Final Move of God?
There are dissenting
voices being heard today as we enter into the twenty first century.
The Christian experience has many different flavors. Old line denominations
remain but their numbers are on the decline with the young generations
finding little to interest them in the faith of their fathers. How do
they define the kingdom of God? The belief in the efficacy of "sacraments"
is the means of the priest or pastor to bring in the Kingdom. Mega churches
are growing because of the mass appeal of messages that are framed in
a "feel good about yourself because God is a loving and forgiving
God of Grace. But we must ask the question, does the size of the congregation
define the glorious church? And another question to be considered is
this, did scripture say that the glorious church will characterize the
church at the time of the end? The facts are the contrary. 1 Timothy
4: says that the end days will be characterized by apostasy and evil.
Jesus said it would again reflect the nature of Noah's day and the time
of the destruction of Sodom. Jesus said, "Will I find faith on
the earth when I return?" As I write these things the evidence
of apostasy is looming very large on the horizon of Christian doctrine.
Without going into detail, the nature of this apostasy is essentially
this, we must accept the notion that there are many paths to God, which
summarizes the Universalist view. The once stayed and biblically sound
fundamentalists block has opened the door to Islam and to most all the
non Christian religions in an effort to invite spiritual experiences.
Thus they might seek the meditation techniques of yoga, or gazing upon
icons, or chanting and so forth. At this point the door is open to the
Satanic cults of bygone days.
Addressing the Church and it Historic Foundations in Judaism
There are many Christian theologians who dismiss the importance of the Jews (Israel as a nation) as a player in God's covenants and future plan. How will they address the future of Israel and her place in the world and prophecy? Is the nation of Israel unique from others in the community of nations? There are two opposing view points, both can not be right. One view, Replacement Theology, declares that the Church has taken over the role of the elect, people of covenant. The other, the Dispensational View, believes that the church, for a season, is under the light of God's favor, (Isaiah 61:1) but physical Israel though temporarily set aside due to her offenses, will finally resume her full position as the people of God as declared in myriad verses of Psalms and prophetic writing.
Christians are an off shoot of the root of Judaism. In reality Christianity was always meant to be Messianic Judaism! Yeshua, Jesus was and is the Jewish Messiah. The apostles were all Jews. Salvation is of the Jews. The oracles of God and the covenants with Israel are the warp and weft of the past 4000 years of Bible history. The Feasts of Israel recorded in the books of Moses are called everlasting memorials. These Jewish festivals foreshadow and portray Jeshua Messiah in various roles that have been fulfilled or are yet to be fulfilled. Prophetic accuracy in matters fulfilled give us confidence that the same accuracy may be expected in regard to God's promises for Israel and the soon-to-come Kingdom Age that will be in place for a millenium. Since Abraham it has been established that those who bless Israel shall be blessed and those who curse her, shall be accursed.
We face a cross road. Shall believers embrace Israel and its prophetic prominence or reject it? I believe it is prudent for the sake of our spiritual lives and the well-being of the nation to embrace and support Israel. We have been grafted into the root of Israel by God's grace and mercy. It was Jewish believers in Israel who first experienced the "new creation." The apostles ministered within the walls of synagogues, although with great resistance. Paul fulfilled prophecy when he took the message of a "New Creation" beyond the Elect of Israel to the Gentiles. Meeting forms of the first 'churches' were quite different from what we might be familiar with as they gathered informally in synagogues or homes. Men and women believed the message and shared the Jewish gospel that Jesus (Yeshua) was truly the Messiah, the son of God and The Savior of all and the King to govern the nations. Sadly, I believe those Christian leaders who teach Replacement theology eliminating God's covenant people are dismissing enormous amounts of the Bible and over spiritualizing too much of the apostolic New Covenant scripture.
the Glorious Church
The mission of the Gospel of the Kingdom is about bringing greater evidence of heavenly substance to earth. The "kingdom of heaven" breaks through as the body finds itself in unity (oneness.) Signs and revelations will transpire but when they do, these must conform to the whole body of Scripture. The voice of the Spirit of God speaks to us in personal ways, persuading tens of thousands to join Him in the heavenly place of intimacy. Discontent and restlessness in a stagnant religious environment prompts those called by God to become full participants in an environment that offers acceptance and liberty. He presents us with the key to the kingdom the inner witness which opens to reveal his majestic glory.
Many voices affirm the desire to pursue their own unique gift and are called to fully participate among a community of believers free of human domination. Messengers are being revealed, people called of God, chosen and prepared in solitary places. These messengers are not be called to be professional theologians, nor religious celebrities, but simple men and women who are Christ's disciples. God has called and reserved true disciples for this very time. One may say they are coming forth out of their own caves of obscurity as David with his faithful remnant in days of old. Few voices in the wilderness have been joined with a multitude who cry out, "Prepare the Way of the Lord most high, make His way straight in the desert, prepare the way for a people to go forth and meet him, we set forth to meet him in the high places, heavenly Zion, the "Mountain of the Lord."
Now, we do not know many who share that spirit of zeal and passion couched in meekness. But we will recognize them when we share fellowship with them. Our spirit bares witness to theirs. We feel their openness, warmth and accessibility. They of the glorious church do not hide behind religious titles that are too often a barrier to intimacy with the common people. As in the bible account of Jesus when he was in his mother's womb, a common spirit caused the unborn John the Baptist to leap in the presence of the savior, and as the travelers to Emmaus felt their hearts burn within them, we will recognize and welcome those having the right spirit.
The glorious church therefore is not a place. It is not a megachurch ministry with a dynamic pastor nor a charismatic leader who attracts more and more devotees to the meetings. It is not heirarchical with an elect at the head. It recognizes that the Kingdom of God at this time to be spiritual and is resident within the souls of men and women who have received the gift of life and salvation. It does not seek to conquer nations using methods of domination and control to bring political and economic systems into submission. I believe that the glorious church has no walls and has no shepherd other than Jesus through his Holy Spirit.
THE GREAT COMMISSION (MATTHEW 28)
the outline of the times of the end. Jesus declares prophetically that
there will be a resolution of the conflict between good and evil. The
old testament prophets deal with this time of revolution, sorrow and
chaos under the description, "Day
of the Lord." Forces of evil will be subdued with finality
and the Kingdom of righteousness will be established, revoking all previous
forms of human government.
Matt 24:9 - - “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come."
The disputes and discrepancies seem to address this matter of the duty of the church to bring in the end of the age through it's formalized and varied outreach and missionary efforts. What I am hearing from most Evangelical Christians is that it is the church and missions which will bring the Gospel of the Kingdom to the world until "the end."
There is, I think, a more Biblically correct understanding that we call dispensational. In this view, the church has an allotted time to act and the world a time to respond to the Gospel message proclaimed by believers and church ministries. This term will conclude at a time that God has appointed. The world has always withstood and resisted the Holy Spirit. Jesus and the apostles affirmed that righteousness is not going to be fully realized through our best outreaches during this church-age dispensation. So what does the Bible mean in saying 'the Gospel of the Kingdom will be proclaimed to all the world and then the end will come?
Kingdom Now and Preterist theology is of an understanding that the Church will grow in spiritual empowerment until the whole world will be transformed in righteousness. The Seven Mountains movement of Christian evangelism and intercession is looking to transform the broad reaches of society, family, political, educational, arts, media etc. (See Seven Mountains of Culture.)
We must not fail
to take into consideration Israel and its full purpose and place in
the fulfillment of God's plan for the end time we have greater understanding.
Most old testament prophets spoke of the the coming of Messiah, Israel
and Jerusalem and the plan of bringing the Kingdom of God to earth at
the end of the age after a time of great tribulation and trial referred
to as the "Day of the
Lord." Jesus, the Messiah has come and if we believe in the
dispensational view we believe he will come again in great glory and
power and himself will destroy the evil ruler (antichrist) with his
coming. But before this second coming Israel and the Jews will
do the greatest amount of evangelism and proclaiming the "Gospel
of the Kingdom:" We have the two witnesses described in Revelation
chapter 10 who will preach, and bear testimony to Jesus and his kingdom
for three and a half years. (The middle point of the 7 year tribulation
period). Coninciding with the ministry of the two witnesses and perhaps
a direct result of their ministry we have 144 thousand evangelists who
are set forth and these represent the 12 tribes of Israel. It is these
who will continue to proclaim the everlasting gospel. Finally the book
of Revelation tells us that just before the time of Christ's return
there will be Gospel Angels, who literally bring the message to every
nation and people group. Revelation 14:6
Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting
gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe,
tongue, and people—7 saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give glory
to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made
heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.”
Manifold Expressions of Grace
chart below describes graphically the levels of Christian experience
experienced from the past to the present. Categories may not include
all churches or entire congregations. Some well organized religous bodies
though repleat in doctrine, depart seriously from the true gospel of
Grace and salvation through Christ Jesus.
two is descriptive of those who have a higher, more active experience
in the Spiritual life. These believers, often more by chance than choice,
find themselves in a place to experience more of God and have with God's
grace, pressed in to experience the activation of the Holy Spirit Baptism
with its subsequent access to witness God's reality. Those who have
come out of the fundamentalist strand of Christian tradition, have already
been labeled as out of order, out of compliance and essentially apostate
with respect to their prior doctrines.
Column three denotes those who are beginning to experience the highest manifestation of the church age. In this model, spiritual leaders may come from the highways and the byways. Many are unknown, without reputation they may or not have formal credentials. These are often the simple and plain minded men and women who have one thing in common, that they have been with Jesus in the way or have felt a continual dissonance with the programs and formalism of the waning human led religious movements. They are described hereafter by various authors who are expressing the same discontent with old religious ways, meaning the religiosity of pentecostal and charismatic bodies described in column two whose purposes and programs were mingled with human forms and methodology. Column three are outside of legalism. They are outside institutionalism. They do not need to go to a "church" whose primary concern is paying off their expensive mortgage and pay for the salaries of clerical professionals. They know that they are the church.
They do not aspire to become famous or to have famous world outreach ministries. They give away that which was freely given to them. They meet without credentialed leaders who have church growth strategies as their true agenda. The Holy Spirit has control of these groups. All in fellowship are taught to participate. They are empowered to practice and grow in their gifts, while seeking to know God in his presence. They realize that each person is called to become complete in him, and this completeness will bring divine approval into his or her life. They do not stray from the word of God which each knows and knows well, for these guiding principles were those of the apostles in the beginning. The word of God is quick and powerful in their lives; they know the rhema word by which we eat and live.
Christian Book Titles and Christian Commentaries