The Transforming Church (Part Ten)
by Tricia Tillin
- Summarising The Dangers
- A New Reformation
- Pastors Despised
- Bringing In The Kingdom
- Unity is Demanded
- Community rather than Individuals
- Marketing The Church
- Tracking and Monitoring
Perhaps the fundamental problem with the Cell-church and Church Growth movement is that it aims to "create a new wineskin" for the revival outpouring of today.
The leaders have long realised that denominational church structures could not be transformed sufficiently to contain a doctrine so alien to its historical message. They planned to transition all willing participants into new structures where they could be formed up into a army under discipline.
For example, we see the plan discussed at the "National Symposium on the Postdenominational Church" convened by C. Peter Wagner, and held May 20-23, 1996. This meeting was co-sponsored by the Office of Continuing Education in Ministry, Global Harvest Ministries, and the Prayer Track of AD 2000 and Beyond. There the decision to transition the Church into cells was firmed up in order to take the New Apostolic agenda to the public. The cells were to be organised by zip code and city districts and brought under the leadership of the postdenominational church and its pyramid structure hierarchy. Naturally, modern-day "apostles" are in charge!
Wagner is in many ways the kingpin of what is happening, both in the revival, the rise of new apostles and the changeover to cell churches. Go to his leadership site at www.wagnerleadership.org and you will not only see names of many cell-church leaders but those of other "prophets" and major names in the revival, all networking to promote their agenda, which is the "transformation" of the Church.
Much more could usefully be said about this one subject, which in a sense is the bedrock of it all, but the limitations of space mean that further information must be provided in the form of offsite links to the articles of other people, and the statements of the apostles themselves, including Wagner.
In an article on the New Apostolic Reformation that appeared in "Arise" magazine, the comment was made that:
"There is no doubt that the greatest change in the Church since the Protestant Reformation is taking place before our eyes. Not only is it affecting the way local churches are operating, but it is changing the paradigm of traditional denominational structures and giving birth to new interdenominational alliances. And it is all pointing us towards world harvest.
"The thing that attracted me to studying this was the incredible rate of growth among this segment of Christianity, and a lot of that growth is taking place among the younger generation," Wagner concludes. "This is a new wineskin that's going to appeal to them, and I think we are going to see a lot more people giving up traditional systems to embrace this more relational kind of organization [= cell churches]." [Arise article]
For more on Wagner's New Apostolic Reformation:
- Sandy Simpson's index to relevant articles on this subject
- Moriel Ministry article
- Books required for supplemental reading in C. Peter Wagner's course CG802/AM802 Growth Dynamics of New Apostolic Churches... "a one-page report form must be filled out for every book read (whether in whole or in part) and submitted along with the self-evaluation paper in order to receive credit." List includes Manifest Sons of God teachers Bill Hamon and Doug Fortune. [PDF download]
- The Facts on the Apostolic Reformation
- "The Church Map is Changing all over the World"
This move to cell churches is seen as THE single requirement for "fulfilling the Great Commission" and indeed for rearranging the Church into its (supposed) proper structure governed by apostles and prophets and the rest of the five-fold ministry.
Therefore, any who will not network with the apostles nor transition their churches towards cells come in for some strong language from the leadership. We are told that those who will not submit will die out, be judged by God, or be removed and lose their churches.
Prophecies undergird this movement, and time and again we read that the old "Saul-type" leadership must give way to the "David" and that traditional leadership must end. Local pastors and elders are under tremendous pressure to network their churches with the City Apostles and through them to the Global Church.
Resistance is Futile
David Hood, who has received "advanced cell training" under William Beckham and has been helping an Australian church in the transition process for five years says that religious people (as he calls them) are those who will resist the paradigm shift for longest and cause the most trouble in the transformation process.
He likens them to the Pharisees at the time of Jesus: "Jesus encountered such a reaction in His ministry on earth, and it is interesting to note through whom it came – the most religious people. It was the religious people who persecuted the apostles when they carried on Jesus’ ministry after He ascended, and it is likely that Satan will use those he has bound in tradition to resist you.... Jesus was uncompromising in His challenge of religion and tradition."
No, in fact Jesus was uncompromising in his challenge of FALSE TEACHING. He had come to liberate mankind with the truth; the Jews who opposed him were in fact bound to a religious ritual and legalism that had removed any trace of the truth from their thinking.
Now it is any who dare to resist the juggernaut that is pushing them towards a reorganised Global Church who are labelled "pharisees" and "religious". Traditional leadership is despised and small independent churches are supposed to shape up or ship out.
"When God has finished with his reformation, we will not be lawless, prideful, or independent. .... We will recognize leadership, be fitted into the body, and walk in covenant love". (Ron Wood "Leaving Organised Religion")
The aim of this entire movement and doctrine as I have said many times before, and everywhere on this site, is to bring about the supposed "kingdom of God" on earth, the millennial rule, but before and without the physical presence of the Lord Jesus. Having dealt with that doctrine in so many other places, I will keep my comments here brief.
The rule of God, and conversion (or compliance) of the nations, is a wonderful promise of God and something to which we can all look forward. The bible is full of the glories of the world transformed by King Jesus and wisely and fairly ruled by his chosen government on earth, Himself being the Lord and Head.
However, until quite recently these promises were rightly seen by evangelical Christians as coming to fulfillment AFTER the physical return of Jesus in the Second Coming. Until then, Jesus is not given the title "king" of earth, but is "Lord" of believers and Head of the Church only.
Now a different and alarmingly heretical doctrine has had a resurgence, being a mixture of Manifested Sons of God, sonship, Latter-Rain and post-millennialism, so that the return of Jesus is relegated to the dim recesses of post-history so that the Church on earth can become the "incarnated Christ" by means of an impartation of glory - the Glory Cloud ("shekinah").
"[in cells]...experiencing the activity of the Spirit as they become a true body for Christ, they are being immersed (baptizo) into a new structure. They are becoming hands and feet for the incarnate Christ to use in fulfilling His work on the earth." [Foundations - April 2001; "Man-made and Spirit-Made Cells" by Ralph Neighbour.]
As the Christ, these men who have received their transformed glorious resurrection bodies (opinions differ on this) will be invincible, all-knowing, powerfully anointed and enabled to rule over the Church. They are likened to Joseph who went before Israel into Egypt to prepare the way for the nation and like Joshua who led the people over the Jordan into the Promised Land.
This process in now beginning, they say, and in preparation for it everyone must come into obedience and be subject to divine authority, under the covering of the apostles. The only option is therefore the cell-church system which not only restructures the "wineskin" to adapt it for the New Order, but provides a handy vehicle both for discipling the members and for propagating the message.
Naturally, if you ask about these things, you will be fobbed off with some bible verses and idealistic rhetoric that makes the whole scheme sound marvellous, for the real meat is reserved for those trusted disciples who have undergone "transition" and passed "beyond the veil".
Dr. Peter Wagner says, "The church is Gods power plant to destroy the works of the evil one. It is now waking up to the most powerful weapon in its arsenalunity." (Breaking Strongholds in Your City, Regal Books, 1993)
It was Jesus who came "to destroy the works of the evil one" in fact, and we are simply here to proclaim that victory to any who will hear. But putting that aside, is unity really the most powerful weapon that the Church possesses? If so, pity the poor Church that for two thousand years has never possessed full visible unity!
Translated, this statement really means: without everyone under the same leadership, adhering to the same doctrine and singing off the same hymnsheet, the task of converting the world cannot take place. Independence is a threat to those who seek to rule.
Having authority over eachother is unbiblical
The apostles and prophets speak much about their "authority" but the bible nowhere talks of eldership "taking authority" over their flock or discipling members of the Body. In the word of God, those who have authority are God, angels and demons, and on earth kings and rulers, but at no point do believers have authority over one another.
As Christians, in Jesus, we are privileged to have authority over the devil and his works, and some material things, but never other Christians.It is only kings and governors who are set in authority over others - they "lord it over you" in a way expressly forbidden by God for the Church eldership.
But in cell-churches, authority is strictly enforced, one over another in a pyramid fashion. Churches are being reorganised into interlocking, networking cells and city churches, and all must all be united and under authority of apostles! "Unity affects authority. Elders in a united church in the city have spiritual authority. It affects the whole city when they pray. They sit at the gates of the city. Divided elders have diminished authority, or none at all. Disunity prevents effective corporate prayer". says Ron Wood, in "The Church in the City".
I doubt that Elijah's authority in prayer was diminished because he was alone. History records that many men and women, single-handed and without organised support from a recognised church, have made major impacts in missionary work and all other Christian endeavours. It has very often been the work of inspired individuals (often opposed by all they knew) that made the biggest breakthroughs in the history of the Church!
Division does not affect spiritual authority, especially not if the division has been because of doctrinal error. In that case, withdrawing from error (as God commands) can actually intensify our authority by purifying doctrine and bringing us closer to God. One man or woman truly following and serving God can achieve more for the kingdom than thousands who are mere robots to a dogma!
Unity is only of value if the united belief is that of the true gospel. Unity in any other kind of teaching would be fatal to the Church - whereas independence allows for dissent and disagreement and the examination of teachings so that anything erroneous can be rooted out.
Nonetheless, unity is the cry today. We are told over and over that without unity the task "cannot be completed". Without one united voice, heart and purpose, we cannot bring the "christ spirit" down to take over the Church. This teaching has much more to do with New-Age "critical mass" and the Global Brain than the bible!!
The idea of "the community" is another danger-sign in the cell-church model. Personal and individual salvation, while acknowledged, cannot be completed and fulfilled, according to Ralph Neighbour, unless performed in community.
A "common-unity" or community in New Age terms is all about people subsuming their personal and individual selves for the "good of the whole" and creating large (and eventually global) entities that think and move as one, relegating individuals to cogs in a huge wheel, robotic living parts of a massive machine.
Naturally such machines do not function without orders, and those orders have to come from the "head". The ideal community for such a purpose is one where there is no personal thought and belief, but all are submitted (mindless) and unthinkingly do as they are told.
The concepts of a religious "community" and its task in setting up the kingdom on earth; its role as the earthly expression of the incarnate Christ; these ideas are not so far from the New Age ones as some like to think.
"The group forming the cell group must undergo significant value changes....We are all aware that salvation from the penalty of sin is the result of the finished work of Christ on the Cross. The return of Christ will also bring salvation from the presence of sin. But becoming free from the power of sin requires the work of Christ actively working in the group.... [Foundations - April 2001; "Man-made and Spirit-Made Cells" by Ralph Neighbour.]
The concepts of birthing a corporate "christ-body" on the earth, and becoming merely working cells in that community, is very akin to the Manifested Sons of God idea of the coming spiritual "corporate christ" which is to rule over the nations. The House of God takes on a meaning far beyond the Christian one when it becomes more than the sum of its parts.
Individual Christians should have the freedom to rebel against all they know to be ungodly, abusive and unbiblical. Yet in cells their personal freedom of thought and action is dissolved into the good of the community.
The need to attract huge numbers of people has led to a change in methodology. Now the tools of the secular marketplace are being used to soft-sell the Church. I have dealt with this elsewhere in the series. For further information, please read the article "Niche Marketing, Audience-Driven, Full Service Churches: How We Got Here?" By Orrel Steinkamp, The Plumbline, Volume 8, No. 1.
Of equal concern is the soft-pedalling on sin and the attempt to produce a Church that is comfortable and easy-going, offending no one. The examination and teaching of doctrine is in some cases expressly forbidden "because it divides" while sins ("mistakes") are glossed over and "love" emphasised above all.
This extract from a membership course for a G12 cell group illustrates the point:
School of leader, course #12, level 2 "Principles for a dynamic & successful cell."
4. No discussion on doctrines. They are divisive. (Romans 14:1 1 Timothy 6:20-21) We are here to build lives on the Word. Do not be afraid of saying that you do not permit conversations on doctrinal issues.
5. Do not say anything about someone's mistake. Don't permit negative comments. (Luk 6:37)
7. Lead in love. This is what we need the most (John 3:16). Love accepts the person but not the sin... The cell group must be an island of comfort.
Yonggi Cho was heard to say in 1984 that even when he is in the United States, he can locate every person in his 500,000 member church (now much larger) through the cell system. Cho could say this because every leader is accountable to another leader who is also accountable to someone else.
There is also a sophisticated monitoring system in most cell churches that logs the activities and progress of every member. Everyone is monitored, pastored, and accountable - from the pastor of pastors to the raw recruit. Detailed statistical reports are handed in each week. A normal cell group report includes the weekly attendance in the cell group, the location of the next meeting, those who were saved, and other important details.
There is even a market for cell-church computer software that is used for databasing the members, events and activities and producing reports.
On this "Keeping Track" meta-church website the instructions are complicated and look like hard work. Peter and Paul had it easy!!
"Reports created in database software should give counts of groups with a leader interviewed by a coach for each month for each staff member and overall. Also for count of groups with Xa named, by staff member and overall. Head counts are interesting as observables, but are not as significant as recency of coaching interviews as driving indicators In filling in the record (row) for a particular group, use parentheses to indicate when a staff person or an active group leader is also serving in the role of a coach...(and so on)"
Would you feel easy about sensitive personal information that you shared in private with your "shepherd" being logged and stored on a database, possibly ready to be used against you if ever you should kick against the system?
CellTrak contents include such things as:
- Complete tracking of cell members and cells.
- Member notes, children, history, skills, background and training data fields are included.
- Contact tracking of non-members.
- Cell profiles of active members, sessions, start date and meeting times.
- Speedy weekly cell activity data input.
- Numerous built-in reports with a variety of selection options.
- Exports member data to your donation program.
Way back in the 80's I remember the Copeland ministries asking all their newsletter subscribers to send in full personal details about themselves, complete with photograph, to be stored on card files. (I declined!!) So, at the same time that cell churches are databsing information about all their members, so too are large organisations, ministries and the globalist "missionary" centres such as the World Prayer Centre which is planning to database believers and ethnic groups right across the globe! [see my own previous report on this]
"The World Prayer Center located in Colorado Springs is a trans-denominational effort spearheaded by two Christian leaders. They are: Dr. C. Peter Wagner of Global Harvest Ministries, and Pastor Ted Haggard of New Life Church, Colorado Springs, Colorado. The WPC contains prayer rooms, a spiritual mapping repository, classrooms, a large auditorium, and a bookstore containing an extensive selection of materials on prayer, spiritual warfare, the new apostolic reformation, the prophetic ministry, anointing oil and art.
Why Is There A Need For The World Prayer Center? Never in the history of the church has it been possible to link believers throughout the world. ... a fully equipped nerve center with data and information about prayer needs throughout the world enable intercessors to pray intelligently.
This cell church structure and its software therefore provides for an integration technology that ultimately ties it to the database of such ventures as Promise Keepers, Lighthouses of Prayer, Bethany World Prayer Center, Brigada, and the other globalist organisations.
This is creating in effect a global database that soon will include every man, women and child on the earth: where they are, what they are doing, and what nationality they are! The database is structured to ethnic groups, since the Church Growth rationale is that people can more easily be influenced to adopt a message that is being accepted by others in their own culture. (The homogeneous principle, as previous discussed in the Church Growth section)
Built to Withstand Opposition
The Historian Herbert Butterfield says:
"The strongest organizational unit in the worlds history would appear to be that which we call a cell because it is a remorseless self-multiplier; is exceptionally difficult to destroy; can preserve its intensity of local life while vast organizations quickly wither when they are weakened at the center; can defy the power of governments; is the appropriate lever of prising open any status quo. Whether we take early Christianity or sixteenthcentury Calvinism or modern communism, this seems the appointed way by which a mere handful of people may open up a new chapter in the history of civilization (Herbert Butterfield, The Role of the Individual in History, Writings on Christianity and History ed. C.T. McIntire (New York: UOP, 1979)
Notice here the potential of cells, both for good and evil. To defy the governing authorities, to "prise open the status quo" and to "open up a new chapter in history" may be an altogether good thing at times. But what if this model fell into the wrong hands, and was used for the wrong purposes?
The parallel between cells and the Internet is striking.
The internet was originally conceived as a military device for ensuring the continuance of vital communications at a time of war or national disaster. The authorities realised that a simple serial daisy-chain communication model could easily be disrupted by knocking out one of the nodes. A net model was more effective. If one or many of the nodes were removed, the communications could bypass the missing or damaged nodes and find an alternative route to the target node. (That is the way the internet still works today.)
The Church is being remoddelled as a NET. That means each node (cell or church) is connected to the net by more than one link, and if one link breaks down - or if one cell defects - the message can keep on moving and multiplying regardless. It can therefore be UNMOVED BY OPPOSITION and UNAFFECTED BY THE REMOVAL OF SOME CELLS.
Cells present a very difficult target when dealing with heresy, because a successful move against one individual node or collection of nodes cannot shake the structure as a whole.
A comment about introducing the cell church structure into Russia illustrates this point:
"The beauty of these three different meetings is the mobility and flexibility this allows the Cell Church through any changes that are forced upon the Church by the government. If the government stops all public gatherings the main function of the Cell Church is still intact, its "Cell Groups". This second wing, the Cell Church, consists of Cell Leaders, Zone Supervisors, and Zone Pastors who still continue to carry out the main part of their jobs throughout the week. The church goes on! Congregations can meet corporately in a culture house that seats under 300 in their Zones on Sunday. They have the ability to move from culture house to culture house if changes are mandated, the word can get out quickly and quietly through the cells." (Cell Church Resource network)
We need to realise that the cell-church movement is huge and growing. If the above observations are right, it will also be near unstoppable, by any means!
Thousands of churches involved in the revival, and involved in "fulfilling the Great Commission" are now undergoing a "transition" to a cell structure. It is seen as THE way forward, and THE method par excellence, for evangelising the "unchurched".
The trouble is, they are right! Young people in particular are much more likely to come to a home than a church building, and converts are much more likely to stay where they know all the members of a cell and enjoy one to one discipleship and counselling.
For good or ill
Again, this cell model can be used for good or evil. It is a method that can be very effective in evangelism, but if it is used for preaching the wrong message it can be devastating. Those who are converted into and discipled under a system that is intrinsically wrong, are much less likely to escape it. They will not only have their original allegiance to worry about, but the pressure of intimate friends and colleagues in their cell.
Unlike conventional church membership, any defection or sign of rebellion in a cell would be noticed instantly and dealt with by the elders; any desire to move out or move on would be seen as a personal betrayal; any decision to leave would have to be done in the context of losing one's closest friends and family!
A cell system opens up many possibilities for surveillance and tracking, and makes it easy to keep tabs on the members's personal lives as we have seen. It has been pointed out before that practises such as group confession of sin, or making confession to an elder, puts the participants at risk. Sins and failings could be held over the head of a disobedient member as a subtle blackmail should they be so rash as to leave the cell. The same is true of the intimate "sharing" that would take place between cell members. There is simply too much at stake for a member to make waves!
Exactly the same tactics are used by the Patriot groups of America and elsewhere. A "military manual" of the "Free Militia" until recently available online outlines the problems facing any such organisation, and the way they are to be overcome - organisation as cell groups. Please see below how many of these statements are echoed in the cell-church literature!
Part "2.3.1 The cell structure" in the manual says:
"The fundamental rule guiding the organization of the Free Militia is centralized principles and planning but decentralized tactics and action....What is meant by this key statement is that the whole Militia must be committed to the same cause and coordinated in their joint defense of the community. Thus, there must be allegiance to a higher command. But specific tactics should be left up to the individual elements so that the compromise of a part does not compromise the whole.
The way a balance between these competing concerns is achieved in the Free Militia is to organize all elements into "cells." A cell is a group of eight men who train and work together to accomplish a particular goal or task important to the broader purposes of the Militia.
We use the term "cell," because a cell is the basic building block in any living organism. Just as all life, growth and reproduction is based on living cells, all Militia "life" is centered around its cells. The identities of cell members are known only within the cell and by their immediate superior. All basic training is done within a cell.
Why the cell structure? Military operations must depend on teamwork. But the teams that comprise the larger organization must be small for several reasons: The small size facilitates camaraderie. For the most part, the men who train, work and fight together in a cell will stick together and the cell will remain intact, even though the cell as a whole may be transferred from unit to unit. This will develop personal closeness, trust and loyalty among its members that is critical to effectiveness.
The small size allows for personalized training. By knowing and having frequent personal contact with each member, a cell leader can train each man at his level and pace simultaneously with developing a strong cohesiveness among the team.
The small size means manageable communication and coordination. The cell leader easily conveys clear orders to a small group of men. The higher command elements can give orders to the whole Militia through the chain of command without direct contact with the individual soldier.
2.3.3 Companies organized by cells:
The cell is the smallest unit of organization within the Free Militia. All larger units consist of cells organized together under the same command. For instance, four cells comprise a platoon and are led by a lieutenant. Four platoons comprise a company and are led by a captain. This system is illustrated in the following organizational chart. [not shown here, but very similar to that seen in the cell church literature.]
Perhaps only one cell will exist at first. As new recruits join up, seasoned men will be promoted and new cells formed. Eventually platoons, companies, or even battalions (four companies), will form.
All basic training is done within and by the combat cells with oversight from their platoon lieutenant. This includes training in ideology, individual combat skills and team combat skills. Particular orders or instructions are conveyed through the chain of command and are carried out by the combat cells. In the event the combat cell is isolated from the main group, it is designed to continue to fight on its own, using guerilla tactics.
Main ideas of this section:
- A cell is a group of eight men who train and work together to accomplish a particular goal or task important to the broader purposes of the Militia.
- In the Free Militia, your contact and exposure to other members will be limited to direct lines of command and two levels of rank above and below.
- In the Free Militia, you are only responsible to obey those of superior rank who are in direct line of authority over you in the chain of command.
- Basically, you are obliged to obey any order pertaining to preparations for or conduct in actual combat regardless of how you like or "feel" about it."
This manual shows us that the cell-church structure has much in common with a tightly-organised military operation. Indeed, military language is often used to describe the "new paradigm" (Joel's Army) and young people in particular are being called to train as revolutionaries.
Back as far as 1990 this "endtimes army" was being called out "You, too, can be a world changer. Even now, God is grooming a troop of revolutionaries who will accomplish great things simply by making themselves available to God." (Jay Rogers) and today this talk of revolution is everywhere in the apostolic/prophetic movement. Cindy Jacobs, one of the "Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders" gave a “A Prophetic Call to Revolution” in August 2000 calling for “radical revolutionaries to the church.”
This year "The Call Revolution" spoke of the need for a new "Jesus Revolution" amongst the young, "Calling forth extreme devotion to God and Nazirite consecration in a young generation destined to be the flashpoint of a Jesus revolution."
But what is the objective? Jesus Christ did not come for military combat nor to "take the nations" in this way. The gospel message does not need to be enforced either inside or outside the Body, if all are taught to know the Lord individually, and are submitted to HIM.
Great variety and even disagreement can be tolerated within the Body, and groups may organise totally independently of one another, but still the main task of proclaiming the message of salvation can continue so that people are brought to God! Nonetheless, world domination does require a somewhat different approach - unity, obedience to human authorities and tight organisation.
In all things, we are to obey God rather than man. Man-made systems for trying to improve on God's word (for instance, trying to convert millions when God's word says that few will be saved, and that many will fall away from the faith before Jesus comes) will ultimately bring only frustration and disillusionment.
God's word and God's will should govern all that we do - whatever replaces or contradicts them cannot be Godly, and cannot bear genuine everlasting fruit. (The supposed "fruit" of attracting large numbers of people into churches doesn't count - all religions recruit new members.)
In the meanwhile, however, there's a false gospel being preached and a false kingdom being set up that appears to be the real thing. There's a false unity being pushed that is far from the organic one-to-one spiritual unity that Jesus gave us as believers.
The problem is, most people don't want to know what God says, or what he's asking, nor what he's told us will happen. Most people are unwilling to see or accept God's truth because it's unpalatable to them. In this world of immediate sensual gratification and pleasure all they want to hear about is success and victory. They are:
"Children who will not hear the law of the LORD; who say to the [truthful] seers, "Do not see," and to the [genuine] prophets, "Do not prophesy to us right things; speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits." (Isa 30:9-11)
Believers looking for excitement, self-fulfillment and a "positive" message (whereas the bible is not always "positive" and pleasing) will be drawn into cell churches and the apostolic reformation without understanding that - on a global scale - it is a method of control and indoctrination.
The fact that many - elders included - are sincere and zealous, seeking to save souls, is to be applauded, and I'm not here to criticise well-meaning pastors engaged in evangelism and discipleship. The motives in many cases may be worthy, but the doctrines and methodology are incorrect.
Does this matter? YES, it matters vitally, because nothing we do for God can be an invention of our own minds and thoughts and ideals. Finding a few scriptures to back up our own predetermined plans is deceitful. Everything must be initiated by and sanctioned by God.
The leaders need to heed this before it's too late. Is it better to save one person by a genuine word of God and lead that person into a biblical faith, than to influence thousands to follow a false doctrine?
What shall we therefore do?
What is to replace all these things, you ask. What shall we therefore do - how can we "evangelise the world" and "filfill the Great Commission" and "reform the Church" without these things!
This is like the drug addict asking "if I give up my heroin, what can you give me to replace it? How shall I get my kicks now?" No, drug addiction is entirely wrong! There is nothing to replace it, but living the life God gave you without artificial substances to support your needs.
Even if we had absolutely nothing in this life, would falsehood be acceptable just to fill the gap? Is it right to turn a blind eye, accept second best, go along with error simply because that is all there is?
However, it's not true that we have nothing - we have everything! God has richly provided for our needs.
Faith in God, belief in his word, heeding his call, trusting in his provision and power, serving him - this is what we are called to do. We can have powerful, effective worship and intercession without religious systems and tight organisations, if only each individual is taught to know God and hear God.
With God as the Head, not men, each individual fits into the Body as a limb, just as the bible says. Each person has a place, a positioning, a gifting, a role and a mission.
Self or the true God?
Are you prepared to accept a small-scale, humble, hidden work that does not attract glory and status? Are you prepared to go on faithfully preaching from the word of God, despite the fact that few will accept the gospel message and that you will meet with persecution rather than approval and acceptance in the local community?
Do you value truth over excitement, and faith over works? Are you prepared to fellowship with the one's and two's, the misfits and the cast-offs? Will you seek out those who genuinely trust, love and serve God and obey his word, rather than personal satisfaction?
Will you do the hard work of seeking God and knowing him intimately through prayer and study, rather than sit back and expect the leadership to know everything and do everything?
Some argue that it's "negative" to expose the deceptions of cell churches without putting something in its place. But that would be to imply that Jesus has not given us sufficient for all our needs. Hasn't he said that he has given us "ALL THINGS THAT PERTAIN TO LIFE AND GODLINESS"?? What then do we lack?
We already have all we need (potentially) to serve God and do his work. What is desperately needed is the obedience, faith and dedication to put those things to use, in the good old-fashioned way, believing that God will bless the tools he's given us.
"What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Rom 8:31-32)
"So Jesus said to them, "...if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you." (Matt 17:20) .
© 1995-2013 Tricia Tillin of Banner Ministries. All rights reserved. Cross+Word Website: http://www.banner.org.uk/ This document is the property of its author and is not to be displayed on other websites, redistributed, sold, reprinted, or reproduced in printed in any other format without permission. Websites may link to this article, if they provide proper title and author information. One copy may be downloaded, stored and/or printed for personal research. All spelling and phraseology is UK English.