As one minister recently put it: The Pay, Pray and Stay leaders and founders of today's churches have their own modus operandi, in other words they have they their own motives for doing what they are doing. And, often what they are doing is a result of spiritual ignorance. In Colossians 1:9, Paul prayed that the Colossians "... might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding...that they might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God".
Folks, what Paul prayed for with regard to the Colossians is what needs to be prayed for today, given the state of most churches in America particularly, if not for the churches in the rest of the world. It would appear that the church on earth has veered off course, by and large. Presently, we are witnessing a recurrent theme in the world of Christendom. Just as it occurred in the past, many of today's preachers and teachers are circumventing the plan of God, misusing the word and abusing the privelege of the offices that they hold.
What many end up doing, some intentionally and others unwittingly - is to detour a large number of would be converts right back into the King of Satan, however, their new Satanic practices take place in religious settings. Has the earthly church ever been more carnal/wordly than it is today? A late pastor's widow once said, well I don't see why people can't 'be saved today', they are doing whatever they want to do in the church anyway. Perhaps her grammar was incorrect, however she was factually correct.
Some ministers given their limited understanding of their calling, have unwittingly joined Satan's team. Satan's number one device is deception, and Satan's primary objective is to prevent the fallen human seed from entering into new life, inside of a new world - the world where God resides!
Point 1: The motive of many of today's ministers and the objective of their ministries is simply to build a small or large membership that they can preside over. These ministers fail to recognize the need to build members, as opposed to memberships. The former is what God wanted. Conversely, the measure of success for many of today's ministers and like-minded ministries is to see how many members can we add to the churche role.
How many times have you heard ministers boast that, we took in 'X" number of members last week. Folks, it doesn't mean a thing! King David was rebuked and severely punished when he entered into 'the numbers trap!
Rick Warren wrote extensively about this in his book, The Purpose Driven Church! As a result of today's intertwining of carnality within the church, the memberships in many churches are growing exponentially, however, those churches and their individual members have never been more unhealthy or carnal.
Point 2. Anything goes: Much like several of the churches of Asia that John wrote about, as recorded in the the book of Revelations (chapters 2 through 4); many of today's churches have seemingly forgotten their first love. And much like those churches, many churches, today, persist in having an appearance of authenticity, yet they have become something else altogether. Some are no more than religious country club that provide the same amenities and and entertainment for their members as was provided for them in the world.
Let's recall the church at Ephesus in order to make my point. Today the whole region, that was once known as Ephesus, is majority Islamic and Muslim/Arab. Paul visited this region prior to John's revelattory assessment (See Acts Chapter 19). Paul actually found disciples, today we call them members ' at Ephesus. . However, Paul did not accept their membership as an objective fact of salvation, he questioned them wondering had they ever been been converted. Conversion in this context meaning, did you receive the Holy Spirit since or when you believed?
He discovered that these disciples had only been baptized, in the same manner that too many of today's (members of churches) have only been baptized in water, and not from above. In Acts the 8th chapter, Samaria had received the word as a result of the preaching of Deacon-Evangelist Philip. Not only had they received the word, unclean spirits came out of many of them, and according to vs 12 they were baptized, both men and women. According to vs 14, the Apostles received word that the people of Samaria had received the word (and keep in mind that Samaritans were not so fond, as a rule, of the Jews).
The Apostles headed to Samaria, however, not to extend to them the right hand of fellowship, but instead, see vs 15, they came to certify them, and as a result they and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Ghost (not just some spiritual gift as some dispensational and misguided theologians, pastors and preachers are teaching) would have you to believe. Without being born in, even the best disciples and members are not a part of the adoption. You must be born into the Kingdom of God!
In verse 16 the writer adds just to make it clear that with reference to the Samaritans, '...THEY HAD ONLY BEEN BAPTIZED in the NAME OF Jesus, however the Holy Spirit had not fallen upon any of them.
Jesus taught Nicodemus, a religious teacher of Israel' that one must be born 'Anothen', and not to have experienced baptism in water in the name of Jesus Christ. Isn't that shocking? Many 'members' of churches today and their leaders have reinvented these texts, and as a result they are teaching a completely different doctrine than the one that was taught by Jesus Christ and the Apostles.
The majority of our churches in many of our denominations today have also stopped where the Samaritans did in Acts 8: verses 14 through 16. They have received the word, accepted baptism, and on occasion some had been delivered from their demons. However, according to biblical teaching, they ha not experienced the spiritual rebirth or regeneration, even though they had been privy to a transforming religious experience!
Do you recall when the Apostles returned from their first evangelical tour to report to Jesus that a power came upon them, and as a result even the demons were subject to them. At Jesus' departure he instructed those same disciples to go and tarry until Jerusalem until they experienced the permant transformative experience from on high!
Point 3. Let me digress in order to explain rebirth in Christ. According to 1 Corinithians 15:21-22, 45-50 and 1 Cor 15:51-58, all humans who were born of Adam, had Adams's seed or DNA if you prefer, remaining within them. That seed or DNA, was corrupted acording to scripture. And just as Adam experienced death as a result of his corrupted seed or DNA, all humans who were reproduced afterwards with Adam's seed or DNA-type would eventually experience death.
In order to experience eternal life, which is the transformative work of the Holy Spirit, one must be born of the new seed or of 'eternal DNA' in order to be transformed or 'born into' a new life form. And with respect to all of those who are born anothen (from above) the new descendants of Jesus Christ our prototokos will never die. The flesh will die, however, the new being will live on and never die!
How does one become born again, and what does baptism mean? Jesus explained it to Nicodemus by analogizing the human reproduction cycle to the spiritual reproduction cycle. Humans are merely reproductions of what existed before them. When a male and female come together and produce life, they are actually only reproducing life forms like themselves, that were created from their combined DNA.
The female egg is fertilized by 'the husband's seed', he is 'the planter'>. Husband, derived from the Greek term 'husbandry' is an agricultural term. Since the Bible assumes that one will be married, the husband of the wife is 'the planter of the seed'. The newly formed zygote, a combination of the egg and the sperm ascends and attaches itself to the walls of the uterus, and afterwards the healthy zygote living within the mother's reproductive organs goes through each stage of the reproduction cycle, until it is time for the newly reproduced life to come forth and whereby exist outside of the womb.
The organisms departure from the womb and entrance into this world , and I amplify 'this world' what we refer to as 'being born'. Now when does the new organism come forth from the womb? Answer, when the water breaks, and then the organism is baptized into 'this world', not the spiritual, microbial, cosmic or other world(s). Baptism in scripture is compared to being baptized out of the mother's womb when the water breaks, and the subsequent entrance into this earthly world of parents, families and friends.
Jesus made it clear that on the same token that in the spiritual world there must also be a breaking or baptism of water in order for new life to spring into 'the spiritual world'. The water of Jesus Christ must be broken symbolizing the carrying forth of new life in an entirely spiritual world. That which is flesh is flesh, and that which is spiritual is spirtual. Are these two worlds parallel, it would appear to be so at times. Study Quantum Physics, you might find your answer there to that question.
Anothen, or being born from above takes place when the spiritual seed that impregnates the bride, has produced a new spiritual being that breaks forth from the spiritual womb. The groom Jesus (the husband), coupled with his bride (the church) causes the reproduction of a whole new being after Christ, who is its prototokos.
If you have never been reborn, then go to church all you want, pay tithes, give service to the church, sing in the choir, drive the church bus or dowhatever you are required to do; but the fact remains that you have never been reproduced/born again as a result of impregnation by the Heavenly Seed. And therefore you remain an Adamic descendant, with his seed/DNA in you which confines you to this life - a life that is perpetually dying.
Are you offended by my comments. If so remember that Cain offered up sacrifices to God just as many 'members' of religious institutions are being taught to do today. However, Cain's, self-devised offering - if you will recall - was not acceptable to God. Many individuals in our earthly church institutions today, if anything, have never begun the process of incubation; they certainly have not been born again, even those who claim that they have been born again.
These en-vitro wannabe's that have been created without the work of the Holy Spirit and they ere no more than bastardly imitations! Whose fault is that? Many times the fault lies with their teachers, but not all of the time. Some have simply decided for themselves how they will or will not serve God!
Point 4. Why hasn't your leader told you? It's simple, because like Nicodemus a teacher in Israel (see John 3:10), more than likely he or she doesn't understand it themselves! Is he or she a hypocrite? No, I wouldn't go that far, for the majority of ministers today have good intentions and they are good people. Many of them, simply put, have never understood that they were not put here to simply build buildings and memberships, or to do good deeds.
Christ's objective was that his ministers who followed after his departure would by teaching and preaching his word, cause people to be converted from Adam's (DNA), into the transformative DNA of Jesus Christ the everalasting Spiritual DNA. The latter is the only approved and acceptable work of the Holy Spirit that was prescribed for God's ministers. Joining a church does not convert, or cause anyone to be converted, any more than walking around with Jesus for 3.5 years, result in the conversion of his disciples! Each one of them also had to be born again!
Let's put it another way, in the biological world DNA differs from species to species. DNA contains the code which is the schema of the human genome. Humans have a completely different DNA than birds. If a bird were to become a human, the bird's DNA would have to be replaced with human DNA. On the same token for any of us to enter into God's Kingdom, our human or Adamic DNA must be replaced with heavenly or spiritual DNA. This isn't being taught today, and when it is - being taught, parishioners are being taught that when they joined the church, their DNA was transposed at that point.
Not so, and if you ask the honest 'new members', they will tell you that they did not experience a spirtual transmogrification! Tergiversator christians might tell you something altogether different! This type will insist, despite what is written or certified by the spirit that they have been born again, when in fact they have not 'been sealed' by that Holy Spirit of promise. The Holy Spirit is also, the seal! Paul taught in the book of Romans that if any man has not the Spirit of Christ, that was none of his!
The two illustrations, the Apostles to the Samaritans who had received the word and were baptized, and Paul to the disciples at Ephesus who had received the baptism of repentance - prove that there is more to it than what dispensational and misinformed theological teachers are teaching today. Many of them teach that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is merely a spiritual gift that one receives, suc tongues, the gifts of helps or the word of knowledge and so on!
What has happened as a result of churches today, big or small, that have or are being built upon the basis of false assumptions and incomplete teachings? I would argue that they have become what their predecessors in Asia Minor became.
For like the churches mentioned in Revelations (chapters 2-4), many churches today have departed from their first love, they are full of blasphemy and have tolerated false doctrines that coincide with their teachings e.g. the doctrines of Balaam, the Nicolatans, the spirit of Jezebel (seduction and fornication), imbibing, idolatry, imperfect works, defilment and by name-only followers and lukewarmness.
Today's global church, with a few exceptions is a church that has by and large 'settled in the world'. Even our church leaders have compromised themselves by joining in with carnal world leaders who have a completely different objective than the one that Jesus gave them! Today even, our Priests are in bed with venal politicians!
Section II: God's Church vs Counterfeits.
Jesus, made it plain to his disciples that he was building 'his church'. In Matthew the 16th chapter:
In coming to the other side of the sea, 4 the disciples had forgotten to bring bread.
Jesus said to them, "Look out, and beware of the leaven 5 of the Pharisees and Sadducees."
They concluded among themselves, saying, "It is because we have brought no bread."
When Jesus became aware of this he said, "You of little faith, why do you conclude among yourselves that it is because you have no bread?
Do you not yet understand, and do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many wicker baskets you took up?
Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you took up?
How do you not comprehend that I was not speaking to you about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees."
Then they understood 7 that he was not telling them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi 9 he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?"
They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, 10 others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
Simon Peter said in reply, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."
Jesus said to him in reply, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood 12 has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, 13 and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
Point 1. Many of Today's Leaders, Teachers and Preachers Are Counterfeits, they are still in the Nicodemus inchoate state of understanding. Similar to the Ethiopian Eunuch mentioned in the 8th chapter of Acts, Nicodemus the teacher, required someone, Jesus in this instance, to teach him. Just how many years had Nicodemus unintentionaly misled the people. Apollos the Eloquent Alexandria from the same region of Ephesus, had to be taken aside and taught that which he did not fully understand.
Some ministers, the counterfeits, have never been extended the keys of heaven, or the keys to the Kingdom. Other have run, however, they were either not sent or they ran a course that they selected for themselves. Why does God permit them to go on? The Apostle Paul said that whatever their motives, the word was being preached. Paul felt that if the word reached the heart of the individual, no matter what the motives of the speaker was, that the receiver could be converted by the word!
Consider the words of Jeremiah.
I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. 14 Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
Jer. 23) 16 This is what the Lord Almighty says: "Do not listen to what the prophets are prophesying to you; they fill you with false hopes. They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. 21 I did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied. 22 But if they had stood in my counsel, they would have proclaimed my words to my people and would have turned them from their evil ways and from their evil deeds!"
Point 2. Warnings From Men Chosen From God About The Counterfeits & Inchoates Who Are Among You.
New American Standard Bible (©1995)
'For wicked men are found among My people, They watch like fowlers lying in wait; They set a trap, They catch men.
GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995)
"Wicked people are found among my people. They lie in ambush like bird catchers. They set traps and catch people.
King James Bible
For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men.
False Teachers, Preachers & Leaders Who Satan is Using To Shut Up Heaven!
Many individuals believe that I am just fine because I belong to Reverend X's
church, I go to church, I am a member, I fast and I pay my tithes. The
scriptures teach, conversely, that Satan appears as 'an Angel of light.
New American Standard Bible (©1995)
Point 3: Pastors & Other Clerics Who Have Shut up Heaven.
"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.
GOD'S WORD® Translation (©1995)
"How horrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees! You hypocrites! You lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. You don't enter it yourselves, and you don't permit others to enter when they try.
King James Bible
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.
Question: Is your leader actually an angel of light or a misguided tool of darkness? Will you come unto Jesus one day only to be told "I never knew you", and therefore to depart from him!
Section III: According to Matthew Henry's Whole Bible Commentary Verses 13-33)
1. The scribes and Pharisees were hypocrites; that is it in which all the rest of their bad characters are summed up; it was the leaven which gave the relish to all they said and did. A hypocrite is a stage-player in religion (that is the primary signification of the word); he personates or acts the part of one that he neither is nor may be, or perhaps the he neither is nor would be.
2. That hypocrites are in a woeful state and condition. Woe to hypocrites; so he said whose saying that their case is miserable makes it so: while they live, their religion is vain; when they die, their ruin is great.
3. They were sworn enemies to the gospel of Christ, and consequently to the salvation of the souls of men (v. 13); They shut up the kingdom of heaven against men, that is, they did all they could to keep people from believing in Christ, and so entering into his kingdom. Christ came to open the kingdom of heaven, that is, to lay open for us a new and living way into it, to bring men to be subjects of that kingdom.
Now the scribes and Pharisees, who sat in Moses's seat, and pretended to the key of knowledge, ought to have contributed their assistance herein, by opening those scriptures of the Old Testament which pointed at the Messiah and his kingdom, in their true and proper sense; they that undertook to expound Moses and the prophets should have showed the people how they testified of Christ; that Daniel's weeks were expiring, the sceptre was departed from Judah, and therefore now was the time for the Messiah's appearing.
Thus they might have facilitated that great work, and have helped thousands to heaven; but, instead of this, they shut up the kingdom of heaven; they made it their business to press the ceremonial law, which was now in the vanishing, to suppress the prophecies, which were now in the accomplishing, and to beget and nourish up in the minds of the people prejudices against Christ and his doctrine.
4. They would not go in themselves; Have any of the rulers, or of the Pharisees, believed on him? Jn. 7:48. No; they were to proud to stoop to his meanness, too formal to be reconciled to his plainness; they did not like a religion which insisted so much on humility, self-denial, contempt of the world, and spiritual worship.
5. They would not suffer them that were entering to go in. It is bad to keep away from Christ ourselves, but it is worse to keep others from him; yet that is commonly the way of hypocrites; they do not love that any should go beyond them in religion, or be better than they.
Their not going in themselves was a hindrance to many; for, they having so great an interest in the people, multitudes rejected the gospel only because their leaders did; but, besides that, they opposed both Christ's entertaining of sinners (Lu. 7:39), and sinners' entertaining of Christ; they perverted his doctrine, confronted his miracles, quarrelled with his disciples,
II. They made religion and the form of godliness a cloak and stalking-horse to their covetous practices and desires, v. 14. Observe here,
1. What their wicked practices were; they devoured widows' houses, either by quartering themselves and their attendants upon them for entertainment,
2. What was the cloak with which they covered this wicked practice; For a pretence they made long prayers; very long indeed, if it be true which some of the Jewish writers tell us, that they spent three hours at a time in the formalities of meditation and prayer, and did it thrice every day,
III. While they were such enemies to the conversion of souls to Christianity, they were very industrious in the perversion of them to their faction. They shut up the kingdom of heaven against those that would turn to Christ, but at the same time compassed sea and land to make proselytes to themselves, v. 15. Observe here,
1. Their commendable industry in making proselytes to the Jewish religion, not only proselytes of the gate, who obliged themselves to no more than the observance of the seven precepts of the sons of Noah, but proselytes of righteousness, who addicted themselves wholly to all the rites of the Jewish religion, for that was the game they flew at;
2. Their cursed impiety in abusing their proselytes when they were made; "Ye make him the disciple of a Pharisee presently, and he sucks in all a Pharisee's notions; and so ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves." Note, (1.) Hypocrites, while they fancy themselves heirs of heaven, are, in the judgment of Christ, the children of hell.
IV. Their seeking their own worldly gain and honour more than God's glory put them upon coining false and unwarrantable distinction, with which they led the people into dangerous mistakes, particularly
Now, to prove their blindness, he specifies the matter of swearing, and shows what corrupt casuists they were. He lays down the doctrine they taught.
[1.] They allowed swearing by creatures, provided they were consecrated to the service of God, and stood in any special relation to him. They allowed swearing by the temple and the altar...! Today's Christians are being told, it is okay to do almost anything - and they are doing almost anything that you can think of, and they still refer to themselves as Christians.
In conclusion: Modern day leaders are allowing any and everything to take place in 'their churches', and what should be happening is not happening at all. A new spirit of licentiousness has broken out in many churches, and it is often being championed by the leaders of the churches. These churches are often heard to make fun of what they refer to as legalism which they have replaced with licentiousness. What strikes me as being funny is that the ones who say it the most, did not grow up in anyone's church.
So how would they know what constitutes legalism? Legalism to the first group reminds of the manner in which Americans have been raised up in American, as spoiled and lawless children. And to the group that did grew up in the church, I remind them of the 119th division of the Psalms. In it King David expressed his love for God's laws, precepts, ordinances, ways, statutes, commandments...!
Those who hate God's laws, and that prefer carnality behave as such because they are yet carnally minded - they are lawbreakers who have never been subject to rules and regulations. These are a law unto themselves and they bring that same spirit with them into the church. The pendulum has swung the other way in the counterfeit pay, pray, stay (and I will add the term) 'play' churches of today!
I remind you again that the mega ministries of both Jesus Christ and the Apostles
(given all who followed them originally, as a result of miracles - and those who were struck by the miracle of Pentecost - hearing Jews speak in foreign languages, dwindled, as they continued to minister the word. By the time Jesus reached the 'cross', only a few were there to witness his crucifixion and resurrection, and even fewer showed up at his grave. Some modern day churches have decided to give the crowds what they want, something new and exciting each week, otherwise the crows might not return!
It is is not the number (small or great) that matters; for God knows those who are his - they were chosen before the foundation of the world. Similar to an easter egg hunt (poor analogy I know), but still - the ministers of God are supposed to be seeking that which was lost, and as directed by the Holy Spirit. A self-devised faith is a dangerous one - and anyone who is a member of a 'self-devised, Pay, Pray, Stay and Play faith or church', ought to run away from it as quickly as they can!
Peace & Grace
Rev. C. Solomon
It is about all about the War of the Worlds,
and what matters is which world you
end up in, a dying world, or a world with God that is devoid of death!
There is a biological world, there is a microbial world,
there is a spiritual world, and there are arguably other unknown worlds that
exist in other dimension!
The average minister on earth has no idea of what we are dealing with! And given his or her obtuse understanding that has been shaped mostly by culture, his or her idea of building the Kingdom typically consists of building memberships at churches, synaogues, mosques... or other houses or places of worship. That objective is humanistic and therefore flawed.
Paul said it best: If in this life only we have hope, we are of men most miserable!
What is important to God, and the message of the entire bible happens to be about -transitioning humans from a fallen state which will forever result in death unto a new and living hope - and the taking up of residence into a new world with God. There the old enemy "death" will have been both defeated and eliminated.
Too much emphasis has been placed on religion - however, God rejected the majority of religious sacrifices and exercises throughout history, those which all too often became a life unto themselves, and a substitute for what God really intended.
When any minister reduces Christ's objective a self-aggrandizing effort to preside over small or enlarged memberships where he or she is king; or to build larger religious barns and buildings - that minister has no idea of the seriousness of the matter. That minister fails to understand the meaning of God's plan of eternal salvation, or God's plan of transitioning reinvented humans into a better world!
Every minister's objective ought to be to permit God then to lead them - in order to facilitate a lost and dying world's conversion from this sphere into the next.
Rev. Jim Jones was a perfect example of what some are still trying to do today, and look where that experiment ended.
If all that mattters is material church why have all of the spiritual icons passed on from their human forms.
This world as we know it is not all that there is - God wants us to have all that he intended for us to have, as Jesus said, I go away to prepare a place for you that where I am there may you be also. The business that ministries should be concerned about is not commercial, it is transitional, it is transformational!
Ministers and members must return their focus to building the Kingdom of God and to abandon the current apostasy and capitalist experiments that they are currently engaged in. In order to build the Kingdom of converted people, the emphasis must be placed back on the individuals as opposed to building religion centers - all of which will be destroyed just as the Temple of Jerusalem was destroyed, on more than one occasion!
The Temple of Christ is the only temple that will stand!