God is the sovereign ruler over His creation that He established for His glory (Col. 1: 16). See the Doctrine of Sovereignty. Functionally, God has delegated authority to persons in the marriage, home, the Church, and society. All persons in positions of delegated authority are subordinate to His sovereignty. The same God that grants such authority, also sets the scope and the limitation, and the accountability that comes along with the positions. This principle applies to secular and Church governments.
"For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created by Him and for Him.
"Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is NO authority except (delegated by) from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore, those who resist authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves (Romans 13: 1 &2 NASB italics mine."
God does not desire robotic worship. God gave both the angelic race and the human race the freedom and the accountability to make their own individual choices when it comes to spiritual issues. Along with that freedom comes either the blessings or the consequences of choices made.
Prior to the creation of Man, the devil, who had been created as a cherubim serving in the throne room of God (Ezek. 28: 14), rebelled against the sovereignty (government) of God with the intentions of establishing his own kingdom in which the devil would be glorified and worshiped. His declaration of independence is documented in Isa. 14: 13, 14.
At least one third of the angels in Heaven sided with devil and engaged in a failed revolt.
Man was created in the midst of the ensuing and ongoing conflict between the forces of good and the forces of evil. Theologians have affixed many different titles and names for this conflict.
I choose to use The Angelic Conflict, as it identifies who the original key players (fallen vs. elect angels) were. The Angelic Conflict originated prior to the creation of Man, but now runs concurrently with human history with the free will of Man being the focus of attention.
Throughout the course, each and every human soul has been and will be judged on the basis of what information each individual had been given (or had been given the opportunity to receive). This information begins with the Eccl. 3: 11 concept of there being an eternity that God places in every soul that He creates. The decision to reject this concept is what gives birth to atheism. Most human souls accept the concept of eternity and that there is a God/god(s), but fail to identify the one true God and/or the means by which we are to connect with Him.
Here in the Church Age, this information (as far as being saved is concerned) is completed when the individual soul is presented (or given the opportunity to be presented) with the Gospel Message.
If you have taken the defensive position that you have never given such an opportunity, you now have it via clicking on the Gospel Message link.
What one chooses to do with the opportunity to hear and respond to a presentation of the Gospel Message, f-o-r-e-v-e-r determines W-H-E-R-E he/she will spend ALL of eternity future upon departing his/her physical body at death. Physical death (or transformation via the Rapture for Christians on the Earth at the time) of the body is not a matter of if, but of when. If one departs as one who chose not to believe in the Gospel Message, he/she will find him/herself in the Torments section of Hades, with nothing to look forward to but the lake of fire following Judgement Day for ALL unbelievers (Rev. 20: 13, 15). If one departs (or is Raptured away) in the capacity of a believer, he/she will find him/herself in Heaven to experience all that God has in store for the people of faith.
Every human soul that chooses to believe in a presentation of the Gospel Message is automatically and immediately "born again (John 3: 5, 7 NASB); receives a "regenerated (Titus 3: 5) human spirit; is "baptized/sealed (marked for identification) (Eph. 4: 30)" as a child of God; receives eternal life (John 3: 16); becomes a part of of the earthly temple of God (1Cor. 3: 16); and receives the promise of making it to Heaven (Romans 14: 4) upon departing this world.
It is NOT because the saved soul will ever deserve such things, but because he/she has chosen to believe in the atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ that was accomplished on the cross that opened the door for the people of faith.
All of this is the Work of God, and not achieved or finished via "religious" ritual performed by human clergy, nor is it maintained or retained via ANY form of human effort.
H-O-W born again believers will experience eternity future (with or without rewards) is dependent on what takes place (or fails to take place) throughout the course of his/her post (after) salvation spiritual life here on Earth. However, the security and integrity (1Cor. 3: 15) of his/her salvation is as certain as the very Word of God.
The choice that the angels had to make differs from the choice that the members of the human race have to make. ALL of the angels were created and lived in Heaven in the very presence of the true God. Accordingly, the existence and identity of the one true God (for them), was not a matter of faith, but one of fact that they already experienced.
The choice that the angels had to make was to stick with the plan and purpose that God created them for, or to follow the devil in his revolt against God.
Here in the Church Age, our primary choices involve what we decide to do when presented with the Gospel Message (or the opportunity to be presented with it). God can use a variety of means to present the Gospel Message. The true, unadulterated Gospel Message may or may not be proclaimed or reiterated by any given pulpit, but until one is born again, he/she remains as spiritually dead as the day he/she came into this world. Attending Church and/or going through "religious" rituals is meaningless if one has not been first born again. Attendng Church, in itself, is NOT the means to either obtain salvation. Attending Church, other than being one of many ways though which one might be presented with the Gospel Message, is a post (after) salvation activity. For the born again believer, attending Church is for the purpose of "bringing into remembrance (not reproducing) the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ (1Cor. 11: 24, 25) through the celebration of the Lord's Supper/Communion, and for the ongoing teaching of the Word of God for the development of one's post salvation spiritual life. One can gather together (Heb. 10: 25) worship services in the traditional manner, or via one of the many remote means of communication.
Regardless of where and how God chooses to present the Gospel Message to any given individual or group of individuals, one must be aware that the opportunity to be saved comes from God, and that it is God and His Message that one chooses to listen (or not to listen to) and to believe (or disbelieve).
It is amazing how many folks that consider themselves Christians will respond to a presentation of the true Gospel Message by saying that they never heard it explained that way, even though they have "gone to Church" for decades.
Since the invitation or opportunity comes from God, no one knows when any given soul has received his/her only or last opportunity to be saved before departing this world. One can choose to become "religious" any time he/she wants, but one can only be born again and saved in response to a presentation of the Gospel Message in which God the Holy Spirit is involved, making the Gospel Message understandable and affording the soul the opportunity to respond.
Tens of thousands depart this world every day on a global level, with death having been the last thing on their minds when they got up that morning or went to bed that night.
If we choose to believe the Gospel Message. THEN we to choose to either identify and pursue the true post salvation spiritual life or to c-o-n-t-i-n-u-e to live for self. Under the influence of the fallen nature, we are predisposed to living a self-centered life.
Our chosen response to the presentation of (or the opportunity to be presented with) the Gospel Message determines rather or not we are born again (John 3: 5, 7). Rather or not one is born again (John 3: 5, ) determines WHERE (not if) we will spend all of eternity. Our chosen response to identify, pursue, and execute the post salvation spiritual life detemines HOW we will experience Heaven (with or without reward).
The advancing disciple is Christ-centered and not self-centered. Accordingly, the advancing disciple does NOT serve God in order to be rewarded. The advancing disciple would glorify God if there were no rewards, either here on Earth or in Heaven. Never-the-less,
God has revealed to us that He desires to reward in Heaven (1Cor. 3: 12-15) those who desire to glorify Him while here on Earth.
Note that like the angels, we are free to make choices, but we are NOT free from having to make those choices, nor are we free from either the blessings or the consequences that our choices generate.
The Angelic Conflict originated in Heaven when the devil, who formerly served God in the throne room of Heaven (Ezekiel 28: 14), led a revolt of angels who rebelled against the sovereign government of God, with the long term objective of establishing an independent kingdom (Isa. 13: 14).
Planet Earth was selected to be physical location where much of the ongoing Angelic Conflict would, did, and continue to take place. This answers, in part, why of all the planets in the physical universe, that Earth was later to become the natural home of the human race.
In this independent kingdom, the devil would be the object of worship and his followers would reap the benefits of having followed him.
In virtually every ungodly empire or nation, either the government itself or the primary leader of it is promoted as the source of ultimate authority. and therefore entitled to the complete devotion and loyalty of those under his/its authority. Especially in the ancient world, the leaders were projected as being gods, or at the very least, divinely chosen to lead.
The devil;s revolt failed, bringing Phase One of the Angelic Conflict to its end, but Phase Two would run concurrently with human history.
In Phase Two (after the creation of Man), the devil continues to offer his alternatives with promises of "benefits" (Gen. 3/Luke 4: 6) to those who will live their lives according to the ways of the (devil's) world (Luke 4: 6), with the prime objective of denying God the glory that He would otherwise receive.
Here in the Church Age, God is primarily glorified when each individual soul hears and chooses to believe in a presentation of the Gospel Message. AFTER one is saved, God continues to be glorified as the individual believer learns and applies the principles of the Word of God to the events of his daily life. For this reason, the devil works long and hard at obstructing the presentation of the Gospel Message and the teaching of the Word of God by and WITHIN the Christian Community. The devil does so by presenting and promoting "religious" alternatives and good human deeds, as that make sense and appeal to the fallen nature of Man.
Whenever possible, the devil will use secular government to promote religion and/or atheism.
Among the consequences of Phase One of the Angelic Conflict, was the devastation of the surface of planet Earth, leaving it formless and void (Gen.1:2 ). It was on planet Earth where the cities of the angels had been established, and later destroyed (Jer. 4 : 25, 26).
Phase One originated in Heaven and took place BEFORE the creation of Man.
Following the devastation of the surface of the Earth at the end of Phase One, planet Earth was r-e-s-t-o-r-e-d (Gen. 1: 2-31) to its Gen. 1: 1 condition, preparing it for the creation and the inhabitation of Man.
The length of time that passed from when God created the Heavens (stellar universe) and planet Earth (Gen. 1: 1) to time it became formless and void (Gen. 1: 2)as a result of Phase One of the Angelic Conflict, was not disclosed to us and remains to be among the "secret things (Deut. 19: 19 (NASB)" that belong to God.
It could have been brief, or as long (or longer) that the ever-changing estimates that secular science offer.
Scripture does not tell us how long the Spirit of God hovered over the face of the Earth before the restoration process outlined in Gen. 1: 2-31 began.
Furthermore, we do know how much time was consumed during at least the first few "days" of the restoration process (documented in Gen. 1: 2-31). These days were not necessarily limited to 24 hr. "solar" days, as the sun (the means to measure a solar day) was not in place until the third day. The sun and the light/heat it produced must be distinguished from the light/heat source spoken of in Gen. 1: 3 that was in existence before the sun and the moon that impacts the Earth were established.
Scripture was never intended to inform us of all that we might desire to know, but does inform us of all that we need to know in order to fulfill the divine purposes that God created us. By divine design, the Bible provides us with the opportunity to obtain enough facts to make an informed choice, but certain pieces of the puzzle, referred to as the "secret things (Deut. 29: 29)" of God are withheld requiring that one comes to God (Heb. 11:6) via faith (believing/trust) as well as by fact.
The Book of Genesis was composed by Moses around 1500 BC. The initial creation (Gen. 1: 1)and later restoration (Gen. 1: 2-31) of planet Earth was not witnessed by any Man, as these events took place during and after Phase One of the Angelic Conflict . but BEFORE the creation of Man.
Teachings that go beyond what Scripture teach (Proverbs 31: 6), or that are based on human reasoning and tradition (Matt. 15: 9), is a recipe for disaster in the spiritual realm. It is a common error that Man has entertained, and continues to entertain.
Nowhere greater than in the spiritual realm is it more important to acknowledge former error, yet there is no greater resistance to change than what can be found in the religious realm.
According to Matt. 7: 13, 14, when it comes to spiritual issues, the concepts and practices of the MAJORITY are usually WRONG! This applies to the means of salvation, and to the post salvation spiritual life of believers.
Unless on personally chooses to become a disciple, that being a student and applier of the Word of God, he has no other alternative but to accept at face value what someone ELSE has to say, concerning God and/or the things of God. Among the someone else group, there is the devil (Gen. 3), his demons (1Tim. 4: 1), promoters of religion (Mark 7: 8), and all the human souls that have been deceived (Col. 2: 8).
Within ANY group (family, culture, denomination) there is a false security in the belief they alone have all the answers to spiritual issues. The more any individual advances in the spiritual realm, the more one becomes aware of his/her own areas of weaknesses, some of which were passed down to him/her via the traditions of men that virtually all families, cultures, and denominations have erroneously accepted as doctrine (Matt.15: 9).
In the spiritual realm, an area of weakness is an area of one's soul structure that is ignorant of what the Bible has to say; an area in which there is no application of what one does know; or an area in which the truth has been substituted with false doctrine.
Again, taking the lead of the majority (when it comes to spiritual issues) is a recipe for disaster. Thia is why seeking the advice of people who are no more spiritually mature than we are is counterproductive. They may be truly sincere, but they can not share with you (or anyone else) anything that they have not yet learned for themselves.
One's greatest advisers and counselors are the principles of doctrine that one (should have) has stored away in his/her own soul structure.
Although God desires (1Tim. 2: 4) that ALL men come to the knowledge and belief in the Gospel Message, such passages as Rev. 20: 15 make it clear that there is an eternal lake of fire awaiting the souls of unbelievers. Such passages as 1 Cor. 3: 12-15 make it clear, that although ALL born again believers have a home awaiting them in Heaven, but there will be some who will experience Heaven with rewards, and some who will not. Church Age believers will be rewarded for the divine good (symbolized as gold, silver, precious stones in the 1 Cor.3 passage) that God (John 15: 5) produced through them throughout the course of their post salvation spiritual life.
Any disciple (student of the Word of God) can tell you that the more one learns, the more he becomes aware of how much more there remains to be learned.
It is critically important to learn to discern what rituals were designed to be a part of what dispensation.
A dispensation in the spiritual realm is a period of time that had (or will have) both a starting time and en end time, having specific characteristics and activities that did not formerly exist or apply in past dispensations, and may be a part of future dispensations to come. Each dispensation has its own objectives to be accomplished in the unfolding Master Plan of God.
We are presently living in the dispensation of the Church Age. The dispensation of the Church Age began at the Feast of Pentecost in Jerusalem shortly after our Lord's ascension. The last thing that the Lord did before rising up into the Heavens, was to reiterate the purpose and the marching orders (aka The Great Commission) for the Church that was about to be established (Matt. 28: 19, 20). The Church Age dispensation (but not the Church) will come to its end when it has completed its mission (Matt. 24: 14).
Here in the Church Age, edified believers no longer engage in such things as animal sacrifices or grain offerings that God required during the Old Testament dispensation. Nor is there ANY need for officiating priests or tangible altars that was (past tense) necessary during the Old Testament dispensation.
The last sacrificial offering (that God accepted) was the sinless humanity and atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ on His altar (the cross) (Heb. 10: 10-14).
The eating of the bread and the drinking of the wine during the celebration of the Lord's Supper (Communion) is for the expressed purpose of "bringing into r-e-m-e-m-b-r-a-n-c-e (1Cor. 11: 23, 24 NASB)", not to r-e-p-r-o-d-u-c-e, the significance of what was already accomplished on the cross.
The Earthly temple of God, during the Church Age, is NOT a tent, tabernacle, or physical building of ANY type, but is the collective body of Church Age believers (1 Cor. 3: 16). Accordingly, Church Age believers do not "go to Church", but ARE the Church that gathers together (Heb. 10: 25) for such things as corporate worship.
If all the products and practices of man-made, religious, traditions were to be removed from many local assemblies of our day, what would remain would be barely recognizable to many who consider themselves to be practicing Christians.
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The Bible authors used "language of accommodation" so that Scripture could be understood by all generations.
For example, we all know (now) that the sun neither rises nor sets, and that the sun is in a fixed position. Yet all generations have understood and continue to understand what is meant when Scripture refers to either the "rising" or the "setting" of the sun. The Bible uses expressions of human emotions, (happy, sad, anger, jealousy, regret, etc.) for us to understand (from a human perspective) how God thinks and responds to human an angelic behavior.
The mood, response, and level of productivity of the human mind is compromised when dealing with mixed emotions. One generally can not be truly happy and said, angry and pleased, satisfied and wanting, at the same time. God, however, simultaneously dealing with the thoughts and behaviors of millions of angels, and billions of human souls, can be both loving and wrathful, pleased and angry, satisfied but desiring, etc., at the same time. Believers need not be concerned with what "mood" God is in or what kind of day He is having when approaching Him in prayer.
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Not all are "Christians" are aware or accept what the Bible actually has to say concerning the Angelic Conflict, no more than the human universally accepts any other subject or category of theology. Yet, those who reject the Doctrine of the Angelic Conflict are at a loss to provide an alternative explanation for any other reason that God chose to have such information recorded in Scripture, if not for our edification (2Tim. 3: 16).
The Angelic Conflict is relevant to our Doctrine of Government as it is the first revolt against an established system of government. When Man fell, Man became predisposed to rebellion Romans 7: 8). It is NOT natural for someone who is under the influence of the fallen, hostile, nature (Romans 7) to willingly submit to authority, be it of the divine or delegated secular variety.
The independent, but equally important, roles of both secular and Church government are critical for the preservation of Man and the fulfillment of the Great Commission of the Church Age. Accordingly, this is what makes both entities a primary target for satanic attack in the realm of spiritual combat (Eph. 6), here in the Church Age.
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Natural scientific knowledge has always been in state of change as new and more accurate information is learned/discovered, requiring the books of science to be updated and/or re-written. Scripture warns believers not to be taken in by human philosophy (Col. 2: 8), as well.
The divine nature and the attributes of God has not, is not, and will not change (Heb. 13: 8).
At the same time, how one is to worship and to interact with God (e.g. with/without temples, altars, rituals, sacrifices, priests, etc.) has changed as Man has gone from one dispensation of the Master Plan of God to the next. Failure to acknowledge and make the necessary adjustments from one dispensation to the next is what the devil will use to distract our focus of attention from the divine objectives of the dispensation in which we are living.
Prior to the Fall of Man, Adam and the woman (later named Eve) had a personal relationship with God and lived in a perfect, natural environment. Ever since the Fall, ever human soul (with the ONE exception of the Humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ) comes into this world physically alive, with a soul that IS going live on when it departs the body at death (or the Rapture), but it spiritually DEAD. Spiritual death is NOT a state of non-existence, but existing while separated from a relationship with God.
When one is born again (John 3: 5, 7), he/she (among other things) receives a regenerated spirit (Titus 3: 5) and enters a personal relationship with God that is secure for all of eternity. However, the "saved" soul must live HERE in the devil's world (Luke 4: 6) until God calls him/her home (via physical death or the manifestation of the Rapture). Glorifying God while here in the devil's world is the primary purpose for which a born again believer is here on Earth. One cannot glorify God to the maximum if he/she is ignorant of what the plan of God calls for in the dispensation in which he/she lives.
Behind the scenes in both Church and secular governments is the spiritual combat involving both the divine and evil participants.
On the divine side, there is God and His forces of good. God has a specific agenda for the Church that He established (Matt. 28: 19. 20). God has a divine purpose (1Tim, 2: 2) for secular governments (Romans 13).
On the opposing side, there is the devil and his (Eph. 6: 12) forces of evil. The forces of evil are well aware that their days are numbered, but will fight to the very end to try to impede the fulfillment of the plan of God, denying God as much glory as they possibly can in the process. God is denied the God glory by deceiving the Church government into entertaining alternative agendas. Whatever direction the head takes, the body follows. The forces of evil will use secular governments to try to impede the unfolding of the plan of God on the international, national, and individual level.
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The form of Church government that God designed for the Church Age, calls for the establishment of independent local assemblies, administered its own B-i-b-l-i-c-a-l-l-y trained and ordained pastor teacher. Scripture articulates and limits the scope of authority and functions associated with the spiritual gift and calling of a pastor-teacher. In violation of Scripture (Prov. 30: 6), religion(s), has added functions and have extended the scope of authority beyond what can be substantiated in Scripture. In some cases, thee add-on(s) run contrary to Scripture. As is a police officer in the law enforcement community, being a pastor teacher is where the "rubber meets the road" in the application of the Word of God AND/or the promotion of religion!
The pastor teacher is responsible (to God - Jame 3: 1) for the quality and quantity of the doctrine that is taught and/or practiced within the walls of his local assembly, as well as anything else that takes place. Many of the alternative governments established and maintained by "religion", deny the members of the local assemblies the freedom to choose who the pastor-teacher will be standing (teaching) behind the pulpit. Most "religions" allow NO deviation from the "company line," as far as what is going to come from the pulpit. The purpose of the seminaries that the various religions establish and promote, is for the training of "priests" or "ministers" who will promote the teachings and the practices, as determined by the "ordaining" body.
To the extent that what is being taught and practiced IS consistent with what can be substantiated by the Word of God, this "NO DEVIATION" policy is a good thing, as it preserves the TRUE Gospel Message and ACCURATE Bible doctrine for the development of the post (after) salvation spiritual life. After all, the proclamation of the Gospel Message and the development of post (after) salvation discipleship was/is the Great Commission that given to the Church.
The Church (that God established) "shoots itself in the foot" if and when it does not prevent the introduction of false gospels, false doctrines, and accompanying practices and rituals. This was a problem that existed in its earliest history (Galatians 3: 1) and will continue to be the case right up to the end of the Church when apostasy will become the rule rather than the exception (1Tim. 4: 1).
The failure of the Christian Community at large to filter out the never-ending introduction of false Gospels, false doctrines, and the accompanying false practices is what not only opens the door, but invites the inclusion of such thing/Matt. 13: 33s into its totality. As Jesus taught His disciples, Just a little leaven (false doctrine) compromises quality of the whole loaf (Gal. 5: 9/1Cor. 5: 6). Like cancer in the natural realm, false doctrine and/or practices can start out so small that without proactive diligence to detect and eliminate it (Acts 17: 11), it can reach the point that it may be too late to reverse the damage done.
In the Roman Catholic sector of the Christian Community, the homilies generally are more like commentaries than detailed teaching lessons. "Detailed teaching" goes into the isagogics (historical setting in which the passage was originally written), exegesis (original language of the passage) and compares the passage in view with other passages that teach on the same subject. Without this, the Bible can be made to appear to say just about anything that a clever speaker desires.
This "same everywhere" scenario presents a situation where it does not make a significant difference where one attends Mass, as far as developing one's post salvation spiritual life is concerned. Without detailed teaching, one will NOT advance in post salvation discipleship (the study and application of the Word of God). The development of post (after) salvation discipleship was/is the internal (inside) half of the Great Commission given to the Church that God designed.
In the Protestant and non-denominational sectors of the Christian Community, the "sermons" usually provide more of a teaching opportunity, but this too, is impacted on the quantity and quality of the individual pastor-teacher's presentations. This creates a definite difference in the opportunity for spiritual growth (1Pet. 3: 18) of those attending. Note that I said opportunity. A believer can listen to edifying information every day, but it will produce no fruit if what he/she receives is not applied.
"for whoever will call upon the name (authority) of the Lord will be saved (13). How then shall they (unbelieving/un-edified souls) call upon Him in whom they have not believed (placed their personal trust and confidence) ? And how shall they believe (place their trust and confidence) in Him who they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a (qualified) preacher (14). - Romans 10: 13, 14 NASB italics mine.
This principle applies to the BOTH the presentation and reiteration of the true Gospel Message (for salvation), and post salvation doctrine (for the development of discipleship).
During periods of apostasy, "...they (unbelievers/un-edified souls) will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires (2Tim. 4: 3 NASB italics mine)."
From my own personal experience, I can tell you that one can learn more in six months at or through a doctrinal pulpit than one will ever learn at other local assemblies. A doctrinal pulpit is a pulpit that a Biblically qualified pastor teacher will establish and maintain. During periods of apostasy, such a pulpit can be a hard find and the ones that do exist will be a prime target of the devil and the forces of evil.
"Religious" denominations is the end result of introduction and acceptance of false doctrines/practices.
There is a wall of division that is established between those who accept the changes and those who oppose them. The change can involve the introduction of a new doctrine/practice, or the desire to go back to the way things were when an accepted doctrine or practice is found to be false (Prov. 30: 6). The first scenario is more easily accepted and promoted, whereas the second would require the present generation to acknowledge that the leadership of former generation (that introduced and/or accepted the initial change) were in error. Once a doctrine/practice/tradition (Matt. 15: 9) of Man has been accepted in the religious realm, it is extremely hard to remove, even in spite of the end result is worshiping God in vain (Matt. 15: 9).
In at least one major sector of the Christian Community (Roman Catholicism) it is taught that their own (human) head (The Pope) could not be in error when it comes the interpretation and/or application of Scripture. As the "un-challengeable" head of the government of that sector of the Christian Community at large,
There has never been and will never be a single individual (with exception of the Lord Jesus Christ) or a group of human beings (including the Apostles) that did not have differences of opinions over the appropriate interpretation and application of Scripture. The Acts 17: 11 need to verify what comes from ANY pulpit becomes stronger when one considers that Matt. 7: 13, 14 teach that when it comes to spiritual issues, the majority of the people are usually WRONG!
The devil will not fail to make the most of every situation to wreak havoc WITHIN the Christian Community.
Most "Christians" and many who become pastor teachers have no clue as to the scope of the conflict that they are entering into when they engage in the spiritual combat of the Church Age.
It should be kept in mind that "in Church" is only ONE of many places where an unbeliever can (should) can be presented with the Gospel Message, as it (should) be reiterated and connected with virtually every post (after) salvation doctrine that (should) is taught from the pulpit. Attending Church is primarily a POST (after)salvation activity, designed for the worship of God (as He desires) and the development of post salvation discipleship of those who have already been born again. Until one is born gain, he/she can become very "religious", but is spiritually dead and incapable of doing ANYTHING of spiritual significance (John 15: 5).
If all one desires to do is to have a local assembly where he/she can "check in" on a regular basis, go through the spiritual or religious (there IS a difference) rituals that it offers, then it makes little difference which one(s) he/she attends. However, if a born again believer desires to identify and to execute the true post salvation spiritual life, his/her choice of pastor teacher is an important to his/her spiritual health and development as is his/her choice of doctors is to his/her physical health an development in the natural realm.
Clergyman can promote spirituality and the plan of God for the Church Age, or they can promote Man-made religion. Woe to clergyman and/or the soul who can not discern the difference!
No clergyman can be used of God to bring another believer (or group of believers) any further along the road to spiritual maturity that what he has first arrived at himself. Take a good look at the person and the doctrine from whom you choose to receive your spiritual guidance. You will not surpass him along the road to spiritual maturity, but you will become much like him if your choose to follow his lead.
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The office of "deacon" was created to relieve the pastor-teacher of some of the administrative functions (but not the responsibility of same), so that he could focus on prayer and the studying and the teaching of the Word of God (Acts 6: 4).
The office of deacon was created to assist the pastor teacher by relieving him of some of the functional requirements taking place in the local assembly. Neither a deacon, nor a Board of Deacons were never given authority over the pastor-teacher. As of the end (and in some cases during) the Apostolic phase of the Church Age, future and qualified pastoral candidates, in keeping with the plan of God (2 Tim. 2: 2), were to come from within the congregation of the local assembly. Missionaries from existing local assemblies initially fulfilled the function of both evangelist and pastor teacher, but with the long term goal of training and ordaining their own pastor teacher.
During the infancy stage of the Church, there were apostles who were called by God to establish the Church, beginning in Jerusalem (Acts 2), with the long term objective of establishing local assemblies throughout the known world during the duration of the Church Age.
The, "being a witness of the risen Lord (Acts 1:22) "qualification to be a candidate for the office of apostle clearly called for the eventual elimination (through attrition) qualified candidates to refill the office of apostle. There were more than 500 persons who were eye-witnesses to the risen Lord (1COr. 15: 6), but in the course of time, all of them would all pass on via physical death, and with them the capability of fulfilling this "eye witness" qualification.
The Apostle Paul fulfilled this qualification in the most unique ways (Acts 9/Gal. 1: 17/1Cor. 11: 23).
As of the end of the Apostolic phase of the Church Age, the "chief executive officer" of "government" of the Church Age was/is the pastor teacher of his own local assembly, with the Word of God being the ONE (tangible) source of edification and direction. Neither God the Son, (The Head of the Church), nor God the Holy Spirit (The Mentor of the Church) can or would establish A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G in the Church Age that contradicts the Written Word of God.
The same can NOT be said of the devil, his spokespersons, or Man-made and influenced "religious" authority. The introduction (or re-introduction) of false or no longer applicable doctrines and practices into the dispensation of the Church Age was an an issue right from the start (Galatians 3: 1) and will continue to be the case until apostasy reaches its climax in the end times of the Church Age (1Tim. 4: 1). Note that it is demonic activity that was/is behind this attack, even though it is overtly promoted by "blind guides-" holding positions of (government) leadership WITHIN the Christian Community.
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What we now refer to as The Bible, took at least 1530 yrs. to be completed. Genesis was composed around 1500 BC, and Revelation was composed around 96 AD. Some contend that the Book of Job was written before the Book of Genesis, that would make this period of time even longer.
There was a period of 400+ years between the last writing of the last Book of what would later categorized as the Old Testament part of The Bible, and the beginning of the writings that would later become the Books of what we now know as the New Testament part of the The Bible. There were other writings that some denominations (e.g. Roman Catholic) that are included in their version of the The Bible.
BATMQ acknowledges the 66 (39 Old/ 27 New) Books, as listed in such English translations as the King James and New American Standard Bible, as being the canonized Bible that God engineered for the Church Age.
It is by no coincidence that that the completion of the last Book (Revelation) of what would become canonized Scripture was completed in the same period of history in which the last candidates who could fulfill the (Acts 1) eye-witness requirement would still be alive, here on Earth. The Church government that God designed fell on the shoulders of each independent pastor teacher of each local assembly. It was they who were authorized (2Tim. 2: 2) to train and ordain future pastor teachers throughout the course of the Church Age.
Paul sought the the approval of his fellow apostles, but clearly did not consider himself subordinate to Peter or to any other one apostle.
The personal assignment, given to Peter (Luke 22: 32), was one of reconciliation of his fellow apostles with God. The "keys to the kingdom (the Gospel Message)" that had been given to Peter in (Matt. 16: 19), and the commission to preach it was later equally given to ALL of the apostles (Matt. 28:19, 20), and to the Church at large.
The different governing boards and individuals with self-appointed authority above and beyond that of pastor-teacher are the products of Man made religion.
The ONE tangible source of authority for all teaching, administrative and functional activities, was and remains to be the completed Word of God, and those offices (e.g. evangelists, pastor teachers, deacons) that can be substantiated by Scripture. It is the Word of God that documents the scope of authority, and the limitations that goes along with the various positions of authority within the Church that God designed.
At NO TIME was any ONE individual ever given (by God) a position of absolute authority over the Christian Community at large. The authority given to each pastor teacher did not go beyond the scope of the local assembly that he served.
Missionary work of the evangelist is for the proclaiming of the Gospel Message to peoples o-u-t-s-i-d-e of the Christian Community, with the long term objective of establishing independently functioning local assemblies. The unity of the Christian Community at large, consisting of all the i-n-d-e-p-e-n-d-e-n-t-l-y functioning local assemblies around the world, was/is to be the shared doctrine of Scripture.
Note that at a point in time after the "birth of the Church at the Feast of Pentecost (Acts 2), and while Peter was alive and well, the local leadership of the local church in Jerusalem was taken on by James, the half brother of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is not to dispute the contribution that Peter made to the plan of God. But as in the case of Mary, when "religious" authority begins to add to what Scripture actually has to say (Proverbs 30: 6) concerning God's plan for such men and women of faith, it opens to the door to all kinds of false doctrine and practices. Once accepted and practiced long enough, it becomes a "tradition of men (Matt. 15: 9 NASB)" that is elevated to a status of perceived equality with Scripture.
The Church that God designed was NOT to be built (or governed) on Peter or on any ONE human being here on Earth.
According to the plan of God revealed in Scripture, after the end of period of the Apostles, the ONE tangible source of edification is the Word of God (2Tim. 3: 16, 17), and the ONE person in charge of the administration of each local assembly is its pastor teacher.
The "rock" on which the Church was to be built on the (Matt. 16: 18) was a c-o-n-f-e-s-s-i-o-n of faith, as was uttered by Peter in (Matt. 16: 16). The binding or loosening spoken of in (Matt. 16: 19) refers to the resulting blessing (eternal life) or consequences (eternal damnation) (John 3: 18) based on each individual's chosen response to being presented with the Gospel Message that Peter AND each Church Age believer would be commissioned to proclaim (Matt. 28: 19, 20).
The plan of God, revealed in Scripture, for Church government called for the establishing of independent local assemblies, united by faith (accurate doctrine). The various systems of religion governing individuals or groups above and beyond the authority of the local pastor teacher (once the office of Apostle ended through attrition) are products and traditions of men that are without Biblical substantiation.
It was likely that it was with good intentions that the concept of having a central system of religious authority was embraced. It was also likely that it was with good intentions that this developing hierarchy have the endorsement of the State, with Bishops being appointed to the courts of the various kingdoms.
As the old saying goes, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. History has shown that such alliances between Church and State have played into the devil's hand, leading large portions of the Christian Community into the darkest and most infamous periods of its history.
Combining the power of Church and State leads to tyranny, denying the soul of its God-given freedom to makes it own choices concerning spiritual issues.
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Having a single and centralized source of authority greatly reduces the number of primary targets with which the devil and his forces of evil have to focus . The establishing of such a system of Church government, contrary to Scripture, was and remains to be strategic advantage for the devil who did not have and never will have the divine attributes of omnipresence (being everywhere at the same time), omniscience (all knowledge of past, present, and future events, and omnipotence (unlimited power).
Only an isolated few individuals warrant the personal attention and interaction with the devil himself. Never-the-less, every human soul is created for the glory of God, and is therefore a target of interest to the devil and the forces of evil. If/when a soul is born again, the same soul becomes a greater target of interest. If/when the born again soul engages in post salvation discipleship, he/she becomes an even greater target of interest. If/when, one is called, to become and function as an evangelist or pastor teacher, he is a target of greatest interest to the devil and the forces of evil.
As odd as this may seem to most people, the devil is VERY interested in promoting and prospering those who engage in or promote RELIGION.
The higher up the ladder of religion one goes, the more the devil is interested in promoting them.
Cut off the head and the body dies. Deceive the head the body will follow suit.
The devil learned soon enough that trying to destroy the Church via persecution backfires, resulting in the expansion of the Church and the increase in the faith of those persecuted. Many of the internal issues that Church faces is the result of political, social, racial, and cultural differences that are a part of fallen Man and needs little (if any) aid from the devil.
The devil is well aware of the inherent sin nature (Romans 7) within fallen Man and its impact on human thoughts and behavior. Accordingly, there is no need for the devil to invest time or resources to achieve much "success" when it comes to immorality.
The devil's greatest accomplishments in the realm of spiritual warfare has been, is, and will be via deception. It worked in the Garden of Eden;
it worked down through the dispensations of human history; it is working here in the Church Age; and will work in dispensations to come.
The devil's plan, here in the Church Age, is to re-write the purpose and mission for which the Church was created. Needless to say, misleading those in positions of Church government is a key part of the devil's plan. As long as the leadership (and those who follow their lead) can be decieved into believing that they ARE doing what God desires, the promotion of religion will be a walk in the park. It is also needless to say, that those who promote the true Gospel Message and the true post salvation spiritual life must be "addressed."
The devil has used, and continues to use, the power and influence of the governments within the Christian Community and among the secular governments of the nations to achieve his objectives.
Promote the (false) concept that any one person or group is infallible (when it comes to the interpretation and application of Scripture) and the door of verification (Acts 17 :11 ) and reconsideration is easily closed and kept shut. Being in a position that is promoted as infallible puts one in a position that once a decision has been made i, it cannot be later reversed without discrediting his/their own claim of infallibility, leaving the damage done irreparable.
This became evident during the time of Protestant Reformation.
There were those who promoted the Reformation for personal and political reasons, but the "spiritually-oriented" reformers did not desire to start their own or new Church, but to bring the existing Christian Community back to its Biblical roots. By the time of the Protestant Reformation, much of the Christian Community at large had been compromised and polluted with the doctrines and practices of Man made religion. The Reformation would have required the existing person and persons in authority to have acknowledged its error(s), and to get re-focused on the mission (Matt. 28: 19, 20) that it had been established to accomplish.
With the one exception of the Humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ, there has NEVER been and NEVER will be a human being (or a group of individuals) that is/are incapable of error, or that do not have an established record of being in error and contradiction.
Even the Lord's original apostles did not agree on all spiritual issues and what was/was not to go on within the Christian Community during the period of their administration.
It was to be a part of the local pastor teacher's function to protect his flock (congregation) from any teaching that contradicted either the true Gospel Message or post salvation doctrine that he was (should have been) trained and ordained to promote. It was/is the responsibility of each individual soul to build and maintain an edified soul structure to detect and reject false doctrine(s) and practices. Not having a functioning Biblically-qualified pastor teacher to properly instruct his flock, and/or not having developed one's own edified soul structure is a spiritual "crash-Matt. 7: 27" waiting to happen.
Scripture (Gal. 3: 1/1 Timothy 4: 1) teach that the introduction of false doctrines and practices is a demonic activity that has taken place, and will continue to take place, throughout the course of the Church Age. Alternative forms of Church governments unwittingly become a useful tool in the hand of the devil wile projecting themselves as having come from God.
The promotion of Man-made "religion" was an easy task when the one source of verification (The Bible) was kept out of the hands of the common man. It was by no coincidence that Man made religion made its greatest advancements during a period of history when the illiteracy was the rule and not the exception, or when Scripture had not (yet) been made available in a language that the common Man could understand. It is by no coincidence that religion can be enforced when it has the support of the secular governments.
It was by no coincidence that it was when all the false doctrines and practices WITHIN THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY were exposed for what they really were (Prov. 30: 6), that the need for reformation (returning to its Biblical roots) became evident to those who had the spiritual discernment to see what had taken place.
Without Biblically-qualified and functioning pastor teachers within the Church to make disciples (students and appliers of the Word of God) out of those who are born again, the people are easy targets for the forces of religion. While not all the products and practices of religion come the devil, he has every reason to promote ANY false doctrine/practice that divide the Church, deny God His due glory, or take the Church off the course of the mission for which it was created.
Although the problem of illiteracy and access to Scripture (on a global level) has been greatly improved in more recent history, the mold that established the principles and the practices of religion in the ancient world remains in place in many of the Man made denominations and non-denominational sectors of the "Christian" Community.
Demonic activity and resulting behaviors can overtly manifest itself (i.e. Mark5: 1-20). However, it is not the "Hollywood" portrayal of demonic activity, but rather false doctrines and practices WITHIN the Christian Community (1Tim. 4: 1) is the focus of attention of the spiritual combat (Eph. 6: 12) taking place during the course of the Church Age. Here in the Church Age, most, but not all (Heb. 13: 2), demonic and angelic activity takes place in the invisible realm of the spiritual realm all around us.
Religion draws and maintains its strength from the resistance to change that is commonly found and reinforced by familial, social, and political pressure. In fact, it is one's family, culture, social, and personal convenience(s) of timing and location that often determine where, how, and how often one participates in worship services, with the content and quality of the doctrine being taught and practiced being secondary. When such choices become an impediment to what would otherwise be the spiritual growth (2Peter 3: 18), the devil is well pleased.
Peace with people often means conflict with God (James 4: 4). The type of adultery being referred to in James 4:4 is spiritual. Spiritual adultery takes place when we allow other people, other things, or self to be given greater priority than God.
Sooner or later, the challenging reality of Matt. 19: 36 and/or Luke 14: 26 will become the personal experience of anyone who chooses to advance in his/her post (after) salvation discipleship.
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Whatever is gong on within a local assembly or denomination is the result of what kind of government is" running the show."
The primary means to evaluate ANY pulpit is by the "fruit" it produces. The "fruit" of a pulpit functioning under the type of government that God established for the Church Age is the SAVED souls of former unbelievers, and the ongoing EDIFICATION of those who have been born again (John 3: 5, 7).
Any system of Church government that does not promote and reiterate the true Gospel Message is disobedient to the marching orders that was given to the Church that God designed.
Any system of Church government that does not promote (or worse, discourage) the importance of daily discipleship (making students and appliers of the Word of God) is functioning contrary to the very purpose that the Church (that God designed) was created for in the first place (Matt. 28: 19, 20).
Simply handing a newly-born believer a Bible is like placing a algebra textbook in the hands of a child in kindergarten. The algebra book may in fact contain all of the information one needs to know, but without having first developed the capacity to understand advanced mathematics and having first laid the proper foundation, the child is not going to benefit by the book.
In the spiritual realm, the disciple (student) must also have acquired the the proper foundation (1Cor. 3) and the means (John 15: 5/) to take in and digest (Heb. 5L 12) the advanced doctrines of the faith. The foundation is immediately established the moment one is born gain, then having a clear understanding of the true Gospel Message. The foundation is maintained by keeping out ALL of the ADDITIVES that RELIGION would have us adopt with the idea of either "finishing" God's work of salvation, or retaining its integrity.
Accepting such things is what will cause cracks in our foundation, as the perceived need to engage in such activity, at the very least, suggests
that faith (trust/confidence) in what God has done, is doing, and will do is not enough.
The salvation of a believer is eternally secure, but it is through the cracks that false doctrines can leak in raise doubts as to the integrity of our soul structure. It is on this foundation that the soul structure (Matt. 7: 24-27) of a born again believer is built. If one chooses to use ANYTHING other than good materials (accurate doctrine) to built his edified soul structure, the structure (but on the foundation) is subject to falling apart when the inevitable storms of life strike (Matt. 7: 27).
It is the (human) role of the pastor teacher to present the accurate teaching of the Word of God, but it is God (), working along with a willing soul, that causes the spiritual growth in the post salvation spiritual life of the born again believer. The making of disciples (students and appliers of the Word of God is what the internal (inside) mission was that was given to the Church.
If the newly born again believer came from a "religious" background, there will be a period deconstruction, purging his/her false system of beliefs, before the new foundation, capable of supporting an edified soul structure can be established. It will be then that most formerly "religous" believers will receive the greatest adversity from family members (Luke 14: 26).
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By the time that many of the existing false doctrines and practices were exposed (Prov. 30: 6) by the Reformers, the uprooting that the movement required would have turned many of the existing "religious" systems over on their heads. The majority of an existing group is not usually open to such immediate and radical change.
Those who challenged the status quo were/are ostracized and written off as heretics or "fruitcakes." They were subjected to all kinds of familial, social, cultural, and political sanctions and persecutions. Where the unholy alliance of Church and State existed, they faced punishment and seizure of property from the secular government, and threats of experiencing the fires of Hell from the religious "authorities."
Satan had no intentions of losing the grip that he had established WITHIN the Christian Community of that day, and continues to infiltrate the Christian Community wherever and whenever his input will be entertained (1Timothy 4: 1).
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Secular governments run on taxes. Christians are commanded to pay such taxes (Romans 13: 6)
Tithing was the primary means of supplying the goods for the ritual sacrifices in the Temple and the logistical support of priesthood during the Old Testament dispensation. Since there are no tangible temples, physical altars, animal sacrifices, or "officiating priests called for in the Church that God designed, there is no longer the need for generating the logistical support for which the Old Testament practice of tithing had been established.
Believers also made free-will offerings for the construction of the Tabernacle, etc. (Ex.35: 21).
At the same time, 1John 3: 17 t NASB) as the rhetorical question , "...whoever has the world's goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Among one's brothers and sisters (should be) the fellow believers with whom one gathers together with to worship at the local assembly. Once born again, there is NO greater need than for the believer to have a local assembly (or ministry) where he/she can be provided with the doctrine necessary to build an edified soul structure for the execution for the true post salvation spiritual life.
2Cor. 9: 7 (NASB) teach that financially giving to the Church should NOT "be under compulsion." Tithing is a form of compulsion.
Where then, is the financial support for the local assemblies to come from?
The answer: The same place it came from when the early Church functioned under the system of government that God ordained.
Under the plan of God for the Church Age, the pastor teacher each local assembly was/is to be financially supported and logistically provided for by those who attend and/or otherwise receive their spiritual edification on a regular basis (1Tim. 5: 17, 18). The type (if any) of building has got NOTHING to do with being the type of local assembly that worships God as He desires. Many of the local assemblies of the first century met in private homes and open spaces. There was no cathedrals or pageantry that would later become a major part of religious services in the centuries to come.
The local assembly or ministry should not expect to receive financial support for work not being done. It is the primary work of the local assembly to provide the type of teaching for the development of post (after) salvation discipleship.
While failing to provide its followers with this basic need, "religious" authorities extort financial support under the threat of refusing to offer its services for such things as weddings, funerals, or religious traditions, or is some cases the fire of Hell for not taking part in their parade. Where and when the "religious"community has the backing of the secular government to promote their agenda, tyranny is right around the corner. In this the devil is well pleased.
When the local assembly is not financially able to provide a salary the pastor teacher, the pastor teacher should continue to provide his services, and take on secular work outside of the ministry for his logistical needs. There were times when Paul received financial compensation and support, and there were times when he took on secular labor to support himself.
The closing down of many local assemblies in the day and age in which we are living are signs of the times as we draw near to the end of the Church Age dispensation.
Denominations and/or local assemblies that are not obedient to the marching orders (The Great Commission, have no basis to consider themselves a part of the true Church that will prevail against the forces of evil (Matt. 16: 18). The true Church I speak of is made up of born again (John 3: 5, 7) believers who pursue the true post salvation spiritual life. Accordingly, the truth Church can be found within, among, and outside of the walls of the various sectors of what is generally considered to be the Christian Community at large.
There is no doubt in my mind that if the Rapture (the taking away of the true Chrch) were to take place in the middle of many "worship" services taking place within the "Christian Community" of our day, there would be MANY left behind sitting in the pews and standing behind the pulpits. Furthermore, when many of those left behind return home in the midst of the chaos, they will be further shocked when they discover that many who did not "go to Church" were among the true Church members that were taken home to be with God, as well.
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There is something seriously wrong in a situation where the congregation is not providing the local assembly/ministry with its logistical needs, but there is something just as wrong when the pulpit is not providing the congregation with its spiritual needs.
God does NOT want money what one does not have to give, but when one spends more money on hobbies and entertainment that what he/she "can give" towards the logistical needs of his/her local assembly, there is something wrong.
There are many ways in which a person can "give" to the logistical needs of his/her local assembly that do not have to involve money.
As long as there are such things as administrative assistants, carpenters, child/adult- care workers, plumbers, roofers, electricians, lawn care, snow removal, heating and AC specialists, audio-visual persons,and musicians AMONG the members of congregation, there should be no need for these logistical areas of work to be paid for or neglected at a local assembly.
The last time I checked, the Lord Jesus Christ did not charge me or anyone else for the Work He did for me on the cross. He did for me what no one (including myself) what no one else could or would do.
In the business world, there is the concept that successful businesses and businessmen should give back to the community in appreciation for all the blessing they have received. If the same concept were to be applied on the individual and congregational level within each local assembly, there would be few needs that could not be met.
For an advancing disciple, having a local assembly or ministry through which he/she can attend (physically or via remote means of technology) to receive his/her ongoing supply of spiritual food, is just as much of a concern to have the means to receive his next meal in the natural realm. The human body would not be satisfied with one meal on one day a week, and neither would the soul of an advancing disciple be satisfied with one serving of spiritual food once a week. Providing or contributing towards the maintaining of such a local assembly/ministry for oneself (Matt. 6: 33), and providing the same opportunity for OTHERS (1Cor. 12:) is a key part of the post salvation spiritual life of an advancing disciple.
There is NO greater provision that one can give to one's family, friends, and the entire world than the Gospel Message for salvation and/or the means to receive accurate Bible teaching for the development of post salvation discipleship. Failing to do so, is a great sin of omission.
"But whoever has the world's goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him (1John 3: 17 (NASB)?" If this is true of worldly goods that are here today and gone tomorrow, how much more so is the Word of God that not only has benefits for the here and now, but in the world to come
Note that this principle of supporting one's local assembly or ministry is not being taught here with a hidden agenda of receiving or increasing financial support for this ministry. BATMQ.NET does NOT receive or solicit financial support. The financial burden of an Internet Ministry is minimal, and this policy assures its followers that the content and presentations made here are not written or " watered down" with the concept of obtaining or retaining financial support or popularity. The method of operation for BATMQ.NET to tell it like it is and to let the chips falls where they will.
Traditional local assemblies and ministries do need the financial support of its followers. There is a great temptation for pulpits to "tone it done" a bit in order to receive the continued financial support. In this the devil is well-pleaded.
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The local assemblies, other than to provide mutual aid in times of logistical needs (2Cor. 8), were/are to be administered financially and function independently under the leadership of their own pastor teacher. It is much more difficult for the enemy (the devil) to have to attack an every-increasing number of independently functioning targets, that it is when all the target are under ONE umbrella.
The Biblical qualifications and prerequisites for the training and ordaining of future pastor teachers is clearly outlined in Scripture (Titus 1: 5-9/1Tim. 3: 1-7), and are quite different from the training and ordination received in "religious" seminaries.
Religious seminaries promote Man-made religion and appoint their "religious graduates" to positions and functions that promote the very Man-made religion that established these seminaries for that very purpose in the first place.
Non-conformists are treated most harshly for "independent" thinking, and there is zero tolerance for insubordination by anyone who holds a position and function of leadership within these "religious" forms of Church government.
Oddly enough, there are many graduates of "religious" seminaries, who hold additional and advanced degrees of secular education, that never-the-less fall short of the Biblical qualifications (Titus 1: 5-9/1Tim. 3: 1-7) to be a pastor-teacher. Others meet the qualifications, but do not function with the liberty that a pastor teacher should have in order to maintain popularity, job security, and/or denominational endorsement. I this the devil is well-pleased.
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Pastor teachers of the Church Age are NOT called to officiate on or at physical altars. Officiating priests, and apparatus are among the products and practices of Man-made religion that have no substantiated place in the Church that God designed.
Scripture does not authorize or call for ANY type of building or the use of tangible altars for the Church Age as it did during the dispensation of the Old Testament.
The last physical altar of sacrifice that God acknowledged was the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. The re-introduction of an altar is the classic example of failing to make the distinction between what is (and is not) to take place in any given dispensation. Physical altars with officiating priests were certainly a part of the Old Testament Dispensation, but are NOT a part of worship services or practices for the dispensation of the Church Age.
The celebration of the Lord's Supper is for the purpose of bringing into r-e-m-e-m-b-r-a-n-c-e (1 Cor. 11: 23, 24 ) the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ; NOT to r-e-p-r-o-d-u-c-e either one on an altar that religion has established.
Bringing an officiating priesthood and physical altars back into the picture are some of the products and practices of religion that are highly esteemed by Man (Luke 16: 15), but are not so perceived by the eyes of God.
Once the "religious" priesthood was in place, many more practices (Matt. 23: 29/1John 1: 9) and functions were assigned to it that are without Biblical substantiation (1Tim. 2: 5), and is some cases contradict Scripture (Matt. 23: 29/1 Tm. 2: 5).
There are NO tangible altars or accompanying/officiating priests for the Church Age.
The functions of pastor teachers that God ordained are clearly outlined in Scripture.
Only God can (and will) hear confessions and forgive sin (1John 1: 9). Absolution is granted by God alone, and only on the basis of faith in the atoning work that the Lord Jesus Christ completed on the cross. To place ANY further requirements other than faith in order to receive the forgiveness of God is to say that faith in what our Lord did (past tense) on the cross was/is not enough. Such teachings and practices are not merely inaccurate, but amount to blasphemy as they bring into question the integrity and the completeness of the atoning Work that was "finished - John 19: 30 NASB)" on the cross while our Lord was still very much alive, evidence by iIs ability to utter these words). He did NOT say that His work as about to be finished, or that it would be finished at some point in the future. He stated that, " it (His Work) is finished (John 19: 30).", was He was still alive on the cross.
To repent simply means to change one's mind. Repentance does NOT necessarily mean that one is sorry for having committed the sin, other than to regret that the sin had done (broken fellowship) between the confessor and the Lord. See the Doctrine of Remembrance.
At the same time, to repent, confess, but then not forsake (turn away from) from the same sin will not result in much (if any) forward progress of one's post salvation spiritual life. Such a believer is like the proverbial dog that returns to its vomit (Prov. 26: 11 ), or the the proverbial pig that returns to "wallowing in the mire- - 2Pet. 2: 22 NASB," that made him/her spiritually ill in the first place. Self-justifying one sin (James 2: 10) on the basis of all the other good things we do will not hold up in the Court of Heaven. Neither will justifying our own sin on the basis that "everyone else" (another one of the devil's lies) is doing it. Everyone is NOT doing it. Following the crowd is foolishness when one acknowledges that when it comes to spiritual issues, the majority is usually WRONG (Matt. 7: 14).
Believers who repent and confess, but fail to forsake the same sin(s) will spend much of his/her post salvation spiritual life in a revolving doorway, going around and aro0und in and out of fellowship with God, and not entering into the next stage of his/her post salvation spiritual life.
A believer remains forever saved, but can not move forward to the next level of spiritual maturity as long as there is a known sin that has not been addressed. Spiritual maturity is not accomplished by the collective time "a-t-t-e-n-d-i-n-g" Church. Spirit maturity is the result of HEARING the truth, coupled with APPLYING the truth to ALL that one thinks and does, no matter WHERE one is or WHAT activity one entertains.
Not having the desire to identify or move forward in one's post salvation spiritual life is not a big deal for a spiritually dead unbeliever, or back-sliding born again believer, but God will not allow an advancing disciple to leave such issues unattended. Note, that there will be NEVER come a time here on Earth when the next item on the God's list of things to do will not be presented to an advancing disciple. Any believer who reaches the point where he/she has "arrived" and is no longer in need of edification or better application of what he/she does know, has been greatly deceived.
Failure to forsake a confessed sin does NOT mean that future sin will not be forgiven, but that such an attitude opens the door for more intense and more frequent experiences of divine discipline (Heb. 12: 6) until the sin is finally forsaken, or one is called Home. The importance of forsaking a sin was the lesson and warning given to woman who had been FORGIVEN of her adultery (John 8: 11).
Doing or assigning penance in order to receive "absolution" and/or the forgiveness of sin is a false doctrine that is a direct attack on the completed Work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. The 1John 1: 9 forgiveness is for the purpose of returning to fellowship with God and moving forward in the plan of God.
One can NEVER be any more or any less SAVED that he/she was on the day he/she was born again, having received forgiveness of all past, present, and future sins, as far as salvation is concerned.
The sin debt of the whole world (1John 2: 1) that was PAID IN FULL by the atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ while on the cross.
To require ANY additional payment (in the form of works, deeds, or religious ritual) for a sin that was already been paid in full, casts an arguable a cloud of doubt over the integrity, effectiveness, and completeness of the Work already accomplished on the cross. Such doctrine and/or accompanying practice(s) is not only erroneous, but amount to blasphemy.
At the same time, an equally dangerous and misleading false doctrine is the concept that once saved, a person can live any way he/she wants with impunity. Even though an eternity in Hell IS no longer a possibility, it does NOT mean that there aren't OTHER consequences for the post (after) salvation sins that born again believers commit. See the Doctrine of Divine Discipline for more information.
One might ask, "How can a sin being committed here in the year 2016 have already been paid for on the cross almost 2.000 years ago?"
It was by the omniscience of God(all knowledge of every past, present, and future sin of the entire human race) that allowed Him to place the entire sin debt onto the suffering and a-t-o-n-i-n-g Humanity the Lord Jesus Christ while on the cross.
The basis of one's forgiveness of sin is the atoning Work of the Lord Jesus Christ that ALREADY took place on the cross, and NOT what the sinner can do other than placing his/her faith (trust and confidence) in the plan of God.
An ambassador of Christ conveys the messages and policies of the Kingdom of God, NOT the doctrines, policies, or practices of man-made religion. ALL believers are Christ's ambassadors, but those who whole positions of teaching and authority in the Church have a greater responsibility and accountability (James 3: 1).
Old Testament sacrificial rituals looked forward to the final sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, whereas the New Testament ritual (The Lord's Supper/Communion) is for the purpose of BRINGING INTO REMEMBRANCE the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ that took (past tense) on the cross. The basis for the forgiveness of sin has always been and will always be the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ while on the cross.
In his leadership role within the local assembly, the pastor teacher customarily leads the congregation in the celebration of the Lord's Supper/Communion ritual, but this function can be performed by any born again believer, and does NOT require a physical altar. Such things (officiating priests and physical altars) are the products and practices of man-made religion that are not a part of the Church that God designed for the Church Age.
Ongoing confession and forsaking of sin is a critical part of the post salvation spiritual life.
Pastors can help clarify what one may need to confess to God, but the confession itself and the promised (1John 1: 9) forgiveness from God is a matter between the believer and God.
Forsaking sin (John 8: 11) requires that one no longer chooses to engage in the same type of sin in the future. The advancing disciple desires to glorify God and to be in fellowship (2 Cor. 13: 14) with Him. The advancing disciple desires to avoid an increase in frequency and severity of divine discipline (Heb. 12: 6) that can come one's way when sins are not forsaken.
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Is there an altar of sacrifice associated with the Church Age?
The one only altar of the Church Age is the intangible one that is established within the the soul structure of an advancing disciple. On that altar, the advancing disciple makes daily "sacrifices" every time he/she chooses to place God and the things of God above his/her own independent desires. Such "sacrifices" have NOTHING to do with obtaining or retaining salvation, but has everything to do with the post salvation spiritual life.
Choosing to do the "right thing" will often cost us something.
The Lord Jesus Christ warned His followers to consider the cost of discipleship before making that commitment (Luke 14: 28).
If one's post salvation spiritual life is not costing him/her something in a very personal and in a real way on a regular basis, there is a good chance that one is not living the life of a disciple. Those who live a "godly" life will (not might) be persecuted (2Tim. 3: 12). Such persecution will not only come form the devil and/or his forces of evil, but will come from family (Luke 14: 26), friends (1Pet. 4: 3) and from members of the various religious organizations inside and outside of the Christian Community. The alternative governments that have been established and promoted by "religious" authorities have a long infamous history of persecuting anyone who does not conform with thier agenda, with and without the assistance of the secular governments.
The "godly life" spoken of in 2 Tim. 3: 12 is the post salvation spiritual life outlined and articulated in Scripture, and must not be confused with the many alternatives promoted in the name of religion.
Putting the interests of God and other people is not what comes "natural" to fallen man.
God never intended for Church Age believers to try to execute the true post salvation spiritual life via our human strengths. In fact, such Scripture as John 15: 5 make it clear that independent of God, one can do NOTHING in the spiritual realm.
"I am the vine, you are the branches, he who abides in Me , and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing (John 15:5 NASB)."
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Human beings are creatures of habit, both good and bad. Practicing putting the interests of others in small ways on a daily basis is a part of training oneself to become sensitive to the needs of others, and the willingness to put others first. putting them first. Putting others first, in the day and age in which we are living, will be one of the character traits that will cause the advancing disciple to stick out in a crowd and open the door for opportunities to evangelize some and edify others. The long-term goal and function of the spiritually mature and advancing disciple is the sharing of the true Gospel Message with unbelievers and post salvation doctrine for the development of the post salvation spiritual life in the lives of fellow believers.
If there is no measurable, o-n-g-o-i-n-g, growth in the individual spiritual lives of the congregation and/or in the spiritual life of the congregation as a whole, either the pastor teacher is not providing the necessary information, or the information is not being put into practice. In either scenario, there are adjustments that are in order.
There are many "Christians" who attend religious services on a regular basis, but are no further along the road to spiritual maturity than they were six months or sixty years ago. Spiritual maturity is the objective of the post salvation spiritual life. Spiritual maturity is secured through the teaching and the application of the Word of God.
Interesting to note is that the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ, not being from the tribe of Levi, would not have qualified, and therefore could not have officiated at the altars of the Temple of His day (Numbers 18: 6, 7).
The Apostle Paul, formerly known as Saul, was highly educated in the religious realm. He was a VERY religious Pharisee (Phil. 3: 5, 6). Yet, until he was born again, He perceived his personal mission here on Earth to be the destruction of the developing Church.
It was when God took Saul's "religious" zealousness and redirected his sense of devotion and zealous energy that he became one of most productive apostles in the developing Church.
Deacons have delegated authority that does not exceed the ultimate authority of the pastor teacher. It is a part of the function of the existing pastor teacher to prepare for ordination, future pastor teachers who have been gifted by God from among the congregation to replace him, or to go out and establish other independent local assemblies. THIS and not "religious " seminaries was the policy that was established in the developing Church, and THIS was the means in which the pastors and teachers of the Church Age are to be produced.
There is nothing wrong with obtaining a secular education and/or developing practical skills that would enhance one's ability to effectively interpret and to communicate the Word of God. Being educated and trained in administrative and business skills can be helpful to execute some of the duties that a pastor must address, or delegate to deacons, depending on the size and type of local assembly or ministry that he serves. Authority and functions can be delegated, but NOT the responsibility.
In the pursuit of a secular education, one must develop the ability to filter out ANYTHING that would run contrary to what the Word of God that obtaining a secular or even a "religious" education will present to him.
The pastor teacher's primary function is to study and teach the Word of God. As in the case of EVERY believer, the edification process NEVER ends this side of Heaven. It is even more critical for a pastor teacher to continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord (2Pet. 3: 18), as NO ONE can be used of God to edify another soul to a degree greater than what he has first achieved for himself. This is one of the major differences between a Biblically functioning pastor teacher and a "religious" priest. Both have to have a solid background to begin their service for God/god, the "religious" priest has already learned all what the "religious" body wants him to know and practice. The mind of the "religious" priest is closed to anything new, unless the "new" thing or "change" comes from his superior in the religious hierarchy that ordained him.
The pastor teacher, when Biblically trained and ordained will have a solid base of knowledge concerning the fundamental doctrines of the faith, but like the members of the congregation he serves, he too, is a work in progress. Being a work in progress, means that he must be open to the on-going edification process. No one who thinks he already knows it all is in a frame of mind to learn anything. As the pastor-teacher researches the Scriptures to prepare his presentations (sermons), he edifies and refines his own soul structure in the process. Just as the soul structure of a spiritually maturing believer will be in need of adjustment and change, so will the content of the presentations that are prepared by the pastor teacher.
If ANYONE reaches the point that he/she has not made adjustments in his/her position(s) concerning spiritual issues, he/she is either the first Christian in Church history to have reached the point of spiritual perfection, or has stopped growing in the knowledge of the Lord. I say its the latter in view.
One of the questions that an advancing disciple must ask and answer when making a 2 Cor. 13: 5 self-examination is examination "In what areas of spiritual knowledge and application have I made progress since my last check-up?". One tends to grow in leaps and bounds in Biblical knowledge during the earliest years of post salvation discipleship, whereas as one progresses, it more of a refining of the kn owledge one has, with an increase in the challenge to apply what one now knows with how one thinks and functions.
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Local assemblies and/or ministries can support evangelists who go out preaching the Gospel Message, but the long-term objective is to establish new and independent local assemblies, not to build an expanding ministry consisting of multiple local assemblies.
The administrative and teaching authority of a pastor teacher was not designed to go beyond the walls (actual or proverbial) of his own local assembly/ministry.
The unity of the Church-at-large is to be based on mutually shared principles of doctrine. The earthly (political) Kingdom of God, that will be headquartered in Jerusalem and rule on a global level is NOT to take place until the Second Coming (Return) of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Second Coming does NOT take place until AFTER the END of the Church Age.
If (it is not) making the devil's world an ever-increasing better place to live in preparation for the return of Christ is/was the mission of the Church, then the Church has failed considerably. Man has made much "progress" on one hand, but at a cost of human life and serious injury on the other with the progress he has made. There are, for instance, as many people seriously injured or killed in automobile accidents every year than what are lost in war. Man no sooner develops some engineering project to serve Man, that others will use the same technology for criminal activity and/or the producing of weapons of mass destruction.
There have been periods and geographical areas of planet Earth where life expectancy for human beings has go up and down, but the death rate for the human race is still 100%. In every dispensation, there have been those who greatly exceed the life expectancy rates, and those who die in infancy. It is NOT how long one lives, but what one does with the time that he/she is given that counts.
Being raised in the spiritual or religious traditions of one's culture, one can start out in life assuming that everyone has the same beliefs concerning God/god and things of God/god. Becoming aware of the eternal consequences (Rev. 20: 15/1Cor. 3: 15) awaiting the majority (Matt. 7: 13, 14) of those with whom we personally interact with or share the planet with on a global scale can be a sobering reality.
Only a minority (Matt. 7: 14) of each generation (on a global level) of the Church Age chooses to believe in the presentation of the Gospel Message, and only a minority (Matt. 7: 13) of those who are born again (John 3: 5, 7) ever identify, enter into, or remain in the true post salvation spiritual life of discipleship. All unbelievers (of the Gospel Message) remain in the same spiritually dead condition in which they came into this world, and will find themselves in the Torments of Hades upon departing this Earth, with nothing ahead of them but the what the Bible calls the lake of fire (Re. 20: 13, 15). ALL believers (of the Gospel Message) have eternal life and are assured of spending all of eternity in fellowship with God and a home in Heaven. Never-the-less, the majority vs. minority principle of Matt. 7: 13, 14 implies that the majoroty of believers in Heaven will forfeit (1 Cor. 3: 15)many of the privileges and rewards that they would have otherwise received if they had chosen to identify and pursue the post salvation spiritual life.
What (if any) Church one attends may or may not be the means through which the Gospel Message is presented to you. The presentation of the Gospel Message ( and the resulting salvation) can take place at any time and in any place that God chooses. However, what Church (or ministry) that one chooses AFTER being saved, WILL either improve or impede one's identification and development of one's post salvation spiritual life. The quality of one's post salvation spiritual life has got NOTHING to do with WHERE one will spend etrnity, but it has everything to do with HOW a born again believer will experience it.
What agenda of Church/ministry one chooses is largely determined by type of government that oversees its operation.
The Mission of the Church (that God designed) was to preserve and to proclaim the TRUE Gospel Message to spiritually dead UNBELIEVERS, and THEN to make disciples (students and appliers of the Word of God) out of those who are born again. To the extent that each generation of the Church (that God designed) does so, it continues to fulfill its mission, regardless of how many choose to accept or to reject its message.
The Church that God designed must be distinguished from the churches that are the products of man-made religion. Like most of the alternatives that the devil promotes, it takes a degree of spiritual discernment to tell one from the other.
The Church that God designed is the one that will endure (Matt. 16: 18); will complete its mission (Matt. 24: 14); will be taken up in the Rapture (1Thess. 4: 17); and will return to rule with Christ (Rev. 20: 6) in the earthly Kingdom to come. The true Church (that God designed) can be found AMONG and WITHIN the various denominations and non-denominational groups that have come along throughout the dispensation of Church Age. The Church (that God designed) can "gather together" ANY time and in ANY place, as it did for the first few centuries of its history. With the aid of modern day technology, the believers in the day and age in which we live actually have more means that ever to gather together and worship God has He desires.
"House churches" were not the exception, but the rule, during the earliest stages of the Church Age.
Some of the most elegant ancient cathedrals and modern day centers of "worship" are no more than great monuments promoting the Man-made "religions" that built them. Keep in mind that there ARE things that are highly esteemed by Man that are detestable in the eyes of God (Luke 16: 15); there ARE teachings and traditions of Man (Math. 15: 9) that amount to nothing (vanity); and there ARE acts/rituals of righteousness that are viewed (by God) as a pile of rags (Isa. 64: 6), that have taken, are taken, and will take place (1Tim. 4: 1), WITHIN the "houses of worship" during the end times. The end times is a period of time relatively speaking takes place just before the Rapture.
God evaluates the quality of ANY local assembly or ministry not by its size or the type of building (if any), but on the "fruit" it produces.
The "fruit" of the Church that God designed consists of saved, and then edified souls. The type of local assembly and believer that receives God's approval is the one, "...tremble at His Word (Isa. 66: 5 NASB)," and seeks to fulfill the mission (Matt. 28: 19, 20) that He gave to the Church that He designed.
If the one(s) in positions of Church government are ignorant of, reject, or replace the Great Commission with an alternative agenda, it is a government that is in rebellion against the One who established His Church for His purposes. Such leaders are among those who after being deceived themselves, become blind guides who unwittingly lead others astray (Matt. 15: 14). Such leaders do not do so with malicious intent, but a bullet fired in ignorance can be just as lethal as the one fired with malicious intent. That fact that there are false teachers W-I-T-H-I-N (Gal. 3: 1) the so-called Christian Community at large, or that so many (Matt. 7: 13-15) of those who call themselves Christians follow them, does not come as a surprise to an edified disciple. When it comes to spiritual issues, Matt. 7:14 teach that the majority are WRONG.
Technically speaking, Church Age believers do NOT "go to Church", but ARE the Church that gathers together (Heb. 10: 25) for such things as corporate worship. One can "gather together" in the traditional, physical, face to face with a pastor teacher, or via the many remote means of communication that modern technology has produced. Church Age worship that God desires (), primarily consists of celebrating the Lord's Supper/Communion in the manner and for the purpose that He prescribed, and the teaching of the Word of God. The celebration of the Lord's Supper is what reminds us of what God has done, and the teaching of His Word is the means through which the Church and its individual believer identifies and executes the mission it/they were given.
Promoters of "religion" are used by the devil to promote his alternatives while having the appearance of doing the work of God.
It is the responsibility of the Church government vested in the local pastor teacher to teach and promote the post salvation spiritual life and to keep the local assembly on track.
It is the responsibility of each individual believer develop an edified soul structure that can discern truth from error that comes from ANY pulpit. If the teaching of the Apostle Paul was subject to such scrutiny (Acts 17: 11), should not the same concept be applied to ANY pulpit?
Keep in mind that if one supports any given pulpit, he/she becomes a partner in what that pulpit promotes, be it good or evil.
Making the devil's world a better place to be will be an automatic bi-product of the post salvation spiritual life.
Christians are to participate in humanitarian deeds and projects (James 2: 16), but such acts of human good are not to be confused with the production of divine good. The are earthly benefits for the recipients of human good, regardless of who provides it. Food, shelter, pure drinking water, soap and medication provides the same physical benefits regardless of the source.
The fact that atheists and unbelievers can accomplish the same human good as Christians is evidence in of itself that it is human good and not divine good that is in view. Divine good requires the participation of God (John 15: 5). The days of a secular government that cannot provide the means for its people to obtain the basis essentials for survival are numbered.
There is a dark side of providing humanitarian aid that is not coupled with the promotion of the Great Commission. Establishing a functional and productive kingdom without God has been a part of the devil's agenda BEFORE man was ever created (Isa. 13:14). The devil appreciates that all Man can do to make his world (Luke 4: 6) a better place to live for as long as it lasts, but does NOT want God or the things of God promoted at the same time.
The advancing disciple acknowledges the importance of including divine good along side of any humanitarian projects he/she supports.
"For what will a man (or the world) be profited, if he gains (or improves) the whole world and forfeits his soul (Matt. 16: 26 NASB italics mine)?
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One's post (after) salvation spiritual life should make a positive impact on how one performs his/her duties and functions at home, work, or play. As a result, human good will be produced. Such human good should contribute to the betterment of the home life and the society in which one lives. Note however, that this same human good is also produced each and every day by atheists and non-Christians with whom we share the same labor, social, and/or recreational activities. Human good, regardless of who produces it, contributes to making life here on Earth better, but does NOTHING, in of itself, to establish or promote one's spiritual life.
What a Christian should be doing that an atheist or non-Christian can NOT do, is to produce divine good in the same environment that he/she shares with the atheist or non-Christian.
It is the production (or lack of production) of divine good (sharing the Gospel Message with unbelievers and sharing principles of Bible Doctrine with fellow believers) that will be the basis on which heavenly rewards (1Cor. 2: 12-15) will be received or forfeited. Note that one can share principles of doctrine via his daily attitude, priorities, and behavior. THIS is what attracts the attention of unbelievers and fellow believers alike with whom the advancing disciple interacts with on a regular basis. This is what provides the advancing disciple with opportunities to present the Gospel Message to unbelievers and to share principles of post salvation doctrine with fellow believers.
The failure of Christians to walk to walk as well as we talk the talk will be used of the devil to eliminate such opportunities.
Secular governments can involve itself in humanitarian projects for the earthly benefits of the poor, elderly, and disabled, but such programs that are void of any spiritual activity do nothing for the spiritual well-being of the population. Church governments can involve themselves in activities that benefits both the body and the soul.
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Judgement Day (for the born again believer) has got NOTHING to do with his/her either receiving or keeping his/her residency it Heaven. That issue (for the born again believer) was resolved during his/her time here on Earth (John 3: 18). All the (human) good deeds in the world, before or after one is saved, will not generate as much as a split second of eternal life, necessary to live with God in Heaven.
Judgement Day for the unbeliever (Rev. 20: 13-15) in another matter. By choosing to reject the Gospel Message or the opportunity to listen to it, the eternal destiny for the unbeliever was also self-determined during his/her time here on Earth, but with a very different outcome (Rev. 20: 13, 15). All the human good that an unbeliever produced did not result in his/her name being written down in the Book of Life. "
"and if anyone's (Roman Catholic/Protestant/Eastern Orthodox/non-denominational/Jewish/Islamic/Hindu/Buddhists/atheists/etc., etc., etc) name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15 NASB italics mine).
Here in the Church Age, we have full disclosure of God's plan of salvation, encapsulated in the Gospel Message. Believing, that is placing one's full trust and confidence, in what is disclosed in the Gospel Message is the ONE and ONLY means of having one's name written down in the Book of Life spoken of in Rev. 20: 15.
Judgment day for the born again believer is for the stated purpose of having the nature (human vs. divine) of all the good deeds revealed to him/her (by God). At that Judgment, the born again believer, will receive eternal reward(s) for the production of divine good, but there will be no eternal reward for ANY of the human good he/she produced. Any of the benefits for the human good that the born again believer would receive for his/her human good were ALL received and left behind on planet Earth.
In these passages, we can see the need to distinguish the difference between good deeds of divine good, and the good deeds of human good.
Human good, produced by both believers and unbelievers, has its own rewards here on Earth, but are not what gets anyone into Heaven, nor do they merit ANY eternal reward. It is the divine good that God did through us (John 15: 5/1Cor. 3: 7) that will be rewarded. Eternal rewards and privileges will be received in Heaven by BORN AGAIN BELIEVER who were involved in the production of divine good throughout the course of their post salvation spiritual life here on Earth. All born again believers are assured of a home in Heaven, but not all born again believers will receive any reward (1Cor. 3: 15). Much of what many believers think is going to be rewarded is going to go up in a puff of smoke (1Cor. 3:15). ALL of what unbelievers are counting on to get them into and be rewarded in the life hereafter is going to be totally rejected by God who will cast them into the lake of fire where they will spend ALL of eternity. For the atheist, who did not believe there was a God or a life after death, will also find themselves in the lake of fire.
The advancing disciple does not involved himself in the production of divine good so that he/she will be rewarded. The advancing disciple would choose to do so even if there were NO REWARDS to be received.
The world can also be made a better place to live via the human good that believers, unbelievers and even atheists can produce. But what good will all the Earthly benefits do (Mark 8: 36) when life here on Earth is over with, if either their producers or the recipients of the benefits of human good find themselves in the lake of fire as an unbeliever (Rev. 20: 15), or in Heaven as a born again believer, but without reward (1Cor. 3: 15).
"Making the devil's world a better place to live will be a bi-product of Christians executing the post salvation spiritual life, but It was NEVER the primary purpose for the Church to "make the (devil's) world a better place to live in preparation for the Return of Christ. If this were/is so, then the Church is destined to fail, indicated by the Biblical description of the world environment that will be in place in the final few years preceding the return of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 24: 22).
The true Church (that God designed) will not fail, but will continue to fulfill its mission, regardless of all that the devil and his forces of evil, inside and outside of the Christian Community, will throw at it (Matt. 16: 18).
If ANY local assembly or denomination desires to claim the divine security of Matt. 16: 18, it must function in the way and for the divine purpose that God ordained for the Church that He designed.
In the business world, there is what is known as The Mission Statement. The Mission Statement proclaims the objectives and the means through which its goals are to be achieved. The managers on all levels within the business are to function with the goals of the Mission Statement in mind.
For the Church (that God designed), its mission and mission statement is found in the Great Commission, articulated in Matt. 28: 19, 20. The stated mission of the Church (that God designed) is to preserve and proclaim the Gospel Message to unbelievers and to make d-i-s-c-i-p-l-e-s (students, appliers, and promoters of the Word of God) out of those who believe the Gospel Message. There has been no change (by God) in the mission, or the Mission Statement for the Church.
Political entanglement, social engineering, and the promotion of Man-made "religion", are among the alternative agendas that exist within the various sectors of the Christian Community. Political entanglement and social engineering can have both positive and negative impact on the environment of the devil's world. Attempts to "legislate morality" can back-fire. Bed-partnering between Church and State has led the Christian Community to some of its darkest and infamous activities. Man-made religion is the most destructive weapon in the devil's arsenal.
When the (true) Church finishes its assigned mission, it will be raptured away, bringing the Church Age to its end, and the ushering in of the final years of human history prior to the Second Coming. It is at the Second Coming that the Church RETURNS to Earth and rules with Christ during the 1,000 year period (Rev. 20: 6) of the Kingdom of God, HERE on planet Earth.
The "true" Church (*here on Earth) consists of born again believers that have been and will continue to be a part of the "Christian Community" at large during the course of Church Age. Such believers can be found within and outside of the real and/or proverbial walls of the local assemblies and ministries of the various denominations and non-denominational settings. (* The majority of the Church is already in Heaven awaiting the Rapture (1Thess. 4: 15-17), when and where the Church (that God designed) will gather together as a whole unit, and remain so throughout all of eternity future.
The religious hierarchies and boards (here on Earth) that exert authority over the pastor teachers is the product of man-made religion. When this hierarchy "bed-partners" with secular government, the end result is usually tyranny, denying the people their God-given freedom of choice concerning spiritual issues.
Throughout the course of human history, different forms of secular government haven taken different approaches to religious/spiritual issues. Some have chosen to be neutral. Some have chosen to be the primary promoter and enforcer of religion. Others have chosen to be the primary opponent to any religion. What ALL of these approaches have in common, is that they were designed to achieve their OWN objectives at the time.
The divine purpose of secular government is to provide an environment that is domestically safe and internationally secure, balancing the need of personal freedom and national security.
Christians are instructed to pray for those in positions of secular-governmental positions of authority (1Timothy 2: 1 - 3) and to pay taxes (Romans 13: 6) in support of the government's operation. Christians are to show respect (Romans 13: 7) for those who execute secular-governmental functions.
"First of all then, I urge that entreaties, petitions and thanksgivings, be made in behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in (secular) authority, (Why?) in order that we (Church Age believers) may lead a tranquil and quiet life (conducive to discipleship) in all dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our savior (1Tim. 2: 1-3 NASB italics mine)."
"For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them; tax to whom tax is due; custom to who custom; fear (respect) to whom fear (respect); honor to whom honor (Rom. 13: 6, 7 NASB italics mine)."
When choosing to take a stand (for spiritual reasons) in opposition or in defiance of secular government, those involved do so at the accepted risk of receiving whatever penalties they may suffer as part of their spiritual sacrifice (Acts 5: 29, 40, 41).
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Placing oneself in harms way by participating in military and/or public safety service can be one of the greatest (John 15: 13) ways by which one fulfills the second half of the second "greatest" commandment of Scripture (Matt. 22: 36-39).
In Matt. 22 : 36-39, we read, ""Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law ? " And He said to him, "You shall LOVE the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all mind (vs. 37)." This is the great and foremost commandment (vs. 38). The second is like it. You shall LOVE your neighbor as you love yourself (vs. 39)."
"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down (or put him/herself in a position to lay down) his life for his friends (John 15: 13 NASB italics mine). Military personnel and public safety (fire and police) personnel do this each and every day!
Those who serve thier nation on or over seas, and those who serve their nation at home in a law enforcement or fire/rescoe capacity place themselves in harms way every tour of duty.
"Love for God, the greatest commandment (Matt. 22: 37, 38) is demonstrated via obedience (John 14: 15). Love for others is demonstrated by placing the needs and/or interests (safety, convenience, desires) of others above and beyond one's own (John 15: 13). Note that there can be a serious evil (disqualification from discipleship - Luke 14: 26), if and when one chooses to please the desires of people (Luke 14: 26) involves compromising one's walk with the Lord.
Contrary to what some religious groups promote, the Bible teaches that there IS a time for war, as well as a time for peace (Eccl. 3:8). There is also a time to kill (Eccl. 3: 3).
The religius objections to the taking of lives often stem from an inadequate translation and/or misapplication of Exodus 20: 13. This is one of the many problems that is the result of "translation failure" when translating the original languages (Hebrew/Greek/Aramaic) of Scripture into the VERY ambiguous English language. It is also the result of failing to compare ALL relevant Scripture that address any one given subject, in this case the taking of human life by another human being.
If "killing" is a sin, it is a sin no matter who does the deed or orders it to be done. God, in Scripture, endorsed the taking of human lives by other human beings, with impunity, under specific circumstances (war, capital punishment, self-defense, or accidental).
When a-c-c-u-r-a--t-e-l-y translated, Exodus 20: 12 prohibits the taking of human life in an act of murder.
God cannot be God and entertain sin either by His own action or commanding others to do ANYTHNG that could rightly identified as sin. Accordingly, God could not have (as recorded in Scripture) commanded His people to go to war or to carry out capital punishment, if such things could rightly be labeled a sin.
Is there such a thing that God cannot do?
There ARE some things that the Members of the Trinity (God the Father/God the Son/God the Holy Spirit) *IN THEIRR DEITY can not do.
Among the things that God (in His deity) can NOT do , is to sin or to order sin to be committed by a subordinate being (Man).
In His deity, the Lord Jesus Christ could not sin, but in His humanity He could have, but did not (Heb. 4: 15). If failure (via sin) had not been a possibility, then such passages addressing the temptations that our faced (Matthew 4, Luke 4, and Hebrews 4: 15 ) are a farce. There is no real temptation when giving in to the pressue is not a possibility! The devil doesn't waste time or resources trying hit a target that is out of range or capability.
When one recognizes that our Lord, in His humanity, could have sinned, we will develop a greater level of appreciation for ALL that He did in order to preserve Himself as the spotless (sinless) Lamb of God. If our Lord, in His humanity, had sinned, at any time or in any way along the way, including the sin of deviating from the plan of God, He would have disqualified His humanity from being the acceptable sacrifice to atone for the world's sin debt upon the cross. If He had sinned, His sacrificial and atoning Work on the cross would not have been accepted by God the Father, and the souls of the human race would NOT have the means of salvation. This (preventing the means of salvation) was the evil objective behind ALL the temptations that the Lord Jesus Christ faced.
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War has been and will continue to be a fact of life here in the devil's world (Matt. 24: 6) until God determines otherwise, either permanently or for a period of time.
NOTHING takes place anywhere before first passing through the hands of the sovereign, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent God of the universe. If not His direct will (e.g. Book of Joshua, 1 & 2 Chronicles, 1 & 2 Kings, etc.), war is at the very least a manifestation of His permissive will.
Some of what the permissive will of God allows has always been a great test of faith concerning the existence and/or the significance of God. Truly, "...My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways," declares the Lord (Isa. 55: 8 NASB)."
The "blessed peacemakers" of Matthew 5: 9 is a reference to those who promote the type of peace announced by the Angel (Luke 2: 14) at the First Advent. This type of peace is the result of the INDIVIDUAL soul being saved, and as a result, then being at peace with God. Being at peace with God can lead to interpersonal and international peace, but it is the peace between God and the saved souls of Man that is in view in Matt. 5: 9/Luke 2: 14).
Is this a contradiction of *what the angel at the First Advent announced?
"....And on Earth peace among men with who He is pleased (Luke 2: 14 NASB)."
The peace that the angel at the First Advent is speaking of the peace that will exist between God and the individual souls with whom God is pleased. In this scenario, the ones with whom God is pleased is the ones that choose to believe in a presentation of the Gospel Message. The peacemakers, therefore, are the ones that God uses to present the Gospel Message.
Souls that are unsaved are dead to God and to the things of God, and live in a state of hostility (Romans 8: 7) with God, rather they are aware of it or not.
The Christmas angel, by no means, was announcing a dispensation of universal peace between individual souls or among the nations on the Earth.
Scripture (Matt. 10: 34) is clear the preaching of the Gospel Message will bring conflict (Matt. 10: 34) within relationships (Luke 14: 26), families (Matt. 10: 34-36), groups, and nations.
" Do NOT think that I came to bring peace on the Earth, I did not come to bring peace, but a sword (Matt. 10: 34 NASB)."
Was this a contradiction with the "peace" announced at His birth?
The type pf peace (between God and the individual soul that was announced by the Angel at His birth, and the type of peace that the Lord was speakng of in Matt. 10: 34 (between people, groups, and nations) are to two different types of peace.
The timing and means (usually via war) of the rise of one nation and the fall or decline of others (Acts 17 26) is in the hands of God, and ALWAYS with a divine purpose.
No government will be militarily successful if God determines otherwise (Proverbs 21: 31). There is no nation that can protect or sustain itself by ANY means, if God determines otherwise (Psalms 127: 1).
No government can exert its will against as much as a single individual if God determines otherwise. "You would have no authority over Me unless it had been given you from above... (John 19: 11 NASB)."
Scripture endorses and/or justifies the proactive and the reactive taking of human life when doing so in an act of war, self-defense, the defense of others, or in carrying out of capital punishment of persons duly convicted of capital offenses. Old Testament Scripture required at lest TWO eye-witnesses in order to convict someone of a capital offense, and that these witnesses be the first ones to cast the stones that put the convicted person to death.
It is an oddity that qualms about engaging in war comes from the religious community in light of how many wars were instigated, endorsed, and/or justified by the leadership of those involved in order to promote or defend religion.
For Christians to receive the benefits secured and maintained by those who serve in the armed forces, but then not be willing to do his/her part if called, seems to be a moral stand of convenience.
During the time of John the Baptist, military forces were used to maintain the peace in "occupied territories."
It was no secret that force and even lethal force was in view. It is interesting to note that when soldiers asked John the Baptist what they (as soldiers) should do, they were not told to leave military service, but to conduct themselves as believers while performing their secular duties (Luke 3: 14).
Engaging in military and/or police services as an occupation has been frowned up (and even prohibited) by certain "religious" groups over the course of history, but I would have greater concern for a nation who does not have Christians holding positions of authority in such areas of public service.
During the Crusades, warriors were promised eternal life by leadership of one of the major religions within the Christian Community of that day.
In more recent times, many international terrorists are promised rewards in the afterlife if they give their life in a holy war, and even more rewards if they take what they consider to be "infidels" (Christians) with them.
According to human viewpoint, it seems that what separates the "traitors" from the "revolutionary patriots," and the "commandos" from the "terrorists" is which side of the conflict one is on or supports. One side's "patriots" is the other side's traitors. One side's commandos are viewed as terrorists by the opposition. Targeting women and children in an act of war is NOT a new concept (Deut. 2: 34).
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Believers are commanded to show respect for those who are in positions of secular authority (1 Pet. 2: 13, 17) , even when those who are in positions of authority are "unreasonable (1Peter 2: 18).
The ONE and ONLY Biblical exception to this principle is when one finds himself in a position where one must choose between honoring God (via obedience) and honoring the secular government, when submitting to the secular government would cause one to entertain what the Bible defines as sin (Daniel 3: 5).
Under such circumstances, the believer is called to accept (Acts 25: 11) whatever sanctions he/she receives as a part of his/her spiritual duty. Note that both Peter and Paul, the (human) authors of the these principles, were both executed (martyred) by the secular government. In doing so, they "walked the walk" as well as they "talked the talk."
"Let the elders (political/spiritual leaders in the local community of that day) who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching (1Timothy 5: 17 NASB italics mine)."
The spiritual guidance of "elders" carried a lot of weight of influence in the social/spiritual issues of the local villages. This remained to be true even when occupied by foreign military forces.
One did not qualify as an "elder" by reaching old age, or mere knowledge of Scripture, but by having lived or living a life in which they walked the walk as well as talked the talk. Timothy, the recipient of these letters (1 & 2 Timothy) from Paul, was a young pastor teacher, and therefore among those who worked hard at preaching and teaching (1Tim. 5: 17 NASB)."
Being trained, ordained, and/or other wise appointed as spokespersons for God never did mean that such believers, in positions of authority, were incapable of error.
Even our Lord's apostles were "slow learners" and strongly disagreed concerning the interpretation and application of the teachings of Jesus that later became New Testament Scripture.
Scripture is clear that we are NOT to judge another s-e-r-v-a-n-t of the Lord (Romans 14: 4), but we are to evaluate (before personally accepting and putting into practice) via Scripture (Acts 17: 11), the m-e-s-s-a-g-e(s) that come from any denomination, pulpit, ministry, or pastor/teacher. This is not going to be possible if one does not have an edified soul structure that can detect false doctrine and accompanying practices.
This does NOT mean that one is always going to be in total agreement with everything what one hears from any given pulpit, but there are some issues (e.g. the means of salvation) that are NOT open for debate. One is not at or connected to a local assembly or ministry to change the pulpit. However, an advancing disciple will move onto another pulpit, if there is one that can better edify him/her. Before making such changes, the advancing disciple must make certain that he/she is not simply finding a pulpit that only tells him/her what he/she wants to hear. The change should ONLY be because the one being accepted better fulfills its function as one's source of spiritual edification.
Advancing disciples will have an ever-increasing appetite for the accurate teaching of the Word of God.
Selecting and remaining with ANY given denomination, ministry, or pulpit is just as important to one's spiritual health as is selecting and remaining with a doctor for one's medical advice and treatments. If one's doctor's advice is not contributing to one's physical well being, we (should) move on. But when it comes to taking care of our souls, many Christians are willing to accept what is available at his/her local assembly, rather than face the challenges that true discipleship will bring to him/her.
The freedom to exercise this God-given choice is not always acknowledged by the secular government. Some secular governments forbid congregating for ANY "religious" purpose. Others allow such congregating, but place "ears" (governmental agents/informants) in the congregations to monitor what is being presented from the pulpits and to report any activity that would not be in the interest in maintaining state security.
At the appointed time, there will be NOTHING that ANY doctor is going to be able to do to keep you here on Earth, and NOTHING that he has done along the way is going to matter anymore. Such things will all be left behind.
On the other hand, what a Biblically-qualified pastor teacher has to offer will not only be of significance for the development of one's post salvation spiritual life while here on Earth, but how and where one will experience eternity when one departs.
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An understanding of the Angelic Conflict answers many questions such as why, when, where, and for what reason God created Man, as well as exposing the devil and his agenda. No wonder the devil works long and hard trying to downplay this teaching of Scripture.
An understanding of the Angelic Conflict does not make the advancing disciple any MORE saved, but answers many otherwise unanswered questions of spirituality.
As of the Fall of Man, the human race received a fallen nature that is inherently hostile towards God and the things of God. Among the "things" of God is His "authority" and His sovereignty.
Human beings do not "naturally" desire to comply with authority, be it marital, parental, labor, institutional, or governmental, but never the less commonly agree the need for it if the human race is going to function and survive.
The absence and/or the abuse of authority in any relationship or institution is recipe for disaster.
Human infants learn very early in life how to manipulate parents. As the child develops, the acknowledgment and compliance with ALL forms of authority will set the stage for much success and/or adversity in the Earthly experience of the child as an adult.
After the Fall, and the introduction of the fallen and hostile (Romans 8: 7) into the human experience, there was the need to establish a system of authority here on Earth.
Whenever there is no ONE in a position of ultimate authority, then no one is in charge. There must be ONE in a position to make immediate decisions and the need for ALL subordinates to comply. Wise rulers will always be open to the input from subordinates and will to delegate authority and functions to subordinates, but there should never come a time when there is any doubt about who is in charge and who has the final say. This is functionally true in most situations.
However, when the ONE in charge assumes or is given a greater scope of authority that what is called for, it too, is a recipe for disaster. As of the end of the Apostolic phase of the developing Church, the pastor teacher (of each local assembly) was the "one" in charge, but his administrative and teaching authority did not exceed the limitations of his own local church. The failure of the Christian Community (at large) to stick with the form of Church government, and substituting it with its own "religious" hierarcrchy played right into the hands of the devil, who desire it is to re-write its mission.
Thank God, and the truly faithful ones from all the generations of the Church Age, that have identified, executed, taught, and have passed on the true doctrines and mission of the Church that God created.
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Be it in a personal relationship (marriage) involving two people, or an secular/political one involving millions of people, there is a need for there to be system of authority if the unit is going to function. The alternative is a situation in which obedience is an option, or in the worse case scenario, total anarchy, reducing the human experience to that of the animal kingdom.
In the course of human history, governments have been established, taking on such form as theocracies, monarchies, tribal chiefs, dictatorships, and *democratic republics, etc..
The truth is that ANY of these forms of secular governments can be the source of blessing or negative consequences, depending on the character, skills, and agenda of the person(s) in charge.
True democracy would require a majority vote by the entire population on each and every issue. Certainly on a national level, this is a practical impossibility, and would not establish the means for an immediate response in a crisis. Accordingly, what we have in America is a democratic republic, consisting of elected and appointed officials who are to make and uphold the laws in our behalf.
In a democratic republic, when good and qualified officials are available and are elected/appointed, the nation is in a position to prosper. When evil persons are elected and/or appointed, the nation is in a position to suffer the consequences.
Theoretically, in a democracy, the "bottom" line is that the majority rules. The spiritual concern with democracy, as a form of government, is that according to majority/minority principle of Matt. 7: 13, 14 when it comes to spiritual issues, the majority is usually wrong! When a democratic society is in moral incline, the nation will prosper, but when a democratic society is in morale decline, the nations will suffer the consequences. Be it in the case of an individual or a society, there is no such thing as being spiritually neutral. One is either spiritually advancing, or is in spiritual decline. The day to day changes are usually so small that it takes a while before either the blessings of spiritual prosperity or divine discipline become apparent.
In any form of secular government in which one person has absolute authority (monarchy, dictatorship, tribal chief, etc.), the people will either be blessed or suffer the consequences of the decisions and policies that the one person in charge promotes.
The bottom line is that although some forms of national government allow more personal freedom than others, the people can still be blessed or suffer great consequences that stem from the decisions that its leader(s) make.
Democracy is NOT the plan of God for either the local assemblies of the Church, nor is it the plan of God for the family. In the plan of God, each local assembly is under the teaching and administrative authority of the pastor teacher. In the plan of God, the husband/father is in the position of authority in the Christian home. Persons in positions of authority will take into serious consideration the input of subordinates, but the final decision, along with the blessings or consequences, are his.
As the family goes, so goes the nation and the world in which we live." - John Paul II. The devil couldn't agree more, and is why he spends as much time and other resources as he does on promoting his alternative concepts for familial authority. The male and the female roles within the family are equally important and necessary, but the ONE who has received delegated authority and leadership responsibility is the husband/father.
Outside of the home and outside of the Church that God designed, there are no gender restrictions.
The days of ANY nation that does not acknowledge God and/or does notfunction under the principles of God, are numbered. This is a universal rule that applies to all nations, rather or not they choose to acknowledge the existence and the sovereignty of the God of the Bible or not.
In a theocracy, the laws of the land and the law of its religion is one in the same. In more cases than not, such political and religious alliances breeds tyranny and abuse.
In governmental scenarios, where the Biblical principle of separation of Church and State (Mark 12: 17) is in view, this does not mean that the secular government is to be intrude in the affairs of the Church, nor does it mean that the Church is to intrude in the affairs of the State. In such scenarios, the Church and the State are to co-exist with each one respecting the necessity and the independent function of the other. This BIBLICAL principle was what, I believe, the founding fathers of the US Constitution had in mind. The concept of there being a separation between Church and State may have been a new concept in the realm of secular constitutions, but NOT in the spiritual realm.
The Lord Jesus Christ spoke of the separation of Church and State (Mark 12: 17).
Advancing disciples do not need a law on the books of Man to tell them what is and what its not appropriate behavior. Advancing disciples do not need a pulpit to tell them what is and what is not appropriate behavior, but they (advancing disciples) DO need an ongoing teaching and reiteration of relevant Bible Doctrine for the identification and execution of the true post salvation spiritual life.
The majority of the population need not necessarily be Christian in order for any given nation to receive the blessings (Matt. 5: 45) or to forestall (Genesis 18: 24-32) some of the more severe degrees of divine discipline that God can impose on any given nation or society. The Bible itself concedes that it is only the minority of each generation of Man that will choose the narrow road that leads to Heaven (Matt. 7: 13, 14). This majority/minority principle can be seen in a group as small as a single family (Luke 12: 52), or as large as an empire.
This may seem odd to those who had/have the privilege of being born and raised at a time when the majority of the people one interacted with were at least associated with the Christian Community, but on a global level, Christians have always been a minority in each generation of the Church Age.
Not everyone who attends or is affiliated with a Christian Church is what the Bible defines as a "born again (John 3: 5, 7 NASB" believer, Most are generally moral and often times very religious, but are never-the-less spiritually dead having never been born again.
Not all born again believers entertain the post salvation spiritual life of a disciple. The born again believers on the Earth during the course of any generation of the Church Age will always be a minority when compared to the global population. Those who become disciples, that is students and appliers of the Word of God, will be a minority among those who are born again believers. Advancing disciples will therefore be a minority within a minority, which is why when it comes to spiritual issues, the majority is usually wrong.
I find it personally irritating to hear politicians close their speeches with the phrase, God Bless America, and then go about entertaining concepts that invite divine discipline on our nation.
Democracy was not the form of government for either the family unit, or for the local assemblies of the Church Age. It is the husband/father who is the ONE with final (human)authority within the family unit, and it is the pastor teacher of the independently functioning local assembly who is the ONE with final (human) authority in that setting. Scripture defines the roles, and responsibilities, extent and limitations of both the husband/father in the home, and the pastor teacher in the local assembly.
Gen. 18: 24 - 32 teach that it is the presence of "righteous" persons within the borders of ANY given nation that may forestall the most severe forms of divine judgement, giving the nation time to repent of its evil ways. At the same time, there comes a time when God has had enough (Gen. 6: 3) and national judgment (Jeremiah 9:9) is on the way. There are several stages Leviticus 26: 14-39 of divine judgement, with each one being more severe than the former. The highest form of national divine discipline being its removal from the community of nations altogether.
God has sent His own forms of judgment on both nations (Exodus 7: 4), groups (1Cor. 11: 30 ),and individuals (Acts 5), but many times, God disciplines a person or a nation by simply allowing the inevitable consequences of his/ its own decisions to manifest themselves. Deny the existence or the significance of God or take God (or the things of God) out of the picture, and the nation will, in God's timing, reap the fruit of the seeds its has sown (Jer. 9: 9/Gal. 6: 7).
"Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever (good or evil) a man (or nation) sows, this he (it) will also reap (Gal. 6: 7 NASB italics mine)." This does not mean one will always "get caught" and /or punished in the way that one fears or others expect, but the justice of God requires that all sin be addressed. The next time one thinks he had gotten away with something, take a good look at the cross and what the price that our Lord paid in order to atone for it!
There are "client" nations and empires that God uses to carry out His master plan for the human race. Being a client nation can result in the nation receiving great blessings, but it also means that it is subject to a greater degree of discipline, if and when it rebels.
There have been nations with record-breaking military strength and/or domestic security forces that function ruthlessly to protect the "interests of the state," but could not sustain itself when the days of divine reckoning presented itself.
It is not necessarily the form of government that matters, but the character of the people taking or being placed in charge of making decisions.
All nations, as in the case of all human beings, good and/or evil, serve/served a purpose in the master plan of God.
As powerful as a nation or empire may be, the Lord Jesus Christ pointed out to Pilate, that neither he (Pilate) nor could any of the governments of the world) do anything to Him (or any other person or group of God) unless permission to do so (for a divine purpose) had not be granted by God (John 19: 11).
Understanding why God allows individuals and/or governments to produce the extremes of evil that they have done is a test of faith that many sincere believers fail to pass.
For the advancing disciple, God works ALL things (good and bad) for the good of those who, "...love God.." (and) "are called according to His purposes (Romans 8: 28 NASB). Citizenship in Heaven is more important than ANY citizenship here on Earth. The true Church is not confined or restricted by natinal borders or any of the divisive issues that plague the world at large.
Romans 13 tell us that there is not one system of authority (government) here on Earth that God has not established, be it via His direct or via His permissive will.
The rise, duration, influence, impact, and the fall of EVERY nation is in the hands of God (Acts 17 26), and ultimately serve HIS purpose(s).
Revolutionary wars within an empire or nation and wars of aggression have been and will be a part of the human experience (Mark 13: 7) until the Prince of Peace returns and establishes the 1,000 year kingdom here on Earth (Rev. 20: 8).
Even with that, when the 1,000 years of that kingdom is completed, Satan will be allowed to organize one last attack on the city of God, but will result in the destruction of the evil coalition via divine intervention, and the eternal incarceration of the devil (Rev. 20: 10).
History has shown that the end result of one war is what often sets the stage for future wars to take place.
History has shown that allies in one war can become adversaries in the next. Adversaries in one war can become allies in the next.
As long as there is the desire to dominate others for economical gain or political posturing, there will be wars and rumors of wars.
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In summary, secular government and Church governments are divinely endorsed entities. Church Age believers are commanded to pray for and to exhibit respect for those who are in positions of authority within both Church (that God designed) and within secular governments.
Should a believer find him/herself in a position or circumstances in which one must choose between doing what discipleship requires of him/her, and what the secular government requires, to the forsaking of the other, he/she is to choose for God and/or the things of God. Accepting the consequences of taking such stands is part of his/her spiritual calling.
Church Age believers are commanded to respect, financially support, and comply with the (one) form of Church government that God designed for the Church Age.
Church Age believers are to pay taxes for the financial support of the secular government.
Religious "authorities" have designed and promote various alternative forms of "Church" governments, assuming areas of authority and delegating functions to subordinate office holders that run contrary to what has been ordained by God. By supporting such alternative Church leaders and/or the programs they promote, become partners in evil by supporting or promoting their agenda.
In the plan of God, secular government and Church government are to co-exist, but are to function independently of each other, with each one serving its OWN purpose and agenda. The sovereignty of God is in effect throughout all of creation in the heavens and the earth. The scope of the d-e-l-e-g-a-t-e-d sovereignty of secular government is restricted to the geographical borders of its own nation/empire. The scope of the authority of each pastor teacher is restricted to the walls of his own local assembly. The unity of the Christian Community at large is based on shared principles of Bible Doctrine.
The universal rule, both politically and spiritually, will not take effect on the global level until the Second Advent. The Second Advent is what will bring the dispensation of the Great Tribulation to its end. The dispensation of the Great Tribulation, with all of its horror does not even begin until the Church has already been Raptured away. The Church will not be Raptured away until its completes its assigned work of the Great Commission.
The mission (aka the Great Commission) of the Church (that God ordained/designed), and the focus of its leadership, is to preserve and proclaim the Gospel Message to unbelievers, and to make disciples (students/appliers of the Word of God) out of those who are born again, throughout the course of the Church Age. God's people, here in the Church Age, were NEVER commissioned to establish or conduct itself as a military or political force.
History has shown that trying to establish itself as a military entity (The Crusades); to regulate morality via civil legislation; and bed-partnering between the Church and State can lead to tyranny and oppression. The Church (and its members) are to honor God by its doctrine and example, but are not to violate the free will (to make choices) that God gives to all the souls He creates for His glory.
Many of God's commandments (e.g., murder, theft, perjury, etc.) are reiterated in principle in the laws of Man The role of secular government to make and enforce laws in areas that are under its scope of authority and responsibility. Being "right" with the State does not necessarily mean that one is "right" with God, and visa versa.
Knowing what belongs to Caesar (the government), and what belongs to God (the Church) is what preserves the mutual benefits that a society can receive that acknowledges the need and purpose for each one of them, here in the Church Age.
Consider that fact that there would be no need for most criminal or civil laws on the books if the Golden Rule of Scripture (doing unto others as we would w-a-n-t others to do to us) was accepted and universally practiced by society at large. One cannot murder, steal, gossip, fraud, lie, cheat, assault, abuse, take revenge, take advantage, behave recklessly, or even be mean to others without breaking the Golden Rule in the first place.
However, putting the interests of God and/ others ahead of our own is NOT how fallen Man naturally thinks or functions. Thus, the need for both secular law enforcement and divine discipline. It is the function of secular government to enforce the laws of Man, and it is the divine function of God to discipline HIs Church.
The advancing disciple does not need for there to be a law on the books (of Man) in order to force him to do what is right. But only a minority of each generation of Man is born again, and only a minority of those born again willchoose to entertain the post salvation spiritual life of discipleship.
If those holding positions of authority in both secular and Church government desire to receive the blessings and not the discipline of God, there is a need to understand the purpose and the divine function that each one was established to fulfill. It begins by understanding from Whom and for what purpose they were given their authority in the first place.
This concludes our study of The Doctrine of Government.