SeekersTrove.com—Treasure Beyond Measure

The Modern Church

It is my hope, my brothers and sisters, that you receive this paper in the spirit that it was intended, and that you consider the importance of the message and order your life accordingly.

Over the past few years I have been trying to understand why the messages that the Lord has given me are not received in the local congregations that I have attended. During the last five or six years I have attended some nine churches. Each had a different, but similar, doctrine. They all preached Jesus Christ crucified. They all preached the need to be born-again, to be obedient to the Lord, and the need to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. They all preached that Jesus Christ is divine. Ninety-five percent of what was preached I too believe, but in each and every church, when I stood in disagreement with the leadership of the church, on whatever point that it might have been, I was then shunned and feared.

What upset everyone so much was not that I disagreed with them, but that my arguments were undeniably sound. I would show, beyond any doubt, that their arguments were faulty, and they would react out of fear and call me names like "Bible Twister." Afterward I was never again accepted as a true member of the Church--fear of me would stand in the way, fear that I was a preacher of false doctrine. This was a mystery to me, because the points at issue were not things that are particularly controversial.

Why would they not examine the Scriptures to see if they do in fact say what I was saying they say, and then change their beliefs, so that they are in agreement with the Scriptures. I mean, why not! We do all want to believe the truth, don't we? You my reader want to be in agreement with the Lord on all points, don't you? If what you have been taught is different than what the Lord says, wouldn't you like to know?

Well, I can tell you that most people do not want to be told that they have something wrong. Those that want correction least are the elders and deacons and "professional" ministers. Those "official" people become the most frightened and react the most violently. It is those that know the accepted doctrine of the denomination best that refuse to look at the Bible and change their beliefs. The fact that they have gone off somewhere and learned the "truth" and therefore anything that is different is therefore wrong, is not what the Lord intended. The Lord wants us to love the truth. To look for it. To receive it when it is presented. My brothers and sisters, a wise person listens and then looks intently at the Scriptures to see if the words are true. We must consider very carefully to see if what we have been taught might not be what the Lord says is true.

I don't want you to get the wrong idea about me. I am a very shy person, and I hate confrontation, but I love the Lord, who is the Truth, more than I fear people. I will stand up and speak what is right, even if everyone present will hate me thereafter. I fear the Lord more than I fear people. I love the Truth. I don't care what everyone else thinks about anything, I want to know what the Bible, and therefore the Lord, thinks about a matter. I never want any attention directed toward me. I quietly enter church and sit by myself. I am usually one of the first to leave. What I am trying to tell you, my reader, is that people at church have no real reason to hate me. I am a quiet and very likable person, but they hate and fear me when I disagree with what they believe, with arguments that they cannot answer. If I were an opinionated loud mouth that didn't really understand the things that I was talking about I would be disliked but not feared. I am feared because my words shake their accepted truth.

I will tell you something else that was a great mystery to me. I came to the Lord through watching a video presentation of the gospel message in 1977 called "Jesus of Nazareth." After watching that presentation I knew that Jesus Christ was sent from God and that through him I could know God. Prior to that presentation I didn't even believe that there was a God, but now I knew. I went out and purchased a Bible and began to read. I read and everything that I saw in the Bible I put into practice. I was excited about God!

At work I worked hand in hand with an older man. We worked the swing shift, and all evening every night I told him all the exciting things that I had learned about God while reading in the morning. It was just about all that I talked about. When I started talking to him about the Lord he was pretty much an unhappy man that had problems with his marriage of more than thirty years. During the course of two years, or so, he and his wife became transformed by the power of God. They renewed their marriage vows and had peace with God. Later, my coworker confessed to me that many times he had wished that I would just shut up about the Bible and all, but that he had been raised in a Christian home, and so he was afraid to tell me to be quiet. He then told me how grateful he was, and I was filled with joy.

Now I have told you this story so that you may have some insight into what kind of person I am, so that you might understand my confusion when I came in contact with church going people. I had been reading my Bible faithfully, and doing whatever the Lord revealed to me for a couple of years before I met any church going people. When I went to church, I was surprised that no one really wanted to talk about God. Nor was there anyone that could answer any of my questions, and I had a million of those back then. I'll tell you this, I was greatly confused.

More than twenty years have now passed and the Lord has recently shown me what the problem is. The problem, and its solution, is the subject of the remainder of this paper. Now I know that when I state what the problem is a lot of people aren't going to like it, or me--oh well.

Just one more thing before we begin; it is for your benefit that I am writing this. I mean, if there is a problem don't you want to know what it is, so that you can make sure that it doesn't catch you too?

The problem is that at church they teach you doctrine and not how to develop a living relationship with the Lord. Learning doctrine is like learning a bunch of Jeopardy facts. I don't care if you know everything there is to know about the Bible, if you don't have a living and true relationship with the Lord, you aren't a Christian. A living relationship with the Lord is much like a living relationship with a spouse. A living relationship with a person starts out with a very limited knowledge of the other person, and then over time, because of continued fellowship, you begin to really know the other person.

Imagine if you will that you married a mail-order-bride and never met or corresponded with your bride personally. So you are then legally married but know nothing of your spouse. Now consider that something happened and your spouse had to remain where she was for another year, but for whatever reason her sister could come. So you meet her sister and she comes to stay at your house. She tells you everything she knows about her sister. Now, after a year how much closer to your bride do you think that you would be? Do you really think that you would grow in your intimate knowledge of her? Do you think that you would come to know the little things that make her smile? You would know things about your spouse, but not really what your spouse is like. This is exactly the sort of condition that exists in the modern church today.

Most churches teach things about the Bible, but you must walk with the Lord through the pages of the Bible, looking intently at everything, asking question after question. As your questions are answered you start understanding the whys and wherefores of the Lord. The Bible tells us that we must Love the Lord. To love him we must intimately know him. I can't love a bunch of Jeopardy facts. We must love the Lord with passion! Love for him makes him All Important. My friend, if you don't really care about the truth, then you don't really care about the Lord. If I present you with something about the Lord and you run off in terror, without having looked at it carefully, then you have demonstrated the level of your love for the Lord. If you truly love the Lord then you will want to know all the little things that please him. God is not some abstract power that works mysteriously behind the scenes. He is a person.

Something that you should understand is that the understanding of the Bible cannot really be taught. Doctrine can be taught. That is what Bible colleges do, they teach doctrine. I cannot teach you the truth about God. I can show you things, and you can carefully examine them and then the Lord can turn on the understanding of them in your heart. Please try to understand what I am saying.

Let me give you an example. The doctrine of Baptism: Most everyone that goes to church has been taught some doctrine concerning baptism. Some are told that we must be baptized, because the Bible says that we must. Some are taught that baptism is the immersion of the body under a body of water. Some teach that at the moment of baptism we become Christians. Some people teach that we become Christians when we publicly declare that Jesus is Lord, and that we are later water baptized in obedience to the Scriptures. Some teach that baptism is being formally sprinkled with water by an ordained priest. All these cannot be true. There is only one right answer to every question, and that is the answer that the Lord would give if you asked him. These "facts" are what I call doctrine.

I was once asked by a minister of a church that I was attending, "When is the exact moment that a person becomes a Christian." He asked me to think on that and see what I could come up with. I was intrigued because this was a very good question. Well on the way home from the Bible study, while I was driving, I was suddenly filled with excitement. The Lord had quickened in my heart the essence of the answer. I then formally prepared the paper "One Spirit with God," which can be found at my Internet site. Anyway, the answer came to me not because I know my doctrine, but because I have asked a million questions of the Lord concerning what baptism is and such, and I have a relationship with the Lord. I have the raw materials within me that the Lord can use to show me how things are. In other words, I understand the things that I understand in the Bible, because the Lord has shown me the truth about them. I did not learn them as a bunch of facts. I simply read, and reread, and reread, the Bible, always looking for the truth, always trying to understand what is meant, and over the years the Lord has revealed to me the meaning of what I have been reading. I have learned what I have learned, not because I am smart or anything like that, but because I have been hanging out with the Lord and his likeness has rubbed off on me. I do not know the Lord like a bunch of facts, I know the Lord like a person.

John 14:25-26

All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. (NIV84)

 

1 John 2:26-27

I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray. 27 As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit-just as it has taught you, remain in him. (NIV84)

Learning doctrine is of almost no value whatsoever. When I first became a believer I knew almost nothing about the Bible. I knew that the story of Jesus of Nazareth was in the four books called the gospels. That was about it. But after watching that video presentation I was a believer in Jesus Christ. I had a relationship with the Lord God Almighty. I am no more saved today than I was then, though I now understand things much better. Now my point is this, if what you know of God is only doctrine then you know almost nothing. God wants you to become like him. To be his child in truth. Most people in what is called the church today know almost nothing about God.

At one church that I had attended there was a young married man who was quite devout in his Christianity. It was recommended by the Pastor that he quit his secular job and go back East somewhere to a Bible college and become a minister. He heartily agreed and off he went. Is this what the Lord wants? Does he really want people to go off and have other people tell him what the Bible means? Would it not make more sense if he spent the, however-many-years-that-Bible-college-takes, reading the Scriptures, and walking in obedience to what the Lord has shown him, coming to know the Lord personally. And during this time he could serve as the Pastor's assistant, learning the skills first hand.

Jesus has been taken out of the equation here. A person decides to become a minister and so he goes off to a Bible college, and because he can give the desired answers to the questions, they ordain that person and he is officially recognized as a minister. Where is the Lord in that?

I have been asked many times by Christian ministers, and lay people, why I don't go to Bible college and become a minister. I tell them that I am a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have been called by the Lord himself and I have been enabled by his power to proclaim the truth. The truth of this fact can be seen in my life, and in the words that I speak. If people do not accept my authority, well what is that to me? neither did most people accept the Lord's authority.

I don't know if you realize it, but things today are pretty much exactly like they were when the Lord first came. He was confronted by the officially trained and accepted ministers of God's Word; people that knew their doctrine, (or thought they did), but knew nothing of the Lord. Those people opposed the truth just like the leaders of the various churches do today.

Now I have expressed what you may think are my opinions concerning the modern church, but is this what the Bible prophecies say concerning our time? Let us look and see.

In the book of Revelation there are seven letters to the church; found in chapters two and three. These letters are written to what appears to be seven literal churches that were established at the time that the revelation was given to John. Upon careful examination of the letters we can see that they are more than they first appear to be.

Now what I am now going to be saying is not doctrine, so you will need to put on spiritual ears and eyes. You will have to look and pray in order to see what I am saying. Anyone can learn the "Jeopardy" answers of doctrine, but only those that seek the Lord in truth are given ears to hear spiritual truth.

If the letters are letters written to the seven historical churches of the time of John, then why does the Lord say this to the church in Sardis? Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. Revelation 3:3 (NIV84) If this were a warning to a historical church only, then how is it that the Spirit is warning them concerning his Second Coming? I mean, he knew that those of that historical church would be dead long before his Second Coming. The Lord is speaking to people that will be alive at the time of his Coming. The Lord is speaking to people that are alive today.

To the Philadelphian church Jesus said: Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world to test those who live on the earth. Revelation 3:10 (NIV84) This is a promise to the faithful in the body of Christ that the Lord will keep us from the time of destruction that has been decreed by God to come upon the whole earth. This is the period of time that Jesus was referring to in Matthew 25:15-30. So, the question is again, how could this promise be made to a literal church who's members will have been long since dead at the time that the promise would be meaningful? It is because these letters are more than they appear. They are a prophetic image of the seven stages that the church will pass through before the end of the church age.

Now, as I said, this is not doctrine that I am professing. You need your ears on as each of the seven letters say.

Revelation 2:7

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God. (NIV84)

Also see Revelation 2:11, 17, 29, Revelation 3:6, 13, and 22.

As a last piece of evidence that these letters are prophetic in nature I would like you to read this next passage.

Revelation 4:1

After this I looked, and there before me was a door standing open in heaven. And the voice I had first heard speaking to me like a trumpet said, "Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this. (NIV84)

After the seventh letter we see this statement. Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this, after what? After the church age. After the letters are completed; then we enter the time of Daniel's seventieth week, the time of the fulfillment of Revelation chapter four through Revelation chapter nineteen.

It is vitally important that we understand the prophetic nature of the seven letters, because the seventh letter is a dire warning concerning what is accepted as the church at the time of the end of the age.

The first letter was a letter to the church at the time that the prophecy was given.

The second letter was speaking mainly to the people that lived during the time that the church was so aggressively persecuted.

Then was the time when the church started letting false doctrines in.

The church at Thyatira was, and is, directed to what we would think of as the Catholic church today.

The letter to the church in Sardis, the dead church, was directed to what called itself the church in the years before the Protestant Reformation, the church of the Inquisition.

The Philadelphian letter is the Protestant Reformation era, and the last letter, the letter to the church at Laodicea is directed to the church of our time.

I would like to point out that elements of all but the church of Ephesus exist today. These letters talk to what was the accepted norm for the church at the time of its fulfillment. What this is saying is that the major "church" of our day exists, but along with the major church of our time, we still see the Catholic church and the Eastern Orthodox church and various others as well.

Revelation 3:14-22

To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. 15 I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm -- neither hot nor cold -- I am about to spit you out of my mouth. 17 You say, "I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. 20 Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.

21 To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." (NIV84)

Now remember, this is not my opinion, nor is it a warning from me. This is a warning from Jesus Christ to the people of this day. We must examine the warning very carefully, so that we are not found to be guilty and rejected at the Coming of the Lord.

What this letter is telling us is that what is called the church today has major problems, and is in eminent danger of being lost. So long as the church is inside the mouth of the Lord it is still a part of the body, but those lukewarm professors of Christ are warned that if they do not repent then they will be spit out and therefore lost, that is, rejected.

Now my friend, I am pleading with you, read carefully the passage above and tell me that it does not say this. It does say this, and it is very clear on the matter. Those people who teach that once you come to the Lord that you cannot be cast out are wrong. I am speaking of the "Once saved always saved" teaching. This teaching is a lie. Proponents of this false doctrine will point out certain passages that seem to say that it is true, but the truth is that which agrees with all of the Bible.

Those that are leaders of the various churches today have their doctrine all figured out. They are not interested in what the Bible actually says. They are taught in their Bible colleges and seminaries, what is what, and will not listen to the Spirit. This is the meaning of the passage above that says: You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.' (NIV84) I am one that the Lord has prepared and sent to correct matters of doctrine. I am the first to admit that I am a nobody, but if what I am saying is from the Spirit, then it is not me that they reject, but the Lord. I have talked and talked to church leaders on various topics and I have never once lead a church leader to change their mind on anything. They just sit there and think, "Who are you that I should listen to you?" It is not me that I am asking them to believe. When I present Bible passages that conflict with their beliefs, and they won't listen, it is the Lord that they refuse to listen to; I am just a messenger.

Things don't have to be like this for you, my reader. When the Lord spits out the rebellious leaders and their followers, you don't have to be among them. If you are guilty of allowing others to teach you doctrine you can repent and seek the Lord in earnest.

I ask you to read the above passage, Revelation 3:14-22, carefully and prayerfully, until you understand what I am saying. Don't rely on some teaching or another that says that the above passage is speaking to someone else.

2 Timothy 3:1-9

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God -- 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth -- men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone. (NIV84)

This is another passage that is speaking of our time, (the last days.) Another thing about this passage is that it is talking about people that go to church, not the world. I hear people at church quote this passage and say, "Oh yes, the people out there are so wicked." But consider this, the people "out there" do not have the form of godliness. This is talking about how the wicked rebels who claim to be in Christ, make church look like the church in the book of Acts, but they deny the power of the Holy Spirit to actually do anything.

Whenever I have told people at church that the Lord has revealed something or another to me, or that he told me to do this or that, they look at me like I am a poor deceived man. They don't expect that God is going to do anything.

I was informed one day at church that God doesn't do miracles anymore. Then I was told that the time of apostles and prophets is over. Well, I pointed out that that is not what the Bible teaches.

Ephesians 4:11-13

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 12 to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (NIV84)

These five ministry callings have been established by God until we all reach unity in the faith, and in the knowledge of the Son of God, and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Well, we have not reached this unity yet. The church has not attained the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. So, the calling is still there.

I also pointed out that there are the two witnesses in Revelation chapter eleven, and that they are called prophets, and that they are in our future, so the day of prophets cannot have passed.

When I asked for Scriptures that state that the day of apostles and prophets have passed they quoted a passage that speaks of the transformation that will occur when we are caught up to be with the Lord forever. This can be found at 1 Corinthians 13:8-12.

I think it convenient that the "church of the holy bible college" removes the two ministry gifts that would keep them in line with the Holy Spirit.

I don't know if you are aware, but the primary purpose of the apostle and prophet, in the New Testament age, is not to bring forth new revelation, but to explain the meaning of the old. I read through the whole New Testament one time looking for how many times the writers quoted Jesus directly. I was pretty surprised to see that I could only find one time that he was quoted. I also found it interesting that on every point of New Testament doctrine, that it was supported by quotes from the Old Testament--every point!

Acts 17:11

Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (NIV84)

What Scriptures do you think that Paul was explaining to the Bereans? The Old Testament Scriptures certainly, for then there were no New Testament Scriptures from which to explain.

2 Timothy 4:3-5

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry. (NIV84)

This is a continuation of the theme started in 2 Timothy 3:1 above concerning the last days of the church age. This passage really describes the situation today. People have developed this no-pain Gospel. This--look it's free, just take it, you can't earn it, all my sins are covered by the blood of the Lamb and God therefore doesn't see my sins, once saved always saved--Gospel.

They may be all in agreement that this is the true Gospel, but that does not for that reason make it so. Jesus is soon going to spit the whole bunch out. But, as Paul is saying to Timothy, "But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry."

The people that understand holiness and righteousness are not fooled by all this. They understand that it is the "Holy" Spirit that we receive. They know that...

Leviticus 11:44

I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy. Do not make yourselves unclean by any creature that moves about on the ground. (NIV84)

 

Leviticus 19:1-2

The LORD said to Moses, 2 "Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: "Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy. (NIV84)

 

1 Thessalonians 4:7-8

For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit. (NIV84)

Now I imagine that the response to this article will fall along the lines of one of these three reactions. First there will be those that understand what it is that I am saying and they will rejoice at my words. Second there will be those that understand and become alarmed. This group will repent and find favor with God in Jesus Christ. The last group, the largest, will be angry with me and call me a false prophet or a heretic or some such; Bible twister is my favorite.

I wrote this because I am a preacher of the Good News. I want all people to come to repentance and have life. I see that there is great danger in following the teaching of the modern church. I am offering this warning because I want to help. I want no one to be fooled into a false sense of security and be lost. Please understand this.

Understand that a relationship with the Lord is a matter of faith and of love. To love the Lord is to love his Word, for the Lord and his Word are inseparable. Understand also that the kingdom of God is not free. It is costly, and as the Bible says, no payment is ever enough. Jesus Christ paid the ultimate price for our salvation, and we must also pay the ultimate price, and that is, we must give every thing that we have.

Matthew 13:44-46

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. 45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. 46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it. (NIV84)

Some people have misunderstood me and the Scriptures regarding my statements concerning   having other people teach you. We saw earlier in 1 John that he said that "You do not need anyone to teach you." This does not mean that you do not need a teacher. This is a subtle thing, so please open your ears. There are teachers in the Church age.

What is meant is that you are not to believe something because someone has told you that it is true. You listen to what is spoken and then you listen to the Spirit within you for confirmation and understanding. You must SEE the truth in the Scripture. This sight must come from God.

The true teacher simply points out what you have wrong and the Scriptural reasons that you are wrong. You must look at the Scripture and see if what is pointed out is what the person says it is. The teacher may also open new doors of understanding for you, but again you must look at the Scriptures and seek understanding from the Spirit.

The truth, the real truth, is that which agrees with the whole Bible. There is only one correct answer to every understanding. When we are confronted with passages that are not in agreement with our current understanding of the truth, then we must revise our understanding, so that we are in harmony with the whole truth. This sounds simple, but almost no one does it.

We come to the knowledge of the truth because we seek it in faith. We have a personal relationship with the Lord. We read the Scriptures asking the Lord to reveal the meaning of them to us. We want to know the truth so that we can order our lives accordingly. We want to be pleasing to the Lord.

 

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