Friday, December 27, 2013

The Holy vs. the Profane

WASHINGTON - A very valid question today which hardly seems to be asked is this: How do we know if we are truly serving the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob - the God of our LORD Jesus Christ, the Apostles, and the saints of old?

Many of us stand convinced we are indeed genuinely worshiping and heartily believing in the Holy One of Scripture.  We staunchly affix ourselves unmovable when challenged of whether we are being led by the Spirit of Christ or our own selfish desires of the heart.  We've persuaded ourselves our LORD is Jesus and our God, the Father in Heaven; no one can cajole us otherwise.

It is not this writer's intent to convince some to the contrary in this writing.  As always, it is, however, the author's intention to point out the Truth and encourage the reader to follow thereafter.  It's the oft repeated statement . . . "no one purposely seeks to be deceived" . . . which this writer seeks to bring into remembrance.  For at the present time the overwhelming majority of professing Christians have been deceived.  Why this is a surprising statement to some is because they have yet to discern the mystery of iniquity that's been working in the church for the past 2,000 years, (ref. 2 Thessalonians 2:7).

We've been highlighting the precepts of being a genuine disciple of Jesus Christ.  Many claim to be His disciples but their actions prove otherwise.  May the following words offer some revelation to those who may be curious as to why this writer consistently seems to portray the great majority of professing Christians today as apostate.

Via the personal journeys of some of us through 'hell', so to speak, we've been painfully taught how to learn to obey and strictly rely solely upon Him for our necessary sustenance. At times we fail but we proceed in Faith onward and upward.  Such a boast cannot be claimed by all, sadly.  Yet, this is the calling reserved for all those who seek the Master's face and long to inherit His eternal kingdom.

For many years this writer sought God to bless his efforts rather than pouring his efforts into what blesses the Father.  As a result, there is not one conviction presently held as Truth today which hasn't been completely divorced from what was previously believed.  That is, one of the most important outward signs of Christian sanctification is the discernment to let go of previously held convictions in light of greater Truth.  This is a distinction of a truly humble and contrite spirit. And this to His praise and Glory only - for left to our own devices we'd still be wallowing in the mire tossed about by every diverse wind of doctrine and sleight of men.

We live in a world of 'smoke and mirrors.'  Deception is all around us.  Most professing Christians cannot even fathom the idea that most of their thoughts and desires, their sincerely held convictions and deep rooted beliefs are actually erroneous and based on cleverly crafted lies of men; men, for the most part, that have no overt desire to purposely deceive others, but do so, none the less, because they themselves have been subject to rulers, principalities, and powers of darkness, (ref. Ephesians 6:12).  

Society, as a whole, has been brainwashed by politicians and religionists for so long that very few minds actually are able to extricate themselves from the malaise of disinformation, lies, and outright deception.  Regretfully, this same disease affects a vast number of churches, as well.

While this writer was water baptized as a teenager and pursued a holy calling, taking an obedient stance in subsequent years after a profession and conversion to the Faith - it should come as no surprise that none of this would have been able to redeem him once he backslid and fell away.  Had he not repented of his descent into darkness nothing would have been able to restore unto him the previous fellowship he coveted with God.  This is part and parcel of the grave deception so prevalent today in Evangelical teaching.  The Calvinist doctrine of "once saved, always saved" has been borne out in many lives to be a comforting, but damning lie.  It is a demonic doctrine of devils offered to fallen men in order to salve their conscience of guilt.  The Scripture plainly states that Faith without works is dead, (ref. James 2:14) yet many Christians presently cannot seemingly understand what works of obedience must be apparent in order for their entrance into the kingdom of Heaven. 

For example, the current Pontiff of Rome recently made some very ironic statements which should have the majority of Roman Catholics further questioning everything their "church" stands for and believes.  Unfortunately, the Pope's statements only further solidify the blindness of not only Catholicism's leadership but its adherents as well.  (Click here and here). Ignorance is truly bliss sometimes.  

The largest "Christian" sect in the world, holding sway over literally billions of souls, is utterly corrupt to its core.  The religion it teaches is pagan and utterly unbiblical.  As a result, the destiny of most of its adherents is destruction. Yet, this does not stop droves of Protestant evangelicals from seeking to be covered, once more, under the umbrella of 'mother Rome,' after extricating themselves centuries ago during the Reformation.  Albert Einstein once stated:
"A foolish faith in authority is the worst enemy of the truth."
Roman Catholicism is not only to blame, however.  The same fate awaits Protestantism as well as modern day Evangelicalism. These systems of man-made theology are sweeping the masses towards a future of turmoil and death all the while, on the surface, parading themselves about as the purveyors of brotherly love, peace, and righteousness.

How is it so many have been so deceived for so long?

The answer is simple, actually.  Men love darkness rather than light, (ref. John 3:19).  And while religion claims to show us the Light, they've only offered a counterfeit, in most cases.  Jesus Christ warned the religious leaders of His day to make sure they did what was necessary in order to discern Truth.  He stated plainly and boldly that men, if not extremely careful, could be led astray by what seemed holy and right, (ref. 1 John 1:5-7, John 3:19-21, Psalm 139:12, Romans 1:21, Matthew 6:22).

In modern times, men have dismissed the true Christ in favor of their own christ.  To them, the Christ of the Bible is one who overlooks and tolerates their sin.  He is one who has "paid it all" and therefore does not require obedient fruit in order to be redeemed and granted eternity in heaven.  He is one who accepts lawlessness and excuses rebellion.  He is one who just says 'believe' not do!  That is why so many today, it appears, find no problem wearing a cross; from the most vile and repugnant musicians and movie 'stars' to the most revered religious leaders.  To these Jesus Christ is simply a talisman one can use to ward off what they perceive to be evil all the while standing convinced they have a free ride to heaven.

While it's true that groups of men and women through the centuries have been faithful and righteous toward the God of Scripture, this is but only a small minority.  The majority have followed the broad road which leads to destruction.  Only a remnant ever find the narrow path in each generation.  Very few, according to Scripture, will find the genuine way of salvation; most will follow their own path which seems right to them, only to find in the end it, too, leads to damnation, (ref. Proverbs 14:12).

So what has gone so wrong, especially in America, that most people who consider themselves disciples of Jesus Christ near universally believe that holiness, while preferred, is not an absolute requirement of eternal salvation?  What has convinced them that all they really need in order to make it to heaven, and thus into the radiant presence of God for eternity, is simply a static belief in Jesus Christ?  

Proverbs 14:21
Some try and partner their belief with good works like feeding the hungry, caring for the sick and elderly, clothing the poor and loving the downtrodden - not realizing that these things, while all good and noble efforts, if not done from a clean and contrite heart, are only dead works which will never merit eternal glorification.  

How much worse will it be for the fat and wealthy who greedily consume more and more while the weak and poor suffer horribly?  Some of the world's greatest philanthropists are also the boldest purveyors of wickedness.  In fact, many very popular "Christian" stars of our current era make known quite loudly, just as the Pharisees before them, how abundantly generous they are in their financial contributions to the poor and destitute.  The Scriptures state emphatically they have their reward and such as these will not inherit the kingdom of God, (ref. Matthew 6:3-4).
 
So how must one live if they are to inherit eternal life?

Anyone who has been paying attention this past holiday season couldn't help but to notice the absolutely disgusting and repugnant behaviors those within the churches have displayed.  One would expect greed and covetousness from the heathen, but those who profess to be Christian?  It makes Christ utterly sick when those who dare call themselves by His Name spend more on their own pagan rituals then they do on the fatherless and the widows.  How many children went hungry this past week while millions of professing Christians spent plenteous amounts of time and money worshiping their materialism and covetousness all in the name of Jesus?

The blame for these behaviors, if it is to be fairly meted out, must be placed nearly entirely at the feet of those who claim to be elders, pastors, and priests of God.  It is the responsibility of these men to pastor, teach, feed and bless the flock of God. In some cases, this has been done and continues to be - yet in most instances the men elected to fulfill this calling have abandoned the sheep of the LORD's pasture to ravenous wolves.  Rather than serve and protect they have been seduced to mislead and dominate the flock of God. For they themselves are just as greedy and covetous as those supposedly under their care.

In the early church the deacons and elders of a congregation served as guards.  They did not let anyone into the fellowship who did not belong.  They screened everyone before simply allowing them presence among the saints of the Most High God.   Compare this to today where anyone is let into church fellowships.  Is it any wonder why barely 1 in 1000 Christians know what true worship is and is not?  The churches today are full of self-absorbed people seeking comfort and sympathy as well as entertainment and absolution.  They had no business being invited into the sanctuary of believers in the first place.

If you were to listen to most modern Christians they'd tell you the main goal of Christianity is to spread the Gospel.  What they mean to say is, above all else, the church needs to be focused primarily on missions and evangelism.  Did you know this is NOT AT ALL the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  Men err by assuming rather than studying, (ref. 2 Timothy 2:15).  The Gospel is not a set of static doctrines to be repeated over and over again until every last person on the planet has heard them.  Yet, this is what evangelism is today.  It seeks converts to a belief system.  The churches today writhe in unrighteousness because they have forsaken the narrow way in favor of the broad path. 

The elders and deacons have not taught those under their care the Truth. Which is, one day even Christians will be judged according to their works.  Instead, these false shepherds tickle the ears of their congregations by telling them soothing and comforting things standing in fear of those who may find offense in hearing the true gospel of the kingdom taught.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a way of life, not a way to Life. The "Great Commission" was fulfilled 1900 years ago yet modern Evangelicalism insists otherwise.  The directive was given to the eleven 1st century Apostles of Jesus Christ, not to every Christian person who has lived since A.D. 30,  (ref. Matthew 28:16-20).   The New Covenant is nearly silent on the issue of evangelism yet roars feverishly loud and clear and constant on the need to be obedient and follow the commandments of Christ and the Apostles.  How has the majority of the church got it so wrong for so long?

Worshiping God is not about feeling compelled to share one's faith with everyone you meet.  It is not about canvasing your neighborhood, city, state, country or the entirety of the globe "for Jesus."  Worship is not about gyrating to some soulful beat, raising your hands in rhythm to a half-hearted and monetarily compensated praise and worship band.  It is not about reading a Scripture here and there and passing the offering and communion plates.  Nor is it about sitting in a pew facing forward and listening to some self-appointed or seminary placed pastor or priest share a quick homily or sermon so everybody can get home in time to worry about their own lives they've put on hold temporarily to come to church for an hour a two.

The true worship of God is nothing less than an obedient and sacrificial life predicated upon the Scriptures.  It is about picking up ones cross and living a life reflective of Christ's commands.  It is about bearing spiritual fruit and denying oneself.  It is about working out one's own salvation with fear and trembling along the journey of sanctification.  If this is not your current form of worship then you are offering obeisance to a god of your own making.  While you may have indeed been justified in the sight of the LORD you are not being sanctified and are precariously close to being cut off the Vine.  Glorified saints will be those who've been obedient unto death, not those who once recited the 'sinner's prayer' sometime in their past then proceeded to live their life how best they saw fit.  The saints of God, who worship Him in Spirit and in Truth, are those who have had their consciences trained to discern both good and evil.  They are a people who have been purchased at great cost owing their remaining existence to complete servitude and obedience to the One who has called them out of darkness and into His wonderful Light.  Anything less is to be simply one of the many "called" - not one of the few chosen! (ref. Hebrews 5:14, Romans 6:18, Matthew 22:14).

The fruit God requires of His people is obedience to His commands.  As someone once said, "holy people will inhabit a holy heaven."  God will not allow sinners into His kingdom.  Therefore, if the sole qualification of entrance into this kingdom is a one-time confession and belief in Jesus Christ then perhaps the Universalists are correct and all paths lead to heaven.  Heck, if it's true that even Satan and his demons will one day enjoy reconciliation back into Paradise why bother even living a quiet and obedient life?  If all will be saved in the end through the torments of purgatory and eons of refinement and correction then it makes sense to spend all our time making the most out of this life - to eat, drink and be merry - for tomorrow we die (but not really).  

Today, we cannot help but to see why the churches have nearly all become cookie cut-outs of one another. The churches of Jesus Christ are for the holy saints, not profane sinners. The early Christian churches did not let just anyone into their midst.  Thus the "great commission" Christ gave to His inner circle to go and out and make disciples of all peoples telling them to obey whatever He had commanded them. It's very true that Christ and the Apostles ate with sinners.  They kept company with prostitutes and thieves.  However, it is equally true that such persons, apart from repentance, were not allowed unfettered access into the company of the holy ones.  Presently, however, it's a completely different story . . . practicing sin is welcomed in the churches.  Very few today, it seems, have any reverent fear of God.  They think stories of Old Testament High Priests being killed in the Holy of Holies for "accidentally" disobeying a just and righteous God are just fables.  Apparently they assume, as well, that stories of others being instantly killed in the New Testament for lying to the Holy Spirit are myths also.

Today, while some obedient churches do "go out" most seek to "draw in".  Instead of protecting the flock, the majority of pastors, teachers, and elders devise comedic and clever programs with worldly enticements in order to bring the sinner into their midst.  Rather than the saints edifying one another through song, teaching, praise and worship - the 'church service' becomes subservient to the worldly seekers entering their fellowship.  The message then gets compromised so it does not offend the hearers.  The world enters the church, the "called out" of God, the ekklesia, - and the body of Faith is adulterated and most often overcome with sin resulting in every detestable form of idolatry.  So much so that in the present hour there are fornicators, adulterers, pedophiles, sodomites and queers, not only occupying the pews of many churches but standing in the pulpit ordained to preach and proudly marrying gay men and women all in the name of God!  What an abomination.

Churches today do everything they can in order to be appealing to the world around them that they may draw sinners through their doors.  This is why the majority of churches today make a mockery of Truth and cause the Spirit of Christ to not only leave their gatherings but curse them, as well.  They have forsaken the narrow way and refused to recognize quality over quantity.  As a result, they have been marginalized and left with 'in name only' Christians who remain stagnant and lacking of discernment; Christians whose lives cannot be differentiated from those around them for they live and act just like the sinners they so fervently seek to "save."

Christ told His disciples to make other disciples by teaching them to obey whatever He had commanded them.  He did not tell them to hang an "all are welcome" sign above their doors nor place a reader board with some clever saying on it out front then proceed to relax while taking refuge in their sanctuaries waiting for the unregenerate to walk in and visit their assembly.

When teachers and preachers, elders and deacons dismiss the validity of the Scriptures and rely strictly upon their own revelation from whatever myriad of sources they prostrate themselves before surely deception is not far behind.  Today, men follow after deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons never realizing their course has been altered.  Churches the world over are chalk full of comprise, tolerance, and deceit - not all, but most.

That is why when we look upon men and see the kindest of hearts, the truest of intentions, and the sincerest of beliefs we still biblically and justly admonish them to forsake their weakness in leaning upon their own understanding and instead encourage them to pursue the righteousness that only comes from the love and obedience to the Truth.

Early Christians considered themselves "paroikoi".  That is, they reckoned themselves aliens or foreigners in a strange land.  While they resided in their respective countries they wholly conceived of themselves as residents of another country, with citizenship, not on earth, but in heaven.  They had no dealings in the governments of the land in which they dwelt, neither did they dishonor their God by submitting to a lesser god through military or political ambition.  They did not submit to a man as a god, rather, they reproved such demigods.  The idea that any Roman Caesar was a god, let alone the Son of God on earth, in the case of the Popes of Rome, was abhorrent to the early Christians as well as believers throughout the centuries.  They considered such men antichrists. 

Compare this to modern Evangelicalism.  False teachers and pastors today proclaim arrogantly and pridefully that Christians must not only vote in the secular governments but should enlist themselves as political candidates and/or soldiers in defense of their country ready to maim, murder, kill, steal and destroy in order to defend their life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness for God and Country!  Is it any wonder that the sheep cannot see through the ruse of their, perhaps well intentioned but completely ignorant, elders, teachers, priests and pastors?

Rather than submitting to the Apostles teachings and those of Christ Himself, men have succumbed to the musings of fallen Romanists like Augustine, Calvin, and Luther.  Today, we have very few Bible believing churches.  Most hold to creeds and traditions of their respective sect or denomination.  In fact, it is much worse.  The majority of churches claiming to be Christian today could more aptly be labeled pagan.  The steeples, the pulpits, the pews, the differentiation between the clergy and the laity, amongst many other things have their origination in paganism, not Biblical Christianity.

In the early centuries Christianity spread like wildfire.  Most of the converts came out of pagan religions.  What did these pagans see in Christianity that piqued their curiosity?  Was it the preaching of dynamic evangelistic sermons?  Was it as a result of mega-conversions predicated upon a simple "sinner's prayer"?  Was it the adoption of their own heathen rituals and traditions by the church in order to beckon them? Not at all.

The power these pagans were afforded to witness was the testimony and behavior of the Christians. The Christians, or those of "the Way", were perceived to be a strange and peculiar people that did not at all resemble the society around them.  They had all things in common from the least to the greatest.  They met one anothers financial needs.  They did not participate in the games, circuses of sport, nor the theatre of the ungodly. They neither enlisted in the military nor took part in the elections of the government.  They blessed their enemies and did good unto them.  They did not pick up the sword and defend their life and liberty, either for themselves or their fellow saints.  They were a very peculiar people which served an entirely different kingdom than that of the world around them.

The pagan converts knew that death from persecution was virtually inevitable once they joined the ranks of those in "the Way" - yet they were not detoured.

The Gospel spread throughout the known world, at that time, not because of dynamic sermons or seeker friendly evangelism but because in the midst of these holy people called Christians the lame were healed to walk, the dumb were given voice, the possessed were exorcised of devils, their dead were raised to life and their obedience to their Savior shown forth in a changed life of willful submission to the commands of their Master.

Contrast this to today's believers, the majority of which are wounded victims rather than overcoming and victorious conquerors.  The gospel being preached in modern times, with very limited exception, is an "easy-believism" gospel profane and ungodly.  May you be encouraged to diligently seek out holy men of God given up solely to the protection and purification of the saints - Amen!

 
What to look for in a pastor . . .