CHAPTER FIFTEEN: A BORN AGAIN CHURCH, HOLINESS!
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SIXTEEN CHAPTER SEVENTEEN
CHRISTIAN FORUMS-PRAYER REQUESTS-QUESTIONS-COMMENTS!
Before we can go through the "fire" we need to be able to recognize a good church when we see it, a church that is born again. A church that has determined to do things God's way and is not afraid of change and that we can be comfortable giving to knowing that their mission is to spread the true gospel of Jesus Christ and bringing Christians into Unity. Let's study the churches in the book of Revelation chapters two and three and see what we can learn from them. In Revelation 1:20 Jesus tells John that the seven candlesticks are the seven churches, and in Revelation 2:1 He tells John that He is walking in the midst of the seven churches and has the seven angels of the seven churches in His hand or control. We ask and He will put the angels into action to answer our requests so that we can become the kind of Church that is Christ centered.
Revelation 1:20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.
Revelation 2:1-29, 1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith He [Jesus] that holdeth the seven stars in His right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
8 And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of satan.
10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
11 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. 12 And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith He which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
13 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where satan dwelleth.
14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
16 Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. 17 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.
18 And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath His eyes like unto a flame of fire, and His feet are like fine brass;
19 I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.
20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.
22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am He which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.
24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.
25 But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.
26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:
27 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
28 And I will give him the morning star.
29 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Revelation 3:1-22 1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith He that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before His angels. 6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. 7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith He that is holy, He that is true, He that hath the key of David, He that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;
8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of Heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.
13 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. 14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in His throne. 22 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
THINGS JESUS LIKED
THINGS JESUS HAD AGAINST
Works, labor, patience, despised evil, not deceived by false workers, had not fainted. They hated people that were trying to create a division in the church.
Had forsaken God to do their works. Needed to repent and return to their first love, which was God. Needed to praise and worship; spend time with the Lord in prayer.
Works, tribulation, poverty. Being tested by being thrown in prison. Needed to be faithful even when facing death.
Faithful to the Name of Jesus even when a member was killed for the gospelís sake.
Tares that do evil and teach others to do evil, commit fornication. Had people that were trying to divide the church.
Works, charity, service, faith, patience, works better than the first works. The ones who have not yielded to satan will not be turned over to satan.
Women in the church teaching others to commit fornication. Jesus will turn them over to satan.
They have a few that have remained faithful and are worthy.
Known as a lively church but are really dead. Need to strengthen what they have left before it dies. Need to hold onto what little they have. They need to repent before Jesus comes on them unexpectedly.
They have an open door no man can shut. They have a little strength [mustard seed I guess] and have kept the Word and not denied Jesus. Jesus will bring the tares to repentance. They have kept the Word and will be kept from temptation.
Jesus is telling them to repent and turn to Him and go through the fire so they can be cleansed and be able to see spiritually [First John 1:9]. Jesus is knocking at the door and if they will open it He will come in and teach them the truth.
They are neither hot nor cold toward Jesus so He is warning them to repent or He will spew them out of His mouth. They are rich financially, but spiritually poverty stricken.
I hear a lot about the Laodicean church as an example of a bad church, but it appears that Jesus was giving them an opportunity to turn to Him and learn His ways, He saw hope. The church at Sardis is the one I saw as being an example of what a church doesn't want to become, totally deceived, a Matthew 7:21 church that needed to start at page one and learn the gospel. The only two churches that werenít told to repent were Smyrna and Philadelphia, but that is a good thing in that the rest were given the opportunity to repent and start over.
Some of the things that Jesus praised about the various churches were their hating people that were trying to divide the church-Nicolaitans, works, patience, despising evil, charity, service, faith, not being deceived, not fainting and being tested. We must be worthy to be tested before the Holy Spirit will lead us into temptation. Jesus speaks of churches having a little strength like that was something good and remember, all we need is a mustard seed.
Some of the problems in the churches were allowing their works or their church or their ministry to become more important than their relationship with God and unsaved people or tares that were doing evil and teaching others to do evil. They were deceived and complacent and you can also see where fornication was a problem in at least two of the churches. The combination of the definitions of the Greek words for fornication, as used in the Bible, pornein and porneuo, is as follows: Harlotry (including adultery and incest); fig. idolatry-fornication; to act the harlot; indulge unlawful lust (of either sex) or (fig.) practice idolatry-commit fornication. There are men harlots as well as female harlots.
Read the definition of fornication carefully and you can see that there is obviously a spirit of fornication over the world, but there is a spirit of fornication that is over the churches of this world that is grieving the Holy Spirit of God. The church needs to be transformed by the washing of the Word and not be conformed to this world. Ephesians 5:25-27, "husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish." For reasons of convenience, most of us like to think this is going to be fulfilled after we are taken up when Jesus comes back, but He wants us to be holy and without blemish now. Let's look at our last piece of the "Starter Kit", holiness. Ephesians 1:4, "According as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love."
Romans 6:14-23, "For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. What then? shall we sin, because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid! Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?
But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.
What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." Second Corinthians 5:17-18, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away; behold all things are become new, and all things are of God." Colossians 1:21-22, "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled. In the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight." Ephesians 4:22-24, "That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind. And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."
Once again Jesus gives us another part of the "Starter Kit."to help us get started. The holiness in Colossians 1:22 is the "Starter Kit" holiness that is described in Second Corinthians 5:17-18 that tells how we become a new creature and all things become new when we are born again. The second holiness in Ephesians 4:24 is accomplished through the renewing of the mind by the Holy Ghost, Titus 3:3-6, "For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lust and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our saviour;" As we read the Word the Holy Spirit will teach us to be holy as we yield to Him and learn His ways.
Ephesians 5:25-27, "husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish."
Acts 2:38, "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." As we discussed throughly in chapter two, it is very important to be baptized in the Name of Jesus. I can walk into a church and tell you the way they baptize. You canít be holy and without blemish when your sins have not been remitted. Remember, remission is the Greek word "aphesis", freedom; (figuratively) pardon:-deliverance, forgiveness, liberty, remission. We need to be set free from and have liberty from our past sins by having them washed away when we are baptized in the Name of Jesus.
We must realize that the difficulty in living a life of holiness is that satan is fighting as hard as he can to keep us from being what God wants us to be. When we begin to battle in our minds after we are taught something in God's Word we should immediately realize that we are beginning to wrestle with the powers of darkness just like Ephesians 6:10-13 says and like they always have, they are trying to keep you in bondage to their way of doing things, but remember, God is truth, simplicity and positive. Of course, when holiness isn't being taught, or made fun of, from the pulpit this supports satan and the preacher will be accountable, but we must strive to do what we know God wants us doing whether or not we can find a preacher to agree with us or not and obey The Word of God-Jesus.
Hebrews 12:9-10 says, "Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness." "That we might be partakers of His holiness." Holiness, or "standards", is something they talked a lot about at the Apostolic church I attended. I was talking to one of the ladies at the church one day and I made the statement that we do the things we do, not to be saved, but because we are saved and she immediately turned and walked away. They believe that we are working our way to Heaven and will be saved the moment we walk into Heaven. She was afraid I might influence her to do something that would make her lose her "chance" to be saved. I heard a preacher say that one night, that Jesus died on the cross so we could have a "chance" to be saved and if we are "good" till we die we will make it. I often wondered why the people prayed for people to be cured of illness. Seems like it would be better just to let them die while they are in church and go to Heaven. Hallelujah! I've got cancer. Rejoice! That would put a person that much closer to being saved.
There is the other side of the coin where the people say that we can do anything we want because we are saved. Whew! There are two kinds of mercy and grace. One for the sinner and one for the saints. When we were sinners we needed to know that God had forgiven us and loved us even when we were dead in our sins. Romans 5:8, "But God commandeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." and Ephesians 2:4-5, "But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)" and when we were born again, Acts 10:43 says, "That through His Name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins." When we were sinners we were forgiven of our sins and then when we were born again the sins that we were forgiven of were remitted, washed away, forgotten and He will not impute any new sins to our account. Impute is "logizomai", to take an inventory, i.e., to estimate
Mercy and grace when I was a sinner gave me the opportunity, regardless of what I had done as a sinner, to come to God and repent and have the sins He had already forgiven me of remitted and be delivered out of the kingdom of darkness into His marvelous light. First Peter 2:9, "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light:"
Mercy and grace! Mercy and grace, to me as a child of God, is the time God gives us until we catch on and He will tolerate certain behavior and is quick to forgive us that behavior, so that we can allow Him to show us the truth and help us to be what He wants us to be and that might not be what we envision He wants us to be, but what He has predetermined He wants us to be. He has taught me to be comfortable in asking Him to forgive me my indiscretion or, unfortunately, indiscretions. I then ask Him to show me what I did to allow satan to be able to get me to do whatever it is I have done because I need to know how not to do whatever again. What is the sense in Him forgiving me over and over for the same thing. We must learn to yield to the regenerating power of the Holy Ghost and confess our sins and be forgiven and cleansed from all unrighteousness. When you are striving to serve God to the fullest the devil is going to fight you to the best of his ability but remember, First John 4:4, "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is He [The Word of God] that is in you, than he [the devil] that is in the world." You are going to lose and you are going to win, but,,, never give up. You can not wear out First John 1:9. [I know this is repeated from chapter four.]
Romans 4:4-8, "Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin." People take this scripture and use it to justify doing anything they want to do. They say we do not have to do anything to get to Heaven so consequently we can do whatever we want, but I hope you are learning otherwise. We are to be a light to a dark and troubled world and what would be their incentive to change if we are doing or appear to be doing what they are doing? If there is no apparent difference they wonít be able to tell a Christian from a non-christian. God said in Hosea 14:4, "I will heal their backsliding." How? By what He did on the cross when He sent His Son to take away the sins of the world and by sealing us with the Holy Ghost that abides with us forever. I met a lady that told me she had lived the lifestyle of a pentecostal for nine years and didnít use make-up, had long hair, no pants, no TV, no smoking, no dancing, no drinking. But one day she left the church and got divorced, put on make-up, cut her hair, put on pants, bought a TV, drank if she wanted to and went dancing. She was having an affair with a married man and was doing all those things she wanted to do for nine years. She would be considered a "backslider" in most churches, but she never was dead to sin. She couldn't backslide, because she never was born again and received the "Starter Kit" and been sealed by the Holy Ghost although she told me she had given a message in tongues during a church service. She needed to repent, "ametameletos", be baptized in the Name of Jesus for the remission of her sins and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. I have sinned since I took the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, but I was miserable until I got right with God. When I knew her, which was before I was born again and after I was born again, she wasnít miserable.
She tried for nine years to establish her own righteousness by practicing holiness, but it won't work! People that practice holiness do so because they are holy and have the righteousness and holiness that comes with the "Starter Kit" We can't do anything to be righteous or holy it just comes naturally once we repent and are baptized in the Name of Jesus for the remission of our sins and then are established in righteousness and holiness by the power of God-the Holy Ghost. Our nature is changed from ungodly to Godly and anytime holiness is work a person is striving against their ungodly nature. I now find sin to be work and when I do sin I find I am striving against my Godly nature and it can not be accomplished without the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven.
When I first started attending the church that God would try to draw me to when I was in the third stage of the parable of the sower, it was a simple church that God felt comfortable drawing me to. Second Corinthians 11:3, "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." God is not a complicated God.
First Peter 3:1-5, speaking of wives, "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God [not their appearance], adorned themselves, being in subjection to their own husbands."
The church got into the television ministry and seemed to begin to become very concerned with their appearance and the image that they portrayed was very important. But the only problem was that the image conformed to the world instead of to the Word of God. One of the things that attracted people to the church was that you could be saved and not have to change. Remember one of the ingredients of my being born again was that I wanted to change and do things God's way, and I will reiterate, I did not know I was repenting when I repented. In God's system you must be willing to give to be able to receive. Second Timothy 2:3-4, "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier." Matthew 24:24-26, "
Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" When I first attended church there in 1980 they weren't gaudy and they weren't plain, they were simple. Some of the most spiritually beautiful women I have known have been Pentecostal, but then again I have seen some of them that were obviously in bondage to their appearance just as much as someone that spends an hour a day putting on makeup. I have seen Holy Ghost women that wouldn't leave the house with makeup on and I have seen Holy Ghost women that wouldn't leave the house without makeup. The Lord told me this was a Jezebel spirit and it depends on the spiritual battle that they are in and if the devil is telling you that you are ugly, then a person is going to do everything they can to try to cover up that ugliness. We need to learn to defeat the fiery darts of the wicked and be conformed to the image of Jesus-The Word Of God. It grieves me to see women hiding behind a mask of make-up. First Timothy 2:8-14, "I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness ["Aidos", bashfulness i.e. (towards men) modesty, reverence] and sobriety ["sophrosune", soundness of mind, sanity or self-control]; not with broided [to twine or braid] hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array. But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.
Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression."
In First Corinthians 14 where the Spirit is teaching us how to act in the church, in verses 33-40 it says, "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
What? Came the Word of God out from you? Or came it unto you only? If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant. Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order."
One of the things that God has called women to do is prophesy by allowing God to speak through them to edify or build up the church. Acts 2:17-18, "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy." First Corinthians 14:39-40, "Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order."
First Corinthians 14:22-25, "Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe. If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth." After I was born again and began to attend church regularly prophesying was quite common. I would sit there and wish I could, and then again, I didn't want to get up in front of all those people either. I went back to church there from April of 1989 to April of 1990 and I don't remember hardly any prophesying. Financially the church is very successful and people automatically presume that God is blessing a church when they are financially well off, but we can't use riches as a sign of being lined up with the Word of God. I know a lot of churches, and religions, that are financially well off but spiritually poverty stricken like the Laodicean church. We need to not only recognize teaching that doesn't line up with God's Word, but we also must be able to realize when a church is not teaching a complete gospel. We even need the parts that don't sound good at first, but as we yield to the teaching of the Holy Ghost we will begin to understand and the Word will be able to begin to set us free from things that are hindering our Christian walk. This preacher would preach 95% truth, but about 50% of the gospel. He would leave out anything that would either cause controversy or might make someone uncomfortable. First Corinthians 7:1, "It is good for a man not to touch a woman." Matthew 5:28, "But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her in his heart." This is what the Lord told me is "spiritual adultery." When you look at a woman and then take that look and allow it to become a fantasy in your mind we are giving the devil a lot of ground. A person does not have to purchase pornographic material to have a problem with pornography since we live in a pornographic world where a lot of people "act the harlot" we must constantly guard our minds. I canít speak for the ladies, but I know we men need to be sure we have control of our minds in this area.
It has become more and more popular to "act the harlot." I can remember when I was a child and living in Victoria, Texas in the early 50's and a prostitute came and stood on the corner of Rio Grande Boulevard and Navarro and everybody immediately knew she was a prostitute. I go to churches and see people that have been in church for years that dress the same way she was dressed and we accept it as "normal." Times have changed, but God hasnít, Hebrews 13:8, "Jesus Christ [The Word of God] the same yesterday, and today, and forever." They need the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven including baptism in the Name of Jesus for the remission of their sins and then the Holy Ghost can take over and teach them Godís ways. By the way, there are men that act the harlot as well as women and I used to resemble that remark. I have finally learned that whenever I begin to have thoughts about a person that are contrary to the way I have come to know that God wants me to think about a person that the thoughts are fiery darts of the wicked and they are trying to keep me from being a witness to that person.
Philippians 4:8, "Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Second Corinthians 10:5, "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."
People in the world, and unfortunately, people in the church, sometimes, knowingly or unknowingly, dress enticingly. Having had a problem in this area, pornography, in the past, I must avoid allowing carnal thoughts about a person that is dressed enticingly to linger in my mind. The best way to avoid this is to pray for that person to get the light of God's Word on this subject and immediately forgive them. Luke 17:1, "Then said He [Jesus] unto the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come; but woe unto him, through whom they come." Offence is "skandalon", snare (fig. cause of displeasure or sin):-occasion to fall (of stumbling), offence, thing that offends, stumbling block. Another good reason not to allow the offence to become a stumbling block is that the person will be accountable. If we don't allow them to be a stumbling block they will not be accountable for being a stumbling block to us, only for being a stumbling block.
The pastors youngest son got married to a woman that was different from the rest of the family. She dressed "fancier" and her hair-do was "stylish." You could begin to see the rest of the family and then the leaders of the church, begin to become "fancier" and more "stylish." At the time I didn't know what was going on, but I knew that it grieved my spirit. They became more and more interested in "prosperity" and image. God wants us to dress and look nice and we already have learned that God wants us to abound so we can be cheerful givers, but He wants us to do it for Him not ourselves. Not to make ourselves look good, but to make God look good.
I now understand that the enemy had come into the church and that a spirit of fornication was allowed to take over. Appearance was never discussed because God "knows our heart", which means that you could look and act any way you wanted to because your motives were godly. I always wondered where this teaching came from until one day I was reading an e-mail that had reference to First Samuel 16:7 where Samuel has been sent by God to anoint David to take Saulís place as King of Israel. Samuel knows he is to anoint one of Jesseís sons as King but doesnít know which one. The first seven sons pass by him and God chooses none of them and then he has to ask for David. Verses six and seven "And it came to pass, when they were come, that he [Samuel] looked on Eliab, and said, Surely the LORDíS anointed is before him. But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart."
This doesnít mean that our outward appearance can be whatever we choose, it simply means God knows our heart in regard to our desire to serve Him wether we are two feet tall or eight feet tall, good looking or ugly, fat or skinny. Once you have the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven and are baptized in the Name of Jesus you will want your outward appearance to be Godly through the regenerating powers of the Holy Ghost because your heart will be right with God. As we have learned, it takes time for the Holy Ghost to teach us and mold us into what God has determined He wants us to be, but it would be a much quicker and easier process if we have a church that is not afraid to teach us the truth from God's Word. God wants us to conduct ourselves in a Godly manner and appearance is a very important part of being Godly or holy.
The church we are discussing was the church I was baptized in that uses Matthew 28:18-20 to baptize, "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in Heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." instead of the Keys of the Kingdom of God, Acts 2:38, "Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." As we discussed throughly in chapter two, it is very important to be baptized in the Name of Jesus. I can walk into a church and tell you the way they baptize. You canít be holy and without blemish when your sins have not been remitted. Remember, remission is the Greek word "aphesis", freedom; (figuratively) pardon:-deliverance, forgiveness, liberty, remission. We need to be set free from and have liberty from our past sins by having them washed away when we are baptized in the Name of Jesus.
It was obvious that women were becoming more and more prominent as leaders in the church. They began to not only be "fashionable", but also more and more vocal. I can't find where women are to be leaders in the church according to the Word of God. They have a ministry of helps and they are to instruct the new women in Jesus in holiness as we read in Titus 2:3-5, "The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober ["sophronizo", to make of sound mind], to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet ["sophron", sound in mind, self-controlled-moderate as to opinion or passion], chaste ["hagnos", innocent, modest, pure], keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the Word of God be not blasphemed." They need to teach the new women to act like they are saved. I wonder if a woman that is young and has been saved for twenty years would be considered aged in Jesus. I like to think the elder women in Jesus, regardless of age, should teach the younger women in Jesus, regardless of age.
One of the toughest things that pastor's of churches have to deal with are new converts, their own children and the children of church members. I have seen pastor after pastor yield to the desires of the flesh of his congregation because he didn't want to run off either, new members or children of old members, and in some instances his own children. The average pastor will figure out a way to appease the members and not run them off. He will have two sets of standards, one for the young or new, and one for the older members. Compromise!
My dream is of a church that is not afraid to teach children from a very early age the complete truth of God's Word. Teach them everything that is in this message. If they are taught at an early age the complete truth about the spiritual realm that is all around them, they will be able to become more than conquerors through Christ Jesus in that realm. It should be as natural to them as eating and breathing to be able to recognize the wiles of the devil and take authority over him and win each and every encounter. The Bible is not a science fiction novel or star wars and we need to help them realize that it is real. They need to be taught to not give the devil place or neither do they need to fear him since he is a defeated foe if they do what God instructs them to do in His Word and defeat the devil at any age. There is no age limit in being victorious over the devil.
Jesus was twelve years old in Luke, chapter two when He said I must be about my Father's business. This is to demonstrate to us that He was making an active choice to serve God at that age. I feel that twelve is the age of accountability where a child should be prepared by his parents and his church to make a public commitment to serve God and we need to train up our children and have them ready to make that commitment. Luke 2:40-52, "And the little child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon Him. Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; And Joseph and His mother knew not of it. But they, supposing Him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought Him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found Him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking Him.
And it came to pass, that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers.
And when they saw Him, they were amazed: and His mother said unto Him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.
And He said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? And they understood not the saying which He spake unto them.
And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but His mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and in favour with God and man." I find nowhere in the Bible where it says that there is an age limit on being born again. I believe if a child so desires they should make a public commitment to serve God at age twelve like Jesus did [not a decision to please their church, friends or parents, but God and God only], they also can determine in their hearts to serve Him at any age. They would be much easier to teach than someone that has been serving the devil for 43 years and will have much less ground to regain and there shouldn't be hardly any ground if they have been taught correctly. When the unclean spirits come looking for an empty temple at the age of twelve it should be full of the Word of God and they will have to go back to the desert. Luke 11:24-26, "When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he saith, I will return unto my house whence I came out. And when he cometh, he findeth it swept and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first." The young mind is open to the truth and can be taught the truth very easily. Acts 20:21, "Repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ."
We need to realize that children are in a spiritual battle for their souls at that age. All the problems that begin to manifest at that time are blamed on everything from peer pressure to chemical changes to growing pains to hormones to sowing wild oats to a sudden discovery of their sexuality. The devil is fighting for our children's eternal destiny and their minds and we need to have them prepared for the battle. satan uses schools, peers, friends, teachers, preachers, the countless entertainment and sports idols that they emulate and computers, television, music and now the new games that pollute the minds of young people on the cd-ROMS of computers and DVDís on televisions. I have never once seen satan blamed for the problems that children begin to have at the age of twelve. This is decision time and almost 100 percent of today's adolescents are ill prepared to make the decision to fulfill Acts 2:38 and be born again, baptized in the Name of Jesus for the remission of their sins and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. Then they will be submitted unto God and be able to resist the devil so that he will flee and they can be free to serve God and fulfill Mark 16:15-18.
One of the scariest things I have seen around churches is a child that imitates their parents. You would think that would be good, but if they are only doing spiritual things to imitate their parents and not doing them because of a sincere commitment to God, it won't work. God will not honor works without commitment. Ephesians 2:10, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."
My son Michael and I attended the Apostolic church together and he slowly began to try to conform to the image that the other boys in the church were presenting. God knew that he was doing it to please the people in the church and not to please Him and God led me to start going to church elsewhere. He knew Michael's heart and when Michael gives his heart to God, God will teach him how to conduct himself.
It is very important that we know what God's Word says about how we should conduct ourselves. We don't need to have the word of a preacher that is a man-pleaser, someone that is afraid they will hurt someone's feelings or trying to meet a church budget or keeping his congregation in fear of losing their "chance to be saved" if they donít attend his church. We don't need the word of tares or a mis-guided friend, relative, acquaintance, co-worker or anybody that is not basing their opinion on God's Word and God's Word only. We need the truth to keep from giving satan ground in our lives and yield to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to show us how to apply certain scriptures to our lives. Philippians 2:12-13 says, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do His good pleasure."
Paul writes in First Thessalonians 2:1-14, "For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance is unto you, that it was not in vain: But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Phillipi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention. For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak: not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloak of covetousness, God is witness: Nor of men sought we glory, neither of you, nor yet of others, when we might have been burdensome, as the apostles of Christ. But we were among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children: So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.
For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God. Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe. As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children, that ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto His kingdom and glory.
For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the Word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judea are in Christ Jesus." Deceit, "plane", 4106, fraudulence; a straying from orthodoxy or piety:-deceit, to deceive, delusion, error. Uncleanness, "akatharsia", 167, from 169, impurity (the quality), physical or moral; 169, "akathartos", impure (lewd):-foul, unclean. Guile, "dolos", 1388, from an obsolete primary, "dello", probable meaning to decoy; a trick (bait) wile:-craft, deceit, guile, subtilty.
Hosea 4:6-9, "My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge: because thou [the preachers] has rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shall be no priest to me: seeing thou has forgotten the law of thou God, I will also forget thou children."
In Paul's letter to the church at Thessalonica he tells of being treated shamefully at Phillipi and now here he comes with the same gospel to these people. There is much contention but he preaches boldly to them and was preaching to them to please God and not them. They understood their obligation to preach the truth and that they would be accountable for what they preached. They weren't flattering, which means they didn't say what the people wanted to hear, but what God wanted the people to hear. They also did not preach with a cloak of covetousness. They worked night and day so that they could preach without being obligated to the people. Paul used the term, "you that believe" twice in these scriptures so evidently they had some tares.
King James Version
Living Bible Version
First Peter 5:1-4,
1 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
First Peter 5:1-4, 1 "And now, a word to you elders of the church. I, too, am an elder; with my own eyes I saw Christ dying on the cross; and I, too, will share His glory and His honor when He returns. Fellow elders, this is my plea to you: 2 Feed the flock of God;[remember when Jesus told Peter to "feed my sheep"]care for it willingly, not grudgingly; not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve the Lord. 3 Don't be tyrants, but lead them by your good example, 4 and when the Head Shepherd comes, your reward will be a never-ending share in His glory and honor."
Paul, in the letter to the Thessalonians, spoke of how they exhorted and charged and comforted the people and Peter is telling the elders to feed the flock of God the Word of God and they were to be examples by living the life in front of them. God gave us our inheritance, His Word, to give us liberty from satan and his way of doing things, not to put us in bondage to doing things Godís way. Once we realize that God is interested in every aspect of our lives the sooner we will be able to live a life of holiness and be set free from the unholy lifestyle satan promotes through his many worldly sources. We saw earlier that we are not to provoke our children to wrath and the same is true with a pastor. They must teach the truth and let God take care of everything else. A lot of pastors are afraid that if they don't preach what the people want to hear they won't be able to pay their bills. A pastors duty is to preach the truth and have faith in the Word of God, "My God shall supply all my need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
One Sunday in February of 1995 I found myself going to the church we are discussing. I didn't know why God was leading me to go there, but as it turned out He knew Brother Pittman was there and was going to speak at the evening service. He also wanted me to hear the Sunday morning sermon that was for television and was based on Colossians 1:20-22, "And having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in Heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled. In the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight." He quit there. He didn't want to go to verse 23 because it contained an "if." "If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel." This could be controversial or make someone feel bad. What God is saying is that we must contend for our faith and don't be moved away from the truth that Jesus died for you and don't quit trusting Him and take the shield of faith and repel the fiery darts of the wicked. We mustn't be afraid to preach the truth. The truth is the only thing that will set us free. I am sure there were people there that morning that needed to hear the "if" and be encouraged and exhorted to rise up and defeat the devil and change their circumstances and be victorious. It is difficult to recognize darkness and a lack of submission when what you are doing isn't being taught against from the pulpit-Hosea 4:6-9! We need to bind the devil in the Name of Jesus and not allow him to come in and teach something that is contrary to God's Word, and if we donít, the enemy will then have an opening to come in and counterfeit the works of God. "War On The Saints" defined counterfeit as, "An imitation, or exact copy and resemblance to Divine, human, or satanic things, or workings."
Second Corinthians 11:13-15, "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."
King James Version
Living Bible Version
1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to His disciples,
2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:
3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in Heaven.
10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of Heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of Hell than yourselves.
16 Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor!
17 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?
18 And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.
19 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?
20 Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon.
21 And whoso shall swear by the temple, sweareth by it, and by him that dwelleth therein.
22 And he that shall swear by Heaven, sweareth by the throne of God, and by Him that sitteth thereon.
23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter [kick out the devil and replace him with the Word of God], that the outside of them may be clean also.
27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,
30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.
32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:
35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.
37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!
38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.
39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord.
Matthew 23:1-39, 1 Then said Jesus to the crowds, and to His disciples, 2 "You would think these Jewish leaders and these Pharisees were Moses, the way they keep making up so many laws! 3 And of course you should obey their every whim! It may be alright to do what they say, but above anything else, don't follow their example. For they don't do what they tell you to do. 4 They load you with impossible demands that they themselves don't even try to keep.
5 "Everything they do is for show. They act holy by wearing on their arms little prayer boxes with scripture verses inside, and by lengthening the memorial fringes of their robes. 6 And how they love to sit at the head table at banquets, and in the reserved pews in the synagogue!
7 How they enjoy the deference paid them on the streets, and to be called 'rabbi" and 'master'! 8 Don't ever let anyone call you that. For only God is your Rabbi and all of you are on the same level, as brothers. 9 And don't address anyone here on Earth as your 'father', for only God in Heaven should be addressed like that.
10 And don't be called 'master', for only one is your Master even the Messiah.
11 "The more lowly your service to others, the greater you are. To be the greatest, be a servant. 12 But those who think themselves great shall be disappointed and humbled; and those who humble themselves shall be exalted.
13,14 "Woe to you, Pharisees, and you other religious leaders. Hypocrites! For you won't let others enter the kingdom of Heaven, and won't go in yourselves. And you pretend to be holy, with all your long, public prayers in the streets, while you are evicting widows from their homes. Hypocrites!
15 Yes, woe unto you hypocrites! For you go to all lengths to make one convert, and then turn him into twice the son of Hell you are yourselves.
16 Blind guides! Woe upon you! For your rule is that to swear 'By God's Temple' means nothing-you can break that oath, but to swear, 'By the gold in the Temple' is binding!
17 Blind fools! Which is greater, the gold, or the Temple that sanctifies the gold?
18 And you can say that to take an oath 'By the altar' can be broken, but to swear, 'By the gifts on the altar' is binding!
19 Blind! For which is greater, the gift on the altar, or the altar itself that sanctifies the gift? 20 When you swear 'By the altar' you are swearing by it and everything on it, 21 and when you swear 'By the Temple' you are swearing by it, and by God who lives in it. 22 And when you swear 'By Heavens' you are swearing by the throne of God and by God Himself. 23 "Yes, woe upon you, Pharisees, and you other religious leaders-hypocrites! For you tithe down to the last mint leaf in your garden, but ignore the important things-justice and mercy and faith. Yes, you should tithe, but you shouldn't leave the more important things undone.
24 Blind guides! You strain out a gnat and swallow a camel.
25 "Woe to you, Pharisees, and you religious leaders-hypocrites! you are so careful to polish the outside of the cup, but the inside is foul with extortion and greed.
26 Blind Pharisees! First cleanse the inside of the cup, and then the whole cup will be clean.[If we are clean on the inside we will be clean on the outside. The works of the Holy Ghost]
27 "Woe to you, Pharisees, and you religious leaders! You are like beautiful mausoleums-full of dead men's bones, and of foulness and corruption.
28 You try to look like saintly men, but underneath those pious robes of yours are hearts besmirched with every sort of hypocrisy and sin.
29,30 "Yes, woe to you, Pharisees, and you religious leaders-hypocrites! For you build monuments to the prophets killed by your fathers and lay flowers on the graves of the godly men they destroyed, and say, 'We certainly would never have acted as our fathers did.' 31 "In saying that, you are accusing yourselves of being the sons of wicked men. 32 And you are following in their steps, filling up the full measure of their evil.
33 Snakes! Sons of vipers! How shall you escape the judgment of Hell?
34 "I will send you prophets, and wise men, and inspired writers, and you will kill some by crucifixion, and rip open the backs of others with whips in your synagogues, and hound them from city to city, 35 so that you will become guilty of all the blood of murdered godly men from righteous Abel to Zechariah (son of Barachiah), slain by you in the Temple between the altar and the sanctuary.
36 Yes, all the accumulated judgment of the centuries shall break upon the heads of this very generation. 37 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets, and stones all those that God sends to her! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn't let me. 38 And now your house is left to you, desolate. 39 For I tell you this, you will never see me again until you are ready to welcome the One sent to you from God."
I don't want you to think I am a church hater, but I haven't seen too many good ones out there that arenít preaching what people want to hear for filthy lucreís sake by preaching a man-made gospel. But, when you do get settled where you feel like God is leading you to go to church, Romans 13:1-7, "Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resiseth the power, resiseth the ordinance of God: and they that resist will receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the Sword [The Word of God] in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore you must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For this cause pay you tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour."
There are two instances in the Bible where I can remember that Paul spoke of turning people over to satan for the destruction of their flesh. In First Timothy 1:20, he is telling Timothy that he has delivered Hymenaeus and Alexander unto satan that they may learn not to blaspheme, but he was still talking bad about them in Second Timothy. In First Corinthians 5, he is telling the church that he had judged already that a man that had his father's wife should be delivered unto satan for the destruction of the flesh so he could be saved in the day of our Lord Jesus and he had done this in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ and with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ. We find in Second Corinthians 7, that because of this, not only did the man see the error of his ways, but the entire church that had not put the man out from among them repented and cleared themselves in the matter. Hallelujah!
What the Church, Christians everywhere, should strive for is to be in one accord and of one mind. Acts 2:46-47, "And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." Acts 4:31-33, "And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the Word of God with boldness. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all."
King James Version
Living Bible Version
20 Neither pray I [Jesus] for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
20 "I [Jesus] am not praying for these alone but also for the future believers who will come to me because of the testimony of these.
21 My prayer for all of them is that they will be of one heart and mind, just as you and I are, Father-that just as you are in me and I am in you, so they will be in us, and the world will believe you sent me.
22 I have given them the glory you gave me-the glorious unity of being one, as we are- 23 I in them and you in me, all being perfected into one-so that the world will know you sent me and will understand that you love them as much as you love me."
Philippians 2:2, "Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind." and First Corinthians 1:10, "Now I beseech you, brethren, by the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." Ephesians 4:11-16, "And He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."
We should all pray every day that Christians everywhere can come together in one accord with gladness and singleness of heart and be of the same mind and speak the same thing. This is probably satan's number one priority, making sure that we aren't one in mind and spirit and this was God's number one priority, that we be one in mind and spirit. God has fixed it so that we are one, if we yield to the Holy Ghost and allow Him to teach us through the Word of God and recognize that the devil is fighting through his fiery darts and twisted scripture. satan realizes that if we come together in one accord that we can defeat him. Acts 1:2, "Until the day He [Jesus] was taken up, after that He through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles He had chosen." We should all pray everyday that we can all hear the commandments of Jesus through the Holy Ghost and all speak the same thing. satan knows that if we all begin to hear the same thing and all agree that he will be defeated and his "covert war" will be detected. Once we recognize the wiles of the enemy and take the Word of God and speak the same thing in unison we will defeat satan and his evil angels and "the war" will be over. It is imperative that we unite and become one since our battle has intensified as of September 11, 2001 and we have a horrendous tendency to be complacent when everything returns to "normal." The definition of complacency in Webster's Dictionary is, "Satisfaction accompanied by unawareness of actual
dangers or deficiencies."
We must begin to have an urgency about fulfilling Acts 13:1-4, "Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia"
Our fight is not with people and we all need to remember that we are not fighting flesh and blood, Ephesians 6:10-13, "Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." When we understand this scripture it is less difficult to understand why 3,000 people died in one day in our country at the hands of people under the control of these very principalities and powers, and rulers of the darkness of this world, but Luke 23:34, "Then said Jesus, Father forgive them; for they know not what they do." There minds were blinded and they had no idea that the devil was in control of them to make them do what they did on September 11, 2001.
Several of the perpetrators of this attack lived in this country for several years and never saw a strong enough Christian witness to be converted. We normally do not portray a Christian image in this country strong enough that they would know that we are Christians. I was in the church that we are discussing in this chapter for a prayer service right after 911 and as I sat there I thought that if I had brought someone that was of a religion that appearance was part of their beliefs, such as Muslims, Hindus, Buddhist, etc. they would not have been impressed by what they saw in the leadership of this church. We need to make holiness natural, not a burden. Most people are looking for "freedom" from holiness, but it is a very important ingredient of Godís plan for His Church.
Paul wrote by the inspiration of God in Second Corinthians 4:1-11 "Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the Word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every manís conscience in the sight of God.
But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesusí sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.
We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.
For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesusí sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh."
Galatians 3:26-28, "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus." We need to be one in understanding that we are at war with an unseen enemy and when that enemy attacks one of us we need to be able to be there for each other and understand the battle that is taking place and pray and bind and agree in the Name of Jesus so that we can stand together and be victorious and ready to be used of the Master and help each other to be used of the Master. Galatians 6:1-3, "Brethren, if a man [person] be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in a spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself." Keeping this in mind that Godís number one priority is that we be in one accord with gladness and singleness of heart and of the same mind so that we can bear one anotherís burdens let us move on to,
"THE HOLY GHOST AND FIRE-TEMPTATION, PURIFICATION!"