Bible Lesson 114

IN A CHURCH; BUT NOT OF THE CHURCH

“WHEN THE SON OF MAN COMES, WILL HE REALLY FIND FAITH ON THE EARTH?”
Luke 18:8b

“Careless Christians vaccinate their friends against the gospel. They give them just enough of a dose that they never catch a case.” Moishe Rosen (Jews for Jesus).

In this lesson, we will take a close look at where we are in the churches of America. I believe that we are no longer capable of being what Jesus Christ spoke of when, He said there in Matthew chapter 16 and verses 13-19, Jesus spoke of the faith of Peter and said ”..Flesh and blood have not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’

From the first mention of the church, Jesus says that it is His church and that He will build it and it would be a church that the gates of hell would not prevail against. By any stretch of the imagination, can we say that what Jesus said His church would be like, looks or sounds like the visible church of our day’ Jesus said clearly that the foundation of His church would be Faith that believed in the Jesus that was the Messiah, the promised one, the Son of the living God and that what His church would be about would have the blessings of heaven and would mimic God’s will in all that they did, and His church would be victorious over the devil and his kingdom.

I don’t know about you but I do not see that reflected in the visible church of our day. What I do see, when I look at the church today, is a reflection of its community and its world. Unlike Peter, most of today’s church does not know Jesus. They have decided that Jesus was surely a good man who was perhaps a prophet but they do not know His commandments and they are certainly not going to obey them (John 14:15, 21-24). We have multitudes in our many denominational and institutionalized churches, but multitudes are people who are in ‘a’ church, are not in ‘The Church’.

How can that be’.that people who regularly attend a church, would not be in ‘the’ church’ Well, the answer is that ‘The’ Church belongs to Christ and Christ is not limited to any particular denomination.

The true church is made up of people who have experienced Biblical salvation, which includes election before the foundation of the world, that effectual call of God upon the heart, mind, and life of the person who is to be saved, this call is where God quickens the lost person and brings them from death to life (separation from God to eternal life), the new birth and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit ( Ephesians 1:3-6; Romans 8:30; Ephesians 2:1; Ephesians 1:13; Ephesians 2:10).

That’s pretty much God’s way of salvation for any who are saved, that is if we are to believe the Bible. The new way that so many of the visible churches of our day has devised to ‘save’ people is to, have them walk an aisle, shake a preacher’s hand and profess a Jesus that most of them never come to know and be baptized in that churches pool. Now, can you see the difference’ On the one hand you have the Creator, our Sovereign God who works in and on the person whom He alone can save. That Work of God takes a sinner, bound for hell, and recreates them in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:10).

This new creature will walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4). This new creature who is ‘In Christ’ will be free of sin, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, and all of the old things that hindered them from knowing God have been taken away by God (2nd Corinthians 5:17), and their names are now written down in heaven (Luke 10:20). How in the world we could have been led off the paths of God and made to believe that by simply joining one of the visible churches of our day, means that we are saved is beyond me. God is coming back, in Christ, and He is not coming this time to suffer and offer reconciliation, but rather He is coming back in His wrath to judge and condemn all those who have missed the Biblical mark (Revelation 19:14-15). The visible church has become too comfortable with itself and its ideas about what true church consists of.

We seem to think that God didn’t intend to set down absolutes in His Word the Bible, so we feel no compunction about turning his precepts and commandments upside down as we slide happily along with our little numbers game. It has turned out to be a game about which denomination can accumulate the most church members; and as far as I understand the Bible, God in the flesh, our Savior Jesus Christ was not concerned with numbers (Matthew 7:13-14; John 6:48-69). Christ came to save sinners from their sin, He did not come to create groups of sinners who would feel good about their precious sin.

Where are we at in the world of religion today’ Have we become so tolerant and politically correct that we approve of Muslims and their Mosques being built to corrupt our children and lead them away from the only mediator between God and man, who is Jesus Christ’ Does the Bible teach us to do that’ If you answered yes, you simply do not know our God and His Word. Americans should live amid other cults and so-called religions but we should never allow them to mask or smother Christianity. If you think otherwise look at what God said to the Hebrew nation when it crossed the Jordan and went into the promised land (Deuteronomy 7:1-5; Joshua 6:21); it was not that they were to be tolerant of other religions and the people who belonged to those religions, instead, they were to do away with them and their places of worship.

Now, under grace, we vote for politicians who are to make laws to ensure that Christianity is not set aside or hindered by those who have different views. If America has reached the point that the pagans can outvote God’s people, then so be it; but I don’t believe we are that disjointed, and if we are, we need to examine who we vote for. When we elect a president that has stated that he was a Muslim, and certainly acts as if he is, we are getting what we paid for. Shame on America because we have become so weak and milk-toast that we desert our God the only source of hope and help that we have. The American news networks are probably the greatest hindrance and liability that exists in any country today. They are constantly printing and speaking things that are either outright lies are at least in some way slanted at making us think that everything is alright.

They state things as fact that are not even close to being true. They write and speak too often in ways that make the simple who just go with the flow, think that we must accept and tolerate things that will eventually bring this country to its knees. Currently, they are on a mission to make us think that we should allow a mosque to be built near ground zero of the World Trade Center tragedy. That is the most stupid idea that fools in our government and our midst have ever devised. A mosque in any community in this country is simply a place that will suck up those who are troubled or not very smart, people who have had no direction or discipline in their childhood, to further damage the integrity and the moral qualities of America. America was founded by Christians, not Muslims!

America has prospered because those founders established a workable charter that reflected Christian principles in its founding documents and laws. Muslims have benefited from having a place like America to come to, but they have been eternally condemned by the lack of people who will convince them that they need to leave that religion and come to the cross of Jesus Christ for salvation. I’m sure some call themselves Muslims or Islamists, who are fine people with good hearts, but that is not what makes a Christian! In all probability, most of those who are willing to tolerate his views call themselves Christians, but there cannot be a melding of Islam and Christianity. If that sounds intolerant then you have finally gotten the idea. God will not tolerate anything or anyone who does not know and obey His commandments. Yes they say that they serve God but their God is like the God of so many of our church members today, it is a God that has been made up, a God that is no God at all. There is only one God and that God is the God of the Bible, not the god of the Quran. That religion began about 600 years after the cross of Christ and what their founder did was to take parts of the Bible and mix it with gibberish and make the Quran. Now for you who can tolerate that kind of thing, I would say that you are making a serious mistake but you certainly have the right to go to hell if that sounds good to you.

Again, let me restate that those who have bought into Christianity by joining some church group and you are in a church but not of the true church, you might be better off if you belong to one of the Islamic groups. The call of God is for and to those who know themselves to be sinners and desire forgiveness and reconciliation to their Creator, Sustainer, and Savior, none others need to apply. True Christians are saved by Grace through Faith in Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God and who came from heaven, took on the form and flesh of mankind and died to redeem those who would obey Him. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God (The Bible), and salvation results when God brings a sinner dead in trespass and sin to Spiritual life and allows them to repent after showing godly sorrow, and having the old nature of sin put to death and becoming a new creature with the old things passed away and all things become new (Romans 8:30; Ephesians 2:8-9; Ephesians 2:1; John 3:16-21; Ephesians 2:10; 2nd Corinthians 5:17).

Contrary to what the Islamists believe our God Jehovah, does not call His people to die so that they can have 72 virgins in paradise, our God calls his people to live and glorify Him by the way that we live. Now, to my knowledge, the Muslims do not glorify whoever they worship but rather trade life here for a harem someplace else. Neither do those who are simply church members somewhere glorify Jehovah by claiming to be Christians. You either are a Christian or you might as well be a Muslim. I am called of God to preach and teach the truth of the Word of God, the Bible. I am not called to make any sinner feel good about his sin or to make God acceptable to the sinner. I am called to teach the truth of the Word so that God will save the souls He calls to salvation. I have nothing to do with your salvation and did not have anything to do with my own. Salvation belongs to God and God alone saves or condemns those that He will. If that does not suit you, then you will have to spend your eternal life in hell.

I have dealt with Islam to some extent in previous paragraphs of this lesson but I did so to warn the simple about that cult or religion. My main thrust in this lesson is to warn those who have allowed the institutional churches of our day to lull them into a false peace about their souls. You all know that the church long ago began to seek ‘nickels and noses’ instead of seeking men’s souls. The visible church decided that God takes too long to produce true salvation, so the church and denominations changed God’s mind (or they thought they did) and the church then went into business for itself. The institutional church is for the most part dominated by the spirit of success according to worldly standards. The visible church wanted to grow so it could build great edifices and have huge budgets that they used for purposes that probably do not glorify God. It did not influence only the mega-church groups, but it also affected the hearts and minds of small groups. The church became about numbers of people and the bottom line and many churches have sat upon great savings accounts while the community it was supposed to serve went to hell in a handbasket.

Listen to me now’.You may be in ‘a’ church but not be part of ‘the’ church! The true church of God is made up of all those who have been called out of sin by the Father and given the new birth that assures that they can live that new life. It is an invisible church that is enrolled on the list that only God can know for sure. It is not made up of the institutional church that currently says that it holds the true church. Anyone with half a wit and one eye could see and know that the visible church of our day is simply a mixed multitude that has gathered for the most part to be associated with like-minded people. The true church is in the body of Christ, and they have one focus and one purpose and that purpose is to glorify God and bring in the people who will make up God’s Kingdom. Now, I don’t believe that God has any children that do not know Him and know His revelation of Himself to man. How can we have so many professing Christians who do not even have a world- view’ According to a study by the Barna Research Group, only 19% of professing born again Christians have and live by a Biblical worldview. I have always tried to preach that, a Christian is not just a sinner with his brains kicked out. A Christian is a new creature with the mind of Christ; they are complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. They have sacrificed their bodies to God, and God is working in them both to will and to do of His good pleasure (Ephesians 2:10; 2nd Corinthians 5:17; 2nd Timothy 3:16-17; Romans 12:1-2; Philippians 2:13).

Sadly, too many of the visible churches and their leaders have begun to believe that all that matters to God is that they can muster a group of lost people every Sunday, that will sit and hear their bland oratory. We are dealing with institutionalized trickery, and don’t even seem to be aware of it. How is that we have begun to identify as what we call the church, those who do not know how they were saved, why they were saved and have no idea about witness to others. We have a great number of people counted as Christians who are in ‘A’ church; but not a member of ‘The’ Church. Every Christian’s job is to love God and enjoy Him forever. We are called to tell others the good news of the gospel, which incidentally the church leaders must teach the baby Christians how to be mature and complete; before they are sent out to teach others (2nd Corinthians 5:20). Most churches and congregations that I am aware of have begun to substitute Sunday school for real mentoring. We put our young children and our young believers in a Sunday school that is all too often taught by some well-meaning person who has no real idea about the Bible. They tell little stories that sometimes even come close to being the truth as God has established it, but more than often Sunday school is where we get our misunderstanding of the Bible. It takes a qualified teacher to teach others to understand the Word and the Will of God.

By now, some of you who will read this lesson will ask the question, ‘Are we that far off of the truth” Sadly, I must respond that we are! How else can we explain the fact that you can stand in the door of one church and speak almost in conversational tones with someone in the door of another’ In the words of the old preacher Vance Havner, ‘we are many but we are not much’! Would it surprise you to know that there are reportedly 360,000 churches in the United States. That my friends are a lot of churches: however, we do not seem to be making much impact for God. The reason that we are not is that we have neglected the Word and the Will of the God of the Bible. Now, if you think I am off the right track and that I am not correct in what I am saying, pick any subject in the Bible and attempt to get most church members to talk to you about it. About all the average church member in our day knows about the Bible is John 3:16, and most of them do not understand that verse since they take it out of context. You cannot understand John 3:16 unless you read and understand it in the context of verses 17-21. Too many church members have been taught that if they can find a verse of scripture that makes them feel good about their lives that they can claim it without knowing what the rest of the Bible has to say about that verse.

As a result of our defection from the Word of God, we have left off serving the God of the Word. The number of professing Christians has dropped over the last few years. Notice now, I said the number of professing Christians has dropped over the past few years. That tells me that even those who were tricked into professing Christ as their savior cannot be kept happy by cheap grace preaching. One of our problems is that we have come so far down the line from being Christians because we have substituted denominations for our religion. I have nothing against denominations’.at least when we can find room in our denominations for all those who are the Children of God.

One of the greatest problems for us is that we do not believe what little we know about the Bible. If we did there would be more people out sharing the love of God than there are. We have made the Great Commission the Great Omission. We have come to believe that if we pass some sinner in the street and pat them on the back and invite them to our Sunday service, we have witnessed. We think that by telling everyone we meet that God loves them and so do we, that we have witnessed. We even think that by going to church every Sunday we have witnessed’.but God does not count that as a witness. He said that as we live our daily lives we are to go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Teaching them to obey all things that Christ has commanded you. If you think that is not correct then go to Matthew 28:19-20 and read it for yourselves. We have put too much emphasis on belief and not enough on doing what we believe. The only answer to our problem will be a huge one; because we will have to begin to be men and women enough to be able to know the Word of God for ourselves and then to be able to confront the great errors that exist in the visible church which that from the very beginning of our learning about God from His Word will have to begin in our churches and go back through our seminaries and Christian colleges and back again to the local churches. We have allowed the fount to be poisoned and that poison came as small adjustments to the Bible made by preachers and teachers who were not ever called by God to preach His Word and Will.

It is like I told a young fella that came to me wanting to know God, pretty much without wanting to understand God’s Word. He wanted to enjoy the peace and joy of being a Christian while at the same time living the way he wanted to. My recommendation to him was to wait upon God; because nothing happens until God begins to move and even then God does it all, (Ephesians 2:8-9). We, at least we here in America, have come to view salvation as some sort of entitlement, just as we view much of what used to be called achievements. Salvation is in no sense an entitlement because God controls salvation. Nobody has to be saved’.everyone of us can go to hell if that is what we want to do. So one of the problems in the visible church that we can correct is that of our misunderstanding of what the gift of God is.

We know that anyone who is saved is saved by grace through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ, God’s Son. It is not something that we do other than in becoming aware of our desperate situation without God. The Bible likens living the Christian life to a race. Not to a sprint or a dash but a race that lasts from the moment of our salvation until we die, (Ecclesiastes (9:11; Psalms 19:1-11; Hebrews 12:1-2; Hebrews 12:12-17). So until next time run your race with patience, make sure of your salvation, and be sure that you are a part of the solution to the church’s problems instead of part of the problem. Study to show yourself a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing (understanding and preaching) the word of truth, 2nd Timothy 2:15.

Until next time,

may God bless and keep you

This is Bro. Bob