Last year, my father-in-law gave me a copy of a book called, The Mystery of God: Christ All and in All by Manfred Haller. It is a rich work that dwells on the mighty subject of God’s eternal desire. Below is an excerpt from chapter 20, “The Fall of the Church”.
There are plenty of people today who condemn the fallen Christian system, making liberal use of terms like, “local body,” and “restoration,” all the while not knowing what they are talking about. Movements have shot up everywhere which maintain that they have rediscovered the secret formula of the original church, thinking they know what we need to do to make the church as it was “in the Bible.” […]
Before we can begin discussing the church’s restoration, we must first deal with its fall. The New Testament Scriptures hint at the possibility of such a fall, but not where most would expect it. […] Let us consider the verse in Revelation, “Remember then from what heights you have fallen!” (Rev. 2:5) This was said to the church in Ephesus. […]
In Paul’s letter, the church is seen and presented as being in “heavenly places.” We read of her there as being at the same lofty level as the exalted Christ—she has been raised up with Him, and seated in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6). Yes, she is depicted in her unity with the ascended Christ whereby the church is portrayed as Eve with regard to Adam, being bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. In the Spirit’s message to the church at Ephesus, “First love” is named and the church stands as having given up her first love. The heights from which she apparently has fallen are the heights of her first love! What other meaning could there be than the oneness, the complete identity of the body with her Lord in heaven—the exclusiveness with which she belonged to Him, manifested Him, found herself in Him, and oriented herself in all things to Him?
Christ and the church are absolutely and indivisibly one. The church is utterly absorbed in the experience of the risen and present Lord. She is directed by Him and held together by Him; and the very length and breadth of her is the person of Christ Jesus. Her authority is His, her mind is His mind, and her holiness His holiness. She has nothing of her own. […]
Very few churches today would be able to claim the same standard attributed to Ephesus in Revelation 2. Outwardly of course, that church was fully intact, a model community without a single identifiable fault. Still she was a fallen church. Her fall did not come through some error in teaching or morality; in fact she earned quite high marks in those areas. No—something had changed on the inside. She had loosed herself inwardly from the spiritual reality of the body. She no longer oriented herself on Christ Himself. The central issue was no longer that Christ be formed in her, for she had found her own form. […]
A church which no longer represents and embodies Christ, no longer manifesting the exalted Lord, has lost its purpose in God’s eyes and has fallen—sunken to the level of merely an earthly body, one organization among many, many others. Herein lies the crux of all the Christian aberrations, divisions and factions, the mainspring of all the various confessions, sects and denominations in Christendom. It was not questions of doctrine which brought on the church’s dizzying fall from grace. Rather it was the loss of the true essence and existence of the church spiritually “Christ all and in all.” […]
How many communities, churches, and institutions are merely the ruins of former spiritual awakenings! Many of the ruins seem to be solid, but the one with eyes to see knows how hollow the whole business is. It isn’t Christ who is manifested there, not a body whose organic members function concordantly—rather they are systems rigged by man, and huge amounts of material and human energy are consumed in keeping them “alive.” This began with the abandonment inwardly of the spiritual life and subsistence of the New Testament church: Christ is no longer all in all. The church is no longer the corporate body of Christ Himself; she has become a coalition “for” Christ. She “stands for the will of Christ, she is His apologist on earth, or whatever other designation one might find to fit. May the Lord open our eyes to see how terribly the enemy has succeeded in deforming the New Testament church.