18What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice. (Phil 1:)
"Whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached."
Paul has made quite a statement. He appears to say that even the corrupt views regarding Jesus being preached by many of the "Modern" churches who do not believe Jesus performed miracles or died and was resurrected is ok in his opinion. But that is not so, for we have this statement from him as well;
8But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Gal 1:)
Paul was not the only one who said those who do not follow Jesus should be allowed to preach. Jesus Himself gave such approval. When the disciples told Jesus how they forbad people who were casting out demons in His name, Jesus had this to say;
50And Jesus said unto him, Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us. (Luke 9:)
Does this mean those who do as Jesus does, and uses His name to do good works are ok in His eyes? Maybe, if you can get around this statement by Jesus Himself;
21Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Mat 7:)
So it appears that calling on the name of Jesus, and performing wonderful works in His name does not mean a person is accepted by Jesus. By this it would seem that when Jesus says such a person is "on His side," it does not mean that person is "with" Jesus unless he or she is also "On the Rock" of the Word with Him, and not in the quicksand of false doctrine.
The means by which we may hear of Jesus, that is, be introduced to Him are many. Some hear of Jesus through friends, or from the radio, or from tracts left on phone booths, or, like myself, having essentially grown up in the church.
Introductions are a good start. We need and seek introductions in our efforts to get ahead in life, and to acquire that which we desire. For instance, if we want to get a certain job, or join a certain club, or even meet that special man or girl of our dreams B we look for someone who can get us an introduction.
Introductions can get us to the door, so-to-speak. But getting to the door may get us no farther if we don't have what is required to follow through. That job introduction will do you little good if it requires of you that which you are unable or unwilling to do. And that tennis club will be useless to you if you hate to play tennis, or are particularly lousy at it. And that sweet lady of your life you have finally been introduced to will very likely turn you away if you do not fit her dreams as she does yours.
Introductions are not always sought after for apparent and supposed reasons. For instance, that intro to the tennis club may have been sought for the purpose of meeting wealthy members for the purpose of selling them a product, or even conning them. That lady-fair might be but another notch on the belt of some lecherous wolf, and that job interview may be for no other purpose than to spy out the competition.
People are "introduced" to Jesus by the millions, all over the world. We have weakened the meaning of the word "introduced" to such a level that this mere introduction is all it takes to say; "I know so-and-so, we're friends." How many times have you had that happen toward you from someone you don't even know their name? How many times have you said it of someone else? It has certainly happened to me, and I must confess, I have done the same myself.
In society we would refer to those we hardly know (and possibly prefer not to know) as "acquaintances." In the church we would call them "tares." These tares may be very active in the church, and very possibly around the church and its members all the time, but yet they never move above the realm of "tare."
Long before God planted His "Crop," that is, his Holy Spirit which is the Seed of Life, He had a harvest of tares. This first crop he drowned out with a flood, keeping but a few of the very best seed (not perfect, just the best available at the time) which He replanted in the fresh new earth.
Then, when the tares had covered the earth once more, God plucked again the best of these (Abraham) and raised to Himself a field of potentially good crop, amidst the tares, that He could watch over and raise to Himself.
But tares are tares, no matter where you place them or how much care you give them. Tares may look like good seed for a time, but in the end, they will mature and their true poisonous nature will show itself.
God seeks a crop of "Wheat" who will serve Him out of love. His ultimate goal is to have a Church, a Body of Believers who wish nothing more than to sacrifice themselves for Him as He did for us, and are willing to set themselves aside toward this goal. God, after planting, selecting, planting and selecting many times, always resulting in failure, finally planted Himself by way of His Holy Spirit into this earthen vessel called Man, and brought forth one perfect human being (Acts 9:15; Romans Chapter 9; 1Thes 4:4; 2Tim 2:19-21; 2Cor 4:1-7; John 1:1-13; 14:15-21; Rev 18:12; Heb 9:19-24).
Then God, using His system of allowing something to die, then replanting, planted that Seed in resurrected form into 12 men (Judas not being one of them) who went forth throughout the world and carried that Perfect Seed (the Holy Spirit) and replanted it, bringing forth a harvest of worthy Wheat.
But the tares are a hardy plant. They do not give up their ground so easily. In fact, tares being the self-absorbed, egocentric plant they are, seek to suppress and overcome the True plants.
And the True plants, being God centered, rather than self-centered, are busy serving God and the Church, the Body of Christ, rather than the man-made organism that calls itself a "church."
So God ends up with two "churches," one that calls itself the church that directs everything to itself, and makes itself visible to all the world; And He has the True Church, His Body of sacrificed believers who follow Him wherever He goes through the Spirit, and who happen also to be in that worldly organism called "church."
Someday God will call His own to Him. He will shake this world and this partial realm of Heavens called the church until all that remains are His Saints (Isa 13:6-13; Heb 12:25-29; 1Cor 13:8-13; Hag 2:6-9; Zech 13:7-9; Rev 12:1-11; 8:12; 11:15-20; 14:1-5; 17:14).
Balance. God has two churches: His own, and one that belongs to the World that says it is "friends" with Jesus. In His right hand Jesus holds the candlesticks: His Church; and in His left hand He holds a broken clay vessel calling itself the church. On His right are His Sheep, and on His left are the goats. But only the Sheep, the ones who follow His voice are His own, the ones who will remain with the Lord. The Goats are just tag-a-longs who will be sent to the same place those who denied Him are destined (Mat 25:31-46; Zech 10:3).
But can't God just wipe out the tares and allow His True crop to grow into perfection without being hindered by the phoney plants? Yes, He could, and He will at the end of this age as shown above. But in the meantime, He said this:
24Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: 25But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 26But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 27So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 28He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? 29But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn. (Mat 13:)
Balance. Tares are part of the earth, the World system. Tares are fully acquainted with the World, they feel comfortable and at home in the World, and do not choose to be otherwise. Tares do not want to serve God, except through ritual and minor "sacrifices" as long as they feel those "sacrifices" bring them a personal result. Tares direct God to themselves, rather than direct themselves to God.
Tares fill the earth, like weeds that take over a garden of healthy vegetables or flowers. Tares like to spread their own messages, believing theirs to be the only true message, which feeds their ego and gives them a feeling of superiority.
A butterfly flitters from flower to flower. Its purpose is self-serving in that it is only after the nectar the flower produces. The butterfly does not care a whit about the flower that is providing the nectar, only that the nectar is there when he wants it. Along with the nectar the butterfly takes from the flower as pollen that he carries from one flower to the next, allowing that flower to to reproduce into new images of itself. Without the butterfly satisfying his selfish needs, the flower and all its kind would wither and its species would die out.
The butterfly does not care what type of flower it receives its nectar from. It will travel from a daisy to a rose to a sweetpea, as long as there is nectar to be had. The pollen the butterfly carries from the sweetpea to the rose is of no value at all to the rose, but it is life itself to the next sweetpea it lights upon.
This is true of the tares as well. The tare may carry many false declines from person to person in effort to win converts to their way of thinking. And that tare will win many unbelievers to their doctrine, thinking they are also winning souls for Christ. Through this process the church (small "c") grows into a mighty field, albeit a field of worthless tares looking ever so much like the Church.
In the process of spreading the false Word, the tare carries with him or her a tiny portion of the True Word, and the Name of Jesus. On most potential converts this True portion will be wasted because the listener is of the earth, and not of the Spirit. He or she has not been prepared as was Cornelius when God spoke to him through Peter (Acts Chapter 10), nor Paul when God spoke to him through Ananias (Acts Chapter 9:). In other words, they hadn't been "called," that is, prepared like a cultivated fertile field
Tares spread the Word. They create a field in which God can perform His work. The message is being spread in spite of the handicap of it being tares that is spreading it. A storm, though destructive, carries seeds to distant places, and tribulation scatters believers throughout the world. But tares are also a trap to the new converts and believers. Tares try to convince their converts that all they must do is follow a list of practices, or a schedule of rituals, and that they have all that is needed or even desirable to achieve "perfection." This list may include wonderful things, such as helping others, prayer, and even extensive Bible study. And while these tares, and the churches they belong to, earnestly believe they are doing God's work, and fulfilling His desire for them, they are in actuality holding back the members from pursuing God's will. Paul, in his mind, was doing God's work by killing Christians (Acts 3:12-18; 1Tim 1:12-13; John 16:2-3).
The Temple, unlike the movable Tabernacle in the wilderness, had built around it, and a part of the structure, many cubicles. Although these cubicles were certainly a part of the Temple, they in fact had nothing whatever to do with the Temple themselves. These rooms were for meetings, for doing the work of the Scribes, for holding the money and the food necessary for the running of the Temple, and the like. But where the service to God was performed, and thereby the service to the people as well, was in the Temple proper. In the Holy place and the court yard, for instance, daily tasks were carried out; while in the most important part of the Temple, where God dwelt, there was only once in a year that anyone was allowed to enter. And that one time, only the High Priest was allowed, and then only after purifying himself completely. [See the study New Jerusalem for more.]
While God, and service performed to God was in the main portions of the Temple: most of the activity, or the common interests of the Temple was either in the portico, that is the steps where people talked and gossiped and rabbis (Jesus and the Apostles as well) taught their disciples and swapped theories: or in the cubicles where daily activities were taking place, like prayer, Bible study and other such good things.
But God was in none of these. God was in the Holy of Holies, and His work was being done in the Holy place and the courtyard in that His Church, and the Priests (who we are to be) were performing sacrifices for the people to Him.
The churches have trapped their people in the cubicles, and in the portico, and some even out of the Temple altogether. They have latched onto a small part of God's Word, yanked it off and built a wall around it.
I was reading an article about a big name preacher with a very large following. He had lots of wonderful stories to tell, just as many other preachers have. And he has had great success with his ministry, as have many others. And by the reading of it, there is nothing really to be said against anything he has done or said.
Yet, without knowing it, he was terribly off balance, just as are all the other preachers and doctrines I have read or heard.
In the beginning of his ministry this pastor was taught that Evangelism was what God and His Church is all about. He eventually came to the conclusion that this was not so, at least not for him. He was way off balance toward Evangelism, and that is what he taught, an unbalanced message toppling over toward Evangelism.
After a period of trying different things, he finally came to the conclusion that, at least for him, it was the teaching of the Word of God that the Church is all about. So his effort became the teaching of the Word. He wanted to make sure his congregates were the best Bible-read believers there were.
Isn't that a magnificent goal? Teaching the Word?
Isn't that a magnificent goal? Evangelizing the world?
How about a church with a mighty team of prayer warriors? Isn't that a wonderful thing?
Consider a church with a ministry of worship music. Wouldn't that be enjoyable and uplifting?
Consider a church who concentrates on tongues and prophesy and other displays of the Spirit. Wouldn't you feel the presence of the Lord in such a church?
Then there's the other extreme where the service is very liturgical, that is, flowing robes on the clergy, every word and every song and every prayer written out for you as you walk in the door. Such a feeling of successful worship a person must feel in such a service.
Or, imagine a church where they did almost nothing but perform miracles and healings? Wouldn't that be a worthy pursuit?
Are any of these wrong? Of course, according to your doctrine there will be one or two at least who are wrong, and perhaps even sinful. But according to the Bible, are any of them wrong in and of themselves?
Every one of these churches, whichever type they happen to be, even the church of abortion, has their Scriptures lined up to prove they are right and everyone else is wrong, often using the same Scriptures to prove both extremes. But, in all honesty, what is the Church that God wants us to have? Is there a way of knowing amongst all the hype and confusion pressed on us?
Yes, of course there is. But none of the churches will ever recognize what God wants of His Church for two main reasons: One, they are doing what they want to do, and that is why they are doing it. And two, because of the reason just given, they listen to their own desires and one another of those who agree with them, and not to God who they are supposedly serving and holding church services for.
Churches all talk about God, and they say they are servants of God, but their hearts are far from Him (Mark 7:6-9).
Here is another statement I found interesting by a pastor of a large church. He found that, while the traditional churches look to man as the initiator in our relationship with God, he found it to be just the opposite and that God is the initiator and man just responds accordingly. There is certainly truth in that statement. After all, the Apostles were called, and they just responded to the call. And Paul certainly did not initiate his relationship with Jesus. And the Israelites, Abraham, Jonah, Moses and so many others were pressed into service. It would certainly seem that this pastor is on the right track, would it not? But are you Moses? Am I Abraham? Were any of us chosen for some special purpose? If not, let's take a look at some verses that might more appropriately apply to you and me;
7Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. (Mat 7:)
25At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes. 26Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight. 27All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. 28Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Mat 11:)
17And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. (Rev 22:)
2Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. (James 4:)
Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? 8Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. 9Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. 10Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. (Mal 3:)
Of course there are many, many more, which I am sure a few come to your mind.
Off balance, from one extreme to the other, from man-does-it-all to God does it all.
This is man's way; black or white. Then is it grey? No, grey is just another choice. It is very often black and white and various shades of grey. But isn't looking at things through eyes of accepting more than one view Universalism? It surely can be, if the Holy Spirit isn't directing the investigation.
Part of this pastor's understanding of God doing for man and man being a responder is that because God loves us, He wants to do all He can for us, and therefore what we must do is receive the blessings, and just be thankful for them. And apparently this philosophy works in this pastor's life, and in the lives of many of his followers. I certainly hear of such an attitude being prevalent in many of the Modern churches. And I also hear of it working in worldly systems as well, especially so in the world of the occult. However, when I look into the lives of Jesus and the Apostles, and the early Christians, and the Jewish fathers, I don't see it at all. What I see in them is nothing but service to God with no promise of reward of any kind except tribulation, hardship (which they very obviously received), and occasionally some far off reward not intended for them personally.
Balance. Above I spoke of the churches being filled with tares, that is, unredeemed people posing as Christians. Do you find this to be so? Imagine my surprise when I read of a pastor who looked out over his congregation and saw not even one "sinner" to whom he might call to the alter. What a masterful preacher he must be! Paul must not have known about him when he wrote;
23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Rom 3:)
Nor John when he wrote this;
5This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
8If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. (1John 1:)
Where does a pastor go to find his messages that he is to deliver to his people? I would say that most go to the web, or to books especially written to pastors for just such a purpose, having a multitude of sermons ("canned" sermons) from which they may draw from. This is much like school teachers as they search for just the right lessons to teach. Of course there are some skilled and sincere teachers who are not satisfied teaching just what others have dreamed up, but want to develop their own lesson plan. This is commendable, and especially so when it is a pastor who has such an attitude. However, whereas a teacher can devise a 6 month plan that he delivers over and over again to a different set of students, a pastor will have the same listeners year after year. The way some pastors get around this problem is by moving from church to church when their set of studies run out. I can understand their frustration, but should it be this way? Was it this way with Jesus? With the Apostles?
The picture I get of Jesus is that He spent three years traveling from place to place and most likely preached the same message many times, as did John the Baptist. And as for John, he preached for 6 months before Jesus came on the scene, with but one short message: "Repent, and be baptized and prepare for the coming of the Lord." Can you imagine how many times he must have repeated that message? And probably standing in the same place? Yet he had many disciples who even chose to remain with him instead of follow Jesus.
And the Apostles, I wonder how many times they repeated themselves in the many years they preached. And many of them preaching the same thing as all the others.
But Paul traveled all over the known world preaching, so he wouldn't have had such a problem. He could repeat himself over and over and few people would have known the difference. Howeve:;
8And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. 9But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. 10And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. (Acts 19:)
Two years! And daily at that!
This brings me to my main point. I find that pastors, in an effort to do what is right by their congregates, work to bring them to "Maturity." Now, maturity is precisely what the pastors are supposed to bring the church to; that is, into the fullness and the stature of Christ. The problem is, what is the "Maturity" of the believer?
Some churches teach that "Maturity" is good works, or rituals, or obedience to the church, or faithful attendance and tithes giving. Others, with a higher goal, believe it is the teaching of the Word, or Evangelism. That is, the more the people know the Bible, or the more they go out and bring the people into the church, the more mature they are. But is this actually the case?
If Evangelism is the key to maturity, then the Mormons and the Jehovah's Witnesses have it all over the Mainline churches. And if it is the learning of the Bible, then those who learn the Bible upside down and backwards in effort to disprove the Bible are the more mature.
I, for example, used to listen to the Word all the time, even to leaving the tape player going all night, for years B yet I found that I knew nothing about the Bible whatever. I was learning the words ok, but the words settled on me like dew on the morning grass, and didn't penetrate.
Maturity, I found was not in what I learned, or what I did, or what I did not do. No, I discovered that Maturity came from something outside myself, something not of the cubicles of the unbalanced churches.
While one church focuses on Prosperity, and another on Love, even the love of God; and another on service; and another on Evangelism, and another on Teaching B the True purpose of God escapes them.
God is not interested in our rituals or our piousness (Mal 2:1-3; Mat 23:5-7).
Nor is He interested in our Evangelism for the sake of bringing people into our beliefs (2Tim 3:1-4; 1Tim 1:3-4).
Nor is He concerned with our outward displays of spirituality (Mat 23:13-14; Luke 18:10-14).
God is not even interested in our memorizing His book (2Tim 3:1-7); nor our acting like Jesus (Mat 23:26-28; Rev 2:26-28; Mat 10:36-40).
No, Maturity is not acting like Jesus, nor knowing all about Jesus. Maturity comes from having Jesus in us, and leading us through the Holy Spirit. This is and has been the aim of God from the beginning, and the purpose for which He created us and died for us. Anything less than becoming exactly like Jesus through the working of the Holy Spirit is mere "playing church," that is, trying to ride a teeter-toter by oneself.
26And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. (Gen 1:)
3But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (2Cor 4:)
12Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15Who is the image of the INVISIBLE God, the firstborn of every creature: (Col 1:)
14And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; (Rev 3:)
11He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. 12And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. 14Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. (Rev 22:)
1God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; (Heb 3:)
8But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; 10And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him: (Col 3:)
5Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? 6I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. 7So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. 8Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. 9For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. 10According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
11For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. 14If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
16Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? 17If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.
18Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. 19For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness. 20And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.
21Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; 22Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; 23And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's. (1Cor 3:)
18For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. (Eph 2:)
19Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. 20But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 21If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, SANCTIFIED, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work.
22Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. 24And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will. (2Tim 2:)
1Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 2For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. 3For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. 5And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. 6Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: 7Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. 8For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. 9There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
11Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. 12For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do. 14Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Heb 4:)
13Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 17And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: 18Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. 22Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 23Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
24For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you. (1Pet 1:)
6And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. 7And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations. 8And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. 9If any man have an ear, let him hear. (Rev 13:)
8The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, (Rev 17:)
4To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 5Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. (1Pet 2:)
26Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. 28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
29For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (Rom 8:)
20But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. 24Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. 25For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all. 29Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead? 30And why stand we in jeopardy every hour? 31I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die. 33Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. 34Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
35But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? 36Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: 37And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: 38But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body. 39All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds. 40There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. 41There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory. 42So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: 43It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: 44It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. 45And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. 49And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly. 50Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
51Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. (1Cor 15:)
12Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: 13And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished: 14But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which veil is done away in Christ. 15But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. 16Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. 17Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2Cor 3:)
16Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. 17And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. 18Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. (Mal 3:)
1And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, [see Rev 21:2; Mat 3:16-17; John 6:32-33; Acts 1:9-11] prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 6And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 8But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
9And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the Lamb's wife. 10And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, 11Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; 12And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 13On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. 14And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. 16And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. 17And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. 18And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. 19And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; 20The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. 21And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. 22And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. 23And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. 24And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. 25And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. 26And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. 27And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life. (Rev 21:)
1And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: 4And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. 5And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever(Rev 22:)
4To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 5Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: (1Pet 2:)
The Saints are to be "Precious Stones" laid upon the sure Foundation, with Jesus as the Chief Cornerstones and the twelve Apostles as the foundation. Should this structure that we are to be a part of be any less quality than that of the Foundation? According to the churches it is to be nothing but clay and stubble.
But surely there must be genuine Jewels some where in the church of tares, wolves and clay, isn't there? Yes, and the Bible tells us about them. Here is a prime example.
1And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will show unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: [see Rev 14:1-3; 1:12-15; John 3:5; 4:10; 7:38; Rev 21:6; 22:1; 22:17] 2With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. 3So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: 5And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS [see Prov 6:16-19; 11:1; 12:22; 15:8-9,26; 16:12; 28:9; Isa 1:11-22; Titus 1:15-16] OF THE EARTH. 6And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration. (Rev 17:)
There they are! Bedecking the wondrous institution calling itself the "church." But what are the "blasphemous" things this "church" is saying that sounds so wonderful they are being held in a golden cup? Oh, go on and guess. I'm sure you have some ideas. But in case nothing is coming to mind, here's a few starters:
17Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment? (Mal 2:)
1And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you. 2If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart. 3Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts [see Isa 64:6; 1Cor 11:23-29]; and one shall take you away with it. (Mal 2:)
6A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? 7Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible. [see Luke 11:3; John 6:33,48; James 4:3; Phil 4:11] 8And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? [see Rom 12:1; 1Pet 1:16; Mat 7:17; 2Cor 2:17; 2Tim 3:8; Jude 12-13] offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts. (Mal 1:)
15I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. (Rev 3:)
14Wherefore hear the word of the LORD, ye scornful men, that rule this people which is in Jerusalem. 15Because ye have said, We have made a covenant with death, and with hell are we at agreement; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, it shall not come unto us: for we have made lies our refuge, and under falsehood have we hid ourselves: 16Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. 17Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. 18And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it. 19From the time that it goeth forth it shall take you: for morning by morning shall it pass over, by day and by night: and it shall be a vexation only to understand the report. 20For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it. 21For the LORD shall rise up as in mount Perazim, he shall be wroth as in the valley of Gibeon, that he may do his work, his strange work; and bring to pass his act, his strange act. 22Now therefore be ye not mockers, lest your bands be made strong: for I have heard from the Lord GOD of hosts a consumption, even determined upon the whole earth. (Isa 28:) [see Rev 6:15]
Of course there are many ways to explain away what is presented here, and the many other such verses, but I will leave that up to you and your pastor. And who knows? You might be right? We will know for sure when we stand before the Great White Throne.
As for me, I look to history for understanding. There used to be a concept in this country that said: "If you don't learn from history, you are bound to repeat it." But that was before the schools and government started changing history and ignoring it.
The Israelites in the wilderness thought they knew best, built themselves a calf and rebelled against Moses. Only 2 out of the millions that left Egypt entered into the Promised Land.
The Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Priests (the "church" leaders of their day) thought for sure they had all the answers and that Jesus and the Apostles didn't know what they were talking about.
The Catholic church knew for sure they had the one and only answer (and still do).
The many "Cults" are absolutely sure they have the answer, all different.
And the estimated 33,000 Protestant denominations are all sure they have the answer.
And I think I know where the True Answers are.
25These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. 26But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. (John 14:)
25In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:)
25There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (Prov 16:)
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