By Paul Benson
The Glorious Church
Although I don’t claim to be a prophet or visionary, I have a strong yearning to know what is on the Lord’s heart and his mind; and I pray along those lines. Occasionally he gives me a glimpse. The Lord gave me an impression once of his view of modern American Christianity as a whole. Not all inclusive (for God always has a remnant of called out and chosen ones) but like a general overview of the spiritual landscape of the modern Church, so to speak.
The picture he impressed upon my heart was not very flattering. In fact quite the opposite. So in the hopes of keeping this writing digestible, I thought it might be nice to begin here with a look at the finished product; the Church that gets caught away to meet him at his Return. Sometimes a vision of the finish line can be a very helpful boost to those running a race.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. Ephesians 5:25-27
The Scriptures teach that the Lord Jesus Christ is returning for a Bride that is holy; and without spot, wrinkle or blemish. One who has been sanctified, and bathed with the water of the Word. One of my favorite Scriptures is Rev. 19:8 where this Bride is adorned in fine linen pure and white. All dressed up for her union with the Groom for whom she has waited so long. As believers it is the day we all anticipate.
As a writer I am repeatedly prompted to speak out on the fact the modern Church has somehow lost an understanding of the sanctifying nature of the truth of God’s Word. It is truly a marvel that ingesting and following the truths of the Kingdom will produce a pureness of heart and a godly character. There are many verses we could quote to bear witness to this amazing transformation:
- James 1:18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth… We are born-again by receiving and submitting to God’s Word
- 2 Peter 1:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature… We partake of Christ’s very nature by receiving and submitting to God’s Word.
- John 17:17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. We are sanctified by receiving and submitting to God’s Word.
If embracing and adhering to the Word of God brings such change for the good, what should we suppose rejecting and rebelling against the Word of God will produce? I believe it has produced the rebellious and self-willed Church we see professing to be the Body of Christ in our nation today.
A Self-led Body
There is a term used when parts of a body act of their own volition; not waiting for instruction from the brain. They move in unseemly jerking movements that have no accord with the intent of the person residing in that body. Useless unproductive movements that are nothing more than an embarrassment. We call these unintended movements muscle spasms, and someone who is afflicted in an ongoing fashion is referred to as a spastic.
As rude as it sounds, what could more aptly describe a people who claim to be the Body of Christ but show little sign of being in subjection to the instructions or intent of the Head of that body? The Word of God lays fallen in the street while the wayward philosophies and moral(?) guidelines of modern opinion are touted as the Golden Rule! God’s Word has not changed, why has the message? Why has the Church?
How could the American Church have become so disconnected from the truth that once sanctified it? So few Churches are following anything even remotely close to the biblical pattern of assembly, let alone speaking forth the untainted truths of the Scriptures. It’s almost like the Body and Head have been severed from one another. But I don’t think God has stopped talking, some where along the line we have stopped listening.
What do you do when your children turn a deaf ear to you? Why, you raise your voice (or possibly a belt) to get their attention, don’t you? Is it not reasonable to assume God might be considering raising his? Or that maybe he has already began to? (I believe he has.)
And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. 2 Corinthians 6:16-18
The Glorious Church Versus The Harlot
The Lord is returning for a Glorious Church. A Bride sanctified, holy, and in subjection to his will. But where is she? She lies hidden somewhere in the midst of an entity the Bible refers to as a Harlot (Rev. 17:5). God calls unfaithfulness to his will and his ways spiritual adultery and harlotry. Our call to a holy lifestyle has not changed but how often do you hear that call repeated out of the mouth of a professing Christian?
The average church today is so estranged from the truth that even quoting a passage of Scripture like the one listed above will brand you as a weirdo or zealot. Today there is Scripture that is acceptable to speak in a public setting and much that is not. Do we even realize how crazy that is? That we have to hand pick verses of Scripture that will not offend or upset. Shouldn’t we be a little more concerned about maybe offending or upsetting God? Those liberal rebels who find the truth so abrasive are not going to be around forever, but the Lord sure is! Who should we be more worried about, them or him?
THE SPASTIC HARLOT
So I guess by now you have a pretty good idea of the image God deposited in me of his estimation of the modern American Church. The image he gave me was that of a spastic harlot in a wheelchair. A rebellious and self-willed woman, given over to much uncleanness and much unfaithfulness; and severely crippled by uncontrollable spasmodic behavior. The image still shocks me, and wounds my heart to this day.
God loves his people (and so do I, that’s why I write these words). But throwing aside his Word in favor of modern opinion has corrupted the behavior of multitudes, and will have disastrous consequences for America (beginning with the Church! But that’s a thought we will address another time). If we are claiming to be the Body of Christ we better get in submission to his will, and his Word. And we had better be walking in a pure and upright fashion. Or we will be seen in his eyes as nothing more than a Spastic Harlot pawning herself off as the Betrothed of the Lord.
Philippians 2:12-13 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
The good news is that if we are truly Christians then God is at work in us! We have God’s Spirit at work in us to lead us and help us conform to his will. It all comes down to our individual decision to follow the teaching of God’s Word with our whole heart. Are we going to follow God’s ways or the ways of the world. God is sifting the wheat from the chaff; and sadly most will not make the cut.
Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light. Ephesians 5:14
A body without the spirit is dead (James 2:26). Jesus is not returning to marry a corpse! More than ever we need to untangle ourselves from the harlotry and adultery of this backslid modern Christian counterfeit we are surrounded with today. Let’s get rid of every spot, wrinkle, and blemish. Let’s obey the call to come out from among them and be separate. Washed by his Blood and filled with his Life. That’s the Glorious Church the Lord Jesus is coming for!