The Cure: Part Two of "I've Got to Get Some Things Off My Chest." (Part Three follows).

Let me be clear: In an atmosphere of great and massive change in the church of Jesus Christ, and while
we await the emergence of an entirely new expression of the entity called “the church,” we cannot, we
must not ever lose sight of the singular fact that THE church, God’s church, the church for which Jesus bled
bled and died will never cease to exist until it has completed its full mission in the earth and the marriage
of Christ’s Bride to her Betrothed is accomplished.

Even a cursory look at church statistics is enough to cause us to understand that the thing we call "the
church” is in deep trouble. Church attendance is almost universally down, churches are closing their doors, selling their properties; denominations are holding emergency meetings to examine what has gone wrong, where they are failing, and what to do to change the direction in which their movements are going.

If you care to spend the time, visit George Barna’s website (
www.barna.org) and read the numbers for
yourself. As in every other arena of life, “the numbers don’t lie.”

So what position and attitude should we take regarding this wholesale transitory stage we find the church,
and ourselves in? Should we be fearful? Hopeful? depressed?, encouraged? What is happening to the 
church we once knew, loved and flourished in?

Allstate Insurance for years used a television commercial that stated, “You’re in Good Hands, with Allstate."
The voice of Allstate was an announcer from Des Moines, Iowa named Ed Reimers, whose deep baritone
voice exuded strength, confidence and trust. The message was clear: If you were insured by Allstate, you
need not worry about accidents, freak weather, or any other tribulation that life might bring, Allstate would
take care of you.

We might say with strong confidence: “You’re in Good Hands with Jesus.” In other words, if the church is
God’s idea, if it is His creation and intention, we humans don’t need to lose sleep worrying if the church will
continue, succeed or prosper. If God is in control, it would be sin to worry about what will happen to His
church.

Understand first of all that the Church of Jesus Christ moves forward – even in historical times when
attendance is on the decline, discouragement among pastors is on the increase and every visible
indication is that the church, like a punch-drunk boxer is clinging to the ropes, ready to take the proverbial
 “standing eight count.”

Success in Christ’s church is not dependent upon or even gauged by any particular moment of time,
current circumstance or momentary indication. The Church of Jesus is both universal and eternal in God's
eyes, and so must be judged by the entire scope of history and time and even beyond the confines of
time.
 
If we were to use a spiritual microscope to examine the condition of the church during the infamous
 “Dark Ages” we would conclude that the church had nearly become extinct and would surely cease to
exist if the trends we were examining through the microscope were to continue.

But by using the long lens of a spiritual macroscope - God’s eternal Word - we gain a vastly different impression, diagnosis and prognosis of the church.

Understand that the Church of Jesus bears a Divine Destiny – a destiny determined by God Himself. And
that destiny will be fulfilled not because of great leaders or great ideas or great revelations given to men,
but because of five simple words, spoken by the very Designer and Architect of the church, Jesus Christ.
In Matthew 16:13-20, Jesus declared, “I will build My church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against
it.”

So while church statistics are almost universally on the decline, and while increasing numbers of people are walking out of and not into the doors of conventional churches, what I and many others refer to as the Institutional Church, I remain fully confident in the future and in the success of the church.
 
My confidence has nothing to do with social or cultural trends, and it is not because of some new under- standing or development of cutting-edge thinking, but my confidence has everything to do with the words spoken by Jesus that promise me He will build His church!

He said it: “I will build My church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” This statement tells me
that all the combined fury, rage, anger, hatred and cunning of the enemy of man’s soul cannot frustrate,
detain, discourage or stop God’s church because Jesus Himself makes it clear that His church will grow
not weaker, but stronger as the days of the end time advance. The destiny of the Church is greater in
2005 than it has ever been in history.

Examine Jesus’ statement with me: Jesus said, “I”; in other words, the building of His church is not
dependent upon you, me, some denomination, the Roman Catholic Church, some local church, or any
group of holy men. It is the exclusive responsibility and ability of Jesus and no other person, entity,
conclave or assemblage to give life and continuation to His church.

A divine structure must have a divine Builder, and Jesus is that Builder, case closed. He said “I will build My church. . .” The use of the first person “I” both relieves and rebukes us from our futile attempts to build anything. We talk about the ministries “we” have built. We speak of “our” ministries. We look at what the anointing of the Holy Spirit has accomplished and are tempted to say "I" did something great for God.

The truth is only Jesus is capable of building what only heaven understands. When David, king of Israel
declared “I will build a house for God” the Lord responded by saying, “Will you. . .?” God made it clear to
David that He, the Lord would build a house for David. That house was made manifest in the Person of
Jesus, the Son of God. And it is Jesus – and only Jesus Who has the ability to build His church.

He said “I will build My church. . .” The intention, purpose and determination of heaven is that His church
would be built. There is no “if” involved here; no “maybe” or “should the opportunity arise” included. It is the purpose and will of God that His church should exist.

Further, Jesus said “I will build. . .” That is heaven’s intention, and if heaven intends to design, engineer,
build, construct a spiritual edifice called “the church,” then it will happen.

He further stated, “I will build My church.” It is His church, expressly, completely, totally, and exclusively.
The church does not belong to the Roman Catholics, the Southern Baptists, the Methodists, the
Assemblies of God, the Lutherans or any other body, group, denomination or faction. It is His church. He
constructed it and paid the mortgage for it with His own, divine blood.

And finally, He said, “I will build My church.” This is the structure, the configuration and the manifestation
of His purpose. This also is the great point of tension in our current hour. The great question today should
not be “will the church survive?” but rather, “What should the church look like?” Its existence is not in
question or in jeopardy; its appearance is.

I find it worthy of note that Jesus began His instruction about the church with the word “I”. Remember Who
He is: Jesus is God. Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus’ emphasis was continually on “I am.”

Recall the incident in Moses’ life at the burning bush. The Voice that answered Moses when he asked,
“Behold, when I come to the children of Israel, and shall say to them, The God of your fathers hath sent
me to you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say to them?” God’s simple response
was “I AM THAT I AM: say to them I AM hath sent me to you.”

Now remember Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well in John chapter four: When the
woman guessed that Jesus might indeed be the promised Messiah, He said to her, “I who speak to you
am He.”

In John chapter six, with the backdrop of a hungry multitude, fed by five fish and two loaves of bread,
Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life.” In John eight, the Scribes and the Pharisees sought to tempt Him,
and Jesus responded, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly,
I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM."

In John nine, Jesus encountered a blind man and said, I am the light of the world.” In the next chapter,
Mary and Martha wept because their brother, Lazarus had died and Jesus announced, "I am the ressur-
rection and the life.” In John fourteen, He told Thomas and the disciples and you and me, "I am the way,
the truth and the life.”

Finally, when Roman soldiers appeared in the garden to arrest Jesus, He asked, “whom do you seek?”
When they answered, “Jesus of Nazareth”, He said simply, “I am He” and these rough soldiers fell to the
ground at the power and authority of His Name. And if a detachment of soldiers collapses at the name
“I AM” what will happen when He declares “I, the I Am, God, very God, will build My church and the gates
of hell will not prevail against it?”

There are three thousand different names in the Bible, but one Name towers above all other names, and
it is this name, the name of Jesus, a Name greater than any other name, because He was “given a name
above every name, That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in
earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the
the glory of God the Father.

In the book of Revelation, His voice rises once again as He proclaims, “I am the first and the last, I am He
Who lives and was dead; and am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of hell and of death.” We hear
His voice and we sense His ultimate authority as He announces, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the
beginning and the ending, I am the bright and the morning star” And it is He who has declared "I will build
My church.”

Think logically with me: If He built a mighty nation of two million from 70 paltry outcasts under the eyes               of Pharaoh in Egypt; If He stacked the waters of the Red Sea in a heap and made a highway for every
Israeli foot to pass across on dry ground; If He could produce water from a rock to quench thirsty throats
and send manna from heaven to feed hungry bellies, if He healed the blind, cast out devils, called Lazarus
to life from the dead; if He defied the royal seal of Caesar, tore away the bars from the grave, and threw
the machinery of death into reverse, if He destroyed principalities and powers, triumphing over them in the
victory of the Easter Tomb, then I ask you – can He build, sustain, prosper and keep His church in the
twenty-first century?

He said “I will. . .” He did not say “I Hope” to build. He began that construction by His own death on the             cross. He arose from the dead, ascended into heaven, poured out His Holy Spirit among those who would believe; He possessed them, activated them, motivated them and sent them into the uttermost parts of
the earth to preach the good news of salvation in His Name and in so doing, Jesus established His church
in every corner of the globe where man is found.

Think about this: At the moment of His crucifixion, He knew what lay ahead for the enterprise we call the             church. He understood the difficulties that would come; He knew about the trials and tribulations, the hard-         ships and the frustrations that would accompany His followers. He knew about rejection and rebellion,
disillusionment and despair that would seek to stop the march of His army. In the very moment that the              church was formed in the eternal mind of God, Jesus was aware of every tribulation and calamity the church would ever face.

As He hung there, suspended between heaven and earth atop Golgotha’s brow, He knew the weakness            and vacillation of His disciples. He realized that Peter had denied Him, Judas had betrayed Him, His
followers had forsaken Him. He knew about the persecutions to come in Rome and the ugly wrath of
Marcus Arelius and Diocletian. He knew about fiery torches and hungry lions and blood-stained arenas               where His followers would seal their faith in blood.

He Knew darkness settle over world. Knew about formalism, liberalism, modernism, postmodernism,                  He knew full well that the love many wax cold, but said I Will Build My Church not because of us, but in spite
of us!

In spite of current predictions of failure; in spite of men departing the faith and evil men growing worse
& worse; in spite of it all, I will build My Church! What He began, He is able also to perform. And we can
be encouraged: He is and He will build His Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it!

The great question being asked around the world as I write this is “what shape, what form, what
structure will the church have?

Can you imagine the generations of people living in Israel in the intertestamental period, between the conclusion of the Book of Malachi and the beginning of the New Testament?

Spiritual Israel understood that God would send a Messiah, a mighty Deliverer, a Savior. But what would
He look like? What would He sound like? How would He dress? From whence would He come?

Nobody had the answer. Nobody could see clearly the form God’s deliverance would take.

A man named Simeon saw Him – a Baby, eight days old, carried to the Temple to fulfill the Law. And
Simeon cried out “Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine
eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten
the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.”

This is the first face of God’s Messiah, the first face of the church. Its form, still indefinable, its structure
yet to be developed, its shape yet to appear, but Simeon, by the Spirit of God made it clear; this was
Messiah – this was the Church. Whether Joseph and Mary or any other Scribe or Pharisee or thinker
understood it or not; this was Messiah – this was the Church.

And modern day “Simeon”, the prophetic voice in the earth today sees an infant form, an undeveloped structure, and announces once again, “for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which You have prepared
before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of Your people Israel.”

This is the Emerging Church. This is the “yet-to-be-recognized” vessel that will repel every effort of the
enemy and will prevail against the very gates of hell.

Even now the childlike voice is being heard. Followers of Jesus – and not man’s institutions or definitions
of church are hearing the sound, inarticulate but distinct, immature but strident, beginning to sound out
the first adolescent words that will become the concerto of heaven, the church of the living God, the
expression of the Person of Jesus in the earth.

In His Grace,

Greg

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