The first quote below was written by a man named Jan Amos Comenius in 1660 in an article called "The voice of mourning." It is well to remember that the Reformation had already taken place by this time, having started over 140 years prior to this piece. Comenius was well respected throughout Europe at the time and here he is warning of us of the disaster that has befallen Christendom, not because of the reformation but because of what it has led to among men.............
The great number of teachers is the reason of this multitude of sects. Each church (denomination) reckons itself as the true one, or at least the truest, purest part, while among themselves they persecute each other with the bitterest hatred. No reconciliation is to be hoped for between them, they meet enmity with irreconcilable enmity. Out of the Bible they forge different creeds, these are their fortresses and bulwarks behind which they entrench themselves and resits all attacks. Of the new birth and how a man must be changed into the likeness of Christ to become a partaker of the divine nature, scarcely anything is said.
In short, Christendom has become a labyrinth. The faith has been split into a thousand little parts and you are made a heretic if there is one of them you do not accept. What can help? Only the one thing needful; return to Christ, looking to Christ as the only Leader, and walking in His footsteps, setting aside all other ways until we reach that goal, and have come to the unity of the faith (Eph. 4:13). As the Heavenly Master built everything on the grounds of the Scriptures, so should we leave all particularities of our special confessions and be satisfied with the revealed Word of God which belongs to us all. With the Bible in our hand we should cry ; I believe what God has revealed in this Book ; I will obediently keep His commands ; I hope for that which He has promised . Christians, give ear! There is only one Life, but Death comes to us in a thousand forms. There is only one Truth, but Error has a thousand forms. There is only one Christ, but a thousand Anti-Christs…..So thou knowest, O Christendom, what is the one thing needful. Either thou turnest back to Christ or thou goest to destruction like the Anti-Christ. If thou art wise and wilt live, follow the Leader of Life. But you, Christians, rejoice in your being caught up…hear the Words of your Heavenly leader , “Come unto me,’…..Answer with one voice, ” We come! (The Voice of the Morning , 1660)
In the Reformation, Luther made a fatal mistake. He rejected the notion of a church of “believers,’ in favor of the State church. The State church gave aid and comfort to the general population. It lulled them into a false sense of security, in effect it said “peace, peace, where there was no peace.” As long has you had joined the church,( baptized as infants) you were okay. As long as you bowed the knee to their authority you were safe. Salvation was being an obedient member to whatever denomination you were born into. The State church today is represented by a thousand denominational and non-denominational churches.This modern church model is based on the Catholic model where the power lies in the hands of the priest, which we now call the minister or the pastor. It is true that he does not claim to turn the bread into the body of Jesus or the wine into His blood, but none-the less, the power resides within the one man, who relies on the people to put food on his table. Just like the State church, the focus is not on whether you are actually born again and changed by the power of Christ, the focus is on being a member and being part of their number. Listen to what T.A.Sparks has to say..........
In the destruction of Jerusalem the whole earth was shaken so far as Jewry was concerned. The Temple, as the focal point of that whole world, crashed even with the ground. The priesthood, as gathered up in the high-priestly order, passed away. The temple service ended, and the nation ceased to be an integrated and unified people. These were things capable of being removed. And yet how long they had stood! What forces they had withstood! What confidence there was that they could never cease to be! How assured they were that God was so bound up with it all that it could never be destroyed and cease to be! How they fought and clung to it to the last terrible extremity! But it was of no avail. God was no longer wanting the framework and earthly system, which had taken so much room, and energy, and expenditure, before the really spiritual was reached. The percentage of spiritual value was so small after all, and spiritual interests lay so far along the labyrinthine ways of religious machinery and tradition, that it was not worthwhile. The means to the end was not immediate, that is, there was far too big a distance between the means and the end. There was no immediate touch with the real Divine requirement, and there was far too much that was intermediate. And so it had to go, and, rather than preserve it, God Himself shook it.
What remained after the shaking was just that, and that only, which was Christ in a spiritual and heavenly way: Christ in heaven, and here by His Spirit, the gathering point, or occasion of assembling; Christ in heaven the High Priest and Sacrifice; the order of God’s house here a purely spiritual and heavenly one – not formal, arranged, imposed, imitated, or material. Order grows out of life, and if that Life is Divine, and unchecked, Divine order will be spontaneous. (T.A.Sparks)
Can you envision our own system of worship being swept away? Would your faith still stand?What is the distance today in our own churches between the means and the ends? If the end is the presence of God and the changed life of those who are genuinely born again, and the means is the average church service, is there enough actual ends to justify the means which is the vast majority of our services? Is there any ends at all? If God did not spare the Temple and its systems of worship because it had no spiritual content, will He spare ours? Will the great persecution to come, in part, not be about a cleansing or a refining fire for the Body of Christ? And will this refining fire not bring forth a glorious spotless Bride?
Will we yield to this fire brothers and sisters? Saints,we do not need more teachers. History has shown us that having so many teachers has caused ten thousand of thousands of schisms, James even warns us about this in Chapter 3 "Not many of you should become teachers." What we need saints is for the priesthood to be allowed to come forward and operate as priests in a royal priesthood. I see this coming forth in the great tribulation when our present system and structures has been swept away and what remains and survives is the Body of Christ..................bro Frank