Grace in the Church Age

In Acts 2 we find the birth of the Church at Pentecost, and in 1 Thessalonians 4 we find the description of the Rapture of the Church. The entire period of time between these two events is the Church Age, and the Church Age is encompassed in its entirety by the Age of Grace. Extending from the Cross of Christ, to His Glorious Appearing at the Second Coming to establish His Millennial Reign, the Age of Grace is typified by God’s offer of Eternal Salvation through the shed Blood of Jesus Christ, to all who would trust in Him as their Lord and Savior.

The Church Age within the Age of Grace is the Age of the “ecclesia,” those who are “called out” as the Body of Christ. These “called out” ones, identified as Christ’s Church, exist for the purpose of revealing Christ to the world by carrying out His will as a revelation and example of His Grace. The command to the disciples by Christ in Acts 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” is for them to be witnesses, to share with all mankind the Gospel of Jesus Christ. However, within the Scriptures there is not one single passage which states that the whole world will be converted during this Age. In fact, Christ Himself shared this fact within the parable of the wheat and tares in Matthew 13. In Acts 15:7 -17, in the account of the Jerusalem Council, we find that God’s purpose for this Age is the calling out of a people for His Name which includes both Jew and Gentile. As the Church we are then told in 2 Corinthians 6:17, that because we are called out of the world, that we are to be separate from the world.

The first mission given to us as the “called out” followers of Christ, the Church, is the evangelization of the world, and not the conversion of the world. It then follows that the purpose of God for His Church in this Age is not the reformation of society, or the enrichment of the faithful, and it is certainly not the establishment of His Kingdom.

The Church is the Body of Christ (Ephesians 1:17-23), which is joined together to serve one another as we serve God; the Church is the Bride of Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-30), whose purpose is to glorify God; the Church on earth is the habitation of God (Ephesians 2:19-22); the Church is an example and illustration of the grace of God (Ephesians 2:5-7), which in fact is what gives unique character to this Age; and the Church is a royal priesthood (2 Peter 2:4-10), to serve God among men in this Age.

The second mission given to us as the “called out” followers of Jesus Christ, the Church, is to understand the promise that, for the cause of Christ, we will suffer and endure persecution (Matthew 5:12, John 15:20, Romans 12:14, Philippians 1:29, 2 Timothy 3:12, 1 Peter 3:14, 1 Peter 4:16, Revelation 2:10) because of the ever-increasing wickedness of the world in which we live. Yet the blessing in this promise is another promise, the promise of a great inheritance and reward (Matthew 5:12, Colossians 3:24, 1 Peter 1:3-5, Hebrews 11:6, Revelation 3:7-12) for having remained faithful to the calling.

I believe today that the “church” we see in the world has moved very far away from its calling, from the divine purpose for which it was intended. What most people today see as the “church,” has no real resemblance to the Church of Jesus Christ. Today’s “church” has failed to be separate from the world, a “called out” body for the purposes of God. In the “church” today we find that many have embraced socialism, humanism, environmentalism, hedonism, and the worship of Mammon. While in still other “churches” they endeavor to appropriate from Israel, the promises which God intended for Israel alone, which I believe has done more to turn the “church” from its appointed course than any other. This error alone causes the “church” to turn away from a literal interpretation of Scripture, which in turn creates a denial of prophetic truth. By embracing this false theology the “church” relegates itself to a place in the world and defines its mission as a responsibility to improve the world.

So the “church” today defines itself by building magnificent structures, acquiring earthly things, courting political power, embracing social and societal conventions, embracing tolerance, compromise and inclusiveness, in an effort to coexist with all religions. All of this is in direct opposition to the Word of God, and an appointed call to separation and holiness in anticipation of the return of Jesus Christ. The “church” which is most evident in the world today is certainly not the Church of Jesus Christ.

Yet there is still a remnant of believers, who are truly following the mission given by Jesus Christ, who comprise the True Church today, what we see as His Remnant Church of the Last Days. I believe it is the ministry and mission of the Church to be witnesses for Jesus Christ until He returns for His Church (1 Thessalonians 4), and that He alone can effect change in this world, and will do so when He sets up His Millennial Kingdom at His Second Coming (Revelation 19).

I believe the Rapture of the Church is imminent, we are living in a time when prophecy is being fulfilled before our very eyes. It is my prayer that in this last remnant of time before the “called out” Church is called up to meet our Savior, that a Holy Spirit inspired awakening will take place among mankind, and within the apostate church. It is my prayer that we will see souls saved, and the church restored to its original mission and calling. The end of days is at hand and;

Jesus is Coming Soon!

EvenSoCome

The Church Breaks Bread

Sitting down together to share a meal with family and friends is one of the oldest examples of friendship and community which exists, even to this day. In our last article on the Church built by Jesus Christ, as found in Acts 2:42-47, we discussed the component of fellowship and in particular where the fellowship took place. As we continue this teaching we will examine the third component given for the establishment of the Church which is the “breaking of bread.” The “breaking of bread” is itself at once an extension of fellowship within a community of believers, and yet in practice becomes even more.

During the time in which our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ lived, the phrase “breaking of bread” was common in the vernacular of the people of Israel and in fact is commonly found to be idiomatic among a great many peoples of the world, historically and currently. In nearly every culture the act of sharing a meal and eating together is an activity which promotes community, friendship, and harmony. This is one of the reasons this practice was instituted in the early Church. God’s people gathered around a table together and broke bread for the express reasons of developing a family relationship within the body of believers and to share in the memory of the One who is the Head of the body.

I believe within this passage, Acts 2:42-47, we find a duality of meaning in the phrase “breaking of bread.” During the period of Jesus’ earthly ministry among His disciples, the Scriptures record instances which shows that they often ate together. Sometimes it was in the homes of friends such as Mary and Martha in Bethany, and at other times in public places, such as when He ate with the publicans and sinners, and yet others when they were simply eating together on their own. On most of these occasions it is recorded that Jesus presided over the meal and therefore was the One who would break bread and give thanks.

Mark 14:12-26 records the last Passover meal that Jesus shared with the twelve disciples. Today we know this as the Last Supper, and it was at this meal that our Lord Jesus gave them instruction by example, to share in the breaking of bread and drinking the fruit of the vine from the Cup, in remembrance of that which He was about to accomplish until He returned to set up His Kingdom. (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) This “breaking of bread” we now know and participate in as the “Lord’s Supper.”

The Scripture record is clear that after His resurrection, the disciples of Jesus began to meet together and fellowship in the sharing of a meal. The risen Christ Himself upon occasion joined in eating these common meals with them as is evidenced in Luke 24:29-31; Luke 24:41-43; and John 21:9-15. After the Lord’s ascension, the practice continued and it is at one such meal we find the disciples gathered at the Feast of Pentecost in Acts 2:1.

So as we look together again at Acts 2:42 we read; “And they continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” And in Acts 2:46-47 we read; “So continuing daily with one accord in the Temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people.”

In 1874, C. H. Spurgeon wrote; “Their own houses were houses of God, and their own meals were so mixed and mingled with the Lord’s Supper that to this day, the most cautious student of the Bible cannot tell when they left over eating their common meals and when they began eating the supper of the Lord.” Unfortunately, the institutionalization of the “church” in all of its many denominational forms has removed the “breaking of bread” for “Lord’s Supper” from its original setting as a part of church fellowship, and placed it within ritualistic confines. I believe the scriptural record is clear that the “breaking of bread” in a fellowship meal and the “breaking of bread” for the Lord’s Supper were intentionally intimately connected. It is my opinion that turning the remembrance into a ritual destroys the intimacy of fellowship for which the remembrance was intended, and that the Lord’s Supper as well as the Body of believers, have been diminished by the Church having allowed it to happen.

What then is the remedy for this situation in the “church” today? Again, I believe that True followers of Jesus Christ need to return to the model and pattern which Christ gave us for His Church in the book of Acts. Doctrine, Fellowship and Breaking Bread, and Prayer. Obedience in this area will help identify those remaining groups of believers which are His Remnant Church in the Last Days.

I encourage you to take a good look at, and evaluate, how the church where you worship compares to the model and pattern of the church established by Jesus Christ in the book of Acts. Next we will look at the Church in Prayer, but until then remember that;

Jesus is Coming Soon!

EvenSoCome