There’s coming a day, one that is fast approaching, when the American Church will be put on the spot by God.
You may say you don’t believe it. You just may think I’ve lost what marbles I once had. That’s okay, I might agree with you at some point.
But not this time.
But why would a loving God do such a thing? Doesn’t He want the best for us? Absolutely! But His best and our best could quite possibly be two different things.
Here’s a rather lengthy passage of scripture, but I believe it should be read and understood.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.
And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:1 – 12:11 ESV)
You see, THE work God is trying to do in us is much more important than our comfort or ease. Scripture declares He is going to keep working in us until Christ be formed in us; until He is flowing through us as He did through His Son Jesus. After all, the Word declares He’s coming for a Church without spot or wrinkle.
Folks, I think we have a little ways to go before we’ve ”arrived”.
Malachi gives a prophetic word about the end times. I believe he could be writing about us. And while I believe the Lord is coming FOR His Church, I believe He’s coming TO His Church first.
Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord. Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the Lord as in the days of old and as in former years.
“Then I will draw near to you for judgment. I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired worker in his wages, the widow and the fatherless, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me”, says the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3:1 – 3:5 ESV)
Notice He’s coming like a refiner’s fire and a fuller’s soap. Why? To purify His people, His ministers, His ”royal priesthood”. Do you remember the first three chapters of Revelation? That’s exactly what Jesus was doing when He stood in the midst of the candlesticks (the churches).
Peter also made a statement concerning God’s people and God’s timing.
For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And ”If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?“ Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. (1 Peter 4:17 – 4:19 ESV)
Here are five areas where I believe the hand of God will be placed; bringing about a good scrub. Five areas of personal and corporate Church life.
- Our use of finances. Who is truly Lord of our finances? Not just the tithe, but the whole amount? What kind of stewardship are we practicing as a people, a church? Do we spend so much on ourselves we have nothing to do kingdom business with? Is ”marketing” about souls or our own image? Are we trusting in the Lord, or in the uncertainty of riches?
- Selfies and superstars. The platform we’ve raised for ourselves and our superstars will be leveled before God is through. The last shall be first, and the first shall be last. He who exalts himself shall be abased. He who humbles himself shall be exalted. There’s room for only one Star, and His Name Jesus.
- Cockiness verses consecration. God hears the ”strut” in our speech and the way we carry ourselves. Boldness with and in God is much different than simply showing off. Boldness in God is the result of true consecration and faith. The world will never be won by slick words, cocky speech, or well-crafted phrases. They will be won as Jesus is lifted up.
- Saints or shell games. Remember the old shell game, where a pea is hidden under one of three shells and you try and guess which shell has the pea after the shells are shuffled? Sometimes we are like shells. Empty, but projecting ourselves as having the ”pea”, or the gift of whatever. Always moving about, staying busy with ”ministry”, but holiness isn’t really in our heart. Expect the purifying fire of God. Acknowledging one’s emptiness prepares the way for glory.
- Belief or belligerence. The level of faith isn’t determined by how loud we shout, or how many people we can ”out argue” or ”put in their place ”. Pointing out the unbelief and sinful actions of others doesn’t elevate our faith. Not does it turn people to Jesus.
These are just examples of areas that are coming under the thumb of God. He desires to pour out His Spirit in unrestricted and unparalleled ways. He understands the extreme lateness of the hour and what it will take to bring as many people into His kingdom.
Our attitudes, as well as other areas of our personal and corporate church life, will be examined. Not by me. No, I’m already sensing the increased scrutiny and desire for greater holiness.
No, the Judge is at the door. He will judge righteously and completely.
Count on it.