I Think I Am?
27Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 28And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. (1Cor 12:)
I hear Pastors preach messages that bring me to tears they are so well spoken. I hear Pastors who can give a sermon that is right on when it comes to seeing the Scriptures in a true light. I hear Pastors who encourage their congregation to repent and get themselves straight with the Lord or there will be consequences to be paid.
But none of these are my concern.
When I teach a class, I teach to those who have signed on as students wanting to learn. I don't teach as if to someone who wanders off the street.
The Bible also does not speak to those of the World, nor to the scoffers, but to the Body of Christ, the church.
But while the Bible speaks to the Church, it also speaks of, and warns against those who have joined into the Church as if one of them, and tries to undermine the Church.
The Bible also speaks to those who are sincerely working to further the Church and direct the Church to the Lord.
It is those Ministers who are seeking the best for their flock, and who are striving to seek the Lord to whom I write.
An usher in the Church responds to, and follows the direction of the Pastor. He does not collect an offering whenever he feels like it, but waits until he is told to collect the offering.
Depending on the church, a Pastor does not rule the church, but is either a part of a headship who rules, or is hired by that headship. In other words, the Pastor is not an emperor, but he is part of the body the same way as is the usher.
Another in the Church body is given the power of Prayer. That person can move a congregation with their prayers or their singing.
Aaron, as the Minister to the people, or the Pastor if you will, although he spoke the words of God, he was unable on his own to see or to hear the words of God. Before he spoke to the people, he had to wait until Moses told him what God wanted him to say.
We have Elijah, and Elisha, and Ezekiel: all the way up to the last of the Old Testament Prophets, John the Baptist.
Not content with merely ignoring the words of the Prophets, thereby the Words of God, these leaders found it necessary to persecute, and even try and kill the Prophet sent to them.
And we find in the Old Testament that the more corrupt and self-directed a leader of the congregation was, the more power they held.
Again, we find this so in the time of Jesus. Although we know that not all Pharisees and Rulers were in opposition to Jesus, and in fact some were secretly His disciple, their fear of the corrupt and the most powerful of the Pharisees kept the believers in the background.
Elijah, hiding for fear of his life because as he saw it everyone was corrupt and out to kill him, was told by God that He had 7,000 reserved in Israel who did not fit this category.
For fear of falling into this same trap, and for even more fear that their parishioners will fall away from the "truth" of the Gospel, parameters are set within which all must remain.
On the surface, this sounds like the correct procedure to follow. However, if this were true, then there would only be one church and set of beliefs that have existed since the founding of the Church. Seeing that each denomination has seen fit somewhere in its history to break away from its parent church and the set of beliefs it follows, this is essentially proven a misnomer.
We, those of us who "supposedly" do not use extraBiblical texts, acknowledge the fact that the Bible can not be altered or reinterpreted. Because of this fact, whatever doctrines are originally established for a church or denomination remains essentially the same until it is changed (consider the Lutheran and the Episcopal churches of recent days).
Due to these tight restrictions in any church, all gifts of the Spirit (except tongues in many) are allowed and encouraged. This is especially true of the "mouth," that being the preaching and the teaching of the Word.
However, there is one gift not allowed in any of the churches because it does not fit into the parameters of the church doctrines, and that is the ears and the eyes of the Church.
As I have shown above, it is evident that all churches believe in new enlightenment on the Scriptures, just as long as those enlightenments remain securely in the boundaries of their doctrines.
God does not see boundaries. Nor does He regard our doctrines, regardless of how fine we think them to be. Jesus made it perfectly clear what God thinks of the traditions and the doctrines of men.
Of course we assume this to mean Worldly knowledge will increase. But this is not necessarily so.
Before the twentieth century little thought was given to the end times or the Book of Revelation because nothing existed that seemed to indicate such events could ever take place. Today this is no longer true. In fact, we now have so much evidence that everything of eschatology can take place, we wonder why it hasn't happened already.
New situations create new a awareness. And new a awareness causes us to reevaluate what we know, and to concentrate our attention on elements of the Bible that we passed over in previous readings.
Someone who has been diagnosed with cancer suddenly finds themself gleaning every word they can regarding hope, healing and prayer.
The Modern World, in spite of our thinking otherwise, is no different. When the Latter Rains had passed, so had the determination to serve God and follow the road of perfection. The sermons lost their flare and their fire, and became directed toward filling the pews, and to this end: what God could do for Man, rather than what Man must do for God.
When little is expected, little is forthcoming.
After a storm, things begin to rot.
Unfortunately, when confronted with an environment of corruption, we tend to accept our circumstances, and to make the best of what we have available. Over time, we become so accustomed to making do with what we have, that we create a home for ourselves in that environment.
Wives continuing to live in an abusive situation; The little boy found locked in a box and left in the desert by his parents, who refused to be taken away from his parents; The Catholic church and its history of devolvement into corruption. These illustrate man's nature to reach to the bottom when released from tight restrictions and given no further light to follow, or who deny the light they are given. Again: Jesus, the Light, rejected by those in leadership over His Church.
In the natural we move in the direction we are facing. If we stare at the refrigerator we are trying to avoid, we will eventually end up in the refrigerator. As we concentrate on the World and its problems, we become unaware that we are slowly rolling toward the same predicament as the World has fallen into. We see churches daily falling farther and farther from the standards they once set, and deeper into waters they cried out against in the not to distance past. And we wonder how this could happen, not aware that we are not far behind these very same churches.
The frog in the boiling pot.
And if that step is taken by a leader, the Pastor, the one who is proclaiming the dictates of God, where must we expect their listeners to find themselves?
My concern is that those who are ministering to God's people are not seeking the Truth, but are content to preach that which is easy, that which has been established and acceptable by others rather than allow the Holy Spirit to direct them into Truth.
It only takes a pebble to knock a bicycle off the road. Train robbers used a slight loosening of spikes, unseen by the engineer, to derail a mighty freight train. A tiny defective seal explodes a rocket ship.
In this same way what might seem as a Pastor's minor "explanation" of the Word, a clarification of God's meaning, could very easily be seen by the congregation as God's true meaning. We use this method, called fables or nursery rhymes, but what the Bible calls "old wive's tales" to explain difficult concepts to children.
One little alteration of the truth leads to another. Eventually rather than clarification of the Word, we have entertainment presented to the congregation under the guise of God's Word. As an excellent example of how extreme this can become, and how sold even the Pastors can become on obvious myths, read: Fantasies, Fables and Traditions: Lucifer, the Making of a Doctrine.
Realize, that if any part of a concept is a falsehood, then the validity of all other doctrines held by the preacher of such a doctrine comes into question. Those who question the veracity of the Pastor or church doctrine, yet remain a part of that church, will likely give little credence to anything stated by the church or the Bible. Those who recognize the falsehood of what they hear, but do not question it, will have the same regard for the Scriptures as a child does for the Easter bunny. And those who do not recognize at all the false claims of the church are not listening or simply don't care because they are not truly a part of the body, but rather they are merely doing what they see as their duty by attending church.
Who are you preaching to?
Jesus berated the elders of the Church, not for murder or theft (which He well could have), but for the washing of cups and the wearing of enlarged borders: small things that helped cover the Truth:
I love a good sermon, and some of the best I have heard were by preachers who spoke with a bent toward the comedic. However, when it is the Pastor who is giving his sermon who induces the laughter, I sometimes cringe.
Laughter and applause causes our ego to desire more of the same. For this reason the sermons are very likely to take on an air of entertainment rather than the Word. Also, a bit of humor can steal the nugget of the message that is being preached from the listeners of that message.
Along with this, while the Pastor is professing that his sermons are coming from God Himself, they are obviously being written by man when they induce in the hearer that which brings forth human responses rather than the Spiritual.
The preacher of such sermons are very likely to fall into a habit of preaching to those with "itching ears" rather than to those seeking the Truth.
Does the above mean I am against levity? Not at all. But it should always be kept in mind the reason for the body coming together: not to satisfy the flesh, but rather to be with one another in the Spirit.
Bible readings and singing performed by the choir and the laity that is applauded robs the effort of its Godly intent. Is the song and the reading to the Lord? Or is it to the congregation? If the intent is that it should be to the Lord, then the applause of the congregation becomes its reward.
I have seen churches where applause has become such a mechanical practice that even slide presentations and movies were applauded by the entire congregation. This inert behavior that is a part of just about every church: canned sermons, sleepy-eyed attendees, ritualistic readings from booklets and bulletins, domination of social events, and many other such "niceties" have reduced the churches to no more than a PTA meeting or a talent show.
We are told to beware of leaven. We think of leaven as sin. And sin we think of blatant disobedience to God. But sin is "missing the mark." As a Pastor, what is the mark you are to hit? Are you deviating at all from the purpose you are given to accomplish? And just what is that purpose you have been given? Have you bothered to define it?
This is also true of their reading of the Bible. Although a parishioner may read the Bible many times over, what they read is not what is before them, but rather they read into it what they have been taught by the church the passage's meaning.
I am sure you, as a Pastor, have seen many preachers and leaders of various churches who have been indoctrinated in this same way by a school they have attended, or by the church they grew up in. You recognize the error in their thinking.
But, have you considered that you have also been so influenced by your own circumstances? Have you bothered to reevaluate all you have been taught in the Light of the Lord's guidance through the Holy Spirit?
The log and the Mote. Our physical eyes face outward and judge what they see; but our Spiritual eyes look inward and judges what It sees. Which eyes are you making use of?
To begin with, I have rarely heard a preacher who hasn't intimated in their sermon that everyone (at least the members) in the congregation is among the saved. Therefore, rather than preach a sermon intended to convict a lost sinner and bring them to repentance (what used to be called a fire and brimstone message), the preacher gives either an interesting story, usually from the Bible, or presents something like a page from a self-help magazine.
The Bible teaches that we are to become like Jesus: that we are to be lead by the Holy Spirit: that we are to learn to listen to the voice of the Lord. The Bible does not teach that we are to serve the church. If we are serving the Lord, then we will be given a part in the body, a place where we may serve the body of Christ. But serving the church is not to be our goal. Following the Lord is the goal. What we do should be the fruit of our labors: not our goal.
Telling the congregation that lack of evidence of their salvation indicates that they were likely not sincere in their confession of faith, therefore not saved, flies in the face of the concept of "Once saved, always saved." If a person who is truly saved can backslide into perdition and still be saved; yet a person who is not truly saved in spite of the fact that they are doing all that is required of them: then how is a person to know which category they fit in to? The sinner who was never saved will likely not worry about their sins because they have confidence that they were saved when they were not because they have been taught such by the preaching of eternal security. Meanwhile, the one who was saved worries about their sin, then feels guilty about their worrying because worry is a sign of a lack of faith and confidence in their salvation.
This should not be the case if the one truly saved has in fact received the Holy Spirit. One who is of the Spirit will be convicted of that which the Lord desires the believer to be rid of, and instructed toward that goal. Guilt then will become a motivator, not a state in which one lives. This is in contrast to the one who was not truly saved, in that such a one will feel no burden to be free of their lusts (which is all too commonly taught in the churches, that is: that we should not accept guilt because God desires us to be free of guilt.)
Converts should be taught that they should pray for the Holy Spirit to inspect them and disclose their failings so they can be uprooted, rather than be taught that suddenly they have become perfect just as they are.
Remember, I am looking at the Doctrine of Security, as well as all other doctrines, from the point of view of the listener, not what the Pastor means.
Regardless of whether or not the doctrine is true, it is a one difficult at best to uphold in the minds of the congregation.
The Bible, especially Revelation, speaks of the need to be an Overcomer, in the same way Jesus was an Overcomer. The chances are you preach that if a parson has been baptized, and has said the sinner's prayer (in earnest) that they automatically become Overcomers, riding on the coattail of Jesus' success.
What if you are wrong? What if the Bible actually expects each and every person who is called by His name to struggle with all their being to overcome their flesh? Wouldn't you think, if this is the case, that by not preaching such a message you are hindering your congregation from entering in?
For myself, I would rather be accused of being too demanding, requiring too much of the people, than to be accused of being too permissive. (The which, as I understand it, is the charge the traditional churches are making against the "modern" churches).
It could be said that Jesus condemned the Scribes for laying heavy burdens on the people, therefore it is wrong to do so. However, what Jesus condemned the leaders for was laying burdens not in God's Word on the people, and for not following those rules themselves.
But, what is the message being spread by these missionaries? Is it truly the Gospel that is being preached throughout the world?
Of course you would say it was. But consider: if you are an Evangelical, what would you say of the message the Catholics, or the Jehovah's Witnesses, or the Mormons were preaching? If you are a Catholic, what do you think of the message of all the other churches?
It is not the Gospel that is being preached throughout the world, but rather conflicting and contrary doctrines and denominationalism that is being taught. The World is a battlefield where hundreds of camps follow one another and set up where another has had success in effort to steal converts from the established church.
In spite of the fact Jesus told His disciples to teach something that is apparently not clear to the churches, since there is such a broad view of what is taught (and not taught); there is one thing He told them to do, and this on many occasions. This thing He told them to do is, I believe, the one thing none of the churches do teach. In fact, the only time I hear of this one thing taught that Jesus said was the reason He came to earth mentioned is in fairy tales and misconceptions. I have printed here just a very few of the Scriptures that describe what Jesus expected His disciples to preach:
The chances are you would not be able to answer this question. The reason why you would have difficulty is because there has been nothing presented in any of the churches I have seen, or any of the doctrines touted by the Theologians that adequately describe something so important that Jesus would state as His mission here on earth. We have several simplified, abstract concepts given to us through doctrine. But the doctrine of Heaven has been pretty well relegated to Sunday School class since we have given it so little substance.
[For more on the Kingdom of Heaven see: Fantasies, Fables and Traditions: The Emperor's New Clothes, as well as: The New Jerusalem when it is completed.]
Such reasoning, of course, justifies the cults, and the modern churches. They are getting people baptized and into the churches.
But none of this is getting people straight with the Lord, or is it getting them what they are told they will be receiving: Eternal life.
My answer: I am a nobody. But for some reason totally unknown to me, God has given me eyes to see what His Word is actually saying. He has given me a means by which to relay this understanding to the world, and to the Pastors.
And that is what I do.
13I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; 14That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: (1Tim 6:)
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