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July 13, 2013

The triumphant church in troubled times

The Daily Star

---- — “Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 2:14 NIV).  In today’s vernacular: “In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads us from place to place in one perpetual victory parade.” (TMB).

Acts records a thrilling record of the Church’s birth, growth, challenges and victories. Though the Church suffered persecution and martyrdom, she marched on as a mighty army. One enemy of the Church was Saul, but he was conquered by the grace of God and became a great preacher. Acts is filled with the theme of a triumphant Church. May Christ’s Church let the message and record of Acts challenge her today. 

In such a time as we live with many evil forces coming against God’s people, it’s not time to soften the gospel message or be intimidated by hateful forces desiring to silence the Church. Taking a whirlwind tour of the triumphant Church, we’re reminded the gates of hell shall not prevail against Christ’s Church. God’s people are called to put on the full armor of God and take a stand against Satan and wicked spiritual forces of evil. 

The Church is to exercise that faith, which is the victory that overcomes the world, and be more than conquerors through Jesus who loves us. The Church is to be preparing herself as the bride of Christ to soon meet the Lord in the air and who meanwhile fearlessly makes known the gospel message in demonstration of the Holy Spirit’s power. 

The Church is not about being a social club or a place to show off your latest duds or hang out with your favorite clique or rise to powerful positions. The Church’s reason for being is to evangelize, worship and disciple others as well as be a compassionate body of believers desiring to live the Christ-like life. Jesus knows carrying out the great commission to go into all the world and preach the gospel depends on God’s power. That power is available for believers when the Holy Spirit comes on them.

Throughout Acts, Christ is central. Acts tells us salvation is found only in Jesus. The world will come against Christ, the gospel and the Church. Sadly the Church is sometimes challenged from within it’s own ranks. There are false prophets behind pulpits in some churches who compromise God’s word and cave in to the pressures of a sinful world that wants the Church to make the gospel more palatable to their liking. It’s a world that’s determined to force Christ’s Church to accept evil behavior, be it sexually immoral lifestyles or any number of other sins. 

Much of the world rejects the idea of sin and the need of repentance. But God has not changed. Sin is still sin. Though a nation may be determined to reject God and His standards, God doesn’t change his mind about what’s good and right. We live in a day when evil is now called good and good is called evil (Isaiah 5:20); when some in the liberal media, Hollywood and political arena think it’s progress as the principles of our Founding Fathers are forsaken and godly standards are tossed out. They twist the constitution or the Bible to fit what they want it to say. The time is at hand. Prophetic warnings of such times are now upon us.

So how can the Church remain triumphant in such times? Be filled with the Holy Spirit and speak God’s word boldly and unapologetically. Continue testifying to Jesus’ resurrection. Love one-another. Be one in heart and mind, praying without ceasing. 

Acts 4:31 says, “After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken.” It’s time for God’s people to pray and believe God to once again shake this nation for Christ. 

May we be a triumphant Church in these days of evil.

The Rev. Jim Wheeler Sr. is an Assemblies of God Evangelist who lives in Oneonta.