A Reason to Leave a Church


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     We know that Jesus’ ministry on this earth lasted three years. In three years he took common men; we know that one betrayed him; but with eleven men he literally changed the world. In John 14:12 Jesus speaks about the greater things that we are called to do. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” (KJV) The word works here is the Greek Word, ἔργον literally meaning, “To work. Work, performance, the result or object of employment, making or working. Labor, business, employment, something to be done.”[1]

     Salvation is not depended on works. Christians are not going to be subject to the Great White Throne Judgment of God over the lack of works (Revelation 20:11-15). The Great White Throne Judgment is the final verdict on who is going to hell and who will spend eternity with the Father. We will, however, be subject to the Judgment Seat of Christ.

Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him.10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:9-10 (KJV)

     The word accepted in verse nine is the Greek word euárestos, meaning, “Well–pleasing, acceptable.”[2] Again, this is not an issue of salvation and this is not an issue of love; this is the Bible encouraging us to live our lives in a way that it is pleasing before the Lord. Which means that we also have the ability to displease the Lord with our actions. We must understand that we were created for good works according to Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (NIV) Each one of us as Christians have things to do.

     This takes me to begin to address the heart of this article. Let me start with a couple question, 1) what does soldiers train for, what is the goal of their training? Can a soldier spend five, ten, fifteen plus years and never be ready for deployment in times of war? Would they even make it that long in the armed forces without being ready for battle? The Bible describes us as soldiers in many direct and indirect ways.[3] In 2 Timothy 2:4 tells us, “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” (NKJV) We are soldiers for Christ and we are called to please the Father and as Christians, we will be judge for what we do or not do for him.

     The church has a Biblical obligation to equip the saints for the work of the ministry.[4] This is not a game or a recommendation; the church has an obligation to train his people and get them ready for deployment. A.B. Bruce offered three stages of discipleship in his classic book, The Training of the Twelve, 1) Declaration, 2) Development and 3) Deployment. Early and Dempsey illustrated these three stages in a diversity of ways. Declaration asks will you believe in Jesus? Development asks will you follow Jesus and Deployment asks will you go for Jesus?[5] The first step is identified with coming to Jesus, the second step is identified with being with Jesus and the third step is going for Jesus.[6]

    I have seen countless times, the church’s failure to properly disciple and get God’s people ready to go for Jesus. Statistics show the hypocrisy and the indifference that many churches truly have for the Great Commission. In 2015 Barna found that nine out of every ten Christians recognized that discipleship is important.[7] However, 52% of church leaders believed that the most effective method of discipleship is to be done individually.[8] The same study showed that when asking the congregation concerning how they prefer to be disciplined, the clear majority, 37%, preferred to be disciplined on their own.[9] These statistics are not only alarming but they are also showing the true condition and attitudes of the church towards discipleship and a diabolical trend to redefine, secularize and come up with new ideas of discipleship that are a far cry from the biblical mandate.

     The local church fights hard to retain its members; the church is finding satisfaction in the size and beauty of the building and the number of members, while totally ignoring our ultimate call as disciple makers who are responsible for getting God’s people ready for deployment. This sad reality often forces mature believers out of local churches. Beloved, there is only so much you can do in a building; there is not enough to do inside the four walls you call church. We must prepare our people to go for Jesus. If you have been a Christian for more than three years and, I know some of you have been a Christian for 5, 10 and 15 plus years, and you are not ready for deployment, your local church failed you miserably. That miserable church failure is also making many of you miserable, as you are not experiencing the joy of doing what God has called you to do (Matthew 25:14-29).

     I am asking you to reconsider what you are and not doing for Jesus. Christ will judge you and me for our good works, bad works and/or lack of works. No pastor on earth has the authority to hold you back from doing your part for the kingdom of God. His main responsibility is to train you, to get you ready and to deploy you to go for Jesus. If he is training you, but you are not ready, that is one thing, but if he is not doing so, get out of there! We are called to obey God above men. On this earth nobody has the authority to stop us from preaching the gospel to the lost and, nobody has the authority to stop us from doing good works. Jesus stated,

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)

For many of you reading these words… it is time to GO FOR JESUS!

 

 

[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[2] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

[3] Ephesians 6:11-17 and 2 Timothy 2:3

[4] Ephesians 4:12

[5] Dave Early and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is… How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence, 58-60

[6] Ibid., 60

[7] Barna Group, The State of Discipleship: Research conducted among Christian adults, church leaders, exemplar discipleship ministries and Christian educators, (Colorado Springs: The Navigators, 2015), 44

[8] Ibid., 49

[9] Ibid., 44

Discipleship and a Healthy Church


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Introduction

             Some times, especially after you pass forty, you wake up in the morning feeling a certain pain with no idea of what generated such pain. You may wake up in the morning with a cold, feelings of nausea, etc. These are symptoms that are announcing that something in your body is not right at the moment. Many times we ignore those symptoms. There are also diseases that are lethal; however, they present no symptoms until, perhaps, it’s too late.

            Biblically speaking, it will never be too late for the church. The church will make it and be all that God says the church will be (Matthew 16:18). Nevertheless, many local churches are suffering from a disease, and even as there are no symptoms, the consequences are lethal. This disease is called, lack of discipleship. It is impossible for any church of any denomination to be healthy without aggressively and intentionally embracing the Great Commission. A million things have substituted this lack of discipleship and it has become a silent killer in the deterioration process of the health of many local churches. Many local churches are indeed dying.

A Healthy Church is the Goal of Discipleship

            Lack of discipleship is the greatest evidence that a church is sick. Dr. Krejcir states,

“This comes from a big problem we have in most churches today, that is the                    tendency of leaders not effectually growing in the Lord and thus do not practice their faith and this dispenses down to the congregation. And the outcome is a church that has missed its point and reason for being; as its people, who Christ has   brought in, go without being taught or discipled because the pastors and leaders  are not being taught or discipled.”[1]

            Jesus’ will for us is to have abundant life (John 10:10). His will is unquestionably good. In Jeremiah 28:11, even under the law; the Scripture describes the good plan that God has for us. What is in question here is not God’s will for us; what is in question is our true condition. The image is unimportant; the size of the building is unimportant and how large our membership is, is unimportant. The question here is, are we healthy according to Scripture?

            Every Sunday, for the most part, somebody is preaching; on Wednesdays, for the most part, somebody is teaching. So what are we missing? Jesus came to make us free according to John 8:32. He did not come to do a half way job; Jesus came to make us whole (Matthew 9:20-22). I am afraid that we have lower the standards and are skipping discipleship for lukewarm approach to the Gospel.

Examining my Personal History with Local Churches and Denominations

“In brief, the lesson in understanding what Jesus meant by “all that I commanded   you” at the end of Matthew’s Gospel is a call to strive for a closer and more   precise interpretation of Jesus’ teaching and commands in light of the circumstances in which they were given. “Teaching them to observe” requires no less than the disciples’ best efforts in understanding Jesus’ intent when He gave  each of those   teachings.”[2]

            I don’t know what is it that is so much moving us away from what we are called to do in our local churches. Honestly is frustrating! Many things in Scripture are hard to understand, but not the Great Commission. May be is the fact that discipleship requires two foundational requirements: 1) For us to remain in God’s Word and not live this life base on our opinions (John 8:31), and 2) to deny ourselves and to carry our cross (Matthew 16:24).

            In my life as a Christian my journey has taken me through diverse denominations. I have been a part of three nondenominational churches; one of these churches, a strong multicultural church. I have been a part of four major Pentecostal denominations. The nondenominational and all the Pentecostal churches I have been a part of are considered proud charismatics. I have also been a part of one Full Gospel Baptist Church (Mostly Black), and one Southern Baptist Church (Mostly white). I have also pastored two local churches; one under the Assemblies of God and the other independently. My journey has even taken me through a very short season with the “Organic Church” (Home Church). I honestly thank God for this journey that have also taken me through three states: Florida, North Carolina and now Alaska.

            Through all these churches I have seen one common sickness, none of these churches are really embracing the Great Commission; that is also including the two churches I pastored. For some, the idea of making disciples is limited to a disciple class, a far cry from what the Great Commission truly demands. When it comes down to divisions, confusions and backbiting the Pentecostal/Charismatic churches, by far, lead the chart.

            In regards to the balance between passion and emotionalism and Sound Doctrine and orthodoxy, again the Pentecostal/Charismatic church, by far, places the emphasis on emotions, experience and feelings. Also, the Pentecostal/Charismatic wing of the church seems to be quickly departing from orthodoxy and strongly embracing opiniondoxy (I made this word up, but you get the point).

            I have to make a few points very clear here. I am aware that not everybody in the Pentecostal/Charismatic wing of the church are guilty or partakers of my previous assessments. I have never known a man who study, honors and live out the Word of God more than the man who led me to Christ, that is, my brother in Christ and friend, Doug Berrenguer who is a longtime Pentecostal. I also have to make an honorific mention to my Pentecostal brothers and sisters in North Carolina who continue to honor God’s Word as the ultimate authority.

            However, there is a horrendous and ridiculous concept out there that teaches that embracing sound doctrine, theology, orthodoxy and dogma are a violation of the flow of the Holy Spirit. Even as I have seen that concept before, I never saw it as clearly as I did here in Alaska. What we are seen is the divorce of the Word of God and the Spirit of God; this is a demonic approach and a false teaching that is opening doors to a lot of foolishness in the Body of Christ.

            The reality is that Discipleship is inexistent. For the most part churches meet twice a week. Outside of church services or church related activities, we do not see our pastor or our brothers and sisters. Beloved, that is not discipleship!

            It is extremely difficult when you are a part of a charismatic church, to bring a degree of structure. Many churches passionately resist any formal study of theology or Christian seminary of any kind. So I asked myself, could the church in general be reformed? I have not seen much reformation taking place through church history. People are set in their ways. Many of these local churches are unhealthy; they are filled with divisions, jealousy, hypocrisy and horrendous theology. Nevertheless they view themselves as healthy. Some are feeling the pain, but are ignoring the symptoms that something is wrong. They continue to insist in whatever they learned and whatever their denomination stands for above what the Word of God establishes as truth.

            Just as we make excuses and refuse to go to the doctor until indeed is too late. Four thousand churches are closing every year here in the US. Out of the 250,000 protestant churches in the US, 200,000 are stagnant or experiencing no growth.[3] Are we healthy or are we suffering from a silent killer disease?

Two Areas We Must Focus on Immediately

            Earley presents a very practical tool for assessing the health of a church; I believe that two of these elements need immediate implementation. 1) We need to teach the whole council of God with a viewpoint towards application. It seems like churches and denominations get a hold of one theme and that is all they preach and teach. Some focus on the prophetic, some focus on material prosperity, some focus on the baptism of the Holy Ghost and so on. The focus should be the whole council of God without partiality. 2) We must encourage leaders to understand their role as equipping and empowering saints. According to Barna, 52% of church leaders believe that people can be disciple on their own.[4] In the case of some of the Pentecostal churches I have been a part of, there is absolutely no equipping of the saints because it is all delegated and placed on the experience of the Baptism of the Holy Ghost. Many feel that if you are baptized in the Holy Ghost you are ready; if you are not, you are not ready. I don’t take anything away from the vital importance of the Holy Ghost in effective ministry and in our lives in general, but we can’t ignore our biblical responsibility in the discipleship process. Leaders for the great commission are intentionally developed; this is not just going to happen people! It requires work![5]

            Many local churches feel that they are ok, that they are doing what they are supposed to and that they have somewhat of a different and exclusive call from everybody else. They are waiting on revival or in some new thing that God will do for them while ignoring the Great Commission and Acts 2:42.[6] Perhaps they have not received the memo that there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).

Initial Steps to Fix the Problem

            If the Word of God is not taken serious, if the Word is not the ruler of our faith, there is not much that can be done. That is the initial step; Jesus states that in order for us to be his disciples, one of the nonnegotiable requirements is to remain in the WORD (LOGOS) (John 15:7)

            We must assess the people in our congregations in regards to their spiritual levels. We must assess the church in regards to our health as a body and implement an aggressive program of teaching what the meaning of the great commission really is, what Jesus commands and how to follow what He commands. We must aggressively promoted and implemented small home groups with trusted and mature leaders to implement a curriculum of the great commission and meaningful fellowship outside of the four walls of the church.

Conclusion

             We have a discipleship crisis in America. The statistics are alarming. Discipleship is not a complicated topic in the Bible; it is in fact a matter of obedience. Everything we need to know about discipleship is already written in Scripture. God’s will is for the church to be healthy, for the church to equip saints, for disciples to be developed and send out to continue to fulfill the Great Commission. The focus is on what we are teaching; we are supposed to be teaching all that Jesus command; but we seem to focus on everything else, but that.

           My personal situation in ministry and in my relationship with certain denominations is at the end of the road. The Word is resisted, emotionalism, materialism and this lukewarm approach to the Gospel that I am witnessing is not an isolated case. I am not giving up on Jesus, I am not giving up on the church, but I am giving up on this institutionalize and ineffective system that is not design to establish true discipleship, but to resist it.

              The warning here should also be point out, even as the system is mess up, even as there is a need to get out of many of these institutionalize churches, we must be careful in not jumping into these “Alternative Groups” that claim authenticity while divorcing God’s Word as vital in our walk as Christians. We must avoid any group that disregard God’s Word for outrageous statements that could not even be found in the Jehovah witness Bible. Again, pursue orthodoxy and runaway from opiniondoxy.

 

[1]           Richard J. Krejcir, What Makes a Church Healthy and Unhealthy, http://www.churchleadership.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=44960&columnid=4545

[2]           Robert L. Thomas, The Great Commission: What to Teach, http://www.tms.edu/m/msj21a.pdf

[3]           Jack Wellman, Why We Are Loosing So Many Churches in the United Staes, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2013/10/26/why-we-are-losing-so-many-churches-in-the-united-states/

[4]           Barna Group, The State of Discipleship: Research conducted among Christian adults, church leaders, exemplar discipleship ministries and Christian educators, (Colorado Springs: The Navigators, 2015), 49

 

[5]           Dave Early and Rod Dempsey, Disciple Making Is… How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence, (Nashville: B&H Academy, 2013), 212-213

[6]           And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Acts 2:42 (NKJV)

Lessons From My Firewood Sheds


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I know very little about building anything; but I do enjoy working with wood. These days I have been working very hard building a couple of firewood sheds. I build a smaller one first with no problems. However, after I finished the second one, which was double in sizes, I discover a serious problem.

         In Fairbanks, Alaska, unless you live close to the city and are able to pay big money for heating cost, you must prepare for the winter. I am ready for this upcoming winter, but no way near ready for the following. This is my third year in Alaska and this is the first summer I enjoyed something else other than cutting trees, splitting and staking firewood. I spend a great deal of time riding my bicycle. Then, as I was getting ready to start cutting, splitting and staking, I got hit with a surgery (Appendix) and a blood clot on my left leg.

         So now I must work smart and recover some time in my quest for preparing for the next winter. After staking just one forth of the firewood into my brand new firewood shed, one of the 2 by 6 in the foundation collapsed. It was already late at night and no time to deal with that issue. Through the night a slept well, but woke up a few times thinking about and easy way to fix the problem.

         It crossed my mind to place a few concrete blocks underneath the shed to avoid any further damage and forget about it until next year. After all, the firewood stayed nice and stack. But then, I considered the fact that I was not even half way, in terms of the amount of firewood I needed to stack and that further damage to my shed was going to be unavoidable. I thought about getting my SUV’s jack and lifting the whole thing with firewood and everything and then place the concrete blocks underneath. I was trying to avoid having to take all that wood out of the shed. But I also considered that lifting that damage area with all the wood in it could have cost more damage. So, I concluded that there was no way around this.

         I woke up early the next day and began the process of emptying the shed all over again. Thank God I was not alone, my good friend Patrick Keyser, whom I share a home office with, came and helped me. We were done in no time. I then used my SUV’s jack, lift up the shed and placed concrete blocks and treated wood underneath the shed in every corner. Then, with the help of my son Brandon, we stacked the wood again. In a matter of just a couple of hours the issue was resolved and I was back on track to get ready for the next winter.

         There are a few lessons learned in this small story:

1) Perhaps I needed to do a little more research in going from building the smaller shed to the bigger one. Some times we feel like we are ready for the next level, but in reality we are not just yet. The Bible does encourage us to be faithful in the little things (Luke 16:10).

2) In our lives some times we could be facing an issue of not being raise right, or we did not pay attention to our parents or develop bad habits, embrace the culture etc. These are contributing factors that are design to damage our foundation. As the issues of life, challenges, responsibilities and problems pile on, we will eventually crack if our foundation is weak. No matter how good we think we look on the outside; if the invisible foundation is not strong enough a part of us will give in. Speaking about foundations Jesus said the following,

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.

26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.” Matthew 7:24-27 (NKJV)

3) In fixing our foundational issues there is no magic formula. You must work at it. In the Pentecostal/Charismatic community there is a tendency to wait for the Baptism of the Holy Ghost to fix everything. But they neglect the fact that there is an equipping process that must take place (Ephesians 4:12-16). They also neglect that the great commission is all about teaching, demonstrating and living the commands of Jesus. In that we will find our solid foundation. Psalm 18:2 tells us that “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” (KJV)

4) Even as we have to work at it, we must remember that it is the Holy Ghost who makes everything possible; we must rely in him as our helper (John 14:26).

5) Even as we have to work at it and even as the Holy Ghost is our helper, God will also send people our way to help us and to fulfill the “One another” commands. I felt a little overwhelmed with all that is going on; family issues, church issues, working on my masters, work responsibilities and feeling behind in my winter preparation. But God send my dear brother in Christ and friend, Pat Keyser, to encourage and to help me get the job done. I later called my son Brandon and, in no time, before I knew it, the job was complete.

6) We all have issues in our foundation, cracks and weak areas. If we ignore them we will not be able to carry the weight of all that God has for us; but if we trust God, if we obey his voice, he will help us beyond our expectations, equip us, prepare us, restore us, strengthen us and get us ready for the next level.

         I thank God for these lessons today. I thank God that even as I have issues; deep foundational issues, I am not hopeless. Even as I have not arrived, even as I developed some bad habits alone the way, even as I embraced ungodly cultural and family traits, there is still hope for me and there is still hope for you. I may need to get rid of some things, I may even have to empty myself from a lot of junk, but God is getting us ready to pour in us, ALL that we are called to have. Today I am “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our (MY) faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 (KJV) Today I praise the Lord and give HIM glory for the lessons from my firewood sheds.

 

Nobody is Above God’s Word


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You may be the senior pastor, you may be an elder, an old person, you may call yourself a bishop or an apostle; however, even as we are all called to respect each other, we are not called to submit to unbiblical manmade mandates.

         I am aware that we all know in part (First Corinthians 13:9), I am aware that there are things that are hard to understand in Scripture and, I am aware that we all make mistakes. I am talking about those who, even as Scripture is presented to them, they still insist in doing things their way.

         Jesus stated, “…If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;” John 8:31 (KJV). This is the word Logos; the written word. To continue in His Word does not mean that we are perfect, but it means that we honor God’s Word as the fountain of truth, as the ruler of faith and as a compass that always point at what is truth.

         The Apostle Paul encourages us to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (NKJV) Again, the word here is the word Logos. The word “Dividing” here means, “To handle correctly, skillfully; to correctly teach the word of truth.”[1]

         There is a liberalism that continues to manifest and gaining popularity in social media and in some of our pulpits. Is an irresponsible approach to Scripture that totally abandons sound doctrine, orthodoxy, theology and dogma. Is an approach to Scripture that laugh at the concept of the correct interpretation of Scripture; as if such thing is inexistence.

         In the last couple of months I have seen a pastor connecting the original sin to tithing. I have seen ministers teaching a totally off the wall definition of grace as something that we absolutely deserve. I have seen an attempt to divorce the Scriptures from the Holy Spirit. So if you go too deep in the Scripture you are leaving the Holy Ghost behind.

         I heard a man testifying of how he got saved, but somewhat believed later. A man actually argued with me and challenged me to find in Scripture where repentance is necessary in order for somebody to be saved; this is not any man; this is an elder in a church.

         Another man told me that he saw an old lady praying to Allah, but he is convinced that even as that lady is praying to Allah, she is really praying to Jesus so she is also saved; again, this was not just another man, this was also an elder.

         I heard a preacher, a senior pastor, from the pulpit, questioning Paul’s understanding of the blood of Jesus based on his statement on Romans 7:24 “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (NKJV). I saw a very popular minister who keep talking about the “New Thing” called Salomon a grumpy old man after I quoted the Scripture that clearly states that “there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) and the list goes on and on.

         Beloved, we are not called to preach and teach an original message, we are called to preach and teach the same message God gave the apostles. We are not called to seek after the next new thing; we are call to learn what is already established in God’s Word. I am encouraging you to challenge these preachers; don’t be afraid. Especially if you are a family man; protect your family from all these foolishness and question that pastor, held him accountable, ask him where is the scripture to back up his teaching.

         God’s judgment starts with us (First Peter 4:7), not with the world. That is because we have access to the truth and we will be held accountable by that truth. “…For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required…” (Luke 12:48)

 

[1] Spiros Zodhiates, The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000).

Coming out of The Frankenstein Church


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If Satan is the god of this world system and, he is according to Scripture;[1] then should we conclude that everything that is consider the establishment or mainstream in our societies is evil? Everything that does not give glory to God is indeed evil. Even the “good things” in this world, if they don’t give glory to God, that means that they are giving something or somebody else the glory.[2] Everything that points at flesh or at any idol is evil indeed.

         God’s value system, his way of seen and do things is completely different from the ways of the world.[3] We, as disciples of Christ, are not from here; we do not belong to this kingdom;[4] we do not belong to this world.[5] So how can the church ever be mainstream? I have news for you, the true church, WILL NEVER BE MAINSTREAM! The Bible tells us clearly that, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:19 (NIV)

         Even as everything mainstream has haters and people that are not believers opposing them; they are mainstream not necessarily because of popularity, even as popularity is a factor, but because of their access to an enormous amount of power. That power comes directly from Satan who is the god of this world system. Many in the establishment do not know they are employees of Satan, some feel they are doing a great thing; but it does not matter whether they know it or not, Satan is the father of all lies. As God delights in truth[6] Satan stand directly on the opposite side as the father of all lies.[7]

         The church has attempted to be mainstream for centuries. It is that desire for acceptance and popularity from the world that has caused us to compromise the truth. James painted a very clear picture when he states, “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” James 4:4 (NIV). A church that is more preoccupy with trying to gain the world’s acceptance over pleasing God is out of order. We are called, as Christians to come out of this Babylonian secular system; not join them.[8] Anybody that preaches and teaches that we, as Christians are called to change the world system is fooling his or herself. That secular system is not going to go away until God, personally, destroy them. By the way, he will do so in one hour.[9]

         Peter tells us, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;” First Peter 2:9 (KJV) Beloved we are called to be a peculiar people and it is that peculiarity that the world hates. It is that pursue of holiness that causes persecution.

         The reason many of us are not experiencing persecution, in any way, is because we are not pursuing holiness, we are too busy trying to be like the world. Second Timothy 3:12 tells us, “… and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” (NKJV)     The other thing that causes persecution is the preaching of the Gospel; that is because the center of the gospel message is repentance.[10] To tell people to repent is to tell them that they are doing something wrong and to tell them that they are doing something wrong is offensive. First Peter 2:8 tells us, “And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.” (KJV)

         So what has been the church’s response through the years? We are neglecting holiness and we are neglecting the Great Commission. So we come up with a million program and none of them really reach out to all the world (Ethnic groups). The majority of congregations in America are filled with people that look like each other.

         I am convince that the mainstream or, what is known as the institutionalize church, is not the representation of what the church should look like. We do not have to wait hundreds of years for the church to start functioning the way the church is suppose to. That is a lie from hell. The church can function the way is suppose to right now. We have more than enough information in the Bible to do so. Acts 2:42 tell us exactly what we need to be doing and the Great Commission is our Vision.[11]

         I find the following six characteristics of the biblical church to be accurate: as we start with the Great Commission, 1) We reach out to everyone, 2) We teach them the commands of Jesus, 3) We focus on teaching how to abide on those commands by demonstrating, by spending time with each other and by giving others an opportunity to imitate the more mature Christians, as the more mature Christians imitate Christ.[12] This is our hands-on discipleship. In that we are equipping the saints for the work of the ministry.[13] As we step into Acts 2:42, as time goes by, 4) we shift our teaching focus on to the study of the apostles doctrine, 5) we continue to enjoy true fellowship by breaking bread together and 6) we pray.

         This kind of church is available for us right now. We don’t have to wait on a revival or some kind of futuristic event for us to enjoy the fullness of what God has for us in terms of ministry and purpose. Ephesians 3:16-19 tells us, “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.” (KJV)

         There is indeed a fullness available for us right now. Through learning and applying His commands and through learning and applying the original apostles’ teachings, we can achieve, with the help of the Holy Ghost, who is our ultimate teacher[14], this level of fullness that surpasses knowledge.

         The problem is that we have insisted in always adding to the church something else to make it relevant. In that process we are increasingly creating social clubs, carnal Christians who only thing about material things;[15] that is the prosperity gospel and the, “what I can get gospel; a gospel focus on self and not on God.

         The problem is that we always look for the easy way out. Discipleship is hard; it requires the denial of self and the carrying of our cross.[16] Honestly, what flesh wants to volunteers to do that? Discipleship requires that you no longer follow your opinions, but you submit your will to the Word of God as your ruler and your compass of truth. No longer are you guided by your culture, but by the culture describe in the Bible. You can’t be a disciple of Jesus if you do not remain in His Word (Logos).[17] That word “remain” means “to stay, to abide”[18] it is the exact same word given to us in the Great Commission in Matthew 28:20. The king James uses the word “Observe”.

         How can the characteristics of the apostolic church be fulfill in the current institutionalize church system? 1) Is the church truly reaching out to everyone? 2) Is the church teaching the commands of Jesus? 3) How can we imitate our more mature leaders if we only see them in the church or church related activities? 4) When was the last time you heard the words sound doctrine in your church? If you are part of the charismatic wing of the church, especially Pentecostals, words such as doctrine, theology, dogma and orthodoxy may be consider bad words. 5) When was the last time you broke break with another family from the church in each other’s houses? 6) When was the last time you pray with a group of brothers and sisters in your own home?

         The mainstream church has created a system where it is next to impossible to actually do what God has called us to do. We are coming together for a weekly service, not for biblical fellowship. We are not sharing our lives with anybody in the church, as a matter fact, half of the time, if we are honest, we don’t even want to go to church. That is because we are not called to go to church, we are called to be the church and when we go, we are actually called to go and make disciples.

         There is no such a thing as being a disciple of Christ without bringing this thing we call church into the intimacy of our homes and lives. There is no such a thing as independent and individualized Christianity. We have created a monster that has nothing to do with the biblical pattern. We are witnessing a Frankenstein Church, an ugly church with multiple heads and countless arms and legs. We are smelling a rotten church that is infecting and nauseating God’s people.

         Just as the Catholic Church refused to obey the cry for a reformation and the cry to submit to the pattern of God’s Word, the Protestant church is doing the same. Attempts for reformation will fail; that is because Satan is the god of the mainstream, that is including, the mainstream church. Satan has his ruling over this ungodly, secularized church of Babylon. I am convinced that an exodus is coming. The bride will come together under the guidance of the Holy Ghost; we will find our freedom under the banner of God’s love,[19] we will grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord,[20] we shall find our freedom in the application of the Lord’s teachings,[21] we shall be passionate about the diligent study of Logos[22] and we will find life in God’s Rhema.[23] I am ready to exit!

[1] 2 Corinthians 4:4

[2] Philippians 4:20

[3] Isaiah 55:8

[4] John 18:36

[5] John 17:16

[6] First Corinthians 13:6

[7] John 8:44

[8] Revelation 18:4

[9] Revelation 18:10

[10] Matthew 4:17

[11] Matthew 28:16-20

[12] First Corinthians 11:1

[13] Ephesians 4:12

[14] John 14:26

[15] Colossians 3:2

[16] Matthew 16:24

[17] John 8:31

[18] W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, and William White Jr., Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), 521.

[19] Salomon 2:4

[20] 2 Peter 3:18

[21] John 8:31-32

[22] 2 timothy 2:15

[23] Mathew 4:4