Mark 11:17 MSG
17 And then he taught them, quoting this text: My house was designated a house of prayer for the nations; You’ve turned it into a hangout for thieves.
For the church universal, this should be their greatest days, to show the marvellous glory of God, going out into the highways and biways compelling the lost to come to Jesus.
Throughout time the church has experienced revivals of God in their communities. Sparked maybe by one or two people leading into revivals that saw thousands upon thousands turn to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Let me go back to the 1500’s and a man by the name of Martin Luther.
Martin Luther’s ’95 Theses’ and the Reformation
Taken from: www.biography.com/people/martin-luther-9389283
On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther, angry with Pope Leo X’s new round of indulgences to help build St. Peter’s Basilica, nailed a sheet of paper with his 95 Theses on the University of Wittenberg’s chapel door. Though Luther intended these to be discussion points, the 95 Theses laid out a devastating critique of the indulgences, good works (which sometimes involved monetary donations) that popes could grant to the people to cancel out penance for sins, as corrupting people’s faith. Luther also sent a copy to Archbishop Albert Albrecht of Mainz, calling on him to end the sale of indulgences. Aided by the printing press, copies of the 95 Theses spread throughout Germany within two weeks and throughout Europe within two months.
His actions created a move that went around the world which we now know as “The Lutheran Churcch”.
Then in 1904 a man, Evan Roberts started to travel around the country and spawned a revival that led to 150,000 people converted and added to the churches and chapels in Wales. (citing: http://truthinhistory.org/the-welsh-revival-of-1904-1905-2.html)
These revivals and many more, like that of the one in Los Angeles on Azusa Street.
The Azusa Street Revival was a historic revival meeting that took place in Los Angeles, California, and is the origin of the Pentecostal movement. It was led by William J. Seymour, an African American preacher. It began with a meeting on April 9, 1906, and continued until roughly 1915. (citing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azusa_Street_Revival)
Again, they saw multiple thousands saved and added to the churches and chapels around the country, just like that in the early church.
Acts 2:42-47 KJV
42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
So, we have examples throughout history where the church was in it’s finest hours, days, years. There was one major thing throughout all of these revivals, they were not personality centered, rather they were God centered.
Preachers acting like some “superstar”, think they are God’s gift to the church. It seems like their memory has a short circuit for they have forgot who it was that called them to minister. They have stolen what belongs to God, the glory!
In the infant years of North America being settled little communities sprung up across the land. They didn’t have steak houses, bars, or coffee house to gather in. Their lives all intersected at one place, the community church.
It is my understanding that in the Jewish communities around the world that their synagogues are built within walking distance of each community. Evangelicals could learn a great lesson from this model of worship.
I grew up going to a small country church where tall poplars lined the one side of the yard where in the summer and autumn the corn would grow tall, if you looked out the window of the church you would feel like you were right in the middle of the crop.
We didn’t have any choir or great band, up until the passing of my grandfather the only instrument in the church was my grandfather’s guitar which he played for the song service. Their was no permanent song leader, the pastor would pick someone to come up at the beginning of the evening service. It’s capacity for seating would not be any greater than fifty, if even that.
I have often thought about these super large congregations if God himself would approve. The pastor is the sheperd, yet I would venture to guess he knows very few by first name.
As I turn to the Scriptures I find the Apostle Paul outlining the structure of each local church and it’s objectives.
Ephesians 4: KJV
11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
I sometimes tune into some Christian programming just to hear some preacher expound on the Word of God. Then instead they are not preaching, but, has his son preach. Some of these super churches the pastor is grooming his son to take over when he is called home to glory. This is nepotism.
In the Cambridge English Dictionary defines nepotism this way:
In my own opinion I feel this is not Scriptural, because one has to be called by God, not a man. I have been among congregations where the son is being molded to be the next pastor and I have found their is jealousy, animosity, and sometimes down right hatred.
Now, let me circle back to my opening comment that this should be the church’s finest hour, days, years. Unfortunately it is not, it has ceded it’s authority in almost all areas where the world needs them. As spoken by the Apostle Paul apostasy has crept in.
2 Thessalonians 2: KJV
1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
4 Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
5 Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
They have lost their saltiness the very question Christ posed to the disciples. Someone has said, “the church is becoming worldly, the world is becoming church”. I feel that this statement is true. The church of Jesus Christ is to be seperate, different, a light in the darkness, but they have pushed those things aside so that they might appeal and have more attraction to the world. Preacher, preach the Word, give it to God and let God give the increase. God’s wisdom is far greater than any finite mind of any preacher on earth.
The church will have to face a great shaking.
Hebrews 12: KJV
27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
God knows how to get man’s attention so that His glory will be shown throughout the earth. It may take one or two people just getting together for a serious prayer session. Or a pastor who has had enough and God begins to renew his spirit and causes the pastor to have a fresh vision.
I am not able to physically be part of a congregation due to my ability to be mobile. Yet, as I write this sentence the following verse has come to mind.
Matthew 18:20 KJV
20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. (emphasis mine)
Now there are a lot of different events where two or three get together even thousands. This does not mean that Christ is there in their midst. The difference between a crowd at a football game and what Christ was speaking of is the condition He gave. They must be gathered together in His’ name.
That is what happened with all of the fore mentioned revivals, just two or three getting together in the name of Christ and seeking God’s face.