Jesus promised that he would build his church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. He also promised that she would be a beautiful bride, holy and blameless before him. He prophesied that the Holy Spirit would do greater things through the Church than he had done. I believe these promises, but as I look at the modern church, something seems to be drastically wrong.
Despite some flashes of brilliance, most of our experience falls far short of what Jesus accomplished by his death, resurrection and ascension. The gates of hell are doing quite well and the Kingdom of God seems to be retreating. We are ignored by the world, left sitting in our churches crying out for revival.
The Holy Spirit has not lost his power and Jesus has not withdrawn his promises, so the problem must be at our end. I can only conclude that our Father is unwilling to entrust the fullness of his Spirit to our wineskins (Luke 5:36-39). Modern church structures cannot cope with the blessings that God wants to pour upon us.
Desperate situations call for radical change. More of the same will not get us to where we want to be. If we want the new wine of the Holy Spirit, we must shape our wineskins according to the plan revealed by God (Ex 25:40).
Preparing for Victory
We are living at a pivotal time in history. While things are going badly for the church, the situation is even worse in the world. You don't have to be a prophet to see the dark clouds on the horizon. The kingdom of man has over-reached itself and is rotting from the inside.
Christians should not be pessimistic about the future. God is in control and is working out his purpose. He is refining his church into a holy and beautiful bride. He is shaking the nations, so his people can establish the Kingdom. We can share in that victory, if we understand his plans and get ready for battle.
The shaking of world system will be a great opportunity for the church. In times of crisis, power flows to those who understand what is happening and are ready for action. Joseph understood what God was doing, so he was able to use the seven good years to prepare for the seven bad years. He rose to power during a crisis, because he understood what was happening and knew what had to be done.
The times are urgent. We should be using our time to prepare for the political, economic and social upheaval that is coming. We should be joining together, so we can advance God's Kingdom when the kingdoms of the world collapse and fall. Radical change is needed, so we can shine brightly in the darkness and share in the victory that God has planned.
I have focussed on some key changes needed to revitalise the body of Christ, but none will work in isolation. They a complete package and most will only be effective when used together. This book outlines a pattern for the body of Christ, but each Church will have to flesh that pattern out with a vision that fits their calling and situation.