Posted by William Eaton on Monday, 28 December 1998, at 3:32 p.m.
What's missing from Ch--ch? YOU ARE!
Since "Church" means different things to different people, let me first establish what I mean when I use the term. I believe that we are the Church, the living, breathing, functioning, members of the Body of Christ. Many people use the term to designate the building where the Christians meet instead of using it as a term to describe the Christians themselves. The shift in usage came about (imo) when more attention began to be paid to the place where the congregation gathered rather than on the congregation itself. Most scholars agree that this occurred when the Roman emperor Constantine converted to Christianity. Christians were persecuted and maligned, sometimes severely, until Constantine "legitimatized" and "institutionalized" the Church. It is said that at this point there was a large influx of people who "converted" to Christianity without the benefit of the "born again" experience.
The supernatural power that was commonplace in the lives of the Christians begin to wane and in many cases the congregation ceased to be a dynamic force and there began to be a clear distinction between the leadership and the membership. The concept of the whole church being involved in ministry gave way to a full-time "clergy" who ministered for (and to) the "laity" (which is an unscriptural concept, imo).
Church history is clear that the supernatural was common in the first few centuries and Christians everywhere experienced the supernatural gifts of healing, prophecy, tongues, miracles, etc.. When the church became institutionalized, (by Constantine's actions,) the gifts begin to be less and less in evidence (but never completely absent) and the building became the focal point instead of an active power-laden membership. To describe this phenomenon, we sometimes use the phrase "the church became an organization instead of a living organism."
Personally, I believe that until Christians everywhere begin to exercise the gifts there won't be any significant world-changing (in the book of Acts sense) revival.
It's much too great a task for a "clergy" to be able to accomplish by itself.
In my opinion it will take a radical change in both the leadership and membership for there to be significant changes in the status quo. The leaders continue to blame the congregation for the apparent deadness in the church program and the congregation blames the leaders for not doing their part (which in most churches is *everything*--obviously an impossible task!)
To assure job security, the pastor must be constantly brainstorming new exciting programs, visiting the sick, shaking hands, preaching dynamic sermons (that he has no time to prepare), evangelizing the city, etc. etc. etc.. (It also helps if the pastor's wife plays the piano or organ which makes it seem as if the church is getting more for its money!) The congregation usually views church participation as passive involvement with the exception of those few times that they are drafted by the pastor to head up his latest pet project.
Isn't it the job of the Church to meet all of the needs of the people? How can this happen unless you are actively involved in exercising the gifts that God gave you?
In the early Church if one of the members needed finances, they responded, if someone needed healing, they responded, when spiritual help was needed, the church responded, if a person was in prison because of their faith, the church responded. They responded to every need, (I'm not talking about responding by just adding them to a prayer list) they responded with tangible and often times supernatural help. The "clergy" won't be able to accomplish that by itself!
The Church had the answers for *every* need. Imagine what would happen if the gifts were as prominent today as they were in the early Church? What if, on a given Sunday, there were a couple of blind eyes opened, a cripple person healed, and a person healed from AIDS. Do you think that there would be a need for a "program" the following Sunday? Would there be a need for a door to door witnessing campaign? If this happened, there wouldn't be room in the building for the meeting.
What's missing from Ch -- ch? UR! You are missing if you aren't taking seriously the call to function as a part of the Body of Christ, utilizing the gifts that God gave you.
Let's pray for the gifts of the Holy Spirit and then be willing to use them!
Posted by Kathy on Tuesday, 29 December 1998, at 6:43 a.m., in response to What's missing from Ch__ch? You Are, you and your gifts!, posted by William Eaton on Monday, 28 December 1998, at 3:32 p.m.
If the church (body of Christ) would come together and do what the Lord has commanded us and break down the denominational walls between us, we could do much damage to the kingdom of darkness. I think we underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit because He don't always have a willing vessel to work through. I personally have a lot of friends whom follow the sign over the door more than what the Word of God says! It saddens me to know God's power and then see so much destruction in the world taking place. I really don't think this was the Lords plan for us, to play church and not do anything about it!
My father in law has ALS, and is dying. We can not even speak to him about healing, because of the way he has been taught by man. Therefore he refuses to listen, and we have to stand back and watch, knowing there is hope but he doesn't want it. It gets kinda painful!
Posted by William Eaton on Tuesday, 29 December 1998, at 9:09 a.m., in response to Re: Amen William! I have always said....., posted by Kathy on Tuesday, 29 December 1998, at 6:43 a.m.
It's hard to imagine why there is sectarianism in the Church when you consider passages such as these:
(Mark 9:38 NKJV) Now John answered Him, saying, "Teacher, we saw someone who does not follow us casting out demons in Your name, and we forbade him because he does not follow us." But Jesus said, "Do not forbid him, for no one who works a miracle in My name can soon afterward speak evil of Me. For he who is not against us is on our side."
(Mat 12:25 NKJV) But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.
Posted by Corrine on Tuesday, 29 December 1998, at 3:10 p.m., in response to What's missing from Ch__ch? You Are, you and your gifts!, posted by William Eaton on Monday, 28 December 1998, at 3:32 p.m.
Oh, to see the power of the Holy Spirit work in every assembly of God's people! If everyone would just realize the power God has given, Christian everywhere would be overcomers.
Thank you for this message.