When I sent that question out to those on our mailing list I received over 117 responses. It was designed to challenge our thinking and perhaps even be a wake-up call, as I pray this article will be as well!
Here are a few more questions we all need to ruminate over.
Does Jesus need to belong to a church?
Doesn't the church really belong to Him?
Isn't the church really just an extension of Himself?
Isn't Christ the church? "For upon this rock I will build my
church" Matthew 16:18
Aren't we all united as, "One body in Christ"? Romans 12:5
Aren't we only, "Complete in Him" Colossians 2:10
Don't real Christians only, "live and move and have their being
in Him" Acts 17:28
In heaven what constitutes the church?
On other planets what constitutes the church?
Are they Adventist, Baptists, Catholic, Evangelical, or one of
the other 45,000 recorded denominations?
That's right, 45,000 distinct denominations???
How does that answer Christ's final prayer in John 17 that we
would all, "Be one as He and His Father are one."
On our planet what really constitutes the church?
I suggest that the answer to all these questions is quite simple. It is all those who are, "IN CHRIST, UNDER GOD'S WORD, and FILLED with the HOLY SPIRIT!
Lucifer refused this at-one-moment and infilling and then became the antichrist. He established his own church, the body of those who choose to be, "In Charge."
So which Church Do You Belong to?
Are You under God and His Word?
Are You In Christ?
Are You Imbued with the Holy Spirit from on High? Or are you only into your church culture, your denomination, your liturgy, and your church lifestyle? Perhaps all of these have become your religion? If so, your religion isn't quite enough and you are perhaps only on first or second base and you need to get to home plate.
Hebrews Chapter 11 is an astonishing chapter. It lays out for us those who were found in the church of the 7,000. There was Abraham who slept with his handmade. Jacob who was a deceiver. Moses a murderer, Rahab a prostitute, Samson a womanizer, and David a murderer, adulterer and concealer. All were in the hall of faith - why? They all changed In Christ, finding the power to overcome the flesh, choosing and surrendering for Him to be the One In Charge not themselves.
Then you can add to that men such as Wycliff a Catholic, who is considered the morning star of the Reformation. Luther who was considered the instrument in advancing Protestantism. Wesley the founder of the Methodist revival, as well as many others. All were part of the church of the 7,000. Why? Because they all came to be found, "In Christ." "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:26
This should be the connecting link for all. Unfortunately our distinctiveness's have become a badge that we wear differentiating ourselves as superior to others. We allow our distinctiveness's to become fences, cross fences and barriers while missing a God- centeredness In Christ. We marginalize others while we are ourselves marginalized away from a daily baptism in Christ.
I know scores and scores of professed Christians that have been baptized into a church and its culture but have not practically and daily put on Christ as their daily life and companion to do His will.
So were you baptized into Christ today and have you put on Christ as your daily life? Or do you have on substitute clothing? "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male or female, for you are all one In Christ Jesus." Romans 3:26
God's true family is made up of tax collectors, a Roman soldier, a Samaritan woman, a Nicodemus and the sons of thunder. Are you one of them? Transformed?
God's true family is made up of all of those who have surrendered all to Him. All those who are allowing Jesus to live in them in the present, are you one of them? Are you one of those who have not only accepted what Christ has done for you but are allowing Christ to live in you and work through you. These are the church of the 7,000.
They have discovered that there is no safety or security outside of Christ in them and they in Christ. They no longer rely on their church affiliation, neither their distinctiveness nor their lifestyles as their security - only God and God alone.
The hardest task of my life has been to peel away the layers of nominal Christianity and ordinary religion in order to uncover the unadulterated gospel - which is the power of Jesus Christ living in and through me. Enabling me to live above the flesh and the world.
Others of all faiths are finding this as well. I called them the church of the 7,000 who by the grace of Jesus Christ, are not bowing their knee to the image of Baal. This scattered flock "Hear His voice and follow Him." John 10:27 "They worship the Father in spirit and truth." John 4:23 They don't just know their Bibles - they are also so sensitive to the Spirit that the lightest whisper of Jesus moves their souls.
Is that you? That was Jesus!
But Jim, what about my distinctive beliefs?
It's great to own and share your distinctiveness. However, your distinctiveness should never replace or become a substitute for a God centered life!
Let us all make sure we are distinctively in Christ every day all day long!
Do you receive Jesus and let Him in to subdue your irritation and anger? Does His will Rule over your appetites and lusts, over your pride and jealousy and over your backsliding and church politicking?
"But as many as received Him to them gave He power to become the sons of God." John 1:12 The 7,000 have power! Power to not bow the knee to Baal! Power to live above nominal Christianity and ordinary religion! Power to put their spouses first! Power to love the one instead of just hanging with the ninety and nine. The church of the 7,000 are, "One body and One Spirit: even as they are called in One hope of their calling. One Lord, One faith, One baptism; One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." Ephesians 4:4-6
Therefore my denomination is Christ, "The fullness of Him who fills all in all." Ephesians 1:23
Letting Him In,
Jim & Sally