Growing in Grace and Knowledge
"... them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertaineth unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure; for if you do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." 2 Peter 1:1-11.
[also, James 2:14-20, Faith & Works; II Timothy 2:15, Rightly Dividing]
This web site is written primarily to Christians who are well established in the faith, love the Lord Jesus Christ, love the Bible, love God's people, but somehow get the sense that something is just not right with organized religion. You may feel that something is missing in your church or feel stifled in your spiritual liberty and unfulfilled in your desire to serve the Lord. You're not a rebel nor proud nor arrogant, nor desire to be someone in the pecking order; you've searched yourself for personal blind spots, but somehow you don't feel you fit-in. Well, take heart! You may be privileged of the Lord to have been revealed a perspective that will assure you that you are not really off the beam. Now, please stop and consider that the Lord is not blessing the sectarian spirit of those whom you thought determined your standing with the Lord; yes, it can go that far.
Our relationships begin and end with Christ!
We are foremost answerable to Christ. We have the guidance of the scriptures. We have the concurrence and guidance of the Holy Spirit. We have a conscience to which the Holy Spirit ministers. We have a relationship as subject to one another, but this privilege can be easily abused.
Submission, one to another (Eph. 5:21), is a gracious relationship, both ways, where Christians don't lord themselves over one another. The Apostles, throughout scripture, didn't lord themselves over the disciples except, for example, to foresee that the Holy Spirit was going to discipline Ananias and Sapphira. Today, no one has Apostolic authority nor Apostolic gifts. Most people who call themselves Christian have been influenced by a Mother Church and/or dominant personalities in human form. Commonly, Christians are in a particular denomination due to the influence of family roots or influence from the personality who got to them first. Those who recruit you to church-ianity have been given occasion to boast in your flesh, not recruiting you to pure Christian service, but to a compromising situation. Who is the author of compromise in Christians? When men recruit you to spiritual compromise, they rate in the category of devilish works. Who has the claim on your flesh?
It's like the kingdom of the cults -- even in the churches.
There is no authority in scripture for an Arch-Bishop nor a Pope. It happens that popery doesn't have to necessarily come from one person. It can come from a denomination, a board of deacons or board of elders, or simply an inner circle who just happen to be politically in control. (During the revival in England; when under civil law, creeds or professions of faith were read, the separatist would chant, "Popery, popery, popery.") Most people are where they are due to the wrong kind of submission. In cults, for thousands of years, they even claim to determine your salvation. At worst if you are involved in a cult, the love of Christ toward you, your love of Christ, and your sincere prayer for the power of the Holy Spirit, can give you courage and strength to come out from the ungodly ones and be separate (2 Cor. 6:14-18). This is the means by which you can be delivered. How much do you believe in the power of scripture to fulfill itself in the promise to deliver you and your family?
Our simplicity in Christ is what unites us. Everything that man has introduced into the Church is what has divided those who profess to be Christians, e.g., liturgy, creeds, slogans, emblems, icons, sacraments, articles of incorporation, charters, by-laws, and elections of officers. Those who lack true spirituality and trust heavily in the finite World seem to need a structured "spiritual" program. Perhaps they think they can help God to improve upon God's program! Personalities often introduce activities which in turn become tradition and tradition becomes doctrine of which most people don't give a thought or don't speak up for fear of rejection. There should be security and no fear in our acknowledgment of God's power to minister to us and deliver us in our conformity to scripture.
Scripture and the Holy Spirit are in agreement with one another. Scripture sets the precedent for faith and walk. Those who call themselves Christian certainly do not have anything to add to the program of the Holy Spirit. We can only be blessed by getting with the program designed by God in Christ, and administered by the Holy Spirit. Those who forsake not the assembling of themselves together, assembling themselves solely in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, need to be vigilant and jealous to maintain their fellowship, being aware of the difference between our liberty in Christ and the abuse of that liberty, and aware of the difference between true doctrine and the traditions of men. This requires an attitude void of learned prejudices from those who have undermined you over time, including the prejudices and pressures from those persons who you hold dear.
CHRIST' S MESSAGE
Once the Lordship of Jesus Christ has been established; His credentials as the only begotten Son of God, Emmanuel - God With Us; and that is profoundly who He is. "In Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." (Col. 2:9). His purpose in visiting mankind is of the utmost significance in all time and creation. Purposefully, He delivered the message of reconciliation of Man to God in light of Adam's fall from Grace and all that followed as a result of the Fall. This message has the power and the means for our response in compliance and in acceptance of the terms of that message.
The fact of who Jesus Christ is should make the most profound impression on us and the most deliberate effort of our lives should be to perfectly focus on what Christ taught. The Lord Jesus Christ taught that formal religiosity and hypocrisy were related. Sectarianism places Man and the "church" before the Person and the Message of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the busy work of functioning as the Church, with problems no different than the Apostles had in Corinth, etc., do we lose sight of our first love. If God, through Christ, was the first cause for us all, there would be no problems. What did Jesus teach? He taught publicly for three years. In human terms, a brief opportunity. In God's timing, it has to be perfect!
The Sermon on the Mount had to be a composite of the best stuff that Christ had to offer. He taught godly character and virtues and He frequently taught in parables of things that spoke to the heart. He did not teach "dos and don'ts", except for the spirit or attitude behind an action, by which He also showed the hypocrisy of religion. (Until He was crucified, and fulfilled the Law, please do not forget that the Law still remained in effect.) His gospel message of agreeing with Him, and His Father, in Heaven, by Grace, through Faith, is what results in your Salvation. We need to first pay attention to the message, then the walk of the Church (the called-out ones) falls in place, in that order; this is the true walk of the believer in contrast to "religious" people who pursue good works but actually lack faith in God.
Satan, in his ungodly brilliance, has had 2000 years to infiltrate and corrupt men, both saved (the Church) and unsaved (many who go to "church"). Due to the nature of Satan, this is his high order of business. Satan also goes to church. We know his attributes. He is the author of confusion and the tempter and destroyer of Christian lives where Christians have compromised and let themselves be confused, tempted ...and worst. Isn't it clear to you that Satan is the author of division, schism, and even denominationalism? Another focus of Satan's is to promote carnal, legalistic religion that places works before faith, such as "touch not", "taste not", and "will worship" of ordinances in the discipline of the flesh.
"..why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; which all perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; ..." (Col. 2:20-23)
Cloaked in morality, the dogma is a system of intimidation to control the masses of people. It is most attractive to power-hungry people who want to be esteemed in high places; a temptation not uncommon to even those who are saved. Prime-time and prominent religious leaders even develop a messianic complex. Can you see how easy it is to go astray? What do you do if you discover that you and everybody around you is just playing church?
"Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy naval, and marrow to thy bones." Proverbs 3:7-8.
Prayer is defined as talking to God; any time, any place (any position), about anything. To approach God in prayer you must go through Jesus Christ, since "no man cometh unto the father, but by me." John 14:6.
Many Christians pray to God as if they are talking to Santa Claus and asking for all kinds of goodies they don't really need, in search of contentment. What a pagan carnal concept of God's role in one's life! Like God is there as our servant to grant us all our selfish desires. Like we are telling God that there is something He needs to do or give us and we go on begging Him. We seem to create physical and financial problems for ourselves, get ourselves in a pinch, and then we "pray" for a physical miracle for God to bail us out. There are crazy people who will even pray for a reenactment of the miracles of the Bible.
In prayer, we acknowledge and praise God. We seek His will for our lives. We ask His spiritual blessings as well as His material blessings in those things which we should be faithful stewards. In R.A. Torrey's books on prayer, he emphasizes that Christians need to pray for specifics rather than in generalities and to be ready for the consequences of what is asked. Also, besides "yes" and "no", God's answer could be "wait." Confession is a condition of effective prayer. As in James 5:16,
"Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
A righteous man is one who has accepted Christ. Popular religion seems to emphasize "fervent" above all. "Effectual" is the most neglected. It refers to validity. Most of the time God's answer to prayer is, "My grace is sufficient for thee." The answer is one of trust and assurance that God is with you and will comfort you as you accept your circumstances. When you are in submission to God, and are talking to Him, your conscience works to keep you honest with Him because of who He is, and therein is the answer to your prayers. You get focused. Then the Holy Spirit convicts, or convinces you.
Has a sectarian spirit been effecting your growing in grace and knowledge? If you are having a problem accepting the thesis regarding the Sin of Sectarianism, your safety is in fervent, effectual prayer. We trust that you will pray about it.
To be continued:
Our heartís attitude is everything because the Lord judgeth a man's heart.
The Holy Spirit teaches us and convicts us in the deep recesses of the region known as our conscience.
We accomplish the seemingly impossible by faith and trust, accepting and proceeding according to what God, in Christ, has presented; not by an independent willful pursuit on our part. It's a surrender to God's will for direction in our lives.
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