Friday, February 24, 2012

Church and Kingdom, Here and Now: An Apostolic Critique of the 21st Century Church


This apostolic critique of the 21st century church is written primarily for apostles and prophets—in a language that should be familiar to most. It is short, and to the point. Others may find it interesting, even helpful and insightful, as it addresses issues that affect all believers. May the Holy Spirit add meat to the bones for you that sets these issues into your particular context, culture and tradition.

There are numerous issues that should be evident to apostles and prophets, but often escape the attention of others. The objective of this book is to set forth these issues for our consideration. Each chapter will address a different issue.

We acknowledge the sincerity of the vast majority of church leaders and churchgoers. Honest, deeply committed Christians can disagree. However, the age of being disagreeable must come to an end, and we—together—must face issues with a willingness to embrace the truth when it becomes evident.

After Pentecost of 33 A.D., both the kingdom and the church are spoken of as a present reality. Prior to Acts Chapter 2, the kingdom and the church are spoken of as future. Earlier, Christ had said, "I will build My church." In the last verse of Acts 2 we learn that the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Christ began reigning after His ascension. On Pentecost in 33 A.D. Peter affirms that the prophecy of David concerning one who would sit on his throne was fulfilled in Christ's resurrection.

Jesus Christ began His reign on the earth through a people who were filled with His Spirit. Prior to being crucified, He told them:

“The Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.

“He (the Spirit of truth) dwells with you and will be in you.” Hmmm. Could this be Jesus?

“I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. A little while longer and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also. At that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”

“The world will see Me no more, but you will see Me.”

All of the above foundational truths were embodied in the apostles’ teaching to which the early church remained steadfast. The early church is our model, only because the Holy Spirit led it. We are to be led by the Holy Spirit today. Christ in them, there and then, and Christ in us, here and now, was—and is—the hope of glory.

We need more than teaching about what the apostles taught. We need the apostolic impartation that the early church experienced. We need the real deal if we are to become the real deal!

To that end, I prayerfully submit a critique of the twenty-first century church. Here are twelve issues of concern:

• Pastors are not acceptable substitutes for apostles.

• Evangelism is not an acceptable substitute for discipleship.

• The good news of salvation is not an acceptable substitute for the gospel of the kingdom.

• Heaven is not an acceptable substitute for the kingdom of God on the earth.

• Pastors who act like apostles are not an acceptable substitute for master builders.

• Organizational membership is not an acceptable substitute for Holy Spirit placement.

• Citywide events are not acceptable substitutes for the church in the city.

• Tithing is not an acceptable substitute for Spirit-led stewardship.

• Devotion to church is not an acceptable substitute for devotion to Jesus.

• Busyness in church activity is not an acceptable substitute for life in the Spirit.

• The anointing is not an acceptable substitute for maturity and transformation.

• Sixty minutes of singing is not an acceptable substitute for a lifestyle of worship.

Do not settle for substitutes! In the sweetness of the Spirit, pray and work for the reformation that is in His heart.

My objective includes eliminating unnecessary issues and enabling certain essentials so that the oneness we have together in Jesus may be both enjoyed by us, and at the same time, displayed for the world around us to see.

So long as the church as a whole avoids or fails to acknowledge the master builders—and their role in the foundation of the church—divisive issues will persist and essentials will be neglected.

My heart is to present something that would draw us together, not further denominate the fractured and compromised body of Christ. I ask: “Is Christ divided?”

This book is the fruit of nearly fifty years of repenting. I have been called upon many times, because of new insights into God’s purpose, to lay down practices that I formerly believed were acceptable. More than once, I was guided to repent from things that directly related to our income, the financial security for my wife and family. The daily cross of disciples looms large when one is facing these kinds of death to self. I can look back and be thankful for each time that I chose His life, to submit to Him and His higher thoughts and ways.

There is no camel’s hump hindering me from going through the eye of the needle, and entering in to all that Father has for me—all that He has for me to do.

Repentance is no big deal—it is the way to life, and a way of life—when you are following the Cloud by day and the Pillar of Fire by night.

Living in an awareness of the abiding presence of Christ within makes all such changes seem very small. Repentance is “a no-brainer” when you are seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Being aware that we have been baptized into Christ’s death, we are also aware that we were raised with Him from the dead, to walk in newness of life.

The Master of all master builders is building His church!

The kingdom of God will be given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.

Can we talk? Can we embrace one another as brothers and sisters, and yield to the Holy Spirit to manifest His fruit as we discuss these matters together?

And the servant of the Lord must not be quarrelsome (fighting and contending). Instead, he must be kindly to everyone and mild-tempered [preserving the bond of peace]; he must be a skilled and suitable teacher, patient and forbearing and willing to suffer wrong.

You were all called to travel the same road, and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.

You can order Don Atkin's new book, CHURCH AND KINGDOM – HERE AND NOW at this link:

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