When you think about the church, your first thought is probably the building you go to. Then you would think about the name on that building. (Some use schools, hotels or other available buildings to meet in.) Most churches usually announce their distinctives up front, while others hide it in their doctrines though it doesn’t take long to see what a group believes. Some are denominations and others refer to themselves as independent and non-denominational. So you might respond by saying I go to the Catholic, Baptist, Reformed, Brethren, Pentecostal, Community… church in whatever location this building is found. And yes, many do like to attend via the internet. When you look into the doctrines, even the independents, you will see a conformity to those who went before them or those they broke away from and sometimes a mix of beliefs. You will see a lot of isms such as Catholicism, Calvinism, Arminianism, Pentecostalism, Dispensationalism but everyone will believe a certain way albeit very different ways from each other. They will all say we believe in Jesus, but do they?
You can’t believe in Jesus if you do not accept His words. You can’t accept His words if you add to them or subtract from them of which every group that calls themselves the church does. Think about it; why would you change the words of Jesus if you say you believe? Jesus said John 14:6 “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” That means there is only one way. Understanding this one little verse shows very clearly that the above list of isms is actually impossible and cannot be truth. So, if you answered I am a Baptist or Pentecostal or Methodist or Catholic to name a few, you would be wrong in saying this is the church Jesus intended the church to look like. Yes, every group will say this is what we believe that Jesus is saying but Jesus Himself said Mark 16:15 “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well. 19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” Therefore the church should look like the Gospels and Acts. These verses tell us that Jesus will confirm His words, so where is the power? Jesus said Luke 24:48 “You are witnesses of these things. 49 I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” No power tells us the church is off track.
Jesus said He would build His church, not man. Jesus is the head of the church so we must do it His way and His way only. Ephesians 1:18 “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” We were supposed to go out in His power, not our own. Man’s power and desire to be the head just ended up with buildings, programs and other gospels to show for. The church was not able to defeat our enemies because of this. Jesus said Matthew 16:18 “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock (“You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”) I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” The gates of Hades did overcome and the abomination that causes desolation was allowed to decimate the church due to disobedience to the words of Jesus. We were told Psalm 127:1 “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:2 “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” The church has laboured in vain. I am sure you have been told at the church you are part of, this is the way, the truth and the life but if there is no confirmation by power, it is not the way to eternal life. Also be careful you have not been deceived by satan’s masquerades in those churches who say they have power.
John 6:35 “Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” No one likes to ask what happens if you believed wrong and are deceived even though we were warned, do not be deceived. If we truly believed, then Mark 9:23 “Everything is possible for one who believes.” We would also be doing as Jesus did and doing as His disciples did. John 14:12 “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.” Mark 6:12 “They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.”
Since the church looks nothing like the church Jesus started, we know that the church has veered off course. Not only is it off course but lies in desolation just as we were warned. Daniel 9:27 “And at the temple he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him.” 2 Thessalonians 2:4 “He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God.” The hope we have as a church is Daniel 7:26 “the court will sit, and his power will be taken away and completely destroyed forever. 27 Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of all the kingdoms under heaven will be handed over to the holy people of the Most High. His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey him.” There is hope as this desolation is coming to an end. The remnant (we have God’s promise to David) will rise up and go to the ends of the earth, clothed in power from on High. When God turns His face back to the church, the church will once again flow in power and there will be great joy. Acts 8:6 “When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. 7 For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many, and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. 8 So there was great joy in that city.”
The church lies in ruins but there is hope, even though we do not deserve the grace of God. Matthew 24:22 “If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. 23 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you ahead of time.” The church will rise up again. Acts 15:16 “‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, 17 that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, even all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things’— 18 things known from long ago.” But we must turn from our wicked ways. Mark 1:15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” The true church is not a building with a name on it but 1 Peter 2:9 “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” Acts 2:38 “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.”