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ImageThe Most Amazing Church on Earth

Have you ever wondered why there are so many denominations?

 Sometimes people may have pointed to all the different denominations or parts of Christianity and used this fact as an example of the lack of credibility of the Christian faith.

 But today you will see Gods’ unfolding plan to impact the whole earth with His Church.

 It is no surprise to God that so many denominations exist or that the church is so varied and often in disagreement with one another.

God’s plan for the church is coming to fruition. His purpose is to maximise the number of people who will become part of His eternal Kingdom.

 The purpose of these messages about the most amazing church on earth is for you to see the big picture of what you are part of. To see the work of God on a world wide scale and choose to participate in His wonderful purpose and plan.

 Jesus said, “I will build My church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18) Sounds like the church is a formidable, powerful, enduring and overcoming force in the earth.

 Is that how you see the church? Or do you see it as the secular media presents it…. As the irrelevant, powerless, bigoted, self destroying organisation that can never agree with itself and only makes life hard for people.

 He who pays the piper calls the tune.

 What the media never report is the world changing revivals of Christianity that are sweeping the world right now where we see for example…

  • In Sub SaharanAfrica– over 50% of the population are Born again Christians
  • Christianity has been estimated to be growing rapidly in South America, Africa, andAsia. In Africa, for instance, in 1900, there were only 8.7 million adherents of Christianity; now there are 390 million, and it is expected by 2025 there will be 600 million Christians inAfrica. 
  • The US Department of State estimates that Protestant Christianity may have grown 600% over the last decade in Vietnam
  • The Christian population of the Kandhamal district in Orissa was 117,950 in 2001, an increase from 75,597 in 1991, or a 66% growth, higher than the overall population at 18.6%. 42,353 converted to Christianity between 1991 and 2001, and two of them converted back to Hinduism
  • From the period between 2000 and 2005, Pentecostalism experienced a global growth rate of 488% expanding from 115 million to 588.5 million[12] global adherents. This classes Pentecostalism as the fastest growing religion world wide.

 Why doesn’t the media report about strong Christian movements? Because they are secular and this is about world domination.

 So why is the church so diverse?

 Of those who claim to be Christians the various groups there are thousands of different groups and denominations however the main groups are:

Denomination             Date of commencement

Catholic                             350AD

Orthodox                           370AD

Lutheran                            1516

Reformed/Presbyterian        1535

Baptist                               1550

Anglican                             1570

Methodist/Evangelical          1725

Salvation Army                   1865

Pentecostal                         1908

Charismatic                         1945

 The following groups sometimes thought of as Christian denominations, should be viewed as cults an should be avoided because they do not adhere to the bible as their only source of revelation;

 Mormons

Jehovah’s Witnesses

Christian Science

 A study of Church history from a point of view of revelation gives us a great perspective into God’s plan for His church.

 The beginnings

The church began in a blast of revival, the whole of the then known world was impacted by Christianity in the first 3 centuries after the crucifixion.

The church was strong in faith and true to the doctrines of the apostles at the start.

The fruit was

  • Massive numbers of conversions
  • Accompanied by signs and wonders and healings.
  • City changing and nation changing impact

 Gradually, as the apostles died out, different doctrines began to creep into the church. And as the church became more influenced by philosophies of men the results were less converts, and a dying out of signs and wonders and healing.

 In the year 313 Roman Emperor Constantine the Great had a vision of the cross and believed that God had shown him that the religion of the empire was to be Christianity. The persecution of the church byRomeceased and people were converted by the edge of the sword instead of a heart change. This created the beginning of the dark ages where the church became enmeshed with government and more of a political force than life changing force.

 The Catholic Church has its beginnings at this time and the orthodox churches grew up beside the Catholic Church until the eleventh century when they formally split.

 Through the period 300AD to 1500 AD the church was far from the power and effectiveness of the early church. It was full of ungodly behaviour, idolatry and heresy.

 But God’s plans were about to unfold.

 In 1516 Martin Luther a Catholic Priest wrote his 95 points thesis and nailed it onto the door of the cathedral where he lived in Wittenberg in Germany. Luther taught that salvation is not earned by good deeds but received only as a free gift of God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ as redeemer from sin. His theology challenged the authority of the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church by teaching that the Bible is the only source of divinely revealed knowledge. Those who identify with Luther’s teachings are called Lutherans

This was the restoration of revelation that Jesus spoke to Peter the apostle that upon this rock (His confession that Jesus was the Christ) Jesus would build his church. The true church, the most amazing church on earth is not built on good works or trying to please God, but it is built on faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and what He accomplished on the Cross.

The next big step of revelation was the Anabaptists who began to teach that people who professed faith in Jesus Christ must be baptised in water. This was an evidence of a changed life and not a ritual for babies. Through he 1500’s these Anabaptists were persecuted by the Lutherans and others who did not believe this strange new doctrine. The Baptist denomination and others can trace their roots to this movement.

 It was almost universal that each move of God would be rejected by the past move of God. People cling so tightly to hard won victories against unrighteousness and heresy that when the next step to freedom takes place they are too suspicious of it.

 As the move of God went on John Wesley came along and his life showed the truths of salvation through faith in God, but also preached sanctification. This was the belief that when someone comes to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ then they will experience change in their life and put away sin. Sanctification means being separated. John Wesley also brought the church to a stand of evangelical fervour. He was the first to preach to thousands in the outdoors with as many as 20,000 people attending his sermons and many professing a faith in Christ after his message.

 This evangelicalism was a restoration of the revelation of the command of Jesus to go into all the world and to preach the gospel to every creature. John Wesley was also to champion the use of small groups meeting from house to house to build a church to which eventually one third ofEnglandbelonged. This great move of God spawned the Methodist church and all its offshoots that is still a string force in the earth today. During this period the work of missionaries began with William Carey going toIndia.

 In the late 1800’s God raised up William Booth an Anglican priest who was thrown out of the Anglican Church for bringing in lost and derelict people into church. Booth started the Salvation Army who saw incredible results of salvation and changed lives. The majority of their converts in the early years were straight out of jail, or ex prostitutes and the poor who found life in Christ. Booth opened up the church to all men not just the educated or the rich. He made it a church for all men.  This passion for social justice still exists today in the Salvation Army however their passion to win souls to Christ has been watered down to a large extent.

 In the early 1900’s the next major revelation to hit the church was healing. Famous Men of God such as John G Lake, AB Simpson, Smith Wigglesworth, brought back to the church the revelation that Jesus not only died for our sins but also he carried our sicknesses on the cross. There are two parts to the Lord’s Supper – The Wine and the Bread. The wine speaks of His blood to atone for our sin and the Bread speaks of His body broken for us to we could be made whole.

 Early in the 1900’s also the Pentecostal Movement began.

This was a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit and restored the baptism of the Holy Spirit which has been almost unknown for the whole of Church history since the early church in the book of acts.

 This movement believed in salvation through faith water baptism of believers and sanctification and reach out to all the world, but now added that only though the power of the Holy Spirit was this made possible. One of the evidences that believers had been filled with the Holy Spirit was their ability to speak in other tongues.

 This movement created the Assembly of God denomination known in Australias the ACC Australian Christian Churches, as well as a host of other Pentecostal denominations.

 In 1960 there was another outpouring of Gods spirit in the Charismatic movement – this was a restoration of praise and worship in a biblical manner with singing, shouting, clapping hands and the song of the spirit – that is, singing in tongues. This move of God also restored the gifts of the Holy Spirit to ordinary believers not just trained clergy. The gifts of healing, miracles, prophecy, speaking in tongues, faith, discerning of evil spirits were all given prominence.  This movement took place within many existing denominations but of course was not universally accepted by all.

 Over the last 50 years since then we have seen the church world wide experience fresh new outpourings of God’s spirit in restoring such distinctives as:

  • The rise and prominence of the prophet to guide and correct the church
  • The rise of the apostolic ministry to influence regions or even nations through strong leadership and church planting.
  • The rise of Church planting organizations.
  • And now the rise again of the community impacting church that does great deal of work in impacting local communities with the gospel through social justice and demographic evangelism.

 What lies ahead for the church? The last days church will be greater in power and effectiveness that the early church. I will speak about this last days church on Sunday in two weeks.

 What lessons can we learn from church history?

  1. God is always moving. He is speaking to who ever will listen
  2. We must remain open and reachable to hear what God is saying in present day truth. For may have been left behind in a dead denomination that failed to embrace change and fresh revelation.
  3. The plan God has is to restore the church to all its former glory as in the book of Acts and more
  4. The church is the bride of Christ and is being washed by the water of the word so that she will become a bride without any spot or wrinkle.

 Are you open, hungry, teachable?

Are you dedicated to the plan God has for the church? To bring the gospel to every nation and the end will come?

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