Churches Desolate, How to Regain Presence of God?

By Xiaoxi

All brothers and sisters who have believed in the Lord for years have the experience that when we have the work of the Holy Spirit and a proper relationship with God, no matter what we do, we can feel God’s leadership and guidance. Just as a hymn goes, “The Lord leads me to enter His gates. We have endless heartfelt words to talk. Our love is as strong as death. Mighty waters cannot extinguish it….”

Once I also had such a close relationship with the Lord, but unknowingly, I could not feel the presence of the Lord anymore when I prayed to Him. I also could not obtain the enlightenment when I read the Bible and my understandings were dry and banal. Besides, I felt no enjoyment in the meetings because the preaching was always the old teachings, let alone obtained the Lord’s help, support, and provision when encountering difficulties. I felt helpless and panic. Now the day of the Lord is coming soon, yet I feel no presence of the Lord. Do I still count as a believer in the Lord since there is no relationship between me and Him? I felt scared in my heart, as if I were a child abandoned in the wilderness. To recover the relationship with the Lord, I prayed more often and even prayed with fasting. I also actively attended Bible study classes and attended more meetings, and visited places to search for the church with the Holy Spirit’s work, only to find that all sects and denominations were also withered away and desolate. Though some of them were thriving outwardly, often having dinner meetings and going traveling, and their churches were impressive, the sermons of the pastors were the same old teachings—telling Bible stories, spiritual doctrines, or some theological theories that nobody can understand. After hearing their sermons, the believers still felt dry in spirit, and had no presence of the Lord. Some believers followed the worldly trends, seeking after material comforts and sensual gratification, and reduced to unbelievers; some just observed religious rituals and went to church once a week, but they seldom read the Bible and prayed, and they gave tithes merely in exchange for peace and security; some lived in jealousy and strife and couldn’t practice the Lord’s word…. Brothers and sisters had gradually lost their faith and love.

In perplexity and misery, I went before the Lord many times and prayed, “O dear Jesus the Savior! You are my refuge, the lamp to my feet, and the light to my path. O Lord, now I am very weak and puzzled. May You save me. What should I do to return to Your embrace and recover the relationship with You? O Lord, may You lead me out of the darkness, give me strength, and guide me to walk the way ahead….”

One day, an old school friend whom I had not seen for many years visited me suddenly. We discussed the question why desolation appears in the churches in the last days. We saw it is said in Matthew 24:12: “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” After I read this verse, I didn’t know what specific acts the increasing lawlessness referred to. She fellowshiped with me, “If you want to know that, we should trace back to the end of the Age of Law. At that time, though the Jewish chief priests and scribes served God in the temple, they went against God’s will and went their own way. And the temple finally became ‘a den of thieves’ where oxen, sheep, and doves were sold. They did not obey God’s commandments and offered lame sacrifices to God. For their status and livelihood, they deceived and bound the believers by interpreting biblical knowledge and doctrine, and practicing religious rituals. And they took their own path and opposed God. These sins are facts apparent to us all. Therefore, when the Lord Jesus came to do the work of redemption in the Age of Grace, He revealed and rebuked them: ‘Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you are like to white washed sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but within you are full of hypocrisy and iniquity’ (Matthew 23:27-28). ‘Well has Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. However, in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things you do. And he said to them, Full well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your own tradition’ (Mark 7:6-9). From the seven woes to which the Lord Jesus condemned the Pharisees, we can see all the actions of those hypocritical Pharisees are in defiance of God and go against Him. Outwardly they preached the old traditions and laws, but they violated God’s laws and commandments, secretly devoured widows’ houses and killed prophets and righteous men; they never testified God’s word and God’s way, but only followed their ancestors’ traditions so as to be looked up by others, and thus brought people before themselves. Especially when the Lord Jesus appeared to work, they didn’t obey the truth expressed by the Lord Jesus; instead, they caged and controlled the believers, frenziedly resisted and condemned the Lord Jesus for the sake of their status and livelihood. It is sufficient to prove that their service is resistance against God and in violation of God’s will. Because the Jewish chief priests, scribes, and Pharisees opposed God and were hostile to Him, the Holy Spirit did not work in the temple and in the end the temple was desolate.”

Through her fellowship that in the end of the Age of Law, the reason why the whole Judaism fell into darkness is because the Jewish leaders did not follow God’s commandments but resisted and went against God, and thus lost the work of the Holy Spirit, I realized the reason that the religious world today fell into darkness was likely the same.

Then she continued with her fellowship, “Another reason of the temple’s desolation is that the Lord Jesus became flesh on the earth and started a new and improved form of work. We all know that when the Lord Jesus came to work, He not only preached the gospel of the kingdom of heaven, but also performed numerous miracles, such as feeding five thousand people with five loaves and two fish, raising Lazarus to life, and so on, which completely revealed God’s authority and power. All those who truly sought the truth discovered that the Lord Jesus is different from ordinary people, and recognized the Lord Jesus is the coming Messiah from His words and work. Just as the disciples who followed the Lord at that time, they kept pace with God’s work by recognizing God’s voice and investigating His work. …”

Listening to her fellowship, I seemed to see the scene that in the evening Peter and his brother were fishing on the Sea of Galilee, and the Lord Jesus walked to them and said: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). From then on, Peter followed the Lord Jesus. Through the contact with the Lord Jesus and from His words and deeds, and due to the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, Peter realized that the Lord Jesus is Christ and the Son of the living God. I recalled the Samaritan woman, after hearing the Lord’s words in the town Sychar at noon, left her water pot and went her way into the city to testify the Lord’s name. I also thought of John, Matthew, Philip, Nathanael, and so forth. Lots of people, because of hearing the wonders performed by the Lord Jesus and the words expressed by Him, walked out from the law and kept pace with the Lord Jesus’ work.

“However, those Jewish leaders not only did not investigate or seek the work of the Lord themselves, but spread rumors to deceive the believers and even colluded with the Roman government to persecute the Lord Jesus and crucified Him.” My friend’s fellowship interrupted my thoughts. Right! The Jewish people of that time were eliminated and lost God’s salvation because they failed to keep up with God’s work. Now it is the end of the last days; the Lord may return at any time. If we cannot keep up with the work of the Holy Spirit because we do not know God’s work, then, won’t we have the same end as the Jewish people? Thinking of these, I told her my concern immediately, and she found two verses in Amos for me and read, “‘And also I have withheld the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain on one city, and caused it not to rain on another city: one piece was rained on, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered. So two or three cities wandered to one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have you not returned to me, said the LORD’ (Amos 4:7-8). ‘Behold, the days come, said the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD’” (Amos 8:11).

Then she fellowshiped, “‘One city’ in the verse refers to the church that has the work of the Holy Spirit, while ‘another city’ refers to the church that has not. God’s intention of sending a famine in the land is to force those who truly believe in Him and love the truth to leave the place without rain and look for a city with rain.” I asked, “Yet all denominations and sects are desolate now, so how can I find a church with the work of the Holy Spirit—the city with rain?” She continued to fellowship, “God said: ‘I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that is thirsty of the fountain of the water of life freely’ (Revelation 21:6). If a church is the city with rain, it surely has the provision of living water of life, the work of the Holy Spirit as well as the words and guidance of God. Because of the work of the Holy Spirit in the church, the believers recover their faith and love. When they pray, they have the enlightenment and illumination of the Holy Spirit and the presence of God. When they read God’s word, they have light. Through experiencing God’s work, they have more and more knowledge of God as well as their corrupt nature. Slowly, they begin to loathe their own corruption, become subject to God, and have a heart that truly obeys, reveres, loves, and worships God. Therefore, if we want to find ‘the city with rain,’ we should search for the church which has the work of the Holy Spirit and is testifying God’s new work and experiencing God’s words and work today. When we find a church where the believers are testifying the truth, have growth in life, and have changes in disposition, we find the church with the work of the Holy Spirit. And when we find the church with the work of the Holy Spirit, we find the appearance of God.”

Thank the Lord! By studying these verses and fellowshiping with my old school friend, I have been clear about the basic reason why the whole Judaism lost the work of the Holy Spirit in the end of the Age of Law. On the one hand, there was more and more lawlessness in the temple. The Jewish leaders went against God’s will and went their own way. They did not obey God’s commandments but misinterpreted the Bible to shackle, control, and deceive people. They brought people into biblical knowledge and made them stray farther and farther away from God. They changed the temple into a place of religious rituals, which brought more and more things of hypocrisy and resistance against God there. On the other hand, based on the needs of us mankind, God started a new work—the Lord Jesus carried out the work of redemption outside the temple. Those who kept pace with the Lord Jesus’ work had received the work of the Holy Spirit again and lived in the light and reunited with the Lord, while those who stubbornly held on to their notions and imaginations and did not accept the Lord Jesus is the Messiah had fallen into the darkness and lost God’s salvation.

Having understood the reason why the temple became desolate in the end of the Age of Law, I couldn’t help remembering a verse in Revelation, “These are they which follow the Lamb wherever he goes” (Revelation 14:4). I think this is the guidance the Lord gave us to seek a church that has the work of the Holy Spirit.

 

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