Ephesians 5:27 -
That he (the God of the Cross) might present it (the church) to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
Revelation 2:l9 -
I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
Revelation 3:8 -
I know thy works; behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man
can shut it; for thou hast a little strength, and
hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
The church that is to come is a glorious church, composed of all true believers, without blemish - far cry from the mess that the church is at the beginning of the 2lst century. The church, at least in America, is more concerned about buildings and programs than it ever could be about people's eternal welfare, at the beginning of the 2lst century. What sort of form will this glorious church take? We know that it will be equal in power to the early church. It will have the baptism of the Holy Spirit, it will have water baptism, it will have the power of the blood, it will have the power of the Cross. It will be the last great move of God before THE END. We see an historical parallel. At the end of the l7th century, the Puritans in America were so corrupt they were falsely accusing people of witchcraft and hanging them. Forty years later, under the leadership of men like George Whitefield the Great Awakening flourished. Out of nowhere it arose. To quote from one of George Whitefield's sermons:
See that emblem of human life! It passed for a moment and concealed the brightness of heaven from our view. But it is gone! And where will you be, my hearers, when your lives are passed away like that dark cloud? Oh my dear friends, I see thousands sitting attentive, with their eyes fixed on the poor unworthy preacher. In a few days we shall all meet at the judgment seat of Christ...every eye will behold - the Judge. With a voice whose call you must abide and answer, he will enquire whether on earth you strove to enter in at the strait gate. My blood runs cold when I think how many of you will seek to enter in and shall not be able. Oh what plea can you make before the Judge of the whole earth?
Will history repeat itself? Will the glorious church arise around the year 2040, or will it be the year 2240? We do know that when it does arise it will have power such like the world has never hitherto experienced. Listen again to the words of George Whitefield:
windows open to the air, Philadelphians leaned out to listen (l739).
"Father Abraham," cried Whitefield. "Whom have you in Heaven? Any Episcopalians?"
"Any Independents or Seceders, New Sides or Old Sides, any Methodists?"
"No! No! No!"
"Whom have you there, Father Abraham?"
"We don't know those names here. All who are here are Christians."
What should the church at the start of the 2lst century be doing - beginning to move to prepare to become the glorious church. This has already been started, at least in the United States, through various forms of ministorial associations in large and small towns composed of many different denominations who come and meet together to discuss issues. But this is only a pinprick of what God will require down the road. There are problems within the Christian church that need to be fixed. We can gain some insight from comments made during and before the Great Awakening.
Jonathan Edwards, during the Great Awakening, preached a sermon in l74l based on Deuteronomy 32:25, "...their foot shall slide in due time..." He drew a picture of
...the dreadful pit of the glowing flames of the wrath of God; there is
hell's wide gaping mouth open; and you have nothing to
stand upon, nor anything to take hold of. There is nothing between you
and hell but the air; it is only the power and mere pleasure of God that holds you up.
Our Lord commented on the religious leaders of the day, to paraphrase Matthew 2l:3l, "...Verily I say unto you that the income tax auditors and the prostitutes go into paradise before you ministers." Solomon Stoddard commented in his Defects of Preachers Reproved in l723, "But men may be learned men, yet drink in very corrupt doctrines. Learning is not security against erroneous principles." George Whitefield writes in his Journals in l744 that "...in my journal I found the generality that preachers preached an unknown Christ, that the colleges had darkness in them, even darkness that might be felt, and that speaking of the danger of an unconverted ministry, I said, 'How can a dead man beget a living child?'"
I Thessalonians 3:l3 -
To the end he may establish your heart unblamable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.
Hebrews l2:9-l0 -
Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh who corrected us, and we gave them reverence. Shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure, but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness
I Peter 2:9 -
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people set apart to sing the praises of God who called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary defines "holy" as being "spiritually pure". The church that is to come will be, above all things, HOLY. The glorious church will have standards that have never been seen before...except in the early church. At the year 2000 we do not see the church as it should be. Go And Sin No More, by Michael L. Brown gives some insight.
It is a sad but undeniable fact that the abysmal (unfathomable) standards
of our society merely reflect the abysmal standards
of much of the Church, and our nation is infected with moral rot because
the Church has failed to be the light, shine the light, or walk in the light.
The biggest game in the church world today is to pull something off.
But if you are just playing games, or if you somehow think you can sin with impunity, or if you only ask the Lord for forgiveness so that you can go and sin again, or if you imagine that God in His mercy would never allow you to be exposed, or even worse, if you think you are too valuable for the Lord to allow you to fall, or if you deceive yourself into believing that your sin is not so bad, then write it down, dear reader, and bank on it: YOUR SIN WILL FIND YOU OUT. Wherever you go, however far you run, whatever efforts you make to cover it up, it will chase you and bring you down. Your nightmare will come true (ibid).
When gross sin is committed by a church leader, and there is a victim, the church moves hard to silence it:
"Touch not the Lord's Anointed."
"Forgive or your sins will not be forgiven you."
"Nothing should have happened to you."
"I know this is not what you want to hear, but you just need to forgive."
"You need to let go and let God."
"You should have got out before you got hurt."
"You better forgive because you have to live with it."
"Have you read the book of Job."
The purpose of strong-arming and smoke-screening is so that it won't come out.
The great problem in the Church today is that we make light of our disobedience and freely excuse our sins. We live as if God actually expects us to continually scorn His commandments and disregard His standards, as if chronic disobedience was the anticipated norm for born-again believers (ibid).
Pentecostals are the worst, although Evangelicals follow in their wake. So what does God expect.
our bodies as living sacrifices on His altar, holy and acceptable to Him.
*Purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for Him.
*Be sanctified by avoiding sexual immorality and learning to control our own bodies in a way that is holy and honorable (ibid).
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty. Early in the morning our song shall rise to Thee; holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty, God over all, and blest eternally.
Holy, holy, holy, all the saints adore Thee, casting down their golden crowns around the crystal sea; cherubim and seraphim falling down before Thee, Who wast and art, and evermore shalt be.
Holy, holy, holy, tho' the darkness hide Thee, tho' the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see; only Thou art holy, there is none beside Thee, perfect in pow'r in love, and purity.
Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty. All Thy works shall praise Thy name, in earth, and sky, and sea; holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty, God over all, and blest eternally.
Holy, Holy, Holy, by Reginald Heber