By John Boedeker
“The Spirit and the Bride say ‘Come!’” The church of the living God has always had a life-changing message. Come to the Bread of Life! Come to the Living Water! Come to the Prince of Peace! Come and you will be satisfied, and sent to say, “Come” to others.
The church lives in a world of crisis and need as if it has a right to exist in, of, and for itself to support its own interests. Apart from the indwelling, cleansing, enabling breath of the living God, the church has no life.
The essential core question for this or any other movement of God is: Will we be led by Christ, who is the Living Water, or by another, or by others? The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” And let the one who is thirsty, come; let the one who wishes take of the Water of Life without cost.
As the Church of God movement, are we hearing the Spirit’s call? Are we really saying “Come” to others? Are we living for Christ in the world, or living as the world but maintaining the name Christian? Do we occupy our agency posts and our pastoral offices, our college classrooms, and our lay professions with a burning urgency to reach a lost world with the Living Water, or do we purpose to process our religion so that it will be quite proper and not too challenging to anyone?
The roots of our movement are grounded in the fact that the Spirit led some men and women to return to the integrity of God’s Word and in the power of the Holy Spirt to challenge dead institutionalism in religion with the fervor of true and dynamic faith. In this day, we no doubt can build a great institution with our increased talent and growing acceptance in Christendom, but it will be useless, lifeless, and eternally insignificant if we do not return to the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
As a movement, we need change badly, before it is too late. Jesus’ words in Revelation to the church at Ephesus should speak well to our movement: “You have suffered for my sake, and you have not given up. But this is what I have against you: you do not love me now as you did at first. Think how far you have fallen! Turn from your sins and do what you did at first. If you don’t turn from your sins, I will come to you and take your lampstand from its place” (Rev 2:3–5 TEV).
I believe Christ would also have us read his letter to the church at Sardis: “I know that you have the reputation of being alive, even though you are dead! So wake up, strengthen what you still have before it dies completely. For I find that what you have done is not yet perfect in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you were taught and what you heard; obey it and turn form your sins” (Rev 3:1–3 TEV).
And finally, the message to the church of Laodicea would no doubt come: “I know what you have done; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. How I wish you were either one or the other! But because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I am going to spit you out of my mouth! You say, ‘I am rich and well off; I have all I need.’ But you do not know how miserable and pitiful you are! You are poor, naked, and blind. I advise you, then, to buy gold from me, pure gold, in order to be rich. Buy also white clothing to dress yourself and cover up your shameful nakedness. Buy also some ointment to put on your eyes, so that you may see. I rebuke and punish all whom I love. Be in earnest, then, and turn from your sins” (Rev 3:15–19 TEV).
The future of the Church of God movement will be determined by whether or not we listen to Jesus’ words. The field is white unto harvest and yet we barely grow. Why? Is God a liar? Obviously he is not!
We have drifted far from the zealous Christianity of our pioneers. The time has come for repentance and a return to our first love of Christ! I love this movement and I believe Christ is glorified through it. This indictment from Scripture comes to all Christendom and to every part of Christ’s church, including our movement and to this preacher, who stands convicted, as well.
Our future lies not in great theological education, though we should have it; not in efficient agency organization, though we should strive for it; not in attempts to publicize our name, though we have need for it; or even in our many local church organizations, though we are proud of them; but rather in a God who is building his church through his people in his world, through his power. There is no effective church, and certainly no vibrant movement, without God’s fresh wind blowing in the church.
How, then, should we live? Our most effective action would be a national call for fasting, prayer, and repentance as a movement, praying that once again we would be endowed from on high with Christ’s Spirit so that our zeal for seeing the blind restored, the lost found, and the hungry fed would return.
Do we have a future? Do we have something unique to offer the world? If the Spirit throbs in our hearts, we have the life-changing gospel message with all of God’s faithfulness and love behind it! It alone will make us a zealous, servant people. It alone can penetrate the hellish fortresses of hate and lust and greed that surround humankind—I pray we will get on with the task in his power.
“The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come!’ Everyone who hears this must also say, ‘Come!’” (Rev 22:17 TEV).
Would you join us in such a national—global—call for fasting, prayer, and repentance as a movement? Learn more about the movement-wide solemn assembly prayer experience planned for September 11 at https://chognews.org/2016/05/05/movement-wide-prayer-experience-planned-for-september-11/.
John Boedeker is a retired, longtime pastor and evangelist in the Church of God. Article originally published in the September 29, 1985, issue of Vital Christianity. Republished by permission.