Making the Word of God of none effect by your tradition, which ye have
delivered and many such like things do ye.
(All scripture references are from the J.N. Darby version unless otherwise noted.)
Lost! NT Realities Made of None Effect due to the Traditions of Men
Finally! The Lord has laid this tasking on my heart for awhile now. But I have been clueless as to how to begin until now. You see, this was intended to be a book on the positive side of the New Testament. However, I must also cry out with everything in me against these traditions of men as some of them are actually sin as there are a few of them that contradict some of the very commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. These are common practices today! This book is also about wonderful mysteries that have been for the most part hidden from our view as modern Christians today. For sure, I will allude to the traditions of men which clog the channel of God's blessings to us. But the main subject will be upon the riches of Christ! (If you'd rather see this book in the Adobe Acrobat version, click here.)
It was in my morning prayer today, while pray-reading Acts 17:23 which reads: For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. 24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; ... As I pray-read these words, I began to weep! Ah!! Here is the romance of it all!! Now I see why this web site has had an appeal to many. I had not looked at the statistics for this site in awhile. I was surprised to see what traffic I've been getting. Believers today are hungry for "that something missing" due to the emptiness of present day Christianity and its empty forms.
This is somewhat similar to falling in love with a beautiful woman, not just because of her beauty but because of an unnamable mysteriousness which she keeps as an air about her. Finally she allows herself to be deeply known by one particular man, but always maintains the unknowable, the mysterious and further prospects of even more adventures in getting to know her. The wise woman will take this to heart and maintain this even after marriage. This is just one of the factors, of course, in keeping love alive in a marriage.
No matter how well you think you know the Lord, you have only barely scratched the surface!! He is still somewhat the UNKNOWN GOD to you!! This is why once you've gotten started on this pathway, its so easy to fall head over heels in love with Him! There are seasons of growth where He is revealed as so full of surprises!
Chapter 1: The Traditions of the Apostles
You see, although I write about assembly life and the life of the living, breathing Body of Christ, I do realize and admit that I am unqualified and unworthy to write this book as true "church-life" or assembly life as I like to call it is extremely difficult to come by in this shallow age. Since my situation warrants that I must live so far away from those whom I would rather live right next to in daily fellowship, I am writing about things that I have only seen through a glass darkly from across a large room. So why would God pick me? Well, I guess it will have to be HIM! I do not know what to expect next!
For instance, let's talk about the subject of this introduction. Positive traditions! If you noticed the list of traditions of men on the left frame which I believe proceed from the source of the flesh, not out of the Spirit of Christ, you may come to the conclusion that I do not believe in tradition: period!! But if I did not then I would not believe in the Bible. In the Revelation of the Lost Keys I alluded to the matter of balance. If there is no outward practice as a wineskin to contain the inner treasure of His grace then we will never see much of a reservoir of the things of God, nor will the Lord have much of a testimony. He is so unbelievably rich in the riches of His grace, but upon this earth at present He is poor in the matter of His outshining testimony due to the condition of our experience of His riches.
It is in II Thessalonians 2 Paul alludes to the traditions of the envoys or sent ones. I avoid the word "apostles" as it is a Greek transliteration not a translation into the meaning of the Greek word "apostolos" in English. Here's the passage: "13 But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: 14 Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. 16 Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, 17 Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work." (KJV) Whatever these traditions were that came from the Lord to these men to the new believers, its obvious, they led these believers in "belief of the truth and sanctification of the Spirit." One of Paul's traditions, obviously, is the proclamation of the gospel which he mentions over and over and over in his writings. It is THE GOSPEL that Paul had been called UNTO in his unique calling. So is this something other than the Lord Himself? No way! If you study carefully the 1st chapter of Galatians (Paul's 1st letter) it will be revealed that Paul's gospel was Christ! (+proclamation of Him through certain facts of His history: HISTORY= HIS + story) It was not just the historical message of His death and resurrection, although that mention of His cross is an absolutely necessary mention. (see I Cor. 15:1-3 for Paul's "dictionary" definition: AND yes, of course it is also a spoken message!) But when Paul opened his mouth, the Lord Jesus Christ proceeded forth! Would to God it were the same with every minister (or "so-called minister") of the so-called "gospel" today! Surely this (or HE!) is where the early disciples started! Where else CAN you start??
BUT .... there are still elements of what Paul taught those early Christians that I'm not sure of what it was. Just what did he teach those early saints that so imbibed them with Christ? What was it that brought them into such a vital relationship with the Lord Jesus and one another? THESE traditions are important!
Thank God that at least somewhat the true gospel is being preached today and that some are beginning in the Spirit. But the words of Paul in Galatians 3:3 are being fulfilled for the most part in the majority of God's children: "Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" Most of us were born again by the seed of the gospel in some form, but how do we continue on? I live in the wrong age which is surrounded and soaked dripping wet with the wrong practices and traditions so it's hard to guess what the traditions were in the 1st century exactly. Well, I'm struggling to guess what the sent ones' traditions were, but I'll give it a shot.
In Frank Viola's book Rethinking the Wineskin (you have GOT to read this book if you haven't already), there is much insight on this subject as to the NT being the embodiment of the envoys' traditions and how that ALL of it - though some of it even is written down - is related to the very resurrection life of the Lord Jesus. Later in this chapter, I will relate some quotes from his book to relate this fact.
Although I do not believe in "sacerdotalism" which is mainly a Catholic doctrine, I do believe in the sacraments. Sacerdotalism is the belief that special grace is communicated through the sacraments. In other words, when some physical rite is performed, it conveys a dispensing of grace into your soul. This is false! The Bible says that grace is through Jesus Christ.
However, baptism was a definite NT practice and grace through Jesus Christ IS experienced not through the rite but as a result of following our conscience in obedience to Christ. (I Pet. 3: 21which figure also now saves you, [even] baptism, not a putting away of [the] filth of flesh, but [the] demand as before God of a good conscience, by [the] resurrection of Jesus Christ,) Though it is involved in salvation, it is still "The like figure" of resurrection. Not Resurrection Himself! HE is also BAPTISM Himself! This is why although I include it in this list, Paul actually shied away from being the physical baptizer in I Cor. 1 & 2 and said rather God sent him not to baptize but to preach the gospel. The gospel is what brings you to the Reality of baptism into His actual death. Certainly this is how we must begin the Christian life: the Lord already terminated our hopeless carcasses in His permanent burial! Only Christ can come forth from THAT termination!
Here's another physical rite or ceremony. It was the first Sent One Who enjoined this tradition upon all of His children. But still I would say "it" is not grace in itself, rather, it is the reality of breaking the true Bread of Life while breaking the physical bread and eating together that conveys to us the grace of God. The act of sharing the symbol of His body and His blood means we share HIM with one another. The aspect of TWO elements of unleavened bread and wine means that His blood was separated from His body. Add to this the fact that we eat and drink and it means that through His death, we not only have His life but it is Christ Himself Who enters us making us one with Himself and one loaf as part of a glorious offering to our Father.
I do have some experience with this reality as I was with a group of believers who met in a home and believed in the breaking of bread daily from house to house as a daily communion. So we broke bread and passed the cup of the vine around every day. At that time we had some heart searching going on. We also practiced David's words from Psalm 116:12&13: "12 What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? 13 I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD." So we called upon His Name as we passed the cup. Surely we experienced grace and changed lives as a result!
Just recently I put an article by Kevin Paul Sherfey on my site called Feast and Famine: Concern Over the Lord's Supper and the article made me wish I had written more here on this subject. If you go to this link, you will surely learn much on the balance of this tradition for our spiritual benefit today. The blessings this can bring to your life in the remembrance of Christ's death for us and His Calvary love have been emphasized by the recent film: The Passion of Christ. Surely the Lord would have this to be brought before our view again and again. This was the last thing our Lord enjoined upon us before His death, so it must be of great spiritual value.
OK, this may not seem very spiritual, but Paul thought it was so important, it became one of the reasons he worked for a living. As it is written in II Thess. 3:6-15: Now we enjoin you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw from every brother walking disorderly and not according to the instruction which he received from us. 7 For ye know yourselves how ye ought to imitate us, because we have not walked disorderly among you; 3:8 nor have we eaten bread from any one without cost; but in toil and hardship working night and day not to be chargeable to any one of you: 3:9 not that we have not the right, but that we might give ourselves as an example to you, in order to your imitating us. 3:10 For also when we were with you we enjoined you this, that if any man does not like to work, neither let him eat. 3:11 For we hear that [there are] some walking among you disorderly, not working at all, but busybodies. 3:12 Now such we enjoin and exhort in [the] Lord Jesus Christ, that working quietly they eat their own bread. 3:13 But *ye*, brethren, do not faint in well-doing. 3:14 But if any one obey not our word by the letter, mark that man, and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed of himself; 3:15 and do not esteem him as an enemy, but admonish [him] as a brother. If you check Philippians 2 Paul speaks of Christ as being a servant and this is the pattern for His life and we need to be conformed to this pattern. The real life of Jesus flowing within causes you to want to be productive. It is a matter of the heart.
This is where I will insert some quotes from Frank Viola's "Rethinking the Wineskin" as it seems the verses quoted above contain things that seemingly place one under a law or a certain set of rules, when in fact the NT traditions have nothing to do with legalism, but rather, contain words of training to train the new creation DNA of the life of God within the believers. This life should be brimming over but unfortunately in today's religious situation it is not given the proper channels or environment to properly grow. As with any life ( for example, teaching and training a baby to walk, even though it is a normal life DNA development), the divine life also needs some training, feeding, resting, exercising, teaching and structuring in order to grow in the way GOD intended for this life to grow and develop in order that Christ may have the preeminence in all things.
Legalistic people will continue to read the Bible and especially certain passages in the Bible according to their own legalistic mind set no matter what anyone says. But listen to this: "All life must have form. Life without form is sick and dies; it perishes because it cannot sustain itself. That is the way it is with all life, whether human, spiritual or botanical, for God in His creation is consistent." (This is Frank's quoting from "The Community of the King") Now, I agree with this statement EXCEPT that there is a difference with the life of GOD. It contains resurrection. It is not God's life as to itself or Himself that will suffer spiritual death, but quite possibly we will suffer in our needy humanity for our deformities in this age and for our non-conformity to the flow and direction of the life of God within us as Christians. However even through all of this , you must remember that God's life is a resurrection life which is a difference from all other lives. But wouldn't you rather take the paths that keep you IN and ACCORDING to His eternal life as much as possible? Is not life, GOD's life, the wisest choice to make?
Frank also quotes Watchman Nee from
the "Normal Christian Church Life" where he says "All spiritual truths,
whether pertaining to the inner or outer life, are liable to be legalized.
Everything that is of God - whether outward or inward - if in the Spirit
is life, if in the letter it is death. So the question is not, Is it
outward or inward? but, Is it in the Spirit or in the letter? "The letter
killeth, but the Spirit giveth life...' " After this
Frank goes on to say "Apostolic tradition incarnates apostolic teaching.
It gives shape to spiritual reality." Later in the chapter he brings us to
the logical conclusion of today's traditions versus their traditions by
saying: "The form of the church should always follow the function of the
church. Yet the church's form should not be ignored. Correct form does not
ensure nor guarantee life. But if a church possesses life, it will embrace
those forms that will build up the Body..." In another place he says: "
The truth lies here. Normative apostolic commands are binding for
the modern church. But the normative apostolic practices are as
well. By normative, I mean those practices that assume the following
characteristics: 1) They were established by the apostles in all
the primitive churches; 2) They are life-bound rather than culture-bound;
3) They contain a spiritual subtext." He goes on to say that such
practices "carry prescriptive force. this means they reflect the
unchanging nature of God Himself." (Rethinking the Wineskin, pg. 160)
Frank doesn't go into any of the specific practices such as I go into
here, but I think he did an excellent job in delving into the the very
intrinsic nature of the envoys' traditions and why our present day
burying of their traditions under a mountain of man-made ones is
definitely detrimental to our spiritual health!
Paul enjoins prayer through Timothy as being the FIRST practice that believers should be engaged in for the Mediatory purposes of our holy priesthood in I Tim. 2. The main subject of their prayer was to be the prosperity of the gospel so God could move in this manner. He then spoke of how women should be in the assembly.
All I know is: it is safe to follow Paul of Tarsus who said: "follow me as I follow Christ." And he put himself and his life as a pattern for all to follow in the book of I Timothy. There may be more traditions of the envoys than these five but since I did not live back then, I am not sure what they were. I don't believe anyone can be. If we are really walking according to the Spirit we will automatically do the things above out of the springs of our innermost being springing up like a fountain without being told! However Paul knew that young brothers, not too well developed yet in the life of Christ needed some traditions as a yardstick to follow. The main yardstick having been the life of Paul himself as he walked and lived Christ in their midst. If you are convicted by law, it is so you can through the law be brought to the cross NOT so you can live by it or under it. The Christian life has ONE rule according to Paul who said we must begin by the Spirit and continue by the Spirit and that rule is the new creation. ( For [in Christ Jesus] neither is circumcision anything, nor uncircumcision; but new creation. 6:16 And as many as shall walk by this rule, peace upon them and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. see Galatians 6:7-13 )You are not under law! But neither can you make it on your own! You have BEEN crucified with Him but must be brought to an acknowledgement of the fact as Paul was in Gal. 2:19: For *I*, through law, have died to law, that I may live to God. This is a window to how he practically experienced the power of Christ's resurrection. The NT commandments are real commandments. However, they are not something we are under even as John said in I John: For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments; and his commandments are not grievous. Emphasis mine See I John 2:3-8 & ch. 5: 1-5. These are not rules to live BY. We live BY the Spirit but they are yardsticks to show us where we are and expose us as to whether we walk by the Spirit or by the flesh and to bring us to the Lord that we may buy the holy Spirit oil, which anointing John says we all have. we just need to take advantage of it.
1. The Clergy Laity System
Here is where the main subject will be dealt with - not merely what these human traditions are, how bad they are and where did they come from, but rather: what are the realities being held back by these things? There are others who are dealing with these subjects in a thorough way so it is not my object here. For a thorough discussion of the origins of present day practices see Gene Edwards: Beyond Radical. And now a VERY thorough work on the subject from Frank Viola, hot off the press: Pagan Christianity? which contains for the very first time in the history of the world actual documented evidence of just where, when and why our present day practices started!!!! Awesome! There is one thing I'm not too sure of however and that is if he covers all the Catholic traditions in that book. I think his subject is mainly on the Protestant. To this date I have not even had a chance to read it yet myself as it is so new. OK, UPDATE here! Just recently now I do have a copy so I'll be updating this book somewhat and hopefully his facts will coincide with mine.
According to facts he gathered it seems that the first mention of "laity" is found in the writings of Clement (100 A.D.) of Rome and the term "clergy" first appears in the writings of Tertullian (160-225). By the third century the terms were more and more common.
I will say something more than I planned about this clergy laity tradition in the negative sense than I had planned because I believe it BOTHERS Christ to the uttermost so much so that it is one of the only ones on my list clearly mentioned in the scripture and that spoken of directly by the resurrected Lord Himself. In Rev. 2:6 He speaks to Ephesus saying: this thou hast, that thou hatest the works of the Nicolaitanes, which *I* also hate. Here He says He actually hates something. The Nicolaitanes are not mentioned in any history of the 1st century but the name really does mean something. "Nico" means a "ruling class" and "laitanes" means "over the common people." Here the Lord speaks of their works but as time went on He addresses what most scholars believe is a later time period in 2:15 ( So thou also hast those who hold the doctrine of Nicolaitanes in like manner. ) and this time it is the doctrines. This is how things develop: 1st it is a practice and later becomes a doctrine. The term "laymen" was never known in the first century but became a doctrine later on. There are a whole class of doctrines on this now deep rooted practice. This deeply grieves Christ as He is the same God Who was also rejected in the OT from being King over Israel in I Sam. 8:4-22. If you read that passage, you will see the same pattern of rejection and same resulting consequences have been placed upon the Lord by His dear children in NT times. It is evident that the elders of Israel did not care very much about their future generations even after the Lord had warned about what would happen to them as a result of their laziness and trying to shift their responsibilities for war and national security onto a King. For a book which lays the ax to the root on this matter please see the free online work: Men Who Would Be Kings by John Bland. I highly recommend this work.
There is one more passage spoken by the Lord Himself concerning this matter and that BEFORE the resurrection. It was straight to the men which people today think are the guys who had THE greatest authority!!! The sent ones whom Jesus sent with His message, His love and His passion to the lost world which He so loved. It was to these men who were the leaders (but not by authority, rather by example) that He said: But Jesus having called them to [him], says to them, Ye know that those who are esteemed to rule over the nations exercise lordship over them; and their great men exercise authority over them; but it is not thus among you; but whosoever would be great among you, shall be your minister; and whosoever would be first of you shall be bondman of all. (Mark 10:42-44) This is amazing! If anything the OTHER BELIEVERS maybe had authority over what we call "the apostles" but of course Paul disproved that theory by the way he went in life even disregarding Holy Spirt prophecies made over his life! Anyway, the above verses fly in the face of almost every Christian group on the face of this earth! They think that if they let this go everything will fall apart because "they" (whoever they are) will lose control. But THAT is just it! What? THAT concept: that there's a "them" and a :us" meaning "us ministers and 'them' laymen and it is so deep rooted the depth of the roots cannot even be found. Even in me!!!! I know it! But as to a "them" and a "we:" there is really no such thing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! NO SUCH THING!!!! JESUS said so.
There is another passage which this article is based on and I have dealt with it in The Revelation of the Lost Keys chapter 8and here I will repeat it:
"Do you really think that our Protestant and Catholic rituals can be clearly seen in the pages of the New Testament? What in this world or any other world do such boring traditions have to do with the organic divine DNA of the building up of this dear Bride of the Lamb of God??? Our present day concepts and sameness of over and over again ritualistic practices when seen in the light of God's goal are utterly ridiculous! YES. And stupid, too!!!! And I think you are finally getting it. There's a 95% chance or better in these 00's 10s or 20s of the 21st century that I am insulting you !!! That's right! I am probably insulting you!!! WAKE UP!!! To you of my generation I say as Jesus said to His generation: full well you make the Word of God of none effect by your traditions or to use Darby's translation as a direct quote: "making void the word of God by your traditional teaching which ye have delivered; and many such like things ye do." What a way to make friends and influence people! To amplify this thought His word spoken to their ways of doing things in the previous verses are: "washings of vessels and cups, and many other such like things ye do. 9 And he said to them, Well do ye set aside the commandment of God, that ye may observe what is delivered by yourselves [to keep]."
Now: did you notice He said "many such like things ye do"? Well if you read that passage (Mark 7:5-23), the "many such like things" phrase is used more than once. He starts out calling them hypocrites and later on after He left the crowd and went inside the house with His own disciples whom He loved more than His Own life He told them: "Are ye thus also unintelligent?" Another version translates: without understanding. Another one says, "are you also so dull". This is not a compliment to his own disciples even. Nor is it meant to be a compliment, so don't get your feelings hurt and quit reading just because you're not perfect! It's OK! If the shoe fits, you don't have to wear it! Half of this stuff (at least!) is not your fault. Can we help it that we were born twice in an environment that we couldn't help: twisted and literally soaked with the traditions of smelly Babylon? No, it is not your fault. But still I insult you because I choose to follow the faithful lover of us all Who insulted those of His generation."
To this I will add: if you go near someone from a fishing village who has been eating fish day in and day out for only three months (maybe less!) they will reek and smell like fish but will have been around it so much they are desensitized and do not smell. To those of you in these traditions: I must be honest: YOU STINK!!! You really need more than to be just washed, you need to soak in a bath! Go ahead. Jump in here!! The water is not really too hot! But again, listen to me: washing is not enough for your odor: you also need a change of diet!!!!!!!!
Not Holding the Head
Now we will come to some of the NT realities that are all but non-existent in this dark stupid age due to the traditions of men. In Col. 2:19 Paul says: and not holding fast the head, from whom all the body, ministered to and united together by the joints and bands, increases with the increase of God. When there are those who would be kings such as today's "ministers" and when there are those who would have kings set up over them as many of today's Christians require, the normal life flow of the Body is stopped. Oh! What riches we have missed! Oh! How the DNA growth of divine life in us has been thwarted! AND HERE is the subject matter at hand.
Christ as Head is the Source of grace, rivers of living waters and literally ALL the riches of wisdom and knowledge combined! It has been said that nearly 95% and sometimes even more % of believers were illiterate in the first century and yet, how could it be that they seemed wiser than we? It must have been their connection to Christ as Head.
This of course inter relates to a REAL Body relationship!! How can you be connected to the HEAD without being a living integral and functioning member of the Body in the proper function and place that's proper for you? From this HEAD there is nourishment "FROM WHOM ALL THE BODY"!!! You cannot have it outside of the real situation of His Body BUT TODAY THIS WORD IS BEING MADE OF NONE EFFECT!! How? By one man speaking in a lecture type lecture hall and the rest sitting staring ahead silently.
IAW with the above passage unity is also a result. Without the system it almost easy as pie to experience united together by the joints and bands. From where? From the increase of God. Notice that there are different functions (NOT positions!) of joints bands and other kinds of members. But in a Body its not only OK to be different and STILL be one, its even normal and necessary! There is no such thing as true unity without respecting the wonderful marvelous differences between various brothers and their various gifts given by Our Wonderful Head Christ to our dear brothers and sisters!
The Increase of God
God increasing? THAT would be something new and strange in today's Christianity!! Exciting too! But what is it? It is us partaking of Christ's very nature and very life to the point that Christ GROWS WITHIN US!! Of course the more He increases, the more self decreases. Also this is not an individual matter as this passage was not even written to an individual. It works in the organism of His Body and if you try to get it alone, chances are it won't work.
Here is an aspect of the clergy laity system that seems to lay a "spiritual aura" upon some Christians but not upon others. As you'll see later the enemy Satan built upon this. This seems to have gotten started somewhere during the 3rd or 4th century and was taken from the worldly custom of appointing men to political office. The idea of a special minister, "the holy man of God" came form Augustine, Gregory of Nazianzus and Chrysostom.
Each One Part
We simply must come back to a holy priesthood where each one knows his responsibility to the Lord, one another and the world. IAW Eph. 4:16 ( from whom the whole body, fitted together, and connected by every joint of supply, according to [the] working in [its] measure of each one part, works for itself the increase of the body to its self-building up in love. ) the Body increases with the love of Christ "through each one part" EACH one part? Oh! Where have we been? Of course we can't force these things - it must become a matter of life, not something we try to make happen. A good start would be to drop man-made traditions and maybe some of this stuff would almost automatically start happening just as a channel connected to water would flow out water if only it were unblocked and not stuffed with a bunch of junk!
Grow UP TO Him in All Things
All things? TO Him? Do we know what this means? I really think that today in this dark age the majority of Christians are lost and clueless as to what half of the NT means simply because they have no experience of it! And it's not usually their fault. It is because we have been surrounded by Babylonian practices and don't know any better. Still, it is crying shame!
Fitted Together - connected
This is hard when you think there are special folks for "ministry" and its not ALL Christians who are priests. What is fitted together and connected mean? Would we really rejoice with them that rejoice and weep with those who weep? Would we really love one another AS ourselves? I'm getting convicted just writing about this! How we need this to be reality!
Speaking the Word of God
It's so easy to feel like you cannot speak in today's poor poor Christianity! The majority of Christians have been muzzled! The problem is when new babes in Christ get saved and receive grace, it is thwarted because sometimes there are things within them such as revelations and exhortations imparted to them by the Lord but because they have not "been ordained" the gift is frustrated and it not only stunts their function and growth but damages and neglects the other believers who should have received the feeding through their word. In I Cor 14 Paul encourages ALL to prophesy.
The Development of Certain Types of Gifts
How about Paul's mention of " them who exhort?" Hmmm, where is this guy today? If a gift of the Spirit is not used it grows dormant and this is why so many are dying on the vine. Too many feel that they cannot do anything unless they get "ordained into the ministry." And the definition of what that means is not even agreed upon and is made mysterious and out of reach to the "common brother" or laity as if being ordained gives you some kind of special grace.
A Holy Priesthood
What is a priest? He was someone who would offer sacrifices to God on behalf of men and then return from God back to man with any feedback he received from the Lord. In other words, he was an intercessor or a go between. In the old covenant this relationship broke down but in the new covenant all Christians are priests automatically. So why does the Catholic church call only some believers priests? And other Christians? Do they offer sacrifices or do you have to be ordained first? It is interesting that priest is a far more acceptable NT term and mentioned more often in the NT than the term pastor and yet you can ask any Protestant believer if they think that the practice of the Catholic priest as far as his words, deeds and traditions is scriptural or non-scriptural and the answer will of course be no! But what about "pastor" ??? The KJV mentions the word once and the concept is hardly spoken of. But did you know that the original Protestant pastors were not called pastors at first? They were men who came to join Martin Luther and they were first called "Protestant priests!!!!!"
The origin of this practice? Some of it's origin of course points to Judaism and the fact that God ordained a special class of priests. But not only is this OT but if you study Exodus you will see that originally He ordained ALL the Jews to be priests but later ordained one tribe due to Israel's failure. The pagan origin stems to money and popularity due to Constantine and his edict of making the Christian clergy (called priests) tax exempt. Also well paid ..... also prestigious. This points to popularity. as a result it became a coveted position that many wished to obtain and of course the standards to obtain the position due to its prestige got higher and harder eventually through difficulty finally making one think twice as to whether it was desirable or not. Of course THAT was centuries later.
The actual first time that a special class called "priests" (applied to "bishops") amongst Christians was due to the influence of Cyprian of Carthage (200-258), who was before conversion another one of those pagan orators and philosophers. This group of people have done much damage to God's economy and ways during this age of grace since the coming of Christ.
However, if you look at I Peter 2:4-9 it is obvious that Christians have been designated by the Lord as a universal holy priesthood including all believers. There are no special classes denoted in this passage. This "go between" capability is not just each one of us but also all of us and is a corporate privilege which works better corporately! Wonderful!
Living Stones Built Together
Obviously the corporate priesthood is the way to build together us as living stones. who even knows today what the riches of being built into the house of God together entails. For one thing, when the building of the tabernacle was finished IAW (in accordance with) the blueprint given by God to Moses on the mount, there was quite a heavenly reaction to this obedience!!! God descended and filled that building with the cloud of His glory and no flesh could even stand up!! Uncrucified flesh could not enter! This is glorious!! Oh! For some of that blessedness today! How purifying and electrifyingly life giving that would be!!! This would be beyond revival because the actual NT covenant building is according to a different kind of glory than Moses had and does not fade away! I have experienced a little bit of this and I tell you this is something eternal and if you experience it you will never forget it and you will never be the same again. It will make a permanent change in your being.
To Whom Coming
This priesthood is a living of coming to Him. ONLY in this situation where believers are much together and praying according to Paul's tradition as handed down to Timothy etc. etc. does it come easy to come to the Original Precious Living Stone. The habit is formed much easier in this situation and becomes just like breathing.
Setting Forth Excellencies
This is the glory: God being expressed through His children. It is much more seen by believers than unbelievers but God will sometimes even shine into darkness. Wonderful light is mentioned here also. When you see in this light what you see becomes yours! You can not only enjoy it but be filled with it to overflowing and spill over like a cup running over as His testimony! "The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy."
Organization (a word not found in the New Testament) is an offshoot of the clergy-laity trunk. It seems as if almost all of these things are! This developed amongst God's people as a result of the influence of the political friendship of Rome through the Emperor Constantine. This hierarchical leadership style seemed to have developed through the centuries coming down to humanity through the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks and the Romans. Organization means to systematize things according to a set of rules like a machine making the Kingdom of God like a robot instead of an organism or a living breathing Body. After all, isn't that what Satan is really after? In the first century he attacked the Body of Christ (which is the only force that can actually defeat him) by distracting the members from the Head (this was done by law, philosophy, materialism, even good doctrines, gifts of the Spirit, and even our good works! In fact this was what took the believers hearts away from their first love for the Lord Jesus as He pointed out in His message to the Ephesians through John in Revelation ch. 2). So Satan successfully distracted the believers from Christ causing them to leave their first love and thus cut the Head off from the Body. Then he used the clergy-laity system to dysfunction the majority of the Body's members. After this, down through the ages he divided this dysfunctional Body into pieces through division. Christians today do not want to hear this! But we need to admit its true and we are in a mess before we can see what to do next! The cancer IS there, it goes deep and it needs to be cut out! Forget it! I have tried it! Do not try to change the organized church! It is beyond repair. I do not say that the people of God who are there are beyond repair but there needs to be a starting all over again and this is not clearly seen today. God's way of actual repair is to have a fresh beginning in accordance with His ways.
An organization needs a system and a system needs fuel and it is a high cost machine. When men left their first love as the Lord spoke to the 1st ecclesia in Revelation, there was the need for more labor in order to get the same outward "results." So the hired help began. this added to the need for "ministry professionals to do the job." It's flourishing development began with Constantine so the system was a Roman system as upon which most of the governments and organizations of the whole world are also based. Actually, this chain of command system with its hierarchical authority structure in the church today is not such a big hidden secret. Is not the Catholic Church called the Roman Catholic Church? And she is now a nation, a real nation on real territory! Of course this was the antitype of the tower of Babel in the OT. And what did God do to stop this building up? Division! He confused their tongues. So the denominational divisions were not totally of Satan. (did you notice that word "national" in there?) God had His hand in it through the various developments (though He is obviously not the Author of many of the thoughts and doctrines exactly as taught). Even as He did in the OT, many developments serve their purpose to stop the big tower that was getting too big. And boy is the theology language confused today!
Men Given as Gifts
4:8 Wherefore he says, Having
ascended up on high, he has led captivity captive, and has given gifts to
men. 4:9 But that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended
into the lower parts of the earth? 4:10 He that descended is the same who
has also ascended up above all the heavens, that he might fill all things;
4:11 and *he* has given some apostles, and some prophets, and some
evangelists, and some shepherds and teachers, 4:12 for the perfecting of
the saints; with a view to [the] work of [the] ministry, with a view to
the edifying of the body of Christ; 4:13 until we all arrive at the unity
of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, at [the] full-grown
man, at [the] measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ;
Ascension and Descension
I believe that the riches of Christ's Ascension and Descension can only be known in the true BODY relationship of His Organism. 1st He descended through incarnation bringing God into man and taking on flesh to be God's tabernacle. Then He descended through the death of the cross into hades cleansing all things and terminating the whole old creation including ALL of Adam and everything from Adam. Then He ascended in His resurrection and a man was born as God's Son bringing a man actually into God. He ascended further putting a man on God's throne! Then He descended as the Life Giving Spirit with the old man terminating - new man germinating and -one new man enthroning life of the God-Man as both inner Breath for our daily walk and life and outer Wind for our empowerment and service!! These are just some of the riches that are "to the ecclesia" according to Eph 1:19-21!!!! It is the experience of THIS Christ in His Body which develops the men who are the gifts for perfecting and equipping who are the various joints and bands of supply.
Unity of the Faith
I have seen children fighting with each other. Usually, it is when they are fussy because they have not been well fed! Not always, but do you see? When there is a supply in the Body causing happiness, fruit and growth there shall be less strife and division in the Body and the unity of the faith will be based on seeking the living Christ --- not pet doctrines!
Arriving at the Knowledge of the Son of God
This does not seem to be THE aim of Christians today but Paul said "that I might know Him!" When the true envoys and other gifts develop they will express Christ and perfect others to grow up into Christ and to gain His increase till He just overflows in expression out through His Body and exposingly puts His enemy to shame!! Of course this is not just mental knowledge but a personal intimate heart to heart knowledge that is not just personal and individual but corporate. Does anyone even know what I am talking about? Do I???
At a Full Grown Man
What is this? Or Who is this? Well since the Body according to Paul in I Cor 12:12 IS Christ and the Head of the Body is Christ, then the One new man consisting of Christ the Head and Christ (joined with us) as the Body is the One New Man. The "full grown man" is of course the absolute maturity of the development of His Life through all His members for His complete expression (until we all arrive at the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, at [the] full-grown man, at [the] measure of the stature of the fullness of the Christ;). Then shall that which was spoken by Paul come to pass: "He that hath begun a good work in you shall perform it until the day of Jesus Christ." I believe he is talking about far more than we realize.
Increase of the Body
Do you begin to see what riches organization has hidden from our eyes? I am barely scratching the surface!!!! Paul says from whom the whole body, fitted together, and connected by every joint of supply, according to [the] working in [its] measure of each one part, works for itself the increase of the body to its self-building up in love. (Eph. 4:16) This means that the expression of Christ's life is expressed by love and a corporate living of love for one another will be the result. THIS would be the evangelization of the world!! Is this not what Jesus said? That the world would know the Father had sent Him because we had love for one another? This would not only result in the increase of the Body by doing all things from growing up into Christ in all things together but in the increase by adding more members to His Body. Christ expressing Himself through His Body is THE GREATEST EVANGELIST EARTH COULD EVER SEE!!!
Instead of clergy doing the ministering and Christians being distracted and separated by organizations the NT speaks much concerning "one another" .... take a minute here to consider the riches of the constant Body-life flowing of one anothering as presented in the rich pages of our wonderful new covenant and you will see that you have hardly experienced even 1% of the provisions God has provided for you in His plan for His people through His assembly. Take a look: I John 1:7: fellowship with one another , I John 3:11: love one another:, I Peter 4:10: as he has received a gift, ministering it to one another, I Peter 5:5: bind on humility towards one another, I Thess. 5:11 Wherefore encourage one another, and build up each one the other, Col. 3:13 forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, Eph. 5:21 submitting yourselves to one another in [the] fear of Christ. Heb. 10:24 and let us consider one another for provoking to love and good works; 10:25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the custom [is] with some; but encouraging [one another], and by so much the more as ye see the day drawing near. Rom. 12:10 as to brotherly love, kindly affectioned towards one another: as to honour, each taking the lead in paying it to the other: ; Rom. 15:7 Wherefore receive ye one another, according as the Christ also has received you to [the] glory of God. Rom. 14:13 Let us no longer therefore judge one another; but judge ye this rather, not to put a stumbling-block or a fall-trap before his brother. Rom. 15:14 But I am persuaded, my brethren, I myself also, concerning you, that yourselves also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. These are just some of the texts concerning "one another."
The founding of Western Monasticism is attributed to St. Benedict of Nursia (c.480-c.547). It seems to have been influenced by the early Desert Fathers, as they were called who were famous for being hermits who would hang out with nobody but God. Now, there is a time to get alone with God and away from people. Jesus did this, but these "fathers" (bad term for hermits! It's kind of hard to be any kind of dad that way!) took this alone thing way too far. So you see: Monasticism is the result desire of some to feel special and came about as the result of the clergy-laity paradigm that there are "classes" in the sight of God and there are certain things you can "do" to "get" more grace from God.
Deep Things of God
There was something positive about monasticism in that it kept the community life of believers living in close proximity to each other for all that "one anothering" to take place. This is why some of these Catholics who lived in convents and monasteries found very deep intimacy with the Lord. This was one of the factors of the 1st century believers experiencing such depths of Christ. The problem was they kept too much isolation in their own cells. Also there were other negative factors making a big difference between them and the 1st century believers such as a set of rules to live by which had too much of the element of asceticism. Also, the theory that one had to "get away from it all and escape the world and live isolated from it" was a far cry from the 1st century reality of being the salt of the earth. There was another subtle problem as well: you were made to feel that you had to join this special class of believers and do their "celibacy thing", etc. ion order to "earn the privilege" of experiencing the deep things of God. By inference, to get into union with God or this deep experience was made harder and harder and something that could only happen to a few chosen ones after years of a set of mystical stages. The feeling was of course that the "depths" weren't for everybody. and that just isn't true.
There sure are tons of web sites on the vestal virgins these days! But its really nothing to get excited about. It may be hard to see how this ritual which was from a completely different non-Christian religion had anything to do with Christianity. But it became a factor of the convent/monastery thing later on in that the religious feeling and deception prevailed that if you tortured yourself with celibacy (not to mention whipping oneself, crawling on broken glass on your knees and other various self-tortures) you would somehow merit more love from God. What a bunch of nonsense! The origins of this celibacy thing in Catholicism had nothing to do in reality with sex, purity or holiness. It was money. Beginning in the 11th century with pope Gregory VII, he started to push the idea because too many clergy were getting too rich and passing their heritage to the next generation, but the real issue was not marriage, it was the concubine related money and the scandals. The 5 or six popes before this guy had already been noting these things but this pope overreacted by not letting married priests say the Mass, etc. Of course the celibacy thing was not well embraced at first but tradition has a way of getting ingrained over time, does it not? In the same century they also tried to give out the idea that celibacy was of apostolic origin! Oh! By the way, the same pope also declared the pope to be the supreme power over all souls! In the 19th century this supreme power thing advanced to voting that the pope was infallible!! (Although there were two votes contrary and some of the Europeans did not agree.
The Freedom of Grace
In Galatians we learn that if we trust in any other gospel than Paul of Tarsus gospel we are accursed. Paul's gospel was that we are totally 100% FREE FROM LAW period!!!! PERIOD!!!!!!! How does that stack up with earning brownie buttons by burning instead of marrying? In Eph. 1:4 What? Too good to be true? But that's the nature of the good news of Christ! It really IS good news! When you believe in Jesus you are FREE! FREE INDEED! This does not mean God will not deal with you as sons and chasten you, train you etc. but the matter of forgiveness and salvation is settled FOREVER. To say that the blood of Jesus has not done this through faith is to put it back on your poor little weak works to "earn your own way to heaven." Well if that's your belief you might as well jump into hell if you're going to stubbornly persist on any righteousness in yourself as a foundation of acceptance with God.
Was it not Christ Who said "it shall not be so among you??" I think we have forgotten this. Actually to be honest about what I REALLY think: I don't think many Christians have even realized our Lord's words on this subject. We are dull of hearing today. Wow! This is a strange thing when most of Christianity today is built on the practice of the lecture hall type paradigm of Christian meeting with a guy preaching endless boring sermons at you Sunday after Sunday. What? You weren't listening? Or was the preacher not willing to preach on this subject due to the nature of it? Hmmmm ... maybe he was afraid he'd lose his job.
It seems almost impossible today to get away from this chain of command system paradigm. It is in all governments, most business corporations, all military systems and for well over sixteen centuries it has been in nearly all expressions of the Christian faith. Jesus said "those who are esteemed to rule over the nations exercise lordship over them; and their great men exercise authority over them; 10:43 but it is not thus among you; but whosoever would be great among you, shall be your minister; ... Did you notice the word lordship? Or did you notice the word authority? Wow! It is not supposed to be amongst us as Christians according to Jesus Christ!! But IT IS amongst almost all Christians today!
Where did we get this? Again, if you'll check Ephesians ch. 1 and Colossians ch. 1, you will see a chain of command system of principalities, powers etc. amongst the angelic hosts of the spiritual realm. The origination of this chain of command system was God Himself. He invented this system for the benefit of the angels as it fits them well. However, this system was not made for man. According to Jesus Christ there is only one Lord and we are brothers. Human beings, as they were originally created, are family oriented. In a family there is only supposed to be one father and the children, although not totally equal in all things, are still on the same level. They are brothers and sisters. It was the fallen angels who imposed THEIR system on fallen mankind and because of the fall there is actually a Satanic element and seed implanted in humankind (excuse me but I have to tell you the truth) that actually goes along with this hierarchical chain of command system and some folks even like it (especially if they are in a higher ruling class!). But JESUS said "it shall not be so among you." But we are to call one another brethren.
Let me talk to you pastors for a minute. (Hek! You priests and rabbi's can get in on this too if you want to!) The Lord said in another passage to call no man Rabbi. Matthew 23:5-12 is this parallel passage speaking of these very things: (And all their works they do to be seen of men: for they make broad their phylacteries and enlarge the borders [of their garments], 23:6 and love the chief place in feasts and the first seats in the synagogues, 23:7 and salutations in the market-places, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi. 23:8 But *ye*, be not ye called Rabbi; for one is your instructor, and all *ye* are brethren. 23:9 And call not [any one] your father upon the earth; for one is your Father, he who is in the heavens. 23:10 Neither be called instructors, for one is your instructor, the Christ. 23:11 But the greatest of you shall be your servant. 23:12 And whoever shall exalt himself shall be humbled, and whoever shall humble himself shall be exalted. ) OK, so why do you expect your fellow believers to call you "pastor"?? Some of you pastors even take pride in your congregation calling you pastor and SOME of you even get offended (!!!!) if a brother dares call you something else or forgets to pay you the proper (choke!!!! cough! cough!) "respect" due your highness's position! SHAME ON YOU!!!!!!!!!!! DO YOU NOT KNOW THAT WHEN YOU ARE THUSLY ADDRESSED, YOU ARE BEING PUT DOWN???!!!!!!!!! Of course, what I'm about to say only applies to you if you are born again and truly a Christian brother in the Lord Jesus Christ. When brothers who call each other "brother" and "sister" call you "pastor," they are calling you by a term not even half as wonderful as the term brother. And some of them are even intimidated by your presence and even feel they should ask the Lord to forgive them (!!!!) if they forget to call you "pastor" because you're to them the "holy grandiose pastor reverend" and they actually fear you! (again: shame, shame shame on you! You ought to be ashamed of yourselves: ALL OF YOU!!!!) I'm calling on all of you pharisaical hypocrites to repent!!! DON'T YOU KNOW YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD!!!!! YOU ARE HIS OFFSPRING!!!! CAN YOU GET ANY HEAVIER THAN THAT???? You have the very DNA and life of God Himself in you. You have his very life and nature and you could not be any higher or more loved by God than you are right now!!! Neither can you do a single thing to make yourself more accepted in the Beloved than you already are in Christ forever! And yet you would rather your fellow believers call you a "pastor" than a brother??? Let me ask you a serious question? Have you lost your marbles???
It seems to me that not even the "holy pastors" know who they really are in Jesus Christ! Much less the congregations who hear them preach. The content of most sermons is just too poor. Too lame. Obviously the system does not work. What have we been losing as a result?
Intimacy with the Lord
When Christians are made to feel they are secondhand citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven instead of who they really are it tends to distance them from the Lord. Even those of us (me too! yeah! I'm still affected by these things!) who are outside of the organized church are STILL being affected by condemnation from the past, feeling unworthy instead of boldly approaching the throne of grace, etc. etc. etc. ad infinitum. Paul wrote the following to the Christians of his day: Eph 1:3-6: God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ; 1:4 according as he has chosen us in him before [the] world's foundation, that we should be holy and blameless before him in love; 1:5 having marked us out beforehand for adoption through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 1:6 to [the] praise of [the] glory of his grace, wherein he has taken us into favour in the Beloved: ... but we don't think it true because we were told there are a better class of Christians than we are and we're not good enough! I really don't think there are very many people who know the extent of what I'm talking about or understand just how serious this is and how much damage has really been done!!!
Initiative to Go and Get It!! (with repentance!)
When Paul wrote the Corinthians back after they had taken action as an assembly against the man living in fornication, he was addressing a state that they lived in due to having realized they had power with God as His children and could even command evil spirits and use their authority in the Name of Christ to make things happen for righteousness sake. They found out they had the same authority as Paul!! (not OVER Paul and NOT UNDER Paul or even OVER the brother in fornication but it was authority concerning spiritual forces under the Headship of Christ which has been given the assemblies of God in Christ in heavenly places under His Lordship and movement of course, which they discovered) They had Christ in them as authority to do something about the situation in Corinth!
The state the Corinthians were in when Paul addressed them in II Corinthians was no longer a lethargically lazy state of mind! They were suddenly on fire!!!! They suddenly had NO lack of initiative. It was the rebuke of the Holy Spirit through Paul that produced this condition: The Corinthians were surely ready for anything and were, thank God (thank Paul too for being obedient) more in love with the Lord Jesus than ever! Well, why not! They had just dealt with the serious leaven in their midst and had been cleansed from a debilitating leprous disease in their midst, which had been making them like a dysfunctional family! This is exactly what most believers are like in their so called "church-life" today and of course it spills over into their family life. The strong antidote for dysfunctional families amongst the children of God today would be to destroy the ranking system amongst believers and bringing in this godly sorrow of true and healthy repentance!! Would to God that my poor brothers knew this!!!!! Here's the passage from II Cor. 7: 7:4 Great [is] my boldness towards you, great my exulting in respect of you; I am filled with encouragement; I overabound in joy under all our affliction. ...... ....... 7:9 Now I rejoice, not that ye have been grieved, but that ye have been grieved to repentance; for ye have been grieved according to God, that in nothing ye might be injured by us. 7:10 For grief according to God works repentance to salvation, never to be regretted; but the grief of the world works death. 7:11 For, behold, this same thing, your being grieved according to God, how much diligence it wrought in *you*, but [what] excusing [of yourselves], but [what] indignation, but [what] fear, but [what] ardent desire, but [what] zeal, but [what] vengeance: in every way ye have proved yourselves to be pure in the matter. 7:12 So then, if also I wrote to you, [it was] not for the sake of him that injured, nor for the sake of him that was injured, but for the sake of our diligent zeal for you being manifested to you before God. The emphasis is mine. What riches of Christ are here, I'm afraid, most believers will never find in this generation. My brothers, be honest with me. Have the so-called revivals of the last two decades been of this "grieving repentance" type? No? How sad indeed. Some will never even have a clue. This is not exciting folks. Our very neighbors and even friends are perishing and dying right in front of our eyes and we are too blind, lazy and asleep to even care BECAUSE WE DO NOT THINK WE CAN DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT BECAUSE OF "RANKS". Do you see this? YOU CAN do something about it!!! Get up off your duff and get down upon your knees! You are the very offspring of God!! Have you been born again indeed? Yes? Then NO ONE except Jesus Christ has any higher rank than you do at this moment!!!!!
The Body's Members Functioning
I believe that this is not something we should try to make happen. The way so many are trying to get folks to exercise the gifts of the Spirit today have sometimes given it a bad name. However, it is in the Bible and it is real and I believe if the ranking among believers were done away with and agape love of I Cor 13 were restored due to a return to our first love, then we would automatically see the "manifestation of spirit" which God has already given "to each" start to operate normally and the Body build up itself in love. Paul said in I Cor. 12:4-7: there are distinctions of gifts, but the same Spirit; 12:5 and there are distinctions of services, and the same Lord; 12:6 and there are distinctions of operations, but the same God who operates all things in all. 12:7 But to each the manifestation of the Spirit is given for profit. This is said to be a reality given "to each." So why do just some folks stand up there in the pulpit while the rest sit there silently staring at the back of someone's head (or the ceiling maybe? ...or the back of their eyelids?)?
Would this be part of explaining the lack of love among believers today also? The love chapter I Cor. 13 is sandwiched between two chapters dealing with the operations, gifts and services of the manifestation of the Spirit. Can we be matured in His love without the reality of the Body of Christ as written about in I Cor. chs 12-14? I do not think so. The life of any person alive grows, is housed and is expressed through his or her body and Christ's Body is not some individualistic individual but consists of many members who are members one of another. Even our function is not real and just CANNOT BE without the other members.
The Operational Functionality of Christ's Headship
I will again point to the incident above. Paul said in I Cor. 5: 1 & 2: It is universally reported [that there is] fornication among you, and such fornication as [is] not even among the nations, so that one should have his father's wife. 5:2 And *ye* are puffed up, and ye have not rather mourned, in order that he that has done this deed might be taken away out of the midst of you. Did you notice the term "puffed up?" How could they be puffed up instead of grieving? There is a parallel incident in the OT in Joshua that gives us much light on the subject. In Joshua 7 Israel was defeated sorely, and this was right after a marvelous triumph over the city of Jericho. When Joshua fell on His face he discovered that the Lord was VERY upset against the whole nation seemingly just because of one man's sin!! But you have to dig deeper into the reality of their relationship to Him during that time period to see into His heart at what He was really upset about.
There was no mention of ANY fellowship with Him about battling Ai!! Did Joshua even pray before the battle? I think that because they had had such a victory they also got "puffed up" and automatically thought they would win. So they did not even know what had been going on they were so far away from Jehovah's Headship. It seemed Joshua's "headship" didn't work very well, huh?!? AS a result they were totally unaware of the leprosy and sin in their midst. The result is always the dysfunctionality of defeat and death.
What a difference with the battle of Jericho! Joshua was in heavy fellowship with the Captain of the Host. This fellowship got extended to the elders, the army and even the whole nation of Israel so that all the people marched around Jericho as one man, as one body. The plan and direction came from the Captain Who was their Head of course. In chapter 7, the fellowship and the heads of households "coming forward" before Jehovah was not such a pleasant thing, however! BUT it wrought cleansing, restoration and victory following the judgment. The point is "Christ is the Head over every man" - so even in our individual life as well as corporate we must check with Him before we do ANYTHING to remain under the operation of His Headship. This sweet fellowship has a way of spreading to all the members but please remember that judgment is one of the rudimentary roots of fellowship with God. WE must approach the Lord through the blood of Jesus with an openness to His cleansing word and operation.
You see another incident later on in Joshua where they did not check with Jehovah. It was in Chapter 9 when the Gibeonites dressed up and pretended to be from a far country in order to make a pact with Israel and preserve their life. If they had consulted with the Lord before this pact, the Gibeonites should have been wiped out.
I believe that the tradition of "dressing up to go to church" began with Constantine who borrowed it from the pagan priesthood of his day. However, at that time the "Christian clergy" wore the "Roman Officials" garments to differentiate themselves from the laity. It was not till the 12th century clergy wore the "street clothes dressing up style." In Constantine's day the first beginnings of this may have started at the Council of Nicea which is also the place and time I believe Theology got started. No, theology is not a good thing either, which is a subject I will comment on later. Constantine favored the "church" so much so and became so friendly with it that he became a churchman himself - even a "officer in chief" in the church. So not only did he take off from the "uniform" thing of the priests of the idol temples but he "married the "church" with the state. From this the clergy uniform started to look like the political uniform because that's what it was. At the Nicea Council he arrived all decked out with gold, silver and etc. ... nice clothes man! Too nice. As a result the Christian priests followed suit (get my pun) and eventually there was more and more pressure even for common folks to conform to the dress standard in order to fit in. The origins of this kind of fad affecting church goers began in the late 18th century on the crest of the Industrial Revolution with the rise of the middle class in the mid 19th century. There are some churches where the bums, poor and downtrodden would never feel at home to even walk in the door.
Anything that can come in to take away from the family oneness is surely of the devil. The tendency of the influence of this trend is to go along with and promote classes amongst the children of God. Surely THIS is what worldliness is! Not lipstick and things like that. A clergyman in a coat and a tie is an intimidating thing, making some folks even afraid to talk to him because surely he is holier that they are and if they do talk to him they sure aren't going to tell him who they really are or what their problems are. Not unless it's reached a point of desperation. As a result this guy doesn't really know what's happening width "his" so-called people half the time. As a result of that he probably is not aware of the realities of life on planet earth head on. Not totally anyway. If he is acquainted with it he knows people aren't telling him very much. But does he know why????!!!???
In Colossians 3:10-11 it says and having put on the new, renewed into full knowledge according to [the] image of him that has created him; 3:11 wherein there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bondman, freeman; but Christ [is] everything, and in all. This is a wonderful example of family ties. I have seen this with those who live in a neighborhood and are in constant fellowship with one another. It is so sweet. Sweeter than any other family I have ever seen on this earth! NOT problem free mind you! Far from it. But the reality of the family of God is worth more than anything else. The main point of the verse above is that there are no classes, cultures, races, religiousness, non-religiousness or ranks after you become a new creation. But why is the reality of that not well evident? There may be many reasons but this is surely one of them. Surely this is why Paul said there is peace for those who live according to the rule of the new creation. This is not a written law/code type of rule, it is surely a rule or law likened unto the law of gravity. It is something out of the nature of the life form that you are. How we need to feed and exercise that which came out of our second birth! One of the biggest ear marks (birth marks? whatever you want to call it!) of the second birth is family togetherness and love for one another. Of course, if it were not necessary to take care of the new creation, nurture and encourage the believers in their new life, then books on loving one another like I John, etc. would not have to have been written. There IS the need for some kind of tradition and outward practice to develop and grow the inner life. But it had better be the traditions of the envoys, not that which proceeds from the minds and hearts of mere men.
Now, what does the formality of dressing up have to do with familial familiarity? Don't you see? That's just it. It squelches it. Even if there is any togetherness among those who dress up, the poor guy who can't dress up is going to feel left out.
I believe this started with Pagan idolatrous worship in the time of tower of Babel, but I may be wrong as to the time frame. This is why I will allow those like Frank Viola to study out these origins and go on to something else. Suffice it to say, since I have perused his book: this tradition seems to have many of it's roots through those who were before converting to Christ, pagan philosophers and orators, who were already used to the prestige, pay and honor of being set apart and above the others and as a result they brought their pagan philosophies and practices to mix with the things of God. One of the big names I will mention in this category is Justin Martyr, a Christian of notable spiritual weight in the second century. And THAT is just the problem. When the actual reality of the things of God get mixed with other elements, it starts to give not only creditability to whatever their practices and theories are but when you add the anointing of the Holy Spirit things that used to be addicting as entertainment for the world become even more addicting and distracting. However, of one thing I am certain: that these things began with pagan idolatrous worship and Constantine allowed it to spill over into the "Christendom" which he had created as a series of syncretisms. A syncretism is something that takes its elements form one thing and another thing and makes a totally new thing with it. Priests developed their special "incantations" within Catholicism and spoke them in Latin. Hundreds of years after there was no nation that spoke Latin as their regular language, the Catholic priests still used it in their church services. Why? Was it to intimidate us less than worthy "regular" Christians? Of course, from the council of Nicea, Constantine directed that there would be developed a Creed which was supposed to keep the unity between the various groups of Christians at that time. The actual result was a systemization of doctrines, taking verses from various parts of the Bible on certain subjects and grouping them together according to subject matter, adding a pinch of man's tradition and man's various philosophies and opinions: stir it up and WALA! There you have it! Theology! And boy! Was there ever divisions after that! Of course another development was various theological languages which again only intimidated (and oftentimes deceived) the common man. (which was easily done because for most of the centuries of time the majority were illiterate anyway.)
This, of course, gave more "power" and seeming authority to the clergy and put an even greater distancing between them and their parishioners because now they had the ability to speak way above the heads of their listeners so their listeners must be stupid and unworthy. But since when was closeness to God and pleasing God based on doctrine and how intellectual you are instead of matters of the heart? GOD looks upon the heart, not ANY kind of outward appearance. (of course let me qualify that: some folks appearances are such that sometimes it reveals a rotten, desperate and most sinful heart imaginable)
When the Catholic church could no longer keep the Bible from the common people, they still kept Latin for their " hocus pocus" chanting for what purpose? Who REALLY knows!?!!! May this be the reason many of these kinds of clergymen have fallen into gross sins in order to expose them as being nobody extraordinary at all? In recent years these kinds of things have come more and more out into the light of the media and the law.
Flowing Life of the Body
In Acts 20:20 Paul says "I held back nothing of what is profitable, so as not to announce [it] to you, and to teach you publicly and in every house," .... Hmmm! does this sound like someone who has a secret to keep or some secret language? It may be true that Paul could not reveal some of the things revealed to him when he was in the third heaven but that was because it was unlawful to reveal it. Also, it was not a thing he taught to ANYONE! There was not a select group to whom certain teachings were made to but not to certain other people. No such thing. Paul held back nothing unless it was not good for building up. As I spoke in my book The Revelation of the Lost Keys in chapter 26 concerning the life flow of the Body in that every member needed both inflow and outflow for the Body to be healthy. If there was a joint or part that did not give then the flow of blood would be cut off and there would be gangrene and death as a result. It would also be true if there was a member that did not receive the life flow. Where does this put God's people today? What about the first Envoy sent directly form the Father? Did He have secrets to keep that He only taught His chosen twelve? Not at all! Just before His death, our Lord solemnly testified to the High Priest in John 18:20 as follows: Jesus answered him, I spoke openly to the world; I taught always in [the] synagogue and in the temple, where all the Jews come together, and in secret I have spoken nothing. He also did not hold anything back that was profitable. Jesus obviously did not believe in secrets or the hidden things of darkness that go with secrets! The same teaching is for everyone and should be spoken to everyone by everyone.
What a wonderful refreshing splash of cold water it would be if we got back to the discourse! There is not much discourse today because Christians are told to sit and be quiet and are made to feel intimidated by the clergy and not worthy to stand behind "the sacred desk."
Luke writes in Acts 20:7, And the first day of the week, we being assembled to break bread, Paul discoursed to them, about to depart on the morrow. And he prolonged the discourse till midnight. This is not the same thing as a sermon. It is true that Paul may have been doing most of the speaking that night due to the fact of their need of the revelation of Jesus Christ resident in this brother, but there was a feed back, questions and answers and other insights shared that night. If it was just a lecture from one man, how can you imagine it lasting all night long?? Only true Christian back and forth fellowship of the unsearchable riches of Christ can go that kind of a distance! It will go for eternity!
This tradition began with Martin Luther almost about 500 years ago. It has not been on this earth quite as long as some of the other traditions, but boy, has it become deep rooted in the hearts of men! It is an offshoot of the priesthood in Catholicism. Again, for the details please get a copy of Frank Viola's book: Pagan Christianity, but I'll summarize the short version here. Martin Luther was protected by Frederick the Wise from being killed by the Catholics of his day as long as he received asylum in the section of Germany he was in. While there, many former Catholic priests who began to see the Christian faith Martin's way joined him there and being that they were used to "serving the Lord" in their clergy position and making a living at it, they wanted to continue to do so for their newly found Protestant faith. So began the new phenomenon of what was called, at first, the "Protestant Priests." Martin Luther, of course, changed some things about his new churches. He took down the Catholic altar and set up a pulpit instead and replaced the mass with a sermon, making the preaching of the word the center. He also changed the "seven pastoral duties" as originally laid out by Gregory the Great to another seven duties. Based on what scripture or incident in the book of Acts he did it on, I don't know, but it sure put too much emphasis on the ten talented member of Christ, giving no recognition to the one talented member of the Body of Christ. And it is precisely on this point that I wish to dwell. The deep root of this concept coming into the Kingdom of God stemmed from Ignatius in the first century who brought forward the idea of one "bishop" or overseer in a particular assembly having the "rule" over an assembly and even in some special way over the other "bishops." Of course, through history the term was not used much (the term "pastor" was used concerning the head bishop a very few times by Clement and on from the 2nd century, but not much, however, whatever term was used, this one man show was usually awarded the term because he was multitalented and outspokenly over functioning individual.) Until we restore the function of the one talented member of Christ once again, we will never see the reality of the living moving Body of our Lord Jesus Christ restored in this earth as a reality that will defeat Satan and put him to shame. THIS one new man is the ONLY weapon that makes Satan tremble in his boots.
Distinctions of Gifts, Services and Operations
Oftentimes, in the setting of the Protestant Church, the people sometimes follow their pastor, depending on how persuasive he is or how much influence he really exerts upon them. Sometimes they even take on his characteristics. When I was growing up there was a church near me called the Apostolic Church of prophesy. Now I never visited it and cannot vouch for this personally but I heard that the people there were into prophecy and practiced it quite much. Now if there is any gift that the majority of Christians should desire, it should be the gift of prophecy, but many Christian groups think that prophecy means somebody stands up and God speaks through them and they speak and say: "thus saith the Lord ..." etc. Many groups also think that prophecy must be about prophesying concerning future events. But if you'll read I Cor. 14 carefully, you will see that there is more of the element of comforting and building others up than to foretell future events.
My point, however, has nothing to with any of those things. My point is that too many times, because of the influence of the pastoral tradition, you have "church" of eyes on one corner (many associate the gift of prophecy with being a "seer" and associate that gift with the "eyes" of the Body, so I use this term first). Then there is the Pentecostal church of the tongues on another corner. Then there might be those who believe in silence and listening to the Lord and so you have a bunch of ears meeting together in another church building somewhere else. And folks oftentimes do what they do, speak and practice what they practice because of who it is that leads them from the pulpit. So you have a bunch of tongues in one place, a bunch of eyes in another and a bunch of smelly dead feet in another place (this place obviously is led by an evangelistic type pastor who is trying to fulfill "how beautiful are the feet of them that spread good tidings" and so leads his people into constant evangelism and may even take them out in the street to do street preaching, etc.).
The question is: is this what the Body of Jesus Christ is supposed to look like? Is this really the life of God actually being expressed through the members of His very Own Body? Do you, my reader, even have any kind of revelation at all as to what (really Who!) the Body of Christ is????? Much less experiencing the reality of His Body on this earth. One thing is VERY important to be said here. So I must doubly stress it: THE UNITY AND ONENESS OF THE BODY MUST BE OF MANY DIFFERENT MEMBERS WITH MANY VERY DIFFERENT AND DISTINCT GIFTS, SERVICES AND OPERATIONS IN ORDER TO EXPERIENCE THE FULLNESS OF CHRIST IN THE ONE SPIRIT. THERE IS ONLY ONE SPIRIT, ONLY ONE LORD, ONLY ONE GOD AND WITHOUT DISTINCTION THERE CANNOT BE TRUE ONENESS!!! All I have just done was to repeat Paul's words in I Cor. 12:4-7: But there are distinctions of gifts, but the same Spirit; 12:5 and there are distinctions of services, and the same Lord; 12:6 and there are distinctions of operations, but the same God who operates all things in all.12:7 But to each the manifestation of the Spirit is given for profit. How can all these things possibly co-exist in a situation where people sit silently in their pews and the only folks who operate their gifts is the pastor or the pastoral staff???? Just HOW MUCH grace, service and operating of the Triune God have we been missing out on as a result??? Even if you meet the right way in a "home assembly" and not like this, you are still missing the function of so many members of Christ who are dormantly dysfunctional these days. It HURTS you whether you know it or not. How much more does it hurt the Head of the Body. In Himself in the heavens He is fine but upon earth He is an invalid (Lord forgive me this term!) Who can do very little because He has chosen to limit Himself to work in and through His people, His Body. In Himself as the Trinity He is unsearchably rich in glory and grace, but as to His people and the outshining of His testimony, He is very poor. IT IS NOT HIS FAULT, IT IS OURS!! Why? Because we hold on to the traditions of men.
If you are a "pastor" and you are reading this book, you can no longer be one and be guiltless. You are sinning if you continue to usurp God's Kingship over His people and you must repent and QUIT BEING A PASTOR!!!! There is no longer any excuse for this. There is too much light pouring in upon the Body of Christ at this time for any excuses to remain. Yes, it's true, books like this one and Pagan Christianity are not as well known as they ought to be and yes, if there are pastors out there in the dark who have never heard of these things, they will surely not be held as accountable as you. Yes, I admit, there is still too much darkness at this present time. But YOU????!????? After reading this? I think not! You will stand before God and give an account of what you have done in accordance with what you know to do. I am not trying to discourage you from reading further and getting more light, rather, I would admonish you, dear brother, in the name of God's true mercy (which is married to repentance!!) to read on and get as enlightened as possible as to the truth and become as obedient as possible to the truth. (according to His grace and freedom of course) Now, although I do not believe you are going to hell if you continue to be a pastor, if you don't change your course now, you will experience a shadow between you and your Lord. Not to mention, you will have to answer Him for your decision in the day of judgment.
Because on the one hand, the pastor loves to get the attention of all eyes on stage, and many of the lazy parishioners like to sit, be lazy and not have much function, responsibility or service (thank God, not all Christians feel this way), we are in a situation where there is a lack of grace flowing due to the fact that many of the distinct services of the One Lord are rejected and/or discouraged putting a damper and smokescreen on the inner workings of the Lordship and Headship of Christ, out from Whom "the whole body, fitted together, and connected by every joint of supply, according to [the] working in [its] measure of each one part, works for itself the increase of the body to its self-building up in love." (Eph. 4:16) AS a result of this lacking of true God given services there are too many unmet needs (more than there ought to be) in the family of God today. This causes many churches to multiply various artificial "programs" to meet the unmet needs. Also, because the giftings of the one-talented members are brushed aside as being not important, the channel of the Holy Spirit's work through various members of the Body is clogged up and so there is a lack of the flowing of the One Spirit through the "distinction of gifts" and in many (most cases, don't kid yourself) cases this not only brings sickness to the Body but actual death so that for the majority of Christians in this dark age today there is no reality of the Body of Christ at all (much less a revelation of that which they have never seen, thought or even heard of). This causes at the very least a very dysfunctional situation where there are needs and cries surrounding us almost screaming at us but going unnoticed because of the apathy and deadly insensitivity that exists in the church today.
Is it any wonder that there is so much
division and lack of love? We need to see THAT THE CHRISTIAN LIFE IS THE
CORPORATE LIFE OF HIS BODY AND NOT INDIVIDUAL AND THAT THE INDIVIDUAL
CHRISTIAN LIFE DOES NOT WORK !! There cannot be growth,
feeding and watering to you as a mere individual when you are a member!
You are a MEMBER! Paul also said there there are
distinct operations but only One God. God would love to
operate on this sickness but if His children reject His operating because
there are different operations with which they are not familiar our
sickness will remain. Paul did not say in I Cor. 14 that we should reject
these things. Rather he said to TEST them AFTER we listen. We need to
judge all things. But how can Christians judge what various brothers (or
sometimes even false brothers) have to say if the so -called "pastor" does
all the judging for you and nobody gets to stand up and say anything
anyways because the ushers will boot him out? I know of some cases where
the pastor told his congregation they should not even listen to the radio
to other preachers because they were not qualified to judge what the
preachers were saying and they might get deceived and led astray.
Hmmmm ... do you think this pastor was walking according to fear or what?
Are only the clergy smart enough to discern between truth and error or are
there those who have words of wisdom and discernment of spirits, etc., who
are sitting dormant and silent in the pews? And because that is a
fact, both congregations and their pastors are afraid of the " outside
world" (which they are already a part of, I'm reluctant to say) and walk
in fear of the wolves of heresy. This is a far cry from what Paul told his
fellow believers in Corinth, who were such blockheads it seems there has
never been a worse bunch! (boy do we have a lot to learn!) Paul wrote to
these young believers and said:
Dare any one of you, having a matter
against another, prosecute his suit before the unjust, and not before the
saints? 6:2 Do ye not then know that the saints shall judge the world? and
if the world is judged by you, are ye unworthy of [the] smallest
judgments? 6:3 Do ye not know that we shall judge angels? and not then
matters of this life? 6:4 If then ye have judgments as to things of this
life, set those [to judge] who are little esteemed in the assembly. 6:5 I
speak to you [to put you] to shame. Thus there is not a wise person among
you, not even one, who shall be able to decide between his brethren! 6:6
But brother prosecutes his suit with brother, and that before unbelievers.
6:7 Already indeed then it is altogether a fault in you that ye have suits
between yourselves. Why do ye not rather suffer wrong? why are ye not
rather defrauded? 6:8 But *ye* do wrong, and defraud, and this [your]
brethren. (I Cor. 6:1-8)
The Eye, the Light of the Body
I will use the illustration of "the eye" to speak of the prophetic giftings in Christ's Body. I do this because the OT mentions the word "seer" as being the prophet in that era and although the age and function of the prophet has changed in NT times, the word "eye" is understood by many to refer to those who have this gift.
No wonder there is so much fear of deception today! Prophecy was supposed to have judges! It cannot work without the body for it is the light of the body. What is the eye without being connected to a body? Something terrifying! I too, reject any prophetic element or person who is not in the proper situation and relationship of true Body Life. But not without listening to them first and intelligently tearing their words apart in accordance with the scriptures. Anyone out there who agrees with the traditions of men is already deceived to begin with and is going to have to say many things in their prophetic utterance that are mixed and muddy wood , hay and stubble underneath the veil of their religious biased and false paradigm. God can only use what vessels He has available to speak, but there needs to be what Paul said there needed to be: "let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. 14:30 But if there be a revelation to another sitting [there], let the first be silent. 14:31 For ye can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all be encouraged. " (I Cor. 14:29-31) In this same passage in verse 3 Paul said: Now I desire that ye should all speak with tongues, but rather that ye should prophesy. But greater is he that prophesies than he that speaks with tongues, unless he interpret, that the assembly may receive edification. Here he wanted all the believers to speak with tongues, but even more wished all of them to function in prophecy. So there were to be many prophets in any one assembly. But it seems the majority were to be not so much the speakers as the judges! In the same Body there were those who had the discernment of spirits just in case someone spoke from the source of the "other guy" instead of the Holy Spirit. So, it was not just the content that was to be judged, it was the source by which a brother spoke.
Let me add a personal word here. There is probably no such thing as a "pure" prophecy. The judgment of others does not necessarily mean there must be people in the assembly that are waiting to jump all over you and tear you from limb to limb just as soon as you dare to open your mouth! Far from it! In fact there may be times when you speak wrongly but there will still in some cases be no need for anyone to say anything. You see, I have been in true Body life. And the REAL Headship of the Lord Jesus operates in that situation (sorry pastor! you are fired!!! There is NO need for YOU: its' better and higher for you to be a brother!!). Many times I have stood up to prophecy and in some of the most astoundingly edifying and anointed prophesying I have ever spoken, there was STILL the element of the flesh. And as the Spirit went through me, He was sure to let me know that He did not get out through my mouth and being in such a way that He would have desired to! It may not have even been that there was anything false in what I said. But in the NT age God works together with, in and through man. This is healthy! If you will let Him work through you, you will find the operation of His Spirit upon you negating your natural, self-centered, fleshly man and building up, nourishing, watering and strengthening the new man. In the Life-giving Spirit today in this NT age there is added the humanity of Jesus. There is the killing element of His death to kill the germs of our natural man. There is also the life-giving element of His resurrection to revive and renew our inner man according to His likeness. In this operating Spirit you will also find sanctification, transformation and even the conforming work to conform us to the exact same image of God's Firstborn Son!
I remember one incident in particular (how could I ever forget it!). After the meeting I was even commended by some brothers in that they were built up quite much and nourished by the Spirit through my speaking that morning. But, OH! Was I ever judged that morning! It seemed as if the brass feet of the Son of Man were stomping upon my chest in judgment. It seemed as if He would step on one part of what I said and say: "that was just your flesh!" ... "and that was your pride!" "this part was wood" and "that part was just stubble." Of course it left me wondering whether even 20% was of the Spirit! Of course, this was one of the most healthiest things that has ever happened to me. But I do not think (I hope) that any of it was false doctrine. Anyway, this was all going on without any brother saying even one word to me about it! In the Body situation, the Headship of Christ really works! There have been other times of course when I was electrifyingly enlivened and blessed for the most part during and after speaking in the assembly. Do not forget: death proceeds resurrection and resurrection must follow death. This will change you, no doubt about it.
The eye, of course, is a member, adjacent to the head. some would feel it to be an important member in authority over others. This is not so! It needs to be the most judged member of the body! Jesus said if your eye be single, the whole body would be full of light. He also said " if your eye offends you, gouge it out and throw it away!" It can be VERY OFFENSIVE! Usually these persons are not only hard on others, they are even harder on themselves, being that they are so close to the Head.
What is this member? I don't really know. Maybe this is like Mary was, who sat at the feet of Jesus hearing His word. If so, we ought to be attuned to this member of the Body especially as it was Jesus Who said of her "only one thing is needful; she has chosen the better part." So loving Him, hearing Christ and following Him is THE NEED of the Body. This is the one thing and we do well to pay ALL our attention to this.
Is there the need also for this member to be judged? You had better believe it! It was the Father Who spoke to ears of the disciples after Peter expressed the desire to tabernacle with the Old Testament ancients on the mount of transfiguration and said: "THIS is My Beloved Son. Hear ye HIM." Then when Jesus laid His right hand upon them they looked up and saw no man: Jesus only. You can see that after the ears of the disciple were hearing the Father directing them to Christ, that then their eyes only beheld Him. It was Jesus only. The law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah) were no longer in view. Christ has replaced these old things. He is the prophetic element in the one new man. He is the regulating element according to the inner law of life according to the divine nature within us also.
It is true that Paul said And if the ear say, Because I am not an eye I am not of the body, is it on account of this not indeed of the body? 12:17 If the whole body [were] an eye, where the hearing? if all hearing, where the smelling? 12:18 But now God has set the members, each one of them in the body, according as it has pleased [him]. 12:19 But if all were one member, where the body? (I Cor. 12:16-19) WHY IS THE PASTOR'S NAME ON THE SIGN IN FRONT OF THE CHURCH BUILDING? Where is the Body in this situation? Is the pastor THE member that counts? Paul's word is so necessary here because the functioning of one Christian is so different from another. This is something we must learn about and overcome the need to be like someone else when the Lord has created you to be you and serve a special function and purpose. Also we must learn the lesson of accepting the different brethren and not to reject believers just because they are different from you. In the example of the transfiguration above you see how the ears and eyes work together to point us to Christ. Many oftentimes it must start with hearing Him even as John heard the voice as a trumpet speaking to him on the island of Patmos. After he HEARD it is written by John in Rev. 1:23 & 13: And I turned back to see the voice which spoke with me; and having turned, I saw seven golden lamps, 1:13 and in the midst of the [seven] lamps [one] like [the] Son of man, clothed with a garment reaching to the feet, and girt about at the breasts with a golden girdle: (emphasis mine) Here you see the word turn twice and the word saw twice. But 1st he heard. The hearing comes in first, then follows " I turned to see .... and having turned I saw! " It is noteworthy that John saw Him IN the midst of the lampstands. Christ as the Head the New Man is inseparable from Christ, the Body of the One New Man. This is why Jesus said to Paul on the road to Damascus "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"
How Beautiful The Feet of Them
The feet of Christ's Body are by many thought to be the members who have an evangelistic passion to preach the gospel and win the lost. In Romans 16 Paul wrote that the Lord would soon crush Satan under their feet. Again to some this means that finally the gospel would prevail and many would be saved in Rome. I am not so sure that we can interpret the Bible this easily. Nor am I certain that we can for sure say that the evangelists are the feet of Christ's Body. However, I wish to say that surely the feet are what moves the whole Body in a specific direction, hopefully under the direction of the Head.
There is also another member within the Head that is very much related to the feet. The eyes must be in operation. The feet do not need the ears quite as much in order to proceed, but it would be totally ridiculous for someone to try to walk without the eyes.
So say the eyes were to be proud and say to the feet: "you lowly feet, you have no insight at all - you are blind as a bat! I'm the important one here! Without me, the body would dwell in darkness!" At this the feet may reply: " well, ha! I'm the soul winner who is progressing us onward to victory gospel preaching and increasing our numbers." Do you see how ridiculous this all is? Without the eyes, the feet will not progress well at all. The Body will and may run fast, but it will run into the wall and get hurt! However without the feet, the Body may have all light and knowledge of all mysteries. It may also have insight into the best map in town and have the plan down; but without the feet, the Body is going nowhere! You can see that especially these two members need each other even though they are situated so far from one another. But here again I pose a good question: WHAT ABOUT ALL THE MEMBERS IN BETWEEN THESE TWO INTERDEPENDENT MEMBERS WHO ARE SITUATED SO FAR FROM EACH OTHER???? If there is not an interconnectedness and a healthy life flow of all the members between these two then all of this talk is nonsense!!!! Do you see how far we have gotten away from the Lord's blueprint given to Paul on the building of the Body of Christ? Where is this building today? Have you seen it? My point in saying all this is that as long as Christians are in a situation with a pastor there will be a serious lack in their Christian life. And the worst part about it all is that some believers will not have realized what they had missed out on until they go to meet the Lord.
There are two items of tradition here. One is the salary or payment made to someone to do the "work of the Lord." and the other is the pulpiteering, which I can hardly find the heart to write about because it turns my stomach! (what? too much honesty and sharing for you? Too bad!).
The idea of salaries for the "priesthood" got big around the time of Constantine of course, but probably had it's first origin with Balaam, the corrupted OT prophet, who received wages from men for his God-given gift of prophetic foretelling utterances and powers to bless or curse. Of course the "money thing" watered him down into a compromising position and eventually because he received the wages of unrighteousness, he took a course of action that did much harm to God's people. This is obviously not a good example to follow. The real roots of course of the salary thing is a lack of love for Christ. In Revelation 2 the Lord speaks of leaving our first love for Him to a people who were so much into their works for the Lord that it became more and more duty and less out of the burning love as it had been at first. The Lord did not ask them to stop their labors. He only implored them to return to the "first works." Soon after this decline in the hearts of his people we hear about them that held the "doctrine of Balaam" and it is obvious that to keep the same standard of works for the Lord when it was no longer out of the burning love for Christ was to hire certain ones for pay to do the extra labor for a salary while the more "carnal" believers worked regular types of jobs. This is also a result of the dysfunction of the members of the Body.
So where did pulpiteering start? The open air preaching which lasted about 5 to 15 minutes in the marketplace and was nearly always evangelistic was never behind some pulpit. and it certainly was not done on Sunday morning at 11:00 in a weird looking building with a steeple on it. (yawwwnnn!) The practice of sermonizing started with (yuk!!!) Greek orators who were the "movie stars" of their day. They would read a text from a book, stand behind their ambo (which is where our modern pulpit came from) and orate concerning what they read from Homer or Aristotle's works. It was Crystotem who after being one of these great orators got saved and started doing the same thing for Jesus. But this was NOT the same thing that was done in the first century except maybe that some of this was done by Apollos in the NT story. As you could see from careful study, Apollos way of Greek oratorical public speaking was powerful enough to cause problems amongst the Corinthians enough to make them divisive. It was a problem that was not very easy to handle. It is even more difficult today in this age where knowledge has increased but has even given to Paul's words an application to Biblical knowledge when he said that men would be always learning, and never able to come to [the] knowledge of [the] truth. (II Tim. 3:7)
Syncretisms versus the Simple Manna
The manna was the food the children of Israel ate until they got into the Good Land of Canaan and ate the produce of the land of milk and honey. The simple manna is missing today because it is boring to many. But if we would only be faithful, the Lord would bring us into the good land of the riches of Christ to no end! I believe that something is definitely missing as far as what we should be enjoying today. In Colossians 3:16 Paul says Let the word of the Christ dwell in you richly, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another, in psalms, hymns, spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to God. This practice of speaking and singing the Word to one another may not seem as exciting as a worship rock concert or a specialized worship service but this manna is sweet when you get into the practice of it it will become the land of Canaan eventually which is far better than anything as it is the surpassing excellency of the knowledge of Christ. This is God's way but it does not seem to be the right way for too too many Christians to feed upon the word. They think it's better to listen to endless sermons. When will it ever end??? Is THAT what we will do in heaven???
So what is a syncretism? A syncretism is something that takes its elements from one thing and another thing and makes a totally new thing with it. This has been seen with many of Christianity's traditions and practices. Sometimes even the anointing has been forcibly mixed up with these things. For instance sermons come from the tradition of Greek Oratory and many times the orator was very ego exalted from giving his speech. This is true with many preachers today. The problem is when you add the leaven to Christ making the meal offering sweeter to some folk it can become quite a habit. What is this? The anointing of God added to the thrill of Greek Oratory? Wow! And IF it IS the gospel, the power of God and the Word of the cross being preached, then God has no choice but to anoint this sermonizing at least somewhat. So, you see, the sermon is neither Greek Oratory OR the original preaching of the gospel. It is something completely new. Let's face it - the scriptures are already anointed! That's a hard one to beat. The Lord for the most part had to withhold His enlightenment from these preachers so as not to allow this addiction to become too much but nevertheless this addiction has prevailed to replace Christ for centuries. The PULPIT is placed as the center of the Protestant churches. But, as anointed as this sermonizing may or may not be, it is nevertheless a distraction from the most important "one thing needful" and that is to love Jesus Christ who longs to be our real CENTER of everything! It seemed God's people have left this one basic thing long long ago. What could be more sad than this! Is there any worse tragedy??? This is terrible. If you ever wept over anything, you ought to stop and weep over what you are reading at this moment.
This is one of the main results of the stupefying developments of the things that resulted from the clergy-laity system as noted above. There exists on this earth today literally countless thousands and even millions of Christians today who are dormant dysfunctional members of the Body of Christ and the family of God. and some of them actually are so asleep that they think they are OK! They are taught that they are supposed to "go to church" (find THAT one in the Bible if you can) and "listen to the sermon" (that is not in the Bible either) and in doing so they are doing their duty as Christians and that this is living "according to the Bible!" Wow! What insane logic! Excuse me for saying this but I don't see any brains in any of this except the preachers are keeping their pockets filled with the money from their parishioners tithes! I truly think God's people have been robbed.
All Things Unto Building
As long as there is a silent laity sitting in pews staring at the back of someone's neck drifting off to sleep, we will never fulfill Paul's admonition to the Corinthians in I Cor 14:26 "What is it then, brethren? whenever ye come together, each [of you] has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done to edification." I have been in this type of meeting. And although it is not something you should try to make happen - it should flow out of the love of Christ being poured into God's chosen ones who have been birthed into the proper spiritual life and environment for this to happen. Still, when it really happens it is glorious beyond description! Someone will start a song which exalts the Lord and makes Him to be known in some way you never saw Him before. Then a testimony from a sister who has been helped by relating to this same aspect of the Lord's supply at some point in her life. This may be followed by another brother with a gift of healing for someone there who especially needs the Lord in this way at a crucial point of need in his life (without discourse back and forth, how could any of this ever happen?) and his healing just builds upon a wonderful revelation of the Lord that has been building up and growing in this meeting! These kinds of meetings are exciting and you leave more filled up then when you came and believe me in the true Body life you come already filled up to overflowing! And you don't come to a meeting to GET, you come to GIVE because you are too overflowing to not come to the meeting in order to release that which is pent up within you. This is the opposite of the organized church. Of course when you have meeting like this you get more filled in the flowing of the Body than ever, you never want to ever leave the meeting and you just fall in love with the Lord Jesus Christ all over again!!!
The Fullness of Him that Fills All in ALL
The fullness of Christ IS His Body. He cannot be fulfilled or satisfied without us to express the wonders of Who He is. In I Cor 14 there is the edifying through prophesying, but there is also the edifying through the giving of thanks. This of course can be all kinds of thanksgivings, songs and words of praise centered on the Real Center of the gathering. In a neighborhood situation it is more than just meetings - it is a growing appreciation of the growing of the Lord within and overflowing through the brothers and sisters you are in almost constant fellowship with. At this point there are just no more words that I have because this gets beyond me but possibly some brothers will help me out here.
In Ephesians 1:22 & 23, Paul says that God has put all things under his feet, and gave him [to be] head over all things to the assembly, 1:23 which is his body, the fulness of him who fills all in all: This is quite significant in that we fill or rather fulfill Him and in doing so we are filled not just as individuals but as His bodily expression expressing a life that is so wonderful there are not even 1% of the words needed in the human language to describe it! Hmmm! So there IS a way for Christ to be Head over his people in ALL things! Wow! wow! Wow! How would YOU (not by yourself but built in the Body) like to BE the fullness of Him, of Christ? I tell you, this clergy laity system has to be eliminated or there is no chance for the restoration of the things I am writing about. The system makes even the resurrection fullness of none effect!! Well, my dear reader, it is time to move on.
1. Church Buildings
OK, here I am again sticking my neck out again, so I'll get right to the point: what is written in the church history books concerning church buildings IS A LIE!!!! AN OUTRIGHT LIE!!! Prove it, you say? I'll let Brother Frank and the others who have taken the time to dig this all out help you with this, but you are going to have to take the time to investigate this if you are going to know it for sure. (Sounds like I'm shoveling it off on Frank, huh? Well I believe he's already done a good job in the historical department. OK, here's an update: now that I have Frank's Book: he backs up what I am saying that church buildings began in 327 A.D. with Constantine. There is NO historical proof whatsoever that they existed before that date ANYWHERE ANYTIME! PERIOD!!) The root documents upon which the so-called facts about "church buildings in the 1st and 2nd centuries" are unreachable, being that they are located in the untouchable vaults underneath the Vatican in Rome. So, as a result, there are many drafts of so-called church history saying church buildings existed before the 4th century, pointing to so-called facts to verify it. The real truth is that ARCHEOLOGICAL FINDS of that era turns up nothing of the kind except a house with a torn out wall proving that church buildings started within the brain of Constantine.
The gut feeling of many preachers these days is that their church building is an offshoot of the Old Testament temple but even if that were the root, would that make it right? Unfortunately, the truth is that the real roots of today's church buildings were the pagan idol worship temples. Some of the architecture used for some of the denominational structures being used today actually have their roots in the Roman bath houses used for such things as orgies. I have dared to bring these facts out because I have found that all some believers need is to discover where these practices actually got started and that's all they need in order to drop them.
Care for One Another
Did you ever go to church and the pastor gave you the allotted two minutes (one maybe?) to shake hands with the guy or girl in the pew in front of you and maybe they would remember your name? Well, I bring this up as an example of the ridiculousness of it all. C'mon! Is that New Testament fellowship? Maybe it's the devil's idea of a joke!! What do I mean maybe? He's laughing his head off at this kind of stupidity. Look what care these Christians have for one another. NOT! They are looking at their watches wondering when they can go home! Spending hours upon hours of time together in worship???? What? Who does that? Well, thank God at least there ARE Christians in the poor nation of India who do do this. We can thank God there has been some work of recovering things lost since the first century experience.
In I Cor. 12:24-26 Paul writes: but our comely [parts] have not need. But God has tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to [the part] that lacked; 12:25 that there might be no division in the body, but that the members might have the same concern one for another. 12:26 And if one member suffer, all the members suffer with [it]; and if one member be glorified, all the members rejoice with [it]. Church buildings make this intimacy and tempering impossible. The tendency, 1st of all, is to intimidate you to "keep silent before the Lord." But I'm not alone with God when I'm with other Christians!" When Paul speaks of the members having the same concern for one another, does anyone REALLY even know what he is talking about? Is it possible to be such members of one another and so close that when one member suffers all the members suffer with it? WHERE IS THIS TODAY? Have we ever dared ask these questions? WAKE UP!!!!! Have you YET seen that we as Christians today are a horse of a different color and not at all like the believers in the 1st century even though Paul was writing to Corinth: by far the most problematic, carnal group of people Paul ever had to deal with! And they understood more of what Paul was writing about to them then you MAY EVER UNDERSTAND IN YOUR LIFETIME BECAUSE OF THE CRIPPLED SITUATION OF THE SHALLOW AGE YOU LIVE IN!!!!!!
Speaking to One Another
Again I will quote Paul: this time from Ephesians 5:19: "speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and chanting with your heart to the Lord; 5:20 giving thanks at all times for all things to him [who is] God and [the] Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ," This "speaking to yourselves" is obviously meaning speaking to one another (the term "one another" is in the sister passage in Colossians). But here is at least hope for those of you who cannot get into this kind of fellowship due to your situation. There is a little bit written about the individual Christian life. You CAN speak the words of a hymn to yourself all by yourself and still be graced by the Lord. In fact many times you must do it this way. However it should be done as a submitting member of the corporate Christ. It is far easier to live and grow in the Christian life in the context of the fellowship with one another due to that is how God planned it to be done. But, of course His grace will be sufficient for you even if you should happen to get yourself onto Patmos island like John did.
Submission to One Another
Paul goes on in the same passage to say in vs. 21: submitting yourselves to one another in [the] fear of Christ. This is not saying brothers have the right to lord it over one another. This is NOT a bunch of "little hitlers" giving out orders. We have already dealt with this subject previously. This submission is as unto the Lord as denoted in the words "in the fear of Christ" this is the reality of the Headship of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let me ask you, how can a body move, walk, breath without the constant operation of the head? The head sends signals constantly through and to the members of its body all the time. Where do the signals from the head proceed through to specific members? Through the adjacent members! It is quite a common thing for the authority of Christ to pass through almost any member of His Body when Christians are in a healthy relationship (which is, I admit, very rare today). Most of time, in this situation, authority will pass through a member without the member even knowing it! And these religious fanatical Pharisees over yonder keep saying we need the "covering" of "the pastor"! (yyaaAWNNN!!!!) There is, in the normal Body-life, more operation of the Lordship of Christ than anywhere else! And it is not coerced. "His commandments are not grievous" takes on its true meaning. Rather than a grief, there is a joyous acceptance though not all items of doing His will may be joyous in themselves.
There are many in the house church movement today who are actually in that "rare" group of which I have been speaking of which are in the right direction meeting under the Headship of Christ who still use the term "church" and although they see a problem with it, I guess they have not seen it very clearly because they still use the term. I would like to propose that the very use of the term is damaging. It was Clement of Alexandria that first used the term "go to church" which causes the existence of a wholly different concept to the human brain than the original concept of the ecclesia: that being a people built together as living stones to be the living habitation of the living God.
The English word "church" actually stems from the Greek word "kuriakon," which actually means "belonging to the Lord," and is only used twice in the NT. So why is the Greek word "ecclesia" translated "church" today??? William Tyndale should be commended because he did not translate "ecclesia" to "church" in his translation. rather he used "congregation," which is closer to the truth.
There are some who are claiming that the term "church" never should have meant a big architectural building with people coming together to worship God and hear a preacher but rather that it should mean the people of God assembled together AS the true building composed with living stones for God's habitation. BUT the FIRST meaning is exactly what the men who first brought the word into the English speaking translations meant for it to mean. If you'll check out the newly revised book online: The Great Ecclesiastical Conspiracy , then you will see that there was some definite forethought as to the use of this term and many other terms in the way many of the translations of the Bible in English were brought about. Especially did this conspiracy play out in the political and religious planning of the King James Version in King James era. It was no accident!
The word "church" is actually not Greek or English. It has been made to mean something that did not exist in the first century and should not exist now!! Again, I say this is a pagan concept but if you trace it's roots and study the roots of this term, again, you will see that it has it's roots in the clergy laity system. If you follow the link above, you will get more insight into it. Anyhow, the Greek word ecclesia is translated wrongly as "church" and should not have been. The real English meaning of the word ecclesia is the assembly of the called out ones.
Even the NT term assembly is made of none effect as to what it should mean to us. The riches lost to us are unfathomable. We are supposed to be stones fashioned and fitted together for a habitation of God through the Spirit. Wow! Double WOW!!!!! Can you imagine the reality of this? My point is God has unveiled the reality of this reality to me personally by the Holy Spirit. From that day on I could never forget it. I have to cry out like a madman that we are living below our privileges in Christ Jesus!! Paul said in Eph. 2:19-22 the following: So then ye are no longer strangers and foreigners, but ye are fellow-citizens of the saints, and of the household of God, 2:20 being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the corner-stone, 2:21 in whom all [the] building fitted together increases to a holy temple in the Lord; 2:22 in whom *ye* also are built together for a habitation of God in [the] Spirit. The glory, beauty and togetherness of being a stone built into this kind of glorious temple filled to overflowing with His glory cannot be described in human words. Folks, I have not just seen a revelation in the spirit of these things, I have experienced them with certain rare groups of Christians who were in the proper NT unity enough to be built together. Assembly surely means the pieces of a puzzle or building etc. get joined together except our joining together is the actual organic joining of life as to the members to His Body or the branches to Him as the vine. The sap flowing through THAT Vine is most wonderful!
From House to House
Oh! The riches that have been lost to us! We ought to sit in sackcloth and pile ashes on our heads! I think we would if we could only really see what has been given to us but we didn't know about it! What an awful grief. It is like some street person who did not know they had millions in a certain bank account. This is the worst tragedy of this present day. How come there are not more men crying out about this awful chain of events????????
The very concept of the word "church" makes us feel that this "holy gathering" can only take place at certain times and places (yes, even if you think that place is someone's living room!). Oh! How we need to be unveiled! I remembered some of my experiences with brothers in the Navy and how we met in this small dark room for developing film while we were out to sea. It was so small in there that we were packed in there like sardines and had hardly room to move! But we so worshipped Christ that we were sometimes lost in Him up in the heavenlies somewhere! The things God wrought in our midst and in our lives were deep, miraculous and totally life changing! It's true, we didn't know what we were doing and could have done better but Christ couldn't have done better! Do not think that we limited our meetings to that place on the ship! Do you think that God limited His blessings to us only when we got together there? There were other times and places where the Spirit literally fell upon us! When one of us met up with just one other brother out on weather decks in sight of the beautiful cloud formations and waves (that you can only see out there at sea), we considered it a meeting. Do not think that "house to house" means that Christians assembling with other believers is limited to houses? It can and should happen anywhere! On the hill; at the park; out at the shopping mall. Let me ask you: is this your experience or has it ever been?
This union is one thing at least that is hard for scholars to disagree on. Most agree and admit that it happened with Constantine in 312. He made Christianity accepted (even exalted) instead of rejected by the political powers and it is the most damaging thing that has EVER happened to Christians. There have been many fallouts and traditions added since then but most of them have something to do with this mixture with the world that took place under Constantine's rule. Many of the "priests" (including himself because he made himself one!) were also members of high places in government and even government officials. In fact it became a popular and coveted job description to become a priest or clergyman as you might even get into political power from there! How's that for getting ahead, huh?
Of course, the Protestant churches have to their credit a series of splits from political ties but at first this was not so. They were very much tied to the politics of the country they were in for a long time such as the Dutch Reformed Church in Holland and the Anglican Church in England. Although the Catholic Church remained the staunchest marriage of church and state and has even become a physical nation for centuries now, which nation is the Vatican in Rome, Italy, your life has been profoundly influenced by this happenstance .... as you are about to see.
Seated in Heavenly Places Together
The reality is that the assembly of the Lord is an "other-world" entity and according to Christ is a kingdom which is NOT of this world. Have you yet tasted the riches of being seated with other believers together with Christ on His throne in the heavenlies? Sitting together with Him on His throne? But a prerequisite is to be not of this world or as Paul said "not too busy with the affairs of this life." Having the people of God mixed with politics in their so-called church meetings must surely be a detriment! What?!? You would rather have a place of political power?? In Christ believers are already over principalities, powers, rulers etc. etc. and the list goes on. I was with a group of believers who were in shock (I was probably shocked the most) because we agreed as touching concerning some political powers in the USSR and asked that the iron curtain might come down. It DID come down the very next day!!!!!!! Do we even start in this generation to know what's been lost of the riches of being of Jesus Christ? Does anyone even know who it is we are in Him? Do we even have a clue? Of course I'm just scratching the surface of what's up there in the heavenly places in Christ. The Bible says we have literally been blessed with ALL spiritual blessings in Him there already!!!!!!
I think I have already explained how this came about but let me try again. It was in the 400s and mainly if it could be pointed to only one guy would have to be pinned on John Crystotem (Crystotem means "golden mouth") who after being saved came up with the idea (from the devil maybe?) that he should use his same talent which he had used for that day's "theater" and oratory and employ it for Christ. (Hmmm.. more of the world being added) Here's another guy whom I believe never had much fellowship with the Lord before getting into a major enterprise. But boy oh boy! What an anointing there is when you mix the proclamation of the Word with Greek oratory! God can't help it! The Word is his very breath and if preached correctly, there is going to be anointing and even signs following because the Word is anointed! So also, it has become quite an addicting thing. Many are addicted to it. It has accentuated the position of the clergy by eloquence, education and the prestige of superior wisdom making the so-called "laity" even more laid back! How much more downtrodden can these layman get? Oh! Believe me, they are going to find ways to exalt clergy men even more. Of course, other traditions such as seminaries and Bible Colleges followed hard upon this one and the concept that you must go to seminary to get superior knowledge and theology in order to be a good minister still exists very strongly today.
So now, here's a correction and addition: now that I've read Frank's new book: although it is true that Crystotem and Augustine had the BIGGEST influence on the "sermon" thing, it seemed to have started in the 2nd/3rd century with Clement, who (even though he lamented that sermons did so little to change Christians!!!!), because of his paganism brought in a lot of other bothersome ideas into the mainstream of Christian thought. The actual practice of orating began in Greece five centuries before Christ and was a thing of the world long before it ever got mixed in with Christian practices which was in the 2nd century though Paul did mention problems arising from allowing Greek culture to have any influence over spiritual things.
Fulfilling the Will of God
I have already covered many of the aspects of things that have been lost due to sermons under the clergy laity section. I will tell you straight out that most of the damages are due to this practice of the sermon and not allowing the members of Christ to be able to function even when they want to. The problem is that today the people of God have become so dead that most of them do NOT want to function. They are content with enduring the agony of sitting there lazy one hour a week and think their "Christian duty" is done and they can do their own thing now.
It's ironic that the very thing that is supposedly in place to allow the Word of God to be published which is supposed to cause us to fulfill the WILL of God is the very thing that is the BIGGEST CULPRIT TO DO THE OPPOSITE!! You must get clear on the following point: UNTIL WE DO AWAY WITH THE SERMON THE WILL OF GOD CAN NEVER BE FULFILLED AMONGST HIS PEOPLE!!!! What IS the will of God? Paul tells us in Romans 12:1-5: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the compassions of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, [which is] your intelligent service. 12:2 And be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of [your] mind, that ye may prove what [is] the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. 12:3 For I say, through the grace which has been given to me, to every one that is among you, not to have high thoughts above what he should think; but to think so as to be wise, as God has dealt to each a measure of faith. 12:4 For, as in one body we have many members, but all the members have not the same office; 12:5 thus we, [being] many, are one body in Christ, and each one members one of the other. His will is to build up the one Body of Christ to express His Son to all! And this One is the Living Word to communicate and express the Living God to and into man! This is what fulfills His heart His plan and this is another term for what is known as "the eternal purpose." Paul said this purpose was to sum up all things in Christ by a heading up but this Heading up must begin with His people. How can there be any heading up without the reality of His Body? Makes you wonder if this evil age will ever end doesn't it? Do not worry, the Lord is finding and will yet find at least a remnant who will return to Zion and fulfill His heart. But don't you want to be of that number?
Members of One Another
It is possible that without the functioning of others your function will not function because "we are members of one another." Can a hand do anything the arm AND the rest of a living Body? So you say OK we got a preacher but it doesn't mean we are not together. Hmmmm .... well, if you move just your hand and nothing else for two months what will happen to the rest of your body? This "preacher being THE MAN (God's man of the hour?) thing has got to go!! YOU also should be the man of the hour!!!!!! All of us! C'mon! WE are the holy ones of the living God!!! We are IT!! There is nothing heavier than us the vessels, though the vessels are earthen because we have the eternal treasure inside!
A Living Sacrifice
Notice there many bodies (plural) but ONE Sacrifice which is or Who is Christ. This again must mean that it is the Body offered to God which pleases God and therefore it is Christ's Body being built which is the will of God and this pleases Him. This is also Paul's definition of "holy." Holy means separated to God for His purpose. I do not even think that holiness should be an individualistic thing but that it must be corporate and the many members must be in on it. Even the transformation which is a gradual displacing of the old elements of our old creation to replace those with the new elements of the new creation which is obviously a thing of our individual Christian life (especially happening in the mind, will and emotion of the soul and should enliven our physical body eventually as well) is easier to experience, bear and advance into when you are "members of one another."
The Building Up Into Him
The purpose of the Christian assembly should be to literally mingle God and man together and this is building. This is accomplished by the members of Christ functioning in either speaking to God or speaking to man but if it is in tongues, there had better be an interpretation so that real edification can take place. No sermon can compare to the message of Christ that comes out of the building revelation of Christ when the Lord builds a revelation of Himself through the sharing of the many members in a assembly. I have been in these kind of meetings! They are glorious! Once you've tasted this, you could never go back to a steady diet of hearing messages even if the messages are done not according to the pagan traditions.
How can ALL THE DIFFERENT MEASURES be fitted together when they sit there idle, while only one person "functions" (I even question some of these preachers' functions as to whether it is always true functioning). As a result many do not even accept different members from themselves. One reason may be that they've seen little or no functioning at all making it even harder to accept members so totally different from themselves. But I have to repeat this because it's VERY important and we don't easily get it - we must learn to accept members whose function is so very different from our own. There will never be the tempering and building up of the One true Body without this. Even Paul back in his day had to stress this fact. How much more difficult it is to accept today.
Did you ever feel like you just don't fit? Well maybe you don't! I'm not trying to discourage you but you need to somehow be in right relationship with the Body as a member who just fits right in and functions normally. I will tell you the first thing to do. Leave the organized church and any movement that has anything to do with something that even looks like a pastor or minister who ministers endless boring sermons for the rest of his life. (your life too???) Even if they aren't boring you still are going to feel as if you are dying on the Vine (Maybe you feel as if you're not even attached). In fact if the sermons aren't boring you may be hooked - you may have an even worse problem.
I have yet in my research to scratch the surface of the damages that have been done by those who have taken a verse from one book of the Bible and then another from another book of the Bible and make a new religion with it. As a result of this trend, which was started by so-called reputable Bible teachers by the way, Antichrist cults and new religions have multiplied in this generation.
But the damages done within the confines of Christianity are even worse. Let's face it, if you damage the channel ordained by God for Him to actually flow through, you have done exceedingly more damage than to damage humanity outside of the Kingdom. But if it were not for the division of the scriptures into chapters and verses this damage would not have been as much.
Where did this come from? I will leave this discussion to others. You will have purchase a copy of Pagan Christianity I guess, to find out. I will basically sum it up for you however as I have done with these other traditions as to their origins. I have been fortunate to discover several findings on this subject in years past but it has been piece work at best. Suffice it to say, it was a very gradual thing through the centuries. It seemed to be related to the Greek Orators who took their text from chapter so and so, verse so and so before they would perform. (hmmmm .... so that's where the pastor got it from!!) It seems to have been fully introduced into holy writ (by numbering sentences) in France by Robert Stephanus about the same time as John Calvin lived although there seems to be no relation between the two. Before this chapters were introduced to the Bible by Stephen Langton in Paris in 1227. There were many other things in relation to this trend that happened but I need to study it further myself. To see what the damages were and how this developed in Christianity as far as piece work Bible study please see my article on The Western Mindset and how the Greek philosophical mindset influenced Christianity gradually - so gradually that hardly anyone noticed.
Clouding the Story of the First Century
This is a subject Gene Edwards takes up quite much in his books which are obtainable from Seedsowers. The fact that when the original documents were read straight through within the historical context of their day has not been paid due attention before Gene Edwards took up this subject. Yes, it's true: by taking verses from different parts of the Bible you can prove almost anything - just add a little logic and throw in some Greek philosophy and Walla! A new religion is born. We have lost the first century story in a cloud of philosophical theology.
What the first century Christians did and what we do are two totally different things! How come today's preachers can't see this? Honestly, I know for a fact that some of them whom I have known DO see these things somewhat but still go on in their ways because they don't know how to change, don't care or are totally irresponsible because they want their monthly salary and prestige. But if you were to just read the NT by reading the books from start to finish with a background of the historical setting, then you are locked in to what it really was. Too many Christians today prefer to study the Bible in other more permissive ways.
The choir definitely started with Constantine and his era. The Gregorian chants had their origin in the idol temples of that time period and there were groups of people standing before others singing in this fashion. I hate to tell you this but even today's Christian rock entertainment has it's roots right from there. Of course, church choirs and everything that has stemmed from it has been a blessing to many people and many have even been saved or converted from these means. But does that mean the things of God have not been mixed with something else to make a whole new thing? Again we are back to the word syncretism. It happens when you take two different things and add them together to make a third thing entirely different.
I do not know that there were not those who sang a solo in the first century assemblies. Maybe there were, but generally speaking entertainment and worship are not the same thing. If a gospel music group gets people saved in the park, they have done a good thing. But will their fruit from this build up the Body of Christ? Good is not always God. Jesus said God [is] a spirit; and they who worship him must worship [him] in spirit and truth. (John 4:24) When people are listening to a rock band are they in spirit adoring Christ or are they looking at the singers and grooving to the tunes? Sometimes there may be artists who do exalt Christ with their God-given gift or talent and I do admit that God can be exalted through these things and Christians are actually brought to the Lord in spirit to worship Christ. But here is the matter of syncretism again. There is still the stage where certain ones are set above the others! There is still a clergy laity relationship because those on stage are in control of the worship! there is still an aspect where the singers are up on stage and much of the time the audience is silent! To worship silently is something you can do better at home by yourself! That goes for tongues speaking too! Paul said he would rather speak five understandable words in the assembly than ten thousand in tongues so that folks could get built up!
The Building Up Into Him
This was the point, the goal, of Christians ministry according to Paul in I Cor. 14 where he says: What is it then, brethren? whenever ye come together, each [of you] has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done to edification. You can see items of speaking to God and items of speaking to man but all of them are to edification which is building (of course I do believe in the non-speaking type of building through healing, and showing mercy etc. but these do not build up the Body spiritually as much as the speaking gifts do). Prophecy is a major factor to build up one another but so is worship in this chapter. The purpose of the Christian assembly should be to literally mingle God and man together and this is building. This is accomplished by the members of Christ functioning in either speaking to God or speaking to man but if it is in tongues, there had better be an interpretation so that real edification can take place. Today there are many believers putting a big emphasis on worship, even using the term "worship service." But this term is not found in the Bible! The goal of the assembly is building NOT worship! Worship is merely the means to the end. When meetings are heading to the right goal you will find that worship is much more awesome than you could even dream up. This is because Christ is in the CENTER. HE is the goal because we are built up into Him and then He becomes Head in ALL things more and more. In 14:17 it says: For *thou* indeed givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. Again, this is about not understanding due to uninterpreted tongues not being understood. But do you see the light in this verse? When the opposite takes place and the thanksgiving is understood then the others ARE edified, meaning of course that an appreciation of Christ wells up in their heart and they realize what they have in Him or they realize how precious He is to them replacing other distractions or they see something of what the Lord can do, will do or has already done through the NT covenant. Do you see? This builds not only their faith but their love and consequently they may see more because of what has been going on with them concerning the Lord and they once again either speak new praise to Christ or build an even fuller view of the Lord through possibly a testimony of what the Lord has done for them.
The Father Heart of God
It needs to be said here that I am NOT attacking dear saints of God that don't know any better (and most do NOT in these dark times), rather I am aiming my gun at the system to which the majority of we Christians are attached. Something must be said here concerning the Fatherhood of God as concerning worship. From God's point of view there is something that deeply touches His heart when one of His children, who is shadowed over by the religious system and clouded by troubles and trials in this dark age goes to a Baptist church and from the heart still worships God! How it moves Him! What joy He experiences! In the future kingdom such deep meaning to the reality of worship will not exist! Just to think that we can move God with our few little songs in a way that perhaps all the angels of heaven cannot! No matter what kind of group you meet with and what you decide to do with these truths I'm presenting, worship is still so very special and life changing!
The pulpit was first called an "ambo" and was found in temples but of course later on it was used by the Greek Orators. Again, are not these the props of mere entertainment many times instead of the exaltation of Christ? Is it not the speaker or the minister that is being lifted up so often for his "good sermon" rather than Christ? Ok, if not then why do some folks choose to go to a church where the pastor has more of a sense of humor so they can be better entertained. I tell you, these people need a revival! They are just playing church!
The Center and Circumference
Our true center must be Christ but the sermon has become the center of Protestant meetings. It was Martin Luther who took the Catholic altar (their center was the sacraments) from the center of the stage and put the pulpit in its place because he believed that the proclamation of the word ought to be the main thing in a Christian meeting. Do you see the problem with this? Christ and Christ alone should be the Center of all of our meetings. In Eph. 1:10 Paul writes for [the] administration of the fulness of times; to head up all things in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things upon the earth; in him, This means that everything visible or invisible is supposed to revolve around Him and even be headed up by Him! So He is also the circumference of all things because As Head heading them all up they will be under the signal of His Headship.
But look at Christian meetings today. How is the poor world ever going to get it straight that Christ is THE CENTER if Christians can't even get it straight?
Our practices of this holiday have surely changed and evolved through the years. Most people like this holiday, but some get depressed because they do not have much of a family left. Etc. For an overview of the roots of this holiday, which are definitely pagan I will point you to the book entitled "The Two Babylons"
There are many articles online by many Christian authors concerning the pros and cons of this holiday. You can search for them if you wish but it is not my time or place to even deal with it here as it is not a tradition which has anything to do with Christian meetings much so I actually have little or no problem with this particular tradition. I will leave this subject at that.
This again brings us back to the Greek Orators who started this practice. It seems that 2nd century Christians fell under the sway of this practice, having become too enamored with respect for their departed saints and loved ones. In fact they started at that point doing weird things to commemorate them and even pray for them, etc. The written funeral sermons in books today are so like unto the ones the Greek orators used to use that it's eerie. To have these kind of services just provides more "job security" for the pastor guy and I believe the rug ought to be pulled out from underneath this man and he ought to go out and get another job!
I've already covered this one under chapters and verses somewhat but this practice actually comes from the converted Greek orators who used to go to one part of the room and take their text just like today's preachers do and sit down and go to another lectern or pulpit as it is called in different churches, and then do his spellbinding oratory.
All of this of course tends to exalt the one up front and to produce classes among believers who have got no classes! I once went to what is called the "oldest church in America" in downtown Charleston, South Carolina for a visit to see it. It was so old it still had two circular pulpits high above the congregation. (hey! isn't the exaltation of some over others getting too obvious here???) Anyhow, one guy would go up the winding stairwell inside the rounded structure on the left of us the congregation and climb the stairs to a position about 9 or 10 feet above us to do a scripture reading. Then another guy who was the rector or pastor would climb the winding staircase inside the other structure on the right of the congregation to climb to the same level inside that pulpit to give the sermon which was one of the most boring dead sermons I ever heard in my life. If that guy who did that was really so far above me let me go crawl into my grave right now! Do you see the point?
Speaking to One Another
I have already covered these points but again, when someone stands so far above you it is intimidating and that's why very few in this tradition ever speak as they feel too shy and/or unworthy. Only in the speaking to one another will there be any chance of the reality of Christ being expressed through His members.
This seems to have been the first development of Catholicism soon after the formation of the Roman Catholic church. This was due to the spiritual hunger left by the void of formal ritualistic religion. this hunger took on some weird shapes in that the people most exalted were not the evangelists who get their feet dirty contacting and saving the world like some today, but rather the hermits who stay as far away from people as possible as long as possible!
I have dealt with Monasticism earlier in this book but here I'd like to just mention that its tendency is to make folks feel unworthy unless they do more than the average guy to get God to love them! It blocks out a big part of the revelation of God's grace.
This started between the 3rd and 5th centuries with the desire to train the new priests how to perform their duties and rituals, so was not so academic as "practical." Later, it changed. Here's a big one. Believe it or not, this came not from the desire to train ministers as much as from the desire to clean up the rampant immorality of the people. I think it was the Council of Trent. They came up with two decisions: #1 was to put the stone fig leaves on the genitals of statues throughout the land because they believed that this artwork was the cause of the immorality of their day! You may laugh, but many have the same concepts today also! #2 decision was to create Seminaries to educate the clergymen and priests etc. Of course Protestantism followed suit with this one later on except some of them changed the name to "Bible School." Can you see this is just the same kind of fig leaf covering to make a quick fix for a problem? Makes me think of Adam and Eve fixing the fig leave covering but then hiding in the bushes cause it still wasn't good enough. To try to fix the problems in the clergy by saying they just needed some education was too cheap of a cover up. And I ask you, what has been the result? The same old thing of puffing up the clergyman with pride preparing him for a fall which was oftentimes into immorality. On the other hand it intimidated the poor "layman" making them feel dumb, stupid, retarded and (I think you get the point) downright inferior. As a result, knowledge has been exalted instead of Christ in you the hope of glory.
The Training of the Twelve
This has been lost sight of. Jesus in order to train His envoys to go out with His message actually lived with them and was a constant example due to His constant inner life with the Father day and night! He taught them using the scriptures to be sure but His big job was to train them to live by another life which was rather difficult because they did not even have spiritual life within them yet! All He had to motivate them with was THE supreme example of someone in deep and wonderful communion with God 24 hours a day! The sweetness of communion they beheld and the producing of so much help and abundant life to give to so many in need WAS the training of the twelve! They BEHELD the Lamb of God! And it blew them away!
Paul re-did this kin of training with 8 men (see Acts 20 for the list of them) late in his ministry, but it was not till he was an old man matured in divine life to the point where he felt he could at least do somewhat of the same thing Jesus Christ did with the twelve. This is the problem as to why this kind of training has been lost sight of. Because there is hardly anyone spiritual enough to do it that is even living on this planet right now. The advantage Paul had was that the inner fellowship eternally flowing between the Father and the Son which was not a factor inside the twelve, WAS a factor within the eight because they were already in the new creation and partakers of the Holy Spirit and had been experiencing this rich fellowship for many years already with the advantage of the assembly life that was in place at that time (the kind that Paul birthed). This possibly even outweighed the factor of Paul not having the same qualifications as the Lord Jesus did. This is why Christ said "GREATER works shall you do because I go to the Father" (there's that fellowship again!!).
I have dealt with this subject already but would like to say there is a lot more links in the chain of the chain of command system in the Catholic church than in the Protestant church. I would like to point out that it is not surprising that the Catholic is called "Roman" because this chain of command system has literally taken over the entire world and is carrying to this day very Roman earmarks in almost every society. The chain of command is "Roman" in the communist context even as it is in the capitalist context. But is this not the world? What I mean is the system or "kosmos" spoken of by Paul to which we as believers have been crucified? How terrible a thing it is to let this into the kingdom of God! This completely overrides the Headship of Christ and puts layer after layer of separations between man and God. The Bible says there is ONE Mediator between God and men.
The Fellowship of the Godhead
There is not only just One Mediator between God and Man but the sacrifice has BEEN accomplished because this Mediator's blood made it so past tense. But there is another factor! The Mediator is also God Himself! And this Christ has called us into the fellowship that HE has! It is THE fellowship between the Father and the Son! John wrote of it in I John 1: 1 That which was from [the] beginning, that which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes; that which we contemplated, and our hands handled, concerning the word of life; 1:2 (and the life has been manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and report to you the eternal life, which was with the Father, and has been manifested to us:) 1:3 that which we have seen and heard we report to you, that *ye* also may have fellowship with us; and our fellowship [is] indeed with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. This is available to every believer right now through His blood! There is nothing rich enough or valuable enough to buy this fellowship for you! You could NEVER in a million years get in on this if you had all the money in the world from EVERY generation of time! Yet how God's people have been blinded from their rich inheritance by the intimidation of the hierarchy!
This practice is said to have been introduced by Origen in the first part of the third century and was accepted after two hundred years as the way to "bring others into the church". I guess they never read the Lord's words carefully enough as to the order of events as He prescribed them for salvation. He said believe(1) and be baptized(2). Baptism must be done AFTER a person believes. Baby baptism is a waste of time because the person is too small and pea brained to even make a decision yet concerning Christ much less a commitment to Him. This is another one of those traditions that cause men to be less watchful and responsible for their own decisions - ESPECIALLY the decision to take Christ as the One they desperately need for all aspects of salvation including not just forgiveness and justification but also sanctification, transformation, daily cleansing and restoration of fellowship and being conformed to Christ's image and likeness and even conformed to His death.
This seems to have been introduced to Christianity in the time of Constantine at the council of Nicea. The origin of this "mother-goddess" worship seems to have gotten started in Pessinus from the image of the goddess Cybele, whose image, it was said had fallen as an asteroid out of heaven. This image was brought to Rome in 204 B.C. where "she" was worshipped as "Magda Mater" (great mother). Of course this had an influence on Christianity because the trend was from the time of Constantine's influence, to cross the people's affections for religion over to Christianity and make it popular by "Christianizing" the popular holidays and customs of the times by keeping them pretty much the same but changing the names to protect the guilty or innocent or whatever it was. Just make it popular, that's all! Just make the money pour that direction.
Thus, the same worship that had been directed to various goddesses (for various different countries) was directed eventually toward Mary called "Queen of Heaven" (which worship by the exact same title was condemned by God in the OT through the prophet Jeremiah.) This worship or affiliation, I know by experience, actually opens the door way to the Satanic. I once had a girlfriend who was Catholic. She had visited me from NY and was in my church (I was a church-goer back then- Foursquare type). I sat near to her as she sat in a pew praying and felt the eeriest feeling that I knew was an evil spirit. So I asked her who it was she was praying to and she said Mary. So I told her what I'm telling you now. "If Mary was two blocks down the street and you called out to her, do you think she would hear you?" She said no so I continued: "Then how in the world could she, being a human being, hear you all the way from heaven wherever that is?" Anyhow, it was of course an ignorant question on my part but we need to realize that although Jesus also is a human being, He is God Who is everywhere present on earth AND heaven too. And the only way we could be anywhere else (like the heavenlies for instance) is through Him.
Christ, Head of Every Man
To be distracted from Christ as the sole object of our supreme love and worship is to be cut off from the Head. There are so many distractions today! It is no wonder there is very little experience of the Heading up of Christ.
This is so stupid, I think one would have to have the wool pulled over his already blinded eyes for years in order to be brought so low. Talk about the bummer of being a lowly layman, huh?!!!?!!! In Catholicism the only way to NOT be somebody's layman is to be the pope himself!! Or even if you're the runner up you got to kiss his stinky feet!
This started in the 2nd century during the times when Christians began to pay too much respect to the dead and their things. Yes, and now there are some Catholics who entertain actual and real devotion to such saints and or Mary figure etc. and actually commune with evil spirits in actual idolatry. There have been others through the centuries who were deceived and merely thought that the saints and different objects were merely a help to meditation and dedication to various virtues and up building of faith. They thought these objects were to be used to forward them to meditate on God and did not accept anything in life except it were a means to God as their end. But it does not make any difference. God already said to have no other before Him. So our affection must be towards him with all our hearts no matter how small our heart may have become. My experience has told me that the wrath and curse follows hard upon relics and idols whether folks realize it or not.
Healing is the Children's Bread
In Guam (where I was stationed in the US Navy) I beheld many healings take place. Outright miracles were demonstrated through the power of the Holy Spirit. The barriers that had to be removed in many of the folks over there concerned their relation to Catholic images and relics. When they would describe their sickness or infirmity, the inquiry would immediately be made as to whether they had on their person or in their wallet any relics, scapulars or pictures of Mary etc. Even rings with certain kinds of images were things they were asked to give up and surrender. If they did NOT get rid of their pain after prayer, it was quite amazing that they almost invariably 8 cases out of 10 had some sort of relic on them still they had not given up.
The filling of the Holy Spirit
How can the Spirit fill us unless we are turned to the Lord away from idols? It is impossible! We must remember that idolatry is a matter of the heart and that it's not just physical but can also be a mental object that takes the place of something becoming more precious than Christ to an individual. The basis of being filled with the Spirit is to be emptied of other things so you can be filled with Him and it is not easy all of the time.
This started as almost the first thing where the early assemblies went wrong at. It was in the 2nd century that believers started to pay too much attention to those who had passed away and started to give too much honor and as a result compromised with the pagan oratorical ceremonies called funerals by participating in them, thus opening one more door through which the pagan tradition of the sermon and other things also got into the kingdom of God as a leaven thus fulfilling Jesus prophecy concerning the woman who leavened the formerly unleavened bread. Again, this is another one of Satan's ploys to discourage the "common man" like me from thinking that I could reach heights of spirituality and knowing Jesus like Paul says I can. Take it from Paul: he called the living ones in his day "saints" or holy ones meaning that this is not a special status given to believers who have passed away, rather it already belongs to ALL believers right now!
This is an obvious works to earn grace type of religion. The result of nuns in their convents taking vows of celibacy when God doesn't even ordain most people that way was immorality. The "Vestal Virgin" era was a pre-cursor to this rite which is why I have alluded to it earlier. Terrible immorality broke out throughout history in some of these places as a result of trying to restrain God-given drives instead of handling it with the wonder filled state of a proper holy matrimony as God has designed for most. We must remember that He has, of course designed single life for some of His children, but it is not up to you or I to determine that. Only that individual will know for certain as a result of his or her personal relationship with God. Anyway I do not think I am saying anything new.
Attending Upon the Lord Without Distraction
Without distraction should be the rule. Some folks would be more distracted from Christ if they were single because of the distraction of their burning sex drive. Paul said in I Cor 7:35 I say this for your own profit; not that I may set a snare before you, but for what [is] seemly, and waiting on the Lord without distraction. Almost everything in today's Christianity is geared by Satan to be something other than Christ. And herein is the key of discernment: that whatever it is may bring you towards the Lord as much as possible.
Same Access Through Him
We have been given access by grace through faith based on his cross. In Eph. 2:15-21, it says: having annulled the enmity in his flesh, the law of commandments in ordinances, that he might form the two in himself into one new man, making peace; 2:16 and might reconcile both in one body to God by the cross, having by it slain the enmity; 2:17 and, coming, he has preached the glad tidings of peace to you who [were] afar off, and [the glad tidings of] peace to those [who were] nigh. 2:18 For through him we have both access by one Spirit to the Father. 2:19 So then ye are no longer strangers and foreigners, but ye are fellow-citizens of the saints, and of the household of God, 2:20 being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the corner-stone, 2:21 in whom all [the] building fitted together increases to a holy temple in the Lord; We have the same access as anyone else, no matter our performance, lot in life or whatever. In this passage we see that the Lord crucified our differences and divisions when He crucified our old man at Calvary. Here it says Jews (religious) and Gentiles (non-religious) have the very same access to the Father through Jesus Christ! So how do celibate people qualify before the same cross to be closer to God by their celibacy? Do you see the point? We can only draw near to God through Jesus and His blood. The only advantage of the single over the married is having more time (only in some cases) to pursue the Lord than the married person generally speaking.
Access also shows no favorites as to relation to God as Father. Access has to do in the above passage to citizenship in God's Kingdom with all the benefits and rights, a place in the wall as a living stone in a living building for the habitation of God through the Spirit and access to the increase of these things. (of course this implies that the benefits depend on how much one take advantage of them to various degrees) Of course we must re-emphasize the fact that without the blood of Jesus, no one could possibly dare try to access the things of God, for without the shedding of blood there could be no remission of sins.
Again, this is in the same idolatrous category as relics and images. These things can even get one demon possessed.
Calling upon the Name of the Lord
In I Cor 12:3 it says I give you therefore to know, that no one, speaking in [the power of the] Spirit of God, says, Curse [on] Jesus; and no one can say, Lord Jesus, unless in [the power of the] Holy Spirit. There we see that grace is through Christ NOT through any physical objects or sacraments. When sacraments are employed it makes grace through Christ of none effect. (there's that word: "none effect" again) In fact Paul said if we get under rules then we are not under grace through Jesus Christ by faith. Here in the verse above Paul said no man can even say "Lord Jesus" except "in the Holy Spirit." This again is the tip of the iceberg of the riches we are MISSING BECAUSE OF THE TRADITIONS OF MEN.
Our Relationship to Our Head
I don't know if you notice what I am noticing here, but it seems to me that the main object of attack concerning most of the Catholic traditions has to do with our connection to the Head and affects matters of salvation, our personal salvation, whereas the major attack or assault of the Protestant traditions concerns the corporate life of the Body. What many do not see in the Protestant circles is that their protesting was not complete: many of the so-called Protestant traditions and practices are off-takes from Catholicism because there are still many items and elements of things in the practices in which there had not been a complete and total divorce from that which originated in paganism. The Protestant reform dealt with a few practical issues, however, it was for the most part about doctrines of the scriptures. Although it was not complete, I still would like to highly commend Martin Luther for the changes he did make. To relate to God through objects is repudiated by most Protestants strongly, thank God, as the common Protestant belief still in most circles today is that grace flows to man from God through Jesus Christ and His redemptive work alone and it cannot be based upon any other merits whatsoever.
The faith does not need to be policed. Only the old creation does. Of course this refers to the inquisition. The people who did not do the proper obeisance to the chain of command from "holy Rome" were brought in for questioning and if they were suspected of heresy or witchcraft or being a Protestant or a Jew, they would go through horrendous inhumane tortures and many, of course, died in this fashion. Was this a way of sharing the love of Jesus? I think not!
Accepted in the Beloved
First of all the scriptures say we are not to judge them without so let God deal with the unbelieving. All we can do is share the gospel. Secondly in our judgment of those in the faith there are very specific guidelines and none of them include physical violence except parents should give out spankings to children. You have to realize though that the parent child relation is not something of the spiritual kingdom, rather it is something of the fleshly relationships of this present age. The Lord Jesus took the lead in pointing out that His disciples needed to put away their swords, as the kingdom of God and Christ was not of this world: therefore there is NO need for physical violence to fight for this particular kingdom. He claimed that His servants did not need to physically fight. So what about spiritual fighting and warfare? That's different! The answer to that is : you better believe it! Big time!
Policing the faith causes the fear of man and turns people away from the Lord, misrepresenting our God of love. Things like this have caused all kinds of shadows and opened the door for terrible sins and abuses. Even the wars between the Catholics and Protestants testify against both traditions as to their earthly dross! These things of the flesh have been exposed over and over again! Is it not obvious where the truth stands? Certainly not with the institutions of men or anything out of the source of man. Only that which is out of God will stand. This clergyman tyranny should suffice it to us that it is not of God. For this cause our dear Lord has been misrepresented among men and it has given the wicked cause to make our Lord's Name to be blasphemed by them.
This habit started in 1190 and got it's fires from the guilt machine that religion has become. Guilt is part of the framework that makes the religious machine go. you could give so much money to the priest or bishop so authorized and buy your way out of hell according to the doctrines being preached. In some cases some bought their way to a forgiveness that enabled them to keep on living in sin and it was "cool" and no problem. The word of God , of course, gives us the real answer to forgiveness through faith in the blood of Jesus.
This "selling the things of God" type of thing has been seen even more in the Pentecostal movement than anywhere. The concept that we can "buy our way" is deep in the human heart. Sin and condemnation have not helped matters any so then the clergy laity system with their "holier than thou art" sermons have just added fuel to the flame on making you feel unworthy and in need of some forgiveness here. You may sometimes feel you must earn God's favor or forgiveness.
The need for some kind of guarantee of a mercy grant is also innate in the human heart since God made us that way. There are all kinds of methods in today's society to help relieve guilt because the human frame was created to not be able to handle guilt for a very long period of time. Now, forgiveness is ours FREE through the blood of the Lamb (Although it was not free for Him - it cost Him dearly)?
Mercy, Grace, Resurrection, Heavenlies
Riches indeed! Eph. 2:4-8 says but God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love wherewith he loved us, 2:5 (we too being dead in offences,) has quickened us with the Christ, (ye are saved by grace,) 2:6 and has raised [us] up together, and has made [us] sit down together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, 2:7 that he might display in the coming ages the surpassing riches of his grace in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. 2:8 For ye are saved by grace, through faith; and this not of yourselves; it is God's gift: ...None of this is what we deserve. Do we deserve even one thread? Do you think you could buy something as valuable as the endless life of God? This life not only endures forever and forever but its quality is infinite but you want to buy something? Did I hear it right when I heard a pastor from a pulpit years ago say that if you did not pay your tithe, St. Peter would meet you at the gate and not let you in??? What a heresy!!! I guess we would also have to keep all the other 613 of Moses' laws from the Pentateuch also, huh? We have freely been given so much grace through faith in His blood that not only have we been forgiven but blessed with every blessing, resurrected in Christ with Christ in us made so one with Him that we are seated with Him on the throne of the spiritual realm and the material realm both!!!!! .... What? You don't feel like it today? Thank God its not based on feelings! But these traditions have sure hidden it from our eyes. Wow, I forgot to include verse 9 that it is not of works. Well, if it is not of works, how could it be through money? Salvation is totally the gift of God. If you believe in Jesus, all things are already yours! Why not? Isn't GOD your Father? If you want to know how this Fatherhood comes about, please visit my web page on the Divine DNA.
Accepted in the Beloved
We are without spot, blameless according as he has chosen us in him before [the] world's foundation, that we should be holy and blameless before him in love; 1:5 having marked us out beforehand for adoption through Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 1:6 to [the] praise of [the] glory of his grace, wherein he has taken us into favour in the Beloved: .... ENTIRELY HELD PURE AND GUILTLESS BEFORE GOD ALMIGHTY!!!!! Oh! Child of God! Do you dare believe it??!!??
This doctrine, believed to have been started in 1215, held that in the communion service, the bread and the wine literally became the physical body and blood from the man Jesus in your mouth as you partook of it. Now what spiritual good this would do you escapes my brain. To me: it seems illogical. More logical are the Lord's words in John 6:61-63: Does this offend you? 6:62 If then ye see the Son of man ascending up where he was before? 6:63 It is the Spirit which quickens, the flesh profits nothing: the words which I have spoken unto you are spirit and are life.
The Life Giving Spirit
The word for life is of course the word "zoe" for God's eternal and uncreated life and is spiritual life not physical as pointed out by the Lord in saying "the flesh profits nothing." Jesus said this mind you: that the physical flesh has NO profit for you. If the eternal Spirit had not been released through the death of Jesus Christ in order to give us life then why would He have become flesh in the first place. He did it to get Himself into us! In the above passage "it is the Spirit which quickens" or gives life. This corresponds to I Cor 15:45b where it is written " the last Adam a quickening spirit. The life-giving spirit was the last Adam but last means last and this means the cross was the actual conclusion of this washed up fallen hopeless race of lost sinners. He got Himself into the Adamic genetic structure to terminate and become the termination of this whole structure of the old creation and finalize it through Calvary as the finalization of this whole age and old creation. This is why He said "It is finished!" The LIFE giving Spirit is none other than the Spirit of God with the added elements of His perfect processed humanity, terminating death, divine life-giving resurrection and so much more which is summed up in God so loving us He gave us His precious Son. He didn't just give Him for us but also to us!!! Praise His Name!! The unsearchable riches of His death and resurrection cannot even begin to be exhausted. It was Paul in Romans six who barely scratched the surface of the deeper meanings of our co-death with Christ and how through Him we died to sin and also are planted in the likeness of His resurrection. Who can exhaust these treasures? Now I ask you a silly question: what does digesting the physical body and blood of the Last Adam physically speaking into your digestive system and intestines have to do with these unsearchable riches of the Spirit? Nothing, of course. Also the thought is revolting not to mention stupid. Go back and read John six again and you'll see what I mean.
Most people were illiterate anyway when this declaration was made early in the 13th century. Here is just one more of those "downgrading the laity" maneuvers in order to upgrade the clergy's position and place. And what was it all for? The same maneuver has been done by kings for ages to keep subordinates in their place. But when it comes to blood washed offspring of God Himself, THE very royalty of the whole universe!??!!? Preposterous!! When you look at your dear brothers and sisters in the proper God-given light the whole idea is simply outrageous! (Can you tell I have developed spiritual road rage?) There needs to be a loud outcry against this mindset.
But the point is this: YOU have behind you and to your detriment CENTURIES of this kind of background and feeling working upon you through religion and its IN you! Now it's time to weep. STILL today so-called "laymen" are still 2nd class or considered 2nd class when it comes to the scriptures. But we must re-iterate again and again that there are no classes amongst children of God! Now there are those more knowledgeable and experienced through time-miles on the road and surely we should lend them a serious ear BUT THAT DOES NOT MAKE THEM DAD! It doesn't make them LORD either. And anyone who knows God very well at all knows that sometimes the Lord will ask of you to do things that don't make total sense to your limited understanding.
Riches of Understanding, Knowledge and Wisdom
Unsearchable wisdom, treasures of grace and depths of the things of God are revealed to us by the Holy Spirit through the scriptures. I totally agree with all those who say that there is no new revelation since the completion of the New Testament. But there is a big lack of catching up on what has already been revealed concerning the Living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ and it (HE) needs to be re-revealed again and again to say it all in a nutshell. Now I do realize that at least 95% of everybody in the first century were illiterate and could not read but they lived in a day when people like Paul in Acts 20 existed who confessed that they TOTALLY spilled the beans and did not hold anything back! Then also it was different in another way because after the envoys left for another city the believers were in such close proximity that they ministered to one another with the word the sent ones had spoken to them. Do you see what we have missed? If the Catholic priests had been the type who spilled all the beans also and held nothing back from the serfs and common folk of their day it would not have been so bad but instead there were all kinds of hidden secrets kept in the vaults where the scriptures and other books were locked up out of sight (and "out of mind?") that only the "gurus" were allowed to even know. Too much shame for me dwell on this subject any longer. I must move on.
Have you ever been at a Catholic church and seen their communion ritual? The priest lets you get the wine but only a small taste as he dips the wafer in wine and he puts it on your tongue. But what horrible thing would happen to you if you were allowed to drink it?!!? Who knows? Probably we all know the answer to this one. The whole ceremony is waaayyyy off from the scriptures. Wow! Is this one of the reasons the priests did not want the laymen reading the Word? Is it so they would not be exposed for their ridiculous practices. The cup represents, of course, the blood of Christ.
How outrageous can you get!!!?? This is paramount to saying that the laymen are so unworthy and sinful that they are not even worthy of the blood of the Lord Jesus!! How lowly of a put down is this!!?? First, of all we who have believed have ALREADY been made worthy because of the blood. Secondly, though, there is still the desperate need, I do admit, of the cleansing blood of the Lamb in order to maintain practically our most wonderful access to a most holy God in absolute boldness. We do need the cleansing of the precious blood of Jesus quite often to maintain this wonderful relationship of approaching the throne of grace in all practicality. In our flesh we are still sinners! The flesh we got from our first birth is something else! It is terrible!!! I don't deny this! You could count me a blind fool who knows diddly squat if I did! So if we need it soooo bad why make a ritual of denying it to the poor laymen? Do you see why I count this as being so outrageous? Can this be attributed to pride or to shame? Maybe both.
Consolation of Christ, Fellowship of the Spirit - Bowels of Compassions
The wonderful fellowship that occurs when the cup of blessing is passed around an actual table where holy ones are gathered together and sharing their experiences of Christ cannot be measured! In Phil. 2:1-5 we get a view into these riches! If then [there be] any comfort in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of [the] Spirit, if any bowels and compassions, 2:2 fulfil my joy, that ye may think the same thing, having the same love, joined in soul, thinking one thing; 2:3 [let] nothing [be] in the spirit of strife or vain glory, but, in lowliness of mind, each esteeming the other as more excellent than themselves; 2:4 regarding not each his own [qualities], but each those of others also. 2:5 For let this mind be in you which [was] also in Christ Jesus; There are problems solved there. There is confession of the sins that were done against one another and forgiveness and cleansing restoration and reconciliation following. There is comfort, encouragement, building up of your faith. The fellowship of the Spirit is another factor. The fellowship of the Spirit is that EVERYTHING that has been given by our Father to His Son that Jesus said was also ours and would be shown to us by the Holy Spirit! This is the fellowship: THE fellowship spoken by Paul (God [is] faithful, by whom ye have been called into [the] fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.) in I Cor. 1:9. THE fellowship meaning it is the fellowship with nothing lacking that not only flows now between the Father and His Son but that which happened in ages past eternally and eternally into our future. God is past present and future all at once! Now when we share THIS Christ while we break bread we are surely building His Body. WE are eating Him and His words spoken to us into us and through us are not only washing but making us grow and build the Body by adding to us spiritually nourishing elements which develop the divine DNA into our being both individually and corporately. While this is taking place the nourishment flowing by bands and joints is surely joining us together as members of one another and how can this not be love? There will be as much love out of this as the love a man bears to his own body, his own flesh and blood!
This is where the passage from Psalms 42:7 Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy cataracts comes from. The Christ deep in me will build upon and correspond with the Christ in another brother and there will be what Paul described there "the amen" (in I Cor. 14) at the giving of thanks or the prophetic utterance, or word of wisdom or whatever portion of Jesus Christ there is being revealed through the various giftings of those at His table. The "deep" being that which flows from our inner man. Watchman Nee wrote about this in his book "The Release of the Spirit" saying that when a brothers spirit gets released during a meeting through speaking it come out and touches another brother's spirit and causes hopefully a chain reaction in revealing something to that brother and watering him besides. This of course may relate to something that brother has experienced of the Lord and adds even new awareness of what passed in his experiences both new and old. Then he brings out of his store house through speaking even more awareness and appreciation of the Lord's grace building upon what the other brothers have said. Can you see how a meeting such as this is FAR more wonderful than almost any message from just one man on earth?!!!
ALL the Possessions of the Triune God??
And just what is available to us through this interchange of the fellowship of the Divine Trinity? Everything! Of course it is there as you need it or your lowly earthen vessel would explode! In John 16 Jesus said: I have yet many things to say to you, but ye cannot bear them now. 16:13 But when *he* is come, the Spirit of truth, he shall guide you into all the truth: for he shall not speak from himself; but whatsoever he shall hear he shall speak; and he will announce to you what is coming. 16:14 He shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine and shall announce [it] to you. 16:15 All things that the Father has are mine; on account of this I have said that he receives of mine and shall announce [it] to you. Literally everything the Father had was His and these things were shown to us by the Spirit. So the Holy Spirit IS the fellowship which flows from the Father to the Son and back again! If you're not buying (actually this is free!) it let me remind you that You have been called in Romans 8 a joint-heir with Christ!! Hallelujah! Praise Jehovah forever!!
It is regrettable that the communion tradition of the Catholic church has barred so many unsearchable riches from so many dear children of God today. But how many or much of that practice was also carried over into Protestant circles? The word "Protestant" denotes the protest and removal from the ways, doctrines and practices of the so-called "mother church" in Rome. It is true that there are things (NOT meeting practices and ways so much - only doctrines) that we should agree with as far as the Catholics agree with the scriptures and Protestants should not have changed that. But there are other things and practices that they should have changed and didn't move away from the errors far enough! That is why these things need to be addressed. Instead of a meal where hand by hand the bread and wine gets passed and conversational functioning of the gifts and operations of our inner man flows freely as the spiritual reality of symbol of what our hands are passing from member to member, they sit in rows! As they sit, they are supposed to be silent! It is true, according to I Cor 11, that we are supposed to examine ourselves and have some self-judgment etc. at the Lord's table get together in a most solemn reverence of our Father's presence in our midst but the NT did not say it was a meeting of silence! We also should face one another for normal conversation, not sit in rows to listen to some preacher read I Cor 11! They have not fully departed from Catholicism in some of these elements of their practice and as a result many things of the Word of God cannot be fulfilled as Jesus said "full well you reject the commandment of God by your traditions" ... Just how many unsearchable realities which have been freely given to us by His grace and set upon His table have been missed by His poor poor (yet really super rich) children of God today?? There is no one alive who can answer this question. Can it be seen? Even at the day of judgment will this question be answered? To be honest with you, I know so little and have so limited an experience of these things in this desperately blinded dark poor age we live in that I am struggling very much so in trying to barely scratch the surface of these things or to surmise what it may be that we are missing. But I don't think too many of us present day believers really know.
Of course, I am in some contact with those of Gene Edwards groups who live across the street from one another and eat with one another and hopefully they will have some insight to add later on to my writing, who knows. So if they are much more qualified to address the things I am talking about then why did He pick on me to write this? I don't fully know except that that's all that's really going on here anyway: just a scratching of the surface. If you REALLY want to know, then here's the temptation to get your situation changed and get into a fellowship of believers who do eat together like this and do really know the Lord and one another well enough to have this kind of reality. All I can say is God picks on unqualified people to do tasks they are not qualified for so that the work will be of Him because we MUST be forced to desperately cry out to Him for the doing of it and depend on Him. This is one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in my life! (not to mention all the conviction of the Holy Spirit that is flowing through me is getting TO me!!) I have rarely ever been so rebuked and chastened by the Lord and had to go back and change things I have written and no doubt will have to do so again before this is finally finished. This has been a VERY difficult tasking. (But the precious nearness and intimacy with Him I would not have traded for anything either - every coin has two sides).
The sacraments were and still are a big thing in the Catholic Church. The mystique' from pagan ideas concerning certain rituals being sacred began about the ninth century. But in the mid 15th century it was pretty much accepted that grace was communicated through these practices. However, in the NT the basic truth is presented that grace can only come to us from God through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ. (For ye are saved by grace, through faith; and this not of yourselves; it is God's gift: 2:9 not on the principle of works, that no one might boast. Eph 2:8,9) If you study the New Testament to any length, you know that grace includes God giving us His literal eternal life and how in the world could the Holy One of Israel EVER cross the barrier to our ungodliness and impart into such creatures such as we are His very Own life and nature except on the merits of Jesus and His blood? Only the cross can cross this barrier and thank God it has! What has been blocked out through the establishment of this dogma? EVERYTHING. This is just too too sad. It was Paul of Tarsus in Galatians 3:10 who said: For as many as are on the principle of works of law are under curse. This explains why he also said: Ye are deprived of all profit from the Christ as separated [from him], as many as are justified by law; ye have fallen from grace in Galatians 5:4. If we depend on anything other than Jesus Christ for acceptance with God or ANYTHING from God then we are fallen from grace. When Christian meetings surround ANY practice no matter what that practice is instead of surrounding Jesus Christ as our center then we bring the Christian meeting into the same problem as we bring the Christian life into by trying to please God by works instead of receiving the gift of Christ for our life, our forgiveness , our walk, our Christian meetings our warfare - everything!
The Author and Finisher of Our Faith
When we look to sacraments to give us grace (the term for this as I think I've already mentioned is sacerdotalism) we are being separated from Christ. This is pitiful because God desires that we would come straight to Christ for all things. In Hebrews 12:2 it says looking stedfastly on Jesus the leader and completer of faith: who, in view of the joy lying before him, endured [the] cross, having despised [the] shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. The Recovery Version says it even better when it says "looking away unto Jesus" ... Amen! In Christ through His death and resurrection is everything needed for life, our walk, our faith and EVEN our Christian meetings!
This is TOTALLY OUTRAGEOUS!!!! It is downright horrible!! This counsel is the same one where the Bible college/seminary idea was invented at the same time fig leaves to be put on art statues genitals was supposed to be enforced in order to curtail the widespread immorality of society! To give the traditions of men's inventions the same credence, power and authority as the very words that have proceeded out of God's very Own mouth is, again, totally outrageous! How far will men go to keep their ruling positions over men, who have been created so many centuries ago by the hand of God in the very image of God. How very far from God these men have fallen!
This declaration is THE VERY thing Christ condemned in the words quoted at the beginning of this article. Don't worry, it's OK to feel sad when you read this ... but don't stay in it. Get up and get ANGRY! Do something about it! GO AHEAD: turn your back on men's traditions - ESPECIALLY the sacerdotal type. It's OK to get mad because you are getting mad at the devil!! Don't worry about hurting his feelings. He's already hurt yours plenty of times. It's also alright to leave traditional religions. These inventions of men are just not going to do very much for you anyway. This is of course the summation of this whole writing, so I shall dwell here no longer. Let's go on to the Protestant traditions. The Catholic traditions and sacraments do a work of separating one's soul from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of His Body. But, believe it or not, these off takes and developments of the Protestant church have been engineered by Satan to divide, dysfunctionalize and maim the Body of Christ so that He will have no Body to express Himself in at all in this old, poor and fallen world. What a totally CRYING SHAME!
1. The Sunday Morning Worship Service
The primary inventor of today's more widely accepted practice of the Protestant Sunday morning worship service was John Calvin of Geneva, Switzerland (who tortured folks, executed folks and for the record: did NOT know how to nurture and grow the life of Christ within the hearts of men very well at all). The original idea, although from pagan origin was introduced to Christianity by Gregory the Great in the sixth century in the form of the first Mass. Here's the general Protestant format: 1. The organ plays a prelude or hymn as the congregation file in and take their seats. 2. The pastor, song leader, choir director etc. file in from a door on the platform up front and take their seats there. 3. One of them rises, goes to the pulpit to greet everyone and either open in a prayer or lead everyone in singing the first song or hymn. 4. The pastor prays. 5. Two more hymns from the congregation. 6. The ushers come forward, visitors are welcomed and the prayer for the offering begins. 7. The plate is passed around for the offering. 8. The choir sings. 9. The congregation sings one more hymn. 10. The pastoral prayer is made. 11. The congregation either remains standing and sometimes participates or listens sitting down to the reading of the scripture. 12. The pastor gets up there in back of the pulpit to preach his sermon which must be the most important thing in the Christian life because it takes longer than anything else. 13. There is a closing prayer and maybe an altar call to evangelize the sinners present. 14. The congregation stands up to sing the final hymn or song. 15. Everyone is dismissed by the pastor's benediction.
Now, how did John Calvin ever come up with such a boring ritual? Was he sadistic? Pardon my hard words here but the Lord Jesus is being misrepresented by all this dead tradition! Jesus Christ is exciting! This stuff is definitely NOT (not to mention it denies the functioning of the poor pew warmers). I think if the presence of the Lord would ever visit His people in such a setting even God would yawn! It's just too much! To some poor people they are just trying to survive the boredom until they can get home.
John Calvin was not the sole inventor of this ritual. The concept of the pulpit being put on the stage up front in the center of the platform was Martin Luther's idea. The pews were a gradual thing based on the invention of the chair so they decided to make one lonnnggggg chair which eventually became known as the pew to accommodate the people and support their back during the long boring ritual. (Eventually pews became more padded so that it became easier to get sleep because of the boredom at church then at home in bed!!)
Let All Things Be Done
Many of the Pentecostals think they have a whole new thing on the Baptists and Methodists because they have added excitement to this ritual but the ritual is still there. And what have they added? More singing and worship where you can lift your two arms up in the air during your singing. OK so sometimes they do get some excitement because they praise the Lord and all of them speak in tongues (some additives include dancing, running around the room, rock and roll instead of choir and a more upbeat "rock style" "song service!"). But how can anyone say "the amen" of I Cor 14 to this? Where is the building in all this? There is only a little. And after all is said and done most of the time there is still the biggest time slot (sometimes even more) is given to the pastor's sermon. And it's STILL boring. And it's STILL deadening as the members of Christ are still sitting (although at this point there may be some "amens", who knows) I realize there is some edification to these things but the traditional "worship service" is still there. It's not AS dead as the "church service" because of worship but what is the difference between dead and more dead?? Anything?
The Pentecostals also add their own interpretation of Paul's words "let all things be done." In I Cor 14:26 it states: What is it then, brethren? whenever ye come together, each [of you] has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done to edification. EXCEPT it is almost always added onto the John Calvin tradition and sometimes they try to mingle it with it. Sometimes even strange fire has been the result of this. The killing is even worse than deadness it began with. And is it ALL things? They speak out loud in tongues then somebody interprets it but then come back to their ritual.
Now I will admit that to add some folks gifts to this ritual is better than it was before somewhat but there have been some of these meetings where I went to where I could have entered blindfolded and had ear plugs in and could have told you what was going on because I knew exactly what they would do next! This is NOT pretty! And it is not fun!
When Paul said let all things be done, you had better believe THOSE get togethers were exciting! There was no bulletin folks had to follow and you didn't know what to expect next! These people didn't have a ritual expectation at their center but rather Christ for their CENTER! Their meetings were not to go get filled up but to try to unfill some of the excess overflowing of the running rivers of living water that were just too too abundant!!!!!!!!!! They could not help themselves but sometimes felt as if they just HAD to speak!! This of course created a confusion problem and Paul had to address it and let them know that their human spirit and the overflow of grace within their spirits were subject to their control and they must control it! He even allowed interrupting because of the Lord's Headship which he was very familiar with. In verse 30 he said: But if there be a revelation to another sitting [there], let the first be silent. But this was so the Lord could speak as He desired that His life may be dispensed into His children more and more. It was orderly because it was the order of the revealing Spirit and Paul had said the interrupted one was supposed to drop into silence in yeildedness to the moving of the Holy Spirit!!!! (does that sound like an exciting meeting to you???) Anyway, the basic difference between REAL assembly life and the usual deadness which is the "accepted norm" today is that in the organized church the "poor" destitute believers come fairly empty with the need to be ministered to and maybe they will and maybe they won't be fed (Fed by someone else's hand with what kind of spoon in it? C'mon! Something's wrong! Are they all babies???). However, the REAL thing is a much different scenario. Rather than the attendants being there to gain information and possibly hoping the Holy Spirit will pass by their way to minister to them at the stirring of the waters, rather their motive is not to fill their empty cup but rather to overflow what they cannot hardly wait to overflow to their brothers and sisters just as God has poured it forth to them, or they are going to burst! THIS is the biggest difference I see between "house church" and the institutional church although even in sitting in a living room I have also seen one man take over the talking after a big part of the meeting is over. I do not say this is always wrong. Part of the ALL THINGS to be done surely includes the preaching proclamation of Christ as the good news and someone will probably also bring a teaching sometimes or a doctrine but THAT will NOT be considered the most important part of that meeting. Also you will feast out at that meeting but possibly the biggest portion of your feast will be from the functioning that you yourself dispensed to the other members of the Body at a certain part of the meeting.
I discussed how the pew came to be already in the section above. It developed in England from the 13th to the 18th century. The pew gives you a view of the pulpit up front and up above you with the pastor standing behind it. Wow! What a view. Ooops! I forgot one other thing! the back of the people's heads in front of you! Lovely! Just my choice of entertainment! Yeah, right! What is wrong with this? You can't even see the faces of your dear brothers and sisters from your forever family much less get to know them. It intimidates speaking because even if you did stand up to speak your back is always towards somebody or maybe they can keep their back to you and you just have cold water poured on any attempt to function even if you still break through and speak anyway. The Plymouth Brethren tried to solve this problem by setting up the chairs in their "meeting halls" (just more church buildings) in four directions facing each other by facing 4 sections of chairs towards the center. But here's the problem. The way to escape death is Jesus Christ, not dropping one tradition so you can start another tradition (of course you DO have to drop men's traditions UNLESS the tradition is one of the NT envoy's traditions which ARE Christ, in Christ and according to Christ!). Here instead of folks in one direction of death, they were in four directions of death and it just made more death! The only escape from deadness is to totally DROP everything and start fresh and new with Jesus being everything! Now! Can you think of anything more refreshing than that??
... that is unless you need to go to a Sunday morning worship service to get a nap!!! Are you sleepy??? You don't need sleeping pills!
This was not started AS a tradition but eventually became such as time went on and is very widely accepted today. Some say it was Martin Luther who made up the order that we have today and some say it started in the 2nd century, which I think is true, but in any case, if it's wrong, it's wrong. I attribute the source of these things to Satan, of course, but then again when leaven is added to bread it is because God wishes to protect His holy of holies from unholy hands even as the cherubim in the garden of Eden were placed to keep the way of the tree of life so that life would not be given to that which was of the fallen old creation thus perpetuating that kind of fallen life on and on ad infinitum. This is why God has allowed errors to creep into the King James Version and others like it so that men would not muddy the REAL thing with fallen feet and trample on it. These things are mysteries of course and hard to explain but I do not choose nevertheless to keep them hidden from you.
What is the main thing that gets lost if you lose the chronological order of chains of events and various writings? That is very simple. The story! The Bible, of course, has more aspects to it than just a story or the stories that are there. But even some of THOSE aspects are not so very clear when you lose the proper order of these writings. It is Gene Edwards in recent years who has brought this to light. For instance, the epistles of Paul are in the wrong order and if you find this out and read them in their proper order suddenly today's Christianity does not make sense and even you understand the Bible a whole lot better just for reading it in it's proper order! The example of a series of books on math is also given here. If you study a five volume set on math in a College course but in the wrong order starting with, let's say, volume III, you are going to get LOST. This is exactly what has happened to so many today who study the Bible even though there are countless commentaries and Bible studies written today (hmmm! I wonder why there is so much need for this - maybe this is the reason!). If the Bible was printed and read in it's proper order with the proper context, very many more people would see that today's Christianity just is not in that book! It is a whole OTHER subject!
God is partly in this and partly not. Of course He has no part in dividing the Body of Christ. The true Body is totally of the new creation anyway and CANNOT be divided anyhow, no how, no way. BUT the earthly structure of that part of God's kingdom today which is of the old creation and makes up what Revelation 17 calls "Mystery Babylon" today WAS so built up (old creation build up of course) that it had become the antitype of the type in the Old Testament of the tower of Babel at which point mankind had become so united and so one (and oneness brings in great power of a big super machine) in purpose as to replace God with this massive tower of idolatry that God decided to confuse their language and divide the earth into the nations. Eventually in Acts 17 it is revealed that God ordained the boundaries of mankind and their various generations, times and seasons so that they might seek and feel after Him. Indeed! He arranges all our times and boundaries and birthplaces etc. for His eternal purpose to be fulfilled. Praise God fro His pre-determined wisdom!
The Mystery Babylon, just like it's antitype the original tower of Babel, also became so united in it's many errors that God allowed to be brought in "theology" (which means the study of God). Theology is the systemization of Biblical subjects into categories for examination by subject. Don't get me wrong here. The Bible was not supposed to be divided into chapter and verse for the TRUE WAY to read it and understand it. I should have mentioned above that when Paul wrote those letters to assemblies, the letters were read as a unit to each assembly and THAT is the only Biblical way to read them and they should not , properly speaking, be dissected as frogs are dissected in some classroom experiment. But it was! And it was for a reason!
When Constantine initiated the Council of Nicea in 325 he instituted for the first time a Christian Creed in order to systematize doctrines between various groups of Christians on different sides of different fences. Hence: theology was born! He did this in order to bring them into a common understanding and unite them! History shows that the actual result of this creation of theology was division! Over and over again! So why would I still say that God had a hand in this? That's easy. It's because the false unity of the Roman Catholic Church became so huge in this earth that the false unity needed to be divided! (the word "catholic" means universal: in other words, they believed that there was only one church and it was universal and had one chain of command system of government ruling it. And it was ROMAN! Do you see why God raised up reformers to divide from it?) Do you see this? Hence was born the denominations even as the nations were born from the confusion of our human languages the denominations were born from the confusion of theological languages. (hmmm! Do you notice the word "nation" in that word? AS "of God" as denominations were there is a worldly element and a worldly connection and result of what they did that was NOT of God. In fact MANY of the elements of the denominations today still have the elements and the death aromas of Babylon still remaining to the extent that you could say that they are still a bunch of mini mystery Babylons) Almost every denomination that was invented by men (notice there IS a mixed motive of the human element in the formation of denominations here), were invented for the reason of some practice (most had their origination in Catholicism) or doctrine that was in error. Many Protestants held on to things that were in error because the reformation was not complete but only partially returning to the glory and reality of the early church and it was not a total recovery. Sometimes folks even made a BIG THING out of some of these issues (such as immersing converts completely underneath the water in baptism instead of merely sprinkling them, etc.). Oftentimes it was too too much of a big thing and even the name of the denomination (such as "Baptist") was representative of the issue war that was raised over some practice or some point of doctrine at that particular time. Can you see where God had His hand in this? Of course, one of the the original Reformers, Martin Luther, made one of THE biggest exits from the Catholic Church of all time over the issue of justification by faith and rightly so. BUT the "church" he formed as a result (or should we say fallout) of his divisive split (not of the Body but from the "machine" so this split was a righteous division!) from the Catholic Church had the elements of religion still intact. Even it contained all the same elements of being married to politics still intact as the Lutheran denomination in its early formation was very much still one with the politics of Germany and it was even championed by the German King and that was the only reason it survived as such a power in the earth due to the political powers of war and defense! WAS THAT element of God???? BIG question mark here. But of course not.
So is it not easy to see that the denominations have many elements within them that are still not of God? Even the first part of the word "denomination" contains an element contrary to God's very nature. God's nature is to unite and build His Own Body not divide it. It is true God would have us divide against that which is sin and not of Him, but "denomini" means something that has to do with names and to have names that divide us and call ourselves by those names is something that divides the Body of Christ and is not just a division from error and malpractice. This definitely falls under scriptural censor as seen in the writings of Paul of Tarsus. In I Corinthians, chapters 1-3, Paul rebukes the Christians there for forming divisions based on the different names of the different teachers. We are NOT supposed to meet with differing names patched on to our so-called "special" groups. In fact, there should not be any "special" groups anywhere because all believers are ONE in Christ Jesus. ALL Christians are special!!! Let's just say that for all it's flaws God used the denominational confusion of languages for His purposes as well as He could and in fact made some big hits against Babylon's tower holding it in check until He finally judges it at the end of this age. Thank God, the divisive issues of Protestant denominations were part of these hits.
Gold, Silver and Precious Stones
In I Cor. 3:12-17 Paul says:
if any one build upon [this]
foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, grass, straw, 3:13 the
work of each shall be made manifest; for the day shall declare [it],
because it is revealed in fire; and the fire shall try the work of each
what it is. 3:14 If the work of any one which he has built upon [the
foundation] shall abide, he shall receive a reward.
The passage above contains the elements of things that can pass away that fire cannot take away but at the most could possibly reshape or at best purify the elements. There are other elements that fire , of course, would just consume. Is it not obvious that these things are obviously the perishable elements of the first old creation which are passing away? OK, check this out: Since the scripture states that For the time of having the judgment begin from the house of God [is come] (I Pet. 4:17), then do you think it is possible that the judgment stated in the passage above could possibly be in this lifetime? You may interpret "the day" means a future event but what if the day is today? What if the day is Christ Himself being the light of the world. How could we be the "children of the day" if it is not the Lord Who is the real DAY? Can a day birth children?
So what is gold, silver and precious stones? For a more complete dissertation of what these things are please see my explanation of these things in chapter 7 of the The Revelation of the Lost Keys. In short for now, I would say that gold in the Bible mostly denotes the very precious inner nature of God Himself which is growing in the believer but developed mainly through fiery trials of faith and not as easy to come by as you would always like it to be. Silver was used in scripture to buy slaves or redeem them back. So it is thought to mean redemption in the scriptures. Precious stones are again hard to come by. They are developed through pressure, heat and all kinds of merging of various elements through all kinds of weird weather conditions etc. The final development includes the hands of men in cutting and polishing. Hmmmm .... doesn't sound very pleasant does it?
So what's the point? This is where it is hard to be honest but I must tell you the truth but before I do please remember there ARE two sides to EVERY coin. True assembly life of the type that Paul of Tarsus and others like him birthed into existence is not all fudge and ice cream. It comes fraught with all kinds of fiery trials and conditions that JUST DO NOT EXIST IN PRESENT DAY CHRISTIANITY. For instance, these people actually lived close to each other and in close proximity to one another. This situation is most of the time a very wonderful one filled with happy fellowship and ..... sometimes NOT! There are exposures that take place not found in the denominations. Like I said there are some elements here that present day Christians not only do not understand (some don't want to understand them!), but they are not prepared to deal with because they don't have much help from very many people who have ever been in such conditions and weathered them long enough to not only survive them but come out on top and transformed into precious stones fit for building! One more note of honesty. I have never seen so much suffering in all my life as among those who are in these proper transforming conditions but here's the other side of it. I have been in some meetings in my hit and miss lifetime where some of these dear saints have been present and boy Oh boy! What unbelievable riches of grace were present in those meetings! The gold and pearls were there! In those kind of meetings you walk out different! You could not ever be the same!! The atmosphere in these meetings contains fragrances of the type typified by the perfume that was released from the alabaster box broken upon the feet of the Lord Jesus and it DOES fill the WHOLE house!
In this case it would not be truthful to say there can be NO gold, silver or precious stones in existence if these kinds of assembly life are not set in place because there are many other kinds of pressure cookers and situations in this age in which these things still get developed. This is why God still does have many various and different kinds of precious stones , thankfully. But many of them are not fit for building. Also, because of the present day situation, He does not have nearly as many of these precious ones as He would like to have. In a sense the Lord is pitifully poor today ( I warned you I would be painfully honest).
The Temple of God
THIS I WOULD have to say is totally impossible because of the denominations tradition! There is no two ways about this one! THERE CAN BE NO SUCH THING AS THE REALITY OF THE TEMPLE OF GOD WITHOUT LEAVING THE DENOMINATIONS! Paul spoke of building in the Corinthian letter and followed it by saying Although it is true that Christians ARE the temple of God whether they feel like it or not, the reality in this present day of being built together cannot be experienced out side of actual unity and the reality of the joints and bands of Body life with its functions. I am truly afraid that Christians are missing out on so much today. The glory of being inside this building when you are meeting with other believers is second to none! I HAVE tasted this! And this, brothers, is not just a theory or a doctrine! It is real! Praise God!
The Army of God
For a more thorough view of this subject I will also refer you to another chapter in my other book on "The Valley of the Dry Bones" where the army was dry because of division. to sum this up quickly in the short version, the army of bones in Ezekiel were later in the same chapter represented by two sticks (or written scrolls) in the prophets hand needing to become one. And when Christians do become one as in Acts 2 the wind of Pentecost gives life, breath, strength and "power from on high." Don't tell me this is not God's will for His people today!! Don't you dare tell me such a thing!!! It may be true that God has mercifully and graciously poured some of His Spirit and blew a few winds on the denominations but if you know the real stories of history it mostly happens the other way around when folks attempt to drop names and come together and pray!
This was an offshoot of Seminaries and it was started by D. L. Moody in 1882. I went to one. Believe me: I know what it's like. In 1974, I attended the Foursquare denomination's Bible School : L.I.F.E. Bible College. Like that dry army in Ezekiel (I was always searching for water while there thirsty for more) above I could not be happy while there. It became a spiritual desert, although the Lord used it to cause me to become a seeker after the deeper things of God and there I certainly learned the absolute necessity of revival and revival praying. It lead me to spend hours upon hours (time well spent!) studying Charles Finney's book "Revival Lectures." I concluded that there MUST be revival in this generation of Christians that we have today. But after all of this and even after I started preaching and actually started to experience revival I was still unsatisfied!!! To see what the surprising conclusion I came to from all of these experiences and studies of all this, please see the article entitled: Revivals in the Acts of the Apostles .... it may shock you! Other than that I think I have dealt with this subject sufficiently in the section on seminaries that were instituted starting with the Catholic church (ouch! THAT should tell you something! huh? HellOOOO!!) at the Council of Trent.
I had heard and originally thought that Sunday schools were invented by Dwight L. Moody. But actually he was just the one who popularized it, giving it impetus in the 1800s. It was invented by Robert Raike in the 1780s. At first Sunday Schools operated independently from churches. this was because pastors felt that laymen were not qualified to teach the Bible! Well then, I guess neither were the 12 that walked physically with Jesus either! I think one of the main reasons for this invention was that there was a felt burden for the unlearned children, and having such a heart of love invented the Sunday School for them to be instructed at on Sunday mornings instead of being on the streets.
There are many such things like this that are
partially of God but not by or according to His Word. Why is this you may
ask? Because the Body is sick and not able to build itself up due to the
lack of real Body-life. As a result many artificial inventions have been
brought in to meet the desperate needs of humanity. What should we really
do about all this? I think the story of Mary and Martha holds the answer
to this question. while Martha was so busy serving, she nevertheless
suffered the Lord's rebuke, and so will many of His servants also be
surprised when they suffer the same on the last day. Although many such
may be found in him and saved by His blood, many of the works that will
consume in the fire will have been found to be wood, hay and stubble. It
is not that the Lord would have us do nothing. That is not what Jesus
meant when He said that Mary had chosen the better part. The Lord does
want something to be done of course but first let us sit at His feet and
get His explicit instructions. Even as Moses built all things according to
the pattern given Him on the mount so we must "hear HIM" as our Father
spoke when He passed over Peter, James and John on the Mount of
transfiguration from within the blindingly bright cloud.
"And lifting up their eyes, they saw
no one but Jesus alone." Matt 17:8. "Jesus
alone" is SURELY the "one thing needful" Jesus spoke to Martha about.
The Admonition of the Lord
Admonition is for fathers. In Eph. 6:4 Paul wrote: [ye] fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in [the] discipline and admonition of [the] Lord. I believe that if the families were involved in assembly life there would be no further need for Sunday Schools. Originally the parents cared for their children and taught them by example and friendly warnings (the meaning of admonition) accompanied with discipline. this is, of course, what children really need. This is why you do not read of Sunday Schools in the Bible. It is at best an invention of men. But it would become a much more foul smelling thing to you if I continued on to write of all the money that has been wasted on Sunday School buildings and projects etc. The assembly of Christ today has become dysfunctional and as a result so has the family. Many programs and ministries have taken the opportunity to fuel their unbiblical "ministry careers" as a result. Focus on the Family is one of them and I invite you to sue me because I have got no money! In the recovery of true assembly the family only benefits and in such settings I have heard that not even one of their children has EVER turned away from Christ permanently!! EVER!! Now THAT'S a good record!!! Our focus must be CHRIST, not the family, as Christ is the glue that holds the family together and I think we will look back and acknowledge someday that every "held together" thing in our life was because of the Lord Jesus Christ Who is the real glue of the universe, even it's molecular structure!!
It seems that it was first mentioned by Clement in the 200s. I put "going to church" in quotes because the statement "going to church" is NEVER once found in the Bible. But, then again, neither are most of the other terms in my list at the left over there! Since the Protestants continued this practice that they inherited from the Catholics when Martin Luther defected, maybe we should give it a second looking at. All brother Martin did was to rearrange the furniture on the platform somewhat and take down some of the artifacts that he thought were idolatrous, etc. Then, of course, every different denomination fixes up their church building a little bit different just as coffins come in different styles! But and if (yes, it's true) Protestant church buildings were a resulting continuation of the church practice of Catholicism (with a redecoration of course), then the question must follow: where did the Catholics get the church building from? Well, if it came from Jesus and the twelve disciples then it is OK, I guess - we just need to redecorate. Mmmm .... maybe ...? But it didn't. I have already covered the fact that there were according to dug up facts of archeology NO church buildings found that were dated before Constantine's invention in 312 except for the finding of homes that believers met in. One in particular was a house with a wall knocked out so they could get more Christians into one room. So it came from Constantine. So where did HE get the idea? He put two and two together because he had just made Christianity the universally accepted, suggested, rewarded and pushed religion of the state and wanted to promote it. He thought he was doing Christianity a favor by providing for them "temples" to congregate in and hold the meetings of the Christian faith. So he built them. Not only that, he attached the names of NT Bible characters onto them to help others tell the difference between the different locations. (hmmm... there's those names again) If it were not for Constantine's act the term " going to church" would never have gotten off the ground!
I have even had one Christian tell me that I was not saved because I did not go to church!!! This is terrible that we have fallen so low! How do I mean this? To say and live out the actual meaning of that is to be fallen from grace. Has this tradition even made the book of Galatians of no effect? Paul says if we are under the works of the law we are fallen from grace! Well! Do you think I ought to go to church after hearing a statement like that? But that is the present day way of thinking for some because they are surrounded with a world that practices certain kinds of things and they think, well , that's just what Christians do. But there's not one written case of anyone "going to church" in the whole New Testament, not to mention all of first century literature. So Jesus our Lord certainly did not start it! Now He did go to the synagogue to proclaim the scriptures and so did Paul for the audience to evangelize. But Paul got the believers OUT of the same synagogues after he was done with his work in them so you cannot build a case with that. In any case, "going to church" is not found in scripture. Assembling yourselves together with other Christians is found.
I have dealt with this section already in the Sunday morning worship service section, but there are still a few things to say about it. The "order," which was invented by John Calvin and is followed pretty closely except for subtle changes (unless they are Pentecostal), is in most churches printed on a bulletin for you to follow.
Decently and In Order
What did Paul mean when he said this? In I Cor. 14:40 he said: let all things be done comelily and with order. This means decently and in order if you read the King James and some other versions. There are some non tongues speaking Christians who have nudged the Pentecostals using these words for some of their wild meetings with jumping over pews and rolling in the aisles and changing the order of service. (the order as the Baptists view it) They say it is indecent and not in order!! Where did they get this thought? FROM JOHN CALVIN!!!!! Has there EVER been ANYTHING so DEAD??????????????????? I don't agree with the Pentecostal emphasis on miraculous sensationalism. But why did God (yes, God!) start the Pentecostal move which later became a movement and took another form? (Of course God did not give it the name "Pentecostalism" that we have done) This outbreak of the Spirit at the turn of the last century starting with the early 1900s was the Lord's reaction against this orderly death and I believe the biggest cause of this divine anger which had been so patient for so long was "the order of worship!" The order Paul spoke of was not according to the bulletin! It was the order of life, not of death! It was the order of a Body the Organism, not the order of a robotic system, an organization! So what kind of order was it? It certainly did NOT mean they always began their meetings the same way!! Sometimes they may have begun with corporate prayer and sometimes there was so much joy they would be singing arm in arm walking down the street and carry it into the meeting without a break or stopping to even breath! It was spontaneous and you never knew what would happen next! So what kind of order was it?? That's easy! It was the order of the Organism of God according to the Spirit! Things happened as the Spirit led with the sense of the Body as those present learned how to discern the Body. If you need more light on this I don't know how to help you in these darkest of days we are in. I guess you'll have to read your Bible!
The invention of the stencil-duplicating machine in 1884 enabled the printing of the church bulletin. This written order of worship becomes so boring, it has led many people to feel very drowsy! Some folks even fall asleep! Some even snore!! Some of them get nudged or maybe even slapped! (OK so my story has gone a little too far! ... or has it?) Where do you find this bulletin in your scriptures? It's not there! But actually, I would have little problem with the church bulletin if it were not so much related to John C.'s horrible invention. Does this give the Holy Spirit freedom to move or does it prescribe to Him how things have to be done?
There is sooo much to say on this I don't know where to begin or end. Today's doctrine of tithing is false!! The whole reason for it is to support the religious system machine! The first mention of even the idea of Christians supporting ministers or the clergymen with a giving of a tithe was by Cyprian (200-258 A.D.). However, his idea was ignored because it was not popular at the time to even think that way. It had to develop AFTER Constantine. Augustine in the 300s tried to promote this practice and it began to be practiced by some in the 400s but it did not become widespread untill the 8th century. This was because the church increased it's ownership of land across Europe so that the concept of Christians taking care of "rent" for church property was birthed. So by the eighth century it was actually a law passed in many parts of West Europe. By the 10th century it was not law but had become ingrained as a habit, practice and doctrine. If there were no salaried paid career preachers or church buildings with rents, mortgages and light bills to pay, it probably would not be such a big thing today! That alone would bring the financial needs of Christian assembly waaay down in itself. In the Old Testament, tithing was of your crops and animals. It was food. It was not enforced totally in every century of the OT, neither was it EVER money! It was not reiterated by Christ or the envoys anywhere in the NT! But I actually have heard a pastor preach that if you don't pay your 10% Peter will meet you at the gate of heaven when you die and he won't let you in!! (till you reach back in your wallet and pull out what you owe and give it to him!) Talk about being religious! How lame can you get?
God Loves a Cheerful Giver
In II Cor 9 Paul says: But this [is true], he that sows sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he that sows in [the spirit of] blessing shall reap also in blessing: 9:7 each according as he is purposed in his heart; not grievingly, or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. Tithing makes this kind of hilarious giving to be sorely watered down. If you check out the passage he actually calls it a "grace." Grace is the Spirit through the processed Christ supplied into us for our enjoyment, supply and growth in life resulting in service. Tithing thwarts this grace and hinders it! Why would I say this? Because it comes across to most hearers as a legal requirement to be carried out and a necessary duty of the Christian life. THAT is not going to produce very many cheerful givers! Especially when some societies such as this American society for instance has created such a life style that women are doing that which God had not intended and instead of taking care of their toddlers they go off to a job to get enough to survive.
Some families just cannot afford to tithe and just because God turns around sometimes and blesses them does not make tithing scriptural or Biblical. It just means He is good and merciful. If it were not for the religious machine this atrocity would not have been invented. If you wish to further open up to the truth of this subject and are not afraid of the consequences and it is not of greed you wish to know the truth, you'll find a very good article on this subject online entitled The Tithe is Illegal.
There is also a very good article by someone still in the organized church but still recognizes the evils through the centuries and still being done today by the so-called "ministers of righteousness" who, according to this brother, are oppressing the poor and needy by forcing and threatening dear brothers and sisters to tithe with a legalistic yoke of bondage threats and fear. The name of the article is TITHING AND GIVING IN THE SCRIPTURES AND CHURCH HISTORY.
I will add one more thought to the subject. The religious machine is huge and needs to be fed big time in order to survive because it surely does not run on the never-ending grace supply of grace. Anyway, it has been fed so much that it doesn't need your money too!! The poor are crying and need it far worse.
"Missionary" is another word not found in the Bible. But you may say "so what!" Television is not in the Bible but it's a good thing. Sometimes it's a bad thing (most of the time!). OK, I actually agree with you who say this. Just because a word is not in the Bible does not mean whether it's a good thing or not a good thing. I do not know enough about where the terms and concepts of the "missionary" began but one thing I do know: it is not the same generally speaking to what we see in the Bible as to how the traveling preacher starts or even finishes. I say generally speaking because there have been people like Roland Allen who wrote "Missionary Methods; Paul's or Ours" if I quoted the title right. Anyway if what that brother said concerning missionaries is your concept you are probably far closer to the truth than most. Of course in the Bible you find the term "sent-one" which too many versions translate as the transliterated word "apostle" which is someone sent by God. But again this could just be a word or a term. What is the real meaning of this term and who were they? This is far too much of a subject to get too far into depth on it here. I will try to show the basic difference between what I think is today's understanding versus first century understanding.
The " missionary movement" is thought to have gotten its start from William Carey by some and others think it started with the Moravian Brethren. I tend to think that there is almost no century that has passed by where we could not find God stirring somewhere somehow some man to take the gospel to his fellow creatures. Also if you know history you know God generally saves men in big groups at a time and then proceeds to stir their hearts to seek Him as we have already discussed from Acts 17 where it says that God "has made of one blood every nation of men to dwell upon the whole face of the earth, having determined ordained times and the boundaries of their dwelling, 17:27 that they may seek God; if indeed they might feel after him and find him, although he is not far from each one of us: 17:28 for in him we live and move and exist; as also some of the poets amongst you have said, For we are also his offspring." Here we can see that God does what He does to bring the hearts of men to Himself so He can dispense His life and nature into man as much as possible. This will explain much but not all of the mysterious things that happen in this strange world. To add to this however, it is important that God depends on the prayers of his people also to a great degree and many of the things that should be done or that He wants to be done will nevertheless not be done totally as much as it could have been had we spent more time in prayer. In fact Paul said to Timothy in a letter that as to the children of God under Timothy's care FIRST OF ALL they should be enjoined to pray. I tell you when the assembly prays God sits up and takes heavy notice because when real assembly life becomes prayer it is genuinely the inwrought prayer of the Son of God through the Spirit to lay the tracks for the fulfillment of the eternal purpose. You better believe God is going to take notice!
So what is the difference between Paul's methods and our methods? 1st of all, in the first century there were no mission boards and missionaries were not supported by denominations because denominations did not exist. Another major difference was that the concept of "pastoring" according to today's understanding did not exist either. MOST of the time Paul, who said he was a pattern to all who should come after him in a personal letter to Timothy whom he regarded as his best apprentice as far as the ministry went, set an example to us by NOT STAYING FOREVER IN A CITY after preaching the gospel there. But rather, he would after raising the believers for the average of 4 to 6 months, go to another area to preach the gospel somewhere else. Too too many missionaries in today's world do not follow this principle rather, in most cases, they go to a city and preach the gospel, save sinners and pastor them in that same city for the rest of their life! Now mind you Paul was not like today's evangelists either who have a revival for no more than one or two weeks or a month if you're lucky (except some think he only spent a month in Thessalonica) but spent his time long enough so that they could do OK without ministers for quite some time after that. Another difference was that he left no "leadership" or "pastors" behind to "take care of them" when he left! If you read Acts 14 and study it carefully you'll see that Paul ordained elders in those 4 assemblies only after he went back to them later and that was usually two years later in some cases! The thinking was absolutely different from our very thinking these days!
Mutual Care and Tempering Together
The mutual care for one another and all this one another stuff you find in the scripture is I believe the result of them being left on their own and being forced to care for one another instead of depending on some preacher to feed them and care for them. If they were going to get their spiritual needs met they were going to have to go to the Lord and one another because they literally had no one else. They did not even have Bibles or books and if they did they did not for the most part know how to read anyway. Paul said in I Cor 12:23-25 those [parts] of the body which we esteem to be the more void of honour, these we clothe with more abundant honour; and our uncomely [parts] have more abundant comeliness; 12:24 but our comely [parts] have not need. But God has tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to [the part] that lacked; 12:25 that there might be no division in the body, but that the members might have the same concern one for another. These Christians soon found out that they were different from one another and had different gifts which met different needs. They also had different weaknesses and even the earthly vessels had such different differences (do you get the point yet!?) that all of this served to cause a tempering of the members together to build them together and fit them together. This also feeds into the development according to the above passage of a mutual caring for one another that is in the organic union of a REAL BODY to such an extent that when one member is affected all of them would feel it and sympathize because the one Body is real and so the statement: And if one member suffer, all the members suffer with [it]; and if one member be glorified, all the members rejoice with [it]. I Cor 12:26. I do not think today's Christians can for the life of them understand these things even with commentaries or going to seminary for 10 years because you have to have the EXPERIENCE of this and there is so little available today. Some of what is being said here is like trying to explain to a blind person what is red or what is blue.
When I was a young teenager in church, trying to go on with the Lord with my fellow young people, I would often hear one of them say: "I just do not know what my gift in the Body is. I have been praying about it, but I just don't know where I fit." I didn't know what to tell him but now I would say: "I know why you feel this way, it is because you do not fit because there is no building going on here for anyone to fit into! I'll bet even the pastor does not feel like he fits and somehow feels he is missing it!" Then of course I would suggest that that young person would get himself into a Body-life type of situation because he, like anyone else in the organized church, is wasting his life.
No Division in the Body
No division in the Body!!?!! Wow! Sounds like some elusive far out there dream that could never be realized, huh? Wait a minute! Hold your horses and try to think about your physical body. Is there or has there ever been any division in your body. I hope not, because that would mean either some kind of amputation or maybe the removal of an organ during surgery and that sounds quite serious. Of course there is another thing that could cause the division of your body and that is death. Now this is ugly but what are the things that can cause death. Lack of breathing which correlates to the Holy Spirit is one method. another is if the blood stops flowing either through getting stuck in some organ and not flowing through the body or something going wrong with the heart. Even if the arteries get stuffed up that could be a factor. The long term cause of that is usually cholesterol from long term bad eating. Or also, inner cancer of certain cells mutating against other cells could cause it. But if a you die, then of course they would have to bury you because you would start falling apart. There's your division. Sorry ... this is gross to talk about but do you get my point??? IN THE FIRST CENTURY DIVISION WAS NOT VERY COMMON BUT TO US UNITY HAS BECOME AN ELUSIVE DREAM!!!!!! HOW FAR HAVE WE BEEN REMOVED FROM WHAT HAS BEEN FREELY GIVEN TO BE OURS IN GOD'S DEAR SON?????? This is terrible! Especially if you realize where we really are today and just how ugly this death really is. Hmmm ... do you think maybe today's Christianity needs to be buried? You bet! Deep in the tomb of the Lord Jesus where it has already been placed!
Home Bible Study is only about 150 to 200 years old! It's not a very old tradition is it? It started with the advent of literacy becoming more common in the 19th century. It was John Mott, John N. Darby and D. L. Moody who used methods of sowing verses together from different passages to produce a method of Bible study which many have taken since that time to prove many unscriptural tenants and religions. You may be in shock that I would dare hit on such a thing and tell me "Brother, isn't that what you do in your meetings? Meet in homes instead of church buildings and have home Bible studies??" Well, I admit it sure is better than boring church services but even if the better Bible study method of verse by verse in context method is used, the question still is where do you see home Bible study in the Bible!!!???!?? It just is not in there because it just did not happen! For one thing they could not even read and for another thing usually there was only one copy ( and it was just the old testament) of the scriptures in each city and it would have been found in the Jewish synagogue. On top of that you had better be able to read in the Hebrew language. Now it is true that letters from Paul got passed around and read but it was not the majority thing to do to read the letters but once in a blue moon this happened. So where do we get it from? Believe it or not this is probably to be attributed to someone outside the organized church rather than to someone in the institution this time though there were some of them adding to the equation. His name was John Darby. He is a big figure in the history of the Plymouth Brethren who, by the way, had quite a wonderful mark in the things of God, I do believe. He had such a gifting of opening the Word that I believe that is what ruined them and God had to move on to another people to recover the lost things of His New Covenant. When you pay too much attention to the one talented member because he is so talented, you tend to ignore even more important one talented members. But herein is the biggest killer: the blood flow in any body has to flow through all members or you have got a hemorrhage on your hands. The wonder is that people have so much understanding of physical life and understand how to take care of, feed, exercise and grow this physical life of ours but don't know the first thing about the feeding, exercising and maintenance of the spiritual life even to the 1st ten degrees. Anyhow, so much "light" through John Darby poured in upon the scriptures and the study of the Bible (see the real truth and problems concerning Bible study and john Darby by clicking here) that the love and inner experience of the spiritual began to become replaced by the mental knowledge of the word. As this was taking place there was more and more emphasis upon the study of the Word as the literacy level on planet earth began to change. With all this came the concept that somehow there was some kind of magic to "getting into the Word" and it came to be believed that there was some kind of secret to getting a better Christian life by having a better understanding of the scriptures. Do you see the subtlety of this concept. Christ as THE ANSWER of the Christian life and everything else was slowly being replaced by the Bible as the answer. But it is important to point out right here that the Bible is NOT the answer but merely the answer ABOUT the ANSWER. The Lord testified to this in John 5:39 and 40: Ye search the scriptures, for ye think that in them ye have life eternal, and they it is which bear witness concerning me; 5:40 and ye will not come to me that ye might have life. It needs to be pointed out because of the way many versions are rendered that in many of them the words ye think are not there. and also the word Ye or You is not there as the first word so that some understand Jesus as saying a commandment to Search the scriptures instead of what He was actually telling them about what they already were doing. Of course if the "you think" is not there it changes the whole meaning to say that life is actually in the written word when it is not. Life is in Christ alone (the "zoe" eternal, uncreated divine life of God, that is). And just what are we poor poor blind believers missing out on as a result of this wrong center of today's Biblically centered, yet unbiblically based mindset. I will try to hit on some of the major points.
Victory in Jesus
In I Cor. 15:57 it reads: but thanks to God, who gives us the victory by our Lord Jesus Christ. But I have heard so many testimonies of Romans 7 defeat around me, it is ridiculous. Surely the Bible is not the answer. Now, an understanding of what the Bible really is saying would SURELY help! But what is the Bible saying? Jesus said that it points to Himself so we could come to himself! But you don't have to read the Bible to do that! Any child can do it! ...So what does it say about overcoming sin? It is really so simple. John the Baptist said it very simply and concerning victory you don't have to KNOW any big shot theology other than this one statement and then do it and it WILL work: "Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world." Now it is true Paul needed to write about this subject to the believers in Rome but all I can say about that is that they understood what he wrote about but today we have reams of 2 inch thick books written on Romans 6,7 an 8 and STILL don't get it! What is wrong with us? Simple: we are too much into ourselves! That is all! Or maybe we're too much into the Bible! How we need to just do what it says when it says: "looking away unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (KJV). (emphasis mine)
Riches of His Glory
What is this? In Eph. 3:14-21 Paul writes: For this reason I bow my knees to the Father [of our Lord Jesus Christ], 3:15 of whom every family in [the] heavens and on earth is named, 3:16 in order that he may give you according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with power by his Spirit in the inner man; 3:17 that the Christ may dwell, through faith, in your hearts, being rooted and founded in love, 3:18 in order that ye may be fully able to apprehend with all the saints what [is] the breadth and length and depth and height; 3:19 and to know the love of the Christ which surpasses knowledge; that ye may be filled [even] to all the fulness of God. 3:20 But to him that is able to do far exceedingly above all which we ask or think, according to the power which works in us, 3:21 to him be glory in the assembly in Christ Jesus unto all generations of the age of ages. Amen). The glory of God is His outshining or expression and the riches of this outshining are all the things of the finished work of Christ that have fully revealed this infinite glory such as the unsearchable deep elements of His death and the infinite DNA processes of His resurrection and I believe I have barely scratched the surface! All of this is TO the ecclesia according to Eph. 1!
Power in the Inner Man
The above passage you must remember was written to a corporate "you" not an individual you so this power may not be the regular understanding of power that we have today. But they did not need a commentary to understand what Paul was talking about because it was already at work within the inner man of the assembly! This inner man was the inner man of THE one new man Who is Christ. This of course is not Christ alone but with us His Body. So what is this power? It is the ability of Christians corporately together to literally soar into the heights and depths of the very love that flows heavier than any river, ocean or Niagara Falls between the Father and the Son from eternity past to eternity future including the riches of His Divine Power, resurrection power, His innate natural abilities (natural to His Divine life of course), the riches of His wisdom, the fellowship of His sufferings and so much more of things prepared for those who love Him that are beyond what the ear can hear or the eye can see or can even enter into the human heart!! And we're just getting started!!!!!!!!!! Can you do this in your Bible study??? Why not? Because this cannot be done with the mere human mind or emotions but the organ of the human spirit of man is the organ to touch and receive God and He is tooooo big to be known merely by one individual alone. That is why God created so many of us.
Christ, the Homemaker!
The statement "that Christ may dwell" means make Himself at home. Wow! How in the world could someone like that actually make Himself at home in fallen men?? He surely must be adding "tons" of His divine nature into us and building us together and furnishing us up real fancy to do something as heavy as feel at home in us sinners??? What????? You've got to be kidding right? Nope! THAT'S what the scripture says!!!! It doesn't stop there! To this is added the fact that the roots of this Home is IN LOVE. Hmmmm! Is that the same love that drove Him to Calvary's hill? Is it the same as that which will be shared between him and "we" as His Bride? What about grounded? This love of God Himself as solid as Calvary's finished eternal work the foundation of OUR hearts built together!!!! What is this??? Well surely not in this life, it must be in heaven. Really? Well it surely ain't no Bible study!!!!! The truth is all of this is already ours through the cross!
The Breadth, Length, Height and Depth
The length? Could this be longsuffering? Sure. Have you considered to what lengths the Lord has gone to save you and pay your price? But breadth; it is hard to figure out. Maybe if you consider the complications of so many different needs of all His members and how they relate. I guess that's why the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Christ. ( And you thought it was found in books!!!!) There could not be enough books in the whole universe to deal with all the stuff that's happening even in one generation. The height? Enough grace to seat us in heavenly places in Him on the very throne of the universe qualifying us to reign over the nations as co-kings with Him? In total 100% concert with Him?? What about the depths? Is there really enough grace to solve every problem, sympathize with every sorrow and heal every sickness and disease, sanctify and separate us from every sickness and selfishness replacing all these things with the new creation life in all of his people's spirits, souls and bodies??? Enough to not only save us, replace us and transform us but also to conform us to the image of His Son? All of us? Can we tap into this now? What about the goals, aims and intentions of where this love of God plans to take us? It is true, chapters in scripture such as I Cor. 13 and such will open some of this up to you. But will it give it to you? Nope! Just read the dead letter and see how far that will get you. No way! You'll have to exercise your spirit "with all saints" as Paul wrote about to actually contact God with other Christians and "to him that is able to do far exceedingly above all which we ask or think, according to the power which works in us, 3:21 to him be glory in the assembly in Christ Jesus unto all generations of the age of ages. Amen" (emphasis mine)
Have you heard the voice of your dear Bridegroom
calling His Bride forth from out of the shadow lands of Mystery Babylon
the great??? Do you hear Him from within His inner chambers through the
hearth of His fiery altar......... ???
Have you heard the voice of your dear Bridegroom calling His Bride forth from out of the shadow lands of Mystery Babylon the great??? Do you hear Him from within His inner chambers through the hearth of His fiery altar......... ???
another voice out of the heaven saying:
"Come out of her, my people, that ye have not
fellowship in her sins, and that ye do not receive of her plagues:"
"Come out of her, my people, that ye have not fellowship in her sins, and that ye do not receive of her plagues:"
If you hear the call, you have heard the Blessed Bridegroom who chases His Bride through the ages and woos Her to Himself from all nations, tribes, tongues and kindreds ........
Until the Consummation of the
Ages. Copyright © 2005 by Kevin theNorthWest. Non-commercial use permitted.
Copyright © 2005 by Kevin theNorthWest. Non-commercial use permitted.