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 and Sound Doctrine!

Continuing our teaching on the Church built by Jesus Christ, we examine examples of what are considered by most to be representative of the “church” in the world today. Comparing them to the True Church formula, pattern, and appearance (meeting place), we will examine their effect in the world and affect on their members. In doing so I believe we will gain a better understanding of the concept of His Remnant Church, which consists of the faithful believers remaining true to the Doctrine of the Church built by Jesus Christ.

In order to compare these “churches” to the Church, let’s look again at Acts 2:42. As the Church these early believers, followers of Jesus Christ, continued steadfastly in four areas; the Apostles Doctrine, Fellowship, the Breaking of Bread, and Prayer. In Acts 2:43-47 we find some things which resulted from their obedience to Christ in following His divine plan; there was a new respect for the authority of God, the Holy Spirit was active, there was unity in the body, everyone’s needs were met, they worshiped together continually (from house to house), they were thankful and shared meals together in fellowship and praise, and the result was that the body grew.

Are these things evident in the “church” today? Are the four areas the early Church “continued steadfastly” in still being continued in the same way today? In our next few posts we will look at each one in turn and evaluate how the “church” today measures up.

We will begin with the Apostles Doctrine:
Simply put the apostle’s doctrine is those things which they were either taught by Jesus Christ Himself, or had revealed to them by His Holy Spirit. During the days recorded in the book of Acts, these doctrines were of course predominantly given to the Church orally. Since the close of the first century, we have the infallible Word of God which the Holy Spirit breathed into the writers of the New Testament Scripture. Peter testified of this in 2 Peter 1:16-21 and in fact in 2 Peter 1:2&3 he wrote that; “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,” which knowledge is that given to us in the written Word of God. The Apostle Paul encouraged both Timothy (2 Timothy 4:2) and Titus (Titus 2:1) to Preach or Speak the Word (Sound Doctrine).

Doctrine therefore is found within the Scripture, the Holy Spirit breathed Word of God. And from the time the Apostle John completed recording The Revelation of Jesus Christ in 95 A.D., there has been no additional Scripture given by God. However, Paul warned Timothy that “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” 2 Timothy 4:3&4. He had also warned Timothy that men would “depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth” 1 Timothy 4:1-3.

Unfortunately today we are living in the day which Paul anticipated. Today many “churches” are led by men whose only goals are self-promotion and the accumulation of wealth, others have become institutionalized through an un-biblical structure of priesthood and catechism or are following denominational instruction and dogma, all of which supplant the Word of God with writings, edicts, and creeds written by men. Many of these who identify themselves as “men of God” claim “new” inspiration or that they have received a “fresh” prophetic word from God. These so-called “preachers” are at best charlatans, with most actually fitting into the category of false prophets.

These are able to deceive their followers because most “church members” are woefully ignorant of the Word of God. If they do have a relationship with Jesus Christ, they are certainly not following the example of the Bereans who “searched the Scriptures daily” (Acts 17:11) to verify whether or not what they are being taught is biblical. This puts them in the position of those described in Ephesians 4:14 as being “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting…” Christians must be people of the Book, willing to take responsibility for themselves and their relationship to Jesus Christ. In these Last Days, deception will only continue to grow as Satan’s influence compromises the teaching of the Word of God, turning the hearts and minds of men away from Sound Doctrine, to the humanistic, socialistic, narcissistic doctrine of demons.

The Church built by Jesus Christ is one which stands on the Sound Doctrine delivered to us through the Word of God, and only through the Word of God. Again, I implore you to examine your heart, and the place in which you worship, the “church” which you attend. Be Bereans, be people of the Book, study the Word of God, ask the Holy Spirit to help you prove through it, what is Truth and what is false. Do not be followers of men, follow God through His Son Jesus Christ. Because;

Jesus is Coming Soon!

EvenSoCome

to be continued…