Friday, May 05, 2006

Denominations in the Last Days

.... Despite the rise of denominations, the true church is a mystical, spiritual entity that has always transcended such labels. Furthermore, it has a destiny with the fullness of Christ through seeking to know Him intimately. Therefore, the Bible fortells an end time reformation that will close this communication gap through a renewed focus on Jesus, and that will permeate every quarter of the church; and this, in turn, will bring the cherished goal of unity for which Jesus prayed so long ago:

.... ". . .till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ . . ."

(Eph 4:13)

.... But even so, there will be a challenge. Jesus prayed for our unity because He knew this hour would present its difficulties. For that last, great movement of the Holy Spirit on the earth, called "the Knowledge of the Son of God", will have to compete with a clever demonic counterpart. This will be a very self-centerered emphasis that will somehow be presented with a form of godliness; and this, too, will permeate the entire church of the end times (1 Tim 4:1; 2 Tim 3:1-5; 2 Thes 2:3).
.... So will men become lovers of themselves, or lovers of God? An unmistakable battle line will be drawn between them, and the answer will target the very core of our existance (2 Timothy 3:1-5); and for good or for ill, the doctrinal cohesion of all our modern denominations will be challenge with it. So how will these two very powerful yet opposite forces affect us?
.... Jesus seems to acknowledge that denominations will still exist in the church of the Last Days, though they may be different from the way we understand them today. They are demoninations as He sees them, when the time of the end shall come. We find this clue in the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). For in this parable the church is represented by two mind sets (the wise and the foolish,) which are the two distinct sides of the end time church we've described. Yet each mind set consists of five distinct members, and not simply of one.
.... So in some minor ways, each side of the end time church may still be fragmented. They will achieved almost complete agreement, for better or worse, though slight distinctions will remain until He appears. Perhaps some residual effects from the old denominations will influence them still, though their differences will be essentially superficial by this time. We will continue this discussion in our next posting, which appears below.


  • Kurt said...
    The presence of denominations is quite unfortunate. While overall some are more Christ-centered than others, each has its true believers and its pretenders.

    Even the non-denominational churched aren't ideal. They tend to isolate themselved from all other churches. At least within denominations they share resources. Too many non-denominationals do this.

    I attend a Calvary Chapel. Calvary Chapel's are more like a family of non-demonimational churches with unified beleifs, rather than a denomination. I started with just a single church that branched off more and more churches. Each is autonomous, with no organizational structure linking them, just a focus on Jesus Christ and systematically teaching through His Word.

    3/18/2006 8:23 AM

    Cleopas said...
    Hi Kurt,

    I like the structure you've described for Calvary Chapel churches, and I was wondering about their strategy for starting new churches. Apparently, as you've described with the Russia team at your church, their preferred method is to send in a team. But apparently they are also flexible enough to send in individuals couples, like you and Michele going to Uganda. That's good! Because the best 'method' is to follow the Holy Spirit!

    Non-denominational churches do have their own sets of problems too, or at least it would be fair to say areas that are problematic. I would say that their chief problem (at least in an initial sense) is in keeping their doctrine pure. Their loose structure combined with Christian media allows a cross section of ideas that can be healthy, but it can also be bad. I'm not sure how to clean that one up, except by promoting a Christ-centered perspective that promotes discernment in the people themselves, and that teaches them to walk in the spirit.

    Good thoughts. You've gotten me thinking about some things too.

    3/18/2006 2:10 PM

    Kurt said...

    I'm not sure if I am qualified to speak on Cavary Chapels' strategies on church planting. One thing is for sure - it is Spirit lead. Most CC's were started by humble servants of Jesus who desire to see this simple idea of keeping Jesus at the front of all we do. A majority were started by individuals that God called to start a new plant.

    As for the team that went to Russia - it was a two week short term trip that my wife was a part of. They helped the local CC's with outreach projects and street witnessing, We are sending another team this year. Part of that team is a couple and a single man that will be staying there as long term missionaries.

    Also later this year, good friends of ours are moving to Spain to start a Bible study among university students and to see what God does with it.

    3/18/2006 8:49 PM

    berry said...
    HI Loren,

    My apologies for not touching base sooner. My job is a flood right now.

    I have been thinking of the whole use of ekklesia lately. One conclusion I have is that true ekklesia (Christ centered gathering) happens in spite of the immaturities of churches and denominations.

    I know there are those that would say the whole church is lost today and has lost sight of what is truly an ekklesia, but I think the Holy Spirit works above and beyond this.

    The Spirits work in our inner man is always pointing us to Jesus and when the immature church gets off track the Holy Spirit within us puts a caution there.

    I differentiate between the immature church and the heretical church. One needs maturity and the other needs Jesus.

    p.s. I really like the new design.

    3/19/2006 10:36 AM

    Unchained Slave said...
    This is a much more focused article than my own, where I echoed an old teacher's question, "If Jesus Christ were to visit us on the Sabbath, which church would He attend?"

    It is still a valid question. There are so many denominations that claim to be 'The Church' that they have completely lost focus of what the definition of the church is, and who it serves...

    I think the bottom line starts with Joshua 24:15b "But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

    As individuals, families and churches we need to LIVE that.

    As you, Kurt, and Berry have all said, Christ is the HEAD.

    p.s. I like the new design too.

    3/20/2006 5:13 PM

    Cleopas said...
    Hi Kurt,

    I agree that all churches have their true and pretended believers. But near the end, I believe they will be sorted out.

    Think about it this way. Why do people attend church at all, if they are not really serious about it? Maybe there's something like a family connection involved. Their spouse is a believer, or their parnets or something. But Jesus said that in the last days a man's enemies would be those of his own household.

    Under that scenario, true Christians are faithful to Him even when their family is against them for it. So it really comes down to a very personal, sacrificial committment in thier case, and Jesus actually portrays this as the norm.

    On the other matter, on church planting. This is a subject I've been thinking and praying about lately. Paul came to a new city with a team, a nucleus of a church, and built the rest of the new church around it. But when he eventually left, he left some of his team and took some of the new converts to replace them, as well as some of the former team members, and moved on to another city.

    But then of course, you have Philip evangelizing on his own. Hmm.

    3/20/2006 8:08 PM

    Cleopas said...
    Hi Berry,

    A very good distinction between the immature and the heretical, and of course I think we would all agree with your distinction.

    After all, how much of our early beliefs do we still adhere to? I'll bet we've all adjusted as we've learned more. A good word about patience and forbearance -- must by why your kids are so nice :-)

    3/20/2006 8:11 PM

    Cleopas said...
    Hi David,

    I think we all agree then, that the answer is in Christ and not simply in a church. The last time I ran this article, most of those who responded were from the 'other' side of the end time church.

    For those of you who would like to read David's article, please click here and let the Lord enlighten you. David is a profound thinker with excellent insights, and a good friend.

    3/20/2006 11:42 PM

    By Blogger Cleopas, at 5:32 PM  

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