As we begin another year, just what are the lessons we have learned from the development and growth of the church over the centuries? Not only must our investigation be biblical, but also historical. Church history has a lot to teach us about what we have or have not accomplished through positioning and influence. While we are campaigning for leadership titles, Jesus is wondering when are we going to fulfill the mandate of discipleship and fellowship.
The early church had a rough start. When 120 people emerged from a secret prayer meeting and announced a new move of God, and converted over 3,000, it was not received with great elation. In fact, persecution, discord, and confusion of the new Faith began immediately. Although miracles were common and the Apostles were charismatic, culture, religion, and government has hindered the growth of the church.
Christianity has always been viewed as a multi-cultured Faith, even though one cultural influence above all others has always dominated the world scene. I use the term ‘Faith” instead of “religion” to emphasize how we view God as opposed to how God has defined himself to His people. Religious viewpoints have been an attempt to define God on our terms, whereas, God has been involving a self-disclosure of Glory throughout human history.
Nations have played their measure in either being the oppressor or the depressed as a result of unethical governments or superior tyrants. If judgment is going to begin with God’s house, then we are viewing the beginning of the end. Fallen leaders and spiritually bankrupt churches are a constant reminder that something is out of sync. Is it God not caring or the church not commanding? Revival is needed. Not another celebration of greatness or a promise of blessing, but a real old fashioned revival where plates are turned down and hearts are melted in the fire of God’s presence.
Instead of putting our energy in seeking God in prayer and worship, we waste time determining what doctrinal viewpoint is accurate; what church is real; and how long will it be before Christ returns for His church. But when the dust clears from all the power-plays, what have we accomplished.
The Lord promised in Genesis 8:22 that there would always be at least two recurring seasons – seed time and harvest. What’s planted in the dark will be rewarded in the light. Jesus used an illustration in Mark 4 of a farmer to describe the word of God as “seed.” A seed with David becomes hidden; with Joshua worth repeating; with Paul unashamed proclaiming; and with the Apostles worthy of dying. A seed that must germinate before it can populate. We are so quick to get to the benefits “Harvest” – we don’t take time to work for the prize.
It is seasons and not years we should really concern ourselves with in this hour. Our misguided attempts at numbering years have failed since there isn’t an accurate system of time only seasons. In our system of numbering time, this is the year, 2012. In the Hebrew system it is 5772. I wonder which year the Lord will honor for prophecy of end-time events.
Finally, there is a need for real end-time priests and prophets in the church. The apostolic age is over and the kingdom age has begun. Real priests are needed to offer acceptable worship to God. Although I understand the reformers rebelling to the corruption in the priesthood of their day, I disagree with their conclusions to change the priesthood to the believers. Effective worship has always been when leadership is in right order. I understand now – Satan has corrupted the church and dismantled the government to minimize the effectiveness of the kingdom message.
I pray we recover from the spiritual spell we have been under and open our eyes to the truth of worship and return to the “awe” of God. Why do you think the church has been moving back to liturgical garments and high worship structure? Why do you think there has been a strong emphasis on apostolic succession and legitimacy of leaders? It involves more than a chain and ring. Once we have determined who is qualified and sanctified, then the Glory will return to the church. I believe there is a call for real priests to offer real sacrifices of praise to a Holy God. Not in place of our “High Priest” – Jesus Christ, but in concert with celebrating the ultimate sacrifice for all time. Priests speak to God for the people whereas prophets speak to the people for God.
There is a need for strong prophetic voices not to predict season – we know that; not to give blessings – we have that; not even to speak direction – we know that. We need prophetic voices to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. No, we need to be reminded of what God has already spoken and deliver us from self-glory and ego boasting.