The Counterfeit Church
As you read and study what has been written here, do not just blindly accept it. Please check the Scriptures and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you His truth. The Scriptures quoted here are from the King James' version with the words of Jesus in red.
counterfeit church is a mixture of the Holy and the profane or the harlot and
the Bride. The form of church government where a priest or several priests preside over
the group was reinforced when Constantine in the third century reformed the
Roman church by merging the Christian culture with the civil government,
and pagan traditions. This had the effect of bringing back the form of government
God had reluctantly permitted the people when He
said to Samuel, Hearken unto
their voice, and make them a king. (See 1 Samuel 8:1-22)
Becoming a Christian was politically proper because the State would then protect them from those who would try to persecute them. Many became Christians in name only, to escape the persecution but did not develop into believers. This practice has continued even until today. A large number of individuals populate churches merely to appear accepted by the world rather than a belief that a relationship with Jesus will change them. These are the ones who willingly give an hour of their time on Sunday morning if it doesn’t conflict with something else they consider more important.
When the Roman church
came into existence to the exclusion of any other, under Constantine's reign, it
returned the rule of man over the church. Man was set
in place as overseer of the church with the title of Pope and others under him
with titles of Cardinals and Bishops. The justification for this team of men to
rule the church was they were educated. The idea was they could not only read
but also understand the Scriptures and would be able to properly instruct the
This brought many features of paganism and the occult into the church. Many of those features were “Christianized” by changing their names to make them more acceptable to the people. There were three main pagan and/or occult celebrations or festivals and many other minor ones that were brought into the church.
One of the first of these changes came in 375 A.D. when the church announced the birth date of Christ would be celebrated on December 25th and many of the customs of the pagan Saturnalia Festival would be allowed to continue. This Saturnalia Festival was a week-long celebration of merry making and gift-giving which culminated in the winter solstice on December 25th.
The second of these changes concerned the pagan fertility festival of Oestre. This festival was celebrated near the time of the Passover each year. The name Oestre was Christianized to Easter and is why many in the church today include the rabbit and eggs as part of their traditional celebration. Since the pagan Festival of Oestre coincided each spring with the time of Passover, it isn't difficult to see how the pagan beliefs and customs eased into the life of the Church and eventually replaced the Passover.
The third of these changes concerns the
occult Festival of Samhain. The early Celtic civilization, even as much as 300 years
before Christ, celebrated the Festival of Samhain on October 31st. Samhain is their god of
death and on the night of the Festival of Samhain many human sacrifices are to be
presented to Samhain. The mid-night hour on that night is the high point of the year for
divination, spiritualism and sorcery of all kinds for the followers of this belief system.
The Pope, in the eighth century, in an attempt to get people to abandon the Festival of Samhain and all its occult practices instituted Halloween as we know it today. All Saints Day was established, by the Pope, as November 1st. This was never a Christian holiday, but rather a Catholic holiday to worship and pray to the Saints in honor of those who were martyrs in the Roman persecutions. All Saints Day was later called "All Hallowed" and then "All Halloweds Eve" and then later "Hallows Eve" and finally, Halloween. This attempt to get the church to abandon the occultic celebration, has over time, led people to believe it is a Christian observance, which is far from the truth. Many churches today have renamed the activities they schedule on Halloween as the harvest celebration or festival. Unfortunately they still include some of the traditional Halloween type activities for that celebration.
Man has blended these pagan ideas into the church producing the counterfeit church. This counterfeit church has been taken farther from the original plan by incorporating into itself, a worldly business model. The local, and trans-local, church leadership has become a "CEO" and "board of directors" making it a democratic organization rather than the theocracy God intended. This has blended the wheat and the tares into a single unit - the church of today. In most cases it is very difficult to distinguish the church from the world. Not only has the church adopted the worlds pattern of leadership but also its lifestyle as well. The statistics for divorce, adultery, domestic violence, juvenile delinquency and many other family problems within the church is very similar to that of the world.
There have been many attempts over the past 2,000 years to revert back to a first-century church model. Martin Luther was able to restore part of the early church but most of the Roman model remained. Many others over the years have also been successful in restoring portions of what had been corrupted but the governing model has remained almost unchanged.
George Fox was possibly the most successful of the many reformers with his concept of church government. Those who followed his model and became known as Quakers were probably the closest in form to the first century church. Even these however, failed to develop the full first-century church model.
All institutionalized churches and most other church groups today have a governing structure based upon the Roman model. This model has a single person who is in charge of the group. That individual usually is elected to the position but may inherit it by being in a line of potential successors to the position. There may be additional individuals as a second level of headship just under the “top-dog.”
There is absolutely no reference in Scripture to a clergy/laity
form of government for the church. Mention is made of overseers, elders and
deacons who are to be mature individuals who will provide guidance but not
control. It is the Holy Spirit who is to provide the control. All members of the
church are to participate in the meetings by bringing a psalm, a song, a
spiritual song, and giving of thanks to the Lord but no individual member in
control of the entire meeting.
The church structure in almost all churches today, especially in the United States, aligns itself with federal and local state governments. They do this though submitting papers as a non-profit corporation in order to gain tax-exempt status. This places them under the headship of a governmental jurisdiction rather than the headship of Jesus Christ.
Satan, the enemy of our soul, has so cleverly taken a little truth to wrap around so much unscriptural pagan belief thereby bringing such a large scale deception into the Body of Christ. We must be constantly vigilant to guard against the masking of truth with half-truths. When we mask truth in this manner it becomes deception. Compromise is often one of the means by which this form of deception unintentionally occurs. It is imperative for us to continually "drink of Christ's blood and eat of His body" which is the Word of God.Very few verses of Scripture support the traditional meeting format where pastors "do it all" and the members just sit and listen to a sermon. Most of the references indicate meetings where everyone participated in some measure. Additionally, we are told to go and teach, or make disciples of the teachings of Jesus.
use a capital “C” with the invisible and a lower case “c” with the visible
to explain who it is that is the Church. All who are "born again
believers" are the Church. And it makes no difference where they are or which
local church body they fellowship with. Many who are part of the Church don’t
even attend an organized fellowship. Most people don't realize it because they
think of the Church only in terms of the individual congregation they attend as
Unfortunately, many in the church today are not actually part of the Church. These are people who believe that because they have joined an organization they call church, or were raised in the church, or are not of Jewish descent, or they live in a "Christian nation" automatically makes them Christians.
George Barna, a researcher of church trends, made this statement in his 2000 "State of the Church" report: "In a typical week, 41% of the adults attending Christian churches are not born again." He also stated: "Like the churches of Laodicea and Sardis, described in the Bible as distasteful to God because of their complacency and spiritual deadness, too many Christians and churches in America have traded in spiritual passion for empty rituals, clever methods and mindless practices."
Many in the institutional church are a part of the Church but aren't aware of their position. They don't fully understand what the "body of Christ" really is and that they are a part of it. They tend to think only in terms of the local body they associate with. Often there are Christians who are somewhat radical within a local church congregation. They often recognize they are different than others in their congregation. The "empty rituals, clever methods, and mindless practices" just don't satisfy their hunger for more of the Holy Spirit. They are between the "called out ones' and the "Radical Christians."
These usually are people very involved in the activities of their church. They have a sense of doing "good things" but not really that which the Holy Spirit is asking of them and frequently suffer guilt feelings about it. These are people who desire to use the ministry gifts God has placed in them. Often however, their church leadership either forbids or discourages them from using these ministry gifts.
The invisible Church is composed of those who are not only born again but have also developed an attitude of “more of Christ and less of me” in their daily behavior. Members of the invisible Church are among both the churched and un-churched people.
Presented here is only a sampling of the many "man's tradition" which are
prevalent in the church today. These examples of attempts to counteract the
pagan influence found attractive by so many Christians, along with the
interpretation of Scripture by man, have resulted in a church far from that
which God intended. Over the years these worldly pagan practices and "traditions
of man" have completely infiltrated the church. Christians today, often don't
know the origin of these practices. Through their lack of knowledge of God’s
Word they ignorantly and blindly accept them as Scriptural. Members of the
clergy have often taught some of these practices to the church.
For many years now I have cringed internally when people have stated they want to see a revival in the church. Revival would seem a very logical desire to have and it bothered me to have the feelings of it being wrong. Just recently the Lord revealed to me it was reformation that is needed not revival. We don’t need to revive what has been a wrong model. Instead we need reformation so it will conform to the first-century church model.
This details the mixture of Holy and profane we find in most all of today’s visible church. A picture quite different from the one described in verse 27 of the fifth chapter of Ephesians. ("That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot,or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.")
We need to:
Read the Scriptures daily
Ask the Holy Spirit to “open the eyes of our understanding” That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdomand revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, (Ephesians 1:17-18)
We must also remember God is Holy and has commanded us to also be Holy.
(Numbers 15:40) That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God.
(Leviticus 11:44) For I am the LORD your God: ye shall therefore sanctify yourselves, and ye shall be holy; for I am holy: neither shall ye defile yourselves with any manner of creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
(Ephesians 1:4) According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
A large part of our becoming Holy is the separating ourselves from all unclean thoughts and actions. The natural world around us is filled with so much that easily defiles us. The images we constantly see in all forms of adverting. The music so many of the people today listen to blaring in our ears with filthy words. And also the “politically correct” push to eliminate reference to anything “Christian.” These things should cause us to ponder the words of 2 Corinthians 6:17. (Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you
The Message Bible states it this way (So leave the corruption and compromise; leave it for good," says God. "Don't link up with those who will pollute you. I want you all for myself.)
This verse of Scripture has been interpreted in many different
ways by a large number of people. Quite a few have felt it is a call for God's
people to "come out" of the institutional church because of what they see as
gross error in those organizations. Others have strongly disagreed with that
premise. I sense truth to lie somewhere in between these two extreme views. God
has allowed man to form the many thousands of divisions within the body of
Christ whereby there exists several churches within a community. This is,
however, contrary to the plan set in place during the first century where there
was a single Church in each locality. This separation or "coming out of her" is
more spiritual than physical, however for many it is also an actual physical
Let me be very clear in stating that I don't see the church as all bad or evil. There is much that is right. Most all involved are operating with honorable intentions, trying to live by man's interpretations of Scripture. But the fact remains that today's church is a blend containing both the "clean and unclean" and is not the Church Paul says in Ephesians 5:27 that Jesus is expecting to present to Himself. (That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish).
all we must seek His Kingdom as Matthew 6:33 instructs us. (But seek ye first
the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added
Becoming "born again" only opens the door to the Kingdom of God. Accepting Jesus as our savior is just the first step, even though it is an extremely important one. We must enter into the kingdom by actually having a personal relationship with the King to know who He is and what His will is.
Once we begin to understand what His will is then Matthew 6:10 should become our constant prayer. (Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.)
Along with these two things we should gather with other like-minded believers who will join us in this prayer focus. There are two things we must remember. The first is that we can do nothing of eternal worth by ourselves. The second thing is that God will work only through our prayers. While He is capable of establishing His will on earth without our help, He has chosen to do it only through us.
As we seek His kingdom, develop a personal relationship with Him and enter into prayer, He will begin to change us into proper citizens of the Kingdom of God. We will begin to develop a "kingdom mentality," which will make us better ambassadors for our King. As we become proper ambassadors of the Kingdom of God it will change the atmosphere around us bringing heaven down to earth.
We are to know His will and speak it into existence here on earth by speaking His Word. God created the earth and all that is in it by merely speaking it into existence. As His ambassadors, we also have the ability to speak His Word and bring it into existence here on earth. Doing so will bring the Kingdom of God down to earth.
Lord, help us to speak only that which your word declares. Let not our lips utter the logical thoughts based upon what our natural eyes behold but rather that which our spiritual eyes and ears have seen and heard.
May the Lord Jesus daily add those whom He will to His Church. And may He also answer our constant prayer for His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
How can we become the Church "WITHOUT SPOT OR WRINKLE?"
Jesus, The Christ or Anointed One, said He will build His Church and Paul, under the influence of the Holy Spirit, said it will be a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle.
(Matthew 16:16-18), "And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
(Ephesians 5:27), "That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish."
Because God has said it, it will happen. Our God has chosen to work on earth through man. While He is all powerful, He is a gentleman who desires us to be obedient to the Holy Spirit in the building of His Church. Man on the other hand tends most often to walk in the flesh rather than be led of the Holy Spirit. It is for this reason we find the church so tarnished and ineffective today. There are some things, however, that we have been commanded to do which will bring about the change necessary for the church to be without spot or wrinkle.
We are to have a relationship with Jesus. He is the vine and we are the branches. Branches cannot function or even survive when they are not attached to the vine they are a part of.
(John 15:3-7), "Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you."
Additionally, we are to be not only connected to the vine (Jesus) through a personal relationship with Him but we also are to be productive branches bringing forth much fruit. Many have interpreted this ‘much fruit' to mean making disciples and that is true but I believe it also refers to the ‘fruit of the spirit'
(Ephesians 5:8-11), "For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth; Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them."
(Galatians 5:22-26), "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other."
When we have a right and personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, we will want to obey all that He, through the Holy Spirit, is instructing us to do. How do we get this ‘instruction?' We must read the instructions provided by the ‘Manufacturer's Handbook.' We are the creation of our heavenly Father so He is the manufacturer and His instruction book is His Word, the Bible. We are told, in Ephesians 5:26, to sanctify and cleanse ourselves by the washing of the water of the Word. In other words, we are to READ HIS BOOK, the Bible.
(Ephesians 5:26), "That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word."
It is here that we are made aware of whom God is, what He requires of us, what He will do for us as we follow His instruction, and who He considers us to be. As we read this book, we need to ask God to give us revelation of how these instructions apply to us and how we can accomplish what He has commanded us to do. He has promised to send the Holy Spirit to lead us into all Truth.
(John 16:13-15), "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you."
We also are commanded to pray.
(Matthew 6:5-13), "And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
This Scripture tells us where (verse 6), how (verse 7), and what (verses 9 through 13) to pray. We should also add the statement of Jesus on the night before He was crucified where He gave an admonition about temptation and prayer regarding whose will is to be done.
(Luke 22:39-42), "And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done."
We should also ask for a greater understanding of the Scriptures.
(Luke 24:45), "Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures."
As we learn to hear, and be led by, the Holy Spirit we will begin to see that our enemy is not other people but the evil one. We also will learn what weapons are available for our use, and the manner in which we are to combat this enemy.
(Ephesians 6:10-18), "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;"
(2 Corinthians 10:3-5), "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;"
We are to judge Scripturally. This means we are not to judge people but we are to lovingly confront our brethern who has been overtaken in a fault and not walking according to Scripture. It is imperative that we remember our God is a God of reconciliation and restoration; Jesus came, was crucified, was buried and rose from the grave that He might reconcile us with the Father.
(Galatians 6:1-6), "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted"
At the same time we are not to be walking after the flesh.
(Matthew 7:3-5), "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye."
We should also keep in mind that often the behaviors we see and are prone to judge may not be the sinful acts we think they are.
(Acts 10:9-15), "On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common."
Peter was shown what seemed to him to be against the teaching of Scripture but was in fact something God wanted him to do. We must remember that only God knows the heart and motive of man. There may well be a Holy Spirit inspired reason for the behavior we see.
It is also important for us to realize that not all of our Christian brothers and sisters are at the same spiritual place on the path to the Holy of Holies that we are. Some are far ahead of us, but many have not yet gotten to where we are. Some, being led by the Holy Spirit, may even be traveling on an altogether different route on their walk with the Lord. We must be careful to encourage rather than judge them. We must also refrain from entering into ‘doubtful disputations' with them over the things we have or have not been shown by the Holy Spirit. What can be an appropriate belief or behavior for someone today, in their particular setting, may not be so at another time or place.
(Romans Chapter 14:1-23), "Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living. But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way. I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. Let not then your good be evil spoken of: For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. For he that in these things serveth Christ is acceptable to God, and approved of men. Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another. For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak. Hast thou faith? have it to thyself before God. Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he alloweth. And he that doubteth is damned if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith is sin."
We are to be holy, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and a peculiar people. God has called us to be different from the world. Because of this our thinking, behavior and conversation, should have changed after receiving Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
(1 Peter 1:13-16), "Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy,"
(1 Peter 2:9), "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:"
That marvelous light we have been called into has a purpose. We who are born again have a mandate to live our lives such that His marvelous light shows.
(Matthew 5:14-16), "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."
Our witness must first be demonstrated through a genuine love of and for people, putting their welfare before our own. We have no power of our own to extend this kind of love, it can only develop in us as we daily seek a love relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. As this relationship grows, so will our ability, through Him, be available to manifest itself in love to those around us. Only as we do that will our verbal witness be recognized as real and something to be sought. Through that relationship with Jesus we then have this light and are commanded to proclaim the "Good News of the gospel of Jesus Christ" unto all peoples.
(Mark 16:15-16), "And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned."
(2 Peter 3:9), "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
We have an obligation to disciple those, who have seen, heard, and seek after that which we demonstrate and verbalize. This goes beyond just seeing they accept Christ as Savior. It means we need to spend time with them in fellowship so they can continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Our Lord. Discipling is not just a few minutes once or twice a week; it is a long term commitment of our time and energy. This is perhaps one of the greatest areas of weakness in the church today.
We are told "do not forsake gathering together with other believers" but there is more to that Scripture than just the "gathering together."
(Hebrews 10:22-25), "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for he is faithful that promised; And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching."
This portion of that verse of Scripture is used all too often by Pastors to encourage congregations to faithfully and regularly attend their services. It almost becomes a law unto bondage for those who are not that consistent in their attendance. The rest of verse 25 along with verses 22 through 24 is perhaps a much more important message for the Body of Christ to hear. While regular fellowship with other believers is vitally important for us to grow in knowledge and understanding of Scripture, to mature in the faith, and to develop spiritual gifting it is questionable whether the ‘assembly' of today's church will accomplish these goals. That is not to say there is no value in attending the traditional church service of today: corporate worship if it exists in the service and the hearing of the Word, if it is preached are both desirable. The Scriptural model for the church, however, has these elements plus a much better method for accomplishing the goal of fellowship and discipleship. It also is better able to permit the discovering and development of spiritual gifting.
The fellowship of believers is normally only with those of the particular assembly to which they belong. Fellowship with believers from other assemblies is not often practiced. There are multiple reasons why this is so, but many are based upon intolerance for the beliefs and doctrines of the other groups. Members of one denomination often will not fellowship with those of another because of the difference in beliefs or customs. An attitude of intolerance is all too often displayed by members of various churches toward people of other sects and/or denominations. Are not all who have accepted Christ as savior brothers and sisters in the same Lord? Why are we separated one from the other over traditions and customs with very little, if any, Scriptural basis? Let us concentrate all of our resources toward seeking the face of Him who is the Head of us who are His Body.
(Ephesians 1:20-23), "Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all."
As we totally submit ourselves to the headship of Jesus, rather than man, we will become a functioning part of the Body of Christ. It is then we will begin to see with our heart, the ‘whole body', where Jesus is the head and us, both individually and collectively, as His body. That is when we will then want to do all those things He has commanded us to do and be. We also will begin to become genuinely interested in other people and their welfare.
(1 Peter 1:22-23), "Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."
Also, as we begin to have fellowship with believers outside our own ‘clique' that ‘open weave lace like fabric' will change into one having fewer open spaces. The ‘pockets of those who are serious about a relationship with Jesus' will become both larger and knit closer together by that ‘mere wisp of a thread which is Jesus, the strongest of materials.' When that happens the Body of Christ will begin working together as one, reclaiming the ground the evil one has taken captive. Jesus will be building His church, through us His Body, into that "Glorious Church without spot or wrinkle."
November 30, 2011
If you desire additional information you may contact me: Bill
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