THINGS KEPT GOING STRONG UNDER THE DISCIPLES WHO SAT AT JESUS' FEET, BUT THEN THINGS BEGAN TO CHANGE WITH THEIR DISCIPLES who had never seen Jesus!-- And it only took about two generations to do it.
THE INFLUENCE, ACTUALLY, OF ONE DYNAMIC LEADER SEEMS RARELY TO CARRY BEYOND THE SECOND GENERATION OF HIS FOLLOWERS, and the repercussions of his ministry seem only to carry about two or three generations of its own momentum, and then the movement usually cools off and rejoins the System, and God has to raise up a new leader, who followers are another dropout movement, whom they in turn fight again: a vicious cycle!
WHY DOES THIS HAPPEN! It's a kind of vicious cycle that apparently God permits in order to infuse new blood into His Church and to keep up a constant purification process, because as soon as the former group cools off and solidifies and systematises, He has to call out a New Church! That's why His people are always the "Ecclesia".
THE CHURCH ALWAYS HAS TO BE CALLED OUT (DROP OUT)--always has to be separated! As soon as the old group grows stale and stagnates, He always has to bring along some new group--the new dropouts!
THE OLD GETS OUT OF TOUCH WITH THE HUMAN SOURCE, AND HE HAS TO RAISE UP A NEW! It's like someone has said, "God has no grand-children! There's no such thing as second generation Christians! Every new generation either has to drop out or cop out--one or the other; bring forth new buds, or die on the vine and become dead!"
THE FRANCISCANS BEGAN TO GO ASTRAY EVEN BEFORE ST. FRANCIS WAS DEAD! He died of a broken heart, because he finally realised that God had said, "Build My Church" of people, instead of buildings! Nevertheless, he had done a great job leading a group of dropouts who took vows of poverty and lived by faith. He actually did a good work, even though his followers occupied their lives by just building and repairing chapels, etc!
IN A WAY, JUST THE FACT THAT HE DID GAIN NEW DISCIPLES, DID BUILD A NEW CHURCH OF "LIVING STONES": The Franciscan Order! But he wasn't even dead yet before they began to get rich and fat and powerful and ceased to live like he had originally led them!
LUTHER WASN'T EVEN DEAD BEFORE HIS FOLLOWERS BEGAN TO FORM A NEW SYSTEM or church, which eventually became almost as dead and corrupt as the old one!
IT'S BEEN SORT OF AN INEVITABLE CYCLE OF HISTORY THAT THIS IS THE WAY GOVERNMENTS AND DENOMINATIONS AND MOVEMENTS OF VARIOUS KINDS ALL REVOLVE! They're born in the white-heat of the fires of inspiration and of the desire for change, and, led by an anointed leader, they fight and die for the Cause until they gain enough followers to "come out from among them and be separate and touch not the unclean thing, and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness"--and a new "Ecclesia" has been formed--the new "called-out ones", the new church, the new dropouts!
AND THEY REVEL IN THEIR NEW-FOUND FREEDOM, TRUTH AND BEAUTY, LOVE AND PEACE, UNTIL A NEW PHARAOH ARISES, A NEW LEADER AND A NEW GENERATION "WHICH KNEW NOT JOSEPH"--who don't appreciate the freedom or the blessing because they've never known anything else, so that they've become lazy and lethargic and self-satisfied and self-indulgent, with a false sense of security, out of touch with the original inspired leader and his teachings, and out of touch with God--asleep, content, "rich and increased in goods and having need of nothing"--but actually, "wretched and naked and blind" in the sight of God! And the most shocking thing about this condition is that they don't even know it! It's like a creeping paralysis which steals up on them--and they're dead before they know it!
SO EACH TIME, IN ORDER TO PRESERVE HIS CHURCH AND HIS CHILDREN AND THE TRUTH AND ITS FREEDOM, GOD HAS TO CALL OUT A NEW MAN WITH SOME NEW MOTIVE, to make some new move to form a new movement of dropouts from the once new System grown old and corrupt, stagnated, contaminated, and frozen together in formality, inflexible, unbendable, unchangeable old bottles that can only be broken to give birth to the new--just a fragile, empty eggshell which cannot contain the volatile life within--an empty womb which can only give birth to new life!
LIKE BUILDINGS, WHICH BEGAN NEW AND USEFUL AND YOUNG AND MODERN in their day and suited to the needs of their time, every System becomes old and decrepit and dilapidated and dangerous and condemned as time goes on; worn-out, obsolete, and totally inadequate for the new needs of a new generation, fit only to be torn down and destroyed and cleared away to make room for the new!
EACH WAS GOOD ENOUGH FOR ITS DAY, and "sufficient unto the day for the evil thereof", but totally insufficient for the world of tomorrow! So that as the decay and rottenness sets in, the old building becomes more of a hazard than a haven: it has to be destroyed! It has to be condemned and removed, lest it destroy the life within, or even its neighbours, with its corruption!
THEY SAY THAT THE GREAT LONDON FIRE WHICH DESTROYED MOST OF LONDON AFTER THE HORRORS OF THE "BLACK PLAGUE" HAD DECIMATED MOST OF ITS POPULATION--they say the fire probably was the best thing that could have happened to London, to literally wipe out rat infested buildings full of those bubonic carrying pests, and literally purge London from the putrefacation left by the plague, and by purifying the city--lest, trade centre that it was, it might have infected the entire world!
THE FIRE THAT DESTROYED LONDON SEEMED A CATASTROPHIC HOLOCAUST AT THE TIME, BUT IS NOW KNOWN AND REALISED AS A BLESSING THAT BLOTTED OUT THE PLAGUES OF THE PAST! Both plague and fire seemed like the judgments of God on a wicked generation of Londoners, but like most of God's merciful judgments, they turned out to be blessings of chastisement to purge and purify His children and bring a change for the better!
SO IT IS ALWAYS NECESSARY TO "ROOT OUT, PULL DOW, DESTROY, AND THROW DOWN" THE OLD, IN ORDER "TO BUILD AND TO PLANT" the new; there just isn't room for both!--For "what fellowship hath light with darkness and Christ with Belial?" And how can the new children of God partake of the tables of devils of the older generation if they're going to build a new world free of former sins? You can't have both coexistent in the same world; either one is going to destroy the other, even as Stalin acknowledged!
THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS THE PEACEFUL COEXISTENCE OF GOOD AND EVIL! "I came not to bring peace, but a sword!" One or the other has to conquer! One or the other has to be destroyed that the other might live! Ye "cannot build on another man's foundation". "Ye cannot serve two masters." Ye cannot belong to both the System and the Revolution--the forces of Reaction and the forces of Change! It's impossible, as Jesus said, "You'll either hate the one and love the other, or hold to the one and despise the other." You'll either stay in the System or drop out! There's no such thing as hanging somewhere in between, suspended between Heaven and Hell in some kind of compromiser's limbo! You've gotta drop out if you're gonna live--else you'll die with the old, and the building will collapse on top of you!
YOU HAD TO DROP OUT OF YOUR MOTHER TO BECOME A NEW LIFE! You had to drop out of the Old Man to become a New Creature. "Ye must be born again." "For except a man be born again (drop out), he cannot see the kingdom of God." It's impossible for the Old to inherit the New, and God forbid that the New should inherit the Old! It's bad enough that it grows old itself in time. There is no man nor woman, movement or denomination, building or government, civilisation or empire, that has not grown too old to be useful--that has not had to pass away to bring forth the new! It's God plan to preserve life! He has to keep recreating it! Nobody lives forever! No building or government of man has ever been eternal!
ONLY THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS EVERLASTING! God Himself had to wipe out His own creation in the flood to purge the world so it would live long enough to finish His Plan--or He would have had to destroy it long ago--and one of these days, He will have to destroy it! The old earth must pass away, that we may have the New Heaven and the New Earth, and the New City, built by God.
AS WE'VE TOLD YOU BEFORE, ALL THINGS CHANGE. If there's one thing we can be sure of, it's change--in this life! Even Karl Marx recognized that in his "Dialectics of Materialism"!
BUT WHY, YOU ASK, MUST THIS ALWAYS BE TRUE OF A RELIGIOUS MOVEMENT? Why is it that every great revolution, revival, reformation or denomination, has invariably, without exception throughout time, slowed to a stand-still, cooled off, and frozen back into the System, so that God had to call out each time a new man, with a new motive, in a new move, into a new movement, to purify His Church and to purge them from the old leaven, and to keep her a young new bride without spot and without wrinkle, fresh and clean, radiant and beautiful, vibrant and alive, productive and fruitful?
WHY HAS THIS HAD TO BE THE FATE OF EVERY GREAT MOVE OF GOD WITH HIS CHILDREN? It happened to Israel. It happened to America! It's happening to Russia--and it's happening to Israel again! It happened to every reformation, every revival, every revolution! So much so that in this study of history repeating itself over and over again, you have the feeling of frustration and futility that Toynbee, the famous British historian, had when he said, "The only thing we learn from history is that we never learn from history."
IT EVEN HAPPENED TO THE EARLY CHURCH; WITHIN TWO OR THREE GENERATIONS, they had slowed down spiritually, stopped evangelising the world, cooled off in their ardour, grown cold in their love, and frozen together into the same Roman system from which they had dropped out!
MUST THIS ALWAYS BE THE FATE OF EVERY LIFE?--MUST IT DIE? OF EVERY NATION?--MUST IT FOLD? Must every reform eventually formalise?--Every revival die?--And every revolution revolve full scale back into the System that gave it birth? Must we too, pass away?
THANK GOD, I DON'T THINK THERE'S ENOUGH TIME LEFT FOR IT TO HAPPEN TO US! We're just getting started! (In 1970) It's only the beginning, folks! But the warning lesson is always there: "Let him that thinketh that he standeth take heed lest he fall." How can we avoid it? How can we prevent it? How can we keep it from happening here? How come some have lasted longer than others, and why do they fall? Why all that to say this?
IF YOU DON'T PROVE THAT THIS HAS ALWAYS BEEN A PROBLEM, HOW ARE YOU GOING TO SEARCH FOR A SOLUTION? How are you going to know what to look out for? How are you going to recognize the danger signals? What are the symptoms of the disease? How can you tell when you're sick? How did it happen to others? How can we keep it from happening to us?
WE HAVE RECOGNIZED THE ROTTENNESS AND DECAY OF THE OLD SYSTEM, and, like the early "Ecclesia", the "Called Out", the Early Church, we too, have dropped out and started anew--a new life, a new way, but the oldest of all ways--God's Way! "No other foundation can any man lay than this!" We are just getting back to the Foundation--clearing away the old rubble to build anew! As the humourist and playwright George Bernard Shaw said, "There is nothing wrong with Christianity--just so few have ever tried it!" What he meant was he couldn't see many people living it--not even the so called Christians, or the Church!
SO FIRST OF ALL, WE MUST BUILD ON THE RIGHT FOUNDATION--THE MAN CHRIST JESUS--the Corner stone! Second, we must build the building He wants! "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; and no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me!"--A building of young and living stones, made alive by His spirit, founded on His Truth, and melted together in His Love!
LET'S USE THE BEST CHURCH HE EVER CREATED AS OUR PATTERN! Let's use the Early Church in the Book of Acts as our blueprint! Here was the ideal! How did they do it?
I believe at the present, we have all the earmarks of that very Church; we've seen the evils of the Old System--we're sick of it! We've dropped out of it completely! We've separated ourselves from it! We've come out from among them and we're separate! We've forsaken all to follow Jesus! We've become "fishers of men" and we're going into all the world to preach the Gospel unto every creature, and make disciples of all nations establishing churches in every city--new Colonies at home and abroad!
YES, WE'RE A NEW NATION, AND WE'RE BLOOMING AND BLOOMING AND EXPLODING, through the dynamic, atomic chain reaction of personal witnessing--the way Jesus and His disciples in the Early Church did it! "We're on our way to the Promised Land--we're gonna shake the Holy Man's Hand!" What we have said and done has already echoed around the world! Even our enemies are helping to publicise it and spread it by condemning us for it--even in such denunciations of us as Dave Wilkerson's criticising us for damning the System, damning education, and damning the Church! Even these jealous warnings to the world by false shepherds to their comfortable flocks to beware of us--even these bitter tirades against us by our enemies are helping to spread the Truth--are helping to publicise our Message--are letting the world know there's an alternative-- there's a way out--you can do it--you can drop out and survive!
WHEN I USED TO DISCUSS WITH RELIGIOUS LEADERS OF THE PAST HOW THE EARLY CHURCH SUBSISTED by sharing all things, dropping out of the System, and having all things in common, forsaking all in order to preach the Gospel--and that they all did it--not just the preachers, pastors, evangelists, and missionaries--and I used to suggest that possibly we could get the job done faster that way, if the whole Church did it, like the Early Church did--they always said, "Yes, but that was a different day, and it didn't last, and besides, it wouldn't be possible today".
BUT I STILL INSISTED I'D LIKE TO SEE SOMEBODY TRY IT, and would thrillingly theorise about what might happen if they did, as happened to the Early Church--But like I said, nobody wanted to try it--until I found YOU--you young new bottles--sick of the System--dropouts and dregs of society--the only ones willing to try it--because you'd tried everything else and you knew nothing else worked! You could see that by your parents, and your old church--the damnable PIT from whence you came!
AND IT'S WORKING--JUST LIKE IT DID FOR THE EARLY CHURCH! And we're doing it!--And it's happening! We're showing it can be done!--And they hate us for it--because they don't want to do it! They only said it couldn't be done because they didn't want to do it themselves! Now we've exposed them for the phonies they are--for the scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites, they always were--they themselves being unwilling to enter in, and also hindering others from entering into His Kingdom! They had to say it couldn't be done--or they would have had to do it! Now we've exposed them, and they hate us for it, and they have no cloak for their sin--no excuse for their failure!