One can say when judged by their actions and utterances that many 21st century Christian churches believe that the Church has a mandate to take over the world. Actually, this thought of taking over the world was there from the beginning. Then, it was muted. And those with such thoughts kept them to themselves except on that one occasion when they couldn’t help but voice it. Hear what the Lord told them:
Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority” (Acts 1:6-7).
While on earth, Jesus never entertained becoming a king in a world that was already doomed. He demonstrated through His words and actions that there can be no agreement between God’s Kingdom and the kingdoms of the world. Just as He stood up and challenged the religious and political powers in His day, He expects His followers to do the same.
Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone (John 6:15).
Imagine that! Our Lord and Saviour escaping from those who wanted to make Him king! Why did Jesus escape from them?
- He knew that was not part of His mission.
- His Acceptance would have derailed the Mission of God.
- It was a snare by the devil to take His eyes off the ball.
THE MISSION OF GOD
Since the fall of humanity’s first parents, the Mission of God has been to rescue humankind from Satan and his demons. And if that meant sacrificing His Son, so be it (John 3:16). Then on one epochal day in history, it happened: Our Lord and Saviour set up God’s Kingdom on earth after paying the penalty for our sins and freeing us from the clutches of humanity’s archenemy.
having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it (Col 2:14-15).
As humanity’s Saviour and Lord, and King of the Kingdom of God, Jesus commanded His followers (then and now) to preach the gospel and disciple those who believe in His name (Matt 28:19-20). He sent the Holy Spirit to empower those who believe (then and now). About 120 of His followers, who understood, tarried in an upper room in a house in Jerusalem after His ascension into the heavens, until the Holy Spirit came upon them on Pentecost.
Following the revelation of the eschatological Trinitarian Presence on that Pentecost morning, those who had been afraid, powerless, and unsure the day before, became transformed into a fearless band ready to witness and even die as they proclaimed Christ’s resurrection from the dead, His Lordship of all creation, the dawn of the Kingdom of God, and Christ’s second coming (Acts 2).
Those first witnesses (the first members of the early Church) understood the following about the death, resurrection of Jesus Christ, the purpose of the Spirit’s empowerment and the Mission of God:
- God’s Kingdom has been launched on earth.
- The power of evil has been resolutely defeated.
- Spiritual empowerment meant that nothing could stop them from proclaiming Christ’s victory and practicing the ethics of God’s Kingdom.
- As the purchased of God, their lives were no longer theirs to live as they liked.
- As Christ’s followers, they have nothing in common with a sinful world enveloped in darkness.
ABOLITION OF THE LEVITICAL PRIESTHOOD AND THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE PRIESTHOOD OF BELIEVERS
There were two rooms in that Tabernacle. In the first room were a lampstand, a table, and sacred loaves of bread on the table. This room was called the Holy Place. Then there was a curtain, and behind the curtain was the second room called the Most Holy Place (Heb 9:2-3 NLT).
Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart, (Matt 27:50-51 NLT)
The tearing of the curtain separating the most holy place from the rest of the Temple as Jesus gave up His Spirit signified the abolition of the Levitical priesthood and Temple worship because Jesus Christ, the High Priest of the New Covenant between God and humanity, had just entered the most holy place to offer the eternal (permanent) sacrifice for humanity’s sins.
Jesus Christ, “With his own blood–not the blood of goats and calves–he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever” (Heb 9:12 NLT).
From the hour when Jesus released His spirit, sacrifice for sins was abolished; in fact it is an abomination (a type of strange fire like the type offered by Nadab and Abihu–Lev 10:1) to offer sacrifice for sins or to carry out any activity that could suggest that the All-Sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice was insufficient.
Because of this High Priest’s sacrifice, all who acknowledge Him as Savior and Lord have unfettered access to God (Priesthood of Believers).
But now Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the old priesthood, for he is the one who mediates for us a far better covenant with God, based on better promises (Heb 8:6 NLT).
Christ emphasized the equality of believers. As Head of the Church, He has given each believer one or more spiritual gifts for the common good of the Body. Though there are varieties of ministries and gifts (1Cor 12:4-11, Eph 1:11), none is superior to the other.
He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen (Rev 1:6 NLT).
As servants and ministers in the Kingdom of God, all believers are participants in the Mission of God. Every believer is expected to bear witness to Christ’s sacrifice, resurrection, and second coming, in words and deeds.
It is the duty of all believers to:
- Point the unsaved to Jesus (No other name under heaven given for humanity’s salvation–Acts 4:12)
- Teach the saved (those who believe in Him) the doctrines of the Kingdom of God (Matt 28:20).
APOSTATE CHURCH: CREATION OF CLERGY-LAITY AND CHANGE OF GOD’S MISSION
Rather than build on the foundation that Christ and those of the early disciples, Christian leaders began to introduce secular ideas as the Church bureaucratized instead of relying on the Holy Spirit (Christ’s true Representative on earth). A few centuries after the Lord’s death, apostasy was in full bloom as church leaders sought and contested for power.
Believing that they knew the world better than God, apostate Christians decided to change the Mission of God without consulting Him. Just like Lucifer, who wanted to establish a throne for himself above that of God, apostate Christians decided to chart a course that directly opposed that of God. For them, alliance with secular powers was the way to go: why contend with a world that claims it wants to help promote the gospel of Christ? No longer working with the Holy Spirit, they entered into alliances with the religious and secular powers. They convinced themselves that they were acting in the Church’s best interests when their motives were rather selfish.
The greatest of such alliances occurred in the 4th century when the Church in Rome merged with Roman paganism. Initially, the leaders of the Church in Rome were content to perform secular duties with attendant remunerations from the Empire. Later, with the demise of the Roman Empire, the Head of the Church in Rome assumed the seat of the vanished emperors. The Church in Rome had accomplished what Christ could not do: It had taken over the leadership of the Western World without firing a shot. Of course, it would go on to have its own army and to impose its will on emerging empires and territories for many centuries. Hasn’t the church finally conquered the world? But, did the false peace lead to the promotion of the gospel of Christ? The answer is emphatically NO. Rather, it achieved the contrary.
The creation of clergy-laity was a challenge to the Head of the Church and a rejection of His High Priesthood. The clergy (an unbiblical creation) were likened to the OT priests and Levites. There were different classes of priests; the poorer priests had little or no voice while those priests who came by wealth through political appointments had the larger say in the affairs of the church. As the centuries progressed, powerful rich priests and bishops (the clerical aristocrats) owned as much if not more lands than some members of the ruling class (nobles).
- God’s word was suppressed. Only the clergy could read and interpret the Bible
- Introduction of a priestly class that claims to be the continuation of the Levitical priesthood.
- The world went into the period in world history called the Dark Ages. It was not so called for fun; it was indeed dark.
- Introduction of unbiblical doctrines–God’s word supplanted by questionable traditions
- Emergence of Islam (an Anti-God religion) and the loss of many territories that were formerly under some form of Christian influence to Islamic one.
- Wars, internecine conflicts, rumours of wars, pillages, killing and mayhem became the norm.
- Persecution of Bible-believing-practicing Christians: No one could challenge Rome and its Pope and live to tell the tale.
From the dawn of modernity to now, there has been no let up in attempts by Christian denominations to covertly (sometimes overtly) run the affairs of countries and empires. Because they propagate syncretistic gospels (mixtures of Christian doctrines with worldly thoughts and cultural beliefs), they gain large followership. They also have affected worldly policies, sometimes for good. However, because they preach mostly powerless messages and live worldly lives, their followers cannot be said to be followers of Christ.
Many Christians believe that they (Christians) can transform the world if only they were allowed to run its affairs. That is exactly the antichrist’s mindset; it is the reason many Christians will be his most vocal supporters when he is revealed. Are you doubting this? Well, how come many Christians have been going to bat for politicians, irrespective of their beliefs and actions? Let us say that Brother John is a card-carrying member of a political party who also says he is a Bible-believing-practicing Christian. His party supports same-sex marriage and abortion on demand. He defends his position when questioned that though he is a member of that party, he does not endorse everything in the party platform. There is one word for him: he is a hypocrite.
We have another case. Sister Jane is a card-carrying member of another political party who also claims to be a Bible-believing-practicing Christian. Her party, known for its connections with xenophobic groups and with no sympathy for the poor, favours giving tax breaks to the rich while denying basic health services for the poor and the needy. Confronted, she says that though she is a member of that party, she does not endorse everything in the platform. There is one word for her: she is a hypocrite.
The situation is no different for those who are members of churches. Members of churches are liable for whatever their churches teach and/or promote. It is disingenuous to claim ignorance of that which you are a part of.
21ST CENTURY CHURCHES, PASTOR ARISTOCRATS, AND ENABLERS
Just like the clerical aristocrats in the Dark and Middle Ages subverted the gospel in words and deeds, so are 21st century pastor aristocrats subverting God’s mission. Who are the pastor aristocrats?
They are the jet-owning, flamboyantly dressed, prosperity preaching pastors whose source of income are the tithes and offerings of their church members. Some may claim they have other sources of income. We ask, where did you get the seed money for your presently blossoming businesses? Tithes and church offerings?
These pastor aristocrats continue to cause grave harm to the Body of Christ. Many of their members foolishly believe their teachings on prosperity. They continue to give and give money in the hope of becoming rich. In their hearts, they believe that they are serving God but in reality, as enablers of these pastor aristocrats, they too are enemies of the gospel.
TRUE FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST WILL ALWAYS FACE PERSECUTION
Did the Lord tell His followers that they would preach the gospel in a peaceful environment? In fact, He told them the contrary:
“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the One who sent me (John 15:18-21 NLT).
I find it suspicious when someone says she has never faced persecution (overtly and or covertly) from both human beings and demons but claims to be a Bible-believing-practicing Christian. The only reason such claimants never get persecuted is because they have not truly separated from the world. Trust me, the day they make that no-going-back decision and purpose to follow Jesus, no matter the cost, they will begin to experience what the Lord was saying above.
The presence of God turns a sinner’s life upside down. Sinner becomes saint and all she thought she knew and held dear or sacred are exposed for what they are: immaterial and of no consequence in the Kingdom of God. Saint stops being one if he goes back to doing and/or believing those things he had held dear before meeting Jesus. Being born again means forsaking all (goals, ambition and even life itself) for Jesus. How do we know we are truly born again? The kingdom of darkness instigates attacks using family, friends and co-workers. When those fail to discourage the saint, Satan and his demons launch spiritual attacks to weaken the saint’s prayer life and to get him to sin. The more committed the saint becomes, the more ferocious the attacks. But no matter what the saint passes through, God’s grace is sufficient. A sanctified life is sine quo non to effective witnessing.
One important lesson from Church history: Spirituality increases fastest under persecution and diminishes most under a false peace and illusive prosperity such as we have now in many parts of the world.
THE WAY FORWARD
The night is far spent, the day is at hand. Therefore let us cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armor of light (Rom 13:12).
The night is far spent according to the Scriptures. The time has come for saints to answer the call of God. Let us call a spade a spade. No more dissimulation. No more hypocrisy. While you and I are dithering, many are going into Christ-less eternity because we are being too nice. We are afraid to take the bull by the horns. Yet, we desire to live eternally in Him. We could be sharing abode with one of the apostles or an OT prophet someday. Yet, we are too cowardly. We love our present comfortable situation in our churches. All we have to do is go to church on Sundays and fellowship days, pay our tithes and give large offerings. Indeed!
You are truly a Bible-believing-practicing Christian. God knows you and has been directing your parts. When you spend time in His presence, you come out fully refreshed and ready to go all out for Him. But when you go to your church on a fellowship day, something takes away that joy and oftentimes you leave the service depressed. You cannot put your finger on it or you do not want to confront the truth: God’s presence is not in your church. Oftentimes, you have quietened that small still voice that says all is not well. How can I leave my church, you ask of no one in particular. After all God has not told you specifically to leave. But He has: His word is there for you to follow. God does not deliver us from our friends and the things we like but only from our enemies and those things we dislike.
What is a church?
A church is an assembly of persons–it can be in a house, a building or an open place. Saying a place or house or building is a church does not mean it is for Bible-believing-practicing Christians to attend. A truly Christian church could comprise two or three persons. It could also number in the thousands.
For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them.” (Mat 18:20 NLT).
Christ is in the midst of those who follow in His steps. He is not in the midst of those who profess His name but deny Him in every other way through their teachings and lifestyles. A follower of Christ can never be comfortable in the midst of unbelieving Christians and/or sit under the teaching of pastor aristocrats.
And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near (Heb 10:25 NLT).
The above verse is what pastor aristocrats and false prophets have used to hold their followers captive. Some warn their followers not to attend services in other churches while others discourage their flock from reading books not prescribed by them. Often, those books are written by them. Most controlling church leaders do God a great disservice: They have taken over the role of the Holy Spirit.
What stops you as a Spirit-filled and Spirit-directed Christian from starting a fellowship in your house? The first Pentecost happened in an upper room in a house. The second Pentecost (Azusa in 1906) happened in a house. In fact, Brother Seymour had just been driven away from his church for daring to preach on Spirit baptism.
God has not given you those gifts to squander in churches where His Spirit never was or had left. He wants you to listen to His voice and never to second guess His leading. Not everyone will be called to start house churches. Your calling may be to stand up to the leadership in your churches and correct them just like Brother Paul corrected Brother Peter in the Book of Acts. Yet, others may be called to leave the cities and go to the villages to minister. Recall the first disciples did not all go the same place: some went to Egypt, others to Cyprus, some to Rome and yet others to the far East.
Seek the Lord’s face and as you pray, He will reveal His will for your life. And whatever is His will for you is what is best for you.
May the Lord guide you and may He reveal His will for your life as you seek His face, In Jesus Name, I pray.
*All Scripture quotations are from the New King James Bible unless where otherwise stated.