There is truly only one universal church. This universal church is, in spirit and in truth, The True Church or The Body of Christ Jesus. It is made up of many and varied members. These members are those found throughout the world in various local church fellowships, missions, organizations and denominations, etc.; a scattering of salt throughout the world. They may not be fully aware of their place strategically within the Body of Christ Jesus, but as genuine believers in Christ Jesus they should be aware that they are indeed a part of the Body of Christ Jesus. It is in so many ways a church without boundaries, for it is a church of the Spirit. For me, this is the bottom line.
Not everyone who says they are a believer is a believer in spirit and in truth. This is also true of the church, not everyone or every church, mission, organization, etc. is actually a genuine part of the Body of Christ Jesus just because they claimed to be. Having said all of this I am aware of a very real danger. This danger is that one would leap into trying to discern that which is the true church and that which isn’t? I am saying that this is a danger in that we are not exactly called to this. We could say as scripture says, that we shall know them by their fruit and this would also be true for the church or churches as it is for individuals or even nations, etc.
No, my concern is that we realize that things are not so clean. What I mean is, that the church exists within the world as in the parable of the weeds and wheat (Matt 13:24-30). Until the time of the last great harvest, it is difficult to distinguish between the genuine and the false/weeds, across the board. So, again as it says in the parable, we need to let them grow up side by side until that time of maturity comes to separate. This separation, the word says is a job that will be accomplished by the angels (Matt 13:36-43) and so it is not ours. Another very clear picture of this is Jesus and Judas. Jesus knew from the beginning those who were his and that one who wasn’t. However, he allowed Judas to remain all the while knowing that in the fullness of time Judas would betray him to his death. Jesus knew that there was a higher purpose beyond the moment and the reality of Judas and his heart.
As this relates to the church at large, we see within the professing church many who are not genuine in their profession of faith, even as we see churches that are not genuine in their profession of faith. Our responsibility, ultimately, isn’t to hunt them out but to faithfully serve the Lord Jesus alongside them or even in spite of them with the Father’s heart as Jesus did with Judas. We’re to do this even if this means, as it did for Jesus, our own death or loss. We’re to do this believing that when we reach maturity in Christ Jesus (Eph 4:13-16) the harvest will come.
My point here is that reformation isn’t witch hunting. Reformation is a “rescuing from error and returning to a rightful course”. It is a discerning of that which is out of plumb (unrighteous) and moving to restore all things to plumb (the righteousness of the God in Christ Jesus). I genuinely believe we can do this within the existing church, in general, however we won’t see this in every church or heart specifically. No matter how many or few we reach with the truth, who have ears to hear and eyes to see, we much reach out to all just the same, with the clear and powerful Prophetic Word of God.
Ecclesiastes 11:6 (ESV) In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good.
The truth is, we do not always know so readily who is truly a weed and not simply an immature believer. As in the parable of the weeds if we focus upon trying prematurely to separate the tares/weeds from the wheat we may not only destroy the tares but the young wheat as well. In our hurried effort to do good we actually only serve to do even more damage to the Body of Christ Jesus.
So, I believe that we should, as the above passage would indicate, sow the seed of the Prophetic Word of Truth and keep sowing it because we do not know for certain, who in truth will be touched and transformed by such a Word as from the Lord Jesus Christ. Our position is much like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, John the Baptist and others who were all called to declare the clear word of the Lord in spirit and in truth, knowing the declaration of God’s Prophetic Word was their mission, not sorting out the weeds from the wheat. Yet the very act of declaring the clear prophetic word of the Lord brought an increasing clarity, a clarity of sin, hardness of hearts, pride, spiritual blindness and deafness, rebellion, witchcraft, and of righteousness, holiness and truth. Thus a separation of the genuine from the false was increasingly made known or revealed. It is a much needed role within the professing Body of the Lord Jesus Christ; the role of being those clear prophetic voices crying out in the wilderness of immature wheat and weeds, for reformation and a repentance of hearts, lives and ministries, unto maturity in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 42:18-23 (ESV) Hear, you deaf, and look, you blind, that you may see! 19 Who is blind but my servant, or deaf as my messenger whom I send? Who is blind as my dedicated one, or blind as the servant of the Lord? 20 He sees many things, but does not observe them; his ears are open, but he does not hear. 21 The Lord was pleased, for his righteousness’ sake, to magnify his law and make it glorious. 22 But this is a people plundered and looted; they are all of them trapped in holes and hidden in prisons; they have become plunder with none to rescue, spoil with none to say, “Restore!” 23 Who among you will give ear to this, will attend and listen for the time to come?
The truth here is that the Lord is speaking of his very own chosen people. Notice how the blind and deaf are servants and messengers of the Lord. Also pay attention to how they are caught up in a passive observation that keeps them from truly seeing and hearing what it is that the Lord God Almighty would be revealing to them. This passive listening and seeing, is within the body of Christ Jesus, a huge issue. Most of what takes place in the services of today is that the Word of God, if it is indeed the sure word of the Lord Jesus Christ, goes in one ear only to quickly move out the other ear, with little or no impact. Why, because of this passive seeing and hearing.
Proverbs 29:18 (ESV) Where there is no prophetic vision (or revelation) the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.
It seems as if we have an issue of familiarity breeds contempt or a devaluing of the Word of God as genuinely active and alive, or as truly essential to our very life and existence as a people. I genuinely believe that all too many of those within the Body of Christ Jesus believe, in spirit and in truth, that they can survive just fine without the clear prophetic Word of God. So we do not have our ears tuned to hear or pay attention to Gods Word, as to our listening for and to that which is and needs to be our very life.
Matthew 4:4 (ESV) But he answered, “It is written, ” ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ “
We are to live by the very Words of God, which is to also say, We do not live without the very Now Words of God. Unless we have this revelation, we find ourselves believing that we can take the Word of God or leave it, that it is somehow up to us, we have the choice. Certainly we have a choice, but it is a choice to live or not live. Just as eating nourishment daily is essential to us for life and living physically, even more so is our receiving into our lives the very Word of our living God, daily and consistently.
As simple, yet not often so easy as this is, I believe that it is one reason we see such death taking place within the church at large; there is no authentic hunger for or a genuinely reverencing of the powerful life changing Word of God. What we want is the consumerist Burger King or McDonalds version of the Word. We want the, I can pick and choose what it is I want to receive for today, quick, non offensive and inexpensive; a lot for a little, but extremely fattening with very little if any true and lasting nourishment. This deception is that of being filled full up, yet what we are taking in only serves to add bulk and not the sure meat of maturity, cross bearing, dying to ourselves, living unto to Christ Jesus lives fully surrendered as authentic lives lived in the genuine Spirit of His Grace and Truth.
Hebrews 5:11-14 (ESV) About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
Many within the professing church have lost or may never have had a sincere desire for the milk of the Word of God; the result of this, is simply that there has not been the kind of maturing and growing forward into the things of God across the board, that is essential for us to be and become The Living and Alive Church Manifested of the Lord Jesus Christ within the World, in Spirit and in Truth. We have become dull of hearing (blind and deaf) as we noted above. We are not yet, or so it appears, ready for the meat of the Word, even though many would say this is not true, at least for them.
Finally, I titled this segment, “Will The Real Church Stand Up”. I did this simply because it is increasingly difficult to discern the Real Church. It isn’t because there aren’t enough voices out there all claming to be the Real Church or even claiming to be in search of her. No, it is because there isn’t the kind of evidence of Godly Maturity as we see mentioned within the scriptures to separate the weeds from the wheat. In part and I realize only in part, I believe, it is because there isn’t a genuine and lasting hunger and indeed thirst for the Living and Powerful Prophetic Now Word of God. Without this clear Prophetic Word of the Lord, we cease to be truly alive as The people of God.
Blessings in the Lord Jesus Christ!