Well, hopefully you have had a chance to watch Torben Sondergaard's The Last Reformation. And I would really love to hear your comments about what you thought. I suspect there were some that were freaked out. After all, this is nothing like what you experience in your Church. And I'm sure there were others who were excited ... "This is what I've been looking for!" No matter which end of the spectrum you are on, I sincerely hope the movie created a genuine introspection on your part.
As Christians, we can no longer avoid the uncomfortable conversation ... there is a growing schism among the Western Church. People who five years ago were comfortable "in the box" suddenly find themselves at odds with what they are coming to realize is a powerless Church. And they also find themselves in conflict with people [who are quite content where they are]; people who they've worshipped beside for decades. So more and more Christians are becoming dissatisfied with the status quo of the Western Church. And I would suspect that there are more than a few who are caught between those two paradigms ... out of the box, but not yet comfortable to let go of their traditions.
Everyone's faith comes with attachments. And those attachments differ, depending on which religious traditions you embrace. But here is what we need to understand: Jesus wasn't promoting man's traditions. He came representing the Father, with a clear message to His Disciples of how His Father wanted the Gospel of the Kingdom advanced. The Disciples were to wait for the Holy Spirit to come upon them, and then baptize people in both water and the Spirit; healing the sick, casting out demons, raising the dead, and spreading the Good Word that all this is possible because our Father in Heaven wants to partner with us to bring Heaven to Earth. All that -- the works and the Gospel Message -- is all about POWER.
The problem is that the Western Church has preached the Gospel [without the Power component] for so long, they are freaked out when they see it! The Western Church proclaims they have the correct knowledge of the Bible (in all their variations), but what we need is the obedience the Bible calls for. The Church has become a system. We even take tests to see what "gift" we have, or what "office" we should occupy. But if we look for a model, or instructions, on how Jesus told the Disciples to "do Church", it is the Church that sprang up in the Book of Acts. It is the only Book of the Bible that clearly shows the Disciples doing all that Jesus taught them while He was on earth.
But how many of your fellow Christians do you see healing a sick person, then baptizing them in water, and then urging the Baptism of the Holy Spirit to come upon them as it did in the Book of Acts? Right now, some of you may be thinking, "But I'm not a Pastor. I don't have the authority in the Church to baptize someone". But we are called by Jesus to do it! Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 28:18-20).
Our traditions have reduced millions of Christians to sitting in a pew, or a class. They get taught and receive knowledge, but unless you go out to do "all that Jesus commanded us to do", you are not going to bear fruit or advance the Kingdom. So how much is that knowledge really worth in the Kingdom of God? Since we are not just supposed to be "hearers of the Word", how much does that model result in "doers of the Word"?
But here is a warning that I want to give... Yes, Christians are breaking free of the powerless Western Church, but there's one thing we must guard against. The challenge when we leave "the box" is not to create the same thing we just left! How does it advance the Kingdom if we teach the same way and act the same way? If we never actually become that new wine that can't be contained in the old wineskin? How can we expect to get new results by continuing our old behaviors? As one commenter posted, "House Churches can be just as dead as those who gather in "the box" ".
As we get closer to Jesus's return, we are going to see a split in the Western Church. One side thinks we have evolved beyond the actions of the Disciples in that First Century. They think that laying on hands to heal the sick, delivering a Christian from demonic torment, or baptizing in the Spirit is not for today. We are to submit to the authority of the Pastor and the Church system. The other side has been awakened to the power of the Holy Spirit in the Believer [to bear much fruit for the Kingdom] and they want to see the Body of Christ become the Church Jesus intended it to be.
The bottom line is this .... I don't care if a Christian goes to a 5,000 member mega-Church, or is part of 20 devoted Believers who meet in a home. If there is no fruit being produced by either group, then the Holy Spirit is not present. And when the Holy Spirit is absent, there is no power to fight the spiritual battle against the sinful nature of this world. And that is not what Jesus had in mind for His Church. Yes, we receive the Holy Spirit the moment we believe in Jesus Christ as our Savior. But I want the Fire of the Holy Spirit. Remember that John the Baptist said He baptized with water, but "He [Jesus] will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire". It was that fire that changed the world; that needs to change the world today.
God poured out His Holy Spirit with fire and signs, healings, and spiritual gifts on the Church of the Book of Acts. He knew if the Early Church was going to survive the horrific attacks that would come against it, Believers would need the spiritual power of the Holy Spirit to counter those attacks and advance His Kingdom on earth. He has awakened us in the 21st Century Church to the same truth. We need the joy of being filled with the power of the Holy Spirit to counter the ambivalent, compromising, and weak institutionalized Church. As we begin to walk out the power that the Book of Acts Church modeled for us, we will see God renewing us; restoring us; and equipping us to do the works Jesus did, and even greater works -- all with the advancement of the Kingdom on earth in mind.
This is an exciting time to be a Christian ... let us walk in the footsteps of those Early Disciples and see the True Church established in power and obedience to Jesus's commands upon our lives. Let us be like the new wine ... so alive with our conversion from the powerless Church that we can no longer be contained in the old vessel. There is reformation and revival brewing in the Church. That is the legacy left to us by the Church in the Book of Acts. It's time we picked up the mantle!
Jeremiah 6:16 Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’