This post is the 3rd part of a 3-part series I didn’t mean to write. Better read the previous two posts. Both of them are dated today, too.
So, here’s part 3:
I keep talking about the church, but which church?
I’m talking about the church. The people who are Christians in your area.
You need them. They need you.
It really doesn’t matter whether we Protestants have developed a denominational system where you go to the Methodist church and your next-door neighbor goes to the Lutheran church. That’s not okay. You’re sinning.
It really doesn’t matter that the pope in Rome is the head of a huge hierarchy that claims to be the one true church; that idea has nothing to do with anything Biblical or with the historical church.
You’re supposed to be sharing your life with other Christians. You are supposed to be family. You are supposed to be more likely to take an unemployed brother and his family into your house than his parents are.
You’re supposed to call nothing your own and share with the Christians around you.
That’s Biblical, and that’s historical. [It’s not just Acts that talks about calling nothing your own. There was an early Christian tract that gave the same command, which is included in the Letter of Barnabas and the Didache. Justin Martyr in Rome in A.D. 150 and Tertullian in Carthage, Africa in A.D. 200 both claimed that Christians in general were following that command.]
That’s the church that God cares about, and that’s the church that will inherit the promises.
That’s the only church that matters because it’s the only one that can exhort one another every day (Heb. 3:13), speak to one another in love (Eph. 4:11-16), and be led together into all things (1 Jn. 2:27, where the “you” is plural, not singular).
How Does One Join Themselves to that Church?
I have no idea.
Sorry. I didn’t create the problem, and I don’t have miraculous revelation on how to solve it. I can just show you that the Bible says it’s a problem and if you try to solve it, you’ll find out what it means that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Tim. 3:12).
The devil hates it when you try to gather the saints. It terrifies him.
I can give you some advice, though.
I’ve tried a lot of things. Others have tried things.Â Here’s some of what’s worked and what hasn’t.
I tried talking to everyone around me, going to every church I could, and telling people what the Bible says.
Not very many people listened to me.
The fact is, most people who call themselves Christians aren’t really Christians. They don’t have the Spirit of God, and they don’t much care what Jesus wants. They’re not going to listen to or look for God’s will whether you show it to them in the Bible or whether God speaks it to them in their hearts. They just don’t care, and they’re not really Christians.
Some are, though, and they care. Hundreds and thousands of people have managed to gather them together to try to do the things I’m talking about here. Gene Edwards and Frank Viola have written dozens of books on what to do when you do get them together.
I’ve met dozens of those groups. What they’re doing isn’t working. They don’t grow, and they get quickly bored. Most simply fall apart quickly. Those that don’t end up going back to the institutional churches they were once part of.
There’s some problems in Gene and Frank’s books. It’s not as simple as they say it is, and there’s some key issues missing.
I gave up trying on my own. When I found people who were making it work, I moved to where they were and gathered with them.
What do I mean by making it work? I mean they were really together, God pays attention to them, and they are being taught by God.
I’ve met other groups like that, but they didn’t last. They had the tremendous joy and fulfillment that comes from being in the church; they were taking care of each other; they had revelation from God; but they fell apart, usually rapidly.
Well, I have some ideas about that, too. But I guess that will have to wait for part 4.
I didn’t mean to be writing a series, and I’m out of time for today, so part 4 will have to wait until later today, tomorrow, or the next time I can get to this.
For now, just know that the devil hates it when the church rises up. It doesn’t matter whether it looks like a home church or like an institutional church or like neither. When Christians in a local area gather together, love one another, take care of one another, and act like family, the devil hates it and attacks it.
Christians today aren’t ready for a fierce battle with casualties, so they usually lose. The devil just tears them apart.
That’s the biggest problem. Like I said, though, I’ll say more about that in the next part.