Sunday, November 20, 2011
Should the 'Church' Repent?
2 Corinthians 12:20-21, "For I fear, lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I would, and that I shall be found unto you such as ye would not: lest there be debates, envyings, wraths, strifes, backbitings (slandering), whisperings, swellings (arrogance & pride), tumults (uproars): 21 And lest, when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and that I shall bewail (lament) many which have sinned already, and have not repented of the uncleanness and fornication and lasciviousness (lewdness) which they have committed."
*NOTE: When the author renders the word 'Church' as seen here, he is referring to man's design for a Business entity Institutional 'Church' System. When he renders the word church in all lower case lettering, he is referring to Christ's Authentic, Organic, Biblical house church assembly, which He created and continues o build.
The apostle Paul was writing a love letter to the church at Corinth after they righted the wrongs they had done spoken of earlier in First Corinthians. He is hoping that when he makes his third visit to them he might find them in a state of repentance. They had a lot of problems as the above Scripture indicates. But, lest one thinks I am implying that this was an Institutional style of 'Church' here, think again. This was a home-based church! Institutional 'Churches' didn't exist back in those days for the Christian. Don't get me wrong, organized religion ran wild then. The synagogue was an institutional 'Church' among the Jews. But it wasn't among Christians.
The ekklesia (or assembly) was spreading rapidly throughout the Mediterranean and Asia-minor. They all met in homes, fields, or caves, etc. They didn't meet in "Church buildings" as we know them now. They didn't have committees or guilds. They didn't have Promotions or Proceeds to consider. It was simple. Why? Because it wasn't a corporation. 'They' were people. They were an ever-growing 'family' of believers. For the purpose of clarity in this lesson, I'd like the reader to know that I am underlining the word 'Church' with a capital 'C', to make the distinction between the worldly type of MAIN STREAM business entity-based Institutional religious system apart from Christ's true mode, which I'll refer to simply as, church. Okay; on we go.
Repentance is a funny word among 'Church'-goers. To the individual, it could mean a couple of things in a couple of different ways. Any way one slices it, the repentance definition always has been, 'a change of mind'. Some think it means, 'Stop sinning'. In verse 21, it is meant in the vein as in a change of mind, regarding open sin. Remember, Paul was writing to brethren. These were brothers in Christ. They were sinning and needed to repent of those sins, but that wasn't for salvation because they were already saved. They needed to repent of those sins to get back into proper fellowship with God. A change of mind isn't always associated with sin either.
God repented several times in the Old Testament, and He never sinned! He never made a mistake! He never said, "Oops! I messed up!" But, He repented! He changed His mind. This is something God does often. He repented that He had made man in Genesis 6:6. Because of that change of mind, He destroyed the world with a flood. He repented of the harm He was going to do against Israel for disobeying Him in Exodus 32:14. Moses pleaded their case, and because of God's change of mind, He spared Israel. He repented that He had made Saul king over Israel in 1Samuel 15:35. Because of that change of mind, David became king. But, I do not believe God ever repented (changed His mind) from creating His church.
His church is not the corporate-run enterprise we see as commonplace today. That, my friend is the 'Church'. What we see today is the Organizational Business Entrepanueral 'Church'. God has nothing to do with that 'Church'. Sadly, so many of His children are members of it. This is the thing 'Church'-goers need to repent of! They "Go To 'Church" to "Have 'Church," not fully separating in their minds that 'Church' and Jesus' authentic assembly (church) are two separate entities from two separate origins. Both saved and lost 'Church' members alike do not realize that a "membership" is never mentioned for Christ's true church.
Christ's Bride is comprised of the saints. Most of the Believers (saints) are involved in an un-holy relationship with the Main-Stream, Organized Christian Religions of this world. They are actually committing adultery with the great whore of Revelation by shacking-up with an Institutional 'Church'. Satan is the creator of that 'Church'. Christ is the Creator of His original authentic 'church'. 'Church' is an organization. Jesus' church is an organism. One 'Church' is on the Broad Way. The other is on the Narrow Way. One is a business imposing tithes and traditions not meant for the saints. The other is the kingdom of God, free of charge, ever flowing, ever growing. Christ doesn't have to repent of Organized Religion because He didn't create it. But most believers today do have to repent of it. Why? Because it is not of Christ. Strangely enough, if one were to associate the evil behavior mentioned in our text as it goes on nowadays, it wouldn't be the group who is involved in home churches, although I am sure they have their problems too. But the vast majority would be the group who is a part of the institutional model.
I know first hand whereof I speak. Before I left "the Institute" as I call it today, things just didn't seem right to me. I know a pair of elderly sisters, for instance, who do not speak to one another. This has gone on for years and years. But they go to the same 'Church' anyway. They still harbor resentment towards each other. Then there are the 'clicks'. These are the little groups who stay together and seldom include those who don't fit inside their little groups. That's not displaying equality. That's favoritism! A year after I left 'Church', the new young pastor who grew up there as a kid, was discovered 'grooming' teenage boys in the academy. It was a scandal which reverberated throughout that "camp" of 'Church'.
Independent Baptists have a couple of different "camps". These are separate camps known by the names of their leaders. The Problem is, the leader isn't Jesus! They are well-known pastors! Paul writes in 1Corinthians 1:11-13, "For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. 12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13 Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
The church at Corinth were claiming pedigree status. Some were saying that they were, "of Paul". Some said they were, "Of Cephas" (Peter). Then there always is the super-spiritual ones that say, "I am of Christ!" Today, the Baptist movement (and I mean the Main-Stream Baptist 'Church' movement; pick your flavor,) has divided themselves into pedigree packs as well. "Well, that's not the way Dr. So-n-so believes it!", we'd say. One group believes in getting rid of all your sin as a condition to be saved because that's the way Dr. Feel-Good teaches it. The other believes like a "Baptist-Brider" because Dr. Kiss-my-ring has proof positive of this doctrine! One group follows a certain preacher and they pitch their little tent in that 'camp'. Another group of people believes a different preacher and pitches their tent in another camp. I always thought that this was a doctrinally driven phenomenon, but it's not. It's flesh driven. The 'flesh' loves to argue. We think ourselves, 'wise' when we shouldn't. Paul says, "Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?"-1 Cor. 1:20. Hey? Where's your wisdom now?
In this organizational 'Church' model today, the saints are divided; and this is typical of the 'Church' of this world! Satan wants Christ's chuildren divided! That's been in his plan for eons. Although Paul was writing to a home church at Corinth, these people came straight out of the world. They were babes in Christ! Most were infant believers. They had not yet matured as we see them begin to in Second Corinthians. The behavior seen in First Corinthians is not what Christ intended. But in today's 'Church', this carnal behavior goes on all the time! Most would look the other way when someone was doing wrong. The people were taught not to question anything that might derail the pastor's delicate hold on his flock. There were whisperings, and name calling. Some were puffed up. There are debates and prideful contentions. Their 'flavor' of Baptist didn't believe the same way as the other 'flavor' of Baptist even though they meet under the same roof! Things just weren't right!
I am 'Baptistic' in my beliefs, but I no longer subscribe to an organizational main-stream Baptist 'Church' because the two models are foreign to one another. I do not contest the main 'core' doctrines of Baptists, for I believe they are accurate with Scripture. I question the way this type of main-stream Baptist 'Church' is organized and run. It's too much of a business! How much too much? One hundred percent too much!
Droves of people are leaving 'the institute' of late in vast numbers. Most don't know where to go, but at least they have enough sense to leave. But some don't ask the Lord for His leading, so a lot of families end up back in the world. It's not like one could open up the Yellow Pages and look up 'House Churches'. I doubt that if we found one in the phone book, it would be after the model Jesus wants anyway. Why? Because then they'd be advertising just like the institute does! Is that the type of 'Church' we want to be a part of? A social club for a price? That is NOT the Lord's church. Even some home-based churches are counterfeited. They start out as a home church and grow into an Institute! This is the wrong model!
The Lord's church is a community of believers. We're not a club. The Lord's church doesn't have a corporate name. We're free from 'Church' government. The Lord's church isn't bound by a single man elected as a Professional Pastor paid to oversee administrations and assets. We are led by the Spirit of Jesus Christ and founded upon Him alone. Christ intended His flocks to be debt free. Income tithing was never in His plan to support a church and her pastors. His church doesn't need financial support to exist. Pastors aren't supposed to receive pay from the church body anyway! The Book of Acts makes these points very clear.
The good news is that people are realizing that they need to stop 'being Churched' and start 'being the church'. "Being 'Churched'" is the same as "Being PLAYED." It's not a difference of what brand we are, Baptist, Independent Baptist, Southern Baptist, North American Baptist, Free-Will Baptist, Hard Shell Baptist. The Lord never made divisions in His church. He made us equal. I'm not talking about a Universal 'Church' here. That's Satan's model. But when someone steps out of organized 'Church' into the body of the church organism, that is where we become free from the manipulations of the clergy. It all starts with a change of mind.
There are so many good people who've left the organizational 'Church-System' because they have realized that being free in Christ is what He meant for us. Unfortunately, when we do leave the Institutional 'Church' behind, we are leaving good people behind with it. They just haven't realized this yet. I am including good pastors and deacons as well. The office of the 'clergy' itself is bad, but not all involved in the clergy are bad.
But first, one needs to 'change their minds' (repent) from being part of an Organized Religion. If the 'Church' you go to has a name above the door, I'd advise you to look around very closely. If you see what I have seen, then it's time to go. Once we're free from that we can be led, and seek out a part of Jesus' model for His local, physical, living and growing community called an ekklesia (church or assembly). Hey, sometimes a change can be a good thing! It's time to change our minds!
Repentance toward the Lord is always good! I wouldn't worry so much about losing friends. If one did leave, and those who we're our friends didn't want to fellowship with us any longer, what kind of friends are they? Think about it. We still love the Lord (probably more than ever because we left the Institute for Him). We still have a great testimony for Christ. We still win souls. So, why would they not want to be our friends any longer? Because we are no longer one of them in their eyes. We no longer belong to their 'club.' To them, that's wrong! Why? Because we have become a threat to their belief system and organization. Yes, they are very good, decent people, but their loyalties are distorted. Very few have been kind to me after I left the Institute. But I thank God for those who have.
Yes, it's hard to leave because one builds and develops relationships with others in the 'Church'. But, if one decides to repent of this mess and make a break for it to seek out Christ's real model of church, then the Holy Spirit will guide us, if we let Him. He did for me and others I know. May the reader find what they are looking for in Christ.
2 Corinthians 6:17, "Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you."