And Neither is His Church
I ended the article with an allusion to the title stating: "The church is not God."
I also said that the decline in religion, or church attendance is good news. Not only is it good news, it is something that God is happy about, because He is causing it.
But, Jesus said that the gates of Hell will not be able to stand against the power of the Church. (Matt. 16:18)
So. What is the truth? Is the world, under the power of the devil, actually driving the Church to destruction? Or, is there something else going on? Let's take a look.
First, let's go back to the verse quoted above and look at the whole thing.
Jesus was asking His disciples who they thought He was. Finally, Peter blurted out that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus said, "Blessed are you Simon, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you; but my Father in heaven. And I say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
Catholics take this to show that the church is built upon Peter, the first pope. Protestants take this to mean that the rock is the rock of revelation that Jesus is the Christ, and that revelation is what builds the church. Regardless, it still looks as if the gates of hell are stronger than the church of the Lord Jesus Christ in today's world.
But, that is only an appearance, an illusion, actually.
It is an illusion, because what is commonly called the church has very little resemblance to what Jesus said He was building.
The church is not a building, and it is not necessarily the people who meet in that building on the corner called church.
When Jesus said He would build His church, He was referring to those who are the "called out ones." The word translated "church" is a compound word meaning "called out." Being called out is what happens when the revelation of Jesus is given by the Father. (That is a highly simplistic statement and explanation of something much more profound.)
Many of those who profess Christianity today (and in days gone by) have never had that revelation. They have been persuaded by logic, or social expectations, or tradition to be what they know as Christian. This is the multitude that the majority sees. This is the multitude who do not measure up to the standards of the Word, or the standards the world expects of Christians.
The true church is probably not too visible. They probably do not meet in large groups, if they meet at all. Most of them know that what is called "church" or "worship service" has no resemblance to anything the Lord of the Church desires. Many of them have heeded the call to "come out of her, my people," (Rev. 18:4) and will no longer participate in that which has no life.
These people find themselves wondering if they have any truth at all. They feel as if they are outsiders even when they try to participate in what "everybody else is doing." They wonder if maybe they haven't walked away from the Lord and what God is doing in the earth today. They hunger for fellowship around more than food, fun, and football. They may ache in their heart for every friend they once had who cannot tolerate their not being "in church." They may look around and feel as if they are the only ones who are being true to the Lord.
But, the Lord says, "I have reserved to myself 7000 who have not bowed the knee to Baal." (Rom. 11:4 from 1 Kings 19:18)
While the statistics may say that religion is declining in America, the truth is that God is separating the good from the bad, the wheat from the tares. Therefore, it is a good thing that religion is on the way out. It was never God's intention for you to be religious anyway.
As Billy Graham has observed: "Religion is man's attempt to reach God." That attempt usually fails.
No, my friend, the Church is alive and well and accomplishing all that the Father has declared for her to accomplish. Open your eyes, and maybe you will see her in all her radiant glory. She is not in a building. She is not in a home. She is not in the street. She is all around you.
And YOU have been called to be a part of this church.
Comments, questions, and criticisms are welcomed here. Please add to the discussion by giving yours. Thank you.