In my opinion, the organized Christian church (the outwardly visible church) today does not know who or what it is.
Some “mega-churches” rely on well-dressed people driving into the parking lot for Sunday worship in expensive luxury cars, able to write substantial checks to support the large new building mortgage debt.
The stark economic reality of increased financial responsibilities often forces the “church growth” program of the mega-church to foster and maintain an artificial exterior front that everything is socially, economically, and spiritually perfect in the lives of its church members…in order to attract the “unchurched” and expand its support base.
Other churches sadly are so mired in stuffy rituals and old-fashioned tradition…that the Holy Spirit…and most young people have left.
Some churches wanting to be acceptable to the world and to fit-in with the liberal cultural agenda of moral relativity and universal tolerance, have abandoned any fidelity to absolute moral truths and biblical ideals.
All the while a new covenant journey of faith following Jesus Christ that would actualize into every Christian’s experience leading personally to knowing God from the least to the greatest (Jer. 31:31-34), is sadly neglected and placed at the bottom of the priority list.
The Christian church needs God’s help to find itself.
The Christian church does not need an early exit, pretribulation rapture from the typically biblical, unimaginably unconventional scenario of events that God will guide and shape in the last-days for the eternal benefit of His church.
The plans, schemes, and actions of God that we read about in the individual lives of the people of faith in the Bible give us a clue as to what we might expect for the last-days Christian church as a whole. This is the final exam, the capstone course on faith and trust in the good intentions of God, worked out through the tightest of circumstances to match His normally unusual, brilliantly ingenious method of operations.
In short, we need God to set-up the unique circumstances in life to enable us to find ourselves and to find God.
A journey of faith is a journey of discovery, and only our Creator God knows the end-point of purpose that will fulfill each of us individually and as a church.
This is a work of the Holy Spirit, the gift of God purchased for us through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Abraham discovered both his true self and God through his journey of faith, pushed to the limits of human patience and endurance. Likewise all of the positive characters of faith recorded in the Bible found their true selves and God…by being pushed to their limit by the carefully crafted journeys of faith composed by God.
No one could have engineered these brilliantly imaginative biblical life-scripts except for the living God. There is no comparable frame of reference throughout all of human culture, literature, or history for a biblical journey of faith. By intentional design, a biblical journey of faith falls completely outside of humanism. It is not something that we can manufacture on our own.
A journey of faith following Jesus Christ comes entirely by grace through faith. This is why the scripture says that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). Without a God-composed journey of faith fully integrated into our lives, God cannot impact us in the supernaturally transforming way He intends.
This is what is at stake for individual Christians and the Christian church as a whole. This is what Lucifer and the powers of deception will attempt to undermine and destroy in the days ahead.
In the last-days one of the things in Christianity that will be most targeted by radical skeptical unbelief is the one thing…the supernatural elements in the narrative stories of faith in the Bible…that serves as the strongest antidote for the individual defense of our faith.
The debate over the credibility of the Bible is not only a macro-battle that will continue to take place within apologetics, sociology, anthropology, archaeology, history, linguistics, and the natural sciences, but also at the micro-level in the everyday experiences in the lives of Christians.
We prove the faithfulness and credibility of Jesus Christ as the way, the truth, and the life within our personal and collective journey of faith experiences.
It is easy to have faith when we are living on the mountaintop. Christianity is easy when life’s events are going smoothly in parallel with worldly conventional normalcy. The acid-test for Christians is at the point where God inserts hardships and suffering, expertly designed for our character growth but painful nonetheless, according to a game-plan and training regime that is not of our making.
This is a key feature of our Christian walk following Jesus that elevates it far above irrational and make-believe religion. Defining who the real Jesus Christ is, as Creator, Savior, and King of the realm for all eternity as revealed in His divine Word the Bible…but also through God-composed journeys of faith… is the central issue to be finally and emphatically resolved in these upcoming last-days.
Can we as individuals and as the church exercise our faith and maintain our fidelity to Jesus Christ if He leads us into the darkest valley (Ps. 23:4)? Can we push through in faith as overcomers, bearing our cross despite dauntingly negative appearances? This requires the most expert advance training. This training needs to begin now.
The first-century apostles were not initially the intellectual and spiritual elite of Israel. They were ordinary and unremarkable people from a worldly viewpoint. God crafted them into the spiritual elite of Israel, creating through them the early Christian church that has withstood the test of time.
God has been capably transforming lost sinners into mature saints of God for thousands of years. This provides hope that God can do the same for Christians today.
What is it worth to find out through first-hand experience that our God is more intelligent and wiser than ourselves, beyond human imagination?
Is it worth a journey of faith containing the risk that God might fail us? This is the question that was in the back of the minds of every person of faith answering their individual callings of service in the Bible, and the question that each of us has to individually face in our own journeys of faith.
What would be our source of joy for the length of eternity?
It would be to serve a King who is wise, intelligent, adored, respected, and interesting beyond our imaginations, and has our best interests at heart in all of the activities He would involve us in.
God has enlisted this current broken world as the optimum, temporary school for the lessons of faith that will serve us for eternity. This is why an active journey of discovery now is vitally important for the Christian church as a preliminary lead-up to the enormous spiritual conflicts of the last-days.
Some people will accurately complain that I am overstating the case repeatedly throughout this book. I admittedly am guilty of “over-painting the canvas” in coming back to the cross and the need to surrender our self-in-control natures to God to make room for Him to work in our lives.
This issue is so important that I risk the impatience of the reader in sounding like a broken phonograph record.
The highest standards of God for Christians and the Christian church today starts with the surrender and yielding of ourselves to His leading, so that He can initiate the type of biblical-quality life-plans that will get us into top spiritual shape to meet the end-times challenges ahead.
It is the deep and uncompromising love of God that wants to see each one of us triumph as overcomers in this upcoming great end-times conflict between truth and error.
To close out the book, I quote from 2 Corinthians 4:7-18 (KJV):
7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
8 We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair.
9 Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;
10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
11 For we who live are always delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.
12 So then death worketh in us, but life in you.
13 We, having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak,
14 Knowing that he who raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you.
15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.
16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory.
18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.