♣ Church Doors Barred – God’s Purpose Unmarred
IN LIGHT OF worldwide churches eager to reopen its doors to resume physical fellowship, we hear of many appealing to our governments to lift such restrictions, albeit much insubordination has taken place that brings much disrepute upon Christendom.
Under such circumstances we would do well to recall what Scripture states:
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name… Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” (1 Peter 4:12-16; 19). Let’s not confine it to these words: “But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler.” That list encompasses anything that is unlawful, anything that would cause the world to question us because of the hypocrisy and contradictions we display. Again, as Peter mentions in the previous chapter in verse 15: “For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.”
Much opposition toward Christians today that arise in our westernised cultures is not really persecution – from a Biblical perspective – but one as a result of stupidity and ignorance of the church’s blueprint clearly laid out in Scripture. A plethora of churches have their man-made agendas and enterprises and many wonder why of their inefficacy or closure in society.
God needs no one and has no need of any leader programs, missionary organisation or evangelistic outreach as if the Great Commission depended on us. Yes, we have the command to go throughout the entire world making known the Revelation God has given us (Matthew 28:19-20), but God is more than able to do it without us. The wonder of it all is that God has chosen us to be a part of making known His name throughout the world. It is an honour that God has willed to work through us as incredibly weak as we are and as totally dependent upon Him as we ought to be.
Left to our own strength and resources, the Church is no match for world powers, but also let us consider the rise and fall of many empires. Because Christ is the builder of the Church, no power shall prevent its growth and influence despite acute opposition that may face the Church, God is in absolute control over all.
“When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars. I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’ and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn; do not lift up your horn on high, or speak with haughty neck… For not from the east or from the west and not from the wilderness comes lifting up, but it is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another. ’” (Psalm 75:3-7)
“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; He turns it wherever he will.” (Proverbs 21:3)
Nothing will thwart, delay, interrupt or mar the purposes of God that He decreed long before this world was spoken into being by His very word. What He called and created out of nothing has absolutely no power to change what He has set in motion and what He continues to perform; all will turn out exactly the way God has determined, without any moment of losing hope.
All of the elites that have ‘ruled’ and still ‘rule’ this world and the world banks that ‘control’ the lives of billions of people; every agenda, hidden or disclosed, falls subservient to the very purposes of God; every oppression and every form of tyranny comes under the suzerainty of God’s will. One of the greatest eternal torments of world leaders on the Day of Judgement will be the knowledge they were not in control after all. Every tongue shall speak with absolute conviction and every power shall bend its knee to the revelation that Jesus Christ is Lord over all.
Perhaps the governing bodies have an agenda to keep churches closed, perhaps not, but whatever the aim, let the government do what it likes – keep the churches closed, prevent Christians meeting together, or let them pronounce Christianity illegal – nothing will stop the kingdom of God advancing. What if God allowed this to happen in order to bring about one of the greatest spiritual awakenings the world has known without any aid of man or woman; what if God were to remind us that He can bring about every one of His desires without us?
Either Jesus Christ is a liar, an exaggerator or He is Lord in verifying what He said that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church. The most powerful elites, deceived in believing they have ultimate power, are mere puppets under the sway of spiritual evil; our war is not against human powers that we see but against satanic forces; our fight is against spiritual rulers behind the veil of flesh.
Either the apostle Paul was a mere dreamer that caught the momentary attention of the greatest philosophers or he is the greatest marvel of what God can do through the most hopeless case; are we to refute what He stated in Romans 8:35,38: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?… For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The greatest tyranny is sin, not human agencies that may mar or deny our physical freedoms. Name one power, nation or empire that has eradicated the Church. Is that to change?
We are so consumed with our own church agendas we have forgotten the living God; through being accustomed to relying upon our own enterprises and methods we have lost sight of God’s ways. We have ‘deified’ ourselves to the point that God remains in a state of paralysis until the church does something. John Wesley said, “God does nothing but in answer to prayer”, but true prayer, according to the will of God, is birthed by the Holy Spirit; we cannot even open our mouths aright until the Holy Spirit breathes such aching desires
We are anxious in the wrong areas; we panic and waste time over scenarios that really have no threat to the interests and purposes of God – threats to our efforts and works but never to God’s. Is God’s existence and display of power limited to church gathering and activity? If so we have a blasphemous image of God; we have a very weak god who is not worthy of worship but rather of pity.
A thorough saturation in the Scriptures and understanding of God’s revelation of His plan of salvation bleeding through its pages will be the antidote to the vexed heart and troubled mind; a familiarisation of church history and how God has wondrously worked through her greatest opposition; a sound understanding that authentic revival and spiritual awakening has occurred when the church was at her lowest ebb will shake us out of disbelief and a false image of God erected in the hearts of many.
Churches need no new vision of missionary enterprises; we desperately need a restored vision Of God Himself – His immeasurable greatness, His unfathomable depths, His sovereignty, His majesty burned on our hearts. That is the fuel and secret of the evangelist, pastor and missionary; everything flows from that. It is a blow to our pride and conceit, little ‘deities’ pumped with self-importance. We don’t build the Church – and that has been our mistake. Closed churches are a reflection of that, but the church Christ continues to build will withstand any opposing power.
Let us overthrow the myth that the church is strong only when physically gathered together. We are spiritually joined and as God is not limited to our realm, so we, who are united to Christ as one body, are not limited to what God chooses to do through us, no matter what physical distance may occur between us as believers. Prayer saturated in the revealed will of God is what has turned the world upside down.
We hear it recently mandated by the government in various places around the globe that singing is prohibited in churches. How long this will continue no one knows exactly, but most of us assume that such restrictions will lift once this pandemic is well under control. Few Christians accept such laws while others buck against and oppose. A church does not survive on singing; worship does not consist alone of singing. We do not sing to our idols; what makes us think that singing encapsulates worshipping God? Worship FIRST and FOREMOST is obedience to God; singing is not the but an expression of our love for God. It has often been said that much of our worship is being enamoured with worship rather than the object of our worship. Much of what passes for today’s worship is a travesty of genuine worship; we are merely sounding good in our own ears no matter what feelings of elation or elevation we gain – that does not entail God invoked such emotions or feelings. A.W. Tozer said, “I must confess some of the most delightful meetings that I have been in have been where God is present in such awesome power that the people were afraid to move. At times, the presence of God was so thick on the assembly that nobody could even whisper. God was indeed in that place.” There have been times when God has been near in worship that singing dissipates; silence in the realm of adoration far surpasses our efforts and we stand and kneel to behold what words can never convey. The presence of God has so burned that one is reduced to tears with the overwhelming realisation of how small we are and how indescribably great God is and that in His grace and love dares to draw near to us as sinful as we are. One cannot explain such an experience but that God is beautiful beyond all knowing and expression – we stand in AWE and oftentimes will bow in silence; we dare not utter a word for GOD is here! Not out of dread or fear but with the overpowering realization that our words are not worthy in the presence of One Who infinitely transcends all dimensions of time, space, light and powers – the mysteries that even confound our greatest scientists. So what if our singing in churches is temporarily prohibited. Perhaps God maybe heard; perhaps the removal of ‘I’ve-got-talent’ in worshipping God and the L’Oréal, “Because-I’m-worth-it” conceited perspective, God may after all be seen. As Tozer also stated, “We not only tell lies, we sing them.” How genuine is our worship? Singing is an important aspect of worship but it is a means to an end not an end in itself.
The Church may encounter government restrictions and there is no wrong in rightfully appealing such notions; the laws of our land grants us rights but when such freedoms may undergo denials and prohibitions, we have a higher Court of Law that presides over all earthly institutes and powers. Our appeal should first and foremost be to Him, for the honour of His name. This was the flame of the selfless New Testament Church – that God’s name be known and His glory be manifest throughout the world
The regime of communist China has not entered our western realms and yet the church in China continues to flourish. What is our concern? If such political ideologies become a stronghold in our nations, God will not have lost the war – far from it – but in His infinite wisdom will use such opposition to further His purposes. We may lose our comforts and some freedoms but never our standing in Christ if we indeed be in Christ, and if we are in Christ we are free indeed.
“I will build My Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” We have the affirmative “I“ – God Himself; “will“ – where all authority and power has been given to Him, and “My“ – where no power shall pluck the work – His inheritance; His own people – from His hands.
Posted on July 5, 2020, in ♣ Devotional and tagged Church Doors Barred - God's Purpose Unmarred, devotional, M.A. Williams, Mark Anthony Williams, Shade of the Moriah Tree. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.