Report From The Tower
I wrote an article yesterday entitled "My Kind Of Church". In that article, I talk about the kind of church that I would like to attend but unfortunately, I have not ever been able to find other than in the recesses of my imagination. My imaginary church conforms with my understanding of the scriptures and in my mind, this should be the church that everyone should want to belong to and attend. But alas, church assembly in the actual realm does not resemble "my kind of church" at all. The best of the churches of my actual range of experience have matched up with a few of the ideal characteristics I put forth in yesterdays article.
I find that when I assess my own condition, for example, I realize that I totally and utterly surrendered my life and my will and everything that I am to Jesus Christ more than twenty years ago. The challenge has been, of course, to make that an every day reality since the day that I made those pledges. I can see many stretches of my life where Jesus Christ gave me the strength to walk that out. I can also look back and see there were times when my own will, desires and plans crept in and dominated my decision making. There then followed those horrific times of self realization that my own decisions had not been, in fact, so totally Christ originated, but that self had surreptitiously come to life and needed to be reckoned dead all over again. And so, the process continues on for all of you who have done as I have done. You have totally surrendered to Christ. You trust that Jesus Christ is giving you the strength to walk that out, since it cannot possibly be accomplished in the flesh. And yet, as you look back, in review, you recognize there were times when the things you did were probably more your idea than they were the mind of Christ. The recognition of that horrifies you and it keeps you humble I am sure, as it does me.
And so, we linger somewhere along the line of the question of balance. We are positioned somewhere between the desire of Christ that we are to walk in love toward every man and the knowledge that there are times when we must separate from men and assemblies of men. And yet, we recognize that if we always linger around the unifying force of love, we might tend to convince ourselves that we should always bear with the sins of any body of believers. We might always put up with and bear with their every failing. We certainly would never leave a church or a body of believers for any reason if we always and without any reservation applied these principles without any countervailing force of balance.
I have on my mind right now the second chapter of Andrew Murray's book "Absolute Surrender". The second chapter is titled "The Fruit Of The Spirit Is Love". I think that anyone who is angry, offended, hurt or otherwise out of sorts with respect to their local church should make the free download of this book to your Kindle Reader and read this second chapter. Absolutely applied, this chapter would plead a perfect case that there would be no reason why anyone should ever leave a church where believers are working together in some fashion to serve God. No matter how low the church function, Murray's second chapter would argue the position that we should stay put, intercede for the believers and try to make a difference inside. Read this chapter and do you not come away feeling that we ought NEVER to leave a church or separate from a body of believers?
I do not believe I am exaggerating. It is a wonderful thing for brothers to dwell together in unity. It is a very hard thing to go it alone in Christ. Murray writes that "It is only when God's people stand as one body, one before God in the fellowship of love, one toward another in deep affection, one before the world in a love that the world can see--it is only then that they will have power to secure the blessing which they ask of God. Remember that if a vessel that ought to be one whole is cracked into many pieces, it cannot be filled."
And so, when we have determined that we must separate from the church where we have been gathering to, we need to examine ourselves. Has selfishness crept in and even triumphed? Murray writes that "when man sinned, why was it that he sinned? Selfishness triumphed--he sought self instead of God. And just look! Adam at once begins to accuse the woman of having led him astray. Love to God had gone, love to man was lost. Look again: of the first two children of Adam the one becomes a murderer of his brother...Self is the great curse, whether in its relation to God, or to our fellow men in general, or to fellow Christians, thinking of ourselves and seeking our own. Self is our greatest curse."
I do not lightly present Andrew Murray's words. They have been on my mind: words like this...every single time I have had to withdraw from an assembly. To withdraw from a church is a death. It is a defeat. It is a terrible thing. It will kill something within you. It is something to be avoided if there is any way to avoid it. We often think that we are being valiant for the truth, and so we stand on principle. So it was during the reformation during the bitter divisiveness between Lutheranism and the Calvinistic Churches with regard to the Lords supper. We live in a world today where there are more than 120,000 Christian denominations. I wonder, when the accounts are settled, how many of those will be found to have been God's idea and how many were mens idea?
I conclude when I look back at all of this historical divisiveness that it is very probable that many great men probably made some very great mistakes as touching some of these decisions that were made. It is frightening that great men, who have studied themselves approved, have made so many decisions that have been divisive and against the unity of the body. We have been divided and it does not seem to me that Christ was behind all of the dividing. Furthermore, it gives me halt as I examine my own life and make my own decisions. Will I be able to say that every time I separated from a group of believers was God's idea rather than my idea? What is the likelihood that a man may be deceived in this area? I suspect it is quite high. The proverb states that "every mans way is right in his own eyes." So, our own conviction in our rightness is probably not enough.
So it is that this side of the question of balance tends to propel me back into working with believers who are, at some level, trying to do the work of God on the Earth. I truly desire to walk in love toward all men and especially, toward my brethren in Christ. It is also true that love and absolute surrender to Christ leads men to valiant and fervent intercession for the church. Quoting Murray one final time in a paragraph most appropriate for our time, he writes that "The state of Christ's Church is indescribably low. Plead for God's people that he would visit them, plead for each other, plead for all believers who are trying to work for God. Let love fill your heart. Ask Christ to pour it out afresh into your heart every day. Try to get it into you by the Holy Spirit of God".
But alas, there is another side to the question of balance: one not addressed by Murray. For the principles espoused by Murray, if they were absolutely applied in any and every circumstance would have made it problematic for believers to have at any time come out of an assembly. We know that Revelation 18 commands us to come out. There is a time when coming out is the only option. The question of balance is this: when are we to come out?
No one would have ever exited the synagogues if it had been possible to dwell together in unity in any and every case. Neither would any have ever exited from Roman Catholicism. We know there is another side to the question of balance. We cannot dwell together in unity with the cults who teach another Jesus or who bring forth another gospel or who work by the power of another spirit. We can have no fellowship with a table of devils. So, there are clear cases on the other end of this spectrum where we absolutely have to separate from assemblies where the situation has become one where the Lord clearly shows that it is not a redemptive case. The case is one that will not change; the people will never repent; the rot is too thorough and complete. There is no bringing this particular dead thing back to life; it has been too far corrupted. The Holy Spirit is the only one who can reveal the exact situation in every individual case.
More often though, the cases of the individual assemblies are stretched out somewhere along the line of the question of balance. One assembly has a pastor who while benevolent and kind, rules the roost and controls everything. He preaches 90% of the meetings. Will you be able to remain in such a place? If so, for how long? Only the Holy Ghost can say. How much sin in the assembly can we wink at? How much love of money can be borne? How much manipulation are we to bear? Just where does the prosperity teaching push over the line to the place where the need to separate overrides the desire for unity? No man can give you the answer. Jesus is the one who places us in His body. He is the one who distributes the gift of the Spirit. Only Jesus can lead you to leave and only He can reposition you in His body. You certainly cannot do a transplant yourself. You are only a body part, not the whole body. Yet, it is so easy to self deceive in these matters. Be very careful. Your enemy is on the prowl, seeking whom He may devour.
The case and condition of the body in the United States is so dire that the argument for separation is growing stronger and stronger. To remain inside an assembly makes you a partaker of all things good and all things bad about that assembly at the same time. False teaching in that assembly will certainly corrupt and rot you over time from the inside out. Will you accept the ordination of homosexual ministers and still remain inside your denomination over a desire for unity? These questions are getting hotter and hotter right now? More than half of our ordained ministers now deny that the virgin birth of Jesus Christ is an absolute fact. Can you remain submitted under such a theologian and not suffer dire consequences, for Jesus told us to "be careful what you hear". Will you still retain the authority to cast out demons in the name of Jesus Christ if you join yourself to a church or a denomination where the accepted teaching is that the church is not to cast out demons any more? Can you remain inside such a church without suffering for it?
Finally, thousands upon tens of thousands of such churches line our streets. Each has a pastor elder and a few have more than one. Many have a board of leaders. God has sent prophets to the United States. These are prophets of the Lord Jesus Christ, and these leaders have chosen not to listen to them. All over our airwaves, religious programming is going forth and the prophetic message of imminent judgement to fall upon this land is almost totally absent. Religious programs abound along with fundraising schemes. There is a DVD for sale to answer every question, or so it seems. Believers remain inside these thousands and ten thousands of churches and these believers are oblivious to that which is about to transpire in our land. Famine and disaster is coming and they continue to sleep. Their leaders sleep too. Can you continue to be a member there and not be lulled to sleep? Will you be able to respond to a prophetic warning while you are still lulled to sleep in your prophetless assemblies? Again, only Jesus can lead you in the making of any decision as a response to any of these concerns.
Sudden disaster is about to descend upon the entirety of this land, and the entire church of Jesus Christ has not been found worthy to escape that which is coming upon the nation. They will now be caught up in it as a snare and a trap and it will close in upon them like a thief in the night. The leaders of these assemblies will have blood on their hands. They will have to give an account to the Lord when Jesus inquires just why these leaders made no search and failed to find the true prophets that Jesus Christ sent to this land. Why did those pastor leaders fail to find these prophets, let alone listen to them? They will have to give an account to Jesus for this blood that will be on their hands. Will that blood be mingled with your blood?
Will you be found worthy to escape? Will you be an absolute partaker of the sins of a dead and lifeless church? Will you partake in their slumber and be caught like a deer in the headlights by the onrushing judgements? I do not write any of this lightly and as I have said, the decision to come out is one of the heaviest and weightiest decisions you may ever have to make in your life. But, after you have prayed, and examined yourself and have engaged in some fasting, you must make a decision. The failure to make a decision will, in the final analysis, still constitute the making of a decision. Life and the finishing of your course in the Lord hangs in the balance. It is possible, through disobedience, to die before your time. So, make a choice.
Stephen L. Bening
HUNDREDS OF CONFIRMING PROPHETIC VOICES
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"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by EVERY WORD that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" Matt 4:4
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