Restoring the Old or Beginning Anew?
God’s life is eternal, it is also resurrection
life. If we live and abide in His life, there is no need for restoration of the
"church" - we are born of God, we have His life and Spirit, we are His body - we
IN THE BEGINNING
Many of what
became "movements" in church history had a wonderful life giving beginning.
But over time, they became a "movement" and crusade, an empire or kingdom of
itself, and lost the original focus and purpose. If it had
remained new and fresh, it would not need restoring. When something gets old, it eventually loses it's effectiveness.
Man's idea is to try to remove those deteriorating effects and "restore" it back to it's original state. The "true" church - ekklesia has ALWAYS BEEN since it's inception. Ekklesia does not need restoring at all.
THE PROBLEM AND SOLUTION
The problem is there are structures, systems, programs man made kingdoms out there today that call themselves "church" but do not reflect God's heart. Man wants to try and purify that which in effect fights against what God began. The solution is not to restore or revive, but get free from it and return to Him ONLY! God does offer a solution, another alternative, but He will not compete. The solution is God’s life! Quit eating from the wrong tree.
Why did God send the flood? He had righteous men, who lived a long time on earth back then, but they were either murdered or ridiculed. Did God remove the evil in the midst of the righteous? No, he removed the righteous from the midst of the evil and began anew.
What about Abraham? Why did call Him? God wanted a NEW people; those who eventually would be called by His name. What happened to Israel? He left them in the state they were in. Yes, some turned their hearts to Him, but look at the condition of Judaism when the New Testament began.
This case of Judaism in the first century is a good example. God began something with His people Israel. They did not originate that at all, but found themselves a part of what God begun. It was a reflection of God's heart. He gave the "ten commandments" to them to reveal His heart and show man what He desired toward Himself, and toward others. Most of Israel never grasped that :(. They focused on outward manifestations and NOT relationships. The law became a contest of outward compliance and wearing “badges” so others to see how well they were doing. God even sent His “best” prophet born of woman, John to give them a chance to get free – he lost his head.. Jesus followed John, but they crucified Him. They built up such an evil, religious system that eventually God said, "Enough!" He did not try to restore Judaism or purify it by removing the old or evil. No, He brought forth something NEW and then began calling out those who wanted ONLY Him - ekklesia.
God sent His Son to show us what He is really after. Jesus lived a real human life of intimacy with God. He was the first to call God His Father and OUR Father! His own people thought this was blasphemy! The religious system hated Him and eventually killed Him. If He lived, He would ruin what *THEY* had built up. God did not try to restore that evil, religious system that He had established over 1500 years earlier. He did not try to remove the evil and make it good. Also we should notice, He did not remove that system so His ekklesia could grow. He allowed ekklesia to flourish in the midst of the evil, violent, religious system, called Judaism until 70AD.
What happened when the “churches” in the New Testament began to wane and become corrupt? Did God rescue them? Did He remove the persecutors? Did He revive what He had begun or remove the bad element and restore them back to the original? What did He say about the church in Ephesus in Rev. 2? He said that if they didn’t repent and return to their first love and works, He would REMOVE (not restore) their lampstand! They would no longer be His testimony or “light” in the city on a hill. If you care to check it out, Ephesus had a pretty good list of commendable works in most folks eyes. But God zeroed in on the problem and said you need to return to Me and our love affair, you’ve lost your first love (Me).
WHAT ABOUT TODAY?
I see no difference today. There is an evil, religious system in place today with a designed structure that not only hinders, but ultimately forbids and denies the power and operation of the Spirit of God within us. When saints come together they are to encourage one another. How can they do that in a structured setting where one man does all the talking? Where is there opportunity for interaction? How can EACH joint of the body supply the other and build one another up in love (Eph. 4:16) within today’s “churches?” Where is the liberty in the Spirit allowed to operate without human manipulation?
There is such a mixture today among Christians it's hard sometimes to tell the believers from the unbelievers. Most saints today are graded “pass” or “fail” by what they believe. Actually, I would say they are judged by what they have been taught within their own Christian religious background. Doctrine is not the best test, but LIFE is. We may not be accurate in all we believe or speak to some. We have been influenced through the years with so many of man's teachings, practices and traditions it's hard to discern the real. But if we belong to God, we should know His heart. We should see His nature in the lives of His people. It must come out of relationship, love, faith..all produced by God's life via His Spirit. Not all that speaks of God, or uses His name has it's source in LIFE.
Consider again the parables of the wheat and tares, the mustard seed, the leaven, the dragnet of fish. All these have an evil element along side the good and pure. We do not need to restore the wheat, mustard fruit, loaf, or good fish. Neither do we need to try and restore, purge or purify the evil. God will do that (with His angels) in due time. God has begun something NEW..that is where we need to be.
IF & IT (a few hints)
If “it” is full of the traditions of men, and has to have programs and revivals and human manipulation continually to keep it going then it's source is NOT life, but artificial, perhaps counterfeit. If the system is not supported and provided for by God Himself as our provider through faith, it is not of Him. If there is no semblance of it’s organization or structure in scripture, then it’s source is not of God. If all kinds of worldly schemes, business deals, promotions and paid staff have to keep it running, it is not of God. If a system or individuals must continually attack, judge and condemn all “opposing” forces, it is not of God, cuz His heart and call to us is to love, pray and forgive those who despitefully use us. If you have to pay every week (or more often) to keep it going then God’s life is not sustaining it, so why should you? If it has to beg, deceive, coerce, or shame you into giving or doing something to further it’s cause, then God is not being trusted as it’s provider and sustainer. If we are told we must trust and depend on a man, group, organization or “special” individuals, then God is not in it. If certain individuals are “higher” or preferred above others, if there is a clergy/laity system, it is not built on the Solid Rock, but something other than God’s heart and design. If it has to have a name, address and a tax # then it’s more concerned in being an organization than being an organic body. If a building or certain place, time, day is required or considered more important than another then it is missing what Jesus said in Jn. 4 to the woman at the well. God is spirit, wind, blowing where He will.
We all must begin on level ground, no one above the other. We all must FIRST be born again! We must receive that LIFE giving element, His Spirit, that conduit of God's nature into us first. The Spirit is that NEW wine, that NEW cloth, that NEW life. The Spirit is our life link to God and one another. He is our bond of peace and the common denominator that all those born anew have. The Spirit is our family tie.
From that frame of reference, reach out to others as you live out your life. In doing so, you will find some that already have that same life. spend time with them. His Spirit will bear witness with our spirit and we will KNOW those of kindred spirit without asking what “church” they go to, what doctrines they believe, what “gifts” they have received, etc., etc. Begin to share with one another, get together in homes and anywhere else that is conducive to and intimacy in relationship. Remain with those who are peace makers, who encourage, offer hope, growth and influence you to draw closer to the Lord. Let your light shine out to others that don't yet know God in an intimate personal way. Help one another, serve one another, love one another. That is ekklesia..that is God's heart and purpose!