27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: (John 10:)
Fifty years ago, when I returned home from Germany having completed my tour of duty in the Army, my dog greeted me with snarling teeth and a barking dare that I step foot on his assigned territory. He recognized the uniform I wore and the canvas bag I carried, and identified me as the enemy, the postman by name. I called out "Cubby!" and the dog stopped in his tracks, and approached me with a friendly greetings. He hadn't seen me for over two years, so the person he didn't recognize. But my voice he hadn't forgotten.
We see in the Bible where Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and the prophets heard from the Master and recognized His voice. Even Balaam, a prophet of God who desired to (and eventually did) circumvent the will of the Lord, heard from the Master and recognized the voice. What did the Master look like? Does anyone know? Moses asked to see God, but was only allowed to see the after effects of Him. God, unasked, showed Elisha what He was like, and He appeared as nothing we would recognize. Jesus said He was the embodiment of God, and added that God is a spirit. We can't see a spirit, but we can know what God is like, the attributes of God, by knowing Jesus, and through Jesus we can hear the voice of God.
God had prepared a people He called His own for over a thousand years in order that they might receive Him when He visited them in person. Yet with all that time to prepare, they missed Him, their Messiah, because they were expecting Him to come from a certain direction, to be a a certain way, and to give them, the rulers of the people, special due and rewards. All they anticipated was not to be. Jesus arrived as a lowly carpenter, from the north instead of the south, and breaking what they perceived to be the laws of their god. Jesus was showing them what they should be, and condemned them for what they had become. In their mind this certainly could not be their king, their anointed one. So therefore he must be their enemy. So they tried to correct this mistaken identity in the only way they knew how.
Here it must be clarified that the rulers of the nation were not doing anything outside of what they had been told by the Lord. It was their job, their commandment, that a person who broke the laws be stoned. It was in their law that anyone who broke the Sabbath must be put away. It was in their law that anyone who taught a false doctrine be silenced. They were doing what the Lord Himself told them to do. The problem was not in what they were doing to Jesus, but in the fact they were not obeying the heart of the law, and that, as Jesus so vividly pointed out, was to have justice and mercy. God wanted to show, through them, His love for His people, and this the rulers and teachers did not do.
Jesus accused the Pharisees of desiring to please one another, to hear one another's opinion rather than listen to God. Paul said the same thing in different words, that is, the people were comparing themselves with one another instead of comparing themselves to the Lord, who is our example of what the Father expects of us (2Cor 10:12-13). When we compare ourselves to one another we pick someone who is lower then we are (at least in our opinion) to compare ourselves with. To pick someone higher in accomplishments would mean we must strive to better ourselves. Even those in prison compare themselves with someone who has offended worse then they have in order to justify themselves.
Do you do this? I'm afraid I have to admit to having this same tendency. It's one of the many struggles I still have to deal with in my efforts to reach the level of perfection Jesus and Paul tells us we are to strive for.
Hearing the Master's voice is not as easy as it seems it would be. There are many voices in this world telling us what we must do, what we should do, and what we'd better not do. And I find that no matter what I do, it's going to be wrong in someone's eyes. I might do what I set out to do (and what I feel the Lord has given me to do), and it will either be considered the wrong thing, or it won't be enough, or I will be told I shouldn't have attempted it in the first place and will go to hell for even thinking of doing such a thing. It is a very rare occasion when someone tells me I've done well, and almost as rare when someone doesn't condemn me for my efforts. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has experienced this phenomenon. In fact I suspect we all not only have experienced this, but we have done this very same thing to others, with or without our awareness of having done so.
We look at the patriarchs of old, and how they were reputed to have a direct communication with God. Adam walked with God in the garden. If there was anyone who would know the voice of God, it would be Adam. Yet even Adam turned his ear to of all things a "beast of the field" called a serpent. I suspect you, as do I, believe of ourselves that we would not listen to a serpent, especially if we have heard the Master's voice. Yet I dread to say I have listened to voices not coming from the direction of Heaven, and have (and do) willingly listen to voices telling me what I want to hear. I regret my having turned my deaf ear to the Lord immediately after my transgression, but my ability to rebel shows me that I have yet many areas in which I need to deal.
Other than the prophets of old we might suspect David, a man after God's own heart, that sweet psalmist of Israel, would know the voice of the Lord, and obey what he heard at every turn. Yet we find that such is not to be the case. We see where David, once he was no longer under the thumb of his enemy, allowed himself to do what he never thought he would do, both with Bathsheba and Uriah, and again later when he listened to Satan and numbered the people, causing the death of 70,000 of his loyal and innocent subjects. And in the case of Bathsheba, David was so far from hearing from God that it took a prophet to bring to his awareness what he had done.
We think our sins are our own business. Here we see that the sins of David caused the death of many innocent people. Because of his sins David himself didn't have to suffer anything but the lose of the child that resulted from his adulterous act. But God made it clear that David's sins would effect the lives of his sons, which we see occurred, and which eventuality resulted in the division of the nation David had worked so hard to establish.
Whereas it appears that David did not hear directly from God, it seems quite clear that Solomon did, at least in the very beginning of his reign. Again we see where God spoke directly to Solomon when He condemned his idolatrous and sinful activities brought about by his desiring to please his many wives and concubines.
For three and a half years twelve men followed Jesus wherever He went. Twelve, then seventy of His disciples had the Spirit of Jesus placed on them, and in His name they healed the sick and cast out demons. They, in essence, were Jesus to all those they preached to. If anyone knew the voice of their Master, it was the disciples. Yet time and again, though they heard the word Jesus spoke, they could not find it in themselves to understand what He was telling them. This is a blessing for us, living hundreds of years in the future, because if they had understood what they were being told they wouldn't have asked their stupid questions, and you and I would still be in the dark, and thinking our darkness was the wisdom of Solomon.
Only after the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles did they understand what Jesus had to tell them. From that time on they were guided by the Spirit. They were in tune with the Spirit. It seems quite evident that they were not in constant communication with the Spirit because of events that took place from time to time. But when the Spirit communicated with them, they knew His voice, and responded without question.
We read, and I think most of us accept, that in the end times, which we know these to be, the Church will have become apostate, that is, it will be in a backslidden condition. As we watch the news we see time after time where churches are falling away from the guidelines set forth in the Bible, becoming more and more like the world it is supposed to be separated from. For the most part it appears the churches are now accepting and behaving in such a way that not many years ago even the heathen world would not accept as appropriate. What was illegal but a few decades ago is now not only legal, but it's illegal to even speak against those who do such things. And venturing into the churches, we see that these acts are even committed by those who preach behind the pulpit, and the congregation applauds their actions.
Abortion, the killing of our young, which was but a short time ago considered by the courts to be murder, is now common practice. And we find, appropriately so, that many of the traditional churches speak out against this activity. Yet how often do we hear about this being condemned in our churches? We occasionally hear it said the world should be ashamed for having killed more innocent people than did the Germans during WWII, but how often do we hear it being condemned in the church where over half the abortions are performed on those calling themselves Christian? Is it any wonder the world pays no attention when we try to tell it how it's doing wrong and will go to hell for its sins, while telling those who are doing the same thing in the churches that they will go to Heaven, even though guilty of the same thing, because they are "under the blood"? We're quick to judge those outside our family, our church, our nation for what we perceive to be their failure to live up to our standards, all the while our standards are dropping faster than a lead balloon. What is it Jesus had to say about those criticizing others rather than dealing with a log jam in the eye? How much credibility can we afford a person who is trying to convince us we have egg on our face when they're standing in a cesspool of their own making? How weak and absurd we must appear to those nations (and churches) we condemn and consider to be primitive or a cult when they try much harder to live up to moral standards far higher than our own.
Today there are certain groups who serve as "policeman" for the churches. They investigate and report their findings as they seek to discover where the churches have gone astray. We of course recognize that this is not only a simple task since the churches are astraying from the straight and narrow faster than doves flee an ascending hawk; but their misbehavior is so obvious that the offending churches take pride in their disobedience to the Lord they purport to serve. Should the Church have such policing groups? I believe it should. We all need to know what is happening in the world of those who bear the same name we ourselves take such pride in. I for one am thankful for them, and I commend their action, but..... .
But, can we expect them to be successful in their endeavor?
First, let's look at the basis of problem that's being investigated and exposed. Is this an occurrence that has slipped by the Lord unnoticed? Some people will say that it's Satan's efforts to win souls away from the Lord so he will look better at the judgement. In the minds of many people Satan is at war with God, and at this stage of the game Satan is winning that war. Considering this perspective, let's see what that says of God, His purpose, and His Church. We say that God knows the number of hairs on our head. He sees when a sparrow falls to the ground. How then can we say that He is not aware that His Body, His Church is falling into the hands of evil? Does this sound reasonable to you?
Let's consider the possibility Satan is at war with God, and we are the pawns on the game board. We say that God is omniscient, all seeing. We say that God is omnipotent, all powerful. How can we reconcile this concept of God and yet say He can't stop one of His own creation from wrecking His eternal plans? Is God all powerful, or is He not? God foretold this very occurrence thousands of years ago. If He had this much time to prepare, wouldn't you think He could prevent it if it wasn't in His plan? God had Satan before Him when He discussed Job. He could have had His angels nab him then and throw him into a pit. Instead He gave Satan permission to go at Job and do his worst. Hmmm.
Satan, if Satan was the serpent, a beast of the field, corrupted God's perfect creation, the one He made in His own image, the one who He placed all His hopes on for His plan for the world. Yet all He did was condemn the serpent to crawling on the ground? And if this was Satan, and he's now a serpent, then how do we get the idea that he can enter into a war with God through us humans?
Satan will be thrown into a pit. Then God will release him for time so he can do more damage? What kind of war is that?
Satan was supposedly cast down to earth long before Adam and Eve because of a war in Heaven. Why didn't God cast him to Mars or Pluto where he could do no more damage?
I've written a book on this subject so I'll go no farther with it other than to state my opinion that God does indeed have control over all His creation, and what is happening today. This apostate church is no accident or out of God's control. It is part of His master plan.
Assuming my conclusion is correct, let's look into some other possibilities as to why there is an apostate church, and the need to investigate and expose what is happening in God's special creation:
Because of the disobedience of the Jews God punished them by sending them into Babylon. We might suspect that Babylon was something outside of God's control since not only was God's people nearly wiped out and suffered cruelly, but God's own beautiful Temple was destroyed as well (and no longer stands even to this day, since the replacement of that Temple was also destroyed). In these captivities and in these destructions, was God in charge? We find that every move undertaken God made it clear that it was Him who commanded that the trouble take place. And we find it was always those not of God's people who were used as instruments to punish those who bore God's name. In the beginning of the nation of Israel this was not so. God used His people to cleanse the land of those who not only polluted God's land, but themselves, the Canaanites as well, committing acts that God aborad. Then the Jews, once settled and in relative safety ("Peace, Peace." Are we, especially the Church in relative safety and peace? Coincidence do you think?), the Jews took to participating in the things of the world. Because they played a double-handed game, participating with the world while at the same time taking pride in being God's chosen people and playing at His rituals, God brought judgement down on them.
When we read the Book of Revelations, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and the other prophets, and especially the writings of the Apostles, we see where God will once more bring judgement down on...... .
Here we have a dilemma. Being Christian we assume this judgement is on the heathen world and on the Jews. But keep in mind, it's always been upon His people God brought judgement. If this pattern still holds true, and I for one see no reason why it shouldn't, then it's us, God's people, that the Tribulation will be brought to bear upon.
17For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 18And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? (1Peter 4:)
Consider, is it the heathen world or the Humanist who has promised to love, honor and obey the Lord? Have the Jews ever accepted the Lord as their Messiah? Who is it that appeals to God the Father when they're in need or want something? Of course you'll say it's not your church that God is angry at, that He will pour His wrath upon. But can you think of any church that might fit this criteria? How about those we call the cults? What about those churches that go by the title of Christian that doesn't believe in the Bible, or in the resurrection, or even allow what they call those "black lids of death" into their churches? Remember Jim Jones? At one time he was considered a highly respected Methodist preacher. Might he be one God is angry with?
We tend to believe that those who are baptized and go by the name of Christian are God's people and are saved no matter what they do after this ritual (baptism). Because of that we hear very few sermons that bring people to their knees in repentance. Fire and brimstone has given way to the love of God, therefore there is no need to preach or even have church meetings because supposedly everyone in attendance is already all they should be. Anything more is condemned as trying to work to please God, which is looked on as a sin.
12Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
15Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you. 16Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us mind the same thing. (Phil 3:)
24Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. (1Cor 9:)
Do you examine yourself to see if you're in the faith? Are you taught to press for the mark of the high calling? What is Paul talking about here? If Paul doesn't consider himself to have obtained, nor to have been made perfect ("complete"), how can I expect that I by having been baptized am complete just as I am?
What does Paul mean when he says he fears being a castaway? Surely Paul is baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit. If he's not, then who is? Why does Paul feel he has to work for something that he (supposedly) himself preaches that every Christian has obtained already?
5Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? (2Cor 13:)
Check the mirror to see if we have logs in our eyes. Make sure we don't have our own pants on backwards before we venture into the world to tell it how to wear its clothes. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. How much leaven have you removed from your over-baked cake? I've removed plenty, and I see there is still much that has to be removed that has been with me far too long and is putrefying.
Reprobate is the same Greek word as Castaway. The word means "rejected, worthless." Consider a fisherman going fishing. He brings a net load of fish out of the sea. He keeps the good fish of course, but what does he do with those that are worthless? Doesn't he reject them and cast them back in the ocean where they came from? Jesus said:
45Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? 46Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. 47Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. 48But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; 49And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; 50The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, 51And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Math 24:) (and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers (Luke 12:)
Notice that it's "servants" spoken of here, not the world. We hear that it's the unsaved that will be judged at the Judgements, that those who have taken on the name of Christ and been baptized are not going to stand before the Great White Throne. Let's take a look at this possibility. My doctor is a Bahai. He has been baptized and feels completely confident that he is beyond being judged. He's a great guy, but in your opinion do you agree with him? Do you know what a Bahai is and what they believe and how they worship?
We have two men, one not a Christian but he's one of the most honest and generous people in the world. In your mind he's going to hell to burn forever? Then we have a man who sits next to you in church, he's baptized, but he turns out to be Charles Manson. Is he, in your opinion going to live forever in bliss with the Lord? What does your church doctrine say?
Notice that the servant spoken of here will be appointed his place with the unbelievers. How is this possible? What happens to the unbelievers?
We say the Church won't be judged. Yet we look at the churches and see they have become no different than the world. We judge the churches, and we think God won't? We read a bit earlier where Peter said judgement begins with the Church, with us. Is Peter unaware of our church doctrines do you think?
Take note also that there is someone who will be weeping and gnashing teeth. It's not the Humanist who is mentioned here, so who is it that will have to replace their dentures periodically?
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. (Rev 21:)
What's going to happen to those servants who are appointed their portion with the unbelievers?
John is the one who preached the love of the saints, that God loves His creation, and that God came to us and died for us out of love. Here we have a fire and brimstone message preached by this same person if I ever heard one. Is there a possibility that it's not God's will to leave out the fire and brimstone? I think we'll find out when we stand before the Judgement Throne, and then I fear it will be too late to reconsider our position on the manner.
5And to the others he said in mine hearing, Go ye after him through the city, and smite: let not your eye spare, neither have ye pity: 6Slay utterly old and young, both maids, and little children, and women: but come not near any man upon whom is the mark; and begin at my sanctuary. (Ezek 9:)
17For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 18And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? (1Peter 4:)
When you read the above, do you get the feeling the baptized Christians will be excluded from this judgement? Or do you perhaps think it might be the baptized Christians who feels they don't have to do anything and will still be excluded from the wrath of God who will be the target of His wrath?
I have a question. Have you ever heard these passages of Scripture preached before? I haven't, and this supposedly in churches that preach what they call "full Gospel." I wonder why these passages are passed over or barely touched upon. Could it be that they don't say what the preachers want them to say? Naw, couldn't be.
Another question for you, when you read the Bible (as surely you do if you're bothering to read what I write), what do you think when you come across such passages as these? Do you dismiss them because they conflict with the doctrine of your church? Or do you ask the pastor about them? What does he say? Does it convince you?
Some churches believe in the eternal salvation of the saints, and others don't. And some churches are completely reversing their stance right before the congregation's eyes and no one says a thing about it. Do you think it strange that one church can have a full house of people who believe one way, and another church can have a congregation that believes just as strongly the opposite? And do you think it even stranger that a church in the middle of these churches can swing from one view to the other without a blink of the eye?
A final question: would you count any of these people a real believer? Or might you think of them as Sunday bench warmers caring not a whit what they believe or don't believe? And if it's the "believers" who will be saved....?
Have you ever been riding your bicycle (or running, driving or whatever) and had someone pass you as if you were standing still? Being an over-the-hill bicycle rider I have this happen to me all the time. One day I decided to test and see just how much faster a young fellow who flew past me was riding than I was. I could have sworn he was going twice the 14 miles an hour that showed on my cyclometer (speedometer). I found when I matched his speed he was only going 16 miles and hour, only 2 mph than I had been riding. I guess he saw me behind him because he kicked it up to 18 mph. Again I matched him, and he raised the bar to 20 mph. I had to turn off at that point, which I was glad of because I was afraid he might try for speeds that would prove dangerous for my worn out heart.
When people or situations are moving faster than we are we tend to be unaware that we are traveling as well. We as a nation look at those nations around us and think we're doing pretty good in comparison. We feel like we're the leader of the world (and we act as if we are, therefore we feel we're the world's judge and policemen), and believe everyone should think and act as we do. This philosophy is never more true than it is within the churches. We feel we're the only ones with the "truth," and if others do not agree with us, they are doomed to hell. We look around us and see the churches speeding their way to the pit as if they feel the first to arrive will be the winner. We look at ourselves and see how far we are from being as bad as the worst of the worst, and thank God we're not on the same road they are on. However, if we were to pause a moment and check out the road signs along the way, and look behind us in order to see where we were just a short time ago, we would see that we are in fact on the very same road as those we so stoutly condemn.
It is said that nothing stands still, if it doesn't move forward, it moves backwards. Living on a sand dune as I do I'm especially aware of how what seems to be static and firm is actually on the move. I live on a very small lot the size of a camp site that raises about ten feet above the street to the front of my trailer, and the bottom of my porch is higher than the roof tops of the houses on either side of me. Behind me there's a sharp drop off that leads to houses twenty feet of more below the porch of my trailer. In the ten years I've lived here I've watched that drop off move several feet toward me. With only about ten feet to go before my property and buildings becomes the property of the lots below me, I understand better than most people what Jesus meant when He spoke against building a house on shifting sands.
Everything moves. If it isn't moving forward, it's moving backwards, backsliding if you please. In this day of the apostate church where all churches are destined to be in a backslidden condition, it behooves us, not to deny our condition, but to analyze just how far we've come, and how far we'll have gone if we don't make a rapid and drastic turnaround. As long as we deny our drifting backwards, we will never really see ourselves for who we are, who God sees us to be. Peter says:
19While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. 20For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. (2Peter 2:)
And James adds:
21Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. (James 1:)
Consider these statements in the light of what Jesus said about the unfaithful servants.
It's the log in our own eye that's going to do us in. And we can't do anything about the log in the eye of others until we deal with our own blindness.
28Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. (Acts 20:)
Paul spent most his life it seems in an effort to keep the wolves from devouring the sheep. And I highly suspect that had he not been there to stop the devouring, the churches would have turned apostate shortly after it began. How much more should we expect that what we are taught today, after hundreds of years of Scriptural darkness, might well be at the very best a watered-down versionsof what God wants us to know?
Notice that it's from within the body, the Church, that the wolves will come. It's those in our midst that are our greatest danger, not those taking pot shots at us in the world at large.
1It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father's wife. 2And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you. 3For I verily, as absent in body, but present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning him that hath so done this deed, 4In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, 5To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. 6Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?
7Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
9I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 12For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person. (1Cor 5:)
Do you get the impression that Paul thinks a person can be stricken from God's book of life if they don't walk the straight and narrow path Jesus tells us we have to walk? If you don't get that feeling, then what feeling do you get?
Paul was attempting to stop the leaven from spreading in the churches when it was fresh and small. Today, after 2,000 years without a Paul, we see that the Church is not a cake with leaven in it, but rather the Church is leaven with but a flake or two of cake worth considering. John referred to this era of the Church as Babylon. And Babylon, as we know, will be destroyed.
The organizations I referred to earlier as watch dogs, policemen, are trying to kick a dead horse and get its attention. Paul, as we see, was unable to stop the rotting of the Church at the beginning of its downfall. Now that it is already crashing to the ground, I suspect it's too late to do much about taking care of the remains, but what we need to do is work with those who are entering the Church anew, the fresh and the young of the faith.
Earlier I pointed out how the churches, many if not most of the Protestant churches at least, believe that once a person is baptized they are eternally saved, so there is nothing that needs to be said to them. They've taken the first step, and that first step is all there is to take (in the eyes of these churches). With this attitude we might consider that trying to expose the faults of the churches to be a fruitless attempt since those committing the abominations that were condemned in the Old Testament are themselves saved in spite of whatever sin they commit. Why speak against abortion if the abortionist and those having the abortion are baptized Christians destined for Heaven in spite of their deeds? And with the concept that is prevalent in the churches that a child under the age of accountability is saved in spite of his or her misdeeds, the baby that was aborted is saved and guaranteed a position in Heaven they might have missed had they lived past the age of 13 or so.
Let's see if we can get a little more accurate picture of the state of the churches and those within the churches. First, if you consider the points I made above valid, that is, that everyone involved, if they're baptized Christians, are eternally saved regardless of what they do, then any alternative measures would be outside your acceptability. If you have some doubt, then let's see what other possibilities there might be.
If the apostate churches that are holding with the new philosophies regarding Christianity, that is, that anything goes except the classical view of Jesus, God, the Bible, and Christianity, if they are not in fact Christians, then what we see is not the Church involved with those things we disapprove of, but rather it's the world in sheep's clothing. This being the case, then trying to reason with such people using the Word of God and His standards is useless. How can we expect to play the same game when we're using different rule books?
Let's go back to the beginning, not the beginning of the Church, but to the beginning of our experience with Christ. Let's look at the Born Again process. We all (I assume) accept the notion that at a person's baptism they are born again and receive the Holy Spirit. Of course every church will add to this one thing or another. Some will stipulate that said person be baptized in a certain way, or in a certain church, or/and have said some words to the effect that they are sorry for their sins, and maybe that they sign a card of membership in a given church. The additions vary, and these variances are confusing even to the people in the church that abides by the obscure rules that I doubt anyone remembers or understands. But using the assumption that, in your church's beliefs, these people have indeed been born again and have received the Holy Spirit, then might it be assumed that said person be led by the Holy Spirit? By this I mean, if a person has the Spirit of God in them, the element that separates them from the masses of the unsaved, then would the Holy Spirit allow such a person to do something against what God desires of them without being conscience striken? If this be so, then what does that say of those are able to go completely against what God desires, and still they call themselves Christians, servants of God? Do you find something wrong with this equation? Or is it only me?
Again, if these people who are going against God's will are not even apostate, backslidden, but rather are the worldly disguised as God's people, then what good is it to try and police them and bring them back into line when they don't believe in the line and are content where they are? If on the other hand we desire to work with the Church, God's people, we have to remain in the field of the Church and try to stop the drift it is taking toward the world and all it entails. We need to strengthen our own hand, our own position with the Lord, rather than try to force those who do not accept our beliefs to go against their own inclination.
Look around you. Check out your unsaved neighbors, your church members, yourself and your family: what about those who call themselves Christian is different than those who deny such a categorization? I know some very nice people of other beliefs than my own, and I know some who call themselves Christian who I suspect even their parents are ashamed of them.
14Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (2Cor 6:)
It's so easy, and so common for us who dwell under the Christian banner to cling to and claim the promises we read in the Bible, but ignore the conditions and the warnings that go with the promises. Take a look at conditions presented in the above passage. Had you missed it?
The sins of God's first bride was that she mingled with those of her neighbors who were not followers of God and partook of their ways. In this age of the apostate church, what might the world present to us that might keep us from achieving the goals God has set out for us His people? Can you think of any? For myself, I can think of many. For instance this computer I'm writing on. I'm addicted to the computer. I've spent up to 36 hours on the thing, and not want to quit even after that length of time. Even today, other than going to church this morning, I've been writing steadily on this story for 12 hours straight, and it is now midnight, long past my nighty-night time. I'm an addict. I know people who (as I was, and far worse) are addicted to the TV. They have it going day and night, even when they're not watching it. Other people are addicted to their radio, or their Christian music. These, as much as cigarettes and liquor are part of the world whether we want to admit it or not. They are the tools by which Satan is able to introduce (and hold us to) the things of the world, which he is the prince of. Are these things evil in themselves? I don't think so, but for me they certainly are leaven in my life. Is there leaven in your life that causes you to keep at least one foot in the world where it doesn't belong?
Where should we be looking when we analyze the churches in effort to police it and bring it back to what it's supposed to be? What is it Paul, or Jesus would be pointing at in our lives while indicating they have to go? What is it that we're accepting as normal that is going to cause the next generation of Christians to take another step in the wrong direction that we have started a path toward? What is there in our speech, in our home, and in our life that would not be there if Jesus was to come and visit for a while? Do you know? Have you considered such a possibility? Do you realize that Jesus is in you at this very moment unless you be reprobate (a castaway as Paul put it)? We read that we're to watch for the return of Jesus. Consider, He has already returned by way of the Holy Spirit, and is watching us every moment. What is He seeing that He doesn't want to see? These are the things we might consider keeping an eye our in our personal life, and advising those in our church to keep an eye on as well.
Allow me to draw you a little picture. Your pastor comes to visit you for a time, let's say a year. He's with you constantly, night and day. How long will it be before you wish he would leave so you could do the things you have hidden from his view in order to impress him with your Spirituality? How much more so is this true of Jesus, in spite of our claiming we are anxious for His return? What, in your opinion, should you do about that program you have been missing because of the pastor's visit? What about the activities you enjoy but keep to your own confidence? Jesus is here, in our hearts if we are in fact a born-again Christian (not reprobate). What is He seeing?
Our churches have accepted doctrines that are very lax and divisive. We have turned the commandments of God into suggestions at best, and we ignore them. How about if we reevaluate our stances and do as Paul said he was doing, and that is to enter the race with gusto and press for the mark of the high calling? We have chosen to look at the very minimum of the requirements as set out by the Lord and the Bible. What about if we turn that situation around and try to learn what is the highest point we can skive for, and set that as the aim of our church rather than merely try to fill seats by entertaining the masses?
What if we were to spend our time dealing with those who are indeed a part of the body of Christ, who are trying to listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to be all they can be, and all that God wants them to be? What if the churches, those who claim to be true believers, was to feed the flock meat of the Word rather than a continuous nursing of pablum intended for the unbeliever in our midst and those content to remain in diapers? Do you think that might have any effect on the church? We're spending our time complaining about the withered ends of the farthest and the most dead of the twigs of the tree called the Church. What if we were to water and feed the roots of the tree instead and strive to cause the living and fruitful limbs of the tree to produce the finest fruits it is capable of? Jesus will take care of the dead limbs when He returns. In the meantime I think we might well consider making sure we're not one of those limbs destined for the fire. How about you?
20Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! 21Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight! 22Woe unto them that are mighty to drink wine, and men of strength to mingle strong drink: 23Which justify the wicked for reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him! 24Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. 25THEREFORE IS THE ANGER OF THE LORD KINDLED AGAINST HIS PEOPLE, AND HE HATH STRETCHED FORTH HIS HAND AGAINST THEM, and hath smitten them: and the hills did tremble, and their carcases were torn in the midst of the streets. (Isaiah 5)
12Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 13But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, AND BEING DECEIVED. 14But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (2Tim 3:)
9Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, 10Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. 11And such WERE some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. (1Cor 6:)
1Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. 2Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. 3For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. 4But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5For every man shall bear his own burden. 6Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. 7Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith. (Gal 6:)
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