Christian Life 

The Remarkable Replacement Army

Stan Firth is a retired school teacher and church pastor. In a new book entitled 'The Remarkable Replacement Army' he uses a period in Norway's history as a model for survival when denominations fail.
 


article first published 01/05/2011
 
Replacement ArmyTHERE will always be 'Christian' denominations. Humans are religious creatures, and religion finds its expression in organisations with tangible features defined by buildings, staff, roles, assets, rituals and artefacts.

However we are living in an age when we see many of these institutions collapsing, fragmenting or dying of attrition. In this context many are asking "Where do I go?" and "What do I do?"

The following prophecy is taken from a book entitled 'The Remarkable Replacement Army' and the author describes it as 'an allegory from the past - pointing to a vibrant Christian lifestyle for the future'.

Using the history of the Norwegian Resistance Movement which was born following the collapse of the Norwegian Army during World War II and the exile of Norway's king, Stan Firth applies the lessons and models of survival under threat and persecution and fighting-on in a radically different environment.

Prophecy from 'The Remarkable Replacement Army'


I prophesy that the existing regiments of the Army of the King-of-Kings (the various denominations and "streams" which currently make up the Church) are going to disintegrate, sooner or later, during the 21st Century.

Already I see many signs of that. Furthermore, although there are individual churches, and groups of churches, which at the moment are, to all intents and purposes, "fighting well", I suggest that even they, in the long run, will all but disappear from the scene. I prophesy that the days of the Institutional Church are drawing to a close. I do not believe, however, that the King-of-Kings is discouraged - even though many Christians view the deteriorating situation with dismay. I am sure that He has known all along that these organisations are not constituted to withstand the end-time onslaughts of the forces-of-evil.

At the same time, there is no way that He will leave Himself without a body of "soldiers of Christ" to further His cause on Earth. My prediction is that, as the 21st Century unfolds, the King-of-Kings will come to be represented by an Army of a radically different style from the Army which has previously represented Him. I prophesy that He will replace His formal Army (His formal Church) with an informal network of dedicated believers - a veritable "resistance movement" of committed Christians.


This 'Replacement Army' will have its beginnings in the many faithful 'soldiers-in-waiting' who have already moved away from their institutionalised churches and are, at this very time, eagerly looking to see what their Lord and Commander wants of them next. As time goes on, they will be joined by more and more of their fellow-Christians from within the declining churches, and also by new Christians drawn from among the so-called 'unchurched'.

In this new set-up, there will be no church buildings, and no division between "clergy" and "laity"(or whatever you like to call that very real two-tier system which always seems to develop in church circles). Such a change will not, however, result in believers who refuse to be 'under authority' - people who are just 'doing their own thing'. It will result, rather, in believers who have discovered, in depth, what the Bible means by its frequent references to Christians being "led by the Spirit". God will, without question, continue to use role-models, and people of helpful influence. Nevertheless, I prophesy that Heaven's own "Special Agent" – the Holy Spirit
– will be the key figure in every locality.

As with the Norwegian Resistance, the Church of the Future will be something of a "Secret Army" - low-profile but high-achieving. It will not have the public visibility which the Church has enjoyed in many parts of the World in past centuries. Nevertheless, as with the Resistance, fellowcitizens will quickly realise that earnest followers-of-the-King are in their midst.

The work of Christ's "Replacement Army" will be done almost entirely in 'undercover operations', by individuals or by small groups, normally working just where they are, within the setting of their everyday lives. But I prophesy that it will be effective work - work which will bring joy and satisfaction to the Lord, and much blessing and deliverance, of one kind or another, to many needy people.

In due course, the glorious day will come when, backed by a mega-force which is beyond our imaginings, the Lord of Hosts will return to His World. Then, at last, Evil will get its final come-uppance, and the 'Restoration of All Things' will be accomplished. I do not know when that will be, but my over-all prophesy is this: whether it be long or short, the closing era of the history of the christian church will be the era of the "replacement army".". Note

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Footnotes:
The Remarkable Replacement Army book is available on-line as a download in PDF form, but for easier reading it is also available at an affordable price in traditional form. Experiencing the workload of responding to questions put to him after publishing the booklet 'Custom and Command', Firth has now developed a web site to handle questions and responses to his most recent publication.

The above article is part of a developing series of articles designed to answer some of the questions that Christians are asking, and address some of the issues that they are facing in the 21st century.


Stan FirthStan Firth is a Scot, married and now living in the south of England. Prior to retirement he worked as a school teacher and also as a church pastor. He has experienced 'church' both in traditional and non-traditional forms.

Christians Together / Stan Firth, 01/05/2011

Feedback:
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Jack Thomson (Guest) 17/08/2013 11:47
Hi Colin
Everyone and everything is ungodly, except those chosen and set apart to be godly - by God and, in this day and age, those in this category are very few and far between..........
And I believe that it has always been this way which makes the standards given in Acts 2 & 4 easily attainable.
Like you I have been led though, and experienced quite a number of the 'isms' which have derived from the Reformation
And as far as the Reformation is concerned I do not believe that, successful as it was in part, it did not succeed in removing all of the cancer of Roman Catholicism........
And, like all cancers, if it is not completely removed - it grows back - as indeed it has done.(Priests, Christmas, Easter, Infant baptism et al)
And not only has it grown back under its own identity - it has spread to infect and contaminate everything with which it comes into contact.
It is my belief that all of the reformed 'isms'have become infected by the Catholic cancer and those with spiritual discernment have identified this new strain of cancer as Ecumenism....which is influencing every 'ism' under the Sun...from penticostics to carrycostics.....



Editor 17/08/2013 12:09
I will leave the above comment in situ, but just to say that this article is NOT about the world's systems (or even the deficiencies in religious systems) but rather about how we outword Biblical principles for the manner in which 21st-century disciples interact with each other and the Lord.

It will be much appreciated if further posts stick to that (i.e. this) topic. Thanks.
Jack Thomson (Guest) 17/08/2013 12:37
Editor's Question: How do we outwork Biblical principles for the manner in which 21st-century disciples interact with each other and the Lord.
Answer: Gods' words and precepts are eternal, constant,changeless, without beginning and without end - they do not fluctuate according to time, human culture, custom, fashion or whim therefore:
Christians are compelled, with the Holy Spirit's chastening, enabling and inspiration to pick up their crosses and follow Christ - and it matters not to God whether that be in the first or twenty first century.
Editor 17/08/2013 14:53
I'm sorry if I didn't communicate well. What I 'meant' to refer to was not a doctrinal or philosophical position, but one of praxis: not so much what of the Bible says on how we think but rather on what the Word says on how we apply our thinking.

I have another article which I am just about to publish on the theme, but meanwhile feel free to continue on this thread; especially if comments relate specifically to the book(s) mentioned.
Dale (Guest) 17/08/2013 16:49
I am very happy with the books so far in my reading. It has been particularly encouraging to know that there are many people out there that feel almost the same as I am beginning to feel about how church should be 'done'. It would be better, Mr Editor, if comments could come from people who have actually read the book(s)and, importantly, that the topic remains sharply in focus.
Editor 17/08/2013 18:15
"It would be better, Mr Editor, if comments could come from people who have actually read the book(s)and, importantly, that the topic remains sharply in focus."

I agree.

And that is (partly) why I am going to publish an article on a similar topic but from another (quite unconnected source) so that opinions can be made on what people have actually read rather than making comments in abstract.


John Smith 31/05/2016 17:48
I've only just read this article and I feel what Stan Firth says is absolutely spot on. I will get hold of the whole book. But my only comment at this stage is that I believe this has been going on for quite a while. An example: we spent our honeymoon in a tiny hamlet in Cornwall. My husband is not a believer but he was almost overwhelmed by the example of the church in that tiny hamlet. There were about half a dozen members attending a clapped out Methodist church. I remember how the Methodist preacher just wanted to get home and have his tea, and was not interested in the little flock, who stayed behind and sang hymns - almost as though they could hardly suppress their joy. They were so loving. Their faces shone. Another day, I saw one of them witnessing to another village resident. What I mean to say is, in their case, the "resistance army" has been unfolding within the Methodist denomination, apparently in the Methodist Churches blind spot! The Methodist Church is just - finished (especially in Cornwall) but this burning bush is occurring there.
Editor 02/06/2016 09:50
I was recently interviewed by a TV programme based on a recently-published report (The Invisible Church) outlining the growth of out-of-church Christians.

For those with access to iPlayer go to -
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b07d66dk/general-assembly-2016-episode-1

And access 8.30 on the timeline.

Also you might be interested to read the article 'The New Testament Church' -
http://www.christianstogether.net/Articles/366362/Christians_Together_in/Christian_Life/Small_Churches_and/The_New_Testament.aspx

Editor 02/06/2016 16:18
I was recently interviewed by a TV programme based on a recently-published report (The Invisible Church) outlining the growth of out-of-church Christians.

For those with access to iPlayer go to -
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b07d66dk/general-assembly-2016-episode-1

And access 8.30 on the timeline.

Also you might be interested to read the article 'The New Testament Church' -
http://www.christianstogether.net/Articles/366362/Christians_Together_in/Christian_Life/Small_Churches_and/The_New_Testament.aspx

John Smith 17/06/2016 15:30
I have now read the book. And I am flabbergasted!

The book is so relevant. And it is written with transparency and humility, and I love the way he presents it to the reader to judge for h’self. I felt, as I was reading, that I already unconsciously knew what he was talking about!

This book is very much a catalyst rather than, I think, the final word on the subject.
For so long, lone Christians have been positively hated by those “inside in the warm”. This book is a very much needed encouragement. I also think it is a very good manual about how to live the Christian Life.

I have a great concern – a passionate concern – about the way churches are just leaving so many people in the lurch, and stranded like jellyfish on the beach after the tide has gone out. This applies in particular, to areas where the Methodist Church used to be the main denomination. Christians have been left alone to fend for themselves, and ministry to unbelievers in need has also faded away. Shepherds who only cared for the 99 righteous sheep and never sought out wandering sheep.

I personally have had a lifetime of problematic relations with churches for a number of reasons. Either, I was ostrascised in my younger days because I was an unmarried mother living alone, and I was a blot on that perfect family scene. Or as I got older, it was hard to get to a church because I had no transport. (Churches across the land seemed oblivious to the fact, when buses stopped running on Sundays!) More lately, I have now realised that going to a church which is not doctrinally correct may be ok for me, but I am married to an unbeliever who is extremely supportive of my faith and always comes to church with me. Recently, in Cornwall, I went to a Methodist chapel, to Midnight Communion. I did notice that there was no confession, no mention of Jesus death on the Cross. But it wasn’t till afterwards that my husband exclaimed “did you see that Lesbian couple in front of us? They were all over each other!”. My husband was deeply offended by this exhibition ( I hadn’t actually noticed). So I’m now thinking that you aren’t safe anymore, taking unbelievers to a church because it might actually be a stumbling block to them!

This book is not only a practical help, but a huge encouragement to lone believers. The idea that God may actually have a use, a purpose for us is wonderful to me. I mean, I sort of knew that, but this book makes you realise you are part of a church, part of the Body of Christ, and Jesus isn’t shunning you.

When I was a child, about five, I read a book about a black sheep. The little sheep was despised by the flock and spent a long time on his own because the others didn’t like him. In this way, he got to know the countryside. One day, it snowed and snowed in huge drifts. The flock were isolated on a bleak hillside and they didn’t know what to do. They couldn’t get home because everything looked different. The little black sheep came along and said: don’t be afraid, I know the countryside like the back of my hand – I’ll lead you home. And the frightened sheep all followed him, which was easy because he was black and stood out against the snow. I have never forgotten that “parable”!

I’m sorry I tend to put such long comments on.

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