"The Church & the Kingdom of God"
July 19, 2007 by Rick Joyner
A few weeks ago, I had two of the most powerful visions I have had in years. I was basically shown the Lord's heart at the beginning of creation and what the main desire of His heart is now. It was His Bride, the Church. From these visions, I understood profoundly that the love He has for His Bride is so impacting that the Church does not exist for the kingdom, but the kingdom exists for the Church. This was a reorientation of my thinking, and I am therefore sharing this with those who have been with me in this study of the kingdom for nearly two years.
This does not change what I have been sharing about the kingdom, but it does change the priority for me. The Lord loves His creation, and He loves the earth. He loves every sparrow, which is why He notices when a single one falls to the ground. However, there is nothing that compares to the love He has for His Bride. The way it was shown to me gave me more resolve than ever to see the Church made ready for Him.
For the Church to come into her purpose, she needs to know her high calling. There are many practical issues that must be addressed, but the most important of all is that she needs to fall so in love with Him that she cannot stand to be apart from Him. The Bride that "makes herself ready" does so out of love for Him, not selfish ambition just to fulfill her own purpose. She needs to see her purpose and delight in it, but it pales in comparison to seeing His glory.
Certainly there is no one in the universe more lovable than God. His ways are so much higher than our most noble devotions that to comprehend Him, in even the smallest way, is transforming. Therefore, the key to the Church rising to the stature to which she is called is for her to behold Him. This is the anointing that I am praying for above anything else—the anointing to point to Him in such a way that the Bride is consumed with the desire for Him. Of course, I cannot impart this without having it in my own heart. Loving God is our first and highest calling. The one who attains the highest calling is the one who loves Him the most.
Those who have read my material know that I have always been a church man. In all that I write or preach, I try to impart a vision for every believer to be a part of the local church. I have done this out of a conviction I was given soon after I became a Christian—that a vital and genuine local church life is essential for true Christian maturity. I have never been more convinced of this, and yet I also know very well how rare it is to find a congregation where this is possible. For the Church and individual Christians to come into their purposes, both must change, and they will.
However, it is much better to be in an immature church than no church at all. In fact, it can be much better to be in an immature church than a mature one. We need all of the frustrations and irritations of church life to become what we are called to be – Christlike. Everyone will love the One who is perfect, but to love the imperfect and patiently give ourselves to helping them is the basic nature that the Lord demonstrated when He walked the earth. For this reason, it is easier for us to mature when we are with the immature. If we are waiting for the Church to get its act together before we join it, she will be so far down the road that we will not be able to catch up!
The kingdom of God is going to come, and His will is going to be done right here on earth just as it is in Heaven. His kingdom on this earth is going to be far more wonderful and glorious than our present language can describe. The earth will be restored to the paradise it was originally created to be, but the Church has an even higher calling. The Church is called to the Heavenly realm, to sit with Him on His throne, ruling and reigning with Him. She will also share His divine nature. The chide has been common toward the spiritual that they are so Heavenly-minded they are not any earthly good; but the fact is that an earthly-minded Christian will not be able to do much good on earth. Until Heaven really is our home, we simply will not have much for the earth.
The Lord has had His people praying for the kingdom to come for nearly twenty centuries now, but it will not come until His Bride is ready. Therefore, the most effective thing we can do to help bring the kingdom is to help the Church become what she has been called to be. She is called to sit with Him in the heavens and to be more at home with Him there than she is here.
I appreciate those who have a heart for the transformation of society, but this transformation with good ideas is very limited without it being accomplished through the Church. The Church is called to be the light that is set on a hill, the great society that compels those who see it to seek the Source of the light. The Church is called to be the kingdom of God on the earth, a society and a culture that is from above, standing out boldly in contrast to the fallen ways of this world, revealing the wisdom and nature of her King. The Church simply cannot fulfill her purpose without community.
In speaking of community, I don't mean that we all have to live next door to each other in the same neighborhood. There is a bonding together into the true fellowship of the saints that transcends location. Earthly families grow up and grow apart, all going their own ways, but the Heavenly family grows closer as it grows up. The Heavenly family will grow until our spiritual bonding transcends the closest human family.
There is a yearning in every Christian's heart for this bonding into the eternal family of God because it is the destiny we were created for.
The Body of Christ is going to start coming together, which is the greatest of all the signs that this is truly the end of the age, because this age cannot end until this happens. When this happens, the Gospel of the kingdom will be preached from the great and impregnable fortress of the kingdom on earth—the Church. Even so, the Lord's own prayers and prophecies for the unity and perfection of His Bride must take place before this age can end.
When the desire for true, New Covenant church life is awakened in the Church, she will start to gather again. When she starts to gather again, the Lord will be in her midst and she will fall far more in love with Him than she is with herself. Christians who respond to the call will begin to experience the ultimate community, but that will not be their main focus—it will be getting close to the Lord. He is an even greater desire of the human heart than community, but we must have community to grow closer to Him.
As the Lord declared in Matthew 18:20, "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst." The word translated "gathered" here means much more than just getting together for meetings; it means to be assembled just as the parts of a car are assembled to make a car. Separated, the parts will not be very useful or be able to carry anyone anywhere, but together they can go a long way. This is the same connotation that is found in Hebrews 10:23-25: Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.
The "assembling together" that we must not forsake is more than just getting together for meetings; it is the assembling together like the parts of the car. Individual parts may be valuable, but until they are properly put together they cannot accomplish anything. It is the same in the Body of Christ.
There is a reason why everyone who came to the Lord in the New Testament was "added to the Church." We should look at the fruit of ministries that may touch a lot of people, but do not build the Church. How much of this fruit remains? When they leave are the people really different? Is the light of the Church really shining brighter? Why is it that studies show there is no measurable difference in the character of those who call themselves Christians and those who do not? Something is truly not working.
This is not to lay the blame for the churches' problems on such evangelists. We should rejoice in all who preach, heal, and in any way are used to touch people in the name of the Lord. It is understandable that many evangelists would be hesitant to send their new converts to churches that they know will lead them only to a dead religion or in other ways drain the life out of these new believers. However, this is why the evangelists of the New Testament were followed by apostles, prophets, and teachers who would build the Church. Until the New Testament ministries learn to work together, much of the fruit will continue to be lost. It is certainly better that these evangelists preach, heal the sick, and turn people toward the Lord than not to do this, but there must be churches raised up where new converts can mature and grow in their relationship to Christ and find their proper place in His Body.
As we are told in I John 4:20, it is not possible to love the Lord and not love our brethren. It is not possible to really love the Lord and not love His Church. If we love Him, we will be compelled to help His Bride become a Bride that our King deserves. She is the greatest desire of His heart, and if His pleasure is the greatest desire of our hearts, we will help her get ready for Him. This is in fact the main way that we can help prepare the way for Him and build a highway for the kingdom.
Rick JoynerMorningStar Ministries Email: email@example.com
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