Posts tagged ‘purpose of the church’

The Nearly Obsolete Church

What is the purpose of the Church?  To answer that, we need to ask, what is the purpose of Israel?  Some, or perhaps many, of you may be wondering what the connection is.  I’ll tell you.  “…and you–being a wild olive–were grafted in among them….”  Here is the whole verse.  Romans 11:17-18 – But if some of the branches were broken off and you–being a wild olive–were grafted in among them and became a partaker of the root of the olive tree with its richness, do not boast against the branches.  But if you do boast, it is not you who support the root but the root supports you.” TLV

And your point is???

Here is my point.  We, the Church, are grafted in to Israel, to be partakers in the blessings they receive from God.  First and foremost among them the Messiah.  Their Messiah is our Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus).  Whether all, or some of Israel have received Him or not is beside the point.  The fact is that Yeshua is their Messiah regardless of their acceptance of Him.  And He is our Messiah as well, thanks to them.  It is thanks to them because it is through them that the Messiah came.

Just as we share in their blessings as a result of the grafting in, we also share in their purpose.  Not the purpose of being the physical DNA of Yeshua.  That belongs to Israel and Israel alone.  But all through their history, they have had a purpose beyond the source of the Savior.  That being a nation that has been sanctified and made holy, to be set apart as God’s treasure.  They were to be a nation of people who, by their righteous living, pointed to the righteousness of God.  Who by their small size, yet amazing conquest, pointed to the power of God.  Who by their existence, pointed to the faithfulness of God.  And who by their  actions, pointed to the love of God.  By watching this little nation, the world was to see that Israel’s God was like no other god; that He was near to them, not afar off, in fact, that He dwelt with them.

Exodus 19:5 – “…you will be My own treasure from among all people.”

Deuteronomy 4:7-8 – “For what great nation is there that has gods so near to them, as ADONAI our God is whenever we call on Him?  What great nation is there that has statutes and ordinances that are righteous–like all of this Torah that I am setting before you today?”

Deuteronomy 4:20 – But you, ADONAI has taken…to be a people for His own inheritance….”

Deuteronomy 4:33-35 – Has a people ever heard the voice of God speaking from the midst of the fire, as you have heard–and lived?  or has any god ever tried to come to take for himself a nation from within a nation–by trials, by signs and wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great terrors–like all that ADONAI your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?  You were shown so that you might know that ADONAI is God–there is no other besides Him.

Deuteronomy 14:2 – For you are a holy people to ADONAI your God–from all the peoples on the face of the earth, ADONAI has chosen you to be His treasured people.

Deuteronomy 26:18-19 – Now today ADONAI has affirmed you as His treasured people, as He promised you; that you are to keep all His mitzvot [commandments]; that He will set you high above all the nations He has made, for praise, fame and honor; and that you are to be a holy people to ADONAI your God, as He has promised.

Deuteronomy 28:10 – Then all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by the name of ADONAI and they will stand in awe of you.

Deuteronomy 33:29 – Happy are you, O Israel!  Who is like you, a people saved by ADONAI, the Shield of your help and the Sword of your triumph?  Your enemies will cower before you, and you will trample on their backs.

Ezekiel 37:26b-27 – I will set up My Sanctuary among them forever.  My dwelling place will be over them.  I will be their God and they will be My people.  Then the nations will know that I am ADONAI who sanctifies Israel, when My Sanctuary is in their midst forever.

The purpose of Israel is to point to God; to be witnesses to who He is (Isaiah 43:10).  The purpose of the Church, as a branch grafted in to Israel, is to do the same.  Of course additional to that, we are to be witnesses of Christ (Acts 1:8), and emissaries of Yeshua making disciples of all nations.

So we have determined the purpose of the Church, but let me ask you this question: how can we point to God, be witnesses of who He and Yeshua are, and make disciples of all nations when we look the same as every other person on the planet?

I remember when I was growing up going to church twice on Sunday and then Wednesday evening prayer service.  Then there were the other things.  There was youth group, Bible studies, choir, etc.  There were any number of ways to be involved, to keep my focus on God and His Word, and not on this world.  My family looked different from the families of my friends and neighbors because our lives revolved around God and His service, whether that was in the Church building itself, or in service to the community, or in worship and Bible study.  Whatever it was, it kept our eyes and hearts pointed in His direction.

What do our churches look like today?  Sunday morning service.  Sunday school during the school year; over the summer, that just gets in the way of family time.  Sunday evening service has been sacrificed on the alter of family time as well.  So has Wednesday evening prayer service…or maybe that was on the alter of school activities and “we are just too busy every other night of the week, so we need that night to just stay home.”  Youth group is attended as long as it doesn’t get in the way of …?  Even Sunday morning service is negotiable depending on 4H, the county fair, this trip to that place, that trip to the other place, and if we are honest, if we are not too tired from the busyness of everything else.

Busyness.  Yes, that is it.  The Church is actively being sacrificed on the alter of the god of Busyness.  I do not write this as someone who has no guilt.  In fact, I could be a lot more involved than I am.  Not that I am not involved at all, I am.  But there are things that I and my family could be involved with that we are not.  And the truth is it is because we have allowed church to have a priority level of about two.

To make matters worse, when we put church on the back burner, God tends to get pushed back there to the other back burner.  Our Bible reading and study at home slips until it is maybe once or twice a week, or not at all.

So what do our lives point to?  Who or what are they a witness of?  They point to Busyness.  They are a witness of Busyness.  Do we lead people to Christ?  No, why would we talk about Him when we barely give Him the time of day?  He’s an afterthought…oh yah!  It’s Sunday.  Maybe I should go to church.

Look at Israel!  Read through the book of Leviticus…its in the Old Testament.  Their entire lives revolved around keeping themselves righteous for God.  Being an Israelite was not just DNA, and it was more than cultural.  Being an Israelite was the definition of being set aside as a unique person for God.  They were intended to look different from everyone else.  God lived with them, and their lives revolved around Him.

Look at the Church.  The Spirit of God lives right inside each one of us!  How much more should our lives revolve around Him?  We already have righteousness through Messiah.  We have already received the salvation that they (Israel) worked for.  And yet we find it nearly impossible to set ourselves apart from the world.

How can the world see that God is worth living for if we don’t live for Him?  It is high time the Church tear down the idles of this world, and turn our faces to YAHWEH, the God of the Israelites and the God of the Church.

 

As the Church Goes, So Goes the USA: The Inextricable Link, Purpose, and Final Hope

Election day in the United States was nearly two weeks ago. Everywhere I looked I saw people mourning the loss of their nation.  There was an air of resignation, dismay, even doom as people battled hard to change minds and votes.  The decision has been made, and not everyone is happy.  There is unrest among the losing team.  And even among the winners, there is an air of uncertainty.  Below are the words I wrote on election day, before the results were in.  I pray that as you read, you will be blessed by this message of hope.

Many who have found peace on this day do not have it because they are confident in the choice of their vote.  They do not have it because they know that God is in control and that He will restore America to its former greatness.  They have the peace that passes all understanding knowing that America is in decline, and that it will never be great again, BECAUSE God is in control.  The United States of America is not, and has never been, intended to be the end time focus of the world.  

Israel is.

In fact, it is widely agreed upon that the United States isn’t even mentioned in any of the end time prophecies in the Bible.  But the United States has had a purpose in God’s sovereign plan.  And it was/is an amazing, incredible, humbling plan!

A few years ago I was praying about the rapidly increasing rate of brutal persecution of Christians, particularly in the Middle East.  Honestly, the rise of ISIS terrified me.  God spoke one line to me during that time of prayer.  I have been praying and seeking the meaning behind it ever since.  He said, “You are Joseph.”  What I did know immediately was that He was referring to Joseph, son of Jacob, who was sold into Egypt by his brothers only to end up saving his entire family from destruction decades later in a great famine.  Beyond that, I had no other understanding.

“You are Joseph” has been on my mind and in my heart ever since.  I have prayed and prayed.  Did God mean that I was somehow going to be a place of safety for my own extended family?  Did He mean that the state I living in here in the US would be a place of safety for people, particularly Christians?  Was it broader than that?  Is the United States Joseph, and we are a place of refuge for persecuted Christians from other lands around the world?  I didn’t know, so I continued to pray and wait on the Lord.

It wasn’t until I was sitting in church this Sunday where Pastor has been preaching a series on the entire book of Genesis (we started this time last year, and it has been incredible, by the way).  Sunday’s focus was on the reuniting of Joseph with his brothers.  Suddenly God began to speak to me and slowly on flushed out the meaning behind the word He gave me so many years ago.

Joseph is the United States, or more specifically, the Church in the United States While there are similarities to the stories, it is not an exact parallel.  Allow me to explain.  In pain and despair, Joseph was sent to a land other than his home.  But God had a plan, unknown to Joseph at the time, to use him to save the land, and especially, the family from whom the Messiah would come, from a famine that He foreknew decades in the future.  The first settlers to come to America from Europe were Christians.  They fled because they were being persecuted by the state-run church.  Unbeknownst to them, God had a plan to use them to preserve His Church, and to save it from the famine of the Spirit and the Word which resulted from the influence of the government.

In Matthew 28:19-20 Yeshua commanded His disciples (the fathers of the Church) to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey God’s commands.  The Church, under state rule, had become corrupted to the point it was no longer capable of fulfilling this command.  God preserved a remnant by sending it to a new land from which missionaries in greater numbers than any other nation have been sent out to all the world doing exactly as Yeshua commanded.  In Matthew 24:14 (TLV), while explaining the signs of the end times, Yeshua said this, “This Good News of the kingdom shall be proclaimed in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”  Last year I heard a report on Christian radio from a missionary outreach organization (who’s name I cannot remember) which said that approximately 10% of the world was currently still unreached with the Gospel, but that 10% was expected to be reached within ten years or less.

While God has preserved the Church to carry out His command, He has also used the United States as a safe haven for Jews.  The state of Israel was re-established thanks in large part to the leadership of the United States in the late 1940’s.  And we have been one of their strongest allies for decades.  However, now is coming the time when Israel must stand alone, as is prophesied in Ezekiel.  During the end times, the United States will not be a powerful force able to stand by Israel’s side.

Today, as the Church comes closer and closer to fulfilling its command from Yeshua, its influence declines, and along with it, declines the United States of America.  The mission for the Church is drawing to a close, and so is the need for the United States to be a powerful force on the world stage.

Knowing this, what should the Church expect in the near future?  Regardless of the outcome of today’s Presidential Election, we can expect a sharp decline in our freedoms of speech and religion.  Just as the Israelites lost favor and freedom in Egypt after Joseph was gone, so we will lose favor and freedoms here in the United States.  We already see the beginning of that, and it will continue.

But also as Egypt suffered God’s judgment for the mistreatment of His chosen people, so this nation will meet with God’s judgment for its mistreatment and rejection of Yeshua’s Bride, the Church.  Prepare yourselves.  Remember that Israel was affected by the first 3 of the ten plagues on Egypt, then God exempted Israel from the rest.  I don’t know what God’s judgment on America will look like.  I suspect we will know it when we see it.  In the end, Israel was bodily removed from Egypt, guided to their Promised Land by Moses.  And soon, very soon, we too will be bodily removed and guided to our Promised Land, the place where Yeshua has gone to prepare with many mansions.  We will be guided by Yeshua Himself!

REJOICE Brothers and Sisters!!!  Our mission is nearly complete!  When it is, WE GET TO GO HOME!!!!!

Today, remember the promise of Yeshua, “What I am leaving with you is shalom—I am giving you my shalom.  I don’t give the way the world gives.  Don’t let yourselves be upset or frightened.”  (John 14:27, CJB).  Don’t look for peace and comfort in the election results or anything else in this world.  We have peace of a whole other kind!!!  We know God’s purpose, and we know God’s plan.  Don’t mourn this world too much.  Everything worth loving here will be hundreds of times better in Heaven!!!

Come quickly Lord Yeshua!!!!!  Amen!

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