The Church, Past, Present, and Future #5

The Church Today – Part One

The early Church, as we have seen, saw themselves as truly being “in Christ.” They were pulled loose from the “works” mentality of the Jewish faith and all of the then functioning pagan religions. They were liberated from a guilt complex of never measuring up and never being “good enough.” They were enjoying freedom from a sense of religious duty.

Now that they were “in Christ” and enjoying His unconditional love they were able to walk in freedom and liberty. Jesus Himself said, “Those that the Son sets free are free indeed.” And, they understand that Christ was living in them and that they were “new creatures in Christ.” Thus, they were allowing Jesus to live His life through them as Paul mentioned in Galatians 2:20 where it states, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

This was reflected in their conversation. If you open up the New Testament letters, you will find Paul always addressed the churches he planted – despite what they were going through – with the arresting phrase “holy ones” or “saints.” He saw them as holy “in Christ.”

If you attend a traditional evangelical church, even a Spirit-filled church, listen to and evaluate the next sermon that you hear. Ask yourself this question: “Am I hearing about the glories of Jesus Christ or am I being told what to do to be a better Christian?” The latter is religion and legalism.

In fact, listen to the conversation of the believers before and after the service or during the fellowship time within the service. Do they speak about the goodness and majesty of Jesus? Not likely. 

So we need to recognize that you and I cannot live the Christian life on our own by simply following a set of rules and regulations. The Church needs to again recognize the life of Christ within us and that He is the Head of the Church. We learn to live life by Christ living His life within us – individually and corporately – and living His life through us as we touch others with His love and mercy. Also, we need to recognize that we live the Christian life together as the Church. What is needed in our day, then, is a recovery of what has been lost, and a discarding of what has been picked up along the way as well as a reaching forward to what is still to come. 

We have lost the primitive realities of the Christian faith, and we have picked up a whole lot of things that have nothing to do with Christ. Consequently, we are faced with the business of laying aside old concepts and reaching back to the primitive mind of the early Christians … when the gospel was pure, undiluted, and uncompromised, and the Church after God’s heart was untainted. 

Hebrews 12:26-27 (The Message Version) “His voice that time shook the earth to its foundations; this time—he’s told us this quite plainly—he’ll also rock the heavens: “One last shaking, from top to bottom, stem to stern.” The phrase “one last shaking” means a thorough housecleaning, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered.”

So, we have looked at the Church as we find it in the New Testament. Let’s begin our look at the Church as we generally find it today in our neighbourhood. Then we can have an exciting look at the Church of the future that Jesus is now building.