The Church Today – Part Two
In 2005 George Barna wrote a bestselling book called “Revolution.” He was giving us a critique of the Church in the United States. However, I believe his comments and observations hold true for the Church in many of the world’s nations. Here are some of the points I took out of the book when I read it…
A> A quiet revolution is rocking the Church, though many are unaware of what is happening.
B> The quiet revolution is about recognizing that we are not called to ‘go’ to church. We are called by the Lord to ‘be’ the church
C> Modern statistics and research is showing us that the institutional Church has little to no ability to transform the lives of God’s people. It also has virtually no influence on our culture
D> The Church that we see, know, and belong to bears little to no resemblance to the Church as set out for us in the New Testament
Barna’s facts and figures sounded an alarm that has, in my opinion, been largely ignored. Those who lead the church simply fought against what the author thought the statistics and trends were stating. Those who meet as believers outside the traditional church simply were not interested as they had already given up on the institution and had moved on the other expressions of the Church.
But, something is happening in our day. The wind of God is blowing. Some are calling it “revival.” But, I sincerely do not think that what God is doing and about to do can be called a revival when we look at the classic and biblical understanding of revival. In fact, I would hesitate to give what is happening a name … it is simply God’s Spirit moving and doing what He believes is needed for the Church to thrive and fulfill its purpose and not just survive as it is apparently its focus today.
I am a strong believer that Christianity is about encountering God. This is how the believers in the early Church entered the Kingdom. They encountered the Living God. The early apostles had encounters with the resurrected Jesus and became born again. Paul who was Saul, a Pharisee, encountered God on the road to Damascus and became a believer. Hundreds encountered the Living Jesus at the same time – Paul states 500 at once on one occasion.
Today, many who call themselves believers have not encountered God. The have accepted a series of true facts about Jesus: His life and teachings, His death and resurrection. And, with this head knowledge have prayed and asked Jesus to come into their life and be their personal Lord and Saviour. Regretfully they did not have a heart encounter with God who is love (1 John 4:8) but simply accepted some information (head – not heart) about Jesus and agreed that it was right and made sense. They have a head knowledge and thus “believe.”
Not true. Not enough. Not born again. The Bible states in the Book of James that “the demons believe” who Jesus is and what He did and accomplished through His death and resurrection. They are not going to heaven. To be truly born again one must have a life-changing, transformational encounter with the Living God as found and known through Jesus Christ. He must touch the heart supernaturally and we must respond. When we hear the information that is contained in the Good News we do need to understand what the truth is. However, then we must recognize the moving of the Holy Spirit in our heart and respond to the conviction that He is bringing. The correct response to this conviction is ‘godly sorrow’ that leads to repentance. This repentance is when the heart and mind change, acknowledge that we are truly sinners separated from God and on our way to hell when we die. Then, as we pray, our heart is transformed and changed and we become born again.
Paul states it this way:
2 Corinthians 7:8-10 (NASV) “For though I caused you sorrow by my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it—for I see that that letter caused you sorrow, though only for a while— I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.”
In the early Church you see this “conviction with godly sorrow and repentance leading to salvation” on a regular basis. An example would be in Acts, Chapter two after Peter preached the first sermon of the early Church:
Acts 2:37-38 “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
Note the key – repentance.
This is the key – an encounter with the Living God when the Holy Spirit convicts and we are “cut to the heart” knowing deep in our soul and spirit that we are sinners and that God is a holy God. And, that God, our heavenly Father, while we were yet sinners loved us so much that He sent His Son to pay the penally for our sin (Death) so that we could receive His life, His forgiveness, and a supernatural ability to have a relationship with Him now and forever (see: Romans 6:23b and John 17:3).
This is the Gospel of the Kingdom. We have been preaching the gospel of salvation which isn’t even a gospel.
Then, after this initial encounter of entering into the Kingdom (Colossians 1:13) we then experience Jesus and His love on a daily basis because we are His Church and obeying His voice and moving to fulfill His purpose for the Church that everyone on Planet Earth will hear the good news of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
Matthew 24:14 “And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
We don’t need a “revival.” We need to raise many who call themselves born again believers from spiritual death because they are simply deceived and are cultural Christians holding to an outward form of religion and yet denying the life-changing power of the message.
We need a resurrection that leads to a revolution.