“Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” — John 7:38
The AAA Church, by Randall D. Kittle

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Recently, I had a powerful encounter with the Lord. It began with Him strongly declaring, “Behold, My Church is harbored in a bay filled with apathy.” With that I saw an enormous fleet of sailing ships bogged down in a dense fog. On the front of each ship there were three small flags. On top was the U. S. flag; beneath that were city flags (I recognized the flags of my hometown and of Chicago); and beneath that were flags I did not recognize at first. Soon I saw one that represented my home church, and knew the lowest flags represented individual churches.

There was no wind, which resulted in a perfectly calm sea. The entire fleet appeared to be stuck in the green slime that covered the surface. As they sat motionless in the water, I could see narwhales (small whales with a “unicorn-like” horn on the top of their heads) that kept swimming up to the surface and puncturing holes in some of the ships. Written on the horns of these narwhales was the word “Hopelessness.” As more and more holes were poked in the ships, some of them began to slowly sink. As I watched one of them sink beneath the surface of this bay, I noticed that it was not alone. Under the surface was a small fleet of sunken ships scattered across the bottom. I could see thousands of bodies on the decks of these sunken ships or floating nearby. Instead of having the appearance of a ghastly grave, it seemed more like a giant nursery, for the expression on the faces of those in the depths was not one of death, but one of deep slumber. I then noticed on the surface that there were some people swimming and others in lifeboats rowing toward the ships that still floated in this green sea of apathy. Here and there I could make out those in life-vests who were climbing aboard some of the ships.

Awakening Out of Apathy
Again I heard the clear voice of the Lord exclaiming, “Behold, I am awakening those who sleep in the depths of lethargy.” With that I saw a ship that was different from all the others. Instead of having a U. S. flag at the top of its mast, it had a very different flag. Its flag had a red cross in the background with a Lamb wearing a crown in the foreground. The lamb was holding a shield with one of his front legs, and upon the shield was a roaring lion whose outstretched mane looked like a blazing sun. Written on the side of this ship was its name — the H.M.S. Awakening. This ship had hundreds of diving bells (small, tethered submarines) that it was continually positioning, raising and lowering in the water. Through the water I could see the diving bells going into the sunken ships, and then millions of bubbles came forth from them as if the H.M.S. Awakening was pumping air into them. As the bubbles came forth, the ships would begin to shift and then rise back to the surface. Once the ships re-surfaced, the people on the deck would yawn and stretch as if they had just awakened from a long nap. The H.M.S. Awakening was working quickly, reviving ships as fast as the narwhales could sink them.

Then the Lord said,
“Behold, I am sending My wind to arouse My Church. To set her free from the apathy she is lodged in, so she can emerge and move on toward fulfilling her destiny.” With that a wind began to blow and the fog thinned out. Even more important though, the calmness of the sea was broken and strong waves began to move through the bay. Slowly, the green slime thinned out and the ships began to unfurl their sails and emerge from the sea of apathy.

Remember the Lighthouse
Next, the voice of the Lord cautioned me, “Remember to always keep the lighthouse on your left.” This seemed to be a needless warning, because I could clearly see the way we should sail ahead toward the horizon. While the sailing was clear, I used a telescope to look at the lighthouse. Engraved at the base of it was the phrase, “Psalm 119:105.” As we sailed in our large convoy of ships, another bank of fog began to roll in. We soon came to a channel to our left marked by a large stone pillar which had engraved upon it “A Gospel.” As I looked at the pillar, something about it just didn’t seem right. The words looked strange because they were justified to the left instead of being centered. A number of ships headed for this opening which looked to be a wide and easy passage. But I couldn’t help believe that it was too soon, we could not have sailed far enough. Suddenly, the fog thinned and the light from the lighthouse shone upon the stone pillar. I could now see that a portion of the surface of the stone had been covered with mud which had filled in some of the letters. With the pillar illuminated, I saw that it really said “Another Gospel.” Reading this (and realizing that the lighthouse would have been to our right had we sailed down this channel), we stayed on our course and sailed on.

A New Way
This was good news, for soon we saw people in lifeboats rowing out of the passage. They looked as if they had barely escaped with their lives! The fog grew thicker, and the wind became more contrary. Some thought these winds meant we had gone too far, but I felt certain they were nothing more than winds of adversity. In the dense fog, the lighthouse was no longer visible — so we just remained on the same course. Soon we came to a new passage which seemed to be approximately the distance we should travel. Many of the ships began to sail to this opening, for the wind was less contrary. I could hear other crews declaring “This must be the way of the Lord, for His wind is leading us that way!” We sailed closer to get a better look. There was a large sign by the opening of this passage way, which said “The New Way to the Old Gospel.” I saw a large number of ships taking this passage. Many of the life boats who had survived the first passage had landed on a long pier at the entrance of this passage. They were joined by a throng of people swimming in the water. “Where did all the people in the water come from?” I wondered aloud. With that I could see people jumping from ships that were not headed down this passageway and swimming to shore to get aboard other ships that were sailing that way. In order to fit all the people on these ships, there were cranes at the pier removing the cannons from the decks of the ships to make enough space for the immense crowd who longed to go this way.

Suddenly, from out of the fog I heard a sound of a trumpet that shook me both from without and within, like a mighty thunder clap. I instantly knew the blast had come from the lighthouse. The sound was a warning, and with it I could tell the location of the lighthouse. This made it clear that this was not the correct channel, for if we chose it we would have had to sail with the lighthouse on our right. So the order was given to short-sheet the sails and extend the oars as we set our course back to the right of the lighthouse. Once the course was set and the order was given, a map fell down from above and landed nearby on the deck. As I unfurled it, I could see that both of these passages led to a small body of water entitled “The Apostate Sea.”

On to the Apostolic
Once again I heard the voice of the Lord as He proclaimed, “Behold the Apostle Islands, once you have sailed through them you will be able to do all that I have called you to do.” With that our ship sailed past the lighthouse on our left and sailed through a narrow harbor opening. Looking at the front of our ship and realized that our ship’s top flag had changed. It was no longer a U. S. flag, but had become like the one on the H.M.S. Awakening, with the lamb on it.

In this channel we sailed by twelve islands. On each island was a large marble pillar with a letter engraved on it. It was only when I looked at the map again that I realized that the letters spelled out
“T-H-E A-P-O-S-T-O-L-I-C.” After sailing through the channel by the twelve islands we came to a vast ocean before us. A glance at the map revealed that this was the Apostolic Ocean — the place to which the Lord had been leading us. The Lord had led us safely out of the bay of apathy, past the apostate sea, until we came to the place of His choosing, the vast apostolic ocean.

The Meaning of the Vision
The vision began with an enormous group of ships (which represented individual churches) bogged down in the sea of apathy. Most of the Church in America currently finds itself stuck in a miry bay of apathy. Recent surveys from both Gallup and Barna clearly show apathy to be rampant throughout the Church. Their studies don’t reveal apathy affecting a substantial minority of Christians. On the contrary, it is already afflicting the majority of Christians!

So what exactly is “apathy?” The word literally means
“having a lack of feeling.” The majority of church-going Christians currently have a lack of feeling, a lack of passion, about church-life. What a sad and concerning statement. The typical born-again Christian now finds himself merely going through the motions of church-life. Unless the Church emerges from this widespread apathy, we will soon find most believers slipping into a lethargic slumber.

The narwhales in the vision represent harassing spirits of hopelessness. Proverbs 13:12 tells us that
“Hope deferred makes the heart sick.” When apathy is left untreated, it will eventually lead to a wound of hopelessness, which can transform it from apathy into lethargy.

The slumbering spirit of lethargy is quite widespread across the Church. One of the most common cries of the Holy Spirit in our day has been
“Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light” (Ephesians 5:14). The Spirit has been blowing His breath of life upon us, performing spiritual “mouth-to-mouth resuscitation” on the Church. Like the diving bells on the H.M.S. Awakening, the Lord has repeatedly blown His breath into the lungs of the Church in America — awakening His Bride and bringing her back to life. Across the Church in America in our day there are currently two widespread and opposing moves: a wave of hopelessness sinking the apathetic into a bed of slumber, and a wave of awakening lifting the sleeping Church out of the depths of lethargy.

The Emerging Church
Awakening is critically important, for it is the only cure for the spirit of lethargy. But God’s winds of change are beginning to blow upon the Church to do even more, stirring up the sea of apathy and arousing His Church! The word “arouse” is a compound word from “a” meaning “intensely,” and “rouse” meaning “to flush birds out from hiding.” The Spirit of God is coming to us to intensely flush us out from our apathetic hiding places. The Lord is coming to His Church with a stirring to draw out from those stuck in apathy an emerging remnant. God always has a remnant!

This is the day of the emerging Church! While the phrase “the emerging church” is becoming a common Christian catchphrase, that does not diminish the fact that there is coming forth in this day an emerging Church. Out of the American Church that has sat stuck and sinking in a sea of apathy, there is emerging an awakened and aroused people!

The Apostate Church
There are actually two different movements emerging from the apathetic church. One is the true remnant of God — the Apostolic Church, and the other is a false movement — the Apostate Church. In the vision, as the Church departed from the sea of apathy, the first two channels both led to the Apostate Sea. The Apostate Church is designed to derail and diminish what the Lord desires to accomplish in our day, and entrap the awakening, aroused bride of Christ.

The word “apostate” is of Greek origin, and literally means “
rebel, deserter.” One way the Apostate Church will be formed is by the presentation of “Another Gospel.” “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel — which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!” (Galatians 1:6–9).

This altered gospel is no true gospel, and will be launched through deception (just like the pillar in the vision looked like it read “A GOSPEL” when it really read “ANOTHER GOSPEL”). This false gospel will come primarily from “heresy,” a word originally meaning
“a faction, to split.” The enemy wants to use false teaching to divide and conquer the Church. Currently, two of these heresies are The Da Vinci Code and The Gospel of Judas. Satan wants to use The Da Vinci Code and other similar heresies to weaken the faith of believers and cause unbelievers to doubt the truth of Christianity. The deceptive lies of these heresies are designed to split off a section of the Church so they will be lost, and the Church will be weakened.

The Sure Guide — the Bible
Hosea 4:6 tells us that “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” The knowledge that will protect us from these heresies is not studying them, but knowing the principles and precepts of the kingdom of God as revealed in the Bible. In the vision, the lighthouse was the key to finding the right passageway. On the base of the lighthouse was engraved Psalm 119:105, which says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

It is the Bible that strengthens our spiritual man, protects us from sin, renews our minds, and illuminates God’s path before us. The best protection to prevent heresy from pulling you away from the faith is not understanding the flaws and failings of false teaching, but to regularly partake of the Word of God. The believers who will stand in the days ahead will be those who both read and heed the Bible, God’s Holy Word.

The Lord said that it was important to keep the lighthouse to the left. In Scripture, the right arm is the arm of power and of strength, while the left arm is the arm of tenderness and drawing near. In the days ahead the Word of God must be more than the weapon of our strength (grasp in our right hand); we must fully embrace it, drawing it close to our hearts, if we are going to know the truth and the ways of God.

The Gospel of Man
But there were two paths to the Apostate Sea, and the second was more subtle. The second way looked to be the real gospel, but while it proclaimed itself to be “The New Way to the Old Gospel,” it was really a new way to a new “gospel” — the Gospel of Man. As the end of the age unfolds, it is vitally important that the Church keeps to the ancient path of the gospel and does not compromise just to gain popularity with people. “This is what the Lord says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls’”(Jeremiah 6:16).

The “Gospel of Man” is becoming established in the church in America. In the vision, people were jumping ship to get onboard. The ships sailing down this “New Way” passage had to remove their cannons to make room for all the people. Think of that for a minute: lots of people, but no cannons, no firepower!
“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be … holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power. Avoid such men as these” (2 Timothy 3:1–5).

What is this “New Way?” It is centering on the desires of man and the hopes of people, instead of focusing on the heart of God. It creates a “People-Centered Church” instead of a “Christ-Centered Church.” This is what it looks like:
• It surveys the people and gives them what they want. Their leadership style is like the old game show
Family Feud. “We polled the audience: Survey says …” Never forget, giving the people what they want is how Israel got King Saul.
• The focus of the Church is to be “culturally-relevant,” which will later change into “tolerance.” Let me state this clearly. The early Church did not fit into its culture
. It transformed it!
• It empowers people and helps them get what they want out of life instead of seeking to release God and allowing Him to transform lives.
• It focuses on being people-entertaining instead of God-exalting.
• Their slickly prepared sermonettes are short, soft, and sweet.
• The services go smooth as silk, like a fine production. Well look at the second chapter of Acts. God messes up man’s plans with His plans and His power.

As God draws His Bride, the Church, out of her apathy, His desire is to bring her to true encounters with Him that will touch peoples lives and leave many amazed at the awesome love and power of God. But there are others who will substitute amusement to keep her engaged. How far they have fallen! Nothing was further from the minds of the early church than “we must make this interesting.” It
was interesting. As the church was birthed, all who had gathered stood amazed at the power and the presence of the Lord. According to Acts 2:12, “… they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘Whatever could this mean?’” If the church is to win those who can be won, it will take more than developing a better performance. We must return from amusement to amazement by lifting up the Lord — exalting both His presence and His power.

In these last days in which we are living, many will not endure sound doctrine and instead find entertaining teachers who tickle their itching ears with sights and sounds that pacify their desire to be amused. Good entertainment can certainly keep you engaged and active … just look at the latest blockbuster movie release with people standing in long lines to get tickets. Many a good Church has already begun heading down this path with the best of intentions, and unless they come back, they will eventually end up as part of the Apostate church!

The Apostolic Church
At the end of the vision the emerging churches came into the Apostolic Ocean. It was only then that the ships fully belonged to the Lord and had His full authority (symbolized by the new top flag of the Lamb).

A Bible dictionary defines the word “apostolic” as
“those sent out … therefore missionaries.” While missionaries certainly can be and should be apostolic, there are many aspects of being apostolic and the emerging apostolic Church that will go far beyond what we would classify as “missionary work.” We need to realize that the definition of the term “apostle” in classical Greek (the language of the New Testament) was: “an admiral commissioned to command a fleet of ships to establish a colony, or open up new markets, or extend the kingdom militarily.”

Look at how Watchman Nee defined the apostolic based on how the word is explained in Scripture.
“ In John 13:16 Our Lord said, 'The servant is not greater than his lord: neither the one who is sent [“apostole” in Greek] than he that sent him.' Here we have a definition of the term “apostle.” It implies being sent out — that is all … and that is everything! However good human intention may be, it can never take the place of divine commission. Apostles are not primarily men of special gifts; they are men of special commission.”

“Apostolic Churches are not primarily churches of special gifts. They are churches who have and heed their commissioning.”
Apostolic churches understand the commission they have been given, and go forth extending and establishing the rule and reign of Jesus Christ. They are actively engaged in what God has commissioned them to do! They are not satisfied with knowing what we are called to do someday. They are walking today in what God has commissioned them to do.

Accepting God’s Commissioning
These are days of great spiritual activity: apathy and heresy bringing apostasy on the one hand, and an awakened and aroused Church laying hold of her commissioning as she moves into apostolic authority on the other. We must have our hearts guarded by God’s Word and set our course by its Gospel — never compromising to gain popularity with people.

Let us stir ourselves and, as an awakened and aroused Bride, lay hold of the Lord and all He has commissioned us to do. Never before has it been as important for every body of believers to know the powers and authority with which God has entrusted them. We must know what we are commissioned to do, and be willing to labor at fulfilling it. If we diligently seek to know our commissioning from God, the Holy Spirit will gladly reveal it to us and lead us to the place of journeying forward into fulfilling all He has commissioned for us to do.


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