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Church Transformation: Impossible. Cynical Unbelief.
Faith and transformation.
We can think of transformation like a metamorphosis, such as a caterpillar becoming a butterfly. In this way, when scripture says that in Christ we are a new creation, are we or aren't we?
We may at times still think, feel and act like we did before, therefore it takes faith to believe that we are not the same person anymore. We must also remember that the Holy Spirit inspired the scriptures, so it is the Lord himself speaking to us.
Does the Lord have power to do what He's promised?
For many years I looked at the story of the unbelieving soldier in 2 Kings 7 and compared that with Abraham's faith in Romans 4. At the same time I was reading God's promise to Abraham in Genesis 12. For many years I asked the Lord to bless me and make me a blessing.
Then one day I read Ephesians 1:3 (again for a about the 100th time) and the penny dropped. What I was asking the Lord to do he had already done in Christ.
The Bible contains many promises, some are conditional, the "if, then" promises. But many are not conditional, that is, we don't have to do anything to participate in them. This is where faith, literally taking God at His word, comes in. Without faith it is impossible to please God.
God's house is a house of faith. Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. In Christ, all of God's promises are yes and amen (let it be so).
So when it comes to transformation, we can ask ourselves, "am I a new creation or not?"
Abraham looked at His impossible situation yet still took God at His word. On the other hand, the unbelieving soldier in 2 Kings 7 looked at his impossible situation and after hearing the promise of God declared, "even if the windows of heaven opened this is not possible".
God fulfilled His promise, but that soldier didn't participate in it. The opposite happened, he died.
2 kings 7 gives us a wonderful picture of being saved through faith, of what it means to be blessed in the heavenly realm with every spiritual blessing in Christ and to inherit all the riches that are in Him.
Samaria was the capital city of rebellion against God. Samaria was under siege (according to God's righteous judgement) and the people in Samaria were going to die. But the king called on the Name of the Lord, he was wearing sackcloth undergarments (there was a measure of repentance in his heart). The Lord answered the king with a promise.
So it is with us today. When the Lord shows us our rebellion and that we are deserving of death we see our true spiritual condition. We are like the inhabitants of Samaria. The Lord leads us to repentance and then extends to us a promise of salvation.
At that point we can be like Abraham and participate in that promise by faith or we can be like the unbelieving soldier and perish.
2 Kings 7 gives a wonderful picture of what it means to be saved by grace through faith. It also shows us that our spiritual transformation in Christ in instantaneous, although it may take us some time to realise it.
Learning from Abraham.
When the lepers returned to Samaria with their good news, the king was wary. "This might be a trap" he thought (2 Kings 7).
So instead of fully committing to participate in the now fulfilled promise of God, the king of Samaria sent out a search party to scout the enemy camp and report back. They found the leper's report to be true. Then the people rushed out to participate in everything the Lord had graciously promised, but the soldier was trampled to death. As the believers were saved the unbeliever perished.
When we come to Christ in faith for His salvation, at that moment we are transformed, we move from the kingdom of darkness into the light, everything that God has promised is ours. But then, like the king of Samaria, we may hesitate to believe the fullness of God's promises. We have to check things out first.
The Lord knows we are dust, that it may take some time for the "penny to drop" so to speak.
To help us understand more about faith and transformation, becoming a new creation in Christ, we can look at the life of Abraham and how he went on a journey of transformation. Abraham learned to take God at His word and so inherit (participate) in all that God had promised.
When God called Abraham his name was Abram. He was an idol worshipper in the land that would become Babylon. Abram means "father", whereas Abraham means "father of many".
So we can see immediately that Abraham was a sinner who responded to God's call. He wasn't fully obedient as he did not leave everyone and everything behind to follow the Lord. At the beginning of his journey, Abraham brought some of his old life with him, but God didn't cast him away for that.
One of the great lessons we can learn from Abraham, like many other saints in the Old Testament, is that he wasn't perfect but God worked with him. We can see Abraham didn't always take God at His word, rather, he learned to take God at His word.
God put Abraham in many difficult situations to develop his faith. Abraham leaned how to trust God with every aspect of his life. This trust did not happen overnight but grew over many years.
Abrahams faith was credited to him as righteousness. He became everything God had called him to be by believing God had power to do everything He had promised.
It's the same for us today.
Let us also remember that Abraham was looking for a city whose architect and builder is God.
We are part of that city.
Deception, delusion and destruction.
God has promised to destroy the wicked. He has also promised that judgement will begin in His house.
Earlier we looked at the kindness of God, now we must balance that by considering His sternness.
The unbelieving soldier in 2 Kings 7 died because he failed to take God at His word. Not only that we can see the soldier was cynical in his response to the promise of God. He said, "even if the windows of heaven were opened .....". Now this is very serious. We can't mess around with the Lord's promises. They are a matter of life or death.
We saw the same kind of response to God in Jeremiah's day. The people of Jerusalem could not believe that destruction was coming to them. They were the Lord's chosen people in His city with His temple, altar, sacrifices and priesthood. Their response to God's promise of judgement beginning with them was, "that'll never happen".
The same thing happened when the Lord said the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed. It took 70 years to fulfill, but it happened just as He said. The Roman destruction of Jerusalem was a terrible judgement, one that we need to pay serious heed to.
Throughout scripture we can see a road for the wicked. That road begins with deception, moves on to delusion and ends with destruction. I think we also need to carefully reconsider at this point some of what the Lord said during His time on earth. Speaking about the places he visited in Israel, He said it would be better for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgement, because they had not had the Lord speak with them.
Today, millions upon millions of people are reading the scriptures and/or hearing the scriptures read out. Each time that happens, the Lord is speaking. The Lord is the word and His word is spirit. Romans 1 makes it clear, we were at one time all deceived, but God has spoken to us through creation, through the scriptures and finally through Christ.
Therefore, there is no need for us to continue in deception, through Christ, God has made a way for us to escape deception.
But, when we deliberately deny the truth that God sets plainly before us, He gives us over to delusion. Deception is a false belief, but delusion is a fixed false belief.
Then we can add to that God's promise of giving people over to powerful delusion such that they will be destroyed when judgement comes.
Scripture makes it very clear, there is no doubt in my mind. God's judgement is going to begin with the people who are called by His Name. That is the whole of church system; every Pastor and Priest, every Bishop, Deacon and Elder, every worship leader and youth leader and every member of every congregation and fellowship.
"Come out of her my people, lest you share in her sins and lest you receive of her plagues"
"Therefore her plagues will come in one day - death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her".
And what is her response to that promise? It's the same kind of cynical unbelief as the unbelieving soldier in 2 Kings 7, "I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow".
The soldier in 2 Kings 7 was a man on whose arm the king leant. In other words, the soldier was the king's "right-hand man" so to speak. When God's promise came to him he should have known better than to cynically dismiss it.
Likewise, we have thousands and thousands of church leaders and ministers who have been to college, seminary and university. They have their Bachelor's, Master's and PhD's and are considered by many to be "close to the Lord". Yet they have no intention of hearing (paying attention to) the truth.
One of the most powerful delusions gripping the church today is that there will be great end-time revival, then the church will be raptured. Telling a church leader that nothing of the sort is going to occur is like lighting blue touch-paper.
The truth is that the church system is the harlot of Revelation and she is currently deceived, soon to be powerfully deluded prior to destruction. The judgement of the church system is going to be a terrible judgement, carried out at the hands of the World's leaders.
God will put in their hearts to do so.
Repentance, restoration and resurrection.
Concerning the judgement of the church system, the harlot, the Lord has made a way of escape. It's the path of repentance, restoration and resurrection.
Repentance for relying on human thinking and human ways. Compare the structure and the workings of the church and you can see it's the same as any other human organisation. The church at work is not the ekklesia at work and being in church is not the same as being in Christ.
I am convinced the Lord has been working to restore His ekklesia for several decades now, but like Abraham, we have not left all of our old ways behind. But now we will.
What's coming to the church system is a counterfeit revival, complete with counterfeit signs and wonders. This is because the church system has relied on a counterfeit Christ. It has a counterfeit priesthood that offers counterfeit sacrifices on counterfeit altars and preaches a counterfeit gospel. So the church system is going to get counterfeit signs and wonders, a counterfeit revival that will lead to powerful delusion.
The way of escape is repentance from all those counterfeits. Repentance means being transformed by the renewing of our minds. Transformation begins by taking God at His word.
Repentance leads to restoration. Restoration will result is resurrection.
Restoration of the ekklesia will mean judgement for the church system. The Lord is going to make a distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those that are His and those who reject Him.
As I write, fruitful branches are being cut back for them to become more fruitful, whereas the dead branches are being gathered ready to be burned.
"And she will be utterly burned with fire".
It's time for the ekklesia to leave behind the old and dead ways of the church system and undertake a journey of personal transformation. To enter into a new and living way and a new and different future in Christ. To become the city whose architect and builder is God.