Summary:
In this season, the church is being purified.The church is also being pruned – healed, reshaped and revived.Jesus assesses the state of the church by one simple yardstick:  Are you bearing fruit?

The fruit of the church is righteousness, and righteousness can be summarized as love.

Without a vital, supernatural connection to Jesus Christ, it is impossible to sustain church as Jesus initiated it. 

At this time, however, the original church is being restored.

John 15
1“I AM the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser; 2every branch not bearing fruit in Me, He takes it away, and everyone bearing fruit, He cleanses by pruning it, that it may bear more fruit; 3you are already clean, because of the word that I have spoken to you; 4remain in Me, and I in you, as the branch is not able to bear fruit of itself, if it may not remain in the vine, so neither you, if you may not remain in Me. 5I AM the vine, you the branches; he who is remaining in Me, and I in him, this one bears much fruit, because apart from Me you are not able to do anything; 6if anyone may not remain in Me, he was cast forth outside as the branch, and was withered, and they gather them, and cast into fire, and they are burned; 7if you may remain in Me, and My sayings may remain in you, whatever you may wish you will ask, and it will be done to you. 8In this was My Father glorified, that you may bear much fruit, and you will become My disciples. 9According as the Father loved Me, I also loved you, remain in My love; 10if you may keep My commands, you will remain in My love, according as I have kept the commands of My Father, and remain in His love; 11these things I have spoken to you, that My joy in you may remain, and your joy may be full.

The New Testament was written so that we would understand the teachings of Jesus and stick to them.  In the Book of Revelation Jesus was giving his assessment of the churches, and one of things he judges very harshly is false doctrine.  Just as the church is cleansed by the word, so it is defiled by false doctrine.

The word doctrine means teaching, and false doctrine is doctrine that differs from that which Jesus taught.

Jesus set up a school of righteousness, but over time history has turned this school into a religion called Christianity. The Christian religion has splintered into over 45000 denominations around the world, each with a training process involving literature and instruction that seeks to ensure that what is taught within that stream confirms to what the “founders” believed.  Invariably this idea of “pure doctrine” is not adhered to because the “pure” standard is itself impure, and the splitting continues.

The reformation came along and sought to bring a massive correction by re-introducing the idea of Jesus as the source of “pure” doctrine by way of the idea of “sola Scriptura”.  The protestant movement went for this as far as it could, but it discovered what the original “fathers of Christian religion and deviants from the way of Christ” discovered:  It is impossible to be a disciple of Jesus Christ in the real world without  divine empowerment.  The unregenerate man cannot do it.  So, inevitably, you end up with a super race sitting within the community and being effortlessly righteous, while others hate them for it, because they disrupt the economy, they disrupt the power dynamics within the community, slaves and captives are set free and people are sold food, health and wisdom without money and without price.  Their righteousness reduces the authority of evil governments, and inevitably this race of people face genocide unless a compromise arrangement can be made with the other people groups in the community.  This compromise is codified as the Christian religion, and communicated to followers utilizing carefully selected words of Scripture.  What, in effect we now have, is a sustainable and widely attainable, practical form of righteousness which is codified and communicated through the denominational schools.

Notice that the idea of school and discipleship has now also been shifted from every believer to the officers of the system, the teachers that will pass on the rules, principles and practices of the religion, and will do the work of the ministry.

Jesus, however, is coming back for a bride that is pure and spotless, a tree that is pure and bearing fruit  [notice that the idea behind the metaphor of purification of a bride is also related to bearing fruit].  This purification involves healing, reshaping and reviving the church so that it looks like what Jesus initiated and is bearing the fruit that Jesus intended.

Jesus established a discipleship school – a movement of Jesus lookalikes who would collectively be his body on the earth and his physical representation – literally Jesus Christ incorporated.

Christian doctrine must go beyond “sola scriptura” to “via veritas vita”.  When we say sola scriptura we usually mean “only if we can find a supporting verse of Scripture”. I’m sorry, but you will find a supporting verse of Scripture for just about everything.  The Scriptures are also prominent in houses of witchcraft and each witch or wizard has their favorite verse of Scripture. 

  1. The word of God is presented and should be communicated simply and thematically, and a text taken out of its context is no less deceptive than the creative editing that we are so often repulsed by in western political attack ads, where politicians shamelessly parade their lack of integrity.

           What we need to do is to hear the “word of the Lord” – the constant, oft repeated

refrains of God as he calls his creation to himself.   We need to recognize that Jesus Christ is God, and the word of God is the word of Christ.  The teachings of the New Testament writers must always be interpreted as clarifications and applications of the word of Christ, rather than as kind of evolution of Christian doctrine.

      2. The idea of several churches in a city is just as abhorrent to Jesus’ disciples today as it was to Paul as he wrote about it in 1 Corinthians 1.

      3. Christianity began to be infected with spiritism from the very beginning, and today there has been a worrying embrace of spiritism as a valid part of the Christian religion.

      4.  Christianity began to be conflated with secular government just a few hundred years after the church began.  There has been a resurgence of this view within Protestantism in recent years, rooted in European theological thinking which has now taken hold in America, despite the fact that America was founded in direct opposition to the way this was practiced in Europe.

Each of the above distortions which will be purged during this season of purification have arisen for pragmatic reasons, essentially to avoid extinction.  But the school of Jesus teaches us how to “lay down our lives”, how to bear fruit (not abiding alone), and essentially how to prosecute the life of Christ and replay that supernatural life in the full view of many witnesses.  We are called to be witnesses and thereby to recruit disciples.

Jesus took a towel and modeled church leadership as ministry, and Paul helps us to understand what that looks like as he describes apostles, prophets, teachers, evangelists and pastors.  Everything about Christ, including his ministry and leadership is developed in his school, in other words, as part of the discipleship process.  So, a church that redefines itself as a school of disciples, will see the emergence of five fold ministries, and will be served by them.   This is part of the supernatural resource that makes this discipleship school possible, and without it only a pragmatic return to Christian religious practice would be possible.