Thursday, March 19, 2009

The prodigal church and our need to move forward.

The last few days I went through some books I had on the shelf to do some research.
I went through one in particular and ended up on some statements from a gentleman named Frank Bartleman.
He was writing about the great Azuza revival. In this book I came upon the following;
"Beloved, when we stop going forward, we go to milling around. When an individual stops going forward for God, he begins to go in a circle, just as a man when he is lost in the forest ceases to go straight forward but wanders in a circle. So it was wiht the early church. When they ceased to go forward, they started wandering in a circle and became so lost in the Dark Ages. The devil had found he could not destroy them or stop their march by persecuting and killing them; so he removed the cross, offering them titles, positions, honor, salaries, profits of every kind-and they fell for it."
This was written in the 20's. He later goes on to talk about how history repeats itself. And that it is that way with our great church bodies of today. (20's) And even for now if not worse.
He goes on to talk about how out of the dark ages the great ecclesiastical, Roman hierarchy came about to dominate both the world, politics and religion. He then says " And the same condition has developed out of every fallen movement. An illegitimate, hybrid monster. has come forth."
Then Luther came and tried to bring about the change of reform from the seed that was buried in the rubble of the dark ages.
Bartleman, states that through the labors of the reformers and others the prodigal church
has began the journey home.
He brings about a situation that is so true. In that each time a fresh deposit of the Spirit and truth brought forth by the reformers and others, has sooner or later stopped short of the full goal. Although in the process gaining much ground and experiencing tremendous blessings from God. Though again, each group that was changing ceased to go forward as the body and completely return to the early New Testament standard and reality.
Again as the church has climbed from the depths of some sectarian strangleholds, with various stages of formalism and spiritual darkness, only to find itself falling again, within only a generation at times, into sometimes an even worse state than before.
As this happened, each time though some new light and understanding of truth and God's ways have been given upon which the next group of people could build upon.
Then again as is the failure of men, not God's, each new group has only gone so far.
God's desire is to fully restore the church to her first estate and love, is as true with all who fall back.
When we cease to move forward and keep on the offensive for God, we stop and die as a people.
A movement is no longer a movement when it stops moving forward. No matter if it is the first revivals to what is happening now.
Bartleman again stated, 'it may continue to increase in numbers and in wealth, but that is not necessarily a sign of life and power with God. All anti-Christian movements can show that kind of growth."
No movement has ever recovered once it has gone to the skids.
"We don't have to leave movements, we simply move on with God."
The one movement that will never cease is God's plan to redeem a fallen world through His Son Jesus Christ. We must be working for the kingdom of God in all areas of our life.
He feels that the hinderance of a lot of the moves of God has been because we (people) have started to work for a pet project, organization, or movement. So in doing that it stops us short of the task at hand. Jesus Christ and Him crucified.
"We have worshipped certain doctrines, party standards, partial experiences, and such , all fine as far as they go, but abnormal in themselves and only part of the whole."
Most of these have been unbalanced, and overstatements of the truth at best. And they usually bring bondage instead of blessing.
He said later that every company ends up repeating the mistakes of the early church. "They compromise to escape the cross and accept positions, salaries, titles, and ecclesastical power."
There must be a readjustment to all of our doctrines to the fullness of God's word.
Frank Bartleman came out of the pentecostal move and even back then in the 20's and 30's he seen the problems facing the body. Man and tradition.
I just want to present this. We are not the first to see the problems that has a risen in the modern church, but we could be the last. If and I mean if we don't repeat the same mistakes.
We must not get ourselves side tracked into moving forward and then stopping short of what God is laying out in front of us.
If you are doing the work of God, don't compromise your beliefs just to earn a paycheck or recieve a donation for the ministry. No, keep moving forward as God is our provider.
We are going to hit some roadblocks, but how we handle those will determine how much our faith will grow in turn moving forward even more.
I can't sell what I see as truth for a morsel of bread and stew, just because I am hungry and want some nourishment. I won't do it.
Please keep moving forward and don't conform to what the culture thinks the church should look like. Because God is the same yesterday today and forever. He never changes! His ways never change. WE are the ones called to repent, NOT God!


Like a Mustard Seed said...

Steven, thank you for sharing this we really needed to hear this, you have no idea. Thank you, God.

I'm breathing's been a really trying month, so much growth and change and God just keeps encouraging us to keep walking and to just speaking His word & share Him and what He's done in us.

i think we hit a wall just these last couple of days. God's word and His truth, gets people defensive and combative..but this helped me remember the BIG picture.

Thanks for sharing and for being an encouragement Steven. Its been needed, you've spurred us on and your life continues to sharpen us.

God is good, and we're looking forward to walking along side you until we leave this world. ;)


Steven Owen said...

I am only doing as I feel I hear God. I feel in a rut recently and then the Lord put the "Fire in my bones" again.
We must continue moving onward in love and compassion for God and His people.
We are the voices crying in the wilderness. Repent!!
I also praise God for Daniel and you as the Lord has knitted us all together for His work.
Don't stop....and keep remembering who really has our back.

Like a Mustard Seed said...

Thanks so much for sharing this, like Heather said, we really needed to hear it...

For some time now, we've found ourselves sort of dissonant with this idea of being a part of some new "movement", it's always just felt a little short-sighted... There is really only one MOVEMENT, the movement of God, which began after Adam and Eve sinned, as has continued throughout all of history, and will conclude with Christ's return!

Anonymous said...


You hit the nail on the head with this statement,"There must be a readjustment to all of our doctrines to the fullness of God's word." I believe that when we stop readjusting our doctrines we fall prey to elitism and thus pride. I picture Phil. 3:14 and that constant press toward truth.

Lionel Woods said...

"I can't sell what I see as truth for a morsel......." I love that quote.

Anonymous said...

There are so many of us hat are feeling as you are, we are tired of the ever widening circle of Sunday parties in the name of church, I do believe that as we seek God with all of our collective hearts that suddenly the Spirit of God will come to His house as He did in the day of Andrew Murray and others, blessings