“He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters (Matt. 12: 30 (NASB).”
Discipleship is a 24-7 lifestyle.
Anytime and in any place where there is human interaction involving at least one born again believer, there is unseen spiritual activity taking place.
This spiritual activity involves the “scattering” or the “gathering” being spoken of in Matt. 12: 30 NASB.
What the born again believer must ask him/herself is, “I am one who gathers or one who scatters.”
As in the case of any other type of spiritual activity, there is no neutrality. One is either on one side of the fence, being used by God, or on the other side of fence, being used by the devil.
One potentially g-a-t-h-e-r-s when he/she is used of God to present the Gospel Message to an unbeliever, or when he/she is used of God to share a principle of Church Age doctrine with a fellow believer.
I say potentially because there is no gathering if the recipient chooses to reject the information in which he/she is presented.
The advancing disciple or ambassador is NOT responsible for the response that recipients choose to make, but IS responsible to be prepared and to respond to all (1Pet. 3: 15) opportunities, so that the inquirer can make an informed decision.
To commands to be prepared and to respond to opportunities to evangelize (present the Gospel Message) unbelievers and/or to edify (educate) fellow believers are NOT suggestions. They are among the 300+ commandments that apply to all Church Age believers.
Discipleship, being the STUDY and the APPLICATION of the Word of God, begins with the edification of oneself, but with the long term objective of evangelizing and/or edifying others. It is such a believer that is commended in Mark 4: 20.
In Mark 4: 20 NASB (italics mine) we read, “And those are the ones on whom seed (the Gospel Message/post salvation doctrine) was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it (for themselves), and bear fruit (other saved/edified) thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold (souls).” Mark 4: 30 NASB.
As in the case of a team member in a torch relay race, one cannot pass onto others something that he/she does not first have a firm grasp of for him/herself. Developing a firm grasp (understanding) of the true Gospel Message and post salvation Church Age doctrine is the preparation stage.
One s-c-a-t-t-e-r-s when he/she is used by the devil to promote a false Gospel (Gal. 1: 8/2Cor. 11: 4), and or promotes false Church Age doctrines and practices (Mark 7: 18/Matt. 16: 12/2Tim. 4: 3,4/Acts 20: 30) among fellow believers.
The “religious” world is full of false Gospels, and false doctrines/practices, being promoted by false teachers (1John 4: 1). This scenario will only get worse as we reach the end of the Church Age dispensation (1Tim. 4: 1).
A false Gospel is one that fails to acknowledge the deity (divine nature) and the unique humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ, and/or the atoning Work that He accomplished while physically alive ON the cross. A perceived need to do anything more (to be saved) than to believe (place full trust and confidence) in the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ is a clear indication that one does NOT have a firm grasp on the true Gospel Message, and has likely accepted one of the many false/counterfeit Gospels (2Pet. 2: 1-3/1John 4: 1-3/Romans 16: 17/Col. 2: 8/1Tim. 4: 1) that are promoted in the name (authority) of Man-made religion.
It was while the Lord Jesus Christ was ALIVE and ON the cross He announced that “it” was finished (John 19: 30). He did NOT say that “it” was about to be finished, or that “it” would be finished at some point in the future.
The “it” that was finished was the atoning work, making full payment for the sin debt of the entire human race (1John 2: 2). God the Father would not be true to His own character if He required ANY further payment for a sin debt that was stamped PAID IN FULL by the very shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The uncertainty and doubts that even His apostles and disciples experienced (PRIOR to His resurrection and appearances) makes it clear that, at the time, they failed to understand what He meant when He made these Psalms 22: 1/John 19: 30) statements from the cross. Due to the false threats generated by religious authorities (Gal. 3: 1), many Church Age believers are still confused and uncertain of their own salvation. Gal. 3: 1 and 1Tim. 4: 1 reveal the demonic activity involved.
The period of His spiritual death, that is His spiritual separation from God in His humanity, involved the last three (of 6) hours that He spent ON the cross.
Our Lord did indeed shed His blood to atone for our sin debt, but equally important to understand His spiritual death (in our place) was taking place in the spiritual realm as He did.
It was around noon that He cried out, “My God, My God, why has thou forsaken Me…”, citing the 22nd Psalm, that foretold of many of the details concerning His crucifixion centuries before.
He was NOT asking God anything, as He knew full well what and why was taking place, as He came to Earth for that very purpose.
His physical death and resurrection was part of the plan of God, as this was the means through which He received His resurrected body, enabling to Him to move forward in the plan of God as the appointed tome for His ascension (Luke 9: 51) approached.
In addition, His resurrection and appearances provided tangible evidence that the atoning Work that He (already) performed ON the cross had been accepted as full payment for the world’s sin debt.
* * * *
A false/counterfeit Gospel involves any teaching that suggests or requires A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G more than placing one’s faith (trust and confidence) in what God accomplished on the cross, in order to be saved (born again – John 3: 5, 7, 16, 18). The counterfeit gospels can be more dangerous, as they are promoted as being the real thing. In order for any counterfeiting operation to succeed, the counterfeit must be accepted as genuine. The increased danger is that those who accept them believe that all is well between them and God, when nothing could be farther from the truth.
A false doctrine is ANY teaching that adds to, perverts, or contradicts Scripture.
A false practice is what one does to comply with a false doctrine.
If one promotes the true Gospel Message and/or accurate post salvation doctrine, he/she is a gatherer.
If one promote false Gospels, false teachings, or false practices, he/she is one who scatters.
* * *
The gods (note the use of small “g” and the plurality) spoken of in Psalms 96 NASB consist of all the many gods that Man has engineered and/or acknowledges as being the one true god. To take the position that we all acknowledge and worship the same God is another great deception that the devil promotes.
With each false Psalms 96 god, there are different means through which the deceived soul will attempt to secure earthly and eternal blessings, but share commonly accepted principles of morality opposing such things as murder, theft, and sexual immorality.
Most of these religions teach that it is via acknowledging their god as the one true god, coupled with doing good deeds that one “earns” the earthly and eternal blessings that their chosen god has to offer. There are many who consider themselves to be Christians that follow the same reasoning.
In truth, the issue of how one is saved and how one remains saved, is what separates Christianity from the Psalms 96 religions of the world, and this is what separates Christianity from “Christian” religion.
Old Testament believers were saved by placing their personal faith in the information that God made available to them during that period of history (Gen. 15: 6). Note however, that the coming of a Savior can be traced throughout Old Testament Scripture (e.g. Gen.3: 15/Deut. 18: 18, 18/Psalms 22/Isa. 53, etc.).
"...And from everyone who has been given much shall much be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more (Luke 12: 48 NASB)."
Accordingly, for Church Age souls to acknowledge God the Father (as dd the ancient Hebrews), but reject God the Son (The Lord Jesus Christ), results in eternal damnation (John 3: 18/ John 14: 6/Rev. 20: 15). Rejection of the Lord Jesus Christ takes place if one chooses to disbelieve in His deity (divine nature) and/or the atoning Work that He accomplished in His humanity.
There are many religions that deny the deity (divine nature) of the Lord Jesus Christ. Many view Him as being a great profit (spokesman for God), but not God in the flesh.
Some “Christian” religions acknowledge His deity (divine nature), but reject the concept that faith in what He did is enough to be saved, or to remain being saved. This is evidenced by all the required religious activity that they promote to finish the Work that He started on the cross, or to retain the salvation they "hope" to receive.
Many so-called Christian religions promote the concept that in one way or another, salvation is earned and retained though human conduct and participation in “religious” activity. Such teachings and practices scatter the unity of the family of God.
On the other hand, genuine Christianity requires belief (placing one’s trust and confidence) in the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ in order to born again (John 3: 5, 7), thereby securing an eternal relationship with God. This relationship begins at the moment of salvation, here on Earth, and continues on into eternity when the saved soul departs this earth. The quality of this relationship here on Earth will be determined by the time spent in fellowship with God.
Belief in the “Person” of the Lord Jesus Christ means to acknowledge His deity (divine nature) and His humanity.
Unlike God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, the Lord Jesus Christ is unique in that He is both God and Man in one Being. The sinless humanity that the Lord Jesus Christ took on at the First Advent (Christmas) was the same type of humanity that Adam had prior to the Fall of Man. It is a worthwhile study to take note when He functioned in His deity (e.g (Luke 8:24, 54), and when He functioned in His humanity (e.g. Luke 4/Matt. 4/ Psalms 22) in order to complete His part in God's plan of salvation for the human race. Failing to make these distinctions opens the door to many false teachings (disputing His deity), and a tendency to diminish all that He endured in His humanity in our behalf in order to fulfill His part in God's plan of salvation.
Belief in the Work is to acknowledge the atoning activity that He provided while ON the cross.
IF and when one truly believes (placing full trust and confidence) in the Work that he completed on the cross, he/she will then see the error in ALL religious teachings and activities that promote the need to engage in Man-made religious activity in order to be either obtain or to retain salvation.
If you are "sure" and truly believe that you paid last month's rent, would you send in more cash "just in case"? Of course not.
* * *
There is a relationship between salvation and discipleship, but one can not engage is discipleship until after he/she is first saved.
At the same time, success in discipleship is NOT a requirement to retain the salvation that a born again believer has already received. Failure in the realm of discipleship can result in divine discipline (Jonah 1/Heb. 12:6) here on Earth, and loss of some of the 1Cor. 3: 12-15 rewards and Rev. 2 & Rev. 3 privileges that he/she would have otherwise received in Heaven. Never-the-less, the salvation of a born again believer remains secure (1Cor. 3: 15).
Christianity teach that there is One Godhead, consisting of three divine personalities. There is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The eternal nature and the plurality of the Godhead is clearly seen is such passages as Gen. 1: 26/Psalms 110: 1/and John 1: 1.
God the Son, like God the Father and God the Holy Spirit have always, does now, and will forever be a part of the Godhead. The Person of the Lord Jesus Christ was the result of God the Son taking on a human body in order to fulfill God’s plan of salvation for Mankind.
Christianity teach that NO ONE can EARN eternal life. Salvation is a gift from God that He bestows on the people of faith.
Christianity teach that good deeds carried out with the right motivation is a good indicator that one has been saved, as one identifies and engages in post salvation discipleship for the glory of God.
At the same time, Christianity makes it clear that it was NOT such good deeds that saves the soul, and it is not through good deeds that salvation is retained.
Christianity rejects the significance of Man-made “religious” rituals. Furthermore, advanced disciples can see the blasphemous nature of such activity, as their mere existence sends out a message that faith in the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ is not enough. This is not only an attack of the integrity of the Work, but on the character and the nature of the Lord Jesus Christ who performed it, and God the Father who accepted it as payment in full.
Within the realm of “Christian religion” there are many false Gospels, false doctrines, and evil practices that have evolved within the so-called Christian Community at large. This is especially true after 300AD and beyond when the so-called Christian Community was flooded with pagans, and practices whose roots originated in the pagan world, after having a “Christian” spin place on them.
The phrase, “Christian religion,” is actually an oxymoron. An oxymoron is a phrase containing which the two terms are antithetical (do not go along with or contradict each other).
Christianity and Christian religion are antithetical. Christianity came from God. Christian religion came from Man.
The devil, knows the end result (John 3: 18/Rev. 20: 15) of practicing religion. He is aware of the fear and intimidation that religion can generate.
What does this have to do with our study of gathering or scattering?
It is sin and evil that takes the born again believer out of fellowship (2Cor. 13: 14) with God. It is sin and evil that separates Man from Man.
Sin is more easily identified than evil.
Unless one is mentally insane, one knows in his/her heart of hearts when what we are doing what is essentially wrong. We may or may not know the precise theological terminology, but we instinctively know when are involved in what the Bible labels as sin (Romans 1: 18).
Especially when sin is providing for us what we want at the moment (), fallen Man can be quite apt at rationalizing away or otherwise self-justifying our participation in sin. But in our heart of hearts we still know when what we are doing (or not doing) is grieving the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4: 30).
Evil, on the other hand, such as the evil promoted by Man religion, is not so easily discerned. It can even have the appearance (Gen. 3: 6) of being good (Luke 16: 15/Matt. 15: 9) or have something beneficial to offer.
It is interesting to note that in what is commonly referred to as the Lord's prayer, it is evil that we were being taught to seek deliverance from. Exposing evil gathers. Engaging in evil scatters.
Many who promote religion, including Christian religion (as opposed to Christianity), are unwittingly promoting the devil’s agenda. When spiritually challenged, they will react like the Jews of (John 8: 59).
Religion and violence have been bed-partners throughout the course of human history. The first recorded murder in human history was over two different approaches with the idea of pleasing God (Gen. 4).
When people can’t attack the message, they attack the messenger.
Like most religious persons, these John 8: 59Jews thought that they had the “inside track” with God.
No one (Pope, bishop, priest, deacon, pastor, nun, minister, Bible teacher) is any “closer” to God than any other born-again believer. The same Godhead that indwells one born again believer (1Cor. 2: 16), equally indwells them all.
At the same time, no born again believer is any further out of fellowship (2Cor. 13: 14) than anyone else when he/she sins. The specific sin is not the issue, as sin is sin in the eyes of God (James 2: 10).
There are than more than 300 ways in which a Church Age believer can engage in some form of mental, verbal, or overt sin. To make it simple, all one has to do is to run the issue through the double filter of (Eph. 4: 30/ ) by ask oneself (#1) if what it is one is about to do (or not do) going to offend God, and (#2) iis what one is about to do what I would want others to do me if the the tables were turned the other way. If one is not offending God and is doing what he/she would want others to do to oneself if the tables were turned, one is probably making the right choice.
It is not too far down the road of post salvation discipleship that one discovers just how frequently we do in fact sin. What at one time, we considered to be "no big deal" is exposed for what it is in the eyes of God. James 2: 10 make it clear that when we break one of God’s laws, we stand as guilty before God as if we have broken them all.
We all have the ongoing daily (if not moment to moment) need to confess (1John 1: 9) our sin, receive forgiveness, and restore fellowship with God (1John 1: 9) if we are to move forward in the plan of God.
If our sin has become a lifestyle or pattern, there is the need to forsake (John 8: 11) the same sin. Otherwise, we will spend much of our post salvation spiritual life out of fellowship with God, and never moving forward in the plan of God.
It’s not how much of God one has, but how much influence/control that God has over you that determines one’s usefulness to either God or the devil. If one is not gathering (for God), he/she is scattering for the devil.
* * * *
Developing the spiritual discernment to separate truth from error is a fundamental part of discipleship. When one promotes the truth, he/she will find him/herself toe to toe with the devil or his/her spokesperson every time.
One can scatter by what he/she doesn’t say or do. . One’s silence is often interpreted as at least tolerance, if not approval, emphasizing the “for or against” principle of Matt. 12: 30. Not to take a stand for God (or the things of God) is to take a stand for the devil.
Moral decline, be it on the individual or on the society level, follows a clear pattern. What is tolerated becomes accepted. What is accepted becomes endorsed. Just because society is going down the toilet does not mean that we have to go with the flow!
* * * *
I have found that long before the (1Pet. 3: 15) opportunity to share the Gospel Message with an unbeliever, or to share an edifying passage of Scripture with a fellow believer presents itself, God has been using the d-a-i-l-y testimony of the advancing disciple's daily lifestyle to draw the attention of the one(s) He is preparing to receive Gospel Message or an edifying passage of Scripture.
No daily testimony, no opportunities!
During these same periods of preparation, the devil, primarily through his forces of evil, will do all he can to destroy the advancing disciple’s credibility in the eyes of the one God desires to save or edify.
When we compromise our own walk with the Lord, we not only hurt ourselves, we diminish our usefulness in the plan of God. Again, we see the principle that if we are not gathering, we are scattering.
Those without spiritual discernment will fail to see that, in the spiritual realm, each and every moment of each and every day, the born again believer is involved in the gathering or scattering process. Each and every day we are either setting the stage or presenting information (Gospel Message/Bible Doctrine), or we are destroying future opportunities to do so.
The question that each one of us must ask and answer when making our 1Cor. 13: 5 SELF examinations is this:
"Am I one who “gathers” or one who “scatters.”