Monday, March 26, 2012

UNHAPPY CHRISTIANS: WHY ARE WE SO DISCONTENTED?

  THE REAL BASIS OF CHRISTIAN DISCONTENT
A. Brother

Why are so many Christians, in fact the vast majority of us today, so discontented?  We never seem to be satisfied with where we are, or what’s happening to us.  We’re always singing “Over the Rainbow” with Judy Garland. 

“Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high,
There's a land that I heard of once in a lullaby.

Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue,
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.

Someday I'll wish upon a star and wake up where the clouds are far behind me.
Where troubles melt like lemon drops, away above the chimney tops
That's where you'll find me.

Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly.
Birds fly over the rainbow.  Why then, oh why can't I?

If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow,
why, oh why can't I?”

A very sad song, in my opinion, though beautiful and haunting.  It is the song of perennial discontent, the sad song of humanity.  Longing, searching, never finding.

We are discontented because we have not found “it”.  And we as Christians are not content because we say we have found “it” (“I’m a Christian”) but we really haven’t.  What is “it”?  What are we looking for? 

I submit to you today that we are looking for Christ Himself, and not the religious Christianity we have found.

We search for all kinds of “its” to fill the void.  We fill our lives with busy activities, goals, dreams, even good ones.  We try so hard to find the “it” that will give us that new lease on life, will answer the driving questions, will somehow make us content.  We think “it” will be found in that new house, that better car, that new piece of furniture, or changing the wall colors.  We think that if only our husband or wife would shape up and behave better, or our kids would respond better to our parenting, or we had that better education, or that better job, or that new movie to watch, maybe that will be “it”.

The world, and even the churches, give us permission and encouragement to search for all the “its” we think we need.  That better life, that richer life, that more secure life is just our there, if we’ll only trust God and work harder.  The churches even point us to God’s “promises” for a better life, picking certain Scriptures that talk about our needs, and God’s provision.  So we go on, discontented, searching, hoping for better, hoping tomorrow will be more comfortable, more affluent, more fulfilling. 

Singing the rainbow song.  Wishing, hoping, dreaming.

Yet, there is contentment to be found.  Our late brother T. Austin-Sparks said this in one of his teachings:

                                                       ******************

"When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory." (Colossians 3:4).
                                                       
“If we ask what is the very essence and heart of Christianity and the Christian life, the answer is that God has summed up and centered all things in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. This means that Christianity is not a number of things as in themselves, such as beliefs, doctrines, dogmas, practices, forms, rites, orders, or virtues. It is not salvation, regeneration, sanctification, power, life, joy, peace, etc, as things; it is just Himself, and Himself as resident within those who have received Him as Who and What He is. He is the total of all that is necessary for God's glory and satisfaction, for which we were created. Nothing can be had or known as an "it", apart from the Person. If we have Him and live by Him, we have all.”  
                                                                                                                            --T. Austin-Sparks

                                                       *****************

Seek Christ today, not Christian living, or church life, or any other good “it”.  Leave your momentary and light distractions, your worries, your cares.  Let Christ bring His power and His love into your life.  Let Jesus Christ be your “it”.  He is the Person, and we have all in Him we will ever need.

Here is what Christ says to us today:

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’
or, ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
For the pagans run after all these things,
and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.”
Matt.6:31-33

Christ means what He says.  We are ordered, and it is not optional, to leave our pursuits of these things.  We must seek Jesus Christ first, and His Kingdom, and His righteousness.  We must do this, or risk living our lives in the continued futility of chasing “it”. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

SEDUCING THE UNSTABLE: CHRISTIANS EXPLOITED BY GREED AND CORRUPTION.

SEDUCED
A. Brother

“But there were false prophets among the people,
just as there will be false teachers among you….
Many will follow their shameful ways and
 will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 
In their greed these teachers will exploit you
with stories they have made up…
With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning;
they seduce the unstable;
they are experts in greed—an accursed brood!” 
--2 Peter 2:1-3,14


“Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this,
be on your guard so that you may not be carried away
by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.
But grow in the grace and knowledge
of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To Him be glory both now and forever!  Amen.
--2 Peter 3:17,18


            Gradually, the churches in affluent America have been seduced into believing and practicing religion that actually runs counter to the truth of the Scripture.  So we bring the Way of Truth into disrepute.  We have been drawn away from the simplicity of the good news of Christ, and have followed lawless men into error.  We have lost our secure position in the Lord Jesus, and have followed the ways of the world, becoming like the world, and so losing the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.
            This was predicted, and should not come as a surprise.  The Apostles and prophets spoke of it, and warned us repeatedly about it.  Why would we be shocked that the affluence of America has spawned false religion among Christians? 
            The typical American Christian today is in nearly every way a derivative of the world.  Except for a few outward differences, such as going to church once or twice  a week, or reading a Christian book, or having a short devotional in the morning, the average “Christian” appears to be, and is, a copy of the average nonbeliever. 
            The nonbeliever might drink more alcohol, though many who claim Christ drink plenty of alcohol; or the nonbeliever might watch more filthy movies which glorify wrong attitudes toward God and people, though many who claim Christ watch plenty of these movies and television shows; or the nonbeliever might spend his money selfishly on himself and his pursuit of pleasure, though many who claim Christ spend their money on themselves and their pursuits of pleasure; or the nonbeliever might concentrate on creating the lifestyle he wants and desires and not have any investment in the Kingdom of God, though many who claim Christ concentrate on creating the lifestyle they want and think that by putting some money into the church coffers they have an investment in the Kingdom of God. 
            Having grown up in the evangelical churches of America, and being steeped in their traditions and their ways, I have been called by God to speak out on His behalf against the waywardness and apostasy of our current generation and the past generations that have brought us to this shameful point.
            How lost are we?
            We are so lost that we don’t know we’re lost.
            Our self-congratulatory religion--so full of pride at our fine achievements, so full of boasting about men, and the ideas and plans of men—is a stench in the nostrils of the Lord who called us.  Our entire so-called “Christian” subculture reeks of our own wonderfulness—how cool we think we are—and how well we think we’re doing things for God.
            Yet we are spiritually poor, blind and naked.
            We are to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We are to be firmly rooted and grounded in Christ, and to live as Christ lived, for God and for others, not for self.  We are to be willing to give up our very lives to follow Jesus, standing against the world and its way, calling this adulterous and lost generation to God; yet we have compromised so much that the world can’t distinguish anything about Jesus Christ in us. 
            We have not begun right, so we haven’t been able to live right.  We don’t even know what it means to be a “Christian,” so how can we live as true followers of Jesus?
            There is no resemblance between the life of Christ as exemplified by Paul, Peter, John, James, Barnabas, Stephen, Philip, Timothy, Silas, Priscilla, Aquila, or any of the other New Testament believers, and the life we live in modern America as so-called Christians.
            We haven’t begun with Christ at all.  We have adopted a faith in faith, a faith in our ‘belief system,’ not a faith in Christ.  We have faith in our religion, in being part of a big thing called Christianity, with its huge church system, and cultural standards.
            We have not stepped over any threshold into a New Life, and become New Creations in Christ.  We are not required to abandon our worldly ways, and to give up our sinful practices, or our pleasure-seeking self-driven lives.  We are now required only to “receive Christ as our personal Savior” and begin centering our lives around church attendance and following the right traditions that Christians have adopted over the centuries. 
            We can’t of course participate in certain sins, unless we do them covertly.  The really bad ones must be given up, such as drunkenness, and being gay, and having abortions, and having sex outside marriage.  However, the acceptable sins, such as greed, covetousness, lust, pride, love of self, and many other manifestations of the spirit of this age, come through loud and clear among so-called believers.
            Where is the Body of Christ?  Where is the love among the brethren?  Where are those who lay down their lives for one another as Jesus commanded, giving up all worldly preoccupations to build up their brothers in the faith?  Where are the men and women and children who hate their own lives in this world, in order to find life with Christ, carrying their crosses, going with Him outside the camp, as outcasts and aliens, to suffer with Him?  Where are those who know Christ as a Friend, and an Older Brother, the first born among many brothers?  Where are those who say to the stranger, “Come in, my house is yours?”  Where are those who love enough to give up their own comfort for those in need, and who don’t just give out of their excess?
            Where are the men and women who will follow the pattern of the life of the Body of Christ given us in Acts, to pursue being of one heart and mind with others who follow Christ, and to sell what we possess to meet the needs of our brothers?  Who gives a job and help to their brothers in need when it is in their power to do it?  Who gives a hurting Christian family their second home to live in while they get on their feet?  Who sells houses or land to meet the needs of the brother next door or down the street, instead of sending a check overseas to help an unknown person in a far country while the brother they can see here is in agony?  Who doesn’t say, “Be warmed and filled” to his brother in need?
            Who gives the cup of water to the least of Christ’s followers, and so fulfills His purposes on the earth?  Who in our affluent and comfortable Christian subculture takes the time to weep with those who weep, and to stay alongside his brother in suffering and pain until together we make it better?  Who lifts his brother up when he falls, just because he loves him?  Who washes the feet of his brethren as Jesus did, doing unasked for acts of kindness and love for him?  Who rescues his brother from sin, and his own foolishness, by loving him back into the fold?  Who forgives, who loves, who is unselfish, who lays down career and structured time frames and plans, goals and dreams for his brother and for Christ?  Who goes out at night, in a storm, on foot, through the mountains, to rescue that one lost sheep who has gone astray?
            Where are the men and women who would abandon their successful “ministries” to love like this?  Where are the men and women who claim to be of God, who live like Jesus?  Where are the leaders among us who claim no places of honor at banquets, and who would rather be with the poor, the lame, the outcast, the sinners in the gutter, than the rich, the comfortable, the successful people who claim Christ’s Name?  Where are the leaders who would share their very lives instead of just a well-crafted sermon with their people, getting down into the trenches with them each day to make sure they were understanding and living the true gospel?  Where are the leaders who would walk down dusty paths to a river where the women were gathered washing clothes, just to share with them the Kingdom of God, and to do this day after day until many came to Christ?  Where are the men and women among us who would give up their entitled lifestyles as leaders in the churches to walk with Christ on the narrow road, denying themselves these privileges as Paul did, so that there would be nothing to boast about but the love and power of Jesus?
            Who will follow Jesus to the death?
            Do we really think that the life we’re living for Him now is preparing us for our own crucifixion?  When we have faltered on open ground, how do we expect to do well in the thickets of the Jordan?  When we have trouble going without a latte, how will we face true deprivation for Christ’s sake?  When we can’t imagine being without a large, well-produced and choreographed worship service, what will happen when our big churches are shut down, and we’re forced to meet quietly, without lights, camera and action?  When we have trouble remembering to read our Bible when there is no opposition, how do we expect to persevere in hungering for the Word when it is denied us?  When we are spoon-fed now by the words of others, how will we survive when it is just the Holy Spirit and God’s Word inside us to nurture and sustain us?
            What has happened to God’s people, to lead them so far down the path of self-delusion?
            They have abandoned the true faith for a false religion, led by false teachers who don’t teach what Scripture teaches, and who don’t example lives that are like the life of Jesus or the original apostles and disciples.  Scripture teaches us clearly about all the things I’ve mentioned in this teaching.  Everywhere we look in the Old Testament and the New Testament, the Word speaks to us clearly about these basics of following the Lord.
            Yet we ignore the Word, and pursue our own selfish interests.
            Why do we think Paul and Peter and Jude and John gave us such life and death instruction about false teachers, and being led astray by ideas and plans that are not of the Lord, though they appear religious?
            Because they saw it already coming into the ekklesia, the called out to be together people of God, even back then.  Immediately the wolves gathered.  From among their own people came men and women who began teaching lies, and ignoring the Way.  The apostles and true disciples were called to lives of love, righteousness and self-sacrifice, and yet immediately there were those saying as they do today—“Come on, Jesus didn’t really mean that.  If he had, nobody would follow Him!”  There were those wolves ready to pounce on the na├»ve and foolish, to lead them astray into a comfortable, smooth, cool Christianity, which didn’t make those impossible demands.  This nice Christian religion allowed them to live lives that looked a lot like the world, but gave them the comfort and security of knowing they had “Jesus as their personal Savior” to take them all to heaven when they died.
            So, we ask again, how has this happened to us, and what can we do about it?
            It happened because over the generations, more and more of man’s traditions and his religious ways have been substituted for the simple Truth of Scripture about what it means to follow Jesus.  Each generation in America has accepted additional lies, and has bought into them.
            What to do?
            Christ calls us to repent of these sins of presumption, and to start fresh in His Word, finding out what it means to be His disciple on the Narrow Road.
            We need to feed on His Word, letting the Holy Spirit teach us, as instructed in the Word of God.  We need to stop following leaders who don’t example Christ’s life of self-denial and self-sacrifice, and become Jesus-Followers ourselves, whether other so-called Christians continue in their worldly ways or not.
            We must rely completely on the Lord Jesus to teach us through His Word, and ally ourselves with other brothers and sisters who want to live lives of love and self-denial, lives full of the Holy Spirit and power.
            We must begin understanding the Word of God, and quit ignoring all the passages that our leaders ignore or water down.  Jesus said many hard things, but they were the Truth, and many stopped following Him when He revealed the true meaning of discipleship. 
            So—many today will fall away on account of the Stone which the builders rejected.  Many today will stumble over the Rock which makes them fall.  Many around you want only the easy Jesus they’ve been taught—you know, the “personal Savior” who’s kind of like a personal spiritual valet—getting you things when you need Him, but making no demands of you, who stays in the shadows quietly and is a good servant.

            But it was the Lord Jesus Christ, head of the ekklesia, God’s called out to be together people, who said:

            “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.  As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.  That is why the world hates you.  Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’  If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.  If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.  They will treat you this way because of My Name, for they do not know the One who sent Me.”  --John 15:18-21

          Is this passage part of your arsenal of life today?  Is it true of you?  Does the world hate you, or does the world think you’re a pretty good person who just happens to have a “personal Savior” that doesn’t intrude on anyone else’s space? 
            Are you a sold-out slave to Jesus, who loves Him so much you can’t bear the thought of spending one minute without Him?  Are you His friend, who wouldn’t think of compromising one Word that comes out of His mouth?  Do you love Jesus and obey His Word, and is that the focus of your life?  Do you believe, truly believe, that the Body of Christ, the people of God, are your family now, and that you must do anything you can to help them, to build them up in the faith, to feed and clothe them, to share your very life with them?  Do you love Christ above your job, your home, your lifestyle?  Will you give it up to live without worldly goals and ambitions, and be led by the Spirit daily?  Are you willing to literally give up all you have to follow Jesus?
            You must get on the Narrow Road to true discipleship, or be lost with the multitudes of religious pretenders.
           
           
           
            

Sunday, March 18, 2012

BE LIKE STEPHEN: MAKING THE RIGHT KIND OF TROUBLE

THE TROUBLEMAKERS
A. Brother

“But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit,
looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God,
and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man
standing at the right hand of God.”
At this they covered their ears and,
yelling at the top of their voices, they all
rushed at him, dragged him out of the city
and began to stone him.”
Acts 7:55-58

When a man gets a full vision of Christ, and has his eyes opened to who Christ really is, and then seeks to communicate that fullness to others, he will run into trouble, and create much opposition.  Here we have that happening.  Stephen had testified to the full message of Christ in front of the religious establishment of his day, and he was rewarded by being dragged outside the city walls and stoned by a large crowd of men.

When any of us begins truly seeking to have his eyes opened to this fullness of life in Christ, and it begins happening, Christ in us will overflow to others, and the truth will often offend and even infuriate those who do not see.  It happened throughout Scripture, and it will happen to those today who make it their sole aim in life to know Christ, the fellowship of his suffering, the power of his resurrection.

My heart is grieving this morning over the state of the Body of Christ.  Not because I choose to be critical, or because I am legalistically imposing the measure of Scripture upon our current modes and methods of doing church.  But because I see the people of God like Jesus saw the Jews in His days among them, and wept.  I was raised in these churches, and spent many years trying to live the life they represented was the Christian life.  The Spirit of God grieves today at the hardness of our hearts, and the proud insistence that we know how to do everything Christian in the best way. 

God’s people in our modern, affluent society are like sheep without a Shepherd.  Running to this man or that man who can speak well, or has written some landmark book about the Christian life.  Running after this or that new method, or clever program, or way of doing church that seems to breathe something new into their spiritual walks.

Scripture points back to Christ Himself, who is not only our Savior and Lord, but whose Life must be in us, whose Eyes must illuminate Truth to us, whose Mind must open us up to His fullness.  Our hearts must beat to the drum of His love in our chests.  This is what Jesus taught, that we are the branches to His Vine, and the Father the source of all nourishment.  That remaining in Him is the essential, and all other things are optional.

So why do we concentrate on the optional?

Today we have a plethora of pulchritudinous programming going on among Christians.  (Sorry for the cheesy PPP acronym).  That means a complete array of attractive systems for practicing and distributing the gospel.  The church has become like a spiritual candy store, holding out sweets and treats, hoping to lure people into attending. 

Come here to church because we have so many services of different worship styles to meet your needs.  Come here and enjoy cappuccinos while you fellowship after worship.  Does your back get tired while meeting together?  Can’t see or hear the presentation very well?  No problem, we’ve installed expensive theatre-style seats and fabulous sound systems so you can concentrate on hearing the music and viewing the sermon in total comfort.  The Pastor is on a huge screen or multiple screens around the room so you can feel like you’re actually in a more intimate, personal setting. 

Tired of traditions that bore you?  No worries, I feel you, we’ve done away with the things that take too much time and effort.  Communion is only hassled with on occasion, and then with little cups and tiny wafers, and love feasts among believers are a thing of the past. 

Remember how Paul used to speak on and on to those early believers, cramming in Truth until late at night, meeting in homes day after day, gathering anytime they could find to be together, hungry for the Word, hungry for the Spirit to work, thirsting after righteousness like it was Life itself?  Forget about it!  We don’t need all that. 

We have schedules to keep, and people to see, and business to conduct, and lives to live out in the world.  We’ve figured out how to do both!  Just keep your appointment with God in our services once or twice a week, or if you’re really zealous, meet for a Bible study, too.  That will set you on fire.

The reason we’ve settled for this type of Country-Club Christianity is that we have not understood the Christ-life. 

We have been taught wrongly, by men who have only known the casual, easy gospel of modern, affluent religion, instead of the radical, revolutionary, life-changing, outside the city gates, stir-up-opposition-everywhere-you-go, stumbling-block, hate-inducing, cliff-edge, religion-destroying, faith- and love-filled Gospel of Christ that God absolutely will not allow to be contained in man-made systems or programs.

You can be a member of the Christian Country Club set, or you can be a member of the Body of Christ.  There is no middle ground.  From the birth of the Body, men have sought to impose their own religious mind-sets upon it, and have succeeded in the form of the huge Christian denominations and organizations throughout history. 

The dynamic ekklesia, Christ’s church, which originally meant the “called out to be together” people of God, has been hijacked by religionEvery day more Christians get together and decide they want to form another group, or build another building to meet their needs.  Every day Christians make another list of options they want in their religion.  Every day Christians miss the simplicity of Christ, and His love and power, in favor of building another platform from which to proclaim an easy gospel.  With their list of choice options, they have managed to derail the Spirit of God from reaching men.  Like the Pharisees, they keep others out of the Kingdom as they are keeping themselves out.

The point is this:  Stephen saw what we must see.

Christ is all, and is our focus.  Not our methods and man-made options.  Not our forms of doing church.  We don’t worry about that.  We seek Christ, and He seeks us.  We die, He lives.  Individually and corporately.  Christ leads us by His Spirit, and dictates what we do and how we do it. 

Today, Christ may do this.  Tomorrow He may do that.  Just as He did with His disciples, He is busy doing the Father’s work, and will not be pinned down as to where or how He’ll be doing it.  He looks for needs, and He responds.  Today He is in Bethany, tomorrow in Cana of Galilee, the next day in Jerusalem.  Today He’s healing people, tomorrow preaching from a hilltop, the next day He’s confronting the religious leaders.  He is ever meeting where two or three of us are gathered together.  He is not bound by our calendars and schedules.  And He would have us be more responsive and flexible, open to the Spirit of God to respond to one another and to His prompting.  Many of our modern churches are just as hide-bound and fixed in their ways as the highly liturgical churches they criticize.  They just have different traditions.   

This dying to the Old Man and living to Christ in the New Man is a messy, hard, can’t-be-contained-in-traditions thing.  No carefully-programmed new church service format or electronic gadget is going to make this happen, or, more tragically, even allow this to happen.  There is no room in our carefully-scripted lives for God to move.

One thing is certain.  If you and I have the explosive, uncontainable Spirit of God in us, we will be like Stephen.  Seeing clearly the Christ we love and serve, and speaking of Him to whoever asks, no matter the consequences.  There is no room for compromise in the Kingdom of God.  We love and serve Christ, without any option.  That is the gospel, the good news of the Kingdom.  This hard, beautiful and ultimately impossible-without-God gospel that is Christ in us.

Like our Lord Jesus Christ, like Stephen, like a host of others including many around the world today, when we stand and tell the Truth from Scripture many will oppose us.  The fury of the oppressor, religious or pagan, has the same result.  The stoning of the one who sees.  The shooting of the Messenger.  The eradication or excommunication of the offender. 

Be ready, brother or sister, if you seek Christ in all His fullness.  He will uphold you.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

BUY GOLD FROM ME SO YOU CAN BECOME RICH.

THE GOLD STANDARD
A. Brother

“In the fifth year of King Rehoboam,
Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem.
He carried off the treasures of the temple of the Lord
and the treasures of the royal palace.
He took everything, including all the gold shields
Solomon had made.  So King Rehoboam made
bronze shields to replace them and assigned these
to the commanders of the guard on duty
at the entrance of the royal palace.
Whenever the king went to the Lord’s temple,
the guards bore the shields, and afterward
they returned them to the guardroom.”
1 Kings 14:25-28

          This is the picture God gives us today of our spiritual condition. 

          Most who claim to be “Christians” have become captured and carried off by the world and are part of this earthly and carnal kingdom.  As Shishak here carried off the gold God had created through Solomon, His chosen King (the type of Christ in this example) so our enemy, Satan, has stolen into the Temple and carried off God’s gold, His chosen people, and carried them to Egypt.  Their hearts are in Egypt.  Their lives are entwined with the world, and they are in love with the culture and their place in it.

          All day, every day, God’s chosen seek the peace and prosperity of the culture of Egypt, padding their nests, fortifying their own places, and hoping to stay safe within its borders.

          In the meantime, the leaders of God’s people (represented here by King Rehoboam of Judah) pretend nothing is different.  They have crafted bronze shields, which are but fake, flimsy, worthless imitations of the gold shields wrought at God’s direction.  The temple functions go on, but the Spirit that God put in the gold shields is gone.  His presence is not in the bronze.  It is a sham, like this embarrassing sham carried on by King Rehoboam.

          Do we think that God is fooled by our pretense?  Is He a man, that we can disguise ourselves and gain what we want without obedience to His Word?

          We claim Scripture, and quote Scripture, as if it is a pagan incantation, whose power can be waved like a wand and used to conjure up what we want and need.  We speak peace, hoping to create peace where there is no peace.  We claim this and that promise, hoping God will fulfill our dreams to become rich in this world, or at least to be comfortable and at ease on our couches.  The gold we want is here in Egypt, but God’s gold standard for us, the rich life of Christ in our hearts and lives, is gone.  We don’t even miss it, because we are so busy chasing after Egypt’s favor. 

          Brothers, God’s gold is here.  He is Christ.  The gold standard of God is life in Christ, set apart from this world.  But it is only for those who would follow Jesus, our Lord, on the narrow road of true salvation. 

          Are you willing to die to your own place in this world today?  Are you willing to go outside the walls of Egypt, across the burning deserts of Sinai, to gain the Promised Land of new life in Christ?  Are you willing to give up trying to save your life here, in order to gain Christ?  Will you lose your life in order to find it? 

          God’s basic gold standard has never changed and never will. God requires that we enter through the narrow gate, who is Christ, and He never allows anyone to bring anything through the gate that is not of Him. 

          Bronze is not acceptable.  Christ offers us His gold today.

“I counsel you to buy from me gold refined
in the fire, so you can become rich;
and white clothes to wear, so you can
cover your shameful nakedness;
and salve to put on your eyes
so you can see.
Those whom I love
I rebuke and discipline.
So be earnest and repent.”
Rev. 3:18,19

          These words were spoken by Christ to His churches, not to the world.  In this prophetic word, we see ourselves today.  Trying to appear rich and wonderful, as if we are carrying on the temple worship as it has always been decreed.  Yet it is a sham.  Our huge and televised services, our loud worship, our full calendars that keep us busy with activities, these are all for ourselves.

          Like the church in Laodicea we are “wretched, poor, pitiful, blind and naked.”
Rev. 3:17

          God will discipline us because He loves us too much to allow this to continue.  Be earnest today, and repent, He says, because He is coming, and His coming will not be delayed.  Be ready to meet Him with golden lamps burning, which are fueled by the Spirit of God in us, and the white robes of a pure Christ-life adorning our bodies, and our eyes fully open to the riches of Christ through the Word of God and the Spirit of God.

          Egypt has nothing to offer.  The tombs of the Pharaohs testify to that.  Dry, sad, desiccated, lifeless; their treasures lying with their dead bodies under tons of sand.  The promises of Egypt lie with them.  Do not be led astray by the enemy.

          Christ in us is the hope of glory.  He is our gold standard.  In Him we are heirs of a Kingdom that cannot and will not die or be shaken.  Do not be fooled by imitations.

         

          

Monday, March 5, 2012

RELIGION: TAKING TRAINLOADS TO HELL

EVEN THE DEVILS HAVE RELIGION
A. Brother

“Then they asked Him,
‘What must we do to do the works God requires?’ 
Jesus answered,
‘The work of God is this:
to believe in the One He has sent.’”
John 6:28

            The religious want religious answers.  This answer from the lips of the Son of God did not satisfy the religious then, and it will not satisfy you if you want religion now.

          Religion seeks but never finds, because religion rejoices in its own activities, and in the search itself.  Religion wants prescriptions, and lists, and tasks.  Religion wants a clear outline of “minimum standards”. 
          Religion desires a physical house of worship and a creed and an organization.  Religion desires structure and rules. 
          Religion is never the answer, because religion exists to create more structure, and more requirements, and sustains itself through order and repetition. 
          The religious want to do things religiously, which simply means to do something over and over to earn a feeling of absolution or worthiness. 
          The religions of the world exist by teaching that without their religious structure and adherence to their many requirements, no man can know God.
          Religion is what people get when they get what they want. 
          Jesus didn’t come to give what people want, but rather what they need, and what they must have if they would inherit eternal life with God the Father.

          Religion kills.  Religion imprisons.  Religion deceives.  Religion takes people to hell by the trainload.  All man-made religious structures stand worthless and condemned since Christ.          
          The ekklesia of God, the Holy Nation, the Household of God, the Family of God, His Treasured Possession, is made up, not of those who seek religion or religious experience, but those who believe in Jesus with a saving belief, an empowered belief that comes when God the Father draws a person to Jesus.  Nobody can be part of this true Body of Christ on earth except he or she be drawn by the Father.  These called and chosen know Jesus’ voice, and will not follow religion, or any other shepherd.  His sheep know Him, and follow Him only, doing the things He does, having His mind, being led and empowered by His Spirit.
          Does any of this sound like your religion?  If you list your religion as Christianity, and say you are a believer in Jesus because you go to a Christian church building and participate in the activities and services, and because you sometimes read your Bible and even pray, and that makes it so, then you may be entirely deceived, as the religious Jews were in their day.  If you think you are saved because you believe in the “basic principles and precepts” of the Bible, and believe that Jesus is the Christ, please listen. 
          Perhaps your deep discontent, which you express to nobody but your own inner self, is because you know you are not truly experiencing the Christ-life, and abiding in Christ, but are just being a religious ‘Christian’!
          Many of us have been raised in this religion.  Many of us were caught in this religious trap.  Many of us are hearing the voice of Christ, the Word of Christ, for the first time, calling us out from this empty life of observance and spectatorship. 
          Come with us on the only adventure worth having in this life, the Life of Christ lived in us, the fullness of Christ growing in us, the Way, the Truth, and the Life lived out through us.
          If you truly believe, your life will be Christ’s, and He will live in you, and His Spirit will empower you to live a life of love and sacrifice for others as Jesus did.    Remember, even the devils have religion!




LATEST NEWS

A. BROTHER'S FIRST BOOK RELEASED. "EVEN THE DEVILS HAVE RELIGION". 100 Collected Prophetic Words from A. Brother.

For the first time, A. Brother's messages are being compiled in a series of books.  These will be released periodically over the coming ...