Goodnews Christian Ministry
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CHRISTIAN CHURCHES

The Institutional Church
An Architecture Crafted By the Holy Spirit

"Do not stay away from the meetings of the community as some do,
but encourage each other to go;
the more so as you see the Day drawing near."

Hebrews 10:25

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That command in the New Testament book of Hebrews not only urges us to go to church regularly but even more so when we see the last days begin to unfold. With the rebuilding of Jerusalem, our entrance into those last days is a certainty. This means, according to the New Testament, we should be going to church more now than ever before.

Of all the functions performed by the Church, none is more important than baptism. Were it not for a structured Church, the ritual of baptism would have long-ago been abandoned. The same is true for all Christian rituals, including the preaching, teaching, and spread of the knowledge of the words of Christ. With no authority to argue for their importance, there would have been no structure in place to prevent a haphazard approach to the vital rules of Christ. Missunderstanding would have quickly replaced sound doctrine giving false prophets full reign over the people. Soon, salvation would have disappeared from the planet.

Abandoning the churches is out of the question.

False are the prophets who say the Church is tainted and needs to be abandoned. Jesus promised that the Church He established on earth would last forever. It cannot pass away. It cannot be abandoned. What we see surrounding us today is an architecture crafted by the Holy Spirit ­ seven churches ­ all different, but all structured on the One Jesus Christ.

"So I now say to you: You are Peter (the name means 'rock') and on this rock I will build my Church. And the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it." (Mat.16:13).

It will not pass away.

However, the Church can be attacked and scripture promises that in these last days, sons of Satan will arise and try to destroy it ­ both from the inside and from the outside. Satan hates the Church and is sworn to try to tear it down. Those who argue against the Church are a party to these attempts. Because these institutions are the guardians of the people within them, they are destined by prophecy to come under furious assault as the mortal wound heals to bring back the world-government of paganism. It is unthinkable that we, as Christians, should join in these assaults.

Like divine lighthouses on earth, the churches shine the light of Christ out to a fog-shrouded world, blinded by immorality and the lure of riches. No one should ever try to extinguish their lights. Scripture says that these beacons will top every hill, sounding the trumpet (the prophecy of the Gospel) and displaying God's standard (the cross) before the eyes of the entire world.

Look around you on top of the hills. God's churches are there, just as prophecy said they would be ­ "on the day when the towers fall" (Is.30:25).

"On a bare hill hoist a signal, sound the war cry." (Is.13:1).

"Wisdom has built herself a house, she has erected her seven pillars, she has slaughtered her beasts, prepared her wine, she has laid her table. She has despatched her maidservants and proclaimed from the city's heights: 'Who is ignorant? Let him step this way'. To the fool she says, 'Come and eat my bread, drink the wine I have prepared! Leave your folly and you will live, walk in the ways of perception.': (Pr. 9:1-6).

"Against the walls of Babylon display the standard! Strengthen the guard! Post the sentries! Take up concealed positions! For God made a plan, and he has treated the citizens of Babylon as he promised he would. (Jer.51:12).

"Display the standard throughout the world, sound the trumpet among the nations! Prepare nations to make war on Babylon; summon kingdoms against her..." (Jer.51:27).

"Sound the trumpet in Zion, give the alarm on my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the country tremble, for the day of God is coming, yes, it is near. Day of darkness and gloom, day of cloud and blackness." (Joel 2:1).

How long must I see the standard and hear the trumpet call?" This is because my people are stupid, they do not know me, they are slow-witted children, they have no understanding: they are clever enough at doing wrong, but do not know how to do right." (Jer.4:16-22).

"Now go and inscribe this on a tablet, write it in a book, that it may serve in the time to come as a witness forever: On every high mountain and upon every high hill, there will be streams and watercourses, on the day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall" (Is.30:8; 25).

Bible prophecy shows that God has divided the "River" of the Holy Spirit into seven streams so that men may cross dryshod. These tributaries are the symbolic seven churches in the Book of Revelation. We can see these streams of the Holy Spirit reflected in the thousands of churches that preach Jesus across the world.

"And God will...stretch out his hand over the River, and divide it into seven streams, for men to cross dry-shod, to make a pathway for the remnant of his people..." (Is.11:15).

"The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lamp-stands are the seven churches themselves." (Rev.1:20)

People may argue against the churches because they see human nature in it's membership. But those arguments are spurious . Jesus commanded us to gather into groups for worship and prayer. He called His Church a "house of prayer" (Luke 19:45; Jer.7:14). Its gatherings hold a special kind of power:

"For wherever two or three meet in my name, I shall be there with them." (Mt.18:19-20).

"Foreigners who have attached themselves to the Lord to serve him and to love his name and be his servants ­ all who observe the sabbath, not profaning it, and cling to my covenant ­ these I will bring to my holy mountain. I will make them joyful in my house of prayer. Their holocausts and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar, for my house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples." (Is 56:7)

The churches form the lampstands on which we are commanded to place our lights so that all may see them when they come in. Jesus said those lamps could not be hidden under beds (buried in private rooms), but had to be displayed in such a away that the whole Church could observe their light. That is the meaning of the institutional Church. It is a lampstand ­ the lampstand of God. Everyone knows where it is because it stands on a high hill sounding the trumpet and displaying the standard to the entire world.

"For water gushes in the desert, streams in the wasteland, the scorched earth becomes a lake, the parched land springs of water. (Is.35:6-7)

The seven churches are the "nations" and "kingdoms" God has summoned against Babylon. These "kingdoms" are the the seven pillars of the institutional church. Together, they provide the concealed positions inside of which the children of God lie hidden. Those who rail against the strength of her guards fail to understand God's intent to rule Babylon with an "iron sceptre":

"With iron sceptre you will break them, shatter them like potters ware." (Ps. 2:9).

"To those who prove victorious, and keep working for me until the end, I will give the authority over the pagans which I myself have been given by my Father, to rule them with an iron sceptre and shatter them like earthenware." (Rev. 2:26-29).

For almost 2000 years the western world has ruled the earth. The baton of that rule has passed from one nation to another during those years, but the fixed philosophy of all has been the singularity of Jesus Christ. Beginning from the moment the Roman emperor Theodosus declared Christianity to be the official religion of the ruling world, it has remained so all the way into our own time. A world-government of Christ has ruled the earth with "an iron sceptre".

The healing of the mortal wound means that paganism is destined to retake philosophical control of the planet's governments. It has already happened. The "rule" of Christ will be overturned in a Great Revolt (now in progress) as the people turn their backs on the offer of salvation from God that could have saved them ­ the message of hope trumpeted from the seven churches.

The people of Satan will reject both Jesus and His Church.

And then...they will attack it, sending all the congregations fleeing to the mountains.

The "grape harvest will be over" (Is. 24:13). "Gathering will not come again". (Is.32:10).

"The city of emptiness is in ruins, the entrance to every house is shut. There is lamentation in the streets: no wine, joy quite gone, gladness banished from the country. Nothing but rubble in the city, the gate smashed to pieces. So it will be on earth, among the peoples...when the grape harvest is over." (Is. 9-13).

So enjoy the time of gathering that still remains. Support it with all your strength because a beast is coming who intends to chop down the walls of the churches with axes and turn the world's cathedrals into ashes (Psalm 74):

"Pick your steps over these endless ruins: the enemy have sacked everything in the sanctuary. They roared where your Assemblies used to take place, they stuck their enemy emblems over the entrance, emblems we had never seen before. Axes deep in the wood, hacking at the panels, they battered them down with mallet and hatchet; then, God, setting fire to your sanctuary, they profanely razed the house of your name to the ground. Determined to destroy us once and for all, they burned down every shrine of God in the country. Deprived of signs, with no prophets left, who can say how long this will last?"

Support the Church. God is going to rise up at the end, full strength in majesty and great glory, and rule in favor of His people and His Church, proving once and for all that "the gates of the underworld can never hold out against it." (Matt.16:13).

 

(See also 'The Clock of God', Chapter 15, "The Seven Churches")

 




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