FLIGHT FROM BABYLON
The Coming Salvation From The Works Of Collective Society
GRADUAL SALVATION FROM THE POLITICAL WORKS OF THE WORLD
The one remaining form of dead works and spiritual adultery that neither of the first two restorations attacked head-on was the Church's remaining slavery to the works of the world. Despite the great advances in salvation by grace, neither the Reformation nor Holiness-Pentecostal Restorations directly confronted the babylonian quest for the total collectivization of man. With few exceptions, the Church never broke Her shackles to move out from under the works of babylonian economies and communities to fulfil the Great Commission. Meanwhile, as the Church has only begun to awake from Her adulterous sleep, the world has been rushing pell-mell toward collectivization under satan, awaiting inauguration of its world empire under the last great king of Babylon from Nimrod's dynasty.
Though neither of the first two restorations secured salvation from babylonianism, the Church's relationship to fixed society was not left totally untouched. In particular, the Church's direct tie to political babylonianism was greatly affected. As a side-effect of the first two restorations, the Church's gradual deliverance from political babylonianism paved the way for the coming final Restoration that will sever the Church's relationship to all the works of fixed society. In this section, we want to trace the history of the Church's increasing salvation from political works of the world stemming from the first two restorations.
A First Blow to Tyranny
Of all the alliances the Church has ever made with collective society, the alliance of Church with the political sector has been the most abominable. It is the crowning manifestation of spiritual harlotry. The union of Church and state was effected in principle under Emperor Constantine in 323 A.D. It culminated in the inauguration of the Holy Roman Empire in 800 A.D. giving equal authority to pope and emperor.
The first crack in this unholy union occurred as a side-effect of the Reformation. Until the Reformation, the Holy Roman Church-state retained its monolithic grip over the continent of Europe. That grip was broken through the Reformation. In its wake, Europe came to be dotted with a host of smaller independent church-states. The Roman "Catholic" Church was no longer catholic. The new diversity opened the door to the eventual total dissolution of the church-state alliance.
Separation of Church and State
About 1636, half-way between the start of the Reformation and the Holiness Restoration, the decisive blow to the church union with political babylonianism was struck on the newly-settled shores of the American continent. At this time, new babylonian-style colonies were being established by predominantly Christian people who had fled Europe because they were being persecuted for divergent views by the state churches there. In founding their new colonies, these settlers modeled them after the church-states they had fled.
From among these colonies, the Lord raised up a prophet who saw the intrinsic evil of this union between the Church and political babylonianism. His name was Roger Williams. For his opposition to this form of harlotry, Williams was predictably persecuted and put out of the "synagogues" of these colonies (which meant banishment from their societies altogether).1 Nevertheless, his voice was carried back to England where the spiritual momopoly of the state church there was destroyed and other free bodies of believers began to flourish. So influential was the ministry of Roger Williams in breaking this union that when the American colonies united to become an official nation in 1787, no provision for an established national church was made. The United States of America became the first nation of Roman Empire descent to be free of official union with the Church since 323 A.D.
(Unfortunately, Roger Williams did not go far enough in leading the Church in America out of complete babylonianism. Separation of Church and state is not full separation of Church and fixed society. Though Williams achieved the former, he left the latter relatively untouched. He was himself subverted into establishing another collective society named Providence. This is a tragedy in view of his original purpose for coming to America which was to fulfil the Great Commission among the native Indians.)
After the dissolution of church-state alliance, the Church was left to its own artificial, self-supporting political forms called "denominations". Now the political force for holding the Church together was found entirely within the Church Herself. But it was still man-made force. The structure of denominationalism was modeled after the political structures of babylonian society and drew its support from the Church's remaining rootedness in babylonian economy and social community. Still, it was a marked improvement over church-statism on the road to complete salvation from collective society. Denominationalism was the dominant political force at the beginning of God's second phase of Gospel Restoration in the late 18th century.
Greater Evangelical Freedom
As the Holiness Restoration gained momentum and the deeper work of the Spirit to save from sin's power took root, the disintegration of artificial political power in the Church continued. Human control began yielding to greater Spirit control. Denominationalism began giving way to looser confederations of churches called "fellowships", "conventions", "alliances", and "assemblies". Churches began seeing a need to returning to simpler forms of government patterned as closely as possible after the New Testament picture.
One notable movement toward simpler Church government and more independent bodies arose in England during the 1830's. Under the leadership of John Darby, the "Plymouth Brethren" movement was launched. It stressed plurality of leadership in local Church government. Other similar moves took place such as "the Restoration" - now known as that affiliation of churches called "Church of Christ". Both these movements stressed the evil of a body of believers accepting a name outside the name of Christ.
All this was very good. Unfortunately, because all these organizations of believers were still enslaved to the remaining works of fixed economy and social community, they all eventually stagnated. They became equally static in their preoccupations with particular persons and corners of truth. In turn they were closed to all but their own limited circles of fellowship. By this, they became denominational in spirit and in practice, if not in name. With us today are the synagogues and sepulchres of their spiritual descendants.2
One last noteworthy point about the Holiness Restoration is that some significant ground was broken in taking the Gospel (as it was restored to that point) to the ends of the earth. Various missionary organizations and societies arose within and without the established churches of America and Britain. A number of believers went out to foreign lands. Of course, it was a small percentage in comparison to the number who stayed, and the Gospel they carried was incomplete, being at best two-dimensional and in most cases only one. As well, they usually carried the "extra baggage" of their American and European cultures with them, mixing it with their Gospel. Nevertheless, this was the first significant mass effort in Church history since the first apostles to fulfil the Great Commission. These missionary efforts presaged the coming of complete salvation from collective society when ALL the Church will be liberated to fulfil the Great Commission and to prove that She has been saved by Her own message.
New Wineskins For New Wine
With the added restoration of the gifts of the Holy Spirit to the Church in the 20th century, the artificial control of men in the Church was broken even more. For the first time since the very early Church, the travelling supernatural ministries of apostles and prophets were openly restored. Men and women with incontestable supernatural ministries in healing, faith, and deliverance from demons went up and down through the land of America. Walking outside of the established churches, they showed the Holy spirit to be unlimited by any man's concept of how the Church should be "run". Through the displays of the dynamic spiritual power entrusted to them, they forever destroyed the notion that spiritual authority can be conveyed by seminary degree and parliamentary vote! These pioneers broke all the traditions and customs that the earlier established bodies had incorporated into their stagnant organizations.
With the coming of the Charismatic Movements, the local bodies of believers became more independent than ever before. Although many mistakenly used the Charismatic "Renewal" to try to preserve the dead bodies and old wineskins3 of past denominational structures, those who were delivered from these structures by this movement became the freest of all from false human control. They have become more conscious of the other believers in their locality than ever before. (Many of these bodies have dropped the word "church" altogether from their names because of the babylonian connotations come to be associated with the word.) In addition to them, many spontaneous conventions and congresses have been occurring outside the control of established church bodies, not to mention multitudes of other para-church ministries that have arisen in recent decades. Indeed, the Church has become more freed than ever from the political works of the world.
Church in Transition
Perhaps three most recent moves of God's Spirit portend above all others the nearness of the Church's final liberation from all the works of collective society. The first is the increasing move to house churches in the West.4 God's People are just beginning to become aware of the evil of their brick-and-mortar synagogues and how stifled their relationships have become because of them. Though they do not realize it, this is preparing them for the time when they may no longer meet in buildings.
The second transitional move is the Faith and Prosperity Movement. Despite its disrepute because of its abuses and subverted applications, this move is preparing God's true sheep for life outside the systems of fixed babylonian economy. It is teaching them how to take on the physical world to obtain God's physical and material provision, preparing them to live in an economy based on giving in advance of the time they will not be able to buy or sell in Babylon or use its hospitals. The true sheep are availing themselves of these vital realities to set themselves free from all human works.
Third, there is the quiet, less obvious move in recent years of various bodies into isolated Christian communities outside the ties to babylonian society-at-large. These believers have seen the "handwriting on the wall"5 and have begun moving out of babylonian population centres into the more remote, rural quarters of North America. Though in many cases these communities are re-rooting into their own collective establishments similar to the first American colonies, the true sheep are learning preparation for a completely mobile life that will enable them to eventually take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
These three moves point the way to the final stage of Restoration. But they only point the way. They are not there yet. In not a few cases they are plagued by parallel false kingdom teaching which is bringing them into disrepute and causing many to stumble. Overall, the Restoring Church-at-large in Euro-America is not even begun to prepare for the coming salvation from all the works of fixed society even though so much has happened to save Her from the political works.
Remaining High Places
We read at times in the Scripture where Old Israel underwent periods of revival under certain kings. But then the story qualifies the revival by saying, "Yet the high places were not removed."6 The revival was incomplete. So too, the Church's Restoration is incomplete. Her "high places" remain. What are they? They are the stone temples and synagogues where a mixed offering is yet poured out - partly to God, partly to the honour of the Church's remaining relationship with fixed economy and social community by which those high places are built.
Why is the Church still so enslaved to the financial and social works of collective society despite Her monumental gains in freedom from political babylonianism? The answer in large part is due to the rise of false kingdom teaching which has dogged the steps of the Church's Restoration and risen like tares along Her restored blessings.7 We now turn to trace the course of this teaching which has arisen alongside the Church's gains in salvation to reinforce Her remaining bondages under collective society
References:1 Jn 16:12
2 Mt 23:27
3 Mt 9:17
4 (Rom 16:5)
5 Dan 5
6 Ex 20:26 > I Ki (3:2-4; 12:31-32; 14:22-23;) 15:14; 22:43 II Ki 12:3; 14:4; 15:4,35; (16:4; 17:9-11)
7 Mt 13:25
[10. THE RISE OF FALSE KINGDOM TEACHING THROUGH TWO RESTORATIONS ]
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