Wrapping Up the "NINE LIES"
-by Andrew Strom.
This series of articles has provoked by far the largest response of any in the history of this List. There have been literally thousands upon thousands of emails about it sent to me within just a few months. Incredible, really.
So what was it that provoked all this comment? A lot of it was simply the desire to either strongly agree that "CHANGE" was needed on a large scale - or to defend the status-quo. Some even argued that the issues being discussed did not matter at all.
You mean it doesn't matter that the position of "pastor" today pretty much replicates the old Catholic "Priest" position - and is treated basically the same? It doesn't matter that this "Clergy/Laity" divide is still alive and well in the church?
And it doesn't matter that church buildings were never built by the early Christians at all? - Many wrote to me and said I was making a mountain out of a molehill with this one. "The building is just a shell," they told me. But my point was that our buildings are the CENTER- PIECE of the denominational DIVISIONS that we have today. -And they also keep us hidden away from the very people we are called to reach.
Does it really matter that NO-ONE in the Bible ever became saved or 'born-again' by asking Jesus into their heart or 'repeating a little prayer'? Does it matter that ENFORCED 10% Giving (or "Tithing") was never preached to Christians, or that apostles and prophets ran the church rather than pastors? Does it matter that there were no Bible-colleges or theology degrees to help clever young men get trained "in their heads"? (-Rather, the leaders were NON-educated fishermen and tax collectors who had been transformed in their HEARTS).
Does any of this matter at all?
Does it matter that virtually nothing we do today was done like that in the original church? Our structures, our preaching, our priorities, our systems, our training, our GOSPEL - none of them seem to bear more than a passing resemblance to the Bible. In every way we are UTTERLY DIFFERENT from the church founded by Jesus and the apostles. When you take these issues one by one they may seem insignificant. But when you add them all up - can anyone tell me why we don't just call ourselves a DIFFERENT RELIGION and be done with it? I mean, we are virtually nothing like them, are we?
We talk a lot about "getting back to the book of Acts" today. But what if it involves removing all this junk? Who's going to take out the garbage? -Is anybody really prepared to pay that kind of price? The rejection? The bitterness? The hatred?
Revival is one thing. "Reformation" is quite another. You can get killed with Reformation. -Go ask Martin Luther.
One thing I am convinced of. -There needs to be a large "ground- swell" of ordinary people desperate for 'CHANGE' for Reformation to succeed. And I'm not sure that we see that yet. There is certainly the beginnings of it. But I don't think it is enough. And I don't know what will bring the breakthrough. There needs to be a widespread sense of desperation. I think it is growing, but I don't know how long it will take. And I, for one, am not about to sustain a one-man crusade to keep the pot stirring until then. A 'groundswell' is God's business - not mine.
But I am truly convinced that there must be 'Reformation' along with the coming Revival. There must be a new wineskin, otherwise we will just find ourselves with another 3-year Revival, like so many that have gone before. Old wineskins leak. -That is the lesson of history. They cannot preserve a Revival. As an historian I can tell you that the most long-lasting moves of God ALWAYS had a strong element of 'Reformation' about them. If a 'new wineskin' was created then sometimes they were able to last for an entire generation. Glory to God! Can you imagine that?
I am convinced that for the last 500 years, since the Great Reformation, God has used each wave of Revival to restore the church more and more to its original state. The first things He restored were 'justification by faith' and the 'priesthood of all believers'. Then in later moves of God we see the teaching of the 'new birth' and 'baptism by immersion' and 'holiness' being restored. Huge movements burst forth, evangelizing the earth and restoring
lost Biblical truths. Just over the last century alone, the original "Baptism of the Holy Spirit" and all the gifts have finally been restored to the church. And since the 1960's virtually every Revival that has occurred around the world has been a full-on Holy Spirit- filled Revival full of signs and miracles from God.
All the pieces are in place for a last great push - a full return to the simplicity, the purity and the power of the early church. Despite all the advances, we have never seen an actual 'Book of Acts' church in all her raw beauty, holiness and power. Remember, Jesus is returning for a church that is "without spot or wrinkle or any such
thing". I am praying that this coming Revival will see the end of the 'Reformation' process that has been ongoing now for 500 years. I pray that this will be the one that sees the final abandonment of all that is of 'Religion' - and a return to the pristine purity of the original.
When this process is complete, I believe that ONLY THEN can Jesus return for His beautiful Bride.
But all the timing is God's. And much preparation of HEART is needed, along with structural change. In fact, as I have always emphasized, it is the HEART issues that are the most important things.
As I said, all the pieces are now in place. Will you pray with me for one last great Revival and Reformation, my friends?
[A BOOK of the whole "Nine Lies" series (and more) will be out shortly].
God bless you all!
Kindest regards in Christ,