Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Real Church

My heart goes out to both the “new born” babe in Christ, and those that have had a true desire to know God.   Maybe something has happened in the life of a “seeker” that caused them to “seek out” God and have turned to where they believed they would find Him....the church, but lasting answers are not there to be found.  As for the new “born again” believer, if given the opportunity, the institutionalized church will shipwreck their faith as it has done countless others throughout the last two thousand years.   

"Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (6) That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit." [John 3:5-6]

When speaking of the “new born babes” in Christ, we are not talking about the “seekers” here; we are speaking of those who have been born again... “born of the Spirit” as Jesus said.  They are ones that have come out from the world and its desires and have received a new heart to live the rest of their days for the will of God.  To them, religion or more to the point, “modern Christianity”, comes as an “angel of light” with a form of Godliness that can be deceiving to these unaware new believers, this false “light” the church offers denies them the power to be set free (or remain free) from sin. 

The new born child of God knows that he is but a child and he longs for fellowship and instruction in this new found faith that has become so alive in him.  Here in the western world and its brand of “Christianity” (which has now spread throughout the whole world) he is told he must "go" to “church” and submit to its leadership...get “plugged in” and they will tell you what to do and how to “serve”.  This “seems” right...believing these “Christians” feel about God the same way he does.  He believes they have been “born again” as he was (or why else would they call themselves Christians and go to church if they were not?) and since they are older in the Lord...they must be right, they have “been at” this a long time. Not realizing that it is all a lie, a trap of the enemy, who has come to steel, kill and destroy his faith, it (modern Christianity) has "become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird." [Revelation 18:2]  The “church” has become an enemy of the cross of Christ and would “resurrect”, if they can, the new believer’s old self life and hand it back to him...killing the new seed that had once been planted in him.

Do the other members of the “church” realize this?  I believe most do not, that is why it is called a is THE “great falling away” that the scriptures have warned of.  There are many reasons people go to “church”.  It is sad, but most do not go because they were born again and were seeking fellowship with like-minded spiritual brothers and sisters who would encourage each other in the faith, but go for other reasons.  There can be as many reasons as there are people in the pews.

Some go because they want to “clean up” their lives for some reason, become respectable, and maybe ease their conscience.  Going to church doesn't cost them that much, a little time and maybe some money sometimes.  But the music is good, it can be entertaining, they feel like they did something for God, something that pleased Him and that it makes them feel good, they feel justified for a while.  They can hear an encouraging message on how much God loves them and how they can receive all of God’s blessing, especially if they “obey” God (all churches have their own set of “laws” to live by, some more strict, some less), they go to church and “tithe” to it, God might be more obliged to answer some prayers. Others go for the kids, thinking they are giving them some good morals to live by and the church will teach them about God, but none of these were ever born again. 

"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." [Matthew 16:24]
"Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me." [Mark 10:21]

Some of these “church goers” think they were “saved”, in fact, I would guess most think they were “saved” when they said a prayer to “accepted Jesus into their hearts” while repeating a few words after a pastor.  But they were never truly born again, they were never told the true Gospel of the Kingdom of God and its requirements of true repentance, or even know what true repentance means, the cross was never explained to them...the cross THEY would have to carry.   They were not told to count the cost and see if they were willing to go the distance with Him no matter the cost.

" And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. (28) For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? (29) Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, (30) Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. (31) Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? (32) Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. (33) So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple." [Luke 14:27-33]

"Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God." [Acts 14:22]

These people had never even heard the true Gospel and they were lied to, Christ is NOT living in their hearts ruling and reigning, but “self” is still the master of their lives and the church gives them a false sense of security that they are “OK” in their self-directed way of life.  But in reality they are still in their sin as they continue to eat of the “human opinion tree” (The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil) and the wrath of God remains on them.

But among the masses of people in the “churches” there are some that were true children of God.  This is the great tragedy, they had come as new believers and new born babes in Christ seeking fellowship, some might have even been born again there, and thought the “church” had something to do with it, but later only received a slow death, so slow and gradual they didn’t realize it was happening, or if they did, they didn’t know why it was happening and was powerless to stop it.   There may have been times when something just didn’t “seem right” to them or they saw error, but they excused it, they might have thought they must have been wrong...they thought they HAD to be in didn’t want to be called a “church hopper” or they would be disobeying God if they “forsook the assembling together”... wouldn’t they?  They might have convinced themselves they were just being “critical” or judgmental...they just needed to learn to get along with everyone, after one is perfect....they think....

Wasn’t long before they were accepting the “status quo” but deep down...if they let themselves think... they knew something was missing.   Was this the way it was in the first century church?  Is this the manner of life the apostles lived?       
If the truth was known about the history of the “church” for the last two thousand years, you would know WHY the so called “church” doesn’t have any spiritual power in it today.  All that is left is forms, traditions, rituals and entertainment with emotions that fade away, but no power to change lives to become true Sons of God that walk in the Spirit and no longer fulfill the lust of the flesh.  They have a “form of Godliness but deny the Power thereof”, they have cleaned up the outside of the cup; making it look pretty for all to see its (false) light, but the inside they are ravenous wolves.  They are Christ’s in name only and they are a friend of the world.  We see today, what has happened to the seven churches in Revelations...Isaiah also prophesied about them... 

“And in that day seven women shall take hold of one man, saying, We will eat our own bread, and wear our own apparel: only let us be called by thy name, to take away our reproach." [Isaiah 4:1 KJV]

" Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you," [2 Corinthians 6:17]

I pray the Lord would open their eyes to see the truth and to see that there is LIFE outside these dead institutions.  It is a REAL life that doesn’t fade away after the “programs” are over and all the hype and emotions are gone, but it is a power that LIVES in them that will keep them from sin as they submit to it.

“...because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.   And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:" [2 Thessalonians 2:10-11]

 Some reading this may even remember having that “Life” years ago but have been convinced that was there just because they were “young” in the Lord and they have “out grown” it now....  COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM while there is still time!  If Christ is still not the most important thing on your mind everyday....if He is not what you live for, if you are not seeking Him with your whole heart every day, wanting to know what His will is for this day, and asking for the power to do it, you will have to ask yourself, have you become lukewarm and has He spit you out of His mouth?  Has He answered you according to the idols of your heart and has put you at ease in believing the lie?   Seek Him while He can be found!

As you “come out from among them”, (i.e. false forms of religion) to be “received” of the Lord, you can expect to see tribulations because of it.  Those still in these false forms of religion will believe you are wrong for leaving and you “must have backslidden”, all kinds of repercussion can happen because of it.  But the root of the problem is....they cannot afford for you to be right...if you are....where does that leave them?  But the neat thing is, the Lord can use these situations to bring a deeper death to “self” in you and teach you to really live for God and not “man”.  As He does this in us, the Lord can give us a deep love for those that are still lost and caught in the church trap with no “need” to defend ourselves and what we are doing, but only answer them as the Lord gives us directions in it.  

"For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. ... (9) But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his." (Romans 8:5, 9)

"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." [Romans 8:14]

Those that are His, He has given them ears to hear His voice and to be led by Him.  He gives them the Grace (Power of God) to overcome the world.  He will even direct them to true fellowship with other brothers in sisters in the Lord.  NO it is not an organization with a “name” on it and has no “forms” with so-called leaders, no “funds” needed for buildings or anything like that, and no salaries to pay.  Just people that love the Lord and want His will no matter the cost and want to share with others that are just as commented to Him as they are....He IS their LIFE.   Fellowship with others is also called a body.  It is a body that has many members spread out throughout the world.  In this ONE body and we will find more mature brothers and sisters in it that we all can learn fact, we will all learn from each other, from the “least” to the “greatest”.   If all members of the body of Christ are abiding in the “vine” and are learning of Him and feeding from Him, there will be times that ALL will have something to share with others.    It is the Lord that puts these members together as HE so wills it, no “human” hand has to “direct” it; it is led by the Holy Spirit.   

A sister posted a blog the other day that put it very well the way of fellowship and what “church” is all about. 

 Lots of Little Churches - by Loretta Heiden
“and to the church in your house…” Philemon1:2

What Church do I go to? I don’t. I don’t “go to” the ones on the corner with wood, stones, mortar, steeples, pews, lobbys, offices, classrooms, donation envelopes, ATMs, liturgies, confession boxes, “prayer rooms”, membership contracts, State-incorporation, power-tripping Clergy, Spirit-squashing Church traditions, mics, stages, sound systems, lighting systems and elevated pulpits.

But I am a part of lots of little churches, and we are all united; one flock, with one Shepherd.

What do my lots of little churches look like? Where are they located? Who are the leaders? Is there a liturgy or order of service? Do we meet on Sundays?

I had dinner out with J.; we are a little church. My friend K. came over and we sat in the living room; we are a little church.
My daughter and I spent time together; we are a little church. My daughter’s girl friend spent the evening at our kitchen table.
We talked for hours; the 3 of us are a little church. I chat with my blogger friends online, we are a little church. I chat
with many friends via email; we are lots of little churches. One Facebook friend came thru my city on her way across the country and
she stopped by for tea; we were a church of 2 sisters. On Skype, i meet up sometimes with 2 or 3 friends, we are a little church. I talk on the phone to one
dear sister who lives in another state, we are a little church.

I find the followers of Jesus all the time out in public. We stand there on the sidewalk together, we are a little street church. Out in the parking lot
with a girlfriend, we are a little church in the sunshine. I send a letter in the mail…. the postman delivers “love one another” to my far away friend.

P. comes over for dinner, we eat, share, cry, read scripture and pray. We hang out in the backyard sitting in lawn chairs near the vegetable garden, just being together. We are a little church every time he comes over.

My FB friend sends me an encouraging email. We are a little church thru the miles.

My little churches, “gatherings” really, happen wherever I happen to be with another saint, and we are sharing time together, and sharing encouragement together. Jesus is with us. The leader is the Holy Spirit and there is no clergy, no order of service or liturgy, there is no “Hierarchy”, no power- trips, no committees, no board and definitely no “proper Church clothes”. There is no required day.

There are only a few of us at a time, with Jesus, together with one another. We are a little church in my house.  When we communicate with one another in any way, we are together and we are a little church. One body, one Spirit. Lots of little churches.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

We Must Die to Live

If Christ is the kind of Savior He claims to be, He can obviously save His people from the bondage of sin. This is not to support the man-made doctrine of “sinless perfection”; it is rather to declare the God inspired doctrine that it is possible to “walk in the Spirit” and so “not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” (Gal. 5: 16 NKJV) The Spirit has the power to enable us to walk in all the light that we have received and to no longer walk in willful sin. God has made provision in the cross of Christ for His children to be delivered from the yoke of sin.

John 12:24 KJV - [24] Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

There is no other way to this Life in Christ except by the cross of denying ourselves daily, as Jesus said in Luke 9:23, “…If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” 

Many insist that this is beyond our ability. Our real trouble, however, is in our unwillingness to die to our own will and ways. The Cross touches self and exposes the old willful nature. Here is the inbred sin that everyone receives from Adam. But we must go into our own Garden of Gethsemane and choose to take His way of the cross. Only then can He begin to work in the supernatural, which includes His scourging work, to bring about the end of the old flesh-life.

When we have a hunger or thirst for something from this world, when we are being tempted by the devil, there are two ways of quenching those desires. It will either be by giving into them by taking the easy road that the Lord called the “wide road” that leads to destruction, or by fighting the good fight of faith and submitting to the cross of Christ in a willingness to suffer with Him by denying those fleshy evil desires and desiring only His will to be done.  This is the “narrow way” that leads to Life. Only after being approved by continuing to choose the harder path, i.e. the “narrow way”, will the Lord impart a new life in us and begin to display His nature through us.

James 4:7: Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

1 Peter 5:10 KJV - [10] But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle [you].

Every downward step, every dying to self, every embracing of the cross—whether in the form of denial or degradation, of suffering or separation, of false accusation or humiliation— all these and a hundred other things that might be mentioned, are not a descent into misery but actually an ascent to life and power on the throne. Our call to embrace the Cross is a call to reign with Christ.

Have you truly become a follower of Christ? There is no other way to find His life. If you are attempting to find a way into the heavenly realms other than through the cross, you are deceiving yourself. Listen to Jesus: “You will indeed drink the cup that I drink, and with the baptism I am baptized with you will be baptized.” (Mark 10:39)

L.E. Maxwell said:  “He who is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.” (1 Cor. 6:17) Listen fellow believer. The promises of the Lord are sure. “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” (Rev. 3:21) It was only by overcoming the self-seeking and self-exalting ways of this world that He gained this eternal position. The only way up is down.

Epistles of Christ

"2 You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; 3 clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart. 4 And we have such trust through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God," (2 Corinthians 3:2-5 NKJV)

Just like the “written” epistles, do our lives point to Christ,  taking no “honor” to ourselves?