Thursday, January 13, 2022

Real Hope

This current season is disturbing and confusing for many Christians.

In the western world, the church has been going backwards for the past fifty years. Some brilliant theology has been written, but the world is not listening. Some wonderful people have come out of seminary to serve the church, but they have been trained to preach to Christians; they have not been trained to do what Jesus disciples did. A few large churches have been established, but their growth does not compensate for the losses from thousands of smaller churches.

The consequence of this decline is that governments have been stopped being pro-Christian, and wore, the spiritual powers of evil have gained greater authority to work evil on earth. So the situation in the world has got worse, too.

Some Christians don’t care about this decline, because they see it as a sign that the end is near when Jesus will return to rescue them, but that is a false hope that is an insult to the Holy Spirit. Christians have been saying that the return of Jesus was imminent for the past century, but it now seems to be further away.

Although the church has been declining in the West for the last fifty years, most Christians have not been too worried, because they have always believed that a revival was coming, and that will turn the situation around. Even those who believe that the end is near are expecting a great end-time harvest.

The internet prophets continue to ramble on about a coming revival, and people who are desperate for hope draw hope from them, but those who are wise know that these prophets have been wrong so many times that they cannot be trusted.

Christians looking for revival will be disappointed because the next move of God will not come in the form that they are expecting. The revivals of the past were church-based movements where lukewarm or lapsed Christians were revived and drawn back into the existing church structures.

The reality is that the modern church does not want revival because it is unwilling to make the changes that God needs it to make so that he can accomplish his purposes on earth. Pastors have chosen to keep on doing what they know how to do, even though it does not work in the modern world, and the people are mostly happy to go along. The modern church is persisting with big-man leadership and big Sunday meetings, but these practices are serious obstacles to the next move of God.

God is not interested in reviving the church during this season. He wants to do something far greater. He wants to establish his kingdom on earth, and he needs people who are committed to working with his Holy Spirit to do it. Unfortunately, the modern church does not have a vision for the Kingdom of God that is real.

The modern church does not have the spiritual strength to engage a full-frontal attack on the kingdoms of the world to establish the Kingdom of God. The spiritual powers of evil are too deeply entrenched in our political and cultural systems to be easily defeated. To turn the situation around, the church will need to engage in guerrilla tactics and establish tiny strongholds on the edges of society and slowly expand out from there to gain more ground.

God wants to do something quite different from what the church has done in the past. His next move will be neighbourhood-based on the edge of society and away from the centres of power and privilege. To be prepared for the next season, followers of Jesus must seek out different ways of operating on the edge of culture.

The next move of God will not be like Billy Graham preaching to large crowds of lapsed Christians (who would struggle to get on board with what God is doing now), nor like televangelists preaching prosperity and comfort. They will be more like the seventy disciples that Jesus sent out in pairs, going to a village or neighbourhood of a town and living there in unity with some brothers and sisters in the Lord, loving one another, healing the sick and announcing the Kingdom of God.

I presume that the church will continue to implode as continues with the old way of working. Big-name pastors will be persecuted if they continue to push salvation by law as the solution to big social issues. At the same time, society will continue to disintegrate as the spiritual powers of evil are given more and more control on earth. But the idea that this is the beginning of the end is a lie that we should reject.

The best is still to come. God is calling and preparing a body that can work with the Holy Spirit to bring in the Kingdom of God on earth. When human political power collapses under the weight of its own evil, breaking the power of the spiritual powers of evil (and the Jews come to faith in Jesus), the Holy Spirit will move in power amongst those who have prepared. He will release a powerful move that will bring in the greatest harvest that the earth has ever experienced. Billions of people will choose to follow Jesus and join his kingdom, as they follow the leading of his Holy Spirit.

This is a discouraging season for those who trust in the church. Those who are trusting in the Holy Spirit and are open to his leading and looking for him to move in a new and better way should be excited by the opportunity that is open to them.

See Ekklesia and Kingdom.

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