Dare Not Destroy The Church…

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?  If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.  Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.( ! Corinthians 3:16-18)

We are currently living in the very times that the Apostles and Prophets long warned of, the terrible “last days” which would be marked by such things as Betrayal, loss of Love, and defection from God due to Love of Self.

“And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another… And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”  (Matthew 24:10, 12)

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves… Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2 Timothy 3:1-2,5)

Notice that Paul predicted that these dreadful characteristics would be shared by those professing godliness as well as by the secular.

Over the past three decades. there has been a general debasement of the definition of what it means to be truly born again. Much of this has to do with new methods of evangelization, the Church growth movement, (Which turned the filling of pews into a social science and even consulted unsaved marketing experts to take on the challenge of growing the church) , experience based Christianity, and a terribly low standard of Christian teaching.

One way this new, debased form of evangelicalism expresses itself is in the way people now view the church.

Church is often seen as a consumer choice; christians go shopping, asking themselves,  ‘what does this church offer me?’, what programs or experiences  as compared to other churches? Tiny churches are wiped out, unable to sustain in the face of the ‘benefits’ of Mega-Churches , in much the same way as Wal /Mart wiped out the old fashioned neighborhood ‘Mom and Pop’ stores.

Should a church ever disappoint in any slight way, perhaps the preaching is too long, or the lack of a Youth Group, or I have even heard that the ‘music’ was outdated, the people simply leave, cutting off support for the very body of believers that they raised their children with, were married in, and which prayed with them through previous trials of life.

The truth is…modern evangelicals routinely treat the church, it’s officers and authority with utter contempt, very nearly as much as the most ardent secularist.

 

I have seen longtime Christians who thought nothing of “going off” on an angry tirade, screaming in their Pastor’s  face, disparaging, mocking and even sneering at attempts at reconciliation, and when called upon to consider repentance, they proceeded to lobby everyone in the church to take their “side”, in an attempt to cause a split in the church.

They put their hurt feelings above the church, and have set out to destroy it.

Even many Pastors despise the church. I have a ‘colleague’ in my town, a Calvary Chapel Pastor, who has lived here 9 years, and has never had a substantive conversation with me in all of those years, but who inserted himself into the above named split, confiding in a widely circulated e-mail that he has been praying for the dissolution of “that so called church” (Believers in Grace) “for many years now”!

What is the church to these people? Do they not realize that as small and weak as it seems to be to them, it is something Jesus himself ordained, and ‘purchased with his own blood”? With all of her flaws, the church is precious to Jesus. Wouldn’t it be better to just leave, then to conduct a “scorched earth” policy, contacting everyone associated with the church, and seeking to delegitimize it?

But this is the very “Love of Self” which Paul warned of.

Assume for a moment that these people were wronged somehow…no one is of perfect knowledge yet except Jesus.

Wouldn’t it be better to suffer wrong, than to destroy a valid, longstanding church? If you can no longer function in a given local church, why try to take everyone else out also? Is it ever right to destroy a church?

What is Church anyway? We all know that a church isn’t a building. Jesus ordained the Eccelesia, that is, “the called out ones”, telling his disciples, “Where two or more are gathered together, there am I in the midst of them”. 

In the Old Testament, God was localized on earth. The city of Jerusalem was where the Holy House of God had been erected, and when He descended to earth in the days of Solomon, he inhabited that Holy House, and people streamed into Jerusalem from the ends of the earth, that the temple might be a house of prayer for all nations.

But in the New Testament, the place of worship is now decentralized and diffused throughout the earth. God has been gathering two or three here and two or three there, and the redeemed of the LORD gather in these companies to pray, worship, break bread and receive the teaching of Jesus. Jesus said “…I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matthew 16). 

Obviously the church will never be wiped out, although it is Satan who spends his fury on attempting to do so. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up again…”.

The church is the temple of God, it is where God dwells. The least, most humble church is still a place where God’s saints can resort to on a regular basis, break bread, be built up, hear the Word, pray and bring people to be evangelized.

Though there are times where Christian people see flaws and incompatibilities, and in some cases judge a church which they once belonged to as inadequate for some reason…the thing to do is leave and if possible leave on good terms, and hook up with a more compatible church.

I myself have had to leave a few churches, for doctrinal reasons, or because I thought the leadership a bit heavy handed, but I would never dream of discrediting that church or seeking to dislodge members from it. I fear God.

But to try to destroy a church, in order to justify one’s self, is to strip those blessings from others. Modern people may despise a weak, struggling church, full of flaws, spots and blemishes, but still faithful to be a constant presence, a witness to Jesus, a place of regular worship, breaking of bread and teaching… . Jesus doesn’t despise that, not in the least.

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17 Responses to Dare Not Destroy The Church…

  1. standingfirm says:

    The betrayals, sowing seeds of discord, slandering, love of self, without natural affection etc. I see it all. The one thing that comes to my mind is when Jesus says “by their fruits you shall know them”. MARANATHA!!!

  2. Jennifer Stimson says:

    Dear Bill my heart aches for this split. We had to leave a much loved long term church once when an incoming pastor wanted to take the church into the Toronto thing. We met with him and tried to talk but he ended up literally yelling us out of the door. We quietly extricated ourselves from our work and withdrew from the church, saying nothing to anyone except the people involved. And no-one ever asked why we left! The church limped on for a while and then the pastor left anyway, but great damage had been done.
    Bill, your Believers in Grace sermons minister to us regularly over here in England. Fellowship is precious and faithful teaching of the Word even more so.
    My heart goes out to you, you are in the front line and vulnerable to all that Christians are capable of. What is it that people want? I am at a loss!
    All love to you in Christ Jesus, and our prayers, Jennie S.

    • Maureen Leigh says:

      I too left over the Toronto fiasco; the pastor told me I wouldn’t be at the “cutting edge” and later I heard he had said the people who had left were the ones the Lord had rejected!
      Jesus understands it all, my friends and I are only 3 now but we are in dire times, and the Lord does not change.
      p.s. I am in England too, south Yorks. God bless you sister

    • billrandles says:

      Thanks so much Jennifer(and Giles), We are doing quite well and our church is going well, in spite of the deep pruning the good Husbandmen is performing on us. I just blog about my experiences hoping they will be of helpful instruction and encouragement to others…Thanks all for praying.

      • Michael G says:

        Pastor Bill: Since this article is older, I don’t know if my reply will come up, but may I state emphatically that you are a gentleman. That I think this of you may mean little, since you don’t know me, but I will tell you that it’s the conduct of a gracious gentleman that has always attracted me. Sadly, there are few gentleman in the service of Christ, nowadays. May you know that your conduct has been a great encouragement to those with eyes. God bless you.

      • billrandles says:

        Thank you dear brother

  3. Maureen Leigh says:

    Dear Bill you are such a great blessing to us. Many thanks

  4. Joy McCloud says:

    Blessings Pastor Randles
    Would you apply this to all “fundamental”
    Churche? Even to those where serious error and unquestionable false doctrine rules the day?
    Thank you

    And by the way I enjoy your sermons online
    very much. You are one of very few I listen to and a great blessing.

    • billrandles says:

      No I definitely think one should leave churches which deny Christ and teach false doctrine especially in the areas of distorting salvation and the nature of God and Christ- get out of any church you wouldn’t want to bring the unsaved to…

  5. Rich says:

    An unknowing pastor praying for dissolution of your church! Amazing! What would cause that other than heresay, gossip and backbiting? He can’t know first hand what the doctrine of Believers in Grace is about and must have learned about it thru others opinions. It’s all conjecture so I’ll stop guessing. I’ve stopped attending churches because of doctrine and your right, pastor, that’s one thing. But injecting yourself based on a guess…
    1 Peter 3:8-10 NKJV
    [8] Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; [9] not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing. [10] For “He who would love life And see good days, Let him refrain his tongue from evil, And his lips from speaking deceit…

  6. Alicia Odens says:

    Dear Pastor Bill thank you for sharing this. I appreciate everyone’s comments too. It helps hearing about the experiences of other brothers and sisters who have similar experiences. It helps strengthen and build up courage for standing firm in the truth and faithfulness to His Word. My family and I left the fellowship we were at for a long time once we learned of the pastor’s dabbling with NAR teachings and his backbiting and gossip. He also would tell the congregation that the people who left were being weeded out by God. We also picked up on his games of turning people against each other including spouses. So much manipulation. So much emphasis on unity yet there was none because nothing was based on the truth in God’s Word.
    No one there was on the same page at all. When we left no one asked why either. Everyone just assumed that whatever the pastor said was truth even his gossip. Not realizing they were gossiping. Brain games.
    I’ll be honest I hoped that all the wickedness that was unveiled to us to be taking place there would stop. Eventually it did fall apart. The pastor moved and only a very few remain there. All the sheep scattered to other places. There is a powerful feeling of great loss leaving a church and much hurt from feeling betrayed and that people never really had love for each other.
    We don’t have a place still but feel so close when we can listen to you online and worship even from a distance with you and your fellowship. Being a part of baptisms and conferences are such a blessing that even though you don’t know us we feel we are in the presence of God’s family and that is so precious beyond words.

    • billrandles says:

      Thanks Alicia, God always provides a table in the wilderness… come see us sometime…

      On Sat, Jun 16, 2018 at 10:36 AM, Pastor Bill Randles Blog wrote:

      >

  7. Dmarie says:

    Amen to Alicia’s experience – same exact thing for our family.
    And, as you stated, people don’t even ask – they just believe what they are told by the expert manipulators.
    (And, I do warn others of these ‘wolves’ when the opportunity arises…. according to God’s Word I don’t believe it’s wrong to do so.)
    Even close family members and friends believe the lies if they want to. It really sheds light on whether these others TRULY love Jesus and HIS church – or if they’re just in it for some kind of personal need to be filled.
    “Do not despise the day of small beginnings” – the LORD usually works through those who are
    despised and rejected – as He was. 🙂

  8. Dmarie says:

    So, thank you, Believers In Grace Fellowship – for being there for all of us who’ve been scattered. 🙂
    We cherish what God is doing through you and for His (true) Body 🙂

  9. CSmith says:

    “LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart.

    He that backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour. In whose eyes a vile person is contemned; but he honoureth them that fear the LORD. He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not” (Psa 15:1-4).

    My wife and I also were “spiritual refugees” for a number of years wandering from church to church trying to find a church and pastor like we once loved, but is no more.

    Our pastor who labored among us with preparations consistent with such words as wisdom; doctrine; discernment. He would construct each phrase with theological precision, and expound each verse in context, i.e., in context of all of Scripture. As he stood before us each Lord’s Day morning, he would forget his notes and the Spirit would simply overflow. That joy returned each evening, as he soon forgot the hour… Did I say, “expound each verse”? That is so cold a word, rather the Spirit within gave each one life.

    He once told of a child in a garden “helping” his mother, and of the rose bud he brought her with all its delicate layers prematurely unfolded. He warned of the evangelical exuberance that attempts to force some soul before his time rather than just sowing seed and relinquishing it to the unseen power of the Spirit: “… So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground; And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how” (Mark 4:26-27).

    For those committing children to the Lord, he always seemed to find some Godly virtue in every name. And there was always that letter not to be opened until a thirteenth birthday; a “time capsule” containing spiritual admonition to a maturing child, but perhaps more important, a subtle reminder of a parent’s vow.

    Undercharged at a store, most would have been on their way, but he went back begging to repay. The clerk essentially said it was no big deal, but for him it was. Then he had the manager involved; it was not just a matter of a dollar, but of a witness, perhaps the eternal destiny of a soul, or perhaps compromise in the eyes of a watching child.

    Upon receiving a significant opportunity to serve the Lord in another church, he immediately brought the matter before us for prayer… for His will and glory.

    He loved basketball and playing it with his fellow workers in the Truth, but for some unexplained reason he felt convicted. Most would not have given a second thought. But “transgressing” conventional “Christian” wisdom, he opted for a still small voice.

    And how fervently he encouraged us to love His first love Israel whose covenants he taught were the very “fingerprints of God.”

    When personally convicted in a trivial matter regarding 1 Timothy 3:4, he did not compromise, but tendered his resignation.

    When things out of his control caused ignominy to descend upon the church, these things were confronted in the presence of all… but with love and tears and the humbling realization: if the Apostle Paul regarded himself the “chief” of sinners “then who am I”?

    In the final days of his affliction when a friend came to console, our pastor coveted assurance that His little “AWANA” ones would continue to receive His Word.

    And like the man for whom he was named, he fought the good fight, he finished the course, he kept the faith. “And he was not; for God took him.”

    I remember him testifying that for each of us there is an “opportune moment in history, a moment in eternity, to bring glory to the Living God.” I remember how he used his opportune moment. How during our frequent times together, he would forget the lectern and perched on the edge of the platform, seeming to curl his toes around it, attempting to get closer still. And in messages filled with excitement and joy, he shared his most recent discoveries from the Word. In his words: “There is nothing in this world more exciting … then to know and do God’s will”!

    • Maureen Leigh says:

      Praise our wonderful, no, Wonderful Lord. HIs Name is Wonderful. What a beautiful testimony. Thank you so much CSmith

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