thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these
things from the wise
Part III, The Perfect Misfit
By Edgar Jones
The prior parts of this series establish that the church in the New Testament epistles, Acts and Revelations has no place in the Logos, which consists of the utterances of the Lord. Ekklesia is the NT Greek word , which translators almost universally render "church." Two separate utterances of the Lord contain this word, and the translators rendering the text in English as church do so under the influence of Paul and his disciples. Examination of the text in the preceding parts of this series has shown that the Lord did not mean what men understand when they hear the word. He never, in the canonical gospels, mentioned an institution corresponding to the Christian Church, whether locally, nationally, or worldwide. Our Lord is a builder, but he is not building a church!
There remains what will surely be the contention of many Christians when confronted with this. They will remind us that the Lord went to the Father and sent the Holy Spirit to teach and explain the Logos. I agree. Then they will explain that Paul and the early disciples received instructions to establish the Christian Church through this later revelation of the Holy Spirit, which accounts for the appearance of the Church in Acts, Revelations, the epistles, and its presence in the world today. I disagree!
Why do I disagree?
The church, as the world now has it, should be wholly in accord with the Builder's specifications. The Lord is a builder, and as a builder he does not fail to state the specifications for the materials of construction and for the finished building. If the Christian Church were his building, it would meet the Builder's specifications. Below we will focus on some of his prime specifications for the assemblies of his disciples on earth and, by examining each one, show clearly and simply that the Christian Church is the perfect misfit.
If it were true that the later teaching of the Holy Spirit informed the early disciples and inspired them to begin the Christian Church, the Lord clearly shows, by these words, that what they received would be from him, and would therefore be perfectly consistent with all that he had already taught them.
Jn.16:13 But when that [one] comes, the spirit of truth, he will guide you into all truth, for he will not speak from himself, but as much as he hears will he speak, and the coming [things] will he disclose to you. 14 That [one] will glorify me, because he will receive from me and will disclose to you. 15 All as much as the father has is mine. Because of this I said that he receives from me and he discloses to you.
So, did the Lord send the Holy Spirit to disclose to the disciples things received from himself?
Then, if the Holy Spirit disclosed to the early disciples the instruction to establish the Christian Church, it must be wholly consistent with the relevant specifications for their assemblies on earth that they had already received from the Lord and that they have passed on to us in the gospels. Otherwise his Word, direct to the disciples, would have been superseded by the later revelation and so would have passed away, contrary to his assertion that his Word would never pass away.
Does the Christian Church (or churches) conform to the Logos? Does it conform to the specifications of the Builder?
Let us see.
The Christian Churches in the Light of the Logos
1. The numbers tell.
The church is one of the largest single categories of humans in the world, as it has been for many centuries. Here are some relevant figures -- the total number of the largest religious/non religions categories on earth.
Keeping these numbers in mind, let us turn now to the Logos:
Mt.20:16 For many are called but few are chosen.
Mt.7:13 Enter in through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the road leading to destruction, and many are those entering through it. 14 And confined is the way leading to zoe-life, and few are those finding it.
Lk.13:23 But someone said to him: Lord, [are] few being saved? But he said to him: 24 Be striving to enter through the narrow door, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be strong enough. 25 When the master of the house arise and close the door, and you begin outside to stand and to be knocking on the door saying: Lord, open to us, and answering he will say to you: I do not know from whence you are. 26 Then you will begin to be saying: We ate before you and drank, and in our streets you taught. 27 And he will say to them: I do not know whence you are. Depart from me all [who] do injustice. 28 There will there be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you cast out.
Mt.18:20 For when two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in their midst.
Give careful attention to the many, also to the few, in the above utterances of the Lord and ask yourself, in the light of the numbers, "Just who are the many?". It is of interest to give special attention to Mt.18:20 and recognize that "two or three" are the largest numbers the Lord has applied to a gathering of his disciples on the earth.
He does not fail to give a reason for the disparity in numbers: Entering the narrow door requires a striving (Lk.13:24). But the churches make it one of the easiest thing on earth. Most Christians were born Christians, baptized as infants and never knew a time when they were not of the church, and therefore were Christians without any effort whatever! Well, at some point they needed to be confirmed, but the church generally sees to it that this occurs. Evangelical Churches require only a "decision for Christ" and baptism -- then, Presto! You are in!
There are 2.1 billion of these Christians! This includes only those now living in the flesh!
Yes, the numbers tell.
2. The disobedience tells.
One cannot go far in the Gospels without learning that obedience to the Lord is absolutely essential to becoming a disciple, and to obtaining eternal salvation. I have these utterances in mind:
Mt.7:24 Therefore everyone who hears these my words and does them, he will be like a shrewd man, who built his house upon the rock. 25 And the rain came down and the rivers came and the winds blew and they fell against that house, and it did not fall, for it had been built on the rock. 26 And everyone hearing these my words and not doing them is like [a] stupid man, who built his house on sand. 27 And the rain came down and the rivers came and the winds blew and fell against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.
Lk.6:46 Why do you call me 'lord lord', and not do what I say?
47 Everyone coming to me and hearing my words and doing, I will show you what he is like. 48 He is like [a] man building [a] house, who dug and deepened and placed [the] foundation upon the rock. But when flood came to pass, the river dashed against that house, and it was unable to shake it because it was well built. 49 But the [one] having heard and not having done is like [a] man building [a] house upon the ground without [a] foundation, against which the river dashed, and it was straightway shaken, and great was the fall of that house.
Jn.14:15 If you agape-love me, you will keep my commandments.
Matthew 7:24f and Luke 6:46f quoted above are the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount / Plain. This sermon contains some simple and easy to understand commandments, such as:
Lk.6:27 But I say to those who hear: Be agape-loving your enemies, be doing good to those hating you.
Mt.5:33 Again you have heard that it was said to the ancients: You shall not swear falsely, but you will perform your oaths to the Lord. 34 But I say to you do not swear at all, neither by heaven, for it is God's throne, 35 nor by earth, for it is his footstool, nor by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great king, 36 neither by your own head, for you are not able to make one hair white or black. 37 Let your word yes [be] yes [and] no [be] no, and what is more than this is from the wicked [one].
Do not swear at all! Any courtroom will give the evidence of this one act of disobedience.
The disobedience tells!
3. The wars tell!
Shortly after World War II, while still attached to the US Navy, I began my search for a basis for living a non-violent life in a violent world. My experience gave me little hope of finding this in Christendom, but I had read the Sermon on the Mount many times and felt, intuitively, that Jesus of Nazareth could provide what I sought. My perceptions of Christendom and Christianity were not encouraging. I had heard of "peace churches" but I knew none. My church experience included Baptists, other fundamental denominations and Episcopalians.
During the war, in the US Navy, I knew servicemen of many stripes -- practically every denomination including Catholic. All of them were supported by their churches in their military service, as I was after I became a Baptist. At the University of the South, where the Navy sent me for my first training in 1944, I discovered an Episcopal institution fully allied with the US Navy in preparing young men for war. Later, as I began to seek evidence of non violent churches in the South, I found none. Everywhere I looked, I found churches supportive of the war effort, who blessed their youth on the way to do violence to others.
I heard, of course, of conscientious objectors that were attached to small communions, men that sought alternative service or refused the draft and were imprisoned. They were very few, and I never knew a single one. I learned that there were "historic peace churches" -- Mennonites, Quakers and The Church of the Brethren, which came out of the Anabaptist tradition. These had sometimes suffered persecution for their testimony to non violence and draft refusal. But in the full spectrum of Christian churches, their numbers were very small. Of the more than 2.1 billion Christians on the earth today, the total membership of these communions numbers less than 0.002 billion. Here are some figures on which I base this statement, as of 1998 or 1999, from the site, Adherents.com
Mennonites -- 1 million
Quakers -- 0.3 million
Church of the Brethren -- 0.15 million
Others -- Hutterites, Bruderhoff, Amish, etc. -- 0.1 million
There are other very small groups of non violent Christians in the world, some of which I know first hand; I think I am being extravagant in estimating their total numbers to be less then 0.4 million.
All of the peace church Christians are due praise for their non violent testimony, but strangely, though they are willing to suffer for their non violence, they do not listen to the Lord in other respects. I will explain below when we go to examine the world and the Christians. For this reason I have not sought fellowship with them, nor will I.
What I have found, in my total experience as a disciple of Jesus, is that all Christians love and want peace, and talk a good talk until their freedom, their families and their lives are threatened. Even pagans do the same! What do they more, or differently, than others?
During World War II, almost everyone in Christendom supported the war effort and prayed to the same God for victory. The Americans and their allies, the British and French, had been attacked and were threatened with powerful fascist dictatorships so that every one felt called to do his or her duty to defend the nation. They afterwards supported the Korean War as a means of stalling the spread of Communism that avowedly sought to destroy democratic freedom in the world. Most supported the Viet Nam War for the same reason, but in time came to see that there was no real threat to the nation. Many withdrew their support. We are now seeing a similar thing working itself out with respect to the War on Terrorism and the violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, which was begun by an evangelical "born again" Christian president. These violent witnesses have little in common with the non volent teaching of Jesus of Nazareth, who said,
Mt.5:38 You have heard that it was said: Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth. 39 But I say to you not to oppose wickedness, but whoever strikes the right [side] of your cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And to the [one] wanting to sue [you] and take your shirt, give up to him your coat also. 41 And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to whoever requests of you, and from the [one] wanting to borrow from you do not turn away. 43 You have heard that it was said: You shall agape-love your neighbor, and you shall hate your enemy. 44 But I say to you, be agape-loving your enemies and be praying for those persecuting you, 45 in order that you become sons of your father in [the] heavens. For he makes his sun [to] rise upon the wicked and the good, and sends rain upon the just and the unjust. 46 For if you agape-love those agape-loving you, what reward do you have? Don't the tax- collectors do likewise? 47 And if you only greet your brothers, what do you do more [than] [anyone] [else]? Don't the nations do likewise? 48 Therefore be complete as your heavenly father is complete.
The "historic peace churches" and others that preach and practice non violence generally fail utterly when their existence in the world is at risk. What do they do?
They do not take up arms, but they migrate to the protective shield of a militant nation, one that is not reluctant to use the sword to defend them and their freedom of religion! Compare this testimony to that of Jesus of Nazareth who, when his life was at risk and he was about to be crucified, responded to the one disciple that wielded the sword in his defense:
Mt.26:51 And behold one of those with Jesus stretching forth his hand drew out his sword and when struck the slave of the chief priest he cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus says to him: Put away your sword from this place, for all who take the sword are destroyed by the sword.
There are those that believe Jesus did not allow his disciples to defend him because his was a special case. We have only to point to this utterance spoken during his preparation for his crucifixion to expose their fallacy:
Mt.16:21 From then on Jesus began to explain to the disciples that he must depart into Jerusalem and suffer many [things] from the elders and chief priests and scribes and be killed and rise on the third day. 22 And Peter taking him aside began to be rebuking him saying: Mercy to you, Lord! This will not be for you! 23 But Jesus turning said to Peter: Withdraw behind me, Satan. You tempt me because you do not think on the [things] of God but of men. 24 Then Jesus said to his disciples: Whoever wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever wishes to save his psyche-life will lose it, and whoever loses his psyche-life because of me will find it.
The wars tell!
4. The pastors tell.
Almost every congregation in Christendom has its pastor. The Christian members fail to see the significance of this -- utterly fail to see it -- even though the Lord speaks to the issue loud and clear. The key to their blindness lies in their failing to understand just what, historically in Christendom, a pastor really is. Just what is the meaning of this word, pastor, and from whence comes it?
We will need to go to the New Testament Greek to understand it's significance in the Logos. But first, let's look at the English etymology and definition:
We see that pastor arises from the Latin, also pastor, where it's definition is that of herdsman. Where sheep are the herd, the herdsman is a shepherd.
Main Entry: pas·tor
Etymology: Middle English pastour, from Anglo-French, from Latin pastor herdsman, from pascere to fee
: a spiritual overseer; especially : a clergyman serving a local church or parish
The Greek New Testament for such a shepherd, and the term our Lord uses, is different from the Latin, but has exactly the same meaning -- it is poimen. Here is the relevant definition of the Greek:
It is this word that we hear from the lips of Jesus in this crisp, clear utterance:
ποιμήν, ένος, ὁ
① one who herds sheep, shepherd, sheep-herder Mt 9:36=Mk 6:34 (Num 27:17); Mt 25:32; Of the shepherds at Jesus’ birth Lk 2:8, 15, 18, 201
Jn.10:16 And I have other sheep that are not of this sheep-pen, and I must lead [these], and they will hear my voice, and they will become one flock, one shepherd (poimen, ποιμήν).
The Lord being the possessor of these sheep, he is the true shepherd, the one to whom belong the sheep. He says this about those that do not own the sheep:
11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd appoints his psyche-life in behalf of the sheep. 12 But the hired-hand also not being shepherd, of whom the sheep are not his own, he sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees - and the wolf seizes them and scatters [them] - 13 [he flees] because he is [a] hired-hand and the sheep are not [a] concern to him. 14 I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me,
He does not say, "I am one of the good shepherds." No, but there is only one Good Shepherd. It follows that all other shepherds are not authorized by him that is the one Good Shepherd of the One Flock. All other shepherds (pastors), so called, are not good shepherds! We note with particular emphasis his characterization of these as hired-hands. This can only refer to the huge bevy of wage earners that go by the title of pastor (shepherd) in the churches. I have, in a prior paper, conservatively estimated the number of these at 3,382,000, alive and functioning in the world today, with a similar number of flocks.
The Lord says, in words that stand for all eternity, and by which men will be judged,
. . . they will become one flock, one shepherd
The multitude of shepherds (pastors) tell! Yes, and also the multitude of flocks tell!
5. The hierarchy tells.
The Catholic hierarchy is briefly defined as follows, on the Catholic New Advent site:
The hierarchy, therefore, connotes the totality of powers established in the Church for the guiding of man to his eternal salvation, but divided into various orders or grades, in which the inferior are subject to and yield obedience to the higher ones.
At the top of this hierarchy stands the Pope; of this office we have this statement from Pope John Paul II:
Have no fear when people call me the "Vicar of Christ;" when they say to me "Holy Father," or "Your Holiness," or use titles similar to these, which seem even inimical to the Gospel. Christ himself declared, "Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called 'Master'; you have but one master, the Messiah" (Mt. 23:9-10). These expressions, nevertheless, have evolved out of a long tradition, becoming part of common usage.1
This is very interesting, as I had long wondered how Catholic prelates justified their disobedience and nonconformity to the Logos. Simple: "long tradition" and "common usage" trump the Lord.
Of the multitude of Christian denominations, the Baptist are among those that have made an attempt to avoid hierarchical administration. As a former Southern Baptist I once found their position very acceptable and in accord with the Logos. Such was my blindness to the Truth at that time! Here is their definitive statement of authority:
A New Testament church of the Lord Jesus Christ is an autonomous local congregation of baptized believers, associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel; observing the two ordinances of Christ, governed by His laws, exercising the gifts, rights, and privileges invested in them by His Word, and seeking to extend the gospel to the ends of the earth. Each congregation operates under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes. In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord. Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons. While both men and women are gifted for service in the church, the office of pastor is limited to men as qualified by Scripture.
They seem not to realize that this statement is built on a contradiction. The local congregation is called "autonomous," but then we read that each congregation is "under the Lordship of Christ through democratic processes." Now, here is our dictionaries definition of "autonomous":
And here is the definition of autonomy:
1 : of, relating to, or marked by autonomy
2 a : having the right or power of self-government b : undertaken or carried on without outside control : SELF-CONTAINED <an autonomous school system>
1 : the quality or state of being self-governing; especially : the right of self-government
2 : self-directing freedom and especially moral independence
3 : a self-governing state
And this is the definition of lord:
1 : one having power and authority over others: a : a ruler by hereditary right or preeminence to whom service and obedience are due.
Do you see the radical contradiction? How can a congregation be both autonomous, and under the authority of a lord? The statement attempts to circumvent this by the assertion,
In such a congregation each member is responsible and accountable to Christ as Lord.
And then they vote, and accept the will of the majority, (in this "demon-cratic process") as the will of the Lord.
The contradiction rests on the assumption that the Lord rules through the "demon-cratic process." But the Lord Jesus says, concerning his Lordship,
Lk.6:46 Why do you call me 'lord lord', and not do what I say?
So, do the Southern Baptist, "under the lordship of Christ," do what he says? We see this included within the statement above:
Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons.
But see above for the Lord's "what I say" concerning pastors, and the same applies to deacons as "officers" in the congregation, for the Lord has never authorized officers by any name. Here, to seal the contradiction, is the definition of officers:
How is there a place for officers in an organization that honors only the authority of Christ, claiming to be directly responsible to him alone? One contradiction follows on another in this statement, as it must inevitably do for those that do not honor the utterances of Jesus as their sole authority and respond accordingly.
1 a obsolete : AGENT b : one charged with police duties
2 : one who holds an office of trust, authority, or command <the officers of the bank> <chief executive officer>
The simple exposure of the Southern Baptist position is in these words of the Lord, already quoted above:
Yet the Baptists base their position on scripture, as included in the above statement:
Lk.6:46 Why do you call me 'lord lord', and not do what I say?
. . . Its scriptural officers are pastors and deacons.
They draw from the whole Bible as their authoritative source, where they get their pastors and deacons, and they will explain, if you ask them, that the "what I say" of the Lord Jesus includes the whole Bible. But is this true?
No, the Lord goes immediately from his what I say to explain what this includes:
Lk.6:46 Why do you call me 'lord lord', and not do what I say? 47 Everyone coming to me and hearing my words and doing, I will show you what he is like. 48 He is like [a] man building [a] house, who dug and deepened and placed [the] foundation upon the rock. But when flood came to pass, the river dashed against that house, and it was unable to shake it because it was well built. 49 But the [one] having heard and not having done is like [a] man building [a] house upon the ground without [a] foundation, against which the river dashed, and it was straightway shaken, and great was the fall of that house.
Do you think that this "hearing my words" includes all the scriptures? Here is the same utterance from Matthew:
Mt.7:24 Therefore everyone who hears these my words and does them, he will be like a shrewd man, who built his house upon the rock. 25 And the rain came down and the rivers came and the winds blew and they fell against that house, and it did not fall, for it had been built on the rock. 26 And everyone hearing these my words and not doing them is like [a] stupid man, who built his house on sand. 27 And the rain came down and the rivers came and the winds blew and fell against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. 28 And it came to pass [that] when Jesus finished these words, the crowd was shocked by his teaching. 29 For he was teaching them as [one] having authority, and not as their scribes.
Uttered at the conclusion of the Sermon on the Mount, these my words can only apply to the words he uttered during the Sermon.
Here is another Baptist statement that injects yet another link in their hierarchical chain of authority within the local church.
Be it further resolved, That the doctrine of the priesthood of the believer in no way contradicts the biblical understanding of the role, responsibility, and authority of the pastor which is seen in the command of the local church in Hebrews 13:17, "Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account;" and Be finally resolved, That we affirm the truth that elders, or pastors, are called of God to lead the local church (Acts 20:28).
The Baptists, as well as the Catholics, have their own hierarchy, other authorities placed between them and the Lord. These include every voice speaking from "the scriptures" exclusive of the voice of Jesus, and every pastor of a local church. The Catholics are, in principle, no different. They just have a longer chain of command than the Baptists.
The hierarchy tells!
6. The world tells.
Who can deny that the United States of America is a nation of the world? Or that any other national entity marked out on the earth is a nation of the world? Further, who can deny that to pledge a Pledge of Allegiance is to pledge all to the nation of the world? The evidence lies not in the definition of allegiance but in the consequences, which is that the nation expects and requires every citizen to risk all and, if called on by the nation to do so, to give all in defense of the nation.
The Oath of Allegiance required of one being naturalized so as to become a citizen of the United States reads as follows:
I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.
This oath defines the meaning of allegiance from the perspective of the nation, and further defines the obligations and duties of citizenship, whether by birth or naturalization. A citizen is one that, in the words of the Oath, does absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty.
Who can deny that the Lord, Jesus of Nazareth, is a foreign prince, a potentate, and his kingdom a sovereignty?
Please examine these ideas and questions in the light of the following Word of the Lord, and notice in particular the underlined words and phrases.
Jn.15:18 If the world hates you, you know that it has first hated me. 19 If you were of the world, the world was philia-loving its own. But because you [are] not of this world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.Who can deny that the churches of the world are truly of the world? Their members are citizens of a nation of the world and owe fidelity and allegiance to a nation that is of the world. When I was in a church, I directed and taught in Sunday Schools and Vacation Bible Schools under the two flags, Christian and American, and led the assemblies in reciting the pledges of allegiance -- this in and of a church. No more!
Jn.15:17 These [things] I command you, in order that you be agape-loving one another. 18 If the world hates you, you know that it has first hated me. 19 If you were of the world, the world was philia-loving its own. But because you [are] not of this world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.
Jn.17:6 I revealed your name to the men whom you gave to me out of the world. They were yours and you gave them to me, and they have given heed to your word. . . . 9 I ask concerning them, not concerning the world do I ask, but concerning whom you have given me, because they are yours, . . . 10 and all mine is yours and yours mine, and I have been glorified in them. 11 And no longer am I in the world, and they are in the world, and I come to you. Holy father, keep them in your name that you have given to me, in order that they be one [thing] just as we. . . 13 But now I come to you, and I speak these [things] in the world in order that they have my joy made full in them. 14 I have given them your word, and the world hated them, because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them of the world, but that you keep them from the wicked [one]. 16 They are not of the world just as I am not of the world. 17 Make them holy in the truth; your word is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I also sent them into the world. 19 And in their behalf do I make myself holy, in order that they also be made holy in [the] truth. 20 But not concerning these [ones] only do I ask, but also concerning those believing in me through their word, 21 in order that they all be one [thing], just as you, father, [are] in me and I in you, in order that they also be in us, in order that the world believe that you sent me. 22 And the glory that you have given to me I have given to them, in order that they be one [thing] just as we are one [thing], 23 I in them and you in me, in order that they be completed into one [thing], in order that the world know you sent me and [that] you agape-loved them just as you agape-loved me. . . 29 And you be not seeking what you shall eat and what you shall drink, and be not being anxious. 30 For all these do the nations of the world seek. But your father knows that you need these [things]. 31 Rather be seeking his kingdom, and all these [things] will be added.
Jn.18:36 Jesus answered: My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my officers would have fought in order that I not be delivered up to the Jews; but now my kingdom is not from here. 37 Pilate therefore said to him: So are you [a] king? Jesus answered: You say that I am king. I am born for this and am come into the world for this, in order that I witness to the truth. All those being from the truth hear my voice.
Mt.22:17 They said therefore to him: How does it seem to you, is it permissible to pay Caesar's poll tax or not? 18 But Jesus having known their perniciousness said to them: Why do you test me, [You] hypocrites? 19 Show me the coin of the poll-tax. So they brought him [a] denarius. 20 And he says to them: Whose is this image and superscription? 21 They say: Caesar's. Then he says to them: Render to Caesar the things [that] [are] Caesar's, and to God the things [that] [are] God's.
I do not mean to say that Christians in their churches are not of the World; they are very definitely of the World and their associations expose the fundamental nature of Christianity. I do not mean to say that the United States of America is not a Christian nation; indeed it is. This, above all other things, exposes the fundamental character of Christians, of Christianity and of the Christian nation: all are of the world.
The Lord leaves absolutely no doubt as to the status of his disciples in regard to all the nations of the world in the following Word:
Lk.12:29 And you be not seeking what you shall eat and what you shall drink, and be not being anxious. 30 For all these do the nations of the world seek. But your father knows that you need these [things].31 Rather be seeking his kingdom, and all these [things] will be added.
The "historic peace churches" appear to make an honest effort to remain apart from the world. Do not be deceived, however, for there is one element of their faith that betrays a continued attachment to the world. The example I give here is part of a statement from the Church of the Brethren.
Steadily, lovingly, even radically, Jesus went about saving the world — by serving its people. Because we believe his message, we seek to do the same.
Here is a Mennonite statement, another of the "three historic peace churches" that exposes the same attachment.
Yet the church itself is God's nation, encompassing people who have come from every tribe and nation. Indeed, its mission is to reconcile differing groups, creating one new humanity and providing a preview of that day when all the nations shall stream to the mountain of the Lord and be at peace.
The third of the historic peace churches is the Quakers, or "Society of Friends." They also expose their attachment to the world in numerous ways. Here is a typical Quaker statement:
In the last generation or so, many people, especially in professional and academic life, have come into the Society of Friends. They find in it a community within which they can express both their conservatism-their sense of affiliation with the past under a community going beyond the present-and their radicalism-their outrage and dissatisfaction with the world as it is. They search for a better world where war and injustice, poverty and extravagance, hatred and misery, will have been eliminated. This is the message of the Society of Friends today. It remains as relevant as it ever was, and there is still a call for those who are in spirit part of its community to enter full into its body.
Yes, even the radical peace fellowships show their attachment to the world by their seeming compulsion to change it, to make the world conform to their vision of the kingdom of God. They utterly fail to perceive that the world of humanity is a set entity that will never change, forever driven by the love of life. Every human being within it may choose to become not of it by conforming to the Great Principle of Jesus, which is to be not of the world, yet to be in the world.
It is of interest to note that the "Peace churches" and almost all radical Christian fellowships, as they may differ the one from the other, tend to gravitate between two poles -- radical withdrawal from the world into separated enclaves that seek to manifest the kingdom of God to the world as a group, and intimate attachment to the world, individually, with intent to influence and produce the changes that will conform to their vision of the kingdom of God on earth. We have this word from the Lord Jesus that should set us in the Light on this important matter if only we listen:
Jn.17:9 I ask concerning them, not concerning the world do I ask , but concerning whom you have given me, because they are yours, 10 and all mine is yours and yours mine, and I have been glorified in them. 11 And no longer am I in the world, and they are in the world, and I come to you. Holy father, keep them in your name that you have given to me, in order that they be one [thing] just as we.
The world tells!
7. The salvation tells.
Every church or other Christian religious association has its doctrine of salvation. The Protestants take their lead from Luther, that in turn took his lead from Paul and Catholic doctrines. Here is a Lutheran statement of the means of salvation.
A man owes his conversion and salvation, not to any lesser guilt or better conduct on his part, but solely to the grace of God.
Here are some Catholic statements:
Hence follows the perfection of the salvation wrought by Christ for mankind. On His part Christ offered to God a satisfaction for man's sin not only sufficient but superabundant (Romans 5:15-20); on God's part supposing, what is contained in the very idea of man's redemption through Christ, that agreed to accept the work of the Redeemer for the sins of man, He was bound by His promise and His justice to grant the remission of sin to the extent and in the manner intended by Christ. In this way our salvation has won back for us the essential prerogative of the state of original justice, i.e., sanctifying grace while it will restore the minor prerogatives of the Hence follows the perfection of the salvation wrought by Christ for mankind.
The Council of Trent describes the process of salvation from sin in the case of an adult with great minuteness (Sess. VI, v-vi). It begins with the grace of God which touches a sinner's heart, and calls him to repentance. This grace cannot be merited; it proceeds solely from the love and mercy of God. Man may receive or reject this inspiration of God, he may turn to God or remain in sin. Grace does not constrain man's free will. Thus assisted the sinner is disposed for salvation from sin; he believes in the revelation and promises of God, he fears God's justice, hopes in his mercy, trusts that God will be merciful to him for Christ's sake, begins to love God as the source of all justice, hates and detests his sins.
What has been said applies to the salvation of adults; children and those permanently deprived of their use of reason are saved by the Sacrament of Baptism.
All -- Lutheran and other protestants -- follow Catholics and Paul in making the grace of God the essence of salvation. The Lord Jesus, in the Logos, did not mention the grace of God, but he did specify the requirement for salvation. It is as follows:
Jn.3:16 For God thus agape-loved the world: so that he gave his uniquely-begotten son, so that everyone believing in him not perish but be having eternal zoe-life. 17 For God did not send his son into the world that he judge the world, but that the world be saved through him.
Due to the great abuse this utterance has received by churchmen, we must ask the Lord further what he means by the expression everyone believing in him not perish but be having eternal zoe-life?
We find the answer to this question when we go to this utterance:
Jn.5:24 Truly truly I say to you that the [one] hearing my word and believing the [one] having sent me has eternal zoe-life, and does not come into judgment, but is moved out of death into zoe-life.
Jn.12:49 Because I have not spoken from myself, but the [one] having sent me, 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal zoe-life. What therefore I speak, just as the father has spoken to me, thusly I speak.
The Father sent him, and the Father has given him the words he speaks. Hearing his Word and believing is therefore to believe the Father, and is to receive eternal life (zoe-life), or as the Lord stated in John 3:16,
everyone believing in him not perish but be having eternal zoe-life.
According to the Lord, which is according to the God the Father, hearing and believing his Word, the Logos, the Word of the Lord that is the Word of the Father, is to receive salvation to eternal life. Do not overlook the specification of John 12:49:
[the] father himself has given to me commandment what I should say and what I should speak.
He does not specify that one must believe the Bible, but that one must believe what he has spoken in the world. If you will return to the Lutheran and Catholic statements above 1, you will see that there is no mention of hearing and believing the Logos, the words of the Lord Jesus. So Christians -- churchmen in general -- interpret John 3:16,17 to mean that one must believe what others have said about Jesus, not what the Lord Jesus said! This perversion of the Logos must be the maximum tragedy of all of history and time. It is encapsulated in this statement by the evangelist, Billy Graham, pointing to what Paul has said about Christ as the means of salvation:
If you sincerely asked Christ to come into your life—even if you were too young to understand everything that it meant—then He heard your prayer and saved you from that moment on. The Bible's promise is clear: "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9).
The salvation tells.
8. The temples tell.
The first definition for a temple is 1 : a building for religious practice. The multitudes of church buildings in Christendom match this definition and so are, in a very real sense, temples. Communities are known by the church buildings that stands prominently exposed within them. I was born and reared in the Walnut Grove Community, in Gibson County, TN, and attended the Walnut Grove Baptist Church in the building of the same name.
To enter this building was to enter a sacred precinct. The pulpit was so sacred that I, as a child, was forbidden to enter it. I looked upon it in awe, as the sacred spot from which the minister delivered the sacred Word of God, and would not have dared to violate it with my presence. Having joined that church after becoming a disciple of Jesus, I was asked to give a testimony from that pulpit. I still recall how I, in awe of it, mounted to the spot where the minister stood to deliver the "Word of God" in deep reverence and gratitude at being considered worthy to stand there.
Not many years later, it became my lot to lead two separate congregations in building their temples, their houses for the practice of religion. These were humble edifices, neither of which survives (I am thankful), which nevertheless began to expose my pride and the pride of the congregations at having built such buildings as "a testimony to the Word of God" in our communities. Inevitably such buildings are occasions of pride. While my accomplishment was very modest, the pride was nevertheless unavoidable because the "pastor" that leads in the building of such temples where none existed gets lots of kudos from both the world and the ministers that share in his profession. It is a recommendation for advancement to larger and greater things, and I received such invitations.
One can observe the ultimate extent of all of this great deception by visiting the Crystal Cathedral of one Dr. Robert Schuler.
From the great cathedrals of Christendom to the humble edifices of rural Arkansas, the very same motives prevail by which Christians build their building for religious practice. They seldom if ever come to the realization of what they are doing, and the fact that there is no church construction in the gospels seems not to enlighten them. The Lord Jesus pronounced the destruction, forever, of the one temple that he had once recognized as the House of God. To succeed it, he announced that the temple of his body should be raised up.
Jn.2:18 So the Jews answered and said to him: What sign do you show us, because you do these [things]? 19 Jesus answered and said to them: Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it. 20 So the Jews said: This temple was built in forty-six years, and you will raise it in three days? 21 But he said this concerning the temple of his body. 22 So when he was raised out of [the] dead, his disciples remembered that he was saying this, and they believed the Scriptures and the word that Jesus said.
His body, in its resurrection, is the temple he recognizes, but because a temple is considered a sacred precinct -- the dwelling of God -- he recognized all persons (their hearts and their flesh) that receive and believe the Logos that he uttered in the World, as sacred precincts.
Jn.14:18 I will not leave you orphans, I come to you. 19 Yet [a] little [while] and the world no longer beholds me, but you behold me, because I zoe-live and you will zoe-live. 20 In that day you will know that I [am] in my father and you in me and I in you. 21 The [one] having my commandments and keeping them, that is the [one] agape-loving me; and the [one] agape-loving me will be agape-loved by my father, and I will agape-love him and reveal myself to him. 22 Judas says to him: not the Iscariot, Lord, and what has happened that you are [about] to reveal yourself to us and not to the world? 23 Jesus answered and said to him: If anyone agape-loves me, he will keep my word, and my father will agape-love him, and we will come to him, and we will make our dwelling-place with him.
These sacred precincts are sanctified (made holy) in the Truth, and thus constitute the earthly sanctuaries of the Lord. There are no others, for the Lord has sanctified no material buildings on the earth. Were you, as me, taught that the place of worship in the church house was a sanctuary (holy place)? Oh, would that it were, then the Lord would join with the worshippers and all would be one in Him as they attend to the Logos. It is not so, for the only sanctuaries (holy places) are those the Lord sanctifies through the Truth.
Jn.17:17 Make them holy in the truth; your word is truth. 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I also sent them into the world. 19 And in their behalf do I make myself holy, in order that they also be made holy in [the] truth.
The temples tell.
Christianity is so far from the Builder as to have failed in every point to conform to his specifications for their assemblies within the world. I have listed only eight, but there are others, including relationships and love -- in particular love for one another. The Lord gave this clear specification for disciples:
Now examine the churches of Christendom in the light of the history of Christendom and its continual internecine wars, in which Christians, in the grips of pure hatred that casts out love, battle each other to the death. It is truly tragic that so many human beings have been sucked into the great maw of deception that is Christianity and the Christian Church.
Jn.13:35 By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you have agape-love for one another.
We have found and described the perfect misfit. Is there no fit? is there no perfect fit?
Yes! The Perfect Fit will be the subject of Part IV.
Arndt, William ; Danker, Frederick W. ; Bauer, Walter: A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3rd ed. Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 2000, S. 843
John Paul II, Crossing the Threshold of Hope. New York, Alfred A. Knopf Inc., 1994.
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