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sincereheart
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« on: December 17, 2004, 07:34:41 AM »

Escape From Churchianity
by Chip Brogden

It is important that we make a clear distinction between the True Church (the Ecclesia) and the Institutional Church, Organized Religion, or religion in general. The easiest way to begin is to discuss one critical thing that Organized Religion cannot do.
Organized Religion cannot impart Life.
"This is our testimony, that God has given us Eternal Life, and this Life is in His Son: He that has the Son has Life, and He that has not the Son of God has not Life (I John 5:11,12)."
Contrary to popular belief, the Lord Jesus Christ does not live within the matrix of Organized Religion. The Ecclesia, like our Lord, is Wholly Other. I can prove it to you beyond the shadow of a doubt. Can you join a "church" ? Yes, if you meet their requirements for membership. Can you join the Ecclesia? No. You have to be born into it. Or, to be more correct, you have to be born-again into it. It is not a question of joining or not joining, but a question of having Life versus not having Life. "He that has the Son has Life; He that has not the Son has not Life."
Some erroneously believe Jesus founded a movement, or formed a new religion. No, the world already had movements and religions, and would continue to have them. He had no intention of starting a new one. What did He bring us? What did He contribute to the world? He committed Himself to us as our Life.
Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius, or Socrates can bring us good teaching, moral excellence, and religious philosophy. For this they may be commended as rendering help and aid to humanity. But Jesus Christ is different: He brings us Himself as our Life. It is not that He merely transmits some teachings to us, depositing some virtue into the human race, before being taken up into heaven. It is well beyond Him simply being an example for us to follow, the standard by which our morals are measured as we frantically whisper, "What would Jesus do?". No, He Himself came to be our Life. He is Savior, and Salvation. He is Redeemer, and Redemption. He is Healer, and Healing. He is the Giver of Life, and He is Life.
In Him is Life because He is Life. All who are in Him possess Life, and Life possesses them. The Life is in the Son. The Son is in me, and I am in Him. We share in a common Life. "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him (I Corinthians 6:7)."
Everyone together who possess Life are called the Ecclesia, the Church, the Body of Christ. The individual members of the Ecclesia are called Christians. They are the in-Christed ones. They abide in Him, and He abides in them.
~cont.
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sincereheart
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« Reply #1 on: December 17, 2004, 07:36:04 AM »

You ask is not a Christian one who believes thus and so, or behaves thus and so. We answer that they may very well believe or behave thus and so, but the belief or the behavior, while it may assist us in identifying them, is not what makes them a Christian. It is the Life. Certainly, Christians have a core system of beliefs and practices. But the characteristic of a Christian is Life. It is not even "the Lord of my life", implying something apart from Him that I still have control over; it is "the Lord AS my Life."
An intellectual Christianity is what Organized Religion brings. It cannot impart Life. What do I mean by an intellectual Christianity? It is the ABC Gospel. Perhaps you have heard it. Salvation is obtained in three easy steps: "A" stands for "admit you are a sinner"; "B" stands for "believe on the Lord Jesus to save you"; and "C" stands for "confess Jesus as your personal Savior." What is wrong with that? Simply this: there is no Life there. "ABC" will not save us. With "ABC" there is no encounter with Jesus, Who alone is Life. There is only an intellectual acceptance and affirmation of what is presented as "Three Easy Steps". I believe this, I say that, and that makes me a Christian, right? No, it just makes you religious. There are many people who "get religion", but they don't get Jesus.
Organized Religion has caused Christianity to morph into Churchianity, a gospel which is easy to believe in but progressively more difficult to live up to.
Organized Religion can bring doctrine, teaching, and belief. Some of it may be morally excellent and good. Some of it may even sound Biblical, like "Three Easy Steps". Nevertheless, Organized Religion cannot impart Life. Why? Because it has no Life to give. Jesus Christ is the Life. And Jesus does not live within the matrix of Organized Religion. He gives HIMSELF. How can any man, organization, or movement claim to give away another man, much less impart the very Life of Jesus Christ? Only Jesus can give Himself as our Life.
You see, then, that the most anyone can do is point people to Jesus as the sole Source of Life. They may contact Life through us, but we cannot give them Life. To those bound by Organized Religion, Jesus cries "You search the Scriptures, because you think in them you have Life. You are content to read about Me, but you will not come to Me that you may have Life (John 5:39,40, paraphrased)." Come to Me! Not, "Memorize these Three Easy Steps and attend the Church of your choice this Sunday." Come to Me! He is Life.
The Church, the Lord's Ecclesia, is the synthesis of individuals who have the Revelation of Jesus and have come to Him to receive Him as their Life. Here is where the confusion begins. We glibly use the term "church" to describe things which are not The Lord's Ecclesia. A building devoted to religious meetings is called "the church". Attending a religious meeting is called "going to church." Hearing a good message or good music during the religious meeting is called "having church" (a popular tune says "crank up the music, let's have church!"). Becoming a member of the non-profit organization which owns the building devoted to religious meetings is called "joining the church". Taking responsibility as the founder or being voted in as the director of the non-profit organization which owns the building devoted to religious meetings is called "pastoring the church". Making additions to the building devoted to religious meetings or to the membership list of the non-profit organization which owns the building is called "church growth".
Why are we being so facetious and wordy? Why do we choose our phraseology carefully? For the sake of convenience, or just plain laziness, people have grown accustomed to saying "church" instead of "a non-profit organization that owns a building devoted to religious meetings." Whatever nomenclature you decide upon, we are drawing the line and making a distinction between "The Church" and "church". We hope to impress upon you the difference between what people customarily call "church" and what the Lord considers to be "The Church". As demonstrated above, much of what we call "church" is simply Organized Religion. It is not the Lord's Ecclesia.
We simply see things the way we have been trained to see them; we do not see things as God sees them. It is very easy to quantify and describe things in terms of Organized Religion because it is earthy, worldly, natural. Ask someone on the street. What is church? Why, it is that building there with a steeple on top. What is a pastor? The fellow who does the preaching. What is a Christian? The folks who read their Bible a lot and pray a lot and go to church a lot - you know, doing good works. You see how easy it is to define. It is tangible, concrete. We can get our hands on that.
But the reality is that everything which makes up the Ecclesia is spiritual, and thus, it is invisible to the naked eye. It is non-corporeal. It cannot be measured by dollars and statistics. Now ask the same questions of someone who knows better. What is church? The Church, the Ecclesia, is the synthesis of individuals who have the Revelation of Jesus and have come to Him to receive Him as their Life. Pray tell, where do I find that? What do I look for? You can't do it, it's like trying to find the wind at 101 North Main Street. It is beyond geographical description; it is everywhere and nowhere. What is a pastor? Someone called to feed the Lord's sheep as an under shepherd of the Chief Shepherd. Huh? You mean preaching? No, not necessarily. You mean a doctor of theology? No, not really. Oh never mind: what is a Christian? Oh that's easy, someone who is in Christ. What do you mean "in Christ"? Don't you mean "believes in Christ?" No, I mean IS in Christ, in union, one with Him. So what does THAT look like? How many chapters of the Bible do they read per day? How long do they pray? How often do they attend church? It defies explanation because the truth is it has nothing to do with the external, only the internal. Like the wind: you can see the effects of it but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it goes; so are they which are born of the Spirit (John 3). This invisible Life is the characteristic of the Ecclesia. When you can capture the wind in a bag then you can stuff Christians into a building and call it "church". " Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you (Luke 17:21)."
So, from our vantage point here on earth, Organized Religion can be easily seen, felt, touched, experienced, quantified, denominated, characterized, categorized, analyzed, and explained. We can chart its progress and hang the data up on the wall, point to it and say yep, we've got this many million converts here, and this many million members there. Church growth is up (or down), we collected this many billions of dollars last year, and in relation to the rest of the world's religions we rank number whatever. We've got this many thousands of churches in this part of the world, we have this many thousands of pastors and Christian workers, and we've translated the Bible into this many different languages.
Meanwhile, what drives the Real Church, the Ecclesia, is invisible, spiritual, ethereal, in the world but not of the world, hidden, veiled, hard to describe in terms we can understand. We can't generate the data and hang it up on the wall. Even those who know what the Ecclesia is sometimes have difficulty expressing themselves. Ask them where to find the Church of which they so longingly speak, and they are apt to reply, "I'm not sure if I know where the Church is, brother, but I sure know where it ain't!"
Now imagine that the Lord wakes you up one night and says, "Come up hither, and I will show you the Church." You expect Him to carry you down the street to the Family Worship Center or across the country to where the crowds say they are experiencing revival; but instead you find yourself rising high into the air, leaving the earth behind, and in the blink of an eye you travel beyond the edges of the temporal universe and into the spirit realm, seated with Christ in heavenly places, there in the throne of God.
Seated with the Lord and looking back down upon the world, we find from this perspective that the cathedrals, the church buildings, the worship centers, the sanctuaries, the denominational offices, the seminaries, the tithes and offerings, the membership drives, the movements, all vanish from sight. Everything melts away. He does not see the Assemblies of God, the Southern Baptists, the United Methodists, the Lutherans, the Presbyterians, or the Roman Catholics. He does not see Charismatics or Fundamentalists or Bible Belts or Christian Conservatives or Religious Rights. He does not see the building devoted to religious meetings as anything more special or significant than the grocery store or barber shop. He sees pastors, yes, but strangely, He does not see every director of a non-profit organization who owns a building devoted to religious meetings as a pastor. And it is not just the pastors that are different, from our heavenly observation point. Everything seems odd. Backwards. Apostles are not where you expect them to be, and they are not doing what you expect them to be doing; neither are prophets, evangelists, or teachers. Yet, they are right where He wants them to be, doing exactly what He wants them to do. Interestingly enough, He is not concerned with a rise or a decline in church attendance because He does not see the Church as something which can be attended. Hmmmm.
~continued
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sincereheart
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« Reply #2 on: December 17, 2004, 07:38:19 AM »

Standing next to Him we see as He sees. We realize when we look upon Christendom that all God sees there is His Church, the Ecclesia. He deems those who abide in Him, those who possess the Son, as those who have Life. His Church is not declining, it is growing because His Life cannot be contained or restricted. His Ecclesia is outside the matrix. His Church is spiritual, and as such, it is eternal, transcending time and space. Just as He is, and does.
You look upon His Face and see the curve of His smile, so you follow His gaze - and there it is, the living stones and precious gems which make up His Church. You couldn't see them before, because you were right in the middle of it while still on earth. But now, far removed from it all and looking down upon it from the Lord's perspective, you see that the living stones are being assembled together into a brilliant, gleaming, dazzling building which covers the entire earth! An angel stands apart from it, shouting, "100% pure: never touched by human hands!" You zoom in closer and discover that the stones and gems are not literal stones and gems, but people! Wonderful, beautiful, joy-filled people, joined together into a striking mosaic of vibrant colors, a tapestry of interwoven beauty, a medley of lives in perfect twelve-part harmony, all pulsing with His heartbeat, His Life, His Essence. You begin to weep at the unadulterated purity of it and oneness of it. There is no spot, wrinkle, or blemish to be found.
Only God could make something this gorgeous. Only God. Only God. And there in the midst of this wonderful place, you see what makes it so splendid...
There HE is, walking around in the midst of this Temple, adding living stone upon living stone, precious gem upon precious gem, and what do you hear? Singing? Yes. The Living Stones are crying out in praise. And He is smiling, and - whistling! - while He works.
Jesus is building His Church.
Then, as quickly as it began, it is over.
You open your eyes and find yourself back on earth, having returned to your three-dimensional world. It's a sunny day, the birds are singing, the church bells are ringing, and you see men, women, and children walking down the street, carrying their Bibles. You rush out into the road and grab an elderly gentleman.
"Where are you going? What's going on? Why are you so dressed up?"
"Get your hands off me, you crazy idiot! It's Sunday morning, and I'm going to church!"
"You've seen the Church??"
"Seen it? Of course I've seen it. My great-great grandfather helped build that church!"
"No, I mean have you SEEN the CHURCH," you repeat emphatically. "The Church that JESUS is building!"
"I don't know what the devil you're talking about, young man. Now let me alone, or I'll be late!"
You let him go and before you know it you are swept along by the crowd and find yourself sitting within the four walls of a building that calls itself "First Hypocritical Church, International."
The service is just beginning. The pastor approaches the lectern and announces, "Let's all stand and sing!"
Not sure what to do, you join in the chorus:
Know ye not, know ye not ye are the Temple?
Know ye not, know ye not ye are the Temple?
Know ye not, know ye not ye are the Temple?
Ye are the Temple of the Holy Ghost!
At the end of the song the pastor appears at the lectern again and matter-of-factly shouts, "Isn't it good to be in the house of God today!" It's more of a statement than a question. And all the people say, "AMEN!"
Hope rises! The House of God! Maybe he's seen it too! Forgetting where you are, you stand up and excitedly shout "Have YOU seen the House of God, brother?"
"Amen!" He replies. "It's good to be in church this morning!"
"Amen!" the people agree.
"No, wait a minute," you interrupt, mouthing the words ever so slowly and deliberately, as if you were talking to a deaf lip reader. "Have you SEEN the CHURCH, brother? The Church that JESUS is building?"
All heads are turned now, facing you. The old man, one of the deacons, whispers, "That's the weirdo I met on the way to church this morning!"
The pastor is growing impatient. "This IS the church, brother. Hallelujah!"
"But sir," you press, "KNOW YE NOT YE ARE THE TEMPLE???"
The silence is deafening.
~continued
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sincereheart
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« Reply #3 on: December 17, 2004, 07:39:33 AM »


"You are the Temple. WE are the Temple! Jesus is building His Church! I've seen it! It's a wonderful House of Living Stones, filled with His Life! We are the Church that He is building! We are the Living Stones, the Precious Gems! I saw Jesus, and He was smiling and placing the stones together, and..."
Some teenagers on the back row are giggling.
"I've seen it! It's true! The stones... the jewels... it's gorgeous!"
The people are looking at the pastor to see what he will do.
Slowly it dawns on you. You realize that to them you are an alien from another planet trying to communicate something that is so real to you but is totally foreign to the rest of the world.
Desperately you grab the man standing next to you by the shoulders, thinking to shake it into him. "You don't believe me... But it's true! You sing about it... but you don't believe it! YOU ARE THE TEMPLE! You have to believe me! I've seen it! Jesus is building His Church!"
The ushers are making their way over to your place in the pew.
Sweating and shaking, you look around the sanctuary, wild-eyed. "No, something's wrong here. Everything is different... this isn't the Church! I mean, you're calling it church, but this isn't what I've seen at all. No, the Church is... is... One Flock with One Shepherd, not divided up into denominations and sects! It's a mosaic of people! It's a tapestry of rich colors! It's a medley..." You begin to sob. "Listen to me! Know ye not ye are the Temple?!?"
The congregation is uncomfortable and agitated. The old deacon is ashen-faced, glaring at the pastor to put an end to this.
"Friend," the pastor finally manages, "if you'll go with the ushers I'm sure we can better minister to you in private. With every head bowed and every eye closed, why don't we go to the Lord in prayer right now."
While every head is bowed and every eye is closed, except the pastor's head and eyes, the ushers quickly hustle you out the back door and throw you down the steps.
The pastor smiles. "and the church said... AMEN. Amen. You may be seated. Well, praise the Lord. Today my message is entitled, 'What It Means To Be A Christian'. Turn in your Bibles to...".
* * *
~continued
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sincereheart
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« Reply #4 on: December 17, 2004, 07:40:39 AM »


If God would grant you a moment by His side and allow you a fleeting glance at His Church you would at once understand what a pitiful substitute we have in Organized Religion. There is no vanity so deep as religious vanity, nothing more sickening and diametrically opposed to the heart and ultimate purpose of God.
And we who are in Christ Jesus ARE seated with Him in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6).
If God is pleased to grant you this vision of His Church then you will come to appreciate it as a blessing and a curse. A blessing, because to see things as He sees them is true Wisdom and Oneness with Him and His people. A curse, because to see things as He sees them will ruin you for life, for you will never again be able to accept the surrogate, the counterfeit, even the good, at the expense of the Holy. His Church, His Treasure, how holy and pure and wonderful and unspeakable it is! Before you would casually call this thing and that thing "church" just like everyone else does and find it socially acceptable, but now your skin will crawl and your stomach will twist in knots when you hear others call some building the "house of God", knowing full well that His House is not this dead thing made with human hands!
It will not be enough for you to then say: "Lord, the Church belongs to You, not to me, not to anyone. Now I see my mistake. I take my hands off of it, for it is not mine to control or run. I repent of trying to build what you wish to destroy, and destroying what you wish to build. What am I, Lord, but a little stone, a little sheep, a little member of a wonderful Body of Believers? You are building Your Church, and now I will let you do it. At last I see. Only let me find a quiet place to serve You and serve Your people in secret, for I want nothing else for me, but all of it for You."
No, once you see this, once you take your hands off of His Bride, once you stop beating your brothers and sisters in the Name of God, then you will be jealous over His Church with His jealously, and will be so sensitive and so aware of false pastors and false teachers and false evangelists and false prophets and false apostles - yes, all that would abuse and confuse and rape and pillage His People! It is a question of seeing! And see, you will! You will see as He sees, hear as He hears, feel as He feels. "He was angered at their hardness of heart." Without effort, without trying, you will see right through the false, the quasi-faith, the pseudo-spirituality, the whitewashed tombs full of dead men's bones. Once you have had a taste of Real Life, you smell Death a thousand miles away, and your spirit rebels against it, your emotions scream in protest, and you are sick to your stomach with grief, anger, and compassion all at once. "No! This is not the Ecclesia. This is not the Lord's Church. This is a sham. This is bogus. This is nothing but Organized Religion!"
May God have mercy on us, and give us such a revelation of Himself, and His Church, that we may escape from Churchianity and find Life.
We are not suggesting that you challenge the system this Sunday by provoking a public confrontation with some unsuspecting pastor. All the argument in the world will not convince people, nor should we attempt to make people see. Simply allow them to see. Look upon the face of Him who sees things as they are, that others may look into your eyes and see Him as He is. One minute of seeing is worth a lifetime of argument. God will grant us a discerning heart and eyes to see if we will ask for them, and if we are willing to accept both the joy and the burden that accompanies such a revelation.


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« Reply #5 on: December 17, 2004, 09:54:40 AM »

A good post Sincerheart. I hate churchianity and the way it is mistaken for the real thing.. its the whole reason people mistake Christians for "religious" people. They see them attend gatherings that are labelled as "church".

Having said that, believers need to gather together, and if thats done in a building in your local town.. theres no problem with that. heh As long as people realise they could gather in a home and it would be just as suitable and spiritual. Smiley

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Romans 8:28  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
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« Reply #6 on: December 17, 2004, 04:53:00 PM »

Sincereheart,

AMEN SISTER!!!! - Thank you for sharing this wonderful message!

The Real Church LIVES! - THE BODY OF OUR PRECIOUS LORD AND SAVIOUR, JESUS CHRIST!!!!

It makes me happy just to think about the complete peace IN JESUS. All of the tags, labels, denominations, and differences will be gone forever.

I give thanks that we place our trust in JESUS, not a man or a name on a building. The beauty and majesty of the LIVING CHURCH, the CHURCH WHICH IS THE BODY OF CHRIST is far beyond human description.

Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable GIFT, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour Forever!

Love In Christ,
Tom

Romans 10:9  That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
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« Reply #7 on: December 19, 2004, 06:36:44 AM »

Lonely, But Never Alone
by Chip Brogden

There are many in the Body of Christ who are in transition between "going" to church and "being" the Church. The Lord is speaking to many at once and calling them aside from the traditional church building meeting to gather together in homes. The more in tune with the Lord we become, the more dissatisfied and uncomfortable we become with what is being said and done in His Name. Yet, there is an uncomfortable pause between where we used to be and where we are called to be. It is a lonely time in which we will be misunderstood by many that have not seen what we have seen.

What God is impressing upon many of us who are in-between the church as a building and the church as a lifestyle is how to walk ALONE. We must not forsake the assembling of ourselves together when we are able to do so; yet God would have us learn to fellowship with Christ, even it means to take the lonely path.

Many times the desire to find other "like-minded believers" is not a spiritual desire. It is rather our emotion, our soul, which longs to be with people who understand us. We must love not our life (Greek: soul life) and be willing to go for a time without the comfort and fellowship of brothers and sisters if God has called us unto Himself. If we simply MUST be in the accompaniment of other brothers and sisters in order to have any sense of Christ then we are not abiding in Him as we ought.

In many parts of the world brothers and sisters in Christ are not able to meet together because of persecution. They would certainly desire to do so if they could, but if they cannot, how will they maintain fellowship and connectivity to the Body if they are unable to gather? Why, they must know Christ as Fellowship. Abiding in Him, connected to the Head, they maintain oneness with the rest of the Body.

Someone will say, "We are not persecuted. We have the freedom to gather together. Should we not take advantage of our liberty as Christians and fellowship at every opportunity?" The answer is yes, we should thank God for our freedom and make the most of it. But my question to you is, what will your spiritual state be like when that liberty is no longer permitted? Have you resources within yourself to stay in your place of abiding in Christ, or is your usefulness to God limited by your ability to fellowship with others? Can you maintain connectivity to the Body when isolated, or will you grow faint and fall away?

Some are able to maintain a sweet spirit so long as they are in fellowship with other believers. But when God allows that fellowship to be interrupted, observe how quickly that sweet spirit turns sour. They will even acknowledge their poor state and say things like, "My temper has become awful. It is because I have been out of church. I must go back this Sunday." Then they will go back to church, feel uplifted, and the sweet spirit returns. Sadly, this is the experience of a majority of people who have not learned to take Christ as their Life. Is this walking in the Spirit? It is not.

It is true that "whenever two or three are gathered in My Name, there I am." Praise God for such truth. It is equally true that, "I am with YOU always (singular)." We do not want to be lone ranger Christians who do not seek fellowship with other members of Christ's Body. At the same time, we cannot allow the absence of such fellowship to make us despondent or depressed, should we be deprived of it. If it causes us to fall away, then perhaps this is the reason God allows us to go through periods of solitude, that we may be reduced to CHRIST as our Fellowship.

When we find ourselves in such a place, let us not be too quick to seek out others until we have reaped the benefits of being alone with God. Let us remember that Christ's Body is a spiritual Body. Being in the physical presence of other members does not make us more of a member, and being removed from the physical presence of other members does not make us any less a member. Of course the exact opposite is true for those meeting together as an institution; without their physical presence and support they lose place as a member. But not Christ's Body, the Church. We are not more or less of a member by reason of our physical contact or lack of physical contact with one another.

And again, we may thirst for fellowship not so much to edify the Body as to be edified ourselves - a mindset carried over from when we used to go to church to "be fed" once or twice a week. If this is the case, it is no wonder that God would have us look to Him alone as our Edification and learn to draw upon Him before placing us in close proximity with others. One weakness of the institutional church is that the majority of members are coming to receive, to be edified, to be encouraged, to be fed. It is all "take", and very little "give". Hence, there is little Life.

When we learn to draw upon Christ as our Source we will have abundance to give away. Fellowship with others cannot replace our daily abiding in Him. If we gather together in the Name of the Lord, yet outside of Christ, we will have much religious carrying's on but little Life to impart to one another. God would have us look to His Son as our Life, and as we do we find our need is met. Then, when we gather together, we are givers and not takers, and with all giving out of Christ, we have the blessing we sought.

Let us press into Christ with all our heart, and not be discouraged if we find ourselves temporarily without the fellowship and comfort of our brothers and sisters. Though we are lonely, we are never alone.

Copyright 1997-2004 Watchman.Net.
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« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2004, 07:59:46 AM »

Thanks for quoting and sharing that wonderful message to us.

Also the web-site. I briefly went there and it appears to have some more wonderful things to say.

ollie
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« Reply #9 on: December 19, 2004, 01:16:06 PM »

I haven't seen this thread until today. It contains some very wonderful and true statements. The love and unity of the Church.

Amen, sister.

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« Reply #10 on: December 19, 2004, 02:24:28 PM »



I just read this post today for the first time.  Thank you sincereheart.  Not long ago someone said that he thought God was removing X number of people from out of the various churches and going underground with them, ie., a gathering of those people in their homes.  Something in the spititual realm is going on, more so now than ever, although maybe I've just become aware of it.





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« Reply #11 on: December 21, 2004, 08:02:58 AM »

Jesus Is Building His Church!
by Chip Brogden

"...upon this Rock, I will build My Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18b)."
 
What is the "move" of God? What is God doing today? What is God saying to the Church? Here's what is happening: Jesus is building His Church. There is no "new" thing to be seen, said, or done: Jesus the Rock is building His Church upon the foundation of Himself. He is faithfully gathering the living stones together and is assembling them into a beautiful structure of gold, silver, and precious stones (I Peter 2:4-9; I Corinthians 3:9-17).

There is nothing wrong with the Church! That is, there is nothing wrong with the Church that Jesus is building, though there is much to be desired among those who are following their own building programs and blueprints, and calling it "church". Jesus is assembling the saints together into a spiritual house. The problem is that some things we have come to believe to be "church" are not necessarily the Church. Although there is nothing wrong with the Church, everything that is called "Church" is not the "Church". So what is the Church?

Let us look at this statement: "I will build My Church." The first thing that strikes us about this thing called "Church" is simply that it is that which Jesus is building upon the foundation of Himself. More specifically, the word "church" is "ecclesia", the called-out assembly. It consists of those to whom God has chosen to reveal His Son. This revelation of who we are in Christ and who Christ is in us is the key. Without this firm foundation we cannot know, understand or experience being part of the Church. Quite frankly, our religious head knowledge or credal affirmation is of virtually no significance. Even the repeating of the so-called "Sinner's Prayer" means nothing apart from the revelation of Jesus Christ. May God give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ (Ephesians 1:17-23). Then, our prayer and confession will be based on Spirit and Truth revelation, not flesh and blood, second or third generation "knowing" (Matthew 16:17).

The Church is not built upon the individual Peter, but upon those who have been given revelation. Jesus builds His Church through revelation to individuals, the "whosoevers". What revelation? The revelation of Himself. This revelation is sufficient to secure us as members of the Church that Jesus is building. When we understand that revelation is the only thing which matters we will cease trying to grow the Church or gain members through better preaching, musical entertainment, handsome facilities, demographic studies, and savvy marketing techniques. Instead, we will simply come to rely upon revelation and trust the Father to reveal the Son through the Spirit Who brings illumination to our heart. We are the Temple of God, a habitation for Himself, and this Church grows as a living thing (Ephesians 2:20-22).

Jesus is not building a denomination or founding a movement. The Church is not a denomination, but neither is it a non-denomination. It is not a steeple-house or institutional church, but neither is it a house church. Stated simply, the Church is a spiritual house of living stones, invisible to the naked eye, but clearly seen and known in Spirit. It is not an organization, but an organism. Who are its members? Those who have the revelation of Jesus Christ. Where are these members to be found? They are scattered in all directions, both inside and outside of Organized Religion.

Keith Green once said, "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to McDonald's makes you a hamburger." How true this statement has proved to be through the years. But we hasten to say that going to a house church won't make you a Christian either. We thank God for the saints which are meeting in homes and rediscovering what it means to gather together in simplicity apart from the steeple-house, paid clergy, and denominationalism. Yet, Jesus did not say, "I will build My HOUSE church." Since the Church is comprised of individuals who have the revelation of Jesus Christ, how or where they meet together is of little consequence. In Jerusalem, or in this mountain? Neither, says the Lord (John 4:20-24). Where we gather doesn't matter to the Lord, but WHY we gather is of extreme importance to Him. If it is due to the revelation of Jesus Christ, we will worship in Spirit and Truth because the revelation of Jesus Christ draws us together. Why? Because our testimony is other-worldly, peculiar, spiritual. We are the called-out assembly, the ecclesia of Jesus. We are His particular treasure.

What we have, both within Organized Religion and within the house church "movement", is a mixture of people. Some of them have the revelation of Jesus Christ, and some do not. We affirm that this revelation is enough to establish the Church, regardless of the outward appearances. Where this revelation exists, THERE is the foundation of the Church that Jesus is building. Since it is an inward revelation, a spiritual seeing and entering into, we cannot classify everyone as being the Church merely because they are within a system of Organized Religion, or even if they have come out of a system. Nor can we include or disqualify them because of where or how they meet. The meeting together is only a small part of the total picture. The question is not whether we are in or out of a human system, or how we meet, or what doctrine we lay emphasis on. The question is, have we seen the Lord? Do we have the revelation of Jesus Christ? We may be correct in outward appearance but have no inward revelation. Hence, not all who say, "Lord! Lord!" will enter the Kingdom of God (Matthew 7:21-23). Similarly, we may be politically or spiritually incorrect and offensive outwardly speaking, that is, according to what man values and esteems as good, acceptable, moral, and religious; yet the revelation of Christ is sufficient to bring us into the Kingdom with or without the support and approval of men, even the most spiritual and holy men.

~more~

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« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2004, 08:07:41 AM »

"I will build My Church." We maintain that the Church exists where individuals have the revelation of Jesus Christ: for when this revelation takes hold of a person, Jesus Christ will have the preeminence in all things (Colossians 1:12-19). It is not enough to tell people, "Jesus is the Head of the Church." We cannot make Him the Head while gathered together and then expect Him to remain in the background while we live out our lives individually. Either He is Lord OF all, or He isn't Lord AT all. When we see Him seated in heavenly places we will gladly and joyfully allow Him to be the Head over all things, not only in the Church, but in our marriage, family, and work. We will at once see that the Church does not belong to us. We will discern that hitherto we have viewed "church" as something that we must attend, build, or grow. With the knowledge that the Church does not belong to us we will relinquish our claims to it and begin to co-labor together with the Lord (I Corinthians 3:9). Then, it is a natural thing to give up our titles and positions and merely concentrate on building one another up in love.

To give up title and position within a group that has no revelation of Christ is to invite chaos. This is why man feels the need to have some organization and established leadership among the saints, running the steeple-house much like a business with mission statements and top-heavy organizational charts, paving a one-way street of submission to some earthly head - because there is no vision of Christ. It is not more organization or leadership training that we need. We only need more revelation, and no man can give us revelation. It is the gift of God. Once obtained, we will with much rejoicing and relief fall into place below One Head and allow Christ to have the preeminence. "The Lord is my Pastor: I shall not lack (Psalms 23:1)."

Since it is the Lord's Church, and no man's, and since we are the sheep of His pasture, not man's, we will stop referring to "Pastor Smith's church" and "Brother John's congregation". The pastor is not the head of the Church. But then, neither is the teacher, evangelist, prophet, or apostle. Apostles do not build the Church: Jesus builds the Church, for it is His Church. All anyone can do is co-labor with Him. Anything done apart from Him will fall apart, for there is no other foundation but what has been laid, and that foundation is Christ (I Corinthians 3:11). If the foundation is faulty, it matters not one whit how beautiful the structure is. The apostles and prophets lay the foundation of the Church, which is the revelation of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:20), but it is still based upon a revelation that no man can give! The Spirit of Jesus must make Himself known in you (Galatians 1:11-18). Then others will build upon that foundation, which is your personal revelation of Christ in you and you in Christ. But no one at any time may lay claim to the Church, or any particular fellowship, as his or her own.

The Church does not belong to a denominational office, church board, circle of elders, founding apostle, or individual pastor. At least, not the Church that Jesus is building.
How do we know if a particular work is the true building of God, part of the genuine Church? All we have to do is see who has the preeminence there. If an apostle or pastor is considered the spiritual head then Christ does not have the preeminence (3 John 9). If the elected deacons are in charge then Christ does not have the preeminence. We may give Him lip service and acknowledge with our mouth that it is His Church, but apart from revelation these are empty words. When the moment of truth comes man will always seize control, demonstrating that Christ does not have the preeminence there, and indeed, probably never had it to begin with.

How then do we know who has the preeminence? We need only look to see who gets the credit for the work. Men talk about "this great denomination" and glory in the works of their hands. Of course, with their lips they draw near to God, but their heart is far from Him. They are only trying to build a name to themselves and reach the heavens. The end result is confusion and vain babbling (Genesis 11:1-9). They are not co-laboring with Christ in the building of His Church, they are asking Christ to co-labor with THEM in the building of THEIR church. "We have done many mighty works in Your Name! Behold what manner of stones and buildings these are (Mark 13:1)!" And surely, great things have been accomplished, insofar as organization, wealth, property, and numbers are concerned. "But Jesus said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God (Luke 16:15)." If Jesus is building His Church as His own possession, then we cannot take the credit for it. We can only marvel at what He does and bow our heads in humble gratitude for allowing us to be a part of it.

What shall we do about Organized Religion? What shall we do about those who claim the Church as their own, who intend to build a name to themselves? What shall we do about the false religious system? We will do nothing at all; for, those structures not built upon the Foundation of Jesus Christ will fall of their own accord (I Corinthians 3:12-17; Matthew 7:24-27). How could it be otherwise? The only safe place to be is within the Church that Jesus is building. Besides, if we attempt to bring down the huge idol of Organized Religion we may well crush ourselves and others in the attempt.

What is the Spirit of Antichrist? It is that religious thing that makes war against Jesus and the Church that He is building. The Spirit of Antichrist is already gone out in to the world (I John 2:18) and has sown tares among the wheat. Indeed, in the last days the Spirit of Antichrist will dominate and rule the world system, attempting to blot out the true Church. Outwardly speaking it appears to be succeeding.

Nevertheless, the Church that Jesus is building cannot be overcome by the gates of hell. Since it is built upon the revelation of Jesus Christ, nothing cannot stop it. Why? A man will not die for a tradition or a doctrine. But he will gladly lay down his life for the revelation of Jesus Christ. He cannot be disobedient to the heavenly vision (Acts 20:24; 26:19). He has found his Life (Christ) by giving up his life.

Yes, this world system, including man's religious systems, is passing away: make no mistake (I John 2:15-17). The nations will be judged and will pass through the fire (Psalms 2). The earth will decay and finally dissolve altogether, consumed in the fire; the heaven's will melt with a fervent heat (II Peter 3:7-14). The outward things are fading, perishing, evolving downward in a state of entropy. Look around you, saint of God. See the steeple-house? It will not remain for long. See the cathedral? It too shall pass. See the oceans? One day they will be no more. Look at the mountains - they will all be removed. See the cities? They will be destroyed. Heaven and earth will pass away.

What is my point? Simply this: the Church that Jesus is building will be the only thing which remains. The visible will make way for the invisible, the temporal will give way to the eternal, mortal will put on immortality (I Corinthians 15). A new heavens and a new earth will be made and the New Jerusalem, the Bride of Christ, the Church, will be completed (Revelation 21). We are that Building of God, built upon the revelatory foundation of Jesus brought by the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the Chief Cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). We are the Temple of God, therefore we need no earthly temple, we seek no earthly kingdom, and we expect no earthly reward (I Corinthians 3:16,17). We look for a City whose Builder and Maker is God, and we are that City (Hebrews 11:10). Jesus is building His Church!

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« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2006, 01:15:12 AM »

BUMPING, cause this is one thread I missed, while sincereheart was gone. Cry
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« Reply #14 on: January 11, 2006, 07:12:32 PM »

The Need For Brokenness
by Chip Brogden

"The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all (Psalms 34:18,19)."

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise (Psalms 51:17)."

The fundamental need of a disciple of Jesus Christ is not more power, but more brokenness. The majority of Christians today are not too unlike the original twelve disciples of the Lord. We observe the Twelve arguing over who is the greatest; asking to sit on His right hand and on His left; desiring to call down fire from heaven upon those who oppose them; refusing to wash each other's feet; protesting the need for the Lord to go the cross, even drawing the sword to defend Him in the garden.

May we see that the disciples were not endued with power from on high until they were of one mind and one accord, together in one place, after the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. While it is true that they enjoyed a measure of spiritual power during the Lord's ministry on earth, we see how even this little taste of heavenly ability puffed them up. Jesus sent them forth and gave them authority over evil spirits. So it happened that when they returned, they exclaimed, "Lord! Even the demons are subject to us through Thy name!" Even this small accomplishment made them rejoice and exalt in themselves. Jesus tells them this little bit of success is hardly worth rejoicing over. Later on, we find the disciples rebuking others who used the Name to cast out demons. Why? Because "they are not of us." Patiently, Jesus tells them to stop forbidding the others, because "he that is not against us is for us." We see how quickly pride was able to gain a foothold.

What a tragedy it would have been to pour out the Holy Spirit in His fullness upon the disciples in such a condition! They were thoroughly unfit and unprepared to handle such power. Why? Not because they were insincere. No doubt they were very sincere. After all, they had forsaken everything and were following the Lord. Nevertheless, they were yet unbroken. That is to say, they were following the Lord and even had a taste of spiritual power but they had no yet taken up the Cross. Over and over again Christ said they must take up the Cross, but they themselves could not understand what He meant. They even sought to prevent the Lord from taking up HIS cross. They could not be entrusted with much power because they were not sufficiently dead to themselves. The slightest accomplishment would only be grounds for foolish boasting and further arguments to see who was to be the greatest among them. Hence, they were told to tarry in Jerusalem and wait until they would be endued with power from on high. As proud men they were found arguing on many occasions, but as broken men they were finally in one mind and one accord. Thus, the Spirit came, and with the Spirit, the fullness of power.

Today the call is for unity, but we need to see that unity cannot be achieved by calling people to unity. Unity is achieved when we take up the Cross and die to our minute opinions and lay down our petty arguments and prejudices. Then, and only then, will we come to one mind. A broken spirit is a peaceful spirit, and is able to abide with others. Contentious, unbroken, hard, stubborn people can never be in one accord. The sacrifices of God are a broken and contrite spirit.
~continued
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