All of us at some point or another are struggling with this question: `what is your real will for me God?' in some form or another including myself. The answer is not that simple, specially when a person did not grow up in a Christian home.
Over almost 2000 years, thousands of denominations have evolved because aspiring Christians have problems with their pastors or false teachings or other members or teachers or can't find the courage to walk into an unknown group of people.
Looking for the right church is like looking for a bride or husband. We have a standard in our hearts of what a church should be like. If Jesus is the head of His church, the measuring stick should be Jesus Christ. If it truly is Jesus, we are of course defeated right from the start on two counts. One, Jesus said His kingdom is not of this world. Two, there is not a person walking the ground who is like Him, who has powers or can take His place.
"Jesus said, `My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.'" (John 18:36) It sounds like there is a difference between the past and now, as if He drew a line. The next key is the following Scripture:
"For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17) Here indicators that the kingdom might be a place here on earth are zeroed out completely. Romans 14:17 clearly confirms that we are not talking about anything tangible but of states of consciousness.
Some light is shed so far on why we are having problems finding a church. This lack of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit is often why we get disappointed and move on. We believe it should be in the church, at least in the pastor if not in some of the members.
In recent years a trend has developed that tries to meet the need for an experience of peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. It is called an experience of the anointing. It is done by establishing routines (rituals) and placing oneself into a state of expectation.
Talked through the experience, one is to be feeling that reality and it begins to happen to those who allow themselves to become subject to the suggestions. On the other hand we have churches who try hard to develop righteousness in their members by performance.
The word `church' was not used in the Old Testament. In Greek the word is `ekklesia'. The word comes from `ek' denoting origin (the point whence motion or action proceeds) from.. and the word `kaleo' to `call' (forth) or bid. Putting the two words together `ekklesia': a calling out, (.. a Christian community of members on earth or saints in heaven or both) assembly ... The word `Christian' came up three times, twice in Acts and once 1. Peter.
In Greek it is `chrestotes', meaning usefulness, in example moral excellence (in character and demeanor):- gentleness, good (-ness) and kindness. The word is related to `chrestos' meaning employed and it is derived from the word `chraomai' to furnish what is needed, (give an oracle, `graze' [touch slightly], light upon), to act toward one in a given manner:- entreat ..
From this research we can surmise that a church is an assembly of useful people f moral excellence, gentle, good, kind, who will furnish what is needed and entreat each other.
In today's society many different organizations carry the name `church' but often can be very hazardous to one's Christian walk. Personal Scripture study on a daily basis is not only the measuring stick to keep us on the straight and narrow by discernment, but also the only way in which we can become useful as sowers of the seed.
Paul gives a real insight as to what is expected from Christians in 2 Corinthians 9:10-15. He states that God supplies seed to us, who are seed sowers, bringing `Words from God' (Scripture) and God provides bread as well for food. [This is where some preachers muddy the water by overlooking the fact that their listeners are also considered to be sowers of seed and they tell their listeners that they will become rich in material blessings, which is not what these verses allude to]. "Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness [its not about bread].
You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion [still talking about seeds of righteousness], and through us [Apostle Paul and his partner] your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.
Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!"
Isn't that precious, wouldn't it be great if we could really get into this mode. Here is the reason for this planting of the Word: "At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality." (2 Corinthians 8:14)
This is referring to spiritual nourishment. Reassuring you as a believer, the teacher refers to 1 Corinthians 1:5-9: "For in Him you have been enriched in every way- in all your speaking and in all your knowledge, because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful."
According to Paul we do not live by the standards of the world and we don't wage war as the world does. Our weapons have divine power to demolish strongholds. The next sentence is very important and is a must for growth in faith, knowledge and love. We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. That is how the devil is controlled. "But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. `Get behind me, Satan!' he said. `You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.'" (Mark 8:33)
"Obedience in taking thoughts captive, is reaffirming your love for Him (the test of obedience: if you forgive anyone, I also forgive him in order that Satan might not outwit us. We are not unaware of his schemes).
All theologies that teach salvation by faith plus human effort are forcefully negated by the Apostle Paul. He teaches justification by faith plus nothing and sanctification by the Holy Spirit [not the Mosaic Law], which goes on for the rest of our lives. Paul speaking:
"But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me (isn't that what is really going on in us also?) so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were Apostles before I was. "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom
the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." (John 14:26)
"But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come." (John 16:13)
"But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth." (1 John 2:20) "As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit- just as it has taught you, remain in Him [Christ Jesus]. (1 John 2:27)
A convert to Christ is one who devotes himself or herself to members of Christ's body as Paul suggested: "You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts [to Christ] in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints. I urge you, brothers, to submit to such as these and to everyone who joins in the work, and labors at it. (1 Corinthians 15,16)
"Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow-workers in Christ Jesus." (Romans 16:3) "They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them." (Romans 16:3,4) They refreshed my spirit and yours also. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement because you brother have refreshed the hearts of the saints.
Here is our dilemma today. False brothers have infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ to make us slaves. We can't give in to them. The truth of the Gospel cannot stand in that kind of environment. The truth of the Gospel must remain with you. It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." (Galatians 5:1) "You, my brothers [and sisters], were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love." (Galatians 5:13)
Speaking of the Body of Christ, there are some Gentiles, some Jews, some slaves and some are free. There are many dissimilar members and respect and care for each other is emphasized. All are baptized by one Spirit into one body. One Spirit to drink from. One body of many parts and all are needed. The Holy Spirit fitted us all together into one body. Paul addresses the Galatians:
"My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you." (Galatians 4:19) "For in Christ Jesus .. the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love." (Galatians 5:6)
"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." (Ephesians 4:30) "I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us- yes, the many good things he has done for the house of Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses.
He said, `Surely they are my people, sons who will not be false to me'; and so he became their Saviour. In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit. So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them." (Isaiah 63:7-10)
The composition of His church is in Ephesians 4:10-25 & 1 Corinthians 12:3,10. Jesus descended and ascended to fill the whole universe. He gave Apostles, Prophets who preach God's Word, Evangelists, Pastors, Elders and Teachers and the nine gifts: miracles, powers of prophecy, discernment, speaking in different kind of tongues, interpretations of tongues, healing, message of wisdom, message of knowledge and faith.
"Jesus gave us these ingredients to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the Body of Christ may be built up "until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ." (Ephesians 4:13)
According to Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:13, God has a field assigned to us within which we entreat others and we are not to go beyond our limits. He said to his listeners: "our hope is that your faith continues to grow and our area of activity among you will greatly expand." In Paul's case it expanded all over the world just through his letters. The conclusion is: we are free. God will bring people into our lives who need what we have to offer. Our church is where we fit in best, to do what God has called us to do: plant the Words of the Gospel, wherever we are. I
In closing, Scripture admonishes us to "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything (by the Word). Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil."
"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it." (1 Thessalonians 5:16-24)