To Tell the Truth was a television panel game show that first aired in 1956. The premise of the show was for a panel of four celebrities to correctly identify a described contestant, who had an unusual occupation or experience. This central character was accompanied by two impostors who pretended to be the central character. After questioning which of the three contestants were telling the truth, the host would ask, “Will the real (person’s name) please stand up?”
Will the ‘real’ church of Jesus please stand up?
Where is the ‘real’ church, the church of the Bible, the church that Jesus called to be the church in the New Testament?
There are an estimated 37 million churches in the world with 50,000 new ones added every year and no two are the same. In fact, 1/3 of the world’s population are Christ followers and it is growing exponentially too. These figures do not count the millions of underground and house churches where it’s dangerous to profess your faith publicly.
World Christian Encyclopedia by Barrett, Kurian, Johnson (Oxford Univ Press, 2nd edition, 2001) refer to 33000+ total “Christian” denominations, but define the word “denomination” as an organized Christian group within a specific country.
What is the Church?
The church is not actually a building but is composed of a body of believers, called the Body of Christ.
In the Gospels we read where Jesus calls His disciples to come and follow Him. These ordinary men followed Jesus and watched Him heal the sick, raise the dead and cast out demons. He even spoke to a storm one time and told it to, be still, and immediately the Bible says there was a great calm.
There’s another incident where Jesus and His 12 disciples were walking along one day and Jesus was hungry. He saw a fig tree. He went to get some figs, but there were none on it. He cursed the fig tree and it died.
After Jesus’ resurrection and just before He ascended back to Heaven, He gave marching orders to His little body of Believers.
“And Jesus came and spake unto them saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” Matthew 28:18-20 KJV
He gave the church a job to do and He gave them the power to do it on the Day of Pentecost when He sent the Holy Ghost.
“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:1-4
After the infilling of the Holy Ghost, the early church was set ablaze with the fire of God from Heaven. They picked up where Jesus left off and that was exactly what they were called, chosen, ordained and sent to do. They literally turned their known world upside down preaching the Gospel. We can read about all the amazing things they did in The Acts Of The Apostles. It’s called The Acts, because they acted. They did exactly what Jesus told them to do in Matthew’s Gospel. But something has happened to the church along the way. The church has lost it’s message, it’s meaning and it’s power.
What has happened to the church?
In my opinion, the church as a whole, is not preaching the true Gospel. The true Gospel is the real Gospel.
What is the real Gospel?
The Greek word from which the English word “Gospel” was translated from literally means, “a good message, or good news.” It really means more than just “good news”. It’s more like “nearly-too-good-to-be-true news.” This perfectly describes what Jesus did for us on Calvary.
Most Christians today think the word “Gospel” is just a word that identifies religious things. They think preaching the wrath of God and a dooms day message is the Gospel, but it’s not. It’s true there is coming a Judgment Day, when those who haven’t accepted Jesus’ sacrifice will be turned into hell, but that’s not “good news.” It’s certainly not “nearly-too-good-to-be-true news.”
Putting any stipulations on what we have to do to obtain God’s free gift of salvation denies grace, and, therefore, is not the Gospel
We can’t earn salvation. We can’t do enough good works to acquire it.
The Apostle Paul defined it this way, “the gospel…is the power of God unto salvation.”
The power that we need to get saved and all of the benefits of salvation, Jesus provided for us in the atonement, and that is the Gospel.
The church has not heard the ‘real’ Gospel. The church has heard get saved to avoid hell, they’ve heard man made doctrines and traditions, but not the ‘real’ Gospel.
I’m about to say something that will knock most Christians off their feet.
Sin will not send you to hell. I repeat. Sin will not send you to hell.
The only thing that will send a person to hell is rejecting God’s Son and His supreme sacrifice on Calvary. We must be “born again” as Jesus told Nicodemus.
What are the conditions for Salvation?
To obtain God’s free gift of salvation, we confess with our mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead. That’s it. That’s how you are saved.
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:9,10 KJV
Notice it doesn’t say anything about confessing your sins. It says to confess the Lord Jesus. Your sins will not send you to hell. It’s refusing to accept Jesus Christ that will send you to hell, but of course, when you accept Him your desire to sin will be gone. You will want to please Him and sin does not please God. Sin separates us from God. That’s why Jesus came and died for our sins. He died to reconcile us back to God. We were broken in the fall of Adam. Adam sinned and because of him sin came on the whole human race. The second Adam, which was Jesus, came to restore us back to our rightful relationship with God, our heavenly Father.
The Apostle Paul’s prayer for the Church
The church was organized by Jesus while here on earth with a handful of raggedy men, who were transformed on the Day of Pentecost. The church was God’s idea, His plan and the church is very needful. The church is to tell the Good News of the Gospel.
The church of our day is lacking in many areas. It is a mere shadow of the early church after Pentecost. I’ve made a list of some areas where I think the church is lacking or missing it today.
- Misunderstanding of the ‘real’ or true Gospel
- Misunderstanding of the conditions for Salvation
- Misunderstanding of the benefits of Salvation
- Misunderstanding of the church’s commission as given by Jesus
- Lack of power
- Lack of a real love for God and therefore, true love for His people
In Ephesians 3:14-21, Paul prayed for the church. I’m not going to write it here, but I encourage you to read it.
I’ll break it down to basically two things Paul prayed.
- That the church be filled with power
- That the church be filled with love
The church of today needs the power of the Holy Ghost and the love of Jesus to carry out Christ’s Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20.
The early church was effective because they were strong in these two areas.
You might say there are many churches who are impostors today. They claim to be the church, but are lacking in love and power.
We need to pray for our churches and Pastors to be the church of the Bible. We must look to Jesus as our example. He is the head of the church and we are His body. We must strive to be like Him.
Christ will have a victorious church! Not only did Paul pray for the church, Jesus, the head of the church did too in John the 17th chapter. God will answer His Son’s prayer.
My question is: Will the ‘real’ church please stand up?
What are your thoughts? How do you see the church today? Please share if you would like to add anything.