NEW BOOK: Ancient Roots of the LGBTQ Movement

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There is a lot of questioning going on about the church. Not just here at NoLimits, but across the world. People are re-evaluating the purpose of going to church.

We have mega-church pastors being exposed of hidden sins in their lives. We have denominations embracing the LGBTQ agenda. We have an endless supply of church-hurt stories.

If there was ever a time to evaluate what the church is and what the church is not, it is right now. But there is a danger in the evaluation process that you need to look out for.

As we work to get back to the true purpose of the church, it’s easy to get caught in the trap of our own preferences. What starts as a genuine search for truth can become a search for excuses to appease our own desires.

When this happens, we start to criticize the church. In our criticism, we feel justified in our lack of involvement with the church.

Dangers of Criticism

You should know something about criticism. Every time you criticize a person or an organization, you are in company with demons.

You know this is true! It is exactly what the enemy does to you. He criticizes you. He is an accuser, always pointing out what you’ve done wrong and making sure you feel bad about yourself.

When you allow yourself to criticize, you are welcoming the demonic into your life. You might as well open the door and say, “Come on in. I want company with the devil.”

You can disguise criticism as a prayer request, or a genuine concern, or just wanting to help. But no matter what disguise you put on it, there is still an ugly, foul-smelling demon underneath.

You gave up your right to criticize when you came to Christ!

Jesus commands us to love each other. Criticism and love do not mix. Love conceals the faults of others. Love is patient while another becomes who they are meant to be. Love builds up, never gives up, and endures through every circumstance.

It doesn’t matter how you package it. Criticism does not fit into a walk of agape love. You cannot be obedient to love and criticize at the same time.

“But Kade, if I don’t tell them they’re wrong, they’ll never know!” Really? Do you think you know better than the Holy Spirit who already has them on a path from glory to glory?

Criticism is pride in new clothes. It is basically saying, “I know better, and they should know what I know. And if they don’t listen, everything will fall apart.”

There was a time when I was the king of criticism. I had great ideas and everyone needed to know about them. I knew how to fix everything, if they would just let me.

This was when my dad was the pastor of this church. I was always helping him by telling him everything wrong with the church, and what needed to be better, and what needed to change.

Guess how that ended up? In a very heated confrontation with my dad. He told me to shut up or leave, and he wasn’t joking. I stormed off and told Beth, “We’re leaving. We’re not going to spend another Sunday at the church.”

Before the next Sunday, the Holy Spirit got ahold of me. And He didn’t tell me I was right. He told me my dad was right. The Holy Spirit confirmed, “Shut up and serve the church with a peaceful and quiet spirit.”

So, I speak from experience. Shutting up is better. It turns out, you forfeit God’s gift of peace when you choose to criticize and I’d rather have peace. How about you?

That’s why you will not find me criticizing Robert Morris. What is my criticism going to do to help the situation?

You will not find me saying how much better our church is than the one down the street. Why? Because I refuse to allow the destructive force of citicism out of my mouth.

That was quite a lesson on criticism. Apparently, we needed it. If we are unaware of the dangers of criticism, we will find ourselves using criticism to justify our lack of involvement in the church.

As we search out the true meaning and purpose of the church, we must put our own preferences aside. We must refuse to criticize what’s gone wrong in the past. We must humble ourselves before the Word of God and align with what He says.

Jesus Prophesies About the Church

Jesus mentioned the church twice. They are both found in Matthew’s gospel, chapters sixteen and eighteen. Let’s take a look at the first mention.

Matthew 16:13-19 NKJV – When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Matthew 16:18 NKJV – …on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 

This is the first mention of the church. Based on this scripture, did the church exist yet? No. Jesus said, “I WILL build my church.” He was prophesying what was to come.

When we examine the ministry of Jesus, is it a picture of the church?

He didn’t have a building, so does that mean we shouldn’t have one? He didn’t meet at the same place every Sunday, so does that mean we shouldn’t meet at the same place every Sunday?

When did Jesus build the church? The building project started on the day of Pentecost, 50 days after He was raised from the dead.

So, if we want to understand what the church is supposed to look like, where do we go to find out? The Book of Acts and the epistles.

Many people excuse themselves from the church by blaming Jesus. They say, “Well, Jesus didn’t go to church. The church was wherever He was, so the same is true with me. I am the church!”

If you had twelve disciples following you and thousands of people tracking you down every day to be healed and delivered, I’d give you a pass on this one. But, you know you are just using Jesus as an excuse.

Plus, if that’s the stance you are going to take, you’ll have to wrestle with the fact that Jesus actually did go to church. He went to synagogue every Sabbath.

He was actually in church a lot more than that, taking every opportunity to teach in the synagogue. So, if you want to be like Jesus, be like Jesus. I’ll see you every Sunday, and even on Tuesdays.

The church was not built until after the resurrection of Jesus. So, let’s not find ourselves in the gospels looking for excuses to distance ourselves from the church. Are you following me?

This may come across as a bit in-your-face. That’s intentional. You’re welcome. We don’t have time to beat around the bush. Let’s get right to it so we can become the hell-shattering church Jesus prophesied about.

Initiation of the Church

Let’s head to Acts chapter 2.

About 120 people were waiting for the Holy Spirit Jesus had promised. They were all in the same room, meeting daily and united in prayer.

Then, the Holy Spirit was poured out and they all spoke in other languages. Apparently, they acted drunk because that’s what the people outside accused them of.

Then, Peter came and preached to the crowd outside. Remember how Jesus said that He would build the church upon Peter? This is the fulfillment of that prophecy.

Let’s take a look at what happened after Peter’s first sermon.

Acts 2:36-41 NKJV – “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.” Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

The church started with 120 people waiting on the Holy Spirit. The same day they received the Holy Spirit, THE SAME DAY they grew by 3,000 people.

“Oh, but we shouldn’t have a big church. Jesus can get more done with a small church. Nothing good comes from a mega-church.”

That has to be one of the dumbest mindsets we’ve ever accepted. The day the church was born, it was a mega-church! And I don’t see Jesus rebuking Peter for saving 3,000 people.

“Oh, but we have to get all of our systems in place before God will allow us grow.” Really? You’re telling me that disciples were fully prepared to multiply by 25 times in one day?

The enemy will throw lie after lie after lie at the church to get it to stay small. It is our responsibility to cast down every vain imagination that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.

God doesn’t want a small church. He wants ALL to be saved!

God is not waiting for us to get our systems in place first. He wants us to trust that as we seek His kingdom first, all the things will be added as we need them.

There’s only one thing that God is waiting on, for us to believe that we are a church of no limits. There is nothing holding us back! We’ve been given the keys to the kingdom of heaven!

Hell’s best defense cannot stop us! The only thing that gets in the way is our unbelief, our doubt, this ungodly idea that God does not want the church to grow and prosper.

I’ve noticed lately that many worship songs speak of making room for doubt. One says, “In a field of doubt, plant a seed of faith.”

Sure, you can plant a seed in a field of doubt, just don’t expect a harvest. The doubt is guaranteed to choke it out.

We cannot tolerate doubt! In Mark chapter 11, Jesus teaches us that no doubt can be present if we want our faith to work. In James chapter 1, we learn that a person with doubt shouldn’t expect to receive anything from the Lord.

There’s only one thing you should do with doubt: eliminate it! Get your boxing gloves on and knock it out by speaking the Word of God out loud!

It is written, God’s will is for all people to be saved! He doesn’t want a small church. He wants the entire world to be the church!

Three thousand in one day. That’s what happens when a group of 120 people gets completely filled with the Holy Spirit followed by an apostle preaching a long, bold sermon.

The day the church was born, it was already a gathering of more than 3,000 people. Even leading up to it was a gathering of 120 people.

I’m sorry to break this to you, but your family church meeting in front of the TV does not qualify as the church. It’s a good thing to do, but it is not a substitute for the church.

Your family is your family, and it is a beautiful thing that should be nurtured and cared for daily. But your family is not the church. The church is many families gathering together.

You are not the church. You are part of the church, but you are not the church. The church only exists when many – hundreds, thousands – knit themselves together as the body of Christ.

What the Early Church Did

Let’s keep reading because we are going to find out what the church really looks like.

Acts 2:42-47 NKJV – And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. Then fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.

Let’s break this down.

They met daily in one place, in a building called the Temple.

Is the church a building? No. It’s the people. But just like a home is not a family, the home serves a great purpose for the family.

So, the place where we gather, the building, serves a great purpose for the church. To say that the church building is irrelevant to the church is to say the home is irrelevant to the family.

We don’t worship our building, but we do honor it for its function. It’s the place where we gather. It’s our home. We will take care of it and continually expand it to make room for the church to grow.

They respected their leaders and the gifts God gave them.

The early church devoted themselves to the Apostle’s teaching. It wasn’t some nice sermon they could take or leave. No, they listened intently and followed what they were being taught.

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen this type of respect for the leadership gifts Christ has given to the church. Our culture is too independent. I’ve got this.

Independence is not a godly characteristic. Just look around. You can’t survive without the trees producing oxygen, or plants producing food, or chickens turning bugs into eggs.

The most miserable people on the earth are those who have embraced independence and think they don’t need other people in their life.

You are not and never will be independent. I have something you need, and you have something I need. I don’t even have everything I need within my family. To experience wholeness, I need the church!

There’s something about the gift of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher that you need. The church cannot survive without honoring these gifts that Christ gave to the church.

This is not a power play! This is the design of the church. Jesus set it up this way because it works. There is safety in this design. There is joy in this design. It is the only way for the church to thrive.

Think of the home. Dad has a leadership gift from God. Mom does too. There is only peace in the home when the leadership structure God set in place is honored.

Every home where the kids don’t honor their parents is a place of chaos. Every home where the wife doesn’t honor the husband is a place of strife. There is one way it works: God’s way.

I am not trying to force you to honor elders, but I will never affirm the lie that these leadership gifts don’t matter in your life. 

Every believer who opposes the leadership gifts Christ gave to the church flounders needlessly. It’s not necessary. It’s an easy correction.

If you want stability, joy, and peace, honor the gifts. Not the people and their faults, but the gifts. Understand that it is Jesus working through these gifts to equip you.

When you sit under the teaching of an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, or teacher, honor the gift. Not the person, but the gift.

For whatever reason, Christ saw fit to deliver these gifts through people. The people will never be perfect, but the gift is beneficial to you regardless, as long as you devote yourself to the teaching that flows through these gifts, just like the early church did.

Jesus Christ flows through me as His apostle to give you what you need. I’m not looking for a pat on the back. I just want you to receive what Jesus gives you through this gift.

They fellowshipped with fellow believers.

The early church had great times of fellowship. They invited each other into their homes daily to share meals and pray together.

Wow. Somehow, we’ve gotten way off track with this one. We think it’s too much to invite people over even once per week.

There’s an easy fix to this one. Stop trying to impress people with your perfectly clean home and fancy meal prep. Simply invite people over and have them cook with you.

If you stop worrying about what other people think of you and focus on enjoying each other’s company, it is much better.

We’ve been having the youth over at our house every week. Sometimes the yard is mowed, sometimes it’s not. Turns out, they don’t care either way.

Every week, we take all the clutter from our counters and wherever else, put it in a bin, and hide it in our room. It takes less than five minutes and makes the whole house look tidy.

Even if we left it all out, they wouldn’t care. There would just be nowhere to put the food.

If having people over is overwhelming, you are doing it wrong. Take a chill pill, give up on trying to impress people, and find ways to prepare together rather than doing it all yourself.

They had reverence and awe for the church

They didn’t take church lightly. They had a genuine reverence and a deep sense of awe for the church. This reverence for the things of God birthed many miraculous signs and wonders.

Do you think we just discovered why miracles are rare in the modern church?

Church has become a mundane, optional add-on to life for most people. That is entirely on the other end of the spectrum from where this thing started.

We must get back to a place of reverence and awe.

They did not hold tightly to their possessions.

They used everything they had to make sure every need was taken care of in the church.

We cannot build the church and our own kingdom. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t start a business. I’m saying that our business should carry the purpose of building the church.

Maybe the business idea God has given you is to provide jobs for the church so no one goes without. Maybe it’s to give large sums of money to fund the building, or the elders, or whatever the church needs.

If the goal of your business is only to support your family, you are thinking way too small. Yes, care for your family. But, go far beyond that. Build a business that builds the church!

Your business needs to be bigger than your needs. So much bigger! Think bigger! And that’s not big enough. Grow your business with the goal of building the church!

They were full of joy and generosity. They praised God and enjoyed each other’s company.

They grew every day.

Not just every Sunday, but every single day, people were being saved and added to the church. Is this what you think of when you hear “church”?

The church is the most amazing thing ever created.

All the principalities and powers look at the church to display God’s wisdom. We are the bride of Christ, His inheritance and most prized possession. We are the body of Christ with the same authority and power He has.

Hell doesn’t stand a chance against the church.

Why do you think the enemy works so hard to get you to stay home and call it church? Why do you think you have so many opportunities to get offended at church?

We can’t even comprehend what the church is capable of. But how about we dive in and experience it by pressing in and becoming a church straight out of the book of Acts?

About the Author

Kade Young

Kade Young is the lead pastor of NoLimits Church.