When asked where my "Church" is, I still get some raised eyebrows and wrinkled forehead reactions from inquirers when I tell them that my "pulpit" is on the Internet!
Is "worship," as God desires to be worshiped (John 4: 23), really possible when using the Internet, cable TV, radio, CD's, DVD's, desktop computer, laptop computer, I-phones, I-pods. etc., to "gather together (Heb. 10: 25)?"
That's a fair question that I am often asked that deserves a responsible answer. To clear the air, one needs to be able to distinguish the difference between the "Church" that God designed and the "Church" that Man has established in the name of religion.
Up front, allow me to make it clear that I am not at all opposed to "gathering together" in the traditional manner, being seated in a building under the teaching ministry of a B-i-b-l-i-c-a-l-l-y qualified and ordained pastor-teacher.
At the same time, during the earliest years of the Church Age dispensation, born again believers were worshiping God as He desires to be worshiped without such structures, furnishings, and/or apparatus (physical altars/confessionals/ baptistries/candle stations/etc.) and personnel ("officiating" priests). This was l-o-n-g before Man-made religion introduced or reintroduced such things into the worship services or "religious" practices" of the Church Age.
Many of these things were the result of making a Church Age version out of Old Testament practices that WERE (past tense) authorized for the Old Testament dispensation (Matt. 5: 18).
Although being held in high esteem by Man (Luke 16: 15 ), such things have proven to be a garden from which false doctrines and practices have evolved and flourished.
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The divine attributes of God, have not and will not change.
Never-the-less, there has been and will be changes as the unfolding plan of God goes through its different dispensations.
The primary mission and purpose for and of the people of God (born again believers) here in the dispensation of the Church Age is clearly stated in the Great Commission (Matt. 28: 19, 20). The Church on Earth is to preserve and to proclaim the Gospel Message to spiritually dead unbelievers, and to make disciples (students and appliers of the Word of God) out of those who are born again.
"Re-introducing activities that WERE intended to be a part of past dispensations, and/or engaging in activities that ARE to be a part of future dispensations to come, has resulted in the Christian Community entertaining activities it was never designed or authorized to engage in, here in the Church Age/. Making maters worse, such activities have distracted many areas of the Church from executing the very purpose it was established for in the first place.
For a Christian to have to ask what is the primary reason and purpose for his/her existence here on Earth is a clear indication that he/she is totally ignorant of (or has rejected) what the post salvation spiritual life of a born agan believer is all about.
The devil supports and promotes ANY alternative agenda, including the ones promoted by Christian "religion."
Some of these deviations have brought large portions of the Christian Community to and through some of the darkest chapters of Church history.
There are major differences between what is generally perceived to be the "Christian Community at large" and the "Church" that God designed.
Preserving the "unadulterated" Gospel Message; promoting accurate doctrine, and keeping the Church that God designed on track and focused on its God-given mission has been a struggle from the very beginning.
The devil offers alternatives to the plan of God at every turn. All of these "alternatives" either add to, delete, or pervert what Scripture has to say. The ONE and only defense against such alternatives is developing an accurate knowledge of what the Bible DOES have to say about any given spiritual issue.
A skilled orator can make the spoken or written Word of God a-p-p-e-a-r to say just about anything he wants it to say. The devil has a long history of doing just that, dating back to the Garden of Eden.
"All of Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness (2Tim. 3: 16 NASB)," providing it is correctly interpreted and applied. This is the job and responsibility off those that God calls to serve in the capacity of a pastor-teacher.
All B-i-b-l-i-c-a-l-l-y qualified and ordained pastor-teachers go through the same ordination process, regardless of the type of pulpit he later establishes. Being B-i-b-l-i-c-a-l-l-y qualified and ordained should be the number one consideration when choosing a pastor teacher. No one should serve on a "Search Committee" who does know what it means to be being B-i-b-l-i-c-a-l-l-y qualified.
All of the Bible was written for our edification, but not all of it is for our application during the Church Age.
Church Age believers, for example, do not make animal sacrifices on an altars, even though this WAS a central part of the type of worship that the Bible authorized for the Old Testament dispensation. Nor is it is the time (yet) to turn our swords into plows (Isa. 2:4/Mic. 4: 4/Matt. 24: 6).
It NEVER was, is NOT now, and never will be the time to add to (Prov. 30: 6) the Word of God, in principle or practice.
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Many of the furnishings and apparatus found within the Christian Community in what Man perceives to be "houses of worship" were placed there to facilitate and to promote the various Man-made religions that "authorized" and installed them for that very purpose.
There are NO HOLY buildings authorized for the Church Age. In the Church Age, the temple of God here on Earth consists of the physical bodies (1Cor. 2: 16) of born again believers. 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 services.
Some of these furnishings and practices are the result of Man made religion re-introducing Old Testament things and activities after having put a "Christian" spin on them. Others are the result Man made religion having put a "Christian" spin on customs originating in the pagan world.
Many "Christians" would be shocked to learn how many practices they engage in are deeply rooted in pagan religions ans cultures. In fact, if all the traditions, pageantry, and Man-made "religious" activity surrounding such things were to be removed, what would remain would not appear or feel like what many Christians perceive "Church" to be.
Many such furnishings and many of the activities on, in, and around them are without Scriptural endorsement for the Church Age. Some actually violate the Word of God.
Discerning what is of religion (from Man or the devil), and what is from God is a critical part of the post salvation spiritual life of discipleship. Discipleship means conflict (Matt. 10: 34). Violent reactions to differences in the means and ways one worships God goes as far back as Cain and Abel (Gen. 4). There also has been and always will be hostility between the spiritual man and the religious man.
We are creatures of habit, both good and bad. The absence of such things and practices makes it hard for many "religious" Christians to accept an Internet ministry as being a legitimate pulpit.
The Lord, however, evaluates a pastor teacher (James 3: 1) and his ministry by the "fruit" it produces. The fruit that a pulpit that God approves of is saved souls and edified born again believers.
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Most people can agree that the internal (inside) part of the Church's mission (making disciples) can be accomplished by an Internet pulpit. It is not how (traditionally or via remote means of n means of communication) or where, or the type of building (if any) that the "congregation" gathers together that maters. Private homes, halls, market places, caves, and outdoor areas were among the various "meeting places" where Church Age believers "gathered together" during the earliest centuries of the Church Age.
Scripture must be interpreted in light of the historical times and settings in which the various passages of Scripture were first written. Heb. 10:25, commanding Church Age believers to gather together, was written almost two thousand years before any of the modern day means of communication (television/radio/Internet) were invented.
It is NOT the personality of the communicator that matters. It is not the means of the communication that matters. It is the quality (accuracy) and the quantity of the doctrine that is (should be) being presented that produces the type of fruit that God is interested in seeing.
Unlike the traditional setting, the "doors" to an Internet ministry are open 24-7 wherever the Internet is available.
An Internet ministry can instantaneously make a presence on a global level. This was quite a surprise to me when I first started to get feed back and "hits" from my faceless "congregation" located all over the world.
Internet ministries, as in the case of BATMQ.NET, offers the means to communicate with a pastor in privacy without the need (or pressure) often times associated with traditional face to face conferences with a pastor.
Internet ministries can function with very low financial needs.
BATMQ.NET is self-sustained (financially) and does not solicit financial support from its "congregation." There is no pressure to tone down its presentations to either obtain or retain the financial support that is a practical reality to maintain traditional ministries.
Granted, those who "gather together" individually or in groups to connect with an Internet ministry must find a distraction-free setting where he/she/they can focus on the presentation, whereas this is is not (or should not) be an issue in the traditional settings. At the same time, the perfect setting does not, in itself, mean that those present are being spiritually edified.
Internet ministries allow the attendees to re-read, STOP, rewind, and replay the material. Listeners have the opportunity to participate in the salvation and/or the edification of others by forwarding the URL or material to others.
Whenever something new or different is introduced, it is natural for Man to be resistant to the change. We are creatures of habit, and "religious" habits grow the deepest of roots.
What is traditionally considered to be "Church" is only one of many locations where a soul can be afforded the opportunity to hear the Gospel Message and be saved. God the Holy Spirit can and does make use of any time, any location, any circumstances, or any means of communication to either evangelize or edify a soul.
In some cases, one can spend a lifetime "going" to a "Church" that functions outside of the plan of God, and as a result NEVER be presented with the Gospel Message, and/or NEVER hear of the true post salvation spiritual life. Others may "go" to a Church that does the job that it was commissioned (Matt. 28: 19, 20) to do, but reject God's call to salvation and/or the post (after) salvation spiritual life.
Merely "going to "Church" does NOT mean that one is going to Heaven. At the same time, a born again believer is NOT going to develop and execute the post (after) salvation spiritual life if he/she does not "gather together" one way or the other.
Attending or otherwise gathering together for the development and promotion of discipleship is a POST (after) salvation activities. Post salvation activities are NOT for the purpose of obtaining or retaining the salvation that a born again believer has ALREADY received. The post salvation spiritual life is the means through which a born again believer fulfills the spiritual purpose for his presence here on Earth. Man, and each one of us, was created to glorify God.
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There is NO need for a tangible "confessional" or the presence of a clergyman (1Tim. 2: 5) to participate in the 1John 1: 9 confession process spoken of in Scripture. The confessional that God designed for the Church Age is open 24-7. Confession of sin is to be made in prayer addressed to God the Father in the name of Lord Jesus Christ, resulting in receiving forgiveness on the basis of the atoning Work on the cross that already paid the sin debt in full. There is no need for "penance" for a debt that has already been PAID IN FULL! See the Doctrine of Confession for more details on this point.
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There are several different means (and accompanying apparatus) for "water" baptism rituals. Some "sprinkle," some "pour", some "immerse." Some do so inside of the house of worship, some outside, some do both. There are differences of opinions as to when and for what is/is not achieved by participating in water baptism rituals. The common denominator in all these rituals is that the one being baptized is being "i-d-e-n-t-i-f-i-e-d" with something or Someone. Some i-d-e-n-t-i-f-i-e-d with a message, as was the case of those accepting the preparatory m-e-s-s-a-g-e of John the Baptist; the Lord Jesus Christ was baptized, publicly i-d-e-n-t-i-f-y-i-n-g Himself with the Work He came to accomplish on the cross; others to i-d-e-n-t-i-f-y themselves with a body of believers here on Earth, or with Christian Community at large.
Scripture (Eph. 4: 30 ) teach that at the moment of salvation when one is born again (John 3: 5, 7), is when God the Holy Spirit seals the soul involved, forever i-d-e-n-t-i-f-y-i-n-g the soul as a child of God. In Scripture, Church Age believers that were baptized in (or by) water were ADULTS who were a-l-r-e-a-d-y saved, having consciously expressed personal belief in the Gospel Message.
The automatic baptizing (i-d-e-n-t-i-f-y-i-n-g) and regenerating (Titus 3: 5) Work of God the Holy Spirit automatically takes place at the moment of salvation. Salvation is the result of believing in a presentation of the Gospel Message, no matter where or by what means, including the Internet, God uses to present the Gospel Message.
Regardless of what value one places on WATER baptisms, it must be kept n mind that in the Church Age, such baptisms are POST (after) salvation activities, and therefore have nothing to do with either obtaining or retaining salvation. See Doctrine of Baptism for more information on this issue.
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But what about the celebration of the Lord's Supper (Communion)?
The celebration of the Lord's Supper (Communion), being the ONE r-i-t-u-a-l that Church Age believers are commanded (1Cor 11: 24, 25) to participate in, was introduced during the celebration of the last Passover Meal that the Lord celebrated with Hs disciples on the night in which the Lord Jesus Christ was betrayed (1Cor. 11: 23).
There were no officiating priests (the clergy of that time period) present. The ritual did it take place in a "holy" building. There were no or physical altars utilized.
Likewise, when celebrated in the prescribed manner, eating bread and drinking wine, and for the purpose that it was intended, the Lord's Supper (Communion) requires no "officiating" priests, no "holy" buildings, and no physical altars. The stated purpose (1Cor. 11: 24, 23, 27) for the future celebration of this ritual during the Church Age, was NOT to r-e-p-r-o-d-u-c-e, but to bring into r-e-m-e-m-b-r-a-n-c-e (1Cor. 11: 23, 24) the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Individuals and/or groups can celebrate the Lord's Supper (Communion) by Communion services produced on the television and Internet . Here in the Church Age, the pastor-teacher, in his leadership role, is customarily the one who leads the congregation in the celebration of the Lord's Supper, but this function can be conducted by, or delegated to, any Spirit-filled, born again believer. See the Celebrating the Lord's Supper presentation for for more information.
The last sacrifice (for salvation) that God acknowledged was the shed blood of the dying Humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ on the last (tangible) altar, His cross. In His humanity, while shedding His blood, He not only atoned for the world's sin debt (1John 2: 2), but experienced the spiritual death (separation from God the Father - Psalms 22: 1) that each one of us would have otherwise experienced for all of Eternity in the lake of fire! These factors are what are to be brought to mind when celebrating the Lord's Supper (Communion).
The daily "sacrifices" that Church Age believers offer to God have to do with the choices and accompanying actions that we make that glorifies God, and are made on the intangible cross that we, as His followers, pick up and bear (Luke 9: 23) daily. Such sacrifices, however, are POST (after) salvation functions, and therefore have got NOTHING to do with retaining the salvation that the born again believer has already secured.
God's "temple" ON EARTH during the Church Age dispensation consists of the physical bodies (1Cor. 2: 16) of ALL born again believers. Born again believers do NOT "go to Church," but ARE a part of the Church at large, that gathers together in local groups (assemblies) for such things as corporate worship. As we are taking note of, this "gathering together - Heb. 10: 25) can take place physically in the traditional manner, and via remote means of communication.
Unlike the prescribed worship that took place during the Old Testament dispensation, the location and the type of building/structure (if any) has got NOTHING to do with the quality of worship or activity that takes place within its walls or scope of influence.. This was true during the infancy stage of the Church Age, and it is true now.
The accreditation of any local church or ministry is determined by its compliance with the "marching orders" found in the Great Commission documented in Matthew 28: 19, 20, evidenced by the "fruit" that is being produced.
The marching orders given to the Church that God designed, is made clear in the Great Commission (Matt. 28: 19, 20), calling for the proclaiming of the Gospel Message to unbelievers and the making of disciples (students and appliers) out of those who are born again. As for those who have been born again, what matters is the accuracy and the quantity of the doctrine that is being presented for the development of post salvation discipleship in the spiritual lives of the congregation.
Hebrews 10: 25 NASB does not command Church Age believers to "go to Church," but rather to "gather together." The location, type of building (if any), the method, and /or the means of communication (fave to face vs.remote) are of no consequences.
The Church on Earth consists of all the born again believers that are HERE on Earth. Most of the Church is already in Heaven awaiting the Rapture when the Church members in Heaven will be united with the members of the Church on Earth (See 1Thess. 4: 16: 17).
The tangible "temple" of the Church (on Earth) consists of the physical bodies of born again believers (1Cor. 3: 16).
The last tangible altar that God acknowledged was the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. The last tangible sacrifice that God acknowledged was the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Rather or not our Hebrews 10:25 "gathering together" for corporate worship is accomplished physically or remotely by the various means of modern technology is of no s-p-i-r-i-t-u-a-l significance.
What does matter is that one's worship of God is of the Spirit and the Truth (John 4:24). Being of the Spirit means to be Spirit-filled (John 15:5), and the truth spoken of in this verse is speaking of accurate doctrine that defines the form of worship that God desires of worshipers of the Church Age. The teaching and study of the Word of God is the internal part of the Great Commission that our Lord gave to His Church, and therefore is an essential part of what is take place in the worship services when the Church gathers together for corporate worship.
Apart from God, one can accomplish "nothing (John 15: 5 NASB)." This includes worship.
Until one is born gain, he/she is NOT "in Christ (2Cor. 5: 17 NASB)" and is therefore "apart" from God. One can choose to live and die without being "in Christ," but his/her spiritual destiny is the Torments of Hades upon departing this Earth and the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 13, 15), following Judgment Day for all unbelievers.
A Heaven bound, born again believer can be "apart from God" functionally when he/she is out of fellowship (2Cor. 13: 14) due to sin that has not been confessed (1John 1: 9), or forsaken (John 8: 11). Such a born again believer does NOT lose his/her salvation (home in Heaven), but will not be going forward in the plan of God. The length of the time periods that one is out of fellowship with God can be as brief as the time it takes to confess his/her sin to God, or for as long as the rest of his/her post salvation spiritual life here on Earth. The quality of one's post salvation spirit life neither improves nor diminishes the integrity of one's salvation, but greatly impacts HOW one will experience Heaven (with or without reward-1Cor. 3: 12-15).
The advancing disciple chooses to glorify God with or without reward, but God has revealed His desire to reward (in Heaven) those who choose to glorify Him during their appointed time here on Earth.
God is glorified (or is denied the glory) each and every day by how well our thoughts, speech, and actions line up with the. "...mind of Christ 1 Cor. 2: 16 NASB)."
Merely "Going to Church," and/or performing good deeds do NOT address sin. Sin is addressed via confessing (1John 1: 9) and forsaking (John 8: 11) the sin.
For effective worship, prayer, or service, one must be in fellowship with God. Fellowship with God begins on the day one is born again; is suspended when we sin; and is restored when we confess. If the sin had become a lifestyle, it tmust also be forsaken if one is not to shortly return to the sin that took him/out of fellowship in the first place.
Heb. 12: 6 warns of the consequences of disobedience to any ONE of the 300+ commands of God found in the New Testament.
To not participate in the celebration of the Lord's Supper is an act of wilful disobedience to the "do this" commands of 1 Cor. 11: 24, 25. Scripture warns of the severe consequences of taking part, but doing so in an unworthy manner (1Cor. 11: 28, 29, 30 NASB).
In the spiritual realm, one is moving forward or is in retreat. The plan of God calls for moving forward. If we find ourselves (1Cor. 13: 5) stuck in the same rut of a particular sin, it is safe to conclude that we are not moving forward.
Fellowship with God can be best understood by using marriage as an example. When the partners are having a marital fight, they are still "married," but there is no desire for mutual intimacy or walking in harmony until the issue at hand is addressed. With God, the issue is ALWAYS sin of one kind or another that has not been confessed and/or forsaken. The believer is still saved, but is not moving forward in the plan of God, and gradually loses interest in the things that pleases God.
To be assured that one is in fellowship with God, it is a wise practice to frequently do a personal 2 Cor. 13: 5 SELF examination so that if need be, one can make a 1John 1: 9 confession before engaging in such things as the worship of God. NOTHING (John 15: 5) is going to be accomplished in the spiritual realm if one is not in fellowship with God.
"Religious" alternatives appeal to the fallen (hostile) nature within us, as they appear to afford us the means to address our sin. Edified believers not only know that religious alternatives fail to work, but how they insult the spiritual solutions that do. That, my friends, is why religious alternatives are promoted by the devil!
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Our Lord taught that the bottom line in the evaluation of any ministry is not its self-professed boasts, but the fruit that it produces. The mission that God gave to the Church that He designed is to proclaim the true Gospel Message to unbelievers and THEN to provide accurate Bible Doctrine for the continuation of spiritual growth in the post salvation life of those who are born again.
Prior to salvation, spiritually dead individuals are incapable of understanding God or the things of God beyond the severely handicapped limitations that human viewpoint affords. Human understanding will always fall short of closing the gap between knowledge and developing the type of faith that saves the soul.
Ever since the Fall of Man, with the exception of the Humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ, every soul comes into this world spiritually dead and with a fallen nature that not only cannot understand the things of God, but is actually hostile (Romans 8:7) towards God and the things of God.
One can not be both receptive and hostile at the same time. This inherent hostility of the fallen nature in Man can ONLY be overcome by God the Holy Spirit.
Because God will NOT violate the free will that He gave to the soul, He will not overcome this impeding hostility unless the soul chooses to submit him/herself to the call of God. It is this inherent hostility that creates a mental environment that is not conducive to learning of the true Gospel, but is wide open and receptive to all the false Gospels offered in the name (authority) \of religion.
After salvation, the same hostility will once again dominate the thinking of a believer whenever a born again believer is out of fellowship (2Cor. 13:14/Habakkuk 1: 13) with God. While out of fellowship, the born again believer remains saved, but is not in a position, individually or corporately, to, "grow in God's grace and knowledge (2Peter 3: 18), or to identify/ execute the true post salvation spiritual life.
The Biblically (Mathew 28: 19, 20) substantiated mission of the 1Cor. 3: 16 Church or ministry is to make accurately communicate The Gospel Message to unbelievers, and to communicate accurate post salvation doctrine to believer.
Until a person is born again, he can neither gain nor accomplish anything (John 15:5) spiritual, in or outside of a local assembly.
The spiritual life of a formerly spiritual dead person (a condition that we all come i ot this world with) begins when God the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5) regenerates his/her dead human spirit. This is the divine response to a choice that the individual makes to believe in a presentation of the Gospel Message.
This presentation of the Gospel Message can take place at any time and in any place and under any circumstances that God chooses to make the information available and understandable through the pre-salvation ministry of God the Holy Spirit.
Just as God does not violate the free-will of an unbeliever, He does not violate the free will of a born again believer. Both salvation and discipleship are choices that we make!
Disciples are used to communicate the Gospel Message and post salvation doctrine, but only God can make such things understandable in the soul of the individual to whom it is being presented.
Just as an unbeliever cannot understand the Gospel without the pre-salvation ministry of God the Holy Spirit, a born again believer cannot understand Bible Doctrine without the post (after) salvation ministry of God the Holy Spirit.
Salvation is NEVER lost, but a born again believer will inevitably choose not to use the (John 15:5) power of God whenever he/she is out of fellowship (2Cor. 13:14) with God. He/she is simply "not in the mood!" Not being in the mood for God and/or the things of God is a manifestation of the fallen nature within us that WILL dominate our soul structure when we are out of fellowship with God.
Being out of fellowship with God is a result of post salvation sin that has not been confessed (1John 1:9) and/or forsaken (John 8:11).
This explains why one can attend (or be dragged along) to worship services for years; go (or be put through) all of the religious rituals that any chosen denomination practices, and yet be just as spiritually dead and headed for Hell as the day of his/her natural birth. This is one of the reasons that a born again believer can attend (or be dragged along) to worship services and be no further edified or advanced in discipleship that the day he/she was born again.
This explains why both unbelievers and believers alike can find themselves getting nothing out of "going to Church", or listening to the Gospel or an edifying passage of Scripture on the Internet, radio, television, dvd's, cd's, books, tracks, magazines, etc..
This scenario can also be the result of any given pulpit's failure to do its commissioned (Matthew 28: 19, 20) work of making the true Gospel and Bible Doctrine available to those who attend, log in, or otherwise connect with them. Wide-spread apostasy (false teachings and practices) W-I-T-H-I-N the Christian Community (1Tim. 4: 1) was one of the tell-tale indications that the time for the Rapture is immanent.
Religious pulpits downplay the need for personal Bible study time, knowing that it will inevitably raise questions that "religious" authorities cannot satisfactorily explain why what the Bible has to say does not line up with what their pulpit's teach or practices. The typical response, "It's our faith," will not satisfy the thirst of an advancing disciple.
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To their own hurt, many Christians choose to "put God in a box" are missing out on what could prove to be the greatest means of opportunity (The Internet)) for the promotion of the Great Commission since the printing press. Never before in the history of the Church Age has a single believer and/or ministry been given the means (The Internet) to instantaneously communicate the Gospel Message to unbelievers and post salvation doctrine to fellow believers on a global scale.
The Internet is neither good nor evil in of itself, but can be greatly used by either side in the realm of spiritual combat (Eph. 6: 12) to promote their separate agendas. The devil is certainly cashing in on the opportunity, and so will Christians and Christian ministries who perceive taking part in the Great Commission as the primary purpose for their individual and collective existence on this planet.
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God the Holy Spirit not only selects the spiritual gift (1Cor. 12) that each believer is to receive, but where, how, and when each believer is to develop and exercise it. This development and exercising of one's spiritual gift begins right where one is, and remains there until and only IF God makes the changes. The 1Cor. 12 spiritual gifts are NOT primarily for the benefit of the individual who receives it, but for the spiritual benefit of everyone else (1Cor. 12: 7). The gift (1Cor. 12) and the type of ministry (service) that goes along with it are irrevocable Romans 11: 29. Identifying, developing, and exercising one's spiritual gift is an essential part of the post salvation spiritual life.
In my i-n-d-i-v-i-d-u-a-l case, the gift that God selected for me was/is the gift of communication in the capacity of a pastor-teacher. Many of my life's experiences, challenges, failures, successes, and opportunities ALL played a part in preparing me to be where I am and will be in the plan of God until He calls me home.
No one, I believe, is ready for the mountain-top experiences until he/she has first spend time in the valleys. I have been in the valleys, and would not be surprised if the plan that God has in mind does not have a few more valleys to go through before my time of departure arrives.
The more one can be used by God to promote His agenda, the more of a target he becomes for the enemy. To the extent that God allows (with a divine purpose in mind), the devil will use every resource available to attack, distract, and destroy anything and anyone who chooses to glorify God by walking with Him (2Tim. 3: 12).
At least for the present time, the designated place for my pulpit is to be on the Internet.
The fulfillment of the Great Commission is the primary purpose for which God established His Church. The Great Commission reveals both the external and an internal work that its Head, the Lord Jesus Christ, gave to the Church. There would be no need for many of the "special group" ministries that many local assemblies spend their time and resources on if the entire realm of Bible Doctrine was being taught from its pulpit.
Scripture (Matthew 24:14) reveals that it will be when the Great Commission is completed that the Rapture takes place (1Thess. 4: 14- 17). The devil (2Cor. 11: 14), and non-Scriptural (Proverbs 30:6) religious infiltration into the (1Timothy 4:1) Christian Community continue to have much success in re-defining the purpose, mission, and function(s) of the Church. If the Christian Community at large is guilty of anything, it is guilty of operating under the influence of religion.
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Ignorance of the present whereabouts, strategy, and activity of the devil and/or his Ephesians 6:12 forces evil plays right into Satan's hand! Like a submarine, the devil can inflict his greatest damage when his presence goes on undetected. The devil is NOT presently (Rev. 20: 10) in Hell (the lake of fire) waiting for all the "bad" people to accompany him. His final incarceration will take place in a future dispensation. At the present time, he is alive and relatively well engaging (1Pet. 5: 8) in spiritual combat (Eph. 6: 12), here in his world (Luke 4: 6).
The devil has no reason to attack the promoters of evil, as they pose no threat to his agenda, and in many cases unwittingly promote it. "Evil" is ANY thought or action that runs contrary to the Word of God, be it the "evil" inside or outside of the Christian Community. This is what the deliverance from evil was made a part of the prayer model (Matt. 6: 9-13) that our Lord taught His disciples. It is amazing how many individual believers will repeat this prayer over and over, yet fail to see the very evil that they engage in under the umbrella of religion.
Anyone with an ounce of spiritual discernment can see that the devil and Ephesians 6:12 forces of evil are making use of the Internet to promote diabolical agenda. For this reason, many Christians do not desire to involve themselves with the Internet. But the wise know better than to throw the baby out with the wash water!
The function of those who have been gifted with the spiritual gifts of communication (evangelists/pastor-teachers) is to make an accurate presentation of the Gospel available for the salvation of unbelievers, and to make accurate presentations of the full realm of Bible Doctrine available to born again believers who desire to enter into and to execute the life of post salvation discipleship.
If this is what is taking place in one's chosen place or means of worship, then by all means support it. If it is not, then you would be wise to find one that does, and support it. One "supports" a ministry by prayer, talent, time, and *treasure.
*The BATMQ ministry is privately funded and does not solicit or receive financial support. Low overhead is one of the advantages of an Internet ministry.
Scripture (1Cor. 3:6/John 15:5) teach that the Biblical answer to inquiries regarding the number of souls that have been saved, baptized, or edified by any given evangelist, pastor, individual believer or ministry is zero.
It is God who saves, baptizes, and edifies. Pastors and evangelists are merely communicators of information, and their ministries are the means through which the information is conveyed. The "information" consists of the Gospel Message and Doctrine that an be substantiated by Scripture.
It is what the recipients do with the information conveyed that determines if God the Holy Spirit regenerates (Titus 3:5) the dead human spirit and seals (Eph. 4: 30) (marks for identification (baptizes) the soul(s) involved.
The work of making of the Gospel understandable to the spiritually dead and hostile soul of all unbelievers is a part of the pre-salvation ministry of God the Holy Spirit. The Work of making Church Age doctrine understandable is the post (after) salvation Work of God the Holy Spirit.
"So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth (1Cor. 3: 7 NASB)."
A human soul of an atheist can, for a variety of reasons, can choose to live by a relatively high code of moral ethics and produce much human good, yet still be headed for Hell with every other unbeliever.
A human soul can choose to become relatively moral or religious at virtually any time, but the same soul can only be "s-a-v-e-d" in response to an opportunity that the timing and pre-salvation ministry of God the Holy Spirit affords him (Hebrews 4:7).
"...Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts (Heb. 4: 7 NASB)."
No one knows if he/she has had his/her last opportunity to be saved or further edified before leaving this planet.
IF one has been "born again (John 3: 5, 7) he/she has been saved. If one has not been born again, he/she has not been saved.
Same from what? Saved from being tossed into the lake of fire awaiting ALL unbelievers (Rev. 20: 15 NASB)! One can be saved through any means by which the Gospel Message is communicated. A born again believer can be edified through any means by which accurate Bible Doctrine is communicated.
A naturally alive, but spiritually dead person is (apart from God) incapable (Romans 8:7) of understanding the Gospel Message. One cannot meet the Biblical (John 3: 16) standard of belief in something that he/she does not truly understand. Not only is a spiritually dead person i-n-c-a-p-a-b-l-e of understanding the Gospel without the enabling power of God the Holy Spirit, he/she is inherently hostile towards it.
This hostility can become overt when an unbeliever rejects a presentation of the Gospel. The same can take place when a "religious" person, or a born again believer out of fellowship with Go rejects a presentation of an edifying principle of doctrine. This confirms the principle and warning documented in (Matthew 7:6).
"Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces (Matt. 7: 6 NASB)."
The regenerating work of a dead human spirit (Titus 3:5) is the exclusive function of God the Holy Spirit that immediately takes place wherever and whenever an unbeliever chooses to believe in a presentation of the Gospel. This can take place in any location or environment, including sitting in front of a computer or otherwise connected to the Internet, if that is where God the Holy Spirit has arranged it to be.
The edification of the born again can likewise take place in the same manner.
Better to be elsewhere and focused on God and/or the things of God, than to be seated "in Church" with one's mind on something else, privately eager for the service to come to an end.
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The function of baptizing (marking(sealing) for identification of a newly born again believer, as a member of the Family of God is the exclusive Work of God the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4: 30). It s among the things that automatically take place at the moment of salvation no matter where that soul is at the time he first believes. This too can take place while listening, reading, or hearing the Gospel being communicated over the Internet.
Note that in the Bible, those who were baptized via water ritual involved believers who were adults and who had already been born again and saved. Water baptism, at best, are post (after) salvation activities, and therefore are not the means to either obtain or retain the salvation that a born again believer has already secured.
Water baptism is always associated with identification, but must not be confused with the spiritual "baptism" (John 3: 11) that is the exclusive Work of God the Spirit. Physical circumcision had been a sign of Identification of one with the Jewish Community, and many of the first generation of Church members were Jews., It can be seen where the concept of water baptism was so easily incorporated into the public rituals of the early Church. Water baptism remains to be practiced in many denominations when one chooses to be "identified" with specific a specific groups of believers.
Water baptism rituals do NOTHING provide the means of salvation or to improve the integrity of the salvation that has already been received.
In the ancient world, a wax seal was placed on a scroll insuring the integrity of the contents, thereby both revealing and affirming the authenticity, integrity of its contents, as well as providing the recipients with the identification of the one sending/sealing it. This practice continued in use in the postal system of England, and it where such concepts of placing an official seal on documents from notaries public originate.
In the spiritual realm, God the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13) seals (marks for identification) the soul of a born again believer at the moment of salvation, and remains (Romans 14:4) sealed (identified) as a child of God until the day of redemption (Ephesians 4:30). This is the "one" baptism spoken of in Ephesians 4:5, must be distinguished from the water baptism rituals that are also recorded in Scripture, but serve different purposes.
The baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ publicly identified Him with the Work that He came to fulfill. Needless to say, He was not in need of salvation, nor was He in need to have His human spirit regenerated that takes place when we are "baptized by the Holy Spirit. .
Those who received the baptism of John publicly identified them with John's message of repentance (change of mind) that prepared them to receive the Gospel Message.
Paul was baptized to confirm that in spite of his pre-salvation reputation as one of the Church's chief persecutors, he was fully accepted by God (and therefore should be accepted by the Church), being commissioned to play a significant role in the establishment of the Church here on Earth. Ananias was sent to Paul and laid his hands on Paul, healed him of his physical condition (temporary blindness). Paul, having already been born again, was then baptized (Acts 9: 10-19) by water by Ananias. Later on, Paul made it clear that although he was greatly used of God to establish the Church here on Earth, he was NOT sent to baptize (1Cor. 1: 17) believers (in water).
"But Christ DID NOT send me to baptize, but to preach the Gospel....(1Cor. 1: 17 NASB)."
At the same time,God used Paul to convey the importance of the O-N-E (Eph. 4: 5) baptism that is the Work of God the Holy Spirit, articulated in Eph. 4: 30, that takes place at the moment of salvation when one is born again!
Those who were baptized AFTER they were saved during the formative years of the Church was for the purpose of publicaly identifying different Gentile groups as being equal members of the Church that God designed.
Note that those who received these various types of baptisms were already saved, having made a confession of faith in the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This baptizing Work of God the Holy Spirit that takes place at salvation is immediate and automatic. Salvation requires NO further action that what automatically takes place at the moment of salvation. A person can certainly be evangelized, be born again, and baptized by God the Holy Spirit via an Internet ministry.
No product/practice/ritual of religion has ever, is not now, or ever will increase nor decrease the integrity of the salvation that was already received on the basis on FAITH in the Person and the Work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Such faith requires a conscious choice being made on the part of the soul involved.
Note that if and when a soul departs prior to ever reaching an age or stage of moral accountability, that soul is not lost. The soul of David's child went to be with the Lord (2Samuel 12:14/23). David looked forward to that reunion when his (David's) time to depart arrives.
A pastor teacher is a minister of the Word of God. Accordingly, he can not promote as dogma (something that is incontrovertibly true) anything that cannot be substantiated by Scripture. He can, after making this point clear, point to the character and past actions of God to offer plausible answers to questions that inevitably arise regarding the "secret things (Deut. 29: 29 NASB)" of God.
The "secret things of God" is not a deficiency in the Word of God, but are of divine design in order to generate and require faith on the part of the believer. The Bible tells us all that we need to know, but not all the details of what we may want to know.
In ALL dispensations, one establishes a relationship with God by placing personal faith in God to the extent that God chose to make Himself known to the individuals involved (Gen. 15: 6).
The ones (Church Age believers) that have given the most "information" and opportunities are the most accountable (Luke 12: 48). Spiritual information of the Church Age consists of the Gospel Message for salvation, and Bible Doctrine for the development of post (after) salvation discipleship. At least here in the USA, most Church Age believers have the daily opportunity to gather new or refine the information they already have. Internet ministries such as BATMQ provides such information 24-7. Spiritual ignorance is a choice we make.
Know that Scripture couldn't make it any more clearer, that those who ARE given the opportunity to hear and to respond to the Gospel, are equally assured of Heaven or the lake of fire, based upon their chosen response to it (John 3: 18).
Fallen Man prefers to place his faith (trust and confidence) on tangible things, and not on the intangible things of God. Tangible things can be confirmed through our senses, whereas the intangible can only be confirmed by faith.
The concept of attempting to secure, retain, or restore a relationship with God (and in doing so receive his earthly and eternal blessings) through humanitarian deeds and products of religion appeals to the arrogance and ignorance of the fallen nature in Man. These alternative counterfeits are appealing because they a-p-p-e-a-r to provide Man with the means to address his spiritual needs, rather than do so by placing one's faith (trust and confidence) in the Work that God has done, is doing, and will do for him/her.Like all counterfeits, they must appear and be accepted as the real thing if the deception is going to succeed.
BOTH the true Gospel Message and false Gospels, as well as true and false doctrines can be found, practiced, and promoted by both traditional and Internet pulpits.
When all is said and done, it s NOT the means or method (traditional/Internet/radio/television/ etc.) of communication that matters. What does matter, is the purity of the Gospel Message presented for salvation, and the quantity and the accuracy of the post (after) salvation doctrine for the development of discipleship that establishes ANY given pulpit's credibility with God.