most of the churches are doing today for evangelism. We do events. Or we do once a month evangelism on Saturday mornings. We do community outreach. Build relationships with the community. We try to integrate the church into the world. Make the church an asset to the community. We feed the homeless and provide for the needy. Thatís what makes this message so hard to write. We are instructed to do all of those things. But we should also be individually witnessing and preaching. People that do not know how to witness, but know that they are suppose to do so, replace their personal obligation to witness with participation in some form of group evangelism. When I ask an individual if they witness, they tell me yes, our church goes out every third Saturday. Or we are doing missions, sending people to Africa. Better yet, they take a vacation to some foreign nation and call it a missions trip. That really makes the conscience feel good.

I donít want to criticize whatís being done. I want to focus on whatís not being done. What could be done if we really set our heart to accomplishing the task. Iím not a holier than thou, thinking that I am the only one doing it right  But I do know that a person could witness to 20 people a day easily, with hardly any effort, if it was important enough to the person to do so. If I really believe that the majority of people are lost, that Jesus died for those same people and commanded me to tell them, then I will tell them. If I really believe. The call is to begin being a radical Christian. What Jesus did was radical. What the early church did was radical. How radical is your walk? Are you storming the gates of hell? Is there any fire, any zeal in your walk with God? How many times a day, a week, a year do you share your faith? Do you lay hands on the sick, cast out demons and pray for people? Is Christianity no more than church services and bible studies? Once a month out reaches. We sound so spiritual, but where is the abundant fruit?

 Sunday, I went with the wife to a Gideonís bible distribution at the Orange County Fair. We spent close to 8 hours handing out bibles and witnessing. We had a really wonderful time and there were many moments when we just knew that God was right in the middle of the conversation. I call them God moments, when you feel the presence of the Holy Spirit and the person your talking too connects with God and makes a decision. Just praying and letting them feel the Holy Spirit is enough. On the way home my wife commented, ďthis is a whole lot better than sitting in churchĒ What she meant was that we had had church on the streets.

2000 years ago, Jesus said, look, the fields are white to harvest. The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore to the Lord of the harvest, that He would send forth laborers. So my intent, at this time, would be to get you to think. Are you a laborer? Iím not talking about an usher or Sunday school teacher. Iím talking about the harvest field, the many souls that are slipping into hell while the majority sit in church. Are you laboring to get lost souls saved? There are no legitimate excuses. You either obey or you donít. We will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ one day. Are you ready?

 
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