| The narrow gate( part 1) Martin J Collison|
Amplified Bible (AMP)
"Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads away to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it. But the gate is narrow (contracted by pressure) and the way is straitened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it".
THE HEART CRY OF SOME
There are some within the Body of Christ who presently feel an ever deepening urgency within their very spirit for the true church of Jesus Christ to come forth. In the past few days I have been reflecting on the apostolic heart of Paul. The Holy Spirit was permitted to accomplish a truly remarkable work in entirely transforming this heart from one full of bitterness and hatred towards the church to that of father and overseer. This heart of deep concern is the very one now being embedded in many saints within the earth. This is a profound work. Paul had a mandate. He had a very specific role. He was given this mandate by God Himself. The heart of a father should be to guide his children in order that they fulfil all their potential. Part of this naturally involves correction. Where error is present then it needs to be addressed.
Many are aware that the church, as a whole, seems to be following the “broad way” in these days. They are grieved by this. It has become akin to an errant child in following its own whims and fancies. Deciding its own tune to dance to. But Jesus makes things clear. He is aware of the fact that few will truly seek after His ways and who He actually is. There is a difference between being a church goer or participator in the “church system” and seeking to be a disciple. It is actually easier to settle for the false created reality of the present church culture than seek the narrow path that Christ spoke of. At present, the church largely comprises “institutionalised” Christianity. It exists within the confines and dictates of the man-made created institutions within which it is played out. Not fully authentic. Not cultivating true disciples. If your calling and your heart leans to the narrow way then as the Lord said “watch and pray lest you fall into temptation”. The broad path version offered by the current church systems is sadly tempting many with its shallower creeds.
GENUINE CONCERN BIRTHED FROM A HEART OF LOVE
When a true and genuine apostolic heart has been cultivated, discipline flows from a deep love and desire for the wellbeing of the church. Its is an act of love. Thank God if you have a brother or sister who is not afraid to challenge you or rebuke you. The wounds of a friend bring healing, as Proverbs denotes. It is a work of the Holy Spirit of the very deepest kind to truly and genuinely have this heart nurtured within us. It is part of the perfecting process of genuine love. Those with a heart to see the true Bride come forth and for the current church systems to be purged are not merely superficial fault-finders who have an immature investment in the church. No. These ones have invested much into seeing the true Bride come forth.
God has often hidden them from view. He has dealt with them in the most intense ways in order that they themselves first be purged of their own motives and desires. He strips them of the bitterness of their own hearts. He works His holy zeal into them. Their all consuming passion becomes the transforming of the church into the glorious Bride. They yearn to be true disciples of Christ. Followers after Him alone. This work still continues. But as the work goes on they have some opportunity to convey their present heart-cry. He is training them in the wilderness in order to show them that their reliance cannot be invested in anything or anyone but Christ. He is crushing them so that they dare not speak the words of the flesh but only the words that the Father gives them.
At this point we need to remind ourselves that the flesh is our constant enemy. So too is the world. Moreover, the desires and lusts of this world are becoming very strong. Man have allowed these appetites to infiltrate their outlook. This appeases the flesh. Some may have been overtaken by them. In turn, these desires form their teaching. If you have allowed it to form part of your outlook then its bound to be part of your teaching, right? Whatever version of reality you have chosen to accept, you will likely try and “evangelise” others with it. (Martin J Collison)
| 2013/9/20 18:05|
| Re: The narrow gate( part 1) Martin J Collison|
THE CURRENT “INSTITUTIONALISED” EXPRESSIONS OF CHRISTIANITY
Therefore, to start at the "top" so to speak, the current church “institutions” within the Evangelical / Pentecostal / Charismatic systems are "led" by a group of humans, just as you and I are. Entirely susceptible to being taken captive by error. Capable of “cherry-picking” when it comes to truth. In addition, as human beings we are all entirely susceptible to patterns of behaviour which are not necessarily inspired by the Holy Spirit or ordained by God. Even if the claim is made that they are this is not necessarily the case.
Much of the “follow the group” behaviour and succumbing to desires to “fit in” are entirely human traits. In this I mean they derive from the flesh. Any secular psychologist or sociologist would identify these traits as being prevalent in any group of humans. The fact that we may call ourselves a “church” does not alter these human characteristics. It is the flesh again. We certainly cannot claim that we have arrived at being “the church” or Jesus would have returned by now.
At worst, I have seen behaviours within many gatherings which comprise much if the life of these institutions that really borders on the outright delusional. Actually, a mass delusion at that. As a point of separate note along these lines, Christianity was never intended to be centred on meetings. It is a lifestyle of following Christ. For instance, some seem to think they are going to somehow change the kingdoms of this world through their presence and “influence” within them. They pump each other up in their gatherings. Motivate one another. For a while I fell for this. Such false teaching would be called “dominion” theology. It is rife in this day and highly dangerous. Folks wear themselves out with wrong intentions guided by wrong theology.
This is delusion of the worst kind. The systems of this world will never be changed. The Kingdom of God is an entirely separate entity. For me personally, I eventually began to distrust the system. I wanted something more. Now I see this as a yearning to truly follow Christ. I want God Himself and I believe in myself that I desire whatever that entails. In addition, as highlighted in the book “Animal Farm” by George Orwell, there are always those who move their way to the top of the system and the church is no different. The empire building spirit is very much alive and well in the church. Most seem only to be building modern day Towers of Babel.
I visited one of these modern day empires whilst in Kansas last year, although to my regret I have actually been part of smaller versions of the same type and form. They are everywhere. The same template is used over and over. Control and command structures abound. Even when they say the structures are aimed at “releasing” folks into their gifting, ministries and destinies, the test in their eyes is always based on how willing you are to submit to their systems. Your submission to Christ is therefore measured on your submission to fallen men and women. Those who show willingness to surrender to the system and the “leaders” will be in line for promotion. Just like in the world, those popular with the boss are the favoured ones and will perhaps one day get their own place on the platform and reserved parking space in the church car park.
Do they mark you higher for humility or sacrificial love? No. For looking after the widows or the orphans? Feeding the homeless? Visiting the sick or vulnerable in their hour of need? No. These church clubs don`t run along those lines. You don`t need their approval anyway. Yet again, I found the Lord actually drew me away. I hopped out the doors of this Kansas church “institution” conceding that at least prayer was going on. Even in the so-called atmosphere of prayer, the most sacred of things, it was sad to see those still seeking attention in a worldly way and those visibly vying to appear more holy than the rest. If this is being a “mover and shaker” in the current church age then I would rather stay out of it. Nothing has radically changed within these manufactured institutions, even within the relatively short passage of my lifetime so far. The “broad way” is all around.
It doesn`t matter whether its in Redding (yes I did say that and I will not die for it), Toronto, Kansas or wherever. The brand carries all the same hallmarks. “Leaders” sit at the top surrounded by a clique who everyone else talks of in hushed tones. Dare not criticise in any way. Messiahs in their own right. They have their own books, CD and teaching sets, their own reserved parking spaces and seats at the front of the hall. Off the production line come more celebrity worship leaders that others seem to aspire to emulate. Not the worst role models in the world but somehow still part of a “system”.
Is the system making us more like Jesus though? These church systems will become increasingly irrelevant to the disciple of Christ who seeks to yield to following the Master in a quiet and humble manner. If I were advising a new Christian, I would categorically advise they steer clear. All the desires of the world are played out in the false church arena. Ambition, striving for success and recognition. Jealousy. Rivalry. Love of image. Seeking the acceptance of man, including that of the appointed “leaders”, or, managers within the “franchised offshoots” as I sometimes call them. Some are utterly tired of these things. Even those churches which are supposed to be free of the denominational systems and are “independent” have often become empires in their own right. A paradox all of its own.
| 2013/9/21 11:33|
| Re: part 3|
GODS GOVERNMENT OF HIS CHURCH
Although we are called to pray for our leaders, and many well-meaning folks may throw this at me at, we also have to take account here of the separate and overarching dynamics which govern the life of the church. These are what I would call “the dictates of God Himself”. In short, it`s His church and we do it His way. When we don`t then judgement is coming. When error continues to abound, there will be a strategic time where He will step in and re-order things. Jesus is King and Priest over His church and one way or another He will have the Bride that He desires. The Spirit of God will not strive with man forever. The power of choice is never taken away and people build for themselves the type of church that is most comfortable to them. Will He put up with this forever? No. He will shake and shift. Everything that can be shaken will be shaken. Every man-made structure and every false teaching that supports them. Right down to the foundations. No one is safe from the judgements of God. Even those who act as if they are something special in these days.
There is a process also now underway which will carry even deeper judgement than the first. I have awaited this process for some time and during my trip to the USA last year I began to see this work start to unfold in some measure. Amid this spiritual landscape, that of the “pseudo-church”, God has begun to release ministers that genuinely seek to carry a truer manifestation of His heart and His words. They have been subject to deep refining in their own lives. They have faced trials and persecution of a type. They have been broken. Humbled by the hand of God. Often, they have been misunderstood and rejected by the denominational and institutionalised church systems. The words they have been given, by mandate from Almighty God, urgently call for surrender and repentance. These words are for the Body of Christ itself. It is a refining word.
Repentance is not even considered the slightest bit necessary within some of the false empires created in these last days. Folks seem to think they have moved beyond it. Their “sainthood” status and their critical role within Gods plans in these days ( only in their own eyes) means they have moved up into the higher realms of diplomatic immunity. Modern day Pharisees inhabit these mass human organisms. Instead of humbly serving the city or wherever they have been placed, they somehow think they are the “special breed” who are going to make the difference. They elevate themselves as “super saints” instead of elevating Christ Himself as the answer. Such groups avoid the actual call of Christ in submitting to the breaking processes which will actually manifest the truer version of Christ the Servant King. Utterly the wrong motivations abound. Humility of a true kind is an endangered species. Many of them try to “call out” a false humility but have no authority to do so because they have never allowed God to actually break them. They actively run from it.
They have wilfully by-passed the wilderness. A flesh based pride runs rampant through these places and the people are not even aware of it. Young people are trained in these ways by those whom you would hope would know better. Sadly, they don't. They too are zombies to “the system”. Now we have more than one generation who know virtually nothing of the Cross and the deeper call of consecration and holiness unto the Lord. They have been ensnared by the adversary. When the church walks in this sort of delusion there is only one winner.
Lesson number one for all of us. Our flesh likes comfort and everything in the flesh nature runs contrary to the Spirit. Even when challenged with a truer version of following Christ, many people will still reject the truer version. This is a rejection of Christ. It is a rejection of Him in His fullness. He is the message. The flesh will rise up and cause division. It will rebel against the call of Christ in these days. "Leave us alone" will be the cry...."we like our comfort". Division will ensue. Therefore, the second judgement will be worse than the first. It is bad enough to be in error, but to be reprimanded and still reject the rebuke is even worse. I genuinely fear for the judgements that are still to come upon the church and those that wilfully resist them.
However, the aforementioned process is not without purpose and is by no means a futile gesture. How can it be when God is ultimately sovereign? No. It is a division brought by God. It is part of the ongoing and ever-deepening sifting and shaking as God seeks those who will be true to the actual call of Christ. This relentless thrashing and refining must take place at the hands of Almighty God. His words will not return to Him void. Those that genuinely come from Him, delivered by His chosen and refined vessels, cannot be ineffective. It is a spiritual and eternal impossibility. They are sharper than any two-edged sword and will cut deep. Soon, they will cut deeper than ever before. These words will reap a harvest. God will sort the wheat from the chaff. The sheep from the goats.
It is those of us who have made a place of comfort for ourselves within the current status quo who have most to lose. Those with vested interests within the current institutionalised church system. God is going to test every single motive of the heart. Even when we may have said the right words. We may have even acted and perhaps left denominational structures and the institutionalised churches. However, the tests will continue. All empires and apostasy will be challenged. It is not enough to leave the bondage and comfort of one church “club” only to go about setting up another for ourselves. No. “God, give us no rest” should be our cry. God is utterly intent on having His church and He will have it His way. I reflect on Ananias and Sapphira. Real people who really died.
This day is approaching. However, those with hungry hearts will receive the words that call forth the truer manifestation of Christ with joy. Those seekers after righteousness within the Body of Christ will delight. They hunger for the words that challenge. The words that call for us to step up to the plate in this late hour. They will be a savour of life and not a savour of death to those that have yearned to be conformed to the image of Christ. God will shrink His church in order to grow it. It is a pruning. A ridding of the old wine-skins and those seekers after only pleasure and blessing. Many will run. Others will say “Hallelujah, His day has come”. Jesus will be the focus. The true Jesus and not the manufactured counterfeit. He will be uplifted.
| 2013/9/22 16:09|