The Highjacking of the New Testament Ekklesia
Are you suppressing His truth [Ekklesia] with unrighteousness [Church]?
The following comparisons are designed as both an appeal to those claiming to be Christians and those who have yet to call upon the name of Christ for salvation.
To the former I would write:
The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands, says this:
"I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you have found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name's sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love.
Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place- unless you repent." [Revelation 2:1-5]
I chose the verses above to be representative of what seems characteristic in part of what is left of the Ekklesia of God on planet earth. I am not referring to what has obviously already become apostate, but to what is left of those professing orthodoxy in institutionalized religion. The above verses are to one degree an affirmation and yet on another an indictment. I strongly suggest you take the latter warning seriously.
To the latter I would then appeal:
"Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him (Christ) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we (you) might become the righteousness of God in Him" [2 Corinthians 5:20, 21]
I am sad and burdened this day by a tremendous fact- that despite the responsibility of all genuine Christians to preach the above truths to you, most if not all of us have failed in that responsibility. It is not as if we have failed to warn you of your need for Christ's righteousness verses one's own, that message has been made clear enough. Sadly though, we have in most cases entirely misrepresented two vital things before you. The first would be a purposeful skirting of a personal cross as Jesus Himself has commanded for our lives, the second an entirely false concept and misrepresentation of the Ekklesia (what too many call Church today) that Jesus Himself said He would build. I hope it becomes obvious enough, that the former is the primary reason for our failure to follow Jesus' leading in the latter.
These comparisons are given to reflect a more accurate picture of what the true Ekklesia of God entails, a very real living family of individuals who share a FAITH IN CHRIST, that men, their religions and best intentions have highjacked for some 1800+ years. Although I am writing this as an individual, I am not alone in my sorrow for having set such a poor example of what it means to live as a Christian before you. Please forgive those of us who have attempted to love you in word only verses in deed and truth. May this information in some way be a balm to your soul, and may you see here what our Lord Jesus Christ has always intended for your good and His glory- His Ekklesia.
Please reconsider Jesus' own loving appeal to you for His name's sake:
"I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die." Do you believe this? [John 11:25, 26]
THE CHURCH [of worldly wisdom and man's tradition]
What man has done(1) What God said(2) The Result(3)
1 Mistranslated the word "Ekklesia into "Church"
2 Ekklesia doesn't mean the same thing as Church. 01
3 The definition and practice of Church obscures the definition and practice of Ekklesia.
1 Redefined "Ekklesia" wrongly. Man ignores the fact that the word "church" didn't even exist in the 1st century.
2 "Ekklesia" means a called out people, it is not a place where people gather together to meet. 02
3 Pursues and promotes a tradition of men- going to church.
1 Attempts to replace God as Head of His Ekklesia.
2 Jesus remains Head of His Ekklesia. All Christians are equal necessary members of the Body of Christ. 03
3 From Pastors, to Priests to the Popes- they DO NOT control God's universal Ekklesia nor ANY local ekklesia.
1 Attempts to build Jesus' Ekklesia for Him through "church" and church services.
2 "I will build My Ekklesia"- Jesus 04
3 Man's many churches obscure the One true Ekklesia of God
1 Creates different types of "churches" as "all white," "all black," and nationality churches.
2 All Christians are part of the One Ekklesia. Even local expressions are never divided as such. 05
3 Gives the impression that many types of what God created can exist. This simply isn't true as it concerns His Ekklesia.
1 Constructed buildings and called them churches. Some yoke with local governments as 5013c tax exempt organizations which allow them a business bank account.
2 First, the word "church" was never used by Jesus nor His disciples. The word they used was "Ekklesia" which does not mean "church." Ekklesia is a spiritual organism- it is heavenly and built through spiritual means. As such, it cannot, nor could not have earthly affiliations whatsoever. 06
3 Man misrepresents God's Word, The Bible, and His Ekklesia not simply by building "churches" and naming them, but also through advertising. Each church claims to be doing God's business in the "name" of their particular church instead of in Jesus' name alone.
1 Created religious organizations to meet certain needs and combat earthly problems. Many are tied to governments.
2 All Christian service is an outflow of a local ekklesia. There is no such thing as a Christian organization or "ministry" that God sanctions. 07
3 Man attempts to build his or her own spiritual "empire" and use "it" as an earthly force for "good." Even where mans intentions are sincere, that sincerity still divides the body dynamic.
1 Name "their" churches and organizations however they choose- often after themselves.
2 No local ekklesias were ever named. They were simply referenced by the locale where they resided. 08
3 Emphasis taken away from "what God established" and placed upon "what we do" – start churches, organizations etc.
1 Promotes an earthly church and sacred things (buildings, alters, sanctuaries, implements, holy days etc)
2 Ekklesia is a spiritual organism of people and therefore focus' upon and lives out that which originates in heaven. 09
3 Earthly blessings and earthly sacrifices are wrongly pursued at the expense of spiritual sacrifices and heavenly blessings in Christ.
1 Title the building out front and create official documents and letterhead for "their" organization.
2 God's Ekklesia can't be named. Local ekklesias are smaller expressions of the ONE united Ekklesia of God and are simply referenced by their locale. 10
3 What men create is under their jurisdiction and control. They wrongly promote the importance of buildings before the sinners and the saints.
1 The purpose of the Ekklesia has been largely ignored and misrepresented due to the emphasis upon "church."
2 Man wasn't created for the Church [Ekklesia] any more than man was made for the Sabbath. Both were made for men- and the Ekklesia is being made for Christ as His bride. 11
3 The primary purpose of the saints becomes keeping the machinery moving. All human contributions are to this end- to grow the size and influence of the organization- Jesus Himself merely becoming the means to that end.
1 Man has misrepresented who comprises God's Ekklesia. Inviting unbelievers among (not into as they say) the fellowship of the saints is one way. Another is the false statement outside some buildings which says, "Everyone Welcome" which is plainly not true among the saints. In an organization, you become part of it as soon as you willingly join it.
2 Only born again believers are part of God's Ekklesia- the universal Body of Christ. Faith in God and repentance toward the Lord Jesus Christ bring an individual into Christ's spiritual body. Joining man's church equates to an act of man whereas spiritual membership in God's Ekklesia is initiated by God Himself. 12
3 Because the number of people clearly affects all the facets of institutionalized church, the leaders can ill afford to be entirely Biblically guided or Christ centered. They often allow and even structure meetings toward unbelievers needs. This saturates what should be a solemn assembly into a lukewarm and leaven filled group of people in search of spirituality- because the real saints have either left already or will when they're tossed to the wind by the leaders.
1 Man attempts to involve anyone who would contribute (volunteer) to their church- again falsely representing who and what comprises God's Ekklesia.
2 Only tested born again Christians should and can contribute. Fleshly men are not part of God's Ekklesia nor will God accept even their "best" of intentions. God says, "Be ye reconciled" 13
3 Individuals become deceived into thinking their participation in a "church" and all things "Christian" is synonomous with salvation.
1 Man attempts to reproduce other men into the particular churches image. The agenda becomes reproducing similar churches in other cities and even countries.
2 Those with apostolic or evangelistic functions convert souls to Christ in specific locales. These individuals become part of the ekklesia in that locale. These gifted men are "sent" on behalf of the entire Body of Christ, not just a segment of it. 14
3 Missionaries sent out from man-made organizations with earthly names. They are sent to establish similar types of organizations in other places.
1 Convinced believers that building the kingdom of God with bricks is an acceptable practice.
2 The kingdom of God is built spiritually. Jesus plainly stated: My kingdom IS NOT of this world. 15
3 Church goers are participating in what Jesus never commanded them to do, and promoting the false concept of "church" as a result.
The 1's above: ARE SYNONOMOUS WITH: An attempt to return to Old Covenant practices superceded in Christ.
The 2's above: ALL THE WHILE REJECTING: A new living and better way through Jesus.
The 3's above: RESULTS IN: Setting the stage for man's traditions to nullify God's Word and commands.
The Leaders [of worldly wisdom and mans traditions]
The 1's below: What man has done
The 2's below: What God has said
The 3's below: The Result of men
1 Establish their "own" unscriptual traditions
2 Obey Biblical traditions only 16
3 Man's traditions nullify God's commands
1 Man has created religious denominations and named them. Individuals promote leaders, churches and Jesus, thus having a divided affection.
2 All named organizations are sectarian (SECTS) and divide the ONE BODY. 17
3 Sects compete for "money," "members," and "influence" in their communities.
1 Man divides what Jesus died to unite through church traditions, hierarchy, advertising and many other church practices.
2 "Denomination" means NAME. All denominations or religious institutions are the inventions of men. 18
3 Promote their own "brand" of so-called Christianity and encourage others to do likewise.
1 Promote their organized religions at the expense of the truth of God.
2 God does not recognize secular titles men use such as Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, Penecostal, Calvinistic and the other 1,000,000+ names. 19
3 Anyone who is using these titles is plainly contributing to the sectarian spirit that already exists among believers.
1 Those who build place themselves in a position of authority over the work of their hands.
2 All authority is given to Me- JESUS. 20
3 Confusion over who really has authority over God's people, God or men.
1 Men place emphasis upon a spiritual meeting place for worship.
2 Jesus says, not here in this mountain or in Jerusalem, but in Spirit. God does not live in temples made with hands. 21
3 Men exalt "places" of meeting with undo significance. The value of meetings trumps and overshadows the value of family relationships.
1 Appointed for themselves teachers in accord with their own desires. Demand a king just like Israel did.
2 Plurality of equal elders guide God's children. No one central figure allowed to rule. Ever. 22
3 Attention and ministry revolves around this primary man. Christ's preeiminence and headship usurped.
1 Men have appointed themselves "leaders" in what he or she calls "church"
2 Only One is your Leader and His name is Jesus. He alone is Head of His Ekklesia. Follow Him. 23
3 These leaders expect the laity to follow them and often their "vision" for the future of the organization.
1 Primary leader chooses elders or board members. They are usually friends or professionals like themselves- often from the business community.
2 Elders and deacons must meet certain criteria and be tested before they can serve. The decision to allow someone to serve is decided upon through mutual decision making among the elders AND the whole assembly. 24
3 Average believer has little or no idea how this process works for it is usually unseen. Elders must meet the primary leaders requirements for he or she is paid to run the organization and tow the party line.
1 Decision making is primarily the leaders and those he chooses to rule with him.
2 Decisions are made by consensus. The entire assembly should be likeminded and agreed. 25
3 Average saint is kept in the dark about problems and other decisions that affect them. There may be a business meeting although ultimately the leaders alone make the decisions.
1 Man assumes he or she has earned the right to lead by obtaining an education.
2 The apostle paul said of his education, "I consider it dung," when compared to the value of KNOWING CHRIST. Trust and dependence upon God can't be learned in college but over time in the school of life. 26
3 Those leading these "churches" encourage others who want to serve God "full time" to get an education. This may be the way man does church but by no means is it a prerequisite of God. It only results in knowledge which alone creates pride in one's accomplishments.
1 Consider themselves "professional ministers" after college.
2 He chooses the weak, the foolish and those willing to be dependent upon Him. Why? So they have NOTHING to boast about except Him. God is strongly opposed to one type of person: anyone who thinks they have earned anything at all by their own efforts and strength. 27
3 Man assumes because he or she is educated that they know better or are smarter than the average believer. Furthermore, these people believe that when they are hired by a church that they alone are the main player in that fellowship. As such, this church revolves around their leadership, teaching and other abilities. This exalted view of oneself is evident in the manner these people advertise themselves- in newspapers, on church signs and by emphasizing their credentials (MD etc ) behind their names- if the latter has anything to do with one's ability to preach and teach with power.
1 Chosen leaders are positioned in a religious hierarchy with degrees of authority. Often the distinctions of "clergy" and "laity" are used to describe two different types of believers.
2 No Christian has authority OVER another Christian. All believers are equal brothers/brethren. 28
3 Individual believers and their gifts are controlled and suppressed resulting in a feeble and unhealthy spiritual body.
1 Men wrongly assume that having a prominent role in a "church" or "ministry" is synonomous with having authority OVER others in the faith.
2 Leadership is functional, not hierarchal. It is by example, not by mandate. It is humble not forceful, Spirit appointed, never self appointed. 29
3 Church leaders attempt to control what happens in "their" church" with "their flock." If they cannot control them they will attempt to silence them with terms like "rebel," "radical" or "lone ranger" or excommunicate them for unjustifiable reasons.
1 Men have devised all manner of titles to clarify who they are within the organization. Pastor with a capital "P" is no longer good enough. Now it's Senior Pastor etc or Prophet or Apostle such and such. In some cases it's even a CEO or President of a particular "Christian organization." In one case it's actually a Pope!
2 Any spiritual or religious title exalts men as above their brothers and sisters. Nowhere are titles such as Pastor, Priest, Rabbi, Minister, Reverend, Apostle, Prophet, Bishop, Cardinal or Teacher ever sanctioned by God within the Body of Christ. Having a particular spiritual gift or function DOES NOT necessitate a religious title or designation- unless of course a religious hierarchy is utilized in direct opposition to what God commands. 30
3 In a religious organization it is necessary to know who is in charge. Titles are used for this very reason to denote a hierarchal system of authority that echoes this world system. Try as they might, NOT ONE of these men or women can justify using them. Such an example is sadly pathetic for those claiming to be leaders- something God Himself doesn't even recognize about them.
1 These men consider the sheep in the fold as "theirs"
2 The sheep are God's and His alone. That is why we MUST follow HIS VOICE ALONE. 31
3 The saints are hindered in their ability to serve and speak for their actions are controlled and limited.
1 These men think they have authority based upon their position and title in the organization. THIS IS TRUE- IN AND THROUGH THE ORGANIZATION ITSELF. This authority is granted by those that hire them and is a worldly authority.
2 Jesus says, "All authority is given to Me." All Christians within each assembly have the right to exercise God's authority in given situations through their gifts as the Spirit leads them. 32
3 The saints often suffer the blunt of a leaders authority for no reason at all- except that the individual is becoming a nuisance by disagreeing with them. Saints hesitate to share truth that differs from the leaders for fear of repercussion.
1 Earthly organizations grant earthly titles that are earned through earthly effort. This earthly title affords that individual an earthly position within another earthly organization.
2 There is no such thing as a religious title for a man or woman to assume among their brethren. These titles exalt men and diminish Christ's preeminence. 33
3 Those who are given such titles assume the authority they now possess in an organization is equivalent with God's authority before their brethren. IT IS NOT. It is the authority of the organization itself.
1 Establishes religious positions within their own organizations and what they call church.
2 There is no such thing as a religious position for a Christian in Christ's Ekklesia. Neither are the functions of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor/teacher positions, nor do the gifts of prophecy, teaching or evangelism entitle anyone to utilize one. Jesus plainly condemned doing so as only He is qualified to be our Leader. 34
3 In the least this copies the authority model of this world system which we are called to be separate from. Moreover, it exalts some believers above others as more spiritual or important and focus' the majority of ministry work upon those people. At its worst, those with religious positions abuse the sheep, steal from them and lead them astray.
1 Positions of "elder" and "deacon" are filled by the primary leader.
2 No positions exist. All elders are equals and must meet the Bible's qualifications. Saints together recognize who the Spirit of God has recognized as elders. 35
3 Self-appointed or hired leaders fill the religious positions of elder and deacon.
1 Those wanting to lead apply for a position within what they call "church." Rarely are those applying local applicants.
2 All leadership is home grown from within each local assembly. Compensation is neither assumed nor desired by those longing to serve. 36
3 Applicants compete with others for a religious position. They are hired verses screened for meeting Biblical qualifications. These individuals are usually unknown to those in the congregation.
1 Leaders make the decisions for everyone else.
2 Leader's can't make decisions outside of the other local saints. Plurality of elders exercise oversight. 37
3 Leaders rule as kings over the congregation.
1 Leaders decide what is and is not acceptable ministry. They decide what will be done in and through the church.
2 Assembled body decides all matters together. 38
3 Average believer has no right to minister without permission.
1 The primary leader decides the course or vision the church will pursue.
2 The Biblical mandate for preaching and teaching the gospel is emphasized by all. 39
3 Any deviation from the leader(s) vision is met with reprisal and/or excommunication.
1 Head of the organization receives special "perks" and entitlements.
2 Head of the Ekklesia is Jesus alone. Everyone else treated as equal in Christ. 40
3 Focus becomes each churches leader, our "pastor" or "priest" etc. overshadowing Jesus.
1 Hold preplanned weekly worship services.
2 There is no such thing as a worship service in the Bible. 41
3 Religious formalism destroys spontaneity.
1 Primary leader performs for the saints.
2 The only central figure is Jesus Christ. Others have the opportunity to participate. 42
3 Saints sit idle instead of exercising their gifts. Jesus cannot possibly be manifest when the saints are idle.
1 No interruptions allowed.
2 Interactive fellowship with other saints bringing judgments. 43
3 Leader(s) have free reign. No accountability for what is taught, said or sold.
1 Leaders stand and teach "up front" and "before" the saints.
2 Roundtable casual fellowship. No one is given special treatment as a believer over others. 44
3 Leaders stand out as different, special and more important than other believers. This is not how 1st century fellowship functioned.
1 Leaders regularly speak or teach while others remain silent.
2 Saints always open to contributing. Fellowship is a dialogue, not a monologue. 45
3 Individual saints and their gifts are silenced, marginalized and deemed insignificant.
1 Primary leader is paid to act in a certain fashion and tow the party line.
2 Rarely are any saints paid. God's truth triumphs over what man wants or desires. 46
3 Men's expectations rule over God's decrees and commands.
1 Leaders create weekly "services" and various scheduled programs.
2 Believers follow the prescriptive instructions for gathering and fellowshipping spontaneously throughout the week. 47
3 These services do not resemble New Testament gatherings. They are formal routine meetings where everything is scheduled in advance.
1 Man attempts to restrain the blowing of His Spirit by scheduling "meetings."
2 Those born of the Spirit resemble the wind. When they're coming or going is anyone's guess. 48
3 Mens plans circumvent the Spirit's momentary leading through all the saints.
1 Is built with the desire to serve God and man in mind.
2 Is built upon the 12 apostles and former prophets, Jesus Himself being the chief cornerstone. 49
3 Cannot serve God's purposes for He hasn't built it. Can only fulfill the limited desires of men.
1 Members have varying views of the Bible.
2 Members believe the Bible is the literal Word of God. 50
3 The Bible is wrongly interpreted out of context and often misunderstood.
1 Uses the Bible sporadically and rarely sees it as authorative.
2 Uses the Bible as the authority for Christian doctrine and practice. 51
3 Man has no basis for what God requires or commands outside of his own imagination.
1 Doctrine downplayed
2 Doctrine is necessary as it defines what God says and what Christians believe. 52
3 Experience trumps doctrine
1 False doctrine tolerated
2 False doctrine exposed and rejected 53
3 Leaven weakens and corrupts the congregation
1 Attempts to change the meaning of Biblical words
2 Words mean what God says they mean- they are defined by Him. 54
3 Deceptively misleading the naiive.
1 Man appointed leaders misrepresent the Great Commission
2 Go therefore (go out into the world and make disciples) 55
3 Man invites sinners to "church" to be converted. Converted to what?
1 Lord's Supper relegated to a communion "service"
2 A full meal shared regularly among the saints wherein Jesus is remembered. 56
3 Once again formality replaces the intimacy and celebration Jesus intended.
1 Delay's baptism until after the church leader(s) offer an explanation, usually through a mandated class or course on the subject.
2 Baptizes only born again believers immediately after a profession of faith in Christ. Any other believer can baptize them. 57.
3 Men disobey the Biblical instruction for reasons of their own making. Men thwart God's intent and desire usually due to them associating baptism with church membership.
1 Members join at will provided they subscribe to the organizations rules/demands. Churches keep a membership roll.
2 All members are born again spiritually through Jesus Christ as God calls them to Himself. They become members of His Body- not a local church. They are received into local fellowship, not membership. 58
3 Congregation are filled with both believers and unbelievers. A little leaven leavens what?
1 Pleads for resources to support these earthly organizations and their massive overhead and ever expanding outreaches.
2 Saints originally met in homes which removed most expenses. More resources were freed up to meet the real needs of the household of faith and our neighbors. 59
3 There is never enough as both are ever expanding. Instead of small ekklesias reaching their neighbors (God's original intent) , massive "churches" and "organizations" each attempt to influence the world.
1 Continues to support the false practice of tithing which has nothing to do with Christians in this dispensation.
2 Israel gaves tithes as it was mandated by God for them- and for specific reasons. Those in the Body of Christ don't tithe but rather give freely as they are increased. We are commanded to support the saints needs but only to do this voluntarily, not under compulsion. 60
3 Hirelings falsely promote tithes and often designate the amounts, often make those amounts public and even threaten the saints- all for their own selfish gain. This is one more result of building "churches," salaried "leaders," and "titles and positions" within "religious organizations" – none of which God has EVER SANCTIONED, NOR WILL HE.
1 The functions of the men and the women in the ekklesia are confused. The roles and headship God established are abandoned.
2 Men assume the leadership functions and women support the men. Women wear head coverings to show submission to the men, angels and before God. 61
3 Excuses are levied against God's plain truth and the women justify themselves. Cultural reasoning is the men's and woman's favorite excuse.
1 Women are not only found speaking in public assemblies but also leading the men.
2 Men do not rule over women nor allow them to usurp the authority God gave them. 62
3 Men and women rebel against what God has permanantly instituted since creation.
1 Women are assuming prominent roles within the Body of Christ and men are often allowing it or promoting it.
2 Women are not even allowed to speak when the entire assembly gathers together. Women can have the gift of teaching but are prohibited from teaching the assembly as a whole or when men are present. 63
3 All deviation from the Scriptures has consequences. Regardless of appearances, desires women say they have or societal changes, rebellion against God is never a good thing. Repent.
1 Primarily as a result of the growth of "their" ministries or influential contacts they have known, these men and women have become very well known, some of them throughout the world. One of their biggest goals is to recruit others into promoting what they believe by using various methodologies and marketing strategies and written and audio resources. These leaders ALWAYS HAVE secular contacts in and through worldly organizations including various governments that they work with to achieve mutual goals.
2 Although God does raise up and exalt certain individuals for His purposes, this is the exception and should not be the pusuit or intent of any believer as it is unwise to attract attention unto oneself. Considering the false methodologies that usually bring rise to these individuals notoriety (self-proclaimed and self-titled ministries) it is unlikely that God was ever behind them. Furthermore, the saints are called to operate separately from this world and are forewarned about any allegiances with this world and its princes. THEY ARE STRICTLY FORBIDDEN and unnecessary as they undermine one's dependence upon God alone. Neither are they necessary to achieve God's purposes for His own people or Ekklesia. 64
3 First, Christians far too often equate these people's notoriety with a successful ministry. THAT IS UNWISE as many popular religious outreaches are riddled with falsehood. Secondly, Christians are hesitant to question what one of these people share as the truth. They are given guru status as if they could do no wrong. Had men remained humble and out of the spotlight many a scandal would have been kept below the radar and possibly even prevented. Men blaspheme God due to man's refusal to stay where God places him. Lastly, these men attract huge followings despite much falsehood in relation to what they believe and teach. Their faithful followers (not Christ's alone) are often deceived by false doctrines they teach and promote. They in turn promote these very errors and lies to others.
1 Today's "Church" leaders are the largest influence of false doctrine that is infiltrating God's Ekklesia.
2 We have been forewarned about these very people who will introduce falsehoods among God's people. They claim to know God but by their deeds they deny Him. 65
3 Millions of people are trusting in a warped understanding of the gospel promoted by these liars. Millions more, many the sons and daughters of God are being deceived and actually helping to promote these very lies. The few faithful are attempting to curb this assault against the truth with limited success.
Summation: What man has done
Church leaders have introduced or resurrected the following falsehoods into "their' churches and even God's Ekklesia:
12 Step Programs
Purpose Driven Life
Mega Church Trends
Word Faith Doctrines
New Age Thought
And much more:
Summation: What God has said
All of the falsehoods that ever existed or will
are all opposed to denying oneself
through God's command for EVERY individual
to die to his own interests
by embracing the CROSS OF CHRIST.
NONE of the lies above promote this,
nor do any of the individuals involved in them.
They are ALL man's fleshly efforts
that will lead to creating a utopia upon this earth-
a utopia that will be judged by none other than my
Lord Jesus Christ
upon His literal return to this earth.
GOD is faithful,
and therefore will grant what people desire,
and afterwards, the due penalty of their errors (above).
Summation: The Result of Men
leading to the GREAT APOSTACY
FALLING AWAY from THE FAITH.
This will usher in a NEW WORLD ORDER
where all major facets of society will be combined
(governments, businesses and religions)
under the leadership of a false Christ-like figure
the Bible calls THE ANTICHRIST.
(meaning opposed or against Christ)
Upon his being revealed,
a time of horrendous suffering will ensue
like has never been seen, nor ever will again.
The primary instruments of this suffering will be
those who claim to know God-
those who have exchanged
the truth [JESUS and HIM CRUCIFIED]
for a lie or lies (above)-
the real Jesus for one of their own making and imagination.
Enemy #1 Returning to Old Covenant Practices
Contrary to the admission of those who practice it, institutionalized religion is filled with Old Covenant practices that have been superceded in Christ. In other words, these practices are no longer useful or necessary for the people of God. I aim to show that not only is Jesus a better alternative to these practices, if these practices are not abandoned entirely they will block Jesus' intentions- His new and living way of doing His will.
1) Emphasizing the earthly at the expense of the heavenly (earthly verses heavenly blessings) Although God promised Israel earthly blessings if they obeyed Him, He does not promise those same blessings to Christians. Actually He offers something better, the "all spiritual blessings" of the New Covenant in His blood. [Ephesians 1:3]
2) An individual (man or woman) as an intermediary to God (such as Moses)
"For their is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus….." [1 Timothy 2:5] ….and to Jesus, the mediator of a New Covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel." [Hebrews 12:24]
JESUS is the ONLY mediator between God the Father and man.
3) A special holy man who is considered the leader of the people (such as Abraham) Today it is supposedly a pastor, priest or pope.
"But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers . Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Fathet, He who is in heaven. Do not be called Leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant." [Matthew 23;8-12]
Do not be called….that is the prohibition. Obviously their are leaders within God's Ekklesia….those who become the servants of all. They are not those who desire to be first (or chief) among the other saints.
4) A special time and/or place to meet with God to worship and to sacrifice (formerly the tabernacle in the wilderness or the Jewish synagogue).
"But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshippers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth" [John 4;23, 24]
"One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes the day, observes it for the Lord…." [Romans 14:5, 6]
Any special emphasis upon "places," days" or "people" have been abandoned. Such an emphasis leads to making "meetings" the priority over family relationships.
5) Use Old Covenant terminology to further emphasize the importance of the place of fellowship (alter, vestibule, alter, sanctuary etc).
"Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things" [Philippians 3:17-19]
Once again our emphasis must be the spiritual over and above the temporal.
6) Special "holy days" have been created. (Lent, Easter, Christmas etc).
"That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit" [John 3:6]
"As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly" [1 Corinthians 15:48]
More man centered theology that doesn't profit.
7) Men establish an authorative hierarchy to rule and judge the people. (complete with the religious garb many still wear) See: Poes, Cardinals, Bishops, Priests and Pastors etc).
"I wrote something to the ekklesia; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say." [3 John 1:9] Note that even the apostle John didn't say, "what I say," but rather, "what we say."
"They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in synagogues, (the church), and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi (Pastor or Father) by men' [Matthew 23:6, 7]
A grave evil that robs Jesus of His headship and authority.
8 ) Men stand "before" and "in front" of the people. They are a special class of "priests' that are set apart for God. (Today's elders and deacons- clergy).
"And coming to Him as a living stone which has been rejected by (religious) men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, you also as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" [1 Peter 2:4, 5]
"But God has so composed the body, giving more abundant honor to that member which lacked, so that there may be no divisions in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another" [1 Corinthians 12:24, 25]
Our practices far too often create these special saints.
9) Demand a spiritual leader just like Israel did- wrongly.
Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah; and they said to him, "Behold, you have grown old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like the nations."
The Lord said to Samuel, "Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them" [1 Samuel 8:4-7]
Is God any less displeased with our incessant cries of "My Pastor" or "My Priest?" Why would we say such a thing? Have we ever even considered why?
10) Still enforcing a "tithe" that is supposedly due the leaders. Leaders expect to be compensated these days, just as was mandatory for the priests of Israel.
"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap" [Galatians 6:7]
"Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" [2 Corinthians 9:6, 7]
Mandated giving is sin, synonomous with man centered ministry.
11) Living by the law as a rule of life.
"For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also" [Hebrews 7:12]
"The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law….." [1 Corinthians 15:56]
Living by the law will destroy any Christian's hope of living to the glory of God. We walk not by law, but by life- the very Life of Christ Jesus Himself.
As can be readily observed, none of the practices above have any place within the Ekklesia of God or in the life of a believer, and in fact they hinder the work of God whenever any of them are given an open door.
Enemy #2 The traditions of Men
1) A religious hierarchy among God's people. I mention this first as in history this seems to have preceeded the other traditions. This shouldn't come as a suprise- when men assume themselves to have a special authority all manner of abuse follows. This appears to be even all the more true when the abusers link their particular calling as being from God. Like many others in the past, even those claiming an allegiance to God in our day are found to be the most abusive to their fellow human beings. This is due to an authority they have convinced themselves they have over others.
"An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: The prophets prophecy falsely, and the priests rule on their own authority; and My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it? [Jeremiah 5:30, 31]
"You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whomever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life a ransom for many." [Matthew 20: 25-28]
Anyone, including today's pastors and priests who think they have been given God's authority over other believers are seriously deluded and misrepreseting what God actually says. This belief, that some appointed special saints have authority over others is a tradition of men, in fact, it is THE tradition of men! This belief in practice nullifies in the least these commands and scriptural traditions:
a) The interactive casual fellowship that charactrized New Testament Christian gatherings (when you assemble, each one has) [1 Corinthians 14:26] in complete contrast to a preplanned worship service where one individual is central.
b) The immediate possibility of being interrupted by another with a prophesy, and having one's words judged on the spot. [1 Corinthians 14:29-33] in complete contrast to the uninterrupted and unjudged words of some so-called leader teaching from the front.
If the two verses above are indicastive of a typical New testament gathering, then several other things become immediately apparant as well;
The groups were limited in size. In order for the other members to interact in this fashion the group would have to remain small. Seeing that the majority of New Testament gatherings were held in homes, this becomes obvious. Furthermore, the home fellowship would make for a casual relaxed setting where the participants very likely faced each other. This setting would also allow for instant communication and judging others' words of prophecy, more so if no one stood "before the people" or "up front" which obviously contributes to an individuals prominence among equal brethren. One or more of the highlighted items above could also be considered "apostolic tradition" which is equivalent to the Lord's commandment. [1 Corinthians 14:37]
c) Ekklesia decisions are made by consensus wherein the entire local body participates. Only the entire local ekklesia can excommunicate an unrepentant sinner [Matthew 18:15-20] The entire local ekklesia brought two men forward as candidates to replace Judas [[Acts 1:23] The entire local ekklesia decided who would take care of the widows [Acts 6:1-6] Where the apostles appointed elders in every ekklesia, they merely recognized who the local saints confirmed as being their elders- they did not appoint elders outside of the local saints recognition [Acts 14:23]
Elders can and do guide in the decision making process. Their wisdom and maturity are no doubt an asset in such situations. Nonetheless, the normal decision making process of a typical hierarchal organization is not in view here. The elders do not make decisions for the local ekklesia or without their consent. Such decision making is following the example of this worlds business and institutional mindset. It is the exact opposite manner of decision making that Jesus commands for His children and is therefore also a tradition of men.
d) Building structures and referring to them with religious terms. It is quite obvious to anyone who has ever studied history where the saints met for regular fellowship. They met in each others homes. Despite the attempt by many to leave that 300+ year tradition in the past, lately their has been a resurgence and for good reason. On the contrary, not a single legitimate reason can be given for the building of religious edifices. There are though, more than a few reasons to abandon the practice:
- It was never encouraged by Jesus, nor was it the practice of the original apostles or any of the subsequent saints for 300+ years after Jesus was born. You may want to read this again.
- Almost every false religion of the New Testament era built temples to their false gods. Needless to say, so do the false religions of our day.
- Recognizing Jesus' new and better way in the covenant of His blood, many "old" practices were abandoned; i.e. building synogogues.
- Buildings were and are an unnecessary waste of God's resources.
- Buildings with religious titles "appear" to be devoted to one's god, thereby giving a false impression that our god dwells there.
- The titles and names of our "churches" and "organizations" are misleading to those without God. We say "we're the church," and yet promote our building as the church through advertising. That's called hypocrisy.
- A separate building outside of a home necessitates "meetings" in that building for often the building is empty. This is almost never true in and through a home where the emphasis remains upon relationships.
- The size of most buildings destroys the intimacy of fellowship. It creates an altogether different environment than a home does. They destroy interaction, the multiple use of gifts, service and the way in which we celebrate the Lord's Supper.
- Buildings lead to the likelihood of elders taking more and more liberties which would be more difficult in someone's home in daily fellowship.
- Guaranteed leaven due to most open door policies and invitations.
- Invariably buildings lead back to Old Covenant practices superceded in Christ. such as religious hierarchy, religious positions, spiritual titles, professional ministers who stand before the people, preplanned services and the reinstatement of tithing.
e) Promoting Church in any fashion obscures the definition and practice of Ekklesia. More than any other reason, this one trumps the rest, for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Did you get that?
Every Christian has been called to be an ambassador of Jesus Christ. An ambassador doesn't have the right nor option of representing anything they desire- they are required to represent accurately that nation from which they originate and reside. As those whose home is in heaven, whose citizenship is literally outside of this world, are we accurately portraying the image and intent of the Lord of our nation? Can we honestly say that our resources are spiritual, our family is spiritual and our home in eternity? The proof is not in what we say- it's entirely in what we choose to do.
Take some time to scroll down through the above sections in Green (#2's above). For if you are truly a child of God then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted togethet, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. [Ephesians 2: 19-22]
Those who promote the entirely unscriptural position of church and all that it encompasses have a lot to lose by telling you the truth. That's why Jesus says to you and to them today:
" For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world (or what religious institutions might profit him) and loses and forfeits himself?
"For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the holy angels"
Which words might Jesus be referring to?
Hint: minister (diakonos), shepherd (poimen), authority (exousia), church (ekklesia)
So be it, come Lord Jesus