Only two millennia have passed since the church of Jesus Christ was born. In light of eternity this is but a very short time.
The early church thrived amid much persecution for almost three hundred years. The power from On High sustained them as they proclaimed their faith in Jesus the Son of God, knowing that often it would mean torture and even death. Others who were not strong in faith would yield to the demands of their persecutors to make sacrifices to their gods. They denied the faith in order to escape persecution, and through persecution the church was purified. The unwavering faith of those who were tortured and killed served only to draw others to this Christ, for whom they were willing to die.
During the reigns of various emperors the church experienced periods of religious freedom. But then the enemies of the Gospel would impose restrictions, and once again the Christians suffered persecution. The church survived in its earliest days, though only a remnant due to wave after wave of persecution.
In the Western world, what has come to be known as "the church" today is a far cry from the true church who met in secret for fear of their lives. The church now often meets in grand buildings with labels bearing the Name of Christ, but they are nothing like the church of the first centuries. Much of what began as a living organism has ceased to be the living Body of Jesus Christ. Rather than the Life of God dwelling in His people, His people go to church to meet God. He has been relegated to buildings, occasionally called "temples," when His desire is for His people to BE His temple. Now some people, believing they are a part of the Body of Christ, think all religious activity must take place within the confines of their denominational, well-structured church programs. There are organized programs for everything, so that man is kept busy serving God within the church
For the better part of two centuries, there has been an acceleration of what Paul the Apostle called a "falling away." It has not come with blazing headlines warning, "The Lord is returning! Prepare to meet Him!" Many have warned of His soon return, yet all the while an insidious thing has taken place. The deception of all deceptions has crept in, and the church has been totally blind to it and blinded by it! The magnitude of its effect is catastrophic and the Father's heart is broken.
God's desire is to purify His Son's Bride. He has pleaded repeatedly with those who call themselves "The Body of Christ." Revival fires have broken out in many places at various times in the last two centuries. God has raised up men and women like Andrew Murray, Susanna Wesley, Charles Finney, Oswald Chambers, and countless others who have proclaimed the Gospel of Jesus Christ with great passion. Why, then, is the church in such a state of apostasy? Why is the Bride of Christ so polluted in rebellion and unfaithfulness? Why does she not hear the voice of the Holy Spirit, calling her to make herself ready? How can she believe she IS ready? And who will make up the remnant of which Paul the Apostle spoke?1
The answers to all the above questions can be found within these pages--starting with how it all began and following the progression of one simple overlooked truth until the last chapter where we see the final triumph of the true church of Jesus Christ.
Matthew recorded Jesus' words, telling us that not everyone who says to Him, "Lord, Lord," will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, except for those who do the will of His Father. He said that in that day many will call Him "Lord," reminding Him of all the things they have done in His Name. With very sobering words, He foretells His response: "I never knew you; depart from Me!"2
Jesus was speaking of the MANY who believe they are Christians. They believe they are right with God, and they are serving Him. They impress a lot of people, but is Jesus impressed? His answer says it all: "I never knew you." He is looking for a Bride, not a housekeeper. He wants a relationship, not service from men's hands. He wants Marys who will sit at His feet to learn of Him, rather than the Marthas who want only to do for Him.3
We cannot and must not ignore the words of the Master! We cannot fool ourselves, thinking He was referring to the other guy! We must examine ourselves and bow in humble surrender, allowing His Spirit to search our hearts and purge us of every spot and every wrinkle. The Lord is patient and longsuffering, "not desiring that any should perish, but that all should turn to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9b Amplified).
There is a solemn word through which the Lord spoke to me: "But if the watchman sees the sword coming, and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any of them, he is taken away in and for his perversity and iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman's hand." (Ezekiel 33:6 Amplified).
1. Romans 9:27, 11:4-5
2. Matthew 7:21-23a NKJV
3. Luke 10:38-42