No Man Durst Join

by Glenn Conjurske

Preached August 21, 1988, recorded, transcribed, and revised.

“And of the rest durst no man join himself to them.”—-Acts 5:13.

I have recommended to various people throughout the years that if you want to know what real Christianity is, read the book of Acts. And if you want to have your spirit imbued with the spirit of New Testament Christianity, read the book of Acts. Take the first eleven chapters of the book of Acts, and read them, and read them, and read them, and read them, and read them, until they become a part of your soul, and till you just live, and eat, and sleep, and breathe, and think, and talk New Testament Christianity. As I said to you a little bit ago when I preached on the spirit of the apostles, if you want a revival of New Testament Christianity, it’s well you should know what it is that you want a revival of.

One thing that you find in the Christianity of the New Testament is that nobody dared to join it. Now I believe that if we are going to have New Testament Christianity, we’ve got to come to that place. We have got to get into such a position that all the world around about us looks at us and would not dare to join us. You say, “Well, that looks like defeating our purpose. I thought we’re supposed to preach the gospel and go out there and win souls.” Yes, we are: and in order to be in a position where we are capable of winning souls, we need to be in a position where the world will not dare to join us.

Now there are a number of reasons why that’s so, because God himself won’t join us or give us his power unless we are in that position—-and we cannot have New Testament Christianity without the power of the Holy Spirit of God. And we are not going to have the power of the Holy Spirit of God if we have a church that the world can look upon and agree with, or that the world can look upon and not find anything to disagree with, that the world can look upon with favor, or that the world can come in and join and not be afraid of. In order to have a church which God can join, we’ve got to have a church which the world can’t join. Now this is what happened in the New Testament Christianity that is recorded in this book of Acts. It says, “Of the rest of the people nobody dared to join.” It tells you twice in the passage that we read that great fear fell upon the people. The plain fact is that people were afraid to join. It tells you in the thirteenth verse that they dared not to join. This implies fear. Fear keeps you from daring to do something.

Now the rest of the people who didn’t belong to this New Testament church did not dare to join it. They were afraid. They were afraid obviously for one reason, because they had just heard a report that two of the apparently faithful members of this church had been struck down dead by the mighty power of God because they played the part of a hypocrite.

Now I believe that if we ever are going to be fit to do the work of God in this world, we have got to have a church which nobody will dare to join. For two reasons: for the sake of the people themselves who are doing the joining, and also in order that we may get the approbation of God himself. You know that the absolute necessity in the church of God is purity. Always in the people of God the absolute necessity is purity. When God sent Joshua into the land to take that land by force of arms, he told Joshua when he went in, “Every place whereon the sole of thy foot shall tread, that have I given unto thee”—-past tense—-“I have given it to you: it’s yours.” And he also said, “There shall no man be able to stand before you all the days of your life.” Now those look like unconditional promises, don’t they? God didn’t even say, “Every place the sole of your foot shall stand upon, that I will give to you.” He said, “I have given it to you. It’s all yours. It’s already yours. I have given it to you, and there’s not a single man—-not all those giants, the sons of the Anakims in the land of Canaan—-they can’t stand against you. Not all those people with chariots of iron—-they can’t stand against you. Not all of those people in the cities great and walled up to heaven—-they can’t stand against you. None of those people in whose eyes you were as grasshoppers, and as grasshoppers also in your own eyes when looking at them—-none of those people are going to be able to stand before you. Not a man shall be able to stand against you all the days of your life.” And Joshua went in with that confidence and with those promises, and in the second battle he was defeated—-because the sin was inside the camp. And all of God’s promises—-“Call unto me and I will answer thee and show thee great and mighty things”—-“Open thy mouth wide and I will fill it”—-“And all things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive”—-all those promises are conditioned upon having a holy church. If the church is unholy, God himself won’t join it. Basically you can bring this down to one question: What kind of a church do you want? A church that the world won’t dare to join, or a church that God won’t care to join? Because you only have those two choices; there’s no other kind of church on earth.

Now when I look around me on the face of the earth today, and in this country which I am familiar with, I have never known of a church which the outsiders would not dare to join. I have never seen or heard of a church which was such that people would not dare to join it. Now that is the solemn proof that New Testament Christianity does not exist in America today. Any of you ever seen or known of such a church, that nobody would dare to join? I never did. But this is the church of the New Testament. The fact of the matter is, most of the churches in our day are laboring to be on the other side of the spectrum—-are laboring to be the kind of a church that everyone will want to join. You may see the leaflets that they publish and hand out to the people, which say, “We’re the friendly church, we’re the church where your family will feel at home.” Anybody ever see any of those leaflets? The message that they’re trying to get across to the world is, “We are the kind of church that you will want to join. We offer love, acceptance, forgiveness.” You can see a billboard in this town that says that. Most of the churches are laboring to be the kind of a church that people will want to join. But if you want New Testament Christianity, you ought to get it in your mind that you ought to be the kind of a church that nobody will want to join, and even the kind of church that nobody will so much as dare to join.

Why not? Why will the people of the world not dare to join a New Testament church? Well, you look back at the illustration that I gave you from the Old Testament, of sin in the camp—-Achan in the camp. That sin was going to be put away, and Achan and all of his were stoned. Now people will say, “Well, that was under the law, but we’re under grace.” All right, you want me to tell you the difference between being under the law and under grace? Under the law, the people themselves had to take up the stones and cast them at those offenders and put them to death. Under grace, God does the work himself. God strikes them dead himself. But God hasn’t changed. God’s name is Jealous, just as much today as it was when the law was given on the burning mount of Sinai. God is holy, just as much as he was then, and God will not go with a church that is not holy any more today than he would go with Israel’s armies when Achan was in the camp with the Babylonian garment and the wedge of gold hidden under the tent. If you want New Testament Christianity, the absolute all-essential thing is the power of the Holy Spirit of God. You can’t get the power of the Holy Spirit of God, unless you have a holy church. And if you do have a holy church, you will have a church that the people of the world will not dare to join.

In the first place, you will have a church that they have no desire to join. I believe this with all my heart. I believe that if you take any sinner out of the world—-I don’t care how clean a sinner he is—-and put him into a holy church, the first thing that he would want is to get out of it. And the proof that the churches—-most of the churches that you and I are familiar with—-do not have the power of God—-do not have the Christianity of the New Testament—-the proof of that is that unconverted people can continue in those churches for years, and never get converted, and never be uncomfortable there. You take a sinner and put him in heaven, and he wouldn’t want to stay there. You take a sinner and put him in heaven, and he’d get out of that place as fast as he could. He can’t even bear the light of the life of a real, devoted, earnest Christian down here on earth. He stays as far away from it as he can. What would he do in heaven, with the glorious light of God’s holiness shining all around him? He wouldn’t want to be there. No more would he want to be in a holy church.

But it is more than just not desiring to join the church. It says the people didn’t dare to. They were afraid to. Twice in this chapter it says, “great fear fell upon them.” They were afraid to join. Now what is it that the people are afraid of? First of all, people are afraid of reproach. It tells you in Acts 28, verse 22: the Jews say to Paul, “for as concerning this sect, [that is: the church of God] we know that everywhere it is spoken against.” How many people do you know that want to join a group, whatever that group may be, which is everywhere spoken against? People are afraid of reproach; they want to be well thought of. They want to be esteemed and respected, and they don’t want to join a church which is everywhere spoken against. So they stay away.

Well, it goes deeper than reproach—-actual hatred. Matthew 10:22 says, “And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake.” People are afraid of being hated of all men. People don’t want to join a church which is hated of all men. (By the way, it says this, I think, four times in the New Testament: “Ye shall be hated of all men,” or “hated of all nations.”) People don’t want to join a church where they will be hated of all men. The fact of the matter is, a good share of the people who go off and join some liberal church do it for the sake of prestige. They do it for the sake of being accepted and well thought of by all men. Now if you set up a church over in this corner of town where everyone knows that we are hated of all men, who’s going to come flocking to our doors to join it? They won’t dare to join.

But it goes deeper than reproach and hatred—-persecution. II Timothy 3:12 says, “all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” If we don’t suffer persecution, there’s something wrong. Something wrong with our Christianity. If you want New Testament Christianity, you want the kind of Christianity that brings persecution upon you. Now who wants to be persecuted? You know, a little idea just struck me. Maybe some day—-I don’t think we can do it now, because I don’t think we have New Testament Christianity here in this congregation any more than other churches have it, though I believe we’re aiming at it, and I believe we’re on the right track to get it—-maybe some day we ought to print up a little leaflet, and say, “Join us. This is what we have to offer: the reproach of Christ, to be hated of all men for his name’s sake, and to suffer persecution.” And as a little leaflet that I read the other night said, “We have all these good, friendly, pleasant things to offer you; come and try us out. Come and see.” We could publish a little leaflet that says, “Come with us, and we’ll offer you this: To be hated of all men for Christ’s sake, and to suffer persecution for Christ’s sake. To suffer affliction and reproach, hunger, nakedness, peril, sword. Be counted as sheep for the slaughter, killed all the day long.” And then we could put at the bottom, at the end of this little sales pitch: “If you don’t believe it, come and see. Come and see if we aren’t hated of all men. Come and see if we aren’t the sect everywhere spoken against. Come and see if we aren’t sheep counted for the slaughter. And then come and join.” But you wouldn’t have too many people joining…………or would you? Maybe you would after all. We’ll take that up later.

But it wasn’t only the things that came upon them from the outside that caused the people to be afraid of real Christianity, and afraid to join it. Not only that hatred, that reproach, that persecution, that comes upon them from the ungodly world, but the holiness of God manifested is what they feared. You can’t join that church and be a hypocrite.

You know, one of the things that the whole world is talking about nowadays is the hypocrites in the church. There wasn’t anybody talking about the hypocrites in the church in the fifth chapter of the book of Acts. There weren’t any hypocrites in the church. If there were, the power of God simply fell from heaven and destroyed them. And they wound them up and carried them out and buried them. Do you want God to do that to the hypocrites in the church today? Do you want God to do that here in this church? I hope we don’t have any hypocrites here. But I want such a church as that we can’t have any. I want such a church as that a hypocrite would not dare to join, and if he did, God himself would put him out. I want to see a church which an unsaved person cannot join—-in the first place, because he’s afraid to and won’t dare to, and in the second place, because if some way he managed to get in, God himself would purge him out. We need a church that is hated of all men, reproached by all men, and suffering persecution, so that the world would be afraid to join it.

But there’s one other thing that the world is afraid of. They’re not only afraid of the results of holiness. In other words, they’re not only afraid of the reproach and the persecution that holiness brings upon itself. They are afraid of holiness itself. Now that is the very truth: the world is afraid of holiness. I believe there have been some holy churches in history, some churches that did suffer persecution for Christ’s sake, some churches that were hated of all men—-that were the sect everywhere spoken against. And one of those churches was the early Methodist church. They were hated by all men, reproached, persecuted, and people were afraid to join them—-not merely because of the reproach and the persecution, but because of the holiness itself. The world doesn’t want it. I have a book by Hester Ann Rogers. It’s a story of her life. She talks about this. She belonged to the Church of England

—-was bitterly prejudiced against the Methodists, just like everybody else was—-regarded them as fanatics or worse, but she was under conviction of sin. Under deep conviction of sin, and she didn’t know how to get any relief, and she didn’t get any relief in the old, cold, dead church that she was going to, and she continued under deep conviction of sin, but didn’t know how to get saved—-didn’t know what to do with her sins. One time an acquaintance of hers persuaded her to go hear the Methodists. She was filled with bitter prejudice against them. She didn’t want anybody to know that she was going to hear the Methodists, so she went at five o’clock in the morning (and they always had meetings at five o’clock in the morning). She went secretly at five o’clock in the morning, and the preacher preached, and what he preached went home to her heart, and she felt it. She felt the power of it. She felt the power of the Spirit of God in that meeting, and she came to a clear conviction in her own mind, “These people are the people of God, and they show in truth the way of salvation.” She said, “Now a new difficulty arose, because I knew that if I persisted even in hearing the Methodists—-to say nothing of joining them—-if I persisted in so much as hearing the Methodists, I must literally give up all.” If I become identified with the Methodists, even as a hearer, it will mean literally giving up all. My reputation will be gone. My friends will be gone. My position will be gone. Maybe my possessions will be gone. Maybe they’ll come to my house and tear down my house like they have the houses of so many other Methodists. Maybe they’ll carry my goods out into the street and set fire to them, or carry them home if they want them. Maybe they’ll beat me bloody and leave me lying in a ditch. Maybe it’ll cost me my life. But to become a Methodist will literally cost me all. Therefore people don’t dare to join the Methodists, or to join any church that has real New Testament Christianity, because it costs them everything they’ve got.

Now there is no Christianity if it doesn’t cost you everything you’ve got. Christ’s words are so plain on this that I don’t know how the whole church can read the Bible and mistake it. He says “if you want treasure in heaven, sell what you have and give to the poor. Sell all, and come and follow me.” He says, “if you want to be my disciple, deny yourself, take up the cross. If you want to be my disciple, hate father and mother, wife, children, brethren, sisters, and your own life also. If you want to be my disciple, you must forsake all that you have. Forsake houses and lands, father and mother, brethren and sisters. Take up your cross and die.” Real Christianity does cost you everything you’ve got, and if the kind you’ve got doesn’t cost you everything you’ve got, it isn’t real Christianity. My point here, though, is: Who wants to join such a group? Who wants to join a church which they know will cost them everything they’ve got in the world? If people have to look at us, and point the finger at us and say, “If I join with them, I know that it will mean literally giving up everything I possess—-my reputation, my friends, my relatives, my family, my possessions, my position, maybe my life—-I have to give it up”—-they would say, “I don’t dare to join.” Unless. Unless you’ve got a person like Hester Ann Rogers was, who was so borne down with conviction from the Holy Spirit of God—-and not only conviction of her sins, but also the conviction, “These are the people of God; they’re teaching me the true way of salvation. Yes, it is going to cost me everything I’ve got in this world to join this despised, hated, persecuted people—-but if I don’t join them, it’s going to cost me my soul.”

Now in Acts 5:13 it says, “of the rest durst no man join himself to them.” But the people magnified them from a distance. But verse 14 presents a strange enigma. It says, “and believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.” Now isn’t it strange that when the modern church labors to become acceptable to the world, and labors to become a church that offers love, and acceptance, forgiveness, and friendliness, and all the pleasant things that you’re looking for, and a church where everybody can come and feel at home, they don’t have multitudes added to them? But here’s a church that nobody dared to join, and everybody was afraid to go near, and yet multitudes were joining it. How did that happen?—-or is that a plain contradiction? How can you have a church that nobody will dare to join, and multitudes of men and women joining it? Well, you get a church that no ungodly person will dare to join, and God will join that church. And God will pour out his Spirit, and he’ll begin to send forth conviction, and pour out such conviction of sin that people will be left with just this plain alternative: I either join that church and lose everything I’ve got in the world, or I stay outside and lose my soul forever. And when that’s the question, some of those who did not dare to join suddenly do dare to join. And they’re not false converts, either. You don’t have multitudes joining the churches today, but of those whom you do have joining, multitudes are false converts. They never had a plain issue. They never had to count the cost. They never had a plain issue of joining a people who were despised and rejected of men—-a people who were persecuted for Christ’s sake, and who bore the reproach of Christ, and who were living in poverty—-who were counted as sheep for the slaughter—-who were living in peril, nakedness, sword, and all of the things that come upon the people of faith in all ages. Never had to look at a people like that, and say, “I will join though it cost me all things.” All they have to join is a church that offers love, and acceptance, and forgiveness, and friendliness, and good times, and picnics, and ball games, and—-heaven at the end. And so you get multitudes of false converts joining the churches, and the more false converts you get joining the churches, the farther away God moves. God would not go forth with Israel’s armies, in spite of his solemn oath and promise to Joshua that he had given him the land—-every piece of it whereon the sole of his foot should tread—-and that no man would be able to stand before him all the days of his life. In spite of God’s solemn promise to Joshua, when there was one unholy man in the camp, God simply said, “I will not go forth with your armies any more.” Now what is God going to do when you’ve only got a few real, solid, devoted saints in the church, and the church is filled up with unconverted, false converts? If you don’t have a church that the people won’t dare to join, you can’t even do the work of God. You can’t even present the right issue to the people that you are trying to evangelize. You could preach to them and say, “You have to forsake all that you have in order to be Christ’s disciple.” And they can turn around and look at your church and say, “Well why didn’t you, then?” And they can see plainly enough, “I can join your church without forsaking all that I have.” What good is it for you to preach?

Now, I believe we need such a church. We can talk about a revival of New Testament Christianity, but until we have a church that people won’t dare to join, we don’t have it. We don’t have New Testament Christianity. Now I thank God we do have a little bit of it here. I know that there’s a lot of people that really are afraid of us—-they’re afraid to come here. Not enough people, though. And not afraid enough, probably. But we want a church that people would not dare to come near. We want a people, as though we had a sign over the door that said, “Occupants have AIDS; occupants have the plague; beware; stay away; don’t come near.” And you can be sure that all the ungodly who are not under powerful conviction from the Spirit of God—-all the ungodly will stay away, until they are brought by the conviction of the Holy Spirit to the point where they are willing to make an absolute, unconditional surrender to God.

I have read the life of David Baron, who was a Jew, and he of course was raised, as almost all Jews are, to hate the name of Christ. Christ is “the imposter.” You use the words “the imposter” to a Jew, and he knows you’re talking about Christ. He was raised to hate the name of Christ. But he found no rest for his sin-burdened soul in all the rites of Judaism. There was no day of atonement. There was no blood on the altar. And he spent a long period—-I don’t remember how long it was; I think three years, perhaps—-under conviction of sin. Now these people are even forbidden to read the New Testament, but that weight of sin was upon him, and he couldn’t find anything to get rid of that weight of sin that was upon him, and in desperation he began to read the New Testament. And he read it for a year, and little by little his prejudice began to break down, so that he didn’t anymore hate the name of Christ—-he admired his character, and so forth. But still, he could never bring himself to receive Christ as the Messiah. But his burden of sin got heavier and heavier, and he was crying to God day after day to “take away this awful load of sin off of my back.” And God didn’t hear him, and God didn’t answer him. One day in absolute desperation he got down on his knees, and he said, “God, take away this awful load of sin, for Christ’s sake.” And the load was gone.

Now that’s the kind of thing that makes real converts—-when a person gets a load of sin on his back, and he can’t get rid of it. And he gets desperate, and begins to pray to God and say, “I’ll do anything to get rid of this load of sin,” and God says to him, “Go join that sect everywhere spoken against. Go join that despised, rejected people, who are killed all the day long and accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Go join that people who are hated of all men, who teach in truth the way of salvation.” And he’s likely to say, “God, anything but that. I’ll climb Mt. Everest on my knees. I’ll do anything, but don’t tell me to do that.” So God lays his hand heavier upon him, until the person comes to the point of absolute desperation, where he will get down in absolute surrender and submission to God, unconditional surrender, and say, “God, I’ll do anything to be forgiven of my sins. I’ll even join that people that are hated of all men.” Now when that happens, you get a real convert. You get somebody that’s really converted from sin to righteousness—-somebody that’s really converted from the power of Satan to God. Not half-converted or almost-converted like most of the converts that join most of the churches nowadays. Then he will join. He will walk boldly into that place even though it says on the door, “Occupants have the plague: beware.” And he will join—--gladly join—-that people that no one else will dare to join.

Now this is what you have here in the fourteenth verse of the fifth chapter of the book of Acts, “believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.” In other words, the Spirit of God was at work with such power that there were multitudes being brought to that place of unconditional surrender—-multitudes being brought to the place where they say, “God take away this load of sin, and I’ll even go join that people that nobody will dare to join”—-and multitudes came and joined. Now you want a revival of New Testament Christianity—-that’s what you want. The only thing you can do with a church that the world can join and be comfortable in it is make a lot of false converts—-maybe a real one here and there—-but you’ll have a hard time converting God to that church. God is standing outside the door, knocking, and saying, “I counsel you, buy of me gold tried in the fire, buy eye salve and anoint your eyes that ye may see. Come to me and get the real thing, and then I’ll come inside.” It’s an awfully sad state of things when you have the world inside the church, and the Lord outside of it. If you want a revival of New Testament Christianity, you want a church that’s got the power of God at work so that multitudes are added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women—-but in order to get that, you’ve got to be in a church that nobody will dare to join. Hated of all men; persecuted; despised and rejected.

You see, there are multitudes of Christians all over this land who are talking about revival and praying for revival. And I believe they’re sincere, too. The problem is, where do you find anybody that’s willing to pay the price to get revival? Everybody wants this fourteenth verse—-everybody wants multitudes joining the church, but nobody wants to be the church that nobody dares to join. Well, may I suggest to you that verse thirteen comes before verse fourteen? If you want to be the church that multitudes are joining—-added to the Lord, by the way, not just to the church—-then you’ve got to be the church that’s everywhere spoken against. I just want to keep that before your mind. How to get there is another question. I believe just a little faithfulness to the word of God will get you there. Be faithful to the word of God, and be diligent and earnest and zealous in that faithfulness, and you will become the church that no one will dare to join. And then multitudes will begin to join you, but they’ll get all the way off the side of the world, and all the way on to God’s side, and come to the point of unconditional surrender when they do join you. You won’t have to worry about filling the church up with false converts. You’ll have the real thing, and I want it.

Let’s pray. God, we ask that you yourself will be at work. Oh, Father, that you will purge unfaithfulness out of us—-that you will purge laziness out of us—-that you will purge a man-pleasing spirit out of us, and just make us willing to be the church everywhere spoken against that no one will dare to join; and teach us, Father, what we yet lack, in order that we might be faithful to the whole word of God, and that we might become the church that really exhibits New Testament Christianity. Amen.

Glenn Conjurske