“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias (Isaiah), saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” (Matthew 3:1-3)
It began over a year ago – the Holy Spirit made a significant speech into my spirit-(wo)man about “the church” and the body of Christ. If you do not understand how to separate them, you may choose to dig a bit deeper into your Bible, while praying for revelation! The difference, today, is so real many can see and touch it. Sadly, so can the Lord, Christ Jesus, and he sheds tears to earth from heaven over it. Why? Point blank, there was never supposed to be a difference!
The early disciples of Christ were given a specific mission, as any and all Believers to date have been commissioned:
“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost (Spirit) is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in al Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Jesus tells his disciples they are to be witnesses for Him…to the ends of the earth. This is the command Jesus left his church with. What were they to be witnesses of? Jesus’ resurrection and what that meant for the world, as Peter explained to the disciples after Jesus left them in the power of the Holy Ghost, “Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he (Jesus) was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his (Jesus’) resurrection.” (Acts 1:22)
Recall, Peter was given the keys of the kingdom by Jesus and was later told to feed Jesus’ flock. He was given authority to usher the spiritual realm of heaven down to earth. Unfortunately, even Peter at times fell short of leading the body correctly, which was cause for initial and future rifts within the body of Christ, and how denominations came to exist. Which brings me to what the Holy Spirit was imparting in my spirit. Historically, the churches I attended have been non-denominational. Not that all denominational churches fall prey to bad theology but many do, as do some non-denominational. It seems, generally speaking, many churches, regardless of denomination, find themselves in the midst of false teachers and misguided shepherds. I’ve experienced each example given in the past 7 1/2 years.
The church I happened to be attending while the Holy Spirit moved strong messages through me, about the church in general, was most likely a combination of all of this. Being a denominational church that had strayed pretty far from their founder’s roots, they’d had a string of bad shepherds and become disillusioned as to the number of wolves in their midst. Why? Frankly, their foundation had grown weak. Meaning, Jesus and the Holy Spirit have left the building. They are under a works mentality, with the building they gather in as their idol, pride, and joy. (Not every member, but most.)
During the time this message began taking shape, I was very involved with the day to day of the church. This due to certain circumstances, plus the pastor (who was walking with the Holy Spirit as well as she could) recognizing what spiritual gifts He has bestowed upon me, I became overly involved. Pulled in. Overwhelmed and then unenthusiastic in leadership activity. This is how the spiritual issues of this dying church were revealed. As a church body, the aged congregation has sunk their blood, sweat and checkbooks in keeping it alive for 30-50 years. However, God continued to show a few of us, clearly, if change toward Jesus and away from works and idolatry didn’t occur, He would allow the church to fizzle out. In fact, He’d prefer it did. (Ironically, the Lord imparted this knowledge into people new to, therefore not as invested in, the church.)
Talk about being in a tough position! Those of us obedient to relaying this message were charged with sparking New Life into this church body. Change: a most hated word amongst the masses who prefer to stay in their comfort zones and keep God in a dedicated box. But change they realized and accepted had to transpire…albeit, in their perspective to save the “church”, not souls, from destruction. But God seemed to have a sense of humor over this entire situation.
And so it began…the exodus of key people in the church. First, the pastor and soon after, the worship director; administrative people left after the pastor departed. Weeks later a couple of younger members of the music ministry departed…and finally, I was released, after literally being begged by several long-time members not to go (they must have sensed it coming). If only they understood this church was never one I would have attended, if I hadn’t married into it…although, God certainly had a plan for my time there! He definitely used the pastor and certain members of the body in my life amidst trials; for this I am so grateful! God seemed to use me as an example and vessel: revealing the Holy Spirit and redeeming power of Christ Jesus in their midst! (This from the mouths of others, not my thoughts.)
The moment God released me from this church says it all: Being a lead singer on the worship band made it difficult for me to simply pack up my Bible and go. I never understood the reasoning but most of the band members aren’t Believers, rather paid musicians. One Sunday, I was mentoring a young woman who joined us at the microphone (who is a Believer) on allowing the Holy Spirit to have control (of her voice) so she didn’t stress out over being “perfect.” Overhearing our conversation, a fellow (paid) singer literally laughed in the face of the Holy Spirit. That was it! The release I’d discerned coming for months happened and God was clear – that was my last day worshipping at this church…
People, a word of warning: not every “church” is meant to survive, especially not if it stopped being a place where the Holy Spirit, therefore the Lord, can freely dwell. Jesus was crystal clear about the power of the Holy Spirit falling upon his disciples as they give their lives over to him. If the Holy Spirit is denied and ushered out the door when God attempts to loose it on a place of worship, something is very wrong within those walls. To put it frankly, the hearts of those operating and worshipping within are deceived.
Simply because someone utters the name Jesus doesn’t mean they have a relationship with the Lord. John the Baptist (and Jesus for that matter) preached not within walls, rather out – in public places, in the wilderness, on hill tops. It is high time that churches such as the example given are allowed to fail. It’s time to return the “church” to the purity Jesus intended, and for His true disciples to become voices from the wilderness. Not as forerunners rather unabashed witnesses for the Christ Jesus!
“As it is written, there is non righteous, no, not one. There is none that understand, there is none that seek after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together unprofitable; there is none that do good, no, not one” (Romans 3:10-12)