Hello, dear friends and welcome to the second part of our podcast, titled, “Church Who Are You”.  

Since the beginning of the year, the focus of the podcast has been who we, as the church, should be in the peculiar times we are living in-the last days or the end times. We are the end times church. We are a peculiar generation and if you do not know who you are, you will be what the world tells you to be. The Word the Lord gave me a couple of weeks ago was this – that the apostasy of the church, begins with the loss of identity. Apostasy is the renunciation of that which one believes in. Who are you? Christian or heathen? Believer or non-believer? Participator or a spectator? You and I were born, and we have been prepared for such a time as this. This is an opportune time for us as the body of Christ. This is the hour of the Church. We need to make it our finest hours. Last time we looked at the warning of Jesus to the Church in Revelation 2:14 – 15. He warned the Church against compromise and licentious living. I also explored how compromise is tied to that loss of identity and will lead to destruction. 
Again, I want to reiterate that the solution to compromise is only one thing –the knowledge of the truth: absolute truth.  Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free - John 8:32. We have to go to the Maker and to His manual. It is time to adhere to God, to the standard of His Word, and to re-discover our identity. I like what Mark Hankins said – “Your destiny is connected to your identity”.  Who are you child of God? 1 John 3:2-3 says, “Beloved, we are now children of God, and what we will be, has not yet been revealed. We know that when Christ appears, we will be like Him”. Take stock of who you are – when He comes, and He will come, will you be like Him? Will He see Himself in you? Mark Hankins also says that “God put in Christ everything He wanted you and me to be”.  Who are you child of God? We examined the first answer to that question in the last podcast. First, you are the Church of the Living God or in Greek, the Ekklesia. The Ekklesia was a prestigious public assembly of Athens. They determined laws, debated public policies, formulated new policies, argued and ruled in judicial matters, elected chief magistrates, of the land, and decided who should be banished. When Jesus used this word, He meant exactly what it portrayed. You and I have been called, chosen, called from this world’s system, and invited to participate in this kingdom body – the Church of the Living God. The Church of God is people - not buildings. We as Christians, have a calling to the marketplace, to be in the seat of authority; to formulate public policies, decide judicial matters, direct the affairs of nations. Like cream, we are meant to rise to the top. 

The second answer to the question, ‘who are you?’ is we are Christians. In the Acts of the Apostles or the Acts of the Holy Spirit in the Church, the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch. Not the Apostles; the disciples. These were everyday people like you and I. They did not mean Christian to be their last name just as it is not Jesus’ last name. He was not born to Mary and Joseph Christ. The word ‘Christ’ tells us Who Jesus is, the Anointed One and His Anointing. Christians mean the Christ-like ones. What did the people of Antioch see in these early believers that caused them to link them to Jesus?  Acts 11:19-27 provides us with some clues. These people were persecuted, displaced from their homes, living in foreign lands - sojourners, but they would not be silenced. They were bold risk-takers, who stepped out of the norm to reach the gentiles or the unsaved and they were dominion minded. The Church at Antioch gave the Word of God pre-eminence (vs. 25).  And the Lord’s Hand was with them. What happened? Revival broke out, they grew in number and that was dominion.

Do people see us and call us Christian without us telling them that we are? When the world sees us, they should see Jesus. Our lives should be living epistles – the Bible that they can observe. We are the true witnesses, and we are the evidence of the Risen Christ to the world. 
Matthew 12:33 – “Either make the tree good and its fruit good or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit”.  Christians should be known by their fruit. Galatians 5:22-23 – “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law”.  We cannot go into a discussion of all of these fruits. They are each a subject to teach on their own. But let’s look at one. Patience. The word “patience” is the Greek word hupomeno. It portrays a person who is under some type of incredibly heavy load but who refuses to stray from his position because he is committed to his task. Regardless of the load, opposition, stress, or weight that comes against him, he is not going to move. He is going to stay put in his spot and not surrender it to anyone for any reason! It is also translated as endurance, staying power, or hang-in-there power! When patience works so strongly in us, we will not only survive; we will thrive and flourish where we are planted. Patience is the supernatural ability to endure and joyfully succeed in difficult and challenging circumstances and it is part of the divine equipment for your calling in life. It will help you to live victoriously for Him where you are. If you need staying power to stay put where He has called, you; if you need hang-in-there power to help you hold fast in that tough place; or if you could use a supernatural dose of endurance to help you endure to the end — you have already got it. Release it and grow it by faith.

The third response to my earlier question of ‘who are you, child of God?’ Would be, we are a sign and wonder. Isaiah 8:18 is a prophetic Word about Jesus and the church – it states – “Behold, I and the children whom the LORD has given me are for signs and wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion”. Other translations say we are not just for signs and wonders, we are the signs, and we are the wonders – a living demonstration of Who God is. We are to unveil God to a corrupt world. How? Through our lives. What testimony is your life portraying to the world around you? You are called to be a witness. 

What is a sign? It is a mark by which persons or things are distinguished and made known. It is also described as the signature or seal applied to a document to guarantee its authenticity. You could say that Christ and the church are the mark or the sign God uses to authenticate, confirm or validate Himself, His Word, and His acts. We are the proof that God is to the world.
So, we are the Church, we are Christians, we are meant for signs and wonders and fourthly, we are also Kings and Priests. Revelation 5:9-10 - “And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood, men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign upon the earth”. You and I are called to be kings and priests. We are called to reign (control, influence, administer and be sovereign) not to be inferior, powerless, weak, incapable, subordinate, and impotent. Why then are we not reigning in life? Why are we under circumstances and situations that keep us under?
Again, one of the compelling reasons is compromise or another form of compromise called substitution. Jeremiah 2:13 says, “For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me--the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all!” God’s people have substituted living, running waters for stagnant waters. Instead of being plugged into the water source, they collect water in small cracked leaking containers. The world is not attracted to what we have because when we substitute or compromise, we cannot do better than the world. The world has bigger and better than our substitutes. For the glory cloud, we offer smoke on stages; in Christian families, we see spiritually absent fathers; mothers have taken the place of fathers as the authority figure and in leading their families spiritually. I am not referring to single-parent families – I was raised in one. I refer to two-parent families where men have abandoned leadership and initiation. This is akin to the world’s system of feminism which is straight from the pit of hell.  In the world, we also see the fulfillment of Isaiah 3:11 “I will make mere youths their officials; children will rule over them.” In the church, we have not always taught our children the honor of God; the importance of putting God first. Rather we have put our children first, above God; and made life all about them. Malachi 1:6 - "'A son honors his father, and a servant his master. Then if I am a father, where is My honor? And if I am a master, where is My respect?' says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests who despise My name. But you say, 'How have we despised Your name?”

I will end this podcast by looking at the life and death of a believer who honoured God, who respected God, who did not despise His name. One that would not compromise and would not substitute. One who caused Jesus to commend the church at Pergamum for holding firmly to His name and not denying His faith. This was the believer Antipas who lived in a place called Pergamum. Pergamum was a place where Jesus in Revelations 2 said that the throne of satan resided. The people of Pergamum worshipped a myriad of Greek and Roman gods, but Christianity arrived with the belief in just one God, and Antipas was one of the strongest voices to the dismay of the city's pagan priests. Church history has it that Antipas was a very committed believer and witnessed Christ to all, to the extent that the idols were not being worshipped and a complaint was brought against Antipas.  Who brought the complaint? Demons. It was said that Antipas cast out so many demons that the demons complained to the idol priests that they had to do something about Antipas.  When was the last time demons complained about you? The pagan priests went on the attack against Antipas. The pagan priests went to the Roman governor and complained that the prayers of Antipas were driving their spirits out of the city and hindering the worship of their gods.  As punishment, the governor ordered Antipas to offer a sacrifice of wine and incense to a statue of the Roman emperor and declare that the emperor was "lord and god." Antipas refused. Antipas who was also said to be the bishop of Pergamum, ordained by the Apostle John, was martyred in Pergamum.  A 3rd-century inscription that was discovered documented his death. He was said to have been roasted alive inside a brazen bull as an offering to an idol. Church legend has it that Antipas was told, “Antipas, the whole world is against you”, to which he replied to them, “then I am against the whole world”.  Even in the midst of the flames, the elderly bishop Antipas died praying for his church. This man was acknowledged and commended by Jesus. He called him, "My faithful martyr." The year of this event was AD 92. Today it is the year 2021, and the Church of the Living God is still going strong. The Church cannot be stopped when it walks in the revelation of the risen Christ. We cannot be stopped because you cannot stop the truth. God is waiting on us to value the gift of who we are enough to live up to it. It is our choice, and it is not too late as long as we are on this side of life. 

Until next time, the Lord watch between us.