Renewal Ministries International
A Glorious Church
The church of Jesus Christ was very young when Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus. “Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word.” Paul then wrote down five characteristics of the church that the Lord would one day present to Himself (Eph 5:25-27).
A glorious church; recognized, honoured, honourable, distinguished.
Without spot and stains on her character.
Without wrinkle, evidence of age or decay in her appearance.
Holy, sacred, to be held in awe by others.
Without blemish, blame or shame, with no stain on her character, bearing no disgrace.
When Paul wrote these words, the Lord’s church, His ekklesia, the assembly of called out ones, was around thirty years old. At time she fulfilled each of these five characteristics. She was recognized, honoured and distinguished. She was without spot or wrinkle, sacred to the Lord, held in awe by many people, and without anything that would stain her character.
The centuries have changed everything. She no longer fulfills these five distinguishing characteristics. She is not recognized by the world, and even by many of her own kind for her spiritual reality and power and as honourable and distinguished, She has acquired more moral stains on her character than one can count, and the years have left her bearing all the wrinkled marks of her age and no one any longer holds her in awe.
Yet the promise Paul recorded still holds. He will present His church to Himself as a glorious church and those unfortunate elements of her character and appearance will be gone.
We know from the scriptures when He will present His church to Himself; when every member of His church will be caught up to meet Him in the air (1 Thess. 4:13-17). I do not believe that, at that future time, He will present His church to Himself in her present state. How could He? She is a mess.
In these intervening years before He calls His church to Himself, His church will face the challenge of her own renewal. From being unrecognized and undistinguished, morally stained and wrinkled and no longer held in reverence and awe, she will be recognized, distinguished, honourable and honoured, morally pure, as a young bride with no signs of age, and held in awe by a great many people.
I believe that the furnace the church will pass through when she will regain her glory , is the furnace of renewal of the church and the revival of the faith of her members. The Lord needs to have a church that He can be proud of; a glorious church He can present to Himself, a young bride eagerly waiting the return of her Beloved Lord. This is the basis of the case for renewal, but we need to explore what has been lost during the centuries which will be restored in the coming world revival. Seven elements of church life and witness were present in the early years of the church, but which, over the centuries have been lost.
The active Headship of Christ, His personal presence, and His control and direction of each local assembly (Col. 1:18).
The presence and activity of the Holy Spirit comfortably at home and active in His own temple, which is the cleansed heart of each one who believes (1 Cor. 6;19).
Love that unites each member of His church with the One who is love, and with each member of the household of God (John 15:9).
The unity of ALL members in each local body, thus overturning the unnecessary division of the body into clergy and laity (1 Cor. 12:25).
The active involvement of all members of a local assembly in the life and activities of that assembly (1 Cor. 14:26).
The separation of the church from the deceits, principles and institutions of the world (Rom. 12:2).
The continuing obedience to the Lord’s commands to proclaim the gospel and make disciples (Mark 16:15 Matt. 28:19).
In the first century the presence of these seven elements in each local assembly contributed to the reputation of churches such as the church at Thessalonika. “For from you [the church at Thessalonika] the word of the lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place” (1 Thess. 1:8).
The passage of time has seen the progressive failure of the church to maintain these taxing standards. And we have a record of that failure. Beginning with the Lord’s letter to the church at Ephesus and in each of the seven letters we find each one of these seven standards slipping away. The first to go was love from the church at Ephesus, then the Spirit who pours out God’s love into the hearts of those who believe, the division of each united church into two opposing and mutually exclusive fragments, the clergy and laity, and ending with the letter to the church at laodicea with the Lord having to knock on the door of each church so that He might be admitted.
Today we are in the age we might correctly call, the Laodicean church age when so many desperately echo David’s cry. “How long O Lord? Will you forget [us] forever? How long will You hide Your face from [us]” Ps. 13:1)? There are so many who have prophesied that a great final revival will sweep the world. And that revival will result in the church being returned to her former glory. She will then become a glorious church fit for the coming marriage to the Lord of our faith, to the One the Lord called the Bridegroom (Luke 5:34).
I believe that the coming revival will divide the church. The confessing church will be caught up to meet the Lord in the air. The man of sin will then be revealed, he and the false prophet will take charge of the professing church, and they will plunge the nations of the world into judgement and pain that will be beyond belief.
The professing church that has been left behind, will become increasingly apostate, will make a compact with the world’s governing powers, and will finally be destroyed around the middle of the seven years of tribulation.
There are three questions that churches today need to ask.
How will the Lord renew His church and revive the faith of those who believe? and what part must we play in that renewal and revival?
What are the obstacles to revival and renewal in the church that have to be overcome, and how are we to overcome them?
What are the guidelines for renewal of the church and the revival of our faith that each church can apply as we seek to be part of the coming great and final revival?
This narrative is directed to churches, denominations, Christian organisations and movements round the world with the invitation to examine the church and see it as she truly appears. Then two things follow. Our first response: Urgently pray for the Lord to renew His church and revive the faith of His children. Our second response: Ask the Lord to tell all of us the part He wants each of us to play, separately and together, in the coming revival that will sweep the world.
Bishop Brian Byrne
Bishop Brian Byrne is the Director of Renewal Ministries International. This ministry has two main aims; to renew the church, and to revive the faith of Christians everywhere according to strict Biblical standards. Bishop Brian invites churches, Bible colleges, universities and Christian institutions round the world to participate in four courses that cover more than a year's study; The Saint, The Assembly, The Adversaries, and The Future.
He can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org.